((Open to Jedi characters and those who are affiliated with Jedi enough to be on Yavin. Thread takes place shortly after the invasion of Denon))
“You put in extra Glima root, right? Sliced finely so it’s easy to eat? And you kept it hot? They’ve been through a lot and need nutrients. You’re not skimping on the nerf-meat are you? I think one might be vegetarian, but I’m not sure. I suppose I could eat that one if no one bites. Veg-meat is fine. I guess. If you're an ikopi.” Vahn said, peeking under one of the several ceramic domes on the two trays laid on one of the counters of Yavin Temple’s kitchen. They were steaming acceptably.
“Vahn your commitment to the young ones is commendable, but-” An older twi’lek woman on the opposite end of the countertop replied, her hands on plump hips. Aola had worked in the mess of the temple for as long as he had memories of the temple; since his first days as a padawan in fact. Though the news of the past few days had weighed on her, she was much the same as he remembered, strong in spirit, talented in her craft. Maybe, just maybe a reminder of better days would give her a needed morale boost.
“Yea, it is, isn’t it? Please go on,” he said, cutting her off mid-sentence.
“But if you don’t get out of my kitchen right now I’m going to skewer you with a spatula.”
“But not the ladle?” Vahn asked, pointing at a soup covered ladle next to the stewing pot of vegetables.
“That’s good though, because the ladle would hurt more.”
“Cause, you know, surface area…”
The twi’lek woman reached for a nearby spatula and Vahn backed off, hands held up in surrender.
“Okay, okay! I’m leaving!” he replied, before scooping up the two trays into his arms before turning to leave the kitchen.
“Get the door please, Ralta,” the little droid tittered lowly and rolled to nudge open the two double doors
“And get some sleep, you look like the aft end of a Bantha!” Aola called after him as he exited the kitchens, carefully balancing the two trays on either arm. He paused half-way out of the door.
“I’m glad to be back, Aola. I missed you.” he replied before backing out of the kitchen. He saw a faint smile on the older twi’lek’s lips as he left.
What she said had been true. It took every trick he knew just to get off Denon alive with the handful of survivors he could muster. The days since had been full of work for him, making sure the padawans got the medical care they needed, plotting a secure path to friendly territory, and a host of other security concerns. There was also hyperspace. The hyperspace was the worst. His stomach churned at the simple memory.
Vahn passed one of the yawning hangars of the Temple, which was now far crowded than it had normally been. The dozen or so ships, including his own X-wing, and the small number of newly-ruined refugees crowded the space. A few looked up, exhaustion and anxiety still in their eyes. The fifteen or so Denon guardsmen nodded at him in recognition as he walked by.
After arrival in safe space he had also gathered detailed interviews from each of the surviving soldiers, politicians, officials, pilots, and civilians who had escaped with him. He still had days of follow-up interviews to do to get a picture of how things went down. He had saved some, but the small number still burned him. One in particular; a kid he had made a promise to. His hands tensed on the trays in frustration and he nearly stumbled over a passing old model astromech droid that beeped rudely back at him.
Vahn bit back a retort, and breathed. He had all the time in the world to beat himself up later, but now he still had a job. He’d seen what loss and regret can do to even fully trained Jedi. Master Vetan. Arias. His thoughts wandered back to those last days, and the duel on that windswept bluff on Chandar’s Folly. Back then, he had locked himself away. He had been absent for Arias’ pain and horrible things had happened. Master Vetan’s silver-white kyber crystal felt like a lead weight against his chest as it dangled from a leather thong under his robes.
He wouldn’t let that happen again. He was here. He could change things.
The bunkroom where he had left the padawans wasn’t far, and he quickened his step. While he hadn’t explicitly told any of them they had to remain; and he didn’t even have that authority, he hoped he could talk to them as a group. The four of them; the handful of Jedi survivors from Denon now had a history together. There were specifics of what had gone on that no one else could really understand no matter how well-meaning they were.
