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RC-1139, Cabur, shifted through the rubble of what had been Depot Bravo Five. It had been the site of a terrorist bombing, and Cabur, his squadmates and a handful of other commando squads had been sent in to look for survivors and to confirm that there were no other explosives. Close by, Cabur could see a commando in purple-streaked armour, RC-3412, Dain, of Canderous Squad, doing the same. Dain was one of Sergeant Isabet Reau’s commandos, and they were a notoriously psychotic bunch, even giving the Nulls a run for their money. Dain, however, was different; he was surprisingly soft-spoken and polite. Cabur wondered how someone like that had come from one of Reau’s squads, especially considering that the rest of Dain’s squad-Hazen, Cypher and Terra-were little more than thugs, violent and without empathy. Captain Ordo was there, too, although he seemed fairly indifferent to all of the death and destruction, and was instead inspecting the area.

“Any luck so far?” Dain called out to Cabur, as he struggled to lift a particularly large chunk of duracrete.

“No, not so far…” Cabur replied, cursing himself for feeling so useless.

So far, they had only found the dead. Six civilians and eight clone troopers. The clone troopers had at least come out of the explosion looking relatively unbattered; their armour had protected their bodies, leaving relatively intact corpses. The civilians, however, had been utterly pulverised, either by the explosion or by flying debris. It was a grisly sight, and as hardened as he was to violence, Cabur felt sick. These people had not deserved their fate.

Cabur struck his armour-plated leg with a fist, a frustration-born habit that he had picked up from his training sergeant, Ambu Kelborn. Shaking off his feelings, Cabur returned to his search, hoping that there were survivors to be recovered, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. He activated his shoulder-mounted thermal scanner and swept it over the wreckage, hoping to pick up any signs of life.

Suddenly, Cabur detected a life-sign. It was faint, but it was there. He frantically began digging under the wreckage, throwing pieces of debris away haphazardly.

“Dain! Dain, I’ve found someone! He’s alive!” Cabur shouted, waving his arms to attract attention, Dain quickly rushed over to help, hastily throwing aside the slab of debris.

Lying pinned under the wreckage was a human male, perhaps in his mid-thirties. He was covered in dust and he was badly injured; blood was pouring freely down his forehead. His uniform had been damaged by the explosion, but Cabur could see that he was a private.

“Help me…please help me…” The man pleaded, his voice barely above a whisper. Tremblingly, he slowly held his arm out to Cabur.

“What’s your name?”

“R-Rall Xalrich…” He struggled to speak, he was clearly in a lot of pain, and he was afraid.

Cabur looked around, hoping to see someone coming to help. Dain, now standing by Cabur’s side, was peering at him curiously, but he was the only one, the other commandos and rescue teams were looking for other survivors and clearing out the area. Slowly, Cabur reached up and took his helmet off, revealing his shaved head and stubbly jaw. Then, just as cautiously, he took Rall’s hand in his own.

“Mine’s Cabur, it means ‘Guardian’. I’m a medic; I’m going to help.”

Rall looked faintly hopeful. Cabur reached for his bacta injector and prepared to attend to Rall. Cabur struggled to keep his hands steady; he knew that it would make no difference. Rall was too badly injured; he would die soon. Perhaps if he had been found earlier…

Cabur swallowed, the least he could do was make Rall’s last moments as comfortable as possible. He did not need to know that he was dying. There was no point in letting his last moments be filled with terror.

A voice from behind Cabur spoke up “Medic, you’re needed elsewhere; we’ve recovered an injured clone trooper.”

Cabur turned and saw an ARC captain standing over them. Ordo, Cabur thought, struggling not to scowl. He quickly put his helmet back on to hide his expression.

Cabur looked over and saw the man to whom Ordo was referring to. The armour around his torso had been removed, revealing the bodysuit underneath. It was torn and ragged, and Cabur could see that there was blood flowing freely down his side. Beside him, however, was a medic, who was helping the trooper to apply pressure to the wound. It looked bad, Cabur admitted, but it looked like the trooper would survive, the injury was not critical, and he was being attended to already. Which was more than he could say for Rall.

“He’ll live,” Cabur said curtly, turning his attention back to Rall “But this man won’t. Just give me a few minutes with him, I need to stay with him until he dies. I won’t let him do it alone.”
Ordo sighed and stepped closer, one hand held out, as if preparing to grab Cabur “You’re right, he is going to die; so there’s no point in wasting precious time. Your vode, the ones who actually stand a chance, they need you now.”

Cabur struggled not to whirl around and punch Ordo for his callousness. Rall might not be one of his brothers, but he did not deserve to die here, scared and in pain.

Dain took a step towards the pair “Captain, perhaps-”

Ordo held out a hand to silence Dain, and he went immediately mute.

“I won’t ask again, medic.”

Cabur twisted around to face Ordo “If this man is going to die, then he will not do so in fear and alone. I’m going to stay with him, Captain, until he passes on. I don’t care what your orders are.” His voice was low, his tone adamant. And really, why should he follow Ordo’s orders? Ordo so rarely followed General Zey’s, or anyone other than Skirata’s for that matter. Cabur scowled, speculating that Ordo had learned his callous behaviour from Skirata. He always fretted over clone casualties, but whenever a Jedi, civilian or non-clone officer was reported dead, Skirata never seemed to care less. Cabur found it disgusting, whether a person was born or cloned, they were still people, and their deaths were always tragic and worth mourning. These men and women had family and friends, it was not right to dismiss their lives as meaningless.

Ordo stiffened, and Cabur wondered if the Null was glowering at him from beneath his helmet, or remaining stoic. Then, before Cabur could go back to Rall, Ordo’s hand shot out and grabbed Cabur’s arm firmly. Ordo roughly pulled Cabur up and began to drag him away, towards the injured trooper.

“Let go!” Cabur snarled, twisting frantically in Ordo’s grip.

“Captain!” Dain exclaimed in shock, rushing forward to assist Cabur.

“Stand down, private!” Ordo ordered, his patience since used up. Dain froze, as if he had been stunned, before backing off.

“Rall can’t be alone!” Cabur brought his free fist down onto Ordo’s arm, but if he felt any pain, he did not show it.

“Listen to me! He is going to die, you di’kut! He is going to die and you can’t save him! You are done wasting time with that aruetii!” Ordo snapped.

Behind them, Rall let out a pitiful cry.  Ordo and Cabur froze. Ordo had said that out loud. He winced, evidently, he had not meant to. The damage had been done though, and Rall was whimpering softly. Cabur wrenched his arm free, slugged Ordo with enough force to stagger him and hurried back to Rall’s side.

“Sssh, it’s okay, Rall, I’m here,” Cabur said softly, trying to be comforting. He took his helmet off again and gripped Rall’s hand in his own.

“Don’t leave me…please, don’t…” Rall sobbed faintly.

Cabur was dimly aware that his sergeant, Jawbreaker, and Ordo were screaming at each other, but he paid them no mind. Rall was the sole focus of his attention. Even when Rall’s hand went limp and his breathing stopped, Cabur paid the others no heed. Not even when Dain came over and gingerly placed a hand on Cabur’s shoulder. He sighed, closed his eyes and hung his head.
After the boming of Bravo Depot at the hands of terrorists, clone commando Cabur stumbles across a dying man.

Aruetii: Non-Mandalorian

Vode: Brothers

Di’kut: Idiot

“Bruiser, what in the haran have you done to your armour?” Ambu asked, goggling at his friend.

Varos “Bruiser” Bralor stood proud in his bright orange armour. At over two meters tall, he was by far the tallest of the group, and carried a war hammer made of pure beskar. He had, however, removed his vambraces and rerebraces, leaving his large, rippling muscles completely exposed.

Bruiser shrugged, “Why deny the galaxy my beautiful arms? It’d be a crime to try.”

