Here is another chapter o ye huddled masses. This is one of those things that leaves a ton of questions and leaves some answered. I do have my disclaimer that parts of the dialogue and scene setting are from Memoirs of a Geisha, a scene that is meaningful and it gives more into personality and character. So for ye huddled masses I give you...
Draconis was angry and he desperately wanted to vent it. First his archenemy escapes with the help of an old man and a Cathar Jedi and the squadron that had been distracting them left them with extensive damage to the port engines. He then learned that his prize bounty hunter was missing and the army he was building was fighting over who was in charge. Things were looking pretty bad out there in the Outer Rim. Draconis knew this and it showed with him pacing around in the debriefing room. He was joined by Admiral Keegan who had left after his meeting with the Chancellor to report the news of what Avalon was up to. Out of habit, he saluted Draconis, who scowled at him, and said, “News from Coruscant milord.”
Draconis stopped pacing and eyed Keegan with suspicion. He replied, “What is it then?”
Keegan his peevishness as he replied, “Your Lady Mara declared Avalon pulled out of trade with the Republic.”
Draconis responded with indifference, “So? I knew she would do that. Mr. Sixty Minutes, tell me something I don’t know.”
“The systems that felt the embargo have responded with attack and the Jedi are at a loss of what to do,” Keegan replied.
“That, I did not know.” Draconis then crossed the room towards Keegan with a smile that sent a chill down Keegan’s spine. Draconis paused, his face close to Keegan’s, and said, “That is good news. This coupled with the final show down will finally bring back everything that is supposed to be. Good job Keegan.” Draconis flashed a smile, masking his true feelings as he turned away and headed towards where he had dropped a datapad on the table. He picked it up and scanned the contents before turning back to Keegan and saying, “Our bounty hunter is missing. Go to the smuggler’s moon and organize that rabble. We’ll need them.”
“And my job at the fleet?” Keegan asked.
“Call it a holiday. I don’t really care. Get there immediately and find something that won’t make you stand out,” Draconis waved his hand in an absent manner not acknowledging Keegan.
Keegan watched as Draconis took no interest in him after dismissing him. He was peeved that Draconis was not exhibiting his usual cold manner that spoke of the mischief he was planning. It was almost as if he didn’t care anymore and he grew suspicious. Keegan had heard that the great Kirabaros was known for portraying one emotion and following through with another and he wondered if all Avalonians were as good. He said nothing but turned and walked out of the debriefing room to head to the communications room to request leave for awhile.
Draconis felt the suspicion roll off in waves. He was pleased that Keegan was finally picking up on the Avalonian tendencies even if he fully didn’t understand them. He truly didn’t care how Keegan would do it but he wanted him to bring order to the group that Jaqrand had started. The bounty hunter was missing but not dead, that much was certain. It was confirmed when the door to the debriefing room slid open again. All Draconis did was turn to face the entrant and said, “I see that you have survived an encounter with a Jedi.”
The Chancellor had been sitting there for a long time. He looked lost as he sat on the cool stone bench staring into nothing as the water flowed with a gentle calm. Bastila and Karas saw that as they came from the main hall. It was actually Karas that mentioned that they had a visitor and that the visitor needed some advice. It was Karas who led the way to the Room of a Thousand Fountains with an air of calm acceptance where they found the Chancellor sitting.
The Chancellor had been bothered by the recent turn of events. The datapad he had from Admiral Dodonna was disturbing too. The galaxy he knew it seemed as if it were falling apart. He couldn’t believe that the Avalonians would intentionally attack Republic vessels, not after speaking to Lady Mara and discovering that they didn’t do anything unless provoked. Even then it was not their way to respond with violence and Kirabaros was a testament to that.
Admiral Dodonna had sent word that one of her admirals was missing and that there was unusual mobilization in the Outer Rim. Her report even mentioned some ambushes on cargo for the Republic, always in the same vicinity as Avalonian traders and the like. The poor Chancellor couldn’t help but think that maybe it was Avalonians going behind the Lady Governor’s back. It hurt and that was what was going through his mind when Bastila and Karas approached him.
Karas was the first to speak, “It is too pretty a day to be sad. Something wrong?”
Bastila glanced at her companion with ill concealed surprise. She could scarcely believe that he was acting so lighthearted. Then she remembered that Kirabaros was the same way. They both believed that if you greeted a situation, no matter how dire, with a little lightness in your heart, you could find the solution you are looking for. She said nothing and preferred to let Karas speak.
Karas barely heard the sudden intake that Bastila gave when he opened his mouth. He ignored it and continued in a pleasant manner, “We all have bad news from time to time. Surely if you share it with us, we can help.”
The Chancellor recognized the mannerism and almost mistook it to be Kirabaros. He looked at the Avalonian Jedi and replied, “Does a Jedi know how to solve which way is up or down?” It was a question for help and he hoped that this Jedi would understand.
Karas had the beginnings of a smile at the corners of his mouth. He replied, “Knowledge must be sought to seek an answer.”
“Do you believe the rumors?” The Chancellor looked intently at Karas who, by now, had seated himself on the ground in the kneeling fashion that Avalonians called sitting.
“No,” came the reply, “We don’t believe in attack without provocation. Even then we don’t strike with the sword.”
“Lady Mara said the same thing.”
“Do you doubt her?”
“Understandable, Chancellor. You don’t know us well and you wish to be sure,” Karas interrupted with the elegance of a geisha, if he were a female. “I suggest that you sent a scouting group to the troubled places to report. I am sure that there are some Jedi who would be willing to do the same.”
