Disclaimer-Star Wars is the property of George Lucas and Lucasfilm. This writing is not intended for profit of any kind and no infringement on copyright has been intended.
I find him at the Alderaan Blue, a restaurant on the top level that he and I used to go to for formal celebrations and the like. As I walk in, I can't help but be reminded of the time he and I drank the whole bottle of Kuati Chateau, a rare Shesh edition. What wild nights we used to have before those wives of ours caught us…
My breath catches in recrimination, nesting uncomfortably between my throat and lungs.
It's easy to spot him, the dark crisp nature of his uniform a poor camouflage with the designer robes and dresses of the nasally voiced dignitaries.
He's down to his last morsel of nerf steak, juice staining the plate. His jade eyes are dimmed, the focus that was more natural to it than tears gone to some far off galaxy.
I come to the table and as the silence stretches, my gaze traces features that used to be so well known to me. His forehead is still a tad to large to be truly attractive, the creases that cross his forehead giving the impression that he's always in some deep thought. His mouth is even now curled, the skin stretching enough both up and down that I can't tell whether he's grimacing or smiling. And his posture nonetheless bears the memory of years of military training.
He's the same man I saw yesterday.
The beast that I've known as fear, stirs to life, batting against the locked door that contains it. A sickly fire ignites ever so slightly in the middle of my chest, flames turning my heart to ash.
He comes to, a half smile darting across his eyes for a moment. "….So you got my message," he nods absently, as if he wanted to sigh. "I'd hoped you'd be the one. It's only fitting."
I want to ask him why. I want to learn what could drive a man to….to…that. Was the fuel to act there, waiting for a spark?
And as my lips begin to move, the questions tumbling from my mind, I instead hear different words, strangely strong and deep "Aidan Shen… you are under arrest for the…"
I tell him, and as my voice rings, patrons begin to stare, whispers hot on the heels of their eyes as they turn to the neighbors in feigned horror or surprise.
He puts the last piece of nerf into his mouth in one fluid motion, the fork clattering to the plate as he swallows.
I only feel slight sick, the bile rising in the back of my throat, when he stands up and cuffs himself, choice words his weapon.
"I should have had the oysters."
I wake to the sound of crying, high pitched squeals cutting through the home like an unseen lightsaber.
It takes me a moment to recognize the voice that's jabbing me in the back, its volume rising with each repetition. "Mu..sko. Musko. Musko."
"Yes dear?" My words are slurred, hot breath leaving a sour taste in the back of my mouth.
As I open my eyes, her dark form rolls to the far side of the bed dragging the covers that have kept out the cold, leaving me to shivers that trail down my spine.
If it's possible, the noise grows by the heartbeat. I silently thank the Force that I reinforced the walls.
"It's your turn."
I kick off the bed, my bones creaking in places that used to be untouchable, my gut rippling ever slightly.
"Yes dear," It would have been sarcastic had the day been but a little older.
I stagger out the doorway, bumping into the cabinet, again. I take little satisfaction from the fact that my mouth clamps down, muffling my curses to mere groans. I really should move that…
I reach the crib, the control panel showcasing an elevated pulse as I reach and pull my little Tien out, her skin softer than Bissamari silk. I leave the lumilamps off as I pull a small bottle out of the fridge unit, Tien's head resting against the valley between my shoulder and chest. Small droplets litter her face.
I whisper nonsensical sounds to her, over and over again as I get her to suckle the drink that I proffered to her.
Again I thank that the Force; this time in gratitude that the critter is on vacation with my brother on the far side of the planet. I'm sure it would have mistaken the sounds for mating calls.
She quiets down, her heartbeat keeping me awake as I fall back into the seat, the heating feature staving off the uncontrolled spasms of my muscles.
He held them like this too…
The warmth suddenly turns to ice.
Remember? You came to the hospital to check up on him and you saw him cradling them both, dark hair matted against their foreheads as they slept comforted by his presence.
I'm not like him. I shake my head, the fog of memories surrounding me.
Are you sure? There aren't a whole lot of differences if you look at it.
I mean you both were CoruSecs, your wives young and educated…
And wouldn't you know it. Both of you were blessed with two little children. Two glorious little flowers…
And if the long night talks you had during those hours before the raids were any indication, both you and he shared many of the same ideals…values…
Like the inviolability of innocent life…
So tell me Musko…How can you delude yourself into thinking that you aren't like him? How can you believe that you possess some mystical immunity to the malady that he called his own? You're nothing special. You know that.
