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Saga Watching Death: The Secret Journal of Praetor Ordo [DDC 2016] - Updated 4/7

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Volund Starfire, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Title: DEATH WATCH: THE JOURNAL OF PRAETOR ORDO

    Author: Volund Starfire

    Timeframe: Between 21 BBY (after the Battle of Geonosis) and 20 BBY (Month 31 after the Battle of Geonosis)

    Genre: 2016 Diary Challenge, Mandalorian, Death Watch, Journal

    Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Dave Filoni for his awesome rendition of the Death Watch and Mandalorian society (even if it was a little HATED BY EVERYONE WHO WEARS A T-VISOR in the beginning). And, to Uncle George who gave us a great galaxy to play around in!

    Author’s Note: This is my take on the events in and around the Death Watch story arcs as they are depicted in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
     
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  2. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 056: Kidnapping

    It all started about lunch time. Dal’buir was inside the house fixing the meal and I was helping jag’buir with one of the droids. The old mining unit had a bad motivator and popped its periscope hatch on the way out of the mine with a load of ore. If mother could have heard what father was saying, she wouldn’t even give him haashuun for lunch. She always told me that I should watch what I say and often chided him on his language while teaching me. I thought it was funny since I have used far worse language (both Basic, Huttese, and Mando’a) with my friends in town when I saw them.

    I was in the repair shed looking for a new motivator that Jag’buir said was on the shelf. I found it in one of the tool boxes, but before I could unbury myself from the mess I had made, I heard the speeders coming. Besides the low whine of a landspeeder, I heard the higher pitch of a pair of speeder bikes. Then, over those, I detected the low rumble of a sen’tra. I’d only ever heard jetpacks in town, but the sound was unmistakable. I launched myself over the pile to peek out the door.

    There were seven men talking to father. They were all dressed the same. Blue kute with a dark blue blast vest, their beskar’gam was dark gray along with their their kom’rk and lovik’gam. Their buy'ce was also dark gray with light blue around the black visor. All of them wore jetpacks, even the ones on the speeder bikes. They were also armed with a pair of pistols on each thigh and three carried carbines.

    “Why are you here,” father said. There was a hint of fear in his voice, but he didn’t show it in his posture. “I gave tribute last season and the next tribute isn’t for another three weeks.”

    “We aren’t here for tribute, old man,” one of them said. “We’re here for recruiting.” The rest laughed at that comment, but then went dead silent. One looked up at the house and his finger dropped onto the trigger of his carbine.

    “I already told your boss, I fought for his father for twelve years and was rewarded with exile to this rock.” Jag’buir lifted himself up to his full height, his cybernetic leg creaking a little with the strain. “I’m done with fighting. All it ever gave me was dents to my armor and this leg.”

    “I never said it was you that we were here to recruit, old man.” The leader pulled a pistol and shot, a smoking crater was all that remained of my father’s chest. He fell to his knees and looked toward me for only a moment before he slumped forward.

    Three of the strangers ran up to the house where I heard mother screaming. There was more blaster fire and then silence. After a few moments, I smelled smoke and heard things being thrown inside the house. The three walked back to the group, one shaking his head.

    Another started walking toward the shed. I wouldn’t be able to hide if he opened the door. Father taught me the kind of sensors those helmets held. I was surprised they hadn’t found as it was.

    “Maybe he’s in the mine,” one of the others said. The leader nodded and the group of three ran for the cave entrance. The one walking toward me stopped and turned back to his commander.

    I knew it was my time to strike. Only with surprise could I hope to overcome the sensor package in his buy’ce. I burst out of the door and threw myself down at the backs of his knees. They buckled the moment I hit and I reached up and dislodged his pistol from its holster. I shot once under the back of his helmet and hit his gauntlet with the grip.

    It must have been dumb luck because the rocket shot off his pack and blew up the droid that was standing near the commander. At the same time, the dead warrior’s jetpack thrusters activated. I rolled off of him, catching his arm and redirecting him in a spin at the mouth of the mine.

    I leaped for one of the speeder bikes and pushed what I thought was the throttle. There was no explosion from the cave, just a sickening thump as he hit the wall. By the time it registered, though, I was halfway to the tree line. If I could make it there, I could get to the primary speeder lane for town.

    I saw a blue glow a moment before every nerve on my body was overcome with pain. I jerked straight and vaguely felt myself falling before I blacked out. I came to a moment later and was lying on my back on the ground. Five of the armored men stood over me, one with a tourniquet on his left arm.

    “You missed,” one said to another.

    “He’s on the ground, isn’t he?”

    “Yeah,” the commander said, pulling his pistol with his one good arm. “Let’s make sure there is no more trouble for the ride back to camp.”

    I was looking down the barrel of the blaster when things seemed to slow down. I saw his finger tighten on the trigger, and then a blue ring came out of the barrel. The ring hit my face and everything went white. A moment later, it went black.

    I woke up in the cramped hold of a land speeder with six other kids. I don’t know where I’m going or if they’ll take my journal, but in case they do… Whoever you are that finds this, please help.

    I live on Concordia, outside Refugee Mining Center Tad’eta. My mother and father were killed. My name is Praetor, House Sonalex, of Clan Ordo, I am twelve years old, this is my journal, and I’ve been kidnapped by Death Watch.
     
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  3. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Intense right out of the gate, a great start to DDC 2016. Love a bit of Mandalorian culture and will be great to get some Death Watch backstory. Looking forward to the next entry!
     
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  4. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Thank you. Just wait, though. I've got more surprises on the way.
     
  5. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 57: Initiation

    I don’t know how long we traveled. There were no windows and the only illumination in the cramped compartment came from the dim red locked light of the only door. I knew we were moving, though from the occasional change in the center of gravity turns.

    Inside the transport were six other kids like me. One, I’d guess he was about nine or ten, was just sitting in the corner crying. Talking to a couple of others, I found out that their stories were almost identical to my own. However, I was the only one to take out any of the seven that came ‘recruiting.’

    The constant whine ended as the speeder came to an abrupt stop. The red light turned green for only a moment before the hatch was opened and blinding light filled the compartment. A chilled breeze blew in, carrying the smells of pine, dirt, and sweet sap. As my vision adapted to the brightness, I could see the low scrub trees from the forests outside the mining zone.

    “Everyone out,” one of the faceless warriors barked, waving his carbine to get us to move faster. I crawled out and looked back to make sure the other six got out, too. The little one was pulled out by the back of his shirt and thrown face down on the grass to the laughter of two of the other men.

    We were on the outskirts of an old strip mine. There was grass on the rim and shrubs clinging to the sides of the walls. As we walked down the slopes to the bottom I saw that the edges were rounded and smooth, marking it as really old, probably from before the wars.

    In the bottom of the mine, there were about a hundred kids and a lot of those strange armored warriors. The kids looked about my age with a few older and a few younger. Though, I noticed that there were no girls, only boys. The warriors were the same way.

    When we got to the bottom of the pit with the other kids, one warrior used his rocket pack to jet to the second tier of the mine. His armor was beaten and dented, unlike the almost pristine look of the others. Also, he had a huge scar across his buy’ce. He lifted it off of his head and revealed a plate bolted over his eye in line with where the scar fell. His hair was white and he had a sneer that seemed to never fall off of his lips.

    “My name is Ruus’alor Devin Farr,” he said. His voice was loud and echoed around the walls, drawing even the whimpering to a silence. “I am your Rally Master.”

