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Mission to Romin

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"Look ... 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 ... Senate procedure always is.
"
―Jedi Master Siri Tachi and Svivreni Senate aide Tyro Caladian.[src]

The Mission to Romin took place in 24 BBY.

PreludeEdit

"But the Senate cannot shield a criminal like Zan Arbor!"
"The Senate looks the other way when it comes to Romin. The Romin Senator wields great influence. He is a favorite of Sano Sauro—who as you well know is the leader of a large voting bloc ... If you land on Romin secretly, you will be in violation of Senate laws. And I assure you, the Senator from Romin will not hesitate to prosecute even a Jedi ... I'm afraid this is typical of the Senate these days. I am so sorry, my good friend Obi-Wan, that I cannot help you.
"
―Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Tyro Caladian.[src]

Anakin Skywalker, at seventeen years old, seemed more of a man now than a boy. Well on his way to Jedi Knighthood, he had, in the mind of his Master, experienced much growth in the six months since galactic criminal Jenna Zan Arbor's escape from Vanqor.[1] Anakin was now able to mask the turbulence within him when frustration and anger and petty emotions threatened to rise and overflow, and Obi-Wan Kenobi was impressed with his Padawan's progress. Skywalker, with his calm, composed fasçade, at least, in such situations, looked to be completely, perfectly in control. So it was now with Anakin, when he stood with Kenobi, Siri Tachi and her Padawan, Ferus Olin, in Meeting Room A3000291 of the Galactic Senate on Coruscant, to hear more bureaucratic nonsense from their friend and Senate aide Tyro Caladian: the Senate had refused the Jedi admittance to Romin, a small Mid-Rim planet ruled by a ruthless dictator, Roy Teda—one who had made himself rich by offering his world as a refuge to most-wanted criminals willing to pay a hefty bribe. The patience and composure of all four Jedi was at this moment severely tested.

Having, between and during subsequent Jedi missions, traced rumors and found additional clues in tracking Zan Arbor, the Master-Padawan team knew the mad scientist's funds were near depletion—both her large fortune that the Senate had confiscated and dispersed among the many planets she had wronged and anything that remained from what the Vanqors had paid her. But because the Jedi knew Zan Arbor liked to live, not only well, but extravagantly, this weakness for fine things became her undoing when Anakin discovered her purchase of a limited-production Luxe Flightwing cruiser, beautiful and rare. Many had remembered it—fuelers, repair personnel, customs officials, pilots—and Zan Arbor's acquisition of the luxury star cruiser, while typical of her arrogance and greed, proved unwise, for the information trail it left behind led to Romin, where she now hid behind Teda's protective walls and believed herself safe.

To accompany Kenobi and Skywalker in their arrest of the elusive scientist were fellow Jedi Tachi and Olin. Kenobi had requested their help because they, too, had been involved with the search for Zan Arbor in the past,[1] and Tachi had pledged her services to Obi-Wan in the criminal's final capture. But now the Senate had denied them entrance to Romin to achieve this long-sought goal. For while the Senate was committed to capturing Zan Arbor, and Teda was, without question, in violation of many Republic laws (including imprisonment and execution without trial, torture to extract information, control of all global communications, raiding of the planetary treasury), the Senate yet recognized him—incredulously, to the Jedi and to Caladian—as a "duly elected ruler" (despite Teda having rigged the elections) and was adamant to recognize Romin's sovereignty and respect its law. That law stipulated barring entrance to all bounty hunters, which the Senate apparently considered the Jedi, in this case, to be—again, to the utter consternation of Kenobi and his gathered team. For none, according to Romin law, were permitted to arrest or transport a galactic criminal offworld. It was this promised relocation and asylum for criminals that insured Teda his continued personal prosperity; he was therefore committed to forcibly expelling or making to 'disappear' any and all bounty hunters found on the planet by his security police. All of this Caladian reported to them.

Anakin, who felt no compunction about bending the rules to go to Romin without Senate approval, clashed with his longtime rival Ferus, who ever abided by those rules. Oddly, Olin's Master, Tachi, was more of Skywalker's temperament—always geared for action, unafraid to boldly speak her mind and fit the rules to the need at hand, much like Anakin. The bright indignation in her blazing blue eyes as she questioned the Senate's rationale did not make the Svivreni aide, with his black plume of flowing hair, feel at ease. But while Caladian empathized with the Jedi frustration, he could not see a way through to reach their goal—unlike Kenobi, for whom a way was made clear. For Obi-Wan was ever mindful of his own Master's wisdom: There is always another way, Qui-Gon had often told him. Because the Senate was effectively shielding a notorious criminal (which was why Zan Arbor felt safe and that she could afford to be reckless), Obi-Wan felt fully justified in impersonating a notorious gang of thieves—the Slams—in order to gain entrance to Romin. The Slams, who'd recently escaped the Greylands Security Complex on Tentator, had been tracked down and re-committed to prison only hours before, according to Caladian. It had been Caladian himself, in fact, who, while bemoaning the galaxy's rising lawlessness and the state of its prisons, had sparked Kenobi's idea of criminal impersonation to get onworld.

Final shifts: poised for deceptionEdit

"What is it? You've got that look on your face."
"What look?"
"That look that says,
You're going to hate this idea, Siri, but I'm going to do it anyway."
"Relax. You're going to love it.
"
―Siri Tachi and Obi-Wan Kenobi.[src]
On Vanqor, at mission's end, Anakin had at last been able to name his nameless dread: that he feared his destiny, a fear felt in every waking moment it seemed; that often he wished he was not "the Chosen One"—it was a break-out confession that, in its audible enunciation, had oddly liberated him and drawn him closer to his Master. That freedom of release had remained for Anakin a phenomenon and a wonder, for he still didn't understand it. But the unburdening of his heart to Obi-Wan had truly made them Master and Padawan now—enabled them to achieve a classic step in the Master-Padawan relationship: The apprentice invites the Master, and it begins. It had taken time, but the trust was there—Anakin felt he could entrust his Master with the inner workings of his heart and mind, his deepest fears, his worst nightmares. That invitation of intimate sharing had shifted and deepened their relationship. It was indeed a new beginning for them, just as it had been for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in the middle of their journey together. The two now read one another beautifully, took their steps in classic sync—all of it, for Anakin, mysterious and wonderful.

His Master's inspired new plan which, whereas Siri remained dubious, Anakin was excited about, would allow them to extract Zan Arbor from Romin without violating any planetary laws or Senate regulations: simply by entering legally as criminals. They would assume the identities of the Slam gang, with Kenobi as con man Slam, Tachi as ID theft expert Valadon, Anakin as security expert Waldo, and Ferus as weapons and defense expert Ukiah. They needed somehow, as criminals, to lure Zan Arbor off-planet—something that would simply be, in Siri's sarcastic view, quoting legendary pilot Garen Muln, a "piece of sweetcake." They needed Caladian's help to secure for them not only false ID docs and background information, but also the Slam gang's confiscated ship, which, if it had indeed traveled about the Core, was surely a spaceworthy vessel. Obi-Wan also needed Tyro to make sure that the authorities agreed to keep the Slam gang's capture a secret until the Jedi mission was completed. The entire scheme had to be cleared by the presiding officer of the Jedi High Council, Master Mace Windu. But Kenobi confided in Windu's own conviction of the critical imperative of Zan Arbor's capture for the safety of the galaxy.

Anakin, in listening to Obi-Wan and Siri discuss the specifics of the plan, again felt liberated. Suddenly gone was the frustration of, having located Zan Arbor, not being able to apprehend her. Now they were free to do so. But Anakin still felt a chill in contemplating the actual moment of taking her into custody, for he remembered her intense focus on him and his special abilities as she held him ensnared within a fabricated peace in the Zone of Self-Containment on Vanqor. For the first time in his life he'd achieved a seeming true serenity while in "the Zone," but the experience had left him feeling hollow, plagued yet with the guilt and fear that he'd ever sought to escape from. But some good, also, had risen from the experience: for it left Anakin feeling vulnerable and afraid—enough to lean on his Master and discover that Obi-Wan indeed cared deeply for him. Anakin thus carried away a marvelous gift from that uncertain time.

Ferus, on the other hand, looked dubious, troubled. When Siri queried what was on his mind, Ferus said he felt that their intended foray was not appropriate for the Jedi to make. They were not tricksters. Venturing forth as impostors was a far cry from the ambassadors of peace and justice that the Jedi claimed to be. Squelching the urge to roll his eyes, Anakin couldn't help admire the patience and understanding of both Jedi Masters in wanting to help Ferus the rulekeeper to understand that the galaxy was complex, in that the Jedi must often take risks and embrace unconventional methods to accomplish critical ends for the greater good. Siri mentioned her undercover assignment to infiltrate the crimelord Krayn's vast pirating and slavery operation, in which she had to appear, to friend and foe alike, to actually have abandoned the Jedi Order and turned to the dark side.[2] Every moment of that deception, wherein she was required both to lie and to live a lie, went against her very core and took its toll. But was she glad she did it? Yes. For the Jedi were able to bring down a vicious pirate and liberate hundreds of slaves.

Obi-Wan, too, recalled his past entanglement with the mad scientist they were now pursuing.[3][4][5] A great enemy of the Jedi, Zan Arbor imprisoned Qui-Gon and drained his life, almost killing him, in order to study the Force, when Kenobi was a young Padawan.[4] She was responsible for the deaths of multitudes of beings and was seeking again now to subdue entire populations with her new drug, the Zone of Self-Containment. Because the lives of perhaps millions were at stake, she had to be stopped—even if that meant forsaking their Jedi dignity for a few days. Anakin knew that Ferus' dignity was what was most tender in Ferus' soul. His face flushed at Kenobi's clear but gentle rebuke, conceding to the greater wisdom of his Masters. Yet all could sense a residual unease within him. Turning again to the pressing need at hand, if all went well, they could, after briefing Windu, embark for Romin that night. Anakin noted that somehow the tables had shifted between him and his rival: for once, Ferus appeared to be the outsider, not him.

