The Order's outreach was limited in vast swathes of the galaxy still. It could be long, grueling work making inroads with communities, sometimes through meetings with high lords and ladies, other times with the people most vulnerable, the people who really needed the Jedi. And especially in a galaxy trying to rebuild once more, it was those little actions of kindness and support that cemented communities.
That meant that, when the Jedi Order had come to Vakkar, as it did today, the few dispatched had been finding ways to hep the struggling communities here. One thing it seemed many needed in the lower parts of town was food, plain and simple, help with rebuilding, construction. House building, industry construction, all the things that help a people to thrive, they needed here.
Saul needed work like this, it was all he could really do, though now his body was weak, still recovering from the injuries he sustained on Ifrane. His left arm now featured a collections of cybernetic additions to help stabilise and heal it. His legs were in similar condition, the base of it still his flesh but intensive reconstruction had built them up with metal and wiring. Most of this he could hide beneath his robes, but the burns to the side of his face, and the rebreather attached that assisted his breathing were always on display. Saul still scratched at it now and then, but he understood why it was there. The hope was much of this would be removed in time, but for now he needed every part,
Skkkkk-ghrk, the whirring of his rebreather before he spoke now,
"What do we have to offer them tonight?" Saul asked his companion now as they came to their makeshift kitchen. Here in the evenings they planned to provide meals after the working day was done for the people. Slowly they were getting to know the locals, slowly they were making a difference.
Jacob was a bit naive to the struggles of others, this was something he knew he'd eventually have to come to terms with. It wasn't a lack of sympathy for those in need but a lack of understanding. He would often attempt to avoid speaking to those in need about their struggles directly. He wasn't sure if was fear of failing them in some way or the thought of repercussions for his lack of understanding. As they landed on Vakkar the concern he had felt when he first took on this task started to get to him. Would I really be able to aid these people? This thought would often come to his mind during his humanitarian missions, which is why he would more often than not seek recon or other missions when possible.
The person he was accompanying, Saul Devan from what he was told, was clearly suffering. He couldn't see much, but he did see the burn on his face and the rebreather, something to do with fire he imagined. He took care not to stare at his fellow Jedi's situation at the request of the knight who gave him the task. Jacob wasn't sure of what caused the injury, but he was sure that it must've required a lot of bravery.
Jacob's face remained partially hidden under the hood of his robe, though he would often lower it a little to greet passerby with a smile. He didn't carry much with him, not even his saber, but he did have an apron in his pack along with a few cooking utensils. He was looking forward to cooking again as he had spent the last few days learning a few recipes at the temple. Learning and doing were two different things he would come to find, but that wouldn't hinder his excitement.
"Well let's see what we have here." Jacob had a small glint in his eye even though his lips remained in their neutral position. He would definitely show his fellow Knight some amazing things in this kitchen today. Or so he thought, but as he looked around he had not found a single item that he was familiar with. The glint slowly faded as he opened a few containers and pulled things out that looked familiar. "Soup. Soup and vegetables." He'd look to Saul with an inquisitive look as he said this. "I can also heat up some sort of noodle...thing."
Saul felt a great weight rush off him as Jacob looked over their supplies, a quiet chuckle following the scratch of his rebreather. It was good to be reminded of simpler things like that. Like noodles, like soup. If one read the histories of the Jedi, of the great storied Knights and Masters throughout the ages it seemed as if their place in the galaxy was one of violence, of drama, and even darkness at times.
Yet in a place such as this was a Jedi's true work, the true work of any people, so Saul liked to think. Caring for the people, labouring where one saw what all their effort had amounted to, that was what mattered. And right now, Saul needed to remember such things, remember why those grim and dark stories he knew of had to occur. It occurred for moments like this, and the future they hoped to build through it.
He hoped they would last, but in his heart he worried still. Darkness he had seen on Mimban, pain he had felt all too recently. A fear then, that a shadow still lingered in the galaxy, beyond what they knew, like some oncoming disaster that laid before all. But even the smallest actions like this could help bring resolve against such darkness, if it truly did come,
"I'm sure it will be fine, but add plenty of Durmic if we've got it, it'll make the stock a whole lot stronger" he called back to the Knight as he set out the awnings out the front of the building, though his breathing struggled, and his voice had trouble making itself heard,
"We did a dumpling, back on Virgillia, just flour, water, and whatever you could stuff it with to fill it, we could try that one night too" Saul added, his mind was in a good place now, these simple days on Vakkar put him at ease "What about you? Remember much from home? Where is that by the way?"
