ommander Dendicott viewed the young Jedi Knight in front of his desk. Luke felt the tremendous grudge the commander felt against his presence. His unannounced visit was clearly a serious infringement of the Wegoyy prison rules. Angrily the commander took a datapad from his desk, activated the device and tapped on the screen, then he look at Luke with a malicious smile.
"Commodore Skywalker, I'm glad you have come so quickly. We have documented the results of our investigations on this datapad, so you can read for yourself, that the traces we have found have to be absolutely correct. They are leading in the direction to Tropass and then halfway they suddenly veer off and go in the direction of the highland mesas. Probably you have already seen the other holographs and our specials scans which I have sent to the Supreme Chancellor. Everything points to a careful planned escape. It looks like she's gotten help from some one inside this building."
"You mean someone has helped her to escape, sir?" Luke asked.
"In her cell we have found several coils of rope which must have been collected and given to her over a period of time. We estimate that someone has planned her escape almost from the beginning of her detention. We have found similar ropes hanging from the prison wall. Two deactivated guarding droids were found disassembled in a corner near the wall. She used the metal bodies of those droids to reach the top of the wall. On the road to Tropass we have found some empty water bottles with her fingerprints. This is more than enough evidence to me. My main concern is that my men have to find her as soon as possible. We have set up a tight surveillance network of probes around the space port to prevent her to escape onboard a spaceship."
"I'll take over all further investigation, sir. Will you, please, hand me that datapad with all your evidence," Luke said and handed Dendicott his special warrant with Mon Mothma's signature. Dendicott face turned red with barely restrained rage.
"You have very powerful friends, commodore. Alright, I'll withdraw all my men and those surveillance probes. You may search Wegoyy's desert using those special Jedi skills of you. Good luck."
Luke left the prison building and went back to Tropass with Dendicott's datapad. In his apartment he examined the reports. After he had read Dendicott's burden of proof, he shook his head. His abilities as a Jedi told him that the commander's evidence were falsified. Those falsifications had been done knowingly.
"I'm sure this burden of proof is false. Liane hasn't escaped. The explicit indication of the traces and the insinuation that someone inside the prison has helped her are put together on purpose. Something else has happened to Liane. The commander is covering up the actual state of affairs," He murmured, "How am I going to proof what really has happened. I have to find Liane. Only she can tell me the truth. Tomorrow I will start my own investigation, beginning with the ground personnel at the spaceport. Afterwards I will go to the mountain ridges behind Tropass and the Wegoyy desert."
Next morning Luke went to the spaceport of Tropass and questioned the ground officers and their staff. He showed them a holographic image of Liane, but no one remembered having seen the young woman. His investigation at the space port took several days. Finally he concluded that Liane hadn't been near the spaceport. A similar investigation in the trade district also turned out to be disappointing. Liane had certainly never been in Tropass at all.
His next search brought him to the mountain ridges and the Wegoyy desert. It seemed ridiculous to assume that Liane could have fled there. Why would she look for a refuge in a desert, a dry, barren wasteland? The city was a far more better place to seek a place to hide.
For several days Luke traveled through the canyons, mesas and low hills of Wegoyy's mountainous area. Like he already had noticed on the maps, the area was deserted and uninhabited. The environment strongly reminded him of the Jundland Waste on Tatooine.
After a week he returned to Tropass, disappointed and tired. However his researches had convinced him that commander Dendicott had covered up the truth. He was certain that something else had happened to Liane. He decided to return to Irithim to report his findings to Mon Mothma and Madine. It was now up to them to take the next step.
"USE MORE PROBES, FIND THAT DESERTER AND SEND FOR CAPTAIN PHYLOTAR," Commander Dendicott shouted.
The young guard rushed off. After a few minutes Rand Phylotar entered Dendicott's office.
"Why did sergeant Tydon leave the prison building weeks ago without my knowledge, Rand? And why hasn't he come back yet? You gave him permission to leave, didn't you?"
"Yes, he asked me, if he could spend some time in Tropass with some old friends. He would report back to me after his return. I acknowledged his request, for he hadn't taken leave for a long time. More than a year to be more precise."
"SPEND SOME TIME WITH HIS FRIENDS! WHEN WAS THAT? HE'S ALREADY AWAY FOR WEEKS," Dendicott snarled.
"Shortly after we got rid of that girl, I think. To be honest, Dendicott, he seemed a bit upset after he returned from that mission to the Wegoyy desert. I think he's not fit for these kind of jobs. He's too soft."
"HE HAS VIOLATED THE RULES AND HAS BECOME FRIENDS WITH THE GIRL. He has visited her in her cell and has talked to her almost every evening. She has become his girlfriend and it wouldn't surprise me if he has fallen in love with her. So that's probably the reason why he hasn't returned, Rand. He probably went back to the place where he left her, for he wants to runaway with her. I've been notified about his misconduct and lack of discipline. I ordered him to report, for he is the only one who knows the exact spot where he has left her, but no one has seen him for weeks. RAND, THIS SERGEANT IS INVOLVED IN OUR COVER UP, AND YOU SIGNED FOR HIS LEAVE AND ALLOWED HIM GO TO TROPASS, BUT YOU NEVER CHECKED IF HE HAS COME BACK," Dendicott snapped angrily, "GO AFTER HIM, YOU FOOL. IMMEDIATELY. FIND HIM, AND BRING HIM BEFORE ME! HE HAS DESERTED, HAS RAN AWAY WITH ONE OF OUR INMATES. HE ALSO MIGHT TRY TO CONTACT THAT JEDI KNIGHT TO TELL HIM WHAT'S GOING ON HERE. I HEARD, THAT SKYWALKER HAS BEEN QUESTIONING THE STAFF AND THE SPACE PORT PERSONNEL."
"You're exaggerating, Dendicott. Sergeant Tydon is a loyal officer. He promised me to report back to me as soon as he had returned. Maybe he has fallen ill or met with an accident. I'll check it out for you," Rand Phylotar said.
"If he's such a loyal guy in your eyes, then explain to me, why he has deleted all his personal files and documents. The logs in our system reports that he deliberately deleted his complete messaging system and deactivated his personal account the evening before he got a transport to Tropass. HE HAS DESERTED, HAS PICKED UP THE GIRL AND HAS INFORMED THAT SKYWALKER ABOUT WHAT WE'VE DONE TO HER AND POSSIBLY HE ALSO HAS TOLD SKYWALKER HOW I'M RUNNING THIS PRISON; HE HAS BETRAYED US. HE'S A DEFECTOR. You're an even bigger fool than I thought, Rand. Well, let's hope our probes find that defector and the girl, otherwise we're in big trouble. If she has survived my special treatment and the Wegoyy desert with help of that loyal guy of you; we must find them and kill them both. Immediately. Maybe we should hire a pack of wild dogs to tear them to pieces."
"Are you out of your mind, Olon. If Ian Tydon has been able to make contact with that Jedi Skywalker, as you suggest, but what I don't believe, then the government on Irithim surely will find out what we did to the girl. Any new actions will get us into a deeper mess."
"Aren't you aware we're already in trouble, Rand, and let me put one thing straight to you: if I'm disgraced you're going with me. FIND THAT DESERTED SERGEANT YOU'VE TRUSTED AND FIND HIS GIRLFRIEND, YOU IDIOT. DON'T COME BACK, BEFORE YOU'VE FOUND THEM. DISMISSED."
"Master, the girl has been tortured and it isn't clear if she has survived that treatment. The prison commander Dendicott had accused her of spying for the New Republic. He commanded one of his guards to leave her in the Wegoyy desert," the two humanoids spies said trembling.
