More Than Just a Clanker

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Chapter 5 - Price Paid In Blood

Raxus System

Onboard The G9 Rigger Freighter “Twilight”

Republic Strike Team Led By Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker And His Padawan Ahsoka Tano

Mission: Inflitrate The Separatist Heavy Cruiser Malevolence

Makeup Of The Twelve-Man Clone Squad:

- Captain CT-7567 “Rex”, Commanding Officer

- Corporal CT-1256 “Lift”, Heavy Trooper

- Private CT-2518 “Muck”, Demolitions Expert

- Private CT-1920 “Rad”, Medic

- Private CT-3491 “Buck”, Engineer

- Private CT-9031 “Dax”, Marine

- Private CT-5592 “Binary”, Tech Expert

- Private CT-2187 “Smiles”, Scout

- Private CT-0978 “Digger”, Regular

- Private CT-4200 “Blazer”, Marine

- Private CT-6969 “Dime”, Regular

- Private CT-7891 “Decker” Marine

“…And don’t divert from the designated co—!“ The droid traffic operator at the other end was silenced as Anakin simply shut off the communication, while turning the freighter hard towards left where the massive warship was docked.

“Thanks, I was getting tired off that guy yelling at us all the time…” Ahsoka said in approval while she sat on the co-pilot seat. “So… do we go the obvious or the sneaky route then?” She asked her master as he steered hard to right to avoid an incoming piece of debris.

“What if I told you we’d be using both?” Anakin asked her in his usual smugly confident tone.

“I’d probably pose a question back and ask how we are going to do that.” She answered while R2-D2 kept beeping on about incoming enemy fighters.

“Yes Artoo I know we have incoming Vultures, Rex and the others already taking care of it.” Anakin said referring to the clones who were climbing onto the controls of the defense turrets. “Well, we’re going to drop you off at the ship’s bottom where the garbage disposal tunnel is located at.” He said while spinning the ship in a barrel roll motion to avoid being hit by a homing anti-aircraft missile the Separatist capital ship had launched just moments before.

“Wait, garbage disposal?! I’m not crawling through a smelly tunnel, yuck.” She said while pinching her nose and imitating a flapping motion with her hand.

“Sorry but you’re the smaller one, you’re better suited for crawling through tight space.” Her master replied back while avoiding the continuous turbolaser fire coming from the multiple guns of the Malevolence as they turned to target the nimble freighter.

“Yeah, yeah… I’m going.” The Togrutan said as she got off her seat and headed for the cargo bay and past the clones that were firing towards the droid fighters chasing them.

Just as the transport ship passed by its first target and after strapping on a re-breather mask and a backpack filled with explosives, Ahsoka jumped across the space between the two vessels and climbed inside the open garbage tunnel entrance after the last of the incoming trash had been spit out from it, beginning her long journey up the cramped passageway as the panel behind her was sealed shut.

‘Man, this place smells worse than a passed-out drunk covered in bantha poo.’ She thought while attempting to both pinch her nose and climb with her other hand through the slippery tunnel obviously failing, so she reluctantly let go of her nose to get out of the horribly smelling passageway faster.

She was right at the exit when she felt her ears twitch as she heard chatter coming from two battle droids that were conversing inside the room she was headed to.

“I heard from one of the pilots operating on the bridge that the general is thinking of upgrading the fleet’s forces with some designs he made himself.” One of them said, Ahsoka decided that this was important enough to listen to. So she forced herself to not puke from the smell she had to continue to endure and record everything that was being said.

“Really? Did he say anything about possibly upgrading our targeting computers? You know, so we could actually hit something for once.” The other one of the pair asked.

“Not that I know of, but he mentioned the new design to that Chiss lady when they were conversing on the bridge, I also heard she’ll be the new second commander.” The droid explained, totally oblivious to the fact that he was being listened to.

“Master, are you getting all this?” Ahsoka whispered to her comm. unit as the two droids kept talking.

