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Old 08-28-2006, 09:39 PM   #11
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Chapter 10: Danger and Choices
Obi-wan was patiently waiting outside the office of the governor of Belos and wondered if anything could be done for Belos. He had arrived to see what the governor wanted him to do but was met with a chaotic feeling. He tried to ignore it by remembering his last time on Belos when he and his former master Qui-Gon Jinn were there to find Ashira. He remembered the trees and in particular Fa Zhor’s estate. He thought that maybe he would go there when he was finished. It had been over ten years since he saw him last and he felt that some catching up was needed.

Governor Gisan was in two minds. He wanted to mobilize the troops but he had to somehow get enough food to the starving tribes that lived near the city Sheng Xin. His closest friend and advisor kept telling him to worry about the whole planet and not just the starving tribes. He said that it was about time that they started living in the current century. Gisan didn’t believe in that and it was because of his beliefs that kept him getting reelected as governor of Belos. He showed nothing of his concern when he greeted Obi-wan, “Master Jedi, it is good that you have come though I am not sure of what you can help us with.”

“Governor Starlighter asked that I be of any help that I can,” Obi-wan replied.

“That is good. I need to concentrate on mobilizing the fleet and getting food for the tribes that are starving and I don’t know where to begin. I received a transmission from a Jedi Korin that one of our own people is leading this against us,” Gisan replied rather tiredly, “Though I am surprised that Lady Ashira wasn’t the one to send me the transmission.”

“Perhaps she is more concerned about other locations though that wouldn’t be like her either,” Obi-wan agreed. He thought about her behavior the last few days, even weeks. The more he thought about it, the more he noticed that Ashira’s behavior had been changing for years but the change was so subtle that no one, not even the masters noticed it until now. He also thought about what Governor Starlighter said about her knowing things but not saying anything. He pushed those thoughts aside and concentrated on what Gisan was saying, “True but I am sure she has her reasons. Now to the business getting the tribes fed. I have been trying to convince Moira of the Haida tribe to let me help her. She however is convinced that the white wolf will come to help. As much as I have faith in her, I am afraid her faith will debilitate the Haida women and eventually they will cease to exist.”

“Perhaps I could go to convince her to accept aid,” Obi-wan ventured. Somehow he got the subtle probing from the Force that was the path he was to take.

“Perhaps she will listen to a Jedi but I must warn you that she is very proud and not used to asking for help,” Gisan gave his consent. He continued, “If you go, it will give me time to mobilize the fleet. Even if we get food to the tribes, we will not have enough to deflect the possible armada that the Separatists would send us.”

“I will do my best. Perhaps we may find the cause of the starvation in the process,” Obi-wan replied.

“Then let the gods go with you Master Jedi. I can only hope that some relief will come.”

Andros was pacing back and forth wildly debating a great decision. He was technically not under the authority of the Jedi Council on Coruscant but he respected their judgment all the same. The reports were coming in from Secura and the other teams that Dragus is mobilizing a huge fleet to launch against Belos. How and when was the question and it was maddening. Even if he could draw all the forces from the other planets, it would take too long to mobilize and he was angry that his sister was not there to think things through like she always did.

When he thought those thoughts, he calmed down and realized that he was not directing his anger at the right source of it. He stopped his pacing and took deep breaths to calm himself and the idea came to him. He was in the middle of thinking this through when the door opened and Miklos and Anakin, newly arrived, walked in. Focusing his attention on the current situation he welcomed Anakin, “Glad to see that you made it Skywalker.”

“The Council sent me saying that you might need help in managing the troops. I have to ask though, where is Master Starlighter?”

Miklos answered, “She is attending to a matter concerning the Belosian fleet.”

“She is doing what she needs to do. Right now we need to organize reinforcements on a standby alert,” Andros interjected drawing attention away from the fact that Ashira wasn’t there. He continued, “One of our own people has betrayed us and has joined the Separatists. He has some grand scheme to take out Belos.”

“If he takes out Belos, there goes the bulk of the Avalonian forces,” Anakin replied.

“Exactly. Governor Gisan has a reasonable fleet given the current state of events but they are not enough to hold out against a full-scale assault. However we don’t want to alert Dragus that we know which is the reason for this form of mobilization. We will not use clones but our own people. Anakin I want you to take command of the Mikkadoan fleet and Miklos will cover Andorra. The main post will be on Avalon and I’ll assign General Chun to the Aztlan fleet. You will receive orders when confirmation on his movements is clear. Alright?” Andros looked at the both of them.

