Jun 21, 2021 11:26 AM
anakin did not have "getting adopted by a god of war" on her clone wars bingo card
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"Which unfortunately doesn't seem to be us."

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"Well, you're in luck, because I've been waging war longer than your civilization has existed."

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It's her turn to raise an eyebrow now. "Our civilization is very old," she says. 

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"Three hundred thousand years?"

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"...Not that old."

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He laughs. 

"Warfare has changed a lot over the eons, of course. But trust me when I say I have been at this a very long time."

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"As a deity," she says a bit slowly, as if tasting the words, rolling the idea around. 

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"Ares, God of War, of Courage, of the untamed wild and the field wrested by force from it, of peace through victory. Sometimes the god of brutality, and sometimes the god of treaties. And many other things; mortals enjoy piling epithets onto their gods."

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"Peace through victory and treaties both sound nice right now," she says, voice a bit wry, examining him. 

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"I won't even demand any sacrificial bulls for my help with that."

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"Then what do you demand?"

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"Let me train you. Let me see what you make of this world, when you have come fully into the power that is your right."

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She pauses, examining him, gaze heavy.  

(She doesn't think he's lying.)

"What would you teach me?" she asks. 

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"War," he says. "It's what I am. You have the air of a general - and one woefully unprepared for this role, but one who has soared to the challenge all the same."

"You have learned the movement of opponents who don't wish each other dead in a controlled, friendly, personal arena. You have seen the shock of clashing armies. You know something of diplomacy, of people. You know something of deception, though you were not taught that."

"Can you picture in your mind's eye the world you have, the world you want, and how to get between them?"

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"...The first, at least in the broad strokes. A - distant vision of the second. None of the third."

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"Mastery of war will require - will entail, inherently, at its core - all three."

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"...Obtaining goals - fixing the world - is about more than violence."

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"It is," he acknowledges. "Because only fools set their armies apart from the rest of their state. Only fools look at the shrouded path to their goals and throw swords and blood at it in a blind attack on the world. Only fools draw a neat little line around their army, and say this is an exceptional thing, a terrible thing, and we'll only use it if the alternative is more horrible yet. Only fools pretend violence doesn't even exist."

"War is about far, far more than putting one downtrodden man before another and telling them to murder each other."

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"Some would then say 'war is violent state action,' and dispute 'all state action is war.'"

Her tone's neutral, her gaze piercing.

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"Oh, I'm sorry, does your world work by magic rules where no one's ever been killed by forced work, or unregulated environmental damage, or decisions about resource allocation, or trade regulation, or burdensome taxes? What about borders? Or state appropriation of land and resources beyond taxes, I bet that's never killed anyone. And maybe even no one's been harmed by laws about what can and can't be taught, or what can and can't be published, or who can take certain careers, or how crimes are reported and handled, or how non-state actors are treated... Oh, and we can't forget states that decide their action will be 'nothing,' surely that causes no harm - "

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"...I get your point."

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"Do you?"

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She pauses and mulls his words over. "...Categories of action aren't good or evil. Results can be harmful or beneficial or neutral to people's well-being, and can hinder or advance or not really do anything for your goals, but - "

"I've been told violence against slavers is still violence. Still causes harm. But I - can't believe that it's inherently bad in a way that even balances slightly against letting them keep enslaving people. Don't unthinkingly leave enormous power vacuums, sure, and don't blunder into situations half-cocked, and don't put a ton of freed slaves on a ship where they'll just starve before you hit help unless they agree death's better than slavery, but..."

"Upholding the status quo isn't a neutral action."

"Nonconsensual violence harms people. Violence on a massive scale harms a lot of people."

"But a lot of things harm people, and - states are big. Their actions inherently impact a lot of people, for better or worse, and some forms of violence can be - less harmful if done by a state than if done by private actors. Like breaking up slaver cartels."

Pause.

"And if anyone in this entire mess knows what they even want, it's news to me."

"There's nothing beneficial or good about this war, unless your one overriding and eternal goal is fucking over the galaxy. But - you're saying that's because we're bad at what you'd call war?"

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