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A Question of Willpower

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
jungle_hunt_by_aths_art-dbxpbjb.jpg
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Crash Site
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

Something, somewhere, was bound to go wrong at some point, no matter how carefully one planned things. There were simply too many variables and unknowns, which even the greatest of planners could not anticipate and today had been one such thing. Darth Tacitus had been secretly meeting with some informants that were supposed to give him some information concerning the whereabouts of the traitor Ra'a'mah. Despite their credentials checking out even to the best of scrutiny, the whole thing turned out to be a setup, orchestrated by the Republic Remnant's Jedi in order to capture him, which they did.

But things wouldn't go exactly according to their plan, either. Through plain bad luck, the ship that was transporting Tacitus towards whichever destination the Jedi had in mind for him, happened to find itself ambushed by pirates who were in possession of a jury-rigged gravity well device. A short firefight later and the small corvette was sent tumbling through the atmosphere of some nameless, uninhabited planet on a plume of flame and smoke.

The Sith Lord awoke a short time after the crash, his Netherworld-twisted body's healing abilities kicking in to repair the damage faster than a normal body would, thus giving him the advantage of regaining consciousness before anyone else did. It did not take him long for him to slip out of his restraints and after quickly retrieving his weapons and activating the transmitter hidden within the hilt of one of his lightsabers, he proceeded to check the crash site for survivors and found only one. A young woman, barely nearing adulthood, whom the Sith Lord proceeded to drag out of the burning wreck of the vessel, having decided to get as far away from the dead ship before the pirates showed up to check for loot. He had no desire to face off against starfighters while armed with only his lightsabers and longsword.

Checking her for hidden weapons, he made sure to restrain her before setting up a small campfire and waited for her to regain consciousness, his unnatural, cat-like eyes scanning the dense foliage around them for threats, while his taloned fingers absently drummed a rhythm on the hilt of the Darkness-marked longsword that hung from his belt.
M8NGT4h.png
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla had spent a long stretches in Wild Space in her latter time as a Padawan and since she had become a Knight. It differed from the Unknown Regions in that it was explored and unmapped, whereas for the Unknow Regions, it was the other way around.

And given the Republic Remnant’s position, it was a logical place to offer assistance, extend a sphere of influence and gain potential allies.

And bagging a Sith was a win-win for the Order. No planet was ungrateful that such an individual was removed from causing havoc (or even taking over an entire system) and the Jedi had one fewer thorn to have in its side.

The planning was meticulous. The trail of false evidence faultless. And they’d ensured that nobody under two removed from their target knew of the sting. Loose lips were not going to damage any ships on this mission. Those closest to the Sith were genuinely scum or villains – or often both – and would therefore be entirely believable, even if challenged or tortured.

If there was a flaw in the plan, it was that it was so plausible, that others showed an interest. Such as the pirates who saw the opportunity to ambush the Sith and claim a reward or ransom, whichever paid better. So, their attack was ill-informed but no less catastrophic in its outcome.

The Jedi’s Corvette suffered suffient damage to crash-land on the closest planet. It was debatable if the fact the planet was uninhabited was a stroke of good or ill-fortune. On the plus side, no possible civilian casualties. On the down side, no rescue teams would be dispatched to search for survivors.

The last thing Lilla remembered was the ship travelling way too fast through the sparse cloud cover and the trees looming up in their vision was too quickly.

The pilot did her best to level off as they touched the treetops – but they hit the at a forty-five-degree angle. The landing gear sheared off on impact, tearing loose with a thunderous crack. Wide gashes appeared in the sides of the ship, the hull hurtling into thick branches and boughs with enough force to tear through the reinforced sheets of metal and peel them away from their frame.

Inside the ship, the Jedi and prisoner were bounced against walls and ceiling. Lilla was spun, tossed, and slammed against the sides of the cockpit as the vessel careened through the trees. Even the Force couldn't fully shield her from the devastating crash as the ship carved a kilometre-long swath of burned and broken foliage before slamming into the soft, muddy ground of a swamp and finally coming to rest.

Lilla was unconscious and remained so for some time.

When she finally began to come around, she was aware of the smell of smoke, but it was faint. Either the ship had been on fire and gone out or there was minimal damage.

She gingerly opened and eye and realised the reason for the faint smell of smoke was entirely different. She was some distance from the ship – and wondered if she’d been thrown clear when it crashed. But her body position suggested otherwise – it was as if she had been put into a comfortable position on purpose.

Of course, comfort was a relative term. She instinctively knew her body was covered with painful bruises and contusions, her face and hands cut from fragments of shattered glass; and her left thigh was bleeding heavily from a deep five-centimetre gash. Her left wrist was possibly broken and two, maybe three ribs were cracked. The optimist in her noted none had punctured a lung.

She tasted blood in her mouth and was pleased that none of her wounds was life threatening.

Which was fortunate as she quickly realised that cuts and bruises were not her primary concern. The Sith who was presently only a few metres away, was.

She opened both eyes now – and added a thumping headache to the list of ailments. Then she observed the Sith. On the plus side, he hadn’t killed her. On the debit side? He had to have a darned good reason to spare her life, and Lilla suspected she was not going to find out the why palatable.

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The warlord's unnatural, slitted eyes seemed to bore into the Lilla's own as the Sith Lord regarded her silently, seemingly considering his options before speaking. "You're awake," the bestial Sith said, poking the embers of the small fire with one of his sharp claws. "Good. I was beginning to think you wouldn't recover from the crash. You took quite the beating," the man spoke in a raspy, gravelly voice which was flat and emotionless.

"Before you ask, no, there were no other survivors and no, I did not kill anyone. Regardless of what you may have been told about me, I don't kill or torture people just for the sake of it, only when it serves a purpose," the strange, half-beast, half-man Sith said, his eyes drifting to a pair of fresh mounds that had been recently erected nearby. Each mound had a helmet fixed on top of it, revealing their purpose as graves. The graves of his two bodyguards, which had died defending him during the Jedi operation, dutiful to the very end. The Sith Lord seemed to care enough about that to go through the effort of returning to the crash site to retrieve the bodies and give them a proper burial, despite his own injuries, which appeared to be healing unnaturally fast, no doubt the result of whichever foul Sorcery had given him his cat-like eyes and the sharp talons at the ends of his fingers.

Whatever his reasons, the Sith Lord snapped out of his reverie and his eyes returned to the restrained girl sitting across the fire from where he stood. "Now, judging by your apparent age, I take it you haven't been knighted for long. So, unless you grew up in the wild, which is unlikely, as the Jedi usually raise their apprentices in the safety of their temples, I think its safe to assume that you don't have a lot of experience in situations like our present circumstances."

Giving her a grave look to let her know that he was serious, he stood up from his spot by the fire and walked over to where she sat, drawing a military knife from his belt as he approached. "The way I see it, you have two options. You could try to kill or capture me again, in which case I would kill you, or we could work together to stay alive until my fleet arrives to deal with the pirates and pick us off this rock," he said, using the knife to cut the rope that bound her wrists and ankles together. "So, what will it be?" he asked, his free hand resting casually on the hilt of his longsword.
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Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla smiled as the Sith spoke to her. Was it something she could not help – given she was predisposed to a positive demeanour – or was she doing it to annoy?

She allowed him to speak. In part because she was doing her best to come to – still feeling slightly groggy – and also because she learned whilst she listened and gave nothing away either.

She wanted to use the healing abilities she had learned to help with her injuries, but did not risk accessing the Force without warning the Sith, in case he saw it as a sign of potential aggression.
His words were definitely civil, even if his delivery was non-committal. He was even showing interest in her welfare – unless he was engaging in small talk, which she suspected was not a common trait when a Sith met a Jedi. Especially a helpless one. And she could not help but notice his eyes – they were not human, or rather the irises weren’t. They were more reptilian, or maybe feline.

She wanted to smile wider at his definition of caring and compassionate. People killed insects because they bothered them. They would argue it served a purpose. But she was aware she was in danger of stereotyping the man in front of her. She may sense he is a Sith, and draws on the dark-side, but she had no way of telling which laws he held sacred, or where his moral compass pointed.

Lilla glanced around at her surroundings when he mentioned their circumstances. She hadn’t taken them in until this point. It hurt to swivel her head – but then it hurt to move her body too. They were in a jungle. She had limited experience of such climates – but she had some.

Realising she was going to have to speak eventually, she allowed him to cut her bonds and then she began. Her voice was raspy initially, but as she continued, it returned to a rough approximation of her normal tone – albeit dehydration and her injuries impacted her speech patterns.

“I was raised on a desert planet, so not too many jungles to contend with. I’ve visited Dxun once, so I have some experience, albeit limited.” She remained still, not flexing her arms or legs. She wanted more than ever to call on the Force but was keen not to spook the Sith.

