The Praxus Princess

Oollana sighed in frustration. She stared up at the tangle of machinery above her and wondered if she would ever get the hang of it.  She picked up the greasy hydrospanner again and fit one end into the calibration socket and began to turn slowly. She was lying on her back under the HWK-003 transport, the White Lotus, on a scaffold that put her up right next to the hyperdrive coil once the outside armor plating and panel had been removed. Wires of all colors draped down on either side of her. It was hot here. The ship had been last flown several hours ago but the hyperdrive coils had a lot of residual heat still in them and it washed over her adding sweat to the grease mixture already covering her hands, arms, face and clothes.

The transport was on loan from the Medean government to the Jedi Enclave as a show of their appreciation for its presence. However, it was temperamental at times and the Enclave had to hire a full time mechanic to keep it and the other machinery here running. They eventually hired a local man named Julius and he had been with the Enclave for a little over 10 years now. He was not a force sensitive but might as well have been a jedi master when it came to making things run. He had a talent for fixing things and rigging them to work even when physics told you it shouldn’t work. Oollana had decided some time ago that she should broaden her education beyond the use of the force and had naturally turned to Julius for tutelage since she was somewhat of a novice pilot and mechanic herself.

“Slowly, slowly.  Not too far.  If you turn it too much it will… ”

It was too late. Julius stood on the ground looking up at Oollana’s handy work and his words were like that of a parent and mentor but it couldn’t prevent Oollana from having to find out things the hard way. She had turned the calibration bolt too far and it popped out of its socket along with 2 quarts of overly warm hyperdrive oil.

“Sith-spit”, Oollana called out in frustration as she spit out oil and began to wipe it off her face. Julius covered his mouth trying hard not to laugh but failed anyway.

Not one to shy away from work, Julius began to climb up the scaffolding. “Here, let me give you a hand.” Oollana softly scolded herself because she had wanted to show Julius that she could do this without him but she accepted with humility that she apparently had a lot more to learn.  She moved over on the platform and attempted to clean off the oil on the platform before Julius got up there. The remaining oil didn’t seem to bother him as he lay down beside her and began to show her how to tune the oil flow in the hyperdrive and how to replace the oil now that it was 2 quarts low.

What was supposed to be a quick tuneup had turned into an all afternoon affair but Oollana had enjoyed spending her time with Julius.  Master Bernare was kind in his own way but had always been stern with her believing that discipline was the key to mastering the force but Julius took a different approach to learning and Oollana had found it refreshing. Julius seemed to have unending patience and always had a joke and a smile at the tip of his lips. He was older and sported short, black, but graying hair and his skin was as tough and as dark as gundark skin. She admired his work ethic but admired his ability to smile in the face of adversity the most.

Eventually they got the hyperdrive tuned and got the panel and armor plating back on. As Oollana was cleaning up and putting the tools back in their proper panels she noticed Master Bernare walking across the small hangar bay towards them.

Oollana put down the towel she was using to dry off and met Master Bernare half way across the room.

“Hello, Master” Oollana said as she bowed.  “Did you need to see me?”

Master Bernare looked at Oollana and then looked at the ship briefly and then at Julius. As usual the tentacles that covered his mouth made it very difficult to read any expression that might give away his mood.  He looked back at Oollana. “Is the ship in flying condition?” he asked Oollana.

“Yes, Julius and I just gave it a tune up.”

“Good”, Bernare replied.  “I have a mission that I think suits your skills and you will need a ship.”

This peaked Oollana’s curiosity. It was not often that she was sent off by herself by her master. She wondered if she was reading into it and decided to ask.

“Will I need to summon the others?”

“No”, Bernare responded. “I am afraid that their presence may make the situation worse. In particular I believe the situation will call for someone of your negotiation skills. And as there is precious little time to get you caught up on the details please follow me and Julius can finish up here and prepare the ship and himself for take off.”  She nodded at Julius who was standing close by and he understood and began to head off to make preparations.

As they walked back to the Enclave Master Bernare explained.  “The Barovian Royal Secret Service received a distress beacon from one of their ships, the Praxus Princess, a few days ago. Yesterday the Royal family of Barovia here on Medea received a ransom demand to the tune of 20 million credits for the release of their captive, the princess herself, Princess Katerina. The RSS (Royal Secret Service) strongly suspects that indeed the princess has been captured and both the coordinates of the distress beacon and the ones given in the ransom note for a drop off are similar. As you can see, the situation is one of great import to the Barovian Royal family and they have asked for our assistance.” Master Bernare looked at Oollana as they walked expectantly.

Oollana was mulling over what her master was telling her but it didn’t quite add up. She had spent some time in Barovia when she was young and knew something of the attitude they had towards the jedi in general.  In fact, the Barovian Royal family had largely opposed the formation of the Enclave here on Medea if her history books had been accurate.  Oollana looked up at her master quizzically, “Master, pardon me for asking, but why doesn’t the RSS take care of this matter? The Barovian aristocracy clearly has no great love of the jedi and it seems to me that there is something unstated if they have asked for our assistance.”

For once, Oollana could tell that Master Bernare was smiling. “Indeed, your lessons and insight serve you well. There is something I have left out. The ransom note specifically stated that in order for the Princess to remain safe the person delivering the ransom must be King Caspar himself, the Princess’ father. The fact that they did not demand more money and made the King’s presence a stipulation suggests something far more than a simple kidnapping for the purpose of ransom.”  Master Bernare paused and stopped walking for a moment and turned to Oollana adding very seriously, “I might also add that I sense a disturbance in the force around this matter. It is vague and distant but I agreed to help the king strictly because of this disturbance. It certainly does not hurt our cause to help the king but we are not in the business of making political allies. You are to accompany the king as his official advisor and counselor. Officially the king is in charge of this mission but I have assured him that I am sending a very capable young Twi’lek.” Master Bernare smiled again. “I want Julius to go along as well.  The distress beacon indicated significant damage to the Praxus Princess and while your skills at ship maintenance are growing I would rather you tend to the force while he tends to the ship.”

Oollana certainly did not object to Julius coming along. In fact the prospect of being trusted with such an important mission was enhanced by the notion that she would be accompanied by her long time mentor and friend. But she did worry a little. When Master Bernare said there was a “disturbance in the force” about this it was clear to Oollana that this was not likely to be as simple as it seemed. Hearing those words from Bernare was always a sure sign that trouble loomed ahead.  But she did not focus on it. Master Bernare had trusted in her that she was capable of this mission and she would trust in that.

Oollana was deep in thought when they entered Master Bernare’s chambers. While she should have guessed she hadn’t expected to see King Caspar sitting at a small table in the room along with what apparently were two royal guards. She had never seen a picture of King Caspar but his regal appearance and dress made it fairly obvious who he was.

Posted on Curtis’s behalf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *