Andriya sighed. Mirnka looked to be in pretty good condition--especially for a planet that had been waging a war for . . . no one was exactly sure, but it was a very long time. Even in orbit, she could sense the hostility toward the Jedi. That was, to say the least, uncommon in peace treaty negotiations. Of course, the senators felt fear as well--fear that they would fail, that they would some how be shafted in the drafting of a treaty. The pride of those two particular men was astronomically high.
"Hadnít we better get landing clearance?"
"Weíll do that when itís necessary, Mistress."
She ignored the fact that he got her title wrong. Even Jedi made that mistake on occasion. "Please do it now. I sense that if we donít act quickly, the senators may change their minds about the help of the Jedi--and peace."
The pilot clenched his fists, refusing to show the anger and impatience rising within him. But Andriya and the other two Jedi with standing with her didnít need a visual display to tell that he had a short temper. Andriya silently wished that her regular pilot hadnít been busy. Behind her, her brother, Myndex, echoed the thought. The third and last Jedi with the Delvees was Halsten Tuurku. His mind was elsewhere, not focused on the descent to the planet. Perhaps he senses the hostility, too, Andriya thought.
As the pilot asked for landing clearance, Andriya received another unpleasant sensation through the Force. It was the awful, nebulous feeling that plagues those about to embark upon a venture that will, ultimately, fail. She turned toward Myndex. "I have a bad feeling about this," she whispered.
Myndex shifted uncomfortably. Not only did he dislike standing for long periods of time, he knew that any bad feeling his older sister received was inspiration from the Force, and not to be taken lightly. "Whatís wrong?"
"Iím not sure. But itís not just those squabbling politicians."
Myndex ran through every Jedi calming technique he knew. His panic would not help their situation any. He knew the real reason he was traveling with his sister--Master Yoda had made sure of that. Love your sister, you do. Show it now, you must. Her protector, you must be. Power matters not; too great for one, the danger is.
The pilot turned to Andriya. Before he spoke, she realized that no clearance had been granted yet. "Looks like you might have been right about that change of heart," he commented wryly.
Andriya didnít look too concerned. Actually, she didnít appear to be listening, either. Disgusted, the pilot turned back to the controls.
The comm-unit crackled to life. "J-683, diplomatic vessel, landing clearance is . . . granted. Proceed to Docking Bay 102."
"Thank you," the co-pilot replied. As they continued their descent to the surface of Mirnka, Andriya left the cockpit, followed by Myndex and, at length, Halsten.
"Guess whoís training his Padawan here," Myndex challenged Andriya eagerly.
Andriya rolled her eyes. This would be the fourth time heíd done this routine on the flight. "Obi-Wan Kenobi," she mumbled without enthusiasm.
"Right! Maybe you two could go out while weíre here--"
"Myndi," Andriya attempted to interrupt, but Myndex, or Myndi, as she called him, would have none of it.
"Yíknow, really paint the town. Iíd watch his Padawan."
"Myndi," she tried again.
"You could even get married. I know a great planet for a honeymoon, you two would just love it there." Andriya gave up trying to stop her brotherís babbling, and covered her face so she could laugh in peace.
"Youíd have to live on Coruscant, of course, because you need to be there. But you two would fit quite nicely in your quarters, Andi, and in a few short years, youíd be all settled with a couple dozen kids. You see, Andi, Iíve got your life planned to the minute so you donít have to. You could even dismiss old Hallís-breath over there--"
"Halsten," he corrected from the corner.
"Yeah, him, and hire me instead. Iíd do a really good job."
"Iím sure you would, Myndi," Andriya said, lifting her face to look at her brother. "Youíve already given me more children than I can count, let alone handle, and married me off--at least in your head. But you forgot a few things."
"Yes. For example, Obi-Wan is ten years older than I am and is busy with his Padawan right now. And, speaking of Obi-Wan, did you ever ask him about your little plan?"
