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Saga Rostu's Renegades: The Continuing Adventures (Ch. 10 Now Up!) Back in Business

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Jedi Gunny, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Author: Jedi Gunny
    Prefix: Saga
    Synopsis: A continuation of the Summer 2011 RPG of the same name, found here:
    If you're ever interested, I suggest you read the entire game thread (it's not too long). It's a good read, and gives you insight into who the characters are and why they're where they are.

    Back Cover-ish Thing:

    The 44th Experimental Division is back, and better than ever! Join them as they face perils far and wide, continually trying to fit in as the Clone Wars rage on around them. Full of action, suspense, friendship (or lack thereof), and betrayal as the 44th slogs through it's biggest challenge yet.

    Notes: I was one of the players in the original RPG game, along with tjace, Trieste, UnknownRogue and a few others (including The Loyal Imperial as our awesome GM), as the character Napp. The game was originally designed to be a "Summer Blockbuster", and occur over just a month of real time just like a movie has its time restraints. However, I wasn't satisfied with leaving our intrepid gang go away after the game finished, because there was still a lot to write. So here's the first of hopefully several stories bridging the gap between the RPG and the end of Episode 3. :)

    And now, to the story!

    Chapter 1: The 44th Division

    A blaster bolt whizzed by, narrowly missing the surprisingly-red head of an otherwise green-skinned Rodian. He wheeled around to take a shot at his attacker with his DT-57 heavy blaster pistol, but his arm was grabbed from the side and tugged upon with quite a bit of force. He fell down a split-second before the enemy soldier could squeeze off another shot, landing behind a large rock that would easily cover his body from the enemy’s sights. Picking himself off of the ground, he looked at who had “saved” him. Above him was a large Feeorin, his eyes blood red in color, staring back at him. The being’s skin was jet black in color, beads of sweat running down and soaking the simple gray battle tunic that he wore. His large biceps were covered in multi-colored tattoos, most of which no one quite understood their personal meaning. All anyone could really tell was that that they were everywhere on his flesh. “I had him,” the Rodian said simply to the Feeorin. “It was an easy shot.”

    “You were lucky you weren’t killed, Bazak,” Napp said, gripping his blaster pistol in one hand. “We can’t afford to have our medic go down on the battlefield. If we did, you’d probably roll in your grave just thinking about how the rest of us would be festering our wounds without your expertise. Plus, I don’t think you had the angle.”

    “Right, Mr. Big Shot,” Octro Bazak said with a tinge of sarcasm, lifting his torso off the ground so he was finally in a sitting position. With one hand, he wiped some dust off of his black jacket, and then proceeded to wipe off his worn combat boots. “I’d like to see you do better.”

    “Fine,” Napp said. He crawled past the Rodian and looked around the side of the rock the two were hiding behind. The enemy soldier who had shot moments earlier noticed his presence, and instantly fired a bolt in Napp’s direction. Instinctively, Napp rolled out of the way of the shot and held his DL-44 blaster aloft. Firing it off, he ducked to cover without seeing where his bolt had struck. Seconds later, he decided to look and see what damage he had done. The enemy’s body lay limp on the ground, a hole evident in the diminutive Gossam’s chest where a blaster shot had gone through and killed it. “That was easy,” Napp said. From the look of it, the bolt had done quite a bit of damage when it had entered the Gossam’s body.

    “Always taking credit for things that you didn’t do, eh, Napp?” said a familiar voice. Napp wheeled around to see a green-skinned Khil woman dressed in pearly-white Republic-issued armor holding a standard-issue blaster and giving him a slight smirk. Or, it as much of a smirk as a Khil could give you. The end of her carbine was still smoking, displaying that it had just been fired. “I’d say that you missed by a good ten meters.”

    “Nice shot, Corporal,” Napp said, somewhat deflated by this. He had to admit; she was a pretty good shot in her own right. The Army had taught her well when it had come to weapons training. Now, they hadn’t fixed her attitude, but that was what made her stand out. Actually, that was something that the entire 44th Division was known for. Instead of following orders and staying in strict battle strategies like the clones did, the 44th was a bit more . . . flexible. If something went wrong, they could quickly regroup and change up the plan. No suicidal charges for a bunch of soldiers interested in keeping themselves alive in order to cash that monthly paycheck. Maybe they were all in it to see the Separatist forces destroyed, or maybe they just were in it to get paid. Whatever they were in all this for, it had led them to action with the Republic regulars in the Rim campaign. Getting employed by the Army meant putting oneself into harm’s way, but at least it paid well.

    “Nice shot indeed,” Corporal Talnar said. “Now, we need to move to that rock formation over there. That’s what the Major said was the closest position to the Seps’ operations.” She pointed across the landscape towards a large formation a good thousand meters away that pierced into the pale blue sky and cast a wide shadow around its base. From this distance, it looked almost like a formerly-square chunk of rock that several Gundarks had gotten hold of and ripped to shreds. However, it probably had not been creatures attacking the rock; that job had been taken by Separatist gunners firing at the main body of the Republic Third Army. This was the army that had accompanied the 44th Division to the small and insignificant planet of Moorja on their first ever mission as a unit, and had screwed things up royally by attacking the capital city of Moorjay, which had been a CIS stronghold, before the 44th had enough time to rescue a captured Jedi General. That failure had been a specter in the minds of the 44th ever since that battle, and they were trying to use it as motivation in going forth. Even though it probably wasn’t too important that they had failed, given that most of the so-called “Renegades” of the 44th were looking to get paid over winning the war, it still wasn’t a good mark to have on the military record that you failed in your mission, especially when it involved little in terms of fighting skill and was more an undercover rescue operation than a battle. It was one of those pride issues, and for a bunch of fame-seeking individuals, they hadn’t gained much notoriety for the Moorja campaign. It was time to show the Third Army command staff that the 44th deserved better action . . . and, if possible, more pay.

    “Agreed,” Napp said. “Does the Third have any guns aimed on those rocks?” The corporal shook her head. “Just as I figured. We’re on our own out here.” He looked to Octro, who had now stood up completely. “It’s going to be a mad scramble to get over there, and we’ll be going in blind. Doubt there is much cover on the way, so it’ll be a straight shot. If we get there in one piece, we can proceed.”

    “Where are Bo and Jai?” the corporal asked. She was referring to Bo-Yinko and Jai Hespera, the other two members of the Renegades.

    “No idea,” Napp said. “Haven’t seen them since we peeled off from the rest of the Army. Maybe they’re still out there on the front lines?”

    “It’s possible,” the corporal said. “I’m going to contact them.” She picked up her comlink and waited for a response. Finally, someone came on the other end. “Where are you two?” Some words were exchanged, and then the Corporal lowered her comm. unit. “They’re already by that rock formation. Apparently the front line is slowly coming this way as the armies attack and then counterattack. We don’t have much time before the Seps are on top of us.”

    “Those damn clones can’t do anything right,” Octro commented. “We’re going to have to do this ourselves.”

    “All right. “Tell them we’re coming over,” Napp said to the Corporal. “Octro, make sure that if either of us fall, you’re right there to clean up the mess.”

    “Don’t get too bloody, because I only have a limited supply of bacta,” Octro said. “I don’t want to have to amputate anything today either.”

    “What a pleasant thought,” Talnar said. “I’m glad you’re here to give us these bloody details.” She then relayed the information to the other Renegades. “We’re ready to go when you are, Napp.”

    “Let’s go. The sooner we leave, the better the chance we have to survive.” Without warning, Napp emerged on the other side of the rock and started to run towards the rock formation. Looking at each other, Octro and the Corporal followed the Feeorin across the barren landscape, blasters at the ready.

    Almost immediately the three came under fire. Separatist troops, both organic and droid, opened fire on the three, the energy bolts whizzing through the air like a nest of angry hornets. Napp raised his pistol and let off two shots, downing two droids with ease. The Corporal followed suit, gunning down a Nemoidian who was carrying some loose explosives with a well-aimed shot to the torso. Octro fired at some of the enemy troops as well, but his shots were off the mark, probably because he didn’t have enough time to aim well before squeezing off his shots. “Wouldn’t have it any other way!” Napp shouted to the others as he came upon a battle droid. Dodging its blaster shot, Napp swung his arm down on the droid’s neck joint. The tremendous force that resulted from this motion severed the circuit in two, cleaving off the droid’s head and causing the rest of the body to fall to the ground in a heap. Looking at the carnage he had just created, Napp grinned. Not many Republic soldiers could pull that off like he had.

    This was when there was a loud explosion in the immediate area. Someone was shooting mortars in their direction, given their distinctive sound as they whizzed through the air. Napp followed the trace of the next shell by figuring out its sound pattern and weaved out of its way by diverting from his otherwise straight path. The resulting explosion cut down two battle droids and severely injured another Nemoidian, but the three Renegades were unharmed. Napp knew that they could not stay out much longer in this open environment. They were far too exposed to be effective, and those CIS gunners were undoubtedly going to keep firing these shells in hopes of killing them before they could reach the rocks. Their only hope was to the get to the others’ location without losing limbs. Two more mortars made their presence known as they exploded on the ground, sending dirt flying everywhere. Napp looked back at the other two; they were now in a breakneck run, no longer content on shooting enemy soldiers while on the move. The introduction of the high explosives to the situation had caused them to resort to fight-or-flight response, and in this instance, it was better to flee than keep fighting. Plus, the enemy troops were just as disoriented as they were, which gave the Renegades the chance they were looking for. Stowing his blaster pistol in its side holster, Napp began to run harder than before, intent on reaching the formation before the gunners finally had him in their sights and would land a mortar on top of him. By his estimates it was about another 300 meters to the formation. A battle droid tried to shoot him in the side, but he reached out and punched the droid as he passed, knocking it to the ground.

    Another mortar landed about twenty meters behind Napp as he was in the home stretch. He looked back, hoping that the other two, who had been trailing him the entire time, had not gotten caught in the blast. As the smoke and dust settled, he looked on the ground for any sight of two bodies. If he saw that, they would surely be dead. The Seps were using high-energy mortars; if one of those caught you napping, you were dead. The only time Napp had fired off mortars was back when he was in a professional mercenary gang. Back then, they had only used low-powered mortars, mostly used to frighten opposition long enough to ready the landing party and claim their prize. These shells were a lot more powerful than those he had been using previously, and the holes they left in the landscaper proved his point. Out of the dust came the Corporal, closely followed by Octro. The Khil woman had a scratch on her head, but otherwise they were unscathed. Napp breathed a sigh of relief; that could have ended really badly. Losing two of the five team members would put a serious dent in the 44th’s movements, and would rob them of a medic and trained Army officer. But, that hadn’t happened, and now they were close to the rock formation. Plus, the dust could potentially be useful as cover for the final stretch.

    “Almost there,” Napp shouted to the others before taking off once again. No more enemy soldiers stood in his way, probably due to the mortars. Although the battle droids were not effected by loud sounds and filtering dust like the organic troops were, their lack of an effective brain to process thoughts prevented them from being a real issue at this point, and thus Napp did not see any of them escape the cloud of smoke. If the CIS gunners were going to keep firing in that patch of open ground, it would make things easier for the Renegades. Preoccupy the heavy artillery, and then mount an assault by coming in the back door. It was a simple military maneuver, one that was undoubtedly etched into the brains of officers going through Republic military school. The Corporal would be able to pull it off with ease because she had practiced it many times throughout the war with actual armed forces, but would the others be able to follow her lead?

    Napp finally reached the rocky outcropping. Drawing his blaster, he peered around the side of the rock. A distance away stood about fifteen NR-N99 Persuader tanks, their blaster cannons and various other armaments standing at the ready. Littered amongst the crowd were several AAT tanks, their droid commanders poking their heads out as they waited for instructions. It seemed like they were waiting for something; was the 44th walking into a trap? The other two Renegades caught up and joined Napp in staring around the corner of the formation.

    “Those tanks mean business,” Talnar said. “They’re waiting for us to arrive, aren’t they?”

    “We need the Army to get them out of the way for us,” Octro offered. “No way we can destroy them by ourselves, especially not with just the three of us.”

    “Agreed,” Napp said. “But we have to get past them if we’re going to win this battle.” He pulled out his macrobinoculars and stared through the eye piece. Through the lens, he could see the tanks guarding several launch spots, which probably were the site where the mortars were being shot. From this vantage point, Napp could tell that they were about ten meters wide and roughly eight meters wide, with the center few meters acting as the launch site. Around each platform were the remaining warheads, their fuses ready to be lit at a moments’ notice. In order to destroy the mortar launchers, they would have to remove the tanks first, which would be quite the challenge. “We have to get rid of those tanks.”

    “That’s suicide!” Talnar said. “The Army certainly knew what it was doing in sending us out here ahead of the regulars. Those damn clones get all the credit, yet we’re going to be the ones opening up the enemy’s defenses, probably at the cost of all our lives. It’s just not worth it, especially against those Persuaders. We’d have more of a chance against Hailfires, to be honest.”

    “But we’re stuck here,” Octro said. “We have to get out, or they will pound away at us until there’s nothing left for us to hide behind. And then we’re in perfect range for their cannons.”

    “They’re out of range for my explosives,” Napp said, still looking through the binoculars. “I’d say that we’d need to almost be right on top of them for a grenade to work.”

    “Or a thermal detonator,” Talnar said. Napp nodded.

    “But we’re still out of effective range for those,” Napp said. “With their armor and this distance, they’ll only be scratched. We need to get in closer somehow . . .”

    “Closer?!” Octro exclaimed. “Are you insane? They’ll blow us away!”

    “We have no choice, Bazak,” Napp said, his face sullen. “If we stay here for too long, the Seps will figure out that we made it through the wasteland, and will then start firing right at us with those tanks. We need to stay on the move if we’re to survive.”

    “I knew you would say that,” Octro said.

    “Corporal, what is the status of your slugthrower? How much ammo do you have left?”

    Talnar looked down at her slug rifle. Opening up the carbine, she peeked inside. “I have a few slugs left, but not enough to dispatch all of those tanks.”

    “That will have to do,” Napp said. “New plan. Corporal, you will go find a good sniping spot where you have a good view of this area. Clear our path to the mortar platforms. Bazak, you and I will go in there and destroy the platforms before they do much more damage. Make sure you have a det with you; those will come in handy at some point.”

    “Shouldn’t we meet up with the others first?” Talnar asked. “They can help us. Jai is one of the best snipers in the Third Army. And Bo’s no slouch when it comes to fighting.”

    “For all we know, they could have gotten caught up in the whirlwind,” Napp said. He pointed east; out there was the front line of the battle between the CIS forces and the Third Army. Blue blaster bolts met with red laser bolts in a dizzying array of color, and explosions were common, engulfing many combatants in deadly flames each time. No doubt the Republic forces were sustaining heavy casualties; they always did. Even during the Moorja campaign, clone losses were high. That’s why the 44th had come into being; to try and finish battles off by sneaking around and destroying key installations before enemy forces could do in more Republic troops in the main fighting. Of course, sneaking into heavily-guarded outposts was just as dangerous as fighting on the front lines, so the ragtag Renegades weren’t being done any favors by getting these assignments. Actually, although they wouldn’t admit it, maybe these missions were actually more dangerous than front-line action was.

    “Fine,” Talnar said. “Just don’t get yourself killed.” With that, she lifted her slugthrower and ran towards a more advantageous position in the craggy rock formation. Napp put away the binoculars and drew his blaster from its holster.

    “You ready for this, Medic?” he asked. He really didn’t care what the Rodian was going to say, because he had already made his mind up. It was time to run into the heart of the storm and teach these enemies a lesson.

    “Damn it, Napp!” Octro said, an angry expression on his face. “You’re going to get us killed! Or, at the very least, captured and then tortured!”

    “That’s what makes this so fun,” Napp said, a small grin on his face. “You don’t get to do this back at HQ.”

    “Bet they’re safer there,” Octro muttered. “They’re not following a crazed meathead into a storm of blaster fire.” Napp stood up and charged forward, his blaster pistol raised in the air. He squeezed off a shot at the lead tank; it didn’t even leave a scratch on the side plating.

    “This is where the fun begins!” he shouted back to the Rodian, who reluctantly followed him into the upcoming firestorm.
    epithree and Trieste like this.
  2. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 16, 2006
    I like the characters and look forward to reading more.
  3. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    Yay! Talnar lives! :D
  4. Blue Ice Cream

    Blue Ice Cream Chosen One star 6

    Aug 9, 2006
    Hello there, Gunny. :)

    Nice start. The characters are likable right off the bat, and the scene has the perfect amount of action.

    Their situation appears bleak. I'll surely be checking out the next post.

  5. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    All right, here's Chapter 2. Alexis_Wingstar, Trieste, epithree, tjace .

    Chapter 2: Mortar Madness

    Talnar tossed her slugthrower over a ledge and then hauled herself up to the spot where it sat using her muscular arms. Grabbing the rifle and checking its ammo supply once again, she stared downwards at the battlefield. From this perch, she could easily see the mortar launchers dispersed amongst the Separatist tanks, which would make it a little harder than planned to knock out the projectiles. In the distance was the continuous drone of blaster fire and explosions, the signs of war. But, to the Corporal, that was what she loved about the army. Every battle, every new planet, every step was an adventure; it certainly beat working an office job in some high rise. When that adrenaline was pumping furiously during a battle, Talnar felt like she was at home. War was something she felt comfortable being involved in, even though that very home could result in her untimely death. But, it hadn’t caught up to her yet, and wouldn’t for a long time if she had anything to say about it.

    That failure on the Moorja mission still weighed heavily on her mind. As a competitive soldier, Talnar felt as though she should never allow herself to fail. Mostly it had been a chance to prove her worth to the army, to make them regret their decision to transfer her to the 44th instead of keeping her with the clone forces in a command post. But, then again, she couldn’t stand those clones and their sterile upbringing; she had gotten to where she was out of hard work and bloodshed. All they needed to do was be brought into existence through some odd gene-splicing technique, and then brought up to speed in a few years time. In her opinion, clones were still no match for good sentient soldiers, no matter how many times they won battles. They would never understand life outside of the war zone, or what true friendship was.

    Hm, that was new. ‘Friend’ was an odd word to Talnar. In all her years in the army, she had never thought about being friends with anyone else, because, as all war tales went, it was always the hardest to accept the death of a close friend out on the field of battle. All that guilt would wash through your body. You could have moved over a pace or two, or shot a certain enemy soldier before they had a clear shot at your group, or even taken the blaster shot yourself to spare your squadmates. That guilt would never leave until it had corrupted your mind, and then you wouldn’t be an efficient soldier. No, she was not going to make friends out here, not with the chance of losing anyone possibly hanging over her head the rest of her life.

    Yet, despite her unwillingness to admit it, Talnar secretly felt that the 44th was starting to become more of a cohesive group than she had ever been a part of. Sure the clones were rather tight-knit because the way they were raised kept them in constant contact with each other, but she had never been a part of their inner circle because she simply was not one of them. The Renegades, on the other hand, they were just like her; willing to fight, willing to run right into the face of danger because they felt that they had a higher calling in life than to just sit around and let others do the fighting for them. Even though this was only their second mission together as a unit, the 44th was becoming more of a . . . family, in a sense. That was an odd concept to Talnar; how could a bunch of misfits from different walks of life come together and be an effective fighting force? She knew that if the Renegades pulled this off, not only would it mean accolades for all its members, but it would also prove that non-clones could still fight this was just as well as the “shinies”, as she coined the clones because they just seemed to clean to be effective killing machines. And, maybe, just maybe, she would find that elusive sense of belonging she had never before experienced.

    Out of the corner of her eye, she could see two shapes running out towards a tank. From their color, she could discern that the two were Napp and Octro, her teammates. Why exactly they were running like that towards a bunch of tanks that could take them out easily she had no idea, but maybe there was something she didn’t know about that had driven them out of their hiding spot? Lifting the rifle scope up to her eye, she carefully aimed the crosshairs on the tank that the two Renegades were attacking on foot, and when it was in range, she squeezed the trigger. A slug shot out of the barrel of the gun, and whizzed down towards the Persuader, which had no idea the projectile weapon was coming its way. In an instant, the slug shredded the tank’s outer shields, cleaving the machine in two. A fireball erupted from the tank as its oil exploded from the impact, sending shards of twisted metal flying around. Talnar brought the slugthrower around on the next tank; hopefully her shot would free the other two up to challenge the first mortar launcher.

    Seconds after the tank exploded, some of the others, realizing that enemy forces were now present, opened fire. Laser cannon fire rained down on the area around where the two Renegades were running. Talnar aimed at a particularly-troublesome tank and let fly with another slug. Once again, the slug did its job on impact, blowing a gaping hole in the side of the tank, which proceeded to fall over and then explode. This time, the flying metal embedded itself in one of the mortar launchers, which caused a spark to fly when the twisted shards hit the launching platform. With the sheer amount of ordinance present on the launch pad, the spark caused the tightly-packed mortars to begin exploding in a domino effect, starting at one end and starting off the next one seconds later. After a large mortar shell exploded, the platform was lifted into the air in a vicious fireball, incinerating its operators instantly in the flames. At the apex of its flight, the remaining mortars, their fuses lit due to the inferno, sailed towards the ground. In a few seconds, several tanks were blown apart completely by the shells as the fell, causing a hailstorm of twisted metal to fly around the area that would kill anyone caught too close. Talnar could hear several screams as Separatist gunners were cut down by the flying debris, their lives abruptly ended by the very mortars they had been trying to rain down on Republic forces. She felt no sympathy for them; after all, they were the ones who had seceded from the Republic in the first place. They needed to be punished for their selfish act, and Talnar intended to be one of the agents to deliver that destruction straight to their door step.

    Talnar paused as she watched the two Renegades adjust their course to go after the next-nearest launcher platform. She had to hand it to Napp; he certainly was a good fighter. She wouldn’t want to have to fight him if he was in the employ of the Seps because he really was an intimidating figure. Maybe he wasn’t the best leader the 44th could have had, because Talnar was the only one actually formally trained in combat operations, but he always backed up his words with action. And Octro, despite him being a shady character in many ways, was also a good medic. If they were going to get out of here alive, the Renegades would need his medical skills to patch them up if they went down. As she thought about heir skills, she was reminded of how the other two team members weren’t present. Where exactly were Jai and Bo? They had said over the comm. unit that they were over by the rock formation, but they hadn’t been there when the Corporal and the other two had gotten there after their dead run across the open wasteland. Hopefully they hadn’t gotten caught by the Seps, and they would be in momentarily to help cover their comrades on the ground. But, she knew that Napp and Octro couldn’t wait for more help; although she was running dangerously low on slugs, they were all those two had for protection. She aimed the rifle once again and waited with baited breath for another tank to move into position to try and intercept the sprinting Renegades.

    “That was easier than I thought!” Napp shouted back to the Rodian. “I take it that the Corporal found a good hiding spot up there! She got rid of the first platform for us!” It was good knowing that the Khil had their back; without her help, they probably wouldn’t have gotten past that first tank. Napp’s blaster shot hadn’t done any damage to it, so it most likely would have gunned the two of them down before a grenade powerful enough to damage it could be thrown. Raising his blaster, Napp shot down a B-1 battle droid attempting to stop them. The laser blast cut right into the torso, splintering the backpack area of the droid and causing it to fall to the ground in large chunks. Turning around, Napp shot down another battle droid coming full speed right at them, removing the threat. Octro did the same, taking out a droid with its back turned to them with a well-placed blaster shot to the neck joint, blowing it off completely.

