Piecing Together the Phantom Puzzle

After the mercenaries had exited Brin’tac and the others remained behind to discuss their situation alone. Brin’tac was the first to begin speaking. “Our situation looks grim, my friends, but I do have confidence that this Gariss person is doing what is best for us. I think we should continued to follow his leadership until we’ve escaped this planet. Now, however, I’d like to discuss with you all the events that have brought us here. I believe that if we work together we might be able to solve this mystery.”

Geldar nodded. “Agreed.”

“Now,” said Brin’tac, “we know that this Vlagari was Wraith, the same individual that kidnapped my family and murdered Master Jin Tai Lo. We also know that he was the Dark Jedi involved in the Wookiee-Trandoshan Conflict. Vlagari is also the assistant to the aide that replaced the aide that replaced me, who had mysteriously died.”

“So it’s safe to say that Vlagari was responsible for the death of the aide that had replaced you,” stated Satchal flatly.

“Fairly safe,” Brin’tac replied. “However, that aide didn’t die except by natural causes.”

“Or so it seemed,” Satchal replied. “He gave us an illusion back on Darga Prime, and the Dark Side is very deceptive. It wouldn’t be hard for him to give anyone a heart attack.”

“Do you think he’s the one who killed Savor Kibbs then, back on Naboo?” wondered Lialla.

“Most likely,” Geldar answered. “Kibbs’ death was too strange and coincidental. Chances are Vlagari was there.”

“Same thing with Pent on Coruscant,” said Tso. “Remember, he died the same way right when we were interrogating him.”

“So what does all this mean?” Tarrsk wanted to know.

“It means that the Sith have some ties to politics,” Brin’tac said confidently. “They wanted to get me and my successor out of the way for some reason.”

“And Master Lo,” added Nyarchagga.

“Not likely Master Lo,” Brin’tac corrected. “He got in the way, according to what the evidence shows. I also think Kylarra Tharn got in the way as well which led to her demise. There was some other interest that the Sith had in both the Wookiee-Trandoshan Conflict and in taking my place as the Senator’s aide.”

“Let’s not forget that there was some sort of interest in the Flail organization too,” said Tso.

“And what was their purpose again?” Lialla inquired.

“They were attempting to kill Supreme Chancellor Vallorum,” Geldar told her.

“They were also working for Sidious, according to Kibbs,” Nyarchagga said. “That was the Dark Lord of the Sith that he said was the master and genius behind everything.”

“Then the answer is clear,” Kradlo, Tianti’s assistant interrupted as the idea struck him like a bolt of lightning. He moved forward to stand in the center of them all as he held his balding head as if he had just built the first hyperdrive. “Senator Ay’laya was a strong supporter of Chancellor Vallorum. However, after you left your position and we were hired on Ay’laya began to see how the Chancellor was failing in his position and pulled out his support. We’ve even begun to see a change come over the Senator of late, as if a dark cloud were passing over his eyes. This Sidious must have wanted the Supreme Chancellor out of office.”

“But why?” wondered Tso. “It’s not like Sidious has replaced him. Palpatine has.”

Kradlo gave him a look that was the Anomid’s best attempt at a raised eyebrow. “Palpatine is a puppet. Everyone knows that the Senate elected him into power because they wanted a pushover in office. Greedy lawmakers only want someone they can control, and Palpatine’s that person. He’s a pawn in Sidious’ plans, can’t you see that?”

Brin’tac shook his head as everything came into focus. “Vlagari needed to get into a position where he could use his Dark Side powers to influence Ay’laya so that he could strip the Supreme Chancellor of his strongest support.”

“But what does that have to do with the Trandoshan-Wookiee Conflict?” Tarrsk inquired.

Brin’tac turned toward his friend, his eyes alight with enlightenment though his face dark and foreboding. “The delegates from Kashyyyk were also some of the strongest supporters of Vallorum. With the Conflict going on between the Wookiees and the Trandoshans those delegates would not have time to concern themselves with the affairs of Vallorum. They would have their own problems to deal with.”

“Then Naboo was just a stage to set up Vallorum’s fall as well,” Lialla interjected as everything became clearer for her as well. “That’s why the Sith Lord Maul was there. He wanted to help set the stage to prove that Vallorum couldn’t handle the conflict and new leadership was needed.”

“Precisely,” said Brin’tac. “This Sidious is indeed a genius.”

“Okay,” said Satchal as he tried desperately to keep an open mind through all this. “I understand where you’re coming from in all this, but where does Master Lo’s death come in, and why did I have those dreams about Bher Nagg Rouge?”

