Join Date: May 2008
Current Game: KOTOR III
Chapter 4: Good Intentions
Did anyone even notice Chapter 3 when it was up? I rushed this chapter as well and hope it didn't suffer, but if it had...
I had suddenly been hit by another chilling discovery: Master Kavar had already seen their battle plan and rejected it. If he would not support such a plan, then all of it would have been for nothing. I had to get back and tell Alek that Kavar wasn’t buying the deception. I was sickened to find myself actively working for Revan and Alek against what I believed was right.
At first, I was against it all, then I became neutral on the matter. When I started becoming active, I justified my actions by assuming that I was just cleaning up a mistake. When I started searching for Alek, I just acted as though it were a natural thing to do. At some point, I was walking through a major hall and just stopped and stood there as though my instinct, or maybe the force was keeping me from moving on.
I may simply have been overwhelmed by everything that I’ve learned in only the last hour. In only an hour, I went from believing completely against Alek’s proposal, but now here I was trying to ensure that it happened. That had left me in an uncomfortable situation where my next move was going to be a wrong move. I felt like a pawn on a chessboard!
I often wondered why when the King was in checkmate that it just ended there and the king was never actually captured... he didn’t move at all. He was in check and there was no means of escape, so he just couldn’t move at all. I had never really considered that minor detail about a game of chess, but now I realized that I was in check and there was no escape for me.
I didn’t want to just do nothing because I wanted to see those planets along the Outer Rim get the warships they needed, but I hated how it would be done. I also didn’t want to side with the Council’s side and watch the Mandalorians continue as they have until they finally strike the Republic and know I may have been able to keep that from happening. I couldn’t speak to Master Kavar because he was the one who had to be kept in the dark unless I were convinced that he should have known about the real plan.
Check, but maybe not checkmate. All I had to do was ensure that Alek knew about Kavar and see what he would advise from there. I could make another move out of the line of fire and not do anything unethical or that would force me to choose a side. It would simply be to buy some more time or keep my options open, so I forced myself to start going forward again to find Alek. He was supposed to be training with some padawans in one of the training rooms. Likely their masters just wanted to see their hero in action because they would listen to him if he gave the same advice. Whatever the reasons didn’t matter; I just knew where I had to look.
When I finally found the right training room, he was indeed talking to the students more than showing off his impressive physical abilities. I couldn’t help but imagine him as one of those ‘Don’t do spice!’ kind of spokesmen. His role was that of a guardian, but he does have his moments where his words do more than his lightsaber.
I had walked through the room, avoiding the other padawans who were physically engaged. As I came into his view, Alek kept his eyes on me, but kept addressing the class until I was within earshot. “Are you going to disrupt my classes as well?”
I knew he meant it as a joke, but I needed to get down to the point. “I need to have a word with you.”
“Can it wait? I really would prefer to speak in a more secluded place and at a more reasonable time.”
“I don’t think it can.”
He stared at me and then looked for an open area where there were no people to overhear anything. When he found one, he gestured for me to follow him. “If you’ll just give me a moment, class, I’ll be right back.” Then he moved to the empty corner at a brisk pace.
My legs were a lot shorter than his, so I had to run to keep up him.
When he turned around, he looked a bit excited as though he expected me to give some great news. “What is this about?”
“Kavar didn’t buy your battle plan. He came to the same conclusion I had before you...”
“You told him?! I didn’t mean for you to go and spill everything right after we last spoke! I had meant to know if he would be a reliable last resort, but you reveal the whole...”
I interrupted. “I said nothing! He came to the same conclusion I had when he saw your battle plan was found it was flawed. He’ll never buy the deception and neither will the Council.”
He looked at me, confused. “Wait... how did he come to...?” He turned around to think seriously. Then he quickly pivoted back to me. “He has a battle plan of our fleet deployment to Serocco? Is that what you mean?”
“Yes. I did not actually see it myself, but he said he was evaluating a battle plan for Serocco. Why did you not ask of Cathar as well?”
“A moment, please.” He started pacing around with his arms crossed and his head tilted towards the floor. At some point, he started muttering under his breath and then shook his head in disbelief. “Do you have any idea how got it?”
“I don’t know... wait... he said a senator transmitted it to him and asked for and evaluation.” I answered.
The answer seemed to fill him with anger and it showed in his body language. I was intimidated by the sight and stepped back as if expecting him to lash at me, the messenger. He didn’t. “Thank you for telling me. It was not meant for Kavar’s eyes.” Then he turned around and briskly went to his class without another word.