“Yeah, guess we know where the ship’s commander is now…”Anakin replied while he landed the freighter into the hangar bay, the clones had scored a hit on the shield emitters projecting the ray shield blocking access to it a moment ago, causing to dissipate and allowing them access to the ship.

While she was trying to get into a better position, her leg slipped and slammed against the wall of the garbage disposal tube, alerting the two droids who stopped conversing to investigate.

“Did you hear something…?” The one in the back asked.

“I’m not sure, its like there’s someone in the sh…” The droid was cut off in the middle of a sentence as the Togruta’s green lightsaber activated and sliced off his head.

The other B1 raised its blaster to open fire and sent a warning about an intruder through the local Droid Network before he was sliced in half by the Jedi who had quickly closed the distance by jumping straight at the droid.

“Well… that was easy.” Ahsoka said out loud, not noticing a camera in the garbage disposal room’s corner was watching her.

The droid brain in charge of the ship’s surveillance marked both her and the strike team exiting from the freighter in the hangar bay as a high-level security threats and triggered a ship-wide alarm through the intercom as a response.

“Attention all crew, Republic forces have breached the perimeter on decks two and three, scramble all security forces to the designated areas.” It boomed through the hallways to all droid patrols currently traversing the hallway and the ones inactive in the cargo bay area containers as they were activated.

In the hangar bay

The twelve man squad of clones that were accompanying the two Jedi were all experienced veterans who had fought in the galaxy-wide conflict since its very beginning and each of them had been handpicked by the chosen one himself specifically for their skills, which were measurable to those of the highly trained elite of the Republic’s military, the Advanced Recon Commandos, which their commanding officer Rex was actually part off.

That skill was the very reason why they were currently having a much easier time when defending their foothold inside the hangar bay from the droid crew, because unlike the droids they were actually scoring a kill with every shot they made, mowing down dozens of regular B1 battle droids that were pouring in from the hangar bay entrances with their DC-15A rifles its carbine variants DC-15S’ while their Jedi commander pushed the enemy line further and further back by cutting his way past the machines with his blue lightsaber, occasionally stopping to deflect the incoming blaster bolts back at their senders.

Even a Vulture droid that landed into the hangar bay and switched to its walker mode to better return fire didn’t slow the strike team down for long, for they had prepared for everything as the droid force soon learned when the Vulture blew up after being hit by a detonite warhead courtesy to “Muck”, the squad’s resident demolitions expert who had used one of the few rounds for the PLX-1 missile launcher he had reserved for this mission.

“It seems we are in the clear for now, sir.” Rex said to his Jedi commander after the droids finally stopped coming into the hangar bay.

“Check your ammo and reload if needed, we’re moving out in three.” Anakin said while deactivating his lightsaber and coming back to the hangar bay to check on his men.

“Roget that, sir.”

As the clones were reloading and doing double checks on their equipment, Anakin decided to contact his Padawan to check on her progress.

“Ahsoka, report. What’s your status?”

There was nothing but static at the other end.

“Come on Snips, answer me…”

Still no one responded back.

“Ahsoka are you there!?”

“I’m afraid your… Padawan, will be busy for the moment, Skywalker.” A deeper female voice answered.

Anakin’s heart sank as he heard the unfamiliar voice respond to his call and he already feared the worst.

In A 2nd Deck Hallway

“What have you done to her? Where’s is she?!” Anakin angrily shouted into his comm. unit.

Sev’rance who was currently holding the struggling Togruta Padawan in the air with her force choke ability, simply laughed darkly back at the Jedi Knight while several of the battle droids under her command confiscated Ahsoka’s green lightsaber.