    He looked around at us and spat. “You will follow orders without question. If you question, you will be shot. If you disobey, you will be shot. If you fail, you will be shot. If we are displeased with your performance, you will be shot.”

    He looked around at the frightened faces. I wasn’t scared, though. He made eye contact with me and I narrowed my gaze. I wanted to kill him, to kill them all for my buire. I saw him smile at that before continuing his gaze around.

    “Are any of you injured?”

    There was a slight buzz of conversation before a boy not too far in front of me raised his hand. We cleared a small circle around him, but I found myself uncomfortably close to him for the look Devin Farr was giving him.

    “I… I think my wrist is broken,” he said. He held out his hand. There was a purpling bruise around his forearm and his hand was a little bluer than it should have been. He cradled it back against his chest.

    Devin nodded to a warrior who walked through the crowd toward the boy. When someone wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way, they were back handed or kicked. The warrior roughly grabbed the boys injured arm, causing a cry of pain as it was turned and inspected.

    The warrior let the boy’s hand go and started walking back to the edge. The kids cleared a wider path this time. Once back in his original position, he looked up at Devin and nodded.

    The older warrior smiled like a wild nexu, drew one of his pistols, and fired a single shot that hit the boy in the chest. The force of the blast flung him back into me. I didn’t move, only let his lifeless body fall to the ground.

    “You are now Ge’verd,” Devin Farr announced, donning his helmet. “For those of you who do not speak the glorious language of our forefathers, and you will soon enough, that means you are almost warriors.”

    He launched himself into the air and hovered over us. “Get them their uniforms, feed them, and show them where to sleep. Welcome to Death Watch!”
     
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  6. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Well that was... kind of disturbing end to the latest entry. I liked this chapter but the casual brutality was pretty shocking and I didn't know how it made me feel. I guess Death Watch would be pretty brutal but not sure how much economic sense it makes for them to simply kill off members of their workforce. Interested to see what happens next with the story though, looking forward to next installment.
     
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  7. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    The six episodes and four issue comic of the canon literature show Death Watch as not tolerating failure or respecting life in any form. I view that as being part of the brutality of the training of their conscripted force. There have never been more than 100 Death Watch in an episode at any one time, with the most in the last episode of the Arc. So, their numbers are few and continually refreshing. I’m also drawing from the Death Watch of Legends (and other parts of their culture, to a lesser extent).

    Ultimately, it’s brutal and it will get a little worse, but you must realize that this is little more than a highly trained and equipped terrorist organization in league with the Separatist Forces. I mean, they launched a one-man suicide attack to destroy a Republic Cruiser and had no problem blowing up a public peace shrine with a spotter on the ground who killed himself rather than be captured.
     
  8. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 62: Daily Grind

    The slow ones were the first to die, followed soon after by the weak ones.

    It’s almost sickening how I am no longer even fazed by the deaths of others. We began a few weeks ago with one hundred and fifty kids, and are now down to just seventy-five. Most of them were killed by Rally Master Devin Farr or his instructors; the rest either took their own lives or died in training.

    The training was brutal. We woke up and had too little time to deal with personal hygiene before being run out of the camp and onto the obstacle course. After the obstacle course, we ate a quarter portion of rations while being given classes. After the classes, we were back on the obstacle course until dinner and technical training. After the training, we were allowed to go back to our barracks for what little personal time we had. Most of us used the time to clean our clothing and gear, clean up in the fresher, and pass out until the next day.

    The camp was at the base of a strip-mining pit. It was on the other side of a mine from the pit we were initially brought into. It was a series of modular arch shelters set up for various purposes. The largest was the command bunker that the warriors and Rally Master slept in. There were a series of barracks for us that held twenty kids each. There were a couple of other bunkers set up for an armory, kitchen, and some that none of us had any idea what they contained.

    There were two starships on either side of the base; Kom'rk-class fighter/transports we learned in one of our classes. There were also a row of speeder bikes, a couple of land speeders, and an Armored Assault Tank that was purchased from the Trade Federation. Strewn about the grounds were supply crates and moisture vaporators. Some of the crates were full, others were empty for us to use while training.

    The training was brutal, and I cannot stress that enough. Most of it involved an obstacle course set up around the lowest tier of the mine. We had to climb the steep wall to the tier and then run around the course until it was time to stop. Three-quarters of the kilometer-long course was just flat ground to run across; anyone who slowed to a walk was shot. The remaining quarter was the obstacle course.

    It involved climbing, swinging, crawling, and jumping across various hazards. A couple of kids were injured and shot, a warning to the rest of us to be more careful according to the Rally Master. Those of us that survived were becoming stronger and quicker, though. As I said before, the slow were the first to be killed, followed by the weak.

    We all learned the benefits of our new uniform, as well. We were each wearing the same blue combat suit that the warriors had. In addition to the suit, we also had lovik’gam, or knee armor, attached to magneto-plates in the kute, which saved me more than a few times from injuring myself during falls. Each of us also wore positive-traction boots and grip-gloves. Those protected and aided us during the daily exercise, but also kept us warm during the down-time.

    The classes were a respite that we all looked forward to. Most of them dealt with teaching Mando’a to those who were not raised with the language of Mandalore. We also had classes related to the history of the True Mandalorians and the schism of the Supercommando heresy. I knew it was propaganda, but I paid attention during the classes to avoid execution. My buir taught me all about the Death Watch movement and the battles with Jaster Mereel’s supercommandos.

    The technical classes familiarized us with the integrated head’s up systems of the buy’ce. We also learned about the jetpacks, weapons, and vehicles that were primarily used by Death Watch. Every day we looked at a different item. We were shown basic maintenance and repair, but never how to actually use them. Oh, and we didn’t look at any explosives.

    At the end of training, we would be allowed to go back to our open-doored barracks. A couple of kids tried to escape during the darkness of skotah’ca and munit’ca, the short night where Mandalore eclipses the sun and long night of the moon’s rotation, but they were killed before they got more than a few steps outside.

    The barracks were sparsely furnished. We each had a cot with blanket and insulafoam mattress and pillow, a wall locker for the small amount of gear and hygiene items we were allowed, and an additional blanket for the colder nights. The barracks held twenty of us and we all shared a large refresher in the middle of the bunker.

    It was hellish, the entire thing. The first week, most of us cried ourselves to sleep. After that, we either stopped or walked outside the doors. I’m not going to die, though. I’m going to live long enough to see the entire lot of them taken down and killed, hopefully by my own hands.
     
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  9. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 67: Target Practice

    It felt good to be doing something other than running the obstacle course. Instead, after breakfast and classes, we went up to the second tier of the mine and began marksmanship training. It was not any less brutal, but at least was something different than the past month.

    The first morning of the training, after our classes, we were taken to the armory and given a set of thigh plates like the warriors wore. Holstered on each plate was a Westar-35 blaster pistol. Their sleek silver and gray bodies were heavy, but didn’t feel that bad when the thigh armor was magneto-sealed to my coverall.

    One of the kids pulled his pistol out and immediately shot himself in the head, which caused some of the warriors to laugh around us. Another pulled his out and shot one of the warriors in the chest, which caused even more laughing as the blaster bolt struck the armored plate uselessly. The warrior’s full-powered blaster killed the foolish kid on the spot, though.

    The weapons we were issued were little more than target blasters. The boy that shot himself came to a few minutes later with major burns from the blast, but little else. The blasters were identical to those carried by the warriors in all other respects, though. They were now our responsibility and we would be punished severely if we lost them.

