Mr. Cut Lawquane, husband of Suu, father to two beautiful children, Saleucami
My brother Wolffe asked me to write my story for him. He was always writing stuff down on that beat up old player pod he had. He said it had a huge memory. He was trying to collect as many stories from the war as he could, our stories. Well, they did name that war for us clones, after all. There used to be millions of us. Millions died in the war. After the war, most stayed in the army, and most of them will probably die in that stupid armor one way or another. The Republic, now the Empire, told them they didn’t have a choice. Fighting was what they had always done, and I think they were scared to try something else. I think that when you accept that your options are limited it is only because you can’t imagine other possibilities. Everyone told us what we were for so long that we saw ourselves as they did. We didn’t like what we saw, either. I was lucky. Early in the war, I met somebody who saw me as something else, something I liked much, much better. I never looked back. I started my new life. It is funny, after growing up with just my brothers, since I came to Saleucami, I have only seen three more of us. I’m proud to say that those three were able to make new lives for themselves. I like to think that I was the one who taught them how.
Where I live, most people had never seen a Fett clone soldier besides me. Galactic politics didn’t affect people much there. It is a pretty remote region, mostly farms, with houses separated by large distances. There are central spaceport towns where we sell our crops, but they are pretty small and spread out. So we don’t see outsiders much. Even communications like the holo-net can be sparse.
Once the war had continued for a while, fighting came to our planet. But most of it was on the far side. What news reports we got showed clones sometimes. Some of my neighbors would comment on how much I resembled the clones, but they didn’t ask any follow up questions. They weren’t even curious. Out there, nobody had ever heard of the Binks-Palpatine Military Creation Act, so didn’t know the rules restricting our behavior. They left me to decide how to conduct myself.
My neighbors had no idea that I was a deserter, a fugitive. I was just some guy who had shown up one day, did his work, kept to himself. Then I settled in their community and never did anything interesting at all. Just a simple farmer. Simple to the point of being boring. Everyone liked me, I was their neighbor and friend. I ate with them, I drank with them, I transacted business, I helped them out where I could, we laughed together. Nothing ever happened except the beautiful monotony of daily life. Free from want, free from fear. I liked where I lived. For a creature made for war, it was a peaceful refuge in which to live a peaceful life. The sunsets were spectacular.
In my home, on my farm, I lived with my family, my wife Suu, my daughter Shaeeah, and my son Jek. I always taught my children that they could live any kind of life they wanted, I was proof of that. I always did my best to provide them with the things they needed. I kept them fed, I kept them safe, I made sure they knew they were loved, I made sure that they respected other beings and respected themselves.
That wasn’t how my brothers and I were brought up. We were raised to believe that our purpose was as tools to fight a war on behalf of our betters, those people who mattered more than us. The greatest thing we could expect for ourselves would be to die for a Republic that didn’t respect us at all. No one ever asked us whether we wanted that or not. Choice was the luxury of those who made us, we owed them our gratitude for existing and so it was our duty to serve them.
When I found my new life, I felt sorry for my brothers. They thought that they chose to serve, that there was some nobility in it. You can’t make people free if they don’t know they are slaves. They have to come to understand things on their own.
I grew up in Kamino with the rest of the First Batchers. I was not an elite clone, the way some were branded early. I was not accepted for Leadership Training or given a specialization. Light infantry. I was just another face in the crowd. Most of what we were assigned was non-stop training in soldiering skills. We didn’t need to think, only shoot straight and follow orders. Our Mandalorian trainers and the Kaminoans were strict. Our every move was monitored. We always knew that. Conformity was a must.
Our cloning facility in Tipoca City was close quarters. We were always tense. Sometimes I would start a fight with another guy just so they would put me in a cell alone for the night. It broke up the monotony. They practically had to sedate us some nights to keep us from killing each other after lights out. It was over-populated, it was stressful, and we were being made into unfeeling mindless deadly weapons. In our third year, the Kaminoan cloners who made us brought in Mandalorian trainers to teach us how to be soldiers. Light infantry guys did not get as much attention from trainers as leadership trainees, or guys like the pilots or medics. We were hit or kicked a lot as punishment, but mostly just forced back into line. We weren’t permitted to speak much during training, unlike leadership trainees. Those guys had to learn to think fast. So for light infantry, it was a simple life. Target practice and simulations, staggered with meals and breaks. It had its good points. When we were calm, we had lots of company. We had been together our whole lives, but we still found things to talk about. Funny how that works. Enemies and friends. Brothers.
We had Physical Challenges and Invented Rituals of Competition. Those could get really interesting. Fist fights, eating contests, arm wrestling, and many more creative ones. We bet on them with what little we had. We gambled a lot. It was one of the only things we could do that was unpredictable. We would gamble to get brothers to do our cleaning duty for us. Gamble to get someone’s sugar ration. Gamble over pills we stole from the infirmary. Gamble over smoking sticks. We made those from a dried version of a kind of algae that we scraped off the outer surface of the city’s towers. They didn’t do anything drug wise, but they made you look really cool, disobedient. I liked them. They even made my voice lower.
I just remember it was a time when we were immature. We never questioned much. We did as we were told. We took abuse. We had fun when we could.
So much for my golden youth.
I was one of the first guys picked to get off Kamino, that piss bladder of a planet where we were made. We knew it was coming, everybody had been talking about the Jedi who had shown up and toured the facility. Augie-Ben-Doggie or something. I hadn’t seen him. In our loyalty classes, they had described the Jedi as these creatures that had powers, magical abilities we didn’t have. Their dress was described, but not much more. I was surprised when the guys were saying that the Jedi looked like a human, like any of our trainers looked. That sounded so ordinary. Not what I had pictured at all.
Then, I was waiting with my battalion to be loaded onto a transport for training maneuvers when Jedi Master Yoda just showed up. He demanded as many clones as could be mustered right away to go to somewhere called ‘Geonosis’. Now he looked like something I would expect from the description of a Jedi. A strange little green creature, now he looked magical.
We’d been taught our whole lives about nothing but how to fight a war. We were made to sit through loyalty classes to tell us that it was our duty to fight for ‘The Republic’. We had sworn an oath every morning in class. I still remember it, “We swear, on our honor, to serve the Republic, its Senate and its people. We swear to protect them and always remain loyal.” Now our duty had begun and I was one of the first ones out. I don’t know how much I cared about duty, but I had just been glad to get out of Kamino.
We were only a day off the only world we’d ever seen, and dropped smack in the middle of a battle. I was on one of the ships that landed in the Geonosian arena. Bodies were everywhere, bugs, droids, Jedi, creatures. The smell was horrible. We stepped off the ships firing. We created a perimeter around the survivors and we clones were on the outside of it providing cover for them to load onto the ships. We then lifted off and flew to the forward command center, where the pilots dropped us off. Federation ships were trying to escape, kicking up clouds of the red soil. Battle droids, which we had never seen before, were marching at us with their lifeless gaits. They looked frightening, skeletal. Ships and vehicles fired on us. Bodies of my brothers flew up in the air in every direction as the blasts landed. Our own ships fired at them. We started marching forward into the horrible dust clogging my helmet filters and hail of blaster fire. Every batch mate I had was wiped out around me within minutes. I just kept moving forward.