    A cannon blast nailed the ground only meters away from where the two Renegades were standing, causing them to be blown back onto the ground. Napp’s blaster pistol squirted out of his grasp and landed a ways away from him when he touched back down. Some pain shot through his arm, and he looked down at a small trickle of blood coming out of the muscular appendage. It was a minor cut, so he wouldn’t need to fix it, but that didn’t mean that it couldn’t still hurt. He looked around to find out where Octro was; the Rodian lifted his head, obviously dazed by the impact with the ground. Napp looked up as an AAT rolled slowly towards them, its blaster cannon aimed right at his chest. His fingers tried to reach for his blaster, but it wasn’t there. He reached into his pocket to pull out a grenade; if this tank was going to shoot him down right here, at least it would go down with him. Grasping a thermal detonator, he readied himself to pull the pin and toss it out a few meters. Undoubtedly the tank’s gunner would kill him instantly afterwards, but then the detonator would hopefully destroy the machine so it wouldn’t get a chance to kill Octro. Napp didn’t really care that much what happened to the Rodian, as he had bugged out on the 44th during the skirmish on the badlands of Moorja. But he would end up saved because of what the Feeorin did to kill the tank.

    Napp’s eyes closed. He was ready to pull the pin and send the grenade flying, and then to feel his life energy slip away as the tank’s next cannon blast would end his life. It was a real shame to go out this way, as he had definitely been in more difficult positions than this. However, those events were in the past; maybe his luck was finally starting to dry up. Fingering the pin, he readied himself to pull it out of its socket. If this was it for him, he didn’t want to go out a coward; he would go down fighting. All he could hear was the slow hum of the engines on the tank as it rumbled towards him. That was the sound of the bringer of death, the engine of his final destruction, the instrument that the Seps would use to remove him from the equation entirely. Then, over the whine of the engines and the metallic whirr of the cannon being moved slightly to target his head, he heard a single loud burst of energy. He braced himself for impact; this was it. Pulling the grenade out of his pocket, he pulled the pin and prepared to throw it at the tank. Opening his eyes for what he knew would be the last time, he stared down the tank as it approached him, cannon ready to kill.

    What he saw as soon as his eyes opened was an explosion, followed by another, and then another. The droid gunner at the top of the tank was thrown from its perch by the explosions, landing lifeless on the ground. Napp rolled out of the way as the tank began to implode, its engines fried by the flames spewing from the rear. Quickly, a large fire spread throughout the tank, reaching the cannon and causing it to buckle and break in a sea of flames. Although the tank did not explode, it sat there in ruin. What had come to kill Napp had now been bested. Death had been averted. Napp felt like celebrating his good fortune, and looked around to see where Octro was. The Rodian seemed to have gained his equilibrium back, and was staring right back at him. “I really thought I was going to die there!” Napp shouted. Octro stared back at him, waving his arms frantically. Napp stared at him curiously; what was the meaning of this gesture? Then he heard a beep; he had pulled the pin on the thermal detonator, but hadn’t thrown it. The countdown was almost over, and the device was powerful enough to blow him to bits. Without thinking, he heaved the detonator away from him, closing his eyes in case the bomb exploded and sent shards of metal in his direction. Even if it exploded on bare ground and didn’t do any damage, at least it wasn’t near any of the Renegades.

    The detonator landed on the ground and rolled, eventually stopping at the foot of a battle droid. Looking down, the droid saw the bomb, but had no time to react. The detonator exploded, melting the droid and blowing up the AAT it was standing next to. Flames shot through the tank as it was ripped apart by the explosion, hurling yet more debris into the surrounding area. Pieces of the laser cannon, still on fire, careened into a launcher platform, and as before, began a chain reaction of explosions that destroyed the launch site almost instantly. A mortar shell flew towards another tank, blowing a hole in its front hatch. Out of the hole emerged a broken droid’s top half, its midsection kept together by a few fried wires and nothing else. The laser cannon of the tank gave way and fell towards the ground, chopping off the top half of the droid as it went. In addition, a shell shot out of the tank’s shell launcher; it exploded upon impact, ripping apart a launcher platform in a large fireball. Amazingly, what had been a mindless throw of a bomb had ended up destroying a tank and a launcher. Not bad, even for a trained grenadier just trying to chuck a grenade as far away as possible to clear it.

    “You almost got us killed!” Octro shouted over the sound of the fires crackling in the background. Napp gave him a shrug; none of that had been scripted, but it had worked out pretty well in the end. He looked over to the remaining mortar launchers. The other tanks started to roll around them, creating a strong defensive perimeter. In order to get to the rest of the launchers, he and Octro would have to break through the line of tanks. Given that they had gotten this far mostly on dumb luck, that would be a hard task. If only the Corporal would be able to land some slugs in those Persuaders to pick some individuals off the line . . .

    His wish was granted when another slug blast let fly from the rock formation, its ammo streaking across the wasteland at high velocity. It slammed into a Persuader tank, ripping it apart instantly. The intensity of the blast was enough to rattle the tank next to it, causing it to roll as the droid brain tried to realign itself on its tread. Napp took this opportunity to fight back. Grabbing his DC-15 out of its sling on his back, he loaded a cartridge of grenades into the launcher attachment. Sliding the attachment into its housing on the rifle, he sprawled onto his belly, aiming for the wobbly tank by visually lining the barrel up with the tank tread. With any luck, a grenade would land by the tank and then explode, which would then rip apart the troubled tank and do some residual damage to the others. Pressing down the trigger, Napp’s rifle spat forth two grenades, both headed towards the periled Persuader and its neighbors.

    When the grenades hit their designated area and rolled a few meters closer to their target, Napp grabbed his rifle and prepared to run. If the Persuader tanks realized that projectiles had been thrown in their direction, their droid brains would probably open fire in the general direction that the grenades came from. If their sights were accurate enough, they would be able to sense the Feeorin and Rodian, and would begin to spew deadly fire from their cannons. Thus, it would be important to stay on one’s feet in order to get out of range in case the tanks opened up with their cannons. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see his DL-44 on the ground. If he could just get to it without the droids noticing . . . He made a mad dash for the rifle, not caring about what would happen next.

    An explosion rocked the area. The grenades, their target unaware of their presence, spent their charged energy by cleaving the hapless tank in two, and sending large shards flying towards the tightly-clustered tank formation. A large chunk of blaster cannon collided with a neighboring tank, shearing off its cannon and slicing off some of the tread. The tank, its brain unable to steady itself, crashed to the ground. More pieces of the first tank flew around, embedding themselves into other tanks and making their presence felt. An AAT droid commander lost its upper body due to a piece of flying metal, its legs falling out of the port on the top without the support of the wiring to keep them standing. Battle droids and organic soldiers alike ran in fear as pieces of once-fearsome tanks rained down on them, piercing a battle droid in the neck joint and pinning a Gossam’s leg to the ground. Wincing in pain, the small sentient tried to lift the piece of metal out of the gaping hole it had left, but lacked the strength to do so. Blood continued to seep out of the open wound, but the soldier lacked anything to help stop the flow, so it remained open. Most likely his life would end when he was run over by a maneuvering tank, because he was unable to move with such an injured leg.

    Napp grabbed the blaster rifle off of the dusty ground and checked it. Except for a little bit of dust, the rifle was otherwise in fine condition. Stowing it away in his holster, he motioned for Octro to join him behind a few rocks. The Rodian ran over immediately, and dove behind the rocks quickly to avoid detection. “Now what?” he asked in a haggard voice, still winded from all the running he had just done over the past fifteen minutes.

    “Looks like those tanks are retreating around the mortar launchers,” Napp said. “They’re moving into a perfect position for us to destroy them once and for all. Whoever their commander must be, he’s really green. You never ever put that many tanks and explosives together in one place; it only leads to trouble. But, that’s why we’re here.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a thermal detonator. “Time to finish them off.”

    “I knew you would say that,” Octro said, rolling his eyes.

    Napp’s comm.. unit began to vibrate. Picking it up, he dialed in the correct frequency to pick up the incoming message. “Napp here. Go ahead.” He had no idea who was on the other end of the line, but hopefully it would be the Corporal giving him an update on the main part of the battle. She had a much better view of the entire battlefield from her perch atop the rock formation than they did on the ground.


    Talnar had watched as the Feeorin’s grenades hit their intended target, causing all kind of havoc in the ranks of the armored vehicles. It was good to see the mechanical monsters squirm, because they had killed many an innocent person during the war. As far as she was concerned, history was finally catching up to the conspirators of this whole bloody conflict, and she didn’t care how they reacted. All that mattered to her was that justice was being served to those who served under the colors of greed and a separate government spearheaded by a crazed former Jedi. For her, there was only one Republic, and she would die fighting for it if it would come to that.

    “Corporal!” shouted a gruff voice, snapping Talnar out of her train of thought. She looked down to a ledge about forty meters away; on top of it was Bo-Yinko, another member of the Renegades. A Codru-Jii, Bo had four arms, each one of them muscular. Long black hair flowed down his back, partially covering the Republic armor he had to protect his body. He was holding a heavy blaster rifle, and was staring right at the Corporal.

    “Bo!” Talnar shouted back. “Where have you been?”

    “Keeping tabs on the battle,” Bo said simply.

    “Where’s Jai?” Talnar asked. Bo pointed to an outcropping on one of the other rock formations. Talnar looked at the spot, but could not see anything. “Are you sure, because I don’t see her!”

    “She is there, trust me,” Bo stated.

    “It looks like the Seps are retreating around the mortar launchers!” the Corporal shouted. “Napp and Octro are on the ground right now picking those tanks off, but they can’t do it by themselves.”

    “Understood,” Bo said. Two of his arms latched themselves onto his missile launcher, which he then began to load with a proton torpedo. Talnar knew that only he and Napp could load such a weapon, because torpedoes were notoriously heavy. But, if they did a lot of damage, that extra weight was well worth it. “Contact the others to tell them to watch their heads.”

    “Got it,” Talnar said. She whipped out her comlink and dialed Napp’s unit. With any luck, he still had his on and would be able to receive the message.

    “Napp, this is Talnar. I have found Bo, and maybe Jai. They’re up her with me. Over.”

    [i]“Understood, Corporal,”[/i] Napp said over the connection.

    “Bo is going to launch a torpedo at those tanks, so watch your head.”

    [i] “That’ll make them run,”[/i] Napp replied. [i] “Fire at will. We’re out of range for residual damage.”[/i] Talnar looked to Bo, who had readied the launcher.

    “You can go ahead!” she shouted. “They’re at a safe distance!” He nodded, and pressed the trigger. The proton torpedo rocketed out of the barrel of the launcher and screamed towards the remaining tanks. They didn’t know what had hit them until it had already impacted. The explosion caused by the torpedo incinerated several tanks, completely gutted a pair of AAT’s, and most importantly created a crater in the ground where a mortar launcher site had been seconds before, its gunners gone in a wisp of smoke. Several other tanks were badly damaged, their treads and cannons bent beyond recognition by the flying debris. The remaining tanks, of which there were only a few, began to pull back even more, trying to brace for what they figured was going to be another attack. One AAT opened fire at the rock formation, its blasts hitting far wide of where the three Renegades were holed up. The commotion caused by Bo’s torpedo blast opened up the possibility of the Renegades on the ground being able to charge the battered tank forces and wipe out the last two mortar launch sites.

    “Napp, this is Talnar,” she said into the comlink. “Your path is all clear from here. We’ve got your back. Proceed from your current location and finish these losers off once and for all.”

    [i] “All right, Corporal. We’re headed out,” [/i] Napp stated. Talnar lifted her slugthrower once again and readied herself in case the two on the ground were going to come under fire. She had to make sure that they had a clear path to the launch site; she had made a promise to them, one that she would keep at all costs.


    A blast from a laser cannon shot over the head of Napp as he ran full-bore towards the force of tanks. Obviously the gunner of that tank had noticed that their ground threats weren’t gone, so when two life forms had popped up on the scanners that were supposed to be gone by this point, the droid had opened fire. Napp shouted a guttural war cry, something that made him feel more “in the zone”. Although he had been running quite a bit already, the adrenaline was flowing now, and it gave him an extra boost when he otherwise probably would have been sapped for strength. Another shot from the laser cannon missed him wide to the right, and he responded back with a shot from his heavy blaster pistol. The shot clanked of the tank’s armor without doing any damage, embedding itself in the ground harmlessly. Napp scowled; he had hoped that the shot would have done something, but unfortunately the tank’s shields were still a force to be reckoned with.

    Three seconds later, the AAT was shredded as a slug hit it, throwing the droid commander’s lifeless metal body out of the cockpit and onto the ground where the crippled tank now fell, crushing the droid into scrap metal. Napp knew that Talnar had been behind that shot, and was relieved to know that she had his back on this charge across enemy territory. The sound of the AAT exploding had caused one of the three fully-functional Persuader tanks to turn its cannon on Napp as he continued to run. However, before it could start the firing sequence, a well-aimed rifle shot hit it square in the front of the vehicle, punching a hole right through the middle and, by Napp’s estimate, frying the central brain system. The hollowed-out tank, now without its droid brain, sat there with no further purpose, smoke billowing out of the small hole caused by the rifle shot. That shot had been too powerful for a standard blaster rifle, and had not been a slug. The only thing that it could have been was a shot from a sniper rifle. Could Jai have been the one who had just dispatched that tank?

    Napp pulled the pin on a Frag grenade and launched it towards the remaining mortar platform. It landed near enough to the launch site where it would be effective, and sure enough exploded well within its range to be effective. The shards of shrapnel lit one of the mortar fuses, which caused the same effect as had occurred on the other platforms. Each mortar in sequence exploded, quickly killing the two gunners on the platform from the proximity to the detonation. Although the other tanks were unharmed by the grenade, Napp had not intended to damage them. Residual damage to any CIS piece of equipment would be nice, but the main objective of the 44th’s mission was to remove the mortar launchers, and now only one remained.

    Napp slowed to a slow jog as he saw the few remaining tanks turn tail and begin to retreat towards the safety of a nearby canyon. A grin appeared on his face; they had done it. Not only had the five of them defeated a sizeable force of tanks, but they had routed the enemy’s flank defenses with ease. Hopefully the Third Army could follow suit and purge the Separatists from the wasteland completely. However, that would be a lot more challenging that this simple mission was; not only were clones involved, which would mean that high casualties would result, but the Seps had more than just tanks on the front lines. Republic soldiers over there had to deal with battle droids, tanks, spider droids, and maybe space fighters, which would complicate things immensely. But, then again, the 44th had completed their mission, which would mean a substantial reward at some point down the line.

    His comm.. unit buzzed, and Napp flipped it on. From the call signal, it was the Corporal. “Napp here. Looks like the Seps are bugging out and heading into the canyon.”

    [i] “Good work. Front line Intel has informed us that the Third is starting to rout the Seps, and the mechanized nerfs are retreating in this direction.”[/i]

    “Good. I’ve always wanted to take on the entire Army by myself,” Napp said jokingly. Of course, there was no way he would ever do that. However, if the Seps were retreating, then it meant that he was still in the danger zone. He would have to inform Octro and then get the hell out of there. “Octro, it sounds like the enemy is retreating in our direction. I say that we get out of here before they start firing at us!” Turning around, he ran back towards the rock formation. Behind him he could see Octro, who by now was physically drained. He had probably never run so hard or so far in his entire life, and he needed an extra kick in order to get to the formation in time before the Seps arrived.

    Arriving at the formation, Napp turned around to see the first of the retreating enemy forces. Loosely-formed columns of battle droids appeared, escorting AATs and the even-larger MTTs, and the occasional other mechanized harbinger of death. Within a few minutes, several Persuader tanks had rolled past into the canyon entrance, along with three Hailfire droids, three spider droids, and several other assorted artillery pieces. Napp wasn’t going to stick around to watch the entire enemy force go by; he knew that doing so would put his life in jeopardy, especially if an enemy artillery piece spotted and fired at him. Hopefully Republic forces would come by to pick up the 44th and take them back to base, which was quite a ways out from the front lines. But first the Renegades needed to regroup. He looked at Octro; the Rodian, other than being extremely tired from all the running, was otherwise fine. Hopefully the others were near so they could procure a ride sooner rather than later.

    A shape appeared around the rock ledge, and Napp drew his blaster. Around the corner came the Khil Corporal, slugthrower in hand. “Napp!” she shouted. “I say we taught them a lesson!”

    “Yes we did!” Napp shouted back. “Do you know where the other two are?” His question was quickly answered when Bo-Yinko and Jai came around the corner behind the Corporal. Bo was holding his torpedo launcher, and Jai had her sniper rifle slung over her shoulder. She was the only human in the 44th Division, a slender and pale woman of about 21 standard years. Long black hair fell over her shoulders, another feature that gave her the appearance of someone who wasn’t skilled in the art of war. However, anyone who knew her better was reminded of how battle-tested she truly was. Apparently she had been quite the assassin back in the day, but no one had been able to pry any more information about her past out of her yet. She hadn’t done a whole lot for the 44th so far in the division’s short period of existence, but she was certainly a good sniper. Eventually her skills would come in handy, especially if this campaign dragged out over several months.

    “Good job,” Bo said to Napp after the five Renegades had regrouped. “You made them run like the cowards they are.”

    “They certainly have no spine,” Napp said. “Now, on a more important note, we need to flag down a ride back to base before too long. All this fighting has made me hungry.”

    “You and your stomach,” Octro said sarcastically. Napp didn’t care. As long as they were alive to fight another day, it was a victory for the 44th Division. Now he wondered what was on the menu back at camp . . .
    Trieste likes this.
  6. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Here's the next chapter. Trieste, epithree, Alexis_Wingstar.

    Chapter 3: Separate But Equal

    “I have to admit, this has to be the most unidentifiable glop that we’ve had this entire campaign,” Napp said with chagrin as he picked at the plate of food in front of him. The five Renegades were sitting around a cramped metal table in the mess hall, stuck over in the corner in a feeble attempt by the Army officers to keep them away from the clone troopers as much as possible. ‘They would have a bad influence on the men’, the officers had said to back up their action. ‘We cannot have a bunch of roughnecks putting things in the heads of our fine young soldiers that might hinder their performance out on the battlefield.’ To the Renegades, this was a lot of rubbish; no way were they the ones at fault in all this. Actually, in their minds, it was the other way around. Until they could prove themselves worthy of respect in the Third Army, they were always just “that one unit with a bunch of lowly mercenaries” who were given the highly-risky missions instead of major battles where they could put their skills to the best use. Sure they could go undercover and open up holes in an enemy-held city, but of course they wouldn’t be capable of actually fighting alongside the Republic regulars, would they? It was ridiculous how much the 44th had gone through to get this far, and unless they could prove their worth at some point, this was going to be their fate throughout the war; doing all of the most dangerous elements of battle plans. Maybe being designated an “expendable being” would be more accurate than “Soldier of the 44th Division”. Not being a clone was as bad as it got in the enlisted or mercenary ranks. So much for enlisting in the Army to become a “somebody”.

    “Face it, we’re never going to get better rations out here than we are now,” Talnar said, chewing on some of the glop as she spoke. “Trust me, it gets worse. A lot worse. I’ve been on several small campaigns where things after about a month get so bad that you start worrying more about feeding yourself than you do about killing the enemy.”

    “As more and more clones drop dead, there will be fewer mouths to feed,” Octro piped up. “That means more for us.” Talnar gave him a dull stare, but the Rodian didn’t care. He was hungry, and this “meal” was anything but satisfying. “But, then again, this isn’t exactly what I call good cooking, either . . .”

    “At the rate we’re going, none of us will be alive at the end of this campaign,” Talnar said. “Then you won’t have to worry about eating this.” She dropped her utensil back into her bowl. “But, you’re right, this is beyond terrible. How did it all come to this, anyways? I mean, we just blew up over a dozen frakking tanks out there today. Why can’t we get some respect for what we did? Without us, those damn clones over there would have been hit with a ton of mortars. And they wouldn’t like to get their nice armor all dirty trying to evade artillery shells, so send us in and get killed for them. What a load of respect we get for sticking our necks out in the name of the cause.”

    “As long as it pays . . .” Octro said, staring blankly at the wall.

    “It’s just not fair,” Talnar continued, not bothered by the Rodian’s comments. “I’m a damn Corporal, and yet I’m treated like dirt. There’s no justice in this army anymore. I remember a day when clones were not around, and when real people fought battles. Those were the days when everything was decided by your merit under fire, and not because you were artificially created super-beings who all happen to look alike . . .”

    “Easy, Corporal,” Bo said, his face calm. “There is no need to get so worked up over today’s events. Focus your energy on more important things.” While he spoke, he was stroking the fur of his sister Lika softly with one of his hands. Like all Codru-Jii youth, Lika was not a humanoid, but instead a six-legged wyrwulf. Not only did she share a special mental bond with her older brother, but she also was just as fierce a warrior as he was when it came to fighting. In the heat of battle, it would have been hard to see Lika because of her black fur, but a long silver stripe on her back made her easily identifiable in the midst of chaos. So far she had taken down an enemy mercenary in the 44th’s pervious mission, but otherwise she hadn’t served much of a purpose as an unofficial member of the Renegades. Mostly, she had served as a reminder for Bo as to why he was fighting on the side of the Republic; she was his inspiration, and his confidant. And, given his action at this tense moment, he was rather relaxed with her around. That Codru-Jii bond was something special.

    Napp picked up a piece of purple vegetable on his fork, and surveyed it closely. It didn’t look like anything he had seen before, so he thought that perhaps it might be tasty. With the gourmet choices of battlefield cuisine, surely this would be worth sampling? Popping it into his mouth, he instantly cringed and spat it out. “Too bitter,” he said to those who turned to look at him. “I wonder where they get all this stuff. It certainly isn’t coming from top-notch suppliers.”

    “Rank-and-file soldiers don’t get much in terms of rations,” Talnar responded, propping her head up on the table with an arm. “That’s why it pays to be a commanding officer.”

    “I liked it,” Jai said softly. She hadn’t spoken at all since the Renegades had caught a ride back to base on the back on an AT-TE walker. Napp guessed that she wasn’t much of a talker; she seemed like the silent type, cleaning her sniper rifle meticulously instead of socializing with others. It took a high level of commitment to be a sniper, especially a good one such as herself, but she really took her job a little too seriously. Maybe she would open up a little later on about her past, and why she wouldn’t talk much.

    “I’m not even finishing this,” Napp said, standing up. He grabbed his plate and dumped its remaining contents on the bare earth that served as the floor. “I’m headed back to the barracks. Anything beats eating this crap.” Talnar stood up as well.

    “I can’t take this either. We deserve better,” she said. “The rest of you can join us when you’re sick of that slop.”

    “I might as well be done,” Octro stated, standing up. He almost tripped over the hard bench that served as the seat, but caught himself before he sprawled out on the ground.

    “We need to stay together,” Bo said in a dead-panned voice. He and Jai rose from their seats at the same time, almost as if they had some sort of otherworldly psychic connection allowing them to coordinate that movement with amazing precision. “If one of us goes to the barracks, we all do. Once a team, always a team.” Lika growled a little at the others, angered by their willingness to defy her older brother’s recommendation. Talnar gave the wyrwulf an odd look; she did not approve of Lika unless the young Codru-Jii proved herself on the battlefield. Where had the trained warrior been on the battlefield earlier? Sitting in the shade, or actually fighting for the Republic?

    “Let’s go,” Napp said, leading the group past the tables where several clones were still eating the sloppy mush that was the main course, and out of the makeshift mess hall building. No one noticed the Renegades as they passed by, and no one cared except for the mess hall orderly, who shouted after Napp that dumping rations on the floor was forbidden. The Feeorin didn’t hear the man’s yelling, because the food was the last thing on his mind.

    As the Renegades walked through the makeshift camp, they realized that many of the clones they passed stared at them with disdain. Sure they weren’t clone troopers, but what was with all of this mistrust towards sentient beings? Perhaps being raised in a sterile environment had prevented them from being accustomed to other species? Or were they just jealous that the 44th had taken out all of that enemy artillery in one fell swoop? No, that was probably a pipe dream; the clones were most likely xenophobic, and didn’t trust anyone who wasn’t in their silly “brotherhood”.

    “I don’t think they like us,” Octro whispered to Napp.

