A/N: Decided to have some fun with a random fic. I've got a fair amount of 212th OCs, because they're easier to keep track of than canon characters. I don't have a set time frame for this, except it's late in the war. And many thanks to Cuthalion97 for helping me with the "voiceover" intro!

A quick key: Bour-planet; Bourick-native, singular; Bouresh-native, plural; Bourish-native language


In an effort to reclaim a Republic trading route lost three years ago, General Obi-Wan Kenobi and the 212th have been sent to the Outer Rim planet of Bour to drive out the Separatists! While the skies have been retaken by the Republic, Separatists forces have taken over the planet surface, intent on destroying villages full of defenseless Bouresh!

Defending each of the tiny, scattered villages have spread Obi-Wan's men dangerously thin, and Separatist reinforcements close in to prevent a retreat! Their only chance is to regroup and hope the Republic shuttles are able to retrieve them before it is too late…

Obi-Wan trudged across the field of knee-high grass. He scanned the horizon out of habit, not really seeing anything but a blur of green broken by a distant treeline. Cody, at Obi-Wan's side, was working on a datapad, tracking each of the scattered teams. He tapped the screen a couple times, then shook his head.

"Slip Squad split up again," Cody reported. "Two more villages ten klicks apart are under attack."

"Where at?" Obi-Wan had a vague memory that Slip Squad had begun ahead of Ghost Company, but they'd split off and changed directions at least three times.

Cody double-checked the datapad. "The closest is just a few klicks east, General."

Obi-Wan squinted. Even after a week of moving near nonstop and fighting a new group of droids every couple hours, his senses couldn't be so dulled to miss another fight so close?

Obi-Wan closed his eyes and extended his senses further. Yes, a rising sense of territorial anger and intense determination, tainted with fear and pain. Somewhere to the southeast.

"Yes," Obi-Wan murmured, his eyes opening. "Yes, come on, men!"

A ragged battle cry came from the five men behind them. Obi-Wan pushed back grief at the memory of how much smaller the group had become -pushed back the equally painful what-if of how many of his men were simply waiting elsewhere. Ghost Company had split, regrouped, and scattered so many times that Obi-Wan's group consisted of three Ghosts -counting Cody- two men from the Mists, and one shiny who'd gone through too many squads to count on the Bour campaign.

The group charged onward, digging into reserves of energy that were far too depleted. But what other choice was there? The group fighting just ahead might be fine without their help, but the campaign had been going on for far too long for Obi-Wan to entertain such an optimistic thought.

Before long, the group topped a ridge. Obi-Wan ground to a halt. The shiny nearly tumbled down the ridge before Boil yanked him back.

"Watch your step, Grassy," Boil scolded, using the nickname that had come about from all the grass stains covering the shiny's armor.

Obi-Wan raised a placating hand, most of his attention ahead.

The ground fell away onto a broad bowl of hard-packed dirt, ringed across the way with thick trees. In the middle of the bowl was a large cluster of simple but massive wooden houses. A broad path lined with stones led through the midst of the town. Plowed fields were scattered around the village, along with the occasional split-rail corrals with bantha-like creatures stomping and lowing.

Between the village and Obi-Wan stood a group of Bouresh. It was one of the largest villages Obi-Wan had yet to see on Bour, though these Bouresh still numbered less than a hundred.

Not that Boureshs were small. They were tall, even the shortest adults standing over a meter above the heads of the clones, with broad shoulders and thick limbs. Most often they walked hunched over on their knobby knuckles. They had flat, canine faces with floppy ears and their lower canines usually jutted out of their jowls, and short, dense fur in earthy colors.

This group stood tightly together, staring up the ridge at Obi-Wan and his men. Droid parts were scattered across the village. Obi-Wan spotted only three clones, and all were in the midst of the tense Bouresh.

"I'll handle this, Cody," Obi-Wan said.

Cody's helmet tilted in his direction, but that was his only objection.

Obi-Wan put his lightsaber away, then slid down the slope. Growling rose from the Bouresh, so Obi-Wan didn't try to approach. He spread his empty hands wide.

"We're here to help," Obi-Wan said.

The only response Obi-Wan got was another growl. Unfortunately, Bouresh didn't speak or understand Basic. Obi-Wan had picked up a few of their words and phrases, but not enough to really converse.

