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Saga - PT [DDC 2018] "Even Without a Voice", Ahsoka Tano Diary, Song-Verse

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Title: “Even Without a Voice”
    Author: Mira_Jade

    Genre: Drama, General
    Rating: PG
    Time Frame: 20-19 BBY; Post TCW s5 x e20: “The Wrong Jedi” - RoTS
    Characters: Ahsoka & Ensemble

    Summary: Ahsoka Tano’s missing year following her leaving the Jedi Order, and then beyond, from her point of view.

    Notes: So, I have been toying with the idea of writing Ahsoka’s companion piece to “An Old Song, Re-Sung” for quite a while now - I’ve had some of these scenes in mind for over a year! Unfortunately, with so many projects going on at once, this was constantly put on the back burner. But then the Half Diary Challenge came along, and it seemed to give me a perfect place to give her tale a voice, so here we are! Personally speaking, it’ll be an interesting exercise for me to write something rather episodic, with a first person POV - which I haven't done in ages. I'm also challenging myself to write shorter updates - which is so difficult for my wordy muse, which isn't news to anyone who knows me well! But, I’m looking forward to the challenge. ;)

    For those of you who are not familiar with my Song-verse, this story will be canon compliant until the last few chapters, and even then I will try to give lots of context to the nature of my AU world. So, it should be easy to follow if you wanted to dive right on in from here. For everyone else, I thank you for following me as I once again delight in rebuilding my castles in George’s sandbox. It’s been a pleasure!


    Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.






    Other pieces in the Song-verse:






    “Even Without a Voice”
    by Mira_Jade



    Entry I
    I suppose, in my own way, this is my attempt to make sense of everything that has happened to me.

    In the whirlwind that gripped the Jedi Order following the First Battle of Geonosis, before Padawans were deployed as battalion commanders on the front-lines, Master Che’s mind-healers met with us to discuss coping measures to help us fulfill our commissions to the best of our abilities. One of the things they stressed the most was the value of communication in order to adjust to the mental hardships of war. If we could not talk to our Masters about what we were going through, they recommended keeping a log – a journal, of sorts. We were not soldiers, they stressed, and we had to remember our true purpose while serving under fire. That, of course, was easier said than done.

    I never much saw the value in keeping a mission log of my own, as some of the other Padawans did - as even Master Obi-Wan still does. Then, I'd just been so eager to go out and do my part. I was honored beyond words when Master Yoda selected me from my initiate class for an apprenticeship with Knight Skywalker, and I dove into the Secession Crisis as if born for combat. This was my purpose, I'd thought; I found my calling and a place to belong through my service in the GAR. I passed my formative years on the front-lines, so much so that even when the war lost its rosy shine and . . . things happened to make me question just why we were fighting and how I never lost my focus. I kept my footing; mentally, I held my ground.

    Of course, the bombing at the Temple changed that. Being blamed, tried, and then found guilty of high treason and sedition against the Republic changed everything, in ways I still can't fully understand. What's even worse than that . . . to know that I was framed by Barriss for Barriss' crimes . . . I was framed by my fellow Padawan learner and co-commander on the field and my friend. That, especially, I still can’t wrap my mind around. Everything about the last few days feels surreal, almost dream-like. In the end, it didn’t matter that my Master – no, Anakin, he’s just Anakin now came through and proved my innocence before the military tribunal could pass a sentence of capitol punishment for my guilty conviction as a terrorist and traitor. The opinion of the Senate was secondary to me. Instead, it was seeing the faces of the Council stare down at me in judgment, and hearing their decision to expel me from the Jedi Order for fear of further negative publicity and out of caution for the pall of the Dark Side that has lately covered everything that really tore in deep and hurt . . . I can still see their shadowed faces in the Chamber of Judgement whenever I close my eyes. I can’t even begin to explain how much their lost of trust gutted me – even more so than the guilty sentence that passed during the proceedings that followed. The men and women I had trusted and revered my entire life believed me capable of monstrous things; everything else paled before that knowledge.

    I . . . well, how can I explain it? During the war, I kept true to my calling largely through sharing the strength of my comrades. I thrived on my bond with my Master, and I eventually grew to meet and even exceed the expectations of all the Masters of the Order . . . or so I’d thought. To see those selfsame faces looking down on me in judgment moved something within me, in ways I still can’t fully understand. Something deep inside me has shifted, and I don't have the faintest idea of how to shift it back. I knew who Master Windu meant when he said that the Council was far from unanimous in its ruling over my expulsion. Master Plo’s face was so carefully blank, and Master Ti’s markings were pale with sorrow and shock in a way only I could read . . . Master Obi-Wan’s jaw was tight and his face was set in stone, but I could feel his helplessness panic horror through my bond with Anakin. The worse I felt – and, subsequently, the worse Anakin reacted, snapping and lashing out like a cornered loth-wolf, Obi-Wan’s own turmoil only grew. Yet they couldn't help me; they were just three voices out of a dozen - and nothing good ever came out of Anakin locking horns with the Council. Looking away from them . . . to see Master Windu, whom I’d quite literally fought battles alongside, frowning as if I was something disgusting to him, as if I had Fallen . . . and Master Yoda himself, whom I had so long esteemed, standing aside and doing nothing to stand by me as I had always stood by the Order -

    - and there I go. I’m working myself up into a frenzy again, and it’s getting hard to breathe. That’s what this log is for, though. I need someone to talk to, and with the Order cut off from me – well, with me having cut myself off from the Order by refusing their token offer to return, I suppose this is my best course of action.

    Well then . . . here goes nothing.

    I suppose I should start by introducing myself. I am Ahsoka Tano, Jedi Apprentice to Anakin Skywalker and Padawan Commander of the – wait . . . no, that’s wrong now. Let me start again: my name is Ahsoka Tano, born of the Lalaith-orn clan on Shili to Tano Saador and his mate Mathri Aao – but, no . . . that’s wrong too. I parted ways from my birth-clan years ago; it doesn’t feel right, either, defining myself through them.

    Well then, I guess there’s not much for me to say in introduction . . . my name is Ahsoka Tano. I am sixteen standard years of age, though by the laws of my people I was no longer a child when I killed an akul on my very first hunt, long before the war began. As of the time of this first entry, I . . . belong to no one, and have nothing that belongs to me. Not now . . . not yet, anyway.

    That’s what this log is for, in part – to be a soundboard as I plan my next move. In some ways, my path is open before me in a way that it never was before. I can go anywhere; I can be anything I want to be. But all I’ve ever wanted to be was a Jedi; I never allowed myself room to imagine anything else. Now, with that door closed to me, I suppose that I can still follow the will of the Force - but the Force has been so clouded as of late. It’s muddled and murky, as if the Light is trying to shine through a thick cloud of storms. It’s hard to tell up from down while swimming within its currents; the surface and the deep all appear to be the same; the Dark is everywhere, even when I know the Light to be just above me if I can only orient myself to its presence. Whenever I do manage to find the time and discipline to meditate, the brightness and purity that I've always experienced when reaching out with my immaterial senses has faded, and it's slipping further and further away. It’s . . . disquieting, to say the least, and only growing worse as the days march on.

