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you can justify it in the end

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it’s called umbaran syndrome, and most of torrent company doesn’t really know how to feel, when they hear that the phrase they muttered, gallows-humor style ( firing-squad-humor style ) over their sixth drinks at 79′s, has caught on. ‘ isn’t it just another word for friendly fire? ‘ topper, the new shiny of the 501st, asks, looking puzzled. 

rex sighs and turns to explain the difference. 

friendly fire’s when your brother behind you can’t aim for karking sithspit, like jesse, here, and it hits you in the shoulder by mistake. or when the general tosses something to the side using the force and it hits one of us by mistake. it’s an accident, and it happens. umbaran syndrome is - you’re tricked or manipulated into hurting your allies. like with those brain worms commander tano came across, or when that sith hut’uun harpy convinced two of the generals that we were working against them, and general skywalker came this close to snapping dogma’s neck. )

and … it’s rare, but not as much as it should be. the 53rd and the 62nd, trapped on an island shrouded in fog and nearly driving each other to extinction, only seeing the blaster bolts and firing back out of instinct alone. nahdar, thinking the clones were intentionally trying to slow him down. rex jokes that skywalker throwing him off that wall should, by all measures, count. 

and then the unthinkable happens. 

hundreds of times. execute order 66. 

umbaran syndrome, some isolated part of cody thinks, as he waves for the order to shoot general kenobi down, and he wants to laugh hysterically. but are we betraying them, or did they betray us?

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it’s a well-known “fact” ( in the quotation marks, it’s insisted, because there’s no way to get substantiative proof over things like personalities and a series of coincidences ) that commanding officers in the gar take after their generals. 

there are jokes made about it - the reckless way rex has taken to fighting and the way his voice has grown louder, brasher, cody’s wry smile and the hints of an accent tinging his voice, gree becoming more quiet and contemplative. bly picking up general aayla’s calm walk and the same look of distant trouble in her eyes. the way thire sometimes spoke in riddles, or smiled like he knew something you didn’t. 

but general yoda watches them, and frowns, slightly, only to himself, as he notices something they don’t seem to, in the way they’ve started to completely resonate, master and commander. 

obi-wan gets blasted in the shoulder, and immediately cody is there, knowing his weak spot almost as well as if he’d been the one shot, picking up the general’s lightsaber where he dropped it and slipping into - it’s more militant, certainly, cody’s body mass-produced and sturdy where obi-wan is almost lithe, but it looks damn well like the soresu. for a moment, until the shooting stops, cody acts almost like an extension of obi-wan’s body, his will, and neither of them questions it, obi-wan simply letting out a quip as he leans heavy on cody, taking back his lightsaber with a mild thanks. 

ponds is surrounded, with only his pistols and the hope that his general heard his call for back-up. but he fights, anyway, shooting until both of his guns run out of ammo. it’s what he does afterwards that almost freezes general windu in his path for a moment. ponds, spinning, kicking, punching his way through the droids, limbs a blur of umber-and-white armor and calmer than mace has ever felt him. his heel slams into the weak joint of a droid’s waist, he ducks into another’s blind spot, and cracks yet another’s neck off of its body where a wire is fraying. 

shatterpoints, general windu thinks to himself, after joining his commander in the fight and purposefully noting some of said points in their enemy, while holding his blade to another and watching ponds’ leg slam into that very spot. it must be coincidence, or good training and instinct. 


krell stares ct-7567 in the eyes, mouth pulling back into a growl, and the air tastes of electricity, like putting your tongue to a live wire. 

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‘ take these with you. ‘

cody blinks at the blue-and-white plastoid armor being handed to him. rex’s handguards, two flat plates, worn down - rex is far from being a shiny. he’s blinking back up at the captain. 

‘ why? ‘

rex looks a strange kind of sad, but he just claps cody on the shoulder. 

‘ because i’m going to expect you to return them. so you’ve got a reason to come back from this one in one piece, because i’ll be needing my armor back. ‘ 

cody suddenly understands, in some deep part of him, and he’s immediately unclipping his own handguards, pulling on the blue ones and flexing his hands - they have the same bone structure, but their fighting styles are different, and it shows in the wear and tear of their armor. 

he pauses for a moment and puts his handguards in rex’s hands, folding his brother’s fingers around them, and rex looks back at him, a silent question obvious in his eyes. 

‘ i’m going to need them back, aren’t i?’ cody asks quietly. ‘ guess i’ll just have to be here to get them back from you. ‘

it’s all that needs to be said, in the end. 

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‘ get some sleep, general. the clankers’ll still be here by daybreak, and you could use the rest. ‘

‘ what about you, cody? ‘

‘ i’m fine, sir. i had my sleep shift already. ‘

he can see the exhaustion almost like a physical cloud hanging over general kenobi, in the heavy way he carries himself and the dark circles under his eyes, and obi-wan sinks gracelessly besides cody. there’s nowhere good in this rocky terrain, all sharp and jagged, to set up a bedroll, so most of the vode have been sleeping leaning on each other for support and warmth. 

cody quietly unbuckles most of his armor, bar his gauntlets and boots, as obi-wan accepts a ration bar from waxer, eating it almost mechanically, eyes unfocused, and wonders how long it really has been since the general slept last. he’s seen obi-wan go almost weeks without sleep and not show signs of fatigue, but everyone has to give out some time. the jedi aren’t superhuman, after all. 

there’s a heavy weight leaning on his shoulder, and he smiles slightly, realizing general kenobi has fallen asleep on his shoulder, half-finished ration bar still loosely clutched in one hand. 

gently, cody eases the food out of his hand, handing it back to waxer, and shifts, so general kenobi is lying with his head across his thighs. he’s … cody would never vocalize it, for fear of sounding ridiculous, but he’s proud the general trusts him to almost sit vigil over him. there aren’t many people the general admits to weakness around. 

he’s startling slightly as obi-wan, in his sleep, holds cody’s forearm and hand close to his chest, almost like a cadet with a comfort object. 

a memory - obi-wan and general skywalker, on the field, obi-wan’s mouth in a thin line of warning as skywalker grows agitated, as he is wont to do.

attachment is not the jedi way, anakin, obi-wan says in his memories, resting a hand heavily on anakin’s shoulder, not flinching at the look full of anger-fear-burning anakin gives in return, that so often adorns his face. 

cody gently strokes through obi-wan’s hair with his free hand, brushing it off of his face, and blacks picking up some of the dust and shrapnel that has settled there. he’s smiling, so softly and absently enough that he doesn’t even realize it, watching obi-wan hold onto his arm as he sleeps, breath slowing. 

‘ are you sure, sir? ‘ he murmurs. it’s not something he’d ask were obi-wan awake to hear it, but he asks it fondly, and continues to keep watch until the sun rises. 

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‘ this weapon is your life, anakin. you must never lose it. ‘

cody waited until obi-wan had finished addressing general skywalker and had dismissed him before coming up to his side, quietly unclipping obi-wan’s lightsaber from his belt and handing it to him with a wry half-smile. 

‘ sir, are you really one to talk? ‘

obi-wan smiled, taking his lightsaber back from cody and flipping it once in his hand, holstering it. 

‘ my problem with anakin is not that he loses his weapon, it’s that he lets it go in situations he has no plan for, or no way to recover it. ‘

cody raises an eyebrow slightly. 

‘ and you, sir? ‘

obi-wan claps him on the shoulder once with a smile. 

‘ i can be safe in knowing that, as ever, my life is in your very capable hands, commander. ‘

he’s turning back to the strategy table, then, beginning to point out to general skywalker where his troops would be making a flanking attack around the droid army, and leaving cody, for a moment, speechless. 


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‘ cody. ‘

cody’s face looks deceptively innocent as he looks up from the strategy table, brows knit in a perfect imitation of confusion.

‘ sir? ‘

obi-wan jabs a finger at the holo-pad he’s carrying, voice frustrated. ‘ i’ve been put on medical leave for two weeks, cody, with strict orders to get at least eight hours of sleep or sedation. ‘

‘ … alright? ‘

‘ cody. ‘

‘ yes, sir? ‘

‘ it has your name as the authorization signature. ‘

rex has to commend cody’s acting as the commander manages to actually look surprised for a moment, frowning slightly and pulling out his holopad, scrolling through it and then pulling something up, one corner of his lip tugging upwards. 

‘ oh, did i do that? silly me. ‘

‘ cody. ‘

‘ i’m afraid there’s nothing you can do but follow the doctor’s orders, sir. ‘

‘ CODY. ‘

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‘ ––– sometimes, cody, i wonder if you’d make a good jedi yourself. ‘

it’s said as a joke, obi-wan clipping his lightsaber to his belt after ( in what was increasingly becoming a pattern ) cody had handed it back to him. given the sheer amount of time cody spent by his side, and the amount of time he spent with his weapon, obi-wan had begun giving him lessons in their few and far between moments of spare time on form III, the same one he used. 

( privately, cody preferred his blaster, uncivilized or no. )

in and of itself, the whole thing had become an ongoing joke in the 212th - every time one of them saw him working with the general, boil especially, they would bow and greet him with a grave ‘master cody.’ 

( cody knows obi-wan thinks he doesn’t see him trying to hide a laugh in the sleeve of his cloak, at that. )

the truth of the matter sounds crazy, even to himself, and he’s filed it quietly under ‘jedi’, with the mental equivalent of a roll of his eyes. 

he thinks obi-wan’s lightsaber likes him. 

well. maybe that’s the wrong word for it. 

more - an alliance. in the same way that he and rex would share a long-suffering look every time anakin did just about anything, he got a sense of exasperation from the weapon once, when he was holding it, watching obi-wan … “negotiate” with a nonplussed separatist leader, and he had snorted. 

there had been almost a note of surprise he felt, that hadn’t belonged to him. from then on, he always just seemed to instinctively know where obi-wan’s weapon was, even when that information escaped obi-wan himself. 

‘ i don’t think so, sir. besides. you seem to have that job managed well yourself. ‘

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they call it soldier sense, and it’s easy enough to rationalize; sharpened senses in the clones who have been on the front long enough to get used to it - good intuition and pattern recognition, and that’s all. ( rex learns to trust it, though: when cody says he has a bad feeling about something, he’s always been right, and fives can dodge shots from behind without knowing there’s an enemy there. ) 

found him trying to eat his own blaster, coric tells general kenobi, putting away the empty hypodermic he had used to deliver the sedative. i got there just in time. 

obi-wan strokes his beard in that contemplative way he has. how did you know he was there? coric’s back stiffens for only a fraction of a second. 

i had a hunch. he looks obi-wan in the eyes, expression clear that he wants that to be the end of it. that’s all.

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cody and satine meet each other and get absolutely blasted at one point and talk . so much shit about obi-wan. which, naturally makes its course around to ‘how can we work together to fuck with him’, because they’re both naturally petty people who come off as very professional

so naturally this turns into a long convoluted plan where they pretend to have become a Thing so they can mutually roast kenobi

there’s some droid nonsense and cody winds up holding satine. ‘don’t worry, sir, i’ve got you.’ ( the clones jsut, call Everyone sir ) and satine just. ‘ oh, thank you commander! i trust you not to drop me’ and they both just fucking side-eye obi-wan who is, trying to maintain his composure

‘ actually, duchess, i can appreciate the fact that you’re a pacifist. it means you’d have less of an inclination to, say, constantly lose your weapon while showing off. ‘

‘ it may be the same face as millions of others, commander, but at least you’re clean shaven. i can’t imagine what would possess some people to grow a beard. ‘

anakin is watching in the background with a martini and popcorn this is the best fucking day of his life

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okay but - the casualty rates among the gar are sky-high, yes, but they don’t talk about the deaths that happen off the battlefield; the times cody has found a shiny a few days after their first battle with their own gun in their mouth because no one ever taught them what loss would feel like; they were prepared to be shot at, and for the explosions and gunfire, but no one talked about nightmares and grief and suddenly being alone, or survivor’s guilt and how it eats you alive

( sometimes they’re found too late. coric will report an entire box of somaprin  missing, and at next morning call, there is one less trooper to make attendance, marked simply doa. )

this can’t keep happening, kix says, as he watches a seven-year-old cadet sitting up in his hospital cot suddenly, vomiting into the bucket given to him, teeth stained black with the activated charcoal and face wan and pale, hair clinging to his forehead. this has to be avoidable.  

if it wasn’t for the medics, nothing would’ve been done about it. but everyone in the gar would rather be facing down a line of battle droids than a medic on the warpath, and the senate learns that just as quickly. 

because they’re relentless. they argue the senate into the ground, talking over every argument. ( the expenses - would you rather keep buying new clones because the ones you have die avoidable deaths? / soldiers who have tried to end their lives are not fit to go back onto the field - maybe, sure, if they have no access to proper care, you hut’un bastard - )

finally, finally, there’s some grudging change. 

there’s the one official hospital ( inpatient ) on coruscant, but on the cruisers, there is space moved aside for soldiers who need it. the padawans regularly visit there - those who are learning how to heal, yes, but also those who are too reckless and headstrong. there is more to lose here than blood and sweat, young one. 

and it works - it’s not perfect, sure, and the cadet rumors of decommission on kamino if you had nightmares there linger over everyone’s head like the plague, but there’s an option. and less soldiers die on the field, as well - there are better decisions made, and less self-sacrificing. 

maybe the senate, maybe the jedi don’t care, but they’ll watch out for their own.

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‘ –– but isn’t kamino your home? ‘ anakin asks, confused, to rex as he takes apart his deecee with practiced hands, not stopping his work to look at him - muscle memory will get the job finished. 

rex gives him a tired smile. ‘ not really. not for any of us. ‘

‘ but … why? ‘

rex pauses, and anakin becomes suddenly aware that rex isn’t meeting his eyes. after a long pause, he speaks, slinging his reconstructed deecee over his shoulder. 

‘ do you still consider tatooine your home? ‘

anakin doesn’t answer. 

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kit fisto’s unit has something akin to a viking funeral where they take a vod’s helmet and plug up all the gaps, and fill the helmet with memories written down on flimsi, and then toss in a match and set it off to float away in the water, while they say the old expression.

there’s a rumor that that’s why their armor is colored the way it is; if you burn flimsi, the chemicals turn the fire green.

on days after a hard battle there are dozens of helmets floating away on the water, and green sparks in the night, and hundreds of memories.

they dont tell kit at first because they’re worried on some level that he’ll disapprove but one time he just … joins them, and silently, they let him

and he spends almost the longest out of any of them, writing memories down on the flimsi, about time spent with the troopers but also the unique ways they felt emotions, and the way that their souls felt in the force.

and sometimes, at this time of night, there is no death, there is only the force and not gone, merely marching far away sound very similar. 

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there’s something ironic, muses ponds, about standing here in front of the senator for the twi'leks, after giving up their own rations so his people could eat, and hearing him argue for cutting trooper rations by one meal

( the irony continues in seeing orn free taa, who has an appetite enough to grow four lekku reaching the small of his back, after being on ryloth, where his people starve. )

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wolffe’s first detached thought is that he’s never seen the general bleed or cry before, so the purple-ish substance leaking from goggles knocked askew could be either. 

his second thought was what have we done?

his third thought was not his own. 

his fourth was in direct opposition to that. he’s already dying. after - it felt like he was drowning, struggling for air, to regain consciousness - a brief moment of concentrating, he was in control of his body again. no longer just a passenger. good soldiers follow orders.

and - looking at the wreckage of general plo’s ship, he supposed he was a good soldier. 


he’s climbing over to general plo’s side and pulling the kel dor out of the cockpit, letting him rest against the side of the speeder, and holding his mask back up to his face. 

somehow he knows general plo is looking at him, though he can’t see his eyes.

‘ i am so sorry. ‘

it’s in the same gravelly tone that he’s always had, but wolffe can hear something else behind it. mourning, genuine and overwhelming. but … what for? the fact that they had betrayed him? his own death?

there’s a rough hand resting on his own gloved one, and wolffe blinks.

‘ what for? we shot you down. ‘

‘ yes. but i do not think that was by your own choice, commander. ‘ there’s still that current of sadness. ‘ i am sorry because you should never have been used in this way. not just by whoever ordered this, but by … us. ‘ together, they look at the battle, now thrown into chaos, surrounding them, vode still being shot down. ‘ you all deserved so much better. ‘

there’s a momentary lapse of hope bubbling in his chest. he might make it. and then he’s filled again with dread, because the second he thinks that, there is cold flooding his veins again, and he can’t move his own arms. he’s beating against the wall of his own mind desperately, feeling himself pull his gun from his holster. 

i am sorry. general plo’s voice, this time in his head somehow. he could feel his presence - like pressing their foreheads together, something the general had picked up from the wolfpack. 

the chip almost sings triumphantly in wolffe’s head as he walks away on legs that barely feel able to hold him, blaster still gripped in his hand, still smoking. 

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the siege is hitting the one-month mark in three days, and all obi-wan wants to do is get off this force-forsaken planet, where everything is damp and his head hurts from the sound of blaster bolts, grating and unrelenting. 

if nothing else, nights have become easier. the vode have taken to sleeping in the gunships, in the tanks, anywhere there’s dry space, and after about a week or so of fighting, obi-wan had joined them. ( well. one of them, at least. ) if nothing else, nights now are dry and warm. 

( things sometimes become hazy, underneath his cloak in the back chamber of the gunship, where he rests his head on his commander’s chest, cody’s chin tucked over his head and arms wrapped around him. for warmth, they’ll both claim, if asked. and it’s true, in a way, but it doesn’t explain the bubble of warmth rising in obi-wan’s chest when he wakes up one morning to see sunlight, for once, streaming through the slats of the gunship door, illuminating cody’s sharply-lined face, eyes still shut peacefully, the morning casting his scar into impressive contrast. )

as he always does, cody blinks awake a few moments after him, somehow always managing to sense that obi-wan is awake, no matter how still he tries to hold. 

cody groans and stretches, sighing as he rests his head against his general again - there’s still quite some time before the two of them need to be up, and this is a comfortable place to be. he can hear obi-wan’s heartbeat, quiet but steady, and smell him - the mud of the planet, yes, but also tea and the faint sense of ozone all the jedi had to them. like starlight and raw power, and cody nosed briefly against obi-wan’s skin, looking for that smell now and laughing once after a moment. 

obi-wan arches an auburn eyebrow at him, mouth curling wryly at one side in amusement. ‘ do feel free to share the joke, commander. ‘

cody strokes over obi-wan’s shoulder for a moment, voice still rough with disuse and the early time. ‘ i thought jedi weren’t meant to have possessions. ‘ something sad, unreadable, crosses his general’s face. 

‘ i don’t own you, cody. ‘

yes you do, in every way that matters, some bitter part of him that is cc-2224 whispers. my life, my vode, we are numbers under your command. you helped the republic buy my existence; in what sense do you not own me?

yes you do, in every way that matters, a deeper part of him says, quietly - all cody. no programming or kamino-built loyalty is behind the way that he is obi-wan’s, just as obi-wan is his general. cody would follow him into hell without question. 

but either answer would lack propriety, and shatter this moment, so cody just hums and lets his nose drift to obi-wan’s hair. battlefield dust, weariness, and ozone. his general. 

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‘ kish, no! ‘

the sound is made tinny, as it always is, by their buckets, but also by the fact that they’re underwater, the comm system that links them the only way for sound really to travel. 

kish’s helmet sinks, hole blasted through it and rendering it useless, and he’s clapping his hands over his mouth, eyes going wide with panic as he kicks towards the surface of the water, towards sweetheart - but. but. sweetheart looks up, frantically - they’re at the bottom of the ocean. it had taken them two days just to move down here. 

but they had to try. he had to try, and he’s swimming down to meet kish, dodging blaster bolts - and kish’s chest heaves, cloud of bubbles rising around his head as his body makes him gasp for air only to find none, choking on water with a panicked expression and sweetheart is still too far away - 

and then kish is in his arms and he’s pulling him off to the side and then … 

and then what? what is he supposed to do now? the surface is too far away, and he can’t just give kish cpr when they’re still underwater, and -

medic’s gloves are thin, hypersensitive - good to pick up a pulse even through the nanoprene, or feel for bumps and bruises. it means sweetheart, holding helplessly onto kish’s wrist, can feel as he stops moving, and shortly after, as his pulse shudders to a halt, his brother going limp in the water, and he presses his forehead to kish’s chestplate before letting him go. 

because what else can he do? there are brothers still alive that he has to help. 

it’s two days later into the campaign, and they’ve lost twelve men, now. two more, like kish, also drowned, and it makes sweetheart hyperaware of the water surrounding them. even with the internal heating in his armor, it feels cold. like it might crush him any moment. 

and then they’re fighting again. and everything is blaster bolts and the green afterimage of his general’s lightsaber behind his eyes and the white of his brother’s armor and the red eyes of the aqua droids and - and suddenly there’s a bolt of pain going through his head, sharp and sending stars through his eyes, and he hears his helmet crack. he feels the water starting to fill it, and part of the plastisteel jabbing into the back of his head. 

he pulls it off as best he can, shoving off the wall away from his attacker, and watches the now-useless bucket sink with a sense of finality, the world made blurry and him just remembering to keep his mouth shut. 

he sees his vision going red, and all he can feel is finality.  

well, this was going to happen at some point. we’re fighting the inevitable here. 

his chest burning, he gasps for air, tasting the salt water filling his mouth, and as darkness floods his vision, he closes his eyes, letting the water take him. 

but it doesn’t. 

but it doesn’t. 

because suddenly he’s gasping for air and getting it, spitting out seawater and looking around incredulously - the sea, his brothers, the last holdouts of droids, and then, right in front of him, the face of his jedi, smiling softly. 

kit’s fingers press through the bubble of air that now surrounds his head and rest on his cheek, a sudden wave of calm lowering over sweetheart’s chest, and his movements slow, becoming less frantic. ( he recognizes it as kit making him calm, in the same way he does some of the vode if they’re panicking and need to be brought back from the ledge, but he welcomes it. )

‘ i won’t let it happen again. not to you, and not to any one of your brothers. ‘ kit’s voice is warm and deep, as it always is, and sweetheart’s shoulders slump in relief. 

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things kix has had to deal with that are either ridiculous or sad: 

  • someone ( probably hardcase, but kix is sworn to confidentiality ) has, in all seriousness, sprained their wrist while jacking off. kix just isn’t surprised anymore
  • fives banged his knee onto the same table corner three times in a row and mostly just came into the medbay to bitch about it
  • echo was chewing on a pencil for so long he got a splinter on the inside of his cheek
  • he keeps some sleeping medication, aspirin, and bandages, in a small basket outside the medbay: they’re all prone to headaches and nightmares, and kix knows sometimes they don’t want to acknowledge it
    • ( dogma doesn’t want to acknowledge the bandages. kix leaves them in easy access so he doesn’t have to. )
  • general skywalker has been electrocuted about 27 times to date. that man is a walking lightning rod
  • someone tried to drink rubbing alcohol. this has happened at least three times. or they’ve tried to make moonshine with it.
  • there has been at least one incident where someone thought they could use something as lube that should definitely under no circumstances
  • those who have been court-martialed or otherwise slated for decommission have a choice of firing squad or lethal injection. kix has had to deliver the latter - twice, only, but he locked himself in the fresher and found himself shaking for hours both times. it shouldn’t be a medic’s job. 
  • so many shrapnel wounds. he’s got a jar that everyone jokingly calls the souvenir jar, filled with every bit of debris that seems to, without fail, find a place in one of his brothers

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trooper ct-5381, alias “dogma” 

status: alive [slated for decomission]
age: approx. 8-8.5 standard
rank: platoon sergeant
unit: 501st battalion, under gn. skywalker, temp. under gn. krell ( deceased ), torrent co., under clone captain ct-7567, alias “rex”, aurek squad ( orig. batch )
training: standard trooper flash training, basic medic training ( reservist ), non-commissioned officer training ( sergeant )
latest mission: battle of umbara
- aurek squad on an accelerated course due to demonstrated proficiency.
- immediately after completed training, troopers from younger batches replaced troopers doing low-priority tasks, so older troopers could in turn be assigned back up to the front. 
- at approx. age 7 standard, received first task on collection and recall duty [return to downed republic ships, old battle locations to salvage if possible, especially plastisteel armor from fallen troopers, to be melted down/recycled.]
- several medical escort trips. in one, ran into seperatist confrontation; batchmate ct-674, alias “crease”, a casualty in the space battle when his fighter was shot down. 
- senator duty, providing an escort for senator bail organa on a diplomatic mission to vrs. neutral-aligned planets. 
- supply run to republic base 4823-leth, when gunship was shot down. 5381, 5385, ( alias “tup” ), and 9213, ( alias “pip” ) survived alongside trooper pilot 422, ( alias “webber” ) and sergeant 8910, ( alias “tripper” ). 
- accounts of events differ, but units 5381 and 5385 survived, found by the 501st’s captain, 7567, who asked to have said troopers moved to his battalion. 
- ct-5381, in the interim, began nco training. 
- [ see previous reports for missions run by the 501st that ct-5381 was participant in. prior to umbara, no more than 5, 2 of which were not official, but ascribed by gn. skywalker. ]
reason for report: senate request for trooper ct-5381′s decommission.
further information: ct-5381, on the campaign to take umbara, showed volatility, turning first against his brothers, and later, shooting gn. krell. questionable loyalty and temperament, and held currently on charges of treason. 

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 there are so many just entirely bizarre rumors going through the mill of the gar, at different levels of absurd: some of the more absurd ones are actually true, some are true-ish, and some of them are 100% fake but are funny anyway so they keep getting passed on:

  • general grevious is actually just yoda in a mech suit. has anyone actually seen yoda and general grevious in the same room??? suspicious,
  • ahsoka is general shaak ti’s secret daughter
  • cad bane is an exiled jedi and has had hatesex with general kenobi at least once
  • chancellor palpatine is a sith lord
  • rex is a natural blond. the curtains match the drapes. he actually just darkens his eyebrows regularly. 
  • commander cody got his scar in a crafting session with general windu
  • commander cody’s scar isn’t real and he re-applies it with makeup every day
  • commander cody is secretly a jedi and got his scar in a lightsaber fight with count dooku
  • commander cody just has a knifeplay kink and got his scar one night where things got a little bit out of hand
  • there’s a secret, second jedi temple hidden under the first jedi temple
  • fives is called fives because he has a mutation in a, uh, certain area, that means he’s only five inc
  • barriss offee is actually a clone of luminara. given the fact that the army is made of clones, and they have no idea what luminara looked like as a kid, it’s not too implausible. 
  • ventress is just a kaminoan with neck surgery and a passion for vengeance
  • there’s a deserter clone working for jabba the hutt
  • boba fett regularly swaps out with some of the younger cadets. you’ll never know for sure if one of the cadets you’re looking at is jango’s son or a normal cadet. 
  • mace windu grows a fresh head of hair every night, but stress makes it fall out again within minutes of waking up
  • ponds’ name is actually just pond, but at this point he’s in too deep to correct anyone
  • captain rex and commander cody swapped places two months back and are just in it for the very long haul
  • general kenobi intentionally puts salt in his tea
  • general mundi is just wearing a very large flesh-toned hat
  • yaddle is just yoda, but in a wig

Chapter Text

( but then there’s kix, waking up in a galaxy that’s almost forgotten the clone wars )

( and he makes sure they remember )

( he’s sure that that’s why he was frozen, why he’s still alive and ends up here; so his brothers won’t just go forgotten )

( it’s a fragmented wounded animal of a galaxy and too much passes through its fingers, but he refuses to let everything they did fade away - they earned their names, someone should remember them )

( kix knows where a group like the first order would keep hundreds of child soldiers with weapons in their hands that are still just a bit too small to hold them. he knows the too-young looks in the stormtroopers’ eyes, and the wary way they ask what’s that? as if they’re worried they’re going to be hurt for asking. )

( he goes to save them, at some point. and - he knows them and they know him, in a way. out of time and fighting the wrong war, but they stand up straight when he calls them shinies, cadets, and multiple kids walk up to him to tell him they think they’ve seen his face before. )

( somewhere in a dream or a painful time in practice where their lungs threatened to give out under their ribs, and there was a man in white armor but not the right white armor helping them to their feet and telling them not to give up yet )

( kix walks back to the resistance base with a bunch of ten year olds who by nature step in time, and he realizes at one point that he’s called some of them vod'e, but he can’t bring himself to stop )

Chapter Text

dogma’s friendships within torrent co. :

tup: his oldest friend; they’re from the same batch, and the two of them are the only two that’ve made it this far. tup is one of the few people who has constantly put up with him, and they click in a weird kind of way. he listens to tup, inherently. dogma - don’t do it. tup also knows the parts of dogma that aren’t totally molded into a strict soldier image.

rex: big brother/mentor figure: dogma looks up to him, and rex kind of … wants to see him do better, and have the chance to do better. probably calls dogma ‘son’ like we see the older clones do to “lucky”/boba on the cruiser. will hug dogma, which is indispensable at times.

kix: dogma’s the reserve medic, so when kix is overwhelmed by the sheer number of injuries, dogma kind of acts as nurse, helping where he needs to. as such, dogma is the ONLY PERSON kix will ever let complain about how stubborn or dumb the 501st can get. he knows about some of dogma’s secrets and bad coping strategies and so on, and the fact that he keeps that secret and helps dogma w that has dogma’s complete trust.

hardcase: adhd / asd solidarity between them? hardcase will listen to dogma ramble for hours excitedly about the jedi/generals and their achievements, and dogma will sit and listen to hardcase talk about the mechanics behind different big guns and explosives. neither one of them really gets the other person’s interest, but they get that level of hyperfocusing on something. 

jesse: surprisingly, they get along pretty well through humor? jesse kind of Unlocked™ dogma’s lowkey tendency to make dark jokes, and it’s something they both excel at. also they’re both staunch supporters of ‘get a GIANT tattoo on your FACE’, and will support the other’s choice in that ( but also, to the other’s face, always call it fucking ugly )

fives: a bit strained? dogma sometimes reminds fives of echo, just ever so faintly. which is both a deterrent and a motivator, and both can be a little unhealthy. still, even though they’re uneasy with each other they’re very… honest. and dogma has fives’ words tattooed on his wrist. 

Chapter Text

ok but…. what about when he’s in the desert, obi wan sees maybe not like just the ghost of qui-gon and so on, but he starts being able to talk to some of the clones men who died during the war

he spends some time with baby luke and gets back home and feels a little helpless because after all this time he’s still a little bit ???? on what to do with kids when not in an active war zone
and then waxer’s there: translucent, admittedly, and looking less war-torn and younger than he should be, and grinning like a loon

there are a good few times when he asks after rex and cody, and it usually just gets him a blank look or they look impossibly sad for a moment

he still has connections in the rebellion and he works with them to take out an empire base
and the next day, he finally sees cody

and that’s … not the whole reason he cuts contact with the rebellion, but it’s for damn sure a part of it
i was complicit in enough of your deaths, he whispers, looking at his hands - they were beaten and calloused before, and tatooine has been no kinder to them. i don’t want to know i caused any more.

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okay but like… in ‘innocents of ryloth’, we see waxer say ‘she probably thinks we’re droids’. so like… is there a genuine misconception among the people of the republic that the clones aren’t totally human, or that they are just droids? maybe not on coruscant, given like, 79s and so on, but like

especially given people seeing the jedi’s reaction to people and animals dying and then their lack of reaction to the clones dying. like the only reason you’d be able to give for that was that the clones aren’t human. 

do you think some of them are shocked, when they see the clones take off their helmets, or see them break down and cry for a brother, or help with the wounded and realize that these are men, who bleed and feel and die?

Chapter Text


Chapter Text

obi-wan is coincidentally married to like, 12 different people, and just hasn’t gotten any of them annulled 

at one point cody was carrying him off of a battlefield because he was Severely Wounded, As He Is Wont To Be, and obi-wan, on like 34 painkillers, looks up at him with a dopey grin and just ‘did i miss the wedding?’ and cody, a little shit, pulls a wounded look and says ‘you don’t remember it?’ and obi-wan DEMANDS to re-do the paperwork when he’s sober because dammit if he’s going to be married he’s going to do it PROPERLY, ahhhnakin, you can’t just half-ass these things

ventress and he fought once on a mandalore-type planet, where it turns out that fighting in This Specific Area/Grounds is actually like a marriage ceremony so they just kind of run with it to avoid provoking the locals 
every Single Time they fight, one of them ends up threatening a divorce, but they have yet to actually annul the marriage 

satine and he got married on the run as part of one of their alibis so they could actually hunker down in one place for like,,, more than a month, and satine never annulled it so she wouldn’t have to deal with the suitor game bc she legally already has a husband, and no one’s going to argue with a jedi master

plo koon was trying to legally adopt the wolffepack but there’s a law on coruscant that says if you’re adopting over x number of children you have to have a spouse or co-guardian, so obi-wan, master of dramatic and unnecessarily complicated solutions, suggested he just add one to his increasing list of spouses

quinlan and he got married once in space vegas and quinlan has never and will never let it go

hondo listed obi-wan as his spouse on an arrest report once or some such to get out of a penalty / to charge his bail to the jedi council instead and it turns out due to some red tape that that’s actually legally binding: hondo is hugely amused by this

Chapter Text

do you ever think about how in their own way, each of the clones might blame themselves a little bit for umbara

  • cody gave the orders for ghost battalion to deal with what he thought were umbaran rebels. 
  • rex did the same thing, pushing his own men forward and to attack relentlessly, like the 501st always did. 
  • kix couldn’t save them. and he was the first one to spot them, the one to call out they’re disguised as clones, alright
  • fives thought something was up from the very beginning. he should’ve done something sooner. he should’ve been able to stop all of this before it began. 
  • jesse was in the cells when they went to confront ghost company. maybe if he hadn’t been, he thinks, he might’ve been able to stop it. 
  • tup could’ve stopped dogma. and if he had, maybe everyone else would’ve realized sooner. and less brothers might’ve died. 
  • appo kept his mouth shut and his head down the whole time, and all he got for it was the sudden news when torrent co marched back.
  • and dogma, well. dogma was the biggest fool of them all. and the short time he has left is full of thoughts of every single thing he did, and where they were wrong.  

Chapter Text

‘ lie down. this won’t hurt. ‘ his vod speaks in a reassuring voice, and if dogma is honest, he’s too tired to argue. it’s what he was always good at, anyway; compliance without question. dogma. unwavering faith. he felt the familiar sting of a hypo in his neck, and his vision started to swim. he let out what he thought would be his last conscious breath. it could have been worse. 

except it didn’t end there. his body feels heavy, and his eyes are bleary, and he can’t move. one of the kaminoans is standing over him, and dogma can barely tell them apart from the rest of the white. ‘ we should be able to gather another pint of blood from him within the hour. are you ready to extract the spinal fluid, tsz-43? ‘ there’s a low beeping of assent from behind his head, and dogma is flooded with white-hot pain before his vision drifts again. 

he has no sense of what time it is - in hours or days or months since he’s been here. he’s awake sometimes and not, other times, and sometimes he’s suspended in between. here’s what he knows: 

he’s been a donor. even if he’s defective, his body still belongs to the republic, so the kaminoans are collecting everything from it they can. 

he’s had two hearts in his chest, and half a lung, and three livers at one point - they’re using him to clone cells, growing new organs in his chest, fueled by his faster growth and healing. 

he’s not alone in here. but for the most part, the other clones here are - they were bred for this specifically. they’ve never known anything outside of this, and dogma wonders if they’re even aware of what’s happening. 

‘ - the same batch as ct-5385. the other one to kill a jedi. lord tyranus wants us to dispose of the evidence, so we might as well be thorough. with any luck, general ti will stop her crusade and let us autopsy trooper tup. ‘ everything left in dogma is suddenly jumpstarting to an alert at the mention of tup. is he - autopsy? other one to kill a jedi? what’s happening?

there’s a face swimming over him, and blearily, he recognizes it as the same trooper who sedated him the day he came in. they’ve got a sad look on their face. ‘ it’s over, ct-5381. you can rest now. ‘ nala se - he was pretty sure it was nala se - snapped something out, and the trooper sighed, pressing a needle to the side of dogma’s neck. ‘ vor entye, vod. udesiir. ‘

Chapter Text

in order to assuage the republic’s fears about a) dogma (a clone capable of killing a jedi) and b) torrent company (a group of clones REBELLING against their leaders; sure in this case it was called for, but what if they start taking all matters into their own hands?) there’s a scheduled… trial? planned

except it’s not a trial it’s more a sort of… already scripted court-martial; the ending is written down before any of the clones even take the stand

and ct-5381, alias ‘dogma’ is sentenced to decommission by firing squad; maybe he was justified in shooting krell, maybe he wasn’t, but the fact that he turned a gun first on his brothers and then shot the jedi proves he is unstable and cannot be trusted back on the field

and the firing squad they get to do it? torrent company

to show to the senators that the clones are still with them; that they still side with the republic and will follow orders - so torrent co can’t do what they did with fives and jesse and miss, they’re being watched by the world 

fives thinks it’s like some kind of weird nightmare as he walks down the line, calling out ready! aim… with dogma standing against the opposite wall, chin raised… not defiantly, dogma would never be defiant, but… accepting. 

Chapter Text

‘ two platoons have reported in, captain. the third is with general kenobi, establishing the perimeter. ‘

‘ good man, dogma, ‘ rex said, nodding once distractedly, using his periscopes to locate - sure enough, there was the glow of general kenobi’s lightsaber, and he could count out the lines of the troops following. satisfied, he set down his scopes, clipping them back into place, before looking at dogma, eyes narrowing ever so slightly. 

‘ where’s your sunbonnet, dogma? ‘

dogma glanced to the side, almost as if he expected tup to be there. ( he was, most of the time, but right now, he was a part of the perimeter. )

‘ it, ah - i just … don’t - have it on me, right now, sir? ‘

rex was glad he still had his helmet on so dogma wouldn’t be able to see him roll his eyes. he wasn’t sure whether it was a good or a bad thing that he didn’t have a single good liar in the 501st. dogma was at least better than fives, but that was a bar set at floor height. 

‘ your helmet, trooper. did you lose it? ‘

‘ oh! no - no, sir. i - no, i haven’t lost it. i just, at the moment, i currently don’t have it with me. it - is that a problem, sir? ‘

rex pulled off his helmet with one hand so dogma could see the long, steady look he was fixing him with, one eyebrow raising slightly, and dogma’s shoulder’s shook, he was trying to set them so hard. ‘ dogma. ‘

dogma sighed, the air letting out of him, and he stepped a few paces to the side, turning the bend in the impromptu trench the troopers had hollowed out, picking up his helmet and holding it out to the captain with stiff arms. inside of it was a … some kind of life-form, so young its eyes weren’t even old enough to open, yet, and rex sighed. 

‘ dogma, we can’t … ‘

‘ i know, sir. but i thought - it was nearly trampled by one of our tanks, sir. i thought i could keep a hold of it until we were out of the area. ‘

rex crossed his arms, and … felt a sense of preliminary regret. ( i have a bad feeling about this. ) nonetheless, he… understood.

‘ fine, but it’s not coming onto the cruiser with us. understand? ‘

‘ sir! of course, sir! ‘

Chapter Text

‘ what’s your name, commander? ‘


the man standing before him, in armor just newly painted orange, is one of the clones born and bred for command, trained by alpha-17 and occasionally by jango himself. it’s easier to jot down those facts than to look at another replica of jango fett’s face, younger and leaner and rationed, and try and overcome his unease about the implications of the clone army.


there’s a brief look of confusion flashing across the trooper’s face. ‘ cc-2224, sir. ‘


( he doesn’t understand the brief pained look that crosses general kenobi’s face, troubled and running his hand once over his beard in what cc-2224 will later see become a habit. ) ‘ no, that - do you have a name, trooper? ‘


cc-2224 is confused by the question, but if his new general ( kenobi’s previous clone commander, ly, had died in a space battle, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers the seperatists had on them ) wants a name out of him, he supposes it’s his duty to have one. he’s thinking for a moment. ‘ cody, sir, ‘ he replies duly after a moment. ‘ you can call me cody. ‘


( technically, it wasn’t cody. cuir diryc, pronounced coo-eer deer-eesh, the name one of the cuy’val dar had given him as a cadet. low four, a joke about his number, and how the last four broke the seeming pattern of his number being all twos. it’d been shortened to something that sounded like cody by some of the cadets a little bit older than him, and he supposed that was close enough to a name. he’d heard from his brothers about how some of the natural-borns or the generals would stumble over the mando’a of what a lot of them had considered names before. )


there’s a brief look of relief crossing general kenobi’s face, and he claps a hand on cody’s shoulder. ‘ commander cody, then. it’s a pleasure to meet you. ‘


‘ yes, sir, ‘ cody responds, shoulders kamino-bred and soldier-stiff underneath the jedi’s hand.

Chapter Text

the problem with krell -

well. there were many problems with krell. he’s a ghost story here, y’know. you can tell who’s been here for longer just by saying umbara; half the troopers will freeze dead for a second. be glad you missed it, shiny. 

but the problem with krell is it’s not just krell. 

sure, he was the worst of them all. but … i had two friends i lost on the citadel raid - longshot and charger. charger, he - he fell to his death, onto an electromine, and three jedi just watched him fall. longshot just couldn’t run fast enough and got fried. 

but even more, too. i’d die for general skywalker, cross my heart, but the problem is - i’m sure he expects me to. his plans - we went to rescue his astromech at one point, and only four or five men made it back of the twenty who went out. for one droid. or the time commander offee ran trap through because he was infected, rather than try and get rid of the parasite. 

they like to say they think of us as people, but … you have to remember, kid, when it comes down to it, if someone buys you, they don’t consider you a person. not really. we’re soldiers, but sometimes that’s not the same thing as saying we’re men. 

Chapter Text

‘ we thank you for your valiant efforts, and we honor your comrades’ sacrifice. ‘

torrent company is standing to attention as best they can - there’s still a handful of injuries among them, and they’re all exhausted. it’s been two days since they took umbara, but even with their ability to bounce back and resolve, it’ll take more than that to recover from the things they saw there. 

vode killing vode. krell cutting through torrent and ghost cos. like butter. vixui, eating the wounded alive. the feeling of being surrounded, and just the sheer amount of brothers who had died. the fact that they’d just won umbara by the skin of their teeth. )

fives can’t meet general kenobi in the eyes. all he can think of is his name in krell’s mouth ( general kenobi and the other battalions are counting on us - ) or the times he would contact them, tell them they needed to fight harder, or remind krell of how important it was that they get to the capital as soon as possible. 

‘ … dismissed, troopers. ‘

the generals don’t know what to say. none of them do. 

‘ sir? what’s that for? ‘

rex is huffing softly, looking at the second medal in his hands. it’s … it might have been reminiscent of a laugh, once, but now it’s just tired. 

‘ dogma. he’s still an official member of torrent, after all. ‘

‘ mind if i come with you? ‘

rex shakes his head, and they make their way down to the prison cells in relative silence - neither of them feels much like talking, even their usual back-and-forth that comes easily from experience together. the door hisses open, and they’re walking into the small cell, dogma rising to his feet as they do. 

they don’t have any time to even greet him before a natural-born rank and file is saying something quietly to rex, handing him a file, and rex’s face twists in a bitter smile. 

rex steps forwards and pins the medal to dogma’s blacks. 

‘ the republic would like to honor your loyalty, trooper. ‘

he’s then handing dogma the file, giving him a moment to look through it, leafing through the different papers. 

‘ you’re coming back to torrent, but you’re on probation for the time being. the senate felt the need to keep an eye on you. said your loyalty showed concerning extremes at times, and therefore couldn’t be relied on. ‘

dogma’s looking down steadily, at the medal pinned to his chest and the folder in his hands. when he speaks, it’s almost a minute later - rex worried he wasn’t going to speak at all. 

‘ you know, i’m getting some mixed signals here. ‘

Chapter Text

there’s a trial, at least, though everyone guesses it might be a farce of one. three-fourths of the senators don’t even show up - they have more to do with their time, rex thinks bitterly, than state just how to dispose of a broken weapon. 

he finds that he’s not the only one in 501st blue headed towards the senate building. there are jesse, fives, appo, and tup, of course, also witnesses, but soldiers from carnivore and execute battalions, not just torrent company, getting in pairs or in groups off of sub-trains and speeders. 

he’s stopping a nearby brother with his helmet off, his armor still relatively shiny, who startles when rex grabs his shoulder. ‘ - sir? ‘

‘ what’re you doing here, trooper? ‘

he snaps to attention. ‘ i’m vixus, sir. ‘ ( got his name on umbara, then. ) ‘ and -’ he’s pausing, looking at the ground. ‘ … my squad died on umbara, sir. i’m the last one left. ‘ rex stands patiently, waiting for more. it’s … half an explanation, but not really a full one. 

‘ they were killed in the face-off, sir. ‘ ( the name the 212th and the 501st had given for krell’s deception - it made it easier to talk about, rather than saying we killed our vode. ) ‘ there’s … they were killed by the 212th. there’s no one i can be angry at for them, now that krell is dead. they were tricked just as much as we were. ‘ vixus pauses. ‘ i don’t know him, sir. but - if sergeant dogma did shoot the general, i just want to stand there in solidarity. it’s the right thing to do. ‘

he’s looking around the square in front of the senate building. ‘ and … apparently i’m not the only one who had that idea. ‘ vode in orange and blue, filing into the senate. rex nods once, not knowing what to say, and lets vixus go. 

‘ order! the senate gathers here today to decide the fate of trooper ct-5381 - ‘

‘ dogma. ‘

rex resists the urge to grimace. it’s fives. ( of course it’s fives. ) he’s in the witness booth next to rex, pushing their booth out onto the floor, and looking stubbornly mutinous. 

‘ his name is dogma. ‘

the murmur of conversation starts up again, and the chancellor’s smile is starting to look decidedly forced. ( mas amedda doesn’t even bother, fixing fives with a stony glare. ) dogma, where he’s sitting, between two vode of the coruscant guard, doesn’t even look up, hunched over.

‘ members of the senate, please - ‘ the chancellor begins again, but he needn’t bother; a hush falls over everyone present. rex, looking up, holds back a smile as he sees why. 

in every one of the visitor booths, and in each booth left empty by the senators who hadn’t bothered showing up to the trial, there were suddenly brothers, in orange and blue mixing together. as one, almost as if rehearsed, they’re pulling off their helmets. forcing the senate not to see us as faceless, rex realizes, tucking his own bucket under his arm. ( he sees jesse and tup and fives do the same thing, and one of the coruscant guards helps pull dogma’s helmet off, revealing his face - tattooed and wide-eyed and confused. )

there’s a sharp moment of silence, ringing through the air almost tangibly. 

chancellor palpatine hides a scowl behind a practiced smile, his arms folding behind his back. ‘ we welcome our brave troops to today’s trial. ‘

Chapter Text

they all have nightmares, after umbara. 

it starts with krell’s first failed orders, with him accusing rex of being the reason they’re failing to take the capital. fives remembers the breath still ragged in his throat from the past - what, fourteen? fifteen? hours now that they’ve been marching along or fighting for their lives. in the dreams, the umbaran air is stifling, and he fights for every breath. 

‘ surely you won’t fail to recognize that, ‘ he spits out through the block in his throat, fists clenched at his sides as he approaches krell. krell’s reaction is the same as it was back then, and there’s suddenly a plasma sword levelled at fives’ throat; but then everything freezes. 

‘ you knew from here. ‘ it’s hardcase, helmetless and looking right at him. ‘ you could have stopped it all, right here, fives. but you didn’t. ‘ and he smiles at fives, bittersweet and sad, and flames consume him. fives looks around with his skin crawling under the nanoprene, and all around him are the bodies of the 501st and the 212th, and krell’s lightsaber is still leveled at his throat. 

‘ arc-5555, ‘ krell says, and suddenly slashes out, and fives feels it cutting across his chest, as he crumples to the highway beneath them. ‘ stand down. ‘

jesse is in the umbaran starfighter, and it won’t move. neither can he - his hands are forced behind his back like they were for the aborted execution, and the rest of his body is paralyzed. somehow, he’s also with hardcase, running through the passages of the droid ship, watching the bomb crash into the reactor core. 

the fire overtakes hardcase, and then him, and he wakes with a start. 

kix can’t save them. even in his dreams, he can’t save them. 

rex is everywhere. 

he’s in the cell blocks, and he musters the courage this time to pull the trigger, through his shaking fingers, the bolt going right through krell’s chest - but it isn’t krell. when the body hits the floor, it’s fives’, or cody’s, or waxerdogmahardcaseozringo ––

krell gets off the ship and tells skywalker he’s requested, and rex’s mouth is sewn shut. he can’t say anything. he can’t shout and demand that his general stay behind, or that krell is a lying demagolka who takes so many of his brothers with him - instead he hears his own voice, tinny and hollow, saying that it’s an honor. 

he’s running across the field, and he knows its his own brothers he’s shooting at, but he keeps shooting, and he feels his hands clenched around his pistols and sees the 212th and the 501st mowing each other down and he tries to tell them, tries to snap them out of it, but they keep shooting. 

he’s in the cells again, but this time, it’s him on his knees, and krell is standing behind him, and he sneers. 

‘ you’re shaking, captain. ‘

there’s a firing squad. 

there’s a firing squad, and dogma is staring at them facing him. jesse and fives and tup and kix with stony expressions and their hands on their guns, and rex standing impassively to the side. 

‘ ready weapons! ‘

it’s him. the same tattoo, the same pattern of armor, and the same look of self-righteousness he’d had then. kriffing hell, how could i have been so stupid? his hands are cuffed behind his back, and his hands are folded behind his back, walking in front of the firing squad to stand by rex. 

‘ i’m sorry, ‘ he whispers, voice cracking, but they don’t hear him. 

‘ aim! ‘

the weapons level at him, and fives gives him that look full of contempt. ‘ i hope you can live with yourself, dogma.   the spectre of him marching down the line ignores him. he wants to plead i’m sorry to fives, but he can’t. 

‘ fire! ‘

the blue of blaster bolts lights up the airbase for a fraction of a second, just like they did in life. but this time - they don’t miss. 

tup’s dreams don’t make sense - he had nightmares already, but this just seems to take bits and pieces and weld them together. marching-in-time/dogma, looking afraid and pointing his gun at him/the-mission-the-mission-execute-order-[REDACTED]/standing in the firing squad, trying to breathe evenly with his gun leveled at the others/good-soldiers-follow-orders-good-/general krell, running right at him and getting so close that when the plant lifts him off the ground, his lightsaber skins over the neck of tup’s blacks/soldiers-follow-orders-good-soldiers-follow-orders-GOOD-SOLDIERS-FOLLOW-ORDERS

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good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers foll -

fives is there. general skywalker is there. they’re looking at him like - tup shudders. the only thing he can think of is umbara, walking through what seconds ago had been no-mans-land and looking one of the 212th in the eye as they’re surrounded by their dead brothers. ( dead, killed by the dead. a pointless fight. vode should never hurt vode, but here they were. ) it’s that same look - wounded, and betrayed, and suspicious, but above all confused. and … hurt, that this happened.

what had he done?

he didn’t remember what he had done. he didn’t remember how he got here, and panic rose in his throat, choked down only just. and … he didn’t want to ask. ( he knows too well the sudden rushing feeling of looking at your hands and wanting to scrape the skin clean off; and the deeds done with them . )

good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders. good soldiers follow orders.

what’s happening? he can’t - his body is writhing and that is all he can think. there’s bloodlust pounding in his ears, and his teeth are bared, and he’s pinned to the ground, and he doesn’t know why. he just knows there’s a mission he has to complete; he has to kill gen[THE TRAITOR] he has to get free from whatever’s holding him down [TRAITORS; DANGEROUS] because [GOOD SOLDIERS FOLLOW ORDERS]

those aren’t his thoughts.

those aren’t his th[GOOD SOLDIERS FOLLOW ORDERS. COMPLY, CT-5385.]

the last thing he’s aware of is fives promising he’s going to be okay, and wanting to scream; i don’t know what’s happening. fives, you have to - i can’t - [GOOD SOLDIERS FOLLOW ORDERS. GOOD SOLDIERS FOLLOW ORDERS. GOOD SOLDIERS FOLLOW ORDERS.]

his body belongs to the republic. his body belongs to kamino. his body belongs to the jedi counc[TRAITORS]. his body belongs to the chanc[MY LORD].

he hears the argument carried out above him as if from miles away, and it reminds him of one very clear fact:

his body does not belong to him.


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the day that order 66 comes, there’s a notable shift in the … wherever this place is. hundreds of their brothers come in every day, but this swell is different: most of those who come in have haunted eyes, and the visible glowing scars that some have, that show the wound that killed them, are the unmistakeable gashes of lightsabers. 

when tup had arrived, and fives following him, dogma hadn’t wanted to believe it. ( he had, some part of him had - it just seemed so … kaminoan, to have them chipped and programmed like droids. but he wanted to hold on to one last shred of faith that this couldn’t be real. )

ironic, tup whispers, breath hitching in his throat, and dogma immediately knows what he means, even if he just wants to sink to the floor with his head in his arms and let his breath turn ragged. 

fives, on the other hand, looks confused.

dogma doesn’t meet the eyes of any of their newly-killed brothers as they appear, instead looking down at his hands, eyes stinging. we were killed for killing jedi. but - all along, that’s what we were built to do. someone made us for that reason. 

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i saw someone’s post on here about like - tup and fives become friends and the possibility that fives subconsciously tries to turn tup into echo but honestly? i think they get along at first because fives has been there - dogma might be a pain in the ass, sure, but he was clearly close to tup.

they’re the same, even if tup’s a bit shinier; less experience on the field and less with grief. 

( they stick together because they can’t really afford not to, what with the amount of casualties in the gar, but it starts being a sort of empathetic brotherhood when they both get absolutely trashed at 79s at one point and fives ends up talking about echo and how he’d changed from being chastized about never adapting to the situation to becoming an arc trooper, and dying at the citadel )

( and after a long moment, tup quietly talks about some of what dogma was like as a cadet and he’s genuinely so sad and a little pissed that just when he was able to start to grow and change, and not be so blind in his faith, the story ends; it’s not fair, at least echo got something - )

fives just understands, all too well, and so it’s - both to echo and to dogma, even though he never really got the chance to know or get along with the latter, that he makes a silent promise just to keep an eye on tup, try and keep him safe

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there’s a thing in the gar called the jump stakes. 

( everyone knows the original joke, though it’s slipped people’s minds as to who was the first one to make it; the stakes are as high as you are. )

walk along a cliffside, the top of a wall. stand at a gunship’s edge. free-climb up the edge of a fortress. jump away from an explosion. shoot your grappling hook and hope for the best. 

and think what are my chances of getting back up, if i fall?

it’s a complicated game, in its own way; you have to factor in things like if there are any jedi with you, and if they’re the sort of jedi to actually try and catch you or if they’d just watch you fall, and whether or not there are people shooting at you, and the height, and how many pointy things lie at the bottom. 

it makes telling a story better, if you make it back home alive. we scaled this wall, fog and i, and the jump stakes were at LEAST 25, 35 to 1, but we both dusted ourselves off and got right back up again. though fog broke his wrist, the clumsy di’kut. 

it makes not blaming yourself for a brother’s death - not easy, but easier. there’s nothing i could’ve done. the stakes were 400 to 1 on asti. and he had no choice but to try them. it’s not my fault. 

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take what you can get.

it’s what was tattooed on the back of mixer’s neck, before he was killed by assassin probes. ever since his name was added to the roster that rex lists out every night, he thinks of that saying. they only had the opportunity to live so much; they were born to die, plain and simple. there was only so much of life they were ever going to experience. wasn’t it for the best that they fought hard for those few good moments, for those minutes of extra time?

it’s what he’d done for dogma. bought just a little more time. 

( no one on the council or on kamino cared enough to argue as vehemently as he did for dogma; in that regard, they had always been doomed to lose. they thought of dogma as a flawed asset, where rex thought of him as a brother. the entire 501st, in turns, took the stand, from kix’s calm narration to fives, heated and raising his voice at the impassive long-necks. )

( it felt a bit like selling your soul, sometimes. the kaminoans agreed to keep ct-5385 in torrent company, under probation: if dogma slipped up again, there wouldn’t be a trial of any sort. and under the agreement that when ( rex had flinched at that, the reality of not if but when ) dogma died, his body would be sent back to kamino for a complete autopsy, to see if they could find the deficiency. )

he looked so small, in his blacks, with the defeated slump of his shoulders and head hanging, even when they took off his binders and told him he was to rejoin torrent company. he looked like a deer caught in headlights when rex met his eyes, handing him his armor back - rex knew, with a settling heaviness on his chest, that dogma hadn’t expected to see another daylight, much less be back in the barracks, strapping on his armor again. 

he doesn’t talk for the first three, four days he’s back, and barely eats, looking at the rest of the group in the same way shinies do commanders, like there’s a possibility they could swallow him whole. 

you shouldn’t have, he tells rex, on the fourth night, his voice dull. if they wanted to decommission me, i should have - i was a traitor, sir, i shouldn’t be - i shouldn’t still be here -

rex rests a firm hand on his shoulder, feels him shiver. as your commanding officer, i have a duty to you and to the rest of my men, as much as i do the republic. i have a duty to keep you alive, dogma. and i’m not going to abandon that job. 

it’s in terms of duty and honor that dogma can understand, and finally, he nods - he doesn’t look convinced, but if rex can’t keep dogma alive for his own sake, he’s not above talking his brother into staying alive for him. maybe it’s selfish. but they’ve lost enough vode already. 

take what you can get. 

dogma will live for rex’s duty, and not because he should by all rights get the chance to. and there’s something inherently wrong about that that curls in rex’s chest, as if someone were compressing his armor to shatter his ribcage. but he will live. 

( he talks to five and comes back with a new tattoo around his wrist and relief evident on his face, something like a smile there for the first time in days. he talks to jesse, and there’s no relief there, but there is acceptance. forgiveness will not come easily from everyone, but they open up to having him back. )

he’s a reckless fighter, now. rex wouldn’t have expected it from dogma, of all people, but he can’t say he’s surprised. if you’re living on borrowed time, anyway, what’s the point in trying to prolong it? dogma says as much to rex, once, in the medbay for an arm broken in three places. i should have died weeks ago. it doesn’t really matter too much to me if i do, now. 

rex shakes his head, and feels despair well in his throat, but anger, too. not at dogma, but the system that had let him down. you have to move on, vod’ika. you didn’t die then; you weren’t meant to. live now. 

it’s easier said than done. 

take what you can get. 

maybe he shouldn’t have been surprised when it happened, a few weeks later; they were infiltrating some base on another one of general skywalker’s half-mad plans, splitting up with each of them heading in different directions. it sounded all well and good, until they started hitting the traps. 

( he’d heard over the comms that three of the new members of torrent were already dead, as well as nex and lunn, who had been with them since the second battle on geonosis. general skywalker didn’t say anything for them except to change the plan slightly to deal with the missing troopers. )

it was dogma who heard it first, the telltale beep - beep - beep of charges about to go off, and it was dogma who managed to act on it, jumping on rex and jesse to get them out of the blast zone and cover them. 

it’s always a bad moment, in the field, when you shake off the confusion of an explosion and your head cracking the plastisteel of your helmet, to realize that there’s blood soaking through the cracks in your armor, and it’s always made even worse when you have to find out if it’s your own, or your brothers’. rex moved his legs, sat up, experimentally - it wasn’t his. he might be concussed, and his ears were ringing like hell, but he’d missed the worst of it. 

the worst moment is the second you register that one of your brothers is going to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it. ( hevy, calling over the comms before the base blew. echo, in the second before the blasts hit the fuel tanks of the shuttle. charger, falling, his arms reaching upwards. ridge, his fingers slipping and his desperate scream as he was sucked out into the vacuum of space. )

( dogma, lying on his front and gasping for each shallow breath, explosion and shrapnel tearing through most of his side, white-and-blue armor stained red. )

he knows what’s going to happen. what always happens, but he still hurries to turn dogma onto his back, jesse helping him pull off dogma’s helmet. 

dogma is laughing. 

painfully so, by the looks of it ( rex is no medic, but by dogma’s wheezing, he’d guess a punctured lung ), but he’s still grinning like a child on their name day, shoulders shaking, and his hand reaches out for rex, who takes it. you’re shaking, captain. he thanks whatever force there may be: his hands aren’t trembling now. 

i did it, he says, and rex - wants to shake him and ask what that means, and at the same time, he has the terrible feeling that he knows. sir, i - i did something right, this - this time. rex realizes that he doesn’t think he’s seen dogma smile before, not like this: genuinely happy in himself for once. i was - good. 

rex wants to shake him back into a standing position, wants to tell him he was always good, and get him back on the field, but he knows, for all his damned experience, that dogma won’t walk away from this. so he just squeezes his hand. you did good, dogma. i’m proud of you. 

tell them - i’m sorry. it’s quiet, but insistent, and rex sighs. even jesse had forgiven dogma for umbara, long ago, but dogma’s eyes are golden and pleading, and - i will. don’t worry about it, dogma. 

he swears he’s not crazy; he’s almost certain he sees dogma try to snap a salute, and that almost pulls a burst of confused laughter from his chest. leave it to dogma to do that even now. thank you. rex knows what he means. for the promise to pass on his words, but - mostly, for the extra time, however short it was. 

general skywalker’s voice comes through the comms, loud and clear, and in a few seconds, jesse and rex go to meet him. 

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somehow, he knows it’s ct-3298, even though ct-3298 had never lived long enough to make it to the same age he had. he’s got the same calm eyes, one dark brown and the other a pale gold, and that scar on his chin from the time pip had shoved him out of their sleeping compartments and he had crashed to the ground. 

which - didn’t make sense. ct-3298 was dead. 


dogma swallowed and looked down at his chest. he remembered sitting alone for hours, and the sterile white of kamino; hell, he remembered the smell of flesh singed by blaster-bolts in the seconds before he crumpled to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut. sure enough, if he focuses, he can see them almost through the blue tunic he’s wearing ( 501st blue, some stubborn part of his mind whispers ): six neat circular marks that had torn neatly through his chest. 

well. that was … certainly one explanation for it. 

‘ where are we? ‘ his voice sounds unfamiliar to him, echoing in a way that it shouldn’t, and he pushes himself to his feet, looking around. the way he’d heard birth-borns describe the afterlife in holonovels and so on, they always imagined it to be pure white. dogma remembered kamino, and shuddered, secretly glad that wherever this was, it wasn’t like that. 

ct-3298 gives him a sad smile. ‘where do you think, vod’ika?’

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and then there’s tamn, of the coruscant guard - hand-picked by the chancellor, just as the rest of the guard are, though no one is quite sure how palpatine chooses, or what he’s looking for in them. 

( he’s looking for interesting pawns, and finds them, in the way that the force winds around rax and tamn, in the way that, in the future he has seen, fox is there, a bright red incidental barricade to a path of action that might have stopped him, the way adder looks at him and for a moment seems to know. )

its not like they’ve got potential or anything, but they’re an interesting side effect of the game he’s playing. so for now he pulls them close, to keep them under glass and just to watch.  

tamn is force sensitive, not that he knows it, or that he’d call it that. 

he’s hypersensitive to death specifically, especially among his vode - it’s become a bad omen, bc every time he gets sick, the guard knows one of them is going to end up not seeing the next sunrise

on the day order 66 is going to be carried out the cg goes to wake tamn and he’s just fucking burning to the touch, and muttering incoherently - about betrayal, and game pieces, and sudden silence covering the city, and no one really knows what to do with that, so they leave tamn to his bed and carry on, albeit grimly, knowing that at least one of them is going to die

the next twelve hours roll by and fox has a sudden, bone-deep moment where realization hits him like a blaster bolt to the chest. 

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‘ you know what’s going to happen. ‘

it’s more of an amused observation than anything else, as palpatine watched tamn, in only his blacks, stand looking at the jedi temple from the balcony.

tamn nodded. 

‘ i know that many of my brothers will not make it through the night. and … somehow, i can feel the same for the jedi. but it won’t be an attack, will it, my lord? ‘

palpatine cannot hide a pleased smile, coming up to rest a hand on tamn’s shoulder as he did months ago when he pulled him away from the fate of decommission, sensing the warps of the force around him. an amusing pawn, and one to keep nearby. 

tamn’s grey eyes stay focused on the horizon. 

‘ it’s not hard to see what might happen. ‘ he turns to the chancellor, face still calm. ‘ this has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? ‘

‘ you’ve always been a remarkably perceptive soldier. ‘

tamn doesn’t seem to acknowledge it, eyes drifting back to the direction of the jedi temple on the horizon, before his face, the same sharp frames as millions of his brothers, sets. 

‘ i’m not going to make it past this conversation, am i. ‘

‘ don’t worry, my dear. your body will just be one of hundreds of troopers killed by lightsaber. ‘

he’s nodding, not even flinching at that, and palpatine’s lip curls up for a moment. brave soldiers, every one of the men he had created. a good and honorable army. and the fact that he had the power to take that away was almost enthralling. 

tamn doesn’t even turn when he hears the weapon ignite. 

