According to Freud, the mind is composed of three entities, being the id (natural desire), the ego (mediator), and the superego (a guard against going against societal norms). The clones are heavily based in their superego, but they are chronologically vulnerable to indulge the id due to their child-like age (10). I wanted to take a look at that with Rex, since he interacted with Cut, a clone who had indulged his id.
Monotony. Rex both scoffed at, and respected the word. He could hardly call his job tedious, what with the different situations he had to handle in the past. Brushing with death by decapitation and immolation, all the while bringing back the glory, was no small feat. Even though Rex denied death his being on countless occasions, he could never afford for himself to fall into a comfort zone. Doing so would be his downfall.
It was only logical then, that despite the epic battles he had been in, that the Captain found himself feeling somewhat calmed while overseeing his men. It was a routine docking and supply reload, nothing major. Damaged parts needed to be either fixed or replaced before the next mission would commence. He smirked sourly at that. Rex would never dream of questioning his loyalty to the Republic, but he couldn't shake the complete helplessness and frustration he felt at seeing the bodies of his brothers that had been carried out of these same vessels a few days ago. Every broken machine told the tale of a clone who had fallen bravely in battle. A charred portion bore evidence to blaster fire. The broken glass panels, and subsequently fried gun turrets below gave credence to those who had kept to their respective posts, even in the middle of a cataclysm.
Not to say that the dead had been forgotten. Their legacy would be strongly upheld by those they had known. At times, however, that all seemed like hapless idealism to Rex. The war still continued as usual, the battle scars that had borne witness to such deaths scrubbed away. He tightly clenched his blaster, which was held to his side. The rattling of the weapon caused him to loosen his grip almost immediately. It was survivor's guilt, and the burden of his rank that caused him to think in this way. To Rex, these reasons, rational as they were, gave no excuse. He couldn't dwell on such matters.
Instead, he once again focused his attention on those who were still alive, their steps precise, marching in a seemingly endless staccato beat. In two days' time, the preparations would be complete, and they would shove off for their next mission. The current day, according to the shadows' elongation and slant, was beginning to come to a close. As engrossing as the sight of the sea of men, and the sound of the ships' engines and clanging steel was, the Captain was not left unaware of a certain young Padawan's approach from his right. "Commander Tano," he greeted, acknowledging her with a proper salute.
Ahsoka smiled, raising an eyebrow at the formal address. After coming to know each other as good friends, the address was rather silly, but it followed military protocol. "How's progress, Captain?" She asked, gesturing to the continuous flurry of activity below.
Rex wondered if Ahsoka could detect the smile behind his helmet. She was clearly feigning her zeal; there was nothing drier than a progress report. Clearly, General Skywalker had given her this task to get her out of his hair for some reason or other. Not that the clone was complaining, of course. Speaking with his friend broke up the day. He repeated her gesture, although his version of it was slower and broader, indicating the vast area's entirety. "It's coming along quite well. At this rate, we should be finished on schedule, if not a tad early."
That would have been that. As much as Rex enjoyed her company, he knew that she probably had other errands to run for her Master. He was pleasantly surprised when she folded her arms, and replied, "Well, I guess that's good, then," without making a move to leave. Her blue eyes flashed up at him mischievously as she asked, "I hope you don't mind me staying here with you?" He shook his head. The matter wasn't pressing, and besides, she held the higher rank.
Despite his contentment with her staying at his side for a little while, Rex couldn't help his misgivings. He found himself wondering if he enjoyed being around Ahsoka a little too much. On one hand, she was a strong comrade, and a good friend. He lacked the connection she had with Anakin to truly see her grow from a bright-eyed, impulsive youngling to a competent, mature warrior, but he saw more than enough in her courageous efforts in battle. She was stubborn to the point of where it was nearly self-destructive. On the other, he couldn't help but feel a sort of…connection to her. Rex didn't want to think much on it. At the same time, however, there were images and thoughts of Ahsoka that he couldn't quite banish. She would always be willing to fight, never once complaining for her own good. The only time she did question an order was to the effect that she believed it defied her morals. In short, she thirsted to prove herself. That was why it was all the more wonderful to see her after a victorious battle, smiling despite the wounds she had acquired.
"Glad to hear it," she replied, rolling out her shoulders with a sigh of content, "especially considering I haven't seen much of you for a while." A mission had recently taken the Captain to Mygeeto, and both parties were glad that he had returned safely, although Ahsoka was more so than Rex.
