A/N – You might want to skim Wookiepedia for 'Asajj Ventress', Battle of 'Boz Pity' and 'Alpha-17' before reading this story.
Epilogue – Two years later at Boz Pity
Ventress woke on the Republic medical transport. She'd lowered her body process until they thought her dead; , even Kenobi had though her dead and, she supposed, she might be in some way. Light-headedly, she moved silently through the corridor to the cockpit. It was a simple thing to commandeer the ship; to touch their minds with the Force. She felt like fine energy, too strong to remain constrained in her own body.
"Where to, sir?" asked the navigator.
"Just far away. Far from the Jedi, from this war, from Count Dooku. Just fly as far away as you can." Asajj felt other life forms on the ship, wounded, pained, hurt both physically and emotionally. Like you are, Asajj, Hevy whispered to her softly and she felt his warm breath on the back of her neck. They're my brothers, will you help them? Hevy had so rarely asked her for anything, preferring their battle of wills. Absently, she smiled in memory and heard his answering chuckle. Asajj felt loved by his hug and, for the only time in her life, simply let it be, let it exist between them.
She found them in the med unit. Clones. Asajj shook her head, not clones but Hevy's brothers. The four bacta tanks were occupied while the reminder of the clones lay on gurneys and cots. The most wounded from the battle of Boz Pity. She felt a bond of kinship with them.
One recognized her and lifted his blaster, but his arm was bloody and too weak to aim. The blaster fell from his fingers.
"Sleep." she told him as the winds of space swept through her. She recognized it now; she was dying and becoming less a user of the Force and more a part of it. The medics were battle trained and two also grabbed for blasters. She pulled all the blasters from the room. "Sleep", she told them all, and they did so. She woke one medic, a sergeant by his armor. "Tend to the wounded then sleep," she said as she sat the poor physicality of her body on some flat surface. The medic turned to some cabinet and gathered supplies.
"Not much longer, Hevy." Her voice was soft and only Hevy heard her.
No, not much longer. But Hevy frowned angrily at his words. Asajj longed to reach up and touch her lover's lips with her finger. Her fingers reached, but it was the returning medic whose lips she touched. He raised an eyebrow in surprise, but took her hand and set it next to her as he gently pressed his arm to her shoulders, taking her down to whatever surface was beneath her. She floated; touching space and stars and Kenobi and poor deceived Dooku. Hevy smiled at her then gently took her by the shoulders and pressed her to whatever surface was beneath her.
"I don't know how you're standing, you should be in a tank," the medic was saying as Ventress listened to his faraway words. "You don't seem to be in pain but I'll have anodyne ready when you need it."
"I won't need it," she smiled at him. Or was it Hevy she smiled at? The medic seemed truly concerned and she wondered who he thought she was. He placed the hypospray to her neck and….
Asajj Ventress slammed breathlessly into her body, the intransient colors of space and Force and all that beauty, fading to shadows. Hevy, his smile warm and his golden eyes gleaming, fading with his words. Not yet, Asajj. Not me.
"Knew it would work," muttered the medic triumphantly. "Kriffing, ignorant med droids." He ran his scanner over her then leaned over her face. "Commander," he whispered, she knew, though it sounded like he was shouting and his breath was a scorching wind over the skin of her cheek. "You'll be over-sensitive to external stimuli for a while. I'd suggest a healing trance. I'll be here for you when you wake."
Ventress wondered again. Who did he think she was? She raised a hand and almost touched his face. "Sleep", she commanded, setting herself in a healing trance as his eyes shut.
Asajj Ventress returned to the bacta tanks and pressed a hand to one as she recognized the clone there, both by his Force presence and by the scars she herself had inflicted. He was asleep, helpless, in the tank. He'd be ready in about three days, the light saber wound, low in his abdomen, healed.
Asajj checked the other three bacta tanks. They'd all be ready to go within three days. She nodded to herself and went to the cockpit to alter the plans she'd told the pilots. She had them take shifts. The trance had helped and she wouldn't die of her wounds. She spent time between the cockpit and the med unit, usually meditating. Most of the time she explained Hevy's appearance as a dream or the relived memories of a dying mind. Most of the time.
The others slept. She woke the ones in the med unit as necessary to have them feed themselves and exercise their muscles. The medics she woke to attend the wounded. One clone hadn't been healing well and she'd reached her hand over him, doing what needed to be done, doing what the medics couldn't. There was no reason not to. He woke momentarily and Asajj stared into those amber brown eyes. But this clone had no cocky half-smile and his voice held no recognition of her.
