he place was completely dark, except for a tiny spark of light. Lieutenant Whain scrambled up and stretched out his hands, like a blind man, in front of him. Around him the darkness was impenetrable. He even couldn't see his outstretched hands. He reached to the spark of light and started to move towards it.
'Where am I?' He thought, 'What happened.'
Suddenly he fell on his knees and he couldn't move any further. Something had been tied to his ankle and held him captive. In the darkness he groped down his left leg and found a kind of manacle with a chain around his ankle. Heatedly he pulled the chain, but he couldn't untie himself. Outraged he sad down and tried to recall his memories. He had been able to refit and activate that communication equipment. After a short test he had told those guarding droids to warn their master. Not long after his message the guy had entered in a hurry. He had said nothing.
Lieutenant Whain felt dizzy and shook his head, trying to recall what had happened next. He had seen that Darth Golluth had entered some mysterious codes. The holographic display had popped but that was the last thing he remembered. He couldn't recall anything else. Had he been knocked unconscious, had Darth Golluth used that peculiar walking stick with those electric bolts on him again, or did those nasty droid stun him?
Whain pulled at the manacle again, but in vain. The chain seemed to be attached to the wall. He sat on his knees and crept along the floor, keeping the chain in his left hand. Within a few minutes he bumped again a wall and felt the clamp which had been driven into the wall. Whain turned and looked at the spark of light at the opposite side. Was that the door? The entrance to this cavern.
Furious he sprang on his feet and started screaming.
"Hey, get me out of here!" He yelled angrily on top of his voice.
Almost immediately the tiny spark of light grew, became an streak of light and a door opened.
"Do you want anything, sir?" the mechanical voice of a protocol droid asked. The droid took a few steps inside the cave.
Whain started to laugh cynically.
"Do I want anything? Of course, I do, you fools. Get this manacle of my foot. I'm not your master's prisoner." He yelled.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I told that my master has ordered that you should stay with him, in case he needs you for further repairs."
"Untie me, you idiot. I have nothing to do with your master. I'm an imperial officer and I want to get back to my ship."
He tore at the chain.
"You will be treated fairly, sir, if you cooperate. I have the orders to get you proper meals and drinks."
Whain nearly exploded with rage and reached out to attack the droid, but he couldn't reached it and fell flat on his knees again. A stabbing pain shot through his arm and hand and almost made him scream, but he swallowed it. The droid had taken a few steps back. Whain scrambled up again, looked at the droid and snarled.
"I want some more light in here."
"As you wish, sir," the droid answered and almost immediately the cavern bathed a bright light. To Whain's surprise the cave had been furnished with a sofa, a table and a stool.
"Now, get out!" Whain snarled again. He jumped to his feet and walked over to the sofa. The chain at his ankle was long enough to allow him as much freedom as he needed to make use of the furniture.
The droid was about to leave, as Whain remembered he wanted a drink.
"Wait! I want a drink," he said still feeling outraged.
The droid bowed, left the cave and the door locked. Three minutes later the droid appeared again with a tray.
"I brought you your meal too, sir. You might be hungry too, after all the recent excitement."
Whain nearly exploded again. The droid put the tray on the table and walked back to the door.
"Enjoy your meal, sir."
Whain gritted his teeth, sat down on the stool and looked at the tray. It wasn't what he had expected. There was enough food to serve a hungry man and the smell was mouth-watering. Suddenly feeling hungry he forgot that he had been more or less imprisoned against his will. He ate his fill and scraped the last bits of the plate. He poured some pale yellow liquid in a glass and sipped, then he swigged the wine in a few gulps.
"Palomintar Quelan Wine. Excellent harvest. This guy has an expert taste as it comes to food and drinks.
He poured another glass, walked over to the sofa and relaxed. He looked down at the manacle at his ankle, but the wine had warmed him and made him drowsy. He emptied his second glass and laid down. The chain didn't hamper his movements as he turn on his side and fell asleep.
