“Three days have past since the virus was planted into the computer core of the city, but so far we’ve heard nothing from our scouts telling us whether or not our mission was a success,” Avatar informed the collection of refugees as he stood on a makeshift platform comprising of crates and boxes. He was a middle-aged man with dark hair and a trimmed beard with a scar on his right cheek just below his eye. He was dressed in his usual baggy gray pants, white, short-sleeved shirt, and gray protective vest. Strapped to his right hip was a modified heavy blast pistol, and he carried a bandoleer with grenades and thermal detonators all around. On his head he wore a military officer’s hat, which seemed to give him an air of authority in spite of the fact that he was nothing, according to the common gossip around the hideout, but an outlaw and a smuggler.
Just how he came to be the leader of the ragtag resistance no one seemed to know, but it was said that during the early moments of the Droid Uprising Avatar appeared from nowhere and rescued scores of individuals by leading them underground. No one knew much about him, and no one really cared. All they knew was that he was a good man, and he seemed to be pretty adept at leadership so they didn’t much care what his past was.
“However,” continued the leader, “our scouts have reported picking up on a signal from somewhere within the Military District’s lower levels. It is believed that it could either be a trap to flush us out or there could be some survivors like us down there. What I need is a team to investigate this signal to determine just who, if anybody, is down there. This mission will be dangerous, to say the least, but we need to know more about the situation with the droids and whether we have any allies in this fight or not. Do I have any volunteers?”
Avatar scanned the room only to be disappointed. It seemed that no one was really up to the task or courageous enough to try. Everyone avoided his gaze as they looked at one another, at their feet, or anything else but the leader.
Satchal Paige watched the scene from his location near the back where his friends and master were sitting. He was glad that none of them wanted to attempt such a crazy mission. As far as he was concerned it was pointless to try to go all the way to the Military District, the heart of the enemy’s most powerful forces, just to check out a signal that was most likely a trap. As he made eye-contact with Geldar and Brin’tac he saw that they were both somewhat uneasy about the leader’s request, and after they’d just been in the heart of the city’s computer core they seemed to be unwilling to go on another mission so quickly. Geldar had almost lost his life, after all, and Ivanna, Satchal’s master, had almost lost hers as well. Lialla had also taken some series hits, and she was still nursing some of her injuries even as she sat there.
Avatar sighed heavily and looked down at his feet. “I see,” he said. “Well, then I guess we’ll just have to….”
But someone cut him off before he could finish, and Satchal’s heart leapt into his throat. “I will go,” stated Ivanna plainly, and she stood before any of the others could utter a word.
Avatar’s eyes fixed on the Jedi, and a look of concern crossed his usually stoic demeanor. “Alone?” he said. “You were just seriously wounded. Are you sure you want to do this?”
Ivanna’s face was set and determined. “You said you wanted volunteers,” she replied. “Do you want me to go or not?”
Satchal closed his eyes to fight back the anger that was building within him. Why doesn’t she ever ask for my opinion on things or anyone else’s for that matter? I know she’s a master Jedi, but Master Lo always respected the advice and opinions of others, and he weighed every decision very carefully even when he needed to make a decision quickly. She’s rash and I’m always getting the feeling that she thinks she’s superior to everyone else. Am I really supposed to train under her? I feel like she’s the impulsive Padawan and I’m always trying to keep her from getting killed! Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?
Brin’tac stood to his feet quickly after exchanging glances with Geldar to make sure they were in agreement. “With all due respect, Avatar,” he replied, “my team and I have just been through a lot. I don’t think the rest of us are really ready for another mission just yet. If Master Ivanna wishes to go through with this I don’t think I can commit our entire team to aid her.”
Ivanna shot him a look as if to say that she had expected as much. “I know the limitations of this group,” said Ivanna confidently. “I was not expecting anyone else to accompany me. In fact, I would prefer it if you didn’t. As Avatar stated it will be very dangerous. If I succeed then we will learn everything we need to know. If I fail then you are only one person short.”
That did it. Satchal was on his feet now confronting his master eye to eye. Since she was just a bit shorter than he was he seemed to have an edge over her. “Wait just a second!” he snapped. “No offense, Master – and I acknowledge that you are my master – but I can’t just sit back while you talk about going off alone to get yourself killed. I know you are my master and I’m supposed to trust that you know what you’re doing, but I can’t. I’m not some stupid, naive Padawan anymore who just does whatever his master instructs him to do. Have you even considered just how valuable you are to this resistance? Have you even thought about how your powers can benefit our group as a whole? We need you here, and I don’t think it’s wise that you should just run off alone to search for some stupid signal in the Military District of all places! You’re not invincible, Ivanna, and although I’ve only known you for a little bit I care about you too much to sit by and let you do this.”
Ivanna only met his gaze with eyes that burned like a raging inferno, and all eyes in the room watched as they wondered just what was going to happen next. Not a person spoke or moved, and it seemed that after the words left Satchal’s mouth the entire room had been frozen in time.
When Ivanna finally spoke her words were barely controlled. “Mind your place, Padawan,” she said, and each word was emphasized sharply. Then she spoke up for all to hear. “I know what this resistance needs, and it is allies and information. I can sense other life in this city, and I know we are not alone. I believe that this quest will be fruitful, and we will find others to aid us. This situation is coming to its end, and we must take risks to achieve our goals. Every mission could be our last, and my life is no better than anyone else’s. I am a Jedi Master, and my abilities give me the best chance of success in infiltrating the Military District and returning alive. Anyone else coming with me may only hinder my progress. Therefore, Avatar, if you don’t mind I will be going on this mission alone without the aid of my apprentice and his companions.”
The words stung like a training saber set on high power. Satchal’s eyes narrowed. “Fine,” he said through clenched teeth. “Then go alone, but just remember this, Master.” He said the last with great sarcasm. “The last mission we nearly had to scrape you off of the floor. This time we won’t be there to do so. If I lose another master I won’t take another. I’ll finish my training on my own!” Then he turned and stormed out of the room leaving everyone stunned and unable to speak. Even Ivanna seemed to be shaken, and she clutched the back of the seat in front of her to support her.
Everyone watched to see what the Jedi Master would do next, and Ivanna took in a deep breath to regain her composure. She turned back to face Avatar and addressed everyone present. “I will go on this mission, and I will go alone,” she restated. “Now if you’ll excuse me I have other matters to attend to.” Then she turned and stormed out of the room herself following Satchal.
“Well,” said Avatar as she went. “I guess this means this meeting is adjourned.” Then he stepped down from his makeshift platform and strode off to find one of the scouts that had the transceiver that had picked up the signal.