Lies About Jedi
CT-9886 stepped off the shuttle as a new recruit. He did not yet have a name. Until that day he had not exhibited any particular quirk or noteworthy trait worth christening. He had a kind but biting temperament, a pragmatic outlook on life, and an analytical mind. That combined with his test scores made him 'ideal’ for medical track if not a name.
CT-9886 liked being a medic. He liked helping his brothers pick themselves back up. He liked fixing things, liked the mechanical complexity of living bodies. So CT-9886 felt the role of a medical officer was ideal for him, too.
He was proud but nervous to be assigned to the 212th Attack Battalion (such a prestigious legion!) straight off Kamino. But he knew he’d earned it. He had third best scores in his generation, after all, a fact that he allowed himself some modest pride over. His excitement was tempered by separation from his batch and the way his hands shook, to sometimes disastrous results, in live fire simulations. The 212th was a hard carry for the Republic and CT-9886 wasn’t sure he’d perform as well in combat as hot as their norm was rumored to be.
But CT-9886 sucked it up and stepped out of the transport onto The Negotiator in lockstep formation with the other new recruits. Waiting for them was a sergeant in weathered, orange painted armor and a pristine white softshell medical officer at his side.
The sergeant barked, “Medics with Officer Leigh! Troopers with me!”
The 212th standard of efficiency was a relief: their arrival was smooth as silk, everyone was accounted for, no time wasted from the moment their boots touched the docking bay. He recognized the economical waves of the sergeant’s hand as ARC Trooper sign language, too, noted how the vod used it without any apparent conscious effort. CT-9886 split from the group, watching the sergeant lead the others away, thinking of all the ways standardizing dual-speak like he’d just witnessed was so smart. Troopers straight back from a battlefield with tinnitus would still be able to understand their orders, deaf or hard of hearing brothers would never be left out of the loop-
He knew he was the only trooper headed for medbay and parted from the squadron alone. It was unsettling to be singled out but spoke well for the 212th’s retention rate.
Medical Officer Leigh was smiling at him.
CT-9886 found that strangely foreboding.
Even still, he snapped to attention, cut a crisp salute, barked a “Sir,” as loud as he could bear. He apparently didn’t yell enough for the GAR’s tastes.
Officer Leigh’s smile only broadened.
“God, you’re perfect,” The man said with humor, “Come with me.”
Excuse me? The unexpected praise made his face flush hot, “... Sir yes sir.”
Leigh took his shoulder, pulling him along, manhandling him when CT-9886 didn’t move fast enough for his tastes, “Come on. You have an assignment.”
He stared incredulously at the still-smiling officer, “But, sir, I’ve only just arrived-”
“Uh-huh," Leigh replied, dragging him through passing squadrons, around droids, practically over a crouching group of engineers-
A quick thought was spared for the bag of all his worldly possessions slung over his shoulder, bouncing against his hip as he stumbled. Desperately, he tried appealing to the man’s better nature, “If I can just stow my things first-”
Leigh chuckled but continued hauling him, “Nope. Right now, Shiny.”
“Shiny-? But, sir, I haven’t been debriefed-!”
“Debrief happens now."
CT-9886 was already fed up with the handling. He yanked out of the man’s grasp which Leigh allowed amiably enough so long as he kept to a satisfactory half-sprint across the docking bay. The officer was fast, kriff’s sake, and he huffed as he scrambled to keep up, resigning himself to pure sleenshit on his first day.
Leigh held the doors open for CT-9886, chanting “Hurryuphurryuphurryup!” as CT-9886 slid past and inside with a sharp squeak-skid of his boots. Leigh removed his arm, allowing the doors to slide shut and punched their destination level, wherever the kriff that was, into the keys. The lift started with a hushed thrum.
They were both breathing hard. CT-9886 tried to not let his positive impression of the 212th sour too much.
“Alright… Alright what is going on?” asked CT-9886 with a sigh once he’d caught his breath, slipping his hat off to fan himself.
Bizarrely when Officer Leigh turned to look at him he did a double take, reached out, snatched his hat out of his hands, and put it back on CT-9886’s head. CT-9886 stared at him in mute, incredulous fury. For some reason that alone threw him more than anything else that had happened thus far.
“Keep it on.”
“For your assignment, of course!” Leigh replied cheerfully, forestalling CT-9886’s sputtering reply with a peaceable lift of his hand, “I’m getting to it, shiny. We’re heading up to report to medbay. They need you right now before he gets away.”
“Before who gets away?” CT-9886 asked, already frightened.
“General Kenobi, of course! He’s got an awful cold and he’s putting up a huge stink about getting treatment. We've gotta catch him before he sneaks away.”
