Dec 09, 2022 4:13 AM
Kina Skywalker, just freed from Tatooine, must now struggle to survive Coruscanti politics.
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"...so, what's...Where am I going to be staying, then?  Does the Temple have a workshop, can I use it?  I'm really good at machines and pretty good with droids too, y'know?  Built a podracer, in the desert, from a pile of scrap -" Kina flushes, a bit embarrassed.  "Though that's a bit much of a brag, so um, questions, questions, oh!  Did you grow up here?  What was it like?  What does the Temple teach people my age?  What's my - quarters - going to be like?  I'm probably still tangled up in the Naboo blockade mess, I'm not going to have to stop working on that all for this, right?  Like I get not focusing on it all the time I'm sure there's better slicers but I do have a couple things I want to try when I have a chance - oh I should have asked the Council that - um, my mom's come here with me and a bunch of other refugees from Tatooine because Tatooine is awful it has slavers do you know if there's anywhere - oh no, I probably should have asked the Council that too, now I feel silly, umm, oh!  Do you have a library?  Can I go see?  Before or after you show me where I'm going to be sleeping?  Am I going to have people in the same room as me I didn't use to except for my mom but while we were traveling here there weren't exactly enough bunks so like we had to share and I think the handmaidens set up a rotation and honestly it was kinda nice though I don't really know how much of that was just being off Tatooine," Kina pauses for breath, --

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Yarael Poof prides himself on his memory, among other things. "With the other learners, a small one, yes, you probably are, yes, it was very exciting, mostly things you've already learned by now, comfortable although the other younglings can be troublesome, we can handle it, but you can try if you want, you didn't have to, there is some available space, you probably should have asked that, yes, yes, I'll show you the sleeping area afterwards, and no."

Kina looks a little lost, so Yarael summarizes, smiling. "You're far more advanced than most kids your age, but there are still plenty of interesting areas in the Temple - a workshop, some technology you can try to use to help with Naboo, some space for the refugees to stay for the moment, and a library, which we can head to now if you want."

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"Thank you!  That would be really nice!  And thank you for answering all my questions!"  Her voice gets contemplative for a moment.  "Though I'm actually kind of expecting Force things to help more with the Naboo blockade than just technology; R2's been guessing passwords for this encrypted comm for days but if the Force guides a Jedi to the right password because it knows almost everything, well, that's almost cheating!  Not that there are rules in this sort of thing but, you know, it's still a whole lot - better, in the sense of speed and accuracy - than anything someone else who couldn't listen to the Force as clearly as we can could do, yeah?  But um, yes!  To the library!"  She points dramatically onwards!  (Mostly entirely at random!  She tries to not bother the Force about stuff like this unless it's important!  ...Probably should have done that for the comm, thinking back, but she's not perfect; she'd gotten caught up in the lightsaber, and she's not sure that would have worked as well without the understanding of the Sith Lord from the lightsaber thing.  The Force connects all things, but some things are closer than others, which can matter.)

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The library is enormous, with a series of pillars supporting dozens and dozens of halls, each of which has thousands of datacards. Jocasta Nu emerges from the pack of Jedi walking the halls. "Yarael! I see we have a new visitor today?"

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Kina may or may not be emitting a very high-pitched eeeeeeee but she's certainly almost paralyzed by the indecision of oh goodness what to read first there's so much!  It's wonderful!  This is her new favorite place in the entire galaxy!  ...Force?  This is a little bit frivolous, but...do you have any advice or suggestions, she'd like to know?

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Most of the library seems to be in the form of encyclopedias. Turning to a few random pages in Strategic Resources of the Galaxy and Plevitz Essential Guide to Species, Kina finds entries such as:

Beskar is a uniquely resistant iron that develops a wide range of properties—and colors—in the hands of skilled metalsmiths. The ore is found solely on Mandalore, and only Mandalorians know how to work it to maximize its extraordinary properties. Therefore if you want beskar, you must take Mandalore. But that inevitably proves easier to say than to do.

and

Zeltrons: A humanoid race native to the planet Zeltros. They are distinguished by their crimson red skin and possess the unique ability to love others unconditionally. While Zeltrons have little concern for military defense, they tend to keep themselves in peak physical condition.

