STAR WARS: JEDI APPRENTICE #8:
THE DAY OF RECKONING

Chuckling, Xanatos swiveled and strode back into the central dome. "He knows we're here," Obi-Wan said quietly.

"Yes," Qui-Gon agreed. "Let's find UniFy. We must move as quickly as we can."

They left the dome and started down the main boulevard. The streets were strangely deserted. Qui-Gon imagined that most of the population was in the Katharsis Dome. Did they suspend work during Katharsis days?

He and Obi-Won passed a large, impressive building with blue-veined stone columns in front. A silver plaque read THE XANATOS INSTITUTE FOR HEALING.

"He has certainly made his mark," Qui-Gon murmured.

"Look at the library across the street," Obi-Wan said, pointing. "He funded that as well."

"The problem will not be finding him, obviously," Qui-Gon said. "The challenge will be to expose him for what he really is. The people love him. He has made sure of that. He has protected himself better by staying in the open than by hiding."

Obi-Wan scanned a sign that announced that Xanatos was providing the funds to restore a large city park. "He must have a reason behind all this," he observed.

"He always has a reason," Qui-Gon agreed. "Naturally he wants to exert influence on Telos. But that is too broad a goal for him. We shall have to discover exactly what he intends."

"Hey, genius guys!"

They turned to see Den heading for them. "I thought you might need help finding UniFy," he said. "I realized that there's no sign on the building."

"What about your lottery?" Obi-Wan asked. "Isn't today your lucky day?"

"All my days are lucky, kid," Den said, falling into step next to them. "But I don't get a chance to do a good deed often enough."

"We were just noticing all the buildings Xanatos has built in Thani," Qui-Gon remarked. "He has been a true benefactor."

Den waved an arm. "In the past few years he's supported parks, libraries, med centers, the big healing institute — he's made a fortune in mining throughout the galaxy, but he doesn't hoard it. He spreads it around. That's more than any of those lottery winners will do, let me tell you."

They passed one of the pale blue information kiosks. Qui-Gon glanced at the information board on the front. To his shock, he saw his own face.

"Is this the main park in Thani?" he asked Den, sweeping an arm to the opposite side of the street where a path beckoned beneath spreading trees.

Den turned away, as Qui-Gon had hoped he would. "No, it's one of the smaller ones. The largest is on the east side of the city."

The diversion gave Qui-Gon enough time to study the notice on the wall. After his picture faded on the screen, Obi-Wan's appeared. WANTED. GALACTIC CRIMINALS. REWARD. He read the words in a flash.

So that was why the security police hadn't given up!

There could only be one explanation: Xanatos. He had arranged this. Now Qui-Gon understood his smile. He knew that it was only a matter of time before Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were captured.

Even as he walked and exchanged conversation with Den, Qui-Gon's mind sifted through his options. Being on the street was not safe. Luckily, most people were in the Katharsis Dome, or they would have run the risk of being recognized. They needed to find somewhere safe, and then find a way to disguise themselves.

Qui-Gon raised his hood. It would conceal his face somewhat. "It's getting chilly," he remarked.

"We're almost there," Den replied.

He led them a few blocks on. A tall gray tower was surrounded by a high polished gate of bronze metal.

"Well, here we are. Do you have an appointment?" Den asked. "They won't let you in without an ID tag. It's top security."

Qui-Gon eyed the sleek façade of the building. There were no windows and there appeared to be only one entrance. Once they got in, they would have to get out the same way.

"Our appointment is for tomorrow," he said. "We just wanted to see where it was."

"Do you have a place to stay tonight?" Den asked. "I live in a place where you can rent guest rooms. It's close to here."

Qui-Gon hesitated. It had not slipped his notice that Den seemed to appear whenever they needed help. He did not sense danger from him, but he was still wary.

But an uneasiness that had nothing to do with Den had been ticking away inside him. Obi-Wan was now a wanted criminal. They had barely been on Telos an hour, and already the situation had escalated out of control. Qui Gon had felt sure back on Coruscant that if events got out of hand, he would be able to order Obi-Wan back to the Temple. Now the boy was traped on the planet. He would not be able to pass through security in order to leave.

He had brought the boy into danger. He had done it with his eyes open. Guilt pierced him. He had to protect Obi-Wan now. He could not let his passion for bringing Xanatos to justice interfere with the boy's safety.

"Well, come along and have a look, at least," Den urged in a friendly way. "I'm only a few blocks away."

Qui-Gon nodded. He could see that Obi-Wan looked tired, and suddenly reflected that the boy had not eaten a bite since breakfast. Obi-Wan needed rest and food. He could find that for him at least.

He would trust his instincts. Den might be a gambler, but he didn't seem like such a bad character.

Den turned off the main road and led them down an alley that twisted behind the buildings. The structures grew more modest as they entered a residential area. Den led them to a shabby building painted in various shades of green, blue and red.

"My landlady is paying me to paint the place, but she can't decide on a color," he explained with a grin.

He opened the door and ushered them into a small anteroom. "Riva?" he called toward the back of the house. "I brought guests. Paying guests." He leaned closer to them. "That will bring her on the run."

As if on cue, Qui-Gon heard the soft sound of running feet.

Den grinned broadly. "See what I mean?"

"That's coming from outside." Qui-Gon strode to the window and moved the curtain a fraction to look at the street outside.

Security police were racing silently down the street. An officer signaled for them to surround the building.

Qui-Gon's hand fell onto the hilt of his lightsaber. His instincts had been off. Den had betrayed them. He had led them into a trap.