Drool trickles down my side. She's fallen asleep, soft snores dotting the air. Even now I can feel the fragileness of her head, bones still hardening, muscles still limp after these few months of life.
It's such an easy thing to kill…
I don't have an answer for the beast as it nips at me from the edges of the darkness.
I put her down, placing the bottle in the sink on the side as I go, in the crib again, reactivating the monitoring systems. I make sure to swaddle one of Jeena's blankets around her.
All it takes is a pull of the finger…
I find my way to the doorway and quietly step around the furniture piece. That's when I hear it, the sound of feet stamping against the tile in the kitchen. These kids nowadays…
Ambra's fumbling with the dinnerware and I doubt that she can hear me there watching to make sure that she doesn't hurt herself.
She wouldn't even have time to scream…
I close my eyes, pushing down the nausea as far as it will go. That voice… that whispering, little voice that it used… was my own.
And they open to the sound of a scream, my heart slamming against my chest. There's a glass at her feet and even through the darkness I can see her pushing against the cabinets, her face paralyzed with fear.
I turn on the light, and for a moment, she brings her arms up for cover and stops her cry.
I find myself at her side, kneeling down to hug her as she shakes. Her words are like a lightsaber to the heart, "I thawt you was a monster, daddy."
"No..not me Ambra. Never."
My eyes shift from the puckered blue veins that travel along my hand back to his eyes, gone distant once more. I shift slightly, the air damp with our shared tension, though I don't doubt that my contribution is larger.
The white uniform fits loosely around him now. Were it not for that constant reminder on the senses, I could almost fool myself into thinking that it all had been some bad dream, created by some half digested meal.
"The blaster was in my hand and I was in their room." He pauses, and takes in the air with a breath far too relaxed, "She looked at me with some surprise I think. She had just been feeding the children when I had entered."
I swallow, "And she asked you about the weapon."
He takes a moment to reply. "Yes."
"What'd you say to her?" The words are coming easier, as if my tongue no longer feels constrained by remorse or disgust.
"Nothing. I…" , his brows furrow, "just walked over to the crib and touched his face for a moment. He smiled at me." He snorts as I feel my hand shaking.
My voice turns light, the vibrations of my body altering the pitch, "And then…then you killed him."
He nods, his face once again turned to stone, "He didn't feel any pain."
I can feel my heart trembling as I start to bring my , but instead I feel different words escaping my lips, "Siel. What'd did she do?"
His head tilts ever so slightly to his right, "She screamed of course." He turns his gaze to the ceiling "I couldn't think about it right then because the other one began crying and I needed to shut it off."
"And when I pulled the gun over to the other bed, Siel grabbed it and my finger pressed against the trigger and she fell to the floor. The hair covered her face."
"And you didn't help her?" Why can't I ask him the question that can put the beast to rest?
"I had to turn the noise off."
I stop. I only notice it now…his voice. It hasn't changed once. The hair on my neck rises as my acids churn in their pit.
He returns his eyes to mine as he edges closer to me. "I could tell just from looking at her that she was dead. I almost pulled the trigger then, when the blaster was pressed against me, " he puts a forefinger to his temple and bats his tongue against the roof of his mouth," but… I felt hungry, so I decided to get something to eat. Anything else?"
I ask the guards to leave for a moment.
And when I am left alone with the man who I called a brother, I ask him.
I see the spark return to his eyes, a cauldron of hatred eliciting impure light. "The results from that mandated test had come in." His words become hotter with every syllable, "They came back positive. My… children," he spits the word as if it were a curse, "were like them."
The beast dies without even a whimper.
The room is packed to the brim, light conversation going out between the rows of beings while the recording droids hum in the back, ever patient. They haven't had one of these trials in months.
Everyone rises as the judge, an Arcanian by the look of his clawed hands and glazed white orbs, comes to his seat. He can't be less than a hundred and twenty, the wrinkles in his flesh seemingly etched to even deeper creases plastered to his bones.
Aiden enters from the opposite passageway, a guard escorting his manacled form to the center of the area in front of the old being. He stands tall, his feet spread apart as he falls back to the at ease posture.
"Mr. Shen," the judge clears his throat "You stand accused of three violations of the law's most basic tenets. Namely, the premeditated murders of Wie Shen and Eran Shen, and the malice free homicide of Siel Shen. How do you plead?"
I already know what he's going to say…