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something is coming, says chirrut imwê, twenty years old and alert, head turned towards where he feels a vague pull. several parsecs away, a cell of jango fett’s dna undergoes mitosis, the slow process towards becoming boba beginning.

( maybe in another life, he’s born closer to coruscant, and grows up as a youngling-to-padawan-to-jedi, but here and now, he is born on jedha and it’s here he’ll stay, with the brisk air against his skin and the smell of dust - baze described it as red once and chirrut laughs, saying that means nothing to him - and the faint song of the kyber crystals ever-present in the background. )

do you think war is going to break out? it’s another civilian confusing them for jedi. baze just grunts and says he thinks it’s always been inevitable - too many empires declaring themselves, too many armies with no cause to march for, too many power-hungry politicians. chirrut smiles. if we are in a situation where the question is always whether there will be war, it has already started. the next day, the first battle for geonosis begins. 

baze begins to describe him as an old man right after he hits 30, and chirrut laughs, saying that even if he can’t see his own face, he’s pretty sure he doesn’t look that old. ( but this war is hardening the both of them. jedha is no longer strange and peaceful like it should be - there are clone troops in the streets and jedi coming by regularly, their weapons lost or ruined and needing new ones. )

( he likes the clones. they’re good men, and easy to beat in sabaac, and are just the right level of bemused when he talks earnestly about the force. they like him too - a strange man with a stranger sense of humor for whom it will never mean anything that they all look the same. )

there’s a storm coming, he says to master windu when he visits, chirrut resting comfortably on the worn steps of the temple, staff loosely in his hands, his chin propped on the end. he can almost feel the troubled look on mace’s face. he knows the steps of the temple well enough, knows how they shift when someone carries a heavy burden.

mace brings nothing with him but his robes and the parts of his lightsaber, but is weighed down nonetheless. 

he pauses on the steps, seemingly considering chirrut’s words. i am the storm, he replies gravely - not with any pretentiousness, not shouted out or as a declaration, but something said wearily, as if it’s a statement of something he’s known as true for too long. 

( and come it does - even from jedha, chirrut can sense when windu and sidious fight, like the taste of ozone filling the air. )

( and the storm ends, like they so often do. )

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war leaves many things unsaid. 

true, death is the easiest explanation for this, separating lovers before a confession has time to bloom naturally, assassinating leaders before they can give a speech they were planning, a soldier being shot down before he can thank his brother-in-arms for saving his life minutes ago. 

but there’s other ways it tears out a bloody silence. schisms and political opinion dividing a family. forced exile or emigration cutting bonds. time being eaten up by the war, people’s lives being taken both literally and figuratively. 

in commander cody’s case, there is no time. 

he’s a soldier, born and bred. there’s no way to wonder well if things were different - because there’s no possible other for him. if there had been no war, there wouldn’t have been a cody - and no general kenobi, either. sure, there would be an obi-wan, but how different would he be?

he considers saying it on ryloth, watching obi-wan sway the gutkurr to his will, sheer force of concentration turning the beasts eerily silent. but they’re in the middle of a battle and it would lack propriety, so he just hands back the lightsaber and stands by his general’s side. 

he almost says it before they land on saleucami, when they chase grievous and his general is nearly knocked out into space, cody letting go of the wall with one hand and grabbing his, obi-wan’s hand tight around his hand and wrist, his life quite literally in cody’s hands. but there’s no time then, either. ( the vacuum of space absorbs sound. maybe he did say it, then, but only the force and cody would know. )

time won’t let me show what i want to show, he tells boil, voice dry and tight as they ride the gunship behind general kenobi’s, cody’s eyes tracing the noseart. it always feels like just - one second too late. 

he almost says it on geonosis. he almost says it on umbara. he almost says it every time he stands by obi-wan’s side on the bridge, every time they’re in the same gunship together, every time he supports his general’s weight, arm under his shoulder, or listens to him complain about general skywalker. 

he almost says it on utapau. 

too late, too late, too late, too late, too late, too late. 

too late. 

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ct-2830 doesn’t yet have a name. 

he’s the last one of his squad not to. tangle just recently got his, which makes him the last man standing, and they’re already headed off to their first mission, acting as reinforcements to a moon with a long and complicated name that the locals and the troopers shorten to rax three. 

‘ come on, eight-oh, you’ll probably get one here. a lot of vod’e get theirs on a mission or something. ‘ it’s east, trying to reassure him, and ct-2830 rolls his eyes as the gunship lands. easy for east to say. he’d gotten his name back when they were four. 

‘ yeah, we’ll get a drink to celebrate the battle and your new name once we get back, huh? quit worrying, eight-oh. ‘

they don’t. 

because when the jedi come, responding to the distress call just a day or so too late, there’s only ct-2830, sitting on top of a wrecked gunship with a haunted look in his eye, four vanbraces collected in his lap, and his deecee by his side. 

what’s your name, trooper? the medic asks him, gently, helping him stand, and all he can do is shake his head, clutching his squad’s handplates to his chest like any second now, they’ll come out of the forest rolling their eyes and asking eight-oh for them back. 

there’s quiet mumuring about shock and possible head injury around him, but he just walks the way he’s pointed as if in a daze, somehow ending back up on a cruiser without remembering how he got there or any part of the journey. 

the medic asks him a few days later what’s your name?, testing to see if his condition, mentally, has gotten better or worse. 

once we get back. 

‘ rax, ‘ he says, quietly, a cold anger rising in his chest. the moon took everything from him but his life; he’d take something back from it, even if it was just a name. 

there aren’t funerals for clones, but he tosses their handguards into the water of kamino. some part of them, at least, would return home. 

‘ i watched you disappear. ‘ it’s said into the rain and the waves, that will not and cannot give him any answer, cold and unyielding. ‘ all of you. you’re all gone. and i’m what’s left. i promise i’ll keep you alive. ni partayli, gar darasuum. ‘

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entry 1.0, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

first day here. set up base camp. dryer planet than what we usually go to, but it’s still swampy in places - have a tough time getting walkers through this crap. gen. fisto is away for the time being. under monnk. w. all luck, should be a short campaign. ]

entry 1.3, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 2 ( see notes ) ]
knock on wood. bruiser and tinny were on a walker that got shot down. minor concussion in the case of the former, sprained wrist and lacerations in case of the latter. treated properly. ]

entry 2.2, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 4 ( see notes ) ]
we’ve lost kipper. clean headshot - retrieved his weapons, rations, before beating a retreat. com. monnk suffered bad bite to the shoulder - unclear if venemous or not. ty broke his ankle in a patch of particularly bad swamp muck. 

speaking of which: have lost a boot somewhere in that bog. hate this planet. ]

entry 3, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 15 ( see notes ) ]
walked right into an ambush. booby trap took out ty and flix, and rasmus died from bloodloss. injuries recorded in statements from troopers. too many to include in brief report. wish we had our jedi here. ]

entry 6, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 38 ( see notes ) ]
unit’s been scattered. they’re chasing us out. i’m on my own - stats are just what i was able to record before they hit us. there’s some fucking hunting creatures with them. ]

entry 9, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 77 ( see notes ) ]
unit’s back together, but we’ve lost a lot - blood, men, supplies, etc. we’re on the move, as fast as we can be. ]

entry 12, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 83 ( see notes ) ]
i run, i run, i run, but it never seems fast enough to treat them all. ]

entry 12, medrec: unit ct-1113 [sweetheart]:

[ NOTED INJURIES: 104 ( see notes ) ]
i’ve never been so glad to see that shirtless fishy bastard in my life - we’ve loaded the wounded back onto tanks, and gen. fisto is reorganizing the group. we’ve actually worn through most of the local defenses. lucky us, i suppose. ]

Chapter Text

‘ no disintegrations. ‘

‘ as you wish. ‘

it’s strange enough to see someone in mandalorian armor these days; the stormtrooper outfits had strayed far from that design, bleak and void of color and personality that he’d had when he was counted as a clone trooper, rather than a pawn of the empire. 

but that voice sounds familiar. 

thire shakes his head underneath his helmet, muttering to himself as he follows lord vader through the hallways, marching in time with the rest of the regiment. he was … what, thirty-two, now? he was getting too old for this shit. 

( all or most of his vod’e were dead. fox’s neck had been snapped by not-anakin while thire watched, forced to remain resolute and not react. cody had died on that moon-sized weapon, after sending thire a mangled report that read that he’d seen general kenobi, alive, for a few minutes, and then watched him die all over again. kamino had been shut down. )

( thire tried not to think things like what if i’m the last one left? he couldn’t be. )

still. that voice. 

he’d had that voice, when he was younger. 

carefully, he whistles the first few notes of the vode an. it’s been awhile since he’s heard it, sung it, chanted it, but he doesn’t think he could forget it if he tried his hardest. 

sure enough, the bounty hunter’s spine stiffens, and thire hides a grim smile underneath his helmet. the man in green manda armor storms down one of the side hallways, and after a moment, thire follows. 

‘ what do you want. ‘

thire ignores the cold aggression in the bounty hunter’s tone, and he pulls off his helmet, his own voice taking a softer note. 

‘ you’re his son, aren’t you. fett’s. the one he chose. boba, right? ‘

boba fett stiffens even more, turning to look at thire and seeing the shape of his face; the same dark golden eyes that he had, that his father had had, the same sharp cheekbones and dark hair, though thire’s was streaked now with white. 

‘ you’re a clone. ‘

‘ so are you, ‘ thire replies mildly, helmet under his arm. boba doesn’t seem to have a snappy reply to that, still standing stiffly as though he’d rather be somewhere else. thire sighs. 

‘ take off your helmet, vod’ika? ‘

‘ i’m not your - ‘ it’s growled through what sounds like gritted teeth, but after a terse moment, he’s doing it anyway, and something hits thire like a blow to the stomach, and he swallows. 

boba looks like his brothers - the age they’d looked when they still fought for the republic, when he was proud to be in armor, when he was a member of the coruscant guard still. his face is a little leaner, and his eyes carry an intense suspicion that most troopers wouldn’t have, but it’s still … their face. 

‘ vor entye. ‘ thire says quietly, after a moment. boba looks … confused, and wary, but he sees something in his brother-not-brother’s eyes. for a moment, acknowledging and mourning a possible life never lived. they look at each other for a long moment still, before thire pulls his helmet back on. 

‘ ret’urcye mhi. ‘ the mando’a for goodbye, literally maybe we’ll meet again. 

he leaves the bounty hunter standing in the hallway as he walks off to rejoin the regiment, feeling more invisible there than he ever did in an army all with the same face as him. 

but he can swear he hears boba reply ret. 

Chapter Text

 with your casualty numbers and propensity for danger, we tend to send some of those with natural talent but some … deficiencies into your squads. that way, when they’re killed, it’s no great loss to us, and those clones who are older and have better training will be commissioned to units whose strategies are based less on chance, ‘ nala se told anakin calmly, thin fingers folding over each other. ‘ we see no point in having some of our better-trained units or those with leadership skills dying underneath the command of someone whose failure to follow orders is a constant. ‘

anakin’s fists clenched by his side, and the power in the room wavered for a moment, white light flickering so minutely it would pass unnoticed, for the most part. ( not by nala se. kamino never wavered, and she was not unfamiliar to jedi and the raw energy radiating off of them. ) ‘ so they’re just - sent out there to die? ‘

nala se’s chin tipped a little to the side, face a fey kind of curious. ‘ of course, master skywalker. all of the clones are sent to die. ‘

Chapter Text

you always were reckless with your men, anakin, obi-wan projects out into the stars somewhere ( the empire is large and breathing and pervasive, and what-once-was-anakin is somewhere in the festered heart of it. if obi-wan looks up to the stars in the clear desert sky, he can almost imagine it as a physical presence; a gnarled, wrinkled hand. )

it’s the thought he has when another man in 501st blue shows up in the privacy of his small home - it takes him a moment, but a weary smile breaks through a beard now a dusty grey. ‘ fives, if i remember correctly? ‘ the arc trooper smiles and gives general kenobi old ben a half-salute, perched on his table. ‘ what brings you here? ‘

( it’s not the first time the dead have come. sometimes he can help them. most of the time, they come to help him, with some lesson to learn. )

not much, says fives. ‘ve been picking up what happened since i died. did you hear about it? i got shot down for treason; i was babbling something about chips in our brains and i tried to attack the chancellor. said that there was some conspiracy and that he was at the head of it. his laugh is as bitter as tusken tea; drinking it in is so dry it closes the throat. thank the stars that turned out to be fake, huh?

obi-wan sighs. ‘ i’m sorry. ‘ ( it feels like he’ll never be done saying that; to the dead, to the dying, and to the few still stubborn or young enough to cling to their life. ) ‘ that - doesn’t answer the question, though. ‘ he’s no longer the negotiator; whatever tact he might have had in the war is gone, now. 

fives looks up, and he does as well, and for a long moment while their gazes hold, it’s as if he can see through the roof of his hut, to the sprawling galaxy beyond, and that hand curled through it. 

to remind you nothing lasts. not the republic, or the jedi - and obi-wan winces at that, the wound of years still fresh - but not the empire, either. and not the sith, those hut’uun bastards. fives’ smile is - sometimes, obi-wan is viscerally reminded of the man that the clones all stem from. there is that same amount of predator in fives’ smile, sharp and deadly. 

and for a moment, looking up, he can see those gnarled fingers tremble. 

Chapter Text

a food vendor notices a shiny trooper just kind of staring hungrily at their cart at one point and just. ‘want something?’ the kid startles, looks guilty. ‘oh - sorry, sir. i don’t have any - i mean, i can’t pay for - no thank you.’

clones or not, it’s a damn shame that these boys are dying for the republic and not getting any money or anything back out of it, so the vendor waves him over. ‘it’s on me. pick whatever you want.’ and, aw, hell, the kid’s eyes turned wide when he said that, staring at the different choices, so the vendor, making a decision, just gives him one of everything.

‘for your service, ‘n all.’ they say, with a half-smile and a salute, and they get. the experience of someone who’s never tried anything but ration packs before in their life getting to try something new and just. the shiny stares at the food after cautiously taking a few bites.

‘ this is literally the best thing i’ve tasted in my entire life what the kriff - ‘

from then on it becomes a point of competition between the vendors and restaurants of coruscant; they give the troopers free meals or snacks and see which becomes the most popular

it’s also a little bit of a shiny hazing ritual to take them to get ice cream because without fail, they’ll either: a) just take a big fucking bite and suddenly make that pained ‘my TEETH’ expression or b) hoover it down like anything else and get the worst fucking ice cream headache

Chapter Text

it had been a little under two hours, and ponds was already sick and tired of having the civvy reporter team around, talking cheerfully with clipboards underneath their arms and their faces so carefully earnest and measured, drinking weak caf and asking ponds questions either like he was one of the little gods or skywalker’s protocol droid. 

still, if things were bad for him, they were doubly bad for his general. 

currently, mace was surrounded by a hyperactive five-foot-something blonde human male that seemed to have swapped his blood out for caf, a nautolan who kept asking him questions that were absolutely double entendres, if not just flat-out obscene, and a rodian desperately trying to take pictures of him. 

ponds’ face sets into a line of sympathy, and he’s reaching out briefly. 

holding up alright there, general? >

he can feel windu’s exasperation, like someone spiritually rolling their eyes, even as he does his best to be polite and answer the barrage of questions as they come at him. ( he can also feel the hints of mace’s migraine as it batters the walls of mace’s shields, which means it’s probably actually ten times worse, and ponds makes a note to shoo all the reporters if they don’t leave themselves in the next fifteen minutes. )

they’ve been asking me about my expression for five minutes, commander. >

< ah. and what’s the verdict so far, sir? >

my neutral expression makes me look like i’m always in a bad mood. > ponds can feel a tired twitch of amusement bubbling in his jedi, fleeting and then gone. < which is convenient, because it’s usually true. >

ponds snorted under his breath, before taking some pity on his general and deciding fuck fifteen minutes. he knew the pained look in windu’s eyes when lights were starting to hurt his head, and the reporters weren’t helping matters. 

oh, and stand by, sir, in about two minutes we’re going to be unexpectedly attacked by seperatist ships; not that they’re going to leave any damage, but the alarms might go off for a bit and there might be some turbulence. might have to put some emergency protocol in place. >

the feeling he got from windu was something desperately trying to conceal itself as mild disapproval for the deception, but he’d known his general long enough to feel the quiet relief underneath it. 

including evacuation of civilians from any military ship? >

of course, sir. wouldn’t want them in danger, after all. >

Chapter Text

‘ ––– and if we can pull that off, it won’t be that hard to continue along the cliffside and take back the capital. ‘

kix’s holo is vibrating once, and he’s opening it up underneath the command table they’re all gathered around, snorting when he reads the message from captain rex, seemingly intently focused on general skywalker’s … well, strategy was a bit generous, as it so often was with their general. 

[ txt from blondie: prediction 4 death count on this nuna chase ]

[ txt from blondie: ? ]

he’s shaking his head as he types a reply. 

[ txt from kix: i’m betting like three people make it back roll the fucking dice alor’ad ]

[ txt from kix: remind me what we’re after again ]

[ txt from blondie: artoo again ]

[ txt from kix: o of course ]

[ txt from kix: kark trooper lives being put in danger, 9 hells forbid skw. lose his astromech ]

[ txt from blondie: if you listen carefully ]

[ txt from blondie: you can hear me whisper ‘shut the fuck up’ at least once every five minutes ]

Chapter Text

faal finds the kid in a wrecked ship, unconscious and lips chapped and dry. they’re no good with kids, but the choices are between them taking the kid and the buzzards, so they dig him out from the rubble and carry him home, walk slow and steady, as it always is. 

it takes two days for the kid to wake up, two days of him tossing and turning in his sleep, calling out for … someone? something? upper, wrench, sod, tucker - whether they’re names or items, faal doesn’t know. two days of them rubbing bacta into the kid’s wounds, re-breaking the bone in his arm and setting it again. two days of them wringing out a cool wet cloth into the kid’s lips, so he can drink something. 

they know, somehow, when the kid is awake. 

( they’re no good with kids, but their species is a hunting one by nature - they could sniff it out beforehand, the three times someone has considered robbing them, and after the third attempt, no one’s been foolish enough to try again. )

‘ what’s your name, kid? ‘

the kid looks almost like he’s trying to salute faal, and winces when he pulls up his arm, wrapped in a sling, uncertainty suddenly crashing over his face. ( faal had changed him out of the clothes he was in when he wet them, something that looked like a charred and torn uniform, tattered by the crash. ) 

‘ clone cadet 83-1173, sir. ‘

‘ i’m no sir, ‘ faal says, amused, handing clone-cadet-83-1173 a mug of tea, which he accepts duly after a second, drinking cautiously. ‘ and that’s no name. what’s your name, boy? ‘

the cadet takes another sip, hesitating and looking down and away. ‘ don’t have one, sir. ‘ ( he’d never had something defining enough about him, hadn’t done anything worth commemorating or teasing about, so he was just clone-cadet-83-1173 as they left kamino, as their pods were ejected for what was meant to be a drill, as his had crashed into the planet’s surface. )

‘ well, we can’t have that, ‘ faal says, tapping their finger on their mug. they’re no good with kids, but they know at least that this one deserves a name. they’re considering it for a moment. ( their name means humble in duty but dangerous, in the naming system of this planet, where the name becomes an amalgamate of the syllables of the word. )

‘ joori. i’ll call you joori. ‘ the newly-named joori looks puzzled. 

‘ … sir? what does that mean? ‘

faal sets down their mug, and offers what joori thinks is a smile, though it’s hard to tell with the mouth style. ‘ reborn from ruin. ‘

Chapter Text

‘ i’m a combat medic, rex, not a psychologist. i wasn’t even meant to be that, too. i was an engineer first. ‘

it’s some time between ass-crack-of-dawn and too-late o’clock. kix is perched on the end of a cot, his hands shaking, and rex sits across from him, slumped in a visitor’s seat, the lights of the coruscant buildings the only thing to illuminate his tired face, making him look washed out and so much older than his twelve years. 

he doesn’t look angry at kix’s argument. he doesn’t even look disappointed. he just looks tired, and that somehow makes it all the more worse. 

kix looks away, to the sterile white floor of medbay, and there’s a desperate sort of shame clutching to his chest, digging its nails into his throat. if he can’t save them - is he a failure as a medic or as a brother?

there’s a long silence between them. 

‘ we weren’t trained for this. ‘ kix’s voice rasps when it breaks the silence, like it hasn’t been used in awhile - or like his throat is rubbed raw from trying to hold back tears. ‘ i can fix broken bones or a blaster bolt hole or do a field patch-up of someone about to go into sepsis from a stomach wound, rex. but what the hell am i supposed to do if - ‘ he’s swallowing, nausea rising. ‘ if a vod wants to swallow his own blaster, rex, there’s not much i can do. ‘

rex is resting forwards now, head in his hands. ‘ i don’t blame you, kix. ‘

( and kix knows, viscerally, the end to that sentence, the unsaid i blame myself, because it’s a staple in clones, almost as much as jango fett’s dna. a brother dead on the field. a general injured. a strategy failed. my fault. if i was just faster. it should’ve been me. )

the coruscant dawn begins to break over the horizon, and for a moment, kix doesn’t feel like a combat medic, or a clone trooper of the republic. he just feels lost, and very, very young. 

Chapter Text

kenobi smells different than he used to. 

cody is sitting in his quarters, face buried in the old jedi cloak he’d been ordered by lord vader to throw into the garbage disposal along with the lightsaber. the alarms blare through the death star, frantic motion through the hallways around cody’s tiny room, but he ignores it all, not moving. 

it’s been years since he’s been cody. the empire knows him as cc-2224, and he’s never bothered correcting them. 

but he’s holding a familiar lightsaber and a jedi cloak, and it doesn’t feel like he could be anyone but. 

obi-wan’s cloak is rougher than it ever was, and smells like the desert sun, but if cody closes his eyes, he can still faintly smell ozone underneath it, like the area around a fallen wire. he pauses and pulls his vibroblade from its spot in his armor, slicing into the thin imperial-issued mattress and shoving aside some of the bare foam mat, to pull out a thin piece of plastoid. 

white, with worn orange paint over it, molded to the back of his hand. 

he’s running his hand over the orange line and taking a deep breath, eyes closing as he presses it to his forehead, sharp klaxon of the alarms still ringing outside. he can guess what might happen, soon. it’s why he doesn’t bother moving, and why he’s comfortable keeping the relics of a dead republic on him. there won’t be consequences from the empire. he won’t be around to receive them.  

the dark hair on the back of his neck prickles up, and he knows, somehow, without raising his eyes, who, impossibly, is watching him, and his shoulders curl inwards in shame in their stormtrooper armor. 

‘ please look away, don’t look at me, sir. i don’t deserve it. ‘

there’s a warm laugh in an all-too-familiar accent that makes cody’s chest ache, and suddenly, he gets the feeling of being enveloped, like someone is wrapping their arms around him or bearing his weight over their shoulder like had happened so many times. 

‘ why shouldn’t you deserve it, commander? ‘

somehow, cody isn’t surprised when he lifts his eyes and sees general kenobi, the same age he’d left him, smiling at him and glowing … blue? 

‘ i betrayed you. ‘ it’s said in a flat tone, cody looking back down, unable to meet his general’s eyes. 

there’s a spectral hand touching his face, somehow lifting his chin, and obi-wan looks at him almost fondly. ‘ through no fault of your own, cody. i don’t blame you for that any more than i could blame you for having jango fett’s face. ‘

cody shuts his eyes again as they sting. 

obi-wan’s voice sounds weary and regretful. ‘ you should get off this battle station, commander. ‘ in his resigned voice, the same one he used when cody and he both knew what the outcome of a battle was likely to be, and when cody opens his eyes and shakes his head with a huff of a laugh, he only looks sad, but like he was expecting that answer. 

‘ i know what’s going to happen. there’s nothing left for me, anyway. nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la. my brothers are all marching far away, obi-wan. i’ve been ready to join them for awhile now. ‘

( there are only a handful of times general kenobi can remember where cody has called him obi-wan. it makes the splitting of his attention, one part of him telling luke to use the force, essentially telling him how to kill cody all that more difficult. )

in the remnants of a destroyed battle station, one of the rebels swears she saw a glimmer of something blue, and another one bets their life day money that they saw two men there for a second, one in battered manda-style armor, the other in jedi robes, holding tight to each other. 

Chapter Text

‘ i challenge you to combat, jedi. ‘

this isn’t an unfamiliar situation for him, unfortunately. being captured, or “captured”, while anakin and his padawan ran off on some escapade and he stalled for time, waiting for them to save the day at the last minute. a familiar situation, being that it’s the … what, fourth time these two months? fifth? unfortunate, because stepping into the opponent’s office, there had been a rock about the size of his chest lobbed at his head, the force giving him just enough warning to avoid it. 

he didn’t trust that offer, not in the slightest. 

right. stalling for time. 

he took one half-step closer to the - what, general? admiral?’s desk, and then two more, circling around slightly like a bird of prey calculating the angle of a dive to scoop up unsuspecting prey, his lightsaber still humming in his hand, and he strokes his beard with his free hand, frowning slightly as if considering it. 

‘ you mean, you’ll put down your rock - ‘ there was another rock in the general’s hand, this time about one and a half times the size of obi-wan’s chest ‘ - and i’ll put down my sword, and we’ll try and kill each other like civilized people? ‘

there wasn’t a word response, just a furious growl, and inside, obi-wan sighed. civilized indeed. do hurry things up, anakin, i haven’t got forever. however, the seperatist did drop the rock, heavy enough to shake the floor they were standing on, and pounded his fist against the palm of his hand. 

obi-wan supposed he ought to return the favor, and he’s bowing deeply, before extinguishing his lightsaber and clipping it to his belt, holding his hands up in a defensive position and internally bemoaning the beating he was about to get. 

the things he does for the order. 

Chapter Text

you are commander fox, to-be-of the coruscant guard. you’ve never seen coruscant, but you sing for it every two day-cycles when you and your brothers chant the vode an, and the clocks on kamino are kept on coruscant time, so you and the other clone commanders all have your own visions of what it looks like. 

( gree says he thinks like it looks like kamino would, in a drought, thousands of thin and narrow buildings growing gracefully like lilypads from what used to be a sea floor. cody is more practical, and says he’s seen holos, that it looks like a city - larger than tipoca, and different. rex knows that coruscant is the center of the republic, and the republic ordered a special-built army; he imagines hundreds of war buildings, about as old as they are. )

( you keep your thoughts to yourself, and not even that - you snap shut the pandora’s box of your imagination and decide to let coruscant speak for itself when you are stationed there. )

you’re named after an animal you’ve never seen, and probably never will, permanently stationed on a planet made from city on top of city on top of city - there’s a rumor told that if you jump down one of the travel shafts at just the right angle, there’s a hole that just goes through the entire planet. 

you’re named fox, and you don’t understand until two things happen. 

one: you meet a fox, in the lap of a senator with strange customs and tastes. 

two: you go to your room after killing a brother. you are a fox. you scream, you scratch, you bite - but it won’t bring him back. 

Chapter Text

kix has had to do this job twice, and each time before, he has silently begged and pleaded to the force or to manda or just whatever good there is out there; never again, please, don’t make me do this again. 

he’s a medic. even as a combat medic, he’s meant to save the lives of his men, not end them. 

( last time was dogma, offering kix his arm for the injection with a look that just looked tired and faintly relieved. )

he knows it the second he sees it, a semi-transparent hypo filled with a calm blue liquid, and there’s a part of him that wants to just take it and throw it across the room so it shattered; but he knew the medical droid would either just replace it or do it itself, so with shaking hands, he picks it up. 

the trooper’s name is maru, and he had had two limbs crushed by a rockfall, kix taking skywalker’s lightsaber from him, deaf to his protests, and amputating them to pull maru free, pressing a hypo to his neck to ease the pain and placing him with the other wounded. 

for nothing. kix might as well have left him to die. 

( he couldn’t, he could never, he had to do everything he could to save them - )

maru doesn’t know, and kix isn’t going to tell him. he can’t. he’s checking maru’s vitals as if it matters, frowning at his blood pressure and gently feeling the stumps where his legs used to be, seeing if the skin is inflamed to the touch, gauging his reactions and seeing if he winces. 

maru pulls a tired grin. 

‘ they’ve not got me down yet, kix. gimme a couple of days and i’ll be back on my feet. ‘ he pauses for a beat, looking down at his stumps that ended around the knee. ‘ well. figuratively speaking. ‘

‘ that’s a terrible joke, ‘ kix says, a low note of despair in his voice, and maru just grins up at him. 

‘ so what’s next? ‘ 

kix holds up the hypo. ‘ quick sedative, put you right under. ‘m sure you don’t want to feel it when they hook you up to a bunch of things to karking get back on your feet. ‘ maru laughs, and the lie feels bitter in kix’s throat, bile and his conscience rising. 

he swallows them both down. 

maru turns his arm towards kix for the hypo, and kix refuses to let his hands shake as he presses the plunger, eyes shutting for a moment, heart turning over. he’s nudging maru with his shoulder, giving him an exasperated smile. 

‘ go on, get some sleep. ‘

Chapter Text

there are always nightmares. 

this time, he’s hanging by puppet strings, tied around his arms, his legs, his torso, and a thick one around his neck, cold and metal and biting into his skin. 

and he’s in the courthouse again, in the seat he was put in days after umbara, helpless as they judge him for his crimes. 

treason. and one of the threads holding up his arms splits. 
you betrayed your brothers. twang! another string breaks, this time one around his thigh. 

they grow in tenor and in sound, listing off dogma’s crimes one after each other, a string breaking with each. until finally, there are only two holding dogma up - the one around his waist and the thick wire about his neck. 

the jury fades to silent, and the witness booth is illuminated. 

fives steps forwards with that look of righteous fury on his face. 

i hope you can live with yourself, dogma, he sneers, and the cord around dogma’s waist snaps, and dogma is falling, with nothing but the rope around his neck to catch him and -

Chapter Text

her padawan reminds her sometimes of eopie eggshells. if you applied constant pressure all around, it was nigh-impossible to break her, but if one specific thing went wrong, if you cracked at a certain spot, it was fragile as - well, eggshells. 

‘ you want me to be dead, ‘ barriss says, eyes darker, inflamed black from crying. ‘ you have since geonosis. you’ve already moved on and mourned me, and now you’re just waiting for me to catch up. ‘

luminara sits cautiously in the bench across from barriss’, in the small cell, grief curling in her heart for a moment, and she breathes, shutting her eyes and driving the feeling past. there is no grief, no misfortune. there is only the force. she reached out to barriss, her padawan jerking away as if the idea of her master touching her is repugnant. 

‘ that’s not what i want. not at all. ‘

she wonders what sort of conversations the coruscant guard must have heard, standing sentinel in front of hundreds of cells and hundreds of communications like this one. some of them had been cut down by her padawan. luminara had their deaths on her, for not noticing. 

no death, only the force. but that would be no consolation to them. they were not jedi. 

‘ you have a funny way of showing it, ‘ barriss spits, and curls away from luminara, refusing to talk again. 

Chapter Text

the kaminoans are tired of this. 

there is no practical purpose, they tell alpha-36, as he stands with a steady face and a hand on the deecee at his hip, between them and the door that used to be fett’s quarters. he just looks right back at them and refuses to move. 

indomitable, just like they made him to be. 

( they eventually give up. it’s not worth the effort or drop in morale that it would take to dispense of or repurpose fett’s room; there are usually a few troopers in or around it for different reasons. )

why? asks boba, with his typical scowl, to thire, when he overhears them talking about it with another trooper. thire looks with an unreadable look down at the - prisoner? vod’ika? 12 year old? bounty hunter? - contemplating the question for a moment. 

he’s saved from really answering the question when the harsh ring of the bell rings to return prisoners to their cells. he gives the only one of them who will ever be truly considered a person a short reply: in case you ever came back. 

it’s not left untouched, per se, but it mostly is. the pantry is where cadets all hide their contraband, and boba’s toys make their way through dozens of different hands, or the same hands over and over, until the paint is worn off and the plastoid is covered in hundreds of iterations of jango fett’s fingerprints. 

there are sheets of flimsi folded and left neatly in two mesh bags of refitted mandalorian beskar - one for jango, one for boba. 

not gone, merely marching far away, is written somewhere on most of jango’s. as well as some of the same questions, over and over. did you care about us? if you were still here, would the bounty hunters and jedi who train us be more careful, less harsh? 

wherever you are now. are you ashamed of the men with your face? are we using your genes, your body, well? are you proud of us?

occasionally, there’s a scribbled over buir. 

