"I will die like a true-blue rebel. Don't waste any time in mourning – organize." Joe Hill
Ner vod= brother.
No, no, no not him. Please not him, not like this.
I watched, horrified as Rex fell to the ground, two smoldering holes in his chest. He hit the ground with a single, hard thud and lay still. I was frozen for a split second and then the sound of battle around me came rushing back in a single swoop. I heard Aran and Max screaming over their comm.'s as I ran over to Rex's fallen body. He stayed silent as I flipped him over.
The enormous werecat thundered over and slid to a stop in front of us. I struggled to pick Rex up, trying to get him on Plo's back, but he was totally limp and impossible to maneuver with the Force when we were being shot at. I could feel his life ebbing away and a there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it and it drove me insane.
Thank the stars for Plo, because in the next minute he bent down and picked Rex up by the back of his armor in his teeth. I turned to Max and signaled for him to follow. He grabbed a still rampaging Aran and we dashed into the sewers, the white mass of troopers following close behind. We were losing them though and when I saw our ship, I nearly cried in relief. It didn't Aran more than a minute to get the ship fired up and we were off, racing across the galaxy.
"Max, you're the medic, what can I do?" I asked, pushing aside my paralyzing fear to save Rex. He bustles around for a minute, hooking up an IV and a heart monitor before turning to me.
"I need to get the Med Patches on him, but I don't know the extent of what they'll heal. He's going to have major nerve damage."
I nodded, watching carefully as he applied the patches. Rex's heartbeat continued to fall though and the panic came back, more gripping than ever.
"His heart was nicked. Ahsoka…I'm not trained to fix something like that."
His voice was heartbroken and the expression on his face matched. I clutched at my head as I thought. I wouldn't let him die. I was a Jedi Knight damn it! He was going to live! I leapt onto the med table and straddled Rex, placing a hand on his head and one on his chest.
"Ahsoka what're you-"
"Hush!" I said, closing my eyes and concentrating. I delved into the Force, searching for his heart among the constant rush of blood in his body. I found it and reached into the very cells that made up that precious organ and herded them together to start rebuilding themselves. I reigned in the Force and made, no demanded, it to help me fix him.
"Shab," whispered Max, awe in his voice, but I didn't dare look up. I could feel the Force bending to my will and slowly I reshaped Rex's heart into a working organ. I finally opened my eyes when I felt him take a breath, a deep unlabored one, beneath me. I leapt off the table and let Max inspect my work.
"I…I don't know what you just did, I don't even know how it's possible…but you saved his life Ahsoka."
"Max, what's going on back there? Where are we going?" asked Aran over the ship's intercom. "Are we going to Chandrila? It's closer."
I pressed the responder button, my mind already made up. "No Aran, take us home. The rebellion can wait."
"Understood. Changing course to-"his voice faded away as the intercom shut off and I turned back to where Rex lay prone on the gurney. Max was checking his vitals with a puzzled look on his face.
"He should wake up in a few hours at this rate…but his brain monitor is slower than it should be. From what the ship tells me, there's no damage to it. His brain is fine."
I stayed silent, absorbing this news. Had I saved my husband only to doom him to a living death? It seemed as if the galaxy was determined to steal any bit of my happiness away.
"Don't worry Ahsoka; I'm sure he'll be fine. Kal will know what to do."
Mandalore had warmed up since we had been gone. That was the nature of this wild and unforgiving land. The weather changed from early spring to summer in an instant. I took off my helmet as we unloaded ourselves from the ship at the Skirata complex. The still pale sunlight warmed my face and I basked in it for the split second of peace that I had before we were swamped by people.
"What happened?" demanded Fi and Laseema, pushing their way to the front of the waiting crowd.
"Ambush. Rex was hurt…bad. He's-"
But I broke off as Aran and Ahsoka guided the floating gurney out of the ship, Rex's pale form still unmoving on it. I saw Fi's face drop in an instant, turning black with anger. The other troopers scowled as well. They had seen enough injuries to know a coma when they saw one. Kal came forward after a moment.
"Max, I know you're a medic… but Uthan and the others are inside as well. Plenty of equipment from when Fi was injured. Don't hesitate to ask for anything."
I nodded, going over to help Ahsoka and Aran. Before I could reach them however, Darman, Atin and Fi had rushed over instead. Ahsoka followed them inside and Aran came over to stand by me. He hadn't said a word since asking Ahsoka where we should go.
"It'll be okay, ner vod," I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. He didn't move but I could feel guilt and fear radiating off of him. "Kal has the best doctors around."
I was shrugged off and he went into the house, where I knew he would shut himself away in one of the rooms and wouldn't come out until I came and got him later. So, I decided I would do what we always did when a brother was ill.
