QI’RA: Chapter Thirty-Four

The Meeting

Nienye stood in the lobby of the building the Imperial Captain had offered them to stay in during their visit to Coruscant, his gaze roaming the throng of individuals walking through the area to their various destinations.

He fixed the high collar of his dark blue and golden tunic, an especially fancy garment that was more fit for nighttime life rather than going to the Senate Building. But he wanted to make an impression on the political figures of the Empire, considering that he may never get the chance to be in the presence of such powerful people again.

I will make you a powerful man, Maul’s voice resided in his head.

Nienye’s jaw clenched. And then he saw her, flanked by T-38 as always. Qi’ra was walking toward him, resplendent in a sweeping black robe that parted at the waist, revealing her black pants and leather boots. The robe was of a light material so it flowed behind her like a cape as she walked. Its collar was sharp and high, lined with gold which added a pop of color to the dark outfit. Her hair falling to her shoulders in shimmering curls, sat beneath a golden headdress that was simply stunning.

Nienye’s mouth gaped as she approached as he found himself utterly transfixed by her beauty. When she saw him she smiled.

“Judging from your expression my goal to be a head-turner has paid off,” she said.

He nodded. “You look beautiful.”

She averted her gaze, her cheeks reddening. His gaze flitted from her to a subtly disapproving T-38. He cleared his throat, quickly looking away.

When he turned he found Captain Peer approaching, a large grin on his face as he beheld Qi’ra.

“Well, aren’t you the looker,” he said, grabbing her hand and gently kissing it.

Nienye’s fists clenched as he felt a flash of anger course through him. This captain with his blond hair and handsome features was clearly taken by Qi’ra and Nienye wasn’t happy about it. He wanted to give the man a piece of his mind but he had to stay professional. If he wasn’t Qi’ra’s top lieutenant though they would have definitely had some words.

As if sensing Nienye’s discomfort Qi’ra said, “Well, let’s go find Moff Arnim.”

Qi’ra had never been to a Senate meeting before, in fact, it had never been high on her list of things she wanted to do, but now as she sat on one of the hundreds of viewing platforms, she had never been more impressed by what she was seeing.

In every viewing platform sat senators or a ruler of a planet and their advisors. And each person was so individually different. It was a mass of species and native garments mixed with their particular reactions and languages that it left Qi’ra stunned into wide-eyed silence.

And in the middle of this cavernous rotunda lined with so many people who helped shape the very fate of the galaxy, was the Emperor himself, standing atop a raised platform, flanked by a massive stern-faced brown-skinned man with dreadlocks tied back and dressed in a flamboyant robe with a feathery collar that framed his square head. And on the other side of the Emperor stood a bald woman with pale skin. Her frame was lost inside of a robe that was red as blood and had a collar that rose past her head.

The Emperor was clad in all-black, his face hidden within the darkness of his hood.

Even though Qi’ra could not see him there was a feeling coming over her just being in The Emperor’s presence. A chill that wasn’t created from the temperature in the room ran down her spine as her eyes lingered on the old man who she knew was the most powerful person in the galaxy.

“I can’t believe it’s him,” Nienye whispered in her ear.

Qi’ra’s jaw clenched in response.

The brown-skinned man spoke, his deep voice echoing powerfully through the senate.

“The Senate now recognizes Moff Arnim of Ellard,” he said.

Moff Arnim stood from his chair, his long black hair pulled up into three buns that were then connected by a single ivory rod. He was dressed in a fitting green and brown tunic beneath a green cloak that was covered in embroidered swirls made of shimmering black stones.

He pressed the button on the viewing platform’s console and Qi’ra’s stomach dropped as the viewing platform detached itself from the wall and moved through the air, stopping before the dais which of course brought them closer to The Emperor. Qi’ra couldn’t glean why suddenly her heart was beginning to pound in her chest.

“Emperor, I thank you once again for recognizing me at this meeting,” Moff Arnim began, his voice echoing throughout the chamber. He turned, looking at the hundreds of faces who were staring back at him before stopping his gaze on a trio of viewing platforms just across from them.

“As a Moff of this great Empire, I have done nothing but ensure this regime’s rule and to do that sometimes means having the minerals necessary to stave the rebellions of those who find ways to not understand what the Empire is giving all of us.” He turned his attention to The Emperor. “I have discovered a rare mineral on the Noad System. The Empire’s armies will be even stronger but I continue to find opposition in the hands of them.”

He pointed a long, slender finger at those in the trio of viewing platforms accusingly and the senators aboard those platforms simply stared back with scowls on their faces.

“They are trying to stop what can help The Empire,” Moff Arnim continued, “but today I have brought an ally who can help stop this futile obstruction.”

He turned, smiling proudly as he beckoned Qi’ra to stand. She abided by his command, her heartbeat quickening as she felt hundreds of eyes fall on her, including The Emperor’s.

“This is Qi’ra but you may know her best as the leader of Crimson Dawn,” Moff Arnim announced.

An audible gasp reverberated through the chamber as they beheld her. She raised her chin, making sure to look as powerful as possible.

“As leader of Crimson Dawn,” she began, “I take my partnerships very seriously and one such alliance is with The Empire. With the Noad System under Moff Arnim’s control, The Empire and Crimson Dawn can flourish. The Rebellion will be crushed as our new arsenal of weapons sweep over their pesky operations and the galaxy will know peace. That I can assure you.”

She looked at Moff Arnim’s political competitors. “So senators, stay in our way, and I will personally show you the might of Crimson Dawn as I did the rebels.”

There was a palpable sense of fear that reverberated through the chamber as Qi’ra returned to her seat. Apparently, Crimson Dawn’s ruthless reputation had spread and none of the systems gathered here today wanted to suffer the same fate as the rebels on Sector 647.

As Moff Arnim continued, building on her threat, T-38 looked at her with an approving smirk. “You’ve done well for Crimson Dawn.” Her expression turned serious. “Now get ready for the storm.”

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