( boba’s mostly come from the cadets, especially after the incident with windu’s ship, and come with questions harder to answer and bitter in tone. why do you get to be a person? why did he choose you? )

they collect there for years. in case you ever came back. 

tipoca city is empty now; the kaminoans have moved on from the crime scene of their greatest success or worst failure, depending on your views. the last of the clones were shipped off to the emperor recently, and everything is a cool white, the power off in most of it. 

most of it. 

in one room, a light flickers back in, and a young man sets down a green helmet in the manda style, and sits on the bed, rubbing his dark golden eyes tiredly. 

Chapter Text

‘ i’m no jedi. ‘

he doesn’t even realize, really, how hard he throws the spear until he sees the effects of it - it’s not even a sharp weapon, but it splinters right through the slaver’s ribs and the rotten hole where his heart would be, and goes out the other side of the chair, and when rex looks down later, he sees that his knuckles were so tightly clenched that he dug little crescent-moon shaped cuts into the meat of his palm. 

general kenobi doesn’t comment on it. 

( neither he nor tano nor skywalker comments on anything about him being there; he sees skywalker and kenobi talking softly off to the side, skywalker supporting kenobi, who walks with a slight limp, and sparring with tano to help her get out her anger and fury, and some of his own, kenobi being a comfort for skywalker, talking him through all the bad that surfaced. )

but rex is given a pat on the back and a well, we all lived to fight another day, and it’s left at that. the scars from the lashes on his back don’t go away. neither do the comments from the zygerrian queen, brief and in passing. this isn’t new to you, is it? 

her claws grabbing his wrist and turning it over, revealing just where the kaminoans marked their product with ultraviolet tattoos, as if she knew, her mouth curved in a smile. i thought not, ct-7567. 


another voice, bellowing that, and a finger the size of his wrist, prodding him so hard in the chest he nearly stumbles backwards. 

in a lot of ways, there’s some sort of parallel, here. 

you’re shaking. aren’t you? / it’s not the jedi way to kill an unarmed man. 

then, his hands had shaken, and so had his resolve. then, someone else had paid the price for it, dogma’s eyes wide with fear and fingers curled around the stolen gun, his name marked with a cold decommissioned on the roster three days later. 

the victor spoils, the loser learns. 

rex had learned. 

there was no shaking in his hand this time, as he tosses the spear forward.

Chapter Text


Chapter Text

the kid’s eyes look too old. 

he stands out in the rank of touring cadets - in two straight lines of wide golden eyes and grins of awe at their older brothers in white armor, all of them marching in time, there’s one cadet walking like he needs to watch over his shoulder, his steps slightly out of sync with jax and hotshot and the others, and his eyes dark and purposeful. 

he only stands out a little bit more as the tour goes on, excelling in the questions routinely asked to keep the cadets on their feet, and being by far the best shot of the group - his precision would rival that of some veterans rex knew. 

so he pulls the cadet to the side. possible commander material, to be noted, and the cadet looks almost panicked at that. 

what’s your name, son?

something about that stabs through the kid, rex can see, his eyes widening minutely and flinching, refusing to make eye contact with rex. lucky. they call me lucky, sir. 

rex sits down beside him heavily, ignoring the suspicious look the kid gives him, tensed up as though he’s about to run. in my experience, you’re only as lucky as your expectations are low. 

lucky’s hands curl into small fists. does it seem like my expectations are low, sir? 

rex sighs, pulling his helmet onto his lap and tracing over the jaig eyes, holding it out to lucky, who looked at it, brow furrowing. i got given these by the original himself, when i was just a little older than you are now, lucky. he thought i’d been mandokarla enough to earn them. 

sir? lucky asks, wary - but rex notices that his golden eyes are looking at him now, almost pleading.

i met his son about then. boba. cute kid - he looked like one of the younger cadets, but … like he’d been cared for. he wanted to wear my helmet when he saw that his father’d drawn these on, and i let him. always wondered where that kid ended up.  

lucky looks tense again, and rex sighs. 

what about you, lucky? where do you think you’re going to end up when you become a trooper, eh? 

there’s a bomb in general windu’s room, lucky blurts out, hunched over and not looking rex in the eyes, cheeks flushed red with shame, and it looks like he could panic at any moment. rex remains calm, and rests a hand on his shoulder. 

i see. thank you for telling me. come on, lucky. let’s go tell general windu what you found, huh? 

lucky’s, boba’s, eyes widen, but he nods silently. 

Chapter Text

‘ i lost a lot of good men, cody. ‘

they’re sitting around a mess table in the gar official base on coruscant, both of them with their hands wrapped around mugs of caf dark as engine oil, and just about as appetizing. but it’s warm, and it keeps you going, so they’re grateful enough for it. 

fox takes a sip of it blankly, and he looks at something past cody, his eyes haunted. 

( they’re both just in their blacks. if it weren’t for the experience heavy in their eyes and the way no one else sits at their table, it would be hard to guess that they were commanders at all. though, cody muses, maybe no one sits at their table because there really isn’t anyone left. thorn’s men, the temple bombing, offee breaking into the prison … there are too many empty tables. )

‘ how are they doing? ‘ 

it’s cody speaking, softly, reaching across the table to rest a hand on fox’s wrist, squeezing gently, fox doesn’t flinch away, but he doesn’t look up, either - cody thinks he might just be too burnt out to respond. he wraps fox’s caf mug with the back of his knuckles, and it’s like fox takes to the prompting blindly, lifting it to his mouth and swallowing without seeing it or tasting it. 

‘ your men, fox. how are they doing? ‘

fox shrugs with one shoulder, taking another gulp of caf before setting the mug down, resting his forehead on his crossed arms on the table, and a low, ragged breath comes out of him, before talking softly. 

‘ you’d know. a jedi killed our own. it’s … hard to cope with. they’ve lost so many at once. ‘ he’s lifting his head slightly, just to shake it. ‘ most of them are dealing, though. not the first time they’ve lost vod’e. the two shinies in our unit, though … it hit them hard. ‘

cody exhales hard, like he’d been hit in the chest. 

‘ how old? ‘

‘ beetle’s just about nine. been here for - a month and a half? tamn’s been here longer, but the kid’s not even eight, yet. they shouldn’t be off kamino, even, let alone dealing with all of this fierfeking - ‘ he’s resting his head in his hands, scrubbing violently at his eyes with the butt of his palms as if he can wash this all away like the fleeting memories of a bad dream. 

cody sips at his caf for something to do. 

‘ where are they? ‘

fox sighs, and his hands drop back to the table, and he spreads them slightly, before picking up the bitter dregs of his caf and swilling them. cody passes his half-full mug over to the other commander without comment, and fox takes it with something like gratitude. 

‘ tamn’s in the hospital. ‘ he holds up a hand when cody starts to ask, jolting forwards with a look of concern. ‘ not wounded. he’ll be fine. just … a shock to his system, i’d say. beetle is - ‘ he gestures with his mug. ‘ she’s been taking overtime shifts. you know how shinies get. ‘ the next word is said ruefully over the rim of the mug. ‘ bora’echoyli. ‘ 

mourning job. grief-inspired, often after the first death shinies would see that would really hit them. it should have been me. working and working and working to the bone, so you could make sure that next time you could help, or that at the very least, next time it would be you, and not your brother or sister. )

cody nodded.

he’s rubbing his own eyes and getting up, taking fox’s empty mug to clear it away for his friend. fox looks up at him, wariness in his eyes. 

‘ where are you going? ‘

cody tries to smile, but his stomach is turning over, and he just feels …tired. tired and sick and sad. eight years old. she should still be on kamino, not taking a third or fourth shift because she feels guilty about some ex-jedi killing her vod’e. ‘ fox, i’ve … had experience in consoling shinies after some hut’uun with a lightsaber and a false sense of justice wiped through their brothers. i’m one of the few commanders who has. ‘ 

( neither of them voices it, but they’re both acknowledging, silently, that there’s that and - anything from the 501st might not be welcome, right now. )

he finds beetle three guard posts later, in full-red shiny armor, with a small beetle painted in white on one of her shoulder pauldrons, and tells her quietly that her shift is over. 

( she looks like she wants to argue - cody knows the look, even if a vod’s face is underneath their armor - but cody is a commander, and so she complies, pulling off her helmet and following him. ) 

they take three turns, and both sink to the floor, backs resting on the hallway walls, as if in sync. 

she barely hits the ground before she starts sobbing, graceless and ugly and dry, knees pulled to her chest and wailing, sobs overlapping and catching in her chest, and cody switches sides of the hall to sit next to her, back of his hand bumping hers, and once her crying has eased up, he presses their forehead together. 

mourning, solidarity. a keldabe kiss. 

( it doesn’t matter if this is the first time he’s met this younger vod. they’re vod’e, and this is a burden she shares with him, now. he will help, if he can. )

Chapter Text

protect this information. 

it’s flashed across the screens of the room they’re currently in, and after, a series of numbers pops up - coordinates, maybe? the four of them all scan the information, and the screens go blank, and two minutes later, a keypad pops out for each of them, to ensure they remember the numbers they’re meant to.

each of them gets them down perfectly. they’ve been trained to remember important information, after all. 

there’s a brief ding! to show that they’ve gotten it all right, the keypads retract into the wall, and they shift back instinctively, standing back to back to back to back as a calm robotic female voice fills the room. 

‘ deliver this information to base c, which will be located on the maps on your holos. once the information is delivered correctly, the simulation will end. if captured and interrogated about the information, do not divulge it, or you will fail automatically, and have to repeat this process from the beginning. ‘ 

the cadets look between themselves nervously - one of the trainers had looked almost regretful, sending them into this, and the talk of interrogation didn’t make it any easier. 

there’s another soft ding! and four square tiles light up in separate parts of the room, each one labeled with one of their designations. this was a common enough part of testing that they didn’t even need the prompter telling them what to do, though the calm voice rings out anyway. 

the room shifts, and the door opens out into one of the sim rooms, eerily still for the time being. the voice sounds out again. 

‘ ct-5381, step forwards. ‘ 

dogma looks anxiously at his batchers - tup, pip, crease, who look right back at him with similar expressions. they’ve done everything as a group, thus far. but they have their orders, so after another second, dogma steps forwards to the line illuminated on the floor. 

tup gasps a second later, because two commando droids rise up out of the floor, turned towards dogma, guns leveled at him, and pip starts forwards, only to be zapped back into place by inplacements on the floor. to the other sides and in front, there are also suddenly droids, and dogma, ever the good soldier, immediately moves to shoot at them, but he’s completely surrounded. 

he manages to take out two of them before he’s shot in the back, slumping forwards, and the commando droids disarm him, two of them taking him by the elbows and walking back off towards the citadel building while the rest of his squad watches in horror. 

the droids ( and dogma ) disappear from view, before the voice sounds again with a small chime, the illuminated squares fading from view. 

‘ deliver the information. ‘ 

dogma wakes up with his hands in binders, in a sterile-grey room that could be in any part of kamino, and the trainer program voice sounds out again, a little less broadly this time. 

‘ if captured and interrogated about the information, do not divulge it, or you will fail automatically, and have to repeat this process from the beginning. you have your orders, ct-5381. protect the information. ‘

almost the moment the voice’s message finishes, a medical droid steps into the room, in the seperatist design. 

‘ give us the information we need, clone, and you will not come to harm. ‘

saying no is easy for dogma, almost laughably so, and he very nearly does laugh in the droid’s face. there’s a mechanical laugh coming from it, low and eerie. ‘ i was hoping you’d say that. ‘

and that’s where things stop taking a path dogma can predict. another droid enters the room with a tray holding two large canisters of a luminescent yellow liquid and an empty syringe. titroxinate, a part of his brain supplies helpfully. used by the seppies as a torture drug - doesn’t leave permanent physical effects. 

his eyes widen as a second later, it hits him. wait, the kaminoans wouldn’t really - they’re just bluffing, right? they wouldn’t actually - 

they would. 

he screams so loudly the first three times that his squadmates almost hear it, even out in the sim chamber as they are, and they pause for a moment, looking between each other with worry-lined faces, before continuing to push forwards. 

‘ you decide when this ends, ‘ the droid tells him coldly, filling up the needle again. dogma’s head is slumped against his chest, and he can’t stop shaking, hair matted against his forehead with sweat and his jaw aching from how hard he’s clenched his teeth together. ‘ give us the information. ‘

dogma looks up, golden eyes wavering. ‘ i’ll tell you something. ‘ 

the droid inches closer, setting the needle down on the tray. if it had a proper face, dogma could swear he was able to read amusement on it. ‘ go on. ‘

he grins, broad and wide and sharp and completely devoid of humor, face still pallid, but eyes that were clearly jango fett’s at this moment shining out of it, set in determination. ‘ go kark yourself. i’m not giving you shit. ‘

the droid stares at him for a long, silent moment. ‘ i see. ‘ he turns to the other droid, the one holding the tray. ‘ a double dose this time, 371bai-c. ‘

to dogma’s credit, it takes another two injections before his eyes well over. 

pip is holding his arm to his chest, unlucky enough to have gotten a shot to it, but he’s not out of the test yet - the base is just within sight. he and crease cover tup, the fastest runner of the three of them, as tup breaks for the base, and, diving-skidding to a stop, dodging a few errant blaster bolts, types in the numbers they’d been told to remember when the keypad comes up, and for a heart-stopping second, nothing happens. 

but then, there’s a click! and the droids all power down, the keypad folding back into the wall. 

‘ congratulations, aurek squad. on both fronts, you have passed this simulation. ‘ 

a door opens to the side of the base, and dogma steps out, pale and still shivering, his eyes unfocused, and his squad runs to him, concerned. ‘ you alright, vod? what happened to you? ‘ it’s all he can do to nod, before he sinks to the ground, arms wrapping around his knees. 

later that night, when he tells them, the four squadmates all climb to his bed-pod and sit next to him, wrapping close to him in reassurance that it wasn’t real. in real life, he’d never be left alone. 

not a one of them voices the thought that it must be a possibility, else they wouldn’t’ve been trained for it. 

Chapter Text

bodhi is pulled out of the orphanages of jedha; imperial propaganda will say, of course, that he is one of the many who chose to give his service to a noble cause, but the truth of the matter is; he is ten years old and skinny and wide-eyed, and the stormtroopers are faceless and so much taller than he, and one of them crouches down by him when they see him staring and tells him that there will be food and pilot training if he comes with them. 

he is ten years old and skinny and hungry and doesn’t know, then, that he is signing away his life when he signs bodhi on the line on the holopad the stormtrooper with the orange pauldron offers him impersonally. 

some of the men who teach him have the same face. 

( they’re not meant to see the stormtroopers with their helmets off. they are all cogs of a whole; officers and cargo pilots and armored troopers and maintenance workers, but there is little to no interaction between the castes allowed by the empire. camaraderie leads to hope leads to rebellion; everything remains faceless and impersonal. )

( except it doesn’t, not totally. )

some of the men who teach him have the same face and the same wiry white hair and the same tired looking golden eyes and bodhi thinks they get older too fast and tells them that, and they laugh, patting him on the shoulder and calling him shiny. 

they teach him how to fly and how to play sabacc and adjust his flight goggles and how the blaster weight is slightly unbalanced and how to handle the recoil. he overhears stories from them, too; stories from the war-before-this. he saw a jedi once, when he was almost too small to remember, but they say they fought alongside them. 

cc-2224 calls himself cody, and calls cc-4477 thire, and gives bodhi the name rook, affectionately, has called him rookie for fifteen years now, and when bodhi officially becomes an adult and a pilot for the empire, it’s what is written on his identification. bodhi rook. 

it’s thire who asks him for his clearance codes, when galen sends him off, and thire who sees the panicked look in his eyes; bodhi has never been a good liar, and thire knows it. 

bodhi doesn’t have a clearance code, but thire types one in anyway, and says in the same bored voice used for any other dismissal that his identification has gone through, that his code is operable, and bodhi’s heart is in his throat as he takes the message and flies. 

may the force be with him now, cody whispers, when thire tells him, later. 


Chapter Text

wolffe has the reassurance of a world outside of kamino; knows jango well enough that tired, once, he slipped up and called him buir, saw the bounty hunter stiffen, but he didn’t deny the title, just rested a hand over wolffe’s where they clutched onto the gun and lowered them, stating that that was enough training for the day - you boys had best be getting some sleep, good shooting today.

he knows jango, and jango isn’t kaminoan, he is mando’ade just like they learn to be, and he sometimes lets them see bits and pieces of that, wherever he can.

( ponds caught him once in the kaminoan library, humming a tune over and over again and scribbling out some words on flimsi, and ponds was the first one to hear the vode an as a song, and with the written in strength-of-coruscant, rather than of-mandalore. )  

it’s jango who teaches them the word echoy’aim, when kote - later, he will be called cody, obi-wan’s smooth accent fumbling with the harshness of mando’a - says quietly that he feels homesick, almost, for a place he’s never been. 

jango calls it echoy’aim and calls it diaspora and tells them that it’s just something all old mandalorians have to bear one day, forced to be as much a part of their culture now as is fighting, as is teaching, as is mando’a.

the guardians of the whills say that the strongest stars have hearts of kyber, and perhaps that is true. 

but they are mando’ade and they are resilient, and their hearts are forged from beskar, even if their bodies were built on kamino. 

Chapter Text

‘ are they out there? ‘

ponds turns, looks, a little surprised, at the cadet up way past sleep-hours, sitting cross-legged before one of the transparisteel windows, looking out into the pouring rain solemnly. 

( ponds is - 9? 10? he’ll have to ask jango tomorrow - and ready to head out from kamino - jango trained the alphas who helped jango train him and his batchmates, and ponds has a commander title to his name and armor still-shiny from never being off kamino. )

ponds knows there is a world out there, because there is a ache in his heart for a home lost to him, and he reaches absently for the beskar dog tags that jango made with the help of the alphas for ponds and his batchers, all the command stock. 

this cadet, about four years old, doesn’t have that, and ponds sits next to him heavily, crossing his legs and looking out into the rain along with him. ‘ are who out there? ‘

the cadet, with golden eyes almost vibrant enough they glow in the darkened hallway and slicked-back hair, presses a small hand to the window, looking up and out. ‘ the republic. are they really out there? ‘ 

ponds huffs out a sigh and lifts up an arm, and the cadet scoots in against his side, leaning on him and still looking out. ‘ of course they are, vod’ika. remember? you’ve been taught in your classes about coruscant and naboo and the jedi. they’re out there. ‘ 

the cadet’s eyes fall from the window, look down at the floor, and their small shoulders hunch. his voice is small when he speaks next, almost drowned out by the kaminoan rain. ‘ then why haven’t they come for us? did we do something wrong? ‘

ponds aches for the look in those eyes, and runs a hand over the cadet’s hair, soothing. ‘ easy, vod’ika. you haven’t done anything wrong. it’s just not time yet. they’ll be here for us. i promise. ‘ 

the two of them watch the rain pour down, and the next day, there’s a red ship landing, with a man with a strange accent, the first jedi to see them in years. 


Chapter Text

‘ minimal casualties on our end, ‘ cody says over the comms to shaak ti, the words bitter in his throat. ‘ we lost two men. ‘

it’s kamino. it’s their home - they shouldn’t die here, not fighting the seperatists, it should be safe here. but among the droid parts and bits of charges that scatter the floors of the barracks, there are two crumpled bodies, with - not with jango fett’s face, cody thinks, however the holos may describe the vod’e. with their own faces, dying in their own fight. 

‘ thank you, commander cody. ‘ shaak ti’s calm voice comes through the comms, sonorous as ever, ringing even through the static of their basic gauntlet comms. 

we lost two men. 

such an emotionless way of saying it. 

fives and echo and rex are clustered around one body, and the cadets they had picked up on the way encircling another. 


most of the cadets. 

five cadets had walked into the barracks with fives, echo, and 99. fives and echo take four cadets back to rejoin their group later. 

he never got a name, hotshot whispers, shaking his brother’s shoulder as if that could wake him up, young voice cracking. bile had risen in cody’s throat for a moment - the body was too small. it shouldn’t be pierced through with a blaster bolt. but this is the truth of it, isn’t it? for them, nowhere is safe. for them - no age is safe. )

( even when they come up to waist height, they must be soldiers. )

there’s a mass pyre, later - it takes them three containers of fuel and kamino’s driest docking station to get the fire started, pulling the plastoid armor carefully off of their brothers before placing them onto the pyre - someone is playing a bes’bev, and there’s a low murmur of not gone, just marching far away echoing, bouncing off the support beams. 

‘ he should have a name, ‘ jax says, setting his jaw, as cody carries the unnamed cadet’s body out to the pyre, and cody’s eyes soften slightly, looking at the small form in his arms. 

he looks out over the pyre, at the brothers finding each other alive and holding onto each other, to the cadets with their solemn eyes and soft faces looking up at the ash floating into the sky. 

‘ we’ll call him parjai, ‘ cody says to jax, softly, the cadets helping him set their dead batcher onto the pyre. 


but at what price?

Chapter Text

‘ all we have is yours, ‘ dogma says quietly to him, jango’s face remaining impassive. ‘ everything that makes us us. our genes, our armor, our language, our values, our skills, our stories, our accents. it’s all yours. ‘

dogma is eight years old. ( dogma, by republic standards, is a clone trooper, and therefore, even if he was still four or thirteen or six, he would be tried as a clone, and often killed like one. )

‘ would you be proud of me? ‘ he asks jango, and there’s no response, dogma blinking quickly to prevent his eyes from stinging. he’s … too young, really, to have ever met their original. all he has is a fleeting memory once, of legs too short to walk without falling, and running straight into a massive leg, and a man who picked him up - at the time, he’d thought it was one of his brothers. 

the man had run a hand over his curly hair and called him verd’ika, little soldier, and told him to always keep his eyes forwards. 

that’s all dogma has. they don’t have fathers or mothers or homes; dogma has a growth tube now being used to grow a new embryonic clone, and a fleeting baby-memory of a man he never saw again, and his battered armor, in 501st blue. and even that belongs to jango in some extent - the 501st was the initial clone company, first led by alpha-17. their armor color is based off of jango’s beskar’gem. 

dogma hopes he would be proud of him. 

( sometimes, on worse days, where he hasn’t left the corner of his cell or he’s clawed at the skin of his arms to the point of bleeding again, he thinks he’d just settle for anyone being proud of him, these days. )

‘ do you think, ‘ he starts, and hesitates, his voice shaking. ‘ do you think i’m a failure, or that just my actions are? ‘ he’s looking down, avoiding meeting jango’s eyes. ‘ do you think i even deserve a second chance? ‘ 

jango doesn’t answer. 

dogma wasn’t really expecting him to. 

he sighs and blinks, and jango is gone. dogma presses his fingertips to the surface of the mirror softly, exhaling. he might have jango’s face, but he doesn’t have any of the answers his progenitor might be able to give. 

he’s looking away from the glass, turning on the water and beginning to wash his face. 

Chapter Text

‘ sir? you’ll want to come see this. ‘ 

windu is up and out of his tent in a fraction of a second; he’s been with the clones for all of a few weeks now, and they’re men of business, efficient and line-form and kamino-made, and they wouldn’t wake him up ( well. wake him up would imply he was doing more in the means of sleep than staring up at the roof of his tent ) without a reason for it. 

his lightsaber’s a fraction of a second from activated when he realizes there’s no … urgency in his men, none of that tug-to-danger he’s noted they feel when they reach for their guns and walkers with a lethal efficiency that sometimes leaves a chill down his spine. 

have we made men or weapons? he asked yoda once, watching them drill, and his old master just shook his head, mood unreadable to windu. )

but … there’s no urgency, no adrenaline-rush fear, not even the sharp to-attention mood they have when there’s a commanding officer at deck or they’re receiving orders. instead, there’s just … awe. 

for one of the first times, he’s seeing them without their helmets, all of them discarded by feet or tucked safely under arms or cradled against chests like a child’s comfort animal, and it takes him a second to realize that the odd thing about that isn’t seeing them without their helmets, it’s that he can see them at all. 

it should be the dead of night, after all, so why does it seem like the sun is out?

the light wavers and fluctuates and flickers, and windu follows his commander’s eyes and his raised hand up to the sky duly, and even his eyes widen imperceptibly for what he sees. 

maybe he should’ve checked the star charts, seen that given this planet’s location, there would be several supernovae visible tonight, but there’s something very different about seeing that in mathematical equation and seeing it happen. 

‘ the stars are going out, ‘ whispers the trooper by his shoulder - no, whispers ponds, his name is ponds, and mace realizes, with a startle, that none of them have jango fett’s face, anymore. ponds and stak and razor and punchline - illuminated by the light of dying stars, they’re all so clearly their own. 

Chapter Text

ponds wakes up with his head on fire.

not literally, of course, though it wouldn’t be the weirdest thing that’s happened today, and he had been on fire when all this started - his kama is still singed, in places, last time he’d seen it. no, his head just - burns, like a sunny day on mustafar, and he barely manages to creak open his eyes before his stomach heaves in protest and he’s forced to close them again. 

if this is the manda, it’s kind of shit. 

( what happened last? boba, there had been boba, all child’s grief and anger and pain, and then seeing the holo of his general, the barrel of a blaster poking him in the back of the head, and a terrible pause, and then everything had gone black, and then cold, cold, and silent - )

where was he now, then? was he dead? he had to be dead. 

it takes him a good few more minutes to groan and open his eyes even up to slits, and he sees someone almost familiar sitting next to him, at the controls of whatever ship he’s in - he’s in a ship? - now, purposefully not looking at him. 

for a moment, ponds thinks it’s cody. 

but - the armor is blue, and the man doesn’t have rex’s blonde hair. and come to think of it, he looks too old to be cody. and there’s no scar. he’s a bit more filled-out, a bit more suspicious or paranoid in his gestures, and his skin is - oh. 

ponds doesn’t know how he manages it, but he pushes himself to sit upright, staring at the dead man in front of him. 

jango doesn’t acknowledge him for a good few beats, punching something into the computer, and when he eventually speaks, it still doesn’t quite feel like it’s to ponds, jango not looking up at him. 

‘ thought you boys promised me you were never going to die on your knees. ‘ 


Chapter Text

he’s still not going to get over the beard being gone. 

it’s been a good few weeks since the rako hardeen thing, and general kenobi looks like… well, anyone but general kenobi, missing the swooping ginger hair and distinctive beard, hair currently short to his head and closer to a light brown. 

it means he and cody ( or some of the other 212th ) ends up running recon or spy missions a lot of the time, taking advantage of general kenobi looking like a complete stranger. cody isn’t specially trained in undercover missions, and he doesn’t actually think he’s any good at them, but that’s not stopped his general from taking him on - this is the fourth, so far, where it’s just been the two of them. 

they’re sitting on opposite sides of a table in an outdoor cafe, kenobi lounging in a way that made him appear almost feline in nature, all easy grace and eyes that wandered but with confidence and a sort of regality. which is also sort of feline - it’s a look like he is ruler of all he surveys, and he knows this, but at the moment, it’s too much of an inconvenience to act on it. 

‘ you’re staring, cody. ‘ 

‘ hm? simply playing the part, ben. ‘

( it’s the name they’ve gone with for several of these, which has led to two separate occasions of a very tired cody calling kenobi ‘beneral’, which has sent commander tano into fits of glee both times. cody doesn’t get paid enough for this damn job. )

there’s a smile rolling across kenobi’s face in the same lazy way that storm clouds breach the horizon; at once a subtle progression and just suddenly there. 

( and, like an oncoming storm, it usually meant some kind of trouble was coming with it, the pessimistic side of cody tacked on. a deeper part of cody, one he was currently vehemently trying to ignore, tacked on that also like an oncoming storm, cody found it beautiful. )

kenobi leans forwards, acting as if he were about to stroke his beard and then frowning, resting his chin on his hand and propping his elbow on the table. as always, he’s magnetizing to cody, who leans back in a little bit without even really noticing it. 

‘ remember, we’re madly in love, so it’s all right to kiss me anytime you feel like it . ‘ 

he’s saying it with that sophisticated accent; a little bit of a drawl and rounded-out vowels, and he’s saying it with an uplift to his mouth; he’s teasing. cody thinks it’s secondhand nature for the man to flirt; he does it without noticing he’s doing it, easy as talking. 

for once, though, it’s his turn to surprise his general. 

( he can tell it’s a surprise because he’s suddenly so very close to kenobi’s eyes, and sees every minute detail of them widening, the dark flecks that seemed to fade in and out with the light and the steel in them. )

( he can tell it’s a surprise because he feels the sharp intake of kenobi’s breath as their mouths press together, and for a moment he feels like laughing, because it seems almost like obi-wan is taking the air from his lungs. there’s irony in there, somewhere. )

it was a surprise; teasing and cody’s push back, their back-and-forth dynamic. 

it should end with cody pulling back and the both of them laughing, resuming the conversation about the plans they’re here to find.

it should end with some propriety; he is a general and he is a commander and they are halves of a whole but not so like this; he is a jedi and he is a clone and they are different levels, he is not allowed attachments and he is not a person, and - 

it should end there. 

( it doesn’t. )

Chapter Text

it’s stupid, he tells himself, shucking off his boots and climbing up into the umbaran bunk, swallowing the unease down as best he could. he’s not a cadet anymore, he’s a soldier, and he’ll carry himself like one. 

but it just reminded him of -

sitting in the mess hall, and brothers clustering around him, but always sitting alone, even if he got there first, even if he sat closest to the food or viewscreen or another advantageous seat usually fought for. the one time he just felt desperately lonely, and rested his head in his hands, sniffing back tears. 

his squad, in their bed tubes, giggling and talking, and him opening his up, just to find them all suddenly pretending to be asleep. he slides back into the wall and pretends to ignore the whispering and laughing that starts back up as soon as he leaves. 

sitting in a corner of the training grounds during free time and reading through a holo; he never learned how to interact with his brothers so why bother trying it now?

sitting in the ‘fresher for too long, arms curled around his knees and rocking back and forth, not sure how to describe what he’s feeling right now, but that it aches. ( he’s starving for touch; the kaminoans raise clones to be a tightly-knit group, easily physical and interacting with one another as easy as breathing - unfortunately, a pariah is built just as reliant on that touch, that communication )

somewhere along the line, when he wasn’t there, there were rules set up, and he feels like he’s always left out of it. he’d get disappointed looks or disgusted ones when he followed the orders or instructions they were given, and there were jokes he was never in on, games he didn’t know the rules to. 

he thought the 501st was going to be different. 

general skywalker smiles at him and tells him to get some rest, and dogma, still with some of the shiny not rubbed off him, immediately responds i’m fine. that’s something they’re meant to do, right? try and look tough? and rex translates it for him, puts a hand on his shoulder and says the general’s giving you an order, dogma, and that makes sense. 

and fives, too, offering to take dogma under his wing while two of the old 501sters did the same for tup - and he does. he has friends in the 501st, but he stands with dogma and talks to him and chooses to. 

but then he’s following the orders like he should like he should and he can feel them drawing back like they always do but he doesn’t know what to do outside of them because what if he chooses wrong - 

jesse clears his throat. ‘ here comes dogma. ‘ his name, turned again into an insult, something said in a bitter tone or with a sneer. 

he’s fine. it’s fine. he’ll just do better tomorrow. 

Chapter Text

it takes rex a minute to untangle what dogma’s saying. hell, it takes him a solid few seconds to realize that dogma’s saying anything, period, face muffled where it rests on top of his crossed arms on top of his knees, and speaking in an incoherent jumble of basic and mando’a. 

‘ calm down, it’s okay, dogma. it’s okay. breathe. ‘ he’s sitting besides dogma, careful to leave a good few inches of space between them, thinking that might’ve been what set him off in the first place. ‘ you’re here. on the resolute. it’s okay. it’s okay. ‘

( kark, but he has no idea what he’s doing. bits and pieces he’s picked up from experience, shinies waking up screaming in the middle of the night or suddenly becoming aggressive and snapping or crying at seemingly harmless things. trauma, kix voiced once quietly to rex, both of them sitting on upper bunks in an empty barracks. )

that’s impossible, he’d replied, voice mechanical, this as much of a script as the briefing he’d give every week and a half, or the times they’d chant the vode an on kamino. we were built to withstand any trauma. )

clearly not the case. 

dogma is quieting now, breathing coming in wheezes but slowing down, head still resting on his knees and shoulders hunched in on himself. rex waits another few minutes until dogma seems to have regained himself enough to talk. 

‘ what’s the matter, dogma? ‘

dogma’s swallowing, lifting his head slightly and moving his hand, chewing on the side of it as if he didn’t even realize he was doing it. he’s gathering himself, glancing at rex almost as if he’s afraid of him. 

‘ there’s too much. ‘ 

it’s said softly, hugging his knees to his chest. 

‘ i’m with the group, and … i want to. i want to be with you and be friends with the company, and sometimes i want it so bad it hurts. and … the same thing for touch, too, sir - i want to be close and i just want to be held sometimes, even if that sounds ridiculous, but sometimes, i just … ‘

he’s drifting off, looking at rex as though he’s afraid, and rex just looks steadily back at him, making it clear that he’s listening without judging. 

‘ sometimes it’s just overwhelming. suddenly it’s too much noise, or people are suddenly too close or i can’t handle being in a crowded room anymore and i just - i don’t know how to deal with it and i hate it. how am i going to get back into things again if i can’t even be in the same room as my vod’e? ‘

rex carefully reaches out a hand, resting it on dogma’s shoulder, gentle and non-intrusive enough to signal that dogma can shift his hand off his shoulder if it makes him uncomfortable. 

‘ hey. it’s okay. you just got out of … basically constant solitary confinement. things might be overwhelming for a bit, compared to that level of sensory deprivation. just take it as much as you can, dogma. we’ll get there. ‘

Chapter Text

there are a few things that do make sense to dogma. 

there’s a low searing pain below his chin. when he blinks open his eyes, there’s white light, painful and too-bright, and he’s letting his eyelids drift shut again. his heart aches, like it has since umbara, guilt sitting like a physical object on his chest and compressing his ribs, making it hard to breathe, lungs struggling. 

that’s it. 

there are many more things that don’t make sense. 

there’s a light pain in the crook of his elbow that he knows from experience to be an iv. there’s a faint smell of bacta. someone is holding his hand, squeezing just a little bit too tight - he realizes their hand is shaking. when he cracks open his eyes again, he realizes that the white light isn’t … ethereal, so to speak, but mundane; the lights of the medbay. 

it’s the first thing he says, voice creaky and unused. 

‘ why am i not dead? i should be dead. ‘

there’s a thrum of activity around him, and whoever’s holding his hand clenches it even harder for a moment, before there’s a soft voice addressing him - kix. even if he can’t see them right now, even if they all have the same accent and voicebox, he knows it’s kix. 

‘ dogma. are you alright? do you know where you are? do you know who i am? ‘

he’s responding duly; they’re seeing if he’s suffered a head injury, this is procedure. this, he knows how to do. ‘ medbay. kix. ‘

he’s pausing, and asks it again. 

‘ why am i not dead? i should be dead. ‘

there’s shifting, and he can begin to see blurry figures; he can even guess at who they might be. to his side, connected to the hand holding his; kix. standing by him with shoulders broader than the rest of them and a streak of bright silver-gold at head height; rex. no dark hair - hardcase? no, hardcase was dead, it had to be jesse. 

one of his brothers steps forward and speaks a bit grimly, when none of them seem to want to answer him. ( burning voice. fives. )

‘ the gun was set to stun, dogma. kix was worried you might try something like this, so we’ve all been carrying our heat packs and our guns separately. ‘

dogma’s eyes squeeze shut again. 

‘ why am i not dead? i should be dead. ‘

this time, he doesn’t mean it in a logistics manner, cause and effect ( i shot myself, why isn’t there a hole in my brain ) but more … pained, personal.  

he betrayed them, he failed, he was too - the word that came to mind was di’kutla, useless/stupid/worthless - to notice that krell was using him, he had turned his gun on his brothers even after krell had cut some of them down, he had stolen a gun from his commanding officer and later from his medic - he should be dead, they should just let him die and -

‘ not yet, brother. not yet. ‘

kix lets go of his hand, and a few seconds later, dogma feels something cold flowing through his iv, and everything fades to black again. 

Chapter Text

something to be said for kamino: if i had died in the days where i was stuck there, i would never have noticed. there was just that omnipresent white, and the paralytic working its way out of my body, and the low thrum of pain - it took me three days as it was to realize that i wasn’t strapped down anymore.

( that was when the medical droid came in, impartially tested my blood and turned me over like i was an inconvenient rug it needed to sweep over. it cleaned up where i’d pissed myself, and left again. i realized that it had turned me over, and also that there wasn’t a bedpan there anymore - i hadn’t had anything but nutrition injections or an iv for months now, so my body didn’t have much to give up, anyway. )

even after i realized i wasn’t strapped down, or paralyzed anymore, it took me even longer to actually move again, like my body had forgotten. why bother struggling, when it got you nowhere, only brought more pain, and there was no dignity to it?

( i tried, of course i did, some of the worse days, but all i could ever manage was rocking from side to side slightly and trying to cross my arms over my chest to no avail. )

( i figured that i might’ve become dar’manda anyway, for what i had done. maybe i didn’t even have the right to fight back against it anymore, didn’t have the right to try and be mandokarla or claim that i was trying to stay true to being a trooper or mando’ad by fighting back. it doesn’t make sense, but nothing really felt like it did, then. )

the first thing i managed to do was roll onto my stomach, and almost an hour later, prop myself up with my arms a little, before i collapsed and just lay there. it felt like i was having to learn to walk all over again - pushing myself into a crawl, using the wall to slowly stand up, and eventually being able to stagger across the room.

my body didn’t feel right. it still doesn’t, not really. like they took something important out and jumbled up everything inside and tossed in a few pieces of their own - it’s not my body, anymore. i just happen to be here.

( maybe it’s because i was supposed to die. maybe like the jedi and the mando’ade believe, my body and my spirit-soul, the thing that makes me me had already seperated, and the kaminoans just forced us back together unnaturally. )

one of my vod’e asked me how i didn’t just go crazy in there.

i’ve got two answers for that, really:

one simply being that i’m not sure i didn’t.

the second being - they wanted me to. if i showed that i was completely unfit for the field, they could override skywalker and rex’s executive order of sorts to draft me back into torrent eventually and just send me back to the donors. so i couldn’t.

let me describe the room to you: it was sterile and white, like the rest of kamino, except a small third of the room done in silver, with the ‘fresher - a toilet bowl and a showerhead that would extend out twice a day for me if i wanted to. the entire room was about fifteen paces by twenty paces, the silver part being twenty by five of it. i counted. there was a small mirror built into the ‘fresher wall. there was a small rack on one wall that served as a bed, and two doors and three rayshields set up between me and out.

i showered twice a day. i was given nutrition injections once every three days. the sink slid out from the wall every - two hours, maybe? so i could hydrate if need be. every two nutrition injections, they’d take my blood, do a vitals check, leave again - the medical droid, pressing the needle into my arm, the stethoscope to my chest, and then leaving, was the closest thing i had to contact or socialization. sometimes it would even respond to me, and even if it was just to tell me ct-5381, please remain still or some variation, it was about the only thing that made me feel real, sometimes.

i don’t know what they did, there, but there was something they rubbed into my hair, shaving it short, and over my fingernails, every two sessions the droid checked my vitals, and - my hair, my nails, didn’t grow. it burned like all hell, but i think it was for convenience’s sake. they didn’t want me anywhere around something i could use as a weapon, either against them somehow, or to off myself - they were fine with me dying, of course, but only if they had control over it.

still, my nails were long enough to draw blood.

( i found that out, too. )

there’s only so much you can do to stay grounded, to convince yourself you’re real, when there’s no contact with the outside world and you can’t see time pass on your face or with any chrono or anything like that, and i suppose i found my way. they didn’t care if i tore my arms or thighs up - my nails weren’t sharp enough to really do too much damage, so it never bothered them. if anything, for them it was a victory, a sign i couldn’t go back on the field.

( i’ve spent the last few months learning about psychology, and i know that it’s stuck around in part because it’s an addictive habit, and it’s not really my fault i’m having trouble breaking out of the pattern, but that doesn’t really help things in the end. it doesn’t even convince me, really. )

so there was that to do. i’d sleep when i could, when i was exhausted enough that i didn’t care anymore what would show up in my dreams. i’d be tired enough that i’d roll to sleep and he’d be looming over me again, in the cell next to mine, and laughing, and i’d just lie with my back to the wall and sleep again.

i’d talk, just - saying everything i’d committed to memory. some of the regs they made us read every day, the names of all the brothers i knew, the vode an, every swear word i knew in mando’a, fives’ speech up against the wall, the terms of my sentence. just words, to fill up the space and the silence - even if it all came from me, sometimes i had to have the noise, or i would have lost it. it gave me something to do.

there was my pacing and measurements - see how long around the ‘fresher bowl is in pointer finger lengths, how many paces around the room, how many palm-lengths the sink was, and if i could double-check that before it slid back into the wall.

there was exercise, sometimes - the room was too small to jog in, but once my stitches had healed some and i’d learned to ignore the burning pain in my spine, i started doing sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, until my body would give out under me again.

sometimes i’d talk to myself.

yeah, i know how that sounds. but i wasn’t … really talking to myself. the one thing about being a clone is that if you squint hard enough at the mirror, or stare for so long unblinking that your eyes water up and blur, it could be any one of your friends or family looking back at you.

tup. and telling him that i was sorry, and that he’d been the best of our batch all along. kix, asking him how the different wounded were doing since umbara, and what the shinies had gotten up to lately. cody, asking about some of the escapades of his general recently. rex, and telling him i was sorry. crease and nine-eight and pip, asking them what they would have done if they survived - if it should have been them that lived this far, not me.

and jango, sometimes. i never met him, not really. but i’d ask if he was - it would depend on the day, but i’d either ask if he was proud of me or ashamed.

of course, it’s not like they answered. i don’t know whether that’s for better or for worse.

you know, i wanted to kill myself, then. though i’m not sure how much that’s changed - the first couple of times i tried were before i was even brought back to kamino. credit to my medic for me making it here. i think kix guessed it was a possibility for me. fiddled with all the guns in a fifteen-room radius, replaced the heat packs with stuns.

did you know that if you press a gun loaded only with stuns under your chin and pull the trigger, the barrel of the gun still needs to heat to fire off the shot, and as a result, the metal barrel leaves a circular burn, as well as knocking you out cold? i do, now.

( it feels like anyone, looking closely enough, could tell that my life is only very tenuously connected to this plane. )

there were a couple people who i would occasionally meet, who would come through my cell. two droids. one was called eefi ( their number was e-51493s2, but it’d been nicknamed eefi by the vod’e ) and the other dv-921. eefi was … almost friendly, for a droid. it would stay a little longer and talk, seemingly knowing that it was good to just hear something that wasn’t my own voice. dv wasn’t - it would give me the nutrition injection or take my blood and be gone as soon as it came.

there was a vod. i only saw him twice, and he was reconditioned - there was a terrifying blankness behind his eyes, and he moved like a machine. i asked him what his name was, and he gave me a number without expression, continuing in his work.

i won’t say his number here. it’s not important. our numbers aren’t people, and i don’t want to reveal who he might have been before they took that away from him.

and of course, there was nala se - she’d only ever be visible through the door, jotting down notes impartially, having sent in the medical droid to prod at me and scrolling down a checkup list on her holo, before leaving. she didn’t come often, but i think … she found me distasteful. a waste of limited resources, now that i wasn’t even a donor, wasn’t even helping the war effort with the last shreds of my body.

little gods, what else did i do?

i’d talk - not to anyone, but i’d say everything i remembered. as many of the regs as i could, the different mando’a chants we’d learned in history or to help ourselves concentrate, the fett clan family line, the words of the vode an, every speech we’d been given by the alpha arcs, just anything i could do to fill the silent space up with words and kill some time. it got to the point where there were a few times i was just lying on the floor saying the alphabet to myself over and over because i didn’t want to succumb to the silence.

when they took me out, i thought i was just finally going to my execution, you know?

they cuffed me, and there was a guard of six brothers with nala se, and i was led into a small - not room, even, just a door off the main hall. no one spoke to me. no one told me what we were doing or what they meant to do to me, and i was resigned to it being my death. they strapped me down to a stretcher, and nala se removed a hypo and pushed it into the side of my neck with a calculating expression.

my body started to go numb, and my eyelids felt heavy, darkness slowly beginning to wash over my field of vision, and the last thought i had was that dying this way wasn’t as bad as i could’ve gone.

and then i woke up, with my hands uncuffed, lying on a stretcher in medbay - they’d just sedated me to move me back over to the resolute.

i didn’t move. it’s going to sound ridiculous, now, but my first thought was that this was the manda. marching far away, after all. wouldn’t it make sense that in the fight continuing, it would be the same equipment, the same medbays, that we’d been used to in life? and i had to be dead. that was the only thing that made sense to me, then. for some of what i had done, i deserved it, and in the eyes of the republic, for the thing i’d done i didn’t regret, i deserved it even more.

the republic doesn’t care about our lives or us as individuals. everything i’ve known was telling me that i should be dead. i was an inconvenience at best, and a traitor at worst.

and kix walked in, and said hello nonchalantly, picking up a stethescope, and i asked him how he’d died.

he asked me if i was hallucinating, which, all considered, was a reasonable question. genuinely, i’m not sure if i ever started, on kamino - there were times when i’d see my face in the mirror really as jango or as tup or so on, or when i didn’t fill the silence, my brain would start to make up noise to fill it anyway. so i’m not sure that me hallucinating was that big a jump in logic.

me: i guess i’d have to be. i’m seeing you, after all.

him: you got pardoned, dogma. welcome back to torrent.

me: i suppose i am hallucinating.

he reached over and pinched my arm, and asked if that felt like a hallucination, and i told him that i wouldn’t know, i hadn’t ever really hallucinated before, and he looked - he gave me that medic look, like you’re just on the verge of rolling your eyes, but you have to be patient for your patient.

me: you’re at least a convincing one. you act almost like the real kix.

he was offended by that, i think. crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow and told me he was the real kix, and i didn’t have the energy in me to tell him that had to be impossible. just sagged and lay back down on the stretcher. he didn’t leave, though, and after a few minutes of silence, i told him that i should be dead.

just that, just that simply. ‘ i should be dead. ‘

i couldn’t really see him from where i was lying, but i could hear him sigh, and he walked over to me and smoothed my hair down, and told me to get some rest.

it was like flipping a switch in me, somewhere. it was a simple gesture for him, but it was the first human contact i’d had in - what, eight, nine months? a solid year? he touched my hair, and something small and curled up in my chest screamed like a wounded animal, and i just started to cry, leaning into the touch like a stray dog. i guess i never really understood the expression ‘touch starved’ until now, but then i understood it viscerally.

like a man who’d gone without food for a month and a half and was on the brink of death by starvation, so used to being hungry that his body doesn’t recognize food when he’s given it, doesn’t recognize anymore that it is hungry, because that’s just the state of being.

i was lonely, and i craved touch, and that hadn’t really hit me until kix touched me, simple and fleeting, and the dam burst.

i don’t really remember what happened in between, just that kix was suddenly there, cradling me like a lost cadet, and i was sobbing so hard that my lungs ached, that i couldn’t breathe except in short, shallow gasps, and i was holding onto him like a life preserver. i was afraid that if i let go, he would leave, and i would be brutally, suddenly alone again. and i think i knew that if i was, it would kill me. that sounds like an exaggeration, but it would.

but he didn’t leave. he stayed and just held me, chin propped to the top of my head and arms wrapped around me, and i didn’t understand. when i had left, you see, the fact that i had been the one to shoot krell was still incredibly confidential. only rex, fives, and jesse knew, and that’s because they’d been there. in everyone else’s eyes, i was still just the traitor who’d led that firing squad.

that had changed, but i didn’t know that. couldn’t know that. and i didn’t understand why he’d hold a traitor.

Chapter Text

it’s the morning on the second day of their new job, and ct-674 can’t find dogma. sure, it’s unpleasant work, but that’s just all the more reason that dogma should be getting a good night’s sleep. he isn’t at breakfast, either. ( pip, of course, immediately takes that as a sign, and eats his breakfast for him, shrugging at the raised eyebrows ct-674, pip, and ct-1113 give him. )

it’s ct-1113 who finds him first, already working with a haunted look on his face, and 13 winces in sympathy. 

( they’re not-quite-cadets-not-quite-troopers, sent into the odd jobs that there are currently troopers doing so that those troopers, who are older and have more training, can be pushed to the front. )

right now, they’re on … well, it’s called vulture work. 

go back to the scenes of the space battles, ground battles, whatever was demanded of them. take apart the ships, find what could be salvaged and destroy the rest. all fine on its own. but the same principle for the ships was demanded, too, of the bodies. 

dogma right now is stripping the armor off of a dead vod they’d found yesterday, currently in the abregado system. the plastoid will either be melted down, repurposed, or just passed on, if there’s no flaws in the armor. he’s working mechanically, putting the armor and blacks in the separate bins, pulling out the hypo to take a tissue sample, and checking the recordings to see who this trooper was, before pushing the body into the disposal unit they had for them. 

he keeps up the mechanical motion, gold eyes looking distant, until his batcher takes pity on him, and ct-674 ( who will later be called crease, and be picked up by a ship just like this one ) grabs his wrist. 

dogma looks at him and shakes. 

‘ it’s like i can still hear them. ‘ ct-674 won’t pretend that he understands, but he holds dogma’s wrist and nods, just willing to listen. ‘ there’s … i do. i can hear them, seven-four. like they’re still calling for help. ‘ ct-674 is shocked when dogma turns towards him and his eyes are shining. dogma never cries. 

‘ the screams all sound the same, seven-four. i can’t tell them apart. ‘ 

their sergeant, tripper, comes in half an hour later, with an annoyed expression, ready to tell the batch of shinies to quit goofing around, but finds five squadmates all huddled together, shielding each other from the heavy weight of death that clung to this system, this job, this ship, and now them, too. 

Chapter Text

recordings taken from the memory files of ev-a4-h, medical droid for the seperatist leader wat tambor, after rescue of clone trooper “echo” ]:

a droid’s voice, snide and seemingly talking to itself, or perhaps to the person the image shifts to - something only identifiable as a clone by the charred/melted armor on his torso, burnt badly and vital signs low, but still alive: as if i didn’t have enough on my hands already with grievous losing to some jedi every other day of the week, they’re going to bring in some half-dead clone and tell me to put it back together? ugh. organics. 

[ a view of the droid beginning to slice the armor off of the clone’s skin. ]

i’m not sure what they want with you, but i could bet my motivator you’re not going to be in for a fun time. oh, sure, send a4 to patch up the meat husk, “we’re going to need him”. what could we possibly use a half-dead clone for?

[ the recording fuzzes to static and skips, to a few days[?] later ]

oh, and the damn thing won’t shut up, either. i could swear i gave it enough sedatives to knock out a bantha, but it keeps mumbling, anyway. 

what is undeniably a clone’s voice, albeit soft and raspy, damaged by the explosion and by misuse: rex … fives … i’m alive don’t go - fives, fives, i watched you disappear, don’t go, stay - 

[ the bot sighs, and a needle pops out of its arm, jamming it into the side of clone trooper ‘echo’’s neck. ]

Chapter Text

his deaths were murky-muddled-dark, some of the causes confusing and some of them not-quite there, no matter how hard tamn looked at him, wide-set silver eyes locked onto the man who currently held with two wrinkled hands tamn’s much smaller one.

tamn didn’t realize that he was shaking until the man smoothed down his hair, resting one weighty hand on his shoulder, and asked him if he was afraid, and tamn - it felt like, to tamn, like one of the times they were tested on kamino, having to check their food for toxins or making sure the doorways were still clear to leave when they walked into a room. but the man had told tamn that he could trust him, hadn’t he?

‘ i am afraid, ‘ he said, softly, and the man rested a hand on his shoulder, tamn half-swallowed by the silk robes the man wore, face half-hidden behind a draping sleeve. oddly enough, it made him feel safer, being concealed like this, close to the man’s side, and he wraps one small hand in the man’s robe, by his hip.

‘ are you? ‘ tamn asks the man, with big silver eyes, and the man just laughs, stroking over his hair again.

‘ no, my dear boy. ‘

tamn looks almost crestfallen for a moment. if the man was sometimes afraid, it would be more acceptable for him to be. the man seems to pick up the shift in mood from him, murmuring-singing a small rhyme that only tamn could hear, under his breath.

‘ far above, far above, we don’t know how far we’ll fall. far above, far above, what once was great is rendered small. ‘

tamn stilled at the man’s side, listening to the words, as the coruscant buildings and the speeders weaving between them slowly started to become more distinct.

far above, far above.

everything was changed, now. he would have to change with it, and he knew that he owed the man his life.

Chapter Text

there are expressions in mando’a, boba knows, for family, and for brother, and for family-is-more-than-blood. there are words for no-longer-father, for disgraced parents who were not what their children needed or deserved. 

he is ten years old, squatting in the geonosian sand, and he does not think there is a word for alone, does not think there is one for orphaned, does not think there is one for fatherless, that could describe how he feels right now. 

his fathers teachings echo in his head. 

assess the situation. list your resources. 

boba fett is ten years old, grit in his eyes from the battle around him, and this is what he has: his father’s helmet, clutched tightly to his chest. the knife in his boot and the pistol on his hip. ( should have used them should have put a hole in the jetii’s back what kind of a mando are you if you can’t even save your family ) he has - what does he have? 

twenty-some credits in the pockets of his tunic. a holocommunicator. he has - he has … 

his father’s corpse, headless, bloodless, in the sand. 

boba presses the helmet to his forehead and stifles the sting in his eyes, blames it on the sharp smell of ozone and burning flesh or the desert wind. he catches his own reflection in the dull silver metal, and tries to steady his breathing, imagines his father’s voice coming from inside of him. 

i have myself. i have the will to fight, and i have my father’s face. i have what he taught me. 

and it works, on some level, as he sees the gunships, remembers that the faces underneath the white helmets taking off now are the same as his. remembers where his father left slave one, and the many times he’d allowed boba to help fly it. 

boba has himself. nothing less, nothing more. 

and that will have to be enough. 


Chapter Text

‘ the jedi are dead, ‘ the man at the checkpoint says, with his nose half pulled up and a blase wave of his hand, and ct-0158 can’t help but to snort and agree, passing the man’s papers back to him. order 66 had been carried out weeks ago, after all. of course the jedi were dead. he shook his head, inside his helmet. he’d need to deal with this paranoia, lest he be deemed insufficient and terminated, with some of the rest of the vod’e. 

( already, they were being cycled in for natborns, and ct-0158′s batcher, whose name used to be kir, before the empire stopped calling them that, often complained about it. ingrates, he snorted. the clone war ends, and what do we see for it? )

what they don’t see is probably for the best - ct-0158′s eyes go to the next person in line, and mace windu’s eyes draw forwards again, walking with a purpose away from suspicion. 

no lightsaber, anymore. he left it at the foot of the senate building, and chances are it was in one of the empire’s collection centers or in a trash compacter somewhere. best for the galaxy to think mace windu was dead. 

something was - something was there. not a shatterpoint, perhaps, but for one he’d already set off. a fork in the road that had already been taken, the crossroads long-abandoned. it itched at the back of his mind. he so wants to ignore it, but that’s not a luxury he has anymore, watching with wary eyes the clone troopers in pairs and squads along the street. but he can’t make it out. 

the darkness is almost stifling these days. like air in the lowest levels of coruscant, it clouds his eyes and eats at his nose, mouth, corroding his respiratory system - so is the dark side in the force now, ugly and triumphant. 

he would probably place that on why he almost walks right into the young man in battered armor - his presence is tumultuous, in the force, but isn’t everyone’s, these days? 

he doesn’t expect a gun to be drawn on him, leveled at his chest, or for a gauntleted hand to shove him into one side alley - it’s the element of surprise that lets him do it, the barrel of a blaster raised square at mace windu’s heart. 

boba fett is an adult now, by mandalorian law. fourteen years old, and his face is already too-old for his gangly body, marked with experience, more than his years should have. 

there are troopers in the alley, but windu takes the risk nonetheless, sending fett’s blaster  flying with a flick of his fingers, beginning to turn - and then stopping, astonished, when the blaster flies back to boba’s hand and he jabs it into mace’s skin. 

the force? he hadn’t sensed the capability for it on fett. did he - 

as if he can tell what mace is thinking, boba’s hands flex. ‘ electromagnetic gauntlets, ‘ he says, laconically. ‘ my father’s. connected to the gun. ‘ 

ah. that explained it then. 

the troopers advanced towards them, but boba’s head turned, and so did they - they knew him. both as fett’s chosen, but as the up-and-coming bounty hunter usually first hired by the empire, even at this age. potential. they left him be, for the most part. this was likely just another mercenary job. 

still, if he called them over, mace held no illusions about what the troopers would be able to do to him. 

‘ offer me money, ‘ boba says, quietly, the blaster digging between two of windu’s ribs. 

he had nothing much but the handful of credits in a pouch in the folds of his cloak, but he knew, and fett knew, that he could likely get more if he needed to. he had other jedi he needed to meet tonight, and his hands folded behind his head - peace, nonthreatening. ‘ yes. ‘ 

‘ offer me power. that too. ‘ 

mace almost laughs for that. power? what power? the jedi are dead. it hadn’t all been a lie, what he’d made the trooper at the checkpoint think. still. ‘ yes. ‘ 

‘ offer me anything i ask. ‘ fett’s voice doesn’t rise, doesn’t betray any bitterness he feels, one hand peeling off his helmet to reveal that too-familiar face, brown eyes dark and unreadable. 

‘ anything. ‘ and he dares hope, for a second. 

boba calmly pulls the trigger, and shoots mace windu’s heart out, nudging him with one foot over the rail and down into the coruscanti traffic below, speeders swerving and honking. 

his eyes are beskar, mandalorian iron, and just as cold. 

‘ i want my father back, ‘ he says, and tugs his helmet back on. in the distance, a siren wails. 

it takes windu’s body another two and a half minutes to hit the ground. 


Chapter Text

when dogma comes back to the 501st, they almost don’t recognize him. 

his slicked-back hair has been buzzed down to the scalp, cropped short, and his nails cut to the quick - it seems like they’ve cut down everything deemed unnecessary. his flesh clings to his bones, illustrating each curve or jut of his skeleton. they’ve added some things, too - metal ports on the inside of his wrists or into his vertabrae. layers of scar tissue, in precise incision lines. 

the tattoo is the most recognizable thing about him, but even that looks faded, washed out, seemingly just an oddly shaped shadow cast across his face. an echo of its former self; the tattoo and dogma both. 

it takes him four days to be able to even do anything but lie in the medical bed and shudder, curled into the fetal position and shivering like he’s been left for dead on an ice planet no matter how many medbay or contraband blankets kix wraps around him. his teeth chatter, and sometimes he cries out, terrified. 

on the fifth day, he’s eerily silent, staring blankly at the wall. 

on the seventh day, kix manages to get about a third of a bowl of soup in him before he vomits it up, but dogma had been sitting upright, leaning heavily on him, but still upright, and it’s some sort of progress. 

his eyes don’t have a purpose to them any longer. dull and glassy and easily spooked, darting across the room like a scared animal. 

it takes until the tenth day for him to say anything more than the incoherent jargon he mumbles while asleep, twisting and turning and mangling the words for mercy in basic and mando’a both. they have to take what progress they can get, even if it came in the form of dogma directing those blank eyes towards kix’s blaster and whispering please. 

four days later he breaks down and cries, and it seems like the words had collected in his chest - coming out in an uncontrollable flow as rex tries to help him walk, picks him up when his knees buckle again. half of it isn’t even understandable, but the parts of it that are make rex’s chest ache, and for a moment, he almost gathers his younger brother into his arms, holds him tight. 

it takes another three days for that, when dogma admits that the closest thing he’d had to touch in months was a medical droid checking his vitals. he clings to rex, still shaking, still bone-thin, and kix hovers like a protective watchdog - manda knows he’s been doing all he can to patch their brother back together. 

he still can’t eat. it’s been three weeks, and he still loses whatever’s put in him. they’ve had to use an iv, and all of them flinch when he shrinks away from it, fights the needle with as much strength as his fragile form can call upon. 

why bother? shouldn’t we send him back to kamino? can’t they treat him better there? skywalker asks with a frown, watching dogma try and fail to hold a gun again in the training room, his hands shaking too much to keep a grip. something in rex’s chest smarts at that. 

( does skywalker know how he sounds, sometimes? )

he’s all of us, fives says once, when rex passes on the question, the lingering why bother. the answer comes easy to him. we’ve all got scars left from umbara. they both look over to where dogma is taking a few shuddering steps, still clinging onto kix’s arm, but shuffling across the room nonetheless. if we can help him, it proves that couldn’t break us. 

Chapter Text

it starts with cody. 

( it ends with cody. ) 

grievous is dead. dooku is dead. the cold air of utapau rattles through his helmet filters, burning his lungs and throat for the chill of it. around him, there are blaster bolts, cries of pain, the cliffs shaking underneath their boots, caked in red dust. 

he has a lightsaber in his hand. 

( not for the first time. it almost hit him in the head, dropping from above, this time ‘round, and he eyes the edge contemplatively, considering just tossing it over into the rock pools of water below. watching it fall. )

he looks out over the battlefield. 

there are broken bodies, his brothers bright casts of white across the red landscape. kenobi had come charging through some of them earlier, on his dragonmount, and the mount had sent troops flying off the edge as it ran through them. 

one of them hadn’t made it. obi-wan didn’t even mention their passing. 

cody is a strategist, and sees the bigger picture, sees that they’re pushing the enemy back, another gunship dropping in, the lasers working to take out some of the spider droids they’re dealing with. 

something tells him now is the time. he is marshall commander, the highest ranking clone in the gar, and it was agreed that he was the only one who could organize something like this. he gives one look more to the battlefield, and presses a code into his wrist comm. 

‘ this is commander cody, ‘ he says, and in every active clone’s helmet, his voice echoes. ‘ it’s time. it’s time. ke narir haar'ke'gyce rol'eta resol. ‘ 

his comm clicks off, just in time, obi-wan’s dragonmount skittering up to cody, obi-wan looking weary, but forcing a grin, calling down to the commander, and cody pulls off his helmet, approaching him. 

‘ commander! send your men to the higher … ‘ it doesn’t matter what he’s saying, and cody revels, almost, in just … not listening. it’s not important that he listens. ‘ cody? are you alright? ‘ 

he takes another step forwards, obi-wan’s lightsaber concealed in his hand, and presses it, unignited, to the dragonmount’s ribs, under the crook of its shoulder, and activates it. it dies without ceremony, crumpling under kenobi, who looks at cody as if he’s gone mad. 

‘ hands in the air, sir, ‘ cody says calmly, and does what he had wanted earlier, and just tosses kenobi’s lightsaber over the edge. ‘ we don’t want to hurt you if we don’t have to. ‘ 

around them, there’s a cli-click-click-ck, of several guns being cocked, a circle of troopers surrounding obi-wan, who slides off the side of the mount, eyes darting back and forth, like he had added two and two and five had come out. ‘ commander, what is this? ‘ 

‘ you killed grievous. ‘ 

‘ yes, ‘ kenobi says, slowly. 

‘ the war will be over in - weeks at most. days, at least. tell me, kenobi, ‘ cody says, and lifts his chin, an expression of almost serenity shining through jango fett’s face. ‘ what do you think happens to us, when the war ends? ‘ 

there were protests, of course. had been, since the beginning of the war. anti-clone protesters, who argued that if the clones and droids were both disposed of, the two sides could come to a peace so much more easily. 

‘ i don’t know, commander, ‘ kenobi says. ‘ lower your gun. that’s an order. ‘ 

cody grins. 

‘ we have our own, now. order sixty-six. if the war ends, the senate will do their best to forget us. if we want to be free, this is the only chance we get. we don’t want to kill you, but if we have to? we would. ‘ upon seeing kenobi’s betrayed look, he adds: ‘ how many of us might as well have died at your hands, sir? ‘ 

‘ very well, commander, ‘ obi-wan says, slowly, eyes not leaving cody’s face. ‘ i surrender. are you going to cuff me? ‘ 

‘ no, ‘ cody says. he knows kenobi too well. in a cell or tied up, he’ll be out in the blink of an eye, and a wave of blue stun blasts ripples through the circle of troopers, obi-wan’s body crumpling to the ground, unceremoniously. like a clone. 

cody looks down at his general. 

‘ get him in one of the gunships. move the tanks to the higher levels. we’ll finish this fight and then begin the negotiations. ‘ 

Chapter Text

‘ captain ohnaka. ‘ 

it’s from an unfamiliar holocode in republic space, and hondo is wary as he answers it - yes, the republic has more of a lenient relationship with him than do the seperatists, but he’s still waiting for the day they decide to buckle down on him for charges of piracy, kidnapping, etc. when he is no longer a useful contact to have. 