Wedge and Yarmod made their way inside the chasm and found the path along the underground river. They both used their flashlights and moved on carefully. Every now and then Wedge checked the map with the dotted red line.
"We're nearing the passageway to the hidden door, Yarmod. It must be at the end of this path, where the river vanishes."
"I hope master Luke has been able to warn Liane, otherwise we're stuck here."
"We always can return along the same path and get back to our speeder. Look here's the dead end of the river, our passageway is on the right," Wedge commented.
On the right side a dry plateau lead to a shallow corridor. Within a few steps they stood in front of a wall which seemed to be made of impenetrable rock. Wedge moved the beam of his flashlight over the rock.
"My young padawan, I want you to use the power of the Force to slid aside this rocky door." He said turning to Yarmod who stood behind him.
The young man flashed the beam across the wall, then he turned it off. For a moment he stood motionless in front of the wall. His master had stepped aside and watched his young apprentice closely. Yarmod Martan made a step forward, tuned in on the Force and stretched out his hands until he felt the rocky wall. After a slight Force push a soft scraping sound was heard and the rocky wall slowly slid to the right. In the dark corridor Wedge Antilles smiled and nodded approvingly.
"Impressive, young padawan. This time you were fully one with our ally," He said
"Thank you, master. I must confess that when I started I felt some uneasiness, but after I became aware of the Force surrounding this door I knew how to open it."
"You suppressed your fears about a possible failure and fully trusted the Force to help you." Wedge commented and patted his padawan at the shoulder, "Well, we can proceed."
They passed the aperture and Wedge secured the hidden entrance. For a moment, they observed the dark space behind the passage in total silence. Somewhere behind the rocky wall to the left they heard the gurgling sound of the underground river. Wedge stepped forward and raised his right hand. He tuned in on the Force and focussed on the hidden lighttubes Luke had mentioned. One by one the lighttubes started glowing. Astounded the Jedi master and his apprentice looked around. Their glance slid over the stacks of sealed boxes, the transparisteel cabinet and the cosy workspace at the corner.
"This is Jedi cavern," Wedge said and entered the huge cave.
"It seems that master Luke is staying here sometimes," Yarmod remarked pointing at the lounge, the desk and a small kitchen cabinet.
"He is. He has been studying here several times. He wants to learn as much as he can about the old knowledge of the Jedi Knights."
They walked to the middle of the cave. For several minutes they only absorbed the enormous quantity of Jedi knowledge that had been stacked all over the place. Finally Yarmod took courage and walked over to the nearest box. He checked the seal and carefully lifted the lid. With awe he looked at the thousands of tiny datacrons that were stored in transparent boxes. A small device drew his attention. He bent down and took it in his hands.
"Look, master, there are thousands of datacrons and a special reader stacked in this box."
"Each of these boxes must contain a part of the Jedi history. Luke told me that every box has its own reading device. The content of all the old Jedi scrolls and books has been stored on these datacrons. These data carriers survived the destruction of the Jedi temple, because they were stored in the vaults of the temple. It's extremely lucky that Luke and Leia have saved these boxes, for the original old books and scrolls have been burned which is a great loss. This box has been opened before. Use your power pack to activate the reader and slip one of the datacrons in the reading slot. I want to see what it reveals."
Yarmod clicked a battery pack form his belt and connected it to the reader. He took the first datacron from the box and put the square card in the slot. Immediately the holographic display of the reader activated and the content of a book popped up. The page was perfectly readable. Wedge looked over Yarmod's shoulder.
"It's in Jediese, the ancient language of the Jedi. This must be written in the days of the old Jedi Order."
Yarmod examined the sides of the reader.
"I don't see a kind of translate button, master. If we can't get a good translation we won't be able to learn from its content."
"I know Luke has been busy translating some of these ancient books. I'll ask him later. Put everything in place again and see what's more in the place. I want to look at those holocrons."
Yarmod switched off the reader, took off his power back, put the datacron in its box, and close the lid of the box. In the meantime his master had walked over to the transparisteel cabinet. Yarmod followed him.