“Do or do not, there is no try,” she said automatically – it was a saying that was drilled into Padawans. She smiled. “Ignore me, some teachings run deep. I can’t say I’d be content to allow you to escape. The Jedi Code is somewhat ambivalent on this front. Would both our deaths represent a positive result? Perhaps? Would me surviving ensure future generations live? Maybe.”

She paused for a few seconds, the knitted brow clearly sharing the fact that she was genuinely considering the choices laid out in front of her – as if dying was a better outcome than living. Finally, she said, “We should deal with the pirates – which means working together.” There was no talk of survival, but of accomplishing a mission. "So, we have a truce.”

“And if we have a pact, I need you to allow me to access the Force to help repair some of my injuries. Agreed?”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The Sith Lord raised an eyebrow, perhaps amused by her words. He let out a short, bitter laugh before nodding his permission to her to heal her wounds. "Ah. The Jedi Code," he said, his tone bearing a hint of condescension. "The second biggest lie in the galaxy. Perhaps one day, you will learn. If you are capable of handling the truth."

His amused expression vanished as he fixed her with a stern look. "Here is a fact for you. When you captured me, your people failed to look inside the hilts of my lightsabers. Yes, I checked. The transmitter is still there," he said. "Which means that right now, my entire fleet is bearing down on this planet and it is more than capable of dealing with a few pirates. There is nothing you could do to prevent my escape and the only outcome of an attempt to do so, would be your death," the Sith Lord explained to her.

Yet, despite his warning, the warlord produced something from underneath his cloak, handing it to her. It was her lightsaber, which he had removed when he restrained her, after the crash. "Right now, my biggest concern isn't the pirates," he said. "I did some scouting while you were unconscious. Not too far from here, I discovered a set of tracks which I am all too familiar with," the Sith Lord proceeded to explain. "There's only one thing in the galaxy that makes those tracks, a Tuk'ata. The creature is out of its natural environment, which means it must have come here the same way we did. And Tuk'ata are bred to hunt Force sensitives."

"If it comes down to it, I will deal with the beast. However, you keep your lightsaber close by, just in case," the strange man said, his tone instructional, the voice of a man used to training and leading troops into battle. As if to reaffirm this, his hand drifted unconsciously to the sword at his belt, which oozed a permanent aura of horror around it, like a dark cloud, a result of the alchemy behind the creation of Sith Swords.

"Seeing how we are going to be working together, it would be best if we made our introductions," the Sith Lord said. "I am Darth Tacitus," he introduced himself as if his name did not require any other titles, which it didn't. The man standing in front of Lilla, was known as the White Wolf of Ession and was the Overlord of the Shrouded Republic, the most powerful constituent state within the now defunct Ancient Eye.

He had a reputation as the harsh, ruthless leader of an equally harsh nation, an elected official, unusual for typical Sith rulers, yet one whom his people followed with fanatical loyalty. A man who kept his word when making a promise, but quick to deal out the harshest of punishments when his trust was betrayed, or when a crime was committed against his nation. Back when the Shrouded Republic took the moon of Winter, a radical religious insurgency calling itself the Hand of Light, which claimed to uphold and enforce the Jedi Code without compromise, rose against their rule, unleashing a wave of terrorist attacks against the occupation. When the insurgency was defeated and their leaders were captured, Tacitus had ordered them executed by crucifixion. Some of them reportedly wailed for days before the moon's harsh climate finally killed them.

But, although the Shrouded Republic had abandoned its base of operations on the moon Winter, heading for destinations unknown, its military forces were still unaccounted for, which meant that it was far from defeated. In fact, unknown to all but a few, the Shrouded Republic was now stronger than ever.
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Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla had heard of Dun Möch. It was possible the Sith was using it on her now. Or maybe he believed what he was saying.

Lilla was young and relatively inexperienced, but she was wise enough not to bother trying to convince people about the Jedi Code. Maybe that was why it was thought of as a religion — because to understand the Code, you had to have faith. Some people got it - but the majority did not. She was at peace with that, and did not feel the need to convert anyone.

She gently connected with the Force, and performed Healing Meditation. Interestingly, meditation was one of her strong suits and she was able to meditate like this, and continue a conversation at the same time — it was as if she combined Moving and Healing Meditations into one.

She took the lightsaber, and offered a shallow bow — discomfort not allowing a more formal response. “Thank you,” she said, clipping it to her belt.

And then she took in his news. The Sith hounds he mentioned were the stuff of legend. Or would be, if they weren’t real. Oversized, fearless and relentless.

And she bristled at his chauvinism, but did not attribute that to his Sith-ness, she knew enough Jedi who acted the same way around young women. But she held her tongue, and continued to heal herself.

When he introduced himself, Lilla had to admit the name was familiar, but she could not attribute any specific stories to the man. It was not that he was not powerful or infamous — but rather she had studied so many Sith Lords and over such a long period.

“I am Lilla,” she responded. “Lilla Syrin. And you know I represent the Republic Remnant Jedi Order.” And now she was speaking, and her body feeling better, she felt the need to share a thought or two that had been bugging her since he said them.

“What is the biggest lie?” LIlla asked, as she felt the Force course through her body, speeding up the minor repairs. “That the Code is a chain that binds me?”

“And how is it that I am not surprised that a Sith sees not killing me as some sort of heroic act. I come into contact with hundreds of people a day, and I don’t kill them. But I don’t go looking for a medal.” She seemed unperturbed by the news an entire Sith fleet was heading this way. She was at peace with the concept of dying — it would happen one day, only the date was a variable. And nor did she seem phased by potentially provoking a powerful Sith Lord.

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The Overlord responded with another one of his bitter laughs, shaking his head as he did so. "My, my. We've only just met and you're already so judgmental," he said, his tone suggesting that he was amused. "I don't kill, or torture people without a reason, young Jedi. And I hold no illusions about the nature of my actions, I know very well that many of them are outright evil," he spoke to her, his tone becoming more serious as he went on, and perhaps a little sad. "That does not make them any less necessary."

His shoulders sagged a little as he turned his head away, not wanting her to see the look on his face, the look of a tired man who wore a heavy burden on his shoulders. "Which part of the Jedi code is a lie? All of it," he said, deciding not to answer her first question just yet. "There is no emotion, there is peace? And yet, without emotion, there is no compassion and no independent thought, leaving us to be either mindless droids who do what they are told with no consideration for what the consequences are, or primitive creatures driven purely by instinct. And how can there be peace, when competition and conflict are at the very core of what drives evolution, when without conflict, life would never have evolved beyond the most simple of bacteria? Peace is a lie, for without conflict, life can not exist."

"There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. Yet knowledge is often hoarded by the few and much of the galaxy lives in ignorance. And, perhaps the greatest irony of them all, it is the Jedi themselves who are the most ignorant, for how can those who are the purported keepers of knowledge not know the important role which conflict has, in insuring that life continues to exist?"

"There is no passion, there is serenity? Without passion, there is no drive to do anything, to achieve anything. Without passion, there would be no technology, no civilization and nobody to care enough about all the things that are wrong in this galaxy, to fix them. That serenity you speak of, sounds more like the kind of thing one drills into the heads of brainwashed slaves. Obey without question."

"There is no chaos, there is harmony. And yet, this harmony you speak of, is nowhere to be seen and has never existed. Existence itself is born out of chaos and is defined by the chaotic processes of creation and destruction at its most fundamental level. The only thing that has true harmony, is the cold, empty vacuum of space, or, perhaps, a black hole."

"There is no death, there is the Force. And yet, death is all around us and a part of the natural process of life, without which life itself could not function. This entire line is the biggest travesty of the entirety of the Jedi code, that drives those who believe in it to throw their lives away, and the lives of others, doing what they are told and killing who they are told, with no question or hesitation," he spoke, dismantling the hated Jedi code with every argument he had against it, line by line. "The entire Jedi Order is nothing more than a cult, a herd of brainwashed, hypocritical sheep who have suddenly declared themselves the absolute arbiters of right and wrong who, failing to persuade others to subscribe to their beliefs, will not hesitate to resort to the very same violence they so openly claim to reject, in order to enforce these beliefs by force. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, as far as the Jedi Order's problems are concerned," the Sith Lord said to her.

"The history Jedi Order is stained with so much blood, that it would paint nearly every world in the galaxy red, should it ever be brought to account. And the Jedi list of crimes is so long that it would take one a hundred lifetimes to tally," he said, looking her straight in the eyes, his own slitted, glowing golden orbs boring into hers. "I have done many distasteful things in my life, things that insure I will never enjoy the pleasure of a good night's sleep. I will do many more, before my work is finished. But at least, I am not a hypocrite. Unlike your masters, and their masters before them."
M8NGT4h.png
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla could not supress the smile that forced its way onto her lips. She was not, as a rule, judgemental. At least, not on matters of opinion. Should a Jedi marry or not? That was a grey area in her mind and although she had a view, she did not have even the faintest of notions that anyone or everyone should fall in with her beliefs. But murder? That was not a subject of opinion but fact. If it was lawful, it would not be called murder, after all. Now – the fact that each planet had its own moral code and constructed its law in accordance with these – that was an interesting (although fruitless) debate. But 99.9% of murders on all planets were uncontentious.

