Various aromas of different foods were carried in the gentle breeze, watering many mouths of passers by who might have otherwise avoided feasting to their heart and stomach's content. One particular individual walked through the plaza, long brown robes and a cowl over his head as he gladly partook in the event, sampling various snacks from just about everywhere.
The good mood and cheer overflowed the city, banners, balloons and flags flying high. To the Zeltrons, it was just as euphoric as any celebration on their homeworld and even the more violent species like the Rodians finding ways to amuse themselves, some of their more talented artists displaying various pieces of art and sculptures for all to admire.
Walking slowly, savoring a tasty treat from the Kuati chefs, the robed man was slow to enjoy the meal but mindful to keep the lines moving. It was a strange sensation to be sure, that a festival could be held while a war was going on but the Federation, along with the Corellian government, brokered an agreement to the New Republic member worlds that people could come to attend the festival. Numerous strings were attached to the deal and the armed presence by the Corellian defense force was noticeably higher than previous years but it put people more at ease than even half the number of visible stormtroopers waltzing around, most the galaxy still holding fresh memories of the atrocities attached to the iconic white armour.
"Are you a Jedi?" a soft voice asked suddenly from behind the robed man.
Turning around, the man lowered his head down to see a young child looking up at him with the biggest expression of awe he had ever seen. A small little action figure was in the kid's hands. It looked just like the man though the face was a lot more youthful, immortalized forever more. "No," he replied with a light-hearted smile as he bent down to get closer to the kid, "Just one who happens to like dressing up as them."
"Oh." The child sounded disappointed, his expression saddening to the point he looked like his lifelong dream had just been destroyed with a superlaser.
"But if it makes you feel any better," the man began, a smile slowly appearing on his weathered and aged features, a small sparkle in his brown eyes, "Watch." He waved his hand slowly and the action figure was slowly tugged out of the child's hands though no one else was holding it. It floated over to the man's waiting hand where he grasped it and offered it back to the kid.
The smile returned quickly to the boy's face as he drew in a deep breath, his mouth opened wide as if he were about to cheer. Before he could however, the man put a finger to his lips. "Shh," he began, "Let's keep this between us."
If there was only one thing better than meeting a real life Jedi, it was keeping a secret about meeting a real life Jedi and the boy snapped his mouth shut and nodded excitedly. Barely able to contain himself.
"What's your name?" the man asked softly as he straightened back up, putting his hands together, concealed by the sleeves.
"Yukka," the child answered. "What's yours?"
"Pleased to meet you Tim!" Yukka held his right hand out, beaming with enthusiasm. Tim shook it gently with his own right hand, once again admiring the simple mind of a child. Master Yoda had always enjoyed children, "amazing, the mind of a child is," were his words.
Suddenly there was a ripple in the Force, very slight but Tim felt it easily. Darksider? he wondered, asking the Force for guidance as to what he was feeling. It was too weak to be a Sith, or even a Dark Jedi. No, it wasn't a Force user that cast that ripple it was a warning. Someone is targeting me... No... not me, still too weak... Yukka.
Though Tim had long since mastered the ability to control his emotions, something in his expression must have given rise to concern to Yukka as the boy asked, "What's wrong?"
"Where are your parents?" Tim asked as he let the Force flow around him, using it to help shield the boy from whoever was targeting him while trying to get a pinpoint fix what the disturbance actually was. Who would dare target a child? Worst yet, who would do it in such a crowded place? He glanced around casually in the general direction he felt the shift come from. It was the large pavilion building where all sorts of shows were being put on. Right now a host of Twi'lek dancers were putting on an alluring display as throngs of people had gathered to sate their base desires.
"I don't know. They said we would meet by the galaxy clock at midday."
Taking the kids hand, Tim knew the location the boy spoke of. "Well, how about I walk you there. It's almost midday now anyways."
"Really?" That got his mind off the flicker of concern Tim displayed as the boy was positively beaming at this point. The two of them started walking together as Tim finally got a fix on the source of trouble, an individual with a long rifle, somehow able to point it at Yukka's head without being seen by anybody.
"You should try some of this," Tim said suddenly, gently pulling Yukka over to one of the food stands while he cleverly shifted his position to block the line of sight the shooter had to the boy. A pair of Bothans were cooking up something that looked like a cross between melted metal and dirt and Yukka wasn't shy at expressing his unwillingness to try the food. "Taste it, you'll be surprised."