    “Don’t worry about it,” the Feeorin said. “There’s nothing they can do to us. Their genetic makeup forces them to be obedient, so they won’t step out of line.”

    “How do you know that?” Talnar asked.

    “I’ve heard a lot of things during the past two years,” Napp said.

    “I can tell,” Talnar replied. “But, my rank will keep them in line. If they want a fight, we can report them to the officers.”

    “Who would believe you?” Octro said. “Apparently we’re not wanted around these parts.”

    “Very true,” Talnar said, sighing.

    Up ahead, a group of clones with their helmets off turned around the face the approaching Renegades. Something was said to the closest clone, and he grinned mischievously. Standing up, he nodded to his comrades, who began to cheer. The clone, who had a short red Mohawk for hair and some blue stripes on his armor, stepped right into the path that the Renegades were taking towards their barracks. “Look here, boys! We’ve got a load of freaks! Hey losers, how’s it going?”

    “Get out of our way,” Napp growled. The clone and his comrades laughed.

    “I’m afraid ye’ll have to pay the toll, tough guy,” the clone said. “You see, this is my turf. You can’t pass here without paying me off.”

    “You don’t want to do that,” Octro said. The clone grinned at him.

    “What are you going to do to me, Doc? Tear me apart with your little medical instruments? Make me into gundark bait by chopping me up into little pieces? Or are you going to try and stab me with a kitchen knife? Now that I’d like to see.”

    “Step down, private,” Talnar said, stepping forward. The clone snapped up a makeshift salute, then broke out laughing.

    “Right away, Officer Tentacle-Face,” he said. This caused his comrades to burst out with laughter. One clone almost fell of the camp stool he was on because he was laughing so hard. “Who did you have to sleep with to get those insignia bars? Wait, retract that, because no one would want those tentacles in their face! Ha!” Another round of cheers erupted from his fellow soldiers, and some more clones from the surrounding area came over to see what the commotion was about. “What a poser you are, trying to boss me around like you’re some sort of officer! Your group here is just a bunch of wannabies trying to make it in the Army ranks. That loser Rostu is in over his head with you lot.”

    Talnar reached down to her holster. She wanted to draw her blaster and send this clone scurrying for cover. Although she was an Army officer, she hadn’t quite gotten her destructive side under control. Her conscience told her to pull the trigger and get rid of the fool. However, it wouldn’t look good on her record to have killed a clone trooper, and she was already in the doghouse enough with the Third Army at this point. But, if this clone kept going, she would have no choice.

    “No, Corporal,” Bo said quietly in her ear. “He’s not worth it.”

    “What, is your boyfriend telling you something important?” the clone jested, a sly grin on his face. “Maybe he’s finally dumping you because you’re just that worthless. Seriously, women cannot be Army officers. Go home and stay there; it’s where all women belong . . .” A collective “Ooohh!” drifted up from the gathered clones, commenting on how their comrade was completely humiliating a sentient soldier. If Talnar was a human, she would have turned beet red. Bo tried to grab her arm, but it was too late. She grabbed her blaster rifle and aimed it straight at the clone’s head.

    “Step down, Private,” she said. Her voice was firm; she was an officer for a reason. The clone, on the other hand, thought that she was playing a ruse.

    “Is the itty-bitty soldier girl going to shoot me?” he shouted, holding his arms out in a shrug gesture. “Does she have the guts to shoot me, or is she going to wimp out? You just don’t have that killer instinct in you.” More cheers came from the audience, which was growing larger with every exchange of words.

    “Step down, Private!” Talnar shouted. She stepped forward, her blaster still aimed at the clone.

    “Of course, you can’t just shoot me, or the Major will have to explain how one of his mighty soldiers shot a helpless clone. That would end his pathetic program right there, that would.”

    “What is your name, Private?” Talnar shouted. “I’m going to have to report you for disorderly conduct and disobeying a direct order from a superior!”

    “Are you going to try and report me to the Commander?” the clone asked sarcastically. “Well, Tentacle-Face, I’m a Captain, so you listen to me. See these bars here? Oh wait, you can’t. They’re made out of one-hundred percent real Stygium crystal, so they can’t be seen because they are cloaked and all . . .”

    He never got to finish his sentence, because the Corporal rushed forward and smacked him across the face with her blaster. The clone fell down on the ground, clutching his jaw. A trickle of blood burst out of his mouth, and he stared up at Talnar, who looked down at him with fire in her eyes. “Care to finish that statement, wise guy?” she said so the rest of the clones could hear.

    “You dirty rat!” the clone shouted, clutching his jaw and wincing with pain for several seconds after closing his mouth. “You’ll pay for this!”

    “I highly doubt that,” Talnar hissed. “You might want to clean up that armor of yours, because it wouldn’t do for you to get it all dirty. Someone might have a problem with all of that blood.”

    “Corporal . . .” Bo said, but the Khil was not listening.

    “On second thought, keep that blood there. It serves you right that your nice clean armor gets messed up.”

    “Stop it, all of you!” shouted a voice. It sounded familiar somehow, but it probably wasn’t. A clone stepped forward out of the shadows, helmet still on. Given the design on his armor and his rank insignia, he was a clone Captain. It just figured that one of those would be the one to break up the fight. Talnar turned around to see who had stepped forward, and then frowned. “I want to know what happened here,” the clone said said, taking his helmet off. His face was of the typical clone, and he had very shot blonde hair. “Who started this fight?”

    Several of the clones pointed at Talnar. She couldn’t blame them; she had struck the clone in the first place. Octro pointed at the Khil as well; Napp gave him a stern look, but the Rodian didn’t care. He was reporting what he had seen, nothing more. Bo and Jai didn’t fingers; Bo was too busy trying to restrain the Corporal, and Jai was disinterested in being involved in this incident as a witness. The clone turned to Talnar. “I take it that you started this mess, Corporal?”

    “Yes, sir,” she said slowly. “But I was provoked.” She pointed to the clone on the ground, still clutching his jaw.

    “Is this true?” the captain asked the private. He shook his head.

    “No, Captain. My mates and I were just sitting here minding our own business, and then this fake comes over here and tries to boss us around. I say ‘Hey, you can’t push us around like that’, and then she goes off and punches me! Whatever you do, Captain, keep her away from us! She’s a horrible influence!”

    “Liar!” Talnar shouted. She had murder on her mind, and only Bo grasping her around the waist kept her from lunging at the clone.

    “Quiet, Corporal,” the Captain said. “It sounds to me like you are the one who started this whole conflict, and you will need to be disciplined accordingly for harming a fellow soldier. However, since you are not under my jurisdiction, I have to pass that disciplinary action off to Major Rostu. He will deal with you accordingly. Speaking of which, the Major had previously asked me to send you a message. He ordered that the entirety of the 44th Division drop by his office immediately. That is all, so move on, Corporal. And that means the rest of you.” He pointed down the path, and then at the Renegades. “Dismissed.”

    “Yes, sir,” Talnar said. She was looking at the ground, not interested in making eye-contact with the Clone Captain. Bo grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the scene, afraid that she would suddenly break free and try to kill the offending clone soldier. The rest of the Renegades dutifully followed her, accompanied by some scattered calls of “chicken” by the gathered clone soldiers. If there was a low point for the 44th, this was it. The Corporal, although she had been provoked, had been the one to be punished for the fight, which had made the already-bad situation worse. At leas the earlier fighting had gone well, because nothing else was.

    As soon as the Renegades were out of ear-shot, the Clone Captain wheeled around on the gathered clone troopers. “What are you all staring at? Go on with your business.” Several clones saluted and moved away, going back to their barracks to inform their friends that a comrade had just humiliated the entire 44th Division and had, for the most part, gotten away with it too. “That means you too, Hopper. Clean that dirt and blood off of your armor.” Hopper, still holding his jaw gingerly, stood up and saluted with his other hand.

    “Right away, sir,” he said, wincing after he spoke. He then proceeded to walk away, but the Captain caught him off-guard.

    “However, you won’t be getting off that easily, I’m afraid. I overheard a little confrontation between you and the Corporal, Hopper. And, I must say that you were most unprofessional, talking back to a direct superior. I know that she is not under direct Third Army jurisdiction, but she still outranks you. You were required to follow orders, soldier, and you refused. Thus, I am afraid that you will be subject to disciplinary action.”

    “But she started it!” Hopper shouted. “I was clean in all this! You have to believe me, Captain! Trust in the Brotherhood, not in rank insignia!” He rapped his chest armor with a hand while he spoke.

    “I’m afraid that I cannot let you go off easily for insubordination, Private,” the Captain said. “I do not trust Major Rostu’s decision any more than you do, but I cannot tolerate direct offense towards fellow soldiers, even if they are not official Third Army members. If the Major orders that they stay unharmed, not a single hair on their head must be touched. And you stepped over that boundary line, soldier. I will not let one of my men get away with some of the comments you made. Thus, I will file a report about your actions and assign you to refresher duty for the next week. Hopefully that will teach you not to disrespect a superior officer. Now go on with your business before I force you to.”

    “That’s not fair, sir! I am innocent . . .” Hopper pleaded, but the Captain shot him a serious look that told him to shut his mouth. There was absolutely no emotion in his face other than a hint of simmering anger that would soon boil over if the Private did not agree to leave the scene. However, if you looked at his face without studying it closely, it appeared that he had the situation completely under control, and was completely cool in attitude.

    “Private, I am warning you. Go about your business, or I will have to write you up for another violation for talking back to me as well as the Corporal. You wouldn’t want your sentence to be extended, now would you?”

    “No sir,” Hopper said quietly.

    “Speak up, Hopper,” the Captain said. “I didn’t hear you.”

    “Yes sir!” Hopper shouted. “It won’t happen again!”

    “It better not,” the Captain said. “Now, clean yourself up, and check into the hospital tent to check on that jaw of yours. It won’t do for a soldier in my regiment to have a broken bone in their face. And I expect to see you at 0800 tomorrow for refresher duty. Until then, good day.” Placing his helmet back on, the Captain left the scene, following the path that the Renegades had taken several minutes earlier. The crowd began to disperse, leaving Hopper and a few friends standing there shocked at the surprise punishment.

    “Lucky you, getting ‘fresher duty,” said another clone by the name of Floater.

    “Shut up, Floater,” Hopper said, now rubbing the sore spot on his chin. “I’m going to get another shot at that Khil, even if it kills me. She hasn’t seen the last of me, not by a long shot.”
    Trieste likes this.
  7. Blue Ice Cream

    Blue Ice Cream Chosen One star 6

    Aug 9, 2006
    Nice job, Gunny. :)

    Those were two solid installments. I really enjoyed 'Mortar Madness' and the idea of 'fresher duty. :D

    Thanks for the tag. Keep it up. =D=
  8. tjace

    tjace Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 11, 2008
    Awesome, Gunny! I'm glad the Renegades get a continuation for their story.
  9. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    Indeed--the ignominy of defeat must be erased by glorious victories! ;)
  10. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Here's Chapter 4, complete with another round of TAGs! Trieste, tjace, Alexis_Wingstar, epithree.

    “I hate those ‘shinies’,” Talnar growled as the Renegades made their way to Major Rostu’s office. “They’re all so damn perfect, and even the commanding officers are no better. Clones are not to be trusted, on the battlefield or off. And they’re so damn handsome, aren’t they?”

    “A little bit . . .” Jai mused, but quickly retreated back to a blank face when the Khil gave her a hard stare.

    “What’s important is that you didn’t get court-martialed,” Napp said. “You don’t want that hanging over your head, do you?”

    “Who knows what the Major is going to do to her,” Bo said. “This could be serious. It was a breach of military protocol, and must be punished.”

    “Whose side are you on, Yinko?” Talnar snarled.

    “That is the way it is in the Army, Corporal,” Bo said, still rather calm given the circumstances. “You of all people should know.”

    “I feel discriminated against,” Talnar said. “I may be a Corporal, but I’ve never gotten the recognition I deserve. I worked hard to get where I am today, and yet these are the thanks I get. All the time I spent working on my conditioning to make sure that I was fit for battle, all the time spent out on the shooting range brushing up on my aim, all the time I spent hoping that some day I would be leadership material. But I see now that I’m still a second-class citizen in this outfit, and that will never change as long as those damn fools out there are manning the ranks.”

    “Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Bo said. “Just go out there tomorrow and tell yourself than you can prove your worth. You can prove them wrong if you keep working hard.”

    “Or you could just continue to mope and get yourself killed. I really don’t care either way,” Octro said.

    “So helpful,” Talnar commented in a harsh tone. “Next time I need life advice, I’ll make sure not to ask you, Doc.”

    The Renegades had reached the building where the Major’s office was located, and Napp opened the door. Given that it was a temporary building, the door was rather flimsy; Napp knew that he could easily break it if he wanted to. However, there was no reason to get the Major mad at him for breaking the door, so he opened it and let the others go in before entering himself.

    Inside was a makeshift desk and a few camp chairs sitting around a crudely-made table. The receptionist, a pretty green-skinned Twi’lek, looked up at the group. Napp stepped to the front of the group. “Major Rostu wants to see us.”

    “44th Division?” the receptionist asked. Napp nodded. “The Major is in his office. Third door to the left.” The Renegades started to file into the hallway, Talnar still steamed about the expected disciplinary action coming her way. Napp thought that the receptionist was somewhat cute, but quickly guessed that she wasn’t his type. Nope, she probably wouldn’t want to go on a date with a guy like him. He’d bore her to tears with all of his war stories, so maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. However, at least the Major, or whoever was in direct command in this building, had taste when it came to choosing a suitable receptionist for the job.

    The door to Major Rostu’s office opened, and the Renegades all entered. The room was rather small, given that the building was temporary, so there wasn’t enough space for everyone to be comfortable. Several maps were hanging on the wall, small notes scribbled in between coordination points. These probably indicated enemy troop strength, and other notes probably were Third Army installations. A tiny table in the corner was covered in charts, so many in fact that it looked like half the stack was going to fall off onto the floor at any given moment. The Major had his back turned to the Renegades, dressed up in his military fatigues. When the six soldiers, including Lika, had settled in, he turned around.

    Nick Rostu, commander of the highly-experimental 44th Division of the Third Army, looked at his motley crew of soldiers. They certainly didn’t fit any military archetype he had ever heard of. They weren’t exactly military-grade, but they weren’t completely a mercenary force either. The Renegades fell somewhere in between; the idea was to get military precision with on-the-fly thinking and quick-strike movements. And, with any gun-for-hire unit, there was a certain amount of ego present that was stamped out for the most part in a serious military outfit.

    “I understand that there was a skirmish outside about fifteen minutes ago,” he said. He was a Korun, which attributed heavily to his serious behavior at all times. He stood about as tall as Napp, his head covered in very short brown hair. He had bushy eyebrows and a small mustache with some stubble appearing on his chin. On his brown army fatigues was a large patch displaying the number ‘44’, signifying that he was the leader of the division, among his rank insignia and patches. However, since there was no crest as of yet for their unit, just the number was used. Talnar winced; she had not expected him to start with this sore subject. “Captain Buster sent me a message that you, Corporal, punched a clone trooper with your rifle after a prolonged verbal spat.” Talnar did not speak. “Is that true? Corporal, answer me.”

    “Yes, but I was provoked!” Talnar said, shooting her head up. “I ordered him to step down several times, but he refused. I had no choice but to punish him for disobeying a direct order. Since I outrank him, he is at fault, not me!”

    “True, but you still harmed him,” Rostu said. “Now, I know that I have the power to punish you for your actions, and you would definitely not like what I could deal out to you, but that’s not why you’re here.” Talnar gave the Major a puzzled look. What did he mean?

    “This unit has never been a part of the army, as I so requested before its formation. You have no idea how many different Army officials it took to get that small request taken care of, because the bureaucracy here in the armed forces is much worse than all of you could ever imagine. But, that is a different story. The 44th is a partially-autonomous unit; we are attached to the Third Army, and I have to report my actions to superiors here in the Rim and also on Coruscant, but we are not held to the same standards as the rank-and-file clone outfits. There was a very good reason I chose this post over quite a few others; to not only get away from the standard infantry units, but to create the best quick-strike team in this whole damn Army. What I envisioned for your unit was to have the power of a well-disciplined military outfit, with the size of a commando team to get in and then get out as soon as the mission is complete.”

    Rostu sat down in his desk chair, still facing the six Renegades as he did so. “And all of you are what I got. Not the best in terms of discipline, as has been evident today, and I knew that there would be jockeying for power right away when this unit first was deployed on Moorja. And I was certainly right. When you put a bunch of mercenaries together into a comprehensive unit, there is a lot of room for error. Some members will undoubtedly put their individual values before the values of the group as a whole. My superiors told me that the 44th would not survive one mission because none of its members could support each others’ backs. But I defied their logic, knowing that you could all come together, despite the level of difficulty, to do something great.”

    The Renegades were so silent that one could probably hear a pin drop on the floor. What was the Major coming to in his speech? Had they done well enough on Moorja to earn his respect, or was he just another critic of their performance?

    “When I sent you all on your way on Moorja, I knew that the road would not be easy for all of you or for me. I was in a corner because I could not send in a rescue mission larger than your force to rescue the captured Jedi General, and also because my superiors expected results from your first mission, not empty words and promises. As far as you all were concerned, you had to come together into a single unit. Breath as one, fight as one. And, as I was informed after we captured the city of Moorjay, that objective had taken quite a bit of work. None of you trusted the other completely, at least not with a sense of unity that you need in the military to be successful. However, I did see something else that the clones could never accomplish; the use of your surroundings to your advantage. Those damn clones would be happy to just bull-rush into a fight if they thought it would suit them to do so; all of you were smarter than that. You changed up your plans when the going got rough, and were able to save a Republic agent in the middle of an enemy-controlled city without being detected. I would say that you did enough to prove yourselves right there, as most clone units would worry about winning the battle first before saving the operative in question or would barge right into the city with guns blazing. They have never been known to be shifty on missions.”

    “So . . .” Talnar said, but Rostu waved a hand to cut her off.

    “You want to know how this affects you going forward on this campaign.” Talnar nodded. “After your performance in today’s battle, I have seen enough to know that if you all apply yourselves, you can do great things as a unit. However, my fellow officers still do not see you fit to fight with the main body of the Army, and I unfortunately cannot change their minds. I never set out to make the 44th just another part of the ranks. I came with the idea, the hope, that you all were meant for more than that. To be the invisible force wreaking havoc on the enemy, and then melting into the shadows. As far as I am concerned, you proved yourselves worthy of more extensive missions after today, because it takes guts to charge a column of Persuader tanks and live to tell the tale. No clone in their right mind would do such a crazy thing, but you are not exactly ordinary soldiers.”

    “What does this have to do with me being reprimanded?” Talnar asked.

    “Simple,” Rostu replied. “I understand the situation all of you are going through. The Third Army’s commanders do not believe what I do, that this unit is not fit for duty. However, I have faith that all of you will pull through, that you will prove yourselves worthy of praise for your actions some day. The road will be long, and will try every ounce of your heart and mind, but if you do not lose that faith in yourself and your teammates, you will never know respect from those soldiers out there. Only when you can take it to the Seps and make them feel your presence will you have reached your ultimate goal. And, about your reprimand, I am not going to punish you at all, Corporal.” Talnar’s jaw dropped; he wasn’t going to punish her for her brash action after all? “When you lose your sense of pride, this unit falls apart. You are anything but ordinary, Renegades. You are the 44th Division, and I will hold you to a different set of standards than the Clone Commanders have for their regiments. I want you to have that chip on your shoulder, to bring your frustration out on the enemy and make them know that when the 44th is coming to town, they mean business. I know you have that mentality in you, and that’s why I chose you all for this Division. The only question now is this: can you believe in yourselves and in each other?”

    Rostu picked up a datapad. The Renegades were still looking at him in silence. “Now, for the reason why I called you all here today. Republic Intel has found a new lead on Jedi General Gnaden, who you remember was the reason why you all were sent to Moorja. According to our scouts, the Seps have a large complex several kilometers away from our current location. We are not exactly sure what kind of operation is going on behind those closed doors, but we are certain that it is of some military importance due to its large security presence. During one scouting party’s patrol, our spies were able to spot the General being loaded into the building while locked in a durasteel cage. However, that was two weeks ago, so we do not know if the General is still alive or if he is still on this planet. The Third Army’s objective is to break into the enemy compound, but I have been notified that they will not be going after the General. Instead, the 44th has been given the order to recover the Jedi and, while inside the base, to gain as much Intel as possible about the operation occurring inside and enemy strengths at the compound, such as security strength and how many battalions of battle droids we are facing. Get in and get out with the General as fast as possible. The mission will begin in two days time. Half of the Third Army will create a diversion in the canyon near where we suspect there is a Separatist outpost, and a small army will advance on the enemy compound. From there, you will have to enter enemy territory by any means necessary. From there, you will be on your own.”

    “So we’re going to be going up against an entire enemy installation?” Talnar asked. “Sounds like a suicide mission.”

    “Indeed it does,” Rostu said. “However, it was the only plan that involved action for the 44th from the few options I was given. You otherwise would be a part of the small force covering this base from any hypothetical Separatist attack. I figured that none of you would want to sit around and miss the action, so I chose that you would be sent in and recover the General before the main attack on the base.”

    “I’d rather stay,” Octro said. “It’s probably safer here than out there.”

    “You will follow instructions, Bazak,” Rostu said without looking at the Rodian. “You all have two days to prepare before your assigned force moves out. Until then, the 44th has been assigned to base patrol duty for tonight. You are to report to Clone Commander Rhys at 1900 tonight, and you will be on patrol until the code is given for you to report back to base. Until then, good luck, Renegades. Make the best of this opportunity; it may be the chance you have been looking for to gain respect in the ranks of the Third Army. Dismissed.” The Renegades started to file out of the room, starting with Bo. Quickly, Talnar found herself alone in the office with Rostu.

    “I know it will be hard for you to accept, Corporal, but you need to learn how to work with others. If you can’t, then you all fail.”

    “Yes Major,” she said, not really caring to stick around any longer. Rostu had thrown down an ultimatum to this troops; pull this off and be the toast of the Third Army, or bungle it and never be recognized for their efforts. For a group desperate for some recognition, this was their opportunity to prove themselves worthy for better missions, and perhaps some better pay as well. Nothing was more of an incentive to spend more money on mercenaries than success on missions, and here the Renegades had their new chance not only to prove themselves, but to also make up for their failed Moorja mission. They would need all their strengths to pull this one off, because the Major had made it clear that this was no milk run. It would be highly dangerous, going alone into a heavily-guarded enemy outpost. However, if they came back alive and with the General, the Republic would have to admit that the entire 44th experiment had been a success. Their work was cut out for them now; it was time to get moving and show that the Renegades were here to stay.
  11. Trieste

    Trieste Chosen One star 6

    Apr 10, 2010
    Very interesting!
  12. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Sorry about the wait, guys. School has been hell recently.

    Trieste epithree tjace Alexis_Wingstar

    Chapter 5: Presence of the Past

    It was a clear night on the planet of Pylos-V. Stars, burning millions of kilometers away from the planet surface, shone brightly in the cloud-free sky, their bright orbs helping light up the otherwise-dark night. The Renegades were out on night patrol, a job than no one in the Army really cared for, especially when there was a known enemy outpost not too far away. However, it was necessary, because if a surprise attack came or if the enemy started to amass for a dawn assault, then patrols would be invaluable in relaying information back to camp so the commanders could draw up battle plans. Still, for those out on patrol, it was not only extremely nerve-racking, but it was also way too quiet for comfort. And, one was forgoing sleep to do this, which meant that they would be felling groggy the next day from exhaustion. Hopefully the next day they would get a chance to rest up.