"OLON DENDICOTT KILLED HER! THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. NOW MY WHOLE PLAN TO REVIVE THE EMPIRE WILL COME TO NOTHING," The dark cloaked person snarled, "FIND OUT THE TRUTH ABOUT THAT TORTURE TREATMENTS IN THE WEGOYY PRISON AND IF THAT COMMANDER IS INDEED RESPONSIBLE FOR HER DEATH, MAKE SURE THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NEW REPUBLIC GETS EVIDENCE ABOUT THE MURDER."
"We will, master, but a sergeant, the girl's guard, has disappeared too. Earlier on we've sent him a message telling him we would inform the commander about his friendship with the girl, unless he would cooperate with us, but he never answered. Because of his lack of cooperation we have informed the commander anonymously about his friendship with the girl. There could be a connection between the death of the girl and the disappearance of her guard. Maybe he has killed her to save his skin."
"FIND THAT GUY, AND INTERROGATE HIM. YOU MAY USE ANY METHOD TO EXTRACT INFORMATION FROM HIM. IF HE HAS KILLED HER, BRING HIM BEFORE ME?"
The mysterious talker switched off the holo display. Frustrated he went to a large main chamber where he sat down on a dais with a gloomy face, staring at a column pedestal with a frustrated look in his eyes. Slowly he reached out his hand and activated a switch at the side of the pedestal. The holographic image of a masked and in dark clad armored statue appeared.
"Lord Vader, your precious daughter has been tortured and my informants told me that she is dead. This means the end of my plans to revive the empire, unless I'll find some one else to will teach me the knowledge you and the emperor had. Why did you refuse to teach me the same knowledge as you taught your daughter? Why did you advice the emperor to be on his guard for me? I KNOW YOU'VE SPREAD GOSSIP ABOUT ME ON CORUSCANT, DON'T DENY IT. I COULD HAVE REACHED YOUR POSITION, IF YOU HADN'T BEEN IN MY WAY."
The voice of the cloaked figure sounded frustrated, depressed and full of hatred and anger. Disillusioned he looked at the holographic image of Darth Vader, before he put his head in his hands and looked gloomy at his surroundings.
"Everything, for nothing," He murmured, as he switched off the pedestal angrily.
Luke had scheduled his departure immediately after he had returned to Tropass. He had just fed the navi computer with the coordinates of Dalmaran, when the alarm of the infocom started to flash. He put the hyperspace jump on hold, activated the holo display and listened with growing interest to the incoming message.
"Commodore Skywalker, I need to talk to you as soon as possible. I have very urgent and important information for you," A distorted voice said agitated. The holographic image was garbled and blurred deliberately. The voice sounded muffled and nervous, as if the speaker feared to be identified. Nevertheless, the Force revealed to Luke who the speaker was.
"Before you leave Wegoyy, sir, can we meet after sunset in the Wegoyy desert at the following coordinates: 376C4-903D7?" The voice continued, "This message will delete itself within a couple of minutes after you've overheard it. If you go to the meeting point, make sure Dendicott's probe droids won't follow you."
The voice broke off suddenly. Before the message destroyed itself, Luke copied the coordinates to the log of the navi-computer and retrieved some other details about the message. It had been entered in the ship's communication system four nights earlier, while he had been roaming the Wegoyy desert. He checked the coordinates at the holographic map of Wegoyy and noticed that the spot was in a very remote area of the planet, several hundreds of miles from Tropass.
He broke off the hyperspace jump and plotted a new course. With a steep turn he returned to Wegoyy, going into orbit around the planet at some six planet diameters. He fed the navi-computer with the given coordinates and switched on the cloaking device to shield off his ship. At sublight speed he neared Wegoyy out of range of the space port traffic controls.
After about an hour the navi-computer signalled that he had reached his destination. Still cautious Luke landed the Astræga in the Wegoyy desert. The whine of the ion-engines died out and Luke watched the desolated spot through the windscreen. There were no traces of life form readings on the console. Patiently he waited for things to come.
The sun of Wegoyy reached her zenith and continued her path to the far off horizon. When the Wegoyy sun had reached the horizon, Luke spotted a fast moving blot against the light of the setting sun. It was a speeder zigzagging through the desert with its head lights turned off. Luke watched its erratic approach.
As the speeder was nearing the agreed meeting point coordinates Luke switched off the cloaking of his ship. Immediately the speeder changed its course and accelerated straight to the Astræga. Luke lowered the ramp and walked down to welcome his visitor. The speeder made an abrupt stop in front of the ramp and a young officer wearing a very untidy uniform jacket with the distinctive of a junior sergeant of the Wegoyy's prison guards jumped out and rushed over to him.
"Thanks for coming, sir," He said, as he made a formal salute, "I'm Ian Tydon."
Luke answered the salute and made an inviting gesture to the ramp of his ship.
"We've met before, sergeant. You're Liane guard, aren't you? I knew it was you who wanted to meet me. I recognized your voice in the message. Welcome on board the Astræga. Let's get inside."
Ian Tydon nodded uncomfortably, as he walked up to the ramp. Twice he looked back over his shoulder and scanned the horizon.
"You haven't been following, sergeant, if that's what you fear," Luke reassured him.
"Probe droids might have tracked my speeder from high altitude, sir," Ian answered worried, "I've sensed their presence in Tropass a few times."
Luke heard a nervous tone in the young man's voice.
"Drive up the ramp. On the right you can secure your speeder."
Ian rushed back to the speeder and started the engine in hurry. He accelerated so fast that Luke thought it wise to jump aside, but the young officer drove up the ramp accurately. Luke followed him and observed the young man's actions attentively. There was an strange, but also a very familiar feeling in the young man's behavior. Luke took his nervous guest to the control room and closed the ramp. He cloaked the Astræga and turned to Ian Tydon.
"You seem quite nervous, sergeant? I can ensure you, that you haven't been followed. I would have known."
"You don't know their methods, sir. If you have recognized my voice, sir, than commander Dendicott might also have. Maybe they even have intercepted the message, although I took care it would delete itself after you had overheard it. The commander has lanced numerous of surveillance probes to find Liane Solichor. He probably is looking for me too, for I haven't returned to the prison after my furlough. By now he must know that his plan to keep the disappearance of Liane Solichor secret, has failed. Are you certain you haven't been followed either?" Ian said, stumbling over his words.
"Absolutely, I would have been aware of any secret observation. I can give you some reassurance; I have taken over the investigation of Liane Solichor's escape. By order of the Supreme Chancellor the commander had to withdraw all his men and any probe droids he launched. It would be a severe defiance of the authority of the Supreme Chancellor, if he would neglect those orders "
"Don't think he will follow that order, sir. The Supreme Chancellor is far away and the commander is acting as an independent ruler in the Wegoyy prison. He has surrounded himself with a group of sycophants and yes-men who support his regime."
Luke looked at the young officer who was accusing his superior of severe misconduct, or worse. He kept the accusation in mind and changed the subject of their conversation.
"Tell me, sergeant, what's so important that you tried to hide your identity and why did you asked me to meet you at this desolate spot?"
"This part of Wegoyy doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the Wegoyy prison, therefore I choose this place to meet you. I have important information about Liane Solichor, sir. I know you have been looking for her in Tropass and in the Wegoyy desert around Tropass these last ten days," Ian Tydon said as he sat down on the edge one of the couches in the control room, still showing his uneasiness.