We got together, and gambled.
Shades of gray.
Flashes of red.
And a steady ba-thump, ba-thump, baba-thump.
Was I dead? No. I wasn't completely alive either. I looked around, blearily observing my surroundings. It was quiet except for the steady beat of what I assumed was my heart.
I jerked around, fist raised at the sound of the faded voice, no more than forgotten whispers as they wove their way around me. But what I saw before me made the pumping in the background stop for a second and then speed up.
'You killed me' she whispered. 'You stopped my beating heart. You spilled the crimson. Great big splotches of it everywhere. You are a child killer. A monster.'
I backed away from the girl, a tiny humanoid child with lavender skin who couldn't have been more than eight. At least, before I had killed her.
'You, who were taught that children are to be put before anything else by your sergeant, and yet, you killed innocents, you killed those whose time it wasn't. You killed me.'
"I'm sorry," I whispered. She was on me in an instant, her tiny hands wrapped around my throat with superhuman strength.
'And the worst part,' she hissed, her breath icy cold on my skin. 'Is that for a moment, you felt nothing. No remorse, no sympathy as your brothers slaughtered my kind like cattle.'
That made me angry. "Your kind? What about my brothers? We were mass produced, slaves! And your masters did nothing about it!"
The little girl narrowed her violet eyes at me. 'You know what you did was wrong.'
I sighed, sitting down on the shifting gray ground below me. She was right. We may have had justification in killing the older Knights and Masters, they knew better. But we also killed padawans and younglings. They were just as enslaved as we were. The little girl knelt beside me and ran a curious hand through my dark hair, which was getting to be quite long.
'But I understand that you are sorry. Guilt eats you up every time you look at her. She knows what you did, but still you cannot admit to it. Why is this? Because you cannot admit it to yourself.'
I turned my face away from her. Her tiny, strong hands latched on to my face and pulled me back towards her.
'Admit it! Admit your guilt! You hand in murder!'
"You're not even real!" I roared at her, pushing her away. "You're dead! You don't exist!"
Those strange pupiless eyes focused upon me with a new emotion, and it was frighteningly foreign to me. It was the look of pure wisdom, something only achieved by a dead soul.
'You don't understand, do you? True, my physical form doesn't exist anymore, but my spirit does. Same as your brothers, like Tick and Rory,' she said, waving her hand to reveal two younger clones, one a tiny toddler and the other an older teen. My breath hitched. I hadn't seen them in years. Rory held Tick in his arms and he glared at me as he had done in life when he was upset with me.
'We died,' he said. 'Tick died during training. Training instigated on the order of a Jedi. I died during Geonosis, because you failed to go against their idiotic orders.'
And I turned away from them, unable to look at the brothers that had been the first casualties under my command. The little girl was back in front of me, her long black hair framing a sad face.
'You see? It's very simple Rex; you were the commanding officer during the raid on the Temple. Every death that happened there is on you. There were hundreds of us,' she hissed, shadowy figures appearing around her with her words. 'Not to mention just how many of your brothers died in battle because of you.'
Hundreds more joined the figures around her, and I tried to back away, a sob stuck in my throat as their names ran through my head.
Garth, his body torn apart by a mine.
Sucker, always getting into tight situations. I hadn't been there for him.
Wedge, Raincheck, and Dix, all saluting me as their ship went down over the endless oceans of Kamino during the Tipoca City battle.
And hundreds more, faceless troopers from other squads that crowded around me, arms reaching out. I curled into a ball, hands clapped over my ears.
And then, with a huge rush of wind and pop, they were gone. I opened my eyes and the surroundings hand changed to a tiny house, and I looked around, studying the room. It was my house, the one Ahsoka and I had built not too long ago.
I turned and there she was a brilliant smile on her face. It reminded me of the day my aging had been slowed, a smile that made my heart flutter. She came over to me and bent down to kiss my forehead.
"Ahsoka?" I asked, reaching up to touch her face. "Is it really-"
'Of course di'kut.'
She laughed, standing back up, and that was when I noticed her belly. She was big with child, and I saw her slender hand flutter once over her stomach before she went over to the sink and pulled out a clean plate. I watched with rapt fascination.
"Ahsoka, how long was I out?"
'What are you talking about? You nodded off for a moment. It's okay; I know how hard you've been working with Kal.'
"But, you're pregnant."
'Yes, I am. Thank you for noticing. I've been like this for about eight months now.'
'Silly, you must be-'
But then she froze mid-action and Rex cursed. He hated dreams. The steady thumping from before came back and he watched in horror as Ahsoka melted away, like a sick plastic model.
And I was alone.