Kryze sat and looked at the holographic form of Val Isa. She sat, legs akimbo, at the head of the room where she and Kryze had been going over her many planetary explorations. The processing of the navi-coordinates and subsequent cross referencing against modern star charts was one that often took hours to produce one of the uncharted planets Kryze and the Containment Group needed, and it was during these times that Kryze would speak to the memory of Val Isa about the Jedi Order. Now that he had been exposed to the lifestyle his father had lived, and met some of his father’s contemporaries, his curiosity to uncover more was becoming distracting. The only solace he seemed to get was when he was learning about the ways of the Jedi. In this, Val Isa’s holocron was a source of comfort, as he could discuss things with her and not let on to any of the other inhabitants of the Temple.
“I have spent much time conferring with the other Gatekeepers of the Temple, learning of the later Council members and their experiences, and many of the problems of the final Jedi Order were the same that my own Order, and indeed all the Orders in between, faced. The way of the Jedi is not easy, and there is no clear path to follow, but instead a series of trials and experiences that a Jedi will face. In light of this, guidelines are more rational a solution than a codex of laws.” Val Isa’s headtails flicked as she talked, as another species might use their hands to accentuate their words.
“At its most basic level, the Jedi Code is a set of guidelines for explaining to a Padawan what virtues to prize, and what flaws to avoid. Instructors ask their students that if they remember nothing else, to always keep these words in mind. The reason is simple; in these four lines lie the instructions for how to master the abilities of a Jedi, and navigate the trials one will face.
“Consider the first rule; ‘There is no emotion; there is peace.’ It is plainly a contrast, distinguishing the confusion of emotional considerations from the clear thinking of peaceful meditation – obviously, a valuable quality. If that peace, however, is rooted simply in being unaware of some factor that would otherwise cause a Jedi to feel an emotional reaction, then it is not so much peace as it is ignorance. This is why the Code contains the second rule; ‘There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.’ This teaches the Jedi to strive for understanding of all situations – particularly before acting – to better avoid errors in judgement. Knowing a thing well, however, can lead to one becoming engrossed in it. Engrossment leads to the clouding of the mind. To revel in this one begins to focus too tightly on their passion, and will spiral back into ignorance and emotion.
“Thus, the third rule; ‘There is no passion, there is serenity.’ Knowing a thing objectively is knowing it as the Force knows it. Still, students commonly argue that the only true objectivity is non-existence … death. For does one not affect a thing merely by observing it? This is why there is a fourth rule; ‘There is no death; there is the Force.’ The Force knows all things objectively, it is serene, and it is not swayed by emotion.
“Thus, the Jedi Code teaches that before undertaking any action, the Jedi should consider the Will of the Force. With all these other considerations aside, all that remains is the Will of the Force. Thus, when a Jedi acts in all things without Emotion, Ignorance, or Passion, then he is a Master acting in perfect accordance with the Will of the Force.
“While this seems a straightforward map to mastery of the Force, it can sometimes be frustrating to put it into practice. The galaxy has changed a great deal from the days in which the Jedi Code was first defined. Although the secret to the Code is considering it thoroughly before acting, the universe often does not afford the Jedi time to do so, forcing her to act.
“Still, a Jedi can think through a great many things in advance, so as to better prepare for when the rest of the universe is in a hurry. Over the eons since the founding of the Order, Jedi Masters have recognized that there are eight conclusions a Jedi can reach before situations are thrust upon him. A Jedi who understands these eight things will, when called upon to make a quick decision, already know the Will of the Force.”
Kryze looked at Val Isa, “I have never heard of these eight conclusions. Will you enlighten me?”
“Of course,” the image continued. “The first conclusion is that sentient species are most often fools, and so the situation presented to the Jedi is false.”
Kryze felt a sting of irritation at the accusation, then reminded himself such a reaction might only prove the point. “What do you mean people are fools?”
Val Isa smiled, "Given proper motivation, people will believe almost anything, even without the Force to manipulate them. Sentient species thrive on knowing the world around them, and they deal in absolutes. As they learn, they strive for stability, and so they assume that what they witness, experience, or encounter is truth. This ‘truth’ that they cling to is rarely the entire story, and often is created by one of two simple desires – either they wish it to be true, or they fear it to be true.
“A Jedi understands that every truth is merely seen from a single point of view, and thus the whole story is never understood. To act on the assumption that all facts are known is to act from a standpoint of ignorance. A Jedi first must unlearn what he has learned, and see all things without pretext. To look past what they have been informed is the truth, and know a thing as it is. When faced with a false situation, a Jedi must spend time carefully considering it before taking action.”
