Previous Next

Free Öetrago

Posted on Tue May 4th, 2021 @ 8:55am by Bomoor Thort & Thane & Amare

Chapter: Chapter VI: The Last Bastion
Location: Hopü Forest, Öetrago
Timeline: Six weeks after "Matriarch Framed"

The weary old landspeeder creaked as it decelerated to a halt just a short distance from a line of tall trees. There was still several hours of daylight left but, from this close to the treeline, what sunlight pierced through the murky sky was diffused through the needly leaves of the evergreen trees of this northern Üssina forest.

Watch yerself’” hollered the older Ithorian driver, in the oddly accented Ithorese that was particular to these northern folk, as he reached around and handed Llim his belongings from the back of the speeder, “Mists start settin’ in soon as the light starts to wane. You’ll be wanting to hurry on to the camp before it settles upon ya’.

The driver had said very little on their journey up to the Hopü forest or, as it was often known in basic: Precipice Forest, owing to how the forest reached all the way to the tall grey cliffs along the north east coast of Üssina. The older man, who had identified himself only as an ‘ally’ had been wary of revealing anything about himself for fear of association with the supposedly illegal activity of Mumin and her anti-corporate activist group, whom he privately supported.

Oh, and you’ll be wanting these, ” he added, throwing out a pair of huge Ithorian snow boots, padded with a synthetic wool, “Today’s not too bad, but you’ll be glad of those when that storm rolls in across the cliffs and this forest is painted in the thickest sheet o’ snow you’ve ever seen.

Llim fumbled his grip on his travel pack as he tried to catch the boots whilst the driver spoke. He practically juggled the boots in his large Ithorian hands as his pack fell to the ground, then he lost grip of the boots as he tried to retrieve the rest of his equipment, and then rose up with everything mostly in hand in hand. "Uhh, thank you!" His gratitude almost sounded like a question as a water canteen fell out of the partially opened pack.

The driver started up the engine again and the speeder wobbled a little as the antigrav system was slightly destabilised by the power draw. He clicked two long, spindly fingers and pointed to the small device clipped to Llim’s belt, “So, don’t forget the signal: once yer’ a short way into the trees, start signalling that purple lantern there in that ‘two-one-two’ pattern we talked about and they’ll pick ya’ up soon enough.”

He started to move off, “Best of luck, son,” his voice became less distinct over the sound of the speeder, “For a free Öetrago!”

The clumsy Mr. Llim waved to the driver and retrieved the canteen as a chilling brush of frigid air danced across the flesh of his hammerhead-shaped cranium, a stark reminder of the more intense climate change soon to come.

As the speeder’s lights sunk into the growing gloom, Llim was left alone against the looming trees. Once again faced with a harshness of nature he had never imagined he would face in his life. So far from the clean, sealed walls of the diplomatic office in Mooko city, yet it was this new world that had welcomed him with open arms, while his former colleagues now shunned him, owing to the work of ÖetraGrow and GalactaWerks to paint him as a dissident and an agitator.

In those trees was the only real family he had ever cared about, save for his former boss: Diplomat Thort. He was no longer afraid to face this march ahead to see them. Most appealing of all was seeing the face of sweet Jiljoo, whom he had not seen for over a month.

As he crept forwards into the trees, it was as though each step forward dragged a little more daylight out of the world and a little more mist into it. Soon, he could only see two or three trees ahead of him. He realised it was about time to take out the signalling lantern; plucking it from his belt, he began flashing it in front of him. Its distinctive violet glow painted the mist an odd lilac colour each time he flashed it. Two quick flashes, then a longer single flash, then two more before repeating. He held it before him and swung it gently side to side, desperate that it be seen by the right person.

The vapour around him began to seem like it was taking shape as his mind fearfully imagined all the dangers that might be lurking in the woods. While there were few dangerous predators native to Öetrago that lived this far north, it was not beyond the realm of possibility that some non-native species may have found their way here. Some imported monstrosity that hitched a ride on one of the seed shipments to the Squalu seed bank, even further north may have found a home here.

