Last Night

This one takes a darker turn after the events in “The Mettle of a Mandalorian”. It might be a tough read, but it seemed important to me, both to show the developing bond between these two, as well as the nature of trauma. It carries references to “The Crucible of Korriban” and “The Mirages of Tatooine”.

Author’s Note

Kellaro’s face was gray, but his leg was grayer. Brant banged into his ward in the infirmary, expecting mayhem or murder after his brother’s frightened holocall in the middle of the night, but it was just Kellaro lying there, propped up in his pillows, and rubbing, rubbing, rubbing at his leg like it was one of the djinn lanterns from the stories.

Brant groaned, rubbed his eyes as he relaxed back against the door. “Whatever’s going on, it’s way too early for this,” he muttered. He squinted at Kellaro between his fingers. “So what’s the matter, exactly? Bad dream? Too much spice?”

“My leg,” said Kellaro tensely.

“What? Does it hurt?”


“Then what? Come on, I have a warm bed to get back to.”

Kellaro seemed detached, staring across the room at a ghost only he could see. Brant could feel his fear rolling off him, see his trembling.

“You can’t let them take it, Brant. You can’t…”

“Oh, Kellaro…” Brant finally realized what his brother was so afraid of, and he flumped on the bed. He didn’t really know what to say.

Kellaro just leaned over, still rubbing, shaking his head like he might deny the planet’s turning.

“When did they tell you?” asked Brant.

“Days… couple days ago. If it didn’t get better… Gave me exercises… shots… didn’t get better, but I did what they said. I did it all. I swear I did.”

“Sometimes that’s just the way of it.”

Kellaro looked at him in agony.

Brant shrugged, uncomfortable. He was ill-equipped to deal with issues like this. “Why don’t you talk to Dorne — sorry, Elara about it? She’s the medic. Maybe she knows something that can help.”

Kellato was instantly shaking his head. “She’d just agree that it has to… that they have to..”

“Okay, okay, nevermind. So think of it this way. You’ll get a prosthetic, and you’ll be able to walk again. You won’t be stuck in here anymore. What’s so bad about that?”

Kellaro shook his head harder. “I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

Brant groaned. “Then why did you call me?”

“Don’t know.” He paused in the rubbing, only for a second, to hug himself. “Doing it tomorrow. Please… please don’t let them do it.”

“Kellaro!” Brant said severely, like he might talk to an impudent child. “You’re being ridiculous!”

It didn’t have the desired effect though, as Kellaro broke into tears.

Brant winced. He really was not equipped to deal with this.

“Can you heal it?” Kellaro suddenly begged him. “With the Force? Do you know how?”

“No,” said Brant, “and even if I did, you wouldn’t like the cost.”

“I don’t want to lose it,” Kellaro sobbed.

Brant sighed. “You need to sleep,” he said. “Things will be better in the morning.”

“Can’t,” said Kellaro. “Can’t. I’ll wake up, and it’ll be gone…”

Brant groaned, foreseeing a very long night. Yet, despite his annoyance and drowsiness, he stayed with Kellaro until the overhead lights began to come on, dimly at first, mimicking a natural morning in the underground chamber. Whenever Kellaro started talking, Brant tried to answer, though he didn’t think he lessened his brother’s terror at all. When the day-nurse finally walked in, with an IV full of pre-surgery drugs, Kellaro set to howling.

“Please, no!”

Brant helped hold him down, gritting his teeth and not looking his brother in the face. He had tortured prisoners before, been tortured himself even, but somehow this was worse. He was powerless to prevent what he knew was necessary.

“Will you stick around?” asked the doctor, as Kellaro, heavily sedated, was finally wheeled away to the surgery room. “This is a touchy time for an amputee.”

“Don’t sugarcoat it,” Brant growled. “That man’s in the terror of his life.”

“You get used to seeing it in this business,” said the doctor tiredly.

“Then maybe you should retire,” Brant replied sharply, but he went to the staging room to wait.

Waiting was awful. Kellaro’s waking was awful. He came out of the anesthesia in the same state as he had went in, begging the doctors not to take the leg off, and Brant thought it an especially Sith-like cruelty to point out that his protests came too late. Yet so the doctors did, then moved on to the next patient, and Brant endured the abuse as Kellaro raged at him for the betrayal. Brant sat through it silently, wondering — when he wasn’t trying to address his brother — if he had once been as unbearable to tend to.

Finally Kellaro ran out of insults and simply stared at the wall. Brant didn’t know what to do for him, but he felt leaving now would be a worse betrayal, so he stayed. Kellaro as good as ignored him.