"Durmic? I actually haven't heard of that ingredient, let me see here." He began to look through the cupboards more thoroughly than before, his hands hunting for any container that could carry a spice. It was some time before he finally happened upon a small container with the words he had been seeking. He placed it next to the soup ingredients and began to move his hands along the side of the counter as he got his station ready.
"A dumpling? That actually sounds pretty good, and I have enough flour and water to make a bit extra" Jacob's ears began to perk up as he grabbed the flour from the cupboard and pull out the utensils from his bag. Ah spatula, my old friend we meet again he smiled at the spatula he had purchased while he was on Naboo. Along with it were a few pots and pans that all had a bit of wear on them, he didn't want to spend much to get them after all, but they had a simple charm that he had come to love.
As he finished preparing the materials he heard a question that made his hair stand still and his arms stiffen for a moment. He hadn't thought of home in some time, and when he did it carried it's own types of bad memories. "Nar Shadaa, we don't exactly have a delicacy there that is consumable by humans. It was mostly take what you can get there, and even then what you got wasn't exactly good. I can cook a few creature to make them edible, but I doubt most people would want that." He said with a shrug as he stood over the ingredients. "I do know how to get a bit more soup from what we make, though the flavor will be a bit diluted. We could serve more people that way."
Even with his eyes elsewhere, Saul noticed the pause after he asked after Jacob’s home that made him turn back and look over to his companion. Clearly it wasn’t a happy memory, a credit to him then that he felt comfortable talking about it at all. Somewhere like Nar Shaddaa, with its towering buildings and lights at every hour felt a million miles away from everything he ever knew on Virgillia, as quiet as it could be. But both sounded harsh, both unfair at times. It was a miracle they’d made it to where they were, even in spite of it all. That or the will of the Force,
“Better to have more than less,I’d say do it, I’m curious anyhow what you’ll do. There’s enough hungry that they’ll appreciate it” Saul replied with a strain as he heaved a pot over to Jacob. It felt rare that Jedi had time to really talk when they were out of the temple, usually so much was going on there wasn’t down time. This assignment was different, and he was glad of it, especially as his synthetic parts accounted for the weight of the pot, he still wasn’t used to balancing such things with them. Part of him wondered if he ever would be,
“In which case I can try and fold the dumplings, get something heavier in them. Do you want to hit the broth? Do you know where you’re headed after this Jacob?”
Jacob could only nod at the sentiment from his Jedi compatriot, it was indeed always better to have more. He took the pot and got to work, filling it with water and chopping up the vegetables to put in the soup. He grabbed the Durmic, taking care to put what he believed to be just the right amount in there, which was quite a bit. A smile began to form on his face as he got to work, he enjoyed moments like this where he could focus on a simple task and let his mind drift a bit. The question about home still lingered in his head as he chopped away, perhaps one day he would visit the moon again. It had been some time since he had seen the planet, perhaps not even during his days as a Padawan did he even step foot on it. Perhaps it was time to go back, perhaps he would learn something more.
"Go ahead, I'll be honest I likely would have folded the dumplings in an awkward manner. I'm not exactly a master in the kitchen just yet, but with study I will become a force to be reckoned with." He held the spatula as if he was holding a saber as he spoke, he didn't joke often but he tried to create a lighter mood from time to time. He placed the pot of prepared vegetable next to the fire pit that had been prepared to cook some of the food and prepared to light the fire. "I think after this I will begin looking for method to instruct my padawan, I haven't spoken to them yet so I have been a bit on edge. I am not exactly a fountain of wisdom like most of those in the order." He then knelt next to the fire pit with his torch kit and got to work. It took him several minutes but he was eventually able to get it lit. He would let them sit for a moment before placing the pot in it's position over it, to allow time for it to settle.
"In which case I've no doubt you'll find the right method, I know Padawan's can be a handful" Saul reflected "Well, I know I was, anyhow. A little too critical I was told, ended up teaching myself half the time. Though the same can't be said for cooking, in that I have my parents to thank" he offered a wry little smile as he came over to Jacob as a crowd began to form outside. In moments the dumplings began to cook in the broth, the salty, spicy smell of the soup filling his nose as he brought bowls over to serve the people, waving them.
Dinner was up.
