uke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca had gone to flight control room of the Millennium Falcon. They were listening to Chewie's side of Chati's story. When the Wookiee had finished, Han grinned.
"The more I hear, the more I like that girl. Guys, the way she told that son of Cornell to mind his own business! I could have kissed her."
"I'm glad you didn't, darling, for I found her reaction to Cornell disrespectful," Leia said.
"Disrespectful, she defended her own rights against the traditional way the Quelans have lived for decades and longer, I presume," Han commented, still grinning, "She is opposing any limitation of her position as a female. You should give her your support, sweetheart."
Leia shook her head.
"This isn't the way things can be changed, Han. Chati has to accept that her fellow male Quelans can't yet see her as an equal. Even if she has become a Jedi Knight in the future, she will remain an outsider in their community."
Chewbacca grunted sometimes nasty.
"Yes, Chewie, that's the way it will be for Chati," Leia sighed, "Even if she will succeed to change her life the way she wants it, it will probably never gain her the respect of the Quelan community. They have a very traditional way of living in which the traditional role pattern between males and females is strictly defined. You've heard how Cornell reacted to Chati as she objected against him."
"Cornell made a mistaken to call her Mayan, he even insisted more or less to see her as Mayan," Luke interrupted, "Although that's her birth name, she hasn't gone by that name, ever since Toallin started calling her Chati."
"I think we should support her," Han said.
"We will," Luke said, "She deserves our gratitude, because these memory cards may hold the clues we need if we want to confront Darth Golluth. Let's see if we can extract their content. We have to do it quick, because these card have to be brought back to the vineyard house immediately. The guy Chati has observed will certainly come back for another visit. If these cards aren't in place he knows that some else has seen what he was doing. Han can you start your main computer. I hope the data analyzer can read the content, so I can bring them back tonight, if possible. Chati might be right, the guy might be in danger if he spying on Darth Golluth."
"He's probably the guy admiral Vestor wants to get back on board the Basilisaea. Wedge had several encounters with the admiral, before the Tychorion arrived in the Palomintar System," Leia said.
Meanwhile Han had switched on the main computer of the Falcon and Luke gave him the two memory cards. Han placed them in the slots and activated the holodisplay. A whirl of binary data started to pass. Luke and Leia watched the data and sighed.
"As I feared," Leia said, "Completely encrypted. We need the Quoith computers to extract the data."
Luke said nothing and stared at the ongoing flow of binary figures.
"Han, make a straightforward copy of this data in the memorybanks of the Falcon. Contact the Tychorion, transmit our copy and asked the general to transmit it further to Quoith. He has to ask them to find the encryption method and we also need to know who is using this method."
"I'll copy the data to a separate card, Luke. I don't want to memory banks of the Falcon to store anything I don't know what to expect."
"That's fine with me, Han, but do it quickly."
"Do you really want to bring them back tonight, Luke?" Leia asked.
"Chewie, you know where these cards were hidden. I want you to accompany me. Get the speeder ready. We leave as soon as Han as copied the cards. Leia, I want you to contact the general. This is urgent."
He rose and walked to the passageway that lead to the ramp.
"Where are you going, Luke?"
"Give some secret support to Chati. I'll be back soon."
Luke left the Falcon and went straight to the spot uphill near the waterfall, where he expected Chati would be set to work. He ignited his lightsaber, carved a series of deep lines, and crumbled the underlaying rock with his feet. He leveled the crumble layers and rearranged the few larger boulders on top of the crumbled line to mask his work. Then he went back to the alcove in the cave, took a small strip of paper from his belt and scribbled a few words. Without making any noise he went over to Chati. The girl was fast asleep. Luke kneeled and put the note in her hand. Quickly he left and went back to the Falcon. Han had copied the two memory cards and Leia was already talking to general Madine.
"I will pass this to Quioth with the highest priority, Your Highness," Luke heard the holographic image of the general say.
"Thank you, general. We are very eager to know their answer." Leia said and switched off.
"General Madine will contact Quoith immediately, Luke. I hope to have an answer on our request as you have come back. You'd better leave now, if you want to restore those memory cards in their secret place before sunrise."