( and if they’re asking for help from him now, he’s not sure he wants to take the job. more trouble than they are worth, really. )

still, he answers the comm with a smile and a hearty ‘ hello, hello - oh, commander, it has been awhile, yes? you are with kenobi. so. how goes the war, gentlemen? ‘ 

clones, he could deal with. jango had been a friend, and they were much like jango, but with an even more resounding sense of honor. and, rest jango’s soul in wherever bounty hunters went after they’d been killed by jedi, but some of them were a good deal smarter than him, too. 

cody tugs his helmet off, rests it underneath his arm. his face is calm. ‘ hondo. i need a favor. ‘ 

hondo groans, throwing his hands back dramatically. ‘ oh! of course. once again, you have the - ‘  

‘ shut up, ‘ cody says briskly, cutting him off. 

‘ now, now, commander, that is not a very good way to start things if you are here to ask a favor of me. ‘ hondo said, wagging a finger at the hologram, leaning back in his chair and tsking sadly. ‘ not very good at all. did the jedi never teach you any manners? ‘ 

‘ i know there are some of us working with you, ‘ cody says, refusing to rise to any of the bait hondo set out for him. bastard. 

hondo stiffens slightly, but refuses to show that, waving one hand lazily. ‘ ahh, so what if they are? i am a busy busy man, commander, i can hardly keep track of who comes in and out of my crews. it is their choice, no? ‘ 

‘ exactly, ‘ cody says. ‘ and that’s the favor i need from you. ‘ 

hondo raises a brow, gasping as if scandalized and pressing a hand to his chest - not where his heart was, of course, but it was a common gesture to humans, and more understandable that way.  ‘ what is this? does the honorable marshall commander wish to defect? scandalous, commander. ‘ 

‘ not me, ‘ cody says, and hums, considering how to phrase it. ‘ we’re going to rebel. a slave rebellion, on the part of the clones. we’re going to phrase it as an ultimatum to the senate - they grant us our personhood, or we leave the republic and refuse to continue fighting their war. ‘ 

hondo nods. ‘ a coup? ‘ 

‘ not unless it has to be. but if our jedi refuse to surrender, well … they’ve taken enough of our lives that we can justify having theirs. ‘ 

‘ you are asking for sanctuary for your people, yes? if this does not go through, or perhaps … if it does. what will you do if not fight, commander cody? ‘ 

‘ sanctuary, yes. if you require some of us work for you, we’d be glad to, as long as we have the right to our bodies and a portion of whatever spoils you end up with. ‘ 

hondo strokes his chin, pretending to think it over. in truth, he’s already made up his mind - if not for moral reasons, just because it might be good to have an army standing with his men. some of them were so useless with a blaster they might as well be spice-addled twi’leks. ‘ you drive a hard bargain, commander. you will get … ah, the percentage may vary, depending on how generous i feel. ‘ 

‘ so you’re willing to host us. ‘ 

hondo shrugs. ‘ jango was a good friend of mine. i would not mind having his face back here again. i will take you in, commander, out of the kindness of my heart. but - ‘ he says, and wags a finger at the commander. ‘ do try not to kill kenobi, eh? i’ve grown to like the man. ‘ 

cody gives him a sardonic little salute, managing to make the gesture somehow look sarcastic. ‘ yes, sir. ‘ 

Chapter Text

i need your voice, senator. 

bail organa stands before the senate, as is not unusual for him, with words prepared by a … friend? ally? friend-of-a-friend? cody is someone who he has exchanged words with maybe three times, prior to this, and who has come to his aid twice now. he owes him this much. 

mas amedda barks for order, order, and bail’s chin tilts up slightly, voice even, practiced. ‘ since it has recently come up with the matter on kiros, i would like to reaffirm the republic’s stance on anti-slavery. it has been brought forwards to me that one of the inner core worlds is maintaining an ongoing, even thriving slave trade that goes ignored by this senate. we must - ‘ 

‘ i have heard of no such thing, senator, ‘ the neimoidian senator says, bringing his seat out into the floor, and, not for the first time in the proceedings of this council, bail wonders if there’s a diplomatic way to punch him in the face. bail does not rise to the bait, simply remaining calm as mas amedda lowers a glower that could melt durasteel at lott dod, who’s pod shrinks back some with him. 

‘ as i was saying, ‘ bail continues. ‘ i have heard of this trade happening within the inner core itself. there has been some debate in the system as to whether or not it counts as slavery. so we have interviewed some of the individuals thus employed. we have disguised their voices, for now, to protect their identities. ‘ 

two recorded voices ring out in the senate; one clearly human and the other masked with some editing and fuzz. the transcript is as follows:

how much are you paid daily?
are you kidding? we aren’t paid. 

i see. how strenuous is the labor?
there have been days where millions of us have died. it’s not unlikely you’ll be put to work and be stepping to for fourteen hours straight or standing in place for twenty. 

are you allowed control of your lives?
can you … break that down, maybe? 

yes, i’m sorry. do you have control of your bodies?
no. we are marked with barcodes at birth, and growing up is a constant experience of poking and prodding to make sure we’ll serve better. we’re culled if we aren’t good enough. 

of your minds?
no. our brains are chipped to prevent us from doing what they don’t want. 

what about where you live, where you go? 
no. we go only where they order us.

are you the legal property of these people?
yes. their sigil is branded on us and on our clothes. they bought us, and they own our lives. they know it, too. 

do you have your own possessions?
no. our bodies aren’t even ours. we aren’t allowed to keep things. 

the questions continue on like that. do you have a say in your family, your spouse? what are common punishments for you? what is the punishment of someone else if they killed one of you? 

by the time they stop, there’s a low murmur running through the senate seats, which buzzes into a roar when the recording pauses. bail stands, impassive still. he raises his hands, and the crowd hushes back to a hum. ‘ i ask that we vote now as to whether these people, by the republic’s own anti-slavery laws, are not being treated within the legal parameters of this senate. ‘ 

the board lights up green. more so than he’d expected, actually, and he smiles, to himself more than anything else, low and grim. 

his pod bobs up some, and he finds himself close to the chancellor, who is offering him a warm smile. ‘ a good point to be made indeed, senator. and now that that is settled, can you please reveal to us the planet responsible for continuing this? as a republic, we cannot allow it to continue. ‘ 

bail’s smile is sharp, around the edges. 

the recording starts back up again, shifts to include holo-footage, the voices unscrambled. there’s a clone in orange armor answering questions. then green, then red, then bluepurplecamoflaugeredredbrownorange - hundreds of the same face, speaking honestly. 

‘ coruscant. ‘ 

the senate is silent.

Chapter Text

slick spits on the ground, hands still cuffed behind him. his arms are sore from being kept in this position for hours, now. the fight on cristophsis went on without him, and now he sits in a cell on coruscant, still in his blacks and armor from the field - they hadn’t allowed him to change yet. 

kenobi stands in front of him, impassive, his question unanswered. 

‘ we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t, general. we follow orders, and we’re called thoughtless, mindless, something to be feared by your order. we lack empathy, or personhood. and if we don’t, we’re sent back to kamino to be quietly disposed of. you know that’s what decommission means, right? all those pretty words you hut’uunla jetii use to hide the blood on your hands. ‘ 

skywalker steps towards the rayshield that separates them, fury still clear on his face, and slick’s chin raises. let the bastard be angry. slick has been for years now. this is the first time anyone has listened. he will be killed, he knows that. maybe none of his brothers will ever recite his name. 

but he has forced the jetii to listen. in the annals of the future, they will never be able to say we didn’t know any better, we were never told, none of them ever spoke against it. 

he has tarnished their clean consciences, now. said it, repeatedly, as they drag him back and forth through the courts, he’s looked them in the eye and repeated the word they all squirm away from being branded with. slavery.

maybe if he points it out enough, the actual deed might make them more uncomfortable than just being branded with the word. 

‘ we are not - ‘ and the metal supports around slick’s cell creak, the rayshield’s intensity flickering as skywalker jabs a finger at him. seems like he’s hit a nerve, here.  ‘ - slaveowners. you can’t put the blame of your treachery on us, slick. you’ve let your brothers down. ‘ 

i know, slick thinks. they’ve told me as much. he hopes one day they’ll understand. maybe they won’t forgive him, but they’ll understand. 

‘ really? then how do you define a slave, general skywalker? ‘ 

skywalker’s fists clench, and slick would’ve easily given six times the handful of credits ventress foisted on him just to hear what he was about to say, but kenobi rests a hand on his shoulder, damn him. slick doesn’t let his disappointment show. 

‘ easy, anakin. we’ll let the courts deal with him. there’s nothing that can be done, now. ‘ 

slick watches them go. cowards.

Chapter Text

it takes obi-wan a good three weeks to learn that he doesn’t actually know mando’a. he does know mandalorian, yes, but - the dialect he learned from? with? satine is new mandalorian; all bastardized and smooth around the sharp edges traditional mando’a has.

he learns it in cody’s perplexed expression, the first time he tries greeting him; he learns it too in the way waxer laughs quietly, later, and tells him that cody was kote, obi-wan’s smooth corellian accent and knowledge of the subdialect smoothing down the edges like taking sandpaper to a wooden block. he considers trying again, but goes to say commander kote and finds the words stuck in his throat.

cody, cody, his name is cody, and therefore cody it stays.

he learns it too when he reunites with the duchess, silently glad that this time there’s no rat-tail and stumbling padawan hands and eager puppy eyes; but there is the harshness of duty, too, and the understanding between them that things cannot be the same as they were. 

the clones are joking, as they so often are, their laughter familiar to kenobi - rough and deep and comforting, so often a spark of brightness in the middle of a battle or close to death. 

satine passes them by without a second thought, but he sees her nose wrinkle at their mando’a. it is improper, she tells him later. a language for a warrior culture. we have refined it for our pacifism. no more words for glory-in-battle or for commando-mindset or shereshoy. they are a warrior culture no longer. they do not use a warrior culture’s words. 

( obi-wan has to admit, though, there’s something that stirs in his heart when he overhears the vode an that the new mandalorian language just doesn’t do. it’s pacifist, but that’s … all. )

Chapter Text

‘ i’m his son. i’m different from the rest of you, ‘ boba says, all of eight years old and standing with small fists clenched, looking at a group of about five boys who all look just like him. ‘ i’m not gonna be some - some meat-droid when i grow up. ‘ 

one of the boys steps right up to him, jabs him in the chest, and boba scowls furiously, pushing his hand away, but he doesn’t even seem to care, talking straight to boba anyway. ‘ you aren’t different than the rest of us. you’re gonna age less fast, and that’s it. any one’a us could’ve just as easily had our tubes picked out. ‘ 

‘ not true, ‘ boba snaps back, but the cadet doesn’t seem to be done. 

‘ you wanna bet? ‘ 

‘ sure, ‘ boba says, face stormier than the kaminoan typhoons. the cadet doesn’t even seem phased by it, and for a moment, something in boba falters at the look in - his own? stony eyes, the cadet’s shoulders square and his posture set in a way that boba’s isn’t. 

‘ i don’t understand, ‘ he says, scrunching his nose up as one of the other cadets presses a few numbers into a closet door, swishing open almost noiselessly. ‘ what’s this gotta do with a dare? ‘ 

the cadet who originally challenged him steps back out of the closet with a bit of a triumphant set to his face, holding out a familiar set of blue clothes, folded neatly. he sticks them into boba’s chest until he takes them, looking at them blankly. ‘ i still don’t get it. ‘ 

‘ you’re gonna come be one of us, ‘ the cadet says, calmly. ‘ put that on, and join us in the training room. one’a the alphas will tell your dad that you’re in there with us, and he’ll come down. ‘ 

boba stares at the cadet uniform, an uneasy feeling rising in his stomach as he pieces together the implication. 

‘ if you really are special, then he’ll know which one’a us is you, won’t he? then you’ve got nothing to worry about, ‘ the clone says, and boba fights back the urge to glare at him again. he’d been caught - either he went through with this, or he backed out, and proved their point. 

‘ fine, ‘ he snaps out. ‘ i’ll do it. ‘ 

the training room is a broad space, and dotted with cadets, some of them talking or sparring, a few setting up an informal bolo ball game in the corner. all of them in the same blue uniform as him. all but a rare few of them had the same curly hair as him. and all of them had his face. 

there’s an uneasy feeling in his stomach, now. no. his dad will know him. boba loves him, and he knows jango loves him right back, more than anything. ‘ this is stupid, ‘ he mutters to himself, crossing his arms. he wonders who he’s trying to convince. 

‘ atten-tion! commanding officer on deck! ‘ one of the older clones watching the group calls out, and boba’s heart rests in his throat, seeing his dad walk in. all the cadets push themselves to stand, shoulders square, and looking straight ahead as best they can. for a moment, boba considers just not doing it. that’d show pretty easy that he wasn’t one of his dad’s stupid clones, wouldn’t it? 

but he had to admit. he was curious now. so he stood like the rest of them, and looked at his dad, silently begging him to recognize him. 

jango’s helmet is pulled off, rests on his hip, and boba can see the edges of his eyes turn down, his expression still carefully neutral. he knows that as his dad’s expression when something isn’t right, but he’s still evaluating it.

his eyes sweep the room, and there’s a heart-wrenching plummet of a second for boba, when jango’s eyes scan the cadets, and scan right over him, not even giving him a second glance. jango is … hesitating, frowning for a moment. 

maybe it’s that boba’s distress shows through for a moment. maybe it’s his at-attention stance, just a little bit off. maybe it’s that he’s better fed than any of his not-brothers. maybe it’s just that he knows boba. but after an excruciating pause, his dad turns back in his direction, face softening as his eyes match with boba’s. he opens his arms slightly, and boba breaks out of attention to almost violently fling himself into them, wrapping his small arms around jango’s neck. 

he doesn’t look back for the cadet who challenged him. he doesn’t want to see his expression. he keeps quiet, clinging to his dad tight, the comfortable familiar feeling of jango’s armor pressing through the tunic. 

his dad found him. he did. 

but boba doesn’t think he can ever forget that pause. 


Chapter Text

you are a nightsister and fifteen years old; you do not know your mother or your father, as is tradition, because mother talzin is mother-to-all and your father is unimportant. mother talzin cups your face and says daughter, you are a woman now, you will be one of us. a witch of dathomir. 

and you are not. 

what do you say? what do you tell her? 

his name is - it doesn’t matter, not yet. but he tips his head into the hand and averts his eyes and asks her if they can talk alone, and suddenly, they just are, the two of them surrounded by nothing more than the mist. what is wrong, my daughter? 

i am not, he says, blurting it out, before clamping his jaw tight, like a trap closing shut on a mouse just a second too late. 

what do you mean, child?

i am your son, he says, quietly. i am … i am not a nightsister. she looks … curious, then, studying him, and calls him by that name, the name-that-is-no-more. 

are you sure? 

very, he replies, and he is unsure how his voice is steady, but it is. 

she cradles his face. my son, then. are you prepared for the changes that will come? this may be something you cannot turn back from. and he knows, and his chest hurts with fear-of-the-unknown. aches, past his ribs. but he nods. 

they give him his tattoos two days later, and by the time a week has passed, mother talzin runs a hand over his head, and there are tiny sharp points, poking up there, like plants just pushing through the ground after winter. before mother talzin gives him to the other side of the planet, she gives him a name, too. 

animus, she calls him. may you find yourself here. 

his old name dies. the memory of it sinks from all of their minds, the sound of it nothing more than an old echo. he is animus and he is sixteen years old and a nightbrother, now. the old purple tattoos still show up some, under the sunset-color of his skin, looking like old bruises. 

( when he presses them, he pretends that they are. better won in combat than the remnants of being not-right. )

he knows some of the witch-magic the nightsisters use, but he thinks he is not meant to use it, here. when he tried, he burnt his fingers for it, sticking them in his mouth until the soreness faded. 

do you have your own magic, here? he asks one of his brothers, and they laugh, not meanly so, and toss something to him. he catches it before even realizing what it is - a sturdy quarterstaff, almost, imbedded with metal in places. 

sure we do, the other nightbrother says, with a relaxed grin. and there’s your magic wand. stand to, brother. 

when the sun fades over dathomir that night, his chest aches, but from the fair cropping of bruises he received, and there is an arm slung over his shoulders, his own elbow digging into another’s ribs, throat sore for his breath, as well. 

this pain will fade as the bruises do.

Chapter Text

it happens to dogma’s first, but they’re knee-deep in felucian mud with the 212th and don’t even see a jedi that whole leg of the campaign. ( as it so often happens, their generals aren’t even here. commander cody runs the 212th more than kenobi ever does, and they all know it. )

they’re all exhausted, coming back to their base camp, none of them bothering to peel out of their filthy armor as some of them drift off, guns laying across their laps - you never knew when the fighting would pick back up again, after all. rex lets himself sit for a few minutes, fatigue making his legs heavy to the point of almost unliftable, but then he’s back up on his feet, making his way around the men. 

he’s their captain, after all. he needs to show he’s still able to stay on his feet - their morale is already dangling over the edge of breaking point. 

dogma is sitting alone.

dogma is always sitting alone, rex knows. no one really knows how to talk to him, what to say, since umbara. he came back from that broken, struggling to put the broken pieces of his worldview together. it feels … wrong, to dislike him,  after he shot krell, and after the punishment he received for it. 

( he never states what that was, but he is sent to kamino for months and comes back bone-thin and flinching every time one of them moves too sharply. )

his gun is half taken apart, and it looks like he was cleaning the worst of the gunk out of it, but he’s … his eyes are unfocused, staring off at a point on the horizon, his head swaying slightly. rex frowns, and crouches next to him, rests one hand on the kid’s shoulder. ‘ dogma. ‘ 

dogma doesn’t even react to that, just murmurs something and keeps staring off with those glassy eyes. it takes rex a moment to puzzle out what he had said, but something in his chest aches when he registers it. good soldiers follow orders. 

‘ dogma, ‘ he says again, gently, shaking dogma’s shoulder a little bit this time. dogma blinks, and jumps slightly when he realizes rex is next to him. 

‘ sir. i’m - i’m sorry. ‘ 

‘ nothing to be sorry for, dogma, ‘ rex says, and to himself, sighs a little bit. umbara really did hit the kid hard, huh. no wonder he was … well, he looked shellshocked, now. ‘ go get some rest. ‘ 

Chapter Text

the first coherent thought he has on waking is this is my father’s ship. 

the second is a string of curse words, because his leg is broken in at least two places and it feels like someone shoved his shoulder back into its socket with all the gentleness of a herd of gutkurr. it doesn’t help that his hands are tied behind his back, and his mouth gagged, either. 

he worries about his men. he worries about mace. he worries about how he got here. and then the wooziness in his head takes over, and he stops worrying. 

when he wakes up again, he’s at least more cognizant. thank the manda that the kaminoans built them with tough skulls. at least his question as to how they ended up here is answered when the door slides open, one of the clone cadets from before walking in with some water, and it clicks. 

boba. i remember you. 

when the alphas had overtaken him too much in age, he had played and trained with the commander class for some time, until they had outgrown him as well. so this is where you ended up, jang’riye. 

he isn’t worried, when the boy presses the blaster to the back of his head. oh, he knows he’ll probably get shot. he sees the crowd boba is with. but it won’t be one of them to pull the trigger. aurra sing kicks him down, his chin crashing into his knee plating, and he licks the taste of blood off his split lip. 

he doesn’t give her his name. 

she doesn’t get that satisfaction.

it’s a small victory, he thinks to himself almost idly, as he feels boba’s hand waver, and his chin dips, knowing he was right even as the light from the blaster bolt to the side of his head blinds him momentarily. 

he wakes up again. he’s getting a little tired of that. on top of that - he struggles to sit up - on top of that, his armor seems to have gone missing. he’s sitting in nothing but his blacks. but the cuffs are gone, and so is the gag. which would be worth more if the space he was contained in was even big enough for him to stretch out his legs in. he’d guess it at about … 4 x 3 x 4, probably. small and not all that comfortable. 

but a hell of a lot more comfortable than being dead. 

speaking of which. 

a door - ponds hadn’t seen it, and he shakes his head as the light disorients him - opens in the side of the wall. and boba steps through, clearly tense. he’s holding cuffs and a gag again. quickly, before ponds can react, he’s next to him, pressing a small hand over ponds’ mouth. ‘ shh! shh, i got you. she’ll hear. ‘ 

ponds doesn’t make a sound. he’s not stupid, after all. 

boba looks … deflated. the pride and rage that had been carrying him is gone, now, and there’s a lost sort of look there, hopeless and beaten down. he looks as though he’s about to reach for ponds’ wrists, but he just slumps to his knees, looking down. 

‘ i just wanted justice. this is too much. ‘ 

ponds looks at him evenly, and boba crosses his arms, looks down and away. ponds wonders if he sees his father in him. their father? he had been boba’s, though, in a way he was never theirs. 

softly, he asks - ‘ did you want justice? or did you just want him back? ‘ 

boba doesn’t answer, but there’s a soft sniff coming from him and his shoulders draw all the closer to his chest, dropping the cuffs outright. ponds closes his eyes for a moment, tells what’s probably a mild concussion to save it for later. his brother isn’t bad. he doesn’t blame boba for this. 

he’s a child, after all. all he wants is his father. what had happened to him, left behind on geonosis? who had taken responsibility for this ten year old boy? 

boba flinches at first when he reaches out, hand going all too quickly for a blaster pistol strapped to his side, but hesitates as ponds just rests his hands on his shoulders, and then just - the dam breaks, and he flings his arms around ponds’ shoulders. 

ponds doesn’t know if boba is clinging to him, right now, or to the man whose face he owns. it doesn’t matter. 

‘ shh, shh, ad’ika, ‘ he murmurs, as boba cries into his shoulder and tries to pretend that he isn’t. ‘ i’ve got you. i’ve got you. ‘ 

Chapter Text

the fight comes to the mandalorians, as it always does. as it always will.

the toy soldiers, jango’s thousands of children - they’re good fighters, and jango knows it. but they see the mandalorian armor, and they see jango’s emblem on the flags and on the armor, and they hesitate. they take prisoners, and grant leniency. jango sees one of the clones knock a mando to the ground with a powerful roundhouse kick to the helmet, and watches him kneel on the field, check if they’re okay.

the mandalorians have no such qualms.

in the end, the distinction is thus: the clones think of the mandalorians as their own people, and they’re not totally wrong. but the mandalorians do not see the clones as theirs.

( and even if they did, they are much older than the entire culture of the vod’e. mandalorians split and fight and come back together and break again all the time. they know this. the clones are just beginning to learn. )

jango refuses to take a side. well - he is with his people, technically against the clones. but he refuses to kill any of them. there’s a low part of him that is glad his armor at the moment is unrecognizable. they wouldn’t ever hold him responsible anyway, but now, the dead don’t need to know who led the party who killed their brothers.

after a little less than a month of fighting, the republic retreats.

mandalorian pilots are good ones. their code of honor means that they respect the republic’s surrender, and they get off-planet and out of system unscathed, but the ships coming down had been free game.

not everyone makes it off. there are maybe three relief ships sent to pick up a battalion. jedi and natborns first, of course.

from a practical point of view, jango can understand why they leave the wounded behind. his clones are considered resources, after all. why take up storage space with a broken blaster to be fixed later when you could keep one that was perfectly functional?

it didn’t make the cries of the wounded any easier to hear, or the arguing of brothers forced to separate from their batchers and squadmates, or the jedi barking orders to them impassionately.

once the republic has left, jango forces himself to walk across the field. this much, at least, he owes them.

there are huddled groups of survivors, some of the less-bad-off trying to treat each other with shaking fingers. he sees a clone with an ankle twisted around almost 360 degrees refuse painkillers - they should go to someone worse-off.

and there are those worse-off. walking along the edges of the trenches, he hears the cries of the dying. one of them - he crouches on impulse, kneeling beside a trooper tangled in concertina wire with his lower half just … gone, now, and takes off their helmet.

he can’t help the breath that escapes him, like a punch to the stomach. golden eyes watch him frantically, fearfully, the breath ragged in the clone’s throat. but … manda, but the kid looked like he was only a year or so older than boba. he tried to move away from jango’s hand and cried out, tears swelling over his eyes as the concertina wire tears through his skin unforgivingly.

jango does the merciful thing.

later, he sits, lost in thought, not even looking up as his current second sits down next to him, heavily. ‘ something on your mind, alor? ‘

the field is scattered with dead mandalorians. some of them born in the system. some of them adopted in. some of them tube-grown.

in the fading light, the bodies all look the same.

jango inclines his head towards the field, heavily. ‘ i did this. ‘ she will deny it, he knows, but it was his choices that did this. his children against his people. what kind of a fight was that? what had he become responsible for?

Chapter Text

the thinly veiled accusations start coming in about three weeks after it happens.

knockout is impressed. given the senate’s usual reaction time, that’s pretty impressive for a campy little search and rescue company usually stationed somewhere in the universe’s left armpit. 

it probably would’ve blown over entirely, had the person been any less important. but knockout had no regrets. 

( natborn officers abused their power. it was a grim fact all the shinies were briefed on. sometimes in petty ways, making you do essentially chores or personal tasks for them. sometimes it was in overworking, or treating them like chattel, disposable and replaceable. sometimes it was - well. )

( halves stated that nothing had happened, but he was still flinching to the touch all this time later, and he only took sonic showers anymore. they were less comfortable, but you didn’t have to disrobe entirely to get clean. more convenient, he stated, trying his best to sound nonchalant. )

( he was seven. he had the subtlety of a gundark. )

it had been knockout he had talked to in the medbay, and knockout who had gotten the system to override, sounding off the alarms. knockout who bribed the pilots about two weeks of contraband to feign turbulence, the ship shuddering so convincingly that for a moment even he worried. 

it had been knockout who feigned concern to the nat admiral as the alarms blared, and him who helped them get to the closest escape pod - one of the better ones, clearly designed for officers. he got in it alone, shutting the door almost on knockout’s fingers. 

and it had been knockout who had put about seven charges in there a few hours before. 

the messages from the higher-ups were demanding some sort of explanation for the ‘technical malfunction’ that seemingly came out of nowhere. from their phrasing, it was clear that someone up there suspected foul play. 

‘ it was bound to happen, general, ‘ the medic says, arms crossed as misi reads it over, brow furrowed. ‘ there’s no way around this. i’ll state clear and simple what he did and plead guilty. i accepted what they’d do some time back. ‘ 

the general scanned the holopad again, chewing on his lip, before looking up, eyes calculating. ‘ there will be a way around this. we’re going to find one. and if nothing else, i’ll take the hit for it. i’m a jedi. if i state what he did, they won’t - well. it’d be better than what you’d get. ‘

a blunt truth, but an unfortunate one. 

Chapter Text

‘ daddy? ‘ it’s shaaeah, ten years old now, clinging to the worn fabric of his vest, and he lets himself pause in his work, twisting the meiloorun he had been working on off of the vine and setting it in the wagon with the others before crouching in front of her, tapping her on the nose affectionately. she smiles, but it’s quick to fade.

‘ i’m right here, ner’ad. what’s the matter? ‘

‘ the stars are fighting. ‘ she says it solemnly to him, tugging on his arm insistingly, and he holds back a sigh, standing up and allowing her to tug him along. basic wasn’t her first language, and though suu and he turned out to be half-decent teachers, sometimes she had trouble conveying what she meant.

so he lets her pull him along, looking down at his daughter with an aching fondness in his chest. that same feeling. this is where i belong. his only regret with leaving is that his squadmates never got to have this kind of revelation for themselves. never got their own lives to lead.

it takes shaeeah tugging hard on his arm for him to remember to look up, to remember what she had been saying, and he exhales, short and sharp. ‘ so they are, cyar’ika, ‘ he says, in a mild tone. ‘ stay right here. i’m going to be right back. ‘

his scopes are older-model, but they’re still good.

looking up at what he can clearly tell to be cruiser fire through or just outside the atmosphere, he hopes they’re good enough for this much of a distance, turning them skyward with a twist in his gut.

it doesn’t make sense.

there are republic ships. he doesn’t like that, but that by itself would have made sense, maybe. but there are only republic ships, and they’re firing on each other. this, he doesn’t understand, and it chills him for it, goosebumps rising along his arms even in the warm saleucami air, lowering his scopes to just look up at the distant fire.

‘ what’s wrong? ‘ it’s suu, warm at his side, and he holds her close to him, kisses the top of her head. for some reason, something about this just fills him with a premonitory dread.

‘ i don’t know yet, ‘ he murmurs to her, and their hands clasp tightly. ‘ i don’t know. ‘

three weeks later, the republic touches down on saleucami. the jedi have been declared traitors, and most of them have been killed. cut doesn’t have much love lost for them, but it does wrench in his chest to think of how many brothers must have been killed following out that order.

the republic barely even checks in on them as they pass through. suu hides cut in their cellar, but it turns out they didn’t really need to bother. there’s nothing but a cursory check, and the acquisition of some of their produce for the republic. one of the troopers on his way out gives jek a handful of toffees, and a whispered apology. half the produce turns up on their back stoop later. once more, cut owes something to his brothers, even after all this time as a deserter.

it doesn’t take that much longer until it’s no longer the republic, but the empire. first their farm is checked, and then there are two troopers - no longer clones, but storm troopers - positioned there, supposedly to help suu work.

it’s known that she has a husband. a few months later, the empire has gathered enough information on him to first start asking nosy questions, and then making threats.

cut will protect his family. it’s never been a choice.

shaaeah clings to him tightly as he steps out of the cellar, as if she can hold him there by willpower and scrawny not-yet-teenage arms alone, and he wonders if this is the last time he’ll ever get to see his daughter, and scoops her tight to his chest.

‘ i don’t want them to take you, daddy, ‘ she says quietly, and he runs his hand over her head, shushing her quietly as if she were a little-little girl again, hiding under her blankets from the storms. ‘ they’re bad men. all of them. ‘ basic isn’t her first language, but that’s not the reason for the simplicity of the words here - she phrases it simply because it’s the best way it can be said.

‘ i know, shaeeah. i know, ‘ he murmurs, because twelve is too old for him to tell her white lies, especially now. ‘ but remember. there’s always a bigger fish. the empire swallowed the republic, but one day, someone will stop them. ‘

he draws back, tipping her chin up slightly and smiling. ‘ i want you to promise me you’ll do your best to help make that future a better one, shaeeah. it’s your future. don’t let them take it from you. ‘

‘ but they’re already taking you, daddy, ‘ she mumbles, hands curled into small fists, and his heart breaks a little. but slowly, she nods, a jerky motion of a thing that reminds him of the birds that show up at the break of winter into spring. he smiles at her, as best he can, and stands up, turning - the stormtroopers at least gave him this much time, to say goodbye to them.

he doesn’t actually say ‘ goodbye ‘ until the speeder has taken him almost a full klick away from the house. he shuts his eyes. they’ll be safe. they will be.

and one day, the empire will get what’s coming to them.

Chapter Text

rang finds the shiny in one of the storage rooms, knees curled tight to their chest and head bowed, breath coming in ragged little pained sobs, shallow and high. their hand is clenched still around a pistol they must’ve picked up in here, knuckles white and the edges of the gun imprinted in their palm. at least their finger isn’t on the trigger. 

rang shuts the door, and sits next to them.

he isn’t … words aren’t his forte. he loves his brothers. it feels like the only thing that keeps him going, sometimes - like his body died out there in space, cold and numb, and he only exists in the warm place behind his ribs where he loves his vod’e. 

he wishes one of the better people were here to talk this kid off the ledge. chyth, or wesk, or crash. but they aren’t. he’ll have to do. 

gently, very gently, he places his hand over the shiny’s where it still clings onto the pistol ( ironically ) as if it were a lifeline. they don’t look up at him. he tries to tug it towards himself, but they’ve got a grip like beskar, and he holds back a sigh. 

‘ give me the gun, kid. ‘ 

‘ why should i? ‘ it’s said sharp and bitter, sounding like - lashing out, like a snarl. but rang knows his brothers. knows what grief sounds like in that voice, knows what fear looks like in those eyes. 

he isn’t the best person for this job. but he’s here. instead of comforting words, he shrugs once. ‘ squad just got the new medic two days ago. don’t make him have to deal with this this soon. ‘ 

they all care about their brothers, and rang sees the kid’s brows draw together, and slowly, their fingers loosen around the pistol. as rang takes it, unloading it and putting it in his belt, he sees the shiny’s lower lip quivering some. 

he doesn’t offer the invitation that many brothers would. 

but when his younger brother, still too hot off kamino to have a name, wraps their arms around his shoulders, he doesn’t push them away, either. 

