The Knightly Virtues: Truth

In which Commander Fox shows Senator Amidala the truth of the man behind the clone.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all sentients are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Preamble to the Rights of Sentience
Galactic Republic

Padme was properly shocked by the display of blatant indiscretion. So shocked, in fact, that she couldn't look away, even though common decency demanded that she should. She stood in the shadows formed along the edge of the Senate hallway and simple stared.

Senator Theena Dur of the United Anobian Coalition was pressed quite firmly between the wall behind her desk and a equally solid body. Distinctive crimson markings along the armored legs and arms of said solid body, identified the man holding the young Zabrak captive, as a member of the Coruscant Guard.

As a clone.

He held his helmet in one hand, down against his thigh; his other hand was tangled firmly in the short black hair that curved against the senator's cheeks. Her arms were wrapped around his neck and her slender fingers gripped the back of his head possessively. As their recklessly passionate embrace continued, one of the senator's hands flattened against his neck and slowly traced the curve of his close-shaven skull. She stroked his hair, just above his ears, and he growled deep in his throat.

Padme was too flummoxed by the scene unfolding before her, to do much more than gape in astonishment. Passion wasn't something she had ever seen in a clone before - most certainly not sexual passion.

There was no denying the passion in their embrace, however foreign a concept it seemed to Padme. The heat of their kiss seemed to fill the whole hallway and the young senator could feel her cheeks flushing a bright red - though, whether from embarrassment or some other equally uncomfortable emotion, she couldn't tell.

The Zabrak senator's face moved from behind her arduous assailant and a pair of heavy-lidded purple eyes spotted Padme from over the soldier's shoulder. Those eyes fluttered shut for just a second, as the clone moved his own head down to nuzzle Theena's neck.

Padme twitched, as if to turn and walk as quickly as she could back the way she came, but she was riveted by those violet eyes as they made contact with her again.

"We've got company, Commander," Theena whispered softly into the guard's ear; her eyes never left Padme's face.

"Wouldn't be the first time we've given someone a show," his voice was much rougher than any Padme ever heard before from a clone.

She recognized the tightly stressed inflection and what it meant. Anakin often got a similar growl to his words when they were alone together. It was the tone of a man intent on one thing and one thing alone - pleasure and release. Padme felt words stammering on her lips, but she was unable to express her embarrassed amazement. Instead, she licked her lips and tried desperately to figure out to extricate herself diplomatically from the awkward situation.

"It's not one of your soldiers," the Zabrak gasped and arched her head back - Padme couldn't see from what, though she could well imagine what was going on between their tightly-pressed bodies.

The clone growled again, but this time, it was a noise of distinctive frustration. With considerable effort, he let go of the writhing female in his arms and straightened his shoulders back. He looked over his shoulder and his dark eyes searched the shadows for a moment, before spotting Padme.

"Senator," he nodded and turned slightly away from his lover to face Padme.

If Padme didn't know the heady rush of arousal for herself, she would have missed the slight breathlessness in his voice, or the irregular rhythm of his chest plates as they rose and fell in breaths he was trying to subdue. But, she did know passion, only too well, and her knowledge suddenly disquieted her.

Desire had deepened the brown in his eyes to a rich umber and Padme's paralysis suddenly lifted as she reached a soft hand up to cover her gasp of surprise. Raw, carnal energy battled with his precise military bearing and created a complex figure. The clone had managed to shutter his emotions behind a mask of calculated indifference, but Padme could see his eyes burning intensely in the mellow light cast by the senator's desk lamp.

She had learned, long ago, as a queen, to read the truth held in another's eyes. The truth she saw reflected in those russet depths was both unexpected and unsettling.

Padme frantically searched her mind for the clone's name. "Commander", Senator Dur had called him. There were only three clones in the Coruscant Guard who held that title and Padme knew Thire and Stone by sight. Her eyes flickered down toward the kama that fell heavy against the back of his knees and her eyes widened slightly in recognition.

"Commander Fox!" she couldn't help but gasp in surprise, as she looked back up at his face.

