Easy to Be Hard

Senator Leia Organa closed her eyes as the holographic projector shut off. Her head ached and she massged her temples as a sense of foreboding swept over her. The verdict was in the bag now — tied up in a pretty little package and served to the judge on a mythra platter. She was relieved the spice-lord was being brought to justice after getting away with human trafficking for decades. But the way the evidence had been gathered and presented to the courts on Kuat chilled her. She wished now she hadn’t been part of the Senate Intelligence Committee and were back home on Hosnian Prime with Han and Ben. Ben had just completed his exams at Hanna City University and was enjoying some time off relaxing with friends — although she had a bad feeling about the latest group of intelligentsia he’d introduced her to last fall. They were elusive, guarded somehow — more than most young people around their elders. And Han? Who knew what Han was doing between races and overseeing shipments now. Probably tinkering with the Falcon again.

Tinkering, Leia thought acidly, like this new data-gathering procedure is doing with this citizen’s head. Still, no matter how much the invasive technique and its implications rankled her, she wouldn’t have missed sitting in on the trial. This was the first — and possibly the last — case in which a verdict would be rendered solely on the memories of the accused. It was something new the Kuat System was trying. Why waste time gathering physical evidence that could be insubstantial or tampered with when you could go directly to the source — the accused’s head. Assuming the case wasn’t one of insanity, certainly the defendant knew if he was guilty of the offense or not. And his memories would prove it.

But memories, she remembered thinking, weren’t always accurate, like the time when Han swore Ben had been conceived under the trees on Endor. “No, sweetie,” she’d corrected him with a knowing look and a slight wince. “It was the Dejarik table.” She’d patted his cheek then and gone off to wonder just how much action that old table had seen in the Falcon’s sordid past. It didn’t matter. She knew her life with Han and Ben was secure.

If life ever was.

She watched now as the accused — a scrunch-faced Toydarian — rose for the verdict.

“After viewing the memories of Noyduu Voog, how do you find the defendant?” the elderly Korun judge asked the jurors.

The spokeswoman responded with confidence. “We find him guilty, your honor.”

The Toydarian looked as if he would explode. He desperately wanted to fly the scene, or at least flit about in agitation, but his bee-like wings had been pinned. He’d been given a chance to defend himself, but it wasn’t enough. It would never be enough with his species.

“Master Jedi,” the judge intoned, addressing the one overseeing the memory extraction during the trial — one who was seated behind a mirrored glass partition, watching the proceedings. “After examining the defendant’s memories, how do you find him?”

There was a moment’s hesitation then a deep voice said through a distortion device, “Guilty.”

Leia was hardly aware of the Toydarian as he was escorted from the courtroom — defiant and vengeful and screaming that Jedi mind-tricks didn’t work on his species. Instead, she found her mind wandering back to the memory capture process and the day Luke had explained the technique to her.

The Force-sensitives Luke oversaw at his academy weren’t the only survivors of Order 66. There had been others scattered throughout the galaxy, and some who had developed additional survival skills. Reaching farther into the Force, they’d found they could not only read the thoughts of other sentients but also probe into deep memories of the subconscious. Only then could they truly know whom they could trust. One such Jedi had been behind a screen in the courtroom — to protect his identity — extracting Noyduu Voog’s memories of the humans he’d enslaved and abused, and relaying them through his own mind to a device that transcoded the electrical impulses into visual images for all to see. The feat was nothing less than astonishing, but Leia worried about the vulnerability of the data. A mind intent on evil purposes could project what it wanted. She knew that much from reading text preserved in holocrons Luke had shared with her. The people had been brought around to believing that the Jedi were a force for good again, but they, like all sentient beings, could be tempted by the Dark side. And Leia didn’t know this Jedi inquisitor behind the screen. He’d been retained by the Kuat government for this difficult case, which lacked physical evidence. His identity was classified and his voice electronically modified.

Like a hooded executioner of the Old Republic, she thought.

Yet there was something familiar in the Toydarian’s memories — something out of place among the scantily clad and violated slave women. A little girl who’d reached out wailing, “Come back!” Her face was familiar.

Leia took a deep breath to clear her head then stepped through the door to the judge’s antechambers. She had to have a word with him, to voice official concern, for the record. What she heard next made her blood freeze. A voice raised in aggravation and disgust. A young, awkward voice.

“Yeah, well, I can’t do it anymore!”

Ben Solo by Lucrezia Ciaffaglione

Ben Solo burst from the judge’s chamber and came to an abrupt halt. He blinked. “Mom.”

The judge was on the young Jedi’s heels. “Why not? Everything went perfectly. We’re just….Senator Organa,” he breathed, nearly colliding with Ben.

Leia said nothing. No words would come.

Ben broke the stony silence first. “I can’t keep my own memories isolated,” he told the judge without breaking eye contact with Leia. He sensed his mother’s concern, read disapproval in her shock, and quickly brushed past her.

She turned to grab his sleeve. “Ben. Wait!”

But he was gone.

 

@MyKyloRen   17 May 2017

 

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