Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away
   

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 32 - Bait for the Trap

“Mistress,” Riva ventured, stepping inside the open door of Atris's private meditation chamber. The glow of red and blue from the holocrons cast fuchsia shadows on her bleached clothes, hair, and pale face. Atris's striking white hair, Jedi robes, and geometrically patterned tabards were also eerily lit. She was not in meditation, but staring up at a particular Jedi Holocron stored high on the wall above her with her hands clasped behind her back. “May I enter?” Riva asked.

Atris slowly spun around with the careful, calculated dignity that Riva and all of the other handmaidens admired. “Yes, you may enter Riva,” she invited. “What is it?”

“I have news,” Riva said as she entered smoothly, masking her hesitance. The glare of the holocrons always unnerved her and the others, who could not feel the Force as Atris did. “We have found where the Jedi Exile has been hiding all of these years.”

Atris straightened up and her blue eyes flashed. With five swift steps she closed the distance between herself and Riva. “Where have you found her, and how?” she asked. There was eagerness in her voice that Riva had not heard in ages.

“She is living in her own self-imposed exile on the planet of Tchuukthai,” she answered, “One of the few traders trusted by the locals to know the location of their planet happened to mention that there was a human woman living there, under the blessing of the late Master Thon.”

“Master Thon,” Atris said slowly and nodded thoughtfully, “He did always have a soft spot for her. He never really knew her for what she became after he left the Jedi Council for the outer rim.”

“She has been quietly living there, alone in a hut of her own making, since shortly after the war, never once leaving or initiating any communications with the outside world,” Riva continued, “She has taken her exile to its completion.”

“Her respect for the councils decision is remarkable, and even baffling, given her history,” Atris said with bitter sarcasm. “She defied us over and over again, and it led to her own downfall. It led to her exile. It is one she has earned.”

“Then perhaps she has realized that now,” Riva suggested.

“Unlikely, for one as proud as she was,” Atris responded, “For one as certain of herself in anything she does. Ah, but it us good to know that she is still alive. She may be just the Jedi we need to set our plans into motion.”

“You refer to your plans for drawing out the enemies who attacked the Jedi,” Riva asked.

Atris nodded. “She will be the bait,” Atris declared, “I am glad you found her. You did well to follow so many leads.”

“It would be remiss for me to claim credit for such a thing,” Riva admitted, “Although I am the one who was elected to bring the news to you, it is the least of the handmaidens who discovered this trail of evidence to her existence.”

“Brianna it is then?” Atris mused, “I am surprised that the least of you would be the one to discover the greatest bit of information that we have had in a long time.”

“I am sorry for our failings, Mistress,” Riva apologized, head bowed. “My sisters and I will redouble our efforts.”

“You are forgiven,” Atris said dismissively, “Perhaps it is only that Brianna is earning her place among you, finally.”

“She is still too distracted, to undisciplined,” Riva replied swiftly, “She has far to go before she can truly be considered one of your handmaidens.”

“Just as well,” Atris nodded, “Bring her in. I want to hear from her myself.”

Riva turned back to the doorway, but Brianna was already standing in the open space between the two ajar doors, waiting expectantly.

“You have anticipated me,” Atris observed. “Come.”

Brianna approached slowly each step a laborious process of demeaning herself before her older sister and her mistress.

“Tell me, how did you discover the location of Bryony Thuvell, who has evaded us for the long years?” Atris asked.

“I was combing our contacts and recordings from the station and heard mention of a man bragging that he had a secret contract with Tchuukthai,” Brianna explained, “I knew from your lessons that there have been more than one great Tchuukthai Jedi in the recent ages, most notably the late Master Thon, and thought I would investigate it further. Tchuukthai would be a perfect place for a Jedi to hide during this purge. It is off the maps and outside of travel routes in the unknown regions. Only a select few know its coordinates, and one of those was a Jedi Master. I sliced into the station dock logs to see where he had been coming from and going to lately, and found more conversations on records, some other pilots curious about the planet. Though he gave away nothing about the location of the planet, he did mention that there was a woman living on the planet, a human woman, some exile from after the Mandalorian Wars. He often saw her hut and garden as he flew in and asked the Tchuukthai about it, as their dwellings look nothing like such a human home.”