Myndex laughed triumphantly. "But you didnít say youíd be opposed to it! Oh, I knew you liked him, from the moment you breezed back into your office four days early. Admit it! Come on, just say you like him. You know you--"
"Myndex," Andriya said, taking a reproving tone, "that type of behavior is inappropriate for a Jedi."
Myndex composed himself. "Sorry. Guess I got a little carried away."
"Just restrain yourself in the future."
From his post in the corner, Halsten sighed and frowned.
"Whatís wrong, Tuurku?" Andriya called.
"Nothing, Master Andriya." Why canít she reprimand me like that? he thought, hopefully softly enough that Andriya couldnít hear. If she did, the only acknowledgment she gave was a thoughtful look.
A sudden jolt rocked the ship. Halsten hoped it only indicated that theyíd landed, and not that the senators had decided to open fire on them.
"Donít worry, Halsten," Andriya said, trying to sound comforting. "Itís only the landing."
"Are you sure?" Halsten asked meekly.
Andriya nodded, smiling slightly. Intelligence was not exactly Halstenís strength. But heís extraordinarily empathetic, she reminded herself, trying to balance her unkind thought with a kind one.
The gold protocol droid sent to receive the Jedi led them to the main hall of the Mirnka Superior Conference Center. In Andriyaís opinion that was the first mistake--holding negotiations on one of the planets involved in the conflict. As a rule, a neutral site was always chosen, but both senators had rejected the proposed meeting on Coruscant. Instead, the senator from the Paqua III system had agreed to come to the enemy system of Mirnka Superior to discuss peace between the systems.
Myndex frowned and tried not to sigh with dissatisfaction--the other two were doing enough moody exhaling for the group. From what heíd heard, these two senators were among the most stubborn in the galaxy. Of course, at least the Mirnka Superior one had to be, considering that most of his constituents didnít consider themselves, or their planet, under the jurisdiction of the Empire. Strange that theyíd send a representative to the Imperial Senate, yet withhold taxes as long as the Emperor would allow. Perhaps the stubbornness is a Mirnkian trait.
Halsten was extremely preoccupied by the irrational hostility directed toward the three Jedi. He knew these men should have nothing to fear. Of course, he didnít know or understand why the two systems were fighting--the entire concept of war seemed pointless to him.
The droid, after a few moments of awkward silence, began introductions. "Senators, these are the Jedi sent from the Empire--Jedi Master Andriya Delvee, a member of the Jedi Council, Jedi Knight Myndex Delvee and Jedi Knight Halsten Tuurku. Jedi, these are the honorable Imperial Senators--Turmast Junst from the Paqua III system, and Ruberk Nezwish from the Mirnka Superior system."
"Mind you, superior is just the name of the star," Junst said curtly. He did not look at any of the Jedi. He and Nezwish were seated at opposite ends of a table that almost filled the room, and refused to look away from one another, as if the other could not be trusted for a nanosecond. The only sound for more awkward time was the tapping of something in Nezwishís hand.
"Senators, for some reason I donít believe youíre prepared to negotiate the terms of a peace treaty," Andriya said.
"Oh, I believe it," Nezwish said dryly.
"Yes," Junst agreed in a similarly sardonic tone. "Iím a believer."
"So am I," Halsten seconded. He believed that one of the Jedi had better advocate accomplishing the mission or it really would fail.
"Well," Myndex said, addressing only the other two Jedi, "I guess weíd better get to work."
"You neednít try to understand the conflict," Junst called to them.
"Itís beyond outsiders like yourself. Outlanders never understand the Paqua/Mirnka problem," Nezwish continued.
"Thatís really the only thing we are currently in agreement on: outlanders are not to be trusted."
"That doesnít leave many shades of grey," Andriya murmured.
Nodding in agreement, Myndex began to wander away from the other two Jedi.
"Donít get lost," she counseled.
Andriya turned to Halsten. "You said it would work."
"I said I believed it would work. It might not."
