The Scion Of Artemay
[This is the start of the story. Please read the rules for the event before posting]
Worn out and numb, Horace Kylin collapsed onto his bed. While his body tried to regain some sort of energy, his mind continued to race at a million light years a second, but all the thoughts centered around one big question: just what was he doing here, in the Dark Brotherhood?
He had Force potential, or so said the Headmaster. After all, Horace had made the trek across Lyspair’s harsh surface, and he had made it through the Halls of Separation. He had felt the Force, he had even managed to use it, but here at the end of his first full month at the Shadow Academy, he was the last remaining member of his class. In some ways, this was good, as many had died in the training process. In other ways, this was bad, as those who hadn’t died had left . . . graduated was the word some had used, but Horace wasn’t certain if that was the right word. At least he had the room to himself.
What was he doing here, surrounded by all the negative emotions? The fear, the anger, the hate, and the lust for power permeated the entire building, and one did not need Force affinity to see any of it. Apprentices bickered constantly, tried to bully the guards around, and one had even tried to assassinate the Headmaster, in some convoluted thought process involving the Rule of Two. The last anyone had seen of that apprentice was the body flying into the ocean below. Horace kept to himself, studying as best he could the Force. He wasn’t certain if he was “dark” but he had to admit that there was a certain appeal to it. Not so much in all the negative emotions, but in the abilities it could give. What had the Headmaster said? Horace searched his mind, finally settling on the words. “There is more to the Force than being able to use it; rather, you must know how, the when and where, to use it.”
But why was he here? Horace could identify one very good reason. His father had brought him here; his father, the big bad Dark Jedi that no one seemed to know anything about. His father, the man had kept his face hidden from his son, who castigated his son for being the mistake of a [Expletive Deleted]; his father, who had told him never to speak to him again. Apparently, Horace wasn’t good enough to be killed; no, undoubtedly, his father enjoyed the suffering Horace was going through, especially since his last name was that of his mother. Having a living father made Horace unique amongst his peers, if one believed the claims made by other students. So many claimed to have killed their parents, or watched Jedi kill them, that Horace highly doubted that many of them had actually done what they claimed. They were probably just kids who had run away.
Horace’s mind drifted back to his core question. He could not fathom why he was still at the Shadow Academy. He had the innate Force ability, but his use of the Force, for so simple a task as lifting a block, was clumsy. He was surprised he hadn’t been killed, yet. Horace cursed himself. He had no business being here, in trying to learn to use the Force. He decided that, in the morning, he would petition the Headmaster to release him from his training, and give him a job. Perhaps the Shadow Academy Security Force had an opening for him. Suddenly, the door chime whistled. Slowly getting up, Horace made his way over to the door. Opening it, he found himself face to face with a grey protocol droid.
“Good evening, Master Kylin,” said the droid. “I was instructed to give this to you.” The droid handed Horace a small package.
“Who sent this?” asked Horace.
“I’m afraid I do not know,” replied the droid. “Perhaps you will find a note in the package.” Horace mumbled a thank you and closed the door. Returning to his bed, Horace sat down, leaning against the cool durasteel wall, and he ripped the wrapping paper off of the package. In it, he found an old book, its leather cover cracked. The edges of the pages were discolored. The title was faded, but Horace managed to make it out: The Scion of Artemay. It was a strange title and the name “Artemay” did not sound familiar. His mind still restless, though questioning why some stranger would send a book to him, Horace opened the book and began reading. . .
Two hundred fifty years before the Battle of Yavin, there was a Jedi, one among many. This is his story.
The tension was tangible in the room, Padawan Celina Pasari noted. Her master, Aladeus Cinn, stood in front of her, his attention solely focused on the man and his wife. In the woman’s arms was a child, no more than three months old.
“You ask a great deal from us, Mr. Cinn,” said the man. “My wife and I tried for many years to have a child and now that we have him, you want to take him away.”
“I have said this before and I will say it again,” said Aladeus. “I am not here to take the child. I am here to ask for him to be handed over to the care of the Jedi, so that this gift of yours may be shared with the entire galaxy. Think of it: your small world of Cormar, indeed your village, having just joined the Republic, could give such a great gift. Would you rather he stays here, where his talents will go to waste?”
“Mr. Cinn,” said the wife, “you must understand. Our boy will have loving parents, neighbors, and he will live in a safe community.”
“Your community may be safe, but the galaxy needs some to sacrifice for its safety,” replied Master Aladeus. “The life of a Jedi is not easy, but it is one of service, one of great rewards in the end. Your son can help millions of people.”
“And what of those Sith we have heard about?” asked the man. Aladeus cut him off.
“The Sith do not exist any more,” said Aladeus. “And, once Celina passes her trials, I will personally train the boy. Not one of my apprentices has ever fallen to the Dark Side.”
“You, girl, what do you have to say?” asked the father, turning his attention to Celina. “Have you found your life as a Jedi to be rewarding? Is it everything Mister Cinn claims it is? Is it better than what I can offer my son here?” Celina looked at Aladeus who, without turning around, nodded his head. Celina cleared her throat and opened her mouth to speak
“Xander Artemay!” roared the deep voice of Master Aladeus, causing Xander to bolt up from his bed, shaking him out of the dream and back into reality. He felt the hum of the engines and noted they were still in hyperspace. Xander shook his head; indeed, for the past three of Xander’s seventeen years, the dream had come and gone. This wasn’t the first time he had had this dream, but it had never finished. Master Aladeus had told him to ignore it, that it was just his mind playing tricks on him. And he had never been able to get in touch with Celina Pasari, though they had met just once. She was a Jedi Knight and was off on some mission. Some mission, just like he and Master Aladeus were, Xander noted. “Xander!” roared the voice again. On such a small ship, using the comm system was just as effective as yelling. Getting out bed, Xander clipped his lightsaber to his belt.
“Coming, Master,” Xander called back. Soon, he figured, they would arrive on Bassadro and get down to the business of mediating a mining dispute. Just like the last one they had mediated on some other world. Xander found himself hoping for some adventure this time, but he quickly pushed the thought away. Master Aladeus was not fond of such thoughts. With one final breath, Xander made his way to the cockpit.
The far off star light the mining colony of Bassadro just enough so as to bounce off the glassy cliffs on the planet's numerous volcanoes, causing an errie array of colors to shine constantly in the sky. Days and nights were greatly set off balance here, so the majority of the scattered villages were lit by artificial lighting. Still, that was all that was needed for the work done here. Only those who desperately needed money, or were running from something, came to this planet to live. Conditions were horrible, the settlers often spending twelve hours a day mining the various minerals and metals out of the rocky crust. Those that worked with the volcanic groups had it worse. Death tolls were around thirty a year, although at least eighty percent of the miners would get sick at one point or another. In the end, it was a horrible place, and yet greatly wanted for the resources that came out of it, and in turn the money that came from those resources.
Which was exactly why Bal-Am Foss, ruling governor of Bassadro, had called for the Jedi's help in solving their problem. The resources mined were divided up amongst various companies, including the Galactic Republic. The areas with more to mine cost more money, thus the bigger companies often got the best deals. Recently, however, a large amount of cortosis metal had been discovered in a small patch just under one of the larger volcanoes, which was probably why it hadn't been discovered earlier. The problem, though, that was no company owned that area, and thus there were at least six that were fighting for it.
Usually a dispute such as this would be solved with credits, but in this case things had gotten out of hand. At the last meeting, the leaders of the companies had broke out into a fight. Thus, Foss had decided to ask the Jedi for their help. Unlike the Galactic Republic, who would most likely want the land for themselves if they helped, Foss knew the Jedi would assist him and ask nothing in return. Although, that didn't mean he wouldn't give them a little cortosis as a thank you. He would deal with that after the mediation, however.
The fifty-three year old male turned away from the window looking out at the colorful sky. In front of him were representatives from the six main companies that could afford, and thus were fighting for, the cortosis. He had already lost countless credits from the time he could've spent mining the stuff already, yet had been unable to. Just another reason he wanted the Jedi to come and end things quickly.
One of the companies, BioTech Industries, were fighting for the cortosis for use in their cyborg technology. While the industry was still being researched into, cyborg enhancements, as well as replacements, were started to be a great need. Especially in times of war. Also putting up bids for the cortosis were the galaxy's three main weapons manufactorers, BlasTech Industries, Merr-Sonn Munitions, Inc., and SoroSuub Corporation. All three were still trying to grow in size, while fighting for the lead weapons producers of the galaxy. Thus why they wanted the cortosis so badly. The other two companies were the Galactic Republic and Trade Federation, no doubt wanting to use it for weapons and armor.
"When is this dispute going to be solved," one of the representatives from the Trade Federation said, "I do not like wasting my time on matters that I know I have already won."
"You've won," a representative from BlasTech shouted angriliy, "Obviously you have forgotten that it is because of you that we're having to spend all this time."
"Aye, the Trade Federation doesn't even deserve the cortosis," someone from SoroSuub said.
"You're one to talk," the representative from BioTech spoke up, "It was your people that started the fight last time." Out of the six companies, BioTech was by far the least aggressive. Not to say they weren't going to fight to the end for the cortosis.
Before Bal-Am could do anything, they were once again argueing at each other. This was exactly how the fight had started last time, although he doubted they would be idiotic enough to do something like that again. He'd already threatened to remove the company that became aggressive again from the planet completely, as well as sell all of their stock to private industries. That stopped any ideas of violent resolutions they had, although it didn't stop them from argueing.
Bal-Am was old enough as it was, his hair already starting to grey, but if this continued he'd go bald within a month, not to mention probably lose his job. All he could hope for now was that the Jedi would arrive soon, and hopefully prove their worth.
Life on the mining planet was harsh. Long hours, poor conditions, and a complete lack of empathy by those who employed them made for an environment ripe for discord. While many who died yearly were involved in careless mining attempts, faulty machinery, or gas explosions while in the tunnels, a surprising amount cumulated from the fights. Tension, alcohol, and far too much testosterone from many species created a land in which someone could kill another just for saying hello.
Life working the Trade Federation’s mining operations was cruel work. Toros Biask knew first hand just how cruel it could be. Just the week before, the closest thing he could call to a friend, had been rip to pieces by a drilling rig, left idling by a careless Ryn, when the two had rounded a corner at a sprint, avoiding the cave in behind them, caused by another accident.
The Sonic Hammer in his hands vibrated ever slightly that the tissue under his upper arms tickled. Similar in concept the widely used Vibroblades, the Sonic Hammer pulsed at the harmonic frequency of the surrounding rock, causing the usually diamond-hard stone to become more like granite. Though he’d been handling one of these devices for more than half of his Twenty-two year long life, the vibrations still tingled.
