Chapter 38: Garmr
The Kaminoans were less than comfortable with Garmr releasing the Sauvax from their holding pens. However, no one dared challenge Garmr on the decision openly. Over the next few days, Vruj and Luugor pushed his wheelchair through the corridors of Gnipahellir, taking the Dark Lord wherever he needed to go.
Now, if only Ona can teach me how to walk quicker, Garmr thought, glaring over his shoulder at the Kaminoan as he gripped onto a railing, knees shaking from the effort.
"You are doing great."
Garmr pondered the observation for a moment. Doing great… I am learning to walk again because Lir Sey'les murdered me. I am not even me. I may have these memories, thought processes… But I am not—
—With a yelp, Garmr lost his grip on the railing, sliding down painfully to the hard white floor. Ona rushed over to render assistance.
"I AM FINE!" Garmr howled, reaching up to the railing with both hands. "Get… Let me do it myself."
Ona took a step back, looking down on him. "Apologies, my Lord."
Gripping the railing, Garmr wrenched himself up. "Let's continue this when I get back."
"Very well. Wait, when do you get back? Where are you going?"
Garmr paused for a moment, regarding Ona. "I need to pay my people a visit."
"My Lord," Vasa stammered, jogging to catch up to Garmr's wheelchair. "Do you really think it wise—to travel to the Both system in your state?"
The wheels of Garmr's wheelchair squeaked as Luugor continued pushing him along.
Garmr's ear batted in annoyance. "Don't you have somewhere to be, Director? What are you still doing here?"
Blinding golden sunlight gleamed on Garmr's white fur once the doors opened to the grey durasteel landing pad. A breeze gently pushed on his mane.
"I was—I thought I could be of some service in this time of transition."
"Transition?!" Garmr scoffed.
"My Lord, for almost a day you were dead," Vasa grunted bluntly.
"And you thought you could seize control! Take over my domain!"
Vasa walked past Luugor, stepping between Garmr's wheelchair and the transport ship, blocking his path. "If you expect an apology, you aren't going to get one. I do not feel guilt, my Lord. Guilt is something pathetic beings feel after they run out of excuses."
Garmr frowned, mildly impressed by Vasa's boldness. "And you have not run out of excuses then," he snorted derisively.
"No, no—It's not like that," Vasa stammered, fur swirling with embarrassment. Her ears folded back for a moment as she looked into Garmr's eyes earnestly. "I wasn't the one advocating for pulling the plug on you anyways. Ursi was. Ursi wanted us to just put you out of your misery."
Looking around at his surroundings Garmr paused. Nothing had felt right since he woke up in the hospital bed. His memories did not feel like his own. None of his emotions felt as intense as he had remembered. For a moment, he almost wished Vasa had allowed the Kaminoans to pull the plug.
Cold wind seeped through the flimsiplast windows of Ashnenvisk Spaceport, whistling loudly. Illuminated under the streetlights, wisps of snow were picked up by the wind and blown across the spaceport arrival's lane. Every time a speeder parked outside, one of the Bothans in the arrival area would exit through the sliding doors, momentarily allowing in a cold gust.
Wearing a thick scarlet coat and a woolen beanie, Itoll stared anxiously out the window. The temperature readout displayed -36º.
Azi'skar had tried, in very blunt words, to talk him out of visiting Sey'les. Now Itoll half-wished he had waited until the polar spring.
A white furred Bothan female wearing a black coat entered the spaceport. Something was vaguely familiar about her face.
"Itoll!" Sey'les growled impatiently. "Safyan is waiting in the speeder!"
"Se—Sey'les?" Itoll stammered, sniffing the air.
"Oh yeah," Sey'les growled thoughtfully, looking up at the ceiling as cold wind gusted into the spaceport luggage area as she stood in the open doorway. "I uh… Yeah the Spy—They shaved me and painted me with all of these strange letters. I dyed over them though with white and—"
—Itoll stepped forward, embracing Sey'les in a tight hug.
