When the blackness of the dreams recedes from Callia, she’s still faced with blindness in her physical sense of sight. At her bedside, there is a presence vaguely familiar to her. The muted artificial light would show marble-striped horns and long head-tails, and a red-skinned face with pale markings: the point of a diamond between her brows, large circles around her eyes, and cheeks like a skeleton’s jaw. It’s Rakine. Who knows how long she has been quietly, patiently waiting at the human’s side.
The darkness of the waking world is discerning, especially after the dreams she’s been having. The Jedi wakes with a sharp intake of breath, taking a moment to realise this is the waking world and that her exaggerated memories and dreams of warning can’t affect her here.
It takes a few moments more for her to realise there is another presence in the room besides her. The Force is sluggish and out of sync when she reaches out with it. “Rakine.” The name is said flat, her usual calm, melodious voice sounding dead. “Where are we?”
The Togruta answers calmly, “The medical bay. This ship is taking you to Corellia, where you should have a chance to recover properly. My associates will shelter you.” In a pause, she considers the extent of Callia’s wounds again, wondering if she should be left to rest. But there’s very little time left for this conversation.
“Your associates,” Callia repeats, a touch of sarcasm warming up her tone. “You are with the rebels.” She makes the statement without malice. She takes a deep breath and tries slowly to sit up. “Please thank them for sheltering us. How are Zet, Santos and Qurzer?”
By habit, Rakine nods curtly, even though she remembers to speak up. “I had them track the shuttle on the way to Jiroch. They came to my signal while we were inside that temple.” She doesn’t sound guilty. She isn’t sorry. (Not even about stealing the shuttle, presumably.) “Zet isn’t badly injured; they say her body just needs rest. Her friend is worrying for her and I’m sure he has that duty covered.” Those smugglers have hardly had time yet to feel bitter about the confiscated ship, but Rakine knows where she would be an unwelcome intrusion. “Quzer is well, but I’ve suggested that the Selonian also take time to rest. I know you should, too — but I’m — …relieved to see you awake again. I wanted to talk to you once more.”
“I am thankful they showed up when they did,” Callia says. “Otherwise we may all be dead.” She’s so honest about it. Perhaps she can’t remember the circumstances under which they ended up on the Rebel ship because she doesn’t seem upset or offended that they took the ship. A troubled look passes over the Jedi’s face at the mention of Santos’ worry for Zet. “I’m glad they are all alright. I’m sure we’ll have lots to answer for later.” She pauses, reaching through the Force to sense why Rakine seems hesitant. “Ah, of course. What would you like to discuss.”
“I have a mission to prepare for.” Some things the Rebel will say outright. “Of course you’re in no condition to help us, this time.” There’s facts, and her observations. What she tries consciously to avoid are overly emotional word choices that might make her sound less than impartial. She’s /‘glad’/ the Jedi is awake. She wanted to talk — to say goodbye, just in case — and she has a pressing question. “But will you? Once you have your strength back, are you going to fight?”
Ah yes. The question that the Jedi should probably be expecting. Callia is silent while Rakine explains herself, taking note of her word choices compared to her emotions. She’s a Jedi, she should be expected to throw down everything and join the Rebellion, right?
“Power corrupts, absolutely.” She murmurs softly, more to herself than the other woman. A slow sigh escapes her. “Rakine…I’m not sure it’s the wisest decision at the moment. You don’t want me on your side, for plenty of reasons. Number one being that you saw what happens to those who attack the Empire for the wrong reasons. Sora was not the young Padawan I remembered. Her lust for vengeance against the Empire led her down a dark path that I’m not sure she’ll ever be able to return from. Right now, if I were to join the Rebellion…”
Rakine folds her arms, turning her face away from Callia. The closed-off posture doesn’t do anything to hide the turmoil of unmistakable disappointment. “You might try to ignore the Empire all around you, but they won’t overlook you.” She’s aware that this cold truth should be intimately familiar to the Jedi who has been hiding all her life, but there is a personal angle. “My people once tried to be neutral while a war was building all around them.”
Her eyes settle on Callia’s belongings, primarily seeking the shape of the lightsaber hilt somewhere in the tidy pile. “When it was already too late for so many others, the survivors chose a side. Even then, we wouldn’t have had the chance, if we didn’t have help.”