His breathing was ragged, and he wheezed twice before coughing up some dust filled mucus. His lungs were in bad shape, but it came along with the territory. Lifting the Hammer over his head, he brought it down on the Rocks before him. They shattered and crumbled into a neat pile at his feet. He gathered the accumulated stones of his hour’s work, and placed them in a sack, to be transported via a conveyor belt to the smelting factory. His Bar code and identification would be passed along, and he would be credited for the stones should they yield anything substantial. That’s how it worked. One never knew if they were being cheated, which they were, or not.
Toros Biask was a powerfully built Twi’lek. 16 years of working in the mines, handling heavy machinery, heavy rocks, and heavy tools, had made his physique quite impressive. His dark pigmented skin was a testament to his genetic heritage, hailing from family of Lethian Twi’leks. Lethians’ possessed a rare genetic mutation that presented them with a rare and unique red skin color. Most Twi’leks living on Ryloth, their homeworld, lived underground, in order to protect themselves from the vicious light of the sun, or harsh cold of the night side of the planet. These factors made Toros particularly well equipped to handle the life of a subterranean miner.
A shrill whistle echoed down the cavernous shafts of the mines, reverberating many times before finally ending. All around him, the sullen shoulders of miners exiting the mines, marched passed, and left him alone for several minutes. Soon after the last shoe steps left him in the silence of the rocks, the incoming traffic could be heard, taking up their posts, and beginning their eighteen hour shifts. Toros had put in his work time already, but chose rather to remain at his post to mine for a while longer and make the most of his efforts.
Behind him, a disgruntled alien coughed to gain his attention. Toros took no notice of him, and continued to drive away at the rocks with his weapon, beating the life out of the planet with every swing, so that he could apply his savings to something worthwhile. The alien again coughed, and accidentally caused himself to begin hacking. Toros took a moment to catch his breath while the alien finished coughing.
“Move along two-tails…”
Toros glanced over his shoulder at the Gammorean, who was despite his own size, a fair size larger. The Gammorean lifted his own sonic hammer in one hand, as though it were a hand tool, “I said beat it Tentacles…”
Toros raised his Sonic Hammer over his head and brought it down on the rocks once more. A giant green hand reached out and clutched his right shoulder. Before the Gammorean could react, Toros lashed out with a fist by spinning around. He caught the pig-like alien in the snout, crushing the cartilage, and sending a few shards north towards the brain. With a thundering crash, the Gammorean hit the floor dead. A small stream of green blood dripped from his nose over his face to the rock floor. All around him, Toros could feel the excitement of the miners all around him.
Xander strolled down the hall of the ship, towards the cockpit containing his Master. As he looked around him at the stark white walls, he let out a slight yawn.
Xander Artemay was a slim, skinny Human boy of eighteen years. He was clothed in only his white tunic, black utility belt, and loose white trousers. His single black braid of hair lay over his right shoulder. It was very annoying; he couldn’t wait until it was cut off during his Knighting ceremony. Absorbed in studying the bare walls and the quiet whispers of the Force, he did not notice he was at the cockpit door.
Xander started to speak, but quickly cut himself off as he saw Master Aladeus sitting relaxed in the pilot’s seat. Aladeus Cinn was a slightly chubby Jedi Master, although he performed any physical feat easily. His dirty blonde hair was cut at his shoulders, and his goatee of the same color was cut right as it started to protrude from his chin. His wise face showed his age, making him appear very wise, just as he was. His Force signature was light, and he wasn’t moving. Although he appeared to be staring into the bleak dreariness of outer space, glowing dots that were stars and the planet the ship was orbiting, the Padawan knew he was meditating. Quickly being able to change from stern to relaxation was something Xander Artemay admired about his Master.
“I sense a great deal of conflict and frustration down there,” Aladeus said, slowly opening his eyes and turning around to face his Apprentice.
“We were called to mediate a conflict, naturally there is an argument,” Xander replied, walking over to the co-pilot’s seat and dropping into it. The brown form that was Bassadro seemed to get bigger and bigger as the ship continued it’s orbit. “I sense it will be hard to quell.”
“Greed is a formidable opponent. It can blind people, possess people to do crazy things. Even the Jedi have had their friendship with greed once in a while,” the Jedi Master said. “Needless to say, something which can blind Jedi will be a challenge to quell.”
Xander nodded to his Master. He was always wise and kept his cool. Now that the banter was over with, he spoke once again, this time showing his eagerness for a mission. “Shall we get down there?”
“You’re eagerness and lust for excitement will be the end of you one day,” Master Aladeus responded, “but I guess we shouldn’t waste anymore time and let this conflict continue.”
A grin crept across the Padawan’s young and smooth face. Another mission was always something to celebrate in his book. With a sigh from Aladeus Cinn, the ship began to move towards Bassadro.
Toros looked down at the Gammorean without remorse and with ample disgust. The creatures were quite suited for the physical labor the mines required, but they were simple minded creatures; they were simple minded to the point that violence from other races tended to shock them. Briefly, Toros wondered what the pig’s last thoughts had been. “You there!” barked a sharp voice, snapping Toros out of his thoughts. Looking up, he saw a human mine overseer flanked by two Gran, each armed with blaster rifles. “Explain this!” Toros looked at the man. Unlike most overseers, this one actually possessed an aura of authority. His arms were folded across his chest.
“Self defense,” said Toros. Nearby miners echoed their agreement with Toros’ statement, even though most had not seen it happen. The overseer looked over the scene again. Finally, he pulled a comlink from his belt and spoke.
“Get a droid down to Trade Federation mines, sector four,” he ordered. An acknowledged whistled from the small device as the man put it back on his belt. “Everyone go back to your station, except you.” He spoke directly to Toros with his last comment. “Until this matter is officially investigated, you’ll need to return to your bunk. We will deposit your collection from today.” Toros grimaced, but he knew better than to argue, not with the two Gran standing there, each one with an obviously twitchy trigger finger. Besides, "investigations" usually took a day at most. Laying his hammer down, Toros left the mine shaft. Making his way to an elevator, he prepared for the long ride up. He was slightly disturbed when, at the last minute, a short man in a gray robe jumped on.
“Quite a feat,” said the man. “Killing a Gammorean with one blow.”
“Hardly,” mumbled Toros, mostly to himself. He looked the man over: he obviously was not a miner.
“I noticed the other miners took your side quite quickly,” continued the man. “Perhaps you would be interested in a job offer.”
“The last union boss was murdered for starting a strike, you know,” said Toros. “I have no desire to repeat that. Who are you?”
“Let’s just say I am working for an investor,” said the man. “But, you think to grandiose. Certainly you’ve heard of the new cortosis vein?” Toros nodded. “Well, my boss’ company wants to get it, but I’m afraid we’re no match for the larger companies competing for the contract. If you can convince your fellow workers to cut back on production, the Bassadro government will not be so keen to give a new contract to the Trade Federation.”
“That sounds like an overly complicated, and improbable, plan,” said Toros.
“We’ll make it worthwhile,” said the man, a glint in his eyes. “For each kilo of lost production, my company will pay you double what you would make for the kilo. And, when we get control of the vein, we’ll arrange for you to be an overseer.” It sounded too good to be true, which made Toros suspicious. Then again, with nothing to lose, and much to gain, the offer was also tempting. A beeping sound indicated they had reached the surface and the doors opened, the light causing them to squint. They both exited from the elevator.
“So, will you think about our offer?” asked the man.
“I’ll consider it,” said Toros.
“Good, but do not wait to long,” the man said. “Time is short.”
“What company do you work for?” asked Toros. He was still uncertain as to whether or not he would take the offer or report the offer to the Trade Federation. He had heard they paid well for that information, especially if they could take the offending company to court. Numerous smaller companies had been run out of business by the courts, or so Toros had heard. Given the lack of actual mining companies, and the number of big multi-product/service companies, Toros didn't doubt it.
“New Horizon Mining,” replied the man, pointing to an emblem sewn on his robe’s left arm. In the dank, dark mine, Toros had not seen it. A thin gold line ran perpendicular to the man’s arm. In the middle of it was a solid black half circle. Toros turned without saying another word and disappeared into the crowd.
“Erol, you there?” hissed a voice through the comm at the man’s waist. Bringing it up to his mouth, he spoke.
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“Boss wants you back at base. The Jedi are sitting in orbit now, but they’re planning on coming down soon.”
“Alright.” Erol shut the comm off and left the mining area. He was quite pleased with his find. The Twi’lek looked like he could stir up enough trouble long of enough for everything to work out. And if he happened to get a blaster shot in the head when it was all over, then that was fate, Erol decided. New Horizons didn't really exist and when any miners tried to claim their offer, the authorities would just laugh it. The goal for the time being was to create chaos, but there was no need to do it themselves. The miners and the corporate bigwigs would be creating enough for the Jedi to deal with. The scene was quite full: there was no need for Erol to be involved in anything else, for now.
“Chancellor, there is a priority signal from Master Cinn. He and his Padawan have arrived in system and are about to begin primary negotiations.”
The Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic sat in his plush seat filling out some flimsisheet paperwork. With a gilded ink pen, he signed his name elaborately, “Excellent. Confirm our reception of the message to Master Cinn, and ask him to keep us apprised of the situation.”
The attendant bowed and left the room in a flurry of expensive robes. Chancellor Finis Velorum was graying in age, but was still very competent in his political duties. Hailing from a long line of rich, political moguls, his family had already yielded several Supreme Chancellors of the Republic, and unbeknownst to him, would continue to do so for the next two hundred years. He brooded in his chair, and swiveled to face the dusk skyline of Galactic Center. Appealing and Stark skyscrapers pierced the golden hue of the sky, dotted in arrow straight lines of air traffic and descending ships.
Cortosis was a valuable mineral used in the construction of ship and infantry armor. Besides its uses to deter the Jedi’s Weapons, the ore possessed many qualities that made it the ideal metal to mine and refine. The recent discovery on the Mining Planet of Bassadro had stirred up the interests of not just the Trade Federation and other competing weapon companies, but also that of the Republic. Cortosis was one of the few metals that were able to be minted and held in reserve to preserve the Galactic Credit’s value all over the galaxy. As the planet was technically a Republic Planet, any company that began to mine the ore would eventually end up paying some it in royalties and taxes to the government, but if the Senate were to vote control of the substance into it’s hands, then the Credit’s value would rise, and Velorum’s approval rating, already high, would skyrocket.
The paperwork in on his desk was a ceremonial copy of a treaty he intended to pass to the Senate for ratification, with the SoroSuub Company for heavy usage rights if they were to gain access. In return, he’d offered tax benefits and chances to lobby in the Senate itself, a lucrative deal in itself. Also in the works were several more treaties with smaller corporations with aspirations of grandeur should they be given control of the vein. What the Chancellor needed the Jedi to do was grant exclusive rights to one of the companies offering favorable rights to the Republic.
Finis was a sly man, but intelligent enough to know that one did not try to pull the wool over the Jedi’s eyes. He would keep the treaties in full view of the public, keep them low key, and not try to sway the Jedi Master Cinn’s opinion in any way. With a little luck, and a lot of faith, Finis hoped to find his fortunes, both personal and political, increasing swiftly.