"Chewie and I might be back tomorrow night, Leia. I want to see if that guy is visiting the vineyard building regularly. Where is Chewie, Han?" Luke asked.
"Waiting outside, near the speeder. Good luck, Luke, and be careful." His brother-in-law said.
Leia walked down the ramp following her brother.
"Shall I contact you if I have an answer from the general?"
"No, that might be dangerous. I will contact you, if there's a safe opportunity. Chewie, let's go."
Luke jumped at the passengers seat, leaving it to the Wookiee to get them to Ribana as quickly as possible.
Liane, Yarmod and Ian sat in the control room of the Grann brother's freighter. Liane looked around with a smile on her face as she recognized the tiny details of the familiar space. Here she had sat daily sharing the meals with the brothers as they had been flying to their next destination. Yarnick, Conor and Brion had been as surprise as their other brothers as Liane and the two padawans had entered the freighter.
"What brings you to Mos Espa, Eilidh," Conor asked.
Startled Liane didn't know what to say as she heard the old name. Conor grinned. Liane thought of her real name: Shaayla-Car, the beautiful name Severini had chosen for her, when she had been born.
"I almost forgotten that I want by that name, Conor. I'm no longer using the ID-card you gave me, I don't have to, because I'm a citizen of the New Republic now. The Supreme Chancellor pardoned me and gave me an ID-card with my real name: Liane Solichor."
"So commodore Skywalker didn't brought you back to Wegoyy, when you left Endor?"
Liane shook her head.
"No, Luke and I went to Dalmaran, but not immediately. There's too much to tell you now. It would be a very long and incredible story. You would all doubt if I spoke the truth if I tell what has happened after Luke and I have left Endor very unexpectedly."
"We have time plenty, Liane. The check up and repair will take some time," Yarnick said, "Do you have to leave Tatooine tonight or tomorrow?"
"No, I bought a pair of boots, but the shop owner needs a few days to have them ready. The only thing we have to do, is find ourselves a place where we can stay for the time being. We've asked to stay in our space ship, the Astreaga, but our request was denied."
"We offer you our hospitality, Liane. It would be great to hear your story and why you are wearing a padawan's outfit. Are you commodore Skywalker's padawan?"
"Yarmod and Ian convinced me I should wear the padawan's clothes, because I've have assembled my own lightsaber. They think I'm entitled to call myself a padawan learner, but Luke hasn't accepted me as his padawan learner. Do you really want us to stay with you as long as I have to wait for my boots."
"Of course. We'll see to it that you will have a comfortable stay on board, do you want to stay in your old cabin?"
Enthusiastically Liane nodded.
"Shall we give you a hand to make arrangements."
"No," Kieran said and jumped to his feet, "you're our guest. I will take care of those cabins, Yarnick."
"I will help you," Conor said and followed his brother.
Liane, Yarmod and Ian stayed behind in the control room and chatted with the other four Granns. Yarmod and Ian asked where they had been recently and Yarnick and Brion gave a detailed report of their recent travels.
"Oh, Liane, I nearly forgot," Yarnick suddenly said, "I met Mintob a few weeks ago. He asked me what happened to you and if you had recovered. I had to give you his regards if I would meet you again."
"If you will seen him again, tell him I still cherish the little statue his daughter Muguro gave me. He has to tell Muguro I still don't own my own house, but that I have found some one to help me to build my own home. She will understand what I mean."
Yarmod and Ian looked puzzled, Liane smiled softly and took a little statue from the pocket on her belt and put it on the round table in front of her
"While I was allowed to stay with the Draga I helped Muguro polishing the small statues the males carved during the heat of the day. She said this one looked a bit like me. Because I felt helpless without my past, she insisted I should take it, because it might comfort me a bit. Are you still buying their statues, Yarnick."
"Most certainly. They are very popular and give us a good profit. This one is wonderful, Liane. We could make a good price for it. Don't you want to sell it." Yarnick said with a laugh, seeing the protesting look in Liane's eyes.
