Jedi Dreams (in total thus far): I posted, I swear 12/30/01!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction Stories--Classic JC Board (Reply-Only)' started by Alli-Wan, Jul 6, 2000.

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  1. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Dear All,

    Had been considering doing this for the past few days. Decided to finally repost all 227 pages (and counting) for three reasons.

    1. Keep losing the first thread.
    2. Annoyingly cannot fix cut off posts.
    3. Thought you'd like to actually read the older parts of the story.

    In any case, I am reposting everything thus far, but it has not been throughly edited. (More editing will take place before it is finally archived.) In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy this story, now conviently all in one place, and I thank you all for your continued feedback. --AWK
  2. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Jedi Dreams

    "Twing-twing-twing-twing-twing. Twing-twing-twing-twing-twing." The brave Jedi's lightsabre whipped through the air, driving back all his enemies. "Twing-twing-twing-twang-twing!" Another space pirate stepped forward grinning, thinking the Jedi did not see the one about pounce on his back. But the mighty Jedi saw him, oh yes. "Twing-Twang-TWANG." Instead of attacking the fool in front, he jabbed at the dark green Rodian pirate behind him (without the slightest backward glance). The Rodian dodged, but the his foolish friend was not so lucky. "Twing-twang-TWING!!" With lightning fast speed, amazing technique, pure poetry in mushroom (or something like that), the Jedi brought his lightsabre forward, slicing the pirate's blaster in half before his trigger finger had moved more than a wamp's hair. Knocking the
    Wookie (yes, this pirate was quite clearly a Wookie) aside, he ran on down the hall, fearless and brave. Alarm sirens rang throughout the ship, but the Jedi knight, no master, no, . . definitely knight, Axin Muse paid it no heed. Suddenly he found himself in the mess hall, . . and there she was. The Queen he had come all the way to the Outer Rim to save. The hopelessly fair, and wonderous. The pirates had taken away her fine clothes and jewels, but she was still the prettiest woman in the world.

    "QUEEN BAUBLE!! I am Axin Muse, JEDI KNIGHT! I'm here to save you from the dreaded space pirates!"

    "Oh thank you, oh mighty Jedi! But first please take these kitchen scraps out to the recycler."

    A jedi's chores were never done. Axin, the mighty Jedi, sighed. "Yes Mom."

    *******

    "HHHHiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiSSSSSSSSS" The mighty Jedi Axin Muse powered down his lightsabre, and picked up Queen Bauble's, . . . kitchen scraps. No, there really was no other way to describe them. He would just have to do his chores and save her from the dastardly pirates later. He ran out to the recycler, wondering if he could find anyone who needed saving along the way. After all, the recycler was all the way on the corner, four whole houses away! Who knows what could be lurking amongst the flowering trees and groundcars?

    Axin's ethusiasm was soon rewarded. Someone was hiding in the brael bushes in the house next door. Slowly, Axin put the kitchen scraps down, and crept toward the bush. Mumbling noises came from an unseen place quite near the ground, and the bush frequently wiggled, as if the person hiding inside were fidgeting. "Small wonder," thought Axin. "Brael bush leaves are more ticklish than quoola feathers." But there was no laughter coming from beneath the bush. Once or twice, Axin thought he heard a swear. The person hiding must have incredible control! But why were they hiding? Why were they swearing? Could they be, . . what was it, . . a Sip? That wasn't right, but Axin knew what he meant. Like in olden times, a dark Sip.

    Axin got closer. He gulped in fear. But no, he was a Jedi, a JEDI! No fear!

    "IDENTIFY YOURSELF!"

    "What the-" asked the bush. Suddenly, a giant figure erupted from the bush in a spray of fine brael leaves. It had no face. It had no skin. It towered over Axin, blocking out the sun.

    "AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Axin Muse, mighty Jedi, fell backwards on his rump, frozen in terror. The figure's head seemed to turn down toward him, though it was hard to tell. There wasn't even a nose. Suddenly, the figure reached up and yanked at its neck, as if to pull its own
    head off. Oh no! It WAS pulling off its own head. Somewhere, in the back of his head, Axin wondered if perhaps this would save him on lightsabre batteries. But, it didn't fall over, . .it, . . it had another head. It was, . . was, . . .

    "Mr. Gantos, amateur tree surgeon. Hello Axin. Out on a quest for space pirates again?"

    "Yes, sir. I thought you were an enemy, hiding in your bushes like that."

    "Only to the wamps Axin. They keep chewing the brael bush roots." The middle-aged man held up a few noticeably gnawed sprigs. "Didn't they teach you some sort of Jedi mind trick at that Temple to convince wamps that weeds are tastier th
  3. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3

    Abruptly, Axin looked up, wiping his nose. He hadn't been actually crying, but he was close. There was an older boy standing at the side of the road, dressed in light clothes and a dark robe; Axin couldn't tell the colors in the increasing dim. He seemed on the point of asking a question, but stopped, and looked at Axin instead. Axin tried to look brave. He was not a crybaby. The stranger was older than he was, but not nearly an adult. Old enough to be out of primer school. He could probably do long division. And he definitely had longer arms than Axin.

    "Are you alright?" asked the stranger. "I was going to ask you where I am, but, . . . Are you lost? It's getting late." The stranger gestured toward the sunset.

    "No." Axin stood a little straighter. "I know exactly where I am." His mother had warned him about talking to strangers, but strangers were big and scary adults, like space pirates. Besides, he could run faster than this lost, skinny teenager.

    The stranger carefully looked him over. Axin realized he must have been actually crying (a little bit), and it was now showing on his face. After looking over his shoulder, the stranger opened his mouth to speak, then stopped. He looked as if he there were something else he should be doing, but was reluctant to leave Axin unsupervised and upset. He tried again.

    "You know where you are. Do you know where you are supposed to be?"

    "Yes," said Axin. "I know." Axin remembered the stranger's question. And he had long arms! Axin needed his long arms! "Do you know where you are?" he asked the stranger. The stranger shrugged slightly.

    "I know where I am, and I know who I'm supposed to find. I just don't know where he lives, precisely. He lives somewhere around here. Do you know this place well?" He looked surprised as Axin broke out into a grin.

    "I know this place very well," Axin crossed his arms and set his chin. "But I need your help before I can give you mine." The stranger frowned slightly, but not in a mean way.

    "What aid do you need?" he asked. Obviously, Axin was not lost. Axin sighed.

    "Don't laugh. I need your arms." Axin nodded at the recycler vaguely.

    "My arms? What do you- . . oh." the stranger grimaced as caught Axin's meaning.

    "It fell in," Axin explained. "And I can't get it out." The stranger nodded slightly as he walked across the grass, taking off his long robe.

    ***************

    The first evening star peeked into existence and with it a twinge of worry. Axin was often late, but he was always home by dark. The once imperiled stew was now in danger of growing cold. Her husband, Putbil, had already arrived home, and was nearly done washing up, but Axin had still not come home. Usually he was home with the sun, eager to recount the day's adventures to his father. Where was her little boy, and why was there no chatter of space pirates? Tebla would never tell a soul, but she knew her little boy was still scared to be out alone after dusk. Believing one could slay monsters necessitated in believing in said monsters. Where would Axin go? Tebla remembered Ield had been fighting the wamps all day. He likely wouldn't have noticed Axin with that mask on, but perhaps Axin had stopped to talk. Probably asking about Jedi again. Or space pirates. Or starships, or Coruscant, or a thousand other things not seen on this world, but on others. Maybe there would be some clue as to where Axin ran off to.

    Tebla picked up her shawl and with a brief word to Putbil, crossed to the Gantos' door. She rang the brass bell, and from the sound of it, Ield and Zelle practically raced each other to the door. "They are anxious," thought Tebla. "The in-laws for sure," she mumbled under her breath. "Sorry to disappoint." Sounds of the heavy door lock opening came through the door. Poor Zelle. But Zelle must have lost her nerve, as it was Ield who opened the door. Zelle hovered at the kitchen door, but quickly came to Tebla as soon as the door was shut, her worried expression now reflecting her neighbor's.

    "I'm sorry to i
  4. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Axin quickly ate his stew and went to his room. Somehow he had still managed to be hungry after spending the past hour and a half with his head in a garbage bin. There had been no food items left to scrape into the scrap box. Besides, Axin didn't want to see that THING again for quite awhile.

    His mother would most certainly make him take a bath soon. She had been too preoccupied with his return to notice, but that wouldn't last long. They had been through this before. He couldn't win that battle, but what else could he do? He could protect his home from evil, but what evil was out there? He knew everybody in the neighborhood, and most were all pretty nice, except for old Widow Nellis, but she wasn't evil. She just smelled funny-- Wait! There was that Obee-one and his master. He didn't know them! Who was this Master-person anyway? Why was he the master? They probably weren't evil anyway. Obee-one had said he was going to grow up to be a Jedi too and Jedi weren't evil. Maybe they could fight evil together. Obee-one was older, so he probably knew more space pirate and Sip-dueling games than Axin did. But he hadn't bothered trying to use his lightsabre. He probably didn't have one. Axin picked up the blue and green painted vegetable stake his mother had put on his bed. No, his lightsabre had not been damaged in his fight with the space pirates. He waved it around experimentally.

    "Twing-twing-twing." It still worked. He wrapped another layer of garden tape around the handle end and pondered what to do. Obee-one had said he was going to be a Jedi, but what about the Master-person? No, he'd better make sure they were really not evil. Besides, Mrs. Gantos had been acting really weird. He understood why his mother had been scared; she was always a little like that when he got into a, . . mess, and got home late. No, something was definitely wrong with Mrs. Gantos. It was his job, as a Jedi knight, noble and brave, to make sure she was safe. Everything was the same as yesterday, and yesterday she was just fine. Well, no more weird than usual. But there was no Obee-one and his master yesterday. Yes, he would just have to watch them very closely.

    "Axin!"

    After his bath.

