The thing I remember about the rise of the Empire was how quiet it was. During the waning hours of the Clone Wars, the 501st legion was discreetly transferred back to Coruscant. It was a silent trip. We all knew what was about to happen, what we were about to do. Did we have any doubts, any private traitorous thoughts? Perhaps, but no-one said a word. Not on the flight to Coruscant, not when Order 66 came down, and not when we marched into the Jedi Temple. No a word."
- Battlefront II, Rise Of The Empire
He shifted in his seat, glancing at his brothers beside him. Their silence was beginning to unnerve him. He'd never found the helmets disconcerting before, he'd never seen fault in the visors that screened their eyes. Until now, on the flight to Coruscant, to the heart of their enemy; The Jedi.
Clone CT-13-3901 had fought along side Jedi during the Clone Wars, they all had, but he understood them. They - unlike them - had a code of truth, equality and compassion. They - unlike them - weren't fully operation units specially trained for combat. But the Jedi had rose to the challenge. He remembered fighting along side Ki Adi Mundi in Mygeeto, before leaving to fight elsewhere. He didn't hate him, despite everything.
Anakin Skywalker - Darth Vader, he corrected himself - would met them there, that was orders. Then they'd move on whoever or whatever was guarding the Temple. Wipe out the traitorous, meddlesome Jedi once and for all. That was the plan, how it was going to be. But CT-13-3901 didn't like it, he trusted the Jedi, he didn't believe the Chancellor or the Emperor, or whatever he called himself now. He didn't have a choice. He would march into the Jedi Temple, he would gun down innocent younglings, he would watch the Temple burn, and he wouldn't flinch, he wouldn't bat an eyelid. He would do as he was told, it was all he'd ever done.
He would gun down younglings, children. "The Jedi have poisoned their minds with lies, nothing can change that," that was what Commander Appo said. He sounded so sure, CC-13-3901 had never been entirely sure of anything. Ever.
He just followed orders. It was all he'd ever done.
"Guns ready!" Appo shouted. And so broke the silence over Coruscant.
"Execute Order sixty-six."
Nodding, Commander Bly closed the transmission.
God forsaken place, CT-16-1998 thought, looking around at Felicia. He'd spent far too much time in this stupid jungle with these stupid droids and these stupid aliens and these stupid orders. The only thing keeping him sane was the thrill of the fight and Aayla Secura's voice of reason. He had a strong degree of respect for the Twi'lek Jedi, holding up so well in a ruff place like this, never losing her head and never losing sight of their goals. She was strong, despite every day waking up to a new terror of the jungle or get another droid attack.
It never ends, does it? He'd lost sight of everything he held dear three months into the campaign, when they'd came across the broken, burning, charred remains of an AT-TE, bodies of Clones - friends - with their soot blackened armour and scorch marks and puncture wounds. Droids pulled apart, ripped and sparking heaps of nothing but scrap metal. That's when he fell apart. But he said nothing, just stood in line with all the other good troopers and hoped for the best.
The Jedi knelt at the base of the fallen AT-TE, with dead Clones all around her, set down her lightsabers and closed her eyes. Maybe he was jealous, she could mourn while he was forced to press on. Maybe he was depressed, his friends and fellow Clones dead. Maybe he was frustrated that he never got to call the shots. Maybe he was fed up of the gun fire and the explosions. But for whatever reason, he started to unravel, string by string, falling apart, piece by piece. Aayla Sacura got up and walked on, charging into battle with reckless courage, while he stood back and provided cover.
He'd found his place, an that was the most important thing. Sure, he didn't say anything anymore, and he wasn't the man he used to be. And okay, maybe he was giving up, but he never lost is loyalty to the Republic and the Chancellor.
CT-16-1998 still respected his Jedi General. When he gunning her down and shot her in the back, he sent out a prayer, hoping the Twi'lek wasn't in pain. And when the other Clones were gone, when she was dead, when she lay still, he settled beside Secura, closed his eyes and lay down his weapons, just the once.
He was a broken, twisted and cracked shadow of his former self, but he had time to be a little bit different.
For once in his life, he was ashamed of his orders and what he'd done. The Chancellor just wasn't the same as the Jedi Knights.
CC-1912 had finally gotten used to the cold. A bit. Kind of.
His armour, just like the rest of his battalion's, was special. Cold resistant and heat locking, it shielded him from the snow flurries and sleet showers and rainy skies. Perfect for Mygeeto.
Ki Adi Mundi was an interesting Jedi. He fought bravely, but he preferred to stay silent and listen and watch and observe. He, like most, didn't care for war. He didn't want to fight. He was a peace-keeper and strategist and, above all else, and Jedi Knight of the Republic.
Sometimes, he'd stop everything to sprint to the aid of a child or a civilian of a dysfunctional droid, saying something about peace and the death of hope. He'd even stop his own men - fight against them if he had to - trying to get justice served. Commander Bacara was getting increasingly frustrated with him. He'd been more than willing to pull the trigger on his general.