The missionEdit

Journey to RominEdit

"Tyro said that Slam is well known as a dandy. You have to wear it ... Now you need some boots to match ... Here."
"No..."
"Oh, for galaxy's sake, don't be such a stick-in-the-swamp ... You're impersonating a criminal. You have to dress like him. Don't you want to catch Zan Arbor?"
"I really hate this ... I look like a full-feathered idiot."
"I think you look ... incredible."
"So glad to amuse.
"
―Siri Tachi hands an ornate purple veda-cloth cloak with bright green embroidery to Obi-Wan Kenobi, who questions the wardrobe taste of criminal Roper Slam.[src]

Tyro Caladian, a true friend and an invaluable contact for the Jedi in the Senate, had been able to accomplish all that Obi-Wan Kenobi had asked of him. Meeting with him and his apprentice in one of the Jedi Temple's small meeting rooms, Tyro gave them the news. Though still in negotiations with the Central Posting Service to secure an indefinite Stop Comm order to suppress the announcement of the Slam gang's arrest to law enforcement agencies and the HoloNet news service, Caladian was successful in requisitioning the criminals' ship. Tyro had secured a waiver from the Senate Security Committee to meet with the Overseer of Prison Worlds, who then issued a release order to the Senate's Confiscation Authority to allow the Jedi to commandeer the Slams' ship—a Ubrikkian star yacht—which, after their Caladian-supplied documents had been accepted, they navigated out of the Greylands Confiscation Station hangar. Within hours, the four Jedi were streaking across the stars toward Romin, one standard day away.

Mace Windu had given them his blessing, understanding the urgent need, though, like Olin, he was not happy about the rule-bending. All of the Slams' data records, ID text docs, and wardrobes were onboard the light cruiser. It seemed to amuse Tyro to be able to tell Obi-Wan that he understood Slam to be somewhat of a "dandy." Finally, in the manner of the Svivreni, with raised palm to palm and fingers spread, Caladian had bid Kenobi a fond farewell, a gesture made only with those closest to them: "The journey begins, so go." Considering it bad luck, Tyro's people never said good-bye.

As they commenced the flight to Romin, Siri found a detailed analysis of the Senate Relief Fund's accounting practices rolled into a small hidden compartment under the cockpit dash, and also a device to override iris scans, which suggested the Slams were planning to rob the Senate depository—a big job even for them, Kenobi observed. Tachi reminded them of the criminal gossip network and their need to be apprised of the latest criminal tech scams, as they needed to be the Slams. But it was upon discovering the gang's questionable wardrobes that the stark reality of their situation hit them head-on. Kenobi's attire was certainly tailored for a "dandy"—a purple veda-cloth cloak with an embroidered collar of thick, bright-green braiding, paired with red polished-leather boots. Tachi insisted he don the outfit, to both her and the Padawans' great amusement: unable to restrain themselves any longer, they pealed with laughter.

Obi-Wan, meanwhile, lost no time in tossing to Siri Valadon's tiny, rather revealing soft-blue septsilk garment, which, of course, Tachi promptly refused to put on. Kenobi then quoted back to her verbatim her words to him about the desire to ensnare Zan Arbor and what such a prize demanded. Appeasing her audience only nominally, she draped the flowing feminine article over her rough Jedi tunic and leggings—an uproarious spectacle. More conventional garments, dark tunics and trousers, were tossed to Anakin and Ferus. Skywalker, due to his recent run-in with Zan Arbor, was additionally given a headgear disguise (used to knit synth-flesh together after an injury) that Kenobi had acquired at the Temple med clinic: they would tell others, if asked, that Waldo was wounded in the prison escape. The mask fit over his forehead and covered half of Anakin's face, leaving only his mouth and chin uncovered, with tinted lenses for eyesight. Skywalker was grateful for a shield from what he remembered as being Zan Arbor's penetrating gaze, her desire to crack his Jedi essence and ensnare him again in the Zone of Self-Containment.[1] He never again wanted to find himself under its counterfeit influences and hoped the deranged 'doctor' would not recognize him. It was almost certain Zan Arbor would not recognize Kenobi, who had met her only briefly more than 18 years before.[5]

Obi-Wan's comlink signaled Tyro's last communication to them before arriving on Romin, set in holomode for all to see and hear: the mini-Svivreni announced that he had been able, unfortunately, to insure secrecy of the Slams' capture for three standard days only. It would have to be enough time to track down and extricate Zan Arbor from the planet.

Arrival on the tyrant-worldEdit

"Eliior has no crime, as you will see. We have peace and prosperity here. Citizens have plenty of work and plenty of leisure time. Our gardens are renowned and our goods are the finest in the galaxy..."
"You are lucky to live on such a world."
"We are lucky to have a leader such as Roy Teda. He has created the great perfection around us."
"What is that?"
"You mean the Cloudflower Wall. Some of our citizens prefer to live outside the city. There is beautiful countryside outside Eliior. The wall allows them to have the illusion that they live in wilderness. It is planted with cloudflower vines on the opposite side. Another great step of progression by Great Leader Teda! Truly, he is remarkable.
"
―Romin grand palace security officer Becka introduces Jedi Masters Siri Tachi and Obi-Wan Kenobi to Romin's capital city of Eliior.[src]
Soon arriving on the world run on bribes paid to Roy Teda, Anakin Skywalker guided the Slams' cruiser down on the sparsely populated Teda Landing Platform, situated high in the clouds above Romin's capital city of Eliior. Obi-Wan Kenobi watched in amusement as Siri Tachi was the first to athletically stride down the ramp: she wore now a lilac shimmersilk robe tied with a rose-colored sash embroidered in delicate gold thread. Over the sash she had insisted on wearing her battered utility belt (all the Jedi had concealed their lightsabers, except Siri, whose outfit was simply too revealing to conceal anything, so Obi-Wan carried hers). The contrasts were such that Kenobi seriously doubted whether Tachi could pull off Valadon's "trademark flirtatiousness," and so it was good the mission would be short.

Anakin was the first to notice Zan Arbor's elegant new ship in a nearby hangar. An ornately dressed security officer met them at ramp's end. Upon inspecting the ID docs of the new arrivals, he asked their purpose in coming to Romin, to which Kenobi disclosed their desire to relocate and requested a tour of the city as he passed over a bundle of credits. With a practiced finesse the officer slipped them into his pocket and retired to a console to enter their ID data and to place a communication. Discovering them to be escaped criminals, of course, the undercover Jedi were promptly granted entrance to Romin. The officer's name was Becka, and he came back to report that, due to their status as important guests, "Great Leader Teda" himself wished to extend a personal welcome to the Slams at his grand palace, to which Becka would escort them after a brief city tour.

After taking a large turbolift down to the planet's surface, they boarded a six-seat airspeeder and glided out onto a wide boulevard with little traffic. Expounding the virtues of their noble city and leader, Becka painted for them a utopia of bliss for all planetary citizens—both for those within the capital and outside its walls. The battered security wall that Kenobi suddenly noticed rising hundreds of meters from the ground buzzed with guard- and surveillance droids. Asking Becka what it was, the security officer gave another rose-colored response: it was the Cloudflower Wall for those citizens who "preferred" to live outside the city. In truth, Kenobi knew already from Tyro's briefing that Eliior was populated by the world's wealthy; its oppressed workers, who were required to have passes to enter the city, lived outside the city walls in concentric rings of misery—hovels that grew progressively worse, the greater their distance from the capital. Touring the commerce district, the exclusive shops filled with luxurious goods obviously lacked customers: few could be seen within or without. Next came the palatial residences, glimpsed only behind fortified walls. Made of stone and durasteel, the grand structures were framed by lush gardens and sparkling fountains. Their occupants never went anywhere except under heavy guard.

The boulevard ended at Teda's grand palace complex, lushly landscaped, which the Slams were ushered into at a security checkpoint. Becka dropped the new arrivals off at the durasteel doors of the main entrance and bid them a friendly farewell. Teda himself, clad in multicolored robes, promptly exited to extend a flowery, redundant greeting. Kenobi, shifting even more so into his 'Slam' mode, put on flamboyant airs as he introduced his companions. Cozying immediately up to the attractive 'Valadon,' stroking her arm with his finger and calling her "prettier than a cloudflower," Teda's uninvited intimacy drew from Siri a smile that "seemed fixed with a strong adhesive" to her face. Seemingly delighted with everything Tachi had to say, Teda offered her and her companions a small nearby villa, currently up for sale and unoccupied, in which to stay for their first days on Romin—unless, of course, they wished to buy it, which they also were perfectly welcome to do. Kenobi guessed that Romin's leader wanted to keep tabs on them; it was better, after all, that Teda thought he had the Slams under his thumb.

Teda, excusing himself due to what he claimed was a busy schedule, introduced the Slams to his 'charity deputy' Hansel, who in reality was Teda's bribe collector. In making his 'invitation' to contribute to a slew of Romin charities (including one for children and one for horticulture) in order to "fully extend the great steps of progression," the Jedi, of course, rightly guessed Hansel's true purpose. Quieting with a nudge Siri's sarcasm and insolence, which he knew would get them nowhere, Obi-Wan discreetly pulled from his robes a small bag stuffed with credits and handed it to Hansel, stating that he hoped it would help fill the needs of Romin's children. Hansel thanked them for their great generosity and offered them transport to their villa, but 'Slam' asked if they might instead stroll to their lodgings due to their long journey and need for exercise, to which the 'charity deputy' agreed, giving them directions.

Strolling then to the villa, Ferus Olin immediately expressed his disgust that the children of Romin would never see the fortune in credits they'd just paid to a crook. "Not to mention the plants," Anakin said wryly. Ferus reacted defensively, now that Anakin thought it a joke, but Skywalker tried to placate by pointing out that they all knew beforehand that it was the only way to remain on Romin, to which Olin curtly replied that while he didn't question their collective decision, he didn't have to like it, either. Obi-Wan thought about intervening when he heard their bickering, but then decided not to, thinking it best that Anakin and Ferus work out their mutual dislike on their own. Moreover, Kenobi sympathized with Anakin about Olin's nerve-wearing self-righteousness. Paying the bribe had been necessary, and it was useless to regret it.

