Ask [Lesson 2] - Ajan Kloss - A Similar Path

Oren Zapan

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It had been a few weeks of constant running, Oren had gotten so used to hopping from planet to planet, aiding in the ever growing Jedi order's exploration into their roots and traditions. But, after constant traveling and meals on the go, the quiet Jedi Knight was happy to be home within the walls of the Jedi Temple. He felt at ease here, safe and comfortable. He knew that it was good to push one's self every now and then and to experience life and the joy that the force brought to the lives of the galaxy. Emotion, yet peace. Was a constant reminder to him, to keep living each day in search of a new experience, and today was no different. He had run through several classes on various subjects, and evening had begun to set in when he had finished the last course of the day.

"And that my friend's is the story about how Master Yoda saved a group of clone troopers during the clone wars," he'd smile clasping his hands as he stood up, motioning the children towards the door. His hand would personally touch each and everyone of them on the shoulder as they left, "Dryden," he smiled, "Try to stay awake in class next time," he'd chuckle as the young boy shook his head and took off and down the halls. The knight was ready to call it a day, yet he saw the Theelin standing there waiting for him. Oh my, I nearly forgot. His face would flush a bit red as he peered towards the student with a sorry look.

"Please forgive me Miss Raltz," he'd smile, "I nearly forgot about our meeting," he'd say, as he motioned her into the room. "As you can understand younglings are quite the handful." He'd take a seat upon a small circular pad, motioning for the padawan to do the same. "How is your training coming?" He'd ask with a raised brow.

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Numa Raltz

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Numa pinned herself against the wall as a gaggle of younglings scampered past her with limited regard for personal space. Their excited, untethered energy washed over her, and it was everything she could do breath normally. Her nerves were already wound at the prospect of this meeting. In fact, her nerves were often wound these days. She had been ready to take her trails for at last 3 years, but constantly faltered when it came to her people skills. It was a sick curse, how easily she could sense the needs of everything around her, but could not seem to provide it with finesse when it came to other sentients.

With a final breath, Numa raised her colorful head high and entered Zapan’s classroom. She bowed, and proceeded to join him on the traditional disks. It impressed her how at ease she felt. He was a genuine Knight, and Numa admired him. For all that, she still couldn’t shake the feeling she used to get on Canto when the supervisor wanted to see her.

“Redundant” she answered flatly, but without malice. Her disappointment was not in her Master, who had been an excellent source of patience and wisdom for her. The dream that helped her escape the maintenance sheds of Canto Bight was on unstable footing, and she owed it only to herself.

Numa tried to diffuse her feelings, but the force within her brought them to the surface, and spread them through the room like a thin fog.

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Oren Zapan

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Would frown slightly as his head tilted, watching Numa shift and twist. The Jedi knight could easily feel the unease coming from her, the self-doubt that he carried within himself at times. Before him, he saw someone that was quite similar to himself. It was easy to stay in the shadows, to sit and study alone, to stay within one's room and read all day. It was comfortable, it was easy, yet his connection to the force and to humanity would suffer because of it.

His master had seen the struggles he had fitting in, his quiet nature and particular interests in History above everything often left him with very little in companionship during his younger years. He was close to giving up at one point, but his Master in his wisdom pushed and prodded him into teaching, into using his interests and skills to build a connection to the Jedi and those around him. It was because of this that he had begun to flourish and find growth within himself and with his connection to the force.

"You understand the principles of the code," he'd smile, "Certain skills could require some cleaning up, but we all lack perfection." He'd fold his hands as he leaned forward, placing a hand against her own. "I believe you truly know what's holding you back," he'd raise a brow. "I was the same way." He'd pull back, waiting to see how she'd respond to this assessment before moving further with advice.
 

Numa Raltz

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As their hands touched, Numa drew breath. The thought of this conversation had alone had raised her ire, and she could feel the bleed of her anxiety rush to her finger tips, eager to find a new host. But she held it. With a soft gasp, she released that poison, and seemed instantly to sink further into her cushion. For a fleeting moment, she even smiled.

