AN: This is not one of my nicer stories. Someone dies a really horrible death in this. And to top it off, he doesn't even have a name. But That's toward the end.
Word of warning: In word, this document is 57 pages long. It's a really, really long short story, and it's pretty involved, so give yourself a couple of hours to work through it...or do it in sections, maybe. Have fun!
Characters: Allie, Stass; Antilles, Bail; Bernath, Hakan; C'both, Jorus; Master Dooku; Fisto, Kit; Master Jenneth; Jinn, Qui-Gon; Jinzler, Dean; Jinzler, Lorna; Jinzler, Sandra; Jinzler, Zef; Kenobi, Obi-Wan; Knith, Shæli; Ma'Ning, Justyn; Muln, Garen; Nay'ath, Ter'ka; Necar, Lys; Nikwete, Langk; Olin, Ferus; Organa, Bail; Master Peko; Skywalker, Anakin; Skywalker, Shmi; Slanker, Erkan; Suthok, Gaj; Tachi, Siri; Master Yoda
Reasoning: To show how the Pirate Wars started, and what was going on immediately after the Massacre in the Senate.
Timeline: GRS 3:4:17, on for a couple of months.
Langk Nikwete looked up from his normally quiet desk as one of the runners, Lys Necar, for the news bureau came up to him. He had been assigned to covering news coming out of the Jedi Temple—his first job at this third-rate holo rag—but it paid the bills.
"No, just dropping this off," she said, handing him a datadisc. He slid it into a reader, and scanned the contents.
"Wonder what this is about."
"Don't know, but this is all the information that has come out of the Temple since the Massacre in the Senate. It could be anything. You're assigned, so you're going to be heading for the press conference."
"It's not set until tomorrow."
"I noticed, but it's in, so you get it now."
"There's nothing about what Master Yoda wants to speak about."
"This is the first press conference the Temple's held that I can find."
"Alright," he said, waving her off. She headed back to the front desk, where runners hovered most of the time. He had a feeling that his job was about to get interesting, he just didn't know how interesting.
* * *
Zef Jinzler came home after a very hard day at the job he'd had for sixteen years, ever since he'd given his younger daughter to the Jedi Temple, and the Temple had told him he couldn't work there anymore. It sometimes made him sad, but he had also understood that it would be that way if they decided to do so, and so they had moved halfway across the planet, and left Lorana at the Temple.
"Welcome home," Sandra, his wife, said.
"Hey," he said, sitting down at the table. She sat a plate in front of him. He'd worked later than normal, and she'd already fed Dean and Ashley. They weren't little any more, but Dean was still in secondary school and Ashley was taking classes at the local community college while staying at home, so they both got up early, and would be winding down and doing homework in their rooms now.
"All that's been on the HoloNet all day today is that the Temple is holding a press conference," she said as she sat down with him.
"It's been two days since that business in the Senate. I'm sure they are just releasing something about how the Jedi will ensure that everything is still running smoothly while the Senate gets back up and running."
"I'm sure it is, but there's so much talk. They are talking about the five Jedi who died fighting someone called the Sith Lord. They are talking about how the Jedi are wholesale taking over government functions."
"The first is rather sad, but none of those who were killed was Lorana, and the second seems pretty necessary, considering the Senate can only come up with a quarter of their full membership right now. There are some Senators who were off planet, but it's going to be a while until they get enough people here to effectively run things."
"I know, Zef. But it still makes me wonder about what is going on, what he wants to say. If you want to watch, it's going to be on at eleven standard."
"Which is in half an hour. I am curious," he said, and dug into his dinner. His wife had been, well, the derogatory term was a droid herder, but she was good at it when they'd been at the Temple. Most buildings didn't need the same level of care as the Temple did, and so herding wasn't nearly as complex. She couldn't seem to market her skills effectively in the neighborhood they lived in now, so she stayed home unless someone who knew what she could do with droids needed her special touch. She averaged working about seven days a month, close to two weeks, but it didn't pay as well as it had when they'd worked at the Temple.
She chatted with him about what each of their children had been doing of late, and how well Dean finally seemed to be doing with school. The half-hour slipped by quickly, and they settled into the common room to watch the press conference. She flipped onto a particular channel on the HoloNet, because she liked the reporter, Nikwete, or something. He could have cared less. Dean came out of his room. "Can I watch, too?"
"Sure, so long as you'll be able to get up for school," Zef told him.
"I will, Dad. This is for school, anyway. They said we could watch it live or in the morning, whichever our parents would allow. History is made every day."
"That it is," Zef agreed, and Dean sat on a footstool off to the side of the sofa. He was lanky, even gawky, but at fifteen he was starting to finally grow into his longer arms and legs, and starting to put muscle onto the bones that were going to define his shape as a man. He noticed that Dean's hair was getting a bit shaggy. They would have to go and get their haircut soon. Sandra didn't complain about it, but he knew that she didn't like either of them to look less than their best.
Master Yoda walked out onto a platform that had been elevated for his diminutive stature. "Greetings, beings of the Republic. Know many of you do that terrible things happened in the Senate three days ago. Revealed, a grave threat was, to our society, to our Jedi, to our way of life. Take over the basic functions of government the Temple will until restored the Senate is. Work to restore the Senate we will. Planetary governments, contact the Temple if in need of assistance you are with choosing your new Senators."
Master Yoda took a breath, and Zef waited in anticipation for the other thruster to fire. This couldn't be all that he wanted to say. "Need for a great change in the function of the Temple this revealed. From this day forward, allowed the families of our Jedi will be to contact them. Allowed to bring the children and stay in the Temple they will be as well, for new Jedi. Connect to the people we need to, not isolate ourselves away from everything. Areas of the Temple will also be open to the public, and request the presence of a Jedi to speak with anyone may. A grave mistake that has been perpetuated for thousands of years we seek to correct. Thank you for listening," he said to the assembled reporters.
The assembled reporters, taking that as the signal that he was done speaking, began shouting questions. He looked harshly at the reporters, who one by one fell silent. "Directed to the Temple your questions may be. Answered as soon as possible they will be. Acting like unruly Initiates, tolerate this I will not."
Master Yoda looked the crowd over again, and nodded, barely perceptibly, and then walked away from the microphone toward an awaiting speeder, piloted by a young Jedi, presumably back to the Temple. The holocamera focused on the reporter then. "There you have it, folks. The Temple is being opened to the public, and from the sound of it, there are some sweeping changes that are going to be happening in the government and in the Temple in the near future. We will report the results to any inquiries to the Temple straight to you, our viewers."
At this point, Sandra shut the HoloNet down. "Same old Master Yoda," she said, "He can still rule an entire room with just a look of disapproval."
"Maybe I should make an inquiry to the Temple as to whether we can move back there."
"What do you think, Dean?"
He shrugged. "It might be ok."
"We aren't going to pull you out of school and move halfway across the planet if you aren't ok with this, Dean."
He thought about it for a little bit. "We'd get to live in the Temple though, right?"
"I think so. There are quarters for workers in the lower levels of the Temple, not too far above the Room of a Thousand Fountains."
"That's the lowest usable level, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is. It sits flush to what is considered ground level in that area. There are some pretty neat tricks that the Temple uses to funnel natural light into the gardens."
"Really? Do you think that I could learn about the architecture of the Temple while I'm there?"
"Probably. You might even be allowed limited access to the Archives."
"That would be pretty wizard," Dean agreed.
"Alright. Off to bed with you," Sandra said. "No need to get excited about something that hasn't happened yet."
"Ok, Mom," he agreed, and headed for his room.
"What about Ashley?" Sandra asked after a few minutes.
"She was wanting to move into the dorms when she started college, she can do that, or she can come to the Temple, if they have classes appropriate for her."
Sandra nodded. "Did you want to contact the Temple, see if they are really going to be doing what they've said? It is the middle of the day there."
"Yes, but they're also going to be swamped with questions from the reporters. It will be a few days before they would even be getting back to us."
"You're probably right, but if you get your place in line, we might hear from them sooner."
"Alright, I'll call."
"I'll see you when you come to bed," she said with a kiss on his cheek.
He smiled as she left to get ready for bed, and he started dialing the HoloNet number for the Temple's directory.
* * *
Langk Nikwete sighed as the cameraman signaled that they were off-air. "So what now, mate?" his cameraman asked.
"I think we should head down to the Temple, Gaj."
"What'cha think that for?"
"Well, if we can, as members of the public, have access to the Temple, even in part, then we can possibly get in to talk to the big man himself."
"I dunno who you saw up there, but Master Yoda idn't all that big."
"Would you have said anything to him when he was looking down on all of us?"
"So, he has a big personality. Come on, it's about five minutes to the Temple."
They headed for the speeder, and with a bit of fancy driving from Gaj, they were at the speeder landing for the Temple. "State your business," a non-descript human Jedi said to them as they were getting out of the speeder.
"We would like to set up an appointment to speak with Master Yoda."
"That is not possible," the Jedi told him as they exited the platform.
"Well, Master Yoda said that we could come talk to any Jedi."
"Master Yoda instructed that any person may come speak with a Jedi. Specific Jedi may not be requested, as per his orders," he was told, and he realized then that he would be having a long day.
"Alright, then, I'd like to speak with a Jedi."
"Regarding?" this was said with mild curiosity, enough inflection to indicate a question. It was rather disconcerting.
"The need for a press secretary for the Temple."
"Someone will be with you shortly," he said, escorting them into a small room off the main entrance. There appeared to be a number of these rooms, and he wondered what they had previously been used for.
"You bucking for th' job?"
"Maybe," he said to Gaj, "But whether I get it or not, he's going to need someone coordinating contact with the media. We need more information than just 'we're having a press conference.'"
"Sure, but how are you going to convince them?"
"I've been working this beat for three years. I know the Jedi. Blunt, honest truth goes so much further with them than anything else. All I have to do is tell them that they have a problem, believe that I have the solution to the problem, and they will at least consider what I have to say."
"I suppose," Gaj said, sitting in one of the two chairs and kicking his feet up onto the table.
"I would suggest that you be more respectful of the Temple's property," said the Nautolan Jedi who entered the room.
"Yes, sir," Gaj said, sitting upright.
"My name is Kit Fisto," he said, holding his hand out to shake with each of them.
"Langk Nitwete, and this is Gaj Suthok, my cameraman."
"Pleased to meet you," Master Fisto said, nodding.
"I had an idea for the Temple," Langk started.
* * *
Zef Jinzler pulled up to the landing pad of the Temple. It had been quite some time since he'd been here, at least outside the annual visits when the Temple allowed the public in. He wondered briefly if those 'open house' days would be a thing of the past. He hoped not.
"State your business," a Jedi Padawan said as he got out of the speeder.
"I have an appointment about a job. Jinzler."
The young man, who wasn't much older than Dean, probably not older than Lorana, paused for a moment. "Yes, Mr. Jinzler. Master Ma'Ning is waiting for you. Please allow me to escort you."
"Thank you," he said, following the Jedi down to the Main Entrance. There were several Jedi and several civilians, but no one that he recognized.
Master Ma'Ning was waiting in a room that had a table and two chairs, as all the side rooms from the Main Entrance held. "So, you want to return to employment with the Temple," Master Ma'Ning started. He was not one to beat around the bush.
"Yes, sir. It was an honor to work for the Temple before, and it would be an honor to work here again."
"Why did you leave?"
"When our third-born, Lorana was born and tested, she qualified to be a Jedi. We gave up our life here so that she could serve as a Jedi."
"And with the new rules, you believe that you will be able to successfully return to the Temple," Master Ma'Ning stated, and it wasn't exactly a question, but he'd been around enough Jedi to know that he was expected to expound upon the point.
"Yes, we hope to. Our youngest, Dean, he's two years younger than Lorana, so he will still need some education, but working for the Temple pays better than working outside of it. We could put him into better schools with that extra money."
"We actually wouldn't want that. Part of what Master Yoda is outlining will include non-Force sensitives being trained in our schools."
"So he would go to school here, with his sister?"
"She's going to be two years ahead of him, but essentially, yes. What is it that you did previously for the Temple?"
"Electronics, maintenance. Whatever I was needed to do."
"And your wife was also employed here?"
"Yes, she was a droid herder."
Master Ma'Ning smiled. "I believe that we have missed her skills. She was quite good at her job, was she not? Our current droid task scheduler tends to miss a few things."
"Yes, she was very good at it. Marcus, our oldest, he's not too bad at it, either. He's the only one who seemed to have inherited her talents."
"What about your other child?"
"Ashley? She's going to community college. She lives with us right now, but if we moved to the Temple, she could move into the dorms."
"An admirable solution. She would also be encouraged to come here to learn, if she desired to do so."
"So, do you think that we could come back?"
"It is feasible. I took the opportunity to review your case with some of the other Masters when I learned of your situation, and we determined that we could allow you to come here, at least on a temporary basis until your youngling decides whether or not she wants contact with you."
"Well, she doesn't know us, I could see that being hard, suddenly having a family, two brothers, a sister. I hope that she accepts us, but I wouldn't want her to feel obligated to us. We just want her to be happy."
"That's very good, Mr. Jinzler. For now, the Temple will be happy to accept you here, but pushing Lorana into contact will be unproductive, at the least, and she's become a Padawan, and her Master is as much in charge of her life as anyone at this point, so we will have to go through him. Master C'baoth is well respected in the Temple, so hopefully there will not be any problems with him. I don't know him personally, but I hear good things about him."
"That's good. I've seen him from a distance, and he looks very taciturn."
