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Grief

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"Ession is lost."

Cedric could only meet the agent's gaze with an emotionless stare. He looked down to the report that had been set across his desk, reading the dreaded words one more time.

Cities burning. Civilians slaughtered in the streets. Genocide.

The agent parted his lips to speak; Cedric waved him off. "Leave me."

The agent wasted no time in doing just, the door half-slamming behind him. Cedric drew in a deep breath, allowing himself a moment to try and understand the documents that had been set before him.

I knew their mercy was a facade.

The affirmation of Cedric's suspicions did nothing to comfort him. Upon his mother's death, he had cried for months. His sister's, weeks. His father's, days. No tears fell this time; the wound this carved through his very soul was too deep for simple sadness to describe. It was the oblivion of complete and total loss: the obliteration of an identity.

Everything I ever did was for Ession. Everything.

He drew in another deep breath, and reached out with the force. Where once he would have felt the comforting presence of Ession's people within the empyrean, all he felt now was silence. The world had been silenced.

I couldn't keep them safe. I failed. They were all I had left - what now?

His gaze fell to the lightsaber at his side. The Blade of Ruusan provided him no comfort now: the weapon had gone silent in the face of such a devastating loss of life.

Reports were already coming in detailing refugee numbers and what would be required to accommodate them. Cedric took one look at them, and found the world something far too difficult to deal with.

There is no emotion. There is peace.

Embracing the silence of the room, Cedric went to work glancing from one report to the next, the tedious task distracting his mind entirely from he reality of his situation.
 
A Light Shining in Darkness
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Wyatt walked the halls, idly rehearsing what he’d say about the Jedi Code, what it meant to mourn the losses of loved ones, even how it wasn’t Cedric’s fault. Back and forth, rewording and changing until he felt it was perfect. He wasn’t a stranger to loss, but loss like this was… Far more than he had ever imagined experiencing. A sigh crept through his lips as he wiped his hair from his face, a desperate display of exhaustion, an attempt at grasping as the magic words that might help.

Eventually, he worked his way towards Cedric’s office. It took far longer than normal, every step his heel seeming to drag, stopping every few moments to reconsider, then doubling down on his efforts. The only delay he truly had was picking up two coffees from a local vendor before making his way there. He knew the man was keeping himself busy, even if he wasn’t really; but Wyatt couldn’t help but feel a bit of an annoyance as he knocked on the door.

Cedric? Its Wyatt.”, he said softly. The Force had no place here, and so Wyatt kept its callings and urgings inside him for the time being. It may guide us all, but today it led one astray.

Can I come in?”, he followed.

Wyatt stood there, coffees in hand as stared at his feet. The words repeated in his head, again and again, but he couldn’t keep them straight. For a man so hell bent on bringing peace, he couldn’t find his own when the time seemed to come; and with another sigh he’d wait to be buzzed in.

[member="Cedric Grayson"]
 

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Cedric had not wanted company. He was finding it difficult holding his composure when he was alone, let alone in front of another person. Still, sealing himself away in his office would not do him any good,m and it would likely lead to some fears arising within the alliance. They could not see the wound that had split his soul to the bone, nor could he let them know of the pain that clouded his thoughts. Try as he might, his mind would not wander from the images of Ession's capital aflame.

How many people had died because the Sith wished to make a statement? How many lives were lost for the sake of grandstanding? Cedric did not know, and he suspected he never would. He only knew that the void in the force where his people had once been was all consuming. It took his thoughts to dark places; places a Jedi's mind should never walk. He mumbled the code beneath his breath, expecting the age old mantra to calm his racing heart. All it did was make him laugh at the hollowness of the act.

Ession is gone. The lost have to be avenged.

The knight reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose to keep his tears from falling. For a moment, that all consuming grief morphed into something far more horrid. Cedric felt the burning intent ebbing off of him in waves: the instincutal and primal desire to give the Sith a taste of their own medicine.

I could destroy Bastion before they could stop the fleet. It'd be done in an hour. I-

"Can I come in?"

Wyatt's voice pulled Cedric from his dark thoughts. The knight mumbled a curse under his breath, steadied himself, and nodded. "The door's open."

