Merlidan could have cursed herself as her the toe of her boot came into contact with an empty soda can. The telltale tink tink gave away her presence to the Jedi. He turned and seemed less than surprised.
“Why hello there,” he said pleasantly.
Merlidan gave a slight smile in greeting, anything more than that was seen as insincere and sarcastic by the general population of Balkest. “Are you on your way to the offices?” Merlidan asked as she pointed to the looming skull-white building at the end of the block.
“I’m on my way to see Trask Heyurk,” he replied simply.
“Ah,” Merlidan commented, “Well you’re heading in the right direction.”
The Jedi gave a cordial nod of acknowledgement.
Merlidan let out a sigh. “I’m on my way there too; I assume by your attire that you’re the Jedi sent to negotiate peace between the colonists here.”
Again the Jedi gave a nod, “Yes I am Jedi Master Genn Ostace.”
“Oh a Jedi Master, aren’t we lucky,” Merlidan commented dryly. “I’m Merlidan Alsk, Procurement Specialist for the company.”
Ostace seemed to take her opinions in stride and merely shook her hand in a firm yet positive grip. “I can already see that there is animosity in this region that will be… difficult to diffuse.”
“You have no idea,” Merlidan muttered as they continued their way to the office.
“So,” the Jedi started, “As a member of the general public, what do you see as the main contributing factors of this conflict?”
Merlidan raised a brow, so he was pumping her for information, how novel. “People come to new worlds looking for a new way of life, a fresh start, a dream of paradise. When things aren’t what they thought they’d be, well then people tend to get a little antsy.”
Merlidan paused for a moment and watched as the evening shadows turned darker with each moment. “Most of the human colonists threw in their lot to come out here. They have a substantial debt and if they did pack up and leave it’d just make it two or three fold higher. In essence a lot of colonists feel trapped here and lash out at those around them. The arrival of the Kubaz became and easy target for that anger.”
Ostace seemed to be mulling over what she had said. She could almost hear the cogs of his mind turning over the information she’d just revealed.
They arrived at the office entry and Merlidan almost jumped as Ostace spoke. “Do you think other factors could be involved, say the environment?”
Merlidan studied the Jedi’s face intently for a moment. His features divulged nothing of what he might be thinking. “It’s hard to say,” she told as she tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. She felt awkward with her next words. “Over time I hadn’t notice the oppressive atmosphere, it was just constantly there. Yet when I came within a certain radius of your presence I felt a tranquility that had been lost to me for some time.”
The corner of Ostace’s lip twitched upward, “Interesting.”
Merlidan retrieved her access card and swiped it through the reader. She kept her head down, feeling somewhat embarrassed by her confession. The doors slid open and Merlidan led the way into the brightly lit foyer. “You’ll need to speak to Moyra, she’s at the Reception desk.”
Merlidan turned to leave but the Jedi caught her elbow with a large hand. “Thank you, Merlidan. I appreciate what you’ve told me.”
Merlidan flinched at his words. Moyra was no doubt listening and dying to relay whatever she perceived the gossip to be. “I need to get some work done,” Merlidan said as she slipped free and avoided eye contact with the Jedi. She had a payment to process.