Greetings all, it's been forever since I've been active on here. I was approached about re-posting this story from ~2009, and I figured...why not? Maybe I'll be able to jump-start my writing again if I get into a routine, too. Let me know what you think. Timeline: A few centuries before ANH Characters: Mostly OCs, Master Yoda Story Type: Action/Drama/Mild Humor ___________________________________ As he stood outside a small conference room waiting for his impromptu meeting with Master Yoda to begin, Jedi Knight Pelt Quar absent-mindedly adjusted his midnight blue robe over his tailored black tunic and loose fitting trousers. He was pleased with the way his garb made him look, and he didn’t want the effect spoiled by a couple of wrinkles. Long, loosely flowing ginger-brown hair almost reached the middle of his back. His hair was all uniform length and cut just so; he only trusted one barber. His hard, angular jaw was always clean shaven. He refused to wear what the fashionistas were calling a “soul patch”—the strip of beard that ran from the bottom of his lower lip to just above the end of the chin. It was his one rebellion in the galaxy of popular human styles. Gray eyes stared hard at his tall frame in the nearly-reflective wall, hoping to see the affect of his fastidious grooming. Distant steps from behind caused him to turn and see the approaching party of people. A bug-eyed, silver-plated humanoid protocol droid was leading a group of dignitaries from who-knew-where. Four of them wore the armor of soldiers or bodyguards, while a man, perhaps ten years older than Pelt escorted what appeared to be his daughter through the Temple halls. Her eyes locked onto his and a slow appreciative grin crept across her face. When he smiled back, she blushed furiously and broke eye contact. Pelt bowed modestly as they passed, barely hiding his open leering at the young woman’s figure. He couldn’t suppress a wink as she turned around, causing yet another rosy glow to warm her pale features. “Others you might be able to convince of your modesty, but fooled, the Jedi are not.” Yoda’s voice behind him was completely unexpected. Pelt flinched, turning to face the diminutive Jedi, unable to think of anything to say that wouldn’t make him seem more pompous. Instead, he bowed again, much more deeply this time. Green eyes regarded him from almost a meter and a half below. Yoda finally gave a jerking nod. “Wise you are to hold your tongue. In.” One sharp-nailed digit pointed towards the door opened to the conference room. Unwilling to risk more trouble, Pelt strode inside. His stride faltered when he saw the other Masters waiting for him, though. Hruuvokka, the newly raised Wookiee Jedi Master growled a welcome that could have been mistaken for a growl of another kind. Two other Jedi Council members, ancient humans both, regarded him coolly. A clandestine meeting was most likely not the news he had been hoping to hear. Promotion to Jedi Master would probably not be coming this day. Yoda hobbled by, heading towards the seat situated next to the other three Jedi. Hruuvokka howled a few grunts, signaling the beginning of the meeting that Pelt had been ordered to attend. “Do you know why you’re here?” Davip Galgalor asked mildly, hands steepled over his nose. His wrinkled face was so permeated with lines it appeared his face could slough off at any time. “No, Masters,” Pelt replied, trying to sound meek. “Well I’ll tell you why you’re here,” Pul Tchar, the other human Master cut in. Unwilling to beat around the bush, he bypassed the polite way the other Masters might have spent half an hour trying to communicate their same opinion. “The four of us think you’re an arrogant, egotistical slimo unfit to be promoted beyond Jedi Knight.” There was no malicious intent behind the words, no anger. But there was distrust, and at least a little dislike in his tone. The news stunned Pelt enough to drop his jaw. He never meant to come across as such, though he had been warned by other Jedi, not the least of which his own Master, to beware of his seemingly inflated impression of his own worth. “The most arrogant Jedi in the Order, have I heard you called,” Yoda said, gesturing mildly with one hand. “Unfortunate, this is, and must be corrected if you hope to attain Masterhood.” He was flabbergasted. Was he going to be denied a Master’s title because he was a fastidious groomer and a snappy dresser? Because he had negotiated successful peace treaties between warring nations on dozens of occasions? Because he had single-handedly destroyed a nest of gundarks that threatened a small city back on Thorlis Prime? Pelt knew he deserved that title. In fact, he knew of nobody else in the entire Order who deserved it more than he did. Oh, he thought to himself. That was his arrogance. Other events passed through his mind, each time his actions took on a different light and, through a certain point of view, made him seem like a cock-fluhtt strutting with the brilliant plumage of his tail exposed for all the hens to gawk at. As much as he would have liked to refute the charge, or try to mitigate his circumstances, Pelt kept his mouth shut. “I told you he could be silent when it mattered,” Davip said. “Continuing to ignore the protocol Pul threw by the wayside, I’ll get right down to it. We four are refusing your ascension to Master because of our perceptions of your motivations and…shall we say…your