With a day already gone because of travel, the Jedi had only two standard days left to complete their mission. They decided that they needed to immediately begin to reconnoiter Zan Arbor's house. But first, and before settling into their own villa for the night, they would do a quick survey of its security. As they approached Zan Arbor's residence, they slowed down a bit to see without looking—a Jedi technique by which, while appearing to be low-profile and casual, they expertly "ticked off" every security measure they perceived a target-facility to have. Which, in Zan Arbor's case, was "the usual and then some"—security towers, armed windows and doors, infrared night sensors, rooftop surveillance droids, plus random invisible energy fences on the grounds. By any measure, Zan Arbor's villa would be tough to break into. And so, Kenobi suggested that they instead take the easy way, by simply walking in the front door.

Tempting the temptressEdit

Jenna Zan Arbor

Evil scientist Jenna Zan Arbor

"Why would I do this? As you can see, I have everything I want. Every luxury is here. I live in a palace. I have the fastest ship in the galaxy at my disposal. What more do I need?"
"I have found that there are needs, and there are wants. So the question is not what more do you need, but what more do you
want?"
"Very clever. But I can supply my own wants ... Your little plan sounds intriguing. I wish you luck with it."
"I assure you, the rewards are greater than you can imagine."
"I doubt that. There is what I can imagine, and what actually lies ahead. I'm sorry to say that you must have more than this to tempt me. But don't take it personally.
"
―Obi-Wan Kenobi seeks to tempt Jenna Zan Arbor into joining forces with the Slam gang.[src]

The Jedi villa was modest in comparison to the rest of the neighborhood, but still luxurious by any standard of mission quarters the Jedi had ever had before. Still, this "paradise" remained an empty one, for only the wealthy could afford it, with the world's workers living in misery outside its walls. How could anyone enjoy the luxury, knowing that? Siri wondered. Anakin and Ferus were tasked next with basic reconnaissance of the city while Obi-Wan and Siri paid a visit to Zan Arbor to gather information. The Padawans were to talk with people, observe security, traffic patterns, and escape routes, but also to remain alert in a more general way with no specific objective in mind, to gather whatever useful information they could that might pay off later.

Precisely as had been his instinct, Kenobi simply announced at Zan Arbor's front entrance that Slam and Valadon wished to see her, and she immediately granted them audience (egomaniacal evil scientists and master thieves apparently needed no introduction). A tall, hulking Phlog bodyguard escorted them to a reception room overlooking the villa's gardens. Wearing a silver gown with azure belt, Zan Arbor sat elegantly to receive them—it was obvious she consulted the best medical data in the galaxy to maintain her well-preserved appearance. For while Kenobi had changed much in the 18 years since he'd seen her (Obi-Wan was taller, older, more 'galaxy wise,' perhaps more rueful and sad), she looked almost unchanged.

Zan Arbor let the pair know that their reputation had preceded them, for she had been so informed by Teda and eager to make their acquaintance. She poured them tea as they sat before her in two ornate chairs. Elegant furnishings surrounded them in the beautifully appointed room. Zan Arbor didn't seem to approve, in some odd way, for Valadon's attire, which included her bare legs and gold boots. When asked why they'd come, Kenobi stated that while it went without saying that they wished to meet "the finest scientific mind in the galaxy," they also confessed to having come to tempt her with an offer. Zan Arbor assured them that she was now retired, but to continue anyway with what they had to say. When Obi-Wan suggested that she join the Slams in an extremely lucrative venture involving a planetary treasury, promising her no risk and absolute anonymity in return for her help to briefly incapacitate the guards through air delivery of her new drug so that they might raid said treasury, Zan Arbor declined. All her needs were already filled, she said. Kenobi countered by suggesting that needs were not necessarily wants, and that she perhaps yet held onto some secret ambition. But what the Slams were offering, in her mind, fell short—it was not enough to tempt her, she said. Still, she wished them luck and accepted their friendship as new neighbors. Referring to their little visit together as having been "lovely," Zan Arbor announced abruptly that her Phlog bodyguard Hue would show them out.

But once Zan Arbor had gone from the room, Siri, at Obi-Wan's prompting, put on her charms in earnest to distract the Phlog and lead him further into the villa and coax him to give her a tour (taking her Jedi companion quite by surprise, as he'd never seen her charms taken to quite the same level before). Meanwhile, Kenobi reached out with the Force to investigate what he'd noticed earlier: Zan Arbor's exquisite cabinetry concealed something, due to the way the joinery at the hinges and the openings looked to him. He wished his Padawan, with his amazing connection to the Force, was with him: Anakin's ability, refined by his training with Soara Antana, in working with inanimate objects and being able to judge the space between molecules as well as the objects the molecules made up, never ceased to amaze Obi-Wan.[6] Kenobi—knowing that Zan Arbor was driven by greed and ego and had no intention of retiring, as she'd led them to believe—knew by his clear instinct that she was planning something. She had made a lucid reference to those plans by her words, "There is what I can imagine, and what actually lies ahead"—meaning that Slam's small-time plans were puny compared to hers, and for that reason she'd dismissed them as not being worth her time.

Suddenly, feeling through the invisible seam and catch, Kenobi came upon the hidden compartment he hoped was there—a concealed office, actually, with datapad, holofiles, comlinks. Quickly accessing the datapad, for he knew he had only moments, he found, to his relief, that not all of the files were coded. Remembering his and his Padawan's recent 'latest tech' techniques training with the Temple's resident tech expert, Jedi Master Toma Hi'llani, he accessed Zan Arbor's most recently consulted holofile. He read snatches: safe houses arranged ... officials to bribe have been contacted ... a start date must be decided on with care ... everything depends ... He inserted the file into his own datapad and copied it, with only seconds to spare, as unmistakable sounds emanated from the hallway announcing that the Phlog was determinedly returning to the reception area with Siri in tow. At last taking their leave of Hue, the two Jedi escaped into the sunlight. Warning him that their last Slams-impersonation escapade better have been worth it, Siri was encouraged when Obi-Wan confirmed that it was: Zan Arbor definitely was up to something, and he would try to crack her work disk-copy coded files back at the villa.

Thieves for the ResistanceEdit

"My name is Joylin. I am the leader of the resistance on this planet. My face and name are well known to Teda..."
"What do you want with us?"
"We are in need of your special skills ... you are thieves, and we will pay you ... We will win because we have to win ... On the other side of the wall ... disease is rampant. Many of our children die before their second birthday..."
"What do you want us to steal?"
"A small item from [Teda's] private office. It contains information that will guarantee our success. Within a short time we will be able to take over the government ... [Without the] list of codes that control the security to all official government offices and residences, as well as the sheltered criminals ... there will still be a revolt. It just won't be bloodless ... The revolt is to be the night of [Teda's] reception..."
"We are interested in one of the residents here. A scientist named Jenna Zan Arbor. You must guarantee safe passage for her off-planet."
"That is not a problem. As long as you are in.
"
―Anakin Skywalker cuts a deal with the Romin Citizens' Resistance leader, Joylin.[src]

In their reconnaissance assignment, Skywalker and Olin, having finished with the rich part of the capital, focused now on its scruffier business section. They noticed almost immediately the stark contrast between the poverty of the workers and the grand palaces in Teda's section of the city. And they weren't even outside the city yet. Anakin, in particular, was disturbed, his heart swelling with disgust for the injustices he was seeing—identical in so many ways to the overwhelming injustice he'd witnessed as a slaveboy on Tatooine. Outside the city walls, surely the conditions were even worse. Anakin had to concentrate to keep his breathing even, for he tasted the injustice in his mouth like the sand that filled the air of his own native planet: "The hatred he felt was bred in his bones." When Anakin mentioned the intimate understanding he shared with the wretched people they beheld, Ferus nodded, saying, "Yes, you do. That is your great strength, Anakin." The comment took Skywalker by surprise, as he'd always thought of it as his weakness.

Just as the two were about to approach Cloudflower Wall to observe security checkpoints and escape routes, in case they were suddenly cut off from their ship, Anakin felt a surge in the Force, a warning, as a shadow seemed to pass over him: they were being followed, and they jointly agreed to lead the tracker on, then double back to see who it was. Picking up their pace, they weaved in and out of shadows, eventually darting into a dark alley where they used cable launchers to scale a warehouse wall and observe who was tailing them. Moments later, they jumped down to the street below, directly in front of a cautiously moving Romin—it was Hansel.

Obviously startled, Hansel explained that he hadn't expected to have to follow members of the Slam gang here. They'd been sight-seeing, the two advised him. With clearly better sights to be seen, theirs was a curious choice, Hansel said. They'd gotten lost, they explained, then quickly asked what they might do for Hansel. The charity deputy's task was to deliver, on behalf of "Great Leader Teda," an invitation to Slam and Valadon (and, of course, the two of them, also) to attend a reception the following night for "many like yourselves." Teda especially wished for Valadon to be there. The two 'gang members' accepted Hansel's invitation with pleasure, and the dictator's "first aide" took his leave to inform Teda of their reply. Anakin and Ferus felt that Hansel now suspected something, but just didn't know what. It didn't matter anyway, for they'd be gone by the time he figured it out.

As they hadn't received from their Masters a clear objective exactly, Ferus and Anakin decided to head back to their villa. But as they turned and began walking, the Force surged again—too late. Caught up in their belief that it was Hansel who'd tailed them, they'd let their guard down. Their attackers assailed them from behind on airspeeders, using cables to knock the two off their feet, then throwing black hoods over their heads and tying them tight. Knowing they had to maintain their cover as Slam gang members, neither withdrew his lightsaber, but instead allowed himself to get captured: they might find out more information that way, after all—especially who kidnapped them, and why. Their obscure objective had suddenly become clear to them as both were shoved into a vehicle and taken away.

