A/N: This part will be the obligatory slow one, but it is a necessary evil. More action in the next chapter I promise!
Part Two: Communication Skills
The arrival to the planet could not come soon enough for the two Jedi who were anxious to get back to work. Missions such as these tended to block any other troubling thoughts for a while as they needed more energy and focus. When they did finally land on the faraway planet, it was to the relief of all, Jedi and natives alike. The situation had not gotten any better since the summons and needed to be dealt with quickly. The entire planet was at the unsteady verge of revolution.
It was a beautiful planet when left in its natural condition. Unfortunately with technology and war destroying much of the forests and oceans, its beauty was hard to appreciate. A commonality on nearly every planet. The main city where the Jedi were headed was one such example of the natural world suffocated by the encroaching civilization.
Waiting by the landing bay were three local officials. Similar to humans in build and appearance, the natives of Son'Tula were slightly shorter and stockier, better adapted to the harsh conditions the environment dealt them. Their eyes tended to be slightly larger as well, though not to the point where a clever human couldn't fit in.
"Thank you for coming, honored Jedi," the female in the center greeted, bowing deeply to them. Her long, elegant robes swirled about her from the movement. This was a woman of great importance. Two black lines, like charcoal tears, connected her lower eyelashes to her mouth, symbols of her high social status. The men to her side had faces similarly painted.
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan bowed back respectfully. "Are you Minister Sev Kora Lam?" the Master asked, approaching the three.
The young woman nodded. "I am. These are my advisors, Sev Hamon Tor and Sev Tan Meer. We will escort you to the Capital building where we may speak freely on the matters that demand your expertise."
"We will do all in our power to aid you in ending this peacefully and swiftly. I am Qui-Gon Jinn and this is Obi-Wan Kenobi," he likewise introduced.
"Your son?" the Minister asked, curious about the stately young man who had so far remained silent, allowing his elder to speak for him.
"No," Qui-Gon corrected her politely, hiding a small smile. "He is my apprentice."
"And will he be… alright in this situation?" the boy seemed a bit young and this matter was not one for young novices. She could not risk the safety of her people on a mere teenage boy. The young often tended to be more trouble than they were worth.
"More than capable, I assure you," the Jedi Master promised, feeling her distrust. "You will find him to be invaluable in this issue."
Obi-Wan smiled softly at the unusual praise from his Master who was nearly impossible to please on the best of days. He had worked hard to earn such faith and to see it now was heartening.
"Very well," she replied, still skeptical, but allowing the handsome young man to remain. "Then would you both please follow me?" Lam turned with her advisors and headed to the center of the city where the Capital building was located. Now terribly far away, but far enough that it seemed illogical. Inwardly, Obi-Wan thought it rather foolish for the sole spaceport within a hundred miles to be so far away from the main building. For emergencies especially, it would save so many lives to have it close at hand.
As the group of five walked on, the Jedi began to notice some very strange things occurring around them. On the main road, there seemed to be a severe lack of healthy hustle and bustle of city life. Market stalls had few businesses open and even fewer customers. Those who did venture out in the open moved quickly, not stopping to talk or look at anyone else. One would think the revolution had already begun.
"The lower castes are frightened to even move beyond their homes," Sev Kora Lam explained. Her large mahogany eyes were sad with the affliction of her people. "The economy is suffering for it and the people by default."
Obi-Wan remembered from his readings the caste system of the Son'Tula that made up the foundation of their society. Every person had a place in society, or a Rashi, from the moment of birth. Their caste position was static, they were not able to change their status at all, not even through marriage. The levels of the Rashi started at Sev and moved down to Nu, Tal, Aki, Mai, Ran, and finally the lowest which was Io. Everyone had their Rashi designation stated at the beginning of the name, and then their family name, followed by the individual's given name.
Apparently, the rebellious religious group the Son'Tulan government was worried about rejected this system. They tore away the Rashi part of their names, claiming that all were equal under their god who was known on this planet to be the unified version all Rashi. While tempted to favor this radical group for this idea of freedom, Obi-Wan knew better. There was always more to the story than first appeared.
Unhampered by traffic, the group soon made it to the central building, a tall structure speaking of a long ago time filled with wealth and prosperity. In the center, rising about 20 feet higher, was a single spire not unlike the much larger Jedi high tower that held the council room. If this elegant building was any indication, the Rashi system must have worked rather well at one point.
Sev Kora Lam led them to her office at the top of the spire to ensure perfect privacy. Even the two advisors did not join the small meeting. The walls of the circular room were all glass so that she had a complete panoramic view of her city, a city once vibrant with life and activity. It was a sad sight now and Obi-Wan hoped he and his Master would be able to help. There was no better feeling that having completed your mission successfully and watching the people you helped returning to their lives unharmed. So often it did not end that way, but that did not dampen his hope for this planet and these people.
The Minister sat at her desk indicating that the Jedi sit as well across from her. "I will be frank," she said coming straight to business. "This cult must be taken down. They are ruining any hope of peace between the Rashi. Our lower class citizens are leaving the system by the droves hoping for a better life. The ones that don't desert are afraid to leave their homes. We are at the verge of total social breakdown."
"Why are they afraid?" Qui-Gon asked. "Is this group violent in any way?"
