Author's notes: Shab. I still do not own Star Wars Clone Wars.
Anyway, scrawled this down cos' it was hammering to be written. Make of it what you will, it pretty much wrote itself. I needed a Trooper name, used my own pen name whilst I was writing it, and well, it looks like it kinda stuck. Shameful I know lol.
CHILDREN OF THE HUD
The Jedi have returned to the Lurman settlement on the distant planet of Maridun. Masters Yoda, Mace Windu and Aayla Secura have travelled to this world to secure the friendship of Tee Watt Kaa the Lurman leader and to understand these people and hopefully gain their trust in the Republic and its cause.
Tee Watt Kaa lifted the flap to the hut and squinted outside at the Clones who were assembled there in various states of relaxing or setting about tasks.
"Commander Bly if you would join us please? And you too please" he said pleasantly and gestured towards Commander Bly and one of the Transport pilots who was relaxing on an old storage box . The Clone pilot immediately looked towards Commander Bly for conformation. Bly nodded at him and accompanied him into the hut.
"Yes good" said Tee Watt Kaa "both of you is good". He smiled happily as he waved them both in.
The Jedi Generals were stood around a small fire that burned in the centre of the hut. The tension in the room was hard to miss, Bly had heard raised voices earlier and he looked quizzically at General Secura for a hint of why his presence and that of the pilot was now required. She instantly looked away from him with a look of apprehension on her face, and Bly suddenly wished he had kept his helmet on like the pilot.
"What is your name trooper?" asked Master Windu addressing the pilot.
"Spiff sir" said the pilot whilst pulling off a crisp salute. He made a mental note to write his nickname of the front of his helmet to avoid ever being asked again.
"You are new to your squadron?" said Windu folding his arms. Bly felt the trooper's uneasiness at being in such close quarters with his leaders.
"Spiff is a shiny sir, just been with us a few weeks. Good pilot though, shows promise."
Windu nodded at Bly and then turned to regard Tee Watt Kaa.
"A simple question is all I ask" said Tee Watt Kaa addressing the pilot "I need you to say the truth, feel no shame in your words". Spiff nodded dutifully, though he felt sure all the Jedi in the room could sense his nervousness.
"Tell me" said Tee trying to choose his words with obvious care "What you are?"
"I'm a clone pilot sir"
"No, no, that is not what I mean. What are you? You fight in a war that has raged since long before you existed. Why are you here fighting for the Republic? As a clone, what are you?
Spiff tilted his head and looked away in a common mannerism amongst the clones. Even behind his helmet he did not want to look the Jedi in the face, he kept his voice as steady as he could and tried to betray no emotion.
"We are tools, product, weapons" He said slowly. "We exist only to fight and die. There was no thought that went beyond that with us. I am a slave."
There was an intake of breath from one of the Jedi but Spiff could not tell which one. He saw Master Windu about to speak but Tee Watt Kaa held up a hand.
"Please let him speak" intoned the little Lurman. He smiled again at Spiff. "Please continue"
"I know and understand that I am a slave" said Spiff cautiously. "My brothers and I get no money for the sacrifices we make, we have no civilian rights in the cities we protect and we cannot leave, we face court-martial and possible 'reconditioning' if we do. I accept this and I stay and fight because I do not know what else to do. What else is there for me, for any of us out there? This is what I am. What we were made to be."
"I see" said Tee Watt Kaa nodding.
Spiff saw the hard edged expression on Windu's face and looked anxiously at the other Jedi; they seemed more sympathetic to him. Eventually General Secura smiled pleasantly at him. "You may leave us now, thank you for your time." Her voice carried no trace of annoyance and Spiff nodded respectfully. He could feel Commander Bly's eyes on him as he left.
"Do you have dreams Commander Bly?" asked Tee as soon as Spiff had left.
Bly was momentarily caught off guard by the sudden question but he followed his gut and made a point of not looking at General Secura. He was not entirely sure why but he felt it was a good decision. He could feel her eyes intently on him and for a brief moment he thought he heard her voice in his head with reassuring words of comfort.
"Dreams?" he said puzzled "You mean like nightmares?"
"No, not those sort of dreams, though I am sure you have more than you fair share of nightmares Commander." Tee's glance at the Jedi was unmistakable. "I am talking about ambitions Commander, dreams of another way of life perhaps?"
"Er, well, yes. I do have thoughts about it sometimes." Said Bly in earnest.
"If you would be so bold as to share these thoughts with us Commander" said Yoda, "We would be very grateful. The Lurmen wish to fully understand the relationship between the Republic and its army. We understand that this is an unusual request and we have no intention of forcing you to tell us if you do not wish to hmm?" Yoda's face was open and kind.
