Blaster-fire rained like a thunderstorm upon Geldar Tharn as he attempted to dodge and escape from the droidekas that assailed him. After turning their deadly fire on Jedi Master Ivanna who now lay on the floor as if dead they now turned to team up on a new victim. Geldar saw the attack coming and tried desperately to avoid them, but it was too late. The droids’ firepower was too strong and fast. Geldar was hit time and time again as his body jerked backward from the devastating blows. The attack only lasted but a few moments, and in that short period of time Geldar was thrown backwards to the floor as his mind spun into darkness.
The darkness was thick around him, and time ceased to exist. Was he alive or swimming in some sea of oblivion? He couldn’t tell. There was pain all about, and eternity was filled with misery. This couldn’t be death. This was not the sweet paradise his master had promised. Being a Jedi of the Light he should become one with the Force and experience eternal peace and happiness in a new existence of life everlasting. No, this wasn’t death. This was terrible. This was suffering.
And then, it slowly came to an end as a soothing voice called his name. “Geldar…” Was that his mother? “Geldar…” the voice returned. He slowly opened his eyes and found he was staring up at the ceiling. He was recovering from the wounds he suffered, but from what he could tell he was still extremely injured. He could feel a terrible tightness in his chest coming from several sources. He must have been hit many times.
“Geldar…” the voice called again and he raised his head ever so slightly to look around the room. To his amazement his mother did stand before him, and the entire battle between his friends and the droidekas continued all about as if someone had slowed time to nearly a standstill. She was as he remembered, tall and beautiful and strong. Instantly there was a new pain in his chest, but this time it came from his heart. The sorrow that threatened to cause his heart to burst sapped his strength and his head dropped again.
“Geldar,” his mother said again. “You are not alone. The Force is with you. I am with you…” And she trailed off as if her voice were coming from some distance.
Geldar slipped back into darkness, but it didn’t last long. Another image suddenly appeared before him. He was standing in the Senate Chambers on Coruscant. The platform he stood on was that of his father’s, and his father stood there with him now. Geldar immediately turned and threw his arms around his father, but instead of touching him he past right through as if he was a ghost. His father seemed to shutter, and he glanced around in bewilderment.
“What is it Senator?” asked one of his aides.
“I’m not sure,” his father said. His face was lined and aged far more than Geldar remembered, and he seemed very hard and cold. He was nothing like how Geldar had left him, in fact. The man seemed so much angrier and filled with grief. “I thought I felt something.” Then he seemed to brighten for a moment. “I think Geldar is indeed still alive. Somehow I think I can feel him here with us.”
“How can you be certain of that?” asked the aide, a tall and lanky woman who was rather unattractive and snooty. “All reports say he was lost to pirates on his way back from Darga Prime and stranded on some unknown, remote planet.”
“I know,” his father replied. “Still, I felt his presence. I can’t explain it, but I felt him here with me just now.”
“Perhaps it is simply the nature of what you are about to do,” suggested the woman. Geldar thought her name was Milia. “After all your son is a part of it all.”
His father nodded, but before he could reply one of the bureaucrats seated beside the Supreme Chancellor announced that it was time to get the session underway. Geldar moved to touch his father’s shoulder in hopes of making some connection again, but the vision shifted. He was no longer standing next to his father but directly behind the Supreme Chancellor.
“We will first address the issue of the Trade Federation’s attack on Naboo,” the vice chairman, Mas Amedda announced, and there were several moans about the chamber. “This issue is still not resolved, and it is uncertain what the Senate desires to do about their assault and occupation of Naboo.”
“I Beg the Chair's pardon, but may I first address the Supreme Chancellor?” Geldar heard his father call out. “I wish to speak on a far more serious matter.”
“You are speaking out of turn, Senator,” Amedda replied. He was a blue-skinned alien with horns. Mas Amedda had once sat next to Supreme Chancellor Valorum and several others before him. He was a well-known and rather powerful figure who's booming voice often called for order when the partisan nature of the Republic's government degenerated into pointless bickering.
“Begging your pardon, Supreme Chancellor,” Toban Tharn said as his platform hovered out to level itself with Palpatine. “The matter I wish to speak of is of much more importance than the situation with Naboo.”
“I beg to differ, Senator,” came a female voice from elsewhere in the hall. Suddenly, Queen Amidala’s platform hovered out of its place to level with Palpatine as well. “Naboo has suffered greatly from the hands of the Trade Federation and we require justice soon. How long will the Republic Senate put this matter off?”
“I understand, Your Majesty,” said Toban, cutting her off before she could continue on the tirade he knew she wished to unleash. “However, Naboo’s trials are not dire at the moment. My situation is. My son has been accused of crimes that I am certain he did not commit, and he and his companions have been supposedly attacked by pirates. However, I have evidence that proves that this situation is nothing but a conspiracy set up by someone within this governing body. We must discuss this issue at once for the sake of the entire Republic. If this body cannot be trusted then how can we deal with any other issue?”
“Senator Tharn’s concerns may be valid,” Supreme Chancellor Palpatine answered for himself. “Let us hear what he has to say and the evidence he presents.” Amidala withdrew, though she shot Toban a sharp glance.
“My son and his companions were once the Supreme Chancellor’s Special Task Force,” Senator Tharn began. “They helped take down the Flail organization here on Coruscant, an organization set to assassinate Valorum and bring down the Republic itself. Then they proceeded to aid Queen Amidala on Naboo, helping her to free her people from the Trade Federation. Queen Amidala can even vouch that these individuals also managed to stop a Dark Jedi named Savor Kibbs, and you were even said to have met them yourself, Supreme Chancellor. Is this not true?”