    We spent a couple of weeks on how to aim and fire the pistols, since they didn’t have sights. Mostly, it was firing by feel and reflex, but we were also told it would be much easier when we received our helmets. Not that it stopped the instructors from beating those who were bad marksmen.

    We spent another week on dual-firing the pistols. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded, but was definitely more fun. I was one of the few that had a hit rate higher than 80%. For the last part of that training, we were all put in a group and told the last one standing would win. I wasn’t the last one standing, but I was in the top five. Not that the burn to my right shoulder didn’t hurt. One kid was hit in the head and lost an eye; he was still unconscious when the Rally Master killed him.

    We practiced on the Westar-35 Blaster Carbines, as well. They were also under-powered, but were enough to kill at close range. They had a greater range than the pistols and were more accurate. It was easier to sight along the length than the pistols. I think I was a little more accurate than others. I guessed this only because I wasn’t beaten as badly the few times I missed.

    At the end of the marksmanship training month, the Rally Master has us all form up into a group. He had me and two others separated from the rest of the mass, and had another three taken aside away from us.

    “You three are free,” he spat toward the other group. “Start running and make your way out of the pit.”

    The trio of stunned recruits looked at him for only a moment before he fired a shot at their feet, causing them to take off running for the ramps up toward the rim of the strip mine. Before they were even a dozen steps away, a warrior tossed a rifle to me.

    It was medium weight, but not Westar design like the other Death Watch weaponry. On the contrary, it was a sniper blaster rifle. It had a longer range and precision optics for taking enemies out at a further distance than most common blasters.

    “You three are the best shots here,” Rally Master Farr said. “They are the three worst shots. Prove your skill is justified by killing them. He added, “or die,” and an afterthought.

    The first kid took aim and fired almost immediately. It was too quick. The shot missed by two meters over all three of their heads. The kid was dead before he even looked away from the scope, a smoking hole where his spine used to be.

    The second kid was more careful with his shot and caught one of the three in the small of his back. The sniper rifles were full power because the boy slumped forward and hit the ground while his legs ran two more steps.

    I got down into a prone firing position, like my father showed me, and let the rifle rest on my forward hand before using it to pull it into my shoulder. My father showed me how to shoot the small game in the forest near the house, this wasn’t really any different. I just sat there, the target reticule centered on the back of the rear runner’s neck and waited.

    I heard a warrior draw his pistol behind me, but ignored it. Likewise, I ignored the low grumbles of voice in an internal comm from Farr to the warrior that caused the pistol to go back into its holster. I disregarded the green light in the scope telling me it was linked to Farr’s heads up display. I just waited until the boys were in the right position.

    The only way I would be able to defeat Death Watch is by being the best. The only way that could happen was to give in to the training, the blood thirst, and the brutality. I lightly brushed my finger over the trigger until the blaster bolt flew from the barrel.

    I had waited for just the right moment, when both boys were turning to climb the last ramp to the edge of the pit. The bolt tore through the neck of one, taking out enough to put him down before slamming into the head of the other. Buir always told me I had a special skill with lining up shots.

    “Clean hit,” Rally Master Farr said before jetting off the landing and back into the main camp.

    My revelry was short-lived, though. He hadn’t even landed before the sniper rifle was ripped out of my hands and I was kicked for lying down. We were run around the obstacle course a couple of times before Technical classes to learn how to perform basic maintenance on the weapons.
     
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  10. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 77: My First Revenge

    I can’t use my right hand very well, but it’s not too bad. Thankfully, I didn’t break it. I think it has more to do with the new armor on the backs of the gloves than anything else. It’s not much, but it definitely helped with the training we had this past month.

    Yes, we received a new piece of armor for our kits. Small tombstone shaped plates that mag-connect to the backs of our grip-gloves. They’re made out of the same light metal as the rest of the armor plates and painted the same dark gray as the thigh armor.

    Instead of more marksmanship, this month we ge’verd who survived were lead to the raised gravel pit. The Rally Master was already waiting for us with his usual cadre of warriors in their identical armors. This group looked slightly more muscular, though.

    “Today, you will learn unarmed combat,” he yelled out to the sixty-one of us who were gathered on the perimeter of the pit. “Those of you who cannot will be killed.”

    We were broken into groups of ten with one extra kid in my group. For the next week, we were taught how to throw proper punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and headbutts. At first, we did this against pads with the instructors demonstrating proper techniques on those who didn’t do it right. Every one of us was used as a practice dummy at least once. By the end of the week, I had the basics down fairly well. I remember training in some of it with my mom, but she didn’t beat me if I got something wrong.

    Then we moved to wooden targets that were generally humanoid in shape. We were taught combos and how to properly aim our shots, again with the instructors showing us the proper way if we didn’t get it right on our first try.

    The training progressed into having to break the boards. The first kid who tried broke his elbow and was killed on the spot by the Rally Master. The rest of us were much more careful. It still hurt, though. One kid dislocated his fingers, but we pulled them back into place after training was over. I ended up hurting my wrist, but it wasn’t broken, only sprained.

    We went on to match-ups against other kids. I lost a couple of fights, but won a few more. Some of the kids were getting brutal in their attacks, but I made sure to stay in control. We’ve all talked about how easy it is to give into the training and be as bloodthirsty as the warriors, but without the training we’d just get dead.

    After the match-ups, we were given instruction in how to use the butts of our pistols and the carbines as weapons, and how to include them into the combination of shots. But the end of the training was the most surprising.

    One morning, after our run, we came down to the pit to find the instructors all had long sticks with electro-pads up most of their length and wider grips. We immediately formed up on our respective instructors before the Rally Master landed in the center of the pit.

    “One thing that all members of Death Watch must do is to fight jetii. They are the worst enemy of our people. Each of the instructors are carrying dar’kad'au. One touch by the training lightsabers will render you unconscious.”

    A trainer activated one of the strange weapons and the plates on the blade glowed to life with blue crackling electricity. He reached out and lightly tapped it to a recruits arm, causing the kid to let out a scream and fall to the ground, convulsing and wetting himself.

    “Don’t get hit.” The Rally Master jetted off and we were left with our instruction.

    My father had often told me about the Jedi. They were wizards who fought with laser swords. He said they were invincible, but that only the Mandalorians knew how to really kill them. I was learning just that for the entire week.

    At the end of the month, we were set into one-on-one matches against instructors in front of the Rally Master. I was the eighth to fight. But, I was more interested in watching the instructors than my fellow conscripts. Mine always used his jetpack to jump and come down with a flying kick before striking with his stunstick. I thought I could use that to my advantage.

    My instructor’s first attack was a sweeping slash, but I didn’t back away from it. Instead, I stepped into it and threw a punch into the instructors elbow. I heard a grunt and the roar of his jetpack activating. At the last second, I dropped to the ground and hooked my foot around his ankle.

    It didn’t do much more than throw off his balance, but that was enough to make him go higher than he usually did in the fights. He came down with that same kick, his fake jetii’kad raised for a downward slash.

    I rolled forward and threw myself backwards. I missed the kick and the force of my weight pushed him off balance. I turned and pulled at the maglock of his jetpack, sending it flying into the sharp gravel. But, he also wasn’t able to recover as quickly with its weight replaced by mine.

    I was able to bantha kick hard into the back of one of his knees before wrapping my legs around his waist. I grabbed the edges of his vest and jerked his neck armor against his throat.

