Cody leaves the Council Chambers, disquieted by how out of their depth they are. He knows there is no replacement for General Kenobi, Yoda was right on that. But they can’t even manage to fill some of his responsibilities. Who is to take command of the whole division? Who is going to lead the 212th itself? Who’s going to keep Skywalker in line?
There are no options.
Maybe... no . He promised Obi-Wan he wouldn’t ask.
His comm chirps with a dozen messages when he turns it on. Before he can begin checking, Rex grabs his arm and hauls him toward the shipyard.
Cody rips himself free. “Are you trying to get decommissioned?”
“Yell at me later. Kix wants a follow-up.”
Cody doesn’t bother with his messages. They’ll all be cryptic bullshit. The two of them don’t say anything as they make the trip up to The Resolute . The silence continues until they reach the medbay. It’s Kix who opens for them. He ushers them inside and shuts the door before re-setting the jammer.
“Where’s--” Cody’s question dies in his mouth as he spots York on the operating table. “What the fuck?”
Kix throws his hands up, either in surrender or as a blockade, but either way it keeps Rex and Cody where they are. “Will you promise to listen before you fly off the handle?”
“Yes,” Cody says.
Rex’s grudging agreement comes a beat later.
Kix takes a deep breath and ushers them over. York is asleep, a shaved patch of his head exposing a neat line of stitches. Cody opens his mouth but Kix holds up a hand. “You promised.”
Shit. Cody sits heavily in the chair next to York’s bed. He clasps his brother’s hand in both of his and bows his head over it. “Tell me.”
“You freaked us out,” Kix says. “After you two left, York asked me to run the same scan on him. There was no flashing, but I remembered where your abnormality was. He had one too.”
“Had?” Cody asks.
Kix holds out a metal tray with a tiny sliver of something in it. “He knew you wanted yours out. He told me to do it on him first in case we needed them to live or something. You aren’t allowed to yell at him when he wakes up, Commander. He did what any brother would do.”
“Do we know what it is?”
Kix shrugs. “It’s data storage of some kind, but I don’t have anything that can read it.”
“Data storage?” Rex asks.
The Jedi are traitors to the Republic. Eliminate the traitors. Cody doesn’t allow himself to be sick again. “I’m taking it with me. And as soon as York’s in the clear, you’re taking mine out.”
“Commander--” Kix’s protest is interrupted when Rex lays down in the bed next to York’s. “Scan me.”
Kix shakes his head. “You don’t think…” He trails off, but Cody doesn’t pick up the thought.
Did Jango make them to kill the Jedi, his final revenge? Did the Sith? Does it even matter? If that tiny chip can control them, he bets there’s one in every brother. How do they get them out without attracting attention? He takes a deep breath. They don’t even know what the chip is yet. First, identify the problem. Then, solve it.
“Shit,” Kix says and Cody’s stomach plummets.
“I’ve got it too?” Rex asks.
“I think it’s safe to assume we all have it,” Cody answers. “Is Echo on board? If there’s anyone who can figure out weird tech, it’s him.” He glances at Kix and Rex. “I know this is a lot to ask, but this stays quiet. Just us.”
“What do you think is on that?” Kix asks.
“What did it whisper to you?” Rex wants to know.
“We’re bringing in Echo but no one else,” Cody says. “No Jedi.”
Rex sits up, ripping the nodes off his skin. “Now would be a damn good time to have your Jedi on board.”
Cody peers at the tiny chip again. “I want Echo to take a look at this. If it’s what I think, I will bring the orb to Obi-Wan myself.”
“Oh, fuck,” Rex says.
They crowd around Echo as he analyzes the chip. Cody didn’t tell him what it is or where they found it. He just handed it over and asked him what he thought. Echo clearly knows something’s up, because Rex is pacing, Kix is fretting, and York is still unconscious on the medbed.
“Anything yet?” Cody asks.
Echo glances up from his study. “All due respect, sir, you’re making me nervous.”
Cody moves to York’s side and takes up vigil there. Rex’s boots continue to click with each step he takes. He could walk silently, the fact that he’s not means he’s proving some kind of point.
York wakes up which is a welcome distraction. Kix hovers over him instead, and Cody asks what each of the results mean.
“He’s good,” Kix says. “Perfectly healthy.”
“This is weird,” Echo says and everyone’s attention shifts again. Kix is so distracted he doesn’t even scold York from moving off his bed. “This is a list of orders.”
“Orders?” Rex stops his pacing.