In front of Bruiser, Ambu Kelborn could only stare. He was clad in predominantly white-painted armour. His T-visor and gauntlets were green, and there were stripes along his shoulder and leg plates.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Montross,” Darik, Ambu’s younger brother, said, shooting a glance at Montross’ similarly exposed arms, before shaking his head.

Much like Ambu’s armour, Darik’s was painted white. Unlike his brother, however, it was entirely so, with no other colours or markings adorning its surface, save for the yellow coloured T-visor. Instead, he had secured a pair of horns to his helmet. Attached to his belt was a pair of nexu-hide holsters, each one holding a WESTAR-35 blaster pistol. At that moment however, he held a blaster rifle. Stencilled onto its side were the letters S-N-O, written in the Mandalorian alphabet.

Behind them, Montross let out a short, derisive laugh “Too much time with me? No such thing.”

“If either of you di’kute gets shot in an area which you’ve left wide open, don’t come crying to me.” Bruiser’s cousin, Rav rolled her eyes.

Davik, Ambu and Bruiser let out laughs, but Montross just scowled. Further ahead of the line, Jaster threw a glance back their way.

“Can the chatter you lot, we’re trying to stay undetected here, and I don’t want to take a risk by assuming they haven’t tapped our frequency.” He ordered.

After that, they spend the rest of the day in relative silence. Following a few more hours of marching, with no sign of their Death Watch adversaries, Jaster eventually decided that they would set up camp for the night. There were to be no fires, or tents. Instead, they would subsist off of gihaal and sleep in their armour, under the stars, with only thin mats underneath them. It would not be comfortable, but it would be enough.

They had arrived on Concord Dawn only the day before. They were hunting the Death Watch, a splinter faction of the True Mandalorians. While Jaster and his men had wanted to turn to lives as mercenaries and forget their past as violent conquerors, Tor Vizsla and his men longed to return to it. They were violent savages who wanted nothing but bloodshed. It was, in Ambu’s opinion, destructive, shameful and pointless. They had lost millennia ago, and the Mandalorians of old had far superior numbers than their descendants. If they attempted such folly now, they would be easily swatted down, as they had been centuries prior, during the Mandalorian Excision.

Knowing the frivolity of Vizsla’s mission was not why Ambu had sided with Jaster and the True Mandalorians, however. Ambu had long been disillusioned with the Mandalorians, their history, their culture, but when Jaster had taken up the title of Mand’alor, he had promised reforms, that he would bring honour back to the Mandalorians, that they would cease to be violent thugs. It brought hope to Ambu, for he truly believed that Jaster could deliver his promises. He was a good man, an honest man, an honourable man, and Ambu was proud to fight alongside him.

“Dinner, dear brother?” Darik asked, holding out a piece of dry, unappetising looking gihaal to Ambu.

Ambu snorted “Thanks, I really appreciate it.”

“Eh, you get used to it,” Darik said, his voice muffled as he shovelled food into his mouth “It’s more tolerable if you shove it quick in and try not to chew,” He explained after Ambu shot him a questioning look.

Reluctantly, Ambu took the gihaal from Darik’s hand, and tried to force it down in spite of the awful taste. They sat in relative silence while doing so. Ambu was beginning to find the quiet stifling and was glad when Darik finally broke the silence.

“So…when we find them, do you think we’ll see Gerrick?” Darik asked hesitantly.

And now Ambu wished that the quiet had continued. Gerrick, their cousin, had signed up with Vizsla’s forces. So had some of their other relatives and former friends, for that matter, but to them, Gerrick was the most prominent. They had been close as children, but had begun to drift apart as they entered their teens. Gerrick changed, he grew harder, colder, more vicious. Whether it was because he had been pushed too far during his training, or because his mind had been poisoned by Vizsla and his sentiments, they did not know. Perhaps he had always been that way.

Ambu gave Darik a remorseful look “Perhaps. Vizsla has a lot of men with him.”

Darik sighed and gripped his shoulders “I always hoped that he’d stop fighting with Vizsla and come back to us. We’ve lost so many people to the Death Watch, it kills me to think that our own cousin could join them.”  

Ambu felt the same way. The boy that he had grown up with, had played games with, might have killed his family, his old friends. He might try to the same to me and Darik, Ambu thought, clenching his hands into fists. Or, Ambu realised with a start, one of us might have to kill him. It was a sobering thought, the idea that he might have to kill his own cousin. Ambu felt his stomach churn. He hoped, that if it came down to it, he would be the one to do so. Darik had already lost so many of his friends, it would be unfair if he would have to live with the guilt of striking down a family member.

Ambu gave his brother a sideways glance “What do you think of Jaster?” He asked, hoping to change the topic.

Darik gave his brother a curious look “Jaster’s probably the best chance we have of regaining the honour we’ve lost.”

Ambu let out a long sigh and stared up at the stars “I’ve been thinking about that. Sometimes I wonder…did we even have it to begin with?”

Darik shot Ambu a surprised look “What do you mean by that?”

“It’s just…with all of the things we’ve done in the past, can we really say we have honour? It seems that what we called honour was just an excuse to commit atrocities. Look at the genocide of the Cathar, was that honourable? We rounded them up in the middle of the night, drove them into the ocean and vaporised them from orbit.” There was a disgusted look on Ambu’s face “And then there’s the nuking of Serroco, the orbital bombardment of Duros, how we set the native people of Zongorlu on fire for entertainment. The list goes on.”

“Well…that was a long time ago, vod. We were different people then…” Darik offered weakly.

“We used Basiliskan slaves for thousands of years after we took their homeworld, stole their technology and made them mindless beasts. We worked for the Sith Empire even after Mandalore the Preserver tried to redeem the Mandalorians, committing atrocities for them. Haran, the genocide of the Ithullans wasn’t even two-hundred years ago.” Ambu gave Darik a sad, weary look “We can say that we’ve changed, but we haven’t not really. But with Jaster, I think that we have a chance, a real chance of gaining the honour we’ve always claimed that we had. He’s a good man, an honourable man, he’ll do right by you.”

A confused look came across Darik’s face “Right by me? Don’t you mean by us?”

Ambu winced “Damn, slip of the tongue…” He sighed and faced his brother “Look, Darik, I’ve been meaning to tell you…”

“Tell me what, Ambu?” Darik asked, frowning.

“Look, you know that this mercenary life isn’t for me. I’m not a warrior like the rest of you. I only joined up the True Mandalorians because I couldn’t sit back and let the Death Watch rampage through the galaxy. If not for them, I’d have taken Iadee and left Mandalorian space altogether.”

There was a brief pause, before Darik began to frown.

“You don’t mean that, Ambu,” he said softly.

Ambu sighed “Darik, please, try to understand-”

Darik cut his brother off “You don’t mean it, I know you don’t. This is just like you, Ambu, your nerves have got the better of you.” Darik let out a soft, nervous chuckle “You were like this when we were kids too. Always complaining about our training, always whining to mum or Avry, you were so soft.”

Ambu frowned and grabbed his brother’s shoulder “Darik, please, we-!”

“We’ll talk about this later, when you’ve realised how stupid you sound. Night, vod.” And at that, Darik shook of Ambu’s hand and walked away, back to his mat.

Ambu sighed and laid down, his eyes on the stars. He would have to try again at some point, and hope that Darik would understand.

At first light, the troupe woke and resumed their march through the seemingly endless expanse of wheat. They trundled along in silence, Jaster once again at the lead.

After hours of walking, they finally reached the end of the wheat field, and found themselves in a rocky clearing. To his dismay, Ambu saw another wheat field ahead of them, it seemed that they would be crossing through it. It was very tiring, he found himself yearning for a change in scenery.

“Alright, we’re out in the open. Keep low and keep it quiet, but hurry. I don’t want to be out here for any longer than necessary,” Jaster ordered.

The Mandalorian directly ahead of Ambu snorted “Not like we need to be quiet, those Death Watch di’kutes couldn’t hit the broad side of a-”

It was at precisely that moment that the unfortunate man was struck in the side of his head by a blaster bolt. His smoking corpse sprawled onto the ground in an undignified heap.

