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Saga - PT [DDC 2018] "Even Without a Voice", Ahsoka Tano Diary, Song!verse - New Updates!

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

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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. ;)

    July 2019: After an unintentional half year hiatus this story is back with new updates! Hopefully keeping to the DDC update schedule through the latter half of this year - unofficially, of course! - will help me give this story the love and attention it so deserves! [face_love]

    Then, 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 ato 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 that this is an attempt to try and make sense of everything that has happened to me, as best I can. To reach that end, though, where do I even begin?

    I guess I can start with the beginning. 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 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 Master Obi-Wan still does, even. 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 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 . . . that, especially, I still can’t wrap my mind around. Everything about the last few days feels so surreal, like something from a dream. 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. The opinion of the Senate was secondary. 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 loss 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 such monstrous, awful 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 look down on me in judgment moved something within me. Something essential has shifted, deep inside, and I don't have the faintest idea of how to move 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; just the same, Master Obi-Wan’s jaw was tight and his face was set in stone. No matter the image he tried to project, I could feel his helplessness panic horror echo 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, not when they were only 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 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's never been before. I can go anywhere, and 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 as best as I can, 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 pall of black storm clouds. 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, somewhere, if I could just orient myself to its presence. Whenever I do manage to find the time and discipline to meditate, the brightness and purity I've long experienced when reaching out with my immaterial senses have faded, and they're 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 clarity, even if 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 too judge me for refusing to return to the Order that 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 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 to become in the first place. 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 patronage 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 with my own hand. 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 the Order would give to any Jedi forsaking their vows. That, I know I have to make smart 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 fell 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 is going to for me from here on out.

    Alright then. 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. Right?

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

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    Chyntuck, Kahara, CaraJinn and 4 others like this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    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 Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    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 Chosen One star 6

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

    ThisIsMe1138 Chosen One star 6

    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 (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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 (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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 warm meal waiting for them at Dex’s Diner. Master Kenobi started patronizing the diner when he himself was 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 had been born on those stools: like the one time when Senator Amidala managed to join us, and Anakin relaxed to the point where I was reminded that my Master wasn’t really much older than I was, 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. 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, really. 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 remembered belonging and contentment that drew me now. Or, if I'm being completely honest, 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. When I entered, FLO, the WA-7 service droid, was wiping down the tables and putting up chairs for the night. Only a few regulars were in the back, finishing up their meals before the second midnight shift began at the yards. The diner would only close for a few hours before opening early to cater to the next shift change. 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, her optical sensors flashing 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. 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 with a sort of vicious glee by the newscasters. 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. 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. 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.

    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 yet 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, I could well imagine, 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 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 morning crowd had arrived. My montrals pinged for the clamor, already more than usually sensitive to sound due to my brief stint on the run. My senses were still on edge; they wouldn't 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. I was instantly awake, my fatigue forgotten. Something sharp and hot pierced 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 sharp tips of my teeth flash. If it was Master Plo, then, or 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 with letting them go. 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 non-partiality 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. During my two years on the front-lines I'd lost so many of them, but I 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 him 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 what would be left of me. 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 goodbye.

    . . . before I said goodbye . . . 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 bitter 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 then 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? Who was going to make 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, 2019
    Chyntuck, Kahara, CaraJinn and 3 others like this.
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    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.

  9. Briannakin

    Briannakin Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    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 Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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 (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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
  12. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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 see banding his body like steel. 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 by his side. 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; he was never one to mince words. “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, or petulant, even, when 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 flashed 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 couldn't help but feel overwhelmed as they all spoke 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 don't at all understand what’s going on.”

    It was Fives who continued to say, “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 finished dryly 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 my case,” my voice didn’t have half off the confidence I first wanted to convey. Not nearly. “And, well . . . you saw my trial on the ‘net. It was every bit as horrible as 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, only to hesitate when his enthusiasm was clearly 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 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 wrong, and his discontent managed to match up with 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. 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 like this. 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. 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 surrender my lightsabers or leave Anakin behind. They were a part of me; I still couldn't wholly comprehend turning my own 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, 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.” But he paused, and had to collect himself. For a clone, I could imagine few things as daunting as solitude, even 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 vow, 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 even 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 anything 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 ready for deployment.

    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 on occasion. 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 headtail, 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 being a mother-avian. 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 lek 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.