“Yeah, like stand down, target Dooku--don’t need that one anymore, heh--oh.” Echo looks over at Cody. “Commander, this is bad.”
“The Jedi are traitors to the Republic?” Cody guesses.
Echo’s eyes are wide. “Eliminate the threat. Order 66. Commander, what is this?”
York touches the neat line of stitches on his head.
“Keep reading,” Cody says, refusing to let panic overtake him. If he starts panicking, he won’t stop. “Is there anything else we can use?”
“Protect the supreme chancellor. It… shit .” Echo tosses the chip on the ground as if it’s a live grenade. No, he’s too well-trained for that. He tosses it like it’s Crys’s codpiece. “Why would the Chancellor want to kill the Jedi? Why would he want any of this? What is this?”
Cody sits heavily on York’s medbed. “It’s a control chip. And it’s in every one of our heads.”
Silence meets his proclamation.
It’s Rex who breaks it by slamming his fist into the wall.
“No,” Cody says, because Rex can’t fall apart. If they fall apart, they lose. They need to be rational, they need to be in control, and they need a plan.
Rex grabs Kix. “I want it out of me. Now. No one controls me.”
Kix looks over at Cody, his eyes wide.
Cody takes one deep breath and then another. If the Chancellor is behind this, they need to be careful. If they spook him before the chips are out of all the brothers’ heads...Cody takes another breath. “Okay. We’re going to leave this room long enough for Rex to comm General Windu and tell him he’s locking me in a room until I agree to help them with their Kenobi problem. And then we’re locking ourselves in here until Kix has de-chipped each of us.”
“And then?” Rex prompts.
“And then, once I don’t have a fucking control chip in my head, we’ll plan on how to save the rest of us. We’re soldiers, and we’re damn good ones, but we choose what orders we follow.”
When Cody comes to, he only has a moment to wonder how long he’s expected to stay in bed for before Kix comes over.
“It was a success with all three of you. You’re the first awake.”
“How long until I can move around?”
Normally, Kix would scold him for being a difficult patient, but this isn’t a normal situation. Kix hands Cody a ration bar. “Eat this and then I’ll let you walk around the room and then we’ll evaluate again.”
“Do you want me to read in another medic?” Cody asks. “None of us can de-chip you.”
“Discuss it with your Jedi first. I don’t like the idea of it in me.” Kix’s expression is horrified at best. “But I can wait until you have a plan. I know the importance of doing this right.”
Cody glances at Rex, his expression still hard even while unconscious and at Echo looking frail on his medbed. “We will do right by our brothers.”
Once Rex and Echo are awake, they reiterate the importance of keeping this a secret and then Cody goes to Coruscant on his own. He passes through the Temple easily and part of him wonders if no one gets in his way because the Council cleared the path to the vaults.
It’s almost an insult to his skills how easy it is to retrieve the orb and put it in in his pack. He feels guilty tucking it away. He promised he wouldn’t ask Obi-Wan to do this but with what they discovered about the chips...He’ll tell Obi-Wan about the chips and then let him decide. Bringing the orb will simply make things quicker if he says yes and help sell the cover story to General Windu.
If. Cody scoffs. He knows what Obi-Wan’s reaction will be. And yet, he has to do this. They will lose the war if he doesn’t. The Jedi will die. He and his brothers will lose themselves.
He shows up at Bail’s apartments far later than is polite, and the protocol droid scolds him for it. Cody slams his fist on its head and it whirs at him before spinning away.
“Well,” Bail says, tying a sash around his robe. “I suppose I don’t have to ask if you’ve come with good news.”
Obi-Wan meets them in the living room in a robe of his own. It’s clearly one of Bail’s because it’s too big on him and far nicer than Obi-Wan would ever allow himself to own. Cody thrusts his hand toward Obi-Wan, the tiny chip resting in the palm of his hand.
“What is it?” Obi-Wan asks.
Cody glances at Bail and waits for the nod which means the jammer is running before he answers. “It’s a control chip. They were implanted in our heads.”
“Oh gods,” Bail says.
“There are orders on there. Orders which, once issued, we’d have to follow.”
“What kinds of orders?” Bail asks.
“Order 66 is to kill all Jedi on sight.”
Bail grows pale.
“They demand obedience to the Supreme Chancellor. These chips will make us betray our Jedi. They’ll turn us into meat clankers. Me, Rex, York, and Echo are de-chipped. Kix knows about it, but none of us could remove his. We need a plan. They cannot remain in the troopers’ heads, but we can’t spook the Chancellor.”