Anakin nodded and Miklos just blinked his understanding and guided Anakin out. Once outside, Anakin asked, “Is there something wrong? Andros seemed out of place.”

“War is one of things that preoccupies the mind. I suggest you not worry about it except what you are to do. These are dangerous times that we live in now and we can’t afford to let things happen that could produce serious repercussions for the Republic,” Miklos replied. He hoped that was a sufficient response for Anakin as they went to prepare for their departure to their respective fleets. He was amazed at his brother’s plan. It was exactly something that Ashira would have come up with. With his thoughts on his sister, he hoped that she was fine and safe, at least in her own sense of the word.

The trail was discreet as it led to the small trade town of Reed Moat, named for the Reed Moat Bridge. Ashira-Li noted the store and other basic buildings of the town as she went to the message office. She needed to send a transmission to Zhor to let her know she was all right and where she was. It was her intention to return to the cabin seeing that she didn’t believe in the legend of the white wolf and dismissed it as a fairy tale. Moira had respected her decision but she gave that hint that she knew what would happen.

Ashira was thinking of that when she went to the message office. She noticed along the way a small family of tribespeople huddled near the supply depot trying to stay warm. She stood there staring at the family for a while when she was startled by Dragus’ right hand man, Tarkus, “Sad isn’t it? They have no food and are being forced towards Sheng Xin. They are starving.”

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Ashira asked.

“Tarkus. I run the food line for the people. Are you new here?”

Not fully trusting him she replied, “Just passing through. I got lost along the way and the Haida tribe showed me the way.”

“I see, well carry on,” and Tarkus watched as she entered the office.

After sending her message, she went to the store and try to buy food for the Haida tribe. She selected foods that were easy on the stomach and that wouldn’t make the tribe sick. The owner gave her trouble when he learned of her intention for the food. She would have gotten into a fistfight if Tarkus hadn’t interfered and said to let her buy the food. He even offered to pay for it. Ashira still didn’t trust the man but was courteous and thanked him. She bought a middle-sized draigon to carry her purchases, which included a gift for Moira and Lilah for their hospitality. On the way back to the tribe, she met the family and gave them some food for the journey. Tarkus watched her as she left. He had no doubt that she was the one Dragus was looking for and he went to sent a transmission to Dragus telling him of his find.

Ashira didn’t expect a welcome back to the tribe but she was anyway. She unloaded the food and said that it was for them. The people were surprised that she went to such a great length to procure food that wouldn’t harm them. She left them to unload the draigon while she took the gift she had for Lilah and Moira and went to find them. She found Lilah near the river washing clothes when she approached and said, “I want to thank you for what you did. This is for you,” and she held out a small bundle.

Lilah opened it to find a shawl. She asked, “Why?”

Rather perturbed at the question Ashira responded, “To thank you for saving me and I thought that you might like it.”

“Like a noblewoman,” Lilah responded, “I gave you your life back by singing the songs of healing. The proper way to thank someone would have been to accept your calling as Nekang.”

Ashira was not one to push it at the moment so she left the bundle next to Lilah and walked away not saying a word. Lilah was surprised that she didn’t speak back. She thought that maybe Ashira was weak in that she backed down from a fight. Lilah noticed that Ashira had left the shawl there in its wrapping. She picked it up and tucked it amongst the other clothes that were dry. It was a pretty shawl.

Ashira found Moira at the corral where the draigons were grazing. She approached respectfully and said, “Lady Moira, I came to give you this as a thank you for your hospitality,” and she held out a box that contained some rare herbs for medicine.

Moira turned to find a woman bowing her head in a humble position. She saw that this woman was proud but respectful. It stemmed from a desire to be agreeable to everyone within the best of her abilities. Moira picked up the box and said, “You are always welcome here Master Jedi. Why have you returned?”

Moira had given back Ashira’s respect and it gave her courage to look Moira in the eye and answer the question, “I want to help. I want to help you find the kataran.”

Moira smiled and nodded. She had known that Ashira would return. The spirits of the earth and sky were never wrong. The Force works as it wills. She may have been a believer in the old ways but she knew of the Force. Jedi before Ashira have come and sought refuge with the tribe. Some how Moira knew things would come together. She responded to Ashira, “Then you will become one of our sisters. The choices you make from here on will determine your path,” and together they walked to Moira’s hut.

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