“Anyone still here?” Vahn asked, as he shouldered open the door into the room, trays laden with stew, loaves of bread and a heavy ceramic kettle with an array of stonewear cups surrounding it.[/abox]
"Damn it Sparky!" Drow Venn shouted as his combative astromech droid was busy trying to fight one of the belligerent Utai rather than help set up a tent. Reaching out through the Force, Drow pulled his R2 unit off of the Utai and offered up a small apology. Ever since he'd ventured to the AMS-ridden world of Utapau a while ago to rescue an unafflicted mining village, the room for outsiders at the Temple was already strained to capcity.
While Drow was happy the temple on Yavin could be of surface to so many, these refugees from Utapau mixed with the Gammorrean guardsmen of his own Temple Security Force plus the Pamarthan pilot force the Temple kept PLUS this new batch of refugees from Denon was really straining the temple's capacity. So, Drow had volunteered to help set up this tent city while the Order figured out what to do about all the people who were suddenly on Yavin. He had some ideas about it but those would take a backseat for now for today was a time of mourning.
Since Drow was busy performing tasks, specific details were hard to come by but it sounded as though Denon had been an absolute disaster. From what the Denon refugees had said, it sounded as though some Jedi had even perished in the wake and a sinking feeling in Drow's stomach crept in, not unlike the time after Ajan Kloss. It was ironic. Last time, he'd wondered whether his presence could have staved off more depth if he had been at the temple on Ajan Kloss. And now, here he'd been at the Temple on Yavin and was wondering if his presence could have been better applied on Denon.
He put such thoughts away. He was trying to become Battlemaster and had formed a Temple Security Force specifically because he wanted to avoid another Ajan Kloss situation. And while he was always happy to go on missions on behalf on the Order, more of his time had to be spent on Yavin while he was strengthening the defenses of the Temple.
"Sparky - play nice or go back to the Temple!" Drow orderd as he finished the adjustments on this last tent and then started hurrying back to the Temple. He wanted to be there for his fellow Jedi emotionally so he raced back as fast he could, hoping his droid wouldn't murder anyone in the meantime.
Sevrin had arrived on the scene as soon as the news came in. He stood out like a sore thumb, towering over most around him. However, this also ensured that he had direct line of sight towards those that had just arrived from Denon. It wasn’t in his nature to wallow in guilt or pity for not having been there - the only thing to do was to move on.
A few practiced strides took him directly towards Knight Berand. He paused when he spotted Drow Venn on the way.The Ishi Tib had done a tremendous amount for the Jedi, and all the elevated security systems around Yavin were all thanks to him.
“Knight Venn,” He gave a curt nod before passing through towards Vahn. He had several saber hilts clipped on his belt, and he was carrying what appeared to be training armor. He had been training padawans during the attack, having set them on a rigid course that tested them in survival and combat. The thought of padawans at the scene of battle on Denon made him bristle, but he quelled the thought.
The tall Sephi came to a stop next to Vahn, turning to gaze at him with sharp, silver eyes, “Knight Berand,” He said simply, “Is it true? News of Councilor Tionson?”
Whisperbirds swooped by outside the bunkroom's window, snatching at shredded bundles of weeds kept within a steel cage. There was little to no indication of their imminent heist due to their silent flight, other than a swoop of brown or orange or red and a rattling of the box. The steel wire rattled under the windowsill and her leg as she sat in the broad stone nook of the window.
She could feel them, though. It was something calming for her, watching each mote of life in the jungles outside, drawing them towards the temple with the slightest nudge through the Force. From forms of life as vibrant and bright as the whisperbirds sparring midair or the runyips to minute, dull embers ranging from the warrior mites and piranha beetles. Their emotions were usually less vibrant and clear as sentient ones or even those from more intelligent animals. More akin to instinctual drives, or automatic responses.