“Wraith needed someone to pin the crime on, and since Master Lo had freed Tso you were the next best target,” Geldar responded.

Brin’tac added, “Your master must have learned something from the Bothan spy he had contacted, and had gone to discover the truth. Wraith and his cronies killed him to keep him from discovering more.”

“What about Creed?” Tso asked.

“Creed was talking too much,” said Geldar. “That much was told to us by the pirate we captured near Darga Prime. Wraith went there to kill Creed and Master Lo got in the way.”

“Are we sure that was the real villain who killed my master?” Satchal wondered. “He seemed to flee at the first sign of combat with us. Someone who killed Master Lo should have been more than a match for all of us, don’t you think?”

“Perhaps,” said Geldar, deep in thought.

“But Wraith didn’t kill Master Lo alone,” Brin’tac reminded them. “He had those pirates aiding him.”

And with that said a deep silence hovered over the lounge. At last, Nyarchagga broke the silence by asking, “Can someone put this in Dug, please? I still don’t understand how you’ve worked this all out.”

Brin’tac turned to him with a warm smile. “Master Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, arranged to remove Supreme Chancellor Vallorum from power. He used the Flail organization on Coruscant to set up a frame job against the Chancellor. In order to successfully do this he had to remove Vallorum’s strongest supporters so he had a conflict created between the Wookiees and the Trandoshans to remove all Wookiee support of Vallorum. He then arranged to have my family kidnapped so he could move his servant Wraith into close enough proximity to Ay’laya to remove him from supporting Vallorum. He knew I’d chase after my family and leave my position to find them. He then had Savor Kibbs, the former leader of the Flail, frame Vallorum to destroy his reputation. Kibbs then left the organization and killed all of their leaders in an ‘accident.’ He left Pent in charge of it to further cause Vallorum trouble, which is how we got involved in the situation.”

“Shortly after all of this, Sidious manipulated the Trade Federation to attack Naboo so that he could use the conflict to prove Vallorum was incompetent as a leader. He succeeded and managed to get him kicked out of his seat replacing him with someone more easily controlled and manipulated.”

“Senator Palpatine,” added Kradlo.

“To keep everyone quiet, Wraith assassinated Pent and Kibbs with the Force,” Geldar put in.

“Creed knew a lot of this,” Brin’tac continued, “and Wraith was going to kill him as well, but Master Lo learned of his presence on Darga Prime and intercepted him.”

“Which is why he died,” Satchal said almost despondently.

“And my mother died while interfering with the Trandoshan-Wookiee Conflict because she had gotten in the way,” Geldar said with almost the same emotion.

“And my crew was killed to frame me for Creed’s murder which never happened,” Tso added.

“And Satchal’s dreams were given to him to make it seem that he was the one who’d done it all,” Brin’tac concluded with a final, dramatic sweep with his hand around the room.

“And now we’re all here because he’s stranded us here to die,” Lialla decided to add after everyone had fallen silent once more. “We know too much.”

“Which was why they set us up,” Tarrsk growled.

“An almost perfect conspiracy,” Brin’tac said, unable to hide his admiration for the crime in spite of his disgust for the person who’d thought it up.

“Almost,” said Nyarchagga. “Except that we’re still alive and we’re going to get off this natural freezer unit to pay back this Darth Sidious and his clan of would-be Jedi.”

Satchal couldn’t help but smile at the Dug. They were inspiring words, which were unusual coming from Nyarchagga, and they lifted his mood a bit. “Right. They obviously underestimated us or we wouldn’t still be here. Gariss and his mercenaries were hired to kill us. I think we managed to mess up Wraith’s plans, and he stranded us here instead. We gave him something to worry about.”

“Indeed,” said Brin’tac. “I agree. He seemed to have fled prematurely.”

“The only thing that I don’t understand is why Master Orruwarr left me to this task alone,” Geldar said after losing himself in thought for a time. “I still have no idea where he’s gone or why.”

“That will be a mystery to solve for another day,” Brin’tac replied as he put his hand on Geldar’s shoulder. “I’m sure Orruwarr knew what he was doing.”

“In the meantime we need to work together to get this ship flying again,” Tso said, feeling a sense of exhilaration after they had figured out so much. Now things looked better. Now they had a purpose and a reason to get off Hoth. They had to return to the known galaxy and tell everyone about Sidious and his plans. “Don’t worry, my friends. I will get us out of here.”

“That I have no doubt,” said Brin’tac with a smile. “We will return to the known galaxy, and together we will find my family and bring Sidious and his minions to justice!”

The End

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