“I had no intention of judging,” she responded honestly. “I simply shared my perception of your words. I don’t torture at all – I see no reason that could justify it. And I take a life as a last resort. Again, not shared in a judgemental way, merely a reflection of the facts of the matter.”

“I am not foolish enough to assume all Sith are the same, any more than all Jedi are alike. But some generalities are valid – and often it is better to be cautious and wait to be proven wrong. A wampa may be tame, but if I came across one in an ice cave on Hoth, my inclination would to be defensive – not wait for it to eat me before deciding it was hostile.”

“So I guess it all hinges on our definitions of necessary.” Lilla was, by nature, someone who loved to debate the philosophy of the Jedi, and it seemed even a Sith was not immune to her desire to discuss.

She nodded as he recited the Jedi Code. It was common to take the words literally and present them as a lie. It was also, she believed, quite understandable.

“On the face of it, I would agree, the Jedi Code is full of oxymorons. Which is part of its beauty and also its flaw. The flaw comes from the fact that it lends itself to interpretation. Sadly, many people see it the way they wish. We all see the galaxy not as it is – but as we are. We place our own beliefs, perceptions and prejudices on anything and everything we encounter. The Jedi Code is not invulnerable to this. And remember, the Code is written solely for Jedi to follow – not the entire galaxy. It is essential for us to discharge our duties as servants of the light and protectors of the weak.”

“So, what is its strength? That it encourages thought and reflection. It is not a simple rule-book, to be followed blindly. It is to be understood, meditated on – and ultimately the Force is trusted to guide us – as we are trusted to follow it. Let there be truth between your heart and the Force.”

“So, to begin with, a Jedi is taught to accept emotions – they are an essential part of life. But they must not make our decisions for us, or even guide us. A Jedi must be at peace when they make an intervention. It is why attachments are, as a rule, discouraged. Attachments, by definition, involve strong emotions. It is infinitely harder to ignore them and make the right decision.”

“And let us not forget that a Jedi yielding to passion is typically the first step down the path to the dark side.”

“And, of course, conflict exists in the galaxy. But to balance it, a Jedi should remain at peace – it is part of our role, is it not, to bring about balance?”

“And I suspect you already know how I shall continue. A Jedi should never approach a state of affairs from a position of ignorance. For this will lead to a bad decision. That is not to say a Jedi will always know all of the facts. But they should plan for success – and plan for success first. Then, they plan for failure. If a situation arises a Jedi has not fully researched, then they will have a fall-back position. Some suggest that a Jedi that is not willing to follow a path of knowledge will instead track a short-cut to the dark side.”

“And yes, many see knowledge as power, and that is wrong. But as I say, a Jedi does not deny the existence of conflict – any more than we refute the existence of ignorance. The Code is inward looking, not outward facing. It is not a blueprint Jedi wish to impose on the galaxy but a code of conduct we should abide by.”

“So, for a Jedi, there is no need for passion to provide a drive to do things. We operate out of a sense of service, of duty. Not blindly following a Code, but understanding it, making a conscious decision to embrace it or not, and then putting it into practice. Easy should not be conflated with right. The easy path walked tends to lead to the dark side, isn’t that true?”

Lilla remained calm throughout, her voice serene and focused, as if addressing a layperson, wishing to understand more about the Jedi. If the Sith meant to antagonise her through his challenge, she did not react that way – rather she saw it as an opportunity to enlighten. But her tone suggested she was not here to argue her case, merely offer it as an alternative way of seeing things. She had no expectation the Sith Lord would suddenly change his mind and become a Jedi as the result of anything she said.

“And to cover your next observation, there is chaos all around us – as I have mentioned, it is our role to bring about balance, harmony. And we do this in part through serenity.”

She smiled broadly now. “And for a Jedi, there is no death, not in the usual sense. When I die, I shall become one with the Force. So, in that sense, I will never die. But the fact is, I shall die – only the date is unknown. It may be tomorrow, it may be in a minute’s time. But it will happen and I am ready for it. Therefore, I do not fear it.”

“Are we a cult? If we accept the usual definition – a group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular goal – then yes, I’d say we are. The term cult is an objective one, yet is so often used subjectively – invariably negatively. Brainwashed? No. Selfless individuals that believe in what the Jedi Code believes.“

“And I am careful to not include all that call themselves Jedi in that definition. I do not mean that as a disparaging remark, but – in theory at least – to call yourself a Jedi means to follow the Code. And with your heart. And oddly, there is nothing in the Code about the Sith or even the dark-side, but I digress.”

“So, a true Jedi does not decide what is right or wrong. We are not politicians, we are not law-makers. We serve – in my case the Republic Remnant. I serve democracy. I do not impose my beliefs on others, but am willing to train Younglings and Padawans, if the path of a Jedi is right for them. And a true Jedi abhors violence. It will always be a tool of last resort…always.”

“And I concur, the Jedi as a galactic whole are beset by problems. Some say the way to resolve them is to unify. Which is a grand notion but flawed – given each Order wants to unite under their specific interpretation of the Code.”

“And even if you go back in time, the Jedi were troubled. The genocide of the Vahla for instance – a terrible, terrible act. One that can never be truly atoned for.”

“If I could redress sins of Jedi past, I would. But pragmatism says I can’t. So, what to do? I do what the famous saying dictates. ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ I cannot change the past. I can change my future actions and influence others. Hopefully that is the best use of the wisdom at my disposal.”

“And I appreciate you listening as I have rambled somewhat. Maybe you’d call my views on the Code passionate?” She offered a wry smile. “Maybe it is a search for wisdom, and that suggests it is about serenity. But I would be interested on your take on what I have said.”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The Sith Lord found her optimism and her smile amusing, though this debate entertained him, as he also enjoyed philosophy, perhaps as much as she did. "I suppose it would be nice if we all lived in a galaxy where everything was so cut and dry, black and white, where the lines are clear for everyone to see," he responded. "Sadly, we do not live in such a galaxy."

"You are still young, but one day you will learn that there isn't always a good choice to make. That sometimes, one must make a hard choice for the greater good, to choose a lesser evil over a much greater one," he said. "Here's a mental exercise for you. There are two rooms, separated by a transparisteel window. You are in one room and on the other side, there are ten people. Ten innocent strangers whom you know nothing of and who had done nothing to deserve being locked into that room," the Overlord spoke, clearly amused by the problem which he was now throwing at her.

"Locked within the same room with them, there is a bomb. A bomb which will explode, killing everyone in the room," Tacitus explained. "But not all is lost. In your hand, is a remote control with a button. Pressing that button will disable the bomb, but will also deliver an electric shock that will kill half of the hostages in that room. There is no way to get to the bomb in time and no other way to disarm it."

"My question for you, Lilla, is what do you do?" he asked. "Do you press the button, knowingly killing five innocent people in order to save the other five? Or do you do nothing and let them all die, so you wouldn't stain your hands with their blood? And no, there are no other options, here. You have to pick one of the two."

"Also, which choice is the right one? Is either choice morally correct? Is letting everyone die in order to preserve your innocence, the right thing to do? Or is it an act of evil to abandon them to their fate, when you could do something to save some of them, even if that would require an act of evil, in and of itself."

"My point here is that sometimes, there are no good options. There are some problems which the Jedi are incapable of addressing, due to what the solutions to those problems require. Sometimes, hard choices must be made, in order to avert a greater tragedy," he said to her.

"Even if taking a life should only ever be a last resort, sometimes that last resort is the only viable option. Sometimes, the life which must be taken, is an innocent life, which has done nothing to deserve death, and yet must die, so that many more could live."

His eyes drifted into the distance as he spoke, his shoulders sagging a little. "I have had to make that choice. I have stood on the edge of the abyss and seen what lies beyond," the Sith Lord spoke, his voice lower, the words carrying more weight. "The galaxy stands on the precipice. Throughout its history, the eternal war between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, has torn this galaxy to shreds and each time this conflict flares up, it only gets worse. And while conflict is a natural and beneficial thing, this particular brand of war is one in which there are never any winners."

Fixing his eyes onto hers, he spoke with a powerful conviction, yet one married to a deep sorrow. "You Jedi have shown yourselves incapable of doing anything about this situation. How could you, when you are part of the problem? When you perpetuate the very thing which causes this conflict in the first place? And yet, something must be done."