He got in front of his class. “I’m sorry, but we have to end this early. I have something urgent to attend to. Don’t worry, we’ll finish this later.” Then he turned back to address me. “Where is Kavar now?”
“He’s in his office. I saw him about twenty minutes ago.”
“Twenty minutes?! I’ve got to get to him. Stay here.” Then he rushed out of the training room with me trailing behind.
I was not just following because I was his pawn, but because there was something I had to know. “What’s wrong? If your battle plan wouldn’t get past him in any event, then what good is it to try and convince him without my help?”
“We're not telling him anything. I am going to simply tell him that what he has is not what the Senate would vote on. Kavar was supposed to get another version Revan fabricated specifically for...”
“You’re fabricating evidence! That’s going too far...!”
Alek quickly turned around and put one of his hands over my mouth and the other was pressed against the back of my head, effectively silencing me. It was a shock to suddenly have this huge guy snapping me back by the head and I tried resisting for a brief moment before realizing that he was not trying to hurt me, although the way he gripped me was painful, but that it was the only way to stop me from revealing what we both wanted to keep secret. When I got control of myself again, he slowly pulled his hand away from my mouth and then a few seconds later, withdrew from me completely. He did not seem angry, but was not happy to have me along.
I refused to look him in the eye, but he leaned to be at eye level with me. He spoke sympathetically. “Alexandra... I know that you’re just trying to do the right thing, but in order to get warships to those who need them, we have to deceive the Council and the Senate. If it means betraying the trust of a few... even people that I’ve known my whole life, then it’s a small price to pay for the results it brings.”
“We’re not the one being deceived. We are not the ones paying the price.”
He put his hands on my shoulders to comfort me. “You are not a part of this. You can still walk away if that is what you want, but don’t get involved unless you are willing to do whatever it takes to stop the Mandalorian threat. That is the first priority along with saving as many innocent lives as possible.” He smiled and stepped back to leave. “You’re under a lot of pressure right now. You should take your mind off this whole thing for a while. This kind of decision takes time to make, so if you want to, you know where to find me.” Then he walked off and left me behind again.
I got more uncomfortable with each passing moment because I knew that the road to hell was paved by good intentions. So what could all this deceit possibly pave the road to? How could I let myself be manipulated to actually believe this guy, who I only just met, to go behind the back of a man I’ve respected all my life?
I was afraid of what Alek intended to tell Kavar more than anything at that moment. I felt that if there was some logic left in the galaxy, then I should have trusted the one who’ve earned it more than one who hadn’t. On the other hand, I wanted to believe in what Alek and Revan were trying to do. I thought they were the greatest hope for stopping the Mandalorians because they not only knew of military tactics and the Mandalorians, but (at least Revan) knew how to bring about changes and how to overcome the limiting factors that kept progress from being made.
I would never have considered using a failed preemptive strike to cover for mobilizing the fleet near the Outer Rim, but Revan did. Although I didn’t approve of how they intended to do so, I believed that it was better than allowing an invasion to occur without opposition. The Mandalorians were the most brutal and efficient fighting force I have ever encountered. They were not influenced by the contingencies of war, fear of death, and did not distinguish between military and civilian targets. They would wage the kind of war that the Republic hasn’t seen in hundreds of years. Although the Great Sith War was against a foe greater than them, the Republic had faced Exar Kun at a time when their military was at full strength. The Republic was still licking its wounds from that war and had not focused on maintaining a strong military while its economy continued to struggle.
I found it remarkable that while the Mandalorians had built up their strength, the average citizen was not so concerned in investing in new ship design as in the latest protocol droid specifications. The only source of the latest generation of weapons, shields, and fighters would be the Hutts. Even if the Republic were to go along with this war, they would have to deal with the wretched creatures when they find the casualty rates much too high that they are forced to retire their entire fleet of obsolete vessels and not enough shipyards to churn out their replacements. They’ll end up paying a premium because they thought they were making a good investment when they skimmed off from defense funding.
I stood where I was left for a long moment before I felt a hand on my shoulder. It started me and I brushed it off by reflex as if I were being grabbed, but turned around and came face to face with Padawan Kalin. She flinched at the way I reacted, but assumed the fault was hers or something. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to see if you were okay.”
It took a moment to get my mind back on where I was and who was in front of me. “Oh... no, I should apologize. I didn’t mean to slap you away.”
