A/N: This story was written back when season 1 was still airing, so there may be some inaccuracies. Otherwise, as always, please enjoy!


"Your next mission is going to be a wet one," Cid announced ominously one morning.

The entire squad bit back a groan. Underwater operations were a complicated mess on the best of days, even back when the Bad Batch worked under the republic and had all of their expenses completely covered.

Luckily, it seemed their client was a generous one, as they had forwarded a sizable down-payment to Cid to help cover the costs of proper diving equipment. On top of that, the client specified a timeline: the Batch were not to depart on the mission for at least four rotations. Something about waiting for the precise opportunity to strike. At the very least, this gave the clones a chance to prepare themselves.

The operation was simple: a straight forward smash and grab to the planet Mon Cala. Apparently a Quarren-led company had stolen some blueprints from the Mon Calamari Shipyards corporation for a brand new type of capital ship, and the original owners wanted it back. All the Bad Batch had to do was break into the QFD headquarters, find the blueprints, copy them to a hard drive and then delete the files from the Quarrens'.

The only real complication to the mission was the fact that Mon Cala had turned isolationist since the establishment of the Empire, making off-world visitation problematic to say the least. Hence the time-limit: apparently in four rotations the planet ports would open up to allow drop-off ships to land with supplies from other worlds. That would be the Batch's chance to sneak in and sneak out, assuming all went well.

Which it probably wouldn't. Which made it doubly important for the group to use their time beforehand to shore up every aspect of their plan.

Tech scrolled through his holopad, double-checking the modifications he planned on making to the Havoc Marauder. The ship was more than capable of underwater navigation, but it didn't change the fact that she was still a space ship rather than a sea ship. Every aspect of the Marauder's hull would have to be fortified to withstand the prolonged pressure.

"Tech?"

A small voice called out to him, momentarily distracting him from his calculations. Tech looked up and then down to see Omega staring up at him, her tiny face scrunched up with worry.

"Is there a problem, Omega?" Tech asked. "I'm quite busy with preparations for the Havoc Marauder."

"There's… sort of a problem," the young girl admitted. "I need to ask you a... question. Alone. Please."

Tech quirked an eyebrow. Usually when Omega got this nervous over asking a simple question, it was because she needed some guidance. And for guidance, she almost always went to Hunter, as they all did. For Omega to come to him of all clones, well… Tech could only speculate as to the reasons.

"Very well. This way."

Tech led Omega over to a tiny corner of the cantina with a booth with a tall back that separated it from the rest of the tables. Not the most private accommodation, but nobody was sitting nearby and the back offered some amount of noise protection, so it would do.

Tech waited for Omega to scoot herself in before taking the seat across from her. "Now, what is your question?"

Omega bit her lip and glanced behind her, before finally sighing in defeat. "I can't swim."

Tech blinked. "You… can't?"

Omega shook her head.

"... How?"

"I just… never learned!" Omega cringed and buried her forehead into her hands. "I always WANTED to learn, but Nala Se said I couldn't train with the other cadets and that I didn't really need to know how to anyway, and I just never got the time while we were traveling but now we've gotta go on the mission and if I tell Hunter I KNOW he's going to tell me stay behind again but I really want to go because I always wanted to see Mon Cala and I miss being with you guys and I just don't want to be useless-"

"Omega. Breathe."

Omega paused and took a deep breath. She wasn't exactly panicking, but it was clear she was desperate to go and even more desperate to convince Tech of this fact.

"... I really want to go on the mission this time," she said. "I know I can be of help. I just know it. I just… need you to teach me how to swim."

"Omega, if your skills are not up to the task at hand, it would be beneficial for everyone if you remained behind," Tech said. "The Mon Cala oceans are not like the training pools back on Kamino. There is no place for weak swimmers on this mission."

"I'm not a weak swimmer!" Omega insisted. "I mean, at least, I won't be! If you'd just give me a chance I- I really want to try! Can't you at least let me try!?"

Her lips began to quiver and her eyes started to water as Omega looked up to Tech with the saddest expression she could muster. It was mostly an act, of course. She figured out early on that adults like Hunter were especially susceptible to the dreaded "tooka look", and Tech was forced to admit that it was… effective.

Of course, there was no chance he'd bring a novice swimmer along on such a dangerous mission. However, not being able to swim at all was a rather critical skill for Omega to lack. And if she were so eager to learn, perhaps she could be placated by being told to stay behind so she could further practice on her own.