    *********

    [I'm in here Master.] Qui Gon had finally reached the Gantos home, but his apprentice was nowhere to be seen. Their bond and industrious scrubbing sounds soon led him to the washroom door.

    "Obi-Wan? Are you alright?" Ield had said Obi-Wan was washing up, but how long was this going to take? Cycles of alternating rushing water, scrubbing, and draining had been heard emanating from the door since before the Jedi master had arrived.

    "I'm almost finished Master." Seeing Qui-Gon's concern, Ield came up to him. The water turned off, and both men heard the boy begin mopping up the countertop.

    "He had to put his arm in a compost recycler. I don't really blame him for being thorough Master Jinn," Ield said quietly. "Those things don't get cleaned out very often, and sometimes our less, . . um, . . conscientious neighbors throw manure and dead wamps in there."

    Not quietly enough. The sound of rushing water suddenly renewed and scrubbing efforts were redoubled. Ield opened his mouth to apologise, but Qui-Gon shook his head no, suppressing a laugh. As they walked back to the sitting room, Qui-Gon called back to his prune-fingered apprentice.

    "Don't be too long Padawan. It's nearly time to eat." Qui-Gon allowed himself a hint of a smile. [For Force's sake Obi-Wan, don't scrub your skin off]. The water turned off again, and the mopping sound resumed.

    [With respect Master, you didn't smell it]. Unable to resist, Qui-Gon laughed softly. Zelle looked up, startled, and Ield raised an eyebrow. The Jedi master quickly composed himself as his apprentice emerged from the washroom, both hands quite red from the hot water, but otherwise quite neat. Wordlessly, Obi-Wan slipped to his master's side. Satisfied with all present, Ield started to speak.

    "It has been a long time Master Jinn." He nodded at Obi-Wan. "Some things
  5. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    [She does not want to hear what you have to say Master.] Qui-Gon mentally sighed.
    [Yes Padawan, but she must. She must be prepared for what they both have to do.]
    [You are going to tell them now?]
    [Yes. We cannot wait for morning. To put off telling them will only cause her more anxiety.]
    [She will run away again Master.]
    [That is where you come in Padawan. She cannot avoid both of us.]
    [Yes, Master.]

    Four people now sat in the front room. One older and wise, one young and attentive, one anxious, one near panic. Qui-Gon began, knowing he would be cut off.

    "I need to speak with both of you. It is very important that you hear-"

    "I MUST CLEAN UP THE DISHES!" Zelle almost shrieked her announcement. Ield tried to console her.

    "Zelle, darling. They have come a long way. They wouldn't have come if it wasn't important. You have to hear this." Ield reached for his wife's hand, but Zelle practically leaped to her feet, hugging herself to avoid his grasp.

    "I don't have to hear it," she hissed under her breath. "I can't hear it." Her voice returned to the near shriek. "I MUST clean up the dishes." She turned and walked toward the kitchen, shaking, but set on her course. Her escape plan was made. She had committed herself to it. She could not turn back, and they could not change her mind. The Jedi master could not make her hear what she so refused. Still shaking, a small part of her savored her momentary triumph. She could not hear the Bad Things he would say. The Bad Things he had come to tell them did not exist, would not exist, and had never existed. She would never hear them. She would dodge him until he went all the way back to his stupid Temple. The Bad Things would never Be. Yes, she had won against the Jedi master and his tidings of Bad Things. She would never have to know. What could he possibly say now?

    The Jedi master's words came with deadly swiftness. Like his legendary skill with a lightsabre, Qui-Gon's blow aimed true and shattered her defenses in a single blow.

    "My Padawan will assist you."

    No!

    "Yes, Master." The boy's reply sent her heart to her throat.

    No! There was no escape. No!

    [She is afraid of us Master.]
    [She is afraid of what news we bring with us Padawan.]
    [She is frightened. She will not listen to me.]
    [Listen to her Padawan. Perhaps then she won't be so afraid to listen to you.]
    [Why will she hear me when she can't bear to hear you?]
    [You are less of a threat. You weren't there.]
    [Yes Master.]
    [May the Force be with you Padawan.]
    [And with you, Master.]

    Obi-Wan followed Zelle into the kitchen

    **********

    "Twing-twing-twing-twing." Axin Muse, mighty Jedi was surrounded by evil enemies, but he was not afraid, oh no. "Twing-twing-TWANG." OH NO! There were too many of them! They were closing in! There were about twenty space pirates, at least! And right in front of him was the evil Sip. He was as big as Mr. Master, dressed all in black, and had giant eyes, glowing orange and green fangs. He was drooling, as if hungry to fight, but almost disappointed, knowing Axin wouldn't last long enough. He started to move back as the Sip advanced, but there was nowhere to go! The pirates had formed a ring around him. He wasn't going to escape this time! What would they do? Take away his lightsabre? Throw him in a cell, so he would never see his parents again? Make him eat vegetables and gwelt fish oil for the next thirty years? He backed up and felt something metal dig into his back. A blaster? Had the pirates behind him attacked? Barely able to take his eyes off the Sip, Axin looked over his shoulder. What was digging into his back?

    It was Obee-one! Obee-one was here! They would fight off the pirates and the Sip together! Two Jedi against twenty space pirates and an evil Sip! They had to win for sure now! But wait! Oh no! Obee-one wasn't moving! The pirates had turned him off! Oh no! Axin whirled around.
    The Sip! It was getting closer! Axin whirled back and in one quick movement, yanked on Obee-one's cord, hoping turning h
  6. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    The sun rose early in the agricultural town. The people woke early too. The growing season was never long enough, and daylight spent indoors was daylight wasted. Farmers were early risers, and that necessitated a good night's sleep. But for many in the houses just past the garbage recycler, a good night's sleep seemed as far away as the moons. Or as far away as Coruscant had seemed the day before.

    Putbil had gotten up before the sun. He was a farmer, body and soul. He had slept like an infant, then rose before the sun, heading for his fields. Sure, he worried about his neighbors; he liked Ield well enough, but he had worked hard all day, and had work to do for the next forty years. His worrying stopped the moment his head hit the pillow.

    Tebla was awake when her husband got up and left. She had fallen asleep for a full ten minutes that night. The other seven hours and twenty minutes had been spent watching the seconds tick by on the bedside clock. Groaning in exhaustion, Tebla pulled herself out of bed to make breakfast. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she was surprised to find that after a night without sleep, she still looked better than Zelle had the night before. Company or no, Tebla was going over there today. No matter that Ield looked alright; something was definitely wrong and she wasn't about to let Zelle face it alone.

    Axin got up with the sun. He had had a very exciting night. First, he had inresturgated the two strangers. True, his inresturgation had not turned up anything that wasn't obvious, but he had seen some interesting things. But doubts resurfaced. He still didn't know who Mr. Master was, or why he had liquor, or who Obee-one was. He didn't know if they were evil or not. And he had never seen a droid that looked so much like a person. (He didn't talk like a person.) He would just have to ask Mr. Gantos. Mr. Gantos had been EVERYWHERE! He had seen EVERYTHING! He would know if they made droids that were so much like real people. Plus, he had had such a great dream! Too bad his stupid data recorder had to be so lumpy and loud. He never got to finish the adventure. But oh, what an adventure it was! And what adventures he could have if only he could find Obee-one! Axin hoped he stayed awhile.

    Mr. Gantos didn't get up early. He hadn't gone to bed. He had spent the whole night trying to talk to Zelle, who hadn't stopped crying since she left the kitchen. She fell asleep out of exhaustion, just before dawn. But she had stopped running. She sobbed, but quietly. She listened to him. She listened to Master Jinn's instructions. Then she cried after Master Jinn left to check on his apprentice and get some sleep. Strange one, that apprentice. He didn't know what the boy said to her, but for some reason she had listened to him. She let him tell her what she would have to face. Then she had listened to Master Jinn, a man she had prayed every night for years that she would never see again. She had seen reason. But she didn't say she would go back. She hadn't said that.

    Feeling like a zombie, Ield walked out to the back porch and sat in the swing. The sun had yet to quite peek over the tall trees in his yard, but it lit the fields beyond. Both Jedi were already awake, meditating in the meadow past his fence. Timid kelps grazed nearby, unconcerned. (Maybe they weren't awake. Maybe that's how they did superhuman things. They were regular people who took catnaps all day and called it meditating. Maybe anyone who got that much sleep could make things float and snatch lost scrap boxes and rescue drowning grilge puppies, . . and deflect blaster bolts. Bolts flying faster than Ield could see. Bolts that scorched stone and dermasteel as surely as they would flesh.) The boy twitched. Master Jinn slowly got up and walked toward the house. Had they "heard" him? He hadn't wanted to disturb them. They were here to help. They didn't mean to turn his life upside down. The didn't mean to turn Zelle to a frightened shell of herself.

    They hadn't done tha
  7. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Tebla came out onto the porch, mustering all her strength and will to keep her from screaming at That Man. At Ield. Even at the boy. All of them for doing this to Zelle. Whatever they were doing. She didn't know what; her brain could only form that single hypothesis, but she looked at That Man's face (guileless, compassionate face) and her truth just didn't make sense. "Who was he?" he brain screamed. "What did he want from them?" "Why is Zelle so frightened?" "Why isn't he?"

    "Fear is of the Dark Side."

    What?

    "You have no reason to fear me."

    How did he know-

    "I think we should all have a little talk Ield. She will be calmer when she knows what is going on here."

    What's going on here-

    "Do you think it's, . . it's safe. To, . . to tell her?" Ield. Ield looked guilty. Afraid.

    Tell her what? Tell me what?

    "Her suspicions may prove more dangerous to you than the truth."

    Danger. Truth.

    Tebla had grown very pale. Her heart was pounding and her brain was racing (in circles). What truth?

    "Axin, why don't you go play with Obi-Wan for now. I'm sure you both can find something to do."

    Obi-Wan. The boy. Still in the kelp field. Alone. No.