Sey'les grunted in surprise, then hugged back. "I'm all right, but—"
"—I didn't mean to just leave you on Coruscant," Itoll croaked.
Sey'les looked up, blinking as she stared into his heterochromatic eyes. "You had no way of knowing the Jedi would just release me to the first Bothans who asked."
"No," Itoll sighed. "I didn't. And I didn't even realise I was in danger till Shidar—"
"—Ghįn-zųgą wų!" ["MOVE!"] a security guard snarled, shooing them away. "Zįmųyą wų kųrn phųphųmųnt!" ["You are making the entrance cold!"]
A honking noise blared from outside.
Itoll felt a tug at his hand, then allowed Sey'les to pull him by the hand into the freezing air.
Sey'les yanked him along until they arrived at a lime green speeder van. She let go of his hand, opened the rear door for him, then hopped into the front passenger seat.
Itoll stooped into one of the back rows of seats, taking off his backpack.
"Hi! I am Safyan Sey'les," growled an ashy-furred Bothan female in an extremely thick accent. She bore a strong resemblance to Sey'les but had a noticeably longer and pointier snout.
"Homelo. Erz-dosk za, kita mu yov." [It is nice to meet you,"] Itoll replied politely.
"He sounds just like one of Dome Heads with that accent!" Safyan squealed excitedly. "Sey'les, you didn't tell me Itoll was… That you were…"
"We're not," Sey'les groaned, fur swirling with embarrassment.
Itoll's own fur swirled with embarrassment at being compared to the popular Botha'ahir band, the Dome Heads.
"Well you only just recently popped back into our lives," Safyan stammered defensively. "I have no idea what you have been doing… Doing with your life. It's also not big deal, Itoll. I have to pick up kids from school in twenty. So, you worked with Sey'les?"
Itoll sighed, looking out the window. "Yes. She was my commanding officer until last week. Thanks for picking me up."
"I see," Safyan muttered aloud, steering the wheel to the right. The speeder hovered over the snow as it exited the spaceport departures lane. "So it was forbidden for you to have relationship while you were both in service?"
"Yes," Sey'les snarled. "Let's just leave it at that!"
Itoll smirked to himself as he stared out the window at the snowdrifts. A second went by, then he found himself guffawing, unable to contain his laughter.
"Itoll! This is not funny! Safyan… Stop being so… So… Stop being so nosy!"
"Very well," Safyan growled wryly. "Little sister."
"I'm sorry," Itoll panted, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes. "You're right. It's not funny. And I am sorry about Wulf. Have you heard anything?"
"Wulf? Who is Wulf?" Safyan asked, ears perked up.
Itoll cringed, wincing at his stupidity. His fur swirled nervously as Sey'les looked like she was about to explode with anger. "He's uh—I don't think Sey'les—Lir," Itoll corrected himself. "I don't think Lir is ready to talk about him. Sorry Lir. Well, let's talk about my life."
"Okay," Safyan agreed. "How is your life?"
"High Councillor Azi'skar did not want me to visit you Sey'les. He said um… Yeah," Itoll gulped, looking at Sey'les who had gone silent. "Maybe we should talk about my life somewhere more private?"
"Yeah, there's a place right on the side of the… Safyan, could I borrow like… 15 Zav?" Sey'les asked. "You can add it to my tab."
"Sey'les, I can pay," Itoll insisted.
"Oh what a gentleman," Safyan yipped. "My little sister is on date!"
Sey'les scowled at her. "Itoll, it's really not a big deal."
Itoll chuckled to himself, then scratched the back of his neck. "Uh Sey'les, I can pay. I am kinda a millionaire."
"WHAT?!" Sey'les snarled, grasping the side of Safyan's chair as she spun around. She sniffed the air furiously, as if expecting to smell piles of credit chips.
After five minutes of zipping through the narrow streets of Ashnenvisk, Safyan dropped Sey'les and Itoll off in front of a roadhouse diner. Itoll and Sey'les stepped inside and were quickly seated at a booth and given drinks.