    Napp sat on a rock, his DC-15 blaster sitting in his lap. He was watching Octro try to line up his blaster on a nearby boulder, making sure to keep his aiming skills sharp in case they needed to fight. It was doubtful that the Seps would show their ugly heads, because the battle earlier that day had ended up in utter failure for them. Despite high casualty rates, the Republic had triumphed, sending the droid army fleeing into a nearby canyon. This was due to the Renegades’ brave actions at the flank of the CIS Army, but that probably wasn’t going to show up on the official battle report. No, they would simply be in the footnote saying that they participated, and nothing more would be said about what they had done. That sort of honor was reserved for actual military units; as far as the Third Army commanders were concerned, the 44th was just a civilian unit, and did not deserve the right to have their name held in a place of esteem. A clone soldier was worth at least three hired guns, and had to be honored as such.

    “Octro, you’d miss your target with that line,” Talnar said. She was sitting on the ground and holding a rock. Without hesitating, she threw the rock across the hard landscape, causing it to slightly skip like it was going across a pond. “You’d be dead before getting the chance to fire again.”

    “Thank you for your kind insight,” Octro said sarcastically. “I’d like to see you do better.”

    “I could do ten times better than you,” Talnar exclaimed. “I think that Napp can attest to my skills earlier today, can’t you?” Napp shrugged; he really didn’t want to get into this heated exchange of words. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’,” she stated, satisfied with his answer.

    Jai sat on the ground quietly, cleaning her rifle once again. She certainly had a keen interest in that rifle; it seemed to almost be the only thing she cared about. None of the others knew why she so meticulously kept it in tip-top shape; surely a simple firefight wouldn’t dirty it up that much? Talnar noticed this after she stopped bugging Octro about his aim. “Cleaning that thing again, Jai?” The human nodded slightly, not even bringing her head up to look at the Corporal. “Seriously, why do you polish it that much? You never drop it in the dirt or anything, and it looks as good as new already.”

    “Have to,” Jai responded quietly. “Have to keep it looking nice.”

    “I could find new rifles straight out of a factory that don’t look nearly as shiny as yours,” Talnar said. She walked over and sat next to the sniper, who kept cleaning as though there was no one around to bother her. “You must care about that damn thing a lot.”

    “It’s all I have,” Jai said. “Everything else I used to have is now gone.”

    “What do you mean ‘gone’?” Talnar asked. “You must have some family, someone you care about.”

    “All gone,” Jai said, still not looking up from her cleaning. “No one left.”

    “I see,” Talnar said. “You’re kind of like me. I don’t have anyone I really care about anymore. That’s why I joined the Army; to find a place of belonging. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, but then I remind myself that at least this pays. They may hate my guts here, but at least the money comes in.” Jai didn’t say a word. She flipped open the rifle sight, inspected it for a second, and then began to wipe it off with a soft cloth. Talnar tried to grab the rifle; she wanted the human to look at her. She was a Corporal; everyone under her had to look at her when she was directly talking to them. Even those rude clones back at camp had looked at her when they had been harassing the 44th. Jai snapped the rifle out of the Khil’s hand, and looked up at Talnar with an evil stare.

    “Never touch my rifle,” she said simply. “Or I will kill you.”

    “Be that way, Ms. I-Won’t-Talk,” Talnar replied. She was obviously annoyed by the human’s devotion to her weapon. “If you made some real friends, you might be a little less aggressive and touchy.”

    “You’re about the same, Corporal,” Napp commented. “If someone tells you what to do, you usually don’t listen to them. And you’re not exactly a socialite.”

    “Shut it, Napp,” Talnar said. “At least I don’t obsess over a rifle. I mean, it’s good on the battlefield, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a real live being or anything. It’s like she has an imaginary friend . . .” Talnar turned around to see the barrel of Jai’s rifle sticking right in her face.

    “I said to never touch or insult my rifle. As I said before, I will kill you,” Jai said coldly. There was a sense of aggressiveness in her voice that had never been evident before. She was mad that the Corporal was bad-mouthing her weapon and her personally, and had finally snapped.

    “Um . . . uh . . .” Talnar spluttered out. “Can’t we work this out?”

    “You better watch your mouth, or this trigger will slip accidentally and kill you,” Jai said. “You’re not the only one in this unit with military experience.”

    Bo stepped in between the two, trying to push Jai’s rifle back away from the Corporal’s head. “Why can we not get along?” he asked. “Stop bickering. It doesn’t get us anywhere.”

    “He’s right,” Napp said, still sitting on his rock. “We don’t need you two to be at odds with each other.”

    “Fine,” Talnar said, shrugging Bo’s hand off of her shoulder. “But it’s her fault for being friend with a silly rifle instead of a real person, and not having a home or family . . .”

    “I don’t have a family or home anymore!” Jai shouted, causing Napp’s jaw to drop slightly and Octro to flinch as he tried to aim his blaster at a rock for target practice. “Do you not get it, you stupid excuse for a military woman? Everything I had was taken from me by slavers when I was 14! They killed my family, burned my home, destroyed everything I held once dear! You don’t understand, Corporal, what it is like to be me, because you do not know what it is like to lose everything in one day. Everything except this rifle, which is the only thing I have left from my old life, when things were perfect. When my parents were still around, when I actually knew what it was like to belong! Sure you can complain about being discriminated against by a few worthless soldiers, but I haven’t gone on a damn tangent about how much of a loser YOU are! So leave me alone, and keep your comments to yourself!” She spat on the ground and stalked away, the pain in her voice obvious. Napp’s jaw dropped more, Talnar stood there dumbfounded, and Bo’s face kept just as puzzling as it had been seconds before. No one had expected the normally-reserved sniper to have so much emotion in her body, especially not the Corporal. It would take quite a bit to shock an Army officer like Talnar, but that outburst had been enough to rattle her. Octro looked back at the group, a quizzical look on his face.

    “You had to set her off, didn’t you?” he asked.

    “Shut up, Bazak,” Talnar said, sitting down on the ground. “I was just commenting . . .”

    “Maybe if you stopped ‘commenting’ on things, more people would like you,” Napp commented.

    “Like you would know how to make friends, tough guy,” Talnar shot back.

    “At least we don’t tick someone off when they want to be left alone,” Octro stated.

    “I was just asking . . .”

    “Enough,” Bo said loudly, holding his hands out to signify the others to stop speaking. “I will go and speak with her myself. Perhaps she just needs someone to lean on.”

    “Good luck with that,” Talnar said. Napp shrugged, and Octro turned back to his target practice. Bo stepped forward and was soon near the place where Jai had gone. He found the sniper sitting with her back against a rock, holding a small stone in her hand and the rifle in the other. Her eyes were seemingly glued to the ground, and she did not look up when the Codru-Jii came near. Bo sat down next to her, but she did not budge.

    “Tough crowd,” he said, trying to lighten up the mood a little. She said nothing, so he tried something else. “Look, I know the Corporal was a little intrusive there, but it wasn’t worth yelling at. She didn’t know, and neither did we.”

    “She deserved it,” Jai finally said, breaking her silence. “No one gives me that kind of crap. Not if I have anything to say about it.”

    “If it eases your mind, I understand where you are coming from,” Bo said. He was trying to speak easy to the sniper, because she was obviously in a state of rage, and did not need to be reminded of her past any more than was necessary.

    “How would you understand?” Jai asked sullenly. “You have no idea where I come from. Unless your planet was destroyed by an enemy species or your whole family was shot in front of your eyes, I don’t want to hear it. You have no idea what my past is like.”

    “You would be surprised,” Bo said, leaning back on the rock. “What if I told you that slavers destroyed my life as well?” Jai still didn’t look up. “I was playing in the forest one day with Lika, my sister, when Trandoshan slavers came and captured us. We were both extremely scared; we didn’t know where we were headed or what would happen to us. I haven’t seen my home since, or my friends or family. The slavers reached a supply depot at one point, and we were able to make our escape, ending up on a freighter to Coruscant.”

    “When we got there, we got lost in the crowd. Coruscant is a big place, and it was easy to fall into the cracks. Without Lika, I would not have made it through those hard times. She was my only link to what life used to be like. She was the last friend I had.”

    “But you didn’t seek revenge?” Jai asked.

    “It was highly improbable, given my situation, but I do not harbor intense hatred for those slavers. Sure I do not like their method of living, but I have learned to take my life by the horns and keep going one day at a time. That is the way I have survived this long; otherwise, I would probably be dead in some gutter, a victim of my own hatred and unrestrained passion to kill my tormentors. But I didn’t, and that is why I am urging you to reconsider what you did to the Corporal.”

    “She deserved what she got,” Jai said.

    “But you cannot let that rage fill your head,” Bo said. “Please, reconsider your life. You are with us now; you can put your past behind you. I know it sounds odd, but make this your family. We don’t always get along real well, but you have to make the best of your situation. And if that means forgiving the Corporal for her insolence, so be it.”

    “It’s not that simple,” Jai said. She had dropped the stone onto the ground, but still held her rifle tightly in her other hand. “I keep having dreams of my house burning, the cries of my neighbors, my friends, echoing in my mind as they die in the flames. I try to run towards them, to rescue them from the house, but I can never get there in time. And then I am reminded of how many slavers I killed, all 29 of them. How my rage took over, how I snuffed out their lives with no thought of remorse. Their eyes went blank on my watch, and I did not care because they had destroyed my life. So I thought I was getting my revenge, but what I really was doing was turning into one of them.”

    “Then why are you out here?” Bo asked.

    “To get away from prison,” Jai said, still not looking up. “My last mission went south when I was ratted out. This was my escape route, to keep using my anger as a means for making a living. And I still intend to make the best of my chances.”

    “But, make sure to bring that anger to the enemy, not on your team. As far as I am concerned, we need to be as close as family if we are to succeed,” Bo said. “Otherwise, we are worthless.”

    “What kind of team are we?” Jai asked. “None of us are very good at making social connections. Look at the Corporal; she can’t make friends because . . .”

    “Forget the Corporal,” Bo said. “You need not be continually reminded of her. Doing so will only bring you more angst.”

    “And Bazak,” Jai continued. “He doesn’t seem like the kind that would help anyone but himself. Napp’s too cocky about his skills, and those will get in the way of a team. And you . . . you . . .”

    “Am not like them?” Bo asked. Jai nodded slightly.

    “You are the only one that can understand me,” she said. “It’s like you know exactly what I went through, and you had the guts to come here after what the Corporal did. After what I did to spite her.” She looked up at him. “We’re the only ones who truly know what it means to lose a home.”

    “Exactly,” Bo said. “But, don’t let your hate become a detractor. We are a team, and must work as one if we are to succeed. That means that you need to play nice with the Corporal, even if you’d rather die than do so.”

    “I really want to shoot her, to make her suffer for what she said,” Jai replied.

    “She is not the reason why your life was destroyed. You can forget your past if you can find a new home. I think that you have that capability,” Bo said. “You just need to believe in yourself, and in the rest of us. Sure we are not perfect, but where else are you going to turn? Back to mindless killing of everyone who does not agree with you? Or, are you going to be fighting for something more than yourself, for something that you believe in, for the only family you have left?” He offered a hand to the human. “Are you ready to come back and try to help us get through this patrol?”

    Jai took the hand, and the Codru-Jii helped her up. “I guess so . . .” she said slowly. “As long as the Corporal understands that she stepped over the boundary line of my patience.”

    “I think she’ll know,” Bo said. “Come; we have several hours more until this patrol is over.” He started to walk back to the others, with the sniper in tow. When the two of them had gotten back to the camp, only Napp seemed to really care. Talnar was studying something, and Octro was still working on target practice.

    “How’d it go?” Napp asked as the other two approached. “I take it that we’re still on speaking terms?”

    “You could say that,” Bo said. “But, I think we need to keep moving. The Commander said that we need to stay on the move, and it will also help us move on from this little incident.”

    “Agreed,” Napp said. He lifted himself off the rock and went over to where Octro was practicing. He placed a meaty hand on the Rodian’s shoulder. “All right, Bazak, we’re moving out.”

    “Why?” the Rodian asked, bothered by the Feeorin.

    “Commander’s orders,” Napp said. “We need to cover the rest of our perimeter before going back to camp in a few hours.”

    “Fine,” Octro said, placing his blaster in its holster. “Let’s go.”

    “Corporal! You coming?” Napp shouted to the Khil. She did not turn. “Come on, Corporal, it’s time to move out!”

    “I see that you brought her back to camp,” Talnar said sullenly. “Good job. I’m not going anywhere until she fesses up that she is at fault.”

    “You have got to be kidding me,” Napp said. “You’re the one who needs to apologize.”

    “Apologize? Me?” Talnar asked. “She threatened to shoot me!”

    “Come on,” Napp said, grabbing Talnar’s arm and hauling her off the ground. “We’re going as a team to the next perimeter point. If you two can’t play nice, I’m going to have to bring this up with Major Rostu when we get back to camp.”

    “And why would you do something like that?” the Corporal asked. “I still outrank you. As far as he is concerned, your word is equal to the mud on my boots.”

    “Try me,” Napp said. He was getting tired of Talnar’s charade. She wasn’t gaining any points with him for her stubborn behavior. “Now, come on, or we’ll be forced to leave you behind. And you never know, there could be clone troopers out there waiting to jump you. I’m pretty sure that you would be an easy target for them, sitting out here all alone. You need to stay with us to be safe.”

    “Damn you,” Talnar said. “Damn you.” She stood up, grabbed her papers, and walked past Napp and Octro. “Are you coming or not?” Octro looked back at the Feeorin, who shrugged and started walking after the Corporal.

    After an hour of walking and watching for enemy movement, the Renegades decided to camp out at another small rock formation. The view was amazing; if one sat on top of the small formation, they would have a great view of the surrounding countryside. Although there was some wasteland between their position, and the much-more pleasant geographical features, it was well worth it to just sit there and admire its splendor. The moon cast a silvery glow on the rolling hills in the distance, trees growing up out of the hillsides that stood many meters high. The occasional bird song floated through the air, reminding the Renegades that they were no longer in the heated war zone of the wasteland. They were now out in the middle of nowhere, in a place where the scenery was infinitely better than it had been the entire time they had spent on the planet.

    “Look at that,” Napp said. “I didn’t think that this planet was much more than rolling wasteland, but I guess that there is some splendor to all of it.”

    “Yeah,” Octro said. “It tells me that we chose a crappy location for our base. Those hills would be a lot better to hide in and run a military campaign than from flatlands where there is no life.”

    “Reminds me of home,” Bo said. “All the trees, the landscape, the boundless amount of life energy coursing through the forest. I miss home.”

    “At least you can still go back,” Jai said. Her shoulders were slumped.

    “Not possible,” Bo said. “I cannot go back now. Everything I have learned since living there would set me apart from my brethren. I would be singled out, and never be able to go back into society. I have changed too much for them to still accept me as one of them.”

    “You’ve been too educated?” Talnar said.

    “You could say that,” Bo said. “I am no longer seeing the same things they are. Thus, there is no way that I can return to my former life. I will not be accepted as a part of the clan; from now on, I will be an outsider.”

    “Join the club,” Napp said. “I’ve always been an outsider.”

    “What do you mean?” Jai asked. “You’re the kind who has always been accepted, no matter where they go or what they do.”

    “And you all say I’m ignorant,” Napp said. “It’s obvious you don’t know much about me, just the same as none of us really know everyone else. We’re still strangers as far as I’m concerned.”

    “Well, then if you want to get to know everyone else, let’s just sit in a circle and pass a rock around. You can’t speak if you aren’t holding the rock,” Talnar said, a bit of sarcasm coating her voice.

    “That’s not what I meant,” Napp said. “I just think that, with all of our misunderstandings in the past day, that it is time that we open a dialogue. The Major wants us to be a team, and it definitely pains me to say this, but we need to work together and understand each other if we’re to succeed.”

    “You can do whatever in the hell you want,” Talnar said. “I’m going farther up ahead on patrol, and anyone who wants to join me can.” She kept moving, leaving the other four behind. Bo and Jai stayed behind, and Octro, after thinking about it some more, decided to stay put.

    “So, where exactly are you from?” Jai asked. All four of the Renegades proceeded to sit down on the ground. Napp took his DC-15 rifle out of the sling on his back and placed it on the ground so that its weight would not be on his back during this period. Plus, he already had his rifle within arm’s distance in case he needed it.

    “Everywhere, and then, to some extent, nowhere.” The others gave him puzzled looks. What exactly did this cryptic answer mean? “At least the rest of you had homes at one time. You were lucky; I’ve never had a home, at least not a stable one.”

    “So that means that you’re from . . .” Octro prodded. Napp looked at him, his face plain.

    “I have no idea where I’m from. No idea who my parents were, no idea where they were from, nothing about my early years do I know. The first thing I remember was growing up in the Outer Rim somewhere, taken in by a smuggler who thought I could be a useful accomplice someday. There was no stability to my life back then; we were constantly under attack by enemy forces, and I learned that I needed to grow up real quick or die out there in the vacuum of space. We went from job to job, and eventually I was old enough to get involved in the smuggling outfit.”

    “That explains a lot,” Octro commented. Napp did not say anything in reply, choosing instead to continue his story.

    “After a while, I realized that smuggling was not for me. My upbringing had gotten me in contact with violence; it was all I knew, and I figured that it was my way out. Plus, I was floating out there in space all alone; I needed someone else in my life who understood me. I joined a mercenary gang soon afterwards, gaining what I thought would be companions who were in the same boat that I was. And, for a while, it appeared that way. We were quite the crew, killing in the name of bounties and harassing deadbeats who weren’t willing to pay their rent. However, it soon became clear that I was being used, so I decided to leave. Then I ended up out here, a soldier on his own personal vendetta against the entire universe. And it’s gotten me quite far; my skills have paid off many times in the past, and should continue to do so as this campaign drags on.”

    “Sounds rough . . .” Octro said.

    “I bet that out of the four here, you’re the only one who actually had some home life,” Napp said to the Rodian.

    “Very true,” Octro said. “I was a bounty hunter once, but then I realized that medical school was my lot in life. Guess my parents got me on the right path, or else I would be dead.”

    “Then how come you can’t hit enemies on the run with your blaster?” Napp asked. “If you have that much experience with killing things, why can’t you actually hit a target?”

    “Out of practice,” Octro said. “I was shot by a Senator once while on a bounty, and that cured me of ever wanting to continue that line of work. Then I became a medic. At least enemies are less likely to shoot me if I’m not a combatant at first sight.”

    “Interesting . . .” Bo said. “We truly are a bunch of Renegades.”

    “We have no real idea of home, of our former lives,” Jai said. “But we are all here now.”

    “Exactly . . .” Napp mused, his mind wandering. How much he had always wished to know where he was born, to know where he truly came from. But no one had wanted to tell him that, because they were afraid that he would try going back and leave them hanging in the middle of a dangerous job. Either that, or no one knew for sure what his origins were. He truly was a lone wolf, even though he was with the Renegades. But they were not family; good soldiers, but not kin. A special bond between brothers was necessary in military units as much as they were in a domestic setting, and that was not yet apparent in this outfit. They had no connection that allowed them to work together with seamless precision. For now, the 44th was just a division of misfits.

    Bo sat stark upright, breaking the others out of their train of thought. “What is it?” Jai asked.

    “It’s Lika,” Bo said. “She feels danger. Something must be happening back at the camp.”

    Napp’s comm.. unit buzzed, and he picked it up. It was reading the frequency from the Major’s unit. He flipped it on. “Hello?”

    “Renegades, this is Major Rostu,” came the voice of the Major on the other end of the line. “You are to report immediately back to camp, and then you shall be given further orders.”

    “Major, what is the emergency?” Napp asked. The others were starting to look a little tense, Bo especially. His sister had given him thoughts over their mental bond; apparently all was not well on her end.

    “The camp has just been attacked by a segment of the Separatist army,” Rostu replied. “I have no idea how they got past our perimeter, because we got nothing from our picket groups telling us to prepare for a battle. Thus, it was a total rout; we had no idea they were coming until they were right on top of us. Report back immediately. Major Rostu out.” Napp turned off the comlink.

    “The camp’s just been attacked. The Major wants us to return immediately.”

    “It looks bad,” Bo said, still feeling Lika’s thoughts. “We must hurry.”

    “Grab the Corporal,” Napp said. “We’re headed back to camp. Keep all your weapons close; who knows if the Seps are waiting for us.”

    “Could it be a trap?” Jai asked nervously.

    “There’s only one way to find out,” Napp said. He took off across the landscape, not waiting for the others to catch up. They needed to get back as soon as possible. Whatever had happened back at the camp, the Renegades would be there to deal with it.
    tjace likes this.
  13. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    epithree, Trieste, tjace, Alexis_Wingstar

    Here is Chapter 6 of my work.

    Chapter 6: Destruction of Home Base

    The Republic camp was a wreck when the Renegades arrived soon after dawn. Barracks that had once held clone troopers were burned down to the ground, no sign of life inside their smoldering shells. Bits and pieces of droids were littered on the ground, alluding that there was some hand-to-hand combat that had occurred during the fighting. A Hailfire droid was still burning near by, it’s droid brain fried by a blaster bolt. Many of its missiles, however, had been expended. Bodies of clones and droids were everywhere; it had certainly been a surprise attack, because more clones had dropped dead than battle droids. Blood caked the armor of some of the dead clones, displaying that the fighting had been intense. Napp surveyed the damage; the camp was a total loss.

    As the Renegades made their way down the path towards the building where the Major’s office was located, they could tell that throughout the camp, there was the same sight; dead clones and scattered weapons, a sign that they had had no time to grab their sidearms before the enemy attacked. It had been a cowardly move on the part of the Separatists, but Napp had to admit; they had the element of surprise, and had used that advantage wisely. The clones obviously had been unprepared for the assault, and had paid a heavy price, both in lives lost and the amount of damage done to the camp.

    “Lika!” Bo exclaimed as he saw his sister approach the group. Getting down on his knees, he gave his wolf-like sister a hug. He was afraid that the carnage would have gotten her as well, but she looked to be unharmed.

    “Over here!” Talnar shouted. She was hunched over a clone’s prostrate body. Napp ran over to her side to see what she was talking about. The clone’s head moved weakly.

    “Take my helmet off,” he said. Talnar did so, revealing the clone’s face. He had a stream of blood running out of his mouth, and had a nasty purple bruise below his left eye.

    “What happened here?” Talnar asked.

    “They came out of nowhere,” the clone said in a daze. He tried to sit up, but was not able to get up very far before slumping back to the ground in pain. Talnar held him down.

    “At ease, soldier. We’ll get help for you.”

    “Kind offer, Corporal,” the clone said. “But, I don’t think I’ll make it.” He pointed down to his torso; there was a large hole where a blaster bolt had hit. Somehow it had not killed him, but he was gravely injured.

    “We have to do something!” Jai said. “There must be a medic, or a surgeon, or someone who can help! We can’t let him die!”

    “No one is left,” the clone said, his voice feeble. “Not many survived the initial attack, and many will have died from their wounds by now. I don’t have much hope that they are alive.” His eyes began to flicker.

    “Stay with us, soldier!” Talnar urged. She shook the clone’s body, but he did not respond very fast. He turned his head slightly to look at Talnar. His breathing was very ragged, and it was hard for him to speak. He coughed, but it sounded more like a wheeze.

    “Rescue . . . my brothers . . . Corporal . . .” the clone wheezed out before his breathing stopped and the life was sucked out of his body by an unseen force. Talnar released his head slowly, allowing it to softly hit the dirt. He had joined the ranks of his brothers who had died as a result of the attack. Napp stood up, and looked at the others.

    “We need to find the Major,” he said. Talnar stood up as well. “The sooner the better.”

    “He wanted me to help him, after all they’ve done to torment me . . .” she mused.

    “The rules of the game have changed, Corporal,” Napp said. His face was plain, yet there was agitation in his voice. “Come on,” he continued.