“Master Cinn?” the squeaky voice of the young attendant to Chancellor Valorum said as his flickering form erupted from the hologram emitter.
Aladeus’ eyes shot from the window to the three dimensional hologram. “Yes, Perpay?”
“We received your message. The Chancellor wishes for you to keep us informed.”
“Naturally,” the Jedi Master said, nodding. The two exchanged a quick goodbye, and the link was closed.
“I sense greed emitting from the Chancellor and his assistant,” Xander replied.
“Of course. Politicians are greedy. It’s a known fact. They only please those who fund their campaign. They have no interest in the good of the people,” Master Aladeus said.
Xander Artemay started to speak, but his Master cut him off.
“We’re breaking Bassadro’s atmosphere.”
The Padawan’s heart started to race, and he started shaking his leg in excitement. It had been long, too long since he had been on a field mission. This was rather boring, settling an argument between companies diplomatically. It was a mission nonetheless.
“I doubt there will be any action, thank goodness,” Master Cinn said. “Stop getting so excited. You’re lust for violence and action will be the death of you.”
“I disagree. What if I like action to stop disputes? For the greater good?” Xander responded to his Master.
“Which is not the case. And you know it.”
Xander Artemay hated his attempts at fibbing being sensed and discovered by his Master. It made it impossible to get away with anything unfit for a Jedi such as eagerness for action and that pump of adrenaline only putting you’re life on the line and thinking quickly could produce.
“Anyway, your lust for action or not, we’re close to getting some,” Aladeus said, watching his Apprentice as a grin crept across his face.
Droveth Kathera Vectivi
The crowded room was once again flowing with arguments. This time started by some silly, unnecessary comment that could have been avoided. Bel-Am knew otherwise, though. A simple angered phrase would have been just what the other companies would want. Another fight, and someone loses some honor. Not the prime choice for sale.
The Governor’s focus was broken, however, when a messenger tapped on his shoulder. He grunted and turn to face the arrival.
“ Mr. Foss, Sir, the Jedi have arrived and they are waiting in the next room. Shall I send them in?” He piped out, nervous to be in the room with the disgruntled salesmen.
“ No, no. I’ll meet them first.” he responded, following the scrawny man out of the room into another, darker but cozier, room. In the center stood two gentlemen. One, slightly plump and aged well, had a short goatee and blonde hair. In the dark room, however, that was about all he could make out. The other, a skinny, lanky boy, was obviously they younger, and the Padawan. Bel-Am could tell by the long braid. He had heard quite a few things about Jedi.
“ Greetings, Greetings. Welcome to Bassadro. I assume your trip went well?” He questioned, eyeing the Master with wonder.
“ It could have gone better, but-” Xander began, but was cut short by Aladeus.
“ All was well. Now, what seems to be the problem?”
“Right. Follow me, please.” The man led the two Jedi into the dispute, flinching as the room erupted in yelling once again.
“ What’s the Jedi doing here?!” Merr-Sonn hollered, glaring at Foss for calling for them.
“ Yeah! We don’t need ‘em. We can handle this for ourselves!” BlasTech groaned, standing and signaling towards the Master and Padawan. “ Besides, they can’t do anything about it!”
“ Why don’t we hear them out?” BioTech added, nodding when the Galatic Republic agreed. “ It can’t hurt to have them here incase-” The representative looked over towards the Trade Federation. “-another fight should occur.”
Bel-Am sighed with relief. ‘ So they aren’t going to fight it past that? Maybe there a little more civilized then I thought.’ Master Cinn leaned over and whisper in the Governor’s ear.
“ Don’t get your hopes up, Mr. Foss. They’re signatures aren’t agreeing, so we’d better make this quick before another fight starts.”
Toros returned to his company issued apartment. Located above ground, it was stacked atop other apartments. The room itself was just adequate enough to provide running water, a ventilation shaft, and a bed. The communal sanistream and refresher could be found at the end of a long corridor, usually with about four or five other miners waiting outside for their own turn. Toros skipped the sanistream, not minding the black dust that coated the dried sweat on his arms.
Word of the attack on the Gammorean had spread already to his apartment black, and everyone who stood in the corridor watched him carefully. The pig-like aliens were not well liked by anyone, especially those who lived next to one, but there were those with a misplaced sense of justice, and still others who were friends with them. It was these folk that Toros Biask had to be wary of, and could never be quite sure of whom he could trust. The man he’d met on the Turbolift being a great example of such a person.
His offer, if true, would swiftly provide Toros the means to repay he debts to the Trade Federation Mining Guild, and with some time, he could likely save enough for passage off the planet and provide a comfortable life somewhere in the Mid-Rim. The offer had to be too good to be true. His lekku tingled with anxiety all the same however. As Toros approached his apartment down, he noted that there were no new signs of forced entry, or any unauthorized persons waiting for him within.
Upon entering his residence code, the door slide open, revealing his one-room apartment exactly as he’d left it eighteen hours earlier. On the floor however was a slim sheet of paper, in the shape of a Sabaac Card. He picked it up, noting that the card had been slid under his door sometime earlier. As he flipped it over, the reverse side of the card presented a glossy finish. It read like the Sabaac game’s “Three of Sabres” card. Lining the perimeter of the card was a repeating message, “New Horizon Mining: Contact Lan at 215.298.369”.
This was Toros’ way to contact the men who wished to employ him to sabotage the Trade Federation’s production. Closing the door behind him, the Twi’lek peeled the rock caked shirt on his torso off, and sat on his lousy bunk, studying the card while his overhead light still functioned. The Light activated automatically from the moment he opened the door, and was on a timer to go off in three minutes from that time. They would not come back on until it was time for him to return for work. Toros picked his boots off using the other foot, still studying the card, and managed to work both of the sturdy feet coverings off by the time the lights dimmed, and then extinguished.
He lay in bed, staring at the dark ceiling. The Room had no windows, and therefore was void of all light. By the small amount seeping in from under the sliding door to the apartment allowed for his ancestor’s subterranean genetic traits to establish themselves. Ideas raced through his mind, as well as outcomes and probabilities. Mostly, just about the offer he’d been given. The chance at starting a new life is what it meant in the end. But some part of him just wanted say that the deal was too sweet, and that everything would go wrong if he took the bait.
It’s not like Toros could feel the force or anything, but his feelings had never seemed to fail him before. But money was tempting, and greed was a powerful emotion. Before drifting off, the Twi’lek had all but convinced himself to take the offer. He would contact New Horizon in the Morning.
“Don’t get your hopes up, Mr. Foss,” Aladeus Cinn whispered in the Governor’s ear. “Their signatures aren’t agreeing, we’d better make this quick lest another fight break out.”
Master Aladeus favored using the Force in this situation. Assumptions and the resulting conflict could be avoided, much to the Governor’s benefit.
“Men! Listen here! We will solve this problem peacefully. If another fight breaks out in the presence of the Jedi, you will be dismissed from the meeting. Understood?” Governor Foss said, much contradictory to his usual self.
Master, what causes the sudden change in personality in Mr. Foss? Xander sent through the Force.
A little trick I’ve learned, increases the assertiveness in people, Master Cinn responded via telepathy. A nod from Artemay confirmed understanding.
“I’d like to add, peacefully, that the assistance of Jedi is not required,” the Neimoidian Trade Federation representative spoke, adding a sarcastic emphasis on the word peacefully.
“I disagree, if they aren’t needed they’d be good to supervise,” the human BioTech representative piped in.
“As do I,” the human Galactic Republic representative added.
“The Republic just wants the Jedi here because the Jedi will be in their favor!” the Twi’Lek Merr-Sonn representative exclaimed.
“We will be totally impartial, I promise you,” the Jedi Master said, raising his voice deep voice slightly. The restless business reps silenced.
“Now, what seems to be the problem besides fighting?” Xander asked the congregation of businessmen.
A loud mix of hollers and shouts filled the large room.
“SILENCE!” Aladeus roared, the room silencing once more. His voice suddenly switched to calm as he spoke once more. “Governor Foss, would you please explain the situation calmly, with no interference from any representative.”
The business representatives were unusually calm as Bel-Am began to speak…
"The patch of land where the vein of cortosis is located is not owned by any corporation," Bel-Am started, "However the land around it is owned by the Trade Federation and SoroSuub. The other bids have been placed for the vein as is legal. At this time, the highest bid was put in by BioTech Industries, but..."
"Absurd," Xoquon Sool of the Trade Federation yelled. Behind him stood his two aids.
"Please," Master Cinn said calmly, "I'm sure we'll find a peaceful solution to all of this."
"I'm sure we'll find a peaceful solution to all of this, "Xoquon mocked.
"Easy for you to say," Yen Storm from SoroSuub commented, "You're a Jedi."
"Not to mention you're not the one losing anything," said Nil Abogoda from MerrSon.
Zekk Komo represented BlasTech, Tarand Juros for the Galactic Republic, and Revan Rievas for BioTech. Oddly enough, Revan was the only female representative in the room, and while she was the calmness, she could put up quite a fight.
"Nonetheless we will keep this from getting out of hand," Cinn stated. He stayed calm, but his voice had a bit of authority in it, causing all of them to quiet down. Xander stood to his left as he took a seat at the head of the table. Governor Foss had already taken his own seat at the other end. They had been in these sorts of situations like this before. In fact, compared to some of their mediations, this was nothing. At least in this case no one had been killed yet.
"As I was saying," Bel-Am continued, "BioTech had put in the highest bid, but the Trade Federation of SoroSuub claim that the vein is theirs since it is on their borders. The others are here simply to cause problems."
This made the Tarand grunt. He was well aware how much Bel-Am disliked the Galactic Republic. They had refused to improve conditions on the planet for some time, focusing only on the resources taken from it. He understood that this hurt him, but he had a large sum of credits ready to play in order to play the situation out. Besides, if things didn't start going the way he wanted, there were always other options. Less, sophisticated ones, but invaluable nonetheless.
In fact, many of the representatives were thinking the same thing. If things didn't go their way, there were always darker paths could take towards victory.
The "mediation", as the Jedi called it, continued for another two hours with no resolve. The bids had gone up three times, yet BioTech still managed to stay on top. No one would let down, and Xander noted that Governor Foss seemed contempt to allow them to continue to raise theirs bids. After all, it only meant more credits for him.
Later that same day, Revan and Tarand sat at a table in one of the small diners in the complex eating. While they both fought for the same goal, they were still friends outside of the job. Over the years, they had dealt with each other countless times; in fact, they had helped BioTech become an ally with the Republic. Once they had thought there was a connection between them, but they quickly realized that nothing could get in the way of their work.
"I should get to bed," Revan said with a smile. While they knew they could never become involved with one another, it didn't stop them from secretly admiring the other.
