Zak's eyes narrowed as he shot a heated glance at his Padawan. He knew where Luci had these thoughts be put into her head, she had been talking to that Sith. However, it was a gaze that quickly softened as, through the strong bond that had been built between them, her anxiety building to a crescendo. He allowed a frustrated sigh to escape his lips more at Master Grimm's words than Tazlen's jabs.
"I do not understand your point Master Grimm," Zak stated in an annoyed voice. "No one here has shied away from fighting threats against the Galaxy. I have fought the Killiks on Thyferra. I was willing to pay the price to protect the President of the ISC from the Killik Queen. I only recently finished my recovery from those injuries." He continued. "Your implication of being unwilling to or afraid of standing against the darkness and evil of the Galaxy isn't something that will be tolerated here. Even the youngest amongst us has stood against the Sith on Onderon." Zak stated as he gestured towards Maura. "What is being stated is that only providing the Galaxy with an opposition to the Sith has left us with no allies and no friends." He explained. "We must provide services in addition to standing against the Sith, their Empire, and their pawns. This doesn't mean those that aid in farming or healing will not participate in military actions. It just means that those who choose these paths will be expected to carry both burdens." He stated. "The Path of a Jedi isn't single fold, it never has been and it never will be. We are expected to be examples in all aspects of our lives and we should try provide more than just battlefield leadership." Zak explained. "People of the galaxy starve from wartime shortages. Denizens are wounded from being caught in the crossfire of conflicts." He continued. "A trillion lives could be saved by providing those people with the care and food they need as easily as it could be by claiming victory in battle. Is there a difference between the methods used?" Zak asked Master Grimm more directly. "Are you claiming that a Jedi who chooses to carry one of these burdens is somehow a coward or unworthy because of it?"
"Thank you! I like your horns!" Maura whispered excitedly back to @Lucifrey Sol. "I wish I had horns. They're so cool." She seemed completely oblivious to the tiefling's shy demeanor as she was much more concerned with her cool appearance.
The other padawan was pretty much the last thing Maura paid attention to for a while. She did her best, to her credit, but eventually the girl's attentive, perked-up ears relaxed back, and her eyes glazed over. Dogmatic, zealous beliefs? Reestablishing ties? Enroaching on freedoms? Resistance this, resistance that? Nah, her mind tapped out of that quicker than a runyip in a stampede.
"I wonder when they will release new levels?" Maura wondered in regards to one of several games on the datapad in her pocket. The padwan clasped both of her hands together in front of her, fighting the urge to slip the device out of her pocket and start tap-tapping away. "What would I look like with horns?" Her black eyes floated back over to Lucifrey as the tiefling spoke, but she wasn't hearing anything the girl was saying. Instead, she was imagining herself with a pair of awesome blue-black horns. "I would have extra effective headbutts if I did!" Man, why couldn't she have horns?
Then someone addressed her specifically, and Maura snapped out of her daydreaming without any clue about what was being asked of her.
"Uhh..." Then Master Tarrell completed his sentence and Maura had two bits more context than she had before. Which was just two bits anyway. "I think we should..."
How should they go about dealing with the Sith? Maura had no idea how to respond to stuff like that. She'd only ever spoken with a Sith once, and he hadn't exactly left the best impression. He didn't seem evil, but he definitely didn't seem good either. She didn't think he was worthy of death (even though he'd tried to kill here), but he'd joined up with the Sith even though his entire homeworld had been destroyed by them. "How could someone do that?"
"I think maybe we should just help people," she finally answered. "People don't seem to like us 'cause of the Sith, even tho they've like, blown up whole planets!" An exaggeration maybe, but her point was there. "They don't like us so much that Firrereoes join the Sith even though they killed the whole planet!" She absolutely butchered the species' name. "Master Voran told me that being a Jedi is more than just the Force and fighting. If we fight the Sith all the time, we can't help people as much, and I think helping people is more important."
