Normally, being out of the lab and in the field, scouting and collecting data was relieving, even meditative for the woman. Though with recent events and her last attempt to collect data, it left with irreparable consequences that the galaxy was now learning. Questions still swarm in her mind, the memories replayed not only in her wake, but also when she slept, and her mind often played romanticized what if games with a being...or a creature that no longer was that individual. However, being back in the field meant a distraction from the chaos; she continued to worry about the whereabouts of her nephew, herself and her teams working non-stop to find some connection to the coordinates he had taken. She hoped this station she wished to set up would be able to aid in collecting space anomaly readings and open up more options to making something seem go right at least.
What also made this particular meeting tense was the liaison she was to meet was in fact a Jedi Knight. She certainly had her opinions of the Jedi, but had tried to keep a more open mind with her MIA nephew now a part of their Order. Trust was hard to give, and there was a nervous apprehension that the Jedi Knight would pick up on when the woman, dressed in loose fitting light trousers and white long sleeve blouse, would meet him face to face. Her red hair was braided over her shoulder and her pack was slung over her shoulders. She carried herself with confidence, trying to keep an optimistic attitude to how things would go with the local village heads who would give their final say in whether or not she could add her work to their world. She rolled up her sleeves under the dry heat of the morning sun and extended her hand to a bearded man just outside the town.
"Hello, I'm Anat, are you the Jedi?" she asked him. The man looked at her for a long time and Tia begun to retract her palm, slowly backing around him, Perhaps not...
She continued onward into the town, looking for the Jedi.
The piece of wood split into two as they fell to the ground. Jonas picked up the two pieces and stacked them in the pile before placing another piece of wood on the block he was using. It had been some time since he had to spend time splitting wood. In his youth, he had hated every second of it, endless groaning to his parents. The thought brought a smile to his face. This morning he found it quite relaxing, meditative even.
Another piece of wood split and fell to the ground. The process continued. Jonas wore worn pants and boots with long sleeve shirt and sleeves pushed up. He had been in the village for some time, helping them navigate through their dry season. He would have to leave soon. He had shown them better, more efficient ways to grow their crops. He had used the Force to encourage seeds to sprout. He wanted to look up river before he left. The body of water had been reduced to a muddy stream which had only made this dry season even more painful for the villagers.
More wood fell to the ground. As he stacked the pieces, he noticed a woman coming down the way. She had stopped and talked with one of the villagers who had pointed at him. He leaned against his axe, wiping the sweat from his forehead. His lightsaber hung at his hip.
Tiamat followed the worn road to where a figure was chopping wood, catching the glimpses from the villagers who were attending to their chores and duties to ensure they could sustain themselves in the coming weeks. The woman had heard from the port city about the struggles folks were having with getting things to grow; it was unnaturally dry this year and draught threatened to bring in other forms of deterioration and waste. She paused, brushing some loose strands of red hair from her forehead as she waved to the jedi.
This time she knew he was a jedi as evidence by the lightsaber that hung from his belt. There was a natural inclination to be vigilant, her training had taught her as much, though she seemed to mask it well, projecting perhaps some mild insecurity for being out of her element here.
He greeted her and the woman grinned, "Hello, I'm Anat." she told him, "I was told to meet with a Jedi, which must be you..." she frowned briefly looking at the axe and the stack of wood, "Are you?" she questioned, brow furrowed as she never really took Jedi to be ones chopping wood.
He leaned over and picked up a canteen off of the ground and took a pull from it before tossing it back on the ground. He took a step forward and offered a hand. "Its a pleasure, Anat. I'm Jonas." he greeted in return.
"I am," he responded. He wasn't sure why someone would come out here looking for a Jedi. They were kind of out in the middle of nowhere. "There are certainly easier places to run into one of us," he said with a smile.
"How can I help you?" he asked curiously. He picked up the last two pieces of wood off of the ground and placed them neatly on the stack, and brushed his hands off.
Tiamat gave him a small nod, noting his name as he quipped about easier places to find a jedi. She took his hand, giving a gentle squeeze, feeling his own inner calm, a warmth that nearly startled her. Tia felt suddenly odd for even accepting the gesture as she glanced at him then back at her hand before releasing it. Unknown to him, she could speak from experience in finding jedi as she had her fair share of crossing paths with them. Now it seems as though his leader, the Grandmaster Alex, has taken a liking and so much as to pop in on her when she felt the woman needed a visitor.
