Friend or Foe
Episode 13: Decision
The fear and foreboding in her eyes made me gulp. Arako’ant always looked level headed and calm, until we came to Malastare. Her word was still hanging in the air, and neither Osam nor I dared to break that silence. The Jedi master was still more looking like she was light years away, instead of here with us. She raised her glass again for a refill. I looked at her padawan. He nodded to do it and I poured again a large gulp of the liquor in her glass. But this time she didn’t drank it straight, but stared at the drink, like she was collecting her courage to talk.
Her voice was barely more than a whisper when she spoke.
“The Force granted me a short moment of foresight, though it was more emotion than vision. Somewhere amongst the relics in the temple, there is a map hidden to an ancient machine. The presence I felt in the temple itself, before the Sith emerged, was like you said a friendly voice that warned us for evil.”
She took a smaller sip of the booze. I felt a chill running over my spine, like someone stepped on my grave. Here it comes, I thought.
“It was an ancient voice, from before the time of the Republic in its young years,” she finished. Osam looked at his master, with questions in his big fishlike eyes. “Should we tell this?” he asked her. She nodded in sad melancholy.
“What I’m about to say, is something we Jedi have dreaded that would happen again after Revan went into exile. You may have heard of the war, more than three centuries ago. Darth Malak and Darth Revan found artifacts known as the Starmaps. These maps were not planted by the Republic, but by a race of sentients called the Rakata. They were the rulers of the galaxy. At first, other civilizations could emerge, since the Rakata didn’t go everywhere. They needed to travel to planets where the Force was strong and not every planet is suited for that. But the problem with the Rakata was their extensive use of the dark side of the Force. They became corrupted and vile beings. Not just rulers of the galaxy, but tyrants. They constructed massive weapons to obliterate those other civilizations once they had been revealed to the Rakata. But as in all societies, not everyone is evil. What I felt in that temple, was the touch of something I have never felt before. I felt a strong presence in the light side of the Force, and it seemed to me to be one of those few uncorrupt Rakata. Due to the events that transpired 300 years ago, we knew that there would be more remnants of the Infinite Empire. But when, or what…”
She paused for a moment to drink. “I do not know enough to say for sure what the information in the temple hints at, but this presence, this Rakata, seemed adamant that we would hurry. That was the most prominent thing that came to me. When we arrived at the center of the temple, I could see some hints of what the spirit was talking about. I haven’t had enough time to look around properly, but we did record as much as possible so I can check data and study it with the help of Osam. But the hints…”
She paused again and drank her glass empty. I waited for a few moments, but I knew I needed to press through. I need to know what kind of threat would cause Arako’ant such fear.
“Tell me, master Jedi,” I asked. “I can take it. If this is a clue also to why Erlena has betrayed us, the better.”
Osam walked behind his master and put his left hand on her shoulder to give her some assurance, like a son worried about his mother. A short smile cut through the pale look of the woman.
“The temple hints at something massive, something destructive. But what, I do not know yet. I need to study what we found at the temple. But what I did foresee in those moments before the Sith entered, was that planets were being obliterated. With sheer power we have not yet come across. If this gets in the hands of the Sith Empire, we are all lost, whatever it is.”
And Erlena is hunting for it already, I thought, we have wasted a lot of valuable time. I have wasted too much time. “Damn!” I shouted and hurled my glass through the room, shattering it against the wall of the conference room. I landed my fist with force on the conference table. I tried to calm myself. “Damn.” I said in a quieter voice. Anger was trying to take the best of me.
The two Jedi looked at me, Arako’ant with sadness and understanding in her eyes, Osam with mild discomfort. I looked at the shattered glass and remembered a few words that Erlena always told to me. “Do not let your anger fuel needless rage. Channel it into something productive. Anger and hate kill you, they do not help you.”
I took a deep breath and used a calming technique Erlena had taught me. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering… That was her favorite way to tone me down when I was throwing a fit about the Hutts during our negotiations. And at this moment I fear for more than just myself. And with this news, though still ambiguous, the mission looks even bleaker than I thought. I already knew that it would be massive hassle to find Erlena, but now with the Sith on this same trail and this Rakata destructive power, we were in a lot of Bantha poodoo.
The Jedi waited for me to calm down. I turned my head upwards from the table, but did not look at the woman. I tried to talk with as much calm as I could muster. “My apologies. How long will it take to really understand the material that we have gathered?”
“Depends,” the Jedi master answered. “We did have some training in the language due to the findings during Revan’s redemption. Their engravings in the structures there on the planet have given the Jedi scholars a lot of work to tend to. It was only a matter of time before we would run into more of the Infinite Empire. And now we have. I cannot guarantee that we understand the entire text completely. To give this a proper look, we need an archeologist that specializes in this specific field.”
I thought about this a long time. “We still need to go to Tatooine. After this incident, we most definatly need a different ship.” A shimmer of understanding came across the face of Osam, like he knew something. I looked at him and back to the woman. She looked at her apprentice and gave him a nod to speak up. “Didn’t Revan also travel to Tatooine? Why not hit two birds with one stone? We find an archeologist and get a different craft?”
This stung me. This ship has been my home for so long. “Are you sure about that?”
Osam gave me a look that said more than a thousand words. “You should know better than that, Captain. I know this ship means a lot to you, but the mission is way more important.”
I thought about this a long time. “We still need to go to Tatooine. After this incident, we most definatly need a different ship.” This realization stung me. My home for so long now…
A glimmer came over Osam’s face, like he’d realized something. I looked at him and back to the woman. She looked at her apprentice and gave him a nod to speak up. “Didn’t Revan also travel to Tatooine? Why not hit two birds with one stone? We find an archeologist and get a different craft?”
“Good point. Tatooine is known for their… junk ships. Maybe we can find something there. But it will take a lot of packing from our side,” I said.
“We are not near Tatooine yet, Kaydein,” Osam replied. “I know that this must be one of the more difficult decision that you have made. I know how captains can get attached to their ship, but in service of the mission, this is the best road to take.” I nodded in agreement.
We left the conference room. The Jedi would return to their research and translation of the materials that they recorded. I trotted towards my station and looked at Iridom and I took a deep breath to organize what I wanted to say. I opened the com for all the sections.
“Everyone, this is the captain speaking. As I’m sure you all remember, we encountered the Sith armada on Malastare. The Corona is now known to them. So we’re making another detour to Tatooine. We need intel and we need to find supplies to make ourselves look like pirates. But that is not the most important part of the message. When we arrive at Tatooine, we have to leave the vessel. For most who have served under me, you’ve never known another ship. But we must, if we want this mission to succeed. We cannot let our memories and knowledge of the Corona get in the way in what needs to be done. Tatooine will be an easy place to ditch the ship. I want all of you to realize that this is not a defeat. This is necessary. The mission is more important than just us. Even though I have not yet told why we are on this mission, you all realize by now this has to do with Erlena. She has uncovered something of grave danger, but what, we don’t know yet. But I implore you, if I have ever done anything to earn your trust, that you must trust me now the most. The lives of the innocent civilians we choose to protect are more important than our vessel, our home. If we do not stop the Sith, the Republic will not be able to withstand their onslaught. We all know what happens if we do not fight them. Either in the shadow or in the light. We all have lost people we cared for because of the ruthlessness of the Sith. Coruscant, Alderaan and many other planets will be overthrown if we do not stop this threat. We cannot go home, we cannot call for help, we are on our own. This is what we need to do. This is what has to be done to protect the innocent. This is what we signed up for. This is why we choose to be a part of the Republic military. This is why we fight. For the Republic!”
The crew cheered.
To be continued…