"Well no, not violent," she was forced to admit. "Not yet. But they are fanatical and very secret in what they do. I do not doubt that once enough followers are gathered, they will try to overthrow the government. This is why our Prince hasn't been crowned King yet. We are afraid he would become a greater target for assassination."
"Has this group agreed to meet for talks?" The Jedi Master continued to question as he formed an assessment of the situation. However, her clear lack of knowledge on this religious group wasn't helping much. Their unwillingness to let outsiders into their plans would leave them near blind going in.
"They fear a government plot." Lam shook her head. "But an unbiased mediator going back and forth I believe they are willing to talk to. Which is one of the reasons I asked for Jedi intervention. It is said Jedi are famous for their mediation skills. You must understand, Master Jedi, these people, these anti-Rashi radicals, are a threat to our very way of life. They must be dissolved one way or another as quickly and silently as possible."
The two Jedi said nothing to this, remaining silent to contemplate the situation. If Sev Kora Lam was any indication, the government of Son'Tula would be difficult to reason with. Stuck in old traditions, they feared any change that threatened their way of life. A possible fanatical cult would not be any easier either. And much more unpredictable if they did become violent or rebellious to the government. This situation could very easily turn into a double-edged sword with the pair of peace-keepers caught directly in between.
'Obi-Wan, do you have any suggestions for our course of action?' Qui-Gon asked in the boy's mind. He often found his student's perspectives to be sound and helpful during times of unclear paths. The younger Jedi usually saw things from a different angle not yet explored.
The Padawan was silent for a moment, considering the delicate matter. 'If what Sev Kora Lam says is true, I believe this 'cult' would be wary of even a mediator who is supposedly neutral. This mediator may be viewed as a government mole if they stay at government lodgings and arrive in government vehicles.'
'Which is what we would be doing,' Qui-Gon finished with a nod. 'And likewise if we stay with this 'cult,' the government seems likely to be wary of our becoming biased. Do you have a solution?'
'Yes, Master,' Obi-Wan responded. 'If we were to live separate from the government, perhaps in a local hotel, then we may be far away from both sides to be seen as unbiased.'
'I'm afraid that won't work, though you are on the right track. This planet has just entered the Republic and still only uses local currency. There would be no way for us to afford a place to stay even without the economy in the situation that it is. The government is to provide us lodgings as Republic representatives.'
'Then, that would not allow us to get the distance needed to speak to the religious group,' Obi-Wan admitted, sighing mentally. He looked back at the Minister who was staring at them oddly. She wasn't quite sure what the two Jedi were doing, just sitting there quietly. His blue-green eyes widened in inspiration as he gazed out on the city behind the stately woman. 'Master, there are two of us. I believe that one may be the government representative living here and the other would be the spokesman for the religious group and stay with them.'
Qui-Gon thought about this plan of action. It seemed rather sound and logical. If the two factions would not speak to the other, then they could use the Jedi who would communicate. However… 'There will be many risks involved. Split apart, a Jedi team is in greater danger and less protected. Also, becoming closer to the factions involved runs the risk of letting your emotions sway your judgment.'
Melidaa/Daan was not mentioned, but the Padawan understood a clear warning when he heard one.
'The question is, Padawan, do you feel ready to perform half of the negotiations alone and without guidance?' This was not a loaded question, and Obi-Wan knew that. There was no right answer; if he was not ready he should say so. They could not afford failure.
He considered it thoughtfully, the events of Melidaa/Daan preventing him from making a decision based on pride. When he answered, it was with a steady, honest voice. 'Yes, Master, I do.'
The Master stared into his student's blue-green eyes. His apprentice was still exhausted, that much was obvious. His ocean-colored eyes were dulled slightly with fatigue. Hopefully nothing a good night's rest in a real bed wouldn't solve. But his determination was stronger than any fatigue and now it was focused on his Master, silently pleading him for this chance. Qui-Gon nodded slowly in acquiescence. 'Very well then.'
"Minister," The Master said, facing the Son'Tulan. Her dark brown eyes had been focused on them with curiosity and a little caution, knowing they were somehow communicating with each other. She did not like being kept in the dark. Especially when it directly affected her and her people. Upon being addressed, she sat up straight in her chair.
"Yes?" she asked, hoping the little mystery about the pair's discussion would be cleared up.
"I think we may have a solution to getting the group to agree to mediation…"
End Part Two
A/N: Yeah, not the most exciting thing, but I think you can start to see where the problem is starting for our boys. I have no idea when part three will be up as college insists on kicking things up a notch now that mid-terms are over.
The answer to the last question was: stopping a demon king's resurrection. It's from my favorite anime 'Saiyuki.'
This one's is hopefully not so tough, but it requires some real bookworms: When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning, what was odd about his body?
Jedi Keliam Kenobi: Thank you so much! He won't be bad per say, he'll… oh, but that would be giving it away, and I can't do that! Lol, getting fruit? That would certainly make the monkey happy : )
Master Kaym: Hiya! You'll just have to wait and see, wontcha? ; )
Princess-Arulmozhi: Thank you!
Booklover Fanatic: Hi, I love your sn btw. Unfortunately, this chapter is still setting up the story, so it won't be a good way to judge its worth in my opinion. But I do honestly listen to all feedback, so any comments or suggestions or whatever are most welcome. How am I to grow if I don't, right: )