Joined: 04 Mar 2012
|Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:27 pm Post subject: Tanith Rhane - The Acceptance Speech
|This is a GM posting for the PC in her game that kind of changed her life.
This isn't my character - she's played by my friend Rezantis, and she's simply the best. This is Tanith Rhane.
I have a long-running game that I've run off and on for like seven years now, partially on forums. It's set six (now five) years before the Battle of Yavin, though it became clear to the players that I wasn't planning on following canon history rigidly.
Case in point - Over the course of it, one of the characters went from a teenage swoop ganger to discover that her father was a Jedi Knight and took up his legacy. With a combination of gangster swagger and a growing sense of genuine competence and responsibly, she's become a sincere Jedi Knight and has, among other things after several years of playing it small and growing a small collection of students, all taught to hide their presence in the Force, in recent months captured a Star Destroyer and a Worldcraft (the latter along with her mother, played by another player), converted a former Jedi Padawan turned Inquisitor back from the Dark Side after enduring torture that will cripple her neurologically for years, and helped kickstart the Rebellion's unification years early, a series of actions that earned her the biggest bounty in the Galaxy. She is now, officially, the Galaxy's Most Wanted - and it's everything she ever wanted. In gratitude, she recorded an acceptance speech and had it distributed around the Galaxy.
Tanith may be the best character I've ever GMed - not because of who she is or what she does (just so much ridiculous brilliance), but how she's grown, the depth of character she's achieved, from sarcastic gunslinger to serious Jedi to sarcastic Jedi to tender, loving friend, sister, and daughter to clever, challenging teacher to her students to rabble rousing political activist to nearly-broken torture victim to forgiving (almost) martyr to crisis manager to emotionally vulnerable kid crushed with the weight of the burden of being one of the last Jedi to tempered, tested Jedi Knight. It's been a helluva journey - I can array literally impossible tasks before her and she'll find a way around it i could never think of and be hilarious in the process of saving the day. Seeking to die a martyr young and burn out bright, she managed to live by changing the script, and embraced the messiness of being a full adult with a complicated life.
The player wrote the speech, and naturally, it's brilliant. I introduced it in the post presented here, with a scene to go with it (grammar's a bit messy, this was a late night post):
Colonel Jorik Zeltin of the Imperial Security Bureau sat as calmly as he could in his seat as he pressed the key on the console before him. He folded his hands on the counter to still their trembling as the air above the pit lit up. The glow of the agitated air that formed the hologram cast eerie shadows across his audience - most of them hooded figures, though some more so than others. Only one aside from him sat, and he gazed out from his onyx throne, yellow eyes steady. One wore a pristine white uniform, his skin a deep blue and his eyes bright red, while another was a lean, reptilian man, sharp fingers steepled. Another sat in an olive green uniform, a pinched expression on his face.
A girl sat there in the image, a blond teenager of maybe seventeen or eighteen and still in the latter stages of growth, wearing a spacer's jacket and carrying a lightsaber and heavy, durasteel blaster at her side. She gave a rather insolent smile to the camera after adjusting it and sitting down.
"For those who don't know, I'm Tanith Rhane - Jedi Knight - and I'd like to tell you all how honored I am to accept the award of 'Galaxy's Most Wanted'. I really am touched by the gesture - this has been something of an ambition for me, though never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd get here before I was legally allowed to drink. It's kind of hilarious in retrospect that I'm too young to legally drink but torturing me is fine. First you do that, then you put a billion credits on a my head, I think the least you could do is acknowledge I've earned the right to drink. Those are some messed up priorities right there."
"I guess the first thing to say is that I want to use this platform to apologize to the galaxy at large for my Order's failures that led to the current situation. I think I have the right to speak for us on this one; I earned my Knighthood the hard way, thus the bounty, so since the several of us who remain agree I'm the one with the platform..."
"We frakked up."
"We weren't traitors, obviously, though I doubt many people believed that in the first place - the entire thing made no damned sense. But we fell victim to our own hubris. We saw the galaxy's safety and security as our responsibility, but we failed to see past what was placed in front of us; there were threats, and we dealt with them, and when given the choice between two paths we always took the one with less risk. The one that minimized the damage. It sounds laudable, but the very first lesson we were supposed to learn was mindfulness - being aware of our situation, the choices we make, and eventually . . . well, eventually we stopped making choices in that regard. We stopped looking at how things could be better, how they could improve, and settled for what was safe. Even that wasn't necessarily a bad thing except that we stopped making choices . That's what destroyed us, in the end."
