[Legend of Sacul] Incoming Storm

TweedPawn

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The sun rose on the plains. It was a day, just as many before it. In many ways, Sacul rarely changed. Great herds of wild wooly cattle roamed the grasses, flanked by the wild horses. Badgers, large and fierce like a nightmare come alive, kept to the forest and feasted on the weak and dead. Modestly-sized saber-toothed cats kept to the grasses, ambushing any foolish enough to let their guard down.

This was only the plans. A meager sliver of the planet that had been explored. There were similar slivers or the countries of Skagrit and Whitestone, but they had different hardships. No one knew what the North had, but everyone knew what Skagrit had. Skagrit was now dealing with a predator no one else had ever faced, a dictatorship.

The Plainsfolk resisted and offered their help to the few Skagrit that tried to fight the new government. The were small victories. The losses were always dire.

There was a new major victory for the plains folk: information. When Della and the other Jedi arrived, they shared everything they knew about the Sith to the Plainsfolk. Each jedi had a skill that quickly won over the distrusting Snamreg.

Fyston's incredible medical skill brought advancement to the Snamreg's medicine and even taught Della's mother new techniques to advance her craft in pharmacy. He was the first Jedi the snamreg warmed up to. They even tried to speak to him before he was able to study their language with Della's help. There were always strangers showing up at the Frey's hoping to get medical advice from the new Doctor for any medical ill such as boils, lice, to steel rebar that was lodged into a man's leg. Fyston had to be afforded the other building that was used for the Frey's funeral home so he could have space to practice medicine. He was gracious enough to allow Elle to practice alongside of him.

Daiyu was the next to prove himself. He worked diligently to repair and modify machinery. He was quick to understand the rifles the Snamreg used. He also seemed to take delight in their rudimentary crop dusting airplanes. The Snamreg were eager to show him their technology and hopeful about his proposed changed. Thanks to Daiyu, he was able to rig the short range com links to record Snamerg language and help the galactics learn.

Lain had the hardest time. She was withdrawn, frightening at times. But she was always happy around Della. She and Della were able to rekindle their lost friendship. For Della, it felt like the early days of Tython, before Lain turned and left the Jedi.

Della and Erica had their own experiences. Della was often distracted and trying to help Erica and the others assimilate into Snamreg culture. She tried to teach Erica the subtle hints of body language. Erica seemed to be having her own issues with becoming isolated. Della was feeling the same, but it as for other reasons. She knew Geist Weiss would come. He would have to ne dealt with.

That meant Rhonun needed to get here some how.

It was still early morning when Della sat with Lain, Fyston, Daiyu, and Erica as she ate breakfast.

"We need Rhonun to come. Any ideas on how we can bring him here?"
 

Black Noise

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Sacul truly was beautiful. The less Laine tried to care, the more often she found herself standing in the midst of the rolling green plains. Spending many hours out there, Laine had much time to meditate, and had begun to focus and train her abilities in Sensing, Sight, and ShockBoxing. While her physical strength hadn't gotten much better, she could feel herself gaining more and more endurance for fighting. She knew all the movements involved in ShockBoxing, having done much reading on it. However, she had not gained mastery of the techniques, she needed the techniques to be instinctive, not just well thought out.

Laine, on occasion, tried to approach some of the Snamreg and speak to them. She had learned very few words, and even fewer sentences, though not from lack of trying nor lack of a teacher. Della was an excellent help, but Laine's gift was, clearly, not in language. Regardless of that, the Snamreg clearly avoided her, children both ran of their own accord and were told by their parents to avoid Laine. A few of these people clearly felt the Force, yet even those who did not were wary of Laine. Having a frightening demeanor almost always, never around Della though, and occasionally training darker abilities in the plains gave these a people a right to be wary of her.

However, that is not to say Laine had not begun trying to change herself. She started with a smile, forcing herself to smile every time she saw someone, the less she carried a frightening demeanor, the less likely they would turn their heads at the sight of her. Perhaps one day, they would see Laine as a friend, or at least a soldier willing to fight for them.

The breakfast meal to set Laine off inside had started like any other. Laine had returned from outside, having gone for a walk before the sun even began to rise, and spoke with Della for a moment before the meal was prepared. Sitting, and thanking the creator of the meal for the food, she had only begun to eat when Della spoke.

Laine coughed, almost choking. Jealously rising up very quickly, yet Laine did her best to keep it concealed both outwardly and through the Force. Looking over to Della, Laine insisted.
"Why? We can attack on our own, don't we have the number advantage now with all of us here? Would, wouldn't Rhonun be in more danger if he came?"
Laine tried to mask it, but it was hard. She disliked Rhonun, borderline hated him. The Cathar had taken her lover from her before Laine even had a chance, and he took her hand once, this much Laine remembered of him, and had been informed off in casual conversation. It was only Della's love for the Cathar that Laine did not utterly despise him.
 

Fyston

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Unlike during his self-exile, there was no downtime for the Knight. Between the new medical practice, teaching people first aid and other medical skills, and his daily training regimen, he always seemed to go to bed tired. He hadn't even had time to explore the surrounding area and get into various shenanigans, though he knew that Della probably liked it better that way.

The Knight had set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to his language studies and, while he was no better than a 12 year old, he could communicate with the Force when regular language failed him. His improved knowledge in the language allowed even easier understanding when he had to rely on the Force and even allowed him to recall difficult words when they were needed. He also set aside two hours in the evening to training. Sometimes he did it by himself, other times he tried to train with Lain or Daiyu. He wondered whether he should take them as students considering they were both Force Sensitive. Lain probably knew more than he did and he hadn't had much time to sit down with Daiyu. Fyston made a mental note to do that soon. In the mornings, he meditated for an hour to clear his mind and attune himself to the will of the Force, though he made sure to keep his Force Signature low enough so that not even the other Jedi onworld could sense him.

He scarfed down his toast and had begun wolfing down his eggs when Della spoke. Unlike Lain, who almost choked, Fyston felt the large chunk of eggs lodge in his throat. Where others might panic and begin waving around frantically, the Knight kept a calm mind and used his training to make sure the oxygen currently in his body would last him. He kept still to prevent wasting the precious air and, indeed, the Knight looked bored. He nudged the chunk of eggs with the Force and manipulated his windpipe and diaphragm at the same time to cough up the eggs, catching it in his gloved hand before inspecting it and tossing it back in his mouth, content with getting to eat something twice.

