Ten Minute Tales #2

Star Wars: First In, Last Out

A Clone Wars Story

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Star Wars, or anything related to it. The characters mentioned in this short tale are, with the exception of Mace Windu, mine. The Ten-Minute Tale concept was created by The Dude Person, and he has given me permission to put up the TMTs I've written. If you're curious about the Ten-Minute Tale concept, send him a message asking about it; I'd explain it here but as it's his concept it would be better for him to explain it.

A branch twitched slightly, as though stirred by the passing of one of the world's small, indigeneous fauna. However, that was not the case in this instance; this time, it was due to the passage of a clone soldier in Advanced Recon Force kit. That soldier was followed by another, and another, in a line of clone scouts making careful, thorough, and yet swift progress through the dense forest. Their armor was painted in random yet calculated patterns of orange, rust red, and sapphire blue; the better to blend into the world underneath the forest canopy. They were Karfa Squad of Krayat Company, argubly the best scouts in the entire 1249th Battalion.

And they proved it yet again as the 36-trooper squad's point man froze and held up a closed fist. Not one soldier moved until the point man had opened his hand and slowly waved it forward. As the squad began cautiously moving again, its sergeant began carefully dispersing Karfa Squad into six six-man teams. DC-15 rifles - and even some rare DC-16 carbines - were readied.

"Sergeant, Point Team," came a whispered comm over a tightbeam transmission.

"Point Team, go," the sergeant replied.

"We . . . have a situation, sarge."

"Report."

"We have a visual on a Sep base," was the reply. "Lots of clankers, tanks, and even a few squadrons of droid bombers."

"Can you confirm that?"

"I'll drop in for some chow and ask them, though I don't think they'll be too happy to me."

"This is not good," the sergeant said. "Numbers on the clankers?"

"The entire company would be outnumbered ten-to-one, sarge. At least."

"Karfa Squad, regroup and fall back to the rendevouz point. We'll inform Captain Fenn-"

"Clankers! On our six!" called out a clone trooper before a super battle droid put several dozen bolts of coherent light into his torso armor.

Jedi Knight Arayn Talkay stood outside the prefabricated structure that served as Krayat Company's on-world headquarters. Through the Force, the twi'lek Jedi sensed the approach of Captain Fenn, Krayat Company's commanding officer. Though in command of the entire 1249th Battalion, Krayat was the company she'd stuck with during her tour as the battalion's 'Jedi general.'

"Captain Fenn," she said as the building's door opened.

"General Talkay," he replied, his ARF helmet tucked under one arm. "I have some . . . disquieting news, ma'am."

"Karfa Squad hasn't reported in yet," she answered for him.

"Affirmative, General," Fenn confirmed. "They're only five standard minutes past check-in time, though."

"But they're always prompt about that," Arayn added for him. "You believe they've run into trouble."

"I'm sure they have, General. They are the best scouts I have-"

"-but they aren't equipped for heavy combat," finished Commander Nor, the ARC trooper Master Windu had attached to the 1249th.

"We can't spare another squad right now," Arayn said reluctantly, her desire to go after the missing squad evident to the two clones who had learned how to read the minutest facial tics.

"You can spare me," Nor said, locking his helmet into place and readying his Cyclone Rifle - a weapon similar to the DC-16 carbine but having a triple rotary barrel, extended stock, and double-sized power packs. Saluting Arayn Talkay and Captain Fenn, he sprinted out of the firebase as fast as he could move, following along Karfa Squad's patrol route.

Moving as fast as he was, it still took Commander Nor one standard hour until he heard blaster fire. Moving quicker, he came across a group of battle droids. "Party time!" he shouted, letting loose with his Cyclone. He'd taken out ten, as well as a single SBD, when Karfa Squad stumbled through the resulting gap.

"There you boys are!" he said. "You missed lunch."

"We overstayed our welcome," Karfa's sergeant said, "but they insisted."

"Fall back now; I've got you covered," Nor told them.

"Move it!" shouted Nor, slapping in the last power pack for his Cyclone and blasting a just-unfolded destroyer droid. Karfa squad had lost eleven troopers by the time Nor had reached them, and the fighting withdrawal back towards friendly lines had cost them seven more - half their strength now lost. That droideka, though, was the last of the closest units.

Or so they thought until two more Karfa ARFs died from blaster bolts fired by commando droids.

"Cover fire!" the ARC commander shouted, switching his Cyclone to full and scything it over the heads of Karfa Squad. "Sergeant! You and the rest of the boys fall back now! I've got these clankers!" Nor tossed aside his now depleted Cyclone and drew his twin DC-17 blaster pistols as five commando droids dropped into view; Karfa Squad vanished into the forest. Inside his custom helmet, Nor grinned and holsted one pistol - only to draw his vibrosword and thumb its power switch.

"Alright, you piles of scrap metal! Let me show you how to dance!"

Hours later, after Krayat Company had launched a spoiling attack against the Sep base and called in an air strike on it, the sixteen surviving members of Karfa Squad led General Talkay, Captain Fenn, and the rest of Krayat Company towards the last known position of ARC Commander Nor. What they found was a battlefield. Pieces of droids practically covered the forest floor; there were enough parts to account for five commando droids as well as few dozen battle droids. In the middle of it all was Commander Nor. He was down on both knees, arms slack at his sides. His DC-17 pistol and vibrosword were still loosely clutched in his hands. His armor was holed in multiple places, and his once white armor was stained red with his blood. On either side of him were the bodies of the two clones the commando droids had killed.

"He fought hard," Fenn said quietly. "One ARC trooper against five commando droids, three SBDs, and a dozen and a half battle droids. Why would an ARC fight so hard when he could've escaped?"

"He fought for his fallen comrades," Arayn said with absolute conviction. "He fought to make sure that Karfa got that intelligence back to us, and to protect the bodies of his slain brothers. He was the first one in, and made sure he was the last one out."