"Letís say it will. How?"
"I donít know how."
"Then why did you say it?"
"Well, one of us had to support the peace process, or we might as well go home."
"I think you have the right idea about the going home bit."
"Master Andriya, we must get a treaty signed for these systems."
"If theyíre not ready for it, any compromise reached here will have no affect on the political situation. Iím not sure--Myndi, duck!" she suddenly yelled. As she said it, Myndex was already obeying. Something sailed through the air where his head had been seconds before. Offhand, Andriya guessed it was whatever Nezwish had been tapping on the table.
"And I donít think theyíre ready for peace," Andriya continued. "We have our work cut out for us."
Four days had passed, and the only thing the Jedi had succeeded in doing was avoiding the items the senators threw at them. Andriya could tolerate a person who didn't immediately respect the Jedi-respect should be earned, anyway--but it was difficult for her to tolerate people who attempted to physically abuse the Jedi--especially the particular Jedi that happened to be her brother. So far, the senators hadn't thrown anything at her, but she wasn't sure if that was because she was a woman or on the Jedi Council.
Whatever the reason had been, on the fifth day, the senators didn't seem to care anymore. They threw something--she wasn't sure what it was--very large at her. Andriya calmly stood her ground as the object soared through the air toward her. Before it hit her, she drew her lightsaber and cut it cleanly in two, then stopped the two halves with the Force and let them fall to the ground.
They're in for it now, Halsten thought. Andriya was, in his opinion, the sternest member of the Jedi Council, and made good use of it.
"Senators, we will not tolerate such abuse. We are not animals nor playthings sent here to amuse you. We are here to help mediate your conflict and reach a decision agreeable to both systems. I am aware that we are 'outlanders,' however, we come in peace, and apparently grave danger to ourselves, to help you put a rest to your feud. If you truly do not want peace, simply say so and we will be on our way. And if you do not begin negotiations soon, we will leave of our own accord, and any further wars will be your own affair, ruled unresolvable by the Empire."
The two senators were stunned into silence. Andriya turned off her lightsaber, which she'd forgotten was on, but was glad for the effect it had added. "And now, if you'll permit me, I'd like to use a hypercomm or holoprojector."
"Th-there's a ho-holoprojector in that's r-room," Nezwish stammered, pointing to a door behind Andriya.
"Thank you." She walked into the indicated room, found the holoprojector, and contacted the first person she could think of--Depa Billiba, another member the Jedi Council.
"Andriya? Is the treaty signed?"
"I wish it were--it's not even drafted yet."
"What has happened?"
"Nothing. That's the problem. The only thing the senators seem willing to do it throw things at us."
Andriya nodded grimly. "It doesn't look like were going to make any progress. They don't want peace and they're not ready to compromise."
"Then why would they ask for Jedi?"
"Target practice?" she guessed.
"I trust they have not hurt any of you."
"No, not at all. They didn't throw anything at me until just a moment ago."
"You gave one of your infamous lectures, did you not?" A smile played across her lips.
"Indeed I did. Can I have some assistance here?"
The smile faded. "I am afraid not."
"I'm sure the Council members are busy, but any other Jedi?"
Depa shook her head. "The Emperor has detained all outgoing traffic."
"Why?" Andriya exclaimed in surprise.
"We have been told there was a breach in a prison's security. It will be several more days before all the escaped prisoners are captured. Then, I believe, they will all be transported to other prisons and air traffic will re-open."
"Is incoming air traffic allowed?"
"By all means. It is regulated as usual."
"Hm." Andriya paused. "I know of one Jedi and his Padawan that are here. What other Jedi are on Mirnka right now?"
Depa turned her head and addressed someone else in the room, asking who ever it was to check the Jedi records. They both waited in silence for the response. "Is Obi-Wan Kenobi the Jedi you referenced?"
Andriya nodded. "Don't tell me that he's--" She stopped short.