“Wh- the High General? But he’s a Jedi, surely he-”
“Nope,” Leigh interrupted, “The man’s a menace. He’ll walk around with untreated broken limbs, go into battles with concussions, and get himself tortured every other tenday then insist he’s fine. Kenobi’s even worse about catching a cold--he thinks he can just willpower himself through ‘em. He’s been trying to tell us his 105 degree fever is nothing to worry about. The force doesn’t work like that and he’s a fool.”
Officer Leigh evidently didn’t need his input and kept going, “He’ll fight us every step of the way if we try to get him properly treated. He just doesn’t care about his own well being and if we let him he’ll work himself to an early grave. But! We figured him out, we’ve got his number. We know what makes him tick, shiny. That’s where you come in.”
“He’s too nice, yeah? Too many people to mother hen, no time for himself. That’s why he’s stubborn as a bantha. Well, jokes on him, because that's a two-way street. If a shiny new recruit comes up and gets all sad and teary eyed because he isn’t taking his medicine? Boom. He melts. Easy. The General gets treatment and we get to keep him alive another day.”
“Wait a fucking second,” burst out CT-9886, “You’re taking me up there to-”
“To guilt trip a Jedi High General of the GAR into taking a nap? Yes. So keep the hat on. Nobody wears those except the new guys. Makes you look extra shiny.”
“I’m not ready for this,” he mourned, burying his face in his hands, “I’m not qualified.”
Leigh patted him on the back, “And that’s why you’re perfect. Welcome to the 212th, trooper. You’re the new Kenobi-Wrangler.”
“I hate you,” He groaned. The bastard just laughed.
"Sir you need bed rest-"
"And that's precisely what I intend to do. I haven't the foggiest clue why you insist on preventing me from doing so."
"In medbay! Here, under observation where I can be certain you won't croak in your sleep!"
"Don't you catastrophize this, Cody-"
"General Kenobi, please, you have a dangerously high fever. Let us keep you here and-"
"There are injured men who need those beds. I will be fine. Some tea and some sleep and I'll be right as rain tomorrow."
"All respect, General Kenobi, I don't think your illness is as simple as all that."
"Also, I have a hard time believing you'll actually rest if left to your own devices."
"Oh, Pete's sake, I'm not a child! I can take care of myself just fine."
When they arrived at medbay, which he had not memorized the path to because he was so panicked and overwhelmed, CT-9886 listened to the muffled conversation and turned to ask Officer Leigh for advice. Before he could speak Leigh took his bag, smiled like a devaronian, slapped him on the ass, said “Good luck! You’ll do great!” and practically threw him through the doors.
CT-9886 was deeply ashamed to stumble and fall almost flat on his face.
“Whoa! Hey, are you alright?” a vod asked, offering a hand to help him up.
“Y-yeah, I’m OK,” CT-9886 managed, voice thick and mortifyingly close to crying, hauling himself up with as much dignity as he could muster.
“Oh, you poor thing!” a posh, audibly congested voice exclaimed. CT-9886 whipped his head up and made eye contact with High General Obi-Wan Kenobi. His spit flash-fried and evaporated on his tongue.
One of the most famous and well decorated Jedi in the GAR looked CT-9886 up and down with open concern and CT-9886 examined him right back. The Jedi looked like death warmed over. CT-9886 didn’t know him well, had only seen him from holos, but he knew he shouldn't have the complexion of a porcelain toilet nor should his eyes be so sunken and bruised. His lips and nostrils were inflamed and chapped while his eyes were worryingly glassy. Fever of 105, indeed. All things considered CT-9886 was impressed how well put together he was despite how ill he very clearly was. Not a hair out of place.
General Kenobi was standing as if he’d been about to make a break for the door, echoed by a small crowd of clones who were looking at CT-9886 with open relief on their faces. He realized that all of them, to a man, medical or otherwise, were aware of his purpose here.
“Did… did somebody push you?” General Kenobi asked, eyeing the door behind him with a hint of protective anger.
CT-9886 met those glassy, slightly unfocused, achingly tired eyes and immediately discarded the urge to sell out Officer Leigh.
“No, sir, I ah. I tripped,” He mumbled, not feigning an inch of his own mortification but merely allowing it to show, “Its my first day and I’m nervous.”
Sympathy tilted orange eyebrows up. In a fit of divine inspiration, CT-9886 swiftly added in his tear-thick voice, “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to inconvenience you, sir-”
“No, no no no it’s fine. Everyone can be a bit clumsy from time to time. I have done much, much worse than simply tripping in a strange place.”
“Really?” he breathed, quashing a surge of paranoia that he was hamming it up a bit too much.
His new General smiled like a sun, “Heh, yes I-” and, beautifully timed, the Jedi succumbed to a wracking cough, wet hacking rattles that originated from deep in his chest. Did he have pneumonia? Kriff orders at this point--the man needed help and CT-9886 was more than happy to resort to trickery if that’s what it took.
CT-9886 seized the opportunity for all it was worth, “Sir, are you ok?” he cried, “Oh, sir, you sound awful!”
“No, no, I’m fine, it’s just a bug. Nothing to fret about.”
“All respect, sir, that cough sounds serious. Could you please come over here?” He asked, casting about for the nearest biobed and skittering towards it, gesturing to it like a stage assistant. He watched, fascinated, as stubbornness flickered over that clammy face. He could see protests rise like snakes from a bog as the Jedi prepared to defend himself. Before he could, almost on autopilot, CT-9886 added, “It would set my mind at ease if I could make sure myself.”
Sure enough, true to Leigh’s word, the Jedi’s fighting spirit crumpled like so much flimsy and he sighed, “Fine. Just a quick check.”
The General sunk to sit gracefully on the edge of the bed with a mulish look and a petulant huddle inside his robes. CT-9886 had done it. He’d gotten the Jedi to concede with surprising ease. Now all he had to do was prove how sick the man was and get him on bedrest, maybe even fluids.
But where the kriff had everyone else gone?
CT-9886 twitched the sheet higher over General Kenobi’s shoulder with a deep sigh, more tired than he’d been in some time. Kenobi lay on the medical cot rasping the soft, even breaths of one sleeping a deeply medicated sleep. He rubbed his eyes, double checking his work with the General’s IV line to ensure he hadn’t stuck him too clumsily. His needlework was a bit shoddy, he decided, not up to his normal standards. He adjusted the tape securing the IV to the inside of his pale elbow carefully.
A tap to his back roused him from his tired stupor.
A medical officer he didn’t recognize lifted a finger, miming a request for silence then a gesture to follow. CT-9886 nodded, tucking the General’s arm under the protective layer of blankets before trailing in the officer's wake. He was pulled aside to a section of the medical bay most patients never went into unless they were unconscious and strapped to a gurney.
The pop of a cork and a cheer from a group of vod greeted him.
CT-9886 stared at the gaggle of medical officers, let himself get sucked into a cyclone of half-hugs, pats, gentle punches, arm squeezes, and found himself on the other side with a glass of contraband champagne in hand.
He only realized he was yelling “Fuck you guys! Fuck you guys!” when the ruckus of laughter around him lifted to a new uproar. He recognized Leigh’s cadence, spun and snarled another, “Fuck you!”
Leigh at least had the grace look genuinely contrite, “I’m so sorry, vod, I had no idea you would trip like that-”
“He pulled it off flawlessly, though! He had Kenobi turned into putty before he even opened his mouth.”
"I can't believe you guys left me there!" CT-9886 roared.
"You had to be alone and fumbling to really pull it off," said a clone he recognized as CMO by the hodge-podge pinned to the chest of his uniform. CT-9886 was amazed to find he didn't even care about meeting his new boss nor was he impressed by the man's rank anymore. He would have been a nervous wreck this morning.
"I had to listen," CT-9886 thundered, "to the General tell me about falling into a nest of fire beetles as a padawan to make me feel better about tripping!"
"Ah, yeah, that story. That's a horrible story."
"He was a child nearly eaten alive and he expected me to laugh about it!"
Leigh patted him on the back, consoling, "Now you get it. That's why we have to protect him at all costs."
CT-9886 tossed back his entire glass in one gulp. The others laughed and tossed back their own drinks.
The CMO gently hugged him, leaned back to smile at CT-9886, "You did awesome, shiny. Best Kenobi wrangler I've seen yet. I had a way harder time keeping it together than you did."
"I was way, way worse. You did great!"
"You guys really do this to everyone, huh?" CT-9886 asked wearily. When he got another refill to his champagne he immediately chugged it down.
"Yep," the CMO said kindly, "But you'll have an easier time of it from here on out. We will be here to help you. And, honestly? I don't think you'll need it. You're a natural. Welcome to the 212th, CT-9886."
A raucous cheer broke out in response. CT-9886 covered his face with his hands.
The next day, CT-9886 ended up half crouched behind General Kenobi, holding his hair back from his sweaty face as he puked his guts out.
"Little gods…" Kenobi choked wobbly-voiced, "This is such sleenshit."
"It really is such sleenshit, sir," CT-9886 agreed easily, listening with some awe as his polyglot General devolved into a hissing, vehement streak of curses in more languages than he could recognize. "How many languages do you speak, sir?"
Kenobi spat bile into the toilet, "Forty five, actually." His voice had a strange reverb against the bowl of the fresher.
The redhead managed to shoot a wan smile at him, "Near to."
"That's very impressive, sir."
"Thank you," the Jedi chirped before gagging again.
CC-2224 was so impressive that he still managed to intimidate CT-9886 even after emotionally blackmailing a tantruming Jedi Master that morning. CT-9886 also could have just been nervous, given how hung over he was on day two of his transfer to the 212th.
