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Saga Operation: Knightfall - An Order 66 Short Story - Complete

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by gaarastar58, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Hi all,

    Told from two different but intertwining perspectives, this story features Kai (OC), Katooni, Jesse, Kix and Anakin. As always feedback and concrit welcome. Enjoy!

    Knightfall - Part I


    An explosion ripped through the heart of the Jedi temple. Kai felt it through the floor and a moment later heard the boom echoing through the many corridors and hallways. It seemed so strange. The temple was a place of quiet reflection and peace. Many times he had been chastised by his elders for being too noisy or for running to his lessons when he was late. To hear the sounds of blaster fire and explosions felt so unreal that when he awoke in his cell in the training wing, he had thought it must all be part of a dream. Or a nightmare.

    But in no nightmare could he ever feel this much terror, or the exhaustion or the pain in his arms from carrying Petro. His master had always taught him that Jedi did not feel fear, but Kai was afraid. So he ran, because he had no idea what else he could do.

    ‘Come on, hurry up,’ said Katooni.

    ‘I’m doing my best,’ said Kai. Their lives depended on keeping one step ahead of the clones, although he still hardly believed that it was the clones that were attacking. When he had first awoken to the sound of an alarm klaxon he thought the droid armies must have returned to Coruscant, only this time to attack the Jedi temple instead of the senate. But then he had seen the clones attacking Jedi, killing people he knew and he had run, dragging Katooni along with him.

    ‘Do you want me to carry Petro for a while?’ said Katooni.

    ‘No, it’s alright. I think… I’m going to put him down here.’

    ‘We can’t just leave him.’

    ‘He’s gone Katooni.’

    Katooni stopped and looked back. Kai took the opportunity to slouch against a wall. Petro’s body sagged in his arms. Blood had soaked into Kai’s tunic, turning the brown material black.

    ‘He was dead when I picked him up, I just couldn’t leave him back… back there…’ Kai’s voice trailed off.

    Katooni came and knelt down. ‘Let me help.’ Together they lowered the boy’s body to the ground. Petro’s head lolled in the crook of Kai’s arm and he cradled the boy close, not wanting to let him go.

    ‘Why is this happening?’

    Katooni hung her head. ‘I don’t know.’

    ‘He was just a kid.’ Kai’s voice trembled. In truth he was little more than a youngling himself, a newly apprenticed Padawan who had only been on a few missions. He looked down at Petro. The bottomless dark in the boy’s half-open eyes was the scariest thing he had ever seen in his life. It seemed so wrong. He and Petro had grown up in the temple together. They had trained together. And now he was dead, gone just like that. Petro had never been one to back away from a fight, but the clones had cut him down before he even had a chance to ignite his lightsaber.

    Katooni started to cry. Big fat tears rolled down her cheeks as she held onto Petro’s hand. He and Katooni had been through a lot together and Kai felt her grief and pain in the force. ‘What did we do?’

    This time it was Kai’s turn to shake his head. ‘I don’t know. But we’ve got to keep moving.’

    ‘And just leave Petro here?’

    ‘We have to. There’s nothing we can do for him. Carrying him will just slow us down.’

    Katooni sniffed. ‘I know. You’re right.’ She held onto Petro’s hand for another moment before letting go and standing up. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve. ‘Let’s go.’

    Kai lowered the boy’s head to the floor, anger and grief pricking at the back of his own eyes, but he pushed those feelings aside. He had no time now. He felt like he was betraying Petro, leaving him here all alone on the cold floor, but there was no choice.

    ‘Goodbye,’ he said, laying a hand on Petro’s chest. He got to his feet and unclipped his lightsaber from his belt. From somewhere below his feet came the sound of another explosion and then, much closer, he heard blaster fire.

    ‘Let’s go.’

    *

    Jesse heard the sizzle in the air and ducked instinctively. The green-white lightsaber blade arced over his shoulder, exactly where his head had been only a moment earlier. He rolled away from the Jedi as blaster-fire erupted over his head. The Jedi spun her blade, deflecting the blue energy bolts harmlessly aside.

    ‘Concentrate fire!’ he barked, raising his rifle to his shoulder. ‘2nd squad, flanking position!’

    Blaster fire spattered down the hallway, providing cover for the troopers to outflank the Jedi knight. She whirled towards them, lightsaber blazing, but she couldn’t defend herself from attacks coming in two different directions and the massed fire of the clones cut her in half.

