Faith I - There Is No Emotion
“There is no emotion, there is peace.”
Faith knew before she heard the rest of the Jedi Code that it was completely false, but she humored Master Ralto regardless. The blue-skinned, male Nautolan did save her life, after all. Kinda.
“There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.”
Faith pondered the words and decided that it was utter bull, save for maybe the last line. She hadn’t been in this universe or dimension or whatever for very long, but it was evident that she was sensitive to this ‘Force,’ whatever it was. Supposedly, if she could control it, she could be like a Slayer and a witch combined.
“Now then, Padawan Lehane,” Master Ralto said, “what do you believe the Jedi Code is meant to teach us?”
Faith felt incredibly awkward in the center of the classroom, filled with other students of all ages and of so many different species, none of which she recognized. Tython was no Sunnydale or Boston, but she’d had enough of high school to last a lifetime. “I dunno,” Faith said. “We’re supposed to just turn off our emotions and let the Force take control or somethin’? The world doesn’t work like that, Ra… Master Ralto.”
The Nautolan Jedi Master smiled at Faith’s near-slip. She wasn’t used to calling anyone ‘master’ for any reason, but she gave the Jedi his due respect for subduing her and calming her down peaceably after she’d tried to kill him, and then forgiven her. Not a lot of people Faith had met would be that generous, but Master Ralto was an all right guy.
“It is not like that, Padawan Lehane, but I can see how a new initiate might get that perception.”
Faith resented the title of ‘Padawan’ even more than calling all the Jedi here ‘Master This’ or ‘Jedi That.’ It just sounded so Sesame Street to her. “Then what is it like?” she asked, trying not to snarl.
Ralto smiled serenely and paced at the front of the classroom. “Jedi calm their emotions to avoid distractions and attachment. We must remain impartial in order to be proper peacekeepers. By refusing to accept ignorance, we seek out what we do not know and make it part of our knowledge. Jedi must be ruled by logic. Passion clouds our judgment, and so we seek calm at all times. Chaos can reign over others, but if we accept that there will always be some things over which we have no control, then we will reach a state of harmony with ourselves.”
“What about that last part, Master Ralto?” Faith asked. “How is there ‘no death?’ That’s not possible, unless you believe what the Sith say about the Emperor.”
At this, some of the younger students began whispering loudly amongst themselves. Faith realized that some of the kids probably didn’t know much about the Sith or their Empire.
Master Ralto remained calm and closed his eyes. A feeling of peace fell over the classroom, and Faith felt herself relax as the room went quiet. When she realized that Ralto was casting some sort of spell over the class to calm them down, she felt her anger spike inside of her.
“When we say ‘there is no death,’” Ralto explained, “we do not mean that death is not a real thing. It is simply not the end of existence. The Force is in and a part of all things. When we die, our bodies, minds, and spirits do not leave the Force, and the Force does not leave them. We continue on, but in another form. It may not be a form with consciousness or physical being, but we all endure through the Force, which then gives life to all other things. Thus, all life is eternal, from a certain point of view.”
Faith wasn’t done. “You say the Jedi are ‘peacekeepers.’ We’re supposed to stay impartial and keep the balance, yadda yadda yadda. And yet, you all carry laser swords and train for war while the Sith want to wipe you all out. How do you stay ‘impartial peacekeepers’ with all of that going on?”
Ralto sighed, and Faith detected a hint of impatience. “The galaxy was not always at war. Before the Sith invaded, we had three centuries of peace throughout the galaxy. There was a war three hundred years ago that we only now understand to be a precursor to this invasion. The Jedi strive for a galaxy at peace, and when that happens, we will act to keep that peace. But the central tenet of the Sith Empire is that peace cannot exist. So long as such evil exists, it must be the duty of the Jedi to oppose them at any cost.
“And by ‘oppose,’” Faith said, “you mean you have to kill them all, right?”
“Not necessarily,” Ralto said. “Might I have a moment in private, Padawan Lehane?”
Faith nodded and rose from her seat at the desk. She whispered a brief apology to the class at large and went out into the hallway.
“Look, Master Ralto, I’m…”
“I know, I know. You’re sorry and you didn’t mean to cause trouble. I understand, Faith. You come from a life full of much conflict, and you are quite set in your ways. Most Jedi come to train very young. You are old for a Padawan, but full of potential. There is darkness in your past, but also a great yearning for good and for justice. I sense you will accomplish much, but perhaps a classroom is not the proper venue for your training.”
Faith laughed at that, and Ralto smiled along with her. “You got that right. So, what do you think I should do?”
“Why don’t you take a taxi out to the training grounds in the Gnarls and let the Masters there teach you how to swing that practice sword that you’ve been itching to use.”
“What? I thought you were all about peace and not hitting stuff.”
Ralto took a deep breath. “The sad truth is that the Jedi are in need of capable warriors, and you are quite capable already. Perhaps in learning the forms of the lightsaber, you will come to know our ways better. May the Force be with you, Faith.”
“Right back at ya, Master Ralto.”
Faith turned to leave the confines of the Jedi Temple, and for a moment, she thought she could sense Ralto shaking his head and smiling, his head tresses shaking as he went back to his classroom. She was looking directly away from him, but she still knew that he’d been doing just that. Was this the Force at work?
Hopping into a droid-piloted speeder, Faith felt the air rush by her as she was driven up a dirt road to an open grassy area beneath tall, snowy mountains.
A Jedi was immediately upon her. “Padawan! What are you doing here?!” the human woman exclaimed. “The training grounds aren’t safe! Didn’t our messenger reach the Temple?”
“Dunno,” Faith answered. “Maybe not yet. What’s the problem? Can I help?”