"These device are of great value, my young padawan. Each of them contains the lessons of one of the old Jedi master. Look, that one is master Yoda's holocron and next to it is the one master Arca Jeth, a Jedi master who has lived more than four thousand years ago. We are so lucky that these holocrons haven't been destroyed."
"How can you use them, master?"Yarmod asked
"As far as I know only a fully trained Jedi Knight can use these devices, that is what Luke told me," Wedge answered.
"That's not true. I can use them and I'm not a Jedi Knight," A voice said and both master and apprentice looked up. Near the cosy workspace stood Liane with a laughing welcoming face.
"Liane!" Yarmod said and walked over to her, "So good to meet you again. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Yarmod. How are you? Welcome to the temporary Jedi library. It still looks a bit chaotic, but one day Luke will have everything put in order. Welcome, master Antilles," she said and made a slight bow.
"Nice to meet you again, Liane Solichor," Wedge Antilles and stretched out his hand.
He looked at Liane in amazement. Was this young woman the crying devastated girl he had stopped from running away on Endor? She looked so much more mature, full of self-confidence. Her whole attitude betrayed the tremendous change she had undergone. He felt the strong influence of the Force radiating between them.
"We're glad to be here, Liane. I hope you and I can settle our little conflict on Endor." He said
"Master Antilles, I never blamed you for stopping me. I don't think there is any misunderstanding or conflict between us," Liane said, "I just heard you say that the holocrons can only be use if a person is a fully trained Jedi. That's what Luke told me the first time. He let me take out the holocron of master Yoda, and I had an interesting talk with Luke's old master."
"You're privileged, Liane. Luke told me about the progress you made using the Force. Does her influence still scare you?"
Liane shook her head.
"Not anymore, master Antilles. I have accepted that I possess the ability to feel the Force in everything that surrounds me. I want to learn to make use of that power the right way. Shall we go to the Supreme Chancellor's residence. It's quite a walk, but Threepio and Artoo will have a diner ready when we arrive."
She saw how Wedge and Yarmod looked longingly around at the stacks of boxes.
"We can come back here any time, master Antilles. Luke has asked me to show you everything. He wants you to start your study of these datacrons as much as you want."
"That will be difficult, Liane, for most of these texts are written by the Jedi masters of the Old Republic. They are in Jediees, a very old and difficult language, from what I've heard," Yarmod said.
Liane started laughing.
"Then I have another surprise, Yarmod. You can read all of this datacrons if you use the Force flow that emanates around the text. I've just discovered to do it myself. My maternal ancestress, Nomi Sunrider taught me how to use the Force to read them."
"Nomi Sunrider is your ancestress?" Wedge asked curiously.
"I'll tell you the story while we're on our way to Mon Mothma's residence. Shall we go? Please, follow me."
On Tyr Luke used the time before his departure to Myr to make Chati more aware of her Force ability. The daughter of Toallin was very eager to learn more about her slumbering skills.
Toallin had talked to his wife Udin. At first she had rejected Luke's proposal to train their eldest as a Jedi Knight. She had insisted that Chati had to settle down and raise her own family. Toallin enlisted the aid of Kamalin to convince his wife. The wise teacher explained to Udin how he had sensed the influence of the Force on her daughter and confessed that the girl's Force potential had been the main reason why he had kept Chati as his pupil. In the end Udin had given up her objections, but she had persisted in her believe that Luke Skywalker would probably be disappointed in her daughter's abilities. Together with Luke and Kamalin they had told their decision to Chati Of course the girl had been delighted and had promised she would do everything to be a worthy student.
During Chati's first lessons Luke focussed on the young woman's awareness of the slumbering influence of the Force. He taught her to become more aware of her feelings and the omnipresent of the Force. With growing enthusiasm, Chati subjected herself to the exercises that Luke taught her to perform. She began to feel the influence of Force in all the life forms in her surroundings.
