Chapter Six: Escaping

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Ahsoka had one bleeding clone slumped over her and another trying to keep pace. Echo was bleeding out by the second and Rex himself had taken several hits. By this time, the blonde clone had decided that you could just kriff the Council. It still galled him that a bunch of Jedi had decided to use human beings as meat droids. They had bred the clones like a witch bred the Nightbrothers. If you asked most Jedi, clones weren't people.

They were machines to be used and then discarded.

Rex staggered into the shuttle, holding on to his badly burned arm. Ahsoka probably wasn't going to ask him how he got hurt. After all, Echo was the priority here. And he knew that she wouldn't want to know. One of the shinies had just lost it. He'd started shooting wildly until General Skywalker could take him down. Rex feared for the kid, if he was even still alive. Ahsoka always said that he was a brave boy and he deserved better. Ahsoka had said they were leaving, that seeing Echo hurt the way he was changed things. She was loyal to her clones, though, and Rex liked that.

"Echo?!" Ahsoka dropped the clone on the floor and slapped him across the face. The clone was fading, his eyelashes fluttering closed. "Echo! I forbid you from dying! Rex, I need you to fly us, please. I know you're hurt, but--"

"Echo needs you," Rex sharply said. He  turned away, holding his burned arm. "I'll fly, but he needs you."

Ahsoka nodded and stripped off Echo's blood soaked clothes. Rex quickly set the ship on auto-pilot to Shili and came back. He watched as she placed her hands on Echo's head and scanned the injury with the Force. "Looks like he's filled with hollow points. It got the meat, though. Not his bones or his nerves."

Rex gritted his teeth. Ahsoka started pulling out chunks of metal from Echo's pale body. Projectile weapons should have been banned if you asked Rex. His body was filled with big holes and some of those damned things had even gone all the way through. His armor hadn't been able to stop the blasts. Ahsoka was up to her elbows in clone blood. Rex knew few Jedi would ever do this for a meat droid. Echo, though, was her friend.

Echo's heart fluttered as Rex held his hand. Ahsoka was concentrating and it looked as if she was glowing. Echo's body bucked and he groaned. The clone whined as she worked and Rex had too look away as she started pulling out the pieces of metal. His body was pale and trembling, his eyes tightly closed. The clone's hazel eyes rolled back in his head as Ahsoka kept working.

The comm squawked. They ignored it. Echo had five more hollow points in his body.

She fell into an exhausting rhythm, pulling the metal out and healing the damage. Rex watched, nervous. The horror of what he'd just seen made him want to lose his rations. He'd found six dead cadets, all culls for one reason or another. It took a lot to shock a clone, but those wasted bodies had done it. The Kamies might have told the Jedi they rehomed the culls, but Rex knew better. They were either experimented on or killed, and Rex didn't know which one was better. And to go near the Alpha's Tower...well, you didn't.

They said that the ghosts of the dead Alphas haunted their old home. Rex had known one as a cadet, a gruff man named Dar. Dar hadn't been evil, but he had been culled like the rest. And he knew Bly had been beaten for letting Aayla Secura teach him how to read.

Rex didn't know how long it took, watching as Ahsoka healed Echo. The clone had some vicious injuries and most wouldn't have bothered to patch him up. Rex had known Echo for years, though. He was a good man, a good brother. Some might have left him, but Ahsoka had saved him. She was some much better to her clones than they deserved.

The young Jedi sagged back, exhausted. Echo lay still beside her, his eyes closed. His skin was pale and icy to the touch. Echo had lost a lot of blood, but it was looking like he'd make it. At least his heart wasn't driving the blood out of his body anymore. Ahsoka sighed, though, and drew a bloodied hand across her face. Several lumps of deformed metal lay around her.

Rex picked one up. It was just a metal bullet, but it was made to strike a target and deform, rather than kill. It was made to injure. To cripple. Rex threw the thing across the room in a rare show of temper. Ahsoka, though, collapsed to her knees and started to cry. Rex got on his knees and held her.


"I don't have the strength left to heal you," she sobbed.

"Even if you did, I wouldn't let you." Rex helped her up, concerned. "Ahsoka. You're pale. Shaking. What sort of clone would I be if I let you kill yourself for me? I'm just a meat droid. I'm not...I'm not a person."

"Don't say that." Ahsoka tried to wiggle out of his arms, but Rex set his jaw. He wasn't going to let her kill herself for him! "Get me a medical kit, then. That burn looks bad."

"I've had worse." Rex, though, grabbed the medical kit and submitted to letting her patch him up. Ahsoka bit her bottom lip.

"The obedience isn't natural. I don't like it."

"You know what that chip does," Rex softy said. The chips were evil. They sent a pulse of energy through the clone until he decided to obey. They rewarded obedience and punished dissent. The clones obeyed just to get away from the pain.

Ahsoka cleaned up the wound quickly. She washed it with bacta and Rex hissed at the burn. Ahsoka was kind to him, though, and calmed him with the Force. She even soaked the bandages with bacta.

"You're wasting bacta on me?" Rex softly asked.

The Togruta Jedi sighed and touched his cheek. "You're worth so much more to me," she softly said. Ahsoka staggered a little and Rex grabbed her, pulling the Jedi close.

"That's it, you're taking a rest," Rex decided. "You're going to bed before you croak." He took her to the bunks and went back for Echo. Someone needed to stay hale and hearty around here before the Jedi decided to send a bounty hunter.

Rex knew what he was: Republic property. And they would want him back.

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