He was almost ready to crumple up in a ball, when he spotted another flashing purple light ahead, beaming in the same pattern he was emitting. It was them: he’d found his way home.

After identifying himself to the perimeter guards, Llim found himself being escorted through a semi-permanent camp site towards a large central settlement, partly occupying a huge tree with a hollow section in its base. It was not quite as tall as the sky-scraping trees on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk, but it still made the young Ithorian feel like an ant against it.

As he drew closer, he saw that a great holographic display had been set up around which many people were gathered, wearing various degrees of warm weather gear despite the heaters surrounding them. So many people from all different backgrounds had rallied to Mumin’s cause in just a few short weeks as the threat against Mother’s Aid and free enterprise on Öetrago escalated that he started to worry that he was once again an outsider, as he was when he entered the Elenca settlement before.

But then a familiar voice rang out from the crowd ahead, “Llim!”

That voice was like sweet warm syrup to Llim's senses. An audible oasis of joy that made him forget all his most recent travails.

There she was, the green skinned young Twi’lek with the artificial lek who had become his steadfast companion during his time with the herd. Jiljoo came rushing ahead and embraced him with such a great force that even his well-built legs had to dig in to prevent being hurled over.

“Welcome back, my friend!” she hopped back and nodded to him, “Welcome to ‘Precipice Forest’; the heart of the ‘Free Öetrago Herd.”

Llim hardly had time to return the embrace before her favorite partner in crime was beaming at him. He felt lost in her eyes before he blinked and returned the nods.

"This is real...this is really happening..." he said scratching the back of his head. "Sorry, I have to remind myself that it is. I sometimes wish I could wake up and we're all back to normal again. So much has changed so quickly."

"Don't worry," Jiljoo swung around, but kept one arm on Llim's shoulder, using the other to gesture across to the group at the tactical hologram table, "You are among friends, Llim, and Mumin is our great mother!"

On cue, the clustered group parted slightly and there stood the older former Elenca matriarch, seeming somewhat more weary than when Llim last saw her but, nonetheless, still radiating that hopeful and nurturing energy she always seemed to generate. She now held a staff, which she used as she gracefully strode towards them.

"My dear child," her melodic voice cut through the chilly air in her usual practiced but accented Basic, "Welcome back. Come join us at the table."

"Felicitations, matriarch," Llim greeted with a short bow to Mumin out of respect before plodding his way to the table. "I am grateful you are in good health. I have words to share with you from Bruta."

A shrill voice then struck up suddenly from behind the matriarch, and its owner, his recognisable horned avian head shaking dismissively, approached them both. The intransigent Doctor Buhggs still maintained the pained expression of annoyance that he had held when Llim had first met him, all of that time ago.

"Ah," he chirruped, turning his head sidelong to inspect the gentle Ithorian off-worlder with a sceptical eye, "Bruta's errand boy. I thought you might have lost your nerve by now!" His eye then regarded Jiljoo, and the faintest hint of amusement spread over his angular features. "Or maybe your own chemistry is making a man out of you, hmm?"

The passionate, oft-hostile and undoubtedly ambitious H'nemthe had remained a stalwart supporter of the Elenca matriarch in her resistance to GalactaWerks' underhanded invasion of Öetrago's corporate landscape, even if his outspoken character was losing him a few of the friends he had carefully cultivated in previous years for his own nascent political designs. For the most part, he had used official channels to resist ÖetraGrow, and was especially careful about his association Mumin's movement.

Llim shrugged at Buhggs and glanced at Jiljoo as he responded, "Maybe so. Have to do what's right, especially for those we care about."

Jiljoo, oblivious of the comment, beamed and waved around at the group, "Quite right, Llim. We're all here because we care about something bigger zan' ourselves. We are about Öetrago an won't see it taken away by those who do not have love in their hearts."