Bail drags a hand down his face. He isn’t outright panicking, but he looks overwhelmed. Cody understands the feeling. They need someone steady, someone who can stand in the midst of a storm and hold their ground.
“I’ll take the orb now,” Obi-Wan says.
“What?” Bail asks.
Cody doesn’t pretend he didn’t bring it with him. “You don’t have to.”
“You need him.”
Cody pulls the cloth-wrapped orb from his bag. If Obi-Wan is offering then Cody isn’t breaking his promise. Right?
Obi-Wan unwraps the orb. It’s a dark red, almost black around the edges. “If I don’t remember what’s happened during this period, I expect you to tell me.” He looks toward Bail. “Thank you for being a friend to me during this time. And you, Cody. Thank you for allowing me to be me.” He offers them a teary smile before he places his hands on the orb.
There’s a bright flash of light, Cody should have remembered this from last time and shut his eyes. When he can see again, General Kenobi is sitting in front of him in Bail Organa’s dressing robe. Cody’s never been so glad to see his general’s beard before in his life.
“So,” General Kenobi says. “Chancellor Palpatine is the Sith master, and there’s a control chip in every brother’s head.” He clasps his hands in front of him. “Let’s plan.”
General Kenobi is working things out on the Jedi side. He told Cody the broad strokes of what he’s going to do, in part because it overlaps with Cody’s mission, and in part because this is how they work best, collaboratively, no secrets between them. There wasn’t even a second where Cody believed his general knew about the chips. They would have been removed or disabled long before now.
His general hadn’t known, Cody hadn’t known, but now they both know, and they’re going to make this right. How his general is going to convince almost the entire population of the Jedi Temple to take a tour of The Resolute , Cody isn’t quite sure, but knows he will. They don’t call him the Negotiator for nothing. He’s sure by the end of General Kenobi’s speech, the masters and knights will volunteer to carry the crechelings to the infamous battleship for a tour.
Cody has the more difficult job. Because while his general is working the Jedi side, he’s working the vod side. His first conversation is the easier of the two. He preps Ghost Company for what might be their final mission and promises a more detailed debrief once General Kenobi meets up with them.
And then he seeks out Rex.
“Repeat that,” Rex demands, the tremor in his hands the only hint of the anger bubbling under his skin.
“You’re in charge of the de-chipped brothers outside of Ghost.”
“On The Resolute .” Rex’s voice is emotionless and there’s sign number two.
Cody’s seen Rex rip droids apart with his bare hands when he’s reached this level of fury. He’s seen him go toe-to-toe with Skywalker and almost win. The fact that Rex has given him two, obvious, warnings is a sign of respect. If it were any other circumstance, Cody would heed the signs and back down.
But this isn’t any other circumstance. General Kenobi is going to lead Ghost Company and the Jedi High Council against the Chancellor of the Republic who also happens to be a Sith lord. If they’re successful...well, Cody isn’t pushing Rex because he’s planning for success. If they fail, The Resolute will be the only safe place in the galaxy for Jedi.
He knows how many brothers are on the ship, knows it isn’t nearly enough, but they can’t risk de-chipping more. He and General Kenobi sat in Bail’s apartment and discussed it with hollow practicality. The only reason Cody didn’t punch his general as he explained how they couldn’t risk de-chipping more brothers is because his general also said they couldn’t warn any of the Jedi for the same reason. The more people who knew what could happen, the more likely it would happen.
If they fail, Jedi and brothers alike will suffer.
“Correct,” Cody says.
“I belong with you.” Rex’s anger turns briefly to passion, not quite pleading, but it skirts that edge as well.
There is no brother Cody would trust more at his side, but if this goes badly, they can’t afford to lose them both. Maybe Rex will never forgive Cody for being the one on the ground in this final confrontation, but he’ll live, and for that, Cody would make this same decision every time.
“You belong where you’re told to be,” Cody says, his own voice flat now, all his emotions carefully ironed out.
Rex’s spine stiffens as he recognizes the change. Anger flares up, a flash in his eyes, a curl to his lips. “Is that an order ?”
Around them, brothers who don’t know the plan, stop and stare. Rex has never shown insubordination like this before, and even Cody, who knew this conversation wouldn’t go well, didn’t expect it to go this poorly.