Soon, the black hoods were wrenched off their heads and they both took in deep breaths of air—dank and murky, however, far from fresh. A deep voice broke the silence, encouraging them to take in the "wholesome country air of Teda Estates." A bright light shone in their eyes, though the rest of the delapidated room was in shadows. When the deep-voiced being saw them tense in anticipation of a blow or a fight, he told them to relax, for neither he nor those with him wanted to hurt them, but, rather, to hire them. Apologizing that he couldn't issue nice personal invitations the way their Great Leader could, a tall, slender Romin emerged from the shadows, where several others of his kind waited. He told his captives that his proposition demanded privacy—hence the manner he was compelled to use to arrange their meeting.

Introducing himself as Joylin, he was the leader of the Citizens' Resistance, whose stealthy operatives and compatriots—many of whom lived within the boundaries of the capital—remained behind him in the darkness to obscure their identities, for he was not willing to compromise their safety. The resistance group had been informed of the Slam gang's arrival and were eager to employ its expert thieves in their imminent revolt against Teda's regime, which they hoped would be "bloodless." Events had coalesced, at last, to coincide with the ideal chance for a successful revolution—a big reception that Teda was hosting at his grand palace for the wealthy criminals he had agreed to harbor on his planet. Joylin was desperate, therefore, to employ the Slam gang's "special skills."

Joylin's rationale for choosing the gang members for his purposes was that they were new to Romin, without ties, friends, loyalties, or any need to betray anyone in order to help his revolutionaries. Already with an undercover 'inside operative' within Teda's palace (Becka), Joylin was careful to impress upon his captives that they were among "the winning side," as most of Romin's wealthy citizens and criminal refugees underestimated "the power of desperation." Indeed, the only difference between the decaying structure they found themselves then conversing in and those on the other side of the capital's Cloudflower Wall was that, within the walls of a typical dwelling outside the city, two or three families were crowded together, living amidst "rampant" disease and unemployment. "Many of our children die before their second birthday. The ones who survive have no hope of getting better than a menial position, of traveling to the city once a day to rake a lawn, clean a sewer, fix a dataport ... Every family, every individual, has gone without in order to feed our [resistance effort] treasury."[7]

Throughout the interrogation, Skywalker and Olin worked in tandem, were in tune with one another, reading each other without speaking (though each disliked the other)—they were a team, with Ferus taking on a belligerent, incredulous and disdainful air, and Anakin assuming a sympathetic one that yet kept their expert services open and available to Joylin, not slammed shut against him. And though unsure whether it was the Force or his own instincts, Anakin knew he was getting better at seeing inside beings, sensing their fears and motivations. Joylin was good at concealment, which was likely a way of life for him, but Anakin could feel his hunger, could sense Joylin's urgency, and the fear and anxiety beneath that urgency, knowing that the Slams could be the resistance leader's last chance. He therefore pressed Joylin for more information: while not asking him to reveal his secrets or compromise the safety of his agents, the Slams did need him to trust them if they were going to trust him and take a risk for him. Hence the way Anakin and Ferus had "played the game," and done so expertly, despite their differences.

With enough information now to satisfy their own requirements, the undercover Jedi ended up cutting a deal with the Citizens' Resistance to steal critical codes from Teda's private office (during Teda's reception, on the night of their scheduled revolt) that would allow the revolutionaries to incapacitate the security systems of the capital that controlled all official agency and residential gates and take over the government. In return, beyond his proposition's monetary payment of double the gang's going rate and permitting them to be the only criminal group allowed to stay on Romin after its liberation (with each gang member given "lifetime citizenship" as long as they kept Romin law), Joylin agreed to the Slams' stipulated payment-schedule terms of half paid to them before the revolt and half after, but also that Joylin guarantee the safe passage off-planet of the scientist who was the object of their presence on Romin—Jenna Zan Arbor. The Jedi knew that this arch-criminal of the Republic would be desperate for help when her own security crumbled with Teda's collapse.

The Citizens' Resistance knew they had but one chance to sabotage the CIP controls for the droid army that Teda used to control the city and guard the wall; it all depended on striking a quick and decisive blow simultaneously to capture all of the government officials and Teda himself. Only then, by locking the officials and their personal troops inside their houses, could the revolution be a "bloodless" one. For without the officials and their droid army, the Citizens' Resistance could easily take control of the planet.

After settling on the means of communication between the Slams and the Resistance until their forces inextricably joined on the night of Teda's reception, Joylin escorted the undercover Jedi as far as Cloudflower Wall.

Wrenching revelationsEdit

"These files indicate that Zan Arbor is in league with Granta Omega ... We might not want to take her to the prison planet. If we do it right, she could lead us to Omega himself..."
"We face a great enemy. And now we find that she's met with a greater one."
"Exactly ... You have a great connection to the Force."
"So does Anakin. Far greater than mine. I can see that ... I wish I had what Anakin has. His connection to the Force is strong, yet he also connects to beings very strongly."
"Yes, I've seen this. It's something Qui-Gon Jinn had, too."
"I know that Anakin will never be my friend. He knows I fear for him ... To admire him and feel fear for him at the same time didn't make sense to me. It took me a long time to understand
why I feared for him. I wanted to be sure there was no envy in it."
"Do you envy him?"
"I suppose all the students do, in a way. He is the Chosen One. But what worries me is his will. His power is so great that he thinks his judgment is as well ... Should we trust someone who always believes he speaks with the voice of absolute right?
"
―Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padawan Ferus Olin reveal disturbing factors impacting their mission on Romin.[src]
Obi-Wan Kenobi noted, after their evening meal when they'd retired to the garden out of range of any listening devices, as Anakin and Ferus debated the merits and drawbacks of Joylin's proposition, that something had changed in the two Padawans' relationship: Anakin, though disagreeing with Ferus, hadn't the usual edge or resentment in his voice. Certainly they were not friends, but their adventure had brought them closer. Joylin's prospect was risky, but Anakin felt strongly it was a risk worth taking. Only half-listening to their argument, Kenobi continued reading through the uncoded holofiles he'd copied at Zan Arbor's villa and was now convinced that she was indeed planning a new operation ... and with partners this time: Everything depends upon secrecy and speed. The remainder of the files were coded, and he'd called one of the Temple codebreakers for help, using the most difficult formulas known to crack them, but without luck.

Siri quietly observed the Padawans' excellent discussion, very pleased with how they conducted themselves. Ferus maintained that the Jedi had not been authorized by the Senate to actively support a planet's overthrow of power; Anakin objected that the Jedi were not the ones overthrowing Teda—its suffering citizens were. The Jedi were simply helping them to achieve their goal. But Ferus felt, because they really knew nothing of this 'citizens' resistance movement, its history or motives (except the wish to overthrow Teda), it would get out of control and Joylin might surprise them. Siri advised them both, based on her information from Temple archivist Jocasta Nu, that the movement, well-established and with suspected secret support even within the government, had put down Teda's brutal reprisals and crackdowns in the past, as it continued to grow steadily. Harsh sentences to be served in the notorious, overcrowded prisons were meted out by Teda at his easily angered whim; many even in the army, whose families knew firsthand the misery and poverty outside the wall, would probably desert. Anakin was in accord with Siri: Joylin and his group, like the Jedi, were fighting for justice—they could help the Resistance and get Zan Arbor back to the prison world, he reminded Ferus, by not making the issue so complicated.

Making it too complicated echoed in Kenobi's mind. Remembering Zan Arbor's primary obsession, he keyed in a password: The Force. One after another the files flashed code accepted and opened. Despite the warm night, however, a chill ran over him: a name he hadn't expected to see pulsed before his eyes. Of course. Zan Arbor naturally would have gravitated towards the galaxy's most powerful criminal, one with the wealth and organization needed to advance the schemes of the one scientist who matched his amorality and brilliance, who shared with him an obsession with the Force and how it worked: Granta Omega. Kenobi read her message, profusely thanking him for hosting their first meeting; then another note, alerting him of her need to evacuate Vanqor; a promise to destroy all their correspondence, but which, for security no doubt, she'd clearly not kept. Meticulously careful, neither stated exactly what they'd planned, but that their next operation would take place on a large Core world, netting them both wealth and influence, was clear.

Suddenly Obi-Wan's mind returned to his companions' conversation. Siri appreciated the valid points made by each Padawan, but a decision had to be made. She felt they should assist Joylin and, shooting Kenobi a withering look (for being so obviously absent from their discussion), asked now for Obi-Wan's opinion. Kenobi let loose a bombshell: a new factor complicated their decision exponentially—Zan Arbor was in league with Granta Omega. All stood in grave, shocked silence, as they could only see double the damage inflicted on the galaxy by these two powerful criminal minds. Conceding now the sheer gravity of the situation, Kenobi declared that they would help the Citizens' Resistance. The risk was warranted, in order to get Zan Arbor off the planet. They had only a day before their cover would be blown, but if the deranged scientist felt her safety compromised she would take the bait of it being her only way off-planet. But the Jedi needed to reconsider taking Zan Arbor to the prison world, because, if they did it right, she could lead them straight to Omega himself. For final approval of their new course, Kenobi would that night contact Master Windu, who he hoped might secure Senate sanction for their aid in the revolt, but didn't think it would arrive in time. Their mission had now burgeoned in its import: Omega was suddenly within striking distance. But this time, Kenobi wouldn't miss. Omega would be tracked, if possible, through her.

Though he'd admonished his companions to get some sleep, Obi-Wan, because of Romin's single, overly luminous moon and the lingering heat of the day, couldn't relax. Rising from his sleep couch, he retired again to the stone patio, then out into the fragrant garden, where he found Ferus—sitting with legs crossed, eyes closed and meditating, also unable to rest. Deciding not to disturb him, he turned to walk back, when Ferus invited discussion. Sitting next to him, Ferus empathized with the many questions that Kenobi said troubled his mind, knowing now that a greater enemy than the one they'd come to Romin to confront had complicated matters. Ferus' mind, too, was troubled with reconciling certain decisions made during the mission by the Jedi Masters whom, he conceded, possessed more wisdom and experience than he with the knowledge that "the Jedi wisdom I have learned by rote speaks to my heart."[7] Like Anakin, with whom Obi-Wan sympathized, Kenobi stifled his own impatience with Ferus always having to say the "correct" thing. But Ferus, whose own strong connection to the Force allowed him to perceive Obi-Wan's thoughts concerning him, explained that he never said the things he said simply to please his Jedi Masters: he said them because he felt them to be true.