Her arm was in a sling cast, still painfully numb and heavy. It felt more like rubber, even if she knew that if she concentrated hard enough, she could make her fingertips twitch. The medical droid said that's a good sign, that nerve repair might be possible. Even so, she would be marred. Vicious red scarring up to her forearm and pale, pink synthetic skin grafts that clashed with her natural tone. It was a stupid thing for her to have done, and she knew it now just as she did then. Any other response to the attack would have been wiser, and she would have been less a fool for having done any of it. But she'd cracked. She didn't usually do that.
“Anyone still here?” Knight Berand's voice came from the door, the man wielding a tray with food. But it was followed soon by another voice. One of the other Knights she hadn't known so well. There were many on Yavin IV.
"With respect, Masters, whatever news has come out of Denon, I'm sure it's better told not in a doorway. If you both would like to come in?" Rishe said towards the two men, standing from her seat and dipping her head in a shallow bow towards the knights. She might have gone lower, but the shrapnel removal was still fresh. It turns out, Bacta did not heal all wounds. Not immediately. But for what it was worth, at least she looked like she'd recovered. New robes, keeping it together emotionally, being a proper Jedi. She'd repaired that mask with Ewok tape and stubbornly wore it again. Yet dark circles under her eyes and an exhaustion in her tone still stubbornly betray reality.
She motioned towards a low table for Vahn to hopefully set his burden down upon. "I'm here, Padawans Drastus and Felix may still be resting around the corner, however."
Vahn nodded curtly to Rishe’s suggestion and stepped into the room, pausing just long enough to hold the door open with a boot to allow Sevrin to enter without the door slamming on his face. He noted Drow's approach, and gestured for him to enter the room in afterwards. Ralta rolled ahead of him and towards a wall to plug into a charging port while he moved to set the trays onto the table Rishe had offered to him.
“I brought some food; some tea. It’s a Naboo blend, pleasantly grassy and- you probably don’t care about that right now.”
He turned towards the other Jedi, and for a featherlight moment the sheer depth of his exhaustion showed through his eyes before being smothered by a somber, but calm expression of relaxation. The veneer was thin; the strains of the past few days showing through clearly.
“Master Tionson…. Yes, it seems to be so. I didn’t realize at the time while I was in the moment but-” he sighed, scrubbing a gloved hand at the back of his neck. “I believe I sensed it. I would say it’s true. I didn’t know him…. but I can tell It’s going to be hard to fill the hole that’s been left behind.”
He scuffed his boot against the stone floor and leaned back against the table. Vahn was quiet as he retrieved a cup, and poured himself a stout glass before placing the pot back onto a tray and made a gesture to offer some to the other Jedi.
“We weren’t able to retrieve any others either. It was everything we had just to get out alive. I didn’t sense anything but… I fear the worst. They may have been too far away and I didn’t notice in the moment.” He said, before quietly sipping from his cup.
His training had been canceled as the survivors from Denon started to poor in. Jacata felt lost, unsure what to actually do but wanting to do something for the returning Jedi.
He stood in the staging area like a lost dog before someone had shoved a med bag in his hands with instructions to help those he could. With his newly given task, he set up trying to triage the wounded. He wasn't a doctor or anything, but he had received some training from the healers around the temple. He was lousy at using the Force to heal wounds, but he could apply bandages and the like.
The Padawan didn't really know what had actually happened but from what little he gleamed, it had not gone well. People had died but no one said who exactly. He wondered if any of his friends had been there. As he worked, he fell back on what he always had when he was uncomfortable, his humor. He told small jokes here and there as he helps sort and treat the more minorly wounded.
Sevrin nodded at the suggestion to step inside. The tall Sephi had to hunch over quite a bit to get through the doorway, most entryways not agreeable with him. He listened to Vahn’s answers, but he didn’t follow up with any further questions immediately. His gaze remained on the padawan girl that spoke, her voice slightly strained from the injuries she was still healing from.
