The Birthday Gift
Word Count: 4967
A Forest, Toseng, One Week After the Battle of Toseng
Dion "Loth-cat" Ninx writes on their notebook while sitting on a fallen tree trunk. They're wearing a more casual, flexible outfit that their usual custom Mandalorian outfit, since the planet has proven to be of diverse climates and habitats. Although they're still wearing their usual blue shoes, this time they're wearing brown military fatigues and a t-shirt, showing a brand new tattoo on their right forearm. It was an oversimplified, more geometrical version of a mythosaur sigil; the horns were straighter, and the skull itself was replaced by three lines, one larger in the middle and the two equally smaller on the sides, resembling the shape of the skull. On the first pages of the notebook there were drawings of Wümuls, a deerlike species found on Dion's homeworld. Pages after that, it was written:
"Hangar duty blows. It's not like I'm going to learn something new about fixing stuff, I've been doing it my whole life! Note to self: Talk to Animal about how I can sign up for space patrol."
After an underline, it follows: "Big news today. We will be arriving at Toseng. There is a rebel cell there but it's not really a New Republic world so, better make a good first impression, I guess. Another thing: we got four new recruits! They'll go on active duty immediately to shore up our open slots before arriving, but it's nice to see new and hopeful faces. A good day overall."
On the next page, it reads: "Bulldog just came back from the preliminary scout mission of the planet, and he said he's taking me on patrol with him for my birthday. He found something he says I'll love. He's acting very proud of himself. Smug old fogey."
"There's this new recruit, her name is Cho Shuun, I've heard people call her Blue (she's a pantoran, how original). Anyway, she was really nice to me when we met. She sat next to me in the briefing room. Our elbows kept touching. I think she was doing it on purpose? Maybe not.
Probably probably not."
"I've just had the best day of my life! Cho offered to give me a tattoo. She says that in her culture it's very common and she learned by watching other members of her family get theirs. She has the traditional simple golden tattoos on her face, but also some of her own designs in her arms. It only took one session for her to tattoo my arm with a personalized mythosaur sigil of mine. I always wanted a tattoo!!!" The page ends with a drawing of the Mythosaur tattoo design Dion chose.
The next page says: "Cho's the fragging best. That is all," and below that, a drawing of Cho with her tattoo equipment. Under the drawing, there was written: "well, that wasn't all. Something big is gearing up, got to go."
"It's been a week since...
I can't believe how many new people we lost in that battle. They just joined, they were good people. I still hear them screaming. Slugger. Peacock.
I just thank the Force
I'm just glad Cho is okay. On a brighter side, her best friend hates me. His name is Zynnadi, but they call him Bearcat (if you see him you'll know why). Apparently he hates all Mandalorians, of course I tried to explain to him that I'm not really a mando, but honestly, he gets me nervous enough to not talk to him too much."
On the page Dion is writing, there is a drawing of their view of the woods and the mountains from there, with the caption: "It smells like wet leaves and firewood out here....."
"I'm starting to like that tattoo of yours," said Captain Andy "Bulldog" Clark while walking towards Dion.
"I really like it but, having it there it just... feels weird," Dion replied.
"Bah, you'll get used to it. I have one myself, although I don't know how it got there!" Bulldog chuckled.
"Of course you don't," Dion said almost to themselves.
"Is this it?"
"Oh, crik," said Dion in excitement, while putting their notebook in their backpack and standing up, following Bulldog. "I'm gonna start guessing," Dion added as they caught up.
Bulldog, confused, asked, "you wanna spoil your surprise now?"
"I dunno..." Dion responded. "Is it... a mythosaur?" They asked.
"Stop trying to guess. I ain't telling you."
"Ugh," Dion expressed in frustration. "All right. Is it... a bantha?"
"Is it a landspeeder?"
"You're not gonna guess," Bulldog said with confidence.
"Is it a dog? No wait, is it a bunch of kittens?"
"You mean a litter?"
"What's a litter?" Dion asked, confused, as they'd never heard that term before.
"A bunch of kittens," Bulldog responded.
"Why not just call it a bunch of kittens?"
"Because it's called a litter!" Bulldog responded, exasperated.
Still not understanding the term exclusive to the Galactic Basic language, Dion insisted "but why--?"