From earliest memory, when Olin was taught the Jedi truths at the Temple, it was as if he already knew those truths, as if they fit a groove already worn inside his mind. Obi-Wan suggested that this explained Ferus' great connection to the Force. But Ferus freely admitted Anakin's Force-connection was far greater than his own. He admired Anakin's ability to make friends, to make connections with beings, which he lacked (for though all the students liked and admired Ferus, none offered him their intimate friendship, as Tru Veld and Darra Thel-Tanis had to Anakin). Ferus was always welcome at every eating table, but he was never invited to any particular one; everyone was Olin's friend, but no one was his particular friend. Ferus rued his inability to tease and joke like the others, lamented that he was perceived as being "pompous, too correct." With Ferus' questioning and uncertain aspect, Kenobi suddenly noted how young Olin looked as compared to the noble, mature-beyond-his-years aspect Ferus had always seemed to radiate. His heart went out to him. Ferus would, Obi-Wan told the young man, find friendship later in life. As friendships were hard to maintain for any Jedi (and why they so treasured them), he bade Ferus to let go of his longing and, one day, all he desired would be his, to have and to hold. Or, perhaps, Ferus countered, he was meant to stay the way he was.[7]

Ferus wished he had what Anakin had. The ability to connect so strongly, not only to the Force, but to beings as well, was a gift, Obi-Wan conceded, that Qui-Gon Jinn also possessed. Ferus knew—because Anakin was aware that Ferus feared for him and gave him warnings when he knew he shouldn't (for it was none of his business, really)—that Skywalker would never be his friend, that he resented Ferus. But it had been because he was older that Olin thought that he could, in the beginning, tell Anakin things the other students could not. Suddenly Kenobi understood that Ferus needed to unburden his mind about something that had been extremely troubling to him. But because Obi-Wan felt protective of Anakin, and was certain Ferus didn't understand him, he fought to calm his impatient impulse: for Olin couldn't begin to know the pain, the regrets, the fears that his Padawan had to deal with. But when Kenobi asked Olin to offer up how he perceived Anakin, Ferus said gravely, quietly, that he feared for him for a specific reason.

To feel both fear and admiration for Skywalker didn't make sense even to Olin, and he confessed it took him a long time to understand the reason for that fear, because he had to be certain it was not based on envy. Was it, in fact? Obi-Wan queried. All envied Anakin in a fashion, Ferus admitted: he was, after all, "the Chosen One." What worried Olin, however, was Skywalker's will. With power so great, Anakin thought his judgment to be equal to it. Whenever Anakin perceived something to be right, he therefore had to do it. Skywalker argued without truly hearing the counter-argument. He believed he could change not only situations, but beings as well. And though Anakin could accomplish no such thing then, someday he would. Knowing this, Ferus reasoned, should they really trust someone who always believed that he spoke with "the voice of absolute right"?[7]

Kenobi had to, in that moment, confess to himself that he perceived the very same things about his Padawan. What surprised him was that these truths flowed from the mouth of one of Anakin's peers—a boy just a couple of years Anakin's senior, who'd shared only a couple of missions with him. Ferus is always watching me, his Padawan had resentfully said to Kenobi once. Indeed, that was the case. But it was Ferus' mature judgment that at once surprised and irritated Obi-Wan. What Olin was not allowing for was the goodness of Anakin's heart, his persistent striving against his own doubts and fears. And so, while he commended Ferus for being so observant, he needed to accept, Kenobi said carefully, that he knew him better than Olin did. While Anakin could indeed be arrogant, he was still learning and growing, cognizant of and respectful of his own great power, taking care not to abuse it. And despite his youth, Anakin had yet been witness to many terrible things and much injustice in the galaxy. Ferus needed to understand that it was compassion, not ambition, that drove his apprentice. But Olin only nodded, saying that he would think about Obi-Wan's words. "Please know that I say these things only because he is the Chosen One, and the stakes are so high," Ferus said, bidding the Jedi Master goodnight.[7]

Kenobi could have said more, but he deemed it inappropriate to debate Anakin's character with another apprentice. He, too, would need to sift through and ponder Ferus' words, let go of his impulse to protect Anakin and look for truth in what Olin had said—for Obi-Wan knew Ferus had touched on his own fears, and he needed to think on that. But not tonight, he decided. Valuing his new confidence in Anakin, he needed to guard it. For just a while longer Obi-Wan needed to forget what he feared ... and treasure what he had.

Escaping tyrannyEdit

"Stars and novas, you're good. This way. If you go out that window, you'll be met with half the security force ... They're waiting for the droids to kill you before they open the panels. You've got about twelve seconds. Do you have the codes?"
"Yes. I assume you're my spy."
"I work with Joylin ... Just stay with me ... Not good ... They're going into lockdown..."
"I think we can make it."
"I don't think you should try it ... Security will be looking for you until they catch you. Leave this to me ... Just walk out with the others ... You lead the way. The guests will follow. I've told them that Teda is keeping them indefinitely for interrogation. They are furious and afraid. Teda will have to let you leave. He depends on their bribes to survive. He won't stop them. You'll see. Go.
"
―Undercover Jedi, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padawan Anakin Skywalker, impersonating Slam gang members, encounter Becka, grand palace spy for Joylin, the Citizens' Resistance leader on Romin.[src]

On the appointed night of the reception, the dazzling laserlights and diverse sounds emanating from Teda's grand palace could be seen and heard before the Jedi had even passed through the security check. Displayed across the palatial grounds (now under very tight security) were tableaus of key landmarks (in miniature) of the galaxy's most beautiful worlds—Dremulae, Off-Canau, Xagobah, Belazura—but also, with its laserlight arch proclaiming it to be The Most Beautiful World of All Worlds, of Romin itself (its miniature of Eliior, the largest tableau, featured Cloudflower Wall—the replica of which was actually, and therefore ironically, fashioned out of cloudflowers, unlike the lies told about its real counterpart). Delicate native-flower fragrances from those worlds wafted through the air as guests were served native foods carried by servers on repulsorlift trays. Live artists both inside and outside the compound played music just as varied and diverse. The city guests, dressed in their finest, were all high-profile interests of Teda's—including the 'Slams' leaders (Kenobi and Tachi), who, needing to blend in, wore the real Slam gang's richest shimmersilk and septsilk attire, with Anakin and Ferus, however, in more simple navy and gold tunics.

Upon meeting the security officer Becka again, he led them to Teda to make their salutations and thank him for his hospitality. They found Teda berating, in "white-hot anger," a server, whose face was as white as the tunic he wore, for the infraction of serving the dameapple turnovers before the skewered runis. The 'Slams' saw also, for the first time, the tyrant's signature cruelty: he brutally struck the server, who knew better than to cry out in pain, across the knees with an electro-jabber—a violent action performed with such casualness that it even shocked Kenobi. "Our leader, so forceful, so strong ... How lucky we are to have him," said Becka, also pale, who receded quietly back into the crowd. Teda turned about to greet the Slam gang joyfully, as if his ire had never been roused, telling them to go and enjoy themselves.

With little time left, Siri went with Ferus to check out the target's security while Anakin checked the palace perimeter, to map an escape route, just in case. Obi-Wan killed the time until midnight (after which Joylin said Kenobi could attempt the theft of the security codes). As he moved through the crowd hoping to glimpse Zan Arbor, Obi-Wan wondered if Omega had pressured Teda to invite Zan Arbor to his planet after she was forced to flee Vanqor. Drifting to the drink table, he chose a glass of quint-berry juice as he ruminated over Joylin's explicit instructions on where to find the codes and where the security triggers would be. Obi-Wan would simply use the Force (by Force persuasion) to get past Teda's private-office guards to get the codes.

It was then, however, by awkward chance, that Kenobi ran into the very individual he was impersonating—Slam, whom, Kenobi saw, had a tired, handsome face. Over idle chat, he shared with the newly escaped criminal a glass of the favorite Romin beverage he was drinking. Rather humorously, Slam complimented Kenobi on his "nice tunic," apparently not realizing that it was the real criminal's own. Obi-Wan soon learned that Slam's crew had escaped with him, and he knew he had to warn his impostor companions that the party was over for them. Because Joylin was already beginning to disrupt communications at the landing platform, the real Slams had neither received their official entry docs yet, nor been able to communicate with Teda about meeting them for the first time. Before Slam excused himself, Kenobi was able to persuade him to avoid meeting Teda that night, as the dictator was in a very bad mood for having to punish a waiter. He then hurried off to get into position, with ten minutes to spare, to lift the vital codes.

Ferus and Anakin, too, after they'd just witnessed in amazement Siri's quite startling ability to charm a group of male criminals, realized that they had just seven minutes to get into position. The two Padawans came to the conclusion that Tachi was merely pretending to hate her impostor role, and that she really enjoyed it. As Siri broke away from the charmed group and joined the Padawans to carry out the rest of their plan, she told them that beyond the fact that charming is exhausting she'd learned that Teda was running out of wealth, had not in months paid his army officers (who were deserting in droves), and couldn't afford to prop up his government much longer. He was cutting back in the meantime by securing fake security droids and looking for new income wherever he could find it. Anakin, for his part, reported that he'd found a difficult, though not impossible, way of escape—a less heavily guarded wall behind a dense thicket with bright flowers and meter-length thorns, over which they could Force jump, activate cable launchers in midair, scale the wall, and take out the droids with their lightsabers as they climbed.

Just then, Kenobi caught up with them and advised that the real Slam gang had arrived at the party. Though he wanted the other three to return to the villa and not risk getting caught, Siri and Anakin adamantly refused to leave Kenobi: they'd watch out for the Slams, and as soon as Obi-Wan had secured the head of state's secret codes, they'd all leave together. After Kenobi had disappeared again into the crowd, Ferus asked Siri whatever happened to flattery to get what she wanted, to which she replied that flattery didn't work on Obi-Wan. Siri directed the Padawans to stay close to Teda's private office in case Obi-Wan needed their help, while she kept Teda, by her charm, away from the Slams. Anakin felt a surge in the Force when he saw his Master approach and wave his hand at the guards at the entrance to Teda's private office: they nodded, parted to let him slip through, and he was gone.