"The list of what should or should not have happened is an argument for historians, and I'm not going to get into that argument. A great part of why the Republic remained standing is because the Order took on the responsibility of propping it up. Stopped worrying about the right thing to do and started worrying about the safe thing to do. It just made sense that way - Jedi travelling the galaxy and putting out the various fires, because damn it we were good at putting out fires - and when a calamity came, war with the CIS . . . despite the efforts of countless in the Republic military, there weren't enough of them. There wasn't enough depth in the Republic's ability to respond to a crisis. The institution couldn't stand without us, so we only had one choice. We - our entire Order - became part of the war, and part of the problem."
"At the end of the Clone Wars, the galaxy no longer looked to the Jedi as the beacons of peace and stability that they once were. We were shining symbols of the war effort, of everything that threatened people's lives and livelihoods. When Palpatine created his new order, and ended the war, he gave the galaxy what you all wanted - peace, stability, order, security. The betrayal at the end was almost a formality. Obviously pre-staged, of course - this one was decades in the planning, but the explanation of that is seperate and also not relevant to what I'm saying today. We had the best of intentions, and we let them blind us - and in the end, we failed the galaxy. The Empire was only possible because we failed you. So for that, you have my apology, and the apology of the Order as it remains."
"That may not be worth much to most of you, but it needs to be acknowledged."
"The Empire has become something other than what the Emperor made you believe he was promising you. Security; order; stability. It provides all of these things, but it exacts a harsh price. This 'Order' is prized over everything - even the well-being and happiness of the people within it. For all its' faults, the Republic at least paid lip service to the thought that well-being of its people was an absolute good. There were things wrong, but people could have higher aspirations than just being a cog in a machine. Today? Corruption is rife, propaganda is everywhere, people get taken apart by Imperial authority whether they deserve it or not - and entire star systems are occasionally crushed under the Imperial boot, by oppression or by economic disaster, and while this is very sad it's portrayed as the price of doing business."
"Whether you like it or not, it can't be ignored that these 'very sad' occurences - the trend towards oppression and misery and ruin - is accelerating."
"I believe that the Empire needs to be dismantled. This isn't because I despise the Emperor and his methods, though I obviously do. I believe that the structure that he put in place cannot be fixed from within the system. I have a lot to say on that topic, and it's beyond the scope of this speech, but if I thought it was possible to effect meaningful change through the structure that we have, I would be trying to do that."
[Ed note for the Ranorpit: she believes, rightly or wrongly, that the Emperor's secret to his success is that he's manipulating the Force itself through symbolic logic to guarantee events, and that's why he was able to destroy the Order, by forcing them into a script that cast them as a problem and causing the Force to fail them.]
"So I'm not trying to convince you to take my word for it. You shouldn't kick the table over because a teenager with a billion credit attitude problem is telling you, Jedi Knight or not. The fact that I know it's true doesn't mean that you should believe me. What I'm asking you is simple."
"If there's things you think should change - things you give a damn about, then whether you're agreeing with me or not you should make that voice heard. You shouldn't be afraid to believe in something or want things changed for the better. It could be something as simple as not liking your homeworld's regulations on concealed carry. Find something you believe is worth doing and, if nothing else, talk to people about it. Write a letter to an official. Make sure your Senator's office knows what your opinion is. Encourage other people to do it."
"You don't have to agree with me. You don't have to want the things I want. You don't have to be seditious. You can be an entirely loyal, law-abiding citizen, because what I'm asking of you isn't criminal: I want you to to believe that things can be better than this, and I want you to try."
"Do you all know the attributes of the Empire's ideal citizen? They don't want things to get better. They think the way things are is ideal. They shut the hell up, they stay sitting down, they do their jobs and they don't make noise. They are just a piece of a larger machine and that's all they want to be. They are the Stormtroopers and the TIE pilots who don't even have names anymore - just numbers and designations. The ones encouraged to see themselves as the careers, not as part of the galaxy. The ones taught not to question whatever atrocities they're ordered to perform. The perfect, interchangeable parts that make up the Imperial armed forces - the pieces that give the appearance of invulerability by making sure that the loss of one piece doesn't matter. That these people don't matter and that the loss of one is irrelevant."