Chapter Text


image quality is poor. three or four troopers sit around the recording device. ]

voice 1 [ish, squad medic]: well … yes and no. the republic doesn’t really expect clones to even want to get married or have children, and it’s a little hard to do either under the circumstances. 

voice 2 [dezz, pilot]: you’d be amazed the number of times we get asked if all of our dicks are the same size. 

ish: [ clear tone of exasperation ] dezz, this is going in permanent records. is this how you want to be remembered, forever? 

dezz: absolutely. 

voice 3 [merry, flight commander]: offscreen ] don’t know why you thought he’d say anything different, ish. 

ish: next time any of you get injured, you’re treating it yourself. anyway, as i was saying. the rules for clones are technically still a bit in the air, but there used to be … well, none. at all. like i said, it just wasn’t something they bothered to think about. 

voice 4 [hellion, pilot]: only people have kids, after all. 

dezz: oooof, vod. 

merry: – so the reason we’re making this recording is that we were the ones to get wrung through the senate and back testing those rules. 

dezz: we were out in the middle of asshole, nowhere -

merry: planet didn’t have a name. think it was … xk3-49-0j1? desert planet. 

dezz: so, asshole, nowhere. 

merry: [ resting his head in his hands ] sure, dezz. whatever shines your deecee.

ish: we were doing relief work there. they were seppies, who had bowed back into the republic. the seperatists weren’t happy with that, so they tried to bomb the place. our flight platoons were sent out too meet and intercept them, while the ground platoons dodged the space battle and began putting up shields, just in case any ships or debris got through. 

hellion: it didn’t. 

merry: we’re good at our jobs. anyway. the seperatists scram after they realize they’ve got more resistance than they were counting on, so all of us land eventually and begin helping some with relief work - supplies and rations and so on. 

dezz: by the way, desert planet doesn’t sum it up well enough. any hotter, and it would have melted straight through our shabla armor, and it was about as dry as tarkin’s wife’s dried up old - 

merry smacks dezz in the back off the head, cutting him off. ]

ish: with a tone of very forced calmness ] anyway! there was … a complicated sort of caste system we never did manage to work around that well. there was one sort of … 

hellion: slave.

ish: i … yes. the lowest caste was essentially a slave caste. but we didn’t know that, of course. so we’re unpacking supplies, setting up, and merry sees this kid, about yay high [ draws a line in the air, about four feet off the ground ] watching him. 

merry: i ended up asking what the kid wanted, and she looked like she wanted to dig a hole into the ground and die in it, but just said “nothing”. ad’ika looked like a strong breeze would knock her over, though, so i gave her a couple of ration bars, and the rest of my water canteen. kid needed it more than me. her eyes turned larger than coruscant, i swear. 

dezz: awww, you big sap. 

ish: so - merry does that, moves on. but then it keeps happening to vod’e - kids staring at them, getting food or water. turns out they were from that lowest caste - they would’ve been last to get any of the supplies we’d brought, if any at all. 

hellion: not right. 

merry: not at all. we were arguing what we could do about it almost the whole time we were there. turns out dezz here had already made a choice. [ jerks his head in dezz’s direction. 

dezz: well, you know i’ve always been very … hands-on. wiggles the fingers of one hand demonstratively. it’s a prosthetic. merry gives him a withering glare, and he grins. ] anyway. i end up hiding … we’ve got a lot of empty storage room the supplies had taken up, right? so i sneak as many of those kids onto the ships as i can. 

ish: we might’ve found out, and i’m not sure what we might’ve done, but we got called back to coruscant early, and had to pack up and leave. so turns out - we didn’t find out until we were unloading the ships, back on the cruiser, about three-fourths of the way through hyperspace. 

merry: several people weren’t pleased with this. mostly politicians. 

dezz: misi was, but chyth felt like we’d put ourselves too much out in the spotlight with this - the senate was debating over this, and the leaders of the planet had contacted them, furious about it and wanting compensation for the lost labor. 

ish: credit to merry for his idea, honestly. it was … more effective than i’d ever have thought. 

merry: i just stated that we were following the old mandalorian traditions of adoption. they were parentless, and our allies, so we had stepped up to fill the role. 

ish: there was nothing officially yet that said clones couldn’t have kids, after all.

hellion: yet. 

merry: they are arguing about how strict it should be, now. but … i’m not a huge fan of duchess satine, but she confirmed that both in old and new mandalorian tradition, it was a hallowed custom. so we owe her that much, at least. 

dezz: for a pacifist, she sure does love having things to fight over. 

merry: that’s not what that - anyway. the senate eventually grudgingly states that the kids are ours. but we don’t … really have a homeworld, or homes, or an income, so if we don’t figure that one out, they’ll get taken away from us again. 

ish: someone else’s traditions saved us there. organa stepped up, saying that alderaan had a long history of humanitarian aid, especially in this war, and that he’d be happy to give the children homes until we could have more permanent ones. the senate didn’t like it, per se, but they do like things being convenient. 

dezz: and dooku is secretly general ti in drag.

merry: rubbing his face ] they like things being convenient for them. organa taking them meant they didn’t have to argue about this any more.   

ish: so we got to go with him, to help the kids set up. they spoke … it was a kinda different kind of basic, but we’d figured each other out well enough after this long. a few of them just wouldn’t let go of us. the first one, the one merry met, was clinging to his armor like she could weigh him down enough to make him stay there. 

merry: ib’zu. that was her name. [ he laughs softly ] ib’zu fett, i suppose, now. she’s a smart kid, even if she’s only four-dot-five. [ dezz elbows him. ] or - if you’re a nat watching this, your nine. 

hellion: taa’na. u’va. jait. 

ish: those were your kids, right? [ hellion nods curtly. ] mine were ja’sei, favo, khyre, and mav’la. i ended up naming the last one - he was still just learning to walk, didn’t have a name yet. i figured … he should have one like ours. 

hellion: freedom.

ish: mhm. 

dezz: i think outta all of us, i ended up with the most - a lot of them kind of followed me around, since i’d been the one to let them stow away in the first place. aisr’e, m’tana, jiphor, kee, lhu, va’na, n’sell. 

merry: i had ib’zu, of course. and h’yain. i don’t think i could take care of - how many was that, dezz, seven kids? 

dezz: laughs, but then stops short, looking at merry. ] are you planning on living with them, after the war? 

merry: aren’t you? 

dezz: definitely not. best place for ‘em is probably right where they are. i wanted to help them, sure, but that doesn’t mean i’m any good with kids. 

silence for a few seconds, merry shifting some in his seat. 

ish: - so that’s the first case that came up in regards to the clones having children, whether biological or adopted. though … i suppose biological might be a whole different disaster to deal with. 

dezz: as if there aren’t a few hundred little fetts running round the galaxy. have you seen our face? no way there haven’t been a few vod’e who - [ he makes a crude gesture, then immediately dodges merry trying to smack him again. ]

ish: takes a deep breath, pressing his hands together. ] i think that’s a good place to end this one. thank you for listening, whoever you are. ret'urcye mhi.


Chapter Text

‘ jate nau’uture, boba, ‘ jango says, and boba’s head flies upwards, scrambling to his feet. jango can’t help the smile that breaks across his feet as he crouches to intercept the fierce hug boba gives him, picking up his son with the boy’s momentum and laughing as his mess of curls tickles his nose, boba clinging tightly. 

‘ dad! i thought you weren’t gonna be back for another couple cycles! ‘ 

jango presses a kiss to the top of boba’s head. ‘ i wasn’t. ‘ it could have been a much cleaner job if he had staked it out for another week and a half like he usually might’ve, but there were more important things he had to attend to, and the client only needed them dead. he kneels, setting boba down. ‘ i couldn’t let you celebrate alone, could i? ‘ 

boba shuffles his feet, one small hand still clutching onto jango’s pauldron as if he’s worried jango will disappear again. ‘ not all alone. some’a the others came for the first night, when they saw you weren’t gonna be here. ‘ 

looking over boba’s head, jango could now see the aftermath of that, frowning at what must have been presents. a few candy wrappers, but also something that looked like it had been fashioned out of a security droid, and a holopad that had definitely been stolen off of one of the kaminoans. he’d have to talk with them later. 

‘ were they? was it fun? ‘ he asks, keeping his tone light and happy for his son. 

boba shrugs, a little half-hearted. ‘ didn’ feel right without you bein’ there. we didn’t get to the special words or anything. ‘ 

jango nods. and bites his lower lip for a moment, thinking. the boys were being raised mando, anyway. and … however clumsy their attempts, they’d been there for boba the night he had missed. ( and hadn’t nau’uture been accomplished by a clan? two made a family, and one he was perfectly happy with, but maybe he owed this much to his other children. )

‘ hey, boba. do you want it to be just you and me tonight, or do you want some of your brothers to join us for the chant? ‘ 

boba’s little face wrinkles up, clearly thinking about it hard. ‘ i want them here tonight, ‘ he starts slowly, ‘ but next night, can it just be me and you, dad? ‘ 

jango pulls his son tight into his arms. ‘ of course, ner’ad. ‘

this was certainly the most unconventional nau’uture he’d had, but he supposes, in a way, that it’s closest to the original. a hundred and one boys, most of them twice as old as the other, stand in a huddled, wide-eyed arc around him, and around the beacon. 

‘ boba, ‘ he says, gently, and boba latches onto his leg, looking up at him. jango smiles. ‘ it’s tradition for the oldest son to begin the chant. ‘ because, technically, boba was. even if he didn’t look it. ‘ do you remember the words? ‘ 

boba stands up straight, shoulders set, and nods with a fierce determination that almost makes jango chuckle. his small voice rings out in the training hall, lit by the three beacons. ( second night. ) his mando’a fumbles in a few places, tripping over the formal phrasing, but his voice is strong. 

‘ partayli val meg r’akaani mhi, ijaat resol’nare, rejorhaa mhi nau’ur goyust par nau’uture. ‘ 

( we remember those who fought before us, and honor the resol’nare, which tells us to light the road/way for nau’uture. )

he begins the second verse, and startles some when a wave of a murmur comes from behind him, each of the hundred jango was training whispering or murmuring or outright stating the words. 

jango watched with a hand on boba’s shoulder, and felt pride, and didn’t allow himself to pick apart that feeling. it was nau’uture. clan, even in circumstances like this, was to be celebrated. 

Chapter Text

he barely remembers it, but certain parts stand out clear in his mind. the sudden lack, the sheer contrast of there being no pain. not even a dull ache. being unstrapped from the medical table ( he’d been thinking of it as a dissection table for however long he’d been here, if he was honest. ) and put into a stretcher, the thin mattress pad feeling almost like a luxury. 

the smell of bacta as he drifted in and out of consciousness for manda knows how long, the feeling of floating. he wonders if this is what the womb feels like, for natborns. 

the sound of arguing, above and around him. he - had to be wrong, but he could swear once he saw an angry fives, jabbing a finger at one of the kaminoans over his stretcher. 

the rain, and the sound of it, now that they weren’t deep enough in the bowels of kamino that it was muffled through plastisteel and duracrete. 

one memory, a little starker than the rest. he was being moved, again, and they had ( who had? ) pulled off the mask on his face, the top of his stretcher opening, and 38′s face looking down on him. ( the one trooper not strapped down, in the donor rooms. some of the longer donors called him k’cyar. a mangled mix of the words killer and sweet. he was the one who administered decommission, down there. ) 

he would flinch, when 38 reaches for his face, leaning down, but his muscles have been rigid for so long, he doesn’t quite remember how, still groggy from sedative. 38 gently presses their foreheads together. 

‘ k’oyacyi, dogma, ‘ he says, so softly dogma thinks he’s imagining it. ‘ don’t come back here. don’t ever come back. ‘ 

ten days later, he walks for the first time in months. 

Chapter Text

there was a new kid in their training squad today. it was one of the bigger groups, so he mostly just got a few couple odd looks. jax wondered what group he’d been in, and how he had been shifted to join them - he looked a little older than them. something in the eyes, maybe, or in the way he held his shoulders. you could tell things like that, when everyone looked like you.

boba knew how to get into his and his father’s room from the outside, and there had been old uniforms there. it was a problem when he learned that they’d changed the uniform for kids around his age, but one he’d managed to avoid - an older clone had caught him, given him an odd look, but boba just looked angry ( which wasn’t hard for him ) and said that one of his batchers had stolen his clothes, and this old one had been all he could find.

they were even less comfortable than he remembered.

some of this stuff came … it was harder than he was comfortable with. his aim was good, of course. jango had always been sure of that. so was his technical knowledge of all the ships the republic was using, and he had been getting great scores on all the puzzles and so on meant to test their cognitive speed.

but. there were some disadvantages to being jango, unedited.

he first learned this the second day of integrating himself into this group. the trainer had led each of them to a raised circular platform. with a band running through the center, and then strapped - a mask? a tube connected to it - oh. an oxygen mask, he reasoned.

he almost panicked when the glass tube rose around each of them but kept from visibly reacting. less so when they filled with water. or - not water, but. liquid. he could still breathe, and - he was standing still, on the podium. he hadn’t even adjusted to that when the floor started moving, fast enough to slam his back into the glass of the tube. 

he caught on quickly enough. 

he wasn’t out of shape at all. more so than most boys his age would be, really. but these were clones, and they had been training like this for their whole lives, and boba’s food supply had been … scarce, after jango’s death. 

for the two miles or so, he keeps up with them, proud of himself despite the burn in his chest and legs. we have to end soon, he thinks, keeps thinking, as the miles they’ve run ticks up from two, to three, to four, and he begins to slow drastically. 

he could run at this breakneck pace or he could run this far. but he couldn’t maintain this speed. his lungs felt like they were trying to crawl out of his throat, and his vision was red around the edges, so he closed his eyes, trying to pump his arms and move his legs faster, even as they cried that it was impossible. 

around mile seven, his body just gave out under him. his knees buckled, and once again, he was sent slamming into the glass wall. 

he wakes up later, shivering and wearing nothing but the thin grey underclothes they’ve been given, in a kamino medbay so pristine and white his eyes hurt. there’s a datapad on the operation table next to him, and he leans over. the writing is in kaminoan, but he’d learned that long ago, and though he was rusty, it comes back to him easy enough. 

even if he didn’t, the blaring red letters would be a clear bad sign. 

he makes it to the next day. and the next. and the next. 

a thought dwells in his chest, as he makes his way through the squads, never staying in one long enough to have a genuine impression formed of him, but long enough that people at least knew him from seeing him around. he was invisible, here. 

but the thought that scared him - he had always thought of himself as better than his father’s clones, as a matter of fact. but this … there’s a small, treacherous voice that speaks inside of him as his hands tear and blister or as he throws up, staggering out of flash training. 

what if he’s not better than them at all? what if he’s worse? 

Chapter Text


Chapter Text

‘ you are command stock. ‘ 

they don’t answer her, the lot of them all standing to attention, and internally, she sighs. not that she doesn’t appreciate the militant nature these boys have already - they’re more disciplined than some armies she’s seen, but it makes them a little bit stiff around the edges. 

‘ reply, ner’hibe. ‘

a low chorus of ‘ elek, ver’alor jarkiv, ‘ rises from the group, and she nods, her jaw set. ‘ sit down. ‘ obediently, they follow her instructions, moving as a group, as they so often do. this group has more independence than most, given that they’re commanders-to-be, but still … 

( it was unsettling. they looked like twelve year old boys, after all. that shabuir jango had never warned them about that part. though jarkiv thought he might’ve been taken by surprise by it just as much as they were. )

‘ shut your eyes. ‘ when they have, she begins speaking, a story she’d heard several times herself. ‘ the first mandalorians were closer to avian than anything else. we use the jaig eyes, like 7567, to show valor and as a sign that you have fought in defense of your tribe or of mandalore. ‘ 

old words. they should be spoken in mando’a, not basic, and the story is lost some for the translation. but they’ve been told to get the boys used to basic. troops for the republic, after all. 

‘ some part of you, each of you, are still jai'galaare. ‘ the cadets all tense as she stands, but their eyes don’t open, and she smiles slightly, giving an approving nod. ‘ some part of you is still wild. ‘ she ruffles one of the boys’ hair roughly in passing, shaking his head some, with a bark of a laugh. ‘ though i suppose you’d be more of a wolf, eh, ad’ika? ‘ 

he doesn’t respond, but she catches the corners of wolffe’s mouth twitching up. 

‘ picture that. that wildness. you have never known anything but kamino, but it is in you, somewhere. ‘ ( practically speaking, it was true. they’d been receiving the trainers’ memories via flashes since they were still in the tubes. ) ‘ what do you see? ‘ 

‘ a moon, i think. ‘ one of them speaks, first. ‘ red sands, and … wind. ‘ 

‘ snow. i think. we’ve only ever heard of snow. ‘ 

‘ a canyon. all dark stone and tough grasses. ‘

‘ trees. ‘ this one is kote. a promising cadet if she’d ever seen one. ‘ they’re … tall, and the branches are all at the top. dark green, and … orange below. all … needles. ‘ 

‘ what do you hear? ‘ 

‘ just the wind. ‘ 

one of the cadets is tapping, their knee bouncing wildly, and she smiles. she had been like that, the first time her trainer had walked her through this training meditation. 

‘ silence. ‘ it’s kote, speaking softly. he’s almost eerily still. ‘ silence in the woods. ‘ 

they sit like that for another two minutes quietly, each of them lost in their own wilderness. the closest thing they’d have to getting off kamino, for another four long years. about a lifetime for them. 

she lets them have this moment. something old, something like freedom. 

then she claps her hands together briskly. ‘ alright, boys. stand to. ‘ 

Chapter Text

man you know what would be a really interesting story to write

there’s a force sensitive cadet in like - one of the earliest batches, like the alphas or command class or something. ( maybe it’s cody! maybe it’s a baby cody or ponds! ) and when i say cadet, i mean they’re like - 2, equiv 4, or so. 

jango Hates the jedi. but he’s not stupid enough to not guess what decommission means, or why it’s being applied contemplatively as a solution to this four-year-old who’s just a little bit different in the wrong sort of way - and a part of him is also just curious. 

dooku has his schemes, but jango hates him as well. ( he’s a practical man, and his hatred is much the same. he doesn’t hide it from dooku. they both remember galidraan. but he acts as if he’s moved past it. there is always the future for revenge. )

so a three-or-four year old equivalent age baby clone gets, like so many do, dropped off at the door to the jedi temple.

( there’s a bit of a murmur caused by it, if only for the fact that the man who brought the child was in full mando armor. the two groups have some history, to say the least, and the man is gone as soon as he came. )

and this is - eight years or so before the clone army will be discovered. so there’s just a young mando boy, brought into the creche and treated like all the other children, because they have no reason, really, to suspect he’s anything but. ( later, while doing check-ups on him, they discover that his growth is accelerated, but it’s just assumed he’s some-part nonhuman or something. )

they grow up in the jedi temple, and would in all likelihood be a padawan when everything is set into motion. 

and then the clone army is discovered, and some old part of him remembers, remembers kamino and remembers thousands of brothers and remembers jango, even. he goes with yoda, when it comes time to pick his brothers up. 

the question of are these men people no longer exists, because it is asked, once, briefly, and the - he’s not a cadet any more, if he had stayed, he would be one of them, the soldiers in armor on the field - levels burning gold eyes at the asker. 

they are my brothers, he says, and that is the end of it. 

Chapter Text

rang used to be lye, a very sort of carefree flyboy pilot in the 212th who grinned too much and cheated in sabacc so much to the point his old unit claims that he just didn't actually know the rules anymore. there was a space battle over a planet fluctuating between republic and seppie control, with the seps slowly gaining the upper hand. lye's squadron came in as reinforcement and did what they could to ward off the vulture or hyena droids or enemy fighters so that the cruisers had a shot of escaping, or the gunships from the surface had a chance of getting back to them, but it was a giant mess of a firefight. hyena droids swarmed lye's ship, and before he could do anything, they shattered into the cockpit, and he was sucked right out into space. the republic fled the system what felt like . . . it could have been minutes or hours later, he didn't know. but they didn't bother to do a lifescan of the debris. why bother, after all? so lye was left floating alone in space.



pilots have pressurized suits, and enough oxygen to get them through a few days in case of . . . well, this, but it had only ever been in theory, a worst case scenario that was never supposed to happen.



rang spent a little bit over 3 days just floating in the debris from the battle, unable to make contact with the republic from what was now seppie space, or even really propel himself around from where he was, or get to a ship. he was a pilot, and unarmed, so he couldn't even end it quickly, rather than pulling off his helmet and wating for space to take him or floating until his oxygen ran out. a seperatist ship was actually the one to find him.



it was some diplomat, running a relief mission to the planet the republic and the seppies had torn up below them. heroes on both sides, after all. they detected what they thought was an anomaly - a lifescan blip, in space. but - they investigated, anyway, and pulled rang on board. to his surprise, they never gave him over to the droids or something like that. he was put into a cell, yes, of course he was, but he had a chance to strip out of his armor and clean himself and even offered new clothes. he actually stayed with them for awhile. they never tried to force information out of him, but he gave some to them, anyway. none that he felt like could hurt his brothers, but . . . information, anyway. some slight petty revenge against a republic that had left him for dead.



some point later in time, the 439th actually captured/boarded the diplomat's ship. assuming rang was a prisoner, he was brought back on board the mercurial. he told his story to captain chyth, and there was some deliberation before they ruled that what he had done was . . . understandable. or if nothing else, he deserved a second chance. so he got new armor, tattooed himself to the point of being unrecognizable/where his face was more ink than bare skin, and cropped off his hair, and quit being a pilot altogether, joining a ground platoon instead. understandably, he didn't want to be in a fighter ever again.



he cares about his brothers, and that's it.

Chapter Text

‘ i’m sorry, you know. ‘ 

he’s back in his own cell, now a floor below krell’s body, two floors below any of the umbarans - alone. his helmet is somewhere on the floor above him, and fives is - on guard, he supposes. his eyes squeeze shut, shoulders hunched over. in his armor, he shivers, the sweat soaked into his blacks chilling him through, forced to sit on the cell floor. 

he doesn’t look up at fives. 

‘ for … the execution. i’m sorry. i thought - ‘ he chokes on his words, head dropping, defeated. ‘ i thought i was doing the right thing, ‘ he says, and the words sound hollow even to him, nose stinging, the telltale sign of tears. he doesn’t want to see fives’ face, the contempt for him he’s sure is there just one more time. 

( he deserves it. he deserves fives’ sneer or his harsh words. )

he drags his eyes up to fives’ face because he doesn’t deserve to hide from it, the conviction bled out of him, and tenses, waiting for the anger he’s sure will be there. 

it isn’t. 

fives looks … sad. unbearably, deeply sad, and dogma shrinks away from that. he doesn’t deserve fives mourning for him. 

there’s a warble of technology, and dogma looks up with wide eyes as the rayshield door to his cell powers down, fives crouching next to him and reaching for him, and dogma’s eyes squeeze shut, but his hands drop away from his face, away from the defense. i deserve it. i was wrong. i was so wrong, and you almost - i could have - 

he waits for a blow that never comes. 

fives’ hand clasps the back of his head, and their foreheads press together, the solid presence of the arc trooper contrasting hard with dogma’s - he hadn’t realized he was trembling. shaking. 

‘ oh, vod’ika, ‘ fives says, and that grief is there again, and dogma wonders why. what had he done that would make anyone miss him? he had failed, he had failed as a trooper and as a brother and - 

‘ i’m sorry, ‘ he whispers, breath heaving in his chest, and he realizes that there’s a tear rolling down his cheek. ‘ i’m so sorry, fives, i’m sorry - ‘ 

‘ it’s alright, vod’ika. ‘ fives says, and holds him there, holds him steady, doesn’t allow him to shake. ‘ it’s alright. i forgive you. you were doing your best, dogma. i forgive you. ‘ 

dogma lets out a broken little sob, and fives pulls him tight to his chest, dogma’s handcuffed wrists trapped between them. 

he remembers fives volunteering to lead him around, at the start of the mission. how well he and tup got along. his hand, lowering dogma’s white-knuckled ones around the stolen pistol.

maybe in another life, we could have been friends. a better one. 

Chapter Text

‘ i’m misi! ‘ he calls out, spitting his padawan braid out of his mouth and grimacing, red dust seemingly making a concentrated effort to coat every crack and plane of his face, even with the shelter they got behind the crag of rock. he yelped, swearing, as a chunk of rock was blown out suddenly by a blaster bolt over his shoulder. 

wish i had one of those helmets right now, he mused, considering one of the clones with him - there had been something shouted and orders given in the confused rush of action, and now he was … in charge of them? he supposed? 

( there’s a smug part of him somewhere deep down that’s just glad to be the one in charge for once; the braid he’s tucking behind one ear now seems to be there for the sole purpose of making sure people don’t take him seriously. )

‘ what’re your names? ‘ he asks, after they’ve dashed from this outcrop to the next, one of the faceless soldiers downed by a flash of light from one of the geonosian guns - something makes all of this seem less-than-real, the sound too much, lights and colors too much, like something in a holofilm. not real, the consequences weren’t real. 

‘ ct-819, sir. that’s ct-1190, ct-4884, ct- ‘ 

misi waves his hand, already having forgotten half the numbers. ‘ sorry, no, like - your names names. ‘

he can’t tell with the helmets, but he thinks there’s an uneasy look passed between two of them. 

ct- 819? he thinks? speaks up. ‘ we don’t have them, sir. ‘ 

misi frowns. he’d chosen his name, when the one he’d had hadn’t fit anymore. it makes it … not sit right, the tension in their bodies when 819 says that. it doesn’t feel … right. the same sort of in-your-throat nervousness he’d had trying to keep being [that dead name], when people said she or [that dead name]. 

‘ not even nicknames or anything? ‘

another pause. 

‘ geo, ‘ one of them says eventually. ‘ i’m geo. that’s tyni, and devib, and clink. ‘

( geo makes it out. misi sees him again, months later, drafted back into the 439th, and grins, recognizing him and his name. )

the doubt comes later, the battle won. 

he was sure it would be a question more of the jedi asked, misi making sure to note differences in their force signatures or armor so he could remember which was which. but he stood there, through the meeting with the different clone commanders and captains and - 

thank you, trooper. soldier. captain. commander. pass on the orders to trooper 2129, soldier. we honor your unit’s sacrifice, soldier. 

he holds his tongue, of course. he’d just spent almost two weeks stuck on library duty, and before that, there had been three days in the creche - maybe this was what they preferred? if they really wanted to be called by their names, they’d speak up about it, right?

( later, back resting against the ‘fresher wall, he tells himself he knows damn well that’s not the case. he’d been misi years before he’d had the courage to ask. )

Chapter Text

the power remains on the fritz in the lower coruscanti levels for weeks after the bombing. it’s easy for the jedi temple and for the senators in their ivory towers; their backup generators have backups, but for some of these lower floors, the generators taken out in the seperatist attack were the only ones their homes connected to. 

still, they do what they can. it’s slow work, it is, down here - clearing out the rubble by hand and by speeders not designed for the job of hauling duracrete. one of the local clubs has their own power generator, and shuts down the place’s usual activities, inviting people whose houses were unlivable at the moment to spend the night there. 

the lights were in bright neon colors, and it smelt like tabac smoke and the memory of bodies writhing against each other, but no one complained. it had power, and it had running water, and whatever they may have been used for in the past, it had beds. 

flashlights and candles are distributed. water is hoarded and fought over. slowly, slowly, they work on fixing their own generator, sending another droid up to the higher levels to remind the senate not to forget about them. 

the safety of the citizens of the republic is our highest concern, the automated response would always say, two days later. we are working diligently to restore your living conditions. please, remain calm. 

biarh, picking her way through the rubble to bring water to the women currently taking it apart, finds a trooper in the red-and-white armor of the coruscant guard, though not all of the red stains on his armor are paint. his lips are chapped dry, and he coughs when she takes off his helmet. 

she sits by him, holding his hand and gently tipping the water bottle into his mouth in small careful sips until his hand goes limp. with how scarce water is, perhaps she shouldn’t have wasted it on a dead man. but she has three sons of her own, and his eyes had looked as young as one of them, and she could feel him shaking when she held his hand. 

( he’s the first one they find, but not the last. they were left for dead just as much as the civilians were. most of them aren’t moving when they’re found. three of them make it, in the end, brought back on speeders and given water and food, what they can spare. )

i’m sorry, one of them says, looking feverish, his eyes drawing together as the old herbalist, netta, tends to the crushed remain of his hand. ( they’d called her a quack, sure, but she had skilled hands, old though they were. there weren’t any surgeons, not down here. ) i’m sorry we didn’t stop it. 

it’s alright, netta says firmly, resting a wet cloth over your eyes. it was not your fault. 

and somehow, they all know that’s the truth. looking back up the transport shafts to where the light occasionally pinpricks down, they somehow know whose fault it is. 

but what can they do but survive it? 

Chapter Text

cody, when he was very small, loved jango, in the absolute sort of way that kids do, without it necessarily making sense at all. jango had no idea who cc-2224 was, nor did he especially care. they were command stock, so sometimes he would oversee their training briefly, but that was the extent of it. 

but clones are a tight-knit group, and people need stories, and jango got … kind of deified, a little bit, almost, by the youngest batches of clones, who looked up to him as a bounty hunter and, as their progenitor, something-like-a-father. 

cody was about four and a half when he realized the scope of jango’s indifference. 

it didn’t take him much longer after that; he didn’t even reach five before he’d given up trying to change that. even as a kid, cody was sort of … pragmatic. jango cared about his work and his son. once the genetic sample that was cody split into multiple cells in the cloning vat, became kaminoan property, cody was neither. 

but he can be pragmatic without being cruel. 

the younger clones still need stories, after all. so he never tells any of them, when they ask, that jango didn’t care. he remembers looking hopefully up at one of the glass tunnels, and seeing his own eyes, old and cold and turning away after a moment, and cody does his best not to become his father. 

Chapter Text

‘ let the case of clone trooper 5381, rank of sergeant, be resumed. captain rex, as his commanding officer, i understand you have an appeal you’d like to make in the defense of 5381? ‘ 

dogma’s eyes, in the pod where he sits with his hands cuffed and his shoulders slumped, dart up to rex, brows drawing together in confusion. why were he and fives still fighting for him? it was easiest for everyone if this case was wrapped up neatly. best for the 501st if there was one person on which to place the blame of umbara - a turned jedi, and so many men dead. 

but it kept dragging on. 

dogma could almost feel the hostility growing in the room as the senators had to keep listening to a trial that should have taken an hour at most - it was only a formality, anyway, slated for decommission was already printed neatly on dogma’s file. 

rex stands up, and there’s an odd look in his eyes. the veterans of the 501st watch with something walking the line between excitement and wariness; fives remembers it from right before rex approached the blast doors, holding a droid head in front of the cameras. it shouldn’t have worked, but it did. 

‘ thank you, vice speaker, ‘ rex says, nodding to mas amedda. ‘ i want to ask senator burtoni something. ‘ and his eyes fix on the kaminoan senator as a murmur ripples through the crowd. burtoni had been advocating for dogma’s swift decommission from the start, even offering to complete it on coruscant and take his body back to kamino for the autopsy. 

burtoni’s dark eyes narrow, but she tips her head, inclining that rex can speak. 

rex’s hands fold efficiently behind his back. ‘ senator burtoni. can you please tell the members of the senate what the contingency orders for the grand army of the republic are? ‘

‘ of course, ‘ she says, long fingers folding together. ‘ they are a series of contingency orders given to the clones to be carried out under certain circumstances. i fail to see how they are relevant at this time. ‘ 

there’s a grim but steely look to rex as he nods once, and continues. ‘ senator burtoni. can you describe to us contingency order 66? ‘ 

her eyes narrow at rex as she seems to follow the path that his logic is taking, but she can’t refuse; even if she does, they are available for military record, and would be able to be referenced in a court-martial. 

‘ … yes. in the event of jedi officers acting against the interests of the republic, and after receiving specific orders verified as coming directly from the supreme chancellor, gar commanders will remove those officers by lethal force, and command of the gar will revert to the supreme chancellor until a new command structure is established. however. clone trooper 5381 was not given such a contingency order, nor was he contacted by the chancellor to give him the authority to execute general krell. ‘ 

‘ no, ‘ rex concedes. ‘ but isn’t the purpose of contingency orders to put in place procedures for the gar in worst-case scenarios? dogma was not in contact with the chancellor, no. but i invite the senator to remember that krell had sabotaged our communications. we were isolated from making contact even with ghost company. ‘ 

he leans forwards in the defense booth, making his points one by one. ‘ as sergeant dogma’s commanding officer, i ask the senate to take this contingency order under consideration. krell was a jedi officer acting against the interest of the republic, dogma removed said officer with lethal force, and we were placed under the command of the chancellor, staying with the coruscant guard, until such a time as general skywalker was able to be re-established as our commanding officer. ‘ 

chancellor palpatine looks thoughtful, fingertips pressing together, even as halle burtoni turns to look at him. ‘ sir, this cannot be allowed as part of sergeant dogma’s case. the contingency orders are irrelevant to - ‘ palpatine holds up a hand gently, silencing her. 