    After five minutes, the group made it to the office building. Its door lay on the ground, its frame shattered. Napp entered the door first, drawing his blaster from its holster. The Renegades started to walk into the lobby, wary about if there were any enemy troops hiding inside, waiting to jump them. Grabbing the handle of the door that went to Rostu’s office, Napp slowly turned it. The door swung wide open, revealing a room that had been completely ransacked. The maps that had been on the walls were strewn all over the floor, and the Major’s desk, which had been made of fine finished wood product, was now broken, ditched in a corner of the room by the raiders. There was no sign of life in the room. Carefully, Napp entered the room, his blaster ready to shoot anything that moved. Then, something fell, and Napp snapped his blaster over to where the sound was. Major Rostu was staring back at him from the corner.

    “Major!” Napp exclaimed. The others, hearing that the Major had been found, entered the room as well. Rostu stepped out from the corner. Except for his hair being a bit disheveled, he was otherwise unscathed.

    “Hello, Renegades,” he said.

    “The camp is a mess,” Talnar said. “What happened?”

    “The Seps were merciless,” Rostu said. “They killed any soldier who dared to oppose them, but also took many prisoners. My only guess is that they are headed back to that base out in the wastes that they seem so desperate to defend.”

    “What are we going to do about it?” Talnar said. “We can’t just follow them . . .”

    “I’m afraid that we have no choice, Corporal,” Rostu said. “We have to send all available forces after the raiding party, to try and get our prisoners back. However, there is no telling if they are still alive or not.”

    “How many surviving soldiers are available?” Napp asked. “We didn’t see any live ones on our way here.”

    “Only a few dozen are probably fit for battle,” Rostu said. “I can’t spare all of them, because we need some troops here at the camp to try and clean up. That leaves the other two patrols, and you five, as the force that will attack the enemy base.”

    “Are you crazy?” Talnar stated. “There’s no way that fifteen soldiers can break into that entire compound! We need more soldiers and time!”

    “I’m afraid that we have neither, Corporal,” Rostu said glumly. “Consider your current mission orders of scouting overridden. You move out immediately when the other patrols get back, with no exceptions. I’ll get your party stocked with as many provisions as I can, but there is no telling what is still useable in the store house. After that, you’re on your own.”

    The sound of footsteps was audible around the front of the building. Octro, who was partially out in the hall, drew his blaster and prepared to intercept any enemies. Instead, ten clones appeared in the doorway of the building. They started to file into the hallway, and then into the area where the Renegades stood. The lead clone took off his helmet.

    “Private Badge reporting in with the two patrols, sir,” he said to the Major. “You wanted to see us?”

    “Indeed, Private,” Rostu said. “Your orders are to accompany the 44th Division here to the enemy compound and bring back as many prisoners as possible.” Badge looked at the motley Renegades; to him, they were a scruffy-looking group that needed to clean themselves up more often. Napp gave the clone a slight smirk; it was enough to rattle Badge a little bit.

    “Yes sir,” he said hesitantly. “Oh, and Commander Rhys is dead, Major. We found his body at the forward outpost. Was probably cut down by a Wheel droid’s missile. We found some more evidence that suggest that the fighting was over before it began out there.”

    “Figures,” Rostu said. “I was going to send Rhys with you if he was alive to lead the squad, but that will obviously not happen. Thus, if I understand this correctly, then we only have one commissioned officer on the mission. That would be you, Corporal,” he said, looking at Talnar. “I take it that you have been the leader of the 44th this entire time?”

    “Actually . . .” she said. She looked at Napp, and then at Bo. They stayed silent, waiting for her to explain the situation. “We took a vote for that position before the Moorja mission, right before we were attacked by those mercenaries. We elected Napp as Division leader.” She pointed to the large Feeorin as she spoke.

    “Very well,” Rostu said. “Napp, even though you do not have an official military rank, I am naming you squad leader for this mission. As far as everyone else is concerned, you are their leader out there on this mission. As such, I expect that you treat your men well, and will not abandon them out there on the field of battle. You are also in charge of settling disputes, and reporting mission updates directly to me as often as possible. Is that understood?”

    “Yes, Major,” Napp said. He had straightened his back out a bit before saying this. He may be a tough guy, Talnar thought, but he did behave rather well in front of ranking army officers. Maybe he wasn’t such a scum bag after all. Either that or he was really good at faking discipline, and was just fooling them all into thinking that he was good at following orders.

    “If we’re all done here, then follow me to the supply depot,” Rostu said. He squeezed past the Renegades and clones, headed to a back exit of the building. The group followed him out the door and back to the burned-out shell of the camp that remained. It was obvious that the clone troopers were bothered greatly in seeing so many dead comrades; for them, it was like losing several dozen brothers, and they had had no chance to save their lives because they had been out on patrol. No doubt many of them would have sacrificed their own lives in order to save their friends. Clones were funny that way; they were flawed beings in many ways, but their comradeship was top-notch. Friends would die for each other if it meant the other would live to fight another day, and they would always be there in case a friend or comrade was wounded and needed to be helped out of the war zone. They were certainly excellent soldiers.

    Rostu led the group to a smoking wreck of a building. On the front hung a sign that said “Supplies”, some blaster holes had been burned through the sign. Metal beams, twisted out of shape during the fighting, emerged out of the top of the building, casting small shadows on the ground below. Rostu pushed the door out of the way, but the frame was so weak that it fell to the ground under the pressure. Motioning for everyone to come inside, the Major walked up to a clone looking at a shelf that used to hold food stuffs.

    “How are the supplies looking, soldier?” he asked. The clone shrugged.

    “Most of our food has been destroyed, Major,” he reported. “We have a good hundred C-rations left, but I’m not sure how long that will last us.”

    “These people are going to need quite a few rations, Private,” Rostu said. “I’ve ordered a full-scale attack on the enemy base, effective immediately.”

    “But sir, that won’t leave much for the rest of us here at camp!” the soldier protested. “That will only hurry the need for more supplies, and there is no telling if there are Republic ships close by that can help us.”

    “Do we have a status on the rest of the Third?” Rostu asked. “Perhaps we could send out a request for more troops from the established ground forces rather than asking High Command for help.”

    “They’re locked up in the canyon area, sir. We received a dispatch earlier that they were engaging the Seps, but haven’t gotten any updates from them since. From what details they gave us, they are far beyond our exterior perimeter to that side.”

    “There goes the possibility of quick reinforcement,” Rostu said. “The commanders are going to need every last man they can get their hands on to keep beating the Seps back, but it’s obvious that if they’re out that far, they can’t help us any time soon. We’ll have to proceed as planned.”

    “Should I call for reinforcements, sir?” the clone asked.

    “We have no choice,” Rostu said. “We need more men and supplies. However, knowing how the Army seems to like abandoning us out here, I doubt that those will come anytime soon. So, give each of these soldiers five C-rations. Hopefully that will be more than enough to get them through the mission.”

    “But sir, that will leave only a few dozen rations for the rest of us!” the clone said. “We’ll starve to death before too long!”

    “An order’s an order, Private,” Rostu said icily. “I’ll need five rations for each soldier.”

    “Yes sir,” the clone said halfheartedly. It was obvious that supplies were in high demand at the moment. He disappeared for a while, eventually coming back with two arms full of C-ration boxes. Placing them on the floor, he went into the back, trying to bring out the requested rations as quickly as possible. The Renegades grabbed their rations first, loading their sacks with the food stuffs. Next were the clones, who eagerly picked up the rations and placed them into their army-issued backpacks. After coughing up the rations, the Private came back. “Good news, sir. We’ve just found some B-rations, along with some cans of other provisions. I think they’ll last us a week, which should be enough time to get resupplied.”

    “Good work,” Rostu said. He turned to the Renegades and clones. “This is it, team. From here on, you’re on your own. Try to complete your mission as soon as possible; there is no telling how long it will be before the Seps come back for another attack. May the Force Be With You.” Napp looked at the group assembled around him.

    “You heard the Major. Move out!” he said, leading the way out of the supply depot. He knew that this mission would test the Renegades more than they ever had been before. Not only were they expected to infiltrate an enemy installation, but they were also going to do it without inside help or with much backup. On Moorja, at least they had the entire Army waiting not too far away to attack if necessary; now, the bulk of the Third Army was off fighting in a remote location, trying to beat back the Seps but unable to assist in this mission. They were going in alone, and, for the most part, blind.

    “Wait, I forgot to give you a map of the area!” Rostu said. He ran forward to intercept Napp, and stuck out his hand. Clutched in his fist was a piece of paper. Napp took the paper from the Major, and took a brief look at it. “This was all our scouts were able to get for us on the location of the Seps’ base. I doubt that it is completely accurate, but it should give you a good idea of where you are going and what you will be facing when you reach the base. Good luck.”

    “Thanks,” Napp said. He wasn’t sure if the Major was right, but at least they had a map. The clone scouts were usually pretty good at gathering information about enemy encampments, so the map was probably very accurate. However, no map could explain what kind of challenge they were going to face when they reached the base. Only when they approached and attacked would they know what they were up against. He waved his hand to get the attention of the entire group, and then started to walk. Opening up the map, he studied the distance between the Republic camp and the base; if they hurried, the group would get about most of the way there by sunset. They could camp out that night, and then reach the base the next day. If they had five days worth of rations, then they only had roughly two days to plan and execute their plan. Whatever they were going to decide to do, they wouldn’t have time to hesitate; food was that important out here in the wastes.

    With that, the Renegades and their clone counterparts made their way out of the camp and into the surrounding wastelands. None of them knew exactly what lay ahead, but they all knew that it was a straight shot to the base. There was no turning around and coming back; once the mission started, they had to finish and come back alive. For the Renegades, this was a chance to prove themselves on the battlefield. The clones were in this to save their fellows. Whatever happened out there in the following days, the only certainty for the squad was that the road ahead would be rough, and they would all be tested. As far as they were concerned, failure was not an option.
    Trieste likes this.
  14. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Sorry about the long break in between posts. I forgot about this story for the longest time, so here is the continuation.

    Trieste, tjace, epithree, Alexis_Wingstar .

    Chapter 7: “Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Who Should Be Friends Closer”

    “Looks like the sun is going down in less than an hour,” Napp said to Private Badge as the two stared across the wasteland that lay before them. “I say that we should make camp soon. No use trying to fumble around in the dark.”

    “We have helmet lights,” Badge said proudly. “Beat that.”

    “Do you have enough to go around?” Napp asked cynically. Badge shook his head. “I got my answer. We’re camping out here.” He walked away to inform the others, leaving Badge several paces behind him. “Damn clones and their pride,” he muttered to himself so no one could overhear what he meant. The group had gone quite far that day, only stopping at mud-day to partake in the first of their five C-rations. The food hadn’t quite sat well with the Renegades; they were not used to such provisions, because they usually weren’t stuck on multiple-days missions. Obviously, the clones had no problem with the food, and they thought it was funny when Octro almost choked on a white piece of what looked to be meat. He finally was able to cough it up, but was unwilling to pop it back in his mouth and attempt to chew it again.

    “We’re making camp right here,” Napp said to the crowd of clones and his fellow Renegades. Bo nodded; the Codru-Jii was a smart one, Napp thought. He was a good soldier to have fighting alongside you, because he had smarts and always thought two paces ahead of the average trooper. Jai shrugged, while Octro gave the Feeorin a puzzled look.

    “Why are we stopping?” he asked. “We can go farther out. It’s not going to be dark for quite a while yet.”

    “Then you try setting up camp in the dark,” Napp said. “Out in these wastes, it’s better to be on the safe side. We don’t know what enemy forces could be in the area, so wandering out there in the dark could easily be the death of us.”

    “He has a point,” Talnar said. “Droids don’t care how light it is outside. If they sense an enemy, they will attack. If we stumble into a party of them in an attempt to go a little farther, we’ll be at a huge disadvantage.”

    “Good reasoning there, Corporal,” Napp commented.

    “Fine,” Octro said. “But I’m not taking first watch.”

    “That figures,” Talnar said. “You’re the one who always wants to be as far away from the action as possible.”

    “It’s called self-preservation,” Octro said defensively. “Don’t tell me you’ve never thought about it before.”

    “You’re in the Army now, Bazak,” Napp said. “You’re going to get shot at, so you might as well try to shoot back. That’s the only rule of self-preservation out here; shoot the other guy so he doesn’t shoot you.”

    “That’s not very reassuring,” Octro said.

    “It’s not supposed to be,” Talnar said. “Now, are you all going to stand there, or are you going to set up camp?” She looked at Octro as she said this, but the tone in her voice addressed the clones who were milling around.

    The Rodian grumbled, but did not speak up. The clones still stood there. Had they not heard the order from a ranking officer? She walked right up to the first one. “Help us set up camp, soldier,” she said to him.

    “What good is that going to do, Corporal?” he asked, emphasizing the ‘C’ in her rank as though he thought it was funny.

    “Come on, wise guy,” Talnar replied. “I gave you a direct order. Help us set up camp.”

    “There she goes again,” the clone said. He looked to his fellows. “She thinks she’s such a hotshot, doesn’t she?” He turned around to face the Corporal once more. “Look, little lady, we got orders from the Major to follow one person. Him.” He pointed to Napp. “So, if you think that your rank makes you so special that you can boss us around, then you are sorely mistaken.”

    “Soldier, why are you speaking lazily to me?” the Corporal asked. It was a good question; the clone still sounded like a regular clone, but something about his voice was slightly different, like something had been done to his mouth that would change his emphasis on certain words. The Kamino cloners certainly would not have given certain soldiers speech impediments, would they? Angry that he did not take off his helmet, Talnar gave him another direct order. “What is your name, soldier?”

    “Name’s Hopper,” the clone said, taking off his helmet. Talnar’s eyes bugged; he looked awfully familiar. “It’s not nice to stare, ya know,” Hopper said. His jaw looked bruised, apparent that it had been damaged recently.

    “You!” Talnar shouted. “I’m going to kill you!” She tried to lunge at the clone, but Bo, who happened to see this kind of confrontation coming, restrained her. “Get off me, Yinko!” she said. “I’m going to skin this one alive!”

    “No, Corporal,” Bo urged. “He’s not worth it.”

    “You hear that, boys?” Hopper said to his fellows. “Apparently we’re not worth it to these fools. What say you that we just skip out on them and go save our brothers the easy way? We can just leave them out here to die in the wastes.”

    “Over my dead body,” Talnar snapped. Hopper gave her a bemused look.

    “That’s the idea, C-C-Captain Obvious,” he said. A clone behind him laughed. Apparently this was funny to his fellows. “There’s no one out here to protect you this time. No Major, no Commander Rhys to force us out on patrol duty, and no Captain Clank to punish us with ‘fresher duty. As far as we’re concerned, you don’t have any power out here. Your rank is useless.”

    “What is going on over here?” Napp demanded. He came over to take a look, and frowned. “So, we meet again, soldier.”

    “Look at the tough guy who thinks he’s in charge,” Hopper exclaimed. “I knew the Major would put us under the command of a bumbling buffoon. Seriously, you don’t scare me at all.”

    Napp stepped forward. If the clone wasn’t going to stand down, at least Napp knew that he could toy with his mind a little bit. These clones were quite an unimaginative lot, and thus were rather unassuming. “I don’t scare you, soldier? Not in the slightest?” Hopper shook his head, a grin on his face.

    “You’re just a big softy. If you were actually worth something as a soldier and not just a big guy who looks intimidating but is actually really soft on the inside, then you would be in some unit where you would actually be doing something to help the war effort. You know, actually do something worthwhile. Instead, Rostu has you running undercover operations instead of standing up like men and fighting the enemy head-on. All of you are incapable of actually knowing how to fight; you are complete and utter embarrassments to the Third Army.”

    “Are we now?” Napp asked. He was trying to toy with Hopper’s mind; surely he, an actual sentient being, would be much more prepared for this kind of argument than a wise guy clone who was conceived and raised on only one principle; war. “So you’re saying that because we were given an undercover assignment that we are just big failures. Am I right, soldier?”

    “It’s obvious,” Hopper said. “Look at yourself. Behind your tattoos and big ugly head, I can see that you couldn’t kill a person to save your life. Hell, I bet in a fight, you’d get bested easily by a womp rat in less than a minute. You’d tap out almost instantly.”

    “So I can’t possibly be a cold-blooded killer?” Napp said. He turned back to look at the Corporal, who was still being restrained by Bo. “So she can’t rip your arms off, I can’t snap your neck, and he couldn’t shoot you right between the eyes from a hundred meters away? Is that what I’m hearing from you?”

    “Yes it is,” Hopper said defiantly. “Losers. Let’s get going, boys. We’ve got some ground to cover tonight. Floater, you get to lead, and I . . .”

    His sentence was interrupted when he suddenly found his neck being constricted. Napp had his meaty hand on the clone’s throat. Hopper spluttered, his eyes bugging out as he looked up in the big black face that was staring down at him. To a clone, Napp’s red eyes were extremely intimidating. Hell, to anyone these orbs were quite the sight. They were almost like staring into the face of death itself; Napp was just that dangerous.

    “Say that to my face,” Napp said. “Go on, say it.” Hopper, who was finding it hard to breathe, couldn’t say anything. “You think that we’re a bunch of softies, eh?” Napp continued. “Well, do I have a story for you. See this scar below my right eye? That’s from a time when I almost got blinded by a piece of flying debris from a thermal detonator. I was going in to attack a tank, and almost got blown away by it. Had the detonator not gone off, I would be dead. And that singed part on the end of one of my head tendrils was the spot where a blaster bolt almost hit me in the head when I charged forwards towards an enemy position. All of you would have been killed because you are so set on getting to your destination that your forget the journey to get there. However, even though I didn’t have to, I charged into the line of fire, and that almost killed me. Third, I’ve been close to death so many times that you’ll need more fingers and toes than you have to count them all. So, am I still a big softy to you?” Hopper shook his head; for what may have been the first time in his life, he was feeling fear. Through all of his training, he had been told to not understand fear, but he was no longer in that protective bubble. Dread was building in his body, but he was also running out of air. Soon, he would suffocate. He started to feel lightheaded; he didn’t have much time left before he went unconscious from a lack of air. “Answer me!” Napp yelled at him. He meant it, and in case the clone didn’t answer, he would have no problem in just killing him and moving on.

    “N . . .n . . no . . .” Hopper spluttered out, only just able to get those words out of his mouth. Napp let him go after he said this, and he landed on the ground. He gasped for air, glad that he was finally able to breathe once again after his windpipe had been constricted for that long. His lightheadedness quickly disappeared, and he began to focus his eyes on those around him. The other clones were staring at Napp, who was giving them an evil stare back.

    “So, are you going to set up camp, or am I going to have to kill one of you before you get the point?” he asked. To reinforce his point, he reached for his blaster rifle. The clones, afraid of what he might do to them after that terrible spectacle, looked around and started to try setting up the camp.

    “Good job,” Bo commented, letting Talnar out of his tight grip. “You showed them a lesson.”

    “No one ever insults my military experience or questions my judgments about how to run an operation out here,” Napp said. “So get up and help set up camp, soldier!” he yelled at Hopper. The clone stood up and saluted, his body still shaking from the experience. It was obvious that he was somewhat traumatized by what had just happened.

    “Yes . . . yes, sir,” he said.

    “Now go on before I force you to,” Napp said. Hopper quickly joined his fellows, afraid what “forcing him” to work meant for his internal organs. Whatever the hulking Feeorin had in mind, it probably involved a lot of pain, so it was better to stay out of his way. Two of the clones pulled out their backpacks; unzipping the main compartment, they sorted through the C-rations and other supplies to find their tents. Although not very adequate for long-term stays, the army-issued tents for clone troopers would be enough for a night here and there, but were not meant for prolonged use. That was why temporary camps were common on major campaigns; they provided barracks for the soldiers, and were generally well-stocked with provisions. However, out here, with no hope of reinforcement, the tents would have to do. But, that lead to another problem; there weren’t enough tents for everyone. The Renegades would have to do without, because some of them were too large to fit.

    “I’m glad you’re on our side,” Talnar whispered to Napp. “If you were fighting for the Seps, I really don’t want to have to think what would happen to us if we bumped into you out on the battlefield.”

    “I’ve learned many things in my travels around the galaxy, Corporal,” Napp replied. “The first order of respect out there is being tall and more muscular than the other guy. If I’m not mistaken, that should have shut him up. Hopefully that will be the last problem we get from him.”

    “What if he doesn’t learn his lesson?” Talnar asked.

    “Shoot him,” Napp replied. “Just report it as an accident. Maybe your blaster discharged when it wasn’t supposed to. Or he fell prey to an enemy sniper who just happens to have a slugthrower rifle. We could have quite a bit of fun coming up with interesting death tales for him.”

    “I like your thinking,” Talnar said. “Speaking of setting up camp, we need to set up watch. We don’t know what is out here at night, so it’s good to have someone alert at all times.”

    “Agreed,” Napp said. “Once camp is set up and we eat, I’m going to have a word with those clones. If we’re going to have them along, we’ll need to know a few things. Like their names. The Major asked me to provide details of how our mission is proceeding; if one of them goes AWOL, I need to know who to report in for deserting. And, with this group, I can see several of them leaving before we’re finished with the mission.”

    “But you heard them before we left camp,” Talnar said. “They feel some sort of connection to the prisoners. I don’t doubt that they will go after the base at some point and try to break the others out of there.”

    “The question with that logic is where we’ll be when they execute their plan,” Napp replied. “Will they have ditched us, or will my little spectacle there have scared them into submission? I hope the latter.”

    “I do too,” Talnar said. “Well, if you need a volunteer for watch, I’ll take a turn. Anything to get away from those damn clones.”

    “Understood,” Napp said. “You can take first watch tonight.” Talnar nodded and walked away. Damn, he thought to himself, he loved this “squad leader” thing. Not only did he get to beat up on a misbehaving soldier, but he was giving advice to a ranking officer of the Republic Army. How many mercenaries were able to say that about their time on the front lines? He was in the exact position he had wanted to be in all along; the one running the show, and giving out the orders. As long as he was on top, he was perfectly fine with it.
    epithree and Trieste like this.
  15. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Trieste, epithree, tjace

    Chapter 8: Danger From Within

    It took roughly an hour to set up camp, so by the time the clones had finished their work, the sun was setting in the distance. One of the clones had brought some firewood, and lit it with a spark. The flames crackled to life, giving off a nice warm glow to the immediate area. Several clones sidled up to the fire, warming their hands up. Nights on the planet could be rather cold, and this fire was very appreciated by all who had huddled around it. Soon, the entire squad was sitting in some shape or form around the fire. Well, all except Hopper, who was lying in his tent with his back to the fire and only a thin blanket to cover up his armored body. Napp guessed that the clone was still traumatized by the earlier incident, and was trying to stay out of his way as much as possible. On one hand, he was glad that the troublemaker had been served a dose of his own medicine, but on the other hand it had driven him away from the group. Perhaps he had gone too far in his punishment? No, Hopper would snap out of it; hopefully by the next day he would be ready to move out with the rest of the squad.

    The squad sat around the fire for several minutes without speaking, basking in the warmth that the flames gave them. Whoever had brought the wood for the fire certainly had been thinking ahead, and should be commended for their brilliant idea. Octro was munching on a small piece of his days’ worth of C-rations during this period of silence, Jai was inspecting the barrel of her gun, and Bo was stroking Lika’s back. The wyrrwulf looked content, comforted by the presence of her brother even though there were many strangers around. Although she was starting to get more comfortable around the Renegades with every passing day, she was wary of the clones. This sentiment was shared by the other members of the 44th, but they didn’t want to go out and say that they were suspicious of their new team members because that would lead to unnecessary conflict between the two groups of soldiers. So, they just kept their reservations to themselves and tried to make the best of the situation.