Tech considered his options and weighed them against the circumstances. Even he was getting a little sick of calculating ship modifications all day, and he could do with a short break from the rest of the Batch (multi-day preparations tended to bring out the worst in everyone).

Finally, he nodded. "Fair enough. Let us prepare then, shall we?"


Thankfully Hunter didn't need much convincing. All he needed to know was that Tech needed to take the Marauder out for a test run and that Omega wanted to come along. Once he gave the go ahead, the two departed for a brief shopping trip to the Ord Mantell market, where they purchased appropriate swim-wear for Omega, along with some goggles and life-vests. After that, they hopped into the Havoc Marauder and took off, but not to another world.

Ord Mantell was a diverse planet with many different biomes, but Tech wasn't keen on wandering too far from the desert capital. This didn't leave many options for someone in search of a large body of water, but after a little research Tech was able to find a location that suited their needs perfectly.

Omega stared in awe as Tech maneuvered the Marauder in and out through the mesa until they landed in front of a jagged cave opening. The duo entered through the cavity, and Omega once again had her breath stolen away. Inside the cave was a massive, crystal clear lake, with sparkling green rocks and huge imposing stalagmites and stalactites. It was like nothing she had ever seen before, and Omega liked to believe that she had been seeing a lot lately.

"This is a natural underground spring, one of the largest in the area. It's a popular destination for hikers and spelunkers, though I doubt we'll have to worry about them given that it's the off season," Tech explained, double-checking his holopad. "And best of all, it's clean enough to swim in. Yes, this will do nicely."

"Are we really going in there?" Omega asked. "It looks… deep."

"Perhaps further in, but we will not be wading far from the entrance. No need to worry. I've run the calculations and I know the exact dimensions of the spring. We will be fine."

Omega nodded in response. If Tech said it was alright, then clearly it would be alright.

After dashing back to the Marauder one last time for a quick change, Omega and Tech approached the lake's edge. Omega peered down into the water, transfixed. The stone floor in the cavern gave off an odd glow under the right light, causing the water to take on an ethereal green color. It was truly a beautiful sight.

She dipped her toe to the water's surface to test it out, only to yelp and immediately retract it. "It's cold!" she complained.

"Yes. The cavern walls shield the water from sun, lowering its temperature significantly," Tech said matter of factly. "However, the temperature is not too dissimilar from that of Mon Cala around this time of year, so it will be good for you to acclimate now rather than later."

"Okay…" Omega said, peering back at the water. She was beginning to have second thoughts. Still, she was here now, and Tech was counting on her. She took a deep breath and carefully dipped her feet into the water, cringing as the frigid liquid nipped at her ankle.

"In my experience," Tech said, readjusting his glasses. "It is usually easier to jump into cold water all at once than to slowly climb into it."

"Oh… really?" Omega frowned, looking sheepish. "Could you… show me how?"

"Certainly."

Tech instantly shoved Omega forward and watched as she tumbled straight over into the water.

Luckily, just as Tech said, the lake wasn't very deep. Omega felt the bottom almost instantly, and before she knew it, her life-jacket activated, propelling her forward to the surface. She gasped for air and stood up, relieved to feel the water was only chest-high.

She turned around and glared at Tech, who was still standing on the edge looking amused. "N-not f-f-funny!" She hissed through clattering teeth.

"Oh, it was a little funny," Tech chided. "Also it's tradition. That's how I learned how to swim."

"I c-could've died!" Omega insisted. Not that she believed she would have- but she was mad, and she was going to guilt Tech with everything she had.

Tech chuckled, "Apologies. I'm sure you'll find some way to get me back. Now, in the meantime…"

Tech motioned for Omega to step aside. Once the way was clear, he dived head-first from the edge into the water. He emerged wearing a very noticeable frown.

"Tech? Is everything alright?" Omega asked, suddenly nervous.

Tech took a deep breath. "It appears… the water's temperature is not as optimized as I originally surmised."

That was Tech-speak for "kriff this water is way colder than I thought."

Omega smirked in triumph. "Told ya so."

"Yes, well, we're still in no danger of hypothermia. We might as well make the most of it. Let's begin."

And so the training commenced. With Omega still wrapped tightly in the life vest, Tech began to run her through some very basic swimming exercises. First he taught her how to float, with and without the vest, and then he taught her how to tread water. Once he was satisfied with her performance, he suggested she remove the vest and try to keep her head above water in the shallow end of the spring. Although she was a little apprehensive, Omega's determination won out in the end and she discarded the flotation device. Soon, she was floating comfortably in the water, and even paddling around the edge of the lake with ease.

