Chapter 45, Part 1

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Jerod Skywalker held Lucinda close, sniffing the aroma of her hair, warming her hands with his hands. No matter what the future held, he would do anything to protect her. Any moment now, the guards - his former employees - would come to take them to their "trial."

He felt so powerless, and it was a feeling he could not get used to, not when his wife's life depended on him. Now that he was in need, no one had lifted a finger. All the politicians who owed him favors, and no one had come to their aid. All the charity, and no one to rescue the donor.

The door slid open, and Krul stepped calmly through the doorway. "I've come to escort you to your trial. Both of you." Krul explained. "Before the conquest of the Sith, Rodians believed that a marriage is a union of values and of action, not simply of assets. Spouses were legally responsible for each other's actions. So many of the old ways were lost, and today, we begin the long path to redemption."

"A long and blood-stained path then, Krul, filled with the skulls of your enemies?" Lucinda challenged.

Krul held up his hand, his tapir-like snout parting a smile. "Let us save the the rest for the holovids." He pointed at the Skywalkers, giving direction to the door guards. "Bind them and bring them after me."

At this moment, Jerod desperately yearned to attempt a final brave escape. It took all his willpower to allow the guards to bind his hands with dermaplast, despite the fact that their chances were next to nil, and despite his promise to Lucinda that they would stand strong against Krul. As the dermaplast took hold on his skin, there was now no more turning back.

They trudged through the doorway, guards in front and guards in back. Krul led the way down the hall towards the stairway. As they passed the stairway door, one of the guards spat in Jerod's face. As he rubbed the stinking drool off his cheeks with his sleeves, he heard the guard spit again, probably on Lucinda. He tried to turn his head to see her when a rifle butt smacked him between the shoulder blades. "Eyes forward, cajala chupa," the guard hissed.

Shaking his head, Jerod focused his thoughts inward, steeling himself against the insults, jeers, spit and trash thrown his way as they descended the staircase. There was no chance for escape. It was how they acted in these final moments that mattered. Dignity, fearlessness, and determination. These were the qualities the galaxy would see. They would expose Krul for the crazed, murderous tyrant that he was.

And then Jerod was in front of a pool of light, with two metal chairs in the center. The crowd's din was deafening, calling out "Cajala chupa en choon nana soota!" Krul gestured generously for Lucinda and he to take a seat. His feet were leaden, but Jerod did his best to project confidence as he was marched to the metal chairs and strapped in. A precaution, Jerod surmised, that had more to do with holding him still for whatever method of execution Krul had planned for him, than for the safety of the audience.

Holostream droids encircled them, whizzing about, seeking out closeups, finding dramatic angle after dramatic angle. Krul stepped into the circle of light, and held out his hands to silence the crowd.

"There are times in our lives where the evils we confront are obvious: fighting off an invading army, protecting our home from an armed robber, inoculating ourselves from an infectious disease. It is easy to rally around these causes, and though they demand our courage, once the danger passes we gratefully hearken back to normalcy.

Yet there are more insidious evils, the evils of the everyday, the evils that destroy our spirit and suck the marrow from our bones though we still wake every day and kiss our children, tottering onward like corpses in a living graveyard. These evils are the evils of omission, watching our neighbors succumb to creeping poverty, watching miners slowly die from paper lung disease, watching demonstrators be rounded up and forever silenced by the autori, not realizing that we too are the poorer for it.

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