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Saga Warning Signs: TCW era, Adventure/Drama, featuring clones, Obi-Wan, and OCs. Updated 3/17/14

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by laloga, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Title: Warning Signs
    Author: laloga (Lauren)
    Characters: Assorted clones, (Cody & OCs), Obi-Wan Kenobi, and an OC Jedi, Kalinda Halcyon
    Genre: Drama, Adventure, (With hints of romance!)
    Era: TCW
    Rating: K+
    Summary: It's just another day in the life of clone trooper CC-3077; after he meets a particular Jedi, however, nothing is ever the same. Companion piece to "Old Wounds," and features OCs, as well as cameos of Obi-Wan, Commander Cody & Captain Rex.

    Sometimes characters get demanding, to the tune of, “I don't care how many other projects you have, you silly writer, I want my story told. Now.” That's what happened, here. My OC clone Stonewall was very insistent that I jot down his perspective of the fic Old Wounds...then, this.

    Speaking of OW, it's been updated to accommodate both of the timelines that I've managed to create; I've also cleaned it up and made it more “read-able.” I highly recommend taking a peek: my goal is to have this fic and OW flow together seamlessly, so I'd appreciate feedback on whether or not I pulled that off.

    Many thanks to sachariah for being my second pair of eyes! It helps, it really does. :)

    Shocking revelation: I don't own Star Wars! Wish I did...I do, however, own Kalinda, Stonewall, and any other OCs who meander through. Also I make no money off of the writing/posting of this.

    Please read and enjoy! Comments are always welcome. :D

    Note: This story takes place approximately one year into the Clone Wars.


    Warning Signs
    Chapter One: Meeting

    Because, there was nothing of even peripheral interest on the planet Basrah, Lieutenant Stonewall was cleaning his DC-15A blaster – again.

    Moving of their own accord, his hands had disassembled the weapon – affectionately known as a “deece” – and set the components aside so that he could run a cleaning cloth over the various pieces to ensure that each one was free of dirt, grime, and carbon scouring; it was important, he knew, to keep the weapon in perfect working order, but the action, repetitive as it was, also gave him something to do.

    Despite the presence of several other clones in his immediate area, there wasn't much in the way of conversation around him, so he was alone with his thoughts.

    It wasn't a bad way to be, not really. Maybe a little boring at times, but he didn't mind thinking over battle strategies or mulling over contingency plans, should things take a turn for the unexpected. Preparation was a key element of victory, after all, and it wasn't like he had much else to occupy his mind while he examined every nook and cranny of his blaster and scrubbed it over with the rag.

    Satisfied that the deece was clean enough to eat off of, should he be so inclined, Stonewall began to reattach the components, listening for the tell-tale “click” of each piece that would indicate he'd done so properly.

    Actually, this pattern was pretty much all that he'd done these past few days: disassemble, clean, reassemble, repeat. Naturally, there were supplies to keep organize, watch rotations to schedule and the occasional scouting party that would creep to the Seppie structure to get a look at the area – again – but those things didn't take too much time overall, and when the work was divided among an entire company, it left little opportunity for anything beyond the routine.


    Stonewall raised his head and watched as Commander Cody approached him; in the distance, he could see General Kenobi heading for his tent, so Stonewall figured that he was about to receive a new set of orders. Usually, that was the pattern: the Jedi Council would speak to the general; the general would speak to Cody; Cody would relay the pertinent information to his men.

    That wasn't a bad thing, either. Stonewall was well aware of the mechanics of this war. It had always been so, and like most of his brothers, he was willing – no, eager – to do what was expected of him. Not asked, expected. But that was fine; that was his job, his duty, his life, and he was satisfied. Granted, he didn't have anything else to compare it to, but he figured that it wasn't a bad life, all things considered.

    However, duty aside, the time on Basrah had been a little too quiet for his liking, and he thought that he'd welcome a change of pace, and if it was part of his job...well.

    Even better.

    After ensuring that his weapon was still unloaded and that the safety was on, he set it carefully against a nearby crate and got to his feet in a single, smooth motion, saluting his CO as he did so.

    Cody waved the motion away. “Got a job for you, Lieutenant.”

    Of course, sir.” Hands folded behind his back, feet spread shoulder-width apart, Stonewall's body slid into parade-rest automatically.

    We're getting some additional Jedi support,” Cody said with a nod in the direction of General Kenobi's tent. “The situation with the Seppie facility has finally gotten sticky enough, and the Council decided to grant the general's request for another Jedi to assist us out here.”

    It was good news, to say the very least. Stonewall kept his expression neutral, but within he was inordinately pleased at the prospect. They'd been on the planet of Basrah for weeks and weeks, making almost no headway with their mission, and he could see that his men were starting to grow weary and anxious – neither of which made for effective soldiers. “Good to hear, Commander.”

    Cody nodded in agreement, though there was a trace of misgiving on his face; Stonewall wondered at it, but decided that it wasn't any of his business. “With any luck, we'll figure out this situation with that grift substance and be on our merry way,” Cody added. “I'd like you to escort the new General to our base...probably around 0800 tomorrow. She's arriving on a civvie vessel, and the pilot's likely not going to want to land here, so you'll need to take a transport.”

    She?” Stonewall couldn't help his surprise. He'd been serving since Geonosis, and had yet to encounter a female Jedi, though he knew they were in abundance. He frowned inwardly; he'd heard of men in other units paying a bit too much attention to any females that they encountered – it was to be expected on some level, he supposed – but he'd prefer that it not happen under his watch.

    Inattention was a dangerous habit for a soldier, and distraction could kill just as swiftly as any blaster-bolt.

    A wry smile creased Cody's face, causing the jagged-crescent scar above his left eye to shift. “That was pretty much my reaction, too. Guess we're not used to anything but males. Yes, this Jedi is a female: General Kalinda Halcyon. Beyond that, you know as much as I do.”

    General Kalinda Halcyon. Stonewall absorbed the name and nodded. He'd probably ask Beacon to fly him to meet her; the fellow was steady and serious, both excellent traits in a pilot. “0800. Right, sir. I'll be there.”

    Cody nodded absently, then raised his hand to his face, squinting a little as he surveyed the camp; Stonewall followed his gaze: the men of the 212th were quiet, for the most part, but he could sense an underlying current of tension that ran between all of them. Too long they'd been stationed here, too long had they been forced to wait and watch, with the threat of attack hanging over their heads every minute of every day, and it was starting to wear on them. In the past two days, Stonewall had broken up three fights – unheard of, for the most part, especially among a close-knit group like the 212th.

    It's been rough, hasn't it?” The commander's voice was quiet as he echoed Stonewall's thoughts. “Even with no fighting, or maybe because of it. We weren't made to sit around and wait, I suppose.”

    An inhale brought Stonewall the faint scent of electricity, and he wondered if a storm was coming. Atmospheric ion storms were prevalent out here, the one point of interest on the otherwise dull planet...there had been a few late-night watches where he'd stared up in awe as the entire sky was fractured with sparking, purple light. “Perhaps the new general will be able to help, and get us out of here.”

    Cody didn't look convinced. However, in the next moment he seemed to return to his usual, brusque manner, and gave the lieutenant another nod in confirmation of his words, then turned to approach a nearby group of clones, leaving Stonewall to go about his business.


    At precisely 0800 the following morning, Stonewall found himself aboard one of the smaller shuttles, which had managed to dock with the transport that had brought the new Jedi. After ordering Beacon to wait, he stepped aboard the dingy little ship and glanced around the hold, the location where the airlock had opened. It was wide and empty, save for a few stacks of crates and boxes, and he frowned behind his bucket. “General Halcyon?”

    Hello there,” came a distinctly feminine voice from a nearby corridor. Stonewall turned and watched as a slender, dark-haired woman slipped out of the interior of the ship and made her way over to him. She was about a head shorter than a clone and dressed in the manner of most Jedi: sand-colored tunic and trousers; tall, brown boots and long cloak that swayed as she limped towards him.

    That gave him pause. She limped? He'd never encountered a Jedi who limped. Stars and galaxies, he'd never even heard of one with a limp. Perhaps she'd been injured in a recent battle?

    Thankful that his bucket concealed what was surely a perplexed expression, Stonewall straightened his spine and gave her a crisp salute across the cargo hold. “General Halcyon. Your transport is ready when you are, sir.”

    Even though Stonewall had worked with a few female GAR personnel in the past, for some reason he couldn't place, it felt...odd to call this particular female, “sir;” but protocol was protocol. Even so, he found himself wincing beneath his bucket as she gave a slight frown at the term, but said nothing.

    There was a canvas bag around her shoulder that bumped ungracefully into her hip as she moved towards him, and he had a sudden urge to relieve her of the burden. She came to a stop before him and looked up, as if she was trying to meet his gaze behind the bucket. Her eyes were large, dark, and something about them caught on the edges of his mind in a way that was wholly unfamiliar.

    Thank you,” she said with a smile, sticking out her hand as she did so. “What's your name?”

    For a moment he simply looked at her hand, then back at her face; quite frankly, he was flummoxed. General Kenobi was a genial man, but...distant. He'd never offered to shake any clone's hand, that Stonewall had seen, anyway. It was so with every Jedi he'd met – not that there had been many – but he'd worked with a few, and they were all that way: compassionate, but separate; polite, but distant.

    In the back of his mind he knew Jedi were mortal – he'd seen them dirt-stained, fallen and bleeding – but despite that fact they still remained a world apart, inhabiting a whole other plane of existence, one that he would never – could never – understand.

    But this General Halcyon was watching him expectantly, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to greet a clone in such a casual, friendly manner. As if they'd just met on the street, like in a holo-film.

    As he extended his gloved hand to return the gesture of greeting, he looked into her eyes and confirmed that they were dark-brown, but he also thought they looked...kind. Now that was certainly an odd thing to think about a Jedi, wasn't it? Additionally, he could see wisps of dark hair that had come undone from the long plait that she wore down her back; one strand of hair had fallen loose and was brushing the curve of her cheek, and had the strangest urge to smooth it back.

    Just before their hands parted he noted that her grip was stronger than he'd expected, even for her being a Jedi.

    I'm sorry,” she said, tilting her head to the side, brows knitting. “Did I say something wrong?”

    His name...of course. She'd asked his name, and rather than answer, he'd just gawked at her like a shiny. However, before he could reply he heard Beacon's voice in his ear. “Lieutenant, we're getting word from base. Scanners are picking up another storm, and they want us to return ASAP.”

    Right,” he said over the closed channel, inwardly cursing his inattention. Get a hold of yourself, soldier! You've seen women before – don't act like you're some rookie fresh out of the vat. As if he could prove it, he straightened his spine again and gave her another salute. “The transport is this way, General,” he said, indicating the hatch behind him.

    Great,” the Jedi replied, giving him an odd look as they began to walk in tandem. “Thanks...?”

    CC-3077,” he said with a nod. Her pace was slower than his, and it wasn't just because her legs were shorter, so he automatically altered his stride to match hers. “May I take your bag, sir?”

    Her brows knitted and she shook her head; he watched the braid sway with the movement. “Thanks, but I'm okay.”

    Later, he would try and recall just why he chose to press the matter. Because she was a Jedi Knight, he knew that she was more than capable of taking care of herself, and if she didn't want any help with her bag he would've done better to just keep his mouth shut.

    But at the time, he only said: “Please, sir. I'd like to carry it for you.”

    He very nearly added something about it being protocol, but didn't, as that would have been a lie. Well, maybe not, but at the moment he couldn't recall if there were any regs for this scenario, so he simply glanced her way. They'd reached the transport and she paused at the door, giving him a thoughtful look for a moment, then – to his surprise – she shrugged the bag off of her shoulder and handed it over so that he could sling it over his own arm.

    Be careful, please,” she said as she stepped through the airlock and into Beacon's ship. “I have a dulcimer in there, and it's kind of fragile.”

    Certainly, sir.” As Stonewall stepped in after her, he searched for the word “dulcimer” in the database that he could access through his HUD; moments later he was looking at the image of a small, round-bodied musical instrument, the likes of which he'd never seen in person. It didn't appear to be solely a Jedi device, either, but he couldn't discern any practical use for warfare at all for the instrument.

    Curious. He considered asking her about it, but didn't know if it was allowed. Besides, she appeared to be distracted; standing beside him in the larty, she'd taken a hold of one of the handles that dangled from the ceiling, but he could see that her grip was light and her gaze was light-years away.

    What was she thinking about? What did Jedi think about, when they weren't leading men into battle or meditating? The Force? Somehow, based on the anxious way that her feet were shifting and how her breathing seemed overly deliberate for such a nothing moment, he didn't think so. Actually, it almost looked like she was nervous about something, which puzzled him further. What did a Jedi have to be nervous about, anyway?

    The HUD offered him a way to survey his surroundings with a 360-degree view, and he took a minute – only a minute – to study her more closely. Dark eyes drew his attention again, but he cast his gaze over her entire face, taking it all in, from her curving cheek to the shape of her lips. He wondered why he'd only given her his number when she'd asked for his name, then realized with a start that his heart was beating a little faster than it should have been.

    Oh kriff, he thought as he snapped his attention away from her. This won't do. Mind on the mission, and nothing else.

    Just before they landed, she glanced his way and held out her hand; for one stupid moment he thought she wanted to shake it again, then he saw her eyes flick to the bag at his shoulder, and he winced inwardly at his own unnecessary, confusion. As he was about to hand it over, the ship hit a pocket of rough air and gave a shudder, and he watched her brace herself against the floor before Beacon was able to steady them out.

    I've got it, General,” he said, keeping one hand firmly on the canvas bag. “It's safe with me.”

    A faint smile crossed her mouth and she nodded, but said nothing else. After that, her eyes turned distant again, and he tried not to feel a pang of...something that she hadn't thanked him for carrying her bag, even though he'd been pretty insistent about it.

    Quit it, he told himself. She doesn't owe you anything. Anything at all.

    Beacon set them down without further difficulty, and the doors slid open to reveal the unremarkable terrain of Basrah: scrubby hills dotted with various bushes and spindly trees, all thrown into stark relief by the bright morning sun. Stonewall hopped out first, then realized that she had not moved, so he turned. “General?”

    At the epithet she blinked a few times, then smiled and nodded at him as she stepped onto the dirt. “Thank you...CC-3077, was it?”

    Shab. He didn't want to correct her, but he did want her to know his name for some reason he couldn't quite grasp; there was the briefest moment of dilemma, then he thought, what the kriff...just go for it. “I go by 'Stonewall,' too, sir.”

    A pause, then he added: “If you don't mind, that is,” just to be on the safe side. She didn't seem like one who offended easily, but Jedi were a world apart, and he didn't want to take any chances with this one.

    Again, she surprised him. Humor flashed in her eyes as she smiled up at his visor. “Stonewall. I suppose there must be a story behind that nickname.” At that moment, he noted that General Kenobi was striding over, and he watched as her expression shifted, becoming closed and guarded. “You'll have to tell me another time. Thank you for taking my bag, but I think I have it from here.”

    Without another word he handed her the bag; he considered saying goodbye, but her attention had turned fully on the other Jedi, which he supposed was to be expected, so he simply nodded once and slipped off towards a nearby group of brothers. Once he'd reached them, he glanced behind him and watched as she and General Kenobi spoke for a few moments, then headed off to meet Cody and Captain Lefty in the briefing tent.

    Once she vanished from his sight, Stonewall gave a deep sigh and looked back at his men, who were milling about in various stages of activity: cleaning blasters, speaking to one another, playing sabacc...

    A few of them greeted him, and he nodded in reply, but he felt...strange. Separate. It was not a comforting feeling, but nor was it entirely alarming, so after a moment he tried to shrug it away, and moved to take a seat upon a nearby crate. One swift motion and his cleaning-rag was in his hand once more.

    Minutes later his deece was out and in pieces around him, but his mind was light-years away.

