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Chapter 35

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Captain Daniah swung down from her bunk, a little bleary eyed as she mumble-shouted "I'm awake. I'm awake already!" at Echo.

She couldn't remember when she closed her eyes. After Ben left her quarters she lay down, lost in their past memories.

The first time they kissed, under the brilliant electronic haze of Nar Shadaa. Their first fight as they evaded pirates in the Butterfly nebula of the Kalarba system. Their first vacation on the shores of Esseles, the spires of Calamar glistening in the ocean spray.

The time Ben told her he'd leave her, on Coruscant, cold and distant, a Jedi Statue, not the tender man she knew.

She'd never found closure, though she'd tried. She just learned to grin and bear it like so many things in her life. Danah glanced at the time on her cyes: 24: 58 Rodia time. Time to go under again.

Ben had seemed uncertain about what to tell the group, but his troops would never know it. He projected competence. You knew you could trust Commander Kenobi with your life. Only a few people in the galaxy, herself included, knew the private doubts he struggled with.

The sound of her boots clomped through the corridor as she returned to the sim room for training. She rounded the doorway and saw that the soldiers had already begun pre-prep for the sim. Daniah snorted. Soldiers, always early and obsessed with protocol.

"Commander on deck," Sergeant Icol called the soldiers to attention, and they filed rapidly into line. Bemused, Captain Pace took a few steps to the side and leaned against the wall, arms folded. Ben's eyes locked hers for a moment, and then he addressed the team.

"My soldiers." Commander Kenobi paused for a moment. "Do you know what distinguishes you the most? Is it your training? Is it the equipment? Is it your geneware? What makes a soldier exceptional? Team work? Planning? All of these are key components to an exceptional soldier. Put them all together and you have a fearsome team of killers, but not soldiers.

Belief is the moral glue that creates a soldier. Belief in the cause of the Republic, in the justice of her actions. Belief not only in freedom from oppression for one race, but in the dignity of each sentient life. Belief, and the determination to see these beliefs prevail.

Is our system perfect? No. It is up to each planet, and each citizen, to hold their government accountable. There is some truth in the lies that Krul spreads. When the people yearn for freedom and elites use violence to keep them down, violence meets violence.

Yet what path has Krul cleared? Has he restricted himself to military targets? Or has he instead pursued a path of wanton destruction? Has he held people until they can be tried for their crimes? Or did he declare himself judge, jury and executioner? Does he hold each sentient life sacred, or does he once again oppress one group to benefit another?

Would you want to live in Krul's world?

I do not. I will not. And I will place my life on the line to defend our Republic's ideals.

Ask yourself, whose ideals do you share?  Look deep within your hearts. Remember the oath you gave to the Republic, to defend her from her enemies, both within and without.

This is not just about today.  We will face worse challenges than the da phelu, kat droids, Rodian guards, and Mandalorians.  When you face those challenges, when Death stares you in the face, remember what you believe in, and remember it together."

It wasn't an immediate reaction, but Daniah could swear that she saw the soldiers in the room stand a little taller after Commander Kenobi's speech. They wanted to be the soldiers he spoke of.

Ben's eyes found hers again, and she smiled. She couldn't read minds like the Jedi, but she didn't have to. Daniah had helped him find a piece of himself, and for that, he was grateful.

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