She'd never seen Fox's face before, but his kama made him unmistakable. He was clean-shaven - like most clones - but his regulation high-and-tight was dyed a dark auburn that set him apart from both Stone and Thire. His face was unmarred by scars and would have been unremarkable against a sea of a thousand similar faces, but he had a darkly lined tattoo that curved along the side of his neck and up along the line of his strong jaw, stopping just beneath his left ear.

Padme realized that she was staring, when she noticed Fox's right eyebrow arch slightly upward in a mild expression of annoyance. She felt her cheeks flush a bright red again - especially since she felt she ought to be the one annoyed - and managed a stammer to break the awkward silence.

" are you doing here?"

"Security detail," Fox explained in the succinct efficiency for which he was known.

Padme struggled to wrap her mind around what he was saying.

Security detail?

Fox must have noticed the confusion flutter across her face, because he made a noise in his throat that sounded suspiciously like a snort.

"My company has Senate duty this week – I've been patrolling the hallways all night with First and Second Squad," he paused and something like a smile threatened to pull up the edges of his mouth, until he remembered his professional expectations and pressed his lips into a thin line. "I believe you've caught me indulging in a brief detour from my duties."

"I think a better question would be, what are you doing here so late at night, Senator Amidala?" Theena's voice was smooth, like the finest Endorian honey.

Her bewitching purple eyes appeared over Fox's shoulders as she casually slipped her hands around his waist and put her chin gently in the groove between the commander's neck and his armor. Padme was - yet again - momentarily flabbergasted by the casual display of familiarity. The commander merely shifted his arm slightly, to allow her chin more resting room against his black body-suit; he did nothing to dissuade the Zabrak's body from pressing against his back and that shocked Padme even more.

"I-I..." Padme stuttered to a stop and took a deep breath.

Pull yourself together, Padme. You were a queen once - act like it.

The Nabooian senator seemed to have regained some of her composure at that thought and she clasped her hands politely in front of her as she stepped resolutely out of the shadows. Emboldened by her move into the light, she matched the clone commander's stern gaze with one of her own.

"I came down here to extend a formal invitation, Senator Dur. It would be an honor if you would attend a dinner that Senator Organa and I are organizing for the end of this week's sessions," Padme's eyes flickered briefly toward Fox, before she focused again on the female behind him.

The former queen bowed slightly at the waist and lowered her eyes as was customary when showing respect. For a moment, both Fox and his lover remained impassive, but then the Zabrak let go of the clone commander and stepped away from him.

"I would be delighted," Theena mimicked Padme's formal bow, though hers was a lot less poised and polished.

"You're here in the Senate at this hour unaccompanied?" Fox broke through the senatorial formalities, as his dark eyes swept past Padme to consider the hallway in the direction she would have come from.

"Yes." Padme smoothed an invisible wrinkle in the front of her dark green skirt and tried not to blush like a truant school-girl. "Captain Typho is just down the hallway, at the foot of the stairs. I-I thought it might be best if I met Senator Dur woman-to-woman," Padme inclined her head gently toward the tall, broad-shouldered female Zabrak. "I didn't realize that I'd find -" she suddenly stopped and bit her tongue before she could say something distinctly undiplomatic.

She glanced at Fox and this time, she couldn't help the blush. His eyes narrowed and Padme lowered her gaze abruptly.

"I didn't expect to find you," she amended, her eyes firmly fixed on Fox's armored elbow.

She fiddled with her fingers, twisting them about each other, as she thought briefly of the other clones she'd come to know - Stone, Thire, Cody, Rex. Padme couldn't imagine ever catching any of them kissing a female in public. Their behaviors and personalities as soldiers were far too set for such "civilian silliness", as she'd once heard Thire call it.

"In the line of your duties, though, Commander, this isn't very professional," Padme lifted her eyes again and quietly rebuked him.

Something subtle changed in the clone's demeanor. Moments before, he was coolly professional, with a hint of a swagger and defiance. His casual sensuality disappeared almost immediately, though, as he drew his shoulder back in an almost imperceptible display of anger. Startled, Padme looked up to search his eyes; the look he shot her was one of unequivocal disdain, before he slammed his helmet back into place.

His words echoed the truth she'd seen in his eyes.

"Perhaps if more of my brothers behaved unprofessionally, Senator, the galaxy would see us for what we really are."

"Wait! I -" Padme started, but Fox didn't give her any time to explain herself.