    Okay, so that’s what I need to tackle next: I need to reestablish my connection to the Force. My vision has gone dim, that much the Council was right about. I need to find some clarity, even outside the bounds of the Jedi Order. Yet, to be entirely honest, in some ways it hurts to even try and reach out to the Force right now. It’s like pressing on a bruise, and having the original injury called to mind with the resulting bloom of pain. I’m not a Jedi anymore . . . will the Force leave me too, now? Will it judge me for refusing to return to the Order that had first shunned me? Who am I to even consider myself worthy of its continued presence in my life, when I squandered the Council's offer to return? Will it continue to -

    - but no. No. I was born with the Force inside of me - the Jedi only taught me how to harness my power and honor my gift through service and self-sacrifice; they didn’t cause my connection to the Force. Yet . . .

    . . . the Council found it so easy not to trust me when the evidence framed me in an unflattering light. Did they see something within me that, perhaps, I am unable to see in myself? Were they wise to be leery? Was the Force guiding them to be cautious about me? Do I even deserve to -

    - okay, that’s enough. I can’t think like that in public – if I'm going to be overwhelmed by something, I’m most certainly not going to do so where anyone else can see me fall apart. Currently, I’m sitting on a bench overlooking a busy street-corner outside of the Temple Quarter, where the boundaries of the Legislative District and Sac’h Town meet. I didn’t make it far after being discharged from the Bureau of Temple Affairs before my legs warned me that they wouldn’t carry me much farther, and I had to sit down. Dwarfed by the spires around me, knowing that the clothes on my back and the single bag at my feet are all I have to my name . . . it’s an empty feeling, to say the least. It’s a very, very empty feeling.

    First things first, then. There’s no use in wallowing when I should be figuring out my next move. One: I’m currently homeless. I have nowhere to go, no expected income, and no fixed citizenship that allows me to stay on Coruscant when removed from the umbrella of the Jedi Order. I’m leaving the Jedi the same way I came: with nothing but my name. I don’t even have my lightsabers at my side; lightsabers are a Jedi's weapon, and with the loss of my title the bureau refused to return mine upon parting. The same as when the Guardians ripped my Padawan beads from me, before I was handed over to Admiral Tarkin and his goons, I felt like I was giving up a part of myself when I heard that I no longer had a right to the weapons I had forged. But that too is something I can’t let myself think about now. Not just yet.

    At the very least, I have been granted a ninety day temporary visa that allows me to legally stay on Coruscant and a small sum of credits to start my life over - the standard package that the Order would give to any Jedi forsaking their vows. That, I know I have to make my best use of; the credits won’t get me far - especially with the state of inflation currently gripping the Republic for the war and the hardships it has inspired.

    First and foremost, however, I need to find a place to stay - for tonight, at the very least. Then, I can tackle what comes next after a good night’s sleep and maybe even a meal. I haven’t eaten since a quick bite right before the eulogy for the Jedi who died in the Temple bombing. Prison food had no appeal, for obvious reasons, and I certainly hadn’t stopped for nourishment during my brief stint on the run. The idea of eating anything is still nauseating, but I’ve ignored my hunger pangs for too long. I can already hear Rex scolding me in the back of my mind, just the same as if he was standing beside me and forcing me to eat a ration’s cube when there was just so much else to be done. I need to take care of myself now; no one else is going to do it for me.

    Alright – I can figure out that much, at least. I’ve survived over two years on the front-lines of the War for the Seceded Systems as the Padawan of the Hero Without Fear and Commander of the elite 501st Legion – getting on as every other sentient in the galaxy is expected to do from day to day can’t be nearly as difficult in comparison.

    And then, maybe then, I can figure out exactly what the Force wants next from me . . . and what I want of the Force.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Beautiful. =D= =D= The "I" POV makes the introspection even oomphier than otherwise. To feel cast out and judged so reflexively by those who should have given her the benefit of the doubt :eek: :( !!!! And her true friends did believe in her but couldn't do anything to move the lunkheads :mad: ... or change the final outcome. Her ruminations about past and future courses of action and her purpose in life are very realistic and poignant!

    To be judged a "terrorist and traitor" when you're not has RL overtones -- you look at those handing down such arbitrary wrong-headed judgments and think: Are you as stupid as you're acting? :rolleyes:

    Ahsoka is at a transition point to be sure! There's a lot of openness to what she can do and be next, but the very fact of that is daunting, and the reason why is heart-rending. @};-
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  3. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    I love your voice for Ahsoka so much. She's confident and clear, but at the same time, she's also 16 and her world was completely thrown upside down with the start of the war, then again with the bombing and her leaving the Jedi. She's free to do whatever she wants, but, you know, we were all teenagers once and that freedom can be honesty daunting and that is clearly coming out here.
     
  4. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Your Asoka has a voice of her own and much to tell. I am bedazzled here. @};-
     
  5. ThisIsMe1138

    ThisIsMe1138 Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 26, 2018
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^:)^^:)^^:)^ =D==D==D=

    I love this story! I agree with everyone else, your Ahsoka voice is perfect! I really love the way you write out her thought process - it feels like a real diary rather than a first person story. You also captured her emotions really well - enough to make me tear up :) The way she goes on about her fears then kind of goes, "Yeah, get a hold of yourself" and how she doesn't want to touch the Force... Is there more? Gonna have to go read your other stories... :D[face_love]
     
  6. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Hello, my friend! I can't tell you how grateful I am to have you along for the ride. It's true - Ahsoka was caught in the worst spot between the political and judicial systems, and there are unfortunately consequences that are far-reaching and long-lasting, no matter that she was proved 'innocent'. My mind boggled for her watching the last few episodes of Season 5, and it was interesting diving into her frame of mind through this diary, that's for sure!

    But no matter what Anakin never gave up on her - only to have her leave anyway. I fully believe Ahsoka's reasons leaving the Order was one of the major factors for Anakin's distrust/combative nature with the Council in RotS, and his self-perceived failures with her led to him clinging to Padmé and their child so tightly. :( It's an awful circle of fate, and one that I'm all too glad to pull apart here. ;)

    But we'll get into that soon! [face_mischief] [:D]


    It's crazy, when you think of just how young she actually was during the Clone Wars! And Anakin too, for that matter. But you're right, she's a teenager with all the world before her for the worst reasons, and that has to be a heavy, even emotionally devastating, burden to carry, especially in the beginning. I'm thrilled to hear that you're enjoying my voice for Ahsoka so far, and hope that I continue to do her justice in the updates to come. Thanks for reading! :)


    Aw, thank-you. [face_love]


    Hello! It's wonderful to see a new face stopping by - especially an enthusiastic new face. I think that's the great thing about the first person POV in a diary - it really lets you get inside a character's head and show those spirals of thought and highs and lows of emotion. And Ahsoka certainly has a lot to wrestle with right now, that's for sure! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this first entry so much - there will definitely be more, if you're interested in reading. :D [:D]


    And, that said, I do have an update for you guys. Plotting this out, it looks like I'm going to have more than twelve installments, so I have a few weekly as opposed to bi-weekly updates to get this story off the ground. As always, I thank you all for reading and hope that you enjoy. :) [:D]
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  7. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004

    Entry II

    I suppose that, in the end, it was habit as much as instinct that turned me in the direction of CoCo Town.