"Yes, I'm sure it'll be a very long day tomorrow, and for days after that until the Trade Federation backs down."
While the Galactic Republic had stayed out of the Trade Federation's business for the most part, they realized danger possibly lied in the company's interest in droid manufacturing.
The two stood and smiled at each other before turning and heading opposite directions, a droid already coming over to clean the table. As Revan reached the door leading towards the lift, however, something tugged at her inside, and she turned around to look at Tarand one more time. She wasn't sure why, but something just told her to make sure he was okay.
As it turned out, just as Revan turned around, she was able to watch as Tarand stopped a few feet from the door when a droid marked with the Trade Federation emblem said something to him. She couldn't make out what the droid said, but she did see Tarand's eyes widen. She also saw the droid explode, tiny parts flying everywhere. As the concussion flew her backwards into the wall, she watched in horror the fire engulfed a screaming Tarand...
... and then everything went black.
“I bid thirteen million credits on behalf of BioTech Industries,” Revan said, resulting in a series of objections from the other companies present, except Tarand. With the alliance between BioTech and the Republic, the two could share the price, if they only shared the profit.
“I will not sit around here watching SoroSuub go bankrupt as BioTech lodges ridiculously high bids!” Yen Storm exclaimed. “The vein belongs to SoroSuub, it’s on our borders!”
“It is on our borders as well, Yen!” Xoquon Sool yelled back. “Don’t try to pull that card and cheat us out of it!” A quiet series of primal grunts followed, resembling the Neimoidian language.
“Gentlemen!” Aladeus said, raising his voice. A sharp glance from Revan made him correct his statement as he continued. “and Ladies, settle down. Is it true that the mine is on both the Trade Federation and SoroSuub’s borders, Mr. Foss?”
After conferring to a chart in his datapad, he nodded.
“This is rather perplexing,” Xander said, having spoken only one times in the past two hours. “I think the highest bidder should get the vein.”
“It’s on our land; we should get it no matter what the bid!” Yen hollered in response.
“No, SoroSuub should not get rights. We should have a bidding match between only us!” the Neimoidian representing the Trade Federation added.
“All the other companies should get a chance!” Zekk Komo replied.
“All the other companies should get a chance!” Yen mocked Zekk. “Get over it. We own the land it’s on, you had the opportunity to buy the same land.”
A beep from the Governor’s watch and a yawn from Xander indicated the meeting was over.
“I’ve got a meeting to get to,” Governor Foss said. “I declare this meeting adjourned. Same time tomorrow, guys.”
“Thank the Force,” Xander Artemay muttered under his breath. Normally, he would get a light scold or reprimand from Master Cinn, but even the Padawan could tell his Master was equally grateful the conflicting businessmen were gone and the arguing and yelling was over.
Mr. Foss seemed grateful the bid went so high, Xander sent via the Force.
The higher the bid the more commission he gets. I think he’d deserve it if the Trade Federation and SoroSuub shared it without any bids, Aladeus sent back.
As the two walked down the halls, brown robes flourishing behind them, the only thing on their minds were: I wish tomorrow never comes. . .
Erol checked his commlink constantly through the day as the meetings continued to drag on. The assassination of Tarand had made much less of an impact than his organization had desired, but their plans were still moving forward. Those whom he represented had a great dislike for the ‘noble’ and arrogant Jedi. They felt the Cortosis vein would serve their interests the best, and therefore, would benefit the galaxy as a whole.
In the past few days, the agent of change had been watching the Twi’lek named Toros with care. He found the alien to be a very fascinating character. Toros was the typical strong silent type, but Erol could see the intelligence, and anger behind hind his eyes. He had personally seen the Twi’lek kill the Gammorean with a single punch, and in fact had incited the alien to aggravate the Miner at work. The small test had proven that Toros Biask was capable of completing the task before him, and that those around him would follow his lead.
Since that incident, the Trade Federation’s production in this particular mine had fallen a dramatic 900 million kilos a day. While disproportionately high, one had to consider the Federations vast stretches of territory, and the many, many mines that operated here. As of yet however, it seemed the Trade Federations famous system of bureaucracy was working in favor of Erol, causing them to be slow to notice the drop in production, and to respond. Toros had not yet used his card to contact the organization, but Erol had a feeling he would be doing so soon to inquire about his imaginary payoff.
In the meanwhile, news from his various contacts poured in, describing an incredibly high tension series of meetings between the business reps, all whom had a vested interest in gaining the rights to the vein of valuable ore for their respective companies. Anyone capable of brokering a deal would be greatly rewarded, promoted, and showered with favors. Even the planetary governor had a cut in whatever deal was struck, and was very eager for a large settlement. Word had even reached Erol’s ears of the interest of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. Apparently, he was not just concerned in the involvement of the Jedi, but also in the fact that the Republic could possibly gain the rights to the ore.
At last, his commlink beeped quietly. Erol picked it up and answered, “Erol…”
“Secure line. Encryption is active on our end, protocol 9.”
“Protocol 9 is active, proceed”, security in matters such as the destruction of the Jedi Order were absolutely neccissary.
Xander found himself unable to sleep, despite the comfortable room he had all to himself. The comfortable room with the old fashioned wooden doors, which were terribly expensive. Or maybe, that was why he couldn’t sleep: the bed was too comfortable. In his travels with Master Cinn, Xander had slept on everything from the stock Jedi transport, whose cots left much to be desired, and even the bare ground of numerous types of terrain. Perhaps, though, his body had grown accustomed to being uncomfortable. “Discomfort, but not pain, is what makes you learn. Pain is instant, no matter how long it lasts, and the mind only focuses on the hurt; your animalistic instincts take over in reaction to pain. Discomfort, on the other hand, makes the mind work with the body to relieve the discomfort.” Master Cinn had once said.
No, it couldn’t be that. Anyone who couldn’t get to sleep in a comfortable bed was lying to themselves. Perhaps it was the bombing and the almost nonchalant attitude of most of the other representatives that kept Xander awake. Only one, the woman called Revan, had been seriously affected by it, both mentally and physically. And yet, the woman had returned to duty the very next day, pushing ahead with her job. She would mourn later, Xander guessed. But, Xander’s enhanced Jedi perception told him that she was already torn up on the inside. The governor had insisted that the Jedi need not get involved in the investigation, but Xander, for all his political naiveté, knew that the governor walked a very thin line. The companies already distrusted him and the Jedi, especially now that they were all suspects in the bombing. The bombing had to be related to the cortosis vein. Couldn’t the planet just force the companies to split the new vein, until one of the companies proved it was more profitable than the others?
Xander sensed something at the door and heard the slight wispy sound of something being slid under the door. Rising out his bed, Xander walked over and found an envelope. Picking it up, he opened it, and found a strange looking sabacc card in it. Xander had never played the game, though he was vaguely familiar with it. Besides, anyone knew a card when he saw it. A short message displayed on the card: “On your homeworld, already once sacrificed, you shall sacrifice for a greater cause.” Underneath the message was a logo. A thin gold line with a solid black semi-circle sitting atop it, centered. Xander was confused; he did not know where his homeworld was. In fact, Master Cinn had only told him that he had been found as a baby drifting on a freighter, the name and flight plan of which had been wiped out in what appeared to be a pirate attack.
Xander placed the card back in the envelope and tossed it on his nightstand. His thoughts now more troubled than before, Xander drew his lightsaber, the blue blade casting an eerie glow in the darkened room. Planting his feet, he began to go through a training kata, using the Force to guide his hands, the silver cylinder gliding smoothly through the nimble fingers.
* * *
Erol returned to his cramped apartment, the typical home of non-mining employees. On paper, Erol was a freelance translator, not entirely untrue given his mastery of six languages, but it was not his true purpose which was to poke and prod people into acting a certain way. He was dedicated to his group’s ultimate cause and he would undertake any job to ensure its success, but at times he wondered if the plans weren’t overly complicated: random bombings, sowing discord amongst workers with promises of wealth, and, as his compatriots had done, even preparing to start a civil war on some backwater little world that happened to be the homeworld of a Jedi padawan. To make things even more interesting, the Jedi had sent one Celina Pasari to mediate the growing dispute on Cormar, and Ms. Pasari just happened to be the former of apprentice of the padawan’s current master. Erol, like his compatriots, wanted to eliminate the Jedi, but they knew to do that, they needed the Sith back. And since the Sith had been gone for so long, the only resort was to create them. Sow the seeds of discord on Bassadro, show the young padawan the foolishness of the galaxy, and then return him to the home he never knew he had; a home of destruction and chaos.
Erol knew the Jedi would find some sort of solution to the problem on Bassadro. Quite frankly, he didn't care how they did it.
Revan Rievas wiped her tears, trying to focus on the work at hand. Her equipment case was opened on the table and her test kits were arranged neatly. In front of her was her computer, beeping softly every few minutes, giving her signals that it was processing the required tasks. Beside the computer, several metal fragments bearing burn marks were lying disarrayed.
Each time she took a glance at the metal fragments, her mind went back to the moment of the explosion that took the life of Tarrand Juros. She shook away from her head, the grotesque image of Tarrand burning, but it kept coming back.
“Analysis complete.” The computer’s voice brought her back from her grief.
She stared at the monitor for a moment then downloaded the information to a data pad.
“Computer, show me the route of any incoming and outgoing traffic of the same material in the mining complex.”
While waiting for the computer’s search result, Revan took all the metal fragments on the table and put it inside a small bag. She also put all the test kit inside her equipment case. It was true that she had been in this business for only 4 years; however she had been a metallurgist for a long time. Before joining BioTech, she had been working in various research posts, testing waters for metal poisoning that often occurred in low-tech societies and also worked as part-time consultant to ship construction companies. BioTech had offered her quadrupled of what she received from the research bureau plus the ship construction companies, to find prospective mining sites.
“No match found.”
Revan sighed and turned off her computer, “I know it’s a long shot.”
She took the bag and the data pad and exited her room. As she walked down the corridor, her mind was wandering back to Tarrand Juros. Her feet led her to the elevator and she went down one level below. In her half dreamy state, she looked even much more beautiful with her long brown hair neatly tied behind her head. She was too consumed by her thoughts that she did not realize that Master Cinn was walking behind her. Aladeus Cinn stayed in the shadow when he noticed that Revan stopped in front of his door and knocked. He sensed great pain in her and stayed in the distance, observing before greeted her.
“Master Cinn… It’s Revan Rievas from BioTech.”
She did not wait long and knocked a couple more times before finally left for his apprentice’s door. She seemed in a hurry.
Cinn decided not to pursue her and watched carefully when his apprentice opened his door to let her in.
“I’m terribly sorry to bother you at this late hour, Master Jedi.” She smiled charmingly.
Xander smiled back at her, “How may I help you, Ms. Rievas?”
“As the matter of fact, I need to speak with Master Cinn, but he’s not available. Can I just talk to you and expect him to come back to me tomorrow?”