    ‘Good job lads,’ said Jesse, the words tasting like ash in his mouth. Like all clones he had been bred for one purpose: to wage war. But looking around at the hallway and the bodies of dead clones and Jedi he felt bitterness rise up like a hand around his throat. This wasn’t war. It was slaughter.

    ‘Sgt Jesse?’

    ‘Sir?’ Jesse spoke into his helmet mike. Somehow even though every clone had the same face and the same voice as Jango Fett, their genetic template, he could still recognise Commander Appo's voice.

    ‘Sgt, Take your squad and support the troopers in the library. The Jedi are attempting to destroy holobooks containing vital intelligence. Stop them at all costs.’

    ‘Aye sir,’ Jesse saluted, even though his officer wasn’t present. ‘Alright lads, we’re heading for the library.’

    The squad acknowledged, and followed him towards a set of stairs. They knew where to go, part of their training had involved memorising the complex passages and chambers of the Jedi Temple. Supposedly this helped them if for any reason they were called on to defend it, but Jesse couldn’t help reflecting on how useful it was to them at this moment.

    The fighting at the main gate had been brief and bloody. The Jedi had been taken completely by surprise, which was odd. Jesse and his men had been told that the Jedi were implementing a coup against the Senate, and yet they had left the temple undefended. Jesse didn’t question orders, but the creative imagination that Jango Fett had provided his clone offspring with was still working away in the back of his mind, assessing, planning, examining the scenario from every possible aspect. This creativity in the field had been the clones’ strength over the droids they were required to fight against, but now Jesse could feel it weighing him down. The Jedi were traitors. That was all there was to it.

    And yet…

    The snap-hiss of a lightsaber cut his thoughts in half. Two Jedi leapt towards the clones. An invisible wall of force energy hit Jesse, shoving him to the ground. He got his feet under him in time to see two of his men, Tigs and Bravo, bisected in a single swipe of a glowing blade.
    Jesse levelled his blaster and fired, doing his best to drive the two Jedi back. Around him his squad scattered, finding what cover they could and making it more difficult for the Jedi to deflect blaster bolts back at them. A trooper howled as one of his own shots bounced off a lightsaber blade and took him in the shoulder, spinning him around and putting him on the ground. Some of the men moved in with flechette launchers, sending hundreds of razor sharp filaments of metal screaming towards the Jedi. Too numerous and too small to get a grip on through the Force they were the ideal weapon to deal with Jedi.

    Jesse gritted his teeth. He had fought beside many Jedi and knew how formidable they could be. Like all his brothers he had felt a tingle of fear when the order came down to attack the Temple. Now the company had lost over a dozen men and their captain had been killed within the first few moments of the assault.

    The disciplined fire of the clones was too much for one of the Jedi. A blaster bolt took her in the leg and as she stumbled a blast from a flechette launcher shredded her torso. The second Jedi was another matter. She handled her lightsaber with experienced precision. Two of Jesse’s men went down and the Jedi advanced. Jesse swore. Damn Jedi and their damn lightsabers.

    ‘Covering fire,’ he called to his men. They opened up in earnest, flooding the passage way with blaster fire. Jesse slid across the floor, keeping low to the ground, and took careful aim.

    With the hail of fire erupting over his head and the hiss and sputter of the lightsaber deflecting energy, only Jesse heard the puff-thwack as he fired his grappling gun. The hook and cable wrapped around the Jedi’s wrists. He gave the cable a sharp tug and the Jedi, unable to raise her arms, took a blaster bolt through the eye and collapsed to the floor.

    Jesse got to his feet and looked back at his squad. Several of them were down. It was only then he noticed the scorched hole in his own armour. He dug a hand into the gap between the plates and winced as he touched the wound in his shoulder.

    ‘Is it bad?’ the squad medic, Kix was by his side.

    ‘Just a graze, nothing to worry about,’ said Jesse. His glove was covered in blood. ‘Shove some emergency dressing in there and let’s get moving. We’ve got to get to the library.’
     
  2. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Two different worlds, two different philosophies, two different POVs, so close, yet so far away. A great piece!

    Poor Kai and Katooni, in the chaos of the Order 66. Not only that they have no idea what's going on, but the sole fact that they had to choose to leave a youngling's body behind is heartbreaking. Now somebody would say that this is not the way of the Jedi or whatever, but I disagree - a child killed is a child killed and I can understand Katooni, to a certain extent. I would not even call this a motherly instinct, I am pretty sure that there are men who would have done the same.