"The people of the galaxy deserve better, and the Empire is making you believe that's irrelevant. That what you want doesn't matter. That what you hope for doesn't matter. That the Empire is inexorable, and implacable, and there's not a damned thing of relevance you can do. That whatever you manage to accomplish can be swept away in an instant - deserved or not. It convinces people not to aspire. But if I'm wrong, it's easy to prove me wrong. It's worthwhile proving me wrong. Find that corrupt official, find that unjust law, find those little constructions that do nothing but make people miserable and shine some light on it. Make sure the right people know, and see if things get better."
"I can see where the Empire is taking the Galaxy. So can some of you. Don't judge it by words; judge it by what it does, and what it doesn't do. Judge the Emperor by what he creates and what he doesn't. Don't hate the people who believe in it; the things they want, the things they believe in - a lot of the time they aren't bad things and they aren't bad people. The direction is only going one way, but most of the time people don't see a way to get better, or they think that the trend will reverse. It won't. The Emperor doesn't share power, and he does not care what it costs."
"The Jedi Order failed you once, and in great part it was by taking the choice of what was best and keeping it for ourselves. We were wrong - both in the assumption that we knew best, and that it was the right path for us to take. If you all want things to change from the better, then that needs to come from you, not us. But when you decide that you do, then we'll do as much as we can, same as you will - and we won't fail you a second time."
There was a distant cough. No one spoke in the room, not even to cough.
"So! Now we get to everyone's most favourite part of any acceptance speech - I get to thank the people who helped me get here."
"I'd like to thank the redhead, who I'm not going to name here because she has a family - even if we hid them already - but without whom I wouldn't have made it half as far as I have, and without who I wouldn't have made it home again. You're a rock and I appreciate everything you've done for me more than I can say."
[Ed note for Rancorpit: her girlfriend. Flew a starship into the teeth of a battle to save her]
"Thanks to my mom especially, also my dad and the rest of my family, for putting up with the things I put them through. Even if I don't always seem the most appreciative, I do love you all."
"I'd like to thank the Jedi Knight Alethia, formerly known as Inquisitor Theia, and her apprentice who I'm also not going to name because they can bite me - both for demonstrating that we really can make a different choice and be better than we are, and also for forwarding my list of infractions to the ISB so that they could be included in my bounty posting. I really appreciate you two going out of your way to see my hard work recognized; I wouldn't have laughed half as hard reading my file if you two hadn't done that. But on a more serious note, they are an example to all of you in the Imperial service that no matter how you ended up where you are, that there really is a path out of there if you can find it in yourself to want to take that step."
"I'd like to thank the Jedi Knight Telena Moravin, and I'm not telling you why but damn the Emperor is going to be pissed about it. Kind of a badass story."
[Ed note: Telena saved a number of students from the Temple during the Purge and went into cryo storage with them to hide for the last thirteen years.]
"The Doctor, because as much as I disliked your methods you gave me the tools I needed to get things done; and the Director, because it's a good lesson to remember that we don't need to agree on pretty much anything to find a reason not to kill each other."
[Ed note: a Duros scientist who created Tanith's mother, a clone, and the Kaminoan who used her and her cloned sisters as assassins. Long story that might deserve its own post.]
"I want to thank a large number of people I'm not going to name for safety reasons, but you know who you are and I know who you are. It's a hard choice you all made, but we're going to make it worthwhile."
"This might be weird, but I really want to thank COMPNOR. You guys are dedicated, loyal and stunningly ineffective. It's an appearance thing - the ones who can be seen to be individuals need to be incompetent by comparison - and besides, you haven't been through the indoctrination process. Read a stormtrooper field manual one day. In the meantime, watching you guys try to secure a perimeter never fails to put a smile on my dial - so y'all keep reaching for that rainbow."
"Then there's the rest of the Empire. I need to thank The Emperor for bestowing this honour upon me, and also for doing enough active damage to the Galaxy and the people within it that I feel sedition and rebellion is the objectively correct choice. If you were less of a reprehensible dark-sorcery addicted megalomaniac then peaceful reforms through the in-place systems might have a chance at success and I'd be morally obliged to do that instead. As much as I'd prefer it, there's also things we never would have learned that way. In an certain sense, Sheev, you're an effective teacher, so I guess I should thank you for that too. I also really appreciate that despite my age, having a billion credits on my head means people have to take me seriously. Makes me wish I'd gone public years ago."