Bastila chose to enter the conversation after the bewildering exchange of words between Master Karas and the Chancellor. She said, “Of course. I am sure that they are nothing but rumors.”
Karas nodded slightly to her as the Chancellor spoke, “What of the fleet? There seems to be a division of order especially with Admiral Keegan.”
“I know you are no fool Chancellor but I suspect that the admiral cannot tolerate Jedi and more likely one in particular,” Karas replied.
“No. Someone not of our world.” Karas studied the Chancellor. He had a distinct feeling that the Chancellor knew what he was going to do. He changed the subject slightly, “It would be good of you to go and speak to Admiral Dodonna about this and maybe the ones responsible for this division and rancor will be brought to light.”
The Chancellor didn’t respond except to nod his thanks as he stood up and declared his intentions. Karas remained sitting until he had left and then stood gracefully to face Bastila who asked, “Why did you deliberately lead the conversation like that?”
“A good politician knows how to use words that create a soothing atmosphere,” Karas replied as he started walking back into the Temple halls, “Besides Master Shan, he knows that Avalon bears no ill will and he knows the Jedi are loyal to the Republic. He sees the lies but he needs reinforcement.”
“So you lied?” Bastila queried, confused.
“No. I confirmed what Lady Mara spoke of at the Senate hearings.” Karas then looked around to make sure that no students were eavesdropping. He then began to speak softly, “The answers will be found in battle. I have foreseen it.”
“Where?” Bastila asked in the same soft tones.
“I cannot say but one of the places I suspect is Yavin system. Our people have settlements there and it was listed as a trouble spot on the Chancellor’s datapad. Are there sufficient Jedi to come?”
“Not many,” Bastila paused, “Are you sure?”
“If I am wrong…” Karas drifted off.
“Trust in the Force,” Bastila interjected. It was something that Kirabaros firmly believed in even when it conflicted with what was in his heart. They had both heard it many times before and each wondered if they would be able to hear it again.
Senator Amstar was frightened, a thing unbecoming of an Avalonian woman, especially a senator. After Lady Mara disclosed her intentions, she understood that things had gone too far to be solved with words but it was up to her to soften things with words. Her fear stemmed from the fact that the senators were raging in anger over the latest of incidents. She wasn’t afraid of the assassination attempts but afraid that everything that had been achieved through hard work would be turned into space dust. It all depended on this mobilization at Yavin and her words in the senate.
Sitting in the transport, she gazed out the glass to view the skyscrapers with an apparent look of fascination that masked her thoughts. She thought of her upcoming speech as she sat next to the senator from Ryloth who was speaking of possible strategies. She liked the senator and he spoke Basic very well. She expressed a warm gratitude for his support in this matter. She knew it stemmed from the fact that Kirabaros risked his life to save the senator’s. She knew this because the senator would tell the story to anyone who would listen. She was able to listen as she thought about Lady Mara’s orders.
Lady Mara was not dressed like the governor she was but rather like a warrior or a Handmaiden. She was tying her belt on her waist as she gave her last instruction to Senator Amstar, “Selene, we have only one last round at diplomacy. It will be up to you to try and ease the bad feelings.”
“What do you intend to do my lady?” the senator queried.
“I am heading out to our settlement on Yavin IV. There were reports of some trouble there and I aim to check it out. Along the way I will stop at our trading posts.”
“So you are preparing for war?”
“I don’t know. I have this feeling that trouble is coming soon and if one of our own has betrayed us, then I want to be there for when he answers to his crimes,” Mara replied hanging her blade from her belt. She looked at the senator with an appraising eye, aware of the distinct contrast between a warrior and a noble. “Besides,” she continued, “We have to defend our way of life. We can bear the dislike of certain practices but the insults is something that should not go unnoticed.”
“What will you do when you get there?” the senator asked not answering or commenting on Mara’s previous statements.
“I don’t know,” Mara replied looking out the window. “I will contact Eómeros but I daresay his hands are full at home.” She did not speak of her son whom she left behind to see to this matter. It had been a hard choice but it had to be done. She was lucky that her promised and her chosen was understanding and volunteered to watch the baby.
Senator Amstar knew this and said nothing about that. Instead she said, “Then I’ll speak to the senator of Ryloth. Together I am sure we can work out something.”
“You do that,” Mara replied as she made to exit the room. She paused before going through the door to turn and say, “May the gods be with you and grant you safe journey.”
“As to you my lady,” Senator Amstar replied as Lady Mara left the apartment to head to the transport that would take her to the Outer Rim. She sighed before heading towards the communications console to set up an appointment with the senator.
“I daresay that your attempt to speak to the Senate alone would show that you and your people bear no ill will,” the senator from Ryloth was saying.
Senator Amstar was jerked from her thoughts but replied suitably, “I suppose so. Senator, do believe us or are you supporting us out of loyalty?” She had to ask the question. Long ago she had learned that you had to have a strong alliance based on trust in order to get anywhere. She watched as the senator formed his answer.
“Kirabaros saved my life. That plays a factor but unknown to anyone, I met him in a private session that he requested of me. He came to tell me that certain persons would want to see Avalon destroyed and that your people would need help. I didn’t believe him at first but he convinced me by uncovering a scam that had been in place for a long time. He didn’t ask for payment, just friendship. Since then, he has come by and inquired about my family. I don’t know if that would pass muster but I hope it shows that I am doing it because I believe in him.”
Senator Amstar smiled the first true smile she had in days at the senator. She replied, “That is all anyone needs: a little bit of faith.” They sat in agreeable silence the rest of the way to the Senate rotunda. It may get messy in there but they were united in a way that it cast a beacon like the light that guides the weary travelers in. It was hope.