View Full Version : [Fic] The Value of Cheating

03-07-2009, 06:14 PM
The Value of Cheating

The docile tones of Bith musicians rang over the low cacophony of life in the backwater cantina, one of the few establishments that still operated on Kamino outside the Republic occupation. The lights were dim, the walls stained with unknown substances, the stench of various wastes permeating the air with an acrid odor. The patrons of the cantina were of similar stock to their surroundings, scoundrels of every variety, both in species and profession. Indeed, the environment was so comfortable to those of a less than honorable nature, that few would question or even notice the two cloaked figures drifting slowly out of the rain, moving to an inconspicuous seat near the stage where a pink-skinned Twi’lek woman with a tantalizing figure, and the facial features to match, danced provocatively for the eager males surrounding her, staring up at her with awe and lust. The smaller of the two robed figures pulled back his hood to reveal a young, handsome face with rigid features framed by bright red hair, cut in the style of a Padawan to the Jedi Order. As his vividly green eyes scanned his surroundings, the young Kasar Ves could not help but wonder what his master was thinking bringing him here. Not that the sensation of being left out of the loop was a novel experience for him: Master Tendarius operated with the common grounds of either never telling another soul about his intentional method of achieving his mission, or of never knowing exactly how he would do so himself. It was difficult to tell, as the esoteric Twi’lek Jedi appeared to function on a wholly separate and unattached plane of existence from Kasar, making his thought process or behavioural trends virtually impossible to predict.

Letting his thoughts roam freely among the Force, as his Master had taught him more than a year ago, Kasar gently touched the minds of the cantina inhabitants, an objective participant in their worries and schemes, plans for the future and musings of the past. After a few moments of scrutiny within himself, the young Padawan discovered no viable target for their mission, which he now remembered from the briefing:

“Locate the leader of a local gang that is currently working an operation involving the theft of ammunitions from Clone training areas and selling them for profit. Incapacitate them and bring them back to the High Council for sentencing. Kill only if necessary.”

To be sure of himself, Kasar scanned the cantina once more, and again found no true candidate for the leader of a gang. Typically, one could spot a criminal merely by his level of corruption, as his past actions and present attitudes left a stain on his spirit, and his presence in the Force. The taint that signaled a life lived not in using the Dark Side, but in operating within its boundaries. These individuals all seemed to not be shaded with darkness, but neither were they pure of spirit. The young Jedi turned back to his master, who was still cloaked, his head tilted forward, as if he were sleeping. Truth be told, he may have been: nobody really knew when he would do something totally unexpected and uncouth to the situation.

“Master, I don’t understand why we’re here. Surely our intended rendezvous is not with anyone in here. Is there some informant that you mean to meet?”

The Jedi Master did not speak for a moment, and then pulled back his hood to reveal a stark blue face etched with intricate tattoos of a darker blue that meant many things, most of which Tendarius never shared with another soul. His head-tentacles were wrapped neatly around his neck in an inconspicuous fashion, and his face was framed with a large, somewhat oafish smile, and bright blue eyes that seemed vague and unfocused. When he spoke, his voice was bouncy and whimsical, as if it were all just a very amusing game, but Kasar knew from experience with his Master that he was dead serious.

“Our target is here, my boy, but he is hiding just out of reach. You were right to search for him through the Force, but I am afraid that it will take more than the surface thoughts and emotions of this criminal to identify him…”

Without warning, Master Tendarius stood from his seat and ambled over to the Pazaak area, where a group of tense and eager individuals were rallied around two men who were deep into a high-stakes match. One man was a meek fellow, his figure lanky, almost to the point of indicating malnourishment. Behind him stood two human men, both rather large, one with a bald head and clean-shaven face, the other with a beard and a piercing in his left eyebrow. The opponent to the thin man was a Transdosian, a smug smile etched across his reptilian face, as if he held a hand that could not lose. Indeed, upon inspection of the game, it was clear that the odds were in the Transdosian’s favour; he held a score of 20, and his opponent, a mere 19. It appeared that he would win the opulent pot and go home a rich man. The lean man did what was expected and elected to hit for another card, on the off-chance of a tie, but instead shocked the surrounding crowd into a raucous chorus of cheer and praise. A +1 tie breaker card landed in its spot, ending the game and giving the pot to the clearly disadvantaged underdog. Kasar’s Master leaned over to him and whispered almost coyly in his ear.

“Watch the emaciated fellow, especially his hands.”

