Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away
   

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 11 - Restoration Begins

“Prepare for arrival at Coruscant.”

“Reverting to realspace in five, four, three, two, one.”

“Engage the rear thrusters.”

“Engaging rear thrusters.”

The Sojourn snapped out of hyperspace in the heart of the Republic. The great, glittering sphere of Coruscant loomed large in the bridge's viewports. Innumerable ships, skyhooks, stations, and satellites ringed the planet.

“Your orders, sir?” the helmsman called.

“Bring her in to planetary mid-level orbit and decrease to standard orbital speed,” Admiral Carth Onasi ordered.

“Sir!” the helmsman acknowledged and began to carry out his orders.

“There she is, Admiral,” Lieutenant Krov said with pride. “How does it feel to back home to Coruscant?”

Headquarters, not home, Carth corrected internally. “It's a relief, Krov,” Carth replied, staring out at the night side of the planet ahead. “I've been on tour pretty constantly since the start of this war, and the Mandalorian Wars before that. It always feels good to see Coruscant again.”

“I know what you mean, sir,” his ever-present lieutenant replied, “Coruscant brings leave.”

“Once the system and hardware checks are complete, you may begin the leave cycles,” Carth ordered.

“Yes sir,” Krov nodded curtly, “Will that be all?”

“Admiral Onasi,” the bridge communications officer called, “You are being hailed from the surface by a Jerol Onasi.”

“Put it through to my private terminal,” he ordered.

“Yes sir.”

He strode towards his terminal while telling Lieutenant Krov, “Remind the men that we are on standby for reassignment.”

“Understood, sir,” Krov saluted and strode off.

Carth sat down heavily behind his terminal and punched the comm receiver button. What could the Acting High Governor of Telos want with me now? A blueish holoprojection of the Govenor's head and shoulders appeared over Carth's console. “Your Honor,” Carth greeted him.

“Good morning Admiral Onasi,” Jerol began brightly. Something about him seemed much lighter than when Carth had seen him last, almost a year ago. “Congratulations on another successful campaign.”

“Thank you, Your Honor,” Carth replied politely, more than a little baffled by the governor’s call. “What can I do for you?”

“I asked the navy headquarters to put me through to you because I have an invitation for you,” Jerol explained, “I would like to invite you to join me in the Telos senate box for this afternoon's session. If you are not otherwise engaged, that is.”

Carth has planned to have dinner with Ev and Dustil, but he could not refuse an invitation from the governor of his planet. “I am honored to, Governor Onasi,” he replied with a nod.

“I am glad, Carth,” Jerol brightened further, “Today's vote is a historic one and I will be glad to have you there observing it with me.”

“Thank you, sir,” Carth tripped over his tongue. He still had no idea what this was all about.

“I will meet you in the northwestern valet hangar of the Republic Senate complex at half past noon,” Jerol instructed.

“Yes, I will see you there, Your Honor,” Carth replied, stunned.

“Thank you again, Admiral Onasi,” Jerol said, “I look forward to seeing you soon.”

The holoprojection flickered off.

“Great,” Carth murmured. Now he had to find his dress uniform—and cancel his date with his wife and son. One just did not turn down a personal invitation to the senate like this, from the governor of one's own planet.


Carth docked the Ebon Hawk in the valet hangar as instructed. He hesitantly handed it over to the valet pilot and disembarked. He never trusted valets to treat his ships as well as he did.

Outside, he glanced around the carpeted landing for Jerol Onasi, but before could find the governor, a news reporter spotted him.

“Here comes the war hero, Admiral Carth Onasi,” the Twi'lek woman spouted to her hovering camera droid.

Before Carth could escape, she was in front of him, pointing a microphone at his face. “Admiral Onasi,” she began brightly, “Are you here to watch the historic voting today?”

“I believe I am,” Carth nodded, trying not to look confused. What's so historic that they're voting on today?

“As a Telosian survivor, you must be thrilled that the proposal for the Telos Restoration Project has made it this far,” the Twi'lek reporter continued.

Telos Restoration Project? Force! This means they're actually going to rebuild Telos! No wonder Jerol was so happy today. “Thrilled? I'm ecstatic,” Carth beamed as it hit him, “This is the best thing I've heard since 'Malak is dead.' This will go a long way in remembering all of the Telosians who died during the war.”

“Do you think, Admiral, that restoration projects like this on other systems such as Taris or Duro will follow if the project is approved?” the reporter asked.

“I hope so,” Carth replied, “I'm a military man, so I don't know much about what it takes to get restoration projects like this off the ground, but every planet decimated by the Mandalorians or the Sith deserved a chance to be restored in peace.”

“Well said,” the reporter nodded, “Thank you for your time, Admiral Onasi.” She turned to the camera droid and concluded, “This was Seranaya Emm, live from the Galactic Senate. I will have more on the pending TRP vote as the afternoon progresses.”

