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Book 1 - Chapter 17


Kor had plenty of time to think during the four-day trip to Zosma. It was the first time he’d been alone since it all began and the solitude of the “big empty” between the stars gave him time to consider his life and what he was doing with it.

After his father died, he’d been stuck working at the shipyards for a lack of better options. Jorus had insisted he get a good education but there weren’t many places on Bracca for him to put it to use. Once you were in the shipyards, you were stereotyped as a manual laborer for the rest of your life. No one would look at you, regardless of how much education you amassed.

Jorus’ fear of discovery had led him to suppress his own Force abilities as well as Kor’s, often by spanking him for the slightest use of the Force. Kor’s protests that it had been an accident or that he couldn’t help it had fallen on deaf ears. Watching Darth Vader slaughter the other padawans had left such a deep scar on Jorus he couldn’t recover.

Jorus was also scarred by the destruction of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. About five years after he and Kor’s mother, Aliura, had escaped, the Empire had moved to destroy the Temple. All the news channels covered it for weeks on end as the demolitions crews went through the building setting charges. ISN had wall-to-wall coverage of it from beginning to end. Then all the channels were preempted for the final implosion that brought the massive building crashing to the ground. The Emperor wanted everyone to know the Jedi were finished and gone forever.

They weren’t of course, but Aliura had been killed when two Jedi escaped the Empire, further heightening Jorus’ paranoia. Using the Force terrified him, and he’d done his best to instill that same paranoia and terror in Kor. To a large extent, he’d been successful.

So Kor, with no hope of promotion and scared of using the Force, had simply endured life, drifting along with the tide. If it hadn’t been for Prauf “firing” him, he’d have been easy prey for Ballador Shipwrights when they figured out he was responsible for their team’s unusual safety record.

He stared at himself in the mirror over the sink in the tiny bathroom in his cabin, thinking, what are you going to do with yourself? His reflection didn’t answer and after a moment he straightened and wandered out to the bridge, stepping over piles of equipment and parts. He plopped down in the Captain’s chair and stared moodily out at the swirling colors of hyperspace.

The Whimsy’s course was displayed on the screen between his seat and the co-pilot’s chair. Zosma was on the outskirts of the Outer Rim, almost into Wild Space. There was a band of stars between it and Aubreta, forcing the Whimsy to decelerate to make hyperspace turns around the various stars and planets that were in the way. If not for those obstacles, the trip would have only taken two days instead of four. The standard navigational charts Drafa had programmed into the navigation computer showed it as a system with no planets, so uninteresting it was identified only by its number. He smiled briefly. Morg’s efforts to hide the Jedi installation there had been successful, even centuries later.

Morg.

His smile faded.

The ancient Jedi Master was an apt trainer, but he was singularly unhelpful when it came to other questions, such as why – and how – he’d been able to turn Prauf into a Jedi. It made him wonder what else Morg might not be telling him, or worse, might not know. The only thing he knew for sure was that Morg had been adamantly opposed to the Jedi moving to Coruscant and becoming part of the growing Republic. He didn’t like the centralization it represented, although it was unclear if there was a philosophical reason for his opposition or if it was merely a preference. He didn’t like half-and-half lightsabers either, on which point Kor and Prauf had found themselves in agreement with him. There was also the matter of Morg’s distaste for the, at the time, new idea of the midi-chlorians being the reason the Jedi could use the Force. Kor was still a little fuzzy on exactly what the midi-chlorians were supposed to be or do so he wasn’t sure what the hubbub was all about.

But now, with all the Jedi gone, he and Prauf were quite likely the only Jedi left in the galaxy, which brought him back to his original question; what was he going to do with his life?

He’d told Drafa that “Jedi” was an acronym for Justice Eternally Divinely Inspired, but hadn’t mentioned it was a sarcastic joke among the padawans at the Temple. To the best of his knowledge, no one knew where the name had come from. The Jedi may have been more upright than most, but their constant involvement in politics had tainted them to a certain extent. They weren’t nearly as pure as they’d led people to believe.

He drummed his fingers on the console in front of him. If he and Prauf were going to recreate the Jedi Order, he had the chance to do his way. But what was his way? That would depend on what he wanted to do with his life. Or maybe it was the other way around. He shook his head in frustration. It felt like he was going around in circles.

He worried it like a dog with a bone all the way to Zosma without coming to any hard conclusions, aside from the fact he didn’t want to be affiliated with any government, which wasn’t much of a revelation. He wanted to avoid government entanglements anyway, whether he was a Jedi or not.

It was while he was unloading the Whimsy, using the Force to do all the heavy lifting that he accidentally found a new source of information. He misjudged how much room he had maneuvering around a corner and one edge of a long part bumped a button on a console. A partition over it slid open and a vid screen came on.

An obvious news anchor was reading a report to the camera. “. . . enate Arms and Convention Center is finally open today after years of delay. The controversial project, turning the old Senate building into a hotel, business park, and convention center, has been held up by competing interests, financing delays, and contractor disputes.” The announcer glanced off-camera and nodded slightly. “We’ll be back after a short break. This is CORE News, your best source for news and information from the core worlds.” The screen flickered to a commercial for a new speeder.

Kor was surprised. Drafa had built a news center into the Whimsy? He finished off-loading the current piece of equipment then hurried back to the screen. The news anchor was pontificating again about the Senate building project and all the problems it had experienced. He wasn’t interested in Coruscant so he hit the controls looking for other channels. In short order, he discovered they had access to ISN, GON, LITE-G, GBS, CORE, ORN, PAN, FOR, ORA, and DNB. There were hundreds more but it was the last one that caught his attention.

Desert News Broadcasting was based on Tatooine where he’d been born. He soon realized it was broadcasting from Mos Eisley, the spaceport where they’d lived when his mother was killed. The main news seemed to be the price of metal ore imports from someplace called Mizar. A local factory owner was complaining about price gouging, but when the reporter suggested the answer was a resurgent galactic government to regulate prices, the man reacted with horror. “No way! Even the Republic wasn’t worth it. It got so big it didn’t care about the little people any more. I’d rather pay high prices than go back to that!”

Kor shut it off, mulling over the man’s reaction. Before he forgot, he wrote down a list of the news stations he’d come across.

ISN - InterStellar News
GON - Galaxy One News
LITE-G - Liberty In The Entire Galaxy
GBS - Galaxy Broadcasting System
CORE - News from the Core Systems
ORN - Outer Rim News
PAN - Pan-galactic Action News
FOR - First Order Reporting
ORA - Old Republic Ascendant
DNB - Desert News Broadcasting

Kor was concerned about the FOR station. It was operated by the First Order, the Stormtroopers from the Empire who were banding together in an attempt to reestablish it, the same ones who’d first attacked them on Aubreta. He wasn’t happy about the ORA station either. They seemed to be advocating for a new Republic, but the man on Tatooine was hostile to the idea, and presumably, a lot of other people were too. He shook his head. The fall of the Empire had solved one problem but a dozen new ones had sprung up in its place. The proliferation of news channels was proof of that.

He finished unloading the equipment from the Whimsy then checked on the tanks where the new kyber crystals were growing. He harvested a number of them to make room for more, added nutrients to the tank, then closed it up again.

The galaxy had problems that needed to be solved. That much was clear, but if the man on Tatooine was any indication, people didn’t want another galaxy-spanning government no matter how noble its ideals might be. They wanted smaller, local governments that were closer to the people.

Maybe the Jedi could help. Maybe they could police the galaxy but without working for any particular government. Was it possible? Would it work? He felt a tiny stirring of excitement at the thought.

He needed to talk to Prauf about it.

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