Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away

Crux: The Siege of Taris

“'s been what, six months, since....”

“...Just the usual down here. No one is bothering to put up any resistance any more...”

“...wish I could get off planet soon too. I miss my wife and...”

The Viridian floated lazily in space, in a distant orbit around Taris; well outside of the planet's gravity well and well beyond the Sith cruisers that kept the planet under siege.

“...kriffing Sith keep this whole planet locked down!”

Kionee fiddled with the dials on the ship's com system, picking up whatever loose radio chatter she could. She didn't have the skills to slice into the Sith's private tracts, but there were plenty of open channels that projected insecure waves out into space.

“...automatic targeting system that'll blasts anything that tries to leave planet-side...”

“Mistress Kionee, just what do you think you are doing?” MT-412, the family protocol droid, demanded, clanking into the cockpit.

“Listening to the com network,” Kionee answered benignly, but she knew she couldn't fool Emtee.

“...lost another one to the rackghouls...”

“That much I observed,” MT-412 replied sternly, “But why are you in orbit around a Sith blockaded planet where you have no longer have any business connections?”

Kionee sighed. “For the same reason that I stopped here the last three times,” she replied, “Do you need to ask any more?”

“Perhaps not,” Emtee responded and shuffled over to her, “But clearly you need to be reminded that this is no place for you to be right now.”

“ prices went up again? It's all these Sith's fault that...”

Kionee swiveled around in her chair and stared straight at the droid, “Emtee, how long can Taris' food supply last without any imports?”

“About a hundred years ago toxins in the oceans made a majority of the kelp farms too poisonous to produce consumable food. This also wiped out much of the edible marine life,” Emtee recited, “There have been some successful clean-up efforts, but since then, the planet has been unable to be self-sustaining for its population.”

“How long, Emtee?” Kionee persisted.

“ are tired of eating sea weed stew all the time...”

“Without imports, I estimate food stores could be exhausted in a matter of only seven months, at best,” the protocol droid answered.

“Does that answer your question now?” Kionee asked. Before Emtee could respond, she swiveled back around and switched the com channel again.

“What do you hope to accomplish by being here? Coming here only makes you more upset,” Emtee observed.

“...not making any money with my freighter grounded here...”

“Shouldn't I be?” Kionee snapped and glared at MT-412's reflection in the transparisteel windshield. “There's billions of people down there that the Sith would happily starve to death, just to make whatever sick point it is that they're trying to make. The Republic hasn't even tried to do anything about it.”

“Do you think you can do something, then? Even if you could break this blockade, what good would one cargo freighter do to save a whole world from starvation?” MT-412 asked. “It's one thing to feed a small settlement, but entirely another to rescue an ecumenopolis.”

“I know!” Kionee exclaimed exasperatedly and slammed her fists onto the dashboard in front of her. A number of errors and alarms sounded. Kionee scrambled to reset all of the switches and buttons she had accidentally struck.

“...took my brother to prison just for...”

“Don't think that hasn't crossed my mind,” she retorted as she worked, “But even if I could save just one family from starvation, I would do it.”

“Do not be foolish, Mistress Kionee,” Emtee scolded, “You may have been able to avoid detection by the Mandalorians and their technology, but trying to outsmart the Dark Jedi would be suicide.”

“As would be trying to outsmart the auto-targeting laser canons that keep the whole planet under siege,” Kionee added bitterly.

“You promised your father you would stay out of this Sith war,” the protocol droid added in his tinny drawl.

“I know,” she said, gritting her teeth, “It's just...” Restlessly, she switched channels again.

“...bad harvest this season. There could be riots over...”

Kionee let out a frustrated scream, “There has to be a way!”

MT-412 reached over and switched off the com radio. The silence in the cockpit was smothering.

“We have spent plenty enough time here,” he asserted, “We need to leave before one of those Sith warships notices the Viridian and identifies it.”

“Too late,” Kionee said dryly, scowling, “We've got a wing of Sith fighters heading our direction to check us out.”

“Mistress Kionee!” Emtee exclaimed.

“I'm already on it,” Kionee replied bitterly, punching in coordinates, “We'll run for Ithor via Bandomeer and Dathomir.” Moments later, the stars drew out long lines around them and the Viridian snapped into Hyperspace.

Breathing hard, Kionee sat back in her seat. Although hyperspace swirled tranquilly around them, she couldn't get the sight of blockaded Taris out of her head. The voices of the trapped Taresians still echoed between her ears, as if saying in one voice, “Kionee, why didn't you help us?”

Closing her eyes and lowering head, Kionee couldn't keep from crying.

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