"Most Masters seem to look that way. It does not detract from one's ability to be a good Jedi."
"How should we go about contacting Master C'baoth to set up a meeting with Lorana?"
"When you decide to move in, we can have someone get you his comlink number, and you can contact him that way. I imagine that you'll have a great deal to talk about with Master C'baoth."
"Yes, I imagine so. I will let my wife know that we've been cleared to come back to the Temple. Who should I contact when we are ready to move in?"
"Shæli Knith is in charge of coordinating incoming families," Master Ma'Ning said, sliding a piece of flimsiplast across the table to him. "Here is how you contact her. I look forward to seeing you around the Temple in the near future."
* * *
"Master Jinn, Master Jinn," the high-pitched voice that belonged to the Chosen One sounded through the corridors of the Temple from behind the revered master. Well, revered by those he considered important.
"Master Allie said I was to find you, that she wanted to talk to you," he said, bending over in an effort to catch his breath.
He raised an eyebrow, a gesture lost on the nine-year-old. "And she sent you to get me?"
"Well, I kinda volunteered. She said something about hunting you down and bringing you in at 'saber point."
"She won't resort to brandishing her lightsaber at me just to get me down to the Healer's Wing," he looked at the boy's sorrowful expression, the one that said he didn't really believe that Stass Allie would fail to resort to force if she felt it necessary.
"She said she needs to see if you are healing, like with my arm."
"The scars on my stomach haven't changed since she looked at them last."
"Still, Master Jinn, you aren't a Healer, and if she just wants to look…"
"She won't just want to look, she'll want to poke and prod, and check it with the Force."
"But she does the same thing to me," Anakin said. Qui-Gon sighed. It was a losing battle. Anakin, precocious child that he was, really didn't see that his treatment was all that different. He didn't complain, because he was getting far better treatment than he felt he deserved as a recently-freed slave.
"Alright then, I suppose we should get going," he said, and he started off in the direction of the Healer's, at his usual ground-eating pace. He stopped after a few strides, realizing that Anakin was practically having to run to keep up. He continued at a more sedate pace. The boy was growing, daily, according to the Healers, but there was only so much that he could grow in a given space of time, though his body was doing a vigorous job of making up for the years he'd spent in slavery.
"I can get to call Mom tomorrow, right?"
"I believe that was the agreement."
"So, what should I say to her? I haven't talked to her…"
"Since you came here. I know. She likely doesn't know about the fight with the Sith, or Obi-Wan taking you as his apprentice, or a great many other things."
"So, what should I talk about? How long do I have to talk to her?"
"You have an hour to talk to her, but that will be fairly consistent, every week or every two weeks. The Council is still debating."
He was horrified. "The C-Council is talking about how much I can talk to Mom?"
"Of course not. They are talking about how often all Padawans and Initiates should be in contact with their families, and what methods of contact they should use. I imagine it will be left to the individual masters."
"Oh, so it will be up to Master Obi-Wan?"
"I imagine so. They will debate for the next year or so, and in the meantime we do as we see fit with our Padawans, and they will decide that's probably best. But that is not something we need to worry our heads over just now. Tomorrow, you will be contacting your mother, and you should try to decide what topics you think you will need to discuss with her."
"What do you think, Master?"
"I think you should tell her that the Council has agreed to allow contact between our Initiates and Padawans and their families, and that while you and Obi-Wan still need to work out the details, you will probably be contacting her either every Fifth Day, or every other Fifth Day."
"And the Sith?"
"Do you think that your mother will be greatly upset by the idea that you were attacked even before you left Tatooine?"
"Yes, she's my mother. She says it's her job to worry about me."
"So, perhaps it is. You might give her a general idea of how you lost your arm, and if she asks for more details, you can give them to her later."
"If you think it's best, Master, I don't want to scare her, or make her think it's a bad thing for me to be here, but I don't want to lie to her," he said, and the innocent way he said it made Qui-Gon think that he felt lying to be the worst thing a person could do. How he wished that were really true.
"I think it is best to at least tell her that you were attacked by a man who wanted to kill you. If she asks more about it, tell her."
Anakin considered for a while. "Yes, Master, I think you are right. She will worry, but I will tell her that I am safe so long as I have you and Master Obi-Wan."
"I think she will be glad to hear that. You should tell her that you have been accepted as a Padawan as well. I think she will be pleased to hear it."
"Yes, Master. I think she will be happy for me. I hope so, anyway," he said, biting his lip. "Maybe she'll be sad?"
"I imagine so, but it will be a good kind of sad, because she will also know that she will be able to talk to you often, even though you are far away."
They arrived at the Healer's then. Anakin steeled himself, and Qui-Gon did no less, and they entered for their examinations.
* * *
Bail Organa was not terribly sure as to what he needed from his soon-to-be predecessor, but he knew that he was definitely not going to have enough information or experience to do as he had been given chosen to do, considering.
Bail Antilles was retiring. He said it was time, and that nothing would talk him out of it. After having been in what the media was calling the Massacre at the Senate, and surviving, Bail thought it best to let his cousin do what he needed to do to maintain his sanity, but he needed to talk about the things that he would need to know going into this situation. There were planets and sectors that were going to be taking months to organize elections; it was going to be a long time before the Senate was going to be able to effectively run the government.
"I know that you don't think this is the time for you to step into this position, even though tradition dictates that you do so, but I say this is exactly the time."
"You won't consider going back," he half-asked. He knew the answer, but he wanted confirmation.
"No, cousin, I can't," he said, facing out one of the terraced windows in this office they were using.
"Then I will need you to teach me."
Bail Antilles turned, and smiled. "That I can do," he said, and they got down to the business of teaching Bail Organa how to help run a galaxy.
* * *
Anakin got up quite early most mornings at the Temple, but he was permitted to sleep an extra thirty minutes on Fifth Day. He, unlike other Padawans, still had classes, and work that needed desperately to be done on Fifth Day. That was the main reason that his communication with his mother was so short today, and he knew it.
"Well, Anakin, you have a big day today," his Master said, and he smiled.
"I get to talk to Mom today, then I have meditation with Master Jinn, and TK with Master Yoda," he recited.
"And then I shall collect you and we can have lunch. I believe a Knight I am acquainted with will want to join us today."
"Really, who?" he asked as he selected his clothes for the day. That he was given more than two outfits made him feel very good about living in the Temple.
"Garen Muln. He's back from a short mission the Council had him on, and I believe he is a bit curious about you."
"Why about me?"
"Well, among other things, because I have chosen to train you."
"Oh," Anakin said, and decided that getting dressed would be the best way to avoid awkward topics.
"Come on, Padawan, breakfast today is blue milk and eggs and toast with jam."
"Really, Master?" he asked, scrambling faster to get into his tunic.
"Yes, really. I don't understand why you don't want something else, but, yes, really."
"It's so good, though, Master."
"I suppose," Master Obi-Wan agreed. He had some sort of cereal with blue milk on it while Anakin ate what Obi-Wan had cooked for him.
* * *
Master Yoda woke at the same time every morning, regardless of what morning it was. His younglings, his Jedi, seemed to think that there was something more special about the last day of the week, but he didn't see it that way. He indulged them, though. He had many things to accomplish today, and the first of those was to have a good breakfast.
He entered the small kitchen that was afforded the Grand Master, and got out what the droids in the Temple would have considered not to be food, and he prepared some of it. Things had only gotten worse in the two weeks since the Massacre of the Senate as the media ghouls insisted on calling it. The Grand Master sighed. He didn't understand the need for some to glorify violence and death. There were other problems, serious ones, but they were ones for politicians. No, what was really worrying the Grand Master was how the Order would react to the sweeping changes that NEEDED to happen. He sighed as his breakfast that a human would charitablely call pond scum came to a boil. He took a taste and nodded in satisfaction. How he loved rootleaf stew, and he'd cooked it just long enough. The tube worms were just warm enough to start being active. He loved the way they tried to wriggle out of his stomach. He sighed as he ate his breakfast.
He knew most of his Order would not be happy by the changes, not because they would have real objections, but because it changed the way things had ALWAYS been done. Alas, such arguments only supported his own conclusions. He sighed again, finishing up the last bit of stew from his bowl. He put the bowl in the sink; the cleaning droid he'd been assigned some time ago would take care of it. It made pitiful noises that he couldn't stand if he made it go away, or if he didn't give it anything to do. He supposed it had been programmed to do so by someone who thought he couldn't take care of himself as well as he could. He was getting on in years, it was true, and once he'd gotten used to the little thing, he was better able to settle his mind to other tasks.
He harrumphed, realizing that was only another symptom of the overall problem. Even he wasn't immune to the laziness that had crept into the Order over the centuries. It had been a long time since they'd had to face Sith; the biggest problem that they'd had this year, at least until Skywalkers had started falling from the sky, was overbearing bullies of pirates. They wouldn't have even had that without the Sith. They were lazy Jedi.
He walked over to the com station. He had been coordinating with several of the beings that normally reported to the Senate. He was going to be quite glad when the government put itself back together.
"Master Yoda, I think we are going to have a problem."
* * *
Anakin was nervous as he sat in front of the view screen, one that analogous to the one in Watto's shop, though it this one was much better cared for. Obi-Wan had gotten Watto's com pattern, and he was entering it into the com while Anakin tried to sit still.
"That should do it," he said, and Anakin nearly bounced out of his seat. It took a few moments for the com to register at the other end, but it did, and Shmi happened to be the one answering.
"Watto's Junk Shop," she said without looking up, but she did so then, and anything else she would have said was lost.
"Mom!" Anakin nearly shouted with his exuberance. "I miss you."
"I miss you, too, baby," she said, a warm smile coming to her face. "How have you been?"
"Master Yoda contacted me and said something about a Sith attacking you?"
"He did?" he asked her, "I didn't know."
"Well, it's good to see that you're alright."
"I'm better than alright. I love it here," he told her, "Master Jinn said I should tell you that I'll probably get to talk to you either every Fifth Day or every other Fifth day. Depends on what Master Obi-Wan decides," he said, and he turned his eyes down for a moment.
Obi-Wan came around to the front of the com so that she could see him. "Well, we will see how it goes. Anakin has a good deal of training to get caught up on. Most students here start when they are four, so there are a number of basic techniques he will have to master fairly soon."
"Well, Anakin is a hard worker, so he's working with several Masters right now on Fifth Day. Most students get a rest day, to spend with their Masters, or if they are still an Initiate, then with their Clan."
"Master Obi-Wan," Anakin said, giving him a little shove. "I can tell her."
"Well, I thought perhaps she would like to know who you were living with now."
"If you'd let me, I'd tell her," he said, and then turned back to the com. "I'm a Padawan, see my braid?" he told her, picking up the object in question with his left hand.
"Anakin, what happened to your hand?"
"Oh," he said, looking at it, "When the Sith attacked me and Master Jinn, and he cut my arm off, but I'm ok, Mom, really."
"He's attacked four members of the order, that we know about," Obi-Wan said. "All of us sustained injuries."
"You were attacked by this man as well?"
"Yes," Obi-Wan said with a nod of his head. "I received a concussion, which ended up being the least severe of the injuries received. Luke broke his leg, and Qui-Gon was stabbed through the stomach, a centimeter or so below his ribcage. We were lucky not to lose him."
"How is Luke?"
"He's gone," Anakin said, looking down. "He was in the fight at the Senate."
"There was a fight at the Senate?"
"Massacre is probably a more appropriate term," Obi-Wan said wryly. "We lost a number of Jedi that day, including Luke."
"That's so sad," she said. "He was such a vibrant young boy."
"Master Jinn says that when someone is alive in your memory, then they are never truly gone," he told her brightly.
She smiled at him, and Anakin smiled back. Obi-Wan was decidedly uncomfortable, so he chose to leave the general area of the com, going into the kitchen, and washing their breakfast dishes to give himself something to do. He'd set a timer on the com for ten minutes to eight, so that he could inform Anakin that it was almost time for goodbyes before it was actually time, and so that he would have time to go to Master Qui-Gon's to learn more about meditation than Qui-Gon thought Obi-Wan could teach him. He was supposed to be learning to do the same kind of meditation, but he preferred not to be learning at the same time as his Padawan, who was better at it than he was.
He heard the timer go off as he finished wiping the counter down. "Five minutes, Anakin, or you will be late to your lesson with Master Qui-Gon," he said as he came around the corner.
Anakin turned and looked at him, then nodded, "Yes, Master," he said, and turned back to the com. "I guess I have to say good bye, Mom. I'll try to call you next week, but it might be the week after."
"That's ok, Ani. You can maybe write me a letter instead, if you like?"
"That will improve his writing skills, I'm sure," Obi-Wan said.
"Ok, maybe. I love you, Mom."
"I love you, too, Ani. I'll talk to you soon," she said, disconnecting the com from her end.
He wasn't terribly surprised that there were tears in the boy's eyes, but he also knew that he needed to do his lessons. He had no real clue as to what to do with an overly emotional Padawan, but he was sure that Qui-Gon did.
* * *
Langk Nitwete was back at the Temple for the second time in as many days. It was Fifth Day, but that didn't seem to matter to the Jedi, and since it didn't matter to them, it didn't matter to his boss, either. If there was an interview to be done, or questions to be answered regarding the Jedi Temple, and they could be done today, he was going to the Temple to ask and answer them. So far, the Temple had been more than accommodating, first with his first interview with Kit Fisto, now with an interview with another young Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"I understand that you are advocating the Temple getting something called a Press Secretary? What exactly does a Press Secretary do?"