“No, not unless you’re prepared to take on a small army of Flesh Raiders.”
Faith’s hand went to the handle of her practice sword. “What’s a Flesh Raider, and how do I kill one?”
“Peace, Padawan,” the Jedi woman said, though she was clearly ill at ease. “I recognize you, now. You’re Master Ralto’s student. The one he found on Denova, yes?”
“Yeah, that’s what they tell me,” Faith said.
“Hm. You might be able to hold your own. Until reinforcements arrive, we have to consolidate our forces. Last I heard, a group of Padawans was trapped in the mountains by a gang of Flesh Raiders. They’re Tython’s natives, and they are a nasty sort. They’re smart enough to use blasters and blades, and they eat their kills. I’ll mark the position where the Padawans were last seen on your map. Normally, I wouldn’t send you alone, but right now, we have no choice.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Faith said. “I’ll find ‘em and bring them back nice and safe.”
The Jedi woman breathed a sigh of relief. “I hope your task goes smoothly. Be safe, and may the Force be with you.”
Faith held out her wrist, which had a holo-generator on it, showing her a map of the area. She had to get across a bridge and then cross a river to get where she was going.
Breathing in more than air, Faith felt a power flow through her, as if the energy of Tython’s ground itself were filling her with life and vitality. With a burst of speed, Faith took off faster than she’d ever run before.
When she got to the bridge, she saw a group of three ugly, hammer-headed things with guns in their hands. They saw her and started firing with horrific war cries.
Faith didn’t know what to think of them, other than how hideous they looked. They were the enemy, and they weren’t human, but a lot of things weren’t human in this universe. Could she kill these things and not be a murderer?
As she deflected their blaster bolts without even thinking of it consciously, she felt a calm come over her as she sensed the evil inside of them. She saw without seeing the blood dripping from their lips, and she knew that they were creatures of darkness.
Faith could almost hear Master Ralto’s kind voice telling her, ‘There is no emotion, there is peace.’
The Flesh Raiders were just barely more than feral, and yet they weren’t mindless monsters. Faith’s blade ended their lives quickly and painlessly. She didn’t want to be a murderer, but she wasn’t about to stand by and let anyone else kill if she could help it.
Faith crossed the bridge and waded into the river, swimming downstream a bit and then coming up on the other side. She was no tracker, and she couldn’t see a path on the map from where she was now to where the Padawans had been.
A small ridge of rocks lay off to the side, and Faith realized that it didn’t have to be a boundary to her. “There is no ignorance,” she said, jumping over the meters-high wall with ease. “There is knowledge.”
Finding a path, Faith walked up it until she came upon a roughly-made metal cage with a dead Jedi child inside. A hot anger swelled up inside Faith, and she wanted to kill the monster that had done this.
But there was no Flesh Raider near the cage, and Faith realized that there was nothing she could do here to change things. “There is no passion,” she realized. “There is serenity.”
Further along the path, Faith was ambushed by five Flesh Raiders wielding swords and staves. Before she could react, Faith was huddling up to protect herself from the slashes and beatings that she was receiving. She wanted to lash out, but the blows were coming so fast that she couldn’t get a clear read on which opponent was where and how they were positioned.
A soothing feeling overtook Faith, healing her wounds and clearing her head. The Force was aiding her, she realized. “There is no chaos,” she whispered, just as she let out a burst of energy, throwing her opponents all backward and to the ground. “There is harmony,” she said, standing up and continuing on the path.
At the end, she saw three young Padawans, and one of them was injured. “There you are!” Faith said. “Are you guys all right?”
“We’re fine,” a human girl said. “Walt took a blaster bolt from a Flesh Raider, but we took it down. We can stay and fight.”
“That is not what the Jedi Code teaches us,” a horned Zabrak male said.
“I gotta agree,” Faith said. “You’re Walt, right? You are not gonna die on my watch, you hear me?”
Faith picked up the injured boy and carried him over her shoulder. “You are not going to die. There is no death, just the Force, you hear me?”
“Yes, I hear you,” the kid said.
“Atta boy. Let’s get you back to the Temple. I got a beacon here that can signal a pickup at a clearing nearby. Just a little bit further, hang on.”
Faith stood outside the walls of the Jedi Temple as the medics took Walt and his friends inside to the infirmary. They were good kids, and she hoped they’d be okay.
“That was a very brave thing you did for those Padawans,” a woman’s voice said.
Faith turned to see a grey-haired female human in a sleeveless black tunic. “Thank you… Um, sorry. I don’t know what to call you, and you’re not dressed like most Jedi.”
The woman smirked with wry humor. “I’m Grand Master Satele Shan. I suppose with rank comes privilege, even among the Jedi. It’s not something I think about much, but perhaps I should. It’s Faith, right?”
“Yes, Master. So, um, if you don’t mind my asking, what’s the Grand Master of the Jedi Order doing here? Shouldn’t you be directing the rescue efforts or coordinating the war with the Sith or something?”
“The Force is a tool for knowledge and defense,” Master Shan said. “We don’t attack in aggression, ever. You engaged in battle today, and you took responsibility for yourself, for your charges, and even for your enemies. Those are the signs of a wise woman. A wise Jedi, I would say.”
“Yeah, I’m all right,” Faith said with a smirk of her own.
Master Shan smiled. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk with you privately later this evening about today’s events, and also about finding you on Denova if at all possible.”
Faith nodded. “Yeah, sure thing.”
“Very well,” Satele Shan said. “I will see you then.”
As the Grand Master walked away into the Temple, thoughts of Denova came back to Faith, and she couldn’t help but be reminded of the one thing that hadn’t left her mind at all since arriving on Tython.
Where the hell was Buffy?
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