Chapter 40

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Aviri stared at the luminescent form of Rioka, Kashyyyk's most respected military commander, as the seven foot tall wookie growled and groaned. The tirade was getting old. Or maybe this long day wore her patience down. So many moving parts, hard to keep things under control.

 "All this scheming is disgraceful," Rioka continued, baring sharp teeth through fur-covered lips. "I prefer my rival to watch me tear her eyes out and see me crush them."

Aviri raised an eyebrow, confused by how someone could watch her own eyes be crushed after their removal. Perhaps the translation function was off. Regardless, Rioka's exaggerated sense of honor amused her. All the chest beating was lip service to old ways, traditions long since pushed aside in the intergalactic realpolitik.

Wookiees were one of the species Aviri least trusted. There was truth to the adage that a wookiee would shake on a truce only to stab you with the other hand.

She wished she could just get to the point with the wookiee, but they were notoriously touchy creatures, quick to anger, and quick to dismember. It was a reason why Aviri preferred holocalls. Honesty didn't prove to be life threatening. At least, not immediately.

"The 'scheming' is a necessary evil I suppose," Aviri said apologetically, "or have you forgotten the Republic's schemes? Is it too painful to remember the spies that infested Kashyyyk during the clone wars, recruited from your own people? Or perhaps the Republic military's lethal agent that destroyed your precious clones?"

"These wounds will never heal. Before us now is this act from the pygmies. Another reason to shove their noses in the pudu. They could not face us in arm's length, hiding behind their tall walls. Cowards with no honor."

"Wishing for old ways does not bring them back, General Rioka. You adjust to the new rules of the game and play within them, or you can... sit things out and see what happens. Our circumstances dictate caution. We need to... nurture the existing dissent in the Republic, not estrange them to our cause. And that takes time and strategy. Or have you forgotten the cost of brashness?"

Rioka winced. Bringing up the clone wars twice was a low blow. It was a painful remembrance to the wookiee people.

"This is something Adjooto understands," Aviri continued. "You might learn a few things from the speech we just heard him give."

Rioka roared angrily. "That hairless slop? Such lipflappings as his would never have roused the wookiee heart to climb and soar. Rodians waste their strength to whimper empty sounds, which ought to be used to strike with their claws." Or fists, Aviri knew what the wookiee meant, but the translation algorithms were poor and far too literal. "It has made them blubbery."

A neural chime let her know that Adjooto had walked into the Minuchi building, on his way to meet her. "You'll have to excuse me, General," she said. "Municipate Adjooto has returned from his... rousing speech, and needs to speak with me. I must attend him, that is, unless you'd like to join us."

She let out a loud puff of air that meant not a chance. "Dealing with the hairless snake is your job," she growled, showing her teeth. "Though I'll remain if you promise to crush his throat."

"Such... Pleasure must wait. The Municipate is not expendable yet."

"A pity," Rioka whined.

"Well then, give my regards to your son. I heard he has completed his training. You have my congratulations."

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