"Excellent work, Omega," Tech praised. "It appears you are a natural."

"Maybe the Kaminoans made me part fish!" Omega squealed in delight. "I could be the team's swimmer!"

"Perhaps, although you still have a ways to learn. Let's work on some strokes- the one you're using now is fine for beginners, but will quickly tire you out if you use it on the open sea."

"Okay…" Omega's voice was soft. She slowly paddled her way back to Tech, having suddenly lost her earlier enthusiasm.

Tech made a mental note of it, but didn't comment. Omega was prone to childish mood swings, after all, and he continued on with the lesson with nary a problem. At least, for a while.

"Tech, can I ask a question?"

"Go ahead."

"Is it…" Omega hesitated. "Is it really weird of me that I don't know how to swim… despite growing up on Kamino?"

Tech thought for a moment. "Not necessarily," he said. "Kamino may be an ocean world, but its seas are too discordant for casual swimming. That is why the Kaminoans built their cities above water, not beside it."

"But you thought it was strange," Omega pointed out.

Ah, yes. Was she still upset about that?

"... I admit I was surprised," Tech said. "Swimming lessons were mandatory for all clone cadets back at the academy. You couldn't graduate without them. I had assumed the same went for you."

"I wasn't allowed to go to the academy," Omega said. "Nala Se said I wasn't… meant for that kind of training. She said I wasn't a soldier, and that I couldn't interact with the other clones. Not while they were awake, at least."

She sank a little into the water, looking thoughtful. "I could watch, though. I wanted to learn. It looked like fun. Even when it looked scary, it looked… fun. Especially with friends. With… brothers."

"Hm. Well, if it's any consolation, in my experience basic training was quite stressful. Even with my brothers' help."

That didn't seem to cheer her up. Tech decided to try a different tact.

"Do you resent Nala Se for what she did?"

"Huh?"

"Nala Se. Do you resent her from keeping you away from your brothers?"

"Well… umm…" Omega frowned, deep in thought. "I… I didn't like it. I really didn't like it. I complained about it all the time. But… if by resent you mean… hate… I…"

She sighed and dipped her head. "I don't. I really don't. I don't hate Nala Se."

Tech stared. He had never seen Omega look so wistful, at least not with anyone but Hunter. He said nothing and let her continue.

"I don't think I liked Kamino. I definitely don't want to go back there. But sometimes I think about Nala Se and I get… sad. Like I abandoned her," Omega continued. "She was nice to me. She gave me toys when she could, and let me play with the medical droids. I don't know if she liked me, but I liked her."

"It sounds to me like she liked you quite a bit," Tech said.

Omega looked up. "Really…?"

"Yes. I have never known the Kaminoans to be particularly kind to us clones. We never received gifts from them, for instance. If Nala Se went out of her way to give you things that you liked, I believe that is evidence enough to indicate she cherished you, at least in her own way."

Omega remained quiet, deep in thought.

"Do you miss her?" Tech asked.

"... Sometimes." Omega admitted. "Sometimes I even miss my old life back on Kamino. When I didn't have… bounty hunters trying to kidnap me all the time."

She stood up in the water, trembling, although whether from emotion or from the cold he couldn't tell.

"Tech… does it make me a bad person if I don't want to go back to her?"

"How do you mean?"

"I mean… is it… mean of me to say I miss Nala Se, but that I don't want to go back to her?" Omega sighed. "If what you're saying is true... that Nala Se did care about me... doesn't that make me a terrible person to not want to see her again? I… I mean if I could, I think I would, but right now, I…"

Was she starting to cry? Tech suppressed a sigh. Maybe he should've brought Hunter or Wrecker along. They were much better at this kind of stuff than he was.

Still, he couldn't just leave her at that. He replayed their conversation in his head, trying to logic out what it was that was truly bothering Omega. Frustratingly, he couldn't find a definitive culprit, but maybe he could make an educated guess.

First, she was upset that she didn't know how to swim, despite living on Kamino. Understandable. Embarrassment was a common cause for a child's mood swings, or so Tech had heard. But now she had a basic grasp of the skill and was swimming along like a… well, not a fish, but perhaps an animal that wasn't unfamiliar with water, so he doubted wounded pride was still a factor.

Then she talked about her old home on Kamino and how much she didn't like it there. But somehow that had segwayed into talking about the stuff she did miss. Namely, Nala Se. Now she was talking about how she was a bad person because… she didn't miss Nala Se? Or didn't miss Nala Se enough?

