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Saga What Any of it is Worth (post-ROTS, Ahsoka, Rex, ensemble, OC's) 2/4

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by iceaffinity, Sep 18, 2010.

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  1. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    Title: What Any of it is Worth
    Author: iceaffinity
    Timeframe: post ROTS
    Characters: Ahsoka, Rex, Echo, Fives, Cody, Ventress, Ensemble, OC's.
    Genre: Drama/Friendship
    PM list: Sure, just ask.
    Notes: Before we get started, I wanted to comment that this is a sequel. It follows another fic called [link=http://boards.theforce.net/the_saga/b10476/31022531/p1]Said the Joker to the Thief[/link]. This fic will probably not make much sense without having read that. It takes place post Revenge of the Sith, and focuses on some of the supporting cast of The Clone Wars series. What Any of it is Worth expands on the events of Said the Joker, and picks up immediately where Said the Joker left off (not including its epilogue). Otherwise, enjoy!





    [i]
    What Any of it is Worth[/i]

    [i]?There must be some way out of here,? said the joker to the thief
    ?There?s too much confusion, I can?t get no relief
    Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
    None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.?

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


    Chapter 1. The Form of Perseverance



    She [i]danced[/i].

    Around her, jade colored brightness flew, in arcs and twists, the blade humming the familiar tune to which she moved. Eyes closed, energy whirling around her, but also through her, binding, the separation between herself and the rest of the galaxy diminished, her self submerged into the pattern of the dance and into the Force that bound her to all other things.

    A foot moved [i]here[/i]. A hand moved [i]there[/i]. Perfect, practiced steps from countless repetitions. The blade moved forward, a stab. It swept upward, a slash. The light from its arc reflected against her face and lit the grass underfoot, eerie, cool, flickering. She moved low, the tips of the vegetation seared from the passing of the blade. She pivoted, balanced delicately for a moment on one foot, then lowered the other for a more solid stance. The ground was still somewhat soft from an earlier drizzle. Damp earth moved around bare toes as she positioned herself.

    A final motion. A long thrust forward, legs bent, head low, chin down, invisible enemy stabbed through the heart.

    She opened sky blue eyes, and found she had an audience.


    [hr]


    Ilum did not exist.

    It was not unlike Kamino in that sense. No starchart marked it. Few had ever heard of it, its existence kept secret from all but a special few. Reaching the planet was not easy. Travel on the surface of the world was cold and treacherous. The oceans were only floes of ice, the land covered in glaciers of blue and white, sparkling enough in the sunlight to blind any person who dared to look upon them directly.

    Ahsoka squinted across the cliff, to see only a sea of white-blue behind her. Beneath heavy layers of snowsuit and parka, she was sweating with the effort of scaling the slopes to reach this vantage point. Bitter wind blew down from the higher mountains, sending flakes of snow swirling lazily around her. Her cheeks were turning dark brown with cold, her white markings revealing a shade almost matching the glaciers where they were uncovered by thermal fabric and insulating faux furs.

    She lifted her hands, placed them on either side of the goggles over her eyes, and lifted them, setting the visor onto her forehead. The brightness increased, the sharpness of the light and refracting snow growing sharper. Her squint sharpened. But she wanted to see this with her own eyes, with nothing in the way. She looked up the cliff face before her, the pale wall of it rising until it seemed to cut the sky with a spiky edge.

    Nestled between two sloping cliffs lay the ruin. Once, she knew, it had been beautiful. Ice spires that would have shone silver and blue amid the frost, crystalline colors, representative of the precious crystals that lay within. The structure that led into the Crystal Cave of Ilum served as a waystation and welcome place for Jedi seeking hearts for their lightsabers. Now it was toppled, the spires broken, the windows shattered or slump>
     
  2. tangled_sphere

    tangled_sphere Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 28, 2003
    That was beautifully written iceaffinity! =D= I could really feel myself there looking for the crystals and seeing the devastation of the Imperials. Also Maera and Ashoka are great together. So much history for the young girl to absorb and learn. And I liked the hope that Ashoka gave her, even if she does not fully believe it herself.

    Great beginning! @};-
     
  3. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    I'm so glad to see the sequel to Said the Joker to the Thief up! This was a beautiful beginning - the description of Ahsoka practising a kata at the beginning is simply lovely, and I loved your descriptions of Ilum - both of the natural environment there as well as Rex's and Ahsoka's reactions to what they find there. As usual, your Rex/Ahsoka is marvellously done - a very light, but sweet touch. Maera is such a lovely child - I hope we'll see quite a bit more of her in future chapters!

    Please put me on the PM list for this story. Thanks! :)
     
  4. DoubleEO

    DoubleEO Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2010
    I Love the way you started this. [face_love] Can you add me to the PM list?
     
  5. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    tangled_sphere: Aw, thank you! I can only imagine what a child would be learning about what happened, and how to explain such a thing to someone so young.

    Valiowk: I always enjoy writing Rex/Ahsoka, they're way too much fun, somehow. And I'm thinking about writing some more with Maera, though it may be in a separate story. Haven't quite decided yet. :)

    DoubleEO: Thanks! And sure, I'll give you a PM when chapter 3 comes out!





    [i]What Any of it is Worth[/i]

    Chapter 2. Knights of the Fallen Republic

    [hr]

    It had begun.

    He had watched the others, as they progressed. Now it was claiming him. He felt it, beginning with an ache in the head, sluggish and filling, a thick heavy syrup that oozed down through the neck and the chest and into the limbs. A general feeling of wrongness, the world not quite looking right, a ringing in the ears that only he could hear. His eyelids felt heavy, tired. He had little opportunity to be sick in his life. Injured, yes. Ill, no. He was not sure he liked it.

    The steaming surface of the mug before him was appealing. The liquid gleamed from the overhead lighting, wobbling a little as he picked it up. He was not used to having anyone take care of him, in such a personal way. Nura served as surrogate mother to the children. He never had a mother, never knew what it was to have one. But he imagined it would be something like this. To have someone come and fuss over him, someone to tell, [i]'I don't feel so well'[/i] and she'd make you a cup of hot tea and put a hand to your forehead, nod sympathetically, order you to rest and take care of yourself.

    Whatever was in the concoction Nura made, it was sharp, mind clearing. He sipped it and breathed in the smell, letting it into his sinuses to help cut through the headache. He knew from watching his brothers that solids would come back up as he underwent this process of changing, lengthening. The tea tasted healthy, almost flowery, so very herbal. He set the mug down onto the table before him, ran a hand over his neck where Nura had injected the serum that afternoon. There was a tiny bruise, and he could feel the bump of it aching on his skin. [i]Cure[/i], they were calling it. Long life, normal life. All it cost was a few days of sickness. Worthwhile.

    There was a soft knock on the wall, and Cody looked up to see Ahsoka peering carefully around the corner of the kitchen.

    [hr]

    She set the dishes into the cabinet, and closed it firmly.

    Ahsoka stepped back, settling down onto her heels from standing on her toes to reach the shelf. She turned back to the sink, released the drain, letting the ship's recyclers take back and purify the dishwater. The galley was back in order, save for one stray plate. She turned to the side, lips pursed, unsure, worried. Absently, she patted her damp palms against her pants.

    Cody sat at the table nearby, leaning back in his chair, one arm resting idly on the tabletop. He was turned slightly, head inclined towards their narrow window, watching the rainbow streaks of hyperspace flying by. His dinner sat in front of him, cold, uneaten, pushed around somewhat, giving the appearance of attempted interest.

    She stepped forward, straightened one of the nearer chairs. She did not like the sense of [i]unease[/i] he was releasing into the Force. It rumbled and twisted, slow and tough. A feeling of [i]irritation[/i], of [i]anger[/i], but what made her worry was an underpinning of [i]guilt[/i] and [i]helplessness[/i]. He had done much. They all had done much, but it did not always feel that way. The Empire was massive, rising, totalitarian, invincible, everywhere. They were small and alone.

    "Are you finished?" she asked, and when he looked up, vaguely startled, she repeated herself, pointing at the food. He nodded, frowning, then began to return his attention to the window.

    Ahsoka picked up the plate, walked to the recycler, and scraped the food into it. They were on rations of frozen, prepackaged food until they reached Alderaan and could restock fresh vegetables from the garden. The f>
     
  6. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    Lovely chapter! I had been looking forward to seeing what would happen when the metabolic cure was finally administered, and the account you give seems absolutely appropriate!

    I love the way you're able to pin down exactly what feelings Cody is experiencing. We're able to guess that the clones who have newly joined Ahsoka's group may feel somewhat lost or angry that the life they've been living so far is a lie, but you do a wonderful job of elucidating these emotions in more detail!

    Indeed, how strange it must feel to have a wealth of possibilities thrown before you, yet have absolutely no idea where you should begin - it's no wonder that Cody is a bit envious of Rex for having some of it figured out. Nevertheless, I believe Cody will soon figure out what he wants to do with the new life before him. :) And oh, the part about Rex giving Cody a slightly sheepish smile is just too cute. :p

    Great update! Looking forward to seeing what happens next!
     
  7. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    Great chapter. I love the interaction between Ahsoka and Cody. And poor Cody, not seeming to know what to do with the news that Obi-Wan is alive.
     
  8. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - Thanks! And Cody will be spending some time figuring out what to do with himself in the future. :)

    anakin_girl -
    I can only imagine there'd be some conflict with the idea that Obi-Wan is alive. Order 66 makes all these relationships so complicated....



    [i]What Any of it is Worth[/i]


    Chapter 3. Reuniting the Deserters


    [hr]


    It had been some six years since he had been to this world.

