Prauf was fascinated by the news center Drafa had installed on the Whimsy. “I always enjoyed watching ISN,” he said. “They were a little more above-board than the rest, although, sometimes they gave you the illusion of truth instead of the actual truth.”
Kor didn’t have an opinion one way or another. Like most people, he’d paid scant attention to the news outside his immediate neighborhood. On Bracca, he’d mainly watched local comedy shows as a way to brighten the dull monotony of his daily existence. “But what about the reaction of that guy from Tatooine? He seemed really put off by the idea of a new Republic rising in the galaxy.”
He and Prauf had spent three days salvaging the final pieces they wanted from the Claw and were now heading back to Zosma again. Jhemon had thrown a big party for them as a way to say thank you for all their help. Kor didn’t know how close Prauf had been with his father before all this started, although the indications were the relationship was rather distant, but now they seemed close, even intimate again like father and son should be. They had lingered over their goodbyes. It seemed like a good omen to Kor.
Prauf had his feet up on a box of parts in the galley. “You need a government for some things but it’s like a brick, it weighs you down,” he said. “The question is, is it going to be a big brick or a small one? The bigger it is, the more it crushes you, so I can understand the guy’s feelings.” He took another drink of some purple swill his family claimed was a rare vintage of Dhiketh wine. Kor thought it was more like battery acid but had the tack to keep his opinion to himself. “So, I think you’re right about the First Order and this idea of rebuilding the Republic; they’re both bad ideas.”
“But,” Kor leaned forward, “unless there’s some law-and-order in the galaxy, eventually the various governments will have to get bigger and start merging again to fight off the chaos, the pirates, brigands, and so on.” He frowned into the depths of his drink. “I think it’s up to the Jedi to provide the law-and-order.”
Prauf laughed explosively.
Kor frowned. “What?”
“Maybe you ain’t noticed, kid, but it’s a big galaxy and there’s only two of us.”
“I didn’t say we were going to do everything.”
Prauf dropped his feet to the deck with a thud. “Then what were you saying?”
“The Jedi will have to grow, obviously.” Prauf made a rude noise. Kor ignored it and pressed on. “There will never be a lot of us, so we can only handle the big stuff, the things the local governments can’t or won’t handle.”
“And we do all this, for what? Out of the goodness of our heart?”
Kor shook his head. “No. I’m not sure how we’ll handle it but we need to eat the same as anyone. We can’t work for free. Maybe it’ll have to be on a contract basis at first, then after people see we’re useful, maybe, I don’t know, some kind of tithing arrangement or something.”
Prauf’s eyes widened. “Tithing?”
Kor had the grace to look embarrassed. “Well, some people have referred to the Jedi as a religion.”
“We’re not,” Prauf said forcefully.
“No.” Kor cocked his head. “But I can’t help it if they think so.”
Prauf stood up and nearly tripped on the box he’d had his feet on. He caught himself with the Force. “Look, kid. It sounds like a good idea and all.” He paused. “Well, I don’t know if ‘good’ is exactly the right word. Noble, maybe, but I don’t think you’ve thought this thing through.”
Kor grinned in triumph. “I haven’t.”
Prauf stared at him suspiciously. “Then what’s with the goofy smile?”
Kor’s smile widened. “I haven’t thought it through which is why I’m bringing it to you so we can go over it together.”
Prauf opened his mouth then stopped, caught flatfooted by Kor’s unexpected answer.
Kor laughed at Prauf’s mental shout. “Yeah, mebbe so, but whatever we do, we both have to be in on it. I’m bringing it to you so we can.”
Prauf gingerly stepped over the boxes and crates to the counter where the bottle of Dhiketh wine sat. He filled his glass then held it out to Kor. “Want some?”
He couldn't summon enough tack this time. “Only if you shoot me first. That stuff is horrible.”
“I hate you, you know.”
Kor chuckled. “Ditto.”
Prauf carried the bottle back to his seat. He took a sip and sat in silence for a moment. “I don’t want the Jedi to turn into bounty hunters,” he said without preamble. “I’m done with that.”
Kor realized Prauf was consenting, if not to the idea, at least to the possibility of it. “I don’t want that either,” he agreed.
They spent the next two weeks hashing it out while they worked to upgrade the Whimsy. They agreed first and foremost that the new Jedi would never offer or volunteer their services to anyone. Instead, they would wait for people to come to them. That way, future Jedi wouldn’t be tempted to gradually escalate things to the point of forcing people to submit to their idea of law-and-order.
They agreed secondly to enforce honesty Even in the Republic, too often the letter of the law was upheld at the cost of the spirit of the law. They vowed not to make that mistake.
Third, they agreed they would never attempt to interfere with any government for any reason, especially those they disliked. It wasn’t their job to make or break governments. That power belonged only to the people of those systems.
