The Crowds are starting to leave Nimban now, as the Eight Uli-ah Gafsa Memorial Swap Meet has officially ended. This meet marked an increasing Jawa presense, as the Knights of the Fountain welcomed many of the members of Jawa Offworld Enterprises to the event, starting a potential shift into an even more culturally accurate Jawa influence into the event, which has been largely appropriated by the rest of the galaxy in the wake of the death of Gafsa.
As always, the racing events were central to the action at the meet, with a major surprise occurring. Jad Hep Viridux has been dominating the racing circuits for the last few years, on behalf of Black Sun Racing. His reign appears to have has ended, however. On the last few legs of the grueling inter-system Kreig’s Run course, Regulus Jagernat pulled a highly dangerous and risky maneuver, giving him a slim lead over the champ, which the Noghri fiercely held onto for a thrilling victory. Inya D’Azveris later defeated Jagernat and the rest of the field in the sub-light race called the Uli Time Trials. Owyn Darklighter rumbled his way over the local landscape and other competitors to victory in the Sandcrawler races, sponsored by Jic Uiji and the rest of the Jawa clans that attended.
Another major theme of the event seemed to be a fascination with balloons. Patrons of the event often appeared holding and admiring variety of balloons with different colors, designs and patterns. There was a booth at the meet, occasionally manned by an ewok, handing out commemorative balloons to every patron. One prankster even tied approximately two dozen red balloons to my personal transportation platform while I was dozing off after eating my fill one evening. I thought I might have seen the perpetrator, but I likely was dreaming, as I thought I saw a bear-shaped individual with the balloons. We asked one small Kushiban who seemed particularly enthralled by all the balloons why he thought they had become so popular. He replied, “Ewwybody woves bawwooooooons!” and hopped off trying to pounce upon a loose balloon that was blowing around along the ground to the whims of the breeze.
The Great Hunt, sponsored by Mando’ade was also a main event at the meet, and managed to provide more drama than just the thrills of the exploits of the competitors striving for glory. Eventual repeat champion Belloq Tull, a Whiphid from the Wraiths organization, was hounded by a troublemaker we have previously mentioned, rogue Jawa Bik N’Tal. Bik attempted to thwart the previous champion’s efforts to win, but his tampering failed to impact the results. His dishonorable attempt to meddle in the mayhem earned him a ban from Mando’ade on all future events, however.
Belloq Tull had lobbied the Mandalorian clans for the ban to be extended to all members of the Zann Consortium, whom he claimed paid Bik to interfere. Tull provided his evidence to Kai Oryk, the Mand’alor of Mando’ade, which the Whiphid claimed proved that the criminal government of Zann had backed the attempted dishonoring of the hunt. The Mand’alor, in reviewing the offered information, however, did not believe the evidence was conclusive enough, and did not extend the ban.
Shili Free Press was provided some, but not all, of the evidence provided by Tull and investigated a bit more beyond what was provided. Although Zann denies involvement, the evidence we were provided does make it seem likely that at least a single member of the Zann inner circle was attempting to sew discord during the event, specifically targeted at Tull. It is possible that the other members of Zann participating in the event were not aware of the efforts, as the specific Zann members implicated in the meddling were not participants. Unfortunately, the evidence we uncovered could not be independently verified, yet. So, although it looks damning, and it is likely that someone in Zann was central to the plot, we cannot rule out that the evidence was faked as an attempt to frame Zann.
The intrigue surrounding the payments made to sabotage the hunt, however, were quickly replaced in the news cycle by other major news spreading across the galaxy. The planet Jakku, a legend whose existence had been assumed but not confirmed for some time, had finally been located by interstellar scouts. The previously mysterious system is allegedly the source of a boxy and utilitarian speeder design that was popular decades ago along the outskirts of the mid and outer rim due to its low-cost to own, operate, and maintain. As the word of its location began leaking out, a gold rush of sorts has begun to claim what riches the system might offer. Individuals and governments racing to be the first to see its sights and raid its resources.
With this mad rush, we assume that this abrupt re-introduction to the galaxy will go poorly, much like it did for the people of the Hosnian System, as the first to arrive will likely be greedy profiteers, followed by government controllers seeking first to solidify control, before worrying about the effects. This will likely cause severe damage to the landscape and native populations for generations, not to mention the potential for violence between the greedy on-rushers. We at Shili Free Press wish the residents of Jakku the best to weather the upcoming storm and are heading to Jakku to report live from the newly found system as soon as we are able.
Until then, this is Lahasa Fy for Shili Free Press, wishing everyone safe travels home from the meet, and hoping everyone stays safe out there.