Breath of Heaven
A delivery and a deliverance. Fluffy Siriwan.
Disclaimer: Star Wars and all its characters are owned by George Lucas and company. I wrote this for fun, not profit!
"The man is an obstinate, rock-headed nerf-herder with the brain of a bantha and the wisdom of a mutant mynock!"
General Siri Tachi put her hands on her hips and glowered at the flickering blue hologram of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master and High General of the Grand Army of the Republic.
"Is he really as bad as that?" Obi-Wan asked mildly, his voice distorted by the distance between Coruscant, where he was overseeing the Mid-Rim conflicts, and Dhakar, where Siri was stationed with her clone troops.
"Maybe Governor Tristan doesn't have the brain of a bantha," Siri allowed, "but he is obstinate and rock-headed and foolish! You'd have thought I'd asked him to give me the sacred staff of the Sayyidi, the way he went on! For crying out loud, all I want to do is buy food from him!"
"Why is he so unwilling to help?"
"Well, supplies are short for everyone in Qaedar, so I didn't expect him to be thrilled about sending some of it to us, but he just refused to understand that I can't get rid of the droid army cutting off the city's supply routes, unless I keep my clones fit and fed!"
Siri paused for a moment to calm herself, and continued with her report.
"I've cut rations again, but this can't continue much longer. I have to keep my clones out on patrols constantly, and the teams keep getting caught in skirmishes that wear down on their strength and their patience. Morale is about to hit rock-bottom. Is there any hope that Master Rahm will be able to punch a hole in the planetary blockade, so we can just get our supplies from off-planet?"
"I'm afraid not. He's doing his best, but we can't count on that happening any time soon."
Siri sighed. "I guess I'll just have to try again. I'll see if I can arrange another meeting with Governor Tristan tomorrow morning."
"I'm sure you'll be able to persuade him," Obi-Wan said. "But Siri - you said the morale of your troops is low, but how is their general doing?"
"Not so hot, but I'll live."
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Like what, send me flowers?" Siri laughed. "There's nothing you can do. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine."
Obi-Wan didn't seem entirely convinced, but he knew better than to push it.
"Then I'll look forward to your next report," he said. "May the Force be with you."
"And you," Siri said, and ended the transmission.
Clone Captain Lock was manning the communications equipment late that night when another transmission was initiated from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
"High General Kenobi," Captain Lock said, removing his helmet respectfully upon recognizing the holoimage of General Tachi's superior officer.
"Captain Lock. Where is General Tachi?" Obi-Wan asked.
"She's asleep, sir, but I will be happy to fetch her for you."
"No, no need," Obi-Wan said. "I have an important assignment for you, Captain, but you must carry it out in complete secrecy. Even General Tachi must not know of it. Do you understand?"
"Good. Tell me, Captain, have you familiarized yourself with the native flora?"
"Yes, sir. We were fully briefed on the various plants and trees which might prove hazardous to our mission - the hallucinogenic fungi that grow in the deep forest, the poisonous bushes that eat away at the skin, the tree that-"
"Yes, Captain, that's very good. But the biological specimen I am interested in is not poisonous. It is known as the paeonia peregrina, and it grows only in tiny niches found high on the rock cliffs near your camp. Have you heard of it?"
"I'm not surprised. It's quite rare. I need you to find a specimen for me, and discreetly report back as soon as you have it. Can you do it?"
"Yes, sir. I won't let you down."
"Good. Here's what you need to look for..."
A few hours before dawn, Captain Lock slipped into the communications tent and dismissed the clone who was standing guard there. Lock opened a link to Coruscant, wincing as his movements caused his sore arms and legs to twinge painfully. He didn't have long to wait before the wavering blue image of High General Kenobi appeared before him.
"Sir? It took some work, sir, but Operation Paeonia was a success," he reported.
The captain saw the general's face light up. "Excellent work, Captain. I have one thing further for you to do. This will be the difficult part. You must sneak into General Tachi's tent while she is sleeping, and leave the specimen where she will see it upon awakening."
"Yes, sir. But sir - in my experience, it is extraordinarily difficult to sneak up on a Jedi. What shall I say if she catches me?"
General Kenobi thought carefully.
"I don't like to think of the consequences of being caught in such a situation, especially by a woman like General Tachi," he said. "I order you to not get caught."
"Yes, sir," Lock said unhappily, and ended the transmission.
Siri awoke early, as she did every morning, so she could have the chance to meditate in her tent in peace before the clones awoke and began to make their usual racket moving equipment around.
The first thing her eyes fell on as she sat up in bed was a many-petaled white flower resting on the crate she used as a table. She looked around sleepily, and saw no one and nothing else unusual in her tent. Siri swung her legs over the edge of her cot and shivered as her bare feet touched the cold ground, but she leaned over and picked up the flower before returning to her cot, tucking her chilled feet underneath her for warmth.
She studied the blossom with curiosity. It was about the size of her hand, and the petals were such a pure white that they nearly glowed in the early morning light filtering through her tent. She touched the ruffled edge of a petal, and marveled at its softness.
Who could have left it here? she wondered. None of the clones struck her as the sentimental type, and there was no one else near the camp for miles, with the exception of battle droids. Siri lifted the bloom to her face and a heavenly scent washed over her. The fragrance was light and appealing without being overly sweet. She breathed it in for a long moment, then lowered the flower back down to her lap and gently touched it, dampening her fingers with the dew beading the petals.
Perhaps it's a good omen, she thought. Perhaps today Governor Tristan will agree to give us the supplies.
TO BE CONTINUED