Nyarchagga sat with a scowl on his face as he waited with the others near the entrance of the hideout. Although he had agreed to the plan he still didn’t like it one bit. He had sent Gnat on plenty of covert missions before, but this was different. Ivanna was going into the heart of a city ruled by droids, and she was likely not going to come back. If she got caught and killed there was a good chance that Gnat would not escape the encounter and come back in one piece. In fact, there was a good chance that Gnat might be converted instead to helping the enemy track them down, and that idea was what he hated the most. Gnat was like a treasured pet to him, and the thought that Gnat might be turned against him sickened the Dug.
But there was nothing he could really do about it. He did agree with the others that Ivanna was suspicious, and he also agreed that Gnat was the best member of their team for the job of tracking her and seeing what she was really like. And so, Nyarchagga held Gnat in his palm and finished wiping his memory of the bases location, then he shut the droid down and set it to power back up after about forty-five minutes.
Just as he finished Satchal and Ivanna entered the room and paused when they saw that everyone was waiting for them. “What’s going on?” asked Satchal curiously.
“We were waiting for you two,” said Geldar casually. “We were all concerned, and we thought it best to wait by the entrance to the hideout to make sure neither of you left without us having the chance to talk to you.”
“We also wanted to wish Ivanna good luck on her mission,” Lialla added, though many observed the hint of sarcasm in her voice.
“What do you want to discuss?” asked Ivanna who was completely composed now, though it was obvious that something had changed about her.
“Well,” said Brin’tac, cutting in. “We were afraid that the two of you might have damaged your relationship, and we were going to see if there was anything we could do to help. However, it seems you’ve managed to make amends.”
“We’re fine,” said Satchal plainly. “I just got a little carried away back there. You know me. I’m terrible at taking orders from my masters.”
Brin’tac eyed him skeptically, detecting hidden meaning in his words. But he said nothing.
“Well,” said Geldar, a little uneasy himself about the situation. “That’s good to hear. So everything is settled?”
“Yes,” said Ivanna as she glanced over at Satchal. Geldar thought he saw the smallest trace of a smile in her eyes, but then it was gone as she looked back at them. “Everything’s settled.”
“Good,” said Brin’tac, and he came and extended his hand toward Ivanna. “Then good luck, Master Jedi, on your upcoming mission. May the Force be with you.”
“Oh,” said Satchal, a bit taken aback. “She’s not going alone. I’m going with her.”
Everyone exchanged concerned looks as they all realized that Satchal would only mess up their own plans. Nyarchagga looked hopefully at the young Padawan hoping that it was true and his beloved droid would not have to go after all.
Ivanna, however, was obviously not pleased with this. “Wait a minute,” she said as she turned to confront him. “We never agreed to this.”
Satchal met her gaze and hardened his expression. “But I thought we agreed that you going off alone was stupid.”
“I never said it was stupid,” Ivanna replied. “I just agreed to…well you know what I agreed to. I never said you were coming along.”
“But…” began Satchal, clearly getting irritated again, and Kazzra’an, Tarrsk, and Tso all moaned as they thought another fight was about to break out between the two.
“No buts,” said Ivanna sternly. “We may have a new understanding between us, but I still don’t think it’s wise that any of you come with me.”
Then Satchal lowered his voice so only she could hear. “So you still think you have to go alone to prove something?”
“No,” whispered Ivanna as she glanced at the others. “I just don’t want to risk anyone else in this. If I’m lost the refugees still have the rest of you. I know you’re worried about me, but Satchal you are still a Padawan, and I don’t think you’re ready for this. Please trust me on this one.”
The difference in her tone softened Satchal’s resolve, but he still wasn’t ready to give up yet. “You don’t think I’m ready? Are you sure that’s the reason, or is it that you’re just afraid I might get hurt?”
“Both,” she answered as everyone watched trying to piece together what was being said. “The Force isn’t as strong in you yet, Satchal. I can move quicker, and I have a better chance of avoiding detection. There are techniques in the Force you haven’t even begun to learn about yet, and these techniques can mean life and death in this situation.”
Satchal sighed deeply and turned away from her. “So is it agreed now?” asked Tso as he watched the two of them carefully, noting every word that past between them. The Sullustan had very good hearing, and he didn’t miss even a single syllable.
“Yes,” said Ivanna as she turned back to the others. “I’m going alone, as discussed previously. There’s nothing any of you can do to help. Please try to understand.”
“No problems here,” said Tarrsk with a shrug. “Just try to avoid letting anything slip out during your future interrogation.”
Ivanna ignored his comments, however, as she suddenly sensed that the atmosphere in the room was somewhat unusual. She couldn’t quite place it, but she felt as though something was wrong with everyone else. They were watching her as if expecting something, or perhaps they were trying to figure out what to do or how to do it. This put her instantly on edge, and her senses were on full alert.
“Well,” said Brin’tac as he extended his hand out to her again. “Again, good luck, and may the Force be with you.”
“Thank you,” Ivanna replied and she hesitantly took his hand.
Nyarchagga made his move then, and he got to his feet and made his way toward the door behind Ivanna and Satchal as Geldar came forward and wished her luck as well. Kazzra’an only nodded in her direction, and Tso remained unmoved. He, more than anyone else, was having troubles keeping his nervousness from showing. Lialla strode forward last, and she seemed the most pleased with Ivanna’s leaving, but this didn’t surprise the Jedi. She always knew that Lialla had feelings for Satchal, and this created hostility in the young woman.
After Lialla wished her well she backed away just as Nyarchagga brushed past the Jedi. Ivanna spun around to face the Dug, but he only looked up at her with a smug grin. “A bit more tense than usual, aren’t you?” he asked as she continued to look at him as if she expected to see him produce a blaster and fire on her. “And here I thought you and Satchal would be more relaxed after practicing your ‘meditation techniques’ together.” He chuckled, though Satchal glared at him with venomous eyes. Nyarchagga ignored both Satchal and Ivanna and continued on through the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me. I wasn’t going to make this an announcement but I need to relieve myself.” Then he exited the room leaving Ivanna feeling somewhat foolish.
“All right,” she said turning back to the rest of them. “Well, I must be off. Thank you all for your send-off. I must say I wasn’t exactly expecting it. I haven’t really felt much like I’m a part of this group before.”
“Well,” said Lialla with a fake smile, cutting off Geldar and Brin’tac who were about to say something nice in reply. “You’re Satchal’s master and that means you are one of us.”
Ivanna didn’t buy it for a moment. “Right,” she said flatly. “Well thanks again.” Then she gave Satchal one last backward glance as if to tell him she’d be fine, and then she shot off out of the entrance before anyone could say another word.