Title: The Face Behind the Helmet (Dear Diary Competition Entry 2016) Authors: Gaarastar & CheckSix Characters: Fives and Kix Timeframe: Final years of the Clone Wars Summary: ARC trooper Fives and clone medic Kix join the siege of Infernon, an industrial factory world. Each keeps a log of the horrors they encounter both on and off the battlefield. Little do they know they are each about to be tested to the breaking point. The log also includes some sketches that Fives does while on campaign. This DDC entry is a collaboration (apparently the first ever!) between myself and CheckSix. Fives' log entries are in black and Kix's are blue. For anybody not familiar with the Clone Wars series: Fives (ARC-5555) and Kix (CT-6116) were members of the elite 501st Legion (later known as Vader's Fist). The clones were tragic figures, fiercely loyal to a Republic that doesn't seem to care how many of them are slaughtered on the altar of "freedom". It's okay if you haven't watched the Clone Wars series, as this journal is a more personal look at Fives' experience of the war and his feelings about it. I have previously written a story centred around Fives where he goes up against Admiral Tarkin to save a young clone cadet from termination. It's not essential to read it, but it was written to explore Fives' way of thinking and there will be some references to those events in his journal. Weak Link: A Clone Wars Short Story Fives [Extract from journal of ARC-5555] From: GAR High Command. To: Gen. Sandar Pike, Jedi Master (Commanding 78thSector Army): Halt droid and munitions production on Infernon. No Retreat. No Surrender. Infernon Campaign Battlelog [Official]: All Terrain Tactical Enforcer Unit, 102nd Legion, 3rd Armoured Bn, F-Company. CT-56-7932 (Major, 501st, 9th Bn): [Deceased] CT-56-8546 (Captain, 501st, 9th Bn): [Deceased] CT-57-2369 (Captain, 102nd, 3rd Bn): [Deceased] ARC-5555 (Lieutenant, 501st): [Officer Commanding F-COY] Day 97 Anchor was killed yesterday. I mean CT-57-2369. Blaster bolt took him in the abdomen. Nothing we could have done. By the time the medics got to him his plastoid armour was fused to his flesh and his guts were burning. It wasn’t quick. He screamed for an hour. Why couldn’t it have been quick? So I guess I’m in charge now. We gained some ground again today. About eleven inches I think. Makes up for the eleven inches the droids pushed us back a week ago. Nothing’s changed. Nothing ever changes on this rock. We’re still living in our tanks. Crammed in like, well I don’t know, like a bunch of clones stuffed inside of a tank. I guess I’m not great with imagery. They didn’t teach that stuff on Kamino. It was all weapons drill and tactical manoeuvres. My first toy was a training remote which used to chase us around our barracks shooting stun-lasers at us. We haven’t been outside for weeks. Droid snipers pick us off if we stick our heads out. Sgt Weps made up a game to pass the time by poking a spare helmet outside on the end of a rifle and taking bets to see how many times the droids could hit it in thirty seconds. Trusty guessed nine and won the prize: an extra portion of rations. That’s all we’ve got to gamble with. That and ammo but we’d never bet that. It’s more valuable than creds or glitterstim. We don’t know when we’ll get resupplied. Let me tell you about my home. An AT-TE is a fortress on six mechanical legs. Twenty-two metres of durasteel armour, big enough to transport a platoon of troopers. Six laser turrets and a mass-driver cannon mounted on top. Two crew compartments front and rear. An empty crate in the corner for a toilet which gets emptied three times a day out the ventral hatch. The walls are smeared with blood. We’ve given up trying to wash it off. A direct hit from a hailfire droid missile really messed things up in here. We covered the hole with a durasteel patch we cut off the wreckage of another tank. Nine troopers were killed. Well, not killed. Ripped apart. Every now and again we still find a bit of them, fingers and such, stuffed down the backs of seats. The smell is beyond description. Like fifty years of putrefied sweat. We never get a chance to wash, in fact most of us live in our armour. One trooper who goes by the name Bucket never even removes his helmet. He just sits there in the semi-darkness, waiting for the next battle with a rifle cradled in his arms. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to keep this log. Nobody’s gonna read this. I mean, who wants to know about a bunch of clones stuck inside a stinking tank, crawling across the face of a backwater industrial moon? I suppose if someone’s reading this entry it means I made it through another day. If the log stops suddenly and there’s a lot of empty pages left I guess I didn’t make it. I was talking to a sergeant over at the quartermaster’s depot the other day. He told me the main export in this sector of Infernon is toys and he showed me a miniature clone trooper doll with a big bobble head he’d picked up from a bombed-out factory. What a fantastic thing to die for. Kix [Extract from journal of CT-6116] Infernon Campaign Battlelog [Personal]: CT-6116 (Sgt, 501st). Day 97 Lost another officer yesterday. I was called in on CT-57-2369. Captain. I’m sure he had a name, but I never knew what it was. Barely knew him at all. We’re losing so many men now that there’s hardly any point in learning the new ones’ names. Maybe it’s better that way. I used to like using names instead of numbers. But now, it’s easier to leave a number behind for the mortuary affairs team. Seems like that’s all I’m doing lately. Huh, if the mort team even shows up. They’re stretched so thin, half the time we just have to leave the dead behind. Last night, went out under cover of darkness with Tiner and Mink to look for the dead and the injured. That ended real quick when the droids starting flinging hailfires our way again. I jumped in the nearest AT-TE and I’ve been covering in here ever since. Feels like a tomb. Fives is in here, too. Hadn’t seen him in a long time – until CT-57-2369 . . . damn, I wish I could forget that. Anyway, he looks tired. They all look tired. Except there’s one guy . . . he didn’t take off his helmet all night. Gives me the creeps a little. Wonder if he’s losing it. I shouldn’t talk. I can’t even keep my own thoughts straight. I feel like I haven’t slept in days. Don’t even know what day it is. Great. Last thing my brothers need is a useless medic. I need some sleep. If I’m still here in a few days – and Helmet-guy is still here – maybe I’ll see if there’s anything I can do for him.