    Ironically, had they ran faster...maybe, just maybe, they would have been safe for a while, until whatever Inquisitor was after them?

    There are two contrasts that strike me here - the first with the Clones (do I capitalise this?) taking on creative thinking from Jango Fett, yet still following orders through a chip, and the second with how they're treated as blaster fodder throughout the Clone Wars - wonderfully explored in your and CheckSix's DDC, by the way - and now, they get the chance to treat somebody else that way, with their names not being important to their side of the story.

    There may be another contrast - two women killing two men with what essentially is a brutal weapon, no matter how elegant, and then being killed in similarly brutal manners.

    Goosebumps.

    EDIT: Perhaps you could ask a mod to merge this with the older version and remove the old OP, so you have the other comment and your reply to it here? This confused me. :p
     
    Findswoman likes this.
  3. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Part II


    ‘Kai get down!’

    A force push sent Kai sprawling to the floor at the same moment as a series of blue bolts struck the wall near where he’d been standing. He heard the distinctive sound of Katooni’s lightsaber igniting and the crackle as the blue-white blade intercepted more blaster bolts.

    Scrambling to his feet he ignited his own weapon. There were only three clones, but Kai had never been in real combat before. The closest he had been was training with the sensor remotes and they fired non-lethal lasers, not the deadly energy bolts spitting from the clone rifles.

    He let the force take over, allowing it to guide his actions. He could anticipate where a bolt would strike and deflect those which came too close for comfort, but he hadn’t mastered the art of bouncing them back at an opponent. Katooni on the other hand had fantastic control when it came to lightsabers. Her blade became a blaze of blue arcs slashing and cutting through the air. A reflected bolt hit a clone and he fell.

    ‘Keep moving, put pressure on them,’ yelled Katooni. Kai followed her instructions, putting one foot in front of the other. His numb brain ran through possibilities. He could use the force to lift an object that he could hit the clones with… or he could simply lift the troopers and try to keep them off balance long enough to…

    A bolt sizzled past his thigh, close enough for him to feel the heat of it. He didn’t have the skill to defend himself and launch an attack. It was all he could do to stop the clones from killing him.

    One of the clones tossed a grenade. Without thinking Kai reached out towards it with the force, his mental control fumbling to grasp the small object. The tiny ball sailed through the air and came to a stop. He was about to shove it away when a blaster bolt flashed across his vision. Pain exploded in his side, like he’d been impaled by a red hot vibroblade. His force-grip snapped and the grenade plopped onto the ground. The scene in front of Kai exploded, throwing him off his feet. He slammed into the ground and blacked out for a moment. Dimly he heard the sound of blaster fire, the spitting of a lightsaber and then just the zing in his ears.

    He blinked. His eyes were watering and he felt nauseous, although whether because of the curling smoke or the pain in his chest he wasn’t sure.

    ‘Kai? Kai? Are you alright?’

    Katooni’s face swam into view over him.

    ‘My ears hurt.’

    Her face crumpled and she started to cry. ‘I thought you were… I thought…’

    ‘Yeah, no I think I’m okay.’ After the initial agony, the feeling in Kai’s chest wasn’t so bad. He let Katooni help him sit up.

    ‘Must have just been a ricochet,’ said Katooni.

    ‘Yeah, but it hurts like hell,’ said Kai. ‘I think I might have busted a rib.’

    ‘Can you walk?’

    ‘Yeah, I think so. Help me.’

    Getting to his feet made Kai’s head swim but after a moment of breathing deeply and trying not to throw up he was able to stumble along the corridor holding onto Katooni’s arm. The three troopers lay in a tangle of arms and legs and white armour. Two of them had been sliced by Katooni’s lightsaber.

    ‘Wait,’ said Kai, when they were standing over the bodies. ‘How do we know they’re really clones?’

    ‘Because they’re wearing clone armour?’

    ‘They could be commando droids. They could have captured the armour and used it to infiltrate the temple and take us by surprise.’

    ‘We don’t have time to speculate. They could’ve called for backup. We need to move.’

    ‘I have to know Katooni. I have to know if Petro and the others were killed by the Separatists or if… if it was our own side.’

    Katooni glanced over her shoulder. ‘Alright. Take off one of their helmets then.’

    ‘Me?’

    ‘You want to know, you’ve got to look. All I want to do is get out of here.’

    ‘Alright. Give me a hand then.’ Kai knelt down, gulping down the pain of his bruised ribs. Taking a shallow breath he tugged at one of the dead trooper’s helmets. The plasteel slid clear and Kai gasped, sending another flex of pain across his chest.

