Written with the help of the lovely Ryv Ryv
Who reads the news anyways?

“I… don’t think you should’ve said that. I know the Sith are bad, but you shouldn’t have… called out Darth Metus, or Srina Talon, just because they’re Sith. I mean, as far as I can tell, they’re more like weird Dark Jedi anyways.” Auteme sighed. “Yes, we should call out evil when we see it, but there are shades of grey, and we should keep our focus on the Sith Empire. When you talk like that -- it’s why people think you’re a warmonger.”

Across the room, Ryv stood before a workbench nestled away in a corner. An assortment of small parts littered the table. From bits of metal to loose wiring, he carefully pieced them together, one by one, forming what looked like the beginnings of a lightsaber. In comparison to Resolve’s sleek design and intricate hilt, his most recent passion project looked shoddy at best.

“You know,” he lifted it up for Auteme to see. “Takui’s lost his third lightsaber already. The kid doesn’t seem to understand how dangerous they can be in the wrong hands.”

Ryv set it down and looked back at her. “I worry about them all. Our latest wave of students, I mean. Most of ‘em want to be a part of the fight. I’m not sure if they know what that means, but I do know they aren’t ready. Takui is withdrawn, like being emotional around others hurts him. Aelys is a step away from delving too deep into his hatred for Sith and Imperials alike. Dagon’s still green.”

He shrugged and turned back to the table. “I’ve never cared what the galaxy thinks of me, Auteme. All I care about is keeping them safe.”

“I know,” she said. She walked across the room and pulled up a stool at the workbench to sit next to him. She propped her elbow up on the table and rested her chin in her hand.

“What a responsible adult you’ve turned out to be,” she teased. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m… worried that people actually listen to us. Worse, that we’ll say something and people will take it the wrong way. I know you want to protect people. Not everyone thinks that. And I know that doesn’t mean anything to you but it’ll make protecting people more difficult, you know? It’s hard enough making sure the Senate doesn’t slap us with more regulations, but if another nation comes in because they think we’re evil -- that hurts a lot more. More than just being careful.”

“People do listen to us. When we all founded the NJO, we willingly took on all the work of leading it. Maynard and Loske haven’t been as… involved, as I’d have liked, but you and I’ve done the best we could,” he picked up a thin sheet of durasteel, carefully fitting it into place over exposed wiring. “The galaxy is full of people who’ll damn me for anything I do. That’s how they keep people in check. By bringing people together, by being a leader, I’ve put a target on my back. People like Metus and Carnifex don’t want folks like me around. We threaten the norm. I don’t fear what’ll happen to me by telling everyone out there I know the truth, and I think other people need to stop being scared of what could happen.”

He took up a pair of tweezers, his focus now returned to the internal configuration of the saber. “If the Galactic Alliance is going to claim to be a force for good, it should stop hiding behind defensive pacts with tyrants. Led by Sith or not, the Confederacy spaced hundreds of refugees at Ryloth. If they’re willing to kill that many, how many more skeletons do you think they’ve got hidden away?”

Auteme nodded. “Yeah.”

She bit her lip. “I’m starting to think I’m a pretty terrible pacifist these days,” she said. “Just… remember when we thought we could convert all the Sith? Help them see the error in their ways, help them atone. With how we’re approaching this -- that’s not really an option, is it? Everyone’s already radicalized by their government, goes along with the decisions made by the leader, and we… can’t really help them. We’re leaving people behind as soon as we start fighting.”

She drummed her fingers on the table. “At least that decision isn’t always in our hands.”

“There’s a difference between blind idealism, and standing up for your ideals,” he reached down and tugged open a drawer. More loose parts revealed themselves, alongside several kyber crystals of various colors. “I can’t say whether or not you’re doing good as a pacifist, I honestly have no experience there, but I think you’re doing a good job in taking a stand for peace. You’ve helped people see there’s a light at the end of this bloodstained tunnel.”

He selected a crimson crystal from the lot and set it atop the table. Its pain could be felt by the two of them. What once contained an innocent purity now wept openly, corrupted by the dark side’s baleful essence.

“We don’t have to stop fighting for that original dream. We just have to be smarter about it. The Alliance, for all the good it’s done, is still deeply flawed. Corruption runs deep. If we’re gonna stop that radicalization, I think we need to attack it at its source. The Jedi have been relegated to a position of obedience to the government. Our voice goes unheard by the majority of the senate. That needs to change. If we’re going to help guide them to a better tomorrow, they need to respect us.”

A soft sigh escaped the Jedi Knight. “I think we can still help find redemption for many of the Sith. Just not now, not while they’re blanketed in propaganda from the Dark Council. All of it is designed to pacify them. I think most of ‘em can see better days. It’ll just take time.”

Placing two hands on the workbench, Ryv closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His mind emptied of all but the inert crystal. It slowly rose into the air, stopping inches from his face. Another deep breath from the Jedi saw the crystal begin to vibrate. Crimson leaked from within. It had a viscous quality to it. More power escaped the gem, forming a small sphere within the space between the kiffar and the crystal, no larger than a drop of blood.

The room grew colder around them. It was as if the dark side itself took physical form. Ryv studied the droplet for a moment, hesitating to finish the work. “This is my least favorite part.”

He straightened, inhaled slowly, and watched the corruption move closer. It stopped a hair’s length from the tip of his nose before it broke down. Two strands of energy pressed against the kiffar’s flesh, slowly worming deeper into his being. Amber flashed crimson. His skin paled, veins taking on a black coloring. His calm demeanor fell away, replaced by an overwhelming sense of apathy. The conversation at hand felt almost trivial at that moment. If the galaxy would not bend to his will, he would break it down piece by piece. The Jedi would stand at the forefront of a revolution. One that would see the Sith exterminated.

Ryv squeezed his eyes shut. “No, no, no.”

Each word was no more than a growl. He pushed away from the table and paced across the room. He reached down to his belt, his hand finding Resolve immediately. The weapon’s light flooded his body immediately. Apathy vanished, his skin took on it’s familiar honey color, and his crimson gaze faded back to soft amber.

Auteme had stayed quiet for a little while, watching as if to make sure that he hadn’t been possessed by some Sith ghost. When the color returned to him she gave a small smirk. “I think some of the Senate’s afraid of us,” she said. “Look how evil the Jedi are! That one can turn all pale when he eats some red stuff!”

Ryv chuckled. “I can’t blame them. I’m sure they see a power they don’t have and it makes ‘em uncomfortable.”

She grinned, but her expression soon sobered. “I always… feel bad, when I step on people’s toes, even if they’re bad people. And I care about what other people think of me, I worry about public perception, even if I know I won’t change much because of it,” she said. “We’re a weird team.”

“You’re everything I should be, Auteme. And I’m everything you shouldn’t be,” he slid the kyber crystal within the hilt, closing the small compartment designed to house the power source. “Weird or not, I think we’re the perfect team.”