Meet Adriaan and the Wicked Club
An hour later, Kan was still in the same spot, by the fountain, where his Master had left him. He stared up at the ceiling, deaf and blind to the world around him. He had a lot of thinking to do. All that Ruru had told him spun around in his head. He was starting to get a headache from thinking so much.
Knowing the reasons why he was being left behind didn't take away his fury, not entirely. Kan felt that there was a deeper reason why he was being left out. He went over and over all the things he had done in his lifetime, looking for anything that would cause him to lose favor with the Council.
The problem was, he had never done anything really bad, at least bad enough for the Council to demote him like this. From as far as he could remember, he had always been on time for classes, he did his homework, and he worked hard. He had never gotten a reprimand or suspended or anything. So what was the problem?
Nothing. He wasn't the only one being left behind. So it had nothing to do with him. He was just being thickheaded. It wouldn't be the first time.
Kan struggled to turn his mind elsewhere. It wasn't any good to dwell on thoughts like these.
The new development in the Senate ––– Chancellor Palpatine given emergency powers. He struggled to make sense of it. The Senate had always been to decide things on their own. It took a ridiculous amount of time for them to agree on anything, but it was still the key to keeping stability in the galaxy. Or had it? Now it was beginning to break up, with the Separatists leaving and all. And the Chancellor was very popular among the people ––– they had insisted that he remained in office after his term expired. And the Senate was beginning to feel helpless. No wonder they turned to this man to protect them, to make the decisions for them. But was Palpatine the right man for the job? The Council had seemed disturbed, but Kan had assumed it was because of Obi-Wan. Now he wondered. What if it was the exchange of power that was worrying them?
He frowned. Well, whatever was making the Jedi worried, it wasn't his business to know. After all, his mission was to sit here patiently and wait for some high-and-mighty Jedi to remember him. Frustrated, he shook himself, causing the water to cascade off him in torrents.
Suddenly, a high peal of laughter echoed across the space. Kan leaped to his feet at the sound. "Oh no," a silvery voice said, not sounding in the least distressed, "Windu isn't going to be happy about water puddles on his ship."
A long-legged, graceful figure materialized in front of him, and it threw a dark hood off its head, releasing a waterfall of golden hair. It was a girl, and she was very young, about seventeen or eighteen ––– the age of an Apprentice ––– but Kan couldn't see the traditional braid Padawans wore on her shoulder. Her eyes were bluish gray and large, and her face looked wistful and sad, which contrasted sharply with her hearty grin.
"Ex ––– excuse me," Kan stammered. "I didn't know you were here, honest. I'm really sorry."
The girl laughed again. "There's nothing to be sorry about," she said. "I was wet anyway."
"Oh, um." Kan suddenly felt awkward. He had no idea who, and what, this ethereal woman was. "Pardon me, but who are you?"
"Who am I?" she asked. "Well, for starters, I am a Jedi Knight." She stuck out her hand. "Master Adriaan ell Talaan at your service. However, I would prefer that you cut out all the formalities and call me Adriaan," she added. "I think Master ell Talaan sounds weird."
"A Jedi Knight?!" Kan almost fell over in astonishment. "But, but you look –––"
"––– Like a kid," Adriaan finished cheerfully. "Yes, in a manner of speaking, I am a kid. I'm only eighteen years old, which means I just became an adult. But to tell you the truth, it doesn't feel any different."
Something pricked Kan's memory. A story he had once heard, while he had been a Youngling. "Oh, I think I remember something," he said. "About a year ago, an Apprentice got knighted. She was about sixteen years old, I think. I believe she did something on a mission that really impressed the Council, so much that they let her take on knighthood early. Was that you?"
She nodded. "Yep, that's me, all right. I don't see what impressed them, though. It was my friend, Darc Chun-be, that they were interested in. They wanted to speed up the time it took an Apprentice to become a knight, and they nominated Darc to start the trials early. But a few things happened that changed the whole outlook of their decision."
"Hey, wait a minute," Kan said. "That name sounds familiar. Chun-be. Hey, isn't that the Padawan who–––"
Adriaan's face was neutral, but he saw her eyes flash. "Quit."
"Yes." He suddenly felt very vulnerable under her steely gaze. "Some sort of spat among the Apprentices made him leave, I've heard."
"Spat? Hardly," Adriaan said contemptuously. "Darc was my friend. I happened to know all the details of the 'spat', as you call it. On a mission, he was unjustly accused of killing a Master ––– his Master. No one believed him, and he couldn't take their mistrust of him any longer, so he left. Could you call that a 'spat'?"