    "No!" Her own voice sounded strange (was that me?), but once she found it, she grabbed onto it, desperate not to lose it again.

    "No, Axin, I think you should stay here."

    "Tebla, it will be alright, we just need to have, . . an adult conversation. Axin will be fine with Obi-Wan. He's a very mature and responsible boy." Ield spoke again. Frightened, guilty Ield.

    Mature. I'll bet.

    "No." Tebla grabbed Axin's hand and backed up. That Man raised his hand, about to speak, then seemed to change his mind when he saw Tebla's eyes widen in fear. He lowered his hand.

    "You have nothing to fear from me. But Zelle will need support that I cannot give her. She needs a friend, and she will not accept friendship from me. Zelle needs you." He seemed so, . . honest. Caring. Genuinely pained that he could not relieve Zelle's fear.

    You have nothing to fear from me.

    "Mom? Can I have an Obee-one for my birthday?"

    "AXIN!" The world stopped. The older boy twitched, but no one noticed. All eyes had focused on the little boy in the green bathrobe. What had That Man been telling him? Tebla glanced at Ield, then fell into a chair, mortified. Stupified. Ield glanced back, clearly mystified. That Man glanced down at Axin, clearly amused.

    "Why don't you go try mine out while we talk to your mother. He took a little getting used to before I decided to keep him." That Man gently guided Axin off the porch and pointed him toward the boy. Obi-Wan. Still there. In the field. Alone. Tebla opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Axin had stopped to stare at Obi-Wan. Out of earshot. Away.

    He's a very mature and responsible boy.

    "I don't think you have been properly introduced Tebla." Ield's voice. She faced him, wordlessly.

    "This is Tebla Muse, our next door neighbor. She is probably Zelle's best friend. That's why she's the only one so worried about her." They were standing over her. Tebla heard a distant pounding. Her heart?

    That Man suddenly kneeled down to her level to take her hand. Calm. So calm. She could feel his calm, his strength, but she didn't know how. Or why.

    "And this is someone we know from a long time ago. Before we moved here." Ield continued, almost reluctantly.

    "This is Qui-Gon Jinn, . . ."

    ". . . Jedi Master."

    ***********

    (Munchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmunchmunchmunch
    BUG! BUG! BITE BUG!Munchmunchmunch
    munchmunchmun)

    Obi-Wan mentally sighed. No, kelps did not exactly have the most interesting thoughts in the galaxy. Master Yoda had taught him that the Force flows through all living things, but this was getting ridiculous! Master Qu
  8. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master, smiled to himself. Ield was right; Obi-Wan was indeed a rather mature and responsible boy. But he didn't need the Force to know Dr. Gantos's young neighbor was certainly going to keep his apprentice on his toes. Maybe all Padawans should take care of a hyperactive seven-year-old once in awhile. It might make the difficult combat training . . . easier.

    "Your son was going to 'the Temple'?" he asked Tebla. "Where is that?" Tebla sighed.

    "He means the attic. He wants to be a Jedi when he grows up, and so he has a Jedi Temple in the attic. It was in his tree-house, but he was in there so much, we made him move to the attic when winter came." (Why am I telling him this?) Suddenly, Tebla realized something. "You haven't told him you are a Jedi, have you?"

    "No." Axin was very excited about playing with Obee-one. He would have been bouncing off the walls if he knew this, . . . man was a Jedi master.

    "You still haven't proven it."

    "No. What would make you believe-"

    "Tebla!" It was Ield. "Didn't you see the boy make the rock float? Didn't you just watch them talk to each other? With their MINDS!" Sharing his secrets (whatever they were) was now making Ield uncharacteristically nervous. (If we keep this up long enough, he'll be as bad as Zelle.) He gestured at his head to emphasize the Jedi's telepathy; in another context, such movement could just as easily imply that Qui-Gon was insane. Somehow, Tebla found this amusing. She had thought this man was a lot of things, but insane had never been one of them.

    "That's not proof!" They were all keeping their voices down to avoid waking Zelle, but Tebla and Ield's nervous, aggressive whispers were rapidly turning into loud hisses. Stress and fear were turning them against each other. This had to stop before it sparked a fire. Sparked disaster. Before it woke Zelle. Qui-Gon stepped between the two terrified neighbors, struggling to fight each other before they would face more truth.

    [Calm. There is nothing to fear from me, or each other.] They couldn't hear the words, but his influence calmed them like a drug. Both turned to stare at him like small children.

    "I thank you for coming to my defense Ield, but your friend here is right. That is not proof. You are a scientist. You know that. Obi-Wan using the Force does not prove I am a Jedi, nor does it prove he is. And one does not need the Force to make rocks fall from the sky (I must speak to Obi-Wan about this), nor to find out the boy has a Temple at his house."

    "But he never mentioned a Temple." Ield started to say, but Qui-Gon silenced him with a gesture (and the Force). The Jedi master turned to Tebla. He would deal with Ield later. Ield had always been strong for his wife, but everything was happening too fast, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Yes, Ield would need help to stay strong, but first, he needed to secure this support for Zelle. And to do that, he must prove himself to Tebla. He turned to her as Ield sank into a chair.

    "What would make you believe me?" Tebla had been staring at Ield; now she searched Qui-Gon's face.

    "You're calming him, aren't you?" She looked away, her mind examining itself. "You were calming me too."

    "Yes. I did use the Force to calm you both. Fear was clouding your minds. Making you unreasonable, unwilling to listen. It was only for a moment. That moment has passed."

    "If that moment has passed, why aren't I more afraid of you now?" She seemed utterly perplexed by her own emotions. "Now that you admit you can control my mind." She stared at him.

    "Because you know that if it were my intention to do so, you wouldn't have been worried about Zelle at all." He said it so plainly, so honestly. If he wanted to control her mind, there were many simpler ways of doing it. Yet he didn't say he couldn't.

    "So, you can control my mind." She looked at him warily. Was this why he seemed so, . . kind?

    "The Force can be used to influence the weak-minded." He gave her a
  9. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Axin stared at the droid in astonishment. He was from Chorus-kant. He had even seen a real Jedi Master, Master Yo- . . Yo-da. And he had seen the real Temple. Axin wondered if they had a tour.

    "What else do you know?" Suddenly Obee-one looked uncomfortable. (Could droids be uncomfortable? Well, Obee-one was a special droid.) Why? Maybe he didn't know very much. Maybe he had had a memory wipe. Maybe he was just embarrassed. Mr. Gantos always seemed a little embarrassed when Axin gave him his look of awe. Yes, he must just be embarrassed.

    "Uhh, . . I know a little bit. . . Nothing too interesting. What is on the news, what the tourists know, that sort of thing. I could probably help with you with the names and words you don't know." (Pronunciation. Safe. Requires no details.) Axin brightened even more (if such a thing were possible).

    "Let me get my scrapbooks!" (Scrapbooks? There was more than one?)

    Axin grabbed Obee-one's hand and led him to the far corner of the attic, near the windows. The Temple Library. Makeshift bookshelves had been made from scrap wood and small barrels. A variety of books sat on the shelves, along with desk supplies and a variety of data chips, only some of which were functional. Under the window was a large milk pail filled with tightly rolled sheets of paper; it was labeled "Sip Scrolls." A small child's desk, topped with a kelp shoe (labeled "Check-out") a box of broken pigment sticks, and a pair of enormous reading spectacles (without lenses) stood out away from the wall. And on the floor, beneath some standard primer school text programs, were four large books, the blank kind people usually only bought for decorating coffee tables or recording the first years of one's child's life. (Or if they were like Master Yoda, who preferred writing by hand to a data recorder. Obi-Wan had thought the small master's speech patterns were hard to follow until he saw his handwriting. When combined with his archaic spelling habits, the boy seriously wondered if anyone could read the books, other than the Master himself.) Considering Axin's age, Obi-Wan wondered if he would be able to read the boy's books either.

    Axin directed Obi-Wan to a large, dusty couch cushion (the visitor's chair) and pulled out the first volume. He then sat down next to the droid and opened to a page, admiring Obee-One's robe as he did. Maybe they had a gift shop too. He pointed to a small, grainy printout of the great Master Yoda, in all his glory.

    "That's Yoda?" Axin asked. Obee-one nodded as the boy turned the page. "Then why does he have a wig on in this picture? Everyone in the galaxy watches the news holos, and they already know he is bald."

    "Oh, no." Obi-Wan chuckled gently. A friendly laugh. "That one isn't Master Yoda. That one is Master Yaddle. She's the same species as Yoda, but younger. . . with more hair." Yoda? Yaddle?

    "Are you fibbing me?" Axin asked, suddenly suspicious. Sometimes boys Obee-one's age told him fibs. (Ev Loki up the block once told him Correllian starships ran on kelp pies, and there was a scarcity so he should save up as many as possible. Axin had collected the droppings for a week before his father set him straight. After he had filled the entire shed. Without taking the tools out first.) He had read many books and seen many pictures of the Jedi, but he had never heard of a Master Yaddle. It sounded like gibberish. Would a droid fib? Obee-one looked down at him, his eyes wide in innocence. He put his hand on his chest, over his central processing unit.

    "I swear. That is her name. She runs the Library at the Jedi Temple, and she sits on the Jedi Council." Axin would have to test him. He wasn't about to collect kelp pies again. Without a really good reason, anyway. (The collecting had been fun. It was the yelling and the cleaning up part that he didn't like.)

    "So who are the rest of these people?" Axin asked, turning to a copy from a large book about Jedi. He quickly covered the caption with his hands.
  10. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    (Languages? Why does he want to know that? How strong does he think this communicator will be? Oh well. At least I can't tell him too much. He'll probably get bored anyway.)

