Saga Said the Joker to the Thief (post-ROTS - Ahsoka, Rex, Echo, Fives, ensemble - 8/22 - complete

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by iceaffinity, Jun 22, 2010.

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  1. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Title: Said the Joker to the Thief
    Author: iceaffinity
    Timeframe: post ROTS
    Characters: Ahsoka, Rex, Echo, Fives, ensemble.
    Genre: Drama/Friendship
    Summary: There?s too much confusion. Order 66 goes awry, and a group of clones must decide how to live out their future.
    Notes: This fic is the result of listening to the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack entirely too much lately, specifically Gaeta?s Lament and the Galactica version of Bob Dylan?s All Along the Watchtower. Quite a few of the lines are alluding to or lifting from these songs.

    This will be a multi-part fic, based loosely around music from the Vietnam era, which I think suits the Clone Wars and its aftermath rather well. I own nothing, including the music. Beware my random flashbacks. Enjoy!


    Said the Joker to the Thief

    "There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
    "There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.?
    ?All Along the Watchtower? ? Bob Dylan


    There was the soft sound of a blaster being poised to fire.

    Rex did not move, though the barrel was near enough to almost feel. The cold metal that would burn hot in a moment. It seemed to breathe on the back of his neck.

    ?You know better than to hesitate,? he said.


    It was a simple enough mission, and a successful one, as far as it could be.

    Though it was a rumor, it was still enough to warrant investigation. The Republic could ill afford the establishment of a Separatist supply depot so close to their space. General Skywalker was on Coruscant. Responsibility fell to Commander Tano to investigate.

    She took a small team. The rest of the 501st would be on its way to Coruscant to meet with the General. She would report back her findings. She took Rex as a matter of course. Echo and Fives, now veterans, were also selected. Four shinies, who showed some promise of leadership skills. A chance to prove themselves in the field, and to see the more experienced soldiers on a mission.

    What they found was a puzzle; a deep gorge, surrounded by humid green jungle, partially under construction. It appeared to have been recently worked on, even more recently abandoned, and abandoned quickly.

    They walked through the dark halls with trepidation, wondering if there were traps. They found none; only signs of a scramble to leave. Storage rooms that would have been cleared out were not properly emptied. A scattering of parts-stripped vulture droids and a pair of small transports rested silently on a landing platform beneath a wide outcropping of gray limestone.

    ?Why would they abandon a place they just started building? Discovery? What could have changed?? Ahsoka had asked.

    ?Don?t know,? Rex had replied. ?Something?s off. I?ve got a bad feeling about this.?

    Reporting back, they updated Admiral Yularen, who in turn sent a message on to Coruscant. They stayed two days, cataloguing what supplies were left, investigating the area on the chance someone had not fled the planet, and trying to recover the poorly erased files on the depot?s computers. It gave them no answers as to why they had left. It was a home of ghosts.

    They had brought their own transport from their landing site to the remains of the depot, and were preparing to depart when the order came.

    Rex received it first.

    He stood for a moment, uncertain. He straightened, hand tightening on the blaster at his hip. Commander Tano was slinging a heavy backpack over her shoulder, smiling and laughing at something one of the new men was saying.

    The others received it second.

    There was a pause across the landing bay, men stopping to listen. The Commander also stopped, her smile fading as she looked in puzzlement at her team, seemingly frozen where they stood.

    There was the metallic rattle of a blaster being picked up, then another. She looked to Rex, eyes wide, inquiring.

    His voice rang out as he began to move, slowly, too slowly. The words came thoughtlessly. ?Get down!?

    The whine of a blaster came; a sudden shot flew. The Commander, taken aback, was struck. She
  2. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Lovely beginning! =D= Your fic raises a very interesting point - that the clone troopers who made the best leaders were those with the most individuality, who thought for themselves the most. Which would actually be perfect if the clone troopers were truly intended to fight for a good cause in the galaxy - but which would not be the most desirable thing for Palpatine. Looking forward to seeing how Echo and Fives will rationalise the situation to themselves!

    If you will be keeping a PM list, would you please add me to it? Thanks! :)
    Jedi Knight Fett likes this.
  3. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - Thank you so much for your kind review! Echo and Fives will definitely be doing some thinking over their situation. [face_thinking]

    [i]This is Not Our Fate

    "But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
    So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

    'All Along the Watchtower' ? Bob Dylan[/i]


    Her eyes opened. The world faded back in, though muted.

    There was the sound of a medical readout chirping steadily beside her. There was the sound of Rex's breathing. He lifted his head to look at her. She shifted, the motion muffled by the heavy caking of bacta and gauze on her shoulder.

    It was then that she felt the [i]absence[/i].


    It went badly.

    It always went badly, these days. War was a grindstone, lives were the wheat ground within it. A mill of murder. Men carried off in lumpy sacks for swift burial. Rex was too tired to let the anger burn up to the surface. He'd been angry before. Sometimes it was a good focus. It narrowed the world down into [i]us [/i]against [i]them[/i], [i]clones[/i] against [i]droids, friends[/i] against [i]enemies[/i], and it was okay to be angry at the enemy, so long as it didn't cloud judgment. Judgment had to be clear. Bad judgment fed the mouth of the mill still further.

    He stood by a window, looking outward. Another ship limped along off the starboard prow of the Resolute. She held together, but streams of smoke were still trickling off into space. Teams would be working to make repairs, keep the old girl afloat.

    Insertion had been ugly. Fighting had been fierce. Extraction had taken too high a toll. Superiors were calling it a victory.

    Victory? He snorted. Over what?

    Terrified civilians running from machines as well as men.

    Names sifted through his mind, committing themselves to memory. There was no one off-ship to tell about their deaths. No one back home. No home. No home other than Kamino. He'd seek out friends onboard and deliver condolences. News of the deaths would not take long to reach their living brothers. They would mourn, and move on.

    It was the way of things. There was no time to grieve on the field. Men could get used to anything, given enough time. Even constant death.

    A quiet noise was made behind him, a small shuffle of the feet that would alert him to another presence, avoid startling him.

    Ahsoka stepped up beside him. He waited for her to try to cheer him up, but she did not. He waited, and realized she was not there to give encouragement. He returned his gaze to the black. They stood quietly for several minutes. He found himself beginning to calm.

    "I can talk to the men, if you like," she said after a time. "You don't always have to do it yourself."

    "I'm their Captain."

    "I'm their Commander."

    He looked at her sideways. "I'm their brother."