"They organize contact with the media, give us an idea of what is going to be done at a press conference, at the very least. They field questions, ensure that the press is kept informed of what goes on inside an organization. Most Senators have a press secretary, and the Chancellor, well he did have four or five, but I don't think that they have jobs anymore. No one seems to know what's going on with the Senate."
"Least of all, those in the Senate itself."
"Well, most of them couldn't find their own rear ends without a map."
The corner of Jedi Kenobi's mouth twitched up in something like a smile, but it smoothed away into nothingness quickly. "So someone to work with the media, to be a go-between?"
"Essentially. Sometimes press secretaries give out the full text of a speech in advance," Langk started, but the Jedi interrupted him.
"Why would anyone do such a thing?"
"Some of it is for the captioning—translating the speech into text so that it can be read by people who, for whatever reason, need to read the text as opposed to, or in addition to, hearing the speech."
"That actually makes sense. What else?"
"Well, the text of the speech can be used to help formulate questions for the reporters."
"For that circus Master Yoda wouldn't submit to?"
"I suppose you could call it that," Langk said wryly. "But yes."
"Oh, no. I don't see anyone from the Temple submitting to something like that."
"Well, perhaps someone associated with the Temple could answer the questions instead of one of the Jedi, but the viewing public tends to want to know things immediately, and it is the job of reporters to see that they get it."
"Well, the Temple is trying to integrate itself more with the rest of the galactic community," the young Jedi told him, another smile flickering quickly across his face before it was gone again.
"So what do you think of the idea?"
"Of a press secretary."
"Oh. Master Yoda thought it a good idea. The reason that we asked you back was to see if you would be appropriate in this position. If you would like the position, it is yours."
Langk felt his jaw nearly drop to the floor. This Obi-Wan couldn't be serious, could he? "You want me to be the Press Secretary to the Jedi Temple?"
"Well, yes. You seem to have a very good understanding of the job that will be required, and you are at least adequately prepared to do the job. Most importantly, you seem to have a passion that is seen in very few beings nowadays."
"Why is that most important?"
"Because passion like that is something that only comes with a pureness of purpose, a drive that cannot be mistaken for anything other than what it is."
"Is that some sort of weird Jedi thing?"
Obi-Wan did his almost-smile again. "I suppose you could say that. You knew that when you came here though, that believing something made it more likely for us to believe in it, and in you."
"You know, that's really starting to get creepy."
"Can you handle it? Most Jedi seem to enjoy seeming as though they are extraordinarily knowledgeable."
"Knowledgeable, yes, I could handle that, but the whole pulling detailed information out of thin air is something else entirely."
"Ah, well, that is easily enough explained. These rooms all have cameras. I simply watched the holo of you speaking with your cameraman, and then with Jedi Fisto in preparation for my visit with you today. Most areas of the Temple have some sort of security coverage, but we have installed more systems in the public areas in the last few weeks."
"That's not quite so creepy, I suppose. I don't know that I would feel at all qualified to do this. I'm only twenty-five, and I've been out of journalism school for three years."
"I am twenty-five, and in charge of the Temple's most precocious nine year old. You will have the easier job, trust me."
"How did you get a job like that?"
"It was what the Force willed, and truthfully, Anakin won't really be too bad for several years."
"Yeah, my younger brother started becoming a real pain at twelve," Langk said, and he looked off at nothing for a minute, thinking. "Why do they have you interviewing me?"
"I am up-to-date on some of the relevant information concerning recent events, and my Padawan is busy doing other things today, so I am free."
"Is that normal?"
"No, Anakin came to the Temple very recently, and has much catching up to do, and so he is doing that on Fifth day, rather than interrupting the flow of his integration into his life here at the Temple."
"Master Yoda trusts this to you?"
"He trusts things to work themselves out. If you truly believe that the Temple needs this, then you will step up, as it were. If this is just a ploy to garner more information from the Temple, then that will become obvious."
"So I will be tested?"
"No more than you would in any other stage of your life. The Force is always pushing for more from everyone, not only Jedi."
Langk nodded. "Perhaps it is," he decided that he was going to do this job. It sounded like a worthy challenge.
* * *
Jorus C'baoth was not an easy man to get along with in the best of times, and this was far from the best of times. The family of his Padawan, Lorana, had asked to be allowed to visit her, and he had told them that there was no reason for them to visit her, as she didn't remember them, and it would be disruptive to introduce new people into her life at this critical stage in her training. They'd wanted to know when a good time would be for them to initiate contact, and he'd told them that they could meet her after her knighting.
They hadn't taken well to that answer, and had approached Master Yoda about it. He frowned, because they'd also been allowed to take up residence in the Temple proper; some nonsense about having worked there before Lorana had been born. He was sure that there would be some accidental contact at some point, and there would be little he could do to avoid it, unless he wanted to exile the two of them to Caamas or something equally extreme.
"Understand I do that deny contact with her family for your Padawan you have chosen."
"Yes, Master Yoda," he said with the deference he afforded to very few beings.
"It will be disruptive to her studies."
"Doubt that I do. A reasonable visitation they ask. Her opinion have you sought?"
"She's only seventeen, she has no idea the repercussions of such a decision."
"So nothing knows she of this," Master Yoda said with a nod to himself. "Your family have you sought?"
"No, Master Yoda, I have no desire to know anything of who I was before I became a Jedi, or what became of those I left behind."
"At least deny her what you seek yourself you do not. Your Padawan she is, but recommend I do that allow her to meet with her family you should."
"The Council has not rendered an opinion on this subject, have they?"
"No, debate there still is within the Council on this and many other subjects. But clear it is that change is needed. The Force has shown us."
"Why is the revelation that there was a Sith in the Senate the impetus for us to completely throw out the old ways and institute new ones?"
"Not the revelation itself, but the method that the Force chose to reveal our error."
"The two strangers," he said flatly. "What did they say?"
"Many things, but what they did not say was just as important. One's connections with other beings can be one's salvation as easily as one's undoing."
"Salvation? I'm sorry, Master, but I simply cannot accept that idea at this time."
"Meditate on it until understand it you should. An idea you said you had?"
"Well, yes, actually. Since you are throwing the doors to the Temple open to everyone, we might as well do something good with it. I'd like to institute a policy of allowing gifted younglings who are not Force-sensitive the opportunity to learn here, not just the siblings of those who have been given up to the Temple."
"An interesting and encouraging idea you bring me. With the support of a Jedi, a youngling may attend classes here. Agree with you I do. But denying your Padawan the opportunity to meet her family, agree with you I do not," he said, his ears folding down in silent reprimand.
"I'll consider it," he said. He didn't mean it, and Yoda knew it, but paying lip service to the idea was all that he could do at this point.
"A mission I have for you."
He raised his eyebrow. "Really?"
"Assistance some planets are needing with their replacement Senators. Visit several planets you will and reassure them that neutralized the threat has been. While gone you are, expect I do that ask your Padawan about her family you will. A decision I expect, one that she agrees with."
"She can't be expected to understand the repercussions of this, and what if the Council overrules the idea of having the families in contact with the Padawans? We won't be able to undo this."
"Understand the Council does how very serious this is. Debates are not about 'whether' but are instead about 'how.'"
"What has happened, to upend the Order so completely? Why does only the Council know of this?"
"Dangerous this knowledge is. Fall into the wrong hands we fear. Knowledge of the Sith, knowledge of our people. Knowledge of the dangers ahead we face. Knowledge of death. The death of the Order we seek to prevent."
"But you can't know that the Order is dying!"
"Dying it is. Gasping its last breaths it is, unless done something is to change it," Master Yoda told Jorus, and he was so serious that he knew the Grand Master believed it as much as he believed anything. There would be no argument that he could present that would make Master Yoda change his mind. He picked up the datapad Master Yoda had earlier indicated contained his mission requirements and left, unsure of what path he needed to take, but he had a mission to focus his energies on, something to give him time to think about the changes that were stirring far more quickly than they had ever done before.
* * *
Anakin welcomed his time with Master Jinn after having talked to his mother. Obi-Wan was his Master, and he knew that he shouldn't feel that Obi-Wan wouldn't understand him, but it was the way he felt. He watched Obi-Wan as he shut the terminal down. "Would you like me to walk you to Qui-Gon's quarters?"
He sniffled. "No, Master, I think I'm ok," he said, and he got up, and tried to think about being a good Padawan, about how Qui-Gon had vouched for him, and how he thought this was the best situation for both of them. He couldn't help but feel somewhat rejected when Qui-Gon had decided that he wouldn't train him. He walked slowly to the door, and down the hall, to Master Jinn's quarters.
"How did your talk with your mother go, young one?"
"She was happy to talk to me, Master," he started, but he really couldn't continue, and he buried his head into Qui-Gon's shoulder as Qui-Gon wrapped his arms around him.
"I imagine she was," he said soothingly, "But why the tears?"
"I m-miss her, Master, and Obi-Wan is-is," he burbled, trying valiantly to stave off the tears, but they came anyway. He didn't quite know what was wrong with Master Obi-Wan, anyway.
"Obi-Wan is trying to project the image of a good Jedi, one who's calm outweighs his emotions. But he is not that kind of Jedi, or rather, he wouldn't be if he could let himself believe that he is fully capable of being…our kind of Jedi."
"Our kind of Jedi, Master?"
"Well, yes. Obi-Wan regularly thinks that he needs to remind me as to how to be a proper Jedi."
Anakin bit his lip, his inner conflicts over his contact with his mother forgotten for the moment. "He tries to remind you, Master?"
"Yes. Usually it comes couched in some plea not to do what he knows the Force is telling me to do, because it is defiant to the orders or wishes of the Council. For far too long we have listened to the Council and not the Force. The Council is not all-knowing, all-powerful or all-seeing. As good as they are, they are only twelve beings, and even with the Force, they are twelve among thousands, and cannot, even with the Force, predict the best path for each of us, and yet that is exactly what they were first asked, then expected to do."
"So, do you think the Council is bad?"
"Oh, no, nothing like that. I simply think that the average Jedi relies upon them too much. The Force is a much better guide for them, but it requires a good deal of practice to learn to listen to it fully, as you are here to learn."
Anakin was excited by the prospect of learning something few beings took the time to, and he said, "So can we get started?"
"I believe that would be acceptable, young Anakin. Why don't you try sitting in one of those meditative poses that Obi-Wan's sure to have started you on," Qui-Gon suggested, and they began Anakin's first Living Force lesson.
* * *
Hakan Bernath was a giant of a man, a shade over two-point-one meters, and broad enough that most other Humans wouldn't even think about trying a physical confrontation with him. Not that he would condone such action. He was still from Naboo, after all. His Queen's instructions had been simple enough. He was to seek out two beings as his first duties as Senator: the Senator of Alderaan, and the Grand Master of the Temple. Either might have some instructions for him, but if he had questions about those instructions, she would be available for him to contact. She had wanted him on Coruscant soonest, and she was not a woman easily denied.
He thought that making his way around the Rotunda would be easiest first, and he could familiarize himself to the place before he had to deal with too many beings. He'd easily found his office, and he'd been able to locate Alderaan's office as well, but he was walking the halls, thinking about what he would or could say to the Senator of Alderaan. He'd heard conflicting reports about the man's status. He'd heard that the Senator's name was Bail Antilles, and that he'd actually been in chamber and survived the Massacre, and he'd also heard that Antilles' cousin had been brought in to replace him, a Bail Organa. Either way, the Senator from Alderaan would be a member of the Alderaanian Royal Family, or an offshoot of it, and was among the first batch of Senators that would be laying down the foundations of what was hoped to be a revitalized Republic.
When he'd left Naboo, the Queen had told him that she believed that the Senate no longer functioned in the best interest of the people of the Republic, and that if something weren't done, that the Republic would fall apart. He would be working to ensure that that didn't happen. There would be a second batch of Senators elected with emergency elections, some with partial powers, some with full power, and then the last batch would be straggling in as the regular elections came around in their own time, for planets with no plans for emergencies such as these. Quorum would probably not be made until they had most of the second batch, but there was always a chance that it was going to be sooner rather than later.
Hakan had finally wandered for long enough that he'd settled his mind to talking to someone else, and he found the door to the Senator from Alderaan again. He knocked politely on the door, and was admitted to two men deep in discussion, and a secretary hovering about, trying and failing to assist. They looked up at him, so he said, "Hello, I am Hakan Bernath, and I am the newly appointed Senator from Naboo. The Queen has instructed that I introduce myself to the Senator from Alderaan."
The younger of the two men stepped forward. "That would be me. I am Bail Organa, and I also am newly appointed to my position."
"I had heard something about that," he said, and looked at the other man. "Bail Antilles, I presume?"
"You presume correctly, sir. Your predecessor left something of a mark on all of us, I think."
"Yes," he said with a frown. "I also have instructions for a meeting with the Grand Master of the Temple. Hopefully that will set your minds more at ease."
"Never again," Antilles said. "But that is not your problem. Welcome to the Senate, and I hope that your time here is very productive."
"I hope so as well. I'll leave you to your business," he said, bowing and he left, hoping that he hadn't made a mistake in the order that he'd done things in.
* * *
Yoda walked into the room that held his current problem. It wasn't the biggest problem he had faced, nor would it be the last one, but it needed taken care of immediately, or it would quickly become a much bigger problem.