Turning away to look into the distance, the Sith Lord sighed. "I am going to bring the galaxy back from the edge, even if I have to drag it by the neck in chains, kicking and screaming. I will bring it all down, the whole corrupt disease which has infected this galaxy, then I will wrap my fingers around its neck and I will squeeze. All these things are necessary and I will do them. Because someone has to..." he said, his voice drifting into silence. "Because nobody else will."
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Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla listened. One one hand, the Sith Lord presented an impossible conundrum. On the other, it was a simple case of arithmetic.

“No, we do not live in a place of black and white. But I do not mourn that situation, merely understand that is the galaxy I reside in.”

“In the holovids, the hero would save all ten and foil the bad guy. And yes, you would be cast as the villain. But this is not a movie and heroic events are not commonplace.”

“Jedi are expected to make not the best decision, but the least bad one. So, in your scenario, I would save five.”

“Better the blood of those that died be on my conscience. I would absorb the anger of the relatives whose lives perished — even though the alternative was to let them all die. For I am no hero from the holovids, who is seen to be the saviour in the end and loved by all. Rather I make the tough decisions and live with the consequences. And, as long as I have done all I can to save the lives I have, my should will remain unblemished by the dark side. For I do not seek fame, glory or adulation. I merely wish to do my best to save just one life. That is my only payment.”

“I am not sure our philosophies are so far apart in many ways. How we use our views is where we differ.”

“Would the galaxy be a better place without Jedi? I cannot see it. Would a galaxy run by the Sith be a preferable option? Again, I do not see any logic in that argument. If we are culpable by opposing you, then that is a charge we must accept. But to do nothing? That would be a far greater crime. Again, no best choice, just the least bad one.”

“But what makes you think you are the solution? Why you alone? Others have trodden that path before and never fulfilled their promises. Is it foolishness or vanity that drives these desires?”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The warlord laughed bitterly at her, amused by her statements about the Jedi Order's purpose. He knew better than to believe in that propaganda. Afterall, he had seen the true face of the Jedi Order with his own eyes. And he found it lacking. "Everything you have been taught about the Jedis' purpose is a lie. The Jedi do not exist to make the least evil choice, nor do they exist to save lives. They exist to perpetuate a system of beliefs and an ideology," he said to her.

"Do you know why your kind really stands in opposition to mine? What caused the great schism that led to the birth of the Jedi and Sith in the first place?" he asked. "It is because your Order demands conformity and unquestioning adherence to its beliefs and those who are perceived to stray from that path, no matter what their intentions, are hunted down."

"Is the Jedi Order better than the Sith, when its history is stained with just as much blood? No. Are the Sith any better than the Jedi? No," he said. "But, you see, the difference is that the Sith are not an order, or an organization, although some Sith create organizations of their own. The Sith Code teaches you to find your own path, to decide your own destiny. To seek to improve yourself, to adapt, to grow. Contrary to popular belief, it does not teach one to murder, torment or oppress people for entertainment, or to seek power for its own sake. Those who go down that path are weak, pathetic creatures, driven exclusively by instinct and momentary impulse. You think the path of the Darkside is easy? In truth, it is the hardest path of all, because so very few truly succeed at learning its lessons."

"The conflict between the Lightside and the Darkside, is the conflict between absolute order and absolute freedom. Between collectivism and individuality. Between structure and chaos. Yet, both sides have become too rigid and have lost sight of the things that are right in front of them. You say you would save those five civilians at the cost of the other five. And yet, if you were to do that, your Order would brand you a traitor and a murderer," he said to her. "I've seen it happen more times than I can count. Indeed, many of those who are now part of the Wardens of the Shroud, were once Jedi who found themselves in a situation just like that."

"The requirement to adhere to a rigid structure and system of beliefs is what makes the Jedi incapable of saving this galaxy. For, when faced with the truth, most Jedi would rather see the galaxy burn, than do what is necessary to save it. And those few who would be willing to make the hard, necessary choice, would be branded outlaws. Cast out. Hunted. Destroyed."

"And this brings us back to your earlier question. What is the biggest lie? What is this enemy that is so terrible that I would sacrifice countless lives in order to defeat?" he asked her, looking her straight in the eyes. "I would have you answer that question, yourself."

"Think. The eternal conflict between the Lightside and the Darkside is supposed to be a natural conflict of opposites. And yet, it is a conflict in which there are never any winners, neither on the Sith, or Jedi side. It is a conflict which keeps flaring up, getting worse every time, leaving the galaxy in ashes and bringing it one step closer to annihilation, almost as if it is a staged event. Almost as if there is intention behind it. It is the nature of all conflict to end with a winning side and a losing side. So, if neither the Jedi, or the Sith are the winners, then answer me this. Who, or what profits from it all?"
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Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla was unsure if she should be offended by the Sith’s laughter, or vindicated in her views of him.

“I have my own mind. The Code is there for all to see and interpret – as I have said before. Personally, it resonates with my own philosophy. Does that mean all Jedi think alike? Of course not. Does it indicate I have been lied to about the Jedi’s purpose? Again no.”

“If anything, your observations reinforce what is important about the Code, and what so many fail to accept when they adopt the ‘title’ Jedi – and for many it is a self-appointed designation. For you see, we are instructed to honour The Jedi Order. It is said that, when a Jedi behaves badly in public, an observer might think, ‘If this Jedi is a representative of the whole Order, then plainly no Jedi is worth respect.’ Only by the good behaviour of the vast majority of Jedi can the public be certain that the poor behaviour of one was unusual. Thus, it takes many Jedi to undo the mistakes of one. Or if too few represent the Order and the Code appropriately, it is likely the poor perception will prevail.”

“That does not make your perception any less valid – perhaps more so. I am sure you have no desire to be negative of the Jedi for the sake of it – so you are simply sharing with me what you have seen. What I am hoping to let you know is that, do not judge all by the behaviour of one, some or even the majority. That might reflect their behaviour, but is should not be a record of the true nature of the Jedi Order.”

“Am I being disrespectful to others, around the galaxy, that call themselves Jedi but do not follow the letter and spirit of the Code?” Lilla cocked her head to one side, as if considering her own words. “Perhaps…perhaps. But is that an intentional slight? No. Is it a statement of fact? Yes. I say what I say, not from a position of judgement – not to find others wanting – but to clarify what it means to honour the Code. Nothing more and nothing less.”

“You see, I do not exist to perpetuate a system of beliefs and an ideology. I exist to serve. To honour the Code and to protect the weak. Does my Order demand conformity? Yes. But don’t the Sith have a Code? Is it so different to suggest that being a Sith, and following that Code is – to an extent – conforming?”

“But I do not accept that my Order hunts down anyone – Sith, rogue Jedi or anyone else. And I refute that the Jedi have as much blood on their hands as the Sith. The Vahla were an exception, as I said, and a terrible one.”

“And isn’t it an oxymoron to follow a Code that tells you to find your own path? I’m not critical, by the way, I just find the semantics of language intriguing.”

“And I agree, my understanding of the Sith Code is that it does not tell you to kill, maim or torture. It tells you to seek power. But just as some call themselves Jedi and are selective in the aspects of the Code they follow, I am sure that some Sith are the same. But I disagree that the path to the dark side is harder. A path to the dark side and upholding the Sith Code – as it was originally written? Now that, I suspect, is a considerable challenge. But to access the dark side for purely personal gain? Not too difficult I suspect.”

“But once again, you conflate Jedi, the Order and the wider galaxy. Jedi do not denounce individualism. We promote a collective approach to life as a Jedi – yes. But only for ourselves, not for others. And you confuse freedom with chaos. Freedom is something I would die to defend, like democracy.”

“Am I rigid in my approach to being a Jedi? Possibly? Is it harmful to anyone? I do not believe so. But if there were evidence it was, I should reconsider my position without a moment’s hesitation.”

“And if, in our hypothetical scenario I was branded a traitor, then I would point the accuser to the Jedi Code. If they maintained their stance, then I fear they do not understand the Code, and I would no longer be able to serve an Order that was selective in its philosophy. Which, I suspect, is why the Jedi are so fragmented. Maybe that is our greatest weakness? Our rigidity to the following of the Code. But what is the alternative? To turn a blind eye to behaviour unbefitting a Jedi? I could not, not with a clear conscience.”

“As a wise man once said, many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. It makes neither side right or wrong. Not in absolute terms. But specific facts can be debated. I will do whatever it takes to save life, including forfeit my own.”

“And remember, there is nothing in the Code, or its tenets, about the Sith, or the dark side. We are not enemies because of our philosophies – but because of actions. If the Sith did not murder or subjugate, we would have no reason to oppose you. We do not, to my understanding, antagonise, nor provoke conflict. We do not seek to wipe the Sith from the galaxy because of a title, or a decision to wield the dark-side of the Force. After all, I see my role as a balance, not an instrument for light-sided domination.”