“There you are, Carth,” Jerol Onasi said as he strode over to Carth, the hem of his long, orange senate coat fluttering in the breeze. “That was well said.”

“Thank you, Your Honor,” Carth bowed to him.

“Come, I will take you to our senate box,” he invited.

Walking side-by-side with the governor Carth, Jerol led the way through the circular halls, stairs, and lifts to the twenty-fourth floor where the Telos pod had its access point.

“I didn't realize that today was the vote to restore Telos,” Carth admitted.

“Where have you been, Carth?” Jerol almost laughed. “It has been all over the news.”

“Fighting the Sith out at Daalang,” Carth replied, “I have been in hyperspace for the last four days. The Sojourn had just arrived outside Coruscant when you hailed.”

“Ah, my apologies,” Jerol said, bowing his head, “I should have explained it to you then. After all of our lobbying and proposals, it is finally going to the Senate.”

“You seem optimistic that the bill will pass,” Carth observed.

“We have a lot of sympathy,” Jerol explained, nodding, “So many other systems hope to be restored as well. They see Telos as a chance to prove that a planet can be restored and livable again. If Telos succeeds, other systems will follow. The Telos Restoration Project is an expensive investment, but it is one that many have placed their hopes of success in. We already have the promise of a full partnership with Ithor to guide the operations.”

“No one knows growing ecosystems better than the Ithorians,” Carth whistled appreciatively.

“You are right about that,” Jerol agreed. “Ah, here we are.” He steered Carth down a short set of stairs and onto what at first appeared to be a small, rounded balcony.

Although Carth had seen news holos of the Galactic Senate hundreds of times, this was his first visit to the senate himself. The Telos senate box was located relatively near the bottom of a conical hall with thousands of similar pods spiraling all the way up to the top at least two hundred stories higher. It was far more massive in person than any of the holos had made it seem. Carth stared out at it in awe.

“One of the more spectacular feats of modern engineering that has been put together in the last hundred years,” Jerol said with approval.

“You bet it is,” Cart agreed. The pods were filling up with colorful humans and aliens, some so far above that they appeared to be nothing more than colorful insects.

“I hear rumors that there are plans to put repulsorlifts on all of these so that they can detach and float around while senators make their points,” Jerol informed him.

Carth tried to imagine it. “That sounds like an accident waiting to happen,” Carth observed.

“I suspect that is why it has not bee enacted yet,” Jerol agreed, “That and the current state of the Republic's budget.”

“The budget should be well enough off to give us our restoration project, however,” a sturdy-looking woman in her fifties said, entering the senate box behind Carth and Jerol.

“Senator Andreya Millax, good afternoon,” Jerol beamed, “This is Admiral Carth Onasi of the fame of the Battle of the Star Forge.”

“Admiral Onasi, good to meet you at last,” she beamed. Her smile was at least as broad as Jerol's as she took Carth's hand and shook it lightly. She was dressed in an opulent orange velvet robe with voluminous sleeves over a cream silk dress. Her short, light brown hair was twisted into improbable shapes and held in place by a number of gold clasps bejeweled with more orange gems.

“It's a pleasure to meet you, Senator,” Carth replied. He wondered just how she managed to maintain such a extravagant wardrobe with her fortune destroyed on Telos, like any other Telosian.

A smaller woman followed the senator in, wearing a simple but elegant dress suit in more muted tones of burnt orange. “This is my assistant, Elya Peraggi,” Andreya introduced her, “She is mute.”

“Nice to meet you, Elya,” Carth said, but when Elya did not offer her hand to be shaken, Carth performed a slight bow. He felt suddenly self-conscious in his green navy formals standing among three Telosians all declaring their love for their planet in Telosian orange.

“I am so glad you could join us, Admiral Onasi,” Andreya admitted, “Your role in making this possible, cannot be overlooked.”

“I beg your pardon, Senator,” Carth started to protest, “But I didn't even know about this vote until today.”

“But you bravely faced the Sith on the front lines of the war,” she argued fluidly, “By your efforts, the Sith are defeated and Telos has a chance to rebuild. As the most prominent Telosian in the war effort, you make a powerful figurehead for hope and success.”

“And it is because of our gratitude to you that we want you to be present here today,” Jerol concluded for her.

“I really am honored,” Carth repeated. “I hope this turns out as well as you expect.”

“Ah, here comes the Supreme Chancellor,” Andreya observed.

Carth followed her gaze over the edge of their balcony. Rising up on a huge pillar from the floor of the senate chamber below came Supreme Chancellor Cressa flanked by his two aides. As he rose higher and higher, past the Telosian box, a hush began to fall on the senate from the bottom up.

“Take a seat, please,” Andreya urged quietly.

Carth, Jerol, and the senator's assistant seated themselves on the plush seats along the back of the pod while Andreya herself perched on a stool at the front center, in front of a small control panel and holo display.