"General?" came the voice of one of the clones.

"I'm here," Obi-Wan said, keeping his voice calm. "Don't fight them; we'll get you out."

"Eh, General?" piped up another. "I don't think they want to hurt us."

"Yeah, I'd, uh… I'd say they're protecting us," added the first voice.

Obi-Wan blinked. He stroked his beard, thinking, then cleared his throat.

Bourish words were more of a growl Obi-Wan made in the back of his throat. It took all his breath to make out a single word. Safe.

The Bouresh rumbled and growled amongst each other. They shuffled apart, making room for a Bourick with creamy white fur. He was a bit small, perhaps not fully grown, but the white Bouresh Obi-Wan had seen in the last week were rare and always held authority within their village. He gave this Bourick a brief bow.

"I don't mean any harm," Obi-Wan said.

Obi-Wan held back a cough. Water rations were getting low, and speaking Bourish certainly wasn't helping.

"I only wish to retrieve my men." Obi-Wan cleared his throat, coughed lightly, then rasped, "And we will be on our way."

"General?" one of the surrounded clones said.

The white Bourick leaned down, his muzzle twitching as he sniffed Obi-Wan. The Jedi calmly met the Bourick's eyes, and didn't flinch when he raised a forepaw half Obi-Wan's size. Said paw pressed lightly on Obi-Wan's head, quite gentle for being so large.

Obi-Wan was relieved. He'd been knocked over dozens of times by the Bouresh greeting, and didn't fancy yet another faceful of dirt.

The white Bourick growled, and the Bouresh parted. The three clones in their midst hesitated, then rushed to Obi-Wan.

"Skipper, Tangle, Wit," Obi-Wan greeted the clones. He coughed again. "Are any of you hurt?"

"Tangle," Skipper said with a weary salute.

"I'm fine, Skipper," Tangle said. Belatedly, Obi-Wan noticed his limp. The armor on his left leg was burnt and cracked.

The white Bourick grunted, then stared past Obi-Wan to the clones still on the ridge. At a wave from Obi-Wan, Cody, Boil, Trapper, Grassy, and the two Mists -Tof and Reach- descended.

The Bouresh seemingly forgot their wariness as they surrounded the clones, sniffing and growling out greetings. Anytime a clone removed their helmet, the one or more Bouresh would reach out to pat their heads.

"I feel like a tooka every time they do this," Tof whispered as a Bourick patted his light brown hair.

"I think they think we're tookas," Wit said with a laugh. "Should've seen the Bourick carrying Tangle around."

Tangle flushed. "Wit!"

"Don't get distracted," Cody said firmly. "Skipper, what happened here?"

"Battle was pretty much done by the time we arrived," Skipper said with another salute. "Tangle went down, then the Bouresh started protecting us, it seems."

"And the rest of Slip Company?"

Skipper's expression darkened. "We're… all that's left of Slip Company, sir. The larger group of us went to the village to the south. I lost contact with Sargeant Nick moments after he said the village had been destroyed. I think they were ambushed."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, the earlier sensation of pain and fear making sense to him now. He pushed back the grief with a sigh. He had to focus on the men still with him.

"How badly are you hurt?" Obi-Wan asked Tangle.

"I won't slow you down, sir," Tangle said.

Except Obi-Wan could see Tangle was struggling already. They were too far from base camp -if base camp still even stood- to send Tangle back, even if they could spare the men to help him back. How safe would it be for Tangle to stay in the village, to be picked up later? Would the Bouresh understand Obi-Wan's request?

While Obi-Wan thought, two Bouresh came forward holding large wooden buckets. They set the buckets in front of the group and backed away, growling encouragement. Stepping forward, Obi-Wan saw one bucket was full of water and the other held a native fruit.

The clones looked hopefully at Obi-Wan, who didn't hesitate to nod. They enthusiastically fell on the simple fare, scooping up water with shared cups and cutting the big, red-skinned fruit with Trapper's knife. The Bouresh growled happily and many of them settled down nearby, as if keeping watch.

Obi-Wan watched the white Bourick nod, then turn and walk away. He went to one of the larger buildings in the center of the village and went inside.


