It all boiled down to madness; sheer and complete madness. That was the only way he could explain it, but war was rarely rational.
At least, that was what Obi-Wan Kenobi had discovered over the long months and battlefront after battlefront.
The Anukara'na had to know that they were no match for the armored caravan that he had lead through the monsoon soaked plains. But still they came, throwing their gray bodies before the blaster bolts as they cried oaths of fidelity to their gods. Willing to be cut down by the sweep of his lightsaber.
Suicide was not the word for it. Mass slaughter was far more fitting.
The futility of it all.
Blood and dirt caked sorrel boots as he trudged through the makeshift barracks he shared with many of the soldiers under his command. While the enclosed officer's quarters were a separate module closed off by a door, he was still close enough to those that served and died by his command. Pausing at the juncture, he pressed a callused palm to the cool metal of the portable structure.
The thickness on his palm pads reflected a lifetime of dedication to the lightsaber and the uneasy life of the Jedi Order. Engaging muscles that burned from deep-rooted exhaustion, he pushed on the unyielding frame, forcing himself toward the closed door and his private quarters.
Warm fingers brushed against the smooth black door, before finding the small hole and hooking his finger in it. Sliding the door along its track and into the wall, the medium height man still had to duck to clear the doorframe when entering the compact chamber.
As he closed the door behind him, Obi-Wan then swept back the damp hem of his cloak so not to snag it. The action revealed the silver and black cylinder always at his hip. Laying his fingers against the cool casing, a wave of relief danced through him.
A quick survey of the room revealed a narrow cot with the bedroll at the foot. Beyond that, stood a meager desk, the reflective surface cleared of any clutter.
Pulling the stained edge of his cloak back, he took the step across the room and sank to the cot. Pain rose from his legs and ankles, abused from walking over the muddy soil and through deep ruts created by the battered caravan as it traveled at little more than a nerf's pace for 38 straight hours.Mud clung to his boots, onto the rich brown of his trousers. Pale fingers reached out and brushed off some of the smaller clods that held fast to the material below his knees. Dried soil fell to the gray, steel floor and burst into a fine powder upon impact.
A sigh rose up from deep within, as Obi-Wan studied the mess he had just created. But worse, were the muddy footsteps that he had tracked across the previously untarnished floor.
It should be cleaned, he thought before pressing his hands to the hard edge of the firm cot to push to his feet. But while the spirit was willing, the body was not and he remained sitting.
Pulling his attention away from the mess he had made, he settled his gaze on the closed door across from him. Catching his reflection in the reflective surface, he growled, "What fool thought mirrors in a barracks were wise?"
He turned away, wishing to find something else to occupy his attention. Staring down at the mud darkened skin of his hands; he noted that the dark, Anukara dirt had become ingrained in the fine creases of pores of his flesh.
In a futile effort, Obi-Wan rubbed his fingers together, hoping to brush some of the color off but it remained. It would take a long, hot shower to work all of the muck from his skin. Fortunately, on this rainy world, there was plenty of water. Unfortunately, there was little energy to be wasted heating that water.
For as much as clean appealed to him, the cold and wet did not. He had suffered more than enough of it these last few days to last him for quite awhile. A bit of rest would serve him better than a chill shower.
Folding his arms across his chest in a well-worn fashion, he relented and turned his attention back to mirror. As months of battle dragged on, he had found less favor in seeing his own reflection. Not because he did not believe he had comported himself well as a commander. Rather, the fine lines at the edge of pale blue eyes seemed deeper every time he looked. The gray, and they were wisps of gray, no matter how he tried to explain them away, seemed to gain a little more ground in his coppery gold locks; now marching into his beard.
It was not a look he liked.
Anakin often teased him.
Just wait, he could hear himself threaten, One day you will look like this too.
But it was Master Yoda's oft-repeated words that echoed in his thoughts: When 900 years you reach, look as good you will not.
Scratching at his beard, Obi-Wan had a consoling thought; at least he was not green.
The gently curving hairs at his chin were in desperate need of a trimming. He might not be able to control the tides of battle, but at least he could control his own appearance. A simple truth was that feeling put together, gave confidence to his actions. This would carry to those he commanded.
After all, he was a General in the Grand Army of the Republic, charged with the welfare of the troops he commanded and the protection of those worlds that remained loyal to the government.
Fingers lightly brushed through the thick strands of his hair. It could be trimmed too.
With a renewed sense of purpose, the Jedi rose to his feet, but the few moments of sitting had allowed his muscles to cool and grow stiff. The ache, a rebellion against his desire to move, filled him as he straightened. Tense movements commanded his form as he freed himself of his saturated cloak.
The hem to brushed the floor, before it found rest at the end of the cot. After a slight pause, he then relinquished his weapon and utility belt, placing them upon the metal desk just a few steps away. Seasoned hands pulled free the wide band of the cloth belt that held his tabards in place. Discarding the rest of the layers that made up his tunic, he reached into the small, open closet across from the desk and found a dry towel hanging from a hook.
Slinging the soft, laundered material over his shoulder, he headed for the door.
A shower, cold as it was, awaited him.