“Sure. What do you want to talk about?”
Revan took the bag and data pad out and handed them to Xander.
“Inside the bags are the metal fragments from the Trade Federation’s droid that exploded. I have analyzed them and the metal signature is different from the usual Trade Federation’s droids. You see the ship builders and droid manufacturers have encoded certain signature for their major clients. It’s like a trademark of each manufacturer.”
“I have cross checked this metal to every manufacturer listed in our database and it came back negative.”
“This metal doesn’t have manufacturer encoding.”
“Your database covers all known manufacturers in this galaxy?” Xander sounded surprised.
Revan smiled, “Not necessarily. We only need to know about our competitors. The Trade Federation, like it or not, is one of our competitors. We learn about how they work, where they buy their supplies and equipments, whom they do business with, etc.”
“Are you saying that the Trade Federation did not send the droid to kill Juros?”
“The droid doesn’t belong to them.” Revan confirmed.
“If the droid is not theirs, the Federation emblem was intentionally put there for you to see.”
“Yes. So that I could testify, which I have, that it was their droid and their bomb that killed Tarrand. It could be anyone on the negotiation table… or any other party who gains profit from this dispute. I wish I knew more about this, but that’s all I can tell you.”
Xander waved the data pad.
“Oh that contains the information on the type of the metal. It’s a derivative from cortosis, commonly used as basic material for droids. Just in case Master Cinn needs it.”
“Please tell Master Cinn, that this has nothing to do with BioTech. This is personal. I…”
Xander noticed that Revan seemed to want to say something else, but then decided to forget about it.
“I sense great sadness in you.” Xander looked into her beautiful brown eyes.
Revan smiled sadly, “Tarrand Juros is a close friend of mine. I need to know who did this to him. Will you pass those to Master Cinn and ask him if he agrees to help me?”
“I will.” Xander promised her.
“Thank you very much. Good night.”
He opened the door for her and once again he sensed a great pain in her, as if her heart was about to explode bearing the burden.
He asked, “Are you going to be alright, Ms. Rievas?”
“Don’t worry about me. I may be new in this business, but I come from a very bad place. I’m used to see death around me.”
“Where do you come from?”
“A very bad place, Master Jedi, a place of destruction and despair.” She said turning around to leave.
Xander closed the door behind her. He looked at the bag and the data pad in his hands. This was the excitement he had been waiting for, but what if his Master refused to help her?
Finis Velorum swiveled gently back and forth in his plush desk chair. The curved durasteel, inlaid with electrum and other valuable metals, was a one of a kind piece. In it’s arm rest sat a series of controls, from which the Chancellor could call up reports from almost any branch of the Republic Government. His hands rested lightly above these controls, as his head relaxed towards the memorygel cushioned headrest. This chair had to be the most comfortable item in the world.
His thoughts wondered as he mused about the recent developments on the Mining Planet. A Trade Federation droid, or not, had exploded atop the representative of the Galactic Republic, Velorum’s personal selection for the job, Tarand Juros. On top of that, recent evidence, collected by the BioTech representative, suggested that the droid was not from the Trade Federation, and that it was likely placed by someone else. The Jedi had their hands full attempting to keep the tempers cool, and blasters even lower.
Finis considered issuing an order for several more Jedi to be dispatched. With a heightened presence of the ‘neutral’ Jedi, maybe the peace would be more easily kept. He backed off the idea however. His many critics were already crying out against the involvement of the Jedi. In the Senate, it seemed his enemies were claiming the Jedi had been dispatched by him to ensure a pro-Republic agenda was in place at the end of the negotiations. Velorum was no fool though. His many years in politics had shown him only two certainties.
Always expect someone to disagree, and the Jedi never delve into Politics.
So far, three of the companies at the negotiating table, without the knowledge of one another doing so, had signed treaties with the Republic. These treaties ensured that the companies would provide heavy business investments to the Republic in the form of Cortosis. A Win-Win Situation for both Finis and the CEOs of these conglomerates. There was something he was missing though, something needed to practically seal the deal in their favor. One of the companies at the table seemed to be thinking along that line already, the bombing proved that. Perhaps a covert-ops infiltration. Surveillance at first, perhaps some espionage later.
Though the Republic had little or no standing army, and had not for close to 800 years now since the last Battle of Ruusan, the Galactic Government maintained a small armed force to deal with quelling planetary rebellions and aiding member states who required specific aid, Military aid. Using the controls in his seat’s armrests, Finis Velorum contacted the Republics 3rd Infantry Division, 5th Brigade, 1st Company; Nick’s Neks as they liked to be called. A fitting title, having taken the name Nek from the dangerous and fearsome predator from the back water planet Ziost.
Governor Bal-Am Foss sat at the end of the table as the representatives from the six companies continued to bicker about this and that and continue to push the bid higher, which was fine by him. The higher the bid, the more the money. In truth, he could care less who got the vein in the end, although he was personally rooting for BioTech, since their cause was by far the most moral and ethical. He usually didn't like the Republic too much, but since the assassination, he had lightened up a bit.
The Republic themselves had sent another representatives to stand in on the meetings, although this one was by far no where near as aggressive as Tarand had been. In fact, this new one, Foss wasn't even sure of his name, never really did anything except listen. Every now and then, he would place a bid just to keep up, but his bids were never on top of the others, just within range. Bel-Am suspected he was only there to report the events to the chancellor, but of course, he would never be able to prove that.
He wasn't sure he would ever be able to prove which company had a hand in the death of Tarand either. Revan had spent a few hours in the medical bay for some cuts and small wounds, but had quickly come back and started bidding again (bids that had now reached in the eighty and ninety millions). Tarand had been found in three pieces, the main piece burnt practically beyond recognition. They all knew that one of the other companies had been behind it, but none of them could tell which one, save for the guilty party of course. At first, they had blamed the Trade Federation, and for two days, the negotiating room had been incredibly tense, but soon new findings indicated that the droid didn't actually belong to the Trade Federation, which only made the room tenser.
Large squads of the Bassadro Security Force had been placed around the compound, as well as two for each of the representatives. Three were always in the bidding room, and another five constantly watched Bel-Am. The Jedi took care of themselves, and in fact had not changed since the explosion. They were calm as ever, gently working to reach a solution before another problem occurred. Still, Foss had a gut feeling that something major was brewing. He had received reports about the Trade Federation's production dropping by huge amounts, although it did that from time to time for various reasons, none of which were illegal or a major concern. Still, something was about to go terribly wrong here, he just couldn't tell exactly what it was.
He looked around at the room as they all continued to babble, most of which he never paid attention to. At first, they had met in a room with a splendid view, at least for Bassadro, of the surrounding landscape. Since the explosion, however, they had moved to an interior more armored room. These things bored him to death. The only thing that kept him coming from the Jedi and the increasing bids of credits.
Foss sighed and stood up, noticing everyone in the quiet down after a moment.
"I have some other things that I must attend to," he stated, "But please continue on until Master Cinn sees fit. I'm sure the Jedi can handle you all," then he added to the Jedi, "If not, feel free to slice a few things off."
A few of the representatives chuckled, as did the young Jedi Xander. Master Cinn, however, along with Xoquon Sool did not. Oh well, it wasn't his job to cheer them up. He had never been a big fan of charity anyways.
With that, he left the room at a brisk walk, noticing the five guards keeping a steady distance behind and in front of him.
I'm afraid we haven't found anything else out besides what Master Cinn and Artemay told us," Bassadro Security Force Chief Jom Blackmoor informed Bel-Am, who had come here hoping for some good news, "The droid could have come from anywhere. It was marked, registered, nothing. The explosion was created by a device that anyone could make from their home, so for all we know one of the miners could have done it."
"Doubtful," Foss muttered.
"I'm sorry, Governor Foss, we're trying."
"Yes, yes. I'm aware," he said before turning and heading towards his office.
Erol walked down the hallways of the main compound, taking a few minutes of free time to look around at his surroundings and study them. He didn't really care what happened to anyone who anything here, just as long as his company ended up with the vein of cortosis. What was it his company was called for this mission? New Horizon Mining, he thought. Very nice, and the logo created was certainly one of his more favorite logos. Often times the people he worked for would simply create some quick crappy logo to use, but this time they had put a little thought into it, and had created something that didn't look half bad.
He walked into the only garden in the entire compound, surrounded by a ceiling that showed fake images of beautiful skies. It wasn't the biggest or most beautiful garden in the galaxy, but it had trees and flowers and running water, plus places to sit or lie down and rest. Currently, Erol was coming here to sit and think about everything going on. It wasn't something he did often, since he tried to be as professional as he could, but when needed he could be quite a nice man to be around, when needed, which was never.
He took a seat near the edge of a small lake, probably more a pond, at the center of the garden. The bench was stone, but smooth and comfortable. He noticed Master Cinn and his padawan sitting cross-legged on the grass across the "lake" from him. He and his group had known of Master Aladeus Cinn for a few months now, as were they aware of his former padawan and her mission to Cormar. This new apprentice he did not know, however.
Watching them sit there with their eyes closed, "clearing their mind", Erol wondered rather Aladeus was aware of what his former padawan was up to. He even wondered if he knew what planet she had been sent to, and remembered just as ironic it is. He doubted the new padawan knew of the mission, and was certain he didn't know that Cormar was his home planet, since that was against Jedi customs.
Stupid Jedi, leading a cause that would soon enough be the end of them all. Erol could only hope that he would be around when the time came. He hoped that he might even be able to help to put an end to the Jedi virus. His group's work was only part of the beginnings of a new Sith. Soon enough things would completely unravel, and not in the Jedi's favor. Not on this planet, this planet and this conflict was only a small task, and the real missions were occurring on...
Erol sat up, watching the Jedi padawan only now. The face, that body, it looked so familiar. He knew that he knew the kid from somewhere, but he just couldn't figure out where. A past mission, perhaps? No, Erol had been on quite a few assignments, but only around seven of them had involved Jedi, and he remembered every one of them. This padawan was not on that list. Then where was it? He just couldn't place where exactly he knew the boy...
This time Erol felt the strength drain from his body so quickly that he fell back onto the bench. It wasn't possible. Sure, it was possible, but not here, not now. Fifteen years ago, Erol's wife had been killed by a gang. Desperate and thirsty for revenge, he had contacted a group and asked for help. They promised to rid the galaxy of the gang, but only if he would join their cause. He agreed, and over the years had come to enjoy his new line of work. Rarely did his wife find its way back into his thoughts, nor did his son, who was taken from them before his first birthday. Yet, now, sitting on the bench, Erol knew that across the lake from him was Xander Artemay, his one and only son.
The quiet hum rang throughout the garden as an artificial breeze swept it’s way across the air. Every so often in the durasteel walls there was a conspicuously placed vent where a fan resided behind thick fines and beautiful flowers.