He turned abruptly on his heel and lingered just long enough to reach up and brush the side of Theena's with the back of his hand face, before stalking off toward Captain Typho and the second-story Senate stairs beyond. Dismayed - and slightly puzzled by the abrupt change of attitude - Padme watched as the commander's stiffly straightened back disappeared around the corridor corner.

"I'm afraid you touched something that's been a bit of a sore spot for him lately," Theena's hand startled Padme.

She turned at the Zabrak's touch and was surprised to see compassion in her fellow senator's lightly tattooed face. Theena titled her head to the side and the two females considered each other for a long moment.

"I didn't mean to upset him," Padme blurted out the words, but she meant them as honestly as she could.

"I know," Theena patted the senator's shoulder gently. "And when he's cooled down, he'll know that, too. But, I'm afraid that under that military professionalism, he hides many strong passions."

Mention of Commander Fox's "passions" made Padme feel vaguely uncomfortable. She glanced at Theena and then down the hallway, in the direction of Fox's abrupt departure.

Well, I've made a mess of things, she thought begrudgingly.

It hadn't been her intention to patronize Fox or to anger him. But, seeing him pressed so ardently against a senator had thrown Padme slightly off-balance. It was hard to remain professional herself, when the image of their kiss kept replaying in the vivid forefront of her mind.

"Tell me, Senator Amidala," Theena's husky voice broke through Padme's thoughts.

"Yes?" brown eyes met purple in a solemnly earnest moment.

"If you had offended a man, what would you do to set things right?"

"I would -" Padme stopped, when the gentle truth of what Theena was saying hit her.

The senator bowed her head for a moment and closed her eyes.

Commander Fox might be a clone, but he's still a man. Just like any other. Just like Ani.

She lifted her head, after a moment, and met the Zabrak's calm, impartial gaze.

"I would apologize to him."

"Please, Commander, sit," Padme waved a neatly manicured hand toward one of the comfortable, curve-backed chairs in her spacious senatorial office.

Fox stood in front of her, his back as stiff as it had been when he'd stalked off down the Senate hallway the night before. His face was almost as impassive as hewn stone, but a slight tic at the corner of his jaw, just underneath his ear, belied his feelings. For just half a second, he hesitated, but then he sat down on the edge of one of the chairs Padme offered him. He sat just as stiffly as he had stood, and placed his helmet on his knees with almost excruciating precision.

Padme stifled a sigh and figured that under the circumstances, the fact that he sat down at all was a positive sign. She arranged herself gracefully on the chair across from him and then picked up a small, blue-and-white porcelain pot.

"Would you like some caf?"

"No thank you, ma'am. I don't touch the stuff."

"Oh," Padme blinked and stared in mild confusion at the pot in her hand. "I thought -" she immediately bit her tongue and nearly groaned in frustration.

There I go again.

This time, though, Fox seemed more inclined to bite back with his own brand of wry humor.

"Just because the boys on the front line practically need a direct IV of caf to think straight, doesn't mean that all of us have developed a taste for it," Fox didn't smile, but an eyebrow arched and gave Padme hope that maybe she hadn't completely destroyed her feeble attempts at an apology. "I prefer a shot of tihaar to get things started."

"Tihaar?" Padme frowned slightly as she placed the caf pot back down on the tiny table between their knees.

This time, it was her turn to arch an eyebrow, as she recalled Duchess Satine mentioning the same, once.

"You start your day with liquor?"

"Just a shot, to clear the head," his big shoulders rolled in a shrug. "Other than that, I drink water."

"Don't you think that taking shots of alcohol through your day is a little -"

Oh, blast! There I go again, Padme immediately clamped her mouth shut and suddenly wondered what it was about the red-headed clone that made her throw her skills of diplomacy out the window.

"Unprofessional?" Fox finished for her and Padme miserably met his eyes.

She was surprised to see a glint of humor reflected at her. His face remained impassive, however, his lips set in a thin line.

"If you're worried about the Commander of the Coruscant Guard being a closet alcoholic, allow me to set your mind at ease, Senator. It takes a lot more than a single shot of Mandalorian spirits in the morning, to get a clone drunk. Seems our progenitor had a high tolerance for such things."