“It’s alright. I saw what happened back there... did he hurt you?”
“No. I just... I’m alright.”
“What’s going on? What did he do that set you off? Why was he...?”
“It didn’t look like nothing.”
I was getting frustrated with Kalin and tried to get her to walk away. “When I said it’s nothing, what I really meant was that I don’t want to talk about it!”
She was startled by my outburst and slowly drew back. I suppose that when a superior shouts at you in anger, especially a jedi knight, it was only natural that she would be afraid.
When I saw that fear, I realized that I was not in control of my emotions anymore. I suppose that I was under more pressure than I thought, so I took control of myself and focused on the words of wisdom that meant more to me than the Jedi code: Anger is a natural response to the injustices of the galaxy. To not feel anger is to not value justice. To not value justice is to use anger against the innocent.
Such words would not be encouraged by the Jedi, but I have taken to them because they reminded me of how anger, like all emotions, were not inherently good or bad. Like the truth, emotion was ultimately influenced by the individual... and I had let my anger for the injustices of Alek and Revan be redirected at a friend. I put my hands together and bowed my head to Kalin. “I’m sorry. I’m just upset with a problem that I can’t do anything about. I appreciate your concern... I really do, but there is not anything that can be done.”
“It sounds serious.”
I nodded and cracked a nervous smile. “It is.”
She cautiously talked about the subject without addressing it directly. It was odd for a padawan to try and help one more experienced than her. “Well if there’s nothing that can be done, then maybe you should not dread upon it. I assume that you are troubled about Revan’s call for action?”
I stared at her as though to silently tell her to drop the subject.
She didn’t. “Well it may not matter much, but I think you made an impact earlier today. I admit that Alek’s message caught my attention, but when you stood up to him... you gave me back my confidence in the Council’s ruling. They never explained why they wanted us to remain neutral and I couldn’t really understand why.” She chuckled from enlightenment. “The Republic is vulnerable and need as much time as possible to prepare its defenses.”
I shook my head almost erratically. “No it’s not. The Republic is not making preparations for an invasion. Even if they had six months to prepare, the Republic would be just as vulnerable as it is today. I was wrong and shouldn’t have told everyone of an outcome that would never happen. Please don’t make a judgment based on what I said earlier. I’m not saying Alek was right, but I certainly don’t want you making a choice based on that.”
“It’s not just you. I trusted in the Council, but it was difficult to understand why they let so many be massacred on the Outer Rim. It wasn’t them, but the Senate who made the choice. I’m also not fond of the idea of war either, so I would not want to start one.”
I found it odd how positive Kalin seemed at an impending crisis, but for some reason, I felt that I didn’t want to throw her praise away. Despite pushing her in a direction I no longer wanted, it made her world at least a little better than it was before. I would not push her any further in that direction, but I did not want to give her more reason for concern. “I appreciate your kind words. It really lifts my spirit to know I had an impact.”
She chuckled. “I think the greatest moment was when people started leaving before he completed his speech. I keep thinking of how would have reacted.”
“People followed me out?”
“Yeah, about 10 got up shortly after you were gone. A few more after that. I would have as well, but I had a class that he was going to instruct... I just didn’t want to show disrespect.”
I felt terrible for what I did because I could have made things so much easier by doing nothing. Instead, I let my pride bring me to step up to Alek and publicly show I was the dominant one. Of course, I didn’t show that to Kalin. “Good call. It’s best not to give anyone a reason to hold a grudge, even a Jedi.”
“So where are you off to?”
“I... don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought.”
“I was in that class and have an hour to myself.”
I smiled. “An hour without a master watching over you? Then you should take advantage of it.”
She looked irritated. “Yeah. An hour... to spend... with friends.”
“Kalin... the Jedi aren’t normally the kind you can make friends with. It’s not you, although it may seem that way. I know what it’s like to be accepted at a later age, so I know how long it can take to get used to the Order. I would encourage you to meet as many others as possible, but realize that you won’t be making many true friends.”
She sighed in depression. “I don’t understand... Master Vash says that a jedi is never alone, yet I’ve never felt more alone in my life.”
“You have your master. He is always there for you, isn’t he?”
“Not really. But in the times when he is, he doesn’t respect my feelings. He’s never satisfied, makes my life miserable, and one of the meanest old men I’ve ever known.” She sighed in dread. “I thought that Master Zhar was a kind, gentle, and understanding... I felt that I was doing well under him. I was so taken by the idea of being a jedi that I didn’t think about my old life. My father, sister, friends... I missed them, but I never really... longed to be with them again.”