Following suit with a common lack of preamble, the Twi’lek master seated himself fluidly into the chair now vacated by the disgruntled Transdosian, withdrawing the card he carried with him at all times, containing 5000 republic credits, and his own personal pazaak deck. Wordless, he threw the card down on the table, the man opposite him checking the amount. His eyes were wide for a moment, and he made a small glance at the bearded man, who made a barely visible nod. Kasar did as he was instructed, and followed the hands of the sickly looking Pazaak player. For a time, the game seemed to be normal, nothing out of the ordinary, but soon a pattern in Tendarius’ opponent’s movements began to emerge, and the young padawan realised what his master had seen: the skeletal man was cheating. His right hand disappeared under the table for a split second, as if to withdraw a hidden card, then his left and right hands would meet in some movement that was constantly changing, as if that particular maneuver was an improvisation each time. It was an elegant activity, and perfectly coordinated. Even a professional card shark would have problems spotting it, but thanks to the heightened sense of perception gained from Jedi training, Kasar had no trouble identifying it as a swindle immediately.

Unsurprisingly, Master Tendarius lost the game, but instead of doing what his padawan had expected and putting the man and his associates under arrest, he merely stood, thanked his opponent for the game, and left, smiling to his companion. Baffled, the young padawan turned on his heel and followed the seemingly aimless Twi’lek out of the cantina. His mind ran through all the possible reasons for his master abandoning the opportunity to do justice when he had so clearly known that the card game was rigged, but each time, the rationalities became far too absurd, even for his albeit strange master. When he spoke, his voice was incredulous and probing.

“Master… that man was running a rigged game. We had a suspect, and you didn’t do anything against him. Why?”

“Ah, so you saw it too. Good, that means you’re seeing the more minute details, as any good Jedi should. Keep the larger scheme in your mind, but always see deeper, for that is where true answers lie. But you still aren’t delving far enough.” His voice was almost teasing, provoking Kasar to dig deeper. He turned on his heel to stand in the doorway of the cantina, his padawan following suit.

“What do you mean? They were cheating people, they should be arrested.”

“They were, were they?” Tendarius shifted his gaze to the table, where a Rodian had just won a bet against the cheat, and was now dancing to the crowd’s cheers. “This war against the Separatists has been hard on the common citizens of the Republic. They have scant reason to keep their spirits high. These three men have been doing dishonest things, yes, but from their actions, much good has been made. The man working the table has most likely crafted his procedure for many years, and his associates have worked in tandem with him for an artistically subtle body communication system. It is a masterful technique, and one that feeds them and their families, regardless of what ethical hesitance we may place on it. They never rig games involving low stakes, as it doesn’t make them any profit to speak of and they need that balance of losses to gains to avoid suspicion, but that also means that the smaller players win, which raises their spirits even further. Not only that, but they feel a sense of vicarious pleasure from watching the unlikely contestant in a high stakes match with a big roller win the pot and walk away rich. And they can continue to relive it and not be bogged down by suspicions, because only one or two high stakes players come along every night.”

The young Jedi took a moment to mull over what his master had just said, and then spoke, his voice slow and unsure. “So… what you’re saying is, even though those men are breaking the law, and they know they’re breaking the law, the effects of them doing so is well worth the consequences of their actions?”

Tendarius chuckled lightly, and placed his arm around his Padawan’s shoulders. “It is important to remember that no matter what we first believe to be the correct course of action, we must see the larger picture for answers. We sought for the leader of a gang, and we found him, but upon viewing the grand scheme, we see that he is not really a criminal at all, but a savior of the people. He may be criminal in his actions, but in the effects of those actions, he has saved the hearts and minds of the Republic.”

Kasar’s emerald eyes burst open with surprise. “You mean that he’s…”

“Yes, the man on the right, with the piercing. He’s overseeing one of his many operations, which is this racket. But even in his other work, he has done well for the galactic community. Therefore, I feel that to bring him under arrest would only end an ultimately beneficial system for this planet, or transform it into something far more grotesque should someone of lesser quality come to take his place.” The Twi’lek grinned widely and turned to leave without another word.

"So we're not going to follow out our mission?" Kasar called after him.

Tendarius looked over his shoulder. "No, we are not," he smirked and then turned back to the rain-soaked world outside. Kasar followed suit, thinking about what he had just said.

The council would be very confused, but Kasar knew that when Tendarius went against their wishes, he usually rationalized his way around punishment, and eventually, his word was accepted. The young padawan had never expected that ethics and intentions were so unimportant in the Force, and that the ripples and echoes tended to reverberate in a very different way from where they first originated. It was a lesson he would need to learn, and he was sure now that if anyone could give him the answers to his questions on the intricate details of life, it was his strange Twi’lek Master who had just taught him the value of cheating.

Kado Sunrider
03-07-2009, 09:24 PM
very interesting read here.