"I–––I'm-m-m-m s-s-s-sorry," Kan stammered. "I d-d-didn't know –––"
"Well, now you do," she said abruptly. "And now that you know the facts about the 'spat' I'd prefer that the name of Darc Chun-be never to be mentioned in my presence. He, well…he was a coward and a weakling to leave…so he is no longer my friend."
Kan stared at her for a moment. She looked angry, but she had a lonely, ravaged look in her eyes, and Kan wondered if she missed Darc, even though she was mad at him for having a lack of perseverance.
That apparently ended the subject, for the steel mask seemed to suddenly slip from her face, and she straightened, her gaze tilting upward, toward the artificial sunlight that streamed from the glowrods above them. They had been put up there to give the appearance of the passage of the sun across the sky, so the room seemed to change as the day went by. "I apologize," she said gruffly, "that was uncalled for, and it was rude. I'm just real ––– touchy on that subject. I hope I didn't scare you too badly." Her brow creased into a frown.
Kan shook his head in astonishment. Adriaan was a strange creature. First she's friendly, then she blows up in anger, and the next minute she's friendly again. One thing was for certain ––– you would never be bored with Adriaan around.
He decided to change the subject. "So, um," he began, "Are you going to stay here at the Temple while the others go on the mission?"
Adriaan looked at him mildly. "You know about that?" she asked. "No. I'm going with Windu to Geonosis. Even though I'm the youngest knight in the Temple, I'm very skilled, according to the Jedi Council. Yoda personally asked me to go. I've had a lot of experience in rescue attempts. At least, I have a lot of experience in getting rescued." Her face broke into a wide, disarming grin, showing a straight row of clean, white teeth. Kan smiled back, realizing that he had just made a very good friend.
"What kind of missions have you gone on?" he asked curiously.
Adriaan leaned against the edge of a fountain casually, gazing up at the fine mist hanging in the air. "All types, kiddo," she said. "rescue, undercover, bodyguards, Senate disputes." she made a wry grimace. "Boring stuff, Senatorial procedures. I can't see what makes them so interesting. Anyway, probably the most memorable of my experiences ––– and likely my most successful mission ––– was when I was enslaved by space pirates and toiled in their nest for over a year. But it has a good ending, so don't worry, I'm not trying to scare you so you can't go to sleep tonight. We revolted and set an entire planet free."
Kan looked at her in admiration. "Wow," he said. He paused for a moment. He realized now that he hadn't even told her his name yet. "By the way, I'm Kan Enik. My Master is Ruru Xelan. He's leaving today with Master Windu." He felt his heart sink as he said it. "I'm staying here."
Adriaan noticed the change in his expression immediately. "I understand how you feel," she said kindly. "It's boring, just waiting for the others to come back, to tell, of their successes, their experiences…" her voice dropped to a whisper. "…their losses."
Kan nodded dejectedly.
Adriaan's face lit up. "I've got it!" she exclaimed suddenly. "Why don't I pick you up a little something while I'm on Geonosis ––– a souvenir ––– something along that line? Geonosis is inhabited by creatures whose expertise is in weaponry. They're very high-tech, I've heard. Would you like one?"
Kan attempted to smile. It was a ridiculous offer ––– but it was a kind one. It was like an ancient Master who had forgotten how old you were and had offered a laser toy as a present on the day of your knighthood. But it was the thought that counted, and it made him feel a bit better ––– he still felt angry, but it had lessened. But then he remembered what his Master had warned, and his doubts returned. "But, but what if you –––" his voice failed to finish the sentence. Die. What if you don't return?
Adriaan knew, or rather guessed what he hadn't said. "It is possible," she said softly. "I may not return. For all must die. Don't worry, Kan. We each have our share of time in life, sometimes it ends soon, sometimes later, but all must eventually leave. We must use the time that is given to us. I'll be all right."
Kan nodded slowly, though his fears weren't completely done away.
Adriaan knew this, he could tell, but both of them knew that she couldn't do more for him. She put a hand on his shoulder briefly, smiling bravely. Then she turned and disappeared into the watery mist. Except for a faint breath of wind marking her passing, Kan would have sworn that she had been no more than a dream. His thoughts came crashing back to reality when he remembered that he was starving. His eyes traveled toward the entrance that led to the Temple kitchens, his senses informing him that the afternoon meal was being prepared. Miraculously, his stomach always knew when dinner was ready. He strode out into the hallway, his spirits rising at the prospect of food as a tantalizing smell wafted down the corridor. Mmm, muja muffins today, he thought dreamily, his steps beginning to lengthen. I can't be late...
Seven small figures suddenly came galloping down the hall, barreling into him and sending him head over heels and slamming against the wall.