"More walkin', less talkin'," said Bulldog, interrupting Dion and trying to appease their curiosity. As they were walking, they came across a small path between a tree, which was really close to a rocky formation, and the bank of a river. Bulldog moved the branches of the tree, so Dion could pass. As he was doing so, he said to them "mind your step."
"I got it," Dion confidently replied.
"Oops," said Bulldog as he deliberately pushed Dion to the river, as they screamed in terror. Dion ascended from the water, breathing heavily, as Bulldog laughed.
"What is wrong with you?!" Dion yelled.
"You should see your face right now," Bulldog chortled, doubling over with heavier guffaws.
"What if I'd drowned?" Dion exclaimed.
"You're not gonna drown. Gotta work on that confidence, kid," Bulldog chuckled.
"Yeah, keep laughing, old man. See what happens."
"Heh, it's this way," Bulldog said while pointing at a place where Dion could get out of the water and follow the path.
"Ugh, you're the worst!" Dion said to him before swimming where Bulldog pointed.
"Your swimming is getting better," Bulldog noted to Dion, since swimming wasn't something they knew how to do, since there weren't enough places or time to swim back in their homeworld. "Remember now, don't just flail about, you gotta--"
"--push the water with your whole armʼ" Dion completed Bulldog's sentence after having heard it before when he first taught them how to swim on the Vigilant. "Blah blah blah."
"Glad to know I'm getting through," Bulldog said proudly as Dion got out of the water.
They kept walking a little bit, until Bulldog tugged Dion's sleeve. "Loth-cat, c'mere. Take a look at this. You see that creature over there?"
"Where?" Dion asked.
"See it? Just through there, look," said Bulldog while pointing at a deerlike creature, peacefully eating grass.
"Yeah, I see it," Dion confirmed.
Bulldog was silently admiring the animal until Dion said "Looks like..." and suddenly pushed Bulldog to the water.
"Woah!" Bulldog exclaimed while splashing in the river.
As he came out to the surface, Dion asked with their arms open, boasting on their revenge "How's that feel?"
"Refreshing," Bulldog answered while taking his breath back, but not at all mad.
"Yeah, it's not nice getting pushed in, is it?"
"Well...actually, we need to swim through this part anyway," Bulldog shrugged.
Without accepting Bulldog's calmness, Dion said, almost as an order, "I got you back, you're angry and upset."
"I'm very angry and upset, now come on."
"Ugh!" Dion expressed in frustration. After that, they jumped into the river, following Bulldog. After swimming for a bit, they both returned to solid ground, and Dion resumed their guessing. "Is it... my old school history teacher wanting to apologize for being a massive moof-milker?"
"I beg your pardon?" asked Bulldog in an authoritarian tone, surprised by the young pilot's language.
"My friend and I would argue whenever he called the Mandalorians terrorists," Dion explained. "We got a lot of detention."
Bulldog stopped walking, turning to Dion. "You know, you really need to stop letting people rile you up. Take it from me."
"It's hard when they're moof-milkers," Dion responded.
"Point still stands," Bulldog insisted, with the safety of Dion in mind as he kept walking. "Hey, we got to dive over there," he said, pointing at a submerged section, forming an underwater path.
"Where are you taking me?" Dion asked with a nervous laugh. Both of them got into the water again. Taking a deep breath, they dived underwater, coming out from the other side of the rocks and nature that made it impossible to swim across on the surface. Then, Dion continued questioning Bulldog. "Is it... a new pair of shoes?"
"How many of those do you have?" he asked back.
"Pff, not enough," Dion answered.
Bulldog climbed to a high ground with some difficulty, and then offered his hand to Dion to help them climb as well. "Here."
As they were both on the ground again, Dion said "okay. Screw it. I'm done guessing."
"Oh, good," said Bulldog, relieved.
"But like... is it a massive flimsiplast collection... no, wait... a new holoprojector collection?"
Bulldog sighed and simply said, "yes."
Dion, frustrated with the ambiguous answer, asked again, "but, which one?"
"Just yes," said Bulldog with a smile.
"How about data-tapes? I heard that's a thing."
Bulldog stood next to a tree, waiting for Dion to take the lead. As they kept walking, they saw an imposing figure: a to-scale mythosaur replica. It was somewhat overtaken by nature, mostly covered by leaves and vines. "Dank farrik, Bulldog!"
"Oh my god, it IS a mythosaur!" Dion exclaimed with both hands on their head.
