Join Date: May 2008
Current Game: KOTOR III
Twilight of the Exile
I didn’t know why I bothered to come to this presentation; I guess that it was just a chance to see a prestigious Jedi like Alec and hear what he had to say about recent events. Although the Council had already assured the Order that they aware of the situation, an aura of doubt had been brewing for nearly a decade and it seemed that a watershed event was imminent.
By then, it was not news that another world had been occupied along the Outer Rim by the Mandalorians, but a critical hyperspace route ran through that system. Although hundreds of Republic worlds were within their reach, none of the Core Worlds had been under a direct threat until now. From Coronet came a greater fear of invasion to other Core Worlds, who realize that even they were vulnerable. It was easy to dismiss a threat when you had three or four systems between you and the Mandalorians, but to live next door to one of their worlds was to live in fear.
While it seemed that such a threat would not be allowed, the Republic did not have the means nor the desire to hold the corridor when the Mandalorians chose to take their latest prize. As the Outer Rim came closer and closer to being completely occupied by the Mandalorians, it only seemed a matter of time before we learned if it would stop there. And if the Outer Rim was not enough for them, who would be their next target? Although there were hundreds of more tempting systems within the Republic, it was standard belief that they were safe from invasion. The question was whether the neutrality between the Republic and the Mandalorian Empire would endure if the Outer Rim were completely annexed.
Such a significant threat had brought about two very different ideologies about the prospect of war within the Order. While the Council has had the utter commitment of their followers from the start, Jedi support for neutrality waned more with each conquered world. At the same time, hostilities only seemed to become more and more likely as war became less desirable with each passing day. No one wanted to fight the Mandalorians, but the threat was only getting more severe.
At the same time, an elite few within the Order have decreed that war was already upon the galaxy and took the debate to greater level. Revan in particular emphasized how critical the threat had become in the last decade because of, not in spite of, the Council’s inaction. With his friend, Alak, the pair seemed to polarize the ‘war ideology’ from one of instinctive neutrality to one of extreme commitment to one side or the other. While the wishes of the Council were often regarded as absolute to us Jedi, those two have emboldened a standard under which our teachings were more important than our leaders.
The last thing the Council wanted to hear was that Alek intended to publicly denounce their authority, but allowed him to hold a lecture on the topic of the Mandalorian threat. It was obviously a political event, but as long as he kept to the subject, there was little the Council could do to forbid him from making public presentations. I was interested in knowing whether his intention was to promote the Order or his friend, Revan. I and almost a hundred other Jedi gathered to hear what Alek had to say.
The majority of the audience were older padawans and the more seasoned masters. Not many knights showed up though... the majority who would come to such events were either young and open-minded, or wiser masters who often adopted new ideas from experience. Most who have become knights, but who've never taken an apprentice often don't risk being mislead from what they've been told all their lives.
Alec was among the most physically impressive jedi within the Order. Despite his relatively youthful appearance, he carried himself more proudly than most of the Council. When he walked into the presentation hall, there many ovations given that ranged from applause to simple bows. Several of the more seasoned Masters went up to shake his hand and say a few private words beforehand. The younger padawans seemed to look up to him as a fine example for them to follow. Although I knew he was tall, I never realized how much he dwarfed everyone else in the room.
Once everyone had gotten their fill of Alek’s presence, he moved to the front of the lecture hall and his audience got where they could see him. I always took a front seat to these kind of things because I was too short to see over the heads of others. Although Alek was tall enough that I didn’t have to worry about where I stood, it was just habit that I took my usual place in the front tier.
When everyone fell silent, Alek looked through his audience to see who among the group of about 100 he knew or was acquainted with. Alek and I knew each other by name, but were not acquainted. I’m sure that he’s heard of me, but certainly was one of those who would strongly dislike me. Although his opinion really didn’t matter anyway, I couldn’t understand why I would have been disliked by someone I’ve never even met.
Alek began his speech. “I want to thank you all for coming here today. As you know, the Republic has explicitly requested aid from the Order in regards to the latest Mandalorian incursion along the Outer Rim. War is brewing and it is going to eventually involve the Order, so the question is not ‘if,’ but when the Mandalorians will commit the first overt aggressive act against the Republic. Although the Council still believes that diplomacy can bring about a peaceful solution, we must be ready to oppose them before they invade Republic space.” He crossed his arms and came before one of the few masters among the crowd, Akagi. “Likely most of you believe that we should not instigate a conflict, but wait only until if the Republic is under attack by a foreign power. That is not an option anymore.” He allowed a moment of silence to fill the room.
