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Kelborn desperately wanted the day to be over with. As usual, the live-fire exercises had gone ahead, and as usual, some of his cadets had been injured. It was a small miracle that none of them were dead. The latest casualty had been Five-Nine, who had leapt to take a blast that would have struck Five-Seven in the chest. Five-Nine had been lucky; the bolt had hit him in the arm instead. In light of what had happened a few nights previously, Kelborn had relented and allowed Mij Gilamar to take a look at the cadet in one of the less crowded infirmaries.

“What’s your name, lad?” Gilamar had asked as he applied a bacta swab to Five-Nine’s arm.

“RC-1159, Sergeant,” Five-Nine replied, almost mechanically.

“No, not your number, what’s your name?” Gilamar pressed.

Five-Nine shot Kelborn an uncertain glance, before he turned back to Gilamar “Five-Nine?” he tried, sounding hesitant.

Gilamar frowned, then went back to swabbing. He was done soon enough, and declared that Five-Nine would recover quickly and have no need to miss out on further live-fire exercises. Kelborn dismissed Five-Nine, and was prepared to leave, when Gilamar stopped him.

“Your cadets don’t have names?” Gilamar asked, one eyebrow quirked.

Kelborn exhaled, already annoyed by the direction the conversation had taken. “I’m their sergeant, Mij, not their father. Naming them is not my responsibility. If they want to take on names of their own, fine; I won’t stop them. But I won’t do it myself.”

Gilamar held up his hands in a placating manner. “Alright, alright, I’ll drop it.” From the look on Gilamar’s face, Ambu did not believe for a second that the doctor was happy with Kelborn’s answer. “That wasn’t what I wanted to talk to you about anyway. I wanted to talk to you about…well, the other night. With Priest and Reau.”

Kelborn nodded and sat down on one of the empty beds. He had expected that this would come up at some point. “Go on.”

“They don’t belong here. I don’t know what Jango was thinking when he hired them, but they’re Death Watch shabuire, and we’d have been better off without them.” Gilamar’s hands were clenched into fists, and his brow was furrowed.
Kelborn nodded again. “I don’t disagree, Mij. I think it reeks of desperation on his part that he had to resort to the likes of them.” Kelborn sighed and raised his gaze to the ceiling “But then, I think it was desperate to recruit that fanatic Skirata, and that psychopath Vau and…well, me, to be honest. Fett and I aren’t exactly on the best of terms, after all. For Jango to come to me proves that he had limited options, almost as much as him going to Priest and Reau.”

Gilamar scowled “Hiring more aruetiise would have been preferable to them.”

Kelborn shot the doctor a sharp, disapproving glance. “You don’t give the non-Mandalorians enough credit, they are no less worthy of being here than us. Their methods, their teachings are no less valid than ours.”

Gilamar scoffed, and his expression was decidedly sceptical. “Come now Ambu, they just aren’t as good as we are, and you know it. Fett wanted the best trainers for these commandos, and that’s what we are.”

Kelborn snorted, “Yeah, well, you might have missed it during your little nap, but I watched one of those ‘aruetii’ clean one of our ‘best’s’ chrono, so I’d show some respect if I were you.”

“Carr? He got lucky with Priest, and Reau would have killed him if you hadn’t intervened.”

“I only managed to beat her and Priest because Garrett softened them up first. Besides, he has more combat experience. I left after Concord Dawn, Garrett has spent most of his life as a mercenary. As far as I’m concerned, he’s better than Priest and Reau, and he’s certainly better than me.”

Gilamar did not seem convinced. His brow was furrowed and he gave Kelborn a hard, uncertain look.

Kelborn sighed, exasperated by the other man’s stubbornness “Ok, I can see that I’m not going to convince you right now, so I think we’re done here for day. I’m tired anyway, I want to go back to my quarters. Goodnight, Mij.”  

And at that, Kelborn turned and walked away.

Kelborn entered his room, once more regretting that he had taken Fett’s offer, in spite of the fact that he had few other options at the time. Kelborn sighed and threw himself down on his couch, too drained to bother to move to his bed.

There was a knock at the door, and Kelborn perked up. It could only be Garrett Carr, it was rare for anyone else to visit him. He had forgotten that Garrett was coming over that night to play dejarik. It was a pleasant escape from his dull existence on Kamino. Kelborn moved to open the door. He had been correct, it was indeed Garrett.

“Come in,” Kelborn said, motioning for Garrett to enter.

Kelborn could see Garrett glancing around the room, as he had the previous times he had entered it. It was as close to home as Kelborn could make it, and while it was not much, it did help him a little. On the desk beside his bed, there were numerous holos of his family: his wife, Iadee, and their children. Flare, their eldest, the budding conman, much to his parents dismay, Resvi, their middle-child, and only daughter, and Sanma, who had been just ten when Kelborn had left for Kamino, five years younger than Resvi, and nine years younger than Flare.

Garrett’s eyes flicked to another wall, the one lined from floor-to-ceiling with Baragwin-made weapons. On his first visit into the room, he had asked Kelborn about it.

