All ye huddled masses I have an announcement: I have a new chapter for you all. This one is one that I find nice for it sets up what is to come and the agitation on both sides. One of the names I used comes from a film called Milagro Beanfield War. I used the alcalde's name Amarante just because I liked it.
As a tender morsel for Chapter 42, I am bringing back another character that will help shape how things are going to fall.
Without further interruption, I give you:
Yavin looked peaceful especially the fourth planet. It had its dangers of course but like anything else, the Avalonians took to it like anything else. Their homeworld had its dangers and they accepted it. It was their way, to accept what circumstances presented them. The Takashi settlement, named so for the forest on Avalon, had been there for a hundred or so years, long before Kirabaros had ventured back into Republic space. They had been there since the wars that crippled the Republic, lying hidden in the jungles. They were a tribal people like anyone else and lived by the fruit of the land. They lived in a village that consisted well over a hundred people, each contributing to the survival of the group.
It was here that Lady Mara set foot after departing from Coruscant with the goal to see that no harm came to here people. To the Republic, she was the leader of the Avalonians. Though each of the planets had their own governor, her word was the last and generally speaking, the law. Surveying the settlement, her thoughts drifted to the Republic and how relations had shattered. She felt the pang of regret of what she had said of Kirabaros to Selene but brushed it aside as she descended from the freighter class ship that she had taken.
At the foot of the ramp was the leader of the settlement. Wearing the traditional garb of the Zherron tribe, he stood full Avalonian height. His silver hair and gray eyes gave him a wizened look but no clear indication of his true age. He waited until the governor arrived at the bottom of the ramp and then he bowed respectfully, surprising her in the process. Like all tribesmen, they can spot nobles or politicians that try to blend in fairly easily except it was much more difficult. The leader saw that she had some training on how to change her movements; she had an exceptional teacher. He introduced himself, “Welcome milady. I am Amarante Satsun, leader of the Takashi settlement. Please follow,” and he turned to lead the way.
Surprised that Chief Satsun bowed to her, Lady Mara returned the greeting with a nod of her head, as deemed proper. She accepted his guidance and followed him through the village to his hut. Like many of the tribal villages, there was a main hut used for conversing in business, a smaller one for the children and the individual family huts arranged in a circular like fashion. The largest of these was the chieftain’s hut and this was where Amarante led her.
Pausing before the main square, Mara took in the sight. It reminded her so much of home and wondered if Avalon ever did change. She was distracted when a group of boys came running past her. One caught her eye as it was of a species she had seen only once before. Her gaze followed the boy until they stopped to talk. He was just like the one she had seen, the yellow eyes, and the ears, everything that spoke of a cat. It was a Cathar boy. Strangely enough was that his fur color was not like the one she had met for it was darker, almost brown. She wondered about it as Amarante led her in. Once inside he said, “I see that you noticed Juntau. He has been with us for four years now.”
“Four years?” Mara looked at her host in surprise.
“Yes. A friend brought him here. We watch him as a favor,” Amarante clarified. He had seated himself on the rug where he always sat. He sat upright and dismissed the subject with a wave of his hand.
Mara recognized this as meaning that she should trouble herself no further over the matter. Following protocol, she said, “The jungles have been kind to you.”
“Yes. It is a challenge but like our fellow tribesmen, we work with the land,” Amarante replied. He beckoned Mara to have some tea that he had poured. He continued, “However, it is not the jungles that trouble us.”
“So it is true? The settlement has been threatened and attacked,” Mara queried. Her voice was a little strained trying to hide her anxiousness.
“A few of our warriors have not returned. Our friends from the Republic have not visited us. They say that we cheat them in our deals, that we have no honor. We cannot see where they strike.”
Mara looked at her companion as he drank his tea. Someone was attacking this settlement and trying to pit the Republic against them. It was as she feared, they were heading towards a war.
Travel through space was boring but can be made a headache if you have to keep certain types of company. Keegan was surprised and relieved that Dodonna let him off with a leave of absence. What he didn’t know was that she was watching him. Unaware of this, his mind was focused on the rabble that he managed to clean up after that disaster on Nar Shaddaa. They were reluctant and downright violent when he told them that he was taking over. The only reason he was still alive was that he had been accompanied by Outcasts, or rather Rashikians. The stench of death that they gave off plus the manner in which they killed and tore apart one protester was enough to convince them of some form of loyalty.
After that, he gave orders to strike at trade depots that were specifically Avalonian and make it seem that it was the Republic’s doing. He did the same thing the other way around and as a result sparked high tensions between the systems that Avalon had pulled shipping from. It was amusing for the Avalonians obeyed this code of dying with honor rather than living in shame. It was admirable too. Even his hires mentioned it bringing some uncertainty that things might not go as planned.
He voiced none of his thoughts as he gave his orders to the Rashikian standing next to him, “Make sure that your man is seen when he attempts to take out the target. It is important.”
The Rashikian gave a raspy reply in the language that sounded of death on Avalonian ears and turned to leave. Keegan couldn’t be sure but he thought he saw a cloud emanate from the Rashikian. He could certainly smell the stench of death. He wondered how it was that any Rashikians survived at all after the last battle at Amshrey. He was left alone to muddle in his thoughts.