“May I?” He asked quietly, his hand glowing with a slight golden hue indicating that he was versed in the arts of healing. If permitted, he would hover his hand near where the shrapnel injuries had been pulled, the Force working to soothe the area far more than bacta could. It would be a warm and comforting sensation that would extend throughout the entirety of her body. If she didn’t permit it, he would keep his distance and wouldn’t press further.
Sevrin stepped back to look over the rest of the dormitory, sharp eyes taking in sight of the beds that were laid out for the injured. He turned back to look at Vahn, his face devoid of any real emotions and his eyes cold in their silvers.
“Do not weep for the lost or what could have been,” He said, managing a faint smile, “It is fortunate that you are here to carry forward the values those that fell embodied."
One of the bowls of food floated over towards Rishke, suspended in mid air to allow her to eat from it without having to hunch over with her injuries. Sevrin maintained strict control with the Force, having little issues with continuing conversations with the others that would fill the room.
“Do we have any reason to believe our location was compromised?” He asked calmly after a moment, though there was no sense of urgency behind the tone.
It was true, she did not care much for the tea or the food. Not after these past events. Yet she poured a cup anyway. You didn't want idle hands during uncomfortable conversations. After she did, the knight approached with the offer. She gave the man a small nod and the relief of the force healing was immediate. It did more than take away the physical soreness, the sensation spreading through her was therapeutic. Calming. The padawan's shoulders relaxed, the usual tenseness of her muscles fading. "Thank you." She says.
She sat upon one of the unadorned bunks, forming a loosely triangular gathering around the table with the two knights.
"That is a passive way to say that they've all fallen, Master." Rishe replies to Vahn, her tone even, but the bitter context of the words were still present. Of course, only Sith apparently dealt in absolutes, but it would have been nice to hear some. Definitive statements, not belief. The cup was annoyingly hot against her hand, and she blew into it, delaying her further response - and the conversation, by a few golden seconds. "And... if we don't worry about what could have been, how do we improve, and prevent the same mistakes from happening again?" She poses the question to Sevrin.
Her tone was somber, but clinical when it came to the possibility of the Temple's location being compromised. Perhaps the theoretical nature of the question made it easier to tackle - the padawan clearly considering possible consequences, gathering the information she had. But when she spoke, it was far from as speculative as her brainstorming suggested. "The last I saw or felt of Tionson was him fighting outside the Capital with one of their Lords. I didn't see any of the other lost Jedi, so all of their fates are unknown to me."
She draws her lips into a line, the connotations were concerning. So it was fortunate that the bowl floated close, and as the Knights presumably picked up the conversation from where she left it, her cup floated near the bowl, matching it for precision of movement. Yet her brows furrowed, the Padawan dissatisfied with some sort of underlying technique despite what might seem like a similar effect. She tried to conceal the blatant comparison by sipping from a spoonful of soup with no visible hunger, and giving a grateful nod to Valtiere.
"Sevrin. I hope you're well." Drow said, nodding at the young man. He took a knee next to Rishe, saddened that a Padawan so young had been dealt such vicious blows. He knew it was in a Jedi's duty to sacrifice but he'd never get over how much death and injury that duty caused. Especially for the young ones. As old as Drow was, he was feeling guilty. He was old, he had done such terrible things in his past. It should have been him out there sacrificing his life and limbs, leaving the youth to enjoy the gift of life.
"Padawan Vakren, I've had training in Force Healing. With your permission, it might feel a bit better than these medical droids. No offense." Drow said, looking at the droids with that last sentence.
Vahn winced as Rishe spoke to him. It’s true, he was trying to talk around the issue. She always seemed to able to cut straight through to the root issue with him. He rubbed a hand at the side of his neck bashfully for a moment.
“You’re right, of course Rishe,” Vahn responded. He braced his hands at his sides, gripping the edges of the table. His posture was loose, sloped with barely contained exhaustion. He exhaled a breath of weary acceptance. “We’ve lost them. I’m sure of it. We shouldn’t be hedging our statements in this hour. We need to accept facts as they are.”