"Good morning, Master Yoda," an odd group of younglings chorused as he came in. There were younglings of all ages, and he could see the similarities between some of them and some of his young Jedi, but it was a different group than had been in the Temple before, at least for a very long time. These children were not Force-sensitive.
"Good morning, younglings," he said. Some of them had come from off-planet to join their parents when the Temple had declared that families would be permitted to live on the grounds. Some families had moved from other areas of Coruscant, but for the most part, all of the families had one very resounding thing in common, and that was they had children other than the one the Temple had taken.
"We're supposed to be in school," one of the younger girls, a Nautolan, pointed out.
"Know that I do. To determine where you will be schooled I am here," he said and a low giggle ran through the group. There were several Jedi watching over the group, and he went over to one of them, a male Kiffar Knight named Ter'ka Nay'ath. "Know you what talents their parents have?"
"Most of them are maintenance personnel, electronics techs, a few teachers, service industries. Beings who can move easily and expect to find a job when they arrive."
"Find those who are teachers. Employ them at the Temple we will, and educate these younglings along with our young Jedi. Teach the Initiates to get along with a wider variety of beings, and allow these younglings the benefits of a larger group to learn with. Segregate them we will not."
"What about Force classes?"
"They are not strong with the Force, true this is. Other classes they can take to substitute. Learn to be beings the Temple needs they can. Electronics, flight, Engineering, even teaching."
"But what about today?" a small human boy asked.
"A free day you will have," he said, addressing the group of children, "Perhaps even a free week. Rearranged the Temple's classes must be to accommodate new students. Testing you must undergo to determine what classes you will need to take." An audible groan came from some of the younglings. "But not until at least tomorrow will that begin. Dismissed you are, and arrangements will be made for your testing to begin."
The younglings were out of the room before he finished speaking, though they would be safe enough inside the Temple and would be questioned extensively before being allowed out of it alone. They were not prisoners, but neither would they be allowed to run about Coruscant unsupervised. He turned to the other Jedi in the room. "Arrange to meet with the parents to determine if we can find enough teachers to accommodate our new arrivals we should."
"Master Jenneth is in charge of the curriculum, perhaps we should meet with him as well," Ter'ka told Master Yoda.
"Agreed," Master Yoda said. "Duties elsewhere do you have?"
The other two Jedi murmured ascent, and he dismissed them with a wave of his hand. "I am one of the newer Jedi who assist with the Initiate dorms. I don't actually have anything to do until later this afternoon, when the younglings begin to return to their beds."
"Ideas have you on what can be done with these younglings?"
"Yes, Master, actually," he said as they began to walk down the hall toward Master Jenneth's office. "I have studied the methods of educating students in various schools on a number of worlds, and the most effective seems to be block scheduling."
"Explain this please."
"Well, I wouldn't recommend it until Padawan-level, but do alternate day scheduling of blocks of classes, either one or two hour increments, and teach classes for one, two or three months at a time. Padawans who spend a considerable amount of time on missions could take shorter classes with longer periods, say one month classes for two hours every other day, and get that done while they were home on a break, and get the same information as a different student taking the same class for two months in a one hour schedule. Some of the classes could even be set up in a round-robin fashion."
"Explain," Master Yoda asked, curious.
"Well, the information is so standard in that class, and it's information that isn't particularly linier so the student isn't limited to a specific entry or exit date, they just enter the class when they have time, and exit the class when they have completed all the information."
"Interesting these concepts are. Perhaps assist Master Jenneth you could until this transition is over. Even after that, should it prove necessary," he said, and they arrived at the door to what amounted to the Temple's principal.
Master Yoda used the knobby end of his gimer stick to press the chime on the door, and it opened, with Master Jenneth asking, "What is it now?" before he even saw who was at his door. "Master Yoda," he bowed. Master Jenneth was an aging Human with nearly white hair, and he was starting to get a little on the plump side, from too much paperwork and not enough exercise. "What is this about non-Force-sensitive younglings in the Temple?"
Master Yoda settled himself in one of the two chairs opposite Master Jenneth's desk before he answered, and Jedi Nay'ath sat in the other. "Families our Jedi have. Some families have younglings, some do not."
"And what are we going to do about this?"
"Educate them here we can."
"With all due respect, we don't know the first thing about these younglings or how well they have been educated up to this point."
"Tested they will be. In the meantime, Jedi Nay'ath has interesting ideas on how they can be accommodated. Teachers, some of the parents are. Utilize them here we can."
"But I don't know what kind of teachers they are, nor what subjects they teach."
"Ask them you can. On the thirteenth level the families have been placed. A meeting in the level commons you can have if suits you that does."
Master Jenneth grew thoughtful at that. "I suppose that would probably be satisfactory. Even if I only got two or three teachers out of the deal, it should be enough. How many of these new students do you think I will be having?"
"There were 39 across all levels today," Jedi Nay'ath provided. "So there shouldn't be more than two or three that would correspond to any specific Clan. And if we went to modified block scheduling when they entered Padawan-level classes, then the Clan grouping would become less important, though I would still think it will be something special in each Jedi's heart."
"Agree I do," Yoda said. "A Clan is a Jedi's family as much as those who share blood."
"We can do things to foster a retention of the idea of Clan and family being equally important. Keeping the Clans together for lightsaber training once a week might be just the thing," Master Jenneth said. "What were you thinking about this modified block scheduling?"
"It would be a little complicated to set up in the beginning, I think, but once we got it going, I think it would run smoothly for the most part, though we might need more classrooms."
"More classrooms you will have," Master Yoda informed them. "When settle down things do, plans I have for separate housing for families. Set up classrooms we could on one or two floors of that building."
"So you don't plan to house families in the Temple proper?"
"Depend on the family it will. If not strong with the Force both parents are, if from the outside they are, more comfortable they may be outside the Temple. Force those who have already come here to move we will not, but have families of their own our Jedi will. Parents our Jedi will be, and Jedi those younglings will become. Housed within the Temple those families will be."
"Will that be required?" Master Jenneth asked, his tone somewhere between shocked, afraid, and angry. "Will Jedi be required to give their children to the Temple if the breed true?"
"Never," Master Yoda said, "Though feel I do that it will happen more often than not. Educated they will need to be, if nothing else."
Master Jenneth took a deep breath. "Are we going to change some of our policies? Is it going to be more up to the individual now?"
"Up to the individual it will be. Educated in the ways of the Force the children will be, but the expectation that become a Jedi they will, not as forceful will that expectation be."
"A significant number of the classes that a Padawan takes are related to the Force, what are we going to do with these other younglings in the meantime?" Master Jenneth
"Teach them other skills we can. Or complete their education earlier they may. Up to them we shall leave that, but offer more varied classes we will."
"The more I think about this the better it sounds. We can keep this area open, offering Force-related classes, and when we get the new building opened up, we can put all the classes that aren't Force related over there," Jedi Nay'ath said.
"Leave the details to you I will. If full-time here you are needed, Jedi Nay'ath, have yourself reassigned to Master Jenneth you should. Forget your other duties as long as you have them you should not."
"I think I will need an assistant, though it need not be a Jedi. I'll have a better idea after we've met with the denizens of level thirteen, and I will definitely need someone to run the mundane side of the school when we split it off."
"Acceptable that is. Inform me when a conclusion as to what must be done you have reached," Master Yoda said, and he got up, and headed out to take care of other things, with this seeming to be well in hand.
* * *
Jorus C'baoth was pleased that Master Yoda had taken his suggestion well; it was the best he could hope for in a bad situation, and this was one of the worst. The Sith were out in force, and had even been able to nearly take over the Senate, and only the intervention of two mystery Jedi who had conveniently died in the fight that had ended in the death of the Sith Master. The Sith's Apprentice was still at large, still able to train, learn and teach. Both sides were aware that the other was doing the same thing: train and learn. But it didn't mean that every tradition that the Order had needed to go out the window. The amount of control that Master Yoda had given up in the two weeks since the Massacre at the Senate was astounding.
Unfortunately, speaking with Master Yoda had brought on an onerous mandate; he had to tell Lorana that her parents wanted to meet with her, and come up with some sort of plan that was agreeable to both of them. Curious child that she was, she would likely want to at least meet with them. Had he been sure that she would be as horrified as he was at the thought, he would have already told her, but she was far more flexible in her ideas of the way things should be than he was. With all the change that was happening, it would probably be far easier for her to adapt than it would be for him, but that didn't make the situation any less dire.
It was an unnerving precedent that the Council seemed to be setting for itself. Never before had the Council even hinted at interfering in the Master's control of a Padawan's training, unless that Master was decidedly unfit to train a Padawan. But this was an across the board sweeping change in the fundamental way that the Order functioned. There was no precedent as to how the Council should act or how a Master could react to that. For the most part, the Council making a recommendation that a Master do a particular thing in training a Padawan could be taken or left at that Master's discretion, but this was different. It was something of an all-or-nothing deal. Either the Masters complied, or they would be declared rouge or unfit, depending on the exact circumstances. He didn't think that the idea that a Master would be allowed to suspend contact for a Padawan would be tolerated. But it still made him feel like he was chewing spare parts for Master Yoda to dictate to him how he was to integrate this into his Padawan's active, busy schedule.
Though, from what he'd heard from other Masters, they seemed to be making it a Fifth Day activity, and there seemed to be little reason or effort to make this happen more than once a week, though some of the youngest younglings, those not yet to the age to be Initiates yet, were actually being housed with their families as their space and schedules allowed this. No, this wasn't something that he could take back from the public, especially by himself, and that was if it could even be done at all without the public completely losing faith in the Jedi to begin with.
"Excuse me, Master," a voice interrupted his thoughts.
He identified the source of the voice as coming from behind him. "Yes, Lorana?"
"The preparations are ready for the ship you requested, Master, and I found a priority slot open for in the morning from ATC."
He considered telling her to attempt to get a better time, but rethought it. "You'd better get packed then, Padawan."
"Yes, Master," she said, and she bowed, though he didn't see it. He hadn't looked at her in the whole time that she'd spoken to him. It was getting rather late in the day, and he should also get packed if he didn't want to be left doing it in the morning.
* * *
Ter'ka Nay'ath found that the amount of work that he and Master Jenneth would have to do in order to actually accomplish what they needed to get done was going to take both of them working full time on it for a week, and so he requested reassignment from the Initiate dorms. Master Elara understood, but he would miss the old woman. She seemed like the kind of woman that you would expect to be a grandmother, and it didn't seem to matter what species the Initiates were, they all took to her like nothing he'd ever seen. She was Togruta, and a fierce-looking woman despite her age, but she had the kindest heart, and that seemed to be all that mattered.
So he was focusing his attention on the information gathering that he and Master Jenneth were doing now. They were in the level commons of level thirteen, and it was late enough in the evening that most beings had returned to the Temple from their places of employment. "Well, is there anyone we need to wait on, or anyone missing who should be here?" Master Jenneth asked. The crowd reassured him that all who should be present were, and he nodded.
Ter'ka put a display of the Temple and its grounds as they stood now on the holoprojector. "Master Yoda has informed us that we will be building another building to house families," he started, and held his hand up at the murmur of the crowd. "You won't be required to move there, nor will you be expected to, I was just informing you of what's going to be coming in the future," he said, and they quieted. He pressed the button to display what he thought would look good as an additional building.
"This isn't from an official blueprint or anything, but we are going to be talking a fairly significant building. Master Yoda has also informed us that we will be moving non-Force related classes for all students to this building. The first and possibly the second level will be the school, and housing above it. I also have heard something about a scholarship program, so there may also be students coming in who don't live either at the Temple or this new building."
An adult raised her hand; she was Nautolan, a dusty brown color. "So, are you moving basic classes for the Jedi trainees out there, as well?"
"Yes, actually. All of the basic classes will be out there. History, Math, Sciences, everything. Lightsaber construction, combat and Force-related classes will still be taught in the Temple, but that's going to be it," Ter'ka said. "In the meantime, we do have some unused classroom space here that we can expand out to accommodate the students we have now, including the younglings in this room."
Another question was raised by a young human male. "Why can't you just keep everyone at the Temple?"
Master Jenneth fielded the question, for which Ter'ka was thankful. "We have about ten classrooms that we aren't using, and we could convert a few more rooms at a time to our purposes, but there is a limited amount of space in the Temple, and if this initiative gets the kind of growth that Master Yoda seems to be hoping, there is going to come a time that we outgrow just the Temple, and it would be easier to build a building with the idea that we will need it in the future, rather than need a building and not have it available until it is built. It may be five years before we actually move the school to this new building, since, so far as I know, we don't even have an architect to design the building."
"Okay," one of the male Humans said. They'd gathered together in one corner. "But why did you come here to talk to us?"
"Two reasons, actually," Ter'ka said, "First, we need to do placement testing for the children, so we'd like to set up times with those of you who have children who you wish to enroll here to assess what classes are needed to round out their education."
Master Jenneth looked chagrinned. "And second, we need at least three more teachers to accommodate this increase in our student load. Not that they can't join classes with the other students, but there's also the matter that we actually would like to start expanding the curriculum to include things beyond the basics."
"Are you looking for trained teachers?" this from the same male Human who'd spoken before.
"Not necessarily. Some would be helpful, yes, but craftspeople who would be willing to pass on their skills either in an individual or group setting would be helpful as well."
"Alright. Name's Zef Jinzler," said the only man who'd been outspoken thus far. "I'm a trained electrician, and I'd be willing to teach maybe a basic electronics class, and some more advanced stuff one-on-one. Whatever I can do to help."
