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Sep 29, 2022 4:02 AM
Someone important is dead. Kina Skywalker takes this personally.
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The worst part is, part of her had been sure that she could have stopped this.

She couldn't have.  Qui-Gon Jinn simply has no fear.

And she does still think it's 'has', for all that it's no comfort when she sees the body.

There was a Force bond.  There still is one.  It's just not the same, now.

She doesn't mention it to the Order.

It's not relevant to the investigation.

She does mention the discussion she had, that C3PO recorded.

She does not mention the formless dread she'd felt, or the last words she'd said to him.

I'd be worse off without you.

How true that is.  She's cold, inside.  A sickening, dreadful feeling of emptiness as one of the few bright lodestars that are ever true to themselves winks out.

She sends a comm to Padmé, sneaking it through the firewall: QGJ assassinated in broad daylight just now.  Be vigilant.  Trust no one except probably Jedi.  S wanted Q alive for Coruscant.  Who benefits?

She holds her mother close, and tells her to stay inside the Temple's walls; it's quite possibly a matter of life or death.

She sends a message to Yoda; I had spoken with Master Jinn about this, but unfortunately, he was assassinated before he could pass it on.  I'd like to speak with you sometime, about why I believe you were teaching the wrong lesson in meditation class - I suppose it's still today, now, even though it feels like it's been a week.  I am a bit frustrated that you did not engage with my questions in the spirit they were asked at the time, but I wish to clarify that I hold no particular ill will towards you.  Sincerely, Kina Skywalker.

She sends a message to the Jedi High Council, via droid-delivered sealed flimsiplast: I have enough information on the Sith Lord that it is worth presenting to you so it can inform the Order's investigations; I was planning on bringing this to your attention through Master Jinn, but he was assassinated today - either in retaliation for his prior interference, or to directly impede the progress of this mission.  Please schedule a secure meeting as soon as possible.

Sincerely, Kina Skywalker.

Then...she heads for the armory.  She has a basic fact of geometry to exploit, and some tinkering to do, though it will bring her no relief.

Whatever Sith Lord arranged this will be ended neatly.  It's the least she owes him.

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When Kina arrives, there are a few other students there, assembling a few lightsaber parts. Bultar Swan is among them. "Hey! You're Kina, right? I thought you already had a lightsaber!"

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"That saber isn't precisely mine, but I'm here for something else regardless," comes a ragged, quiet voice, Kina's presence dim.

It's oddly simple, really, the thing that Kina's planned.  The Jedi's collection of parts, and attached workshop, has more than enough to make it and hardly even notice, especially given that they maintain starship turbolasers.

All it takes are some basic blaster schematics, a mounting bracket, some tubing, and a little bit of extra wiring.

The parts not yet assembled swirl in the air, listless but restless, as Kina fits the barrel of a blaster pistol to a simple metal hand-grip, a rod with a pistol's trigger, centered within a circle of metal.  Seven blastpistol barrels, spaced evenly around the circle.  That's how many shots she needs to be sure one will get through a two-armed Sith's best possible defense.

"I'm not at my best right now, Bultar.  Qui-Gon's...at best  discorporated.  And I can't help but think it's because of what he and I were working on, if not an attempt to hurt me.  Which sounds absurd, I know, but...I probably shouldn't discuss the details of why out loud.  Someone decided to kill him, though.  And it hurts.  He'd just told me he wanted me to be his Padawan.  He was going out to celebrate with Obi-Wan about Obi's becoming a Jedi Knight.  And then someone shot him.  Either to stop him or hurt me.  That was very stupid of them, but no-one accused Sith of being reasonable.

"So I'm making something to make sure that if I ever see the person who caused this, they won't be able to escape - whatever justice there is, at the time."

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Swan looks somber. "I'm sorry about that. Qui-Gon seemed like a nice person. Are you... trying to go kill a Sith? Aren't they dangerous?"

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"...He really, really was.  Is.  I'm more, preparing in case I end up fighting one anyway, than actively wanting to fight one, but I have more Sith-fighting experience than anyone else but Obi-Wan, right now.  I might have to do it regardless of my desires."

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"You have Sith-fighting experience? Is that where you got the lightsaber?"

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"He tried to massacre a ship of people; Obi-Wan got in his way, I threw a wrench at him and blasted him with a repulsor engine, Qui-Gon...actually stopped him.  And then stuff happened.  Which is how I ended up with the parts and crystals.  ...I should probably grab spares.  I don't think this design is for me at all."

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"A wrench. Cool. I feel like it's going to be pretty hard to defeat a Sith on your own, though. I mean, one time all twenty of us surrounded Master Windu with our training sabers, and he beat us without getting hit once. With his eyes covered. And no Force fighting. And he didn't actually start out with a lightsaber, he had to steal one of ours. And he had to limit himself to, you know, not hurting us."

"...you know what, why don't you have him fight the Sith?"

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That gets a small grin out of Kina, and a flicker of actual emotion in her Force presence.  "That's the plan, Bultar."

"Things almost never go according to plan, though, so...you should have backup plans.  Like having Master Windu and this blaster both ready.  ...Also, was he really fighting all twenty of you at once?  It seems like it's pretty hard to have twenty people all surround one person close enough to swing sabers, hm?  And then he breaks out of the scuffle, bowls someone over for their blade...I don't know much saber fighting, but I'm good at space and volume and motion.  ...Plus getting everyone coordinated to really cut off his movement would be pretty hard, because someone's bound to be impulsive enough to charge in anyway..."