She asked him about a few details of the mission, and listened in earnest as he relayed the story of the fierce battle with the Separatists, who had been trying to break off the foothold the Republic had established there. The tale wasn't without a sense of meekness. Rex emphasized the pivotal parts his men played, rather than his own strength, and barely mentioned the fact that his head had nearly been blown off by heavy artillery. For him, it was a regular day on the job, and she had grown to understand this on both the terms of clone and Jedi. Neither could call themselves completely safe.
Ahsoka chuckled. "Another routine procedure?"
"If you could call it that," Rex's scowl was unable to be seen through his helmet, but the fact that he turned from her to review his troops again said enough. Admittedly, he was half-expecting her to become offended by his behavior, and his suspicions were confirmed when he saw her arching her eyebrow.
Ahsoka knew better than to ask him about how he felt. He wasn't one to talk about that sort of thing, and he knew that she wasn't, either. Yet, that didn't mean he didn't want her to see at least a little indication of emotion. Rex was a clone, but by no means a droid, even though those of his kind were often compared to them. He didn't let that judgment get to him very much; he had a job to do, and that was it. That was partly a lie. Rex would never say so, but while he stood back, and tallied the numbers of the dead, versus the fond memories he had of each individual man, that it did in fact hurt, if only a bit. Still, that pain was there. He had his honor and loyalty to his brothers to blame for that. At the same time, however, if he had his druthers, he would not choose to live without it.
She folded her arms. "Guess I hit a nerve. Sorry." Her tone was a little put-off, but her words were genuine. She hadn't intended to harm him in this way.
Rex shook his head. "It isn't anything worth being sorry over." Ahsoka turned to face him so quickly that it sent a small shower of rocks and dirt. Sensing her urgency, he mirrored the motion.
Staring into those eyes, he felt it again. It was as if he had walked into an electric field. Despite the considerable heat, the hairs on his back stood on end. Rex was biologically twenty, but at the chronological age of ten, it was sometimes difficult to find mental balance. That was why he was thankful for obeying orders first and foremost. He couldn't bear to become a deserter like Cut. Unfortunately, this situation didn't entail orders. It made his inner struggle that much more difficult. Ahsoka was clearly intent upon something, and even though Rex at times found himself put off by her stubbornness, as much as it drew him in, he was intrigued. Tano, like her Master, had her own peculiar way of thinking.
She was truly upset, her mouth turned down, her head lowered somewhat. In a way, she looked as if she was conceding to him. "I didn't mean to write them off."
Rex shook his head and replied in a reassuring voice, "When I said it didn't matter, I meant it. Ahsoka, I know all too well how much we mean to you. You don't have to prove anything to me." He had more than enough pieces of evidence to support that statement. Say, for example, her saving him from Grievous' blade.
That drew a small smile from her, but it faded. "Still, I should do something about this. The problem is, though, I don't think I can." She grimaced. They were between a rock and a hard place. If the clones' use was continued, they would simply be seen as more and more replaceable. If this sort of practice was halted, or at least slowed, the Jedi ranks would have a difficult time, and as a result, the conflict would drag on more so than it already was.
Rex waved his hand in a dismissive motion. "You don't need to do anything monumental."
Her fists clenched. "This is still unjust. You aren't replaceable. Neither was Echo, nor is Cody, nor is anyone else."
"Then remember us as individuals," the Captain offered. She glanced up. "It may not seem very much to you, but that is more than anything to all of us." As if to provide a contradiction to his words, the hive activity of his troopers continued below, the marching steps perfect, the planet's sun glinting off the helmets and guns.
Rex himself wasn't exactly pleased with his own words. It was said mainly for the good of Ahsoka's conscience. Truth to be told, he actually felt a sense of peace, although minute, at being thought of as himself, rather than an interchangeable part, but that was outweighed by his clone nature. He was a hypocrite, he couldn't deny it. He knew quite well he fit better as a member of the crowd, but that opportunity to be remembered outside of it was something he would rather not throw away. That was what made Ahsoka's sober nod all the more bittersweet.
Order 66…The extermination of the Jedi…No matter how Rex turned it over in his mind, he simply could not completely conform to it. These were the same people he had helped to fight for in the first place. By the time Rex's squad arrived, they were already on her. It made little to no sense. Rex valued experience over everything else, and he clearly remembered that the Jedi had fought bravely alongside them. They had risked their very lives to save an entire populace of innocent people. Clone and Jedi had been united on all fronts. How could that be denied now?
Ahsoka had never looked so fierce, and so downright terrifying. She was unleashing the apex of her betrayal, blind rage, and primal instinct to survive on the troopers that were trying to end her life. Her light saber was a deadly green blur that drove sharply through the armor of his brothers. Rex nearly cried out as one had his armor taken clean off, the white-sheathed appendage flying through the air trail before bouncing once, and skidding to a stop.
Orders were orders. He had to obey. Rex, however, couldn't shake off his conflicting memories. General Skywalker was heading the fulfillment of the order, and he had once been a Jedi himself. What of the relationships he had developed with the other Jedi? He was throwing them away? They had trusted him! Certainly, not all of them could have been engaged in a coup. It was too large of a scale to be successful. Too many conflicting variables and opinions between individual minds, rather the practical hive mentality of the clone troopers…And Ahsoka…His Padawan…He was going to have her slaughtered, as well? Where was his humanity?
The command was given, and Rex's unit darted forward. When Ahsoka's head swung up, he couldn't help but notice the weariness in her eyes. This was too long, and too taxing for her, both physically and emotionally. She couldn't possibly make it through this prolonged torture on her own. She hadn't seen him right away in her confusion, and as such, he had time to make his own judgments.
Each and every blow that struck true against his brothers drove that spike all the further inside of him. Ahsoka had agreed to remembering the clones as persons, rather than as faceless, bipedal weapons. Now that they were set on her in an unprovoked attack, they became the very of antithesis of the men she once knew. Rex strongly believed her to be innocent. There was no mistaking the quirk in her movements, and the almost nervous pacing of her slashes. She was clearly alarmed, and battling her conscience in order to survive. There was also no denying his memories. How could she possibly have been manipulated by an outside force, given that a coup even existed? She had developed the internal strength to think for herself. That had been shown during the time she had been infected by the virus. Ahsoka had continued to battle, even though she had drained her body by doing so. Rex would know. She had collapsed in his arms.
Raw emotion dragged him from side to side in an attempt to tear him asunder. What would it be, his loyalty to his brothers, or to the Jedi knights? His flesh and blood, or his former leaders? The Captain had fought hard to keep his men alive to the point of near insanity due to the futility of his efforts. The Jedi had utilized the clones as a fighting force, hurling them endlessly at droids and Separatist warriors. No, that wasn't completely true. Ahsoka cared enough about them to worry over the legacy of the clones, and she wasn't alone. Jedi Master Shaak Ti had thrown herself constantly into missions that could have been completed with the fire power of the clones. Jedi Knight Aayla Secura had formed a friendship with Bly, rather than just treating him like a machine. Without Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, the clone troopers would not even have existed in the first place.
Still, was saving this Padawan worth the cost of betrayal? She was but one insignificant life in comparison to the ranks of the clones. Rex would never forgive himself. At the same time, however, justice needed to be done. Order 66 was in full scale effect everywhere, but here, here he could make a difference. If he resisted against assisting her, he would be throwing away all that they had been through together. Her blind fear struck him. Ahsoka's family was gone from her, meanwhile his was alive and well. Here she would die far before her time, all alone. All of that training and effort would be for naught. He couldn't let that happen to her.
Rex's fist clenched as he silently begged for forgiveness, raising his blaster.
The shot burst forth, striking a clone square in the chest, and knocking him backward onto the hard ground below. Under his helmet, Rex gnashed his teeth. There was no going back now. His choice had been made. He had never thought himself to be capable of becoming a renegade, but now…It was his brothers who had noticed. It was easy, due to the fact that Ahsoka's light saber hadn't had that sort of reach from where she was standing, and her current, half-doubled over, pose made that prospect even less conceivable.
The incredulity was crippling. For a moment, silence filled Rex's com link. Time seemed to run in slow motion, stretching seconds to hours as blasters were lowered but a few inches, and helmets swung to sharp angles to look at him, but not without losing sight of the Padawan. Among this smothering cloud stood Ahsoka, her eyes stretched wide, and her mouth slightly open in shock. Whether or not she had seen his action wasn't important; she could see the reactions of her attackers just as easily. It was if he was standing trial, and awaiting the verdict, whether it be the acquittal, or the sentence. Rex was leaning toward the latter.
As time reverted to its original state, he caught her slight nod, and the narrowing of her eyes. She knew he was on her side. "Don't fail me, kid." Rex muttered, dropping to a crouch as the helmets swung all the way around to look at him.
His ears were bombarded with the chorus of the word "traitor." His eyes squinted against the ringing in his ears as he took aim. Rex sprung forward as shots from two blasters, one diagonally to the left, and the other diagonally to the right, went straight for him. Ahsoka let out a fierce shriek as he landed, spinning on his heel to fire directly in the visor of a trooper. It shattered as a result, and the being fell to the ground.