Lieutenant Dorne and Vette came by later in the day, separately, to talk to Kellaro and try to cheer him up. Vette did manage to get him to turn over and look at her, using teasing techniques that Brant recognized as her once having used on him, though Kellaro didn’t rise so far to the bait as to begin raging again, like Brant might have. Elara was more merciful, simply lying down beside the major and holding him, and Brant marveled at this kind of closeness, a kind he barely understood: simply a touch and her presence.

Dorne had other duties however, and after a kiss and a meaningful look at Brant, she departed.

The lights had begun to go orange and blue to simulate the sunset when Brant finally sighed and stretched. “I have to go now,” he said. “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes,” said Kellaro, his first word in several hours. “Thank you… for staying with me.”

Brant shrugged. “When I was lying on the Korriban arena floors, it’s what I would’ve wanted,” he said.

Kellaro slowly turned to him. “…lying on the Korriban arena…floors?”

“Yes,” said Brant. “I had slipped up. Someone put a lightsaber in me. They had left me to die, but… well…” His words sounded so mundane in his ears, and even though he had offered the subject, suddenly he didn’t want to poke the memory any further. “Look, it’s all blood and gloom and doom,” he said. “You don’t need to hear that right now.”

“Actually, I’d like to,” said Kellaro quietly, staring at the wall again.

“Good stars, why?”

“To remind myself something’s worse than this.”

“Oh, that’s easy,” said Brant, taking a seat again. “I can tell you any number of stories about torture and dismemberment, any day of the week.” He wasn’t entirely sure that Kellaro wasn’t joking, but then, neither was he sure he wasn’t himself.

“I don’t want to hear about random people who got tortured,” said Kellaro, and his voice was strained to the point Brant could believe he was already stretched out on a rack. “I want to hear about you.”

“You really did get your head knocked good,” muttered Brant. He lapsed into silence, watching Kellaro’s back, how his eyelashes fluttered every time he blinked. He couldn’t see Kellaro’s expression from this angle, only the curve of his cheek and brow.

Kellaro still said nothing, and eventually Brant sighed. “Okay, fine. You really want to hear the incineration story? It has Dad in it, if you can believe that.”

Kellaro’s brow came down, and he nodded.

“Well,” started Brant, “I nearly died in the arena bout earlier in the day; I told you that. They had thrown me on the waste heap — random limbs, other dead apprentices. Then I started to hallucinate…”

He kept his tone drab and dull, like he was speaking of the weather; he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to talk about such awful things otherwise. But once he started, the stories kept coming. He told Kellaro about climbing up the shaft of the incinerator chute, scaring the janitor out of his wits; the Duros slave had thought Brant had been a Dark-risen zombie at first. He then told Kellaro of his Sith training, being electrocuted so that his Master might teach him how to channel his pain, of one terrible night after such he had spent lying in his own vomit, too exhausted to even lift his head out of the bitter bile. He told of his murder spree on Nar Shaddaa, the strange numbness he had found in the killing, of the Sand People’s poison on Tatooine and Vette’s nursing him back to health, when his screams were so intense he’d had a hoarse voice for a month afterward.

He told him of the merciful Jedi he had slain and how he had earned his Sith name. Kellaro grunted then, once. Brant even told him of Jaesa, of the losses they had shared, but he stopped just short of telling him just what those losses were and who had inflicted them on her.

All that and more, until his voice started to go hoarse from too much talking, too much held-back emotion, and Brant finally fell silent.

He was more than a little surprised when Kellaro said, “Don’t stop now.”

“You haven’t had your fill yet? Hell, man, you sure it’s not you who’s the Sith?”

“I’m sure,” said Kellaro. “I never would have survived any of those things.”

“Oh, yes you would have. You get to a point you simply have to.”

“I suppose so,” said Kellaro. “I suppose sometimes there’s nothing else you can do.”

He went quiet, and neither brother spoke. The lights had long since gone out, and Brant was reminded of the pitch black on Bracca. He reached out to touch Kellaro’s shoulder, and found him breathing evenly, but not in sleep.

“Thank you,” said Kellaro finally. “I’m sorry about earlier. I’ve been a real arse to you today.”

“Don’t mention it,” grunted Brant. “I’ve had worse.”

Kellaro turned over and clasped Brant’s hand for a few minutes, silently conveying his reply. Brant returned the squeeze, and held on until Kellaro’s grip loosened, as the major finally drifted off into sleep.

Brant stayed by the man’s side for several hours after, thinking, remembering. It wasn’t quite so bad this time, but he wasn’t sure if it was the many years that had passed, dulling the once-sharp edges of the memories, or if it was simply that he finally had someone to tell it all to. It was near midnight when he finally got up, exhausted, and went to sleep, dreamless, in his own bunk in the Enclave. It was the first time in a long time that he didn’t have any nightmares.

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