"Thank you." He had said quizzically as he recognized her and worried that he was being healed for some nefarious purpose.
"Sleep," she told him, touching the backs of her fingers to the tattoo dancing along his jaw. "Forget I was here."
Two men died and she followed the medics, their emotions sharp in grief, as they took the bodies to the on-board morgue. They expected her to say something and so she did even though she could see the shades of the two dead men. One was taciturn, eyeing her warily then sighing and giving her his name. "Wooley, Commander Cody's second in command." The other laughed and turned his head from her, looking beyond her sight, pleasure evident on his face. Only for an instant did he turn back to her. "Boil," he said then moved on as though he had more important things to do.
The one in the bacta tank healed as well as he ever would. She looked at him and, reaching out with the Force, woke him. He was instantly aware. He recognized her and glared at her with hatred.
"Hello Alpha. It has been a long time." She bowed her head and sucked in her lower lip, worrying it with her teeth. "Perhaps not that long in time, but so long in my mind." She moved from the bacta tank. His hate was … unnerving, it was personal; not a clone's for the enemy but his hatred for her.
"I have no more taste for war, for torture. I am heading to the Outer Rim and will drop you off at a neutral planet. There is a pilot and a navigator. I will not need them. They and the other three in bacta tanks will need to assist the three medics with twenty six wounded." She looked him in the eyes, her crystal blue to his velvet brown and gave the wicked smile he remembered. "I didn't think you'd want to leave them with me." She felt his rage of agreement.
Her silver blue eyes took on a different look. "I do not think you will ever walk again. Grievous' light saber went through you, sliced into and cauterized half of your spinal cord at the third lumbar vertebra. The bacta tank cannot heal that." She felt his momentary loss of self at the news.
Alpha didn't completely believe her. Not about the other clones, not about his own wound. There were too many lies and half-truths in her past. Yet she seemed … empty. She left him in the bacta tank, awake, but she turned a monitor so he could see the wounded and the medics. For a moment he thought they were dead then he saw breathing, the gentle movement of sleeping men.
"I will return in several hours so you will sleep." she glanced down at the monitor. "I thought it inconvenient to have clones awake and wandering around, so they are all asleep." She departed the room returning several hours later to add sleeper to his bacta tank. He saw her flick off the monitor as he drifted.
She woke him each day and flicked the monitor on for him. Then she would go into the med unit and wake the others - the medics to heal, the wounded to eat or move. He saw they were alive and part of him rejoiced and part of him wondered what terrible thing she would do to them.
After three days, he saw her go in among the wounded. She woke the medics and ordered them to prepare to evacuate the wounded, told them to forget her. She came to the bacta tanks and released the other three troopers and gave them instructions as well. All Forced enhanced.
"We're on Arkanis, Alpha." She told him. "Near Hutt trade routes, near the Corellian Run. It should not be too difficult for you to get back to Coruscant or the front lines." She paused. "If you want to go back. The end is coming soon for the Jedi. Order 66 will be given within two or three months."
She looked at him. "I will give you your choice, Alpha – for our 'history' together." A corner of her lips quirked, in memory or pain, he couldn't tell. "Would you prefer to be released now and given Force commands or would you prefer to wait and I will release you with no commands for the medics will take you outside immediately before my departure?"
He hated her, wanted to kill her. He wanted to wrap his fingers around her slender, delicate neck and squeeze the life out of her. He knew she was touching his mind and he visualized it as vividly and in as much detail as he could.
"I see." Her voice was soft. "You prefer to wait." She didn't move away though. She sighed in memory. Hevy had once had his fingers on her neck, those self-same carotid arteries; deliberating whether to kill her or not. He had not tried.
She turned to leave then paused. She spoke without looking at Alpha. "If you would promise not to hinder me in any way, I would trust you. You could wait in the cockpit and view everything through the monitors or you could be taken planetside with the rest of the men."
That was not an offer he'd expect of her.
She felt him pause then agree. He could keep his hate, but he would keep his word as well. She remembered Hevy's words. We have only our names, our promise and our life to give. Alpha lived by that code as well; she could feel it imbedded in his every thought. She started the de-tanking process and called one of the medics to assist him.
They were still off-loading the wounded when she came up to the cockpit, to see him where he'd ordered the medic to take him. The anti-grav life the medic had used to transport him was by his side as he sat in the co-pilot's seat. He was wearing his dark bodysuit.