    : 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 16, 2019
    Chyntuck, Kahara, CaraJinn and 3 others like this.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    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
  14. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    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 Chosen One star 6

    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.
  16. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Argh, stupid boards. A double post after taking ages!
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  17. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    I absolutely adore the clones of Torrent Company - well, most of the clones who were given a voice in TCW, actually, and I was so, so happy to write this scene here. Especially after seeing the trailer for Season 7 (btw: yay!!!) we know that Rex is Ahsoka's link to the 501st when she needs help in the future, so here I am to fill in the blanks in between. Oh yes they'd be like Larone's bunch in a heartbeat, you are so right! [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading, my friend, and I hope that you continue to enjoy. [:D]

    Sadly, they really are. :( The Order really was struggling with the pall of the Dark Side and made many decisions that unfortunately added to Anakin's bad life-choices in RoTS. It's a sad, sad road to watch as it unfolds! But Ahsoka and her men. You know I'm a sucker for my clones, and writing this scene was just all sorts of cathartic. [face_love]

    [face_laugh] Even the lady Jedi are referred to as sir out of respect in TCW. Honestly, I bet the entire concept of gender was a tricky one to explain to the vod'e in the first place. :p But yep - Rex was entirely out of his comfort zone here. Poor guy - I look forward to doing that a lot to him this story. [face_whistling]

    I've had this scene in mind for so long that writing it was one of my favourite things I've put to paper in a long time! I'm thrilled to hear that it resonated with you so well. [face_love]

    Yep, this is definitely a 'this is it for now.' [face_mischief] Ahsoka just needs to have her 'Jane Eyre' year of growing away and then we will definitely be bringing these characters full circle. I can't wait. [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so very much for reading! [:D]

    That is exactly where old Palps went wrong, you're too right - in the end, the light is always going to shine just because of bonds of love and loyalty, just like these. I am so happy that you are continuing to enjoy this. [face_love]

    Alrighty, more will be up in a few! :D
  18. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004

    Entry IV

    So, starting your life over? In theory, it’s a great idea. In actuality, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

    Apparently, I’m unemployable – or so I’ve been told by several different prospective employers, several different times now. In a way, I suppose I can begin to understand their dilemma. On a datasheet, my resume isn’t all that impressive. I can’t claim an education of any kind; I’ve never been to an accredited school outside of the Temple, and saying that I completed an apprenticeship with the Order is technically untrue since I never made it to knighthood. I have no practical work experience to claim, either. Oh, I’ve quite literally commanded legions, but I’ve never clocked in hours and collected a salary in return, so my endeavors with the GAR don’t really mean a thing when looking for a job outside the army. By most galactic standards, I’m still considered a minor, to boot; I’m too young to hire. So far, none of the businesses I've visited have yet to give me anything more than a passing glance.

    It’s been . . . disheartening, to say the least. If I can’t work, then I can’t buy a ship – or even book passage off Coruscant at all, which I'd gladly settle for at the moment. If I can’t work, that means no more funds, and no more funds means no options, period. I haven’t even begun to consider my course besides trying to figure out how to provide the basic-most staples of existence. The greater extensional questions such as what is my purpose now? and what do I want from life? can wait. I’ll settle with figuring out how to put a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on the table.

    In many ways, my current struggles seem so common after quite literally fighting to ensure the future of the Republic. I'd always been a part of something so much bigger than myself, and my future now seems . . . empty - empty and lacking purpose in a way that I can’t even begin to wholly put into words. I’d passed my entire life in service to a higher calling, and now my focus has centralized onto me, myself. I feel selfish, and it's a feeling I'm having a hard time resigning myself to; I don't know what else to do.

    By now, two five-days have passed and I’ve still had no luck finding a job. In the meantime, the diner has become my somewhat unofficial home. Suspiciously, but not unpredictably, the cot in the back room has turned to an honest to goodness insta-mattress, and the racks of canned goods have been shifted to give me as comfortable a living space as possible. It’s all very endearing on Dex’s part, but I don’t want to impose on his good graces for any longer than I have to. I’ve already taken to dish-washing whenever I’m not out job-hunting, in order to be useful in return – I tried scrambling eggs once, but after that fiasco Dex politely, but firmly, refused to let me near the stove again. I know that I’ve already annoyed one of the sentient waitresses, Hermione, with my free-loading, and I don’t want to be any more of a burden than I feel I already am.

    Lately, my looking for work has taken me further down the levels of Coruscant than I initially wanted to go. Closer to the planet’s theoretical surface, rules have a tendency of becoming more like suggestions and employers are more willing to overlook certain things. Yes, I needed to find a certain amount of understanding and leeway from an employer, but even the idea of working anything under the table or worse was enough to put my stomach in knots. I’d been raised to uphold the laws of the Republic, and I did want to find honest work with an honest employer. The further down you went, there was a thin, wispy line between legitimate business and that which was less so - especially with the war going on. Any war was a two-sided coin; for many, it made the cost of living difficult to even scrape by, but for those unscrupulous few who were poised to seize their opportunity, there were fortunes to be found. And with a war this massive and long-lived, the pockets it lined were deep.

