Mommy Knows Best
This chapter manages to achieve not one but two things that I was hoping to accomplish. I originally misread the information on the growth of the Kaminoan clones, making the chapter set on Drongar wildly inaccurate at best. It's still possible to work things out with established in-universe information, though - while simultaneously setting up something I was going to use as a plot later - so I'm going to be doing that over this chapter and the next. Also, the CGI series debuted after both my original batch of chapters and the '09 additions. So this chapter will help serve to anchor my events within that aspect of the Star Wars
universe as well: the third season, episodes one and two to be precise.
Following close behind Taun We, Cordelia looked around curiously as she was led between two rows of glass tubes, similar but not quite identical to the cloning cylinders she'd seen all over Tipoca City. Here in neighboring Timira City, though, everything seemed a bit… darker. The lighting was a bit dimmer and had a distinct blue tint to it, the rooms were darker shades of grey, the cloning equipment seemed a bit more primitive with cables and tubes snaking every which way along the floor… it all seemed so very ominous and secretive. A bit like Taun We herself at the moment. "…through various shell corporations, we have spent the last decade or so acquiring a sizable quantity of cloning cylinders from Spaarti Creations, along with some of the best flash training equipment currently made by Arkanian Microtechnologies."
"And if I was Fred, this might actually be interesting but…" Cordelia sighed as Taun We eyed her. "…right, nobody in this universe knows who Fred is. Reference fail. Okay, just substitute 'Anakin Skywalker' for 'Fred' and you'll get where I was going with this. My point is that as fascinating as this undoubtedly is to geeks, I'm not one. What does it have to do with anything, why are you showing it to me, et cetera and so on and so forth."
Taun We spread her arms wide, gesturing to the softly burbling tanks that surrounded them on all sides. "Simply put, Master Jedi? It takes us a standard decade to produce each clonetrooper. While the war may very well still be going on a decade from now, taking so long to deliver the first of your clones - especially given their intended use - is simply unacceptable to us. And so while we will begin standard production of a limited number of standard clones using your genetic material, we would like permission for primary replication to take place using the Spaarti cylinders we have available to us."
While she hadn't been able to find information on the planet Kamino, Cordelia had been able to dredge the Jedi Archives for a great deal of information about cloning, both Kaminoan and other. Evidently whoever had removed the location of Kamino from the archives hadn't thought to touch the biology section. Unlike the traditional Kaminoan process, where the clones were born and grew at double speed but still needed to be raised, educated, and trained, the Spaarti cylinders could produce a full-grown clone in a tenth that time. The main drawback to that process, though, was… "Which means giving you a copy of my mind, too."
"It is… if not a necessity, then highly preferable, yes. Their medical and military training will come from outside memories drawn from highly-qualified individuals, but unless you willingly donate your own memories and personality, we will be faced two equally undesirable alternatives." Showing that she had indeed been spending considerable time around humans, Taun We held up one finger. "The first is that we will find another human female your age to serve as the neural template. If we pursue this option, the clones will look like you but act quite differently, and likely will never gain control over their fledgling connection to the Force." Her other finger rose. "Or, if you are unwilling to cooperate and no suitable alternative donor can be found, we can add the most basic semantic memories to the flash training covering other necessities. It will leave them… cold. Mechanical. Almost droid-like in a single-minded execution of their duties. Soulless, if you believe in such a concept. Little better than the droids they were conceived to replace, at least until they gained considerable life experience."
Eww. Pass. On both counts; as weird as it would be to be surrounded by clones of her who acted just like her would be, Cordelia was pretty sure that clones of her who acted like some random girl would be even more disconcerting. Although both of those options were infinitely preferable to the prospect of a hundred thousand copies of her who contracted a bad case of Summer Glau… oh, that was mean. True, but mean. But yeah, the idea of what were essentially fleshy robot hers? Super creepy. "A mind like this doesn't come cheap, I hope you know…"
"I am certain we can come to some sort of arrangement, Master Jedi…"
"I'm going to press the attack, Master."
"No, Anakin, wait. It's too easy. Not even Grievous would attack so recklessly."
"Master, the battle's up here in space. Not down there."
"Just because you want to feel relevant doesn't make that true, Emokin." Turning away from the plotting board displaying the various debris strikes and their proximity to Tipoca City, Cordelia frowned. "Master Kenobi is right. The debris is too even to be completely natural space trash, but it's not being aimed directly at us. Just near us. Someone is up to something."