Tech shook his head. He had long ago accepted that human emotions were annoyingly inconsistent, a field of study he would never be able to fully grasp. He was content in his ignorance, but even he knew that leaving a child to wallow in sorrow like Omega was doing was… probably a bad idea. He had to say something, even if it didn't make any sense.

"I think…" Tech began carefully. "I think if Nala Se liked you, she would be fine with you leaving Kamino."

Omega froze. "... How… how do you mean?"

"I mean… if Nala Se did care for your well-being, she would understand that you leaving Kamino was the best choice for your continued development," Tech said. "She would've been able to see that you were unhappy, and that your continued presence on Kamino would've put your life in great danger. In that case, I think Nala Se would be quite pleased to know you escaped and are now traveling in the company of those who care for you."

Despite the temperature, Omega felt something warm well up in her chest. She took a deep breath and wiped her face down with a wet hand, before turning around to face Tech. "... Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you, Tech," she said, smiling softly.

"Of course," Tech nodded, feeling very pleased with himself for averting an emotional crisis. And the others said he had no talent for this…

"You know… you kinda remind me of her."

"I beg your pardon?" Tech asked.

"You remind me a little of Nala Se," Omega explained. "Because you're really smart and nice and… stuff. And you let me assist you. Not even Hunter lets me do that."

"Then I suppose I should take your comparison as a compliment," Tech said, momentarily offended at the possibility of being compared to a fish alien. Omega giggled in response, and Tech found himself smiling back- until he got a full view of her pale blue face.

"I believe we are at the limit of your tolerance for the cold. The lesson is over for now, so let us go dry off in the Havoc Marauder, shall we?"

"Just a minute! I wanna try that new stroke you taught me in the deep end!" Omega said, sorrow and even cold seemingly forgotten in an instant. She dove back into the water and began to swim further from the edge, despite Tech's protests.

"Omega, wait! I have not verified the safety of that side of the lake!" Tech tore after her, cursing himself for his slow start.

"It's alright! You said the spring was safe! I trust you! Plus I can swim without standing up now, see?" Omega grinned, showing off her skill by floating in the middle of the water with nary a care.

Until she was suddenly sucked underneath.

"Omega!?" Tech called out. "Omega, this isn't funny. Come up this instant!" He waded over to where she disappeared and started to feel something dangerously close to panic well up in his chest. This area of the lake was much deeper than he anticipated. He couldn't even see the bottom, nor, more worryingly, Omega herself.

Just as Tech was about to dive underwater to investigate, Omega broke through the surface a few feet away from him with a pained gasp.

"Omega-"

"Tech! There's- there's something in the water!" She cried. "I think its- augh!"

Tech grabbed at her just as she was dragged underneath once more. He intended to pull her up, but misjudged the strength of whatever was holding Omega down, and found himself dragged under alongside her.

The water underneath was an incomprehensible haze of green. The glow that had looked so beautiful from outside now choked him like a thick miasma. He couldn't even tell which way was up or down.

Thankfully his grip on Omega's arm remained unbroken, and he could feel her lash out at the creature that pinned her down. Tech adjusted the sight on his goggles and turned on its light, letting him banish some of the watery mist surrounding him. He saw Omega in front of him, struggling against what looked like a mass of kelp tangled around her legs. Closer inspection revealed that the mass wasn't kelp at all, but tentacles of some sort. Glowing tentacles attached to stems that extended deep down into the depths of the spring, possibly even into the earth itself.

It would have been a fascinating discovery if Omega's life wasn't in danger.

Tech swiped at the tentacles with his free hand, intending to rip them off. As soon as he touched them, Tech felt an explosion of pain burst through his hand, causing him to cringe. The tentacles must have been coated with a venomous barb- no. It wasn't venom, Tech realized, it was bio-electricity. He could see the sparks travel up through the stems and out through the tips of the tentacles. That must have been how it hunted. The tentacles would ensnare prey that wandered too close to depths, stun them with a painful jolt and then drag them under.

Wonderful. Now how does this help Omega?

The poor girl was now thoroughly tangled in the hideous mass, strength already ebbing away due to oxygen deprivation and pain. Tech didn't have any time to think any deeper. He looped Omega's arm around his shoulder and kicked at the tentacles underneath with all his might, propelling both of them toward the surface.

He made sure Omega broke first so she could get some air, but they weren't out of danger yet. Some of the tentacles were still clamped to her legs, and some were starting to stick to his, too. Tech scanned his surroundings for a solution. If he had his blaster, he could cut Omega loose, but he left his weapons back on the shore. He could make a mad dash for them if he dropped Omega, but then she would be pulled back under and he wasn't confident he could free her again in time. His options were frustratingly limited.