He was a hunter. He was good at finding people. That was his way. However he didn’t have to find people: they would come to him. Come to him they did. Four of them he caught and caged like the animals they were. Starving them was too easy and physical torture was pointless with this kind of prey. Instead he resorted to the old ways of mentally torturing them. It had worked on the beast that got away.
The hunter stood in front of the cages that held his prisoners. He saw the burning hate they had for him and he was pleased. They all were in various states of weakness each bearing their share of scars and bruises from his interrogations. One by one they succumbed to the mind numbing effects of his serum, writhing in pain from whatever horrors their minds had wrought until there was only one left.
The last one he was hesitant to use it on. He was assured that what he wanted would come to him and he thought that maybe a bargaining chip would be useful, preferably one in tact. He looked at his glowering prisoner and said low, “You are lucky. You get to be as you are a little while longer.” He then turned and walked away.
He went to a room that overlooked the jungle and gave a clear view of the settlement that his client had told him to watch and pester. He fingered a scar on his right forearm and looked at it. One of those beasts had done it to him. She had come to rescue his prey, the traitor. It was she who stood defiant and fought him to a standstill. He wanted nothing more than to feel her neck clasped in his hands and feel the life squeezing out of her. That would have to be second though. The traitor had escaped through his fingers once and he’d be damned if that were to happen again in the near future.
Lurking in the back of his mind was the image of the Jedi that he had wounded before his folly at Nar Shaddaa. He remembered how the animal recovered quickly from the shot. He remembered the reflexes. He remembered them. The little ones came into his mind as he associated them with the Jedi that had escaped his client. He couldn’t help but wonder if there would be a way to get them. He wouldn’t have to use that prisoner for a bargain. The Jedi, the traitor, all of them would bow down to the terms set if he had them. His client wanted them once but he hired incompetents. He was good at finding people as well as his new companion. They could find them and finally he could get his cherished wish. He went to the communicator and imputed his calculations.
He hated Coruscant but he had to go. When he heard that Lady Mara had asked for one last round of diplomacy, he knew he had to stop it. His contract had reminded him of one of his goals to make the menace suffer and he allowed it. That thought alone gave him something to bear as he walked towards his transport that would take him to the Senate proceedings.
For four days Senator Amstar had been struggling to show good faith. The Senate tolerated her since the senator from Ryloth was backing her up and he was well liked. Draconis seethed with rage when he received the news from one of his spies that had been watching the senator. Unfortunately that information was limited since no one but those who knew the menace could get close to her. That alone was enough to make him fume but not enough to explode in hot rage. That he reserved for Kirabaros.
Sitting on the transport, Draconis gazed at the towering skyscrapers, resisting the urge to squirm. Like all Avalonians, he liked the wide-open spaces and abhorred places that didn’t appreciate the beauty of the land. Unlike Avalonians, he loved the people that were bred in the skyscraper worlds. Those places reeked of diminished hopes, dreams, and despair. There were also those who liked to beat down the underdog, which were his particular favorite. Anything that involved showing lower man his place made him feel at home. It fueled his desire to be rid of Kirabaros and return Avalon back to what it was before the war. He sat there and thought about the order he gave Keegan. This next move would really drive the wedge deeper between the Republic and Avalon.
Senator Amstar was exhausted but like her ancestors she had a lot of heart. She had needed it and used it when facing the numerous senators of the Republic. She also had influential friends standing beside her and had shown their loyalty through thick and thin. Staring out at the city before the proceedings, she pondered the situation and drifted to all that had happened. Somehow she felt as if she were caught between two forces, each pulling her in a direction and threatened to tear her in two.
The Senate was divided in two, a very uneven set of two with more than half against Avalon. It was clear after day two. The opposition consisted mostly of those that Avalon had pulled their trade from and those that claimed that Avalon had attacked them. They were steadfast in their beliefs that Avalonians were sneaky and had hidden agendas to gain influence and take control of the Republic. It was farfetched as far as plots were concerned. No one system could control the body politic; heck even one person couldn’t do that. Those that supported Avalon knew were those that personally knew an Avalonian, like the senator of Ryloth, or they had exceptional trade relations. It didn’t occur to her that there were senators who actually believed the Avalonians.
Next on her mind was the poor Chancellor. He hid in the Jedi Temple to think and relax. Not that she blamed him. Senator Amstar knew that he was under a lot of pressure to take a side to support and she knew that he was on the edge of a precipice. If he sided with Avalon, the opposition would take matters into their own hands and declare war on Avalon. If he sided with the opposition, they would be at war anyway. It was a no-win situation for everyone and she saw it and was sure to bet that the Chancellor knew it too. He had listened to the proceedings with a look that gave the impression that he was bored but from experience, Senator Amstar knew that he was paying attention to every word that was being said.
The senator stood there looking at the air traffic run through Coruscant. The continuous line of speeders felt like the words and accusations that were bombarded against her. They kept running and running; there seemed to be no end to the train of insults and carefully timed jabs meant to insult. She wished that she could be somewhere else, some place safe and away from the obvious hatred, distrust and dislike that she had been forced to look at in the face. Still she would hold her head up high. She was a woman. She had the heart of the handmaidens and she could face the Senate. She stood up straight and breathed in deeply. When the senator of Ryloth came to fetch her, she looked every bit like the women warriors spoken of in legend.