    But I did have skills to offer, at the very least - I wasn’t looking for charity. Thanks to Anakin I’m a more than a passable mechanic. Though not properly certified, I can fix almost anything if I put my mind to it - and what I don’t know I tend to pick up on fast. Thankfully, a ecumenopolis like Coruscant had plenty of need for those who are handy with a hydrospanner – well, in theory, of course. My hope was to find a small garage I could help out in for a few months, and then buy my passage offworld, hopefully to a neutral system like Corellia or one of the colony worlds like Commenor, and then I’d go from there. It was a hazy plan for the future, but at least it was a start.

    In the end, what turned out being even more of an impasse than my age and empty resume - one that I didn't even pause to consider in the beginning - was the backlash of public opinion against me. I had a face that was easily recognizable, and the ‘Net hadn’t pulled any punches when plastering my picture across their headlines during the entirety of my trial. Public opinion for the war, and subsequently the Jedi, was drastically waning, and they'd jumped at a chance to report on a case that brought negative publicity to the Order. One of the first ads I answered said that they didn’t hire my kind, and I shrugged it off, thinking that they were referring to my age. Another garage flat-out said that it didn’t trust wizardry, and I ignored that too – there were plenty of people who didn’t understand the Force, and thus, didn’t want it anywhere near their lives. I couldn’t change their point of view, and I was at a place in my life where I was too tired to even try.

    Yet, when I was trying to answer an ad at a respectable garage on the mid-levels, I was surprised when a blond Human woman with hard eyes and a coarse Coruscanti accent flat out said, “This is fair comeuppance, you know. You can fool the justice system, but not me. I don’t hire anyone without a clean record – and yours doesn’t mean a thing.”

    I was so stunned that I gaped, unable to properly form a response in reply. I could feel the blood rush from my face, and my heart hammered in my chest like it did before the start of a battle. A dozen replies rushed to fill my mouth, but instead of giving even one of them a voice, I fumbled to pick up my application so I could leave. Obviously, this was another dead end, just like the rest of them.

    “Now get out of here, Tog,” apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough for the woman, whose mouth curled into a disgusted sneer as she made a shooing gesture – like I was an erring house pet and not a fellow sentient being. “Don’t make me call city security and tell them that you are harassing us honest working folk. Jedi don’t know when to leave well enough alone these days, and you’re the worst of them all.”

    I still felt the urge to defend myself as she looked down her nose at me - even just a few days ago, I would have found some hot-tempered words in reply. But then, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to just get away. I couldn’t think past the white noise suddenly clouding my mind, and every one of my tired, beaten instincts flinched and insisted that I run.

    Yet, apparently the Human didn’t realize how sensitive my Tog hearing truly was. I was already to the door – far enough away for most species with the hectic clamor of the busy garage – when she turned to sneer at her companion: “You know how those sorcerers can mess with your mind. I still think that she made that poor girl confess to save her own skin, and I won’t stand for that sort of witchcraft here. Not in my shop.”

    My montrals burned for her words, and my hands tightened into fists as understanding slammed into me like a Mon Cala tidal wave.

    Oh, I thought . . . that's how it was, then.

    The door finally swished open, and I let myself out. I was too stunned to immediately walk, and I took in a few calming breaths before I fell in step with the crowded boulevard. My head felt heavy, almost too heavy to keep holding upright, even as my lekku curled in close to my body in a gesture that screamed shame and frustration to anyone who cared to look.

    Sorcerer . . . Tog; I scrubbed the heels of my hands over my face as I understood my predicament all the more clearly then. Somewhat bitterly, I allowed myself to acknowledge: Barriss was a near-human with a pretty face, a soft voice, and sad blue eyes. Of course her pleas to the court had garnered sympathy in a way that mine could not. I was too fiery for the public eye, incensed as I was by my need to plead my innocence and prove the case against me as false. I was too alien, too other, too not human, and that was all that mattered in the end. In their minds, I was a convenient face to associate with the entirety of the war. Why did they have to struggle and suffer, so many civilians wondered, all because of the rebellion of a few planets far, far away from the relative peace and security of the Core? Somehow, non-human was becoming synonymous with the inception of their woes, and that effect of their prejudice was trickling down to me.

    Coruscant may have been a melting pot of thousands of species – even the Humans here had been immigrants at one time, but it was still a melting pot with its own set of rules. Without even realizing it, I had tried to play outside of those rules, and I’d fallen flat on my face. I frowned then, trying to recall how many non-humans I’d seen in the nicer upper-level garages. Not many, I finally realized . . . if there were any at all. I wanted to smack myself for being so naïve – you’d think that over two years on the front-lines would have taught me better than that. But I’d spent my entire life with the Jedi; I’d grown with the tangible evidence that everything and everyone was equal in the eyes of the Force. The idea of any sort of prejudice had never rooted in my heart for how bizarre a concept it was in face of the overwhelming proof I had to the contrary. A good portion of the galaxy, though, didn’t share my beliefs. It was staggering, the ignorance with which so many lived their lives.

