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Thread: Shadows of the Republic: Spoils of War

  1. #1
    Remon Jore

    Shadows of the Republic Closed Shadows of the Republic: Spoils of War


    Coruscant. Dusk. Jedi Council Chamber. Reporting to the Council.
    ~ 5 days since the Battle of Geonosis.

    The dying rays of sunlight on the darkening horizon were bathing the stone floor at his feet in a haze of blood red. The crimson glare lay on his face like a second skin, but whatever warmth the waning light could still have given didn't reach him; the thick transparisteel viewscreens filtered out anything that would alter the chamber's carefully controlled climate. It somehow turned his insides cold and his mind apprehensive. So he looked into the ebbing orb and followed it on its course towards the dark, until it dipped behind the shadows of the buildings on the horizon. At the moment of its disappearance the outline changed, the shadows turned light as their own illumination came to life.

    The voices set in the same debate faded away into a mere whisper at the edge of his consciousness. The dusky tableau outside recalled in him the first time he had stood in this same spot, more than sixty years ago now. How simple and noble had his life and the way ahead felt at the age of eleven! He remembered feeling awed of standing in the presence of so many wise beings, and the deep sense of duty and dedication, of responsibility, that presence had imbued him with. A first understanding of his true purpose had settled on him like a mantle. All because he - or rather his master and he with him - had been given a task, and he had truly stepped onto the path of a Jedi.

    "Master Jore?"

    His attention abruptly returned to the here and now. He found Master Yoda looking at him with as wistful a smile as he knew his own face was wearing; the wizened grand master of the Jedi order most likely had seen right into his heart. Yoda hadn't changed over the years. He had, however, and he found - somewhat to his own shock at this realisation - that the admiration he had held for the council had somehow been washed away over the years, turned into something else. Something yet undefinable.

    "Master Yoda?" he politely returned, indicating that he was very much back in the present. He wondered what they would do with him now - make him a general and put him on the front lines in this terrible war? He was too old for that - fierfek, he felt too old for that. "The situation on Kerlssst is not without hope," he said, returning to the final analysis of the report they had briefed him on. "They, however, need to learn the finer points of diplomacy now, and I am ill-suited for that... As you well know," he added, and inclined his head towards Master Windu.

    "No more concern yourself with Kerlassi politics, Master Jore. A more suitable mission, we have, for you. Less pleasant, it may be, perhaps. But want it, you will, once you hear."

    That sounded ominous. Especially coming from Yoda, and uttered in a strange mix of pathos and amusement.

    "Yes?" was all he managed to say, then a premonition washed over him through the Force. And a second later ---

    "Jedi knight Fionn Halcyon, your padawan was once. Left the order, he has. To look for his dead love, he has gone. To Geonosis."

    Premonition or not, nothing could have prepared him for this! The shock hit him like a physical blow, and he involuntarily took a step back.

    Mace Windu took over from Yoda, who rose from his seat and hobbled over to the viewscreen and leaned against the transparisteel in an odd manner of defeat. "Halcyon defied the council by marrying and fathering a child. His wife was amongst the lives we lost on Geonosis. When he received the news, he became a victim of his emotions; he believes his wife is not dead, and left for Geonosis against our wishes. Yesterday, in the early morning hours, I received a transmission from him announcing his decision to leave the order completely."

    Yoda turned around then, and looked sorrowfully at the Corellian standing rooted to the spot in the middle of the Council chamber. "Go you must, to talk him out of this foolish notion! His wife, dead she is. Accept this, he must. Help him find this acceptance, you need."

    Remon found himself staring at the floor again, now devoid of the red haze. The shock was settling into his limbs and turning them numb. It wasn't just his former padawan's action, but also the as-yet unspoken implication that hung in the air nevertheless. Tonelessly, he finally uttered it.

    "Or he will be lost to the dark side."

    Yoda nodded. The council was silent. Nothing else needed to be said.
    Last edited by Remon Jore; Feb 18th, 2010 at 09:27:16 AM.

  2. #2

    No. Stop.

    I have no way of knowing what went through Jore's mind when he stood there and received his new orders; he never told me any of that. He never got that far. That he must have felt something at the news of his own ex-student going rogue... I'm sure he did. He wasn't as unemotional as some others like him. All this is guesswork now.

    I hope he is at peace, wherever it is that Jedi go to after death.

    Let's start this story again. At its beginning.

    At my beginning.

    You'll want to know who I am. So here's a quick summary: Cloned on Kamino, gestated in vats alongside millions of others sharing the same genes, born into a life of accelerated aging and constant fear of reconditioning. Trained by Mandalorians to become a lean, mean fighting machine. A cog in the wheel of ten thousand men like me, of commando units. Twenty years crammed into ten.
    Then came life outside the box. The first deployment, sprung on us by our new commanders: the Jedi whom we've been raised to serve. Geonosis: bugs and droids. And chaos and death for too many of us.

    It wasn't what we'd expected.

    I lost half my squad that day. Two men I'd grown up with, trained next to, for ten long years of make-believe war. Wiped out in a single day.

    I don't remember anything of the actual battle. I remember feeling exhausted and tired in its aftermath; in the grip of a terrible crushing numbness, of unbearable grief that made thinking impossible.

    Trey and I pulled field medic duty once they realised we were still up and operational. So they sent us out there, to count their dead, and retrieve whatever was left. It pulled us back from our own grief, walking amongst their dead. We weren't alone to die that day. Somehow, it was oddly comforting. And yet...