“Baragwin weapons are the best in the galaxy. Kal Skirata can keep his Verpine slugthrowers, I prefer a good Baragwin assault rifle. They can rip through even the heaviest armour in seconds.” Kelborn had gushed.

He had explained that he had brought them with him to help train his commandos. The DC-17’s were good, he admitted, but it was always wise to learn how to use other weapons as well. Garrett seemed not only to approve, he had been downright excited.

“We’ve got to get these babies down on the range, bud! I can’t believe what a stockpile you’ve got on your hands!”

Kelborn had nodded and placed a hand on his chin. “Well, I know a guy who could supply more of these weapons. I’d have to convince Jango to contact him and purchase them, but I might be able to talk him into it.”

Garrett had reached out to take one of the rifles, then turned to Kelborn, “May I?”

Kelborn had nodded, and Garrett had plucked one from its mount on the wall. Garrett whistled in appreciation, as he weighed it carefully in his hands. After a moment, he had nodded, satisfied, and put the rifle back. As he did so, he had noticed a different rifle, this one different. Instead of being a Baragwin made rifle, this one appeared to be based off of an ancient Mandalorian rifle, like the ones they had used during the Mandalorian Wars. Written on the side were three letters in the Mando’a alphabet. S-N-O.

“What’s this rifle here?” Garrett had asked, pointing it out.

Kelborn had looked somewhat saddened “That was my brother’s. According to our father, it belonged to our ancestor, J’mee Kelborn, who fought with the Republic during the Great Galactic War.”

Garrett had looked stunned “But that would make it over three thousand years old!”

Kelborn had chuckled, walked over to the rifle and tapped it lightly “Built to last.”

“And what do those letters stand for?”

Kelborn had looked mildly embarrassed, and he looked away “Oh, uh…Spare No One. J’mee Kelborn was supposedly a fierce warrior, he had something of a reputation…”

Seeing that Kelborn did not want to talk about it anymore, Garrett had opted to move on. “So, shall we play?”

And so, they had their first dejarik match. It had been rather one-sided, with Kelborn beating Garrett with ease. Since then, however, Garrett had been getting steadily better, becoming more cunning in his moves, learning to strategize. He had still not won, but perhaps that would soon change.

They sat down at the dejarik table and prepared to play. Kelborn had a bottle of tihaar by his side, and he had placed two shot-glasses within reach.

After a few turns, Garrett shot Kelborn a curious look as he poured himself a drink “Hey, could I ask a favour?”

“Hmmm?” Kelborn did not look up from the dejarik board, he was too busy planning his next move. He flinched when the k’lor’slug hissed at him and reared up, mouth wide and filled with razor sharp teeth. Kelborn looked up at Garrett’s bemused face and cursed the fact that he had been spooked by a hologram.

“You’re friends with Vhonte Tervho, right? You think you could put in a good word for me?” Garrett asked, a sly grin on his face. “I saw her running the other day. She’s got those long legs, and that red hair. I like red hair.” His grin broadened “And long legs.”

Kelborn stared down his nose at Garrett. “I’ve known Vhonte since she was 16. At that age, she was hunting acklay and cutting the horns off of wampas, while they were still alive. Do you have any idea what she can do now?”

Garrett shrugged and, if anything, his grin got wider. “Hey, I’ll take my chances.”

Kelborn gaped at Garrett for a moment, before he turned his attention back to the board, and had his Mantallian Savrip crush Garrett’s houjix underfoot.

Garrett frowned, before perking up again. “Okay, forget Tervho then….” He looked to be deep in thought, his brow furrowed. “Hmmm, well I suppose there is Rav Bralor.”

Kelborn chuckled at that. “Rav? Oh, you’ve got to be joking. I’m close friends with her cousin, Varos. Bruiser Bralor we called him, because he was two meters even, built like a Wookiee and carried a war hammer.” This time, Kelborn grinned. “Rav is tougher than he is.”

Garrett laughed. “Easy there, buddy, you don’t need to oversell her.”

“I think you might have some issues, Carr.” Kelborn shook his head, but he had a smile on his face.

“You’re right; Rav’s too old for me anyway.”

“You two are the same age, Garrett,” Kelborn said.

“Exactly. Way too old for me. How about-” Garrett began, only for Kelborn to cut him off.

“If you ask me to talk you up for Isabet Reau, then I’ll have to ask Ulirii No to take a look at your head.”

Garrett paused, before bursting into laughter. “All this time, I’ve been thinking that you didn’t have a sense of humour, Ambu. I was wrong,” he said, through continued chuckles. “It’s just a bad one. Really, really, bad.”

Kelborn joined in, until Garrett ordered Grimtaash the Molator to finish off Kelborn’s M’onnok that was. The mythical Alderaanian creature waved its hand, and the M’onnok burst into a shower of sparks.

Kelborn mock-scowled. “You’ll pay for that, Carr.”

Garrett smirked in response, then examined the board, planning his next move. After a moment, he looked up at Kelborn again, a thoughtful look on his face.