But Cody cut a sleek, crisp figure despite the wear and tear of his armor. The designs of his orange markings were simple and elegant and CT-9886 couldn't get over how tasteful the 212th was. The man paced in front of the new recruits, near silent, graceful, eyes inscrutable, his scowl made so fierce by the mangled scar at his temple. The recruits stood at terrified attention. CT-9886's sweat reeked of alcohol.
“Today, gentlemen… We're having a little talk about Jedi,” Commander Cody announced as he paced, “But! We aren’t talking about Jedi philosophy. We aren’t talking Strategies of the Force," Then the Marshal Commander stopped, pivoted neatly to face the recruits. He regarded them silent and dark eyed for a moment before continuing, “We’re talking Jedi. I’m here to tell you what to do when your Jedi closes his karking eyes in the middle of battle. You! What would you do?”
The new recruit, the shiny, jumped. After a moment he managed to answer, woodenly formal, “Why are his eyes closed, sir?”
Good question. CT-9886 was impressed he had the wherewithal to think it through when put on the spot by the highest ranked clone in the GAR. Cody apparently agreed; he grinned, baring teeth, “Good question, shiny, I see you aren’t completely hopeless. He’s closing his eyes because he’s using the force. Fun fact, shinies; using the force requires a lot of concentration. Jedi close their eyes to lessen the number of senses they need to ignore. So… Answer me! What do you do when your Jedi closes his kriffing eyes during battle?!” Cody spit in the perfect drill sergeant voice, getting right into the poor sod’s face.
“... Cover his back, sir! And lay suppressing fire!”
“Mediocre, but acceptable! What if there’s a tank rolling in that's taking aim at General Kenobi’s face?”
“I’d shout for him to get down, sir!”
“WRONG!” Cody roared, “You drag his stupid ass down behind the nearest cover and THEN you tell him there’s a tank coming!”
The recruits looked on, nearly shaking in their collective boots as Cody spun back into pacing with a disgusted noise, “You need to know when to interrupt force poodoo. Because… Jedi are idiots, gentlemen. They're idiots. But they're our idiots."
Even CT-9886 was a little shocked that he had the gett'se to talk about a General like that. He wasn’t shocked about the lovable idiot comment--he’d argued with Kenobi too long to believe anything else. But the commander was just saying it-
"They may be capable of crushing droids with nothing but their minds," The commander continued, "They may be trained from birth to be the best diplomats in the galaxy. They may be fluent in forty five languages or can build a speeder with nothing but scrap metal and their bare hands. But that doesn’t mean they have common sense! Today’s lesson is about how stupid the smartest, most capable, most powerful beings in the galaxy can be. Even master Yoda, may his soul rest in peace, was an absolute dunce! You are going to listen as I ruin your idea of the perfect Jedi and you’re going to listen well! Because your job is to protect them just as much as they protect you.”
"Our General is our greatest asset, our most powerful weapon, our greatest ally. But he is fragile. And he is flawed. It's our job to protect him so he can, in turn, protect us. Welcome to Jedi Management 101."
CT-9886 earned his name two weeks later. It happened during sabacc, attended by: himself, Leigh, Judge, Jag, Quiet, and Joy. They were specifically playing Revenge Sabacc which, as Jag informed him, was tradition in medbay .
They stood clustered around the gurney holding field medic Steady. They leaned against it on cocked hips and propped elbows. The gurney wobbled with every gram of weight shifted as noses where rubbed, cards were shuffled, and bets were placed. Paramedic Steady himself served as their witlessly unconscious table and cards were dealt on his chest.
"Kriff it. I fold," Quiet sighed, flicking his cards onto Steady's stomach.
"Same," CT-9886 grumbled.
Joy, Judge, Jag, and Leigh revealed their hands at once. Jag, who had a Pure Sabacc, cheered and pumped an eager fist. The rest of the medical officers groaned. Leigh shot a wry, keen-eyed smile at CT-9886. He huffed to conceal a smile and averted his eyes.
"Epar osik, nibral," Jag snickered, reaching over to tally his latest win on Steady's face in marker right next to the doodled deece on his cheekbone.
"What was I saying?" Joy grumbled as he shuffled the deck with deft hands. Their cards were old, bent, faded things with twi’lek dancing girls half worn near to invisibility on the backs.
"Jedi," Quiet reminded.
Joy paused dealing cards out to snap his fingers, "Right! So, little brother, you should absolutely watch out for Pong Krell."
"Nasty piece of work," Judge grumbled, scowling at his hand.
"Pong Krell…" CT-9886 took care to commit the name to memory.
"Never heard a good thing about the guy."
"I've heard him get called demagolka," said Leigh, his voice soft and grim. Wincing inhales hissed through teeth around the gurney.
"If you, any of you, ever get assigned to Krell you should run and tell Commander Cody or Mom Kenobi directly."
CT-9886 snorted at the moniker but joined in the dutiful chorus of, "Sir, yes, sir!"