The Twi'lek master reminded me of a slightly more light-side oriented Kreia.

03-07-2009, 09:29 PM
Yeah, a lot of the philosophy portrayed here is derived from Kreia. Glad you enjoyed it. ^_^

03-07-2009, 11:21 PM
Well, you've definitely created two interesting characters, Adavardes. Master Tendarius doesn't exactly remind me of a Jedi Master: his actions and personal philosophy seem to be reflected in the idea 'The actions justify the consequences,' which, in my opinion, seems to be very anti-Jedi. Nonetheless, it's a different approach to the normal situation, and I'll be interested to see where the journey goes.

His head-tentacles were wrapped neatly around his neck in an inconspicuous fashion, and his face was framed with a large, somewhat oafish smile, and bright blue eyes that seemed vague and unfocused.
Just to let you know, the 'head-tentacles' are called lekku (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lekku). ;)

03-07-2009, 11:35 PM
Well, you've definitely created two interesting characters, Adavardes. Master Tendarius doesn't exactly remind me of a Jedi Master: his actions and personal philosophy seem to be reflected in the idea 'The actions justify the consequences,' which, in my opinion, seems to be very anti-Jedi. Nonetheless, it's a different approach to the normal situation, and I'll be interested to see where the journey goes.

Just to let you know, the 'head-tentacles' are called lekku (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lekku). ;)

I kind of crafted him to the the anti-thesis of his position, drawing from both Kreia and Qui-Gon Jinn. He's still a Jedi, yet his own philosophies differ and sometimes conflict with the council, though the ends are always the same: protection of goodness and decency in the galaxy. As for where it goes, I'm not sure if I'll be continuing this particular story, but I might consider doing a series of separate tales about their adventures in the future.

Also, I knew what they were called, but Kasar doesn't. :P

03-09-2009, 11:13 PM
Kreia, in my opinion has to be one of the greatest teachers the Star Wars galaxy has ever seen. Her views on everything seem to mock reason and logic themselves, but in turn, she speaks truth in riddles that are as plain as the blue in the ocean.

Master Tendarius is an unorthodox, smart and wise teacher. I've taken a liking to his character already.

Nice work here, Adavardes! I hope you write other tales about their exploits. :D

03-12-2009, 06:36 PM

Bee Hoon
03-15-2009, 06:35 AM
Off topic: Kasar means "rough" (in terms of texture, and in another context, coarse behaviour) in Malay :p Plus, prepare for nitpicky nitpicking! :D

Master Tendarius operated with the common grounds of either never telling another soul about his intentional method of achieving his missionSuggest: intended

making his thought process or behavioural trends virtually impossible to predict.Thought processess, as both should be plural :)

Letting his thoughts roam freely among the ForceThis kinda gives me the impression that the Force is composed of multiple, discrete entities. Slap me with a wet fish if I'm actually wrong! :p

and his face was framed with a large, somewhat oafish smileThe smile was outside the boundaries of the face? :p

One man was a meek fellow, his figure lanky, almost to the point of indicating malnourishment. Lanky=tall and skinny. If he was malnourished, he wouldn't be so tall!

Kasar’s emerald eyes burst open with surprise.That sounds painful xD

ethics and intentions were so unimportant in the Force, and that the ripples and echoes tended to reverberate in a very different way from where they first originated.Unimportant or important? *is schozzled and might just be missing the point*

All in all, a good story! Your sentence structure is much clearer than it was in earlier stories, but a bit of streamlining here and there is still possible. I, too, like Tendarius (although I keep trying to figure out the Latin origins of his name O_o The -ius suffix is distracting!). He seems to resemble Qui-Gon more than Kreia at this point. The plot plays out at a nice steady pace, so keep it up!

03-15-2009, 10:36 AM
This kinda gives me the impression that the Force is composed of multiple, discrete entities. Slap me with a wet fish if I'm actually wrong! :p

The smile was outside the boundaries of the face? :p

I think that among is meant to express the presence of the Force everywhere. He's among it, and, as far as I know, you can be among a presence or energy without it having to be plural. I might be wrong, though.

And I don't believe that a frame has to be around the outside of the object that's being framed, just something that adorns it and basically gives it a certain look or character. I'm using it as imagery to express how bright and wide the smile is, as the smile is the source, and lights up his whole face. I hope that clarifies.

Bee Hoon
03-22-2009, 06:00 AM
Heh, my formal English training was quite phailsauce, so if you're happy with those metaphors, we'll leave it at that:) After all, it's your piece and what's important is that you wrote it the way you wanted to!

03-24-2009, 01:59 PM
I enjoyed this read. The characters were interesting, the setting and mood were well-described without being too wordy, and the theme of "necessary evil" is one that ordinary people have to deal with every day in real life.

