Chapter I: Trial by Fire Part 1
The rolling thunder of engines roared around Advanced Reconnaissance Commando ARC-2411. He shook in his seat as his All Terrain-Tactical Enforcers Low Altitude Assault Transport/c Cargo Gunship disengaged from the Republic Assault Ship Mornbright and throttled to the planet's surface. Around him sat 19 of his regular brothers, unspecialised Clone Troopers. The rumble of weapons fire began to reverberate through the hull as 2411s transport neared the ground. The sharp steel grey interior in bizarre contrast to the violence heard around them. With a shuddering thud and the leap of his stomach, the gunship released the AT-TE from its magnetic clamps and its 6 magnetic feet clamped into the sand dunes of Geonosis as its four compartment access ramps lowered. The intense orange glare sliced into 2411s eyes before his Phase I ARC Trooper Armours visor could adequately polarise as he unholstered his DC-15A blaster rifle and rushed out onto the rugged battlefield.
‘Go! Go! Go!’ howled the Platoon Commander, CT-2832 adorned in the blue stripes and four blue circles of a Clone Lieutenant. His vocabulator screeching as it struggled to keep up with his instructions. ARC-2411 mentally tuned out the Clone Lieutenant, for the time being, coming from the elite special forces of the Grand Army of the Republic, 2411 had the luxury of being outside the direct chain of command and having greater independent thinking than his regular brothers functioned well outside of it. As he surveyed the barren terrain of Geonosis, watching as gunships carved their way across the Geonosian sky, and Acclamator-class transgalactic military assault ships like the Mornbright touched down on the firm rock basins to disgorge troops his gaze settled on a pair of squabbling aliens in dark orange robes with rats tails adorning their hair. At their waists sat laser swords these must be the Jedi they’ve sent 2411 mused as he pivoted towards them and advanced. 2411 had heard great stories about the Jedi from his Mandalorian Instructors, of their great martial prowess and their stoic control of their emotions.
So, as he approached, and he properly registered what the pair were doing he promptly held those stories at arm’s length.
‘Jedi Commanders,’ 2411 formally remarked. At this, the pair froze in confusion, their hype and energy pausing as they processed his words over the din of combat.
‘Yeah! We’re Jedi Masters!’ said the shark looking Jedi before turning to his Iakaru counterpart and high fiving them.
‘So that means you’ve gotta listen to us!’ declared the Iakaru. 2411 rolled his eyes.
‘Great di’kuts,’ 2411 muttered, his vocabulator left on intentionally. At this, the two Jedi spun back towards the clone, confusion and fury exploring their faces.
‘What did you just say clone?’ the shark asked incredulously
‘I said, great di’kuts,’ 2411 said with a sharper tone.
The shark man spluttered with insult ‘Well you aren’t even a real being!’
‘Yeah, we’ll protect the rear guard while you do all the dying!’ chipped in the Iakaru, to the concerned looks of the Clone Troopers around them. 2411 ground his teeth before spinning on his heel in search of the Company Commander. When he couldn’t visually see him, he activated his helmets integrated commlink.
‘Captain CT-3838 this is ARC-2411 I’ve got two Jedi loitering around what are they doing here and can I get them removed from my AO?’
‘ARC-2411!’ roared the Company Commander ‘Do you think I have anything better to do! I am organising a ramshackle company for a forward advance! I do not have time for your “problems” talk to your Platoon Commander and use the Chain of Command next time!’ bellowed the Clone Captain before leaving frequency. The pair of Jedi stand there laughing as they listened to the entire exchange.
‘We told you we’re Jedi Masters!’ they called out as the Platoon Commander began moving through his field of view.
‘Alright, boys! Let’s get moving!’ he said wracking the knuckle armour against the leg of AT-TE 242 ‘Commanders AJ and DY14N, you’ve been assigned to us!’. And with that the four AT-TEs began lumbering forwards, their infantry escort moving ahead of them in a V formation. While the rest of the GAR was engaging in brutal close-quarters combat. Fourth Walker Platoons objective to destroy a Baktoid Armour Workshops’ Droid Factory had met minimal resistance due to the flanking advance that Republic Strategic Command had planned for the Walker Platoon. The added side effect was that any potential Separatist flanking manoeuvres could also be handily intercepted.
As ARC-2411 scanned his assigned security sector he noticed the faint rippling movement of deep brown objects followed by a lumbering jet-black mechanical monstrosity. 2411 rapidly came to a halt and levelled his DC-15A blaster rifle at the largest machine opening fire as it continued to move forwards. His ionised blaster bolts stuck home forcing the machine into a lumbering lurch as it fired a wrist-mounted blaster cannon, the red streaks tore through five of his brothers as they struggled to find cover in the open fields of Geonosis. 2411 scanned his surviving platoon and glanced back towards the walkers cursing as he did when he registered that Commanders AJ and DY14N had been standing there between the walker's legs talking to each other instead of leading from the front and using those laser swords to any good effect. When the pair finally realised the situation and had begun to close the gap another four of his brothers had fallen to battle droid fire as a laser sword was propelled through the air, its active blade like a strobe light in its motion as it impaled the super battle droid, slicing through the droids central computer and crippling its brain. As the super battle droid crumpled to the ground DY14N leapt into the midst of the other five battle droids and swiftly kicked at the nearest one’s thin head. As if expecting it to flinch like a flesh and blood opponent DY14N then swung his blade into a left to right crescent moon strike. But as the boot failed to displace the battle droid from its magnetic footing, so too did the crescent moon strike fail to do more than take the droids empty right hand as DY14Ns arm failed to extend any further. What happened next could only be described as brutal. Battle droids recognising the threats the Jedi posed broke into pairs and began to systematically target the unarmoured and untested Jedi. DY14N fell to the ground blaster bolts between his shoulder blades as they moved from him to AJ who took a grazing blow from. A series of shots were put downrange at 2411 but despite the armours tendency to pinch in certain places ARC Trooper Armour was sturdy and absorbed much of the energy.
