Sometimes characters get demanding, to the tune of, "I don't care how many other projects you have, you silly girl, I want my story told. Now." That's what happened, here. My OC clone Stonewall was very insistent that I jot down his perspective of the fic Old Wounds...then this fell out of my head.
Speaking of OW, it's been updated to accommodate both of the timelines that I've created; I've also cleaned it up and made it more "read-able." I highly recommend taking a peek: my goal is to have this fic and OW flow together seamlessly, so I'd appreciate feedback on whether or not I pulled that off.
Many thanks to sachariah for being my second pair of eyes! It helps, it really does. :)
Shocking revelation: I don't own Star Wars! Wish I did...I do, however, own Kalinda, Stonewall, and any other OCs who meander through. Also I make no money off of the writing/posting of this.
Please read and enjoy! Reviews are always welcome. :D
Note: This story takes place approximately one year into the Clone Wars.
Chapter One: Meeting
Because, there was nothing of even peripheral interest on the planet Basrah, Lieutenant Stonewall was cleaning his DC-15A blaster – again.
Moving of their own accord, his hands had disassembled the weapon – affectionately known as a "deece" – and set the components aside so that he could run a cleaning cloth over the various pieces to ensure that each one was free of dirt, grime, and carbon scouring; it was important, he knew, to keep the weapon in perfect working order, but the action, repetitive as it was, also gave him something to do.
Despite the presence of several other clones in his immediate area, there wasn't much in the way of conversation around him, so he was alone with his thoughts.
It wasn't a bad way to be, not really. Maybe a little boring at times, but he didn't mind thinking over battle strategies or mulling over contingency plans, should things take a turn for the unexpected. Preparation was a key element of victory, after all, and it wasn't like he had much else to occupy his mind while he examined every nook and cranny of his blaster and scrubbed it over with the rag.
Satisfied that the deece was clean enough to eat off of, should he be so inclined, Stonewall began to reattach the components, listening for the tell-tale "click" of each piece that would indicate he'd done so properly.
Actually, this pattern was pretty much all that he'd done these past few days: disassemble, clean, reassemble, repeat. Naturally, there were supplies to keep organize, watch rotations to schedule and the occasional scouting party that would creep to the Seppie structure to get a look at the area – again – but those things didn't take too much time overall, and when the work was divided among an entire company, it left little opportunity for anything beyond the routine.
Stonewall raised his head and watched as Commander Cody approached him; in the distance, he could see General Kenobi heading for his tent, so Stonewall figured that he was about to receive a new set of orders. Usually, that was the pattern: the Jedi Council would speak to the general; the general would speak to Cody; Cody would relay the pertinent information to his men.
That wasn't a bad thing, either. Stonewall was well aware of the mechanics of this war. It had always been so, and like most of his brothers, he was willing – no, eager – to do what was expected of him. Not asked, expected. But that was fine; that was his job, his duty, his life, and he was satisfied. Granted, he didn't have anything else to compare it to, but he figured that it wasn't a bad life, all things considered.
However, duty aside, the time on Basrah had been a little too quiet for his liking, and he thought that he'd welcome a change of pace, and if it was part of his job...well.
After ensuring that his weapon was still unloaded and that the safety was on, he set it carefully against a nearby crate and got to his feet in a single, smooth motion, saluting his CO as he did so.
Cody waved the motion away. "Got a job for you, Lieutenant."
"Of course, sir." Hands folded behind his back, feet spread shoulder-width apart, Stonewall's body slid into parade-rest automatically.
"We're getting some additional Jedi support," Cody said with a nod in the direction of General Kenobi's tent. "The situation with the Seppie facility has finally gotten sticky enough, and the Council decided to grant the general's request for another Jedi to assist us out here."
It was good news, to say the very least. Stonewall kept his expression neutral, but within he was inordinately pleased at the prospect. They'd been on the planet of Basrah for weeks and weeks, making almost no headway with their mission, and he could see that his men were starting to grow weary and anxious – neither of which made for effective soldiers. "Good to hear, Commander."
