One of Thousands
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Kirkwall/The Free Marches
Current Game: Dragon Age II
(Author's Note: This is Part 17 of "Vremya," and I must admit that in this chapter, you might notice a heavy influence from the various works of Ayn Rand. This is intentional, as Bastila represents what Rand and I despise...)
Coruscant is, and always has been, a planet of contrasts: towering buildings and decaying slums built upon sinkholes, massive swarms of sentient beings and places of utter solitude, enormous wealth and dire poverty. It was my favorite world in the entire galaxy, for better or worse. Others might prefer the peaceful greenery of Dantooine or even the volcanic wastelands of Mustafar, but the all-encompassing city had always been my true home. It was where the Jedi Order had centralized its power before nearly being destroyed, and a tempting target for the Sith as well throughout millennia.
Coruscant was where we, upon the Ebon Hawk, had just landed.
Jolee Bindo raised a skeptical white eyebrow, as he was always likely to do, for what seemed the thousandth time. "I know we're on Coruscant," he said dryly, "but why in the Force did we have to touch down upon this rickety apparatus that only an idiot would call a landing pad? Huh? Tell me that." He was talking to Bastila, his arms folded obstinately across his chest, seemingly unaware that she was not his only audience. I snickered softly at his query.
Bastila's blue eyes narrowed. "For a former Jedi," she began, "you seem to have lost the fine art of patience altogether. If you must know, Mister Bindo, we are in one of the very poorest of Coruscanti neighborhoods, a slum called Tirda's Blight. Tirda Null is a member of the Exchange, a very powerful crime lord. It is she who runs this section of the city that covers an entire planet. The common folk are under her control and jurisdiction, virtual slaves to her various commercial enterprises. I'm going to make a speech here in the one place where people can gather and be safe, Millennial Park. I will re-educate them on what it means to live, not merely what it means to exist or survive. These people have forgotten the one thing that can save them."
"What's that?" asked Jolee. "Hope? Political power? Community organizing?"
Bastila's face spread into a half-smile that suggested three words: You're a fool. "You, the Exile, Revan, and the Mandalorians are coming with me," she announced. "You all have much to learn, and learn you shall." I shivered.
Within moments, we all had disembarked from the ship except for T3-M4, content with his humble post as the ship's sentry. We then turned toward Millennial Park, which might truly have been the only beautiful place in Tirda's Blight, or within miles of it. A magnificent fountain gurgled and splashed in the center of the lush green square, reminding me of a certain room in the empty Jedi Temple on Coruscant that I had never seen. As Bastila had predicted, a crowd had gathered there, finding relief from the drudgery of their various workplaces on their mealtime hour. She strode into the Park as if she, and not Tirda Null, were the owner of it. The crowd turned to stare, and I felt ill at ease as she gestured for the rest of us to follow behind.
"My good people," she began, projecting her voice through the Force, "I know your pain and your plight. I've heard of Tirda Null and how she exploits you. Most of all, I know the one thing that can send her back to where she came from--not the headquarters of the Exchange, but a much darker place."
"You're going to kill her?!" asked a drunk-sounding man. "Finally! Hooray!"
Bastila frowned. "I will do no such thing," she said coldly. "I'm not a monster. My name is Bastila Shan, and I have come to deliver you from the suffering you've endured. You do not deserve it, but neither do you deserve to be deprived of the answer to it." More people surrounded our motley crew. "Why have you slaved all these years and seen nothing for the fruits of your labor except one more day of life granted you by Tirda Null's thug enforcers? Why do you all stink and reek of utter penury when you could be living a good life? Why do you keep on having children you can't afford, and rents you can't pay? Is it an accident that a slave's life has befallen you, or the Force's will?
"No! The answer, the simple truth, is that you've forgotten your duty.
"What is duty, specifically yours? To work, yes, but not to work for a crime lord. To procreate and replenish yourselves and your species, yes, but not to do so through an act of carnal lust. Such things only encourage prostitution and the lower forms of bodily satisfaction. What is your duty? To live, indeed, but not to live the unexamined life! You poor wretches have all exchanged riches for rags, wealth for poverty, life for death! Why have you done this?
"You've all given in to your passions, which are the root of all evil and pain.
"Your passions are what have gotten you in trouble--not only the longings of the heart, but the emotions you refuse to keep in check. Selfishness, anger, greed, hate--these are the workings of the Dark Side of the Force, and if you give into them, if you choose to give in to them, then what else but darkness will consume you and destroy your lives? You must learn that the secret to freedom and enlightenment is what I'm about to tell you.
"Learn to eradicate these base emotions, and all emotions that do not lead to a humble acceptance of one's duty. As we Jedi say--and, yes, I am a Jedi--There is no emotion; there is peace. Learn to deny yourselves and your desires, for in desire there is passion. We Jedi have learned that There is no passion; there is serenity. Learn to study and to work, and to think of nothing else in life but your betterment and the lessening of your ignorance. We say: There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. Learn the truth about so-called 'freedom' and 'free will': they are but other names for chaos. Order and discipline are the keys to true freedom, as well as obedience. Without these two things, what are we but animals, and worse than they? The Jedi have paved the way: There is no chaos; there is harmony. Last of all, learn to lose your fear of death, for death is what only comes to those who are evil. Those who are good do not die; they live on eternally. That is why we say: There is no death; there is the Force.
"Do you understand what I'm telling you, you who are staring blankly at me? Can you even hope to understand, when all you think about are the selfish and immediate needs of your own isolated existence? Yes. There is hope, and that hope lies in me and in our way. The Jedi Order used to be a cloistered sect, arrogant and elite, closed to the outside world and lesser folk. No more. Each one of you can be a Jedi if you follow these teachings with all of your heart, soul and mind. I will help you. Together, we can save the world!"
The crowd cheered, and one by one, they came forward to Bastila and knelt before her. They humbly pledged themselves to follow the wise and timeless teachings of the Jedi. Why, then, did such teachings bring tears to my eyes?
Tysyacha has requested a fanfic review for this thread.