    A/N: This ficlet's companion story, Old Wounds, was posted here ages ago, but it was before the big server move, so I *think* it's still in pieces. I'll look into it soon, and will re-post it if it's been cut short or whatever issue applies to the old stories around these parts. :)
  2. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Chapter Two: Diversion

    The evening after General Halcyon's arrival, Stonewall stood aside, watching Commander Cody and several others prepare to infiltrate the Sep facility. The very last thing that Stonewall wanted to do was eavesdrop, but he couldn't help it, especially when it seemed like the two Jedi were cross with each other for reasons that were beyond him.

    General Kenobi sounded a bit weary as he faced the dark-haired woman. “Kalinda, I hate to pull rank like this-”

    Since when?”

    -but I'm giving you an order,” the bearded Jedi finished, added an almost pleading look as he did so. “Stay here until I need you.”

    Stonewall wondered at the expression, as he'd never seen General Kenobi appear as anything but calm and collected. In response, General Halcyon frowned, but nodded as she replied: “As you wish, Master Kenobi,” in a quiet voice.

    They looked at one another for a moment more, then Kenobi turned to Cody, who gave an order to his men over the comm; Stonewall watched as the group made their way out of the camp and towards their various speeders that would carry them across Basrah's rolling hills.

    General Halcyon stood alone, and he noted the way that her arms were crossed before her chest, indicative of the fact she was displeased with something that was – very likely – beyond his grasp. Unbidden, his legs carried him to where she was, and he stood beside her for a moment, watching the clouds of dust that the others' speeders left as they raced away. Again – and feeling just a little bit odd about it – he studied her through his HUD, and noted that he could see a mixture of worry and frustration on her face. An overwhelming urge to say something swept through him, but he took a breath first to gather his thoughts.

    It's no fun being left behind, sir,” he said in a carefully mild voice. “I hate sitting around and waiting, but sometimes that's what needs to be done. After all,” he added after a beat, hoping that the words didn't sound as silly to her as they did to him. “If they need help, we'll be the ones to give it to them.”

    At first he wondered if she would reply, because she didn't say anything for a moment, then she turned her face up to him again and he got the impression that she was trying to see through his bucket. “I know,” she admitted. “It doesn't make it any easier, though.”

    With her attention fully upon him, Stonewall found that he was at a loss, and he was suddenly very aware of the fact that everything about him was fumbling and awkward: his arms felt leaden at his sides, his body-suit itched and pinched when it should have felt like a second-skin, and each thought that crept through his shabla brain seemed slow and stupid. In short, he felt wholly out of place, and it was a feeling unlike any he'd ever known.

    Her eyes were so dark, and he had the sudden, wild thought that he could get lost looking into them. But that was silly, wasn't it? Eyes were...eyes. They had one purpose and one purpose alone, just as his deece did. Just as he did.

    So...why did he think otherwise, when he looked at her?

    Of course, of course the Jedi must have picked up on his thoughts, and she blew out a breath. Steeling himself for a well-deserved reprimand of some kind, Stonewall tensed, but when she spoke there was a trace of humor in her voice. “What is it?”

    Do not say what you're thinking, his brain urged his mouth. Under no circumstances are you to indicate that she makes you nervous, or make a mention of her eyes.

    So he shook his head. “Nothing, sir.”

    Naturally, it didn't work. General Halcyon spread out her arms in a welcoming gesture even as she flummoxed him with her next words. “Stonewall, I give you free rein to speak your mind, if that helps.”

    Not really. Quite the opposite, actually, so he furiously tried to think of something else, anything else, to say to her other than, “I can't stop looking into your eyes, General Halcyon.”

    It's just that...well...” This was ridiculous; first his attention kept getting drawn towards her, then he couldn't even string a sentence together? Pull yourself together, soldier!

    Finally he blurted out the rest of the thought, which turned out to be a completely inadequate, “Sir, I thought that the Jedi were all so good at waiting and being patient.” Had those words really left his mouth? Really? As if to further add to the mountain of idiocy he was burying himself under, he added: “That's what General Kenobi's been saying.”

    Or something close to it, anyway. The bearded Jedi said many things, most of which went in one ear and out the other, but he recalled hearing several mentions of waiting and patience. Again, he was inordinately thankful for the cover of his helmet, and took a breath as he waited for her reply, which was – he was quite certain – sure to be some kind of comment on the stupidity of his words, followed by an order for him to go away and leave her alone.

    But instead, she smiled. At him.

    At him.

    I can't speak for anyone but myself,” she said in a gentle tone that was unlike any other he'd encountered in his life. “It's true that we're taught to be mindful, to have patience and compassion above all other traits...still,” her eyes on him softened, here, and all he could do was stare at her beneath his bucket. “It doesn't make waiting around for your friends any easier.”

    Before he could form a reply, she turned to survey the other clones who'd been left behind as well; they were engaged in various forms of cleaning or weapons inspection, just as they'd done the last few weeks, and he watched her eyes narrow a little as if in puzzlement. After a moment she glanced his way again. “What do you fellows do in your down-time besides chores?”

    Nothing, he wanted to say. Cleaning weapons and the other tasks were not chores: they were life. Aside from battle, Stonewall knew that there would never be anything else for himself and his brothers, but that was okay. That was The-Way-Things-Were. Finally he shrugged and shook his head, figuring that she may as well know the truth now, if she didn't already. “What else is there for us to do, sir?”

    The way she looked at him...for a moment Stonewall nearly chuckled at the pure bewilderment on her face, though his amusement quickly faded as he watched the expression shift to one of remorse. Not pity, though, he realized after a moment of consideration. Remorse, he was certain.

    However, before he had a chance to say anything, her features melded into a smile and she blinked up at him. “Lots of things, actually.” She glanced around the camp at the others, none of whom seemed to be paying attention to her, then looked back his way. “Have you ever played Trillium?”

    No, sir.” He watched as she motioned to him, following a moment later when she made her way to a collection of crates; she pushed three together in a vague row, then fished around in the pocket of her tunic, pulling out a small holoprojector and setting it on top of the crate at the center of the other two. She settled down on one of the empty crates and looked up at him expectantly, which was when he realized he'd frozen in place as he watched her.

    Here,” she said, waving him over and gesturing to the other crate. “Have a seat, Lieutenant.”

    As he did so, he puzzled over her words. When had he told her his rank? Had he told her? Stonewall couldn't remember, so he figured that maybe Cody had, or the other general. But if that was the case, did it mean that someone had volunteered the information, or that she had asked? Part of him hoped she'd asked.

    As he watched her toy with the settings on the holoproj, he frowned to himself at the thought. Why did it matter, anyway, if she had sought the information out on her own?

    What difference could it possibly make?

    He sighed. No one, Jedi General or rawest shiny had ever elicited this many questions from his thoughts before, and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

    At last she sat up, seemingly satisfied with the display, the likes of which Stonewall couldn't make heads or tails of: it appeared to be a long tray, with two rows of six concave indents that ran parallel to one another down either side, with two, large bowl-shaped spaces on either end of the board. Within each of the twelve smaller indents were four small, pebble-looking objects, glowing faintly blue in the manner of holograms. He looked from the board to her, but she only smiled at him again.

    This time, there was a funny flip inside of his stomach as she did so, and he wondered if he was coming down with something, or maybe if he'd eaten some expired ration-packs.

    It's really easy,” she said, her voice pulling him from his thoughts. “The object is to collect as many of the pieces as you can.” With this, she began to explain how it was done, pointing to the various components of the game-board and showing him what she meant.

    It appeared to be a simple enough game, but Stonewall found that he had to struggle to keep his attention on what she was saying and not on her. He managed. Barely. However, when she finished explaining and they began to play, Stonewall found that he was drawn into the game more than he'd anticipated. It was deceptively simple in appearance, but he could see after just a little while that a bit of strategy would go a long way.

    Attention focused on the game, he was startled when he heard her chuckling; looking up, he realized that she was smiling at him again. “General Halcyon?”

    Congratulations, Stonewall,” she said, nodding to the board. “Not bad for your first time.”

    He glanced down and realized that he'd collected the majority of the rounded pieces, and felt heat creep to his face – he hadn't quite been able to remove his bucket around her, just yet, so she wouldn't see if he was flushing. “I'm sorry, sir.”

    She tilted her head and regarded him curiously; the light from both the hologram and the fading afternoon was casting her skin in a luminescent glow. “Sorry for what?”

    I...” He had no idea, really, but figured it was probably protocol to let one's CO win in any game. He'd have to check the regs later, to make sure. But for now he'd been asked a direct question. “I won.”

    You earned it,” she said with a shrug, reaching forward to reset the board again. “Another round?” Before he could reply she gave him a knowing look. “How about best two out of three?”

    Beneath his bucket, Stonewall was startled to realize that he was grinning. “You're on, General Halcyon.”


    Three games turned into five, then seven. It had grown darker and darker as time passed, until the last rays of the sun were buried beneath the horizon, and his HUD indicated that the temperature had dropped several degrees. In the back of his mind, Stonewall was aware that some of his men had taken notice of the fact that he was spending so much time alone with the Jedi, but he found that he didn't much care about it, at the moment, because General Halcyon was laughing at something he'd just said.

    Now, of course, he had no memory at all of what words of his had elicited such mirth, because he was captivated by the way that laughter transformed her face: her eyes were squeezed shut and her lips were parted; more of her dark hair had come undone from the braid and had drifted around her cheeks.

    “I never would have guessed,” she said finally, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes with the sleeve of her tunic before regarding him with a bemused expression. “You don't look like the type.”

    Shab, shab, shab, he thought with a casual shrug. What did I kriffing say? “I guess looks can be deceiving, General Halcyon,” he said at last, watching her as she took another breath before she began to consider her next move.

    Illuminated by the blue glow of the holo-board, she grinned again and lifted her brow at him. “That's very true.”

    Before he could reply, he heard the voice of Captain Lefty over the soldiers' comm channel. “Hey's your date going?” The comment was followed by snickering of several of the others who were listening.

    Stonewall blinked into his HUD so that when he spoke, his voice would carry over the comm and the external mic would be silenced. “Sir, it's not like that...”

    I'm just messing with you, Lieutenant,” Lefty replied with a dramatic sigh. “Calm down. Mind if I join you? I'm about bored to death hanging around with these shinies.” There was a chorus of quasi-offended voices at this, which Lefty laughingly deflected.

    There was nothing he could say, of course. If the captain wanted to join him and the general, Stonewall certainly couldn't stop him, though he did wonder at the brief flash of irritation he felt as he watched Lefty head over to their position. As if sensing his distraction, the general cleared her throat, which made him wince inwardly. He set his mic to external output again. “Sorry, General. One of the boys had a question.”

    I didn't hear...oh,” she said, and he watched spots of color appear on her cheeks. “Your helmets have comm channels. Of course.” She gave a small laugh and looked down as her head shook, which was when he realized that she was embarrassed.

    Learn something new every day, he thought as he studied her. Jedi get embarrassed, too. It was an odd revelation, though he suspected it shouldn't have been. They were mortal; they were not infallible deities, despite their preternatural powers. But he'd never really thought about it, before now.

    Strange, indeed.

    General,” he said after a moment. “Would you mind if Captain Lefty joined us? He'd like to learn how to play as well.”

    Of course I won't mind. Here, I'll reset the board and let the two of you face off.” With that she leaned forward to adjust the holoproj; as Lefty approached she got to her feet and smiled at the other clone. “Captain, I hear you're interested in Trillium?”

    Lefty paused, then removed his helmet to give her a mild salute and one of his trademark, lazy smiles. “Never heard of it before, General Halcyon, but I'm always keen to learn a new trick or two.”

    She laughed and directed him to sit opposite Stonewall; as he did so, Lefty set his bucket down on the crate beside him and dutifully listened as the Jedi began to explain the rules of the game. As she did so, Stonewall toyed with the idea of removing his own helmet, but decided against it, in the end. It felt...better, with something between him and her, at least for now, though he hadn't the vaguest notion as to why that would be the case.

    As he watched Lefty absorbing her words, a thought struck him: they were identical, with and without the armor. However, the armor was protection – obviously – in the sense that it offered Stonewall a degree of anonymity, and he liked that he was able to choose to wear it, or not.

    But his face...his face was the same as every other man around – save General Kenobi – and for reasons he couldn't quite fathom he was bothered by the idea that she would see his face and think of him as just another clone.

    But that's a ridiculous idea, he told himself as Lefty began his turn, moving the individual pieces through the series of indents in the tray. I am identical to the others. Comes with the territory of being a clone. No use trying to hide it, or pretend it isn't so.

    Still, Stonewall watched her out of the corner of his eye as she explained a strategy to Lefty and wondered if she could ever consider him to be unique, and why in the stars he'd ever think of such a thing in the first place.

    Eventually she pulled up another crate and watched the two of them play; which was when Stonewall realized just how long he'd been sitting; he shifted in his seat and silently cursed the less-than-comfortable Kaminoan design of the plastoid armor. At the movement, the Jedi glanced at him. “Everything okay?”

    Er...” Stonewall didn't really know how to explain it to her without sounding like a gundark, but he was saved from having to do so by Lefty, who gave a light laugh.

    It's this armor, General,” the captain said as he rapped his knuckles against his thigh-plate. “It's a bit...uncomfortable to sit down in for overlong periods of time.”

    She looked at Stonewall as if for confirmation, and he gave a slow nod of agreement, though his face was heating up again and his stomach was doing that churning dance it did when he ate something that didn't agree with him.

    The dark-haired Jedi frowned and ran her eyes over Stonewall's armor, then she glanced back at Lefty. “Can't you request something more...comfortable?”

    Lefty shot Stonewall a brief but amused glance, then shook his head. “It doesn't quite work that way, sir.”

    Basic armor is standard-issue for the majority of us clones,” Stonewall added, watching as her gaze fell back on him. “It's upgraded every so often, but the design of has yet to be readdressed.”

    That was when she did something totally unexpected: she leaned forward to Stonewall's forearm and hovered her hand above the gauntlet, glancing up at him as she did so. “May I?”

    He had no idea what she intended to do, but her proximity made it impossible for him to reply in any way other than a swift nod. Out of the corner of his eye he noted both that Lefty was fighting back a laugh, and that every clone in the immediate area was watching the exchange.

    But soon all those other things fell away, because she'd decided to rest her hand against the smooth, white plastoid as if assessing its merit. It appeared as if she was examining the gauntlet, so he activated one of the exterior lamps on his bucket to aid her sight, but for most of her inspection it was all he could do to breathe normally.

    The general tapped the plated armor, lifted his arm slightly to look at the way it fastened, and then met his eyes – or, rather, the place his eyes were behind the helmet – so he killed the head-lamps in order not to blind her.

    I suppose it would be uncomfortable to sit in,” she said with a half-smile that he could see, even in the sudden darkness that surrounded them.

    Lefty was still fighting back a chuckle, and Stonewall knew that it was due to his own reaction to the Jedi rather than anything that was being discussed. “The long-necks didn't concern themselves so much with Human anatomy when they designed the armor,” the captain said, and the Jedi lifted her hand away from Stonewall as she turned her head to focus on the other clone.

    There was a strange emptiness around Stonewall with her absence, but he shrugged the thought away and managed to add: “It serves its purpose.”

    Just like us, right Stonewall?” Lefty was grinning in earnest now, but the Jedi didn't seem as amused by his words.

    Stonewall felt a strange urge to see her smile again, so he cleared his throat. “It's an interesting design, actually,” he said, unfastening his gauntlet as he spoke. “The armor clips together, like you probably saw with my gauntlet, but the bodysuit underneath is what makes it special.”

    What do you mean?” She was leaning his way again, watching him with interest.

    As was Lefty. “Yes, Lieutenant,” he said with a lift of his brow. “Whatever do you mean?”

    Ignoring a captain was generally not a wise move, but Lefty was known for his good humor, and besides, Stonewall was demonstrating how their armor worked to the new general, so he supposed it could be considered a briefing of a sort.

    Besides being pressurized – with the helmet on, of course – and able to withstand open space for a brief time, our bodysuits are made so that they can be opened at any spot. Here,” he pulled apart the pieces of the suit that covered his arm, watching with satisfaction as her eyes widened; the pieces spread apart with ease, and after a moment he slid them back together, running his fingers along the former break to ensure that the seal was intact.

    How does that work?” She looked decidedly impressed, which pleased him in a new kind of way.

    Thousands of microscopic hooks and eyelets,” he replied, replacing the gauntlet. “Comes in very handy on the battlefield – otherwise a medic would waste valuable time having to unfasten the entire suit to reach the site of a wound.”

    He looked back at her, expecting to see her smiling at him again, but instead she looked...well, sad was the only word that came to his mind, but he didn't think it was exactly the right one. She had the expression of one who'd been hoping to hear good news, and had been told instead that none of the others in her squad had made it out alive.

    However, as if sensing his eyes upon her, she smoothed her features and gave him a smaller, different kind of smile than one he'd seen before, and nodded back at to the Trillium board. “Another round, guys?”

    Sure,” Lefty said, leaning forward. “You're going down this time, Lieutenant.”

    Stonewall chuckled beneath his helmet and shook his head. “I don't think so, sir.”

    Which of us do you think, General?” Lefty asked as he gestured between the two clones. “Stonewall, or yours truly? I admit, he's had more experience with this game, but I have the superior genetics.” At this, he winked at her, and again Stonewall felt that strange coil of annoyance as she laughed in response.

    But then she surprised him. “'Superior genetics' that you all share, Captain. Everyone here is on equal footing, as far as I understand. Well,” she amended, her fingers idly rubbing at her left knee. “Almost everyone.”

    Before either of the soldiers could ask her what she meant, a distinct rumbling noise came from the direction that the others had gone, and Stonewall recognized the accompanying tremors of a rather hefty explosion. Instantly, everyone was on their feet, and the area was awash in brilliant, yellow light.


    It was not until he registered the distinct snap-hiss of her saber that he realized that the light was from the Jedi's weapon, and that it was a color he'd never encountered before. Every other Jedi lightsaber that he'd seen was green or blue, such that he hadn't thought they could ever be any other color, but here she was, with a saber that glowed like a sun.

    But there was no time to dwell on such silly things, for the others were in danger and she was probably about to give them instructions as to how she wanted the situation to be handled. However, she was silent for a moment, and her eyes held a far-away look that was disconcerting.

    All around them, the others had gathered and he noted more than a few awed clones whispering about the color of her saber. Lefty silenced them over the comm, and they all waited for her to speak. After a pause, Stonewall gestured towards the direction that General Kenobi had led the soldiers. “That came from the facility. General, your orders?”

    Finally her gaze returned to normal and she took a deep breath as she faced Stonewall and calmly informed them that their brothers had walked into a trap. At the mention of Asajj Ventress, the other clones muttered, but Stonewall merely watched her, and waited.

    He could have sworn that she gave him a sardonic look as she spoke, because her words echoed his own from earlier: “They need our help.”

    A/N: Trillum is not canonical; it's based off of the game mancala. The GFFA has sabacc (poker) and dejarik (chess), so why not mancala? ;)
    Thanks for reading! :)

  3. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Chapter Three: Potential

    As far as skirmishes went, this one turned out to be small, but difficult. Immediately after receiving the Jedi's orders, Stonewall had snapped into full-on warrior mode, and he barely noted the brief journey to the site of the fighting – about half a klick from the Separatist facility – or the mechanics that his body went through each time he fired on a tinny. After all, his own actions were unremarkable and certainly not worth remembering, unless it was to think over ways he could improve his aim or his speed for maximum efficiency and damage.

    What he did remember was yellow.

    Nighttime battles were filled with color: blue and crimson streaks of plasma seeking their marks within the darkness, slicing through the air amidst the shouts of men and metallic creaking of droid-joints. Occasionally there were the bright green and blue swatches of lightsabers as Jedi deflected enemy fire, but those colors were often lost within the overwhelming miasma of blaster bolts.

    But this time, he couldn't help but notice the color of General Halcyon's blade as she fought alongside General Kenobi; brilliant, incongruous yellow, like a shaft of sunlight piercing the night-gloom. It was difficult for him to see exactly what she was doing, though he did catch a glimpse of twin crimson blades, which meant that Asajj Ventress was in the area. Later, he didn't see the crimson any more, and he figured that the villain had fled, though she'd left a slew of droids in her wake.

    At one point, Stonewall was standing back-to-back with Beacon – the pilot who'd transported him and the new general planet-side – when he caught the briefest glimpse of the dark-haired Jedi. She was angled before one of the medics, providing cover while he tended to Lefty, who'd taken a stray shot to his chest. Face illumined by the sunlight-shine of her weapon, she had the expression of one who was exhausted, but determined to push through the feeling because it was what needed to be done in order to protect those around her.

    There was a break in the fire and Stonewall watched as she looked down to the medic, who was shaking his head over Lefty's still form. Her mouth opened as if to speak, then her eyes closed and her face dropped down. Her hair had come almost completely unbound, and the movement of her head caused it to fall and obscure her expression, but Stonewall thought he knew what it would be if he could have seen.

    The fighting lasted almost until dawn. When the bulk of the droids had been destroyed and things finally quieted down, Stonewall approached the medics to offer what assistance he could, both because it was how these things went and because he wondered if she would do the same. But she kept surprising him, and he thought that maybe he should stop trying to predict what the Jedi would do.

    It took him a moment to locate her, for her tunic had been coated with the kicked-up dust and dirt of the skirmish site, and without the glow of her saber she was difficult to spot even in the growing light. Finally, he caught sight of her: kneeling beside Beacon's body where the clone had fallen for good, some time after he and Stonewall had been separated. Her eyes were closed and her lips were moving with words that he couldn't hear, even if he'd wanted to adjust the sound pickup on his helmet.

    It took him a moment to realize that she was performing some kind of rite for his dead brother, and for a long few minutes he could only stand and watch.

    Stonewall was aware that he was young, by galactic standards. No matter that he'd spent every moment of his waking life in training, he knew that at the age of twelve, most Humans were still considered children, and expected to be wholly ignorant about the world around them. It wasn't a great thought, to compare oneself with a child, but his lack of experience with civilian matters had never bothered him much, not really, not when he knew his place and his purpose.

    So as he watched the Jedi mourning for a man whose name she likely hadn't known, the thought occurred to him that such a thing must not be uncommon for her, as unfamiliar as it was to him. People died; she felt the loss and tried to mark it in some way. He could recall no other non-clone doing such a thing.

    Eventually she rose and went to another trooper, then another, and as he watched her, Stonewall wondered: if he were to die out here on Basrah, would she mourn him, too?


    Commander's in fine form, today,” Buzz grumbled as Stonewall handed him a bowl of stew the evening after the skirmish with Ventress. “Even when he's not even here. I never thought he'd relent with the shabla chores and let us eat.”

    Although General Kenobi, the commander and a contingent of men had remained behind at the Seppie facility for the night, orders given over the comm were still orders. Cody was notorious for strident after-battle procedures, but Stonewall knew it was necessary to be so; following triage of the wounded and cleanup of the dead, weapons and vehicles needed to be tended to immediately. The living came last. It wasn't always pleasant, but the mindset was necessary to keep every component of war, alive or inanimate, in optimum working order.

    That's his way, Buzz” Stonewall replied. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see General Halcyon standing alone, watching the soldiers line up before the mess tent to get dinner; even from this distance he could see the dark circles under the Jedi's eyes and the way that her posture was a bit slumped. “The commander's always been like that.”

    Yeah, I know,” the other trooper said with a sigh. “I'm just hungry, I guess. I get tetchy when I'm hungry.” He gave a sniff of the contents of the bowl and cast Stonewall an appreciative look. “Glad it was your turn to cook dinner, anyway.”

    The men behind him chortled in agreement, but Stonewall had already formed something of a plan. “Hey, Buzz,” he said, bending to collect another bowl. “I'm going to bring this to the General. Would you mind standing in for a minute?”

    Before the other clone could object, Stonewall slipped out of the mess-tent and headed over to the dark-haired woman, ensuring that his steps were smooth so that he wouldn't spill any of the stew. As he approached her, he saw that her gaze was still on the clones, but it appeared distant again, as if she were lost in thought. Once he reached her side,he said her name – well, her title, as it would be highly inappropriate to call her by her name – and waited for her to respond.

    She didn't.

    He tried again; same thing.

    Finally he held the bowl up near her nose, hoping that the scent of the stew would draw her out of her reverie; at this, she turned his way and blinked in surprise as her eyes flicked from the bowl to his face.

    Shab, he thought with a mental wince. I'm not wearing my bucket. He figured she didn't know who he was, and said his own name to remind her, fighting back the swell of disappointment that accompanied the realization that yes, he was as forgettable as he'd figured.

    It didn't matter. Of course it didn't. Very likely she had all sorts of important, Jedi-matters on her mind, and had little reason to concern herself with one clone out of three million.

    All of his disappointment was forgotten when she smiled up at him.

    Force, she's...well, she's beautiful, was all he could think for a moment, during which time he completely forgot that he was holding the bowl. Even coated in dust, even with her hair messy and her tunic stained in places with blood and grime...she was beautiful. The understanding frightened him in a way, because now that he'd acknowledged it, he didn't know if he could go back to pretending that he hadn't noticed.

    I didn't recognize you without your helmet,” she said. Her eyes were on his eyes, and again he fought back the queasy feeling in his stomach, chalking it up to extreme hunger and trying to forget his realization of a moment ago.

    That's a first,” he replied with a nod. “I'd think it'd be the other way around, sir.” There was something heavy in his hand; a moment later he remembered that he a was holding out the bowl to her, so he offered it again, hoping she'd accept. She did, and he watched as she began to move the spoon around within the broth, mixing up the diced vegetables and nerf-meat and causing spirals of steam to appear in the air between them.

    He watched as she did so, fascinated by her slender fingers; her hands were much smaller than his own, and he wondered why she didn't wear gloves – or any armor, for that matter. There was dirt under her nails. After a moment she glanced up at him again. “Perhaps,” she said. “But your helmet has a distinctive scouring pattern on the if you ran headlong into something very...solid.”

    Here she lifted the spoon to her mouth, blew softly across it, then tipped the broth down her throat, and he found that he was waiting for her reaction to the taste. He didn't pride himself on being an amazing cook, but he could throw freeze-dried meat and vegetables together in a pot of hot water as good as anyone, and he hoped that she liked what he'd prepared.

    Judging from the pleased look on her face and the way that she eagerly went for another spoonful, he supposed that she found the stew satisfactory, which pleased him enough to elicit a chuckle. At this, she raised her eyebrows. “Ah...I think I've figured out the origin of your name.” Her brow lifted. “Am I right?”

    Actually she wasn't, not about the name, anyway, but there had been an incident several weeks ago where he'd slammed headfirst into a group of B1s that had surrounded some of his men. Both of his hands had been busy with weapons, so the only other option had been an ungraceful head-butt. Well, it had served the purpose, and he'd saved his brothers, so he didn't mind looking silly in the process, nor did he mind the scrapes against his bucket. The men he'd saved had been thankful, of course, but there had been a number of “hard-head” jokes at his expense running through the ranks for a week or so afterward.

    There was no reason to go into all that, as she very likely wouldn't find it interesting, so he gave a casual nod. “Something like that. I can be a hard-head about things, I guess. At least,” he added, thinking of the copious mockery in the aftermath of the incident. “Some of the others seem to think so.”

    Have you eaten?”

    The question startled him, but he deflected it easily. “I cooked it.”

    Again, she looked up at him and he watched her expression soften to concern, though her words were pointed. “You didn't answer my question.”

    Why did it matter? Or, more to the point, why did it matter to her? He had no ready answer for either, and his thoughts fumbled over one another until he was able to form a reply. “I wanted to make sure that everyone who fought today got first dibs, sir.”

    It was a silly response, but she seemed not to notice; instead she shook her head and leveled her dark-eyed gaze upon him with all seriousness. “But you did fight, Stonewall, and quite well from what I could see. Get yourself a hot meal, then sit down, for goodness' sake.”

    He was so stunned by her speech – and the multitude of implications behind it – that he almost missed her parting words: “That's an order.”

    Then, as if to further flummox him, she gave him a wink that belied the stern nature of said “order.”

    All he could do was sputter out a wholly inadequate and inelegant “yes, sir,” as she walked away. His legs were on autopilot as he returned to the mess tent, where Buzz had apparently given up on his return and pawned the task off on one of the shinies. It didn't matter so much though, because being a ranked officer was not without some privileges, so Stonewall did as she'd ordered – did it count as an order if she winked at him? – and a few minutes later he took a seat on one of the crates that had been placed around the fire that another of his brothers had set up.

    The stew was pretty good, he had to admit, and it was filling to boot; within less than a minute he'd finished the meal. Lind, one of the newer guys, offered to take his empty bowl, so Stonewall sat for a few moments and relished the feeling of a full belly. Around him, he heard a few of the others in quiet conversation, though their exact words didn't register in his mind, because he kept thinking back to what she'd said: but you did fight, Stonewall, and quite well from what I could see.

    So she had watched him, at least a little bit. For even a small amount of time, she had thought to seek him out, to pick him out among all the others and make note of what he was doing. He thought back to the battle and tried to remember where he had been in relation to her, so that he could maybe recall what she'd seen him do, but it was useless. None of the battle stuck within his mind, and now all he could see was the Jedi smiling up at him, and he decided that was okay.

    I'll take that mental image any day, he thought with a sigh, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees and watch the flames. The memory, coupled with the warmth of the fire and the soft way that this evening had descended – always, the day after a battle was strangely calm, as if to make it up to those who had fought – made him feel...content.

    And then the general slid on the crate beside him, holding the dulcimer she'd brought, the one that he'd looked up yesterday morning. Instantly, his feeling of calm fled and he felt his entire body stiffen in alarm at her sudden proximity. However, she made no mention at all of the fact, just adjusted her grip on the instrument and glanced around at the dozen or so clones also seated at the fire, all of whom were gaping at her.

    Any requests?”

    Silence, save for the snap of the fire.

    Come on,” she said in a light voice. “Surely someone can think of a song?”

    Still, no one spoke, but a few of the newer guys were exchanging startled looks. The Jedi looked at each clone, her eyes falling on Stonewall last, and he noted the way that her lips parted as if she were about to speak. “Sorry, sir,” he heard himself say. “We're not familiar with much in the way of music.”

    He expected her to nod in grave acknowledgment and perhaps put the dulcimer away, but she did nothing of the sort. “Well then, I suppose I get to choose the song,” she replied, smiling at him. “Lucky you.”

    For a few moments she toyed with the knobs at the neck of the instrument, then she began to flick her fingers across the strings in earnest; the resulting sound was unlike anything that Stonewall had ever heard in his life.

    Clear, high, sweet: those were the first words that came to his mind, but there was so much more to the sound than he'd ever imagined could be contained in a simple noise. It wasn't that he had never heard music before – the radio was a frequent source of entertainment among the clones – but there was something about being in the presence of music as it was being made that was astonishing and a bit humbling as well.

    The was beautiful, and he felt a flare of shame that he could think of no adequate words to categorize it within his mind. It was beautiful, and she was its creator, its source.

    Then she began to sing, and everything else spun away from his attention. Had a bomb dropped in the center of the camp he would have been unable to tear his eyes from her, or pull his focus from the sound of her voice, which he could practically feel lodging itself within his brain, never to depart. In all his days, Stonewall had never heard anyone but another clone sing in person, and then it was only the occasional pre-battle tune or some off-key rendition of a popular melody.

    But her voice moved within him, through him, like a gust of wind, and he was powerless against it. There was no word he knew that would describe the sound of her singing. Kriff, he couldn't even remember the words of the song as soon as they left her throat. Later, he would think over the evening and try to find a way to quantify the way that her voice lifted through the air, but now, at the fire, sitting beside her...

    That's it, he thought, his chest tight as he listened and watched. I'm done for. Nothing in my life will ever compare to this moment.

    When she finished, there was utter silence for a few moments, then someone – he had no idea who – began to clap, the others following a beat later. The Jedi gave a soft smile of acknowledgment and ducked her head in thanks, then flicked her eyes to Stonewall, who was still frozen in place even as the clapping intensified. “It wasn't any good?”

    He blinked, then managed to breathe again. “It was...great. Thank you.”

    She smiled at him. “Glad to hear. And you're welcome, Stonewall.” There was a pause while she waited for the men to settle down, after which time she cast a wry look around the circle of clones, which had multiplied in number during her song. “Okay, I'll give you guys another chance...any requests?”

    Buzz, who had come to stand at the edge of the circle of light cast by the fire, called out the name of a relatively popular tune; it was one that Stonewall recognized, and he knew that a good portion of the men knew it as well. He wondered if she did.

    The Jedi straightened in her seat and he watched as an expression of pleasure came across her face. “You're in luck, Buzz,” she said with a smile at the trooper. “I know that one.”

    The very first reaction that he felt to the smile she gave Buzz was that bizarre irritation that he'd experienced earlier – when she'd smiled at Lefty during the trillium game – but he instantly felt a flare of shame for it. Lefty was gone, but Stonewall thought that his brother had appreciated that the Jedi had smiled at him, and now, after the fact, he felt petty for being annoyed in the first place.

    Anyway, it's no concern of yours who she looks at, he told himself, exhaling the emotion away. No concern at all.

    Instead, he focused on Buzz's reaction, and found that he had to bite back a chuckle at the reddish tint that came to the other clone's face at her acknowledgment of his name; as before, she seemed not to notice, instead returning her attention to her instrument again and plucking a few notes before she began the song in earnest.

    It was a pretty catchy tune, if not particularly poignant, and Stonewall's men were more than ready for a bit of distraction; the Jedi was inspiring as well, singing for all she was worth and giving them encouraging looks despite the weariness that he could read in her posture. Soon enough, he realized that many of the others were clapping along, or tapping their feet in time to the music, adding a rhythmic layer beneath the dulcimer that was not unpleasant.

    This time, Stonewall tried to keep his attention spread throughout his men and not fixated solely on her, because it was disconcerting to know how easily it had been absorbed by the dark-haired woman during the last song. However, his efforts were unsuccessful, because within a few minutes he found himself clapping as well.

    Dark eyes met his and he watched the reflection of the firelight within them. Her gaze on his was not quite a question, not quite a challenge; he didn't know what it was, really, but he found that he didn't much care anymore. He knew the chorus to the song – they all did – but when it came around again, Stonewall was the only man who raised his own voice to lay it alongside hers in a new kind of harmony.

    It was a memory that would – he knew – sustain him long after she left. It would sustain him through the time after this mission, when they would never see each other again, which he supposed would be the rest of his life.


    Time passed. Stonewall wasn't sure exactly how much, and in truth had little desire to measure its passage, but later on he estimated that General Halcyon had spent at least an hour or two singing for the clones. It had flown by, and when it was over he thought he could still hear her voice in his head. However, as much as he didn't want the experience to end, the sight of her trying to stifle a yawn indicated that she needed sleep.

    Alright,” he said as he got to his feet once she'd finished the current song. “Show's over. Jedi need rest, too. Let's start the watch rotation.” He felt a pang of sorrow, because that had been one of Lefty's responsibilities, but there was no use mourning a dead brother, after the fact.

    The Jedi's light voice shook him out of his thoughts, again. “Aren't I supposed to be giving the orders, here?”

    Dread pierced him. Had he overlooked something? Was there a new reg to cover this sort of scenario? Some generals preferred things done a certain way, and didn't take kindly to boundaries being tested...perhaps he'd misread her, after all.

    It's okay,” she said with a chuckle and a wave of her hand. “I was only teasing you.”

    Teasing? Stonewall thought that he was fully justified in gaping at her, right now. Jedi could...tease?

    A smile broke over her face and she beamed at him like it was the most natural thing in the galaxy for a Jedi and a clone to share a joke. “If we're going to work together, Stone, you're going to have to learn my sense of humor, or develop one of your own.”

    Stone. He blinked once at her, knowing that his bewilderment was showing, but he was powerless to prevent it right now.

    Not Lieutenant. Not Stonewall. Stone.

    A nickname. Part of him wanted to laugh at the idea – a nickname for his nickname? – but a larger part of him was in too much shock to react in a way other than the conditioned response of “yes, sir.” However, despite his confusion, he felt a small smile tug at his face, widening at her look of approval.

    After that she left, but he could still hear her voice.


    During his younger days on Kamino, his training squad had been taken out onto the swaying sea a number of times to acclimate them to dealing with the ocean, and long after he'd returned to solid ground, he still felt as if he were aboard the sea-vessel and being rocked by the waves. Later that night, he experienced something similar; as he lay in his bunk, trying to fall asleep and not really worrying that he was unable to, her voice was all he could hear, over and over, an echo that pinged against his the inner walls of his mind and resonated someplace within his chest.

    Once he managed to drift off, she sang through his dreams, pausing only to cast a smile his way as she called him “Stone.”
  4. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Chapter Four: Boundaries

    Stonewall was the first to admit that he'd gotten carried away.

    The next day, with her voice still ringing inside his head, it had been pretty much impossible to stop himself from following the Jedi to their sparring session; it was also impossible – apparently – for him to act like the rational man he knew he was, and worry over a full-grown Jedi's ability to defend herself just because of a faint limp in her left leg, the origin of which he still had no knowledge of.

    Of course, General Kenobi hadn't been trying to hurt her. Of course, the act of the two of them disappearing had been some Force-trick. Of course, he'd been a kriffing, shabla, di'kut and called Cody for absolutely no reason when the Jedi had “vanished,” thereby sending the entire company into an unwarranted tizzy, and drawing further attention to his growing...inclination towards General Halcyon.

    Honestly, he wasn't sure which part of his screw-up bothered him the most.

    But his stupidity aside, he had made an error in judgment, and had to own up to it no matter what, so he'd stepped forward and taken responsibility for the mistake. Happily, it seemed like neither Jedi was inclined to hold his error against him, though he heard Buzz and some of the others over the closed comm channel as the group began to head back to camp, the Jedi following in the wake of the clones.

    If I didn't know better,” Buzz was saying, elbowing Stonewall as the lieutenant walked beside him. “I'd say that the Lieutenant has himself a little crush on the new general.”

    Who can blame him?” It was Becker, one of the older clones, known for his ribaldry. “She's easy on the eyes, that's for sure. Better than looking at nothing but your ugly mugs day in and day out.”

    Behind them Lind, added his own laughter as the men continued walking. “I don't think you're her type, Lieutenant. Did you see the way she and Kenobi were standing so close? My guess is they were doing mind-tricks on each other.”

    Moving up to Stonewall's other side, Becker snickered. “I'll wager some kind of tricks are happening between them.”

    It took everything that Stonewall had not to pummel the other clone; as it was, his hands tightened into fists at his sides, and he was thankful that his bucket concealed his irate expression. After a moment he blinked into his HUD to call up the 360-degree view, so that he could watch the Jedi as they followed the clones, and he realized with a start that perhaps the others weren't too far off the mark. It looked like – just for a second – that the Jedi were holding hands beneath the cover of their robes.

    Was it true, then?

    Later that night, when he had a spare moment, he used his HUD to call up all of the information on the Jedi Order that he could access, and narrowed the search to romantic relationships within the sect; he learned many things, but the Order's strict policy on non-attachment was emphasized above all else. No Jedi was allowed to get married or have children, which he idly thought could also apply to the clone army as well, but he didn't find anything on relationships that would not result in those things.

    What did it mean? Perhaps he'd been imagining things, as he'd seen no tangible evidence that either she or General Kenobi harbored romantic feelings for one another. But, he reasoned, it was possible – likely, even – that neither one would have let such feelings become evident enough so that their subordinates would be able to tell. So it may be that they for each other.

    Well, and so. It didn't matter to him. It couldn't matter. He didn't even know why he'd bothered to investigate the issue, nor did he know why he felt strange and sullen at the thought of her and the bearded Jedi holding hands, or more.

    What is wrong with me? he thought with a frown as he watched the others gather around the fire, where she was settling down with her dulcimer again for another nighttime concert. Why can't I just let it go?

    The sound of her music drifted over to him, and he fought back the urge to go to her side, instead focusing on cleaning his deece again. It was just too much; his actions today had proven that he was growing inordinately fond of her – for whatever reason – and he had to put a stop to it, for his sake, for his men's sake.

    Stonewall didn't kid himself that his actions would affect her in any lasting way, but he thought it would be better if he kept a distance between them, just in case. Based on what he could tell, she was the sort of person who felt sorrow for the loss of a man whose name she didn't know.


    In her own wayshe had re-named him, which he thought meant that she seemed to like him at least a little bit, and it was because of this that he knew that if he didn't survive this mission, she would likely feel sorrow. The thought of such a thing made his grip on the rag tighten and his knuckles go pale; he didn't want her to mourn his death and he didn't like the idea that he would cause her any hardship, even posthumously.

    Given all of these reasons, he stayed on the outskirts of the warm glow cast by the fire. Even so, it was difficult not to feel like he was missing out. At least his blaster would be spotless.

    The thought wasn't nearly as satisfying as it had once been.

    For some time he sat on a nearby crate several meters from the fire, unable to approach her but unable to leave, and when he finished tending to his weapon he watched her without trying to seem like he was. After a few songs, Lind called out a request, and Stonewall winced internally, because he knew the song, and would have liked to sing it with her.

    Alright,” the general said with a smile in her voice. “But I'm going to need some backup for that one.” There was a slight pause, then he watched in amazement as she twisted his way and gave him a hopeful look. “What do you say, Stone?”


    Shab, he thought with a sigh, and got to his feet. I'm done for, aren't I? “I...I don't know how to play anything, sir,” he said in a careful voice that he was sure sounded forced as he approached. “I don't even have an instrument.”

    He'd come to a halt about an arm's length from her, and he couldn't help but watch the way the firelight caught in her dark hair, which was hanging loose about her face. She'd showered recently, and he could tell that it was still damp; he thought it must be thicker than it looked, to still hold moisture even after she'd been sitting by the fire as long as she'd been. There was a fresh, soapy smell to her skin, even from this distance.

    That doesn't matter so much,” she said with a shrug, before she leaned forward and tapped his chest-plate with her fingertips in an easy cadence. “You have everything you need in here. Music comes from within, not without.”

    She said other things too, none of which he could recall once he sat beside her again, because his chest was still resonating from the touch of her hand.

    The fact that he seemed to suffer sporadic, short-term memory loss around the Jedi was alarming, but Stonewall was able to set the concern aside in light of his new focus: creating music. As it happened, plastoid gave a rather nice sound when rapped, and he couldn't help but smile at the sight of several of his brothers hitting their buckets like makeshift lap-drums, while the others clapped along with the beat.

    Through it all, she threaded her dulcimer through their sloppy rhythm as though it were actual music, grinning with delight the entire time. Some of the guys nearly lost the beat when she started singing, but she gave them an encouraging look, and they were able to keep it going.

    At one point, she caught Stonewall's eye. She didn't smile, but he could see something like happiness within her gaze, and it was directed at him, which made him feel warm in a way that had nothing to do with the fire.

    He couldn't help it; he smiled at her, though it was an effort to keep it small. His heart drummed out its own rhythm, stronger than anything he or his brothers were managing, when she smiled back.

    Tonight, it was Cody who ended the session; Stonewall thought that the commander shot him a somewhat exasperated glance, because it should have been his job to cease the revelry for the night and start the watches. But instead, he was gathered with a few others around the Jedi, listening as she imparted a bit of musical advice.

    I don't know,” Lind was saying as he fingered his bucket. “It sounds so bad, when we do it, General.”

    I think I'll stick with shooting tinnies,” Buzz added with a laugh, the others around him chorusing in agreement.

    Stonewall glanced at them, then at her. Compared to the Jedi, the clones – his brothers – seemed utterly uniform in their purpose, their existence. Armored, armed...even their “instruments” were accouterments of warfare, and he figured that once she left none of them would think to use his helmet as a drum, ever again.

    She, though, she was not made for fighting as they were. The evidence was plain to see if he only looked: it was there in the softness of her gaze, the way her arms cradled the dulcimer, and the imbalance of her gait; he'd grown used to the sight of her limp, and had heard no one mention it, out of politeness, he figured. He still had no idea how she'd come by it, but he'd done a bit of research – only a tiny bit, while he looked up information on the Jedi Order as a whole – and learned that prior to this she'd been stationed at the Temple on Corrie, so he'd determined that the limp was either chronic or was the result of something that had happened prior to the Wars.

    In any case, Stonewall thought that she looked pensive at the others' negative reactions, and the urge to return her kindness with some encouragement filled him. But he knew that for this particular matter, encouragement would be akin to a false promise, and he didn't want to give her that, either.

    So, he cleared his throat and watched as her eyes slid his way. “We weren't created for music-making, General,” he said in a quiet voice, offering up a tentative smile to soften the sting of the words. “Wasn't in the Kaminoans' lesson-plans. It was...nice, though. Thank you.”

    Why he tacked that on, he couldn't have said, but her expression flickered for a moment as if in understanding, then shifted to one of mild amusement. “Don't worry about the mechanics of it,” she said, casting her eyes around at the group. “Creating music is a very personal thing – sometimes you just have to feel that it's right.”

    As she said the last words, her gaze caught his for a fraction of a heartbeat, then moved away as she shrugged, adding: “I know you can do it, all of you. It'll just take some practice, that's all.”

    Stonewall watched her words sink into his men, and smiled to himself as they looked a bit heartened; he felt irrationally pleased at the notion that she'd ignored their protests and tried to impart a new kind of wisdom upon them. Again, he realized that she cared about the men under her command. She wanted them to learn something besides demolishing tinnies – fun as that may have been – though exactly why she wanted such a thing felt like it was beyond him at the moment. Maybe he'd figure it out, one day.

    When he glanced back her way he realized that the other Jedi had approached; they were speaking with one another, and she had eyes for no other. Still conversing, they headed off towards her tent, and Stonewall watched them both slip inside before returning to his seat by the fire.

    The next morning, when Stonewall awoke earlier than was his custom, he felt restless. It was a similar feeling to the one just before a battle, but there was an additional edge of annoyance that he couldn't quite quantify, so he tried to push the anxiety aside and find something to take his attention. The boys who'd been on the night watch had finished off the caf, so he decided to put some more on; while he stood at the mess-tent, listening to the bubbling sound the beverage made as it percolated, he watched the sky.

    During the deepest part of the night there had been an ion storm, but by now it had faded to nothing. Where vivid bursts of electric-violet energy fields had ravaged the upper-levels of atmosphere and made it impossible for reinforcements to arrive, now the sky was clear and bright. In the back of his mind Stonewall thought that it should have seemed a pretty day, but something continued to hang over his head and weigh him down. He didn't care for the feeling.

    With a sigh he glanced back at the caf-pot. An inhale brought the rich scent of caf to his nostrils, and he reached for a mug so he'd be ready the moment the beverage was. As he did so, he noted that Commander Cody appeared from the direction of the Jedi's tents and started to head his way, so he grabbed a second cup in preparation.

    It's not quite ready, sir,” he said as his CO approached, trying not to glare at the caf-pot. Kriff, the thing took forever, didn't it?

    As he clipped his bucket to his belt, Cody frowned at the machine, the scar that ran along his face puckering with the expression. “We need a new one. We need a lot of things, actually,” he added, glancing up at the sky.

    Reinforcements coming?” Stonewall asked.

    Cody nodded. “Should be here within the hour. I've just let General Halcyon know.” He paused as if debating something, then his frown deepened. “It was...odd.”

    Something in his voice was off. The caf was finally done, so Stonewall reached for Cody's mug and filled it before handing it to his CO. “Sir?”

    Again, there was a debate on the commander's face; a moment later he dropped the volume of his voice and gave Stonewall a pointed look over the rim of his mug. “What I'm about to say is to be kept strictly between the two of us, Lieutenant. Understand?”

    Stonewall nodded, wondering what in the world had gotten Cody so off-balance. He reached for his own mug and began to pour a measure of the dark liquid as the commander continued. “I think that General Kenobi and General Halcyon spent the night together.”

    Fek,” Stonewall swore as scalding hot caf bit through his glove and into his skin, the sudden jerking motion of his arm causing much of it to spatter across the prep-table before him.

    You alright, Lieutenant?” Cody gave him another appraising look, which was when Stonewall realized that the commander had been testing him on some level, and that he'd failed.

    Rather than respond immediately, Stonewall grimaced and rapidly shook out his hand to help ease the sting. Kriffing, shabla caf...

    I heard some of the men talking about you and Gen...”

    No, sir,” Stonewall said, hoping the words didn't sound as awkward as they felt exiting his mouth. “I mean...yes, I'm fine. Still waking up, I guess,” he added, flexing the fingers of his hand as the burning feeling began to subside. “Don't know what's gotten into me.”

    Cody studied him for a moment, then gave a sigh. “I don't like gossip,” he said, sipping his caf tentatively and watching as the other man wiped up the spilled liquid with a rag. “And I don't like my men being distracted. You've been distracted.”

    Before Stonewall could reply, the commander held up his free hand. “Now, it's unlike you, Stonewall, so I'll let it slide for now. But I have noticed your...fondness for General Halcyon. It's one thing to look at a pretty woman from a distance, Lieutenant, but it's entirely another to continue to place yourself in her path, and ignore your duties in the meantime.

    This isn't a formal reprimand...yet,” the commander added. “You'll know when it is, as I'll have you scrubbing every bit of GAR equipment around with a toothbrush as punishment if you step out of line again.”

    There was a pause, as Cody took another sip of his caf, then continued. “Matter-of-fact, I recommend that you save yourself the trouble and just set your feelings to the side, because they'll cause nothing but problems.” As he said the words, Cody shook his head; it was a heavy motion, and for one, wild moment Stonewall wondered if the other man was speaking from experience, then pushed the idea aside as ludicrous.

    Sir, yes sir.” There was nothing else to say, really. Despite the fact that his face was hot, Stonewall was thankful for the fact that his CO hadn't said all of this in front of the others, that he'd approached him in private and given him time to collect himself before anyone else woke up. Before he saw her again.

    You're a good soldier, Stonewall,” Cody added after a moment, patting Stonewall's armored shoulder with his free hand. “Depending on how this mission turns out, you might find yourself in line for a promotion.”

    Stonewall managed to pour himself a measure of caf – without spilling it, this time – but he didn't drink. Instead, he met Cody's eyes, eyes that may as well have been his own, and nodded once. “I'd be honored, Commander. Thank you.”

    Cody chuckled, and lifted his mug just a bit as if in mock-salute. “I won't transfer you, though. You make a mean cup of caf.” With this, he turned and headed off to the landing site, presumably to check on the area's readiness to accommodate the new arrivals.

    Stonewall looked down at his mug, all interest in the caf having fled his mind, then he glanced in the direction of the Jedi's tents. The commander was right. It was the smart thing, the logical thing to just ignore...whatever it was that he felt when he looked at General Halcyon. After all, he'd only known her a scant few days – had it only been that long? – and all signs pointed to the fact that he'd never see her again once this mission was over.

    There was a small bit of consolation in the thought that he might soon have a new title under his belt, but it mostly felt hollow; he sipped the caf without really tasting it, but because he needed something to do. A few days ago, he mused, the idea of a promotion would have been enough to make him...well, maybe happy wasn't the right word, but satisfied. Content.

    But he remembered sitting beside the dark-haired Jedi at the fire, and the scent of her soap mingled with her song in his mind, and he wondered if he'd be content with anything else, ever again.

    That is not good, he thought with a sigh, blinking up at the morning sunlight, filtering through the camp like her lightsaber. Not good at all.


    Some time later, after the reinforcements had arrived – bringing along yet another Jedi, much to everyone's puzzlement – Stonewall was attempting to busy himself with supervising a few of the new guys as they organized the temporary armory that had been set up; they were fresh and ready for action, and he could practically see them trembling with excitement, so he decided to put their energy to good use. The armory – well, it was more of a storage bay, really – was one of the few non-canvas structures that had been brought to Basrah, and it had been another of Captain Lefty's jobs to keep it tidy.

    As he instructed Neon, a textbook example of a shiny if ever there was one, on the best way – not the reg-manual way – to store the ammunition, he heard Cody address him over the comm channel. “Lieutenant.”

    A blink in his HUD allowed him to reply. “Commander?”

    I need you at the atmo scanners,” Cody said, uncertainty in his voice. “Second opinion.”

    It was the commander's way of letting him know that his earlier transgression had been set aside; Cody rarely asked anyone else's opinion if he could help it, excluding General Kenobi. Stonewall answered in the affirmative and gave a few instructions to his men before trotting off to the tent that housed the scanners, comm station, and other electronics.

    When he entered the tent, Cody didn't look up, but indicated the readout on a slender console before him. “I'd say it was a ship, but it's moving far too slow.”

    Buzz was there as well, arms crossed before his chest and a frown on his face. “It's no meteor, either.”

    A sweep of his eyes over the console revealed nothing more than the others had already pointed out; there was something out there, all right, but all signs pointed to it being harmless. Still, Stonewall didn't like not knowing for certain, and he could see by the look on the commander's face that Cody felt much the same way.

    Could be remnants of the ion storm, sir,” he said without really believing it, but because every option had to at least be mentioned.

    Cody took a breath, then shook his head. “Maybe. I've called General Kenobi to come take a look, just in case.”

    If there was one person on the planet that Stonewall didn't want to see, it was Kenobi. However, before he could find an excuse to leave, the bearded Jedi was slipping in the tent and coming to stand between himself and Cody; his fingers were toying with his beard in his fashion, and his eyes were serious as he studied the display while Cody filled him in on their speculations.

    Thankfully, Stonewall was still wearing his helmet, so he was able to surreptitiously study the Jedi. He didn't really know what he was searching for, but he couldn't help himself; the other man appeared to be several years older than General Halcyon, his eyes were blue, his face was...

    Well, he was no clone, that was for sure.

    Obi-Wan Kenobi was a Jedi Master and High General; he was about as far from a clone as any Human man could be, and in this moment he made Stonewall feel very small and insignificant.

    The feeling was fleeting, however, when Cody let out a sharp curse. Everyone in the area registered the sound, because the commander never swore where his subordinates could hear, and certainly never in front of a Jedi, but a moment later Stonewall recognized why his CO had done so.

    We were all wrong. Enemy vessel closing,” Cody growled, lifting his blaster and shoving his helmet over his head in a fluid motion. Outside, they could hear the distant whine of a ship's engines, and Stonewall felt adrenaline coursing though his veins in anticipation of a fight.

    Through his own comm channel, he called out to the men, urging them to make themselves ready even as Cody glanced towards the Jedi. “I should have figured,” the commander said in a clipped voice that signaled he was upset with himself, but trying to push past the feeling. “Your orders, General?”

    The Jedi was already speaking to the miniature blue image of General Halcyon, his voice steady. “Kalinda: an unknown ship is approaching the area – I think it's-”

    A tremendous booming sound shuddered through the tent, causing Stonewall to nearly lose his balance, though he saved himself from falling with a timely adjustment of his stance. Immediately following the noise, he could hear his men calling to each other amidst the sudden and alien whinging sounds of droid-movements.

    ...down, over here! Medic!”

    Incoming tinnies...all sides...”

    ...right for us!”

    Blaster fire punctuated his brothers' words. Without waiting for an order, Stonewall sprang out of the tent and took an instant to survey the scene before he chose a course of action. A veritable ocean of clankers was washing across the formerly quiet campsite, and he noted with dismay that at least a dozen clones had already fallen. The rest of the troopers were racing for what cover there was to be had – and there wasn't much.

    Canvas tents and storage crates would not offer much protection; Stonewall knew that this was likely to go very badly. But there was no time to trouble himself with the end of something that had only just begun, so he threw himself towards the nearest group of brothers, who were scrambling to find cover behind the upturned mess-table.

    They needed more cover than the table could provide; his deece was firing before he even realized he'd pulled it free of its holster, and for several minutes Stonewall was lost to the battle, body and mind acting on autopilot. Out of the corner of his eye he marked the blue blaze of General Kenobi's saber, but did not allow himself to wonder where she was, not now, when he could afford no distractions.

    A cluster of B1 droids had zeroed in on Buzz, who was on the ground, favoring his knee. Stonewall whirled and fired upon the tinnies, feeling a thrill of relief when they crumbled to the dust harmlessly, and he saw his brother get up and give him a brief wave of thanks.

    The relief was short-lived. It was the way of these skirmishes.

    Other droids swelled through the lines to replace their fallen brethren, and Stonewall continued to fire for all he was worth.

    That was when time truly slowed down: he heard the distinct groan of a Super Battle Droid as it descended upon him from the left, but he was too busy facing the spindly B1s, who made up for in numbers what they lacked in lethality. Time slowed while his mind sped forward: if he were to switch his aim to take out the SBD, the B1s would cut him down, but he could hear the distinct keening sound as the SBD charged its weapon, aimed at him...

    Kriff, he thought. This is it, isn't it? Crimson screamed towards him on all sides; he gritted his teeth against the pain that he knew was coming.

    Then, sunlight.
  5. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Chapter Five: Affirmation

    As Stonewall watched the dark-haired woman sweep her sun-colored blade before him, the thought struck him – again? For the first time? – that she was the most beautiful anything he'd ever seen, and it wasn't just because she was in the process of saving his life. However, he was prevented from ruminating further as he glanced behind her and noted the presence of another SBD, shambling up as if to take revenge for its comrade that she'd felled with her lightsaber.

    He poured blaster-fire towards the clanker, watching with satisfaction as it mutated into a smoking heap of slag. Maybe I just do one thing, he thought as he looked back at her to make sure she was unharmed. But at least I do it well. “General Halcyon, you're okay?”

    She was limping already, but her mannerisms suggested she was trying to hide the fact. “Fine, Stone,” she called out, swinging her saber to deflect more fire. He moved so that he was at her side, then twisted around so that he was behind her to offer what cover he could, and for a few moments they stood back-to-back, immersed in their respective battles.

    They haven't even gone after the facility,” Stonewall said after a minute. “Just ambushed us out of the blue.”

    Something's definitely out of place,” she agreed, and he felt rather than saw her move away from him the moment that she had an opportunity; a glance showed him that she was attempting to make her way to the other Jedi, which he supposed made sense.

    But he could see that her path was blocked by the ceaseless array of droids...there were so many. When had there ever been this many? His vision swam with durasteel and crimson slices of plasma, and he fired, fired, kept firing. Gloved fingers hardly let up on the trigger of his deece and he still couldn't stop the never-ending line of the blasted things, though he worked to keep the general within his line of sight.

    That was when he realized that his weapon was failing; the charge was nearly gone. Silently cursing, he ducked behind a mound of smoking clankers and reached for a fallen brother's blaster pistol – Becker, he thought, but couldn't be sure right now – taking a few seconds to switch out power packs on both his old weapon and the new.

    Now doubly armed, he took one more deep breath before peering up to check on General Halcyon; after a brief search he was dismayed to see that she'd somehow been separated from the main group, pushed farther away than before from the center of the battle and from the other Jedi. In of itself, that wouldn't have been so bad. A Jedi alone in a hostile situation was the norm, but this situation was different in his eyes; his jaw tightened with fury and his stomach dropped to his knees at the sight that greeted him.

    Ventress. The witch was upon the Jedi, and he could see at once that General Halcyon was no match for the Seppie Force-user in straight-up saber combat. Twin crimson blades clashed with a single yellow, and the dark-haired woman was pushed back and away, farther and farther, where no one could reach her through the calamity. Stonewall shouted something in his comm, exactly what he had no recollection of, later, but he was dimly aware that he'd called for backup; then he sprang forward, emptying both of his weapons towards the pale-skinned enemy with single-minded determination.

    While he lived and breathed, Stonewall would not let harm come to Kalinda Halcyon. The understanding was stronger than a promise and more binding than any oath, and it made him wonder if the balance of his life was tipping towards some unknown destiny.

    But it didn't matter. He fired at Ventress, willing her to turn her attention away from the dark-haired woman and towards him, thoughto his dismay she deflected his bolts. They were far away from the others now, and he had no idea if his frantic call had been heard, or if anyone could respond. Everything else fell away and he did not stop the avalanche of his fire, instead taking a brief moment to revel in the scowl that Ventress eventually tossed his way.

    Perhaps he was inflicting more damage than he'd reckoned. Perhaps there was some signal that he'd missed. Perhaps luck, fate, or some combination of the two had a hand in the next moment; he didn't know. Ventress lifted her wrist up to her mouth and shouted an order. At her words, a host of droids descended upon him from some unseen source, and he was forced to abandon his fire on the witch to protect both his general and himself.

    His general...

    Stonewall could hear the keening of a ship's engines above his head, but hardly paid it any mind as he frantically searched for her, because the dark-haired woman was not where he'd last seen; his heart nearly skidded to a halt in his chest when he realized that she had fallen to the dirt – unconscious – and was currently being hauled towards the incoming vessel by several clankers.

    Ventress had leaped to the lowering ramp of the ship, and was making her way inside; her back was to him, so Stonewall didn't think, he jumped. The dust that was being kicked up by the engines was thicker than stew, and he hoped that he'd be concealed enough to do whatever it is he was apparently doing.

    He might not have gotten away with it, as there was no way for him to really sneak inside the ship without the Seppie seeing him, but for the fact that something else caught her attention at the last minute and she turned away from him further, facing the ground below. Stonewall watched the droids bring the Jedi into the ship; he took a deep breath and followed as best he could.


    From that point, much of his initial time aboard the Seppie ship was a blur, though later he would go over it all very clearly in his mind: hiding in the cargo hold; creeping along through the ship to locate the place where Ventress was torturing – that word caused bile to rise up in his throat – the general; waiting until the coast was clear to enter the room where the dark-haired woman was being kept.

    Stonewall found her after what felt like hours, though it had only been about ten minutes, fifteen at most. Through it all, his focus, his drive was this: he had a mission, self-appointed though it may have been, and he could not deviate from it.

    That's all it is, he told himself as he prepared to enter the room. Mission. Duty. Honor. I read something about this in my research earlier...the code of the Jedi or something. How does it go?

    There is no emotion; there is peace.

    Yeah, he really wished that were true.His throat was tight, and he swallowed as he stepped within the room where she was. As he did so, he braced himself for what he might find.

    It was not as bad as he'd feared, but it was not good, either. She was suspended by a set of energy cuffs that held her about ten centimeters off of the durasteel floor; she was coated in sweat, so much so that he could see her tunic clinging to her torso, and her hair fell across her shoulders, matted and filthy. Eyes closed, lips slightly parted, she appeared to be asleep, but he could see the distinct rise and fall of her chest that indicated she was at least alive, which was heartening.

    Swallowing again, Stonewall removed his helmet and approached her to stand as close as he dared; he could feel the faint tingle of the energy cuffs in the air between them. “General? General Halcyon?”

    There was no response, and he took a deep breath to steady his racing heart. She was alive, after all, likely she was exhausted from whatever the witch had, no he could not let himself dwell on that part right now. He tried again. “General? It's me, Stonewall.”

    Too much to hope his name would rouse her; he debated touching her cheek but fought back the urge. But the fear...the fear was building inside of him and a moment later he found that he couldn't help but reach forward and brush back an errant strand of her hair, sticky with sweat. She looked small and so fragile, not at all like the capable warrior he'd seen on the battlefield, nor the smiling woman by the campfire.

    Please be okay, he thought, forcing his fear behind a mental wall, shoving it aside so that he could do his duty, so that he could help her. Please.


    Not until her name had left his mouth did he realize he'd said it, and his hand jerked away from her as if he'd been shocked. It was a testament to how deeply his training ran that he winced in preparation for a reprimand on the casual address, but the reaction was instantly thrust back – along with his fear – because she was stirring.

    Dark eyes opened, slowly fixing upon him and he nearly laughed with relief.

    However, when she spoke she sounded pretty ticked off, which was not quite the reaction he'd expected. Again, he had to marvel at how she surprised him, especially when she was cross and he was playing the misguided hero.

    What in the seven hells of Tethys are you doing here, Stonewall?”

    Fek, she sounded awful, and her eyes on him were dark and fierce, such that he immediately lost his train of thought. “, came to rescue you,” he managed to spit out, wincing at the stupidity of the words. Would it always be so, when he talked to her?

    Probably. Perhaps he should go ahead and resign himself to the fact.

    As it was, relief at seeing her alive coupled with his bewilderment at her sharp tone caused him to continue babbling like a kriffing shiny. “Though, I admit it wasn't the most well-thought out plan, and I'll probably be court-martialed for such a ridiculous stunt-”

    Thankfully, she interrupted his stream of nonsense before he really got going. “You need to hide yourself. I'm assuming that she doesn't know you're here?”

    The tone of her words had softened, indicating that she wasn't really angry with him; that was a relief as well, so much so that he couldn't help but give a faint grin at the revelation. Of course, she'd asked him a question, so he forced the smile away and shook his head in response.

    At that, she gave a sigh that was pure exasperation, an almost comical sound despite the dire nature of their situation. “When she lands, sneak off and call for help,” the Jedi said, in all seriousness, adding: “Forget about me; I'm a lost cause.”

    To further drive the point home, she gave him another hard look. “That's an order.”

    Stonewall was aware that there were many things he didn't know, but the one thing he did know – which she apparently did not – was that there was no way he was going to leave this ship without her. “With all-due respect...sir, I don't think you're in your right mind.”

    He ignored her stunned look and turned to the console to see if he could get it to cooperate. Maybe a well-aimed shot from his blaster would do the trick, but he didn't want to risk drawing attention to them, right now. As he looked it over he spoke again, quickly and in the most casual manner he could manage, both to distract her from being cross with him and to keep his mind occupied. Otherwise, the sight of her wincing in pain would be enough to get him angry.

    Really angry.

    I'm sure that the other Jedi won't abandon you, General. We probably just have to hold out until they come for us – well, for you anyway.” He mentioned the Jedi because he thought she'd take heart, knowing there was another out there who...cared for her; he thought it worked, because her expression softened, and he could see that some of the pained look in her eyes seemed to ebb.

    Taking heart in even the minor victory, he pressed on. “But in the meantime, I'll try to figure out a way to get you down from there.” He paused, then mentally shrugged as he added: “I doubt that's very comfortable.”

    As he said the – admittedly terrible – joke, he glanced her way and felt a thrill of happiness run through him when she gave a faint chuckle in response, meeting his eyes as she did so. He couldn't help the smile that came to his face because of it, then ducked back to the console so she wouldn't notice that his ears were likely bright red.

    It's not flirting, he told himself as he studied the console, wishing he was more technically inclined. It's...morale boosting. Flirting probably shouldn't include a torture-chamber. Or Seppies. Or-

    At that moment, her breath caught and her eyes lifted, turning to the door and narrowing. Immediately, all of the inappropriate thoughts fled from his brain as he watched her. “What is it, General?”

    She swallowed; the movement of her throat was tight with undisguised fear but her words were calm. “Ventress is coming back. Hide yourself.”

    Stonewall didn't want to hide anymore. Unbidden, his fingers tightened around one of the blasters but the Jedi glared at him again. “You're no good to me if she slices your head off, Stone. Hide. Yourself. Now.”

    No, he really didn't want to go away and leave her here, alone with that witch, but he couldn't quite summon the nerve to refuse her orders again, and he decided that she must have a plan of some kind; he nodded and made his way for the door as quietly as he could, slipping out into the hallway and kneeling so that he could enter his former hiding place. He'd just settled down, almost doubled over to fit in the ventilation duct when he marked the sounds of Ventress stalking down the corridor and entering the room.

    This time, he spent a few moments adjusting the sound pickups on his helmet, and could hear everything that was being said between the two Force-users.

    Needless to say, it was an interesting conversation.

    Tell me what I want to know!” Ventress snarled her words; Stonewall felt his fingers tightening over his weapon, but he forced himself to relax and listen, because Kalinda – no, he corrected himself, General Halcyon – was speaking with a storyteller's lilting cadence.

    Jonas was a good Jedi and a wonderful Master, but he was a better man.” There was a pause, and her voice changed, softened, and Stonewall could make out traces of sorrow, the likes of which he'd never heard from her before. “Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, and miss him.”

    So she knew something of loss, after all; he'd suspected as much, but there was something about the confirmation that filled him with heaviness. He exhaled silently and gave a small shake of his head, because he wished it wasn't so, for her.

    Again, her pitch dropped, so he had to tweak the electronics in his helmet to catch the faint words. “He was killed when I was sixteen. He died in my arms.”

    Another brief pause, and he was gripped with a nameless urge to embrace her; even now, hunched over and hiding as he was, his hand lifted out as if to reach for the dark-haired woman that he couldn't even see. A breath later he closed his fist in on itself and held still, because she was speaking again. “I would give anything to hear his voice again.”

    Stonewall listened as she went on to describe the person who'd murdered her master – this Jonas – and how she had wanted to kill him once she did find him at last. But she didn't. He didn't know why the revelation surprised him like it did; Jedi did not seek revenge, did not swear vengeance on those who had wronged them: they brought the wrongdoers to justice.

    None of it mattered in the end,” General Halcyon said after a sigh so faint he nearly missed it. “My master was still dead, and I was quite alone.”
    You should never have to be alone, if you don't want to be, he thought, then frowned, because the Seppie was speaking.

    You should have killed him,” Ventress said in a low, feral voice. “You should have avenged your master.”

    Stonewall thought back to the Jedi axiom he remembered from his earlier “research:” there is no emotion...there is peace. He waited, thinking that the General would reiterate the teaching to the Separatist, but again – always, he realized – she surprised him.

    I wanted to kill him,” she said slowly. “I wanted to very much. But in the end, as I said, it made little difference. Death and revenge are part of a vicious cycle that is much harder to break than to perpetuate. But I suppose your Sith masters feel differently.”

    Sith. Stonewall blinked into his HUD automatically, frowning a moment later when he realized that he had no link to the rest of the GAR, out of reach as he was; he didn't like being without ready-access to information, but filed the unfamiliar word away in his brain to look up when he got the chance.

    If he got the chance.

    As he listened to the Jedi and Ventress speaking – more about this “Sith” faction that he was unfamiliar with – the realization dawned on him that the general was trying to...convince the enemy of something. A moment of reflection made his eyes widen.

    She – the general, his general – was attempting to change the Seppie villain, or at least offer a new perspective, much in the way that she had done with himself and his brothers, those nights by the campfire.

    She cares what happens to this...Sith person, too? She least enough to try and persuade her to think something different. He shook his head in wonder.

    As he was trying to wrap his mind around the concept, Ventress spoke again, and before he knew what was happening he heard the Jedi's cry of pain; even from here he could smell the electricity that was being used to torture the dark-haired woman, and it took everything he had not to burst out of his hiding place and enter the room with his blasters blazing.

    You're no good to me if she slices your head off, Stone.

    Maybe not, he thought, hands tightening further still on his weapon. But I'll bet I could put up a hell of a fight up until then. Jedi may not believe in revenge, but I'm no Jedi.

    As if to spur his ire even further, Ventress must have increased the intensity of the Jedi's pain, for the sound of her shrieking filled the room, and Stonewall shook his head and started to get to his feet, because that was the final straw. There was no way he was going to stand by and let this woman – General Halcyon, not Kalinda, as he had to keep reminding himself – be tortured any longer, not while there was breath left within his body.

    Even if they do manage to rescue you,” Ventress was saying. “I swear on my master's grave that there will be nothing left of you for them to find.”

    If he lost his head, well, then so be it. Decapitation was preferable to a blaster-bolt to the chest. Quicker, so he'd heard. Better to die while fighting for something – someone – real and good, someone he could see, someone whose voice would stay with him long after she herself was out of his life.

    Stonewall had never given much thought to regret, but with this thought he regretted something, right now, though he couldn't have said exactly what.

    Instead, he crawled towards the duct's opening and prepared to exit; that was the moment when he heard the door to the torture-chamber slide open, followed by the stalking footsteps of Ventress as she hurried away. He wasted no time and entered the room, steeling himself for what he would find.

    At first he thought his general was dead, he really did, and any sense of regret was drowned in a furious, bitter sorrow that was unlike anything he'd ever known, save one other time in his existence. Numbly, he slipped off his helmet, tucking it under his arm as he stepped closer, because he had to know for certain. She was so still...

    I failed you. His own breath was coming in short puffs; his hands felt cold and foreign even as they trembled. Kalinda...I'm sorry.

    No. No, he would not believe it. Stonewall took a breath and tried to pull himself together. With one swift motion he removed the glove of his left hand and placed his fingers barely a centimeter from her parted lips, just in case...

    Yes. Relief swept through him when he felt the softest kiss of her breath against his skin.

    Before he could allow himself to relax, the ship was buffeted by an explosion of some kind, and he was nearly toppled off of his feet. A glance around the room indicated it appeared stable enough, but he didn't know how long that would last; it was time to get off of this ship, somehow. He was reluctant to leave her side, even just a few steps away, but he had to try to figure out that damnable console one way or another.

    Maybe his luck would improve and he'd get a chance to shoot the kriffing thing. Shooting something would be a welcome change from all of the sneaking around, at least.

    The sound of her voice startled him out of his thoughts. “What are you doing?”

    Trying to set you free before she hurts you gain, or the ship is blown into oblivion,” he replied, glaring back at the console and clipping his helmet to his belt in a brisk, businesslike manner.

    At least she didn't sound as bad as she looked; the fact that she was talking at all was a good sign. “Well, don't. It's not time yet.”

    Okay, this was getting rather infuriating. Stonewall couldn't help but stare at her like she'd lost her mind. “What?”

    Was there a reason she kept postponing the rescue attempt? Some obscure Jedi-code that he had no understanding of? Stonewall mentally resolved to learn everything he could about the Order when – when, he decided, not if – they survived this ordeal.

    It's not the right time, Stone,” she said as her jaw grew tighter. “Soon.”

    Please stop saying that, he wanted to tell her. Because I can't say no when you say 'Stone.' I can't...

    Her eyes on his were filled with resolve, the depths of which he'd never seen in her, or anyone else, for that matter as she added: “I promise, soon.”
  6. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Chapter Six: Incongruous


    Again and again, she reduced what words Stonewall would have offered into inchoate nonsense; again, she seemed not to notice as her eyes closed and he got the sense that she was reaching deep within herself, as if searching for some hidden source of strength. Before his eyes, the weariness seemed to fade from her face and she practically glowed with power, briefly reminding him of her lightsaber.

    As he was watching her, the ship groaned and rocked again, strong enough to nearly send him careening to the durasteel floor; happily, he managed not to fall flat on his face, instead grabbing the console to steady himself.

    She took a breath and looked at him. “Can you determine who is firing on us?”

    At last, something he could handle. Shooting would be preferable, but this would work. For now. He pulled out a hand-held auto-slicer from his kit. “These are standard issue,” he explained, activating the device and fiddling with the settings. “They let us tap into a ship's transmissions from any location.”

    It was a relatively new piece of tech, and he hadn't gotten much of a chance to play with it, so he hoped it would work. The thought occurred to him that it probably wouldn't be able to unscramble any jammed communications, but when he said as much to her, the Jedi shook her head. “Hopefully she won't jam her own communications.”

    There was a wry edge to her voice that made him respond in kind as he set the device against the console. “One can hope.”

    Moments later, the voice of General Skywalker filled the air: “...and I'm pretty sure that you're not going anywhere.”

    Stonewall had never had a chance to work with the Jedi, but he did know a few boys in Torrent Company – of the legendary 501st Legion – who seemed like they'd follow the General to oblivion and back. Right now, Stonewall thought that he sounded mild, unconcerned, as if the entire situation was laughable.

    Likely, it was a bluff, but the Jedi's flippant attitude bothered the trooper.

    But not so much as the dry rasp of Ventress' voice that filled the room when she replied. “Are you so certain of that? And I have to wonder,” she added, with a mocking tone made him want to wring her skinny neck. “What is it that makes you so sure that there will be anything left of your friend for you to rescue?”

    I think I have a plan, Stone.” The soft sound of General Halcyon's voice broke his attention away from the exchange; when he looked up, her gaze was on his, and he couldn't help the way that his body tensed. However, he refused to drop his eyes from hers, instead waiting until she finished speaking. “But you need to do exactly as I say, even if it doesn't make any sense.”

    He wondered if it was there was a reprimand layered within her words, for he'd already disobeyed her once – at least – but he didn't think so. “Of course, General,” he replied, straightening his spine.

    A small, grim smile came across her face. “Good...but you should also know that we might perish in a most unpleasant manner if my plan doesn't work.”

    Stonewall nearly laughed, partly from relief that yes, she did have a plan, partly because of the sardonic tone of her voice, but mostly because she said we, which indicated that she had decided to stay with him, too. For the immediate future, anyway.

    With a nod, he slipped his helmet back on before responding in his most professional voice. “With all due respect, that kind of talk is just business as usual for me.”

    Something occurred to him then, and he couldn't help his sigh of frustration. “I suppose you'd like me to hide again, General?”

    He didn't think his words were funny, but she started laughing anyway, and he felt a little stronger and more certain of himself than he had since stepping foot onto this bucket-of-bolts. As he watched, she gave him a true smile and a nod as she spoke. “Yes, please. But this time I think I'd like you to use those blasters of yours when you return.”

    At last,” he said before he could stop himself; again, she laughed and he felt something queasy in his gut once more, only this time he knew it wasn't because he hadn't eaten in a while.

    The Jedi smiled at him. “At my word you can burst in and start shooting, okay?”

    Better and better. Stonewall nodded and made to exit the room. Before he activated the door, her voice stopped him in his tracks. “Stone, if we get out of this alive, you're getting the biggest medal I can scrounge up. Deal?”

    He took a breath to steady himself before he replied. “As you like, General Halcyon, but I'd be happy enough with the first part of that sentence.”


    With any luck at all, this would be the very last time that he had to crouch in the tiny vent.

    Heart hammering beneath his chest, Stonewall waited until Ventress entered the room that held General Halcyon, then silently exited his hiding spot. While the general tried to talk to the Seppie, he situated himself behind the closed door and ensured that his blasters were charged and ready to go.

    The sound of lightsabers being ignited caused him to suck in his breath, but he forced himself to remain calm. Even so, adrenaline had started to course through his veins, but he held it in check, saving his energy for when it would truly be needed.

    There is good in you, despite your best efforts, Asajj.”

    Asajj? He frowned, then recalled that it was Ventress' given name. Idly, he wondered at the fact: she had a name...did she choose it, or was it chosen for her, as was normally the custom with Humans? Names were treasured commodities among the clones; nearly every brother he'd met had a story or something like it connected to his name. Names could sometimes be given by someone separate – usually a brother – and names could be earned. Some names were fought for, as was everything else.

    Stop calling me that.”

    Focus, Stone, he told himself, taking a breath to bring his attention back to the moment.

    It's your name, isn't it?” General Halcyon's voice was pitched just a little louder than normal, and he flexed his calf muscles in preparation.

    Ventress didn't speak, she growled. “I'll kill you.”

    Not while I'm around, you-

    Then do it.”

    Immediately following General Halcyon's words, the ship shuddered, like some large creature trying to shake off a fly, and he heard the distant sound of a droid-voice, as if through the Seppie woman's comlink. “...they're ordering us to...back the prisoner. Our engines are disabled...evacuate...”

    Soon, he thought, taking another breath and shifting the weight from his right leg to his left. The door wasn't locked; he knew from previous experiences in other situations that he could kick it aside if he really wanted to. Seconds ticked by in his head, and he felt flooded with a strange sense of calm, because he was certain that this moment, right now, was exactly where and when he was meant to be, and he intended to make the most of it.

    Whatever happened after...well, he'd deal with it, then.

    It was too quiet in the room; when Ventress spoke again in that mocking way, he wished it had remained so. “You have friends in high places? I wondered why you seemed so calm, even facing the end of your miserable existence...but it makes sense now, as does why your thoughts keep returning to him.

    General Kenobi, no doubt. It was not an entirely happy thought for the soldier, but in this moment there was no room for anything but focus. Stonewall took another breath and pushed out all of his emotions, emptying his mind of everything except his goal, his mission, his duty. His oath.

    It's such a shame,” Ventress added, a sneer in her words. “That you won't live long enough to be reunited with your dearest.”

    I will not fail you, Kalinda. Not now, not ever. His entire body was relaxed but ready, waiting.


    Before her signal had completely registered in Stonewall's mind, he thrust all of his weight forward and forced the door aside, lifting his weapons and firing one well-placed bolt at the console, whose position he had mapped out in his mind. Following this, he angled all of his fire on the Seppie; however, within a moment Ventress had her sabers out and was deflecting most of his shots to careen about the small chamber. Thankfully, none of the bolts seemed to find their mark in the general, who'd finally been released from her bonds at the destruction of the shabla console.

    For a split-second Stonewall was faster than the pale-skinned woman, though he didn't know if it was due to her shock at his sudden entrance or some other reason he was unaware of. As with every battle, adrenaline hummed through his veins, sharpening his aim and smoothing each of his movements into liquid glass.

    One shot; he only managed to graze Ventress' shoulder but it was enough to allow the Jedi to send a burst of energy towards the her, knocking her backward. Almost before he knew what had happened, General Halcyon had turned, grabbed his arm and urged him from the room, where they paused to slide the door shut and lock it as well.

    Exchanging a look of satisfaction, they turned to hurry down the corridor, though Stonewall frowned inwardly. It seemed like her limp was worse, and in the aftermath of her captivity and her use of the Force he could tell how exhausted she was, though she also appeared to be trying to hide the fact.

    That won't hold her for long,” he said, altering his stride to match hers, so that they were moving in tandem. Around them, the corridors of the Seppie ship were alternately bathed in crimson and shadow as alarm klaxons blared a wordless warning. The urge to take her in his arms and carry her to the nearest escape pod was overwhelming, but he held it in check, instead only glancing at her again.

    Even colored with flickering red light from the alarms, he could see that she had that look on her face that meant she was accessing the Force. “I know. But it will have to be enough.”

    They progressed without speaking further for a few minutes, then she skidded to a halt, closing her eyes and breathing heavily while he gripped his blasters and kept watch around them; another blast sounded, and the ship groaned in reply. Even through the filters on his helmet he could make out the smell of smoke, which meant that the engines had been hit.

    Stonewall really had no desire to rush the Jedi, but he wished the Force would work just a little bit quicker, right now.

    Finally she opened her eyes and pointed down a nearby corridor. “I think the escape pods are this way.”

    Nodding, he allowed her to go ahead of him so that he could cover her; compared to him, she was rather short, enough so that he could see over her head easily, which would allow him to keep an eye on her front as well. The thought was oddly reassuring.

    Smoke began to trickle in around them, threatening to obscure his vision. When he made to activate his headlamps she objected, pointing out that the miasma provided them the means to be stealthy, which would help keep them safe for the time being. She also reiterated that she had the Force, which didn't allay his fears quite as much as he figured she'd meant to, but that was okay, because he could see that she'd winked at him as she said so.

    Finally, he saw the tell-tale indents in a nearby chamber that he knew led to the pods. Thank the Force, they were nearly out of this mess. “Here they are, General!”

    As she approached, he glanced over the control panel of the one closest to him, mentally calculating the coordinates he'd need to input to get them as far away from this junker as possible before he looked at her – rather, he looked at the place he thought she was, because the kriffing smoke was thick as stew at this point, and he couldn't make her out. That wasn't good. Unlike himself, she didn't have a helmet to filter out any airborne toxins. “You should go first.”

    For a moment there was no reply, then he heard her maddening response. “No.”

    Stonewall took a deep, calming breath to steady himself, but before he could ask her why, she continued. “Haven't you heard the shots coming from this ship? Ventress will blast us to pieces the moment she sees the pods.”

    Then...?” Yes, he had heard the blaster fire, but they didn't have a wealth of options at this point. The ship shuddered again, then some of the smoke began to clear away, as if it was being sucked out into open space via a fracture in the hull. Really not good.

    Except now he could see her a little better, and he realized that she was looking at him again. “You're probably not going to like it,” she said, placing a hand on his gauntleted forearm, the one he'd let her examine well over a day ago. “Remember when I mentioned the possibility of a very unpleasant death?”

    Instantly, Stonewall silenced the mic in his bucket so that he could swear as loudly and as creatively as he wanted without her hearing him – it helped – then re-activated it a moment later to reply in a mild voice. “Not something I could forget.”

    We're going to eject the pods – empty – and make our escape another way.”

    Another way?” Curiosity overrode everything else as he studied her; moments later the Jedi closed her eyes again and he watched, transfixed, as she summoned the Force. Before his eyes, she changed. Some of her exhaustion faded. The veil of pain and weariness that had shrouded her for the duration of this adventure lifted up and away. When her eyes opened and met his, all he saw was determination.

    Do you trust me, Stone?”

    There was no need to consider his answer, because it had been inside of him, all along. “With my life.”

    When she smiled at him this time, he knew that they were going to be okay. “Great,” she said in a light voice, as if they'd been discussing the weather. “Then you have nothing to worry about.”

    Glad to hear it,” he replied in an equally casual tone. “So...”

    Assuming this ship is constructed like others I've seen, there should be an airlock nearby.” With that, she stepped past him to examine the area, moments later exclaiming in satisfaction as she found what she was looking for.

    It was a small alcove, with a door on either end; one led to the interior of the ship, before which they were standing side-by-side. The other opened to blank space, which he could see through the small porthole. It was not a pleasant sight, but he ignored the feeling of foreboding and looked at the Jedi beside him. “Your orders?”

    Obi-Wan's here,” she said after a beat. “He's coming for us, but he can't get to this ship in time, I think.”

    Stonewall frowned. “Then what do you want us to do?”

    How much do you know about the Force, Stonewall?”

    He shook his head. “Not much, I guess. It helps a Jedi move quickly, jump higher. It allows a Jedi to know...things before they happen.”

    She nodded and looked thoughtful. “That's all true, but there are other applications as well. For example...” Here she paused, and he watched uncertainty flicker across her face.

    On a whim, Stonewall removed his helmet and met her eyes, silently urging her to continue. “Other applications?”

    I can create a shield with the Force,” she said slowly, measuring her words. “It's what I did earlier on Basrah when you...”

    I remember,” he said with a frown. “No need to bring up that incident again, sir.”

    A faint smile crossed her face and she nodded. “With the shield, I should be able to keep us safe in open space for a brief time, until Obi-Wan can reach us.”

    Should?” He tasted the word and found it not to his liking. “When it comes to your safety, General Halcyon, we need more than 'should.'”

    We don't have any other options,” she said, shaking her head. Again, she set her hand on his arm and met his gaze, so close he could make out the individual lashes that framed her eyes and thereby disabling any further protests on his part. “But the Force is with us. It must be,” she added with a smile that almost made him forget the dire nature of their situation. “To have brought you to me, and kept us both safe up until now.”

    No, this was not going to be pleasant in the least, but he had no choice anymore, if indeed he'd ever had one. Immediately, he began to unfasten his left gauntlet. “Alright, then. If we're going to do this, you'll need my suit.”

    Stonewall...” Again, he felt the soft touch of her hand against his arm as she stilled his movements. “There isn't time. Besides, I doubt it would look as good on me.”

    Any other time and he'd have been pleased at her words, though all he could do now was sigh. “Then what can I do to help?”

    Nothing,” she said, then frowned as the ship was rocked by cannon-fire again. “Well, cover me, I guess. In a few moments, I'll use the Force to eject the pods. Once I do, we'll go into the airlock; from there, I'll strengthen my shield, and when the coast is relatively clear...we'll do our little spacewalk. I know you have emergency repulsors in your armor, right? They should allow us to navigate to Obi-Wan's location.”

    He was quiet, absorbing her words, then he shook his head. “Please give me something else to do before that.”

    Stone-” Her hand was still on his arm.

    General Halcyon,” he interrupted, placing his free hand over her own, uncaring that he was breaking every protocol at the moment. “You've shown me that I can do more than shoot a blaster. There has to be some way I can help you.”

    Her lips parted as she inhaled in surprise, then she nodded slowly, her expression conveying that she was considering his words.

    Okay,” she said at last, swallowing and meeting his eyes as he removed his hand from hers. “Maybe you can help me. The Force is an energy that all living beings are a part of, whether they can access it or not. If you concentrate, perhaps you can help me with the shield.”

    That's...not...I mean...”

    You asked,” she pointed out with a knowing look.

    Stonewall took a breath, then slid his bucket back over his head, ensuring that the seal was secure. “I guess I did.”

    A flick of her wrist, and they watched as the escape pods slipped free of their latches and began to drift into the black swell of space, then he activated the first airlock so that they could enter the small alcove. As they did, he noted that the temperature dropped considerably. “I'm supposed to concentrate on...what, exactly?”

    Imagine an energy shield around us,” she replied. “Just like on a starship.”

    It sounded easy enough, but he'd learned that things were never easy when it came to Jedi in general, and this Jedi in particular. “Anything else I should keep in mind?”

    Exhale right before we open the airlock,” she said. Her eyes had closed and he could see that she was starting to meditate, for her breath was slowing and her features were relaxing. “Get out all the air from your lungs that you can. Just in case.”

    Out of the corner of his eye, through the tiny window of the airlock, he could see the escape pods meandering away from the ship, and he wondered how long the decoys would last. A glance back her way showed him that she was concentrating; he tried to do as she'd said, imagining a faint layer of protective energy around them, but he was having trouble focusing. She looked frail, again. Weakened by the ordeal, and he worried that she'd be unable to retain her strength for the task ahead.

    Protocol be damned...he'd come this far already. Stonewall reached for the Jedi and swept her in his arms without a word; her eyes snapped open and he saw her take a breath to protest, but he beat her to the punch. “Let me help you, General,” he said again. “This way, you can put all of your energy into your shield.”


    Say the word,” he added in his most serious voice. “And I'll set you down.”

    She was silent; he watched as her eyes drifted shut and in the next moment she relaxed into his grip. Taking a deep breath, he found that this time he was able to imagine the shield around them with ease, and on some signal that he couldn't recall later, he knew when it was time to open the final airlock. All around them, the ship shivered; he watched dimly as one of the escape pods was blasted into shards of durasteel.

    The door to the airlock slid open. Beyond was a blackness unlike anything he'd ever seen, vast, unknowable. He felt small and insignificant beside it, and for a moment the weight of the entire galaxy pressed against him and made him dizzy.

    Then she murmured his name, and nudged herself a little closer to his chest as if she were cold. I'm here, he silently told her. You're safe with me.

    As she'd instructed, Stonewall pushed every last bit of air from his lungs, then stepped out into nothing.
  7. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Chapter Seven: Beginning

    It was one thing to know something, like the fact that space was kriffing cold.

    It was quite another to experience it for himself.

    Stonewall had no idea how much of the cold the Jedi's shield was keeping at bay, but he was ready for this part of the adventure to be over. It was colder than anything he'd ever known, so cold that he forgot what it felt like to be warm. His breath was short – thankfully it hadn't been ripped from his lungs as she'd feared – and his helmet offered him a bit of reprieve, but it was hardly anything noteworthy.

    But the temperature wasn't the worst part.

    Above his head, beneath his feet, on either side was...nothing. Black, blank void, the most unnerving thing he'd ever laid eyes on. He couldn't even see any stars, though he could see a milky planet in the background, behind Ventress' ship. After taking a moment to orient himself, he could make out the familiar triangular shape of a Venator-class starship – thank the Force – as well as a small starfighter, which he presumed held General Kenobi. As Stonewall activated his repulsors, a burst of color filled his peripheral vision: the second pod had been destroyed. It was likely that their little stunt would be discovered, soon.

    But she had given him a task, and he refused to deviate from it, so Stonewall put every free iota of his concentration into the mental image of a shield around them, protecting both her and himself from the black, freezing nothingness that threatened to suffocate.

    His repulsors moved them along slowly, so slowly. He didn't know how much time had passed since they'd left the Seppie ship, but he could feel her starting to shiver in his arms; a glance down showed him that color was draining from her skin. A faint, bluish tint crept over her lips.

    No, he told her, tightening his grip and willing every ounce of his strength into the dark-haired woman. No harm will come to you, while I'm around. You have my word.

    Here...” she whispered, and he looked up to see the agile fighter gliding towards them on sublights. In his arms, she started to shake even harder, even though he saw a faint smile appear on her face. The sight frightened him; he thought that it meant she was had faded into a sort of delirium.

    And then General Kenobi's ship was there, and Stonewall realized that he could maneuver himself and her into the opened gunner's area, which was separate from the cockpit. It was not difficult; in truth he hardly noticed, because Kalinda – there was no other way for him to think of her, now – had started to convulse in his arms, and the blue on her lips had intensified, like she was freezing from the inside out.

    The moment he touched down, the Jedi activated the seal of the craft to close around them and block out the void beyond. Stonewall took a breath before he was able to speak. “Sir, she's not well. We need to-”

    But his words were not necessary, because Kenobi had already veered the craft towards the larger, Venator-class ship where Stone knew there'd be medics waiting. Dimly, he registered the Jedi calling to the Republic vessel, but everything else faded away when he looked back down at the woman in his arms. She was shaking, almost writhing, and she looked an inch away from death.

    Stonewall removed his bucket with one hand; it managed to clatter to the floor at his feet. “Kalinda,” he said in as calm a voice he could manage when her eyes had rolled back in her head. “It's okay, Kalinda...we're safe now.”

    Even through his armor he could feel how cold she was, like ice, but he swallowed his fear. “You did it,” he told her, lifting a gloved hand to smooth back an errant strand of dark hair from her forehead. “You saved us both.”

    Stone...” Somehow she was able to shape his name, though the sound was halting and stuttered.

    He shushed her, then touched her cheek because he couldn't help it, and because he would regret it forever if he didn't. He wished his armor was warmer, wished he had a blanket to wrap her in, wished he had something besides cold, utilitarian plastoid to place against her skin. “It's okay, now,” he said again. “You're safe. You're going to be fine. I promised you, didn't I?”


    The sound of General Kenobi's voice startled him, and he looked up to see the back of the Jedi's head. “Sir?”

    We're nearly there,” Kenobi said. “Medics are waiting and a bacta tank has been prepared. She will be fine.”

    Yes, sir,” Stonewall replied, feeling very foolish all of a sudden. How much had the Jedi heard? Could he sense the clone's feelings?

    Because it was undeniable, now. Stonewall knew, whatever else happened after this moment, that he was irrevocably changed, and that the woman in his arms had been the impetus behind it – whether she'd meant to be or not. Likely not. But that was okay, he figured. Maybe she'd been right, and the Force had led them to each other for some reason, unknown right now, but maybe not forever.