Cody nodded in agreement, though there was a trace of misgiving on his face; Stonewall wondered at it, but decided that it wasn't any of his business. "With any luck, we'll figure out this situation with that grift substance and be on our merry way," Cody added. "I'd like you to escort the new General to our base...probably around 0800 tomorrow. She's arriving on a civvie vessel, and the pilot's likely not going to want to land here, so you'll need to take a transport."
"She?" Stonewall couldn't help his surprise. He'd been serving since Geonosis, and had yet to encounter a female Jedi, though he knew they were in abundance. He frowned inwardly; he'd heard of men in other units paying a bit too much attention to any females that they encountered – it was to be expected on some level, he supposed – but he'd prefer that it not happen under his watch.
Inattention was a dangerous habit for a soldier, and distraction could kill just as swiftly as any blaster-bolt.
A wry smile creased Cody's face, causing the jagged-crescent scar above his left eye to shift. "That was pretty much my reaction, too. Guess we're not used to anything but males. Yes, this Jedi is a female: General Kalinda Halcyon. Beyond that, you know as much as I do."
General Kalinda Halcyon. Stonewall absorbed the name and nodded. He'd probably ask Beacon to fly him to meet her; the fellow was steady and serious, both excellent traits in a pilot. "0800. Right, sir. I'll be there."
Cody nodded absently, then raised his hand to his face, squinting a little as he surveyed the camp; Stonewall followed his gaze: the men of the 212th were quiet, for the most part, but he could sense an underlying current of tension that ran between all of them. Too long they'd been stationed here, too long had they been forced to wait and watch, with the threat of attack hanging over their heads every minute of every day, and it was starting to wear on them. In the past two days, Stonewall had broken up three fights – unheard of, for the most part, especially among a close-knit group like the 212th.
"It's been rough, hasn't it?" The commander's voice was quiet as he echoed Stonewall's thoughts. "Even with no fighting, or maybe because of it. We weren't made to sit around and wait, I suppose."
An inhale brought Stonewall the faint scent of electricity, and he wondered if a storm was coming. Atmospheric ion storms were prevalent out here, the one point of interest on the otherwise dull planet...there had been a few late-night watches where he'd stared up in awe as the entire sky was fractured with sparking, purple light. "Perhaps the new general will be able to help, and get us out of here."
Cody didn't look convinced. However, in the next moment he seemed to return to his usual, brusque manner, and gave the lieutenant another nod in confirmation of his words, then turned to approach a nearby group of clones, leaving Stonewall to go about his business.
At precisely 0800 the following morning, Stonewall found himself aboard one of the smaller shuttles, which had managed to dock with the transport that had brought the new Jedi. After ordering Beacon to wait, he stepped aboard the dingy little ship and glanced around the hold, the location where the airlock had opened. It was wide and empty, save for a few stacks of crates and boxes, and he frowned behind his bucket. "General Halcyon?"
"Hello there," came a distinctly feminine voice from a nearby corridor. Stonewall turned and watched as a slender, dark-haired woman slipped out of the interior of the ship and made her way over to him. She was about a head shorter than a clone and dressed in the manner of most Jedi: sand-colored tunic and trousers; tall, brown boots and long cloak that swayed as she limped towards him.
That gave him pause. She limped? He'd never encountered a Jedi who limped. Stars and galaxies, he'd never even heard of one with a limp. Perhaps she'd been injured in a recent battle?
Thankful that his bucket concealed what was surely a perplexed expression, Stonewall straightened his spine and gave her a crisp salute across the cargo hold. "General Halcyon. Your transport is ready when you are, sir."
Even though Stonewall had worked with a few female GAR personnel in the past, for some reason he couldn't place, it felt...odd to call this particular female, "sir;" but protocol was protocol. Even so, he found himself wincing beneath his bucket as she gave a slight frown at the term, but said nothing.