"So yes, as it turns out," Itoll paused, gulping down a sip of caf. Feeling the warmth of the beverage permeate through his body he smiled contently, then opened his eyes. "So, as it turns out the Galactic Republic takes money laundering seriously."
"I don't understand," Sey'les sighed despondently. "The Republic froze all my assets. All of the money Trajan gave me—it's frozen."
A stupid joke involving freezing and cold popped into Itoll's head, but he suppressed it. "You know, it is possible to deposit money into a Bothan bank account right?"
"It—They couldn't freeze your assets because you put them off-world!" Sey'les gasped. Then she snarled, fur standing on end. "HOW DID YOU KNOW?!"
"I didn't!" Itoll yelped defensively. "I was mostly just putting my money in my Bothan accounts because the Republic credit was devaluing so much. I didn't want my money to become nothing, you know? Then Jazal sent me her crap and… Shtak." And now I am wanted for money laundering because Jazal misappropriated millions of credits and gave them to me.
"You can never go back then," Sey'les muttered. "I mean… Never leave Bothan space."
"At least not until this messy business gets cleared up, no," Itoll agreed in a hushed voice. "You're not faring any better though."
Sey'les rubbed her hand over the side of her snout. "No. But things will turn around. Veryk is looking out for me."
Itoll's ears perked up. "Veryk… Who is Veryk?"
An ashy furred waitress stepped up beside their table, shorter and much older than Sey'les, with her mane arranged in pigtails. "Erz-beritask wu sa korn orda uswu?" ["Are you ready to make an order?"]
Once again seated in the back of Safyan's speeder van, this time Itoll found himself surrounded by children. Not one, not two, not three, but seven loud ashy-furred children. All Sey'les's nieces and nephews—as it so happened, Safyan had a ridiculous quantity of children.
Yet, Itoll's mind was anywhere but his surroundings. He wracked his mind as he tried to recall an exact Caamasi expression. To see the face of god is to see madness. Or is it… To know the face of god is to know madness?
Either way, Sey'les's recount of events was disturbing from start to finish. The Spynet had tied her up, hooked electrodes to her, clearly intended to allow someone they called 'my Lord' to transfer his consciousness into her body. After all that, one of Sey'les's clan's prophets appeared—Veryk, who has the form of a purple Savrit cat (Savrits, which are members of Bothawui's Viverridae family of mammals).
And now Sey'les does not believe in the Bothan Way anymore, but is a believer of her Clan's polytheistic folk religion. "Huh," Itoll said aloud.
"ITOLL!" Sey'les snarled insistently. "ITOLL OC'SKAR! YOU KRIFFING ASKAR—ITOLL HELLO? ARE YOU THERE?"
The children seated all around Itoll gasped in horror and shock, some covering their ears.
"Language!" Safyan yelped indignantly. "Lir, I really cannot have you swearing in front of the children!"
"I am sorry!" Sey'les stammered. "Sorry kids, I really—"
"—It's my fault," Itoll interjected. "Sey'les—Lir, what is it?"
"You said Azi'skar was on Botha'ahir, Safyan wanted to know why you weren't there with him. It's your home. You could come see me on the way back, right?"
"Right," Itoll agreed. "I wasn't… Well I… Huh." He blinked, licking his lips as he tried to focus on that issue. Why didn't I go? Well, it's not like I have to be anywhere. I don't have a job or anything.
"What is this Azi'skar doing on Botha'ahir?" Safyan asked.
"I… I guess he's representing Clan Askar as the High Councilor or something," Itoll growled lamely, not sure himself what Azi'skar was doing on Botha'ahir right now.
Most Spynet operatives with at least half a brain knew Garmr could not possibly be the demon Garmr—the Bothan Force Hound who worked for the Rakatans, locating force rich worlds for the aggressive invaders more than 25,000 years ago.
For one, every consciousness transfer has some entropy. 25,000 years, with each host living an optimistic 100 years, would require 250 consciousness transfers. Additionally, the Kaminoan cloning technology to create hosts for Garmr was developed within the last thousand years.
