A/N - A quick one-shot; the first part of this refers to another one-shot: 'Night of Fate and Fire'. I'd suggest reading the first chapter. As always, read, enjoy and review.
Chopper opened his eyes to look up at the stars, crystal bright in the blackness of night and, oddly, remembered so long ago to the night of Order 66.
It wasn't a particularly bad memory; one of his better ones, in fact. He'd done something good in that messy night of destruction and confusion. He had handed his sabacc winnings, some credits, to Captain Rex.
Wounded as the captain had been, Chopper knew Rex had escaped. It seemed that a hateful fate and equally hateful new captain had consigned Chopper to body detail. Well, the captain had been hateful but perhaps fate had been kind. There wasn't a body – clone, Jedi or the occasional civilian casuality - that Chopper didn't see as he worked in the morgue, cataloging and double-checking identifications. Kix had been one, multiple blaster wounds at close range through his chest. Chopper knew as certainly as if he'd been there that Kix had stepped in front of his brothers urging them to think. Boomer, never one to think once an order was given, had shown up in two pieces, cleanly cut by a light saber. Fives wasn't at the morgue but neither did he show up at morning count. Or the next day or even the day after; so Chopper knew that Fives, also, had escaped. Chopper hoped the little commander had survived. It had been a bad wound but her body didn't show up in the morgue either.
Chopper'd been right then, of course. What he'd thought when he looked down at her small frame in the captain's arms; that she'd die good while he would die… was dying, bleeding out from shrapnel that had caught him in the gut, scrabbling in the mud. There were bodies of brothers and other clones around him, all dead, as well as the bodies of the rebels. Chopper took a small breath, painful but less painful than moments ago. He was under no delusion that he'd live, so instead of trying to reach for his med kit or his helmet, he simply gazed around.
It was a nice little planet, though the munitions of both sides had moiled the ground into choppy mud; killing all the plant life. Unlike him, it would come back in the spring. He liked that idea - that something survived - and smiled softly. The sky had been a bright blue during battle; after he been blasted too much to continue moving, the sky had gone from a sultry dark violet to a crisp black while he had watched and he had whispered a soft 'thanks' to whoever was in charge of that. There was a soft, cool breeze caressing his torn cheek and a lovely, ripe-fruit scent. He thanked that as well.
Chopper thought he saw movement, thought he heard something. A vague smile came to his lips at his final thought. Maybe it's the little commander.
"Don't bother with him, Kiwa. He's one of them." Alyra moved cautiously among the bodies. There wasn't much time. The nightspecters and scavengers would come soon, drawn by the noise of battle and the scent of blood to steal the meaty souls and bodies of the rebels and the poor, thin gruel that passed for a clone's soul.
Kiwa looked down into the clone's eyes even as the light of awareness flickered and dimmed. One was a lovely nut brown and the other the yellow-green of a newborn leaf bud. She thought he had tried to smile, his face relaxed as she had bent nearsightedly to peer at him. Vision was not a strong attribute of her people. Touch was, but once she touched him the choice was irrevocable.
His breath stuttered against her cheek then only the night's breeze. He had scars on his face and head, but his expression was… thoughtful, kind, even serene… as he began relaxing into death. It wasn't his real face, of course, merely the fleshy shell that encased him but when she looked she saw it matched his real face; thoughtful and kind, though his real face was less serene. Still, there was a strength in his features that she liked.
"He is one of the dead, Alyra, and it is he I will choose."
"In Nhebryc's name, why? The sad, thin soul of a clone? Kiwa, you will sicken and die when winter comes." A pleading note had entered Alyra's voice. "You will sleep as we all sleep but he will not wake you."
"I think he will, Alyra. I think he will." Kiwa touched his armor. That didn't matter, it would dissolve in time.
Alyra turned to her with distress in her eyes. "You'll not change your mind?" Her voice was soft but she knew she couldn't change Kiwa's decision. She had chosen a Zeltron, a strong, beautiful man who had died hard, fighting death with every heartbeat.
Together they moved the two bodies to the site they'd chosen, a small hill that looked over the battlefield but shielded from the harsh winds by the larger, older trees. The battlefield would, in time, cease to exist, but the river would provide water and the small, friendly blades of grass would return soon. Kiwa and Alyra laid the bodies back to back, as though the two men might have been friends; in time they would be inseparable.
Alyra stood and turned her head towards some noise in the night. "There's still time, Kiwa, to change your mind. We don't have to worry about the nightspecters yet." She gestured to the field where a thousand other choices waited.
Kiwa only smiled as she lay next to the dead man she'd chosen. With a sigh, Alyra curled into the broken body of her choice.
Kiwa's fingers reached up to touch his still-warm cheek.
Chopper woke. He was blind and, for a moment, he considered panicking as his best option, then he was quiet. He felt different.
Whole. Refreshed. Alive.
More alive than he'd ever felt, but not very human.
Not human at all.
He understood without knowing that his skin was thick and ridged; the home for a host of animal life. He could feel the sun provide his energy, a nearby river provided much needed hydration, the smallest movement at his feet was the living soil fed by the nutrients in what he'd been before.
Chopper knew it was spring. That meant something; something he had to do. He smiled as he remembered.
He turned and touched without skin the formless form that was an entity of itself and a part of him and also the greater part of everything around him.
Kiwa, wake up. It's spring. Everything is reborn.
Although I've had the first part of this forever; the second part written in less than an hour inspired by Bunbun Fett's plot bunniez.
Kiwa and Alyra are dryads...