"But, otherwise? Most of the Generals are pretty nice. Maybe step carefully around Vos. Uhm… Unduli is straight laced but reasonable… Yoda is a tricky old fart but he's really nice…"
"Wait," CT-9886 interrupted, ears pricking, "I thought General Yoda passed away?"
The entire group turned to stare at him over Steady's sleeping body. Slow smiles grew.
"Oh, oh honey…" Quiet cooed, "oh sweet little lamb…"
CT-9886 considered their reactions for a moment. Then he lay his cards on Steady’s chest and covered his face with both hands. Somebody guffawed, igniting a gale of laughter that swept around the gurney.
“Honey, sweetie. Commander Cody was taking the piss out of you.”
“You believed him?”
“Was it all banthashit? Is my entire life a lie?” whined CT-9886 through his fingers.
“Not all of it was fake,” Jag snickered.
Leigh patted him on the shoulder, “It’s alright, little lamb. Everyone falls for that one.”
“Aaaand that’s why there’s a betting pool for exactly that,” said Judge, “I’ll make a killing off your squadron.”
Quiet tipped his head in sage agreement as he shuffled his hand, “The ‘Lies About Jedi’ pool always makes good money.”
“Lamb, you in or are you folding?” Joy asked. The eyes of the medics around him gleamed with an abrupt sharpness, all turning as one to him with tiny smirks.
CT-9886 immediately wanted to bang his head on the gurney but Steady's body was in the way.
He knew answering to ‘Lamb’ would seal his fate. But he also was smart enough to know that complaining would brand him forever with the name anyway (or something worse) and provoke a level of hazing that he simply didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with. The 212th was brutally mischievous.
So he sighed again and tossed his cards, conceding in more ways than one.
Quiet peeked at the cards he’d discarded, “Heh. Smart move, Lamb.”
“A Kenobi Wrangler named Lamb... The General doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Sooo cute,” Leigh crooned. Lamb swung a fist in his direction.
Below them, Steady suddenly groaned. The downed medic cracked bleary eyes open, looked down at the Sabacc game balanced on his body, and groaned again louder.
“Noooo….” Steady moaned.
“You know the rules, Steady,” Jag sang, “This is what you get!”
Lamb jumped back when the officers around him grabbed the gurney and started swaying the whole thing back and forth, rocking the poor grimacing man on his altar of humiliation while chanting, “This is what you get! This is what you get! When you get! Hurt! Doing stupid shit! You! Know! Better!”
“Noooo,” Steady slurred, “No’ again….”
“First! General Fisto is a nudist!”
The training room went silent enough to hear a mouse droid trundle in the hallway.
“Commander Monnk has to haggle which situations General Fisto is allowed to go nude for! The debate over how much water qualifies as 'enough' for Fisto to strip down got so heated that they had to take it to the Jedi council! There are charts and notarized documents!"
CT-9886 could not laugh. He could not.
Lamb sharply turned a corner one day with arms full of gauze rolls. The packages were big enough to block the lower quadrant of his peripheral vision. This meant the resistance against his knees and calves was completely unexpected. Lamb tripped, toddled, wrongfooted and unsure where he'd kriffed up, struggling to correct-
"Whoa-!" he blurted.
"rUgh~?" a truly bizarre noise responded.
Lamb reeled backwards, tipping like a felled tree, already exasperated before he even had the chance to hit the ground.
Instead of crashing onto his backside Lamb felt the air around him congeal. His backward descent lurched to a stop with an 'oof.'
"Watch where you're going, you should," the bizarre voice cackled.
A small, gnarled tripod of claws scooped through the air and the pressurized, too-still air tipped Lamb back onto his feet before dissipating.
"M-my apologies, uh…" Lamb stammered, skittering quickly out of the small, bent figure's way. The being simply cackled again, shaking its cloud-tufted head as he limped past Lamb with taps of a walking stick that Lamb really should have noticed.
"Always in such a hurry, children are. Buried deep in your head, you are. No mind for your surroundings did you spare. Trip over master Yoda!" the Jedi grandmaster scolded, brandishing his walking stick.
Lamb stared at the small being, connecting the name to a face for the first time, and cast his narrow-eyed gaze away as he struggled to grapple a wave of annoyance. His friends had told him and he still hadn't fully believed- How many ways would the 212th's commander end up punking him?!
"My apologies, sir. I'll take more care in the future, sir..." Lamb mumbled.
The ancient shook his head gravely but huge eyes shrewdly examined him. Lamb saluted, in a flash remembering--
"Oh!? You think that's funny, vod? You think it's funny that Ki Adi Mundi has thirty wives!? Or that General Secura has been kidnapped by stalkers three times?! Don't think about it! Jedi can tell when you have dirty thoughts about them! Think about anything else, pink elephants, something, I don't care what! But for the love of Prime's heaving bosom don't think about them naked and keep your hands away from your foreheads! Hands near the head makes it easier to read your thoughts!"