We clones had been conditioned since our second year of life to withstand combat. The sounds, sights, and smells of battle were around us and affected us like they would anyone else, but our psychological programming had made us follow orders despite the trauma. I think I wanted to die just to make the feeling stop. The feeling of walking towards what I knew was going to hurt me and being helpless to stop myself. I never want to feel that way again.
Some ships escaped, but the enemy retreated and the planet was ours. I stayed behind to help dispose of the dead. Jedi bodies were gathered and prepared with reverence. We brought them to the infirmary we’d set up at forward command. The droids were salvaged for scrap. The clones were scooped up by an industrial ship in piles. It was not the first time I had seen dead brothers, we early batchers commonly died in the Kaminoans’ experiments to test our limits or in accidents during training. On Kamino, our dead were thrown into the sea through the sewage pipes after they were dissected and studied. I asked one of the officers what we would do with the bodies on Geonosis, since there was not an ocean anywhere around. He said protocol was that they would be incinerated at a waste disposal company on Coruscant.
From the experience of my first and only battle, I decided that the war made no sense to me, and it was only a few hours old.
The transports came to get us once Geonosis was pacified. I was assigned to a new outfit immediately after the battle. We veterans were divided up among the earliest units. Mine was with Jedi General Ima-Gun Di, who was setting up his 4th Legion. I went to the stadium that had been converted into our command center. There, I let a protocol droid scan the chip in my arm and add my affiliation. On that chip, which we couldn’t remove, was all the information on us. Our number, nickname (which had to be registered with the Kaminoan databank once we had one), extraction date, batch number, jar number, health history, even the price the Republic had paid for us. Like on things you buy in stores. That’s what they meant we were. Things. That’s how everyone I had ever known that wasn’t a brother had treated us. Even droids.
I got on the transport for Coruscant. We knew that was the capital, we’d had some classes about it. Then, on the way from Geonosis, the Separatists attacked. Two ships caught us between their blaster fire above Saleucami. Two ships of droid transports followed our escape pod to where it crashed on the planet. In the impact, almost all of my brothers were killed or injured. Including me. I hit my head and was bleeding and unconscious. I woke up in a haze, seeing the droids going through the pod blasting every clone in the head. I guess they skipped me, since my head was bleeding. I held still. Then they turned, marched out, and got back on their ship. I was there, alone in the dark, in pain, and strapped in to my seat surrounded by the macabre figures of my dead brothers. It was a nightmare.
I don’t know how long I stayed there, but I was finally able to force my hands to move. My fingers seemed to be petrified with fear. I managed to hit the catch on the safety belt and I dropped to the floor. In a cold sweat, I crawled out of the pod and gulped at the fresh air like I was breathing for the first time after extraction. Then I passed out.
I didn’t wake up until the next day when the sun was well up. I was so thirsty. With great effort, I got on all fours and fought the dizziness. I closed my eyes and tried to will my head to stop spinning. Once I thought it was safe, I stood, but stumbled against a plant. I began to walk, but my armor was feeling unbearably heavy. I sat on the ground and removed it piece by piece, burden by burden. Back in Kamino, we had drills to see who could put on and strip out of armor the fastest. It is a process, since it goes on in layers. It has to be practiced like assembling and dissembling a weapon. Right then, I was just ripping at it, desperate to get it off.
Left in my undersuit, with the big Republic symbol on the chest, I limped up, holding myself against the plant again. I couldn’t believe that I was alive. I began to walk in a direction, any direction. I wonder sometimes about how different my life would be if I’d walked a different way, but am I glad I picked right.
I walked until dark when I came across a farm. It was nothing major. I heard later that it was a part of a small colony of former slaves. They had been freed when the Jedi had found them on a smuggler’s ship and given resettlement. Most didn’t want to go back to Ryloth. Their planet had been in the middle of a civil war. So the people were offered land on Saleucami to work small farms to make their livings. There were other colonies, with humans and other species, in the sector. But everyone was pretty spread out. This farm was the only thing around for kilometers.
I could see the house, no more than a two story shack of flimsy materials. I limped forward into the yard in front of it. “Please help me!” I shouted as loudly as I could, which wasn’t much more than regular speaking voice.
“Who is out there?” I heard a woman’s voice with an accent.
“Please, I’ve been injured!” I fell to my knees, “Please help me.”
The door burst open and a pink humanoid with long tails on the back of her head came running out to my side. She was a Twi’lek I thought. I had seen pictures of them in briefings on Ryloth, which incidentally was to be my unit’s first posting. But more surprisingly for me, she was a female. The only female I had ever seen that wasn’t Kaminoan. And Kaminoans weren’t compatible with us. We never found them attractive. But this one…
“Can you stand?” She put her hand on my back. I had never been touched by a female before. It made my heart beat faster, despite my fatigue.
“I think so.” I tried to get to my feet. She put my arm around her neck and supported me as I limped into the house. She sat me on a wooden bench and started tugging at my shirt. I was really embarrassed. The Kaminoans had always taught us to stay covered. We were punished for bad behavior if we didn’t wear clothes at all times. I held my shirt on, “No, please, it’s just my head. I think it has a cut.”
“Yes, I can see that, it is gigantic,” she looked slightly offended that I’d stated something so obvious. “But you are bruised on your side as well, you’re holding it.” She touched my side and I winced. Then she pulled off my shirt roughly and scowled at me. She stood up and breezed past me. My senses were dull, but I swear she smelled better than anything else in the galaxy. It made me a little dizzy. I may not have been a lot of places or experienced a lot, but I still maintain it is true.
The woman went and got a first aid kit, water and clean bandages. Also, a healing pack for my side. I let her clean my head wound. “Alright, Mr. Cut, it looks like you need a laser stitch.” She was beautiful. To do my stitches, she had to put her face right in front of mine and look at what she was doing. I watched her face. She switched to my other side, applying the healing pack. She smoothed it onto my skin, hurting me again, but I didn’t move a muscle. The lives we’d had made clones respond to most touch as a threat. Only certain things, like a friendly punch on the arm or helping men off the field of battle, were customary enough that we were used to them. But most contact made me feel like a fight. Yet, it was not like that with her. She didn’t feel like a threat. I didn’t know what she was, I’d never seen anything like her.
She gave me some water, which I drank deeply. “Can you stand?” she asked.
“I think so, I just have to rest.”
She wrapped my arm around her and put her hand on my chest to get me to my feet. We went together into another room where there was a bed. Right out in the open in the middle of the room. On Kamino, we’d slept in closed drawers. She eased me in and walked back to the door. She was silhouetted in the dark against the light from the outer room. “I will check on you in the morning.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
“Suu. Suu Lawquane.”