As 2411 surveyed the deteriorating situation he jumped on frequency and began issuing orders ‘AT-TE 242 target those droids on the right! Troopers! Form up on me and dig in!’
But as his orders carried over the radio waves the Clone Troopers suffering from some kind of malfunction failed to follow his instructions, with one exception. The roar of the AT-TEs forward-mounted anti-personnel guns screeched through the air and drew a line across the Geonosian soil. Decapitating two before going wide as the droids fell outside the vehicles firing arcs. Capitalising on the vulnerability 2411 rose firing, his DC-15A blaster rifle tearing through a battle droid as his boot connected with droid’s centre and sent the debris tearing through its counterpart. With renewed strength, DY14N zeroed in on the last remaining battle droid and in a moment of ego attempted an intricate strike he’d watched Masters flawlessly execute. As he moved through the motions, however, flawless was the last word anyone would choose to describe what he did. His flurry of strikes failed to connect at all and stumbled away, his footing so poor even the force couldn’t keep him balanced, the battle droid mere metres away began signalling for reinforcements as AJs blade sliced through the battle droid a moment later.
‘Blasted droids,’ 2411 audibly cursed as he lifted his macrobinoculars to his visor and scanned the horizon. ‘We’ve got a column of droid armour headed this way,’ he dutifully reported.
‘Made up of what?’ asked AJ.
‘Commerce Guild Dwarf Spider Droids,’
‘Dwarf Spider you say… it can’t be that troublesome then,’ said DY14N with confidence.
‘They straddle the line between a firepower of a hover tank and a walker,’ 2411 translated for them. At this DY14N blanched and rapidly activated his commlink.
‘This is Jedi Master DY14N to anybody on frequency! We need air support in sector six-seven now!’ he boomed before CT-2832 rush over, knife hand gesticulating.
‘Are you out of your mind commander?! That was an open frequency transmission! Now the entire Separatist Alliance knows where we are!’ 2832 barked.
At this 2411 sighed before adding ‘confirmed, we’ve got a column of OG-9 Homing Spider Droids, Commerce Guild again,’
'Well good thing then, orders just came through, Strategic Command wants us to push for the Droid Factory. At this, the trio whirled on the Clone Lieutenant.
‘Through that wall of battle?!’ asked 2411 in shock.
‘We need to run! Let the battleships handle that!’ instructed DY14N.
‘I don’t know what a good idea would be but going through those droids definitely isn’t a good idea!’ AJ interjected.
As the argument began to heat 2411 surveyed the terrain and compared it to the topographical maps that’d been loaded onto his armour before the insertion. Their original advance cut below the Im’g’twe Hills. The hills cut straight across towards the Droid Factory but had been abandoned in favour of the forward advance was because AT-TEs couldn’t cut across the jagged rocky terrain that defined the Im’g’twe Hills. As he double-checked the topography, he spun on 2832.
‘Lieutenant if we have our dismounted foot patrol move through the Im’g’twe Hills we can cut straight through to the factory, we’ve got enough explosives currently being carried across the entire company to successfully execute a demolition op,’ 2411 explained, gesturing to the dark brown outcroppings above and behind him. The Lieutenant paused.
‘Well, Commanders AJ and DY14N you have the overriding tactical command,’ 2832 said nodding at the pair of Padawans. The pair looked at each other before looking towards 2411.
‘You’ve been calling us commander this whole time?!’ DY14N said as shock and confusion rolled over him.
‘We may have tactical command, but the Trooper is right, we can’t break that droid wall. We’ll go with his suggestion,’ AJ said with a firm tone into the main conversation ‘How close is the enemy column?’
‘The two columns will reach our position in the next ten minutes,’ reported 2411.
’Then we’ve got just enough time to bandage our wounds and get moving, what do you suggest we - do with the walkers?
‘We should leave a force to ambush the droids as we abandon the walkers!’ DY14N suggested enthusiastically.
‘No, the AT-TE crews will stay with their vehicles and act as a static blocking force to prevent a flanking manoeuvre,’ 2411 explained as clone medics strode up to the trio and applying bacta patches as they moved through.
‘You know, you aren’t like the Jedi from the stories our Instructors told about your kind,’ 2411 remarked in a softer tone.
‘We shouldn’t be here,’ DY14N answered ‘We were only selected to train under Masters Marr and Alli just two days before they were called away to rescue Master Kenobi, Padawan Skywalker and Senator Amidala,’
‘Yeah our transport just dropped us at the staging area and expected us to be slotted in somewhere, barely any training,’ AJ said in a sombre tone.‘Well, welcome to war commanders,’ 2411 said as he strode off to follow his clone brothers up into the Im’g’twe Hills.