Chapter Two

Eyebrows shifted upward in surprise following the Senator's admission; namely, Jedi Kenobi's and Knight Tachi's.

Jedi Attorney Tablis, however, seemed unaffected, and continued his interrogation.

"Tell us, Senator, what led you to such a defamatory conclusion?"

Across the gray marble sea, two pairs of eyes met, one brown, one blue, regarding one another with silent female criticism if not a touch of malice.

"I found Knight Tachi to be arrogant, rude, and essentially lacking the qualities I had come to expect from a Jedi."

"And what other experiences have you had with Jedi, Senator?"

"Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi came to assist me during my reign as Queen of Naboo."

"Due to the Trade Federation blockade," Jedi Tablis finished for her.

"Yes."

"During that time, and especially following the unfortunate death of Qui-Gon Jinn, did you and Padawan Kenobi develop something akin to a friendship?"

"I believe so," the young politician answered, a single brow raising in suspicion.

"What was this friendship based upon?"

"I'm afraid I don't understand."

"Let me rephrase the question," Tablis said as he leaned against the witness podium.

"What did you two have in common? What did you find to talk about?"

"I...uhm...I was sympathetic to the loss of his Master, for one thing. Qui-Gon Jinn was a great Jedi, and Obi-Wan loved him like a father. It was obvious to me, Obi-Wan was having difficulty in accepting his passing. We spoke at length about it."

"And what else?" Tablis prompted. "What else did you talk about?"

"His disappointment when the Jedi Council didn't allow him to take Anakin Skywalker as his Padawan."

"I see," the attorney pondered, stepping to the other side of the stand. "And what was the basis for the council's decision?"

"That Obi-Wan go through a mourning period before being able to train a Padawan." Senator Amidala answered. "Apparently, Master Yoda made the decision, and took Anakin to train himself."

"And Obi-Wan was upset with that decision?"

"Yes. Right before his Master's death, Obi-Wan had made a promise to his Master to train Anakin, and he ended up having to break that promise."

"You learned all this in the short time you spent with Knight Kenobi following Master Jinn's funeral on Naboo?"

"Not entirely," the senator explained. "Obi-Wan and I stayed up all night talking right before he returned to Coruscant. Afterward, for a period of about six months, we kept in touch. Following that, we only spoke to each other on rare occasions."

"Are you aware of what occurred to cease the regular communication between you and Knight Kenobi?"

"I'd always assumed it was because the Jedi Council paired him with Knight Tachi, and they were busy - as Jedi tend to be...most of the time."

Tablis smiled, correctly interpreting the slight sarcasm in the young politician's reply, although he immediately erased the cynicism from her expression with his next query.

"Were you in love with him?"

"I object!" Attorney Dougin rose from her seat, demanding the attention of the court. Up until this particular question, it appeared as if the High Justice was struggling to remain conscious. However, in light of the Jedi Attorney's probe about the possibility of this trial dealing with a crime of passion, Judge Nelvin had become much more alert. He may finally be ruling a case worthy of repeating to his wife when he returned home.

"On what grounds?" Nelvin asked.

"Relevance! Senator Amidala's feelings toward either Knight Kenobi or Knight Tachi is not in question here! This is a criminal trial regarding the Senator's kidnapping and attempted murder."

"Counsel?"

Jedi Attorney Tablis, with his hands clasped behind his back, his facial ridges pinching with concentration, paced before the witness stand two times before dealing with his colleague's interruption.

"I am merely trying to establish motive, Your Honor," the Klatooinian explained, pausing to make eye contact with the judge. "I believe there is much more going on than a consortium of violence. I believe there were other matters involved, such as strong human emotions, which the Senator lost control of. She is not as naive as she is trying to appear.

I believe," the attorney continued, once more taking up his pacing, his booted steps echoing about the chamber, until he came to a full stop in front of the witness stand, his focus entirely on the politician. "Padme Amidala has feelings for Knight Kenobi, may be in love with him in fact, and it was feelings of jealousy which sparked her hatred of Knight Tachi, especially after her discovery that Kenobi and Tachi were to be life-bonded. That knowledge sent her into a jealous rage and led to the creation of an elaborate plot designed to frame Siri Tachi and remove her from the Jedi and Obi-Wan Kenobi's life entirely."

"That's ridiculous!" Senator Amidala blurted out.

"Hold on, Tablis. That's going too far!" Knight Kenobi had risen from his seat and was glaring at his comrade. Tablis merely returned a look of disdain toward the Knight, before turning his gaze to his client, Tachi, who, if this reporter is not mistaken, seemed somewhat smug regarding this revelation.

Jarcho Nelvin pounded the black marble with his enormous fist, immediately settling the uproar. "I will have no chaos in my court! Knight Kenobi, take a seat!"

Obi-Wan Kenobi did as he was told, Tablis resumed his pacing, and the court quieted down, prompting Judge Nelvin to focus upon the witness. "Senator Amidala, you will answer the question."

The young woman's chest exposed above the extravagantly jeweled neckline of the gown she wore, rose and fell dramatically. It was obvious she was upset and finding it difficult to obey the command.

"At the time, I thought I was, yes," she replied quietly.

"And now?" Tablis continued to push for information, causing the Senator to clench her jaw. "Senator, are you currently in love with Knight Kenobi?"

The young woman made eye contact with the particular Jedi across the room before making her statement.

"Yes, I am."