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Chapter 27

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Ben


Echo sounded a descending melody of beeps as Ben approached the Halcyon's flight deck, telegraphing his arrival to Daniah. Ben hated that sound, and the droid probably knew he hated it. Or perhaps Daniah had asked the droid to assign that sound to him. She did have a habit of holding grudges.

"Obi-Wan! What brings you here, oh mighty Jedi, to grace us with your presence?" Daniah's voice was thick with sarcasm.

"I'd like to ask the Captain's permission to use the intercom," Ben said sheepishly. "We're about to go under for our first training session, and I'd like to call everyone to order."

"Of course. You are welcome to it, Master Jedi." Daniah continued her mocking tone. "Though it's been a while since you've been aboard my ship. If you don't remember how to tap the buttons, Echo can walk you through it."

"Thanks, I've got it." Ben fumbled with the touch pad. "Attention, this is Commander Kenobi. Report to the crew quarters on the double. I expect everyone to be linked and in sim. Our first training session will begin in ten minutes."

Finished with the announcement, Ben turned to Daniah and said, "That includes you as well, Daniah."

"Oh, I'll be in sim. But careful Kenobi," she said with a wry smile, "rely on me too much and I'll double my fee."

I wouldn't put that past her. Ben stepped through the flight deck door and made his way to the crew quarters. He was almost there when he saw a line in front of the restroom, and decided to make a stop himself.

It was always a good idea to go before entering a sim. The sim would run for a couple of hours, and although the program would stop you from making a mess of yourself, nature's call would quickly turn to a scream ex-sim.

Thus relieved, Ben entered the quarters. A mil-spec sim cube lay in the center of the room, with wires nesting outwards to each of the bunks and spots on the floor. The wires led to white plastic shrouds that fit comfortably on the head, and automatically adjusted themselves for optimum placement on the skull.

As Ben made his way to his bunk, Specialist Aurelia Wenzlow leaned over and offered him a sim stim. When he refused, Aurelia looked at him non-comprehendingly.

"Jedi meditation," Ben explained. "No juice required."

"Must be nice," Aurelia commented. "I hate how tired the juice makes me." With that, she laid back and joined the sim.

Ben laid down on his bunk, placing his head on the shroud, feeling the plastic mold onto his head. His shroud was colored blue to distinguish it from the others. When he pressed the switch to enter the sim, his shroud monitored his brain waves to make certain that he was in the right meditative state.

He cleared his mind, focusing on his breath. In, out. In, out. Paradoxically, as his mind's processing speed increased, the slower his heart seemed to beat, and the greater the distance between each lungful of air.

The inky, red darkness behind his eyelids pooled and then coalesced. He found himself in-sim, standing in the center of a small auditorium style briefing room. Next to him, a large holoprojector shone a 3D image of the SKYE compound. All eyes were on him.

"By now, you are all familiar with the gist of the situation on the ground. The Righteous Flame, a terrorist organization led by Krul te Rosin, has captured SKYE headquarters. Over the next several hours leading up to the trial of Jerod and Lucinda Skywalker, Krul will try - and likely execute - more of the human hostages in his possession.

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