Akagi asked a question to break that silence. “Then what are you proposing we do? The Mandalorians have firmly kept out of the Republic’s jurisdiction. The Senate has chosen not to get involved, and we cannot make much of an impact without their support. Technically, the Mandalorians have done nothing to violate the peace. Unless they directly interfere with the Republic’s interests, we really have nothing to justify hostilities.”
Alek turned his gaze back to the audience. “The Mandalorians were not foolish enough to attack the Republic directly, so they instead concentrated their attacks to worlds on the Outer Rim. For twelve years, they’ve been conquering one planet after another... stockpiling resources and taking control of strategic hyperspace routs that put them within arm’s reach of over a hundred Republic worlds. Where once there had been dozens of systems that buffered the Republic from the Mandalorians in the Outer Rim, few remain. Cathar and Serocco are the only remaining inhabited planets between them and us. When they are invaded, they will either be slaughtered or enslaved... forced to feed and supply the army that had taken their worlds. Or worse, used as warriors against the Republic.” He paced across the front of the hall as if to display thoughtfulness and intelligence. “My friends, billions have already been slaughtered by the Mandalorians along the Outer Rim while we watched and done nothing. It does not matter whether they were Republic planets or not; they stood no chance against the might of the Mandalorians. We allowed them to fall into Mandalorian control and allowed those who fought to be massacred and for those who surrendered to be enslaved.”
I raised my hand to object to the statement. “The Senate had refused to aid the Outer Rim. Even if we, the Jedi, had chosen to protect those worlds, there was little we could have done against an offensively oriented juggernaut like the Mandalorian Empire. Although brave, a few thousand Jedi would also have died along with those billions and had very little impact on the outcome. We cannot blame ourselves if there was nothing we could have done.”
He crossed his arms and got directly in front of me. “We have that chance now. For the last year, Revan and I have petitioned the Senate to aid these last two worlds against the impending Mandalorian invasion. They are expected to vote on the matter within the next few days.” He smiled and proudly gestured to himself. “We are not even on the Council and we had a significant impact on the Senate. Revan believes that if the Council were to encourage it, the Senate would be persuaded to mobilize the fleet to defend those last two worlds.”
A number of people around seemed very interested in the prospect of saving two civilizations from imminent destruction, but it didn’t seem as simple as Alek made it appear. He spoke of war, but didn’t address certain issues that I had hoped he would during the lecture. The topic was of how to address the Mandalorian threat, but he has only talked about past mistakes without going into much detail of the present or future... of which were much more important to me. I wanted to know more about the impact that war would bring before I started backing one side or the other.
Someone else raised their hand. “They already gave the Senate their recommendation and the Council advised that the Republic that the Jedi would not support a preemptive strike against the Mandalorians. They believe that it is more important to evaluate the threat before committing to a war we might not be able to win.”
He closed his eyes and shook his head. “They’ve had over a decade to evaluate the Mandalorian threat... now is the time that they must act. The Senate has sent an official request for Jedi support in the defense of those systems. If the Mandalorians move to invade, the Republic fleet would be deployed to fight off their assault forces. Such action would constitute a preemptive strike... an act that the Council has always discouraged... and the Senate will not risk alienating the Jedi by committing the first overt aggressive act. The Council must encourage the Senate to take the war to the enemy and not wait for them to bring it over the skies of Coronet, Chin’taka, or Ord Mantell.”
I spoke up again. “The Jedi have always stood by the Republic in the past. If the Senate sees the need to act, they would do so with or without their approval. Why do they need the Council’s blessings?”
“The Republic would be committing the first act of aggression. The Jedi are not obligated to defend against a threat that the Republic chose to engage in the first place.” Alek replied.
“That comes down to another issue... why would the Republic ‘want’ to strike first? They aren’t prepared for war and can’t afford to begin hostilities early.”
“The Council must encourage a preemptive strike to the Senate, or they will not act fast enough to defend both Cathar and Serroco. War is coming whether it is the Republic or the Mandalorians who strike first. We have an opportunity not only to dictate where and when the first battle begins, but engage the Mandalorians when they least expect it. Their fleet is not mobilized to attack the Republic and would be caught off guard when realizing that they were no longer facing helpless worlds, but the entire Republic fleet.” Alek stepped back after a moment of showing encouragement to give a look of grim realization. “In order for the Senate to take action, the Council must encourage them that a preemptive strike to defend Cathar and Serocco is in the best interest of the Republic.”