Obi-Wan turned and gratefully accepted the cup Cody held out to him. While he drank, Cody walked back toward the ridge. Peering over the rim of his cup, Obi-Wan noted that Cody carried no food or water, and had yet to remove his helmet as the others had done. Shaking his head in fond amusement, Obi-Wan crouched to refill the cup, then strolled after Cody.

Cody stood atop the ridge, staring through his binocs to the south. Obi-Wan joined him, staring across the plain. There wasn't a thing to be seen to Obi-Wan's unaided eye, so he waited for Cody to finish.

Cody jerked around, so fast that his elbow nearly collided with Obi-Wan's chin. Obi-Wan narrowly ducked Cody's elbow, dumping the water as he did. Remaining in a crouch, Obi-Wan stared blandly up at Cody, who was now intently staring in a different direction.

"What's so interesting, Commander?" Obi-Wan asked.

Cody startled and lowered the binocs. His helmet swung back-and-forth briefly before it occurred to him to look down.

"What are you doing, General?" Cody asked hesitantly.

"Getting a new perspective. You should try it some time."

Cody actually started to crouch before apparently realizing the oddity of Obi-Wan's statement. He raised his binocs again and turned determinedly back to the south.

"What are you watching?" Obi-Wan asked, straightening.

"Nothing yet," Cody said slowly. "But if Sargeant Nick's team was ambushed, this village might be next."

"What other villages are in the area?" Obi-Wan asked.

Cody lowered the binocs and swapped them for his datapad. The binocs slipped from the datapad clip, but Cody didn't appear to notice. Obi-Wan picked up the binocs while Cody checked the area maps.

"None," Cody said after a few minutes. "Most of the villages are concentrated to the west. They're pretty scattered out here, and there's no sign of common roads."

"Which the Separatists have been down here long enough to know," Obi-Wan said musingly.

"If we can convince the Bouresh to leave, we can meet the clankers here," Cody said.

Obi-Wan looked thoughtfully down the ridge. He had nine exhausted men against Force knew how many Separatists. They were too far out to hope for reinforcements, either.

"We'll go with them," Obi-Wan said, deciding as he said it.

"Sir?" Cody asked.

"We couldn't hold back half a squad of rusty clankers," Obi-Wan said. He ran his fingers through his dirt and sweat matted hair. "We came this far to protect the villages, but I think we'll have to be satisfied with the inhabitants."

"Retreat and regroup, then," Cody surmised.

"It's our only hope at this point," Obi-Wan said. He nodded. "Cody, let the men know that we'll leave soon. I'll go speak with the leader and try to get him to understand."

"Yes, sir."

Cody turned to go, but Obi-Wan spoke up.

"And, Cody?" Obi-Wan waited for Cody to turn. "Do get something to eat and drink before we leave."

Cody responded with a "yes, sir" that sounded automatic. As he continued down the ridge, Obi-Wan looked over his head and met Boil's eyes. Boil nodded, then stood to intercept Cody.

Obi-Wan slid down the ridge and trotted past his men. The Bouresh rumbled, a mixture of caution and curiosity coming from them. Obi-Wan let himself be patted as he weaved through the crowd.

The white Bourick emerged from the building as Obi-Wan approached. Spotting the Jedi, the Bourick quickly closed the door and growled.

Obi-Wan paused. From behind the door, he could just make out smaller growls and a few whines. He looked back, noting that there weren't any young Bouresh -pups, the men had taken to calling them- outside. Turning back to the leader, Obi-Wan spread placating hands and stepped back.

"I only wanted to ask if you would take your people west. It will be safer there."

The Bourick only stared. Obi-Wan cleared his throat, then pointed to the west and growled out "safe" in Bourish. The Bourick looked to the west, then nodded in agreement.

"Will you take them," Obi-Wan gestured to the villagers with a gathering motion, then pointed to the west, "And go to safety?"

The Bourick growled and stamped a paw. Obi-Wan recognized the growls to mean that they would stay. Many of the Bouresh said this when the 212nd attempted to evacuate them.

Obi-Wan pointed to the ground and shook his head, growling "safe." He nodded to the west with a smile and a growled "safe." The Bourick shook his head.