"So you know, where is she?" Luke asked with some tension in his voice.
"Sir, I want to tell you what has happened to her. Don't believe what commander Dendicott has told the New Republic's administration. Liane Solichor hasn't escaped. Before she was brought to the Wegoyy desert, he and his second-in-command have drugged, blindfolded and stun her," Ian Tydon blurted out, showing the frustration he felt. "I was ordered to take her to a desolate spot in the Wegoyy some days after you had visited her seven weeks ago."
Luke felt the vexation of the young man. Somehow the fierceness with which Ian Tydon expressed Liane's fate, came as a shock to him.
"I already have heard the commander's explanation about her daring escape. He even assumes that someone inside the prison building has helped her. Probably your story may shed a different light on the events," Luke said and leaned back on the couched.
"May I ask you a blunt question, sir?" Ian asked, "Do you believe what commander Dendicott has told you?"
"He made a serious attempt to convince me, but, you're right, sergeant; I have very serious doubts about the evidence he has provided, so I am looking for all possible extra information I can get about Liane Solichor's disappearance."
"Liane Solichor hasn't escaped, as he told you, sir; she has been tortured and afterwards his second-in-command ordered me to bring her to the Wegoyy desert and leave her there without any help."
"You mean, that commander Dendicott has locked her up again in the SL-chamber again?"
"Has she told you, that she had been punished that way for insubordination?"
"Not by so many words, sergeant, but I sensed her fear for what had happened to her in the beginning of her detention here on Wegoyy. You just said that Liane Solichor has been brought into the Wegoyy desert drugged, blindfolded and unconscious. What do you mean by those words? Has she been brought to the desert as part of her punishment. You also said that you accompanied her?"
"No, sir, I wasn't accompanying her," Ian said with a shameful look in his eyes, "I was ordered to leave her at a desolate spot in the Wegoyy desert. She shouldn't be able to find her way back to the prison, but I made a plan to leave her at a relatively safe spot, sir, where at a later moment I would be able to pick her up. I couldn't bring her to a better place immediately, because two of commander Dendicott's elite guards were accompanying me."
"You had made a plan to bring Liane Solichor to a safe place. Did you made a plan to help her to escape, after she had been tortured? Please, sergeant, tell me your story from the beginning. So start with what happened to Liane Solichor after I had visited her."
Ian seemed ill at ease, and looked frustrated at his host.
"It much more complicated, sir. I've gotten involved in what has happened to Liane Solichor in two ways. As her personal guard I had to carried out the order to bring her to the desert, but earlier on I have been blackmailed, because I had become friends with her. Someone must have noticed my secret visits and leaked that information. Has she told you about our secret chats?"
Luke nodded, "Go on with your story, sergeant."
Ian Tydon took a deep breath, although his gaze still betrayed a great discomfort.
"About eight weeks ago, a few days before your first visit, I received a message in my personal messaging system. It was a direct threat to me personally."
"Who threatened you?" Luke said invitingly.
"The message was anonymous, sir, but the one who had sent it, said, that he knew about my friendship and my secret chats with Liane Solichor."
"Which is prohibited, isn't it?" Luke said.
"That's right, sir. Talks between the guards and the inmates are strictly forbidden under penalty of degradation, or even a conviction by the court martial. The blackmailer provided a lot of details about my secret contacts with Liane Solichor. How he had gotten that information, I don't know. He said, that he wouldn't tell my superiors anything, if I would accept his conditions. I had to help Liane Solichor to escape. After a successful escape I had to bring her to an agreed meeting point in a very obscure part of Tropass."
"So some unknown blackmailer put you under pressure. Did you tell anyone about the message?"
Ian Tydon shook his head.
"No, sir. Shortly after I had received that blackmail message, you came to visit her, and three or four days after your third visit commander Dendicott accused Liane Solichor of being a spy for the New Republic's government. She refused to give him a proper explanation, why she had been addressing you, as if you were a good friend and why she even had been calling you by your first name," Ian saw Luke's questioning look, "On your second and third visit commander Dendicott has recorded your talks with her with surveillance cams, sir."
Luke nodded thoughtfully and gestured Ian to go on.
"The two elite guards who brought her before the commander, forced her to kneel before the commander. They humiliated and kicked her, because her silence angered commander Dendicott. She attacked the guards, using those strange peculiar skills she already had used earlier: a kind of choking and strangling the guards from a distance. Commander Dendicott became outraged. He forced her to release his men. He gave one of the guards the order to stun her. Next he commanded that she had to be put in the SL-chamber for an indefinite time. Twenty four hours a day shrieking sounds is maddening a prisoner and multiple flashing color lights are blurring a person's mind. The commander also ordered to give her a mind drug at regular intervals to break her resistance, so he could force her to tell him the truth about your visits. Somehow she resisted the attempts with that mind drug and finally commander Dendicott forced the guards of the SL-chamber to give her a extremely high dose of the drug that would wipe out all her memories, so she would never be able remember who she was or where she had been and what had happened to her. Colonel Phylotar, commander Dendicott's second man who had been supervising her torture, ordered me to bring her to a desolate spot in the Wegoyy desert and leave her there: blindfolded, drugged and stun."
Luke look at the face of the young man opposite him. He saw the honest and reliable look with which the young man looked at him.
"Don't tell me, sergeant, that you intended to bring her to that meeting point that has been mentioned in that blackmail message, for I won't believe you could something like that."
"Of course not, sir, I've never thought to comply with the demands of the blackmailer. In fact I never answered that message; after reading I had deleted it. I hadn't any intention to cooperate with the blackmailer. I accepted the risk that I might loose my assignment as her guard, and be brought before a court martial, if commander Dendicott would hear anything about my secret chats with Liane," Ian Tydon said indignantly, "I've brought her to a place with which only I am familiar. There she would be safe, at least for a while. Later I wanted to bring her to Tropass and hide her with some old friends of mine, and afterwards I wanted to seek a way to leave Wegoyy together with her, and find a way to look for a cure for the loss of her memories. Unfortunately I couldn't work out that second part of my plan."
Luke smiled as he still heard the hardly suppressed dismay in the young man's voice.
"I don't want you to feel offended, sergeant," He said reassuringly, "Tell me, what happened next."
"After I had returned to the Wegoyy prison to report, I felt very guilty about what I had done. I felt that I had become complicit with and responsible for Commander Dendicott's deliberate murder plan. I asked the commander's second man, Colonel Phylotar, who is my superior, to sign a furlough letter. I told him that I wanted to spend some time with friends in Tropass, but I had made up my mind never to return to the prison, sir. Before I left I deleted my entire personal messaging system, and all my other personal files. I also changed my access code, so nobody would be able to find out what I had done. I don't want to be involved with the prison regime of the Wegoyy prison any longer, sir. By now, the commander certainly knows my intentions, and I'm sure he's looking for me, for I am a deserter in his eyes."
"Did you go back to the place where you had left Liane Solichor?"
"I couldn't sir, I was brought to Tropass with the regular supply transport from the prison. But I have been looking for a possibility to get a speeder and to go back to the place where I left her. The circumstances prevented me to carry out that plan immediately, so I had to look for another way to safe her."
"Why didn't you leave Wegoyy after you had reached Tropass?" Luke asked, noticing that the young man didn't mentioned Liane's surname anymore.
"I felt responsible for what I had done, sir. I needed to find a way to save Liane, and I also hoped, that you would come back to Wegoyy to visit her again. I wanted to tell you the truth about what the commander had done to her. At your first visit, sir, I have seen your concerned attitude for her. You're her friend, a very close friend, I presume."
