Chapter Five

Night in the Enclave. Nothing more than a quiet silence. The lights behind the wall were turned to bare minimum, barely giving off a glow. The quiet was comforting to Jaing. From his research on the early Jedi, he knew they almost never got quiet. Maybe it was one of the reasons they left the Republic five-hundred years ago. Maybe the Jedi of old just hated Coruscant. Maybe.

Jaing was up for two reasons: he was hungry; he couldn't sleep. Sleep would not come to him these days. For hours, he would lay awake in his bed, staring at the ceiling, or the wall, or a piece of furniture. He had managed to finish just about every project his instructor gave to him, doodle on every scrap of paper, and take three showers. And that was just in one night. This had been going on for weeks. Sometimes, he would pass into a light sleep that only made him more tired when he woke up.

So, in order to bypass his restless exterior, Jaing would go to the cafeteria and eat a fruit or something light. The work droids, who only shut down an hour to restore battery cells, always welcomed him graciously and asked if he would be bringing his friends with him, soon.

The word 'attitude bypass adjustment' rang through his head at the thought.

He had no trouble making his way down the halls and take a shortcut through the sparring room. He had used this way so many times lately, it had become a habit for him. He remembered coming this way once as a ten-year-old, scared by the dark shadows creeping up against the walls. His Master, Deca, had been ill with a stomach bug. In order to make him feel better every night, Jaing and Evlyn would take turns bringing his favorite meal or tea to his room early in the morning. After Deca had died during a solo mission, Jaing and Evlyn had been transferred to Brunaai's team, which included Jean and Devin.

Then Senior Council Member Vieux came into the picture. He had requested the four troublemakers for his Master/Padawan team, and boy was Jaing scared then. He still was. Vieux was probably the meanest, scariest guy around. Sure, the guy knew what he was doing, but Jaing had a sneaking suspicion Vieux was trying to kill them. Jean and Devin liked him, but they were a bit crazy in Jaing's opinion. Evlyn, at least, shared his point of view on the matter.

The thought of their new Master made Jaing's hair on the back of his neck stand up. What was the guy anyway? All this pathetic crap about the 'usual work' and so and so. Even the way the guy talked scared Jaing. The first time he had heard the words form in the back of his head, he was terrified. Vieux held strange and unknowable powers that even he probably didn't know. If Jaing had to do a report on something exciting, he would probably ask Vieux about one of his better missions… Or look up the legendary battle between Darth Caedus and Jaina Solo. He was sure it had been done before, though.

The door to the cafeteria was open, so Jaing stepped through. Rows upon rows of blue tables were in their usual places, and the room covered at least one-half of an acre. In the back was a kitchen the droids used to prepare the meals. There was a light behind the oval glass window.

Odd. The droids didn't need a light. Maybe one of the Jedi in the Enclave got the idea and got some food.

Jaing strode through the empty space in the middle, devoid of tables or chairs, and pushed open the door. "Hey, Six-Two, how's it—"

A callused hand covered his mouth. Instinctively, he bit down hard and brought his elbow back in a rib-crushing strike to the chest. He heard a hiss of breath escaping from his attacker's lungs, strangely familiar—"Idiot, stop! It's me!" It was barely above a whisper, but Jaing recognized the voice.

Jaing nodded, and Jean released him from her grasp, wiping her fingers on her tunic from where Jaing had bitten her. She held a finger, on a different hand, to her lips. Quiet. Jaing nodded in affermination. Jean's eyes were half-closed, concentrating—

The lights went out.

Jaing heard her gasp and realized she hadn't done that before he felt the brush of a sword against his exposed scalp. He twisted away, squinting in the darkness to see his opponent. He heard the whoosh of the sword swinging, and ducked even though it wasn't aimed for him.

Jean gasped in surprised pain. The next thing Jaing heard was a low masculine grunt of agony, then a crash of pots and pans. Heading to where he believed the intruder was, he managed to land a good kick on something resembling a face, and felt the crunch of breaking bone through his bare foot.

He must have completely crushed the man's nose.