Nodding, Obi-Wan Kenobi pushed off of the edge of the holoprojector currently crowded with blue wireframe representations of the planet, its defenders, and the invading fleet. "Glad to know I'm not going crazy, Jedi Chase. Or crazier, rather. But no, the debris from the destroyed Separatist ships is the key to everything, I'm sure of it." After reaching up to stroke his beard a few times, he shot Shaak Ti a grin. "I think… I'd like to go for a swim."
Cordelia rolled her eyes. Considering Jedi weren't supposed to crave adventure and excitement, they seemed awful fond of doing things the hard way just for the sake of being the ones doing them. Bringing her hand up to her left ear, she toggled the DH42 headcomm they'd recently integrated into her increasingly complex armored tiara. "Hiskari? You have a go." Receiving confused looks from the two masters in the command center with her, Cordelia shrugged. "We're looking at the invasion of a water world here, people. They make waterproof droids. What are the odds the Separatists don't have them? Especially considering they have every other kind of droid known to man in their army? So when we started prepping for an attack, Hiskari put a second crystal into her lightsaber so it'd have a… hang on, she said it enough times, I know this. Bifurcating cyclical-ignition pulse? Making it waterproof? And the techs here helped me put together… well, it's basically a rescue can with a motor strapped to each side. Works on the surface and underwater too. I think she broke forty with it the other night while practicing."
"And I dare say a five foot tall Nautolan with… whatever this is you've invented… has a much higher chance of going undetected than a submarine. Ingenious." Bringing his wrist up, Obi-Wan toggled his own comlink. "Anakin, we'll have eyes on target soon. Prepare to disengage and return to the surface if necessary."
Speaking of reinforcements… Cordelia reached up and fiddled with her headcomm, rotating the secondary transmitter array to a specific frequency so she could check on another project of hers while she waited for her girlfriend to report back. Four hours ago, a very special LAAT/i had departed Tipoca City under her direction, carrying Barriss and a squad of ARC troopers. If things were about to start getting nasty… "Queen C
, this is Cordelia Prime. Location and ETA?"
There was a crackle of static, a pop, and then… her own voice came back across the channel at her. "One of the Timira City hangars, current ETA unknown. My sisters and I are sitting here with a few gallons of paint thinner trying to scrub the nose of the ship clean, because there's no way we're going to be seen riding in this thing as-is. Seriously, Mom, naming a ship after yourself is narcissistic enough. Was the nose art really necessary?"
And so it began. But while the Jedi - and most of the rest of this galaxy, even - were confounded by her behavior and unsure of how to handle her, Cordelia was well-versed in the art of subjugating and training minions. Granted it had been literally a lifetime since she'd had to do it and so she was a little rusty, but she figured it'd all come back to her quickly enough. "It's not my fault you guys have a hot mom. Oh wait. It is. Oh well. Although the nose art seriously isn't my fault; the clones painted up a dozen different Larties with designs based on me before I even got here. I just picked the best one of the bunch and had it renamed." There was some muted grumbling from the other end and then a chime indicating activity on the other frequency she was monitoring. "Seriously, though, I didn't send Barriss over to wake you because I wanted to be beside myself. Actual location and ETA?"
"Over a whole bunch of water. Five minutes out according to Colt."
"Thank you." Cordelia rolled her eyes as she flipped back over to the channel Hiskari was on. "Go ahead."
When Hiskari spoke, her voice had a slightly 'off' quality to it; Cordelia wasn't sure whether it was due to the fact that her girlfriend was wearing a comlink that utilized a laryngophone, talking to her from deep underwater, or both. Something to experiment with later, perhaps? "Not sure on the final tally yet because the pieces are still falling, but I'm counting a dozen Trident
-class assault ships so far and they're still going. There are aqua droids deployed to weld them back together and I have no idea what's being carried inside the ships but I imagine 'droids' is a fairly safe bet. I…" There was a pause and then several muffled oaths in what Cordelia was pretty sure was Anselmian. "They're starting to move out. Was 'how to defend from an underwater assault' covered in a briefing I missed, or are we in serious trouble?"
"We've got it, sweetie. Just hang tight, watch for a gap, and escape when you can. Cordelia out."
