Cody blinks, breathes in and out. Then he lifts his arm and, as if watching from a great distance, puts in the code for the emergency line that will contact every commander, and relays the order he had just received.
“Supreme Commander’s orders. Execute Order 66.”
He stands still for a moment, feeling oddly fuzzy in the head. Something is scratching at the back of his awareness, as though someone was calling his name a long way away. For lack of something else to do while waiting for the fuzziness to clear, he thinks about the order he’d just received and passed on. Order 66 meant – hmm.
He doesn’t know.
Then it pops into his head. Order 66 is the execution order for all the Jedi, in case of them turning traitor against the Republic.
Cody frowns and scratches absently at his arm where the edge of his vambrace is bent slightly. He hasn’t had time to get it fixed.
He has a duty to follow the order, after all, good soldiers followed orders. But there are no Jedi that he knew of. His General is Sith. Rex’s General is Sith. Wolffe’s General is Sith.
Every General and Commander he can think of that is a Force-user is Sith.
He thinks about trying to comm the Supreme Commander back and ask for clarification and quickly shelves that idea.
The fuzziness feels more like static now. He shakes his head and taps at his comm, wondering if it’s malfunctioning.
“Sir?” one of his brothers says.
“Looks fine to me.”
Then he realizes that neither of them had actually spoken aloud.
Rex takes only a few seconds to receive and process the order. Then he ignores the weird tickle in the back of his mind and throws himself forward, tackling his General to the ground and using one of the ‘General’s-been-awake-for-five-days-and-won’t-sleep’ injections that Kix had invented and that he’d taken to carrying around with him to knock him unconscious.
He apologizes briefly and silently to General Skywalker before summoning some of his brothers to help him carry the General to a room where they can restrain him and keep him safe.
After all, if someone wants the Jedi dead, and doesn’t realize that all their Jedi are actually Sith, that means someone is trying to kill his General, right?
Over Rex’s dead body.
“Hey! Hey, Cod’ika.”
“Rex. This is bizarre.”
Even separated by half a star system as they were, Cody can feel Rex’s smirk.
“Yeah, it is. But what do you expect? Force-users are all crazy. Speaking of which, where’s yours?”
“General Kenobi? He’s meditating. Why?”
Cody actually feels a slap on the back of his helmet, and sends a mental poke back in response. It doesn’t work like he wanted it to.
“Think! If we got an order to shoot any Jedi on sight, and nobody but us know our Generals are Sith, that means someone wanted us to kill our Generals, vod. Mine’s sedated and under heavy guard. I’d get yours down too and then let’s put our heads together and figure out this mess.”
They both feel a laugh that isn’t either of theirs.
“Who’s that?” Rex demands. Then he sighs. “Wolffe.”
“General Buir is safely under guard as well,” says Commander Wolffe, who has somehow broken into their mental conversation. “And I got into your conversation because I was thinking about trying to comm you. This is going to take some getting used to.”
Cody feels the hum of his brothers’ minds, in their millions, in the back of his own, and nods. He doesn’t know why they are suddenly all connected like this, but it is comforting at the same time as it is terrifying.
Is this how the jetii feel, all the time? Is this why they are all affected when one is hurt?
“Kriff!” says Rex, in his head. “I bet they’re feeling our Generals pass out. Let’s get moving, get the word out to the other vod’e, and get them all safe. Then we can figure out what to do with this Order 66 . . . thing.”
Cody leaves to go sneak up on General Kenobi and get him sedated.
On Coruscant, Commander Fox gives the order to half of his men to surround the Jedi Temple and let no one in or out. Then he comms the Council and tells them that there has been a threat to them and they should lock the Temple down and get ready to evacuate the little ones. He ends the call before he can hear their response. He has things to do.
If they were supposed to execute their Jedi, but their Jedi weren’t Jedi, but someone thought they were Jedi, than that meant that the person who had given the order was doing something underhanded.
The Chancellor had given the order.
He wanted the entire Republic military to be dysfunctional and disorganized right in the middle of a war.
Fox had overheard and seen a lot of things he wasn’t supposed to see, just because nobody regarded him as much more than a breathing piece of furniture while he was on duty in the Senate buildings. He’d thought for a long time now that the Chancellor wasn’t exactly on the side of ending the war.
He needs to talk to his brothers first, but he thinks he knows what this Order 66 business meant they should do.
“I don’t know, that sounds kind of treasonous to me,” says Bly. They can see General Secura behind him, as he sits on the edge of the cot she’s tied to. She’s unconscious, just like all their jetii they could get to.
“We’re talking about assassinating the kriffing Chancellor, I think that’s more than a little treasonous," says Cody, and realizes too late that even though he could keep his mental voice steady, they can feel his panic.
A steady thrum of reassurance rises up to soothe him, and he leans into it. All the clones learned early on that they had only each other for tactile support, and every chance they got they clung to each other. Before, they could only do it physically. Now it is mental as well.
Cody scrubs at his face with his fists and glances over his shoulder at General Kenobi, who is tied up just like General Secura, with his lightsaber safely tucked into Cody’s belt.
“Shit,” he hears from Gree, and he disappears from the small space where they could all see him, like a odd version of the comm holograms they were so used to, and then he reappears with two lightsabers in his hands. “Knight Offee is here as well,” he says in explanation.
“Yeah, everyone, get their lightsabers and keep them safe for them,” says Rex.
“Search them for other weapons while you’re at it,” Cody adds.
“I wonder why we can see each other?” says Thire. He’s stuck guarding the Temple and is pacing, more than a little paranoid. He has so many jetii to protect instead of just one or two, and he can’t exactly knock them all out and take their lightsabers.
“I think it’s because we’re so used to seeing each other when we comm,” Bly theorizes.