    She met his eyes, eventually gave a small nod. He looked away. She added, gently placing a hand on his shoulder, "It will end someday, Rex. Nothing lasts forever." She looked at the battered starship across from them. "Not even this war."

    She mourned them too. It was his responsibility, his duty, but she mourned them too. It was, strangely, a relief. She was one of them, a soldier on the front lines. She was also not one of them, and did not have to care. It was not quite like being an ordinary conscript, with a family and friends back on a homeworld. People waiting, people hoping, people praying for his safety. A rush of gratitude flooded him, and some odd sense of relief. It was unwise, for her to get too attached to him. Still, he did not want to be forgotten, or be left unmourned. So long as she outlived him, he would not be. A small way of continuing on.

    He was tired. He sagged a little. Her hand tightened on his shoulder. "Are you alright? You should rest."

    "So should you."

    She stepped closer, hand sliding to his back and arm slipping under his as though to hold him up. "Rex, if you're hurt and didn't go to the medbay?" her words trailed off warningly. Concern remained, but the gentle tone switched to a scolding one.

    He gave a single, sh>
  4. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Nice update! :)

    Poor Ahsoka, not yet realising what this heralds... :( I wonder how soon she will find out what Anakin has become?

    Lovely description of the interaction between Rex and Ahsoka. :) I wonder where the clone troopers are bringing her to?

    Thanks for the PM!
    Jedi Knight Fett likes this.
  5. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - I wonder where the clone troopers are bringing her to?
    :D You'll see next chapter. For now, flashback. And thank you for your comments!

    [i]Would Never Forgive What You Do

    You fasten the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion
    As young people's blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud

    'Masters of War'- Bob Dylan[/i]


    She did not expect to go inside with Anakin.

    The previous times they'd gone to see the Chancellor, she had been turned away at the door by a disinterested Palpatine. The Supreme Chancellor of the Republic had no time for Padawans.

    He did not greet them at the door this time, and as Anakin stepped inside, he looked back at her, tilted his head, and made a small gesture of welcome. She brightened. She was to be included, with the leader of the Republic.

    The Chancellor stepped from behind his desk, a look of mild disapproval swiftly hidden.


    Echo could not see.

    Rather, all he could see was the frantic flipping static within his helmet. The HUD was having a serious error. He shut his eyes tightly to block it out, moved to sit up and remove the offending piece of armor.

    Movement was a bad idea. Pain lanced through both his leg and head, and he yelped loudly, eyes shooting open to take in the wild spinning going on across his vision. It made him dizzy. He reeled, flat on his back again, this time aware he was oozing blood from the leg, as well as increasingly nauseous from a headache and a hyperactive helmet. He groaned. Everything hurt.

    He was yanked upward, and someone tugged the helmet off his head for him. Sudden brightness from the cloudless sky pierced his eyes. His head throbbed. He twisted to the side and puked.

    A minute later he managed to pry his eyes open again, without the light making him too completely photosensitive. He squinted at the legs in front of him, then upward.

    [i]Poodoo[/i]. Blue stripes on white. He'd just thrown up on the Captain.

    "Sorry, sir," he said, but it came out mostly as an indistinguishable groan. Everything tilted again and he flailed outward to keep himself sitting upright.

    "I've called a medic," Rex said, punching the HUD's reset button. "Looks like you hit your head when you went down. That's quite a lump." He glanced up, turned, and waved as a pair of soldiers, a repulsor gurney hovering between them, made their way over.

    Echo felt too sick for much relief when the Captain didn't mention the former contents of his stomach. A lump. That would explain the headache. Probably went down when his leg got hit.

    "Ready?" Rex asked, kneeling down and propping himself against Echo for support. Other hands arrived to help, and he found himself being lifted and then deposited onto the gurney. Blue sky skidded across his vision. Grey smoke moved thinly between the towering scrapers above. He lolled his head to the side, looked out sideways across the remains of the battlefield.

    It went badly. His head was clear enough through the foggy pain to remember that much. Civilians had been trying to escape the machine army coming up behind them. They'd run straight into the new combat zone, LAAT gunships dropping men down and then swooping back away for another load. There had been nowhere else for them to turn. He remembered his squad trying to usher a group behind the lines before things went dark.

    Bodies in civilian clothing lay scattered amid the white clone armor and broken bits of droid. Red blood ran into the mud, catching in puddles with machine oil. The scarlet pools shimmered gold on the surface from the grease. He heard the sound of whatever passed for carrion eaters on this planet calling to each other, punctuated by the occasional shout of a clone trooper chasing them off. His stomach began to churn again.

    He turned his head back to the sky. It was cerulean, serene. He ignored the winged carrion eaters.

    "Captain?" he asked as his stretcher turned to take him to whatever location had been turned into a field hospital.>
  6. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    My apologies for the late response - I was away on a hiking trip in China for the past week.

    Ack, encounters with Palpatine are always scary! I wonder what Palpatine had in mind for Ahsoka... [face_worried]

    Oh, the irony of this quote...better a Jedi with some radical opinions than a Sith Lord... :(

    Nice update!
    Jedi Knight Fett likes this.
  7. LadyLurker

    LadyLurker Jedi Youngling

    Dec 13, 2009
    Okay, I'll confess: I have no love for Ahsoka, but I adore her here. Rex, Echo, and Fives are fantastic - it's rare to find really decent Clone fics! This is incredible. Can't wait for more!

  8. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    First off, apologies. Real life took over for awhile, and I haven?t had a chance to upload new chapters. I?ll try to make up for it this week!

    Valiowk ? I hope you had fun in China!
    Lady Lurker - I seem to hear that a lot about Ahsoka. Hope you continue to enjoy the story!

    [i]Will Be Later to Win

    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin'.
    ?The Times They Are A-Changin?? ? Bob Dylan[/i]


    They sat in the mess, three identical men in a huddle.

    At their arrival, there was too much panic for them to be paid much attention. As things calmed slightly, they were given fearful looks. It was not the first time; they were soldiers, they were used to looks of fear. Fear of what they could do, fear of what they brought with them. As time progressed even further, they received looks of what they realized was shock, then something akin to awe.

    They were clones who had [i]disobeyed[/i]. No one had heard of such a thing. And the order they had disobeyed had changed the galaxy.

    Prying eyes would dart towards them, mouths would gossip. They didn?t know where to go, or what to do. It was unnerving. They were used to existing in a sea of anonymity and sameness.

    The mess was safe. They occupied themselves with food and their familiar faces, turning their backs to onlookers.

    A chair scraped outward, and Ahsoka plopped herself down. They looked up, startled at the sudden company. She laced her fingers together, set them on the table and announced, ?I have a proposition for you guys.?


    Two babies lay in a cradle.

    One was asleep. The other was looking straight upward, arms and legs flailing, trying to kick off the soft blanket, and succeeding only in entangling the fluffy pinkness more tightly around her. Round cheeks began to puff up and redden.

    ?Shh, shh,? Ahsoka said, leaning down and untangling the little girl. She stopped squirming, blinked and made a puckering motion with her lips, as though startled at the sudden absence of the annoyance. Her brown eyes closed as she burbled happily. Chubby arms reached outward, hands flailing.

    Ahsoka looked around. A droid-nurse was busy nearby, though didn?t seem to be paying attention. There was no rule she had heard that she was not allowed to touch them. She reached out. ?You want up?? she asked.

    Leia squealed happily, and Ahsoka smiled, carefully scooping her out of the crib and holding her cautiously. She bit her lip as Leia, with very little motor control yet, promptly banged her head into Ahsoka?s injured shoulder as she settled. It was still stiff from healing. Leia was squirming happily, no longer trapped into either bed or blanket. A plump hand repeatedly smacked the nearest lekku.

    She looked down at the baby. So much was resting on these two children. Leia was dark eyed and dark haired, tufts blooming around her head like a wispy chocolate halo. ?Hi there,? Ahsoka said, and Leia stopped her squirming for a moment to look up and blink. ?I guess, from a certain point of view, I?m your Aunt Ahsoka, huh??

    Leia made another happy noise and an attempt to grab Ahsoka?s nose.

    ?So you?re what happens because of attachment,? she said, lifting her nose out of reach. Leia frowned and waved a hand furiously. Ahsoka laughed a little, and offered her a finger instead. Newborn, chubby fingers batted at it for a moment, then grasped, curling firmly around. Ahsoka smiled down at her.

    It was hard to be angry about the babies. She could only pity Padme. She did not know what to think of Anakin. Her feelings were too conflicted. She thought she would have supported him, even covered for him, had she known, wrong as it was. Why hadn?t he trusted her? She would have sympathized, at the very least. Try as she might, she could not bring herself to feel that falling in love was such a terrible thing. She did not really understand how this could have happened. Master Skywalker had always been a little wild, a little too eager for action, even a little too protective. But those were understandable faults. How had they combined t>
  9. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    And Nobody Has to Think Too Much

    Praise be to Nero's Neptune
    The Titanic sails at dawn
    And everybody's shouting
    "Which Side Are You On?"

    ?Desolation Row? ? Bob Dylan

    Fives knelt behind a lichen covered tree, blaster poised, ready. Two troopers were making their way, slowly, towards him and the hidden pair behind him.

    Two Gungans, a mother and a daughter. They crouched low in a dip in the terrain, the mother holding the little girl tightly in her arms.

    It had gone well, until departure. Now half the swamplands of Naboo seemed to be alight. Smoke clogged the air, smoldering on wet woods, setting the eerie pathways of the Gungan lands into a foggy haze. The hot humidity hung with the stink of rot and smoke. They?d been separated in the chaos of running bodies, blaster fire and flames.

    Fives wished, so very much, that the pair they had set out to rescue had not followed [i]him [/i]through the melee.

    Two troopers, blasters poised, ready, held in grips so very much like his own. Two troopers, two brothers, on an opposite side of a battle. It was bizarre. It was wrong. He knew where his loyalty lay. The Republic. Always the Republic. Was it that different, going by a different name? Empire, Republic? How different were they, ruled by the same man and defended by the same army?

    It would be so easy. Set down his weapon. Step out. Give a story, say he?d been pulled along, unwillingly. The Commander said they?d be considered missing. He knew what she really meant. [i]Traitors. Deserters. [/i]

    The Captain, the Commander, Echo. He could leave them to themselves. If they escaped, fine. He wished them no ill. If they were caught, they would be traitors. He remembered rumors of a brother who had gone turncoat. He wouldn?t be like that. He knew where his loyalty lay.

    A white armored figure turned his way. A black visor prevented him from knowing exactly where the man looked, but it seemed to peer through the air, lock onto him. He leaned back slightly, around the curve of thick tree trunk.

    It was too hot. The humidity, the heat. Beads of sweat stank their way down his neck.

    He felt too exposed. He wanted his armor. Civilian clothes with bits of gear attached was pathetic. Flimsy. Smooth, seamless white armor. He missed it.

    He could step out. Set down his blaster. Raise his hands. Tell a story of coercion. He could go home.

    A faint rustle came from below him. He caught himself before he gasped. There was the sound of battle in the distance, but this was close.

    The little Gungan girl looked up at him. She was tucked flat against her mother, but her head peeped over the woman?s shoulder. A hand was free, and it was braced against the dirt and moss her mother leaned against. A couple of pebbles skittered downward, set loose from her touch.

    Yellow eyes looked up at him, and her head tilted to the side. She blinked solemnly at him.

    The girl couldn?t be more than four, perhaps five standard years old.

    He wished them no ill.

    A boom of gunfire echoed off surrounding hills. There were other troopers in the swamplands. He didn?t know their mission, but it was tearing through the wetlands. He?d seen Gungans struck down as he and the others had run into the mob that separated them. There were not really that many soldiers. But they were armed, professional, and descending on an unsuspecting and unprepared city. They?d never attacked so defenseless a place before. Why now?

    Fives? breathing grew jagged. A little girl. She blinked up at him.

    His brothers were tearing apart a city to capture a little girl. A little future Jedi. He frowned. [i]Execute Order 66.[/i] The Jedi are traitors. That couldn?t possibly mean younglings. That was insane.

    It was all [i]wrong[/i]. They were the good guys. The heroes. Heroes in white armor, doing what had to be done for the betterment of all.

    What did destroying a defenseless city have to do with it?

    Yellow little girl?s eyes were watching him. Her wide mouth slowly began to stretch into a smile, chin tilted upward hopefully. [i]Trusting[/i].

    He turned back to>
  10. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Wonderful updates! =D= You've done a fantastic job of exploring Ahsoka's and Fives' thoughts as they adjust to a completely different galaxy.

    You convey a wealth of meaning in these two paragraphs. On one hand, the clones are still struggling to come to terms with the idea that they have disobeyed orders and fear their fate if they are captured; on the other hand, they have almost become heroes to the common folk around them who have seen the world around them changed so radically but who have not had the courage to act against it, whereas these clones have. The contrast is truly stark.

    Lovely insight into Ahsoka's thoughts at this point of time. You've captured Ahsoka very well here - not really mad at anyone, conflicted about what to make of Anakin's actions, and in general confused about how attachment can lead to such grave consequences when the rest of the galaxy goes on falling in love and doesn't wreck destruction upon themselves.

    Very interesting observation you've brought up here. We know from the OT that Obi-Wan didn't believe that Anakin could be redeemed, so that suggests that he indeed hoped that the twins would be able to bring down their father, but that is indeed a cruel thing to hope for... At the end of it all, it seems that even Yoda and Obi-Wan were reluctant to use attachment to attempt to bring Anakin back to the light, perhaps because the earlier consequences of attachment had left too deep a scar on them.

    Wonderful exploration of Fives' thoughts on Naboo. I can understand how he was concerned that going along with Ahsoka was going to make him a traitor to the Republic, and it was lovely to see him thinking about what he witnessed on Naboo and wh
  11. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    First, I've got to say...I'm really excited! Said the Joker to the Thief has been nominated for a few different awards at this year's Saga Fanfic Awards! To whoever made the nominations, thank you ever so much! [:D] You're the best! [face_love]

    Valiowk - Thank you for the detailed review! It's been an interesting time figuring out how Ahsoka and the boys would react to such major changes, not just in their lives, but galaxy-wide.

    [i]No Use to Sit and Wonder

    It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
    That light I never knowed
    An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
    I'm on the dark side of the road
    Still I wish there was somethin' you would do or say
    To try and make me change my mind and stay

    ?Don?t Think Twice, It?s All Right? ? Bob Dylan


    Fire bloomed between her fingertips.

    She set it to the wick of the candle, watched it catch. A bit of smoke curled upwards past her face.

    The light flickered and danced, red-yellow flame gleaming off azure eyes.


    ?You have [i]got[/i] to be using the Force!? Fives groaned, tossing his sabacc cards onto the table in exasperation.

    Ahsoka laughed in response, waving a hand and insisting, ?I?m not, I swear!? She puffed up with as much theatrical, mock self-importance as she could muster. She placed a hand over her heart. ?A Jedi does not cheat.? Then she stuck her tongue out at him.

    Rex snickered, and Echo tried not to snort liquid through his nose, being halfway through a swig of ale.

    They sat in a ring around the table just off the ship?s galley, an impressive array of fruit, snacks and sweets littering the table. Candy wrappers were scattered in little hills around their feet. Several empty bottles of Corellian ale were sitting in front of them, frosty glass towers standing upright amid the mess and the chips in the center of the table.

    They?d spoiled themselves. They all knew they shouldn?t have, but it was the first time any of them had been let loose in a grocery store with money to spend. They had managed to come out with enough food for daily consumption, but all four of them had returned with baskets well laden with seemingly irresistible junk as well.

    They were receiving a stipend. It wasn?t a great deal of money, but enough to keep them in fuel, food and weapons, with a little on the side for any repairs they might need to make. The ship was mostly theirs, on loan from a concerned Senator of Alderaan.

    Their mission was twofold, covert. Reconnaissance and, if possible, rescue. It was too dangerous, in the volatile aftermath of the Republic?s fall, to take much direct action against the newly formed Empire. Too many rumors, both unsubstantiated and confirmed, floated around, telling of the deaths of Jedi who survived Order 66 and attempted to fight back. Jedi hunted down to bolt-holes and rooted out. For now, they would watch, wait, and report. And move. They would keep their heads down, but their ears open and eyes sharp. If they could find any surviving Jedi, any surviving Force-sensitives, they would quietly help them vanish, scatter.

    They had already learned Naboo and its Queen Apailana silently held sympathies for the Jedi. It was good news. Another possible haven to hide in, once things calmed in the Gungan swamplands. They had successfully gotten Roo-Roo and her mother to Alderaan.

    Three well-trained clone troopers and a newly minted Jedi Knight were an army unto themselves - if a little unsure of how to work as a small unit. They?d begun the evening talking strategy. The rescue of the Gungans had ended entirely too messily.

    Things had devolved into fun when the ale and sabacc cards were broken out.

    ?Then how do you explain that smug look?? Fives was continuing, holding an accusing finger at her. ?You?ve won all three of the other rounds!?

    Ahsoka gave him her sweetest, most innocent expression. ?Smug? [i]Me[/i]??

    ?Yeah,? Rex added, ?[i]That[/i] look.?

    Ahsoka gasped. ?You too, Rex?? She clutched at her heart as though wounded. Rex just laughed more. ?Seriously though,? she contin>
  12. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Lovely description of the ensemble when they have some time (and a small stipend) to themselves. =D= It totally makes sense that this would happen when "any of them [were] let loose in a grocery store with money to spend", and it's very heartwarming to see them spoil themselves in this extremely innocent manner. :p

    Hehe, I was wondering about that too. :p

    Looking forward to seeing Ahsoka caring and being attached in future chapters - I'm sure she'll discover that caring and being attached places new choices before her that she did not have to make previously, and some of the decisions she makes may not be in the best interests of everybody - but I believe that after some time she'll learn how to balance care and attachment with general interests. :)

    So Anakin thinks Ahsoka is dead. That's probably good news for now - one person off her trail!

    Congratulations on the nominations for the Saga FanFIc Awards - this is a wonderful story and I'm glad to see that it was recognised! :)
  13. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Note: We start off with a flashback! Beware. ;)

    Valiowk - It was a really fun scene to write, just the four of them goofing around a bit. And I didn't want this fic to turn into 'Ahsoka vs. Vader' every other chapter, so he'll continue thinking she's dead. Besides, I'm sure 'Ahsoka vs. Vader' has been done by now. [face_laugh] And thanks for the encouragement on the awards. [:D]

    [i]Hangin? From a Tree

    It didn?t take them long to try him in their court of law
    He was guilty then of thinking, a crime much worse than all
    They sentenced him to die so his seed of thought can?t spread
    And infect the little children; that what the law had said
    ?Two Hangmen? ? Mason Proffit[/i]


    The light of the force field cast a pale blue pall over the room.

    Rex did not want to look over at the cell, or see the man standing within. It was hard to resist though. Some basic, inner need to stare at a disaster, to be appalled and shocked at the source. He did not gawk, but kept the look cool, a simple tilt of the head in the right direction, a cut of the eyes toward the brother who?d betrayed them all, now locked up.

    He turned to the guard on duty, a trooper named Clink. ?He been keeping quiet??

    ?Yes, sir,? came the instant reply.