“It is,” Cody replies evenly. “An order from the Marshall Commander of the 212th Attack Battalion and second-in-command to High General Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
A hush falls over the room. Cody’s never pulled rank like this before and honestly, he isn’t doing it now for the reasons they all think. Yes, this is an order. But it isn’t an insidious one, planted in their heads. It isn’t from Palpatine. It’s an order from Cody, from General Kenobi, people Rex can trust.
“Well.” Rex’s mouth twists and Cody knows he won’t like what he has to say next. “Good soldiers always follow orders, don’t they Commander?”
Rex turns on his heel and stomps away. He misses Cody’s sharp inhale and the way his knees buckle before his body decides it will hold him up after all. The barb is deserved and it hits home, as all of Rex’s shots do.
“Commander.” Wooley is at Cody’s side in a moment, and he shoots a dark look at Rex’s retreating back. “I can--”
“It’s fine,” Cody says which is a lie, because nothing is fine, but maybe, if he and General Kenobi finally have some fucking luck, it will be. “Prepare our company to move out.”
Kix and Sawbones are already up on The Resolute , they’ve been working full time to get as many brothers de-chipped as possible, a mix of the 501st and the 212th. It was easy to spread the rumors of a virus going through the brothers, some kind of sickness born from the exhaustion and malnutrition of constant war. No one’s asking questions about why so many troopers have confined themselves to quarters for a few days.
It isn’t enough.
Cody takes a slow, measured breath. Panic won’t help anything. There’s a select few on The Resolute who know about the chips. Rex is the commanding officer if anything happens to Cody, and he knows his brother is too angry to realize it now, but he had to be the one. If the Republic falls and the Jedi are ordered to be executed, Rex is the one who will shelter the survivors. Maybe one day he would even strike out against Palpatine’s vision of the future and win.
The whole Ghost Company knows. It’s integral to General Kenobi’s plan. It means Wooley knows the meaning behind Rex’s words, knows how they were intended to hurt. He and Rex will patch things up later. For now, there’s one final mission to carry out.
General Kenobi leads the Jedi High Council and Ghost Company from the Temple to the Chancellor’s seat of power. Even though they’re on Coruscant, it’s unmistakable that this is General Kenobi and not Master Kenobi or Councilor Kenobi. His strides through the halls of the senate are long, purposeful, eating up distance as he pursues his goal with single-minded focus.
They don’t encounter a single spot of resistance. There are plenty of senators, aides, even droids who take note of their procession, but no one stops them. Cody’s curious, wonders if Palpatine is that confident in his own abilities, Cody’s fought against Grievous, against Dooku, he’s seen the footage of Maul against Kenobi and Jinn. They were all opponents strengthened by the dark side, but none of them faced a contingent like this.
It is General Kenobi who throws open the doors to the senate floor. Palpatine, who is apparently more dramatic than Skywalker and Kenobi put together, hovers above them in his pod. He’s about twenty feet in front of them, five feet above them, enough to make him seem as though he’s standing at a podium. As if he’s a god, amused as those who seek to defy him.
His smile is sickly sweet. There are lines, deep wrinkles on his face there weren’t there before. He knows why they’ve come. There won’t be any element of surprise.
Chancellor Palpatine’s gaze seeks out Cody, finding him even though the brothers all wear their armor. Fear trickles down his spine. If Palpatine can pick him out of a line-up then he must have some kind of interest in Cody. Cody’s hand drops to his blaster, and the Sith lord’s smile grows.
“Is this an invasion?” Chancellor Palpatine asks. “A coup?”
“You know what this is,” General Kenobi answers. He steps out in front of the line of Jedi, electing himself both spokesman and target. It is General Kenobi at the front, the rest of the Jedi in a line behind him, evenly spaced, and then behind them are the members of Ghost Company.
“I thought you were a charmer,” Palpatine says. “Where are your manners, Negotiator ?”
“Forgive me. Shall we start with introductions? I am, as you say, the Negotiator, but more commonly known as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Behind me are the illustrious members of the Jedi High Council, and behind them is Ghost Company, one of our best squads. And you? You’re Darth…” General Kenobi trails off, waiting for Palpatine to finish for him.
Palpatine laughs and lightly claps his hands as if General Kenobi is a tooka performing a trick. “Darth Sidious. How did you find out?”
His open admittance isn’t a good sign. It means he doesn’t expect any of them to make it out of this room alive. There’s nervous shifting from the brothers and even some of the Jedi. It was one thing for General Kenobi to sit them down and lay out the evidence (he told Cody he brought a slide show) and quite another for the Sith lord to admit it himself.
“Dooku told me,” General Kenobi answers. “I didn’t believe it at first, but once the evidence began piling up…” He trails off with a shrug. It’s the truth, in the briefing before they left he stressed how important the truth was once they were in a room with Palpatine. He would be able to sense lies, and the Force might even warn him of danger.
Darth Sidious sighs. “Good help is so hard to find these days.”
“Enough.” General Kenobi pats his lightsaber as if to make sure it’s still clipped to his waist. “We are here to stop you. Will you surrender willingly?”
There’s a moment of silence, before Sidious throws his head back and laughs . It’s a chilling, grating sound, like the scrape of armor against durasteel. Cody wants to raise his weapon, wants to fill the Sith in front of them with blaster bolts, but he holds his fire. They haven’t been given the order yet.
“No.” The laughter abruptly ends, and Darth Sidious finds Cody again, smiling as if responding to the thoughts in his head.
“No?” General Kenobi affects confusion. “You will challenge us? I know the dark side offers temptations and delusions, but you can’t possibly believe you’re a match for all of us.”
“I don’t need to be,” Sidious responds cryptically. “You know, I planned for this confrontation occurring a few years from now. There are adjustments and sacrifices I will have to make.” His gaze slides to Skywalker who goes rigid at the attention. “You would have been a great asset. But what is it you’re so fond of saying? No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”
General Kenobi shifts, placing himself firmly between Sidious and Skywalker. It doesn’t matter, because the Sith has the height advantage. It’s a show of support, and one Sidious laughs off.
“Do you know how carefully I lined up the pieces to ensure when I brought about the end of the Jedi Order I would be cheered for it? I schemed, I planned, I calculated. And now you’ve marched in here with ‘sabers and blasters and done all my work for me. When you are dead, it will be pathetically easy to convince the Republic you were traitors. All those senators you walked by in the hall? They’ll testify against you. They might even cry. Your pride will be your downfall.”
Sidious taps his wrist, and activates his communicator. With a flick of his fingers, General Kenobi causes the thing to spark and hiss.
“You!” Sidious snarls. He throws a hand out and blue lightning streaks out and hits General Kenobi straight on. The other Jedi draw their lightsabers but before any of them can even move, Sidious rasps, “Execute Order 66.”
As one, Cody and his brothers draw their weapons. They each put a target in their sights. The Jedi--the traitors --turn in confusion. Their eyes are wide, their confusion leaks into the Force. Ghost Company fires.
General Kenobi, empty handed as the lightning brings him to his knees, throws his hands forward. The blaster bolts pick up speed and bury themselves in their target before anyone else can react.
Sidious falls to the floor of his pod, holes sizzling in his chest and head where he was hit with a full round. With Sidious down, the lightning ceases, and General Kenobi staggers to his feet. Ozone, blaster discharge, the rot of death all hang heavy in the air. Cody turns on the environmental controls on his bucket. Around him, his brothers do the same.
The Jedi Council use the Force to draw the Chancellor’s pod down to them. Master Yoda investigates the Sith’s body as the rest of the Council members hover, lightsabers still engaged, ready to react if needed.
“Dead, he is,” Master Yoda proclaims.
Cody figures he’s earned himself a moment or two of unprofessionalism and he sighs in relief. On the private channel, the rest of his company do the same or cheer. General Kenobi turns to him, the same relief on his face as there is on Cody’s. His hair, the wisps which aren’t tied back, dance in the air as if still charged with electricity. His smile freezes as his body tightens up, seizing for a moment before everything unclenches again and he falls to the floor.
“Fuck,” General Kenobi says. He stays on his back, staring up at the ceiling. “I think there are lingering side effects to Force lightning.”
General Windu offers a hand to General Kenobi but he refuses to take it. He looks at Skywalker who seems confused for a moment before he offers his hand, the one covered in a glove. General Kenobi grasps it and allows Skywalker to help him to his feet. A moment later, his body is seized with another tremor. This one buckles his knees but doesn’t bring him down.
“To the Halls of Healing with you,” General Windu says. He looks back at Master Yoda and Sidious’s body. “But you’re going to give me a full explanation. You know what Order 66 is.”
“It’s how I knew Palpatine was the Sith lord.”
Skywalker frowns. “You said Dooku told you. It was the truth, I felt it.”
“Oh, Dooku did tell me.” General Kenobi grins, reveling in his pocket of chaos, which is the real sign everything is going to be alright. “On Geonosis, the first time, when we started the war. I didn’t believe him. I might have forgotten to mention that bit to Sidious.”
General Kenobi grins and allows Skywalker to shuffle him forward. It’s only a step, because then he turns back to Cody and the rest of Ghost Company. “Come with me. Please. I need to be evaluated, but--” he pauses, swallows back words Cody would give his favorite blaster to hear. “I want to thank you. And, for a small time at least, I need the reassurance you’re okay.”
Cody, who hasn’t spent all this time around Jedi, and his general in particular, and remained an idiot, opens his mental connection to the man. They don’t have a bond like him and Skywalker or even him and Vos, but Cody’s learned his general can pick up thoughts if they’re directed at him with enough force.
We love you too .
General Kenobi’s shock would be funny except for the way it breaks Cody’s heart. This man who throws himself into danger headfirst, who will risk dying if it saves someone else a scratch, who loves fiercely and completely even if he won’t ever admit it, somehow doesn’t understand how much he’s loved in return. Or why.
“Halls of Healing,” Cody reminds him. He gestures and his company fall in line with him. They’ll escort their general there and stay by his side until he throws them out.
General Kenobi’s willingness to stay in the Halls is contingent on all important meetings happening there as well. He refuses to be kept out of the loop which means he has a live-feed of the ‘net as Coruscant and the wider galaxy digests the news of their Chancellor being a traitor. It’s Master Yoda and General Windu who are the face of the Jedi after they’ve been briefed on the full extent of Sidious’s plans.
General Kenobi, with Cody’s assistance, explained what Order 66 was. Due to the...everything which is suddenly happening all at once, General Windu ominously told General Kenobi there would be a full report required later, including why he withheld this information from the Council.
General Kenobi doesn’t seem too concerned which might be because there is finally some gods-damned hope in the galaxy or because Healer Che has given him the good drugs.
Once the Council clears out, it’s Ghost, the healers, and Skywalker remaining, and there’s no point in putting off the inevitable.
“We should contact The Resolute ,” Cody says.
General Kenobi nods even as Skywalker’s face passes through a range of emotions. “ Ahsoka ,” he finally breathes. “You made her go with the others. She was so mad at me.”
“Better angry and alive than possibly dead,” General Kenobi says.
Cody understands that logic, but he’s not sure the others will.
Because General Kenobi insists on being a part of everything, the reunion takes place in his healing room. Commander Tano is accompanied by Rex, and while she’s annoyed at being told where to go, Rex’s fury hasn’t abated a bit.
“Is it done?” Rex demands, his voice clipped.
Skywalker seems alarmed at Rex’s mood and then surprised he knows what happened, but Cody answers before the Jedi can. “It’s done.” He doesn’t say we’re safe because it isn’t guaranteed yet, but it’s possible. It may even be likely.
“Then I resign my position in the GAR,” Rex says.
Skywalker’s mouth falls open and Tano gasps, but it’s General Kenobi’s reaction Rex is looking for. The man is weary and looks small tucked into his medbed, wearing the floral printed gown which makes everyone look far from frail than they truly are.
General Kenobi’s caught by another lightning-tremor. His body tightens, and his face twists in pain. Skywalker rushes to his side even though there’s nothing he can do. Commander Tano looks from her grandmaster to her master and then searches the room for someone to reassure her. Normally, it would fall to Rex, but he’s still staring down General Kenobi, too absorbed in his own struggle to notice Tano’s.
It takes a minute and an ice cube for General Kenobi to say, “Your service was commendable and indispensable. Your resignation is accepted.”
Cody isn’t sure his general even has the authority to do that, but his contemplation is cut short when pain blossoms in his face. A moment too late, he realizes Rex charged him and then punched him in the fucking face.
There’s mass pandamonium for a moment. Cody staggers backward, pain pulsing in his nose. Something wet touches his fingers and-- fucking hell . Rex broke his nose which means blood and probably an impressive shiner or two later.
Skywalker is shouting, Tano is panicking, Ghost is ready to fucking court martial Rex, and Cody’s still trying to get his bearings and is no help.
“Enough!” General Kenobi’s voice ripples through the room and everything stops.
Rex rips himself free from Waxer and Boil and steps toward Cody, but no closer as if he knows the room would stop him. “I’m done taking orders. You’re lucky I didn’t give you another fucking scar. You froze me out! When you needed me the most, you banished me!”
This isn’t where Cody wanted to hash this out, but he doesn’t have a choice. He lowers his hands from his face. “I needed you,” Cody agrees. Rex’s expression doesn’t soften as if he knows Cody isn’t taking his side. “I needed you on The Resolute .”
