Jan 27, 2023 1:28 PM
Kina Skywalker, just freed from Tatooine, must now struggle to survive Coruscanti politics.
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"They're capable of symbolizing that.  It's not what they are, not anymore.  I had to - I'm as much a connection as the crystals are, at this point, perhaps moreso.  I'm the one with memories; the crystals are just Force-resonant.  I don't even want a lightsaber all that much, overall.  Don't get me wrong, I'm going to have one, and train myself to use it, but it's just so...weapon.  And that feels very wrong.

"...I'm glad you're going to be teaching me.  You actually know how emotions work.  And might have ever failed and recovered.  Apparently unlike Master Yoda.  Which is really quite petty of me to say, but it seems to be true enough that I can't argue myself out of the position yet, and concerns me about the standard education, for all that it's been one lesson I walked out of with him.  Is he always like that?"

Kina looks to C3PO, and inputs the few characters she's sure of, of the password!

"Threepio, is that enough data?"

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"Dear Maker, I am not an astromech, but from the library Artoo left me, and what your hand did, I believe the remainder to be -" And then C3PO does math to transform the movement of Kina's fingers based upon measurements of Maul's hand, and the known bits of the password - which will hopefully reconstruct it!

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Qui-Gon watches as they work. "I really don't think Yoda is as bad as you seem to think. I certainly don't agree with him about the best way to handle emotions, but he's been a very helpful teacher. I wish you had at least given him a little more of a chance. Anyway, yes, I'll be teaching you, and we probably will start out lightsaber training soon - I would say tomorrow, but I guess we have a few higher priorities at the moment."

"You say there was a third Sith? From what I understand, the ancient tradition of the Sith was to have only two alive at a time, one master and one apprentice. I suppose things have changed in the past thousand years. And they were hunting Jedi? For... blood research?"

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"I did.  I gave him three chances.  Though I suppose I should at least explain why I think what he was teaching was harming his students, if he agrees to actually talk to me instead of the image of me he has in his head.

"If I had to guess...And this is a guess...I'd guess that the Zabrak was being raised as a backstabbing attempt, just based on how much of him was...combat, and only combat.  Compared to the Muun doing research.  Or the other Sith Lord meddling in whatever he's meddling with with the Trade Federation.  Sith have to inherit somehow, if there's only ever two, and I'd put money on it not being by age.  But the big Sith Lord caught wind of the small Sith Lord doing this, somehow, and decided that Maul was an interesting research subject, so he got to live as long as he was useful.  The Muun said Maul was anomalously powerful, given his midi-chloran count; 'barely double galactic baseline'.  I have no idea what any of that means, in practical terms, other than it being evidence that midi-chlorans probably aren't everything.  And, yes.  They were hunting Jedi.  For blood and hearts.  If there are suspicious disappearances of field Jedi...I imagine that quite a few of them were Maul's work, and a lot of them on the Muun's orders."

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And the communicator opens!

The message history isn't long; there are only three days' worth of records.

Arrived on Tatooine. Surveyed major cities and the ship is not present. Suspect they have landed in the open desert. They'll need repairs at some point. Recon droids are monitoring shops.

(voice call begun)

(voice call ended. 2 min 19 sec)

Positive identification in Mos Espa, one Jedi with two assistants. Attack?

No. Monitor and wait for the ship to land; the Queen must be present.

Jedi has visited the home of young slave. Advise?

Most likely the Jedi's aversion to slavery. Notify me with updates.

Jedi have entered slave into podrace.

(voice call begun)

(voice call ended. 6 min 57 sec)

Slave has won podrace. Jedi have acquired hyperdrive.

Continue surveillance until ship arrives. Plan remains the same. Kill both Jedi and as many Naboo as possible; let the Queen escape.

The Queen is landing on Tatooine. Closing in on the Jedi before it's too late.

(voice call begun)

(voice call failed to connect)

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"...Why the kriff were there specific orders given to let the Queen escape?  How does the Sith plan benefit from Queen Amidala arriving at the Senate and smacking it around until it starts actually moving?  Ohhh, I've got a bad feeling about this...Well, now that we're in the comm, we can track its routing and see where its counterpart was.  So.  This needs to go to...whomever it needs to go to to get the investigation started and shake things out of the holonet providers' records.  Not you; you're already known to their agents, do not go off alone."