    "Well, I learned a few at the T- (gack!), uhh . . at school. And I've heard some different ones on different planets, but usually not enough to be fluent. Usually I can understand more than I can speak." Axin grinned again, sneaking a glance at Obee-one. The droid had paused to consider the question before returning to his task. He did know a lot. But he learned them at school? Did droids go to school? They must, Axin realized. Where else did they learn to be droids? Droid school.

    "And I know some computer languages." Computer languages? Computers all wrote in Basic, just like he did in school.

    "What computer languages?" Axin was entirely puzzled. Obee-one was a droid. He should know what computers said, but computer languages?

    "Umm, . . the language used in hyperdrive computers, the standard Republic Operating System language, a little Bocchi if I have a code file. A few encryption languages. But those are all based on Basic, except for Bocchi. Bocchi is a binary language. Not just typing in words." Axin furrowed his brow. This only left him more confused. And how many was that? One, two, three, . . a few more? How many were there?

    Axin pondered this as he picked over yet another bundle of wires, taking care not to break a stray light bulb. Obee-one might think of something else neat to use it for. Wow. So many languages. And these weren't even people languages!

    "What about the people languages?" (People languages? Ahh, not computer languages.)

    "People languages. Hmm, let's see. You know I can speak Basic. We're speaking that now. I know a little Calamari because I had a good friend back home who wanted to speak it better. I used to help her practice. (Force, he missed Bant). I can understand Hutt, but I don't speak it very well. It's hard to make your throat do that. Could you hand me that wrench please?" Axin handed him the wrench, somewhat awed. (Why is he so fascinated by this? I know kids his age don't need to know this much, and other kids my age don't need to know quite so many, but they usually do. On Coruscant. I guess they don't here.) Axin eyes were like saucers. Obi-Wan noticed he had been counting on his fingers. (Oh, for Force's sake. Am I really that, . . odd?)

    "What else?" (This stuff just fascinates him? Why?) Obi-Wan's face started to feel warm. He could feel the boy's utter wonder like a warm spotlight. (I'm hardly older than he is. I'm just a normal teenager. . . Sort of. Normal being a relative word. Why is so impressed?) He centered himself. No swelled heads here. At least he had stopped asking about lightsabres.

    "Ummm. I can usually understand Wookies. But Wookie is kind of like Hutt; it's hard to actually speak it. And I can read some languages that nobody speaks anymore (except Master Yoda). The old tongue that Basic came from. That sort of thing. No one knows exactly how it is supposed to be pronounced (except Master Yoda, or so he claims.)" He looked down at the boy. "That's about it." (That's all I can think of off the top of my head.)

    "Wo-ow." Axin had run out of fingers. And wires. Now what? The two boys surveyed the parts. Obee-one picked through the piles. A circuit board here. A wire there. He stood up and surveyed the attic. What was he looking for?

    "What do you need?" The droid looked down at him, smiling.

    "Someone with great ingenuity." Axin was puzzled. (Me? What's in-jen-nooity?) He stared at the droid blankly, shrugging his shoulders. Obee-one explained.

    "We need something to build it in." He held up his own communicator. "Something small to hold all the parts. Preferably metal or something tough. A small box or can. And we will need two. They don't have to match."

    "We need two?" Why two? Obee-one grinned at him.

    "You'll need one for you and one for your friend, so yo
  11. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Zelle splashed the cold water over her feverish face, eyes tightly shut with the sudden chill. She had been crying too hard for too long. Her head ached of it, and her heart ached of it. She didn?t want to do this anymore, but she didn?t want to go back. She bathed her face again, eyes still closed (I promised to go back. Why did I do that? How could I promise that?) She groped for the towel. (Where is it? Who moved it?) Zelle began to grope frantically. This was her house! Her secret house! NO ONE MOVED IT! NO ONE WAS HERE! NO BAD THINGS! NOT HERE! NEVER HERE!

    She found the towel. It was on the rack, but not in it?s usual place. It was further over. Why? Suddenly spooked, Zelle wiped her eyes as fast as she could, then searched the small room. No one. No one in the bathtub. No one under the vanity. She even looked in the mirrored cabinet over the basin, knowing full well no humanoid could ever fit in there. This was ridiculous. No one BAD was in the house, and certainly not in the washroom. BUT THEY GOT IN BEFORE! WHO MOVED THE TOWEL?

    You did. Yesterday. When you cleaned the washroom and put out the fresh ones. Because HE was coming. And the boy put it back in the same place. Where else would he put it? Where he thought it was supposed to be. You?re driving yourself crazy. Calm down.

    Zelle inspected the towel. It was used but still clean. The boy hadn?t left any dirt on it. Well-trained. She folded it and hung it back up. Yes, she had left it there. They hadn?t found her. THEY WOULDN"T FIND HER!

    "But I promised to go back." She looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were red, swollen. Had they ever been so red before? (Yes, from the smoke). Her face was no longer tear-streaked, but now looked old. Worn. Exhausted. (Did they take my youth too, or did I worry it away?)

    She stared down at her hands. They were still young, but they had shaken like a feeble old woman?s. How often had they been rendered so helpless? She was an artist once. No more. Not since . . . long before then. But they weren?t shaking now.

    How much had they taken? Her work? Her home? Her youth? Her joy? Her friends? Her Love? No, they hadn?t taken that. But her family; they took the family she would never have. Her life? No, but they tried. And they took all the parts of life that made it worth living. Except Ield. She still had Ield. She would have given up long ago without Ield. But she still wished she hadn?t had to live with the rest. With the guilt.

    All those people died . . . because I didn?t want to leave.

    She raised her head, meeting her own eyes in the mirror. Afraid. Still afraid. Because they may come here. And she didn?t want to leave. She didn?t want to go back. She heard Tebla leave the house.

    How many people died?

    "I promised to go back." It would not happen again.

    ********

    There it was. That was the ship. The ship he had taken. It had been quite the chase. He had been cautious, but you had to respect a man like that. He was cautious without looking as if he were cautious. But where was he now?

    He must be with them by now. Must be. He knew where he left it. If they could find him, they could find what they were really looking for. What they had been waiting nine years to get. But on this planet? It was nowhere. A giant ball of chaffa germ. Just add the milk and the galaxy will eat it for breakfast. Outdated communications, no significant military, under Republic protection but away from the Trade Federation?s notice. It was . . . quaint. Everybody knew everybody else. In a crowded world one could hide. Become invisible in the ever-changing sea of people. A nice crowded world like Coruscant. But oh, he couldn?t take them anywhere like that place. Always changing. Don?t know who your neighbors are. Once they were found, it would be too easy. But the people here didn?t change. Didn?t change anything. The sign listing the docking fees was painted! By hand! (I swear, these hicks m
  12. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Axin frantically searched his room. Where is it? Where is it? What kind of Jedi loses his trusty lightsabre? He had already found his Jedi robe, he had gone to the shed to get more paint and a vegetable stake for Obee-one, and he had found the gardening tape, all of which he had packed into his school sack. Littered around were the rest of his knightly possessions and inresturgator gear: his night goggles (still creased), his data recorder (file still full), and his water breather-thing (fashioned from many drinking straws glued together. It still didn't work right. When he tested it out last summer, he had gotten a mouthful of pond algae for his trouble). But where was the lightsabre? He had to find it! Queen Bauble had told him to hurry.

    "Axin?" Obee-one! Maybe Obee-one would remember where he had left it! Axin hurried into the hall, almost slamming into the droid in his haste. Obee-one sidestepped just in time, and amazingly, managed not to drop the equipment he was carrying. And the lightsabre!

    "YOU FOUND IT!" Axin snatched the painted stake and quickly hugged the droid again. Once more, Obee-one managed to keep his hold on the boxes. "I was looking for it everywhere!" The droid smiled at him.

    "You left it upstairs." Axin heard Obee-one's gears grind again. Mr. Master had better take care of his droid. He wasn't sounding well. And he looked tired too. (Well, most of Axin's baby-sitters tended to look pretty tired by this point. He'd better recharge during lunch or something.)
    "Are you ready to go? I have everything we need for the communicators." He was ready. Axin hastily dove back into his room to grab his school sack, and was just about to dash out again when he noticed Obee-one in the doorway, looking into his room curiously. (Has he never seen a sleep room before?) Maybe he hadn't. Do droids have sleep rooms, or do they just live in stodian closets like suction cleaners?

    "This is your room?" the droid asked. Axin tried to raise one eyebrow, but it was a gesture he still couldn't pull off. Both eyebrows rose. (Why was his room so interesting?) Obee-one quietly and politely scanned the walls, taking in the drawings, the posters, the toys and the equipment with a slight smile.

    "Yes. Do you have a room?" Maybe Mr. Master was poorer than he thought. Maybe they both had to live in a stodian closet. The droid smiled back at him.

    "Yes, I have a room at home on Coruscant. I haven't been there for awhile, but I do have a room. I've just never seen a room like this, lived in by someone like you." (Someone like me? But Obee-one has been to lots of planets! Why hasn't he seen a room owned by someone like me?) He was smiling. Axin guessed Obee-one thought people like him were a good thing. Still standing in the door, the droid turned to examine the rows of pigment stick drawings over Axin's desk. There, in bright wax technicolor glory, Axin's Jedi adventures were played out. Here was a green Rodian with an blaster, and three extra antennae, there a Togarian, bright orange, with hideous purple drool, and way over there, an indescribable black mass with a red-violet lightsabre, (most likely a Sith). Ironically, there were no wamps in the pictures. (Why are the wamps dangerous?) In nearly every one was a Jedi, usually bearing some resemblance to Axin, (if you squinted), and often Jedi Axin was accompanied by a creature vaguely similar to one council member or another.

    Axin wondered what kind of people Obee-one did know. Were they boring or something? Or were they like the kids around here, who didn't want to be Jedis when they grew up?

    "You don't know anyone else who wants to be a Jedi?" Obee-one turned back to him, smiling wider.

    "No. Most of the people I know want to be Jedi when they grow up. But they usually don't have as much enthusiasm as you." Axin was awestruck. Obee-one knew more kids who wanted to be Jedi? Wow! Why did Chorus-kant have to be so far away?