“You intent is.... calming, teacher. But you are an exception.”
Numa withdrew slightly, and a shiver went through her spine.

“ For 8 years now I am told what a gift the force has given me, but for 20 years I have been a beacon for The personal turmoil of every path I cross. I thought my training help me learn to tune it out, but it seems to only get stronger.”

Numa needed another few breaths. Even in seeking guidance, the passions of those around felt more important than her own. She felt as though she were babbling, which left her disgusted. With a regressive shrug she conceded to the anguish.

“I am strong Master Zapan. I fight as well as any guardian, and could rebuild a fighter from scratch. But how can I put my faith in others when I know how deeply they lack faith in themselves?”
 

Oren Zapan

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Oren listened as the girl vented about the force, about how she was supposed to be gifted and how she felt trapped. He could sense the emotion inside of herself, boiling. She claimed to be ready, yet the echoes from her living soul rung with thoughts of self-doubt and projection. Her master had done her little favors in the way or preparing her, he was a good man, yet he was often too focused on the studies of theory and philosophy than to focus on the living and the present.

"The council has no doubt in your abilities, your skills are impressive." He'd smile, "I've seen the way you perform, you understand the core concepts of what it means to be a Jedi, but lack experience in putting it into practice." He'd ease the words from his lips, hoping that they wouldn't come across as negative. "It is okay to hold emotions, to hold fears and self-doubt." His hands would fold in his lap as he thought back to an example.

"But, in isolation you let them linger, lingering emotions fester into extreme forms, which leads to suffering, suffering leads to pain, pain leads to hatred, which leads to darkness. Accept your emotions, understand them, talk about them." There was an emphasis on his last words, "There are two tenants of the code that I believe you lack mastery in, and thus I believe that is what is holding you back." He'd say in a neutral tone, "Do you know which tenants those are?"

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Numa Raltz

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“Emotion, yet peace; and ....”

How was it that Master Zapan could be simultaneously so sincere, compassionate, while at the same time leaving Numa with the distinct sensation of being spanked? Her face flushed, turning a deep fuschia, and she was forced to cast her eyes downward. The first tenant came easy, but of course it would. She had always had a difficult relationship with that tenant, as every single one of her peers, even the droids she spent her time with brought it up as the obvious cure all dismissal of her constant struggle with absorbing all the feelings around her. Emotion yet peace, emotion yet peace, emotion peace, emotion peace. Kriff. Off.

For all his wisdom, Oren couldn’t possibly understand. How could he? Numa couldn’t begin to talk about her emotions, most of the time she felt as if she didn’t have any of her own. All she ever could be was a mirror for everyone else’s; and everyone else had so MANY emotions. She would receive everything around her and then inevitably reflect it, and so it went back and forth into infinity, with the smallest adjustment tearing open something new and starting the cycle again, and again, and again. How could Numa ever find herself in all that...

She snapped upright as though a bolt of lighting had just manifested itself into her spine. Her hair took on a life of its own, waving gently with anticipation, and her yellow eyes seemed gold, holding the sensation of “eureka” within them. Numa thought about that feeling Master Zapan had provided moments ago. He cut though her reckless lament with such well intended precision, and a a result she felt safer and more vulnerable all at once. Numa did the same thing with animals often, but their needs were simpler. An animals battle was outside itself, conflicting with sentient races, or nature. They wanted only to live when faced with a rapidly changing environment. In other words...

“Chaos...”


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Oren Zapan

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A small smile formed on his face as he watched the girl bolt into an upright position. He could sense the power core going off inside of her, yet her eyes gave away any thought she may been hiding. Good, yes and now you understand. Truth be told they all were under chaos and emotional stress. They were all connected to the force, organic in nature. There was no qualms about it, and it was okay to feel certain things.

Inside of them cells were constantly being reproduced and destroyed, planets spun and drifted along the cosmos. So much motion, yet inside of them all they were connected, they could feel, life seemed to follow a certain path and the same could be said about herself. All of the struggle and all of the eternal emotions of doubt or frustration, they were a symbol that she was alive and that she was connected to the galaxy, inside and beyond that layer was her spirit the inner calm that drove them all to better themselves and to become one.