"What's that?" he asked, pointing to one of the containers that had been off-loaded. It set near some armor and that surprised him as well. She was giving them back their armor.
"Medical supplies; for the wounded, then for trade if you wish. It might make it easier to find a ship and pilot for transport. I will not leave a transmitter with you. I wish to be long gone before anyone arrives." She looked at him sadly. "I thought it a reasonable compromise."
He nodded. "What about our weapons?" They were clone troopers. They were naked without their weapons.
"They are in the last case I will unload. It will be locked so you will have no chance to fire on the ship, but you should be able to find the keycode sufficiently quick."
He leaned back, clumsily, and cursed. He'd known he wouldn't be able to walk or even feel his legs, but hadn't realized that the spine controlled so much of his movement from the waist as well. He didn't realize how much movement he'd done without thinking about it. He set himself back into the chair with his arms, his legs dangling, useless. She did not offer help. There'd never been kindness in her. He hadn't thought she would, but still, he appreciated that she let him manage by himself. There'd never been pity in her either.
His brain mocked him. If there was no compassion in her, then why had she trusted him? If there was no kindness, why was she leaving them on this planet rather than killing them? If there was no kindness why was she giving them armor, weapons, trade goods….?
"What do you know of Order 66?" he asked. Even the Jedi weren't really aware of that contingency. Or if they were aware of it, they ignored it.
She leaned back in the pilot's seat. "It is the first order into a far darker future. It is a contingency order to destroy the Jedi as traitors and you are flash-drilled to carry it out." She shook her head. "It is thought to be impossible to disobey, although some few clones will. The Empire will chase them down like the traitors they will become."
"You mean the GAR." He corrected.
She shook her head and Alpha saw something otherworldly in her gaze. "The Republic won't last even as long as the burning Jedi temple on Coruscant. The Republic is mostly gone already." She gave a snort of breath. "Then again, I begin to suspect I am a cynic."
He thought about that. He thought about his brothers and looked out the window to see medics and men moving the wounded beyond the blowback range of the transport. "What happens to the clones?"
"As a group they are absorbed into the Imperial army. They go to war. They die. The same they do now." She looked at him. "And if they survive, they die before their time. The Empire will be less kind to them than the Republic. This war has lasted three years and I am sick of it all. The Empire will bring war for twenty years." She leaned back in the pilot's seat and closed her eyes.
Alpha sucked in his breath. He didn't know anything besides war, but somewhere he had a memory of a dream of no-war; of clones not dying, even sleeping in stasis - peaceful.
Of course, he was useless for war now, anyway. They might send him to Kamino for reconditioned or they might allow him to retire, an option the troopers did not receive.
"Are you going back to Rattatak?" He'd been there. Imprisoned. Tortured. By her. Most of the scars on his body were hers. Rattatak was not a place he wished to ever visit again.
She shook her head. "Not Rattatak. There is nothing there for me." She paused. "There is nothing in me now, but emptiness. I need to …"
He saw her lips tremble, twist as though she were trying not to cry.
"I don't know." She finally said.
He believed her.
Alpha set aside his personality and reached into the empty place. He normally used that in battle. It was the place where action came from; where one could act in accordance without thinking. Most of the ARCs had been trained in that reaching and he'd heard it was like a Jedi touching the Force.
He set himself in that place in his mind and watched his truest actions.
He saw his upper body try to turn to Ventress, saw his hands grab the arms of the seat to keep from falling out. Heard himself curse. Heard his voice …
"Would you like a co-pilot?"
He saw her nod, softly, slowly.
Two months later he had those dangling, worthless appendages removed. They'd be a hinderance in the null of space. Different muscles took over stabilizing his core and he re-learned how to sit. The powerchair became his primary means of movement and he loathed it.
Ventress spent much of her time in meditation or in refining her martial arts. Alpha missed that; missed the beauty and perfection that had been his practice. He knew she saw his face when she practiced, the longing and want to join her in one of those beautiful katas. He worked his upper body, but there was nothing for the rest of him; there was very little 'rest of him'.
She didn't practice with her light sabers though. He wondered if coming with her had been the wrong action. Then, one day, he made a joke. Her lips had twitched in humor and he had laughed softly. "Asajj, you do have a sense of humor!"
She turned on him, her face anger and need and tears and something bitter and old and hurt. She was about to say something. He knew better than do anything more than observe. Her mouth opened. . .