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"Well, yeah, I'm not saying it was the best possible way to fight a Jedi. Just that it's really hard and takes a lot of training. Also, I have heard Master Yoda can catch blaster bolts, so a Sith might be able to do the same."

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"...okay, so I need two of these, then, I think."  It can't hurt to have a spare, anyway, just in case; maybe she'll make an extra for Obi-Wan and her mom, too.  "I'll have to ask Yoda about that, too...When next I see him, I suppose; shouldn't be all that long, now, I'm sure he wants to preach at me about...all of this.

"And...yeah.  It's hard to fight a Jedi.  That's why when you need a Jedi dead, you shoot them with a kriffing slugthrower rifle from several blocks away, apparently.  ...Kriff.  Still, somehow I don't think that's going to be an option to kill this Sith.  ...Or stop them.  I suppose.  ...I don't think they're going to end up stopped, though."  Kina sighs.  "I'm worried that I seem to have stopped caring about that thought, honestly.  I should probably care about it.  But he killed my Master, and probably wants to turn or kill me, and...At some point I run out of ability to consider basic sapient decency as having not been summarily rejected, apparently."

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At this point, Shmi arrives. "Kina." A thousand questions pass through her mind, eventually settling on "Why are you holding a blaster?"

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"Because there's a chance I might need to shoot a Sith with it, since I'm certainly not going to learn how to lightsaber a Sith well enough to win a hypothetical fight with one anytime soon.  You're getting one too."

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"I... am not against you defending yourself, but someone has to teach you how to use that thing. And teach me, while they're at it."

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"That makes a lot of sense.  Are there any Jedi you know of who use blasters, Bultar?  I don't want to go outside, right now."

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"Not that I know of?" says Swan. "There's probably someone."

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"...Maybe I'll ask Padmé again...She knows how to shoot.  ...I should make her one.  She's as much at risk as mom and I are..."

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At this point, the teacher calls Swan back over to the group.

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Shmi takes another look at the blaster. "Kina, are you okay? I mean, I completely understand how much... what happened... hurts you. But I'm a little concerned that your first response is to craft weapons. And if you're feeling scared, of course it's good to stay safe, but... I'm worried this isn't fear."

"Kina, are you planning to hunt down the killer?"

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"I'm planning to make sure he doesn't kill anyone else, insofar as I can.  The most effective way to do that is not hunting him down in person, and in no reasonable universe do I see it becoming that, though I suspect that even the Force cannot help me as much as I would like in ensuring this remains true, and I expect that I'll take an option to shoot him if I get it.  If I was - thrown out of the Jedi Order, deprived of all friends and allies, left to stew - maybe I might consider something like that.  But it won't help any, not right now.

"I'm not sure Qui-Gon is as dead as he looks, anyway.  There is no death, there is the Force."  Kina cracks a wry grin.  "It has to be there for a reason.  But...no.  I don't plan to do anything so absurdly suicidal as to go chasing down a Sith Lord myself, especially with absolutely no training.  It would take - I don't know what it would take, but you'd either be able to see the reason I was the only person left who could, or maybe dead.  Which is why you need to stay inside the Temple.  For everyone involved's sakes, Mom.  I hate that it's me having to ask this.  I don't know if I trust the Order to even consider what this could do, to me, specifically, though, because they - there's...some weird philosophy there - and I would put money that I do not even have on the fact that that Sith absolutely wants - me.  Somehow, in some way.  I don't know what their plan is but I'd be.  Far too helpful to it if they had me, I think.  So I'm trying to make sure that they don't get me.  And part of that means keeping the people who could be used to hurt me as safe as possible.  ...It's...a short list, at least.  Which is...also sad.  But probably necessary because Sith."

Kina's voice is still as level and quiet as it was when she started talking.  Frankly, she's concerned that she's not that concerned about that.

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Shmi nods. "I suppose we'll stay here for now, then, and hope the Jedi can handle this."

"Also, I think you might want to hear how the investigation's going."

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It seems that Qui-Gon's killer, who they assume was unable to arrange an alibi, made up for it by casting suspicion on enough people that no one could reasonably investigate them all. The total list of suspects includes 11,000 different people, such as the workers and customers at twelve different surrounding stores, each of which was found to have several grenades in the restrooms, twenty or so bounty hunters, who ostensibly came to Coruscant to pursue an unrelated target who happened to be in the area, the entire Galactic Senate and associated guards and assistants, which is missing the past month of security footage, thirty additional visiting politicians, the pilots involved in an incredibly large traffic jam directly above the site of the murder, seven other Jedi who were in the nearby area, a wampa, a Nightsister, a cyborg assassin who was found carrying a flamethrower, over a hundred people who in apparently unrelated incidents shot at the Jedi who tried to ask them questions, and Jabba the Hutt, who didn't actually have any particular reason for being included, but it's Jabba the Hutt, come on.

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"...This is really unsurprising.  ...Okay, the big list of potential suspects is unsurprising.  That no-one's consulted the Force about it...That's actually rather unpleasantly surprising.  I do not want to have to investigate this myself!"  Kina...takes a deep breath.  "...Who told you this, mom?  Did they say who to go to if we had any thoughts about the investigation?"

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"The Jedi who came by said that, uh... Saesee Tiin, I think, is in charge of the investigation? Although I think the whole Council has been discussing it."

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"I'll go find them, then."  And mom gets a hug, because they both need one, and off Kina goes Jedi-hunting.

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Tiin, along with Yoda and several others, is in the Council's room. None of them seem surprised to see Kina walk in.

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