‘ thank you, captain rex, ‘ he says, tipping his head graciously. ‘ this will - ‘ and halle burtoni glowers ‘ - be taken into consideration during the vote for … dogma’s fate. if there are no other points you wish to bring up at this time, we would like to ask the clone officers to leave the room so we can properly discuss this case. ‘ 

‘ nothing further to report, sir. ‘ 

Chapter Text

for the first time, he wishes their bodies weren’t so well-designed. his feet continue to go through the motions, the treadmill set at one of the highest speeds it gets to, but it doesn’t hurt. 

sweat drips down his back, and the cold air stings his lungs, though, and that feels real enough. he can pretend, now, the clenching feeling settling behind his ribs is from oxygen debt, rather than the facts of the matter not sitting well with him. 

he keeps running. 

his body starts to inform him he needs water. vehemently, he ignores it, finding some sort of grim satisfaction in the fatigue beginning to settle into his body, his head aching as he keeps his eyes focused on the training room wall. he can feel the skin on the back of his heel beginning to be rubbed raw. if he doesn’t stop for a moment, adjust his boots or tape it, it’ll probably become a blister. 

he keeps running. 

‘cody? ‘ 

it’s all it takes - there’s not been any interruption for the hours he’s been in here, and he glances towards the doors at the familiar voice, and his timing is thrown off - the treadmill’s moving too fast, and the stumble makes him keep going backwards, the air knocked out of him hard when his back hits the ground. 

spots swim in front of his vision as he stares blankly up at the training room ceiling, chest heaving now that it finally gets the chance to catch his breath. distantly, he hears the sound of the treadmill being turned off, footsteps approaching him. 

rex crouches beside him. ‘ hey, ner’vod. ‘ he offers cody a hand up, and after a moment, cody takes it, rex pulling him to sit up, one hand steady and supporting his shoulder, keeping him upright. rex’s face is calm, and there’s no pity there, and for that, cody is glad. he doesn’t think he could deal with pity right now. 

slowly, he lets himself lean forwards, forehead pressing into rex’s shoulder, exhaustion hitting him hard. distantly, he’s aware he’s shaking slightly. how long was he running, again? there’s a cool sting of air against the sweat soaking through his blacks. 

rex steadies him, one hand anchoring cody at the back of his head. 

‘ am i supposed to just . . . act like nothing happened, rex? ‘ cody says eventually, his weight still resting on his brother. it didn’t sit well with him. none of it. he had gotten on coruscant, thinking he was going to have to be reassigned to a new general, just to freeze on the walkway. 

kenobi was standing there - beardless, hairless, for some reason, but undoubtedly kenobi. his general. alive. 

he had been dead when cody had been sent away, a few weeks ago. 

( cody had wanted to go to the funeral. had begun to turn coruscant-bound, when the council contacted him, told him he was unable to go. gave him a new mission. and later, kenobi had told him that it had been his plan, to fake his death. that cody being sent away had just been part of the deception. )

‘ what do i do, rex? ‘ he asks, eventually. the training room is cold, now, with the adrenaline slowly beginning to wear off, the air stinging at the sweat where it soaked through his blacks.

‘ i don’t know, cody, ‘ rex says, but he’s there, still, solid and holding him upright, tugging him close when cody shudders. cody rests his forehead heavily on rex’s shoulder. how am i supposed to trust him again, rex? he thinks, but doesn’t say. ‘ but i’m here, vod. ‘ 

there’s another question nagging on cody’s mind. 

why didn’t he trust me? 

Chapter Text

he picks his way through the rubble, having walked from their landing site to the command center here - not that far a walk, and it gave him time to scope the perimeter, quietly noting which of the winding streets or tall buildings might be strategic in a fight, and which ones might just be collapsable death traps. 

organa is talking to one of the men who originally came with him on the relief mission - cody thinks they might be coruscant guard? their armor doesn’t have unit markings, besides some to signify rank - the vod holding a helmet that looked like it had seen some damage, the visor cracked in three places, the white plastisteel tinged from smoke. 

the trooper salutes hurriedly, upon seeing him, and cody rests a hand on his upper arm, feels him shake even through his armor. these vod’e have been at it constantly, a relief mission turned into a bombing-out and a constant barrage of attacks. 

‘ get some rest, soldier, ‘ he says, quietly, and sees the relief flaring across their eyes as they salute again, walking towards one of the base camps. 

cody turns to the senator, who is now puzzling over one of the consoles, and rests a hand on his shoulder. his experience with politicians is … limited, but they call kenobi the negotiator. maybe that’s close enough. 

he steers organa over to one of the larger chunks of rubble by the shoulder, ignoring his surprise, and pushes him to sit down, firmly without being rough. organa looks like he might have protested, but then slumps forwards some - by cody’s estimation, it’s been four days since they’ve had an opportunity to sleep. rubbing his eyes, he looks back up at cody. 

‘ thank you. i don’t think i realized … ‘ he waves a hand vaguely. 

cody sits across from him, pulls off his helmet. he smiles wryly. ‘ adrenalin is a hell of a numbing agent. but you can’t stay on your feet forever, sir. ‘ 

organa looks … troubled. ‘ that’s not what i … ‘ he shakes his head, trailing off. ‘ nevermind. ‘ he shifts on the chunk of building where he’s sitting now, looks up to cody with an expression cody can’t really read. ‘ is this what it’s always like? ‘ 

‘ the front? more or less, ‘ cody says truthfully. ‘ at least the environment here isn’t working against us as well. ‘ 

‘ how do you do this, constantly? ‘ cody has the slightly uncomfortable feeling of listening in on a conversation; it doesn’t seem like organa was addressing him, even though it couldn’t logically be anyone else. 

he shrugs once. ‘ we’re built for it, sir. ‘ 

organa … studies him, maybe? fierfek, he has been spending too much time with jedi. at least when they have emotions, it’s easy enough to read them. the senator’s sabacc face is much stronger. ‘ that doesn’t mean … even so. that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard on you. ‘ 

cody … typically wouldn’t speak this bluntly to a senator. but of the troops that came with organa, a good eighty percent of them have made it through, and that’s better than many jedi would be able to say. ‘ no. it doesn’t. but that’s just the way it is. ‘

Chapter Text

cody has been in more gunship crashes than he can remember. ( the number of concussions received in said crashes lends itself to that problem; after a certain point they begin to blend together. )

there are always a few things that remain consistent, whether it be jabiim or umbara or geonosis or felucia or mimban. 

the first thing is a sinking in your gut. cody, like many veterans, can often feel it, right before something is about to go to every one of the correllian hells. a low, sour feeling in his stomach, usually followed by some sort of explosion. 

the next is the initial hit. the pilot will be shot to the head, the controls will overload, one of the wings will be blown clean off, hyena droids will tear through the wirings - but universally, there’s that one first jarring blow, rattling the ship. 

then, the descent. clinging onto the rows of handles and trying to brace yourself for impact, the air whistling by in a streak of fire and color, the blasterfire surrounding reduced to a dull thrum of background noise as the ground rushed closer to you, hoping that the fuel tank wouldn’t blow on impact or get a hit to it and send them all to the manda. 

right before hitting the ground, there’s a moment of weightlessness. for just a second, a feeling like floating. 

and then, impact. metal crumpling, the gunship screaming along the ground, bracing yourself and trying to keep yourself in place so that it wasn’t your body, slammed too-hard by the gunship’s momentum, that killed your brother. the smell of fuel, the horrible screeching of metal grinding down. 

retrospectively, he thinks, falling in love is more of a crash landing than anything else. 

the sinking feeling must have happened . . . what, when he had been assigned? he and rex had been issued to kenobi and skywalker around the same time, and he remembered telling rex he seems like a good man, but i’m . . . worried, for some reason. rex snorted, and told him he was being paranoid. 

the initial hit was ryloth. the gutkurr overwhelmed them, bowling over some of the vod’e, and then - sudden silence, almost eerily so. the creatures were drawing to kenobi, somehow entranced by him, and he was getting them to follow him into a dead end. they shot out the bridge, kenobi got himself out, and cody carefully handed him back his weapon, kenobi smiling at him for it.

in the moment before the sewer grate rattled, there was a sudden moment of realization, for cody. oh, he thought. oh no. 

the descent was three years in the making. 

on utapau, the war was ending. he could feel it in the cool air, from the moment kenobi pinged him and said that grievous was dead. grievous and dooku were both dead, and they were already halfway through routing the droids here. who knew if the war would even last another week? 

( the exchange was like a hundred others. tired smiles, but this time, relief, in cody’s shoulders and in kenobi’s. whatever came after this, the war was almost over. )

there’s no screech of metal or fuel-smell when impact is made, but there’s a white-hot feeling behind his eyes as his limbs fall out of his control, the tinny echo of commandercodythetimehascome, and the recoil of tank fire. 

Chapter Text

he almost laughs, when it starts to rain, watching the first few drops trickle in through a hole torn through the durasteel, one landing on his forehead, making him blink for it. 

he almost laughs because he is from kamino, knows an oncoming downpour when he sees it, and sure enough, the few stray drops quickly become a torrent, the sky seemingly opening up altogether. 

but mostly he laughs because he is from kamino. a water planet, the entire thing a colossal ocean. and there’s a good chance he might drown here, in about three inches of water, on dry land. 

his head is turned at an odd angle, and he can’t move his body to lie on his back, trapped as it is under the debris, so all he can do is crane his neck and hope he has the strength to sustain that. though - he thinks about how long he’s already been here, how long it might take either side to find him, and he supposes he should be glad it’s raining. 

the water is filthy, muddy and tasting like fuel and blood from where it dripped down the inside of the gunship, the rest of the troopers in cody’s gunship not as lucky ( lucky? was this lucky? ) as him. cody doesn’t want to think about what the trace amounts of fuel will do to his system. that’s a worry for a later time. 

for now, he just has to survive, and that means water. 

( everything hurts. he’s beginning to realize that the searing pain in one leg is beginning to dim to numbness, and he doesn’t want to think about what that means. there’s nothing he can do about it for the time being. he has one arm free - at an odd angle, and he thinks at least two of his fingers are broken - and he’s glad for that; it let him push off his helmet, the plastoid half-crushed. which means he can drink, and breathe, the ox-filters on his helmet busted. )

it’s . . . hard to evaluate his injuries, given his current position, and given that too often, when he moves, his vision swims with dark spots. each time, he worries that it’ll fade for good. he’s not sure he’s ready to march on just yet. 

the scavengers leave him alone, at least. there have been a few rodent-like creatures with bright eyes and sharp teeth that skitter inside the wreck. they’ve been breaking down what’s left of tango, a foot away from cody, for about two planetary rotations now. 

he tries not to think about the smell of rotting meat, or the fact that it comes from his brothers, or the possibility that it could be coming from him, infection setting in with the time and circumstances. and he doesn’t allow himself to think, as hunger begins to claw desperately at the inside of his chest, about possible food sources or how he’d get them. 

at this point, he’d take the seppies finding him. at least the blaster bolt to the head would be a better way out than this. 

Chapter Text

‘ i will accept your surrender. ‘ it’s in kenobi’s polite tone; everything reasonable, the rough edges of his words sanded down with a dignified corellian accent. the kind of voice that could excuse war crimes easily enough; letting people down gently. misi can feel the force nudging out at him from kenobi as well, the same rational easy force, like soothing waves lapping at the edge of his resolve.


you know this is not the right choice. you are a jedi; or if nothing else, you were still raised with a jedi’s sense of honor at the heart of it all. just turn over your blade.


it’s a voice like the crashing of the tide, monotonous enough to almost be calming. with the force kenobi pushes out at him, misi can almost feel the muscles in his shoulders begin to unclench, his knuckles regain color around the hilt of his blade. for a second, just a second, he almost submits, lets the water take him.


thus is the innocuous power of the jedi, and kenobi. deflection, defense, peacemaking. until you were wading waist-deep in bodies and still refusing to accept your guilt because that could lead to anger, and that wasn’t allowed, a jedi did not harbor anger, it was all as the force willed it.


your brothers - no, their brothers, no - his brothers? died, and died, and died. but grief led to pain to anger to the dark side, so their deaths were marked with the same vague unease you got when your flashlight died.


misi breathed, closing his eyes and shuddering, gathering himself, half-dead and torn across two jedi cruisers, one of them nothing more than so much debris, caught in planetary orbit over who fucking cares anymore why are we fighting here what are we fighting FOR -


( kenobi and skywalker had been given command of his men, while misi and tip had headed to the surface to drop supplies. when they returned, hell had broken loose, space battle more bright and confusing than coruscant’s casino district. misi reached out to his men, barely aware of his own body, standing in the gunship pulling steadily out of the atmosphere. )


( the living force had never been his forte. reading people and their emotions in general was hard for him whether he took the force into factor or not. some jedi can become their environments, predicting the time that metal hull will give or whether or not some beast in the felucian undergrowth will attack them, because they are the straining durasteel or the acklay stalking closer. misi has none of that talent. )


( but with his men, it’s different, somehow. he reaches out and it’s familiar and encompassing - he’s crash and burn, at the controls of borrowed jedi starfighters, he’s thousand and his stress about the chunk shot out of his astromech, he’s chyth on the bridge of the mercurial and virus up to his elbows in code and harpy, knuckles white on her gun-post as she aimsfiresaims at one vulture after another. )


( some of them can feel him, as he reconnects with them, a brief spark of greeting coming from gavri’el and tosser and forward because of what they were, and from chyth, because he - well. that was for a different reason altogether. )


( and misi, and the 439th, spread across cruisers and fighters and gun-posts and ship decks, thus connected, all had realized the same thing at the same time, realizing what was about to happen, as the shields failed on one of the cruisers. there was a moment of realization and of dread and of the instinctive protect-help-we-can-stop-this- )


( before it went up in flames. )


‘ will you? ‘ he asks, voice low and growled out through his teeth, like a cornered wolf, growling a warning even despite the bullet in its side. ‘ will you, kenobi? ‘ he asks again, his voice raising, and he laughs, a wild rush of a thing, all madness and a brief glint of teeth, though there’s nothing but anger in his eyes, so much that his hands shake.


he steps closer.


‘ how do you know i won’t lie? surrender, and then once your guard is down, take it back and put a knife to your throat? ‘ another step forwards, the copper blade rising an inch. ‘ of course, that’s not the jedi way, is it. only a coward would stoop to that. ‘


his voice is deathly calm now, head tipping an inch to the side. ‘ wouldn’t you say? ‘

Chapter Text

she lay down in the underbrush, her heart moving at a speed that would make a correllian pilot jealous, hearing the faint sound of crashing coming towards her as the stormtroopers on her tail sweep the area. she closes her eyes briefly, painfully. moving or trying to run from her hiding spot now means she’ll be seen. all she can do is wait for the burning in her lungs to fade and hope. 

when she opens her eyes again, she sees white plating, and immediately shuts them again, waiting for the shot, or for them to drag her to her feet, or the familiar buzz of a stun blast. 

nothing like that came. she could still hear the stormtroopers coming closer, but they weren’t on top of her, not yet. then what –– ? 

she risked turning her head slightly, facing the direction of the oncoming troops, and bites down on her lip hard enough that she has to lick beads of blood off her chapped skin, trying not to gasp. there’s white armor, like she thought she had seen. but older. clone wars-era. 

it’s not the clean white of the empire, either. it looked like it had seen years of combat. she followed the suit of armor up to where the head should be, but - she swallowed, bile rising in her throat as she realized there wasn’t one. 

‘ don’t worry. ‘ 

she just manages to hold back a scream, seeing where the voice came from. 

propped casually on his hip, as if he were carrying around his helmet any one of the times he took it off, is the man’s head, with the now-infamous face of jango fett. he looked young, with a shaved head, and tattoos curling in maroon ink under his eyes. the place where his neck just … stopped, abruptly, was bloodless, clean. 

‘ they’re not going to find you, ‘ he says, and she wonders if this is what going into shock is like. only daring to move a little, she digs her nails into the meat of her hand, rather than pinch herself. it’s … well, she can rule out dreams or spice. she’s not sure whether that’s comforting, though. ‘ just stay breathing, shiny, ‘ the man - clone? tells her, turning so his back is facing her. 

sure enough, the stormtroopers crash through the trees a few seconds later, and the man walks up to them. they pause as they run up to him - it doesn’t seem like they see him, but there he stands, right in the middle of them. there’s warbled talking between them, turned tinny by their helmets, and then they’re back off the way they came. 

‘ go, ‘ a new voice says, and she looks up, almost giving herself whiplash. 

in the tree above her, there’s a second figure, the sunlight filtering right through him. he grins, hopping down to land by the other man, who’s returning. ‘ go, ‘ he repeats, crouching down to her level a bit. 

she can see, through his chest, about seven or eight glowing holes. blaster bolts, some part of her brain fills in, but he’s just still grinning. ‘ they’re not gonna catch up with you. not today, ‘ he says cheerfully, and offers her a hand up. 

obviously, it isn’t one she can take. 

but her legs, which had been shaking before, suddenly have the strength behind them to stand back up, and the frantic burn in her lungs calms, her breathing slowing as she pushes herself to her feet. 

‘ thank you, ‘ she states, bowing her head, albeit a little uneasily. her aunt had told her it was always important to respect the dead, after all. she’s not sure this is what she had meant, but it’s not like she had much knowledge to go off otherwise. ghosts were something you talked about with your creche-mates when you were supposed to be sleeping, not … real. 

she began trekking in the direction of the base, turning to give a leaving look to the … ghosts, but the clearing was empty. 

Chapter Text

not for the first time, and unfortunately probably not the last, cody reflects on how uncomfortable it is to try and sleep with his hands cuffed behind his back. they could have at least left him his armor, or his blacks - the bare duracrete freezes against his skin, no matter how much he curls up to retain body heat. 

he doesn’t bother trying to stand. it’s not worth the energy, and whatever they’ve been putting in his water lately makes his head spin. 

he recognizes her footsteps at this point, and moves around, a little stiffly and painfully, so he’ll be sitting upright, legs folded, when she arrives at the door of his cell. she looks angry about something. in the long term, this is good news - none of them have broken, yet. 

in the short term, cody is the only expendable left of the original party, and this is very bad news for him. 

( he’d pieced together a few days back that ventress, for whatever reason, had orders not to hurt skywalker or kenobi that badly. starjump had passed on something ventress had let slip when she was interrogating them, and cody paired that with the threats she had made to him to figure it out. starjump was gone, now - out of the blue, when they refused to answer one of her questions, she held them close in the force and used it to batter their head against one of the duracrete walls, again and again. )

at this point, some elements of their interaction are almost routine. ventress, circling him with a knife or a shockprod or whatever she was planning on using, telling him in a lilting voice why he should just give her the information. her patience, eventually dropping. pain blossoming against his skin. 

he was standing, now, pressed into the duracrete wall with the force, her blade digging uncomfortably into his throat. ‘ what if i just killed you now, clone? ‘ she asked, contemplatively. ‘ gutted you like a fish and left your body in this cell to rot? ‘ the blade pushes forwards until there’s a warm trickle of blood pooling against his sternum, and ventress slowly begins to drag the knife down his neck, splitting skin. 

‘ what, and miss these conversations? ‘ he asks her, with a mirthless smile. 

she snarls through her teeth, frustrated. cody supposes there’s an advantage to being the last expendable. unlike the other troopers who had been captured, she needed to . . . conserve him, almost. she drags the knife down roughly until the red line arcs between his collarbones and down his sternum, and then shoves it back into her belt, pressing her hand almost into the wounds. ‘ give me the republic clearance codes, ‘ she hisses. 

cody opens his mouth, and for a moment, ventress almost looks hopeful. he fights a tight smile off his face. ‘ i am arc marshal commander cc-2224, republic army, under the command of general obi-wan kenobi. that is all i am authorized to reveal. ‘ 

he sees the fury in her eyes for a moment before he feels the blow to his face, knocking him hard enough that his vision swims, skin burning. she recognizes the script. she’d tried this with a-17, not too long ago. she waves her hand, and cody’s vision continues to swim, his head now feeling clouded, heavy, his tongue loose. ‘ you will tell me the republic clearance codes, ‘ she tells him, hand gripping his chin, now. 

‘ i . . . will tell you - ‘ and he can’t help the grin that crosses his face this time, splitting his lip open. ‘ - that i am arc marshal commander cc-2224, republic army, under the command of general obi-wan kenobi. that is all i am authorized to reveal. ‘ 

ventress screams, low and guttural, with frustration, teeth bared, and cody just has enough time to think hm. she may make me regret that, before the back of his head hits the wall hard and the darkness of unconsciousness swims back up to swallow him again. 

Chapter Text

‘ cody? the canary squad is here. ‘ 

it’s rex, poking his head into cody’s room, and cody runs a hand over his mouth, suddenly more tired than his years should make him feel. he nodded, setting down his holopad. ‘ send them in. ‘ 

hyperspace lane coordinates were always a tricky business. especially from some of the sources they had for these - quinlan vos’ criminal contacts, split into two parts by tano and tarkin, questioned out of prisoners until they broke and gave up the numbers. there had been a few incidents already, where the numbers were slightly off, and some poor escort ship flew at hyperspeed right into an asteroid belt. 

and so, canary squad had been created. 

pilots who were just a hair too slow at the controls, who hadn’t quite made it through their training yet, who had some sort of behavioral issues, but not enough to warrant decommission or be wasted on maintenance - they were sent up here, now, in a crew of about sixteen total. 

they were double-chipped, with an implant in their heart to monitor whether or not they were still alive, and one in their ear, so they could constantly keep in contact with mission control. 

it was their job to test the routes. send three or so canaries down the line - if all their heart monitors stop at once, the route wasn’t a safe one. if they died because there were seppies on the other side, they’d be able to hear it back at base. 

there were three canaries walking through his door now as he straightened up, all three of them in deceptively cheerful yellow pilot’s armor, and all three of them - fierfek, the oldest couldn’t be a day over eight. 

‘ here’re your coordinates, men, ‘ cody said, handing each of them a datachip to set in their fighters. ‘ from a pretty reputable source this time. you boys should be okay out there. ‘ 

‘ haven’t crashed yet, commander! ‘ the oldest says cheerfully, pocketing the chip. his hands twitch nervously - the reason he’d been given this job. couldn’t have a soldier or pilot like that out in the field. cody offers him a bit of a smile, tiredness carefully kept off his face. 

‘ don’t be so cocky, son. just give us a call when you hit the other side, will you? safe flying. ‘ 

Chapter Text

ponds’ short-cropped hair has grown now, long enough to be clearly black and enough that it can be smoothed down when fingers are run through it. he usually keeps it shaved down, same as his general, but it’s something he’s neglected of late.

mostly because he’s still unconscious. has been ever since windu spacewalked, pulling his body out of the void where fett the younger and his crew had left him for dead.

( it hadn’t been boba, and windu didn’t blame him for ponds’ state. he had seen boba hesitate, had argued for him in court while ponds’ heart stopped and was started again, as his breathing evened out. had done it all for nothing, in the end, the military court ruling jango fett’s son a war criminal, and, because he was a clone, an adult, and to be tried as one. )

he looks wrong with hair.

yes, there was something to be said for the impermanence of personal image and the body through time, but the clones didn’t choose the features of their bodies or their armor lightly. it wasn’t right, to see their one last bastion of choice taken away from them. ( ponds had told him once that he preferred his hair shaved down; it didn’t soak in the heat like jango’s black hair was wont to, and it didn’t irritate underneath a helmet. )

it’s an irrational course of action for a jedi, especially a master, and yet - here they stand.

he tries to visit ponds as often as he’s able, the clone commander permanently set up in the jedi medbay. that in and of itself is unusual for a general; the no-attachments rule is meant to be passed down to their men, as well. ponds should be marked as lost, and mace should proceed with the 91st without him.

but something in him will not allow him that.

he thinks it’s the force.

( he hopes it is. if it is not, he’s not sure he has the words for what it might be, but he has a sneaking suspicion. it’s not just that ponds is a good leader, or a selfless one. mace windu has allowed himself friends, at least, in people like kit fisto or in his old master, and ponds is a friend, has become one despite all the war. )

( but … perhaps something exists past that. )

( it is not for him to dwell on; not now, after all, ponds is still not yet awake. may not ever wake. but it looms, an unfortunate truth he will have to come to terms with one day, one way or another. )

this is the irrational part of it; is that master kenobi finds his robe folded neatly over the back of a medbay chair, and finds mace himself with his tunic sleeves rolled up past the elbows to keep from getting wet, sitting carefully perched on the end of the thin medbay cot, ponds’ head in his lap, and holding a razor. ( the razor is his own, at least. having to buy or borrow one might just raise even more questions from people. )

ponds’ hair is shaved clean, mace finishing the last touches on it, carefully washing off the remnants of cut hair.

kenobi doesn’t ask, and windu is grateful to him for that, at least, simply taking up one of the other chairs as windu drags the damp cloth over ponds’ skull once more, careful not to jostle the breathing mask over his nose and mouth. he folds it in on itself, placing it on one of the nearby counters, and looks up at the other master as a cleaning droid bustles by, picking it up on its rounds.

kenobi’s face is etched with a quiet sorrow, and he rests his hand on mace’s knee, warm through the fabric. mace can almost feel him choosing his words. ( though - maybe it’s more simple than that; he knows kenobi, knows the distant expression in his eyes and the way he strokes over his beard now. )

eventually, he speaks, in the voice of a man sharing a secret. ‘ master windu … i am sorry. if it is any comfort, though - i may know how you feel. ‘

gossip spreads easily in the grand army of the republic. mace tries to believe that he’s above it, but he can’t help but hear some of it sometimes, winding its way through the ranks. even if he hadn’t, he’s worked with the 212th before, and he sees cody and kenobi, a solid pair, always shoulder-to-shoulder. cody smoothing the lines beginning to develop in kenobi’s forehead, kenobi bringing a broad grin more often than not to the commander’s face.

there’s … he wouldn’t call it a shatterpoint, per se. but there’s a divergence of roads, here.

he can accept the comfort from kenobi. accept the empathy in their shared situations. ( commander cody, after all, has spent his fair share of time in a bacta tank, has enough scars that should have-might have-would have killed him. )

can accept it, and thus make the statement that they are similar in this.



he thinks more about kenobi and the 212th, his elbows resting on his knees and his hands folding, brow furrowed. remembers the times kenobi walks past his dying men without a glance in their direction, or the times he has let them down - figuratively, yes, but mace has read the reports. he knows kenobi’s capabilities, knows he could have caught charger, but instead watched him fall onto that electromine, choosing instead to just quip about it.

cody runs the 7th systems army. it’s an ongoing joke in the gar, given that he co-runs it with kenobi, who is so much more often than not with the 501st or off with his old padawan and his grandpadawan.

but windu knows the truth of it. has read reports cody has written at two in the morning, has seen kenobi’s signature clearly forged on reports and statuses and supply forms ( and had stak ask about it, concerned at first that it might be a security issue. cody had smiled, looking tired, and said that at this point it was just more efficient than trying to play catch-up with kenobi or hounding him for days to sign the damn things himself. )

so mace noticed, and he let it slip.

ponds has - had - talked to him about it, too. the times they’d be on leave and cody would fall asleep standing up on the gunship out, body crashing the instant it had permission to. or the times he didn’t make it to leave at all, covering the paperwork for kenobi’s mistakes or on another mission with him.

skywalker had noticed, too, even dense as he was. do you love cody, he had asked kenobi, once, and kenobi had laughed the question off. i love how much easier he makes my life, he had told his old padawan, patting his shoulder and leaving skywalker dissatisfied with that answer.

( windu, too, but for a different reason. )

windu for the reason that … he’s not sure that’s untrue. he hears about cody from kenobi whenever cody does something for him. makes his life easier. complains whenever cody pushes him to get sleep after avoiding it for a week and a half in a row, without thinking about how being sleep-deprived and trying to fight like that might affect his troops. jokes about cody worrying over his injuries in the field without giving a thought to the fact that his life is literally valued at more than his commander’s.

ponds is windu’s friend. he has been honest with him, and they have known each other since the battle of geonosis.

you value our lives, right? ponds had asked, day two into a long hyperspace journey into the outer rim. mace, startled, had answered in the affirmative. ponds smiled wanly, looking tired. many of yours say so, but they don’t … show it. we’re so often left for dead. the effort your brothers give to save mine is minimal, sometimes. )

windu puts his men first, above himself. has even won the ire of skywalker and kenobi before, when he let the battle grind to a halt to send out the search and rescue teams, make sure as many of their men were as safe as possible.

kenobi’s casualty rate is among the top ten in the gar. nowhere near krell’s or skywalker’s, but it’s … up there. ( kenobi’s specifically. battles led by him. when he is gone and cody leads, the numbers reflect that. )


so, mace can accept the sentiment, and state that they are similar in this.

he thinks of how tired cody looks. he thinks of the mourning ceremonies the 212th holds in private, worried they will be considered a waste of time by their general. he thinks of the naturally-born seperatist leaders kenobi had as prisoners and made more of an effort to save than his own men.

he thinks of geonosis, of the citadel, of jabiim.

he thinks of kenobi’s false surrender on christophsis.

and slowly, he shifts his knee out from under kenobi’s hand, looking away from the other master.

i may know how you feel.

‘ no, ‘ he says, frowning ever so slightly. ‘ i don’t think you do. ‘

Chapter Text

kyvé moved out from within the underbrush, ears pressed flat to kyvé’s skull, listening for the telltale sounds of metal-marching-steel or men-in-rhythm. the battlefield was quiet, now, the line pushed forwards - there was no more marching tonight, which suited kyvé just fine. the air smelled overwhelmingly of ozone and fuel, a fetor that made kyvé’s nose wrinkle in distaste. this had been a good hunting ground, but the patches of white-bristle-plant that could usually be trusted to be hiding rodents had been trampled down under mechanical feet or boots, and it was impossible to scent anything other than war. 

kyvé would adapt, though. kyvé had been here before they came, and kyvé would still be here after they left, and hopefully took their marching and their bursts of fire with them. 

distastefully, kyvé steps over one, then another, then another metal-husk-being, littered as they are across this side of the field. they were not food, and destroyed the sources of food kyvé had had before. kyvé had no interest in them. 

at least the other side was more fruitful. kyvé preferred to be a hunter, rather than a scavenger, but kyvé was not stupid or prideful, which was why kyvé had lived so long. food was food, even if it took some work to get at, with the shells kyvé had to pick them out from, worrying at the joints in the shell with kyvé’s teeth until they gave way. 

kyvé was doing that now, nosing under where they were now able to pry up some of the white-false-shell ( nothing to be gained from chewing on these shells other than sore teeth, not like the small crabs kyvé chased by the river ) when something of a warning snapped down kyvé‘s spine, instinctively ducking a second before a blue-fire-bolt whistled overhead. 

kyvé snarled in frustration, head pointed towards the source of the fire - another white-shell, his face the clammy sort of desperate kyvé knew to be of those bleeding. the white-shell snarls right back at kyvé with its blunt teeth and hand trembling as it pointed its fire-weapon towards kyvé. 

‘ get away from him! ‘ 

kyvé looks again at the white-shell, and back down to the dead one that had been meant to be dinner, lowering down so that kyvé was concealed behind the body itself before returning to the work of prying off the pesky shell. 

the sound of struggling came over from the direction where the bolt had come from, and kyvé’s ears press down flat again as they see the not-dead-yet white-shell struggling to prop himself up on one elbow, aiming again at kyvé and sending another blue-fire-bolt over kyvé’s head, right through one of where kyvé’s ears would have been, had they still been swivelled upright. 

kyvé was not stupid or prideful. 

snarling out a warning through teeth much more dangerous than the ones the white-shell bared at kyvé, kyvé gave up nosing at the body before them and dropped into a low run, back into the forest. for now, kyvé resolved to just sleep on an empty stomach. 

the battlefield would still be there the next day. 

as kyvé settled down to sleep, kyvé was assuaged some by the thought that, come early-morning-light, the bodies would still be there, and perhaps kyvé would consume the one who had been firing. he did not have much longer to live, from the smell of blood and rot coming from him. 

come the morning, his would just be a fresher body than the rest.