He promised himself he would give these men an honorable death; he was no coward, but at the same time, he was bombarded with memories. That was the man he had assisted in weapons training. A violent slash came from the Padawan, slicing off the head of a clone that had tried to charge her. It fell to the ground and rolled a few short circles before coming to a halt. Rex hadn't had time to watch its circulation; he was too busy fighting another who had vengefully launched himself onto him in attempt to wrestle his blaster free.
He drove his knee up between the trooper's legs, and crashed his helmet into the one directly before him. The trooper became disoriented, and fell backward as a result. Rex was grabbed viciously about the neck from behind, and reeled backwards, struggling. "Sorry, Captain." The grunt's tone lacked a sufficient amount of remorse for good reason as he pressed his blaster up against his chest plate. Rather than responding, Rex threw his weight completely back, catching the private off guard just enough for his grip to loosen. The captive brought his blaster up, and shot his captor's right arm. When the grip was completely released, Rex sprung forward, spinning to finish the job. That poor soul had been one of the men with him on Mygeeto.
Black and white swam around him in an endless blur, set against the backdrop of Ahsoka's war whoops. He felt like a one-man army, despite her presence. He couldn't see his ally's form; all that he saw were empty helmets, concealing faces that mirrored his very own. All the while, his com link continued to buzz and scream until he was forced to offline it. Wherever Rex turned, he fired a shot. When one fell, another took his place. He understood very well what it was like to be his friend, with the promise of help growing dimmer and dimmer. He was too stubborn to admit defeat, but it surrounded him. Physical exhaustion began to bog him down. He was breathing hard, and his shots were slightly sporadic. His emotions drained him as memories swam before his mind's eye. Every death knell sparked its own story of a life he had known.
Rex hadn't known how much time had passed in his personal inferno until he saw that flash of bronze, white, and green. It was as if he had been renewed, in a way. She provided his supportive shoulder, meanwhile he did not physically lean on her. She unabashedly maimed them, while smoke exploded from the concussion of his gunning them down. Ahsoka was mute, her skin glistening with sweat. She was far more tired than he was. He had selected her as his cause, and he would need to hold his head up for her.
Gradually, the sea receded. Rex wasn't quite sure when the last trooper had fallen, but he was definitely certain of the feeling of emptiness and loss that had resided in him when the area directly before his line of vision had become surprisingly blank, as compared to before. They lowered their weapons to their sides, Ahsoka's light saber providing a ghoulish glow before its light was retracted. They stared down at the scattered bodies, their broken forms littering the ground. What a waste.
Rex fell to one knee as the realization of what he had done hit him. She fell beside him. He raised his fist. For a moment, he wanted to strike her, to drive this succubus that had caused him to do such terrible things out of his sight. Instead, it hit the unclean ground beneath him. "Go. There'll be more coming soon," he advised in a hollow voice.
"I'm not leaving without you," she replied firmly.
"GO!" He snapped, waving his hand in a chopping motion at her.
Ahsoka backed up, her eyes narrow, and her teeth gritted for a moment. The next, her expression relaxed, and he saw the pure regret on it. The blood of the clones, his brothers, was on her hands, as it was on his. She remembered them as individuals, and therefore saw herself as their executioner. It would be criminal to leave her to bear the full brunt of this on her own. Rex held out his hand to her. After a moment's pause, she took it, and they stood together.
The cave's darkness was stifling. Ahsoka's light saber was not only her saving grace, but Rex's, as well. After what he had done, he didn't feel himself worthy of wearing his helmet, not that that meant he would abandon wearing it altogether; he would need it to survive. It sat on the floor beside him, capturing his image from the side in the glass of its visor. Rex's head was angled slightly down, his right arm propped up on an outcropping of the wall. He'd been in serious battles before, but never had he felt this amount of exhaustion.
At the same time, however, he knew it would be a long time before he would ever sleep again. How could he possibly do that when the guilt weighed down on him so? Ahsoka hugged herself more tightly from where she sat near him. "Rex," she whispered, "I'm so sorry." It had been the only source of conversation between the two since leaving the bodies of the clones behind.
Rex raised his head, startled at the brittleness of her voice. It resembled ice that was about to crack. Her face was completely drawn in an expression of grief, and the way she held her head so she was looking up at him displayed shame. It was only one moment later that he realized he had revealed his own face to her, one of utter remorse and loneliness. He felt embarrassed that she was seeing him in this way. He was a captain no more, but that didn't mean he didn't still have his pride. Rex shook his head. "It wasn't your fault."