Luke smiled, but neglected Ian Tydon's comments.
"You left your message in the messaging system of my ship four days ago. How could you be sure that the Astræga is my ship?"
"After I had reached Tropass I've found a hiding place in the suburbs of Tropass, where some old friends have set up their businesses. They are old pals from the academy. They provided me the necessary equipment to break in frequently on the space port's computer system to monitor any federal ship with the markings of the New Republic's government. We're all very familiar with hacking activities, and using my old knowledge I succeeded to find the registration number and name of your ship after it had been registered: the Astræga. Your ship bears the New Republic's identification marks, although it's a former imperial shuttle. In the space port's logs your name was registered as the pilot. I have been following you from the day of your arrival, sir, ten days ago. I managed to infiltrate the infocom system of your ship to leave you a message, while you were roaming the Wegoyy desert, looking for Liane. I'm glad you've read it before you went into hyperspace, for I worked under some strain and I wasn't sure the message would be activated at the right moment."
"Those hacking activities could have been noticed, leading the space port authorities directly to you."
"That was a risk I had to take, sir, for I wanted to inform you personally. You had to hear the true story and what has happened to Liane from me,"
"You said, that you brought her to a certain spot in the Wegoyy desert? A spot you only know? Does that mean, that, despite the commander's order, you were free to choose the place where you could leave her?" Luke asked, hardly able to suppress his inquietude about Liane, but as he reached out to the Force, he sighed relieved. He felt her living presence through the Force. She was alive, and although the Force wasn't revealing anything about her whereabouts, he was now absolute certain that she wasn't any longer on Wegoyy.
"Yes, sir, the choice was mine, sir. I hope, I made the right choice, and that we will find her there."
"Tell me more about the place where you left her, sergeant," Luke said.
"Maybe you and I can go there together tonight and bring her to safety, sir. As I said, I wanted to do that myself, but I couldn't find a good opportunity without being noticed. I brought her to the Draga territory."
"The Draga territory? Are they colonists or smugglers, living in this desert?"
"The Draga are a indigenous tribe. I have lived among them, when I was sent on a long lasting survival mission in the Wegoyy's desert as part of my final military training. They appreciated my camaraderie and I stayed longer with them than was needed, for they had become good friends. They are covered with small pearly skin plates at their backs, like reptiles. They seldom contact the outside world, but they're very friendly and always helpful, if they trust you."
"Can we contact them? Can you bring me to them?" Luke urged.
"I can, sir, but I can't be certain that we will really meet them. As I said, they avoid contact with outsiders as much as possible. However we might find some evidence about what has happened to Liane after I left her. I only hope, she has survived, and that the Draga has given her shelter."
"Are you sure, that they have taken care of Liane Solichor?" Luke asked.
"No, sir, and there's also a possibility, that commander Dendicott has ordered some of his men to get back to the spot to see what has become of her. Most of the times coordinates of a location are logged in the transport speeder of the prison. I hadn't the opportunity to delete the record from the speeder's log. However the elite guards who accompanied me, haven't noticed that I cut her bonds before I left her. I didn't want to leave her completely helpless, and if she could use her hands, she would be able to take off the blindfold. I also left her the green box with the pendant she's got from you. She has told me that she can use it in a special way to reach you. Hasn't she done so?"
Luke shook his head.
"I haven't heard of her since my last contact with her some seven weeks ago," Luke said calmly.
"I feared you would say so, sir, otherwise you wouldn't be here," Ian said with a thoughtful and understanding nod, "Sir, I couldn't do anything else, I had my orders. I'd wished I could have done better, for she didn't deserve this kind of treatment."
"I don't blame you, sergeant, for what you have done," Luke said with a reassuring smile, after Ian had told him that Liane was still in possession of the Jedi-pendant, "There is some reassurance. Liane Solichor is alive."
"You're sure, sir?" Ian sighed with relief, without realizing how Luke could know, "Then she must have been able to free herself, before Dendicott's men could find her. Possibly she has found shelter with the Draga, although it also might be, that she's now trying to find a way through the mountain desert on her own. She doesn't know who she is, nor where she comes from, for the drug they gave her, has blocked her past and her memories almost permanently."
Luke needed some moments to control his emotions. Liane had been send drugged and blindfolded to the desert to die, because a malignant prison commander wanted to cover up his vicious torture practises and unproven accusations.
"Can we easily reach the spot where you left her, sergeant?"
"Certainly, sir, I have the coordinates. But it's impossible to land there with a space ship. It's on a ridge halfway down the canyon floor between some high canyon walls. Maybe we should use my speeder."
"Can we land at the top of the canyon ridge or at its bottom?"
"At top, yes, it's a flat tableland, at the bottom it's risky. You might crash the wings of your ship."
"Then we'll land at the top. Let's go, sergeant. I need to know what has happened to Liane Solichor after you left her on that ridge."
Ian looked at Luke.
"Pardon me for asking, sir, but why is it so important to find her?"
"Our government sees her as an escaped prisoner, sergeant, and I've been given the order to find and arrest her again. Your story sheds a different light on what has happened to her. Now I need to find her, for she has to tell our Supreme Chancellor what's going on in the Wegoyy prison."
Ian shook his head.
"No, commodore, you're not fooling me. You're personally involved, just like me. You are a close friend of her. I clearly feel, that you're worrying about her. She is a relative of yours, isn't she? "
"No, she isn't, sergeant, but how about you? Why did you ignore the rules of the Wegoyy prison and started your secret visits and chats with her; why did you disobey the orders you've been given, and why did you leave your assignment without further notice? Do you realize that's a serious form of insubordination, sergeant? Commander Dendicott and I are both high ranking officers in the New Republic, and you're accusing your commander of malice practises? Are you aware, I can arrest for insubordination and possible false accusations?" Luke said sternly.
Ian Tydon suddenly blushed.
"I am a deserter, sir. I'm not asking for a favor, for what I've said and done, but I have been honest with you. I'm convinced that Liane has been treated unfairly and unjustly. From the moment I was assigned as her guard, I liked her, and after her treatment in the beginning of her detention I pitied her. She was a very lonely and sad person. In the first weeks after her arrival I have heard her cry many nights. I felt that she needed some one who would show her some compassion. After I had become friends with her, I've had many nice chats with her. She was always friendly. She clearly enjoyed our chats, but she was also very worried about the risks I took. Many times she warned me not to overstep the prison rules. She must have trusted me, for she told me about the extraordinary pendant you had given her. It's a lucky coincidence that she even showed the box with the pendant to me. I hid the box among my possessions after she had been brought to the SL-chamber. Liane never give me the impression that she was a dangerous criminal. She was more a naive girl, feeling scared and threatened by the way commander Dendicott and his men treated her. Has she really tried to overthrow the administration of the New Republic as is written in her file? She also told me that Darth Vader is her father. Is that true, sir?"
"You really have become a trusted friend with her, sergeant. Let me tell you part of her story. Yes, Darth Vader is her father. He brought her up in his stronghold on Morantan. Liane Solichor has lead a very protected life on her home planet. She was arrested after the space forces of the New Republic eliminated the last imperial resistance on Morantan, Darth Vader's stronghold. Instead of awaiting the decision of the High Council at Irithim, she has gotten herself involved in an uprising against the New Republic's administration. She was arrested again on Ortel, and the High Court sent her to Wegoyy for her part in the coup. Through her solitary upbringing she hasn't been aware of the changed situation in the galaxy after the Alliance defeated the empire, and her obstinate and aggressive behavior has brought her into trouble more than once. Again this time. Are you sure she's suffering from a severe kind of amnesia?"
