Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I do not own Star Wars or anything associated with it. I do not own the Galactic Republic, the Seperatists, the Jedi, and so on. All I own are the characters of Special Tactics Squad 1-17, General Monka Monka of the Seperatists, Master Bel Rof, and Padawan Askara Jento. And if any of you want to use them, ask me first.
Author's Note: Special Tactics Squad 1-17 consists of Chief (CT-1543), Thirteen (CT-1313), Whacker (CT-5505), Sabre (CT-6674), Falcon (CT-6675), Hunter (CT-4509), Pillar (CT-2552), and Cryo (CT-0104). Sergeant Kal Skirata was the primary training sergeant for STS/1-17.
Special Tactics Squad 1-17
"No Falling Back"
Formulca, Tarsis System
"We're nearing the battle zone now, sir," the clone pilot of the LAAT/i radioed back to the Jedi master in the troop bay.
"Good man," Master Bel Rof replied. The gray-haired human Jedi looked over the troop compartment of the troop transport. With him and his padawan were two squads of clone troopers. But these weren't any ordinary clones; nor were they the more independent Republic Commandos or the covert ops ARC troopers. These 16 clones were from the Grand Army of the Republic's Special Tactics Command. More independent than the regular clones, but less so than the RCs, STC clones were intended for special operations in support of the main army. Inserted into battle zones ahead of line combat units, STC clones were deployed in two-squad formations, up to a company in size. Like normal clones, STC clones had started with the Phase I armor; however, unlike the GAR or the RCs, STClones never upgraded the external appearance of their armor; each pair of ST squads had had a Mandalorian as their primary training sergeant. The Phase I armor was the closest in appearance to the Mandalorian armor, so STclones never changed that. Everything else was upgraded, though. The primary color of STC armor was a broken-patterned black-and-dark-gray scheme; secondary colors were used to individualize each squad.
"Alright, boys, we're five to dirt," Master Rof told them. He was informal with everyone who knew him, and the two squads with him - Special Tactics Squads 1-17 and 1-32 - had been his since he had learned of the GAR's existence. He despised the use of clones, not because he hated them, but because they were essentially a slave army that few other Jedi thought to question. He loved his soldiers like they were his own sons, and often placed himself in harm's way to ensure they survived. Because of this, they were willing to throw themselves into harm's way for him. As Thirteen of 1-17 had said, "He may be jetii by training, but he's Mando to us."
"You mean the ride's over?" asked CT-6675, Falcon. "But we didn't get our free in-flight movie."
"What would you know about an in-flight movie, free or otherwise?" retorted CT-5505, Whacker. "Your idea of a normal movie are those after-action mission vids from the GAR."
"Alright, can it, you di'kut," Master Rof said, smiling. His troopers appreciated that not only did he respect the culture they'd been given by Sergeant Kal Skirata, but that he'd willingly picked up Mando'a - as well as other aspects of the Mandalorian culture. "Gear check!" Immediately, the sixteen soldiers began disassembling and reassembling their weapons and supplies. Then they passed their gear over to a squadmate and disassembled then reassembled it. Then came an armor check. Their suits may look like Phase I models, but they were equipped with top-of-the-line electronics and systems. Everything checked out one hundred percent.
"Incoming fire, sir. Executing evasive manuevers." A pause. "Sir, we getting redeployment orders. Battalion command is requesting a drop on a Seperatists C-and-C facility, per your approval."
"Take us there, Hawx," Bel Rof replied.
"As you order, sir," the pilot replied. The LAAT/i began banking while evading the anti-air fire, heading towards where BatCom (Battalion Command) believed the Seperatist Command and Control Center to be. This mission would be better suited to a Commando unit, Bel thought. Then he caught sight of his padawan. "Are you alright, Askara?" he asked.
"I'm fine, Master," she replied, though the young human girl looked anything but. One of the clones from 1-17, Thirteen judging from the number painted onto his right shoulder pauldron, removed his helmet and cleared his throat. "Ma'am?" he said, drawing everyone's attention; Thirteen rarely spoke outside of the mission, so his speaking now drew everyone's attention. He held out a military-issue stim pack. "We all take one before a mission," he said softly. "Everyone knows clone pilots are crazy, and no one wants to lose it in their shabla helmet. Sorry for the language." It was the most he'd said at once, and everyone was surprised, even his squad brothers. The young Jedi smiled hesitantly and took the pack. "Thank you," she said to him. He shrugged and said, "J'hagwa na yoka." When the padawan looked confused, Thirteen looked to the side. "Sorry, Commander," he said. "It . . . basically means 'no problem.'"
"Oh," she said thoughtfully.
"It's Huttese, Commander," CT-1543, Chief, the leader of Squad 1-17, said. Before anyone could say or add anything more, a sharp bang! resonated throughout the troop compartment.
"Incoming fire is intensifying, General Rof," the clone pilot, Hawx, said calmly. "Oh, osik."
Just then a massive explosion shook the entire LAAT/i, knocking everyone against their restraints. Bel Rof knew what had happened, thanks to the Force; their pilot was dead. "Alright, everyone, we're executing an uncontrolled descent."
"Oh, I thought we were crashing," said CT-4509, Hunter.
"That's what he said, di'kut," replied Sabre.
"Brace for impact!" Rof yelled, three seconds before the flaming Republic Gunship slammed into the surface of Formulca at two-thirds its maximum speed.
Thirteen blinked, wondering when night had fallen. Then he realized his helmet was rebooting when his vision flickered and cleared. He groaned, then shook his head. He began taking stock on his condition, seeing if anything was broken or torn. To his surprise, he found that other than a sprained tendon in his left leg, he was fine.
"Good. You're awake," came a voice from his right, broken up by coughing. Looking, he saw it was General Rof.
"Sir!" he said in alarm, once he'd realized the Jedi's condition. His left arm had been ripped from his body, and what looked like a piece of the gunship's internal framework was embedded within his abdomen. Thirteen moved to grab his medpack, but was stopped by the general's wave.
"It's too late for me, Thirteen," he said, coughing up blood this time.
"I'm sorry, sir."
"You did nothing wrong, ad'ika," Bel Rof told him. Even if Thirteen had wanted to, he couldn't say a word. The general had just called him 'son'. Then it came to him.
"Jatne'buir darasuum," he said softly, which was Mando'a for 'best father forever'. Bel's eyes widened in surprise and became misty. He shakily reached up a bloody hand and laid it upon Thirteen's shoulder.
"If I knew the words," Bel said in a faint, croaking voice, "I would adopt all of you as my sons, though it isn't the Jedi way."
"That you want to is enough, Bel'buir," Thirteen replied. Then, sensing that the general didn't have much time left, he decided to say something that Sergeant Kal had taught his original squad. "Bal kote, darasuum kote, Jorso'ran kando a tome. Sa kyr'am Nau tracyn kad, Vode an. And glory, eternal glory, We shall bear its weight together. Forged like the saber in the fires of death, Brothers all."
A spark came into the Jedi master's eyes then, before life left them altogether.
"You did right, vod'ika," Hunter said from behind him.
"He deserved more," Thirteen replied, grabbing the Jedi's lightsaber before standing up. Taking his vibroblade, he carefully carved the Jedi's name into the hilt before clipping it to his combat gear. "Ni su'cuyi, gar kyr'adyc, ni partayli, gar darasuum, Bel Rof," he said. When he looked at Hunter, he saw a nod of approval. It made him feel better. "I remember all who leave."
"One more thing, ner vod," Hunter said. He took out what looked like thermite tape from a pouch on his combat harness, but this was smaller and much thinner. Thirteen didn't move as his brother placed a transplas membrane on his left shoulder pauldron over hee bloody handprint Bel Rof had left on his left shoulder pauldron, then traced it with that odd thermite tape. Hunter triggered it, and there was a split-second bright flash. When Thirteen looked, he saw that the handprint had been literally sealed into his armor. Looking at his brother, he nodded.
