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CHAPTER 1:

HISTORY

OF

KALANDAR

***

The Old Times

The origins of Kalandar go back a long time, back to the past centuries of Coruscant's long and complex history: the still existing ruins date approximately from 10,000 years at least, but it is hard to say precisely if underneath there are even older ruins hidden or if the method of dating is reliable.

The recent find of a poem in the ancient idiom of Coruscant, Dha Vherda Wherda, in which the verses seem to be written in a language quite similar to the one engraved on many of the ruins, bring to believe that Kalandar even dates back to Coruscant's prehistory, when it was inhabited by the planet's natives and had not yet been elected to capital of the Republic, but the most authoritative scholars are careful in confirming this assumption.

A more sinister theory says that Kalandar was instead built by obscure forces of the Sith Empire during Naga Sadow's attack on Coruscant. (Circa 5,000 years pre-Empire). After the Sith forces' defeat on Coruscant, a group of Naga Sadow's army retreated to a distant area of the planet razing to the ground the existing Republic structures opposing resistance for many months before the combined forces of the Republic and the Jedi Knights definitively wiped them out. But this theory too does not fully convince scholars as they all agree that the ruins of Kalandar predate Naga Sadow's invasion but this version does at least partially contribute to explain the presence of certain alarming findings that are rumored to be found in the area, along with the sinister reputation that surrounds some corners of the region.

Whatever the real origin is Kalandar is, one thing is sure: it is present in the planet's history since the origin of Coruscant and it is also considered an important and fascinating area up to the point after the Fall of the Sith Empire when the Republic decided to choose Kalandar for a very special project.

The Origin of the Gardens of Coruscant

Immediately after the fall of the Sith Empire, the Republic began a period of prosperity and tranquillity: with the threat of Naga Sadow eliminated the galaxy feels a strong need to celebrate the victory achieved and to exalt the power of the Republic and the Jedi Knights.

It's therefore easy to imagine that both the members of the Republic Senate and the Jedi Knights were fascinated by the Kalandar region and its stately and majestic buildings and stone temples, as well as its wild and still uncontaminated nature when they had to choose where to pose the foundations of their most magnificent project: the Gardens of Coruscant.

Immediately after Naga Sadow's fall, Coruscant, as almost all of the other planets of the Republic, experienced a period of great prosperity and growth. The planet itself, greatly covered by hundreds and hundreds of square kilometers of plastisteel and metal, is protagonist of a indisputable expansionism boom and thus begins that process that will transform it in the totally enveloped planet with multilevels of buildings and continental districts that it is today.

And because of the increasing expansion, the Republic's Senate began to worry about preserving some regions of the planet where its people may still find a functioning ecosystem and natural scenery. One of these projects, and actually the most opulent and publicized, was the one that saw the region of Kalandar transformed into the Garden of Coruscant.

At the time of the first Republican government intervention, Kalandar was still almost unchanged in respect to its condition in the old days. A region comprised of approx. 300 km square wide is an expanse of undulating hills and forests amongst which rise abandoned old cities and austere temples and buildings in stern gray stone. Already protected and preserved by numerous decrees that raise it's importance as an archeological site and that preserved it intact during the past centuries, Kalandar goes from digging and study site to Republican galactic monument.

Under careful eye of a select group of Jedi Knights who permanently settled themselves in Kalandar, begins an operation that will transform it into one of the wonders of the Galaxy. Buildings and temples partially buried or crumbling down are meticulously restored. New trees and new forest areas are sowed, the most intricate woodlands are tamed and the region is even repopulated with wildlife.

Soon the region rises to such levels of splendor that it had not seen probably even during the old days of its original foundation. The extinct water-courses are reconveyed and reactivated. And the gardens - a perfect harmony of nature and monuments - open their doors to visitors from Coruscant, amazed to find themselves amongst forests, hills and temples just a few hours after leaving behind them the splendor of the Republican Capital.

While the rest of the planet continues it's hectic expansion, Kalandar's fame grows: tourist ships in the atmosphere point to the small green patch that stands out in the bright and aseptic surface of the northern hemisphere of the planet. The Gardens of Coruscant become one of the wonders of the Galaxy and the Republican Senate's pride.