“I do not envisage a ‘winner’, to use your term, because balance can never have one side in total control. Yes, the tide will ebb and flow, but in another millennia, two new faces will be having this same conversation and in a thousand years after that. Is it getting worse? I am not so sure. But I know the Jedi are not instigating mass murder in order to bring an end to any conflict.”

“And to answer your question, it is false to consider this as some simple equation, with a winner and a loser. To be calculated and a final sum arrived at. I am honour bound to defend the weak. It is what I do. If I save even one life, I will persevere. I do not do this to ‘win.’ There is a concept about this philosophy – game theory.”

“Some games are bounded and predictable, like skorch. You see the short-term immediate implications, and you play them to win. Other games, like health, are unbounded. You see the long-term sustainability issues, and you play them indefinitely because there is no obvious winning criteria.”

“Finite games have rules and timeframes. The rules for the games are set, and generally known by the players. It is easy to see who wins. After the game, no one argues about the score. The object of the game is to get the highest score so you win.”

“Infinite games, on the other hand, are more open and less defined. We do not know who plays, and the field is not clearly defined. The rules are not constant. They change all the time, and there are no external judges or referees.”

“Many see the galaxy and its ongoing existence as a finite game. They typically become frustrated and stop playing – because they can’t ‘win’ in the manner they expect. To wipe out the Sith, to wipe out the Jedi, to conquer all of the planets…whatever target they set. It is a flawed approach. The galaxy is more like a body and the game is about its health. Sometimes it is fully healthy and sometimes it is extremely sick. Most of the time it is somewhere in-between. Sometimes a limb must be sacrificed for the sake of the whole body.”

“But does anyone win when it is unwell, or the picture of health? I’ll let you answer that one.”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The Sith Lord shook his head in a condescending, patronizing manner. But it was not so much a gesture born out of malice, rather something like how a teacher might react to a young student's naiveté. "If the Jedi Code was there for all to interpret as they see fit, then it would not require blind conformity," he spoke.

"You have been lied about the purpose of the Jedi Order. By those who believe the very lies they are spewing and that is the greatest tragedy of all. And it is not just some Jedi who behave badly, it is the Order itself and its beliefs that are rotten to the core," the Sith Lord said to her. "You are right about one thing, though. I have no desire to be negative towards all Jedi just for the sake of it, it is just that I find the beliefs that the Jedi so relentlessly seek to impose upon the galaxy, are so fundamentally evil and wrong, that they can not be allowed to succeed, under any circumstances. To do so, would spell disaster for the galaxy, on such a scale that it would inevitably lead to the extinction of all life," Tacitus spoke, a powerful conviction burning in his voice, showing that he truly believed in the things he spoke of.

"You and I are more similar than you would think. Both of us are intent to insure the preservation and continuation of life, at any cost. Would I give my life to insure the success of my cause? Without hesitation. Would I sacrifice the lives of billions, if that is what it takes to insure that life goes on? Without hesitation. And judging by the answer you gave to the riddle I presented you with earlier, it seems that so would you," he said to her, a smile on his lips. "Perhaps there is more Sith in you, than you or your masters would like to believe."

He Overlord sighed, perhaps burdened by his actions and the responsibilities he believed he had. "Unlike the beliefs of the Jedi, the Sith Code is not a set of laws, to be followed and obeyed to the letter, without question. The Sith Code is a story with a moral, if you will, a recipe, a set of guidelines to be interpreted and reflected upon by each individual Sith. And it does not teach one to seek power, although many lose sight of that fact and become obsessed with that third line of its code. If that is what your masters have taught you, then I feel obligated to educate you to the truth."

"Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me. Do you understand? Peace is the blind acceptance of a status quo, while the only way to right a great wrong, even against all odds, is through passion. Without the passion, the conviction to carry out your mission to the bitter end, there can be no success. From that conviction, power is derived. The power to do what is necessary, to overcome all odds and obstacles. Yet, power is but a tool, which if not placed in the service of purpose, it is meaningless. This is where many Sith lose themselves and why the Darkside is the hardest path of all. Power is in many ways, its own beast, one which seeks to control and subjugate those who obtain it, in order to perpetuate its own existence. But to pursue power for its own sake, is pointless and stupid. Its like going to any lengths to obtain a hydrospanner, just for the sake of owning that hydrospanner and doing whatever it takes to keep it."

"That is what the fourth line of the Sith Code teaches. That power is just a tool, through which victory is gained. Victory over the things that seek to enslave one and reduce them to something that is little more than an animal, one ruled by base instinct and impulse alone, which is easily controlled and manipulated. Victory over the many obstacles which one faces in the great game of life. Victory over those things which stack themselves to impede one in the path that he or she has chosen. And the Force? It, like all things, is part of the great game of life. Like all things, it is bound to the same rules that govern everything else. It too will compete, it too will seek to dominate, to rise above the rest, to reach the top of the great food chain of life and remain there. But if one obtains the power to rise above the Force's attempts to subdue and dominate that individual, then it too becomes a tool, one which can and should be used to lead to one's freedom and growth."

"The Sith Code is not a set of rigid rules that pushes one to seek power. It is a story, a metaphorical ballad of lessons who's moral is to seek growth and self-improvement, to push ourselves past the limit and evolve in whichever direction we choose to. To compete amongst eachother, until the very best rise to the top, perpetuating the best traits and insuring their continuation to future generations, so that they may improve upon them further and grow even more. And its lessons may be learned by everyone, for the ultimate betterment of all, through adherence to and acceptance of the only rule that governs the great game of life: Survival of the fittest."

"And without this rule, life would not have evolved beyond the point of simple bacteria, at the mercy of the vagaries of fate. Without competition and natural selection, life would have remained weak and would have been wiped out by the first natural disaster to hit it and would have been merely a brief accident in the history of the universe. And you tell me that protecting the weak is the right thing to do? I would rather give the weak the means to become strong and compete in the great game of life, to be a part of the natural ecosystem, of the order that governs all living things."

"To protect weakness is to engage in a process of artificial selection that favors weak traits over the strong, perpetuating this degradation and stagnation until the strong become too few to support those who have been shackled to them. And all you have to do, to see that I am right, is to study history."

"Before the Clone Wars, the galaxy enjoyed a thousand years of peace under the precepts of the Lightside, as extolled by the Jedi Code. As a result, technology stagnated, corruption spread until it suffocated a galaxy and all progress ground to a halt, leading to a civil war that nearly tore the galaxy apart. And where did that lead? After the fall of Palpatine's Empire, the many governments of the galaxy embraced the ways of the Lightside, once more. The Darkside was outlawed and weakness was, once again, protected at the cost of all else. Where did that lead? Tell me, what happened when the Yuuzhan Vong attacked? How many lives were lost during that horrible invasion? How many died when the Gulag Plague swept the galaxy? Throughout history, this pattern has repeated itself, time and time again. The rise of the Lightside protects the weak at the expense of the strong. Evolution stops. Progress grounds to a halt. And with the spread of weakness, so does corruption grow, until the very core of the galaxy rots away and in the moment of greatest weakness, disaster strikes, claiming innumerable souls who may have otherwise lived, if they had the strength to endure, if natural selection had evolved them into stronger, greater beings."

"You claim that the Jedi do not have their hands stained with blood? I tell you that all the lives that have been lost in those disasters, the innumerable souls that have been swept away time and again, when the galaxy collapsed as a result of the perpetuation of weakness, all of their blood is on the hands of those who insist on perpetuating the very things which keep bringing the galaxy to its knees. To obey the Jedi Code, to perpetuate and protect weakness at the expense of strength, to rig the great competition of life so that it grounds to a halt and the weak may flourish, is to condemn future generations to a repetition of the cycle of tragedy and disaster that has been unfolding for so long. The Jedi protect the few at the expense of the many, playing favorites with no consideration to the consequences. Do the Jedi maintain this course out of good intentions? I will not deny that. But in the greater scheme of things, intentions do not matter, only results. And the results, thus far, have always been horrible tragedies, with no exception from this pattern."

"Take what I have told you and imagine, for a moment, how those great tragedies of history would have unfolded if the galaxy had followed the precepts of the Darkside and embraced competition and evolution as the core values of civilization. The Yuuzhan Vong? If those who fell prey to their assault were strong enough to defend themselves, then that brutal invasion would barely have even registered as a blip on the history of the galaxy. The Yuuzhan Vong had such a crushing advantage because unlike us, they fully committed to the path of allowing natural selection to weed out the weak, to making that necessary sacrifice for the betterment of future generations. It is only because of natural selection that the galaxy managed to defeat them, in the end. Only when faced with conflict and adversity did this galaxy learn to rise above the weakness that plagued it and ultimately secured victory and thus, survival."