“You’re not alone. I’ll be there if you need a friend to turn to.”
She grinned, but it quickly vanished. “I appreciate your kindness, but I’m not going to be on Couriscant for more than a few weeks. I’m only here because of my master.”
“Who is your master, anyway?”
She looked at me for a long moment before answering. “Master Vrook.”
I inhaled fairly loudly like a reversed sigh. “Vrook? Vrook selected you to apprentice?”
She just nodded weakly.
“That’s no small thing. He is very picky about who he chooses to personally train. You should be flattered.”
“Have you ever trained under him yourself? If you had, you would not say that.”
“I was actually one of his favorite victims. I know all about his impossible standards and lack of respect. I assure you that he would not have chosen just anyone; you must have truly impressed him. He’s just being mean because he’s trying to prepare you for you for what’s out there. As strange as it may seem, he pushes you because he cares.”
She looked close to tears, but not that she had to blink them back. He really must have traumatized her. “I had asked if a padawan could choose their own master, but I was told by Master Vrook wouldn’t allow it. He said that I was behind the other padawans of my age and that he accepted me specifically to accelerate my training. If I didn’t keep up with his demands, he would fail me.”
I looked at her almost in shock. She was admitted into the Order at age 13 and was in training for only two years. Her age shouldn’t have been considered because older students didn’t have the ability to learn new ways of life like those born into the Order. “That’s not fair... you are still pretty new to the Jedi ways and naturally wouldn’t be up to those who’ve had a decade or so more than you. What could Vrook possibly be thinking?”
She turned her head in another direction, knowing it was a rhetorical question. “I don’t know. He said I was way behind everyone else and that I had to devote every moment I had to study. With all the time he spends with the Council, he doesn’t do more than assign tasks and gets frustrated that I demanded his help and waste both our precious time. If he were there to begin with, I wouldn’t have had to forced him to push up a meeting here or being dragged with him into the Council chamber.” She sighed and put her head upon her wrists. “I like having time to myself, but there is nothing worth doing. I can’t navigate through Couriscant. No recreation facilities on Dantooine. No time to squander on holovids when I should be reading through the archives. Always afraid of failing...”
I saw her blinking back tears, trying not to break down. I knew that she would start crying when I extended physical comfort, but I felt that it was better that she be allowed to express her feelings out of Vrook’s gaze. When I rubbed her shoulders, I saw the tears. “It’s not you... it’s Vrook. I don’t think that he is the best choice if he can’t be there when you need his support. You shouldn’t have to be afraid... and he should not have to use fear as motivation. If you’re committed, then that should be enough even for him.”
Kalin closed her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks and shook her head. “It’s not. He’s a bitter old man making my life a living hell!” She started seriously weeping and grasped onto me like I was her mother or something. I had accepted that she was alone and I was the closest friend she had on Couriscant, so I held onto Kalin and comforted her in the way that Vrook never would. “Why is he so mean to me? What did I do to make him hate me so?”
“He doesn’t hate you, it’s just his nature. I know it doesn’t make it any easier, but you should know that you have nothing to feel ashamed of.”
“But what do I do? I can’t stay with him, but if I leave, I can’t ever come back. I want to keep training, but I don’t know if I can make it with Master Vrook. I don’t want to live in fear of failing and being sent to Telos...”
“Shh...” I didn’t want to have her escalate the fear that was tormenting her every moment of every day for the last two months or so since she had become a padawan. I knew that she had to be away from Vrook. She did not have the open mind that children had and his methods of training were not suited well for older padawans like Kalin. “This is not the best place to be. I’ll take you to my quarters and you won’t have to worry about him finding you at least for a while.”
She had her head pressed against my shoulder and nodded without any eye contact. I had a feeling that I was going to have to stand up to Master Vrook in the next few hours one way or another. Kalin was in a terrible state of panic and I felt obligated to help her find a way past him.
Then I was reminded of Alek and his plan for some reason and thought that I was somehow destined to challenge them because everyone else was either too afraid or loyal to think they could make an impact. Although Kalin was small compared to all that Revan and Alek hoped to achieve, I would have felt terrible to know I left her behind when I could have done something to help. What’s a few hours of unpleasantness if it could make a lifetime’s difference to her?