After Kenobi entered Teda's office, a silent trigger that neither he nor Joylin knew about, suddenly went off, activating a security alarm. Despite the alarm, he entered the security code Joylin had given him, which opened a panel in Teda's ornate desk, from which he lifted the tyrant's security codes, contained on a disk in a red slipcase. Suddenly panels shot forcefully down, blocking windows and doors, as a contingent of sentry droids rushed in to begin firing upon Kenobi. Deflecting their blaster fire, Obi-Wan jumped over the desk and cut them down, leaving them in smoldering heaps. Soon, however, the guards, Obi-Wan realized, would also rush in. With security alarms ringing wildly, Kenobi had begun to back up, when his back pressed up against a cabinet, which moved: Becka suddenly appeared from behind a secret door. He revealed himself to be Joylin's spy. He then led the undercover Jedi through hidden panels and passageways until they emerged finally into the palace reception room where Teda was hosting the festive event for all of his wealthy criminal-refugees. Becka beckoned the musicians to keep playing as he allayed the fears of the guests, calling the blaring of the security devices a "false alarm."[7]

Meeting up with the rest of the undercover 'Slam gang' outside on the palatial grounds, Becka advised them against all brash actions and escape routes—to take, rather, a quieter, more effective way of escape so that the revolt might begin in earnest: Becka advised them to simply give an ostentatious showing of irritable outrage at having been so disrupted in their enjoyment of the night's festivities, and to simply walk out of the main gates, leading the entire mass of offended criminal-guests with them. This they did with flourish and success, allowing them to rush the codes to Joylin and permit the citizens' revolt to begin in earnest.

The Citizens' Resistance had actually begun their revolt earlier by disrupting the capital's communication systems from the capital's security center, having theretofore infiltrated the tyrant's Security Management Control. Now, even though the volume of sentry droids that filled the skies after Teda's government went on full alert was greater than expected, once the CIP was knocked out, they crashed to the ground, lifeless. But then Teda's regular army flooded the streets and headed for Cloudflower Wall to quell the gathering resistance. Meeting the army was a mass of beings that had burst through the security gates like a huge moving mountain, marching determinedly toward Teda's palace. The raging revolutionaries pushed the army back in a hard battle, looting and vandalizing as they went: they had been deprived of too much for too long, living in fear as they watched their children suffer. Their anger fed upon itself and burgeoned, seeking to destroy what had destroyed them.[7]

Monuments fell, buildings were destroyed, trees were hacked down, fires were lit in the businesses that catered to the wealthy, but also in the banks, assembly halls, and even hospitals. Dragged into the streets and slaughtered were citizens who had profitted from Teda's regime. As the Jedi could not be everywhere to quell the extreme measures taken, it all, too rapidly, careened out of control. Hoping for the best, lamentably they'd seen the worst. Obi-Wan and Siri saw the horror through the eyes of her Padawan, Ferus, who grew silent: he shuddered as he saw the thing he had feared would happen. Whereas Ferus lamented that "we did this," Anakin countered, "No. They are doing this." But all that the Jedi could do now was to help. Guiding cowering workers to shelter, tending to the wounded and preventing further violence where possible, the Jedi had by night's end established their own villa as a refugee outpost that they guarded against the mob. The sounds of destruction receded as the Romins advanced towards other parts of the city, and by morning's light the Resistance workers patrolled the streets, endeavoring to restore order.[7]

Even after the dark night, Anakin still maintained he didn't think they'd been wrong. Sighing, Obi-Wan told his Padawan that he was not ready to make that call, but that they had made the decision they did using the facts they had. But they were right, Skywalker continued to insist. Kenobi instantly saw the will Ferus had been talking about, the need to bend or fit the situation to Anakin's own vision of it, the need to be right. He reminded his Padawan that a bit of unsurety and confusion in one's mind, on occasion, could be a good thing. Would they be proved right ultimately? Obi-Wan hoped so. Did they do the best they could? Yes, he firmly believed they had. But that's enough for now.

In the Citizens' handsEdit

"Romin is now in the hands of its people. The Citizens' Resistance is now occupying the palace of the tyrant Teda as well as the government buildings. We have control of communications and transportation. Order has been returned to the streets. Some regrettable looting and burning has occurred, but it has been stopped. No one will be granted exit from Romin without the permission of the Citizens' Resistance. The army of the Great Leader has deserted or joined us. Let us rejoice, citizens, in our victory. Our tyrant is finished."
―Citizens' Resistance leader Joylin, to the people of a liberated Romin.[src]

Joylin had the Slams' Ubrikkian star yacht fueled and ready for departure at dawn. As theirs was the only transport the Citizens' Resistance was permitting to leave the planet, the Slams' were Zan Arbor's only choice now.[7]

With full control of the communication system, Joylin broadcast a victory speech on behalf of the Resistance. Despite his drawn face, his stained and rumpled clothes, Joylin's eyes were resolute, and his magnetic personality shone through to the crowds, wherever they were listening: Though all had despised living under Teda, yet the liberators themselves, sadly, had very nearly destroyed the city. But as they began a new government of justice and peace, Joylin warned that the tyrant who had abused their trust, their people, their wealth, their cities, their lands, was still at large. Teda had fled, like the coward he was. The hold of the Citizens' Resistance on the government was therefore shaky at best, as long as Teda remained at large. The dictator had fled with the few who continued to support him—his chief of staff, General Yubicon, and the galactic criminal Jenna Zan Arbor. As Teda was now a wanted criminal, charged with crimes against Romin, Joylin vowed that unless the tyrant surrendered to the Resistance government, the rest of Teda's senior staff and ruling officials would be executed, one by one. Joylin therefore issued a challenge to the ousted ruler, asking him to prove to the planet that he wasn't "a monster" by saving those who had been loyal to him and meeting the justice of the people he claimed to love. Joylin called upon Teda to surrender. Should he fail to do so within one hour, Teda's first aide Hansel would be the first to be executed.[7]

Joylin's last statements of revenge and execution, of course, sickened the Jedi. Ferus' face was white when he looked at Obi-Wan, turning then quickly away. With the dawn, Kenobi had consoled himself with the thought that things had to get better, but they had only gotten worse—horribly so. Ferus had been right about the revolt all along, Siri conceded, in that too easily it got out of control. Perhaps Ferus was also right that the Jedi shouldn't have agreed to help, for the Resistance may then have postponed the revolt. But Obi-Wan knew, as did Qui-Gon, that the Jedi could not always be right all the time. Despite the fact that Ferus was wise beyond his years and thought deeply, sometimes one had to risk for the right result, even if the hoped-for outcome might seem unlikely. Siri admired Kenobi's Padawan for that very quality—that Anakin was willing to risk everything: she admired his daring, his sureness, his fluid use of the Force. Like Siri, he didn't second-guess a decision. In fact, Obi-Wan and Ferus were more alike in some ways, and Kenobi found it odd that the Force, for reasons he could not understand, had paired him and Anakin together, being that their temperaments were so very different. But Master Yoda believed, and Obi-Wan felt strongly it was true, that in most cases it was indeed the Force that paired Master and Padawan together for reasons they often couldn't see themselves.

When the undercover 'Slams' met with Joylin soon after his speech, the new government leader disclosed that, contrary to plan, Zan Arbor and Teda had somehow escaped. The Resistance had tried to trail them, but couldn't find where they'd gone. While Zan Arbor's ship was destroyed by rioters when they hit the Teda Landing Platform, Joylin said he was able to save their ship from the same destruction and even managed to have it refueled.

Assuming now that the Slams had come for the last half of their payment, Joylin was told by Kenobi (as Slam) to keep not only it, but also the first half already paid to him, and to put the monies toward restoring the hospital. Noticing the different attire the Slams were now wearing, Joylin was informed by them that they were not, in fact, the Slam gang, but were Jedi, there on the authority of the Galactic Senate. They had come to prevent the Citizens' Resistance executions from taking place. When Joylin countered, that, as the leader of Romin, he could do anything he wanted, they reminded him of how very similar his tone was to that of Teda. Despite the extensive misery the tyrant had caused, that was not justification for murder. A single being, moreover, who served at once as judge, jury, and executioner for an entire people went against galactic law. Joylin still objected, however, stating that if he didn't proceed with the executions, his Resistance could lose control of the government.

The Jedi pressed Joylin to delay, for the Senate had approved the assistance of additional Jedi who were, even then, on their way. Joylin's objections, furthermore, were sounding more and more like he was the government, rather than an instrument to preserve the government or prevent its collapse—at which point, Joylin's patience was spent, and he ordered the Jedi to leave, or he would have them forcibly removed. Of course, the Jedi knew that no one in the palace had the power to throw them out, yet another battle was clearly not productive and would do no good. They left peaceably.[7]

Unlikely alliesEdit

"I know you."
"I don't believe so."
"We have crossed paths ...
Jedi. Now I remember ... Good disguise. But it isn't your face that beings remember. It's your manner. Your power. The way you move. I remembered you after our visit together on Vanqor. I asked about you ... You're Anakin Skywalker ... I have studied the Force for so long. Never did I expect such a prize."
"I'm not your prize."
"Well, you're my prisoner, and that's the same thing ... The Chosen One ... My interest in the Force is deep. Enough to know how your destiny is your burden. Do you remember the Zone of Self-Containment? I can bring it back to you ... Ah, speaking of temptation—"
"I'm not tempted by you."
"I saw how you enjoyed it ... I can make all your burdens disappear."
"My only burden at the moment is having to talk to you.
"
―Jenna Zan Arbor tries unsuccessfully to seduce the Chosen One, Anakin Skywalker.[src]
The Jedi Masters, returning to their villa, decided that, because they'd antagonized Joylin, the best thing to do next would be to find Teda. For if Teda were found with Zan Arbor, then two of their problems would be solved. As if orchestrated by fate, Ferus suddenly came running up, saying they'd just received a message: Teda and Zan Arbor had requested to meet with the Slams at their safe house far from the city. As the revolt had begun before the real Slams had an opportunity to meet Teda, 'Slams' could only mean them, the undercover Jedi. A Gian airspeeder was soon racing them to the borders of the densely wooded forest where the house lay; from there, they abandoned the speeder and were, by General Yubicon who met them, led through to the house's prearranged coordinates, an area patrolled by guards and officers of Teda's retained army. The safe house, forming a square around a central courtyard, was made of prefabricated plastisteel, and therefore highly mobile: it could be deconstructed and reconstructed quickly. It was small, but lavishly appointed with plush seating and thick rugs. Ushered in by a guard, the Slams were greeted in the courtyard by Teda, who was visibly shaken, and Zan Arbor, who appeared fully composed but, moreover, entirely in control of both the situation and the organization set up there.