    Every Jedi knows that they have a welcome seat and a warm meal waiting for them at Dex’s Diner. Master Kenobi started patronizing the diner when he himself was still an apprentice to Master Jinn, and his friendship with the Besalisk restaurateur had long since passed down to Anakin and then to me. Whenever we're planetside, Anakin finds time to visit Dex’s for a real cooked meal, away from the expectations of the Temple and the rigors of the front-lines. Some of my favourite memories were born on those stools: like the few times when Senator Amidala joined us, and Anakin relaxed to the point where I was reminded that my Master wasn’t much older than me, and bearing up underneath the weight of prophesy and command, at that. Since then, we'd made the habit of taking Rex with us whenever possible, and I got to watch his eyes light up when he experienced Corellian waffles for the first time - well, when he experienced most of the options Dex served for the first time. Before that, all he'd known was the bland, nutritious cuisine of the Kaminoans and field rations. The next time, when Master Obi-Wan brought Cody, watching the two debate their opinions of the once near wholly foreign menu was even better. I never really felt like a Jedi in those moments, but I most definitely felt like Ahsoka . . . I felt like me, myself. Perhaps it was that aura of remembered belonging and contentment that drew me now. Or, if I'm being completely honest with myself, maybe I just had no idea of where else to go beside Dex’s.

    It was late by the time I made my way across the Legislative District to the bordering Industrial Sector, and then down the levels for the mid-class working neighborhood of CoCo Town. Only one of Coruscant’s moons was visible from this level, and the ship-lanes in the upper troposphere were sparkling in place of stars in the night sky; the planet as a whole gave off too much light to see any more of the star strewn Deep Core than that. When I entered, FLO, the WA-7 service droid, was wiping down the tables and putting up the chairs for the night. Only a few regulars were in the back, finishing up their meals before the midnight shift began at the yards. The diner would only close for a few hours before opening early to cater the next shift change, all of which was fast approaching. I could see Dex scrubbing down the kitchen from the single window in the back, with all four of his arms coordinated in an impressive motion to scour the day’s grease from the durachrome stoves. He heard the door chime to announce a customer, and called over his shoulder: “I’m afraid we’re closing for the night. There’ll be caf put on in a few hours, though – come back then if you’re still hungry.”

    I opened my mouth, but didn’t have to say anything when FLO whirled on her uni-pod to face me, and her optical sensors flashed in recognition. “Aw, honey,” her artificial voice managed to strike an almost maternal note as she sighed. “Dex,” she turned to call into the kitchen, “you might wanna make an exception for this one.”

    Her words had Dex darting a glance over his shoulder, his brow furrowed, and I waved a sheepish hand in greeting when he met my eyes. Almost immediately, he put his scrub brushes down and wiped his hands clean on his apron. There was such an enormous, sad look in his eyes as he breathed, “oh, poppet,” on a rumbling exhale, one that – rather alarmingly – had tears of my own burning in reply. I hadn’t cried since . . . well, I had yet to cry. Perhaps, I admittedly distantly, I needed to.

    At the very least, I didn’t have to explain why I was there. I knew that the Temple bombing and my subsequent trial had been broadcasted all over the HoloNet. The negative publicity for the Order had been one of the reasons why the Council had determined to cut ties with me, with public opinion for the war – and subsequently the Jedi – being at an all-time low as it was. They couldn’t afford the appearance of favoritism with an internal investigation, and so I was expelled and tried by a military tribunal. There, all the eyes of the Republic were able to see and judge my case even before the evidence was presented one way or another.

    But not for Dex, never for Dex - I knew that, even without him saying a word out loud. Of course he would have followed my case closely, but he never would have believed me guilty. He never would have believed me guilty, but the Council doubted me and let Admiral Tarkin -

    - but no. No. I need to stop thinking like that. If I don’t let my hurt and resentment go, they’ll only crush me in the end.

    I must have looked as if I’d shatter with a single word. I clutched both of my hands over the strap of my pack - a pack Dex glanced at and instantly understood the purpose of - to keep myself from trembling, and blinked my eyes to clear my vision of moisture. But before I could manage even a wobbling: “Heya, Dexter,” in greeting, he’d walked out from behind the counter and four strong arms wrapped around me, nearly lifting me from the floor in a fierce embrace. I blinked for a moment, surprised and unsure of how to react. I was okay, I wanted to protest; both pride and instinct told me to stand so, so strong on my own two feet. I didn’t need him to bolster me, not like this, just as a Jedi didn’t need tangible, physical assurance that everything was going to be okay.

    . . . but I wasn’t a Jedi . . . not anymore. So, instead of protesting (pretending), I buried my face against Dex's broad chest and drew in a shuddering breath through my suddenly struggling lungs. I wrapped both my arms around as much of him as I could in reply, and just let him hold me. Tears formed in my eyes, but didn’t fall – not quite. Everything still felt so unreal, and I was just so tired; too tired for grief.

    It was a long moment before Dex let me go, and even then his two primary hands rested on my shoulders and comfortingly squeezed. He only stepped back completely once he was sure that I was steady enough for his liking – and, in some small way, I did feel more grounded for that moment of shared empathy and consolation. Following, he didn’t bother asking me how I was doing – one look at my face, the dim color of my markings and the despondent weight of my lekku, was more than enough for him. Instead, he sat me down at the counter and went about whipping up a hearty serving of nerf steak and gartro eggs without me asking. Looking at the size of the portion – he easily could have fed a Wookiee or three with that plate – I wanted to protest. I wasn’t that hungry, I tried to convince him, and the thought of food still didn’t sit right with me. But he wouldn’t hear a word to the contrary once his mind was set.

    No matter my protests, I ended up cleaning my plate. It’d been days since I had a real meal, and my body, at least, was famished, even if my stomach still felt like it was full of stones. And, a part of me was still practical enough to acknowledge, I wasn’t wholly sure when I’d be able to eat this well – or to my full – again. I needed to take advantage of what I could get, when I could get it, now.

    Even so, I didn’t want charity. I went to pay Dex out of my parting funds, but he brushed my attempts aside and wouldn’t hear anything more on the matter. He then offered me the cot in the storage room to pass the rest of the night on, and invited me to get some sleep before figuring out my next move. Deep down, I wanted to take his offer, but I didn’t want to be an imposition. Yet after a look that suggested that I’d be insulting his hospitality if I protested any further, I accepted.

    I hardly remember doing more than washing my face for the night, and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out cold, boots and cloak still on and all.

    Yet I wasn’t wholly able to get the sleep I needed. In the end, only scant hours passed before I was awakened by sounds from the kitchen – the early early morning crowd had arrived. My montrals pinged with the clamor, already more sensitive to sound than the norm due to my brief stint on the run. My senses were still on edge, and not quite ready to allow me to relax enough to truly rest. Even so, I tried to tune the ruckus out and go back to sleep – glancing at my chrono, it’d only been about four hours since I’d arrived, and I was exhausted – but just after I buried my montrals against my folded arms to muffle my hearing, there was a soft knock at the door of the storeroom. I cracked one eye open when a large shadow moved to block out the light that was suddenly visible from the kitchen beyond, and squinted to make sense of what was happening.

    “Sorry to disturb ya, lass,” Dex rumbled, deep in his chest, “but you have a visitor awaitin’. I didn’t think you’d wanna sleep through that.”

    Years of battle readiness had me snapping upright, and I was instantly awake, my fatigue forgotten. Something sharp and hot pierced through my chest, even as I said, “I really don’t want to see Anakin right now.” What’s more than that . . . I didn’t know that I could, even if I wanted to. I was barely holding myself together as it was.

    Dex leveled me with a considering look. “It’s not Skywalker who’s lookin’ for ya.”