    It's funny how fate works, sometimes. If she were here now, she'd tell me that it was the Force, and not fate, which connects us all.

    But maybe she'd not say anything at all, if she'd known that I was the last one to ever lay eyes on her own mother. Or that I knew her father even before the end.

    But let me start this properly, as I already said. No story should be told from its middle onwards, or in such a disjointed way as this.

    Let me take you back to the aftermath of the Battle of Geonosis.

    Last edited by Darven; Jan 31st, 2009 at 06:18:21 PM.

  3. #3
    All the training they had received, none of it had prepared them adequately for this day. The squad had been his life - and now it was no more. Only Trey and he remained.

    It hurt more than anything he had ever felt in his life. He didn't quite know how to deal with it. Every now and then he could hear Trey swallow hard over their private channel, and he knew that his brother had tears running down his cheek, trying to fight back sobs - just like he himself.

    An odd numbness had befallen them both, once the LAAT/i gunship had dropped them off on the Implacable. They were left to their own devices. So they had followed the trickle of survivors to here, to the mess deck, where they'd been sitting ever since in a dull stupor for what already seemed a long time now.

    Shutting out the part of himself that hurt the most - like the Sarge had always said - didn't want to work. He didn't need to talk to Trey about it to know that his brother couldn't either. He wished... he didn't know what he wished for. He closed his eyes instead, let the exhaustion claim him.



    Pulled from restless sleep, he slowly opened his eyes and blinked the remaining fatigue away. A pasty-faced youth in drab brown robes stood in front of him, a curious frown etched onto his forehead. He was clutching a large datapad and seemed to have difficulties seeing past his long fair hair.

    "RC-1197 reporting, s----" he'd almost called him sir, but this lad wasn't more than a child and definitely not his superior. "What can I do for you?"

    "I require your stat --- How are you feeling?" the youth blurted out after a stuttery beginning.

    He blinked, surprised at the question. This wasn't what he'd expected to be asked. And he didn't know what - or how - to answer.

    The youth seemed to see his hesitation as a sign of having done something wrong. Red in the face, he started apologizing profusely for his directness. "I know you feel pain at your brothers' death, I just... I just... wanted to let you know that... I know how it feels!"

    He stared at the boy, bewildered; not so much at the outburst, but at the strangeness of his words. They seemed so different to his world right now, so out of place. At the same time - he felt a connection to this lad who seemed so far the only one able to embrace his emotions.

    His voice sounded raw and bleeding to his own ears, but he felt like he owed the younger man an answer. "I wish we had something to do rather than this."

    The lad nodded, and something unspoken passed between them. Inexplicably, he knew that the boy understood exactly what he had meant by it. And similarly, he held the unwavering certainty in his heart that the boy would do what he could.

    "Jedi..." Trey muttered after the boy's receeding backside. And Darven - RC-1107 - wondered whether it could be true.
    Last edited by RC-1197; Jan 31st, 2009 at 06:11:31 PM.

  4. #4
    When the boy returned a little over an hour later, Darven still hadn't made up his mind whether he really could be a Jedi or not. They had always been told that Jedi knights were detached and unemotional, and very much in control of themselves, and the lad had been anything but that. And yet here had been an oddly comforting reassurance in the boy's mannerisms, a rare source of comfort to him at this particular time. Trey, who had been the squad's resident cynic, had spent the hour making jokes about the Jedi playing mind tricks on him, but Darven knew that his brother was only doing so to escape reality.

    The boy was out of breath - it appeared he had been running, his unusually long hair looking rather wild. Now that the commando saw him up close, he noticed the thin strand braided into the boy's hair, and underneath a grey cloak were the typical roughspun Jedi robes.

    So he really was a Jedi then. Darven stood up and snapped to attention.

    "I found you!" the youth said, and beamed at him with an open and honest smile. "Would you follow me? I found something to do, if you don't mind it."

    Darven felt confused. They had been taught that Jedi were their superiors - creators, even - and a soldier must always obey them. The Jedi knights and masters were supposed to command the GAR. The Jedi were supposed to know what they were doing. Why then was this one asking him, rather than commanding?

    His confusion must have showed, somehow, even through the HUD, because the youth - who now somehow also managed to seem less young, maybe a little younger than himself - blushed, and looked bashfully down to the floor.

    "I'm not a Jedi yet, RC-1197, only a padawan."

    Ah - a learner. But even those - he would have to be a commander, at least. A Jedi padawan equaled the rank of commander, a knight that of a general, a master that of high-general. Only the Supreme Chancellor stood above those as commander-in-chief.

    He looked at the Jedi learner for some more information but the youth was silent again, watching him in return. Darven remembered he owed him an answer.

    "Told you so, di'kut. Tell him we're good to go. Anything beats sitting around like this," came Trey's voice over their private channel.

    "Yes, sir, we will come," Darven said to the Jedi.

    Behind him he heard Trey standing up with a sigh, while the Jedi before him nodded at them both, yet looking somewhat puzzled.

    "K'atini, ask him what the job's about, or have you lost your tongue?" Tray rumbled, apparently not feeling like he owed any reverence to a mere Jedi padawan.

    "K'uur," he replied, telling his brother to shut it. They'd find out sooner or later, and he was a little distracted by the Jedi's odd mannerism. He was staring at them curiously, as if trying to pierce the HUD with his eyes.

    "Did you just talk to each other?" the Jedi learner finally asked.

    "Osik!" Trey exclaimed behind him, as shocked by the Jedi's question as he was. How had the Jedi known? Could Jedi penetrate the HUD's sound proofing somehow?