"Never!" She exclaimed, while she immediately grabbed the statue, "I will put in the house Luke and I will live in, as we have dealt with Darth Golluth."
Her cheeks colored, as Yarnick and Brion looked at her with wonder.
"Are you and commodore Skywalker going to marry, Liane," Yarnick asked.
"Luke wants me as his partner, his friend and his advisor, Yarnick, but first I need to complete my training as a Jedi Knight," She said gently, feeling her friend's uncertainty, "I understand, this isn't want you expected me to do, but many things have changed after we talked on Endor, Yarnick."
"You mentioned Darth Golluth. Who is he?" Brion asked.
"I know him under a different name: Trevor Matrik. He visited my foster father and me very frequently on Morantan. He is now calling himself Darth Golluth and wants to revive the empire, using the knowledge of the Dark Side my foster father taught me. Commander Dendicott and his second-in-command Rand Phylotar wanted to bring me to him on Palomintar Four. Luke has gone to Palomintar Four already and I want to go there to assist him. Yarmod and Ian will help me to get there."
"It might be dangerous for you, Liane. That guy is he a Sith lord?"
"That's still uncertain. I think he can't be, because the emperor refused to train him, and so did my foster father," Liane commented.
"Is commodore Skywalker there on his own?"
"No, his sister and her husband, Han Solo, are with him, as far as I know, and maybe his friend Wedge Antilles, the commander of Gold Squadron."
"Commodore Skywalker's sister? You mean, the senator? She is married to Han Solo? Liane, do you remember, we met him in Wuher's cantina years ago. He became mad at you, when you ask him if he knew where Leia Organa was, and now you're telling is that he married the princess of Alderaan."
"He did, and he is the happiest man in the galaxy and so is his wife Leia. I have never seen a happier couple."
"Incredible, Liane, and you have witnessed all these changes, you even have been part of it, I guess," Ronan said.
"I was and all that time Luke Skywalker was with me." She said.
Yarnick heard the gentle tone in her voice as she spoke the name of Luke Skywalker. He felt a strange twist in his stomach, for he still loved the young woman who was sitting in the control room of his ship as if she had never left it, with all his heart. She was very dear to him, although he fully understood the reason why she had rejected his proposal on Endor. He sighed and looked at her.
'Don't feel sad, Yarnick,' Liane said, using her Jedi telepathy to comfort him. She reached out to the Force and surround her old friend with her care and comfort. She felt how Ian and Yarmod watched her. Yarnick looked up and smiled.
She had changed, she had changed so much. She wasn't the girl he took on board. She was a Jedi Knight like her friend Luke Skywalker, at least almost. She was a follower of the Good Side of the Force.
"We're going with you, Liane, if you're going to Palomintar Four to help your commodore Skywalker. We're going with you and your friends Ian and Yarmod. You need more help, than the commodore's sister and her husband."
Astounded Liane, Yarmod and Ian, but also Ronan and Bran looked at the eldest Grann. Liane jumped to her feet and draped her arms around Yarnick neck.
"Are you sure you can afford that, Yarnick? Aren't you afraid you and your brothers might loose some customers? Don't you have to asked the others?" She asked gentle, intuitively knowing what he had been thinking about.
"They will agree," He answered hoarsely, "We need to give you a hand. You need help. Please, Liane, accept this time what I want to do for you."
"I accept, Yarnick. Your proposal makes me very happy."
Yarnick looked at his three other brothers. They nodded in agreement.
"That's settled then. As soon as our ship is ready we follow you to Palomintar Four and help you to defeat a new Sith Lord," Bran said and added, "Revival of the Empire wouldn't be an advantage for our business, so if we help you, we will profit anyhow."
They all started to laugh. Kieran and Conor joined and fully supported the others, when they heard what the eldest brother had decided.
Chati woke up, before Cornell came over. She was sitting on the edge of her sleeping place, as she became aware of the little slip of paper in her left hand. She smooth it, but in the cave it was too dark to read it. At that moment she felt that Cornell walked up to her and quickly she put it in the pocket at her belt.
"Wake up, Mayan Toallini," Cornell gruffly said, "We're leaving."