Maura grew silent while Master La spoke. She hoped her answer was in lieu with what Master Tarrell had asked because she had definitely not been paying attention before any of this. Her chest did puff out a bit when the other councilor gestured toward her in regards to Onderon.
"I think that our purpose isn't to fight the Sith. I mean, we do fight the Sith, but I dunno if the Jedi were founded to fight the Sith. I think that when people think of Jedi they shouldn't think about the Sith too. They should just... think of helpers. People who will come to help whenever, not just when the Sith show up."
She got a bit off topic, but whatever. Maura liked helping people, and she hated when people didn't want help because she was a Jedi.
For a time, he is silent, listening to the words that spat tension into the humid atmosphere. Dark eyes are unblinking and cool, as the Nautolan rests within a sitting position nearby. To those who were to look at him, he would appear relaxed, like a gentle wave lapping upon the warm sands of a pearly beach. But as emotions heighten, and buzz through the air like electricity, it seemed that even the Consular was drawn from his meditation.
"We have forgotten." Quiet words. Kaal doesn't care to be heard above the crowd. If others chose to talk over him, then so be it. "We have forgotten who we are." Maura's words were exactly what Kaal was seeking. Being a Jedi was not about being a soldier. The purpose of a Jedi was not to purge it's enemies. "While we bicker over the sponsorship of extremists, people are starving. People are wounded. People are homeless. They have no hope." Just as Zakrym had been so dutiful to point out, there were many more aspects to being a Jedi than combat. To believe that combat was the only path... a path of violence. That was a road to the dark side.
"And that is what we are." The Nautolan reminds gently. He does not raise his voice, though his eyes sweep through the crowd. "We are hope. At least, that is what we should be. We are the light that glows with warmth on cold nights, providing blankets and shelter. We are the fullness of desperate bellies, when war destroys supplies and homes. We are the gentle, and guiding hand upon the backs of those who are lost, and the shoulder to cry on for those who feel forgotten. That is our purpose." Kaal offers a small smile of encouragement toward Maura.
"Sometimes, we must fight. We defend the weak, and the helpless, and the defenseless. We do not cause terror in the governments that we do not agree with, nor do we sponsor such things. We do not sow seeds of discord, nor do we seek to cause death or suffering upon those we would consider evil." Redemption had already been brought up, and Fynn had commented that, while killing was occasionally necessary, it was not an easy burden to bear, nor was it something that should be purposefully sought or taken lightly.
"Our purpose is to understand. Our existence is to offer hope. Let us not forget who we are. Let us not allow the Sith to take our light away from us." He inclines his head toward the councilors in agreement with their suggestions. "Agricorps sounds like a wonderful first step. Let us heal the wounds of this galaxy as we are meant to."
Having stopped as well on seeing Tazlen stop to respond to the padawan's claims, Syl listened patiently as one voice after another rose to speak, saying much but little at the same time.
"I have spent nights in a cold bunker," she finally spoke up after one speech too many, "with nothing but the clothes on my back to keep me warm. I assure you there was light in my heart, I was as committed to the Light that night as I am today. But it didn't keep me from almost freezing to death, neither me, nor the men and women who were fighting at my side." She let out a long sigh, releasing some of her exasperation with the breath and trying to calm herself once more. "I am sure the Galaxy would love to have us be symbols of hope, but what good is a hollow symbol that can't help them in ways that really matter."
"We need allies," she continued after a moment, "we need endorsements, we need funds. We need all that so that we can actually do something about the mess the Galaxy is in. Putting blankets on their backs, food in their bellies, we need funds to accomplish any of that. And we need it now, not some day in the future when we have found ourselves. And the resistance...the resistance is no different. The resistance needs our help, not our leadership, not our guidance, and most definitely not our permission."