    "Yes....sir," Darven finally said.

    "I thought so," the youth said, sounding happy for some reason. He met the clones' stony silence with a not-so bashful grin. "Your body language betrayed it."


    That would be something they would have to watch from now on. Apparently Jedi could pick up on something that they'd all been trained to hide from the beginning.

    "Yes... sir."

    And without another word the boy turned around, beckoned at them to follow and started walking into the direction he had come from.

    "Well... that was... interesting... Come on, let's not keep him waiting!" Trey muttered, and sprinted past him.

    Darven shrugged, and caught up with him.

  5. #5

    I'll never forget this - my first contact with a Jedi. I never knew his name, not until much later.

    Meeting him threw my view of the galaxy out of balance, because he did not at all match that image of the Jedi knights which we'd been given. But within the hour of meeting him, it got set right again by numerous encounters with his superiors, who all exactly matched our picture. It left me with no choice other than to label him as atypical.

    My innocent mind, though used to war and bloodshed that had made me, elected to put him onto a pedestal of what I thought Jedi Knights should be, and few others ever got close.

    Little did I know then that within hours, I would see the other side of the coin.


    But I digress.

    So this young Jedi learner brought us back down onto the planet of our comrades' death. His orders seemed to come from high up, for everyone of his peers who tried to stop us ended up deferring to him and letting us pass, all with that mask of serenity on their faces. Only one had I seen who seemed similarly distressed by grief as our young friend, but it was an emotion that Jedi was trying to hide as if ashamed.


    I had no idea what would await us down there. We had all heard of the casualties that the Jedi had suffered before we had arrived, but no one knew any numbers yet.

    That would be our task. To count the dead, and gather their belongings.

    Last edited by Darven; Jan 31st, 2009 at 06:18:45 PM.

  6. #6
    He had never seen so much death. Of course, there had been accidents - and even lethal accidents - during their ten-year training. There had been those who had disappeared for reconditioning. He knew that there had been thousands of clone troopers killed on this one day alone. But knowing was something else than seeing, and never had he seen such staggering numbers of the dead.

    They were moving from one crumpled body to the next, performing one last check of vital signs - uselessly, for the survivors had got up and walked away hours ago; sometimes there were merely bundles of clothes and ragtag belongings. Seeing their puzzlement, the young Jedi at their side informed them that some Jedi could vanish to the spiritual plane, their body disappearing at death. It seemed... strange.

    His mind having been so filled with his brothers' death earlier, walking among the dead did something to him.

    He had felt grief at his brothers' death, had felt their absence like a piece of himself being torn from his own flesh, an empty hole in his own private universe. Yet with every corpse he touched, he realised that there was more to it than just an absence, a hole. He hadn't seen their wasted, lifeless remains.

    Counting the dead - inspecting the dead was a harrowing job. After checking them over one last time, and recording their remains, cataloguing their belongings, entering names into the list of the fallen, they marked them for pick-up. It was work, and he was thankful for it, but...

    But. It hit too close to home. And made him see things in a new light.

    His brothers' death had been an abstract, not something of flesh and blood that was now wasted and lifeless. He hadn't seen them die, hadn't seen them as anything other than two men alive one moment, and gone the next. All this death now, it was making their death more personal, more a part of him - in a way that went beyond just feeling an absence.

    It felt like he had left them. Abandoned them, dead or not.

    Suddenly he didn't know if he could do this any more. He felt his knees shake, then buckle, and only his armor was holding him upright for a second. Something like a great wracking sob shook his entire body.

    He'd never felt this acutely. Anything.

    But before he could fall and make a fool of himself, a steadying hand came to grasp his arm, squeezing it firmly. "You okay?" came his brother's voice over their channel, unusually gentle.

    "We shouldn't just leave them here. We should go and get them and...," he started to say, and then stopped. He didn't know what they'd do with them after that; there were no rules, no regulations about what to do with dead clones.

    Trey didn't reply anything, but the pressure of his grip increased. He didn't need to reply. They always knew what the other was thinking. "Get a grip," his brother finally muttered, good-naturedly. Trey had always been bad with emotional problems, preferring to look on the light side - and remaining in control. "Go check the one at two'o'clock, let's get this over and done with so we can go home."

    Darven nodded, and tried to put it out of his mind. For now. There was nothing else they could do. No one would feel bothered about two dead clone soldiers. It was shabla hard to accept, and hurt, but... Trey was right, they had to go on. For now.

    He moved on to the next bundle of clothes - a human female was waiting for him there, her lifeless body somehow managing to look serene and calm even in death. If it wasn't for the austere and drab Jedi garb, she could have been rather attractive in life. He picked up her limp arm, and went through the motions of checking her vital signs like all the others before, wondering at the same time what "home" would be like for them from now on.

    There was a weak flutter of a pulse.
    Last edited by RC-1197; Dec 29th, 2008 at 03:03:24 PM.

  7. #7
    Berit Selkie
    Her sense of smell was the first thing that made her aware of consciousness. It had been a hard fight to keep the healing trance going; at one point she wasn't sure whether she hadn't already gone beyond. The injuries would have killed her already, but her iron will and whatever connection she had left to the Force was keeping her alive.

    Her nose was filled with a coppery smell of blood that she knew was hers, and beyond it there was the distinct stench of burnt flesh and fabric.

    The pain had not returned yet. She was in an odd state of between-worlds, one moment sensing the hot sand underneath her body, the next experiencing a sensation not unlike that of floating in nothing. As her body slipped towards full consciousness again, her senses became sharper.

