It hadn’t taken Votara and Felnen long to find an apartment to share. It was a small place, one bedroom and one kitchen/dining room/living room. It wasn’t much, but it was cheap and it was close to the terminal where the shuttles went to and from the mines. Besides, as former soldiers, Votara and Felnen were used to living in rough circumstances.
Despite being roommates, Votara still wasn’t entirely sure where Felnen stood. He assumed that the apartment was bugged, so he didn’t dare talk about his plans there. He wanted to know more about how the Imperial authorities were watching him before he attempted to bring up his plans with Felnen again. The Empire might not be overly concerned about him at the moment, but they would airlock him in a heartbeat if they knew what he was planning.
The next step was to get a job. Votara had no idea how long it would take for him to carry out the first step of his plan, and 1500 credits wouldn’t last him very long. So he needed a way to make money in the meantime. Working in the mines didn’t seem like a very appealing option, but again, as a former soldier, he was used to hardship, and mining couldn’t possibly be more difficult than fighting in a war.
There were three different mining companies operating on Yebifar. Imperial Minerals Trust was the largest, and was owned by the Imperial government. Zonamisk Industries was the largest privately owned mining corporation in the galaxy, and had a stake in Yebifar almost as large as IMT. The third was Yebifar Minerals, and it was this company that Votara was most interested in working for. IMT and Zonamisk had strong ties to the Imperial core, and were likely to be crawling with Imperial agents. Yebifar Minerals was a locally owned company, and Votara suspected that there would be less Imperial infiltration there, and perhaps more independent-minded co-workers who might be sympathetic to his plans.
Getting a job with YM proved to be a simple affair. As they were so much smaller than their gargantuan competitors, YM couldn’t pay nearly as well, and they had trouble attracting new miners who came to Yebifar from off-world. Votara and Felnen were hired practically on the spot, despite their former Nether affiliation and their complete lack of mining experience.
As Votara had suspected, mining was a pretty unpleasant job, but no worse than being hunkered down in a bunker with enemy soldiers trying to kill you. The foreman of the crew that they were assigned to was fairly annoyed to get stuck with a couple of inexperienced workers, but Votara and Felnen had been good soldiers and were used to following orders, so they caught on quickly. They were somewhat shunned by their co-workers at first, on account of their former affiliation, but the Yebifarians didn’t have a great deal of affection for the Empire either, and Votara and Felnen were hard workers and affable companions, and so the other miners quickly got over their initial apprehensions.
Part of Votara felt like he could get used to this new life. Mining was hard work, but even YM paid fairly well, and it gave him something to do. He liked his co-workers, and he enjoyed living with Felnen. But as nice as this life was, it wasn’t enough for him. He knew he had a mission to carry out. He had sworn an oath, and he kept his promises. So he kept his head down and went to work every day, but he also kept his eyes and ears open for signs of Imperial surveillance.
He still wasn’t confident enough in his knowledge of who was watching and/or listening to tell Felnen more about his plan. And Felnen had given him no hints one way or another about whether he was sympathetic to what little Votara had told him in that pub on their first day on Yebifar. Votara didn’t dare say anything unless he was 100 percent sure that no Imperial spies were going to hear what he had to say. And then one day, he had his chance.
Votara, Felnen, and one other man named Trel Solum were working in a deep part of one of the newest mines operated by YM. They were told that the floor of the shaft that they were in was unstable, so they were working with extra caution, but the floor caved in underneath them anyway. They fell nearly 100 feet, but the protective gear they were wearing cushioned their fall so that they survived with minimal injury. Their communication equipment was undamaged as well, so they were able to contact their foreman and tell him what happened. The foreman assured them that they would be rescued as soon as possible, but that it might be several hours before the necessary equipment could reach them. So they settled back to wait.
The presence of Solum was a bit of a problem, but Votara was fairly confident that Solum would be amenable to his ideas. Solum often talked loudly and at length about how rotten and corrupt the Empire was, and how he wished the leaders of Yebifar had the guts to secede. Unfortunately, Solum also had a lot to say about what fools the Nether had been. But Votara was hopeful that Solum’s anti-Imperial sentiments would overcome that.
Votara sat down on a large boulder, with Felnen and Solum sprawled out across from him. Votara looked at both of them for a long time, trying to work out exactly what he wanted to say. But before he could, Solum broke the silence.
“Hey, Wel,” he said with a smirk, “What are you staring at us like that for? Trying to figure out which of us you’re gonna eat first?” Votara started, and then took a deep breath.
“Actually,” he began, “I’m about to share an idea with the two of you. An idea that will change the course of the rest of our lives. An idea that will break the galaxy and reforge it into something purer and more worthy of our loyalty. Are you interested?”
To be continued…