Fyston also briefly felt a feeling of jealousy from Lain at the thought of contacting Rhonun and the Knight felt the same emotion rise in him. He began repeating the Jedi code in his mind, focusing so intently on it that any who felt his mind would see only the words of the Jedi code. He'd wanted to get closer to Della in the past month, but had been kept so busy that it was like they had been on two different planets. It pained him physically at times, and the Knight felt just as lonely with her near him and in his life than he had when he was alone, if not slightly more so. He'd been doing his Moving Meditation at night, even if he had sparred with Lain or trained with Daiyu. His life had been like getting a taste of what he truly wanted, and had for more than a decade, and having it held right in front of his face. It was just out of reach, though he knew that it would get a whole lot farther with Rhonun onworld. Still, the Knight wanted Della to be happy.

Considering his upbringing, lying to those who knew what to look for while they held a blaster to his head, Fyston had no problem smiling. "We should. I could use the help and an extra sparring partner wouldn't be bad either." Fyston felt the same tick he always did when something bothered him. If his life were in danger or if it mattered, he could easily ignore it. However, this time he let it slide just in case they had been paying attention to his ticks. He withdrew his pistol from the makeshift holster on his thigh and dropped the clip, removing the round from the chamber and replacing it in the clip before beginning to take it apart. He could field strip it in record time considering he had designed the weapon, and he could keep up assembling it and disassembling it for hours if need be.
 

Jiang Winters

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One month.

Thirty days spent fixing airplanes, patching up random bits of technology, and trying to salvage as much as he could from the wrecked escape pod. Four weeks of non-stop tinkering and hard labor, both physical and mental. A solid month of being taught the Snamreg language in an attempt to fit in. Daiyu'd changed. It had started during the wreck, and that change had come about all but completely now. Everything about him had been altered. He walked differently, he thought differently, he spoke differently; the memories of another filled his mind, and made it impossible to determine where he - where Daiyu - began, and where the other ended. It had all intermingled, and the cat had long since lost his identity as Daiyu. He smiled as best he could and tried to plug along with the others, but in the end he was rather lost and confused. Most of all, that month of labor had left him emotionally bankrupt. He had very little left to give and, despite his own efforts, could feel himself becoming further and further detached from his own kind - his fellow galactics - and the Snamreg.

A quiet sigh rolled off the cat's lips as Della spoke up, and Laine promptly shot down the Snamreg woman's idea. His muzzle briefly opened to point out that contacting Rho without a subspace radio would be nigh-impossible, but he shut his maw and went to idly poking at his food. Stone dust, grease, and petrol stained the fur of his hands and face. A wet washrag had taken the worst of it off, but it was still there. He'd flown down from an old mine he'd found, where he was busily setting up a home for himself. So far it was just a dirt road serving as an impromptu airstrip, a fuel truck, and a mineshaft filled with random bits of equipment. Given time and a little more resources, and he'd turn it into a decent home for himself. He'd already scavenged enough gravity panels from the escape pod to outfit a living space, and with some resources he could fabricate more. He just needed time.

Fy piped up, agreeing that Rho should be brought in. He could bear being silent no longer, and spoke - as was usual, in Katari, and addressed straight to Fyston. He'd given up entirely on making himself understood to anyone but Fy. "<We don't have a working subspace radio or a holonet beacon. Even if we had the latter, Sacul is uncharted, so there's no holonet access here. Getting a message to Rhonun will be next to impossible.>"

The feline looked back to his food and frowned slightly. He realized that he'd turned into a little ray of sunshine - perhaps losing touch with his identity had made him a pessimist. If it had, who could blame him? Losing track of one's soul was more than a little stressful.
 

TweedPawn

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Della could feel it the lack of support. It radiated from the others. She became crestfallen, her face clearly reflecting the burdens on her mind. She was mentally exhausted, wearing down. Her mother and father kept her spirits up. Claude offered his strange visions and dreams that were promising, but they also showed signs of bad fortune. Della said nothing, though there were thousands of words she wanted to use.

She had detected jealousy and doubt. She should have known. Some things didn't change after all, no matter what amends and forgiveness was offered. She had so much hope. Della finished her meal silently after that. Then she gathered her plate and promptly excused herself to try to distract her mibd with farm chores. There was much to be done on a farm, just as always. She kept herself from tearing up, as her throat burned.

Erica also sensed the ripples in the Force as Della had. Unlike Della, she became angry. She bit her tongue until Della went out of the room.

"You guys are assholes." the child spat. Unlike Della, she refused to kept her opinions closeted. The child was a brat, but not of the whining variety. Her time watching the grownups around her curse taught her some new ways of carrying herself.

"First of all," she turned to Lain. "you think that Geist is not going to bring reinforcements after figuring out his ship carrying Jedi cargo crashed? He knows Della's escaped. I'll bet money on it. I met the man, I heard of some of his scientific work when I was in imperial space. He's a scientist and very cunning. He's not going to show up empty handed, especially given Della's track record of escaping and causing trouble."

She then turned to Fyston. She said nothing, but the child had sensed the way Fy had choked on his eggs. She stared good and hard at him. She didn't know what was his story with Della, but Erica wasn't going to tolerate it. She huffed, just as she had seen other Snamreg do when they wanted to say something, but refused to.

Finally she turned to Daiyu.

"I have no idea what you say anymore. But you better start drawing crap out. We need another big guy like Daiyu. Lain had a ship, right? Can't we use her vessel to send a signal? Even if she doesn't, I bet the Sith in Skagrit will have a radio. How else would they contact Geist?"
 

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Laine stood up, the darkness inside her shooting up like a demon. She knew what Geist would do, she was his apprentice for kriff's sake. But bringing Rhonun, in Laine's mind, would solve nothing. Rhonun hated Laine, or at least he should, Laine cut off his hand after all. And bringing in Rhonun before Laine had a chance to kill Geist would end with Rhonun's death, Geist would kill him without a second thought and it would crush Della.

Looking over at Erica, Laine gave a look of annoyance and replied.
"Ignorance is the mother of accidental death. Do not blame me if the inevitable end of Rhonun Tor crushes Della."

