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Old 01-07-2006, 09:37 PM   #26
JasraLantill
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Scotland, UK
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Chapter 6--part 3

The door to the starboard dormitory was open when Berland approached it with Ithra in tow. Sitting in the middle of the floor, cross-legged and eyes closed, Juhani appeared to be meditating.

Berland quietly cleared his throat.

Juhani’s eyes slowly opened, then narrowed. With an expression like an early frost, she asked, “Yes? What is it you want now, Sith?”

“Forgive us for disturbing you,” Berland said in his best diplomatic voice. “But Keeper Ithra has something to say to you.” He gently nudged Ithra forward.

Ithra inhaled deeply before she began. “I came to apologise,” she said. “Berland has explained to me how my comments may have unintentionally affronted you. I find my sudden exposure to so many different beings to be... unsettling. Still, that is no excuse for my thoughtless words or tactless actions. Please, forgive me for what I said and how I have treated you.”

In the long silence that followed, one could almost hear the debate going on in Juhani’s head. Finally, the words came. “Apology accepted.”

Ithra released the breath she had not realised she’d been holding. “Thank you,” she said, sounding gratefully relieved.

“Now, is there anything else?” Juhani asked.

Ithra glanced at Berland, who gave her a negligible nod to continue. “Berland has told me that your people and mine share something in common,” said Ithra. “He says that the Cathars, like the Jantessans, sometimes find it difficult to relate with other species.”

“Yes.” Juhani’s expression softened, but suspicion still lingered in her eyes. “This is true.”

“If you could see to share some of your own experiences, I believe it might help me to empathise with outla…others, so that I may better serve my people, and the Republic, should I become a Senator.”

“You wish me to teach you?” Juhani eyed Berland with mistrust.

“You are a Jedi,” Ithra said. “Who better than a Jedi to instruct one on the fair treatment of others?”

“Indeed,” Juhani warily agreed. She again paused for consideration before answering. “If you are sincere in your request to learn more about fairness and empathy, then I will instruct you. A Jedi *would* be better suited for the task than a…”

Berland coughed, loudly and with intent to interrupt. “Yes, well, I believe that is my cue to leave.” He smiled at Juhani, although his smile wasn’t entirely friendly.

Ithra blanched. “You’re leaving me? Here? Alone?”

“Ithra, you are perfectly capable of keeping yourself occupied for a while,” Berland said to her. “Besides, the High Presidium requires a detailed report upon our return—a report that I have yet to even begin. And I shouldn’t need to remind you of how Prefect Keel feels about ‘proper documentation.’” Berland bowed his head and abruptly left, leaving Ithra with Juhani.

“Come. Sit down,” Juhani said, beckoning with her hand. Ithra hesitated, but eventually sat across from the Jedi, mirroring her cross-legged position, although it was hard to tell as the cloak covered her entirely apart from her head. “Now, where should I begin?” Juhani mused.

“I suppose at the beginning,” Ithra answered quite earnestly.

Juhani chuckled softly. “Ithra, how old are you?”

“In Republic standard years? Almost sixteen.”

“Almost?” Juhani’s head bobbed knowingly. “I see. And have you always wanted to be a Keeper?”

Ithra frowned. “I don’t understand your question. I am Force Sensitive,” she said plainly. “It is my duty to be a Keeper, so that is what I am.”

Juhani sighed softly. “I was young, much younger than you, when I first saw the Jedi. I was just about to be sold as a slave, when they came through on their way to fight in the Mandalorian Wars. They freed me, and I was grateful, but what’s more is that I was so impressed by their kindness and generosity, their strength and sense of justice, that I wanted to be just like them. Eventually, I found my way to the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine. I learned the ways of the Jedi—the Jedi Code, how to wield a lightsaber, and how to use the Force. But, even after all of my training, I was not a Jedi.” Juhani lowered her eyes. “I fell to the Dark Side.”

“But… you are a Jedi now?” Ithra said with uncertainty.

“Oh, yes, of course,” Juhani said. “But only after Rade showed me that being a true Jedi means that you must make sacrifices, take responsibility for your actions, and always be mindful of how your choices affect others. Even now, my hot Cathar blood makes following the path of the Jedi difficult, but I do not give up. Every day, I strive to be the best Jedi I can be. Just as you should strive to be the best Keeper, or the best Senator, you can be.

“Before, when you were following me to the ship, you said something to Berland. Something about duty and balance?”

“Duty is the hinge of Balance. Balance is the Keepers’ mandate.”

“Yes, that’s it,” Juhani nodded. “Is that the Keeper’s Code?”

“I suppose you could call it a Code,” Ithra said slowly. “It is one of the rules of Aylah’han, the First.”

“The first Keeper?”

“No…. Just the First.” Ithra frowned. “It is difficult to explain.”

“Well, balance is the hinge of empathy, too. You have to imagine yourself in another’s place—consider how they might feel or react to a situation. Then weigh your choices for action against those considerations. That is being empathic.”

Ithra frowned with confusion. “But that is why Keepers are taught to seek,” she said. “So we do not have to imagine the intentions of others.”

“And what about feelings?” Juhani asked her. “What if you find, after seeking, that a person has a different, yet valid, point of view?”

“Again, your question is confusing,” Ithra said uncertainly. “Only outlanders and exiles would have….” She suddenly paused. “Perhaps, I will gain more understanding if I take some time to think about what you have said.”

“Perhaps. But please feel free to ask me for assistance anytime. A Jedi is always ready to help when needed.”

“I do have one thing to ask," said Ithra. "Though it is rather… trivial,” she added.

“Yes?”

“These… food dispensers on board….” Ithra lowered her voice conspiratorially. “Are there any other alternatives?”

Juhani smiled. “You do not like the food?”

“No, I do not. Jantessa has many different types of cuisine, but what comes from those devices does not look or taste like anything I would consider... food.”

Juhani laughed. “Talk to Jolee Bindo,” she suggested. “You’ll find him in the medical bay.”

“I’m sorry…I did not mean to suggest I was ill,” Ithra apologised.

“I know what you meant. Jolee doesn’t like the dispensers either. I bet he’s stored away some ‘emergency supplies’ for this journey. If you ask him, perhaps he will share some with you.”

“Thank you.” Ithra gracefully rose to leave. “I will go and… 'talk' to him now.”


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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