    Give me a droid army, and I knew exactly what to do; with my sabers in my hand and my men at my back, I wasn’t afraid of anything; I could accomplish anything. But waging a war against the hearts and minds of such an overwhelming portion of the galaxy? For that, I didn’t even know where to begin. Instead, I was silent as I made my way back to CoCo town, feeling no small bit defeated by the universe then.

    After the day I'd had, I wasn’t in the mood to answer any more advertisements. Instead, I came back to Dex’s earlier than usual, and didn’t bother responding to Hermione when she scathingly asked if I had found work just like everyone else has to. “It’s hard,” she continued when she realized that I was determined to brush right past her, “not having everything handed to you inside of a gilded temple, isn’t it? But if we can figure it out, so can you.”

    I ignored her, and went straight to my little safe-haven in the supply room. I couldn’t even bring myself to scrub pots to help pay for my keep. Instead, I curled myself into the smallest shape possible on my makeshift bed, and drew in a deep breath to fight the onslaught of tears I could feel building. I was through with crying – I’d be happy if I never shed another tear ever again, but my body seemed to have plans to the contrary. Completely ignoring my higher reason, my eyes burned, and my lungs didn’t seem to want to deal with anything as simple as taking in air before letting it out again. I felt useless and pathetic as I pillowed my face against my arms and just tried to ignore the world.

    Instinctively, especially when I was at my lowest like this, I still felt the urge to reach out for Anakin. His place in my mind was clouded, true, but he was still there, just beyond my reach; a part of me suspected that he always would be. Our training bond hadn’t been officially dissolved, so it still existed, technically - but it was as if there were storm clouds now covering what was always a bright, clear sky to my senses. What had been an anchor and a comfort for me the last two years was now an uninviting warning throbbing against my psyche – I was being told, in no uncertain terms, to stay out by the mental barriers Anakin had erected. I didn’t think I’d be able to break through and reach him, even if I tried. The Force was sluggish to answer my call in most matters since I left the Order, but it was especially unhelpful in this regard; it didn’t often like going contrary to the will of its Chosen.

    So I sighed, and allowed Anakin to keep his space; I was tired of trying to make myself fit where I wasn’t wanted in return.

    At the thought, something inside of me brightened, just slightly, and I turned to reach for the metal rack closest to my bed. There, was my scant collection of belongings, and my gifts from my men.

    I felt a pang, thinking of them. The last time Rex had checked in, the 501st was over a world called Racatoomi, one I'd never heard of, taking out a fueling depot for the Seperatist fleets. No matter that I knew that I couldn’t stay with the Jedi Order, I dearly wanted to be out there, with them. I should have been with my battalion, where I belonged, rather than trying – and failing – to eek out a normal existence here on Coruscant.

    . . . but I couldn’t have both, and I'd made my choice. So.

    I picked up the wrist-comm and slipped it on. It was a comforting weight against my skin, and I usually wore it unless I was out job hunting. The white-plated gear was another point of contention with the civilian populace, and I already had enough points stacked against me, so I knew better than to wear it when I was out and about. But I hadn’t checked in yet this week - I'd hoped to have better news to share before I gave my sitrep. But then, in a bitter moment, I figured that I may never have good news, so any update was an update at this point. They’d start worrying about me, otherwise.

    I thumbed the button to begin recording a message, took in a deep breath, and began: “Heya, Rexter – I hope that everything is going well on Racatoomi. I’m . . . well, I’m still at Dex’s, actually, so no change here. I haven’t been able to find work, yet, although I’m trying. Apparently I’m too young, and I’m too inexperienced,” there, my voice dipped with disdain. “I’m also too alien, I just realized today. Public opinion thinks that I’ve framed Barriss for the Temple bombing, and not the other way around – can you believe that?”

    My voice cracked over what I intended as indignation. Instead, my eyes burned and I had to pause and find my words again before I went on. I wouldn’t let my grief leech into my voice, I would not; I was still stubborn enough for that much, at least.

    “Yeah . . . I know you’re not surprised,” I acknowledged softly. “Thank-you. I hope you guys are staying safe; watch Anakin’s six for me; take out a few clankers in my name. No matter that I couldn’t stay with the Order . . . I still wish I was there, with you.” That was the most I could say, though, if I wanted to maintain any sort of composure. I felt my throat turning tight. “Tano out,” I hurried to end the message, and hit send before I could lose my nerve. I didn't want to try and record that again.

    I didn’t expect a reply right away – but an indicator on my wrist-comm flashed in acknowledgment. My message was received, and Rex was listening to it. In the smallest of ways, I had proof that I wasn’t alone. There was someone out there who cared about what happened next to me, and wanted me to succeed.