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"...It's like he wanted the Queen to be angry.  To feel helpless.  And then use that anger.  But who would be placed to take advantage of the Queen's fresh anger?  Who benefits?  ...Who benefited from what the Queen did do?  It's not like she wasn't."

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"Having taken advantage of proper holonet access to update certain fast-changing datasets, and analyzing the data collected ancillary to that, I do expect that whoever it is that is pulling political strings wanted to provoke the election of a new Supreme Chancellor, Maker, Master Jedi.  That is the only thing Queen Amidala was involved with on Coruscant, and she cannot impact galactic politics while under Trade Federation blockade upon Naboo."

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"...Hmm.  Who's in the running?  They're going to want to be close to the locus of control, wherever that is."

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"Senators Palpatine, of Naboo, Teem, of Malastare, and Antilles, of Alderaan."

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"...What species are the latter two?  I'm confident enough that the other Sith was at the very least a near-Human, even through the hood he was wearing; there weren't any things indicative of protrusions.  I've seen a lot of hoods like that; I know what they look like.  So if there's someone with eyestalks, it's not them, although I suppose the candidate is likely to just be a convenient mouthpiece - we're going to need to learn who associates with whom."

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"Senator Teem is a Gran, notable for their snouts and having three eyes.  Senators Palpatine and Antilles are both human."

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"Well, I suppose that we can rule out Senator Teem as the other Sith, then.  ...How do we investigate Senators?"

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"...how do we investigate the Queen and her retinue?  ...wait, no.  Too young.  Way too young.  And I know Padmé does not have the personality for it."

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"Still.  If I were a Sith...I'd be close, but not too close, to whomever I wanted to manipulate in galactic governance.  Probably wouldn't get too close myself, that's just asking for a roaming Jedi to apply a lightsaber.  Unless they're under some sort of Force disguise, which, you'd be better placed to know than I do if it's even possible to do that, Master Jinn, but I don't think they're going to be risking daily contact with Jedi, because that's supposed to end poorly.  So we investigate Palpatine and Antilles just in case, and we bring Teem in on it because I doubt they like the idea of dying as a loose end, and then we get everyone's social circles and close companions and favorite bars' proprietors and speeder drivers and we investigate them."

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"Uh..." Qui-Gon feels like he should intervene at some point. "You think the Sith is behind one of the candidates... so your plan is to investigate them and everyone they know to see who's the Sith?"

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"Not by myself; this is enough actionable information to bring the whole Order in on."

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"And possibly get in touch with whoever manages the Republic's spiiieeeessss oh that's not a good thought I do not like it.  I really do not like that thought.  ...Still, if there's a way of definitely clearing someone as not-a-disguised-Sith...I bet that they'd help."

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"We'll certainly investigate that. Palpatine should be cooperative, Antilles I'm not sure, and Teem I assume will fight us on it. It might be better to wait for the election to end so that we can settle the Naboo situation, but that might give them the opportunity to seize power if one of them really is a part of this."

"In any case, I want to say that I'm very impressed with everything you've accomplished, Kina. I'm looking forward to having you as my Padawan."

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"...We can't actually trust Palpatine, no matter how convenient his cooperation might be.  He's within the profile of 'could, himself, be a disguised Sith Lord', and while he'd really have to have quite a fortified spleen to dare, it can't be ruled out.  He's also the person who'd know best how to manipulate the Queen, of those who aren't her own staff or kin.  Who we should probably check, too.  ...And his 'your favorite grandfather' act spooks me.  It's not real.  But I'm getting off topic.  We can't trust anybody who's not presently in the Order, as far as I'm concerned, and even then I'm not as sure of that as I'd like.

"...Honestly, I'd expect Senator Teem to jump at the opportunity to save their own skin from a Sith Lord cutting off loose ends.  There's nothing so motivating as self-preservation, to a selfish soul.

Then something percolates up again.

"...I look forward to learning from you, Master Jinn.  I'm glad you'd have me."

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Qui-Gon smiles. "See you tomorrow, Kina."

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"See you in the morning, Master Jinn.  Stay safe.  I - would be worse off without you."

He gets another hug.

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Qui-Gon heads out. After taking a break to meditate and explaining things to the Council, which takes a while, he searches the Temple for Obi-Wan, who doesn't seem to be present.

Where are you? he sends.

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The reply takes a few minutes. Dex's diner...

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Of course. You know, it was just a few hours ago I was telling the Council how responsible you were, and now this?

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