    Maybe it was destiny. Maybe it was luck. Or, he thought, maybe it was some combination of the two.

    When General Kenobi spoke again, his words were weighted. “Thank you for helping her, Stonewall.”

    Stonewall shook his head and touched her cheek for the last time. “Just doing my job, sir.”


    When they arrived at General Skywalker's flagship, the Resolute, Stonewall found himself on the sidelines as he watched the medics lift her unconscious form onto a gurney, which they then proceeded to direct to the medbay. General Kenobi was by her side the entire time, and Stonewall was glad that she wouldn't be alone. He did wish that he'd also been able to remain with her, but it was a fleeting thought. Now that the mission was all over, he knew that his place was not where she was, not anymore.

    For a moment he stood in the hangar of the massive ship and considered what he was supposed to do, now. Contact Cody, probably; even though he couldn't recall if there were any regs for this type of scenario, he figured that was the proper thing to do: check in with his CO and accept the inevitable punishment that would accompany any soldier who abandoned his post.

    After that...well, he did have a buddy or two in the 501st, and he didn't really feel like being alone at the moment.

    However, before he could move, he heard a throat clearing behind him; turning, he took in the sight of a fellow clone trooper in distinctive, blue-striped armor – Captain Rex of Torrent Company, if memory served – arms folded across his chest and regarding Stonewall with an unnervingly unreadable expression.

    Captain Rex. Something snapped inside of him, and he lifted his arm in a swift salute to the officer.

    Lieutenant Stonewall, correct? Cody called me about you.”

    Stonewall resisted the urge to grimace. Yeah, he definitely knew what was forthcoming. “Sir?”

    Once you've been looked over by a medic, he requested that I keep you busy until you're returned to your unit,” Rex said in the mild voice of an officer who knew he was doling out a punishment, but was trying to keep the situation amicable. It was a bit puzzling, especially because Stonewall had no clue how much information Rex had been given about the entire incident. Either way, he knew Cody well enough to have anticipated something like this, so he didn't fault Rex for playing messenger.

    The captain glanced between Stonewall and the direction that they'd taken Kalinda – General Halcyon, once again – then took a few steps across the empty hangar towards the other man, his bucket swaying at his belt with the motion.

    For a moment he continued to regard Stonewall as if he was trying to figure something out, then he spoke again. “Sneaking aboard a Seppie ship to rescue a's going to make quite a story, Lieutenant. Why'd you do it?”

    I-” Stonewall frowned. It would not be prudent to admit that he felt anything for a Jedi other than a sense of duty. But none of the others had attempted the stunt he had, so clearly there was something going on beneath the surface, which was probably why Rex was even asking. The 501st captain was not known for his propensity for small-talk.

    Kriff, he thought with a sigh. And I thought the hard part was over, already. He met the officer's gaze. “She needed my help, sir. I'm afraid I can't say much beyond that.”

    Something like satisfaction gleamed in the captain's eyes, though he only nodded once in acknowledgment of the words. “Until you return to the 212th, you're to be on cleaning duty, Lieutenant,” Rex said in a brisk manner. “Mess-hall, practice rooms, all needs a good scrubbing.”

    The captain paused, then sighed as he reached into his belt and withdrew a miniscule brush, the kind that was normally used to clean one's teeth. “Cody also asked me to pass this along...said you'd know what it meant.” He gave Stonewall a look that was half apologetic, half amused.

    Sir, yes sir,” Stonewall replied, reaching for the toothbrush so that he could tuck it into his belt. “The commander's good on his word.”

    At this, Rex appeared to fight back a snort of laughter, but he only nodded and turned to leave. Stonewall waited for one beat before he called out to the officer again. At his voice, Rex paused and turned, giving him an inquiring lift of his brow. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

    If...if there's any change in General Halcyon's condition,” he said slowly. “May I request to be informed, sir?”

    There was a beat where Rex appeared to think over his words, though he eventually nodded. “Certainly, Stonewall.”

    For a silent moment the captain seemed to consider something else; he gave a slight frown before he looked back at Stonewall one last time, and when he spoke, it was in a manner that indicated he'd thought the words over well before he'd chosen to share them.

    I'm not going to say that you did the right thing by breaking formation, or by disobeying Cody. But – for what it's worth – I think I understand why you did what you did. Jedi are not untouchable. They can be hurt, same as us, but I think they forget that, sometimes. I'm glad that you didn't.”

    Following this, Rex smirked and nodded to the lieutenant's belt, where the toothbrush had been stowed. “In any case, I look forward to a clean mess-hall floor, Stonewall...though, I recommend you get something to eat, first. After that, find Kix and he'll check you out.”

    It was all Stonewall could do to salute one more time, though he found he was smiling as well. “Glad to be of service, Captain.”


    Kix the medic was a soft-spoken fellow who arranged to meet Stonewall in the barracks rather than the medbay. Aside from a few members of the 501st, the area appeared to be quiet; it was the middle of the ship's cycle, after all, and likely everyone was on duty rotation.

    Following a meal and a brief examination, he was deemed fit for duty. As Kix put away his kit, he cast Stonewall a curious look. “Our suits are space-resistant, but only to a point,” he said slowly. “How is it that you and the general managed to survive?”

    Kix had insisted on giving him an injection to ward away any potential infection, so he was replacing the pieces of his body suit that covered his arm, which he'd had to remove. With a note of remorse, Stonewall recalled General Halcyon's amazement at the mechanics of his armor...was it only a matter of days ago, now?

    She used the Force,” Stonewall said. “Beyond that, I'm not sure.”

    Well, color me impressed,” Kix replied with a shrug. “I wish that all Jedi knew how to manage such a thing...might make our jobs a little safer.”

    Stonewall nodded, but his thoughts had turned away again, towards the dark-haired woman. “Have you heard anything about General Halcyon?” he asked, getting to his feet and slipping on his gauntlet.

    Kix looked thoughtful. “She didn't require bacta, only some thermal supplements to prevent her body from going into true shock from the cold of space. I think she's sleeping, now. Room...6, if I recall.” He tilted his head in Stonewall's direction, and his tone was carefully neutral. “Want me to show you where in the medbay it is?”

    No, thank you,” Stonewall replied. “I think I can find my way around.” After a final word of thanks to the medic, he slipped out of the barracks and made his way through the Resolute's passages, thinking that they looked the same as every other Venator-class he'd been on, and wondering how much time he had until Rex started looking for him and the toothbrush to ensure that he was fulfilling Cody's punishment.

    The medbay was bright, a little cold, but comforting in a familiar way. A sterile smell of antiseptic reached him, but it wasn't as bothersome as it normally might have been, now that he knew that she wasn't in immediate danger. Stonewall bypassed the ICU and made his way to the recovery rooms, counting down the numbers until he found the door he was looking for.

    Room 6. Outwardly, it looked the same as any other.


    He took a breath, then activated the chime that would announce his presence. No response. It made sense, if she was sleeping, but he didn't want to risk bursting in on her, just in case. The lock wasn't active; the readout on the panel beside the door alerted him to the fact that visitors were allowed, so after taking another deep breath, he activated the door and stepped inside.

    Someone had dimmed the lights to cut away any glare, but there was enough to see the form of the Jedi Knight, lying prone in the raised bed at the center of the room. No one else was present; it was only himself and General Halcyon. For a moment, Stonewall stood by the entrance, debating, then he stepped forward, not bothering to shut the door behind him because...

    Well, he didn't really know why, but the subject fled his mind once he reached her side.

    In sleep, she looked peaceful. There was a comforting rise and fall of her chest that indicated her breathing was steady; her pallor appeared back to normal, though he still thought she looked a little too pale, or perhaps his memory was subject to the warm glow of a campfire, or a displaced shaft of sunlight. Her lips were parted, slightly, as if she was about to speak, and for a moment he could hear her voice in his head.

    You have everything you need in here. He could still feel the cadence of her fingertips against his armored chest, as if she was remaking his heartbeat, just as she'd done with his name.


    Kalinda,” he said, looking down at her left hand, resting along the linens. It was slightly upturned, and as he watched closely, he could see the faintest lift of the pulse at her wrist. “Thank you, for everything.”

    What he wanted to do was pull off his glove and take her hand in his own, just to feel her skin, though he immediately pushed the thought away as wildly inappropriate. It would be too much, he knew, to touch her hand, even with his gloves on. He'd gotten to hold her, once. That would be enough to sustain him throughout the rest of his days, however brief they might be.

    Suddenly he felt very foolish for coming here. He had a job and a duty, not to mention a punishment to get started on. Better to leave now and pretend he'd never stopped by, should anyone ask. Kix might know, but medics were by-and-large good at keeping secrets, even the ones they hadn't been asked to keep. Rex would also probably figure it out, but the captain didn't seem inclined to punish someone for a transgression of this nature, if it even could be considered such.


    It was General Kenobi; he'd entered the room without a sound and come to stand beside Stonewall while the clone had been absorbed in his own musings. Stonewall moved to salute the Jedi, but the other man waved the gesture aside, and for a moment the two of them watched her sleep. Finally, Kenobi looked his way. “If not for your – admittedly reckless – actions, we might not have found her in time. Thank you, Stonewall.”


    General Kenobi reached forward and skimmed his fingertips along the length of her arm, but Stonewall couldn't read his expression, other than to think that the Jedi appeared lost in thought. After a moment he glanced at the clone again, his blue eyes crinkling with traces of warm amusement, which was comforting in its own fashion. If this Jedi wasn't worried, it meant that she was truly going to be okay. “I think she feels the same way.”

    Stonewall returned the wry look with a faint smile of his own. “Good to know, General.”

    The air around him suddenly felt very thick and heavy, and he thought that he might have trouble speaking further – especially if the tightness forming in his chest was any indication – so he cleared his throat and addressed the Jedi again. “I should be going, sir. Commander Cody saw to it that I was given a few...tasks while we're here.”

    Of that I have no doubt,” Kenobi replied in a wry voice. They exchanged another look, then Stonewall slipped out of the room.


    First he tackled the practice area. Equipment was organized, mirrors were wiped down, floors were mopped – Stonewall decided to save the toothbrush for later – and when he was done the entire place gleamed like it was brand-new. From there, he made his way to the barracks, where there were a few more clones, some he knew, some he didn't, but his duties were interrupted by some of the others asking him to recount his adventure.

    It wasn't a story that he really wanted to tell, because it was over. It had ended happily, at least, but now it was over and done, and he could never go back to The-Way-Things-Were, before it had happened.

    Word was that they would reach Corrie the next evening, so he took the opportunity to shower, shave and sleep before he confronted the rest of his punishment. The next time his eyes opened, Stonewall realized with a start that he'd managed to wake up in the earliest part of the morning, when a ship like the Resolute was at its most quiet. A few of the guys around him in the barracks were snoring, but other than that it was silent.

    He spent several minutes tossing and turning before he decided that sleep was no longer an option for him, so he rose, dressed in his armor – he hadn't thought to ask for fatigues and didn't want to go searching around right now – and made his way to the mess hall. It was quiet there, too. The recessed lights that ran along the upper walls were dim, indicative of the nighttime cycle, but rather than activate them, he decided to use the beams on his bucket to illuminate his immediate work area.

    Time passed, he didn't bother to keep track. Mostly he tried not to think at all, focusing the bulk of his attention on the miniature spirals of soap that he pushed around with the toothbrush, and the rest on a few new tactics that some of Torrent Company had been discussing the previous day; despite all of this, he still saw her face in his mind's eye.

    The image made him scrub harder and harder, as if he could erase it from his memory by sheer force of will, until he felt beads of sweat start to roll down his back and forehead.

    But even in the recesses of both his imagination and his memory, Kalinda Halcyon seemed determined not to leave, and he wondered again if he was really lost, or if he was defective in some way.

    It wasn't supposed to be like this. Clones and Jedi were not supposed to exist in the same realms, even on the battlefield, but his entire world had been thrown off-kilter from the first moment he saw her, and he had no idea how to set it right again.

    A soft shushing noise at the opposite corner of the mess – the doors opening and closing – made him pause and look up. It was her, but he knew at once by her movements that she hadn't seen him. The dark-haired woman entered the room and crossed the gleaming floor to the windows that overlooked the stars; he watched as her footprints left faint marks where he'd already scrubbed so diligently.

    But he didn't care about that, not even a little. Her face was turned towards the window, and he couldn't make out her expression, but the fact that she was up and about was enough to make some of the tension leave his shoulders – tension whose existence he hadn't even been aware of until it was gone. As quietly as he could, so not to disturb her, he got to his feet, then spent a long moment debating what he was going to say.

    Finally, he took a deep breath and shifted his body into the familiar repose of parade-rest, then cleared his throat. “I'm glad to see you on your feet, General.”

    Kalinda Halcyon turned his way, and his entire world was thrown into disarray – again.

    Stonewall figured he really should've been used to that, by now.

    The End
  8. Kahara

    Kahara Chosen One star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Wow, I'm glad I found this back again (had it bookmarked weeks ago, but it got lost in the shuffle.) I haven’t read Old Wounds. Actually, I think I inadvertently started in the middle of your timeline with Trials, which I haven't finished yet. So I have some idea where things go, but not how they get there. (Now I want to read the other stories and see what Kalinda’s POV is like.)

    This was a great look into the lives of the clone troopers. I liked the details, not just the mindset of inevitable duty but the nuts and bolts of how they perceive things a little differently. It was neat how Stonewall used the visual tools in his helmet as an automatic, instinctive thing. It reminded me of all the new technology that people are predicting, the “cell phone chip in your brain” phenomenon. To us, it’s a vague possibility. To him, it’s just an everyday part of how he moves through his environment.

    I liked seeing the transformation of Stonewall’s mindset, that he starts out with a very narrow focus on jobs of the day but ends up trying to balance his newfound love with the duties he owes to his leaders and the others. At the end here, his feelings for Kalinda still seem like an infatuation. However, it’s a sweet and sympathetic one. Kalinda was an interesting character as well. The way she encouraged Stonewall and the other clones to learn games, make music, and generally just have an interest in life beyond what they’ve been trained for, made my heart melt into a puddle of goo. They are just too adorable for words, both of them.
    laloga likes this.
  9. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011

    Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this. :) Yeah, the timeline can be a bit confusing, especially since I am still figuring out this site. (I'm used to FFN's layout.) But I'm glad you found this one. (Would you like me to post Old Wounds up here as well? I did a while ago, but I think it got lost during the move last year.)

    Anyway, yes, this story was very early days for Kali & Stonewall. They have a long journey ahead of them. ;) It was interesting to write Stonewall as a "shiny" in many ways, and yes, at this point he is very much infatuated with Kali, though he's not quite sure what to make of the feeling.

    As for Kali, music is a big part of who she is, so she naturally wants to share it - both the making of and the listening to. :D

    Thank you for the kind words! Again, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this. [face_love]
  10. Kahara

    Kahara Chosen One star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    You're welcome. :) It's nice to see "early days" stories and how the characters are similar or different to their later selves.

    Depends on whether you want to repost here, since it's on my to-read list regardless. I can navigate FFN with no trouble, but I do like the format of TFN -- it has its drawbacks but also feels more sociable to me. Something about the comment style makes it seem kind of like gathering with a group of friends to listen to one share their story. FFN is more like a presented "book" that you read alone and can leave a post-it of appreciation if you wish; a bit more distant. It's kind of interesting how the site programming makes the feel of a place seem different. Others here may not have caught up with your older works either, so there's that to consider as well.
  11. laloga

    laloga Jedi Knight star 2

    Jul 28, 2011
    Hmm. Excellent points. I think I may put the whole thing up at one time, maybe this weekend, rather than update week by week. I have two ongoing fics now, and don't want to spam the main page. :p

    Oddly enough, I prefer FFN's layout to this one. I find it easier to navigate in general, but especially with regards to posting.

    Thank you for your feedback! :)
    Kahara likes this.