At that, Laine cleared her plate and left the table. She headed straight out to where she knew Della would be, working at farm chores to get her mind off of things. Moving behind her so that she could be heard, but not seen easily, Laine spoke to Della.
"If you asked me to move a mountain, I would do it. If you but wished for galactic peace, I would make it my life pursuit to bring it about. If it is Rhonun you long for, then I will see to it he comes here. I still have the ship I came in on, not only does it contain a long range transmitter, but it also holds the coordinates to Sacul. I, I'm sorry for how I acted, it's just that I still remember, enough, about Rhonun. I don't want to see either of you hurt."

Truly, Laine was remorseful for how she had acted. But the part about not wanting to see either of them hurt was a lie. She would never wish Della harm, but somewhere deep down she wished Rhonun were dead. And if it weren't for Laine's love of Della, her driving force that wanted Della to never be sad, Laine may have sought to end Rhonun Tor herself.
 
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Fyston

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The Knight immediately sensed how Della reacted to the group and part of him felt bad. The other part, some part of him that had become barely a whisper, defended his thoughts with words that, while true, were far from Jedi-like. He stole the love of your life and injured you so severely that it activated an underlying condition that could have killed you. You forgave him for all of that. Now she expects you to deal with his constant presence right when you have a chance? Those whispers alone made him feel horrible. He shouldn't put his selfish motives in front of the good of others. He wanted Della to be happy, and his own greed likely ruined her day. His heart panged, as it did every time he looked at her, and he felt the familiar chest pain of heartache rise in his body.

Establishing a telepathic link with Daiyu as he rose, Fyston reassembled his pistol and, making sure the safety was on, chambered a round. I want to talk to you later, see if we can't get some stuff sorted out. The Knight then holstered his pistol and walked over to the door. Just as he was about to exit, he turned to regard Erica. "I'd like you to come with me." With that, he exited the door and waited to see if Erica would follow him.

Regardless, the Knight began a silent walk toward the forests about a mile away. His speed was brisk, filled with purpose. Considering he had a canteen, he didn't need to stop for breaks, though he could easily carry Erica on his back if she got tired. Regardless, Fyston was extremely quiet, looking but not seeing as thinking took over his mind. He'd done this walk enough that he could do it blindfolded. Granted, he didn't need his eyes to see, but the point was the same.

About 20 or 25 minutes later, he entered into the shaded clearing that he'd cleared over the past months. Grass was regrowing where he had pulled up stumps or where he had transplanted some on dirt patches. In the middle was a shelter, one built using four sturdy, straight branches and a bunch of smaller vines and branches woven together to provide support with leaves and pine needles to provide a thick roof that even the harshest of rains had trouble penetrating. He didn't really need to worry about the roof coming off, either, as mud worked as a good makeshift adhesive and the surrounding jungle was an excellent windbreak, bringing high winds down to a gentle breeze inside the grove.

The area also had the slightest of light side auras. It was subtle but strong, allowing those that entered the grove to feel the calming effects and to purify themselves if they so chose. Fyston had made sure to keep it low key, and the only way to find the grove without being in it was to know what you were looking for. Through the Force, that meant knowing it's general location and intensely searching for an aura. Physically, it meant knowing the exact path to the grove. Certainly, the latter was easier.

The Knight took a seat on one of the stumps, which had been dug up, separated from the roots, flattened, and made into a nice stool, and gestured to another stump for Erica to sit on. "I realize that you're not like most kids. I know you know something's up between me and Della. Your stare, your attitude, even your huffing. You caught on to what everyone else thought, so there's no reason you don't know something. Before we begin, when we're done, I'd like for you to go apologize to everyone. Everyone has their story and it's wrong to insult people when you don't know their story. Lain has been through quite a lot, and that's just from when I knew her. Daiyu has been through quite a lot, and that's just from what I've gathered while with him. You don't know the hardships people face every day, so don't judge them."

The Knight withdrew a large piece of jerky from his belt and tore it in half, handing half of it to Erica. "I'm not here to lecture you. I'm here to tell you what happened between Della and I. We met when I was 18. My Master, Shi-Gel-Hu, my brother, Sam, and I were sent to a ship that had contacted the Jedi with regards to a pickup. When we arrived, we realized that it was a person. Captain Brick filled us in on how his men had encountered what appeared to be smugglers. In the firefight, many were gunned down and only one had managed to escape. That person was Della Frey."

"She couldn't speak basic and just communicating was a hassle because there was also a body language barrier. Still, I had taken a liking to her. Nobody knew, and I kept it to myself. Shortly after she settled in to the Jedi Temple on Tython, however, there was another. Another Padawan, Rhonun Tor, got to know her. Our feelings led us to a love triangle, of sorts. That triangle led us to Nar Shaddaa when we realized that a Padawan, Lain Norisma or Derisma, was responsible for the death of another Padawan." The Knight's face had entered into one of recollection. His eyes had glossed over and the battles of his life could almost be seen replaying in his eyes. "We discovered that Lain had taken Della and we sought to stop her. There was a brief fight, one in which Rhonun lost one of his hands and Lain lost one of hers. I could have stopped Lain, but I let her go. I took Rhonun and Della on my ship and we returned to Tython. Rhonun and I were Knighted and things stayed about the same."

"Then, we hit a bump in the road. Della was being strange, at least to me, she was. Both Rhonun and I sensed something was up. I don't know what triggered it, but he attacked me in a fit of rage. He used Vaapad, I used Soresu. That form allowed me to live, but not without injury. He struck my leg, which flared up a genetic condition that I didn't know I had. Della left in self-exile and we couldn't find her."

"A few years later, everything culminated. I found out she had returned to us. To me. I asked to talk to her." The Knight's eyes began watering and turned red. His nose also began getting sniffly and his voice wavered once as he started talking again. "I wanted to marry her. I had a ring, I had a speech, I had everything. She said she wanted to tell me something, so I let her go first after I told her of my condition. She had chosen Rhonun. Do you know how hard that was for me? It had taken me countless hours awake yearning for her presence, for a chance to tell her how I felt. I hadn't slept the night before. Some of that was pain, most of that was the anticipation, the excitement, the anxiety. I couldn't understand. I didn't understand. He had attacked me, yet she chose him. I was extremely friendly, understanding, all that jazz. I waited until she was gone to let my control waver. I threw my cane at my wall and I left a large dent in it and the point had even stabbed through. Do you know how hard that is on metal walls? I screamed in wounded pain and threw the box that held the ring into the garbage compacter."