“Death Watch! Take cover!” Jaster cried out, ducking down to minimise his profile.

At once, his fellow Mandalorians rushed for whatever cover they would find. Fortunately for them, the area was littered with boulders and rocky outcroppings. Ambu and Darik both ran and pressed their backs to a particularly large boulder. Ambu ducked down, peeked around the rock and opened fire on the Death Watch soldiers. Two crumpled lifelessly as Ambu’s shots him them solidly in their abdomens.

“A fair bit more exciting than hunting, eh Ambu?” Darik asked as a chunk of rock the size of his fist exploded by his head.

“Yeah, well, the tuskcats never fired back!”  Ambu shot back, blaster bolts whizzing by his head.

There was a roar from beside them, and Darik and Kelborn snapped their heads to see a pair of Death Watch soldiers running at them. Before either of them could react, their enemies were upon them. Ambu found himself on the ground, his weapon was torn from his grip and tossed aside.

“I’m gonna enjoy gutting you!” The Death Watch warrior growled, extending his forearm mounted vibroblade. With his other hand, he pinned one of Ambu’s arm to the ground.

Ambu’s free hand shot up and grabbed the man’s arm, struggling to keep him from bringing the vibroblade down. In the corner of his eye, he could see Darik in a similar situation, he and his assailant were rolling on the ground, trading blows. Ambu turned his attention back to the man who was trying to kill him. The muscles in his arm were straining to hold back his assailant, but he could feel the Death Watch warrior’s arm begin to weaken, his arm was starting to shake.

“Just…die already!” The Death Watch member snapped.

With a sudden surge of energy, Ambu’s arm broke free of the Death Watch’s grasp and he punched the man in the side of the head. He let out a cry of pain as he toppled sideways. Ambu’s eyes frantically swept across the battlefield, until he saw his blaster just a few feet away. As the Death Watch member lay dazed on the ground, Ambu rushed to the weapon, turned and fired on the downed man. He let out a brief cry of pain, before his life was extinguished. Ambu then whirled and did the same to the man who was still grappling with Darik.

“Hey, I could have taken him!” Darik exclaimed as he rose to his feet.

“Oh, just be grateful that I saved your life!” Ambu snapped as he slapped a fresh charge pack into the blaster.

Darik just growled, before picking up his blaster rifle and going back into the fray. It was madness as all around them, both sides fought and died. Ambu saw Rav Bralor firing into the unarmoured throat of a Death Watch warrior she had knocked down. Not far away, Montross was on top of another, his hands around their neck, strangling the life out of them. As if trying to outdo Montross, Skirata was viciously stabbing a third member of the Death Watch to death, the blood flying everywhere, coating Skirata’s armour.

“Looks like we might actually win this! We can finally wipe ‘em out!” Darik shouted in triumph, as all around them, the Death Watch were falling.

As if to spite Darik, it was at that moment that Death Watch reinforcements arrived. In the skies, a number of Balutar-class swoops came screaming into view, firing death and destruction into the True Mandalorian forces. The ground exploded from underneath them, dirt and bodies were sent flying and those being hit let out cries of pain and surprise. As if that were not enough, a battle tank came crashing onto the scene, firing a barrage of lasers into the already shocked forces. Riding atop it was the leader of the Death Watch, Tor Vizsla, unmistakable in his polished black armour and ragged, red cape.

“Are you kriffing kidding me?! A tank?!” Ambu shouted out in shock and frustration.  

“Better get moving, ner vod!” Darik exclaimed as he made a run for safety.

Ambu nodded and made to follow his brother, both of them ducking and weaving to avoid enemy blasterfire. Suddenly, the two heard a loud whining noise. Ambu looked up in time to see a driverless Death Watch speeder come hurtling towards them, black smoke pouring from its back.

“Look out!” Ambu cried, shoving Darik out of the way.

Both of them were thrown off of their feet as the speeder crash landed near them. Darik was thrown clear of the wreckage and into one of the nearby wheat fields. Dazed, Ambu lay on the ground, his ears ringing loudly. He tried to stagger to his feet, but collapsed after going no more than a few steps. He groaned weakly, before trying again. This time, however, a boot knocked him back down. Ambu forced his head to look up, dreading what he would see.

Standing over him was a member of the Death Watch with a blue T-visor. He had a carbine in one hand, and the weapon was aimed squarely at Ambu. There was no pithy one liner, no cruel taunt, just a man who was going to kill him and the blaster with which to do it.

For a tense few seconds, Ambu waited for his end to come, for that single shot. Instead he saw a blur of orange and silver, as Bruiser’s hammer slammed into the man’s back. The Death Watch member let out a scream of agony before collapsing bonelessly onto the ground. Bruiser pulled Ambu to his feet.

“Thanks, Bruiser, I owe you one!” Ambu exclaimed as he and Bruiser ran for cover.

“Buy me a pint later and we’ll call it even, ner vod!”

“In here!” A voice hissed at them.

Bruiser and Ambu looked in the direction of the noise. It had come from one of the wheat fields, and peering closely, Ambu could just make out Darik, staying low to the ground. Bruiser and Ambu traded quick glances, before they both hurried into the cover of the wheat. At that point, the battle was dying down, most of the True Mandalorians had been slain, yet those that were still alive were fighting ferociously. A surge of relief washed over Ambu when he saw that Jaster was still alive, still firing at the Death Watch soldiers.

Jaster, Montross and three others made a dash for the wheat field. Montross was covering the rear and would periodically turn and fire wildly in the direction of the Death Watch. Most shots sailed wide, but a few found their mark, striking the pursuing warriors in their heads, their abdomens, their arms. Those unlucky few were sent sprawling to the ground, those that were still alive were howling in pain.

“He’s making them work for it,” Bruiser murmured, his voice filled with approval.

“Montross is a scary shabuir, but you can’t doubt his skills,” Ambu whispered back.

From their position, they could clearly see Vizsla as he raised his blaster and fired at the fleeing figures, and they could certainly hear him.

“You can’t escape me, Jaster! I’ll burn all your hiding places to the ground and execute anyone who helps you! And when you have nowhere else to run, I’ll have your head!

Before Vizsla could take more than a step, a hand weakly clutched at his leg. Glancing down at it, he saw a badly injured member of the Death Watch. With a start, Ambu realised that it was the same one that Bruiser had struck in the back minutes earlier. He was alive after that? Kelborn could not believe it. Bruiser had struck that Death Watch member with enough force to shatter bones; the man’s spine would have been destroyed.

“Lord Vizsla…help…me…” The man gasped out, faintly.

“Get up, chakaar,” Vizsla commanded dispassionately.

“Can’t…my back…it’s broken…”

Vizsla let out a grunt of annoyance. Ambu’s eyes shot open in surprise as Vizsla unholstered his rifle and...

“You are of no more use to me,” Vizsla said.

The downed Mandalorian motioned weakly “Wait…don’t-”

And at that, Vizsla fired into the injured man’s head. He looked up and faced the other members of the Death Watch, gesturing to them with his still smoking blaster.

“Let that be a lesson to you all. If you can’t fight, you’re just dead weight. The weak and the useless will be shown no mercy.”

The remaining Death Watch members did not react at all; they did not even spare the dead man a glance.

The grim sight reminded Kelborn just what he was fighting for.

Who he was fighting for.

After a moment, the surviving Death Watch forces ran off after Jaster and those with him. Vizsla cast a look over the area, before he followed his men. For a few tense minutes, Ambu, Bruiser and Darik remained in their hiding places, worried that the Death Watch might double back and discover them. When they were sure that none of the Death Watch would return, they hesitantly rose. Ambu surveyed the area, casting his gaze over the dead, Death Watch and True Mandalorian alike.  

“Is…is there anyone still alive? Besides us?” Ambu whispered in horror.