    “Rather quiet here, isn’t it?” asked one of the clones. One of his fellows looked at him, and then shot a nervous glance at Napp. He was obviously afraid that the prolonged stretch of silence had been the mandate set down by the Feeorin, and that breaking said silence would bring his wrath down on them. Instead, Napp just stared at the fire, intently watching the flames as they danced around the burning logs. Times like these reminded him of all those nights he had spent underneath the stars, all of those days spent out in the bush during his mercenary days. Those were back when he was still a loner. Compared to now, he wished that he still had that sense of freedom, getting to do whatever he wanted because there was no one around to tell him otherwise. However, there was something about the Renegades that he liked; maybe it was because he was finally in with a group of like-minded individuals. Or maybe it was just because they accepted him as their leader, and would listen to him when he had something to say. Whatever it was, the 44th felt like more of a tight-knit group than he had ever been a part of, and it hadn’t even been in existence for that long.

    “Indeed it is,” Napp said. “Anyone have a good story to tell?” Silence followed. “Anyone?” More silence. “So, is it time to discuss our battle plans for tomorrow?” Even more silence followed. They were certainly a tough crowd to deal with, weren’t they? “Or, we could always do some introductions. That would be a good way to break the ice.”

    “I’ll go take watch,” Talnar said, trying to stand up. “It’s too . . . quiet here.”

    “Going somewhere, Corporal?” Napp asked, not even turning around to face her. “I assumed that if we were going to be one unit, we need to spend some time working out our differences.”

    “I’d rather go take watch. Inform me when my relief arrives,” she said. With that, she walked away from the fire.

    “What’s wrong with her?” asked one of the clones.

    “Very headstrong,” Bo commented. “She is a very impulsive being. But, we’d be lost without her experience, so all that balances out somehow.”

    “What is your name, soldier?” Napp asked. The clone looked shocked; was he going to be in trouble for something? Was this Feeorin in charge that dangerous to their well-being?

    “Um . . . uh . . . Arin,” he said.

    “Well, Arin, what are your talents? What can you bring to the team?” Napp asked. If he was going to ask them their names, he might as well know what they were good at and what they would rather not do on the field of battle. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each of his soldiers would provide him with a better understanding on how to deploy them effectively when they got around to attacking the enemy base. Of course, that all depended on them actually obeying orders from a complete stranger to their military system.

    “I’m really not specialized in anything,” Arin said. “I’m just a normal soldier.”

    “All right. We need regular troops,” Napp said. “And you?” He pointed to the next soldier.

    “Floater,” the clone said.

    “Your talent?”

    “Same as him. I’m just a soldier fighting to keep the Republic intact and see the death of the Seps. If you’re looking for more motivation that that, then I can’t help you.”

    “That’s fine. You?” Napp asked the next soldier.

    As he went down the line, Napp realized that most of the men who were sitting around the fire were ordinary ground troops with no special training whatsoever. Arin, Floater, Pax, Sidestep, Strap, Poole, Hopper (whom the others had had to speak for since he wasn’t going to be coaxed out of his tent), Flex; all of them would only be effective at fighting the enemy head-on using tactics they had learned over their short lives. That would complicate things quite a bit, Napp reckoned. Badge, the trooper who seemed to be the unquestioned leader of the clones, said that he had a little bit of training in artillery, but out in this environment and without proper equipment those skills would do him no good, so he could be lumped in with the others for any practical method of organization. The only one with any real special training was Grayfoot, who said that he had been trained as a battlefield medic and had served in several battles to help the wounded. At least his job was simple; stay with part of the group and patch up anyone who needed help. That left the Renegades to fill out the remaining spots on the team: Napp as the team leader and grenadier to blow open holes for the regular soldiers to go through, Octro to help Grayfoot with the medical procedures, Jai to cover the ground troops with her sniper fire, leaving Talnar, Bo and Lika to join the clones as they charged the base. Napp just wished that there was more variety in the training of the clones he had been tasked with leading, but there was no time to complain about that now. They were out in the middle of nowhere, and had to make do with the personnel they had on hand.

    “What’s the plan for tomorrow?” Bo asked.

    “I don’t know,” Napp said, pulling out the map that the Major had given him. “If I knew that this map was accurately displaying every single detail of that compound, it would be relatively simple to come up with a battle strategy right here and now. However, since there are probably flaws in the numbers, we will probably end up winging it when we get there.”

    “You realize that you’re one of the least-reassuring people in this galaxy, right?” Octro asked. “How come you never understand exactly what you’re going to do ahead of time?”

    “I could probably give you a long and comprehensive answer to your question,” Napp said. “But I don’t want to bore you all with detail, so I’ll just give you one word that explains my MO: Pirate.”

    “Pirate?” Octro asked. “What in the hell does that mean?”

    “It means that I figure out everything as I go along,” Napp said. “Easier to do things that way.”

    “And here I always thought that you planned these things ahead of time,” Octro said. “My bad.”

    Napp studied the map, choosing not to respond to the Rodian’s comments. The compound was easily recognizable, sitting smack-dab in the middle of the map. Around what was labeled as “Central Compound” were several checkpoints. Perhaps those were enemy batteries, or maybe they were simply checkpoints. Whatever they were, the Republic squad would have to get past those before they could lay siege to the central area. Napp frowned; there wasn’t much topographical information on the map.

    “Those damn scouts didn’t give us any intel on the terrain we’re going to be on,” he said. “We’re going in blind as can be.”

    “What do you know?” Octro asked. “Maybe there will be some rocks to hide behind, because all this planet seems to be is wasteland and the occasional rock formation. If I was going to put up a secret base in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn’t put it in the most obvious place. It would go somewhere where I would have the most advantage against any enemy raiders.”

    “With our luck, it will be completely flat land all the way out,” Napp replied. “If the Seps have half a brain, they’ll stick us out in an open area where they can begin to pick us off one by one.”

    “Sounds like we’d need to strike when they’ll least expect us,” Jai said, still staring intently at her rifle. “It’s our only hope.”

    “Where would you set up?” Octro asked. “If it’s flat, you’re just as vulnerable as we are. Not a good place for a sharpshooter.”

    “We don’t even know what’s out there, so I say that we figure it out when we know more about what we’re up against,” Talnar commented. “This bickering is getting us nowhere. I say that we should pack it in and wait until morning.”

    “Be that way,” Octro muttered. “Since none of you really care, I’m going to tuck in. Good night.” He stood up and walked off to an isolated part of the camp, where he had laid out a simple blanket on the ground to lay on.

    “What’s his problem?” Arin asked.

    “Nothing,” Talnar responded quickly. “Nothing at all.”

    Napp folded the map up and placed it back in a pocket of his tunic. They would have to get moving early the next morning, so it would be beneficial if they all got some sleep. “I say that we should call it a night,” he said to the group huddled around the fire. “We should put out the fire. Don’t want any Seps coming down on us because they saw flames, do we?” Two of the clones began to shovel some dirt onto the fire, smothering the flame. The last gasp of what had minutes before been a nice, warm fire was now just a wisp of smoke floating in the still night air. Undoubtedly the clones would have wanted the fire to stay burning all night, but the Feeorin had a point; giving enemy scouts any idea that hostiles were in the area would easily get them all killed. So, in the argument of warmth and comfort against surviving out here, it was decidedly better to live and get to the compound in one piece rather than the risk of attracting enemies to the camp.

    “Renegades, we need to discuss some things. The rest of you can retire for the night,” Napp said. Some of the clones gave him an odd look, while the rest retreated to their tents for the night. Those that were questioning his logic probably were suspecting him of trying to sabotage the mission. The clones never did trust sentient soldiers, did they? The cloning process had created something rather remarkable, because all of the clones seemed to think as one, but it also had a huge drawback; they were unable to work with non-clones. Thus, having the Renegades, none of whom were clones, gather for a meeting without inviting any of the clones to have a say would seem somewhat suspicious. Of course, Napp didn’t trust anyone at this point; in earlier action, Octro had proven himself as an untrustworthy person, and the Corporal didn’t exactly top his list of people he would want guarding the camp, especially with her issues with the clones. That left just Jai, Bo and Lika, and himself. He would have liked to post Bo and Lika as the sentries for the night, because theoretically two was better than one, but even he couldn’t stay alert all night. No, they would have to rotate people so that everyone got some rest.

    The remaining Renegades clustered around Napp. “We need to discuss watch for tonight. The Corporal here has offered to do first watch, but by my estimates, we’ll need three lookouts for the night. So, who wants to guard the camp?”

    Jai was silent, making Napp guess that she would rather sleep than stay up to guard the camp. Great, that took her out of contention, which meant that he would have to do a shift. That was just great; now he would miss out on some sleep, especially after a hard day of travel.

    “I will do second shift,” Bo said. “That leaves one of you two to do the Third Shift.”

    “I’m not going to do watch,” Jai said. “No way.”

    “Any reasons?” Bo said.

    “No. I just don’t want to,” the sniper replied. “Got a problem with that?”

    “I just said . . .” Bo said, but Jai cut him off.

    “No more questions. ‘Night,” she said before walking off to her sleeping area.

    “That leaves the three of us,” Bo said. “Napp, you will have to do Third Shift.”

    “Fine,” Napp said. “That at least gives me a chance to study this map.” He motioned to the pocket where the map was stashed. “Perhaps I can devise our battle strategy before we break camp. Or, I could always use this to wipe my nose if I need to sneeze. Might be more useful that way than as a battle planner.”

    “Why are we not letting the clones in on this?” Bo asked. Talnar gave him a serious look.

    “Because they are not to be trusted,” she hissed. “How do we know that all ten of them don’t have something up their sleeve to leave us out here for dead? They could just kill us, and report in that we were killed in the fighting at the enemy base. None of them can be trusted.”

    “But they aren’t going to trust us if we don’t let them do watch,” Bo said. “I may not trust them any more than you do, Corporal, but they can be useful to help guard the camp. We don’t exactly have a large number of us to run watch, so all three of us are going to run short of sleep tonight. They can help by covering the other side of camp, and giving us a piece of mind that we won’t have otherwise.”

    “Talnar is right,” Napp said. “Those clones don’t trust us, and we don’t trust them. It’s a standoff. Until they show us that they are loyal to us, and to me in particular, I don’t completely trust them. That troublesome one . . . Hopper, I think it was . . . could have messed with their minds to want us dead even though we are on the same side. They need to prove their worth before I let them guard our camp. Remember, most of us aren’t worth anything to the military, so who would they trust in court: the ‘brave’ soldiers who are fighting for the well-being of the Republic, or a couple of no-name mercenaries who have no military standing whatsoever that can be cut loose at any time because new people can be found to fill our spots?”

    “You’re isolating them,” Bo said. “I am warning you. The more we do things ourselves, the less they will trust us. No good military unit functions without trust, and the way I see things, they are losing faith in us if we don’t give them some freedom to do things.”

    “No one said we are a good military unit,” Napp said. “Pretty sure that’s why we’re out here in the first place. To prove that we can be effective. And, to answer your point, no one ever said we would have to work with clones in this kind of situation. I’m pretty sure that my contract said that I would be fighting for an independent unit; as far as I know, that means without clones. They’ve already breached that promise, so I’m not exactly obligated to follow their instructions and let the clones be in a position of power on this mission.”

    “Then why don’t you let the clones do watch?” Bo asked. “That’s not a position of power, as you call it. If we want the clones to trust us, we have to let them get involved. We need to prove to them that we are not afraid of letting them run things for the night.”

    “You just don’t get it,” Talnar said. “I’m going out on watch, and that’s final. I don’t care who or what follows my watch; I just don’t want to end up out on patrol with those shiny freaks if I don’t have to.”

    “Then we won’t force you,” Napp said. “Bo, you will take second watch. Wake me at 0400.” The Codru-Jii, still bothered by this conversation, grunted and then walked away. It was obvious that he didn’t like where the situation had gone, but he wasn’t about to keep arguing his point if there wasn’t someone else there to back him up. That left Napp alone around the remains of the fire. Hopefully the clones hadn’t overheard this little conversation; if they had, they would definitely start to question the Renegades. He was now in a precarious position; either he would go with Bo’s solution, letting the clones do watch. That could kill them, as the Corporal had pointed out. However, if they didn’t let the clones do anything on their own, they would probably try to usurp power anyways, by any means necessary. Whatever Napp did, someone wouldn’t be happy. Maybe being the leader of a group of misfits wasn’t so great after all.

    Hopper stirred. He was having a dream, a surprisingly good one. He imagined that he was in charge of the entire Third Army. At his command, thousands of his brothers rushed forward into battle, tearing the Separatist army to pieces. Hailfire droids fell to the ordinary infantryman, tanks breaking apart due to the explosion of a hand grenade, battle droids being cleaved in two by well-trained soldiers in white. After the battle, he would go and personally execute the enemy leader; they had gone against the Republic in the first place to start the damn conflict, so they needed to be eliminated once and for all to set an example. No one would get away with the atrocities that they had committed since the breakout of the war.

    His dream was interrupted by a rustling outside his tent. Groggily, he sat up and drew his blaster; perhaps the sentients were coming for his life? The flap of his tent opened, and in came a dark shape. “Hopper, it’s me,” said the voice.

    “Floater,” Hopper said. “You startled me there.”

    “Sorry,” Floater said. “I just have a suspicion that those people are going to try and ditch us out here.”

    “Of course they will,” Hopper said. “I knew it all along. We need to be vigilant in order to prevent them from leaving us behind.”

    “They don’t want us on watch,” Floater said. “Sound suspicious to you?”

    “They don’t trust us,” Hopper said. “That Khil and the brute are in on this together; I can tell when we’re being plotted against. All of them want us gone, because we’re dead-weight to them. We need to fight back and remove them from the game if we’re to succeed. Our brothers want us to rescue them, not some sentient posers working under the false preaching of some crazed Army Major. We need to prove to them that they aren’t in control out here; this is our war, and we’re going to fight it without their help.”

    “So what are we going to do?” Floater said.

    “I have a plan,” Hopper said. “We wait. When they show the slightest sign of weakness, we get rid of them. No reason to have them holding us back. And, the military doesn’t want them anyways; we can do the Third a favor and eliminate them.”

    “If they find out that we killed an Army Corporal and went against the orders given by a Major, we could be court-martialed for treason, and maybe then executed,” Floater said. “It’s not worth it if we get caught.”

    “That’s why we finish them off. Leave no survivors,” Hopper said. “In several days time, all of them will be gone, and we’ll be free to finish our mission without interference. Rostu will be discredited, and probably removed from his post. And, I want first crack at that Khil. The rest you can kill yourself, but she is mine. I want the last thing she sees to be my blaster aimed at her head. When we’re done here, Floater, we’re going to be famous, and then promoted for our bravery in action. We’ll finally be recognized as the brave soldiers we really are, and we’ll reap some nice benefits, too. All we need to do is wait for the opportune moment to strike.”
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  16. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Trieste, tjace, epithree

    Chapter 9: The Game of Trust

    Napp sat on a rock, staring blankly at the wastes around him as the sun rose that morning. The brilliant light of the sun shone on the area, brightening it from a dull gray to a slightly less dull shade of light brown. He was bathed in light, and was warm for the first time since he had been awoken by Bo earlier in the morning to take Third Watch. It had been rather lonely for the few hours he had been sitting there, but he didn’t really mind. He had been this way all his life; why change now?

    He had been studying Major Rostu’s map for the past half hour, and was still not getting anywhere on deciphering it. The clones that had drawn it up obviously had their own set of abbreviations to label things, and the Major had conveniently forgotten to give him a guide to be able to understand the markings. Thus, he had sat in total silence, his mind churning, trying vainly to figure out what each little symbol meant and how it fit into the bigger picture. This map had obviously been written for other clones to use, and Napp knew that he certainly wasn’t a clone. Unless there was a hidden set of instructions on the map to point him in the right direction, it was practically useless. Placing it back in his pocket, he had stared off into the distance, hoping that clearing his mind would help him think of something. Maybe he did hold the key to deciphering the map, but he might need time to figure it all out.

    Movement behind him snapped Napp out of his trance. He swung around to see who had dared enter his thought process. It was Badge, the clone ‘leader’. “You mind?” he asked.

    Napp wasn’t sure what the clone was here for. “What’s the issue, private?” he asked, not caring if he sounded rude or not. After all, he was in charge of this group.

    “Information,” replied Badge. “I may have something you will find interesting.” He sat down next to Napp on the rock, and then opened his sack. Out came two small hardtack biscuits. He bit into one, and then held out the other one in his hand. It was rather squished due to it being in a full backpack, and hardtack wasn’t generally very appetizing looking in general. “Biscuit?”

    “I’m starving,” Napp said. He was suspicious that Badge was trying to lure him into a trap. Was this morsel poisoned? But, on the other hand, the clones were not exactly known for treachery, so it was probably safe to assume that this was just a goodwill gesture. Wanting to cover his bases, Napp grabbed the biscuit and took a small bite. He studied the taste; did it seem acidic, like a poison? What greeted him was the taste of hardtack biscuit, which he had gotten quite fond of during his days as a mercenary in the space gang many years earlier. Biscuits like this were hard to chew through, so he continued to probe it fro any unusual taste. He hadn’t croaked yet, so it was probably safe to eat the rest. Taking another bite, Napp settled down a little. “What information?”

    “About the mission,” Badge said. “I feel like some of my fellows are plotting to have you all dead.”

    “Figures,” Napp said. “What are you basing this off of?”

    “I overheard a conversation last night. Hopper and another one of the clones were talking in the middle of the night about discrediting Major Rostu.”

    “Wouldn’t be the first time,” Napp said, taking another bite of the biscuit. “No one has trusted this division since its inception. If I wasn’t a part of the 44th, I would say he was crazy too.”

    “I also heard that Hopper himself wants to kill the Corporal,” Badge said. Napp choked and spat up the bite he had just taken. Now that was truly disturbing news. Not entirely shocking given their past history, but still disturbing.

    “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?” he asked. Badge shook his head.

    “I know what I heard, and I came to warn you to watch your back. Hopper is not to be trusted.”

    “I thought all of you clones were in on this together,” Napp said. “You know, with all that brotherhood stuff you keep referring to.”

    “No, Hopper’s always been somewhat of a lunatic,” Badge replied. “Ever since our early years, he’s always been a zealot for clone superiority, and couldn’t care less about others getting hurt. And, if that means talking back to a superior who is not a clone, he will do it. Given that history, he is not to be trusted.”

    “Speaking of that, how can I trust you?” Napp asked. “How do I know that you aren’t in league with him?”

    “You can’t,” Badge said. “But if I were you, I would heed that advice. It will save your life.” He stood up. “I’ll pack my things and be ready to break camp soon. Did you figure anything out on the map?”

    “No,” Napp said sullenly. “Too many complex markings.”

    “The military is known for that sort of thing,” Badge said. “Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.” He walked away, leaving Napp alone once again to ponder this change of events. It didn’t surprise him that Hopper was angry at him for almost killing him, and that he wanted to get back at Talnar following the incident back at the main camp, but kill them all? What purpose would that suit? But, then again, Badge was probably the most trustworthy of all the clones, even though Napp still didn’t entirely believe what he said. As Badge had said, he couldn’t be trusted, but Napp had no other choice but to believe him. Hopper would probably make his move, if at all, during the next day or two. The Renegades would have to stay on top of things in order to keep him in check. And, if he wasn’t up to something evil, it would be beneficial to be on guard at all times anyway. Who knew what the Seps were going to throw their way when they arrived at the enemy compound.

    The camp took much more time to disassemble than it took to put up, so by the time the group was ready to move out, it was already 1030. Napp had wanted to get moving sooner than that, but the clones had insisted on getting their things packed away securely. Even in the middle of a war zone, they still needed everything to be nice and neat. He had relayed Badge’s warning to the other Renegades, who had given him mixed responses in return. Talnar had been angry, saying that she figured Hopper was up to no good, Bo just took the information with little reaction, Jai just cleaned her rifle and said that if he tried to kill her she would shoot him so fast that he wouldn’t be able to blink beforehand, and Octro had fallen asleep during the spiel, waking only after Napp poked him several times.

    The trip across the wasteland was harsh. The sun beat down on the group with unrelenting fury, causing them to drink a significant amount of their water on hand. Octro had been complaining about the situation for most of the day, saying that they could have gone this far during the night, spending the daytime resting up and preparing for the attack on the enemy base. Napp mostly ignored the Rodian; going around this territory at night was just asking for trouble. He didn’t like the weather conditions either, but at least they could see any enemy parties in the area. All the while, he was keeping a close eye on Hopper; he didn’t if the clone was going to pull something, but if he did, the bulky Feeorin would be ready to counter. This time, he might let his patience run dry and break Hopper’s neck instead of letting him go like he had the day before. If the clone felt so inclined to kill the Renegades, he would deserve equal punishment from them, which he doubted that most of the Renegades would argue against. If one of the men wanted to kill them, and was caught in the act, they would probably view him as a threat, and support Napp’s decision to kill him. However, he couldn’t single Hopper out now; he would have to wait and see if he acted out of the ordinary. If so, Napp would then make his move accordingly.

    The group eventually took a break underneath a large rock formation, which gave them a brief respite from the sun that beat down on them. Napp broke open another package of C-rations, starting with the meat. He voraciously ate it, his appetite finally whetted despite the food being of questionable quality and inferior taste. He had had much better food in his lifetime, but it would be hard to get a nice, juicy nerf steak out here, so he had to make do with the army-issued rations. Munching on a piece of hardtack, he looked around at the rest of the group. The Corporal, in between bites of her food, was shooting quick glances at Hopper, who ate alone on the far side of the rock. If he was trying to blend in, Napp reasoned, he was doing a poor job. If he wanted to strike at the opportune moment, he would have to be nearby, which meant that he couldn’t stray off too far. Perhaps he wasn’t going to kill them after all, and Badge had been wrong? Or was he plotting behind their back without them knowing? Either way, he wasn’t going to stay out of their sight for the rest of the day; the Renegades were going to keep an especially sharp eye on his movements. If he stepped out of line, they would confront him.

    “This stuff is gross!” Octro said to no one in particular. He was referring to the C-rations.

    “Get used to it, Bazak,” Talnar said unceremoniously. “If you’re going to be in the Army, you’ll have to eat like the rest of us.”

    “That’s not right,” Octro replied. “How can you survive on this? It tastes like paste.”

    “Just deal with it,” Talnar said. “If you want, you can go back home. Leave all this behind and go back to your comfy life at home. But that doesn’t pay nearly as much, does it?”

    “Damn you,” Octro said. He complained no more about the food after that, content with keeping his thoughts to himself. Talnar, satisfied that she had shut the Rodian up, kept on munching at her rations.

    Napp pulled out the map one more time. But, no matter how hard he tried, he still didn’t understand what the markings meant. Once again, without a better plan, the Renegades would have to live up to their name and wing it. Just that this time, they wouldn’t have the element of surprise; on the Moorja mission, they had been able to melt into the crowd, blending in because of their unsightly appearance. However, he doubted that there would be many Separatist mercenaries here; instead, it would be the regulars, if there were any organic troops stationed there, and a ton of battle droids, who would shoot at them if they didn’t register as friendly soldiers. No, this mission would be much more difficult, because there wasn’t a Republic operative inside that they could pump for information. This time, they were on their own.

    “Still trying to figure that out?” Bo asked. Napp nodded.

    “We’re going in blind, I’m afraid,” he said. “No way I can figure out what these markings mean.”

    “Let me take a look,” Bo said. Napp handed him the map. Bo turned it around, flipped it over, pointed at some things, scratched his chin, and then handed it back. “I cannot understand it either.”

    “Figures,” Napp commented. “If we get through this alive, I’m complaining to the Major that his maps are very confusing if you don’t know the code.”

    “Makes it much more difficult to read if the enemy gets their hands on it,” Bo offered. “If they don’t know the code, they are just as helpless as we are in trying to read it.”

    “Very true,” Napp said. “But we aren’t exactly the enemy. So, this map does us no good in the end. Very fitting. Clones that want to kill us, and now a map that doesn’t make any sense. What will they think of next?”

    “Be careful what you wish for,” Bo said. “I’m afraid that we are in for the fight of our lives. If we cannot use the map, then we are unaware of what lies ahead. Usually, that does not mean anything positive for our side.”