    Obi-Wan finally came into the room to examine a drawing on the
  13. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Tebla pondered the Jedi master's blessing. It had been so formal, so eloquent. (What did it mean?) She sighed inwardly; it was probably far too deep for her to comprehend. But it had sounded so soothing, so wise, so ancient, as if empowered by the repetition of countless Jedi voices over the long, dusty centuries. (How old are the Jedi?) Axin's books had said something about "a thousand generations," but how long was that in years? Longer than she could imagine. (And which generation, so long ago, first spoke his words?)

    Zelle also reflected on the verses which still seemed to echo from the walls. Whatever language the Jedi had been speaking was not one she was familiar with, but it was similar to an ancient Core World language she had studied in her youth. A different dialect, or a closely related tongue perhaps. She too had found it soothing, and inspiring. But she could have sworn the Jedi had said something about "my boots are living things" and "being grateful to embrace banthas." (Perhaps I should have studied harder). However, all such thoughts soon dissolved as the meal began.

    Qui-Gon's face remained passive, but Obi-Wan could feel his master's pleasant mood grow as the mealtime conversation stilled and the only sounds at the table became the clatter and gulps of people eating. It is indeed a high compliment to the chef when the diners are too intent on enjoying the meal to engage in conversation. (Dinners hosted by Master Windu, on the other hand, were renowned for their stimulating, lively discussions.) But this was not why they were here. They were here to build a memory, not just to enjoy the stew. He would just have to start them out. (Not that I'm the master of small talk. Maybe I should have Obi-Wan do this.) But no, a quick glance revealed his apprentice was far too busy breaking his fast to be much help in that department. (Who doesn't have their mouth full?) The Jedi's eyes lit on the fidgety young boy.

    "So Axin, do you like the stew?" Axin started. Before Mr. Master had spoken, he had been quite busy exploring his stew bowl and staring at Obee-one. He really was eating it! But what could be in it that a droid would eat? Machine parts? Oil? Coolant? Was that why it was so colorful? In depth inrestugations with his spoon had only produced unidentified lumps of various shapes and sizes, but nothing definite. Could the stew really be good for people AND droids?

    "It . . it . ." He couldn't offend Mr. Master. And he couldn't lie. "It smells great." Axin smiled politely. Obee-one swallowed and turned to him.

    "It tastes great too. Have some." [You've outdone yourself, Master.] Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows as his apprentice again attacked his bowl, no less voraciously than before. (Why do I sense another growth spurt coming?) No, Obi-Wan was not going to be very helpful.

    [Thank you, Padawan.] He turned back to the small boy. (A picky eater? Yes, and with a short attention span.) Axin was staring at his padawan again, fascinated. Qui-Gon supposed if her were Axin's age, he too would be entranced with the speed at which Obi-Wan ate. His bowl was nearly empty. [Padawan, slow down before you make yourself sick.] His apprentice blushed, suddenly realizing he hadn't actually been chewing. Axin remained awed. (Why?) Before he could speculate further, the boy's attentive mother intervened.

    "Axin, eat before it gets cold, dear." Queen Bauble now gave him the "you're being rude" look. Axin sighed. His mother had been eating it; Mr. Master had been eating it. Even Obee-one was eating it, though suddenly slower for some reason. Maybe he had changed gears, like on his father's harvester. It must be people food and droid food. He was going to have ask Mr. Gantos some more questions about protocol droids before he left. (Where was he going?) Lifting his spoon and blowing on it dramatically, Axin took his first bite.

    (WOW!) It was great! It tasted like . . . like sunshine and chaffa fields and the smell of Queen Bauble's garde
  14. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3

    Axin knelt on the pretty tile floor. Master Yodo-- err, Yoda spoke.

    "Jedi Axin. A mission for you the Council has." Axin bowed lowered.

    "Yes, Master Yoda."

    "To the chaffa field you must go. Wamps you will find there. Dark are these wamps. Save the chaffa you must, or the galaxy will be bread-less."

    "Yes, Master Yoda. May I bring my padawam, Master Yoda?" Master Yoda turned his gaze to Axin's padawam, Obee-one.

    "Yes. Learn much the droid can. Useful he may be, if talk the wamps do. Program him to speak Wamp before you leave you will."

    "Yes, Master Yoda." Jedi Axin stood up, bowed three times, then tapped Obee-one on the shoulder. The droid powered up, blinked at the Council, and bowed also. Obee-one then followed Jedi Axin out of the Council Chamber to the library. Axin handed him ten purple data chips.

    "Padawam Obee-one. You are a very good droid. You know many languages, but not Wamp. Here is the Wamp data." Obee-one eyed the data chips, then nodded.

    "Yes, Jedi Axin." He then proceeded to eat the data chips, very, very quickly. Axin looked on in concern.

    "Don't choke again Obee-one. You need to know this stuff." Obee-one paused to swallow.

    "No, Jedi Axin." Obee-one neatly spread butter on the last three chips (so he wouldn't get the hiccups) and rapidly finished them off. "Thank you, Jedi Axin. The data was very good." Both Jedi, grabbed their lightsabres, left the library and climbed into Axin's pink Republic Cruiser. (Pink paint was cheaper than red.) They sped toward the chaffa field, waving to Putbil and Kashbacca as they passed overhead. They stopped in front of a large pile of stones.

    "Oh, no Obee-one. It's worse than I thought." The pile was larger than their cruiser. It was tremendous! Gigantic! It was as big as Mr. Master! How in the stars were they ever going to take it apart and get inside? They had to stop the wamps! Obee-one drew his lightsabre.

    "Twing-twing-TWANG" With a mighty swing, Obee-one struck the rock. CRACK! A layer of stones rolled off to reveal part of small door; the rest was covered by a much larger rock.

    "Missed one." Several more glancing blows revealed the rest of the door and a small window.

    "Good work Padawam Obee-one!" Axin knocked on the door. A small, whispering voice was heard. "Do you know what they said, Obee-one?" Obee-one tilted his head, closed his eyes, and frowned as he listened intently.

    "Processing data." He stood up straight and put on that funny blank look. He blinked several times. "They said, 'You will never save the chaffa now, you foolish Jedi,' Jedi Axin." He spoke the translated words in a high, squeaky voice, like Queen Bauble used for the Tickle Wamp laugh. He eyed the door, then turned back to his padawam.

    "We have to go in there Obee-one. I hope the Tickle Wamp isn't down there. We can't stop to nap on a mission."

    "Yes, Jedi Axin." Obee-one walked to the door and pulled. It wouldn't budge. "It's locked, Jedi Axin." Axin frowned.

    "We'll have to use the Force then." More voices came from behind the door as both Jedi closed their eyes and concentrated. The door wouldn't open. They switched places, then tried again. Wouldn't open. They tried it sitting. No. Standing. No. Kneeling. No. Axin was starting to feel embarrassed in front of his padawam. (I'm a Jedi Knight! I should know how to do this!) Suddenly, a deep voice came from behind the door.

    "Gathering intelligence, Padawam?" Oh no! The wamps were going to attack Obee-one. He had to protect him! Obee-one was only an ap-, (what was the word?), a padawam! But why did the voice speak Basic, and not Wamp? (It sounds familiar.) These were Dark Wamps, who spoke Wamp, so the deep voice must be--

    A SIP-- err, no . .

    A SITH! NO! A Sith was after Obee-one! More whispering voices came from behind the door, but Axin paid it no heed. He must save his padawam. He whirled around.

    "Obee-"

    A piercing cry echoed through the field/reading room, jolting Axin half awake. (Wha
  15. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Anxiously, Ield checked the control panel on the food preserver again. Just like it had been the last four times, it was still set correctly. It wasn't that Ield didn't have faith in the boy; he wouldn't have checked it any less thoroughly if he had set it himself. It was just . . . this was just so important. No mistakes. (Actually, he probably would have checked it more thoroughly if he had set it himself.) He checked it yet again, going through all the control menus this time. Slowly. Carefully. Master Jinn had worked all morning to free him from the encroaching threat of panic. (Don't waste that effort. Stay calm. Deep breaths. Maybe I should try that meditating stuff.) The Jedi always seemed so calm. How did he do that? He knew what was out there, probably better than they did. Not that they really wanted to know. Ield figured if they did know everything, he and Zelle would run down to the spirits cellar and start digging. Anything to stay hidden. But they couldn't hide anymore. They had to go back. There were things they had to do. Promises to keep, to themselves, and to those who died needlessly. They had to face this danger.

    (I might be killed, but I won't run anymore.)

    It would be hard, but they had to do it. They had to go back to the nightmare, to the threats, to the fear. They had to do what they promised they would. So it would never happen again. Ever again. And they only had to do it once and then maybe, finally, the nightmare would be over, and they would never have to run again.

    They would only have to do it once, but Jedi had to face dangers like this every day. Well, not every day, but many days. How did Jinn do it? And so calmly. How could he just accept day in and day out that he might be dead before the sun rose again? And the boy too. How could anyone live like that? And be so functional. And not be reduced to . . to Zelle. To what Zelle had been. (But I did do that. How did I do that for eight years? How did I manage to live without letting fear control me? How did Zelle ever get past it too? Did my brain just accept that everyday could be my last? Or did I just conveniently forget that possibility? Out of sight, out of mind?)

    No. Not out of mind. Never entirely. Maybe for a day, for an afternoon. Or when he was at work, feeling somewhat safer, even among the few half-trained Jedi of the Agricultural Corp. But he wasn't one of them. He couldn't attain that emotionless calm. (No fear. No anger. No panic. Just acceptance. I can't do that.) Somewhere, deep under the smiles to coworkers, and the reassuring words to his wife, the fear was still there. Cold, poised to slither over his heart. But soon, one way or another, this fear would be gone.