“Suu. Thank you. I owe you my life.” I wasn’t sure she heard the last part. I closed my eyes and was immediately fast asleep.
I opened my eyes to find two eyes staring right into mine. But the eyes weren’t Suu’s.
“Hi,” a little Twi’lek girl said, smiling widely, “Are you a human?”
I was a little startled, I admit. I sat up in bed, “Uh…and…who are you?”
“I’m Shaeeah. Are you a human? I saw a human once. He had a big belly. Do you know you have a bandage on your head?”
“Y-Yesssss…” I stammered.
“Shaeeah, what are you doing here?” Suu was at the door.
“She was just noticing that I’m a human,” I must have looked surprised. I had never seen a youngling that didn’t look like me.
“Let me get you some breakfast. You can tell me where you came from,” Suu turned and walked out as Shaeeah passed her in the door.
Before I knew it, Suu was back, this time with two children skulking behind her legs. Suu brought me a kind of hot cereal. It was nice. I was mostly thirsty, so I drank a lot of water.
Suu and the children sat on the bed with me while I ate. The children’s eyes were wide as they watched me. “I was a soldier, on a transport. All the men were killed. I’m sure I’m presumed dead as well.” We infantry guys were never taught much creativity. Therefore, we were not good at lying, or even knowing what to leave out. “I’m all alone and I don’t even know where I am. I don’t think the Republic Army will come looking for me,” I admitted.
“You need a while to heal. Then will you go back?” She looked at me.
The question confused me. She was asking me as if I had a choice in the matter. I had never had a choice about what I would do in my whole life. “I don’t know,” I answered honestly. If she decided to send me back, I knew I’d have to go. I kept my head down. I thought that I had to accept whatever she decided she would do with me. I figured that since she had helped me, I was now indebted to her. I belonged to her. As far as I knew, she could kill me or work me to death, I had no say in the matter.
“Don’t you have anywhere to go?” Suu’s eyebrows lowered.
“No. I just don’t want to go back to where I came from.” That was all I could say for sure.
“You are welcome to stay here, if you like. My husband died a year ago from an infection. I don’t know how I am going to plant this season alone. I can’t pay you, but I can offer you food and a place to sleep.” She did not act like my trainers had. I hadn’t gotten the impression that she would punish me or attack me. She also seemed to see me as a person, not like the Kaminoans did, but the way my brothers did. It felt strange for her to be acting that way towards me. She didn’t look like us, she couldn’t have been more different. Yet, I believed that I could trust her the way I could my brothers.
“Will you really stay with us, now?” Shaeeah asked. She and Jek actually looked hopeful about it. “Pleeeease!”
“I...I guess I will.”
“You can stay in here in my room until you’re well. I’ll stay upstairs with the children. When you are better, you can sleep in the loft in the barn. It is actually very comfortable.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I was grateful. She didn’t have to do anything for me. She didn’t owe me anything. But she was helping me more than I could say. More than I could imagine even some of my brothers doing for me.
I was up and around that day. We clones are engineered to be sturdy and heal fast. I asked her if there was anything I could do. I wanted to feel useful right away. She had me help her with feeding the eopies and getting them water. She told me their names and gave me some details about their different personalities. She was half kidding, but when she smiled, it was cute.
She said we’d have to shovel out the stalls, but I insisted on doing it all by myself. I couldn’t picture her doing something like that. I felt it was beneath her. I had them cleared out in record time. It was nothing. I used to have to do maintenance detail in Tipoca, cleaning the huge toilet pipes underneath the city. Once you have done that, nothing else smells bad ever. I don’t care what my brother Rex says, the smell of the disinfecting fluid that he used on cleaning detail in his top floor Leadership Academy could not have been worse than that. We got into an argument about it once. He thought I was accusing him of classism. I might not have had the luxury of his fancy education to see the social significance of our differences of opinions, but I maintain, there is no comparison between cleaning fluid and shit. End of story. Sissy officer.
I came out of the barn and Suu brought me a cold drink. “There is an outdoor shower cabin over there. It will help you clean up. I can get you some of my husband’s old clothes to change into.”
I downed the drink in one chug and gasped. “Thank you, Suu.” I had only ever had two sets of clothes in my life. The first was my red clone uniform with the number. We wore those around Tipoca City when armor wasn’t required. I had lost those clothes. The second was the undersuit for my armor, the one with the huge Republic symbol on the chest. When I showered that first day at Suu’s, I threw my undersuit out of the shower stall into the mud. I never wanted to see it again. I left it there for years until it just decayed in the dirt.
I had been there a month, working hard, but feeling useful. We planted the fields, fixed the equipment, took care of the livestock. The crops grew, the days were getting warmer. At night, fireflies glowed in the small yard around the house.
Suu joked with me and smiled a lot. She said it was nice to have company. She was kind. She treated me with respect, more like a partner in tasks, she didn’t order me around. She’d cook for me and appreciated when I liked something. She taught me how to do things for myself and always thanked me when I did something for her. It was really nice to have a friend. We talked a lot. We told stories about where we’d come from.
I told her about the cloning facility. She had heard about the Grand Army of the Republic when it was first organized. I told her about my life there and about my brothers. About my training. About my experiences. I also mentioned how much better I liked it living there with her.
Suu had come from Ryloth, where many of her people were captured and enslaved by fellow Twi’leks and off-worlders alike. Her former master had been not as bad as some she knew about. He had kept Suu, her husband, and her children together. But when her master died, his family had sold hers away. Suu had expected their situations to worsen when suddenly the transport was intercepted and the slaves were freed. Suu considered herself lucky. Freedom, even in a simple life, was more than she’d ever expected for herself. I told her that I understood her perfectly.
I helped Suu with the kids, not because she told me to, but because they were so much fun to play with. They taught me a lot about everything, I realized how sheltered my upbringing had been. We discovered things together. I remember lying in the grass on our stomachs watching insects build a hill. I was as fascinated as they were. Shaeeah and Jek were funny and sweet, they made me laugh and smile more than I could ever remember doing in my life. They didn’t treat me like something to fear. They trusted me. I kept them from running off or protected them from doing things that were dangerous. They listened to me when I told them to behave. No one had ever listened to me.
One night, Suu and I were sitting with the kids in the living room, when little Jek climbed up into my lap. I held very still, not knowing what to do. Again, I didn’t feel threatened. I felt the opposite. It made me happy. He leaned his head on my chest, curled up, and fell asleep. I don’t know what made me do it, I’d never done anything like it before. But I had seen Suu do it when the kids sat with her. I dipped my head and put my lips to his forehead. It had made me feel silly, but I didn’t think anyone saw me do it. Then I looked up and Suu was staring. She smiled slightly. I was completely embarrassed.
I carried Jek up to his bed and tucked him in. Suu followed with Shaeeah, who was barely walking and rubbing her eyes. I left the room to let her say goodnight to her children. I was headed down the stairs to go to my place in the barn, when Suu came out onto the stairs and stood next to me. “Goodnight, Suu,” I said keeping my eyes lowered. It was hard to look at her for some reason. I tried to keep my voice level, but my whole body was buzzing just to be near her. She touched my arm and I couldn’t move. I was petrified.