“And now we have to pick up the pieces. Figure out a way to move on,” Vahn hesitated, focusing his gaze on the other Jedi. “Together,” he stated, almost as a reminder to himself. He stared into his cup for a while after that. The last time he had been in this situation, he had sequestered himself into his own cell; locking himself away from everyone and everything that mattered. His failure there had lead to horrible things, and he refused to allow the same mistake to be made twice; by himself or any other Jedi he could reach.
Vahn swirled his cup around, staring into the opaque green sheen of the tea as it whirled along the edges of the ceramic. He looked up after a moment as Rishe was crowded by the fussing, healing attentions of two other Jedi. He grinned briefly to himself in amusement.
“And Rishe, please call me Vahn. None of this Master business,” he said. The girl and he had survived hell together. They'd bled together, fought together. At Denon he saw her resilience first hand. She’d kept going where others might have fallen; beaten, wounded, and demoralized, but she stayed on her feet and drove onwards. She’d earned this small respect.
He was silent then, allowing Rishe the chance to give her observations which he simply nodded towards in agreement. Sevrin's question gave him pause, and for a few moments he ran through the events of the prior few days.
"No, no I don't think there's any chance we've been discovered. I charted a course deep into friendly territory before turning back to the Temple. Even cut through a few smuggler lanes that I know of to try and make sure we weren't being pursued. We're safe here, I'm sure of it," Vahn replied to the Sephi Jedi.
Sevrin had no real expression on his face when the question was posed by the padawan. It was a fair question, and he weighed his thoughts before calmly answering, “Worrying about what could have been is creating multiple constructs of variables to adjust to what actually happened. The trouble with that is that it does not factor in unaccounted for or unexpected possibilities. The Jedi were no less nor more prepared than they could have been at the time. The only variable to be controlled is our own ability to rapidly adjust to unexpected situations,” He offered a faint smile at the young girl, “Learning to center yourself and meditating on the lessons learned is fundamentally different than worrying about what could have been. One is healthy and encouraged, the other traps one’s mind into an endless loop of missed opportunities.”
The explanation was long, but it was one worth mentioning. Many that went into battle or had suffered loss had completely lost themselves from being too entrenched in survivor’s guilt or anger at how they weren’t prepared enough. It was perhaps one of the most difficult lessons to learn as a Jedi, but it was a mental shift fostered and cultivated over time and with strict control.
Sevrin nodded at Vahn’s words, “We will remain vigilant nonetheless,” Silver gaze flicked towards his torso, “Do you carry injuries as well?” There was nothing overtly visible, but it was clear the Sephi was happy to help ease any pain he could.
"Of course, Master, but I am told the arm is not something the Force can easily repair." She replied to Venn. Though she did share the disdain towards droids - even if the Knight's own opinion on them wasn't quite as dismissive as hers. "That was from a droid, though, so it probably had a bias of its own." She said with dry tone and a momentary wry smile. Though the humor didn't hide that the smile didn't quite meet her eyes, or the flash of shame in her gaze as the extent of their worry was made clear through actions and what flashes of emotion Rishe could gather through the Force. Sevrin had been refreshingly clinical at least, for even if Vahn didn't offer his own healing, he and Venn doted and fussed in their own ways. If I was in danger, those two would willingly risk themselves - or worse.
She didn't want such things to happen again. So Sevrin's words were exceedingly timely, with Rishe hanging upon each one. "Then I'll learn, not dwell. And next time, I will be better prepared." And, she looked to Vahn. "We will be better prepared." Rishe was angry, guilty, and afraid all in one. Yet... if she succumbed or abandoned her duties in the Order, it would be just as final a failure as falling. So she controlled them, wrangled them down, put them inside the comfortable little box. Control was something she knew she had in spades.
The tone shifted to lighter matters with Vahn's request. "But you've more than earned the Knighthood." Rishe replied, sipping from the floating tea, using it to avoid complying. This was her type of insubordination. Indirect, rigid, and over something as completely inane as this. And, well, she had a different view of the master business, influenced by her deference for the Order and its traditions. There are knights and masters both who insist on respect they haven't earned. Don't earn respect and then ask for it to be hidden, Master Berand.