"And what about the Gulag Plague? What if, when it became clear that the disease could not be cured, instead of hopelessly trying to help the infected at the risk of countless lives, the galaxy had done what was necessary and amputated the diseased limb, so that the body may be saved? This is why the Lightside is the ultimate evil in this galaxy, Lilla. Because it inevitably leads to such tragedies, simply because some people refused to see the truth and forced their path of mercy and weakness upon the rest, at the expense of all, just so that they got the chance to pat themselves on their backs and signal their virtue and moral superiority over everyone else."

"Is natural selection such an evil and immoral thing? Without it, you and I would not exist today. Life itself would not exist. Just think what the galaxy would look like today, if our ancestors had chosen to do the hard, necessary thing and let nature run its course. Think of what could have been achieved if we embraced evolution and competition, instead of weakness and stagnation. Think of all of the technologies that would have been invented, of all the diseases that would have been eliminated if we simply followed the natural process of survival of the fittest. Of natural selection. Think of where we could be today, of where our children would be tomorrow and their children, if we embraced this one essential principle that is as necessary for the continuation and improvement of life, as is the very air we breathe, to you and I. Knowing this, is the path of the Darkside such an evil thing?"

"It is the path of the Lightside that is easy. Because it is much easier to lie to oneself that showing mercy to the tumor, is the right thing to do, hiding the fact that it is their own weakness that prevents them from doing what is necessary to save the body, then preventing anyone else from doing it, just to perpetuate the delusion that they keep telling to themselves. The great and terrible truth is that the Jedi are the ones who perpetuate evil, at the expense of the many, for the sake of the few, just so that they could feel good. And it is we Sith that are the true protectors of life, regardless of each of our individual intentions. The path of the Darkside is hard, the hardest one of all. For it requires us to gain the strength to choose what is necessary, over what feels right. The one that forces us to confront and accept the uncomfortable truth of the nature of life. As I have already said, in the greater scheme of things, it is the results that ultimately matter. And the results that lie at the conclusion of the Jedi way, are the inevitable tragedies that keep drowning this galaxy in endless waves of blood."

Taking a few steps in her direction, he sat down in front of her, his feline eyes locking onto hers with a piercing gaze that spoke of his powerful, immovable conviction. "You said earlier that you would do whatever is necessary to save life, regardless of how your Order would see it and of whether or not they would condemn you for it. I ask you this. Now that you have heard what I told you, now that you know the harsh, uncomfortable truth, what will you choose? Will you continue to lie to yourself and do the comfortable thing? Or will you make the hard, necessary choice that will insure the preservation of life, so that the cycle of tragedy may be broken and future generations may never again know the great suffering of an endless cycle of weakness, destruction and death?"
M8NGT4h.png
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla was surprisingly calm. Once upon a time – before she learned she was Force sensitive, she would have become frustrated – agitated even – at the fact that the Sith Lord had a tendency to conflate points and even attribute words to the young Jedi that she had not only not said – but had stated the precise opposite.

But Lilla was blessed with patience – a virtue she associated with a Jedi. Impatience – in her opinion – turns into frustration and vexation. It manifests itself as an inability to focus on the present situation. Many Jedi spend too much time, in Lilla’s opinion, looking away...to the future, to the horizon. Never their mind on where they were...what they were doing.

Lilla was never distracted by frivolous desires for adventure or excitement, nor does she worry about things beyond her control. Instead, she enjoys equanimity and peace of mind. She focuses on the task at hand and how to act in the present, whether teaching, eating, training, or sleeping.

So she remained passive whilst he shook his head. It mattered nothing to her if he felt her points of view weak, or he was doing it to annoy her. She knew what she knew and believed what she believed. A well-reasoned argument could sway her thoughts, but not simple criticism or gainsaying.

“There is a Code and – much like the Sith Code, it is open to some interpretation. But, as I explained, I suspect the problem is not with poor understanding, but a willingness to bend what’s written to suit the individual. The fault is theirs, not the Code’s. You elude to the fact that many Sith fall into the exact same trap.”

“I do not believe I have been lied to. I believe some, many – I cannot put an exact percentage on it – hide behind the robes, and the title and the Code, to perform selfish actions. I do not believe the Code is rotten to the core, but believe the Sith Code is wrong.”

“From my perspective.”

“The fact you think the opposite, is why I am a Jedi and you are a Sith. I cannot convince you the Jedi Code is correct any more than you can convince me the Sith Code is right. Not because I am close-minded, but because I have heard the arguments for both sides and know which path feels true to my heart.”

“Think of the Jedi Code not as a rule-book I must follow, but rather as a record of what I feel and believe. It happens to mirror my thoughts.”

“And please, if I have suggested to you that my views are to be imposed on the galaxy, then I have misrepresented what I believe. The Code is an internal device and not to be imposed on anyone who does not want to be a Jedi. What governs the galaxy is law, and we are – and never have been – law—makers. Nor do we dictate any moral standards for the citizens of each planet.”

“So, I am unsure what you believe we will ‘succeed’ at? We serve. That is our purpose. If you despise the laws, then it is the governments that are, in your opinion evil and wrong. Surely you can see that?”

“And I have to disagree that life must be preserved at any cost. The end does not justify the means. Not to a Jedi. Not that we avoid making these decisions from time to time – and we do so without emotion, and typically with a heavy heart.”

“There is good and bad in all of us. I am sure of that – otherwise, why have a Code to help guide us? But does that make me a closet Sith?” She smiled. “No, I do not believe so. Anakin Skywalker made the mistake you are eluding to, and look where that took him. History has one benefit – to show us the mistakes of others to ensure we do not replicate them.”

“For your Code makes perfect sense to you – I have no doubt. But not to me. I do not seek passion or power. So the arguments you make, however well-constructed, do not resonate with me – for I seek not these things.”

“But a couple of things you say do not make complete sense to me. For example, if peace can be a constant, so can war – given they are polar opposites. And life existed for countless millennia before the Jedi or the Sith came along. Evolution happened – and continued before the Sith split from the Jedi. For it is not the fittest of the species that survives – which is what the Sith doctrine seems to point towards – but the one most adaptable to change.”

“To protect weakness is to stand firm against a notion that the strong must dominate and that only the strong can take the galaxy forward. Scientists, businessmen, scholars – not necessarily strong, but essential to the progress of the galaxy. I suspect it was not a warrior that designed a space-ship, or hydroponics or any other invention that has allowed progress over time.”

“And – correct me if I’m wrong – but a Sith in history once agreed with your notion and did something about it. He constructed a thought bomb. He believed there were too many Sith and the weak were kept alive by the strong. So why no more Rule of Two?”

“And I do not believe that fewer people would have been more successful in defeating the Yuuzhan Vong. The strong still existed – and were found wanting in that regard. But you are right – powerful, evil beings wanted to dominate the galaxy and committed murder on a grand scale. I suspect you approve of their methods. From where I stand, I see no difference to the Sith in this regard.”

“And I claim the Jedi do have their hands stained with blood. Both through acts of a terrible nature – and through coming up short in defending the innocent. The former was reprehensible, the latter not so. But if we make tough decisions, it is from a position of wanting to make things better – to help – to protect. The galaxy you describe is run by those that makes such decisions on a whim – snuffing out life just because it can – not for some noble cause.”

“Democracy is not perfect – but it is what I believe in – and will defend to my dying breath. I do not tell governments how to act, who to save or what laws to pass. I serve as best I can – and make as much difference as I can.”

“Natural selection is conceptually sound – except technology has usurped it. You can fly through the air, into space and travel miles under an ocean. Not because of natural selection – not because you are the apex in any of these environments. But because the scientists and scholars allowed you to. Under a Sith doctrine, these people would be culled at a young age for being weak – and not protected. Who would find the cure for diseases then? Warriors?”

“What is interesting, is that all the things you tend to abhor about the Jedi are either falsehoods, or do not reflect what the true Jedi are. Which is not your fault, but ours…mine.”

She looked into his eyes as he sat down in front of her. “I will always do what is right. Not what is popular. And I will always be guided by the Code. For if I do these things, who is there to condemn me? I choose the Code. I choose to serve – and I choose to do whatever I can to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. I cannot lie for that very reason.”

“We may not agree on the best way to go about my committed aims, but I cannot – and will not – sway based upon what I have heard today.”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The warlord simply sighed, annoyance mixed with disappointment flashing across his features. "Aye, many Sith do indeed fall into the same trap and I never denied that. This is why the Darkside is the much harder path, it is so easy for one to lose control. Such Sith lose sight of the essence of the Sith Code, which is to be in control, of oneself and one's own destiny," he said.

The girl's explanation about the Jedi beliefs and what feels right, only served to further reinforce his beliefs about the insidiousness and perversion of the Lightside. To his eyes, Lilla was the very embodiment of the reason why the Lightside needed to be destroyed.