What no living Bothan knew, however, was that Garmr's homeworld was Botha'ahir. Two centuries ago, the son of a spy, a force-sensitive agent of Botha'ahir's Ministry of State Security defected to Bothawui. He took with him a trove of secrets to the growing Bothan Spynet.
Years later, while on a mission to Ando, Garmr was shot down over Leritor where he happened upon Rakatan ruins, which showed him the location of an underwater Rakatan city. After locating the city, Garmr exploited the myth of Garmr, Force Hounds, and Gnipahellir, to instill terror over the locals.
During his time with the Spynet, Garmr had been all over the Galaxy, slaughtering disloyal Spynet operatives or Spynet operatives who knew too much. Never though, had he returned to his birthplace.
If I am Garmr, Garmr thought to himself. While the planet looked familiar, nothing about the rusty red surface felt familiar. Even on the surface, in a dome, it felt completely alien.
Sey'les killed me, Garmr thought again to himself. I am a completely different being who just has his memories.
"My Lord," Vruj asked, "would you like us to provide security?"
Grumpily, Garmr stared at the two Sauvax. "We are on my home world. No one will harm us. I just want you to accompany me and look intimidating.
"Yes, my Lord," they answered in unison, standing up from their seats.
As Luugor and Vruj pushed his wheelchair down the ramp, Garmr paused, looking at his surroundings.
Unusually in Dome 53, in the distance was a red mountain covered in trees. Mount Vazul was the largest nature area on Botha'ahir and also, secretly, housed the headquarters of what was formerly Botha'ahir's War Council. Providing a breathable atmosphere, the Dome surrounded the mountain and the towns at its foothills.
The crustaceans stood behind Garmr, their feet clicking on the ground as they tottered about nervously.
"What do you think about my home?" Garmr asked.
Eyestalks watering slightly, Vruj and Luugor exchanged terrified looks. This was their first time offworld.
"It looks… Hellish," Luugor answered.
"Yes," Vruj added. "Hellish, and yet somehow ethereal my Lord."
"Ethereal?" Garmr snorted.
"The sky… It looks so fragile," Vruj explained, gesturing to the dust-covered dome above with a claw.
As the Sauvax marvelled for a moment at the dome, a Botha'ahir military speeder hovered up to them. A Bothan hopped out wearing a tan and brown uniform, giving Garmr a salute.
"Sir, I have been ordered to give you a lift to the Mount Vazul complex."
Once again, after a walk, Gavin Azi'skar found himself seated at the sabaac-looking table in the middle of the ridiculously huge war room. Today, a visitor would be meeting with them—a visitor whose identity had not been disclosed.
"Do you really think this visitor can guarantee Spynet sharing again?" Azi'skar asked Admiral Ton'lek incredulously.
"We cannot be certain of anything High Councillor, yet I have a good feeling about this."
"I don't," snarled General Lyn'nel. Her tan and black fur stood up on end as she waved angrily to the projectors. "We are allowing Reaper to see all of our facilities!"
Azi'skar smirked to himself. The idea that the Spynet was unaware of the location of the Spacer Coalition's War Council was completely absurd. Azi'skar opened his snout to retort, then closed it. His ears perked up as the sound of poorly-greased squeaky wheels echoed off the walls.
Two huge aliens of a crustacean species pushed a pale white furred Bothan wearing a black cloak.
Azi'skar recognised him, and the figures painted on his body, from the failed consciousness transfer video. So Lir Sey'les didn't kill him… She just put him in a wheelchair. Interesting.
A Botha'ahir Marine led the procession, stopping in front of the massive sabaac card-shaped table. "Allow me to introduce Garmr, Director of the Spynet's Reaper."
"Thank you," Garmr smiled.
Two Botha'ahir Naval Admirals scooted their chairs to the sides slightly, parting enough room for Garmr's wheelchair.
Once Garmr was pushed up to the table, he gestured for a lapel microphone. The moment one was clipped onto the front of his robes, he tapped it twice to test the sound, then began growling. "You have my attention now, Spacers. Your meddling in my affairs is now so frequent that you have my attention."
