Sunlight streamed through the windows of the Chamber as Sarolyn Lordan stood before the twelve members of the Jedi High Council. Yoda sat cross-legged in his chair, rubbing his chin with his fingers as he studied the beautiful girl before him.
"Mulled things over we have," said Yoda to Sarolyn as he leant forward in his seat.
"Greed and arrogance are causing undue suffering for too many people," added Parlio Venstromence.
"Destroy the Republic it could."
Sarolyn gazed at Yoda’s meditative form and sighed. "Master Bil-Kit sensed that as well, my Master," she said sadly.
"We sense frustration in you, young Sarolyn," gargled Dessk.
Sarolyn bowed her head. She knew that her emotions were getting the better of her. She straightened her posture in an attempt to mask her feelings.
"Don’t conceal your sadness," said Venstromence sternly.
"See through you, we can," said Yoda as he reclined with a groan.
Sarolyn took a deep breath and glanced around at the Masters seated around her. They were all watching her with pleasant anticipation, as if she were a musician at an intimate performance of chamber music. They knew she had something to say.
"Masters," she said quietly, "I have reason to believe that MHG are exploiting its workers, treating them like slaves. Lord Mandalore owns entire worlds, like Sorensia for instance. He charges extortionate rents so that the people are in constant debt to him. When Master Bil-Kit and I went there, we found that the local economy had been trampled by Mandalore’s greed, and that the lives of many were at his mercy.
"We both have witnessed at first hand the hardship caused by MHG. Five years ago, there was a famine on Telos, another world controlled by MHG. We travelled there to give aid, but MHG refused to help, saying that they were a business, not a charity.
"This attitude is spreading throughout the Republic. Even here, in the Capital, we are never far from poverty, crime and disease. What sort of Republic allows a handful of individuals to grow fat at the expense of the many? Supreme Chancellor Rhoufheigh’s policies are causing ever more people to sink into despair. Families are being destroyed and loved ones lost.
"When we were on Sorensia, we were told that the prices of living accommodation had rocketed in recent years. Rents had become so high that ordinary workers in Sheofe had been reduced to living in slum conditions. The Galactic Republic is supposed to be free and democratic, but greed is turning it into an empire."
Sarolyn could feel anger rising from within. She fought to keep her feelings in check, remembering the ethics of the Jedi Code.
The Council looked at each other and at Sarolyn. Whispers of discussion echoed about the Chamber as Sarolyn fidgeted and twirled her braid. Yoda sat in his chair as if asleep, his eyes closed in contemplation of Sarolyn’s speech against Mandalore.
"Agree with you the Council does," said Yoda as he opened his eyes, "and correct was Master Bil-Kit."
Parlio Venstromence toyed with his beard. "Your Master was impatient. We had to dismiss his opinions because he had no proof."
"Be mindful of what we say we must," warned Yoda. "Above the law we are not."
Dessk studied Sarolyn with his red eyes. "The Law may stink," he hissed, "but we must obey it."
Sarolyn frowned at this notion. She paused for thought, pursing her lips before speaking. "With all due respect, Master Dessk, but must we obey blindly, without question?"
Yoda’s eyes widened, and he wrinkled his face at Sarolyn. "Learning you are. Jedi Law, the Law of the Force, yes, or to the Dark Side you go, and consume you it will. But if the law is threatened by the law," Yoda paused and stared at Sarolyn, "then broken it is meant to be."
"The girl is sensible," said Dessk with a nod
Yoda closed his eyes and sniffed. "Hmmm," he purred. "Strong with the Force young Sarolyn is, but too much emotion she has."
"It’s a common fault among Padawans," said Parlio.
Dessk turned to Yoda. "Bil-Kit has taught her well" he hissed. Many other Padawans of Sarolyn’s age still struggle with the 'living' concept of the Force."
Yoda stroked his moustache and waggled his ears as he considered the future of the girl before him. "Decided the Council has, and ready for the Trials you are." Yoda’s tone darkened slightly. "But, grave danger face you if control your emotions you do not."
Yoda softened his gaze. "Fear, under control have you; anger I sense not, and aggression, none you have." Yoda’s voice became gentle. "Love and hope, good they are but much sadness I sense in you. Watched you I did when young Ki-Adi-Mundi you soothed when sad he was, but remember you must; too nice is not nice." Yoda looked Sarolyn in the eye. "Balance you must keep, or manipulated you will be."
"Yes, my Master."
Parlio Venstromence leant forward in his seat and rubbed together his hands. "Infiltrate MHG and bring back proof of Mandalore’s hidden activities. That is your Trial."
"It will be a difficult challenge you, young Sarolyn," warned Dessk.
Yoda closed his eyes and gazed into the future. "Clouded the outcome is," he purred with uncertainty. "Twisted by danger. Clever is Mandalore." He opened his eyes and smiled at Sarolyn. "Mind what you have learned. Help you it can."
Parlio clasped his hands and smiled. "May the Force be with you."
Sarolyn bowed to the Masters and left the Chamber, striding briskly to the turbolift that led back to the body of the Temple.
Now they were alone, discussion began to fill the air.
Parlio Venstromence scratched his face as he turned to Yoda with a frown, his tongue poking from his mouth as he chose his words. "Sarolyn Lordan’s mission is dangerous," he stuttered. "Isn’t it usual for a Padawan to be accompanied by a Master when facing the Trials?"
Yoda gazed at his colleague with a knowing glint in his eye. "Strong is Sarolyn, and part of the test this is." His ears cocked slightly and his eyes widened. “Alone we will make her feel, but alone she will not be."
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