“Now, now… that is not a tone you use when speaking to someone holding your Padawan’s life in their hands.” Sev’rance replied back as she tightened her grip around the young Jedi’s throat, after which she soon fell unconscious and the dark acolyte dropped her harshly to the cold floor where ST-ED picked her up and hoisted on his left shoulder for carry. “Besides, she’s doing quite peachy even if she is a bit unresponsive at the moment.” The Chiss said with amusement clear from her voice “But a fair warning, try anything we don’t like and bad things happen to her, understand?” She said, switching to a darker tone in the blink of an eye.

“Now… I’d love to stay and chat longer but I and General ST-ED still have a ship to command, goodbye.” She finished and crushed the communicator under her boot heel as Anakin tried to shout back to her in anger.

As the two commanders walked through the hallway, ST-ED decided to do a few test swings with the new lightsaber he had acquired from the Padawan and see if it looked or felt any different compared to the one he had received from the Selkath Jedi Erus Kieol during his surrender at the end of the ground battle of Raxus Prime.

Activating the green blade he could immediately notice a difference in the fact that it was shorter compared to the older one he had but its hilt was also of lighter design, the blade itself was much smoother and stable indicating it was clearly designed for agility over cutting power.

“You seem to be liking your new prize.” Sev’rance noted as she observed the droid take several experimental swings while they walked through the hallways.

“I’ve had a fascination for these weapons you Sith and Jedi carry for quite some time, they all seem to be custom made and of production quality significantly higher to that of the mass-produced blasters me and the other droids carry.” ST-ED replied back to her. “I wish to someday be able enough to use them effectively in combat.”

“That is going to take some time, maybe I could teach you at some point.” Tann said to the droid.

“That would be acceptable.” The droid replied back as the group went past the ship’s armory where ST-ED used the Droid Network to get himself some thermal charges that he strapped onto the Jedi, much to the confusion of his organic counterpart.

“We’ll be luring Skywalker in by threatening to kill his Padawan, the Jedi masters are way too attached to their apprentices for their own good… this very same tactic worked without a hitch on Krant as you might remember and it should still work now. Unless I have miscalculated and the Jedi have actually started to use that organ known as brains that you organics have.” He explained to the Sith, who grudgingly agreed with his sentiment and even chuckled a bit at his last statement.

After arriving to the detention area from the armory, the tactical droid opted to simply throw the rigged and unconscious body of the Padawan inside one of the cells and block the entrance with a ray shield.

“I’ve linked the detonator trigger to my systems, I can detonate the explosive at any point and it will also automatically detonate should my basic functions shut down at any point, which is a likely scenario when dealing with someone of Skywalker’s caliber. All the cells are also monitored so if the Padawan tries to defuse the explosives strapped on her, she will only end up getting herself blown up prematurely.”

“A quite foolproof plan, if the Skywalker attempts to rescue his Padawan, she dies and he will end up an emotional wreck. If he attempts to destroy the ship or kill you, she dies and rinse and repeat.” Sev’rance rubbed her chin in thought while she went through the droid’s plan of action.


Back With The Republic Strike Team

After hearing that the Ahsoka had been captured, the Rex and the other clones offered to finish the job while Anakin went to look for her, with the help of the schematics of the ship that had been leaked to them by a defecting Separatist ship engineer they had been able to reach the engine department of the ship without much incident by crawling through the ventilation ducts.

The tactical droid commander of the ship had quite unfortunately outsmarted them in this case and placed multiple ambushes of hidden droidekas and super battle droids in the area that had at the first few times caught them by surprise and they had initially taken several casualties and were currently down to nine clones from the original twelve.

The group’s medic “Rad” had been unfortunately amongst the ones killed, having been killed by a B2’s tri shot function in close quarters that had hit him straight in the head making a large smoking hole on the front part of his helmet and burning his face into an unrecognizable pulp of flesh and bone.

“Detonator out!” Rex yelled as he threw the V-1 under the droideka pinning his squad down and was rewarded by a satisfying explosion as the detonator went off inside the shield bubble of the heavy-duty droid model and caused it to be blown up into tiny pieces that flew into every which direction.

“That’s the last of them, place the explosives and let’s move on to the next objective.” Rex ordered the rest of his team while finishing off some of the surviving droids that were still twitching on the ground.

“Yes, sir.” The others responded as they went to help Muck with planting the charges around the main engine core that was usually powering the Malevolence but was currently shut down due to the ship being docked to the space station.

The clone officer figured that they couldn’t simply blow the ship up while it was docked in fear of risking damaging the station and possibly killing innocent civilians in the process.

But even as they were placing the explosives, the sensors spread around the room were still watching them, they had failed to eliminate them all and those very sensors were constantly feeding the Droid Network information about them and highlighting their location to all droid forces inside the ship.

Once more, the droid general had been a step ahead of them.

2nd Deck

Under orders from ST-ED a fireteam of B1 battle droids were placing barricades made out of anything they could find on the ship and gathered it around their double-barrel repeating blaster to form a makeshift defensive position and possibly slow the Jedi down so the two generals could finish with their preparations.

“After we’re done with this, no Jedi or clone is going to get through here.” The red painted OOM-series security battle droid working as the fireteam’s NCO said confidently while standing behind one of the battle droids manning the repeater.

“Instead of boasting about the impenetrability of this thing you could instead help us build it…” A B1 grumbled from the back while carrying a heavy looking metal table with the help of his comrade.

‘Sergeant 3O4-211, the Jedi is heading your way through the elevator I suggest you and your team get ready for his arrival.’ ST-ED informed the security droid through the network.

‘Roger, roger.’

“Get ready, the Jedi is headed our way!”

“Roger, roger. We’re ready for him.” The droid manning the repeater replied back while the other four droids got set up with their blaster rifles around the stationary weapon.

3O4-211 stood behind them with his shotgun variant of the standard E-5 at the ready and aimed towards the elevator, waiting for it to open up.

Soon enough, the elevator doors opened up and the droids immediately unleashed hell on it with their weapons, only stopping their fire when their weapons had to be reloaded or in the repeater’s case had overheated.

“I can’t see anything through the smoke! Did we get him?” One of the droids set up next to the repeater asked his comrades.

“I have a bad feeling about this…” The droid NCO said and as if to confirm his fears a lightsaber visibly activated through the smoke and the Jedi jumped straight over the barricade and in to the midst of the droids attempting to put up resistance.

“He’s right there, blast him!” 3O4-211 shouted desperately while slowly backing down as his small group was being cut down by the Jedi’s blue blade.

“This is hopeless! Run for your lives!” The droid that had previously manned the repeater ran to the opposite direction before he was cut in half mid-step by a lightsaber.

“D-don’t dare come any closer… I’m warning you.” The droid NCO said as he pointed his shotgun towards the Jedi and began rapidly taking steps backwards after noticing his entire fireteam had been taken down in less than half a minute.

The Jedi simply looked towards the security droid with pure hatred radiating from his eyes as he closed the distance, deflecting every blast the droid sent his way with his blade before finally decapitating the droid in a single swift strike.

“I’m coming Ahsoka, just hold on…” He said as he sprinted through the dark empty hallways and towards the detention area where he could sense his Padawan through the force.

Meanwhile With Rex’s Squad

After setting up the explosives to the engine core, the clones had taken the dedicated rail system that spread across the entire ship and headed towards the ammunition storage facilities used to house proton torpedoes, tibanna gas containers and a large variety of different slug rounds for the All-Purpose Mass Driver Cannons or flak guns, as they were more commonly known.

Their use of the rail system hadn’t gone unnoticed though and they were currently being chased by an entire squad of rocket battle droids that were taking constant potshots at the group of clones.

“We gotta get rid of these damn clankers before one of us is killed by a stray shot!” Rex shouted as the clones kept returning fire, succeeding in downing one of their agile pursuers.

“Or before we all die if these explosives detonate prematurely!” Muck yelled over the gunfire, referring to the backpack he was carrying that was still filled to the brim with thermal charges.

“Now arriving to; ammunition storage on deck one.” The monotone announcer voice sounded off inside the train car as it neared its destination.

“Finally, we can get off this speeding death trap.” The squad’s heavy trooper “Lift” said after downing the remaining two rocket droids with his Z-6 blaster cannon, and watched as they fell down into the dark chasm below. “Good timing too.”

“Alright, everyone get ready. The Seps are sure to be waiting for us when we arrive.” Rex said, readying his twin DC-17 heavy blaster pistols for combat as the train car screeched to a halt in front of the small hub in the middle of the ship housing the ammunition for the various weaponry the ship used.

“You have arrived.” The automated voice sounded off again and Lift opted to simply smash the speaker broadcasting the messages with the butt of his weapon so he wouldn’t have to listen to the annoying voice anymore.

“A little bit too harsh don’t you think?” Muck jokingly said to him, he didn’t give his comrade the satisfaction of getting an answer.

“Let’s clear the room on the other side, stack up.” Rex ordered the other eight clones as they got into formation behind the door, with Muck placing a breaching charge on it.

Counting down from five with his fingers, Rex finally formed a fist to signal the detonation and the thick metal door was blown inwards, crushing a single battle droid standing on guard at the other side under it as it flew through the air, opting the other ones that didn’t get hit by it to open fire in response.

“Go, go, go!” The clone captain shouted to his men as they ran through the doorway and into cover inside the room while being pinned down by a repeating blaster cannon located in the middle of the droid position.

“We can’t risk using detonators in here or we risk blowing up the munitions containers in here and us along with it” Muck pointed out while ducking down to avoid getting his head shot off.

“Agreed. Everyone, switch to your droid poppers and let ‘em fly!” Rex shouted over the blasterfire as everyone in the squad took out their EMP grenades and threw them into the midst of the droid positions.

The battle droids looked at the little devices at their feet with dumbfounded curiosity before they had their systems fried and shut down as the electro magnetic pulse was released.

Soon enough all of the droids defending the area were down for the count and the clones got out from behind cover to finish their work before moving onto their next objective.

But as their luck would have it, they were getting no break as a second railcar arrived to the storage hub, carrying a group of super battle droids accompanied by a trio of chameleon droids that quickly vanished into thin air after the supers had gotten off the transport and went to work on eliminating the clone squad.

Muck, who was busy setting up a charge onto one of the containers didn’t notice a shimmering form appear in the space behind him before it was too late, he never even had a chance to defend himself as the combined fire of the chameleon droids three blasters mercilessly cut him down.

“What the kriff was that?” Lift said to the others as he hoisted his gun up and went to check what was wrong with Muck, finding only the smoking corpse of his former brother-in-arms.

“Muck’s dead!” He shouted to everyone else who quickly retrieved their weapons and ran to the heavy trooper’s position to see that the former demolition expert was indeed dead.

“What the hell did this?” Buck asked as Rex went to check his dead comrade’s corpse.

“Shot clean through his back, never even had the chance to resist. This is the work of a trained assassin… or something that can blend into the environment pretty damn well…”

“You think it could be chameleon droids.” Lift offered his explanation after remembering his previous encounter with them at the battle of Ilum.

“Could be, everyone keep your eyes sharp and move in groups of three to be safe. We’re not alone in here.” Rex ordered as the rest of his squad went back to work except Lift, who watched his back while he finished setting up the explosives.

Buck, Dax and Dime went to check the entrance to the storage hub, only to find the super battle droids that were waiting for them there.

“Contact! Super battle droids at the entrance!” Dax yelled into his comm. unit to warn Rex and the others.

“Hold them off, we’re almost done here!”

“Yes, sir!”