    Ridiculously, knowing that Anakin wasn’t there caused a pang of its own – different in shape, but still just as cutting. I fought the urge to roll my eyes, frustrated with my contrary emotions, before my look sharpened into a glare. I could feel the tips of my teeth flash. If it was Master Plo, then, or Master Obi-Wan -

    “ - instead, you have a blonde a callin’,” the wide corner of Dex’s mouth stretched in a somewhat droll smile. “And he brought his brothers.”

    My brow furrowed; it took just a moment for me to understand. Who -

    - but oh . . . oh.

    Just like that, everything I was giving up by leaving the Jedi Order – everything and everyone – came crashing down on me with all the force of a droid popper detonating before I was able to clear its range. For a moment, it was hard to breathe underneath the enormity of just what I was giving up - not just my life as I'd known it, my childhood friends and my mentors and Anakin, but -

    . . . my men . . . the 501st, and the clones of Torrent Company in particular. With leaving the Jedi Order, I was choosing to let them go, too. I no longer held any rank or privileges within the GAR, and that meant that they'd have to fight the war without me. I was leaving them to carry on alone.

    For some reason, that thought hurt as much as surrendering my lightsabers and Padawan beads. Bizarrely, I felt like I was losing a piece of myself. Though I had tried not to, everything that was Togruta about my psyche had folded my men into the clan of my heart – it was difficult, away from the structures and the strictures of the Temple to remember the tenants about nonpartiality and attachment. And I wasn’t attached, I usually protested to assuage my own guilt over toying with that fine line of stepping beyond compassion – I was prepared to give my men up, after all. In two years on the front-lines I'd lost so many of them, but still kept on fighting regardless. Yet the fact of the matter remained that the sentient mind had its own ways of dealing with the rigors of war; war forged bonds that times of peace wouldn’t see borne otherwise, and, for those bonds to be anchored in so deep while I myself was still growing . . .

    . . . my men were a part of me now; they always would be, no matter how far a distance there was between us. I’m not sure if that counted as me failing as a Jedi, but the alternative – to hold myself aloof while men the Republic had commissioned and purchased and owned lived and died at our command . . .

    My headache was only getting worse as my thoughts spun, and the Force seemed further away from my grasp than ever before. Nothing about this, my instincts could all agree, at least, was right; everything was out of balance.

    “Should I send them away?” Dex allowed me a moment to collect myself before asking. If I wasn't up for seeing them, I knew he would.

    “No,” I shook my head. “They deserve to hear this from me; they’ll not have had an explanation yet. Anakin . . .” Anakin would have come back in a temper, ready to fight, I cringed to imagine, and the men would have no idea why. He wouldn't be able to properly explain my leaving to them, not yet - if ever.

    “Alright then," Dex inclined his head, "when you’re ready.”

    I drew in a deep breath, and tried to find my center as I nodded once, shallow and sharp. “I’ll be right there – thanks for waking me,” I told Dex, and, kindly, he left in order to give me a moment to compose myself.

    There wasn’t any time for a full session of meditation just then – and what a strange few days it’d been if I wanted to take the time to meditate and settle my thoughts. I’d never had the best spiritual habits, even as an initiate - it's one of the reasons I'd gone unclaimed as a Padawan for so long, and having Anakin as my Master had never quite checked me in that regard. But I did close my eyes and reach out to the Force to settle my emotions. It was still difficult, opening myself up to its presence and trusting it to answer me in return. Even so, I tried to give away my misery and my hurt and my anger, but there was so much of it. If I let those emotions go completely, I didn’t know how much of myself would be left in the end. The more I tried to relinquish my negative emotions, the more I only felt lost and confused, and that, I most definitely needed to squash before going out to face my men. I needed to be strong and levelheaded to explain why I was going my separate way. They deserved that much of me, at least, before I said my goodbyes.

    . . . before I said my goodbyes . . . I still can’t wholly wrap my mind around the necessity of my parting. It was hard to think that, just days ago, I’d been aboard the Resolute above Cato Neimoidia, helping plan the assault on the planet below. I’d been drinking weak caf and laughing with the men as they freshened their paint and checked their gear, ready and eager and glad to share in the near tangible zest for war that always bound the vod’e together before a battle. I’d bantered with my Master as we parted ways in the hangar, and patted Artoo on the dome to tell him to keep Anakin safe during the furball that was to come – Anakin was much too reckless otherwise, and he needed someone to watch his six, but now -

    - now, who was going to look out for Anakin on the field? Who was going to check his recklessness, and curb his more daring plans, and made sure he found a reason to smile, no matter what else -

    - right then; enough of that. I just need to keep breathing, deeply in, and deeply out. I couldn’t think about things like that, not just then, not if I wanted to maintain any sort of composure.

    Instead, I steeled myself the same as I would before drawing my sabers. Though it was tenacious, at best, I found my center and my composure, and stepped out to greet my men.



    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Dex's compassion and genuine empathy besides the practical helps is just what's needed. Love her musings on the warriors she has fought beside and for. @};- Of course bonds of caring and loyalty would be forged and strong, and it's heart-wrenching to think of giving up not just comrades-in-arms but genuine friends. You know they would be in her corner unconditionally, but the entire logistics of the situation makes choices and paths hard to manage.

    =D=
     
  9. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    The first scene was absolutely brilliant with the subtle balance between the child and the war veteran. Of course she would seek out a familiar, kind face away from it all, and Dex is just that. And her finally breaking down in tears was just so heartbreaking - it really hits just how young she is. But she is also so old and so wise in ways that this line totally exemplifies.

    She really is beyond her years, which is heartbreaking in it's own way.

    Then her men! Of course they came!
     
  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    This is off to a beautiful start, and what a wonderful choice to have Ahsoka as your diarist! Ahsoka + the trademark Mira lyricism = a truly winning combination. :ahsoka: @};- I've been looking forward to this ever since you first mentioned your plans to write about her, I can only echo everyone else in saying how much I love the voice you've given her—even (especially) at this critical period of her life and career when her voice is very close to being taken away from her.

    Entry I: Wow. Ahsoka's only 16, and look at all she's been through: battlefield command (the padawans-as-commanders business always felt a little funny to me), treason accusations and trials, betrayal, imprisonment. I can't even imagine how all this must feel to Ahsoka—or, well, I can now, because you've portrayed it so grippingly here: to be framed and betrayed by someone she thought was a friend, then to be hauled before the mentors she loves and admires in order to be treated by them like a violent criminal, to feel that they can (or wish to) no longer help her. And feeling all that "cornered Loth-wolf" anger pouring through the Force from Anakin, along with the general helplessness from Obi-Wan, can't have made things any easier for Ahsoka; the Jedi ability to sense emotions can truly be as much a curse as a blessing. Now, homeless and alone, she feels as though she doesn't belong anywhere—not with the Jedi and not with her home clan. With all that disappointment desperation loss she almost gives up on the Force itself—but I love the way she comes to the realization, right at that critical moment of doubt, that the Force is something within her, not something external that the Jedi Order bestows upon her. And I love it, because that is such an Ahsoka realization, very in keeping with the unique relationship to the Force we know she has. Plus, from a more practical standpoint, it is her catalyst for beginning to figure out her next steps, now that she's been turned loose in the ecumenopolis with no lightsabers and no padawan beads, only her name and a few credits. Whatever else may happen, Ahsoka is a woman of decision and action who I know will not succumb to momentary feelings of despair and self-doubt!