"Making decisions based on what feels right in the present, instead of logic and reason, is what has led this galaxy where it is. Your words only serve to confirm my earlier ones, that the Jedi lie to themselves and the galaxy, choosing to signal their false virtue so that they may feel good, instead of doing what is necessary for the good of future generations."

"The very fact that your thoughts and the Jedi code have to mirror eachother, is also a damning evidence of the fact that Jedi are brainwashed, indoctrinated victims of their own beliefs. And while you may not seek to impose your views on the galaxy, that is not the case for the Jedi Order as a whole. In fact, its quite the opposite. Those such as yourself, are a very small minority, a deviation from the norm, both present and past. You may think that the Jedi do not seek to impose their views upon the galaxy, but history teaches us otherwise. Your own example of the Vahla, is proof of that."

"And if life must not be preserved at any cost, if the ends do not, as you say, justify the means, then what is the point of it all? Who decides what is right and wrong? Who made the Jedi the ultimate arbiters of morality? Also, if you choose to sacrifice the wellbeing of future generations, for the sake of feeling good, of doing what feels right, instead of what is necessary, is that not also a case of the ends justifying the means? And one born out of a selfish desire to satisfy one's own need for personal validation, at that?"

"You also seem to have a very narrow view of what strength is. Survival of the fittest does not refer exclusively to those who are the most physically strong. Adaptability, ingenuity, creativity, all of these things are strengths as well. You say that the galaxy's starships could not have been invented by warriors, but only by those who live a life of peace? I think I am living proof that your statement is wrong. Most of the ships in the fleet that is currently on its way to pick us up, were designed by me and my team of military engineers. And the vast majority of the technology in the galaxy, began as an invention of war, designed for military purposes. So, you see, it is indeed true that only the strong can take the galaxy forward."


"As for war being a constant, you are right. It can. And maybe it should, for conflict is the expression of the laws of the universe, the wheel upon which time turns. Peace is a lie."

"Yes, there is good and bad in all of us. But what sets people apart, are not intentions, but willpower and a willingness to accept the truth and do what is necessary. You say that we have evolved to the point where natural selection is no longer necessary? Keep telling yourself that, until the next Yuuzhan Vong invasion, or Gulag Plague to come around. I'm sure the stunted individuals of that generation, crippled by thousands of years of Jedi favoring weakness, will be thanking you as they die helplessly in the face of the next disaster to come along."

"And as far as the Rule of Two is concerned, I believe that was a mistake, though good lessons can be learned from it. In the end, however, it only served to weaken the galaxy, handing it over to the Jedi and condemning it to a thousand years of weakness. I don't supposed its necessary to remind you what the results of that were, when the Yuuzhan Vong invaded."

"And there is one more thing that you are wrong about. Sith doctrine does not require for the weak to be culled at a young age, as you say, that would be just another instance of artificial selection, the same thing that you Jedi practice and promote, albeit in a different way. Instead, Sith doctrine merely requires and argues for letting nature run its course. It has nothing to do with political ideologies, with monarchy or democracy, I, myself, am the democratically-elected head of state of a republic. One which your Jedi brethren sought to overthrow, in clear violation of the democratic principles which you so fervently defend. But it seems you Jedi only stand up for democracy when it suits you, when the candidate with who's views you agree, wins the election."

"You think you will always do what is right? That you are incapable of telling lies? Isn't that more than a little arrogant? To believe in one's infallibility and perfection, over everything else? Is it not a form of ignorance to blindly continue down that path of arrogant self-righteousness, condemning future generations to unimaginable suffering, all the while claiming that your actions are just and right?"
M8NGT4h.png
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla wanted to smile, but refrained. There were too many debates about which is more powerful, or which is harder to master – conversations that never led anywhere. It was much the same when Jedi of different Orders met. Each believed their interpretation was right in an entirely holistic fashion.

Lilla, on the other hand, believed they could all be right – in their own way. And therefore to convince someone that they were wrong was fruitless. You could share knowledge, wisdom even, but only self-discovery changed behaviours. Perception-shifting helped, but it was nowhere near as easy as that – it was far too emotive a subject.

She knew she could never change the Sith Lord’s viewpoint. She told him how the Jedi did not believe in making decisions based upon feelings, but instead focused on reason – yet what he heard was the exact opposite. It did not mean she would give up her attempts to share the truth as she saw it, but it layered on a degree of pragmatism to the proceedings.

“Who decides?” This time she smiled ruefully. “Laws do. That is what they are for, and why chaos can be so good for those that like to take matters into their own hands to flourish. I am no arbiter of morality. I know what is legal and illegal – and act accordingly. That is my duty. Sometimes laws conflict morality – especially on far-flung planets. Does that generate internal conflict? Of course. But that is why the law must take precedent. If I were to decide which laws to break and which ones to uphold, I would no longer be a Jedi as I see it. I would be acting against the Code’s teachings.”

“I see nothing selfish in that. But although I am a representative of the Jedi Order, I am not the Jedi Order. But I accept recriminations against those who call themselves Jedi, despite not following the Code.”

“And generalisations are easy to deflate with a single example – if you see fit. Are the majority of designers, engineers, scientists and philosophers in history all Sith Lords? I suspect even you cannot argue that point. Yet it is Sith Lords you hold in high esteem as the strong that ensure the species evolves.”

“And I am disappointed you believe that only Sith can survive galactic plagues or invasions. From memory, it was scientists and Jedi that have averted most galactic-wide catastrophies in history. Please correct me if I am wrong. I am not aware of mass suffering prevented by the Sith, only caused by it.”

“And it is surprising that the ultimate Sith embodiment of survival of the fittest is condemned by you – but you are, as I always say, entitled to your opinion. That is what democracy means. Opinions never killed anyone. Actions do. And it is the curtailment of murder and the like that means I oppose Sith as a rule, not their beliefs.”

“And I am unsure how murder equates to letting nature run its course. You kill when it suits. You destroy what you deem to be unworthy. That is not a natural act, but the will of man, surely?”

“And I would never depose democracy, not honest and open egalitarianism. Manipulated and corrupt systems, masquerading as democracy? That should be opposed – and it proven to be unlawful, I would act as directed.”

“I do what is lawful. In the eyes of the galaxy, that is a representation of ‘right’ for a given time-period. Once upon a time, slavery was legal. It was not perceived to be morally wrong. But today it is. I do not, and would not, judge those from a past time that held slaves. What we perceive of as right and wrong is true form a certain perspective – often one of time.”

“I do not lie. Am I capable? Of course, everyone is. But my own moral code decrees it is not something I would entertain. Am I arrogant? I do not believe being honest is proof of that. Am I fallible? Of course. Whoever says they are not is, as you say conceited, or deluded. Or both.”

“And I agree with you, it is a form of ignorance to blindly continue down a path of arrogant self-righteousness. It is also wrong to make independent decisions that come from an internal compass of right and wrong. And finally, it is terrible to subject people to unimaginable suffering.”

“Yet my experience shows me it is the Sith that are culpable of these things. Although I am equally sure we will never agree on these things. I am sure you can find Sith that do not murder and tell me of individuals calling themselves Jedi that do. Does that make Sith, as a whole, good – and Jedi, as a whole, wrong? Again, I suspect we will always differ on that score.”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

A heavy weight seemed to settle upon the warlord's shoulders as he once more sighed. Nothing he could say would make her see the truth if she did not want to see it. In his eyes, she just danced around in a circle, avoiding to look at the center because she did not like what she would see there. Worst of all, she knew the truth. But she just did not want to accept it, twisting his words and her own, so as to avoid facing that uncomfortable thing.

"You say that laws decide what is right and wrong. That laws must take precedence," he spoke to her, his voice low, disappointment written clearly across his features. "You say that you can not decide which laws to break and which laws to uphold."

Turning to face her, his eyes burned with an inner fire that spoke of his rage. "You speak that democracy should not be deposed, yet you Jedi have sought to depose the Shrouded Republic. And put in its place another Jedi Autocracy like the one that held Nibelungen in an iron grip for so long, before we came. You claim to uphold the laws, but who's laws are you upholding? And why do the laws of your nation supersede mine, even though your Galactic Republic has no sovereignty over the Shrouded? Does your government claim ownership over the entire galaxy?"

"You twist and turn your beliefs to suit the agenda of your Order and your government. Its what you have been taught to do and you are unable to see the hypocrisy of everything that you say. Because, for all its talk of lawfulness, your Republic Remnant does not shy away from violating other nations' laws and sovereignty, when it suits them. In the end, it all comes down to the same thing that made the old Galactic Republic such a despicable thing: political interests."