"Very well, I'll take parents here for setting up testing, and anyone who thinks that they can help with teaching should talk to Master Jenneth," Ter'ka said, and Master Jenneth nodded. Very few beings left, most of them sorting themselves into two lines, and as he finished with the parents, he even saw some of them get into the line with Master Jenneth. He would probably end up helping with the teaching aspect once he finished setting up the children for testing, but he reminded himself to keep focused on what he was doing now and the future would worry about itself.
* * *
It hadn't been very long since he'd last visited with his Master, but Qui-Gon suspected that Master Dooku's visit had more to do with Anakin's recent arrival than it had anything to do with him actually wanting to spend time with Qui-Gon. While their partnership had been good, it was nothing compared to the one he'd found with Obi-Wan. He had learned much from Dooku, but there hadn't been the ferocity that was present when he was teaching first Obi-Wan and now Anakin. Xantos had been that sort of intense, but it had always held a note of darkness that he'd failed to see until it had been too late. He sometimes still searched Anakin and even Obi-Wan for those signs, but he'd never found anything to indicated that Obi-Wan was tending towards darkness, or that the former Sith Lord who'd come back to the past was ever going to come into being. Of course, they really didn't entirely know how that had come about, but Obi-Wan seemed to be taking a dim view to some beings, and that had included his former Master. The short answer that he got was that Dooku had resigned from the Order with Qui-Gon's death in the alternate or previous universe. It was an odd thing to think about, and he hadn't himself entirely wrapped his mind around it.
"It is good to see you, Master Dooku. To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"I thought I would stop by and see you, speak about this boy you think is the Chosen One."
"He is the Chosen One. I have no doubt of that."
"Why are you so certain?"
"The Council forbids those of us who know of the events surrounding the Massacre in the Senate from speaking of it. Some of the events leading up to that day convinced me that he is the Chosen One," Qui-Gon said, cocking his head to one side. "You are upset because you didn't find him yourself, aren't you?"
Master Dooku gave him a thin-lipped smile and a nod of agreement. "I have sought the Chosen One for years, and now he simply falls into your lap instead."
It was at that moment that the door opened and Anakin burst into his quarters in tears. It happened about three times a week, but that was markedly less than it had been the first week that Obi-Wan and he had been paired. "What's wrong Anakin?" he asked, and Anakin buried his face into Qui-Gon's chest.
"I don't understand how to be a Jedi, and Obi-Wan isn't explaining things right."
"Well, it is going to take you many years to learn to become a Jedi, and Obi-Wan does do an adequate job of explaining things most days. Can you tell me what happened?"
He sniffled and curled up onto Qui-Gon's lap. "I was s'posed to be in class with the other first-year Padawans, Galactic History, and I asked the teacher a question and one of the other boys laughed at me."
Qui-Gon sighed. "And so you did what?"
"I punched him."
"Do you not think that your response was a little extreme considering what he did?"
"He'll never make fun of me again," Anakin pointed out.
"Anakin, a Jedi thinks very carefully before using physical violence to solve things. A Jedi pursues other methods to resolve a conflict before resorting to physical violence."
"So I should have done something else before I hit him?"
"Yes. Perhaps you could have let the teacher deal with him, or asked the teacher to say something to him, or told him yourself that he had hurt your feelings by laughing at you."
"But would that have solved the problem?"
"Perhaps, perhaps not. But you must let less violent methods have time to work," he said, thinking for a moment. "Let me see if I can put this into perspective for you. Say there is a being who owns five slaves. Two beings of similar disposition who each own five slaves. The first tells his slaves what he expects of them, what punishments will be meted out for what offenses, and follows through with those things exactly as he says that he will. The second doesn't talk to the slaves, treating them as slightly more intelligent farm animals, and punishes them severely every time they get even the slightest bit out of line. Down the road, what do you think happens?"
"Well, the owner who talks to the slaves, he probably gets more done than the one who beats his slaves."
"Alright, now let's apply that concept to what happened today. Do you think that speaking with the boy before you resorted to physical violence would have been a better course of action?"
"Yeah. I guess I need more meditation or something so I can maybe learn how to be a better Jedi."
"I have an idea, but I think I will run it past Obi-Wan first. Now what is it that Obi-Wan was trying to explain to you that you didn't understand?"
"The same thing, I guess. He starts at the end, though," Anakin complained.
"So he does. Perhaps you could remind him that he needs to start at the beginning instead of getting upset and running here?"
"Won't he get upset with me? You get upset with him when he tries to tell you what to do."
"I never got upset when he asked me to explain something in a different way so that he could understand it better. Obi-Wan won't either."
Anakin considered. "I guess maybe it would work," he said, and finally noticed Master Dooku. "Hello."
"Hello, young Skywalker. I was just speaking with my former Padawan about you."
"Me," Qui-Gon said. "As much as it pains me to think about it, I was once as young, brave and innocent as you are," he told Anakin. "This is Master Dooku, who I think is quite eager to meet you."
"Pleased to meet you, Master Dooku, but I need to get back to my Master now, he's worried about me."
"I'm sure he is," Dooku told him.
"Good-bye," Anakin said, then scampered off, and was just as quickly gone as he had come.
"He is an interesting young fellow, though I am curious as to why you chose not to train him yourself, and instead gave him to Obi-Wan."
"I have my reasons," he assured Dooku. "He and Obi-Wan really do get along quite well, or will when they have time to understand each other better. They will be brothers in every true sense of the word and I couldn't ask for anything more for them."
"You seem so certain of this. I know that a great many things happened in the weeks leading up to the Massacre in the Senate, and that you and your Padawan were central to a number of them, and if not you, then the Queen of Naboo."
"A very brave young lady who honors me by calling me her friend."
"Is it wise to befriend a politician?" Dooku asked with a smile.
"I think in this case, it is. I have a feeling I will be training at least one of her children in the way of the Force."
"A reference to letting Jedi marry?"
"Yes," he said with a smile. "But that is years off. She won't be back to Coruscant for eight years at the very least, and I need to speak with Obi-Wan today."
"I will leave you to that, then. Perhaps Obi-Wan would like some assistance with some aspect of Anakin's training where I could be useful?"
"I will make the offer, but Anakin's schedule is quite full as it is. Perhaps when he ready to begin a new phase in his lightsaber combat lessons, you could help. I don't know what Obi-Wan's got in mind."
"I would certainly like to."
* * *
Langk Nikwete, newly appointed as the Press Secretary for the Jedi Temple, was actually rather nervous about his first meeting on his first day at work. He was scheduled to speak with the leading Senators on the reconstitution of the Senate, though they were discussing something more innocuous, the new training protocols at the Temple.
He had been afforded an office in the Temple, and, should he desire to do so, had been informed that he could move into the Temple itself, though only on level thirty or thirteen. He didn't yet know the significance of either level, but he imagined that they tended to put all their outsiders in one of those two places.
He straightened himself. The Jedi trusted him to take care of the duties that he had informed them needed done. It was, in essence, time to lay credits down on this bet. The door to the small conference room opened at his approach, and he noted three men inside. These must be the most organized of those in the Senate. "Good morning, Gentlemen. I am Langk Nikwete, the Temple's Press Secretary."
"I am former Senator Antilles. It's my last day on Coruscant, so I am just observing, I'm sure you understand my curiosity about you. These are Senators Organa of Alderaan and Bernath of Naboo, and I suppose I should be quiet now, as I really have no power anymore."
"This is just an informal meeting, Senator Antilles. If you feel the need to input something I would be as happy to hear from you as I would to hear from anyone."
He nodded, sitting down with them. "I understand that you are here about some sort of scholarship program?"
"Yes. The Temple has had a closed educational system for what seems like forever, so talking about educating children at the Temple is rather a strange concept for most people who speak of education in general. Jedi are educated at the Temple, but with the opening of the doors of the Temple to families, a number of NFS children have come with these families."
"NFS children?" Senator Beranth asked.
"Non-Force-sensitive. A number of them have medi-chlorian counts that are in the high range, but not enough to permit them to become Jedi."
"So, what does that have to do with anything?" Senator Organa asked him.
"The Jedi in the educational system within the Temple have decided that these NFS children will be educated within the Temple."
"That doesn't sound problematic. Are we talking a lot of children?" Senator Beranth questioned.
"Not at first, no, though we have no idea what percentage of the families will end up coming to the Temple in the end. But that is only the door that I want to talk to you about walking people through. The Temple would also like to have a scholarship program for young people who wouldn't ordinarily fall within the Temple's jurisdiction, so that they can come to the Temple and be educated as well."
"So, an adjustment of funding for the Temple will take care of that. That's not going to be difficult to handle," Senator Organa said.
"Wait, cousin. I think I can see where this could be a problem and why he's come. If the Temple starts having scholarships and taking in children who they have no connection to, there are going to be people who oppose it because they oppose everything that comes before them with the words 'Jedi Temple' in it. There are going to be people opposed to it because it means that the Temple's influence is expanding. And there are going to be people opposed to it who are entrenched in the CPES, which is far more bureaucracy and far less education than it needs to be. They won't like a child being pulled out of public education into what amounts to publicly funded free private education."
"You see the crux of the problem that I saw when Master Yoda presented me with this idea. I can sway public opinion, with the idea of a Sith floating around out there, and a Sith nearly taking over control of the Senate, public opinion is high in favor of the Temple and the Jedi. People don't like what they don't understand, and they don't understand the Sith. And telling them that the Sith are the ancient enemies of the Jedi, and reminding them that we've already been at war with the Sith once tends to make them trust the Jedi more. But we need to know that we have support in the Senate before we go forward with this."
The two current Senators nodded. "We will see what we can do while Senate is not in session to ensure that this is put together properly, but until the Senate can reconvene, there isn't that much to do," Senator Organa pointed out.
"That's all I'm asking. We aren't going to be implementing much of anything with all the restructuring, construction and other things going on right now."
* * *
By the time that Qui-Gon got to Obi-Wan's quarters, Anakin had been sent back to school, and Obi-Wan was bemoaning his ability to be an effective Master. "What am I going to do with him?"
"Train him to the best of your ability. It's all you can do, Obi-Wan."
"When this all started, there was no question, he was my Padawan. But now, it seems so difficult. I don't even know where to begin some mornings."
"It is always like this. Each time that you take a Padawan on, their abilities, personalities, everything about them will be at least somewhat different from your last Padawan, or your expectations for a Padawan."
Obi-Wan nodded. This was a side of himself that he would never show to Anakin, even if Qui-Gon had told him that it was something that Anakin needed to see. "I think that some time in the crèche might do some good for Anakin. He might even enjoy it."
"What about his training?"
"So leave something for later. He can only absorb so much information at one time, anyway. He's also used to working with his hands. If he had some sort of project that he could work on in his spare time, that might help him, as well."
"Anakin doesn't really have that much spare time, but I suppose that once he's caught up to his peers with his reading level, I believe that he could have the time we use to work on that for spare time."
"He's bright, I wish he'd been born in the Republic, identified earlier. But I don't wish it enough that I would actually want it changed. Master Dooku was asking after Ani today, thought perhaps he could render assistance in some way with Anakin's training."
"He is a Makashi Master," Obi-Wan mused. "I suppose when it comes time, that could be a possibility. I'm still sorting through all the memories Anakin shared with me. I'm still not entirely sure how we became so tightly bonded that he could do that and I'd only met him hours before."
"The how is not important, at least not at this juncture, because there is only the most remote chance that this will ever happen again, and if it does, then it's most likely not going to happen in our lifetimes."
"Alright, I will try not to worry about it."
"Do, or do not, there is no try, Obi-Wan. But perhaps we could shift your focus. You need to work on your connection with the Living Force as much as your Padawan does."
* * *
Lorana Jinzler woke earlier than most beings did, about half past four, most mornings. Her master woke at five, as most others did, but she welcomed the all-too-short time of utter stillness within the Temple before her Master woke. From what she understood, he was one of the most respected Masters in the Temple, and he did teach her a lot about the Force, but he was very demanding, expecting perfection from the first time he showed her how to do something. He gave off the same dour taciturn non-expression no matter what she did, unless it was something for which he felt he had to severely reprimand her. Several of her Clanmates had told her that their families had contacted them, but she had too much to do to think about her family, if she even had one. Some others of her Clanmates had found that they did not have families any longer, sadly. She would have spared them the pain of it if she could, but she wasn't sure if she would be sad or relieved to find out one way or the other. Both had good points, but both also had their bad points. For the moment not knowing was not worse than knowing, and she didn't want to risk Master C'baoth's wrath to find out which way her particular situation was going to play out.
He'd made it abundantly clear that he didn't agree with the Council's decision to allow the Jedi to have family, and he'd been more dour than usual lately. It made her wonder if his family had possibly contacted him. A sibling, perhaps. At his age, she didn't really expect that his parents would necessarily be alive, and even if they were, they probably would be in declining health, and to find that they had one of the more prominent members of the Order for a son might be something of a shock. She endeavored to look at the situation from the perspective of a parent and failed miserably, and knew that she did, but she'd had little experience with younglings and none with being a parent. Perhaps when she was older, she would have the experience to judge how someone looking from the outside would see these events. And perhaps by then, she would be brave enough to contact her family. She hoped that they weren't too far away, so that if they were nice, she would be able to visit them often. She hoped that they were nice beings, and she decided that she did hope they were alive. And that she would eventually visit them and pretend that she liked them even if they weren't nice.
But deep down, she was fairly certain that she wouldn't have to pretend.