“You could’ve what?” Cody demands, his own fury spiking, unleashed after weeks, hells, years , of repression. “You could have died at my side if our plan didn’t work? You could have been another unnamed casualty of the Jedi insurrection? Or, maybe this is what you wanted, you could have been an identified traitor to the Republic. CT-7567, alongside CC-2224, and the rest of the company, our designations listed as a warning.”
Rex flinches but Cody isn’t done.
“If things went south down there, your presence wouldn’t have helped anything.” Cody takes a minute satisfaction in Rex’s punched out noise, a pained gasp which maybe hurts as much as Cody’s fucking nose. “But up there?” Cody softens his tone now. “If the Sith lord slaughtered us, declared the Jedi the enemy of the Republic, and went through with his takeover of the galaxy, you were in command of a star destroyer with the hope and future of the galaxy.”
Rex looks away.
“All of the Jedi in the Temple were there with you, all of the de-chipped brothers. It wasn’t a lot but with you leading, it would be enough. You would find a way. I--” Cody’s getting choked up which is a bitch of a thing with a broken nose. “It wasn’t a punishment.”
“You fucking idiot!” Rex grabs him by the shoulders and shakes him. “You think I’d want to be alive when you weren’t? You think I’d want the burden of saving the fucking galaxy? You selfish fucking--” He touches their foreheads to one another, not as gently as he could have, but it’s still an offer of forgiveness, or perhaps acceptance.
“You would have hated it.” Cody’s voice is barely a whisper, but he knows the entire room can probably hear him. “You would have been pissed at me and deservedly so. But you would have survived. You’re strong enough to live on spite and fury and you would have made Sidious’s life hell.”
“Never again,” Rex says. “No more orders. No more sacrifice. We’re going to live .”
Healer Che comes in to check on General Kenobi, and she throws her hands up when she spots Cody. “Do I want to know?”
“It’s handled,” General Kenobi says, because he’s protecting the brothers, even when he’s laid up. “But Cody should have a bed next to mine.”
“It’s a broken nose,” Cody says.
“It can be more,” Rex threatens.
This appears to be the last straw for the rest of Ghost Company. It’s Wooley who reaches Rex first, hauling him away from Cody. “You’re done here.” At his nod, Waxer and Boil strip Rex of his weapons. “Civilians don’t have clearance for military weaponry.”
“Stop,” Cody says, to both parties. “We will sort out what being a civilian brother means later. We…” He trails off. “Can we even be civilians?”
General Kenobi holds his hand out. “Someone give me a comm.”
“You’re supposed to be resting,” Healer Che scolds.
“Give me a comm, and I’ll evacuate most of the room.”
Healer Che hands him her personal comm which is a true testament to General Kenobi’s negotiating skills.
His general keeps a careful eye on the brothers as he makes his call.
“You have reached the office of Senator Organa,” a familiar voice answers.
“Bail, I know it’s you,” General Kenobi says.
The Senator drops the act immediately. “This isn’t your comm. I assume all the hubbub means you were successful. What’s our next step?”
General Kenobi looks over the room. He has a minor tremor and looks exhausted after it passes, as if the war and the Sith and everything has finally caught up to him. “Anakin and Ahsoka are escorting Rex to your apartments. He is the first trooper to resign from the army in the wake of what’s happened.”
There’s a long pause, but they can hear some muffled shuffling. “I’ll get the team over here. I assume we’re ready to move out into the open?”
“Yes. Start mobilizing our allies. With Dooku and Sidious dead, the war will end. And we will pass this bill. Rex is a civilian now, Bail. He will need a place to stay.” Like Obi-Wan did when he was adrift .
“Of course. He is welcome with any of us. As are you. The clones aren’t the only ones who will need to determine what their life means without the war.”
“I am a Jedi,” General Kenobi says which means Bail was offering him a home if he left the Order. Cody’s chest squeezes tightly at the thought but if anyone deserves a break from this shit, it’s his general. “And when the war ends, the Jedi’s true work will begin. We were never supposed to be generals or warriors, Bail. We are peacekeepers, relief workers. We’re going to be in high demand.”
“Obi-Wan.” There’s a wealth of care and worry in Bail’s voice.
General Kenobi seems uncomfortable with everyone in the room bearing witness to this. “We didn’t notice him right under our noses, Bail. He has been carefully and methodically dismantling the Republic. It will be a long road, setting it to rights.” He clears his throat. “Rex, Anakin, and Ahsoka are on their way.” He gives the three a pointed look. “There may be others as the news travels.”
