Chapter 36: Mace Windu

Coruscant

Lines wrinkled across Master Windu's forehead as he sat upright in his chair. There was something deeply unsettling about the way Jazal carried herself as she stood before the High Council.

Yoda turned to face Windu and nodded, clearly sensing something too.

Something about Jazal seemed both cynical and amused. The Miraluka was not the least bit concerned regarding her trial.

Mace Windu cleared his throat, "Jazal, you stand before the High Council, accused of assault, misappropriating funds, and providing misleading statements while under oath. How do you plead?"

"Neither," Jazal said calmly.

Mace Windu frowned, sensing a degree of amusement from her. She finds this funny.

"Enter a plea, you must," Yoda croaked. For the first time in years Mace Windu could sense a hint of impatience from the Grand Master.

Obi-Wan's holopresence sighed. "Jazal, these are serious and grave charges, not a laughing matter. You may be held in contempt of the High Council."

"No Obi-Wan," Jazal sighed back, sounding extremely arrogant—as if she had thought of something a less intelligent being would have never come up with.

Mace Windu stared into her eyeless face. "Jazal, if you continue to act this way you will be held in contempt and a representative will be appointed to speak on your behalf."

"I invoke my Right of Denial!" Jazal exclaimed dramatically.

Plo-Koon, Adi Galia, and Obi-Wan gasped in shock.

Mace Windu contained his surprise. The Right of Denial was an ancient right which a Jedi could invoke to protest a decision of the High Council. When a Jedi invoked it, he or she would be exempted from whatever the High Council ordered. In return, however, they would have to temporarily step down as a Jedi and turn in their lightsaber. Never had it been invoked to avoid the outcome of a trial. Invoking the right was viewed as downright treasonous.

"You can't invoke the Right of Denial to avoid a trial," scoffed Master Oppo Rancis.

"I don't think..." Adi Galia started, then paused. "We need legal counsel on this matter."

"You can't be serious," Oppo remarked. "This would mean—Well, that makes no sense!"

Mace Windu nodded. "It doesn't make any sense. Jazal, if this is your big move, I am frankly unimpressed."

"I am not invoking my Right of Denial to avoid a trial," Jazal spoke slowly, as if lecturing toddlers. "I am protesting the High Council's general competence. I am doubting this governing body's ability to make any decision whatsoever."
"Now you are merely disguising your contempt within a Right of Denial," Windu retorted. "This is… I move we hold Jazal in contempt of the High Council."

Yoda hmm'd to himself, looking around the room. "Correct, Master Adi Galia is. Legal counsel, we need."

o.o.o.o.o

An hour after Jazal had been whisked away to the detention block, the Fourth Assistant Attorney General of the Galactic Republic, Kevzod Stenir, appeared before the High Council.

"While I admit I am not familiar with Jedi Jurisprudence per se," Kevzod cautioned, before explaining his opinion, "Jazal seems to be within her right to invoke a Right of Denial."

"This makes no sense," Mace Windu said in a slightly raised voice. "Any Jedi can then just invoke a Right of Denial after being charged with a crime and put us in legal checkmate!"

"Stalemate, Master Windu," Ki-Adi-Mundi explained in a philosophical tone. "In Demesne, checkmate is when one opponent wins. This does not mean Jazal has won or been found not guilty."

Windu frowned once again. Today he had more than his fill of arrogant Jedi who believe they are smarter than anyone else.

Kevzod's holopresence nodded. "Exactly. Master Mundi is correct. Jazal has not won, she has only given you no viable means to put her on trial. Until she withdraws her Reight of Denial, or you drop your charges on her changing the Council's position, there is no viable move forward. It is a legal stalemate, as it were."

"Are you suggesting we should lock Jazal away indefinitely?" asked Obi-Wan's holopresence in a concerned tone. "That can't be what you are suggesting."

Kevzod shook his head. "I am not suggesting anything. The next move is up to you."

But I thought you said there were no viable moves, Mace Windu thought to himself, glaring at Kevzod's holopresence.

"Give thanks for your counsel, we do," Yoda replied serenely.

"It is simply my duty," Kevzod shrugged. "Have a good afternoon."

Mention of the time prompted Mace Windu to turn around and look out the window behind him. Traffic was its usual low in the mid afternoon, criss-crossing in an organised manner across the Federal District.

Once Kevzod's holopresence disappeared, Yoda spoke cautiously. "To a dark place, I sense any action will send us. No good options, there are."

"I agree," Plo-Koon said. "If we do nothing and let her walk free, it sets a precedent for Jedi to be able to commit any crime and walk free. If we keep her detained until she enters a plea, it allows the High Council to indefinitely detain someone without a trial."

Mace Windu considered both points for a second, but only a second. "Considering the costs and risks of both options, I say we keep her detained."

"Master Windu," Obi-Wan cautioned, "respectfully, I fear your experiences with Jazal may bias you against her."

The air suddenly felt unusually tense. The Jedi Masters paused, exchanging speechless looks.

Windu shrugged calmly. "You may be right, Obi-Wan. I sense, however, that this atmosphere of doubt is exactly what Jazal wanted to create."

o.o.o.o.o

Jazal

"RIGHT OF DENIAL!" Rael Averross guffawed, slapping the table in amusement. His raucous laughter caused the old Mon Calamari Jan-Ca Suldor to awaken from one of his daydreams, warbling in shock.

"Indeed," Jazal smirked. "You should have sensed their faces. Serves them right for how they treat all of us."

Rael replied with an impressed whistle. "You're seriously playin' with fire."

"I know. But at this juncture, what other option do I have?" Jazal leaned in closely, sensing Temple Guard's listening in. "Besides, this way I get to have a bit of fun while I make them squirm. Worst case scenario, they lock me up here until I am an old Miraluka. But I hid more than eight million credits from them… Realistically? They probably would have done that anyways."

"I don't know about that," Real sighed. "With the war goin' on the way it is, the High Council could get desperate. Maybe they'll offer us both early release in exchange for fighting?"

"Let's hope the Republic starts losing then," Jazal muttered conspiratorially.

"Yeah," Rael grunted, folding his arms across his chest in a flex. He paused for a moment, looking over his shoulders towards the Temple Guards, then back to Jazal. "I really didn't mean to make Sey'les feel uncomfortable."

"Neither did I," Jazal replied. "Let's just hope the Bothans are more reasonable than the High Council. Maybe you're right about the war… Maybe we'll get to tell her ourselves—Earlier than we thought we would."