Ithor never felt like home. The Order had established a presence years ago but only recently expanded with the loss of Yavin. It just wasn’t quiet the same. Alex had called a number of Temples home over the years. Ajan Kloss, Dantooine, New Alderaan, Yavin, and even Brighthome. Those had each felt right to her. She was sure, in time, Ithor would feel the same. For now, she mostly left the running of this Temple to others. Brighthome more suited her needs or one of the Capital ships. Ithor called her only when there was a reason.
The Council Chambers overlooked an overcast sky. Rain clicking against the windows. Alex had wanted to do this early, but her schedule was cumbersome. The sun was setting and night was beginning to cover the world. Kaisa waited with her. Alex’s eyes lingering over the empty chairs. She checked her chrono. “Nearly time.” Her voice echoed in the quiet room. The two Jedi waiting for Hera. The circumstances of this gathering a far cry from their last meeting.
They’d rid a Sith from the galaxy. Now, they would take a very different step forward. Hera and Alex saw many things differently. That was one of the many reasons this was necessary. Alex breathed evenly as she slowly found her seat. Stretching her legs in the center most chair. One day all the chairs would be filled again. Slowly, they recovered from the losses on Ajan Kloss, Max, and Hans. One small step at a time.
Once Hera arrived the Grandmaster would gesture for the woman to stand before them. The room remaining silent. There was no rush for what they did here today. The moment would be properly observed.
Hera's mind moved like a whirlwind as she walked the halls of Ithor toward the temple's council chambers. She did not have fond memories of council chambers, neither from being called in front of them nor from dragging other people before them. On top of that, her recent actions had called into question her faith in herself to make good decisions. Of course, she constantly moved and acted in a manner she believed was beneficial to the Order, but Hera was not infallible.
Would her infallibility be the subject of this meeting? She could not be sure, but Hera would not falter if she was questioned about her actions. Her insecurities seemed to fall away as she entered the chambers, observing the relaxed position of the Grandmaster and the presence of Kaisa. If they were to reprimand her, would they not be standing? It relaxed Hera instantly, and she couldn't help but grin. Following the Grandmaster's direction, Hera moved towards the center of the room to stand before the pair of women.
Sighing softly, Hera removed her blackened goggles before crossing her hands behind her back. She could see easier in the overcast, dark room than she could in bright light. For that reason, she was glad their meeting was being held now, at this time, rather than at a brighter time of day. The infrared vision of Arkanians did not mesh well with the searing sunlight of most worlds, but here she could make proper eye contact with the grandmaster and councilwoman Kaisa.
Still dressed in her green armor, the Jedi Master asked, "How may I serve, Grandmaster Voran?" And crossed her hands behind her back. Her tone reflected her demeanor, kind and generally happy. To her knowledge, whatever this was could be handled simply and quickly. It was, however, terribly unfortunate that Hera walked into the room late. Roughly fifteen minutes later than she was called to arrive, though Hera didn't keep well enough track of time to even notice.
The quiet sound of ran hitting the windows had lulled Kaisa into a state of quiet contemplation. Her mind wandered to the last time she, Hera and Alex had gathered in the same room. A moment that had solidified her opinion on Hera Albion, though Kaisa hadn't realized as much at the time.
A moment that had also made her realize that the Council was severely lacking. She wouldn't name names, but one of the three had been noticeably absent in every single significant event that had occurred for some time. If Kaisa were a more antagonistic person she might even refer to him as entirely useless and undeserving of the position he held.
But now wasn't about the other Councilor, the one who wasn't here. The one who was never there.
It was about Hera Albion, the one who was always there.
She will be late. Kaisa said, a smirk creasing her lips as she shook her head in mock disappointment.
When Hera finally did arrive, Kaisa cast Alex a sideways "Told you so" glance as she nodded her head in greeting to the Jedi Master. Reaching into her pocket, Kaisa fished out a small but tastefully decorated chrono and tossed it to Hera.
A gift, She said cryptically, Kaisa's gaze levying onto Hera and somehow expressing the gravity of the meeting without her needing to explain anything. You do know how to actually tell time, yes? A joke, of course, though some people did have difficulty figuring out when Kaisa was being serious and when she was not.
Shifting her focus from Hera to Alex, Kaisa would give the Grand Master an arched eyebrow glance, the universal sign for "So are we going to get started or what?"
Kaisa's steely demeanor betrayed her tempered excitement. She only hoped Hera would not be too overwhelmed with what was about to happen.