"That it is," said Bulldog, happy to see Dion so excited.
"Bulldog!" said Dion, still in disbelief at their shipmate's discovery.
"Dank farrik..." repeated Dion while laughing out of excitement. "It's a motherfragging mythosaur!"
Next to the statue, there was a building similarly covered in vines, with a sign that said "Toseng Museum of Science and History". Dion got closer to the replica, and read from a plate in front of it "'Mythosaurs were creatures of gigantic proportions that were allegedly tamed and ridden by ancient Mandalorians.ʼ What a big boy." Dion took out their notebook and drew the Mythosaur as depicted by the recreation. Dion started walking towards the tail of the beast, followed by Bulldog, but before he knew it, Dion was already climbing on top of the statue.
"What are you doing?" asked Bulldog with a nervous laugh. "Loth-cat, be careful!"
"I'm climbing a mythosaur!" Dion cheerfully responded.
"Yeah, I can see that. Just don't die falling off of one," Bulldog warned, starting to worry.
When they reached the head, Dion yelled with their arms up, "look at me! I'm on a motherfraggin' mythosaur!
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! What are you doing? Don't jump. Just... climb down," Bulldog said to Dion, now definitely worried.
Dion saw a place where the ground was broken, and deep water had accumulated over time. With a loud roar, they jumped.
"Hey, hey--!" Bulldog shouted in terror as Dion splashed into the water.
Then, when Dion ascended to the surface, they asked with a child-like enthusiasm "Ho! Did you see that?"
"Yeah, I saw that," said Bulldog as if his soul left his body for a second and suddenly returned.
"Oh, wasn't it awesome?" Dion asked.
"It's awesome that you didn't break anything," Bulldog responded.
"Ahh, that was awesome." Dion left the water and walked with Bulldog towards the museum. He then opened the door for Dion. In the entrance to the museum, there was a stand with one pamphlet. They grabbed it and asked "what's this?"
"Uh, It's a book," said Bulldog, noting the obvious.
"It's a fossils book!" said Dion, emphasizing the importance of their discovery.
"All right." Dion went inside the building to explore it. Inside, a hat immediately caught their attention. "Oh man!" they exclaimed, while Bulldog sighed, knowing that somehow this discovery would involve him. As he feared, Dion asked him, "you wanna try it on?"
"I do not."
"Hm! Your loss," said Dion while putting on the forgotten hat, reminding them of legendary Bounty Hunters they heard of like Cad Bane and Embo. They noticed a counter and behind it, an office, so they went there. Inside, they sat in a chair in front of a desk with a computer and a comlink, which they grabbed and playfully pretended to have a conversation with someone. "Oh, hello, sorry, the fossils are busy right now."
"What are you doing?" Bulldog asked while leaning on the door frame with his arms crossed.
"Oh wait..." Dion kept playing, "one of the fossils is here. Bulldog, it's for you."
"Very funny," said Bulldog.
Dion laughed a bit. "It's pretty funny," they said to themselves. "Do you get it? It's 'cause you're old."
"Oh, I got it, yeah."
As they kept exploring, they came across a big hall of fossils. The first one that caught Dion's eye was one of tall stature and sharp bone spurs protruding over their body. They looked for the species in the little book and read aloud, "ʼThe Massassi were a species who lived on Yavin 4, the fourth moon of Yavin Prime. They built enormous stone temples on the moon for unknown purposes. The Massassi went extinct sometime after finishing their temples.ʼ"
"You would not wanna cross one of these guys on a bad day," Bulldog said.
As they moved on to the next, they stopped at a fossil of what appeared to be some kind of bird. While reading the book, Dion said, "ʼShriek-hawks, also known as jai'galaar, were a species of predatory bird native to the planet Mandaloreʼ. Oh awesome!"
"Why is it awesome?" Bulldog asked.
"It's a mandalorian predator, the most badass kind."
"Hm. Pretty short for that."
"Wait, were you talking about me?" Dion asked. After that, they approached the fossil, and while laughing, put the hat on its skull. "Bulldog! Look!"
"That is... a hat on a fossil."
"It's called a Shriek-hat." Dion was able to get a smile out of Bulldog.
The next fossil was one of a two-meters humanoid shaped species. Dion read, "ʼThe Taung were an ancient sentient species of the Core Worlds planet Coruscant. The day of Taungsday was named for the species.ʼ Ugh, who names these? It sounds like tongue."