    Ield looked up, startled as the Jedi Master entered the room. (Is that- no. Can't be.) Master Jinn blinked slowly as he picked up the food preserver, then turned to him.

    "I will put this in the groundcar. Obi-Wan said to take care not to drop it." (It was the light. The light was funny.)

    "Are you ready to leave Ield?" (Gone now. Trick of the light.) Suddenly, Ield found his voice.

    "I'll, . . I'll be right there. I just have to . . say goodbye." To Zelle. To the house. To this life. Did he understand that?

    "Of course." The Jedi nodded at him sagely, but his expression gave the subtle warning that time was waning. Ield looked him in the eye, observing, then both left. (A trick of the light. Definitely. I'm just being ridiculous and high-strung.) Jinn was a Jedi, and a Jedi Master no less, (not that Ield was sure what specifically made him a master.) He was kind, calm, reassuring, . . and stoic. Unshakable. A rock. But for a moment there (when the light hit him just so),it had looked as if there were tears in his eyes.

    (Couldn't be.)

    ***********

    Two men in matching burgundy uniforms walked along the spacedock; a gray probe droid floated slowly behind them, carefully observing a lost kelp grazing in a flower bed. The spacedock wasn't large,
  16. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    "Reese?" . . .

    "Reese?" The tone was a bit sharper this time.

    "REESE!" Evel rolled his eyes in exasperation. Sometimes Reese just forced him to do things the hard way. Reese gasped as his personal music system flew off his head and the jizzy sounds of "Wailing Wookie and the Split Ends" stopped filling his bobbing head and started filling the laboratory instead. His gaze traveled across the room, taking in the slightly spooked technician staring at them and the many flats of content plants before resting on the one person despicable enough to upset his . . . meditation. (Evel.) Reese narrowed his eyes.

    "Show-off."

    "Reese," Evel sighed. "Did you see this message from Dr. Gantos?" (Why must he act like such a, . . a . . teenager?)

    "What message? He didn't send me anything on the comm system today." (Because he is a teenager.)

    "This message! The one on the datapad that was TAPED to your lab bench! The one full of words like "URGENT" and "MUST DO" and "DON'T FORGET" and "DON'T DO THIS WRONG!" Though brilliant in mind, Ield's lab technique tended to be a little awkward the first time he did something, no matter how simple. This tendency had led to some brilliant disasters. Some had proved amazingly beneficial to the world of science; the rest seemed to improve the morale of the lab. Ield was well aware of this fact and took it all in good humor. (So if he is making a point to tell US not to screw this up, it must be important.) Reese was still learning the intricacies of biological and agricultural sciences, but his techniques were flawless. (And Ield is a marshmallow!) For him to have written such a, well loud, note (the entire datapad was still tainted with the doctor's agitation and sense of urgency), then Force knew it must be important. (How long was it sitting here?) Reese came over to retrieve the headphones and give his friend a smug glare.

    "Of course I saw that. I taped it to the lab bench so I wouldn't forget. Ield left that for me yesterday, left me a comm message about it last night, and called me this morning to make sure I hadn't misplaced the message he watched me tape to the bench. It's important, it's urgent, it's done already."

    "All of it?"

    "All of it."

    "The thawing, the incubation, the purification? The refreezing? The test for purity? All of it?"

    "Yes!" Reese hissed. "All of it. Whatever it is. Some sort of genetic wizardry and gene manipulation, all locked away in an eensy-weensy virus called GI549. Or at least that's what the ice-encrusted label on the outside said."

    "What does it do?" Evel had found that since joining the Agricultural Corp, he didn't find his passion for science growing. He could study, he could learn, but he could not make it his life. So he enjoyed the soaking up the gratuitous Living Force and studied politics and government at night. He'd kept in touch with Knight Gallia; if he worked hard she promised to help find him some sort of civil service job when he got older. He would lay on his bunk at night and imagine his future as a diplomatic courier, . . or a senator's clerk. No, he didn't want to be a knight, not anymore. He had been upset at first, but then he began to realize that a more mundane life tended to be a longer one. No, he wasn't going to stay in plants. He would do his work, bide his time, and nurture shoots with his less-than-knightly presence in the Force. And he would never turn to the Dark Side. And one day he would have a nice room with an enormous armchair and a holoprojector. And thanks to his incomplete Jedi training, he would never, ever have to find the remote. This fond vision of the future however, had given him no incentive to actually study the molecular workings of the crops in the lab, unlike his somewhat carefree friend. Thus Reese would know whatever the gene or virus or whatever did.

    "Don't know." (What?)

    "What?" Reese is supposed to know this stuff! He was actually almost happy to be sent to the Agricultural Corp. Here he could finally play with the pl
  17. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    (What do I know about the Force? WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT THE FORCE?!) Obi-Wan closed his eyes and mentally counted to ten in Wookie. The sounds for Wookie numerals are surprisingly long. (Why couldn't he just ask me more questions about lightsabres?)

    "The Force?" (Feign ignorance. Stall for time. Master Qui-Gon will be back soon. Stall!) Axin rolled his eyes.

    "Yes, the Force! Mr. Gantos and all the books said Jedis use the Force to make things float and open locks and see the future and stuff." They were sitting on the edge of the back porch as Axin continued play absently with his talker-thingies and swing his legs over the side to help dissipate his boundless energy. He turned to scrutinize the droid beside him. Obee-one already knew so much about Jedi; how could he not know anything about the Force? He narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Have you ever seen a Jedi do something like that?"

    Obi-Wan grinned uncertainly at his interrogator. (Overly-curious seven-year olds obsessed with Jedi are not covered in the Junior Padawan Handbook!) He would just have to keep telling the truth . . from a certain point of view. (Maybe if I pretend I'm Qui-Gon.)

    "Yes, I have." (Of course I have. I've even done most of those things.) Axin frowned at him.

    "So you DO know about the Force." Axin's face was a mixture of annoyance and triumph.

    "Yes," Obi-Wan admitted. "I know a little bit about the Force." It wasn't a lie exactly, in fact it wasn't a lie at all. For awhile now, since about the time Qui-Gon had accepted him as his padawan, he had begun to realize exactly how much he didn't know about the Force, or perhaps how much he didn't know he didn't know. How small and impotent he was next to the mysterious power which bound together all living things. People like Axin, without Force-sensitivity, were easily awed and impressed by such things as levitation and clairvoyance, but the truth of the matter was that these were mere parlor tricks, almost insignificant fluctuations in an infinitely powerful, interconnected web of energy. Not easy to perform mind you, but parlor tricks nonetheless.

    Axin considered the droid. Maybe he really did only know a little bit. Maybe he was embarrassed. Well, Axin hardly knew anything at all about the Force. He tried to make the droid more comfortable.

    "I only know a little bit too." Axin pressed his lips together as Obee-one nodded. (Thank the Force! He believes me.) The small boy leaned close and whispered, "I can't even get it to work myself." Obi-Wan winced slightly. (Oh, Axin. I may not be very strong in the Living Force and always read people very well, but I don't think you ever will.)

    "How many times did you try, other than at the recycler?" The small boy pondered this. He had tried at the recycler, and at the wamp's rock pile fortress (but that was only a dream), and when he tried to get some of his mother's Sellza cake at Harvest Fest, and when he dropped Grand-da's dental appliance down the well. He had tried many times and it had never worked. Especially at the well.

    "I don't know Obee-one. About a hundred times I guess." Axin shrugged. It had been frustrating , but he kept trying. It didn't matter that it didn't work. He would make it work. It didn't matter that the other kids at school laughed at him. He would make it work. It didn't matter that big kids like Ev Loki told him he was stupid and that he would never make it work if he tried for a million years. He would--

    Suddenly Axin paused. Obee-one looked about as old as Ev Loki. Did all his failures make the droid think Axin was stupid too? But the droid only smiled, almost sadly.

    "That's a lot of hard work. You're very dedicated." Axin looked across the yard to the chaffa field, pondering a new puzzle. He was only seven, and thus no stranger to confusion. Obee-one seemed to approve or even admire his efforts, but he also seemed sad. Why would he seem sad? Did he give up? Did he try even more and it still didn't work? Axin had been t
  18. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Tebla turned away from the kitchen window smiling. (Very clever, Little Jedi. Very clever.) All that meditating he had done this morning must have paid off. He had managed his first whopper. (Axin wasn't full of whoppers. He was full of little questions. But just when you always think he's run out of the little questions, he pulls a whopper. The question you don't know how to answer.)

    ('Will the Force still know I exist?') Axin's question rang through her mind. (Wow. That's a tough one.) He had never asked her that himself before, had never expressed any doubts about his impossible dream before, and as perceptive as he was, he still never noticed the sad, gentle attempts to dissuade him. But then again, he had never met a Jedi before, and still didn't know he had.

    At least Tebla was pretty sure he had never met a Jedi before.

    As she left the kitchen to move on to the sitting room, Tebla pondered this question. Master Jinn and his apprentice were working covertly, and they seemed comfortable with it, as if this weren't the first such "mission." Perhaps this sort of thing was fairly common among Jedi. Who knows how many times a Jedi might have sat next to her on a transport, or passed her in the marketplace?

    Suddenly Tebla remembered what planet she was on. And the . . . well, . masterful presence of Master Jinn. (Yes, there really was no other way to describe it. Masterful. Strong. But in a calming way.) They can't come here too often. If she had ever unknowingly met one of his brethren before, she was quite sure she would have remembered it. (Unless they didn't want me to.)

    Chuckling slightly, Tebla began to pack the pictures and holos around the sitting room. She had never noticed before, but all of them were taken here, on this planet, in town, in this house. Nothing from before. Not even wedding pictures. Tebla shook her head. How had she not noticed this before? In her sitting room, there were only two pictures, one from her wedding and one of Axin. Tebla wondered what pictures hung in Master Jinn's sitting room, if he indeed had one. (Where do Jedi live anyway, besides out of their traveling sacks?) Did they have apartments near the Temple, or did they have cells like monks? Or bunks like space-farers? Maybe they really didn't live anywhere, and never actually slept. Maybe they just sat and meditated instead of getting tired.