This time she neglected his use of her birth name and rose. She grabbed her equipment belt, put it on and followed the harvesters' leader.
Outside the cave Cornell gave her a package.
"Your ration for today," He grunted and walked away from her.
Chati caught up with him, looked at his face, and decided to be silent. Cornell didn't seem to be in the mood for a morning chat.
Without speaking the man and the girl followed the path uphill to the waterfall. Daylight was nearing and Chati enjoyed the different colors of the rocks. She reached out to the Force and noticed all tiny vibrations around her, as the little life forms welcomed the new day. She smiled and felt happy. It was so incredible what Ben had taught her these last weeks. More and more she became aware of the influence of the Force in her surroundings. The Force surrounds and penetrates everything, Ben had taught her, and Chati knew he had spoken the truth. She felt relaxed and experienced her participation in the Living Force.
Meanwhile they had reached to spot where normally a group of harvesters were digging the new canal which would redirect the water flow. Near the small lake a kind of high sheet piling of rocks prevented the lake to overflow in the new canal. The water still could run freely to the other side of the mountain ridge, where it felt down in the second waterfall. As soon as the new canal would be connected to the original underground bedding a sheet piling of rocks would dam the second waterfall and the lake would overflow in the new canal. However the new canal was only several meters long at the moment and too shallow to control the stream if the current dam would be opened. The canal had to be much deeper, before the rocks could be rearranged.
"Your task today will be to break these larger boulders, using our freezing method. I assume, you know by now, how it's done, don't you?" Cornell grunted, "The foils are in that box over there together with the power cell to activate the laser beam to start the freezing process. Take care, that before you start the freezing process the foils should be smoothly attached to the boulders, otherwise the rock won't crumble."
"I leave you to your chores, Mayan. I expect a good progress if I come back at sunset." Cornell said and started to walk back, leaving Chati on her own.
Chati watched him go, and sighed relieved. She looked around and enjoyed the great vistas at all sides. This was a wonderful spot. She could see the undulated plain below which lead to Ribana to the west. To the east she saw the wild lands which she had crossed with her fellow Quelans as they had left their home town. Far to the south she saw the hazy lines of the afforest hills that sealed off the wilderness bushes. As she turned north she looked down at the barren lava crusted land at the other side of the mountain ridge. It looked desolated, but as Chati reached out to the Force once again, she clearly felt that the seemingly barren land was full of life. She sat down and opened the package. It contained the normal ration of food every harvester took with him as they were working here. There was more than enough to satisfy her hunger. She took her time to eat and watch her surroundings. So high up the mountain ridge Myr was a peaceful place. She folded the package, put it aside under some bushes and walked over to the wooden box to get the foils. As she took out the foils, she suddenly remembered the slip of paper. She took it out of her pocket and unfolded it. Only a few words were written on it. Chati read the message and on her face appeared a relieved smile. This was definitely written by Ben.
"Feel the Force, as you remove the boulders," the message read.
"Thanks, Ben, for this help. It will make this work much easier," She whispered.
She left the foils near the box and walked back to look at the boulders which had to be removed, before the canal could be extended again. Suddenly she noticed that some one was coming uphill.
Quickly she ran back to the foils and started to lift it.
"Shall I give you a hand with it, Chati," a familiar voice said.
"No one is allowed to help me, Ronall. You've heard what your father said. I have accepted this penalty for my misconduct." She said. "You'd better get back to the others, otherwise you will get into trouble."
"But I want to help you, Chati. This is no ...," Ronall stopped and Chati saw how the olive green skin at his cheeks got a different color.
"Wrong reason, Ronall. Yes, I'm a female, but that doesn't mean I have to stick to our traditional way of living."
"You won't, for if Ben is right, you will become a Jedi Knight one day," Ronall said.
"That's a long way off, Ronall. Ben told me, I have to learn a lot before he will decided if I can become someone's padawan," Chati said.
"Do you really want to become a Jedi Knight, Chati?" The young harvester asked, "It might be a dangerous task."