It was Depa's turn to nod. "He and his Padawan are the only Jedi currently living on Mirnka."
"It doesn't say."
Andriya sighed. That was going to make it difficult. Myndex would make it even more difficult. "Can you transmit their records to me?"
"I shall try to transmit them. I do not believe that the effort would fail."
"Please transmit them, then. Oh, and could you include anything that looks pertinent--old student records and the like?"
"Oh, and a holo of each, please. I may have to ask around."
"Static or moving?"
"Static. Thank you so much, Depa."
"I wish I could help you more."
"Is there anyway you could contact any of the Jedi off Coruscant?"
Depa shook her head. "We are not allowed outgoing messages, either. No matter where it originates from."
"Emperor Palpatine can't be serious."
"He is all too serious."
Andriya shook her head in disbelief. "May the Force be with you. It seems like you'll need it more than I do."
"May the Force be with you." The holo transmission ended just before something hit Andriya--there weren't any prisons on Coruscant. "Why is traffic really stopped?" she whispered to herself as she waited for the files to arrive.
Myndex walked in. "What's wrong, Andi?"
"We're it--there's no help for us from Coruscant."
"A 'prison break' on Coruscant--all outgoing traffic is detained. No messages out, either."
"There aren't any prisons on Coruscant."
"I know." They looked at one another grimly.
"What about Jedi on the planet?"
"Just the one we know."
"Yeah!" Myndex cheered softly. "You will get to see him!"
"Maybe," Andriya said.
"What is it?" he asked, pointing to records transmitted.
"Just a few records from Coruscant." Andriya wondered if Depa had included a few newsholos about the situation on Coruscant. Depa was a close friend, and she would probably try to satisfy Andriya's curiosity. "I'm going to go look these over," she said as she copied the flies to a datacard. "You keep an eye on the children, okay?"
"I'll watch the senators."
Andriya smiled slightly and left for her room in the Conference Center.
"The Mirnka Superior star system is home to two inhabitable worlds--Mirnka and Ishka Minor. The star the system centers around, Mirnka Superior, is a class six star. It emits radiation that may damage the human eye. The radiation is so strong on Mirnka that humans are advised to wear visors at all times when outside. However, the radiation is not harmful to human skin on either planet." The encyclopedia entry ended there. It was the last pertinent record. Andriya had already skimmed Obi-Wan's and Anakin's records. All that remained was making the holocubes and viewing the two newsholos Depa had included. She switched from using a datapad to a holoproj for the last two tasks. The holocubes didn't take very long to make.
The newsholos were suspiciously vague. They did not mention the fact that there were no prisons on Coruscant--none that the public were told of, anyway. They also did not post descriptions or names for any of the missing convicts. It was clear that the Emperor really had some ulterior motive in stopping traffic.
Andriya made sure she had her visor, a few credit chips and the holocubes. "Poor Myndex," she sighed. "He'll probably think he's failed Master Yoda and me." She laughed to herself. "If only he knew that he's facing that 'great danger' now." She put the visor over her eyes and left the Convention Center.
For a few seconds, Andriya couldn't see anything--the glare shocked her eyes so. But her eyes adjusted and she began to ask passers by if they'd ever seen the men in the holos.
A man stood across the avenue, watching her ask several people. The man crossed the street and addressed Andriya.
"Miss, you'll never find anyone like this."
She didn't like his rude tone, but she needed the help. "Maybe you can help--have you seen either of these men?"
He barely glanced at the holos. "No. You have to ask the children. Or use their names. You have to prove you're not a bounty hunter to an adult."
"A bounty hunter!" she exclaimed. "Well, what if I were a bounty hunter?"
"How do you know that?"
"You're a Jedi."
"I'm glad someone around here knows that."
"No adult will trust you--do you know their names?"
"Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker."
"Yes or no will do. And do you know what they do for a living?"
"I know what they do; I'm not sure how they make a living," she joked.
The man didn't laugh. "Ask the kids. You know too much about them for the adults to trust you."