Bly liked General Yoda and trusted him, but still did not feel he had any choice in this matter. He hoped his doubt wasn't written all over his face like he felt it was. Again he felt another presence within him, reassuring him. He risked a glance over at General Secura and she looked away almost immediately.
"It will go no further than this room Commander." Said Yoda looking from Bly and then to Aayla. A few moments passed.
"Please Commander Bly" Aayla said compassionately, her eyes now locked with Yoda's.
Bly suspected that there was a secret conversation going on between the two.
He fidgeted on the spot and gave General Sucura one last imploring look before turning his exasperated face back to Master Yoda. "I'm not sure I know how to say it General, the words …" his voice trailed off. Aayla smiled gently at him as Yoda acknowledged his discomfort.
"Please relax Commander, choose themselves the words will" replied Yoda softly.
"It is just a dream General, a foolish one on my part at that" stammered Bly.
Tee regarded him "Dreams are goals that we must aim for, everyone must have dreams yes?" He nodded encouragingly.
"I did not have a child hood" continued Bly in a restrained voice. "Not much of one anyway. I was born in a jar with no parents to my name. When I think of bringing a new life into the world, of raising it and teaching it, sharing everything with it. Well, it seems like the most beautiful thing." He felt eyes boring into him and he bowed his head slightly before ploughing on. "I dream that one day a female might see me as something more than just another clone, fall in love with me, and well, see a future with me."
Tee regarded him curiously but with obvious pity. "You speak of starting a family Commander?"
Bly blushed, he had been keeping his gaze on the floor up until now but he glanced up briefly into the eyes of General Secura, her expression confused him.
"It will never happen" said Bly despondently staring back at the floor again." What female could see anything special in me when there are all my brothers with the same face, and the same voice? Who would possibly wish to take the time to look any further than that?"
The room was silent save for the sounds from the fire and the distant noise of the Lurmen children playing outside.
"Dismissed Commander" said Master Windu eventually. Bly saluted noticing his own General's sorrowful smile at him. It made him feel foolish. He was glad when he turned and left, feeling his cheeks burning red. "Shab" He thought to himself. "What in the Force was that all about! He put his helmet on when he was outside, grateful of the protection he felt it gave him. Behind the HUD everything seemed so much simpler.
"Children in the bodies of men" said Tee Watt Kaa in a raised voice after Bly had made his exit.
"They are far from children" replied Windu with a hint of disdain
"Ah, their actions and accomplishments say one thing, but the pain I see in their eyes says another. Children in the bodies of men, you have forced them to grow beyond their souls but their eyes do not lie. I see what I see; you see what you wish too." The Lurmen leader looked at the Jedi in the room accusingly. Windu snorted in response and Tee Watt Kaa frowned at him. "It is undeniably clear how the Clones see themselves." He said.
"Please excuse me" said Aayla Secura quietly. She left the hut without looking back. Yoda watched her leave intently.
"Our losses have been great" Mace Windu paused for just a moment "but necessary"
"Your losses?" exclaimed Tee "Tell me Master Windu, how many more Clones have to die before you see the crime? How many of these children in armour have to give up their lives before you notice the blood on your hands?"
"It is what they were created for!" snapped Windu, his control slipping momentarily.
Yoda had been stood silent all this time, now he held up a hand to calm his fellow Jedi
"That does not give us the right to send them to their deaths" he said in a hushed voice.
Windu looked down for just the briefest of moments,
"I understand that Master Yoda but…"
Tee interrupted him, his eyes now fixed on Yoda.
"You speak of peace, and of fighting for freedom, but at what cost? You have enslaved others to see this through for you. Tell me Master Yoda, are your people grateful? Do they even care about those that are falling in their name?
"We show compassion" Windu's voice was harsh and abrupt.
Tee didn't look at him, his attention still fixed on Yoda.
"There is a difference between showing compassion, and feeling it in ones heart is there not?" he replied evenly.
Windu narrowed his eyes "We do what we must" his voice was uncharacteristically sad.
There was a silence filled only with the crackle from the fire. Yoda met Tee Watt Kaa's gaze but for the first time in many years his conviction visible faltered.
Tee's voice was soft "The blood of these clones flows, but alas the compassion for their sacrifice does not I feel. Was this war against evil not already lost when you agreed to use the Clones as your warriors, as your shields? Is using other sentient living beings in such a manner not a trait of this Darkside you fear so much? "
The silence hung in the room filling the darkest shadows.
"Perhaps the Darkside has already played its trump card?" said Tee with a hint of foreboding in his voice.
Yoda's own voice was sombre as he turned away from the others. The fire lit his face briefly before he bowed his head. His voice was soft but broken
"Betrayed their trust in us perhaps we have …"