Thumbs up. I'm looking forward to your future efforts. :)

03-30-2009, 01:49 PM
Kasar sat in the temperate familiarity of his private quarters at the Jedi temple on Coruscant, his safe haven from the hectic galaxy around him that seemed to radiate conflict and violence in every breath of life inhaled and exhaled throughout its many stars: each representing a different story of pain and suffering, and each detailing the lives of those who had lost or would lose their parents, their friends, their loved ones, to the onslaught of the Separatists. As the young Jedi dwelled on the future of the galaxy, a sense of hopelessness in the cycle of death and rebirth sometimes overtook him. He knew the histories, as all Jedi did, and knew of the wars and struggles for power that had rocked the foundations of the universe since time immemorial. The Jedi and the Sith had always been against one another, their philosophies always standing as a basis for conflict, their governments and loyalists rallying around them, as they naturally did. Then wars would inevitably follow, until one could no longer fight, and for a time, the reconstruction of the galaxy would take place, save for the times when the galaxy had been under partial rule of the Sith, who knew nothing of progress in numbers, and sought only personal gain. Yet even then, the opposing party would gather in strength once more, and a time of peace would come before yet another clash of forces came to pass, leaving the galaxy, once again, in a quagmire of its own social instability.

The circle of events had become so familiar to the history of life in the universe, that, when recognizing the Force as the binding energy for life in the galaxy, the constant unbalancing and balancing of light and dark, and the invariable demise and reincarnation of the infrastructure around them, seemed necessary. It was a difficult concept for a simple Padawan to comprehend, and even more impossible for him to accept. Could death on such a scale really be pivotal towards life in the galaxy? Was it truly in the best interests of the galaxy to bring an end to the Dark Side and its disciples, or were they as important to the balance as the Jedi were? Would any one sentient being ever be privy to the understanding of the grand scheme of the Force, or even the capacity for such knowledge? Were we simply pawns in a cosmic game, grasping at shreds of enlightenment as they drift from the heavens above in scarce amounts, when in reality, our only purpose is to serve as willing sacrifices to the constructs of a greater power? These thoughts, and others of similar stock, whirled through Kasar’s mind like a whirlwind, tainted with the visible and unyielding stain of an unsure mind. The young padawan knew, however, that this was perhaps the greatest gift Tendarius had given him: the ability to doubt; though he was sure that if they knew of Tendarius’ methods, the Council would not approve. Then again, the strange Twi’lek Jedi had never put much stock into their approvals or disapprovals, so he taught as he wished, and Kasar learned. Yet even though his master had instilled in him the ability for more independent thought, the rationalities were still in their infancy.

As if fluttering on the gossamer wings of a butterfly, music broke the solemn silence of the Jedi Temple, pulling Kasar from his thoughts. It was truly beautiful, each note reverberating softly, yet unerringly, through the dusty, regal halls of ages long past. Letting his curiosity guide him, the young Jedi stood from his cot, threw on his robe, and ruffled his red hair in an attempt to make it presentable, though it was not really a grave concern. Stepping out into the softly lit corridors, Kasar’s keen ear lead him through the labyrinth of rooms and quarters, until he reached the room of a thousand fountains, where his Master sat cross-legged facing the door, playing masterfully on a small wooden flute, carved with symbols and runes similar to the ones Tendarius wore on his face. Upon seeing his pupil, the strange Twi’lek man cocked his head to the side, his bright blue lekku falling tenderly over his shoulders. His expression was dominated by a smile that seemed to barely contain his teeth, but his eyes spoke of wisdom, and Kasar knew instantly that his master sensed his confusion. The youth’s first inquiry, however, was not about the balance of all things, as his curiosity could scarcely be contained.

“I didn’t know you played an instrument, Master. What is it?” He asked quickly, the words tumbling over themselves clumsily, as they often did.

Tendarius did not speak for a moment, but looked down at his flute and sighed. “Music is a form of expression tied very strongly in emotion. To listen to music is to allow your spirit to mingle freely with the colours of sound and the vibrations of splendor, and as such, it can be a very intimate endeavor, but even more delicate an act is to play it, to create the sounds yourself, to imprint your soul in the notes as each one takes form and wafts gently in the air. It is not something many would talk about often, as it can be very personal, and it is rather private for me.”

Kasar’s mind drifted quickly to the notes he had heard in his room, the notes that had stirred him so much, he had been compelled to find the source. “It was very beautiful. Can you tell me what it was?”