"Thank you," she said as he turned away.
"You're welcome. I hope you find them."
Andriya looked around for children. She saw a group of about eight kids outside of a store and hurried over to them. "Hey, kids, come here!"
The kids left their toys on the ground and crowded around her.
"I need your help."
"We can help!" they cried, but not in unison.
Andriya held out the holocubes. "Have you seen these men?"
The children took the holos and examined them in silence. Andriya had an idea.
"They should have one of these," she said, holding her lightsaber handle high above the children's heads and igniting it.
The children clamored with recognition as Andriya turned it off and put it away. Andriya knew the children never should have seen the lightsaber--it was not to be used with that many people around and even in small groups, it should only be a last resort and a defense. I'll have to talk to them about this, she resolved as the children scrambled to collect their toys. They returned the holocubes to Andriya before running off in search of Obi-Wan and Anakin. Andriya hoped she knew what she was doing--and she hoped that man knew what he was doing and she hoped these children knew what they were doing. She hoped Myndex and Halsten knew what they were doing. And while she was at it, she wondered if the senators even knew what they were doing.
The class six star that gave life to the planet was well on its way to the horizon when Andriya, still following the same eight children, sensed Obi-Wan. They would still have a way to travel before getting there, but she knew they were going in the right direction.
Mirnka Superior had just dipped below the horizon when their party crested a dune and came within sight of the house. There wasn't much to say about it--that was how a Jedi was supposed to live, anyway.
"Okay, kids, I can make it from here," she said. Obi-Wan stepped out of the front door and waved to her. As Andriya waved back, the children, who had not left when she dismissed them, suddenly flung themselves at her, grabbing her legs, her clothes, or anything else they could reach. Sighing in resignation, Andriya began to mete out three credit chips to each child. It wouldn't buy them anything, but they didn't care. Satisfied with their reward, the children dispersed, leaving Andriya and Obi-Wan alone.
Andriya was at a loss. She didn't know precisely how to greet Obi-Wan. She hadn't seen him in two years, and even then, that was the first time she'd met him. While she was attracted to him, she didn't know exactly how he felt about her. She was pretty sure he'd attempted to present her with some flowers, but she hadn't realized it at the time. Pretty stupid, she thought, referring to herself.
Obi-Wan bowed. "Hi," he called as he straightened.
"Hello." Andriya finally approached.
"May I ask a favor of you?"
"Anything," she said, perhaps a little too quickly.
"I'd like to use you in a test for my Padawan. I know it's not standard, but he's not a standard Padawan."
"You're not a standard master," she said, surprising herself. "I'll be happy to help. What do you have in mind?"
"Just don't tell him who you are."
"No, your job."
"Oh," Andriya said, fully understanding his intent. "I wish him luck."
"Anakin, this is Andriya Delvee. Andriya, this is Anakin Skywalker, my Padawan."
"Hello," Anakin said, offering his hand. Andriya shook it a smiled slightly. She realized she didn't smile as much as she used to.
Anakin turned back to the circuitry he'd been working on as Andriya sat in a chair.
"Master, where are the transparisteel stabilizers?"
"You know they're in there," Obi-Wan said, clearly puzzled that he'd asked.
"I forgot," Anakin shrugged, standing and heading toward the indicated storage room.
"You can't get back into town tonight," Obi-Wan said.
"You can stay here."
"I think I know why you're here."
Obi-Wan nodded. He left the room and returned with a thick volume, titled Advanced Lightsaber Techniques for Students, and handed it to Andriya.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to take it."
"A library book?" she asked.
"I was hoping you could intervene on my behalf--perhaps talk the late fines down a little."
"I don't know about that."
"Master!" Anakin called from the storage room. "I can't find those stabilizers!"
"Excuse me," Obi-Wan said as he walked into the room. He immediately went to and picked up a small box of transparisteel stabilizers. "Here they are," he said as he turned around.