The redheaded woman watched Jonas as he finished stacking the last few pieces of wood, "I was wondering if you could help me speak with the village leaders." she started, "I am looking to build a small lab and observatory nearby as part of Asteria Industries." Tia turned slightly, pointing in the direction near some of the mountainous regions nearby. "I was advised to come to you first since you could possibly have better relations with them...compared to me, an off-worlder coming in to tell them what's up." she frowned hoping he would understand and could help.
He listened to the woman's request, expression neutral. His eyes turned towards the mountains as she pointed. The farmers in the area did use that as grazing grounds for their herds. He could see some contention there.
"I certainly don't mind mediating a meeting. I warn you; I don't have any real authority here. These people make their own decisions." he said honestly. While he didn't have authority, he had spent time here and earned the trust of the village leaders, which is likely why someone would have pointed her to him in the first place.
The village elders were somewhat weary of outsiders. "Mind if I ask what type of research Asteria Industries wants to do here?" he asked. His tone was casual and conversational with no real suspicion though he was curious why there was a need for such a facility so far out in the middle of nowhere.
Tia slightly frowned upon his warning, though she felt she should have expected as such, from what she understood the Jedi don't necessarily power over those they guide. However, she was still relieved he was willing to mediate, she wanted at least a chance to see if it were possible before returning to the drawing board.
She nearly did a double-take when Jonas asked her about her research, "What type of research?" she was taken aback, thinking it was obvious why she would be here.
"To continue to support modernizing the hypergates." she said, a bit of pride in her tone as she felt herself stand a little taller, "I rediscovered the hypergates, studied their technology, fill the holes with new technology and return the gates to civilian use." Tia explained, "We can jump from precise points either from planet to planet or using spacegates, we can eliminate the need for hyperspace travel and create instant travel from one end of the galaxy to the other. I come to worlds like this one because space is so unpredictable, we need more data coming in to keep the hypergates safe and functional." the redheaded woman glanced at Jonas, making sure he followed.
He listened as she spoke, nodding occasionally. He was no scientist but could certainly sense her passion for the topic. "Quite fascinating," he said.
"Sense it sounds like you have built these facilities elsewhere. Were there any negative impacts on the communities surrounding them?" he asked. He extended his senses slightly, not as far as to touch her mind but enough to give him a better idea of the truth behind her words. He wouldn't leave these people in the hands of someone who would poison the world.
"Also, these folks are not especially welcome outsides. Something that may help your case with them is coming to the table with how your presence may benefit them," he said. "They are not selfish people but will be more receptive to you if you make the effort," he suggested.
Whether or not he understood what she was talking about, there was some appreciation that he was listening and not fully glazing over which she was entirely used to by now. He asked his question, a good one in her opinion and one that she knew the civilians here would also inquire.
"Minimal." she stated. As Jonas would feel the Force around the woman's words, there was not too much to feel. "We're not going to bring anything that would jeopardize their homes. It will just be a sensor system to measure different waves. It is safer to keep them on world, than in space due to the risk of well, just about anything up there." she explained, "We try to give back, whether its supplies or funding, plus the bonus of added security that help with raids and pirates that may be problematic out here."
Tia paused before entering the common hall taking a deep breath and entering. Many have gathered inside with the arrival of the newcomer, there were three men who remained standing, seeming to be the ones she needed to convince her presence would be beneficial. Their eyes went from herself to the jedi, Jonas, seeing if he approved of the newcomer before beginning.
"Hello, I am Anat, thank you for taking time to meet." the woman extended her hand, shaking each of them. "I am interested in expanding sensor relays in the northwest mountains, but I understand it is part of your township." Tia paused looking between them.
"It is." the most elderly of the three spoke. She glanced at Jonas, feeling she was about to crash and burn on this proposal. He was certainly right they were not welcoming to outsiders.
"I wanted to know how we can come to a compromise, to allow my sensor station to be built, but also knowing how I can support your village also."
He didn't detect any deceit in her voice, so he didn't push further. She seemed genuine, and it sounded like it could be a good partnership between her and the village if they could arrange it.
He nodded as they neared the council building. He smiled and gave a nod when one of the councilor's gaze shifted to him. Jonas stood to buy as the woman introduced herself to the council. She received a fairly standard cold response from the council. They often did this, hoping to scare away those that would waste their time.
"Councilors, I have spoken with this woman. I think it wise to at least her out and how this partnership could benefit the village," he spoke up, feeling the mood in the room turning south. He wouldn't go as far as using the Force to sway anyone's opinions, but speaking up so she could at least be fully heard out was something he was comfortable with.
"Water." an elderly councilwoman spoke up. "We need better access to water. The creek is dried up. Can you fix that?" she asked bluntly.