    ‘Happy now?’

    The clone’s head flopped back as the helmet came clear. His eyes had rolled upwards in their sockets so that it looked like he was staring upside down at something down the corridor. Kai shuddered. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be. The clones were on their side. They didn’t kill Jedi.

    ‘Kai.’

    ‘What is this?’ Kai tossed the helmet aside. ‘Why are they doing this to us?’

    ‘Kai, look.’ Katooni was staring down the corridor in the same direction as the clone’s unseeing eyes. Following her gaze Kai looked up and felt a wave of relief rush through him that for a moment dulled the throbbing pain. A figure stood at the far end if the passage, a glowing blue lightsaber clenched in his fist.

    ‘Master Skywalker!’

    *

    The fighting in the library had been amongst the most brutal that Jesse had experienced during the whole course of the war. The Jedi had been relentless, sending wave after wave against the handful of clones ordered to guard the information contained in the archives database. The wound in his shoulder was tight with pain, the foam battlefield dressing stingy against his skin. He shrugged the pain off and gathered his squad. What was left of it anyway.

    ‘Good job men, the Jedi insurgents seem to have fallen back for now. We’ll leave Dog and Fist Company to keep guard here while we help scour out any remaining Jedi.’

    ‘Most of the Jedi we’ve encountered have either been elderly or just kids,’ said Kix. ‘We’re used to fighting droids, not murdering children.’

    ‘We’ve got our orders,’ said Jesse, his voice hollow.

    ‘Our orders make no sense,’ spoke up another clone, nicknamed Tank. He jabbed a finger at a young Jedi who had been killed in the melee. ‘That kid can’t be more than fourteen. I can’t believe the Jedi would include them in any kind of insurrection.’

    ‘I don’t care what you believe. We’ve got our orders,’ repeated Jesse. ‘The next person to question me will find themselves facing a court martial, CLEAR?’

    ‘Sir yes sir,’ answered his squad, although he could tell from their posture many of them would quite happily have gone on arguing with him. He couldn’t afford that right now. He needed his men to be focused. That was their only chance of getting out of this mess alive. He surveyed the carnage around him, silently fighting down his own misgivings. Kix was right. They were trained to kill but not to kill the innocent. As much as Jesse wanted to believe in his orders he couldn’t tell himself that killing children was anything but wrong.

    ‘Sgt Jesse?’

    ‘Sir!’ Jesse snapped a salute as Commander Appo strode up, his rifle resting on his shoulder. Blood was splattered across his faceplate.

    ‘Good job down here sergeant. I’m afraid Trapper and Buck have been killed. Until further notice you’ll be in command of Torrent company.’

    ‘Yes sir.’ Jesse felt strangely detached. Torrent company had been Captain Rex's since the start of the war and he had moulded it into one of the most successful fighting units in the GAR. Part of Jesse wished that Rex was here now. He felt sure he would have known what to do, but nobody had seen Rex for weeks. So many of Jesse's friends were gone. Tup died on Kamino, and he'd lost Fives not long after. The threads of his life were unravelling tonight he would lose more brothers.

    ‘Take your men into the upper levels. General Skywalker’s orders are clear: every Jedi is to be considered an enemy of the republic.’

    ‘Even the children?’ said Tank.

    Appo spun to face him. ‘One day those children are going to grow up and then we’ll be fighting this war all over again. Yes trooper, the Padawans and apprentices too.’

    Jesse watched his commander leave. There was a tightness in his chest. He jerked his head at his men. ‘Move out.’
     
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    So I started drafting comments on this thinking that the end of part 1 was the end of the story, and then saw your post of part 2 only today—my bad! (Oddly, your part 2 post bears the date of June 29 when I look at it on my laptop, but my phablet was saying it was posted yesterday. Bizarre!)

    Here goes, then:

    This story really personalizes the events of Order 66 in a way that we barely got to see in the film, and I like the approach of telling the story from these two very different viewpoints. It goes without saying what a traumatic experience this is for the Jedi, with so many like Petro who were cut down so young for no reason. And I can only imagine what Kai and Katooni must be feeling right now, not only with the loss of their friend but also with making the heartbreaking decision to leave his body behind (and I just love the description of the "bottomless dark" in his eyes... just... jeepers). Then, to top it all, they find out that the soldiers who turned on them really are the clones who were once there trusted comrades… at that point I just wouldn’t be able to even.