Luke had chosen the plateau halfway uphill as a place to practise Chati's Force skills. With help of Ian Tydon he showed Chati what he expected of her. Chati was in awe of Ian's use of the Force power. In the beginning she was too eager to equal Ian's Force performance. She practised to lift and float all kinds of rocks and fallen branches, small and large, until she completely exhausted herself, but her attempts became more and more successful, as her commitment to Luke's demands and her self-awareness in her Force abilities began to grow.
After a midday lesson Luke, Ian and Chati were taking a rest on the plateau, looking out on Cantamaga. Luke had instructed Ian to take Chati with him, while he was running uphill, encouraging her to use her Force potential. At the top of the plateau, Chati leaned for a few minutes against the trunk of the tree completely out of breath. She looked at Ian in awe, and stammered, while catching her breath.
"Where did you learn to run this fast?"
"I use the Force to extend my endurance. When I started running, I reached out to the Force to extend my physical power."
"So the Force can also be used to aim at a personal goal."
"Yes, if you learn to listen to the Force, and commit yourself to her, she will obey all your commands," Ian explained, looking at Luke who nodded approvingly.
"You did well, Chati, although you feel exhausted," Luke commented, "You have to practise these exercises so next time you will be able to keep up with Ian."
"Oh, I will, master Skywalker. I'm glad mother finally agreed, although I feel she still doesn't believe you. I hope I won't disappoint you. Will I become your padawan learner, master Jedi?"
"No, Chati, and don't expect you will be someone's padawan learner soon. You have to be very patient and intensify your feelings with the Living Force. There's a lot for you to learn and become aware of. You first have to learn to feel the Force in everything that surrounds you, in everything you do," Luke said very seriously.
"You have someone as your padawan learner, haven't you?"
"What makes you think so?"
Chati shrugged his shoulder
"The other Jedi master who visited us recently has a padawan and Ian is your sister's padawan. Those Jedi masters have been your padawans I'm told. I can't believe that you aren't training anyone at the moment?"
"Who told you?"
Chati pointed at Ian.
"Ian and I have done a lot of talking, master Jedi. He told me about his adventures with you. He likes you a lot. He told me that he has been your padawan only for a while, but now master Leia is his master. Why didn't you complete his training yourself."
"My sister Leia started Ian's training, Chati. I took over for the time of her honeymoon with general Solo, but I insisted that Ian would complete his training under her guidance."
"Who will decided if Ian has completed his training. I mean, does he have to pass a kind of exam?"
"I will make that decision together with Ian's master. To become a Jedi Knight Ian has to pass some final trials on Tatooine and Dagobah."
"Are those places dangerous, master Jedi? Aren't you afraid to go there, Ian?" Chati asked, turning to the padawan learner.
"If master Luke will decide, that he wants me to go with him to Tatooine and Dagobah, he is convinced that I'm ready to pass the final trials," Ian said with a smile.
"If you have passed those trials, will you be allowed to chose a padawan?" Chati asked.
"Sure, and perhaps it won't a bad idea to ask master Luke if I can take you as my padawan learner. What do you think? We both get on perfectly well, don't we, Chati?" Ian said and winked at Luke.
Chati blushed despite her olive-green skin.
"I don't know if I'll be ready to become your padawan, Ian?" She blurted out.
Luke and Ian who had both noticed Chati's uncertain feelings after Ian's remarks, laughed. Luke patted Chati on her shoulder.
"You don't have to feel overwhelmed by Ian's proposal, Chati. He is teasing you. Your apprenticeship as his padawan is still a long way off. You just asked me if I have a padawan, and yes, I have."
"Ian, I would love to become your padawan one day, and call you 'master'," Chati said, and her cheeks colored again, "I'm sure you will be a great Jedi Knight after you've passed those trials, probably the best I can get. Master Kamalin says you're already a Jedi Knight, so I will be very lucky if you will accept me as your padawan learner if master Luke thinks I worthy to become a Jedi Knight."
She turned to Luke, and asked, "Where is your padawan, master Jedi? Why isn't he accompanying you?"
"She, Chati. My padawan learner is a young woman, like you."