Anakin, his mask in place once more, kept to the rear of the group, hoping to evade Zan Arbor's notice completely, and the intense gaze of her eyes that he remembered so vividly. Dressed again in their Slams wardrobes, Kenobi and Tachi continued their rather impressive farce (in the Padawans' eyes), at once flirtatious and flamboyant, conversing directly with the criminal leaders. Teda was quick to assure them that this people's revolt was a temporary setback, soon to disappear entirely. Bored by the revolt subject, Zan Arbor focused them on the object of their meeting, saying she had reversed the tables from their last meeting, wishing now to 'tempt' them. Intrigued, they bade her continue with her temptation. Zan Arbor revealed that she and Teda were partners in an enterprise they wished them to join by fabricating false text docs, a known Slams specialty; giving them transport on their ship, being that Zan Arbor's Luxe Flightwing had been destroyed; and executing a heist that would ensure them, beyond what they could imagine, high comfort and luxury for the rest of their lives. Sensing she was intimating the very scheme she'd masterminded with Granta Omega, Kenobi played 'hard to get' in order to draw out more critical information. What was the job's nature, was it financed, were there partners? Zan Arbor would not comment on the job's nature, but confirmed its full funding and admitted to there being one other partner. Before she could stop him, Teda had foolishly offered that the man she spoke of was "the most powerful business power in the galaxy."[7] But time was of the essence and they needed to get off-planet immediately.

Kenobi stalled by mentioning to Teda Joylin's ultimatum wherein he threatened to execute the tyrant's loyalists, beginning with Hansel, should he not surrender. Teda briefly feigned regret for Hansel, but then sought confirmation that the ship's fuel levels were indeed full, for they were bound for the Core, for Coruscant. Snapping at Teda to be silent, Zan Arbor asked 'Slam' who his text-doc expert was, to which he was compelled to answer, 'Waldo.' Turning towards Anakin, who, notwithstanding his mask, felt entirely exposed, Zan Arbor recognized that she knew the young man from somewhere. Siri, to draw her attention away, interrupted by stating they'd gotten permission to leave from Joylin, who'd just closed down the spaceport. But suddenly there was comotion outside, and the real Slam gang burst into the courtyard, crying out to the Jedi, "Impostors!"

Smiling, Zan Arbor returned her gaze to Anakin and declared her recognition of him as a Jedi, from their last encounter on Vanqor, complimenting him on his disguise, but reminding him, as a longtime student of the Force, that it wasn't a Jedi's face that beings remembered, but the Jedi's manner, power, movement. She had since asked about him and now knew him to be Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, whose destiny happened to be his burden also. Never had she expected such a prize. But Zan Arbor promised him something also—a return to the Zone of Self-Containment, in which Anakin might see all of his burdens disappear. Anakin remembered the supreme feeling of contentment without a tether to sadness or guilt, but also the absolute serenity, once promised to him but never achieved as a Jedi. It was perhaps a serenity that he would never achieve. But the young Jedi, tearing off his mask, would not be tempted, and, despite her lush, appreciative, inviting smile, he spurned her overtures. Once, Anakin could now see, before evil had twisted her, she had been seductive. But that day was past.

In Zan Arbor's interrogation, Obi-Wan had shot Anakin a look that told him not to engage in a fight, but to wait, as the stakes were too high and they needed more information. Teda suggested the four Jedi be taken to a prison and executed. Uncomfortable at the suggestion, the real Slam said they'd be satisfied simply with the impostors' cessation of impersonating them, plus a return of their clothes, added the real Valadon. But Zan Arbor realized what they now had—leverage. With a great prize to bring to their partner, they could now negotiate a different, far more advantageous split. Looking back at Anakin, she told the young Jedi that he reminded her of someone she knew long ago. "Qui-Gon Jinn," came the answer, but it was from Obi-Wan. Whirling about, Zan Arbor asked if she knew the impostor underneath Slam's attire. "Obi-Wan Kenobi," he replied. Laughing in utter delight, she echoed his name enthusiastically: he'd only been a boy when they last met, and, appraising him, she told Kenobi he'd grown up well. Catching up on old history, she said she'd caught wind that Qui-Gon died on Naboo, that Yaddle had recently 'joined the Force.' Shaking her head, she asked: "It makes you think, doesn't it? What is happening to the Jedi? Their strength diminishing, their best leaders struck down. And yet they don't see that they are declining. Such a pity to watch. So intriguing to study."[7] Siri, who never sparred with villains, was not amused. Her eyes flashed, but she remained silent, with Anakin marking and admiring her utter confidence that she'd prevail against this villain in the end: he would cherish the current image of her ire.

Turning to the real criminal gang, Zan Arbor offered refreshment and the same gig their impostors had already accepted on their behalf. Slam responded, realizing what it meant, with how happy he was that Zan Arbor's messengers had found him. Looking pointedly at the authentic gang members, Zan Arbor then gave warning to the Jedi of complete compliance to her direction, or lives would be endangered beyond their own. She commanded the Jedi to relinquish their lightsabers and called in all of Teda's army, including General Yubicon and many who rode on swoops, to escort the trespassers to a planetary prison. Their lightsabers were to be placed in the prison's vault for Zan Arbor's later study while the Jedi were to be placed under 'severe guard' in holding cells. The general, who stuffed the Jedi weapons into his back satchel, was not to let the Jedi out of his sight, nor listen to them. She and her new allies would pick them up when their preparations were finished at the safe-house site. Anakin could see that both general and tyrant were firmly under Zan Arbor's thumb, that she was truly the one in charge.

The Jedi were roughly herded onto a rutted road running through the thickly wooded forest that blotted out the sun. The Jedi played along, waiting for the moment they knew would be theirs. When both Kenobi and his Padawan had called upon the Force, to tune out noise and focus in on Yubicon in conversation with his aide, they discovered that Zan Arbor's imminent grand scheme with Omega involved having the Senate to do their bidding. Arriving soon at the prison—a dark green duracrete building, long and low—the Jedi passed through the energy gates and into the compound. With energy cages suspended from the ceiling, it stank of dirt and rot, of desperation and pain. Windowless, its walls and floors were stained with dark matter. Kenobi looked at his Padawan, communicating telepathically, Not yet, but soon. Proceeding through a second door, beyond an energy fence, they came into an enormous cell stuffed with beings from many worlds, barefoot and in rags. Their faces were full of hatred for the guards, and even for the new prisoners that stood to be 'broken in'. Anakin was relieved when his Master said, Now.

The Changing of the Guard JQ8

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, with Siri Tachi and Ferus Olin, break out of a Romin prison while in pursuit of mad scientist Jenna Zan Arbor.

The four Jedi leaped into action as one against the more than twenty army officers and prison droids in sight. More droids doubtless awaited in the inner rooms beyond. While the three male Jedi dealt with the guards, Siri whirled and kicked General Yubicon in the chest, knocking him backward and out, when his head hit the duracrete floor. Retrieving their lightsabers from his satchel, Siri tossed them to the Jedi. Some guards fled when they saw their commanding general incapacitated. The prisoners roared their approval in the background as the Jedi advanced through the rest of the officers and droids. They also gave Anakin advance warning when they yelled, "Stun nets!" With launchers in hand, more guards entered to release electrically charged nets. The prisoner warning gave Anakin the split-second he needed to call on the Force (using the techniques learned from Master Antana) to flip the paralyzing nets back onto the guards before they blanketed the room. The prisoners again sent up an approving roar.

Suddenly, however, laser artillery from outside the prison caused its walls to glow red: the army had arrived to put a final end to the uprising. With a thundering crash, the entire entry wall came crashing down, exposing the prison to the woods beyond. An entire battalion was poised before the prison occupants, ready to attack. Upon being ordered to surrender, Obi-Wan leapt to deactivate the energy gates, releasing the prisoners, who, grabbing up blaster rifles and stun batons from the fallen guards, rushed out to do battle with the army. They yelled for the Jedi to give them a chance to fight, but Kenobi advised these unlikely allies that the Jedi hadn't freed them just to see them slaughtered by grenade mortars and missile tubes. Their faces grim, Obi-Wan could see they wouldn't be stopped. With his Padawan enthusing that they could win, he bid Anakin to take Ferus, find the weapons room, and bring back what they found; within minutes they'd come upon blaster rifles, more stun-net launchers, stun batons, and even a flamethrower, which Anakin himself swept up as the prisoners crowded in to snatch their own weapons. The young Jedi, with stun nets also in hand, returned—whereupon Ferus, asking for Jedi cover, jumped onto one of the army swoops and, with astonishing speed, launched the nets out over the front lines, felling the soldiers and confusing those in the ranks behind them.

The attacking army's captain to whom the disoriented soldiers now looked was diverted, however, by brush fires ignited by the electrical charges. The resultant smoke swept over the army, choking them, as they strove to extinguish the flames. "Now!" Obi-Wan directed the prisoners, who surged forward with a mighty shout. While the Jedi thus succeeded in disorienting Teda's army, they hadn't yet vanquished them. But leading the charge, they deflected the mortar and blaster fire that pounded around them and Force-pushed troops away. Though Anakin thrilled with a feeling of certain victory, Obi-Wan could see there were too few Jedi and too many weapons coming against them. But suddenly, a sleek Republic cruiser appeared in the sky, swiftly dropping to a perfect landing; few Jedi could land a ship like that, Anakin knew, for he was one of them—another was Obi-Wan's old comrade, Garen Muln. Sure enough, Master Mace Windu, Bant Eerin, and Muln came charging down the lowered ramp, their lightsabers blazing as they moved through the troops. The Force was powerful now in the collective Jedi's union of concentration and warrior strength. The tide of battle turned, and they soundly defeated the enemy, strategically targeting weaponry, separating divisions, and knocking out leaders who tried to regroup. Sighs of relief were heard when, after the Romin army commander, faced personally by the Jedi, laid down his weapon and surrendered, his forces followed suit.