    The taste of blood on her tongue. The eerie quiet around her. The weak prickling feeling in her fingertips.

    The blaster shot had burnt a hole through her upper chest, damaging lung tissue. The healing trance had done something to stabilize the damage, but the injury was too grave, and with every ragged breath she took she felt death moving closer bit by bit. Life was trickling out of her body, and she could not fight it. The healing trance had failed. It was only a matter of time.

    The Jedi relaxed her thoughts. Pain was slowly returning now, with every breath that she tried to inhale. She would not give up. She would have to try again, try harder. She could not die.


    It must have been a while later that she felt the touch of someone's fingers around her arm. She had been dreaming, or delirious, or both, for a while.

    Her baby had been there, she'd seen her. Nya was almost two, now, not really a baby anymore, but she'd always be her baby. She could still feel her, holding her little hand - it had seemed so real!


    "Nya?" she whispered, hopefully.

  8. #8

    Once again, there I go: I have no way of knowing how Berit Selkie thought, or how she experienced her last hours. I can only go by what I imagine.

    But that's the difference between a being and a droid: we are possessed of an innate intuition, an empathic understanding, or imagination, of another man's inner workings. We apply our own experiences, our own ideas and emotional filters, to this process of interpreting another being; we can never be entirely wrong because there's always something underneath that connects us. Droids can't do that. They can connect to each other, and understand the inner workings of their own, but they cannot understand what happens on the emotional level.

    Funny really, to think that so many beings saw us clones as the emotional equivalent of droids. We are probably even more empathic as some other beings.

    I've always been trying to see beyond the obvious and imagine what's happening behind the mask of the people around me. My life has been filled with events, with situations that forced me to see beyond, in order to understand and get an idea of the future. If you're on the run, there's no other option, really - you've got to stay ahead. Using your imagination is imperative, really.

    So forgive me if I take you on these excursions into other people's minds and hearts. As clone soldiers we learned to read body language, the tiniest inflections in the other's speech, and the minutest gestures, in order to survive. The average being has no idea how much can be read from that alone, and what it says about a person's feelings and thoughts. There have been men - humans - whose thoughts I could almost feel because they wore their hearts on their sleeve; and great, deep emotions can even lay open a Jedi's hidden self.

    So I took it upon me to describe these people out of their own perspective - as far their interaction with me would allow it. It would be a drab tale if mine was the only perspective in this.

    But now, let us return to the arena.

    Last edited by Darven; Dec 26th, 2008 at 04:02:07 AM.

  9. #9
    His own heart almost skipped a beat as he felt the weak pulsing beneath his thumb.

    Could it be?

    He knelt down on the ground next to the woman, and grasped her wrist with his entire hand. Pressing his index and middle finger against the spot underneath her thumb, he could feel it again: weak, but certainly there.

    Leaning forward over her belly, he watched her chest for the telling rise and fall of breathing, but there was none.

    "Breathe!" he whispered at her, willing her to do so, wondering if he should just give her the kiss of life as his instructors had taught him.

    And a second later her idle arm rose in one fluid motion, grabbed his, and pressed it. It startled him so much he cried out, and this seemed to spark something in her. A whisper left her lips.


    Who was Nya?

    Excitement bubbled up in him at seeing that she indeed lived, and that he would be able to do something for her. Activating the channel to the padawan's comm, he hailed him quickly: "Sir, I found a live one! Quick, bring a med team!"

    He didn't wait for a response but cut the line again, eager to find something he could do for this poor woman.

    She whispered out that name again, twice, three times, as he took his helmet off with his free hand, the other one holding hers. Something told him that she would prefer seeing his face rather than the cold mask of the helmet, once she would open her eyes. They were still shut now, pressed together, pressure lines creasing her forehead. But they were not still: he could see them move behind her closed eyelids.

    "Madam?" he said to her, quietly, trying to raise her attention. She didn't react - whispered Nya, Nya, Nya again, instead. Her whispers were taking on a new sound - bubbly, somehow, and choked.

    Frowning, he took the scanner from his pack and ran it over her body.

  10. #10
    Berit Selkie
    Someone was there, someone was touching her, holding her. Could it be Nya? She knew she was saying it over and over, that name, afraid to stop and listen and find it wasn't true.

    The touch felt so warm, so warm.... and so gentle. Something whispered, but the words were too far away. She reached out for them, grabbed something - a hand?

    She remembered the last thing; and smiled. How those little hands were pressing around her neck, syrup-sticky lips whispering 'Nya loves mommy' into her ear, the fervor with which the little girl had insisted she take her favorite toy along with her. How she had been a brave little girl and not cried nor called for her when she'd left her behind in her husband's arms; just how those big brown eyes had studied her and seemed to drink in all that she was at that moment.

    She missed her. Sooooo much.

    So she went on calling her name, knowing deep down that she'd never see her daughter again, but that didn't stop her from wishing.

    But slowly the pain was reaching through the barriers she'd erected to keep it out of her consciousness. Pain, and the awful taste of blood again. She could hear the wet rasping of her own voice calling out, an eerie echo of what for a moment she thought she might have just said in her sickness-induced dreams. For that moment she saw herself standing above her body, staring down at it. Then she was back again, coughing, choking, words bubbling out along with the blood, and she found herself staring up into the twilight darkness of her closed lids, and - scared for the first time of dying - opened her eyes.