"Did you send her on a mission on her own?" Chati asked curiously, not in the least surprised that Luke's padawan was a woman.
"More or less. She couldn't accompany me and my friends to Palomintar Four, because she has a task to fulfill on Dalmaran."
"If she has finished her mission, will she come to Palomintar Four to join you? Will she help us to recapture our town of Ribana?"
For a moment Luke looked in the distance to the small community Cantamaga. He thought of Liane in the underground residence on Dalmaran. Had Wedge already arrived? Would he be able to protect Liane against Darth Golluth' spies?
"You are worrying about her, aren't you, master Jedi?" Chati asked.
Luke looked at her. He nearly had forgotten the girl's presence.
"I do, Chati, that's why I send the other Jedi Knight and his padawan to help her."
"So, she isn't yet ready to go to, what did you say, Tatooine and Dagobah? She is not ready to pass those final trials Ian has to do. You're saying that Ian is doing a lot better than she does, because he is accompanying you and his master. Your padawan still has to learn a lot about the Force, just like me," the young female Quelan concluded.
Luke and Ian started laughing out loud.
"My padawan learner knows already a lot about the Force and the ways of the Jedi, Chati. She has been brought up, using the Force, but sometimes some extra support is needed. Your curiosity has already given you a lot of new information about the Jedi Knights, Chati, I think it's time to get back to Cantamaga. We shouldn't have your mother waiting with her diner."
"Can Ian and I compete who will be the first home, master Jedi?" Chati asked challenging Ian as she ran away.
Luke and Ian watched her go.
"She is quite a chatterer, but she is so honest and has such a lot of candor," Ian said, cherishing his feelings for the young woman, "To be honest, master Luke, I like her as much as I like Liane."
"She has to learn a lot, Ian, but I agree with you about her frankness and honesty," Luke said.
Ian and Luke waited another couple of minutes before they left the plateau. Ian had seen that Chati had taken the more dangerous sloping path downhill. He followed her at a moderate pace. Luke watch him go and took the trodden footpath that sloped down more easily. At an easy pace he walked downward and reached the outskirts of Cantamaga at the same moment as Ian and Chati, who were laughing and teasing each other. Together they entered the village.
Mon Mothma was leaning back in her chair while thinking about Liane Solichor. She had become very fond of the young woman who has once been accused of being a collaborator of some unworthy representatives of the New Republic. Liane had been very lucky she had some Jedi friends as her protectors and guardians. But they all had to leave her own in that underground residence.
'Poor girl,' Mon Mothma thought, 'So far your life has been full of troubles and problems. Raised by Darth Vader, exploited by Zolgathrii, abused on Wegoyy by commander Dendicott, and now pursued by another Dark Side user who's living on Palomintar Four. You told me you have been so happy teaming up with Luke Skywalker on Endor and Tatooine, living the life a normal free person, but we had to bring you to a secure place for your own safety. Liane, my dear, how are you doing? I'm really worried about you, now that I can't get in touch with you. Maybe I should pay you another personal visit? Let me check my appointments.'
Mon Mothma pulled the keyboard of her infocom in front of her and entered her order of business. She sighed heavily as she read the long list of appointments and tasks she had to attend the next days. Disappointed she shook her head.
'I can't cancel any of these meetings. I'm sorry, Liane, my visit to you has to wait. Let's see if I have some spare time next month.'
She scrolled through the list of appointments. The earliest possible time in her busy schedule was eight weeks away. Quickly she typed a coded message on the open pages, so she had secured her planned visit. With another deep sigh she closed her schedule list. Too busy, too much to do and still no information about the Jedi Knights on Palomintar Four. A beep on the infocom made her look up at the alerts again. The incoming messages formed a list as long as her appointments. One message immediately tracked her attention. She selected it and pressed her access code. The holographic image of Wedge Antilles popped up.
'Wedge,' she thought, 'the other Jedi. Maybe I could send him to Liane and see if she is safe.'
The message was a recorded one. She activated the hologram and listened.