Surrender to democracyEdit

"So, you came [Teda]. Not by choice, I see. Typical of your cowardice."
"That's my food!"
"It is the food of the citizens of Romin."
Zan Arbor rolled her eyes. "Ah, democracy.
"
―Galactic criminal Jenna Zan Arbor sneers at the interchange between Romin tyrant Teda and the planet's new would-be Republic leader, Joylin.[src]
Garen couldn't resist telling Obi-Wan that rescuing him was becoming a habit, while his dear Mon Calamari friend Bant gave him a shy smile, saying she was just along for the ride. While Kenobi hadn't seen Bant for three years, they had set up a special communication method in which each would leave the other a message or small gift whenever they came to the Temple—a sweet, a dried flower, a river stone, an intriguing phrase in a new learned language jotted on a folded durasheet and tied with a ribbon. This was done, that Obi-Wan might feel Bant's gentle presence in his life; seeing her, of course, was even better. Mace Windu, getting right to business, interrupted the reunions to get a status report from the Jedi, which included Joylin's imminent executions. Upon hearing this, Mace advised that their first task should be to impress upon Teda the necessity of his surrender.

It was after Mace himself had circumvented Zan Arbor and Teda's escape by driving his lightsaber into the engine of their over-stuffed airspeeder before they could take off (doubtless to escape with the Slams on their ship) that he declared to them that his Senate-sanctioned presence on the planet was to negotiate the terms of Teda's surrender. When both criminals told Mace that they would do as they wished, Windu countered firmly that they would do as they were told: they'd be escorted to the headquarters of the new Romin government. When Teda balked, asking if negotiating with thieves and murderers was what the Senate was sanctioning these days, Windu thundered back that the Senate supported the people's revolt based on a tyrant's many crimes against his own citizens, and that Teda should consider himself lucky that the Jedi were there to ensure he didn't get torn limb from limb.

Ultimately, both Hansel's execution and Joylin's own brand of dictatorial severity were stopped only by the intervention of Mace Windu, who, with the other Jedi, escorted the criminals back to Eliior. When they encountered Joylin, he was sitting with his closest advisors and allies, eating a large meal in the grand palatial dining area, now part of the new governmental headquarters. Pushing away his food, Joylin greeted Teda with hateful disdain, accusing him of typical cowardice by not returning by choice, only by coercion. For his part, Teda protested that Joylin was feasting upon the tyrant's food, an inaccuracy Joylin was quick to rectify by proclaiming it to be the food of the citizens of Romin.

Windu, by Senate authority, advised Joylin that no executions could take place, that trials must be held and evidence gathered to prosecute properly. For even the Citizens' Resistance couldn't begin a new government using the tactics of the one it had overthrown. When the people's new leader did not respond to Windu's order to stop the execution, but only glared with hatred at the ousted dictator, Mace reminded him that the Jedi had destroyed Teda's army—surely Joylin did not wish for them to do the same to his own. As Senate support was crucial to building their new world, Ferus Olin spoke up, and because the Citizens' Resistance had already accomplished so much, their vision deserved the best chance to flourish. Joylin—suddenly jarred from his state of staid fury, as if stirred from a troubled dream—looked up at Olin, to agree, at last, with such sound reasoning, especially now that Teda was in custody. The planned executions were stopped. Teda, his future altogether precarious, was committed by Joylin's guards to a jail cell with the other prisoners of the ousted regime.

Sorrowful over the deaths of so many, Windu was yet optimistic and felt the outcome was good: the change on Romin would make a better world. He commended Ferus for his well-phrased comments that allowed Joylin to make his decision and save face in front of his supporters. Olin modestly admitted there was simply a bit of pride mixed in with Joylin's politics. Wanting her Padawan to more fully appreciate his contribution to the mission, Siri lightly added that Ferus showed a greater grasp of the situation than the other Jedi did, for he predicted a chaotic takeover, said that Joylin would surprise the Jedi—he was absolutely right. Kenobi noted, alternately, that his Padawan looked unhappy. He moved over to Anakin, realizing that Mace had singled Ferus out for praise: "I am proud of you," he said. "You fought well, with compassion and precision."[7] But the comment went unheard—something else entirely was troubling Anakin Skywalker . . .

After Omega: beginning of the endEdit

"Wait ... We should let them go ... This is our chance. They are on their way to Granta Omega. It's the only way we can find him. If we can get a tracking device aboard, we'll have him."
"Obi-Wan, we have Zan Arbor here, now. She is capable of doing great harm to many. Are you willing to risk letting her go for the sake of Granta Omega?"
"I feel strongly that we must. Omega is the bigger threat.
"
―Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi High Council member Mace Windu.[src]

Skywalker hung back to observe Joylin. He was feeling a new power, a sense of exultation in a new side of the Force he'd not experienced before. The Force was assisting him see into the most secret part of Joylin's heart, beyond what Joylin wished or didn't care that others saw. Skywalker suddenly discovered that, beyond objects, he could manipulate beings also, use their fears and secrets. This was a facet of the Force he had not known before. Anakin abruptly told Joylin what the power-seizing leader already knew—that he had, in truth, let Teda go freely. The Jedi, completely surprised, turned to Skywalker. The guards were not taking Teda to Prison, Anakin revealed.

In fact, Joylin had orchestrated a ruse of his own. The revolutionary leader had depended on Teda's cowardice not to surrender, so that Joylin himself might proceed unfettered to execute all of the dictator's loyal followers who threatened the new ruler's power base—as a precaution, to utterly prevent the possibility that they might grow strong again. He never needed Teda dead because, as a mere figurehead, Teda never posed a real threat. Joylin only needed Teda gone. And so, by accepting, just as the revolt began, a bribe from Zan Arbor to permit the escape of Teda and herself offworld, Joylin had effectively accomplished that riddance. Anakin revealed all of this to Joylin: and the revolutionary's guilt on every count was, by his silence, obvious to the stunned Jedi.

Teda clearly, now, was being taken to join with Zan Arbor at the landing platform, to escape with the Slams on their star yacht. Mace ordered Joylin to withdraw the Slam's permission to leave the planet, but Joylin replied that it was too late. Giving the resistance leader a withering look, Windu raced from the palace with the other Jedi towards the Teda Landing Platform. Ascending the turbolift, they hid behind an equipment-laden gravsled, from which position they could see the Slams readying for departure. Mace congratulated Anakin on his excellent work in bringing this new information to light, and was about to lead them all in a charge toward the criminals, when Kenobi bade them wait. He advised that they should let the criminals go. This was the chance they'd sought to let Zan Arbor lead them to Granta Omega. It would be their only way to find him. They'd have him in their grasp if they could get a tracking device aboard the vessel. When Mace Windu objected to the risk of letting get away this formidable danger to the galaxy, Obi-Wan assured him, and all of them, that Omega was the bigger threat, intimating moreover that their new direction, to go after Omega, was the will of the Force. To which Siri, her eyes blazing blue, agreed: the rightness of their course was clear. She and her Padawan were ready to join them on this new mission, she told Mace. Still slightly wary, Windu acquiesced to Kenobi's strong feeling and supported their decision. Even so, everything depended on getting that tracking device on the ship without being seen, and they only had moments in which to do it.

Obi-Wan turned to Anakin with such overwhelming confidence and assurance that Anakin felt he would never forget that moment: he would do his Master's will. Withdrawing a tracking device from his utility belt, Skywalker swiftly but stealthily moved from behind the supplies and fueling trucks, and slid in as close as he dared. All on board the Slam's yacht had to be distracted, in order for Anakin to seize his moment. He would use the Force, gathering it in, forming it to his pleasure, to what he needed. When the engines fired and he felt their heat, Anakin moved. The ship rose, hovering a meter above the ground, while the crew input coordinates and information, giving Anakin the few seconds he needed for time to slow, to spool out before him. He Force-jumped straight into the exhaust, which obscured him from the viewscreens. Despite its blazing hot temperatures—too hot for a living being to stand—yet he stood it, and it failed to burn him. There, at the edge of the platform, Anakin timed the move with the ship's rise, flinging the tracking device at the yacht's underside, where it connected. Hidden again by the fuel pump by the time the ship rotated, Anakin had made a perfect leap down, with not a millimeter to spare. The Slams' vessel shot out of sight.

It was a dangerous maneuver, but he hadn't been burned. Anakin rose on slightly shaky, heated limbs to greet Master Windu and the others, who walked toward him. "Impressive," Mace complimented Anakin again. Obi-Wan, on the other hand, who worried that his Padawan might have been hurt, made it clear that he hadn't meant for Anakin to jump into the ship's exhaust funnels. Looking up at the ship's vapor trail, Kenobi confirmed to Windu that they were now ready to track the Jedi arch-villain, explaining that—as Omega had always seemed to be one step ahead of them in the past and had always planned their meetings—for once, Obi-Wan now would decide how they'd next meet. But to do that, they would need to borrow Master Windu's ship.

Unbeknownst to the criminals, the Jedi were now tracking their progress towards the vastness of the galaxy's Outer Rim. They'd traveled for days, taking shifts at piloting the cruiser, with Obi-Wan delving again into the holofiles on Omega that were gathered for him by Temple archivist Jocasta Nu. Anakin sat, peering out into the open galaxy, quietly contemplating the stars and the energy that boiled from them and countless worlds and satellites, from matter and nonmatter, gravity, inertia, and living beings. Suddenly he jolted upright, tense and erect. What was it, Obi-Wan queried. Omega, Anakin said, turning to his Master: He knows we are coming.[7]

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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