Kryze nodded, “So the first conclusion is merely that continued observation and consideration of the situation is required.”
Val Isa nodded. "Correct. The second conclusion a Jedi can take is that nothing at all needs to be done. Often, a Jedi is placed in a position that seems to need assistance in peacefully resolving, but through careful consideration, it becomes clear that the situation will resolve itself. In these cases, one must decide to take no action, for the desire to act becomes a selfish one to include oneself in events that do not need you to participate.
“The third conclusion in any situation is that of the need for rationalization. While the Jedi Order answered to the desires of the Galactic Senate, the only sovereign that a Jedi allows to rule them is reason itself. This clarity often leads a Jedi to see a situation more fully than those in the situation itself, and in certain situations, passing along this clarity is all that is required to bring events to a peaceful resolution. This is often the conclusion Jedi reach, acting as advisers and counsel to those whose responsibility it is to truly resolve the matters of the galaxy.
“The fourth conclusion is that forgiveness is required. Often, conflict occurs merely because the passions of one side interfere with the passions of the other. A Jedi must understand that passion will always rule reason, and is itself a harsh master. When one is impassioned, what may seem a simple matter to the rational mind becomes an insurmountable hurdle to the emotional one. A Jedi understands that often an opponent’s bravado is nothing more than an illusion created by their own pain and embarrassment. In these cases, the act of forgiveness can heal them of this pain, and in so doing remove them from the threatened corner they have emotionally placed them in. This is the power of forgiveness, for it can create peace out of anger far more effectively than sheer force can.
“The fifth conclusion a Jedi can reach is that it is necessary to avoid a situation to prevent making matters worse. Stealth and subterfuge are good examples of this conclusion, acts that simply bypass obstacles in order to reach a peaceful conclusion. Preventing battles by circumventing potential combatants. It is also practiced when a Jedi doesn’t speak in detail and allows a listener to assume a falsehood. Such tactics often lead to the swift resolution of a situation without further need for action, and are extremely useful.
“The sixth conclusion a Jedi can reach is an extension of avoidance; the retreat. Often, the simplest way to defuse a situation that could escalate to confrontation is simply to remove one’s presence from it. Retreat allows a Jedi to remove themselves if they are an aggravating factor, and often can lead to peaceful outcomes.
“The seventh conclusion a Jedi can arrive at is take personal control of a situation, dictating the flow of events without the approval of those around them. In extreme cases, a Jedi may be unable to convince those around them of a peaceful course of action, yet be in a position where they have the authority to invoke order through rank or doctrine. In these cases, though it should never be a first resort, a Jedi may take personal control and dictate the course of action.
“The natural escalation of the eight conclusions enables a Jedi to fluidly move through a situation from discerning the situation to acting within it, and leads to the final conclusion a Jedi can reach, once all other considerations have been made. This eight, and final, conclusion is to take immediate violent action to resolve the conflict as quickly as possible. In this instance, all other conclusions will have been explored, and one can confidently act in the most extreme manner available.”
Kryze understood, “So by the time a Jedi moves to combat, they will have already considered the other options and can be sure the Will of Force demands violence.”
Val Isa shook her head, "No, young one. A Jedi can never be sure of anything. A Jedi can be confident in their ability to resolve a conflict, and can be confident in their desire to act in accordance with the Will of the Force, but only through many long hours of meditation can a Jedi understand the Will of the Force. Rarely are we afforded such a luxury in the field, so we must strive to do so at every opportunity.
“Every Jedi should spend time meditating each day upon the Will of the Force. If one has unwittingly acted in discord with the Will of the Force, recognizing the mistake soon after might still give one time to make amends. By regularly examining one’s own motivations, a Jedi could as well be certain that she was not allowing emotion, ignorance, or passion to intrude upon her clarity. A Jedi who has no time to meditate will more easily become lost. More to the point, a Jedi who refuses to meditate may already know that her motivations are not pure, and is thus lying to herself. As a Jedi of the last Council, Master Yoda, was credited with saying; ‘The Jedi who heeds not the counsel of the Force to the Dark Side listens.’
“A Jedi’s training in the Force never ends. A wise Jedi should strive to remember that there is always something more to learn about the Force. The Force reveals itself to those who have the desire and the knowledge to see it, and heeding only the Force’s Will is much the same as looking at an elephant’s toe and saying, ‘Now I understand elephants.’ To continue to grow a Jedi should train each day.
“A Jedi’s responsibility to the Force is to be honest with himself. This does not mean that he must be forthright with everyone else, however. Many feel a Jedi should be scrupulously honest, never taking the advantage, and never withholding information. This is nonsense. From a certain point of view, a Jedi is not being dishonest if he allows people to believe what they wish to believe. A Jedi can and should offer advice to those who need it, but it is not incumbent upon the Jedi to convince anyone to follow his advice.
“In service to the Force, a Jedi may employ deception, subterfuge, misdirection, and even fraud, if he does so with a righteous aim. Although most sentient creatures have a distaste for such practices, the Force is without such emotions. Do not confuse this with ‘moral flexibility.’ A Jedi does what needs to be done, but also remember that a Jedi is not above the law.
“The most dangerous quotation ever uttered by a Jedi Master is; ‘A Jedi is not a creature of morals.’ These words have unfortunately been translated, often by Jedi, to mean that a Jedi can do no wrong. In actuality it means that Jedi are not the enforcers of morality. While Jedi can bring or restore order and justice, they cannot themselves sit in judgement of others. There are two reasons for this.
“First, the universe is a vast place, full of cultures that no one Jedi can completely understand. One famous story tells how a Jedi learned that a companion had been devoured by a cannibalistic species. When asked why the Jedi later bargained with the very same aliens for supplies, she responded, ‘Because eating the flesh of a sentient creatures is not forbidden by the Jedi Code – but to the Fadra-Shah, not eating the flesh of other sentient species is considered a sign of insanity.’ This Jedi recognized that punishing the aliens for acting according to their nature would be acting out of emotion and ignorance. Similarly, not procuring badly needed supplies would have been punishing herself out of guilt.
“The second reason is that judgement leads to vengeance, and vengeance leads to the Dark Side. This is easy to understand, though not so easy to practice. Should a known murderer be allowed to go free? Should a man intent on murder be killed? To answer either question, the Jedi must first know the Will of the Force. Neither decision can be made hastily, except where lives are threatened by inaction. Though I believe in Justice, I also understand that it is sometimes necessary for a Jedi to practice discretion. The world will live in tranquility if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left unheard. Some see this as a sign of Jedi partisanship. Others, particularly law enforcement agencies, might believe that Jedi would ignore small crimes in order to apprehend greater criminals. Obviously, neither of these is true.
“The truth is that Jedi Knights will be suffered throughout the galaxy – despite our facility with the Force. This is because we do not actively interfere with the lives of the common people. Jedi stand for order and justice, and these qualities do not begin with the misdeeds of the few. The goal of the Jedi should be to create and preserve an atmosphere in which Justice can flourish, rather than to try to create Justice herself.
“Master Yoda, a wise member of the last of the Jedi Councils, said that should the Republic ever challenge the Jedi Order’s right to exist, the support of the common citizen will see us through; ‘If fear us they do, help us they will not. If hate us they do, hunt us they will.’ While this is a great deal of comfort, sadly, we live in a galaxy where conflict is a fact of life for far too many beings for us to remain apart from it. We need not embrace conflict, however. If a Jedi ignites her lightsaber, she must be ready to take a life. If she is not so prepared, she must keep the weapon at her side. It is again Master Yoda who teaches; ‘If a weapon you show, “A warrior I am!” you say. And who is best must all other warriors know of you.’ So, to avoid unnecessary fighting, a Jedi should not advertise his skill.
“When is it necessary to fight? The Force will show a Jedi when he has no other options, and a wise Jedi trusts the Force in this regard. When fighting, is it necessary to use one’s lightsaber? The answer is no. A lightsaber is an intimidating weapon – but it is not a tool for intimidation. This is what I mean about fear … do not use a lightsaber to create fear in an opponent. Use it to end the fight as quickly as possible. If this means destroying the opponent, so be it. If a Jedi can end a fight without killing an opponent, however, so much the better. The best Jedi can avert injury altogether, with only a word.
“In the past, some Jedi have taken this to mean that they should carry a second, less deadly weapon. There is no such thing. If a weapon cannot kill, it is not truly a weapon. While a gun can let a Jedi attack at a distance, it is just as effective – and more in keeping with the Jedi Code – to use the Force instead. This is why all the greatest Jedi carry only a single lightsaber as their weapon, a tool uniquely attuned for use with the Force.”
Kryze looked to his EE-3, the blaster shining in the soft blue light of the holochamber. “I carry this weapon not because it isn’t effective, nor really to attack at range, but instead because it is expected.” He saw Val Isa raise her head and regard him curiously. “In the galaxy now, to use the Force, or to wield the lightsaber is to claim connection to the Jedi, and act against the Empire. Even those who have the weapons of the Jedi don’t use them for fear of such association. Blasters are the weapon of the age now.”