Jonas turned back to Anat to see if she had an answer.
Her gaze flickered to Jonas as he spoke, giving his support of confidence in the woman's proposal. Though the tension in the room was thick, she didn't need the Force to tell her that. She felt herself holding her breath until another spoke, her attention turned to the woman as she uttered a single word: water.
Tia's eyebrows rose in curiosity, it wasn't unheard of that water was always a precious resource and giving just seeing the terrain on her way inside, she could understand. The creek was dried up, and she glanced at Jonas and then back to the council, "Yes," it was a weird thing to say, especially to people she did not know. "I can order in moisture vaporators until we are able to find accessible wells or figure out what is causing the creek to dry up." she offered, thinking what would be fastest way to get water to the village.
"I can also see this is done before we build to ensure it would not further disrupt the barriers to water." Tia further offered, hoping they would give her a chance to show she was not some typical corporate tycoon.
He stood by and listened. He nodded slightly when Anant looked at him. "Help restore our water, and we will provide land and assistance with your project. You are responsible for this one, Jedi." the eldest said.
They then unceremoniously kicked both of them out. "Don't feel bad, they still treat me like that, and I have been here for months, and that happens to me all the time," he said as they walked away from the building.
"You really think these vaprotiors will do the trick?" he said, not totally convinced.
"Well, since I am apparently here for the time being, is there anything I can do to help?" he asked. If she were going to help these people with their water issues, he would aid in whatever way he could.
They seemed to accept the offer, and it would be a challenge no doubt to see that she was successful. A part of her wanted to throw up her hands and call it a loss, but for her work and research, it was important. Her blue eyes flickered to Jonas as the village leaders placed Jonas on some overseer duties. However, before she was able to say more, she and the Jedi found themselves outside once more. The Jedi spoke, reassuring it was a normal occurrence even as long as he has been present.
He asked about the vaporators and heard the skepticism and Tia frowned, "As a permanent solution? No." she said taking out her holopad and begun sending orders to purchase and install the vaporators here. "However, it will work until what could be figured out with the water table here." She paused and pulled up some of the natural vegetation from the sandy soil, "It could be just draught." she suggested and sighed, thinking what Jonas could help her with while she waited here.
"Well, since it will be a week or so before the vaporators arrive, maybe we can go see what is happening up there..." she pointed to the mountains were the rivers started. It could give some answer as to why the draught was even occurring. She felt she would immediate regret the suggestion as she started to think about the mountain hike and the work she could be doing instead. However, the redhead was naturally inclined to curiousness and this certainly pulled it.
"I could go for a climb!" he said as they made their way down the dirt path. "The stream that runs through town is fed by a mountain spring up there." he said, pointing to a mountain in the distance.
"The spring is in a cave, and there is no good place to land a ship up there." he said, explaining why he hadn't already done so.
"So if you expand these hyper gates, what's to stop the galaxy from tearing itself apart?" he asked genuinely. "While it would be a great boon for the people, it would also allow governments to move armies much more quickly and strike at targets normally beyond reach, would it not?" he asked. There wasn't any judgment in his voice, though it was something he would be concerned about. Maybe she hadn't thought about it.
They stopped by his place, grabbed his climbing supplies, and were off. "have you done any climbing before?" he asked as they headed toward the mountains.
His explanation about the river answered any curiosity as to why it had not been investigated yet. The people here probably couldn't afford injury during hard times. Tia followed him as he gathered his supplies, inquiring more about her hypergates, his concern, in typical Jedi fashion involved war. "The intent you describe sounds like a bad thing, but imagine if the ISC had access to hypergates when Corellia was attacked by both the killiks and the former sith empire, how many lives could have been saved that day." she explained, the topic made her chest tighten as she remembered watching her homeworld being attacked.
"Or, during a cataclysm, we would be able to access worlds faster and hopefully save more lives." she explained, "Technology is a tool." she added, glancing at the Jedi before her gaze returned to the mountain where they would start climbing, "Yeah, I'm not too bad at it." she told him, but then was quick to return to defending her tech, "Like your saber, its a tool, but in the wrong hands, with the wrong intent it can hurt many, right?" her eyebrows rose as she waited for his response. Despite her words, she was ambivalent on how her technology was used; surely she could pick and choose who had access, but as for their purpose in the future, she was like any other shipwright in the galaxy. "Are you any good at climbing?" she asked quickly, suddenly wondering where his skill set laid.
However in her own aspirations, she wished to continue to rule the stars, it is where she believed the real power in the galaxy resided; and it felt good to know there wasn't really anyone else who was close to the discoveries she had made.
