Youth is finite, something that can only be truly cherished when it is too late to enjoy it. We were carryovers from a different generation, both damaged goods in a way unable to heal from our wounds. Together we were strong. Separate the two of us broke like glass hitting the floor - maybe I shouldn't speak for the both of us?
It was the greatest Padawan combo in The Clone War, "Briggs-Tano" has a nice ring to it don't you think?
"You mean 'Tano-Briggs.'" Her snippy tone popped my bubble. "Since when do you get
top billing?" She teased. "I have to save your skin every time we're in the field together."
I should have never left her. All that was in the past and I let it destroy my future. Can't say I'm the first person who made this mistake. We organics get once chance at this game, forced to deal with our missteps for the rest of our run, there is no reset button to undo all the wrong I've done. Only antidote for this was forgiveness. But that wasn't first on my priorities list at the time being. Things haven't been the same since she left.
Two years in the Temple and I was already a changed man - though still a teen. Six months later all of what I learned about everything I fought for was a lie. The Jedi. My friends. Just pawns in Palpatine's giant game of chess. Scared and jaded, I ran. I wouldn't have never guessed she would have popped back into my life.
Ahsoka was what I strived to be, I would never tell her that. I measured myself against her usually coming out the loser, but all those failures made me better. She made me better.
Hearing what took place on Malachor through the grape vine, the details were stunning. The death of three inquisitors and the re-resurfacing of Maul, a new chapter in this Galactic conflict has started. Course, I wouldn't be on the front lines. All I cared about was a certain Togruta left for dead on Malachor.
"We had to leave, she sacrificed herself for us to escape!" I heard Kanan trying to keep his cool with a infinitely more frustrated Ezra. His blue eyes shined a dark red at times of furry, the kid was raw, eager and his blood boiled. Like me when I was his age. Just a tad bit shorter than 1.67 meters.
Kanan couldn't see this though, his feelings clouded his senses, resentful at the loss of sight, pained at possibility he'll be nothing more than a mentor in this Civil War.
"You should have never let her run off to fight Vader!" Ezra jabbed his finger into his "master's" chest. Throughout all my time in the Temple I've seen many Padawans talk back to their masters. Heck, Ahsoka made a living being snippy, but I never saw the amount of contempt held for his mentor that Ezra was showcasing in my presence.
"You failed her, Kanan!" Ezra finished and stormed out, not before Kanan's weary patience could be snapped.
"If you just listened to me none of this would have happened!" Kanan slammed his fist on the cold metal walls over and over again. I looked behind me to see a distraught Hera witnessing her friend's unraveling state. He was losing Ezra. Did he know it? The way he froze and tensed up right before exiting, the bulging muscles a response to suppressing a violent urge to do something he might regret.
"I'm going to Malachor." Was all I said, expecting no opposition, not interested in what she had to say on the matter, just to give her a heads up.
"That place could still be crawling with Imperials that you'll lead back the rebel base." Hera regretfully informed me. Before she could turn her back I pressed her.
"Enough time's gone by for them to learn nothing's on Malachor, and I don't know the location of the rebel base, I'm a smuggler who met you at a rendezvous and only work for money and am on limited information." All of this was true. Not that I wouldn't help the rebellion if they couldn't meet my rate, which was very small - a guy's gotta eat, and I had no enthusiasm in getting back into the fight.
"And if you don't come back?" Hera asked, taking me by surprise. I didn't think she cared about me, guess you get attached to someone who you been in combat with for so long, even if it was all circumstantial.
"Then I don't come back." I said. Dying wasn't something I was completely afraid of. My copper skinned butt didn't need to live longer than thirty-one years anyway. I owe it to Ahsoka to find her. The rebellion needs a strong Jedi, not a scrub.
And so leaving The Ghost, myself ventured back to the ruined Sith Temple. I hate these places. When The Order fell me and a friend went into the archaeological business and grave robbed ancient Sith Lord tombs just to earn a living. The feeling of doom never ceased to leave me since.
I knew Ahsoka was still alive. I didn't feel her die, sensing her pain, her sorrow, my want to wrap a arm around her grew by the day, agonizing over the wait.
"Please sense me." I begged telepathically to Ashoka, crossing my fingers that our bond was still strong.
The first time I ignited a lightsaber since The Clone War was to be used as a flashlight. How heroic. To add insult to injury it was Tano's old green blade.
"I don't want it, I am no longer a Jedi." She rejected my hand in returning her property.
"But, this was your whole life." I didn't know this person in front of me, even though I agreed with her decision to leave more than she did. The Jedi didn't believe her, trust her, have her back when the chips were down. "Fuck them!" My sixteen-year old self must have said numerous times.
Moving rocks and pillars out the way, reminded of the rust I have acquired over the years. Back in the day these things didn't carry the weight of a feather. By the time I made it to the center of the temple my clothes were torn and sweat drenched head looked like I just took a dip in a lake.
"Haven't sweated this much since the Siege on Lothal." I commented, dabbing my forehead with my black dirtied poncho. Part of me missed this. The grind. It took me back to a time when my life made sense, I knew who to keep close and proceeded to never let go. How did I even get into the The Order?
Glazing my eyes over the pile of worthless pillars and busted artifacts, the green beauty caught sight of the familiar blue and white montrals standing over it all. My heartbeat accelerated. Is she alive? Is she dead? Please let it be the former. I already lived years thinking she was gone for good.
Hopping over the barrier I found her back propped up against the pillar. Her bruised cheeks rested on the damp cold floor, her chest rising with each breath. Thank goodness, she's alive. Taking out a med kit I readied to examine her, kneeling to reach for her long white and blue montrals. Her chest plate had dents and looked useless and barley clung to her slender form.
