beatrice_otter: Finn holding a blue lightsaber (Finn)
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Chapter 1 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 2 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 3 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 4 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 5 on Dreamwidth


Chapter 6

"Those are … very inflammatory accusations," Senator Organa said carefully. "What proof do you have?"

"What proof can he have?" Master Anakin scoffed. "He arrived here with nothing but the clothes on his back and a couple of tracking devices. He's free to make up any story he wants. What if he's a Seppie from the future, wants to spread dissension so the Republic tears itself apart and the Seppies are home free?"

Ahsoka stared at Finn, trying to ignore the storm of emotions around her. Nobody really believed Finn; nobody wanted to believe him. Master Anakin, Kano and Jesse, and Senator Organa were the most disbelieving; Anakin was the angriest, although Kano and Jesse were running him a close second. But the question wasn't whether they wanted Finn to be telling the truth; it was whether he was. And he certainly believed it, with all the fiber of his being. She stretched out with the Force, to see if the Force agreed. It was difficult; her master's emotions were roiling everything up.

"You must realize how outrageous this claim sounds to us," Master Nu said. "It would help greatly if you could provide specific information that we can verify that these things are about to take place."

Finn stared at her. "Do you know detailed intelligence about the lead-up to major events from forty years before you were born?"

"Yes," Master Nu said.

"You're a librarian," Ahsoka pointed out. "And an archivist. That's kind of your job. I don't know that I would, without time to do research before-hand. Major stuff, yeah. But specific details about the stuff leading up to it?"

"That your master has stinted your history studies in these turbulent times is a pity, but hardly relevant," Nu said with a sniff. "If it were not for the extraordinary circumstances of the galactic upheaval caused by the war, you would have been required to learn such things. So would every schoolchild in the Republic."

"Galactic upheaval and war aren't extraordinary to me," Finn said. "There hasn't been galactic peace since before the Clone Wars started. And I was never a school-child in the Republic."

"Fifty more years of war?" Master Obi-Wan sounded appalled. "You cannot be serious."

"I thought you said the Clone Wars ended," Organa said.

"Are you changing your story?" Master Windu's voice was heavy with suspicion.

"The Clone Wars did end," Finn said. "And there was a lot of mopping up, pacifying military action that wasn't technically war. And then the Rebellion began, and eventually they overthrew the Empire. And then there was a lot of mopping up, stuff that wasn't technically war, while the remnants of the Empire fled to the Unknown Regions, and started rebuilding itself as the First Order. And started encroaching on New Republic territory, which the Resistance … resisted. It hasn't been fifty years of galactic war … but it certainly hasn't been peaceful, either. And even if it had, I was raised a Stormtrooper—and they were a lot more interested in making sure we knew how to fight than teaching us what happened leading up to the fight."

"Stormtroopers," Kano said. "That's what you claim replaced the Clone Troopers, right? Who did you fight for? And what happened to the Clone Troopers?"

"Clone Troopers were phased out in the early days of the Empire," Finn said. "I don't know why—a lot of our officers certainly would have preferred clones. They said it was easier to recondition them, because they'd been designed to be obedient and uniform." He looked Kano and Jesse up and down. "Although, none of our officers were even born when any of the clones were still in service, and I gotta say, you guys are nothing like they said. I mean, we would never have been allowed to personalize our armor. And we had to get permission to remove our buckets, and you guys do it all the time!"

"What's reconditioning?" Jesse asked.

"You know, when they send you in to the medics to wipe and reboot your brain," Finn said. It was so matter-of-fact, Ahsoka couldn't quite realize what he said.

"I'm sorry, when they what?" Senator Organa said.

"Stormtroopers have to be loyal and perfect," Finn said. "We—they are supposed to be identical in every way. Just like the clones were, cogs in the machine protecting order from the evils and chaos of democracy. If you're not measuring up—if you question orders, are too individual, whatever—they recondition you. It takes away any individual personality that's cropped up, but leaves the training and loyalty intact. Troopers who came back from reconditioning were always a little … off."

"Just like wiping a droid," Master Anakin said, voice as grim as she'd ever heard. But then again, Skyguy didn't believe in wiping droids. He treated them as much like organic beings as he could. "Don't suppose they have restraint chips or tracking chips or explosive chips in you guys?"

"No," Finn said. "Nothing like that. If they had, I'd never have been able to escape—they'd track me down."

"One would imagine that their enemies would also be able to find such chips, and make use of them for purposes the First Order would not approve," Master Obi-Wan said.

"Yeah, well, any slaver would love the ability to wipe a slave like a droid," Master Anakin said. "And they all have chips."