"The mind drug they gave her probably will block her past for a long time. It's not even sure if she will ever remember anything."
Luke sighed. Liane had lost her memories. That was the reason why she hadn't been able to contact him through the Force. But there was a glimpse of hope; she still possessed the Jedi-pendant. Luke reached out through the Force to find more traces of the lost girl, but the images he got where blurred and unclear. He only felt her living presence through the Force, although those tremors were faint. He turned to Ian and stretched out his hand.
"Thank you, sergeant, for all what you've done. I'm very glad you left her the box and the pendant. Although she might not be able to use the pendant at the moment, it might help me to find out where she is at a later stage. Now let's go to the spot where you have left her."
Luke went to the cockpit and started the engines. Amazed Ian notice how easily the ship began to hover only a few meters above the ground without losing height. Luke asked him to enter the coordinates in the navi-computer and slowly the nose of the spacecraft turned in the right direction. Without increasing the speed Luke use the Force to let the ship find a safe trajectory.
About three quarters of an hour later the navi-computer confirmed their arrival. Luke reached out through the Force to find a safe landing spot and some moments later he lowered the ramp and stepped down on the top of the canyon. The four moons of Wegoyy illuminated his steps. Ian followed him. When Luke reached the rim of the canyon Ian point downwards.
"I left her on that broad ridge below us, sir."
"Call me, Luke, Ian. Let's forget those formal titles. How far down is it?"
"A hundred meters maybe."
Luke used his Jedi skills to project an image of the steep canyon wall in his mind. He pointed to a spot some fifty meters to the left.
"We can easily descent and reach that ridge along that side. To the left are some more ridges we can use. I'll get some ropes from the ship."
He returned to the ship and picked up several coils of rope from the cargo hold. He fastened the ropes around the landing gear of the Astræga, shut the ramp and prepared for his descent. He lowered on the rope, while placing his feet against the canyon wall. Ian followed him in the same way. At the smaller ridges they took some moments to adjust the ropes. Finally Luke stepped on the ridge. As Ian had reached the ledge, he pointed to the spot, where he had left Liane. They found the cut ropes and the cloth that had been used as her blindfold. Carefully Luke searched the flat rock and walked over to the rim at the far side. There he picked up a piece of paper.
"Ian, did you wrap the box in this kind of grey paper?"
Ian took the piece of paper Luke was holding in his hand. He nodded. Luke unhooked a flashlight from his belt and examined the stones near the rim. He carefully looked at the stone formations and then he nodded. Slowly he put one feet on a very small ledge and than the other.
"There are some kind of steps over here, sloping downwards. They're leading to a deeper level of the canyon floor. Let's examine them. Be careful, this path is steep and narrow. Hold on to the rope. Wait for my signal."
Luke took the other end of the rope, fixed a flashlight band around his head and started to descend. After some twenty steps he signalled to Ian to follow him. Every time Luke reached out to the Force to show him the right path. Their descent brought them deeper into the canyon. It was completely dark at the canyon floor. Luke intensified the beam of his flashlight. There seemed to be nothing, but the Force told him that they were being watched. Slowly he sat down and beckoned to Ian to do the same. He lowered the lamp and started to wait. Several minutes passed without anything was happening.
Then Luke started to talk in his soft Jedi voice.
'Don't be afraid. We mean you no harm. We only want to talk to you. We need some information.'
Another couple of minutes passed. Luke lowered the lamp until it became a faint spot. He reached out to the creatures who were watching them. He felt their anguish for his unexpected presence and tried to ease their minds. Slowly one of the creatures stepped forward.
"Who are you?", The creature asked suspiciously.
"I am Luke Skywalker and this is Ian Tydon."
"We know him. He once lived with us," The little creature pointed at Ian. "Welcome back, Ian Tydon. Why did you leave that girl here? She was bound and unconscious. Did you come back to see what has become of her?
The voice of the creature sounded reproachful.
Luke's thoughts made a jump for joy. These creatures recognized Ian and had seen him, when he had left Liane on the ridge. He slowly turn up his flash light a bit.
"Please, don't blame me for what I did," Ian answered ashamed. "Where is she now? Is she still with you?"
"No, didn't you know that she couldn't recall what had happened to her? It was not good to keep her with us."
"What happened, has she left alone?" Luke asked politely.
"No, we have brought her to the trade place. Those men have taken her with them. They will bring her to places she knows."
"Who are those men? Do you mean some space traders?"
The little creature nodded.
"They come to the trade place. We give them the statues we've made and the stones we dig. We get lots of goods and clothes in exchange."
"That trade place, is it near Tropass?" Luke informed.
"No, it's up there."
The creature pointed to the top of the canyon, where they had left the Astræga.
"How often do they come?"
"Always after seventeen times the four moons have past. Then we have made a lot of statues. We send one of us up there to warn us if they have arrived."
Luke sighed. The traders who had taken Liane with them wouldn't return to Wegoyy soon.
"Could you, please, tell me more about the traders. How many men are there? What's their ship look like? What language do they speak?"
The creature stepped nearer and sat on a stone. He pointed with his stick at the ground and drew some lines. After a while a rough drawing of a Corellian freighter appeared. The model was very common, but there must be ways to find its identification markings. More importantly, the six traders, who looked alike, always came together. They speak Intergalactic Basic; Liane had spoken with one of them and the men had decided to take her with them. Luke stretched out his hands as a token of his friendship.
"Thank you for all this information? We won't disturb you any further. Thank you for your hospitality. We leave in peace."
He rose, activated the flashlight and walked over to the steps. At the foot of the steps he turned around.
"I need one more answer. Was the girl wearing a chain or a necklace?"
"Yes she was, but she wasn't sure it was hers. She had a small box in her hand, when we found her. In it was a necklace, but she didn't remember if it belonged to her. There was a round delicate piece of metal attached to the chain. I have seen she was wearing it. I was sure she was very fond of it. When she left us, she asked me, if she could take the box and the necklace with her. I didn't object, for it was obvious to me and to the members of my clan, that it belonged to her."
"Good, thank you very much. We leave now. Come on, Ian, we go back to Tropass."
The ascent of the small steps took again some time. At last they reached the broad ledge. Ian look up to the top. He sighed. Luke felt how tired his companion was.
"We wait here and take some rest. It'll take some hours before Wegoyy's sun will rise. At dawn our climb will be safer."
They sat down against the canyon wall. Luke closed his eyes and turned inward to ease his mind. His meeting with Ian had given him lots of information. Most important was that he was sure that Liane was alive and that she was wearing the Jedi-pendant he had given her. But as long as she couldn't remember who she was, she probably wouldn't know how to use the pendant again. It also wouldn't be easy to find out where she was now. Space traders, like the six brothers with whom Liane had left Wegoyy, weren't using the regular trade routes. Only when he could find out the identification marks, or the name of the ship, he would be able to trace them and go after them. Luke turned further inward. The Force enclosed him and he let her powers flow through him. He relaxed and fell asleep.
Some hours later Luke woke up refreshed and saw that daybreak was near. Ian was laying on his back with his hand behind his head. His eyes were closed, but his face had a worried expression.
"Did you get some sleep, Ian?" Luke asked.
Ian opened his eyes, sat up and grinned.
"I did, Luke. A couch is certainly more comfortable, but I still managed to relax under difficult circumstances."
They both laughed.
"If you're ready, we'd better get to the spaceship. I want to be in Tropass before the daytime shift comes up. The men of the night shift have more time and are more willing to do some research."
