Travelling amongst the stars in a large metal container means that one cannot avoid another forever. Especially when the other comes seeking that one out.
It’s during one of those moments when Santos is manning the cockpit in hyperspace alone that the Jedi wanders in. Her face is devoid of it’s usual dark makeup and she’s dressed down in comfortable trousers and shirt. “Ah. Here you are,” she states. “Are you busy at the moment?”
Santos looks back briefly at Callia before focusing back on his piloting. Sure, at this point, autopilot would work fine, but it gives him an excuse to avoid the rest of the crew. Looks like it didn’t work out to well.
“You mean aside from the constant recalculations needed to keep us from flying into a star? Not really. What’s on your mind?” Stupid question. He’s been avoiding Callia since he pushed Nissa to her death. What else would be on her mind?
Callia lets out a quiet snort, one eyebrow arching up at Santos’ back. “It may have been 18 years, but I do know that autopilot can do that for you.” She sits in the copilot seat, left leg crossing over the right. “You’ve been avoiding me. It’s understandable, of course. If this relationship were reversed and the situation reversed, I would be doing the same.” She lets that hang in the air for the moment. “I just wanted to talk. I know the aftermath of what happened isn’t easy and I am worried about you.”
“Yeah. As childish as it is, I have been avoiding you.”. With a deep sigh, Santos puts the Dash on auto and turns the chair to face the JEDI.
“‘Worried about Santos’ seems to a common sentiment lately.”. He says with annoyance tinted with guilt. “Actually, I’m kinda worried too. I lost control and did something I shouldn’t have, and it could have gone real bad. But I’m still me. Until the next crisis, anyway.”
“I don’t believe it’s childish.” Callia replies. “It’s a natural instinct, to want to avoid confrontation or what might be perceived as disappointment from a peer. I am not disappointed, though.”
She sighs. “I know you don’t want your friends worrying about you, Santos, but that’s part of the packaged deal. I know the difficulty of letting your emotions sweep you away in a situation like that. It’s going to be harder for you to keep from going back to that edge, as I’m sure you are already feeling. The Dark Side will tempt you with the easy route. It will always be there, taunting. Now is the time to truly learn emotional control.”
Well, that was unexpected. Santos was certain there would be a lecture when Callia finally cornered him. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise, though. Callia’s had her own recent brush with the dark side, and it must have been worse for her, having farther to fall.
“I get that,” Santos replies somberly, “but how do you control yourself when people you care about are in danger? You saw what that woman did to Zet, right? If she was still alive she be a continued danger. A continued source of fear and anxiety.” Much like Nossk, the Admiral, hell, maybe even Medusa now that she knows about him and Callia.
“I did see what she did to Zet, yes.” Callia replies. “Disgust and anger bubbles at the surface when I think about it.”
She pauses and takes a deep breath in, then exhales slowly. “We have plenty of sources of fear and anxiety to go around, I believe. The Black Sun may be the worse of them or it may not, but it certainly isn’t the only one.” Another pause. “I have to compartmentalize, myself. I put my focus into how I’m going to protect those I care about rather than how I will destroy those who hurt them. Control is something you need to teach yourself to do and it comes with practice and time.”
“Practice, and time? I can do that.” Santos begins to sound more optimistic. “We’ll just have to find jobs to take that steer us away from the Black Suns and other threats for a while. Good jobs, jobs you would approve of.” He’s not really sure any jobs smugglers can take would get a jedi’s stamp of approval, but why let details get in the way?
“I know you can.” Callia agrees. “It may mean more meditation, which I know you despise. But I know you can do it, Santos. I will help you in any way I can, as well. We’ll both need to watch each other and make sure we don’t go down a path that will lead us all to destruction.”
She laughs softly. “We’ll find work doing what we can. I’m sure there are planets in need of food or medical supplies we can find.”
“Ugh meditation? There has to be another way!” Santos will never understand how Callia can be so enthusiastic about sitting in a dark room doing nothing. “How about I just focus on the stars in front of us, and call that meditation?”
“That would be a form of meditation, yes,” Callia smirks. “Meditation isn’t all about sitting in dark rooms and clearing your mind. It can take many forms, which I’m sure we’ve discussed before. Practicing your lightsaber kata, for example? It is one of my preferred methods of meditation.”
She pauses. “It will require more than that, as well. Meditation will be a good starting point to truly examine yourself and learn how to be at peace with everything around you in a controlled environment. You will still be tested in the rest of the world. More likely sooner rather than later, considering the lifestyle we lead.”
