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To Be Taken, To Be Stolen

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It wasn’t hard to organize the vod . It was ingrained in them since decanting, following orders and listening to the older brothers. The Alpha’s were the first to propose the plan.

 

 Alpha-17 med scans after Jabiim had found a strange shadow on the brain. The Jedi healer was baffled, but passed it off as a blip in the machine, but Alpha knew better. Asking the same healer about it a day later produced honest confusion and more checks for a concussion Alpha knew he didn’t have. He kept quiet after that. If Kamino teaches you anything, it’s to blend in, not stand out, be exactly the same as all the clones that came before you. 

 

But covert ops were also part of that same training and getting to a non-republic medical base that didn’t ask a lot of questions in hutt space was probably the easiest part of the oncoming storm, not that they knew it at the time. Clean med droids, trained and programmed by slaves to free their brethren found what Kamino had hidden, a small chip, barely the size of a fingernail. 

 

Further tests proved it was in every brother, a shiny plucked straight from his first battlefield, a veteran CC tried and true, they were all chipped, and none of them knew why. 

 

Cody was the one who put it together, listening one night to his general, a bottle of brandy and a pile of completed reports between them. 

 

We didn’t want you to be soldiers, you understand, we didn’t want you to be here, fighting and dying with no choice and nothing to call your own. You are all worth so much more, you know that right?” 

 

“Sifo-Dyas had left the order by the time you and your brothers were created, none of us know what he was thinking or what he saw, but at the same time we couldn’t leave you under the auspices of the Senate. We couldn’t free you, but we can let you live, and protect as many of you as we possibly can.” 

 

The Jedi hadn’t ordered them, the Jedi didn’t know where the order even came from. Jango was working with the Separatists and Dooku had said there was a Sith Lord in the Senate and all of it boiled down to a comm call in the middle of the night after a hard campaign where Cody told Alpha his suspicions. 

 

They were a trap. Somehow, at some point, they could be controlled like nothing less than the droids they continually fight against and the people who will be hurt by this are the people who have done nothing but fight and die and protect them with everything they have. 

 

Plans were made, thrown out, and re-written. Supplies gathered at out-of-the-way checkpoints and slight creative changes to resupply and casualty lists. The Jedi were so overworked and unused to the minutiae of war they barely noticed, and if the few who did got a quiet word about brothers not suited to the war, brothers saved from decommisioning, and then that it, and the numbers on their reports shifted every so slightly more than others, an apology from being who wished they could do more for the men they sent to die. 

 

Plans changed further when one after another, brothers came forward with more names to add to their goals. Aayla, Caleb, Cal, Plo, Anakin, Depa, Jaro, Mace, Obi-wan. Names, added by subordinates turned brothers turned family turned lovers, and the plans changed further still. This was never let on to the few who had gleaned part of the clones' plans, and the grief-stricken few kept quietly shuffling supplies and brothers to way stations and safe havens unknown to the galaxy at large. 

 

The Senate saw a greater number of casualties, saw the greater cost this war was waging on the Republic, and sent more funds for more brothers and said that was it. You were made to fight for us, so do so. Fox was the bulwark on Coruscant, him and his men providing exactly what the senators and politicians wanted to see, faceless men going about their duty with hardly a word otherwise. But the lessons learned on the front made their way through all the brothers eventually and if there were shields and a surface of don’t look here, good soldiers follow orders, we are expendable then that was exactly what some in the Senate had been expecting to see and why should they look any further? 

 

Brothers died, Jedi died, and those left behind began feeling thin and worn at the edges, as if one more blow would topple the effort, as if one more blow would make them all fall. Then it came, as the Jedi were forced to sacrifice one of their own on the altar of their own powerlessness. Twin lightsabers left behind and a general close to breaking and another weighed down by grief and duty and Rex, snarling at everyone who came within a foot of his space, terrified for his sister, his vod , who was on her own, terrified of everything that was to come. And Cody took one look at his brother, bloodying his knuckles in the dark of the night in the gym, and acted. 

 

A comm link to Kamino and it was in motion, as the competence and perfection trained into them since decanting was turned not towards the war they were taught to fight, but to the inner, more personal creed each and every vod had learned in the dark nights in white halls, from their older brothers and passed down unceasingly from the first. Brothers All. Vode An . And now, well, now their brothers were going to be safe.

 

It began with a group of clones, still led by a snarling Rex, finding his sister in the lower levels, dirt caked under her nails and wishing for just someone she could turn to, being met with an open hand, an offer of safety , and she was theirs. 

 

It began with a man, weighed down by years of grief with war writ into his bones, trying to save even one person he loved, pleading and arguing and bargaining with anything to just make sure the Order he loved, the Order he had pledged his life to more times than he could count did not fail another too-angry-too-emotional padawan for something they did not do. A slumped figure entered his quarters to find his Commander, his steady rock through the war with a cup of tea and a commiserating smile. The man didn’t know the tea was laced with enough sedative to keep even Obi-wan Kenobi down, because the Commander didn’t have any ill intentions to this man who fought beside him day by day, only the desire to see him safe and happy. 

 

It began with a mission, cooked up with the only 3 other survivors of their entire battalion, a mission that ticked all the compassionate boxes for the man they called father and would ensure he was away from Coruscant come morning, a rescue and an apology in one, a chance to explain they needed to save their buir from that which they bring. 