    He dropped his weapon and started scratching ineffectively against the metal as it pushed into the neck seal. The Rally Master tilted his head a little and then nodded once. I knew what I had just been given permission to do, and I was glad to do it.

    Letting go of his vest, I wrapped my right arm around his helmet and grabbed his left ear plate. My other hand did the same behind his helmet and found purchase on his right. Before he could get a proper grip on my elbows, it was too late.

    With a roar of strength and emotion, I pulled as hard as I could with both hands. A moment later, I felt the vibration of popping from somewhere inside the helmet and heard the wet snaps below it. The warrior went limp.

    I stood over the man’s body, his head looking back over his right shoulder. The Rally Master nodded as I walked back to the edge of the pit with the rest of the kids. Everyone was silent, recruits and instructors alike. I wasn’t beaten for killing the instructor. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t beaten again for the rest of the month.
     
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  11. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 85: Things that go Boom

    We were issued our belts and waist wraps today. The magneto plates of the belts are perfect for carrying some of the gear we typically use and it also provides a little more armor around our midsections. The side plates also have an attachment to hang our carbines from if we need our hands for other work. We got a great deal of it this month.

    All I have to say about the training is that explosives work is difficult. If you cross a wire the wrong way, enter a wrong code, or drop a detonator, you’ll just end. Sure, other people will see the explosion, feel the shockwave, and have to clean their armor and clothes, but you’ll just cease to be. Needless to say, we weren’t beaten as hard during this portion of our training.

    In the beginning, we used inert blocks of clay with the detonators. We learned how to take down support braces, how to rig anti-personnel explosives, and how to wire sabotage bombs. But later, we did the same thing using actual detonite blocks. I’m just glad that none of the other recruits were killed during this portion of training.

    Grenades were a little more involved, though. We began practicing with dud grenades, but the instructors made sure that one in five of them was live. If we didn’t make it past a certain distance, we were within the blast radius. We lost half a dozen ge’verde in the first week before we began throwing harder.

    We’ve been having more freedom to move about the camp, but we were still only allowed to go as high as the obstacle course, and it was death to go into the command building without permission. Unfortunately, that was also one of our regular assignments.

    Each of us had to do two hours a night on the radio in case there was a comm from another Death Watch base. I never received one, but that didn’t mean I was just left alone. I’d get hit by warriors walking by, I’d clean up purposefully made messes, and have to perform other degrading tasks. But, it’s also where I met her.

    Kal’ad was from the eastern mining zone, across the main city from where I came from. She was kidnapped like me, but her parents were alive and forced to work in the mines. She was too until about a week ago when she was moved here. She was restricted to the command tent, only able to go outside when the Rally Master let her. Otherwise, she watched the radio and cleaned when we recruits were training.

    We were told there were no girls allowed in training, but she said she wasn’t training. She was sent as a ‘training aid’ or something. Not even she knew what that meant. But, it didn’t matter. I liked spending time on my shift with her and found myself trading shifts with others to spend time with her. She didn’t seem to mind, either.

    The Rally Master noticed my shift trades and actually complimented me on my determination to be part of Death Watch. He didn’t know I was really doing it to see Kal’ad, but my beatings ended up being less severe after that.
     
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  12. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Okay. I read the first few entries a few days ago, and now that I caught up on the last one I'm going to finally leave a review too. This is intense, even brutal. Do you have any experience with child soldiers? I've interviewed a few in the course of my work, and your DDC is just a wee bit too close to the stories they told me to make for a pleasant read -- although I'm sure that 'pleasant' wasn't your intention in the first place, and it's a darn good read for sure.

    I'm very curious to see where this story will go. My guess is that, given the relatively short time frame you announce in the beginning, it's going to be the story of a child who grows to be an adult too fast and too soon, but I may be proven wrong and in any case what really matters is the journey, not the destination :)
     
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  13. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    First off, thank you for the complement. Secondly, I have never done any research into children soldiers. My field of study has been primarily philosophy. My ideas of the training are entirely my own based on my own military training but with a great deal more brutality… and from the eyes of a young adult.

    You should be careful what you wish for, my friend. You may just get your wish, regardless of the pain of the journey. :)
     
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  14. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 88: The Freedom of Flight

    The training is getting a little more fun for me. I used to like piloting the family speeder when buir went to town, but I never imagined anything like what happened this month. The physical activities feel like they’re getting easier, but we’re still doing the same exact things we had before. The only difference is that now they added pop-up targets to the obstacle course and actual battle droids for us to shoot and attack in hand-to-hand.

    We were given kom’rk, boot, shin, and cod armors to wear with our uniforms. The gauntlets were a lighter gray, like our knees, and the rest were a darker gray. We had a couple of classes on how to use them in both an offensive and defensive manner. I was able to get in a surprise shot on the instructor showing me. I nailed him right behind the cod. It was fun watching the puke squirt out from under his helmet. I didn’t even get beaten for doing it, either.

    The rest of the training was better. We were learning how to pilot the vehicles around the compound. I did okay on the landspeeder, but was only in the middle of the group of forty of us. I did much better on the speeder bike, though. One of the instructors told me that I was a natural, and would only get better when I got my helmet. One of the other guys, who did best on the landspeeder, actually got to pilot the AAT through a target course.

    However, my favorite training was the simulator for the big transports. The Kom'rk-class attack transport was the primary attack vessel of Death Watch. Besides classes on maintenance (which I didn’t particularly like), we got lots of time in the simulator. It was one of the buildings that used to be closed to us. Inside was a full cockpit mockup, including an inertial repulsor to give the feeling of movement.

    Out of all the training, I enjoyed this one the best. I liked it so much that I began using the simulator even in the evening off hours, even giving up some sleep to be able to fly a mission or two. I got really good at it. So good, in fact, that I was selected as one of the recruits to fly an actual ship!

    I walked up the boarding ramp and made my way for the cockpit. Before I got there, though, I heard a voice from the troop bay call me over. I found the instructor seated in one of the jumpseats, a series of mission drop chairs that could be lowered from the cargo compartment for dropping troops at a moment’s notice.

    “What do you think you’re doing, ge’verd?” He asked in an almost bored tone. He was absently twirling a pistol around his finger.

    “Going to the cockpit to begin pre-flight,” I replied. He didn’t even look up at me.

    “Nope,” he said and leaned his head back against the rest. “You forgot the first rule of piloting your own ship.”

    I thought I was dead, but the warrior just stood, spun his pistol one more time and slid it easily into his holster. He walked past me and motioned to follow. For the next ten minutes we went over a full external check of the ship. He seemed annoyed that I couldn’t jetpack up onto the wing, but otherwise spoke to me like a normal person. After that, we began doing the full internal check. Thank the Ka’ra that Kal’ad found the manual file for the ship and helped me study it when I pulled the comm shifts.

    When we got into the cockpit and it was ready for flight, I took a seat in the copilot chair. That’s the first time the instructor, who told me to call him Dush, actually hit me. It was just a light cuff to the back of the head. I looked back and he pointed at the pilot’s chair. I wasn’t going to argue.

    Five more minutes and we were skids up. It was the first time I had actually flown higher than a hundred meters. More than that, it was the first time I had actually been into space.

    Dush let me do my own thing, flipping the odd control when he needed to as copilot. Otherwise, he spent most of the time with his chair leaned back and his boots kicked up on the main console. He was the most laid back instructor I had ever met.

