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Saga What Conscience Therein Lies (First Draft Challenge)(Rebels time, Clan Saxon, Clan Wren) No Updates

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Cynda, Feb 11, 2021.

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  1. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Title: What Conscience Therein Lies
    Author: Cynda
    Timeframe: Original Trilogy, Star Wars Rebels Season 3&4
    Characters: Original Characters, Clan Wren, Clan Saxon, Fenn Rau
    Genre: Angst/Drama
    Summary: In the aftermath of the Viceroy to the Galactic Empire, Gar Saxon's, death at the hands of Clan Wren, and brewing civil war amongst the Mandalorians, Sia Saxon grapples with the growing realization that her beloved father was a monster.

    Notes: This is written for the First Draft Challenge. Not all the chapters will have complete text, some will just have a story outline. This story is meant to be told from a single point of view character, an original character in Star Wars, but, with the information I currently have, I intend the events and original characters to fit in a canon-compliant narrative. I mean for this story to come out at novel length. I also want it to be good, so I am looking for all kinds of feedback, please tell me whatever is on your mind.





    Night fell on the Mandalorian capital city. Rising from sleep to quench her thirst, Sia walked softly down the halls leading from her room, when she saw a soft blue glow emanating from her father’s communications room. She slowed her step to remain quiet and heard conversation from that room. She set to ignore it all, they were not her business, but a few words caught her attention and did not let go.

    “She’s with two Jedi,” echoed a woman’s voice from the holo-relay.

    Sia’s father spoke. “You’ve done well, Ursa. Keep them there.”

    “The Jedi are yours,” the woman, Sia now recognized her voice. “But my daughter…”

    “Don’t you worry Countess. Clan Wren will be well taken care of.”

    Sia had not time to recover from her thoughts when her father stood in the doorway, wearing his Imperial Commando armor from neck to toe.

    “Dad…” she began to say apologetically.

    “You should be in bed,” he replied, gently. He walked past her and entered his workshop. Sia followed.

    “Countess Wren said something about Jedi…”

    “I know of whom she speaks. They are thieves with lightsabers, no Jedi.” Gar Saxon snapped up his helmet from his workbench and gave her a confident smile.

    Most of her fear lifted. She followed her father as he walked a few doors down to enter the bedroom of her two younger sisters, fast asleep. He stepped quietly next to their beds and placed a soft kiss on their heads before departing. Sia followed him to the door.

    “Bye, Dad. See you when you get back.”

    Gar Saxon wrapped his arms around her, and she likewise for him.

    “I will be back by morning, Sia.”

    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

    The day’s first light forced turned the back of her eyelids from black to gray. All was quiet, but there was day’s work to be done.

    The first thing Sia did was check her holocalls. There was a message from her tutor, reminding her of their scheduled meeting and the lesson plan for the day, but still no messages from her twin sisters, Zara and Junia. But that was not a surprise. They were still scheduled for their monthly drill at the Imperial Academy.

    Sia dressed and checked in on Marina and Cynda. Both were still in their beds, as she and their father left them last night, but Cynda was already tossing and turning. Sia decided to leave them for now and let NAN wake them.

    The last thing she checked were her father’s rooms, the communications room, his bedroom, and his workshop, all vacant. Sia thought only briefly on this, either her father’s meeting with Clan Wren had taken longer than he previously expected or another matter had arisen since last night and this morning, circumstances that occurred often.

    Sia jogged her usual circuit, once around the Old Peak Park. She had taken her father’s lesson to heart that a bout of exercise in the morning will make an entire day productive and had not missed a morning of physical labor since she was ten. She took it easy though on her run as she thought on her fourteenth birthday, coming up in just over a week. Her father had mentioned going to the Imperial Academy to spend the entire day with the twins. That would be nice, she thought. How long had it been since she, her father, and all her siblings had been together for an entire day? How many months?

    When Sia returned to the apartment NAN, the family droid was in the kitchen, hovering over the stove.

    “I can do that NAN.” Sia reached over and took the eggs from the droid’s forceps. “How are Cynda and Marina coming along?”

    “Oh, they’re awake! They’ll know to be dressed and proper for breakfast.”

    “So, Marina is dressing herself just fine?” Sia whisked all the egg contents together.

    “Yes, she’s ready to entire a marathon, that sweet girl is!”

    “I don’t know NAN…wasn’t it just last week I had to coax her into her sweater?”

    “She was just being especially difficult that day. By the way, toast is ready and I brought out meiloorun jam.”

    “Awww, NAN…” Cynda trotted up to the table, running a little comb through her gold hair. “Meiloorun jam is full of seeds.”

    “No brushing hair at the table!” NAN chided. “And your father brought this jam.”

    Sia set the toast and jam on the table. “The seeds are worth it for that sweet, sweet taste.”

    “Sia! NAN! Look!” Marina ran down the hall and stopped in the entrance to spin on one foot, her brown hair lifting up as she twirled. “I dressed myself. Three days in a row. Look!”

    “Yes! Look at you!” Sia lunged down to wrap her arms tight around her youngest sister.

    Marina pushed back from her to look around the table. “Where’s Papa?”

    Before Sia could say anything Cynda chimed in. “Work silly. Have some toast.”

    Sia moved back to the stove. “Eggs will be ready in a minute.” She flipped them once, then twice. NAN touched her arms.

    “I’ll finish the cooking. Sit with your sisters.”

    Sia obliged and slavered jam onto a piece of toast. A moment later NAN set the frying pan with eggs in the center of the table. Instead of heading back to the kitchen the droid joined their conversation.

    “Sia, have you heard from Junia and Zara?”

    “Not yet NAN,” she replied.

    “Hmmmm,” the droid optical receptors went dim for a moment. “That’s three days in a row. You really should call the Academy Sia."

    “The twins said that the exercise is lasting six days this time.”

    “That long out of communication?”

    “I guess so,” Sia shrugged and stuffed a fork-full of eggs in her mouth.

    At that moment their apartment door’s entry alert went off.

    Dad must be home, she thought and looked forward to having him join them for breakfast. She stood and started for the door, but by the sounds, the door was already open. Rushing, heavy footsteps were coming her way.

    Her older brother, Garin stood there, decked in full Imperial Commando armor, holding his helmet loosely in one hand.

    One glance at his face and a chill ran through her. She went absolutely still and immediately knew something terrible had happened. The only question was how terrible.

    The whole kitchen table went quiet. Even Marina, barely six years old, sat still.

    “Sia…” Garin swallowed, his voice was breaking.

    “Garin…”

    “There…there was an ambush…”

    Please…please….

    “Sia, father is dead. His whole squad is dead.”

    I’m dreaming. I’m hallucinating.

    But the stricken face of her brother was so real.

    Sia screamed in agony as her legs gave out beneath her.

     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  2. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    This is pretty good so far. I like it.
     
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb start, Cynda! I like the family already even the Nan droid [face_laugh] =D= The siblings seem very close-knit and loving.
     
  4. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

    Sia sank further down it the in the middle of a couch, her eyes sore after several minutes of tears, her brother’s arm around her. She barely saw anything before her, only her last memories of her father, from the night before, when he had been alive…

    Fresh tears burst from her eyes. Her brother squeezed her tighter. Down the hallways, Sia heard faint screams and cries coming from her sisters, much younger than her, as no doubt NAN was doing her best to comfort them and failing.

    I will need to comfort them. I will need to say something, Sia thought. But right now, she could barely stand. More tears came and her head began to ache.

    “I promise you Sia, Clan Wren will pay,” her brother spoke softly in her ear. She nodded, barely thinking about what he said.

    He continued. “Have Zara or Junia called?”

    “N-no. They’re on an Imperial exercise-oh!” Sia realized that her twin sisters would not yet know of their father’s death and likely would not know for at least another day. The task of telling them likely fell to her.

    “Garin!” She sobbed and buried her face in her hands. Could I have said something to stop this? Could I have pressed him more on those Jedi? “How could this have happened?”

    “It was an ambush. Ursa Wren invited our father and his squad”-Sia heard anger rising in his voice-“to her stronghold under the promise that she was handing over wanted criminals! Instead, she and her daughter planned an attack and slaughtered them!”

    Her father’s entire squad…Sia realized cousins, family friends, or at the very least, familiar names were also among the dead. Other families were in mourning.

    “Sia,” her brother sighed. “I’m sorry, but I need to go. The Imperial Commandos are in disarray and I’ve got to go with Uncle Darien to sort this out. And Uncle Tiber is in transit to Mandalore.”

    Sia looked up. “He’s coming here?” She dimly remembered that it had been some time since she had last seen her father’s younger brother. As ambassador from Mandalore to the Empire, he spent the vast majority of his time on Coruscant.”

    “Yes. He is going to be the new Viceroy.”

    That was fast, she thought.

    Her brother stood to leave, helped her stand, and gave her a tight hug before departing. She desperately wished he would stay.

    The list of things to do nearly overwhelmed her, but somehow, she managed. First, she contacted her tutor and burst into a fresh flow of tears as she delivered the news. Almost immediately her tutor expressed her condolences and postponed their lessons indefinitely.

    “Review all previous lessons,” she told Sia. “And we will resume when you are ready.”

    Next Sia checked her messages to look for anything from Zara or Junia. Still nothing, although there were text messages from a few others, a cousin, a fellow Commando, etc. Sia set them aside for the moment while resolving to at least briefly thank each and everyone before the end of the day.

    As she approached her sister’s room a pit of dread opened up in her stomach. When their mother had passed away it had been her father and other relatives that gave them comfort. Never, even in her nightmares, had she thought that such a task would fall to her and her alone, at her age.

    I’m not ready for this! She turned away so they would not hear her cry.

    I was never going to be ready, but I still wish, I still wish…

    Her father was dead and all the dreams she had of the years ahead of them, living together, gone with his death. Where that relationship once stood, now a gaping void remained that, she realized, nothing would be able to fill.

    Her eyes became almost too painful to close anymore and her head began to pound. Somehow, she stopped her tears and returned to the door.

    NAN stood next to Cynda’s bed and the eight-year-old girl had her arms tightly wrapped around her, staring down in silence, her face and blanket wet with tears. Marina lay face down on her bed sobbing into a pillow. The very next moment she started screaming and pounding her fists and legs into the bed.

    Sia’s heart broke and she did the only thing she could do. She ran over and wrapped her arms around her baby sister. She still flung her arms around. Sia held her all the tighter, whispering, “I’m here. I’m right here.”

    Marina screamed right in her ear. Sia winced and for a split-second thought Dammit Garin…would did you have to announce it in front of them.

    To give Cynda her silence Sia lifted Marina up and brought her into her own room to continue stroking the girl’s brown curls and comfort her. Slowly, her cries died down. When Sia tried to extricate herself Marina squeezed her arms around her chest, so she stayed where she was and responded to those previous messages of condolence, of which others had added to the list.

    Little else broke up the day. NAN did some cleaning and Sia moved Marina back to her room. Cynda still sat on her bed, silent, and what little prodding Sia did delivered no response.

    “Don’t go!” Marina whined.

    “I’m not leaving. I’m just moving into your room for the night. I am just going into the kitchen for just a few minutes, I promise. I need to help NAN with some cleanup.”

    As Sia stumbled towards the front of their apartment the sun shone low through the windows. Has it been so long? Fresh tears came and her head felt like it was about to split apart.

    “Oh, Sia…don’t concern yourself with this right now!”

    “I should…” Sia mumbled. “Perhaps some chores would be nice, keep me busy…” Dad would want me to keep busy. Instead, she leaned against the counter, hanging her head, and attempting to hold back growing nausea.

    “There’s really…” NAN began, but Sia did not hear the nurse droid as she threw up in the sink. She stood there, hunched over the drain for several minutes, throwing up all her stomach contents and then dry heaving, all the while NAN stroked her back.

    Once she finally felt steady enough to move away, NAN handed her a cloth and a glass of water that she drank greedily.

    “I am so sorry Sia.”
     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellently written, the sense of devastation. :( =D=
     
  6. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Sia heard the faint chime of her message alert. Sinking deeper into bed she felt content to let it ring for a while longer until she felt Marina stir beside her and remembered she had chosen to sleep in her sisters’ room. She bolted out of bed and snapped up her datapad, then, remembering where she was, she tiptoed out the door and down the hallway before answering, not bothering to see who it was.

    “Sia…”

    Her breath hitched at the sound of his voice.

    “Sia? Are you there? It’s Garin.”

    “Ummm, yes. I’m here.” Over the call, he sounds so much like father.

    “Uncle Tiber is here. He’s calling a war council. Every adult needs to be there.”

    “Y-yes,” she replied, fighting to keep her voice steady and tears at bay.

    “I’ll be over in about an hour.”

    “See you,” she sighed and ended the call.

    Leaning against the wall she looked across the living room, bright with what natural light made penetrated the city dome.

    My goodness…we’ve slept through the entire morning!

    Bringing the datapad back to her attention she looked for a message from the twins, but there was still nothing from them. There were some other messages of condolences and one of her father’s longest friends, also a distant cousin of former Prime Minister Almec, had sent her a gentle request for a picture of her father.

    She returned to her sister’s room and began looking through the family hologram imaged. She paused on one that was not quite right to send, but one she treasured nonetheless. It depicted her mother seated criss-cross on the floor, herself a squirming toddler, her mother’s lap, and the both of them sandwiched between the twins, bouncing in their activity seats. In the background, a pair of large feet, her father’s chased around a pair of small feet, her brother’s. Sia remembered her father telling her chaotic those days were, caring for two babies, a toddler, and a young child all at once. They had waited longer to have their fifth child. Sia let through her first wistful smile in over a day.

    She chose a picture of her mother and father, together on the Inner Rim moon of Cynda to send. It was the only vacation her father ever took, but he must have cherished the time because he named a daughter after the crystal encrusted world.

    The young girl she had just been thinking of now sat up in her bed.

    “Cynda,” Sia whispered. I know she is hurting, even if I don’t know how to help. “What would you like me to do? I’m sure NAN has some food if you are hungry.”

    “I’m not hungry.”

    Sia opened her mouth to point out that Cynda not eaten since the previous morning, but realized that she had no appetite either.

    “I-Cynda, Garin is coming over shortly and we are both heading to a meeting. I will be back before too long.”

    “Is there going to be a war?”

    Sia stayed silent for a moment, wondering what best to say.

    There will be fighting. They killed the Empire’s Viceroy. But Sia tried not to frighten her. “I-I’ll find out today.”

    “What will happen to us?”

    “I…” Sia struggled to understand the question, but soon enough knew where her sister was coming from. Not just a parent, but their constant caregiver was gone. Marina and Cynda were so young-who would make their life decisions until they turned 13? Who would guide them down life’s paths?

    Sia realized she had not thought on this matter, because, until now, father had been both the head of their clan and their guardian. By all her brother told her, Tiber was now the head of Clan Saxon, he would have say in the direction of their clan. But, with fighting brewing and his responsibilities, Sia hardly imagined he would take charge of two young girls, not to mention, Zara and Junia. Her brother would help, but was also a full-time Imperial Commando and fighting would take much of this time.

    I suppose that means I’m their caregiver. That was not an unfamiliar responsibility to her; since their mother died, the upbringing of Marina, Cynda, and to a lesser extent Zara and Junia, had been split between herself, father, and NAN.

    They will be looking to my example more than ever. “Don’t worry about that. I will take care of you.” She wrapped her arms around her sister.

    She stayed close until the front door chimed. Marina sat up in her bed.

    “Don’t go!”

    Sia sighed. She had been afraid of this.

    “I’m not leaving just yet. Garin has just come back.” Sia heard him enter, NAN chatter with him, and her brother’s footsteps coming down the hallway.

    Sia looked at him as she had never looked at him before, taking in his dirty-blond hair and gray eyes, and his pitted white Imperial Commando armor.

    He…looks like father, she realized and with pain she knew the resemblance would grow with age.

    “Hi girls.”

    Marina sobbed and Garin stepped over to stroke her head.

    “I-I was just explaining that we need to step out for a little while,” Sia said.

    “Nooooo,” Marina whined.

    “Nothing will happen to us Mari. Everyone is on guard right now. I promise, your sister and I will come home safe and sound.”

    Marina’s sobs subsided. Sia stood, datapad in hand.

    "Let’s go.”



    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&



    “I still can’t believe they would do something so…so brazen,” Garin said aloud on their ride to the Old Royal Palace.

    Sia silently nodded. She was still in shock, not only from the death, but at the perpetrators. Sia knew the Countess’s son, Tristen Wren, was an Imperial Commando and she had seen him a few times in his full armor, but knew little else of Clan Wren, except they had been loyal.

    “If an attack was going to come,” her brother continued. “I would have thought Clan Kryze, Bo Katan…” he trailed off into a fit of anger.

    Sia nodded again. Ever since the Imperial liberation of Mandalore Bo Katan hated Clan Saxon.

    Traffic increased as they approached the Old Royal Place. As they slowed, Sia saw a familiar group exiting their transport. As soon as they reached the landing Garin called out.

    “Cousin Grigor!”

    Her father’s cousin and his children met them partway. Their faces were grim. The bottom of Sia’s stomach fell out as she saw who was missing and understood.

    “Dusan…” Garin started saying.

    “He was at Krownest with your father.”

    Sia’s eyes began to water. She looked at Anju, the young woman's older brother dead, her face stricken with anger and grief. She looked at Grigor, his face purple with rage over his eldest son’s death. She looked at his youngest son, Otto, and she saw the anger and grief behind his stony face.

    “You have our condolence,” Garin said and rest a hand on Grigor’s shoulder and then Anju’s.

    “They will pay for what they’ve done,” Grigor ground out and strode past them into the halls of the palace. Sia saw the tears her father’s cousin worked so hard to keep contained.

    They congregated in the Grand Salon, the vast chamber already mingling with scores of Mandalorians, a sea of red, grey, and white armor, grey and blue eyes, and brown and blond hair. Almost immediately she saw Uncle Tiber, standing beside the throne, empty since before she was even born, and flanked by four Imperial Stormtroopers.

    There was little sign of other clan colors and insignia, and Sia began to wonder.

    Her brother had the same thoughts. “Where is Clan Rook?”

    “This council meeting is strictly by Tiber’s invitation.” Sia recognized the voice and whirled around.

    “Uncle Darien!” The first hint of joy in her life returned. Her mother’s brother strode towards them, his face grave, but with still a hint of his devil-may-care from.

    “Hello, Sia. I very much wish our meeting were under better circumstances.”

    “I saw your message yesterday Uncle.”

    “And I saw your reply…your family…our family…I’m devastated.”

    Sia nodded and wrapped her arms around him for a moment, her tears flowing freely.

    “Uncle,” Garin said. “Where are the other Clans? I understand some not being here, if Bo Katan dare showed her face she wouldn’t be leaving, but by my count there are barely two handfuls outside of Clan Saxon, and the lesser houses, not counting the stormtroopers.”

    “I’m sure Tiber will explain.”






    In the next several paragraphs political stuff happens. Sia notes with some consternation that Tiber is wearing stormtrooper armor instead of Mandalorian armor. Tiber and Darien argue back and forth the wisdom of seeking help from the other clans. Darien argues for the need for allies and unity, Tiber argues that unity is impossible since a clan they previously thought was loyal revolted, so they cannot trust even the other Mandalorians, and argues they can make up the numbers from Imperial forces. Tiber dismisses most the session, but gives one last address to his closest relatives.





    Tiber’s eyes settled on Sia. “No children in this session,” he told Garin. “Not even close family.”

    “Viceroy, Sia is an adult.”

    Sia saw Tiber’s eyebrows fly up in surprise. “Yes, Uncle.” She confirmed. “I turn fourteen in five days.”

    “Already a year a woman?” Tiber still looked surprised and walked closer. “I was just telling your brother how much he looks like your father. But now I must say you also resemble him.”

    “Thank you, Uncle.” Sia felt a bit of pride as he spoke to her.




    In the next few paragraphs, Tiber delegates some tasks to his family.




    He has said nothing about what Clan Wren is doing, Sia realized. Perhaps intelligence was delayed, but surely Clan Wren would make a statement or approach one of the Saxon clan concerning the mortal remains of the Commandos they murdered.

    “Umm..excuse me, Viceroy.”

    “Yes, Sia.”

    “Has Clan Wren delivered you any messages to you or any of the Commandos?”

    “No. Why would you think they would?”

    “Well, I thought they would make contact, at the very least return Clan Saxon’s deceased and beskar.”

    “Not I, nor anyone else has heard a single thing from Clan Wren about returning our dead or their armor.”

    Sia heard gasps ripple across the room. Someone a few bodies down exclaimed “Monsters!” Her own mouth dropped in surprise. For the first time, she felt anger towards Clan Wren. How could they be so heartless and dishonorable? With further thought she understood keeping the Beskar, as much as that hung dishonor on the Wren, it was more valuable than spice. But what cruel value could they have by keeping her father’s mortal remains?

    A sinking feeling settled in her that she had nothing but memories to bid farewell to, not a body to lay to rest in her family's crypts next to his wife, no armor to pass on to her sisters. She pushed back at the crushing grief with a bout of passion.

    “Uncle, has anyone yet called on Clan Wren to return what remains of the dead and Beskar?”

    “No,” he answered. “And, let me say this now, no one will go asking. Not if Clan Wren does not have the courtesy to give us what is rightfully and justly ours.”

    At that moment Sia did not care about appearance or shame. At that moment she knew she would abase herself to any extreme before Clan Wren to get her father’s bones back.

    “I’ll go Uncle, I’ll ask them.” She stood and spoke aloud.

    “You will not.”

    “At least let me try. I won’t know until…”

    “You will not!” Tiber raised his voice. “ I am the head of this clan and I say I forbid it! We will not go begging to the murderers of your father, my brother!”

    And that was that. Sia sat back down, cowed into submission, even as she still disagreed.

    All I want is my father back.
     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    The push and pull between the personal and diplomatic is starting. [face_thinking]
     
  8. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    “Uncle Tiber was right, you know,” her brother said to her on their ride back to the apartment. “I want father’s body back as much as you do, but if you went to Krownest, you wouldn’t be coming back.”

    Sia nodded automatically, keeping her head turned so Garin would not see her tears. She kept imagining what her father’s last moments might have been and what his body might look like now.

    The sky was growing dark by the time Sia and Garin, along with Uncle Darin, arrived.

    “They’re back girls!” NAN called out and both Cynda and Marina came running.

    “Hi Uncle,” Cynda said. She sounded glad to see him, even though there was no smile on her face.

    Marina held back.

    “Mari,” Sia soothed, walking over next to her. “You remember your Uncle Darien? He’s your mother’s brother.”

    Marina stepped close to Sia and looked up at her uncle with wide eyes.

    Sia continued. “He was here for your last birthday, remember.”

    Marina slowly shook her head. Her Uncle kneeled down to face her.

    “Hi Mari. I’ve got a present for you.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a toy Gauntlet starfighter.

    Marina gasped in delight and grabbed it immediately. He chuckled and just as Cynda was beginning to pout he presented her with one too, in a different color scheme.

    As Marina weaved her toy around NAN’s appendages, Darien Saxon watched and his eyes turned wistful. Sia reflected that while he doted on all his sister’s children, he seemed to have a special place for Marina in his heart. Perhaps because she had been only a baby when her mother died, or perhaps because out of all the children she resembled his sister the most.

    “It breaks my heart,” he sighed. “It breaks my heart. That little girl deserves to grow up with two loving, living parents, and she won’t. She has no memories of one and will have hardly any of the other.”

    “She knows who her mother is,” Sia replied.

    Her uncle looked at her and her brother. “How are you two doing?”

    Garin turned stone-faced. “Trying to stay busy. That’s what father would want.”

    Sia sat down. “It’s…it’s hard uncle. It hurts.” She blinked back tears. “And just like with mom, I know the pain will never completely go away. I-I suppose I also wonder…why this hurts more than mom’s passing? You would think…it would get easier.”

    The older man shook his head. “The more you love someone, the more it hurts when they leave. You lived with your father, shared more memories with him, longer than with her. And also, we had time to prepare. But your father…was sudden. And he was taken from us.”

    Garin’s datapad notification went off. “Excuse me,” he said, as he stood and walked into the kitchen.

    “What are you going do?” Uncle Darien asked her.

    “Umm…look after Cynda and Marina. Help them through this as much as I can.”

    He nodded and continued. “Once you’re all settled, decide which volunteer unit you are joining.”

    Sia was blindsided by the request to join the forces, to become…a soldier. “It’s…it’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of drilling or used a blaster.” In fact, fighting was never somethings she practiced much or felt all that comfortable engaging.

    “Well, you can keep busy by going to the firing range with your brother on a regular basis and practicing, until you’re ready to join us. We will melt down and reforge your mother’s armor together.”

    Join them on the battlefield…Sia had a hard time imagining herself in Imperial Commando armor. But once her uncle mentioned her mother’s armor, she said nothing more.

    “WHAT THE HELL!”

    Marina and Cynda froze at the sound of their brother’s roar from the kitchen. Sia and her uncle stood up.

    Garin stormed up to them, his face contorted in rage.

    “THEY MURDER MY FATHER, DESECRATE HIS BODY, AND NOW THEY SPREAD THEIR LIES?”

    Sia froze at the sound of his voice and let her uncle speak. “What happened?”

    Her brother took a few deep breaths. “Clan Wren just started broadcasting a message over all the regular channels. They are spreading the lie that Gar Saxon ambushed them! That he came to wipe them out!”

    Her uncle’s face turned grim and he brought out his own datapad. NAN ushered Marina and Cydna down the hall to their room while Garin continued to rant.

    “Pure projection! They are slandering him, saying he is guilty of treason against the throne, collaboration with enemies, and extrajudicial executions! They are lying that Ursa Wren’s daughter defeated him in single combat! They defame him, they slander him, they say he was killed after attempting to shoot his opponent with her back turned!”

    Tears flowed freely down Garin’s cheeks as he raged on and on. Sia could only listen in shock, tears flowing silently down her own face.

    “Sia,” her uncle said with the utmost seriousness. “I need to go.” He looked at Garin, still fuming. “The both of us need to go.”

    Sia simply nodded as he gave her a parting hug. Garin also gave her a hug and she could feel him barely holding back from crushing her.

    A moment later Sia was alone in the living room. Her own datapad began to chime. She lifted the viewscreen up to look, but sighed. She was in no mood to hear the lies Clan Wren was spreading about her father and his men.

    The alert was from the Imperial Academy. Sia immediately accepted it.

    A hologram appeared out of her datapad and an image showing two preteen girls, from the chest up, appeared. Zara and Junia were in their usual cadet uniforms, but their dirty-blond and brown hair hung down, instead of bound up in military standard braids.

    “Sia,” Zara sobbed. “We just heard…”

    They cried together.




    &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&



    Sia and her brother go to a firing range together. Sia does poorly. Garin encourages her to practice and expects her to join them in the fighting. Sia still feels uncomfortable about fight since she is no good at it and believes that she should instead stay at home and look after her younger sisters.




    Sia looked up at the ceiling, tear flowing down her face. She had never felt so uncertain about her path in life since she received the rejection she had been expecting from the Imperial Academy over two years ago. Only last time, her father had been there with her and quickly soothed her fears. In fact, she had only applied because she thought that was what her father expected.


    “Dad…” She inched into his workshop, dreading the moment she would show him her failure, knowing that she should not keep it from him.

    “Yes, Sia?” He looked up and hung on her every word, unaware of what she was about to say.

    “I…My application got rejected by the Imperial Academy.”

    He blinked. She handed him her datapad, with the reply displayed.

    “I’m sorry, Dad.”

    “Sorry? Sia you did nothing wrong!”

    “Yes, I did! I didn’t work hard enough. I didn’t make it!”

    Yet she knew that even if she worked every waking hour, she wouldn’t get into the prestigious Imperial Academy for prodigies.

    As she sobbed her father wrapped his arms around her. She already felt a little better.

    “Sia…I will talk to some people…”

    “No!” She tore herself away from him. “Dad don’t! If you do this, I will know I only got in there because you pulled some strings. And everyone else will know too!”

    “All right. If you say so, I won’t say a word.”

    He looked her in the eye as though she hung Mandalore’s moon and stars.

    “You are an incredible girl growing into an incredible young woman. You are always so aware of your surroundings and eager to learn. Every day, I see you growing passions that will last you a lifetime. So, I don’t want you beating yourself up because you didn’t get into one school.”

    “I am so proud of you Sia.”


    She sobbed uncontrollably into her pillow. Alone…she had never felt so alone.

    The alert on her datapad was going off. When she read the notification her tears immediately stopped.

    It was an incoming message from the Imperial Security Bureau.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful as there is warm consolings. The impression we as readers are getting of Sia's dad is one of a loving father. [face_thinking]
     
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  10. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Pretty soon I plan to show the other side of the story, that there were times he was not thinking about them when he should have. At least I hope that is what the next chapters I will write show.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  11. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    “Am I speaking to the eldest of this household?”

    “I am Gar Saxon’s eldest daughter.”

    “My name is Agent Kefka, Imperial Security Bureau. I was one of your father’s Imperial liaisons.”

    Sia nodded. On further reflection, she thought the woman sounded familiar, even if she did not appear so.

    “I am contacting you because your father kept extensive records of his engagements and correspondence, many of which concern Imperial actions. I am to understand that they are stored in data cores at your residence. Miss Saxon, do you have access to this data?”

    “Yes, I have the passwords and authentication codes.” Her father had given them to her shortly after her thirteenth birthday, although she had not yet accessed her father’s stored data.

    “Good. I need you to make a copy of all his records. You will also need to make the transfer over a secure network. I will send you the specifications.”

    “Umm…” Sia’s head was spinning over the sudden task unloaded onto her, especially since it seemed Agent Kefka was giving her an order, not just a request.

    “How soon do you need the data?”

    “It is not time-critical, but ISB wants the data sooner rather than later. Are you able to perform this task?”

    Sia thought quickly. She knew her way around high-performance computers and storage well enough, but had never done such a task. But then she thought, that since the task was not so urgent, she could do some research to help her along. Also, she could do it from the apartment, while looking after her sisters, and this task would keep her too occupied in the meantime to become a soldier.

    “Yes, Ma’am. I can do it.”

    “Good. I will keep in touch.” Agent Kafka ended the call.

    Sia stepped into her father’s holosuite and sat down before the screen connected to his computer cluster. Accessing the machine and bringing up the interface was straightforward enough. She quickly saw that her father kept meticulous records, dating all the way back to the Clone Wars. The records were organized by dates, and contained both audio and video recordings, multiple photos, and several written reports. Sia’s breath hitched when she saw her father’s last entry, the date of his death, just over an hour after he had left their apartment. There was a small written record and an audio recording. Her fingers trembled over the touch interface.

    No, she thought. I’m not ready to hear his voice.

    Altogether, the data added up to a whopping 461 Petabytes. Sia sat dumbfounded at that fact, but took comfort that she had time to read up and figure out the best course of action.

    Just after she shut down the computer NAN called out to her.

    “Sia, we need to talk. Bring your datapad.”

    Sia saw NAN gesture at the kitchen table. She sat down.

    “What’s this about NAN?”

    “We need to talk about what we are going to do. War is upon us. We need to prepare this household.”

    “Uncle Tiber is already beginning a pincer move on Krownest,” Sia remarked.

    “I’ve also heard that Clan Kryze is giving their support to Clan Wren,” the droid told her.

    “That’s not surprising.”

    “I remember the Clone Wars, and how there was so much talk of ‘The war will be over next month!’ ‘Negotiations are making progress!’ ‘The war will be over by Life Day!’ Scant few said the war would last several years, but it did. We should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

    Sia just nodded. “What do you have in mind?”

    NAN gestured for her to start making notes on her datapad. “I am going shopping later today. I recommend 15 kilos of flour, 10 kilos of sugar, a few pounds of dried vegetables…and caf! The soldiers love their caf, so you can bet that will be in short supply soon. Some sweet things for Mari and Cyn, be sure to watch yourself and ration it out…”

    Sia made periodic undertone comments as she quickly wrote, half her mind still on her father’s records.

    “You will need to do this yourself Sia: go to the bank and make a withdrawal.”

    Sia perked up. “Are you sure that’s necessary?”

    “If the enemy gains control over our banks the first thing they will do is freeze all our assets.” NAN pulled out a credit stick and handed it to her.

    “All right NAN. I’ll do that first thing tomorrow morning. How much should I put on here?”

    “No less than ten thousand.”

    “Ten thousand!” she exclaimed. “NAN, we could almost buy our own ship with that amount.”

    “If that credit stick is all we have to live on it will be gone before you know it.”

    “All right. All right.” Her nurse droid, built by her maternal grandmother, had never left her astray and for the first time, a flash of fear ran through her that had nothing to do with her father’s death and everything to do with the specter of war.






    Sia marks her fourteenth birthday, but it is a solemn affair and Sia reflects that her every birthday here on out will be marred by its proximity to her father’s death.



    Sia contacts Zara and Junia, her younger twin sisters, 12 years old, who are at Mandalore’s Imperial Academy. Sia’s sisters mention that a few of their peers have left the Academy without permission or warning. They suspect it is because their families have questionable loyalties. Sia also suspects that the families would rather have their children at home with them during a war, rather than far away.



    A few days later Sia attends another council of war. Clan Saxon and the Empire’s movement, meant to rapidly capture Krownest and end the war quickly, was halted, but Clan Wren’s space is partially surrounded. More military strategy is discussed. Tiber Saxon mentions that they have Aldrich Wren, the Countess’s husband under formal house arrest. There is also a new policy to increase monitoring on the student attendees of the Imperial Academy. They are also going to be removing and placing under house arrest the students from the Academy who, by reports collected over the past year, have been overheard saying less than supportive things of the Empire, as well as students from clans and families with questionable loyalties. Sia is horrified at the last part, but waits until after the council ends to approach and speak with Tiber Saxon alone.




    “Sia?” Tiber Saxon spoke when he saw she still remained in the room.

    Sia walked closer. “Uncle…Viceroy…the new approach to the Imperial Academy, it’s…it’s not…I don’t think it is the right thing to do.”

    “Why not?”

    His question blindsided Sia. She honestly could not put together her own quick reasoned argument to her uncle. All she knew was her revulsion at the very thought of what her clan was about to do.

    “We’re punishing children. They’re young! They’re innocent!”

    “Babes are innocent Sia. We are speaking of ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds, Mandalorians old enough by far to know the difference between right and wrong and the consequences of poor choice of words and actions. They have had enough years to form their opinions and stake their loyalties. And if their parents and families loved their children they would lay down their weapons, stand in this hall, and pledge their loyalty to their Viceroy and their Emperor.”

    Sia stared at the ground. Even as her Uncle’s reasoning echoed through her head her mind still most dwelt on how she would feel if Zara and Junia were held captive by her enemies for an undetermined time.

    But she also knew that not a word she said would change her uncle’s mind. So, she only stiffly nodded and walked away.
     
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  12. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Just outside the Old Palace, cousin Grigor and his surviving children were waiting for her.

    “Would you come to Concordia with us this evening?” Anju asked. “We are going to lay my brother to rest.”

    Sia was astonished. “You…you have Dusan’s body?”

    “Yes,” Anju replied. “Clan Wren sent us his remains and armor yesterday.”

    “I…I haven’t heard a word about my father’s…”

    Anju shrugged. “Can you come? It will not be a large gathering since so many are at the front, but we want to give our respects.”

    “Yes. Yes, of course, I will be there. I’ll bring Cynda and Marina.”

    Before leaving for Concordia, Sia read a message from her brother. They were skirmishes with Clan Wren in the Concord Dawn system and troops were digging in the old Protectors Camp.


    Dearest sister,


    The skirmishes died down today and yesterday, but word is there is a planned assault for tomorrow. More Imperial stormtrooper regiments arrived yesterday. These troops are…quite green. So, I’ve been running them through drills three times a day. I look forward to Anju’s return; she has an innate tact for instilling disciple.

    I can now confirm that Fenn Rau is collaborating with Clan Wren, though I have not personally seen him on the battlefield. Though Uncles Darien and Tiber have made the old Protector’s Camp our headquarters, there is not much left since father’s fight with the Protectors.

    Though I know you are doing important work at home, I miss you and look forward to fighting with you together when your task for the ISB is done.


    Love, your brother, Garin



    Sia was not surprised that Fenn Rau was fighting with the Wrens. The loyalty of the Protectors, Mandalore’s clans that had traditionally served as royal guards, had always been on shaky ground. When Rau had aligned with separatist factions against the Empire and the Protectors’ warriors had allowed the rebels passage through their space her father had needed to respond with force. The Protectors warriors had battled the Imperial Commandos and lost. But Rau had escaped with his rebel friends. But with Rau involved in the conflict between Clan Wren and Clan Saxon could he introduce non-Mandalorian factions in the conflict, as Clan Saxon relied on Imperial forces?

    Sia did not have an answer to her worries, so she gathered some cleaning supplies and ushered her sisters into the family shuttle, and set off for Mandalore’s moon, Concordia, where her father had lived most of his life.

    The Saxon clan catacombs lay in an old mine. They were a small group, come together to remember and bury her cousin-once-removed. Her great-uncle Oren Saxon, leaned heavily on his prosthetic leg, as he spoke in a low voice in Archaic Mando’a. Little Marina understood not a word, but she remained respectfully silent and still.

    We should have done this for my father also, Sia thought as Dusan Saxon’s remains and coffin were slipped into a nook adjacent to Sia’s paternal grandmother.

    Sia guided Cynda and Marina to the plaques lining the dank walls.

    “Look,” she pointed to a set of plaques. “These are our father’s parents, our paternal grandparents.”

    She waited for Cynda to read the plaques and Marina to touch the elaborate clan symbols.

    “Here,” Sia drew their attention a few steps down. “Here are our maternal grandparents.”

    “Grandma built NAN,” Cynda said. Sia nodded and reflected that since droids were reflections of their creators, in a certain way, they knew their maternal grandmother through the droid she built.

    “And here-” Sia’s voice hitched as she traced her hand just below. “Here’s mother.”

    She did not say it, but right next to her mother was a separate, bare hollow, carved into the rock face.

    He would have wanted to be laid to rest here. He should be here!

    She burst into tears. Cynda and Marina began to sob as well, so to prevent a total breakdown Sia drew out her cleaning kits.

    “H-Here, here girls. We’re going to clean the grave plaques. I’ll show you how.”




    The following day Sia had a long call with her twin sisters. She was desperate to see how her sisters were coping since her Uncle had declared his new surveillance and arrest policy for the Academy. Only Zara joined the call.

    “Where’s Junia?”

    “Our superiors asked for volunteers to clear out the armory. Someone had to do it.”

    Sia decided to come back to that later. “I’m worried about you.”

    “We’re safe here. And if in the unlikely case a battle does come to Mandalore, we will be immediately evacuated to the barracks on Kalevala; that place is practically a fortress.”

    “I’m glad to hear that, but I’m more worried about how you are doing emotionally. You must have heard about the new…policy. What…”

    Zara raised her hand and Sia fell silent. Zara’s face turned hard, then pensive, and Sia saw her work with something offscreen. Then Sia heard a steady background noise enter the holocall.

    Zara’s entire profile reemerged. “Can you hear me?”

    “Yes, I can still make out your voice.”

    “Good. That’s a resonator Junia built.” Zara smiled. “Nifty huh? I don’t want to use it again though, our superiors have become a lot more strick.”

    Sia’s face fell. “They’re listening to everyone?”

    “Yup. Well, they were always listening in, Sia.” Sia must have looked aghast because Zara quickly responded. “Junia and I are not in trouble at all. We’ve still got all our marks and no demerits. It’s not like we’ve said anything worth hiding.”

    Until you do say something that is worth hiding. It took Sia a second to recover. “So, why the noisemaker now?”

    “Well, it was Junia’s idea…just in case.” Zara looked incredibly uncomfortable. “I was against it, but since you want to talk now I decided to use it for this occasion rather than waiting for our next in-person visit.”

    “So…what’s been happening?”

    Zara sighed. “A lot of our peers have left.” Sia could tell Zara looked disturbed, as Sia feared. These were same-age peers her sisters had known for over a year; at least some of them must have become friends.

    “Zara…” Sia started to say and then stopped. She just didn’t feel comfortable arguing with her younger sister, especially since she did not know just how good was Junia’s noisemaker.

    Zara resumed speaking. “Junia is taking harder than I am. She reserved, more reserved than usual.”

    “Is she okay?”

    “She’s tough. She’ll make it through. It’s just…”

    “What?”

    “Well, there was this boy...”

    Sia remained silent and let Junia talk without interruption.

    “About a month ago, he started joining her whenever we had team-ups or joint projects. You know Junia; I realized he liked her before she even had a clue. Well, I spoke to her and she finally got it through her head what was going on. I think…I think she liked him too. Or was starting to. He’s not a cadet anymore.”

    “He was taken?” Sia exclaimed.

    “No, no. He left by himself a couple of days ago. Without a warning.”

    His family must have caught wind and pulled him out, Sia thought and realized with relief how much worse this could have been.

    “She’s a bit shaken, but I’m helping her through it and she’ll be all right.”

    Sia was still thinking about how the start of a friendship was cut off when her sister addressed her.

    “When are you joining a regiment?”

    “What? Oh Zara, one soldier is not going to make a difference in this war. Besides, Cynda and Marina need me with them. Maybe later.”

    Zara’s face turned stern as if she were the elder sister and Sia the younger. “You should really join Garin at the frontlines, Sia. Junia and I would go, but we know Dad would want us to stay in the Academy while we are still underage.”

    Still of kilter from this turn in their conversation, Sia could only dumbly nod.

    “I’d better end this. Talk to you later, sis.”

    “I’ll call tomorrow,” Sia hastily added. “And let’s meet in person as soon as we can!”

    “Sure,” Zara added and ended their call. Sia sat in stunned silence for several minutes.

    Usually, I feel so happy after a holocall with them. Why do I feel so horrible?
     
  13. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Concord Dawn was a world shattered by past Mandalorian Civil Wars. Sia flew her shuttle past the extensive debris field to the world’s mostly intact third moon and arrived at the battlefield of another civil war.

    She was not yet a soldier and her target practice showed little improvement. But she still came, at least for half a day, which was she judged her younger sisters could bear and also give them a taste of future, longer separation. Mostly, she was there to visit her brother and give him a care package in person.

    She landed the shuttle well to the rear of the front and walked the rest of the way. She heard and smelled them before she caught her first view. Smoke, not from battle, but from several cooking fires stung her eyes. She saw the trenches and gaggles of stormtroopers milling around in groups, some napping, other chatting, few at attention, and even fewer with rifles in their hands.

    Hurry up and wait, she thought, remembering something her mother said when Sia had asked her for a story about the Clone Wars.

    “UP AND AT IT! AT ATTENTION AND TO THE LINE!”

    “MOVE! MOVE NOW, SOLDIERS!”

    She saw Anju, followed by her brother, shouting at the soldiers and waving them towards the trenches.

    Are they preparing to attack? thought Sia. She had taken care not to come on a day planned for engagement, but plans could change.

    “Sia?” Her brother caught sight of her. Sia meekly raised her hand to wave.

    Then he was charging at her and the next moment she was wrapped in his arms, with him swinging her in a circle.

    “It’s so good to see you!”

    “You too,” she said. She was glad to see him smile. “Here.”

    “What’s this? Leema bread! You’re the best.” He took a bite of the sweet bread she and NAN had baked and passed a slice to Anju as she joined him.

    “Good to see you, Sia,” Anju greeted. “Where is you armor?”

    “Oh, I’m just here to visit for the day, unless…are you expecting an engagement?”

    “We caught some enemy chatter coming from several ridges over and there’s a dogfight going on right now in near orbit,” Garin said between bites. “But nothing all that different from the past few days, just pickets probing each other’s weak points.”

    “Tiber told us ISB has you doing some computer work,” Anju said. “How is that going and when can we expect you to join us for good?

    “Well, there are some references I’ve read through and just yesterday I finally have all the parts to build the secure to specification. Before I transfer the data though I need to check its condition, and ISB wants me to organize them not just by date, but also by system. I’ll start reviewing files, starting with a few files scattered across different dates.” Sia decided to ignore the second half of Anju’s question. Instead of asking again Anju squinted off in the distance.

    “I see movement ahead, maybe our scouts returning. I’m going to meet them.” She placed a hand with tender feeling on Garin’s shoulder. “I’ll see you over there.”

    Garin smiled after her and Sia remembered how he spoke of Anju in all his correspondence with her and her suspicions which she decided to voice.

    “So….you and Anju. Is it serious?”

    Garin gave her a grin that was almost shy. “I think so. Yes. Yes, it is. And Cousin Grigor gave me his permission to court her.” Sia gave a delighted gasp. “But we’re waiting until after the war before we make any commitments.”

    Sia smiled at the thought of adding new little ones to their family.

    Several faint, far-off crashes broke her pleasant reverie. Both she and Garin fell silent to listen. Then the sounds grew louder.

    “Dammit!” Garin shouted. “That’s artillery!” Before Sia could react, he grabbed her arm and pulled her along as he ran forward. “You need to get into the trenches right now!”

    Everything she did from that moment onwards was on pure instinct. Garin’s vice-like grip on her arm remained until she tumbled after him into a trench three meters deep. Then he immediately left her to run down the line out of her sight. Shrieks passed overhead and she turned in on herself like a ball in the dirt. Thunder rang all around.

    Then she was surrounded by white armor and shouts. She could not make out a single word, how could the Commandos? Still the thunder came, but the Commandos still moved in one wave past Sia and over the top. How they did it she had no idea, not when no force in this galaxy could have extracted her from that trench. She drew into a tighter ball, seeing nothing but the darkness between her legs and shrieks and thunder about her. Sounds finally faded, but she remained frozen until…

    “Sia?”

    She slowly lifted her head and saw Otto Saxon, Anju’s younger brother, who was Sia’s own age, looking down at her. He looked worn and his white armor was covered with mud. Right now, he was the most relieving sight Sia had seen.

    “You’re safe now. There’s no longer fighting here.” He helped her to her feet.

    Together they walked through the trench. Soon enough they came across a stretch littered with motionless Imperial stormtroopers.

    Did the Wrens know what they were unleashing? Sia felt anger towards them. If they cared about the horrors of war they would not have started this one!

    Otto walked almost casually forward. Sia tried to walk where she could avoid drawing close to bodies, but it was impossible. She heard slow, loud breathing and for a split second she looked down at where it came. A stormtrooper lay on his back, his helmet crushed, part of the top of his head gone. She could see his brains. And still he breathed. Sia squeezed her eyes shut and hurried forward. She had caught only a glimpse of that stormtrooper’s shattered head and helmet before turning away, but that image was seared in her memory.

    She nearly collapsed to the ground when she climbed up to the rim of the trench. Otto pointed her to the rear, then turned to leave. He ignited his rocket and set out toward the sound of distant impacts as though he were a runner headed to the start line of a marathon. Sia dwelt on how different she was from her cousin.

    It would take me a year to get used to this, she thought. Sia was living through her first war and had experienced her first battle, but the thought of taking part in the fight felt more distant than ever. But it was what everyone was telling her she must do.
     
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  14. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Sia drops off Cynda to spend a week at her Great-Uncle Oren and Great Aunt Rena’s thresher ranch. She does this for two reasons, first: get her sister out of the house and doing different things, like learning to ride, and second: Get her sister used to longer separations from her, since Sia anticipates she will eventually go to the frontlines, even though Sia would rather not go because she does not feel ready to fight.

    Sia sits down with her father’s records and prepares to pull up and read his reports on his last dealing with the Protectors.



    The files were organized by dates, going back to just after the Clone Wars, and Sia was overwhelmed by the number. Agent Kefka had asked for a complete log, so she decided to look at how the missions were distributed by system. She was surprised by how many missions took place outside Mandalorian space and how many times her father and the Imperial Commandos went to worlds she had never heard of before. The Imperial Commandos were Mandalorians, so they were among the best warriors in the whole galaxy. Still, she had not expected to see this many times that her father sent orders out of system.

    To check the data quality she selected a few dates, scattered widely in time. One of these was her father’s final confrontation with the Protectors a year ago. She reasoned that since she had a passing familiarity with the events, even though she had not witnessed any events in person, she would be able to check the data quality.

    In the directory there were dozens of files, most written, some were audio files. A few of the audio files had the word ‘interrogate’ in the heading. That struck Sia as odd. The Protectors had declared no-quarter and fought to the death to the last man.

    Sia ran through the timestamps of each file and selected the first file in the series, an audio+video file with no descriptive words in the title.

    It was a recording from a Mandalorian bomber, with escort fighters. She was not sure what she saw at first, but the longer she looked the more she realized that she was watching an aerial bombardment.

    That confused her further, so much so that she spent several minutes, pulling up her father’s official report, not in his personal data storage, but submitted to each head of clan. The series of events went as such: Gar Saxon had discovered (the report did not say how) that the Fenn Rau and Protectors had permitted rebel factions free movement through the space of the Concord Dawn system. When he and his Commandos went to their base to investigate the claims fighting broke out. The Protectors declared no-quarter and fought to the death. Her father and his reinforcement killed all they were engaged with, though Fenn Rau was not among the dead. For the next few days Gar Saxon remained on patrol, watching for Rau to appear, which he did, along with members of the rebel faction he was allied with.

    Details in the report were scant, but the series of events were clear. Perhaps the timestamps had been corrupted or mislabeled?

    It needed investigating. She pulled up one of the larger text files, hoping that it might contain a summary of events that might reconcile her father’s report and the file in his data.

    The text file was a conversation, actually a series of conversations transcribed it looked, from audio. As she quickly scanned over words, her father’s name was the most frequent interrogator, and he was asking about Fenn Rau and rebels. She doubted for so long, but as she read more and more closely she realized that the subjects under his interrogation were Protectors.

    How could that be if they all fought to the death? Perhaps not all Fenn Rau’s men had taken that oath, but there had been no survivors. This had to be a file from an earlier date, a time when her father had convened with the Protectors, but not on the day of their conflict.

    She read more closely to parse out the details that would tell her when these interrogations happened, starting with exchange between her father and the Protector Baz Algen.

    Even in writing, panic was evident in the man’s words.

    At the end Sia read: INTERROGATION TERMINATED.

    What did that mean? Where was Algen now? Sia looked through her personal datapad for several minutes and found no record of a Baz Algen in detention or a trial.

    Maybe…Sia thought, searching in desperation to banish the troubling thoughts now brewing in her head. Maybe Algen called my father out in a duel and lost. That was the only solution.

    There was only one way she could find out and that was in the other files. As the choice became apparent Sia felt an urge not to open anything else. Sia realized she was afraid of what she might find, what she would rather not know. She knew her father had a hard job, she knew he fought against enemies and when he had killed people. But how he killed…she knew he was not vicious.


    But as she thought more, she remembered that while her father often told her what missions he went on and she sometimes read the official reports, those contained no details on how those people died. She knew or rather assumed that Gar Saxon couldn’t be vicious, because, well, he was her father and he had never been cruel to her, sometimes firm, but never cruel.

    Her fingers hovered over the touchpad. The longer she waited the more she realized that if she did not investigate she would always wonder and worry.


    “Where is Rau?”

    “W-we told you. Captive with those rebels. We don’t know where.” The man’s stammering was interrupted, by the sound of an impact, followed by his own scream.

    “Don’t lie to me. You could have captured one of those rebels yourselves and found the answer. Either you have and you’re keeping the answer to yourself, or you have not fought against these rebels as you should.”

    “Ahhh! We do that, they would have killed him! That’s why we told you.”

    “By my mark, Rau has been captive almost a year.”

    “We were looking for him. As they kidnapped him, Rau ordered us to stand down.”

    “Then, you should have let him die."

    “Saxon, I’m not Rau, but I do have some rank in the Protectors. Let me call off my people, the few still living. Not all the soldiers agreed with our position and some of the lowest ranking did not even know Rau was captive.”

    “Then they showed their true loyalties. They should have killed you.”

    A single deafening blaster fire went off. Something heavy hit the ground at once.


    Sia gasped and shut off the recording. She had heard someone die, not out of a holodrama, but real life. And her father had pulled the trigger. As her heart pounded for several minutes her mind began to race. It was just once. It revolted her, but she also thought her father lost his temper just this once.

    But there were the other ‘interrogation’ files. The official report had said no survivors and that had been true. Interrogation meant interrogation. Death meant death.

    She leaped up from her seat and her breath quickened. Without another thought she started frantically pacing the halls, her mind running away from her as she went through everything she had just seen. She found no explanation to soothe her horror. At least some of the men and women that her father and his Commandos had killed were defenseless and prisoners at the moment of their executions. What was more, by the words she gathered, the Commandos seemed disorganized and confused…as though caught off guard by something like a sudden attack.

    But perhaps her imagination was running away from her. This was bad, but just how bad was it? If the Protectors had done something heinous, well then, she might still feel incredibly uncomfortable for a few days, but could at least sleep at night.

    After several more minutes, Sia returned to the room. She pulled up a likely text file.

    It stated the conflict started with a surprise attack-by the Imperial Commandos.

    It stated that the Protectors had informed Gar Saxon three days before the attack that Fenn Rau was a captive, captive! not a willing participant in rebel activity.