"Madam," Wedge said, "My padawan and me I have finished our mission on Lumeara. We managed to convince the board of overlords of the planet of the intentions of the New Republic. They want to come to an agreement with the New Republic and have accepted the credentials. We have promissed the overlords that the government of the New Republic will contact them as soon as possible. Details of our temporary agreement go along this message. We are leaving Lumeara tonight and are heading for the Palomintar System. Luke has asked my assistance. We will report back to you on our arrival on Dalmaran as soon as possible."
The holographic image disappeared. Mon Mothma checked the date of the message. Her diplomatic emissary had left Lumeara almost four days ago. She had missed an opportunity to send the only other Jedi to Liane. Wedge Antilles and his padawan would have reached Palomintar Four three days from now. What had been so urgent that Luke Skywalker needed his friend's assistance? How was the situation on Palomintar Four? Mon Mothma looked up with a determined look on her face. She pressed several buttons on her desk.
"Yes, madam," the voice of Crix Madine sounded.
"General, please, come to my office at once," She ordered.
Within a few moment general Madine entered.
"General, how long will it take to get one of our scout ships to the Palomintar System?"
"Our scout ships aren't equipped with those new fast hyperdrives. I estimate they can reach the system within twenty, maybe twenty-five hours."
"Send one, immediately, general. The crew has to carry out the following order: make contact with Jedi master Skywalker or his sister and asked them if they need reinforcements."
"Do you want the ship to set course to Palomintar Four, or should they also go to Palomintar Six, madam?"
For a moment Mon Mothma was silent.
"Send them to Palomintar Six, general. You said there is a very elementary kind of supervision on that planet. If their inquiries are in vain they have come back to Irithim at once and report to me. We will decide what to do, after their return. I'm getting worried, general. I just received a recorded message that Jedi master Wedge Antilles is heading towards Palomintar System also."
"I'll see to it that a scout ship will leave as soon as possibly, madam." General Madine said, while he rose, "Any further orders?"
"Thank you, general. We can only hope that our friends aren't caught in a dangerous situation."
Chati was hiding behind a huge rock near the community building where the harvest men lived. It was dark, Palomintar Four had no moons and the only light shone from behind a window in the building. Chati shivered and pulled her thick coat tighter around her. She observed her surroundings carefully, and when she was sure that nothing moved around the building, she ran bent toward the lighted window. In the shadow she crept closer and hid herself under her thick cloak.
Inside the building Luke, Han, Chewbacca, Leia and Ian were meeting Cornell. The Jedi master and his friends were discussing their strategy with Cornell. The weathered leader of the harvest men looked at the holographic map that had popped up at the middle of the rough table.
Outside Chati carefully pulled herself up and gazed through the lighted window. She saw the holographic map and immediately recognized the surroundings of Ribana and the mountain ridge where that Darth Golluth lived.
The young woman gritted her teeth as she remembered how imperial stormtroopers had rounded up the inhabitants of Ribana. They had selected a number of strong young male Quelans and separated them from the crowd. The stormtroopers had lead the group out of Ribana to the mountain ridge. The remaining inhabitants had been told that the town had been occupied and their possessions had been confiscated. All inhabitant were expelled and had been prohibited to return to their homes forever. The stormtroopers had driven them into the wild and had chased them far away from Ribana. Her father, her uncle, together with master Kamalin and master Wildon had lead the group through the wild forests and woodlands to the east coast.
Chati remembered that against all odds several of the men had tried to return to Ribana in a vain attempt to recapture the city. Only a few had returned, telling the others that most of them had been killed by the stormtroopers who had build a impenetrable defense line around Ribana. After several weeks they finally had reached the hidden harbor where the harvest men had picked them up and brought them to the continent of Tyr.
