by Robert Morganbesser

Chapter Four

The planet was one of crystalline beauty. It's inhabitants; centuries old had raised great crystal cities that glistened in the light of their sun. Split into three separate but equal castes of workers, warriors and the guardians of thought, the religious caste, they were one of the oldest space-going races in their reality. A reality which, the three leaders of the religious caste were well aware, was being intruded upon by outsiders at a time when such an intrusion was not only unwelcome, but extremely dangerous.

The man looked young, even with a beard, but his eyes held a calm and wisdom worthy of a Minbari of the religious caste. He stood before one of them, recently returned for consultation, without fear or aggression. While he looked like a human, it was clear that he was not. He was more than that.

Delenn, chosen to speak to this stranger who had appeared in the temple of memory after an unusually strong magnetic storm had played havoc with the planets defense systems, tried not to stare at the man. But the ease of his body, the calmness in his face, drew her eyes to him. "I am Delenn, I have been sent to speak with you."

The man took a breath then held out his right hand, palm facing her in a gesture of peace. "I am Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight. I mean no harm to you or your people."

Delenn made a motion to the small table and chairs that the acolytes of her order had set up. On it was a carafe of water and two glasses, all of intricate crystal manufactured only on Minbar. "Would you care for some refreshment? I assure you, there is nothing wrong with it."

Kenobi smiled, "Thank you. I would have known if there were."

Delenn stopped, taken by his absolute self-confidence. There was an aura about this man that could almost be felt. As he sat, he poured for both of them, then waited until she sat before he drank.

"How did you get here, Mr. Kenobi?" Delenn was unsure of what honorific to use, since it was clear he was not from Terra.

"Please, just call me Obi-Wan." He set down the glass. "I was in pursuit of a Sith lord, a being known as Darth Chengyi. I chased him through one of the power cores of the planet Coruscant and then I was here."

"Darth Chengyi? I have never heard of such a name. What did this being look like?"

"Grey skin, dark eyes that do not reflect light. He is a Lodisian, from a world in rebellion against the republic I serve. But I feel that I am far from it now."

Delenn sipped at her water. "No such being has appeared here or we would know about it. What is a Sith, may I ask?"

Kenobi sat back, wondering how to answer. Should he speak of the all-living Force, the thing that made his being a Jedi possible? He decided to keep things simple. "The Sith are the enemies of the republic I serve. They are insurrectionists who seek to rule through fear and terror. But I sense that you are undergoing a period of instability here, as well."

Delenn was taken aback. How could he know this? Delenn rose. "Could I ask you to wait here a moment while I speak to the rulers of Minbar?" Delenn was hoping not to insult the stranger, but her people limited their interaction with offworlders, as they had for centuries.

"Yes, certainly."

As Delenn left, Obi-Wan could feel a strange presence, not a Sith, but something as dangerous. Rising, he strode to the window that overlooked a great waterfall. The waters glistened under the dark Minbar sky, reflecting the afternoon sun off the crystalline cliffs that the waters poured from.

Kenobi spun one hand on his light saber. "I know you're here. Show yourself."

A creature appeared then, multi-legged and menacing; it's dark skin seeming to absorb the light around it. In an instant the Jedi's saber was in his hand, ignited and ready for use. The creature raised its forelegs in a threatening manner while several banks of eyes glowed to life. The lowest two of the eyes appeared to be mechanical, perhaps cybernetic. Kenobi stood his ground, raising one hand. The creature was startled to feel itself being pushed back against its will. It set its back legs and stopped itself, but only momentarily. With an enraged shriek, it leaped forward to where Kenobi waited.

But he was there no longer. With blinding speed he moved aside, bringing up his light blade. It hummed as it passed through two of the creatures legs, sending them spinning off smoking, while yellowish red drops of ichor dripped onto the clean crystal floor.

PAIN! The creature's mind screamed to it. It couldn't remember a time in its racial memory when one of these apelings had injured one of its kind. Kenobi took a more aggressive stance now, moving his body in time with the feinting creature.

The dark, insect like thing moved forward clumsily, it's balance thrown off by the loss of two legs. Kenobi sighed inwardly, hoping to speak to the creature, but he saw now that it's rage was all encompassing and all it wished for was his death.

So be it, the thought and brought the blade up and down twice. The creature screamed at the first cut, losing three more legs. Like the lowest pair of eyes, one of these legs was mechanical; the parts imbedded in the organic material. Then its pain was over as the Jedi thrust his blade deep into its brain case, destroying it.

Kenobi turned to see Delenn flanked by two black-clad Minbari, weapons drawn, standing with open amazement on their faces. Deactivating his saber, he holstered it and said, "I take it this is part of your problem?"

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