||01-06-2009 05:12 PM
Good Hero/Bad Hero
Good Hero, Bad Hero
The two spacers sat, one slouched in one seat, headtails hanging loosely across his shoulders like a pair of somewhat louche and organic silkworms, the other a dark skinned human with the broad shoulders and squat build of someone from a high gravity world.
The first spacer - full name Pari Til'Alik, but known simply as 'Til' to his friends - was sipping a foul-smelling (at least to the second spacer) orange concoction from his glass, whilst the second spacer - who, had he possessed any friends, would have been called Darak- was working his way slowly but steadily through a mug of frothing sulphoid ale, with the air of one who, if forced, could go on drinking in that manner for a very long time indeed.
The first spacer, Til, was regaling the second, Darak, with a tale about a person he had known in his days serving with the Republic Navy during the Monserrai insurrection of the Jer'A Kat cluster in 21016/56-312 AFR (old calendar time), and his tale went a little something like this...
* * *
I, Til, at this point known more properly as Corporal First-Class Pari Til'Alik of the Second Fleet of the Galactic Republic, Probationary, had returned from a scout mission into the Second Promotary of the frontline, part of a three-man (for want of a better word) squad, led by Sergeant Gaveranai, whose full name shall not be put down here for the sake of the sanity of the audience. The Republic beauracracy was at the time even more concoluted and stagnate than it's current incarnation, and thus with the endless deluge of red tape came an equally diverse range of accolades and meaingless badges and certificates. But I digress. Sergeant Gaveranai, a man i held, and indeed still hold, in great regard. He was, without a soupçon of doubt, the best starfighter pilot I have ever had the honour of meeting. In one battle alone he skillfully accounted for a dozen Monserrai rebel fighter craft, and this with half an engine missing and two out of four laser cannons burnt out from a fusion explosion from a faulty reactor. A dozen! In a crippled ship! But merely having an impressive kill record does make one a hero does it now? No, it was the demeanour of the man. He had character. He could inspire his wingmates like no other, and was an exceptionally popular figure within the fleet.
In those days we could were - I'm sorry? What?
* * *
Til's expression of someone gambolling helplessly down memory lane disappeared, and was replaced by someone who, whilst wandering down the lane, has spotted a small animal defecating against a nearby tree.
"Yes?" he asked Darak coldly, who looked thoughtful for a moment before reply, his words slow and considered.
"Well, this starfighter pilot. Sounds like a bit of a boy racer to me. I mean, we're talking heros here, right? Not some, ah... someone with some skill at piloting a small one-man fighter?"
Til narrowed his eyes further.
"He was an inspiration to us."
" No doubt, no doubt..." Darak continued, as if were weighing up every word before saying it. "However, I personally can think of someone who many would consider a more..." he grasped around for a word, but finished lamely with "...heroic hero, as it were."
The Twi'Lek's head-tails twitched in irritation, but he made a gesture of acquiescence. Darak cleared his throat, and his story was as follows...
* * *
My father served in the Mandalorian Wars, you know. And then the Jedi Civil War after that. He started off as a private fighting the Mandalorians on Serroco, and I think it was their demolition of that planet that made him fight on. Anyway, he rose steadily, if slowly, through the ranks throughout the war, and found himself transferred as a Sergeant to a squad that came under the jurisdiction of the Jedi Revan. Ah, I can see from your expression you do not approve. Allow me to explain behalf of my father then. As I'm sure you know, Revan and his friend Malak joined up, the leaders of the Jedi contingent that fought with us, the Republic. My father never had much to do with Malak, but regarded Revan as something of a paragon. He was, like your starfighter pilot, inspirational, but on a considerably grander scale, and it was not in the loud, brash way some of his underlings had. No, Revan had a quieter sort of charisma, but stronger for that. You could sense his will, and it drove any who felt it forward. But it was more than his presence as a man. He was, and I do not hesitate in using this term, a genius. He made every effort to protect his men, but at the same time did not shy away from sacraficing where it as needed, or even fighting himself when it was called for. Soldiers appreciate someone who fights alongside them, particularly when that person is as fabulously strong as I am told the Jedi considered him to be. He saved millions, and he was one man. I know many who put the Republic's success in that war almost entirely upon his shoulders.
* * *
"A fine man, would you not agree?"
Til thought for a moment. "Perhaps, but do we define heros according to numbers? Simply because he saved millions, he should be sanctified above those whose heroism was on a more modest scale, and I might add, did not employ questionably moral choices to achieve what they achieve?"
"Oh indeed, anyone can be a hero to someone, but the measure of someone should be how many people see him as such, and how the regard in which he is held is? Is that not why the heros of lore have lived on like they have? Because they are remembered by thousands or millions?"
Til frowned again. "Fine, but what about the Jedi Civil War? Fighting against the Republic? Where's the sense in that?"
Darak smiled the happy smile of someone who knows he is about to expose the flaw in a long-held dogma, and will enjoy doing it.
"Well you see, that would perhaps have been his most heroic act, had ,of course, it succeeded."
Darak leaned closer, talking lower.
"My father eventually gained some favour with Revan, and was eventually selected as part of the Specials. You know them? His hand-picked unit, those who carried out his, ahah, special missions. And Revan confided in them that in conquering the Republic, he was protecting it against an outside threat, something lurking in the the wild areas of space. Interesting, hmm?"
"Sounds to me more like the predictable propaganda of those determined to stay in power and looking for a scapegoat, a hook on which to hang their crusade."
Darak pulled out a cigar, almost a foot in length and as thick as his thumb, lit it and took a long breath, blowing out pungent curls of smoke, green, orange and yellow. It curled about his ears as he leaned forward again.
"In a way, I almost hope you are right. I would not want to be around when the lurkers come, if they are something that frightened Revan so much he was driven to conquer a Republic 20,000 years strong." He inhaled and exhaled again, further hazing up the small cantina booth. "But think. Would someone really do all that, simply for the sake of it? He joined the Mandalorians wars out of a desire to protect, at any cost, and I for one believe that was his one overriding purpose, throughout his life. But who knowns? He never did return when he disappeared did he? As I say, I almost hope we never find out."
Til nodded contemplatively, accepted the cigar as it was passed over, and blew a smoke ring, which floated up towards the ceiling of the booth, and hung their, swallowing the low light, curling and writhing, throwing the motes of dust in the air into sharp, crystalline relief.
* * *
~ The dialogue contained within this account was recorded by a Mk III, .456 model Genoharadan
spy-mould, and compiled by someone with, one feels, a rather over-developed sense of drama
and romanticism. I can only apologise. As for the debate between the two spacers: the outcome
is inconclusive, and we'll call it a draw on points. However, In Darak's defence, it has to be
noted that several decades later, the Sith struck again from the Unknown Regions. So at least we known the
justification was not propaganda.
Drawn from this what you will.
~ The Observer