--and hesitated, scowl deepening.
The Jedi chortled. Then broke into a riot of croaky giggles and didn't stop laughing as he turned and crutched away. Lamb watched him go until he couldn't see him anymore.
“Hey, Judge. Who is The Negotiator's bookie?” Lamb asked of the first familiar face he saw.
“The Bookie’s name is Bookie,” Judge said without looking up from the blood panels he was scanning.
CT-9886 rubbed his temple. “Of course.” He grumbled.
"Whatcha betting on?"
"Lies About Jedi. Unfortunately."
His vod grinned without looking up, "What happened?"
"I just saw General Yoda."
"Ah? But we told you he hasn't died."
Lamb sighed again bitterly, "... Yeah. I know."
Judge snorted, dipping to scribble a note down on his padd. Lamb closed his eyes for a beat, breathed the sterile, sharp scent of medbay air carefully, hoping for even an iota of patience.
"Judge, you're the most tolerable of my friends-"
"-So I am trusting you to tell the truth and not be a dick about this."
Judge finally looked away from his work, swallowing a brief chuckle, lips curled tight inward in a poorly-concealed smile, "Alright, blast away."
"The only reason I'm asking is because… even though it sounds stupid and it was the part of the briefing I was least willing to believe… yet I haven't actually seen anything to contradict it? In fact I only have evidence proving it?"
Lamb closed his eyes, breathed in carefully, holding up a hand to forestall judgement, "... Does having your hands near your head actually make mind reading easier?"
"Oh sweetie… Ohhh sweet, sweet little Lamb…"
"General Skywalker was a professional podracer at nine years old and yet he loves to eat live bugs! We follow this man into battle more often than you can shake a blaster at; do you trust the bug eating son of a Mynock? Huh!? What about his padawan? Commander Tano will bite you to show affection!" Commander Cody sneered into the face of a shaking recruit as he passed, "This is not a togruta thing, this is a Tano thing. If you see her smiling wide enough to bare her teeth, beware! Biting might be imminent! Count your blessings, shiny, and be grateful that togruta aren't actually poisonous."
“CT-9886! Lamb! Call for you!” someone called. The voice was barely audible over the chaos of a post-battle medbay but there was no mistaking his callsign.
Lamb stopped halfway through digging in a brother’s thigh. Each of his gory tweezers were locked in place around the shrapnel so he thankfully didn’t drop either. The owner of said thigh was thankfully too insensible to notice.
"CT-9886 AKA Lamb!"
"Here! I'm a little busy!" He yelled back.
“Call for you!”
Lamb lifted the magnifying goggles off his face and propped them on top of his head to better make an incredulous, annoyed face at the man. The officer across the room grimaced at him, holding up the comm and shaking his head.
Lamb cast his gaze across the medbay, looking for any sign that this was irregular or bad form. Instead he only saw bedlam, shouting medics and groaning, crying wounded. Leigh was helping push a stretcher bearing a critically wounded vod who looked more like meat than man straight into a surgical theater, barking directions, harsh, competent, and doing his job. Why was Lamb being called away from his?
“Here, I’ve got it," Quiet murmured true to his name, taking the tweezers from his befuddled fingers. The vod's hip nudged against Lamb's, prompting him to scoot out of the chair for Quiet's ass to replace his. Lamb stripped off his bloody gloves into a biohazard disposal droid and braved through the swarm that medbay had become.
"Here," he puffed. The vod passed the comm to Lamb's hand without any further word, diving back into the chaos.
"CT-9886. State your business," Lamb snapped.
A crackle. Then, [Uh… you're the- - - ler?]
Lamb jammed a finger into his free ear, straining to hear over the cacophony, "What?"
Lamb's stomach dropped.
"CT-9886 here is what we call the Kenobi Wrangler! General Kenobi, your own Jedi, is so bad about avoiding medbay that we have a medic dedicated to tricking him into compliance! If General Kenobi is injured but you suspect he's hiding it? If no medics are available you should discreetly comm medbay and request CT-9886 for backup! Don't believe him if he says he's fine or his injuries aren't anything to worry about. Be sneaky, don't let him catch on, and comm medbay!"
Lamb took the unexpected comm call out into the hall when Medbay got too loud to hear his own thoughts.
[We aren't sure what to do,] the soft voiced vod finished, [He won't stop trying to heal the men.]
Lamb covered his eyes with a hand, huddled against the wall and breathing carefully, "You said he hit his head? Do his pupils match in both eyes?" He took a moment to rub his eyes with a shaking hand while he waited for a reply. It didn't take long for his comm to crackle again.
[Buck and Thrasher say his eyes looked wonky not ten minutes ago. I was there when he got clocked, sir-- it sounded awful.]