[member="Wyatt Morga"]
 
A Light Shining in Darkness
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The door slid open on electronic command, allowing Wyatt to enter with a half hearted smile. He glanced around the room, disappointed it was so dark. Pressing past this however, he made it to the desk and set one of the two Caf’s down for Cedric; taking a few sips of his own as he sat down across from him. Up until now, he hadn’t made eye contact, but wiping some foam from his mustache he did, speaking softly in the cool air that surrounded them;

Morning, Cedric.

He couldn’t bring himself to call it a good one.

How uh…”, he hesitated. Small talk isn’t what was needed, but to be so direct?

How are you handling?”, he said after a second of silence.

Wyatt brought himself in tighter than normal, knowing it well enough that the smaller he appeared, the more comfortable most would feel. He was no stranger to the dynamics of empathy and charisma, but he still couldn’t feel comfortable himself. Something about this didn’t feel right, and not just because of the loss.

Cedric had dark thoughts. It was obvious he felt anger; as much as Wyatt tried to ignore the ebbs and flows of the force in these moments.


[member="Cedric Grayson"]
 

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"Given the circumstances? Remarkably well." He replied automatically. The knight's voice was a deadened thing. It lacked the usual confidence that had always seemed to ooze from every word. He did not greet Wyatt with his usual warm smile, but rather with a look of despair. Cedric's expression was that of stone, but he could not hide the pain from his eyes. Any that knew him well would know that this was extremely out of character: it was for that reason that he had chosen not to address the alliance as a whole.

They couldn't be allowed to see him break.

The knight regarded the cup of caf with disinterest. Still, whether it was out of a desire to distract himself from his thoughts, or simply to be polite, he drew the steaming cup up to his lips. "It's gone Wyatt," he mused quietly, "The Sith have burned my homeworld to the ground. Reports show the toll of casualties nearing several billion. I promised to protect them, and I have failed."

The cup of caf shook slightly in Cedric's hand. He paid the tremors no mind. "I have nothing," his voice grew quiet, "There is nothing left for me to fight for. My family died to protect that world. I lost my father, mother, and sister to the Sith. Now, I don't even have a home to go back to."

He drew another sip, and set the cup down. "The Jedi Order of old advised their people to never form attachments, lest it draw them from their duties. I never truly understood why the order would take to such extremes, to deny us our humanity so that we might serve, but I do now."

[member="Wyatt Morga"]
 
A Light Shining in Darkness
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Wyatt simply sat as Cedric went through the paces. He wasn’t here to hastle, not to give a lesson to a friend, only to listen. Wyatt was there for support, his only hope was that he’d be enough for the aging Jedi Knight. Taking a sip from his own cup of caf, he moved to cradle it in his lap as he looked to his feet.

There was a moment of silence as he thought up his words, taking time to contemplate them before speaking;

I think that is a lesson we all learn, Cedric.

The image of his own wife and son flashed before his eyes before fading into the distance of his mind. Losing a family compared to one's entire homeworld seemed meager by comparison, but Wyatt understood somewhat, just enough even. He knew the thoughts, the things you said to yourself in the darkness of grief. Wyatt understood it all too well, and with nearly seventy years to him, he couldn't help but see the cycle continue over and over.

His voice was warm, comforting, but there was a stillness in it. An obvious attempt at avoiding the uncomfortable.

Some more than others, but a lesson that is unavoidable…

Another pause, another drink of his Caf, another glance towards Cedric.

What do you feel, Cedric?”, he asked almost oddly. A surprising interjection into the midst of their conversation.


[member="Cedric Grayson"]
 

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"What do I feel?" He raised a brow. For a moment, he conjured up a lie to tell Wyatt so that the other Jedi would not worry about him. Honesty, however, won out. "I want to burn Bastion to the ground. I am questioning my path Wyatt. My father stood with the Jedi for most of his life, and they failed him at every turn. Eventually, he embraced the shadow and succeeded in destroying the One Sith. Part of me wonders if my family has always been destined to walk with the shadow. We've done everything we possibly could to earn the trust of the other Jedi, but they're content to sit by and watch the galaxy burn."