After a lot of discussion, they boiled it down to three simple rules:
They engraved them on a slab of white granite in two-foot-high letters and set it up in the great lobby where anyone coming in would see it as soon as they entered. They cleaned off all the outside growth on the building and polished the windows. When they were done, sunlight shone brightly through the room, throwing the letters into stark relief.
They stepped back and looked it over. Prauf nodded in satisfaction. “That’s something I can get behind.”
Kor clapped him on the shoulder. “You and me both.”
“It won’t always be easy.”
Kor nodded. “Nothing worth doing ever is.”
“You’re starting to sound like a Jedi Master,” Prauf said approvingly.
Kor got a twinkle in his eyes. His voice took on a deep, sonorous tone. “The meaning of the universe is found in the sound of one hand clapping.”
Prauf slapped him on the back of the head. “Idiot!”
“I hate you.”
“Yeah, me too.”
After a moment they settled down. “Now what?” Prauf asked.
“Now we send out the announcement.” Kor felt a pit open up in the middle of his stomach as he said it. They’d made some traditional Jedi outfits for themselves; cream-colored pants and tunic, brown boots, belt, and hooded robe. Once dressed, with their lightsabers dangling from their belts, they’d posed in front of an obelisk with the Jedi symbol on it and taken turns introducing themselves as Jedi and instructing people on how to contact them through Jhemon ne Jein d’Aubreta. They explained their three rules then ignited their lightsabers for one crashing blow against each other and closed by saying, “The Jedi Order has returned and we serve only the light.” Kor was planning to add a cut to the slab they’d just erected then fade out.
He was nervous though. Once the announcement was released, there was no going back. Everyone in the galaxy would know about them and he was pretty sure some wouldn’t be happy about it.
Prauf put his reservations into words. “This is it, kid, the point of no return. Once we do this, we’re marked for life.”
Kor laughed nervously. “Yeah. But realistically, we’ve been marked ever since that day I saved you on Bracca.”
“That’s true, enough,” Prauf said somberly. He looked down at his Jedi attire. “I guess we ought to get used to wearing this.” He didn’t give Kor a chance to respond. “I’ll go check on our upgrades to the Whimsy while you put the finishing touches on our announcement.”
Kor nodded and Prauf strode away, his brown robe billowing around him.
There had been more than enough salvaged parts and equipment from the Claw to virtually rebuild the Whimsy from the ground up. Now, she was faster, stronger, and better armed and armored than ever. In addition to the regular tech, they’d added Force tech as well, particularly to the weapons and shields, using kyber crystals so they now drew their power from the Force, independent of any energy from the engines and onboard systems. They’d done the same for the life support systems as well. Now, unless those systems took a direct hit, the Whimsy would always have full life support functionality regardless of any other damage the ship might sustain. Then they doubled the armor plating around the life support systems to protect them from direct hits. Prauf was going to inspect their Force additions, as only a Jedi could, to ensure they were fully operational before they sent out their announcement.
Kor decided to add a last minute voice-over during the introduction of the video. He switched on the recorder and began, “In the ancient past, before the Republic existed, the Jedi stood apart from any government and aligned themselves with none. Once they joined with the Republic, their downfall began. The new Jedi aren’t going to make that mistake. The past is the future of the new Jedi, and if you’d like to see what that means, this video will explain it.”
He shoehorned it in before the rest, then watched to make sure it all came together. When it was done to his satisfaction, he ordered the computer to create the final render and download it to a data disk. He finished his work before Prauf did. He took the data disk the computer ejected and headed for the ship. He met Prauf just as he was coming down the passenger ramp. “Is it all working?”
Prauf nodded. “Five by five.” His terse reply revealed his nervousness without Kor having to use the Force to see his emotions. He looked at the data disk. “Is that it?”
Kor gave it to him. “Let’s call your father.”
Prauf turned back up the ramp, heading for the cockpit. Once there, he inserted the disk in a slot then punched up the code for his father’s comm unit on Aubreta. He glanced at the chronometer on the console and did some mental calculations. “You know, it’s pretty late at night on Aubreta right now. He might already be aslee –”
The screen cleared and Jhemon was looking at them. “Prauf. What can I do for you?” They saw him eyeing their Jedi robes.
“We’ve got something to show you.” Prauf hit the button so Jhemon could watch their announcement. When it was done, his eyes were wide. “We don’t want anyone knowing where we are, so we want you to release this to as many people as you can, and tell them to pass it on to as many people as they can, and so on.”
Jhemon hesitated. “Son, this is a big step. Are you sure about this?”
Prauf glanced at Kor. Kor nodded somberly. He looked back at his father. “We’re sure, father. Send it.”
Jhemon bit his lip then did something off-screen for a few moments. He nodded at them. “I just sent it to everyone on my contact list.”
For a split second, Kor wanted to cry out, no! But it was already too late. It was done and they were committed. He stiffened his spine. “Thank you, Jhemon.” He glanced at Prauf and they said it together.
“May the Force be with you.”