    And then they see Anakin walking up… and part of me wants to yell out to them to turn and run, because I have a guess about what might be next!

    The clone's-eye view of the situation is equally compelling. In the film they are portrayed as the pretty much unilateral villains in the Order 66 scenes, but here the situation is more complex than that by far. We have glimmers that Jesse is just starting to be aware of the manipulation and brainwashing that have characterized his and his brothers' training so far; not only does he notice that what they're being asked to do is more like slaughter than fair fighting, but also that pretty much that that slaughter is turning out to be the ulterior motive of their entire training so far, right down to details like memorizing the entire floorplan of the Jedi Temple. And yet these are still just glimmers, and they haven't grown to the point where they actually stop Jesse and co. from carrying out the gruesome mission before them—part 1 ends with them proceeding to the library as planned.

    But then in part 2 we start to see that some of the other clones—Tank, in particular—have noticed that something’s not right with this order they’ve been given and are expressing misgivings. Jesse counters those misgivings by playing the strict commander, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his own misgivings are gone, since his own detachment and sense of loss are still creeping up on him. His anger at the Jedi for mowing down so many comrades in such a short time is so understandable—and yet he seems also to have an inkling that, in some cases, the situation may be more convoluted than that. (Cough, cough, Rex, cough, cough). But he has yet to fully act on that anger.

    So all in all we get to see Jesse in a very interesting sort of psychological limbo in these chapters—a true gray area. There is nothing, absolutely nothing like wartime for bringing out the gray areas in everything—to say the very least—and kudos to you for portraying them for us so deftly! =D=
     
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  5. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Thanks Findswoman for the feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I really tried to capture the horror that Kai and Katooni must be feeling, they are basically kids watching their home burn down around them! The description of bottomless eyes comes from first-hand experience, unfortunately through my work (children's nurse) I have come into contact with bereaved families and have been around dead kids - there is no adequate way to describe the darkness you see in someone's eyes after they have died.

    Moving hurridly on from that dark statement, I wanted to show the clones as being a bit more aware of their actions but being unable to disobey their orders. I reckon Jesse was already feeling a sense of loss before order 66 after losing Fives, Harcase, Tup and (although I guess we don#t know exactly when he left) Rex. I'm glad you thought I got the grey areas right. There's still one part to go before the story is finished and i will get it posted ASAP so you can find out what happens with Anakin.

    Thanks again for commenting!
     
    Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  6. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Part III


    ‘Master Skywalker!’

    Katooni was on her feet, a stupid grin plastered on her face. ‘I’m so glad to see you.’

    Master Skywalker strode towards them, lightsaber humming. It cast an eerie blue glow on the walls and threw shadows across his face. Or was it…?

    Kai struggled with what he was seeing. It was like there was a black cloud hanging around the Jedi knight. It blurred and distorted him, warping his image like a scrambled hologram. As Skywalker advanced he seemed to grow taller, his cloak wrapping around his body like armour, and where his face should have been…

    ‘Katooni, wait.’

    ‘TRAITOR!’

    Something whirled over Kai’s head. Skywalker’s lightsaber came up just in time to parry a slash from a female Jedi wielding a green blade. She launched a series of ferocious cuts and thrusts, pressing the young Jedi knight back down the corridor.

    ‘It’s Master Mihri,’ said Katooni.

    The two combatants circled each other and Kai recognised the slim figure of the Jedi master who had taught him lightsaber technique from the time he was a youngling. Master Mihri was one of the orders most revered sword-masters.

    ‘Why is she fighting Master Skywalker?’ said Katooni.

    ‘I don’t know. I think… maybe…’ Kai tasted bile in the back of his throat. He had seen something, not in the here-and-now but in the soon-to-be. It had been as though he was looking through Skywalker and seeing something dark, something twisted and perverse. ‘I think he’s helping the clones.’

    ‘Get out of here you two, run!’ shouted Mihri, screaming to make herself heard over the clash of lightsabers. The duellists moves were too quick to follow, and Kai was mesmerised by their skill and precession. The drone from the lightsabers filled his whole perception. It was like a dance, with Skywalker and Mihri weaving between arcs of light. But there was something about Skywalker. Kai had seen him leading training on the few occasions he had been in the temple. He fought with an aggressive style which encouraged attack over defence, a very effective style. He was like that now, but there was something else behind the aggression, something wild and uncontrollable fighting to break free.

    ‘Can you see it?’ he breathed.

    ‘The dark side.’ Katooni sounded scared. ‘It’s like it’s feeding him energy. Making him stronger.’