“Then why are you not speaking to them about this issue? They’ve already made their recommendations and I agree with them.”
He crossed his arms and got in front of me again. “I would not ask you to go against the wishes of our superiors, but I believe they are wrong. I’m only asking you to consider the consequences of their decision and to keep an open mind about the issue at hand. Many of you are here because you are unsure of the Council’s decision... there is no disrespect in telling them that they are making a mistake that will cost billions more their lives or their freedom.”
One of the Padawans, Kalin, politely objected to Alek’s last comment. “With all due respect, I would not consider your opinion to be worth more than the Council’s. You do make a good argument, but I don’t think that it’s our place to question our superiors even if we don’t agree with them. They are to the Order as a master is to an apprentice.”
“That is different. An apprentice should respect her master because she does not have the experience that the master does. Although many who’ve come here today are padawans, themselves, I believe that everyone here is wise enough to trust in their own experiences more than that of the Council’s. We are Jedi who they have trained and who have earned our positions within the Order; not raw recruits without the discipline or the years of training to simply be ordered about. They should remember that they represent the Order, so their decisions must reflect upon us. And right now, most believe that saving Cathar and Serocco is too important to just stand by and do nothing. We must encourage the Council to act now, or they will be lost.”
I objected more harshly than Kalin because he had made absolute assumptions that were not based on fact. “You can’t know that. In fact, most of what you said is based on little more than what you and Revan say is about to happen. What if you’re wrong?”
“Most of what I told you is already known.” He faced the entire crowd again. “Alexandra has brought up a valid point though... we cannot know for certain what is in store for the future. For all we know, Cathar may not be invaded by the Mandalorians. Maybe the Senate would not act quickly enough to dispatch the fleet. Maybe war could be averted if a peaceful solution is found... we cannot know for certain. What we do know is that the Mandalorians have relentlessly invaded every other planet along the Outer Rim and the pattern we’ve seen shows that it is more likely than not that Cathar and Serocco will be massacred without Republic aid. The Council has had over a decade to evaluate the threat, but as they watched, it has only become more severe. All the while, billions perished as one system after another fell into the enemy’s control. There has also been nothing to show that they will stop their campaign at the Outer Rim. Revan and I know more of the Mandalorians than anyone, including the Council... and we are telling you that they won’t cease their conquest until they are confronted directly and defeated.” He gave us a very saddened expression. “There is no other way.”
Silence filled the room, broken by only a few whispers in the background. Kalin raised her hand again. “So what are you asking of us? Are you saying that we should disregard the Council and go to war ourselves?”
He shook his head. “No, of course not. Revan and I have been pushing them to act for a long time, but they are adamant about sending you, their disciples, into harm’s way. I know you are afraid of the prospect of war... I would be lying if I said I relish what is to come, but we must show the Council that we are willing to fight. I urge you not to believe in me, Revan, or even the Council, but to come to your own conclusion of what must be done. If you think that you should trust the Council’s wisdom more than your own, then I support that.” He started making hand gestures to hone his point. “Do not support the Council if you believe they are making a mistake. History has shown that they have made mistakes before and could very well be making another. You do them no good by trusting their wisdom implicitly.” He held his hands up to gesture us to stop before protesting to what he just implied. “Don’t go against their wishes, but instead talk to them... share your concerns. It does not matter whether you convince them or they convince you of the wisest course of action, what is important is that both walk away with a greater understanding of the other. Hopefully, both can come to the same conclusion.” He chuckled. “I wouldn’t mind being wrong about all this, but I only hope that you exercise your own good judgment. Do not follow the Council if you believe they are wrong. It is up to them to convince you, not to assume you’ll follow them blindly. I also want to make it clear that I’m only encouraging you to share your concerns; not to go against their wishes.”
“But you are.” I stepped in front of the group and got in his face. I could not stand how pompous that guy was to encourage violence without even so much as giving proper reasons for it. I knew that Alek couldn’t have been so stupid as to actually believe what he was spouting off about. “You don’t want mutual understanding; you want the Council to believe what you say. You couldn’t convince them, so you want us to do it for you!”
