I’m not usually phased when meeting new species. Akenephin V saw a steady stream of offworlders arriving daily to work in the the mines, and I was pretty sure I’d seen every shape and size of humanoid there was to see. Thats not to say there was anything physically unusual about the delegates from Shaymore, but, like so many things in the last week, I couldn’t help being fascinated by them. Their obvious enthusiasm and excitement to be here, amidst the greatest beacon of hope in the galaxy, struck a chord with me; I knew just how they felt. As the briefing wore on and we learned more about their struggle against the vastly superior forces of the Empire my sympathy for the Sesseh grew. A sense of purpose, of destiny even, was surging inside me, and I knew that I would do everything in my power to help. This was why I had left Akanephin V- to make a difference to the galaxy, to finally throw myself into the fight against oppression and actually do something worthwhile.
I just hoped no one would expect me to swim.
I really thought I’d got through to Quan. Maybe I did, I mean, he agreed to come along. But the way he kept looking at the Sesseh throughout the meeting with such casual disdain, even though he’d likely never even heard of such a people before. He seemed to have some reserves of idle hatred for them, perhaps for their somewhat backwards ways, or maybe there was something else. Some deeper prejudice from his years fighting for the republic. There was good in him, somewhere, I just knew it. But he’d spent so long hiding from the world, pretending to be somebody else to protect himself from an unrelenting, unconquerable enemy, that I think he’d forgotten how to be a warrior.
I’d seen it coming back, though. Since Kari had built him a sabre by modifying the plans we’d found he’d been walking taller, straighter, with his head held that little bit higher. It wasn’t much, but there was definitely something there. Well, whenever he wasn’t getting drunk with Valin, and smoking those foul death sticks, anyway.
Valin was a different story. The man was a mystery. The only thing I could figure out about him is that Kari had him wrapped around her little finger. He didn’t seem to care about anything else, not even the ship. Hell, he barely seemed to care about getting paid. Whenever we were given something to do he just shrugged and went along with the general consensus. It wasn’t hard to get him to stay with the Alliance, I’d seen Kari wandering round the maintenance deck wide eyed, I had a feeling it would take a power greater than any of us to drag her away, and so Valin would stay too, simple as that.
The briefing concluded, and the Sesseh were escorted out by their honour guard, leaving the crew of the Ghost, myself, and the alliance officers who had been present.
”Well, what do you say?” asked Major Gahana.
“I’m in” I blurted out before anyone else could speak. I had no idea what I could do to help, I’ve never been much of a teacher, and my knowledge of military tactics could be summarised thus: shoot the other guy before he shoots you. However, I knew there would be an alliance commander on hand for the actual military part of the operation, all I wanted was to be present, to help wherever I could. Hell, I’d even be happy driving a repulsorlift as long as I was doing it for the cause.
Once the Sesseh had gone Quan became visibly more involved, asking all the right questions about the imperial presence on the planet, and the sort of forces we were likely to come up against. Gahana’s answers seemed to satisfy him, and he begrudgingly signed up. It didn’t take long for everyone else to agree to help out. A quiet calm fell over the briefing room as we looked at each other, mentally preparing for what was ahead. Major Gahana, aware that his part was done stood up to leave, nodding to us as he turned. But I wasn’t done yet. There was still something on my mind, something I had to know.
“Sir…” I called out “I… Can I… um… I hope this isn’t out of place, but we were searching for clues about the wherabouts of a jedi named of Kenobi.”
A sharp, angry sensation stabbed into my mind as I spoke. I turned to Quan, there was no way that I had just picked that up from someone’s unconscious projection, he was trying to get my attention. He glared at me, shaking his head subtly from side to side trying to warn me off that line of questioning.
“Kenobi? You mean General Kenobi?” The Mon Calamari looked surprised. I think. “General Kenobi disappeared at the end of the clone wars I’m afraid. No one has seen him since."
“Oh, thank you anyway. I’d… heard stories…” The stabbing sensation intensified.
“I would be very surprised if he had survived.”
I couldn’t figure out why Quan didn’t want me to pursue this line of inquiry. Surely he would be thankful to find Kenobi too? The Jedi were a dead order, and he and Kenobi were probably the last two people in the galaxy who would remember them. He must have been at least curious to meet the old master? Nevertheless, I decided to listen to him this time. I was sure he had his reasons, but I wasn’t going to let this go forever.
“Um… I suppose it must have been just… rumours then”
Gahana looked at me for a few seconds, his face unreadable, then turned and left with a grunt.
The surface of Shaymore was hidden behind a thick layer of cloud as we made planetfall. I had spent much of the voyage attempting to converse with the two Sesseh dignitaries through my protocol droid. Their language was crude, issued in short phrases that conveyed direct intentions and little else. The droid made futile attempts to embellish their nasal barks with flourish and formality, but I could tell he was struggling. Theirs was not a language for subtlety. Eventually I took him aside and explained my misgivings about his attempts, that I wanted to understand how the Sesseh really spoke and thought. That I was never going to truly get to know them without being able to communicate on their own terms. I began studying their language, too.