    Entry II: Aw, Dex! [face_dancing] What. A. Dear. There is no better person for Ahsoka to turn to at this critical moment, not only because of Dex's history of friendship with Obi and Anakin but also because of his general lovableness and compassion. She barely has to say anything; he understands what's going on, and exactly what she needs, as soon as he sees her. And WHAT A HUG! [face_love] I could see where someone like Ahsoka, who's accustomed herself to being so doggedly self-reliant, is going to first be a bit stymied or even a little put off by that sort of gesture. But even the hug becomes a moment of realization for her: it's OK for her to cry, it's OK for her to lean on others, she doesn't always have to stand "so, so strong on [her] own two feet." And another realization comes when she finds out that her men, her own clone troopers of the 501st, have come calling for her (I love that your AU allows that to happen). Leaving the Jedi Order was one thing, but leaving her comrades-in-arms is another, because war really does "forge bonds that times of peace wouldn’t see borne otherwise." Her whole situation takes on an added dimension with them in the picture, and it's not going to be an easy thing for her to explain everything to them—but she's never been one to back down from a difficult situation. I can't wait to see what they will say to each other, and what the next step may be for both sides! And I love that whatever happens, the compassionate presence of Dex will be there, hovering in the background, there if needed. @};-

    Really looking forward to seeing how Ahsoka's journey will unfold—keep up the truly fantastic work! =D=
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  11. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    The entire logistics of Ahsoka's situation were just awful, it's so true! :( Due to the way she lived her life, to cut ties and start over essentially meant from everyone - even those who were well-meaning and trying their best to help. I can only imagine how devastating that was for her character! Anyway, it's certainly interesting, imagining what happened to the teenager parting ways in TCW to make her the Ahsoka of Rebels - or in my Song-verse, a little down the line. ;) [face_love]

    Thank you so much for reading, as always! [:D]


    Thank you so much! It's tricky, writing a character who is so young in years, but at the same time has lived through and seen so much. She's not going to have a typical 'teenage' voice, but she is a teenager, and it's a balancing act when writing her introspection, that's for sure! Honestly, it's not a pretty picture when you can simplify the 'good guys' in the Clone Wars as a bunch of wizards and child-soldiers leading an army of lab-born slaves due to the machinations of one very evil wizard . . . but that's kinda what it was, in its simplest terms, and that leaves a whole lot of interesting fall-out to play with as a result. [face_thinking]

    Of course they did! She's their Jedi and they aren't letting go just yet. [face_love]


    Aw, thank-you! [face_love] I've been looking forward to writing this for such a very long time too, and I am so very thrilled to have you along for the ride. :D [:D]

    I know, right?? It really is crazy when you think of everything she's been through by age sixteen - I'm with you for not at all approving of the padawans-as-commanders idea. The Jedi were peacekeepers and they had no idea, or even practical training, for how to be soldiers. To put children in charge of men who were quite literally purchased and created to fight and die for them is just something that . . . well, it doesn't seem like the mark of a side that has the moral high-ground in a war, to put it lightly. [face_plain] There's a reason why Padawans like Barriss snapped - and others like Ahsoka and Caleb left the war with so many psychological scars to work through and deal with, each in their own way. :(

    And the Jedi empathy is definitely a two-edged sword here! Her loss - and the Council's poorly played hand in her case - certainly sets Anakin up for the events of RoTS and gives his turning to the Dark Side an extra layer, in my book. Of course he is so ready to fight the Council, and eager to protect his wife and child after failing Ahsoka. Feeling his turmoil, on top of going through her own pains, could only be described as world shattering - and that's even before figuring out the practical aspects of just day to day living from here on out! But the Force is still with her, and she will figure it out from here. [face_love]

    I just adore Dex to pieces - I think he's been trying to encourage a bit of humanity in his Jedi patrons as much as he can with the comfort food and the warmly inviting atmosphere. Since he's able, of course he's going to help out this young one too! He got to give her the hug I think we all wanted to provide at the end of Season Five! :p These strong hero types really do need to be reminded that it's okay to cry and mourn and need the comfort of others, and that's certainly what Ahsoka got here. It's a start down the very long path to healing!

    And her men are her men - she's always going to be bound to them, as much as they're refusing to give her up too, and I was so glad to write this next scene here that canon denied us. You can't tell me that something like this didn't happen - you can't. [face_mischief] ;)

    Thank-you so much for your kind words, again! I can't tell you how much I always appreciate your thoughtful reviews, and I hope that you continue to enjoy Ahsoka's tale as it unfolds. :) [face_love][:D]



    Alrighty, there will be more up in a moment! As always, I thank you all for reading, and for taking the time to leave your thoughts. I appreciate it so very much. :D [:D]
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018 at 8:31 AM
  12. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Note: Sooo, I know that I said that I was trying to rein in my word counts for this challenge, but that didn't really work for this update. I still passed 4k. :rolleyes: What can I say? There was quite a bit that needed to be said, and when I went to shorten the entry I decided that I liked every rambling word; I just couldn't edit! Don't get used to this, though. I'm trying to be a responsible author here - honest, I am. ;) Also, I'm thinking of committing to a ten-ish day updating schedule from here on out - weekly is too much in the long run, but for now I do have the plot, drive, and material to update on alternating Wednesdays and Sundays, which are usually my days off. That's the plan for now, and I'll let you guys know if that changes. :)

    As always, I thank everyone for reading and hope that you enjoy! [:D]







    Entry III
    It was still too early for the sunrise. Instead, the dark of Coruscant’s sky - which never really turned black, thanks to the constant light of the megalopolis - flushed a shade of charcoal grey to herald the oncoming dawn. No matter the early hour, the diner was already full and boisterous as the working citizens of the Industrial Sector prepared to start their day with strong caf and a hearty meal. I stayed off to the side as FLO passed from the kitchen with a full serving tray, telling myself that I just didn’t want to be a nuisance underfoot. Clearly, that was the only reason I was hesitating.

    Even amongst a populace as diverse and varied as that of CoCo Town, Captain Rex stood out. He was already kitted up in full gear for the day, even if his helmet was clipped to his belt and his arms were held loosely at his sides in as nonthreatening a pose as possible. The white of his armor was bright against the dull monotony of the coverall garbed workers, even as scuffed and dented as it was. More than one patron eyed him with a less than friendly expression, yet no one moved past looks for action; the tally marks scoring his helmet and spilling down over his pauldrons and bracers were a warning all their own, I suspected.

    Wisely, Rex was the only one who ventured into the diner. I glanced outside to see where Fives, Kix, Jesse, and Tup waited – with Fives shamelessly cupping his hands over his eyes and pressing his face to the window to watch for my arrival. Their almost identical appearances usually unnerved civilians, even when they were out of armor and off duty, and there were rules that governed which public spaces they could enter when in full uniform. A civilian diner in the middle of its morning rush was definitely not an approved space for an armored clone trooper.

    Yet, there Rex stood, trying to look as casual and unobtrusive as possible and failing miserably for the lines of tension I could clearly see banding his body. No matter the militant rigidity of his posture, he was a swirl of fierce energy to my senses, the likes of which I usually only felt just moments before charging into a battle. His brow was furrowed, and his jaw was tight.

    But his eyes, at least, brightened to see me. “Commander,” relief filled his voice, before hesitation set in. “Sir,” he amended his address – but that wasn’t right either. Not anymore. “Ma’am,” he settled on awkwardly, and then closed his eyes as if to berate himself for how smoothly that went. Yep - what a way to work around the rancor in the room, Rexter.