Padme didn't know what to say to that - she'd never heard a clone mention Jango Fett, not even obliquely and certainly never in such casual passing. Thankfully, Fox didn't seem to expect her to say anything, since he continued talking, his tone smooth and deceptively even.

"As for 'unprofessional', I'll give you that. But, you'd be surprised, Senator, by how unprofessional I really am. For example, I like being thoroughly indecent at every possible opportunity, most particularly with Senator Dur -"

Padme tried, unsuccessfully, not to blush; her ears burned at the rather raunchy implications of Fox's bold words.

"I like to listen to loud music when I'm bored - which happens quite a lot, might I add. I like to think that my internal commentary on you senatorial types is witty, if scathing. And I like to be 'unprofessional' whenever and wherever I please."

Once again, Padme was rendered speechless. She didn't even know how to change the conversation back toward its original intention. Fox had smoothly taken over the discussion and turned it on its head; the young senator suddenly had a sneaking suspicion that this was something the clone commander had quite a lot of experience in.

In addition to making scathing commentary on the senators he was ordered to protect. And being "indecent" with a senator.

The two locked gazes for a long moment, before Padme decided that, since Fox was being so blunt, she'd be blunt in return. Being diplomatic didn't seem to hold her in much stead with the clone - no, with the man - so she decided abruptly that maybe a different tactic was in store.

"I'm sorry for what I said last night," she offered her apology the best way she knew how. "I shouldn't have spoken down to you, or assumed things I shouldn't."

"And what did you 'assume', Senator?" Fox asked quietly.

His back was still as straight as ever and he hadn't leaned back once against the comfortable chair. He still held his helmet with precise exactness and his face was still a mask of measured indifference. But, his eyes told Padme a different story - they told her the truth of the man in front of her.

In many ways, Fox had learned much from the galactic senators in his care. He had turned the conversation inside out, had forced her to be blunt, had taken command of a situation that she had thought to control. And now, he asked her quiet questions, as if she was the fool to be pitied.

Padme had a startling reacquaintence with humility, beneath his calmly calculated gaze.

"I assumed, Commander, that you weren't a man who had every natural right to kiss a beautiful female," she admitted after a moment of utter silence.

"Do you believe in the Rights of Sentience, Senator?" Fox's voice was almost gentle.

Padme felt like a child again - it had been some time since she'd been so subtly forced to see the galaxy from another point of view. It was almost enough to make her hang her head in shame. She was willing to give a Separatist the benefit of a doubt...she was willing to fight for justice and peace...but she had never once stopped to consider the truth of the lives her Republic had engineered for war.

"Yes," she replied, just as gently. "I believe in the Rights of Sentience."

Fox finally gave some physical indication of his emotions on the matter. He slowly closed his eyes and lifted his chin up slightly, as if beseeching the heavens for the realization of a truth that evaded them all.

"Could you quote me the Preamble?"

"Of course," Padme was puzzled by the request, but she licked her lips, thought for a minute, and then recited words she'd known since her earliest childhood. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all sentients are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

And then, Fox asked her a question that Padme knew would haunt her soul until her dying day -

"Am I not sentient?"

Commander Fox left shortly after that, but the impact of his words lingered with Padme. His question echoed through her mind, as if set on some sadistic replay -

"Am I not sentient?"

She made it through the day as if in a fog - her mind preoccupied with her morning's conversation. And now, when she passed armored clones in the Senate halls, she caught herself wondering about the faces hidden beneath their helmets.

"Am I not sentient?"

She began to feel as if they were all asking her that - every last clone, from Coruscant to Tattooine. Padme stood in her office and watched the sun set behind the glistening white towers of the Jedi Temple; she quietly came to terms with the truth of every clone's identity.

They're men. Just men.

She pressed her hands against the glass and mourned silently for them.

She'd heard the whispered rumors - they'd all been engineered in clinical labs, "grown" in glass vats. They were men who'd never been "born", in the purest sense of the word. Not a single one of them knew the gentle warmth and loving embrace of a mother.

They'd been raised surrounded by military efficiency. Had they ever known anything else? She thought of every clone she'd met - of even Fox's instinctual precision - and doubted that they'd ever been given even the glimmer of a chance at something ordinary. They'd been shaped and formed into the perfect army - duplicate soldiers, perfected right down to the number of hairs on their heads. They hadn't been trained to express their individuality, or to develop personalities, or to think beyond their next order.

And yet...they did.

"I like to listen to loud music when I'm bored - which happens quite a lot, might I add. I like to think that my internal commentary on you senatorial types is witty, if scathing. And I like to be 'unprofessional' whenever and wherever I please."

Padme was startled to discover that Fox had a personality as multi-faceted and quirky as any other man, as any other sentient throughout the galaxy. He wasn't all cold military professionalism, no more than she was a conniving, back-stabbing politician. He was a soldier and he executed his duties without any flaw that Padme could see. He was no different from her, really, in that. She was a senator, bound by her own judgments of what was professional and honorable. But, her duties didn't dictate the woman she was beneath them.

"... Under that military professionalism, he hides many strong passions."

Padme turned Theena's words over in her mind. She remembered the passionate embrace she'd witnessed underneath the amphitheater and the young senator found herself wondering what it would be like to be on the receiving end of a stoic man's passions.

Stoic, Anakin was not. Despite it - or, perhaps because of it - Padme loved him, but in the sanctuary of her office, she could wonder. There was something darkly alluring about a man who could reign his emotions in so tightly that they could appear non-existent to the rest of the world. There was something appealing in the thought that he showed the depth of such passions to one being and one being only - for a moment, Padme quietly envied Theena her good fortune.

A good fortune that Padme instinctively knew that the level-headed Zabrak treasured. She'd seen the way Theena had looked at Fox; she had seen the way the commander had touched Theena in return.

Fox was in love. He was a man in love. Padme caught herself smiling at her reflection in the darkening window.

Commander Fox was a man, as was every other clone. The galaxy now held responsibility for the lives of thousands of them - men without names, men without a home, men without families.

Men who were not droids. Men who were capable of emotions and complexities that could never be mimicked by a machine.

Padme pondered the Rights of Sentience and the three "unalienable rights" that they were supposed to uphold.


Fox longed for a life that currently danced just outside his reach. Padme realized, with a slowly breaking heart, that being stationed on Coruscant had to be inexpressibly difficult for him. He had to see couples, families, normalcy all around him, every day. She couldn't fault him for the few bits of pleasure he tried to snatch in the opportunities that came his way.

She couldn't fault him for falling in love with a vivacious, brazen female. In many ways, Theena represented that one thing Fox coveted most - a life of his own, to do as he pleased.


This was, perhaps, the gravest ill the Republic had unwittingly imposed upon its conveniently cloned soldiers. They were little better than slaves - living by the orders and whims of others, without their own say in what happened to their lives.

Padme wiped away a tear.

What have we done? she wondered.

They were brave men, to a fault. She'd met Captain Rex, had seen the way he followed young Ahsoka with a faith that was almost blind. She'd met Commander Cody - she'd heard the respect reflected in his voice when he spoke to Obi-Wan. And she often caught bits of the Republic anthem hummed from underneath anonymous helmets, as she walked the Senate halls.

They were proud to serve the Republic, to die for her. But what would the Republic give them in return? The war couldn't go on forever - what would happen to them, once the conflicts ceased?

Padme pressed her cheek against the window and leaned against its cool, smooth surface. Her eyes looked out, unseeing, over the glittering scape of Galactic City.

The Pursuit of Happiness.

Every sentient sought happiness, in whatever way appealed to them. Some found happiness in the misery of others. Some found happiness in giving of themselves. Some found happiness within Senate halls. Some found happiness behind a farmer's plow.

Padme now realized that the clones were no different. Fox had shown her that, by kissing his lover with a reckless disregard for where they were.

Fox pursued his own happiness, undaunted by the confines of his duty and his soldier's professionalism. And Padme had no doubt that he would continue to pursue his happiness across the galaxy, if need be, come war or no war. He didn't need the justification of others to take what was his by natural right.

The young senator suspected such was true for all clones. One way or another, they found ways to express themselves, to set themselves apart as individuals, to develop their personalities. And, all the while, their very existences, at the mercy of the GAR and the Republic at large, shouted for someone to take notice of the truth that was denied them -

Are we not sentient?