"The Clone Troopers had control chips," Finn offered. "So you could program in orders and they would be followed exactly and precisely, even overriding the clone's own wishes if necessary. But that kind of chip only works if it's precisely calibrated to the neurology of the person it's installed in—it's easy for clones, because that's all the same, but you'd have to re-engineer it for each brain if you were going to put it in Stormtroopers. It's easier and more efficient to just rely on training, conditioning, and re-conditioning as needed." He paused, then added thoughtfully, "I think it's basically the same technology the First Order uses in some of its slave populations, but those are a bit cruder—if it's not precisely calibrated to the subject's brain, you can't give complex commands. So nothing you could use in battle or anything."

"You know that, but not history?" Master Nu said, astonished.

"Well, yeah," Finn said. "That was something a Stormtrooper needed to know. What if the slaves tried to revolt? We'd get sent in to shut them down."

"Master," Ahsoka said, "I think Fives was right."

"I don't want to believe it," Master Anakin said. "I still don't believe the Chancellor could or would do something like this. But …" he shook his head.

"Fives?" asked Master Windu.

"You remember when Tup, CT-5385, killed Master Tiplar?" Skyguy said.

Masters Windu and Nu nodded, but Senator Organa shook his head.

"It happened a few months ago," Master Obi-Wan said. "Tup shot and killed Master Tiplar during the campaign on Ringo Vinda. Just before he fired, Tup said (and I quote), 'Good soldiers follow orders.' He was taken to Kamino, where he died under mysterious circumstances. The Kaminoans claimed that he had been ill with some sort of virus that had caused him to become delusional, and that's why he did it."

"Fives was Tup's friend," Ahsoka said. "He didn't believe that was what happened. So he went AWOL to try and figure it out. See, all clones have a chip in their brains. The Kaminoans say it's to regulate and inhibit aggression in the clones."

"Doesn't seem that you'd want to inhibit aggression in foot soldiers," Senator Organa observed. "Isn't aggression a good thing?"

Ahsoka frowned, because she'd never thought about that, but it was true. "Well, the clones were first ordered by Master Sifo-Dyas, a Jedi, and Jedi don't think aggression is a good thing in anybody."

"Fives was investigating the chips and convinced Shaak Ti that there was something wrong with them, some darker purpose," Master Obi-Wan continued. "He was sent to Coruscant to speak with Chancellor Palpatine about it. From there, things become … murky."

"Something happened when he was alone with Palpatine," Master Anakin said. "They said it was an assassination attempt, but I can't believe that. He wasn't in his right mind. He managed to escape, and contact us. I went with Rex to meet him, but he was paranoid, raving, I couldn't get anything straight out of him, and then he was killed by the Coruscant guards for resisting arrest, so we didn't get to properly question him. But he blamed Palpatine for something."

"Why Palpatine?" Senator Organa said. "I assure you, the Chancellor of the Republic has far greater demands on his time than meeting with a single Clone. Especially with such shaky data. There should have been a full investigation—scans of multiple clone brains, slicing the chips to see what their code was, at the very least, possibly even Senate hearings—before things reached that level. This should not be the first time I heard any of this. Have you been investigating on your own, at least?"

"That's where Rex is, right now," Master Anakin said. "This little lull was the perfect time for him to go get his chip out and see if he could find someone to slice into the code on it, figure out what it does."

"If there is a conspiracy, or if some of the chips are defective, you can see why we would need to be … quiet about it," Master Obi-Wan said.

"Given the paranoia these days, I quite agree with the need for discretion," Organa said. "Especially if the Kaminoans are lying about it, for whatever reason. But I am appalled that sending one clone off by himself is the extent of your investigation. Given that this chip caused a clone to kill a Jedi, and caused another to attack the Supreme Chancellor, I would expect that self-preservation alone would inspire a more active focus on the issue."

"We've been busy lately," Master Anakin said defensively.

"And what good does it do anyone if the next malfunctioning chip causes a clone to kill you?" Organa asked. "And it is even more urgent now that we have heard Finn's story. If he is right, and telling the truth, surely these control chips must be what caused—or will cause—the Clone Troopers to turn on the Jedi. We need to know what is on those chips!"

"The only two examples we have of chips being removed from Clones resulted in paranoia and death," Obi-Wan said. "The plan was to have a few chips removed by people we trust, and see what the long-term effects were. If it could be done safely, then we would remove the chips from the whole battalion."

"And what if the chips are activated before then?" Jesse said. "I want mine out now! Sirs, you know you'll have volunteers if you explain what the problem is."

"I know I'd rather die than be forced to kill one of my Jedi against my will," Kano said.

"We could ill-afford losing the 501st if the chip does prove necessary to their brain function," Master Windu said, "but we can afford them turning on us even less."

"And until the war ends, I doubt we'll ever have more of a breathing room than we do now right here on this rock," Ahsoka pointed out. "Question is, do we have the facilities to do brain surgery here? Or surgeons or meddroids capable of that kind of delicate work?"

"I don't like the idea of requisitioning something through channels, if there is a conspiracy," Obi-Wan said.

Master Anakin folded his arms across his chest. "We'll figure something out."

Chapter 7

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