"Next I want to thank Darth Vader, partly it would really ruin the drama if my evil nemesis wasn't taller than I am and also because that voice is amazing . I mean not to be a fangirl - you did kill my dad and most of my colleagues - but I could listen to you read the damn Naval Register."
There's a pause.
"Defenestrator," she intones, in an attempt at a deep voice.
There was a dry chuckle from somewhere. Jorik didn't dare look.
"It's full of cool words," she continues, "Anyway, you really went all the way on the vibe and I, for one, totally respect you for it."
"Then I want to thank the Inquisitorius - it's okay if you don't know who they are, the Emperor doesn't like people talking about the force sensitives he tortured into compliance - for letting me steal their Star Destroyer. I also want to thank the ISB for managing to be so disgustingly evil that the vast majority of said Star Destroyer's crew were horrified. Like these are people who work for the absolute worst arm of Imperial Intelligence that exists and you went above and beyond. Thanks, ISB. I had no idea how I was going to get away with that stunt until you did my job for me."
"And finally, I want to thank all of you listening to me. Just having a copy of this is dangerous, viewing it in most locales is stupid as hell, but apparently you give enough of a damn that you wanted to hear what I'm saying anyway. That matters more than you think it does. Whatever happens from here - people deserve better. Don't ever forget, or let other people forget, that things can get better, that eventually they will get better, and that people damned well deserve better. The Empire's greatest power lies in convincing people to believe otherwise. You don't have to do anything seditious, you don't have to do anything rash - just don't let that hope get snuffed out. That fire doesn't go out unless we let it, so keep the faith."
"And, of course, may the Force be with us all."
As the recording wound down, a chill came over Jorik as the Emperor's attention fell on him.
"As I recall, the report indicated that this had gotten out over the HoloNet. How many systems was it?"
"At least five million, my lord." Answer promptly, correctly, and without tremor. Show that you are competent, that you're worth keeping alive. You can get through this.
"Five million. One tenth of the Empire's entire settled extent."
Not a direct question. It didn't appear to be an implied one, either. He gambled on silence, which seemed to be the correct move.
"There are layers to this, my lord," the man in white said. Grand Admiral Thrawn got to speak to the Emperor without being spoken to first and not die for it instantly. "Layers that can be picked apart, processed, and used. The 'callow youth' angle is a sham, for instance - a veneer of truth, perhaps, likely something in her past, but fundamentally abandoned - this is someone who knows precisely what she's doing at every angle."
"Shame you don't have any artwork of hers to study. Perhaps I should see if I can't dig up graffiti tags from Hadrith that belong to her," the reptilian gentleman, Prince Xizor, needled. He, too, could speak out of turn, and even deflect from the topic, if it amused the Emperor. It often did.
The Emperor had a broader sense of humor than most assume.
He began to laugh. Almost a cackle, really. Something high, alien, and slow.
"Forgive me, my lord," Grand Admiral Thrawn said. "I seem to have missed the joke."
"I'm laughing, my dear admiral, because she gets it. She's gotten in on the joke that you and so many others have missed, and the only person that matters is laughing. Finally - I'd been wondering when someone would step up to play." He let a dry chuckle go and settled back. "I think the Inquisition has played its hand out with this one. My dear?" He raises a hand, and a slender robed figure moves forward, kneeling.
"Find Tanith Rhane. Bring her back alive - just her head, if you have to. I have it on good authority that it will function just fine without the rest of her and with the proper care." Silence. "Good - see to it. In this, you are as my hand. Oh, and, thank you for presenting that, Colonel. Just one thing..."
A hand is waved, and the hooded figure, who he'd lost sight of for a second, had a heavy blaster pistol pressed against his forehead.
"Please inform your superiors that I am displeased with their inability to contain this. No, no - don't get up. You're already sending the right message."
Before he could so much as open his mouth to protest, bits and pieces of what had been Colonel Jorik Zeltin sprayed across the console in the Emperor's darkened throne room.
His last thoughts before the trigger was pulled were that Tanith had been right, and that, for him at least, it no longer mattered.
"Jumping through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy."