Disclaimer: All characters belong to their proper owners. I can only claim ideas caused by sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Authors Note: Once again I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this story and leave a review. A special thanks to Darthpayne for recommending this story. Thank you I really appreciate it. Olbear.
Norca IV, Outer Rim. Eighteen months after the Battle of Geonosis
A long column of Separatist fighting vehicles and troops made their way through the broad gully that ran between two mountains. Throughout the convoy battle droids manned weapons and continuously scanned the cliffs, searching for threats. In an armoured transport in the middle of the column the commander, a Kerkoiden, studied the scanners and sensors in his mobile command post.
“This gully is a perfect place for an ambush!” The Kerkoiden thought as he fingered the tusk that had been broken in an earlier campaign and he was loathe to use it. Unfortunately he had his orders. This convoy was desperately needed at the front to stop the Republic forces from breaking out of their defensive positions.
Looking at the scanners again he turned to one of the droids in the command post.
“Any word from our Trandoshan scouts?” He demanded.
“Negative sir. The last report from them was that they had cleared this area and were moving on to another.” The droid said.
The commander grunted. He didn’t like relying on Trandoshans, the reptilian hominoids were too easily distracted and would often leave their assigned tasks to hunt or more often, loot whatever they could get their claws on.
“Increase the spacing between vehicles by another ten metres and increase the sensitivity of all scanners. If there’s anything larger than a bird in the air I want to know about it!” He ordered. If the Republic managed to call in an airstrike while they were in this gully the entire convoy would be turned into scorched metal.
“Roger roger.” The droid said and began working with sensors.
Suddenly there was a flash of light from the right flank and a missile slammed into the lead tank, causing it to explode in a fireball.
“Ambush!!” The commander snapped, even as droids started firing towards where the missile came from. Before he could say anything more a bolt from an unseen marksman slammed into his chest.
Hidden in the tree line of the cliff Echo watched as the enemy commander collapsed. “Good shot Ori.” He said before turning to the second commando. “Blow the charges!”
Trooper RC-726379, or Bevin as he was known, nodded and hit the detonator in his hand. On the opposite cliff a series of explosions erupted, causing an avalanche of stone and rock that buried the stalled convoy.
“Well,” Ori said as he rose to his feet and removed the sniper attachment from his DC-17. “That’s one load of tinnies that won’t be hitting the front line.”
Echo nodded and keyed his comms. “Dash, Zan, you still alive?”
“We’re good thanks Sarge.” Came the voice of RC-947. “Heading towards you now.”
Within a minute the last two members of Theta Squad arrived.
“So what now Sarge?” Zan asked as he made sure the rocket launcher he’d used to initiate the ambush was securely strapped to his assault pack. “Any other mischief that needs to be done?”
Echo shook his head. “No its time for us to head back in.” He saw his men perk up at the thought of heading back to base.
For the last month Theta Squad had been working behind enemy lines, conducting reconnaissance and engaging targets of opportunity. But after four weeks of tramping through the forests and mountains of the main continent of Norca IV, they were all looking forward to a meal that wasn’t ‘ration cubes’ and sleeping for more than two hours at a stretch.
“Any chance of an extraction?” Bevin asked hopefully. Every clone, ‘White Job’, Commando or Nul ARC, loved the throbbing sound of a ‘Larty’ on approach. A sound that signified that the fight was done and they could relax until the next battle.
“Sorry vod.” Dash said. “But all air assets are assigned to the assault. I don’t think that they’ll be able to free one up if things go to osik!”
“That’s not important now.” Echo said. “We’ve got a sixty klik hike ahead of us so let’s get moving. Ori, you’re on point. Bevin left flank, Zan right. Dash, you bring up the rear.”
With that the commandos moved away from the ambush site, leaving the remains of a Separatist armoured battalion buried in the valley behind them.
Several hours later
Zan watched as his team mate Ori slowly stepped over the trunk of a fallen tree as he led the team down the ridge line. He knew that Ori’s deliberate pace had as much to do with exhaustion as it was with caution. The fact that Echo wasn’t telling him to pick up the pace was a sure sign that every member of the squad was tired.
Zan hitched his shoulders again to shift his pack into a more comfortable position and felt the plates of his armour shift. After a month of Ops, living on ration cubes and whatever local food they had been able to forage had caused him to lose weight, causing his armour to no longer fit the way it should. This morning he’d had to cinch his equipment belt five cems tighter to stop it from flopping around his ankles.
There was a double click on the comms and Zan turned to the centre of the formation where Echo was. His sergeant gave a few hand signals that Zan automatically translated as ‘take a ten minute break’. Zan gave Echo a thumbs up and waited to the other members of the squad confirmed that they got the message before sinking gratefully to the ground.
Echo watched as his squad went into all around defence. Even though they were tired they still remained alert, scanning the surrounding forest to ensure that no enemy snuck up on them. After a few minutes he got up and went to every member of his squad, checking that they were alright and ready to go into action at a moment’s notice.
Finally he reached Zan, the only commando who wasn’t a clone.
“How are you feeling Zan?” He asked.
“Tired Sarge but still good to go.” Zan declared. “Looking forward to a fresh meal and some decent sleep though.”
Echo nodded, this operation had been one of the longest the Squad had undertaken and they were all feeling the strain. He hoped that once they were finished here on Norca IV they would be shipped back to Coruscant for a few days rest before their next mission, where ever that was.
He looked down at the blade that Zan had strapped to his pack.
“I’m surprised you haven’t ditched that butter knife.” He said.
Zan reached back and drew the sword from its scabbard and took a moment to admire it.
“Are you kidding Sarge? This is my good luck piece!” He said. The sword was a Beskad or Mandalorian Sabre, which he had picked up after the previous owner, a Trandoshan mercenary, had tried to gut him with it during a skirmish ten days ago.
“Maybe I’ll ask General Jusik to give me some pointers on using a sword next time we’re back in Arcona Barracks.” Zan said, referring to Jedi Bardan Jusik, one of the Jedi Knights who was part of SO Brigade that commanded all the commando teams scattered throughout the various sectors of the war.
“Yeah well, don’t make any plans till we actually are back on Triple Zero.” Echo said, using the nickname the GAR had for the capital world of the Galatic Republic. “For we all we know me might end up on Mygeeto freezing our shebs off this time next week.” He paused. “Get your gear together, we move out in five!”
Zan nodded and slid the sword back into its sheathe before picking up his pack. What he didn’t tell Echo or anyone else was what happened when he first picked up the sword after the short but brutal fire fight.
When his hand had closed around the hilt of the sword he’d had a memory flash. For a split second he was no longer in the forests of Norca IV. Instead he was in a large room. In the centre of the room a small human girl, maybe fifteen or sixteen years standard, with golden blonde hair and a happy smile on her face. In her hands she held a sword and she was going through a series of patterns much like a Jedi did when they practiced with their lightsabres.
But as fast as the memory appeared it was gone with only the knowledge that he knew the girl and cared for her a lot but he couldn’t put a name to the face.
“Maybe I’ll ask Bardan to have another look inside my head when we get back.” He thought as Echo gave a hand signal and Theta Squad moved out.
Off in the distance there was the sound of explosions as the Forty Second Assault Division fought their way through the encircling droid forces.
Sergeant RC-822705, Echo, Command
Trooper RC-726379, Bevin, Field Engineering/Computer Systems
Trooper RC-638341, Ori, Sharpshooter/Communications
Trooper RC-479554, Dash, Transportation/Surveillance
Trooper RC/XH-579, Zan, Heavy Weapons/Medical