"If I may?" The Devaronian shuttle pilot spoke, his gutteral tone piercing Alen Na'Varro's concentration. The bearded man took a moment to respond, his gaze lingering on the icy landscape for a split second. The land rose from the sea sharply in this part of the world. Icy cliffs rose a hundred meters in places, the contrast with the choppy azure water below stark and proud. As the shuttle flew by, the Dark Jedi could see the cliffs on his left side, and the ice cold ocean on the other. It was beautiful. Home was beautiful. Eight hundred years, or thereabouts, and the sights still had not changed. So much for global warming, especially on a planet where frost still thawed on the ground during summer mornings, and one could see their breath easily even when the sun was at its zenith. That was Ascension. Beautiful, harsh and cold. That was home.
"Go ahead." Alen did not look back at the Devaronian; he merely watched the waves crash with futility against the ice rock wall of the continent of Corino. There were too many memories here. None bore thinking about in detail, if only for sanity's sake.
"Now is an odd time to come home." The bearded man sighed and looked over at the shuttle pilot now, noting his light red skin and shocking tooth to gum ratio. The man was curious enough, he supposed. But that was not out of the ordinary. Shuttle pilots were, in general, up in just about everyone's business. Perk of the job ... or curse, depending on one's singular perception. Alen looked back at the waves again, brow creasing with worry.
"Sometimes you just can't keep waiting." Eight hundred years. Heh. Alen appreciated that little joke, even if he was the only one in the shuttle who got it. A small smile crept up his face slowly as he continued to watch the waves. The Devaronian watched him for a second before shaking his head, almost imperceptibly, and turning back to the task at hand.
"You might want to hold onto something. There's always a chance the fly in could get a little hot."
"So that's why the fare was so steep?" The Devaronian shrugged, still concentrating on what was in front of him.
"Sometimes the military fires AA at us if we get to close to the no-fly zone. You humans, eh? So touchy." Well, Alen wasn't going to argue with that...
The Devaronian had managed to drop Alen in the city square without much incident. During the fly in, he had managed to get a good view of Ascension City, and to be truthful it was much as he had remembered it. Sure, all but a few of the buildings had changed, as progress rarely halts for an eight hundred year period. But the layout of the city remained extremely similar. There were two main, huge squares that dominated the ground-side level of the city. Alen stood in Ascension Square, which was the biggest public thoroughfare and was thoroughly dominated by protestors. Barricades manned by oddly-equipped protestors gave reasonable protection against raids by Hegemony forces, who dominated Government Square to the north. Government Square held all of the important, planet-wide central administration buildings from which all of the capital and its surrounds were run, and as such had the highest concentration of police and troops. But in general, though the protestors seemed disorganised and poorly equipped, they had sheer numbers on their side. The rebels held much of the ground-side level city, and he had no doubt that they held much of the undercity, which was carved into the sea-side cliffs and was the home to most of the Prolii who had taken to the streets in protest. But it seemed that they had not been able to pierce government defenses in weeks. Things were well and truly in the balance.
Things were in a momentary lull now, so Alen took the time to situate himself amongst the throngs of protestors. Ascension Square had the makings of a camp city, with men, women and children sitting and standing in large groups. Some chatted in low voices, some sang, some compared weapons, and in general things seemed quiet. Occasionally, Alen could hear the sounds of blasterfire to the north, and so he gradually made his way towards the northern-most barricade. He kept his eyes open, trying to figure out who was in charge and where they were situated, but so far, observation had told him nothing. So the Dark Jedi sought out some trouble. The northern end of the city was where he would most likely find it.