    In the end, that little bit was enough. Exhausted, I closed my eyes to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be a new day, and maybe I’d have better luck then.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    AHSOKA, AHSOKA!!!!!! There Are. Not. Enough. [:D] [:D] [:D]

    Very realistic detailing on the slice of life thing of "You have no experience so you can't get hired" but how are you supposed to get experience, then? :p
    And to pile insult and injury on top of itself, the unfounded bigoted prejudices of those who really may have honest grievances but target the "cause" as something/someone totally unrelated. Naturally, they wouldn't think of a Sithly underpinning, but instead of blaming the "government" types, they blame the ones who are innocents and "plain folks".
    Loved the message she sent and that she feels a bit built up by its being read so promptly!


    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
  20. -thor-

    -thor- Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 15, 2002
    Very realistic and yet disheartening piece. Kudos. =D=
  21. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Thank-you! It really felt like such a well, Earthly problem to be writing about in a galaxy far, far away - but it's something to think about. How the practical conundrums of life will be solved before you even begin to consider the existential question Ahsoka wants to answer. [face_thinking]

    And, no matter what, she needs a support system - so I am just all too happy to include her messages with Rex in this story. I'm so glad you're enjoying that aspect too. [face_love]

    As always, I thank you so much for reading, my friend! [:D]

    Yeah - this is definitely a low point of the story. But I can promise all of the happy endings . . . eventually. :p Thank you so much for stopping in and leaving your thoughts! :D

    Alrighty, there will be more in a few. [face_dancing]
  22. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Entry V

    The next morning, I awakened to a pounding in my montrals, and decided against getting up right away. The ability to make that decision was a novelty all its own, and something about my new life that I appreciated, at the very least. The Temple had structured every part of my waking hours for so long, and the GAR certainly didn’t allow lay-abouts to thrive following. But, with nowhere yet to be, I turned and buried my head back underneath my pillow, content to at least close my eyes until my headache lost its edge. That was, until -

    Oh, she’s right back this way. Follow me.”

    - Hermione’s voice snagged against my senses. My first impulse was to ignore her - that by itself wasn’t anything new. Whenever she came in for the early shift she was always sure to move things around in the kitchen to cause a ruckus, one that I suspected was intended for my benefit. Not that I ever said anything - the last thing I wanted to do was cause Dex any sort of trouble after everything he’d done for me. But I’d be lying if I said that the waitress wasn’t on my very last nerve.

    Today was different, though. This time I could hear another voice speak in muffled reply – one that I couldn’t immediately identify. My senses strained, and the Force hesitated for a long moment before sluggishly answering my call. (And that was becoming an often enough occurrence that I was not going to think about just then.) As my preternatural senses augmented my natural ones, I thought I could feel something that was trying to be less than it actually was – like a windstorm trapping itself within the glass walls of a bottle. There was a Jedi with Hermione, understanding dawned, and I instantly sat upright and reached for my boots. There was a Jedi who was trying to hide their presence from me, I put the rest of the puzzle together, and Hermione was leading them right back to the supply room.

    “Have you come to take her back to the Temple? It’s a sad thing, having to sleep in the back of a diner – who knows what the health inspector would have to say if they knew. I don’t want poor Dex to get in trouble for his kindness, is all. He’s got a big heart, and doesn’t deserve anyone taking advantage of that.”

    Her voice was right on the other side of the door now. I rolled my eyes and huffed at her words, even as I grabbed my pack and cloak for the day. I looked up and eyed the one small window high on the wall right above my bed, judging my chances of escaping.

    “Yes, Hermione,” was the weary sigh from the cloaked presence, and I felt my blood run cold as I finally put a name to my visitor. “I will see what I can do.”

    Master Kenobi.

    I felt my lips draw back from my teeth, and for a moment I glowered at the door. My hands clenched into fists as I stood, frozen to my spot. For a moment I wanted him to come inside. I had so much I needed to say; there were so many questions that I wanted to demand answers to. I deserved more than the scant apology I'd received from the Council. Their grudging consolation hadn't been enough - not nearly, and my wounded sense of justice was screaming at me. It was a good thing Obi-Wan was shielding himself, I thought with a burst of smoldering fury. I didn’t have any welcome to give, and it was that – that, which finally made me take a step back and get ahold of myself.

    As quickly as it rose, my rage subsided, only to leave me feeling weary and hollow in its wake. The pounding in my montrals intensified, and a new ache bloomed behind my temples. I was just so tired of my darker emotions by then. I was sick my anger, of feeling wounded and beaten down and defeated. It was still bewildering – overwhelmingly so, to think about how quickly my life has changed. Everything I once trusted as finite has fallen apart and failed me, and it was yet impossible for me to fully wrap my mind around and comprehend my new circumstances. If I couldn’t put my own thoughts in order, then the last thing I wanted was to make Obi-Wan Kenobi feel better about the part he played in my current situation. I couldn’t; I wasn’t ready.

