The Mon Cal smiled wide. “Ah, Solari! I stopped by your office, but you were away. I was going to try again on my way out, but you found me instead.”
The Headmaster nodded. “I was disappointed to receive your resignation.”
“Yes, well, the flow of the Force has carried me away from here,” the Mon Cal shrugged. “And, if rumor is correctly, the flow has pushed Ood to the top; from a fishy to a tree, your choice of assistants is eclectic.”
Another nod. “Epis Bnar was at the top of my list. In fact, he was my list.”
Troutrooper gurgled a chuckle. “A Shard and a Neti. You two will outlive every student you instruct.”
A thick silence separated the Jedi and Dark Jedi.
“So, uh,” Troutrooper stumbled over his words. “Are there forms I need to compl—“
“That is a Jedi holocron,” Solari pointed at a glowing blue cube with a delicate, intricate design on the outside.
The fish picked up the cube. “This? Yes it is. I found it in the vault. Decided to keep it in lieu of payment.”
“That is property of the Shadow Academy. Taking it is tantamount to stealing.”
He rolled his bulbous eyes. “Like I care. 'Oh no! The big, mean Justicar will come for me! What will I ever do?' I can tell you what I won't do: worry about what the Justicar or his hands think.”
“I will proceed down the legal path if you proceed down the illegal path,” the Shard turned an unnerving shade of green. “Besides, a darksider such as yourself cannot open it. Even if you could, the Master inside would never reveal his wisdom to a Master of evil.”
“Now, now, Solari. Just because I'm a Dark Jedi Master doesn't mean I'm evil.”
The droid did not move.
“Okay, yes: I am evil, but that's besides the point.”
“You returned to the Shadow Academy staff for a reason. You're holding that reason in your hand. You did not come here to teach, you came here to pilfer.”
The Dark Jedi mocked indignation. “Is it evil for me to have multiple reasons for my actions? I hadn't been in the back rooms of this place since you lightsiders joined our fraternity. I was curious what you brought to the party. I found this treasure and thought it would suffice for my remuneration.”
“Your announced claim for joining the staff was to educate the next generation of Brothers and Sisters. Your unannounced claim was, apparently, to educate your generation of Brothers and Sisters. And since you are the sole remaining member of your graduating class, that means your unannounced claim was to educate yourself. As stated prior, you will be unable to access the holocron. In short, you failed on both your announced and unannounced reasons for rejoining the Shadow Academy staff.”
“Verified factual statements can inflict pain.”
“As can I,” his flipper found his lightsaber.
“Attacking a Dark Councilor is not wise. For someone who prides himself for his wisdom, I would be surprised you would even consider such a violent, unwise, and self-destructive threat.”
“True. Must pain you to know you will never learn the secrets contained within.”
“Why would you assume that?”
Troutrooper sat down. “You're a self-admitted archivist. Slicing is merely a means to an end, that end being your knowing every bit of data in the universe. You have visibility over any and all sources of information you desire, you spend your free time plugged in to the Holonet consuming more data in an evening than most do in a year, and you're in the library studying when you're not connected in your office. You can access almost all holocrons, Sith and Jedi, but not this one. The Dark Side holocrons want to seduce you back to the Dark Side. The Jedi ones are thrilled to share their knowledge with a kindred spirit. But this one,” the Mon Cal pointed at the pyramid, making it hover and spin. “This is a master-level holocron. The knowledge, the secrets inside...Who knows what the Jedi master inside will reveal? But, unfortunately for you, you'll never learn them.”
“Never is a long time, and I have plenty of time at my disposal.”
“So it will pain you for an eternity to never be able to access it.”
“Why do you mock me? I consider you a friend, yet you treat me like an ignorant rock.”
“As stated prior, I am evil. Or maybe I am giving you a goal at which to aim. Your choice.”
“Evil and masochistic. Whereas I have all eternity to become strong enough in the Force to open that, you do not. You will die, and unless you repent and return to the light, you will not learn the contents.”
Troutrooper gurgled a chuckle. “Return to the light. I wasn't aware droids could do humor.”
“We all begin with the light. The Dark Side corrupts, leading people to the fall.“
“Let's agree to disagree. I mean, you're wrong, but I don't have the time or patience to explain why. Perhaps while you endure your millennia of wanting to know what's locked inside this puzzle cube, you can dull the pain for a few years by meditating on why you're wrong.”
“When did you become impolite and cruel?”
“I've always been. Usually I keep that side of me hidden as being impolite and cruel can ruin one's aspirations. I'm not so concerned about such things any more.”
“You'd still be my Magistrate if you were.”
“You'd be my Magistrate if I truly was.”
Servos whirred and gears clicked as Solari shifted his weight. “You're not going to let that go, are you?”
“What? Losing out on a DC position? I made my peace with it, more so than Sce—“
“Excuse me. More so than my counterpart did. I realized that although I could help both the Brotherhood as a whole and Arcona doing the part-time gig.”
“So how does absconding with an artifact of the Brotherhood—one that you cannot use—aid the Brotherhood?”
“Point,” Troutrooper smiled. “I suppose it does not. Yet if I could unlock its secrets, I would be the first Dark Jedi to learn the knowledge of the interred Jedi master. Such powerful wisdom would be a boon to the Brotherhood, the most glorious feather in my cap.”
“I am surprised I must remind you so many times that you cannot open that box. Now not, not ever as a Dark Jedi. And since you refuse to recant your hatred, you will be refused access to it. If you left it here, a Jedi master may one day arise, someone who will be able to open the holocron.” He paused, swirling inside his robotic abode. “You are modest. I cannot recall any instance of braggadocio from you. Yet you speak of praise heaped upon you for a future act as though the praise is why you perform your future act.”
Troutrooper shrugged. “Maybe I'm beginning to accept that I am a Dark Jedi Master, more powerful than all but a few individuals in the galaxy. Maybe I have finally accepted that fact. Or maybe I have always been less than humble on the inside, but outwardly quiet and reserved regarding my own successes.”
“Do you consider your time as my Magistrate a success or failure?”
“I consider it over,” the Dark Jedi Master snatched the spinning holocron and placed it in his box. “My shuttle back to the Darkest Night is waiting for me. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Magistrate. May you bend the Dark Side to you will.” He bowed, took his box, and left Solari alone in the room.
“Troutrooper,” the Shard called to the leaving Mon Cal, “you are not the person who served as my Magistrate.”
His flippers stopped. His head bowed. He turned to the Headmaster, blinked (His eyes look wet. Is that normal wetness? Cannot discern from this range.), and nodded. “I will return it to you when I am finished,” he said as he turned back toward the exit.