The first year on Tyr had been extremely difficult. Cantamaga had only been build to serve the harvest men to store the nuts and provide a temporary shelter. Everything they needed had to be build. The first weeks the women and children had gathered the berries, roots, and wild vegetables for food in the wild lands. The harvest men hadn't allowed anyone in the wild forest with the nut trees, for they told the refugees that there were dangerous predators - Urams - in those woods. All the men and some women had been busy building new houses for their families and friends. Originally Tyr hadn't known any wildlife, but the harvest men had been able to secretly capture a flock of nagawa's on Myr and had brought them to Tyr.
Once again Chati glanced through the window. She saw how Jedi master Skywalker was leading this meeting with Cornell. Chati admired Luke in silence. Cornell was known for his unyielding view, but he seemed to agree to the Jedi's words. Chati saw him nodding approvingly more than once. It was a pity that she couldn't hear what they were saying. Silently she dropped back and covered himself under her cloak. Determined she wondered how she could find a way to be part of the recapture of her hometown. Suddenly it seemed she heard some voices. She crept even closer to the wall, but to her surprise no one came outside. Still she heard the voices talking and arguing. She recognized Cornell's voice and the voice of the lady Jedi Leia alternating with the dark grumble of the Wookiee Chewbacca. Then Chati clearly heard Luke Skywalker's voice. She peered from under her cloak, but she saw no one.
"Cornell," she heard the Jedi master say, "Are you sure we can get access to the network of caves Darth Golluth uses as his shelter."
"Master Jedi," Cornell answered. "In the past the old river once ran straight under the mountain to the former outlet, which is now the entrance of Darth Golluth's, as you called him, underground shelter. We only have to check the condition of the underground riverbed under the mountain. It's some hundred years ago, that the river found a new course."
Now Chati heard the voice of Han Solo.
"How can you be sure we can use that underground riverbed, Cornell?"
Chati heard some inaudible grumpy answer. She knew, that Cornell didn't agree with Han Solo skeptical remarks, but the general and Cornell had something in common; both parties were skeptical and proud.
"We will take all our equipment with us, master Skywalker. If by chance the old underground riverbed is blocked somewhere, we will created a new path."
"Darth Golluth might hear what you're doing and get suspicious," Chati heard Leia Solo say.
"No madam, let me explain," Cornell said, "During the seasons we were living on Myr, we did some secret mining under those mountains. We developed some tools which can fractionate rock. We had to work that way, because using explosives might trigger another earthquake. As I've already explained to master Skywalker, the underground around the mountain ridge hold a lots of fissures, cracks and chasms. Underneath a flow of lave seems to find its way from the lava pits and a underground lave lake to the other side of ridge far to the north."
"Is it an option to use explosives and change the course of the underground lava flow?" Han Solo.
"That's impossible, and dangerous, general Solo, for we're not sure about the precise course of the lava flow underneath the mountain. We never investigate it. It's much easier to change the course of the river into the old bedding. That might cause a flood inside that cave network and drown that guy who has taken our town."
Luke spoke again.
"So we have three, maybe four options, to enter the underground network of Darth Golluth. One, we do thorough investigation on the course of the old riverbed and see if we can enter unseen in his network of caves. Two, we divert the river to its old bed. The water flood will leave Darth Golluth no other option then to leave his underground shelter and flee. Three, we investigate the possibilities to use the underground lava flow, change its course, and lead the flow through the old riverbed. That will certainly mean the end of Darth Golluth as the heat of the molten rock will suffocate him. That last option seems almost impossible. Cornell, we depend on your help and that of your men. We want to leave Tyr tomorrow morning with the Millennium Falcon. If you want to help us, we expect you to be ready at dawn."
"Well spoken, master Jedi, my men and I will do our part and support you as much as we can. You will see us tomorrow at dawn."
Chati heard some scraping of stools, but suddenly all seems completely quiet again. The only sound she heard was the hooting of a night bird. She opened her eyes. Irritated she crept from under her cloak. She had wanted to learn about the plan they had made to retake Ribana and now she had fallen asleep, dreaming about a conversation between Cornell and his harvesters and master Skywalker and his friends. Angry with herself she wanted to get back to her hiding place behind the rock, when she heard the voices of Luke and Cornell again. This time they were close by.