There was a canvas bag around her shoulder that bumped ungracefully into her hip as she moved towards him, and he had a sudden urge to relieve her of the burden. She came to a stop before him and looked up, as if she was trying to meet his gaze behind the bucket. Her eyes were large, dark, and something about them caught on the edges of his mind in a way that was wholly unfamiliar.
"Thank you," she said with a smile, sticking out her hand as she did so. "What's your name?"
For a moment he simply looked at her hand, then back at her face; quite frankly, he was flummoxed. General Kenobi was a genial man, but...distant. He'd never offered to shake any clone's hand, that Stonewall had seen, anyway. It was so with every Jedi he'd met – not that there had been many – but he'd worked with a few, and they were all that way: compassionate, but separate; polite, but distant.
In the back of his mind he knew Jedi were mortal – he'd seen them dirt-stained, fallen and bleeding – but despite that fact they still remained a world apart, inhabiting a whole other plane of existence, one that he would never – could never – understand.
But this General Halcyon was watching him expectantly, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to greet a clone in such a casual, friendly manner. As if they'd just met on the street, like in a holo-film.
As he extended his gloved hand to return the gesture of greeting, he looked into her eyes and confirmed that they were dark-brown, but he also thought they looked...kind. Now that was certainly an odd thing to think about a Jedi, wasn't it? Additionally, he could see wisps of dark hair that had come undone from the long plait that she wore down her back; one strand of hair had fallen loose and was brushing the curve of her cheek, and had the strangest urge to smooth it back.
Just before their hands parted he noted that her grip was stronger than he'd expected, even for her being a Jedi.
"I'm sorry," she said, tilting her head to the side, brows knitting. "Did I say something wrong?"
His name...of course. She'd asked his name, and rather than answer, he'd just gawked at her like a shiny. However, before he could reply he heard Beacon's voice in his ear. "Lieutenant, we're getting word from base. Scanners are picking up another storm, and they want us to return ASAP."
"Right," he said over the closed channel, inwardly cursing his inattention. Get a hold of yourself, soldier! You've seen women before – don't act like you're some rookie fresh out of the vat. As if he could prove it, he straightened his spine again and gave her another salute. "The transport is this way, General," he said, indicating the hatch behind him.
"Great," the Jedi replied, giving him an odd look as they began to walk in tandem. "Thanks...?"
"CC-3077," he said with a nod. Her pace was slower than his, and it wasn't just because her legs were shorter, so he automatically altered his stride to match hers. "May I take your bag, sir?"
Her brows knitted and she shook her head; he watched the braid sway with the movement. "Thanks, but I'm okay."
Later, he would try and recall just why he chose to press the matter, though he was never quite able to figure it out. Because she was a Jedi Knight, he knew that she was more than capable of taking care of herself, and if she didn't want any help with her bag he would've done better to just keep his mouth shut.
But at the time, he only said: "Please, sir. I'd like to carry it for you."
He very nearly added something about it being protocol, but didn't, as that would have been a lie. Well, maybe not, but at the moment he couldn't recall if there were any regs for this scenario, so he simply glanced her way. They'd reached the transport and she paused at the door, giving him a thoughtful look for a moment, then – to his surprise – she shrugged the bag off of her shoulder and handed it over so that he could sling it over his own arm.
"Be careful, please," she said as she stepped through the airlock and into Beacon's ship. "I have a dulcimer in there, and it's kind of fragile."
"Certainly, sir." As Stonewall stepped in after her, he searched for the word "dulcimer" in the database that he could access through his HUD; moments later he was looking at the image of a small, round-bodied musical instrument, the likes of which he'd never seen in person. It didn't appear to be solely a Jedi device, either, but he couldn't discern any practical use for warfare at all for the instrument.