As if on cue, several forms came out of their hiding places, either in the wheat field or behind rocks. Rav was one of them, and at the sight of her, Bruiser rushed over and the two butted heads, relieved that the other was alive. Skirata was another, and he held that knife of his clenched firmly in one hand. Ambu saw that it was dripping blood, no part of the blade was clean.

“What do we do now?” Darik asked, looking at Ambu uncertainly.

Ambu cast his eyes towards the direction that Jaster and his men had run off, closely followed by Tor Vizsla and his forces.

“Now, we go after them. I refuse to let Jaster die at the hands of some Death Watch dog. Come on, we’re moving out.”

And at that, Ambu rushed off after his leader. After a moment, Darik ran to catch up with him, and one by one, the other survivors followed. Their blasters were raised and they were ready. This time, they would not be caught off-guard. This time, they would finally finish off the Death Watch.
The Last Fight Part I
Reluctant warrior Ambu Kelborn, vows to leave the True Mandalorians. But first, he must help his brothers defeat the Death Watch, once and for all. Prequel story to Kelborn and Cadets. Two-shot.

Thanks to zang-zip and DC-26 for being beta readers.

Haran: Mandalorian Hell

Di’kute: Idiots

Mand’alor: Leader

Shabuir: Extreme insult

Ner vod: My brother/friend

Chakaar: Scumbag, general insult


25 BBY

"How is he?" Kelborn asked, trying to conceal the concern in his voice.

"There are significant burns on his face, and even with bacta, I am afraid that there will be scarring," Nala Se reported regretfully, frowning.

Kelborn supressed a groan and looked at the boy lying prone on the medical bed. Cadet 1158 had been attempting to plant a breaching charge as part of the commando cadets training. However, the lesson had gone awry and Five-Eight had been caught in the blast. Now, there he was in the infirmary, placed in a medically induced coma as the Kaminoan medics worked on him. Mij Gilamar had insisted that he worked on Five-Eight, convinced that the Kaminiise would try to murder to boy as he lay on the operating table. Kelborn had staunchly refused, not wanting that shabuir anywhere near his cadet or the infirmary. Knowing Gilamar, he'd probably threaten the medics, preventing them from getting any work done, while simultaneously stealing everything not bolted down, Kelborn thought with disdain.

At that moment, a yellow-eyed Kaminoan male walked into-the med bay. He paused, upon seeing Kelborn standing in the room, then relaxed as recognition set in. Kelborn understood, Doctor Ulirii No was weary around Mandalorians, and with good reason.

Ulirii No had a nick in his headcrest where Null-10, Jaing, had shot him. The shot had meant to fly over his head as No was sitting, but when he had stood up, the bolt took a sliver of skin with it. Had the Kaminoan stood up a second earlier, he would have been killed. Not that Skirata had cared, he hadn't given a damn. It did not matter to him that the being who had been hurt was not Orun Wa or Ko Sai, just that he was a Kaminoan, so he automatically had it coming.

"Sergeant Kelborn, Nala Se." Ulirii No nodded at them in greeting "How is our patient?"

Nala Se filled Ulirii No in on the extent of Five-Eight’s injuries. The doctor tutted regretfully and hovered over the boy, peering closely at him with his wide, yellow eyes. After a moment, he frowned and shook his head.

“A terrible shame. I have told Ko Sai that we need to enforce stricter safety measures during training,” He shot a frustrated look at Kelborn “What use is an army if half of them are maimed or crippled before deployment? And that’s not even going into those poor youths that have died during the course of their training! What is it they call that dreadful place? The killing house? It is senseless! A disgrace!”  

Kelborn stood there in awkward silence. He was right, it was senseless, it was a disgrace. He hated that he could not do anything about it. This was Jango and Ko Sai’s show, and he doubted he could say anything to convince either of them to change the training program. Then there was the sergeants who took training too far, Vau, Reau and Priest chiefly among them. They wanted to weed out the weak, they did that by pitting the clones against each other. Most of the time, they died, but there were some so grievously injured that even if they survived, they’d never really recover.

Kelborn tore his gaze away from Ulirii No in shame. He turned to look at Five-Eight’s prone form instead, and then swept his gaze over the other injured clone troopers in the med ward. More victims of a brutal training regime that probably did more harm than good. Even those that had not been physically injured in the course of training still suffered mentally and emotionally. Only the other day he had seen such effects. One of Wad’e Tay’haai’s squads had gone into the killing house, only one member came out alive. The boy had been shell-shocked by what had happened in there, struck completely silent and seemingly unaware of his surroundings.

Kelborn punched his armoured leg in frustration. Had he known that Fett would allow this kind of training to take place, he wouldn’t have taken the job, money be damned.

Nala Se peered at Kelborn closely, sensing his turmoil even without being able to see his face “Perhaps we should allow the medics to take care of Five-Eight. We can do no more for him now, and remaining here will serve no purpose.”

Kelborn nodded, he wished to leave immediately, suddenly the room seemed small and oppressing. He quickly strode out of the room, Nala Se following closely behind him as Ulirii No remained behind to tend to Five-Eight.

Kelborn and Nala Se walked in silence, Kelborn not wishing to talk and Nala Se not knowing what to say to appease him.

The two turned a corner and were horrified by what they saw. Lying on the floor was a dead Kaminoan, his large blue eyes frozen open, stuck in an expression of fear. The Kaminoan had clearly been savaged by something, for the body was covered in large, bloody claw and bite marks. The arms bore the brunt of the wounds, as if the Kaminoan had tried-and failed-to defend himself. There was a large pool of blood surrounding his body, and it stood in shocking contrast to the sterile white floor.

They heard a growl and only then noticed that there was something beside the body. Digging into the body's side was an animal. It had six legs, leathery, wrinkled skin, a long, whip-like tail and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. As of that moment, its maw was covered in blood and froth.

Kelborn knew exactly what the beast was, what it was called and who it belonged to. Lord Mirdalan, the pet strill of Sergeant Walon Vau. Unlike Skirata, Kelborn had a measure of respect for Vau. At least he treated his cadets like soldiers and not like children. Even so, Kelborn found many of Vau’s training practices to be far too brutal. Making his cadets battle one another was one thing, Kelborn had no problem with sparring, but Vau would make them brutalise each other. And for those that didn’t want to fight their brothers, they would have to fight Vau instead, and Vau fought with a heavy, viciously sharp beskad. And while Kelborn had no love for Ordo, even he found Vau setting Mird on him unprovoked to be cruel and unnecessary.

Kelborn stepped forward, unafraid and stared the strill down. It narrowed its eyes and bared it's fearsome teeth, a growl rising up in its throat.

"Sergeant! What-?" Nala Se began, only to trail off as Kelborn raised a hand to shush her.

The strill growled at Kelborn, blood and spittle dripping from its fanged maw, but Kelborn did not back down. Instead, he let out a shout of his own and kicked Lord Mirdalan solidly in the ribs. The beast let out a yelp of pain and skittered backwards, away from the corpse of the Kaminoan. It growled again, although this time it was weaker, pained.

"You caught me in a bad mood, you little shabuir," Kelborn hissed at the strill, before lunging forward again. He delivered a second kick to its ribs, harder than the first time. Lord Mirdalan let out a sharp cry, before turning tail and fleeing, whimpering in pain as it did so.

Kelborn sighed, before turning to the corpse on the ground. Kneeling down, he bent closer to examine it, taking his helmet off to do so.

"Oh my goodness!" Nala Se breathed, her hands pressed to her mouth, her wide silver eyes open in shock and horror.

"Did you know this man?" Kelborn asked, closing the dead Kaminoan's eyes, the large blue irises unseeing.

"His name is…was, Fi Nurto. He was a worker, he performed manual labour." Nala Se hesitated, before adding "He did not deserve this." There was a touch of anger in her voice, faint, almost unnoticeable.

Kelborn exhaled and closed his eyes "No, no he did not. I am sorry.”