    “No it does not,” Napp said. “But we have no other choice in this matter. We need to press forward. I may not like it any more than you do, but what choice do we have? My hands are tied in this, so I can only say that we have to keep going forward.” Bo gave him a look of dismay, and then walked away. Napp sighed; it was going to be a long couple of hours until they got to the enemy complex. And that was if they were going to make it there before sunset. Since they hadn’t gotten going as early as he had earlier hoped, Napp now was unsure if the group would make it that far in the last few hours of daylight. It would be a long, arduous walk the rest of the way, and they would need to keep up their guard. This far in enemy territory, anything could happen, so they would all have to be alert and be ready in case an enemy scouting party found them and decided it would behoove them to eliminate the threat immediately instead of calling back to HQ for help. Out here in a war zone, there was no telling what they would be up against, so the Republic soldiers would have to be ready for anything and everything.
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  17. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Trieste, tjace, epithree

    Chapter 10: Hatching the Plan

    The sun was starting to set on the wastes of Pylos-V, sending out elongated shadows of the Renegades and the clones that were following them. It had been a long march since the break under the shade of the rock formation. All of them were exhausted, their energy spent trudging ever onwards even though they easily could have called it a day and set up camp. All of them, even though they had differing motives for continuing onwards, all had the same goal; getting to the enemy compound as soon as possible so they could begin their rescue operation. The clones, wanting to save their comrades, were willing to go right in through the front door, guns blazing as they went. The Renegades, on the other hand, were willing to settle into an undercover operation and try to find any prisoners under the guise of Separatist soldiers. From there, they would proceed out, which would hopefully reduce the amount of fighting they would have to endure on the escape.

    Twice, the group had had to stop because of an enemy patrol in the area. Napp had given the order to halt when he had seen a shiny object about twenty meters away. The rest of the group had been able to duck out of the way a split-second before a pair of STAPs zoomed past, their droid operators unaware that Republic soldiers were so close to their trajectory. The other time, the group had dodged a small patrol of battle droids, who had gone back to base with nothing to report. As far as they knew, it was so far so good for the Republic forces.

    The group finally came to a cliff face when the sun was finally setting below the horizon. Below them was a large canyon, it’s walls forming a large circular area. Right in the middle of that open space was the enemy complex. At first glance, it was a massive site; the walls of the complex rose a good two hundred meters into the air, many large pillars holding up the massive walls on all sides. The material used to create the walls were earthy-looking, which in the dim light made it hard to figure out what was part of the main complex and what was plain wasteland. Out from the complex were several checkpoints, each one manned by several battle droids. Napp pulled out his macrobinoculars, taking a peek at the nearest check station. From here, he could tell that the squad of battle droids were patrolling a small gun battery, which easily had enough power to rip through a vehicle with a single shot. Apparently the Seps had planned for a possible attack by Republic forces, so they had beefed up their defenses by adding the check stations, and probably had some more hidden weapons in the vicinity. All in all, it would be a tough fortress to break into.

    “So it’s an open area after all,” Octro commented. “I was right all along.”

    “That’s going to complicate things,” Napp said, still staring through his binoculars. “We can’t go in through the front door without attracting a lot of attention. If we alert the whole damn place to our presence, there’s no way that we’re getting out alive.”

    “We’ll have to find a back way in,” Talnar said. “Perhaps there’s a supply entrance somewhere? We could sneak in that way, but only if we can successfully get past those checkpoints.”

    “Leave that to us,” Badge said. “We can cover for you.”

    “Negative,” Napp said, holding up a hand. “That would raise the alarm. Those droids would be on top of us almost immediately, and who knows what’s inside that could start shooting at us.”

    “There’s no other choice,” Talnar said. ‘We have to get in somehow, and there isn’t a disguise that we could use . . .”

    “Wait!” Napp exclaimed. “I think we just found our way in.”

    “What?” Talnar asked. Napp pointed down to a dirt road leading up to the first checkpoint. Several large speeders, their tops covered by a dirty canvas, were approaching, slowing down as they reached the checkpoint. The driver stuck his head out and said a few words to the battle droid commander, who let the speeders pass with no issue.

    “What are the odds that more are going to be coming?” Talnar asked. “We could be here a very long time waiting for more of those to arrive.”

    “You have a better idea?” Napp said. “New plan. We get down off of this cliff and stow away in those speeders. With any luck, no one will notice our presence, and we’ll be able to get by that first checkpoint. Once we get through that one, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to get the rest of the way in. That should dump us somewhere in the compound. If I am correct, supply speeders usually will stop by a loading dock. If we can get by the drivers without being detected, we can sneak in through the dock and then proceed with the plan.”

    “Sounds dangerous, not to mention highly ineffective,” Octro said. “We stick out like a sore thumb out there. This time, there won’t be mercenaries around to help us blend in. Plus, we have them to deal with.” He pointed back to the clones. “No way they’ll get in without being noticed.”

    “That’s why we’ll have to do it real quiet-like,” Napp said, looking up at the Rodian. He stashed his binoculars away, and then wheeled around to look at the rest of the group. “Everyone got that?” A few clones nodded their heads, but Hopper did not. Napp was sure he was up to something, but until he actually tried to pull something, there was nothing to do but suspect him of being up to no good. But, there were more important things to think about, and Hopper was quickly replaced in Napp’s mind by a rough plan of how their entrance into the compound would be pulled off. The Rodian was right, this plan was extremely risky, not to mention difficult to pull off. However, no one else had come up with a better plan, so they would stick with this one for now.

    Getting off a large bluff was difficult for several members of the group. Napp, relaxed and used to these kinds of challenges, slid down with relative ease, as did the Corporal. She had obviously done some similar exercises during basic training, so this was nothing new to her. However, Octro, Jai and Bo had problems getting down. Octro had panicked when he had seen the decline he would have to go down, and would have stayed behind had Bo not pushed him over the side. Jai, who didn’t want her rifle to be bent on the way down, clutched it tightly in her hands, banging her arms into the bluff side as she went. Bo, who was trying to go slowly to alleviate the fear of heights that his sister Lika had, found it difficult to comfort her and go down at the same time, and had landed a bit rougher at the bottom than he had hoped. The clones, who had ascension guns attached to their blaster rifles, descended the cliff in portions, finding a solid spot to stand while they readjusted their guns and prepared to fire again. It was certainly easier to go down that way, and as far as Octro and Jai were concerned, was akin to taking the easy way out. They had slid down the decline, putting their lives in their hands, while the clones just used their fancy weapons to get down without a scratch. Another reason why the 44th was the one forced to do things the hard way, while the clones got to take the easy way out.

    Once the group was down from the bluff side, Napp found a small crag for all of them to hide behind. In front of them was the road that he guessed the supply speeders had used; it was extremely crude, parts of the path not completely cleared of rocks and other debris. It was apparent that the Seps hadn’t quite thought this part through, as a few of the rocks looked big enough to cause some damage if a speeder collided with them. But there was a path, and that was all that mattered. Now all they had to do was wait for more speeders to come through. That was if more speeders were going to come through.

    “We could be here a while,” Napp said to the others. “We’re going to have to be ready to go at a moments’ notice.”

    “We could have just gone in through the front door,” grumbled Sidestep.

    “And have the enemy shooting you right in the face as soon as you get a foot in the door?” Napp said. “I think you wouldn’t like that.”

    “Beats sneaking around any day,” Sidestep said.

    Napp held up a hand to silence the clone. He heard something that sounded like it could be an engine. Taking a peek around the corner, he could see the front of a dull brown supply speeder. From here, he could see that there was a large canvas covering the back; this was their chance to get in. However, not all of them would fit in that speeder; it wasn’t large enough. Although he couldn’t tell if there were any more speeders behind this one, Napp guessed that the amount of sound given off by the approaching vehicle meant that there were more in line behind this one. Sure enough, three more speeders appeared behind the lead one, all their cargo areas covered in canvas to protect their precious items from being exposed to sunlight. Napp waved the rest of the team to go as soon as possible; if they were lucky, they could all fit into the final two speeders’ cargo holds. However, this plan also presented a problem; what if the driver of the final speeder saw some suspicious people climb into the speeder in front of theirs? That wouldn’t go over so well, especially if they reported it in to the base that hostiles could be coming their way in a cargo caravan.

    “Take out the driver of that fourth speeder,” Napp said to the huddled group over the whine of the speeder engines. “We can’t been seen piling into that third one. They could raise the alarm, and then we’ll need to make a quick getaway. In this canyon, it would be very hard to get out of range of the enemy weapons, and who knows if there is a bottleneck somewhere around here that they could trap us in. Going up that bluff is not an option at this point.”

    “Got it,” Talnar said. Doing a military-style roll as she went, she left the cover of the rock crag and crouched next to the exposed part of the wall. She looked at the driver of the fourth speeder; the Nemoidian wasn’t looking in her direction, which would giver her the advantage. As soon as the third speeder in the caravan passed her, she took a diving leap onto the fourth speeder’s cockpit. She landed hard on the durasteel frame, which sent a shot of pain through her left arm even though she was wearing military-grade armor. The Nemoidian driver looked up to see what the commotion was about. What he saw was a green-skinned Khil, decked out in Republic armor, hanging onto the cockpit’s frame. Stunned momentarily, the driver reached for a holdout blaster pistol that was stashed in the dashboard of the speeder. Realizing that the enemy was going for a weapon, Talnar launched herself into the cockpit using all her might, landing right on top of the helpless Nemoidian, whose hand fell short of reaching the concealed panel where the blaster was hidden. Talnar landed a solid punch to the driver’s jaw, sending him crumpling to the floor of the cockpit. Using her strength, she shoved the driver out of the cockpit entirely, causing him to land on the ground with a loud thud. After landing, he was greeted by another shot to the face, this time by Napp to knock him out cold. Hopefully by the time he would wake from his unconscious state, the Renegades would be long gone.

    Talnar settled into the driver’s seat of the speeder. The control panel was extremely simple, created specifically so almost anyone could drive it with minimal training or experience. Thus, Talnar found it no problem to figure out the controls. As she was congratulating herself for her deed, she realized that her speeder, having gone without a driver for several seconds, had not been able to slow when the others ahead of it began to cut their engines as they reached the checkpoint area. Looking up, she realized that she was close to running into the speeder in front of her. Slamming on the brakes, she was just able to stop her speeder’s forward progress so it would not slam into the one ahead of it. She took a deep breath; that had not gone as planned.

    “Now!” Napp ordered to the others. “This is our chance!” He ran towards Talnar’s speeder at full speed, trying to stay out of the line of sight of the other speeder drivers and any droids at the now-nearing checkpoint station. Grabbing hold of a handle on the outside, he hoisted himself into the cockpit of the speeder, landing on the seat next to the Corporal. “Nice work, Corporal,” he said.

    “That was easy,” Talnar replied. “I could do that all day.”

    Through the forward windshield, the two Renegades could see the clone troopers pile into the back. Seconds later, a broken battle droid came out of the back, its body cut in two. A bruised-looking Gossam followed, who looked up fast enough to see another speeder approaching it. Unable to roll out of the way, the tiny Separatist soldier was run over and killed by the Renegades’ speeder, the battle droid’s mangled body barely missed as it lay on the ground motionless. Eight clone soldiers had gone into the third speeder, but, as Napp noticed, the two that hadn’t probably were Hopper and one of his accomplices.

    “Hopper didn’t get into that one,” Napp commented. “I think he’s on this speeder.”

    “Damn clone,” Talnar hissed. “He really wants us dead, doesn’t he?”

    “I think he does,” Napp replied. “But we don’t have time to deal with that now. Is everyone stowed away?” He stuck his head out of the side of the cockpit; from here, he could see Lika’s tail disappear into the canvas, Bo right on her heels. No one else was visible, so they must have already stowed away in the back. “I think we’re all accounted for. Full speed ahead, Corporal.”

    “Last time I tried that, I almost crashed into that speeder,” Talnar said, pointing at the speeder in front. “And then we’d be in big trouble.”

    “But for now we’re not,” Napp said. “Speaking of that, your armor will give you away as an enemy soldier.”

    “Right,” Talnar said. “Do you have a cloak, or something else I could use to cover up the armor?”

    Napp shook his head. “I doubt that they would stash something like that on a cheap supply speeder like this. Your best bet is to hop in the back, and to let me drive . . .” He then remembered that Hopper might be in the back of this speeder, which would lead to more issues than he cared to have to deal with. “On second thought, you could hide on the floor here.”

    “I don’t want to lie down on that!” Talnar exclaimed. “You don’t know where’s it’s been, or who has used this!”

    “Corporal,” Napp said, but Talnar would have none of it.

    “How would you like to be put on the floor in one of these damn vehicles?” she demanded. “I don’t think you’d do it either, come to think of it. Even you, tough guy, wouldn’t want . . .” She didn’t get to finish her sentence, because Napp, who saw the checkpoint station looming rapidly in the windshield, pushed her head down below the console. The rest of the Corporal fell down onto the floor, and Napp slid over into the driver’s seat.

    “You’ll thank me later,” he said.

    “What is that smell?” asked the Corporal, whose body was mostly shielded by Napp’s bulky leg if someone looked in the driver’s side. “Some of those damn drivers obviously didn’t wash their feet very often. It smells like a sewer down here! And I’ve never even been in a sewer!”

    Napp rolled his eyes. Did the Corporal ever shut up, or was she always like this? “Quiet,” he urged. “We’re getting close to the checkpoint. Keep a low profile, and stay still.”

    “Just know that I’m not groveling at your feet,” Talnar shot back. “So don’t let this get to your head.”

    “I won’t,” Napp said. Silently, he knew that he had gained the upper hand once again. However, none of this was supposed to happen in the original plan; had one speeder been enough for all sixteen members of the Republic strike force to stow away in, then they wouldn’t need to be driving this damn speeder in the first place. But, that’s how things had played out, so Napp knew that he had done the only thing he could. Talnar didn’t like it, but she probably would have done the same thing had it been the other way around. Slowly but surely, Napp navigated the speeder towards the checkpoint. Hopefully the droids wouldn’t get suspicious, or else this could get very hairy in a hurry
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  18. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    And we're back!

    Trieste, epithree, jcgoble3

    Chapter 11: Meanwhile, Back at Camp . . .

    Major Nick Rostu flipped through the pile of maps that were sitting haphazardly on the floor of his broken office. It had been several days since the attack by Separatist forces, and not much had been done in the cleanup efforts yet. The few clones he had at his disposal were doing everything they could to help clean up, but they were too overwhelmed with the amount of damage done to the camp. It was hard enough to have to knock down the already-creaky shells of what used to be army barracks, but it was a different story when it came to moving the bodies of their comrades and friends. So many dead lay around from the attack that, by Rostu’s estimates, it could easily take seven to ten days of hard labor by his remaining forces to remove them from the camp and prepare them for mass burial. It was hard for the survivors to have to deal with so many dead fellow soldiers, but there was nothing else they could do. They needed to move on from the attack, and that included letting their dead friends go. Rostu sympathized with the plight of the living soldiers; seeing your friends die in battle was something that always stuck with you, no matter what you did to try and forget that they ever died. Forgetting was what separated the good soldiers and the ideal soldiers. Ideal soldiers were killing machines who had no care in the world for others, like the battle droids that the Seps used so effectively. However, battle droids lacked emotion, and would never experience the same pain that a living soldier would when their fellows were cut down on the field of battle. No, these soldiers would be hurting for a while, and Rostu knew that he needed to keep them busy in order to not lose them. If he lost them to depression or a similar morale issue, then there was no way that he would ever get them back.

    What was really bothering Rostu was the lack of help being offered to help deal with his plight. He had called in several times for assistance cleaning up the camp with the commanders of the rest of the Third Army, and had even contacted Coruscant to see if some troops could be dropped off on Pylos-V to aid the cleanup effort. The answer he got was always along the same line. “Troops are needed elsewhere, Major. The Third cannot afford to lose more troops than they already are, and our overall forces are already stretched thin across the galaxy. We just have no one to help you out, so you will be on your own.,” was the response he had gotten from Army High Command. It was obvious that although the Third was preoccupied on Pylos-V, Rostu’s small force was not important enough to merit a salvage operation. From what he had received, he had determined that he was on his own. Unless the prisoners could be saved by the 44th and their small task force of clone troopers, he would be powerless to aid the hard-working clones back at the camp site. The Third was too busy fighting the bulk of the enemy’s forces in the canyons of the planet, and the High Command was too concerned with other Separatist strongholds in the galaxy to send help, even though even coming to Pylos-V in the first place was part of the countermeasure to Operation Durge’s Lance. This left Rostu in a bad mood, and his lack of a sunny disposition had rubbed off on his troops, who felt even more hopeless than they had before. The situation in camp was not good.

    Rostu had checked his comlink repeatedly ever day since the Renegades had left camp with the strike force. The situation of a rescue operation had gone so sourly that he knew that only news of success at the enemy compound would raise his spirits. However, as time passed and no updates came, Rostu started finding that he paced back and forth in his office. Were the Renegades still alive, and Napp had just forgotten to send in reports, or had something happened to them? With so few troops at his disposal, Rostu knew that he could not send a rescue team to try and find the 44th, because then that would mean that they were abandoning the camp. However, given how the site itself seemed to have been condemned by the Army, and how help seemed impossible, there was nothing he could do. The Renegades would have to fend for themselves out there, wherever they were.

    “Major, a word, please,” a voice came from the doorway, snapping Rostu out of his constant thinking. Looking up, he saw one of his clones staring back at him.

    “What is it?” he snapped. These words sounded shocking to him, and he felt really embarrassed about being so rude. However, he wasn’t exactly in the best state of mind at the moment.

    The clone looked slightly taken aback, but spoke anyways. “We’ve been able to clear out a number of burned-out enemy vehicles. From what we’ve seen, that counts a few tanks, a STAP, and a Hailfire. Most of them are beyond repair, but our techs think that they might be able to refurbish a Persuader to make it fit for fighting again. However, that is just speculation.”

    “Who cares?” Rostu snapped. There, he had done it again. This situation was really taxing his mind.

    “What, sir?” the clone asked.

    “I’m sorry, soldier,” Rostu said. “I’ve just been having a real bad stretch. I got in touch with the rest of the Third Army about sending some boys over here to help you all in the clean-up effort.”

    “And . . .” the clone asked.

    “I’ve been turned down. Apparently the fighting in the canyons that the Third is dealing with is requiring as many men as possible, so they can’t help us out until they defeat the Seps out there. So, I then put in a request for more troops with High Command, and they turned me down as well.”

    “That means we’re out here on our own,” the clone said. Rostu nodded.

    “Unless the 44th can come back with some of our captured soldiers, we’re going to be running this skeleton crew for the foreseeable future. And, my request for supplies was put into committee. By all indications, we’re not going to be resupplied or reinforced for quite a while, if at all.”

    “Understood,” the clone said. “The troops won’t like that answer.”

    “I’ve done all I can,” Rostu said. “We’re going to have to make do with what forces we do have.”

    “Any word from the strike force?” asked the clone. Rostu shook his head.

    “I’ve been waiting for them to give me mission updates ever since they left, but nothing has come through. I fear the worst. However, there is nothing I can do. We just don’t have enough men to put together a rescue team to go and find them, because we are already stretched thin enough. This could not have happened at a worse time.” He rubbed his temple; the stress of the current situation was starting to get to him. He was missing sleep, and not having help on the way was making things even worse than they already were.

    “I think you need some sleep, Major,” the clone said. “I think it would be beneficial.”

    “No, I can’t,” Rostu said. “I’ve tried, and I just can’t get everything out of my mind. Until this is all over, I don’t think I’ll get any decent sleep. You are the ones who need a break, not me.”

    “We’ll keep working,” the clone said. “But we can’t keep doing this forever. Try to get through to the strike force and see if they are all right.”

    “I will,” Rostu said. “But I do not expect an answer soon, or if I will even get one. This planet has already tested my patience enough; there is nothing of value here. Why are we fighting for a bunch of wasteland area?”

    “Because we must, in order to keep the Republic in one piece,” the clone replied. “I think you need to take it easy for a while, Major. You’re starting to lose it.”

    “I am not losing it!” the Major shouted. “Just carry on with your duties, soldier.” The clone saluted and left the office, once again leaving Rostu alone with his thoughts. The Major knew that the clone was right; he was starting to crack under the pressure. However, what could he do about it? If the Army commanders didn’t want to help out his plight, then what was he supposed to tell his troops? That they were being abandoned by their own Army? That their fellow soldiers were fighting on distant battlefields without them? That their leader was now starting to fold under the tremendous weight of trying to keep his men alive, and whose only hope was that his experimental division could come through in the clutch and deliver positive results? What kind of person wouldn’t crack under that pressure?

    Rostu checked his comlink again. Once again, there was no message from the 44th. Just as expected; they were not getting back to him. Where could they be, and what were they up to? Surely they were good enough to survive out here? This group had survived the Moorja mission, which included a fierce ion storm and quite a bit of fighting, so hopefully they were good enough to deal with a little bit of adversity. But, if they hadn’t called in to report on their whereabouts or their strategy, did that mean that they were practicing comm. silence, which could prove to be a smart tactic, or were they all dead? Rostu knew that he should still hold out hope that they were alive. The 44th was not the ordinary run-of-the-mill military unit; they were just the opposite. The idea he had pitched to the High Command was for a unit of misfits and outcasts, who they all knew could be a handful but also prove to be rather effective on the battlefield. He had gone into the Moorja mission knowing that they could prove to be anything but an effective military force, and had been rather careful in giving them their first mission. Doing some undercover Ops had been a real test, and despite their run-in with Separatist mercenaries before they reached Moorjay and overall failure of the mission, he had been impressed that they hadn’t killed each other. However, this was their first real test; how would they respond? So far, he could only hope that they were still alive, because if they weren’t, his grand idea would be thrown out the window, and he would be stuck in a desk job for the rest of the war. He didn’t want that, but he had no choice at the moment. Either the Renegades were alive and just not responding, or they were lost. Either way, Rostu knew that he was running out of time.
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  19. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    Chapter 12: Behind Enemy Lines

    tjace, Trieste, epithree, jcgoble3

    The speeder caravan rumbled towards the checkpoint station, the lead one slowing down as it approached the security droids. Once the speeder stopped, the ones behind it also cut their engines. They were waiting for clearance to get into the Separatist compound, bring much-needed supplies in to help the operation occurring in the building at that very moment. It seemed like an inconvenience to have to go through these checkpoints; what, did their employers suspect them of smuggling Republic operatives into the complex or something ridiculous like that? No, they had made sure that there were no stowaways before they had left the supply depot; had they found anyone who wasn’t a friendly, they would have been killed instantly. No need to let any Republic scum find out what was going on at the compound, because if they found out, the entire clone army would probably descend those bluffs and launch a full-scale assault. That’s what the fringe droid army was for; divert the attention of the Republic troops so the Seps could finish the operation at the complex without interference. Everything was falling in place wonderfully.

    The driver of the lead speeder leaned out the window to talk to the security droid. The droid had seen better days; its hardware was covered in dirt, and its blaster definitely needed to be shined up. “Identification,” it said simply.

    “This will work,” the human driver said, pulling out a set of documents. On top of the lead paper was a large stamp, which obviously signified to the droid that this caravan was under the employ of the CIS. “Got a convoy of four today. I take it that these papers will work for all four of us?” The droid raised a hand to call off the other security droids, who drew their blasters in case things went bad, and to also call off the turret, which had drawn a bead on the speeder.

    “This checks out. You may proceed,” it said simply. Droids didn’t say much, did they?

