The shuttle’s makeshift hangar probably isn’t the most comfortable place to get some sleep, but Santos is still feeling the lingering effects of the five stims he’d taken earlier. With the rest of the passengers on the upper deck pretending a Selonian slicer, Core World doctor, Togruta demolitionist and Jedi-in-hiding have anything in common to bond over, the Chiss climbs into the see of his speeder, and focuses on the bottle of whiskey sitting on the edge of the the speeder’s nose. He slowly holds out his right hand, ready to catch the bottle. And he waits for something to happen.
The Jedi-in-hiding is not much of small talk or even pretending to have anything in common with the others. She was thankful for the doctor’s help, glad to be out of the Stormtrooper gear and then found a quiet place to herself for a while. With it being only a half-day’s journey to the Jiroch system, there isn’t much time to dwell or prepare for what they may find there.
Meditation and being more in tune to the Force gives her a bit of an edge. She feels when Santos finally leaves Zet to the cockpit and feels when he decides to take solace away from the others. It’s the perfect opportunity. Her footfall is quiet as she makes her way into the cargo hold to see exactly what he is doing. “You must center yourself. Empty your mind and focus.”
Santos probably should have been startled, given how quiet Callia was when she approached. He wasn’t though. He had a feeling she’d find him.
“How can I do that?” He asks quietly, still focusing on the bottle? “A week ago all I had to worry about was making the creds to get my ship back. Now Zet tells me I’m on the verge of becoming a ‘baby-eating supervillain.’”
The Jedi comes closer into view, her arms folded behind her back and her posture still bogged with the day’s hurts. She has a bit of a limp in her left leg, but she’s walking it out. She snorts softly. “I think ‘baby-eating supervillain’ is a bit of a jump.”
“There is, however, a danger. Depending on your power within the Force, there could be complications. I would recommend at least learning to control the Force and what you may use it for.” She gestures to the bottle. “But that requires clearing your mind and reaching out with the Force.”
The Chiss attempts to follow instructions, closing his eyes and pushing everything out of his mind. For what seems like hours he fights the rush of thoughts flooding into the void he’s created, until the effort itself fills the empty space, and everything comes back.
“Did it move? Even a little?” He asks, hopefully. It didn’t. “What kind of complications?”. He changes the subject, hoping some understanding of the risks will help him concentrate on avoiding them.
Callia watches for that time, reaching out. “Not even a little.” She is honest, at least. “I would say maybe try when you…and I’m assuming here…haven’t drank half the bottle. I would also recommend meditating before you sleep to empty your mind out. If you’d like help, we could do a guided meditation.”
“Mostly, the Empire may be more inclined to come after you. I’m not sure what they do with their Force-Sensitive captives these days, but there was a time when they were just killed outright.” She paces in a small circle. “It is dangerous to not know your abilities, especially if someone else recognizes them as such and turns you over.”
“There is also the possibility of going down a dark path, if you are not careful. Heightened emotions can cause any Force-sensitive to react in a dangerous manner that can be ultimately deadly for not only you but also your friends.”
She pauses in her pacing, turning to face him. “I’m not telling you to become a Jedi and wield a lightsaber or any of that. We are mostly extinct for good reason. What I will ask is you at least consider learning enough to control the Force and to veil yourself from any Force users the Empire may employ.”
“Zet had a glass.” Santos responds defensively, as if that makes much of a difference. He stays quiet for a few minutes after that, digesting everything the Jedi says. It seems Zet wasn’t wrong to be concerned. He’s always acted on his emotions. How can that suddenly be deadly for him. “I don’t want to be a jedi… I don’t really think I can be.” He says at last, “but I would l like you to help me not kill the people close to me.” He manages to crack a smile, unsure if Callia will notice under this light, “and I think I could deal with a lightsaber.”
The blue giant hops off the speeder and forgets about the bottle. He sits down on the floor, clumsily attempting the position he saw Callia meditating in on the Night of the Blanket Fort. “So, what do I do?”
“Well, if Zet had a glass then that changes everything.” Callia replies, her tone lilting with sarcasm.
She releases a soft breath, a smile touching her lips. “I will do everything in my power to help you, then. We’ll see about the lightsaber, that might take more time to come to.” She moves in closer, slipping easily into the lotus position across from Santos. She sits only a few hand-spans in front of him.
“You must start, like I said earlier, by emptying yourself. Try focusing on something simple in your mind. Like the flame of a candle.”
“Alright. Something simple.” Santos repeats quietly as he closes his eyes. Callia will notice that he’s suddenly, uncharacteristically serious. If this mediation business is going to help keep him from hurting Zet or anyone else, he’s gonna master the shit out of it.
He calls up an image of the room he’s in, two speeders, Callia sitting across from him, and a candle where the whiskey once stood. He tries to focus on the candle, watching the flame flicker and dance to the gentle, almost undetectable current of the artificial atmosphere. After some time, he finds that the candle isn’t clearing out his mind effectively, and he changes scenes.