  11. #11
    What he saw on the scanner's display when he was done wasn't good. It showed him three cracked ribs and another which had been severed by a blaster bolt that had also left a thumb-sized hole in her left lung, had torn through blood vessels and nerves and probably damaged her spinal chord. How she had survived this long in spite of the massive internal bleeding that should have stopped her heart from beating, he hadn't a clue. Was it some Jedi trick? Could they somehow heal themselves?

    Then why had the others not tried it? Amongst the carnage there had to have been others for whom death could not have come instantly!

    But as soon as he'd finished that thought, he realised that it had. As terrible as this woman's wounds were - they were light compared to the wounds he had seen on the others around her. Where she had received only a single shot to the chest, others had been raked by them. He had seen bodies so charred that nothing had been left of their extremities and faces. He'd picked up a tunic so riddled with blaster holes that it could have been used as a fishing net. That Jedi's body hadn't remained.

    As he looked up from the woman and around it was as if for the first time he was seeing the other side of war. And yet - what he saw wasn't what it should be either. No war should be this brutal, cruel, merciless. These beings had been slaughtered, punished. It wasn't what he and his brothers had been taught about war.

    Involuntarily, the sheer horror of it sent a shudder up his spine. Fighting was supposed to be efficient: you aim, you fire, you hit the enemy and he goes down. If he doesn't and you're lucky you get another shot. Then you move on to the next, or you're already dead. It was a clean death. But these Jedi's was anything but that.

    Was this the difference between fighting droids and fighting flesh-and-blood beings? They hadn't known what the enemy would be like, and had been taught how to deal with anything - but not an army made up solely of droids.
    And if that made the difference then it still made no sense to him: he'd have thought droids would be efficient at killing, too. Something of the devastation around him spoke of an emotional angle that no droid was capable of its own: that cold-hearted brutality that only man could develop, a true evil. Droids could only do as commanded.

    He shuddered again, unable to suppress it. Was this also the way his brothers had been killed? Had they also been reduced to a heap of flesh and bones and armour? Or was this a death reserved to those who had died in this arena?

    Horrified, he squeezed the Jedi's hand that he was still holding. He was willing her to survive, to hang on and escape this awful fate someone seemed to have chosen for her. For his brothers' sake and her own she had to survive! Maybe all this death would not have been in vain.

    He had no idea where the thought came from, or why it suddenly seemed so clear to him, but it filled him with purpose. They were all in this war together, fighting against this kind of evil, and she was as much a part of it as he; if there was anything he could do for her, he'd do it.

    Looking around for the medevac team, his sore eyes saw no one but the padawan on the other side of the arena. Even as he looked at him, the boy seemed to sense his need and started walking towards him, raising his comm to check on the team. The soldier wished he would walk faster - he didn't know how much a padawan could do compared to fully grown Jedi but maybe there was something the boy could do for her.

    Bending down over her still form, her lips still moving and calling out that name even while she had no air to breathe past the blood bubbling in her throat, he leaned as close as he could to her and said: "Ma'am, I'd give you my strength if I could, just hang on for a while longer... They're gonna be here soon, and that padawan, too, just hang on... Hang on."

    He kept whispering it to her, hoping the words alone could have the power to make her survive.

    When the padawan got to them he found them both silent and unconscious. The soldier was holding on to her hand, as she lay there in the hot sand with a look on her face that he knew was that state of utter concentration that a Jedi in a healing trance wore. As gently as he could he applied bacta patches to her chest wound, being careful not to disturb the connection he could sense between them. It seemed the clone had found a way to help her all on his own, by offering his strength; she would not be taking it from him unbidden. The boy's respect for this clone soldier grew.
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Feb 3rd, 2009 at 06:36:50 PM.

  12. #12
    They said that clones were the same.

    On the face of it, that wasn't such an absurd claim. Genetic twin upon genetic twin, their faces varied only through the wear and tear that battle wrought, or the slightest tweaks of customisation: the occasional scar; the occasional brand; the occasional hair out of place was all that disrupted what their generic genetics had crafted. At Geonosis, their Kaminoan mothers had wrapped them each in faceless, unmarked duraplast; only the occasional spash of colour let others tell them apart, and even that was merely there to show whose barked instructions they each should follow.

    Whoever they were, they were wrong.

    The Clones were far from carbonite copies of one another. They were like snowflakes: so abundant that you might even forget that they existed as individuals at all; so intricate and delicate that no two were ever the same if you took the time to look closely enough. Of course there were differences between Clone Troopers and Clone Pilots; Clone Commanders and Clone Commandos. Their customised training bread diversity in their experiences, and their nurtured skills coloured their personalities. But even within the microchosm of a single four-man squad, four seemingly identical Clones had become four radically different people.

    Take RC-1197, for example. The youngest of their small band by the merest fraction of a second, he was always the thinker; the one who looked beyond the job at hand; the one who looked into people, instead of just at them. He saw the emotions of those around them, and rather than just filing those details away as tactical information as they had been trained, he looked beyond; saw the implications. There he was right now, knees in the Geonosian dirt, hand clamped around some Jedi woman as she breathed her last breath; he was fighting for that silver lining that optimism promised.

    Hex would never have been like that - RC-1196. He'd been their sniper; their medic too, but he tackled both tasks with the same icy detachment. He didn't heal you: he turned your injury into an enemy, set it in his crosshairs, and plucked it from life with perfection. There was no comfort, no beside manner; no standard doses either - twelve units of this; seven of that; though laser-sharp in delivering the exact effect that he wanted, the constant uneven remains that he turned in at the end of each mission drove the quartermasters insane.