    The speeder bike moved quickly over the smooth terrain, bulbous trees and long fields of grain whizzing past as Rex steered them forward, his arms stretched out to command the bike forward at a faster pace. Wind was roaring past his ears, stinging his face with its sharpness. Had they been moving slow enough for anyone to get a good look, an observer would have seen something halfway between a smirk and a smile on his lips. It was good to be in the fresh air, even if it was moving so fast around him that he considered wishing for his old helmet to keep his eyes from drying. Still, it felt good. Ahsoka was tucked into the seat behind him, arms wrapped tightly around his waist as they flew forward. He could feel her forehead pressing into the back of his shoulder.

    It was nearly sunset, though sunsets came early here. They headed west, into the broad orange sun, past rolling hills and more trees, speeder humming below them. The further from the town they went, the more rural the scenery became. Farmsteads could be spotted in the distance, with barns standing tall against the growing shadows of the evening. Eopies could be periodically spotted in the fields, clustered in small herds.

    The way to the homestead was simple enough to remember, though it had been so long. They banked to the left, following a branch of the muddy road below them. The land had changed somewhat as well, subtle changes wrought by time and weather. There seemed to be more occupied fields than he remembered, though perhaps that was only a trick of his memory.

    In the distance, another farm could be seen, at first seeming nothing more than a few dark frames against the red-orange sky behind them. But these had a familiar look to them, a round barn to the left and an almost boot-shaped house to the right. There were changes, there, too. There was a large shed off to one side, beyond the barn, which sported a fresh coat of russet paint. A small structure he guessed to be a nuna house could be seen, some wire mesh enclosing it. As they drew closer, some yellow light was shining visibly from the house?s windows. A couple of small figures were running between the buildings, and he slowed the speeder bike as they drew closer.

    There were two of them. A boy and a girl, both Twi?lek. They hovered, curiously, the girl on her toes, nearly bouncing, and the boy a step behind, seeming to almost peer around her. He slowed the speeder further, then eased it to a stop. They stared up at him. Rex looked down at the girl first and smiled.

    She blinked, then brightened in recognition, mouth falling open as she raised a finger to point at Rex?s face. When he lifted his brows, expectantly, her response was to turn, shouting, ?Dad! Mom! You?ve got to come see! [i]Daddy![/i]? as she broke into a run for the fields beyond the homestead. Blue and peach spangled lekku bounced along behind her as she raced forward.

    Rex chuckled, and from a thrum he could feel vibrating against his back, Ahsoka was quietly laughing as well. She eased away from him, swung her leg over the back of the speeder, and dismounted. Rex followed suit, then looked at the boy. ?Hello, Jekk,? he said, and received a solemn look of appraisal in return. Jekk looked at Rex, then Ahsoka, then Rex again. He shuffled his feet slightly, then began to smile. He?d grown. The last time Rex had seen either Jekk or his older sister Shaeeah, they were much younger. Six years showed quite visibly on children. Jekk?s pale orange lekku had lengthened out, and he had grown quite a bit taller, though had not yet begun to show an adolescent?s awkward lankiness.

    ?I remember you,? he said to >
     
  9. vader_girl

    vader_girl Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Yay! They're getting married! =D= :D

    I love the flashback to Rex's assignment to Anakin. And the musings on what happened to the 501st, so sad. :( I had thought about that with Rex being so prominent in your story--he sticks with Ahsoka and does not become part of Vader's Fist.
     
  10. DoubleEO

    DoubleEO Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2010
    I absolutely LOVE this. =D= Keep up the good work!
     
  11. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    Loved the family dynamic in this chapter, and its stark contrast with the previous way of life of the clones. You've highlighted just how artificial the entire concept of a clone army was, and it's lovely to see that some of the clones are now able to find their way towards a normal life.

    Looking forward to seeing Rex and Ahsoka getting married. :D (And will there be their kids featuring? :p )


     
  12. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    vader_girl - Rex's not being in the 501st is basically a perfect storm of coincidences - he was away from most other clones and Anakin when Order 66 went down, he was with Ahsoka, she was hurt before he could think things through and just reacted. And I think he's independent minded enough that, given the situation, he'd break free from training/programming. :)

    DoubleEO - Thank you! [face_blush] I'll do my best!

    Valiowk - Oh yes, all twelve of their 'kids' will be right there. :p





    [i]What Any of it is Worth[/i]

    [hr]

    Chapter 4. Echo and Narcissus



    It was a battlefield.

    As Echo looked out across the melee, something exploded, glittering, arching overhead and falling back to the ground as someone screamed, running frantically from the site of impact. There came a series of shouts, shrieks. Everywhere there were bits of multicolored flimsi. There were a few yellow smears of paint on one of the walls. And then there was glue. There was a girl crying at a child-sized table because the boy beside her had smeared glue into her hair. Something tore, and a ripping sound filled the air. Something else fell with a bang. He found himself quickly scrambling out of the way of the outraged girl, who was now red faced and chasing the boy while screaming vengeance and waving her own bottle of glue. Echo flattened himself against the doorframe, open mouthed.