"Tell you what. Why don't you invite the ladies over for a game of sabacc or something? If you're here, and they see how much time I spend keeping dear old Grandpa Kelborn company, they'll know I'm not a disgusting hut’uun," Garrett suggested, using a Mando'a insult that he'd picked up in the past few weeks.

"But you are a disgusting hut’uun."

"There's no reason they need to know that."

Kelborn chuckled softly, before considering the idea. “Well, truth be told, I’m more of a pazaak man myself….But what the haran, it could be fun. I’ll have a talk with Vhonte and Rav tomorrow, see if they’re interested.”

Garrett grinned and reached over and clapped Kelborn on the shoulder. “Good man! You think this’ll impress them?”

Kelborn smiled and shrugged. “Somehow, I very much doubt it. But if you want to try regardless, that’s up to you, I suppose. Just don’t blame me if Vhonte or Rav beats you senseless.”

“Well, it’s worth a shot anyway.” Garrett poured himself another shot of tihaar and quickly threw it back, grimacing as he did so. After a moment, he recovered and took on a curious look. “Hey, is Kannen Doom single?”

Kelborn sighed in exasperation and reached for the tihaar.
Friends in Strange Places Part II
The second part of Friends in Strange Places, the first part being written by zang-zip and can be found here:…
Thanks to zang-zip and DC-26 for beta reading and providing additional ideas, they were great, working on this with them was a lot of fun. Be sure to check out their work, because it's much better than mine.

20 BBY

Republic Commando 1159, Cabur, liked to think he was a good brother. He'd always been there for his brothers, always protected them from things that tried to hurt them. Like when the Null ARCs had ambushed Jawbreaker in retaliation for when he had broken Ordo's jaw. It had been Cabur who had latched onto Jaing's back and had not stopped punching, not even when the other Nulls tried to rip him off. Their payback had been brutal; both Jawbreaker and Cabur had been badly injured and confined to the medbay for weeks. When sergeant Vau had set his pet strill, Lord Mirdalan, on Destroyer for planting explosives in Vau’s quarters, Cabur had kicked the beast off of Destroyer and wrapped his arms around Mird's jaws. Cabur had been badly scarred that day, when the strill had clawed and bitten at his arms and face. When Genet had almost been shot during the live-fire exercises, Cabur had shoved him out of the way, taking a blaster bolt to the arm for his trouble. He had even stepped in when Dain, one of Isabet Reau’s cadets, was being beaten by the psychotic Death Watch woman. That was not a fight Cabur and Dain had won, but at least they had survived, even if only barely.

Cabur’s training instructor, Sergeant Kelborn, had called the boy's courage and sense of brotherhood admirable, but foolish. There would be times, Kelborn said, where the good of the mission would have to come first, difficult decisions would have to be made and, perhaps, one or more of them would have to be sacrificed in order to achieve their objective. The conversation had shaken Cabur, who believed the bond he held with his brothers was unbreakable, that he would do anything for them, and vice versa. Surely whatever happened, they would always protect each other?

Cabur shook his head, clearing his thoughts of unpleasant old memories. He had more important things to keep his focus on.

Hyperion Squad had been called into General Zey’s officer regarding their latest assignment. Sitting behind his desk, Zey look troubled. Standing behind him was his aide, Captain Maze, who remained impassive, his hands clasped behind his back.

“Thank you for coming, Hyperion,” Zey greeted, motioning for them to sit.

“General Zey, Captain Maze.” Jawbreaker nodded at each of them.

Cabur nodded as well. Cabur liked Zey; he was a good man. A bit spineless perhaps, especially when it came to Skirata and his boys, but a good man, nonetheless. Maze was…well, he was ok. For an ARC trooper. Try as he might, Cabur could just not understand the appeal of working alone. They were brothers; they were supposed to work in concert with each other, playing off each other’s strengths, covering for one another’s weaknesses. The lone warrior thing seemed, in Cabur’s opinion, unnecessarily risky, gave rise to antisocial behaviour and was, although he would never say so to Maze (or any ARC, for that matter) perhaps just a bit lonely. Still, Cabur had to admit that the ARCs were impressive soldiers, and they could generally get the job done. For that, they had his respect, if not his understanding.

Zey activated a holo-emitter on his desk. Instantly, a small, blue figure sprung up of a Jedi Knight. He was not of a species that Cabur recognised, having three eyestalks, a snout and four arms, each with three fingers and a thumb.

“This is General Yufour Fall. He and the clone commander assigned to him, CC-80/88-3009, aka, A’den, were on route to Glee Anselm aboard their flagship, the Conqueror, when we lost all contact with them. Three days later, we received reports of survivors on Carvandir. Evidently, they had been dragged from hyperspace through use of an interdictor cruiser and ambushed. The survivors have reported that General Grievous himself was leading the attack, boarding The Royalty personally. What’s unusual is that he left survivors at all. While we’re still currently unsure, we suspect that the General was in a rush, hence his sloppiness. General Fall was captured, and Commander A’den was…well…” