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 Back-Up Needed"

Formulca, Tarsis System

"We'll have to stick to short-range comms, Commander," Chief said, his helmet tucked under his arm. "SOP."

"I . . . I guess that makes sense," Askara replied a little hesitantly.

"Comm detection," Sabre spoke up. "Short-range tactical comms are hard to track and eavesdrop on."

"Oh," the young padawan said as she realized what they both meant. "Okay, I get it. If we use the comms over long-distances, someone could, um . . ."

"Triangulate, ma'am," Cryo suggested helpfully.

"Right," she said sheepishly. "Someone could triangulate us. We should move out, right? I mean, someone probably saw the gunship go down, and then the explosion, so there probably are droids on the way."

All eight of the clones were looking at her. Considering that she hadn't had any military training, and that she was - by her own admission - inexperienced in such matters, that was a rather astute and on-point observation.

"Right, ma'am," Chief said. "Squad, buckets on." The eight clones put their helmets back on. "Check gear." Askara watched, entranced, as 'her' troopers reviewed their gear quickly yet efficiently. Chief, Sabre, and Falcon each carried what looked like a cut-down DC-15 as their primary weapon, it looked less bulky in addition to being shorter. Hunter carried a gun she wasn't familiar with. When he noticed her confused look, he said, "Ceejay-fifty concussion rifle. Good piece of kit." She simply nodded in answer. She was intensely curious about, but knew they didn't have the time for an explanation; Master Rof said her curiosity was both a blessing and a curse. Pillar, she saw, used a normal DC-15, but carried what she thought were explosives on his webbing. And probably in his pack, she realized. Cryo carried a grenade launcher of some kind, it seemed. Whacker carried an obvious weapon: a Z-6 rotary blaster, along with a DC-17 pistol. In fact, all of Squad 1-17 carried the DC-17. Thirteen, though, carried a pair of them, along with three vibroknives, a vibroblade, and a DC-17m with two attachments.

"That's, um, that's a lot of weapons," Askara said hesitantly.

"Each one has a story, ma'am," Thirteen replied quietly.

"Would you tell me, later? If there's time?"

The heavily-armed clone soldier looked up at her, and she could sense the slight smile he was wearing under that helmet. "If there's time," he agreed. Once the squad was finished inspecting their weapons, equipment, and supplies, they paired up into four two-man teams: Chief and Thirteen, Whacker and Sabre, Falcon and Hunter, and then Pillar and Cryo. Chief and Thirteen took point, Pillar and Cryo took rear, and the other two fire teams guarded the flanks; Askara decided to walk in the middle, since she only carried her lightsaber, which was useless in a long-range fight. I don't want to get any of them killed, she told herself. She drifted back until she was close to Pillar and Cryo.

"What should I do?" she asked them.

"Keep an eye out," Pillar suggested. Cryo agreed.

"I imagine that your Jedi powers can find wets - organics - pretty good," he said.

"Well, I'm still learning but I think I can do that," she said.

"That's the spirit, Commander," Cryo reassured her.

"I'll keep quiet until it's safe to talk," she replied, "since I don't have a bucket."

The two clones nodded, a little more impressed with their young commnader. They looked at each other slightly then refocused their attention on their surroundings. She may be a kid, but she learns fast. Which she'll have to.

Thankfully, it had been after local sunset when 1-17, with their Jedi commander, had awakened and regrouped. When they moved out, it was full-dark, so the custom color configuration of the squad's armor blended in much easier than solid black would have. The only drawback was the brown and tan robes Askara wore. But she learned about moving stealthily from watching the clones, and she had sufficient control over the Force to actually hide herself from a person's awareness. Her squad could see her there, of course, but they found that they had to focus on her to remain aware of her; if they tried to keep her within their situational awareness, they found that it was almost like she wasn't there.

"That's just creepy, ner vod," Hunter whispered.

"I think it's kandosii," Falcon replied just as softly. They may have been wearing their helmets and using short-range comms, but training and old habits died hard. Up ahead, Thirteen stopped and raised a clenched fist. Everyone, including Askara, froze in place. Thirteen had been further ahead than Chief was, as he was the squad's main scout and had an instinct for walking point. He moved his arm horizontal to the ground and changed his hand to a flattened palm. Immediately, the whole squad scattered and hit the ground, although Askara was a second slower since she wasn't too familiar with the hand-signals the squad used. For a few minutes, no one heard anything. Then came the familiar clanking of battle droids.

"Thirteen, numbers," Chief whispered. Thirteen didn't answer right away; he was moving closer to the droids to get the answer.

"Double column, platoon strength," he whispered. "Wet present, Rodian."

Askara crawled up to where Chief was lying. "What's going on?" she asked quietly.

"Tinnies, Commander," he replied. At her blank look, he said, "Droids."

"Will Thirteen be okay?" she asked. "Shouldn't we back him up?"

"One moment, ma'am." Chief activated his comm. "Thirteen, heading."

"Towards the pyre," he replied. "No sign the wet knows we're here."

"Ma'am, we have a choice right now," Chief told her. "The droids are heading towards the crash site. We can either let them go and learn that there may have been survivors, or we can slot - kill - them now and avoid giving ourselves away."

"Droids usually need a-a wet in charge, right?" Askara asked, trying to use their term for organics. Chief nodded.

"If the patrol finds the crash site, we could be in trouble," she whispered slowly. "If we take them out now, the Seperatists will have to send a new patrol out, right?"

"Troch," Chief replied. "Sorry, ma'am. It's mando'a for 'certainly.'"

"I have a lot to learn, don't I?" she asked. Before he could answer, she said, "Let's take them down."

"Yes, ma'am," he said. Then, to Thirteen, "Ner vod, kote."

"Hukaat'kama," was the soft-spoken reply.

"Darasuum," Chief whispered, echoed by their brothers. Without a word, they spread out into an ambush formation. Askara stuck close to Chief, even though she wouldn't be much good in a ranged fight. As she watched them move into position, she found herself envying them not only their certainty and trust in each other, but the sense of belonging she could pick up from them through the Force. I wish I had that with the other Jedi, she thought.

"On your orders, ma'am," Chief whispered to her, startling her.

"M-My orders? But . . . I'm not . . ."

"Trust yourself, ma'am," he told her. "You have the Force."

Like Thirteen, she could sense that he had faith in her, and trusted her not to let them down. Nodding, she took a deep breath, held it, and let it out slowly. As she did, she cleared her mind and let her senses expand. She pinpointed where the squad was, where the Rodian commanding the droid platoon was at, and could, somewhat, sense the droids themselves. Everyone was all set and simply waiting for her order. She waited, letting the Force guide her.

"Tracyn," she said softly, unconsciously speaking some mando'a she'd picked up from Master Rof. Though surprised, Chief obeyed the order and passed it to his brothers over their helmet comms. Immediately, a single shot rang out as Thirteen used his DC-17m's sniper attachment to take out the Rodian. The droids paused for a moment as their limited processors switched to an automatic mode. During that one moment, the rest of Squad 1-17 opened fire. Within seconds, half of the droids were destroyed or crippled. Thirteen switched to his twin DC-17 pistols and opened fire on the rest of the droids - from in their midst. Taking fire from five different directions now, the remaining droids lasted only a few moments longer than their comrades. Ejecting the spent power packs from his blasters, Thirteen hooked fresh ones in and holstered them. As he walked back to his brothers and commander, no one noticed the battle droid rising up behind him.

But Askara did. Getting a split-second warning through the Force, she telekinetically shoved Thirteen out of the way as she threw her now-activated lightsaber through the space he'd been occupying. The glowing orange blade sank into the battle droid's plastron, causing it to shiver and tremble before collapsing back to the ground. All eight clones looked at their commander, then to the droid, and back to her.

"Vor'e, vod'ika," Thirteen said.

"Kandosii," Saber said softly.

"With our vod'ika here," Pillar said, clapping an arm across Askara's shoulders, "there's no back-up needed."

Chief nodded and held out a hand. Hesitantly grasping it, she returned the handshake he gave her.

"Welcome to the squad, Commander," he said.

Author's Note: And here's the next chapter. I hope y'all liked it. Let me know what you guys think.