    He wanted to ask if Slick really understood the consequences of what he?d done. There had only been a handful of injuries in the evening?s explosions, but it would be the casualties tomorrow that would show the real extent of his actions. Heavy cannons would be a help, but without the rest of their ground assault, it would make it harder to fight off the Separatists. Harder inevitably meant higher casualties.

    Claimed he loved his brothers. Poodoo. Maybe he wasn?t pulling the trigger himself, but he?d taken away a part of their ability to defend themselves. Claimed he did it for freedom. What use was [i]freedom[/i] if everyone you?re fighting for is [i]dead[/i]?

    It was [i]stupid[/i]. The results and wrongness of his actions seemed so [i]clear[/i]. Slick couldn?t be stupid enough not to understand that.

    The only question was why he did it [i]anyway[/i].

    Some measure of his confusion, his distain, must have showed in his face.

    From his place within the cell, Slick said, leaning casually against the doorway, just before the containment field began, ?You really don?t get it, do you??

    Rex fought the urge to scoff and order him to shut up. He settled for a scowl. Slick looked strangely thoughtful. He snorted after a moment.

    ?You?ll understand someday. Maybe not now, but you will.? He snorted again, and followed it with a mirthless laugh. ?Anyone still alive when this nightmare ends will, in one way or another.? He pushed off the wall, turned, and sat down on the cot against the back wall of the cell.

    Rex exchanged a look with Clink, who shook his head and shrugged. ?He?s been saying that to just about everyone who?s come in here.?

    Rex looked again towards the cell. Slick had lain down with his face to the wall and back to his guards.

    There was no choice about tomorrow?s battle. There was no choice but to fight. It was what they were born for; their purpose in life. Every clone knew this from as far back as he could remember. They were heroes, protecting and freeing the galaxy.

    He called them [i]slaves[/i].

    It was repugnant, an insult to everything they worked for. They were [i]soldiers[/i]. That had a meaning. They had a purpose.

    He put his helmet back on. He?d checked on the prisoner. He had work to do, and not much time to rest before the fighting began.

    Still, the word settled in the back of his mind like a seed. The years slowly watered it, until it began to grow.


    Everything had gone according to plan, until now.

    Rex was on his way out. Timing had been delicate. He?d gotten the right alarms down, and the right doors up, on the southern side of the complex?s outer wall. Judging by the repeated [i]boom-rumble[/i] of explosions outside, Echo and Fives? little distraction was playing merry hell with the ground assault vehicles kept in t>
  14. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Lovely insight into Rex's thoughts on the situation, and a little of Cody's too. I like the way you look at each clone's take on the situation - all motivated by the notion that the Empire is not the same as the Republic they used to serve, but differing in their immediate response: Rex quickly decides that he's turning "traitor" and following Ahsoka; Fives follows Ahsoka, but with a lot more doubt about whether he should be doing so; Cody decides to be an inside agent... You do a great job showing the clones as distinct individuals despite their common genes! =D=
  15. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - Thank you! :) They are all individuals, despite their faces and why not different responses?

    Stand Up Be Counted With All the Rest

    Can't you see it?
    Can't you feel it?
    It's all in the air
    I can't stand the pressure much longer
    Somebody say a prayer

    ?Mississippi Goddam? ? Nina Simone

    It was festive.

    Of all the things Fives? expected to see during a protest, music and dancing were not among them. They?d come to observe, and with three men of identical height, stature and face, they?d broken up to wander around. Fives was pacing around the perimeter of the landing areas, trying to gather the courage to venture further in. It was a lot of people who were not brothers; one of the largest non-military crowds he?d seen in his short life, and the mix of hopeful defiance and celebration was somewhat intimidating.

    The sound of repeated, chanting slogans began to rise up from deeper in the crowd, taken up by neighbors. Feet began to stomp and hands began to clap as voices were raised, the tune drifting overhead and mingling with the smells of profit-hunting food vendors taking advantage of the gathering. The chant was catching. Fives found himself nodding along to it. A couple of speeders raced overhead, slogans painted on flags streaming out the windows. Some journalists were huddled nearby, hovercams buzzing around their heads as they reported the goings on. Local police patrolled the edges of the crowd, expressions mildly watchful, benign.

    The people of Ghorman were supportive of the Empire. They, like many, had been relieved by the formation of the Empire, and the peace it was promising to deliver.

    Then the taxes came. To people already being drained from the Clone War years, the crushingly high levels of taxation were an added burden. Though the Empire continued to reassure them their money was going to relief funding, the people saw no such assistance themselves. Economies stalled, jobs disappeared, money seemed to be funneled only away from their world rather than towards it.

    Discontent began to rise, but hope for a peaceful future was still strong. And so they assembled peacefully.

    People of varied species would occasionally drift past him, sometimes away, but usually towards the protesters. The crowd was slowly but steadily swelling. He took a deep breath and straightened up, trying to find a good entry spot. He didn?t want to get in too close to the actual landing platforms. Governor Tarkin was expected to arrive, and he didn?t want to be too close to the soldiers that would inevitably arrive with him. He needed to be just another face in the crowd.

    This was one of the few visible signs of discontent beginning to bubble up from the fall of the Republic. What happened here could signal the way the Empire would handle future diplomatic doctrine.

    Fives edged his way around the crowd, ducking a large man wielding an oversized musical instrument. It seemed a little bizarre to him. This could turn very ugly once troops landed. He supposed the people here didn?t have reason to suspect the Empire. Not yet, at least.

    There was a tap on his shoulder.

    He spun, hand dropping towards his blaster. The woman who had startled him leapt back, datapad clutched to her chest, eyes wide. He grimaced and relaxed. In turn, so did she.

    ?Sorry, I didn?t mean to surprise you,? she apologized, looking a little nervous, then straightened as she launched into what sounded like an often-repeated speech. ?I?m getting signatures for the petition to our Senator.? She shoved the datapad at him. ?Could you sign??

    ?Uh?? Fives said, staring at her offered datapad rather stupidly for a moment. Of course he couldn?t sign, even if he wanted to.