"My life seemed to lose it's meaning. I was dying a horrid death, I had no friends, and I had lost everything. Even my brother went MIA. I had nothing and nobody. I made up a defense mechanism and kept going. I focused on medicine to help maintain my defense. I sought to heal others where I could not be healed. With my words and actions, I sought to make everyone hurt like I hurt, as miserable as I was. I went on like that for nearly ten years, though I'm surprised I lasted that long. I didn't let the ring leave the Temple, though. I went through the garbage compacter a few days later and dug it out and it was still as pretty as it had been. I've saved it and kept it on my person as a reminder of what could have been."

"Imagine how I felt when we met back up on Empress Teta. I knew she had been married, and it pained me. Ever since that day, every thought of her causes my heart to pang with loneliness. I want nothing more than her happiness, but some part of me wishes I could be the source of that happiness. In the past month, I haven't been able to keep myself busy enough. When I'm waiting for bleeding to stop or for medicine to kick in or for more patients to arrive, I think of her. When I meditate, she creeps in. I can't stand it, Erica. I love it, but I hate it. I've been trying to get close again, but I know she deserves more than I can afford. I don't know what to do. I want her to be happy, but I can't bring myself to give up."

As he finished, Fyston wiped his face with his hands and looked at Erica, smiling slightly and offering her a drink from his canteen. "There you have it. That's my story. Does it fill in some of the blanks, at least?"
 
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TweedPawn

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Della had taken to cleaning the stalls where the horses were kept. She had yet to work up a sweat. The afternoons were taking longer to warm. Fall was coming. It was a rhythm that Della spent her entire life understanding.

The horse she once rode when it was a colt, Rumba, reached out to her and tugged at her shirt with its teeth from the adjacent stall. Della smiled and surrendered a sweet root she kept stashed in her pocket. She stroked the bridge of the animal's nose.

"I missed you." Della said as she pressed her forehead against Rumba's. She felt the breath of the horse against her shirt. Della petted the animal's neck, recalling the days when all she wanted to do was run faster than Rumba.

Della heard Lain. She turned around, but couldn't see her. Della's voice was soft when she responded, but full of sadness.

"I know you would bend the universe for me, Lain. I could never hold anything against you. Remember when you saved my life? You have done so much for me." Della walked out of the stall, searching for her friend. She wanted to be around Lain. She wanted to embrace her friend.

"Lain, I have no idea how we are going to stop Geist Weiss. Our only advantage is that he doesn't know our own numbers. But we don't know theirs, Lain." Della paused. Her thoughts being gathered.

"Lain, we need to collect information. You and I are the most silent of the group. We need to simply count the number of Sith. Will you come with me?" Della asked.

---------

Erica was quiet. Her thoughts gathering. She wanted to judge Fyston, and the rest of the Jedi. They were the reason Della didn't want to stay with the Xadens. She wanted to be angry, but she couldn't in this peaceful place. Instead, she bit her lip.

But, to hear Della's story for the very first time was an eye-opener. Della never opened up to her or the Xadens. If Della had been taken by the Xadens during her self-exile, she would have never wanted to leave.

"It fills in a lot. I remember hearing about your from the Xadens after Della was brought to our home to be our prisoner. She never opened up. Not once. They drugged her, tried to bribe her, did all sorts of mind tricks to get her to reveal her connections. She never gave in. Then, Jason fell in love with her."

"I remembered when She came to live with us. I was happy because I was going to get a brand new friend. The palace had these great walls that surrounded everything, it got lonely. We offered her everything. Dresses, gifts, all sorts of pretty things. She never wanted them."

"It's strange. Usually after a week, the prisoners start to settle. Two weeks, they become used to our routines for them. After a month, they start to accept their new home. We never mistreated them, but they were never allowed outside of those walls. To think that my cousin would have fallen for a prisoner was like a fairytale. Della should have been grateful. Instead, she kept trying to escape."

"I think it was because of you and Rhonun that she kept trying. At any point, she could have given in, confessed about Sacul to us, and we would have swooped in and saved her people for her. But she never talked about Sacul. Not once. "

"I don't understand her. She seemed so selfish. But I understand her better. This entire time, she was trying to protect you, Rhonun, and Sacul. I had no idea that the Jedi found her. I didn't know that she couldn't speak Basic or that she had been found by bandits. She rarely spoke about you, it hurt her too much."

"she thought you were dead." Erica sighed. Her expression somber.
 

Black Noise

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Della had said, 'count the number of Sith.' Laine had heard, 'reduce the number of Sith.' Either way, Laine stepped from the shadows and, smiling, replied.
"I would love to help."
Stepping up to give Della a quick embrace, as Laine had done many times before over the past few days as a way for Laine to mentally reassure herself that her friend was still there and not going anywhere, Laine nodded off towards the direction of the city which Laine landed her hidden ship outside of. She knew where the Sith were and Della, who had grown up on this world,, likely knew as well.

Tapping Della's shoulder to reassure Della that Laine had not left, Laine concentrated and caused herself to, fairly quickly, totally disappear. Force Cloak was a powerful, and draining ability, but Laine felt it would be necessary for her to sneak out of the village. She had no doubt Della was skillful enough to sneak out without aid of the Force, but Laine required a bit of an extra help.

Whispering quietly, Laine spoke.
"Lead the way, Della. I trust you."
Laine had, honestly, very little faith in her ability to remember the way they had come to this place on Sacul. But she knew Della would be able to sneak them out and through the forest towards where the Sith resided. So she would follow, disengaging her Force Cloak whenever she could in order to Revitalize her Force ability.

All the while, she tried to keep her mind off how exhausted this would all likely leave her at the end of the day.

--------------------------------

Eber sat, his chest still wrapped up in bandages as the last of his wounds from his excursion into the forest healed up, and groaned loudly. The Devaronian had been in constant pain and the medicine he was given, no matter how much he took, seemed to do absolutely nothing. While contemplating what punishments he would deal out if he could prove foul play in his beds, Eber spied Rechtum pacing in the corner. The human Sorcerer had not stopped talking to himself ever since Eber had come back with the half-dead Sithspawn monster.