A loose leaf wriggled it’s way free from a tree, and fluttered across the garden, eventually landing in the pond. While not the most beautiful place in the Galaxy, the garden had a certain fragrance and appearance that could only be achieved by Mother Nature. Or, in this case, artificial nature. The ripples in the lake caused by the leave disrupted the reflection of the trees, flowers, and the fake skies above.
A loud breath escaped Master Aladeus’ lips as he sat cross-legged meditating. Being a Jedi Master was very stressful. One must deal with the stress and fatigue while keeping a nice, calm attitude. People always looked towards Jedi, most often highly ranked ones, for how to act. Meditation and clearing his mind was the only thing which kept Aladeus Cinn from going insane.
Xander was completely silent as his body expanded, and slowly retreated back to it’s original form as he exhaled and inhaled. His lack of large muscles and brute strength he more than made up for in dexterity and speed. His bare feet lay still on the soft grass.
A soft ruffling caused the Padawan to open his heavy eyelids. Master Cinn had gotten up, and was slowly walking across the grass.
“Done meditating, Master?” Xander asked, uncrossing his legs and getting up himself.
“Yes I am, my young Apprentice,” Master Cinn replied, “and I’ve never felt better.”
“Good to hear,” Xander responded.
With a snap-hiss, an emerald blade erupted from Aladeus’ lightsaber hilt. He instinctively spread his legs, and brought the hilt to his right side. A textbook example of a Shii-Cho starting poise.
“Ready for some saber practice, my Padawan learner?” the Jedi Master asked, staring at Xander.
“Always,” the Apprentice replied, his own sapphire blade creeping out of the hilt with a snap-hiss. After a moment of recalling the Makashi beginning pose, turned his body to the left and pointed the glimmering blade of energy down towards his Master.
A twitter from a bird in a nearby tree began the series of swings and slashes which was part of the training duel. The shining, elegant Jedi weapons reflected in the “lake” as they each raced across the air, emerald and sapphire arcs forming in the air, which reflected in the ever-staring eyes of Erol from the stone bench across the lake. He would get his son back from the idiotic Jedi, even if it meant killing a Jedi Master, and whatever threat the Republic might send in response.
“Perhaps we no longer require living labor Minister?”
The Neimoidian representative of the Trade Federation looked to his orderly for quite. The younger frog-like creature immediately shut up and let the elder think it over. It was true that their droid processing and designing facilities had advanced far enough to create effective mining droids, ones they planned to implement on the Cortosis vein in any chance. But the droid technology was still under wraps, safe from the wandering eyes of rival companies and information brokers.
The deficit however, created by the miners, was beginning to affect profits, and profits were one thing someone did not tamper with without dire consequences. His investors would surely discover the murder of twelve thousand miners, and that surely would affect profits as well. Maybe an accident? Mining was a dangerous sort of operation, and all voluntary workers, yes! Voluntary! All workers assumed that risk when they began to work the shafts for ore. It would not be out of hand for a crucial mine shaft to collapse, killing all those inside. But how to deal with those asleep, and not on shift? They could be blamed for the poor construction of the shaft, and fired. No, that wouldn’t pass in the Courts.
The Neimoidian pondered silently for a moment longer. They could not be killed off, or fired, but they could be laid off. Let go… For their own safety. Yes, that would play well to the investors and the Galaxy at large.
“Jut, listen carefully”, the Elder alien folded his hands together pointedly, and began to tell his orderly the day’s operations.
Toros awoke to the sound of shouting, and worried protest outside his door. The lights had just come on, and his door was now open so that he could leave. Out in the hallway, miners were shouting, and running back and forth hurriedly. He sat up, and donned his dust caked shirt and pants. He left his bed and poked his head into the hallway to see what the commotion was. It was rare that a bunch as down trodden and exhausted as these would become excited at anything. Even when Toros had convinced a few workers to decrease their production, and the effect had spread.
“Those Nasty Fish Spawn!” A Ryn roared as he darted down the corridor.
“How could they! I’ve worked my entire life here to pay their expenses off!”
“There were 1200 in those mines! Their all going to die!”
Toros slowly pieced it together from what he heard. It didn’t take a force-sensitive to feel the anger, tension, and pent-up frustration in the air. He grabbed a passing human and inquired as to the specific news.
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard! 1650 miners were buried alive in the mines. The Federation is closing the mine and laying us off for concern of our safety.”
Toros suddenly felt his own feelings mirror that of the miners around him. He was Angry, angry that his employers felt he could just be discarded. He was tensed, and ready for action. Toros was frustrated. He had worked his entire teenage and adult life in those mines, paying off his father’s debts, and then his own. A being was not a fruit! You could not eat it and toss the peel away. No, a being had rights, and if those rights were infringed, a being had strength.
He glared at the Ryn, “Spread the word that anyone who is even the least bit livid about this is to gather outside the Trade Federation’s district outpost today at 10:00 Galactic Standard Time. Tell them that their will have their job back, or we will get their job back”
The Ryn, fully aware of who Toros was, nodded meekly and ran off once the Twi’lek released his arm. The miners would ask nicely. If that didn’t work, well, the Federation might have a small problem on its hands. The Twi’lek, already smug about his destruction of the Federations output of ore, wondering if his contact at New Horizon Mining would throw in a bonus for inciting a coup. The Sabaac card still rested lightly in his pocket, ready if he so needed it.
Xoquon Sool sat in his office at the main Trade Federation office on Bassadro, another two hours before the next meeting about the cortosis vein. His company had taken a lot of heat when the Republic rep. had been killed, but since then things had cooled down, so to speak. Yet, the others still weren't letting down on this vein. Sooner or later things would have to stop, though. For one, the bid was getting higher and higher. Eventually, companies would have to pull out because their couldn't afford it. Xoquon knew the Trade Federation would most likely be able to stay in longer then some of the other ones, but even they had a budget. Thankfully, the Republic was no longer competition, so he had confidence that eventually they would win.
Then there was the mining problem. Cutbacks happened often. There would be times now and again when production would suffer, and then they would fire some workers, cut their pay, or whatever. This time was different, though. Their losses were tremendous, and they weren't improving. He hadn't particularly enjoyed killing all those miners, but it had to be done in order to get rid of the rest. Already he had put in the call for droid workers. They would most likely be there within a week.
He was even hoping his droids would increase his chances of getting the cortosis. After all, the vein was very close to one of the larger volcanoes. Thus, by supplying workers that no one cared about being damaged, he figured he had a huge advantage.
"Sir," one of his aides called from intercom, "There is a problem outside."
"A problem," he murmured to himself before getting up and walking to his window. Outside where at least a thousand miners, no doubt protesting about the firings. He hadn't expected them to be upset, but this was a little larger then what he had planned for.
Nonetheless, he turned and walked out of his office, making sure to put in the call for his security droids to be activated and waiting. It was doubtful they would turn to violence; after all, they were just poor miners, but better safe then sorry.
Erol Artemay, although he hadn't used his last name since first joining his group, blinked as he watched his son. Never had he expected to come across him. In fact, he had almost forgotten completely about Xander. Seventeen years. Fifteen years since the death of his wife. After joining "New Horizon Mining", as it was currently called, he had pushed away all memories of his past life. That included his wife and his son.
Now it was all crashing back down upon him. He remembered all of it. Aladeus Cinn and his padawan coming to their home and asking for Xander. They had fought, unsure about what Cinn was telling them. Then, he had looked towards the young girl. He had asked if what her master was saying was true. Deep inside of him, he had hoped she wouldn't answer, but she did.
After that, his son was gone forever. Now, though, here he was. Not only was he a Jedi, or at least training to be one, but he could possibly be standing in the way of his ultimate goal. Erol knew that he was suppose to stay away from Jedi as much as possible, and if they did cause a problem to either abort or remove them. How was he going to hurt, if not kill, his own son? Even he had a heart somewhere. All he could hope was that the Jedi would solve their little cortosis problem and then leave. If things went well, Erol would never encounter Aladeus or his son. Of course, things rarely went as their should.
His comlink beeped, and he removed it from it belt and put it to his ear.
"There is a... dispute going on at the Trade Federation outpost," a male voice said, "You should probably come look."
Dispute? Things like this happened often. Chances are the Trade Federation had decided to punish the miners for their losses, and had cut their pay or some other type of punishment. Now the miners would mad, blah blah blah. It would all blow over eventually.
"I'll be right there," he replied before turning off the device and getting up. Even as he walked away, though, he still watched out of the corner of his eye as his son and his master turned on their lightsabers and started dueling. What a day, he thought.
It was only about to get worse.
Revan Rievas opened her eyes slowly. She felt lightheaded and nauseous. She took a quick look around her and the memories slowly came back. It had been after dinner when she entered her room and found a man waiting inside. He had introduced himself as Erol, representative of a company called New Horizon Mining. He had approached her and had offered her a lot of money for doing soil analysis for his employer. He seemed to know that she was more of a scientist than a businesswoman.
He had given her a datapad containing data that was too familiar to her: Her old soil analysis from one certain research she had tried so hard to forget. She had been close to accepting the offer. Only his failure to mention his employer’s name that made her finally turned the offer down.
As soon as she rejected, he had advanced and covered her mouth and nose with a piece of cloth… and there she was now, locked up in a small cell. Revan rose from the bunk bed that was strangely quite comfortable. She noticed that the room she was in was not a room after all. The walls were solid rock. It was more like a small cave, made into a room by placing a ventilation shaft and a door. The temperature in the room was cool and she could feel cold wind blowing from the ventilation. There was not much to see and she sat back on the bed.
Beside the bed there was a night table with a glass of water and a candle to light the room. She fixed her gaze to the fire and started hyperventilating. Flashes of images bombarded her mind. She tried to block them as her therapist had taught her, but they kept coming with every flicker of the candle.
The images of a man walking inside a mine… turning his face to smile at her… waving his hand and disappear inside the blackness of the mine… a blast of fire from inside the mine… scent of burning flesh… unrecognizable corpses…
Revan closed her eyes, trying hard to control her breathing; tears running down her cheeks. The images of Tarand Juros exploded before her eyes… the fire… She shook it away and opened her eyes again. She watched as the candle flickered again and this time she blew it off, welcoming the darkness with relieve.
It had been seven years since the incident in the mine that took her husband’s life and all these years she had succeeded in getting over her fear of fire. For the last 5 years she had managed to bring order to her chaotic life, however, it only took one single thing to destroy it and send her back to chaos. The man who called himself Erol had shown her the soil analysis of the very same mine that took her husband’s life. It was not a coincidence that it had brought her to this confinement, she thought, there must have been a connection to it.
To her knowledge, that mine had taken too many lives and had destroyed so many people… all because of one soil analysis that she had made: The cortosis mine had been contaminated by natural rock sediment that unable it to be refined. The sediment built over hundreds of years had formed into crystal like state, growing wild deep into the rock and metal layers. The red crystal had not been at all worthless; it could be polished for jewelries. However, some parties who had been dreaming of mining precious cortosis could have lost a great deal of money and they had been desperate enough to blow up the mine to cover the cost of lay-off of thousands of miners.