    Maybe it was the coward's choice, but I did it anyway: I waved my hand to push out the window with the Force, threw my pack outside, and then swung myself up to follow. I slipped away from the diner without anyone being the wiser, and took off at a run.

    Even as I slowed down to a brisk walk, I was still shaking. It didn’t matter that I told myself that I was done feeling lost and hurt and angry, I still felt those negative feelings; I couldn't wholly let them go. They were terrible emotions, and their presence shamed me – they were stepping stones on the path to the Dark Side. Fear. Anger. Pain. Suffering. A Jedi eschewed those emotions, lest we lose sight of the Light Side of the Force. I could hear Master Yoda’s voice in my mind, ringing from my earliest lessons as a crèchling. It didn’t matter that I had legitimate cause for my hurt and anger – I needed to get a grip on myself. These feelings would only eat me alive if I didn’t find a way to let them go. Master Yoda’s hooded green gaze was always there to watch me when I closed my own eyes – as if he was expecting something, staring out from my consciousness and waiting. For that, I felt my teeth flash again.

    Yeah, well – even the renowned Grandmaster of the Order had allowed the Republic to treat me like their punching bag. He hadn't done a thing; he hadn’t found me worth protecting, no matter that I had dedicated my entire life to the Jedi and their ways. My anger took on a shape of indignation as it flared out past the bounds I’d tried to set in place. I’d been found guilty, that knowledge bubbled up from where I kept it tightly locked away. If my trial had concluded and Tarkin continued my prosecution without Anakin finding the real culprit in time, would the Council really have let them sentence me to -

    - but I couldn’t even finish the thought without wincing. I felt bile rise in my throat. My hands trembled, even as I clenched my fingers into fists. I felt unsteady on my feet as I forced myself to put as much distance between myself and Master Kenobi as possible. I didn’t want him following me; I wasn’t ready to face him; I couldn’t face him. I didn’t trust him to respect that, and so, I ran.

    I walked until I stumbled across a plaza that I didn’t recognize. Here, there was a flat level atop one of the city blocks that looked up at the next towering level of spires above. In the square, breezy shoots of water streamed, and multicolored lights pulsed in time with the play of the fountains. Surrounding the waterscape, there were exotic potted plants and carefully tended flowerbeds. The natural components of the park were a refuge from everything that was so artificial and constructed about Coruscant, and I clearly wasn’t the only one to think so. There were several individuals who were taking their morning meals or nursing their cups of caf on the benches. Younglings played in the fountains, while others walked the pathways for exercise. I felt the vibe of the square pull at me; this was as good a place as any to stop at and find my center again.

    I chose a seat close to the fountains, underneath the foliage of a broad leafed tree that I couldn’t identify. There, I pulled out a ration’s cube in place of the breakfast I’d ran out on. Briefly, I wished that I at least had caf to dunk the bar in, and that brought back a dozen happy memories from my last few years spent on the front-lines. I was allowing my mind to drift – choosing to meditate on those thoughts, rather than on my more negative emotions, when my wrist-comm pinged with a message.

    I immediately brightened at the prospect of hearing back from Rex. I finished my meal and stashed the wrapper in my pack, before settling into my seat with a contented trill. Breathing deep of the actual fresh oxygen from the greenery, I tapped my finger to play the message, and then waited eagerly in expectantation.

    At first, I could only hear a few muffled words – as if Rex didn't yet realize that the recorder was on and was muttering to himself. The thought brought a smile to my face, and that smile only grew when I heard a curse in Mando’a – one of the same phrases that Rex had refused to teach me, but then Fives had later shown me anyway. Not that it was a big deal, honestly – Anakin was fluent in every aspect of Huttese and he could get very creative. He’d long since made sure that I could hold my own, as well.

    Hey, verd’ika, Rex finally greeted me properly. He hadn’t called me kid in well over a year, for which I was grateful. I hadn’t felt like a child for even longer than that. I was hoping to hear better news from you – we all were, but sadly I’m not surprised. There's a lack of tolerance in the galaxy that amazes me, especially when you think about just how diverse life really is. But that’s getting into a realm that maybe General Kenobi is better equipped to philosophize about than me. I’m just a soldier, and that’s above my programming.

    He paused for a moment, and I could imagine him staring at his wrist-comm, trying to think of what to say next. Rex always preferred action over words, and I appreciated the effort he was making for my sake. Something warm twisted at my heart, and, hungry for any positive emotion just then, I latched onto the feeling and cherished it.

    Anyway, I’m more concerned that their shortsightedness has hurt you. No matter what they say, don’t let them keep you from being yourself. You haven’t let anyone put you down who’s tried, so don’t let the bigots and simple-minded denizens of the Republic succeed where even the likes of Tarkin failed. You’ll find the right fit, and then that'll be that.