    We went through some programmed courses, did some target practice in Kaiga Gorge, and he had me do some basic hyperspace calculations. It was all amazing and more information than I thought I could even remember.

    After landing, Dush and I performed post-flight checks and did some basic maintenance on the wing-spin mechanism. He said it felt a little sticky during the firing drills.

    That night, I spent the entire two hours of my radio shift telling Kal’ad all about what happened. I was so excited that I didn’t even realize I was using my hands to show her the maneuvers I had done in the sharp turns of the canyon. She noticed an instructor walking in and got scared that I’d get beaten for moving around so much.

    She grabbed my hand and pulled it under the table beside her as he walked by. I recognized Dush’s voice as he chuckled and walked into the barracks. After he left, she didn’t let go of my hand. It was strange because the moment she grabbed it, I felt like the temperature shoot up about five degrees. My mouth also went dry and I couldn’t do anything more than just look in her eyes. Neither of us could even speak. Then, as if it hadn’t happened, she practically ran back to her room.
     
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  15. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Okay. There's the happy, and there's the creepy. The happy is that our narrator's budding relationship with Kal'ad seems to be going in the right direction, and that he finally met an instructor who behaves like a human being. But that second point could also be part of the creepy bit -- which is that the narrator is actually beginning to enjoy being there and doing what he does, which could just as well be the explanation for Dush's behaviour. I was going to say that you should read a couple of books written by ex-child soldiers, but on second thought, maybe not -- this story doesn't need to become even creepier than it already is ;)
     
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  16. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    To give you a hint where I am going with Dush's character... Dush is mando'a for bad. "Mal. Bad. In Latin."
     
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  17. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 90: Our Second Skin

    I haven’t been making many posts in my journal as I should have been, because all of my spare time is spent ‘studying’ in the command bunker while manning the comm station. In reality, I’ve been spending as much time with Kal’ad as I could. Dush noticed and told me not to get too attached to her, but said nothing more about it. I didn’t really know what he meant, but I wasn’t about to ask either.

    We were issued our blast vests this month, complete with the armor plates attached to them. It was lighter than I thought it would be, but no less strong than the armor I remembered from home. The vest was a synthetic ablative material that spread any blast energy that the plate didn’t absorb across the entire upper torso. It hurt like haran, but I didn’t die from a point blank blast to the chest diamond.

    The Rally Master told us that this would also be our last month of training. I didn’t even realize we had been here for a year. It felt like only eight weeks had passed since the day I was kidnapped. Heck, it felt like only two weeks since I first met Kal’ad. But, I needed to stay focused to survive this last month.

    One of the first things we did was jetpack training. Rather than helmets, we were given a visor that linked with our armor systems. We learned how to use the jetpack as a jump assist and how to actually fly with it. It ran off of an oxygen mix that constantly recycled, so the fuel was technically unlimited in an atmosphere, but we only had about twenty minutes of maximum thrust of thrust before it needed to recharge.

    Beyond that, we learned how to use the anti-personnel rocket that fit in the primary socket. We were only issued those for training, and then only live ones for the final marksmanship test. It was all controlled through the visor display and touch-pad on the gauntlets.

    The use of the visor made targeting much easier, but also provided some distractions through the additional readouts. Though it was just a simple wrap, it simulated the actual head’s up display of our helmets. It also had some of the enhancements and comm systems for squad drills.

    The final test for the jetpack was almost as much fun as flying the Kom’rk, which I had been doing more of using the visor. We had an aerial obstacle course. It involved flying through checkpoint rings, shooting various targets with our carbines and blasters, and then a pinpoint target against a battle droid.

    I took off and shot higher than any of the other recruits. This put me a little behind them before the first ring, but I also didn’t miss it from the number of bodies trying to fly through it at once. Just as I passed it, I pulled my carbine from my belt.

    The first target was a floating drone that my visor told me I had to shoot before the next ring. It was easy and I hit it with four out of six shots. This ring was more difficult to navigate because another kid went through it with me. The thrust from his jetpack singed my thigh.

    I banked around a corner of the small canyon and saw the next two targets. They were stationary on the wall. I hit them both, but also scorched the wall with a couple of shots. The next turn had me climbing rapidly to make the ring.

    There was a long distance to travel for the next ring, but no targets. My visor told me to holster my carbine. I did and accelerated to maximum while aiming for the next ring. The other kid was in front of me by a length, but I didn’t care. I dove through the next ring and my visor lit with a targeting notification and a grenade symbol.

    I pulled my grenade from my belt, activated it, and dropped it. It landed inside the three meter wide square and popped with a small amount of smoke. The kid in front of me missed his target, though.

    The next three rings were maneuvering, under a bridge, up a cliff face, and through a dry riverbed. That’s when the pistol notification flashed before my eyes. I drew both and went through the next ring.

    This part of the canyon was still deforested. It was a barren expanse of land about a kilometer long, but now there were droids moving all around it at various speeds. I knew exactly what I needed to do.

    I dropped my altitude and began to fire. I ignored the accuracy percentage in my visor and just kept shooting any anything that moved. I pulled up at the end of the run and accelerated back to full, but noticed that I had been passed by two more recruits.

    As I passed the next ring, I saw a target in the distance. It had a rocket symbol next to it. I stared at it and hit the lock stud on my gauntlet. It took longer that I wanted, because I needed to maneuver around an idiot who wouldn’t get out of my way. The tone finally sounded, but I waited to launch.

    I saw the contrails of other missiles tracking to the target, but my range indicator said it was still too far. I waited until the numbers turned green in my visor, counted two more seconds, and launched. I pulled up, the shockwave of only two missiles striking the target giving me extra incentive to climb. I pulled over and aimed for the last waypoint, the camp.

    When you fly, you get an instinctive feel for your speed and fuel. My visor told me I had seventeen kilometers in a straight line back to camp. I jacked the thrust on my jetpack up by five percent over maximum and stuck my hands straight out in front of me. I used my fingers as maneuvering vanes, rather than redirecting the jetpack thrust from straight ahead.

    I ended up tying with the other kid, someone named Lodre from another tent. I didn’t mind, though. We were both first place. When everyone returned from the test, Devin Farr said that I hit the most targets, but had the third best accuracy. It was because I was firing too blindly on the flats.

    That evening, I spent time with Kal’ad at comm duty. We spoke quietly and I learned that she was seventeen years old. She didn’t think it was strange that I was only twelve. Well, I’ll be thirteen next month. We held hands more when the instructors weren’t looking.

    It was difficult to get comfortable sitting with the jetpack on, but the vest did a good job of distributing the weight evenly across my shoulders. It didn’t matter, though. About ten minutes before the end of my shift, when Kal’ad normally goes to bed, she got really quiet and nervous.

    I didn’t know why, and started to ask if I had said anything that upset her. Before the first word could leave my lips, it was replaced with hers. Her hands wrapped around the back of my head and I felt her fingers grab my hair. I did the same, quite enjoying the feeling of her lips on mine.

    Then it was over and she practically flew back to her room. My replacement relieved me and I left back for my tent. Before I got there, I heard someone making a tsking noise behind me.

    It was Dush, but he had his helmet off smoking a death stick. “I told you not to get involved,” he said absently as he dropped the smoldering remains and ground them out in the dirt. “It’ll just make it that much harder.”

    I didn’t know what he meant, but he turned and walked away before I could ask.
     
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  18. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    There's something absolutely creepy about the way Dush talks about the narrator's relationship with Ka'lad. I have a very bad feeling about it, and I sense that this is what will push him over the edge. And the fact that he's now having fun with what he's doing isn't really a good sign -- he's becoming "one of them" already.
     