Curious. He considered asking her about it, but didn't know if it was allowed. Besides, she appeared to be distracted; standing beside him in the larty, she'd taken a hold of one of the handles that dangled from the ceiling, but he could see that her grip was light and her gaze was light-years away.
What was she thinking about? What did Jedi think about, when they weren't leading men into battle or meditating? The Force? Somehow, based on the anxious way that her feet were shifting and how her breathing seemed overly deliberate for such a nothing moment, he didn't think so. Actually, it almost looked like she was nervous about something, which puzzled him further. What did a Jedi have to be nervous about, anyway?
The HUD offered him a way to survey his surroundings with a 360-degree view, and he took a minute – only a minute – to study her more closely. Dark eyes drew his attention again, but he cast his gaze over her entire face, taking it all in, from her curving cheek to the shape of her lips. He wondered why he'd only given her his number when she'd asked for his name, then realized with a start that his heart was beating a little faster than it should have been.
Oh kriff, he thought as he snapped his attention away from her. This won't do. Mind on the mission, and nothing else.
Just before they landed, she glanced his way and held out her hand; for one stupid moment he thought she wanted to shake it again, then he saw her eyes flick to the bag at his shoulder, and he winced inwardly at his own unnecessary, confusion. As he was about to hand it over, the ship hit a pocket of rough air and gave a shudder, and he watched her brace herself against the floor before Beacon was able to steady them out.
"I've got it, General," he said, keeping one hand firmly on the canvas bag. "It's safe with me."
A faint smile crossed her mouth and she nodded, but said nothing else. After that, her eyes turned distant again, and he tried not to feel a pang of...something that she hadn't thanked him for carrying her bag, even though he'd been pretty insistent about it.
Quit it, he told himself. She doesn't owe you anything. Anything at all.
Beacon set them down without further difficulty, and the doors slid open to reveal the unremarkable terrain of Basrah: scrubby hills dotted with various bushes and spindly trees, all thrown into stark relief by the bright morning sun. Stonewall hopped out first, then realized that she had not moved, so he turned. "General?"
At the epithet she blinked a few times, then smiled and nodded at him as she stepped onto the dirt. "Thank you...CC-3077, was it?"
Shab. He didn't want to correct her, but he did want her to know his name for some reason he couldn't quite grasp; there was the briefest moment of dilemma, then he thought, what the kriff...just go for it. "I go by 'Stonewall,' too, sir."
A pause, then he added: "If you don't mind, that is," just to be on the safe side. She didn't seem like one who offended easily, but Jedi were a world apart, and he didn't want to take any chances with this one.
Again, she surprised him. Humor flashed in her eyes as she smiled up at his visor. "Stonewall. I suppose there must be a story behind that nickname." At that moment, he noted that General Kenobi was striding over, and he watched as her expression shifted, becoming closed and guarded. "You'll have to tell me another time. Thank you for taking my bag, but I think I have it from here."
Without another word he handed her the bag; he considered saying goodbye, but her attention had turned fully on the other Jedi, which he supposed was to be expected, so he simply nodded once and slipped off towards a nearby group of brothers. Once he'd reached them, he glanced behind him and watched as she and General Kenobi spoke for a few moments, then headed off to meet Cody and Captain Lefty in the briefing tent.
Once she vanished from his sight, Stonewall gave a deep sigh and looked back at his men, who were milling about in various stages of activity: cleaning blasters, speaking to one another, playing sabacc...
A few of them greeted him, and he nodded in reply, but he felt...strange. Separate. It was not a comforting feeling, but nor was it entirely alarming, so after a moment he tried to shrug it away, and moved to take a seat upon a nearby crate. One swift motion and his cleaning-rag was in his hand once more.
Minutes later his deece was out and in pieces around him, but his mind was light-years away.
New (mini) fic! Woo! Look for an update every Monday & Friday, totaling seven chapters. After that...Wild Blue Yonder cometh. :P
Let me know what y'all think of Stone's story so far! Thanks for reading! :D