Anakin had shut the door and was leaning against it. "So that's the girl, huh?"
Obi-Wan attempted to look confused. "What girl?"
"Two years ago, Coruscant. Well, I was on Coruscant--you ran off with her."
"Oh. Yes, that's her."
"She is cute."
"First of all, you're not available."
"That doesn't mean I can't look."
"She's out of your league."
"I'd say that of you first."
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes and handed Anakin the box. He passed a hand through his hair, exasperated with his Padawan. He didn't have the patience Qui-Gon had always shown with him. Almost always.
"Oh, and by the way," Anakin added, "grey doesn't make you look distinguished."
"By the way," Obi-Wan countered, "you'll have to sleep on the floor tonight."
"What, aren't you and Andriya going to sleep together?"
"No!" he exclaimed in reproach. "You watch yourself." As soon as I remember how to punish him. . . . The threat was empty and ineffective because he probably would never remember how to punish Anakin. Obi-Wan hit the button and the door slid open, ending the conversation.
"Problems?" Andriya asked.
"No, no problem," Anakin replied, dropping the stabilizers on the table.
"Why do you ask?" Obi-Wan finished for him, tossing a microfuser onto the table in front of Anakin with unnecessary clatter.
"No reason," she said, slamming the book on the table.
"Why did you do that?" Anakin asked.
"Well . . . everyone else was doing it. . . . I was just caught up in the moment," she mumbled lamely, then laughed.
"So you're the one that Obi-Wan had a little fling with a few years ago?" Anakin said.
Andriya raised her eyebrows. "That's an interesting term for a Jedi mission." She looked to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan nodded. It was fine that she'd mentioned the Jedi. It was obvious she was a Jedi. Anakin occupied himself with the circuit he was working on, feeling left out at not being raised a Jedi. If he only knew how much in common we really have, Andriya thought.
"I'm sure they didn't really send you out here to collect truant books."
"No," she said, turning serious. "We're here to try and negotiate a peace treaty between Mirnka and Paqua."
"Good luck," Obi-Wan said sarcastically.
"It's a little late for that. All the senators have done is throw things at us."
"When are reinforcements coming?"
"Are you free tomorrow?"
"What about Coruscant?"
"The Emperor has stopped all outgoing traffic and transmissions sometime after we left."
"You must be joking."
Andriya shook her head. "He claims that there was a massive escape from a prison on Coruscant and they're still recapturing the escapees."
"But . . . there aren't any prisons on Coruscant."
"Not any that the public have been informed of. There could still be some, or it's simply not the truth. Either way, Palpatine has been caught in a lie."
"And to think we. . . ." Obi-Wan's voice trailed off.
"Helped to get him elected Chancellor," Anakin finished. "If only we'd known."
"We'd let the Trade Federation remain in control?" Obi-Wan asked. "Not that his election had anything to do with the victory on Naboo." Only with difficulty could Obi-Wan refer to the events on Naboo just after meeting Anakin a victory--it dredged up memories of the past that were, all too often, very painful.
"Personally, I don't know him very well, but I don't trust him even when he's in my sight."
"It's nice to know the Jedi hold the government in such high regard," Obi-Wan said sarcastically.
"Master, could you get me those nefolaurithalic resistors?" Anakin interrupted.
"Why don't you get them?"
"Because you put them away two days ago and I haven't seen them since."
"Fine," Obi-Wan said, rising from the table.
"So," Anakin said once Obi-Wan was gone, "you were involved with Obi-Wan?"
"I'm not sure what you'd call involved."
"You do know he's much older than you."
"Yes, I know. Why would you care?"
"Oh, no reason."
"I hear you've got 'friends' in high places."
"Not here," he replied.
"What are you implying?"
"Oh, nothing, nothing."
Andriya didn't continue, but she was thinking. My brother can take him. And, if I'm not mistaken, he's failed his test.
Obi-Wan finally returned with two resistors. "Ani, I must say I'm disappointed."