The trio decided to use the Separatists’ own weapon against them and manned the repeater left over from the previous battle and opened fire on the super battle droids shooting at them, managing to down several of them before one of the droids that was toting a launcher arm fired a warhead towards the clones manning the repeater.

“Incoming!” Dime yelled as the rocket smashed into their position and destroyed the repeater, killing Buck who was operating it along with it and grievously wounding Dax.

“Sir, we just lost Buck! Dax is wounded and the droids are overrunning our position!” Dime yelled into his comm. as he dragged his wounded comrade behind one of the heavy containers.

“We copy you, we’re all headed your way now.” Rex replied back.

“Come on Dax, stay with me, we’re gonna get through this.” Dime desperately tried to comfort his comrade as he was going into shock due to having a piece of shrapnel embedded into his gut.

“Be…hind…you…” The mortally wounded Dax muttered weakly, pointing his hand towards the chameleon droid pair that was materializing behind the two clones before he went limp much to the sorrow of his comrade.

Dime, who was still holding the hand of his recently deceased brother-in-arms proved to be easy prey to the two chameleon droids after he failed to reach for his weapon in time and was pumped full of blaster fire as a result and joined Dax in death as his corpse fell on top of the other clone.

The five remaining clones of the original twelve-man squad arrived to the scene too late to stop the droids from overrunning their defensive position and were forced to retreat back deeper into the storage room with the droid forces hot on their heels and blasters constantly firing when spotting their targets.

Eventually after running around the area long enough, they came across a smaller transport rail line that was used to move the ammunition containers to their final destinations, the weapon batteries.

“Quick, look for an empty container we can use one of them to get out of here before the clankers completely surround us.” Rex ordered everyone as they tried to find a large enough container to fit all of them inside it.

“Sir, I think I got something!” Lift said as he tapped a large several meter tall grey durasteel container.

“Good, push it over there and attach it to the rail, Binary will then get the thing ready to move after which we all get inside it. Everybody got that?” Rex quickly explained his plan to everyone.

“Yes, sir.”

Soon after the container was locked into place and the tech-savvy clone hacked into the droid systems to bypass the need for an ID code that allowed access to all of the necessary systems.

Since the container was open topped, all the clones had to do was climb inside it and they were ready to go, as the container slowly got moving from the platform that it stood on, Rex reached his hand out to Binary who ran as fast as he could towards it to reach safety in time.

Much to the group’s shock, just as he was about to get a good grip from Rex’s hand, he was shot in the back by the super battle droids arriving to the scene.

“Binary!” Rex yelled in vain as yet another one of his brethren was shot down by the droid forces and fell off the side of the platform, falling into the abyss below.

Rex had to get back inside the container to avoid getting shot himself as the droids continued firing at him with their arm-mounted blasters.

The mood inside of the container was grim to say the least, only a third of the original squad remained and they still had two objectives to visit before they could get off the ship.

“I don’t know about you guys, but our odds at the moment don’t seem that favourable.” Lift said.

“You kidding? We’re utterly screwed at this point! We’re only halfway through our objectives and we’ve already lost two thirds of our squad!” Blazer shouted back in anger while taking off his helmet.

“Calm down! Bickering amongst ourselves won’t solve anything.” Rex said as he got between the two. “We’re supposed to be professionals so you better start acting like it.” He said, receiving nods from the rest of the survivors.

“Remember, we were all chosen for this operation not because we are expendable, but we are good at what we do.” Rex continued while taking off his helmet. “And if we quit now, Smiles… Muck... Dax… Rad… Binary… all of their sacrifices will have been in vain.” He said, listing off several of the clones who had already given their lives during the mission. “So I say we keep going until the end and finish this mission or we kriffing die trying! Who’s with me?”

“I am.” Lift immediately stood up.

“So am I, sir.” Decker said while standing up as well.

“And I as well.” Blazer finally said.

“Alright then… Let’s finish this once and for all.” Rex said as he put his helmet back on alongside everyone else.

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