“It is,” admitted Palpatine, and Queen Amidala nodded in acknowledgment, realizing that she did owe much to the son of Toban Tharn and his companions.
“Get to the point, Senator,” the vice chair said with annoyance.
“Therefore, I have established the credibility of their character,” Senator Tharn continued. “These same heroes would have no reason to kill Governor Creed on Darga Prime, nor would they commit any of the crimes they have been accused of. There must be another reason why they have been accused of these crimes. Because I reasoned this, and because I was already investigating the death of my wife, I set out to investigate the matter more closely. What I found both appalled and infuriated me.”
“First, let me point out that Senator Prin Ay’laya’s aide, Vlagari, was the only known survivor of the pirate raid on my son, Geldar’s, ship.” He gestured to the platform that Prin Ay’laya sat on, and Geldar noticed, to his immediate displeasure, that Wraith stood behind the senator from Kothlis, veiled in his dark hood and robes.
“Objection!” cried Ay’laya as he stood and his fir bristled. “The Senator has no proof that Vlagari has done anything…”
“I have evidence indeed!” cried Geldar’s father with a fierceness that stunned everyone. “Upon investigating the situation I have reason to believe that not only did Vlagari hire the mercenaries, known as Daragald’s Blight, to kill my son and his companions but he and the Senator Ay’laya are also involved in a conspiracy against the Republic!”
Roars of outrage filled the chamber. “Besides this,” Senator Tharn continued with severe hostility, “I believe the Senator and his aide are also responsible for the Flail organization and the renegade Savor Kibbs. I have evidence that supports that they are also responsible for the Wookiee/ Trandoshan Conflict on Kashyyyk, and that it was Vlagari, not my son or his companions, that was responsible for the deaths of Master Jin Tai Lo and Governor Creed!”
“Outrageous!” cried Ay’laya, and Geldar felt a range of emotions flood his senses. He was excited and relieved that his father had done something to fight for him and his companions. However, he felt confused by the fact that his father had found evidence against Senator Ay’laya. He thought that someone had wanted Brin’tac out of his position so that Vlagari could get close enough to manipulate Ay’laya, who had been a strong supporter of Valorum. So what was this all about? Was Ay’laya really guilty?
“I also have proof that it was Ay’laya and his aide that sought to remove Brin’tac from his position as aide to the Senator because he was getting too close to discovering the truth about these conspiracies. Senator Ay’laya, I believe based on the facts, is working to sabotage this governing body, and just like the Trade Federation he is working with a Dark Jedi Sith Lord!”
“Order!” cried the bureaucrat. “Order!” The entire place was in an uproar. Again and again the bureaucrat called for order until at last the shouts and screams died. “Let us see this evidence against the Senator from Kothlis and his aide.”
Then Geldar’s father began to show video footage of Vlagari speaking with Trandoshans on some outpost on Kashyyyk. Geldar recognized it at once as the same place that Tarrsk had been. He also showed security holos of Vlagari dressed as a Dark Jedi fighting Master Lo on the catwalk above the carbonite vats on Darga Prime. Time and again he showed security footage of Vlagari kidnapping Brin’tac’s family, and of the multitude of other crimes he committed. Then, lastly, he showed footage of Vlagari speaking with Senator Ay’laya about heading to Kashyyyk on business for his Dark Lord. “These images came to me from a very reliable source within the Bothan Spy Network itself. I will give all of this evidence to the Supreme Chancellor and those he assigns to deal with this matter so that he can inspect the evidence himself and verify its authenticity,” concluded Senator Tharn, and Geldar stood stunned at everything he saw.
“Then let it be that until this matter is resolved Senator Ay’laya and his aide, Vlagari, are confined to their quarters here on Coruscant,” Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declared with enthusiasm. It seemed as though Palpatine was excited that a conspiracy was being brought to justice.
“I also request,” Senator Tharn added as a final thought, “that the Senate create a branch of Republic Intelligence dedicated to investigate other conspiracies within the Republic. I have other evidences that implicate other individuals within this body that may be responsible for crimes as well. Though this evidence is much less clear, I believe it is enough to warrant such an investigation.” Then he began to shout out the names of other senators, aides, and high-ranking officials that he had some evidence against. All of the individuals seemed to be respectable, upstanding people, and a thought suddenly struck Geldar like a hammer.
It all made sense. Someone was using the situation to further delay actions within the Republic. Someone was working within the Senate itself to destroy its credibility, and they were using his father to do it. This evidence was handed to Toban on purpose. They wanted to bring out scandals that would further deteriorate the Republic’s standing with the galaxy at large. “Wait!” Geldar cried, but his voice went unheard. “This doesn’t make sense. Can’t you see it? No, of course not. You’re blinded by grief, Father! It is a setup. How could you have come across such incriminating footage? Don’t you think a Dark Jedi would have hidden such things? He would have accounted for cameras and such. Father!” But it was no use. The entire Senate Chamber was in an uproar as everyone discussed the matter amongst themselves. Geldar watched helplessly as Ay’laya and Wraith were escorted from the chambers by Republic guards.
In frustration Geldar thought to touch the Supreme Chancellor. Perhaps he could somehow convey his thoughts to Palpatine. He had met the Chancellor before. Maybe he could have a connection just as he had with his father. It was a long shot but maybe he could succeed. He reached out his hand and touched it to the Chancellor’s shoulder.
A flash of darkness blinded him and he stumbled backward. Suddenly, he was lying on the floor again and staring up at Tarrsk.