“Mister Cut,” her voice was quavering. She moved towards me, while I put my back against the wall. She touched my mouth with hers. This was a new sensation, too. I was feeling something that made me tense, but something that felt the opposite of bad. Every hair on my body was standing on end. I wrapped my arms around her as she did it again. I wanted more. I never wanted to let her go.
I opened my eyes to find Shaeeah staring at me again. I felt like I would have to explain myself. “Are you going to be my Daddy now?”
I sat up suddenly. Suu rolled over sleepily and sat up, covering herself with the sheet. “Shaeeah!”
“This is where Daddy used to sleep, with Mommy,” the little girl informed me. Oh, sleep, yeah, I guess we did that too.
“Go play, we’ll be up in a little bit,” Suu told her. Shaeeah skipped off.
“Good morning,” I said to her.
She put her hand on my cheek and drew me into a kiss, “Good morning, you.”
The kids did call me ‘Daddy’ after that. Suu never corrected them. I loved hearing it. It made me feel so important. Our father, our clone template, Jango Fett, had never once looked at me.
To Suu, I became something new as well. She asked me to marry her. I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what that meant. She said it meant that we promised that we belonged only to each other. I said that I already knew I belonged to her. She said she belonged to me, too, but that we needed to register this officially. That sounded funny to me. The promise was between us. What did the Republic have to do with it? She said it would assure that no one could take me away from her.
“I’d like to see them try,” I laughed.
The bureaucrat in the colony center had kind of a snooty look to her. That was funny, since her office seemed to be really shabby. It was full of ledger books full of information that was supposed to be uploaded to the Republic Databanks, but apparently, it had been years since their computers had functioned. We were actually filling out a paper form. The bureaucrat scrutinized me a little. It made me nervous. I still didn’t want to be caught and sent back. But apparently she just scrutinized me to be condescending. “Name?” she asked.
Suu looked at me curiously. I had never told her my number or Kamino nickname. Those things were irrelevant to me. They weren’t who I was any more. So I gave the only name that mattered, “Mr. Cut Lawquane.”
Well, that bureaucrat may have been snooty, but her handwriting was beautiful. We got a real marriage certificate with our names and the raised seal of the Republic on it. We came out of the clerk’s office high on the adrenaline of what we’d just gotten away with. I asked Suu what was next. She said that in her first marriage, she hadn’t been allowed to do much as a slave. I told her we could do anything she wanted. So we did a wedding portrait. Then a ceremony with the neighbors from other farms as guests. Then a meal with a cake for dessert. Suu said it was the most fun she’d ever had. I told her that I lived to make her happy.
After my whole life imprisoned on Kamino, and my brief trauma in the war, I cannot tell you how good it felt to be safe. No one was threatening me, no one wanted to kill me. I was free to love my family and make my living. I hadn’t known life could be like that. I was happy every day when I woke up, and I was happy every night beside my wife.
Suu Lawquane had treated me the way she had because she only ever saw me as a man. No one had told her what I was, the way the Republic had told its people by the time the other clones went to Coruscant. She just treated me like what she saw. And I like to think that this is what I really am. She taught me that I was worthy of being a husband and father. That I was a real man who had the same rights as any other. This was what I taught Rex about clones.
After the first harvest, I went to town to sell everything. It had been a good year, Suu said. We had been able to plant more crops than she ever had and the weather was good. I took the heavy duty speeder. Jek and Shaeeah had wanted to come with me, but it would have been hard to manage both. The town was a few hours away and it would be hard work unloading. I took Gareth. He was a from Suu’s resettlement group. He was a quiet type, I guess he had seen some rough treatment as a slave. He had a prosthesis from when his Hutt master had cut his foot off at the ankle. Gareth hadn’t even been trying to run, slaves had restraining chips that blew up if you breached their set radius. Gareth’s master had just been a sadistic bastard. Gareth’s wife had seen worse. But they didn’t let their pasts dictate who they were. I liked that philosophy. Gareth and I had eaten lunch in town and gotten the news about some possible fighting above the planet. It made me a little nervous.
When I got back home, it wasn’t too late. Time for dinner, I was starving. Then I saw the light in the barn. I quietly walked out, not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t seen a brother since my crash. Those bodies Suu and I had gone back for eventually. We’d buried them on the farm next to Suu’s first husband. We gave them markers with their names on them. I had said some nice things about them. They might have been the only clones of the war that were treated that way in death.
I opened the barn door quietly and I saw him lying on a bench. His hair was cut close to his head and dyed blonde. I had let my hair grow out and it had bleached lighter in the sun. But we still had the same face. He was on his back with his arm in a sling. I grabbed a spear off the wall and angled it towards him. He hadn’t been asleep as he appeared, but tried to pull a pistol. I knocked it away. When he saw me, his eyes went wide.
I kept my grip on the spear, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
I could tell from the look on his face that he was still pretty tightly wound. He made a face as if I smelled bad, “You’re a clone.”
Well, obviously, I thought. “So, I see the war has finally made its way out here. And I guess I can expect a visit from some droids soon.”
“What’s your number and rank?” He was trying to interrogate me. It was funny really. He was in no condition to get aggressive. I think it bothered him that I wasn’t cowering with fear. He was obviously used to being listened to. Stuck up officer.
I smiled, “My name is Lawquane, Cut Lawquane. And I’m just a simple farmer.” I lowered the spear.
“You’re a deserter!” He was practically growling. I remembered the way we clones used to use aggression to intimidate each other in Tipoca City. It was comical, coming from him, with his lame arm. But also because my Tipoca days seemed so far away.
“Well, I like to think I’m merely exercising my freedom to choose,” I still backed away and waved my hand in a diffusive gesture that showed I meant no offense. I didn’t really want to whack him one with the spear, after all. I knew I could, but I didn’t want to hit a guy when he was already hurting. “To choose not to kill for a living.”
“That is not your choice to make.” He actually told me that. He still believed that I owed the Republic my life, since they had paid for my creation. What had they ever given me since? I turned on the light and set the spear back against the wall. “You swore an oath to the Republic, you have a duty.”
I pitied him. The poor guy didn’t have any of the things that matter and he didn’t even know it. “I have a duty, you’re right. But it’s to my family. Does that count or do you still plan to turn me in?”
“Do I have a choice,” he was acting like I was going to kill him.
“Daddy, you’re home!” Shaeeah came running and leapt into my arms. Jek followed, carrying a drawing, and Suu was close behind.
“Look what I drew you, Dad,” Jek handed me the drawing, which was of Suu.
I laughed, “Well, well, well, that’s great, Jek,” I rubbed my knuckles on his little hat.
“I see you two have met,” Suu gestured at the soldier.
“He looks just like you, Daddy, I told them,” Shaeeah informed me.
