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Different Skies

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Ezra woke up with a start, and was suddenly aware of the pain coursing throughout his entire body. He opened his eyes, and immediately squeezed them shut again. A wave of nausea overtook him, and combined with the pounding of his head, he felt like he was at sea. He rolled over and emptied the contents of his stomach. Breathe, Ezra. He reminded himself. He laid still for a moment, then pushed himself up with aching limbs. He took in his surroundings. He was sprawled on a sandy beach, it seemed, surrounded by smoking and sparking debris. What happened? He shook his head, trying to clear it. Right. The purgills, hyperspace, Grand Admiral Thrawn… Ezra scrambled to his feet frantically looking around. Did Thrawn survive the crash, too? The Chimaera was a smoking pile of metal, stretching on for miles. Ezra looked around for a weapon, and settled on a metal pipe lying at his feet. He pushed his aching limbs to take a step forwards, when a cool voice interrupted him.

“I see you survived the crash relatively unharmed.”

Ezra whipped around, white spots blinking in front of his vision. The blue skinned admiral was sitting on a chunk of what looked like control panel, fixing Ezra with his piercing red stare. He seemed to be in worse shape than himself. His pristine white uniform was torn nearly to shreds, and the man himself was scraped and bleeding in as many places as his uniform revealed. A part of Ezra was surprised to see that the alien’s blood was as red as his. It seemed like he had been on the receiving end of the shards of glass caused by the purgills.

“Yeah, well so did you.”

Ezra brandished the pipe threateningly. Thrawn seemed unimpressed.

“Bridger. I don’t suppose you’d know where we are.”

Ezra shrugged, causing pain to lance through his body once again.

“I just asked the purgills to remove us from the fight. Permanently. Can’t say I was terribly specific.”

Thrawn didn’t look away from him. It was kinda creeping him out.

“Of course not. You and your group tend to make up your plans, as they say, ‘on the fly’, leaving little regard for anything outside of your immediate results.”

Ezra felt taken aback. He supposed that was right, but it was odd to be called out on it.

“Yeah, but we beat you. So, what’s the problem?”

Thrawn leaned back slightly, giving Ezra an odd expression.

“It would seem so. But may I ask you something?”

Huh. He was still oddly polite.

“Go for it, I guess.”

Ezra said, sitting on another chunk of Star Destroyer.

“You can sense other living beings, correct? Is there anyone here aside from the two of us?”

Ezra frowned at the abrupt change of topic. It seemed like an odd question. He closed his eyes, and reached out with the force. Thrawn was beside him, with no visible emotional output. He was calm, collected, and organized mentally. Ezra shook his head. That was weird, but an issue for another time. He felt the flow of the force through the ground, spreading like roots across the area. It touched the edge of a forest nearby, vibrantly full of life. It swept the area of the crash, finding a dark patch of death and lingering fear and despair. Ezra withdrew with a gasp. Thrawn was still expressionlessly looking at him. It was an unforgiving stare, and Ezra squirmed under it.

“We’re the only two survivors.”

It had a weight to it that Ezra hadn’t expected. Thrawn nodded, leaning forward.

“Do you know the average crew size of an Imperial Star Destroyer, Ezra Bridger?”

Ezra shook his head, not trusting himself to speak.

“I see. Allow me to enlighten you. An average crew has 37,000 members. However, the Chimaera, being a flagship, was home to exactly 9,247 officers, 27,968 personnel, and because we were preparing for a potential assault, 10,000 stormtroopers. So that would be a size of 47,215 people. And there are no survivors, are there?”

Ezra felt his stomach drop. He had… killed that many people? He hadn’t thought about it like that. Hell, they destroyed Star Destroyers every battle. The rebellion’s kill count might be somewhere in the hundred thousands. And his was so high as well… he glanced up at Thrawn, with his unforgiving glare. He felt sick.

“I- I didn’t think,”

He started. Thrawn looked… almost sad.

“No. You never do. And now tens of thousands of men and women have lost their lives. The engineers, ensigns, and even the supply crew. None of them had any of the resolve of the higher officers. Many joined just to support their famil-“

“Stop it!”

Ezra cut in, feeling tears trying to force their way out of his eyes.

“You made your decision. You must live with the consequences.”

Thrawn added softly. He stood up with a wince. Ezra was too stunned to move from his spot. The pipe clattered out of his hand.

“Unfortunately, it will take the both of us if we wish to survive this. I assume you want to get back to your friends before you die.”

Ezra gave a small nod. He did want to see Sabine again. If he could even face her. Thrawn disappeared into the smoking wreckage without a word. Too late Ezra realized he shouldn’t let the man out of his sight. But it didn’t seem like he was interested in killing him. Ezra pushed himself up, and headed to the wreckage.