The holo springs to life with a familiar hexagonal lotus icon. A stirring theme plays on woodwinds and strings. An EV droid stands before the camera, behind him a beautiful, inter-faith chapel. Jedi statuary, an Ithorian terrarium growing black-leafed bafforr tree seedlings, and an alter of Jou all adorn the space. The windows look out over the Morobe system, with stunning views of the planet Moroa on one side, and the hospital platform “The Grace of Jou” on the other. In an alcove, you see a pair of comfortable chairs. A coffee table between them bears a friendly sign: “The Chaplain is in.”
“Welcome, sentients! I’m onboard the Merchantates (currently in the Morobe system), standing here in the Chapel. We are about to welcome three of our resident religious leaders. Slag Laka is our Ithorian Jungle Priest, was stationed here and ordained by the Oracle when we launched. We also have two newer arrivals: Jedi Knight Rannek Sarden, our recently-installed Jedi Chaplain, and Morto Anemis, a priest of Jou who just returned from Zrak.”
The camera pans over to two robed humans flanking an Ithorian.
“Gentlemen, the three of you represent very different religious traditions. How do you get along sharing an inter-faith chapel together?”
All three inhale, ready to answer the question, but are interrupted by an emergency alarm. A high pitched Jawa voice chitters in broken basic, “Big issue! Big issue! Old people with staves come to the overpass. Very now!”
“Why does he want elderly people with canes?” Mort asks.
The Jungle priest shakes his head. “He either means ‘Experienced Force Users’ or ‘Senior staff members to the bridge.’ Either way, let’s go.”
“Looks like this just became Breaking News!” the EV droid says, gleefully. Not one to miss an interesting moment, the camera droid and EV unit follow the three sentients as they run out of the chapel, down the corridors, and ride the lift up to the bridge.
Shiv Monite, the diminutive captain of The Merchantates, can be seen with his furry feet poking out from a maintenance hatch where he is feverishly working. “Look at screen and tell me how you perspective!” he calls as they enter.
The Jedi takes a look at the scanners. “Oh dear — there’s a rogue asteroid heading right for that hospital station!”
“Can we use our tractor beams to change its trajectory?” The jungle priest asks, his translation unit not quite conveying the anxiety his double-mouths betray.
“Negative one,” chirps the Jawa from under the panel. “Ship suck beams juiced by light-zoom vroom box. Box no work. Jawa fix take more hands. Maybe shift reservoir juice can just make it, but probably crash and boom if do that.“
The two humans turn to the Jungle Priest, expectantly. “He means ‘No. The tractor beams get their power from the hyperdrive, which is shut down for repairs right now. It sounds like… I guess there’s not time to bring them back online? If we re-route the little power we have in reserve, we could just barely nudge it off course, but …” he brings up another view on the scanner. A T-6 shuttle languishes nearby, its own engines clearly in need of repair as well. “…it would absolutely careen into this shuttle.”
The chaplain stiffens. “Wait — That’s my shuttle, and my Padawan is onboard. How did it get disabled?” He pulls out his comm, “Chris. Chris! Do you hear me? You need to get to your escape pod. Abandon the shuttle — there’s an asteroid coming your way! Chris, do you copy?” There’s no response.
Rannek shakes his head. “His comms must be down as well.” Morto puts his hand on the Jedi’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry for your loss. But know that, even though he may not realize it, his sacrifice will save thousands of lives. It’s very Jedi of him, and of you, to put the greater good ahead of yourselves.”
Rannek looks shocked. “What do you mean? We’re not sending the asteroid to kill him, obviously. If he could hear us and escape, certainly — but he can’t. Throwing that asteroid at him would be murder! I cannot in good conscience intentionally cause harm to an innocent.”
Morto returns the shocked expression. “The only way to achieve a better galaxy is for us all to do as much good as we can for as many people as we can. In this case, the greatest amount of good we can do is save the many lives onboard the station. Those thousands of lives clearly outweigh one padawan. Yes, there’s a cost, but the math is clear. And I’m sure he would want to save them if he could.”
Slag muses, “Rannek, would you be as opposed to changing the asteroid’s course if it wasn’t your Padawan onboard? Jedi are supposed to be free from attachments for exactly situations like this, are they not? But it sounds like you may be letting your personal relationship color your judgement here.”
Rannek shakes his head. “It’s not an attachment that guides me, it is the Jedi Code. Our code calls us to ‘Resist your Passion, and live with serenity.’ I am not the one acting out of passion here, Morto is. Certainly, his desire to save the lives onboard the hospital station is right and good. But how can we justify saving anyone if the way to do so requires us to murder another innocent? Would we let our passion for the lives on the hospital station turn us into cold-blooded killers?”
“An interesting question.” Slag says, turning, “Morto, are you prepared to snuff out one life in order to save others?”
Morto huffs, a slight growl in his voice. “Wouldn’t failing to act would make me just as much a murderer? The real question is: are we prepared to make ourselves murderers-times-a-thousand by doing nothing for the station? I most certainly am not.”
Rannek looks distraught, but his voice is clam and even. “There are tragedies around us every day. It is not within the power of even the greatest Jedi Master to prevent them all, and this is one of those situations. Diverting the asteroid, and thereby murdering an innocent, is simply not an option, morally. That doesn’t make the collision with the trade station our fault. It just makes it a tragedy.”
A voice sighs from below the maintenance hatch, “You know, big-talk on ethicality is not reason I called alert…”
“The captain is right,” Morto insists. “Time is running out! We must act now. The weight of those thousand lives rests on our shoulders. We cannot be paralyzed by philosophical debates while lives hang in the balance. Are we going to make a better world, or through inaction make it worse?”
Rannek sighs. “I sympathize with that desire, but our duty to protect life without intentionally causing harm sometimes puts us in a place where we have to do things that may appear uncaring.”
“Surely,” Slag says, “there’s a way to ensure the preservation of all these lives while upholding the integrity of our beliefs? We all want to make the universe (and ourselves) better every day, and neither of these options seem to enable us to do that…”
The debate continues as the camera turns back to the EV droid. “There you have it folks. Crisis on the Merchantates, desperately attempting to apply moral philosophy in the Morobe system. While our clerics deliberate, please visit the Merchantates‘ proud sponsors:
“We’ll be back shortly with the dramatic conclusion of this moral dilemma…” …the droid is cut off abruptly by static, followed by a peculiar (if not original) haiku:
Sorry! Please stand by…