Light flakes of snow fall gently to the ground, and he can almost feel the moisture as one falls on his nose. He had almost forgotten about this place, a small hill about an hour outside of Csaplar. He used to ‘borrow’ one of his father’s landspeeders when he was nine and head here, away from the lights of the city where he could wait for the sun to go down and the stars to appear. Now, he just watches the endless snow covered plains, the sun high in the sky, gliding closer and closer to the horizon until it’s nothing more than a point, then, nothing.
His breath becomes slow and deep.
Callia can feel the tension as Santos tries to no avail. Her eyes remain open and focused upon him. This is a bit of a training exercise not only for him but her as well. But as his demeanor changes to that of one
letting go, Callia releases a soft breath. She closes her eyes and inhales.
“Now…you must open yourself up.” Her voice is smooth, a gentle breeze that blows past him. Snowflakes dance in that breeze as they glide into a new course. “Open yourself up to that feeling that is always with you. Let flow into you, through you.”
Sure enough, that Feeling is right there, all around him. With his mind empty, the Force seems a little more prominent, more real that it may have before.
Callia may notice a small, genuine smile appear on Santos’ face. Coming this far is a small victory, but a victory none the less.
He opens a hand, palm towards the sky and allows a snowflake to land dead centre. The snowflake becomes a faint warm light that stretches out towards his finger tips and then slowly spreads down his arm, through his chest, until light pours from every part of his body.
He opens his mouth to say something, but he’s not sure he has the words to describe the experience.
Once again, Callia feels the build of power in the Chiss sitting across from him. She exhales and opens her eyes again to watch him. “This is the Force.” In case he hadn’t figured that out. It’s definitely out of this world, that feeling. “Allow it to flow freely through you.”
‘Ok Force, do your thing.’ Santos thinks to himself. He doesn’t try to force anything, control anything. He simply allows himself to be present with the Force.
Good Santos. Not forcing the Force is the first step on a path toward the Light. “Reach out where that bottle is. Guide the Force as it moves through you.” Her voice is still soft like the wind. “Allow it to be your arm extending it’s reach and grab the bottle.”
Santos has to think for moment about where he really is. And where the bottle is. His focus falters for a moment as he considers the irony of Callia chiding him for drinking, then instructing him to reach out for the bottle with the force.
He regains his focus faster than he thought possible. The stims must be wearing off. Without opening his eyes he see the bottle, both on the speeder and in the snow. He extends his arm and asks the light to reach out and encompass the bottle, and watches it slowly extend beyond his form.
Grabbing the bottle and drinking the bottle are not exclusive. Callia worries for that half-second where his mind seems to wander then is surprised when he pulls back faster than she would have expected. “Just like that, yes.” She says. “Guide the Force about the bottle and back to yourself.”
The light envelopes the bottle. It plays with the liquid within, bathing Santos’ mind in waves of amber. He watches as the bottle starts to vibrate, snow flurrying out of the way.
In an instant the light begins to retract back into his arm at a blinding speed, and his eyes open as he feels a sharp pain as the bottle strikes his hand as though shot out of a bowcaster. He quickly wraps his finger around its neck as it begins to drop to the floor.
“Ah, not so fa—-” Too late. Callia winces at the speed of the bottle connecting with Santos’ hand. But hey, he did it? “Well…you catch on fast.” She smiles. “You can learn to control how to better guide the Force. For now, continue with these sorts of meditations. The first step to the Light is not to force it, but to let it happen.”
Not many people get to see this Chiss sheepish. “I just asked it to bring the bottle,” he replies quietly, with a hint of guilt.
Santos stands up, his legs uncomfortably stiff. Lotus position isn’t all that comfortable for a man his size. He offers Callia a hand getting up, unsure if she intends to remain there in solitude. “I should get back to the cockpit now. We must be nearing the planet.”
He looks at the bottle in his hand, sets it back down on the speeder and heads for the stair. “Thank you,” he says as he stops and looks back at the Jedi, “I’m not used to people trying to help me and well… thanks.” As if to let Callia know she won’t be changing everything about him, Santos bolts up the stairs, three at a time.
Callia’s eyes dance in delight. “It happens to us all when we’re still learning. I remember the mishaps that took place with the other younglings in the Temple. Imagine having a group of ten to twenty over-eager Force-sensitive children in the same place.” She laughs at the memory though a deep sadness touches her voice. Nostalgia can be dangerous.
The offered hand is taken and she lifts herself up with the Chiss’ help, just as graceful as when she sat. “Of course. I am going to check in on the others and then find a quiet place to meditate. I may join you there soon, to see if we can guide ourselves to whatever is tugging us here. Perhaps without bothering the locals too much.”
“There is no need to thank me. This is what I do. Just keep practicing the meditation and we can learn more, together, as you wish to.” When he bolts away, she shakes her head and chuckles. Sometimes, you can’t change everything and it is a truth Callia will have to accept.