“Okay, so we are now away from Mandalore,” Lightning says. “Pity we couldn’t bring the sarge with us.”
“He would have been shot on sight for being a Mandalorian,” Hunter reasons. “That’s what he was probably scared of.”
“Come on!” Tracyn scoffs. “The Mandalorians were the ones that trained us. Why would they shoot one of their commanders?”
“But they aren’t commanders,” Aranar states. “They were effectively castaways when the Jedi came to Kamino to collect us. Never even brought along for the ride.”
“Or invited,” Tracyn says.
“And the history does state that Mandalorians once hunted Jedi,” Hunter informs. “Maybe still do. They hated the Kaminoans enough.”
“Who couldn’t hate the Kaminoans though?”
“Coming up on Corsin,” Lightning informs. “And boy do they seem to have picked up some traffic.”
“How?” Hunter asks, instantly back on task.
“A lot of ships from two points, but not moving anywhere, with anyone straying far from the restricted routes getting a missile up the tailpipe.”
“What?” the other three clones shout.
“I’m guessing one thing,” Lightning says.
“Invasion and occupation,” Hunter finishes.
“This is an unmarked shuttle, isn’t it?” Tracyn asks.
“Yes,” Lightning replies. “Why?”
“Take a look at the rear view screen.”
Crowding around it, the four look at the screen and see a blue triangular craft. It was closer than any of them would have liked, and was following them.
“If the planet is occupied by the Seps, we really don’t want to go crashing down there for them to find us like this, do we? “Aranar asks.
“With all our armour?” Hunter questions. “You’re mad if you do.”
“Let’s just see what happens first,” Lightning calls. “Going straight around the planet to avoid the Seps.”
Speeding around the edge of the planet, close to the gravitational pull, was the best was to both avoid the Seps and continue on to the Hydian Way hyperspace route.
The triangular shaped craft behind them decided they didn’t need to reach the hyperspace route however. Firing a blast, it strikes the shuttles engines.
“Armour off! Now!” Hunter shouts, as the shuttle angles down and starts shaking its way through the atmosphere.
Part 2 [30/3/13]
The clones start stripping off their armour plates, trying to keep balanced with the bucking of the shuttle. Lastly, the clones place their helmets in the seats and Aranar hunts down spare clothes for the four of them. The good thing about an army of clones was you only had to stock one size.
Clothes equally distributed, the clones removed their black bodysuits and pulled on their new clothes, difficult under the current situation.
"Angling- the ship- for a smoother descent," Lightning gasps. "And hopefully we won't die when we crash."
"That's heavy," Tracyn says.
"But it's a risk we have to take," Hunter remarks. "Now then. Helmets. All data needs to be wiped from them."
The four clones take their helmets and start wiping the memory of them. Tapping the keys within them, the data is quickly wiped.
"Now then. Quickly. We need somewhere to store all this kit."
"The locker," Aranar states. "Tracyn - with me. We can take it together and store it then lock it. Hopefully no-one else will be able to get at it."
Tracyn and Aranar pick up the armour and helmets and walk to the back of the shuttle. Hunter looks out at the viewscreen as Lightning straps in to the pilot seat.
"Tell Aranar to find some other helmets or sun visors. If we need to pass this off, four of the same faces will just give the game away," Lightning orders. "And tell them to get strapped in. One minute until crashdown."
"Considering I'm meant to be in charge, I'll let you off due to the fact we're about crash and possibly die." Hunter then runs off to the back of the shuttle, and all three clones return after half a minute, rushing into seats and strapping themselves in.
All four stare blankly at the viewscreen, Lightning wrestling with the control yoke to bring them in for as smooth a landing as possible. But inside their heads, they are all thinking the same thing. The inevitabilty that death was so near.
The shuttle smashes into the ground.
Part 3 [17/4/13]
The smoke rose on the far off distance of the hills and forest. It had flew down with smoke trailing from it, and small corrections had been made occasionally to keep it on course and give it the best opportunity of landing.
If there was one thing he knew, it was that only military would be able to keep it stable and make the least amount of impact on landing. And no Separatist forces were operating in this system, beside themselves. So they had to be Republic. But this was only a guess.
The guards operating in the sky were known to make mistakes occasionally. This could have been a simple civilian of this world, panicking and fleeing, only to get shot down when not complying. But like he had said, a civilian would have been killed in the landing, and reports would show the shuttle had exploded.
Another thing it could have been were pirates, and if it were, they would be destroyed fully. There was no need for pirates here, and they would only bring the Republic here if they were let go. Pirates were notorious for giving information for the right price. They were famous for it.
There was always the off-chance it could have been a passerby from another system. This was a planet of high demand, and it was taken because the Republic didn't have a foothold in this entire sector. And that was a good thing, as no Republic forces would even be passing by.
There was the chance though, that lost Republic forces had taken an easy way back home. A dangerous way, but quick and easy nonetheless. And if these were Republic forces, no matter how small, they must be dealt with.
Cleanly, and quickly.
"Well," says a clipped Serenno accent, "Are you ready for your first real test?"
Part 4 [16/5/13]
"Hunter? You alright?"
Lightning groans as he struggles to release the straps. looking next to him, he sees Hunter trying to do the same. Both then cough and turn to look behind them. Neither Tracyn or Aranar were in their seats.
Getting fed up with the straps, both clones rip them from the seats. They automatically see Tracyn and Aranar clutching the back frames of their chairs, and in their other hand is the strap that must have been ripped from the chair.
"Now I understand why we should never take our armour off in tight situations like that," Aranar gasps.
"Just count yourself lucky to still be alive," Hunter remarks.
"And it's a good thing we decided to change now rather than later," Lightning says, who was leaning over the control board to see through the side of the viewscreen.
"And why would that be?" Hunter asks, as he helps both Tracyn and Aranar up.
"Because whoever's controlling those droids hasn't wasted any time in bringing them here."
Hunter walks up and lightly moves Lightning out of the way. Looking out at the same position, all he says is "Shab."
"That bad then," Tracyn states.
"Well we can't fight our way through like normal," Hunter says. "This is more Separatist space than Koru Neimoidia is, simply because they are actually here now. And if I'm not mistaken, one of their heads will be here to oversee the operation."
"Could be good," Lightning says. "But what exactly are we going to do?"
"Well, I asked for head gear to cover our faces, and our helmets' data removed so-"
"Oh, you are not even considering that," Aranar exclaims.
"He is," Tracyn matter-of-factly states. "You can tell."
"Well, why not?" Hunter questions. "It's not like they could use the armour. And if we could track it down later, when we make our escape we can grab the armour as we go."
"So long as we can track it down, and as long as it doesn't get moved to another area. Or worse, another planet."
"It's a risk we're going to have to take. Now get that head gear."
A knock on the hull then draws all four heads to turn to look at the hatch.
"Open up if you're in there," a Battle Droid calls. "If you don't open within a minute we will blast our way in."
Part 5 [25/6/13]
The droid knocks again. "Thirty seconds until we blast our way in," it then shouts through the metal of the shuttle. It then steps back.
"Are we really going to shoot our way in if they don't answer?" another Battle Droid speaks up. "They might be civilians."
"There is no-one in there except for clones. That's why the shuttle was shot down in the first place. And even if they aren't clones, they are still Republic personnel anyway."
"Cool your jets," a voice floats through the hull. "We're only after some work."
The ramp of the shuttle lowers as much as it can and four people in assorted head gear are standing at the top.
"Come down here," the Battle Droid commander commands.
The four walk down the ramp, and as soon as they reach the bottom, droids surround them with weapons pointed.
"Check the shuttle out," the commander instructs the remaining two droids, which then run up the ramp.
"The only thing you'll find in there is a load of Republic equipment," one of the captured men say. "We were planning on selling it, but if this is the way the Separatists treat their clientele, we might just go somewhere else."
"Hmm... Merchants?" the commander asks.
"Yeah," the same person says with a suggestive tone. "Merchants. We specialise in battlefields."
"Where did you come from?"
The man doesn't reply straight away, instead cocking his head to one side as if thinking. "Malastare."
The two droids in the shuttle then come out with all the equipment the men had stated was in there.
"We'll take them and this lot back to base. You two stand guard."
Two Battle Droids split from the group guarding the men to take the equipment from the droids now standing guard. Then the march to the base in the city began.
Over the hills that surrounded the city, only the top of the highest tower could be seen from the hill's summit. At the peak though, all of the city could be seen. A sprawling complex of low quality houses on the outside, with the quality of those houses getting greater the nearer one got to the central tower, which was the governmental building. Or as it was now, the Separatist stronghold of the entire city, and soon, then entire planet.
Part 6 [25/6/13]
Upon reaching the tower, the droids file into a lift, which gets crowded with all of them and the four prisoners.
Dooku thought of them as prisoners as that's what they would become. The droids must have fallen for whatever story they had given, and he couldn't wait to hear it. He'd play along, agree with them, then somehow force them to go to the forests.
He'd already dismissed Greivous by filling him in on the plan. Now it was just a matter of getting it to work.
The doors opened and the Battle Droid commander walks forward. Following it out of the lift were a group of six other Battle Droids surrounding a group of four men in assorted head gear. This head gear covered their faces, and that was why the Battle Droids hadn't uncovered them for what they were.
"Well, what have we here?" Dooku asks.
"These were the people in the shuttle that was shot down," the Battle Droid commander says. "Battlefield merchants. They had a lot of Republic equipment on them, including weapons, that are being processed elsewhere."
"Battlefield merchants, eh? And where were they last searching?"
Dooku laughs in his mind. Battle Droids could be dumb indeed. To have come here from Malastare, they'd have had to come half way across the galaxy. Only a Battle Droid would be dumb enough to be in the military and not know that. Still, he'd play along. He had to.
"Malastare, you say... A hot bed for a war if ever I knew one. Now then. If you need more work, I can offer some."
"No thanks. I'm good," the Battle Droid commander replies.
"I was talking to the group of men. Not you."
"Well, if you have anything going, I'm sure we'd love to. As soon as we get paid for-"
"Oh, not to worry," Dooku interupts. "I'm sure the payment will be sorted by the time you get back from this job."
"Fine. We'll accept. What is it?"
"There was a battle on this planet not so long ago, between some locals. They have taken refuge in the forests to the east, and have taken some of our supplies. Since this is a small operation, we haven't had time or resources to look ourselves. You are the perfect opportunity we have been looking for."
"We'll head out right away. But what are you doing on th-"
"If you are indeed battlefield merchants, those are not questions you really should be asking," Dooku warns. He then calls to the Battle Droid commander "Escort them out and show them to the eastern forests."
Dooku waited until the four clones were led out of the room and back in the lift before activating a communication to the two guards of the shuttle the clones arrived in.
"Destroy that shuttle fully so it is not flyable at all and report back to base."