"Let's take him to the others," Hunter said, motioning for Thirteen to pick up the Jedi's body. Hunter took the lead, and decided to answer his brother's unasked questions. "Squad One-Thirty-Second didn't make it," he said sadly. "Their side of the larty took most of the impact. The commander made it, though, as did the rest of our brothers. More for you to remember."
"To never be forgotten," Thirteen corrected. "The commander."
"She's young," Hunter replied. "Inexperienced, even as a jetii. Uncertain. But Chief says she is like ti'haar, if you understand his meaning." Thirteen clicked his comm once to indicate he understood; according to Bel Rof, ti'haar was an alcholic drink distilled from fruits until it became a strong, clear spirit. Which was what Chief meant when he said that.
"Tough?" he asked.
They remained silent until they reached the impromptu camp that had been set up in the shadow what was left of the gunship. Askara Jento came out to meet them, followed by Chief and the rest of Squad 1-17. Hunter and Thirteen gently and reverently laid down the fallen Jedi's body. Thirteen took Bel Rof's lightsaber off of his harness, hesitated slightly, then held out to the young padawan. She looked at it, then him, then back to the lightsaber. Reaching up, she gently pushed it back to him. Even she hadn't possessed the Force, Thirteen's surprise was evident.
"Keep it," she said softly. "He would have wanted you to." She looked at her dead master. "Chief told me you are considered the squad's 'remembrancer', that you never forget the dead you know."
"Always remembered, never to be forgotten," Thirteen said quietly. Hooking the lightsaber back to his harness, he was again surprised when she held out her hand. In it were eight namechips; the ones that were found on the front of clone armor. They only gave the clone's number, as that was how the Kaminoans saw them, but Thirteen could recall each name.
"I got these for you, too," she whispered. He reached out and, one by one, took them and slipped them into a special compartment on his belt. "I'm too young for this," she said quietly, grabbing all eight of the clones' attention. "I know I am. I don't have any experience for a situation like this. All I can promise is to do my best." Chief doffed his helmet, and the other seven followed suit.
"Ma'am," he said, meeting her gaze squarely, "that's all any of us can do."
They wouldn't leave their brothers, or Bel Rof, for the Seperatists to find, but they couldn't take them with them, nor did they have time to bury them. It was the padawan who came up with the suggestion. They placed all of the bodies in the wreckage of the gunship, set thermal detonators on the intact fuel tanks, and blew it into a crude but somehow fitting funeral pyre. Thirteen performed his ritual as the remnants of the gunship detonated, adding eight more names to his list. It was as they set out to link up with Republic forces on-planet that they got the transmission.
"To all GAR personnel. We are withdrawing off-world. CIS forces are too strong for our current strength. We have called for reinforcements, but have no estimate on an arrival time. All GAR personnel are to fall back to Rally Point Alpha-Gamma-Sigma-Niner-Seven."
Then the transmission repeated twice more before falling silent. Squad 1-17 looked at Chief, who in turn looked at the young padawan.
"Commander?" he said.
"What?" she asked, swallowing a lump in her throat.
"Command has ordered us to fall back as part of a general retreat. But we will follow your orders, whatever they may be."
"How can you have such faith in me? Such trust?" she asked. They all looked at Thirteen, and Askara followed suit. He simply reached up to touch Bel Rof's lightsaber. She seemed to understand the gesture, and nodded. To outsiders, the padawan's change in posture wouldn't have been very evident. But to clones who had been raised together, who had learned to interpret every minute gesture and facial change, it was as obvious as a flare in the dark. Her back straightened, her shoulders shifted back, and her expression hardened.
"Buckets off," she said quietly. Not one of them questioned her; they removed their helmets. Looking each one of them in the eye, her gaze came to rest on Thirteen. He intuited her command before she spoke it, and straightened up, nodding to her. A faint smile appeared on her face as she said:
"No falling back."
Author's Note: So that's it. The first installment of my first non-Teen Titans fanfic. Please review it so I can know if y'all liked it.