Though between Sevrin talking to Vahn, Venn treating her, and the topic of Denon seemingly concluded - "What is the next step?" Rishe asked, the question addressed to them all, or even the Order as a whole. "Accepting past lessons and possibilities doesn't remove the current threat."
"I agree with you there, young one." Drow said to Rishe. The Padawan was echoing a sentiment that Drow had been feeling since he'd heard the news of Denon. As much as he admired the Jedi Order and wished they could have the freedom to study the Force and do good in the galaxy without fear of attack, it seemed the Sith had other plans.
"I've been trying to build up our defenses to prepare for another Ajan Kloss. But maybe it's high time we went on the attack? I was a soldier for a long time and an army on defense can't gain any ground. But take my words with a grain of salt. I'm as stupid as they come." Drow said truthfully. He'd much prefer Masters to delegate and discuss such matters but this recent tragedy seemed to have made him a bit more talkative than normal.
Rishe’s words made Vahn look away suddenly, and he stirred self consciously, one hand balling into a tight fist with a creak of leather. The words roiled in his head, clashing with his waxing self-doubt. Had he? Or had he earned his knighthood through the stewardship of a far greater Jedi than he could ever be? Sevrin’s words distracted him from the nagging thoughts in his head
“Bumps and bruises all over; I came out in the best condition. Mostly by fleeing. The twi’lek sith took a chunk out of my leg though, and running on it for days hasn’t been kind,” Vahn gestured down to his outer thigh near the knee. A thick wrapping of oil-stained rags and what was almost certainly spacer’s tape was still wrapped about a wound which had stained through with old, rusty blood. “I didn’t dare think of using the Force to heal anyone for fear of them sensing where we were.”
“We failed at Denon because we fought with our hearts. It was true, brave, and valiant. Heroes all around worthy of remembrance for sure, but it was stu-...” Vahn paused, and took a shaking breath. His facade was cracking more than he knew and the well of emotions deep inside were spilling forth. “I apologize. It wasn’t the best way to fight a battle against a foe like the Sith.”
“I don’t think it’s a matter of attack or defense alone,” Vahn continued, gesturing towards Drow and then setting the cup of tea back down onto the table harder perhaps than he intended, sending it wobbling for a moment with a clatter.
“We can’t meet them strength against strength. The Sith will win that fight every time. We need to be smarter than they are.”
“The Jedi’s blessing, ever the spider-silk threads of seasons, forever eclipse iron-clad jailers of freedom,” he said, his gaze distant as if he were reaching deep into the recesses of his rote memory. Master Vetan had left him with this lesson. He just wished she had explained what she had meant, exactly. He shook himself out of his memories, before turning his attention back to the others.
“We need to fight, but fight better. Smarter. If we had been more organized at Denon. If I had a better…” He paused, and breathed once more. His grip was tense on the edges of the table. “If we had a better plan things would have been so very different.”
Sevrin heard Vahn out as he spoke, describing his injuries. The Sephi’s hand rose, his fingers flexing slightly as honed in on the Knight to soothe any particularly aggravating pains. Even during the exercise he could tell the man was hurt all over, and the best he could do for now was make it that much more comfortable.
The Sephi said nothing as Vahn continued to speak. He heard Vahn delve into the exact vicious loop Sevrin warned about. This was the fallacy of dwelling on the what ifs playing out in front of them. He also noted the slivers of anger coming across from the Knight. However, it wasn’t healthy to lecture him on tempering his thoughts or accosting him for how he chose to grieve. It was a difficult lesson to learn, and it was one that could only be learned through self meditation set as a self pace. There was no judgment on Sevrin's face, merely a calm resolve that remained unwavering regardless of any tension in the room.