"Ben said, that if I learn to listen to what the Force is telling me, I can avoid dangerous situations."
Ronall had sat himself on one of the boulders aside the planned route of the new canal."
"What is the Force, Chati? Can you tell me?" He asked.
"I have to repeat, what Ben has told me. He says, that the Force gives a Jedi Knight his power, if he learns to commit himself and obeys her demands. In the beginning those words didn't mean anything to me, but Ben has taught me to listen to everything that surrounds me, for the Force is everywhere. It surrounds all living things, but it also ties a Jedi to any object around him. The Force can help him to run faster, to jump higher, and to endure extreme challenges without exhausting himself."
"I have watched you doing strange exercises on the hills behind Cantamaga. You were running up and down the paths very fast, faster than any of us Quelan males can run. I've tried secretly to run as fast as you did, but I couldn't match your speed."
"Why did you watch me?" Chati asked curiously
Again Ronall's cheeks changed color. He turned his head and looked at the other side of the mountain ridge.
"It's a waste land on the other side," He said.
Chati took a seat next to the young harvester.
"I asked you something, Ronall," She said.
Ronall looked at her.
"You don't want to know, Chati. You will get angry again, and I don't want to upset you."
"Because I rebuked you yesterday, Ronall. Because I said you're not my husband, not even my boyfriend?"
Ronall looked up at her. He slowly nodded.
"I admire you, Chati, because you're so different from all the other females in our community. You do as you please and not even your mother can stop you. You discuss every word the elders are saying, and you take nothing for granted. You come up with new idea that improve our way of live, and even if the elders reject your proposals in the beginning, your point of view always turns out to be right. But I will loose your company and the way you do things, because you're going to be a Jedi Knight, because you're a Force-sensitive female."
Amazed Chati had listened to Ronall's confession.
"Ronall, I'm sorry, but I can't be your girlfriend. Not because I don't want to, but because I feel that I would make you unhappy. You deserve a good and friendly Quelan girl who will look up at you."
"Don't you like me, Chati?"
"That's not it, Ronall, but you said it yourself, I'm so different from all the other females in Cantamaga. I don't fit in in our community. Therefore it is good that master Skywalker has offered me to become a Force user, a padawan learner and if I'm worth it, a Jedi Knight. Now I have an opportunity to leave and get the life I want."
"But don't you think, that it's female secret wish to have a husband and raise her own family."
Chati started to laugh.
"It's like I hear my mother's words, Ronall. No, I don't want to marry, I don't want to be attached to some one and live a dull life as a mother. There's so much more for me to discover. Together with Ben, the general and his wife and the others I've seen Palomintar Four from above. It's a small world, Ronall. The part of Palomintar Four the Quelans are using is such a tiny spot, so tiny that the space ship that is observing this planet can do that from a very high altitude. The ship is enormous. The commander of the ship ordered one of his men to show me around. It was amazing. I want to travel with them and see many other different world, and meet many other different species."
"I envy you, Chati," Ronall said as he had listened to Chati's story, "Must be wonderful to see our planet from above. I have one question to ask you, before I go. Aren't you afraid that other species, or human won't take you serious, because you're a Quelan."
Chati shook her head.
"No, Ben said, that there are millions of different species in this galaxy. The Quelans still resemble their human descent. We have adapted to several different environments, that's how we developed the skill to change our skin color for instance. Ronall, look at the Wookiee friend of general Solo. He is one of those different species that populate other planets. Chewbacca has told me that his people live in tree house on a planet called Kashyyyk. He speaks Shyriiwook. In the beginning I didn't understand him, but as I use my Force skills I know what he is telling me. Did you know that he is more than two hundred years old. It's amazing."
"More than two hundred years?" Ronall exclaimed.
"Yes, and that's why I want to meet many other different species. Ronall, there's so much to learn about the galaxy we're part of. It's incomprehensible and overwhelming." Chati said elated.
"I leave you to your chores, Chati," Ronall said and rose, "Thank you for listening and talking to me."
Chati jumped to her feet.
"You're a fine fellow, Ronall, and you'll make a great harvester in the future, but I can't become your wife," She said.
