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Jedi Quest 10: The Final Showdown

Chapter One

"Power cell?"




"Blade crystals?"

A glowing shaft buzzed to life.

"All check," Tru Veld said. He turned his lightsaber around, looking at the flame-colored ray. It gave his silvery skin a rosy tint.

"I adjusted the flux aperture for you and rebalanced the handle,"

Anakin Skywalker told him.

"Feels great." Tru deactivated the lightsaber and tucked it into his belt. "Thanks. I may have built this light-saber, but you sure keep it humming." Tru looked down at his utility belt. "Liquid cable — check.

Comlink — check. Aquata breather — check. And…" Tru reached into a small slit in his belt and withdrew a small bag. He swung it in the air. "Mmmm…

some Terratta to eat on the ride."

"Check." Anakin caught the snack Tru tossed to him and popped it in his mouth. "Obviously, you've thought of everything."

The two teenage Padawans eased down on the floor and passed the food back and forth. They had checked each piece of equipment five times now.

They knew everything was functional, but they kept on checking. Routine kept their nerves steady.

Many Jedi now had to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Throughout the Temple, Jedi Knights were finishing up last-minute assignments and gathering their gear for new ones. Apprentices said good- bye to friends and fellow learners. Information was uploaded onto datascreens. Starfighters and cruisers were standing by, ready and fueled.

Just days before, there had been an attack on the Senate. Twenty-one Senators had been killed, along with twenty-four aides and guards. The numbers would have been higher if the Jedi had not been alerted. Even Supreme Chancellor Palpatine had been in danger. His life had been saved by Ferus Olin, Tru and Anakin's fellow apprentice.

The attacks had been carried out by Granta Omega and Jenna Zan Arbor, notorious galactic criminals. Yet the Jedi Council believed that a Sith was the real power behind the terrible plan and the Senate feared that this first attack was only the beginning of a much wider plot. They did not want to simply wait for the next attack. The idea was to spread a wide net, check out old sources of information, and develop new ones to lure in and trap the criminals.

Chancellor Palpatine urged restraint. Galactic politics were volatile, and he needed a period of calm to steady the mood of the Senate, which had grown ugly since the attack. He cautioned the Jedi to be discreet.

Whatever the next step, Anakin felt confident that he would be involved. His Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, had been the first Jedi to warn the Council about Granta Omega's plans. His Master knew the evil villain better than anyone, and he would be on the team sent to bring Omega to justice.

Tru was hoping that he and his Master, Ry-Gaul, would be sent as well.

Suddenly a head peeked around the corner of Anakin's quarters.

"Terratta strips? And nobody invited me?" Darra Thel-Tanis held out a hand and the bag sailed into it, with the help of the Force.

"Show off," Tru said, grinning.

Darra slid down onto the floor next to her friends.

She chewed on the candy with vigorous appreciation. Darra did everything with gusto. She had always been a vivid presence among the apprentices, with the bright bits of fabric she weaved through her auburn Padawan braid and her wisecracking manner.

But Anakin could feel a new maturity in her, a hardened sense of purpose. Ever since she'd been wounded on Haariden, she seemed to carry a sense of gravity along with her humor. She'd told Anakin that the incident had brought death so close that she'd made friends with it. The remark had been a joke, but a joke that vibrated with a seriousness Anakin had trouble accepting. He sometimes wanted the old Darra back, whose jokes were simply jokes, not keys to her own sorrows.

"Something's up," Darra said. "Your Masters are both in the Council room."

This was news to Anakin and Tru. They exchanged a glance.

"Soara is in there, too," Darra continued, speaking of her own Master.

"I have a feeling we'll be leaving the Temple before the day is out." She stretched out her legs. "I'm ready."

"Was Siri Tachi there?" Tru asked.

"I saw her go in with Ferus," Darra said, nodding. "With Ferus?"

Anakin asked. A jolt of jealousy made him straighten. "Why is Ferus there when we're not?"

Darra shrugged. "They asked for him. Rumors are going around — something about the apprentices. I don't know what."

"But why is Ferus there?" Anakin asked again.

Darra shot him a curious look. "Do I look like a Council member? Moons and stars, I hope I'm not that grim. You're just going to have to wait and find out."

"I don't think it will be long," Tru said, trying to reassure Anakin.

Tru was Anakin's best friend, and he knew that Anakin and Ferus had clashed in the past. Although they got along better now, there was still a rivalry between them.

Just then, all three of their comlinks buzzed at the same time.

Darra consulted her message. "Well, whatever it is, we're about to find out."

Anakin was used to standing in the Council room by now. He wasn't nervous, the way he'd been as a ten-year-old refugee from Tatooine. He was almost nineteen now, close to being a Jedi Knight. Yet still, this time something was different. He felt a heavy presence in the room. The Council members sat in their various chairs, waiting for the three Padawans to step forward next to their Masters. Usually Anakin could count on a nod or a smile from a Council member or two, but today everyone looked, as Darra had said, grim. He felt the Force in the room, humming underneath and through them. He imagined that this concentration of energy was similar to what a war council might feel like.

Ferus stood to one side, next to Siri. He did not look at Anakin, or at the other Padawans. Something trickled down Anakin's neck, a foreboding he didn't want to name. Suddenly he had a feeling that he wasn't going to like what he was about to hear.