The evening sun streamed through the windows of the Jedi Council Chamber, casting a warm glow upon the faces of the twelve Council members and giving their inner sanctum an air of peace that only the setting sun could bring.

Despite the peaceful surroundings, there was a hint of concern among the assembled Masters, concern that their attempt at guiding the Republic away from its careless path to decay was doomed to failure. Supreme Chancellor Rhoufheigh refused to listen. She regarded the Jedi as superstitious cranks, devotees of an archaic religion that belonged firmly in the past. In Rhoufheigh’s mind, free commerce, private investment and the pursuit of ever-increasing profits were the only ways forward for the Republic. She failed to see the collapse of society around her. The Jedi Council were worried.

Parlio Venstromence fidgeted in his seat and scratched his beard as he turned to Yoda.

"I sense that the imbalance in the Force is widening," stuttered the scruffy human. Yoda closed his eyes and nodded.

"Hmm," he purred. "Inevitable this is, and unfortunate. Heard not from Bil-Kit’s Padawan since arrived on Naboo she had." Yoda gazed upward. "Safe, young Sarolyn is for now, but warned her I have: Careful she must tread."

"The moral entropy is a direct effect of the 'don’t care' attitude of most of the Senate," hissed Dessk, the sunlight causing his scales to glow bright orange.

"Rhoufheigh seems to be controlled by big business, especially MHG, and nearly all of the Senate go along with her. The only one who had any influence, Thraurrallgisc of Sorensia, has been arrested."

"Removed by Mandalore, perhaps? Hmmm?" said Yoda. "A nuisance maybe to him was he?"

Dessk flicked his tongue. "He was arrested because of his mission on our behalf. He had sent his crew, a human named Ayo Verna and a young Wookiee called Yarualacciac, to Despayre."

Yoda blinked and stroked his moustache. "Much suffering you sensed on that remote world, Dessk, and forbidden by the Senate to investigate you were. The right thing you did to ask Thraurrallgisc for help."

"I feel responsible for him," said Dessk. "He feels betrayed." Dessk took a deep breath. "I was his friend, the only Trandoshan for whom he had any respect, and now he blames me. He risked his life for us, only to be arrested by MHG police."

Gondor Scock, a tiny Uexerian Jedi Master of only fourteen inches in height, smiled at Dessk from his perch directly opposite.

"Don’t upset yourself, Dessk," said Gondor in a squeaky voice. "You did the right thing and you’re stronger for it."

"Yes, yes," urged Yoda, eager to heal Dessk’s apprehension. "To Gondor you listen. To Sorensia you must go, Dessk. Freed, Thraurrallgisc must be."

Dessk blinked, his eyes flashing white with their nictating membranes. "I will do as you bid, my Master," he gargled, bowing his head.

Dessk had already made his plans. He, Chastacyrrhi and Vima-Da-Boda would go on the first available ship to negotiate with MHG for the senator’s release. The presence of three powerful Jedi on Sorensia should convince the privatised police that they were treading a dangerous path if they considered themselves above the law.

Thraurrallgisc will be freed, Dessk vowed, and all charges against him dropped. The freedom and democracy of the Republic will not be undermined.


* * *


The police cell on Sorensia was small and heavily fortified, having been designed by Wookiee settlers, fully aware of the strength possessed by a raging Wookiee criminal.

Senator Thraurrallgisc sat on the floor, tucked away on the corner with his knees propped up beneath his chin. He was tired, frustrated and angry by what had happened to him. He had had very little sleep since his arrival, and the questions fired at his by D.S. Fitje had been relentless. All the old Wookiee wanted was to get away.

As soon as Thraurrallgisc had struck out at Fitje, he had regretted it, and he was certain that the police would now throw the book at him. How did they know about him telling Ayo and Yarua to alter the ship’s ID profile? And who told them about their secret mission to Despayre? Thraurrallgisc mulled around in his mind the events of the last few days.

The Senate was behind Whyteleafe over that Social Security Bill. Ralrracheen, who was staying at a nearby hotel in Sheofe, had told him that it had become law, having been rushed through at record speed. The new Social Security Act was to come into force after the Senate’s summer recess.

Thraurrallgisc thought about his crew, and wondered what had become of them. There had been no subsequent contact since their arrival on Despayre, and the old senator was deeply concerned for their safety. He had sent his crew to investigate Mandalore on behalf of the Jedi; Master Dessk had asked for his help, and he, being an honest, true-to-his-word senator, had complied in good faith. Could it have been possible that Dessk could have framed him, simply because he was a Wookiee? After all, Dessk was a Trandoshan. The more that Thraurrallgisc thought about it, the more it stuck in his mind. He tried to expel the suggestion of betrayal from his mind, but the notion refused to go away.


As he considered his predicament, confined, humiliated, in this cell, his self-image deteriorated. Thraurrallgisc felt small and pointless, a feeling he often experienced after being bullied at school. He felt cheated and betrayed. Thraurrallgisc was completely at a loss.

Anger rose from within. Thraurrallgisc’s feelings had no outlet in this cell. There was nobody at whom to shout and rant, nothing to throw, nothing to hit. His career in the Senate was in tatters, his crew were missing and presumed dead, and there was nothing he could do. The anger and frustration built up until the old Wookiee could hold it no longer. With a roar and a twist of his body, Thraurrallgisc, in sheer desperation, turned and repeatedly smashed his head into the wall until his bruised forehead swelled up and his neck grew stiff from the strain.

Exhausted from the torment, the old Wookiee howled as he collapsed in a wreck on the floor. The door was suddenly flung open and six shocktroopers charged in, all wielding stun blasters. One carried a huge straitjacket. They knew what they had to do.

Thraurrallgisc, too tired and weak to resist, was bundled into the jacket and securely fastened within. He stared absently as the shocktroopers departed without a word, slamming the heavy door behind them and locking it with a bleep of its magnetic seal. They snapped shut the servings hatch, leaving the old senator alone with his thoughts.

Forward to Chapter 28

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