Chapter 13

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Ben gazed over a holotable, where models of SKYE HQ, tunnel networks, mining droids, Iskaayuma City and its weather shield generators, and a map of the binary solar system with its planetary defenses were projected. There were so many things to consider.

The Jedi was relieved that all key assets for his mission had been contacted and had committed to meet. Daniah had even been reasonably gracious on contract terms, given the short notice. But despite plans moving forward, doubts lingered in Ben's mind.

He looked down at his hardly touched plate of Dru'un slices, dried whip-smelt, and side of sytro-taffy, and forced himself to take another bite. The dish wasn't very good when warm, but cold? It was a trial of gustatory forbearance. He suspected his lack of appetite related to his mental deliberations.

How could he turn his back on the Council and his mentor, Master Yoda? Were they right to discourage involvement in the Rodian crisis, or was General Trajan right in arguing that inaction was even worse?

He didn’t know. He hated not knowing. Where was guidance from the force when you needed it?

Trajan, can I trust you? You’re an incredible, ambitious man. I’ve followed you in most things, but how far can I go? Ben accepted the title Obi-wan, defender of the Order’s future, upon Trajan’s encouragement. He entered the military ranks and served under Trajan and Bail Organa in the Great Clone War. Trajan and he shared a vision of full Jedi participation in society, such that the Order’s ideals and abilities extended beyond partnering with governments, but with non-profit organizations, pioneering corporations, and academic institutions.

Ben didn't want his admiration of Trajan to cloud his judgment. He needed to talk to someone he trusted, so he set aside his plate of food, dismissed his holoproject, and called Master Aviri with a cye command. I’ll have to be discrete about how I approach this with her.

Soon, Master Aviri's form appeared in the holotransmitter's prismatic light, wearing a sleek shift dress with a belt neck. Her wavy hair nestled loosely at her shoulders, and a striking angular bracelet hugged her left bicep. It was a nice, striking look. Aviri put her right fist to her chest, and Ben returned the gesture.

"Obi-wan -- no, forget that awful title -- Ben," she said fondly, "Sorry I missed you earlier; I was caught in a meeting. How are you? How goes your... study of Master Burkai’s Force and the Emotions?"

Ben winced. He should’ve known she’d ask. He'd been such a dead weight in the reading group as of late. In the early mornings he used to read tome after tome, but he couldn't get himself to do so anymore. He didn't know why.

"I’m still stuck in that heady fifth chapter, sadly. The one wrestling with emotion's contextual nature, and dividing its cognitive and extrarational aspects. I’ll get at it again. Probably.” Ben coughed. “It looks like you’re still collecting Gand antiques.”

“Oh, the bracelet?” she beamed, raising her left arm and examining it. “I’m surprised you noticed.”

“Notice? Aviri, it screams out to be noticed. It basically defines a conversation piece.”

Aviri sniffed. “Maybe I wasn’t commenting on the bracelet... and rather about you noticing, given your indifference towards fashion?”

Ouch. Ben smiled. “And here I thought I’d gotten better?”

“Yes, of late you have managed to attain a somewhat polished... timeless look, sticking with solid colors with little embellishment. Ceremonial Jedi robes and military uniforms suit you well in this.”

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