Whoever it was cried out in pain. Something slammed into Jaing's chest, and he fell backward and into another unseen shelf… or was that the stove? Yes, by feeling around, he deduced it was the latter. He felt around for the switch, turned the thing on, and suddenly the whole room was in a reddish-purple light.

Their attacker, a middle-aged man with graying hair, was sporting a bloody, crushed nose and face, and lying on a shelving unit that carried boxes of dhuma fruit. He was clutching a sack of potatoes in one hand, almost certainly the thing he had hit Jaing with, and had a scared look about him. Jean was standing about three meters away. Her hair was wet and matted with something dark, and a trickle of blood spilled down her left cheek like tears. Her entire right sleeve had been cut open, revealing a very nasty-looking cut the man had given her. They were all breathing hard.

The man moved first. He got up with surprising speed and agility and ran towards the exit. Jaing and Jean followed close behind. Smiley, as Jaing was beginning to call him, hurdled over tables and threw chairs in their way. Jean ran up one table and jumped eleven feet in the air and came down gracefully in front of him. The man, unusually flexible, slid past Jean's outstretched arm and continued hopping up and down tables until he got within five tables between him and the exit.

Jaing, panting, ran as fast as his eighteen-year-old body would carry him. Opening himself up to the Force, he gestured at the man, and one of the bigger tables, reserved for Masters, kicked Smiley down sideways. Instead of falling spread-eagled on the floor, the man turned his descent into a roll by tucking in his right shoulder and coming up in a fighting stance.

Jaing caught up with Smiley and jumped foreword, tackling the man from the waist, bringing him down on the hard marble floor. He brought his arm back and started punching anything within his reach. Smiley in turn fought back. He managed to get on his knees with Jaing still holding him, and throw his head back. White fire burned Jaing's senses as both of their heads collided, but knew better than to loosen his grip. The man managed a half-turn and used his right fist as a battering ram, messing up Jaing's face as best he could, forcing him to let him go.

Jaing leaned to the right, out of the man's way. He sacrificed his hold for a moment to bring his arm around in a powerful left-hook to the man's jaw.

They continued like that for a while, blind from the near-darkness. Jean was running towards them, and from the other side of them, Jaing heard the snap-hiss of a lightsaber. Five snap-hisses.

Rescue had come. Jaing let go and flipped backwards. Smiley, surrounded by five angry, sleep-deprived Jedi, spat in the nearest person's direction.

Bad idea.

The nearest person happened to be Jedi Knight Ahlan, one of the more maverick Jedi in the Enclave. His green blade flashed, and Smiley howled in pain. Ahlan's strong face and black hair were illuminated in the light of the lightsabers' glow. A quick glance showed that Evlyn was one of them. Her magenta blade hummed, matching the angry tone that was probably running through everyone's mind.

Two service droids wheeled out from behind Gatemaster Hann, and clutched Smiley's hand in a deathgrip with their human-like steel hands. Three Jedi marched with the droids towards the MedBay, while the other two, Evlyn and Brunaai, remained. Brunaai, their old Master, cast a look over the room and cursed. He grabbed Jaing's shoulders. "Are you okay?" he asked. He shook Jaing roughly. "Are you okay?"

"A few cuts and bruises," he replied.

"You, turn on the lights," Brunaai order Evlyn. As the pale marble lighting flickered on, Jaing could see Brunaai's worried, almost maniac expression. Looking around, he noticed how much damage they had caused: a table was split down the middle, blood was marked on the floors… The kitchen was probably in worse shape. A vibrodagger lay in the middle of the floor. Jean's shoulder was cut open, not very deep, but blood was trickling down her face in rivers, and her leggings were almost soaked in it. Jaing probably didn't look so good himself. Brunaai clicked his tongue twice at their appearance. "To the Master's quarters," he said crisply. "You! Go turn off the stove in the back. Wake the rest of the students. Code Grey."

Evlyn nodded. With a quick glance at Jaing, she took off. With the adrenaline finally wearing off, Jaing realized how sore he was. He needed to sit down

Brunaai and Jean caught him as he fell. "Gently, gently," his old Master said. "Lean on me. It is not safe for you two to go into the MedBay. To the Master's quarters… yes, the Master's quarters…"

Brunaai continued talking to himself the rest of the way there.