"Can you put me off at our meeting point?"
"Sure, but what are your further plans? Don't you think it would be better if you come with me, instead of staying here on Wegoyy with the risk that Dendicott's men will find you one day, or that the blackmailer will contact and threaten you again. I need your testimony to confirm my evidence, and inform the High Council about what's going on here. I want an investigation on a very high level. Won't you join me to Irithim, Ian?"
"I didn't want to ask you, Luke, because you're a high ranking officer and I'm a deserter."
"I'm indeed a high senior officer, as you remarked. One of my prerogatives is, Ian, that I may give any officer a promotion without consulting my general or the Supreme Chancellor, staff sergeant Tydon. You did, what you thought was right. You'd better come with me. Your new assignment: inform the members of the High Council and the Supreme Chancellor what has happened to Liane Solichor."
Ian look astonished at Luke.
"Staff sergeant? You're giving me a promotion, Luke, although I have deserted?"
"You aren't a deserter, Ian. You did your duty to report a serious misuse of power to an officer of the New Republic. Now let's leave quickly. We'll talk about all this when we're on our way back in Irithim."
Luke looked up and carefully watched the steep wall towering above them. He examined the range of smaller ridges they had used to descend. They were some ten to twelve meters above each other. Using the ropes as a hold, it would take a few easy jumps to reach the top. He reached inward and jumped. The Force brought him on the first ridge. Again he jumped and reached the second ridge. When he had reached a broader ridge halfway he looked back at Ian.
"I will pull you up, when I've reached the top." He yelled back.
Ian nodded, too amazed to say anything. Astonished he followed Luke and saw him disappear over the top. Immediately the rope started to move and Ian fasten it at his safety belt. He placed his hands and feet against the wall and started to climb. But instead of having to pull himself up, he was pulled up at a steady pace. After less than ten minutes he stepped on the top. He jumped to his feet and look at Luke who was coiling the ropes.
"You are a Jedi Knight! That's how you could tell me that Liane is alive," He exclaimed.
Luke nodded and laughed.
"Don't tell me that you never heard the name of Skywalker, Ian? Hasn't Liane told you who I am? "
He coiled the ropes and walked up the ramp of the cargo hold. Ian followed him, looking at him in admiration.
'Her friend is the Jedi Knight who fought in the Civil War,' He thought. Now he also noticed the lightsaber which was hanging at Luke's belt.
"Why didn't you use your special skills as a Jedi, so commander Dendicott would tell you the truth, Luke?"
Luke shook his head and walked over to the cockpit.
"That's not the way justice can be done, Ian. I only use my powers to evaluate a situation from the right perspective, not to force the truth from opponents. You're right: I knew that the commander was lying to me. My powers told me he was, but I need to provide the High Council with solid evidence about what's going on here. They have to make the decisions, I only can report."
"What's the use of being a Jedi Knight if you can't get a confession immediately? I thought that those special powers the Jedi Knights possess, always can give them power to find the truth." Ian said.
"You must have heard some misleading information about the Jedi, Ian. The Jedi Knights don't possess special powers. It's the Force that gives them their power, and the Force allows them to use its power. As a Jedi the Force helps me to see through people, to feel their emotions and to extract information from their minds if necessary. Yes, I could have forced the commander to tell me the truth, but that's not the way a Jedi Knight may use the power of the Force. A Jedi uses his powers with care and prudence. My main objective was to find information about Liane's escape. She's the key witness in this case. You have provided me with a lot of extra evidence. I'll tell you more about the Jedi Knights and the Force, when we're on our way to Tropass. Now let's get to the space port. The sooner I have the information about that Corellian freighter the better it will be."
Luke started the engines and took off. He circled the planet several times at a high orbit, before he requested clearance for landing. He ordered Ian to stay on board the Astræga, before he left his ship and went to the office buildings.
The officials greeted him politely, but after Luke had explained what he wanted, they shook their heads.
"No sir, we have no lists of trade freighters. They come and go whenever they want and most of the time they even don't ask for clearance to land at this space port. Maybe you should check out the bars in the suburbs of Tropass. Most of those freighter traders have their connections there."
Back in the Astræga Luke told Ian what he had learned. He decided to wait till the evening to visit some bars. He noticed that Ian felt ill at ease, as he watched the hustle-and-bustle at the space port, while official guards were monitoring the incoming and outgoing ships. To reassure his companion Luke asked permission to maneuver his ship to a repair pit. Once there he secured the ramp and started a long wait till nightfall. Together with Ian Luke passed the time playing some holoplays and he gave Ian the datapad Dendicott had handed him. Liane's former guard added some valuable information about the evidence the commander had provided. The fingerprints on the bottles had been taken from Liane when she had been unconscious after she had been tortured The coils of rope had been deliberately placed in her cell after she had been brought to the desert.
"Shouldn't you inform the High Council right now, Luke?" Ian asked.
"Tropass and its space port are Wegoyy prison territory. My message could be intercepted. I don't want to alert the commander. It's better if him thinks that I have accepted his evidence. As soon as we're on our way to Irithim I will send a first report to our Supreme Chancellor. I also don't want to bring your life into jeopardy. Your testimony about what's going on at the Wegoyy prison, is very important, remember."
For a moment an uncertain glance flashed over Ian's face, but Luke put his younger companion's mind at ease. As night fell, Luke put on his ceremonial Jedi clothes and put Ian's speeder on the platform. Disguised as a space port mechanic Ian had decided to accompany Luke, for he could lead him to the more darker areas of Tropass. They exited the space port area, using a rear gate which led to a maze of the back roads.
At Tropass' trade area they hid the speeder. Most of the freighter pilots came together in the crowded bars along the narrow streets in this part of Tropass, looking and hoping for information about available cargo trips. In every bar it took them several drinks and a lot of patience, before Ian could bring the talks on the information they were looking for. To Luke's amazement Ian seemed to be familiar with the habits and the behavior of the residents of these suburbs. He presented himself as Luke's unofficial guide and introduced the Jedi as someone who urgently needed information about a group of six brothers. Luke's friendliness and hospitality took away the normal suspicion freight traders have for strangers and officials. Finally in the fourteenth bar they had luck. An old weathered out pilot overheard Ian's story and joined the conversation with his younger mate.
"So your Jedi friend is looking for the Grann brothers, isn't he? Yarnick, Brion, Ronan, Kieran, Conor and Bran Grann? Good guys, very honest traders. What does he want them for?"
Luke came up with the story that the government of the New Republic needed the six men to fulfill a job for some diplomatic trips.
"They seem have a lot of contacts in the Outer Rim and beyond. The Supreme Chancellor wants some very reliable freighters pilots to lay contact with Outer Rim folks so we could establish diplomatic alliances there in the future."
"Sounds good," The old pilot said, "But didn't you guys at Irithim had help from Han Solo and his mate Chewbacca. If you're looking for a real good freighter pilot than it's Solo. Man, he knows everybody everywhere. I thought he had been promoted general, hadn't he?"
"Indeed he had, but he resigned and has left Dalmaran. I've tried to find him, but so far I didn't have any luck. When my government heard about, what did you say, the Grann brothers, they asked me to offer them the job. Do you know where I can find them. I was told that they were trading in this area."
"They were, but they have left weeks ago, as far as I know. Don't asked me if I know their next destination. They're free traders, you know. Now here, then there and going everywhere," The old pilot grinned.
"Do you know the name and the identification markings of their ship. The government could leave them a message on every space port in the Outer Rim," Luke asked cautiously.