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  19. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    All I will say is that it will get worse before it gets better.
     
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  20. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 93: Final Test

    This morning felt different for all of us. Things were slowing down in training and there weren’t even any beatings in the past couple of months. Those of us who weren’t the most skilled at one task or another were given extra training; otherwise we were allowed to train by ourselves. For me, that meant marksmanship with the sniper rifles and piloting.

    Kal’ad and I were getting closer, too. It took about a week for her to speak to me after the kiss. I thought I had done something wrong, but it was her embarrassment. Otherwise, we were spending more and more time together. I had it schedules to take the first and second hour watch for radio every night. Devin Farr thought it was because I had become a ‘true believer.’

    Dush didn’t warn me off of Kal’ad when he saw me anymore. He said that I was old enough to make my own decisions. He was more right than he knew. I was a man now; thirteen years old. Most of us were.

    At the beginning of the week, we started preparing for the verd’goten. That’s the Mandalorian rite of passage. Mostly, it was wargames inside the mine. We weren’t facing the instructors at first, but were facing off against each other. It was team on team and every Mando for himself. When an instructor was thrown into the mix, we either got completely trounced or were able to stun him into unconsciousness with concerted firing. My team wasn’t the first to take down an instructor, but we were still able to get him down.

    And then there was this morning. Thinking about it still makes me sick, but I need to tell someone. I should have listened to Dush.

    We woke at the normal time and put on our gear for the daily training. However, Rally Master Devin Farr was waiting at the formation area. The strange thing was that he was flanked by instructors behind boxes of pistols. We were issued a new set of pistols that were fully charged and capable of killing.

    “This is your verd’goten,” the Rally Master said through the amplification system of his armor. “Today, you will either become Death Watch or you will be killed.”

    My heart leaped at the thought of finally getting out of this hell hole, literally.

    “As we speak, a number of slaves have been set loose in the mines. It’s up to you to find them. If you kill one, you will be awarded the rank of verd and become a warrior in Death Watch. If you are lucky enough to kill twice, you will be given the rank of sol’yc verd, becoming a team leader within Death Watch. If you don’t get any kills, then you will be facing your fellow warriors with the last one standing becoming a verd.”

    “If I were you, I wouldn’t let any of them escape. Each that does will receive their freedom and you will have one less chance to avoid dying at the hands of the other failures.”

    He rocketed off and we all ran for the entrance to the mine. We were all together at first, but slowly broke up to explore the various tunnels and rooms. It only took ten minutes to find myself alone. I drew my pistols and activated the lights below the barrels.

    It was quiet as I searched through the mine for my target. I figured that I’d find and kill one before leaving. I knew there would be some who would try to find and kill two for the added prestige, but I didn’t care. The first chance I got, I was out.

    I heard the echoes of blasts and screams from through the mines, but I wasn’t finding anything. Well, until I heard a scrape to my left. I turned and saw a deactivated cart. It was empty and there was nobody hiding behind it, but something had to make that noise. That’s when I noticed the small vent tube.

    I had to crawl through it, but it lead to one of the main passages. A flicker of movement and I had my blasters trained on a smaller tunnel. I readied myself and jumped around the corner, finger tightening on the trigger.

    I froze a moment before the bolt would have engaged. In front of me, fear filling her eyes, was Kal’ad. She let a sharp rock, slick with blood, fall from her raised hands. The crack was almost as loud as the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears. I knew that I couldn’t finish pulling my finger back the millimeter necessary to end her life and escape.

    “Prae…”

    The flash was blinding and her body was flung into me by the force of the blast. I landed hard, enough to lose one of my blasters.

    “…tor.” And she was dead.

    Standing over her was one of my fellow trainees. I wanted nothing more than to bash the self-satisfied sneer off of his face with it.

    “You shouldn’t have hesitated,” he said matter of factly.

    I didn’t hesitate. I lifted my left blaster and pulled the trigger. The yellow bolt of energy sped past his ear and struck the man behind him. The mining pick clattered out of his hands as he fell against the wall and collapsed.

    “Looks like we with both be verd, vod.”

    “No, we won’t.” I couldn’t feel anything inside me as I pulled the trigger again, turning his head into a smoking stump. And then again, blasting off his left arm, and again, and again, until my blaster was completely empty of its charge.

    I took his blasters and put them in my holsters before returning to Kal’ad. I pressed my lips lightly against her forehead and pulled the power core out of my dropped blaster. I crossed her hands over her sternum and placed the core between them with the deadlock bar pulled.

    I was halfway to the entrance of the mine when the power core detonated. It was a fitting funeral for a warrior. The blast would have vaporized her body and the explosion would bring down the entire mining tube so her final resting place would never be found.

    Outside, I was confronted by Rally Master Devin Farr. He congratulated me on my killing of the second slave and told me that I was awarded the rank of Verd. He then asked me what happened with the rest of the firefight as the slave had fallen on the video lead. I told him that I had a blaster jam and that the other recruit tried to kill me before I shot him. Farr blamed him for the explosion.

    He accepted my lie and congratulated me on disposing of a traitor. He gave me the last part of my armor and told me to pack my belongings. The helmet was lighter than it looked, like the rest of the beskar armor. I handed my visor over to one of the other warriors and donned my helmet, making me indistinguishable from the rest of the killers.

    I later found out that because of my dedication to working the radio, I was being send directly to the main Death Watch base on this very moon. This made the last of my feelings drain, as I was being rewarded for spending so much time, and falling so deeply in love, with Kal’ad.
     
  21. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 98: My New Home

    I arrived at the main Death Watch base by transport. It was on the other side of the moon from the training camp, and on the eastern edge of the equatorial forested zone. It wasn’t too far from Concord City, the capital of the Moon and seat of Governor Vizsla. Maybe if I could escape and reach the city, I could go to him and seek asylum while he mobilized the guard to wipe Death Watch out.

    That glimmer of hope is the only thing that’s keeping me from completely falling to despair over what happened. Every time I close my eyes, I see her face the moment before she was shot every time I close my eyes. I hear her voice saying my name every time it’s quiet.

    Ni su'cuyi, gar kyr'adyc, ni partayli, gar darasuum. Kal’ad, Berdor Ordo, Sakyl Ordo, and all the children murdered by the instructors. Let me focus on the tour I was given rather than letting my mind dwell on the kyrayc.

    The central point of the camp was a set of three barracks structures. They were identical to the ones at the training camp on the outside, but had separation walls inside for privacy. I was assigned a bunk in the first and dropped my gear before beginning the tour proper. What I did see was that I had a bunk, locker, and a chair in the small room. I was next to the refresher, but there was no smell like the one in the training barracks.

    The command structure had a lounge in the central corridor with a communications room to one side and a briefing room and quarters for the commander to the other. The middle of the lounge had a holoprojector on a mobile base. The communications room had a single station and various sensor display screens on mobile posts. The station was an actual chair and console with computers. It was definitely more intricate than the military-grade comlink at the training camp.

    To the eastern edge of the mine was a maintenance shed with various bits and pieces of speeders and other gear spread around it after having been stripped for spare parts. The main mechanic wasn’t much to look at, even in the same armor of everyone else. The biggest difference was that his knee plates had dirt ground into them and his coverall was stained. I didn’t know it was even possible to grind dirt into beskar.