“Ahhhh, you did, huh,” I hoped there hadn’t been too many clones around. No one else had seen me. I hoped he’d give me a chance to explain myself. “I was just making our guest, Captain…um…what’s your number?” I was deliberately antagonizing him. All we clones had names, at least among ourselves. But if he wanted to be what the Kaminoans and the Republic told us to be so badly, I figured I could oblige.
“Rex. I also have a name, believe it or not.” That had gotten to him, I could see.
The kids insisted that he come in and eat with us, so he relented. When he looked at them, his whole bearing changed. I could tell. We clones were very used to being able to read each other. We all make the same faces, have the same gestures, have the same reactions. I knew what he was thinking.
“Yes, well, you and I may be clones, but we are still individuals. You have a name, rather than a number, Captain. Why is that?” I asked him as I served dinner.
“Perhaps our leaders feel it’s a more efficient way of distinguishing us,” I could tell he didn’t believe it. He was looking desperate, like a man struggling to make excuses. No one had ever asked him a question like that in his life.
“More efficient than a number? Hm. I doubt the Kaminoans think that way.” We both knew that the Kaminoans could not even tell us apart. We were required to wear our numbers at all times in Tipoca. “Still, a name has to make you feel unique. Especially in an army where everyone looks like you, and talks like you…”
“Actually,” he interrupted, “I’ve never really thought about it.” I could hear the quaver in his voice. We clones are terrible liars.
I was even sure he loved his awful hairstyle and anything else that made him different. “Yes you have.”
“Well, how would you know?”
“Because I’m as close to you as any life form can be,” I handed him his plate and bent over him to look him straight in the eyes, so he would know that I could read him like a book. His face registered surprise, but not denial. “I’ve seen how you look at my family. Our home.” He stared at Suu, then at my children. I was sure. Rex had probably never told anyone how badly he wanted a family. Maybe not even himself. That is, he had never realized that it was even a possibility for him. The only difference between us was that in the time he had been away fighting, dreaming of that life, I had actually been playing with my children and holding my wife. I could tell it hurt him to know that. We have short lives, because of our rapid aging. He could feel that time slipping away. Suu made him nervous. I was pretty sure he’d never been touched by a girl. “Come on Rex, admit it. You’ve thought about what your life could look like if you were also to leave the army. Choose the life you want.”
“What if I am choosing the life I want? What if I’m staying in the army because it’s meaningful to me?”
“And how is it meaningful?”
“Because I’m part of the most pivotal moment in the history of the Republic. If we fail, then our children, and their children, could be forced to live under an evil I can’t well imagine.” He thought he was sacrificing to protect people. He was deliberately giving up things for himself so that others could have. I felt that I might have judged him unfairly. He wasn’t as brainwashed as I had thought. He actually thought of his family the way I thought of mine, but that he considered family in a wider sense, all the sentient beings. All the ones in the Republic anyway. I found that I didn’t mind if Rex chose to be a soldier, if that was the reason. Self-sacrifice was a valid choice. He seemed pretty strong in his convictions. I believed him that it was what he wanted. I genuinely wished him well.
I told Rex that he could stay with us, but he said no. We left each other to take our separate paths. No one ever came looking for me. I thought that I’d actually convinced him to see that the army didn’t work for everyone. Suu had been terrified, but I knew he wouldn’t tell. We were brothers. Back on Kamino, we had a code. You don’t rat on a brother. Regardless of what Rex did for himself, he seemed like an honorable guy where brothers were concerned.
When I think of how he was back then, so proud of himself and what he was doing, it is really sad how much he changed by the next time I saw him. He had been so lied to. Everything he thought he was serving was twisted and broken in front of him. Until all he had left was his life.
I didn’t see him for over two years.
It was about three years into the war, a ship landed nearby and about a half hour later, Rex came stumbling down the drive to our farm. He looked thin and a bit haggard, his hair had grown out and he hadn’t shaved in a while. But I knew him. I couldn’t forget a face. Most of his armor was gone, but he had a pack on his back and was walking slowly.
I was in the front yard working on the speeder when I saw him limp up. “Well, hello, Rex. How’s the war going?” I joked, not really looking up. I could have said more, but I didn’t want to hit a guy that was already hurting.
He fell against the speeder and sat down on the ground wearily. “On second thought, I will stay. What’s for dinner?” he asked, putting his elbows against his knees, looking at the ground.
I could hardly believe that it was possible, but he had deserted. And he told a story that made me feel lucky to have crash landed when I did.
Rex had come from Malastare, before that Sallust, Nal Hutta, and Eriadu. He had been pursued by the Secret Military Police, a task force of non-clones that investigated military personnel and handled clone discipline. My home had been Rex’s destination all along, but he had to be sure that he lost his pursuers. He had tried to get himself counted among the dead on a battlefield, but someone had evidently realized the deception. The agents who had caught up with him carried shock whips, like the slavers Rex had seen on Zygerria. He had some wicked looking scars on his back from them. But he had escaped.
They had interrogated him about a plot by Count Dooku, the Separatist leader, to use the clone army to do something terrible. They thought he’d been a part of the plot, but he had just connected Dooku’s plan to the Kaminoans engineering us with control chips in our heads. I asked him what he thought the Separatists would make us do. He was afraid I wouldn’t believe him. He said that he couldn’t be sure it would happen. I was concerned about what he said. I feared that we might do something violent around Suu or the children, but Rex seemed sure that they were safe.
“So, you don’t think running makes you a coward anymore?” I asked him. I realized as soon as I said it how much that sounded like ‘I told you so.’
“My death would not have meant anything, Brother. Not the way things were going. But maybe my life can. Maybe I can still help other people.”
“What happened to duty?”
“I always thought my duty as a soldier was to protect people. The people of the Republic, my brothers, the Jedi I served…everybody. What I knew, it was going to get people hurt or killed. There was nothing else I could do. I tried to save some other brothers. Only one guy let me remove his chip, but he wouldn’t even run. For all I know, even he’s dead now.” He hung his head, which meant that he didn’t want to talk any more. He just stared out at the fields.
Rex was with us then. He never talked much about the Military Police who were still trying to find him. He assured me that they’d never find their way to Saleucami. I always told my kids, we help anyone we can.
A little while later, Rex heard in town that some Jedi general had killed Count Dooku. He thought that the control chips wouldn’t be activated then. Rex came to me and said that since the disaster had been averted, he would be wrapping up his affairs and going back.
“Why would you do that? You’ll be court martialed for sure,” I reminded him.
“I know. I’ll probably have to do some time for deserting. But I don’t mind. I’ve got friends on Coruscant who’ll visit me. And I’ll get out eventually. Then I’ll be free and clear. The war is over, I could live the life I want to, finally.” He actually sounded optimistic, but his eyes looked scared.
“Rex, you are free now. What more do you want?”