“Our doors will be open to any who need a place to stay,” Bail promises. “May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan.”
“And you as well,” Obi-Wan says. He hands the comm back to Healer Che. “Thank you, Vokara. Anakin, Ahsoka, Rex, you should depart for Bail’s apartments once you’re ready. Ghost Company, thank you for your assistance this morning. All the medics of the 212th and 501st are running a full-scale de-chipping operation. If you would like to report to either The Negotiator or The Resolute , I’m sure your brothers would appreciate seeing a friendly face when they come out of surgery.”
Just like that, the room empties until it’s only General Kenobi, Healer Che, and Cody. He allows himself to be ushered into the bed next to his general even though a broken nose hardly requires this kind of attention. Healer Che sets it for him which brings back a fresh wave of pain, but she offers him a smear of bacta which will hopefully keep his eyes from swelling up.
“I want both of you to rest,” she says. “I’m going to make my rounds but call for me if the tremors get worse.”
“Of course,” General Kenobi says, missing how she directed the request to Cody.
Once she leaves, the room seems empty and quiet. Cody stares at the ceiling and can’t quite believe they won. The Sith lord is dead, the Council is already preparing a massive recall in order to de-chip all the troopers, and their team of senators is going to push through the citizenship bill. There is peace on the horizon.
And then he recalls the end of his general’s conversation with Bail. Even with the war over, his general won’t rest. “You don’t have to travel the road alone.”
General Kenobi turns to him, his eyes glassy with whatever pain meds Healer Che gave him.
“Setting the galaxy to rights,” Cody explains. “I’m your second-in-command.”
“They will disband the army.”
“Then I’m your second.” Cody isn’t sure how much clearer he can state this. “We were bred for war, sir. It’s what we were raised to do, to fight and die, for our Jedi generals.”
Guilt pours off General Kenobi, his usual iron-tight control weakened.
“But you showed us, or me at least, something different. What you talked about earlier; peacekeeping, relief work, if that’s what you’ll do when the war is over, I will do it with you. We were bred for war, but we’re capable of growth. Let me grow with you.”
“You are a far better,” General Kenobi swallows thickly, “second than I deserve.”
Cody reaches his hand out to rest on General Kenobi’s arm.
“It’s Obi-Wan,” he says.
“Once the war is over,” Cody agrees. He feels light, floaty which at first he thought was the adrenaline crash but now, as a pleasant numbness eases the pain from his face, he realizes is something different. “Are you siphoning your drugs into my IV, sir?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he says.
Cody thinks about protesting, he has a broken nose and his general is suffering the aftershocks of Sith torture but, as he learned throughout his time at General Kenobi’s side, this is how the man is. Generous, selfless, offering what he needs to those who only have a want.
He lightly squeezes General Kenobi’s arm, calling him out on the lie, but also thanking him. He’s looking forward to the end of the war, especially now that he’s sure he’ll see the end of it. Instead of destroying, he’ll have a chance to build. Instead of losing brothers, he’ll find them - new homes, new lives, new futures.
He’s sure some things will stay the same. His general - Obi-Wan, then - will overexert himself. He’ll need a minder to make sure he eats instead of giving his rations away and to make sure he sleeps instead of staying up just one more hour in order to help those around him.
General Kenobi scoffs quietly, fading quickly as the stress of the day catches up to him. “As if you are any better.”
“We’ll look out for each other,” Cody promises.
“Indeed, we shall.”
Finally, his general’s eyes fall closed and his breathing evens out as he gives in to the sleep he so desperately needs. Cody fixes their IVs so his general is getting his correct dose of medication. Cody’s still floaty, but he isn’t willing to sleep, not yet, not until he’s fully convinced the danger has passed.
He stays in bed, his hand on his general’s arm and counts the time between tremors. They grow farther apart and diminish in intensity. He reports this to Healer Che when she stops in their room again. She checks their vitals and smiles a little at whatever Cody’s chart shows.
“I fixed it,” Cody tells her, because he can probably tell he’s still riding a bit of a high.
“I know you did.” She smooths her hand over his forehead. Her palm is cool and it stirs memories buried deep in his head of Kamino, the first time they were ever sick. Someone did this for him then. A cool touch to his forehead, a gentle smile. “Rest now, Cody. I’ll watch over you and Obi-Wan.”
He hesitates, but she draws up a chair, a promise she is going to stay. He finally relaxes enough to give into sleep.