    So I decided to give him a hand – his clear case of nerves, at least, had a curious way of calming my own. “You can call me Ahsoka, you know,” I offered, only somewhat awkwardly. “I promise you that my name doesn’t bite.”

    Rex didn't look like he believed me, his expression was telling enough. But he let the matter go in favor of getting straight to the point with a soldier’s precision. “General Skywalker said that you refused to come back to us.” It was a statement, but I could hear a question in his words loud and clear. I didn’t much care for his phrasing in the slightest.

    “Did he now?” I returned, my voice cooling. Anakin’s scant explanation made it sound like this was all my choice – something easily avoidable and even petulant, when, really, my decision to leave the Order was the furthest from.

    “That’s all he would say,” carefully, Rex added. “We were hoping to hear the whole of the matter from you.” The question was still there – but it was softer now, with more disbelief and incredulity than bitterness and accusation, and that . . . well, that I couldn’t blame him for.

    “Come on, then,” I gave him a tired, sad attempt for a smile as I gestured to the door. “Fives is going to burst out of his skin if we draw this out, and I don’t want to cause a scene for Dex. I’ll talk to everyone together.”

    Rex gave a sharp nod in acknowledgement, and habit had him drifting to my left to follow a step behind me, as if to cover my weak side. Something in my chest tightened at the familiarity of the action, making it hard to breathe.

    As soon as we stepped outside, I hardly had a moment to blink before I was surrounded by a circle of white armor and concerned expressions. “Commander” and “sir” greeted my montrals - no one else stumbled over what to call me. No matter the official line, the 501st was still determined to claim me for their own, it seemed. “Are you alright? What happened?”

    “Please, at ease,” I was a bit overwhelmed as they spoke all at once. “I’m not your commander anymore, so you don’t have to call me that.”

    That would take some time to sink in, I saw. Five identical pairs of eyes narrowed in cool distaste, and I felt each gaze for the blow it was. Jesse was the first to scoff outright, and ignore me completely. “Commander,” he said with emphasis, “with all due respect, we do not at all understand what’s going on.”

    It was Fives who went on to explain next, “We watched your trial on the ‘net, sir, but the reports were obviously all sensationalized strille-osik. The general was gone trying to clear your name, and he didn’t have time to keep us informed. The higher-ups said that anything more than the news on the ‘net was considered need to know.” Yet, there he hesitated, unsure of how to conclude. “And we didn’t . . . ”

    “We weren’t in the need to know,” Rex dryly finished for the ARC-trooper.

    With that, all five went silent and looked to me for answers. I had the sneaking suspicion that they wanted me to tell them that Anakin was wrong, that this was all some big mistake or a silly misunderstanding. They wanted me to come back with them and carry on as if this entire mess had never happened.

    . . . but it had happened. How could I ever pretend otherwise?

    So . . . where to begin?

    “You know that I had to be expelled from the Jedi Order to allow the Republic jurisdiction in trying my case,” my voice didn’t have half off the confidence I wanted to convey. Not nearly. “And, well . . . you saw my trial on the ‘net. It was every bit as horrible as I'm sure it seemed. Yet, after Barriss’ confession, Chancellor Palpatine overturned the tribunal’s verdict and the Council invited me back to the Order. Master Windu even said that this was my true Trial; I could re-enter the ranks as a fully fledged Jedi Knight - ”

    “ - but that’s great news, sir!” Tup – dear Tup, brightened to say. How he held onto so much quiet optimism - almost innocently so, after experiencing the darker parts of the war was anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t see that changed for anything. “Isn’t that great news?” he glanced around, and clearly hesitated when his enthusiasm was not shared. “The commander is the equal of any Knight we know,” he pressed on. “She deserves the promotion!”

    “Honestly, it’s a slap in the face – that’s not how you earn your paint, on a memory like this,” Fives’ jaw was squared to disagree with the younger clone, even as he placed a gentle hand on Tup’s pauldron to soften his words. “Osi-yaim’e,” he spat the insult, “the lot of them. All helmet and no head – or heart, in this case.”

    “Fives,” Kix gave an exasperated sigh to warn, “they’re still the Jedi Council and our high command, you shouldn’t - ”

    “ - but it’s true, and you’re thinking it too. Don’t pretend you’re not, just because you’ve been told you shouldn’t,” Fives was all too vocal to return. He spun on the medic and jabbed a finger into his chest-plate to punctuate his words. “We have to look out for our own, because you know no one else will . . . usually, that just doesn’t mean from the Jedi, too.” Only then did his strong words falter. The fingers of his opposite hand curled into a fist, and I knew that he was thinking of Echo, then - of Umbara too. For that, there was nothing I could ever possibly say to make things right.

    At the hard looks that passed between my men, I had to swallow. Fives . . . he wasn’t wholly in the wrong; his discontent managed to match up with some of my own concerns, even. Unwittingly, Barriss’ words rang in my ears as she addressed the court all at once: We’ve become the same evil that we've so long striven to conquer, she had proclaimed with such certainty. The Jedi – all of us – should be on trial today for what we've done . . . and what we've stood so passively by to allow. We are no longer the heroes in this story; we are no better than the villains we once swore to fight, and no one else can see it but me.

    Barriss was a healer – I knew that she took the worst parts of the war to heart in the most painful of ways. How many men had died with their heads in her lap as she tried in vain to will their broken bodies back together with nothing more than her spirit and determination? But she’d always seemed so much higher than her earthly emotions; she was always so poised and dutiful and in no way attached to the corporeal world that we so shortly occupied. Her gaze was wholly focused on the Force. I could never have imagined it possible for the Dark to take root within her and move her to -

    . . . well, she was my friend. I never should have had to imagine that she was capable of something this heinous. She wasn’t even wholly alone in her thinking – to some extent, at least. Most every Jedi who fought alongside a battalion, or saw the carnage done to peaceful systems in the name of keeping the Republic whole could empathize with her misgivings. I knew how much the role of general tugged on my own Master, even; if anyone understood the yoke of enforced servitude because credits traded hands for the life of a sentient being, it was him. But, what else was there to be done? There was a war to be fought, and an army was needed to fight that war. The army we led had been born and raised for that specific purpose; most of the clones themselves couldn’t imagine doing anything else with their lives, even. Generals were then needed for the army, and so, by duty the Jedi were called to serve.

    Yet . . .

    There was a throbbing pain in my montrals; I could feel the Force move around me in slow, murky waves. It was trying to tell me something, but the same as was all too often true as of late, I couldn’t understand anything of what it was trying to say. I couldn’t even make out a whisper.

    “I can’t come back to the Jedi – and the GAR by extension,” I finally broke the silence to explain, as simply as I could. “Nothing feels right in the Force, about any of this. I won’t find a clear path unless I distance myself from both to figure out what it’s trying to tell me.”

    They were terrible words to say aloud - I wanted to take them back and keep them locked away in the deepest parts of me . . . but they were the truth, no matter how painful. That was the truth, even if I’d lived the last two years of my life directly to the contrary. It was a sour admission to swallow.

    Yet that much, at least, my men understood. They didn’t still understand why, of course, no matter that they were trying - but they understood that I’d made a decision. From there, they’d honor my wishes. In their own way, the vod’e respected autonomy more than most sentients in the galaxy, and they wouldn’t try to change my course.

    “There’s not anything we can say to change your mind, is there?” Rex asked. It was the furthest he would go in an attempt to sway me.