He had also heard Drow’s suggestion of going for the offense. For now, the Sephi looked over at the untouched bowl of stew. He grabbed it and sat down next to the padawan, quite casually helping himself to the delicious food no one else was picking up.
Sevrin generally spoke when it was needed, but he mainly knew when to listen and keep his thoughts to himself.
"With respect... what example does it set for padawans if one Knight insists he's as stupid as they come, and the other downplays their contributions?" Rishe asks. Her words had started quiet, but grew with a strength as Vahn seemed to flag in resolve. She sets the empty bowl and teacup aside, sitting straight with her hand resting in her lap without a twitch or fidget. "Humility is a virtue only in moderation. And the confident input of soldiers and leaders is what the Order needs right now, is it not?"
Sevrin was quietly eating, sitting nearby Rishe. Venn was handily working to defend both Yavin IV and the burgeoning reconstruction of Ossus. And Vahn was correct about how poorly the battle was handled. Yet seeing these cracks, the vulnerability in the two more elder Jedi didn't comfort her like most forms of mutual suffering might. She knew she couldn't let those cracks show in herself. Not now, and not when she became a Knight. Sevrin's silence only spurred her onwards, since she refused to let the conversation get caught in an aimless spiral.
Of course, she lacked some of the temperance that does come from experience, and Vahn's distress did not go unnoticed. "You didn't decide the strategy on Denon. Councillor Tionson did." She said, before taking a breath. "And if I had ignored his call for aid, the bombers from the east would not have reached the generators. Perhaps the spiral of disaster that led to the defeat wouldn't have happened if I stayed."
"Yet... as Master Valtiere says, we cannot control every possibility. If we spend our defeats wallowing in pain and hypotheticals, the Sith will only grow stronger." She finished. It was an argument of necessity and time, one that spurred her on often. If those emotions could not be accepted or blunted... stuff them aside, because if you did not, worse things would happen. The process being unhealthy or not didn't matter to her, since the galaxy at large didn't care, and it was their lot to sacrifice, was it not?
So, a plan. Something that might take all of their minds off the defeat and towards something productive and long-term. Even if nothing came out of it, brainstorming was more comfortable than vulnerability. "Building the defenses at our temple is important, but would it be possible to spread our... area of control? I don't think any level of defense could protect us if the Sith come in force, so maybe it's better to fight them away from our temples." She asked of Venn. Then to Vahn, "And what exactly is included in a smarter plan? How can we start defeating the Sith without challenging them directly in our current state?"
Vahn bowed his head, nodding slightly as Rishe tore through his self-indulgence. His chest tightened, a blossom of shame swelling. She was right. The order needed leaders; leaders who weren’t constantly downplaying their reliability. He smiled after a moment. With the aided benefit of Sevrin’s healing, his posture relaxed, and he calmed himself.
“You’re already a far wiser Jedi than I am in many ways,” he said, and lifted one defensive hand. “And I’m not being needlessly humble. It’s true, Rishe,” He stood up then, crossing his arms across his chest.
“It’s true. If we had made different decisions, things would have been different. But we didn’t make different decisions, we can only learn from what we did do,” he fanned one arm out ahead of him, curling his hand gently into a fist.
“The Echani believe that you don’t truly know someone until you fight them. How they move, what their priorities are, what do they find to be their most vulnerable openings, their habits, their quirks. They’re all exposed, laid bare in those few moments of conflict,” Vahn said, relaxing his arms to his hips as he spoke. "I feel there is some truth to this idea."
“At least we know how they fight. We can prepare for this. Every strike was a killing blow or the set up for a killing blow. They target the most vital regions with the persistence of a Sabian Hound,” he explained, a still-tired glance being turned over the Jedi surrounding him..
“It isn’t just about confrontation or not confrontation. Misdirection, and weakening their ability to strike may be some of our greatest tools. For example, if they focused all of their efforts on what they thought was a vital spot, but it was actually not, we could exhaust them and funnel them into points where they waste their energy,” he continued.
