Colonel Katann stood with his arms folded, a look of deep concern written across his hard features as he watched the medidroid fuse the bone in the young man’s upper arm. Picked up by a routine patrol around the perimeter, the boy was found, arm broken and lying unconscious in the lower sands on-route to the Republic command outpost. He was immediately brought to the medical tent and the Colonel was alerted.
The truth was, nobody knew who the boy was or where he came from. He wore the robes of a Jedi, but he was almost unrecognisable with all the scratches, splinters and desert dust that covered his body. Lord Kaan’s spies are everywhere, Katann reminded himself, trust is indeed a rare jewel in these dark times. The robot’s metallic arm whirred and ticked as it passed the laser back and forth across the skin. The slightest smell of singed hair mixed with the dusty humidity inside the tent and the Colonel lifted a gloved finger to his nose.
Captain Abunka came over and joined him, his wiry figure dwarfed by Katann’s heavy frame as they both stood there looking at the figure lying motionless on the bed. “I don’t like this Colonel,” Abunka muttered behind his hand as he also covered his nose from the odour, “what was he doing wandering alone in the desert? I tell you, he was lucky we found him on long range scanners when we did, this merciless desert will eat you up and spit you out before long.” Abunka took his hand away and turned to the Colonel. “And where’s his weapon?” He asked, staring at the side of Katann’s face, “did they find one when they picked him up?”.
Ignoring him, the Colonel grunted routinely and scratched his chin. Abunka became jittery when mystery presented itself, and it made Katann nervous to be around him. But dark rumours of the Brotherhood had found their way into the ears of many soldiers like Abunka in recent days, and Katann knew the pressures of battle all too well. The war of attrition that had fallen upon Ruusan’s dry plains and scorched forests was taking its toll on both sides. Apparently the Order were planning a big offensive with Supreme Command to finally break the deadlock, but the Colonel felt it may just come too late. Something has to give soon, he mused, as he watched the droid continue its work.
Abunka opened his mouth to ask another question, but before he could the door to the tent was thrown open and Master Jenai Sharill appeared in the sunlight. Long dark hair covered most of her azure features as the harsh winds tore through the base outside. Both men turned their heads and watched the Zabrak stoop slightly before stepping inside, the Jedi’s tall thin frame filling the air as she stood up straight.
“Still no contact with Outpost 6, nor the tertiary bunker in the East Forest,” Jenai announced quietly to Colonel Katann, blinking gently as the desert sand fell from her eyes. “But Captain Shilm still believes it could be a transmitter failure. The low pressure dust storms of this region are, after all, quite random and severely disruptive to communications”.
“Very good Master Sharill”, Katann replied, nodding at the Jedi.
Jenai spotted Needa lying in the bed, his arm now being wrapped in heavy bandages, and furrowed her brow.
“Do you know this boy?,” the Colonel demanded.
“I do” Jenai replied softly. “His name is Needa Ghul, a young padawan of Master Cyyala.” She gracefully walked over to Needa and laid a hand gently on his brow. “Cyyala was stationed at Outpost 6, was he not Colonel?”
“Yes Jenai”, said Katann slowly, his eyes widening,”he was”.
The Jedi leaned closer and placed her other hand on Needa’s dusty cheek. He shifted slightly at her touch and murmured to himself. Closing her eyes Jenai bowed her head, a look of deep concentration appearing on her face as her ebony hair fell gently over her cheeks. Katann and Abunka watched intently as the Jedi master did her work, her ability to attune to another’s force was renowned throughout the Galaxy. The medidroid paused its programme and the tent fell silent as all eyes looked at Jenai.
Suddenly the Jedi quickly pulled her hands away and inhaled sharply, her eyes flying open-wide as she stepped back.
“What is it?!”, Katann whispered sharply.
When she did not respond the Colonel moved over and placed a firm hand on her shoulder. Jenai flinched and spun her head around, staring back intently. “I believe we may have a problem,” she said.