Ow. Kan sat up gingerly, rubbing his head. He could feel a gigantic, painful lump swelling there. Kan clenched his fists and scowled at the newcomers, who had halted and gathered noisily about him, not in the least embarrassed.
There were about a half dozen of them, and they all swirled about, brandishing training lightsabers and making ludicrous grimaces. They all wore aqua blue tunics, making it hard for Kan to distinguish one from the other. Each sported a laserball helmet with silver sea birds emblazoned on their sides. The tallest of the group abruptly halted before Kan and held up a hand. The rest came to a standstill. A pair of bright blue eyes twinkled beneath the helmet's visor as the leader stared Kan down.
Kan gaped, incredulous. His "attackers" were no more than younglings!
"Hello," the leader of the group said. "Do you taste GOOD?"
Kan's mouth fell open wider. "N-n-n-no," he stammered. What kind of a question was that? How should he know what he tasted like? And who would care?
The boys all grinned at him. "WICKED!"
"Um, okay," Kan mumbled, really confused now, "but ––– what are you?"
They all gasped. The leader's face darkened into a frown, while the others exchanged mischievous glances.
"Are you not one of us?" the boy asked. "Are you not WICKED?!"
"I ––– I don't know what you mean –––"
"Don't know? Too dull?" he shouted, waving his arms. "EVERYONE KNOW! WICKED! EVERYONE! ME –––" he looked toward his friends, his eyebrows raised. "ME WHAT, WICKEDS?" he asked them, his voice slightly ominous.
Luckily, they knew the answer, for they all smirked and said in one voice. "YOU WICKED WICKED WICKED TRULY WICKED WICKED AEDAN WICKED KENOBI WICKED WICKED THE KING WICKED OF WICKED!!"
Aedan turned triumphantly to Kan. "Now you WICKEDLY know!" he said.
"So, you are Aedan Kenobi…" Kan began.
"Add WICKED to your sentence, if you please," Aedan cut in. "I am grossly offended at all forms of GOODNESS. I say WICKED to keep my WICKEDNESS WICKEDEST." Aedan removed his helmet, shaking sweaty blond hair away from his red face. He was thin and wiry, with a pointed face that had a large mouth grinning from ear to ear. He looked to about eight or nine years old, but a fierce energy radiated from him, hinting a huge connection to the Force. The rest of the group removed their masks also, revealing an assortment of young, eager boys.
Aedan bowed mockingly. "Allow me to introduce my faithfully WICKED WICKEDS," he said. He pointed to a skinny youth who stood close by, chewing on his blond padawan braid. "This is my WICKED-in-command," he said. "I give you, WICKED Terry Nirud."
Terry waved a grimy hand vacantly, still intent on chewing his braid to pieces.
A small, crimson haired boy with almond-shaped eyes smiled in greeting. "I am the snack snatcher dude, Na'thin."
"Yes," Aedan said, moving down to two blond boys with dull, bantha-like expressions which made Kan wonder how they could even be Jedi students. "Intelligence units, blah blah blah; of course, geniuses don't always look sharp," Aedan said, gesturing toward them. "Relatives, of course. Cousins. WICKED Sai'wer and WICKED Jahn Pal. Boys, say, 'WICKED'."
"Huh?" they asked, looking blankly at one another. "Good-bye, kitty-cat?"
"His name is WICKED Kan," Aedan told them.
"Kitty," they murmured.
Aedan rolled his eyes. "Let us move on to our WICKED, joyful, happy comedian. Whatever. Minir Voss."
A dark-haired boy jerked involuntarily and scowled even fiercer than before.
"Yes, well, he's having a GOOD day," Aedan explained. "WICKEDLY sorry, as sorry as WICKED people can be."
Finally, he stopped in front of the last boy. He was the tiniest of the group, but his grin was just as wide. His blond hair was almost white, and his eyes were an odd neon green. "The strategist," Aedan said, "WICKED Kien Mariner."
Kan was beginning to feel dizzy trying to categorize these vagabonds in his mind. His thoughts were all in a jumble, thanks to Aedan's running commentary on "wickeds" and "goods". Then, miracle of miracles, something jogged his memory and cleared the mud in his brain. he turned to the Wicked King. "You said your name is Kenobi," he began. "I am wondering whether Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi is of any distant relation to you, though that seems hardly possible, seeing that –––"
"Brothers," Aedan interrupted. "But ties of blood are nothing to the WICKED King! He is a shame to the Kenobi's! GOODNESS!"
"Oh," Kan murmured. Then he continued timidly. "So, um, you are a club, Aedan? A Wicked club?" he added hastily, catching the warning glance Aedan gave him.
