Disclaimer: All characters belong to their proper owners. I can only claim ideas caused by sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Kranex 4, Outer Rim, Trade Federation Territory
The sprawling facility was busy. Here, raw Tibana gas was extracted from the ground, refined, processed and then sent out to provide the turbo lasers and other heavy energy weapons used by the Separatists with an extra punch in the ongoing war between the Galactic Republic and the Coalition of Independent Systems.
Outside the facility a group of Trandoshan mercenaries trudged through the maze of pipes and conduits that surrounded the refinery. A few of them were grumbling, guarding a facility in such an out of the way system meant there was little chance of loot to pad out their pay but most of them were content where they were. All they had to do was guard this place and they got paid in hard specie and comfortable barracks and plenty of food. And now that they knew the routine of the complex it wouldn’t be too hard to re-direct a few shipments of gas to their own advantage.
The leader of the patrol paused and looked around, only half listening to the gripes of some of the mercenary warriors. Guarding a Tibana gas refinery wasn’t the best job in the galaxy but it beat facing the Jedi and their clone armies on the front line. Growling at the complainers to shut their jaws he motioned for the patrol to continue, he wanted to get back to the barracks.
As the sound of the Trandoshan’s footfalls receded one of the piles of loose soil that were scattered around seemed to tremble slightly. Slowly and with infinite caution a figure emerged from the contaminated dirt. Carefully looking around to make sure that he was undetected Trooper RC/XH-579 moved to his target, a specific cluster of pipes that led directly into the refinery.
Opening an inspection panel Zan fished a plas belt lined with blasting caps out of a pouch and half crawled into the conduit to strap it around the bundle of pipes and cables. Satisfied that the charge was in place he carefully connected the detonator, always the most dangerous part when working with explosives, he backed out of the conduit, silently closing the inspection panel and spreading a little dirt to disguise the fact that the panel had been opened.
In six weeks standard the belt of detonators would explode and disable the refinery’s safety systems. Combined with the charges that RC-763, Bevin, Theta Squads explosive expert was setting on the far side of the facility would result in making the whole complex nothing more than a smoking crater.
When the orders had come down to conduct this sabotage raid the entire squad had wondered why the long delay but Null ARC Lieutenant Prudii had explained it before their departure from Coruscant. It was a two stage mission and the destruction of the facility was only the second phase of it.
While Zan and Bevin were busy setting their charges LT Prudii, Sgt Echo and Dash, the fourth member of Theta Squad, were infiltrating the facility to screw around with the refinery’s quality control systems. Once they were done a small percentage of the Tibana cylinders that came from here would either be so contaminated that they were useless or explode when a charge was put through them.
Hopefully by the time the Separatists worked out what the problem was they would have lost several ships, maybe even a major battle, saving the lives of hundreds, hopefully thousands fellow troopers.
Checking again to ensure that there was no evidence of his handiwork Zan looked over towards a large mound earth and carefully flashed a IR spot in that direction. A double click on his commlink told him that his egress route was clear and RC-6331, Ori, the team marksman, with his customised sniper rifle who was on Overwatch making sure the team had back up if there was trouble.
Stepping back into the shadows Zan silently made his way through the darkness using all his senses and the scanners in his helmet to ensure that he wasn’t observed. This entire mission would be a complete bust if the Separatists even suspected that a Republic Special Ops groups had been in the vicinity.
He froze in place when one of his scanners detected movement nearby then allowed himself to relax when he identified it as a native scavenger digging through a pile of refuse. Satisfied that the way was clear he continued on his way through the maze of pipes and conduits.
24 hours later
Lt Prudii sat back in the pilot’s chair and allowed himself to relax slightly. Now that he and Theta Squad were off planet and in Hyperspace on their way back to Coruscant they were safe from any wandering Separatist warships.
The mission seemed to be a complete success. The Tibana facility had been infiltrated, its quality control systems sabotaged and charges laid that would, in six weeks, turn the entire refinery into a smoking crater in the ground and the Separatists where none the wiser.
Looking over at a chrono he realised that it was time for another task, one given to him by Kal Skirata before they left Coruscant. Getting to his feet he crossed to a cabinet and removed a parcel before leaving the bridge.
In the crew quarters Theta squad were in their post-operation routine, cleaning and checking their gear. Sergeant Echo looked up from the pieces of his DC-17 when he saw the Null ARC officer enter the room.
“Ten-Hut!” He barked as he rose to his feet. Around him the rest of the squad mimicked his actions.
“Relax men,” Prudii said as he placed the package he was carrying on the low table in the centre of the room and stood with his thumbs tucked into his Kami belt. “You all did good on this mission. Now more than one tinnie is going to try and fire a shot at our brothers and find out that his gun just exploded. It’s a pity that we won’t be able to see the refinery go ‘Boom’ but that’s the way it goes.”
Pausing Prudii pulled a sheet of paper out of one his pouches and unfolded it.
“Trooper RC/XH-579 post!” He said and on the other side of the compartment Zan immediately snapped to attention.
Prudii looked at the young man opposite him. It was still strange to him to see a face that wasn’t a mirror image of his own in the armour of a trooper but he had to admit the human teenager had taken to commando training as he’d been born to it surprising everyone but Kal buir.
He turned to address the rest of Theta squad.
“What you gentlemen may not be aware of is that today is a very special day for Trooper RC/XH 579.” Prudii said. “It was on this day, four years ago that Zan joined us on Kamino.”
Theta squad looked at their comrade in surprise.
“Osik Zan, why didn’t you tell us it was your birthday?” Dash exclaimed.
“Yeah Zan, you should’ve told your vode.” Ori said. “We could’ve baked you a cake or something!”
“Sorry guys.” Zan said. “It’s not something that I normally think about.”
“Well it’s a good thing that Kal buir keeps track of these things.” Prudii said. “He sent you this.” He extended the package to Zan.
As Zan reached for the package an image appeared in his mind. Of a human girl, maybe seven or eight years old with red hair, smiling shyly as she held out a brightly wrapped package to him. As soon as it appeared it was gone and Zan blinked before accepting the package from the Null ARC.
“Thanks Sir.” He said, silently wondering who that girl was. Was she someone he knew in the life he no longer remembered or was she a figment of his imagination? Zan shrugged slightly and decided it wasn’t important right now. Instead he began unwrapping the present that Kal Skirata had sent him.
As soon as he removed the plas wrapping he knew what was in the parcel. It was the sweet, almost cloying aroma that gave it away. It was Uj cake, the sweet, sticky treat that Kal had sometimes given his ‘boys’ on the cold dreary nights in Kamino.
Putting the unwrapped cake on the table Zan reached down for his boot knife and with three cuts divided it into six pieces.
“Help yourselves Vode” He said.
And for the next few hours some clones of Jango Fett and a ‘Mongrel’ who no one knew where he came from shared cake and caf while their ship carried them to their next battle, where ever that was.
Authors note: Just a chapter that I hope will jumpstart me writing a bit more on this story.