    It stated the Protectors opened their space under duress and that they had been searching for Rau without success.

    These were her father’s own files in his own words. Everything in them was consistent. The only thing that was inconsistent was her father’ brief official report, delivered to the other Mandalorian clans and written to gloss over what really happened. Sia kept running through different scenarios to explain what she just saw, but her imaginings were outlandish and contrived, versus what lay before her eyes, which was simple and coherent.

    Sia spent a sleepless night on a pillow wet with tears trying in vain to understand.





    A few days later Sia returns to her father’s data storage. She doesn’t want to because it hurts too much, but she still does not feel ready to join the battles so she needs the excuse that she is working on this project for Agent Kefka. Sia tries to keep her review of the data more cursory, but she is more aware of how many offworld missions her father did for the Empire. She sees that many of the missions were under direct orders Agent Gideon’s name is included among some of the names Sia scans. She finds death counts.





    “Sia? Sia?"

    She slowly raised her head as she became aware of NAN’s raised voice.

    “Please eat. You haven’t eaten all day.”

    “I’m just not hungry NAN.”

    “What is it?”

    She sighed. The urge to talk to someone, Uncle Darien, Anju, Great-Uncle Oren, someone, about the turmoil she was going through was growing. But not with a programmed droid.

    Why Dad? The Protectors were working with rebels, however tangentially, but to annihilate them all…

    “I just wish…” Who she really wanted to talk to was him. To ask him, to make him make his daughter who loved him understand. But he was dead. He was gone.

    She let out a scream and a wail and tears came streaming out. She slipped from her chair and curled up on the floor.

    NAN wrapped her arms around her. NAN, not her father.

    “I hurt NAN. I hurt!” She sobbed. There was a space in her heart where her father once existed, that was now empty and filling with more pain. “And it’s not going away. It will never go away!”

    NAN made soothing sounds. Sia’s tears ran unabated.

    “No matter where he is right now, he will always be your father.”

    Sia felt comfort from just that fact of life. But a moment later that warm thought turned sour. Is that how others look at me, my father’s daughter?

    Her tears abated, but not due to comfort, rather from a chilling fear. The streets of Sundari had grown more desolate and when she went out people gave her a wide berth. Because everyone is quick to get in and out? Or because they know who I am?

    I wish I were dead. I mean, really, where is the meaning in my life to go on?

    She heard a slight noise and looked up. Marina was standing in the entrance of the hallway, her brown curls limp, her face streaked with running tears. Sia’s entire world shrank down to that little girl, that relationship, and a wave of guilt hit her. She had been consumed with internal emotions and only had the dimmest memories of going through the motions with her youngest sister these past few days.

    It’s not just Dad, Sia realized. She’s sad for me. I can’t call down more sorrow in her life.

    She quickly dried her eyes and wrapped Marina in a hug, until her sister’s crying ceased.
     
  15. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    A holocall from her datapad work Sia as she slept through the morning with Marina. It was her Great-Uncle Oren.

    “Uncle?”

    “Sia.” Her uncle spoke with a seriousness that drove that last of her sleep away. “When I went out to the stables early this morning, I caught Cynda there. She was hitting the animals, the ones in their stalls, repeatedly with a stick.”

    Sia leaped out of bed while still on the call. “I am coming to get her. I will bring her home. I will be there as soon as I can uncle.”

    “All right. Thank you. See you then.”

    Sia did not pause in her movements except to give Marina a parting kiss. As her sister began to pout Sia assured her that her reason for leaving was to bring Cynda home and that assuaged Marina.

    In the time between her frantic exit from their apartment to her arrival at the spaceport she did not notice the shadow that hung over all of Sundari, nor the empty streets. It was not until she was airborne did she see the mass of the Imperial Star Destroyer that hovered right over the zenith of the city dome. A harsh voice came over her shuttle intercom and only when she gave her family passcode could she be confident to pass unmolested.

    Once that frightening episode was over Sia was consumed with thoughts on why Cynda would beat animals for fun and how she could impress on her sister the wrongness of what she had done. I should have seen this coming, Sia thought. Cynda has been acting out more and more.

    Great-Uncle Oren and Great-Aunt Rena met her as soon as she landed the shuttle.

    “I am so sorry,” she said and she almost bowed from her waist when she stood before her great-aunt before the older woman gave her an assuaging smile and Cynda embraced her. She refrained from embracing her uncle so as not to aggravate his old wounds from the Clone Wars. He looked stern and disappointed, though the feeling was not directed at her.

    “You came right away,” her aunt responded. “And that is what matters.” They both guided Sia to their home and she slowed her pace to match theirs.

    Once inside Sia continued. “What else can I do to make this right?”

    “Nothing now, dear,” her aunt said.

    “Where is Cynda now?”

    “Upstairs, in her room,” her uncle said as he slowly eased himself into a well-worn chair. “She’s been silent since I caught her in the act, but I am positive she is still there.”

    Still guilt-ridden, Sia apologized again. “I am sorry.” Sia was the elder sister, and therefore responsible for her.

    “I trust you will know what to do,” her uncle continued. “Besides, you don’t have to worry about what will happen on your next visit.”

    “Why?”

    “We're selling the threshers.”

    “What?” Sia exclaimed. One of her most vivid childhood memories was her mother lifting her onto a thresher’s back. “Why?”

    “Well,” her aunt continued. “It has been a lot of money to upkeep and not much profit to show for. Plus, with the labor involved, it is getting harder in our old age. And none of the children or grandchildren have expressed much interest in taking over.”

    Sia had suspected, but this still felt like a blow. But her aunt and uncle seemed determined and they gave good reasons. “What will you do after you sell?”

    Her uncle cleared his throat. “We are going to the front.”

    “What?” Now Sia was completely surprised. She could not imagine her great-aunt with her hunched back and her great-uncle with his prosthetic leg and other cybernetics joining the army. “What could you possibly do?”

    Her uncle chuckled. “We can still fire a blaster and deliver battle tactics.”

    “When are you joining the Commandos, Sia?” Her great-aunt looked her over, as though Sia hid something under her clothes. “Have you reforged your mother’s armor?”

    “I…” The question was becoming tiresome and Sia was also beginning to feel alarmed by the increasing frequency of the requests from her relatives. “I-I still have my task to perform for the ISB. And I want to see what is wrong with Cynda. Besides, I am not really Commando material.”

    “You should go anyway,” her uncle added. “This is the great moment of your generation, something the entire clan should all be united around.”

    She said nothing in reply. The mention of her task for the ISB had brought all the disturbing things she had seen her father and his men do back to the forethought of her mind. As the moment of silence dragged on her relatives’ expressions grew more and more concerned until the voiced their concern.

    She had been meaning to ask the family about all the disturbing things she had seen, and at that moment she told her great-aunt and great-uncle about all the new information she had recently reviewed about the Imperial Commando’s massacre of the Protectors.

    As she finished Sia was shocked to see that neither her aunt nor uncle showed any expression that betrayed great perturbation as all similar to how Sia felt currently and was obviously showing across her face. Did they already know? she wondered, stunned.

    “It can be shocking to see so much death all at once,” her aunt said.

    “But why were they killed Aunt Rena? Even the ones under interrogation?”

    Her uncle cleared his throat. “They were in league with rebels.”

    “But it was under duress!”

    “But they were giving aid to rebels…” Her uncle responded.

    “Yes…” Sia admitted, halfheartedly. That appeared enough to her aunt and uncle. But Sia only felt more disturbed and could not help speaking once more.

    “And they were all killed, even the one they held captive.”

    “It was either that or life in captivity,” her aunt said gently. “I know which one I would prefer.”

    Sia could only think that if the Wrens had the choice to hold her father captive rather than kill him she knew which one she preferred, by far. And then the thought occurred to her for the first time that maybe, maybe after all she had seen so far, there was more truth in Clan Wren’s version of events surrounding her father’s death than Clan Saxon’s. The thought was so horrible she suppressed it and focused on what brought her here.

    “I should go get Cynda.”

    “Yes.” Her aunt stood to lead her the way and her uncle called out from his seated position. “We will let you know when we arrive at the battlefront and see you there.”

    All remaining words left her when they stopped before a closed door. Sia slowly opened it and saw Cynda seated on the single bed, picking at a piece of the duvet.

    “Cyn…” Sia softly called out. Her sister slowly raised her head. The only expression Sia saw was a general sullenness.

    “I’ve already packed her things,” her aunt said from behind Sia. “They are waiting downstairs.”

    Sia nodded. “We’re going home now Cyn.” Slowly Cynda rose and walked over with plodding steps. Sia followed behind her and without disturbance or even a word from her sister they left, Sia pausing only to bid a brief farewell to her aunt.

    As they approached the shuttle Sia walked right past the boarding ramp to walk through fields of grass and past sparse trees, some of the few on Mandalore, even in the domed environments. Sia was wracking her brains, trying to determine the best way to address her lost sister and point her back to the right path

    Why did you do this Cynda? Sia thought of asking but decided this was not the right approach. As if her sister did not already know and Sia did not already know.

    She imagined expressing her anger and frustration in one volcanic moment. But that could just as easily drive Cynda deeper into loathing as to scare her straight.

    She looked over at her sister and saw the orphan girl staring across the vivid green fields at seemingly nothing at all. She looks so lifeless, Sia thought and the tears she had been hiding from Cynda broke through the fragile dam Sia had built.

    At that moment she realized that even if she wanted to join her brother and family at the warfront, she could not, not without losing the youngest members of her family. At that moment she made a promise.

    Sia abruptly stopped walking and fell on her knees next to her sister.

    “I love you Cynda. And I promise I will never leave you. I promise.” Tears streamed freely down her face.

    Her sister’s brief expression of shock broke into sadness and guilt. Sia wrapped her arms around her, willing her sister to feel her promise as much as hear it.

    “I’m sorry, Sia.” She heard her sister’s words, uttered between wracking sobs and muffled against her shoulder. “I’m so…sorry!”

    For the first time since her father’s death, Sia was certain of her way forward. At least in the days to come.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  16. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    EDIT: Never mind
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
  17. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Almost a week later Sia presented her sisters with multiple small packages that NAN had purchased, containing small bean seeds.

    “We are going to do a little project together,” she announced and showed them the seeds to Marina’s delight, for this was her first time planting anything.

    “But it’s not growing season,” Cynda wondered.

    “We have some heat lamps,” Sia replied and set soil and paper cups on the table. Her sisters were soon getting their fingers well and dirty. Sia showed them how deep to cover the white seeds with the loose soil and urged patience when Marina began to pout after hearing that it would take almost two weeks for the seeds to sprout. Sia showed them both a seed she had soaked in water, already sending out its first root, and after then got a good look proceeded to cover it too in damp soil.

    Just after they placed the laden cups beneath the heat lamps NAN announced they had a visitor, their Uncle Darien. He strode with heavy steps into the room, still wearing his Imperial Commando armor from head to toe. Two nasty blaster marks marred his armor and Sia was relieved to see that they were glancing blows. She knew that the Imperial Commandos had mixed lesser metals with Mandalorian beskar so as to spread the precious beskar among more persons. But this had the known and unfortunate effect of reducing the beskar’s famous resistant properties, and direct shots had the good probability to pierce the armor.

    When her uncle removed his helmet he looked more weary than she had ever seen him.

    “Look Uncle!” Marina skipped up to him, oblivious to his tired state. “We’re planting seeds.”

    “That’s wonderful.” Her uncle smiled, but the expression only partially chased his weariness away.

    “It’s good to see you,” Sia said and she meant it even as she wondered why her uncle had come unannounced.

    He gestured that he wanted to speak to her away from her sisters. “I have not seen you at the war meetings.”

    Sia felt trepidation run through her even as she expected it. Soon enough, someone from her clan would wonder why she had not joined the troops. She was glad it was not her brother and relieved it was not Uncle Tiber who mentioned it first.

    She shrugged in reply. “I was not adding anything by my presence. And I am busy with Agent Kafka’s assignment and looking after the girls.”

    “Surely you are almost ready to transfer your father’s data to ISB?”

    In truth, Sia was. She has already installed and tested the secure network software and written a code to manipulate bits in the code to transfer the large amounts of data. But she had ceased her review of the contents until she was ready to set a single day to finish her last look through those terrible contents. She had been purposefully dragging out this task, though a message yesterday from Agent Kafka meant that needed to end soon.

    “I’m almost ready, but Uncle Tiber request a copy and I am still waiting for the storage memory.” But Sia decided to tell her uncle the whole truth; she would have to eventually.

    “I’m not going to the war front, Uncle. I am not going to join the troops or the commandos.”

    Her uncle looked stunned and remained silent, so she continued.

    “The girls need me here, to look after them.”

    Her uncle finally recovered. “NAN can look after them well enough. That’s what my mother built her for! And if they do need more help you can always get more droids.”

    Sia shook her head. “NAN can look after them, but they still need me. They’ve lost both their parents, I’m the only family they’ve known day in and day out since childhood. If I leave them now, they will feel more lost than ever.”

    He uncle placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, but it also felt heavy with all his armor. “Marina and Cynda may suffer your absence, but they will recover when the war is over. Look at Junia and Zara. They’ve lived apart from you at the Imperial Academy for over a year and they are thriving. And if the worst happens, they will be well cared for by aunts and uncles. Children are resistant, Clan Saxon children especially so.”

    Not always, Sia thought as she remembered days past, but she did not want to argue with her uncle, especially not an argument that she saw she had not hope of convincing him. There was one other thing to tell him though.

