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«Jedi Quest 8: The Changing of the Guard», Jude Watson

Chapter One

Senate aide Tyro Caladian winced at the look of frustration on the face of his friend Obi-Wan Kenobi. "I'm sorry," he said for the third time.

 

"There is nothing I can do."

 

Obi-Wan wanted to groan. He wanted to kick a hole through the rare laroon wood paneling of Meeting Room A3000291 in the Senate. He wanted to react like a privileged, arrogant Senator used to getting his way. He wanted to lash out.

 

But he was a Jedi. Jedi did not do such things. They accepted even the most nerve-torturing frustrations with calm focus and unswerving direction.

 

He must look for the flaw in the logic, discover the opening in the locked gate. Find the way. Petty emotions would only divert him. Obi-Wan took a deep breath and searched for his calm center.

 

He looked over at his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. If Obi-Wan merely felt like kicking a wall, it appeared that Anakin would do so at any moment. His gaze was turbulent, boiling. Then, as Obi-Wan watched, a mask slid over Anakin's frustration. He looked composed now, perfectly in control.

 

An impressive achievement. Obi-Wan had noted Anakin's growth over the past six months while they had been tracking the evil scientist Jenna Zan Arbor from her last known stop in the Vanqor system. Anakin was seventeen now. He was becoming a man as well as a Jedi.

 

Together they had followed Zan Arbor's trail, tracing rumors and finding clues. They knew the scientist did not have access to her large fortune, which the Senate had confiscated and then dispersed among the many planets she had wronged. They knew what the Vanqors had paid her would soon be depleted. But they also knew that she had a taste for extravagance. She liked to live well. Perhaps she would leave a trail that way.

 

Obi-Wan and Anakin had found other missions along the way, places where they were needed that couldn't be ignored. Still they continued to search the galaxy for clues to Zan Arbor's whereabouts, occasionally diverted but never deflected from their goal.

 

The big break came when Anakin discovered she had bought a limited- production cruiser called a Luxe Flightwing. The ship was so rare and beautiful that everyone remembered it — fuelers on obscure spaceports, repair personnel in busy capital cities, customs officials, and especially other pilots. It had been an unwise move, typical of her greed and arrogance. She wanted what she wanted, then she acquired it. But it was a bad mistake. Bit by bit, information trickled in, and at last they had tracked her to Romin, a small planet in the Mid-Rim.

 

Before traveling there to arrest her, Obi-Wan asked his friend and fellow Jedi, Siri Tachi, to help. Siri and her Padawan, Ferus Olin, had been involved in the search from time to time but had been called on by the Jedi Council for other missions. Still, Siri had pledged her support to Obi-Wan. Whenever he needed her for the final capture of Zan Arbor, she would be there.

 

Now in Meeting Room A3000291, Siri didn't show her frustration, but he sensed it in the taut lines of her muscled body. Obi-Wan knew all too well how Siri despised having to deal with the bureaucracy of the Senate. She was always geared for action. In many ways, she was like Anakin.

 

"Look," she said to Tyro, "we're not stupid. We know it will be tricky. Romin is ruled by Roy Teda, who by all accounts is an evil dictator. It's not like he's going to invite the Jedi in. But the Senate is committed to arresting Zan Arbor. Why won't they give us permission to go in?"

 

"It's more complicated than that," Tyro said. Clearly uncomfortable under the scrutiny of Siri's blazing blue eyes, the Svivreni fiddled with the thick metal clasp that held his long black hair in a plume that ran down his back. Then he smoothed the glossy fur on his small, pointed face.

 

"Senate procedure always is. Teda himself is in violation of several galactic laws. He imprisons without trial. We are certain he uses torture to extract information. He has shut down the information bureaus and controls the only communications system on the planet. He has even raided his planet's treasury for his own personal use."

 

"Exactly," Siri said impatiently. "He is a criminal. So why do we have to listen to him?"

 

"Because he is a duly elected ruler," Tyro said. "But he rigged the elections!" Anakin burst out. "That makes no difference," Tyro answered.

 

"We must still obey the laws of Romin. And there is a law forbidding any bounty hunters to enter."

 

"We are not bounty hunters," Ferus said. His dignity rang through his words. "We are Jedi."

 


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