Chapter 9

Qui-Gon allowed himself to be hustled down the stairs. Their captors said nothing, and he saw no need to volunteer any questions or comments. He was not sure if they knew that he and Obi-Wan were Jedi. He assumed that they were thought to be Workers.

In the cramped vestibule, thick strips of fabric were wound around their eyes to blindfold them. They were bound in energy manacles. Then they were pushed out the door. Qui-Gon felt himself being guided into a landspeeder. Obi-Wan was shoved next to him.

He concentrated, trying to gauge distance by calculating speed and time. He knew Obi-Wan was doing the same. The journey was short, and at the end they were roughly hauled out of the speeder and marched down a corridor. The speeder had been parked in an interior landing area. Listening for echoes, Qui-Gon estimated its size. For a landing area of this proportion, the building would have to be fairly large.

He heard a door accessed, and he was pushed inside a smaller area. He heard Obi-Wan stumble as he followed.

"This is where you belong, Jedi," a voice hissed.

So they knew their prisoners were Jedi.

"Where are we and why are we being held? Who are you?" Qui asked.

"None of your business" is the answer to your first question, and 'because you are enemies of the state' should answer your second. As for who we are, we are the saviors of Apsolon."

"You don't say," Qui-Gon remarked dryly.

"Tell me, why are we your enemy?"

"We remember what the Jedi did six years before. Because of your interference, our true government was lost. It is up to us to recapture the glory we surrendered."

"New Apsolon did hold elections open to all—"

"We do not recognize New Apsolon, only Apsolon. And not every citizen deserves to vote."

"You are entitled to your opinion," Qui-Gon said. "Yet a government was legally elected by the laws of your world, so therefore—"

"Do you think I have time to argue with you?

The voice rose angrily. The door shut.

"Well, that was an interesting conversation," Qui-Gon said. "We can see that he Absolutes are just as they appear. They are fanatics."

"Not good news for us, " Obi-Wan said.

"I'm sure we'll have an interesting dialogue."

"Do you think they'll torture us?" Obi-Wan asked the question in a firm voice. He did not want Qui-Gon to think he was afraid. But when he remembered back to the different methods they had seen earlier that day, he couldn't say he felt comfortable with the notion.

"I have no idea what they are planning," Qui-Gon said.

They did not say any more. There was a good chance they were under surveillance. Qui-Gon moved closer to Obi-Wan and gently indicated his lightsaber with his fingers. It was to let his Padawan know that if torture lay ahead, they would not submit. Obi-Wan nodded.

They did not have long to wait. Less than an hour passed before they heard the door hiss open. They were pulled outside and then pushed along for a short distance. Another door was activated. Qui-Gon himself shoved inside. He did not know what lay ahead, but he had his lightsaber. His hands were still bound, but he would find a way to resist. He was forced into a chair. A bright light was in his face. He knew his Padawan was beside him.

"Here are the Jedi."

"We can see that, brother." The voice was low and powerful, with a wry twist to the cadence that he knew well. "You may leave us."

Yes, his hands were bound. Yes, he was blind-folded. He was a prisoner with no way out that he could tell. But Qui-Gon's heart sang. He had found Tahl.