He listened quietly, letting her fully explain her side, occasionally nodding. He spread his hands in mock surrender as she made her point about tools. "Fair point." he said with a smile. "Perhaps I am too cynical." he admitted. "Its an all too easy trap to fall in these days." he added. "Hopefully, your tool will be a great boon to the people of this Galaxy." he said truthfully. Even if he was cynical, He wanted her to be right.
"Not bad. I had a teacher growing up who was obsessed, and she used it during her teaching often." he said, the thoughts of his old master bringing back warm feelings. "I hated it as a child." he admitted. "..But now..I find it somewhat relaxing."
They approached a cliff face they would need to climb to reach the spring above. He slipped on a harness and ensured his climbing companion did the same. He handed the hook launcher to her before grabbing his own. Pointing at the top of the ledge, he fired and clipped the line to his harness before he started scaling the wall.
The mention of his teacher made her wonder if he meant his master as a jedi youngling as he described the differences of preference between then and now. The woman quirked an eyebrow and looked at the cliff and then back to him, upon his description of it being relaxing. Vegging on the couch in sweatpants, watching sappy holos, and eating a pint of ice cream was what she considered to be a relaxing activity. At least if she is on a couch, she didn't have to worry about slip ups and plummeting to her death or coma at the bottom.
Tia put on her equipment also, taking the hook launcher and saw where he had aimed and followed. She clipped the line to the belt of her harness and started to move. It felt like ages since she had done this though, taking more time to find her gripping but the muscle memory remained; regardless, it would take the better part of the day before they would reach the top.
She rested quietly by the ledge, feeling ready to be done and return to more civilized amenities like a hot bath, but they only just started, and she couldn't leave anyways until the shipment for vaporators arrived. She took a couple drinks from her canteen, turning to observe the uneven terrain.
"Have you ever been able to get up here?" she asked.
He had watched over her carefully the first few minutes, but even in her unpracticed state, she clearly had experience. They spent hours scaling the mountain, the air growing cool as they reached the top. It had been no simple climb, but they had made it in decent enough time.
They rested at the top, the once-green landscape a swathe of different browns. Jonas frowned slightly at the scene below. Perhaps this woman would hold part of the key to restoring this area.
"I haven't tried. Before now, there had been other, more guaranteed ways to help the village," he said truthfully. "I would have likely made my way up here eventually, but I am not terribly hopeful an easy solution is up here." he admitted.
He took out his own cantine and took a sip, leg hanging over the edge. "So, you do much climbing in your line of work? You were pretty good. I can't imagine the cross-section between climbers and hypergate researchers is large, " he said with a grin.
The Knight sat beside her as they had rested; he complimented her climbing skills, still curious about how it related to her work. The woman smirked, "Well, not all my work was in a lab. I started out in the field, searching for remnants of the old gates or where they could have been eons ago." she explained, "I had to be really good at climbing, the areas I visited were not easily accessed, eroded, long forgotten by civilization." Tia's gaze softened as she walked through her memories in silence. What she didn't include was the amount of climbing around she had to do when she was on her own, descending into trash, looking for high places to tuck herself away from danger.
The galaxy was not a kind place, and perhaps that is why she continued to be weary of any kindness she encountered.
"Back at my summer home, as a kid I always wanted to climb the cliffs near the cottage, but couldn't because the ocean waves beneath were so dangerous." she shared, then frowned, "When I see their village down below and the lack of any viable plant life, I feel sadness...like as though I were to look upon my own home and see the ocean dried up." she glanced to Jonas before looking back to the horizon and to the buildings in the distance. It was a weird feeling to describe, one that she had not experienced often, let alone share with a stranger.
He listened intently as she spoke, generally interested in her experience. "Ah." he finally said when she finished. "I suppose that makes a lot of sense. I can imagine you have seen the ruins you have seen in your research has been quite an impressive experience." he said.
Then her words went back further, more personal, more raw. His expression grew more somber; he looked at her as she spoke. "Hrrmm." he sounded. "I have experienced the loss of a home before; I understand that worry," he said with a nod, briefly thinking back to his earliest days in the Jedi on Ajan Kloss.
"Well, with a little luck, perhaps we should find a solution for these people yet, and if not, we will find some other way." he said. "You ready?" he said, taking a final sip of water before stowing his cantine.
Above, they would find what once was a large mountain spring but now was just a muddy hole. The spring was fed by a nearby cave that ran into the mountain. "We will have to travel into the cave to discover what happened to the water source." he said, making his way toward the cave entrance.