    ‘Master Mihri doesn’t stand a chance.’

    ‘We should help,’ said Katooni, raising her lightsaber.

    ‘No, we’d just get in the…’ started Kai but he was interrupted by a scream from Master Mihri, which was instantly cut off as Skywalker plunged his lightsaber into her throat. Her own weight as she fell decapitated her. Blazing eyes turned towards the two young Padawans.

    ‘Run Kai,’ said Katooni. ‘I’ll hold him off.’

    ‘He’ll kill you.’

    ‘He’ll kill us both if you don’t get out of here. Go!’

    Kai got his feet under him and stood for a moment swaying. His entire world was crumbling around him. He tried to make sense of it but his brain was so waterlogged with grief and pain that he couldn’t think. He simply hung on to what Katooni was saying. Run.

    He turned and stumbled away, wrapping an arm around his chest, his breath coming in short frightened gasps which tumbled around his lungs like broken glass. Behind him he heard a lightsaber ignite, and the heavy whine of Skywalker’s blade as he advanced. He didn’t look back.

    Holding onto the wall was the only thing that stopped him from falling over. That and the fear. Somewhere in the back of his mind he could hear Master Yoda telling him that Jedi should not fear becoming one with the force. Easy for him to say. He’d been alive for eight hundred years. Kai was eleven and he didn’t want to die. The fear of the clones and Skywalker and the creature that he had seen Skywalker become urged him on.

    There were bodies everywhere. Old and young alike, huddled together in death. They did not look peaceful. They did not look like they had become one with the force. They were simply dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. All dead. He recognised faces as he passed. There was Tera Sinube, the ancient master who cared for all the students he taught. Juess Halto, a young initiate Kai had helped out with some lessons only a week ago, his once bright eyes now black and bottomless.

    Dead.

    There was nothing left. He could feel his strength ebbing. He stumbled, got his feet under him and kept going. Was this what dying felt like? Was he dead and he simply didn’t know it yet? Another explosion, this one closer, rocked the Temple and Kai toppled to the ground, jarring his knee. He sagged against the wall, chest heaving. His eyes streamed with tears. He was a failure as a Jedi. He had failed Petro, Katooni, all of them, and now he was going to die.

    No.

    A Jedi must be at peace with the force. Closing his eyes he let his senses stretch out. He felt the Temple around him, all metal and stone and history and within it he sensed the people, afraid, angry, despairing. It was not the Jedi he was feeling, he realised. The clones were in pain. They were being torn apart from the inside out as they murdered their way into the heart of the Temple. The oppressive presence of Anakin Skywalker blotted out all the light, hanging over the Temple like a storm of dark intention. Night was falling on the Jedi Order.

    Then he felt it.

    At first it was just a glimmer, like one of the distant stars he sometimes glimpsed in Coruscants smoggy sky, a pinprick of light soon swallowed up by polluted clouds. He hung onto the feeling as the survivor of a shipwreck clings to the wreckage. Somewhere, deep beneath the roiling evil threatening to swallow him he saw it. He concentrated, focusing on that single glorious point of light.

    There were still Jedi alive. He felt their presence wrap around him like a blanket on a cold winter night, comforting him. Many were trapped and as scared as he was but some were escaping, making their way towards the obscuring buzz of Coruscant. He stretched his senses even further, feeling the agony of the Jedi Order throughout the galaxy. He had never experienced anything like this. He was linked to all the Jedi, part of a single wonderful blaze of light that could never be extinguished.

    Slowly Kai got his feet under him and hauled himself up. He clutched the wall, taking great shuddering breaths which jarred his body. He wasn’t going to die here. He was going to escape. Out there he had a family and they were waiting for him. He would find them, no matter how long it took, no matter how distant that glimmer of hope became. He would find them.

    Leaning into the wall for support he staggered down the passageway, focussed on putting one foot in front of the other, and he smiled when he thought of something Master Yoda had told him once.

    ‘Controlled falling, all walking is. Catch you your feet will. Trust them, you must.’

    His lightsaber was gone. It must have been lost when the grenade went off. It didn’t matter. He could build another. Nothing mattered now except walking. One foot in front of the other. He rounded a corner.

    Something hit him hard in the chest, tearing all the air from his body.

    *

    Nothing could have prepared Jesse for the carnage he and his men would encounter as they made their way through the temple. He was accustomed to the battlefield, but this was a horror he could never have imagined. Groups of Jedi children, some as young as four, lay together in heaps where they had been ambushed and slain. More than one of his troopers tore off his helmet and vomited.