He bowed his head and rubbed his forehead with his palms. “I swore an oath to the Republic. An oath!” his hands flew down and he gave me that same scowl like on the first day we met. He then turned away. “I just want my honor back.” His shoulders slumped. I had never seen him that way, he had always stood up straight and proud. He looked like it as an effort for him just to stand. “I gave up my honor! It was all I had left! I can’t even look at myself now. How could I do that? I was scared and I ran away! But I’m better than that! I’m not afraid of anything…” His voice cracked. I was going to be sad to see him go, but I knew better than to try to stop him. Only he could decide who he was.
A few days later, a ship landed. Rex and I went out to investigate it. We had our weapons raised as a precaution. The ship was a real junker, looked like something a smuggler would use. The ramp lowered and a brother with a prosthetic eye, a nasty face scar, and a head cut like Rex’s stumbled out. He looked really rough.
Rex threw down his blaster, “Wolffe!” He ran to the brother and hugged him tightly. It was a strange thing to see, we brothers had always been somewhat standoffish about contact. Like me, Rex had obviously had some experiences that had helped him get over that. Rex backed him up and held his shoulders, “I thought you were dead, for sure! Brother, you look terrible…what happened?” The brother looked at Rex, his eyes bloodshot. Then he threw up.
We got Wolffe inside to a bed and Suu brought him some water. He seemed to be in a lot of pain. “What’s the matter with him?” Suu asked Rex.
Rex looked at the floor.
Wolffe looked up, “Just tell them, I don’t care.”
“Um…Commander Wolffe usually does a lot of substances. Looks like withdrawals,” Rex admitted. “You don’t need to worry about this, Suu, I’ll take care of him.” He took the water cup from her. Rex stayed for days like that with our brother. He fed him. He cleaned him. He calmed him when he was scared at night. Wolffe seemed to think he was still in danger. Rex never asked Wolffe any questions, but Wolffe stayed really quiet just the same. The two of them together looked so broken, so lost. I hadn’t looked that way in years, I thought.
One day, I came in to check on them. They saw me, but Rex seemed to be trying to say something. I waited in the doorway. Rex took a deep breath, “Wolffe, when are you going to tell me what happened?”
“They’re all dead.” Wolffe didn’t look at him.
“No, the Jedi.”
“What!” Rex and I both said it in unison.
“It was just like you said,” Wolffe put his head in his hand, “Our brothers turned on the Jedi one day. It was those chips. There are rumors that someone gave an order and they all just started to slaughter the generals and padawan commanders. I don’t know, I was in the middle of fighting. We were knocked off of a rock spire. Most of my men were killed.”
“What happened to General Plo Koon?” that must have been Wolffe’s commanding officer.
“He was flying with the fighter pilots, I saw them shoot him down. It was Captain Jag and his squadron. They all fired on him.” He suddenly started crying. I had never seen one of us cry since I was a second year on Kamino. “General Plo…he…one minute, they were following him, the next minute, they just blew him to pieces. I got to a medical frigate and there were reports coming in from everywhere that the Jedi had turned against the clones and had been declared enemies of the Republic. We were told to shoot on sight since they were all so dangerous. Everyone was cheering as reports came in of Jedi that had been confirmed dead. Eventually I just stole a shuttle in all the chaos and ran.”
“But Count Dooku is dead. General Skywalker told me he was the one who made the clone army. I thought that he would be the one to activate the chips. Who else knew about the control chips? Was it Grievous?”
“Grievous was killed by General Kenobi. It was the last news I heard while I was on Cato Neimoidia. We were all cheering as we marched into battle. The war was over, Rex. That was before someone activated the chips. Who did that?”
Rex got really quiet. He knew, but he didn’t want to say. Finally, he looked at Wolffe, “I told Cody about this. I know he didn’t want to remove his chip, but do you know if he got out?”
“No, Rex. He was on Utapau when Grievous was killed. General Kenobi was confirmed dead.”
Rex’s eyes looked pained.
“Wolffe, what happened to General Skywalker? Did he get away?” Rex sounded desperate. He had said he and his general were very good friends. Like brothers. “Wolffe, tell me!”
“I don’t know…the Jedi Temple was burned. Some special agent of the Chancellor, Dark Somebody, I don’t know. He led an attack. No Jedi survived it.” He covered his face with his hands again. “It was the 501st, Rex, that’s what the reports said, they marched on the temple and killed everyone. Most of them died, too. I saw the news from Smuggler’s Moon.”
“No!” Rex slammed his fists on the wall. That was his unit, Rex had trained everyone in the 501st.
“Rex, you were right! You were right about everything!” Wolffe was shaking.
I backed out of the room. I couldn’t know their grief. I had barely known the Jedi. I didn’t really feel their loss. But to hear that my brothers had turned disloyal, that hurt, even if it was involuntary. Loyalty was the value that we clones were most proud to possess. Then one day, somebody made us into what we would find most repulsive. Most officers were reconciling what they’d done by saying the Jedi had become the enemy. But that couldn’t have been easy to believe deep down. We clones were not engineered to be stupid. Rex had told me before that the Jedi had almost always been the clones’ strongest supporters, even when many in the Republic treated them like dirt. I asked him when a Jedi had not been loyal to the clones, he said he really didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
Suu came back with some supplies to get Wolffe mended. I told her to give them some time. She and I sat outside the door and I kept my arm around her. “What happened?” she asked me.
“Disaster,” I sighed. I kissed her on the forehead. “Thank you for saving me.” I hugged her close for a long time.
Rex came out eventually, his eyes looked sunken and empty. “He’s asleep now,” he said slowly. “I don’t know if he’ll be alright. We’ll have to watch him pretty closely.”
Suu headed in, “You rest, Rex. I’ll take care of him now,” she said gently.
Rex stayed in the barn alone for days. He wouldn’t come out of the loft, even to eat. He just slept or seemed like it. I think he didn’t want anyone to see him like that. When he emerged, he was pretending that nothing was bothering him. He spent a lot of time reading.
Wolffe was sick. He was working through a heavy ryll habit as well as an addiction to some powerful sedatives that the Republic had given him. This guy seemed to have wanted to kill himself one way or another. But he had come to us, fought his way really, so he must not have wanted to die any more. I was surprised. I wondered what he had found to cling to that kept him going, he seemed to be such a mess.
He woke up one day, after the ragged days were past him, and he limped to the bathroom himself for water. He smiled when Suu came in and found him up. She called me. “Are you alright, Commander?” I asked.
“I guess I will be. Thanks to your help.” He was still gripping the sink like he might fall, but he remained standing. He kept smiling all the while, like he was having some kind of private joke. He went back to his bed and picked up his player pod. He flicked through it for a minute, “So, your son asked me something yesterday.” He looked down at the screen and picked out a song and put his earphone in on ear. “Why does a Wookiee have fur?”
Suu looked confused, “Why?”
“Because they’d look stupid with feathers,” he laughed. The joke was completely silly, Jek was only seven after all, but we laughed too.
Our brother Gregor turned up at the farm one day on a speeder bike that barely looked legal. He said he had won it in a boxing match. We never could figure out if there had been an actual match that the other guy was aware of or if Gregor had just punched someone and taken their bike. I don’t know if Gregor knew the difference.