    But they were human. Eventually they would have to wash, wouldn't they?

    Zelle came in, gave her a faint smile, then began folding up the blanket she had left on the couch earlier. The pastel blanket, so soothing, that Tebla had made. Yes, that was definitely coming back with them. A gift from a friend it could not be left behind.
    (Yes it could.)

    It could. Everything could. Everything could be left behind. She had done it before.

    Well, almost everything. Zelle glanced through the doorway into the kitchen, her gaze falling on the goblet case.

    Everything but one thing. Her goblets. And Ield.

    And what had Ield carried? Their damnation. And perhaps now he would carry back the same thing. Only now it might be their salvation. Their truth to slay the demons at the center of the galaxy. To finally put away those who had hurt so many. That had made her so afraid.

    Zelle hugged the now folded blanket to her chest. A comfort. It really was soothing. Soft fabric, but woven into a rougher pattern. No, not a nursery blanket, despite the colors, but soothing nonetheless. It was an adult's blanket; soothing enough to calm, but rough enough to ground one into reality. This was definitely coming. She would need it.

    Tebla walked past on her way to the groundcar, patting her arm gently in reassurance. Zelle collected the bags she had brought from the library and the guestroom and followed to the garage. The groundcar was almost full now. Luckily the boy had had the foresight to pull the front seats back, reminding her that his rather large master still had to fit, no matter how much she might want to pa
  19. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    Finally.

    It's sharp enough now.

    Good.

    I grin as I signal to Guff. Simple Guff, with his files and his tea. Such model efficiency. I can hear him coming already, quick as ever. Will this be the last time I call you like this Guff, or is this what I will do when you're finally. . . retired. Maybe that's how I'll do it. I'll kill you right here. Let you bleed all over the files, destroying all evidence with your death. Right here. I've been meaning to change the carpet anyway.

    You should have known better Guff. You knew what the retirement plan was when you joined. Heck, your first job was to remove the corpse of your predecessor. Tsk, tsk.

    Still, I will miss your efficiency when you are gone Guff. Eternally efficient, you arrive in record time, knocking at the door as timid as ever. Maybe I should reward you with efficiency myself.

    But I won't.

    "Ye-yes?"

    "Status?" Why else would I call you here Guff? To ask if you painted your toenails? To see if the lump in your skull has shifted to the other side?

    "R-roadblock t-teams have b-been set up on the major r-roads into the t-town and the p-p-port. If he is c-coming by groundcar, he will li-likely be f-found."

    Oh, we'll find him alright.

    "Th-the m-men have als-also taken posi-sitions in town and a-around the c-cruiser as you re-requested."

    Efficient to the last.

    "And the team? Are they ready?" There will be no foul-ups this time. The elite team is going with me.

    "They're w-waiting out-outside." Good. We will wait near the ship. The best of the best.

    The one's who truly know why we're here.

    The one's like me.

    The one's who got Dr. Geneticist's little recipe. Stupid little man. You were much safer when you were as dense as a dewback. Before you figured out what it was for.

    Pity. We could have gotten so much more out of you. You were the best.

    But you couldn't keep your mouth shut, and now we're going to see the fruits of all your labor.

    Can't fight destiny. Because now it's in the genes.

    You had to go and tell him, and now . .

    . . . now we get to kill him too.

    How long do you have to hone a blade until it is sharp enough to cut out the heart of a Jedi?

    Until it's sharp enough to avenge the scar of his sabre?

    It's been eight years.

    Long enough. Definitely long enough.

    And after I cut down their savior, and his newest little brat . . .

    Too bad about all the research. It will be awhile before we find another one as naïve as you, Gantos.

    Except for Guff here.

    "And where will you be Guff? With the sharpshooters?" Why is he shaking his head at me?

    "I-I was g-going t-to the 'Tr-treehouse' to c-c-co-ordinate the men." The 'Treehouse'?

    "Why there?" I need you here Guff. An extra gun in case they slip past us. A backup for my backup. You step back a bit, rattled by my wrath. Why are you startled? Ah yes, the knife. Better sheath it. Don't want to waste the blade on you . . . yet.

    "B-better c-comm system. B-besides, b-better guns t-too."

    "You won't be shooting for me Guff?" Oh, you cringe under my sneer Guff. It's going to be so much fun making you suffer.

    "Of-of c-course. I-I-I will. B-b-but the c-comm here is n-n-n-n-not s-s-s-suff-suff, adequate!"

    I've said it before; efficient to the last. I'm going to really enjoy your ship Guff.

    "Fine. Go." Run Guff, run. Too bad your death warrant is already signed. There's a price on your head. My boredom for your life. A fair trade.

    Oh yes. Lot's of fun. But 'Serenity's Treehouse'? No.

    'The Scourge.' 'The Demon.' 'Venom and Blood.'

    'Serenity's Treehouse'? Must have been the Wookie's idea. It's not as if you've ever been serene Guff. Bah. Serenity's for Jedi. The past.

    And me and the team? We're the future.

    *******

    He felt like cursing. He really did. But he didn't. He wasn't a man who cursed.

    (Yes I am.)

    "Stars above and Stones below! IS THE WHOLE BLAZING GALAXY OUT TO GET ME TODAY?" The fuel station attendants turned to r
  20. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    "Wow-ow." Once again, Axin gaped in astonishment. Obee-one had . . . jumped over Ev. And he got back his lightsabre. How did he do that? He had never seen a droid jump like that before. Ever. He must have booster rockets like an astromech droid or something. Axin wondered why he didn't hear the booster rockets fire, but he guessed it would be rude to have loud booster rockets on a droid as polite as Obee-one. Still, being able to jump like that must come in handy when he delivered Mr. Florum's mail to his floaty-ring in the Senate. Axin had seen the floaty-ring on the newsholos, and Mr. Florum's always floated very high. Much higher than Obee-one had jumped now. (Maybe Mr. Master throws him first so he can get high enough). Yes, Mr. Master would be strong enough to throw Obee-one to Mr. Florum's ring. (So that's how Chance-lure gets his mail.)

    "Are you alright?" (Obee-one is asking Ev?) Axin couldn't understand why the droid would ask such a thing of the bully. After all, Ev wasn't the one who had just flipped over his attacker's head.

    "You . . . you . . . you . . . " (Oh.) Axin raised his eyebrows as the bully continued to mutter in monosyllables. Ev wasn't making a whole lot sense. No wonder the droid was concerned. Obee-one lifted his hand and sort of waved it at Ev.

    "There is nothing to fear."

    "YOU FLIPPED!" Ev squeaked, now trembling slightly. Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. (Will I never get that to work?) He turned to his charge.

    "Axin, maybe it would be a good idea if you got your mother. I don't think this boy is feeling quite right." Axin nodded and took off for the house. If Ev was squeaking, he definitely wasn't feeling right.

    As Axin scurried across the lawn, Obi-Wan scrutinized the boy before him. Obviously he was in some state of shock. In retrospect, Obi-Wan guessed having someone flip over you while saving you from possible blindness might be a bit out of the ordinary (and perhaps rather startling) to the more, . . . well, normal citizens of the Republic. He really hadn't thought about it as he did it, not only because it required him to be centered and one with the Force, but also because, other than the possible blindness part, having someone flip over him was a pretty typical event in his everyday life. And if this boy who was considered normal . . . reacted like this (there was a suspicious damp spot on his pants) . . .and the way Axin had been so fascinated with him . . . It was all starting to make Obi-Wan wonder if perhaps he himself was . . . odd. (Do they all think I'm that strange?)

    "MOM!" Axin's cry jerked Tebla from her paralysis. Zelle remained, eyes wide. (He flipped. The last one used to flip.)

    "Axin." She met him at the door. "Is Ev alright? Did Obi-Wan hurt himself?" (He could have broken his neck doing that!) Axin rolled his eyes.

    "Mom, Obee-one is fine. His rockets worked. Ev is acting funny." Much later, Tebla would replay this conversation and realize the implications of Obi-Wan having functional rockets, but for now the comment passed her by as she hurried out to check on the shell-shocked farmboy. Not to mention the fact that she was a bit overwhelmed with relief that Obi-Wan had not been hurt. She had seen Master Jinn with his apprentice, and had no desire to see his reaction should the boy be injured while under her indirect supervision.

    Ev continued to stare at Obi-Wan, now pointing an accusatory finger.

    "You flipped. You flipped. You're not supposed to flip." Obi-Wan was standing several feet away, his arms outstretched, palms raised in an effort to look non-threatening.

    "It will be alright. I won't do it again." He had long since given up any hope of calming the boy with the Force. Ev had decided to 'flip-out' himself, and no coaxing on Obi-Wan's part was going to change his mind.

    "Ev, are you hurt?" Tebla had finally arrived. She too studied the boy in concern. Axin tried to decide whether to feel bad for Ev (suddenly he seemed to need toddle-pants) or glad that he finally lea
  21. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3

    Everything is perfect. My team is assembled and waiting to strike. All we need is him. You're good Jedi, but all your mystical Force powers won't help you this time. We beat you to the punchline. Besides, how strong is nature when you have science on your side?

    I can feel you coming Jinn. I can feel it. Soon. So very, very soon. I wonder if you can feel it too, feel it in your bones. I'm going to break those bones. Soon. Very soon. I wonder if you will still be alive when I do it. I hope so. I want you to live to see your failures. I want you to see them die. I want you to know when the ship explodes. I want you to outlive the kid; they'll be no legacy for you other than the one I've created. I want you to see that legacy before you die.

    That's the price you pay for crossing me. You're good. Almost better than me. It's such a shame to kill you; after all you've kept my life interesting for so long. But your existence is too much of a liability.

    And that's the price you pay for trying to stop me. For getting in the way.