    “Thank ye kindly,” the driver said, pulling the documents back into the speeder. Pressing the accelerator, the first speeder passed by the security station with no hitch. Then the second speeder passed by, its driver not even looking in the direction of the droids. The papers had checked out, so there was no need to check the identification of any of the other drivers. As far as the droids were concerned, if the lead driver had the proper papers in order to pass, then their entire convoy was covered. As the second speeder passed, the droids took a quick look at the third one. Nothing out of the ordinary with that one, so they let it pass without question. Now it was time to check on the fourth one in the convoy. The security droid could see a large, black-skinned Feeorin driving the speeder. There hadn’t been such a bulky driver bringing in a load of cargo to the compound, but the papers had worked, so the large man was waved through the checkpoint with no hassle. Perhaps the Seps were running low on the usual delivery drivers, and had thus needed to find some fresh blood to drive the speeders?

    The lead speeder headed into the next set of defenses dug in around the compound. Several anti-aircraft turrets stood at the ready, their barrels aimed at the sky. Several squads of battle droids milled around, hoping that they would be ready in case the Republic decided to attack the compound. An AAT patrolled the perimeter, its gunner ready to squeeze the trigger at any enemy units at a moments’ notice. The Seps were certainly prepared for an enemy invasion, but it was probably all for naught, the lead driver reasoned. The Grand Army of the Republic was a big joke as far as he was concerned; they lost so many damn clones in battles because their leadership was so pathetic, and also so paranoid to the point that they believed that trying new military strategies would hurt them instead of turn the tide of battle in their favor. Given all of these dug-in defenses, there was no way that those klutzes could ever get this far into the compound. They would be cut down systematically by the outer defenses so that by the time the few survivors made it to the main compound, thousands of battle droids would be ready to finish them off. Surely they would not have the guts to bring in secret agents, because they would probably blow that kind of mission as well. Clones were nowhere near as good as droids, and hopefully the Republic would eventually learn that it would be easier to cave into the Separatists’ demands than to keep fighting and losing major battles.

    The lead driver pulled into the next checkpoint station. Same old, same old. Show the papers to the security droid, get waved through, and go on to the next one. They just didn’t pay him enough to have to go through all this hassle. If he was the one designing the base, he would have scrapped the idea of all these security checkpoints, and would instead just let the supply speeders be waved through to the loading dock without having to stop. Stupid Separatists and their fears of being infiltrated by enemy agents. What was so important about this compound, anyways? It was in such an isolated location, and all he was bringing in was motor oil and related mechanical parts; what exactly were they building in there? He dropped that ridiculous notion; he was getting paid to drop off these goods, not to ask questions about his employer’s motives. And he was going to do his job, because this gig, although it wasn’t the best in the galaxy, still paid decently well. He didn’t really care about the Separatist cause, but he certainly cared about the leaders and their unusually-large pocket books. Pay a simple delivery driver a much larger salary than he would earn if he worked on a Republic-controlled world? The driver had enough common sense to not turn that offer down; might as well make some good money being involved in the war effort. Plus, being a driver meant that he wasn’t in harms’ way very often, so this was a well-paying and overall safe job. No other delivery job could offer such benefits.

    Passing through the third and final checkpoint was easy, and the driver headed towards the loading dock on the far side of the compound. It seemed rather trivial to have it in such a location, but once again his employers had some real concerns about enemy infiltrators, so the driver brushed this off as another reason why he wasn’t in this for their revolution. He was just in this for the money, the only cause worth fighting for in his opinion. Many mercenaries throughout the years had somehow forgotten that money was the thing driving this galaxy; everything was floated by money in some shape or form. However, they seemed to think that maybe, just maybe, money wasn’t everything, like there was a higher calling or sense of duty. Well, the driver thought that such logic was ridiculous; it all boiled down to one thing. If you were broke, you were broke. No way to fix that except to make some money. So, every situation, no matter its scale, always revolved around currency to some extent. There was no escaping money.

    The speeder caravan slid to a halt by the loading dock doors. As another measure of security, the dock bays were closed until a vehicle had pulled up and was ready to drop its cargo. Two battle droid security guards stood watch as the driver of the lead speeder stepped out of the cockpit and looked for the dock supervisor. A Nemoidian with a datapad stepped forward.

    “You brought the shipment?” he asked. Nemodians were extremely bright, but they seemed slow in their speech, the driver thought. However, no need to insult a minion of his employers; he wanted to stay in their good graces, even if it tugged against his moral code. Sometimes it just didn’t pay to be brutally honest.

    “Yes I did,” the driver said. “All of it, as promised.”

    “You may begin offloading,” the supervisor said. “Get in an out as soon as possible.” When this was met by a skeptical look, the Nemoidian searched for an answer. “For security reasons, of course.” He waved a hand, and one of the security droids pressed a button. In seconds, the loading dock doors opened.

    “What, you being chased by demons or something?” the driver said skeptically. “Is the big bad dust monster coming to eat you? Or are you expecting some company over for dinner tonight, and just want me and my men to get out of the way so we don’t spread our filth?”

    “Just offload your items,” the supervisor replied harshly. The driver rolled his eyes and walked back to his speeder. He gave a signal to the drivers of the other three vehicles to get out and start offloading the items. Two drivers hopped out of their cockpits and headed towards the back of their speeders. Blocked by the third speeder was the last one in the caravan. Curious that the driver hadn’t gotten out yet, the lead driver thought. He had given the signal to get out and start offloading. Perhaps the final driver hadn’t seen the signal? It was certainly possible, so he might as well check it out. Passing the second speeder, the lead driver could see that no one was in the cockpit of the last speeder. The driver was probably in the back off offloading things, he reasoned. After all, the others were doing the same thing. Satisfied, he turned around and headed back to his speeder.

    Napp stared around the back of the speeder he and the Corporal had taken control of. He could see a man wearing a trucker cap looking directly at the speeder, and then turning away. This was going to be more difficult than he thought, because not only were the speeders in close proximity to each other, but there was security present in the form of two droids and a dock supervisor. The two droids would be easy to dispense of, but the supervisor would be much more of a pain to get rid of. He could easily raise the alarm from that datapad of his; knowing the Seps, they would have programmed it with a button that would alert security to an enemy presence. If that happened, the Renegades were in deep trouble. Six of them and ten clones against an unknown number of battle droids and other weaponry would be a total rout; unless they tread carefully, this could easily be a disaster.

    “Got a couple of droids guarding the entrance,” he said in a low voice to Bo, who was looking over his shoulder. “How do you reckon we go from here?”

    “We can’t afford to be seen,” the Codru-Jii replied. “Those loading bay doors are our easiest way in.”

    “But that supervisor will be watching. We can’t just get in . . .” Napp mused. And then it came to him. If they could lure the Nemoidian and the droids away from the doors, they would have enough time to sneak in. It was risky, but there was no other option. Sooner or later they would be found out, and then they were deep in the heart of enemy territory. They would have to act fast or otherwise be caught. “We have to get those droids away from the doors. Then we can sneak in unnoticed.”

    “And you propose to do that how?” the Corporal asked. She had freed herself from the confines of the cockpit and had joined the two men behind the vehicle. “We aren’t exactly in a position to get them away from there without exposing our location.”

    “You don’t have much faith in us, do you?” Napp asked. It was true; the Corporal always seemed pessimistic. Those Army types certainly didn’t get taught in the art of making things up as you went, were they?

    “I do, but this idea might change my mind,” Talnar replied. “You can get pretty crazy at times.”

    “So I’m not completely insane?” Napp said, giving Talnar a grin. “Hate to tell you this, but if you’re looking for someone who plays by the conventional rules of war, I’m not that kind of guy. When I see an opportunity, I’ll take it. Might be risky, but we’re risking being caught here if we don’t act. So I say that we take a chance, roll the dice, and deal with the consequences when they come.”

    The sound of a muffled scream shattered Napp’s line of thought. It sounded close, perhaps too close. Peering around the end of the speeder once again, Napp could see a person lying on the ground unconscious. A clone trooper was standing over his body. “I think the clones have gotten out unnoticed,” he commented. Surely they could have knocked the enemy out without allowing him to yell out loudly? “Now’s our chance. We just can’t be seen by the two leads.” He slipped out from behind the speeder and took up a position behind the third speeder. Two of the clones, Arin and Badge, looked back at him. “Good work,” the Feeorin said.

    “It was nothing, really,” Arin said proudly. “He tried to get into the back, but we were waiting for him. Poor fellow had no chance against us.”

    “Enough,” Badge said. “I did him in. What’s the plan?”

    “No you didn’t,” Arin shot back.

    “All of you should stay out of sight,” Napp said, ignoring Arin’s comment. “If one of those enemies sees you, our cover is blown, and all hell will probably break loose. We can’t risk that. I’m going to sidle up to those droids and ask them for some help to unpack the cargo in the last speeder. With any luck, they’ll leave their posts. That gives all of you an opening to get in that loading dock.”

    “Risky indeed,” Badge said. “It won’t be easy.”

    “The only thing I don’t know about is that supervisor,” Napp continued. “Nemoidians are a slimy race that always seem to get their nose into your business one way or another. He could easily sound the alarm if he sees us.”

    “Then why don’t we eliminate him as well?” Arin asked.

    “You’re forgetting the drivers of these speeders,” Napp said bluntly. “They probably would have a pretty good eye for noticing if something is out of the ordinary.”

    “Then get rid of all of them,” Badge said. “Go ahead. You could kill them with your bare hands.”

    “Still too risky,” Napp said.

    “Here I thought you loved to take risks,” Talnar said from the side of the last speeder in the line.

    “Not helping, Corporal,” Napp said. He ran through a rudimentary plan in his mind; everything hinged on getting those two battle droids out of the area first, and then slipping in while the supervisor was busy. Perhaps they could run a diversion? Suddenly, he snapped his head towards the clones. “I’m going over there and starting the process. When we get rid of those droids, get ready to move out. We’re going in there as fast as possible. Got it?” He walked out from the side of the speeder and waved his arms. The supervisor, preoccupied with the lead driver, wasn’t looking in his direction. However, one of the battle droids saw the Feeorin wave his arms, and pointed out to its comrade. They slowly made their way over to the area where Napp was standing. “You mind giving us a hand with these things?” he said to the lead droid.

    “Roger roger,” said the droid. It came over to inspect the vehicle, but before it could look beyond the side of the speeder, its head came off with a crunch after Arin shattered the fragile neck joint with his bare hand. The other droid lifted its rifle to fire, but Napp grabbed its neck joint and gave a quick squeeze. As expected, it imploded in less than a second, and the droid fell to the ground in a heap.

    “That was easy,” Napp said. “Get moving, all of you. This is our chance. And don’t stop for anything; we have to get inside that compound.” He grabbed his blaster rifle and strode towards the bay doors. The two clones followed closely behind, and the rest of the unit fell in behind them. With any luck, the long convoy of personnel wouldn’t be noticed by the Nemoidian or the other drivers. The distance towards the loading dock was getting shorter with every breath; they were going to make it.

    The lead driver walked around to the back of his speeder, followed by the Nemoidian. “See, all of the items your superiors ordered are here as promised. And you thought I was going to short change your little revolution.”

    “Of course not,” the supervisor said plainly.

    “If you’ll be kind enough to step aside, I can start offloading these items immediately.”

    “I must inspect the first few crates,” the Nemoidian said. “We must know that you are bringing the proper items, and that you are not hiding anything.”

    “For the last time, I’m not hiding any Republic soldiers!” shouted the driver. “There is no incentive for me to do so! They just don’t pay well.”

    “So you say,” the supervisor shot back. Taking out a knife, he broke open the top of a nearby crate and peered inside. Satisfied with what he had seen, he cracked open three more crates, inspecting the contents to make sure that they were the prescribed order. All four boxed checked out, so he was content. “You have passed the inspection. You may begin offloading at any time.”

    “Never thought I was going to have to go through customs out here . . .” grumbled the driver. The supervisor shot him a look to tell him that his comment had been overheard. “Fine, then. I’ll just get these items out and then be on my way.” He bent over to pick up one of the crates that had been pried open, grabbed the case by its handles, and then lifted it out of the speeder bed. Turning around, he lowered the box to rest on the ground. As he stood up straight again, he swore he could see a slight flash of white from the area of the loading dock. He blinked; the white flash was gone. It had probably been nothing, so he went back to work. After all, what could possibly go wrong? The Seps had this place locked down so well that no one could get in without them knowing. Scolding himself for his foolish thought, he concentrated once again on his work, lifting another box out of the storage area and placing it on the ground. This was going to take a while.
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  20. Jedi Gunny

    Jedi Gunny Chosen One star 9

    May 20, 2008
    After a long hiatus, which included me misplacing this story for the longest time and then forgetting where I had put it, the Renegades are back! For a second time. :p

    TAGS to epithree tjace Trieste jcgoble3

    Chapter 13: Entering the Base

    Napp looked around the corner; there was a single droid in the next hallway, its back turned to the wall behind which the Feeorin stood. The squad of Republic soldiers had all made it into the compound in one piece, and, as far as they knew, had not been spotted in doing so. So far so good, Napp thought. The loading dock door had led them into a rather large bay that was filled with all kinds of crates. Stacks twenty meters high lifted into the air like huge monoliths of manufactured goods, casting shadows on the floor of the bay. There was no telling what was contained in those crates, but given the large quantity of them cluttered throughout the loading dock, something major was going on. This certainly was a major base of operations, wasn’t it?

    “Looks like there’s a guard,” Talnar said, peeking around the corner by looking under Napp’s giant shoulder.

    “You afraid of a single droid?” Napp replied.

    “Never,” Talnar shot back. “Just watch.” She slunk out from behind the corner and walked towards the droid. Napp rolled his eyes; she certainly was a handful to deal with. The Khil walked forward, her boots clattering on the floor as she went. The security droid, for some unexplained reason, still hadn’t looked in her direction. Grabbing her blaster, the Corporal walked up and tapped the shoulder joint of the droid. It turned around to look at the person who had touched it, and its sensors were immediately met with a fist. Talnar’s fist smashed into the head unit of the droid, breaking it into several pieces. The body, missing the head, crumpled onto the floor. “That was easy.”

    “Lucky,” Octro commented.

    “How come every time I do something, you all seem to be interested in downplaying my accomplishments?” Talnar replied angrily. “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve done the most on this mission so far.”

    “Good job, you’ve already got your ego in place,” Octro said. “That will get us killed, I swear it will.”

    “Shut it, Bazak,” Talnar replied. “So, are we moving forwards, or am I going to have to take it that the rest of you are afraid to go further?”

    “I’m not afraid,” Octro commented, puffing his chest out a little as he said this.

    “I don’t know,” Napp said. “You’re looking a little red in the face, Bazak. Are you sure that you’re alright? Do you feel normal, or are you starting to be a little delusional.”

    Octro shot Napp a dirty look. “Just you watch me. Then you’ll take those words back.”

    Napp tapped the Rodian on the shoulder as he passed. “You keep telling yourself that. Now, if we have no more ego trips, I think it’s safe to move on. Isn’t it, Corporal?” The Khil was still seething, and said nothing. “I’ll take that as a yes,” Napp continued. He walked down the hallway, not concerned about anything but what he had just said to the others. Boy he was a good leader; he could throw small veiled insults at them and get away with it. Having power was great.

    “If you weren’t so damn big, I’d throttle you,” Octro shouted at him. “I wrestled a gundark once.”

    “In your dreams,” Talnar shot back. “And I bet you lost.”

    “You . . .you . . .”

    “You hit a nerve there, to get him all riled up like that,” Napp commented. “Come on, we need to keep moving.” He drew his blaster and proceeded down the hall. The rest of the Renegades and the clones followed closely behind, some with their weapons drawn. Others, like Octro, were too busy brooding to really notice what was going on.

    The control room was rather sparse of occupants that day. Only a few droids stared at the monitors; there was no real point in them being there. After all, what was the point of watching for intruders when your base was impenetrable? The Republic wouldn’t have the guts to order an undercover mission; it was all too typical for them to rush headlong into a battle without really thinking about the advantages game. In war, everything hinged on advantages and disadvantages; either you were in a good position or you weren’t. For most of the war, the Republic armies had been the ones trying to stay on the offensive, even if it meant destroying large chunks of their army in the process. Their battle strategy was simple, and if one thought hard enough, they could easily build a base with safeguards against frontal assaults. Just place a few field-guns out there, and you could blow them to pieces in minutes. Or, at least that’s what the prevailing thought of the CIS was at this time.

    A security droid stared at a monitor. On it was a large hallway near the loading dock; no one had clearance to be passing through that area, so of course it was empty. If the droid had any sense of conscience, it would probably be bored, but since its hive-mind was very simple in its wiring and programming, the droid felt nothing contrary to its line of work. It could stare at a screen for hours on end without a break, and didn’t need to be fed. Occasionally it was needed for guard duty, but most of the original safety drills were done with, and it was mostly dead-time in the compound.

    “Any updates?” asked a droid commander.

    “Nothing,” said the droid staring at the screen. “Area is clear.”

    “Roger roger,” said the commander before moving away. Right as it did this, there was a flash of motion on the screen. Not being able to process that quick motion, the droid at the monitor stared blankly at the screen. This changed when several figures stepped into sight. One of them was wearing peculiar-looking armor; perhaps this was a mercenary? But there weren’t supposed to be any mercenary forces in that quadrant at this time. What were these people doing there? Finally a clone trooper appeared on the monitor. Even though it was a rather simple construction, the droid understood this completely; the Republic, against its common plan, had actually staged a somewhat brilliant break-and-enter operation. It only would have been more effective had they stayed out of sight, though.

    “Commander, intruders!” shouted the droid. “Shall I pull the warning signal?”

    “Not yet, soldier,” said the commander. “We’re on orders to let any enemies through that part of the compound. We will see them soon enough.”

    “Affirmative,” said the monitor droid.


    “This is too easy,” Talnar said. “I can’t believe that the Seps would be this dumb, putting only one droid in between the docking bay and here. I can’t help but feel like we’re walking into a trap, which I would prefer us not to do if we want to live through this mission.”

    “Have you always been this paranoid?” Octro asked.

    “She’s right,” Napp said. “I don’t like this at all. Something doesn’t feel right, almost like we’re being watched.”

    “Point proven,” Octro said, still using that sarcastic tone of his. Listening to it reminded Napp of nails on a transparisteel hull; just as annoying without being as loud. “You’re both insane.”

    “Shut it,” Napp said, holding up a hand to silence the Rodian. “Do any of you hear that?”

    The others strained to hear, except for Octro, who was still rather smug over the change of subject. What better way to spook out the squad leader than by challenging their authority with a plea of insanity? But then he heard that same sound, and his mind started to wander towards where that audible roar was coming from. Over the very light humming sound of what was probably the light system, there was a faint, yet noticeable, compressing sound. It would return every other second, making the same mechanical noise.

    “Could it be droids?” Jai asked. “Do they know we’re here?”

    “I don’t know,” Napp said. “But I have a feeling we’ll find out soon. Tread lightly, and stay close behind me. This could get ugly if we’re discovered in these hallways. There’s no cover out here, so we’ll be sitting ducks if we don’t play our cards right.”

    “Always the optimist,” Octro commented.

    “How did you ever survive as a bounty hunter, anyway?” Talnar asked the Rodian. “You always seem to underestimate us. I can tell why you got out of that job; you didn’t have what it takes for that kind of job.”

    “Mock me all you want,” Octro shot back. “At least my can actually think, unlike you, who has to deal with those green . . . tentacle things . . . whatever you call them . . . hanging in your face all the time.”

    “I’m going to rip your head off!” Talnar shouted. “No one insults my face!”

    “I think this is the reason why no one ever takes us seriously,” Napp whispered to Bo, who was standing next to him. The Codru-Jii nodded in agreement.

    “What a headache,” Jai said to herself, shaking her head.

    “Does this always happen?” Badge asked Napp. The Feeorin wished it wasn’t, but he replied in the affirmative.

    “This is how we operate, apparently,” he said to the clone. “You get used to it after a while, though.”

    “Doesn’t look like you’re in a good mood,” Badge responded. “Maybe it’s not that usual after all?”

    “Just drop it,” Napp said. “We have places to go, things to do, droids to destroy. And, as usual, we spend more time infighting than we do actually doing something productive. Sometimes I wonder why I ever left the mercenary trade. At least then I stated my own hours, and if something didn’t work out, I’d look for a new gig.”

    “Lucky you,” Badge replied. “We’re in this for the duration of the war. There’s no getting out, even if we wanted to.”

    “The rate this is going,” Napp said, “I’m going to be fighting out the rest of this damn conflict for the Army. I’m not even an official part of the Third, but it seems like this’ll go on long enough that I ought to retire when it’s over.”

    “You’ll be long dead by then,” Badge said in an off-hand manner. When Napp shot him a dirty look, he stumbled to try and steer himself out of the trouble spot. “Er, what I meant was that sooner or later we’re going to be caught somewhere with no hope of escape, and then it’ll be over. The more times we put our necks on the line, the higher the chance we’ll finally be put out of our misery.”

    “I thought you clones didn’t have any feelings of fear,” Napp said. “Are you seriously contemplating your own death?”

    “War has a funny way of changing our minds,” Badge replied. “This is a far-cry from my upbringing, when everything was so damn simple. Makes me wish that I was back there instead of picking up the pieces after every battle we fight in. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here. Losing your friends, wishing you had died instead of them, feeling like bantha poodoo when they’re gone and you have to deal with it.”

    “Never had that cross my mind,” Napp said evasively. “I’m a one-man machine. Always have been, and always will be.”

    “I’m sure it’ll come around to bite you eventually,” Badge said. “It does that to everyone.”

    “Not me,” Napp said sharply. “If there’s something I understand the most, it’s not getting attached to anyone. That way, I have no obligations.”

    “Careful what you say,” Badge said, looking at Bo and Jai, who were focusing intently on the heated argument between the Corporal and Octro. “That kind of attitude will get you killed. Trust me.”

    “Enough with the lecture,” Napp said. “We have a job to get done, and the sooner we’re out of here the better. I don’t like this place.”

    “You’re such a bull-headed fool!” Talnar yelled at the Rodian. “You always look to insult your friends, so it’s no wonder that you’re such a bust!”

    “At least I don’t go holding my pride around on my shoulder!” replied Octro in a slightly louder tone. “Inside, you’re nothing but an empty shell of a being!”

    “This is going to get ugly,” Bo said, rubbing his head with a hand.

    “If they don’t know we’re here yet, they probably do now,” Jai said. “Hard to miss us with all this yelling back and forth.”

    “If you don’t mind, we could just ditch them here and move forward,” Napp said to the two. “Or, if you prefer to stay here and comment on their annoying diatribes, I’ll go ahead and take down this whole damn base by myself.”

    “You would,” Jai said.

    “You bet I would,” Napp said. “So, you with me or not?” The human and Codru-Jii nodded. They both began to follow the Feeorin as he made his way down the hallway, leaving the clones and the two bickering Renegades behind them in the hallway. As soon as they got out of earshot of the argument, it all of a sudden became very quiet. Almost too quiet for any of their liking. At the end of the hallway was an open door, but none of them could see what was beyond it.

    “That sound is getting louder,” Napp pointed out. “We must be getting close. There’s a door.”

    “Should we set our weapons to stun?” Bo asked. “Or should I keep it at ‘kill’?”

    “Not dying sounds like a good idea,” Jai said.

    “Keep a good look out,” Napp said. “I’ll go in first, so cover my back. Whatever is making that noise, we’re going to find out what it is real soon. I’m afraid we’re walking into a tight situation here, so keep a sharp eye and ear for anything that seems out of the norm.”

    “Understood,” Bo said. He drew his blaster, setting the gun to its “kill” setting. Whatever was back there, he wanted to make sure it would be dead before it could get to him. Jai would have done the same, but all she had was her sniper rifle. In close-quarters combat that wouldn’t do her much good, so she decided to stay close to the other two and rely on them for help. This was the worst possible situations for snipers; covert missions where there was no such thing as a high ground had been the death of many good sharpshooters. She had to hope this wasn’t her swan song. Napp took a deep breath and started through the doorway, his blaster at the ready. It was go time.