    And in the meantime, here? Well, managing the battalion continues to be interesting. We just got a load of shinies to replace our losses at Cato Neimoidia. Fives is already being a bad influence on the rookies, and we’ve been keeping busy reining him back in – Kix is going to slip a sedative into his caf one of these days and he’ll have no one to blame but himself. The troopers from Kamino are getting younger and younger, at that – many of these lot aren’t ready for the front-lines, but we’re making do as best we can. We've been celebrating lots of naming-days, at least; Jesse's paints are never going dry.

    For that, I fought a frown, understanding everything that Rex’s clipped, terse tone wasn’t outrightly saying. It took time to grow living beings and cultivate them into soldiers, and Kamino was struggling to keep up with the demands of the war. These men weren’t ready to fight, but they would anyway – and I knew how personally Rex took every casualty report he had to sign.

    This war, I heard Barriss’ voice ghost across my mind, is terribly wrong – and we too are in the wrong for standing as its vanguard with our sabers held high. The whole of the Jedi Order has the blood of millions on our hands; we’ve lost our balance, and our objectivity as keepers of the peace. How the Force must scream at us – only, we’ve lost the ears to hear.

    But I shook her voice away, and concentrated on listening to the rest of Rex’s message. I couldn’t think about Barriss just then, either.

    General Skywalker refused the high brass trying to give us a new commander, but they didn’t listen to him, Rex continued. This time something small, but still sardonically smug crept into his tone. They stuck a non-Jedi officer with us anyway, and the general ran the poor barve off in three days flat. I don’t know if they’re going to try again or not, but if they do I almost pity whatever unfortunate soul they'll send next. The general remains in quite the temper, and all of us are treading lightly in the meantime. Well, except for Fives – but then, I suppose that he knows exactly what he’s doing. He wasn’t made an ARC-trooper for nothing.

    For that thought, I laughed outright, even as I felt something inside of me twinge for the further proof I had of Anakin’s spiraling temper. No matter that I told myself that I couldn’t put how he felt on my shoulders – I had to make choices with my own mental health in mind, first and foremost – I still felt a guilty twinge tug on my heart. I regretted that there hadn't been a way for me to do this without hurting him. He was the only Jedi who’d stood by me, through everything – and for that I quite literally owed him my life. He deserved better than this.

    . . . only, I did too, and I was determined to find that path. I could only hope that, someday, he could understand my decision, and come to peace with it.

    Just . . . stay safe, and hang in there. I hope to hear better news from you soon – we all do. Rex, out.

    Overall, the message was short, but I already felt that much more centered – grounded, even, as the recording played out and finished with a last hum of static. I looked up, and steeled my jaw to watch the play of the fountains as the light and water spiraled. Well then, I found it easier to reach out and hold onto my determination, it was time to get to work.

    As the morning stretched on into the afternoon, I went further down the levels than I’d gone before. I was following a feeling – a fluttering in my gut and a whispering in my heart that I hoped was the Force still speaking to me. Either way, I was going to trust my instincts, wherever that took me in the end.

    Eventually, my course took me to a staging area for interplanetary shipping. Here, shuttles were loaded with wares from the factory levels to ferry to the waiting freighters in orbit. The docks were busy this time of day, and I milled through the bustling droids and working sentient bodies as if following a thread through a maze. I simply took in the frenetic play of my surroundings for some time, watching and feeling all the while.

    Prompted by my nose, I stopped by an Ithorian food cart servicing the docks for a real lunch. For some reason that I wasn’t going to question, Ithorian grains didn’t bother my digestive system. Their cuisine was one of the scant few vegetarian options my physiology could tolerate. Right about then, their spicy obo peanut sauce slathered over a bowl of soft cooked noodles sounded infinitely better than another rations cube, and my mouth was watering by the time I paid for my order. The Ithorian vendor – whose name was Roneb, had a soft, sensible aura in the Force that I liked, and I trusted that feeling enough to ask her if she knew of anyone who was hiring on the docks.

    She watched me for a moment, her eye-stalks poised and thoughtful before she inclined her swooped head. Most of the shipping companies she knew were set with laborers, she was sorry to tell me. But then she hesitated for only a moment before adding that there was a crew she knew that was looking for specialized assistance with their latest delivery. That specialized assistance, she added, locking eyes with me and her dual throats humming in a way that made it certain that she knew exactly who I was, I could provide. If I wanted work, I'd find it there.

    She handed me my order, and then gestured across the bay to where a Human male and a Wookiee were speaking to one of the many shuttle pilots milling about. The Human looked typical for the docks – broad shouldered and heavily built, but clean shaven and dressed in nondescript clothes. The Wookiee, I observed from across the way, was tall even by the standards of his people, and had a coat of deep black fur shot through with silver. While the Human had no idea that I was watching as I took my noodles, the Wookiee glanced over and held my stare.