Every Clone kidded himself he was doing what was right and what was fair, good, kind and justifiable.
This snow is really getting to me, the Clone trooper thought. Frozen me right to the heart. He just didn't care anymore, he could go on like this forever, shooting droids and cursing at the cold. Change always comes, he reflected. And it did. And here he was, planting a foot in the ground and reloading his rifle. Commander Bly nodded.
"Come on!" Ki Adi Mundo's call was snatched slightly by the wind. A rain of laser bolts arched towards him. He struggled, deflecting a few, but he fell. Ultimately, everything fell.
And this was the fall of he Republic.
Plo Koon was an interesting Jedi. CC-1521 had known this from the start. An excellent pilot, wise Jedi Master and member of the High Council. He was completely different to them, but in some ways, the same. He was disciplined, like them, yet he was inventive and bent the rules. He was ruthless, like them, yet he had heart enough to turn away from slaughter. He was brave, like them, yet he acted with restraint and careful consideration.
"CC-1521, come in," a voice crackled over the intercom.
"Yes, sir," he said to the commander. "I read you loud and clear."
"Today we're going on a patrol around the cities with General Plo Koon."
He smirked. "Bet Computer will be happy," he said referring to his friend and fellow soldier, CC-00183, who had a knack with technology.
Computer had a strong admiration for the Jedi Master. "Nothing other than one might look up to one in a higher rank than one's own," as he always hastened to add.
"Just do the patrol," came the slightly annoyed order.
At least General Koon has time for the common man, he thought.
"General Koon, sir, are you ready?"
"Hello, Trigger." The Jedi Master always called them by their nicknames, not their numbers or their rank. He made thing... personal, which was ridiculous since they were all cloned from one man. "How are you?"
"Ready to fly, as always, sir." Smiling, Trigger fell into a V formation, CT-3450, nicknamed Chain, and CC-616673, nicknamed Team, fell in too, Plo Koon taking lead.
"Okay, I'm going to split off and patrol the southern wing," Chain's voice was crisp and clear in comparison to the other's transmissions.
"Rodger that," Trigger said.
"Support?" Team asked.
"Negative, I'll be fine."
"Don't get shot, Chain, remember to check in," the Kel Dor's voice broke in.
An Arc-170 took a sharp banking turn to the left. Trigger watched it go, switching on his radar.
"No hostiles on the ground that the scans can pick up, let me take a look," Trigger said into the intercom.
"Go for it, Trigger," Team said. He could almost be him nodding in his mind's eye.
Swooping low over the ruins of city, CC-1521 kept an eye out for droid activity.
"Checking in, no movement confirmed. Repeat, no movement confirmed."
"Alright, Trigger," Plo's voice said. "Go and scout the bridge and assess structural damage.
"Chain here, checking in. Shot down a few fighters, barely and resistance on the ground, requested squad placement on floor to wipe out any remnants. Requesting regroup coordinates?"
"12-4758-301. Just past the Spire, okay team?" Team responded, showing a reason for his nickname. Team was one of those people who decided to call everyone team, no matter who or what they are.
"Affirmative, regrouping now."
"Take your time, Chain. All's clear over 6th sector." Out of the corner of Trigger's gaze, he saw Plo Koon's Jedi Fighter arching across the sky, followed by Team and Chain.
A hologram flickered to life in front of him. The Chancellor robed in black croaked, "Execute Order 66."
His monitors told CC-1521 the Jedi Master was well out of range.
He didn't want to shoot anyway; he'd let CT3450 and CC-616673 do it. He saw the blue star-fighter blazing flames across the shinning afternoon sky, crashing into the ruins below, debris flung everywhere.
Deathly silence fell over the comlinks.
"Let's go, team," CC-616673 muttered.
For once, Trigger hated his nickname. He would never gun down his own general. Not even for Order 66.
Commander Neyo was a broken soul. He delighted in other's pain and enjoyed watching thing burn. He was thinking about hunting down some droids on his own later that day, considering pouring oil over them and setting in alight.
He didn't believe in death. Or more, he didn't believe he would die. He was Neyo, and he was never going to be beaten. He was a excellent tracker and cunning survivalist, and a ruthless commander to serve under. Neyo worked his legion harder than any other, training them up, then training them some more, until they were fine soldiers, i.e worn into submission by countless drills with no purpose other than to demoralise them.
He liked going fast. He'd never really given it much thought, but it was true, he did like going fast. Skimming over the surface of the desolate Outer Rim planet , Neyo noted all this and revved the engine of his BARC speeder.
Stass Alie was racing just ahead, her pathetic Jedi robes flapping in the wind. The Jedi are pathetic, he glowered. Far too trusting, thinking they can just sit on their thrones with their shadows of sins and lies. Soon it would be over, soon he'd be free of this stupid Jedi Knight. Stass Alie's form grew larger as he approached.
A hologram came through, one he'd been waiting for for a long time, years, even. Two laser blast burst from the BARC speeder's gun.
Commander Neyo liked watching things burn. Stass Alie would be proud of the fireball of death created.