"Yes, the Shrouded Republic's laws are harsh. Yes, we uphold natural selection and abhor the concepts of mercy and kindness towards weakness. But what right does the Republic Remnant have to impose its views upon another nation? Do you even understand the circumstances that made our way necessary? Do you even care that without our harsh laws and strict order, we would not have survived as a nation?"

"Why does your nation's moral code take precedence over other nations' sovereignty and independence? Who gave the Republic Remnant jurisdiction and authority to decide which nations should be allowed to exist? No one did, you just claimed that power by yourselves."

"Yes, I have killed and tortured people. Yes, I have used every lawful means at my disposal to maintain order, to forge the Shrouded Republic into a functioning, stable society, in conditions and environments that would see a deluded, idealistic nation like yours descend into anarchy and chaos. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, because sometimes, that is what it takes, what is necessary, in order to prevent that unimaginable suffering that you claim to abhor."

"You say it is wrong to make decisions based on some internal compass. That it is wrong to continue down a path of arrogant self-righteousness, yet that is exactly what your nation did and does and you blindly refuse to see that. You disappoint me, Lilla," he said to her. "Perhaps, you have yet to come face to face with the ugly things in this galaxy, that will force you to open your eyes to the truth. One day, you will. And on that day, you will think back on what I said to you today and if you are as committed to the preservation of life, as you say you are, then perhaps you will finally do what is necessary, instead of what feels right."
M8NGT4h.png
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla could sense she was, in some way, disappointing the Sith Lord. And she also believed this was leading to a growing tension between them.

For her part, she always enjoyed a debate on matters such as Jedi philosophy – but accepted it was rarely more than that. Her pragmatic viewpoint allowed for a discussion without a definitive outcome. She neither expected nor insisted upon one side changing heart. It was not about winning and losing for her – it was about learning. Learning of other’s opinions, thoughts, beliefs, values and moralities.

These added to her own and – she was sure – over time, she would be influenced by them. They would either move her position, or allow her to understand her current stance was the right one.

But every now and then she would enter into a conversation with someone for whom it was about changing her mind. Not even a game, where the other person might gain or lose ground – but rather one where the only measure was how much ground she gave.

And right now felt like one of those occasions – as if she were sitting an exam and the assessor was becoming frustrated that she didn’t have the right answers.

So, she stuck to what she knew – to reiterate her position as honestly and succinctly as possible. Sometimes, in the flow of a conversation, the volume of words diluted the meaning.

“Yes, laws decide what is right and what is wrong. And I said that I uphold ‘all’ laws – regardless of my own moral compass. The day I feel differently, it will be because the Republic Remnant has gone down a path I cannot follow. But until that happens, my role is to serve – not cherry-pick which aspects of the judicial system I approve of.”

“And I have not sought to depose any elected government – Shrouded Republic or otherwise. Nor have I been engaged as part of my service in overthrowing a government.”

“And should the Republic Remnant – for whatever reason – dethrone a leader of any planet, I can assure you the Jedi would not want to replace it, and nor would they have the mandate to do so – autocracy or otherwise. Jedi must remain non-political. That is central to the Jedi Code. We serve. We do not lead, we do not govern.”

“I cannot comment on that planet – given I do not know its history. My time with the Jedi is relatively recent. The old Republic disbanded many years ago and for every fault known to democracy I understand. But I am not here to defend or support that former regime. I am here as a Jedi and a representative of the Republic Remnant. And I uphold the laws of each and every planet I visit. Local laws always take precedent.”

“So, to answer your question, the laws of the Republic Remnant do not supersede any given nation – unless that nation chooses to adopt those of the Republic. So that becomes a matter of choice. Outside of Republic Remnant space, I have no formal jurisdiction. I am obliged to live by local laws and – when requested – assist local law enforcement in maintaining justice or keeping the peace.”

“I do not twist or turn my beliefs – and my agenda mirrors that of the government. And you forget, I was a simple citizen of Tattooine long before I was a Jedi. And my beliefs have not changed during that time – so there is no likelihood of brainwashing, or hypocrisy.”

“I cannot answer for the politicians – some of your questions should be best addressed to them. And that is not shirking my responsibilities, but rather being clear about where the boundaries of my role end and that of the military and politicians begin. It is because I am a Jedi I cannot answer sovereignty related questions. On one hand you accuse me of being political when I should not be – and then expect me to answer for senate decisions on the other.”

“And to re-clarify, I apologise if I have given the impression that I am judging the behaviours of the galaxy. I wish to reiterate that it is wrong for Jedi – and I am only talking about Jedi – to make decisions based upon emotions. You cannot be judged by me for making decisions based upon your moral compass. Might I find some of your decisions personally questionable? Perhaps – but that is not the same thing as saying it is wrong to make emotional decisions.”

“Perhaps I have yet to see the full truth – I am more than happy to accept that observation – and only time will tell. And perhaps I will be led by a driver to be both necessary and what feels right – as opposed to one or the other.”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 

Kainan Wolfe

Shadow of War
Character
M8NGT4h.png
Attn: [member="Lilla Syrin"]
  • Campsite
    Unknown Planet, Wild Space

The warlord shook his head. "Oh, but you see, the Jedi on Nibelungen had already claimed for themselves that authority, before my people liberated it. Say what you will about the Shrouded Republic, but before our arrival, the Nibelungen system was not a democracy. And what did all the righteous nations of the galaxy do? Nothing. Where were the defenders of the Light when the Jedi were executing civilians for not adhering to the Jedi Code? They were nowhere to be found," Tacitus said.

"No, it fell to us Darksiders to liberate that planet. It was the soldiers of the Shrouded Republic and Ancient Eye that bled to end that dictatorship. And if we replaced it with a society based on the Sith principles of meritocracy and competition, was that unfair? Harsh, maybe, but not unfair. Everyone could compete and rise above the rest, whether it was through physical strength or strength of intellect. And, at least within the Shrouded Republic, anyone could obtain the right to vote, provided they did their part and joined the military. So, you see, things are not as cut and dry as you think they are."

"And I will give you the point that you have, so far, seemed not to make the same horrible decisions that Jedi typically make, but know that you are in the minority. I have seen Jedi wage war, murder and trample over countless lives, in order to force their beliefs upon those who want nothing to do with them. And sadly, this is the kind of behavior that most Jedi conform to," he said, hatred and pain dripping into his words as his mind wondered to a time and place long ago, to a raven-haired beauty with sad, green eyes, whom he had loved more than life itself.

Losing himself in his thoughts, he absent-mindedly clenched his fist, the long, sharp talons at the ends of his fingers digging into the flesh of his palms, letting the blood drip down, soaking into the cold, heartless earth below as a shiver of rage shook his body. One day, he would make the Jedi pay for Kamira's cruel, senseless death. He would take everything that they are and he would destroy them so utterly and completely, that they would only remain in the distant memories of a galaxy forever plunged in darkness.

Shuddering with visible effort, he straightened himself up, regaining his immaculate composure as if nothing had happened. "I gave you my word that I would not kill you and I always keep my word. As soon as my fleet arrives, I will give you a shuttle and you will be free to return to your people," he said, his voice back to its normal calm and steady tone.
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Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla listened as the warlord continued. She could understand his arguments and felt a little frustrated that he was unable to understand that the people he spoke of were not Jedi. They may call themselves Jedi, but their actions overruled their words. No Jedi would kill unless it was the last resort. Jedi would never execute.

And Lilla was not about to decide which government was more just than any other. Murder, torture, slavery – these things were repugnant – but a Jedi would never decide, for herself, to tackle a government, however corrupt they felt it was. That was a decision for the politicians. Jedi followed directives – for as long as they seemed just. Should that direction be found wanting? Then the Jedi had a quandary to deal with. And that is when the Code was the guiding light as to future action.

Some Jedi in history had been blinded by devotion to the Republic to the extent that they forgot they were Jedi. The history books told of such individuals – exemplary figures who forgot they were a Jedi first and foremost.

“I have no doubt you have witnessed the things you say – no doubt at all. These acts are undefendable and unforgiveable. And I would not serve the Republic if they pursued such a course. And I will not defend the people who commit these atrocities in the name of the Jedi. I condemn them.”

She looked up at the sky. She did not sense any imminent arrival via the Force, but she knew the Sith ships would be here soon – and appreciated the Sith’s honesty and honour.

“I have said it before and I will say it again, there is nothing in the Jedi Code about the Sith, or even the dark-side. So, in as much as you represent both, I have no axe to grind with you. Your actions, on the other hand, I suspect I would have to take umbrage over. But for now, given the truce we have drawn up, I shall respect that agreement and we can go our separate ways. But if I may leave you with one thought, it is this. Jedi are not the people you describe. Hate the Jedi, loathe them – but be sure the people you despise are what they say they are. I am not asking you to be positively disposed towards the Jedi, but at least understand what makes a real Jedi, as opposed to these imposters.”

[member="Darth Tacitus"]
 
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