    1193 wasn't like that. They called him Trey, for his final digit, and he was their resident technogeek. He drank up knowledge - most of it useless - and was hardly seen without his nose buried in a datapad, or up to his armpits in the holonet. He would have succomed to the mockery of his peers if he wasn't always prepared to cut down their jibes with a volley of intellectual sarcasm. While 97 swam deep into the oceans of circumstance, and 96 froze the surface so he could skim harmlessly across, Trey floated on a life-raft of humour, trying to stay alive long enough for the tide to wash him somewhere a little less bleak.

    There were times when Trey couldn't ignore the fathoms beneath him however, no matter how much he wanted to. He could see his brother drowning in the depths into which he had swum: it was time to weigh anchor and dive in after him; when they surfaced again, maybe Trey's lifeboat could carry them both away from this storm.

    Stepping over the fallen, Trey knelt down beside his brother. Darven was unconscious, hand clamped around a fallen Jedi's, but the Padawan didn't seem worried; more reverant, in fact. Trey didn't know what either of them was doing - some strange Jedi ritual that he would no doubt never understand. He was not a Force-wielder, nor a healer; there was nothing he could do to helm the dying woman. There was something he could do to help his brother, however.

    Setting aside his weapon, he placed a glove hand on the shoulder of RC-1197's armour. There was no need for words; now was not the time for humour, and his message was clear. Don't worry, brother, it said. You are not alone.
    Last edited by RC-1193; Feb 3rd, 2009 at 04:05:45 AM.

  13. #13
    We were so shabla innocent of everything - so ignorant, too. We knew nothing about the Jedi, really. Yes - we'd been told a little bit about that Force of theirs: what to expect while fighting with them, basic tricks... none of us had the slightest clue of what they were truly capable of.

    Even now, 27 years later, I'm not certain I've seen it all, and my partner was a trained Jedi.

    Had I any idea of what I was doing? Did I know that she could sap my strength and use it to heal herself? Of course not. Would I have let her, had I known then? Yes. So it doesn't really make much of a difference whether I knew or not, but.... it's just this mind-boggling idea of how narrow-mindedly we'd been raised, how little we knew really when they let us out into the galaxy, full of confidence and swagger.

    We got more than just our numbers crushed that first day. Our confidence was the greater victim, maybe. Although I'm not sure many realised it just yet.

    I certainly didn't.

    When I came to, Trey was looming above me, the weight of his hand on my shoulder a comforting assurance. I felt like I'd just woken from a long, long sleep, and everything still felt a little fuzzy. My senses hadn't woken up yet, it seemed; but a moment later I realised that I was simply without the helmet.

    When my eyes finally were able to focus properly, I saw the med-shuttle lifting off. It took a moment to make the connection, but when I looked into the face of the young Jedi, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Jedi woman was still alive; she'd made it, in some mysterious way. It wasn't until a few hours later, when we had a moment to ourselves, that Trey told me what he himself had learned from the young Jedi learner: that she was still alive because she had taken some of my strength and used it to heal the worst damages. She'd put us both into a state of trance; a form of Jedi Healing trance.

    The thought was quite amazing at the time. I'd been connected to another person, for such a noble cause. There we'd been fighting for the Republic and the Jedi, but it felt worthless compared to what I was feeling then.

    As soon as I was able to get back onto my feet, we were off, returning to our task; but this time, Trey stayed nearby, concerned that I might lack the strength to go on. My poor brother - we'd been through so much loss already that day, and then he saw me lying on the ground, too. He forced a few ration cubes on me, and I had to swallow the tasteless things right there and then, and a drink of nutrient water, and quickly regained my energy.

    We spent that entire afternoon cataloguing the dead and their belongings. There were no more survivors, no call for med-shuttles; all the living, breathing, moving things we saw was the three of us, and the occasional transport barge manned by a team of droids picking up the bodies and bringing them away. It was solemn work, after that small bit of respite, and it lasted well into the evening.

    Thus out of contact, we never knew about the med-shuttle's disappearance. And then a strange man suddenly appeared as if reshaping from the thin air out of the darkness of the arena's shadows.

  14. #14
    Fionn Halcyon
    Staccato steps on red grains of sand.

    Dust flying up, up, up, in eddies and whorls, in the wake of a cloak brown once, now grimy, dusty; red-coated tatters billowing, barely touching, over the ground.

    Enter the madman, into the arena. No sane mane walks with purpose this narrow. Single focus:

    Find her!

    The red is sand or the red is blood? Her blood there, somewhere? He walks swiftly, yet misses nothing: no shape of creature, no bundle of cloth. Studying the dead in passing. Dead Jedi. Once his comrades.

    Much more than death separating them now.

    Many were dead. But she wasn't. Now he could feel her. Hurt, she is, but not dead. And he is so close now.

    Where is she? Find her! Must find her!

    Stops. Stares. With raised hand, blocking the red glow from above, he looks around. Tendrils of his power leaping, dancing, slinking between the shapes on the ground. Feeling. Sensing. Like another creature entirely, nothing he has ever done, he has ever felt before.

    All is fair in love and war.

    Anger contorts the features of his face. Who cares about light and dark now? Empty words. It's all the same, and he needs all he can get. All he can take.

    There's life. Not her. But living, walking creatures. His purpose here is sharp, is clear. To find her. And whoever is there - they must help. They will help.

    Now a new spring guides his steps, no longer does he search the ground. She's not amongst those in his way - the rest, they do not count. Carelessly he strides towards those alive, yet his feet hold age-old, honor-bound reverence to the dead in the dust: No one is touched, nothing is stirred.