Val Isa lowered her head and shook it softly, “Is this what you think I speak of? The method of combat you choose?”
He looked up, “You did speak of the weapon choice of a Jedi.” He tilted his head confused, hair falling into his blue eyes. He never wore his helmet when in the chamber with Val Isa, it seemed … impolite. Quite against his conscious tendencies, he had taken to a manner more fitting a student than a peer when around the Gatekeeper of Val Isa’s holocron.
Val Isa held his gaze evenly, an edge to her that was as keen as any vibroblade, “I speak of combat itself, not of weapons. There is the chance for peaceful resolution in every nanosecond prior to violence. To infer at any point that combat is an option, one discards the option of peace. A Jedi seeks to maintain the cosmic balance, the harmony of the universe. In this, a Jedi must strive to exist in unison with the events around them. Act as the universe itself wills, for this is the Will of the Force. To draw a weapon before it needs to be used is to abandon this and create conflict.”
Kryze began to understand, “I see, and a fully trained Jedi, with the Force at his command, can see to the defense of his person through means other than a weapon. I saw Aesa absorb the energy from a blaster through the Force, she never even needed to deflect the shot.” He saw Val Isa nod at this and took as being on the right track, “Since a Jedi can then defend themselves even when their opponent has given into attacking them, they can also continue striving for a peaceful resolution until they are sure there is no chance of such an outcome. When that happens, it falls to them to end the conflict as directly and quickly as possible.”
Val Isa smiled, “You have learned. Excellent. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, when these things are no longer able to create peace and balance, then like the storm a Jedi must act.”
Kryze smiled at the strange statement, “Like a storm?”
Val Isa nodded, “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power, an energy field, surrounding us, penetrating us, and binding the galaxy together. Life itself creates it, makes it grow. Just as life creates it, the Force reflects it. Consider a storm, the slow building of pressure until the very air condenses and breaks into a rain. It is slow building, and can dissipate without a single raindrop should the conditions change and pressure be relieved. It can also continue to build until it unleashes a violent torrent that washes away nations. The difference between these two outcomes is determined by its interaction with the land below it, the sky around it, and materials within it.”
Kryze nodded, “A Jedi has to be the same, continuing on even while the pressure builds to see if the pressure can be relieved through a level head.”
“Correct,” the Gatekeeper applauded, “but at some point the pressure reaches a critical level. At this moment, the torrent must be unleashed, and in equal measure to the pressure built, to restore the balance. Just as a spear of lightning lasts only a fraction of a second, but can change the face of the mightiest tree, a Jedi must act quickly and decisively.”
“So a Jedi acts as a destroyer as well as a peacemaker, then?” Kryze had heard of the battle capability of Jedi, but the words of the Jedi he had found always cast them as peaceful (well, until they went mad and turned to the Dark Side at least). This comparison to a storm struck him as new.
“A Jedi acting in harmony with the Force acts in harmony with nature. Nature itself is as destructive as it is beautiful,” the holocron replied. “A mountain is sundered by the river over the years until it is worn into a plain. The black hole devours its neighbors that it might reduce them to stardust and cast them into the universe anew.”
Kryze shook his head, “So what differentiates a Jedi from their opponent. Both eventually resort to violence.”
Val Isa nodded, “That is true, but a Jedi does so in harmony with the Will of the Force, while his opponent merely enforces his own will. With consciousness comes consideration, and with consideration one has choice. The Choice is what differentiates the Jedi from his opponent. A Jedi’s opponent chooses to create violence, a Jedi chooses not to. When the choice is taken away from the Jedi, the Jedi acts to ends the violence. Much like a wild vornskyr, a Jedi doesn’t kill prey unless it is hungry or threatened, in both instances, the choice of peace has been taken from the vornskyr. Unlike the vornskyr, however, the Jedi has the opportunity to consciously understand the Will of the Force, and inso doing make the conscious choice of when they no longer have the option of peace.”
An alert on his wrist readout alerted him the final data had finished compiling, a sign it would soon be time for him to go. His days at the temple were few, now, and soon he would be back with Thrace and Kara, making good on the planetary information he was getting. With the lessons he had learned from Aesa, Rav Naraan, Suljo Warde and the Gatekeepers, his thoughts on finding his father had changed. If his father was alive, the galaxy needed him, and it fell to Kryze to find him and convince him that his self-imposed exile couldn’t last. Standing and thanking Val Isa for her wisdom, he stepped from the chamber out into the garden, placing his helmet back onto his head. He noted with solemnity that a raindrop obscured a bit of his visor, a sure sign that a storm was coming …..