I guess it wasn't as much of a one-shot as I thought. I have no idea where this is going and no idea when it may or may not be updated.

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Descent


The next day, when they pulled clean up duty at the temple, Chopper wished he had run with the Jedi and her Captain. He'd been the first into the room, seen the small bodies of children and stopped dead.

"Jester, you guard that outer door." He pointed back the way they'd come. "Tiff, this here door. No one comes in unless I give the OK. Pax, bring the body bags. You're with me." He'd have to pay back Pax somehow for this but Jester had spent the night until early dawn cleaning his gun before finally falling asleep with both blaster and rag still in his hand. Tiff wasn't in much better condition. They thought too much. Yeah, they'd both see the small pathetic bundles in those massive bags and they'd know. But they wouldn't see.

There was no blood, only seven small bodies on the floor. Chopper lay down his blaster and took the first bag and moved to the first body – it was a young boy, around five years.

"Aw, kid," said Chopper under his breath. "What did you do?" His fingers brushed back the child's hair and if it hadn't been for the separated halves of the child and Chopper's intimacy with death, he might have only been asleep. "Aw, kid," he repeated, "whatcha do?" knowing the child had done nothing, had only been Jedi. He lifted him and gently placed both pieces of the boy in the bag and sealed it. The next child was a Zeltros girl, no older, probably younger, with a light saber burn clear through her chest and she, too, was placed gently in a bag. Chopper brushed her hair away from her face before sealing the bag. He turned and saw Pax was being no less gentle with the small bodies in his big hands.

"This isn't right, Chopper." Was Pax's only comment then they both worked in the silence of the Jedi temple.

Yeah, he'd owe Pax big-time.

Chopper turned down the offered promotion. It didn't help, they promoted him anyway – gave him Jester, Tiff, Pax and three new men.

They sent him to places where you couldn't fight a clean war with tinnies. He'd heard there was no clanker army anymore. They sent him to places where the enemy was a civilian populace who fought because they had no choice. They told him to fire on unarmed protestors and he did. They all did.

Tiff went first, Chopper found his body, still warm, in the mess. There wasn't blood enough to clean up. That close, blaster fire cauterized, burned. But they had to replace the wall behind where he'd been sitting.

Pax was next, one day complaining about some minor regulation, the next day gone. He had never mentioned that day in the Jedi temple to Chopper, never referred to it in any way. His armor was on his bunk, the electronics in the helmet smashed and Chopper knew what atrocities Pax had done. It wasn't what you saw that destroyed you; it was what you did. Chopper gave as much of a head start as he could, doing Pax's shift as well as his own. He didn't report Pax missing for five days,

Chopper watched Jester, knowing he'd be next. His hands were always caressing his blaster, firm only when touching the metal. Otherwise, Jester's hands trembled so badly he chose to eat in their small room rather than in the mess hall. It was against regulations, but Chopper made no mention of it either to Jester or to his captain. In the middle of battle Chopper had seen Jester's reluctance to fire, seen the longing to leave. He had turned to Jester and told him simply, "Go." And Jester had handed Chopper his helmet and went. Jester he reported as KIA. Chopper had blasted the stormtrooper helmet to shreds in an emotional frenzy he didn't understand and couldn't control.

They sent him more men, some of the newer clones and Chopper cursed. And one day Chopper found the men in his squad interrogating a prisoner. She'd once been young and pretty. She was still young, but no longer pretty in her terror. They'd brutally raped her, not only with their bodies, but with their weapons and that had sickened him. Then they had invited him to join them; had laughingly invited him to do the same. He had looked at her.

"I don't terrorize prisoners" he had said and raised his blaster. He thought her last look was one of gratitude.

When he had looked into the mirror that night he had – strangely – looked like the same man he'd always been. He spent an hour looking into the mirror, searching for something different. He spent two hours on the bunk with his blaster in his hand, contemplating. He spent another hour cleaning his armor. He shaved, showered, and cleaned himself up as best he could in the war zone. Then he spent an indeterminable amount of time back in front of that mirror with the blaster at his head. He couldn't, and didn't know if that was strength or weakness.

He went and climbed into his rack, armor still on, blaster at his side. One of his men was on night duty. Five of his men were softly snoring, making the noises of living men asleep. He wasn't the same man he'd been yesterday, before he'd killed the prisoner. He wasn't the same man who had set Tiff's body in the morgue or taken Pax's duty for days to give him time. He wasn't the same man who had looked at Jester and told him to desert.

Who the hell was he?