"Your honesty should be a relief, but it isn't." He said.
"I know, but I'm sure you will find some one who will be much better for you than me. I hope we can remain good friends, Ronall. I've learned a lot from you about the way the harvesters work and live."
She stretched out her hand in gratitude. Ronall took it and held her hand for a while.
"You will always be welcome in my future home, Chati, for I will always admire your strength and will power. I wish you good luck with your Force training."
They both laughed and Ronall walked away. He waved as he started to descent the mountain ridge. Chati waved back, then she turned to the box with the foils. She put the foil back in the box, closed the lid. With a big grin on her face she went back to the rough route of the new canal. Four boulders were obstructing the continuation of the digging. These boulders first have to be moved or crumbled. Again Chati grinned. She took the slip of paper and read Ben's message again. Carefully she put the paper back in her pocket. Her eyes wandered over the four boulders to several different spot where she could put them down.
"Feel the Force," She whispered as she looked at the first boulder.
"The Force surrounds everything, me, animals, plants, trees and stones," She continued as she intensified her feelings. The boulder started to rise as the image of it filled her mind. Slowly it lifted and hovered above the ground. Chati felt that the Force guided her as she stretched out her hand and directed the boulder to the spot she had in mind. It floated slowly to it and came down. For a moment Chati released herself from the Force.
"Thank you for your help. I couldn't have done this without your power," She said, "It's a great feeling to work with you."
Then she turned to the next boulder and lifted it as easily as the first one. Without an real effort she removed the four boulders. As all four had been removed and put outside the planned route of the new canal she heard a soft cracking. She walked over to the spot where she had put the boulders, the rocks had crumbled into small pieces which could easily be cleared away. Amazed Chati looked at the four piles of crumbled rock.
"Fine with me," She commented, "That saves me a lock of work."
Then she returned to start crumbling the ground underneath the boulders. To her surprise the rocky underground had been splintered into tiny fragments which could be shoveled out without much effort. Chati took the wheelbarrow and started to fill it with the fragmented rock splinters. She didn't have to make an effort and as the barrow had been filled she wheeled it away and deposited the crumbled rock over the edge at the other end of the plateau. Steadily she worked on and after having wheeled some ten barrows away she took a break to get some food. While she was eating she looked at stretch she had cleared out. It was a much larger part than the harvesters were able to do, using their freezing method.
"Thanks, Ben, for you help," She mumbled with her mouth full of food, "You've probably been preprocessing this spot for me and put my mind in the right direction so I could use that unseen power I posses. It's given me a great feeling. I will tell you tonight, what I have achieved thanks to you and your use of your lightsaber."
She had finished her meal and wanted to start shoveling the next part of the new stretch, when Cornell with the group of harvesters appeared on the plateau.
"How are you doing?" He said gruffly, "We'd better assist ..."
His jaw dropped as he saw the dig out stretch about a meter and a half deep.
"You did this?" He asked, "Where are those four boulders that blocked this path."
"Over there," Chati said and pointed to the four piles of rubble, "I had yet enough time to deposit those over the edge, but I will do that this afternoon.
The harvesters looked at the girl in front of them.
"How did you do that?" One of them asked, "Your Jedi friend couldn't have helped you. He's gone back to Ribana we've heard, and his sister, the lady Jedi, and the general have given us a hand in the underground cave."
"Ben left me a message I understood, and could use," Chati said and handed the slip of paper to Cornell, "He also seems to have done some preprocessing underneath those boulders, for when I had put these boulders aside the underground was all crumbled rock which I only had to wheel away. Master Cornell, I told you that Ben is willing to make our work easier. We've only have to accept his help."
"But how did you manage to crumble those boulders so fast?" Cornell asked.
"I don't know. After I did what Ben suggested I should do, those boulders crumbled the moment they had been replaced. They won't bother us any more."
"OK, men, we'll have an easy task this afternoon, thanks to some unexpected help to this girl. Chati, do you mind if we help you," Cornell said and laughed suddenly
"Only if I still can do my share, master Cornell," Chati answered.
To be continued...