    He'd always had the impression libraries were quiet.

    Into the mess waded a woman, face drawn taut as she marched straight for the glue covered girl, plucked the bottle out of her hands, spun her around, pointed towards Echo and the door, and said, "Refresher with you. Now." Then she wheeled on the boy. [i]"Glue?"[/i] she demanded, hands in fists, fists on hips. Echo could not see her face with her back to him, but her voice sounded chillingly like an annoyed drill sergeant building up to a thorough dressing down. He winced. The boy had been laughing a moment earlier. Now his eyes were huge and swelling with tears. "Corner. Sit." She pointed. "Stay there until your father arrives. Then we'll discuss your behavior."

    The boy's head hung, and he glumly shuffled to the appointed corner. The woman's shoulders slumped with momentary exhaustion, then she straightened herself, spun sharply enough on her heel to set a thick black braid swinging out like a pendulum behind her. She dove back into the fray.

    The children at home could not interact only with each other their entire lives. The five oldest were allowed down into town once a week, their abilities controlled enough and their understanding of keeping a secret strong enough that Echo, Waxer and Nura believed they would be able to handle the exposure to the outside world. The five were ecstatic at the opportunity. Waxer usually packed them into the speeder and brought them down to the town's little library for a reading program, but Echo wanted a few hours to run errands of his own in town. It was easy enough to drop them off for a couple hours and take care of his own business.

    The building was small, as the town was small. Echo suddenly understood why this room was in the back, away from other patrons and the glowing stacks of holobooks and holonet terminals. It was set up for children, with tables placed low to the floor and large recycle bins in bright, primary colors lined up against the wall. There were nooks filled with art supplies, and a shelf with battered children's flimsibooks just above them.

    Echo picked out his kids. Maera, Rithron, Roo-Roo, Thoosa and Temese. They were, fortunately, sitting at a table in one corner, together, and though they had a sufficiently large pile of brightly colored scrap flimsi growing around them, they did not seem to be putting glue on each other, launching things into the air, or generally trying to wreak havoc. He sighed, leaned against the wall for a moment in relief, watching them.

    Then the woman was walking toward him with deliberation, and he straightened. She was smiling in greeting, but it did not quite hide her look of exas>
     
  13. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    And we finally get to see Rex's and Ahsoka's wedding. :) Simple, somewhat secret, yet I believe, in its own way, almost perfect to them. After all, what more could a couple ask for at their wedding than for those closest to them to be present in partaking of their joy?

    Loved the introductory paragraphs: "It was a battlefield." - and then we find out that the "battlefield" is actually children playing with glue! :D :p Though, for someone not used to children frolicking about, I'm sure this must have seemed just as fearsome as an actual battlefield! ;)

    Loved your descriptions of the children - although each of them only gets a brief mention, there's something distinctive to remember each of the children by. :)

    Suisen is a lovely OC - I'm glad that Echo met her. :) The name "Suisen" is lovely too - it's a nice touch to have a name that means "narcissus" without the connotations of the word itself.

    Oh, Echo. :p Clearly, he hasn't realised that social advice on the holonet isn't exactly the most reliable when it comes to personal relationships. ;) And the comparison in the last sentence is simply hilarious. :D

    Simply lovely. Now, if only Echo will relax a little more and show a bit more of his natural self... :)

    Looking forward to seeing what kind of lives the other clone troopers make for themselves!
     
  14. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - [face_laugh] But you know Echo would have to read the reg manual on how to date women! Not like his brothers could give him much good info (though that may have made an interesting couple of scenes....).


    [i]
    What Any of it is Worth[/i]

    [hr]



    Chapter 5. Dreams of Her Childhood


    [hr]


    The town had not fared well in the attacks.

    Now was a time of rebuilding, and he walked through the reconstruction quietly, attempting to look unobtrusive. The situation was dealt with. He would be returning to Coruscant soon, to make his report to the Jedi Council. The Togruta were a hardy people, and would recover given some time. Relief aid was already pouring in, the central government in Corvala taking necessary action. Ships were flying in medicine, food, water and temporary shelters for those who were displaced.

    The sounds of hammering and shouting people filled the air. Togruta adults were hurrying everywhere, often hauling supplies. This area had been hit, but not too badly; some houses were flattened, but many were still repairable, and those who lived in the area were gathering together to repair and raise roofs. A few older children were running about as well, carrying messages and tools.

    There was a little one, though, too small to be of help, crouching in a corner. She caught his eye for a moment, causing him to chuckle despite all the damage surrounding them. She was on all fours, glaring at a brightly colored ball an arm?s length in front of her, giving every appearance of a baby nexu trying to learn how to pounce. As expected, a moment later, the little girl leapt forward with a growl and a bared set of sharp little baby teeth, which she tried to sink into the ball. Unfortunately, while pouncing on it, it shot out of her hands, and slammed into the outer wall of a nearby house. Being a ball, it struck the wall and bounced back, straight towards the girl?s head and well poised to knock her flat. He started, a hand out, but before he could say a warning or affect the course of the ball, it stopped entirely of its own accord.

