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Old 08-28-2006, 09:26 PM   #8
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Chapter 7: A New Home
The forests of Belos were exactly as how Ashira remembered them, lush and green, but she also heard the echoes of suffering, the starvation of the tribes. She brushed them aside to give final instructions to R4, “Take the fighter back and do what Andros tells you, alright?”

R4 warbled a reply and took off to return back to the station. Ashira watched as it lifted into the sky. Putting the hood up on her cape, she made her way through the forest. She headed towards her adopted family’s home; the family that gave her the name Fa Jun-la. Upon arriving at the gate, she was greeted by Zhor, her adoptive father. It had been close to ten years since she last saw him but he greeted her as if she had been there all that time.

Suppertime was spent catching up on her life with the Jedi. She brought about the conversation as best as she could when she was asked by Zhor, “Daughter, you have changed your hair, why?”

Respectfully she replied, “I was going to live in the cabin near the Daranka River. I need some time away from the Jedi because I… I feel lost.”

It was the truth but not all of it. Zhor could sense that there was something else but decided not to press the issue. He knew that she was too independent and proud to allow herself to show her true feelings. He had seen her when she greeted the Jedi that visited years before and when someone close to her died. He recognized that feeling of pain of a death. Saying nothing about it, he replied, “Alright Daughter. The trails are clear and I suspect a ‘friend’ of yours will want to go with you.”

He was referring to the wolf that she had rescued from the hands of men who bred dogs for fighting. She named him Daranka, meaning “wise one,” a peculiar name for a wolf but one that he answered to. Almost as if he had heard the word for ‘friend,’ Daranka appeared and made a beeline to Ashira. She greeted him with a hug and rubbed his head and gave him a pat. She smiled at Zhor and asked permission to leave in the morning, a request to which he agreed.

Andros was nervous for he had never really faced the Jedi council of Coruscant. He used a Jedi exercise as he said hello to his brother who was doing much better. He continued the exercise all the way until he walked into the communications room. Composing himself, he transmitted his image to Coruscant. The image he got in return was just Yoda and Mace Windu. He spoke calmly, “Yes Master Yoda, Master Windu?”

“Where is Jedi Starlighter?” was the first question posed by Master Windu.

Andros began, “She is not here my masters. She had some matters concerning…”

“There she is not,” Yoda stated, “Gone she is. Hidden from sight she is.”

“What do mean Master Yoda?” Andros replied, trying to keep up the pretense.

“Left she has,” was the answer.

Rather stunned, but not showing it, Master Windu countered, “So she disobeyed the council yet again?”

Andros had no choice but to admit that she was not longer on the station. He explained that he did not know where she might have gone being that she could have stated one thing and meant another. Yoda rescued him from bearing the brunt of disapproval by saying, “A necessary action it is. Help she must where she is needed.”

“And what of her disobeying the council?” Master Windu asked.

Andros spoke calmly and low, “She may have disobeyed but her loyalty has never wavered. She has never been wrong concerning the war. Do you doubt her now?”

Both masters looked at Andros intently as if debating on how to reply. Instead, Master Windu asked, “Do you have an idea where she may have gone?”

“Belos. The tribes are starving and there have been some skirmishes involving the Separatists. She may have gone there to help but I doubt you could find her easily. There are many places she could have gone.”

“Wait we will until we hear,” was the solution from Yoda.

The trail to the cabin was steeper than how she remembered it as she clambered up. Running alongside or scouting was Daranka who went with her. The tramping gave her time to think of the discussion she and Zhor had:

The gardens were still beautiful since the last time she had visited as she sat on the bench near the lake. Zhor joined her with a smiled and to enjoy the sunset. He spoke first, “You can’t always run when you feel that you are responsible. You must face it.”

“Siri was a sister and I came because I could not bear the pain of the echoes of the suffering people anymore; I have to help.”

“You know where to look?”

“Daranka will guide me.”

Zhor nodded in understanding and got up to go inside for the night. He paused and said, “Be careful when greeting the tribes. Things are bad and their patience is rather low.”

No questions were asked for none were necessary. He knew that she would seek out the answers. She had changed her appearance so as to be non-recognizable to anyone else she came in contact with. She smiled at the last words that Zhor had told her before she left and continued up the hills and through the forest.

The cabin was just as she remembered it. It was surprisingly well kept considering Zhor had not stayed there in years and no one stayed there except to rest and move on. She liked what she saw and began to unpack the pack she had lugged up. The cabin was made fit to stay in short order. Daranka kept a sharp eye as she trudged through bringing in firewood and water from the river.

It was dusk by the time she got something to eat and even that was small but filling. Making sure everything was clean, she sat down in a chair by the fire and began to look over what she had taken from Siri’s room. She first examined the datapad with the summons to return to Belos due to the fact that the tribe was starving and an unseen threat was threatening them. She noticed that the date was older than the report she received on the station. She realized that Belos had been suffering longer than what the Jedi knew. There was no specific location as to where to meet so she assumed that Siri already knew where to go. Placing it aside, she picked up another datapad that was encrypted. A good one to boot. Ashira decided that it was probably personal and that there was nothing of interest so she decided to set it aside.

Far away in a village, a strong and proud woman was sitting with her niece and sisters and her own daughter. They were speaking of the current situation of the tribe. There were those that wanted to move to the city to survive and there were those that wanted to stay for they had lived on that land for millennia. The main problem was the fact that they were starving. The herds had failed to return and hunting the smaller game had become scarce. The young woman listened with the patience that had been instilled in her since childhood. She said, “We have lived and cared for the very land that we here and now sit upon. Our herds have not returned and we are starving and we do not have the strength necessary to give aid for when we are called into service. The cities hold death for us as well as here.”

“We must leave. At least we have a better chance of getting food to the children before we lose them,” one of the sisters replied.

“If we leave, we may lose the children anyway. Besides, someone has made a new home. The winds have spoken it,” the woman replied. In response, the other women fell silent to listen to the winds. She continued, “Hope has arrived.”

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