SCENE 1. INT. JEDHA—THE SECOND SPIRE—MEETING CHAMBER
Time until the battle begins: zero hours.
ATMOS: We’re in the Second Spire on Jedha, an old, previously abandoned temple that has been recently refitted for the peace conference. We’re in a large meeting chamber on the lower level of the spire. A small group of people have gathered, but the mood is subdued as everyone waits for proceedings to begin.
From outside, we can hear the general murmur of distant crowds. As the scene progresses, however, the sounds of angry people should grow louder in the background, as a riot is heading this way . . .
FX: Tilson Graf, the serving mediator, is rapping his fingertips nervously on the pedestal before him.
It’s almost time to begin.
Indeed. Let’s get it over with. I’m eager to return to E’ronoh to help with the reconstruction efforts, just as, I’m sure, Ambassador Cerox wishes to return to her people on Eiram.
Yes, Ambassador Tintak. If you could just give me a moment . . .
Is everything all right, Mediator Graf?
What? Yes, yes. Of course, Master Sun.
(PULLING HIMSELF TOGETHER)
Everything’s fine. I just need a minute to compose myself. This is, after all, a momentous affair. The signing of this peace treaty is a key moment in galactic history. Eiram and E’ronoh have been at war for over five years. And now, following the marriage of their heirs, the worlds have finally come together in peace. We’re gathered here in the Second Spire on historic Jedha to—
Yes, Ambassador Cerox?
With the greatest respect, we are all aware of the reasons why we’re here. Please, get on with it before—
FX: Ambassador Cerox is drowned out by the sudden, surging sounds of the riot just outside the building.
(ANGRY, BARKING FRUSTRATION)
Oh, what now?
Umm . . .
Aida. What’s going on outside?
There’s a crowd of people approaching the spire, Creighton. They’re . . .
FX: A thrown rock puts out a window. The bellowing from outside grows louder. The crowd is angry.
It’s a riot!
Get back, everyone. Away from the windows.
FX: A lightbow fires, somewhere else in the building.
Stay back! All of you!
FX: More banging and clanging. The riot is spilling into the building close by. A door bursts open into the meeting chamber. It’s Mesook, a Guardian of the Whills.
It’s the civilians. They’re rioting. They’re swarming the building. We can’t hold them back without a massacre.
FX: There are sounds of brutal close-quarter fighting from behind him. The Guardians aren’t firing on the civilians unless they must.
(QUIETLY, AS HE RETREATS)
I . . . ummm . . . I think we’d better make for safety.
Ambassadors, to me.
FX: There’s a massive crash as a speeder bike bursts through the plate-glass window, splintering shards everywhere. A man screams in pain as he’s speared and killed by a ragged shard.
After years of bitter conflict, the planets Eiram and E’ronoh have at last settled on a tentative peace, with the help of the Jedi and Republic Co-Chancellor Orlen Mollo. While the repercussions of their war still ripple through the Outer Rim—leading to spiraling food and fuel shortages—delegates from the two worlds have agreed to reconvene in neutral territory to finalize a treaty that will see an end to the war.
Now Jedi Master CREIGHTON SUN and Jedi Knight AIDA FORTE have accompanied delegations from the two warring planets to the holy world of JEDHA, where they plan to oversee the signing of the treaty amidst preparations for the grand Festival of Balance being held by the city’s new Force Convocation.
But not everyone on Jedha is ready to welcome the Jedi and their charges, or to concern themselves with matters of peace. . . .
SCENE 2. INT. THE SECOND SPIRE—ANTEROOM—DAY
Time until the battle begins: seventy-two hours.
ATMOS: We’re in an anteroom in the Second Spire attached to where the Jedi are staying. We can hear the gentle murmur of the city from outside. In the distance is the soft ringing of bells.
I never thought I’d see the day when military transports hung in the skies over Jedha. It seems . . .
Well, it feels wrong.
All the work we’ve done. All the efforts Princess Xiri and Prince Phan-tu have made toward peace . . . and their worlds still send military ships to the signing of a treaty.
FX: There’s no reply. The moment stretches, and then:
FX: Jedi Knight Aida Forte walks over to join him by the window. She pauses for a moment while she takes in the sight.
War casts a long shadow, Master Sun. Perhaps, after all this time, the people of Eiram and E’ronoh are finding it hard to trust one another.
I suppose it’s to be expected. The old royals were mired in hatred for so many years before the war, their trust for one another is tenuous at best.
Particularly as Queen Adrialla was found to be manufacturing poisoned weapons even after the cease-fire had been called.
And despite the fact such weapons have been destroyed and the war is officially at an end, they still insist on sending military escorts to Jedha. Their minds and hearts remain gripped by fear and loss.
Thank the Light for the new generation and the hope they bring.
The heirs are the future, Creighton. Xiri and Phan-tu will unite their people, given time. The horrors of the past will be forgiven, if not forgotten. And people will look back at their union as the turning point. The moment that peace finally won out over war.
You’re right. We’re so close.
No more needless death. No more hatred. The new generation will lead the old toward a better future. I truly believe that.
FX: Somewhere outside, we hear a commotion—the distant sound of raised voices, too far away to make out what’s being said, but it sounds like a fractious argument between several people or groups.
But seeing those ships up there . . . I worry what message it sends.
The locals. The pilgrims. This new “Convocation of the Force.”
What if they think we’ve brought the conflict to their door?
The conflict’s over. Everyone knows that. The cease-fire has held for over a month. This is a celebration of peace.
The transport ships are nothing but posturing. A last show of pomp before the treaty is finalized and all those military commanders are out of a job.
Yes, you’re right.
Soon the chancellors will arrive, and the treaty can be written into law.
Ah, about that. I received a transmission from Chancellor Mollo just before we arrived. It seems that, despite both his and Chancellor Greylark’s insistence, Republic security have put their foot down. Chancellor Mollo is to remain with Xiri and Phan-tu, to help them oversee the rebuilding of their worlds, while Chancellor Greylark returns to Coruscant.
So who will serve as mediator to oversee the signing of the treaty?
Morton San Tekka.
A San Tekka?
You know Chancellor Mollo. He’s a politician through and through. A chancellor of the people. He thought it best to appoint someone with connections to the frontier, rather than another elected official. Since Eiram and E’ronoh aren’t part of the Republic he wants to tread carefully, so it doesn’t appear that the Republic are overstepping in their role as neutral advisors. I gather that Chairperson Meldan, the head of the committee that oversees Republic affairs on Jedha, is a little put out at being overlooked, but Chancellor Mollo’s decision does make sense. This way, the Republic won’t be seen to be unduly interfering in the business of non-member worlds.
Copyright © 2023 by George Mann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.