Azi'skar scoweled, regarding this Garmr. You would be a lot more intimidating if I didn't see an little Polar Tree Shrew-looking Bothan fry you. You would be a lot more intimidating if you weren't in a wheelchair. No Garmr, you are not intimidating. This is—
"—YOU DON'T INTIMIDATE US!" General Lyn'nel yelped, her fur flat in fear. Garmr flashed his teeth.
Angry muttering erupted around the table. Most agreed with Lyn'nel, albeit, in less terrified tones.
Garmr elevated his voice, flashing the Spacer hand gesture for all is clear. "I am not here to frighten anyone."
Azi'skar frowned. A ripple of suspicion travelled up his back. Why does Garmr look… Is Garmr an Askar somehow? No—he doesn't smell Askar, but that could be a body other than his original.
"For once," Garmr sighed, "the Spacer Coalition can be of some use to one of our projects. Should you cooperate, the Spynet will agree to unconditional information sharing."
"Why is the information sharing conditional at all?" asked Logashisk Lon'tannen, Spacer Coalition Director of Geospatial Intelligence. "Why is it that you give Bothawui unconditional access, but not us?"
"Let's stop playing stupid," Garmr snarled. "I know one of you—Let's not use names—one of you hijacked my consciousness transfer technology and used it to assassinate a Republic Admiral at the Chancellor's Retreat!"
"We did no such thing!" an indignant voice yelped from somewhere in the background. Angry muttering once again drowned out everything.
Azi'skar's fur fell flat as Garmr stared at him. Okay okay… You said no names… No names, please no names.
"Someone also attacked a village on Krant, nearly starting a civil war in Bothan Space," Garmr continued. "And someone has been in communications with the Separatists, risking the Clone Wars spreading here!"
Hushed gasps erupted from around the table.
Azi'skar's fur now pressed tightly into his body. He was involved with all three of the chains of events Garmr had mentioned.
"But I can ignore all of that. No really—I can," Garmr reassured. "What I need is… Lugoor, could you pass the datacard to—Thank you."
The image of a Jedi Temple was projected over the centre of the table. At first it was blue and white, but then colour was progressively added to the image until it was clearly a Jedi Temple on Botha'ahir. Red dust stretched to the horizon and the faint glimmer of a transparisteel could be seen in the distance.
"The Spynet has been making progress towards the Ashla Initiative, to encourage the Republic to establish a Mid Rim Jedi Temple. If we build the temple, it will be all the easier."
Azi'skar finally gained the courage to speak up. "Why Botha'ahir? Why not Bothawui?" Or Thellus…
"It could be built on Bothawui," Garmr agreed, "but I thought you would all like for it to be right here on Botha'ahir. The important thing is for it to be in Bothan Space. This way, Bothan interests become Jedi interests..."
Azi'skar nodded, then realised Admiral Fe'nel was glaring at him. Fur standing on end, she mouthed the word "Bothawui?"
"Where is Itoll Oc'skar?" Garmr asked unexpectedly.
Azi'skar gulped. Garmr can't possibly expect me to let him kill Itoll in exchange for some information we can steal from the Spynet anyways. "Uh—Wha—What do you want with him? I won't allow you to kill him."
"My priorities have changed. Itoll has some knowledge of the Jedi, does he not?" Garmr asked inquisitively.
"Uh… Yes he does," Azi'skar answered, excitement suddenly flooding his voice. This completely crazy plan to build a Jedi temple now would involve Askars at the very centre. "Good." Garmr looked around the huge sabaac card-shaped table, as if checking to see if any of the Spacer Coalition Directors, High Councillors, Admirals, or Generals were giving any tells or clues to their hands.
Muttering erupted all around the table again. This time, however, the tone was optimistic and scheming, as opposed to nervous. Azi'skar now knew that the Spacer Coalition would be cooperating with the Spynet. Whether that meant they would be rewarded with essence transfer technology, or just merely information, he did not know.
Whatever the future held, it was certain to be exciting.