“Not important right now!” says Rex. “Ponds, Wolffe, you’re the only ones who haven’t said anything. What do you think?”
“I’m with you,” said Wolffe. They can feel his anger. “I want whoever wants my buir dead gone.” He’s pacing just outside the room General Buir is locked in, muttering to himself.
Ponds sighs and they feel his exhaustion through the link. “I think Fox is right, the Chancellor is definitely sketchy. He runs the Council through hoops and General Windu has been suspicious of him for months now.”
“General Yoda ordered me not to trust the Chancellor,” says Thire, and the vague sense of disquiet they’ve all been feeling about the Chancellor after this order and its strange aftereffects settles into a heavy determination.
“We take him out, then,” says Bly.
“It won’t be easy,” Fox cautions. “Lots of us are going to die. He has security I don’t even know about. We’re only the visible part of it.”
“It’s what our darjetii would do, though,” says Ponds.
There’s a vague growling hiss of agreement from Wolffe, though he’s apparently still too grumpy to speak.
“Can we at least make a plan before we go in to blow shit up?” Cody asks plaintively.
“Of course,” says Gree, sounding offended at the very thought of not planning. “Some of us serve under civilized Generals.”
“Start by recalling all troops within a reasonable distance to Coruscant, right now,” Bly advises. “We’ll need everyone we can get, especially if he escapes.”
“On it,” says Fox, and his mental presence goes quiet and distant.
“That’s so kriffing weird,” said Rex.
“I wonder if he looks like a concussed loth-cat, the way General Skywalker looks when he’s trying to Force-message,” says Cody, just to annoy him.
Rex manages to long-distance smack the back of his head again. Cody can’t figure out how he’s doing that.
“Then I think we should surround the Senate building. Have most of us posted around his office, all exits. That means some outside the window, some in the Senate chambers as well,” said Thire. “I don’t know the building as well as Fox but I know it better than the rest of you. A few of us can get the Senators out in case he tries to use them as hostages.”
“Senator Amidala,” said Rex, and now he feels scared in a way he hasn’t before.
“What?” they say.
“She’s married to General Skywalker, and the Chancellor –” he hesitates. “The Chancellor looks at him like he’s a Twi’lek dancer and he’s a Hutt,” he finally finishes.
“The Chancellor’s a dancer . . .?” says Wolffe.
“No, the General is –”
There’s a long breath of horrified realization.
“All right, we’re doing this,” Cody announces. “Fox, you here?”
“I heard that,” Fox says, grimly. “And I’ve seen the Chancellor’s holonet history when he forgets to clear it. I’ll send a battalion to escort Senator Amidala to safety after we surround the building, though I’m not sure where that’d be.”
“Here?” Thire offers. “Bring her to me, and even if the darjetii won’t let her in for some reason, we’ll keep her safe. The extra battalion won’t hurt either.”
“She’s going to be decanting soon,” Rex says, nervousness flooding into the link.
“She’s what?” everyone says.
He waves his hands awkwardly. “I don’t know how it works any more than you do, but she’s incubating some new units. They’re almost finished. I only know because the General was off his face on painkillers one night and I sat with him to keep anything he said quiet. He’s terrified of losing her when they come out.”
“I’ll have the medics start reading up on natural-borns,” Thire says, grim determination in his mind and voice. “It can’t be harder than some of the field surgeries they’ve done.”
“Fox, you said you could see the Chancellor’s holonet history?” Bly says abruptly. “Maybe we can find out something about why he’s done this.”
“It’s going to be encrypted, it’ll take months,” Fox begins.
“Not if all our slicers get to work on it right now, and work together,” says Gree, the same pulse of excitement as Bly has now coming from him too. “What else are we working on? We’ve pulled out of all active combat. Our darjetii are safe for now. We’re all heading back to Coruscant. And since we can talk without comms now –”
“I’m getting them on it,” said Fox, and disappears again.
“Hey,” says Ponds. He sounds like he’s about to pass out, but he’s concentrating fiercely.
“Go sleep, Pond’ika. We need you alert when this goes down,” says Thire.
“No, but, when did we all start calling them darjetii instead of jetii?”
There’s the mental equivalent of a shrug from everyone.
“I don’t know,” Rex answers. “They’re aren’t really jetii anymore, are they?”
There’s a snort from Wolffe. “I don’t think proper jetii are fond of siphoning life from their fallen foes to heal their own army.”
“And since we’re supposed to kill Jedi – oh shit.”
They all feel the sudden pain and blankness that radiates from him for a moment before he’s back.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he reassures them, but he sounds scared. “What was that?”
“I think we should avoid using that one word that starts with a J,” says Bly.
“I’ll get the slicers that aren’t getting into the Chancellor’s other things to start looking into what the longnecks have done to us,” says Fox. He’s getting better and better at dividing his mental attention. “General Ti is safe, by the way.”
“All right, back to work,” Cody orders. He technically is the highest ranking officer present, even though none of them are really ‘present’, and he’s only higher ranked than they are because General Kenobi keeps promoting him to avoid doing paperwork. “Ponds, go to sleep before I try to put you to sleep from here. Or I’ll get Rex to smack you unconscious. Thire, keep guarding the Temple. Fox –” he hesitates. “Please be careful.”
“I am,” Fox answers, gentle but they can all feel the thread of fear running through him.
“Everyone else, get your brothers ready for the assault on the Chancellor.”
Cody carefully untangles his mind from his brothers’ and slumps back, breathing hard. He looks down at his General’s face, younger and far more open as he sleeps.
Their darjetii have saved them, cared for them, bled for them, gone without food and sleep for them. Loved them. Some, a few but still too many, have died for them. It’s time for the brothers to return the favor.