over-inflated self worth?” Pelt had never been called an arrogant bastard so nicely before. “A proposal have we for you,” Yoda chimed in, as though the entire conversation had been rehearsed. “We know who you’ve picked out for your Padawan,” Davip said. “We understand why you will choose him, and many Jedi agree that he is a good match for you. But.” The room filled with silence as they gave him a few moments to think. Pelt tried to keep his features neutral, but he wasn’t sure how successful he was as he fought through the incredulous implication. Give up Naan Chudo? I couldn’t possibly choose another Apprentice. He’s intelligent, self-assured, and well rounded in his Force abilities. I’ve had my eye on that young man for the last eight years. I’m not giving him up to some other Jedi, no way. I should be the one to teach him. Me! Pelt closed his eyes. Damn! I am that arrogant, he thought to himself. Other than his small sigh, he gave no other outward sign that he had just understood what the Masters had been talking about. He didn’t have to. Pelt knew they had been sensing his roiling emotions the entire time. He opened his eyes and forced himself to relax. “But?” “But another there is, who needs your instruction more. Know you Hilaal Yuchee?” Pelt searched his brain, but nobody by that name came to mind. As if anticipating this, Davip Force-floated a datapad over to him. He took the pad and flipped it over and started reading aloud through the short bio. “Born in a small colony on Dantooine, she had been abandoned as an infant at the foot of a Jedi’s starship. The Jedi, about to turn her over to an orphanage, discovered she was Force sensitive, though her moderate midichlorian count suggested her abilities could be somewhat limited. Through the years, she has been a fair student, excelling only in physical abilities, scoring average in theoretical and scholastic exams while barley passing her Force-ability tests.” She sounds like a real winner he thought facetiously to himself as he paused. “Her image is at the top,” Pul said, a subtle sneer erupting across his face. Suddenly dreading the result, he scrolled up and saw the face of Hilaal Yuchee. “No…” he murmured, recognizing the girl with big frightened eyes who had always been hiding in a corner while the other Younglings had crowded around him and begged him for one of his stories. Every time Pelt had seen her, her face was dirty, her red hair was lifeless and jagged, as though she tried to cut it herself, blindfolded, with a half-functional vibroblade. Her white robes hung awkwardly on her very narrow shoulders and were often singed around the edges. While her clothes were never actually dirty, there were often odd patterns, crudely hand-sewn into the white fabric. “You want me to teach this girl,” Pelt asked, nearly incredulous. “Masters, I don’t think I have anything to offer her.” “But you do,” Yoda countered, hiding a small smile. “She is everything you are not. Learn many things from her, you could.” “Learn from—!” Pelt barely restrained himself from throwing the datapad across the room. Not only were they trying to take away the Padawan that would be like a small version of himself, they were trying to stick him with that…slip of a girl who’d probably never amount to anything. And they were insisting that he would be the one doing all the learning. It was preposterous and insulting to the extreme. “Masters, I will not.” “Will not?” Davip echoed, his voice still mild. “Oh you will, Pelt. You will train her and make a Jedi out of her, or we will chain you to a desk and see to it that you leave the Temple archives no more than once a season for two and a half minutes at a time. I have grave need of…” his smile became suddenly predatory. “…of an assistant.” “Training her may bring other rewards,” Pul added, this time he seemed almost supportive. “Perhaps if you’re successful, Masterhood could await you.” First they beat him senseless with the stun-baton and then they dangle the sugar-tuber. He clenched his fists and tried to keep his face from turning a violent shade of crimson. “Or you could leave the Jedi,” Davip said. Pelt’s eyes sprang open. “No! I will never leave the Jedi. The Jedi are my family, as abusive and manipulative as they sometimes are,” he said, glaring daggers at all four of them. The only reaction that got him was the chuffing laughter of an amused Wookiee. There was no way these four were going to pressure him to leave the Temple. He had grown up here, been trained here, and he loved being a Jedi. Pelt lived for helping others, loved bringing criminals to justice or rescuing those in distress—especially the attractive women. Though Jedi weren’t supposed to crave adventure, he truly did. He would sooner cut off his own limbs than leave the Temple, or get shuffled away to the depths of the archives. He clenched his fists tightly and tried to feed his anger and disappointment to the Force. The attempt was only moderately successful. “As you command, Masters. I will teach Hilaal Yuchee.” Yoda’s wide smile was like a slap in the face. “Thought reason, you would see. You may go.” With a deep bow he did his best to disguise his irate expression, turning around before any of them could see the thunderheads lighting up his face. Pelt stomped out the door. There wasn’t a Jedi in the entire temple who didn’t sense the storm raging around Pelt Quar over the course of the next week.