Theed; I am long unused to this opulence. It rained in the near past, a rain that now lies as a fine layer over the paving stones. The queen's entourage sloshes through this, ignoring it. Leia is imperturbed and I bored, but only on the surface where I must be stoic for presentation.

"The Republic is pleased to be honored by your people." Leia says quietly.

The woman at the forefront, a young human smiling with her cheeks framed in feathers, nods graciously. "Thank you. And you personally, Princess--I hope your visit to the palace is comfortable."

She beckons to her own group. Leia, C-3PO, Min Fsaid, the Noghri and I follow.

There is a voice in the ornate halls. Its psychic consistency is like old blood; splashed first, than soaked into the stone. I keep at a relaxed watchfulness, because the traces are old but of spreading consequence. In certain places there are words, maybe, of thoughts and not of mouth.

"Fire...I'm not fulfilling my purpose...retaliation! Impact...scourge of the stars! ...systemmaster!"

I am not surprised, because the Force can not be.

The bodyguard stint gets boring really quickly. I will speak of public support of the Jedi in the next few days and sessions--Naboo has a peaceful, high-minded populace that will probably support the praxeum and Leia's various economic entreaties.

They give me a room in a guest wing, an almost empty place without the severity of Coruscant. The academy would have to be on a livelier planet--which Naboo is, but not at the moment, from my point of view. The possibility will be explored.

I hear the voice again that night. Noiseless somehow, but with character. It says hateful things like teenage poetry as I try to go to sleep.

"I'll spare he who has nothing to do with me!...impatience...subservient, yes. And forgotten!" There comes with this last a wash of something, pure dark-side power of a leprous sort. I can't stay still.

I give up rest and understanding, pull my overcloak on and walk out. My skin feels livid compared to the cool air and darkness. There is a guard in the distance with a crested headpiece. I call to him. "Hey!" echoes.

He turns and comes nearer. "Sir?"

"Did you hear something just now, like a voice?"

"No sir. Nothing."

How can that be? It echoed in the walls like my voice! I move as if to backhand the man, swift, and hold him to the wall with the Force. Energy moves on my command, twisting like a captured worm. It is unfamiliar, and so easy. The guard stammers, to surprised and peace-softened to reach for his blaster.

I release him, sated by harsh reality, and hurriedly return to my room uncertain of what I am thinking, nearly collapsing with relief. Now I can sleep as if life-energy has been leeched away.