"... Thank you for telling me. Send coordinates to my frequency. I'll be down as soon as I can."
[Thank you, vod.]
Lamb stood in the hallway with his fists and teeth clenched hard enough to ache from pure stress. He wanted to ask one of his superiors for help, advice, anything- but he would only be distracting them. He clucked, pivoting and marching away. He was the designated Kenobi Wrangler. This was his assignment. So, by the stars, he'd handle it by himself.
He'd never been sent off The Negotiator before. This would be his first time getting boots down on a real battlefield. But it was post battle and should be… Relatively safe. And if it wasn't Lamb supposed he would just have to do his best to heal people there.
He caught the shoulder of a passing trooper. He tugged them aside and looked them square in the visor and asked, "What's your name?"
"Uh, Wooley, sir."
The irony. "Wooley. You're taking me to General Kenobi."
"Jedi like to jump out of widows without a parachute or jetpack. They just do this. You can’t stop them. Trust me, we’ve tried. They may, in fact, throw you without warning! They may even be an asshole about it, but it's generally for the best if they can manage it in the chaos of the battlefield. Don't panic if this happens to you. Stay calm and remember your EVA training."
Lamb curled around his first aid kit and shrieked when the ground dropped from underneath him. Tossed like a large, loud, terrified grav-ball over a gigantic chasm between collapsed buildings. He could only yell, brace, and hope that General Bilaba had tossed him far enough-!
When he landed light as a feather with only a puff of dust to show for it, Lamb still went woozy and collapsed straightaway onto his bottom.
Wooley landed lightly on his feet beside him with nary a wobble. At Lamb's sour look the vod shrugged, "You get used to it."
Lamb wiped sweat from his brow onto his already dust-stained, formerly white uniform, managed to prop his jelly legs underneath himself to stand.
"What'd you say your name was, again?"
"Lamb," he groused, determinedly marching onward.
Wooley snorted, "Yeah, that's perfect for you."
Lamb swung around to jab a finger at his bucket and hissed poisonously, "Shut."
Wooley held his hands up defensively for the brief moment Lamb glared at him before he turned back and stomped onward.
"If you find a Jedi meditating so deeply that things are floating around them? This is normal. Just make sure to tie a rope around their ankle so they don't drift too far."
"I'm fine, Lamb."
"You are not fine. You are concussed."
"I can still save them."
"Please, just. Five more minutes, please…"
"... Five more minutes. I'll help. Then you will sit still and let me treat you."
"Thank you, Lamb."
“... Thank you, too, General Kenobi.”
As the official Kenobi Wrangler, he had a finger directly on the pulse of the 212th’s General. Every worried, fussing vod reported straight to him. So he knew General Kenobi wasn't himself a month later. The 212th had taken heavy casualties and those losses cut their General deeply.
Their jetti didn't mope or act upset. On the surface he bantered with as much aplomb as ever. But there was something so… Profoundly sad in his eyes, an absence of tears, a lack of animation in his expressions that couldn't be missed. He was obviously depressed and was coping by meditating more than usual.
So when he found Kenobi folded into a deep meditation hovering a foot or so in the air, he decided to change tactics. It was a simple matter to find a bungee cord, loop one end around the Jedi's ankle and the other to the nearest fixture.
Then he waited outside and lit a tabac stick to pass the time.
He counted the strategy as a win when the startled yelp-thump was followed by a delighted burst of laughter.
A brother gasped, hiccupped, and dipped his chin. The Commander saw it, of course. CT-9886 doubted much passed that man unnoticed.
"Who laughed? Who kriffing laughed?" Cody snarled, turning about face and marching into the rows of shinies spaced out evenly enough for him to weave in and out of their numbers with ease. He zeroed in on a brother, loomed into his space, "You think it’s funny that General Kenobi has fallen into eight gundark nests to date? Or that General Windu has been pushed off three cliffs by General Ti and Bilaba?! Huh?!”
A crackle of amusement got caught in one of the vode's sinuses. Cody power walked over to another cracking man and hollered, "Mace Windu is an extremely talented theater performer and has a wonderful singing voice!"
"Hello Lamb," General Kenobi sang from his cot.
Lamb smiled down at him, "Hello, sir. On a lot of pain meds, I see."
"Oh, definitely,” agreed the Jedi, “I’m high as a… a…”
“A very high thing?”
General Kenobi grinned and nodded. Lamb shook his head indulgently, turning to warm up the 2-1B surgical droid with a few clacks of a button here and there. He checked the droid’s power chord while Kenobi hummed to himself, one knee bent to bob back and forth to the tune of whatever song he was occupying himself with.
“You came along pretty agreeably this time,” Lamb noted.
His General scoffed, “I don’t actually like being injured. Sometimes I don’t have a choice. Cody exaggerates far too much.”
Lamb cocked his head as he bent to move the droid’s chord out of the way.