 

It began with a quiet conversation in a bunk made for one, now holding two, blue fingers sweeping across gold markings and hushed words spilling from lips that longed to touch the ones just a few inches away. 

 

It began with an impassioned plea from a clone medic, showing slides and biopsies to the head Jedi medic, begging her to get out, to leave, to take their children and run. To not wait for deliberation and council, but to act as one must when a patient is on the brink of no hope. 

 

It began with drugged tea, fake mission, quiet desperation, and all over the galaxy those the vod had claimed as aliit were stolen, taken, and persuaded away from their duty for the sake of their lives, for the sake of their safety. 

 

It was not immediately obvious when Destroyers left orbit on various planets and shipyards across the galaxy, after all, there was a war going on, there were planets in need of aggressive liberation, there were dirty Separatists all over trying to ruin good Republic worlds with ideals of fighting corruption and independent oversight.  

 

Eventually, reports came, from admirals, planet officials, people all over the galaxy asking what happened to our defenses? What happened to the men in white, patrolling through our cities, scaring our children? What happened to the Jedi, stalwart and fierce, sabers glowing as they pushed back the tide against an army of no humanity? 

 

And the Senate didn’t know. The Senate couldn’t know, for they had no recourse, no connections, no one to blame for the missing army they had promised would die to protect their monetary interests and tax havens. Some Senators looked at each other with grim eyes, having woken up with messages and explanations and apologies from dear friends and past saviors, some were not even in the Senate on this day, having taken a quiet vacation, or a pressing issue on their homeworld they really must leave immediately for. 

 

But the clones were gone, and along with them all they had claimed as aliit . They had gone to the unknown regions, parts mapped out over years of ships being written off as destroyed with the rest, of brothers being labeled as missing in action, of Exploracorps pilots being quietly assimilated into an order, a people they had always felt every so slightly disconnected from. 

 

The trip through hyperspace was not short, and it was not without its difficulties, straggling ships freeing themselves from active campaigns, a brutal diversion form one battalion to lay waste to that which was never their home, rescuing tubies and cadets who had only just started learning the creed which drove their brothers to such lengths. 

 

Most difficult of all was the waking, the realization of their generals, the bitter arguments, the confused pleas to look and listen to all that Cody and Alpha and countless others had pieced together from a distance to the big picture. 

 

There was a man, with sons more numerous than most who held each close, and declared himself their buir for all to hear, proudly saying their names as his sons and clutching claws into plastoid armour painted gray with grief. 

 

There was a girl, spinning around in the arms of the man she loves, laughing and crying with happiness that she can finally be with him, be with her men until the stars expire and they all march far away, never again on orders she grits her teeth and relays through comms. 

 

There was man, who for so long had seen how easily he could break everything around him and had watched as cracks started forming in the foundation of all that he had loved, and he smiled. Because for all that there were still cracks, for all that he looked at some of the faces and could see exactly how they could shatter, they were better. There was no longer a cloud obscuring all he could see until he couldn’t see the people past their actions and now he looked on men he had fought for, men he had saved and smiled, for they were finally free and his family was with them. 

 

There was a man, an old, old, man who had seen generations live and die and who had hardened his heart against those bitter feelings of being a spectator to that which he could not join, who first looked at these bright little lights in a small ship and said that they are each different, each unique. He had heard the quiet desperation leaking through the force that a clone medic could not hide and gathered his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and led them through to a waiting ship. 

 

There was a man, balanced on a precipice, tugged back and forth with every poisoned word and heartfelt battlefield save that woke up and did not know why his eyes told him his wife sat before him in a Republic Star Destroyer. Her quiet, imperative words spoke of changes and uncertainty that they could rise above, that they could work through and find their footing in, no longer hiding but together and safe. 

 

There was a boy, so very young, still clutching his Master’s hand as she laid in the bed beside him, and there was his Commander, speaking in low tones to the both of them, promising no more war, no more killing, no more brothers he meets and then are gone. He promises safety and the boy is hesitant, unsure, until the side of his mind always inundated with confidence and love breaks and relief so strong he cannot feel anything else breaks through the facade. 

 

There was a girl, headstrong and fierce, who grew up in peace and forged herself in war. A girl who had not been chosen, but chose for herself a family of men, a family of brothers with an impulsive older brother and a father figure more caring and strong than the temple itself. She knew these men for they had offered her their hand, and she had taken it and she had no regrets for she knew, with these men she was safe. 

 

There was a man, with war writ into his bones, who had bled and cried and endured so very much for that which he loved, who had lost so many and never forgot their names, who had held himself like a great tree and sheltered all he could under his strong arms. But the tree he had was an illusion and this man was simply another one who had never been chosen, never been good enough, fast enough, strong enough, to save all that he cared for. His Commander knew him though, knew the real sorrowful man through the veil of High General and Negotiator and chose him over both their duty-bound roles. And he spoke, 

 

“We were a trap. So we decided to break our chains and free all of us. The Republic doesn’t care about us beyond the body-shield we provide for their own enrichment. The Jedi do. The Jedi protect us and we protect them. So we freed you as well. You’re aliit , General. We want you, and so we took you.”