Andriya stood as Obi-Wan continued. "May I introduce Jedi Master Andriya Delvee, member of the Jedi Council for over two years."
Anakin's eyes widened. He scrambled to his feet and bowed quickly. "I am so sorry, Master Andriya. Please forgive me, I . . . I. . . ."
"I'm sorry you didn't pass. I hope you've learned."
"I have--I'm not the only one with 'friends' in high places."
"Interesting moral," Obi-Wan remarked.
"I think I was supposed to learn that you can't judge a book by looking at its cover."
Andriya looked down at Advanced Lightsaber Techniques for Students. "I don't know about that."
"Ani, go ahead and pack up."
"Oh, you just want to be alone with her."
"Obey your master, Padawan," Andriya instructed firmly.
Trying not to grumble vocally, Anakin gathered up the circuitry including the unused transparisteel stabilizers and nefolaurithalic resistors and carried them into the storage room.
"So what do you really think is happening on Coruscant?" Obi-Wan said when Anakin left.
"I have no idea. All I have are a couple newsholos Depa Billiba was able to get out to me."
"How did she do that?"
"I contacted her and she transmitted a group of files."
"What did she send with the newsholos?"
"Your records. Anakin's."
"Why did you come out here alone?"
"I didn't. Myndex and Halsten are with me."
"I meant other councilors."
"Oh. They said I needed the experience. I haven't done much in the way of solo missions."
"I could've stayed if you were just going to talk business," Anakin said as he returned.
"Assuming we wanted you here," Andriya smirked.
"That was harsh, Councilor."
She smiled, but it didn't take the edge off her insult.
The next morning, Andriya was the first one awake. She sat up in the bed--which she remembered was Obi-Wan's--and looked around. Another bed on the other side of the room held the still-sleeping Jedi Knight. His Padawan was stretched out on the floor.
Turning her back to the eerily silent bedroom, Andriya faced the wall to redo her hair.
"Morning," Obi-Wan said as she was finishing.
Andriya jumped slightly. She secured the last braid in her hair and turned around. "Morning," she whispered.
Obi-Wan was still laying on the other bed, his hands behind his head. "It's nice to see you again," he stated.
Andriya smiled slightly. "It's good to see you, too." She knew Obi-Wan was just being friendly. In her mind, there was no possibility that he was attracted to her--Obi-Wan was ten years older than her, and probably had much better things to do and people to be with than someone her age. Not that she didn't hope--a futile hope. But she couldn't get rid of it--she'd tried drowning it in reason and asphyxiating it with fact, but it was far too much like the Jedi it had taken root in.
"Excuse me," someone interrupted.
Obi-Wan and Andriya looked at the still-sleeping Anakin in surprise, partially because he was asleep and partially because it didn't sound like Anakin at all.
"Over here," said the man walking through the door to the main room.
"What are you doing here?" Andriya and Obi-Wan said in unison, a little louder than they meant to.
"Pardon me, but I'm in the next scene, and I was hoping you could hurry this one up a little bit. I'm a busy tomorrow in another story, so if you don't get to my scene in a page or two, I don't know if I'll be able to be in the story."
Andriya and Obi-Wan gaped at him. "We'll do what we can," Andriya said.
"Thank you. See you later."
The two Jedi nodded slowly as the man left the room. They looked at one another, looked at the door, and back at one another. Finally, they decided not to say anything. Obi-Wan got up and walked into the main room.
"Myndex Delvee!" Obi-Wan began to reprimand her brother.
"I'm fine," Andriya cut him off as she sat up. "It's okay, he has Little Brothers' License." She looked up at her younger brother, grinning as evilly as she knew how. "Besides, he'll get his."
Myndex laughed as he helped Andriya to her feet.
"Or maybe I was getting mine," she murmured.
"Help!" came a plaintive cry from inside the Convention Center.
"Halsten," Myndex and Andriya breathed with concern, rushing into the center. Obi-Wan, Enz'gee and Anakin followed.