She sat in mediation. The Force sprawling out around her. Answers whispering just beyond the edges of her vision. If only she could reach out and grasp them. Each time she turned for a clearer look, those answer seemed to float away. Frustration bubbled at the edges of her mind. Her own? No…another source. Alex retreated from the embrace of the Light. Standing slowly to move towards her balcony overlooking Yavin. Her eyes sought the bubbling of emotions. A growing number of Jedi were arrayed near the Temple steps. A number of familiar presences mingling together. She cocked her head. The Force suddenly slowing through her to push the strength of her senses. She saw Fynn and Zak holding court. The sounds of the conversation reaching her ears.
Alex folded her arms. Well…she had asked them to relieve some of the burden. The Morellian Jedi was uncertain this was what she had in mind. The disagreements among the Order were known and clear. They should not…could not…be ignored. But in the end, they all shared the same goal. She shook her head. This was not what she wanted. The Order tearing itself apart. Taking a deep steadying breath, she walked quickly to the lift.
She walked out of the Temple doors to look upon the assembled Jedi. “No Jedi is perfect.” Her voice carried clearly from the steps. “Me least of all.” Alex’s face remained perfectly composed. “I took a life from these very steps to defend our family. The first life I ever took…” Her gaze swept the crowd. “We are not the Empire…led by a single figure who’s will is unquestioned. Our Order survives because we are different. Each of us in our own way.” Slowly, she shook her head. “There are no perfect answers and disagreement is critical to evaluating our path…but we must do so respectfully.” Alex folded her arms across her chest. “We are all Jedi. We want what is best for the galaxy and our Order. We may not agree on the path, but I expect each of you to treat the others with equal respect. The respect you all deserve.” She would not have the Order pulled apart by bickering while they lost sight of the real goal.
“The Sith are not our allies. They are not our friends. No Jedi should treat them as such...the consequences for such foolishness remain the same. The Darkness corrupts absolutely and without question. They are, and always will be, agents of death.” Again, her eyes swept the crowd. “The Killik threat may force our hands and a ceasefire may come to pass but the war will resume. It is not over until the Empire crumbles.” She took a small step forward. “The Rebellion was a beast we allowed to be created and evolved into what we call the Resistance. A beast of which we have lost control.” She took a deep breath. “The path forward is uncertain, and we will not all agree on how to walk it but we must travel together as one or see our Order splintered.” She would die before we saw that happen.
It did not take long for the so-called peaceful discussion to descend into bickering. Edaara stayed quiet after initially introducing herself, growing sadder and sadder as the Jedi spoke and argued. She knew when coming to this meeting that it wouldn't be likely she would speak as much as the others did, if at all; she believed actions spoke louder than words. Most people here talked a big game, but she didn't know what they were like in a battle or diplomatic situation, when it really counted.
She was grateful when Grandmaster Voran walked out of the temple and stood behind the gathering. The crowd turned toward her when she started to speak. Edaara found herself nodding at Alex's words, and after a moment of silence after she finished speaking, Edaara opened her own mouth to speak for the first time. "Unity is the most important thing. If we let our uniqueness divide us, we lose our greatest strength and let down the galaxy. The Empire is sowing division among us. We must not let them succeed, and do what is right not only for the Order, but for the galaxy."
Sarella allowed a simple breath to flow through her nostrils - silently musing over everything that was being said by her colleagues. As ever, the Consular didn’t leap at the opportunity to add her voice to the choir - patiently allowing the others to make their arguments and air their grievances. There was no lack of disagreement amongst them, and it left no mystery as to why the Order had struggled to find a cohesive direction prior to this point. And it remained to be seen whether or not this impromptu gathering would end with the status quo of indecision.
A moment ticked by, and Sarella finally leaned forth - cerulean eyes flicking across the table to those gathered. “We are symbols of hope, Knight Ursoc,” Her gaze settled upon Kaal, appraising the Nautolan for a moment before she continued - melodic voice echoing through the chamber. “That is what our Order has always strived to be.” Her fingers tapped against the table, voice growing a bit firmer. “But does not mean we cannot afford to merely cling to our ideals and aspirations while the Galaxy burns down around us.”