    “Also, I can’t go because I am not ready to fight.”

    “Haven’t you been going to the firing range?”

    “Yes, but it has not helped. I don’t have the ferocity of Garin, or your leadership skill, or Otto’s athletic drive. I just don’t. All my life I have been my sisters’ guardian, especially after mother’s passing, so I can’t have a calm disregard for my own life that is needed in battle. If I die, my sisters will be without me! I am too domesticated, uncle. So, I might as well stay here and look after the girl’s wellbeing.”

    “Sia,” her uncle spoke with an even deeper gravity. “I understand that you believe this is how you can best serve your clan. But this war will determine the future of our clan, so much so that all else pales in comparison. Please…consider this when you decide how best to care for your sisters.”

    Even though she expected him to still disagree with her Sia was shocked by how emphatic he spoke. A tremor of fear ran through her at a thought.

    “Uncle…are we losing this war?”

    He stammered for a second. “It…it is going longer than expected. But that is because of our initial assaults on Krownest; that space was too large for a blockade to work over the long term, so we are pulling back to a better position that will not stretch our lines. But we still have greater numbers and new weapons are in production.”

    Sia noticed that his response was not an emphatic rebuke to her question.

    Sia also speaks to her uncle about what she saw in her father’s records. She mentions the Protectors and is still alarmed that her father and uncle annihilated them. Her uncle Darien attempts to assuage her by emphasizing the Protectors ever so slight disloyalty, and the need of Mandalore to be part of the galaxy at large instead of isolated. He speaks of how it was the Empire who rid them of Maul, no matter what Bo-Katan might say. Sia is not quite assuaged, but does not argue with her uncle.

    That night Sia read to Marina and Cynda from a book of short stories, Tales from Wild Space, as had been her habit the past several nights.




    The Valian king’s advisors received the Arcadian general’s receipt of payment.

    The lead advisor’s face turned aghast. “This amount of payment is unjust!”

    The general replied, “The interest on the payment is law.”

    “Arcadian law,” the advisor said in disgust.

    “Is there any other kind of law?” The general asked.

    “My apologies,” the advisor replied.

    Just then, the new boy king stood from this throne, grabbed the paper receipt from the advisor’s hand, and threw it down at the general’s feet.

    “There!” The boy king shouted. “There is your payment!”

    The general calmly replied, “The new king forgets he is a vassal of Arcadia.”

    “Vassal? I am no vassal!” The boy king shouted. “I am king! I am-”




    “What’s a vassal?” Sia stopped her reading to respond to Cynda’s question.

    “A vassal is a person or nation that is nominally independent, but also subservient and has obligations to an outside person or nation.”

    Both Cynda and Marina looked no less confused. Sia attempted to explain by example.

    “In this story, Valia is the vassal. Years before this story takes place, the Arcadian Empire extended its reach to the borders of Valia. But they did not conquer them. There was a brief war, and the boy king’s great uncle was killed in battle, but then his grandfather negotiated with the Arcadian Empire and the Valian kingdom remained intact.” So far Cynda appeared to follow, but Marina still looked confused.

    “Why didn’t the empire just beat them?”

    “They could have. But further war risks destroying Valia’s riches. Also, wars kill people.”

    “What did the grandfather do?” Cynda asked. “How did he become king?”

    “The grandfather had to make a deal with the Arcadian empire to become king. He and his people would help the Arcadians fight the empire’s enemies. Every year the Valian king taxes his people to collect money and also sets aside a portion of the wheat harvest to give to Arcadian. This is what is called a tribute.”

    “That’s not fair.” Cynda retorted.

    “The boy king certainly does not think so. But fair or not, it is risky to challenge the way things are done with the empire.”

    “If the boy king fights the empire, then is he no longer a vassal.”

    “He could, but only if he wins. If he loses…” Sia paused to think through how to explain this to her sisters without speaking so cruelly. “Then things will be far worse. At the very least the tribute will be larger, and the young king loses his throne in place of a relative.” More likely he gets killed, Sia reflected. “At worst, the Arcadians conquer all of Valia and rules directly and the people have even less freedom.”

    Still, even after Sia had outlined the risk and the story’s presentation of the young king as petulant and unwise, her sisters seemed to support the young king’s boldness. They wanted the Valians to be free.

    Soon they fell asleep, but Sia stayed awake far longer. She has only subconsciously known this, but now could no longer forgo thinking on the state of matters. Mandalore was a vassal of the Empire, had been since the end of the Clone Wars. The tribute they paid to the Empire was their most valued commodity, Mandalore’s warriors, mainly in the form of her late father’s Imperial Commandos.

    A new fear ran down her spine, generated by just the thought of them losing this war. And it would be Clan Saxon, not the Empire who would lose it. For the first time Sia thought of the consequences of losing, to Clan Saxon, to Mandalore, and they were too terrible for her to consider. They had to win.

    Authors Note: The story I've quoted is taken from the HBO series Rome Season 1 Episode 8
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
  18. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Almost two weeks later delicate green shoots emerged from the soil. Since the first appearance of green the first thing Marina and Cynda did every morning was run to the counter to see the change in their plants. Every morning Sia joined them to watch the curious and delighted looks on their faces. Marina asked so often what they would look like when fully grown and when Sia showed her a picture her eyes went big.

    One day Cynda asked her, “Do plants grow only at night?”

    “Why do you think that?”

    “Well, during the day I’ve never seen anything happening!”

    Sia laughed and it felt good. “Very often things happen that we cannot see.” She also set up her datapad to take a snapshot of the plants every ten minutes and a few days later she showed her sisters the sequence of images and smiled in delight at the looks on their faces.

    She read to them every night, made games out of cleaning the apartment, and took them out on walks early in the morning instead of jogging on her own. Marina and Cynda lived in their own world apart, blissfully unaware of the war. Sia wished it could last, but as one month turned to another the pit of dread in her stomach grew. She certainly could not forget and live apart from it, even while living a domestic life.

    Sia was coming back to the apartment from a trip to the market. The prices had risen again since her last run to fill their food coffers, but they had the money to spend for it, unlike several other residents of Sundari. The lines were running longer and the portions she saw purchased growing smaller.

    She was just one block segment away from her family’s apartment complex when one of the few persons walking outside called out to her.

    “Saxon girl!”

    Sia stumbled to a halt and clutched her bag of fresh groceries tighter. She turned to the voice and saw an elderly woman striding up to meet her.

    “Are you a Saxon?” The woman’s lined face was grave as stone.

    “W-Why do you think so?” Sia stammered.

    “Because you look like one.” And so she did. Between Sia’s gray eyes, light skin, and dirty blond hair she could not have looked more like one of her clan.

    The older woman opposite of her obviously was not. Sia soon enough saw enough to indicate where this woman’s loyalties lay. She wore a royal blue cloak, draped elegantly over one shoulder, one of the primary colors of the Protectors. A broach pinned on her cloak display the Protector's crest symbol.

    Sia began to tremble slightly under the woman’s piercing gaze as she gave her reply.

    “I am,” Sia said.

    A second later the woman’s head leaned back slightly. Sia heard the sound of parting lips, and then something cool and wet hit her cheek and slowly dribbled down the side of her face.

    Sia only caught a glimpse of pure hatred from the woman before she rapidly turned on her heel and walked away as fast as she could without running. She leaped through the front door of her apartment, nearly slammed the groceries on the table, and made a beeline for the kitchen sink.

    The warm water and soap washed the spit away, but Sia still felt its impact. She still saw the Protector woman’s eyes filled with hate, and she knew that she the woman’s family had been killed, either a husband, a son, or other relative. She must have loved them and was now in anger and grief over their death.

    Done by my family. By my father.

    Tears streamed from her eyes as she sobbed over the sink.

    Is this how other Mandalorians see me and my sisters? The daughters of a murderer?

    Suddenly she heard the apartment’s front door open. She hastily wiped her eyes and stepped out to see them. Her brother Garin was standing there in full armor, but his helmet off.

    “What’s wrong?”

    Instead of answering, she walked over and wrapped her arms around him. He returned the gesture and repeated his question.

    “I-I’m just glad you’re back,” Sia stammered to say. Her most recent thoughts felt too secret to say, at least until the terror had passed.

    “Sia, please tell me what is wrong.” He was persistent, so Sia relented and told him in general terms what had just happened.

    His face clouded over with anger. “How dare…how dare that woman disrespect you like that!”

    Sia remained silent. She felt none of his anger, instead there was fear and guilt.

    “Who was this woman?”

    Sia balked. She had no desire to litigate this more, to dig deeper and discover more horrors about herself and her family and bring more grief to the woman and therefore more guilt to herself. She just wanted to leave it alone.

    “She-she was an old woman. I don’t know her.”

    “Well, how old was she? What did she look like? What was she wearing?

    “She-she looked like an old woman…Oh Garin, just let it go!”

    “She spit on you! She treated you like dirt. She can’t get away with this.”

    “I don’t remember. I don’t know.” She was not entirely telling him the truth, but she wanted nothing more right now than for her brother to cease asking.

    He gave a frustrated sound. “You need to stand up for yourself more.”

    She spoke before he could say anything more. “I thought you were evacuating the barracks on Concord Dawn. What’s happened?”

    “I just…I missed you. Uncle Darien told me that you are not coming to the war front. I wish you would reconsider.”

    “I can’t Garin. Cynda and Sia need me with them.”

    “We can get more droids.”

    “It’s not the same,” she sighed and wished he and the rest of her family would stop pushing her to fight. Thankfully, he knew her well enough to not push the matter further, even his face still showed his disagreement.




    A few days later, Sia and NAN decided to celebrate Cynda and Marina’s 9th and 7th birthdays respectively. The two girls had their birthdays only separated by five days and to conserve sugar NAN had the idea to celebrate both on one day and make one large cake. Neither of her sisters complained, possibly because Zara, Junia, and Garin were joining them, though Garin could not stay long. For the first time in several months Sia was together in one place with her siblings.

    Sia thought Junia and Zara appeared more serious than she previously remembered, though she was likely the same. Still, her twin sisters were sincerely happy to see her and were eager to hear from Cynda and Marina about their latest escapades. They looked over the plants they were growing and that Sia knew would soon outgrow their current containers. Garin was tired, but chatted away. Zara and Junia were deeply interested in the latest from the war front and soon he was telling them all matter of military strategy while Sia and NAN put the last icing on the cake.

    There were loud congratulations and Cynda and Marina opened presents and wolfed large chunks of cake down. Sia was relieved; she had been worried up until the very moment that there was too little shortening and their birthday cake would crumble.

    Garin had to leave early. Junia and Zara were staying overnight before returning to the Academy. The night ran long and NAN ushered the birthday girls to bed, while Sia talked with her sisters. She was glad to see them for once not over a holocall. Even though she had nothing all that sensitive to say, there always felt this extra tension in her conversations over the holonet with her sisters, that extra effort it took to think about what she said before she said it.

    A flash of anger crossed Zara’s face. “Dad should be here.”

    Sia nodded. Junia sighed and said, “Even though it’s been almost seven months, there are days I still miss him so much it hurts.”

    Sia nodded again in understanding.

    Zara pulled out her datapad. “I was going through some old messages and I found one that Dad sent us our first day at the academy. Sia, would you like to hear it?”

    “I would.”


    Junia and Zara

    I sure hope your first days at the Academy are going well. The day you both left was hard for me, but you are growing up and the galaxy needs people like you. Both of you and your sisters and brother continue to grow up and make me so proud that I’ve been so blessed with having such great and loving children. Your teachers at the Academy could not say enough good things about you. I look back on the days you and each of your siblings were born, when your mother placed you both in my arms, and I should have realized what gifts I was receiving. Those big wide eyes looking up at me for the first time.

    After you read this remember life’s journey can be long and hard at times. But remember you have many good people around you, especially Sia and Garin. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for help and guidance.

    Farewell for now. I look forward to when I can put my arms around you both again and get that feeling that I wish every father in this world could feel.


    At Zara’s final word, tears were streaming down Sia’s face. She would give so much for her father to be back with them alive.

    Yet, though the grief was the same, there was a new sorrow that flowed with it, the pain she felt knowing that the same man who wrote that letter and loved his family so much also performed terrible acts. None of her relatives’ explanations satisfied Sia and she could not ask her father why.

    “Sia, when are you going to the frontlines?” Zara’s words startled Sia from her thoughts, not just the words, but the fact that her younger sister had said them.

    “I-I can’t. I need to look after Cynda and Marina.” Both Zara and Junia frowned.

    “This war Clan Wren has unleashed needs to be put down.” Zara made a fist.

    Junia took up the conversation from her sister. “And honestly, I support imprisoning Bo-Katan this time. That woman has been a grave danger to our clan and Mandalore for years. You need to go and fight Sia. We would go, but we know Dad would want us to focus on our education at the Academy while we are still underage.”

    Sia felt unnerved by this entire conversation. Junia was speaking to her as though her elder sister was the younger that need to be told what to do. Unlike with her aunts and uncles, Sia felt a greater impulse to defend herself. Within Junia’s words was the strong implication that when she and her twin turned thirteen in less than a year they would join the fighting, and that scared Sia.

    “Please, don’t.” Sia said, before she could stop herself. Both her sisters look stunned.

    “Why?” Zara finally asked.

    “I-there are plenty of Mandalorians and stormtroopers to fight in this war. And if the Empire wants to hold onto Mandalore they can send more.”

