(Author's Note: Again, I took machievelli's suggestions and edited my last chapter. I'm always trying to improve my writing!)
SW: TOR: A MATTER OF MOTIVATION
Part Three of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter
JEDI TEMPLE, TYTHON, 1545 HOURS
"Master? Will Qyzen Fess fully recover?" I asked once the three of us had returned to the safety of the Temple. The Trandoshan lay in the droid-tended medical bay, under heavy sedation. "His left forearm felt positively gelatinous!"
"I know. Thankfully, his kind are known for their high rate of regeneration in every part of their bodies. They can regrow flesh, bone, muscle--even internal organs. With the Force's help, perhaps he'll be well enough to move about the Temple freely in a day or two. For now, however, he needs to rest." When I nodded, Master Yun slowly turned to me. "As for us, we need to keep on studying the Force-sensitive gems in that cavern. Do you have any ideas on how to gather them safely?"
I thought for a moment. "Perhaps we should send some specimen-collecting droids out. I'm hoping the crystals' contamination doesn't cross the barrier between organic life and machines. Until we find out what's causing the kognath to sicken and die, only the droids should analyze what we find. They might detect some toxic element we've never discovered before."
Master Yun clicked his tongue. "If that turns out to be the case, it'll certainly be a relief. As dire as that possibility might be, at least it's a natural one. On this planet, I have never sensed the presence of the Dark Side in any great concentration. It's why we Jedi decided to withdraw here after the conquest of Coruscant by the Sith. However, that doesn't mean the Dark Side is absent. Something or someone
might very well be orchestrating this."
"I hope not. It's the last thing we need, especially since we're trying to keep ourselves hidden! Still, it's a scenario that we would ignore at our peril."
A slight bleedle-eedle-eedle
from Master Yun's comlink interrupted our conversation. "Excuse me, Padawan," he said, holding up a hand and then placing the comlink up to his right ear. I bowed slightly and departed. At first, I thought of heading towards the medbay in order to visit Qyzen, but then reconsidered. If our situations had been reversed, I'd want to do nothing but sleep until I could feel that my forearm was solid
again! Nevertheless, I was worried about him. He might not want me to feel that way, yet how could not be concerned? He had fallen in battle, and on my watch. I was a Jedi!
In the Temple corridors, on the way to my own quarters, I saw a few Younglings who looked at me quizzically. Why was my usually-pristine tunic spattered with blood, sweat, and pungent greenish-yellow fluid from dead kognath drones? "Just swatting a few bugs!" I told them with an impish smile. I always loved it when they passed by. They reminded me not only of myself when I was their age, but also of our mission as guardians of peace. I wanted the galaxy to be a better place as they grew up than it was when I did. Chaos and suffering would always exist, but as long as we Jedi were there to take a stand against it, we would. In time, the Younglings would be strong.
My joyful reverie was interrupted by a sudden voice: young, female, and icy. "I challenge you to a duel," Tamara Malthisen sneered. "A sparring match, right now! The Training Room is empty." She was the Padawan of Master Karos, who had taken over Master Yun's previous lesson. Ever since our earliest days, we had been rivals, although we loathed to call ourselves that. Jedi are supposed to be free of all base passions, such as jealousy and bitterness. Still, we both felt what we felt, even if we couldn't hide it.
Surely Tamara knew how much I stank, and how disheveled I looked! What could I say that would let her know I was not only insulted, but slightly under-matched? When we did spar--on occasions that were thankfully rare--I defeated her. Revenge was another powerful emotion and cause that we Jedi were to avoid, yet Tamara probably sought it against me at the moment.
I stared her fixedly in the eye. "Do you want to see yourself win, or me lose?"
My fellow Padawan smiled, and then laughed softly. "What's the difference? However, since you seem unable to answer that, I want to see myself win. Training Room. Thirty minutes." Without another word, she turned and left.
Shaking my head morosely, I felt my armpits ooze a little. There was no way I could spar with Tamara, even then. I needed rest only a little less than Qyzen Fess, who was now peacefully slumbering. Peace.
Why had I seemed to have forgotten that, even in the span of around thirty seconds? What kind of Padawan was I? I'd fallen for Tamara's goading and given a haughty reaction to what was probably a simple challenge--no more, no less. However, I'd had the distinct feeling that Master Karos' own student was up to no good...Giving an exhausted sigh, I returned to my private but relatively spartan quarters.
As I was fully scrubbed within the wet and steamy confines of the automated refreshers, an insight came to me: It's a matter of motivation. If Tamara truly wants to see herself win, she will spar as she has before, fairly yet ever-so-slightly below you. She will respect the rules. However, if she wants to see you lose, all bets are off. You know she'll attempt every trick in the book, ignoring the conventions of a true sparring match. Her tactics will be brutal and relentless, bordering on illegal. If she seeks victory, that is because she's confident. If she wishes you humiliated and nothing less, she is arrogant.
"Can Tamara really be a Jedi, then?" I mumbled uneasily. "Can I?"
These questions troubled me. I tried to think of something else, but they would not fade. "Everyone's motivated by something," I countered, trying to defend myself against the accusations ringing in my own mind. "Take the battle in the crystal cavern. I was prompted by the desire to study the focus gems more closely, to see if they were tainted. Qyzen Fess? He wanted to honor his deity, the Scorekeeper, and find honor in battle. Master Yun? He's concerned about the long-term fate of all living things, as a Jedi should be. I swear he got angry when he heard why the Trandoshan was here, seeking to kill the kognath! Misunderstanding is at the heart of all conflict."
Somehow, my words rang as hollow as the echo reverberating off of the refresher walls. My shower was finished. All I could hear was the drip-drip-drip
of water off of metal fixtures, and my own body. Silence and steam enveloped me like a shroud. If I really believe all this, then why do I still feel so doubtful?
Something was missing. Sincerity...? No. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. That was a personal rule I lived by. Wisdom? I didn't think so, but--also no. I was
trying to figure all this out instead of ignore or deny it, and wasn't that wise? Why didn't I have complete faith in myself and what I'd been taught? What had I done wrong here, if anything?
Suddenly, it hit me like a crash of stone and transparisteel above my head:
You yearn to beat Tamara at her own game. She wants you at her mercy, and you dream of paying her back in kind! Admit it! Don't try to be a Jedi this time. Instead, remember what you are first and foremost: a human being.
I shuddered visibly. That simple truth was the most terrifying one of all...