    To the north was an armory with all of the gear you’d expect to find here in Death Watch. There were shelves for pistols, carbines, sniper rifles, grenades, macrobinoculars, comlinks, jetpacks, a locked area with missiles and grenades, and all forms of replacements for the armor. The man running the stores was as laid back as Dush used to be. He was firing a training pistol at a printed picture on the wall. It turned out to be Dutchess Satine Kryze from Mandalore, but was visually modified to show her without clothing.

    Finally, to the western side were a simulator and the motorpool. The simulator was identical to the one at the training camp. The motorpool, however, was indoors and filled with only speeder bikes. I saw a couple of charging ports on the outer wall for landspeeders and one larger one that must have been for one of those CIS tanks.

    Things got really interesting when we went underground, though. Not only was the mine active, but it was making beskar’gam. There were mining droids active throughout the tunnels gathering ore. The ore was processed in the central room of the mine and sent right into a fabricator. It was an older fabber, too, able to completely melt and form the beskar ore.

    When we returned to the surface, there was another transport on the field. My guide told me that the boss had returned and it was time for me to meet him. Apparently, being the primary comm operator meant I would be having a close working relationship with the man in charge. It didn’t really matter. The first time I was assigned any kind of a patrol, I would be off and to Concord City before anyone even realized I was gone.

    My heart dropped and my feelings fled the moment I entered the commander’s office. Sitting behind the desk was the familiar face of the governor that I learned about from mother’s classes. He wasn’t smiling, though. He was looking over a datapad report with a bit of a sneer. I am glad that I was wearing a helmet as it saved me from explaining my scowl.

    Pre Vizsla was a little intimidating. His armor was colored differently and he wore a cape over his shoulder. There was also something on his back that I couldn’t identify. It was sheathed in a port on his back armor. Otherwise, he was in the same armor as one of the other warriors, right down to the twin pistols.

    The conversation didn’t last very long and was entirely one-sided. His official title among Death Watch was Al’akaan, roughly translated to War Leader. I was expected to do my job, learn the comm system, and keep it in order. If I could do maintenance, fine; if I couldn’t, then I’d have a month to learn. Failure meant that I would be assigned to a suicide mission or just outright killed. I was also expected to be loyal and not repeat anything I heard; comm operator was a position of responsibility and discretion was necessary. Finally, I would have other assignments according to my skills.

    I was dismissed and went to the comms room. The warrior currently on duty handed me a couple of datapads and told me that I was expected to be up to speed on the system by the end of the week. At least that meant I wouldn’t have a lot of free time to think about… … to think about Kal’ad.

    I got some chow from the autochef unit in the barracks, yeah that’s a thing here, and went back to my bunk to start reading. Unlike the training barracks, this one is heated. It also has a wall mounted table to go along with the chair beside the bunk. I guess it’s time for me to start studying for my life. I’m sure I’ll be able to escape soon. I hope.
     
  22. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Sorry for falling behind, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

    Entry 93: Yikes! That's all I have to say.

    Entry 98: Yikes again, in a different way this time. I thought something was off when I saw that the governor's name was Vizsla, but I didn't realise it was Pre Vizsla himself. This is going to make things a lot more complicated for Praetor -- but then, he could also cause a lot of damage to Death Watch with his new position. This is going to become interesting.
     
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  23. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 104: First Mission

    I’ve been working at the communications platform for about a week and have learned a great deal of the inner workings of Death Watch. We were taught that it was a powerful force spread through the Mandalorian controlled systems, but that’s as far from the Truth as the Core is from Wild Space.

    Death Watch is small. Smaller than I thought when only a third of us completed training. I thought the training happened regularly like it does with system militia, but I was wrong. The training happens only once a year. On top of that, I learned that my class was one of the larger ones to graduate. Normally, the most that graduate are a quarter.

    As for the attrition rates, those are another thing entirely. I learned that the hard way. Not only was it my first official mission, but it was also my first taste of what Death Watch was like outside of training. There were some similarities.

    I was in the comm bunker when we received a signal from the Confederacy of Independent Systems. They were fighting a way against the Republic and Mandalore was staying neutral. The government under Dutchess Kryze was pacifistic; a contrary to Mandalorian ideals. They came to power after the civil war between Mandalore and Death Watch, banished the warriors from their ancestral home, and claimed their seat in the Republic Senate.

    The signal was from Count Dooku. I won’t get into details, since it was rather boring, but Death Watch was paid to insert itself in the Clone Wars. Vizsla wanted to break Mandalore’s neutrality in order to gain popular support of the people and take over from the pacifists. Things were in the works for a while, with Death Watch training for a larger operation. This was apparently the first move.

    It was simple. A warrior would be smuggled onto a Republic cruiser where they would do as much damage as possible. This was something that we were trained for, so it seemed simple. Unfortunately, there was the little issue about getting through the cruiser’s fighter screen, blowing the docking hatch, and fighting through an entire battalion of clones.

    Apparently, the first couple of parts was for me to figure out. After the conversation with the bearded man, Pre Vizsla assigned me the mission of getting the saboteur onboard the ship. My prep time was however long it took me to get from Concordia to the ship. Thankfully, the Separatist information packet also included their intel regarding the cruisers.

    I met the warrior I was delivering to his death shortly after we lifted off. He came onto the bridge and sat at the co-pilot station just staring into the stars before we jumped to lightspeed.

    “What’s your name?” He asked. His voice was lightyears away.

    “Praetor.”

    “You’re the new comm operator?”

    “Yes.” What more could I say?

    “Don’t screw up.”

    We came out of hyperspace on the edge of the Lasan system, just beyond the sensor range of the cruiser. I’d run a simulation similar to this one hundreds of times, but the simulator was nothing compared to the real thing.

    “Unknown transport, this is T. I. 6132, identify yourself.” The clone’s precision clip reminded me of the accent one of the instructors had, but I put it out of my mind. Instead, I engaged the wing rotation for combat.

    The first of the Torrent starfighters didn’t even know what hit them, the second went up without firing a single shot. No doubt, the cruiser was alerted to the destruction of its forward fighter screen. It didn’t really matter, though. This was supposed to be a peaceful system and their alert fighters wouldn’t be able to launch in time to help.

    I punched straight toward the ship in what could have been a suicide run. Their turbolasers were too slow to track my ship, though. It didn’t stop us from being shaken by the flack.

    I saw the dorsal launch hatch split open and aimed for the growing light of the hangar bay. I caught three ships as they were accelerating out of the atmosphere shields to engage me, but it was too late. Before they knew what was happening, I was inside their own hangar firing at the power couplings that held the atmo shields in place.

    “Go now!” I yelled as I spun the ship to engage some clones were weren’t violently blown out into the vacuum.

    “Do a good job on comms,” the warrior said before leaving the cockpit. His next message came over the intercom as he made his way to the jump bay. “Or you won’t just replace me, you’ll become me.”

    Yeah. I just sent the previous comm operator to his suicide mission. I didn’t have time to think about it, though. I nosed up and blew through the closing hatch of the ship. Through the rear camera, I saw the warrior jetting deeper inside the cruiser.

    I was supposed to return to base after he was off the ship, and that’s what I did. Though, just before I jumped, I saw a flash from my rear screen. As the transport entered hyperspace, the cruiser jerked and then went dark, tumbling dead through space.

