This story is in honor of Remembrance Sunday (UK). Dedicated to the memory of the ANZACs in general, and one Quartermaster-Sergeant in particular.
“Yow! What was that?” Ben thrust his head out from under his blankets in shock as another explosion crashed through the traffic noise.
Nasriel emerged sleepily from her bedroom. “Remembrance Day gun salute. Listen, Master, I know it’s important to remember the dead and all, but do we have to remember them so early in the morning?”
“Yes. We do.” Obi-Wan seemed lost in thought.
“Are we going down to the square this morning?” asked Nasriel tentatively. “I mean, unless you had something better planned.”
“If we are, you have ten minutes to dress. Ben! Get up.”
“Have fun,” mumbled Ben. “I remember things better if I sleep. I’m staying home.”
The great square in front of the Senate Hall was crowded and subduedly noisy, every one of the thousands of beings gathered there talking in hushed tones. Remembrance Day was in honor of all those who had died in the service of the Republic – and many had lost loved ones in the current war. Pushing through the crowd unnoticed, Nasriel felt the solemnity of the day weigh heavy upon her, and stopped briefly, gazing upward at the calm sky, for once closed to traffic, to center herself. On the wide steps of the Senate building, a few politicians stood, heads bowed respectfully. Among them, Nasriel recognized Padme Amidala, Bail Organa, and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
A hush fell over the square as the Chancellor moved forward to speak. “Friends. Fellow… citizens of the Republic.” Nasriel did not bother to listen – it was merely the same political rubbish she had heard a hundred times on various occasions, having more to do with the politician’s position than with the slain. Alert from long experience, she scanned the square almost automatically, looking for danger with the practiced eye of a Sentinel. No. Yan Dooku and Reseda Che had given the Sentinels a bad name, had made the word taste foul on the tongue. Say rather, a wandering Jedi used to danger.
Of course, here, on Coruscant, the safe heart of the Republic, there was no danger, no upset. Not since the ghastly incident of the terrorist bombing in the administration sector. There was an explosion, someone had murmured that day in the Temple. There were four, Anakin had snapped. Now shut up. Yes, Nasriel told herself firmly, shut up. There could be no danger here.
As if to prove her wrong, the Force, surging through the thickly crammed beings, trembled chillily, sending icy shivers up and down her spine. Nasriel glanced nervously to left and right, trying to locate the source of the disturbance.
She tugged at Obi-Wan’s sleeve, and when he bent his head to listen to her, whispered urgently, “Master, there’s something wrong, a disturbance in the Force.”
Much to her surprise, he laughed. “No, ‘lir’yana, it’s not wrong. Haunting, perhaps, but not wrong. It’s a bugle call, the Last Post. Here, I’ll show you.” Taking her hand, he sent an impression of the abrupt, authoritative brassy notes, not shattering, but merely serving to accentuate the otherwise total stillness of the square, across the Force bond between them.
Nasriel smiled wryly. “I see. Maybe there’s something in this music stuff of yours after all.”
The Chancellor was still talking, his rich, cultured voice echoing through the speakers placed around the plaza. Finally, he had reached the end of the political speech, and was intoning the Exhortation that preceded the minute’s silence. “They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old.” Obi-Wan had, perhaps by accident, perhaps deliberately, left the Force bond open, and Nasriel shivered at the image that entered her mind: the carnage after the Battle of Geonosis, merging eerily with other deaths, other battles. “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.” Oh, Jiron! Nasriel’s soul breathed. Shh, alir’yana, I know. “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them. Now I ask you to keep silence with me for one minute in memory of the dead.”
Of course, on Coruscant, the silence – any silence – could never be perfect. Traffic hummed in the distance, beyond the roadblocks, people whispered. There was a scraping, grinding noise somewhere near the ground, and Nasriel checked it curiously, to see a small Twi’lek boy, about three years old, running a toy hovercar backwards and forwards over the gritty permacrete of the pavement, its tiny hidden wheels catching on the same crack in the ground at every pass. The child’s mother picked him up when she noticed Nasriel’s amused smile, embarrassed, and hushed him.
“He doesn’t know what it’s all about,” she whispered apologetically.
Obi-Wan heard, and replied before his Padawan could. “Let him be a child while he can. It was for the children’s future that they all died, after all.” For the children’s future that they still die, all over the Galaxy, today, yesterday, and tomorrow, clones and Jedi, he didn’t add. It wasn’t necessary.
The silence was officially broken by three booming cannon blasts, and people began to drift out of the square, to resume the mundane lives for which so many had given so much. The two Jedi were among the last to leave, watching the bare plaza return to its usual deserted self. From the steps, Bail Organa noticed them, and gave Obi-Wan a tiny nod of recognition, all the communication a politician would dare embark on with a Jedi, in public at any rate.
That evening, Nasriel stood in the massive formal doorway of the Temple, flanked by imposing stone statues of great former Jedi – Jedi now long dead – abstractedly watching the sky slowly turn from golden day through the copper-green of twilight toward darkness.
Coming up behind her, Obi-Wan touched her lightly on the shoulder. “At the going down of the sun?”
“I shall always remember them, sunset or no,” she replied softly. “Forever.”