His brow furrowed, "I am infuriated that the rest of the Jedi did not stand up to stop the Sith. I am angry with myself for moving against the Sith instead of staying to defend my home. I am overwhelmed because I have no idea where to go, or what to do." He paused, his head resting in his hands. "But I know these are intrusive thoughts brought on by my grief. I made a vow to the Light, not to any Jedi or any order. Even if my home is lost, and there is nothing for me to return to, I have to stay on this path. If I don't others might have to experience this themselves," his voice cracked. The knight drew in a sharp breath, parted his lips to speak, and the facade shattered.

Tears flowed freely down Cedric's face. He looked up to meet Wyatt's eyes, all pretense of stability gone.

"We can't let this be where it ends. This will never happen again Wyatt. Never."

[member="Wyatt Morga"]
 
A Light Shining in Darkness
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A stillness hung in the air as the Jedi wept, his soft heaves sending proverbial waves through the room. It was well enough that none had come to visit him before now, but Wyatt simply shook his head. Setting his Caf aside, he stood and moved around the desk to rest a gentle hand on his shoulder; something to remind him where he stood. That wherever he was in his mind, he was not alone in this world.

You are not to blame for this.”, he seemed to whisper.

Steady your nerve, for only a moment Cedric. What you feel is natural, though it is not necessarily correct. Pain, sorrow, grief, it is what turns many to the Dark Side to begin with; and you or I are no different.

He paused, reassuring Cedric with a small pressure from his grip.

Many before you have fallen for things such as love, kindness, even to protect their ancestral lands. Even…”, he paused for a moment.

Even I’ve dabbled with the thought.

This does not mean however, our instinctual emotions are correct. Don’t let them blind you. I ask of you only this Cedric, quiet your thoughts and listen. Not to your heart, but to The Force around you.

It may not seem like it, but it grieves with you, perhaps even more so.

[member="Cedric Grayson"]
 

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For once, Cedric actually listened ot the advice given to him.

He reached out into the empyrean, despite his better judgement. It felt like he'd just run into a wall. The sensation of death fell over him like a cold blanket, snuffing out whatever other feeling he might have had. He felt naught but the oblivion of the void, and the massive wound in the force such death had caused. The Great Ocean twisted and turned with a violence unlike Cedric had ever seen before, as if the natural order of things itself had chosen to revolt against tragedy.

Opening himself to the force meant opening himself to that pain. It filled him, the empty vessel of his spirit overflowing with the anguish of a billion beings. It was all consuming, forcing Cedric to lean against his desk to remain sitting upright.

Then, amidst all that chaos, he felt a calm. It was a compassionate light that flickered defiantly against a galaxy of darkness. That light grew the more he focused in on it, so much so that the shadows began to retreat from its luminescence. Wyatt was right - the force had been wounded as much by this assault as he had.

He could never bring himself to corrupt such a natural and wonderful entity. He didn't have the heart for it.

"I feel it," he breathed as he regained his composure. "Even with all this death, there is still the Light. It hasn't gone out." He almost sounded relieved.

[member="Wyatt Morga"]
 
A Light Shining in Darkness
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Wyatt let Cedric do what was needed, smiling slightly as he could see what Wyatt saw. The infinite expanse of the force, in all its glory, a place where personal emotion could not be considered. It was not to say that all the Jedi could not feel sorrow, only that they could not let it control them, only let it mix and dissipate with the rest that took the galaxy.

Now more than ever, the force was turbulent, but Wyatt had hope it’d soften. In time, he knew they had a chance; even if it was hard to see sometimes. All of this however, he kept to himself; it wasn’t the time for philosophy of his own accord, only what was known and understandable. Cedric would come to his own conclusions, Wyatt could only offer the water from which to drink.

The light stays through all, but it flickers and stutters as we all do.

Letting go of Wyatt, he moved closer to the window to open the shutter and look outside, speaking only once he had seen the light of the outside.

It's something to remember Cedric, that through it all the force guides. It won’t always be an easy path, but it’ll take you where it thinks you need to be. Just... “, he paused.

Just trust in it, Cedric.

[member="Cedric Grayson"]
 
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