The Golden Age of Kalandar

In the following centuries, Kalandar is exactly what its creators hoped it would be: the capital's garden. A quiet and solemn region where the planet's inhabitants could find an environment that elsewhere was growing meager and immerse themselves in hills and woodlands or gaze upon the ancient villages and forget the frantic and excitable city lifestyle in which the rest of the planet was. For those walking amid the hills of Kalandar, it was quite common to see Jedi Masters, senators and noblemen walking among statues and columns or on top of one of the highest mountains in contemplation of the landscape below. To the Republic's honor it must be said that the modification of the area into the planet's gardens was done in total respect of the land's archeology integrity: no new building was constructed and the ancient ones were restored and made safe according to the exact instructions of the scholars and experts of the region. Even the natural interventions were done with care, aimed exclusively to rebuild the region's natural habitat as accurately as possible and prohibiting changes or additions of any type. One of the few real additions done during the Republic's era was the placing of the Statue of the Force, a monument that the Republic wanted to erect in honor to the Jedi Knights on one of the eastern hills of the region.

The Arrival of the Empire

When the Old Republic collapsed, worn out by bureaucracy and corruption, in its place arose the New Order: Senator Palpatine came to power and proclaimed himself Emperor.

It was the Empire's politics to leave a sign as tangible as possible wherever it's hand could touch especially where there were still signs of past Republican remains. Coruscant itself went through swift sudden and extreme changes: buildings, monuments, historic and cultural sites were absorbed in the New Order's mechanism: they emerged transformed and claimed for the Emperor's glory or more simply, destroyed. The history of the architectural and urban crimes operated in Coruscant by the Imperial propaganda machine is long and complex so such disquisition is deferred to later. Suffice it to say that no place whatever on the planet was saved by the renovation frantic. Not even Kalandar.

But with Kalandar Imperial bureaucrats found themselves puzzled. The gardens of Coruscant were one of the wonders of the Galaxy, and the inhabitants hardly would have tolerated their destruction. But neither would the Emperor have tolerated their existence undisturbed, a symbol and a glowing example of the Republic's and the Jedi knighthood's glory.

The Emperor, as in many other occasions, moved swiftly and cleverly. After having reassured both the few inhabitants of the zone and those of the planet that the gardens would not be touched, he started secretly redirecting the funds set up for the maintenance and sustenance of the region. Bureaucratic hindrances and legal obstacles did the rest and soon Kalandar started to suffer because of bad management and shortages: without maintenance and adequate supportive structures the temples and the ancient ruins began to be unsafe. The hills and forests were growing in an unkempt and intricate way without personnel to look after it. Delays and breakdowns in the water drainage, waste- and energy-system plants did the rest. And the people would protest because of Kalandar's sudden illness. "Delays accumulated by the Republic's bad administration" was the official reply of the Imperial Court. "We are working to repair the damages inflicted" the court dignitaries would declare... immediately before going to check that Kalandar's agony would continue.

Once that the situation was sufficiently serious the Emperor offered the perfect solution for those who wanted the region restored to its original splendor: Kalandar was to be sold off. Private citizens who would supply funds and prompt intervention that the Senate could not guarantee anymore would take the supervision.

In writing, precise guarantee was given on the fact that such private citizens would have to follow the same rules in force during Republic times: the obligation on the maintenance of the existing structures, of the area's original habitat, etc.; but in reality Palpatine was working on the exact contrary.

Playing on many ambitious representatives of the newly born New Order, Kalandar was presented as a glamorous area where to live: where would be the best base for those of the Imperial Úlite if not in the area that was once the famous Republican gardens? The fever carefully orchestrated at court and at the business circles, rapidly spread. Soon all those representatives wanted a piece of Kalandar. And the Imperial court was more than happy to close an eye, and perhaps both, on the many and repeated infractions that were being effected against the region's protection decrees. The temples were transformed in luxury residences for the powerful. The old villages in meeting and relaxation centers for the aristocracy and the young. Acres of woodland were cut down "to clean out the land of those trees growing out of control". Metal was inserted on the stone and so the slow and fatal erosion of Kalandar had begun.

