Phantoms & Skeletons

The flash speeder left the canyon and entered the forest area that covered the entrance to the secret storage bunker that was the home of the resistance movement. As it flew into the base and came to a halt, Geldar saw several of his other friends waiting for them to arrive along with Kyu Tane, Lialla’s father.

“Welcome back,” Kyu said as Geldar and Satchal stepped off the speeder.

“Thank goodness you’re safe. Deel contacted us on his comlink and told us you were being followed.”

“Yes, Sir,” said Geldar as he glanced back with a sigh at Deel. Deel only smiled again with that side-long grin of his. “It’s a good thing he did too. We wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for him.”

Satchal muttered something under his breath, but no one seemed to hear him. “What did you learn about the prison camp to the south?” asked Kyu to bring the subject back to their mission.

“Well...” began Geldar as he walked off with Minister Tane and the others. As they went, Geldar explained what they’d found out about the prison camp’s defenses, and because of his excitement about the camp’s weaknesses he didn’t even notice that Satchal had remained behind.

Satchal watched them leave and then turned to head off toward the entrance of the base. He wanted to get out and be alone. He couldn’t take being around anyone right now. He just wanted to get away.

The mountain forest was quiet, and that was just how Satchal wanted it. As he climbed a tree and stared out over the tree canopy and out at the city of Theed in the distance, Satchal wondered what was happening inside himself. He had always been so strong to the Dark Side of the Force even when he was living amongst those that practiced its dark powers regularly. Now, however, it was as if the Dark Side had found a gap in his defenses. It was corrupting him. He could feel it taking over. He was constantly losing his temper, and he was constantly feeling the rage building up within him.

Bowing his head, Satchal closed his eyes and a tear ran down his cheek. “If only Master Lo were here,” he hissed through clenched teeth. “He’d know what to do.”

And then a voice startled him, and he spun around to see who it was. “Hello there,” called Lialla as she stepped into the shadow of the tree he was in. “Are you okay?”

Satchal sighed deeply in disappointment as he turned back to look at the city in the distance. He was hoping somehow that it was Master Lo. He’d always heard how Jedi can be seen again after death to speak to their Padawan and instruct them, and he wondered why Master Lo hadn’t yet. He desperately needed his master’s advice, and wished he could see him again. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he told Lialla though he knew it wasn’t true.

Lialla’s right eyebrow lifted to give him a skeptical look. “Sure. I get it. You’re just like every other man; too tough to talk.”

“What?” he asked defensively.

“Come on,” she said. “Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean. You’re obviously too big and tough to be able to share your feelings with anyone. I’m sure you feel like you don’t need anyone in the world. You can just deal with your pain alone.”

Satchal dropped down out of the tree to face her, and she gave him a look as if to say, “Go ahead. Try to combat what I just said.”

Satchal stared her in the eye. “Think what you want,” he said and walked passed her.

“Okay,” she replied. “I will.”

Satchal paused then turned back to face her again, and the look she gave him this time was one of determination. She obviously wasn’t going to budge. “You’re stubborn,” he told her.

“And you’re not?” she replied.

“No,” he told her. “You just don’t have any idea what I’m going through.”

“Oh? Try me.”

Satchal let out another sigh. “Just leave me alone,” he said and turned to walk away.

“Why won’t you let anyone inside?” she asked as she followed him. “Look, I don’t know you very well, but that’s what makes it perfect. You can tell me, and it won’t make a difference what I think of you. You can turn and walk out of my life and things will be fine. You won’t be hurt as deeply as if I were a close friend. I can’t judge you. I don’t even know you. Not only that, but if you do share this with me then we’d be closer friends wouldn’t we? I’d like to be closer to you if you’d let me.”

Satchal stopped again. Was she making a pass at him? Was she trying to tell him that she liked him? He turned back around yet again to look into her eyes, and he saw that she was simply staring at him with concern. Could there be something more there? he wondered. Does she like me?

Why am I even asking myself that question? What do I care if she likes me? It doesn’t make any difference to me if I never saw her again. Still. She does have a point. It might be best to tell someone I barely even know. That way, if she doesn’t like what she hears it won’t make any difference. However, if Brin’tac or Geldar hear it...that’s a different story.

What if Geldar put her up to this, though? He just might do that. He’s obviously thinking I’m losing it. If she went back and told him what’s going on he might take the matter to the Council when this whole Trade Federation/ Naboo war is over. I don’t know if I should risk it.

“Well,” she said as she waited with her hands on her hip. “Are you going to say something or just stare at me like that?”

“How was I staring?” he wondered, hoping to change the subject.

“Like your spirit is a randist being torn apart by a couple of rancors that are fighting over it,” she told him.

His eyes narrowed. “Did anyone put you up to this?” he asked, deciding to take the direct approach.

The look of hurt on her face seemed genuine enough. “I’d never be a spy for someone unless it was for the war.”

Satchal sighed again. “Fine, but let’s go some place safe. I don’t want anyone else to know what I’m going to tell you.”

“Fine,” said Lialla. “And I swear I won’t tell a soul. Come on. I know just the place.” She then turned and took off west through the woods. Satchal, shaking his head in disbelief, followed her a bit more slowly with his head down.

With his attention on Lialla, Satchal didn’t realize that, up in the trees, Tarrsk was watching and listening to everything. He had been perfectly still, and because his skin somewhat blended in with his surroundings, Tarrsk was virtually invisible. He smiled at his success in hiding from both Satchal and Lialla. Then, as he watched them go, he dropped down from the tree and followed slowly behind. He wanted to make sure that he kept an eye on the young Jedi to make sure he didn’t betray them. Something was obviously wrong with Satchal, and Tarrsk wanted to know what it was before it was too late to do anything about it.


The End

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