"We'll see you at the Falcon, Cornell. We'll leave Tyr as soon as you're ready." Luke said.
"We'll be ready tomorrow at dawn, master Jedi. You can count on us, " Cornell replied.
Chati heard footsteps, walking downhill, back to Cantamaga. A door closed and the sound of the footsteps died out. Chati rushed to the rock and saw that the lights inside the building went out. She waited for a couple of minutes, then she hurried down the slope and ran home.
Without a noise she reached the backside of the government building. Everything was dark. She sighed relieved, no one had missed her. They were all vast asleep. She checked her chrono: six hours before dawn. She had to hurry. She ran over to the open window of her room on the first floor. For a moment she stood still. At the other wing of the government building she heard the whispering voices of her human friends. The voices died out. Probably they would take some rest too.
She grabbed a hidden pole put it upright and climbed to the open window. Once inside her room she started packing a few things: a flashlight, a knife, some rope and a bag of nuts. She stuffed her thick coat on top. Carefully she lowered the tool bag and climbed on the window sill. She closed the window and lowered herself. She picked up the tool bag and hid the pole among some bushes. Then she quickly tiptoed away and ran to the spot outside Cantamaga where the Falcon and the space craft had landed.
While running she thought about what she had heard. It hadn't been a dream. She really had heard the discussion between those Jedi and their friends and Cornell. They were about to leave and she wanted to go with them. She wanted to help them with the liberation of her hometown. A feeling inside her told her that her presence would be useful to them. Her fast running made her pant heavily and for a moment she had to held her pace, then she focussed her thoughts on the lesson of his Jedi master. She tuned in on the Force and ran even faster to the landing spot.
To her surprise the Falcon stood with blazing lights and the ramp down on the grassy plain. The big Wookiee Chewbacca was fiddling around the ship stowing stock and other supplies in the cargo holds.
Chati crept as near the ship as she could and started looking for a way to get on board and hide herself inside the ship, but there seemed no opportunity. Chewbacca was running fast up and down the ramp with their supplies.
In vain Chati waited for nearly two hours and almost wanted to give up, when a grand opportunity offered itself. A large flock of grazing nagawa's entered the plain. Chati immediately recognized his opportunity, withdrew from her hiding place and made an outflanking move that brought her behind the flock of nagawa's. She picked up a large pole and started to shoo the nagawa's further unto the plain. The numb animals didn't really respond to her shooing and continued their grazing. Chati waved with her stick to Chewbacca and went over to him.
"Hey, Chewbacca, you're early this morning too. I didn't expect to see some one at this hour."
She pointed at the stack of crates.
"Are you leaving?" She asked.
Chewbacca grunted a long sentence in Shyriiwook. Chati didn't understand the hairy giant. She looked over her shoulder to the flock of nagawa's.
"They will stay there for a while. Shall I give you a hand?"
To her surprise the Wookiee gladly accepted her offer. Together they started to carry the remaining boxes inside the Falcon. Chewbacca grumbled and grunted approvingly and showed the girl where she had to stowe the crates. To her dismay Chati wasn't able to have a good look around as long as the Wookiee stayed close. She couldn't believe her luck, as she suddenly heard the voice of Han Solo outside the ship.
Chewbacca hurried away and down the ramp, leaving Chati inside on her own. The girl didn't wait a second, lifted one of the floor plates, where Chewbacca had stowed some mysterious equipment. She threw down her bag, jumped inside and pulled the floor plate back on top. The space was cramped, but Chati was able to hide herself behind a large crate. She heard Han Solo and Chewbacca enter the ship.
"No she isn't here, Chewie. You said, you left her in the cargo hold, when you stowed away those last crates. Well, she isn't here anymore. She probably left and went along with those nagawa's, remembering her own chores. I saw those beasts crossing the plain to that mountain ridge, " She heard Han's comment.
Chati grinned in silence and made herself as comfortable as possible behind the crate. After they had landed on Myr, she would find an opportunity to leave this hiding place unseen.
To be continued...