    “No,” Junia shook her head. “We need to show the Empire what we are made of.”

    Zara continued. “Once we do our part to end this civil war, Mandalore and our clan will have a trusted and secure spot in the Empire for generations.”

    Were we not already supposed to be trusted and secure? Sia was stunned once more to hear her twin sisters spout affirmations of the Empire. And she could not pretend she did not know where they had heard it.

    “Are your instructors at the Academy pressuring you to go and fight?”

    “No!” Zara exclaimed. “Sia, don’t you understand? Mandalore has been riddled with traitors for years. If we don’t give this our all, then there will just be another civil war in a few years. Don’t you want peace?”

    Sia had seen enough of her father’s records to have doubts about the value of peace in Imperial plans. “Yes, of course, but-”

    Junia leaned forward. “Don’t you want to help us get justice for Dad’s murder?”

    “Of course!” Sia exclaimed, but then immediately thought: Had he been murdered? “I-I just don’t think the three of us are going to make a difference in the fighting. Someone needs to be at home.”

    Zara sighed. “And what will you do when the enemy shows up on your doorstep? Will you fight then?”

    Sia felt under attack and despaired that it had come to this with her sisters. They squabbled, but never argued so, not with so much demand.

    Only the images of Cynda and Marina calmed her. “You know I will always protect my family. Always. Right now, your younger sisters need me most. They do better when they know I am near.”

    The twins finally stopped their onslaught. Sia had not delivered counter-arguments, but whatever propaganda their Academy instructors had filled Zara and Junia with, they still loved their little sisters. Still, Sia felt scared by the change in them and for the first time despaired about how she could reverse their growing reverence for the Empire that she realized she herself was slowing growing more and more disillusioned.

    Early in the morning, while she slept, Sia heard an alert from her datapad. It was a short message from her great-uncle Oren. There had been a battle raging for several hours in the outer reaches of the Mandalore system. Her Uncle Darien had perished. For the rest of the dark hours, she mourned and pleaded for her brother’s safety and for her sisters to stay clear from the fighting.
     
  19. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    After the sun rose, she decided to finish the data transfer. She was already feeling horrible, better to make a bad day worse, she thought, than make a new day bad. Just before starting she saw another message from Agent Kafka and a message from her Uncle Tiber. The message from the agent had a simple request: delete the data from her father’s servers after the data transfer was complete. The message from her uncle was a request for a copy of the data.

    Sia had already created a hard copy for backup before commencing the data transfer, so she decided to set aside that for her uncle. Sia set aside the agent’s question and its implications for the time being and turned her attention to the large view screen, displaying all those directories, named by dates. Her eyes drifted over the last. It felt so long ago when she had her first look on her father’s server and thought about going through his last entry.

    There were two versions of how her father died, one offered by Clan Saxon, the other by Clan Wren. In the former he was a victim, in the latter he was an assailant.

    Before, Sia had no reason to disbelieve Clan Wren’s version of events, that version being that her father had arrived under invitation by Countess Ursa Wren and proceeded to implement a slaughter of Clan Wren, that they defended themselves from. Then her father wielded the stolen Darksaber to duel Lady Sabine Wren on a frozen lake, lost, and then proceeded to attempt foul murder, before he was killed on the solid ice.

    Sia had disbelieved this version at first teling. But now, after learning of some of her father’s other deeds, she was not so sure.

    There were also her own recollections from the night before he died. Ursa Wren claimed that she held two Jedi to hand over to Gar Saxon. If she planned a trap, why claim she had Jedi, and risk Gar Saxon bringing a greater force with him? Why plead for her daughter’s life, if the plan was to rid herself of Saxon to begin with?

    Her eyes lingered over the date of her father’s death. She could ignore the contents within.

    But Agent Kafka had ordered her to delete the data. If she did not look now, she might always wonder how her father died.

    She hesitated. It could be terrible. So many of these records had hurt to read, listen to, and watch. She had stopped once there was no longer the need. She did not have to do this.

    She could remember her father as the man who always said something that cheered her spirits, that loved her and her brother and sisters so dearly.

    But that image already existed with another reality. She thought she knew her father, but after the past few months, she realized she had not, not really. It was said that in the last moments, people showed who they were.

    Sia opened the directory, scanned the files, and settled on the recording with the latest timestamp.

    A video with audio started playing. It was only a few minutes long. The view was from her father’s helmet visor and he was currently in a shuttle descending across snowy terrain.

    “On approach to Krownest’s surface.”

    Sia’s heart jumped to her throat at the sound of his voice.

    “There is a landed shuttle, not of Mandalorian design, that matches the vessel that Sabine, Rau, and their rebel allies piloted.”

    The planet's surface grew closer. Sia saw large buildings ahead and an iced-over lake in front of the structures. Her stomach did a flip. The Wrens spoke of a duel on a frozen lake.

    “Note,” her father’s voice continued, cool and low. “After Clan Wren is eliminated send a droid to mine that shuttle’s navigational records, and send all relevant information to ISB.”

    Eliminated… A dull ringing echoed in Sia’s head. So, it was true. He had intended to kill Clan Wren all along.

    “Why Dad…why?” Ursa Wren told her father she had rebels to hand over, had invited Gar Saxon to come. Yet even the slightest, tangential meeting of opposition to Empire with Mandalorians sent her father and his Imperial Commandos to hunt them down.

    For several hours Sia felt dazed. She only managed to finish the data transfer; she had no conscious thought for anything else. But Marina and Cynda still noted her behavior and Sia felt guilty acting so among them while in the same quarters so she decided to take that time to leave and deliver the data copy to her uncle.

    Tiber Saxon was on Mandalore at a prison complex outside Sundari, instead of on Clan Saxon’s Imperial Star Destroyer. By the time Sia arrived, it was late in the day. She was about to enter his chambers but heard an ongoing meeting, so she stepped away from the door, but not before she heard a few snippets of conversation, including the words “Alrich Wren”.

    When the conversation went silent Sia entered. She saw her uncle standing before a holographic projection of a tall dark-skinned man in ISB armor that a second later winked out.

    “Sia, good to see you. It has been some time. I just received comments from the Imperial Security Bureau, and they are impressed with the job well done you did on the data transfer.”

    “Thank you, uncle. I have the hard copy you asked for.”

    “Excellent.” He accepted it from her. His blue eyes pierced her own and for the first time Sia felt afraid of her uncle.

    “You will join us on the warfront?” There was not much room for disagreement in the way he spoke.

    “Yes, uncle.” Sia lied, deciding quickly that it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    “Good. You should know, and do not speak of this to anyone else, in a few days’ time the Empire will blockage Mandalore. Not to fear though, this is our own sound strategy.”

    “Thank you, uncle.” Sia stood for a second longer and when he said nothing else she turned and left. Once down the corridor from his chambers she felt a sense of relief followed by a realization. She was in a prison outpost, and from what she previously heard, Alrich Wren, the Countess’s spouse, was almost certainly here. She had never personally met the man, but she knew that he had lived in Sundari for several years and her father’s records indicated that Gar Saxon and Alrich Wren paths had intersected multiple times, though for what purpose Sia had yet to delve into.

    Once she had the thought she did not let it go. Sia had asked her relatives about the actions her father had taken that troubled her so. They gave their reasoned explanations, but none had completely satisfied her. If she spoke to Alrich Wren, if she asked him why her father did such things, what would he say?

    Do you really want to know?

    I’ve seen enough that I will know if Alrich Wren lies. I know most of the other clans hate my father, but I don’t know how it all started.

    Sia paused outside Alrich’s cell. There was a camera in the ceiling corner, but she quickly assuaged herself by reasoning that she could give an explanation if she were spotted. She entered.

    Alrich Wren sat on the floor in the center of a brightly lit cell. Sia noted the intensity of the lights and wondered how long they had been on. Alrich looked relatively healthy, but thin and strained, with heavy bags under his eyes. He slowly looked up at her. His face grew a slight look of surprise as if he did not expect a girl here.

    He said nothing. Sia mulled over what words to start with.

    “Alrich Wren?” She asked, though she was certain it was him, but she chose this as a way of starting their conversation.

    “In the flesh.” He did not ask her who she was, most likely because it was clear from her face that she was a Saxon.

    Sia took a moment to think again and also hold her slightly trembling hands behind her.

    “Would you say you knew Gar Saxon?”

    Again, Alrich looked surprised, but spoke in a flat tone. “I suppose.”

    Sia gulped. “Why did Gar Saxon do the things he did?” She realized too late that she was being vague to keep her conscience clear, but that also meant Alrich likely did not understand the question. But either she took too long to think of a new phrasing or Alrich Wren guessed her meaning, because he spoke next.

    “Why does anyone commit crimes? I gathered from Saxon that he was the type of person who relished power, and it brought out the worst in him. When the Empire offered power, he took it and would do almost anything to maintain that relationship.”

    Sia lowered her head and bit down on her tongue to suppress the stinging sensation in her eyes. Her hands began to tremble violently behind her.

    Alrich Wren’s voice turned from flat to bitter. “He was a killer. The galaxy is better off without him.”

    The dam broke. Sia turned her head so Alrich could not see her tears coming.

    “Who are you?” Alrich Wren asked, his voice innocently curious instead of accusatory. Sia bolted from the cell and ran out of the complex.

    Once outside she broke down completely into heavy sobs. She barely stayed on her feet as she stumbled towards the shuttle.

    Nothing Alrich said rang false. In all those recordings she listened to, even the last, he spoke of the Empire and the Empire’s enemies. Never Sia, or her sisters, or her brother. There was no indication that after he departed their apartment the night before his death that Gar Saxon thought about his children. Grasping for power was a perfectly reasonable explanation for her father’s loyalty to the Empire and all the action that loyalty entailed.

    The galaxy may be better off without him, but I am not!

    And yet, Sia realized she still loved him, she still missed him. His loss was no less painful. He was still her father, and she was still his daughter, nothing about that had changed. And she knew he loved her. It was just that sometimes, and at the most crucial time, he had loved power more.
     
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent and realistic last update where revelations of true character unfold but the filial feelings remain.
     
  21. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    A week later the Imperial blockade of Mandalore began. Before that though, Sia took her sisters up to Concordia, to their family catacombs again, to plant their growing garden in good soil. Marina and Cynda threw themselves into the task with gusto. Sia also worked hard, but less out of passion and more out of a yearning to keep her mind occupied with the immediate tasks, especially now that the war was on their doorstep.

    She could not completely stop her mind from wandering. She thought of her father’s death and how the Wrens said he died.

    She wished that she could have been with him when he died, however horrific it had been, however much he may have earned it. Even though he was a murderer, she wished his last moments had been with her holding his hand, rather than alone in the frigid cold.

    Back on Mandalore, their days were spent indoors during the blockade. Sia tried, but failed to keep Cynda and Marina at ease.

    Sia can no longer hold holocalls with her twin sisters, but she does receive written messages from them almost once a day. They are no longer on the Imperial Academy on Mandalore, but at an installation and old barracks on Kalevala, still in Mandalorian space. A common disturbing thread in the messages from her sisters that there is more scrutiny on them from their instructors. The failures and successes of their family reflect on them. Even if her other Clan Saxon relatives may claim they are still winning the war, apparently the Empire does not share such optimistic sentiment.

    Then Clan Wren, Bo-Katan, and the other Mandalorians allied against Clan Saxon began their attack against the Imperial and Saxon positions.

    Sia rushed her sisters to a public bunker. Before leaving, she dressed them in loose clothing and donned a cloak for herself to better hide their family features. She feared what might happen if the other Mandalorians also finding sanctuary discovered that Saxons were sheltering with them.

    Deep underground and in the gloom, Sia huddled in a corner of the bunker, one arm wrapped around Marina as her youngest sister sheltered in her lap, the other arm around Cynda. Both girls pressed hard against her. The shelter was crammed full of masses of people, the elderly and the very young, huddled together in groups and muttering in hushed, terrified tones.

    The sounds of tense humanity were punctuated by distant rumbles. Sia thought of her family, especially her brother, running operations from her uncle’s Star Destroyer.

    Sia tried to offer Cynda and Marina a snack. They each took sips of water, but told her they were not hungry.

    Suddenly, an explosion, still distant, but much stronger went off, and the bunker’s walls trembled. Marina buried her face in Sia’s chest. A few cries rose above the rest of the noise.

    Minutes stretched on and on. Then Sia heard multiple sequential explosions, smaller, but closer. The final blast was larger and sent tremors through the ground beneath them.

    From then onwards, everything was silent. Still, it was an agonizing time before someone opened the bunker and gave the all clear.

    Slowly, they filed out. People murmured among themselves, wondering what had just happened.

    Sia gasped when she emerged from the bunker. The city dome of Sundari sported several long cracks and a hole in the shielding near the horizon. She could just make out a column of thick, black smoke just outside.

    The surrounding voices were growing more and more animated. Then, just behind her, an elderly man lifted up his holoreceiver.

    “It’s the Wrens! They’ve destroyed the Saxon’s Star Destroyer!”

    Sia’s mind went blank with horror.

    At first, most of the reaction of the crowd was stunned disbelief. Then Sia began to hear tentative, but heartfelt cheers.

    Sia drew her cloak hood further down over her face and started moving away. She pushed Marina and Cynda in front of her, so she stood between her sisters and the crowd as they walked quickly away.

    At every corner Sia’s muscles went tense. Cynically, she reflected that at least her abject fear prevented her from yet thinking on what horrible events in the war had turned against her family.