The chancellor's pod came to a stop at about half the full height of the senate chamber. Almost immediately, the holo screen at the front of their pod lit up with an view of the chancellor. Carth strained to see it around Andreya's massive sleeves.

“People of the Republic,” he began, “We begin today with our vote on the Telos Restoration Project proposal. Although we have already debated in length on this, we will hear any last thoughts on the issue before taking it to vote.” Glancing down for a moment, he announced, “The chair recognizes the senator from the planet of Iridonia.”

The screen abruptly switched to the head and shoulders of a pale Zabrak.

“People of the Republic,” he began, deep, smooth baritone reverberating through the hall, “I speak to remind you of the precariousness of our situation now. While we are greatly scaling back our efforts against the Sith, the war is not over, and still could go on for some time. As good as this project may make us feel, it is a distraction from the more important issues we still have at hand for our fragile republic.

“The proposed Telos Restoration Project is a risky experiment, at best. Restorations of this scale have never been attempted before. For a project of such a magnitude, we should invest in proven techniques before we sign over our treasury to an untried and likely unsuccessful endeavor.

“I propose instead, we should work towards galactic recovery in other ways. Invest in recovery programs for our returned soldiers. Develop resettlement plans for those whose words were decimated by this war.

“The Republic's grasp on recovery is tenuous. We do not have the resources now to invest in such a great risk as the Telos Restoration Project,” the Zabrak senator concluded, “Thank you.”

“Thank you Senator Krem-Olen,” Chancellor Cressa nodded, “Now the chair recognizes the Acting Senator of Telos.”

Senator Millax was already standing proudly, ready to speak. “Thank you, Chancellor Cressa,” she began pleasantly. “You have all heard me speak many times on this proposal, but today I bring you the Acting High Governor of Telos, Jerol Onasi.”

Jerol stood and replaced her at the front of the pod. Carth glimpsed himself on the holo screen and made an effort to appear genuinely engaged and hopeful.

“Senators, People of the Republic,” Jerol began eloquently, “I speak to you not as a man of a devastated planet but as a man of a devastated galaxy. Worlds still lie in ruins from the Mandalorian wars. Although Telos may have been one of the first planets to feel the utter destruction of the Sith, it was far from the last. The silenced cries of my people foreshadowed the innumerable voices to cry out through this war.

“As the first to fall to the Sith, let Telos be a symbol and an example of recovery. Senator Krem-Olen speaks of unproven ecosystem recovery techniques. Let us prove them! The Ithorians have pledged their commitment to this project, and I have never seen them fail before. This will be a long process, but what we will learn from Telos's restoration will be well worth the effort. Let Telos's healing be the forerunner of galactic-wide healing. Let Telos live again.” With a curt nod, Jerol stepped back away from the mic and sat back down next to Carth again.

“Thank you Acting High Governor Onasi,” Chancellor Cressa nodded. “If there are no other points to be made, let the voting begin.”

No other senators submitted to speak.

A low murmur sprouted up, up and down the senate chamber as the voting started.

“Well done, Your Honor,” Carth complimented.

“Thank you,” he smiled back, “But please call me Jerol, Carth.”

Carth chuckled, “Yes, Jerol.”

“I hope that this will not be our last chance to discuss Telos's recovery,” Jerol said.

“I would enjoy that,” Carth agreed modestly. As a soldier, he never imagined himself becoming friends with the High Governor of his planet. “But as you have seen, I am kept very busy by my duty with the Republic Navy.”

“I have requested,” Jerol began slowly, “that you be assigned to the Telos Restoration Project as our military adviser and commander.”

Carth was stunned for the second time that day. “Again, I'm honored,” he managed to murmur.

“As I have said, you are a powerful figurehead, Carth, and you are a competent and resourceful man,” Jerol complimented him.

“All ballots are in,” one of the chancellor's aides announced.

“My, that was quick,” Senator Andreya commented.

“The vote is decided seventy-eight to twenty-two percent in favor of the proposed Telos Restoration Project.”

Carth was on his feet with a triumphant fist in the air. “Yes!” he whooped.

Beside him, Jerol grinned and clapped more subduedly. All the same, every inch of him glowed with satisfaction.

The Telosians were not the only ones cheering either. A significant part of the senate celebrated with them. It was a victory of hope for the Republic.

Grinning, Jerol turned to Carth. “Finally you and I will get a chance to give our wives the memorial they deserve,” he said and patted Carth on the shoulder. “We are going to get our planet back.”

Carth felt his comlink buzz at his hip. Pulling it out of its holster, he scanned the brief page he received from the Navy Headquarters, 'Report tomorrow at 8:00 standard for reassignment.' His grin broadened as he stowed the comlink away again. “Well Jerol, it looks like you and I might be working together for a while to come,” he said.

“Good to hear, Carth,” Jerol beamed. “Welcome to the Telos Restoration Project.”

- Next Part -


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