    Sadly, the corner of my mouth stretched. “I’m afraid not, Rex.”

    “Thought as much.” Crisply, he nodded, and that was that.

    . . . that was that.

    A hundred words seemed to well up in my throat then. Now that we were going our separate ways, there was so much I wanted to say to explain just how much they meant to me – each and every one of them, uniquely alone. My two years serving on the front-lines with the 501st had shaped me as surely as my fourteen years had at the Temple prior, and it was daunting, imagining the void in my life going forward. I didn’t want to give them up as surely as I didn’t want to give up my lightsabers or Anakin. They were a part of me; I still couldn't wholly comprehend turning my separate way from here on out.

    Even with a few scant hours spent away from the Jedi Order, it was easier to acknowledge how deeply I'd let my heart invest itself in this battalion, but only just. Admitting to some level of attachment didn’t take away the sting of letting them go, I found – not nearly.

    When it became apparent that I wouldn’t – couldn’t – say anything more just yet, Rex took a brave step forward from his men. “Ma’am - Commander,” he firmly corrected himself, “it’s a dangerous galaxy out there, especially now, and you’re choosing to go it alone.” For that he paused, and had to collect himself – for a clone, I could imagine few things as daunting as solitude, even if by choice. “But if you ever need anything, know that we will - ”

    . . . but I watched where his words faltered, and he caught himself. Fives even snorted outright – a bitter, mean sound. No, I knew with a sinking feeling, they had no choice in where they went or how; if I ever called in their support, as he was trying to offer, coming to stand at my side would not be their decision to make.

    Even so, Rex steeled his jaw and tried again. “If you ever need backup, we’ll be there for you,” he promised, his every word punctuated with meaning. “All you have to do is say the word, and we’ll come. I can only speak for myself, but - ”

    “ - no,” Fives stepped forward to clap a hand over his captain’s shoulder, “I will too.”

    Jesse was the next to sharply nod his head. “The same goes for me.”

    “And me,” Kix vowed without hesitation, his words blending in with Jesse’s.

    Tup looked up with wide eyes for the magnitude of their words, but even he managed an “of course” that was grave with certainty. There would be no swaying them from this.

    For the enormity of their gesture, I found my eyes burning again. I knew what they were implying – desertion and treason, with the penalty of reconditioning or worse if their pledge was ever turned into action. But they were willing to promise that much for me, just to make sure that I knew that I wasn’t alone in the galaxy – not really.

    It was, so far, more than anyone else in my life had done for me.

    I didn’t have any words to properly acknowledge the gravity of their gift. Instead I just stared at them, solemn and quiet as I processed their support. Clone troopers, I knew from experience, did not dedicate themselves to a vow halfheartedly – it quite literally wasn’t in their blood, and I understood the scope of the power they had chosen to entrust to me. I accepted their promise, even as I decided to never call it in. I would find any other way to take care of myself.

    “Thank you,” was all I said, low and throaty in answer, but it was enough.

    There wasn’t much time for more words anyway, I understood when a ping sounded from Rex’s wrist-comm. No doubt, Anakin was eager to leave Coruscant behind, and was ready to deploy.

    But my men were soldiers, in that regard. Practically, they wouldn’t waste any time.

    “Here, Commander, I want you to take this with you,” Jesse held out a ream of flimsi that was sewn together with his own hand and protected with a few hard pieces of scrap plastoid. His sketchbook, I recognized. “It's just a little bit for you to remember us by.” Within, I knew that he'd drawn most of the battalion – he’d even shown us the portraits he’d done of Anakin and myself before. He had a real talent for his art, and I understood just how personal his gift was. It was too personal for me to dishonor with an attempt to dissuade him.

    Instead, it seemed only fitting to lift myself up on the tips of my toes so that I could properly wrap my arms around his neck in answer. “Thank-you, Jesse,” I closed my eyes and felt a brief moment where he fondly, if somewhat awkwardly, returned my embrace – patting my shoulders more so than my back in an attempt not to disturb my lekku, and then he let me go.

    Always standing at Jesse’s side, Kix was waiting next. He didn’t have anything to give me, but he opened his arms to allow me to duck into his space next. He held me for just a moment, and grumbled about me taking care of myself when he wasn’t there to remind me – and that included remembering that my body survived on proper food and rest, not just the Force alone. But Kix wouldn’t be Kix if he wasn’t constantly mother-henning someone. Anakin, I could only imagine, would be getting an earful from the medic in the months to come as he stepped in to make up for my loss.

    Good, I thought. I took a small measure of comfort in knowing that.

    “You keep on looking after these guys,” I told him warmly, trying to ignore just how difficult it was to find my words. “And keep studying! The war will be over eventually, and then there are exams to enter medical school. Some university out there is going to be lucky to have you - I know you’ll do us proud.”

    Kix bowed his head to hide the way his cheeks colored, but I knew how much this meant to him – the idea of more beyond the front-lines, and I had to cling to that idea for him too. Otherwise, all of this was for nothing – just as Barriss had said. I squeezed his shoulders one last time, and then turned to Tup.

    The Force was pressing against me in quiet, mourning waves, and I closed my eyes against the premonition – clear, even through the fog that so thoroughly covered my senses as of late. No, I thought, not him – please not him. I had no idea if the ambient power would heed my wishes, but at the very least it heard me. Something deep inside of my heart twisted in foreboding, and I had to swallow against a mounting feeling of dread.

    “Don’t forget yourself,” I whispered to Tup as I wrapped my arms around him and held on tight. I clung to him as if I could keep him grounded through the strength of my will alone. I didn’t exactly know why the Force was pushing me to say those words, but it was insistent about this. “You’re a breathe of fresh air in this war, and your brothers need you; Anakin needs you too. Don’t forget them, no matter what happens.”

    Tup looked puzzled when I drew away, but he nodded emphatically. “Of course, Commander,” he agreed. “Always.”

    “Good,” I tried to smile, but the expression was forced. “Good.”

    But my attention was divided when Fives boldly stepped up next and held out a hilted weapon not quite unlike my lightsabers. His vibroblade, I recognized. “Here, sir,” he insisted. “It’s not quite the length of your shoto, and the balance is different from what you’re used to, but it should do in a pinch. If you’re not going to have us at your back, then you’re at least going to be protected.”

    Even as he spoke, he was peeling off his right vambrace, and for that I held my hands up to refuse. I knew that the clones traded armor as a sign of affection and that piece belonged to Echo – that piece had belonged to Echo. It was still his paint; his design; his memory. I wouldn’t take one of the only physical reminders he had of his batcher. I wouldn’t.

    “Fives,” I protested, “that’s too much. I can’t - ”

    “ - I don’t need a piece of plastoid to remember Echo,” Fives softly, but firmly sidestepped my concerns. “And he’d want you protected as much as I do – you have to know how much he cared about you. Please, sir, take it.”

    Alright then . . . there wasn’t a way to turn him down with any sort of grace. Instead, I accepted the piece of armor, and held it close – I’d need to modify it to fit my arms, my mind was already working the problem, but maybe there was some wisdom to an extra layer of protection, especially out there on my own. It wasn’t a wholly bad idea.

    I had to initiate contact with the others, but it was Fives who swept me into an embrace without waiting for me to approach him. “Haran, sir,” he huffed, “you’re getting too tall. I almost don’t know where to put my arms.” But he figured it out as he slipped his hands underneath my back head-tail and even picked me up off my feet to spin me around.