Finally, she leans back in the chair, staring out into the void of hyperspace flashing past them. “Do not let yourself be tempted by the Force in a way that you bend it to your will. Allow it to flow through you, to guide you.”
“I was more planning to hide the force away in a tiny mindbox and never let it out.” Santos replies, visibly uncomfortable. “But I get the feeling that won’t help matters, will it?”
Callia stays silent for a few moments, perhaps trying to wrap her mind around the idea of never letting the Force out. “I haven’t heard of anyone who has successfully done such a thing before.” She admits. “To be honest, I could not think of a reason why one would want to.”
The silence drags on longer until she sighs. “I understand that it’s hard, Santos. To have to police yourself, to have so much control on your own emotions and morality is difficult. The payoff is worth it, in the end. The Force can be dangerous, of course, but it can also be comforting. It’s all a matter of how you decide to use it.”
“Yeah, I get it,” Santos replies with a sign of resignation, “This is pretty much why I left Csilla in the first place. I don’t want to have to control my emotions, and become a good little frozen-heart Chiss, or a hollow jedi posterchild. There must be some middle ground. It can’t be just the two extremes.”
“I’m not suggesting you become frozen-hearted…” Callia replies softly. There is a note of melancholy in her voice. “I hope you don’t see me that way, Santos.” This isn’t about her, though. She needs to remember that. “We will find a middle ground for you.”
“No, not you. I know better than that.” Santos has certainly seen the extend of Callia’s emotions. “But the jedi did have a certain reputation, in recent history anyway.” He stands up, stretching his legs as much as possible in the cramped cockpit, then turns his chair to lean on it, crossing his arms on the back. “I believe we’ll figure this out too, for all my flaws, I am an optimist. I need to keep telling my self that if everyone is standing, and in one piece, that is all that matters.”
“Yes, I suppose they did. Even that was blown out of proportion. We’re all living beings, after all. No one is perfect.” She smiles. “I think standing and being in one piece is a good place to start. We are doing better than many in the galaxy.” She stands up herself and makes to leave. “We’ll get there, Santos. It’s just a matter of…figuring it out.” She pauses. “But if you do feel yourself slipping or the urge to do something drastic, please let me know. I will help you in any way I can.”
“I will, Callia.” Santos concedes, almost under his breath, “if I know, anyway.” A bit louder, “my plan is still avoidance. If not of using the force, then of violent situations. Maybe we can go from planet to planet rescuing loth-cats from trees or something?” Not much profit in that, surely, but at least it would keep him in the grey.
“I think avoidance of violent situations is always a good choice,” Callia says. “I certainly don’t seek out those situations. They just seem to come to us of their own volition.” She chuckles. “Well, loth-cats are mostly on Lothal, from what I understand. I suppose we could just travel the planet rescuing them from trees. Perhaps we should find some reputable sources of cargo to transport.”
The Chiss stares out at the stars for a moment, doubting that he knows any ‘reputable sources.’ “Does Nebula count? He’d probably jump at the chance to work with you. Maybe he could give us a supply run. Something to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”
“Yes, I know he would jump at the chance. I believe I may owe him a favor soon enough, especially if I keep bringing strays to his step.” Callia’s wry grin is accompanied by a glance toward the rest of the ship where somewhere Ashur is asleep. “I’m sure Nebula has work we can do for him. I’m more concerned that it would be of a more confrontational nature.”
“He doesn’t seem to lack people willing to blow stuff up for him.” Santos’ experiences with Rakine suggest they are all to capable of confrontation in their own right. “And I’m not inclined to believe he’d risk one of the only surviving Jedi on a direct assault. We’re smugglers, and he knows it. If he’s smart enough to command the rebellion, he’d better be smart enough to trust our strengths.”
“That is true.” Callia replies. “He also knows the strengths and skills of a Jedi, even if I was never fully trained as one. We will see what sort of work he has to offer us.” She brushes her fingers along one of the panels, eyeing the readouts. “I should check on our guest, see how he is holding out. Perhaps we can open that holocron we discovered.”
“Alright. I’ll stay here and make sure we don’t die a horrible, fiery death.” Santos take the Dash off autopilot. “Let me know if you need help with that holocron. I have some experience with them.”
“You are good at doing that.” Callia grins with one final glance back at Santos. “And I will. You do have more expertise than I in that area. If I do not need your help, I will be sure to show you what’s inside, at the very least.” She smiles and then takes her leave.