The human knew, or remembered, something Eber did not. By listening in, he caught a few words on occasion and was able to piece together what the man was so stressed over. Geist Weiss and his damned apprentice. Geist had still not shown himself on the planet, yet both Sith knew he was on here somewhere, and his apprentice, who was supposed to arrive to assist them, never showed up. The Force revealed the apprentice's aura when her ship had landed somewhere outside of Skagrit, but after that the ship was nowhere to be found and the apprentice could not be felt.

While Eber had enough faith in his own abilities without Geist or Reichtum, Reichtum seemed to be worrying over it a bit too much. Sighing deeply, the Devaronian picked on the Sorcerer.
"If you've got such a headache from all this, why don't you try to think up a plan that doesn't involve Geist and his little schemes. We've held this planet for years in our grasp, so what if a few Jedi land here. It's been a while since a one on one challenge has actually presented itself to us. Though I seriously doubt any of the Jedi will be a 'challenge' when they show up."
 

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28 Days Earlier

Geist Weiss had just ended a conversation with Arn. The boy had begged the Sith not to kill or brainwash Della. He finished by promising to put it into consideration. Probably not the best outcome Arn could have hoped for, but not the worst.

Aboard the Administrator, Geist arrived at Sacul. There, he had learned of Black Noise's crash. Not the best of news, especially when he was needed at Coruscant to aid in its invasion. 16 was okay, so he took him aboard Administrator. He left because Eber and Reichtum claimed they could capture Della Frey soon, that they had leads. He tolerated allowance for an attempt. He sent a message to Laine though to come and check on things. He didn't like sending her Sacul's coordinates, but he needed this matter taken care of. Who knew what kind of mess Della Frey could unleash. Alas, he knew not of the connection between Della and Laine, though even if he did, he would hope that Mira Albion's mental work would prevent interference.


Present Day

So far, there had not been a report about Della Frey's capture. In fact, there was no word from Laine at all. The weak report from Eber and Reichtum stated failure, though inside a collage of excuses. He chose not to reply, to let them worry, possibly motivating them to work harder. Alas, that method proved without fruit. No optimistic memos reached the alchemist, to his displeasure. Worse, he was unable to do anything about it because he was preoccupied with Coruscant and Empress Teta, along with business on Yavin IV.

The time of inaction had ceased. Bondage by work had ended, and the alchemist was free to deal with a matter Eber, Reichtum, and Laine should have solved long ago. Aboard Interceptor IV Corvette Gnaij, Geist flew to Sacul with a small armament. The military accompaniment were all Sinners, though not all Numbers, as to prevent leakage of information. The corvette arrived in Sacul's space and hid in the moon's shadow, to hide against any Saculian eyes. The diplomatic vessel Administrator left Gnaij and glided onto the planet, with a Force illusion guising it as a cloud, thus forcing the trip to take five hours to reach one of the Sith hideouts. Blinding rainfall masked the landing.

A vexed Geist exited the ship, followed by 56, Administrator pilot Barrel, and Twi'lek acolyte Sai Zle'tey, brother of the late Sia Zle'tey. The pilot lagged shortly, as he had been ordered to password-lock the ship to prevent escape by Della, or as Geist suspected, Eber or Reichtum. Eber had greeted them, with an evident coat of sweat.

"Laine has not reported in for multiple weeks," Geist said. He didn't even let Eber comment whether he knew of Laine's presence on the planet or not. "Luckily for you, her ship's still providing a reading. Lt. Barrel will provide the location. I want a team sent there immediately. Find out what happened. Do not let the ship leave. Laine has some answering to do."

Geist left the anxiety-ridden Sith in the hallway with Zle'tey and Barrel. The illusionist went to find Reichtum and Arn.
 

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"Save your energy, Lain. We need to ormulate a plan with the help of others. We snamreg have our tricks." Della reassured. She walked back with Lain to the Burrow, upset to discover that Fyston and Erica were gone. Della saw Daiyu, still by himself and sighed happily before going to embrace him at the dinner table.

"I don't care if you are having trouble speaking. I just don't." Della whispered into Daiyu's ear. She ran her finger's through the fur in her typical maternal way. She didn't know what had happened to her adopted son, but she would find a way to help him.

Della called for her mother, who was tending to the bedroom nearby. Della told Elle what she and Lain where planning. Della translated as Elle spoke.

"<It is a good idea, but the execution needs to be solid. We know at least of three Sorcerers. But, that doesn't mean allies are plentiful. Many Skagrit believe that resisting will only bring more suffering, so they have allied themselves with the Sorcerers. Many of them are in the Police and own the factories.>" Elle called for Claude, who was cleaning himself in the guest room to come.

The frail-looking lad walked in after some time.

"<Claude has been our best guide in gathering resources. He always seems to know where the Sith are going to try to ambush us. He saved so many lives.> "Elle said. The boy was quite modest in receiving praise.

"<It is because of Claude that we have been able to navigate the sewers and map them safely. That is precisely where you will need to enter. One of them drains out into Lake Heron. You could try to follow the rail tracks to Skagrit. The trains have been decommissioned for years.>" said Elle.

"Three Sith, and Geist. That makes four. They think you work for them, though Lain. Don't they? They'll be looking for you." Della said. She looked at Lain.

"If they find you, Lain, you can say that you have been trying to track me through the forest. if The Skagrit find me, I can easily pass off as a citizen."

------------------------

Reichtum was not happy. His mind buzzed. He had been so close. So damned close to getting everything set up. The factories were his, the police were his, and the citizens were forcibly becoming compliant. That damned Runner. That damned, damned Runner. If she had never escaped, Geist would have never come back.

Reich had heard word from a secretary that Geist had arrived. Not good. Not good. Arn seemed just as worried as Reich, but for his own reasons. The Boy had the advantage of being too low on the food chain to be scapegoated. Reich knew little of Arn's plea margin with Geist.

Geist entered the room where Arn and Geist were. It was a library decorated with beautiful examples of art deco wood work. Like many buildings in Skagrit, it was fitted with electricity and the desk lamps provided an alluring glow to the room.

"Lord Geist. A pleasure to see you again." Reichtum coughed at Arn.

"Welcome back to Skagrit. May I send for refreshments for you?" arn asked. His eyes were diverted away, so he would have to gaze on the unsettling face of the Sith.

"Yes, please, sit down." Reichtum purred, trying to distract Geist with pleasantries.
 