    She saw his hesitation, and plowed forward, stepping closer and causing him to back up, trying not to trip into one of the other people wandering past. ?It?s alright if you don?t live on-world.? She gave him a critical eye. ?Spacer, huh? Freighter work, by the looks of you. If you come through Ghorman often, it would be helpful for you >
  16. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Lovely post of a different flavour after all the focus on the clones' reactions towards their decision to desert the army and follow Ahsoka. =D= I was hoping that we would be seeing Fives in a romance for the next few posts, but Behri clearly decided otherwise after discovering Fives' identity. :( Nevertheless, it was lovely to see Fives wondering desperately how to pick up a girl and then realising that she was actually flirting with him! Any chance that Behri will rethink her decision to avoid Fives? (Also, any chance of Rex/Ahsoka? :p It's perfectly all right if you aren't planning anything along those lines - it just seems like a fun idea to play with. :p)
  17. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - LOL, now why would you be getting the impression this was going to turn into a Rex/Ahsoka? :p As for Behri changing her mind, I think the best answer to that is, "Yes, but not in this fic." O:) I'm bogged down in a couple other projects and real life right now, but I'm planning on coming back to this timeline and writing more later. Behri will be included.

    [i]In the Shadows Where No One Can See

    They move in the shadows
    where no one can see
    And they're chainin' up people
    and they're bringin' em to me
    askin' me,
    "Kill them NOW, or LATER?"
    Askin' ME!
    "Kill them now, or later?"

    ?Pirate Jenny? ? Nina Simone[/i]


    It was so still at the factory.

    It was late; the small hours of the morning left the fewest people inside. Technicians, drafters, scientists, engineers were all away for the night. There were a few maintenance droids about, as well as some measures of security. It was the latter that Ahsoka was concerned with. The best way of doing this little operation was the quietest. Rex, Echo and Fives all had positions without, ready to unleash chaos outside if she needed a distraction or a rescue. With a little luck, it wouldn?t be necessary.

    A guard walked steadily past, below her. Light and shadow cast stripes across her face, thrown from the slats in the grate she was peering through. She could hear his steps fading, pause, shuffle as he turned, then began to walk again, down another hallway.

    She raised a hand upward, and watched as the four bolts that held the grate in place slowly began to spin counterclockwise, unscrewing themselves silently. As they slipped out, they began to fall towards the floor. A flick of her fingers, and they floated up through the grate and towards her. She set them aside, looped her fingers through the slats, and pulled the grate up and into the ventilation shaft.

    It did not get her the whole way to her destination, but hiding out in the air ducts got her most of the way in, unseen, though she?d had to be careful with the security going through the outer portions. Getting sliced up by a few overzealous lasers was not her idea of fun.

    She dropped down silently, the long, brown coat she wore trailing, then settling onto the floor behind her. Ahsoka cast a quick glance behind her, the direction the guard had gone. He radiated dull boredom, the result of repeated rounds of sentry duty and no expected surprises. She made a faint gesture towards her lightsaber, checking for its familiar presence. It did not rest, as it used to, at her hip, but rather in a modified shoulder holster. It had been over a year now, since she could wear it openly; instead, a blaster hung from her right hip, and a vibroblade had taken her lightsaber?s place on her side.

    It still did not feel natural, and she suspected it never really would. She had, however, grown accustomed to it. Also to the annoying white face paint that altered the markings of her skin, turning her eyelids solid white and her cheeks into white ovals. If caught, it would not take long to identify her as [i]Ahsoka Tano[/i], but so long as she was not caught, the small changes would help blur her identity.

    She murmured to herself, ?Here we go,? as she slipped a circuit disruptor over the lock. After a moment, the door slid obediently open, the security measures overridden. It shushed to a close once she was inside the drafting room. She headed for the wall of computers.

    Plucking a datastick out of a pocket on her belt, she slipped it into a dataport and began to hack the mainframe. Security from within wasn?t so bad; trying to hack from outside the factory?s intranet required slicing skills none of them had quite attained ? yet. Echo was cheerfully reading every manual he could access. She would grab what information she could, but she mostly wanted any data on the new dual ion engine fighters they?d begun to see accompanying Imperial destroyers. Blowing up the entire factory was tempting, but would bring too much attention, too much security, and not really do much in the end. More>
  18. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Extremely intriguing update here - so Ventress is "on Ahsoka's side" now! I wonder if Ventress gave Ahsoka the information to repay Ahsoka for her trust in giving Ventress the name of her ship, or whether she had been planning to give it to the first Jedi she encountered anyway. I do hope we'll be able to see Ventress again after some chapters! Also looking forward to seeing how the hunt for the survivors will go. :)

    Love the twists and turns in your story so far! =D=
  19. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - I think Ventress is mostly on Ventress's side. [face_laugh] For the moment, they share a common enemy/goal/situation. And there really aren't that many Jedi running around anymore, so I'd have to say yes, she planned on giving it directly to Ahsoka. As for seeing more of Ventress...I have to repeat, "Yes, but not in this fic." O:) Sorry?

    [i]Or You Can Do What You Are Told

    I've seen your heads hiding 'neath blankets of fear,
    When the paths they are plain and the choices are clear,
    But with each passing day, boys, the cost is more dear,
    For these are the days of decision.

    ?Days of Decision? - Phil Ochs[/i]


    CT-26-1409 slid himself into the training module, in perfect synch with his brothers.

    He slipped on the helmet resting on the console, the visor covering his eyes and resting somewhat uncomfortably on the bridge of his nose. It pressed too hard. The helmet felt too big, and he reached up to balance it while groping for the gun that was set beside the helmet. He slipped little fingers onto the trigger, and aimed it blindly at the transparasteel screen in front of him.

    There was a whirr, and a gruff voice announced, ?Begin exercise.?

    The world behind the visor burst into colorful, virtual life. He looked down at his hands, which were filled with a detailed, if vaguely cartoonish DC-15, not the plastic, white toy actually in his hands. He bent forward. Brothers winged out to his right. He was in the leftmost module. He hurried to keep up. The vee-formation became more of a ragged huddle as they surged forward, then broke into two smaller groups, ducking behind a break in the terrain and a busted up AT-TE walker as red blaster bolts erupted into a shower overhead.

    CT-26-1409 lay down cover fire as CT-26-1405 and CT-26-1410 edged forward and tried to find a breach in the artificially created droid defenses. He concentrated his fire and aimed carefully, though it was only the second shot that hit the biggest droid in the head, sending it shooting sparks out of its neck. It keeled over with a thud then poofed out of existence.

    Two more were taken down; the squad rushed forward into the gap, firing as they went. Gray droids vanished as they worked their way though. They had to get to the extraction point at the end of the exercise. That was the goal. The terrain changed; the plains gave way to woods, and they took to darting between and behind trees.