She had realized it, or so he hoped, but to always remember the fact was much harder in practice. You had to push yourself into uncomfortable positions, experience new things to appreciate and understand that fact, to justify the meanings behind the code and the words. On a wall they meant nothing, but through practice one could open themselves up to the galaxy.

"Good," he'd fold his hands as he stood up, motioning her to join him in the halls. They would move through the rather quiet corridors, most of the students had gone away to their study or to the outdoor commons. "You and I are no different, I often struggled connecting, I felt like an outsider. One that could feel others emotions, yet struggled to put them into words or to process my own feelings." He'd smile as his words came out softly. "I often locked myself in the library or my quarters, away from everything. Simply studying the concepts and ideas, history, all of it. Yet never practiced the things I learned."

He'd shift his weight towards her, pausing in his tracks. "I believe you should go out there, mingle with our friends here. Go out into the galaxy, a random planet, a random city. Feel it, talk and live. Connect with those in the living force and experience emotions, learn to process them, fall and learn to pick yourself up. Then you will truly understand that the chaos inside of us is in everything. And that cutting through and understanding our emotions, can we find the peace and serenity with our selves, the galaxy and everything around us."

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Numa Raltz

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Numa followed at Zapan’s side in quiet, but content contemplation. The hallways were empty, but for the first time she found herself longing for some life in the corridors, a chance to listen with a new heart. The more she thought on it, the further her feelings reached beyond the two of them and opened to the greater world. Soon voices began to echo from the classrooms and the grounds beyond. It was not simple, but with some careful work, she began to pick apart the muddled passions on the surface, and find flashes of the will beneath. She couldn’t help but smile. Zapan’s wisdom had both humbled and lifted her, and she couldn’t help but be curious.

Master, Zapan. I don’t mean to intrude, but you have such a specific sense of what I am struggling with... Perhaps you could enlighten me further with your own experience? The new order has been around for such a short while, I wonder how we can have so much confidence ...



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Oren Zapan

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A soft smile would form on his face as he motioned for Numa to join him in the mess hall. Together they would walk in, the room dimly lit as meal time had long ended. Luckily for them, there were pots of hot herbal teas and drinks. The Knight would slowly pour them both a cup, before making his way towards a table.

As they sat, he'd take a sip from his own cup, contemplating on his own life, the markings on the near human's face glowing with a wave of emotions. His hands would hold the cup close to his face for some time before pulling it down, "Well to be honest with you, I have struggled with doing what's right for the longest time." He'd place the cup down, "I failed to challenge myself or to expand my emotions and to accept others into my life." He'd pause as his voice fell a bit somber, "I was close to your age when I experienced by two largest failures, which has shaped everything about who I am."

His fingers would tap against the top of the table as his eyes shifted down for a moment, "My master was terminally ill and I refused to see him, to visit him." His voice would crack, "I couldn't accept what he saw in me and truth be told, I couldn't...I didn't want my last visions or memories of him to be the way he looked." He knew the words sounded terrible, but they were true. He heard about the tumors and the bloated look, he lived with the haunting thoughts almost daily.

"In my anger and frustration, I took it out on my first apprentice, Master Byron (@Turtleneck )...I accused him of darkness, that he'd fall and destroy our order." A sigh would escape his lips, "I told this to a twelve year old boy, who was simply looking to me for guidance, and we have barely talked all these years later." He'd bite down against the bottom of his lip, "Our path, the tenants, we will always fall, always regret, feel pain. Becoming a Knight does not mean you have finished learning. It's a journey that will always continue and we must always pass trials and overcome the burdens of our darkness....this is something that I am still learning, still struggling with."

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Numa Raltz

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Numa gently sipped her tea in awe. She had heard people admit to failure before, and it always landed on her sideways. From her experience, this seemingly objective virtue was often tinged with narcissism. The two most common were speaking from the plateau,discussing failure to emphasize personal triumph; or bidding for validation through depreciation. Both of which were intensely exhausting.