* * *
Anakin was constantly busy, catching up, it always seemed like, but this week was going to be different, or so Master Kenobi had informed him. The end of the fourth month was approaching, one that had begun not so different from any other, but had brought the biggest changes in his young life. Space travel, Coruscant, and the reality that he really was going to become a Jedi, something that had been just a spice dream until it had materialized. All in just a month. And now some of his classes had children even older than he was, children of the families of Jedi who were moving in to the Temple. Construction was beginning in the southeast corner of the Temple grounds for a building to house families and for the bulk of classrooms. He briefly wondered if his mother would be allowed to have a room there, if something could ever be done to free her. But that was a future thought, and Master Jinn didn't seem worried about his mother, so he tried not to either. Besides, she'd been on Tatooine for six years, and it was always warm there, unlike Coruscant, where it was far, far cooler each day, though the temperature didn't drop nearly as far at night. Desert nights were almost as cold as space, but not quite.
Anakin had written his letter to his mother and sent it off earlier, and he'd had lessons with Master Jinn and Master Yoda, and now it was lunchtime, and he was back at the quarters he shared with his Master. "Ah, good, Anakin," Obi-Wan said as he came in. There was, as there'd been several times since he'd become a Padawan, a person who was near his Master's age sitting in what he'd come to think of as the guest chair at the small dining room table. "This is Siri Tachi, a friend of mine."
"Pleased to meet you," he said, and went into his room to deposit his practice 'saber and came back out.
"So you are Obi's young Padawan," she said with a smile. "Do you think he's mad?" she asked in a secretive half-whisper as Obi-Wan was in the other room.
"I've been gone and I didn't tell him anything about why I was leaving. He was actually pretty upset when I left."
Anakin shrugged. "He's over it now. He kind of seems happy to see you."
Siri smiled, nodding to herself. "I'm to be knighted sometime today or tomorrow. Will you come?" she asked a bit louder for Obi-Wan's benefit.
Obi-Wan smiled as he brought lunch into the room from the kitchen. "Of course. I would be happy to attend. Would you like to go, Padawan?"
"If that's ok," he said, deciding that he liked this person. "What are we doing today?"
"I thought I would show you where the Archives are, and how to search for items, and let you find some materials to interest you, if you wanted to do some reading this afternoon."
"No more lessons with Master Peko?"
"No, he said that you are caught up enough, but you should try to find things you are interested in to improve your reading skills."
"Am I going to start lessons with Master Dooku?"
"Perhaps, but not right now. Your afternoons on Fifth Day are yours to do with as you please."
"Can I work on droids?"
"If you like, you may, but you'll have to do that in a designated machining shop. I believe that we have one on this floor, if you want me to show you, next week?"
"Does it have to be next week? Can't I do it this week?"
"Archives this week. Get something to read, even if it is a droid technical manual."
"They have tech manuals for droids in the Archives?" Anakin asked dubiously.
"I have found texts there on the feeding habits of Bespin sky worm, do you know what the sky worm is?"
"There are only a thousand in all of the skys of Bespin and they only show themselves every thirty standard years."
"Ok, but what does that have to do with whether the Archives will have tech manuals?"
"Simple, if they have texts about a creature that almost no one has seen, wouldn't be reasonable that they'd have LOTS of information on a very common object like a droid or hyperdrive?"
"That makes sense, I guess. Thank you, Master," he said and turned his attention to Siri. "So where have you been? You've been away, right?"
"I was on an undercover mission to break a slaving ring."
"All by yourself?"
"Yes, actually. I had some help from some of the beings I was saving, but for the most part, I was on my own."
"Wow, you must be really brave."
She laughed. It was a nice laugh, like his mother's, not like Watto's. "I suppose some people would say so, but for the most part I was scared silly," she answered.
"Jedi NEVER get scared," Anakin pronounced.
"Oh...and who made you such an expert on the matter, my young apprentice?" Obi-Wan asked with mock severity.
"Everyone knows Jedi don't get scared!"
"I supposed that how we deal with our fear might make otherwise bright lads think that," Obi-Wan said thoughtfully.
"What does that mean?"
"Obi is being silly, while imparting an important lesson, Anakin," Siri said.
"Oh..." Anakin scrunched up his face and thought, " I'm sorry Masters...but I think I missed the lesson."
Obi-Wan smiled down at his Padawan and knelt down to be on his level, "Good of you to admit it. Simply put, Jedi feel fear just like anyone else. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference, all Jedi feel fear, no Jedi ever panics," Obi-Wan said.
"There is a difference?"
"Yes. There is, but it will take more than an few minutes to explain, and you were telling Siri about recent events I believe?" Obi-Wan said.
He nodded. "Master Jinn took on a Sith." She visibly paled, but he continued enthusiastically. "Twice. And Master Obi-Wan took on two Sith, but not at the same time."
She looked at Obi-Wan. "Really? Things have been busy while I've been gone."
"Yes, well, Darth Maul I confronted as part of a group of three Jedi, and we very much lost that battle. He very nearly killed Qui-Gon in that battle. Darth Sidious, four of us took on and he killed two, though no one you would know."
"Did you kill either of them?"
"Darth Sidious, though I didn't personally kill either of them. Darth Maul is still out there, but he's the less deadly of the two. If I had to make the choice as to which died, I would choose for Sidious to die and Maul to live," he said, and a chill hit Anakin. What he'd said was important in some way, but he had no idea how.
"Can we go to the Archives now?" he asked, avoiding the subject, and Obi-Wan nodded. Lunch was finished.
"Once we get this cleaned up, we can go."
"Yes, Master," he said and he started to carry the dishes to the kitchen.
* * *
Ter'ka Nay'ath met with the architect Master Yoda had designated to build the new building for the Temple. Master Jenneth was busy ensuring that the students were adjusting to the new schedule and Master Yoda was running the Temple and ensuring that essential government services weren't interrupted by the events at the Senate nearly a month previous. Things were on track to have the Senate fully back in session in four months, but it was going to be a long four months. There were a number of Senators who had returned, arrived, or a few who had survived and stayed, but the number was far short of the sixty percent of the Senate needed to allow for voting, but that was neither something Ter'ka cared about nor needed to be worrying over. He had a school to design.
"What I would like to know is the Temple's expectations of this building's functions and usefulness," said Erkan Slanker, the architect.
"We expect to house families of incoming Jedi, and those few families who now want to move to the Temple grounds of Jedi who are already here. We also will need the first twenty levels to be set up to be classrooms. The second ten levels or so would need to be convertible, living space or classroom space as we need it, but the expectation is that we will need it for classrooms at this time."
"How tall do you want the building to be?"
"Well, I rather imagine it would need to be at least sixty stories, twenty for classrooms and forty for housing."
"Master Yoda already forwarded me the ground dimensions for the building, so I'd started drawing out some sample floor plans."
"That's fine. We will need a variety of one, two, and three bedroom units, though I wouldn't be able to tell you the proportions."
"Well, we have societal norms on file for a variety of species, I could put together something that should be reasonably useful for you the majority of the time."
"That would be excellent."
"What kind of demographics are you expecting?"
"We try to cater to the end user as much as to the being who is contracting, at least as much as we are able."
"Oh. I can request a demographics breakdown of the current population of the Temple, if that would help. We have all variety of beings living here, though those with special living requirements could be housed in the Temple if need be."
"Special living requirements?"
"Kel Dor and others have highly specialized environments, we have the equipment to ensure the comfort of any member of just about any species."
"Would you say that you would prefer that idea?"
"I believe it is going to depend on what else will have to go into the design, if we choose to do so."
"Well, extra thick walls, specialized windows and doors that will seal with a command, nothing that's especially hard to get for you, but somewhat more expensive than a building that is created with oxygen breathers in mind."
"The cost is not an issue. Will it significantly alter the lifespan of the building?"
"If anything, the thicker walls—properly seated, of course—would make the building more durable."
"That is a very good thing. I think we can do that then."
"Alright. I will get several floor layouts ready to go, and is it my understanding that there is to be space for an open-air garden within the building's confines?"
"Yes, that is Master Yoda's plan. I don't think he would mind if you closed in the garden, but it does need to be open to the sky."
With that, the architect seemed satisfied with the information Ter'ka had provided, but he was probably just reaffirming what Master Yoda had told him. Architect Slanker left, and Ter'ka sat back, realizing that it would be a much larger project to get everything going that needed going if this was to succeed, but he was satisfied with that, and with the work he'd done so far.
* * *
Zef Jinzler, father of four and respected electrician and electronics technician, was somewhere he didn't think he'd ever be again, a classroom. What was more, he was a student, not a teacher. While he might know a great deal about the subject he had said he'd teach, and he might do alright one-on-one with an interested kid like Dean, he didn't know the first thing about teaching a whole classroom full of kids. So he was in a pedagogy class, when he wasn't tending to the other things he was doing. He still worked full-time, though that had been made much more flexible, and he taught as well, both a class and a young apprentice. And in his spare time, what little he had, he showed his youngest how to handle a hydrospanner.
Dean was two years younger than Lorana—fifteen—and while he still made inquiries directed at Master Yoda, he still hadn't seen the child they had given up to the Temple over sixteen years ago. Of course, for the majority of the time since they had been welcomed back to the Temple she'd been off on a mission, and from the sound of it, it was mostly hand-holding of some planets whose Senators had been killed in the Massacre. He knew that was why he'd agreed to give her up to the Temple, but he had to wonder if his impatience had more to do with the fact that her Master was a rude, egotistical bastard who had told him that he would not see her until she had completed her training, or if it was just that he didn't find the idea of what she was doing to be as important as being here where she could be in his class, or at least somewhere nearby, where he could see her, and where her wishes could be expressed.
But for the moment, he needed his attention on what he was doing, which was learning how people learned, which would help him learn to teach.
* * *
Anakin didn't yet know how he felt about Master Dooku, but at least his lessons weren't quite as intense as some of the other Masters he had studied with so far. The new schedule plan for school had actually left him with a great deal more time on his hands, since he was taking more focused, in depth classes that were suited to his ability level rather than classes with his age group that were more suited to theirs.
He sometimes had lessons by himself. Galactic history was one of those classes, because he was so far behind that putting him in any class except the very basic one for the four-year-old Initiates would have been hopeless, and Master Peko, who had become his tutor in various subjects, was adamant that he catch up to the standard of children his age as quickly as possible. He'd even talked Master Obi-Wan into letting him take a basic electronics class, and someone who really knew what he was doing, even if he didn't know how to teach very well, taught it. He'd already learned a bunch of wizard things that he hadn't known about how electricity worked, how it flowed through wires and other components to make a circuit.
But Master Dooku was different. Sure, he was learning Masaki from him, but that was far from all that they did. Sometimes they went out into the city for lunch, sometimes they ate at the Temple. Anakin wasn't entirely sure what Master Obi-Wan did without him for lunch on the two days he had lightsaber classes with Master Dooku, but it didn't concern him. He was happy and learning, and Obi-Wan was almost happy, and Master Qui-Gon had told him that if he just had patience, that life would improve, and he was right. Obi-Wan was already a lot better Master than he had been when Anakin had first come to the Temple.
Today was one of the days where Master Dooku took him out of the Temple into the city for lunch. "You should be observant of your surroundings, young Skywalker."
"Why's that, Master Dooku?"
"Because, you never know what you might learn, just by watching people. For example, do you see those three men over there?"
Anakin looked where he was directed to. "Yeah, so?"
"Do you recognize any of them?"
"No, are they important?"
"Well, the one sitting by himself is the new Senator of Naboo, Senator Bernath. The others are Bail Organa and Bail Antilles, the current and former Senators of Alderaan."
"Why is the former Senator of Alderaan here?"
"Well, he hasn't left. I'm sure that Senator Organa wants to keep him here as long as he can so that he can learn more of what he knows."
"They kind of look alike."
"They are cousins, somehow. I'm not entirely sure their exact relation, but by tradition, the Senator of Alderaan is a member of the Royal family."
"Oh. Did Senator Antilles' term end or did he just decide to go home?"
"He was in the Senate for the Massacre, and saw many of his colleagues die. I'm sure he requested that he be allowed to go home and retire to a quiet life in the rolling hills of Alderaan, or at least to be away from the capital."
"So what's so important about some Senators?" Anakin asked. He'd learned over the two weeks since he'd been learning from Master Dooku that he didn't do much of anything without some purpose behind it.
"Well, the senator of Naboo replaces the Sith who was killed."
"Yeah," Anakin agreed. He hadn't met the former Senator of Naboo, but now that someone had mentioned it, he did realize that was the case.
"And Alderaan and Naboo are peaceful planets."
"Yeah," he agreed, then after a moment's thought he added, "So them talking to each other is normal."
"Expected, at the very least," Master Dooku agreed with him. The service droid came by and took their orders.
"Should we make expectations?"
"It is perhaps outside the jurisdiction of a normal Jedi, but you will not be a normal Jedi, so I think that you might learn to observe the actions of various Senators to enable you to judge their motivations if they were to approach you."
"Did the Queen of Naboo pick the new Senator?" he asked, suddenly anxious about that thought.
"Appoint, and I believe so, yes."
"Good," Anakin agreed, relieved as their drinks arrived.
"Did you meet the Queen while she was here?"
"Yes. She and her handmaidens were very nice, and very brave. I was sad for them when Leia and Sabé died."
"I hadn't heard that two of her handmaidens had died."
Anakin remembered then that he wasn't supposed to talk about Leia or Luke with anyone but Master Obi-Wan and Master Jinn and Master Yoda. "It's complicated," he said as he shifted uncomfortably.