"Scientists," Bulldog responded.
"Well... they're dumb."
Dion came closer to the biggest fossil yet, a saurian species with a long neck. "ʼPaar's ichthyodont were noted for their large appetite, eating six hundred pounds of plants each day.ʼ Ho! Imagine the crap!" Bulldog laughed at Dion's observation.
Behind a wall, there was another section, containing a table with multiple skulls of various species. Dion was impressed when they saw the skull of a Zeffo. "Look how big this one's skull is!"
"Kinda looks like Lock," Bulldog said with a smirk.
"I'm telling him you said that."
"Please don't," Bulldog said quickly, although he continued to compare them. "Catch it in the right light, boom. Lock."
Right next to the wall at the right of the skulls, there was a skeleton pretty much the same as a human one, which woke Dion's curiosity. The plate in front of it read, "Zhell."
"Whoa. This one looks like a human."
"Well actually, historians believed that humans were descended from Zhells."
"Well, excuse me, Mr. Professor," Dion said in a sarcastic tone.
"I happen to know a thing or two," Bulldog replied defensively.
As they kept walking, Dion found another hat, and approached their companion. "Hey, Bulldog."
"Loth-cat," said Bulldog, unable to stop Dion from putting the hat on top of his head.
He growled, but was scolded by Dion who told him, "don't you dare take it off. My birthday, my rules," they said while softly punching Bulldog in the shoulder.
"Ugh..." he expressed.
While taking the stairs to the second floor, Dion asked, "did you go to museums a lot?"
"On Rendili? Nah, most of the time I was drunk or helping my dad with the family business... or both," Bulldog replied.
Both of them got closer to the rail, where they could see the skull of the long-necked saurian much closer. "Looks like a ronto," Dion noted.
"Yeah it does, doesn't it," said Bulldog while taking off the hat. He threw it flawlessly, landing it on the skull of the beast. "I see the appeal."
"Heh, told ya," Dion agreed with a small laugh.
As they were leaving the building through the back door, Dion saw a field filled with old ships they immediately recognized. The place appeared to be a battlefield at some point during the Clone Wars, with a crashed Venator-class Star Destroyer over the horizon. Dion gasped and exclaimed, "did you know this was here?!"
"Oh, you don't like it," said Bulldog, trying to sound disappointed. "We can head back."
"Oh, shut up!" said Dion while laughing out of wonder. They went running towards a downed Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighter. "Hey Bulldog, guess what was the first species to go through hyperspace?"
"I don't have to guess, it was the Devaronians," Bulldog answered confidently.
"No, they were Purrgils! Yeah, they had the natural ability to fly through hyperspace by creating simu-tunnels."
"Damn, kid, you are smart," Bulldog said, impressed.
"Thanks." They continued exploring the forgotten battlefield, and when they came across an almost intact Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry. Dion expressed their amazement with a deep "whoa..."
"How many flimsiplasts have you read about all this stuff?" asked Bulldog, impressed by the hunger for knowledge of his companion.
"C'mon, Bulldog... isn't it incredible?"
"Heh, why don't you tell me what you like about it?"
"Mmm... I dunno. These things from other times... they tell stories."
"Hmm, I guess, sure."
"I mean, if it weren't for this, we wouldn't know how the world we live in was shaped, how the soil in which we stand was formed. It's... to know the past, is to know ourselves, our story. And by knowing our story we can build a better future," Dion realized.
Bulldog reflected on that for a bit, and with a smile he replied, "all right, kid. Now I get it."
Dion sat on top of a forward command center, took out their notebook, and drew a ship in space, apparently going towards a planet, and under the drawing, they wrote: "one day."
Almost buried in the ground, Dion saw a NR-N99 Persuader-class droid enforcer, and got on top of it. "Oh, hell yeah."
"Where's the pilot seat?" asked Bulldog.
"Droid tanks don't need pilots," Dion clarified for Bulldog. "They're just like any droid."
"Huh," Bulldog expressed, surprised. "Hang on, so this thing can wake up and move at any moment?"
As Dion climbed down, they responded, "considering that these were deactivated and abandoned 23 years ago, I would say no."