Her gaze flicked onto Zakrym, “The contributions of the Agricorps and efforts like it will always have a place within our Order - no one here attempted to discredit it. But this is a matter of priorities - and we cannot simply rely upon Humanitarian aid and acts of good to see us through a war we have been fighting for years. More importantly, we simply don't have the resources to burn. We have been alienated by most of the Galaxy - banned from the Republic - and what support we have from the Free Worlds Alliance has been progressively wilted down and decentralized.”
“Above all else, we need allies in this conflict. Funding. Equipment. Ships. Individuals loyal to the cause.” She knitted her hands together on the table, exhaling through her nostrils. “That is what we need. That is what the Resistance - above every other avenue - can provide.”
Sarella’s pale gaze promptly flicked over to Fynn - her expression calm and measured as if carved from marble. “The Resistance will persist - and should persist - regardless of whether we approve of their methods. The men and women who serve under its banner are committed to fighting against the Empire - our common enemy. And they are not interested in whatever ‘guidance’ we have to offer. To put it plainly, the Resistance has never been our beast to control.” She said smoothly, her gaze lingering on the Sephi councilor.
“Attempting to enforce our own staunch ideals and standards upon others is precisely the type of behavior that will only alienate us further.” Her voice cut with a frigid edge that was unmistakable.
Sarella leaned back every-so-slightly from the table, posture straight against the back of her seat. “There are no easy choices ahead of us. But they are necessary if we are to survive this war and succeed against the Empire. The Resistance, is necessary."
Zak stepped backwards and to the side as Grandmaster Alexandria Voran, he listened to her in silence. She was right, the discussion here has devolved into arguments of philosophy or resource management and everything between. He was not immune to the frustration this escalation had caused and it had clouded his judgements. He took a moment to reflect upon that, acknowledging how he felt, and then simply letting it go. To find harmony with his fellow Jedi he had to put aside what he personally wanted or thought was the best route forward and be willing to compromise. This is what the Force had asked of him, and it would be what he did.
He would remain silent as both knights Edaara and Sarella spoke their peace. They were right, it was something he had already stated but right now wasn’t time for projects such as the Agricorps. Tangible aid was needed for the worlds under attack by the Killiks and reconstruction was needed for those that survived. The Order did need Allies and it did need an extensive network to operate from, both were things found in the Resistance.
With that said, there were still issues that had to be addressed. While the Jedi couldn’t expect them to conduct themselves at their level, there still had to be minimal standards met of some sort to maintain affiliation. Individual cells that wanted to maintain support had to tow a certain line, they couldn’t be utilizing the tactics of the Rebellion, terrorist attacks and execution of pows would not be tolerated. Zak made to speak on this when his eyes fell back to Master Reinhardt Grimm, the man he had vented some of his frustrations out upon.
“Before I speak on topic again,” Zak began, his eyes focused on the Paladin. “Master Grimm, I took my frustrations out upon you. I do not believe your intent was to diminish Jedi who choose another role within our Order but I let myself be guided by emotion rather than a want to understand and find unity in common ground.” He continued. “You are my brother in the Living Force and I am sorry that I wronged you.” He apologized.
“As for the Agricorps, it is not a topic I wish to discuss right now. While I do believe it can bring much good to the Galaxy, now is not the time for it’s rebirth.” He explained. “Instead, our efforts should be on three things, fighting off the Killik threat, aiding worlds impacted by their invasions, and finding allies to aid in our cause.” He continued. “I do not believe the Resistance is a malevolent or malignant force, I believe that it has been, continues to be, and can be a force of good.” Zak stated. “I also recognize that these men and women are not Jedi. But that does not mean there cannot be minimal standards applied to our alliance.” He explained. “Cells which align with our cause cannot involve themselves in terrorist style attacks, they cannot execute pows, they must act with some level of decency.” He continued. “I do not believe that this is too much to ask of our allies and I hope few among you would disagree.” He concluded.