“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):" There are times I wish we had stayed hidden along the Shirotoku Way. However, nobody ever said that following the path of the light side of the Force would be easy.
We had agreed to check on nurse Tolovo Nathu for Bal Grainer, a Rodian bookie and contact of Garolos Banku Nuruolos, in return for a lead on a light saber up for auction. After dealing with a computer virus and stopping at G’horo, the Lucky Strike went to Cattamascar. We found the Grand Pelgar Hotel falling out of control as it passed through a tunnel through the planet.
Oong Bak managed to restore functions to the luxury hotel, saving the lives of about 500 sentients aboard. Our mechanic stayed with the ship, which had been attacked by Imperial Stormtroopers and hunter droids. Ari Sundar sniffed for more enemies.
Thayne Highlander and Tark Agros grabbed extra weapons from the fallen, but I suggested that we not carry them all. Protocol droid MX-PR continued to display a disconcerting interest in combat. We went to the main reception area on Deck 2, where a hotel clerk was overwhelmed with incoming messages.
I expressed sympathy and asked for help locating Tolovo. The clerk explained that the guest manifest was on a database on Bakura, but all non-Imperial computer networks had just been shut down by edict, no doubt in response to the Hutt/Black Sun virus. He recommended that we visit the promenade on Deck 4.
To search such a large area, we split up. Garos and Tark went to the exclusive Terminus restaurant, which floated high above the gardens. Ari and Thayne took one side of the promenade, and Max and I searched the other for signs of Tolovo.
Our teams could have been more effective in talking with various passengers, but we had been stuck in a small ship for months and had not practiced such information gathering. Tark and Garos climbed the light bridges and saw two droid bartenders atop a hatch in the center of the resizable platform.
As a Ssi-ruu, Ari did gain some hostile stares, especially since her reptilian kin were said to be making incursions into the Unknown Regions. Recent padawan Thayne did his best to reassure the Bakurans that she posed no threat.
I had similar difficulties with Max, given the Bakuran intolerance toward robots. Near a fountain, we overheard Coab Nev’ra and Juris Keel talking about “the droid menace.” I pretended to be a dotty old lady and learned that Nev’ra was a Verpine weapons designer and Keel a trader and engineer negotiating a research and development facility on Bakura.
Up on Terminus, Tark took up a sniper’s position to watch the people on the promenade. Garos saw Jarik Tai flirting with bored Zeltron beauty Adaha Tila. White-clad Cutter Torsin enjoyed a meal with Proddo, an Arcona. Talkative Garos introduced himself to Moross Sapan, a lone Krevaaki scholar.
Ari smelled elevated pheromones from a Gotal resting on a park bench. Despite being addled by stims, Syal Obdaris was well-dressed and said that his rooms were “too noisy.” Thayne noticed that Obdaris was heavily armed and wisely gave him a wide berth.
Our scoundrels, soldiers, or Jedi weren’t finding signs of the missing woman. Since Tolovo was a nurse, I asked the staff if the hotel had a sickbay. Max and I were referred to Deck 12, the technology level, which made sense if the Grand Pelgar wanted to be discreet about ill passengers.
We headed to a turbolift, but on the way, a red-haired woman emerged from some shrubbery. Foxdi Zess warned us that the imperials were looking for a droid and a woman. In the turbolift, droid B-1E4 introduced herself as a servant of one Princess Tethys.
Meanwhile, Garos and Tark learned that Moross Sapan was trying to get access to a Zenasi religious retreat on Cattamascar’s surface. Tark noted that he had an uncle among the Kurtzen monks.
Beast hunter Obdaris told Thayne and Ari that he was on his way to the agricultural Chandrilan colony on Kammia. They were curious about his quarters, which were on Deck 8, the penthouse. Thayne and Ari went to that level, where the Ssi-ruu smelled someone familiar.
In Terminus, Garos chatted with Tai after Tila rejected him. The recruiter of scouts for “The Brotherhood” mentioned a nurse traveling with a red-haired woman and two long-necked aliens. We were making progress, but I was worried about what Garos told me over comm link.
As expected, there were indeed Imperial troops on Deck 12, so Max and I went to rejoin the others on Deck 8. We heard animal noises from one suite — no doubt Syal Obdaris’ rooms. I warned the others to stay back as Thayne and I knocked on another door.
Foxdi Zess answered, but when Thayne rashly mentioned Bal Grainer and Tolovo Nathu, she put on a Mandalorian helmet and ordered me into the room alone. The Mandalorians were once enemies of the Jedi, and their homeworld had suffered from an attempted coup during the Clone Wars. I tried to reassure my companions as the door slid shut behind me.