“He acts like I’m a masochist, as if everyone else isn’t running on as little sleep and food as I am!” the high Jedi continued, hands gesticulating in the air above him, “I like sleep! I like food! I would do anything for a bit of peace and quiet. Not my fault that there’s none to be found these days…”
He moved to stand over his General, gently taking one of his waving hands and setting it on the cot. Kenobi pointedly lay both palms flat to the sheets. Lamb patted his shoulder in thanks.
“Well, I don’t need to put you under this time but you’re more than welcome to catch a few winks while I get this shrapnel out of you. Promise you won’t feel a thing,” assured Lamb, lifting the folded layers of blood-soaked gauze to peer at the damage. The surgical droid was already lifting the screen to obscure General Kenobi’s view of his own lower body.
“Oh, boo. I don’t want to sleep here. Is it really such a crime to dislike infirmaries?”
“... No, not really,” Lamb admitted, pulling his face mask on, “infirmaries are difficult places to be. Lots of pain and bad memories. I don’t blame you.” Some days Lamb wished he was anywhere else.
“Truly, Lamb, if you want to make me happy you’ll call Cody out on his hypocrisy. In fact, if you hypo him to sleep I’ll owe you a favor. Or a nice bottle of brandy. I’ll even kiss you.”
Lamb leaned over the screen until Obi-Wan’s eyes met his, “Tell you what, if you sleep through this surgery I’ll make it my personal mission to hypo Commander Cody.”
“Jedi can sleep with their eyes open. Sometimes, when you see them walking through the corridors, they may actually be asleep! Watch out for Tano and Shaak Ti in particular, because all Togrutas sleep upright with their eyes open. It's haunting. If you suspect this might be the case, be careful! You don't want to startle them, that's unhealthy. You just gently rest your hands on their shoulders, look deeply into their eyes, and ask them if they're ok. Try to steer them back to their quarters if you can. Got it?"
Bastard has it coming, anyway. Lamb thought as he watched an overwrought, sleep deprived Commander Cody rant and rave, nearly in tears, about how stubborn General Kenobi was, he hasn’t slept in almost a week, he’s a lunkheaded sleen that’s going to crash and burn, mark Cody’s words-
“Commander Cody,” Lamb interrupted calmly. The Commander stopped short with a befuddled, shiny-eyed look on his face. That alone told him just how exhausted the man was.
“Tell me, Commander. How long has it been since you’ve slept?”
After a moment of befuddlement the commander’s face twisted into a furious scowl. Lamb blinked imperiously slow in the face of the man’s growing ire. Cody was, even half out of his mind, still sharp and his eyes darted around the hall. The only men present with them were two shiny white troopers, Wooley and Longshot, that Cody had been personally training for his Ghost Company. He was surely looking for a flanking medical officer. Smart. But Lamb already accounted for the Commander’s competence.
Lamb kept his face bland and his body in perfect parade rest. He had been looking forward to exactly this moment ever since he’d first met Cody, ever since the first kernel of misinformation had been planted in his head by the man. Oh, Lamb nearly leapt to call dibs on Captain Rex’s discreet order for one (1) sedation ambush on CC-2224.
“Because, Commander, by all accounts you have been trying to keep up with General Kenobi. I certainly hope that’s not true because even genetically engineered super soldiers can’t keep up with a Jedi-”
“Don’t get too big for your goddamn bucket, vod-” Cody snarled.
“I don’t wear a bucket, sir.”
“Watch your mouth, vod-!” Wooley snapped, muscling around Cody.
Lamb watched dispassionately as Wooley used the movement as a cover to jab forward suddenly, landing a hypo on the Commander’s unprotected hairline. Cody flinched, swung an elbow straight into Wooley’s visor-
Longshot and Lamb both flinched and hissed sympathetically when Wooley went down like a sack of tubers. But he’d accomplished his objective; Cody touched the back of his neck with a snarl, looked at the tiny smear of blood on his fingertips. He didn’t get more than a garbled “Mutiny-!” out before Longshot had to lunge to catch him and keep him from slumping to the ground. Lamb scrambled to help Wooley sit up.
“Shavit,” Wooley groaned, “You always get me into trouble, Lamb. Can’t believe I did that. He’s gonna have me scrubbing freshers until my warranty expires!”
“Blame it on Captain Rex,” Lamb grunted.
“Or you,” Wooley growled.
Lamb smirked, “Or me. I’m not scared of him anymore.” It was only mostly a lie.
Longshot grunted, bobbing Cody up higher in his arms, “Help me carry him, Wooley. Where are we taking him, Lamby?”
Lamb flicked his fingers down the hall, “Eh. Just install him in his bunk. He only needs sleep.”
He saluted the pair as they shuffled off arguing between the two of them.
That one’s for you, General Kenobi, he thinks, kissing his fingertips and lifting them into the air.