"You folks at Dalmaran must really be desperate. What's going on? Are we threatened by another Imperial fleet? Has the emperor returned?" The old pilot said in a fit of laughter
The whole bar laughed.
"Very well, master Jedi, this time you have found yourself a lucky guide at the space port. If you offer my mate and me another drink and join us for a good meal at your expense, I will give you that name and number. But don't expect a fast response on any message you send them. The Granns seldom check their messaging systems."
Luke ordered drinks for the whole bar with a jovial gesture. The barkeeper brought a small note card and the old pilot wrote down the markings of the Corellian freighter of the Grann brothers, and the name of their ship: the Grannd Traveler. Luke put the note card in his pocket and thanked the man. He and Ian stayed at the inn till closing time. They went back to the speeder and drove off to the space port. Luke went over to the briefing desk and put a request to be scheduled for take off, then he went back to the Astræga.
He got his clearance for take off and outside the gravitation of Wegoyy the Astræga made the jump to light speed to Dalmaran.
"There is a reasonable chance that the troubles with the daughter of Darth Vader have been solved permanently, Jerno," Kalip said good humored, "It seems that she hasn't survived some torture practises in the Wegoy prison. Our intelligence force has intercepted one of those strange messages. This time from Tropass and aimed at that still unknown location in the Outer Rim. Again the recording was encrypted with the same old key and the messengers, the same disguised guys as in the earlier recordings, mention that that she died as a result of torture. There's also talk about a missing officer who was the woman's guard. The messengers suggest that he might be involved with her death. Our intelligence force can now deactivate the monitoring of the messages to the Outer Rim. Here is the transcript of that last decrypted message."
After Jerno had read the message, he looked up at Kalip.
"Our intelligence force must continue the monitoring," He said thoughtfully.
"Continue? Jerno, these last months that monitoring task has occupied too many hours already. The woman is dead. We don't have to worry any longer about the possible threat she could be. Why don't you contact the agent of the New Republic and ask him if he can confirm our intelligence force report."
"Kalip, your men have done excellent work, more than excellent in most respect, but still I want them to continue the monitoring those odd established connections to a location in the Outer Rim. I have a good reason for it, although I'm not yet sure about what's exactly going on a planet or system in the Outer Rim. No, I won't reveal yet to you and Valann, or the other members of the council what's on my mind. In time, when I have full proof of my concerns I will tell you my hypothesis and the threat that hypothesis might impose on the galaxy as a whole. The information your men gather could become of immense value. It might become the solid base for my hypothesis."
Kalip Ru'ndo looked in wonder at the chairman of the Provisional Coruscant Council.
"Jerno, you can't keep any secret ideas to Valann and me," He protested.
"I'm not keeping anything secret for both of you, Kalip. It's just that I want to be absolutely sure about my presumptions and inferences, before I will explain them to you and the other members of the council. At the moment I need the silent cooperation of you and Valann, so I can find proof for my findings as fast as possible, for those strange messages might be the clue to a dangerous conclusion. A conclusion I can't reveal yet, because I haven't gathered all the necessary proof yet. So, please be patient. You and Valann will be the first with whom I will share my findings, before we will inform the council members. At moment it's better if I keep my thoughts to myself."
Kalip nodded, "I understand, Jerno, if you don't want to reveal any unproven facts too early, but don't wait too long to inform Valann and me."
Jerno patted his co-leader and old friend at his shoulder.
"I know I can rely on you, Kalip. Your always rapid deduction of problems and your conclusions and possible solutions and Valann's cautious attitude are a good guideline for the policy of our triarchy. I learn a lot from both of you and I appreciate the discussions we have together. Now, let's get back to your conclusion about the possible death of Darth Vader's daughter. In the report there is talk about a possible connection between the disappearance of her guard and the death of the woman. Let's assume the following: could it be that he helped her to escape and that he ran away with her. The transcript of the message states that he has violated the prison rules and has become friends with her. Before he left he might have spread rumors about torture practises inside the Wegoyy prison and the death of the woman. What do we know about the guy?"
"We surely could get that information if an undercover agent could infiltrate at the space port of Tropass. The space port falls under the jurisdiction of the Wegoyy prison," Kalip suggested, "I could send one of our men at Irithim to go to Wegoyy."
"Didn't I just say, I admire you for your way of thinking, my friend. Indeed we should get much more information at Tropass. I also want you to order our intelligence agents at Irithim to send us the reaction of the New Republic government, after they were informed about the woman's escape. We already know that Jedi Knight Skywalker broke off his visit at Tambrin and that he has gone to Wegoyy to get detailed information about her disappearance. I want our undercover agent at Tropass to get information about Jedi Skywalker's inquiry at the Wegoyy prison. Jedi Skywalker hasn't returned to Irithim yet, so we don't know what he has been doing on Wegoyy. I expect him to return one of these days and give a full report about his findings. I'm also eager to know the reaction of the New Republic's government about the possible death of the woman."
"You don't believe she is dead, Jerno."
"Not until I hear some official information about her death from the New Republic's government. If the woman had died of the effects of torture or abuse I expect the Supreme Chancellor will start an investigation at the Wegoyy prison. She and her advisors will hold the commander of the Wegoyy prison accountable for the woman's death if there really is talk of torture, abuse, or other prohibited practises which violate the rules and vision of the New Republic."
Luke and Ian reached Irithim six hours after they left Wegoyy. Luke immediately requested for a secret conference with the members of the High Council and the Supreme Chancellor. He introduced Ian Tydon and let the young man tell his part of the story, then he handed the Council the datapad Dendicott had given him with the commander's evidence of Liane Solichor's so-called escape.
Luke completed his report with the results of his own investigation which included his encounter with the Draga who had confirmed that Ian had brought Liane to their territory. The members of the High Council, in particular the Supreme Chancellor, were outraged when they heard about the torture and drugging of prisoners. Mon Mothma immediately issued an full investigation lead by members of the High Council and herself.
She confirmed Ian's promotion to staff sergeant and assigned him to general Madine's ground forces, but the young officer put in a request to be trained as a pilot. After his arrival in Irithim Ian had heard from some pilots at the base that Luke was the actual commander of Gold Squadron, but that, due to Luke's assignment as Jedi commander, Wedge Antilles had taken over the command. Ian's request was granted and with special permission with the chief of staff of the space fleet he was temporarily assigned to Blue Squadron. Their command leader would teach the young man the basics of piloting a space fighter ship, after which Luke would complete Ian's training.
The young staff sergeant became a good friend of both Skywalkers. Leia highly appreciated the help Ian had given to Liane, although she was very concerned about what had happened to the girl, after Ian had been ordered to leave her in the Wegoyy desert.
Meanwhile Luke had taken action to send messages to all known space ports in the Outer Rim to warn him, if a Corellian freighter with the identification markings HAD731VN would request permission to land. Soon afterwards the answers came in from anywhere in the Outer Rim. It seemed that the six brothers were a very busy bunch and didn't stay on a planet any longer than necessary.
Every time Luke prepared his shuttle and took off, taking Ian Tydon with him, as his co-pilot. Together they paid visits to all those destinations, asking at every port if they knew the Grannd Traveler's next destination and if someone had seen a young woman in the company of the six brothers. To their relief they got a positive answer to their last question. Many traders had met Liane and Luke heard that the six men always introduce her as their younger sister. They had called her Eilidh Grann.