Ahsoka's shoulders tensed. "Why was I attacked?" Her question was awfully forward; there was a fire in her words, but it was only partly conspicuous. He couldn't blame her for it.
It was nothing worth stalling over. She needed to know. She deserved to know, even if it would be extremely hard to tell her. She would just have to take it, and despite her voice earlier, Rex had faith in her. Meeting her gaze fully, he replied carefully, "The attack was a coordinated part of Order 66, issued by Chancellor Palpatine. Its objective was to eliminate all traitors to the Republic, ergo, the Jedi, who Palpatine claimed to be plotting to launch a coup."
Ahsoka's eyes stretched wide, and she visibly swallowed. Disbelief was replaced by anger as her eyes narrowed, and her lip curled up for a moment. In the end, however, even that didn't last. Her features relaxed, and she closed her eyes to compose herself. Rex felt overwhelming pity for her, but he knew not to express it. Even so disturbed like this, Ahsoka wouldn't stand to be treated in that way. A tear trailed out of her eye, which she vigorously wiped away. Clearing her throat and opening her eyes again, she murmured, "Please, tell me that not everyone's gone."
It killed him to do it, but he shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't know." He had destroyed his com link while they were searching for shelter.
She took a few shallow breaths to compose herself. "…It all makes sense now…" Her voice dropped in volume, but increased in a burning intensity. "Master…he…"
Rex knew he had to quell that part of her revenge. It was misguided, as much as he wished it not to be. "No, General Skywalker, I mean, Skywalker is still alive. He sides with Palpatine." Ahsoka's hands flew to her stomach, and she looked about to retch. Rex, against his better judgment, rose and went to her side. He then placed his hand on her shoulder, and knelt. "Steady," he commanded.
Ahsoka shook her head. "I'm all right!" She exclaimed in a strained voice, jerking away from him.
He wasn't going to have any of that. His hand clamped down more sharply this time. "Ahsoka, you have to calm down! I know this is difficult, and that is putting it extremely lightly, but you have to trust me!" The ferocity of his voice made her look up, fixing him with a nervous look for a moment before remembering herself. The animalistic fear slowly went away again, and her gaze was somewhat neutral, but only somewhat. Rex released his grip on her, but didn't move away from her.
She gave a bitter smile. "You refused to follow the order." He wanted to reply that he didn't need such a damning fact flung in his face, but instead, he nodded. "This isn't nearly enough, but thank you. I'd be dead if it wasn't for you." As correct as she was in her assessment, it didn't mean her words were without weight. She still held her sense of pride, after all.
"It would've been wrong to let you die. You were innocent," he replied shortly.
"This is wishful thinking, but is it possible for other Jedi to be saved like I was?" Her question was cautious, as it would be at the price of his brothers' lives.
Rex held his tongue for a moment. To be honest, he wasn't sure, and it didn't seem like a good response. This was the very last shred of hope she had to cling to before facing the dreadful reality of tomorrow. Hell, in a way, it was his, as well. He had already turned against the ranks of the clones, and that left the Jedi to him. How pathetic. "I don't know," he replied sincerely. Ahsoka took the blow with a blink and a sigh before hanging her head.
"For what it's worth," Rex comforted, "I believe in the Jedi. The order has weathered both time and war, and I don't think it can be so easily dissolved." She looked up at him, a small smile on her face. There was but a faint glimmer of hope, but it was still there.
Neither was the first to move. Rex's fingers, encased in armor, locked with the flesh of Ahsoka's. He wanted to feel it, but he knew that wouldn't happen. She couldn't have a relationship with him, yet here they were. Rex had never considered himself a totally solo entity until this day. His identity had been his brothers. Now that that was gone, he wished he didn't have that freedom. On his own, he was a murderer. At the same time, however, if he had chosen to kill Ahsoka, he would still have had her memory to haunt him. The overwhelming number of questions pressed down on Rex, all but extinguishing the weak light of the light saber. As he stared at his helmet, he doubted they would all be answered, and wondered if he would actually live to see the end of all of this, if there was one. Whenever he glanced at Ahsoka, however, the gloom still remained, but it was slightly less so. They each had nothing, and they were united in their poverty.
Beyond the green hue, the cavern yawned onward into endless darkness. Rex raised his ears to the echoes that it made, and he swore he could almost hear the steps of endless scores of his brothers mechanically marching into its vastness.