    They had encountered little resistance. The initial assault had caught the Jedi completely by surprise and with so many off-world fighting in the wars there were few Jedi left to withstand the hammer-blow of the 501st. The walls were scorched and there were reports of a fire in the upper levels.

    Their only setback had been when some droids of a configuration Jesse had never seen before attacked them. They carried lightsabers and had chewed through six men before the clones managed to put them down. Jesse guessed they were sparring droids, reprogrammed to defend the temple in case of an incursion.

    Jesse was programmed to be the perfect soldier, conditioned to withstand battlefield stress but here, surrounded by all this death he was sick of war. This wasn’t battle. These were not droids. They were people. They were children.

    ‘Clear sergeant,’ said Tank. He and three other clones were scouting ahead, checking each corridor for survivors. So far they had found none. The clones had swept through the Temple like a plague, leaving behind nothing but destruction. Jesse wondered if the 501st would recover from this. The white-armoured bodies of clones were tangled amongst the Jedi, maybe half the battalion had been killed or wounded, but it was the blow to their morale that he feared most. For years they had fought beside the Jedi, even grown to like them and respect them. In turn the Jedi had opened the clones’ eyes to new possibilities, they had seen them as men and not simply numbers. They had given them an identity.

    And now the clones had closed those eyes forever.

    A movement in the corner of Jesse’s eye caught his attention. Dropping to a crouch he levelled his weapon and, seeing a flash of the brown material worn by the Jedi, fired. A single blue bolt of energy snatched up the distance between them, hitting his target just above the heart.

    The force of the impact flung the Jedi off his feet and sent him sprawling to the ground. Jesse lowered his weapon, a horrible realisation crushing him.

    ‘No.’

    He dashed over to where the young Jedi lay. The boy was not more than twelve. His sandy hair was plastered to his forehead by sweat and there were smoke stains on his cheek. A feeble hand plucked at the material around the neat hole that Jesse had blown in his chest.

    ‘No, no, no,’ moaned Jesse, sinking to his knees next to the boy and scooping him up. The boy was choking, blood gushing from his mouth. Jesse guessed his shot must have severed his trachea and a couple of major arteries. The boy was drowning in his own blood. His frightened eyes stared up at him, full of fear and surprise.

    ‘I’m sorry.’ Jesse tore off his helmet and cradled the boy to his chest. ‘I didn’t want this.’

    The boy shuddered, his body going into spasm. The desperation in his face was the most terrible thing Jesse had ever seen, the utter hopelessness in the boy’s eyes clawed its way inside him. The body in his arms jerked a couple of times and then slumped and the light in the boy’s eyes went out.

    Blood trickled onto the floor. The dead boy’s head rested against Jesse’s chest. He bent his head, feeling the tickle of the boy’s spikey hair on his cheek.

    ‘Well done sergeant.’

    Jesse looked up into General Skywalker’s face. The Jedi stared down at him and at the dead boy in his arms, his face devoid of emotion.

    ‘I was looking for this one.’

    Jesse said nothing. Raising a hand, he closed the boy’s eyes. Around him his men turned to look at the general. Their faces all showed the same expression: guilt and self-loathing. They had trusted Skywalker. Any one of them would have given their life for him, but in the end it wasn’t their lives but their souls he had taken.

    ‘Carry on sergeant,’ said Skywalker. He turned to leave.

    ‘General.’

    ‘Yes sergeant?’

    Jesse stared into the man’s eyes for a moment. ‘Nothing sir. Sorry.’

    Skywalker said nothing. He simply spun on his heel and walked off. The clones gathered around Jesse and the dead boy.

    ‘What was that about?’ asked Kix.

    ‘That’s not the general.’

    ‘What?’

    ‘I mean, it is him, but he’s not the same man anymore. Something’s changed.’ Jesse shook himself. ‘What have we done Kix? What have we done?’

    ‘We’ve damned ourselves,’ said Kix. ‘All of us have got more blood on our hands than’ll ever wash off.’

    ‘We’re soldiers. This is what we were trained to do,’ said Tank, hoisting his heavy repeating cannon.

    ‘No,’ said Kix. ‘We’re murderers.’

    Jesse got to his feet, holding the dead boy in his arms. He wasn’t wearing a lightsaber, he noticed, and he was wounded. He had killed an unarmed and injured child. Kix was right, there was nothing he could do that would atone for this. He was a murderer. Gently he laid the boy on the floor and, taking a blanket from one of the medics, covered his face.
     