    Gantos has his own price to pay. I'll have to kill his little missus first. And the ship. He'll have to die knowing about the ship. Knowing that all those poor . . . innocent . . . tourists died because he couldn't keep his blasted mouth shut. Traitor to the cause; he was too stupid to see his own potential. After all, if he had any sense in his head, he'd perfect it. Strengthen it. Then take it himself and come back to destroy us all with the merest thought. But you're too stupid Gantos. A million ideas and no common sense. But you've seen too much. And your wife's seen too much, and that's all your fault.

    That's the price, and payment is overdue.

    So I sit here in the shade with the team, sipping from our canteens, trying to feel you out, Jinn. The men still haven't found you, but as I have sat here I realize there's a reason for that. You are what you are, and you will not be found by mere mortal men. And you won't be stopped by mere mortal men either.

    So there is the team. We tried it first on Smedsen. Expendable, but at least if it worked it wouldn't be wasted. Then my most loyal men. But before them, me. Of course me. I took the highest dose of all. A calculated risk. There was no telling if we could all take it. That hack we got after Gantos kept telling us that adverse reactions are always possible. That when you use a virus to change the DNA, the body can rebel. We almost lost Teli, but it would have been a small price to pay for what we have gained. And when we find our next Gantos . . . your kind will become extinct Jinn.

    There's just so much we can do with it. Take over the Republic? Why not, when the defenders of justice become null and void. Sell it on the black market? Give everyone your special powers. Maybe, if we keep the best formula for ourselves, keep our superior position. Survival of the fittest is dead. Survival of the ruthless. We make and remake our own fitness. I sneer upon your Force-gods or whomever you believe gave you your so-called powers Jinn. I've bottled your blessed gifts. And soon we'll have the blueprint back. Let your forces choose the Jedi; I choose the future, and yours will be coming to an end.

    Soon. So very, so very soon.

    Yet still I wait. If it is so very soon, shouldn't someone have seen him by now? Any word Guff?

    "Treehouse." And immediate answer to my summons. I'm glad I kept you for this one last, sweet mission Guff. I could not stand inefficiency impeding my moment of triumph.

    "Status?" As if I ever ask anything else of you Guff.

    "No sign of our quarry on the roads, nor in the town. Muscles and the Professor have infiltrated the ship in question under the guise of passengers, and have reported no further problems. All men are at their posts. We have had one report of a possible sighting of the master, but it turned out to be a fortune teller setting up a booth for the local festival."

    Who is that in the 'Treehouse'? No, in 'Rancor's Rag
  22. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    I knew it. I knew I felt you coming, Jinn. Or rather, I felt your doom coming. So soon. So very, very soon. My grip is tightening on the dwindling moments of your life. A thrill goes through me. Is it that Force I've taken for myself, or is it just my natural delight? I don't care. Soon I will smell your blood. Does Jedi blood smell different? Do you bleed more red than mere mortals do? What do all those midi-chlorians do to your blood? What have they done to mine? I have them now, Jinn. Magic in a tube. How many more do I have then you?

    My team surrounds me. Too bad we lost Gantos. He was a fool, but at least he could give us numbers, odds. "Significance." Something we could throw in the face of the Senate. But on second thought, this is better. Nothing gets a point across so well as a good, old-fashioned demonstration. A ship blown out of hyperspace. A missing scientist and his wife suddenly found and killed. And a dead Jedi master and his dead Jedi apprentice. Dead, dead, DEAD. And so much more.

    And then I can relax, spend my time on lighter things as the galaxy recognizes our sudden power and the Senate begins to panic. It's been a long time since the Sith Wars, when the Jedi last had to battle without their precious Force advantage. When they didn't have a monopoly on them. Grown soft over the centuries? Too bad.

    They have no idea what they're up against.

    True, they know about the plasmid. They may have even studied it; breaking their precious Senate's laws to save their own necks. But it won't help them, . . . because it is too late. Already taken, already in the blood, already in the genes. And I'm sure your Jedi Code won't let you take it yourselves. Besides, how many more midi-chlorians could you possibly get?

    But for now, other matters to think of. Such as what will be the name of my new ship? And how will I kill you Guff? Maybe I really should kill you quickly; after all, you did find your successor for me, you loyal dimwit. But you know I won't. Too much fun the other way.

    What do I know about you Guff? What can I do to destroy you? I know you are loyal; I'll definitely have to kill the Wookie first. I know your skull's been cracked; I'll have to go easy on that lumpy little head of yours. Don't want it to be over too quickly. I know--

    But wait, this isn't about you. It's about me. About my time to enjoy myself. About enacting revenge for a the little things you do that annoy me. It's dangerous to annoy me Guff. Almost as dangerous as it is to entertain me. Either way, you end up dead sooner or later. A dead assistant, and a dead Jedi.

    This will be a day to remember.

    And Guff, before it's over, I will never have to listen to your stuttering again.

    *********

    Sleep. Sweet sleep. Sleep now. That's what he told her to do. Sleep now.

    Annoying little boy he is, always telling her to do things. Reminding her of things. He doesn't talk about the Bad Things like the big man does, but he talks about Less Bad Things. Not Bad, but Things She Doesn't Want to Think About Things. Why does he keep doing that? What doesn't she want to think about?

    He told her she promised. She did promise, but he wasn't there. How does he know? What did she promise?

    He told her the big man can save her. Save her from what? The Bad Things?

    And what Bad Things? There are no Bad Things here.

    There isn't much of anything here.

    He told her to go here. 'Sleep now,' he said, and she had obeyed like a small pup. Why does she listen to him like that? He's just a little boy, too little to do anything about . . about what? What would he have to do anything about?

    Oh well, he must be a smart boy, even if there isn't anything he could possibly do if . . if what? If the sun stopped rising? If the milk went sour? If . . . ? If a Bad Thing happened? No, there are no Bad Things here. He wouldn't send her to a place with Bad Things because he is here to protect me. . .

    ?

    That didn't make sense.

    No matter. This p
  23. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    "She's sleeping again."

    "Are you alright?" Tebla was beginning to wonder if she was turning into a nurse, or a broken holoprojector. Obi-Wan tried to look reassuring and waved her away gently when she moved to pry herself from Ev's grasp to help him to the table. He didn't look like he needed help, but after the last time . . .

    "I'm fine. It was much easier to put her to sleep this time. Actually, all I had to do was convince her to put herself to sleep." Tebla nodded.

    "Will she be alright?" The boy nodded.

    "So long as she doesn't wake up at the wrong time, she should be. But we must move quickly. I don't know how long she will stay asleep." He turned to the soiled, sweaty boy sitting on a towel-clad chair, considering him. "Are you alright?"

    "I didn't mean for this to happen!" Obi-Wan's eyes flicked to Tebla's. She shrugged helplessly; that same statement had been the only information she had been able to glean from him. (At least I got him to sit on the towels.) Obi-Wan frowned, looking around quickly. He sensed time was waning, but the Force was telling him to stop. To listen to this boy. He really wanted to leave, but there was danger out there, and he didn't know how to avoid it. And something about this boy's desperate face told him he'd better find out what it was he didn't want to have happened. But first he had to calm the boy down. (And not into a coma!) Pouring the boy a glass of water, he sat in the opposite chair.

    "What didn't you want to happen, . . " He glanced at Tebla, hoping she knew this boy.

    "Ev."

    "What didn't you want to happen, Ev?"

    "I-I-I just wanted to get you back. And to get Axin back! And to get back at HIM! Because I looked stupid! And it made me feel stupid! And I didn't want to feel stupid anymore!" Obi-Wan nodded. (I didn't want that to happen either. I just didn't want him to push Axin around.)

    "Nobody likes to feel stupid. Who else made you feel stupid, Ev?" The Force was giving Obi-Wan a pretty good idea of what had happened, but he had to know how much this boy told him. And where they were now. He couldn't sense any imminent danger (the wood wolves weren't likely scratching at the door just yet) but 'hard to see the Dark Side is', and he was hardly a master.

    "A man! A big man, with, . . with blasters and grenades and, . . . and BLASTERS!" Ev had never seen a real blaster before. Projectile weapons, yes, blasters, no. "He, he was asking about Jedi, and where he could find them, and I was mad at you and mad at Axin and I told him!" Ev gulped the water, and Obi-Wan tried to decide which question to ask next. (What would Qui-Gon ask?) His master was much better at this sort of thing, using the Living Force to judge a person's mood, and using his instincts to ask the proper leading questions, sometimes with just a touch of the Force. (What is his mood?) Well that was obvious: panic and guilt. Finding the best method to calm the boy was less so.

    "What did you tell him, Ev?" Obi-Wan kept using his name. He had noticed Qui-Gon would often use a person's name when he was trying to reason with the hysterical. Of course, Qui-Gon also used the Force, but Obi-Wan felt he really couldn't spend his energies so freely right now. He didn't think Ev would be as difficult to calm as Zelle, but his control wasn't nearly as good as his master's, and he didn't want to think about what would happen if they were suddenly attacked while there were two people with Force-induced comas in the house and he was passed out cold on the floor. He would just have to calm Ev down by less direct means.

    "I, I told him Axin was a great Jedi master, and was at the Gantos house. And, and he grinned," Ev shuddered at the memory. "And he asked me how to get there." Obi-Wan noticed the shudder. "And then he asked if you were there, . . . and I realized he was serious! And, . . . and BAD!"

    "If I was there?" Ev nodded.

    "He asked if, . . . if the braid kid was there. If the, the Jedi kid was there. Are you, are you a--"

    "Y
  24. Alli-Wan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 1999
    star 3
    There! It's all in! (Wipes sweat from brow.) Sorry about there being no new post to celebrate, but tommorow IS Friday. I'll be back then. ;) --AWK
  25. mouse2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 1999
    star 4
    Wow Alli-Wan! I know that was a lot of work, but thank you. Actually I've been toying with the same idea myself. Can't wait for your next post. Please post it for us soon!
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