Master Zapan had instead embodied humility With such refreshing sincerity that it brought a tear to her eye. It also brought a feeling she had never before experienced, at least not for a long while. She saw him with clarity, and before she understood her own reaction, a hand reached out and wrapped itself around his.

I am inspired. You have seen the truth of yourself. There is no greater gift than this, Oren.

She smiled wide, and warm her cheeks quickly began to hurt. Numa realized it may have been years since she had smiled this way, and another tear escaped. Almost unconsciously the force carried her revaluation and adoration through her hand and into his, and Numa did not pull away.

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Oren Zapan

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Oren could sense the emotions bubbling up inside of Numa as he shared his story about his own struggles, the tears welling up in her eyes, as they both bonded over the pain and struggle. It was okay to feel this way, to accept it and to feel it, but never to dwell on it. His brown eyes would shift down towards her hand wrapping over his own, the markings on his face pulsed slightly at the fact.

"Ah.." The words cracked from his vocal chords and all meaning was lost before it even reached his lips. He did not see himself as a good man, one to be inspired by, but instead one to learn the mistakes from, yet this student saw things differently. He could feel her emotions surging through her soft hand, calming him.

"It's one thing to know," he'd pause, "It's another to do what you must." He'd say in a soft tone.

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Numa Raltz

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And what is left for you to do, Master Zapan?” Numa raised an eyebrow, and leaned to to catch his eye before it could be cast too far downward. Her yellow eyes glowed slightly as she forced him to meet them. The questions was authentic, but a memory stirred, and Numa didn’t give him a chance to answer. With a soothing hum, she led into a story of her own.

Mmmmmm. I have killed before. You may know this. I felt I needed to then, because I was in bondage and had license to do what was necessary to be free. Or on another occasion, it was self defense. Every time I felt everything they did as they died. I saw their families, there loved ones, and their sins. I told myself it was necessary, every instance my survival depended on. In the eyes of the law that may be so, but I know now that was not true.

It had been years since even a piece of this story had been shared with anyone. Tears slowly began to streak her face, but she still smiled. It felt good somehow to open this wound, knowing her intent was to heal another.

My first 3 years as a padawan were nothing if not unpacking that fact. The impact of what I did was not the intent, but was what I was left with none the less, and I was curs... eh, blessed with gift that showed me the impact at the moment of my unfortunate action. I can never change that. No matter what repentance I take... finally I settled on responsibility. It’s private, but it is part of me, and I have not made the mistake again, and I count myself fortunate if my example prevents even a single other soul from doing the same.

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Oren Zapan

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Oren knew he need to apologize, to make up to those he had hurt. But, the words and actions were much harder to come up with than he expected. He needed to find a way to reconnect with Byron, but nothing particular quite came to mind. With a gentle sigh, the Jedi would fold his hands on the table as he listened to the padawan speak about her own journey. She spoke about her killing, how she did what she needed to do to be free.

Oren himself had never taken a life, but he knew that the day would most likely come. It was an interesting thing to theorize and discuss. What was the merits of killing or combat? Should a Jedi be allowed to kill? Oren himself saw it as the last option, to save the lives of others at that moment.

"Killing is a heavy task that one carries them for the rest of their life. Don't dwell on the past, understand the reasons for why you did so and make peace," he'd say softly as he stood up, "Lingering doubts can lead one to apathy or those who don't contemplate and meditate on their actions are leading themselves down the path to the darkside of the force." His hand would gently grip her own, his pale fingers intertwining with her own for the briefest of moment.

"I can tell that you've thought about these things. You are a good Jedi Numa, you just need a little push to get yourself over the hump." His hand would pull away as he walked towards the door, pausing to turn back, "Don't beat yourself up," a soft smile formed over his face, "We all have to carry the weight of our past." He would turn towards the door, exiting, he knew that Numa had what she needed, now it was time to put it into practice.

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