With a heavy thud Justin’s ancient freighter landed near the only settlement on Belance, a small dreary settlement called Newn-Cape that scraped together a living by farming the sun-scorched land around the settlement, using the nearby fresh water lake for irrigation. A plump elderly man with a long white beard, elaborate robes, and a wrinkled face walked out to the old ship.
Justin walked up to the ramp and waited for it to lower, but only a dull grinding noise greeted him and the ramp stayed up. Justin growled and stomped his foot on one corner of the ramp, the grinding sound continued, but the ramp finally descended to the dry dirt below.
Justin approached the elderly man as he waited patiently at the edge of the smooth dirt landing field, the man bowed deeply to Justin before speaking, “Greetings Master Jedi this is an unexpected honor, my name is Gerance, Mayor of Newn-Cape, what brings you to our humble settlement? We are not accustomed to having Jedi visit us, especially with this great civil war that you are fighting.”
Justin returned the bowed slightly, “My name in Justin Tera, I have received information that a band of pirates and other criminals have taken up hiding somewhere on your world, they may have something that I am looking for, do you know of them?”
Gerance nodded, paling slightly, “Yes Master Justin, we at Newn-Cape know these beasts very well, they raid our outlying homes regularly, taking any food they find; they have threatened our very existence by cutting our food supplies so low that any new boom in our population would cause a famine throughout the settlement.”
Justin nodded reluctantly, “Well, if you know of them do you know where they are based?”
Gerance froze, “You mean to drive them from here? Oh no Master Jedi I couldn’t ask you to do that, we of Newn-Cape can handle themselves, besides there are too many for one man, even a Jedi, to defeat.”
Justin shook his head, “Don’t worry Mayor Gerance, just show me where these men are hiding and I promise you they will never bother you again.”
Gerance visibly debated within himself what to do, he wanted to be rid of the pirates, but he was obviously afraid of the consequences of he sent Justin to them and the Jedi Knight was killed or captured.
Justin did not want to use the Force to pull to knowledge from Gerance’s mind, he had never liked doing that, it felt like a misuse of the Force for personal gain he preferred to use old fashioned talking to get his information.
Finally Gerance nodded, if with a bit of reluctance, “Follow me Master Jedi, I will take you to my home and will see about getting you directions the pirates’ fortress.”
Justin nodded, “I appreciate your help Mayor Gerance.”
The two men walked into Newn-Cape, toward the large stone building near the middle, the Mayor’s home, the same home that every Mayor had lived in since the founding of Newn-Cape, according to Gerance anyways. To Justin it looked a little too new and clean compared to the rest of the town to be part of the original town, but maybe they took better care of their Mayor’s house than others, so Justin remained quiet about it.
When they entered the building Justin was greeted by several sparsely dressed serving girls, wearing nothing but little scraps of clothing to cover their most private areas, everything else was exposed.
Gerance shooed them away, apologizing to Justin, “Our customs are very different from that of the rest of the Republic; they require all guests into the Mayor’s home to be…” he brooded for the right word, “…pleasured before going on to business, so as to give them a favorable opinion of the ruling house.”
Justin merely shook his head, “I’m not here to judge your people, but I must ask, those women are not slaves correct?”
Gerance looked stricken, “No of course not Master Jedi, we follow all of the Republic’s laws, those women are employed by me and their jobs are among the most highly respected it Newn-Cape.”
Justin gave a shudder after Gerance turned to lead them into his office, I will have to talk to Master Windu when this mission is over, I am curious to know how these people were able to establish a settlement here legally.
Gerance shuffled through his papers on his desk and turned to face Justin, a thin leaflet of papers in his hands, “These contain all of our information on the pirates’ fortress.”
Justin took the papers and looked through them; they contained several maps with a few different routes to the fortress, which was on the Island of Bronze, an island in the fresh water lake near Newn-Cape covered in ancient ruins form a civilization long dead. There was also a rough sketch of few signs the settlers had seen of possible habitation in the ruins as well as a few areas the pirates seemed to be using as a staging area for there equipment.
Justin nodded gratefully to Gerance, “Thank you Mayor Gerance, this will help immensely, I will leave for the island tomorrow.”
Gerance nodded and spread his hands before him, “Your welcome Master Tera, but if I may ask, how will you get to the island? It is too far to walk and any ship that gets too close will be spotted immediately we found that out the hard way, one of our few airspeeders flew too close to the ruins and got blasted out of the sky, we didn’t even know what happened until the pirates dropped the wreckage in their next raid.”
Justin nodded again, “Thank you for the warning Mayor Gerance, but I will manage just fine, and I am well prepared to reach the fortress.”
Gerance nodded, “Of course, I should have known a Jedi would have brought all the supplies he would need to combat the forces of darkness, wherever he found them.”
Justin smiled slightly, “Yes, well, if you’ll excuse me Mayor Gerance, I must return to my ship and make plans for tomorrow.”
Gerance nodded and bowed again, “Of course Master Tera, I wish you good luck in you mission.”
With that farewell and Gerance’s papers under his arm Justin left the Mayor’s home and returned to the Secret Hope for the night. As Justin ascended into his freighter he wondered to himself, By all accounts these pirates don't seem to have the resources to have pulled off a job as complicated as kidnapping the children of the Senators and two promising Jedi Apprentices, there must be more at work here than just your run of the mill pirate operation. I must be cautious.