    CT-26-1409 was determined not to be afraid. He knew what was coming. He could hear it at night, when they curled up into their bunks. He would pull a blanket over his head, tightly, to try to block out the sounds. He preferred the quiet. The quiet classes of testing flash-taught regs and strategy were more enjoyable than this. And this would be better than what they would all soon be subjected to. His brothers were scared too, in their own ways. CT-26-1408, CT-26-1407 and CT-26-1410 liked to sit up and tell stories. They were repetitive and simplistic, usually elaborated, heroic versions of exercises they?d done that day, with big parties at the end, filled with sweets they?d only heard of existing. The stories only stopped when the rattling of the walls did. That?s how he knew they were just trying to ignore the noise too, and didn?t mind them keeping him awake.

    It was too quiet in the simulation. He could hear his own breathing. CT-26-1406 jogged ahead several steps, peered out from behind a tree, then alerted them, ?Minefield.?

    Twinges of fear. They moved a little closer to each other for a moment, in thoughtless unity and support. Breathing became regulated. CT-26-1405 took the lead as he often did. They moved forward, displays within their helmets scanning frantically. It was no fun ?dying? in one of these exercises, opening your eyes to a disappointed sergeant and a feeling of disoriented nausea. It didn?t happen often anymore. There was only the most slender of margins for error, and even that little net would be gone in time. They had to be perfect. Only perfection kept you alive. Perfection and obedience to >
  20. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Another lovely update! I particularly liked the first section, where you described a clone training exercise and referred to the clones by their serial numbers - it illustrated very well how scary it is to refer to humans with such obvious personalities - 1405 a leader, 1407, 1408, 1410 liking to party - by nothing more than consecutive numbers! And the last line, "CT-26-1409 was not quite three years old", really broke my heart at the artificiality of it all.

    Interesting to see a normal clone trooper's (apart from Rex's, Echo's and Fives') reaction to the mess around him - we've seen Commander Cody's reaction earlier on, but Cody was probably programmed to have more flexibility in his thoughts and had probably been exposed to more situations too. One wonders how representative this is of the general clone population and what will happen with other clones who don't encounter this group...
  21. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    The World Upon Your Shoulders

    And any time you feel the pain, Hey Jude, refrain
    Don't carry the world upon your shoulders
    For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool
    By making his world a little colder

    ?Hey, Jude? ? The Beatles

    Yavin IV felt different than the others.

    It was no one specific thing. Over the last several weeks, Ahsoka, Rex, Echo and Fives had been doing preliminary scans of planets without Imperial presence, but in sectors and systems of potential strategic importance. A war against the Empire was still years off; it was possible there would never even be one. But a foundation must be laid. Rebellions did not grow up overnight, but in fits and starts and with cautious, wary guidance.

    Ahsoka had seen enough habitable planets and moons since the survey began to make her dizzy. They seemed to blend together, spending only a day or two exploring. A jungle, then a temperate zone, then a desert, then an ice planet. Another jungle, a woodland with tall deciduous trees making a riot of color in the cooling months, a subtropical shell-scattered beach. More desert. And now yet another jungle world.

    It was different somehow. She wandered idly, pausing here and there throughout the ruins they?d found. Echo had mentioned that the ziggurat was in reasonable shape for being so old. There were even areas that looked like they might have once served as hangar bays on the lower levels, ages ago, though now the stonework was broken and covered in jungle flora.

    She wondered if she was just being paranoid. It reminded her too much of the world where they had all been when Order 66 had gone out, a lifetime ago. The steep caverns, the pressing humidity, the smell of dirt and plants. Of stagnant water, of decaying foliage, but also the burgeoning life growing out of it.

    Leaping lightly over a pile of stone rubble, Ahsoka continued climbing the stairway. Shafts of light breaking through the uppermost level caught her attention. She turned towards it. What had once been a pair of great doors were now fallen from their hinges, the wood rotted and black with age and mildew.

    Light glanced down from cracks in the ceiling, striking the ground like dusty fingers. Moss and vines covered the floor, hung down the walls like carpets and drapes. Bright, spindly petaled flowers sprung up in little crevasses in the floor, pale pinks and lavenders and yellows. A couple of large insects buzzed across the open space, darting in repeated, circular patterns. Crystalline wings glittered in the sunlight. A third darted upward as she stepped forward, hummed around her for a second, then landed on her shoulder. It flicked its wings. She stared at it, unsure if it was poisonous or not. Multifaceted eyes seemed to catch prism colors. It was striped a dangerous looking black and yellow down its thorax and abdomen. It clung tightly to the fabric of her coat. She tilted her head, watching it, then lightly lifted a hand and prodded it with a finger.

    It burst into flight and darted off towards one of the still pools of rainwater that were collected on the ground.

    Ahsoka looked around the room again, and tried to imagine it without all the encroaching nature. Long, rectangular. High ceilings. Flat, paved stone floors. Carved columns of stone. A raised pavilion at the end of the rectangle.

    It was an audience chamber.

    She stepped further into the room, carefully. The view from this height would be spectacular, if the floor was still solid enough for walking on. She paused, knelt down with the tips of her lekku brushing the floor, closed her eyes. The stone had been hewn ages ago, but it was still rock, still breathing with the Force. She set a pair of fingers down against the cool, slick stone. It hummed, full of the feeling of [i]solidity, strength, age[/i]. The surface of it was full of the skittering souls of small wildlife. Insects, smaller reptiles. They danced their daily dance of [i]sunning, hunting, feeding, sleeping[/i]. The rock was solid, the fauna not particularly dangerous so long as she stayed away fr>
  22. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Hurray for Rex/Ahsoka! [face_dancing] For two people without any romantic experience whatsoever, they're not doing too badly. ;) I hope Ahsoka will be able to figure out the difference between attachment and obsession and be comfortable with being in a relationship soon. :)

    Echo and Fives are cute when they're gossiping. :p

    I didn't quite understand this part:
    Is there something special about the last shift? :confused:

    Great update! =D=

  23. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - Glad you're enjoying the Rex/Ahsoka. :D As for the last shift, I suppose what I had in mind was that when Echo was done with his shift, he'd go back to his room for more sleep or to get ready to start the day, and see the only one who spent the night there after an earlier shift was Fives. O:)

    [i]If I?m Laden at All

    The road is long
    With many a winding turn
    That leads us to who knows where
    Who knows where?.

    ?He Ain?t Heavy, He?s My Brother? ? The Hollies[/i]


    Echo leaned against the ledge of the computer console, a brow arched wryly and a funny smile playing about his face.