He showed up and said that he was looking for Captain Rex, that some droid had told him where to go. His head scar was pretty jagged, which he said was from the droid removing his chip. He said he’d taken it out right before the Invasion of Coruscant and that he’d been travelling ever since, he had just boarded public transportation and left. He told the officials that he encountered that the purpose of his travel was ‘tourism’. Nobody had questioned it.
Rex said he didn’t know Gregor, but they both knew and trusted the droid. I swear they talked about that droid like it was a sentient.
Gregor ran afoul of Suu at the beginning. That first night at dinner.
“I really like Twi’leks,” Gregor looked at Suu when she brought out the plates.
“Thank you, Gregor.” Suu raised an eyebrow. There were lots of stereotypes about different species in the galaxy. Most of the ones about Twi’leks were pretty insulting. But he was attempting a compliment, so she was trying to not be offended.
“I used to know lots of Twi’leks on Coruscant.”
“Oh yeah.” Then he began to list his favorite Twi’lek strippers and professional girls. From the names it was obvious. They all sounded like euphemisms for body parts or intimate acts. Some of them made me blush. It was a long list.
Wolffe laughed hard when he went through the lineup. Rex read Gregor the riot act about ungentlemanly behavior.
I just kept my head down and ate. I mumbled, “I feel deprived that I’ve never been to Coruscant.” It was a joke, but my head got slapped pretty hard.
“Idiot!” Suu was so offended.
The next day, Gregor went out and came back with a bouquet of flowers he picked and gave them to Suu. He gave a speech that sounded like something Rex had made him memorize. “Sorry, M’Lady. I’m still a little rough from the war, I don’t know where my head is sometimes.” Suu was still wary of him, but was touched by the gesture. Gregor tried to help her as much as he could with the chores after that. Especially the dishes. He seemed to like washing dishes.
Suu liked Wolffe. Wolffe knew a lot of jokes and music. He’d take his player pod and find songs for us all to listen to. Shaeeah loved it. She’d sometimes dance on a chair. He and the kids would sing the songs together. Some of the lyrics were racy, so Suu told him to watch it around the kids. Wolffe actually spoke some Twi’leki. I was going to ask him where he learned it, but Rex told me it would be better not to if I wanted to stay on Suu’s good side.
Rex spent his time following news reports from the Core. Evidently, a friend of his, Commander Cody, was being set up as the poster boy in defense of the Jedi slaughter. Rex pretended it didn’t, but I knew how much it bothered him. He was obsessed with the trials. He said that public sentiment was turning against clones no matter how much the Imperial government supported them.
Another friend of his, a senator from Naboo, had died in an accident. She’d been pregnant, so the gossip columns had a field day trying to determine who the father had been. I saw some pictures, she was a really pretty girl. I asked if she’d been his girlfriend, but he denied it. Sure we can’t have kids, but there are artificial ways. He seemed shocked that I’d asked that.
News of the 501st was also distressing. Rex’s unit recruited new men to replace the catastrophic losses at the Jedi Temple, but it was put under the command of the Emperor’s special agent, somebody called Darth Vader. I saw a picture of the guy, some kind of cyborg Force warrior, I guess. The more Rex saw of the guy, the more he hated him. He used to do target practice with the printed pictures once he had read the articles. Or he’d let his baby eopie, Declan, eat them. At least he kept his sense of humor.
Then the trials ended. The news got quieter. The Empire seemed a lot further away. And a miraculous thing happened, my brothers started to heal. They started to look better. One night, not long after we were sitting on the porch. It was a really nice one. My brothers and I had built it together. We clones really like to feel productive and useful. I decided that for them, being busy might be therapeutic. To pass the time, I had set them to work. There were a lot of projects around the farm that I’d been meaning to get around to. We built some new water pumps, repaired the barn, cleared some new fields, built the porch. Rex was even reading about how to make the crops more productive and the animals healthier. When he set to doing something, he never went halfway, so Wolffe told me. Wolffe would take his old beat-up player pod and set on a task alone and he’d listen to music, singing to himself, while he worked and he’d be happy until the job was done. He wrote down stories on it sometimes, chuckling to himself as he remembered something funny. His singing voice wasn’t half bad, either. Gregor needed to be supervised or else he’d get off track. My kids helped him out a fair bit, they had the patience I lacked. Also, he played and joked with them, they thought he was really funny.
Anyway, we liked the porch. We’d sit there often at night and tell stories, just like I’d seen brothers do in other families. It made me feel almost like a normal sentient.
“So then she dared Oddball to try. He was such a freak! He comes out and says the tail kept getting in his way. So C.C. says, wait, Ithorian FEMALES don’t have tails. Oh, we were dying!” Wolffe was telling the filthiest story. We were laughing so hard, but it was actually making me blush.
Suu had come out to check what we all found so funny. She thought the better of it and just shook her head and said, “Idiots.”
Gareth drove up on his speeder bike, the sun was just setting. He took some papers out of the compartment and walked towards us, raising his goggles.
“Hey, Gareth, how’s the baby?” I waved him towards one of the chairs we had built. We had started building furniture with the leftover wood from the porch. We were drinking some kind of beverage that Rex was making from some of the grain we grew. It wasn’t half bad. Wolffe told me that Rex was always trying to make liquor out of things every chance he got. It was a personal hobby, I guessed. He was trying to learn how to distill the stuff. My wife had nearly killed him when he blew up the still and part of it broke a kitchen window. She made him build a shed out back for his ‘experiments’ after that.
“Good. Nisi is waiting, I can’t stay, I just wanted to drop off some news from town that Rex asked for,” his head tails twitched like he was nervous. Twi’leks are pretty expressive with those things. At the time, my pre-teen daughter was always using them to show her frustration or boredom. Gareth handed Rex the print-outs he’d gathered from the holo-net news. Rex started to read them as he patted Declan’s head. Declan followed him everywhere, Rex had helped birth him and had fed him with a bottle while he was small. The silly thing was sitting next to his chair as if it belonged there.
The war had been over for about six months, with the Republic reorganized into the Galactic Empire. A major battle had happened in the swamp district on our planet, but that was a hemisphere away. We found out a few weeks after that a Jedi general had been killed by her clone troopers in that battle. When my brothers heard about it, they were upset. They knew Neyo, the clone commander. Some of the other troopers, too. I recognized a few names from when we were growing up on Kamino, but no one really close to me. After the battle, the Separatist droids were wiped out. The soldiers left the planet and went back to Coruscant. That was it.
Where we were, some worried that our taxes would go up. Some hoped for public works to improve quality of life. We hoped that the economy would be good. We were farmers, so we were sure our crops, food and healing herbs, would be in high demand as the galaxy rebuilt. In truth, the Empire’s presence so far wasn’t felt any more than the Republic’s had been.