    And then....


  15. #15
    Remon Jore
    Coruscant. Night. Jedi Temple, corridor.
    ~ 5 days since the Battle of Geonosis.

    There were some things in life that could hit you hard. And some that were a hair's breadth from knocking the very life out of you, and left you with nothing but a mess. He wasn't sure yet in which category this one fell.

    He'd always prided himself on being an understanding and warm-hearted man. On not necessarily thinking of himself as a Jedi first. He'd believed those entrusted into his care were content with him as their task master - and as someone they could turn to in need.

    Fionn Halcyon had been no different than the other three he had brought to Knighthood. A normal, well-balanced, and promising young Jedi he had been when he'd left his master's care. A Jedi with all the inherent temperament, the stubbornness, the perseverance of a Corellian, yes - but nevertheless, a fine young man. They had shared missions, since, and Fionn had as easily fallen into his new role of partner as the other three young knights before him.

    When had Fionn gone wrong?

    Had he missed the signs?

    The thought was deeply troubling to the Jedi master. It was a mere hour after his briefing with the council, and it was still difficult to take in. Yes - his mission was clear, his intention, too; but Fionn - a fallen Jedi? It seemed unconceivable, despite knowing it was a distinct possibility.

    His footsteps fell onto the soft carpet with nary a sound. The council had given him full control over this "mission" that he somehow could not see as one. A mission... missions concerned outsiders, troubled planets, beings.... he'd never had to deal with one of their own becoming one. He'd walked past the marble statues of the Lost Twenty many times over the decades, and never wasted a moment thinking about what it might have meant to those who had reason to take their departure personally. How did Yoda feel about Dooku's departure? Did the mighty master feel as ... betrayed, as let down, as he was feeling now?

    Fierfek, he could not do this - could not bear to think of the matter the whole time. It was a mission, and he would need to treat it as such.

    It would be difficult enough, given the circumstances. Of all things, he wished the council hadn't insisted on pressing a new learner on him, but he could hardly blame them, with matters being what they were. He had to wonder, though - was that their way of trying to reassure him? Of showing their confidence in his ability to train the young? Inspite of his obvious shortcomings in the face of his failure with Halcyon?

    The corridor was empty, silent, hollow. Lights brightened as he neared them, and dimmed again in his wake. All were at rest down here; he'd rarely had occasion to step into this section. The padawans were on the level above him - down here were the dorms and rooms of the young men and women from the corps. He hoped the young one the council had decided he should train was worthy of that decision. Taking her to Geonosis would be a trial of its own, for her as well as for him.

    Facing his own failure...

    Moments later, there was no more time for self-doubt and worry; he was at his intended destination, the room belonging to his newest padawan. He could not let her see his shaken confidence. Taking a breath to calm himself, he used an old-fashioned means of announcing himself by simply knocking on the door.

  16. #16
    Taman Danar
    Bleary-eyed, she swung her legs off the bunk, aware that the knock that had roused her from sleep hadn't repeated since. It had taken her some time to wake up fully, and some more time to make up her mind to get up and check if there wasn't someone outside after all.

    But only because it was too late for pranksters. Chances were whoever had knocked had also given up and walked away by now, but - she'd look, just the same.

    Carelessly, she threw on the next best thing to cover her nakedness, realising as she moved across the room in the darkness that it had to be the bedsheet she'd forgotten to bring to the cleaners. It smelled stale, and faintly sour - the smell of her nightmares.

    The moment she put her finger to the door opener, Taman realised she could have foregone all this and simply sensed out through the Force to see who was stupid enough to try and wake her; but such was her life that the recent changes yet meant nothing.

    And truly - nothing could have prepared her for the sight of the man standing right in front of her as the door irised open. Instinctively, she clutched at the bedsheet covering her, becoming intensely aware how inappropriate any of this was.

    "Ahh... master Jedi?"

    What was he doing down here, anyway?!?

    "What can I do for you?"

  17. #17
    Remon Jore
    He'd read the full data set on this girl, but somehow - it was different seeing her face to face. She was so old already!

    Again there was that spark of a thought, of a feeling, that bubbled up in his mind unbidden, to sour his thoughts: did the council truly still know what it was doing? Or were they all in over their heads?

    Jedi leading a war. Taking command over an army of cloned warriors. Sending younglings out to die. Training up the otherwise unfit. How far have we fallen?

    With an effort of will, he pushed the thought away. He had to trust in the council's decisions.

    "You're Taman Danar," he stated. It wasn't a question - he wanted her to be certain he knew whom he had come for.

    The young woman before him stared back at him; her shoulder-length hair tousled, sunken eyes that told of long nights without the proper amount of sleep, and something care-worn, something deeply worried hidden behind an openly defiant look. Her words didn't hide her annoyance well, and he couldn't blame her, considering the circumstances.

    No one had prepared her for this.

    He adopted a soothing tone of voice, exuded a calm kind of authority that his previous padawans had all not failed to respond to. This was what he was good at, what he had experience at - nevertheless, for one brief second, he was seized with something he could only define as fear; what if he could not do it this time?

    But her expression did lose something of its annoyance, the knuckles on her hands lost some of their whiteness as they relaxed their grip on the thing she was holding in place to cover herself. (What was she wearing?!?)

    "I'm Jedi Master Remon Jore, Taman."