Tech could feel the tentacles begin to tug at Omega once more, which only encouraged him to tighten his grip. He looked around again, until he spotted a nearby stalagmite formation. It had been hidden in the darkness of the cave, but Tech's light had finally revealed its cover. He swam towards it and hoisted her onto it.

"Omega, I need you to hold onto this stalagmite for a moment, alright?" Tech explained. "I am going to swim back to shore so I can get my blaster and free you, but until then you need to make sure you stay above water. Can you do that?"

"I- I don't know!" Omega sobbed. "My- my legs and my arms and my chest hurt real bad! I don't know if I can hold on! P-please don't leave me alone!"

"I will not. I just need to make a quick detour." Tech's voice was calm. Calmer than it had any right to be.

Omega forced herself to nod. "O-okay… just… hurry!"

"That was my intention!"

Omega reached out and grasped at the stalagmite, crying out in pain as the tentacles sent another jolt of electricity through her body. Tech let her go and swam as fast he could back to the edge of the cave pool. He hoisted himself up, ran over to where he had laid out his weapons before the lesson and dove back in.

Tech aimed his blaster at the mass of tentacles grasping at Omega's form. He was no crackshot like Crosshair, but at this distance he was sure not to miss. He pulled the trigger and watched as the bolt tore through the appendages like tissue paper. Something inhuman let out a scream, and finally, the rest of the tentacles loosened their grip on Omega, allowing the girl to kick herself free.

Omega heaved and panted but remained where she lay, too tired to swim back and too scared to let go of her lifeline. Tech swam towards her and tapped her on the arm.

"Omega, we have to go," he said. "It's not safe he-"

Tech felt something tug at his feet, and then suddenly he was underwater.

Omega cried, "Tech!"

She reached out to grab him, but it was too late. Tech's form disappeared under the water, ensnared by the same creature that almost swallowed her. Omega whipped around in a frenzy, unsure of what to do.

Suddenly, she saw something float on the water. It was Tech's blaster. Without thinking, Omega pounced on the weapon and dove under.

Although it hurt her eyes, Omega kept them open and tried to peer through the darkness as she searched for her brother. She could barely see anything, but then- she saw light. It was faint, as if coming from a dying flashlight. Tech's light!

She swam towards him, trying her best to remember the strokes Tech taught her. It felt weird and unnatural to use them, but she had to admit she was making good time.

It was impossible for her to see anything other than the reflection of Tech's goggle light. She thought about firing blind into the depths, but she was afraid she might hit Tech accidentally. Her only option was to get as close to Tech as possible and then shoot.

Omega's head burned as she dove deeper. She started to black out, the green haze slowly being replaced by darkness as her lungs screamed in agony, until finally- she saw him.

Tech struggled against the tentacles that were now wrapped firmly around his waist, and she could see the sparks dance across the water around him. That was all she needed.

Omega fired the blaster once, then twice, then thrice. Each bolt connected, and the tentacles exploded in a disgusting splatter of dark blue. Tech was finally released from its grip, but he didn't move- had he passed out?

Omega swam over to him and tried to tug him upwards, only for her strength to finally give out. Tech was just too heavy for her, and she was too tired to even attempt a struggle. Even so, she didn't abandon him- if only because she was too exhausted to swim herself.

Still, she tried. She kicked at the water beneath her, and tugged at Tech's hand. It was no use. As her sight began to fail her, Omega panicked. Was this how it was going to end? Drowning in a stupid cave? And it was all her fault. If only she had listened to Tech when he told her to stay behind. If only she hadn't swam towards the deep end. If only she had been a more competent clone-

Suddenly she was speeding through the water faster than she could comprehend. Omega looked up and saw the surface, and soon, tasted air- just as Tech hoisted her and himself over the pool's edge and back onto dry land.

For a moment, the two lay on the ground, coughing and hacking up water as they struggled to catch their breath. Eventually Tech forced himself up and crawled over to check on Omega.

Once she felt his touch on her back, the young girl turned around and buried herself into his chest, shivering violently. Tech flinched, uncomfortable with physical affection at the best of times. Still, he chose not to move her, and lightly patted her on the shoulder for comfort.

"Well, that was… an experience," Tech finally managed to say. "Next time, I believe I should choose a more… conventional swimming location."

Despite herself, Omega giggled (even if it sounded more like a gag). "Y-you w-wanna do this a-again?" she asked, teeth clattering.

"This? No. Never."

Omega laughed.