When Kalandar was sufficiently devastated that it was but a feeble memory of what it once was, the Emperor considered himself satisfied. Woodlands, hills and stone buildings were still there but they were a sad version of the gardens they used to be. Metal and plastisteel tubes were tearing into the sides of castles and palaces. Antennas and transmitters were placed on top of towers and walls. Landing platforms and maintenance tanks were ripping out the woodland and the hillsides.

Manipulated once again by a court fashion, the rich and powerful soon got tired of Kalandar. Some remained but many left for new destinations leaving behind them a ruined and tortured land. The strange tangle of greenery, stone and technology had nothing whatsoever to do with the magnificent republican planetary gardens. Satisfied with having corrupted from the inside one of the last Republican symbols, Palpatine turned his attention to another of his never-ending projects and paid the region no more attention.

Kalandar Today

Little or nothing has changed for Kalandar during the last years. The few visitors that go there today, together by being amazed at finding themselves in the open air at just a short distance from the Imperial Center, only feel a sense of annoyance and discomfort. Nobody looks after the region anymore or worries about what happens to it, and just the sight of the carbon freezing ducts that cover the villages' old access pillars are more than enough to dissuade them from moving on. The air, though relatively clean, is becoming ruined by the pollution that afflicts the rest of the planet, since many of the purifiers that would have kept it crystal clean are broken or have been dismantled by looters.

Kalandar today is still green, with its hills and forests but they are zones where the plant life has grown wild and harsh, or else weary and feeble. Furthermore the areas where the countryside was not corrupted by the many settlements that the Imperial fever had caused are rare.

Villages and buildings abandoned by the Imperial Úlite now belong to small business-men or investors who thought they were getting a real bargain without knowing that the Empire had already decreed the region's death, or to the underprivileged and outcasts that now can buy land and buildings for a handful of credits. Then there are the refugees, bandits, or unpleasant beings that have found shelter among the ruins: many buildings were abandoned and are unused and nobody claims them.

The Spirit of Kalandar

In any case, even if a Republican of the old days would feel broken-hearted at the sight of Kalandar today, the region is not totally destroyed and annihilated. Sick and suffering it is, even wounded and corrupted, but not yet dead. Even if electric and network plants bore into the stones of buildings, low quality holographic signs light up streets paved in stone and cooling liquids are released into the lakes between the hills, the region still retains a glimpse of it's past glory. The castles, temples and houses seem sad sleeping giants, but from their chiseled walls and stone arches still transpires a faint glow of it's past magnificence. Stubbornly grass and vegetation still manage to grow between the metal plates of the landing strips and an odd climate with many storms and sudden changes of temperatures and pressure seems to make fun of the surrounding artificial climate devices.

Even among the social outcasts of Kalandar there are still those who care for the area's future. Some are nostalgic Republicans who perceived Palpatine's maneuvers and so quickly bought land when it went to sale. Even if it is too late to save the region they do their best possible to cure and preserve their properties as it used to be done. Even some Imperial aristocrats, once they bought the land, ended up falling in love with the region and did not follow the majority of the court that followed the fashions maneuvered from above. Though still remaining loyal supporters of the Empire, they are careful that their property remains clean and untouched.

But these are happy islands in a sea that continues slowly and unrelentingly to be polluted and corrupted. Moral and environmental corruption goes hand in hand. The more the surroundings of Kalandar become unpleasant, the more the area attracts unwelcome beings. Because for outlaws, bandits and subversives, Kalandar is a good place where to lose their tracks. There is a small detachment of local Imperial troops, but it is more of a punishment for the trooper that is sent there than an actual control on the zone.

Paradoxically the unwanted elements of the Empire and those searched by them are usually people with a strong will and honest moral: Rebels, political persecutes, deserters and non-violent protesters. If you scratch off Kalandar's harsh surface, and avoid the real criminals nevertheless present, it is easier than what is thought to find persons that are better than what appearances show.

Back to Kalandar Main

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