    This was when he usually would tell the boy or girl that he had chosen them as his new padawan learner, but ... it felt strange with this one. He got no sense of the all-encumbering awe for that moment, for being chosen, from her. She felt no awe, had nothing of that blind trust and devotion in him that had usually filled him with a sense of his purpose, and his responsibility.

    And then, in that very moment, he knew he would not tell her yet. Could not. He had seen a glimpse of what the council had intended for him, with this move.

    Everything was different now.

    "You have been chosen to accompany a mission to Geonosis. We leave at 0800 from platform C65 - I apologize for the short notice we must give you, but we must make haste. Please be there in time."

    And before she could ask any questions, he nodded to her, turned, and walked back into the direction from which he'd come.

    Feeling even less sure of himself.

  18. #18
    Taman Danar
    Taman raised both her eyebrows and stared after the retreating back of the old Jedi. For a moment there.... she could have sworn he'd come for something else; some faint glimmer of something different had sparked deep down in her belly, and for that moment she'd allowed herself the hope that he'd come to tell her she'd been assigned a master.

    But it was just a dumb mission they'd found for her.

    When they'd put her in charge of organising the younglings tournament, she'd gotten a glimpse of it before. Madame Nu had even whispered it to her - that the council was considering her for training - but inspite of the tournaments having ended succesfully two nights ago, life had simply gone on afterwards for her. As it always had before.

    And her nights had been filled with the monsters and creatures out of the tales they had been told during their childhood - except that she had been fighting them herself, not with saber like the Jedi in those tales, but with a blunt blade that could do no damage but to herself, and she'd woken after every night drenched in sweat and trembling with fear.

    Now they wanted her - but not for anything special after all. Just dumb old Geonosis. What could they want of her there? It had no archeological value - maybe she was to catalogue some of the personal belongings of the Jedi who had died there? Prepare a report on the historical value of the place, for the Jedi?

    The sense of calm, of collectedness she'd felt for a moment in the Jedi's presence were long gone - leaving her with the certainty that he'd tried to mess with her senses. For a moment she felt enraged, but quelled it quickly again. They were Jedi - she might have done the same by now, if she'd had more aptitude.

    Angry at herself for not being more than what she was, she stabbed the button that irised the door shut behind her again. Dropping the bedsheet into the floor, she activated the lights with what little force push she could muster - astonishingly stronger than she would have expected - and sighed. Long and hard.

    No point going back to sleep. It hadn't been pleasant anyway, and she had to pack a bag. The great and magnificent jedi master hadn't bothered to mention the length of the mission, so she just decided to cram whatever she could find into her bag and hope there was some way to clean things if there was a need.

  19. #19
    TheHolo.Net Poster
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    Jan 2008
    Jedi Temple, Coruscant
    Today, he had made sure she had a bag packed, as he too kept one ready. A Jedi never knew when he or she would be called away on duty and just how much or how little notice they might have. He had just left Istina to herself for the evening, had been to the dojo (and much to his disappointment, found no-one to spar with, ending up running through drills and conjuring an imaginary opponent, which was never as satisfying), showered out of his worked-up sweat and was, at this point nearly ready to go out and hunt the meal himself, he was incredibly hungry.

    Classes with many young padawans on single subjects over one or two hours at a time did not seem as energy consuming as catering to the education of one single, solitary student. Istina Ch'fer was by no means overly energetic, not at all giving him 'a run for his credits', but he was responsible for her on a constant basis. It was a different variation on the theme of parenthood, he surmised, as he came out of his quarters in fresh robes and headed post-haste to the mess hall.

    Partway along, only another turn and a full corridor until he would be to the mess hall, the Knight came across Master Jore and... ended up wondering for himself what was the matter. The shift in his aura spoke of something that was on his mind, the expression on his face moreso. Ilias stepped up alongside Remon Jore, hands folded behind his back as was habit and walked with him, observing silently before he decided to break the distracted silence.

    "Master Jore?" He ventured. "Something troubles you. Would I be out of place in asking of you what is so deeply on your mind?"

  20. #20
    Remon Jore
    As he walked away from that encounter with the young woman who seemed too old to be a padawan, the doubts gnawed at him further.

    Where's the Order going with this? ... Fionn taking a wife... this girl - Taman - a member of the corps for over 7 years, now suddenly a padawan.... and the council asking me to take her with me, to face the fallen...?

    It could not end well. No - it would not end well.

    He couldn't say exactly if it was a Force premonition - he wasn't given to those, usually - or just something else, but for one moment he knew with absolute clarity that they were doomed. In some way, they were all doomed.

    Just - how?

    He was so deeply engrossed in this thought that he didn't sense the younger man approaching and then walking at his side until the young knight spoke to him.

    At once the old Jedi master made an effort to calm his troubled thoughts. He hadn't even noticed he'd re-entered the more frequented areas of the temple. Stopping at the side of the corridor, he reached out a hand to grasp one of the support beams of the structure, as if it might lend him some extra strength too. There he stood, one hand against the cool durasteel, the other on his creased forehead.

    For a long time he said nothing. Just stood there, trying to clear his mind of the fog of doubt and worry and... and bitterness - yes bitterness had crept in there somehow, too - and only then did he feel comfortable speaking.

    He knew Ilias Nytrau to be one of the knights Fionn had shared some missions with. It was possible they were friends. How much did the man know? Hadn't he seen him at close hand during the knight's first outburst in the assembly hall? The council had let him watch the footage, and now that he recalled it he was certain Nytrau had been there to witness it.

    "You were there in the assembly hall when the devastation at Geonosis was announced, weren't you?"

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