"Please," Obi-Wan said. "You and your people will be killed. If we leave now, we have a chance."

Sensing a curious presence above, Obi-Wan glanced up. Eyes flashed in the darkness within a high window, then vanished with a muffled thud. A thin growl came from behind the door.

The leader growled back, then stalked forward. Obi-Wan backed away, but didn't fight when the Bourick grabbed him around the middle and lifted him into the air. The Bourick carried Obi-Wan past his men, where Cody dropped a cup of water to jump to his feet.

"It's fine, Cody," Obi-Wan quickly said. "I think he's showing me something."

The Bourick carried Obi-Wan to the top of the ridge and set him down. He pointed to the west, then to the northwest with a complicated series of growls that Obi-Wan didn't understand. He pushed Obi-Wan -none too gently- a few steps into the grass.

Obi-Wan stared up at the Bourick, uncomprehending. His senses were muddled from the lengthy campaign, and all he could tell was that the Bourick wasn't angry. He seemed sad about something. Something drawing his gaze back to the building.

Cody clambered to the top of the ridge, warily watching the white Bourick. A tall Bourick with streaks of gray in her yellow-tan fur followed him.

"General, what's wrong?" Cody asked.

"I'm afraid I don't know," Obi-Wan said. He pointed to the northwest and growled, "Safe?"

Both Bouresh shook their heads. The tan Bourick growled something that Obi-Wan had come to associate with sacred burial grounds. Were the Bouresh unwilling to leave their dead?

Obi-Wan growled a phrase that meant roughly, "it's done." The Bouresh used it when a battle ended or a friend was killed, and Obi-Wan hoped his meaning was understood.

The leader bared his teeth and gave a gravelly laugh. He nodded to Obi-Wan, then gestured to the village and repeated the phrase.

"Then you'll go?" Obi-Wan asked hopefully.

The white Bourick nudged Obi-Wan and Cody back a step, then both Bouresh moved back. This time, they're meaning was clear.

"Well," Obi-Wan said, forcing fake cheer that nobody could believe into his voice, "Guess we'll dig in here, Cody. Tell the men to get what rest they can."

"Yes, sir."

Obi-Wan clasped Cody's shoulder. "And, Cody?"

Cody turned to him. "Sir?"

Obi-Wan opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He wasn't sure what he'd intended to say. Instead, he studied his commander.

Sweat on his forehead and blood from the corner of his mouth had run tracks through the dust on his battered face. His eyes drooped with weariness and his left cheek was swollen from a bad hit two days before. But Cody pulled his shoulders back and met Obi-Wan's eyes, as steady a man Obi-Wan could ever want at his side.

"Thank you," Obi-Wan eventually said.

Cody ducked his head a bit, uncertainty flitting in his eyes. One hand rose, but Obi-Wan met the salute halfway, clasping Cody's arm. Cody stared at Obi-Wan's hand, then gingerly reciprocated the friendly gesture. He didn't say a word, and Obi-Wan let him pull away a moment later.

"Change in plans," Cody said, sliding down to the waiting troopers. "We're going to ambush the clankers when they get here."

"But won't they know we're here…?" Grassy asked hesitantly.

Wit shrugged. "Better than shot in the back."

"We don't know how many droids there are," Skipper said optimistically.

"They took out Sargeant Nick's team in seconds. Chances are, there's a messy lot of them," Tangle said. He hefted his blaster. "Which is fine with me. I've been itching for a fight."

"You're always looking for a fight," Skipper scoffed.

"Looking for a fight or not, it's coming to us," Cody said, prompting the troopers to straighten up. "We have an hour, tops, to get our welcoming party put together. The more we can take down before they get into the village, the better. Any ideas?"

"Just one," piped up Trapper. "How hard is that dirt under the ridges?"

Cody considered the small pile of dirt he and the men had displaced, then knocked a fist against the dirt. It was solid.

"Too hard for digging by hand," Cody said.

"For us, sure," Boil said. "General, do you know Bourish for 'dig'?"

The white Bourick grunted and stepped forward before Obi-Wan could respond. He dropped beside Cody, then dug his paw into the dirt and clawed out a pawful.

Obi-Wan smiled and the men cheered. It was a small thing, but they finally had something going for them.