Black Noise

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Nodding, Laine wordlessly followed Della. Something in her heart preferred barging in alone and without a plan, yet she knew that was not the best course of action. To simply leave everyone hanging would be a horrible way to start off the war against Geist Weiss. Walking back with Della, Laine kept silent even after arriving back at the burrow. Grinning at the cat when Della spoke, she decided to continue to keep quiet from there on out. If now was a time of thinking and planning, Laine would think and attempt to plan with them.

Once Della finished, the scarred girl spoke.
"I cannot let them find me. For as long as I have been missing, Geist will likely assume betrayal. I do not know what I did to him in the past, but he does not trust me, and he likely has good reason not to. I believe he fears me, as combat does not seem to be his forte and his illusions that he holds so dear will be near useless on me. I do know, however, that he is not totally incompetent, and I am a terrible liar, so I doubt I would be able to convince them that I am still on their side if I tried. I cannot be found, and rest assumed I will not be."

Laine paused, thinking, then adding.
"It would be foolish to think my hiding place for my ship would still be good after all this time, but I do not know of a way to retrieve it, unless."
Laine turned, looking directly at Daiyu.
"Unless you've decided to assist us. If you and Fyston take a team, or at least go by yourselves, and head towards my ship, you might be able to get there before Geist does. Even if you arrive late, simply going to the area should allow you to use your technology to trace the direction they took my ship, assuming you have the right sensor readers."

Laine knew in the back of her mind that there was a chance Geist would order the ship destroyed upon finding it. But she shoved the doubt away, knowing doubt not to be the best course of conversation yet.

----------------------

Eber was silent as Geist gave him his orders, yet his breath was laced with curses once the old illusionist was out of earshot. Turning to the man whom he assumed was Lt. Barrel, Eber ripped the man's datapad from him and began looking up the coordinates himself. Without bothering to look at the acolyte next to Barrel, he told the man.
"Follow and keep up if you can."

Gathering up a small contingent of Skagrit men and two trucks, Eber headed out in the direction the coordinates pointed to. He did not have the pleasure of meeting Geist's little pet acolyte, but he had a slight hope that the girl was either dead or stuck in that ship somehow. He wanted the pleasure of causing a bit of trouble for Geist by personally ridding the world of one less useless female.
 

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Della thought quietly to herself. Her fingers tapped silently on the table. She then went to her trunk of belongings and pulled out the pendent that covered its wearer in a strange void that made them invisible to the Force. She gave it to Lain.

"Wear this. If you are found, you can tell them that you discovered this when you ambushed me in the forest and that you started wearing this to track me. Claim it as your trophy. It would explain why they couldn't sense me, or you. Tell them that the last place you were tracking me was south of Skagrit, east of where the wreckage is. As long as they do not suspect that I am rallying an army, they will not have reason to try to find our Homestead. " Della then looked at Daiyu.

"You and Fyston seem to be able to communicate. Tell him what Lain and I are planning on doing. In the meantime, Can you and Fyston try to get in touch with Rhonun with Lain's transmitter? Please try to be discreet. Code it somehow. Be brief as possible. Rhonun is clever. He can figure out many riddles." Della said to Daiyu.

Della then sighed. She quietly gathered a few items that would be useful, including a map her mother drew for her of the sewer and rail lines. She gave Daiyu a maternal kiss on the forehead and motioned or Lain to follow her.

Skagrit was a day's journey by rail. It was even longer by foot. The trains were decommissioned, leaving only a rusty truck as a reliable means of traveling the dirt roads. Della was quick to pack it. She saw Fyston exiting the woods with Erica. Their eyes would meet, and for a moment Della remembered how close they once were. Rather than deal with the pain, she bottled it for now and hopped into the truck with Lain. They drove off towards Skagrit.

The drive was long, giving both girls plenty of quiet time to watch the prairie roll by and think to themselves. A looming doubt creeped into Della. There was the possibility that they would never be able to contact Rhonun. Then what would happen? Cathar mated for life, which was a uncommon concept for the Snamreg. Death happened often, and many Snamreg did not live past forty. Husbands were easily killed by the age of twenty, and their wives refused to live a life in isolation.

But Rhonun wouldn't be dead. Just separated. He was alive, even if he and Della had yet to contact each other since the battle of Tython. Della simply knew he was okay.

But what if he never came? What if Della couldn't get off?

"Lain, I've been thinking that we may not be able to find Rhonun." Della said.
 

Fyston

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Fy looked at Erica and smiled the smile that only a man with a world's weight on his shoulders could smile. His eyes portrayed countless tears shed, countless nights spent awake, countless heart pangs that caused him to physically hurt at times. Still, at the back of his eyes stood a single glint, something that not even Fy recognized. It gave some bit of hope, some spark that kept his engine going. It told of a hope that all might work out and that all might be happy. Regardless, he realized that he had simply smiled and stared at Erica for a good portion of time. "She's the strongest person I know. When I was in Sith custody, I thought of nobody else. Even if we never talked again afterward, I wanted to apologize to her. She might not think so, but I still love her. I've always loved her and I always will. I am just as capable of making a mistake as anyone else. If Rhonun shows up, I will her only to be happy. Either way, we should be getting back."

As he guided her out of the woods, he noticed Della toward their little homestead, his sharp eyes picking up almost every detail of her. He knew her by memory by now. He was far from an artist, but he knew that he could paint her with his eyes closed. His heart panged again but he made no motion of it. He looked down at Erica before reaching to sweep her up and place her on his shoulders. The worst part of it was that Fy didn't know what he was doing until she rested on his shoulders. He'd grown to view her like a niece or daughter since they'd landed on Sacul, but he still wondered how he could act without meaning to. It was strange, and he vowed to examine his consciousness when he had time.

As he approached the homestead, he set Erica down and handed her his canteen and another piece of jerky. He always carried quite a bit of food on him, if only because he ran out of energy during his first few days and the resulting hunger pains tortured him for the five hours until dinner was made. The Knight stepped into the burrow and greeted Daiyu. "How're you holding up? I haven't really had a chance to examine you since the crash, nor have I thanked you. Without your assistance, I would probably be dead right now. For that, I thank you." He wanted Daiyu to open up, if only because he knew how difficult it was to be alone, especially if you were constantly around other people. He wanted to help the Kushari any way he could.
 

Black Noise

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Laine barely heard Della after being given the pendant. It's strange void surrounded her and felt like a heavy cloak hung about her shoulders. She smiled softly, even though Laine tried to convince Della that she would not be caught, Della still sought to look after her and gave her this item; an item of likely great value.