    The little girl was glaring at the ball again. It floated serenely in the air before her.

    Plo Koon paused, and watched.


    [hr]



    There was celebration in the distance.

    She was not a part of it. Here there was only the quiet of an Alderaanian evening, the sound of flowing water spraying up from a fountain nearby, pattering lightly back down into the pool at the fountain?s base. The spray was cool, as the evening was cool. The flowers on the hedges were blue and purple shades, fully open a few minutes ago, but now beginning to show signs of closing for the night, their star shaped blossoms narrowing and puckering back together. Low lights were beginning to flicker on, dramatic lights that would illuminate the paths winding through the royal gardens for any who decided to take an evening walk. They were not quite needed yet, with the sinking sun still providing enough scarlet light in the sky.

    It was the one time of year she came to the palace. The one time of year she had to meet with him. The rest of the time, the information flow was limited to narrower channels, all reports and intelligence flowing through encrypted, secret channels. Funds and information requests flowed back. But once a year, it was deemed necessary for Ahsoka to emerge from her cover and to quietly meet with Senator Bail Organa.

    Today provided a good cover, with so many coming in and out of the palace. One more guest with an invitation. A young Togruta woman who was very good at floating unobtrusively on the edge of the party. She meant it to be that way; she was, somehow, hard to remember, and anyone who tried to focus on her found their attention slipping away towards something more interesting within a few moments. With the recent death of the Alderaanian queen a few months earlier, the life day of the prince was an opportunity to move the court forward, to move Alderaan forward, to begin emerging from the pall of mourning that had been cast over the palace since Breha?s death. Th>
     
  15. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    Great posts. :) Kids with glue does constitute a battlefield, and right now, my living room shows the aftermath. :p

    I love Rex and Ahsoka's wedding. [face_love] And Ahsoka with Leia, how Leia seemed to sense something. Ahsoka's musings on Padme were beautiful and sad. :_|
     
  16. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    Lovely chapter! I didn't quite understand your reason for including memories of Ahsoka's childhood (were they sparked by the encounter with young Leia?), but ignoring that question, the descriptions of both Ahsoka's childhood as well as her interaction with Leia were simply beautiful. How long ago that must seem, when what she sensed in the Force were but vague feelings like what Leia now senses, and Plo Koon brought her to the Jedi Temple to be trained... I loved Ahsoka's interaction with Leia too, especially the final two paragraphs,

    [blockquote]They sat quietly together, until it was full dark and the fireworks display shot into the black sky, bursting out in colors of gold and silver.

    Senator Organa found them like that, sitting on the bench before the fountain, heads tilted back and eyes gazing heavenward.[/blockquote]
    --the description is so peaceful and reassuring! :)

    Will we be seeing more of Leia in the future, or was this a one-off occurrence (since Ahsoka only meets Bail yearly)?
     
  17. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    anakin_girl - Thank you! Even untrained, I think Leia would be talented enough to pick up on something, especially if Ahsoka was trying to work with her.

    Valiowk - I'm thinking of doing another chapter involving Leia eventually, but it will be sometime in the future, again. In order to keep things somewhat canon compliant, Leia can't really know Ahsoka, but it's fun having the two of them interact. :)



    [i]What Any of it is Worth[/i]

    [hr]


    Chapter 6. At the Red Pond Café


    [hr]


    He placed his hand on the door, pushed it open, and stepped inside.

    The café had seen better days. It was larger than he expected, able to accommodate nearly a hundred people, making it more restaurant than café, but the quaint décor of exposed durasteel beams and faded pictures of smiling workers lining the walls gave it a local, if somewhat shabby, friendliness. The bell attached to the top of the door jangled as it glided shut, adding the chiming sound to the clatter of plates and scrape of silverware against them. Save for those sounds, the place was quiet, though it was dinnertime and should have been bustling with activity. These were not good days for Ghorman. Fives shuffled in the entranceway, staring at the sign that read: [i]?Please Wait to be Seated.?[/i] He hesitated a little, looking out over the tables, pulled his battered cap off his head to expose wild tufts of hat hair. A scarlet skinned Zeltron woman was writing down an order in the far corner. Only a handful of seats were occupied, by big shouldered men and women nursing big plates of food and steaming cups of caf.

    Thick as sludge. That?s how most of the workers liked it.

    A strawberry haired figure whisked out of the kitchen in a swirl of fried food smells, a pot of hot caf in her hand. She made a line straight for one of the tables in the center of the floor, smiling politely, if tiredly, and trying to conjure some pleasant chatter with the customer, as black caf spilled steadily into his cup.