“It is an ancient song from my homeworld of Ryloth. It tells the story of two men, one of virtue and righteousness, the other of ruthlessness and survival. They fought for many years amongst each other, their tribes locked in a never-ending war. It was only until a young girl, of only three years’ age, came to their camps, and taught each a valuable lesson, did they finally cease their constant battle.” Tendarius was silent for a moment, then turned his gaze up at his padawan, and smiled. “To the righteous, she taught the value of strength, and the sacrifice that was sometimes necessary to maintain that strength in life, unsavoury though it might have been from ethical views. To the ruthless, she taught the value of compassion, and the emotional sacrifice necessary to keep a soft heart, and to never forget that only together, through cooperation, tolerance, and mercy, can we forge a future. The two tribesmen came to understand each other through the eyes of a small child, and became a single tribe, with strength and kindness tempering them in equal measure for many years to come. Her work complete, the young girl took to the heavens to become one with her universe once more.”

“Did the young girl have a name?” the young padawan asked, enthralled by the story of balance and resolution, the answer to many of his hesitant feelings.

Tendarius grinned coyly, his boyish, esoteric nature seeming to take over for a moment. “Yes. She was called Tep’yan, the word my race uses for the mysterious power we know as the Force. You see, young one, the battle of the darkness and light has rocked the foundations of our galaxy for millennia, but it is not inevitability, though difficult that may be to believe. Light and dark, good and evil, must always exist; but perhaps, if we were to come to an understanding of one another, develop a tolerance for the strength of self and the compassion for others, we could forever end the conflict of Sith and Jedi, and become something new. The Council would consider me a fool for believing that a Sith could be reasoned with, and perhaps they are right. Yet, most Sith begin as Jedi, Jedi that either lost their ability to follow the narrow path set before them, or saw a larger picture, and were compelled to walk beyond that path. Perhaps, one day, both Jedi and Sith could find common ground, change their philosophies, and temper one another, as the two ancient tribes did. We simply need a young girl with knowledge of both darkness and light to come forward, and show us the way.”

“Master, you say that the Jedi way is ‘a narrow path to be walked’. Do you still walk that path?” Kasar asked carefully, slightly afraid of the answer. If Tendarius were knowingly stepping beyond the boundaries of the Jedi code, he could be condemned for heresy; though his young padawan was no longer sure he would keep to the code himself, and report him to the council. Tendarius’ words made too much sense, and he had grown fond of his strange master over the years.

But the aging Twi’lek did not admit guilt, instead casting his gaze to the floor, shaking his head, and chuckling softly. “I follow the path set before me, but that does not mean I am to be limited to vision beyond it. I can see other paths, even though I may not walk them. You must learn that it is not pertinent, nor is it constructive, to blind yourself to other concepts, even when you follow the codes of another, and it is sometimes necessary to forge your own way of walking the path, improvising as you see fit, while still remembering the parameters of your station. Now, as I believe I have answered most of the questions you had when you came here, even those you have not asked, I wish to get back to my music. You may stay and listen, or meditate on the meanings, if you wish.”

Realising that his Master had been progressively resolving the confusion within him since he had stepped into the room of a thousand fountains, Kasar grinned widely, his green eyes twinkling in the light of the reflection pools, and sat cross-legged in front of his master, allowing himself to fall into the peace he had not felt for some time. As his master played, the music mingling with the soft trickling of water, gradually, the image of the two men and the young girl entered Kasar’s thoughts, embracing him as one in the grand scheme, and teaching the valuable lesson that all must learn, the lesson that stands as the salvation of the galaxy, though so many remain deaf to it. He allowed himself to hear, for the first time, the voice of tolerance, as it spoke of the value in cheating alignment, and becoming one in something new. The power of improvisation, and the strength of seeing another path.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: When I was writing this, I was searching for a good medium to properly express, through imagery, the union of darkness and light, the emotional and the logical, the morass and the structure. Then it hit me: what could be a better canvas for such a message than music? So, as you read this, be sure to watch the metaphor of music following the stated meaning of a need for Sith and Jedi to become one, and even the duality of the figurative and the literal. I think it adds layers to the peice, which I try to do with all my writing. Enjoy.

04-13-2009, 02:44 PM
This is very good Advardes. The Jedi Master is very forthcoming on where do you draw the line ie is everything black and white. Like many who educate themselves and experience much, they see shades of grey and in most cases what they do and say seems wrong but then it is right. Good use of imagery for character portrayal.

04-15-2009, 03:35 PM
Glad you enjoyed it. I try to use Tendarius as a medium for the challenging of conventions. I enjoy writing fanfics in a way that takes what is traditionally accepted in the Star Wars universe, and redefines it so that it reflects stronger roots in the real world, or at least, my own perspective of what the real world is.