Mace felt the entire future teetering around him as he surveyed the five members of the Council joined in solidarity at the center of the room. He cast his gaze over to Yoda, and saw the ancient Master was well-aware of the divergence of paths they were facing. He gazed out to the others, saw the set and obstinate faces of Saesee and Jocasta. Agen and Coleman did not seem to have any emotional stake in this other than the future of the Order.
"Masters, how have you come to the conclusions, to this turn in the path, that you have chosen?" Mace asked aloud, just to begin the discussion that needed to happen.
Obi-Wan stood tall, facing his long-time friend and mentor. "From the beginning of this crisis, fellow Masters, we as Jedi have been pushed and strong-armed into roles we were not meant to have. We had to collude with the enslavement of sentient beings to the Army. We have been pushed to lead a war effort on some worlds that legitimately chose independence over the continued abuses of a Republic that had forgotten its way.
"And in the midst of this, individual Jedi have, time and again, faced choices that skirted perilously close to Darkness, in the name of serving the Republic." Obi-Wan looked at all of them now, knowing the battles they had faced and seen and read reports of. "We, as a whole, have lost our way, just as Barriss Offee accused. Unlike Barriss, though, our group within the Order has sought to better learn the people we are meant to serve, and to anchor in the unity that comes from Attachment."
"In giving yourself to Attachment, you are at risk for losing rational judgment; just look at Skywalker!" Saesee rebutted.
"Skywalker," and the defense was not from Obi-Wan or even Plo, but from Kit, "has risen above more challenges than any of the rest of us, and he did it with the aid of those Attachments. After all, did any of you stop and consider the nature of the friendship the Chancellor had with him?"
Mace had been ready to step in, to stop the debate from getting personal, but then those words came out.
And he felt the Force hammering him with all of the times his suspicion of Anakin Skywalker had led to anger, to frustration, because Skywalker went one way with facts, and Mace had wanted the other. Nearby, Yoda had sat upright, ears flattening even more as he came to terms with his own past actions.
"Skywalker," Shaak offered now, "has spent much of this last year having sessions with those of us who can help him defuse the suggestions and outright manipulations the Chancellor left in his mind. And despite all of the efforts to twist him fully against the Order, his Attachments kept him firmly on our side."
"Under consideration, the issue must be. Divided, the Order cannot survive," Yoda decreed. "Working solution, find it we must! Destroy either part, the Sith would."
Yoda speaking firmly was not something to be ignored. Nor did Obi-Wan have a mind to ignore it. "Master, all we ask is understanding. Our way may not be for you, but it is what kept many of us in the Light when the Dark was too close."
Mace leaned forward on that. "When, Master Kenobi, did you first become aware of this movement within the Order?"
Obi-Wan snorted in amusement, reaching up to stroke his beard. "Master Windu, do you really need to ask?"
The shatterpoint seemed to fade in that moment, as Mace understood what his younger friend meant.
"I wish the answer to that," Agen said, calmly. "It might better help me understand and find a way to consider amendments to the way we handle such matters."
Plo stood tall, but Obi-Wan reached back, touching his hand. "I have been part of it from the beginning. Matters concerning Ahsoka Tano, and Barriss Offee's speech to us all, left me critically aware that the way we were headed was reaching a point I could not conscience without finding a new path. Master Plo had reached similar conclusions, and we have been trying to contain the issue, while looking for the proper solution.
"Only, there was a small crisis, and the fallout from it, which delayed this meeting," Obi-Wan finished. "The secrecy, Masters, was to avoid that which Master Yoda is saying. A division that leads to both sides of the debate being destroyed by the Sith."
"What is your faction expecting of the Order? This upheaval of emotions and disobedience to a prime tenet of what we hold as true is very disturbing," Coleman said after a few moments of silence.
"We seek to make the matter of Attachments a matter of personal choice," Stass said. "And part of this is that we will take on the alliance with the Vod'e that wish to remain, once the Senate passes the Articles of Freedom and Citizenship."
"There may still be some that wish the Corps positions that were offered to them," Shaak continued.
"There is a representative of the Vod'e awaiting the end of this portion of the meeting, to discuss their part in the association we have been framing with them," Obi-Wan continued.
The seven Masters still seated shared a series of looks and then Mace spoke, a silent victory in his own mind, as Saesee nor Jocasta pushed the issue in their particular iconoclastic way.
"There is a very real danger to Attachments. I am not unwilling to try and understand your view, Masters, but the threat is there," he began. "What can you offer in assurance that the danger will be mitigated?"
Obi-Wan met his gaze evenly. "While we will work this out in the matter of discussing the future of the Order as a whole, I will point out that lack of Attachment certainly did not protect us from the rise of the Sith. As Master Qui-Gon often pointed out to me his own Master was a man who scorned even the mildest of connections beyond professionalism with others."
His words landed on the mark, as none of those old enough to remember the cold and forbidding Dooku could refute the words.
It was, Plo decided, a minor victory of its own.