"I have seen that beast before, it is the companion of one of the instructors! A sergeant Walon Vau, the dreadfully violent man," Nala Se said, seemingly unable to tear her gaze away from Nurto's body.

Kelborn stood up "Yes, he is and yes, that monster is his pet. But that is something I hope to correct, very soon." At that, he put on his helmet and strode quickly, purposefully down the corridor, heading towards Vau's quarters.

"Vau! Get out here! Now!" Kelborn roared, pounding one fist on the door to the sergeant's quarters, the other fist clenched firmly and held by his side.

There was a momentary pause, before the door opened and there stood a man clad head-to-toe in black beskar'gam. In his hands he held a coil of bandages. Kelborn was forced to take a step back, the room smelled awful. There was the sharp scent of strill, only stronger, likely due to Lord Mirdalan spending so much time there, combined with a lack of sufficient ventilation. That, and the salty smell of sweat and unwashed skin, only adding to Kelborn's theory that Vau really never took off his armour.

"What do you want, Kelborn? I'm busy," Vau said, brusquely, apparently not bothered by the stench.

Kelborn looked past Vau and into his room. On his bed he could see Lord Mirdalan, resting there and whimpering. Vau had wound bandages around his ribs, where Kelborn had struck him. Vau saw that Kelborn was looking at the strill and glanced back at the injured beast, before turning back to face Kelborn again.

"I'll kill Skirata when I get my hands on him. He did this because I set Mird on Ordo, I'm sure of it." Vau's hands clenched on the bandages he was holding "Make it quick, Kelborn."

"I'm here because we need to talk about your little pet," Kelborn said icily.
Vau suddenly seemed more alert and his body stiffened "What about Mird?" He asked, his voice low and dangerous.

"You need to keep it on a much shorter leash, Vau. Or else next time I might not let it off with a few cracked ribs."

Vau bristled "You did this to Mird?"

Kelborn crossed his arms "I see a savage animal having mauled a man to death, I tend to try to put it down."

He was playing a dangerous game, he knew. Skirata might not be willing to kill him for breaking Ordo’s arm, but Vau had much less restraint than he did. Kelborn fully believed that Vau might kill him for hurting Mird. Glancing back into the room, he saw that Vau’s beskad was easily within his reach, leaning against the wall near the door. If Vau wanted to, he could easily grab it and slit Kelborn’s throat before he could react.

“What are you talking about?” Vau asked, and while Kelborn could not be sure, he was sure that Vau was eyeing his blade.

“Your pet killed one of the Kaminoan workers. Why, Vau? He was just a worker, not one of the scientists. What, did he look at you funny?” Kelborn asked, anger creeping into his voice.

Vau shrugged "Bad timing.”

Kelborn blinked in surprise “What?”

Vau shot a glance back at Mird “I let him out to hunt, he gets restless otherwise. It’s not like he killed a cadet, it was just a lowly Kaminii," Vau said simply.

"And that justifies that vermin killing an innocent being?!" Kelborn snapped, his hands clenched tightly.

"Why do you care, Kelborn? I doubt the Kaminiise will. Besides he was just one of the worker-caste. There’s a million more like him, he’s easily enough replaced."

Kelborn’s blood boiled at Vau’s callousness "His caste makes no difference! I care because, as I said, an innocent being died because your pet is a vicious little monster! Empathy might be a foreign concept to you, Vau, but some of us find the idea of people being mauled to death for no other reason than poor timing to be abhorrent!"

"Weakness, you mean? Softness?" Vau asked with derision.

“Compassion is not weakness, Vau. I don’t know what happened to you to make you think otherwise, but you’re wrong. If we abandon our ability to feel for others, we become no better than the Death Watch.”

“You’re comparing me to the Death Watch now?” Vau asked, a slight note of incredulity to his voice.  

“You let your pet loose, it killed a man and you don’t care.” Kelborn pointed out “Right now, you don’t seem too different from them. Killing for killings sake, no rhyme or reason to it.”

Vau crossed his arms “If you’re trying to rattle me, you’re out of luck. You might be used to getting under Skirata’s skin, but you’ll find that mine is much thicker.”
Kelborn exhaled “So, I take it that you’re going to keep letting that animal loose in the city?”

Vau shrugged “Perhaps. I wouldn’t want Mird to get restless. And if he happens to kill any more lowly Kaminiise, well…I doubt anyone but you will care.”

From under his helmet, Kelborn glared at Vau “Jaster would be disgusted with you. It was Mandalorians like you that he fought against. That we fought against. Psychotic thugs who thought they could get away with killing whenever they wanted to.”

Vau did not move at all, and when he spoke, his tone was calm “I think we’re done here, Kelborn.”

And at that, he closed the door in Kelborn’s face. He stood there for a minute, his hands clenched tightly into fists, his face pulled down in a deep scowl. After a moment, he turned and stormed off.  
Strill Hunting
Part four in a series focusing on sergeant Ambu Kelborn of the Cuy'val Dar and his cadets on Kamino.

Arutiise: Non-Mandalorian, can also mean traitor.

Shabuir: Extreme insult

Kaminiise: Kaminoans


24 BBY

Ambu Kelborn strode down the sterile white hallways of Kamino, a towel flung over one shoulder. For once, he was not clad from head to toe in a set of green-and-white, durasteel beskar'gam. The clone soldiers he passed on the way to the communal refreshers seemed shocked by the sight of a member of the Cuy'val Dar out of armour. Hardly surprising, since none of the other Mandalorian members seemed to ever take them off. Kelborn believed that they never did, it would certainly explain why they all smelled as bad as they did. Unlike them, however, he believed in actually bathing.

He paused as he walked by the door to the lavatories. He wasn't certain, but he thought he had heard something, a struggle? Kelborn frowned, fights between the cadets were common, usually they were just releasing pent up aggression, but sometimes they were more serious. Certain cadets, like the ones trained by Dred Priest, Isabet Reau and of course, Skirata, were more prone to violent outbursts and could seriously injure the other cadets. Sighing in exasperation, he opened the door and stepped into the refresher.

Kelborn saw one of the older cadets was holding the head of a younger boy down the toilet. Anger swelled up with Kelborn and he rushed forward, violently grabbing the cadet, pulling him back and slamming him into the wall. The cadet's eyes widened in alarm at the sudden attack. Kelborn's eyes narrowed as he realised who he had grabbed. It was Ordo, there was no mistaking the physique, even by commando standards, his muscles were large and well developed. Kelborn glowered at him, finding his behaviour appalling. Close by, the boy had pulled his head out of the lavatory and was coughing loudly, trying to pull air into his lungs.

"You alright, cadet?" Kelborn shouted out to the boy, not taking his gaze off of Ordo.

"I-I'm not a cadet, I-I-I…" The boy stammered, staring at Ordo with wide, fearful eyes through his sopping wet hair.

Kelborn stole a glance at the boy and felt as if the bottom of his stomach had vanished. Oh, fierfek, he thought, realising that the boy was indeed not a cadet, it was Jango's son, Boba. There was no mistaking him, his hair was longer than the cadets, having not had it shaved down, and he was not wearing the standard uniforms of the cadets.

Kelborn turned his attention back to Ordo "Alright, you little osik-stain, you tell me what this was about, right now!" He finished his sentence by pulling Ordo back and shoving him back into the wall again.

Ordo scowled at him, but remained tight-lipped. Kelborn exhaled, swung his arm back and punched Ordo in the stomach with all of his strength. Ordo let out a gasp of air and spittle, his eyes bulging wide in their sockets. Nearby, Boba flinched.

"You know, N-11, I could do this all day, this is very therapeutic for me," Kelborn said, meaning it. After seeing Ordo and his brothers run wild about Kamino for years, shooting at technicians, stealing equipment and disrupting lessons, punishing the brat felt very cathartic.

"My name is Ordo!" The Null spat, his eyes full of anger.

"No, no you don't deserve that name!" Kelborn snapped, shoving Ordo roughly again "Canderous Ordo would be ashamed to know that he'd been named after a psychotic, whiny little thug like you! Fierfek, I think he'd be ashamed of the state of the Mandalorians as a whole these days! Despite how much Skirata preaches about how great our culture is, we've become stagnant and pathetic! Nowadays, we hold petty grudges when in days past, we would respect stronger opponents. When a Jedi beat us, we'd be proud that we lost to such a skilled warrior, now we just whine about how horrible they are! So no, N-11, you do not get to profane Canderous Ordo's name! Now, you tell me, N-11, why did you feel the need to assault the kid?!"

Ordo bared his teeth at Kelborn and growled, before he started to struggle, trying to worm his way out of Kelborn's grip. In response, Kelborn tilted his head down, clenched his teeth, stiffened his neck muscles and head-butted him. The blow struck Ordo right in the nose, and Kelborn was satisfied to hear a wet, meaty crunch. He might not have broken Ordo's nose, but he had at least done some damage. To his credit, Ordo did not howl or cry out, instead he let out a stifled noise and scrunched his eyes up. From the sidelines, Boba watched on in fascinated horror.

Blood now coated Kelborn's face, and he tried to shake it off, sending smatterings of blood flying through the air, striking the floors, the walls, and Ordo. Abruptly, Kelborn twisted Ordo around and pulled his arm roughly behind him, making the young man cry out in pain "You know, maybe I could try breaking the other arm?"

"I did it because he said that Jango could beat up Kal'buir!" Ordo spat, his words filled with venom.

Kelborn felt his jaw drop and stared at Ordo with wide, disbelieving eyes "You attacked him because he said…?"

All at once, a terrible fury surged into Kelborn, and he saw only red.

"You vile! Pathetic! Psychotic! Disgrace!" Kelborn screamed, punctuating each word with a punch to Ordo's body.

He was dimly aware of Ordo crying out in pain and Boba shouting in alarm, but it was as if he was hearing it from a great distance. As quickly as his rage had come over him, it just as soon vanished, and Kelborn saw himself standing over the bruised, beaten and bloody form of Ordo Skirata. The boy was conscious, but barely, and he peered up at Kelborn with one eye, the other was closed shut and the skin around it was rapidly swelling. Kelborn turned and saw Boba huddling in the stall, shivering in fear.

"Go back to your dad, kid, I'll make sure this trash doesn't pull a stunt like this again," Kelborn said, glaring vibrodaggers at Ordo.

Boba nodded briefly, before standing up and sprinting out of the room as fast as he could. Kelborn knelt down to Ordo's level, their eyes locked.

"You're twice his age and size, you pathetic little worm. I expect this kind of behaviour from an actual eight-year old, not a trained soldier who's physically and mentally sixteen! Despite the way Skirata coddles you, you are not a child!" Kelborn spat, his voice filled with venom.

"So…" Ordo began, before pausing to spit out a mouthful of blood on Kelborn's boots "What…now?"

"Now?" Kelborn repeated, standing up "Now we take you back to your daddy, and I expect he'll bluster and rage at me, while ignoring the fact that you were attacking young Boba. That'll be fun."

And at that, he hauled Ordo to his feet, wrapped Ordo's arm around his shoulder and hauled him away.

As Kelborn expected, Skirata was none too pleased, to put it mildly.

"You've gone too far this time, shabuir! You could have killed him!" Skirata snapped, his eyes wide and full of rage.

Kelborn stood in front of him, clad in full beskar'gam, having made a detour to his room to put it on. He knew Skirata would be wearing his, he never took it off, and Kelborn did not want to face Skirata without his. Skirata was a small man, but he was also a violent man with a dangerously short-fuse. Nearby, Mij Gilamar stood over Ordo, administering bacta to the injured cadet, who was laying on Skirata's bunk.

"He was shoving Boba's head down the toilet, Skirata!" Kelborn replied, his arms crossed over his chest.

"And so you responded by beating him half to death?"

"You've left your shabla pack of shabuirs run around wild for too long, Skirata! He's had this coming for a long, long time!"

The two would have continued, had Gilamar not cleared his throat "Kal, he's been beaten quite badly, but he's a tough lad. He should recover in fairly rapid order, but I've administered some bacta to help him deal with his injuries. Luckily, this chakaar didn't break anything," Gilamar reported, glaring at Kelborn.

"Shut it, Gilamar!" Kelborn snapped, quickly turning to face the doctor "Don't you have some medical droids to pocket?"

Gilamar sniffed at him, before turning to Skirata "He should be good for now, as long as he gets plenty of rest." He nodded to Skirata, turned to glare at Kelborn again, and then departed. With Gilamar gone, Kelborn and Skirata focused their attentions back to each other.

"Ne shab'rud'ni, Kelborn!" Skirata spat, the vein on his forehead throbbing, his face bright red.

"Or what, you'll scream at me some more?" Kelborn shot back, unimpressed.

"Don't press me, Kelborn, I will fight back, you know that!" Skirata stepped forward, one fist raised.

"We wouldn't fight this often if you would just control your brats!" Kelborn retorted.

"I'm just giving them some affection before we hand them over to the Jetiise!"

"You act as if the Jedi won't care for them. They're more compassionate than you give them credit for, Skirata. They'll treat them right."

"You think the Jetiise will care for them like I can?! They're a bunch of emotionless spoonbenders who steal children-!" Skirata began, only to be cut off by Kelborn.

"You know that's not how they operate!"

"They snatch babies away from their parents and indoctrinate them!" Skirata continued on, ignoring Kelborn.

"Oh, get off your high-gualama, Skirata! Or should I call you by your real name, Falin Mattran?" Kelborn asked, spitting the name out.

Skirata recoiled as if he had been physically struck, and his eyes shot open in shock and alarm "What did you just call me?"

"Falin Mattran, the name you had before that shabla chakaar Munin Skirata snatched you up from Surcaris and stole your name and brainwashed you into being a gung-ho savage!"

"Don't you dare talk about my father like that!" Skirata roared, lunging at Kelborn.

Kelborn roughly shoved him to the ground and stared down at him "Your "father" was a child snatching piece of osik, and you know what? I pity you. I pity you, Falin Mattran, because you had your childhood, your life, your name snatched away by some lunatic shabuir who decided that he wanted a kid, and the random war orphan he'd picked up from the wreckage would do. It's no wonder you're so damaged, so broken, anyone who's had a life like yours would struggle to stay sane."

"How do you know this?" Skirata asked, still on the floor, his eyes red, as if he was going to cry.

"Because my buir was with him and his raiding party when he came across you, told me all about it. He wasn't too happy either, said Munin had you running drills and working hard. You were a seven year old kid who'd lost his parents and he did that to you," Kelborn replied, looking at Skirata with a mix of contempt and pity.

"He made me strong! Made me Mando'ad!" Skirata cried, tears flowing from his eyes as he glared at Kelborn.

"No, he destroyed you and rebuilt you until Falin Mattran was dead and Kal Skirata was all that remained. You poor thing, I can't think of a worse fate than that," Kelborn shook his head, as if trying to dislodge the thought from his head.

Skirata sunk his head "Falin Mattran died with his parents."

Kelborn sighed and squatted down to Skirata's level "He could have been saved, you know. If that shabuir had just taken you to a safer part of the planet, or even offworld and had gotten you some help, some real help." Kelborn sighed again and put his hand to his helmet "I think you're the way you are, an emotional wreck of a man, because of your kriffed up childhood and the fact that you didn't get the therapy you needed. No child should have to see his parents dead bodies, no child should have been shouted at like that and been forced to run drills, especially not so soon after his parents died and he was still traumatised. And he certainly shouldn't have had his own name stolen like that. He was a piece of work, your father," Kelborn spat the word out and shook his head sadly. Slowly, hesitantly, he reached out and placed a hand on Skirata's shoulder, only for the smaller man to angrily shake him off.

"Don't you pity me! Don't you dare pity me! I am a strong, proud Mandalorian warrior!" Kelborn shouted, swinging a punch which Kelborn just stepped back from.

"No, Skirata, you're not. You are a broken, bitter, emotionally crippled mess of a man. I am sorry, Skirata, truly I am for what that shabuir did to you. But my pity only goes so far. Keep your little brat on a short leash, because if I find out he's attacked Boba or anyone else here, I will kill him, you have my word on that," Kelborn said solemnly.

"Then I'll kill you, shabuir!" Skirata shot back.

"You can try. Now, if there's nothing else, I'll take my leave now." Kelborn turned and walked away. As he stepped through the door to the room, he paused and turned to Skirata "Goodbye, Falin Mattran."

And at that, he was gone.
The Broken Man
Third in a series following sergeant Kelborn of the Cuy'val Dar and his cadets on Kamino.

Firefek: Huttese, literally means curse
Buir: Parent
Shabla: Screwed up
Chakaar: Scumbag, grave robber, general insult
Osik: Dung
Shabuir: Extreme insult
Ne shab'rud'ni: Don’t mess with me


25 BBY

The clone cadets of Hyperion and Epsilon Squads were gathered together in the mess hall of the Tipoca City cloning facility. Hyperion Squad-1156, 1157, 1158 and 1159-sat on one side of the table, while Epsilon Squad-1203, 1204, 1205 and 1206-sat on the other.

“So, what do you think of the latest weapons?” Five-Six asked, as he picked at his food, strips of fanteel.

“The Verpine shatter guns? Eh, they leave a lot to be desired.” Oh-Three shrugged.

“Yeah, they break down way too easily. These kinetic weapons are far too unstable and require too much maintenance.” Five-Eight added.  

“I agree. Sure, they’re good anti-armour weapons, but if the projectiles tear up the gun on the way out, it’s not terribly practical,” Oh-Four said.

“Personally, I prefer the deece, it’s a good, versatile weapon and-" Five-Six suddenly stopped and wrinkled his nose. He had suddenly been assaulted by a sharp, acrid odour "What is that smell?"

Oh-Two began grinning from ear to ear and pulled out an open bottle of a clear liquid.

"What is that?" Five-Seven asked, leaning in close to get a better look.

"It's vinegar, I got it just now," Oh-Three said, sounding unusually happy.

"Vinegar?" Oh-Five repeated slowly, testing the word out "What's it for?"

If possible, Oh-Three's smile got even wider as he raised the bottle up "It's like a flavouring. You just pour it on your food, like so…" He demonstrated with great gusto, liberally applying the vinegar to his tray. Soon, his food was absolutely covered with the stuff, the tray reeking of it.

Five-Seven quirked an eyebrow "Last time I checked, the server droids weren't exactly handing out that stuff. Where'd you get it?"

"Sergeant Kelborn gave it to me. I saw him pouring it on his fanteel. I asked if I could have some and he gave me the whole bottle!" Oh-Three motioned to their sergeant, who was sitting at a nearby table with sergeants Llats Ward and B'arin Apma.

"Which you've just poured onto your dinner," Oh-Six pointed out.

Oh-Three frowned at that "Oh yeah…well, maybe I can get some more?"

"You haven't even tried it yet, how do you even know if it's any good?" Five-Six asked.

"Well, only one way to find out." Oh-Three scooped up a generous portion of food on his fork and shovelled it in as fast as possible.

The others all peered closely at their brother, waiting for a reaction.

"Well?" Five-Six prompted after a moment.

It was as if a switch had been thrown on in Oh-Three's brain. His eyes suddenly lit up and he began to shovel more and more food into his mouth, barely even chewing, just wolfing his meal down.

"Oh, wow! This is amazing! Fantastic! You guys gotta try this!" At that, Oh-Three held up his tray, offering it up to the others.

Hesitantly, the other cadets each took a forkful and sampled the food.
"It's ok."

"Nothing special."

"I mean, it does add some flavour, but…"

Five-Six was somewhat uneasy by Oh-Three's enthusiasm for the vinegar, compared to his brother's indifference. Perhaps it was a sign that Oh-Three's tastebuds had developed differently to the others? Five-Six frowned, what if they Oh-Three away? Would they do that for such a minor defect?

"This stuff is great! It tastes amazing and it's even fun to say! Vinegar, vinegar, vinegar!"

"I think he might have a problem…" Oh-Five said, shifting away from Oh-Three.

"Jeez, keep saying it and we may as well start calling you that." Five-Six rolled his eyes at his brother's enthusiasm.

Oh-Three paused for a moment, a thoughtful look on his face "Hey, that's not-"

Five-Six frowned "Oh no, I was kidding!"

"-A bad idea! And hey, you wouldn't even have to call me that all the time, you could just shorten it to Vin, or something!" Oh-Three-Vinegar-exclaimed, stroking his chin.

"Great, now look at what you've done, Five-Six," Oh-Five said, shaking his head.

"Oh, come on, why is this such a bad idea? Some of the other cadets have nicknames," Vinegar pointed out.

"Yeah, mostly Skirata's," Five-Eight said with disdain, his lip curling "Do you really want to be like them?"

"Yeah, spoiled, wild, psychotic. Not exactly people you want to emulate. Like sergeant Kelborn says, they're just a bunch of brats! And Skirata's not any better, sergeant Kelborn told me that he's an emotionally crippled mess," Five-Six added, only then noticing that Epsilon Squad's eyes had widened in alarm.

"What'd you say about Kal'buir?" A voice from behind them hissed.

Five-Six sighed, closed his eyes and turned. When he opened them again, he saw exactly who he was expecting to see. The Nulls, the first clones that Skirata had adopted. They were stronger and faster than their brethren, and their physique showed it, their muscles evident even under their shirts. They were also dangerously mentally unstable, prone to outbursts of violence.

Five-Eight stood up, positioning himself between the Nulls and Five-Six "Easy there, brothers, we were just-"

He was interrupted when one of them-Ordo, Five-Six presumed, since he was at the head of them-roughly shoved him aside. At once, the other members of Epsilon Squad leapt up, ready to defend their brother. The Nulls smirked, sure that they'd be more than a match for the cadets. Ordo leaned forward, grabbed Five-Six by the collar of his shirt and pulled him in close. Five-Six winced, he could feel Ordo's eyes burning into him, his hot breath on his face, smelling of sickly-sweet uj cake. Five-Six wrinkled his nose, If I get out of this alive, I'm going to inhale that vial of vinegar.

"What did you say about Kal'buir?" Ordo repeated, his voice low as he glared vibrodaggers at Five-Six.

Five-Six glared right back, grabbed Ordo's hands, pried them from his shirt and roughly shoved him back, much to the Null's surprise. "I said, Skirata is an emotionally crippled mess. Furthermore, he's also a self-righteous hypocrite, who clearly has no business being an instructor, or a father, judging by how you lot turned out."

Ordo recoiled as if he had been struck, and the Nulls all looked on in shock. After a moment, Ordo seemed to recover. His face contorted in rage, his brow furrowed and his mouth was suddenly open, his teeth bared as if he were a wild animal.

"Your one of sergeant Kelborn's cadets, aren't you?" Ordo snorted "I should have known, Kal'buir told us about him. How he ran away after Concord Dawn, how he abandoned the Mand'alor and his brothers and gave up fighting so he could run off to Kerkoidia. He's a hut'uun and a deserter!”

Five-Six glowered at Ordo “Sergeant Kelborn is twice the man sergeant Skirata is! Sergeant Kelborn doesn’t coddle us, he treats us like real soldiers, not like children! Sergeant Kelborn doesn’t spend all his time whining about how the Jedi are responsible for everything bad about the galaxy! Sergeant Kelborn doesn’t whitewash Mandalorian history when we ask about it!” He stepped forward, jabbing at Ordo.

Ordo shoved him in turn “Copaani mirshmure'cye, vod?"

Five-Six snorted “The way sergeant Skirata’s been teaching you, I doubt I’d feel anything.”

Ordo lunged forward, fist raised. Five-Six stood his ground, and was satisfied when he felt no blow connect. Ordo’s fist was mere centimetres from Five-Six’s face, hanging there, unmoving. 

Ordo scowled at Five-Six “You’re lucky Kal’buir told us not to hit our vod, or you’d be dead. Good thing my buir taught us better than your sergeant”

 At that, he and the Nulls turned to leave.   


“Hey, Ordo!” Five-Six cried out, pulling his arms back.

Ordo turned, just in time to see a flash of grey as Five-Six swung his meal tray into his jaw. There was a loud clang as metal struck bone, and Ordo was sent sprawling by the force of the hit. There was a sudden outcry from the surrounding clones and they all rushed to get a better view of the sight. The Null’s all clambered to reach Five-Six, who was being pulled back by his squad mates.

“What in blazes is going on here?!” A stern voice shouted.

At once, the other clones stopped moving, brought to attention by the cry. Sergeant Kelborn strode forward, flanked by Ward and Apma.

“Sergeant Skirata, I was-” Five-Six began, bowing his head.

“Why is N-11 on the ground and clutching at his jaw?” Kelborn broke in, glancing at Ordo, who was writhing on the floor.

“This cadet attacked him, sergeant! It was an unprovoked assault!” Mereel cried out, pointing at Five-Six.

“He insulted you, sergeant! He had it coming!” Five-Six snapped, turning to glower at Mereel.

Kelborn exhaled loudly and gave Five-Six a harsh look “My quarters. Now. The rest of you, go back to your food.” And at that, he spun on his heel and marched out of the mess hall. 

Five-Six flinched, then looked around at his fellow cadets, who looked worried. After a moment, he strode out after Kelborn.


"Let's get something straight, cadet. I am not your father, I am not your friend, I am your sergeant. I don't need you to defend my non-existent honour from some jumped-up little psychopath with daddy issues. Am I understood, cadet?" Kelborn asked, a hard edge in his voice.

Five-Six stared down at the floor "Yes, sergeant."

“I had thought you were better than this. I didn’t want you to be falling prey to your emotions like this! Outbursts like this are the kind of thing that can get you killed in the field!” Kelborn continued, and started to pace about the room.

“Yes, sergeant.”

“I trained you hoping that you wouldn’t turn out like those psychopaths! I don’t want you to become a bunch of petty, narrow-minded, violent lunatics like Skirata’s boys! I wanted you to be…” Kelborn abruptly exhaled, and much of his anger seemed to vanish “I wanted you to be good. Not like them.” 

“Yes, sergeant.” Five-Six repeated, looking curiously at his sergeant.

Kelborn sighed and ran his hand through his hair "I'm beginning to think this whole shabla job was as bad an idea as when I bet on Mars Guo to win at the Boonta Eve Classic."

"Sergeant?" Five-Six asked, confused.

Kelborn shook his head "Forget it, podracing, it's a sport. Maybe I'll tell you about it sometime, when we’re not training.” He turned his gaze up to the ceiling and stared at it for almost a minute, before turning back to Five-Six “Go back to the mess hall, Five-Six, and don’t you dare have an outburst like that again. Am I understood?”

Five-Six nodded “Yes, sergeant.”

And at that, he left the room.

Kelborn sighed “They’re not your kids, Ambu. Don’t make the same mistake Skirata’s making. They’re soldiers, not kids.”  


Five-Six sat down at the table, his fellow cadets looking at him anxiously.

“So, how did it go?” Five-Nine asked, peering closely at Five-Six.

“Did he beat you?” Vinegar added.

“No, no, he just chewed me out. No bruises this time,” Five-Six told them, shaking off their questions, then turned to look around “What happened to Ordo?”

“You broke his jaw! He was rolling around on the floor, crying out until sergeant Gilamar came along and brought him to the medical bay. Then sergeant Skirata showed up, mad as hell!” Five-Eight reported. 

“He was crying out for your blood. He even called you a shabla little jawbreaker,” Five-Seven said.

Five-Six looked thoughtful for a moment “Jawbreaker, huh? You know, I kind of like the sound of that…”

Jawbreakers and Vinegar
Second in a series following sergeant Kelborn of the Cuy'val Dar and his cadets on Kamino.

Buir: Parent

Shabla: Messed up

Copaani mirshmure'cye, vod?: You looking for a smack, brother?

Ive been tagged by :iconkweh-chan:


1.) Do you like Star Wars?
I love Star Wars! Some of my earliest memories are of watching Star Wars.

2.) Have you ever flown in a plane?
Yep. It's weird though, I have a problem with heights,mbut not with flying.

3.) Do you need white noise (like a fan) in order to sleep, or do you prefer silence?
I prefer silence, but sometimes I fall asleep while listening to my iPod.

4.) What was your favourite toy as a child? Do you still have it or like it?
A stuffed dog called Rags. I think it's in my wardrobe.

5.) What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? Was it any good?
Um, the weirdest thing I can think of is a rabbit, but that's not really that weird. It wasn't really that nice, but then again, it was pretty scrawny.

6.) If you had to choose between a dog with three legs or a cat with one eye, which would you choose and why? (I'm running out of questions...)
A cat, because cats are adorable.

7.) What your favourite show on or off TV?
Probably Supernatural.

8.) Do you/did you like school?
Eh, not really. But I got to meet some cool people, so there's that.

9.) What would you eat as your last meal?
A large plate of steak sandwiches.

10.) (You knew this was coming) Do you like Neimoidians? 8D
Yes! Neimoidians are awesome!


1) Who your favourite actor?

2) What was the last book you read?

3) Who is your favourite fictional character?

4) Who is your least favourite fictional character?

5) Why did you decide to watch me?

6) What is your favourite animal?

7) What was the last movie you saw?

8) If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

9) What is your favourite game?

10) Favourite food?

I tag :iconhamsterand2dogs: :icontheelevateddeviant: :iconkommandant4298: :iconneocasko:
  • Listening to: Fragments-Jeff Williams
  • Reading: Star Wars: Revelation (felt like torturing myself)
  • Watching: Hunger Games
  • Playing: Halo 4
  • Eating: Steak
  • Drinking: Pepsi


Ahem, well, hi all, Ultrabountyhunter here. Well, for starters, I really can't draw that well. Anyway, I'm into a wide variety of...stuff, from Trick 'r Treat to Invader Zim to The Adventures of Sam (anyone remember that show? No? Oh well then...sigh), so I'm probably going to favourite a wide range of pics.

Current Residence: Adelaide
Favourite genre of music: Rock
Favourite cartoon character: Zim or Minimoose (actually, just about any Invader Zim character) Personal Quote: Contrary to what producers seem to think, clip shows are NOT a source of entertainment

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bear48 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2015  Professional
Llama jump by Droneguard :llama: :headbang: :squee: :headbang: :llama: Llama jump by Droneguard

Thank you for the Llama :llama:

Llama jump by Droneguard :squee:  :squee:  Llama jump by Droneguard  :squee:  :squee:  Llama jump by Droneguard

thank you for making my birthday even brighter
sherlockintheimpala Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for faving! :iconsupertighthugplz:
Ultrabountyhunter Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2014
You're welcome!
Kaufee Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the Watch and ALL the Faves, You Rock!!!
Ultrabountyhunter Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2014
giusynuno Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you so much for faving!!! It means a lot to me :heart:
Ultrabountyhunter Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2014
You're welcome! :D
dazza1008 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014
Welcome to Dreddheads, Citizen. Dredd smile by QUELLER-UA

:bulletred: Introduce yourself here
:bulletred: A lot of Dredd art is in our faves
:bulletred: Since many praise the movie Dredd (2012) as a faithful adaptation and awesome movie, please make sure to sign the official petition if you'd like a sequel.

TigaCub Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014   Artisan Crafter
Thanks so much for the fav :)
Ultrabountyhunter Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014
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