In darkness, she could think clearly. Garikk, her late husband, used to do the same. She had often seen him meditating in their room, in the dark. She had never understood him completely and he had been a man of few words, but they shared the same fascination in regards to metal, mineral, crystal, and everything buried under soil and rocks. He had been the head engineer whose job was to control and supervise the digging of shafts and tunnels to get to the source of the mine. Her job had been to confirm at which layer he should have stopped digging or whether he had reached the source. They had been a great team, both at work and at heart.
She could not understand why someone would be interested in her old soil analysis, especially one not so profitable… one so disastrous. Why would someone be interested in mining worthless red crystal? What bothered her more was how Erol managed to obtain the analysis report. It had been destroyed in the fire… everything had been destroyed in the fire at Cormar… her report, her job, her husband, her life, her sanity…
Suddenly, she felt the earth shaking. It was once again, too familiar a feeling.
“Explosion…? A Cave in…?” She asked herself when the shaking stopped.
Nicodemus Hamsworth was a well respected Republic Officer. He had spent his life in service to the Galactic republic, and figured he’d go on doing so for the rest of his operational years. The only way they’d get him to retire was if he died in combat, or if he was offered a job at the Academy of Military Sciences. The Republic had not had much of a standing Army since the close of the New Sith Wars at the Seventh Battle of Ruusan 800 years earlier, but it had maintained a small serviceable force for aiding the member states of the Republic.
Nicodemus had been commended many times during his tenure as a solder, even though at a still youthful 45, he was now mostly regulated to desk duty, and maintaining the units he had created. While a noted combatant, what Nicodemus was most famous for was his creation of the Republics 3rd Infantry Division, 5th Brigade, 1st Company; or in a simple term, Nick’s Neks. Nick’s Neks was a 100 man Special Operations and Covert-Clandestine Service Unit. He had formed it in order to meet a Anti-Terrorist role on Coruscant, and also as a top of the line infiltration and black ops team capable of the most dangerous and dirty jobs imaginable.
Right now, however, Nicodemus felt like a babysitter. With the Chancellor’s order for him to Mobilize to the backwoods mining planet of Bassadro, all he had been required to do since arriving was figure out a way to hide 100 men from the local authorities, and anyone possessing prying eyes. Intelligence teams had been collecting data for more than a few days by this time, and a forward base camp had been established near the site of the Hearings. Tabs on the Movement of all the CEOs and Representatives had been logged, and no one moved without the Neks knowing.
Their orders had been vague, and purposeful. Chancellor Velorum, the latest in a long reign of Velorum politicians, had directed the team to generally make the atmosphere of the negotiations harmful for the companies that had not yet signed accords with the Republic, and possibly manipulate the situation to the favor of companies supporting the Republic.
For the three days they had been on this God-forsaken rock, they had heard little in the way of useful intelligence; but with all things, good things come with time. On the fourth day, word reached Nicodemus’ ears of trouble in the Trade Federation’s Camp. The miners, recently laid off after many of their co-workers had been killed in the mines, probably purposefully, were now close to rioting. If someone could provide the spark, perhaps this turmoil could turn into a full war. If the Trade Federation was busy taking care of a peasant riot, then their attention would be focused away from the negotiations, and would likely withdraw after the news of the riots reached the Galaxy at large. Profits were a fickle thing…
“We have placed our souls, and our hearts into those rocks! I worked and worked, and worked for the Federation for the 18 years! My father before me worked 32 years! I ask you? How has my family’s fifty years of slave labor been acknowledged by the Trade Federation in anyway other than more debt!?” Toros Biask was fuming, speaking to the nearly 2000 miners who had received word of his rally.
Together, they stood in front of the Trade Federation’s district office, a squat building, with no real windows to speak of. Cautious employees of the company had mobilized the private security force provided to them. Neimodians in low slung helmets, dressed in padded blast armor stood at rigid attention, guarding the Building, but not firing on the frenzied crowd. Toros wished to be recognizable to everyone, and stood on a low platform, so that his head and shoulders were above the mean height of the crowd, but not high enough that he was in harms way.
“BROTHERS AND SISTERS!? Where has the Trade Federation ever taken notice of you outside of how much ore you can supply them, and how much more debt they can slap on you! Now, for our safety, they propose to lay us off, to discard us, and forget about us!? I won’t stand for it! I WON’T ALLOW IT!”
The Crowd was now stirring, become more frenzied, more zealous. Inside the crowd were 100 professional solders, concealing automatic assault blasters. A few were readying for more weapons to be available at a moments notice, so that the riot would have ample fuel to consume the Trade Federation.
“Xoquon Sool!” Vodo cried out the Trade Federation Pontiff’s name, “You are a murder, a coward, and a FOOL! If you think that we will roll over and die like dogs!? I say we won’t! I say we will fight and die before we do!”
The uproar was horrendous, and hurt Toros’ ears. The crowd, turned mob, charged the building. The Guards moved to react, but were cut down by a hail of blaster fire from somewhere inside the crowd. With red vision, and carried by the momentum of the Mob, Toros was swept up in the blood lust of the moment. They broke down the front entrance of the office, and flooded inside. The living tidal wave swept through the building, the Trade Federation employees caught off guard, were slaughtered with homemade weapons and bare hands. In a mere hour, the massacre was over, and the mob left the smoldering shell of the Office satisfied.
Toros walked away, breathing heavily, not sure how his bare forearms had become drenched in a thick red layer of blood that dripped copiously off his finger tips.
“As you can see, Governor, the Republic is in the best position to guarantee the safe operation of the mine,” said the new representative, a sly smile on his face. The once passive man had suddenly shown an aggressive side, but Bal-Am was hardly fooled. The death of the original representative, Tarand, had undoubtedly hurt the Republic, but now with the new representative showing Bal-Am the various agreements that had been made, Bal-Am knew the man was nothing but a place holder. The real negotiator the whole time had been the Chancellor and he had done a masterful job pulling together major corporations. “The Trade Federation is certainly having its trouble,” said the man. “Can you really trust them with this new vein? I know I wouldn’t, especially since they seem to have a riot on their hands.”
Just as Bal-Am looked out the window of his office, the comm on his desk began beeping. Bal-Am keyed it. “Governor, Chief Blackmoor here. There’s a mob storming the Trade Fed. building. It’s too big for our security forces to get to the front and stop it.”
“Do what you can,” ordered Bal-Am. “See if you can’t get the Jedi to help. At least get the representative out.” There was an acknowledgement before the comm cut off. Even if the Trade Federation was not the friendliest entity, they still had a major stock in Bassadro’s economy.
“Governor, perhaps I can do something for you,” said the Republic representative. “Simply approve the contract and I can take some measures to ensure that riot ends.” Bal-Am opened his mouth to ask a question, but chose not to. The less he knew the better. Sighing, he took out a digital pen and signed the contract, sealing it with his personally coded, unique signet ring. The Republic representative just smiled, tapping his wristwatch, apparently absent mindedly.
Moments later, Nicodemus Hamsworth’s communicator beeped out a short, coded message. It was time…
Even without the sudden surge of screams, shouts, and gunfire, both Master Cinn and Xander could have felt the drastic change in emotion. They stopped in the middle of their sparring, their sabers mere millimeters apart. They looked at each other and shut down their lightsabers, just as a security speeder flew up, coming to a rapid stop. Chief Blackmoor leapt out.
“Gentlemen, if you please, we need your help,” he said. Xander was about to speak, but Master Cinn stopped him. ‘Listen first,’ Master Cinn’s lesson carried through Xander’s head. “We couldn’t stop any killing, but the crowd doesn’t seem to want to talk to anyone, either. We’re hoping you can calm them down, whether through reason, or even using your lightsabers.”
“You ask a lot,” said Master Cinn. He looked at Xander, seeing the mixed emotions of anticipation, fear, excitement, and, buried deep, the determination to do what a Jedi should do. “We will try to talk to the crowd, but we will not use our lightsabers. Take us there, Chief.”
Much of the mob remained outside, chanting slogans and hurling makeshift grenades and the like, despite the fact that the bloodbath had ended. It was these people that the Jedi targeted their pacification efforts towards. There seemed to be some sort of effect at first, as one by one members of the crowd turned to listen to Master Cinn’s booming voice. It was in these moments that Master Cinn showed one of his greatest natural talents: without the aid of the Force, he was bringing people to his side. Master Cinn was a master orator and it did seem like the crowd, as much pent up fury was being released at the Trade Federation and the Bassadran government, treated the Jedi as neutral. Xander listened as Master Cinn promised to speak on behalf of the miners, but he could not do that if they were rioters. Xander was amazed that no one tried to strike Master Cinn.
But, one person seemed to take offense. He didn’t look like a miner, but that didn’t seem to matter. “Liars!” he screamed. “The Jedi lie and they bring only pain, suffering, and division with them. They took my son away!”
“What proof do you have?” demanded an alien in a tongue Xander did not understand, but the man obviously did.
“My son stands right up there!” said the man, pointing to Xander. “My proof is in the name. They call him Xander Artemay. I am Erol Artemay! But, that is not even the half of it. Artemay is not some family name, but rather the name of our hometown! Now our hometown, indeed our whole world, teeters on the brink of war, because the Republic came; because their Jedi lackeys came!” The mob began to sway, but before Master Cinn could say anything, Erol Artemay’s head exploded from a blaster shot from out of no where. With that, the crowd broke, surging, as more precise shots felled other, more vocal members, including the alien who had called for proof of Erol’s statements. Without asking, the speeder pilot immediately floored it, driving the Jedi, and Chief Blackmoor, away, leaving the crowd to the mercy of the strange gunmen.
Toros had largely left the crowd, refusing to lead it anymore. He watched the mob, though, hoping something would happen that would allow him to sneak away, perhaps even off planet. He saw the man, he heard the name Artemay, and then he saw the man be killed. Quite frankly, Toros had no remorse, but he knew now that he would have to get to the town of Artemay, wherever it was, because there was a group that owed him a good deal of money. The two Jedi seemed to be the best place to start.
Xander Artemay sat in the back seat of the speeder as it drove away as quickly as possible from the chaos around the Trade Federation outpost. In the past three minutes, his entire world seemed to have flipped upside down. First, there had been just another riot, he had dealt with rioters on other missions, but then someone in the crowd had started talking about Jedi taking babies. Then he had pointed out Xander, he had called him by name, and he had stated himself as Xander's father. Xander had never been told anything about where he came from, nor had he really asked. He was well aware that Jedi were not to be connected with their family, and yet his family had just been thrust upon him.
