Authors: John Ostrander
Hawk squatted next to Oma. “I’m Je’daii ranger Hawk Ryo and I’ve been sent here to rescue you. Try to be calm.” Picking the teen up, Hawk threw her over one shoulder and raced back up to the roof. Superheated volcanic debris rained down on the town, the wooden buildings starting to catch fire. Hawk again tried to warn Lanoree, but the ash jammed the comm’s signal.
It was hard to see through the ash and the Ranger tightened his grip on Oma. Calling on the Force once more, he leaped to the next nearest roof, ran across, and then jumped to the next roof after that. He could barely breathe and was jumping blind, but he hoped he could trust in the Force that he was taking them out of danger.
And that Lanoree was not dead.
Ranger Brock eased back into her chair. The discussions were still going nowhere but at least everyone was civil. A servant brought her a goblet of wine, a Vaisamond red, something she had developed a taste for on Ska Gora. Lanoree raised the goblet to her lips — and paused. She knew the bouquet of the wine and something bitter underlay the aroma.
Lanoree turned her head to glance at the servant who had given it to her: a nervous little man, as old as Eomin Dessain. Fear came off him like a wave, a bitter aroma of its own. The servant turned to run. Lanoree caught him with the Force, lifted him up, and dropped him onto the round table. Thrusting the goblet in his face, Lanoree whispered, “I think this vintage is off. Please. Taste it.”
The man’s eyes went wide as he babbled incoherently. Lanoree growled, “Drink it, little man, or I will
you drink it.” She didn’t have that ability, but it was commonly believed that the mysterious Je’daii could seize your mind. That fear, that superstition, sometimes served the Je’daii almost as well as the Force did.
The servant certainly believed the stories. “No! It’s poisoned!” he blurted.
Lanoree folded her arms, keeping her eyes on her would-be assassin. “Master Dessain, you have a traitor in your midst. The kidnappers would have needed someone on the inside to reach your daughter. That traitor is this man.”
Eomin Dessain looked at his servant, appalled. “Betolo? All these years, you have been a trusted servant, almost a member of the family… why?”
“Because all these years I have
been a servant.” Betolo said quietly. “
a member of the family. I wanted to have something of my own before I died. A chance to leave this wretched rock.”
Dessains voice seethed with fury. “Where is my daughter?”
“With any luck…
. My lord.”
Lanoree’s comm buzzed. “With any luck, my lord, she is not,” she said as she activated the comm. “Hawk?”
“Lanoree, someone is going—!”
“Yes, I know. He tried and failed. Is Oma Dessain with you?”
“She is,” Ryo said, “but we have another problem.”
“What do you mean you refuse to marry Brom Santis?!” Eomin, while relieved to have his daughter back, was furious.
Oma Dessain stood alongside Hawk Ryo with the delegations on the island in the cavern. She, like him, was covered with ash, making her pale skin even whiter and powdering her dark hair the same hue. Free from her bonds, she stood glaring defiantly at her father.
Oma’s chin jutted out. “I mean I won’t marry him! No one asked
if I wanted to get married! I don’t and I won’t!”
“You have your duty to the family!”
“I have a duty to
! I don’t know this Brom, I don’t love him, and I won’t marry him to settle some dispute!”
This set off another round of arguing between father and daughter with Santis pitching in.
“This is breaking down quickly,” Hawk murmured.
“Actually, my sympathies are with the girl. She shouldn’t be a clause in a treaty,” Lanoree murmured back.
“If she doesn’t relent, the negotiations will likely collapse and everything we’ve done will be for nothing.”
“I think I may have another solution,” Lanoree said. “First, I’ll need their attention.” She shot her slugthrower three times into the air. And again, with the same effect.
Very pleasantly, Lanoree spoke. “In other parts of the solar system, rival interests have a practice called
. I suggest you try it. Oma would become a foster child in the Santis household and Brom would be the same with the Dessains. Each would be treated as a full member of the family they are with. They would spend six months with one family and six months with the other. The workers would have a voice through Brom and Oma would learn firsthand about the workers’ lives.”
“I think this is a very reasonable suggestion,” Hawk added, equally pleasant.
But the expressions on the two Je’daii firmly suggested that all sides accept the deal. Oma looked pleased; at least she wasn’t getting married.
Details were worked out, Hawk cleaned up, and the two Je’daii met at the spaceport to take leave of Zerist and of each other.
“The Council has summoned me back to Tython for a special mission,” Lanoree said. “It’s been four years since I’ve been back; it’s time.”
“I’m heading out to Furies Gate,” replied Hawk. It was the outermost planet in the system. Great Generation ships left from the small world, seeking a path through the maze that was the
Core and looking for ways back to the rest of the galaxy. The Settled Worlds jointly maintained a station there. “I like to look out into the stars and meditate,” he said.
A small shadow passed over Lanoree’s face. “My brother used to look out at the stars and wonder if there was a way back to the rest of the galaxy. He was never very happy on Tython,” she said softly. She was quiet for a moment, then shook it off and said, “It was good working with you, Ranger Ryo. I look forward to the chance to do it again.”
Hawk nodded. “I do, too, Ranger Brock. The Force be with you.”
Lanoree smiled. “And you,” she replied. The Je’daii then crossed to their waiting ships and took off into the star flecked skies.
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Into the Void by Tim Lebbon is out now.
Jan Duursema’s official website is www.janduursema.com
From Star Wars Insider 141