For a lifetime, no matter how short it had been, Cody had believed that there was nothing more important than his brothers. Of course, there was the Republic and the Senate and whatever else, but first and foremost his loyalty had always been with his brothers. Men like him, created from the same strand of DNA with the only purpose to fight this war and, if their superiors considered it necessary, die for the greater good.
But no one besides the clones themselves had ever understood how deep the connection between them really was. While most of their superiors had only assessed them as the cannon fodder they had been designed to be, the clones valued each other as brothers. They were family, the only family they would ever have for the short life their accelerated lifespan would grant them.
Cody could have lived comfortably with these facts without asking further questions. The Kaminoans had raised him with the knowledge he would die on the battlefield, and he had been okay with that – until the fateful day when the whole world had turned upside down, and the galaxy had been rearranged in a way that nothing would ever be the same again.
Many months had passed since that particular day. Months that Cody had used to gather as much information as necessary. But unfortunately, the deeper he dug, the worse he felt. He had found out what Order 66 had been all about just as he had found out why it had been so easily executed.
The family that Cody had grown up with had turned against everything they had ever learned. In the blink of an eye, friends had become enemies – not because they had turned against the clones but because there was a conspiracy at work that the clones couldn't even begin to understand.
One single order and the clones had destroyed everything Cody had ever known. He himself had tried to kill his general and friend. But other than all his brothers, Cody hadn't been able to comply in the end. Once, because he had been overcome by sudden unbearable pain and second because it had felt so utterly, utterly wrong.
And ever since that day, Cody had to live with the fact that his brothers weren't his family anymore. He knew what had happened. Finding out about the inhibitor chips and the order that activated them hadn't been that hard, and he had had help to get to the bottom of the tragedy.
But knowing the truth didn't help Cody in any way because he was still severed from his brothers and the life he had known. There was still the oppressive Empire that had replaced the Republic he had been created to serve. And there was also Sheev Palpatine, former Supreme Chancellor and now Emperor, who had orchestrated the tragedy from the beginning.
Cody had been sure that the past was in the past, and that the galaxy was now facing a terrible fate because his brothers had been instrumental in the Republic's downfall.
That was until a few weeks ago.
Now Cody stood in a half-lit hallway aboard a space station whose name he couldn't even pronounce. He had followed many clues, given to him by a benevolent friend who actually cared for him (and that was a first because no one had ever really cared for him except his brothers and his general). She had told him with a smile that he should follow the clues and find the Asgard for they were able to help him in a way he couldn't even imagine. Whatever that meant.
He only knew they came from another galaxy or – as some of the information he had found claimed – from a parallel universe. Their technological achievements were said to surpass everything any people in Cody's galaxy had ever come up with. He could only assume that they lived in a realm where people were living in peace which allowed them to promote science. If that were so, Cody would envy them for not having to live in a war-ridden galaxy that only had time for making advances in weaponry.
After waiting for countless hours in this depressing hallway and also almost freezing to death in the process, Cody began to grow a little impatient. It had taken him a great deal of ingenuity to reach this forsaken place somewhere far beyond the Outer Rim, and he had been nervous when finally arriving. Now nervousness was slowly beginning to turn into impatience. But if there was anything Cody had plenty of, it was time.
Suddenly, when the oppressive silence had almost started to get the better of Cody, on the far end of the hallway a door opened and a being appeared that couldn't have looked more strange to the clone. Small, skinny, its skin almost white, the being slowly walked towards Cody, eyeing him closely with large black eyes that seemed to read the clone like an open book.
"Greetings," the being finally spoke when it had reached Cody. "My name is Thor. I'm the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet. I take it that you have been calling us?"
Cody swallowed nervously, unable to make up his mind about how to react appropriately.
"I'm Cody," he croaked with an almost failing voice. "I've been told by…"
"I know," Thor interrupted him nonchalantly. "She has sent us a message concerning your arrival on our outpost. We came as soon as possible."
"Thank you," Cody murmured, not knowing what else to say.
Thor glared at him for a long time without speaking any further word. It seemed like the Asgard had all the time in the universe.
"She…" Cody tried self-consciously and cleared his throat. "She said you could help me."
"She told me your story," Thor confirmed. "I've never met anyone more compassionate than her. When she got aware of the fate of your brothers, she couldn't ignore it. But what she asked of us is difficult."
Thor kept staring at the clone with his unsettling large eyes as if he was trying to read his mind. Cody didn't know that the Asgard were telepaths and that Thor, in fact, was able to read parts of his visitor's mind.
"It is interesting indeed that you and I have more in common than most other people in the multiverse," Thor finally spoke. "We're clones too, but we use cloning technology differently."
Cody didn't know how to react to this statement. Of course, he had always suspected that the Kaminoans weren't the only cloners far and wide, but he hadn't actually expected to meet others.
"However," Thor continued. "Our knowledge might be useful when helping your brothers. But I take it that at this particular point in time we're too late to make a significant difference."
Cody's heart sank when he heard those words. Of course, he knew full well that it would be next to impossible to get near enough to his brothers to extract their inhibitor chips. It seemed he was too late indeed.
"You look sad," Thor remarked. "But you don't need to."