    He wrung his hat in his hands, leaned forward on his toes to look at her. It had been two years since the Ghorman Massacre. There was Imperial occupation across the planet. The people here were not soldiers, and their grumbling and complaints had yet to form true resistance. They were peaceable, and with their attempts at non-violent opposition so violently crushed, beginning with the Massacre and continuing for months afterward, they were out of options and out of hope. The big shoulders of the customers were slumped. They ate their food sullenly, silent.

    It was not a large occupying force, not anymore. The Empire considered the will of the Ghormanese to be broken, tamed. The remaining garrison was as much for show as it was to keep the people cowed and submissive. Because of this, she would probably take one look at him and scream. She knew what he was. She had to. That day when the ship descended, he stood beside his brothers, and there was a look of horror on her face. She would probably scream, for what his brothers were forced to do to her people. It left a sick pit of nerves in his stomach. If she did scream, he?d run, get off planet as fast as possible. He hoped for a better outcome, but was braced for the worst.

    He wanted to see her. He hovered next to the [i]Please Wait to be Seated[/i] sign, fidgeting, trying not to break into a sweat. She was the only girl who?d ever smiled so kindly at him. She?d flirted with him. She?d even held his hand, for awhile. It felt good, made him happy. If she screamed, at least it would finally kill a deep rooted seed of hope. He could try to forget.

    The caf was poured. She looked up, smiled, and said, ?Welcome!?

    Then she [i]saw[/i] him.

    Strawberry hair, a cloud of it, bundled back at the nape of her neck and long enough to toss over her shoulder. Freckles. Green eyes, widening.

    Behri Mokusei fumbled the caf pot.

    Then she swore as hot liquid splashed down her apron onto the floor. She made an undignified yelp as it soaked the apron and stained her clothes, her fingers nearly scalding>
     
  18. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    This is exquisite, iceaffinity. @};- I'm delighted to see Behri and Fives reunited after you mentioned previously that Behri would be appearing again. The romance in this chapter is simply lovely - I love Behri's and Fives' initial nervousness, their innocence when it comes to romance, their efforts to keep in contact and see if something will work out somehow. You've done a wonderful job with all the romances so far: Ahsoka and Rex, Echo and Suisen, Fives and Behri - three different romances, but all characterised by the hope of building a normal family.

    Lovely update, and looking forward to the next chapter! =D=
     
  19. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    Note: There's a scene of strong violence in the second half of this chapter. I've tried not to be gory or graphic, but there are stormtroopers at 'work'. Please be warned.


    [b]Valiowk[/b] - Thank you. [face_rose] I've really enjoyed writing Behri, and am so pleased she's well liked!

    [hr]


    [i]
    What Any of it is Worth[/i]


    Chapter 7. Turn Left


    [i]Rage. [/i]

    The glasses began to tremble, then shake. The tremor rippled throughout the tapcaf, setting the glass rack above the bar to tinkling wildly as the glasses clattered off each other. Mugs and cups set on tables, wineglasses with long stems and fluted tubes containing exotic mixed drinks overturned themselves, cracked, splintered, spurting contents over the men and women sitting beside them. Small shrieks and shouts of surprise came from customers, startled and suddenly liquid-splattered. Bottles, most clear, some green, some brown, some blue, shivered where they sat, then erupted behind the counter, sending glass shards and alcohol to the ground in a sharp edged, sticky sweet smelling waterfall. Someone screamed. The glasses on the rack exploded, sending shards of translucent material flying through the bar.

    Then came the sound of feet, running, sliding on broken glass, of screams and shouts of confusion and horror, all rushing, running, mobbing the exit, seeking escape from the bizarre eruption of sharp glass within.

    Alone amid the mess, a figure stood. It seethed, standing straight and tall, chin up, defiant, ice colored eyes locked onto a holoscreen. Arms at sides, fists clenched hard enough to draw blood from the palms from the pressure of nails. The figure shook, much like the glass shook until it shattered.

    It was a woman, and she wore a dark cloak. As she trembled with fury, the hood began to slip backward, revealing a smooth, pale scalp, dark tattoos patterned across it. She paid it no attention, focused solely on the broadcast transmitting across the holoscreen.

    [i]"We stand on the threshold of a new beginning. In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society, which I assure you will last for ten thousand years. An Empire that will continue to be ruled by this august body and a sovereign ruler chosen for life. An Empire ruled by the majority?.?[/i]

    She knew this voice. The thin, gentlemanly sound twisted into a cruel tenor of hate. She knew the black cloak that obscured his face, always pulled far down, disguising, hiding. A face she had never seen. Now she saw it, white and twisted, yellow eyed, rimmed in red. Corrupt, fetid, maggot-colored flesh reflecting the rotted state of the man. The Master of her old Master. One who would reform the galaxy in his own image, by obliterating everything. Chancellor Palpatine. No. Self-styled [i]Emperor[/i] of the first Galactic Empire.