The first bowls went down fast, and the line outside did not grow shorter even as the place filled up with hungry workers and families ready for a days feed. The whole place warmed up with the bodies and boiling broth all about it. Their soup was rapidly draining,
"Time to top this up I think, seems like there's more mouths yet" Saul said with a subtle smile, this was a good day overall he had to admit. Hauling over a pot of dumplings to add to the mix though, he slipped slightly, knocking the soup pot that splashed into the fire below, the flames leaping up as the suddenly became fueled with oxygen and oil. Saul bellowed in fear as it leapt toward him, dropping his things and falling to the ground. The heat, the fire so close... it reminded him all too much of Ifrane.
Alarm immediately revealed itself on Jacob's face as he heard the crashing of the pot and the feeling of fear reaching up his back. He looked back to see the scene, and worry began to fall on the back of his mind. "It's alright, you're safe, it's just a small flame." He spoke in a calm tone, which did not match what was going on in his head. He felt the panic before he even saw the scene, and had a general idea of why it was so strong. It nearly caused him to jump out of his own skin, keeping calm would be an extreme feat. He used the force to lightly push the flame, to the point where it was a faint flicker.
"Perhaps we should take a moment to readjust ourselves, step back." He placed a hand on Saul as he spoke, looking around for somewhere for them to sit. He looked a bit disappointed at the crowd and the pot on the ground, holding up a finger to allow them a moment to recover and make more food. He slid out a chair for Saul, attempting to lead him to the side out of the view of the crowd. "Do you wish to take a moment to talk about it? As I said I am not the wisest master but I will try my best to help." His voice had returned to a full state of calm, he prepared himself to listen instead of speak.
Saul was shaking even as he took the chair offered by Jacob, sitting down as he tried to steady his breathing as the flame licks died down to a manageable level once more. Jacob's voice rang in his ear, a calm centre while his mind reeled.
The crowd all looked his way as Jacob took care of him, though it seemed his fellow Jedi managed to keep them calm and get them back looking to their meals instead.
When Jacob asked if he’d liked to talk, his voice nearly caught in his throat as he thought about it, only a few words stammering out at first. But, as he had been trained to do, he breathed, trying to pause himself and let the words come,
“Ifrane, I was there on the surface and... part of it gave way. That’s why this is all part of me now” his voice was slow and pensive as he gestured to his cybernetics, it was not something h often spoke of openly,
“I can’t really remember a lot of it, but my body still does. When that fire jumped it... part of me remembered. Being so helpless, being hurt. I never want to be near it again” his voice was quiet in the hubbub that had returned to the room, speaking to Jacob alone,
“I’m just lucky someone was here again to help me” he offered Jacob a smile, or the best he could manage anyhow, as his rebreather wheezed.
He took a seat next to Saul and just listened, his eyes narrowed as he did so. He examined the cybernetics and burns, he could almost feel the pain Saul was in for himself. He didn't know much about the pain he was feeling, but he did understand the feeling of helplessness and fear one would get from an experience like that. He experienced a few times when he was younger, but especially when his father was killed in front of him. He wasn't sure how to help him confront these feelings when he himself never really confronted them.
"You've been through a great deal, a pain that I have never experienced that has caused great damage to yourself." He spoke with a hint of sadness in his voice. "You are incredibly strong, my friend. You've shown this in being able to talk about and confront this pain." He smiled at Saul as he spoke, he was glad he was able to provide help for his fellow knight in his time of need. "The feeling of helplessness is a wound just as any other, and it will also heal in time. And you will be all the more stronger for it I'm sure." There was a hint of uncertainty in his words as he spoke. He felt as though all experiences, good and bad, made people stronger when they survived it.
Saul's breathing slowed as Jacob spoke to him amidst the hubbub of the diners surrounding them. The words were a comfort, and right now that was what he needed to draw his mind away from the anguish and anxiety it had just generated.
Something about the way his friend said it made him feel like Jacob himself had enough experiences of his own under his belt under that calm front. Perhaps it was true, perhaps he was just overthinking it. He did that these days, wrapped himself up a little more regularly than he used to. He knew that, that's why days like this had been so freeing recently. He still wasn't ready to go back to heavier Jedi duties, not just yet. But at least he was coming to see more clearly what had happened to him,
"In which case I can only hope my spirit isn't too damaged either my friend" Saul finished, looking up once more at his friend with a smile, placing a hand on his shoulder. A silent thank you for being there.
But his eyes shifted, gazing over at the fire once again Saul stood up, the mechanical additions to his legs being heard clearly as he paced over to the side of the pot once more, and began to stir. His body remembered the pain, even now they twinged slightly as he closed in. His mind though, that could carry through, today would be the start of that.