Grunting, Havoc hooked his hands under the arms of one of his fallen brothers and began pulling him backward towards cover as streaks of blue and red continued to fly past over his head. He'd already radioed for an IM-6 to be dispatched to their location, but if they couldn't clear out the unfriendlies before it got here, he knew the droid's self-preservation programming would keep it from venturing onto the battlefield. After all, a droid programmed to help as many people as possible couldn't help anyone if it was blown to bits…
Motion out of the corner of his eye made Havoc turn and look back over his left shoulder before groaning as he watched Ninety-Nine stumble along handing out large DC-15A blaster rifles to his fellow clones, replacing the DC-15S blasters they normally carried. "Ninety-Nine, get out of here! This is no place for you!" It wasn't a place for him, either, Havoc soon found out as a blaster bolt caught him in the chest, picking him up and throwing him back a few feet to land at Ninety-Nine's feet. Groaning in pain, he raised his own blaster rifle and put a shot directly into the optics of the droid that had managed to lay him out. Payback was a bitch. And if he was going to die today… if the droids were going to make it past this spot… he was going to make them pay for every inch of ground they took from him and his brothers. "I said go, Ninety-Nine! That's an or-"
The rest of his words were drowned out as the assault ship lodged in the doors of the hangar bay abruptly exploded, its brother in the ceiling following suit a few seconds later. As the battle came to an abrupt halt, with both the clonetroopers and droids staring up at the ragged hole in disbelief, a LAAT/i drifted into view and opened one bay door. Before the aqua droids could react, a black-clad figure was dropping to the deck, rolling as they hit and coming to their feet with a blue-bladed lightsaber in each hand. A young woman… a Togruta… Master Ti's padawan, Havoc quickly realized. Racing forward with inhuman speed, Chadaara Ko began carving her way through the droids, drawing the fire away from the beleaguered defenders so they could regroup. As she slipped between two droids, Chadaara spun to face him and nodded towards the hole in the ceiling. "That's the Queen C
! Open up the doors so it can circle around and land!"
Questions died unasked on Havoc's lips; not only did he recognize the significance of that particular name, but he'd been trained to obey most any order sent his way by a member of the Jedi Order. With Ninety-Nine's help, he managed to struggle his way to his feet and began stumbling towards where his remaining brothers were clustered. "You heard her, boys! Reinforcements are an open door away! So let's get it open!" One of the troopers saluted and rushed over to the control panel, punching frantically at the controls as Havoc continued to stumble to safety, shooting looks back over his shoulder every so often to watch as the Separatist forces dwindled under the steady assault of Chadaara's blue blades.
A few seconds after Chadaara's blue blades turned the last remaining aqua droid to pieces, the Queen C
swooped through the open doors and came in for a landing. The bay doors slid open immediately and armored bodies began to boil out of both sides of the ship, ARC Commander Colt and the other three members of his squad in the lead, followed closely by a Mirialan wearing a hooded blue robe over what looked like a streamlined version of Havoc's own armor, and then… Jedi Chase. Eighteen of her. The clone's eyes widened; everyone on Tipoca City had heard the rumors but he hadn't put much stock in them personally. Evidently he'd been wrong.
"Alright, lightsaber check?" Chadaara ambled over to where the clones of her fellow Jedi were milling, waiting as each unhooked a rather plain-looking silver lightsaber and ignited it. Out of the eighteen copies of Jedi Chase, nine had green blades while the rest had blue. What that meant, Havoc had no idea. After a few seconds, the clones extinguished their sabers and returned them to their belts. "Good. Now, since I know most of you are still deciding on names… CM-0001 through CM-0009, you're temporarily Squad One. CM-0010 through CM-0018, you're going to be Squad Two. Each squad, the first three of you will be Fireteam A, then Fireteam B, and Fireteam C. I'm going to take Fireteam A from each squad, Barriss will take both Bs, and the Cs will stay here to wait for Hiskari and…" Trailing off, Chadaara turned and gestured over at Havoc and the other battered clones. "Well, do your jobs. Any questions?"
One of the clones from Squad Two's third fireteam raised her hand as she looked around. "Who do we talk to about applying for Head Interior Designer around here? Because this place definitely needs some help, and that's even after you get rid of the droid bits, corpses, and smoking debris. Seriously, endless miles of grey plating? So last war. And I'm pretty sure we look like Snooki under all these red emergency lights, not to mention that it turns our armor pink and we're so not pink people…"
"…someone go destroy Timira City. Now, before it's too late…"