Zess and two other guards in Mandalorian armor guarded a woman in a force field attended to by two Kaminoans, the long-necked beings Tai had described. The soldiers for hire had begun burning a hole into Obdaris’ suite, probably with the intention of a diversion or escape if they were pursued. I was expected.
Upon seeing Tolovo, I finally understood why the Empire would be willing to destroy the hotel to get to her. She was a younger version of me! Apparently, during the waning days of the Old Republic, someone had secretly cloned several Jedi — without our consent, I might add — as an extension of the project that created Clone Troopers.
Our medical records would have been readily available at the Jedi temple on Coruscant, and I wondered whether my “sister” had Force talents. I could not sense through the energy shield, but I knew that the Sith would be interested, as the list of fugitive Jedi we had obtained previously gained more import.
Tolovo said that she was safe enough with the finest attendants Grainer’s money could buy and that I should check on Princess Tethys Acomar before leaving. The imperials would soon be busy enough, my clone said.
I rejoined the crew of the Lucky Strike in the hallway, and we went to Deck 6. Ari’s medkit relayed a royal Ssi-ruuk distress beacon from Gymelo, where she had first encountered Thayne.
We met Princess Tethys, and while she seemed ignorant, it was apparent to any who saw both her and me that she was a younger version of me. Of greater concern was the fact that a squad of Stormtroopers lay dead at her feet, with no obvious signs of struggle.
We raced with the princess and B-1E4 to the launch bay, and Oong and Tark got us aloft. To escape the looming cruisers, Tark took us past collapsing field walls and flowing magma. The Force was with us, because we managed not to get caught between them and the Grand Pelgar hotel.
I informed Tethys that her homeworld of Chandrila had joined the empire, but she seemed oblivious to the problem. I told her that we were merely related and found that she thought the ban on Jedi was perfectly legal. Obviously, the princess had much to learn, but I had to be careful, given her (and Tolovo’s) potential power and naïveté.
I told my companions that our mission was no longer to retrieve the lightsaber of Thayne’s late master, Shin-wu Sorotai, but now to keep Bakura and its colonies out of Imperial grasp. The resources, Jedi clones, hostile factions, and cause of liberty and justice were too important for us to simply hide or leave. Garos rightly asked for a specific plan, but we’ll have to work on one together.
We experienced another fitful sleep cycle. Thayne had another dream of the girl Endolana and a dark tower. This time, she was with a friend, Aliza. When Thayne told me this, I recalled from Sai Agorn’s holocron that Aliza was the daughter of Master Djem So. Strangely, Thayne in the dream was wearing an ivory-colored military uniform with an embossed leather centipede design on his chest.
Like Endolana, the daughter of Master Ataru, her kidnapping 25,000 years ago led to a fracture in the Jedi council and the eventual adoption of monastic vows. I wasn’t sure what the visions meant, but Thayne believed they were connected to his late master, Shin-wu Sorotai.
We returned to Cattamascar’s surface and landed at the remote Zenasi retreat. Oong again stayed with the ship, and Ari kept watch over him and B-1E4. I decided to bring Tethys with me as my “daughter,” both to give her exercise and the semblance of freedom, and to keep watch over her.
Hierophant Inif Cundertol was kinsman to Tark, if not especially hospitable. Our pilot asked to leave a message for Moross Sapan, but the Krevaaki was already there! Garos had met an imposter in the subterranean hotel. Fortunately, we were able to ask the real scholar some questions about ancient Force traditions.
Master Sapan mentioned the followers of Palawa, the Chatos Academy, and the Sorcerers of Rhand. Remnants of these groups still existed in the Outer Rim. When Thayne asked about Endolana, Moross mentioned the legend of the Force avatars, beings who somehow manifested well after their natural lives in times of need or upheaval, but he did not connect them to Jedi.
I walked around the dusty retreat with Tethys and Max, while Garos and Thayne tried to see if any Kurtzen (nonhuman natives of Bakura) would be willing to oppose the Empire. The followers of the Balance were not interested in violence, which I can appreciate, even if it may doom them. We’ll have to find other Bakurans who are more sympathetic.
Oong called us back to the Lucky Strike. The two Imperial cruisers were adrift in orbit, with no attempts to launch T.I.E. fighters or hail us. I suspected that whatever or whoever had killed the squad around Princess Tethys was responsible.