"Why?" Cody countered him. "I already knew the answer, I knew that it's too late to save my brothers, but I came here because she gave me hope you could still do something… anything…"
The clone's voice broke, and he looked away from Thor's unsettling eyes.
"I told you that at this particular point in time we can't do much," Thor said patiently. "That doesn't mean we can't do anything at any other given point in time."
Cody looked at the Asgard in puzzlement, unable to comprehend his words.
"We normally don't interfere with time," Thor informed the clone. "But in case of your galaxy, we believe that it's important to make an exception. The Sith are too dangerous to be allowed to rule."
"You… you can travel in time?" Cody asked incredulously.
Thor gave him a benevolent glance.
"Time is just another dimension," the Asgard lectured his guest. "In normal circumstances, time travel is illegal, of course, because the danger for those meddling with time is too great to take risks. But these aren't normal circumstances. We can't challenge the Sith Lord now because he is too powerful and also has a too powerful apprentice."
"But you can challenge him in the past?" Cody asked, hardly believing what he heard.
"We can travel to a point in time where the Jedi can deal with the Sith Lord," Thor explained. "They have to be told the truth about the Chancellor because only then are they able to lift the veil of what they call the Dark Side of the Force."
"That… would be great," Cody admitted carefully.
Thor didn't miss the slightly disappointed look on the clone's face which was the exact reaction he had expected from Cody.
"And while the Jedi are doing what has to be done, we will call out to your brothers," the Asgard continued, pretending not to have seen Cody's look. "Removing the inhibitor chips from their brains is a simple task for an Asgard physician. We have experience with brain implants."
Cody stared at Thor in disbelief.
"That sounds like it's no big deal whatsoever to do advanced brain surgery," he grumbled.
"It is indeed no big deal whatsoever," Thor replied meekly.
Only now, after thinking it over for a moment, did Cody realize what they were actually talking about. This small being who looked so entirely out of time and space just had given him a chance to save everything, not only his brothers but the whole galaxy, from the Emperor by eliminating him before he could become invincible.
"What's your price for doing this?" Cody wanted to know, his hands shaking from excitement.
Thor raised what passed as a brow for him and cocked his head.
"The woman who sent you has saved my race from certain doom," he then said quietly. "How can I refuse to return the favour? You are important to her, which means you are important to me as well."
Cody swallowed hard, entirely lost for words.
"However," Thor continued. "We need a plan. I don't know much about your galaxy, which is why I have to rely on your expertise. I need you to tell me who's the most trustworthy Jedi to be let in on the truth and I also need to know how to gather your brothers in one place in order to remove their inhibitor chips."
The clone's thoughts were racing. He had been given the opportunity to turn everything around. There was no room for failure, so he had to think hard.
"Master Kenobi," he finally said. "He's my general, my best friend even. I know he'll listen. I trust him."
Right at this moment, Cody didn't want to remind himself that he'd have to tell his general all the reasons for why he had travelled back in time. He could hardly blatantly tell him that he had tried to kill him. But that was a problem for another time.
Thor nodded thoughtfully, obviously knowing who Cody was talking about.
"He's also been best friends with one Anakin Skywalker," the Asgard then said. "The young man who's now the Emperor's apprentice."
"What!?" Cody felt like someone had stabbed an icy dagger right through his heart. That couldn't be true!
"Don't worry," Thor said dismissively. "Once the Sith Lord has been disposed of, he won't be lured by the Dark Side anymore. Especially since we're able to solve his greatest problem… but that's something I'm going to tell him in person."
Cody was utterly perplexed now but didn't dare to voice his countless questions. He had a feeling that the Asgard wouldn't tell him more than he needed to know anyway.
"What about your brothers?" Thor brought the clone back on track. "Is there a place where we can meet as many of them as possible at the same time? It would take too long to seek them all over the galaxy."
Cody ran his hand through his hair, pondering. "Most of us live on Coruscant. There are also many of us on Kamino. I'm sure we can find a way to call them all back from where they are now… then. I mean, as soon as Palpatine is… relieved from his duties, the war will end. Won't it?"
"Wars have the tendency to go on even if the main warmonger is dead," Thor mused. "But I think we can take care of that problem in one way or another."
"But what about me?" Cody had a sudden idea that unsettled him greatly. "There'll be a younger me too, won't there?"
"No," Thor said. "The moment we travel back in time, your younger self will be replaced by you, but you will still know everything your older self knew. Time travel is a complicated science. There are reasons as to why it shouldn't be taken lightly."
"I understand," Cody said, feeling somewhat unsettled by the prospect of replacing his younger self.
"Are there some men among your brothers who can help you contact all the clones in the galaxy to call them back home?" Thor interrupted Cody's musings.
"I'm a Commander," he let the Asgard know. "I can call them. General Kenobi can do that too. For the logistical part, I can always rely on Captain Rex. He's a good friend of mine."
Thor nodded, turned and began walking in the direction of the door through which he had entered the hallway earlier.
"Come," he beckoned the clone. "There's work to do, and we don't have all the time in the multiverse."
All Cody could do now was to follow the Asgard into an unknown future that would hopefully look much different from what he had been living with for so many months now. And hadn't Thor said they were cloners too? Maybe they were able to solve a few other problems as well, like the accelerated ageing.
Cody stepped through the door into another hallway, putting his life and trust in the hands of the Asgard and the woman who had called them to his aid.