Chapter 7

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Ben Kenobi closed his eyes, and four rocks rose off the ground. Concentrating, he moved them in concentric rings around his body. He worked hard to make the spacing between the rings equidistant, while alternating each rock’s direction of motion: clockwise, counterclockwise, and so on. With the rocks in place, he turned up the volume on a newscast.

"...the SKYE trials' holostream was disrupted by a hacktivist known as 'DarthPwnage.' Warped holofootage made terrorist leader Krul te Rosin look like Uvitaro, the demon from a popular Rodian kids' show..."

Clever fool. In trying to discredit the trials, DarthPwnage's sabotage had led to the execution of two SKYE employees. Who did he think he'd been dealing with? Distracted, Ben lost control of a rock, which shot towards one of the meditation chamber's walls. He caught it with the force before it struck and brought it back into position.

At least DarthPwnage tried to disrupt Krul's plans. More than just move around rocks, anyway. Ben made the rocks oscillate vertically up and down in a pillar of motion, while maintaining their concentric, yet alternating rotations.

"Terrorist leader, Krul te Rosin, has announced the next trial will be begin at 18:30, zone 8 Rodian time, or roughly 22:17 galactic standard time.” Three hours until the next one? Krul was spacing these out more than Ben had anticipated. He must want his audience to chew on what he’d revealed about SKYE’s medical screening procedures. “The next victim or defendant remains unidentified. Will it be a prominent member of SKYE’s upper management, perhaps even board members Lucinda and Jerod Skywalker?"

The Skywalkers. Role models for aiding floundering alien economies. Targeting them seemed like an awful choice for Krul, alienating those who might otherwise sympathize with his cause.

Did he need prominent people to captivate a galactic audience, or did the miners plan to run the Skywalkers through the mud by revealing some nefarious secret? Or did the Skywalkers symbolize what these fanatics saw as wrong with the galaxy?

Ben recalled that one of the Skywalker sons had begun but not completed Jedi training. Was he too held captive? Sadly, the order could guarantee no protection to its own members, let alone dropped out initiates.

 "Rodian officials refuse to discuss details of how they might rescue the remaining hostages. Premier Mubatoo cautioned that disclosure of information could disrupt rescue efforts, and added in his recent rousing speech that--” The news reporter’s voice faded, giving way to a sound clip from the Premier himself.

"I have no illusion to the fact that a tough job -- a long job -- lies before us. But I am confident this hostage situation can be resolved through fruitful negotiations, and if needed, military force. We've already made some headway with Krul releasing many hostages. Fathers, mothers, and children returned safely to their families. I am committed, with deep-seated determination, to see the rest freed. You have my word. So what can you do? Many of you will be tempted to watch these trials. Remember that Krul is a poor, perverse and desperate man. Do not let his selective rewriting of our proud history and culture cloud..."

Typical politician vying for time and saving face. Ben turned off the news report in disgust. An eloquent politician, Mubatoo's words smokescreened the government's inaction. Of course, the Premier took credit for the recent release of hostages, while failing to mention that they were all non-human. Krul planned their release all along. The Premier's administration had nothing to do with it. The Rodian state would not subdue Krul te Rosin; it enabled him. He bet DarthPwnage knew that too. This would end badly.

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