Dion was curious when they noticed stone pillars with helmets on top. As they got closer, they realized that they were Clone Trooper helmets, and they were put there as a graveyard for the clones who died there, possibly set up by the locals. Dion grabbed a Clone trooper pilot helmet, a phase II open variant. "So cool," Dion said while looking at it, and then they put it on.
"How's it smell in there?" Bulldog asked.
"Like clones! And dust," Dion replied. Right next to the graveyard, there was a crashed Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptor, with its astromech droid still attached to it, which saddened Dion. They walked surrounding the ship, and then cleared the dust off one of the S-foils, revealing the Jedi crest. This gave Dion a strange feeling, like they suddenly were in a state of deep grief and reflection. It gave them a certain sense of belonging and at the same time, an urge for reaching out to something else. As these feelings went away, Dion got inside the empty cockpit.
"Whoa! What the varp!" Dion said, amazed by the inside of the starfighter, pushing buttons and making noises, while Bulldog was outside watching. "Wow!"
"Would you look at all these buttons," said Bulldog, accompanying Dion in their amazement.
"It's so badass," said Dion.
As they kept playing, Bulldog took out of his pocket a small holoprojector and handed it over to Dion, telling them, "happy birthday, kid."
"What is this?" Dion asked.
"This is a thing that took a mighty effort to find. Take it." Dion took it, and as they put it next to the board, Bulldog said, "close your eyes, it'll be worth it."
"Okay." Dion closed their eyes and pressed to play the message. The blue projection spread itself across the cockpit, simulating the view from space.
Then a voice came out of the device that made Dion open their eyes and see around them. "This is the commander, all fighters move to battle positions," said the voice of a Clone commander. Dion saw that the hologram was a recreation of a Clone Wars space battle, and looked at Bulldog, smiling and without words. "Awaiting orders from the general," the voice said, as Bulldog slowly closed the hatch of the ship, submerging Dion in their fantasy. As the commander and the Jedi general exchanged orders, Dion could feel the ship moving, reacting to the explosions around it. They could hear the blaster fire of allied and enemy ships, and feel the light of the closest star passing through the window. For a moment, they were a Jedi, fighting for the peace and justice of the galaxy, defending the Galactic Republic. As the transmission ended, they felt like they were going back to Toseng. As they opened their eyes, Bulldog opened the hatch. Dion stared at him with pure bliss.
"I do okay?" Bulldog asked softly.
"Are you crikking kidding me?" asked Dion, as the answer was obvious due to their notorious happiness.
They both laughed, and Bulldog said, "you're welcome, kid." After a long pause, he asked, "whaddya say we keep looking around, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess," said Dion, still smiling as they took off the helmet. They placed the holoprojector in their backpack and left the cockpit.
As Dion left the fighter, Bulldog handed them over a blaster pistol of his, a modified DL-44 heavy blaster pistol, and told them, "hey, welcome home. Modified it myself."
"Yeah!" exclaimed Dion, grateful for the gift even though they weren't the best shot. After further appreciation, they put the blaster in their backpack as well.
They both left the field and saw a building across a river bigger than the one before, with a little more current, but the building was considerably lower than they were at the moment. The building also read "Toseng Museum Natural History Center."
"There's more museum stuff over there," Dion pointed out.
"I never checked out that building," Bulldog said.
"Let's go!" Dion proposed.
"And just how do you plan on getting yourself over there?" Bulldog asked.
And without warning, Dion jumped from the edge of where they were, while screaming, hearing Bulldog also screaming, "Loth-cat, god!" As Dion came out of the water, Bulldog asked rhetorically, "you ever give anyone else this much grief?"
"Get down here!"
"Hey, whose birthday is it?"
"You can't keep doing that!"
"I want a good splash! We've got more exploring to do!"
Finally, after convincing himself, Bulldog jumped while screaming, "son of a--!"
As he splashed into the water, Dion laughed and said to themselves, "nice."
As they both got out of the water, Dion rushed to the main doors, but they were stuck. However, they saw a broken glass panel which could get them inside. "Hey! Boost me there."
"Uhh... yeah, I don't know..." Bulldog was not sure what could be on the other side.
"I'll open the door for you. Come on, we can't go back now!"
Still not sure, Bulldog put himself in position so Dion could climb on top and pass through the window. "Alright, go... there!"
Dion landed on the other side just to realize that there was too much debris covering the door to open it. "Okay, bad news. There's stuff blocking the door!"