They found a very alarming scene playing out in the main room. Apparently, in Andriya's absence, the senators had stopped tormenting--the Jedi, at least. Halsten was desperately trying to keep the two senators from attacking one another. After overcoming their initial shock, Andriya, Myndex and Obi-Wan separated the senators and unceremoniously forced them into chairs at opposite ends of the room.
"Okay, Enz'gee, do your stuff."
As Enz'gee proceeded cajole and persuade the senators, they slowly began to give in.
"Excuse me," interrupted a gold protocol droid. "There is an incoming hologram for Jedi Master Andriya Delvee."
"Who is it?"
"The caller is identified as a member of Jedi Council. The message carries the highest priority and an emergency warning."
Andriya rushed into the comm room. Everyone else soon ran after.
"Depa? They've reopened communications!"
"Yes, but I have no good news for you. The escapees were not prisoners but members of a clone army. They have been collected and transported to Riliss to take control of the planet, as well as at least four others."
"Who is in charge of the army? Where are the Emperor's troops?"
"He currently has no authority to muster troops. It is not known who controls the army. Riliss can offer no defense. Master Yoda and Master Mace have offered the assistance of every available Jedi. We do not know about the other four threatened planets."
"What does this mean?"
"The worst, I fear, is full-scale, galactic war."
"Do you want me back there?"
"As soon as possible."
"I'm coming. Within the hour." Andriya ended the transmission. She was surprised to find, when she turned around, everyone else in the room with her.
"I don't know that you were supposed to hear that."
"We're coming with you," Obi-Wan told her.
"They won't let you go to war with a Padawan tied to you."
"Then test him. In times of crises, you must make exceptions."
"We'll see. I think they'll lower standards considerably."
Anakin frowned at her. "What do you mean, 'considerably'?"
"You have not yet developed the mind of a Jedi. That takes time."
Obi-Wan wanted to step in and ask if Andriya had developed the mind of a Jedi at nine, but he held his tongue.
"If you plan on coming with your master," Andriya continued, "you'd better go pack. I promised to leave within the hour."
Anakin suddenly understood that by taking him to Coruscant to be tested, Andriya could be risking a lot. But it was war. There was really no time for arguing. He felt ashamed he'd debated it in the first place.
"We'll be back in an hour," Obi-Wan said as he and Anakin headed out.
"Meet us at Docking Bay 102--the Convention Center Bay."
"Excuse me, Miss . . . ?" ventured Nezwish.
"Senator Junst and I have decided that we'll set aside our differences for the durations of these . . . clone wars."
"No," Halsten suddenly spoke up. Andriya and Myndex were surprised--Halsten had never been conversational by any stretch.
"No?" Junst questioned.
"You have to declare peace for . . ." Halsten paused, realizing all eyes had focused on him. His cheeks began to redden.
Finish what you started, Andriya silently urged him.
The two senators looked at one another. Without a word, they turned and stalked into the main room.
"Draw it up," Nezwish ordered, pointing to Enz'gee.
"Be the witness," Junst instructed Halsten.
In minutes, the treaty was written, signed, and a formal holograph was taken of Ruberk Nezwish, Turmast Junst, Gorch Dukinza and Halsten Tuurku.
"Andriya," Halsten began once the two systems were no longer at war, "I want to stay here. They need me."
"You mean you don't need war," she stated. "Stay. You will be of little use anywhere else."
Halsten wasn't sure whether to slink off or thank her, so he did neither. Andriya left the room without bidding him good-bye. It was just as well--she had to pack, and Halsten had always thought her unfriendly, if not hostile and occasionally even discourteous. He made a mental note to inform Obi-Wan of that fact if he got a moment alone with him when he returned. Judging by the way he looked at Andriya, it was something Obi-Wan should know.
Coruscant Main Office | Tatooine Branch Office | The Mirnka/Paqua Problem: Part Two