    It was dark by the time they returned to the apartment. Sia ushered her sisters quickly inside and kept the lights off. NAN wheeled up to them.

    “Thank goodness you are back.” NAN was unusually quiet and subdued.

    “Go to bed now.” Sia told her sisters.

    Marina wrapped her arms around her legs and Cynda remained where she was, looking reluctant to go.

    “Girls, I-I need to find out what has happened and plan accordingly. I will be with you shortly.”

    NAN ushered them to their room, then returned to Sia.

    “NAN, what is going on?” She asked her droid in a hushed tone.

    “I don’t want to spout what might be rumors…”

    “Rumors?”

    “The holonews was down until just a few minutes before you arrived. The broadcasts are not from the usual channels; I think the voices are new. They say that Clan Wren cornered both a mass of Imperial forces and their Saxon allies aboard the Viceroy’s Star Destroyer. They…those who are doing the broadcasting, are saying that Clan Wren, Sabine, and Bo-Katan won the battle and that the remaining Imperial forces are retreating. Clan Wren is saying they won.”

    Sia’s mouth went dry. “Has anyone called here? Anyone from Clan Saxon?”

    “No. No one.”

    “Then-then let’s just stick tight…a-and wait for news from the family. All right?”

    NAN only bobbed her head. Sia left for her room and snatched up her datapad. There were no new messages from anyone.

    She turned on the Holonet. The usual broadcast channels were down, but she soon found some working networks emitting from Mandalore. She heard a measured female voice she did not recognize.

    “Here is new footage from the final moments of our victory and liberation.”

    Three-dimensional holographic images began to display from Sia’s datapad. She recognized the outside of Sundari’s city dome. A Star Destroyer, her uncle’s personal command vessel and home base of Clan Saxon during the blockade, hovered midway up the dome.

    Several small explosions erupted from all along from the insides of the battle cruiser. Just a few seconds later a massive explosion broke the back of the vessel. Sia gasped out loud. In less than a minute the Star Destroyer crashed down to the surface in pieces.

    My family… Aunts and uncles. Cousin Grigor. Anju.

    Her brother.

    They had all almost certainly been aboard that ship during Clan Wren’s attack on it.

    Sia’s entire body began to tremble violently. They can’t…they can’t all be dead!

    Her stunned reverie was only broken when NAN came, asking if she was going to be joining Cynda and Marina. Without responding, she simply rose and settle down on her sisters’ bed in the dim light.

    They remained silent and still. About every minute Sia checked her messages. But the only word came from the twins, and they were asking questions Sia herself could hardly answer. She sent them back word that she could not say from absolute certainty what had happened, but that the three of them were safe. Sia began to cry after she sent that brief message, understanding that she could no more erase her sisters’ fear then she could her own.

    Come back from a break to the fresher, she checked the Holonet for more news. The broadcasts said nothing about Clan Saxon, except they had lost, and the Empire was retreating from Mandalore. There was other disturbing news, however. Sabine Wren had handed over the Darksaber to Bo-Katan and that woman had declared herself the new leader of all Mandalore. Several Mandalorian clans, Clan Vizsla, Clan Rook, Clan Eldar, and Clan Kryze, practically all of House Vizsla, had either affirmed or reaffirmed their allegiance to her.

    Sia could not have heard worse news. Bo-Katan hated Clan Saxon and had been bitter enemies against her father, stretching back to the Clone Wars. With that woman in charge Sia and her sisters needed to get to safety, fast. But after several hours since she left the bunker, there was still not a single word from another surviving Saxon.

    Surely we would have heard from someone by now!

    And a terrible, awful thought occurred to Sia that it might just be the case that she and her sisters were the last members of Clan Saxon alive.

    At this thought, Sia fell down to her knees and wailed into the carpeted floor.

    My family! My brother!

    After several minutes of sobbing on the floor, Sia felt some anger rise above her paralyzing fear. She felt angry at her Uncle Tiber and her father. They had chosen the Empire, followed every order to ruthless degree, and it had led to Clan Saxon’s ruin. How could they not have considered the dangers to Clan Saxon from ruling on behalf of the Empire? Sia could only conclude they had not.

    The Empire had not lost this civil war, Clan Saxon had. Clan Saxon was now a shadow of its former self while the Empire stood as strong as ever. The Empire would be back and Sia had seen from her father’s records what the Empire did to resistance populations.

    We need to get out of here!

    Sia was primed to grab Cynda and Marina and flee, but where could they go? There could still be other Saxon survivors. And what about Junia and Zara? They were safe from vengeful clans for now, but what did the Imperial Academy have in store for them now that Clan Saxon had lost?

    Sia scrubbed her face clear and stumbled to her feet back into her sisters’ room. Both of them were curled in on themselves, their cries muffled.

    “What’s happening?” Cynda pleaded when Sia sat down with them on the bed.

    Sia did not want to scare them, not yet. “T-there’s no news yet.”

    She checked the datapad again. Still nothing. “L-let’s get some rest.”

    “What’s going to happen to us?” Marina whimpered. Despite her reticence, Sia was helpless to stop her sisters’ abject fear. Her heart pained to see the young girls so terrified.

    “I’m going to be right here.” Sia promised them.
     
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Ooh, a perilous situation of uncertainty and not knowing who survived and if there are any allies. [face_worried]
     
    Cynda likes this.
  23. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Sia never completely went to sleep. Her visions swam with nightmares. They were all in some form of Bo-Katan breaking down their apartment door, with legions of faceless, vengeful Protectors and Wren following. They dragged Sia from the floor or from her bed, prying her apart from her sisters. In her visions she screamed and pleaded with them to spare her sisters, to not take them away from her, to no effect. In her visions, she heard Cynda and Marina’s shrieks of terror, followed by Junia and Zara’s cries off in the distance, unseen.

    After a few hours, she could take it no more and gave up on sleep, even though her chest and head hurt.

    She checked her datapad again. There were no messages. Sia sobbed and her terror became much more real. She might really be the last adult Saxon alive.

    Which meant it was all up to her, at only the age of fourteen, to decide what would happen to her family, to choose how best to protect them. All on her own.

    She slowly left the bed and made for the kitchen. Once there, she frantically pulled some food items out. The first thing she grabbed though was the credit stick she had filled when this war all started. It felt so long ago. Back then, 10,000 credits felt like an enormous amount of money. Now, as Sia clutched it in her palm, it felt so nebulous.

    She had just pulled out a travel bag when she stopped. The sooner she and her sisters left Mandalore the sooner they would stay ahead of the other clans when they started searching for surviving Saxons. But what about Junia and Zara? She was not going to leave her twin sisters, but she could not bring them with her if the Imperial Academy would not let them go, or if they did not want to leave. Before the war, Sia would not have doubted that her twin sisters would have done as she said. Now, she was not so sure.

    She could leave Mandalorian space with only Cynda and Marina, but that would put so much distance between her and her twin sisters that they would likely start losing touch, become less close. She could not leave them alone with the Empire!

    Even if she did leave with only Cynda and Marina, would they be able to survive out on their own? What sort of livelihood could she make and how much would she be able to provide for the three of them after the 10,000 credits ran out?

    But Sia also felt like she could not stay where she was, not without risking Marina and Cynda’s lives. Perhaps they would be spared, they were only children. But Sia was an adult. When Bo-Katan found Sia, her life would be in grave danger. And her younger sisters would have lost both a sibling and a parent in less than a year and live with strangers hostile to Saxons.

    Maybe if Sia came to Bo-Katan first, maybe if threw herself at her mercy, the woman would spare her. But Sia was the eldest daughter of Gar Saxon, Bo-Katan’s long time enemy, and a man who collaborated with the Empire, massacred the Protectors, participated in Imperial raids outside Mandalorian space, and broken the trust of many clans. The other Mandalorians had all the reason not to trust Sia and only see her as a threat too dangerous to keep alive, much less leave her guardianship over children. Bo-Katan may also fear what her sisters would become when they grew strong.

    Sia’s imaginations grew more nightmarish with a split-second image of Marina and Cynda gunned down before her eyes. She leaned against the opposite wall and sobbed. Papa, I needed you! I don’t know what to do.

    The apartment front door opened. Sia jumped straight to her feet.

    Garin stumbled inside. His Imperial Commando armor was more black than white.

    Sia ran to embrace him, her heart bursting with relief. But her brother put out his arm to keep her away.

    “Garin, what…”

    “You weren’t there.”

    “Wh-what are you talking about?”

    “We lost. That’s what happened. And you weren’t there.”

    Sia was too stunned to speak. Garin leaned against the wall. “I just barely made it out a starboard airlock before Tiber’s Star Destroyer was completely destroyed.” He stared off into the distance. “Cousin Grigor held the bulkhead door open for me. H-he…” For a moment Garin only stammered. “He stood to the side and gestured for me to go forward…” Garin held out his own arm, moving it in a polite gesture. “That was the last I saw him. An explosion threw me away from the ship just after I exited. That was the last I saw anyone alive who was onboard.”

    Horror squeezed Sia’s voice down to a whisper. “No one?”

    “I did not find anyone. Tiber would not have abandoned ship. And Grigor would not have left without his children,” Garin said through a sob.

    That sealed their fate. Perhaps another Saxon had a miraculous escape. Perhaps some distant relatives from the lesser allied clans had not been onboard. But Clan Saxon had gone from being one of the largest, more prosperous clans to now almost extinct. That meant that Anju and her siblings were dead. All those days Garin courted Anju, all the plans they made to start a family together after the war, all gone up in smoke and fire.

    “Garin…” Sia reached out to him again to comfort him in his pain. He shied away and looked on her with bitterness.

    “You should have been there with me, supporting your family in our hour of need. Why weren’t you there?”

    “I-what could I have done?”

    “You could have fought side by side with me!”

    “I was looking after Marina and Cynda!”

    “Now look where we’re at! Do you even understand the consequences? Those fools, the Wrens and Bo-Katan, may think themselves victorious, but the Empire will be back. When they do, they will send everything they have and wipe them and all of us out.”

    On his last point Sia did agree with her brother. The Empire would never stand to let a rebellion stand and inspire further revolt. They would be back and fight without rules and restraint because the Empire had none.

    “The only chance we have to reclaim some honor, to save some scrap of Mandalore, to keep our clan alive, is to go to the Imperials and pledge our service. Not wait for them to come to us, go to them. Right now.”

    Sia shook her head and reached out to him. “Garin, can’t we just…can’t we just go?”

    “Go?” He was flabbergasted. “Go where?”

    “Somewhere. Anywhere. Take Cyn and Mari and get away from here!”

    “And what, become some farmers in the Outer Rim?” He sneered. “And aren’t you forgetting someone? Some family?”

    “I haven’t forgotten Junia and Zara.” She replied, indignant.

    “Then what is your plan for them?”

    “We’ll go and get them.”

    He gasped. “How could you be so selfish? There is no safer place for them than where they are! You want to take them away from the Academy, away from the best opportunity for their livelihoods?”

    “We have to get them! They’re not safe with the Empire.”

    “Ohhhh, now the truth comes out! Tiber suspected, but I never wanted to…How long have you betrayed us?”

    “I-I…I never…” Her brother had never spoken to her this way! Another set of tears started.

    “Don’t hold back now! Speak your mind sister, what you think about the Empire?”

    “I…the Empire…” Sia finally said it out loud. “The Empire has brought nothing but pain and ruin to our family.”

    Her brother stayed silent only for a moment.

    “How dare you blame the Empire rather than those traitors and the Wrens for father’s death and the cost our family paid in this war.” He spat on the floor in front of her feet.

    “I have never betrayed us!” Tears were streaming down her face, but she could never shed enough tears for this. “Everything I have done is for family!”

    “How can you say that after you stayed out of the entire war? I told you, we all told you, that winning this war meant everything to our future. Do you finally get it? Do you understand what kind of lives our sisters will have now because we lost?"

    Sia collapsed into the nearest chair, her face in her hands.

    Her brother made a frustrated sound. “You can still help me retain some of our status and honor. You’re coming with me to the stormtrooper barracks.”

    “W-what? What about Cynda and Marina?” Children could not tag along after troopers.

    Garin went silent, his expression stony. Finally, “There are orphanages…”

    “No.”

    “They will be looked after-”

    Sia leapt to her feet. “NO! They won’t and you know it!”

    “We’ll come back and get them when this is all over. NAN will be with them…”

    “And what if one of us dies? Both of us could die! Then Marina and Cynda won’t even be Mandalorians, much less Saxons.”

    “You pretend that this is so easy to figure this out! Well, then what’s your plan?”

    “We…perhaps Clan Wren will show us mercy.”

    “You can’t be serious. We’re their enemies! You’ve read your history; you know what happens to conquered peoples. Root to branch!”

    Sia leaned against the wall to stay standing against her brother’s verbal onslaught.

    “Marina may be spared, she’s young enough, she’ll become a foundling and be forced to forget she’s a Saxon. But you and Cynda will be killed! My plan is the only way.”

    This can’t be happening…This can’t be happening.

    “Last chance sister.”

    “Garin…I-I…I can’t leave them.”

    “And yet you won’t fight for them. That says enough.” He put his helmet back on. “I have no sister.”

    He turned and sprinted out the door.

    Sia ran after him out into the predawn darkness. She begged at his retreating back through her sobbing.

    “GARIN! Come back! Please come back! Pleeease!

    But he ignited his jetpack and flew away.
     
  24. Cynda

    Cynda Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2014
    Double post
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2021
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Ack! What an impossible situation and the family is fractured. :(
     
    Cynda likes this.