  7. Jedi_Perigrine

    Jedi_Perigrine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 22, 2008
    You write the heart-wrenching story of Order 66 extremely well. You've mixed action and anguish and just the right amount of detail.

    Really great job!
     
    gaarastar58 likes this.
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Part of why it's taken me so long to write this review is that this story is so intense and so emotionally charged that I wanted to make sure I'd processed it fully first—and this last chapter just takes those qualities to all-new levels. The moment at the very beginning where Katooni's "Boy, am I glad to see you!"-type reaction morphs into sheer horror at what Master Anakin has transformed into—and the fact that he’s now fighting to the death with a familiar teacher of hers who’s yelling “TRAITOR!” at him—absolutely bone-chilling, and you’ve done a fabulous job capturing the absolute shock both of the young apprentices feel.

    Everything in that scene is gut-wrenching, of course, but perhaps the most gut-wrenching moment is when the padawans consider helping Mihri—and then come to the (perfectly reasonable) conclusion that they’d only endanger themselves if they did—except that they end up endangering themselves all the more, because that’s exactly when Anakin takes notice of them and kills Kai. That poor, sweet boy! :_| But I like that there’s a glimmer of light and hope even in Kai’s harrowing last moments: I get the feeling that he’s aware in that moment that he’s adding to the Force in a way that may help whatever Jedi survive. His death was by no means in vain. (And I know I’ve said elsewhere that I do appreciate a good noble-death story!)

    Perhaps it will sound odd, but I love how you have the setting itself reflect the horror of the situation—the Jedi Temple, once a haven of tranquility and enlightenment, is now a hovel of desolation and death, with bodies piled everywhere—bodies that were once well-loved friends and teachers, now motionless on the floor with That Look in their eyes. There’s just no feeling in the world like seeing a beloved, beautiful place irrevocably transformed that way—“you can’t go home again” taken up to about twelve or so.

    And again, as with the previous two chapters, you take the clones’ role and viewpoint in Order 66 to all-new levels. They are not just armored organic robots, but sentient, reasoning beings who have realized just what it is that they have been doing. A perfect counterpart to Katooni’s realization at the beginning: she realizes suddenly what Anakin has become, but the clones realize what they themselves have become: murderers. (From that point of view, Kai’s realization of the ultimate survival of the Jedi fits right in as a counterbalance to both of the others.)

    Bravissimo, sir, on another mighty fine story! =D=
     
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  9. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    I am so glad you enjoyed it Findswoman! I wanted it to feel gut-wrenching from the first moment. This started out as a very clone heavy storybut Kai was such a nice character to write and I needed to balance it out a bit. I think there is something awful about him finding his hope at the same instant he is killed. I wanted the environment of the Temple to reflect the horror of the characters and lets face it there isn't a more horrifying concept than kids being murdered. Thanks so much for your kind words and feedback!
     
    Findswoman likes this.
  10. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Oh wow.

    I expected from the title that this wouldn't be a happily-ever-after fic, but that's the understatement of the year. This was genuinely hard to read.

    You used the alternating POVs to great effect in this story. Neither Kai or Jesse understand what is going on, both are trying to remain true to what they should be, neither feels that they are doing the right thing and both understand, in their own way, that something has changed in Anakin Skywalker. The moment of their encounter is absolutely heartrending.

    I also liked how you wrote Katooni in this story. In TCW she comes across as a shy child who begins to develop her self-confidence through her adventures on Ilum and later with Hondo/Ahsoka, and it made perfect sense that, a couple of years later, courage and steadfastness would be her prevailing qualities in a situation such as this.

    And Anakin/Vader... "I was looking for this one." Argh. Supremely creepy.

    =D=
     
  11. DARTH_MU

    DARTH_MU Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2005
    Thoughts

    This is like a civil war.

    Soldiers did follow orders. Killing children is wrong. However, these are hardly children as soon as they built their lightsaber. I think those 4 years old or slightly older who doesn't have a lightsaber is pure innocent.

    those who did have lightsaber are fair game.

    The soldier who said when they grow up.... kind of made sense.

    So finally. It is a civil war. It is terrible. Everyone (I hope) everyone thought it was totally unnecessary and a massacre.

    And you did this

    [​IMG]
     
    Lady_Misty likes this.
  12. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 21, 2007
    This is amazing in the emotions it holds and what might have been going through the minds of those that were there.