Chuckling softly, Mumin nodded, "You will see that Jiljoo is our director of enthusiasm, which helps to keep us motivated up here in the freezing north. Well then, I will recap a little bit for Llim's sake."

She tapped on the display panel and an image of several clustered islands flickered onto the projection, "As we are all aware," the motherly voice became more authoritative as she addressed the crowd, now in Ithorese, which was just as familiar to Llim as Basic "Numerous smaller ecological projects are being bought up and converted into ÖetraGrow installations. We have recently become aware of a sizeable project being undertaken on the Moz archipelago, specifically on Moz Müt, where the active volcano there was home to a facility developing ways to influence tectonic movement, with the hopes of being able to stimulate the formation of natural volcanic islands."

The screen zoomed in on one of the islands spouting a modest volcano at its centre, "ÖetraGrow now owns and manages this facility and it is rumoured that our old Cyborg friend is currently residing there with a squad of GalactaWerks troopers. We don't know exactly what about the project is particularly interesting to the corporation, but the direct presence of GalactaWerks there means there is a good chance we will find strong evidence of direct outside interference with Öetragan research.

Jiljoo whispered to Llim, "Zis' is where we come in."

"Therefore," Mumin continued, "We plan to infiltrate this facility and find the evidence we need to make our case against GalactaWerks to Mooko city. They have dragged their heels on investigating ÖetraGrow for long enough so we will give them all the evidence they need to shut it down. Our ever-reliable Mr Senob has once again agreed to transport a small number of us to the island where we will split up and infiltrate the base, following our initial reconnaissance. Remember, we are not a military organisation, we are a Herd so we do not use violence unless we are threatened."

Yllib-Senob beamed around at those gathered nearby, his wonky upside-down face stretched as his cranial-mouth revealed its teeth in an excessively happy gesture. "Quite right, Madam Herdmother Mumim, ma'am," he said, quite officiously and enthusiastically. "All for the cause. All for Öetrago."

Buhggs groaned, his crossed arms dropping to his waist in bemusement. "Yes, the ever-subtle Ongree and his dumb sailor act. Although, of course," he swivelled round on Yllib now, jabbing a pointed digit towards the pleasant boat-enthusiast's bulk, "it's not much of an act, when you think about it." He did not wait for any sort of retort from the Ongree, and instead produced some data chips from his longcoat, which bore more than a passing resemblance to a physician's frock. "I've taken the liberty of producing some devices that produce electromagnetic pulses, albeit at staggered intervals. At least for a time, they will deactivate the kark that passes for GalactaWerks' security systems, and will definitely send any mass-produced droids spinning into each other." He shrugged as he passed the chips over to Mumin to hand out. "They might even slice up their overlords, if you're lucky."

Jiljoo chirruped, “I have seen zem’ work. Doctor Buhggs is truly a genius with his technology!”

Mumin’s eyes were kindly as she turned to them, “The doctor has lost more than most from the interference of GalactaWerks. Once this is all over, his contributions to Öetrago will surely be recognised here and in the wider galaxy.

She turned to the crowd again, “All of you will be recognised as the ones who delivered Öetrago away from its oppressors and back into the bosom of the Mother Jungle. Now, you all have your tasks to perform in preparation, so please be swift but also take care. The great Mother does not want to exchange your lives for this victory and neither do I.

With a nod and a murmur of agreement from those assembled, Mumin shut off the projector screen and turned back to the familiar group of friends that had once gathered in her hut in the Elenca settlement several moons ago: the sailor, the mechanic, the doctor and the assistant. All had walked away from their individual lives to find themselves in this moment: on the brink of a great fight for the freedom of their planet, regardless of their species.

“Thank you all,” Mumin spoke in Basic again and Llim squinted wondering if there was a slight tear in her eye, “The strength I feel, the strength to lead, it does not come from within myself at all. It comes from all of you. I feel it now more than ever before, even when leading my precious Elenca. I am so incredibly proud of you all. Some day soon, I wish you will be able to welcome my dear Bomoor back to a better world he can truly call his home.”



Previous Next