Summary: ِAs the flames of the Clone Wars begin to take the galaxy, a lone soldier finds himself far from home and behind enemy lines, alone with only his blaster and wits at his side... Author: Wannabe Scholar Title: Just a Soldier Genre: Adventure/Action Era: Clone Wars Disclaimer: Star Wars is property of George Lucas, Lucas Ltd. and Disney. I only nothing. ----- "You're nothing, but a slave, boy! You won't be entering anymore races!" "Sorry, but I have to pay my debts. Don't worry, he's a good man. He'll take good care of you both." "I now name you husband and wife…" "Join the Republic! Help fight the Separatists!" "What are you thinking?! You're going to get yourself killed?!" "I am… so proud of you… my son…" ----- He jostled awake and was rewarded with a splitting headache and blurry vision. The respirators in his helmet made his breathing drum loudly into his ears, so much so he ripped it off. He caught a glimpse of the white plasteel before tossing it aside, having the helmet clatter on something. After regaining some clarity, the young man looked at his surroundings. He was in a cockpit-an ARC starfighter, to be precise. The window was cracked, and something was clearly burning, given the awful smell of lubricant fuel. When he looked back at his controls, his white helmet rested on it, and the orange visor stared back at him in silent contempt. Breaking off eye contact, he looked forward at the seat in front of him. Slump in the seat was another body, wearing the same gray armor and uniform. "Hey, Dodge?! Dodge!" he shouted, shaking the body in the front seat, but there was no response. He backed away from his friend's corpse, a little shocked. He had known his fellow co-pilot a little. Unlike himself, a recruit for the army, Dodge was a clone from Kamino, fresh out of the vat and ready for combat. The two met briefly during their mission debrief and quickly got to know each other. He still remembered the grin on Dodge's face as the maniac itched for excitement. Now, Dodge was dead. He wanted to sit back in his seat. Maybe give a moment of silence for a fellow soldier, even if he only had known Dodge for a short time. However, he had no time to mourn, as a voice cried from the comm, "Lieutenant!" Leaning more, he struggled to reach the comm in front of Dodge's body. His finger was a centimeter away from the answer button when he heard, "I repeat, this is… aurek-niner! Is anyone there?!" At last, he pressed the button. "Aurek-zero-zero here, general," he answered. The harsh voice of General Lark barked from the damaged comm. "Where are you?! What happened?!" Trying to find an answer, he quickly looked around at his surroundings. Dusty sand rocks dotted every corner on his starfighter's viewport, rays of sunlight shone through the spaces in between, and there was clearly a strange blue tint to what was supposed to be a green sky. More memories came to the forefront. The mission was simple: get behind enemy lines and disable the shield generator that kept allied forces out. Clearly, he got in, but at a price. "Somewhere past the barrier," he reported and quickly glanced at Dodge's bloodied face. "Fighter's down, co-pilot is KIA. Exact coordinates, unknown." "You made it through?! Did anyone else get in?" "Negative, sir," he replied, remembering the other fighters that tried and were shot down. "Orders?" There was silence for a second, then, "You shouldn't be too far from the target. Scout the area and locate the shield generator. Destroy it, if you can." He bit back his tongue. Was this man seriously going to send him in the middle of enemy territory by himself? Whatever his thoughts were, he humbly agreed, against his own sanity. "Understood, sir. Aurek-zero-zero, out." Able to relax his muscles, he leaned back in his seat and met the orange glare of his helmet. He took the blasted thing and fastened it back on his head with a tiny click. "Sorry, Dodge," he apologized sadly to his co-pilot before he headed out. ----- As he was ordered, the lone soldier began scouting the area around his crashed starfighter. The desert surrounding it had rocky terrain several meters high. With all the sand, finding the enemy's generator would was like looking for a need in the middle of a haystack. Of course, there were other ways. Closing his eyes, he began to concentrate. Back at boot camp, he heard Jedi could sense their target from star systems away. He was no Jedi. He was never discovered by them, and by now, he'd be too old to join, but he managed to catch on a couple of tricks. Like sensing things, for instance. And sensed his target, he did. Less than a couple of klicks from his position. Hopefully, it would not be too hard to notice. So he went down the barren landscape. Just as he sensed, the enemy's shield generator was only a couple clicks away from his crashed fighter. The Separatist base near it was just as close, sticking out like a sore them from the rocks… and the generator was perfectly open for an attack. The soldier stopped taking a step forward and hide behind a giant boulder. Within seconds, battle droids of the Separatists marched their way near him, their clanking announcing their arrival. He spotted only five of them, no six! However, the sixth was not a droid. It was man, perhaps in the fortieth year of his life. He stood tall and proud, his beard and hair combed to a fine point. His posh look was completed with a fine gray outfit more befitting of a nobleman than a soldier. "Scout the perimeter," ordered the man, presumably the leader. "Inform Commander Tambor of the shield generator." "Roger, roger," acknowledged one droid, a yellow-striped commander, and it fanned out with the other droids. The Republic soldier frowned under his helmet, hearing the clanking of battle droids come closer to hiding spot. He did not want to draw out a firefight, but he guessed there was no other option now. Unholstering his blaster, he prepped himself and focused on his enemies. Two of the soldier's red bolts struck one battle droid. "Intruder! Shoot him!" shouted another droid as its comrade fell. The soldier did not give his enemies anymore time. Behind his rock, he fired a series of consecutive shots, going from one droid to another. The sounds of blaster fire drowned out whatever sound the fancy man was shouting into his commlink. The soldier ducked another an enemy shot and rolled out into the open before shooting down the remaining two droids. He whirled his blaster around to the other man. Blaster drawn and aimed, the Separatists man declared proudly, "You won't win, Republic scum! I've already informed Commander Tambor! He'll be sending droids down to stop you!" The soldier cursed himself, but said nothing to the other man. Fingering his trigger, he fired at his enemy in front of him. The man dodged and fired back, only for the soldier to dodge. The two exchanged in a brief flurry of blue and red. When one bolt struck near his foot, the soldier stepped back behind his rock. He had no more time to waste. He had to finish this. Taking out three small grenades from his utility belt and cupping them in one hand, the soldier shot back using his other. The Separatist was good dodging the shots, but he could not shoot while being so preoccupied. With that, the soldier tossed the grenades to the shield generator a few meters away and began his countdown. Three… The grenades rolled near the shield generator, each one beeping away the time. Two… The Separatist turned to the unprotected shield generator, eyes wide with horror. One! The soldier rushed to the safety behind another rockface, right before the grenades went off. Even though his helmet deafened the loud booms, it did not hide the wave of fire and electrical surges that went past him. Even the rocks, for all their sturdiness shook. He waited another few minutes before he was sure of coming out. The result of his sabotage was devastating, or "effective" in General Lark's language. Metallic shells and electrical wiring were spread out all over the rocky ground. Flames wreaked the air with their heat, and lying by the ruined generator was the body of the Separatist. The soldier stood over the scorched body. The fancy clothes had been partially burnt away, all the way down to the skin, so much that the body was almost unrecognizable. Most of all, the man not breathing. Catching a shining glimpse of metal, the soldier knelt down and took the object. It was the dead man's metal tag. The first name was melted, but the last was still visible: BONTERI. The soldier suppressed the ounce of guilt that threaten to swallow him. He turned his attention to his commlink, tuning it into the right frequency. "This is aurek-zero-zero, reporting. Shield generator is down. I repeat, shield generator is down." After a few minutes, he saw Republic fighters and frigates emerged overhead, barely visible over the clouds. The enemy seemed to mobilize their forces, but they were too late as blue turret fire rained down on the base. Its shields and anti-fighter guns were useless against the overwhelming onslaught. He tore his eyes away from the "spectacle" when his commlink chimed again. He answered, and the tiny and bald General Lark popped up. "Sir," he saluted. "At ease. The base is ours," the older man said with a wide grin. "You did commendable work, son. The Republic is forever grateful." "I'm sure, sir." "Don't worry, you'll be rewarded for it. I've already put in a recommendation. You'll be moving to a new fleet. It's a change, but one I'm sure you'll like… Also, in light of your actions, you've been promoted." Promoted? He did not bother to question, but he did not take any pride in it either. "I hope I am suited for the task," he said. "Oh, you will be. You can count on that. Congratulations, Captain Skywalker." "Thank you, sir," the new captain said stoically. As the line was cut, he looked down at the body of Bonteri with pity. The man needed to be sent back to his family and given a decent funeral, at least. He decided that would be his first order of business. But for now, Anakin Skywalker, Captain in the Grand Army of the Republic, watched as Republic warships razed the Separatist base to the ground.