STAR WARS: JEDI APPRENTICE #12:
THE EVIL EXPERIMENT

Chapter One

He heard sound, but it was only a rush of white noise. His eyes were open, but he could only see vapor. He was wet, but he was not in water. Since he was not able to trust his sight or hearing, Qui-Gon Jinn decided to focus on the pain.

He tracked its location and measured its quality. It was on the left side of his chest, above his heart, and ran up to his shoulder. It wasn't a white-hot pain, but a steady burning ache, as deep as muscle and bone.

It told him he was alive.

He tried to move his right arm. The slight contraction of muscle, the effort required, seemed enormous. He hit something smooth with his fingers. He followed it slowly, tracing it up, then down. He moved his other arm and reached out his hand. Again, he met a solid wall. It was all around him. He realized that he was trapped.

A jolt of panic raced through him as he realized that he did not remember why he was here. Qui-Gon allowed it to exist and then watched it go. He breathed deeply. He was a Jedi Knight. His lightsaber was gone as well as his utility belt, but he still had the Force.

He was not alone.

As he breathed, Qui-Gon brought his mind to stillness. He told himself that his memory would return. He would not strain for it. He did not need it to live in the present moment.

He concentrated hard on his surroundings. Slowly he realized that he was in a transparent chamber. The reason he felt dizzy and strange was that he hung suspended, upside down. A cloudy gas surrounded him. Somehow it kept him floating in the tank. He could not see clearly through the vapor to the outside. He shifted, hoping to change position, and pain shot down his shoulder to his side. Blaster wounds were tricky. You thought the flesh was knitting, and they your wound told you otherwise if you tried too much, too soon...

Blaster wound.

Memories flooded back.

He had been on a mountainside with his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. They were trying to protect his friend Didi Oddo and Didi's daughter, Astri. The bounty hunter had shot Didi, and he had fallen —

Didi!

— and Obi-Wan had leaped an astonishing distance to knock the bounty hunter down. The bounty hunter had tried one last desperate maneuver, throwing a knife at Astri. His Padawan had caught it in midair. Qui-Gon rememberd the pride he felt when he saw the skill of his Padawan, how Obi-Wan had timed his move and called on the Force in order to catch the deadly spinning weapon by the hilt, not the blade.

The bounty hunter had known she was defeated then. She had activated a cable line, which launched her down the mountain toward her craft. Qui-Gon had followed. He had just made it to the launching ramp when she shot him. He remembered his surprise at the white heat in his chest, remembered falling forward into the ship and the ramp closing after him. He thought he could still hear Obi-Wan's cry.

He had left his Padawan on a remote planet with a wounded Didi — let him be wounded, not dead — and a young girl.

Qui-Gon moved again, and his wound screamed fire.

A female voice suddenly came to him, amplified within the tank.

"You might be experiencing some pain. It's from the chest wound. It has been treated. You will survive."

"Who are you?" Qui-Gon asked.

"You are subject of scientific experimentation," the voice went on pleasantly. "You will not be hurt, only studied."

"What do you mean, I won't be hurt? I'm confined!" Qui-Gon protested.

"You will be treated well."

"I am here against my will! Who are you? Where am I?"

The voice did not answer. Instead, an apparatus shot into the chamber. At the end was a syringe. Qui-Gon tried to twist away, but he had nowhere to move. A needle pricked him in the neck. He watched his blood move down the transparent tube. The syringe retracted. Slowly his body revolved until he was right-side up again.

Dizziness swamped him, but he knew it would pass. He gathered his strength, waiting out the spell.

As soon as he felt strong, he gritted his teeth against the pain and lashed out with both feet. He could not get enough leverage, and he bounced off the transparent material. He struck out with a balled fist, but got no response. The material did not bend. It did not even move a millimeter.

"Now, is that suitable behavior?" the voice chided. "You are not a child."

"I am a Jedi Knight!" Qui-Gon shouted.

"Precisely. And your life is one of service. Isn't that so?" The voice did not wait for him to respond. "Now you will be of service to this galaxy. Much more so than when you dash from world to world, waving that lightsaber around. I'm doing you a favor. You get to truly prove your commitment — how many Jedi can say the same? So relax. Let's see some of that famous Jedi meditation."

The note of dry amusement was suddenly familiar to Qui-Gon. Of course! As his memory returned, so did his suspicions.

His captor was Jenna Zan Arbor.

The brilliant scientist who appeared so perfect on the surface. The researcher who had saved whole populations from famine and plague. Yet somehow he had suspected that she was behind the plot to kill Didi. He was glad to see that his instincts had been correct.

Unfortunately, he was not her prisoner.

And he had not confided his suspicions to Obi-Wan. The boy would not know where to look, whom to suspect.

"Jenna Zan Arbor, you will not be able to hide from the Jedi," he said, matching her coolness with his own.

"Ah, so you know who I am. I'm impressed. What a specimen! It merely proves my choice is correct. I have researched you, Qui-Gon Jinn. I have found that you are an esteemed Jedi Knight, strong in the Force. You are perfect for my needs."

"And what are your needs?" Qui-Gon asked.

He heard her dry, humorless laugh. "All in good time, Qui-Gon. Just say goodbye to the life you knew. You are mine now."