He frowned at me in a very hateful way. I guess that the reason for that was because I would not let his prestige dominate my moral sense. And I felt that someone had to stand up to him and denounce his heart-to-heart talk for the political stunt that it was. After a brief moment of anger, I had expected him to shout back like Master Vrook, but instead remained calm and politely addressed my concern to show everyone that he was in control. “I’m convinced that we’re right. That is reason I don’t accept the Council’s judgment, but they are just as convinced as Revan and I of their own convictions. They’ve taken the opposite side of the same argument and believe that anyone else’s opinion is wrong. If we indeed are the ones mistaken, then surly there would be nothing to support our accusations. Much of what I just told you is fact and I think it makes a very strong case that the Republic’s neutrality has only escalated the threat the Mandalorians pose today. Can you provide an equally potent counter argument against all that I have said? I’d be glad to address any questions you may have.”
“Your entire argument is flawed. The only way in which Cathar and Serocco could be saved is if the Republic is willing to commit a defense force of what equals that of ten systems to each. Even if the Senate were willing to commit so many ships and soldiers to defend those worlds, they would be devoting too many warships from nearby systems that would need them when the Mandalorians invade the Republic.”
He shook his head. “The idea is to take the war to the enemy and engage the Mandalorians at Cathar and Serocco instead of over Republic Worlds. The fleet would be deployed to those systems primarily to engage and destroy the Mandalorian assault forces when and where we choose instead of waiting for them to come. By devoting the Republic fleet to these two systems, we can concentrate our forces can strike a tactical blow upon the Mandalorians before they ever attack the Republic.” He said confidently and smiled almost smugly.
“You have no idea what you are talking about. By sending the bulk of the fleet to those locations, you end up saving those worlds, but leaving over a dozen open when the neutrality is broken.”
“So you believe the best option is to just allow those worlds to be destroyed? Going to war would put everyone in danger, but it is better to strike at the Mandalorians instead of waiting for them to come to us. It has been almost a decade since...”
“We should have engaged the Mandalorians when they first became a threat... that was a mistake. Now, ten years later, the situation has changed. Those worlds were doomed from decisions made ten years ago. Trying to amend a past mistake would mean making new ones. The only reason the Mandalorians never attacked worlds within the Republic was to avoid facing the Republic fleet... aiding those worlds would be a declaration of war on the Mandalorians... a declaration of war now would then leave almost a dozen worlds exposed who’s only defense was Republic neutrality.” I turned my gaze to the crowd. “Don’t you realize what war would mean? If the Senate were to break the neutrality, it would lift the shield that is protecting so many worlds along the Outer Rim. Don’t allow your emotions to be exploited on this issue. It’s easy to think that war is a simple solution, but much more is involved than what has been said here today. I don’t want to see yet another two systems fall to the Mandalorians, but if it would leave five times as many people open to invasion... what of them?”
He brushed off the question. “The Mandalorians have to be stopped. The longer we wait, the more powerful they become. If we do not act now, then when the Mandalorians invade, god help us all. We have followed the Council for ten years and they’ve done nothing... a decision must be made immediately or the Mandalorians will become too powerful to stop.” He faced his audience as if to peal to them. “You know what must be done. I only ask that you have the courage to make the correct decision when the time comes.”
I addressed everyone as though I took the role of speaker from Alek. “War is ahead of us... that I have no doubt. We made a mistake in allowing the worlds along the Outer Rim to be conquered, but we cannot act now to save Cathar or Serocco. They were lost by a decision that had been made a decade ago. By trying to correct an old mistake, we would end up making a new one with more severe consequences than if we did nothing. Instead, we should prepare the Republic Worlds that will be left defenseless when the shroud of neutrality falls. If we act now, we must realize that our actions will change the situation of the Mandalorian threat.” I got in Alec’s face one last time. “Be sure to consider all the consequences before you act. It is better to hesitate than to make a mistake... because once war is unleashed, it cannot be stopped.” I sighed deeply as if realizing how dire the situation was and looked at the faces of the others to see more fear in their eyes than before I got in front of them. That fear was not caused by the Mandalorian threat itself, but by the fear that the Council did not know how to deal with the situation.
After seeing that fear, I knew that I was heard and felt that it was important to walk out of the hall almost as if to show them that I was turning my back on Alek. I would have loved to make him swallow his pride, but it was not my desire to harass Alek as it was to keep the others from being emotionally blackmailed. Without another word, I turned to an exit and carried myself out. All the eyes centered on me and the utter silence left the impression that I made an impact. I wasn’t aware of it at first, but I was later told that about a dozen others walked out right after I did.
Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 04-19-2009 at 08:06 PM.