Shadow of Tears

Death, lies on her like an untimely frost...

"It will, Padme. You.. must.. believe..."


Everything was a blur. I don't know if it was a sentimental thing or if it was the fact that my body was already shutting itself down. All I knew was that one moment I was laying a wet cloth over the forehead one of my dying brothers, and the next I was holding the fallen form of my Commander. She landed roughly against my armor. I wondered grimly whether it would have felt any softer than the cold duracrete floor she would otherwise be lying on. At least it was warmer. For now.

I saw what may have been a flash of recognition in her eyes as I caught her. She may have even tried to smile. I'll never know, I thought to myself. Her eyes closed.

Everything had gone wrong. We were winning - the bombs had been disarmed, the mad scientist captured, and it was just a matter of cleaning up and going home. Another crazy Skywalker crusade behind us. It had been easy.

Too easy.

Some blasted service droid got a hold of one of the virus canisters. We tried to track it down, rechecking all the bombs in the armory for it. That droid snuck past all of us. Just one bomb.

One too many. The virus was loose. Desperately we tried to get to the safe rooms. The Commander had us go in first, and ordered us to shut the doors. At the last second she jumped through. But it wasn't enough.

The deadly blue haze filled the room. Entering our nostrils, our mouths, filling our bodies with the poison. I'd never seen morale drop so low, so fast. I was even losing my normal bravado. No matter how bad things ever got in battle, there was always the possibility, a forlorn hope, of making it out, of getting back home, of living to fight another day. There was none of that this time. If we were defeated, we would die. If we were victorious, we would die too.

The only question was how many innocents would die with us.

The mission plan changed in a second. I couldn't recall the details, anymore. It was all fuzzy. The poison, again. But I remembered the droids. We had to stop the droids. Stop them from breaking out of the vault. Breaking out of our tomb.

Droids were easy. We took 'em on all the time. But it was different when your body was being eaten from the inside out, by a madman's invention. Our Commander led the way, her green lightsaber cutting through the blue haze of death. "We're not dead yet!" she had told us, encouraging us to press on. She seemed strong, invincible. She was a Jedi.

But she wasn't immortal.

I remembered her orders, vaguely. Well, I couldn't remember all of them, anymore. My brain was shutting down, trying to keep its most vital functions alive for as long as possible. But I remembered her voice. It rang clear and strong. "For as long as we are able," I heard her say. Brave words. But she would die - we all would, and it would be so much more painful for her small body. Dissolved from within, eaten alive.

It wasn't fair. I had told the Senator that this was what we were born to do. I meant it. We weren't normal people. We were destined to fight and die for the Republic. For the citizens of the Republic. For normal people. That was our lot in life. It was hard, but it was fair.

This isn't fair. She was a Jedi. She wasn't normal either. But she should be. She was born to normal parents. She grew at a normal rate. She should have had a normal childhood, normal friends, far away from the death and horror that is war. A normal life. A life where she could do those things that normal people apparently did. Love, play, dream. Live.

Now, she would die. It wasn't fair. She was too good for this.

Too pure to die contaminated by a madman's biological horror.

Too kind to die from a poison born of malice.

Too brave to die lying in the arms of her broken Captain.

It isn't fair.

I glanced around the room. It looked like I was the last man conscious. The Senator was moving from one man to the other, laying cool hands on fevered brows, whispering words of comfort to deaf ears.

Moments ago my Commander was doing the same. Her brave smile, her kind touch. She was suffering, in pain, like all of us. She should have been resting, maybe doing her Jedi thing, to ease her own pain. Yet till the moment she fainted, collapsing into my arms, she encouraged, she comforted. She gave everything she could till the moment she fell.

I looked back at her face. I wished I could see her smile again. Her features were drawn, marred by the pain that would be the last thing she felt. She lay limply against my armor.

The armor that may well be her grave, because I am not letting her go.

Pain would be the last thing she felt.

Death would be the last thing she saw.

No, it wasn't. That fleeting glance, that spark of recognition. When she knew, she must have known, that her Captain had caught her.

My face would be the last thing she saw.

It still wasn't fair, that her last glimpse should be the scarred, dirty face of a dying clone. But it would have to be enough. I locked my eyes on her shut eyelids. It seemed I could still see the aqua blue orbs behind them. No, that was the poison.

I was slipping away. I couldn't last much longer. I only had one more wish. If I die here, I just want her face to be the last thing I see, too.

I looked around the room one more time. That stupid Gungan - a Representative! - was still bumbling around in his safety suit. Maybe the idiot can give us all a mass Gungan funeral.

I saw the Senator. I had thought that she would be the last of us to go, having been in another safety suit during most of the fighting. But her smaller body appeared to be making up the difference. She had fallen to her knees in front of one of my men. The hand holding her cooling cloth had fallen over his shoulder, and her forehead lay against his dirty chest armor. She was still conscious, barely.

I saw tears fall from her face, landing on my brother's armor, trickling down and leaving thin trails that glistened in the dim light.

She was crying. It's what normal people did when faced with tragedy, when things weren't fair.

I turned back to my Commander's drawn face.

If I were a normal person, this is when I would cry.

The End

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Nothing at all!

Author's Note: This story has been covered at least once from Ahsoka's POV, and twice from Padme's. I decided to see what Rex would have thought about it. It's not technically romance, as I don't think that was at least foremost on Rex's mind, although it would certainly build groundwork to that end.

This scene was one of the most sad, and touching, visuals I've seen. I always thought the situation was underplayed because we had to also watch a typical Anakin/Obi-Wan rescue attempt, which would have made a fine story, but weaved together, detracted from the power of the situation below ground, as well as making it overtly obvious that everything was going to be fine. I try to paint the picture as it would have been seen by those trapped in the lab, who had no way of knowing what Anakin and Kenobi were up to. Obviously, not very happy. :(