Project Memory

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One ragged breath, then hot pain. Then another ragged breath, then searing pain. And repeat.

Charcoal couldn't remember the last time his chest had burned so badly. Then again, he couldn't remember anything past that morning when he'd been assigned this mission. Get in, get out. That's what they had said. No one had mentioned resistance or fighting. No one had mentioned getting a hole blown through his chest and being left for dead.

Or maybe they had and he simply didn't remember. He couldn't trust his memory these days. He wasn't supposed to. All he knew was orders, and that was all he was supposed to follow. Even if it meant dying. After all, there had to be some good cause for this, right?

Charcoal coughed and tasted the sickening metallic tinge of blood as it flooded his mouth. His lungs screamed in protest and he thought of holding his breath, but it wouldn't help, except to kill him faster.

He tried to crack his eyes open and look around the control room. There were droids outside, guarding the room. They thought was dead, and he might as well be. There was a fist-sized hole through his chest and more blood than he wanted to think about. But he was still there. Maybe it was a sign, maybe it was just pure determination. He wasn't sure.

Another fit of coughing hit him and his lungs protested in excruciating pain. He rolled onto his side to try and ease the coughing but it didn't help, just made the pain worse. Charcoal moaned quietly and closed his eyes again, sucking in a deep breath. This time he held it. He was dying anyway.

Then he heard the shots. Maybe he was hallucinating, maybe he was dead, or maybe not, but he swore he could hear shots outside. And voices too. It sounded like a small squad of clones heading his way. Were they coming for him? Probably not, but he wanted to image so. It was comforting in a small way. And it was a reason to hold on just a little longer.

Charcoal let out his breath and again forced himself to draw in agonizing breaths, his vision starting to blur. This time he fought it, though, and focused on the grating on the floor. The grating covered in blood. It was probably his, but for the moment he just needed a focus point.

And just as he gained his focus the door opened. Only this time, droids didn't pour into the room and surround him, but rather a small squad of clones moved inside and one of them ran over to him. The clone rolled Charcoal onto his back and Charcoal coughed, pain spreading through his chest. He resisted passing out, but he couldn't make out a word the trooper was saying. It was all a garbled mess like he was in a tunnel. He felt someone lifting him, but only because of the pain. They were all surrounding him, and he wasn't sure what was going on, but h knew he was safe for the moment. And with that small reassurance, he closed his eyes.

////

Charcoal slowly cracked his eyes open after several hours and took in a shaky breath. His chest was still sore, but it felt like someone had patched him up and hopped him up on painkillers. He glanced blearily around and recognized one of the Kaminoan medical rooms, all white and perfectly sterile. Struggling, Charcoal tried to sit up some and touched his chest, wincing. He got himself to his feet, though, and staggered away from the bed to the refresher.

Charcoal grabbed the door heavily and leaned on it some before grabbing the edge of the sink for support. His brain still didn't seem fully awake so he turned on the cold water and splashed it on his face to try and wake up. Then he straightened up a little and glanced dully into the mirror.

He touched one of the scars on his face, just below one of his hazel eyes, and his eyes fell to his thin chest, which was wrapped in bandages. Only a few ragged scars peeked out from behind the gauze, but he knew they were there. He couldn't remember how he got them, or where, just that he had them. And to think he was only 14, with more scars than he could count.

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