“Well done,” Atris praised. Brianna started to beam with pride but quickly caught herself and looked stoically at the ground and at the hem of Atris's robes.

“Now we must find a way to bring her back into the Republic space, or even better, the outer rim unaligned territories,” Atris concluded, “The best option would be to find your pilot and ask him to relieve her of her exile for us, paying him for her passage. What was his name?”

“Arvor Flowers,” Brianna asked. At least her memory was flawless for details, despite its common wanderings, “Pilot of the Lightning Nerf, hailing from Corellia. As far as I can tell, he is a legitimate tradesman, who probably also occasionally engages in smuggling.”

“Like most freighter pilots these days,” Riva added.

“Then he will hopefully respond well to our bribes,” Atris replied, “Riva, I want you to meet him. Privately give him our offer. Ask him to take her to wherever his next stop in his journey is, and find out the location.”

“Yes mistress,” Riva replied, bowing her head respectfully.

For a moment, it looked as if Brianna would protest, begging for the position herself, but she caught her tongue and held it.

“Then we will make it known to the networks, Republic, smuggler, and otherwise that Bryony Thuvell, Knight of the Jedi Order is returned to republic space.”

“But why?” Brianna asked, “I don't understand, Mistress. There is a bounty on Jedi now. She would immediately become a target.”

“Bryony could always handle herself without the support of anyone else,” Atris replied shortly, “I am sure she has not changed much in that respect after her exile. And this knowledge will draw more than just bounty hunters. It will draw out the Sith who seek to destroy us. I cannot risk myself, the last historian of the Jedi Order, but for an exile, who does not belong to the Order any more, she works perfectly for our purposes. When our enemies think they can move openly to take out one last Jedi, a Jedi famed for her participation in the Mandalorian Wars, we will see them for what they are and trap them. Then this dark war can finally end.”

“You can't mean to sacrifice another Jedi, even one so misguided as the exile, in order to draw out the Sith,” Brianna blurted. “If she has been disconnected from the galaxy for all this time, she does not know what has happened. She will not know of the danger she is in.”

“Do you question my wisdom, Brianna?” Atris asked pointedly.

“No mistress,” Brianna murmured and stared even more fixatedly at Atris's hem.

“She will discover the danger she is in soon enough. The great general of the Mandalorian Wars surely has not fallen so far that she cannot recognize when her own life is in danger,” Atris replied, “And she earned nothing more than this by her actions in the past. She deserved far more than exile. Now, as the sole remaining member of Jedi council, I decree this to be the completion of her punishment for straying so far from the ideals that brought her up and betraying us.”

“Last Handmaiden,” Atris said sternly. She rarely used the title, though it was the only named used among the sisters who served her. “You may go. Continue your research on the whereabouts of the last of the remaining Jedi.”

“Yes Mistress,” Brianna said so softly it could hardly be heard and departed with a low bow.

“Now Riva,” Atris began again as soon as she had gone, “I want you to take Brianna's research and learn all you can about this man. How much he will need to be paid to ensure he does what we want and how trustworthy he is to keep our involvement a secret. Whatever that amount is, we will pay it.”

“Understood, my mistress,” Riva replied with a bow of acknowledgment, “I will contact this pilot as soon as I am able.” With that, she too departed, leaving Atris alone to her musings.

A day was coming that she could reveal herself. A day was coming that she could openly rebuild the Jedi with her ideas alone forming their precepts. The Jedi Order had fallen far from its original ideals, mired by factions and debate, reforms were never reformed. Alone, Atris could rebuild the Jedi as they never had been before, ready to serve the greater good of the galaxy. This could only be accomplished once the Sith haunting the outer rim of the galaxy were dead, and Bryony Thuvell, traitor though she was, was the key to drawing them out. Bryony would be a prize they could not resist.

- Next Part -


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