A long keening burst forth. Emotion pent up, drained from her like an abscessed wound. She dropped to her knees, curled on the floor, her face tucked in her arms against the floor, sobs shaking her body.
Alpha moved himself next to her, using his strong arms to pull himself backwards, positioning himself next to her, his back to a console. He silently cursed that he didn't have much of a lap for her to lay upon, but he gave her what he had. She moved, put her arms around him and sobbed into his chest, her hips where his legs had once been.
He put his arms around her, just holding her. No soft murmurs or words of comfort because for some pain there were no words. Just holding her.
She'd done the same when he'd had the legs removed.
"They're marching on the temple." She said softly as her body shook. "The 501st. It's happening now." She was quiet for a moment, pushing away the immediancy of what was happening. Pushing away those deaths she had once longed for. Emotion demanded release and tears rolled from her eyes.
Alpha wished he could walk. He would pick her up and carry her to her cabin, hold her and wipe those tears away. His mind skittered over what might happen if he could have done that. He simply held her. Her tears soaked into the material of his shirt.
"The last man to call me Asajj was also a clone. He was my prisoner. He was my lover." She touched a scar on Alpha's neck with a shaking finger. She had put it there. New tears formed in her crystal-colored eyes and ran down her cheeks. "Even now I am not sure what information he gave the GAR during his imprisonment. In the end, he escaped the safety of my ship and blew up General Grievous' destroyer, Dooku was there and barely escaped. That's how Hevy died." Alpha nodded, acknowledging a brother's sacrifice. "I never mourned him. I was angry with him for deserting me." She thought for a minute and gave Alpha something he would understand. "He gave me his name, he gave me his promise that he loved me. I see now that when he gave his life it was not only for his brothers but also for me. Dooku's death then would have ... freed me in a way. He was not only my lover, he loved me."
Alpha quoted, "I have only my name, my promise and my life to give, but they are mine to give as I will." he rubbed her back softly. "It's not true, of course. Our lives were the Republics to take and only sometimes our own."
Asajj took a breath, deep and healing.
The only other person to call me Asajj was my first teacher, a Jedi called Ky. He found me on Rattatak. He intended me to go to the Jedi temple for training. That never happened. Where might I be if it had?"
"Dead." Alpha said, unemotionally.
"You are probably correct. Even now, I can feel absences. Windu, Skywalker, Unduli, Secara, Fisto… They are dead." Her eyes narrowed. "Yoda is alive, Kenobi." She sniffed and covered her face with her hands. When she moved them, her face was her own, under her control. She started to rise.
Alpha gritted his teeth at her being that much taller than him. He disliked looking up at her, regretted what had happened to him. He tended not to look up at her when they talked except when she was seated eye-level with him. He grabbed her wrist before she had stood and pulled her down so he could look into her face, into her eyes. She folded herself into a meditation posture. It forced room between them though their eyes were level with each other's. Alpha understood that, she thought her outburst was a weakness in front of her enemy. The posture was a way for her to mentally regroup. She looked at him, questioning with her ice-blue eye.
Alpha thought a moment to the start of the conversation. "Do you not want me to call you Asajj?"
"I don't know." She paused. "Ventress is not who I am anymore." She glanced down at her hands, relaxed by long habit in pose. "I think I would like that."
"Asajj," he said. "Go mourn Hevy. Go mourn your enemies. Go mourn Ky. Go mourn who you were, because that person is no longer."
Asajj meditated. She let the tears fall for all the sadness in the galaxy. Toward the end of her meditation she opened her eyes and was unsurprised to see Hevy seated across from her. He smiled and reached out to brush a tear from her cheek. He gave a soft shrug with one shoulder. Love didn't end just because I died. He looked away, behind him, then stood and bent over her. He kissed her on the cheek and she gasped, feeling the touch of his lips. It's not me though, Asajj. Hevy gestured his head toward the cockpit of the transport. It's Alpha. He's your future and it's a good future, Asajj. He gave her a cocky grin. Don't mess it up. Then he was gone.
Asajj stood from her meditation and moved back to the cockpit. Alpha turned his head back to her and there was the barest relaxation, the slightest upward curl to his lips as he saw her. She came and placed one hand on his shoulder. He tilted his face quizically up at her. She bent and kissed him, tentatively, on the lips.
He hesitated, then stroked her cheek with his fingers. Her future unfurled before her.
They lived happily ever after far away from the Core, the Empire and the rebellion.
I hope you've enjoyed the story. As always, reviews are intensely enjoyed.