“One time Master Vetan, Arias and I agreed to help a settlement that was getting hit by bandits. They produced a common, but valuable lubricating oil that was used in local industrial works. But they were being strangled because they wouldn’t pay tribute to a bandit lord. So when it came time for their next shipment, we came up with a plan," he paced in a short circuit as he spoke, gesturing curtly here and there with different words for emphasis. "We set up a decoy shipment, and burned as hot and as fast as we could to make it look like we were trying to outrun them. By the time they realized what was going on the three of us had done significant damage to them such that when they wheeled around to try and attack the settlement in vengeance the local defenses were able to mop up the trickle of exhausted bandits with little trouble. Another time-” He shook himself out of his thoughts a moment later, still frozen mid-gesture in his explanation.
“Sorry; I get carried away some times,” he explained bashfully.
"Knowing your weaknesses ain't the worst thing in the world. I can fight, I can fly, and I can use the Force. But I know my limits enough to realize that wiser beings than me should be making the decisions. I just want to do what I can to help them." Drow told Rishe, not at all ashamed.
"But I do agree that taking the fight to the Sith would probably get some results. At the very least, it'd distract them enough from even thinking of attacking us. I've spent a lot of time prepping Yavin for an invasion but I'd die a happy man if it never came." Drow told Rishe in response to the Padawan's suggestion that they spread out.
Sevrin heard everyone as they spoke, silently finding amusement in seeing the padawan put a Knight in his place. It was a curious dynamic and he was pleased to see a padawan so driven. He normally had to deal with very trigger happy or chaotic padawans that had to constantly be reeled in. The Sephi finished eating his stew, hearing a lot of dialogue around him as he tilted the bowl to drink the last bits.
“This was excellent stew,” He said after there was a moment of silence, eyes flicking up towards Vahn, “My compliments to the chef.”
The Sephi looked directly at Rishe next to him, feeling her emotions churning clear as day. He had healed her, but he wouldn’t fuss over her. She was a capable woman, just as any other Jedi in the room.
“The Sith war machine would have to be attacked at multiple weak points within its infrastructure,” He addressed her directly, “Denon was a strategic move to establish a chokepoint in a highly profitable trade lane. The Sith are spreading themselves thin in their ambition, so the strikes need to sabotage their means of effectively keeping a coordinated effort to lead their assaults.”
Sevrin exhaled slowly, looking into her eyes with the piercing silvers, “You will be upset with me for mentioning this, but as a padawan, you serve the Order best by honing your skills and finding your center to become battle ready. Part of our failure lies in our youngest members rushing in to face the enemy or our leaders taking padawans along. Not only do they endanger themselves, but they become a liability for Knights and Councilors,” Sevrin didn’t mince words, he would speak with her frankly, “The Sith generally keep their acolytes away from battle for that reason. They learn, they train, they focus and build until they are prepared. I'm going to ensure that we as Knights and above take a more active role so padawans don't feel compelled or asked to go into situations they shouldn't.”
He paused to help himself to some tea. He expected a barrage of complaints or counters, but it was clear he would be unfazed by it all. The Sephi had an air of tranquility regardless of how anyone perceived him or how much tension existed.
Answers finally came to Rishe's insistence. Vahn's strategies, Venn's humility, and Sevrin's rebuttals. What went around did come around, and the unsettling thought did rest with the padawan. Her own actions would be questioned, no matter how temperate, and if she was requesting some rationale of formality, discipline, and adherence to rules, those values would be turned upon her. And she'd be found lacking just by being on Denon.
Her arm was a testament to it. As much as she could have blamed herself for the battle going poorly, it wasn't her battle to have fought, not as she did. The rebuttals were still in her mind, but they died before she could utter them. Not quite a place or a time for it, and she would hate the idea of seeming like a hypocrite. "I'd be a poor Jedi to be upset at the truth, Master."
Having found in some part what she was looking for from the Knights, and knowing that for the moment it was the safest decision, the padawan remained quiet.