The mountains of Nagi were so vast and high that the ancient ancestors of the Nagai had settled all of their municipals within the deep valleys of the planet. Many of the mountains reached thirty-five thousand feet, in Human terms! As if that were not a harsh enough environment, Nagi’s weak atmosphere rendered those mountain ranges sterile from all the solar radiation bombardment. Privately, Jedi Shander wondered if such environment had lead to the current physiology of the Nagai Humanoid-tall, sinewy, pale...for many thousands of years, Mlip’s ancestors had to live and develop in the permanent shadows of such monstrous mountains.
Upon the Namout Se’s landing at Nagi’s biggest city, Kotokai, Mlip seemed a bit more relaxed. Perhaps the couple of days of he and the Jedi boxed in together on a star ship was what he needed to warm up to a Human.
Kotokai, as with all of the Nagai’s cities, was an unexpected beautiful sight within Nagi’s rugged terrain. For the metropolis of ten million was built in a gigantic cluster of edifices and domicile structures that ringed the entire mountain base! The last time Jedi Shander had visited Nagi on another business, he had gone to one of their smaller cities. That conurbation was on a different landmass and only had two connecting inter-cities road network. Kotokai had scores of connecting road networks, all radiating out for inbound and outbound ground traffic.
After Mlip and Jedi Shander took care of the mundane business of docking procedures and Shander having gone through the necessary documentations for his trip to Negi, the two were greeted by another Nagai who had been standing by. He had waited amid the crush of foot-traffic in the docking area until Mlip signaled for him to come over.
“Jedi Rin Shander, this is Hquet,” Mlip said, making the introductions with both hands held out to the respective male. Both greeted one another with a diplomatic smile and a nod of the head. Mlip continued. “Hquet is the administrator of Kotokai’s municipal libraries.”
“Wonderful to actually meet a Jedi in person,” the graying Nagai shared with genuine anticipation.
Jedi Shander was surprised to see such good-natured expression from any Nagai, given the recent war that had been going on with the Galactic powers and the Nagai since they had blitzed the inner-core. But Shander knew to keep this to himself.
“Thank you, Administrator Hquet,” the young Jedi merely stated.
“From here on, Administrator Hquet and his people will be with you on your trip, Jedi Shander...please feel free to contact me anytime you are ready to return to Coruscant.”
The Jedi and the young pilot gracefully bowed to each other and Mlip had quickly strutted his way toward a maelstrom of Nagai bodies, along with a few other aliens and vehicles whirling about.
“Jedi Shander,” Hquet said with a bit more formality in his voice, “the Nagai governance has already informed me of your reasons for being here.”
“Wonderful...I hope it does not seem too odd to you,” Shander said with a slight playfulness in tone.
Hquet returned the banter. “A bit of a secret, young Jedi. Most Nagai, themselves, don’t like the name Skyriver!”
With a light exchange of chuckles, Administrator Hquet ushered Jedi Shander to an awaiting, hovering landspeeder to take them to one of Ktokai’s libraries.
It had been two days since Jedi Shander arrived on Nagi. From a couple of municipal libraries in Kotokai, among many other subjects, he learned about the geology of Nagi, with all its extreme mountains and arid climate. He learned more about the deep history of the Nagai; that their crowning reign was some three hundred years ago, when they had began to use Superluminal Travel. And, as a result of that technology, how the Nagai ancestors had a run-in with a civilization called the Tof. Jedi Shander even learned a bit of the Nagai language, which was entirely different from the Galaxy’s predominant Aurebesh...and then, he ran across something else.
“The Kwa has been here,” Jedi Shander said to one of Administrator Hquet’s subordinates. His name being Afiti.
He was one of many younger Nagai under Hquet’s leadership. His attire was much the same as most of the Nagai employees of the city of Kotokai’s library system-a drab of mid-length tunic and their customary long hair bounded up or down during working hours. He did not even have any Tehk’la blades on him, that the Nagai culture had valued so much. Jedi Shander had seen many of the Nagai in public with their bodies ornamented with the undulating daggers. Yet another visible reminder of the Nagai distrust of any potential visitors upon their world.
