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01.13.2013 , 02:34 PM |
: Stomping Grounds, with Good/Bad Memories figuring prominently.
: Jurial’s Memory of Courscant
: Jurial, Jedi Consular (and a brief appearance by Qyzen)
Spoilers for early Consular story. Sort of.
I’ve taken a bit of liberty with Mirialan culture here. Wookiepedia suggests that Mirialan tattoos are a kind of cultural code, their meanings apparent to any other Mirialan. I prefer that each one has a personal meaning to the bearer and it might not be obvious to anyone else. Either view allows the generic interpretation that a Mirialan with a lot of tattoos has more life experience than one with fewer, though it leaves the reasons for the differences up for interpretation.
Tourists crowd the shuttle's viewports and I count myself among them. Silly, really, choosing a viewport over one of the many holofeeds from the exterior cams. Doubly so, for Coruscant is not new to me. I was a boy here. I...remember. I want to see the scars with my own eyes. Not through the sterile lens of a holocam.
I see not scars but open, festering wounds. Rents in the skin of this world not healed after a decade of time. This world, this Republic, suffers from long infection as much as a living being would. Sapping strength, losing confidence, a slow weakening of body and mind. Solutions seem so much harder. If Coruscant were a child, many would step forward to help. But Coruscant is a planet, and has neither wide eyes nor battered face to aid its cause. Why is it that millions will rejoice at the rescue of one small child, yet those same open, generous beings turn away from thousands of faceless others needing help?
Because I do remember, and the memories are not all bad.
It had been a warm day for a change. One of those early spring days when the weather has been so cold and so damp for so long that even a little sun seems like summer. Yes, Coruscant does have seasons, even if only those in the upper levels can enjoy them. Master Eamon took the whole class outside to the fountain park behind the temple. We were supposed to be studying the debates of Masters Mar-yse and Bo, but in truth there was very little study going on. It was a lovely evening in early spring, and even Jedi younglings need to play. But darkness fell on Coruscant before the shadows of night claimed the park.
The Sith came. Their Empire struck Coruscant as a military target. The Sith took the Temple for spite. For symbolism. To carve the heart from the Jedi and prove to Republic citizens their protectors were weak.
I remember suffocating. Literally and figuratively. For a very long time. I felt the lives of my fellow Jedi trapped with me. Initiates, padawans, and masters alike. Bright stars in a night sky. Slowly, one by one, the lights went out.
But I said not all memories are bad, and they aren't. I remember the rubble shifting and seeing the sun. My rescuer's head silhouetted in a halo of shining dust. He had a small beard on his chin but I am ashamed to say I remember little else. Not even his name. He handed me off to a medical team--I never saw him again. But I will always remember his joy at finding someone alive. Relief this boy in the ruin was not another corpse. Hope that finding one meant there might be still more. That he might reach them in time. Relief and joy and hope. His feelings spread among the others. Today, death had not won. The Sith had not won. The Empire had not won. They saw a future, a positive future. All from finding one mostly-crushed, very dehydrated, very hungry, yet still very much alive child.
Relief and joy and hope.
I found out much later that the Jedi Temple was a desirable assignment for the rescue crews. By the time they unearthed me it was the only place they found any trapped beings still alive. But those numbers were dwindling and soon after they abandoned the effort. There were the living to care for, more important than finding the dead. Jedi especially, one with the Force, had no families to mourn them.
Jedi are not supposed to have strong emotions. No hate, no fear, no anger. But we also banish joy, love, and delight. I will never forget my savior’s happiness at finding me; his emotions mirroring my own. I cannot say whose was stronger. According to doctrine I should not find comfort in this memory. Yet it remains one of my most treasured. Relief and joy and hope.
I had not much interest in the culture of my species before this incident, outside of a general curiosity. I understood Mirialan were a spiritual people, marking important life events with geometric tattoos. Each tattoo has personal meaning, but the artist chooses its shape, color, design and placement. I had no tattoos. I was a Force-sensitive who happened to be a Mirialan. It did not seem appropriate for me to share this tradition when I shared nothing else. After I recovered, though, I wanted to learn more. About many things, my species included. My several instructors will testify to my insatiable curiosity. I suspect I was--and am--not always an easy student.
When Master Yuon chose me as her padawan, it seemed the right time. I sought out a Mirialan artist. She asked only one question--why this moment? My answer was that it was a new beginning. She wanted no other information. Asked, specifically, that I tell her no more. She told me she would meditate on the shape and I should return the next day so she could inscribe it.
She created a pattern of diamonds for me, six in all. It is a small design. On my chin. It looks not unlike a Human facial hair arrangement called a ‘goatee’. I thought immediately of the little beard on the man who rescued me years before. She would say the ancestors showed her the design during her meditation. I would call it a vision granted by the Living Force. In that moment I understood the tradition in a way I had not before. These were not mere marks, pigment on skin, bringing to mind memories of an event or goal. It is a part of me. A piece of my life. To me, my little tattoo is a reminder of what it is to be Jedi. To follow the example of one who was not Force-sensitive as I study those who are or were. To remember that a small action may have far-reaching consequences. To persevere even in the face of so much ugliness.
I look again at the view through the portal. I see the scars on the face of Coruscant, and remember not all scars, not all marks, are visible. They are no less real for being unseen. For a moment I see my reflection in the transparasteel. My shape puts a lie to Jedi as living simply and with merely enough. I have a tiny lamp, a crystal barely glowing, but enough so I do not wake in darkness. I still have not meditated on Vokk. He was the first Sith I have encountered since the day the Temple fell, and I cannot yet disentangle the memories.
Actions have far-reaching consequences. Not all are predictable. Not all are visible.
Rebuilding Coruscant, perhaps, is like a kolto tank that repairs the body but does nothing for the soul. The buildings are only buildings. The important part of the city are the people who live and work and play and create here. Even when complete, Coruscant will not be the same as it was. Change is inevitable; only the dead do not change. My obligation as both a Jedi and as a sentient being is to ensure that change is for the better. Improves lives rather than destroying them.
Qyzen places one clawed hand on my shoulder, “We land, Herald. Yuon is waiting,” he hisses.
Yuon is waiting. One life among millions. Of course I will help. “Thank you, Qyzen,” I reply, “we should go to her.”
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