She was late. Though Kaisa used no powers of prescience to predict it. Alex simply fished 5 credits out of her pocket and set in on the armrest of her fellow Councilor’s chair. The Grandmaster smoothing her features when the chrono flew through the air. Hera’s life was about to become more chaotic…she’d need that chrono. Alex nodded in response to Kaisa. She was getting on with it. “There is no easy way to say this.” Her echoing slightly in the nearly empty chamber. The pause growing long. “In fact, I’ve never quiet found the right words.” She hadn’t even asked Kaisa, just told her.
“That chair is yours, Hera.” She pointed to the Council chair to Kaisa’s right. “A seat on this Council.” Alex’s eyes focused hard on the red-haired woman. “Your methods can be unconventional, your personality difficult to understand…the Force knows we disagree on more than a few points…” A soft smile began to spread across her face. “But there is no Jedi who has fought harder for her students, for our Order, and for what is right than you. I have never met another with such clarity of purpose and conviction. You belong here Hera. With us.” Alex gestured for Hera to take a seat. “Now you both get to listen to me talk.” That smile broadened. On more than one occasion, Kaisa had reminded Alex of her long-winded nature.
“This Council faded for years. Lena and Tedimor tend the Temples, but rarely do they sit with us. We were but three for too long a time. I was unquestioned for a great while.” She did not regret her decisions, but they had been difficult. “At our peak these seats were all full. I hope to see that again...with Jedi who have should be here. Who will question each other and always hold the Order in their hearts. No more absentee leaders, no more empty seats with empty titles.” That mistake she would not make twice.
Hera caught the chrono as it was tossed in her direction, careful to also catch the exchange of credits between the Grandmaster and councilwoman Vanloa. She couldn't help the giggle that rippled through her face when Kaisa asked if she could tell time, realizing what had just gone down in that moment, "I can, sorry, haven't really been good with it. Another thing I must work on." At that, she put the chrono away into a pocket and reassured herself that she'd remember it was there.
Then she turned to the Grandmaster as she spoke, and Hera's face lost the smile as it twisted in confusion.“That chair is yours, Hera.” Came the words from Alex, and Hera almost spoke up to interrupt. Her concerns, however, were immediately highlighted by Alex's next few words. The two of them had disagreed on the few occasions they had even interacted, and Hera was known to be more than a little strange to be around.
But, Alex also said that Hera had conviction, she said that Hera belonged here. The words put the redheaded Master in a daze of sorts, they were words she had truly never heard before. As Alex gestured for her to sit, Hera slowly made her way over toward the chair and stood quietly above it. She looked over to the Grandmaster as she finished speaking, her face asking the question, 'Can I really sit here?' before her body moved of its own accord to sit down.
Then, as her ass hit the cushion, the emotional weight slammed into Hera like a ton of bricks. Smiling, laughing a little as well, Hera held her head in her hands for a moment to attempt to hide the joyful tears that drove themselves out of her eyes. To Hera, this didn't feel like a job promotion, it felt like being welcomed into a family. An innate sense of belonging threatened to overwhelm her, but Hera pulled herself together enough to sit up and smile.
"Thank you! I will do my best to do what is right, and help you however I can. Thank you."
She’d made thousands of decisions as Grandmaster. Even more as a Councilor. They were not all right. There was no such thing as perfection. But watching the joy on Hera’s face. The pure elation in the Force…Alex was certain she had made the right choice. This was a woman who would give all of herself to the Jedi Order. “Don’t thank me.” Alex let the small smile come. “This is your path, but it will not be easy.” Her fingers drummed on the side of her chair.
“We have overcome an avalanche of obstacles. The loss of Yavin could have destroyed us but I look around and see an Order somehow stronger than ever.” That brought a comfort she almost did not know she needed. They were well positioned for what would come next. “And yet, the galaxy is true and utter chaos. The Free Worlds remained scattered without central purpose. An ally…simply not as strong as we had hoped.” Some of their decisions lately had rankled. The bond between the Free Worlds and Jedi had once been strong. There were inner mechanisms causing problems. “The Republic is poised for collapse with the joining of Xerxes and we must not forget the Sith.” Those fingers kept drumming.
“All of this a distraction from the greater threat we face. The Killik.” For a brief shining moment, the galaxy had been united. It had not lasted and now the Killik took full advantage. “We are beset on all sides, but I feel hope.” Her turned towards Hera. “Hera, I want you to turn your focus to the Killiks. Kaisa, the Sith remain to you and the Shadows.” She inhaled sharply. “I will deal with the Republic personally.” With a nod of her head, the Grandmaster stood.
“We can do this. We will do this. Good luck my friends.” It was a lot. She knew it was. Hera was a Councilor for mere moments and she was charged with a great undertaking. That was the job.