Gareth chatted a little with me and my brothers and then took off. He had three kids at home, so he didn’t have a lot of time. I looked up to the sky where the stars were starting to come out, the news didn’t really interest me.
“The trials are over.” Rex was angry.
“What?” Wolffe and Gregor looked up, worried.
“The clones involved in the Jedi deaths have been exonerated. They were found to be acting in service to the Republic. There’s even a picture of Cody.” He looked like he might throw up.
“So what will happen to them?” Wolffe asked.
“The Empire has officially commissioned any remaining clones in the new Stormtrooper corps.”
“What’s a Stormtrooper?” Gregor asked, looking up from a chair arm he was sanding. He went on without a shred of irony, “I mean, clone trooper, that term makes sense. We are clones and troopers. Are Stormtroopers actual storms?”
Rex just ignored Gregor’s eccentricity as usual. Watching the two of them interact was hilarious. “Says they have already started recruiting natural born soldiers to reform the army,” Rex furrowed his brow. His hair had started to go gray, he still shaved it really short, but he’d grown a beard that was also peppered with some white. He was six months younger than me, but looked older. His had been a rough life. “So that’s it. We will be allowed to die out for sure. A born army means no more clones. It’s like we never mattered.” Rex seemed to think of Fett clones as a people, a kind of tribe or something. He worried about things like our ‘legacy’. He was too serious. If he cared so much about leaving a legacy, I wondered, why he didn’t just go and find a girl and start a family? Sure, we couldn’t have natural kids, but adopted kids are yours just the same.
“What about the clones on Kamino? The ones not old enough to be enlisted?” Wolffe asked. “They just ordered another three million two years ago, those brothers are still small.”
“It doesn’t say. Maybe they’ll be sent to the new academies with other recruits.” Maybe not. When we were kids, the Kaminoans always said that if the Republic stopped paying for us, they would submerge our cloning facility. Our lives in that place had felt so senseless.
“So…should we go back?” Wolffe asked. He laughed nervously. I couldn’t ever tell if he was joking or not. We brothers were so conditioned to believe in duty, I think he was just saying what they were all thinking a little bit. I don’t know why I wasn’t thinking it. Evidently I had successfully undone all of my programming.
“We’d probably have to take demotions but maybe we will be assigned together.” Gregor had suffered two major head injuries in the war. He was just not right. Still, I thought, his conditioning was intact.
“Or we go to jail together,” Wolffe laughed, “Either way, I call top bunk!”
I shook my head silently. I didn’t believe that I was without honor because I didn’t want to do my military duty. If honor was what had made these guys so broken, I wanted no part of it. I looked at Rex. He was my only hope for some sanity.
“No,” he said and crossed his arms. He still looked somewhat nervous as he said it. The army was the only life he’d ever known. He had devoted himself to it honestly and whole heartedly. And it had let him down in every way. It must have been scary to have this all become real. He got more sure of himself. “Our duty was to the Republic. We swore an oath to the Republic. We have not broken our promise. The Republic doesn’t exist anymore. We’re free.” He had finally managed to reconcile what had happened with his code of honor. I was proud of him.
“But they’ll still feed us and give us a place to live?” Gregor scratched his shaggy head. I think he had lice, but Suu could never get him to sit still long enough to check him. It was like trying to get a hound to take medicine. Our doctors in the army had always taken care of us, he was a little clueless without them. The kids had to remind Gregor to take showers.
“They’re not giving us anything else. But, who wants anything they ever gave us, anyway. No more Republic Nutrition Rations.” He raised his cup.
“No more of that awful soap.” Wolffe chuckled.
“No more showers at all!” Gregor joked. At least, I hoped he was joking.
“So what do we do?” Wolffe asked.
“Anything we want to.”
So, I asked them what they dreamed of. I meant for them to tell me their ideas for the future. But they all told me things they had always wanted to try. Well, it was a start.
Wolffe wanted us brothers to go to the city with him. It was ten hours away, but we dragged Gareth and took his speeder. Now, city is a relative term. This ‘city’ only had about five thousand inhabitants, but there were places to go to have fun. Wolffe got us a room in a small hotel. We drank, we gambled. While Rex, Gareth, and I behaved ourselves with the women, Wolffe and Gregor had a time. I was horrified. And impressed.
Gregor demanded that we go to some amusement park off world. He had a bunch of credits that he had gotten somewhere. We couldn’t figure out how, one time he said he robbed a fueling station, another he said that he had won it playing sabacc. As soon as the kids heard about the park, they wanted to go too. We all ended up going. It was really fun.
Rex took me and Wolffe to a distillery. He was trying to hone his technique, I guess. Gregor had no interest, so Rex left him a long list of instructions for how to take care of Declan. Rex really had no sense of smell, though. Somebody should have told him that, but he just kept looking at his glass quizzically as the somellier described the drinks’ aromas, like he was wondering why he couldn’t taste anything but the burn of the liquor. Wolffe and I found it hilarious. Rex just frowned at us. Wolffe did what he called the Kenobi Impression, “So juvenile.”
Finally, I got around to asking them what their dreams were.
“I think I want to move back to the city, the real city. I was in Coruscant a lot during the war and it was always a lot of fun,” Wolffe said.
“Do you still have friends there?” I asked.
“Eh, even if I don’t, I make friends easily. Besides, there are tons of us there in the Stormtrooper corps. I wouldn’t even stand out in a crowd. Hiding in plain sight, you know.”
I thought he was crazy. But he did get bored easily, I could see how he missed excitement.
I asked Gregor. He said he had decided to stay with me. He said he liked being on a farm.
Rex was being quieter. “What will you do? Maybe now you’ll have time find a girl. Adopt some kids.” I asked.
“Will you settle here?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll travel. I went to a lot of places during the war. It would be interesting to see them now.”
“We should start traditions, you know," I suggested, "I thought I might be the only clone to ever get married, but who knows, we could have three new weddings before long. You could have the ceremonies and receptions here. We’d get cake.”
“Maybe. It's hard, though. You got lucky, but it's easy to get hurt,” Rex sighed. I could tell he was feeling very old right then.
“Oh cheer up, Rex, I’m sure there’s some crazy girl in this galaxy who’ll want you.”
He smiled at me and nodded. We were all so full of hope.
They were with us a while before they had to run from the Empire again. They did it to protect me, so that I’d never be found. They knew what I had was important. I was the only Fett clone in the galaxy that was happy, and that was something they felt had to be kept safe. By the time they went to Seelos, they were different guys, though. I don’t know if they ever got the lives they hoped for, but they certainly became something other than the slave soldiers they were before. I am still waiting to see them again. I hope that someday we might have those weddings and cakes. Maybe meet their kids.
So that is my legacy to our people. Our creators and taught us how to be obedient, our trainers taught us how to be soldiers, the Republic taught us how to serve. But I, an inconsequential, indistinguishable light infantry nobody, taught some of us how to live as free men.
I hear from Wolffe now and again. He sends short notes. He said they were fine. Still finding things to bicker about. Enemies and friends. Brothers.