"Anakin," Andriya whispered, kneeling next to the young man on the floor.
"What?" he moaned, refusing to open his eyes.
"Not yet, Master," he begged.
Andriya shook him slightly roughly. "I’m not your master."
His eyes flew open. "Master Andriya," he sighed in relief.
"Yes. Get up," she said as she stood. "We have an appointment to keep." Andriya gently nudged his heel with the toe of her boot as she started out of the room. She stopped when she sensed the sinking feeling that overtook Anakin as he woke all the way up. "What’s wrong?"
"Nothing," he attempted to brush her concern away.
"Fear is never ‘nothing.’"
Anakin pursed his lips. "I lost my visor," he grudgingly admitted.
"Have you looked around?"
"Of course I have. I can’t find it anywhere. My master’s gonna kill me," he groaned to himself.
"Do not exaggerate, Skywalker. Never treat death lightly. Furthermore, it isn't 'death,' it's being at one with the Force."
Anakin was slightly annoyed. "Fine. My master won’t be happy."
"What’s this?" Andriya asked, picking up a darkened circuit piece.
"It’s a miniconductor. A busted miniconductor."
"Do you need it?"
Anakin shook his head. "You can’t fix it, and they’re cheap."
"Get up, get your boots on."
Anakin did as she said without seeing any purpose in her request. Andriya tossed the miniconductor on the floor at his feet.
"What’s going on?" he asked.
Andriya handed him her visor. "I’m not going to take all the blame for this. Step on the miniconductor."
Again, Anakin blindly followed her instructions.
"Anakin!" Andriya exclaimed in reproach. "Be more care--my visor!"
Nodding with sudden enlightenment, Anakin moved his foot aside as Andriya stopped to gather the crushed fragments of the miniconductor.
"Oh, oops. I’m sorry!"
Andriya threw the broken pieces into an empty box and tossed the box under Anakin’s bed. They waited for a few seconds before walking into the main room, Andriya giving Anakin a pointed look and Anakin striving to look sheepish and penitent.
"What happened?" Obi-Wan asked.
"I stepped on her visor," Anakin barely murmured.
"Well, let’s see what can be done with it."
Anakin looked to Andriya. "It was beyond repair," she supplied.
But not reproach, Obi-Wan thought.
"I heard that," Andriya said. Anakin looked confused--he hadn’t read his master’s thoughts. Which was a good thing, because that would be disrespectful, and Obi-Wan didn’t like it.
While Anakin was still trying to decipher the meaning of her statement, Andriya replied to Obi-Wan’s thought through the Force. I’m just trying to help your Padawan. I’ll explain later.
"Hadn’t we better get started?" Andriya said aloud. "We have a big day ahead of us--making peace, signing treaties, and all sorts of other fun stuff."
Obi-Wan and Anakin agreed, and they were soon en route to Mirnka City with Andriya shielding her eyes from the harsh sunlight with her arm.
After a long, dark period of time for Andriya, they arrived in Mirnka City. Obi-Wan led Andriya and Anakin into a small shop, and Andriya was finally able to look around again, thanks to the transparifilter windows.
"Anakin, you go on ahead to the Convention Center," she instructed.
"Ask for Myndex Delvee. He should--"
"You’re married?!" he exclaimed, glancing at his master with a mixture of confusion, reproach and pride.
"There are other reasons why people share the last name."
Anakin thought about it. "Is he your father?"
"He’s my brother. And he’ll let you in."
Anakin set his jaw. "I’m not leaving you two alone together."
Andriya chose to ignore the implications of his reply, dismissing them to misguided jealousy. "Ani, aren’t you just dying to have a friend your age who knows almost everything about the Jedi?"
He just looked at her, not willing to admit to anything.
"Come on. I know you are."
"Well . . . I guess," he reluctantly conceded.
"Perfect. Myndex is twenty and he was raised a Jedi--he’s already a full Knight. And, best of all, he’s probably bored out of his skull right now."
The Padawan was clearly torn. He didn’t want to miss anything that his master and the councilor might do, but he was bored and lonely and wanted a friend. Finally, the loneliness won out over the curiosity, and Anakin left the other two Jedi alone.
Obi-Wan turned to the vacant counter of the store. "Enz’gee!" he called. A man emerged from a back room and looked around.
Andriya recognized him immediately--he was the man who’d somehow entered Obi-Wan’s house that morning, and the man who’d instructed her on how to find Obi-Wan the day before.
"Ben!" he exclaimed, coming out from behind the counter and offering his hand to Obi-Wan.
"Ben?" Andriya said, giving Obi-Wan a questioning look.
"I’ll explain later. Enz’gee, this is Andriya Delvee. Andriya, this is Gorch Dukinza."
"You can call me Enz’gee," he offered as he shook her hand. "What brings you in here today?"
"We need a visor for her," Obi-Wan replied. "And. . . ." He allowed his voice to trail off. Andriya could somehow tell that this was the beginning of some sort of ritual or ceremony for the two friends.
"Well. . . ."
"Oh, come on, Ben, you know you can trust me."
"It’s not that. . . ."
"What ever it is, I’ll do it. You name it."
"I don’t know. . . ."
"And I’ll throw in the visor for free."
"We need your help," Obi-Wan finally admitted. "Andriya is here to negotiate a peace treaty between Paqua and Mirnka."
"Good luck," Enz’gee said sarcastically.
"It will take more than luck," Obi-Wan continued. "It requires skill. Your skill."
"Skill?" Enz’gee backed away a little. "What skill?"
"You know what skill. Really," he said, dropping the playful attitude he’d used, "we can’t do it alone."
"I guess I can leave the shop alone for today."
Enz’gee headed over to the counter and returned with a visor. "Let’s go."
"Wait just a minute," Obi-Wan said. "How’d you get into my house this morning?"
"What are you talking about?" Enz’gee replied, looking around nervously. "We’ll discuss it on break," he added, trying not to move his teeth or his lips as he spoke.
He laughed nervously. "Let’s get going," he said, almost pushing the two Jedi toward the door.
They were mere steps from the Convention Center entrance when they stopped again. For Andriya, it wasn’t by choice--Obi-Wan clamped a hand on her shoulder. Before she could ask what was wrong, Anakin pounced from behind a pillar and fell flat on his face.
"What are you doing?" Obi-Wan and Andriya demanded in unison. Andriya backed off, seeing that it wasn’t really her place to reprimand the Padawan.
Within seconds, she, too, was in a bind. Not quite as badly as Anakin, but her captivity was physical.
"Myndi," she said evenly, "let go of me."
"Huh uh," her brother replied. "I caught you fair and square."
Suddenly interested, the other three men in their group turned their attention to the siblings.
"Caught me? Myndi, my feet are still on the ground."
"That’s only because I can’t pick you up--you’re too heavy. Andi, I didn’t want to tell you this, but you need to go on a diet."
"I’m not too heavy, you’re too weak."
"I am not and I’ll prove it." Pretending to strain, Myndex lifted his sister. Almost as soon as her feet left the ground, he dropped her.
"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.