"But you understand it?"
"Sort of. But I'm not supposed to talk about it. Master Yoda says."
"Very well, then," Master Dooku agreed. "Do you trust the Queen's judgment?"
"Yes. She would have been very careful picking out someone new."
"I'm sure she would."
"So, if a Senator is friends with him, then they are probably a good person."
"Well, politicians aren't typically to be trusted, but yes, it might do to hear out Senator Organa before deciding for or against whatever agenda he happens to be touting."
"But why will they try to talk to me?"
"You have grown up outside the Temple, and with all the changes that are going to be coming about, people are wanting to know more about the Temple. You are more relatable to the average person. And you are, for good or ill, by both reputation and skill, an excellent pilot. Some of what a Jedi does involves flying, and so, you will stand out. Trust me, they will notice you, if they haven't already."
"Ok," Anakin said, accepting the reasoning. "What about you?"
"I had the recent unfortunate duty of speaking with various members of my family, which was terribly unpleasant. They are quite well off, and not used to being told 'no.'"
"So the Senators talk to you because of your family?"
"Yes, and the media as well. Most Jedi want nothing to do with the media, but I don't find it that onerous a task, so I have not faded from the spotlight as quickly as perhaps I should have, and certainly not as quickly as your Master has."
"Why do they want to talk to Master Obi-Wan?"
"Well, he was at the Massacre in the Senate, for one thing, has fought Darth Maul, and he's not bad looking. With the recent changes in the rules regarding marriage, I'm sure that some media outlets have determined that he is very much an eligible bachelor."
"But, Master Dooku, he's not," Anakin insisted.
"What do you mean?"
"There's this girl, I met her the other day, and he can't talk right when she's around."
Master Dooku laughed. "What girl?"
"Master Siri," he said, affording her the title that he and the other Padawans used for practically everyone except other Padawans.
"Siri Tachi?" he asked, sounding mildly curious.
"Perhaps you are right, but until they are married, if that happens, the media will maintain that he is a bachelor."
"But he doesn't want to talk to the media?"
"No. Most Jedi won't speak with the media unless they have to."
"Do you think I will have to?"
"Undoubtedly, but if you learn to handle it properly, it will be like any other Jedi duty."
"Ok. Do you like talking to the media?"
"I neither particularly like nor dislike it, but someone must do it, to an extent. We have a Press secretary now, so I'm not entirely sure what contact we will have with the media now."
"Oh," Anakin said, biting his lip, but he was saved from further conversation by the arrival of their food.
* * *
Jorus C'baoth had as yet failed to come up with a way to approach the subject of Lorana's family with her, and they had spent all the time that they could out on their mission, speaking with the governments of various planets and reassuring them that Coruscant was once again safe for their Senators. They were on their return trip home, and he could decide to defy the Council and not tell her, or he could broach the subject gently, and perhaps she would be less open to the idea, and he wouldn't have to put it in front of her.
Lorana slipped into the compartment quietly. "We should arrive in-system in two standard hours, Master."
"Very well," he said, and she turned to exit again. "Wait."
"I was wanting your opinion of this whole mess with Jedi's families."
"My opinion, Master?" she asked, sounding alarmed.
"Yes. I know that I have not sought your opinion on very many matters, but this is one that is going to affect Jedi at all levels, and it is going to affect some Jedi differently from others."
"I suppose that I think it is overall a good thing, but some of our Jedi have already had bad experiences with it, like Master Dooku."
Jorus nodded. He'd suspected as much. "Would you want to meet with your family if they contacted you?"
"I suppose that I would at least want to meet with them once. I do have some curiosity about who they are, where I came from, why they chose the Temple as a life for me instead of with them."
"Would you want to continue meeting with them after?"
"It would depend on the kind of people that they were, if they had any sort of agendas. I wouldn't want to bind myself to any particular path if it wasn't going to be productive for both myself and them."
He stared off for a few moments, evaluating her answers, and formulating her most likely responses, and frowning when he decided she would probably be happy to get to know her parents. That would interfere with his training of her into a proper Jedi, and he disliked that. But defying the Council at this point was just as distasteful, though it grew less so by the day. It would take time and contact with other Jedi before he could determine what if anything could be done about this. In the meantime, he decided to delay telling her about her family, and try to get a contingent of other Jedi together who would agree with him that allowing Padawans and their families to contact each other would be terribly detrimental. "I thank you for your honest opinions."
"Of course, Master," she said, sounding a bit confused. Perhaps he should have told her, but it wouldn't be a good thing for her, and it wouldn't have advanced what he needed to be doing if he was going to be correcting this mistake. Yes, that was what was needed. Someone to take charge and correct this mistake.
"Leave me. Notify me when we land."
"Yes, Master," she said with a bow.
* * *
"What seems to be the problem, Bail?" Senator Bernath asked his colleague, who seemed somewhat bereft since his cousin had left earlier in the month.
"I'm not entirely sure that the Senate should have this much control. We have a court system, so why is the Senate conducting trials?"
"The trials of the Trade Federation aren't covered by laws that we have. But colluding with a Sith should be a crime, and we should also be able to mete out punishment."
"We need formal rules for conducting a trial within the Senate," Bail Organa said. Hakan sat back, thinking about it.
"I could see that, but we need to get through this trial first. It's not going to work well if you start imposing rules on people in the middle of doing something. You're going to alienate far more people than you would get on board if you tried this right now."
"You are right," Bail agreed with a sigh. "But it needs done."
"Of course. If you want help writing up a bill to put before the Senate when it reconvenes, I will gladly help, but as a body, we are limited in power until we can attain quorum again."
"We are lucky that there are those very old laws that Master Yoda invoked to ensure the continued functioning of the bureaucracy, at the very least."
"Well, a quarter of the residents of the Capital work for some branch of the government, and if all government work stops for half a year, there would be people starving. Compassion if nothing else provokes a response. And think how badly paperwork would be backed up if people weren't being paid to ensure that it got done."
Bail groaned. "I don't even want to think about it. Strikes are bad enough when they happen, and those are usually localized to a planet, or a branch of government. There would be people untangling things for years if the entire Galactic government shut down for any length of time."
"So, we can get something going on a structure for trials in the future, and in the meantime, we can put our voices to datapad on the issues at hand."
* * *
Zef Jinzler was still learning to put together a lesson plan, and a cohesive idea on what his class needed to know, but the Force also seemed to have taken pity on him. Dean had enrolled in the class with the idea that he could help teach the basics if it was necessary, but he'd learned as much as any other student, because the group of youngsters who had gotten themselves enrolled in the class were some of the most savvy he'd ever seen. He had quickly determined that a seminar class style, which was what the Jedi had suggested, just wasn't going to work for this group, though he was seeing how it might work later. And his students had been just as interested in helping him plan out what they were learning, telling him where there was overlap in the technical theory, places where he could skimp a bit, just refreshing the ideas in their memory instead of going into detail, and he discovered that this was much closer to an intermediate class than a beginner class, and that he could handle them much better than he would have thought at the beginning of their time together.
"Mr. Jinzler," a hand shot up.
"Yes, Padawan Skywalker?" he said. There were no Initiates in this class; rather, there was a fairly even mix of Padawans and non Force-sensitive children. This intermediate class was probably going to continue indefinitely, but he thought he might be able to do a new beginning-level class that could include Initiates, especially those who were, like three of his children, not Force-sensitive.
"I think this diagram is wrong."
He came over and examined the diagram in question. "And what do you think is wrong with it?"
"It's backwards," he started, pointing out various defects in the flow of electricity through the circuit, and how reversing the current would make the circuit flow far more efficiently.
"I see. Well, why don't you build an actual circuit to test that little theory of yours, and then everyone will be able to see what you are talking about."
"Yes, Mr. Jinzler," he said, heading off to the component trays at the back of the room. Two weeks into their course, he'd decided that lab work was going to be a far more effective teacher than theory, though there was still an element of that most class periods.
Anakin Skywalker was the most precocious of the group, but he was also the most unusual, having lived outside the Temple until very recently, and he'd also been interested in electronics for most of his young life. But this class had allowed him to begin to make friends, for which his young Master seemed most grateful. Jedi Kenobi was only a year or two older than his oldest, Marcus, and he was quite interested in what Anakin did while he was not present. There was something odd about the way that he worded certain questions, but most of it seemed to be about Anakin adjusting well to the environment of the Temple, and all of it seemed to stem from genuine concern for Anakin's well-being.
Another student grabbed his attention to check her work, and he put off musing about the eccentricities of his job for later.
* * *
Master Yoda had decided that the most direct way to confront the problem of Master C'baoth's resistance to the restructuring of the Order was to take the Jinzlers to see Lorana and C'baoth upon their return to the Temple. There was some risk in that; C'baoth was very set in his ways and in his own idea of how the Order should be. He'd asked that the Jinzlers remain quiet until he was able to introduce them, and they had agreed. They were at least getting to see her, and most likely would get to speak with her, depending on how badly Master C'baoth reacted. Sandra and Zef had decided to leave Dean to his studies, and to introduce their children to Lorana after some time alone with her.
He had his hoverchair and they followed along behind to the door, which he knew to be the proper door, though most of the family members had trouble finding rooms on any of the other levels, and the only reason they could find rooms on level thirteen was because they began to label them, and to paint the halls in different, brighter colors. He rang the chime and waited, and Lorana answered the door.
"Good morning, Master Yoda," she said with a small bow, and he noticed her curious look in the direction of her parents, but she didn't say anything as they came in.
"Good morning, Lorana. To Master C'baoth I need to speak."
"Yes, Master Yoda," she said, and she went to get him.
"She's so lovely," Sandra said as they waited.
Before Zef could respond, Lorana returned, and Master C'baoth with her. "What is the meaning of this?"
"Told you I did that needed to deal with this you did."
"And my choice is being taken out of the equation entirely?"
"Allowed to proceed as you prefer, you cannot be. A dangerous precedent that would set. The rapidness of this change, sit well with you it does not, but hope that you see the necessity of it I do."
"Lorana is my Padawan, to do with as I see fit."
"Within the bounds set by the Council. Changed those boundaries have been."
There was a silence, and something changed during that silence. "I will not tolerate the Council's continued interference."
There was an odd sort of light in his brown eyes, and Master Yoda hopped out of his hover chair, moving in a bit closer to C'baoth. "Abide by the Council's ruling you will or remove from your care your Padawan we will."
"I do not have to tolerate this," C'baoth said. He snapped his arm up, throwing Force lightning in Master Yoda's direction.
Master Yoda, while surprised, was able to catch it, absorbing the energy into a small ball in his palm. He did not throw the energy back at the other Master. "Do not give into your anger," he implored, hoping that it wasn't too late.
"Lorana," C'baoth called. "Come with me, and I can complete your training, as it was meant to be, without all this coddling that the Temple insists on doing to the families, to the Padawans, to the Initiates. Temple life is hard so that Jedi can be hard."
"No," Lorana said. It was probably the first time she'd ever said the word in her life. "I can't come with you when you are defying the Council," she said, drawing her lightsaber.
Master Yoda drew his lightsaber as well. This was not going as planned. "Turn away from the fear and anger. Do not give into the dark side. Only tragedy will that bring you."
"I do what is necessary," C'baoth said, "For the Council has strayed from the true path of the Jedi that has been set before us for thousands of years on the say-so of two strangers who have conveniently disappeared, leaving all of this destruction in their wake, and I am the only Jedi who is brave enough to stand up to the Council and tell you that you are wrong." C'baoth pulled out his lightsaber and struck out at Sandra then, and she screamed, but Lorana's blade blocked his.
"Master, no!" Lorana screamed, and she pushed her parents out of harm's path.
They crossed blades several times, but even though she had drawn herself into the Force in preparation for battle, Yoda could tell that she hesitated too much, and it would get her hurt. "Stop this now!" Yoda shouted, but to no effect. Lorana would have gladly stood down, but C'baoth was too far into his delusion that he alone could change the direction of the Order, that he alone knew what was right for the Order.
He watched Master and Padawan cross blades several more times before stepping in. "Fight the one you were sworn to protect, you must not."
"If you are not going to listen to the truth, then I will have to show you the truth," C'baoth shouted, and he crossed his sapphire blade with Master Yoda's emerald one.
C'baoth threw lightning at Yoda, and he didn't have the concentration to spare to tell Lorana that she needed to get out, and she seemed frozen in place. Not that he blamed her. This was happening very quickly, and they were truly turning her world upside down in the span of a few minutes. He caught the Force lightning in his free hand, throwing it back, but C'baoth blocked it harmlessly with his lightsaber. This needed to end quickly, before someone got hurt.
The battle picked up in intensity as C'baoth began further to break away from the person that he'd been before. Yoda was saddened as he realized that there would be no turning back from this course of action. C'baoth would never accept the changes in the Order. He blocked and backed away as needed as C'baoth came at him with lightning and forceful saber strikes, and then, suddenly, C'baoth turned away, striking at Lorana. She screamed in pain as his blade hit her, cutting through some part of her flesh, but Yoda had no time to spare for her as he began to chase down C'baoth.
They exited into the hall, and the hall curved around toward the outside of the building. He hurried to catch up as he heard a commotion. "Capture Master C'baoth we must," he said to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who was spilled out backwards, near his very young Padawan. C'baoth was similarly splayed out in Yoda's direction, and both the Jedi sprang to their feet quickly.
