(Author's Note: Again, machievelli wrote this installment. Bon appetit! )
“She won’t do,” Atton said.
“Why not?” Mira asked. She hated these Council meetings. She was a Jedi and a hunter, not a Master, blast it.
“She’s impulsive, argumentative, a total Skeez!” Atton snarled.
“Please.” Brianna said, raising a hand to get attention. As teacher of Te-rehal-Vor at the newly-reformed Dantooine Jedi Temple she was decisive, and her grasp of history was all-encompassing, but modern slang confused her.
“She said she’s Mar-tor Vaht.” Mira retorted in Echani.
Brianna looked confused. “She has an odd sense of humor?” she translated.
“Sense of humor!” Bao-Dur snorted. “She went from your stretching sessions to doing handstand push ups in the nude to further, worse practical jokes!”
“What kind of practical jokes?” Visas asked. The others looked at her as if she had been asleep rather than totally focused.
“Remember the gauntlet that decided to shoot the teachers rather than the students? The safe they had to crack that opened if they touched the door? The ambassadorial session that ended with a casualty list?”
Visas suddenly grimaced. She had been the one that had suggested the ambassadorial sessions. A big problem the Jedi had through history was understanding the logic of the different politicians and political philosophies, so she had suggested a gentle role-play. Each apprentice was to pretend to be from one of the factions or planets. They would be handed a crisis and then would have to argue that position as the real people would have.
All well and good, but one session had been the Mandalorians disputing a contract changed unilaterally by Candiral, an unaligned planet. The ‘Mandalorian’ had walked in, head-butted the ‘Candirali’ ambassador, then stood on his chest as she had made her demands. The judges had awarded her the victory regardless of her tactics.
“Ah. Her,” Visas said. “But who would be better?”
“As the old saying goes, there’s the rub. There’s only two possible people. Her and Brun.”
“Brun is stolid, dependable, and totally unimaginative,” Brianna protested.
“But he is the best of our new apprentices.” Atton commented. “He can learn to be less stiff and will learn to use his imagination if we give him a chance.”
“Then make it a contest,” Mira said. “Tell them both that one of them will be assigned to a single assignment, but only the winner of the contest.”
“What contest?” Visas asked.
“We haven’t decided on that yet, have we?” Mira smiled.
“What could it…” Bao-Dur looked at Mira’s grin, and the answering ones from Juhani, Brianna and Visas. “Oh, no. You are not going to do anything that crazy.”
“Why not?” Juhani asked as she walked in, followed by Sasha. The sixteen- year old girl was still slim, but hers was an athletic build with sleek, clean muscles. “They both love these ‘practical jokes’. Let them have a contest.”
“They’ll level the temple!”
Sasha giggled. Everyone looked at her, and her head ducked shyly.
“Well, little one, spit it out,” Juhani said with a gruff, loving voice.
“They both want to win.” The voice had a delicate accent of the Mandalorians, but it had been smoothed by the local Dantooine dialect. “So make it the first one to lose their temper loses the match.”
The older Jedi looked at each other. The grins began to spread.
Brun Carral slipped into the training room as the others were gathered at dinner. He’d been told by his Master, Bao-Dur, that he had to top Becca in a contest of practical jokes, and he had the perfect one planned. He picked up the control for the remotes and opened the back, using his micro-tool to make adjustments. Becca always came in and practiced deflecting laser bolts from the remotes at night, usually setting four to attack at once. This time they would be set at two-thirds power instead of one-quarter, and the last adjustment reset the control so it would not shut off until the target stopped moving, or destroyed all of them.
He left the last setting--not to shut off--until last. After all, he had to test it. He stood in the training circle, flipping on the control. Four remotes hummed to life, lifting from their niches, and slid forward. They moved smoothly into a circle around him and began to move in jerky evasive patterns. He waited patiently for one of them to shoot. There was a spray, and he ducked, nose filled with a pungent smell. Acid! But it fell on him, not even stinging. He ducked as another remote dived, clawing at the control and hitting the control key.
No--something did. Four more remotes activated and joined the others.
He leaped, trying to avoid another spray, his lightsaber leaping to hand. He swung, a remote shattering in midair as he frantically hit the control key again. All it did was send another four remotes into action.
“Becca, why are you here?” Scalli Devers asked. One of the ‘wild children’ saved by Mira and Bao-Dur the year before, Scalli was a small girl who would probably never be large, but she has astonished the Masters when a larger student had ended up embedded in a wall when she had thrown a Force Wave at him in practice. She had proven able to thread a needle from across the room with a thought, or rip a durasteel door apart with the same force.
“Where should I be, short stuff?” Becca asked, filling a plate with raw vegetables and then putting a large cup of dressing in the center.
“Down in the training room,” Scalli replied. “Isn’t it time for your practice?”
“What, and ruin Brun’s fun?” she asked. She took a sliced tuber, dipping it in the dressing. She took a remote control for the flat-screen view on the wall. “Which reminds me.”
The screen lit, and the students stared. The door of the control room opened, and Brun crossed the room surreptitiously, picking up the control.
“What is he doing?” a Twi'lek asked. Hansa, another of the wild ones.
“He’s trying to trick me.” Becca sat square in the center of the table, facing the screen. She picked up another slice, dipping it as Brun walked into the center and keyed the control.
They watched as the remotes circled and then began firing, not lasers, but streams of liquid. As they watched, another four, then yet another joined the melee.
“What are they shooting at him?” Hansa asked.
“Kath hound urine.” Becca replied.
“Last week when we were sent out to collect it for the farms to the south? To keep the grazers from eating the crops?” The others nodded. “Well, I kept a bit for my own purposes.” Instead of dangerous fences, the locals had decided to use the urine instead. By spraying it in a band half a meter thick around the crops, it would keep animals out of them. Becca dipped another slice. “About two liters.” She bit off the piece as yet another set of remotes joined the ones now swirling in a tight ball around Brun.
The worst of it was that a stream of liquid is not like a blade or blaster bolt. It lasted for a lot longer than any laser blast, and heating it, as happened passing through a lightsaber blade, merely filled the air with the steam of the same noxious liquid.
Another four joined as Brun succeeded in smashing the fourth remote. “Why does he keep trying to use the control?” Sarna asked. A student found in the undercity of Coruscant, he was adept with locks, puzzles and codes.
“Well, I set it so the first two times it would add another set.” Becca admitted. “But if he pushed it a third time, it will merely activate another set until there are no more.” She chewed thoughtfully. “This started taping ten minutes ago so I expect-” The doors exploded into scrap across the room. “-he’s done now.”
Except for Becca, everyone else flinched away from the horrid stench. There was nothing in the universe more pervasive when it came to horrid stench than heated kath hound urine. A strip would last a growing season without needing replacement. Now they understood why she had volunteered to spray two farms herself before returning.
“Nice cologne, Brun,” Becca said. Tossing the last section of vegetable slice into her mouth, then she rolled backwards off the bench as a lightsaber at full power sliced down through the tables she had been leaning against.
She came to her feet, crouched. Brun glared at her, face working with fury. “You-”
“Aw, come on. Can’t you take a joke?” she asked, backing away. He screamed, leaping forward as she turned, snatching up a full unsliced pie, and spun, throwing it at him as she dived aside. His blade hit, splitting it in half. But like the urine, a pie was not that hard. Instead of breaking and flying away, it flew on almost as if untouched, both halves smashing into his face. Brun stumbled forward, then fell as Becca’s kick scythed his legs from under him. She pinned his hand, lightsaber cutting into the floor as she punched him twice in the throat. He gasped, and she caught his lightsaber, shutting it off and then throwing it aside.
Brun caught her hair, raising a fist, then flew into the wall. Scalli stood there in a defensive crouch, glaring at the boy. He had always pushed her around because she was smaller, and it looked like turnabout was fair play.
“Fight fair, you Torgat!” she hissed.
There was a coughing sound, and everyone froze. Juhani stood at the door, arms crossed, looking at them with that same benign expression she had right before the hammer came down. She sniffed.
“Would anyone like to be the first to tell me a great big lie about what has happened?"