He was at it again.
He was surrounded by females, two-deep, and the crowd was growing. Not shouting or getting angry as some groups do but standing there, staring at him. Rapt eyes and open mouths and once in a while a tentative touch as if he were some kind of holovid star.
As if they wanted to take a piece of him home.
I don't know how he does it. He isn't that attractive, although my friends tell me that he is. Quite handsome, I believe Siri said although she's only just fourteen and shouldn't be thinking such things about my Master. But I've seen older girls and women watching him, too.
In fact, when she thinks no one is looking, Master Gallia gazes at him like he's water and she is dying of thirst.
I don't get it.
He's too tall and has that broken nose. Long hair that gets knotted and stuck to things. Slouches when he thinks no one is looking. Beard and mustache that must scratch if he kissed someone - not that he ever would. After all, he's my master, Qui-Gon Jinn, and pretty old.
Besides, he snores.
So I just don't understand what they see in him.
But there must be something because it's the same every time we land in a system that's even vaguely humanoid. Females circling him like planets around a star. It's embarrassing.
And it was happening again.
At least, our mission here was done and we can go back to the Temple tomorrow - thankfully. It was nothing exciting, just treaty talk and a few heated words once in a while. For the most part, it was very routine and I was getting bored by the end of the sessions.
The only cause for alarm - or amusement depending on your point of view, was my Master's constant and unwanted companion, Erelia Zadros, the elder daughter of the Prime Minister of Septemus IV. In the past few days, he hadn't made a move without tripping over her. She had become irritatingly affectionate, watching Qui-Gon with those intense brown eyes, always a few steps away - or less - whenever he was in public, touching his hand or his arm or any other part that she could reach. She'd even tried to get into his room but without success.
Obviously enamored with Qui-Gon Jinn.
She was pretty enough but had a high-pitched giggle that grated after a while and her attitude was that of an annoying little tyrant, assuming that everyone and everything was hers to do with as she wanted. She was very spoiled.
I wasn't the only one irritated by her actions, apparently. Master was never one to brush off a pathetic lifeform but he came close with her. The set of his mouth, the way he drew himself up, crossing his arms, the hint of a frown on his face as he stared down at her, all told me that he was unhappy with the situation. He wouldn't be impolite - that was not his way - but he grew silent around the woman and avoided her whenever he could. Which wasn't often.
I don't know what he finally said to her but she flounced off, decidedly upset and didn't come back for hours. Of course, he maintained the stoic Jedi Master persona in front of our hosts but I could tell he was relieved.
The treaty was signed soon after that. The Prime Minister called for a party, and since his daughter was in charge of all celebrational festivities, Erelia returned at her father's command, her manner sullen and uncooperative.
But after a while, she seemed to relax into her role and began preening as the hustle and bustle of a party and her role in organizing such an affair became clear. She was in her element - queen of all she surveyed.
I didn't really pay much attention to Erelia. After all, festivities with food and drink, so soon after a treaty signing, could turn nasty if everyone was not satisfied. Both my master and I were on alert, looking for potential problems, hunting for the ordinary, everyday sort of thing that a Jedi faces - assassinations, bombings, hostage situations - the beginnings of aggressive negotiations.
There was nothing of the sort, thankfully, just delegates having a good time, enjoying the inventive, remarkably bright food offerings and cool exotic drinks. It would seem that Erelia knew how to throw a party, at least.
She must have been quite busy because I didn't see her for a lot of the evening. And when she did show up, she was all smiles and sweetness. I overheard her apologizing to Master Qui-Gon for her behavior, and offering up some kind of chocolate confection as a way of recompense.
I knew he wouldn't be able to resist. He loved chocolate in all its forms.
With some females, the situation might have called for more caution. Revenge could be sweet or so I've heard. But I didn't feel any danger in the candied treat that Qui-Gon was being offered. So I turned away and started toward some of the drunker delegates who had begun to argue a bit loudly.
I assumed that Master Qui-Gon accepted the chocolate and all was well. I was busy with other things for a while and didn't have time to watch him closely. He was a master after all. Any problems would be taken care of with finesse and his usual calm grace.
But now, as the party was beginning to wind down, things were heating up a bit around my master.
I'd never seen such a large group of women around him before. Usually, it's three or four females, humans and near-humans, that would cluster near him. There was a Hutt a few years back. She was a crowd all by herself, using that tail to keep others away from Master Qui-Gon. But for the most part, it's been humanoids.
Usually, though, he kept things under control. A nod, a soft thank-you and the flocks of admirers would melt away. Until the next set of females step in and he'd be surrounded again.
But this time, it was getting a little crowded. And then, as I watched the growing mob, I realized why. The women weren't leaving. They were trying to get closer - with mixed results. A squashed foot here, an elbow there and pretty soon, voices were raised and bodies were scrambling for position.
The swarm of beings surrounding Qui-Gon was now four-deep and growing every minute. As I watched, a cadre of security guards stepped in and began hauling some of the women away. The screeches of protest could be heard across the ballroom. But what was worse was that the few female guards present weren't helping. Instead, they were pushing aside members of the crowd and wading into the growing chaos, trying to get closer.
What was going on?
A head taller than the rest of the crowd, I could see that my master was concerned and not a little puzzled. The Force was muddied and I could feel him trying to use mind manipulation on the mob without success.
He couldn't move, certainly couldn't take out his lightsaber and scare them away and he couldn't push them aside, either. That would only cause injuries and after all, these were innocents. It was getting dangerous, though.
Our eyes met and I could feel Master Qui-Gon's apprehension. A clear plea for help in the Force.
Time to rescue my master.