    Alright then. For the possibility then open before me, I felt something deep inside of my consciousness push. By then, that was more than enough to prompt me to follow.

    ~MJ @};-
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
    Chyntuck, Kahara, AzureAngel2 and 2 others like this.
  23. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Nice for the message from Rex. :D Gave her the impetus and strength to forge ahead. Part of Anakin's (and Kenobi's probably too?) jumble of complicated emotions is guilt over not being able to formally stand by Ahsoka, combined with knowing that even if they did how much tangible good would it do? [face_thinking] And that crew Ahsoka is about to meet up with. One ginormous fangirl guess as to who that is? :han: :chewie: [face_dancing] [face_love]
  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Argh, I missed an update.

    Well Asoka might well take participation in the Underrated Mod ! challenge. Being discriminated for being a Jedi (which she is not any longer), a criminal (which she never was) and an alien (which cannot be helped).

    But thanks to the Force she still has folk who paint a smile on her face and give her all the chances she deserves.
  25. Findswoman

    Findswoman Fanfic and Pancakes and Waffles Mod (in Pink) star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    Finally caught up with this wonderful chronicle! Even when I’m tardy in commenting, I hope you know that I am loving every moment. @};-

    4: Poor Ahsoka! =(( Well, she wouldn’t want me to call her that—but I do completly and utterly sympathize with her frustration here. Searching for a job, and particularly dealing with that irksome “no job <=> no experience” dynamic @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha describes, is difficult enough at the best of times. Then pile on top of that the prejudice (both for her species and her Jedi abilities), the false accusations that are still so vigorously bouncing around about the temple bombing, Hermione’s snippiness, and just generally the feeling of being a burden to dear Dex... it’s more than just about anyone can bear. (Though Dex is such a kind soul I’m sure he doesn’t see it that way at all! <3 ) I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all this anti-non-Human sentiment is happening right at this same time as this false accusation—it’s almost as if it had been planned that way. And given Ahsoka’s upbringing as a Jedi seeing all beings as equal in the Force, it’s an especially harsh awakening that hurts her to the very core—I don’t blame her for feeling the need for a good cry, against all of her higher reason. :( Nor do I blame her for feeling the urge to reach out, to share her feelings with someone she trusts. The fact that Anakin is so shielded as to be unreachable is a sure hint that something has gone very different with him, and I think that fact isn’t lost on Ahsoka... and of course it’s no surprise that she goes next to her dear friend and comrade-in-arms Rex. And he listens to her message almost immediately—of course he does! [face_love] That right there says so much about their relationship, even though they’re multiple star systems away from each other. Even just knowing that he has listened is such a bright light in our heroine’s gloom, allowing her to end what started out as a seriously frustrating day on a note of comfort and warmth. It truly is the little things! @};-

    5: Oh, of all the people who would show up! :oops: I kind of wonder how Obi-Wan found out where Ahsoka was. You do an amazing job depicting all the mixed emotions that go through Ahsoka in those tense few moments—part wants to confront him and really hold him (and the Council) accountable, part of her simply isn’t ready to—because that part of her, quite understandably, is just plain tired of all the outrage and anger she’s been feeling about this whole situation. And I see that even now, even though she’s been cut loose by the Jedi Order, she can’t totally shake her ambivalence and distrust toward those feelings—the “gray” aspects of this character at work. As she makes the decision to run away, she’s more “cut loose” than she ever was before—which means Rex’s wonderful message to her couldn’t have come at a better time. I just love his message, from start to finish—such a typically Rex mix of humor and caring comes through, whether in his priceless little "this thing on?” moment at the start ([face_laugh]) or in his report on his men’s doings: Jesse’s still painting, Fives is still being a troublemaker, Kix’s mother avian streak is still alive and well. That all made me smile; you always do such an amazing job with these dear “broken boys” and the keenly varied personalities they’ve managed to develop despite (!) having been churned out by the millions! But then there’s the darker side to Rex’s report, too, with the younger, unreadier “shinies” joining the ranks—and, perhaps more worryingly, further confirmation of something serious up with Anakin.

    I suppose it’s no coincidence that, soon after this, an interesting new opportunity opens up to Ahsoka down at the docks—no surprise, because that message was just the thing she needed to boost her confidence and resolve to carry on. A Human man and a Wookiee—a familiar combination, of course, but judging from the description you give (and particularly the fact that the Wookiee is black) I am going to guess it’s not necessarily the pair we know best. And of course please color me very, very curious about this “specialized assistance” they require with whatever this latest delivery of theirs is…! [face_thinking] I sense one of those fanatastic Mira “unlikely meetings” in the offing, and can’t wait to see where it will lead for our heroine! :ahsoka: