Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away
   

The Road to Rediscovery
Part 10 - Missing the Kinrath

Jolee wandered.

Ever since he returned from the Illisurevimurasi Sector three days ago, he had been doing a lot of wandering. He wandered the great halls, admiring the artistry. Though, the immense pillars that so many admired only reminded him of how works by sentient hands can never compare to the wonders of nature. He missed the great wroshyr trees.

He wandered through the practice levels, though he rarely picked up a saber to practice himself. He watched the younglings practice, and even some of the not-so-young Jedi as well. He caught himself critiquing the holes in their form. “Since when did you become a saber instructor, Jolee?” he muttered to himself and moved on. “You've seen Ev and Juhani try to whip those Sith kids into shape. You don't have the patience for that, you old geezer.”

He wandered down the long halls lined with meditation chambers, sensing whatever was on the air. He did not go into those either. Quiet meditation had never been Jolee's style. He was drawn to those halls because they felt so alive, packed tight with Jedi trying to figure out themselves, the Force, and the universe.

He wandered through the numerous temple gardens, admiring Nomi's handiwork. She really had done a fantastic job of livening up the stone and steel temple. All the same, the cute little gardens were nothing compared to the vast wildness of Kashyyyk.

He wandered through the mess halls, enjoying the smells and the chatter. Rowdy younglings did sound a little bit like restless tachs. Crazy little monkeys, all of them. In the mess halls, he did stop and snack a while. He appreciated the good food he did not have to cook himself and the variety of ingredients beyond what could be scavenged in the Shadowlands without unknowingly baiting a terentatek into your backyard.

He wandered through the library, occasionally popping a holodisk into his reader. Jolee remembered being in awe of the vastness of the Jedi library as a child, but now it seemed no more special than any other place in the huge Jedi Temple. So much of what was housed in the library was history—history he had lived through himself or read about as a youngling. Current reports on the war with the Sith did interest him, though. Now that the war was winding down, there were few of those to be had. What few there were, Jolee had to fight for them with younglings who were all a little too excited about war.

He wandered through the medical ward, sometimes offering a hand. There was usually not much need for a hobbyist healer like himself among all the dedicated Jedi Healers of the temple.

Jolee left the temple and wandered the neighborhood around it. He had already found some not-so-shady dives where a Jedi could get some not-so-shady food and drinks and be left to himself.

As he wandered the residential halls, he almost caught two apprentices in the middle of a prank. The pair of boys scurried along the corridor, giggling and huddled together over a can of vibroblade grease, “We'll put this on the bottom of Jogy's boots before saber practice. Then we'll really see some fancy footwork!” Jolee could have caught them. He did not want to. He only wished he could be there to see the result on their unfortunate victim. Half of him wanted to call up Visto Cafran and suggest that they put grease on the bottom of Atris' boots, but Visto was on the other side of the planet mediating discussions or some-such. Official Jedi business. Besides, they were getting to old for mischief like that.

Even so, the idea of Atris slipping down a long set of stairs and landing on her bottom, perfect white robes in a knot, did make Jolee snicker gleefully. Maybe he would have to tell Visto about that one anyway. Who said they needed to act on it?

He wandered through the center section of the temple with half a mind to go down to the saber practice level to see if he could catch the spectacular results of those boys' prank. Suddenly, he felt a familiar intense knot of anger descending rapidly through the temple. No, he corrected himself, an angry person coming down that lift, probably from the council chambers. He could bet he knew just who it was.

A mellow ding sounded and the lift doors slid open. Ev stomped off looking as angry as he had ever seen her.

Jolee lengthened his stride to catch up with her. “You look like you've been talking with the Jedi Council again,” he observed, teasing.

Ev turned to him and stopped. “Oh, Jolee. I just—argh!” she fumed and threw her hands into the air.

“That bad, huh?” Jolee asked.

“Jolee, you know that there are hardly a hundred of us left after this war,” she started vehemently, “The Sith may as well have won for what they did to the Jedi Order. Anyway, I was looking at the numbers, the current Jedi census, and there are easily twice as many apprentices as Jedi. Half those Jedi already have padawans, so we're talking a couple hundred kids who don't have a chance at ever getting a master, even if the older padawans get knighted right now and take a padawan of their own immediately. What are we going to do? Ship off all these perfectly capable kids, the future of the broken Jedi Order, to agricorps?”

“Give more than one padawan to each master, like we did in the good old days,” Jolee suggested.

“That's what I said!” Ev exclaimed, exasperated. “I keep thinking about all those Korriban and Manaan kids that we brought in. They're all great kids, working hard with the honest dream of becoming a Jedi to atone for what they almost became. But, as it stands now, they don't stand a chance of ever getting picked as a Padawan.”

“I bet Atris is still giving her 'It was through flawed teaching styles like this that so many students fell to the Dark Side during the Great Sith War' katarn dung now, isn't she?” Jolee was all too familiar with frustrations along that line from another old friend of his.

“Atris and half the council!” Ev spat. “How can they continue like they've been doing and expect the Jedi Order to recover?”

“It sounds like a lot of trusting-in-the-Force-instead-of-actually-doing-something hooey,” Jolee asserted.

Ev looked over her shoulder at the lift doors. “Great, they're coming down,” she groaned, “I'm going to go take a shower. See you later, Jolee.” She was gone even before Jolee could say his own goodbyes.

“Young people these days,” Jolee grumbled out of habit, “Always rushing from one place together.”

Ev was right. Moments later, the doors of the second lift slid open with another pleasant ding.

Vrook Lamar, the old Gotal Kronn Hakkes, Atris, both Nomi and Vima Sunrider, and a Bimm woman in sunny yellow robes that he didn't recognize strode importantly off the lift.

Still standing directly in their path, Jolee could not help himself. “If I didn't know better, I'd swear you lot get some pleasure out of giving Ev a hard time,” he said with a wicked twinkle in his eyes.

“Well, Bindo, I am glad you know better,” Atris cut back coolly. She moved to walk around him, but Jolee side-stepped into her path.

“You all lecture her on keeping her anger under control,” he continued, feeling the momentum building, “And then you get her hopping mad every time you chat with her. Have a little sensitivity to a woman's needs!”

“What she needs is a little more sensitivity to her own needs and not to those issues which she has no business getting into,” Master Hakkes pronounced gruffly and brushed by Jolee.

“Maybe she's right about a few things. Admit it,” Jolee baited.

“That may be true, but those are not the issues we are concerned about, Knight Bindo,” Atris snapped and finally got around him. As she swept away down the hall, Jolee seriously considered grease on her boots for the second time that afternoon.

“At least listen to her once in a while,” Jolee demanded, “She's sharp as lightsaber, that one. She was Revan, for Ossus' sake!”

“And that is exactly why we must carefully weigh everything she says,” Vrook said, still standing in the doorway of the lift. “You know as well as we do what she was.”

“And what she could become if you gave her space,” Jolee shot back.

“Exactly,” Vrook replied and turned to go.

“We must trust in the Force to guide us through this difficult situation,” the Bimm said calmly, following after Vrook.

“I've seen Wookiees make better arguments than that!” Jolee declared, “And I don't mean the threatening and roaring kind.”

“You are hre supporter, Jolee Bindo,” Vrook turned and added, “and that makes you blind to her dangers. Ev cannot be trusted.”

“You're as bad as Carth!” Jolee exclaimed, glaring at their backs as they retreated. “Worse, even!”

As soon as the Jedi Masters were out of ear-shot, Vima and Nomi burst out in stifled laughter.

Jolee turned on them. “What?” he asked sharply, but he was already grinning.

“I would say, 'you as bad as Jolee Bindo,' but I realize that I am finally presented with the genuine article,” Nomi laughed, eyes dancing.

“I see how it is,” Jolee laughed.

“Good for you,” Vima commended, “Some of the Jedi on the council need their feathers ruffled now and then.”

“It really has been too long, Jolee,” Nomi said warmly, walking to his side. “We missed you here. Wise-cracks aside, your moral compass has never once wavered.”

“Don't get fancy on me, Nomi,” Jolee warned, “That's just some way of telling me that I'm right about Ev, isn't it?”

She nodded lips pursed.

“It's good to hear that at least someone on the council is thinking sense,” Jolee muttered.

“Not everyone agrees on everything these days,” Vima said quietly. Thankfully there were few near by to overhear her. “These are difficult times.”

“Jolee, I have been so busy since you returned,” Nomi admitted, “We should catch up some time.”

“How about this afternoon? I'll buy you a drink,” Jolee offered mischievously.

“Jolee!” Nomi exclaimed, slapping him playfully on the shoulder.

Vima giggled.

“No, I'm serious,” Jolee replied defensively, “I know of this half-way-decent dive called Goodvalor's Little Bivoli a couple blocks from the temple.”

“That restaurant owned by the Snivvian war hero?” Vima asked.

“You know what?” Nomi started, a smile playing across her finely wrinkled face, “I will make time. Vima, can you handle that lecture on outer-rim diplomacy for me this afternoon?”

“Sure,” she nodded, “I have nearly as much experience in that as you do, Mother.”

“Well then,” Nomi grinned, “You and I have a date, Jolee.”


“I still can't get over seeing you as the Grandmaster, Nomi,” Jolee said. The two elderly Jedi sat together at a small table in the back corner of Goodvalor's Little Bivoli. Jedi always received first-class service here. There were already drinks and some finger chips set out on the table for them.

“Jolee, I was elevated to that position not long after you left the Order,” Nomi pointed out.

“Huh,” Jolee nodded and took a gulp of his drink, “That would make you one of the youngest Grandmasters in history. I always knew you had great stuff in you.”

“One of the youngest, yes,” she nodded. “And now I am Grandmaster for life. Sometimes I don't think I am cut out for it, though.”

“Aw, come on,” Jolee joshed, “With the Force on your side and your good looks, it can't be so hard keeping reigns on all us Jedi.”

Nomi leaned back in her chair and took a long swallow of her Corellian Bombshell Sunrise. “These are hard times, Jolee,” she said slowly, “The Jedi Order is broken into pieces. Aside from those that left us for the Sith, there are factions among the Jedi; conservative and more liberal. Public opinion of us is so low, that we may as well be Sith ourselves. Are numbers are down lower than they have been in countless centuries and we are in danger of dying out if something does not change soon. I have ideas, but putting them in motion is more difficult than it should be.”

“You're the kriffing Grandmaster of the Jedi Order,” Jolee pointed out, “How is it that you can't get your stuff done?”

“The factions,” Nomi started. She took a bite of one of the fried potatoes and chewed thoughtfully. “I can guide the council to a decision, but I cannot overrule a negative vote myself. Too many of the long term members of the council are afraid of change.”

“As the whole galaxy is changing right beneath their noses!” Jolee said.

“We will do what we must, in one way or another, to adapt,” Nomi promised, “The Council meets almost every day now.”

“Don't let all this responsibility eat you alive, Nomi,” Jolee urged sincerely.

Nomi cracked a smile. “I promise,” she replied, “I won't. I have been through far worse. What have you been up to anyway, Jolee?”

“Shouldn't the Grandmaster know where she sends her Jedi?” Jolee teased.

Nomi laughed, “You know I can't keep track of all the Jedi, even with so few of us left. Though I am ashamed to say that I cannot even keep close track of an old friend like yourself.”

“Well, since I got back from the campaign in the llisurevimurasi Sector, I've been doing a whole lot of nothing,” Jolee complained. “Now that we've got Mirilal back, there's not much left for me to do.”

“I thought you would like a bit of relaxing after being at the front for so long,” Nomi said innocently, her eyes dancing, “Especially at your age.”

“Sure, call the geezer a geezer,” Jolee shot back in good humor, “You, old lady, are only five years younger than I, if my deteriorating noggin is remembering everything right.”

Nomi laughed again, “I think you're right.”

“Any jobs coming up that you need a cranky old Jedi like me for?” Jolee asked.

“You could take a padawan,” Nomi suggested.

“That's not what I meant,” Jolee replied dryly.

“I know,” Nomi shrugged, “But it is a job that needs to be done. We have too many children to train, as I'm sure Ev told you.”

“Why don't you take one?” Jolee asked pointedly.

“I intended to, and soon,” Nomi said firmly. “After Ev's display today, I want to set an example for the Council and other Jedi in the order who do not currently have a padawan to train. She is right. It really is vital that we train up all of our students to ready them for the rough future we have ahead of us as an Order.”

“Stop looking at me like that,” Jolee said and irritably stuffed several more finger chips into his mouth.

“Jolee, I'm serious,” Nomi pressed, “You really should take a padawan.”

“You don't want that any more than I do,” Jolee retorted, “I'd ruin them with my crazy talking and un-Jedi-like ideas. That is something I'm too old for. I don't want to keel over and die before I finish training them. I finish what I start, dammit, so I won't start something I can't finish.”

Nomi sat back in her chair and sighed. “You just don't want kids around disturbing your routine,” she observed.

“And that too,” he nodded firmly, unyielding.

“Fine,” Nomi submitted, “I know you can't be made to do anything you don't want to.”

“Not a Mon Cal's chance on Tatooine,” Jolee shot back, stubbornly but fondly.

“That is, unless a certain former Sith Lord entreats you,” Nomi hummed with a twinkle in her eyes.

“Don't go there, Nomi,” Jolee shot back, “That's damned manipulation! That's what it is.”

“I know she could get you to do it,” Nomi let the threat hang. She ventured, “Then what do you want to do now?”

“I want to get out of here and do something useful,” Jolee replied, “There's too many people, too many Jedi, too much noise.”

“The few military tours that are still in progress yet have already been assigned to Jedi Guardians with a little more youth and combat strategy experience than you,” Nomi started.

“There you go, calling me a wrinkly old geezer again,” Jolee teased.

“You and me both, Jolee,” Nomi laughed. “Old Consulars like us have no business being at the front any more.”

“Unless they need your Battle Meditation again,” Jolee pointed out.

“Bastila is more than capable of filling that role for me for now,” Nomi asserted.

“Just don't tell her that,” Jolee warned, half-jokingly, “That spitfire has enough ego issues as it is.”

“That brings to mind,” Nomi paused thoughtfully, “Jolee, did you ever have any training as a Watchman?”

“No,” Jolee replied curtly.

“Do you think you could handle being one?” Nomi asked, “The war has put us in a bind for Jedi Watchmen. So many have died or been pulled elsewhere for more active duties.”

“Where are you talking?” Jolee asked, sitting up straighter.

“I don't think we have anyone in the are of the Mytaranor sector,” Nomi replied thoughtfully.

“Mytaranor,” Jolee echoed. Then it hit him, “You sly felinx! That's Kashyyyk's sector!”

“Along with Trandosha, Chamble, and Ota, among others,” Nomi nodded.

“Not a pretty bunch,” Jolee commented.

“Because we are stretched so thin, you could be called on to assist in the neighboring sectors as well,” Nomi added. “That is, if you accept.”

“Accept? Of course I do!” Jolee slammed his fist on the table jubilantly. The dishes rattled.

“I will have to bring it to the Council, of course,” Nomi warned him, “But I doubt there will be many objections to any reason sending you away from the temple.”

Jolee laughed heartily. “I owe you another one, Nomi,” he said.

“You took me out for my first drink since this never-ending war started,” she replied, “Call it even.”

- Next Part -


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