Strangely, he did not feel sad about the fact that his father, so he claimed, was now dead. How could he? He had never known him or spoken to him, he didn't feel any connection to him whatsoever besides that of blood. If anything, he felt somewhat happy about his death. No longer did he have to wonder subconsciously about where he came from, because now he knew. He was born in a town called Artemay, although his father had failed to mention what planet. His father was dead, his mother... could she be alive? Even if she was, he wasn't sure rather he would want to meet her.
"It is an unlucky thing for someone as young as you to have to deal with a burden such as this," Master Cinn said from the front seat, "I myself was in my thirties when I discovered my parents. They are dead now, of course, but even when I knew who they were, I never felt connected. I never visited them, nor did I want to. While I could deal with the burden of knowing that they existed, it would devastate them to have their son within reach and not be allowed to touch him."
"You must realize that as a Jedi you cannot let this get in the way of your feelings, however. Yes that man was your father, and yes he is now dead, but you must push away any feelings this brings and focus only on the mission at hand."
Xander said nothing, but Chief Blackmoor did take this moment to speak, "Actually, Master Jedi, you and your padawan should be allowed to leave soon, depending on how involved you are to get with this riot. Governor Foss signed the cortosis contract to the Galactic Republic just an hour ago."
"Is that so," Aladeus said, more to himself then those in the speeder.
"Yes, sir," Blackmoor responded, "The representatives from the other companies have already returned to their outposts here on Bassadro. Well, all those except for Representative Sool."
Aladeus already knew that Xoquon was dead.
Xoquon Sool lay on the floor just inside his office, a large chunk of his left leg blown apart from a grenade that had been sent spiraling into his office, destroying a large portion of it. The wound was bleeding rapidly, his vision was already failing, and no help was coming. Despite the fact that the rioters had left his office long ago, happy with letting him bleed to death, he could still hear their shouts outside the outpost.
His security droids had been useless. They had managed to take down two or three of the rioters, but then they have been overwhelmed and destroyed. Now he just laid there, life slowly spilling out of his leg. Somehow, he wondered rather he deserved this. First, he had hired a bounty hunter to assassinate the Galactic Republic and BioTech representatives, one of which survived. Then he had blown the mine had killed all those miners, leaving the others to do as they please. It didn't make him sad or second-guess rather he should have done it, but it did make him wonder rather he should pay for what he did. Regret? He didn't know the meaning of the word, but he more then understood the meaning of you had it coming.
As darkness completely filled his vision, all he could do was listen to the yelling and chanting and cheering going on outside as the last breath escaped his body.
“Congratulations Minister. We await your return presently. You can be sure this move will forge your political career”, Finis Velorum closed the view window and pivoted his chair till he looked out on the great skyline of the Capitol World, Coruscant.
Waiting nearby was his ever faithful and useful personal aide, “Hoop-la, recall the Neks from Bassadro. Their work there is finished.”
The aide bowed and left the room silently to pass along the orders to the Chief of the Military. Velorum purred to himself in satisfaction, taking great joy in providing such a great economic advance for the Republic. To make things even sweeter, his carefully worded treaties with the other parties vying for control of the vein had make provisions for if those companies had acquired the Cortosis. In the case that they did, the Republic would receive a heavy royalty. But in the reverse case, if the Republic were to gain the vein, then they would owe nothing more than land Rights to the Office of the Governor of Bassadro.
Artemay… Artemay… Toros was unsure of where to find this village. He knew the planet was in turmoil, a civil war, and was likely a back water world because of the unfamiliarity of the situation and names. Toros, no longer held in bondage by the Trade Federation was allowed to roam freely. He took on the high speed hover trains to the nearby large city, which had boomed around the planet’s spaceport. Once in town, he found his way to a small run down building on the South side.
It was the planet’s only library, or what could be called a library. Inside were several pulp and cardboard books and weeklies, two ancient terminals, and several dusty chairs. The lone attendant, an elderly human lady with white hair, smiled weakly at the large Twi’lek as he entered. The place stank of decomposing paper and aging aliens. It generally had the feel of not having been used heavily in the past hundred years, certainly a much longer period of time than the Library had actually been open.
Toros Biask took a seat at one of the terminals, activated it, and fed it his identification number and ID pin. After a moment, the terminal blinked to life, and gave him complete access to the galaxy at large. Using the holonet, he traced the major news entities, looking for the planet in question. The going was slow. Several planets around the monstrous galaxy were either near uprising, in civil war, or experiencing extreme strife at the hand of revolutionaries.
He narrowed the search down, looking for results containing the name Artemay, or Jedi Involvement. That narrowed the search slightly, but it still required the Twi’lek to search manually through all the listings. The work went by slowly, and he had no luck for close to two and a half hours. Not once did the elderly Librarian move, or look away, she merely smiled and starred at Toros.
Toros had nothing against the Jedi. As a child, his father would sit in their small apartment, and would tell Toros stories about his life before becoming a miner. Jak’ii Biask had been a hard working man, who wished for nothing more than to provide a means of escape for his son. The tragedy of his life had been his fall from grace, into the cesspit of near slavery, and passing that all along to the one he loved most upon his death. Though he had been dead for more than half of Toros’ life, the Twi’lek still longed to hug his father once more, to embrace him one last time.
His search brought up a name Toros did not recognized, but could tell from the articles he read, he knew it held some sort of heavy significance to most beings in the galaxy. The village of Artemay could be found on the planet of Cormar.
“And may the Force be with you as well.”
“Who was that Master?”
Master Cinn collapsed his arms across his chest, and folded his forearms into the sleeves of his cloak. The small goatee on his shin cried out to be stroked, as he pondered the news, but he withheld the urge, knowing Xander knew full well the implications of that habit, “It appears my Padawan, that our job here is nearly finished. The Council has called us to aid Knight Pasari on the Planet of Cormar.”
“And what about Bassadro Master?”
“It’s a pity we weren’t actually able to accomplish much more than mediating meaningless debates, and not ever finding the perpetrator behind the assassinations here. But it is as the Council’s will”
Xander was troubled by these words. They ran against what he felt, and believed, “Master? Have you ever considered that the Jedi Council might not always be right?”
“NEVER SPEAK THOSE WORDS IN FRONT OF ME!” Cinn snapped, losing control of his calm demeanor. The call to Onderon troubled him more than he had previously believed.
He took several deep breaths, and turned his back to his Padawan, “I apologize, I did not mean to…”
“It’s alright Master.”
“The Jedi Council is the supreme body of the Jedi, composed of the most experienced, most wise, and greatest of us all. To call them wrong, or fallible is to make all Jedi pathetic and Ignorant. No Xander, I have never doubted the jedi Council, and never will. Come, prepare your belongings, we leave in the morning.”
[OOC note: this post has been edited by Anshar so that it may conform to previous posts. As a reminder, please read all previous posts, or go back and check if you're not certain.]
Celina Pasari, Jedi Knight, sighed to herself as she watched the police remove the body of yet another politician. She couldn’t even remember if this one was pro-Republic, anti-Republic, or Neutral but the three factions had been growing increasingly aggressive in recent years. Ever since Cormar had become a member of the Republic some twenty years ago, the tension on the planet had been building. Five years ago, twelve years after Celina had passed her trials and become a Jedi Knight, the first terrorist attack had occurred. A group calling itself New Horizons had claimed credit, specifically with the intention of getting Cormar out of the Republic. Other attacks had followed and pro-Republic militias had responded in kind. Now the whole planet was divided into not two, but three groups: Isolationists, led by New Horizons; Collectivists, led by the current, weak government; and the Neutralists, an odd mixture of groups with no real leadership. Isolationists killed Collectivists who killed Isolationists in return, while the Neutralists killed supporters of both sides.
The fact was, however, that the conflict had only begun to boil over. The Galactic media said nothing of the fighting, with far more interesting events such as the Bassadro mining contract and riots taking center stage. Cormar was a backwater world and unless a whole city went up in a single flash, Celina doubted anyone would notice: except the Jedi, who had responded to the call of the current, pro-Republic government to mediate. Now, Master Cinn and Padawan Artemay were en route to aid in the settlement of this conflict.
“Excuse me, Knight Pasari,” said the local police chief. “Our report is finished. It was District Senator Bren Cameron who was killed.” Celina cursed under her breath. Senator Cameron had been her biggest helper and he had advocated a limited withdraw from the Republic: maintaining observer status in the Galactic Senate, but letting the planet remain independent. In all honesty, any one of the groups could have ordered the killing.
“Thank you, Chief,” replied Celina. “Do you have any suspects?” The chief shook his head. Celina gave the crime scene one more look over. Crude but effective bombs had left the ground scorched. Celina set out for her speeder, which would take her back to the governmental palace. She was determined to hammer out a solution to this conflict, with or without the aid of Master Cinn and Xander.
* * *
“Amazing that someone would kill Cameron,” commented Lylah Raer. “The man had few political friends, and his calls for moderation were falling on deaf ears, all except those of the Jedi.” Lylah was an exotic dancer, something that had not existed on Cormar until New Horizons had secretly bankrolled the creation of such establishments. It was all part of the act of blaming the Republic for the decay of Cormari society.
“I still think we should take her out,” commented Quinton Keer, the chief bomb maker for the Isolationists. “Even a Jedi can’t dodge my bombs.”
“You will do no such thing,” said a deep voice from the doorway. Lylah and Quinton looked up and saw a man in a police chief’s uniform.
“Chief, nice to see you,” said Quinton. “How’s the investigation going?”
“We’ll pin it on the Collectivists,” said the chief. “By the way, Jedi Pasari came to the crime scene. She told me that two more Jedi are on their way to help, including our friend Xander. I also learned that Erol went and got himself killed. It’ll be up to you two, primarily, to drive this boy to the recreate the Sith. Then we can wipe out the Jedi and the Republic for what they’ve done to our world and the whole universe.”
“Chief, I understand my part of the job,” said Quinton. “Bombs galore, kill ‘innocents’ and the like. And I understand how that will push the kid along, since his vaunted Jedi are responsible for not stopping us, but what is her job? To seduce the boy?”
“Actually,” said Lylah, “that’s exactly what I intend to do. I’ll spin a heart breaking story of how I, as an innocent farm girl, fell in with the wrong crowd, and know nothing but sex and drugs. When he realizes that his high ideals can’t help me, he’ll break.”
“If you’re that good an actor, I guess you are better than the cheap [Expletive Deleted] I thought you were,” said Quinton. Lylah made a crude gesture at him. The Chief just watched. All of his time researching the Sith, understanding them and how they came about, was paying off. He had been able to impart that information to all of his followers: if any of them had had Force abilities, they would have been chosen. But Xander would do just fine, especially when Quinton finished the Grand Bomb and wiped Xander’s hometown out of existence.
As no one has participated in this lately, I'm going to close this for now. If anyone ever asks about reopening it, I'll consider it. To those of you who participated, I thank you. Unfortuantely, there will be no awards, as per the rules of this event.