“Callia, you could help us. You don’t need to be a power-hungry monster like that creature in the temple. Just join us as you are. Use your sword and work with us.”
Callia’s own posture goes momentarily rigid, anger expressing itself in a subtle way before she shuts it down. She exhales slowly. “Rakine, I understand. I do. I fought in the war which you speak of when I was still a child. I watched neutral planets and bodies fall to the Separatists, I saw the desperation of the Republic and the exhausted, thinning Jedi Order before it’s extinction. So believe me when I say I understand wanting to break down the Empire’s oppressive regime.”
There is a but, of course. There is always a but. “A Jedi is not meant to be partial like we were in the Clone Wars. I remember my Master speaking of it, how it was destroying so many of us. We fought and died for a Republic that ultimately destroyed us and we were blinded to the fact that it was coming. The Dark Side oppressed everything and we weren’t aware of the consequences until it was too late. My heart still aches for those deaths. I was a hollow version of myself for a very long time after that, forsaking my birthright and ignoring the Force. It’s only now that I have started to heed it’s prompting once more.”
There is another pause as she gathers herself and her thoughts; another deep, shaky breath filled with long-buried trauma. “Jiroch has proven something more. I am not ready to run into battle and fight like I did long ago. If I did, I know now that it may not be in the noblest attentions for the greater good of a long-lost Republic like I believe. I have past hurts that I need to come to terms with. I need to let go of what happened and come to peace with it, otherwise I will be acting for the wrong reasons.”
“I cannot allow this…this quest for vengeance be the reason why I fall to the Dark Side. I do want to help the Rebellion, please believe me when I say that. Right now, though, I am still just a Padawan on her path to Knighthood and Jiroch has shown me that I still, as any Jedi Master would have told me in the past, have much to learn.”
Hearing out what Callia has to say in steady silence, the Togruta waits to be sure the speech is finished. Finally she responds by sliding her chair backward, as if preparing to stand. For now she rests hands on her knees and focuses her attention on the injured woman for a few more moments. “You think the Jedi of the past were wrong? If that’s how you feel, I won’t push to change your mind.” Her tone reflects her own resolve, not an accusation.
“The Commander already gave the order that you’ll be cared for, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about — " Despite the deep-down convictions that stir her feelings, Rakine’s presence on the surface remains the equivalent of the smooth, stilled pond. Callia’s words seem to have passed over like a breeze, leaving barely a ripple. It’s the skill of an infiltrator: expressing one reality and experiencing another. " — though I can’t promise I’ll be the only one who’s trying to recruit you. Whatever happens, I hope you find someone to watch your back." And she ends with just the /slightest/ hint of a pointed comment. Implying something?
“I think many Jedi of the past felt that they were wrong, even in the moment.” Callia replies. “Look at where it got us, after all.” She turns her head to ‘study’ Rakine, unseeing eyes focused intently on the Togruta for a time.
“I’m sure there will be others. In good time, it may play out that way. For now, this is for the best for all.” She replies. “We all have to come into our own in time, realizing just how far we are willing to go in the name of the greater good.” Rakine is not the only one who can make subtle jabs, though Callia’s voice is soft as soothing as she speaks. The dead tone from earlier has been replaced, the fire of her speech seeming to light a passion in her once more. “I hope you find your peace, Rakine. May the Force be with you.”
The Rebel, now on her feet, adjusts the set of her belt and the angle of the holster that holds her blaster pistol. Her sense of regret is genuine, although there’s no easy way to separate her concern for her cause from personal feelings toward her recent ally. "After all the effort of getting you off Jiroch alive — let’s not forget the brutal sun, those raving hunters, the beasts, the spiders, not to mention your own fallen sister… — " She’s made some attempt to be respectful, carefully describing Sora with a level of gravity reserved just for the sith. “I’d hate to see you cast adrift someday. Or worse. There’s a bounty on Jedi for anyone who decides they need the credits, don’t forget it.”
Rakine does not look upset. She doesn’t sound as if she’s making her point to be cruel. All the same, to Callia’s senses it might seem that the shadows cling to her as she departs. The water is calm, but sure enough there is a powerful current stirring something inside it. “It’s freedom we need. All of us. May the Force also be with you.”