    It wasn?t that Rex was late. Not really, anyway. Rex was never late for his shift on the bridge. It?s just that usually he was five minutes early, and it was now a minute past his start time. If it was either Ahsoka or Fives, he?s assume they were getting some caf before wandering in for their turn at watch, finishing a conversation, or maybe just taking a quick run to the refresher before settling in. But not Rex, who liked to be an example to the men serving under him ? or in this case, the men he was working with. This was the third time Rex was not early, or at least not precisely on time.

    Echo glanced idly at the chrono on his wrist. Not quite three minutes yet ? the door slid open, and Rex appeared in the archway.

    The two men stared at each other for a moment. Rex looked blank. Echo looked amused.

    ?What?? Rex said, after a moment, when Echo didn?t leave.

    Echo shrugged, straightened himself, stepped forward and said, ?You and Ahsoka, huh??

    Rex blinked, then a certain flush bloomed across his face.

    Echo grinned, clapped Rex on the shoulder once, then headed for the galley, managing not to laugh until the door closed behind him.


    Rubbing his eyes, Echo leaned back in the chair far enough to tilt it onto its back legs.

    It was good to be planetside. Fresh food, fresh air, solid ground under his feet. Little chance of anyone shooting at him. Safe, peaceful planets were the best.

    Still, the holonet terminal beckoned before him, glowingly; he?d been staring at it for hours, trying to collate various pieces of data. Dates of disappearance against the date of a skirmish in the Outer Rim between an armed freighter and an Imperial scout ship. That against the dates of sale of various ships that met the freighter?s description. Documents of transported goods between various Outer and Mid-Rim planets by a group that might fit the description of the man, the woman, and the boy wanted by the Empire.

    The boy was on Ventress? list. The parents were apparently working as smugglers now, having been former employees of a small freight company working off Corellia. It was amazing they?d lasted so long, under the radar - if it really was the right family, and they really had made it out of the skirmish with the scout alive.

    If they had, they wouldn?t have much time to ditch the freighter and their cargo, and either try to switch ships and run, or just go to ground. He pressed his fingers into his eyes again and felt them tear up from the light of the screen. It was a puzzle. He enjoyed this aspect of the work more than the others, and usually volunteered for it. The other three found it tedious. It could be, at times, he supposed, but finding bits of information that [i]matched up[/i] and gave them a clue, even a direction to point their search in, gave him an enormous sense of satisfaction.

    Ventress? list had begun to run cold several months ago now. They?d gotten several kids and families out from that lead. It was bizarre, taking information from the former Separatist Commander, but none of the information had been bad or led them into a trap.

    A soft noise alerted him. Very faint, a vague scuffle against the floorboards. He lifted his arms, dropped the chair onto all four legs, and twisted to the left, a hand coming down quickly to grab at the figure lunging at him.

    Roo let out a high pitched squeal that turned into a giggle as Echo rumpled her ear flaps, pulled into pigtails>
  24. Valiowk

    Valiowk Chosen One star 6

    Apr 23, 2000
    Fives has come a long way from the person who was afraid to turn against the Empire earlier on!

    Some come, some go - it's a learning journey for all of them. Will Ahsoka and Rex be the only constants in the group as they teach other clones to lead lives as free men?

    Great update! :)
  25. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    May 23, 2010
    Note: Flashback warning! [face_idea] Also, "nerra" means "brother" in Twi'leki.

    Valiowk - Will Ahsoka and Rex be the only constants? More or less. :) That's not to say the others aren't around.

    [i]The Faces of People Going By

    The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
    Are also on the faces of people going by
    I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
    They're really saying I love you.

    ?What a Wonderful World? ? Louis Armstrong


    They were not going far from Kamino.

    Hevy was annoyed. He wanted to blast droids.

    Cutup was bored. He wanted to do something interesting.

    Fives was resigned. It was a post, like any other, if quieter.

    Echo was watchful of his brothers. They were sitting, strapped into their seats in the back of the shuttle. He?d met each of them before deployment, but this was the first time he?d spent more than a few minutes with any of them. It was a chance to observe, to get to know who he?d be spending so much time with, possibly even through the end of the war.

    Hevy was stretched out as much as he could be, legs out in front of him, slouched in his seat, head tilted back just enough that his helmet was resting against the back of his headrest. An occasional snort of irritation came through his audio channel into Echo?s helmet. Cutup was in a similar position, though seemed to find the ceiling interesting judging by the tilt of his helmet, and he would periodically roll his head and look at the others, as though to see if anything had changed. Then he?d go back to looking at the ceiling, half dozing. Fives sat up straight, officially at ease, though not really. As the others displayed by their relaxed postures, the relatively short trip to Kamino was a boring one. Fives not stretching out showed a somewhat less easy mindset than he would be hoping for others to believe.

    Echo had pushed his feet out a bit, but was leaning forward and reading over the manual regarding regulations at Rishi Station. He had to admit, it was a quiet trip, and the manual gave him something to occupy himself with. If these guys were at all like his brothers ? his close brothers, now scattering across the galaxy ? they?d need someone with a solid understanding of procedure if anything unexpected ever came up. He wouldn?t be the one to let them down.

    This was their first trip through hyperspace, as none of them were pilots. Real hyperspace. He wished he could sit up in the bridge, look out one of the windows. Simulated hyperspace couldn?t be as interesting as real hyperspace, he figured. Rainbow colors from across the spectrum, streaked with white stars, flying past as they shot through the sky. Instead there was only the dull grey of the walls, the nausea green of the seats, and the dirty yellow of the interior lighting system. He contented himself with the reg manual and listing to the sound of engines ? real engines ? humming throughout the ship.

    ?Do you think there?s going to be [i]anything[/i] to do at this post?? Hevy muttered, folding his arms. Echo?s brow creased, worrying. It was going to be a long, hard haul if that was the attitude Hevy was taking.

    Cutup answered him, tucking his arms behind his helmet and leaning back. ?Oh yeah. Rishi?s a resort. We can play boloball, watch holonet, go on hikes. It?ll be great.?

    Echo frowned. ?Hiking would be a bad idea. Rishi?s got some large natural predators.? The other three looked at him, their helmets cocked to the side and black visors masking their expressions. ?What? Regs say there are these large??

    ?That was a joke. Get your head out of the manual.? Cutup shifted in his seat uncomfortably. ?Is that why they call you Echo??

    Echo scowled, then hung his head, embarrassed. He glared down at the manual?s screen, not answering. His brothers ? his real brothers ? hadn?t made it sound like an insult, even in jest. He missed them. Binder, Watch, Trip, Spin, Tales. He wondered if they were alright. Watch was on the way to the front as a scout. Binder hadn?t gotten his Commander rank, but he was starting out as a l>
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