"Go get Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan directed Anakin after a few strikes from C'baoth in his direction. Neither of them wanted to cause harm to C'baoth, but he was making it difficult. Anakin backed away a few steps, and Yoda returned all of his attention to C'baoth, and apparently, so did Obi-Wan. He connected through the Force to Obi-Wan, using the minor bond that had been set up when he was training with him as an Initiate. They worked in tandem to wear the Jedi Master down, when suddenly he crumpled.
"Anakin, I thought I told you to get Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan said as he took C'baoth's lightsaber from him.
"That meant I had to go past you," he pointed out, "And I didn't really hurt him."
"You were lucky that was just a training saber, Anakin, you could have easily killed him if you'd been using a full-fledged lightsaber, cut him right in two up the middle."
"I thought you said there was no such thing as luck, Master. I knew I only had a training saber and with you and Master Yoda distracting Master C'Both I felt an opening to end the fight without anyone else getting hurt." Anakin said.
"A point your padawan has, Obi-Wan," Yoda said, obviously amused in spite of the seriousness of the situation.
"That isn't the point, he needs to learn to listen to instructions, I never give them without very good reasons and that instruction was to keep you safe, my precocious Padawan," Obi-Wan said..
"And a point your Master has, young Skywalker. Hope learned something BOTH of you have today," Master Yoda said.
"I'm sorry Master, but he's caught now, right?"
"Yes, he is caught, and to reinforce what Master Yoda said, I hope you've learned something from this."
"I hope you learned something too, Master," Anakin said with a michivious grin on his face.
"Oh, very good, remind me of that part," Obi-Wan said, playing along and realizing for the first time that this headstrong boy was TRULY going to be his brother someday.
"So am I going to be punished for disobeying?" Anakin asked.
"Oh, of course, an extra hour of meditation tonight before bed. However in the meantime I think a small celebration is in order for this not being worse, therefore I suggest a race, to Dex's and the loser has to help the winner eat his ice cream."
By this point, the Temple Security had arrived, and Yoda informed them to hold C'baoth until the Council could decide what to do with him, and he headed back to C'baoth's quarters, and Obi-Wan and Anakin headed on their way. He found medics tending to Lorana's injury, a slice to her upper arm, and it wasn't serious enough that she would even be required to visit the Healer's. "I am sorry," he told her parents.
Sandra was shaking, and Zef looked as though he wanted to strangle C'baoth himself. "We had hoped to come to some sort of agreement with him today. We hoped that he would be reasonable."
"Hoped that I did as well," Master Yoda replied as he got back into his hoverchair. The medics finished up with Lorana, and she came over to them. "Sorry I am that this has happened."
"What was this about? I don't understand."
"To contact you your parents wished, and deny them Master C'baoth attempted. Permitted this could not be. Action, required it was. Too forceful, perhaps I was. Too arrogant, perhaps, thinking that defy me no one would. Regret this occurrence deeply I do."
"I was just thinking the other day that I would like to meet my parents," Lorana told him, a touch of the sadness leaving her grey eyes.
Yoda smiled at her. "Met them already you have," he said, indicating Zef and Sandra.
"Thank you for calling the medics and security," she said to her father. "I know this isn't exactly the way that either of us pictured things going."
"The day off from school I think you need," Master Yoda said. "Today has not been easy for you."
"I," Lorana started as she looked back at him, then took a deep breath. "That might be a good idea."
* * *
Anakin was learning as quickly as he could, so that he and Obi-Wan could go out on missions, but there was a lot for him to get caught up on. Today was not going to disappoint, either. With the basics of two lightsaber forms down, he was ready to try his hand at combat with someone his own age, at least relatively. This was going to be his first meeting with Siri's new Padawan, Ferus Olin.
"Good morning, Master Siri," he said. It was Fifth Day, after he'd written his letter to his mother, but not yet time for lunch. That would be something the four of them would do together, it looked like.
"Good morning, Padawan Skywalker, it's good to see you."
"Good to see you, too," he agreed.
"This is Ferus, my Padawan."
"Pleased to meet you."
"Likewise. I have heard that you are just learning formal lightsaber techniques?"
"Yes, but Master Yoda and Master Dooku are very excellent teachers."
"I imagine they are," Ferus continued. "I remember learning Shii-Cho from Master Yoda quite some time ago."
"Well, I only met him a month ago, so I haven't taken very many lessons."
Ferus frowned. "You've only been in lightsaber lessons for a month?"
"Yes, but it's ok. Master Obi-Wan is really helping me, and I think I'm really getting the hang of it."
Ferus looked uncertainly at Siri. "It's fine, Ferus, you should be able to spar without hurting each other."
Anakin was quite used to being able to put everything he had into the act of lightsaber combat, but with that statement he was also a little uncertain. He looked up at Obi-Wan, who smiled back encouragingly. "I think you both will learn from this experience."
"Yes, Master," Anakin agreed, and the boys both lit their practice blades.
* * *
Jorus C'baoth looked out of the small cell. He had known that there were cells in the Temple, but he hadn't thought about them in years, much less that anyone would dare to put him into one. There weren't many, perhaps six in the small, narrow hall that the security force had shown him to. There was only a small glow-plate in his cell for light. There were no windows, no indications that this might be anywhere near the outside of the building. Or even if it was above the Room of a Thousand Fountains, but he knew where they were well enough. The Council was going to debate what they wanted to do with him, as though he were a Nexu that had gotten out of control. Perhaps the analogy wasn't quite accurate or fair, but it made his temper that much sharper anyway.
"What is your name, boy?" he asked the Knight who was guarding his cell. there were other guards further down, he could sense them, but at this time, in the narrow hall, there was only the one boy.
"I'm not supposed to talk to you," he informed C'baoth, and turned away. Turned his back on the Jedi Master as though he wasn't worth looking at. As though he wasn't a threat. He would show this nameless boy.
He concentrated very hard on the Force, directing it to him. The boy sensed his drawing on the Force, and turned around. "You will release me," he said, putting as much of the Force into his command as he could.
"I-I-I," studdered the boy.
"You will release me," C'baoth repeated, the Force crashing against the boy's puny shields.
"I will release you," he said as C'baoth not only used the Force to Mind Trick the young Knight, but dug himself into the boy's mind so that he couldn't shake it off. He took halting steps toward C'baoth's cell, pressing the sequence that would release the ray-shield that held him in.
C'baoth released the boy's mind, but he'd done more damage than he'd intended, and the boy collapsed, and would never rise again. He felt a small amount of pity for the boy, as he hadn't actually intended to turn him into a vegetable, but what was done was done. He pulled the boy's lightsaber to him with the Force and headed for freedom.
* * *
Jedi Master Justyn Ma'Ning could think of no particular reason that Master Yoda would call him in for a private meeting. He was in charge of hiring new people for the various duties running the Jedi Temple that the Temple could not provide from within their own ranks, and once they were hired, the care and maintenance of personnel passed to other Jedi and ranking technicians. He was also now tasked with seeing to placing incoming families in touch with Knight Knith, and if they had skills that would be employable by the Temple, setting them up with a job if they desired to have one at the Temple itself. So he went into his meeting with Master Yoda with nothing more than a mild curiosity as to what was going on.
He chimed the door to Master Yoda's meditation room at the appropriate hour, and was admitted. There was a young girl, Human, and she had some sort of vague familiarity about her that he couldn't place immediately. She seemed shy—reticent, perhaps—much as any Padawan he'd met. "Master Ma'Ning," Master Yoda began, "Believe I do that most helpful to this Padawan you will be."
"Yes, Master Yoda, of what service can I be?"
"Take her on as your Padawan I wish, for her Master, rogue he has gone."
He'd only just finished training his first Padawan, Ter'ka Nay'ath, who seemed to be doing well, finding his own path helping Master Jenneth, but he wasn't sure he was ready to take on a second so soon. "What has happened?" he asked, sitting down on one of the meditation cushions. The explanation did prove to be a long one, through which she was silent, but he did learn who she was: Jorus C'baoth's Padawan, Lorana Jinzler, which explained her familiarity to him—she looked a good deal like her mother had years before when she'd been at the Temple.
"What do you have to say about all this, Lorana?" Justyn asked her finally after Master Yoda had provided the basic details of what had happened.
"Master C'baoth was quite disturbed by the pace of the changes and the lack of explanation as to their need. I don't say that I can entirely blame him—the entire Order is being asked to take many changes on faith that this is right. I'm sure that Master C'baoth is not going to be the only person who's concerned."
"But a difference between concerned and defiant there is. To open the Temple to families the decision of the Council, the full Council, it was. To defy that the Council cannot allow."
"I understand, Master, but that pushed Master C'baoth past the point of breaking. Was that wise?"
"Told he was before you left on your last mission that a decision about your family required it would be upon your return. Contacted him within a few days of the announcement your family did."
"So they have waited for nearly a month for me to be allowed to contact them?" Lorana asked, and there was a little heat in her voice, a small amount of outrage. He was happy to actually see that she had some backbone, for she'd shown none up to this point.
"They have," Justyn said, "And they've waited for most of that time here, and have started to integrate themselves into the Temple community."
"You've met them?"
"Yes, your father, at least. I approved their re-admittance to employment at the Temple. They worked here before you were born. I do remember your mother, but I haven't seen her since you were very small."
"You don't look that old," she said.
"I was a Padawan, a bit older than you are now, when you were born. I have trained a Padawan from start to finish already."
"Yes, Master," she said with a little bow to him. He was really starting to like this girl.
"Would you accept me as a Master in the stead of Master C'baoth, since he will no longer be available?"
She was caught off-guard by the question, as though she wasn't really used to giving her opinion to anyone. "Yes," she said.
"Time to acquaint yourselves you need. Advise the Council of your progress, please."
"Thank you, Master Yoda," Lorana said with a bow.
"You're welcome, child. May the Force be with you," he said more formally.
"And with you."
* * *
Obi-Wan Kenobi was rather amazed sometimes at how similar his life was after he had been knighted to how it had been before, while he was still a Padawan. He still spent time with Qui-Gon, learning about the Living Force now, instead of the more general studies that he'd done while he was a Padawan. He still took classes on things he found interesting. He lived now with Anakin instead of with Qui-Gon, and he taught Anakin, but he had discovered that teaching was simply a different way of learning.
Though there was more responsibility. And Anakin was as much of a headache as Qui-Gon was, in his own way. And it got him speaking with Master Yoda and the Council more often than he liked, but he was starting to take it in stride. According to the memories that had been shared with him, he was going to be appointed to the Council shortly after he finished with Anakin's training. That was, of course, contingent upon events following closely with the events of the other time-line, and he didn't know yet how events would now play out.
But that brought him to where he was this particular day, discussing Anakin's training with Master Yoda. "I'm not sure either one of us is ready to go out into the field."
"Partner you with other teams I wish. Teach your Padawan to work well in a group setting you will."
"Who do you want to send us with?"
"Two new pairings; getting a feel for each other they are, and low-risk this mission should be."
Obi-Wan swallowed hard. The Council's evaluation of what would be a low-risk mission tended to be the kind that would go horribly wrong if it could. "Who are the other teams?"
"Siri Tachi and Ferus Olin, also Justyn Ma'Ning and Lorana Jinzler."
He nodded. Ripples had gone through the Temple at the loss of Master C'baoth only days before. Master Yoda had been less than forthcoming as to his opinion of what had happened, and his former Padawan, Jinzler, had been sequestered away with Master Ma'Ning for the majority of the time since Master C'baoth had left. That wasn't terribly unusual; Padawans who received a second Master tended to spend a great deal of time with the new Master away from others while they adjusted to one another. This was also usually coupled with a great deal of grief, because it had been at least fifty years since the last time a Padawan had been taken from an unfit Master. "What is the mission?" he asked with some trepidation.
"Master C'baoth; find and report his activities you shall," Master Yoda informed him.
A chill went down his spine. This was the very kind of 'low-risk mission' hat could very well get him, his Padawan and everyone else involved killed. It was the very kind of thing that he and Anakin would be best at in the future.
No time like the present, he thought to himself. "If what I've heard third-hand is any indication, this mission is anything but low-risk."
"Tell you I shall, everything that I know, everything that has happened."
* * *
Langk Nikwete sometimes hated the very closed nature of Jedi, but it might make description of this event easier to write. He was attending a closed ceremony, the placing of one of the busts of the Lost. They numbered twenty now, and the latest addition hadn't even been gone a week, but that had obviously been enough time to create one of these busts, and now to install it.
The galaxy needed to know about this, even if they wouldn't understand much about it. They would understand what he needed them to understand. Jedi were people, each with their own likes, dislikes, desires and faults. Despite the fact that people needed to see the Jedi Order as a whole as a strong, unified group, who were, for the most part, discerning, compassionate individuals, they also needed to see that they were not infallible.
The reasons that he thought that were complex. Being able to admit that Jedi made mistakes was risky. People liked to believe in a very black and white world. Jedi, good; Sith, evil. Jedi are always right. The galaxy is always in motion. Politicians are always corrupt.
Basic precepts and generalizations crystallized in people's minds, and became facts, and it was difficult to get people to believe something other than those most basic things. He was now tasked with informing the general public about what had happened without shaking their faith in the Jedi. He was sure that this was just the first in a long line of difficult assignments, but he was also felt he was up for the task.
The ceremony was quick; and no words were spoken, but it was well attended, both by those who seemed personally affected by the event, and by those with some curiosity as to what was going on. Perhaps he would have time later to speak with some Jedi as to their personal feelings about the event, but for now, he needed to compose his own thoughts into words.