"Is it just me, or is the Guard a little...on edge today?" Padme handed a cup of Alderaan black tea to her good friend, Senator Organa.

Several months had passed since her conversation with Commander Fox. It seemed like yesterday to her, though, thanks to the unending maelstrom of activity that dictated day-to-day life within the Senate.

"You haven't heard?" Bail accepted the cup graciously, but arched an eyebrow in surprise.

"Obviously not," Padme put her hands on her stomach, as if that would hold in the secret of the new life she nestled within.

"Commander Fox has defected."

Bail's announcement had an unexpected affect on Padme. She gasped and immediately reached behind her to grab the arm of her chair and to steady herself as she collapsed into the seat.


"He deserted. Commander Thire discovered his disappearance this morning," Bail eyed Padme's pale face with no small amount of concern. "Are you all right, Padme?"

"I'm just..." her hands fluttered away from her stomach in an expression of mixed emotion. "Shocked, that's all."

"Oh, it gets better," Bail leaned his hip against her table and took a sip of his tea. "He was last seen in the company of Senator Theena Dur - who is now suspected as a Separatist sympathizer and possible spy."

Padme closed her eyes in quiet dismay.

Oh, Fox...

"That's going to make things difficult for the United Anobian Coalition, to say the least," she said out loud, trying not to belay the truth of her thoughts.

"Indeed," the Alderaan senator nodded thoughtfully and then added after a moment of thought. "What I don't understand though, is why. Fox was a good commander and loyal - I thought."

Padme suddenly realized that she had an insight into Commander Fox that had evaded everyone else within the Senate walls. Slowly, she exhaled, and her eyes traveled over toward the window.

"Tell me, Senator," she echoed words that had been spoken to her, not so long before. "Do you believe in the Rights of Sentience?"

"Of course," she didn't need to look at Bail, to recognize the mild indignation in his voice.

"Could you quote me the preamble?"

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all sentients are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

In the silence that followed, Padme could almost imagine Bail asking, "what's this all about?"

"Fox deserted because of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," Padme finally turned her head away from the window and met Bail's wise eyes. "The Republic engineered him and thousands of others like him, as if they were droids. We've treated them like droids - expecting them to fight our fights and die for our causes."

Bail chewed on his lip and didn't quite meet Padme's eyes. For a moment, she thought her esteemed colleague would make a political excuse for the rights so carelessly denied a whole army of men. Instead, he finally looked her in the eye and said the very words she'd been too weak to utter herself.

"Well...if the Republic won't honor its own Rights of Sentience... I suppose we'll just have to change that, then. Won't we, Senator?"

Padme's heart swelled - Fox's defiance would not go unrewarded.


There was hope for the future - Padme was sure of it, as she pressed her hands unconsciously against her stomach once more.

In defying his duties, Fox had shown her the truth of the man behind the clone. It was now time for her to do her duty and to share the truth of a simple question with the entire galaxy -

"Am I not sentient?"

A/N: I've been inspired by Queen and reulte, who have both created an excellent series of connected vignettes exploring the backgrounds of some of our favorite clones. If you haven't read "Said the Joker", "Haruu" or "What Any of It Is Worth", I definitely recommend all three of them! They've inspired me to try my own had a collection of semi-connected vignettes.

The vignettes you'll find in (Virtues) From A Certain Point of View are based on events explored in my own little fannon. If you haven't read "A Thousand Suns: Redemption" or it's sequel, "A Thousand Suns: Rebellion", I would definitely give them a try. All of the clones explored within these vignettes eventually play a part in ATS. *wink wink* *nudge nudge* VFACPOV gives me a chance to explore some of the back stories that won't make it in to my "Captains & Commanders series" (of which, "A Thousand Suns: Redemption/Rebellion" are the first two parts).

I decided to start with Fox, thanks to an amazing Christmas present I was given from an equally amazing artist (thank you, Elorrra87!). :) It was a picture of Padme glancing to the side, with a particularly poignant expression on her face. That really inspired me and several hours later, we have "Truth", as she has her assumptions challenged by a clone who had definitely started to find his voice.

Love it? Hate it? Like it? Lemme know...!