It felt like a dream, a improbable occurrence. To see her again, still here, in only need of a lift off this planet to continue on with the fight. Too good to be true. Maybe it is.
Her orange lids fluttered open revealing the blue ocean beauties I've grown accustom to seeing back in my youth. Her dark orange-reddish lips moved forming words I could not hear, moving closer the audio became more clear.
"Get off my arm." She demanded, my body stiffed and fell back like a 2x4. My black pants dampening in the dirty puddles. Thirty-one years of age and still clumsiness plagues me. The Togruta stretched her sleepy left arm, it hung like a noodle in mid-air. At first I thought it was broken, then further inspection suggested otherwise.
"Ahsoka, are you-" She cut me off, turning her back towards me like all I was to her was a taxi. Rips and tears on her tunic, she walked with a noticeable limp but refused assistance. Even in her older age she was too proud to admit her limits - how much of this was just to spite me?
"I'm fine, let's just get out of here." She clutched her arms around her chest, in that shy manner that exhibits emotional unrest. Padding my pockets panic struck me, my keys were gone. Nothing but wet fabric and leg I was tapping. I looked up at the walking Togruta holding my access card in her hand.
"She wears the pants in the relationship." The Clones teased, razzing their commander. "She didn't even let you get a word in edgewise." Rex noted, with a big hand he slapped me in the back hard in good nature.
Though we both held Commander ranks, the troops knew who was the boss when there was no Knights around. My ideas were never good or crazy/stupid enough to be implemented. "Just stand around and swing for what ever is metal." She'd advise me.
"Yeah, yeah," My mind races for a comeback, even though she is not here. "She'll know who to thank in the end." I promised. We took pride in saving each other's hides. It was all by chance. Circumstance. Plan A would fall apart, plan B would be to address the failures of plan A, and Plan C would be a rescue mission. Land. Fight. Hit. Miss. Captured. Rescue. Win. Lose. Was the pattern of The Clone War. Maybe that's why we lost?
Not wanting to be left behind, I hurried my cinderblock legs to catch Ahsoka outside the Malachor Temple. I wanna know what happened here. Why is it all in rubble. Did she confront him?
"I heard you seen Anakin." I said like I was asking her about the weather. Beautiful weather here on Malachor, Snips, and hey, did you run into the Sith Lord that used to be your role model?
Her movement stopped. Feet planted to the surface, rooted like a tree stump. Oh, no.
"He is not my Master!" She became unhinged for a moment before regaining her composure. "Anakin is dead." Ahsoka admitted, her voice choked, yet seemed rehearsed.
"Please understand why I didn't tell you." I pleaded to her for just to see my point of view. From the day the Temple burst into flames I knew what Anakin Skywalker had become. I took Ahsoka's place in destiny that night and confronted the fallen prodigal son. I couldn't tell his Padawan. It would send her further into the depths of despair.
"When we first seen each other after three years you said I 'betrayed' you by leaving, I still remember the look on your face, a expression of only pain." She dissected me. I had a right to be hurt. After the things I've seen. Friends turned Sith. People I treated as family wanted me dead. The armor I placed around myself to act as a barrier to protect me from myself started falling apart.
"That's because you leave me behind!" I followed her into my crummy hunk of junk ship and let her into the pilots seat. Like old times, eh.
"You think those three-years I didn't know where you were, if you were breathing was a breeze for me?" I said like I was channeling my younger self. My eyes didn't water like in the old days. My organs felt like they were failing, though.
"You left me behind, you jerk! I grieved your death for three-years." My nineteen-year old self managed to say through tears and a closed throat. Through all this I was happy she was alive, but she acted like nothing happened. She was still that distant woman not grasping the idea of emotions.
The Galaxy is a lonely place when nobody has your back. I'd give anything to relive those three-years in The Clone War again. Best time of my life was in the field, fighting alongside friends who have not turned foe. We'd go to the ends of the universe to ensure the other's safety. In short, we were friends. All younglings with responsibilities of adults.
"After all we've been through, you threw me away like I was nothing." I couldn't muster the will to at least try and look Ahsoka in the eyes. Knowing it'll only release water from my tear ducts.
"It's not all about you, Mykle." Ahsoka pointed out that my woes didn't exceed her's. I sat there like a stiff, she would reach over me to activate the shields rather than ask for my help.
My eyes popped like firecrackers, her dark orange/red-ish lips collided with mine. A gesture I never accounted for. It felt right. Years of pent up emotion ran down like a babbling Brook. Easing my soft left palm on her cheeks, carful not to touch her delicate, sensitive lekku, I relaxed into her arms.
We broke apart, both of us in need of air. Despite me being taller, she stood over me due to her montrals. She rested her orange cheek on my shoulder, lightly kissing my neck.
"I'll never leave you again, Mykle. Promise."
That was eleven years ago. I seen the light at the end of the tunnel was with her, but my fear of what waited passed the horizon kept me from happiness. This woman outgrew me, cause I pushed her away. I am a hypocrite. She opened herself up and I did what I wanted nobody to ever do to me. Shun. Like Anakin before me. And what I did to Ahsoka.
Soon we'll come up on the rendezvous point. Captain Rex will embrace his long time comrade. Ezra will be over the moon with joy. The entire base will be ecstatic to see their Jedi is still with them in the trenches.
"I am no Jedi." Those words made my spine shiver, I knew what Ahsoka renounced, because of the Council's betrayal those years ago. She'll always be one to me.
Where will I go? Back to the saloons where I drink away my sorrows and wait for my next job. I had it all and threw it away.
"I'm sorry, Ahsoka." My voice trembled. She continued to pilot the ship, I sit there beside myself. I hope she heard me, cause I meant every word.