"Well, see if you can find me another way in. I'll walk around the outside!"
"Okay, be safe!"
"You be safe!"
"There are mythosaurs around!"
Dion walked inside the building, and in the center of the first room there was a depiction of a pack of white wolves surrounding a defenseless Nerf. "Oof. Stay strong, buddy," they murmured while looking at it. On the wall to the left, there was something written, but not something from the museum. They were spray-painted words that said, "I killed for them," to which, when Dion noticed it, they commented, "this guy needed a hug."
As Dion went further inside the building there was less and less light, but also, they felt something else. Something was wrong. "It's dark in here..." They found another message in a wall, this one said:
"The 4 soldiers at the gate
The last one cried"
Suddenly, they heard a noise, which quickly made them take out their new blaster, and the scare made them say, "scrag." There was another message on a wall, reading: "The woman we tortured choked on her own blood."
The noises didn't stop, and as Dion was getting ready for a fight, they said, "come out, bastard..."
They came across another message that said:
"the kid who ran into the blast
I couldn't stop him."
The noises became louder and louder, and as Dion progressed, the building was more in ruins. Then they spotted a final message on top of a hole, next to a corpse that said, "there is no hope." Dion got closer to the corpse. It was a Zabrak, they shot themselves through the head, and next to them there was a note, which Dion read.
"We wanted to end suffering. We wanted to restore our world. Each time we sacrificed part of ourselves, our leaders kept saying, ʼit'll be worth it.ʼ
Now we've won, and all the horrible things we did never mattered. They want us to be the new rulers, with nothing to show for our sins.
I thought coming here might reignite something. Some purpose. My parents loved bringing me here. It's one of my earliest memories from before the Clone Wars. Before all of the cruelty and savagery.
Those memories just made me angrier.
I don't want to be in this world anymore. I can't look at the person I've become."
Dion kept the note in their backpack, and with blaster in hand, they went through the hole in the wall. When they crossed it, they gasped in fear, caused by a recreation of a pack of wolves looking in their direction. "Stupid fake animals."
They jumped a fence, and were suddenly pushed aside by a running razor-boar, which after knockingDion to the ground, disappeared into another hallway. As Dion struggled to get up, they expressed their discomfort by saying, "druk." As they were picking up their blaster that had been tossed away by the collision, they picked it up and saw the word "liars" painted on the wall, and above it, something else.
"Loth-cat!" screamed Bulldog, outside of the building, trying to force the door to open.
"I'm in here!"
Bulldog managed to open the door, and quickly entered the building with a blaster in his hand. Agitated, he asked, "the hell was that?"
"It's just some animal," Dion responded, barely looking at Bulldog with their eyes on the wall. Bulldog looked and saw that above the word "liars" was a Rebel Alliance starbird painted. The Zabrak, and all those things they did, were for the rebels.
After a long pause, Bulldog said, "well, let's get a move on. I want to get a fire going before it gets too dark."
As Dion kept looking at the starbird, they said, "when I joined the Rebellion, the New Republic, Renegade... I did it to liberate worlds from the Empire, including my own," Dion said.
"Yeah. Yeah that's what you told me," Bulldog replied.
"I've never been close to my homeworld ever since. The Ringali Nebula, Skoth. All those missions to kill Imps and destroy stuff. Do you think we are actually helping?" Dion asked.
"Those missions get us closer to victory. To freedom," Bulldog responded.
"Do you believe that?"
Bulldog changed his expression from concerned to serious and asked, "is now really the time for this?"
"I traveled across the galaxy to join the New Republic... I had so much hope for them. Why do we party and dance on the Vigilant while the war isn't over?"
"Because you're not fighting this war alone, and when you've seen the things some of us have, you need those moments, otherwise we'll never win--"
"Of course we'll never win if we do nothing! Maybe if we actually fought against the Empire all those deaths would have meant something. I left my family. What if they need me? What if I can't help them? what if--"
"Loth-Cat!" Bulldog interrupted them loudly. "There is no other way. There's nothing that you can do right now to help your people or anybody else. I know you wish things were different-- I wish things were different. But they ain't. The only thing we can do to change things is keep fighting the way we know how. Is there something else you'd like to debate?"
"No," Dion responded after a brief pause.
"Good, c'mon," said Bulldog as he walked to the door.
Dion stood there for a while, and then followed him.