Moving away from Della, Laine went to gather supplies of her own, which mostly consisted of a sack of burnt biscuits(Laine made them, then told no one of it when she observed how awful they were), a thick cloak, and her weapons. Laine moved into the truck, sitting in the passenger seat as to allow Della to drive. When Della hopped in, Laine flashed a small smile and sat back in silence.

The drive had not gone long, perhaps ten minutes or so, before Della spoke up. Looking out the window, Laine said nothing at first. In many ways, Della's thoughts were right. Rhonun was a Jedi Knight on one of the temple grounds during the Sith ransacking, there was a very, very low chance he would be found, or even still alive. Yet Laine did not voice her thoughts, instead she tried to reassure Della.
"Rhonun is smart, I'm sure we'll find him and he'll come here."

Laine said nothing after that, what could she say? She was jealous, extremely so, of Rhonun. But was jealousy the right emotion to feel? Laine wondered if she would but stop wallowing in jealousy and become more aggressive, would Della turn to her? Running a hand though her hair as she started to feel physically some of her self imposed stress, Laine asked.
"What will you do, if Rhonun does not come and we do not leave here?"
 

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"I don't know. Cathar are said to mate for life, not even taking on a new spouse if another passes. But, that is not what my people do. We die young often. We remarry often. But, he wouldn't be dead, just apart. I don't know. What should I do? I couldn't bear to hurt Rhonun, but to live alone is contrary to my culture as well. " Della replied. There was something pleasantly familiar about driving the old truck.

The landscape continued to roll past. The golden landscape gave Della some tranquility and peace. It was a rare feeling in the emotional Jedi. She felt that she could drive along that dusty road for ages. The sun was starting to tuck under the horizon, but Della didn't care. She knew that staying in a truck would be safe against the cats. They were only interested in easy targets.

---------------------
Erica had found herself warming up to Fyston. even now as he swung her up onto his shoulders, she was laughing as a kid should. She was cautious about the future. There was much to be worried about. Della had become older while on Sacul, possibly because of the lingering threat of the Sith hung in the air like a looming threat.

Erica knew that She would not be allowed to participate, only to hide. She couldn't blame the adults for being worried about her, not after nearly being killed by one of the nameless monstrosities on the ship. Erica didn't quite understand how someone lie Geist could have done something so cruel as to hire someone that would kill a child. She grew up believing he was a peacekeeper. But, there were a lot of ideas that were being testing against since Erica arrived on Sacul.

The child, for now, was content to watch and follow Fyston and Daiyu. Plans were being formed, and she wanted to learn as much as possible.
 

Black Noise

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Laine was quiet for a moment, thinking about what to say. Looking out to the plains, Laine tried to gather her thoughts. The rolling plains, the beautiful hills, and Della, these three things Laine had gotten pleasantly used to, even grown to love stronger than ever before, in the past few days. She could not imagine life without them, and she did not think she could bear to live without Della. If Rhonun did not come, and Laine did not take her chance, then Della might find someone else to be with. Whereas Fyston appeared to, even though he clearly loved Della, function well enough without her, now that Laine had been around Della she did not know if she would have a reason to live without her.

Turning to face Della, Laine gathered the courage to ask her a question. Her voice was shaky from a nervous undertone, but she tried to mask it as best as she could.
"If we do not find Rhonun, or if he never finds us, perhaps you could stay- stay with me? I mean not, stay as in live near, since you have a home and technically we live in the same place but- stay, just, stay with me?"
Laine resisted the terrible urge to bury her face in her hands, yet still one found its way back back into her hair, running through it in her painfully obvious stress habit.
 

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"How're you holding up? I haven't really had a chance to examine you since the crash, nor have I thanked you. Without your assistance, I would probably be dead right now. For that, I thank you."
Daiyu released a huff that could only be described as bitter. He had come down from the mine to eat and spend time with his 'family', as odd and dysfunctional as it was. He hadn't been looking to become involved in any planning and plotting or anything of the sort, and he certainly hadn't flown in to get singled out and chewed on by a little girl. Even if she hadn't meant to leave him feeling like a target, that had been the effect. To say he was stressed was an understatement. He was tired of dealing with the Snamreg, of fixing their machines and learning their language. He was tired of coping with the mosaic of broken glass that was his identity. He was tired - just tired. Plain, simple, flat-out tired.

He wheeled about on his ankle and came face-to-face with Fyston. The cat was empty-handed; he'd abandoned his place at the table, and had barely taken the time to clean and stow his dishes. The cat had pulled on soft leather gloves, and flight goggles hung around his neck. Had Fy arrived just a minute later, he'd have likely caught Dai clambering into his plane - or worse, roaring off towards the mountains, not to be seen for a solid month!

<"Don't start fawning over me,"> he snapped, <"I'm just ****in' dandy.">

The Kushari stopped himself and released an exasperated sigh, with the slightest hint of a growl under it. <"Sorry,"> the feline murmured through clenched teeth, <"I've got... Do you know a guy named Delun? No, nevermind. The important thing is, I've got his memories. All of them. Good. Bad. Ugly. And it's more than that. I am him. But I'm not him. I know him, and I don't know myself, and I'm lost, and I just - I haven't told Della, I don't want her burdened by this. By knowing that..."

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then offered up a hollow smile. <"I'm not Daiyu.">

He moved to head around Fyston towards the burrow's exit. <"So to answer your question,"> he grinned mirthlessly, <"I'm not holdin' up well. I'm barely even holding on. ">
 

Fyston

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The Knight didn't know exactly what Daiyu was feeling and it was probably impossible that he ever would. The closest he had gotten was his dead father attacking him a few times during his Padawanship and, at the same stage of his life, his dead mother sitting beside him while he flew alone for the first time. Still, every time he was near the Kushari, he could feel the turmoil broiling inside him. Fyston listened with an empathetic attitude and allowed the Kushari to exit the burrow, though he did follow him topside.