Yet it seemed impossible to get the information about the Grannd Traveler's arrival fast enough to rendezvous with the six brothers. Sometimes Luke and Ian stayed in the Outer Rim for more than a month, traveling from one planet to the other, hoping that they would be in time to intercept the brothers and their female companion. Eight months passed and the two friends had traveled the Outer Rim from one end to the other in search for the brothers and Liane, but their efforts were in vain.
"You shouldn't have come to Irithim, brother," Daino Phylotar said nervously.
"I need your help, Daino. Olon became hopping mad at me, after I told him I signed the furlough for one of the guards. I expected him to report back to me after his return, but he has disappeared."
Daino Phylotar looked a his brother with a cynical smile, "Disappeared, Rand, are you sure?"
"Vanished, there's no trace of him in Tropass. The guy is the only one who knows the exact location where he brought one of our prisoners, a young woman who has been spying for the government. Dendicott has sent out quite a number of our men to look for traces of her, but ...
"Stop, telling me what happened, Rand, for I already know. You and your commander have tortured the Dark Princess of Morantan, Liane Solichor. According to procedures her guard, a guy called Ian Tydon, brought her to the Wegoyy desert to perished. After he came back, he asked for a furlough, but he never came back."
Rand Phylotar looked at his brother, "Do you know where he is, Daino? Olon wants to arrest him, for he's knows what has happened to the girl. I've done investigations in Tropass, but nobody has seen him there. He probably has left Wegoyy the moment he had arrived in Tropass.
So far I couldn't report anything back to Olon, but recently I received an extremely nasty message from him. He wants an update on my pursuit next week. I haven't anything to report, although I have been traveling to all systems near Wegoyy for months, hoping I would find information about the guy, or the girl. I even went to Corellia to see if he has gone back home to his parents. I did some secret inquiring about Lucian Tydon, his father, and his family, but nobody knew anything about a possible return of their son Ian. The Tydon family has a reputation of great integrity. There is nothing to fault them. Lucian and his wife led a reclusive life since their other two sons took over their trading business. Their third son, Ian, is their youngest son. He has left Corellia after he passed his exams at the Academy. It took me months to get this information on Corellia, for the Tydon family shouldn't be aware I was investigating their son. I need help, Daino, for I'm stuck. If you know where he is, tell me, and help me to arrest him."
Daino started to laugh maliciously.
"Sergeant Ian Tydon is a danger to your prison commander and his staff, Rand, and that includes you. I don't want to become involved in your dirty businesses. Sergeant Tydon deserted, and has teamed up with Jedi Knight Skywalker. Recently Mon Mothma has given him an assignment as a pilot in the New Republic's Gold Squadron under command of Wedge Antilles. During his furlough on Wegoyy, which you authorized, he has informed Skywalker about what happened to the woman. Skywalker took him back with him to Irithim, for he wanted the guy to inform the Supreme Chancellor and the members of the High Council. Both Skywalker and Tydon have come back to Irithim more than six months ago. Tydon has officially testified under oath. The High Council now knows everything about you, Dendicott and the others, and about the torture practises in the Wegoyy prison. You and your commander are in deep trouble, brother, and I don't want to have anything to do with it."
"Daino, I don't have to remember you that you owe me several favors," Rand Phylotar said with a unpleasant grin, "I paid the bribe for your promotion, remember. I want you to help me and find out where I can find that deserter Tydon. Is he in Irithim?"
"You want to after him? I have never heard a more foolish plan, Rand," Daino Phylotar said sarcastically, "I warn you, stay away from Tydon. He has become a very close friend of that brother and sister Skywalker. Jedi Skywalker seems personally interested in him. He has given the guy a promotion and also oversees his training as a pilot. Skywalker and Tydon are often leaving Irithim together in Skywalker's former imperial shuttle. There's even rumors that Skywalker has taken Tydon as his Jedi apprentice. Once again, Rand, stay away from him."
"Are you absolutely sure, that Tydon has already informed the High Council and the Supreme Chancellor about what's going on on Wegoyy. Where did you get your information?"
"I have my connections everywhere, Rand, and I have warned you before for Dendicott's malicious behavior. As soon as I was notified that Skywalker had returned to Irithim in the company of a Wegoyy prison officer I knew that something had gone amiss on Wegoyy. I have tried to warn you, but you never answered to any of the messages I sent you. You and Dendicott have made a big mistake, when you followed procedures and ordered her personal guard to bring the victim of those torture practises to those desert mountains. Did you know that the guy had become friends with her. Against the prison rules he chatted with her almost every evening. It also seems that you and your commander never knew, that sergeant Ian Tydon was quite familiar with the desert area on Wegoyy. He has lived in that mesa desert during his final military training for more than a year. Longer than anyone else, and he survived because he befriended an indigenous tribe: the Draga. Tydon has probably brought the woman to the Draga territory, for he knew they would give her shelter, which those creatures have done indeed. So far she seems to have survived some of the treatment Dendicott gave her, but now she is an even greater danger to you and Dendicott, for if she recovers from that mind drug; she can give the High Council more evidence about what has happened to her and that will mean the end of your career and Dendicott's. "
"Are you telling me, that the woman is alive? Is she still on Wegoyy?"
Daino Phylotar shook his head.
"She is alive, but no longer on Wegoyy. Jedi Skywalker and Tydon are looking for the crew of a Corellian freighter who has picked her up in the Wegoyy desert about a month after Tydon had left her in that Draga territory."
Rand Phylotar looked ill at ease.
"Find out that freighter's id-marks, Daino," He snapped, "I have to find her before I go after that deserter. I must get rid of her."
Daino Phylotar looked at his brother with a sardonic smile.
"Are you seriously planning to compete with a Jedi Knight? Good luck, Rand! You're an even bigger fool than I thought. He's no match for us guys! He and his Jedi sister have too many friends in the higher echelons of the New Republic, and they both possess the ability to use the ultimate Jedi power, which they call the Force. Stay out off all this. Let Dendicott bleed for it, don't get deeper involved, otherwise you will accelerate your downfall. If I were you, I would desert and defect like Tydon has done and tell the High Council that you resisted all Dendicott's plans with the woman."
Rand Phylotar looked at his brother with disgust, but suddenly he started to laugh and slapped Daino on his shoulder.
"Thank you, brother. You've just come up with a brilliant idea to safe my neck, and to improve my career. First of all I need to find that Dark Princess of Morantan before Skywalker finds her. Find the information about that Corellian freighter for me. I'll kidnap her, before that Jedi can bring her to Irithim. I will make sure that she will testify before the High Council and she will tell them that I saved her life."
Now Daino Phylotar grinned too.
"I'll see what I can find out. Let's say ... we meet in three, maybe four months, probably longer."
"Three till four months, maybe longer! Why do you need such a long time to get that information? Where do I have to stay all that time? I can't get back to Wegoyy. Olon holds me responsible for what Tydon has done. He surely will arrest me if I returned empty-handed," Rand protested.
"That's not really my problem, Rand. I'm not interested in the way, how you will keep Dendicott of your back, but I know a nice place where you can stay. It's hidden in the back streets of Mas'onom, the old space port of the Dalmaranians. I will inform some friends, that they can expect you. I'll tell they will meet you at Mas'onom space port. One last warning, Rand. Travel unobtrusively and never reveal what you are planning. See you in the De'olon forest in four months, I hope. I'll let you know if I need more time, or if I have found the information you need. I have to be cautious, you know, very cautious. I'm a high ranking officer serving the New Republic. I have to avoid that my superior, especially general Madine, who also is one of Mon Mothma's High Council advisors, will get suspicious about me."