“You are surprised about this fact,” Afiti said evenly. But then he seemed to feign a flinch with an understanding after further thought. “But then again, I suppose that is one of the reasons why you are here in the first place...”
Jedi Shander looked upon the tall, slender Humanoid with confusion. The young Jedi had sensed an adversarial side to him every since Administrator Hquet had introduced Afiti and the rest of his staff two days ago.
“Afiti, I merely meant that the Kwa’s history is well-known in the galactic-core...I’ve never heard nor read that they had any presence in the Companion Besh-”
"Firefist,” the Nagai interupted; his gray eyes unblinking at the Jedi. He took a couple of steps toward Shander in the isolated wing of the library they were in...with no one else around at the time. “My people have called our galaxy Firefist for thousands of years, and we’re not going to change that for some Jedi from that jungle you call the inner-core.”
The truth was, Jedi Shander had faced far worse enemies in his life. He had sensed that there might have been some conflict with Afiti, but Jedi Shander still tried to reach out to him from a humane standpoint. Shander simply did not want to contribute to the strained relations that Coruscant had with the Nagai. That, and to his knowledge, he was currently the only Jedi on all of Nagi!
“Of course, Afiti...I am on your planet, so I respect your planet’s cultural references.”
That had diffused a potential conflict. Indeed, the young Nagai almost seemed disappointed that the Jedi had treated him so respectfully! And Rin Shander, the Human, did not need his Jedi Force powers to sense that.
“Is there a problem, here,” the deep voice of Administrator Hquet came from behind both of them. Afiti did not even bother to turn around to look at his superior.
“Afiti was just correcting me on how I should refer this satellite galaxy,” Jedi Shander played down. He made sure to smile as he said this to Hquet.
“Afiti,” the administrator said after a long, uncomfortable silence in the library aisle, “why don’t you go over and help Tigh Malk with those new additions we received yesterday.”
Surprisingly, the younger Nagai simply turned and left the aisle without a protest. Administrator Hquet breathed out a heavy sigh. He seemed to wait a little longer until Afiti was out of hearing range.
“I apologize for Afiti, Jedi Shander.”
“It’s alright, Administrator...I knew the politics of me being here before I left Coruscant.” His face contorted as he thought on his interaction with Afiti. “Administrator, I mentioned something about the Kwa’s presence here-almost a hundred thousand years ago, and Afiti seemed to accuse me of masking the real reason of my being here was because of something related to the Kwa!”
Unexpectedly, the administrator seemed to wax distant after Jedi Shander’s statement. There was a definite tremor in the Force at that moment!
“Indeed...” By this time, Administrator Hquet graciously held out one of his hands; politely signaling that he was ushering the Jedi out of that section of the library! “We have been isolated for so many thousands of years, it is no wonder that most inner-core civilizations do not know this.”
Jedi Shander had no idea where they were going, but he followed the administrator’s lead.
“I thought, perhaps, with a reference to the Kwa with the Nagai, such deep history would lead to the etymology of Skyriver...seems to be my best lead to find out the Galaxy’s name!“Again, Hquet seemed a little distracted. But he maintained his amicable attitude toward the Jedi. He simply laughed a socially correct response to Jedi Shander’s point and remained silent until they both reached a floor-lift. There was another Nagai that Jedi Shander met earlier in the day. He was smiling brightly as he waited for the duo to reach him.
“Jedi Shander, Kile will escort you to one of our finest dining establishments-on the other side of Kotokai Mountain!”
All three broke out into a relaxed, low-key guffaw. It was approaching night time, and the sights of Kotokai at night were even more beautiful with all its lights than it was in the daylight...but the Force was telling the young Jedi that what he was dealing with at the moment was some kind of carapace.
He knew now was not the time-not while being restricted to a floor-lift. All Jedi Shander knew was that he was not setting foot onto any transporter with Kile!
Or, maybe he should...?