    She had been [i]deceived[/i].

    Many years ago, she was promised vengeance upon those who let one dear to her die. Dooku gave training, weapons, power. Provided her with a target, a clear purpose beyond simple rage, refined her abilities to their most lethal edge. She had murdered, assassinated, controlled, commanded. Compelled her followers and annihilated her opponents, believing in the truth of her vengeance. Her Master trained her, promised her more vengeance, trained her in the ways of the enemies of her enemies. Told her she could destroy them all, weed them from the galaxy by tearing them up from their roots.

    [i]Lies.[/i]

    She had been deceived. She had been deceived and [i]used[/i].

    [i]?We will defend our ideals by force of arms. We will give no ground to our enemies and will stand together against attacks?.?[/i]

    Her old Master was dead. Her Master?s Master stood now before the whole of the galaxy and revealed himself in his true form, applauding fools surrounding him and welcoming in the darkness, welcoming hatred and cruelty, ignorance and power. Deceived into believing in Sidious?s truth. They would be discarded as she was discarded. The moment she w>
     
  20. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    What a powerful picture you paint in the first half of somebody who has been deceived and is now determined to bring the one who deceived her down! Perhaps what is most scary of all is that although Asajj, like the other characters we know, also opposes Palpatine, the manner in which she has chosen to react nevertheless causes much harm towards others, to the extent that one wonders if things would be better without her involvement. Indeed, this highlights how the manner in which one responds to an event is as significant as the presence of a response itself....

    I enjoyed reading about what prompted Waxer's departure very much, even if the story was somewhat darker there. Each of the flashbacks you show us gives us a little more insight into each individual clone trooper. :)
     
  21. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    Loved the description of Ventress and her anger. It really explains why there can never be more than two Sith, why they are always trying to kill each other. (Side note: Ventress taking down Palpatine would be monumentally cool, but it would also defeat the purpose of having Vaderkin do it.)

    Also loved the insight into what the Empire is doing to the clones, to their comradery. So sad. :(
     
  22. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - One of the things I love about writing Ventress is that she's so...not Jedi. Since she's not really Sith anymore in here, she can be so much more unpredictable, and, in some ways, human. She's not always right or noble or wise in her methods, but she's trying to do what she thinks is best, however wildly.

    anakin_girl - LOL, Ventress going after Palpatine himself would be wicked cool, but she's concentrating a bit more on undermining his Empire than hacking him to bits personally. I think she's realized a few of her limitations at this point (well, one or two, anyway). [face_laugh] I think she knows that if she couldn't take out Dooku, she's not going to have much luck against Palps or Vader. And I'm trying to keep things as canon-compliant as possible.


    [i]
    What Any of it is Worth[/i]


    Chapter 8. Let Us Not Talk Falsely



    The hour was late.

    Their meeting place was not quite empty. Though it was a far more relaxed atmosphere than the last cantina one of these meetings took place in, it was a cantina nonetheless. Music was still pouring loudly from speakers tucked into corners, though it echoed across a mostly empty floor. Colored strobe lights pulsed overhead. A few couples sat in cloistered corners, faces and bodies pressed close, half-forgotten drinks sitting on tables before them, ice melting in the glasses. It smelled of sweat and alcohol and greasy food. A droid busboy was clearing a table, and the clink of plates and glasses chimed neatly against each other as it scooped the dirty dishes into a tray with long, spindly arms, then zoomed off to another table. A bartender was idly cleaning glasses behind the bar. He looked up at Ahsoka?s entrance, nodded once, then went back to his business as the Togruta scanned the room, clearly intent upon business of her own.

    She stepped down the stairs, avoiding the droid as it swept past, making for a dark, unobtrusive corner with a good view of the rest of the room. A hooded figure waited for her there, a pale hand flicking out to pick up a glass of amber liquid. Ice blue eyes gleamed from the shadows within the hood.

    Ahsoka slid silently into the booth. The cantina would close soon, and thus left them little time to conduct their business. ?I have a proposition for you,? she began.

    [hr]

    ?One!?

    Four small fists moved outward, mostly in unison. Four other small bodies stepped neatly to the side, their fists coming back to rest just above their hips. They all paused, then returned to standing up straight. Ctesius sneezed, then rubbed his nose. Neaera, standing across from him, giggled.

    Waxer smiled slightly, then continued to pace down the row, his hands tucked neatly behind his back.

    ?Two!?

    Four small fists again moved outward, gentle strikes not meant to truly come in contact with the bodies of their partners. The remaining four children stepped to the side, this time bringing their arms up in a simple block. Another pause, and they retreated to their starting positions.

    ?Three!?

    The motions were repeated, the straight punch ranging down one side of the row, and the block down the other. The block grew increasingly complex, little by little, with each turn. Now the defenders drew back, brought their hands up into the block, forearms resting on either side of their partner?s elbow. Then, swiftly, their left hands moved forward in a jab, what would be a quick backhand strike were this a real match.

