“Wings” (Culber, Theron)

Note: The story takes place shortly after the finale of the Jedi Knigh story. It’s a part of “One-word prompts” project.

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Culber paced around the room, fuming with barely held in check anger. He felt discarded and under-appreciated. He just read the letter Garza had sent him, and the unfairness struck him again. How is it that the military types understood his sacrifices and his work better than his own kind: the Jedi. One Jedi in particular.

He was sure if Master Orgus were there, he’d never allow for this to happen. He’d argue with Satele’s claim that Culber wasn’t ready or didn’t deserve the promotion to master.

How could he not deserve it?! How could she claim such an obvious lie? Was she afraid? So many masters of the council were dominated by the Sith Emperor, unable to shake off his influence. He, Culber, was the only one who managed to free himself. It proved he was stronger than them, and now Satele treated him as someone not as worthy? He showed he was more deserving the title than any of them.

He thought of Kira, and his fury only strengthened. She had attacked him, she had been the emperor’s puppet like the others and tried to kill him under that influence. What Satele had done? Not even a comment on how wrong that was; she had promoted the stupid girl to full Jedi. Rewarded for her weakness, while his own protests were drowned by infuriating dismissal. Kira had been arrogant and disrespectful to him since, and he couldn’t stand her attitude.

A weak padawan had got possessed by a Sith. She had needed help to be freed. She got promoted.

Jedi masters had got possessed by a Sith. Some had needed help in shaking it off, some had to be killed, because there was no other choice left.

Culber was the only one who had managed to free himself from the possession and not get repossessed, and in thanks he got smacked back to where he was.

He knew Orgus’s Force ghost helped him. With such a powerful, wise ally he could achieve so much more. But he was denied that. He was battered with sweet words, compliments, and fake appreciation that didn’t mean anything. Empty platitudes. He didn’t need or want that. He knew his value. He knew he could be a useful tool for Republic’s needs. He wanted to be useful. He wanted to protect the Republic. What he needed was not to have his wings cut.

“Sorry, didn’t know anyone was here,” a voice said.

Culber turned to see who it was. He didn’t know the man.

“It’s all right, you didn’t interrupt anything.” His voice sounded a lot calmer than he felt.

“I just…” the man said, pointing to a computer terminal, “… just need to download some information.”

The Jedi gestured, inviting him to proceed.

“You’re Jedi Culber, right?”

The Mirialan grunted a confirmation.

“Everybody is talking about you. How you killed the Emperor.”

“Do they also laugh how I was denied a promotion?” It slipped out. Too late to take it back.

The man stopped working for a moment, then resumed. “No, but I heard a few speaking of their surprise that you weren’t granted a master title.”

Silence followed. Culber observed the man tinkering with the computer, his data pad, and the implants he had around his left eye.

“I’m Theron, by the way” the other one said eventually.

“Culber… but you already know that.”

“You okay?”

Culber remained silent. He didn’t feel like throwing a lying platitude, and it was not appropriate to tell the truth.

“I get it.” The other one nodded. “Maybe you need a friend to tal–” he didn’t finish.

The Jedi were not supposed to have friends. They were “emotional attachments”. Another point of the Jedi Code Culber considered idiotic. How having friends could be a wrong thing?

“I had two friends. One is dead, the other one wouldn’t understand.” As much as he loved T7, the astromech was not one he could drink his sorrows off with.

“Well, if you ever need to talk to someone over drinks, give me a call.”

“You mean rant to my heart’s content?”

“Do Jedi rant?” Theron smiled.

“Am I still a Jedi? I feel like I was fired.” The bitterness spilt out from his soul to his voice.

The other one watched him for a long moment. “I’m free tonight. And I surely could use a drink after the mess… I probably caused.”

“Mutual ranting session?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Culber smiled. “Count me in.” After a moment he added. “Why?”

Theron pondered the question for a moment. “You’re not what I expected.”

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