    I rolled my eyes in fondness, even as something told me to hold on tighter. The Force whispered about finality and last times, and I swallowed, refusing to acknowledge my premonitions – just as I had with Tup. I didn’t want to let him go.

    “You be careful out there,” was all that I could say as to that last whisper of knowing. “I expect to see you alive and well the next time we meet.” The future, at least, was never absolute, and I clung to that truth. His path could still change.

    “Of course,” Fives cocked a confident grin. “When am I not?”

    A look was enough to answer that, even as I turned to Rex last. It was hard to remember my concerns about Tup and Fives, in all honesty, when my captain was standing there waiting, and I had to say goodbye.

    Composure; right then – if I could say goodbye to Anakin, then I was strong enough do this too. I could.

    Gruffly, Rex held out a hand to offer me a white plated wrist-comm - the sort that our scouts used to communicate at interplanetary distances with short, recorded messages rather than active holograms when needed. If he brought this along, he must have already accepted my leaving even before trying to convince me otherwise. He understood the path I was determined to take.

    “I’ll send you our coordinates as we move, and keep you updated with codes for the comm channels as they change. Try and let us know your whereabouts, too – someone should know where in the galaxy you are. The general, he won’t ask, but . . .”

    Anakin would feel better if someone was keeping tabs on me, I knew. His pride would never let him admit it aloud, but he would have some semblance of peace knowing that Rex knew where I was, at least. That little bit, I decided after a moment, I could do.

    “Thank-you,” I whispered, and held the comm next to my new vambrace and vibroblade. Looking down at my collection, Rex spared just a moment of thought before going to pop the pressure seals on his own armor. I blinked, understanding then that he meant for me to have a complete set.

    Yet . . . “Rex – your tallies,” just like with Fives, I couldn't immediately accept his gift. “I don’t want you to - ”

    “ - they’ll be good reminders for you then. These are your victories too,” he shrugged. “Honestly, sir, if we knew it was possible to put some sense into your wardrobe this way, we would’ve done it ages ago.”

    And that was a familiar argument. “I’ve told you before,” I grumbled, “armor is -

    “ - too bulky for a Jedi to move in, I know,” Rex rolled his eyes. “But better inconvenienced than dead, in my book.”

    “I don’t know,” I quipped, “I made it this far, haven’t I?”

    Rex raised a brow, little convinced. Clearly, he thought that dumb luck played a huge factor in that statistic. Yet: “I suppose you have, sir,” he acknowledged, and something about his expression softened.

    Maneuvering the bulk of my gifts with my left arm, I moved forward to stand on the tips of my toes and wrap my opposite arm around his neck in a lopsided hug. It was the best I could manage in the moment.

    “Take care of them,” I whispered, closing my eyes to better impress the warmth and scent and feel that was Rex to my senses. “Look out for Anakin, too . . . he’s hurting right now, though he’ll never say.” I hurt him, I knew, and I had to fight off a stinging sensation in my chest for that knowledge. Anakin never did take even the premise of abandonment well. He held on with both hands to the things he loved, and refused to let go.

    “I’ve got them, Commander, don’t you worry,” his words were a soft vibration against my montrals. “You just take care of yourself now.” He was uncertain at first – awkward even as I hugged him, but instinct kicked in a moment later as he wrapped his arms around me. Comfortingly, he squeezed, and it felt good – safe even, just to rest there for a moment, so much so that when he drew away I felt bereft and cold in the pre-dawn air. Humans gave off so much body-heat, I grumped to myself, thinking that was all it was – it almost wasn’t fair sometimes.

    But the moment was over as quickly as it began – there was another ping at his wrist-comm just then, and Lieutenant Appo’s voice rose to accompany the message, warning that Anakin was getting restless. He was ready to deploy, and starting to ask questions about their whereabouts. The Resolute was already in position to receive them.

    Well then . . . this was it.

    “Goodbye,” I said one last time as they all returned their helmets to their heads. One by one they turned away after giving their own farewells. I locked eyes with Fives as he saluted and winked, and then Rex was the last one to go, waiting as long as he could before donning his own bucket and turning to lead his men. “May the Force be with you.”

    An empty feeling filled me as they winked away, out of sight on the already busy walkways, and a sad, trilling noise in my own language made its way from my mouth as I sighed. As I turned back into the diner, the first rays of the sunrise just started to crest the spires overhead. The day was beginning, and it was time to start over.





    Strill(e)
    : A rather smelly, ugly, but highly intelligent carnivorous mammal. They're off-putting to most sentients, but Mandalorians admire their ferocity, protectiveness, and hunting instincts. Mandalorian handlers tend to form life-long attachments with their strill.

    Osik: Dung

    Haran: Hell

    Osi-yaim'e: Useless, despicable person(s)

    Vod'e: Sibling(s) - Mando'a as a language is gender neutral, as, in the EU more so than Disney Canon, the Mandalorians were very diverse and inclusive to all species thanks to their conquering history, so having a language that adhered to a binary system of pronouns was ineffective, to say the least.


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018 at 11:21 AM
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Lovely how each has their own personality and gifts: Tup with his optimism and Kix for healing, Jesse with art. :cool: Their gifts and fond farewells ... =D= [face_love] I am so glad she has a way for them to keep mutually apprised of the other's whereabouts, etc. And it is not lost on me at all the magnitude of the vow of support they gave. They'd be like Larone's bunch in less than a minute. :D
     
    AzureAngel2 and Findswoman like this.
  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    HER MEN! [face_dancing] What a dear, beautiful scene, so full of heart on both Ahsoka’s side and the clones’. Wow, is it my imagination, or are these guys showing more care and concern for her than the Jedi Order ever did? :eek: Quite possibly! They’re immediately aware that things have changed between her and them; even the little things in their interaction, like the uncertainty whether to use “Commander,” “Sir” (whoa, really! :p ), “Ma’am,” or just her name, show that. They’re also showing more tolerance and acceptance of her decision to leave the Order than the order itself did. Naturally her decision saddens them, and naturally it’s beyond their understanding in some way, but they do respect her decision as their vod, and the moment where they unanimously, one by one, offer Ahsoka their continued support—that was just stupendous, especially given the implications and the very real risks. Though at the same time it’s no less than I’d expect from these fellows; their young commander is by now as much a part of them as they are of her, and that really comes through in this scene. [face_love] I love her parting moments with each of the men, and the gifts that they offer that are each so them, so individual: whether a caring hug, a word of mother-avian advice (yep, that’s Kix all right!), a piece of weaponry (which of course made me think of the Lasat custom of relinquishing one’s weapon to the victor—yes, completely unrelated, I know :p ), or Jesse’s sketchbook, which is truly a wonderful, one-of-a-kind keepsake. Wonderful all around. @};-

    So yes, “this is it,” for now at least—but because this is a Mira story and all ( :D ) I can’t help but wonder if later in this story Ahsoka is going to have recourse to calling on these old friends of hers once again…! [face_thinking] As always, very much looking forward to seeing what’s next for Ahsoka in this new, “unvoiced" phase of her life.
     
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    After so many wonderful and precise comments there is almost nothing left to say. The "camaraderie" that is still going on between Asoka and her former men is very touching to witness. So much loyalty.

    I bet this is were mean, old Palps went wrong. The power and character of an individual, the loyalty it can feel towards another being.

    This is why some clones did not follow order 66.
     
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  16. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Argh, stupid boards. A double post after taking ages!
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018 at 9:32 AM