    Roo-Roo yawned, and as he rounded behind her, he gave her a light tweak on her ear flap. She scowled at him a little, patting her ear defensively. Waxer gave her a grin and a tilt of the head. She sighed, looked longingly at the four other older children practicing with wooden swords, then returned her attention to Olwen, who stood across from her.

    ?Four!?

    This time, the four defenders leapt to the side, catching their opponent?s arms between their own. The left forearm was placed on the outside, the right hooked within. Carefully, they applied slight pressure, turning the bodies of the attackers to the side. Should they do s>
     
  23. Valiowk

    Valiowk Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 23, 2000
    Reading these snippets of the clones interacting with the children, I'm suddenly really interested in seeing how the clones would raise their own children one day. I'm confident that with the experience they've gained here, they'll make wonderful parents despite not having the experience of being raised in the same way to rely on.

    Hmmm, Asajj wishes to find Obi-Wan Kenobi? I'm definitely interesting in seeing your take on the interaction between Asajj and Obi-Wan when they finally meet each other (although that may be quite some time in the future).

    Happy New Year in advance! :)
     
  24. DoubleEO

    DoubleEO Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Happy new Year. Several days late. I really LOVE this story. Can't wait to see where it goes.
     
  25. iceaffinity

    iceaffinity Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    Valiowk - It's definitely been interesting trying to figure out how the clones would act around kids. I think the most we've gotten is Waxer and Boil with Numa. Boil was kind of skeptical, but Waxer obviously took to her pretty easily. And yep, Asajj is looking for Obi-Wan...though it probably won't take as long as you think for her to meet him...chapter-wise, anyway. ;)


    DoubleEO
    - Thank you! And Happy New Year!


    [i]
    What Any of it is Worth[/i]


    Chapter 9. A Pressing Need to Save the Galaxy


    They were close.

    The sound of breathing seemed loud in Echo?s ears, even though he wore no helmet. In the old battles, the sound of the rest of his brothers breathing over the comm channels was reassuring; the steady sound of life progressing, continuing. Breathing meant survival. This time, though, none of them wore clone trooper armor. Instead they wore paramilitary gear, smaller pieces of armor protecting vital organs and covering their guts. Each wore a pair of thick goggles and a smaller helmet that buckled under their chins. Small earpieces were tucked into their ears, allowing them to communicate back with the [i]Drake[/i].

    The slightly edgy voice of Behri Mokusei came over the earpiece. ?Docking in thirty seconds.? She took a deep breath, then added, ?Good luck.?

    Beside him, Fives? drew in a ragged breath and shifted his weight, his fingers flexing apprehensively around his blaster. Behri had joined them several months ago now, and was slowly beginning to take part in some of their missions. She was kept out of the line of fire; though she was growing more confident with a blaster and hand to hand, she was still shiny, inexperienced, and unreliable if a firefight broke out. Behri seemed perfectly aware of this, and if anything, it spoke well for her potential. Only an idiot would want to pick up a blaster one day and go charging into battle the next. Battle was dirty, it was hard, and it was violent. She had no delusions of glory. Today, she was helping Ahsoka pilot the Drake and running their communications. Fives was anxious, more for her than for himself. Echo allowed himself a small smile at his brother?s behavior, and spent a moment feeling relieved that his own girl was light years away from danger. She did not know why he was gone, but she would be waiting for him when he returned. It was something to look forward to. He would do his best to survive.

    Behri?s voice sounded again. ?Five. Four. Three. Two?securing lock.?

    There was a hiss as they connected to the doors of the other ship, and Echo?s ears popped as the pressure changed.

    He was not looking forward to this fight.

    [hr]

    The battle that was about to begin would measure the true extent of the damage.

    Along each wall of the medicenter lay men on beds, caught up in the blasts of the previous night. Most of the men were weapons specialists, AT-TE drivers and mechanics, ground crew preparing for the assault about to lay waste to Christophsis. It could have been worse. But it should never have happened at all. A traitor, a clone, a brother, turning against them. Once, a day ago, such a thing would have been considered impossible. Slick?s treason would put more than these men into the medbay, kill more over the course of the day that was now dawning.

    Rex grit his teeth and walked forward, looking at each casualty in turn. On each bed lay a different man. Some lay still, their eyes closed and chests rising and falling steadily under mounds of gauze. The smell of charred flesh, pus and bacta lay thick in the air. Medical droids walked between men, going calmly about the business of healing. They slept, those with faces not wrapped in bandages showing stress, their brows drawn sharply above closed eyes, as though plagued with bad dreams as well as pain.

    In the few hours since Rex checked on Slick, now locked securely in a holding cell, the shock of it had worn off. He still did not understand Slick?s actions or motives. You protect your brothers by watching out for them on the field, by keeping them safe, not by tryi>
     
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