    I considered running. All I had to do was exit hyperspace, set a new destination, and I was free. But, where would I go? I just made myself a criminal in the Republic. Mandalore would arrest me the moment I tried to enter their space. I still felt hollow from losing Kal’ad, but I knew I had to bide my time and wait. Soon, I’d be able to destroy everything and stand over the burning corpse of Pre Vizsla.
     
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  24. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 111: Resupply Action

    I was still in shock when I learned that the vod I replaced was also the person who I had delivered to his own death. However, that didn’t stop my next assignment. Based on the comm traffic I had been fielding, Death Watch and the CIS were looking to become narudar.

    Because of this alliance, and the necessity to outfit more than just the usual small units, a second training unit was begun. The beskar mine could produce the necessary armors for them, and had begun, but the blasters were another matter. Death Watch was very particular with its weapons. It gave uniformity and made our numbers hard to tell apart. In truth, the only strange armor I had seen were Devin Farr and Pre Vizla.

    This was difficult since the Westar manufacturing plant was located on Mandalore. Specifically, it was located on one of the lower docks of Sundari. Death Watch launched raids on transport ships carrying the pistols, but with the war, those ships were gaining heavier defenses. Pre Vizsla didn’t want to risk the loss of a ship and crew.

    I was assigned to Ruus’alor Kal Tinoc for the mission. It was supposed to look like a simple vandalism raid. Besides the crate of blasters, we were also supposed to get whatever supplies were nearby and leave a concussion bomb in our wake. It was a relatively simple mission with my job being heavy lifting and moving the crates aboard the ship.

    We came in skimming the sands to throw off the city’s sensor nets. It was my first time riding jumpseat during a mission. It wasn’t all that uncomfortable, but the padding was just an afterthought. We were a light unit, only ten of us, even though the capacity was two dozen. It was just a simple mission with light resistance.

    We landed without a problem. The cargo doors opened and I leaped off the chair, trusting my jetpack to carry me safely to the ground. My buy’ce scanned the various cargo tags and immediately marked the blasters, along with foodstuffs, vaporator parts, and an entire crate of tihaar bottles. The guys would definitely enjoy that.

    I landed and lifted the crate of blasters with another warrior when I heard a shout. My visor immediately identified the threat and showed red dots moving into position alongside a larger shipping container. I heard the first blaster bolts fly from Ruus’alor Tinoc as we got the crate entirely on the ship. By the time I got back down the ramp, things had really heated up.

    I counted a dozen Mandalorian police and my target identification lift showed three more speeders incoming. That’s when I heard a cry over our internal comms and saw Ruus’alor Tinoc go down. The blast caught him right beside the cod and the amount of blood told me it hit the artery. He was already dead, he just didn’t know it.

    I toggled over to the command channel with a brush of my chin. “Get those crates loaded and lay down covering fire,” I ground out. I had taken cover behind the crate of alcohol. It would have been fun to get haryc b'aalyc, but I would rather survive.

    I popped the side of the crate and pulled out a single bottle, replacing it with the only grenade I had on my belt. I activated it and the repulsor plate under the pallet and gave a strong shove. It was a little off course, and it toppled when it hit the cargo container the police were hiding behind, but it did its job.

    The officers ran from behind the cargo pod and took up a covered position. I made it to the ramp, feeling a couple of shots impacting my back plate and one catching the side of my helmet. But, it didn’t matter. I was safe and those officers were…

    When the grenade went off, it ignited all of the alcohol. Being in a sealed plasteel container, it expanded in all directions at the same time. The container became shrapnel to take out anything the fireball didn’t initially vaporize. I didn’t see any of it, though, because I was already on my way to the cockpit.

    Just as I entered the control room, the ship lurched to starboard. I thought we had taken a turbolaser blast, and the shields display showed that we lost our rear deflector shields. I plugged into the co-pilot chair and read through the diagnostics. The primary hyperdrive was damaged and the secondary was spinning up. One of the wings had taken severe damage and its blaster was inoperable.

    I glanced at the rear camera and my mouth fell open. There was no longer a dock where we had just been; it was all a smoking crater pockmarking the side of the dome. I spun the recorder back and saw that the crate of booze had set off whatever was in the larger container the police were using for cover. A quick scan of its number made me actually laugh.

    Not only had we scored the blasters we needed, as well as spare parts for our vaporators and food, but we had set off an entire crate of excavation charges on what was once one of the main freight docks of Sundari. The dock, along with the three warehouses adjacent to it, were now a vaporized mess of girders and plasticrete.

    We jumped into hyperspace for ten minutes to throw the Mandalorian sensors before returning to Concordia. Vizsla was quite impressed with our score. He was even more impressed that I had saved a bottle of tihaar. He shared it with me as I gave him my report. Afterwards, he let me take it back to the barracks.

    In all, I got five shots out of the bottle. It wasn’t enough to get me drunk, but was enough to keep the dreams from torturing me as I slept. Not that it mattered, there were still there when I woke up.
     
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  25. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 117: Comm Duty

    I was on comm duty today when I received a communique from one of our plants. A Jedi landed at the docks and was taken immediately to the palace. One of our long-range recon units reported that he had holoimages from the raid on a Republic Cruiser. It didn’t take the Republic long to assign a Jedi to this matter.

    Vizsla strode in and tossed me the datapad with the report. “Put me through to Count Dooku,” he ordered and waited while I dialed up the connection. Rather than take the comm on the main projector, he motioned that I should send it to a handheld.

    It took a moment for the droid to put the Count through, but Vizsla relayed the information to the unflappable head of the CIS. Even after hearing that the Jedi had arrived to investigate the attack that the Count ordered, the man showed absolutely no emotion.

    “I do not understand why the arrival of this Jedi doesn’t upset you. You promised to support the Death Watch forces so we could overthrow the Duchess Satine and her weak peace-loving government.”

    “And, I intend to keep my promise,” the Count responded.

    “But how? If the Republic interferes now, Death Watch will not be able to take over the planet.”

    “Consider, “Dooku said with a moment’s pause. “Once the senate orders peacekeeping troops to Mandalore, the people will be surrounded by a military presence. Most distasteful. They will rebel.”

    “And rally to Death Watch. Our insurgency will grow stronger.” I could see Vizsla stand a little taller at the thought.

    “Yes, and duchess Satine shall fall.”

    Vizsla switched off the holoprojector and turned toward me. “Where is the Jedi now?”

    “The Jedi and Duchess just arrived at the Memorial Shrine in Peace Park.” I glanced at the screen in front of me, only to confirm what was already listed on my visor. “We have one operative on site, the shrine is already wired, and a holosign is in place.”

    I could hear him smile under his visor. “Give the signal to destroy it.”

    I punched the single red key beside the operative’s name, issuing the order. At the same time, I set the comm station to broadcast both the Mandalorian Police secure frequency and the palace guard frequency. It’s piped around the room as we listen to the reports of the destruction and the suicide of the saboteur.

    Vizsla nodded and turned to leave the room when another signal came through. This one was from our spy in the palace. The Duchess was going to accompany the body back to Concordia, following the fake identity of the saboteur. Beyond that, the Jedi was coming with her.

    “Draw a guard uniform from supply,” Vizsla told me. “You’re coming with me to greet the Duchess.”

    I was surprised I was getting that high of an honor, but then I realized it was probably to keep me from talking. However, before he exited the room, he turned back and said, “And inform supply to paint the rank of Alor’uus on your shoulder plate.”

    I was stunned, to say the least. I received a promotion and ordered to accompany the boss to the capital in less than a minute. This day was turning out to be special, indeed.
     
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