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Kina, left undisturbed, develops Opinions!

("...why would you need to take Mandalore, if you could instead find common cause and mutual benefit...though beskar sounds really cool...but hang on if you're - is this some sort of sabotage attempt?  If you invade Mandalore, and only Mandalorians know how to work beskar, and that's a cultural secret, then they're going to not cooperate because kriff you, so you extra won't get the beskar!")

("...What the kriff is this speciesist-psychology about Zeltrons, that's...well first what definition of love are they even using, but - everyone in the universe is still a living soul deserving of compassion, so how in the sandblasted sarlacc pits are they coming to the conclusion that every other species in the galaxy - and it doesn't even mention interactions with Force sensitivity, I wonder if that's something that, if true, makes it easier to...hear, the Force, I guess, if you can do that as a natural quirk instead of having to learn it...are they conflating species with government?  That's - culture isn't species!  I bet there exists at least one non-asshole Hutt somewhere!")

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After Kina's read for a while, Yarael takes her to her room, which is by itself nearly as large as her old home, with a fancy bed, several storage areas with some food and toys, and a bookshelf that doesn't look enormous after what she's seen in the library, but certainly would have an hour ago. "It's pretty close to nightfall, so you can stay here for now," he says. "We'll find someone to start teaching you tomorrow, and there's a droid outside if you need anything."

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"...wh...all this?  You're sure?"

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"Yes, all of this," says Yarael with a smile. "You seem to have a lot of talent, Kina. I'm excited to see how you turn out." He exits the room.

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It's a few minutes after Yarael's departure that Kina says "...I hope I can live up to it."  And then she's out like a light.

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When the Council reconvenes, it's to now meet with Padmé. "The Chancellor was being uncooperative as usual, and the Trade Federation were trying to push a legalization of the invasion. I'm sponsoring a vote to reorganize the executive branch with a new, more powerful Chancellor that can override them."

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"No protest, the Trade Federation has?"

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"No, they seem confident that their candidate, Senator Teem from Malastare, can take control, which admittedly would be a problem. We're running Senator Palpatine, and Senator Antilles is also running, which isn't great, since he might split the Palpatine vote. At this point, though, our top priority is to push this election through as fast as possible, and hope Teem doesn't make it."

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"So what have you come to us for? You know the Order can't endorse any particular candidate."

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"I'm aware, Master Windu. It could still be several weeks before the election is completed, and my people are still suffering. We'd like to ask the Order to send Jedi to Naboo on the grounds of investigating the Sith Lord."

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 "Support you in this investigation, we can," says Yoda. "But your army, we cannot be."

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"I understand, Master Yoda. How much force would you be prepared to send?"

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"Three or four Jedi, maybe," replies Windu. "We can protect you to some degree, maybe intimidate the Federation. How strong is Naboo's army?"

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"We don't have much," Padmé says. "We're hoping to draw the support of the Gungans, but even then, we won't be able to win the battle. Our goal is just to keep our people safe until the vote finishes."

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"Help, we will send," Yoda tells her. "But hope, I do, that your Senator succeeds in his goal."

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The Senator will succeed in his goal! Already he's spread seven rumors about Teem's criminal activity, two of which are even true!

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Shmi prepares to go to sleep, now in a larger room than she's ever had before, but still not the room she wants to be in.

She knows it's time for Kina to leave. She knows Kina's always had so much potential, that she became an expert in those incredible powers after just learning she could. She knows Kina's ready to make the galaxy a better place, she knows the Jedi can provide her with a better home, she knows she can have a new life on Coruscant with so much more freedom.

It still hurts.

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...Kina seemingly knows how to sleepwalk, because she's sleepily hugging her mom by next morning.

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Shmi wakes up, blearily rubbing her eyes.

"Kina!" she says. "How did you get here - weren't you in the other hallway, I thought you..." Oh, well, she'll take any chance to still be with her.

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