In answer, Aedan suddenly lunged at Kan, who stepped back in surprise. "My name is Aedan," the boy spat, his face just millimeters from Kan. "But do not address me by that name. I must be called WICKED!"
"Wicked King, live forever!" Kan gasped, finding his voice at last.
Aedan's face relaxed. Grinning crookedly, he stepped back. "WICKED," he said approvingly. "But there was no need to wish me a WICKEDLY long life, for I will always live! The WICKED NEVER die!"
"I… see," Kan said. He must be more careful in the future to call Aedan by the right name. "Now, can you answer my question? Or is that considered 'good'?"
"No," Terry said, not catching onto the sarcasm in Kan's voice. "In fact, it was very WICKED of you to ask. It shows interest in our WICKEDNESS. By, the way, did we tell you that we are a WICKED club who's lifetime interest is to be totally WICKED?"
"WICKED!" Everyone echoed.
"Why, no, you didn't tell me," Kan remarked drily.
"Ship at the dining hall," Jahn Pal said suddenly.
"Ship eat fuel, go bye-bye!" Sai'wer agreed.
Aedan's face lit up, as if suddenly reminded he had business elsewhere. "Gotta go, my WICKED," he said to Kan.
"GOOD-BYE!" they all screamed as they shot down the hall, leaving Kan standing alone in astonishment.
"Wait!" he shouted. All that answered was the vibrating echoes of his own voice bouncing off the walls. Kan slumped wearily. He didn't know what the boys were about to do, but he felt it wasn't anything good. He raced after them, cursing his sluggish pace. Move, Kan. Go go go!
Calling upon the Force to help, He soon located the muffled screams of the Wicked Club, guiding him through the maze of corridors.
He burst through the doors of the docking bay, just in time to see Jahn Pal duck inside a cruiser, Sai'wer following close behind. Puffing furiously from his exertion, Kan put on a fresh burst of speed and rushed into the ship after them.
Aedan looked up calmly from the datascreen he had been scrutinizing. "Ah, yes," he said, as if he had been expecting Kan, "Kan, my WICKED, come in, come in. You should see this ship! It's WICKED! Look at all this WICKED information stored here!" He pressed a series of buttons and sent several holofiles, containing information on planets, systems, and solutions to difficulties encountered while in the deep jungle of the cosmos, into the air.
"What are you doing?" Kan sputtered. "Numbskulls! You can't board this ship without permission! It's all fueled and ready for takeoff! You could trigger takeoff by accident! Then where would you be?"
"In space," Aedan said mockingly. "Do not make the mistake of doubting my WICKEDNESS, young GOOD fool. I am capable of piloting this thing."
"That's not the point," Kan said, exasperated. "The point is you are not allowed on here!"
"The Masters!" Kan exploded. "The Jedi Council! The whole Temple! Younglings don't belong on these ships."
"I act on my own WICKED permission," Aedan said.
Kan stamped his foot. "Your permission doesn't count!" he thundered. "And man, are you ever going to be in for it when they find out about this, you little sneak."
"Sneak?" the others echoed. "SNEAK? Sneaks are GOOD!"
Aedan was scratching his head thoughtfully. "The GOOD man does have a point, WICKEDS," he said. He turned to Jahn Pal and Sai'wer. "Stand guard outside," he ordered. "And alert me if any GOODS are sighted."
"Huh?" Jahn Pal asked.
"Go sleep outside?" Sai'wer wondered.
Aedan rolled his eyes. "Go, you GOODS, GO!" he screamed, pushing them out of the room. After he made sure that they had followed his instructions, he settled back into the pilot seat, absently toying with the controls.
Furious, Kan turned his back on Aedan and looked out the window. Jahn Pal was sprawled on the ramp, and a thin river of saliva was collecting in a pool at the bottom. Sai'wer crouched in plain sight behind a durasteel bin. The rest of the bay seemed deserted. Except for a few battered starfighters, the hangar was empty. Suddenly a small movement in the shadows caught his attention, and he fixed his gaze to the spot. Soon he was able to discern a small brown figure creeping toward the ship. Kan squinted to see better when a ray of sunlight reflected off the top of the figure, illuminating fiery gold hair upon a cream tunic.
Did she see him? Kan watched as she slid behind a pile of discarded vehicle parts, blending in with the shadows. He sighed with relief. Good. She was only looking for Zett. But then his relief gave way to panic. What if she was looking for Kan, too?
He had no time to wonder, for suddenly another, taller figure appeared, striding quickly toward the ship.
It was Adriaan.