"I'm not going to pretend I know everything or like how I know how you feel. I will tell you, though, that I worked on Delun some time ago. He was on Tython and something went wrong. Looking back on it, I couldn't explain what happened or why it happened. I just knew that someone was hurt. Of course, at the same time, someone exactly like Delun leapt out of a pod and took off into the Temple. I sent a Padawan after him and, after Delun had been stabilized and sent into the OR, I went after the second Kushari." The Knight paused, trying to make sense of his memories. He smiled softly, reassuringly at Daiyu, sending peaceful, calming energy through the Force. Though he might not have had much time to speak or get to know the Kushari, he cared for him like anyone else in their homestead and wanted the best for Daiyu. "Long story short, Delun pulls through, the second guy spends the night in the waiting room, and we go our separate ways for a while. How else do you think I gained my knowledge of the Kushari language?"

"You might have his memories, Daiyu. You might have his form, but you aren't Delun. You are, and always have been, your own being. You have your own childhood memories, however good or bad they might be. You have your own personality. You have your own thoughts, feelings, and the like. It might feel like everything is blending together but it's at those times that you must focus on what makes you, you. Where did you spend your eighth birthday? Who was your childhood friend? What was the scent of your childhood home?" Fyston smiled briefly at him before answering his own questions, silently hoping that Daiyu would also answer them. "I spent my eighth birthday in the cargo hold of a large freighter. I had been ordered to drop a single pill into some guy's drink by Druga the Hutt. Nobody expects kids to be capable of it, but imagine a slimy Hutt holding your life in their hands and having a blaster pressed into your back from day one. My childhood friend, well, I can't quite remember. I remember taking care of whoever I was near in whatever ways that I could, but no names stick out. As for my home...Nar Shaddaa is one of the worst smelling places in the galaxy. Most retch when they first arrive. The scent of clean air in comparison to the foul, stained compounds on that moon will be one of my fondest memories."

The Knight looked into the Kushari's eyes, hoping to help him however he could. "It's likely that you think I'm spewing crap. Sometimes, I wonder if it truly is crap. Just know that we're all here for you. I only want to help. If you want to return to the mine, feel free. If you need supplies, I have spare up in my quarters, so you can take whatever you need." Fyston was also worried if the seclusion of the mine was doing more harm than good. Daiyu, being Force Sensitive, would also have likely picked up the Dark aura that had seemed to fall on the planet and Fyston wanted to keep everyone protected. He might have been great at ranting and not saying much, but he had good motives.
 

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There was a moment of total silence as Della locked eyes with Lain. Her heart pounded, Della couldn't deny that she had confusing thoughts about Lain, a lot of them were very foreign to Della. Della kept those thoughts locked away, nice and buried within her subconscious. So, what was Lain asking her? Really asking her? Della didn't want to assume, get everything mixed up. Especially something like what Della was assuming Lain was asking her.

"wh-whad'ya mean by that?" Della's own voice was nervous. She felt a part of her flutter. Crap, not this again. Not now.Please not now. I can't handle this right now. Della knew why her heart was skipping. It terrified her. Rhonun, Fyston, the Xadens and now Lain. They had either gotten close to Della or attempted to. The one that hurt the most was Fyston. There were scars that Della was still trying to hide.

She thought about Fyston. Was Fyston wondering the same thing about Rhonun as Lain and Della? Memories flashed through Della's mind. Memories that Lain no longer carried such as kidnapping Della and cutting off Rhonun's hand. Other memories were of the Fight between Fyston and Rhonun. Della had tried to flee from her problems. Sebastian Solborne had forced her to face them.

There was a sudden lurch in the truck, a sickening drop. Then, the truck suddenly stopped, with Della hitting against the steering wheel. Somehow, Della had managed to steer the truck into a ditch.

"Haraka!" she cursed. She pushed herself against the steering wheel and climbed out to inspect the vehicle. She was annoyed and shocked to discover that it had not been a ditch afterall, but someone had blown a hole in the dirt road, making it impossible to any kind of traffic to get through.

"Haraka!" she cursed again, the stress getting to her. Great, just great. Della saw fluid leaking from the truck and knew right away that it either cracked something important, or broke it. While getting the truck out of the ditch would be easy, she was a Jedi, she lacked any sort of knowledge on machinery. She also knew that she lacked any parts to repair it.

The road was what mostly annoyed Della. The rangers must have blown it up to prevent any sort of army from using the road. Della grumbled, her family didn't even know. They would have warned her. Della became frustrated with how slowly word spread in comparison to galactic communication. She then felt that pang of loneliness. She was the only one in her group who fully understand the differences between Snamreg and Galactics.

"we're walking by foot now. If we're lucky, we'll reach Skagrit by nightfall. The cats don't stir until then, usually. Keep on your guard." Della said, her thoughts already becoming clouded by her confusion.



---------

A female secretary finally arrived with iced drinks, a common luxury in Skagrit. They were served in gilded glasses, reflecting more of the decadence that Skagrit was known for. It was comparable to galactic luxury, but in its own way. It seemed timeless and antiquated. The beverages were simple, chilled water with mint. It was an excellent way to relax. Something Reichtum hoped would work in his favor.

He waved the secretary away. Arn was the one who offered gratitude to her, but the woman's expression told a mixed story of fear and spite. It was an elephant in the room. The Sith held power on this planet, but barely. No matter what measures of punishment or kindness were dealt, the Sith never had obedience of the native. There was always a group waiting to sabotage.

First it was the paparazzi, but they were easy to bribe or silence permanently. The Unions had resisted any sort of change, they were easy to kill off and when a legal option made it possible for factory owners to fire any remaining union workers, their employees became silent. The Mob was a fantastic scapegoat, who else would have caused so much destruction such as a fire that killed off their beloved president?

Oddly enough, it didn't work as well as Reichtum thought it would. It was as if the people of Skagrit were one step ahead of the propaganda and manipulation. They were excellent liars and con-men, some rivaled a well-trained Sith. The Snamreg often spoke in double-meanings and vague ideas. Other times, they flat-out told bald-faced lies. What Reichtum would give to have such talent under him.

Luckily, there were many Skagrit who understood it was better not to resist. These were mostly the wealthy who wanted to keep power and not lose their status. Once they were tethered, they worked hard to keep others in line to save their skins. Still, things certainly could be better.

"I had heard a rumor that we won the war at home." Reichtum continued, doing his best to bring a happy conversation to the table to avoid the unsettling topic of his failures. He was trying to craft some sort of excuse, anything that would appease Geist Weiss for the moment.

"To think that it happened to suddenly. This will be a boon for business. Don't you think, my lord?"
 
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