Yukka tried a taste and started coughing. Tim also tried some but was better able at masking his displeasure for the stuff. It was fowl stuff, only about as good as engine oil but he still put on a show that he enjoyed it to the Bothan chefs while Yukka's face soured, the aftertaste left behind even worse than he ever thought possible.
The Force rippled again. Tim looked over and saw Yukka step away for a trash bin that had been left out. A mental flash of a trigger being pulled flooded his mind. With swift reflexes, he dropped the small plate of food and grabbed the cool metal shaft of his lightsaber, thumbing the activation trigger as he brought the growing green blade out, letting the Force guide him, asking it to further help shield the boy.
The entire festival erupted in chaos, people were screaming and the stampeding crowds were rushing in all directions, desperate to not be the next target as panic and fear took over each and every individual. Only a handful of people, mostly the highly trained Corellian Defense Force soldiers and officers, were able to overcome the panic and begin to reenforce order to the festival, airspeeders with loudspeakers demanding everyone to settle down and depart in an orderly fashion.
In the plaza where the collection of now deserted food tents were set up, a boy stood, awe-struck, his mouth hanging open as he stared at the impossible, his brain failing to register. His action figure slipped out of his hands, landing on the stone tiled ground that was heated by the midday sun. The figure bounced a few times before coming to rest next to a pile of brown fabric, a small charred hole in the back of the hood where the head was. Next to the plastic toy, a stubby metal cylinder also lay, a hand loosely gripped around it in what was, ultimately, a successful effort to protect the visibly shaken child, the blade having been deactivated in the very last act the Jedi would ever make.
However, what Tim would never know: Yukka was never the target to begin with...
Standing inside the short building, peering through an electroscope mounted to an E-11 sniper rifle, Eri watched for any signs of movement from the fallen body. She knew her shot hit the Jedi somewhere just above the bridge of the nose with perfect aim but she wanted to make sure the Jedi was dead. If they could create illusions of themselves, who was to say there wasn't some other cunning technique they could use to cheat death. Overhead, the speeders were starting to approach while security forces quickly closed in, one of them pointing up to the window where she was standing.
"Computer, freeze program." Eri spoke with little trace of emotion in her voice as everything around her ground to a halt. Setting the rifle down, she brought up a datapad which she had used to monitor and control the simulation. Tapping a few commands, she saw that, according to all the statistics and data it had pertaining to the human anatomy and the power of the E-11s, the Jedi was, for all intents and purposes, dead and would not be getting back up.
Unfortunately, Eri wasn't fully convinced that a Jedi could have been felled so easily. Maybe she was overestimating their abilities, maybe the computer was right in its assessment of the situation and all the variables it had to work with. It wasn't enough to shake the feeling of impossibility, reinforced all the more by the fact the computer's knowledge was limited and this was, more or less, a perfect scenario, like a testing ground with everything working in her favour despite efforts to add as many levels of complexity and realism as possible. Even if the numbers are correct, Eri thought glumly as she exhaled a sigh she felt had been held inside of her for the past five minutes since she first took aim at the boy in the distance she thought might make a good distraction, There's a distinct difference between a Jedi and a Dark Jedi. The computers didn't possess any data on Dark Jedi or Sith and somehow she doubted either of them would bother helping the kid like "Tim" did.
Dropping down, she sat against the wall and let her thoughts stir some more. Checking the datapad again, she laughed at herself for a moment. She had been so absorbed in making sure the Jedi was dead that nearly all her escape routes were cut off though treating this as a simulation didn't help in that regard. Had this been real, she would have taken the shot and swiftly left before the security could regroup and respond effectively amid the rampaging crowds. It was reassuring, however, to know that she still had it in her to read people and their movements well enough to know where to aim and when to squeeze the trigger. That brought a relaxed smile to her face, glad she was able to keep something given all that she had been steadily losing lately.
Reaching over for a water bottle, Eri undid the cap and brought the bottle to her lips, drinking the cool liquid. Her mouth always got parched whenever she breathed deeply, the air drying it out especially on this simulated hot and dry day. So, like with anything, a good distraction can make all the difference... That was all well and good, but now it left her with the million credit question, What in the galaxy can distract a Dark Jedi enough to let me get a shot like that off?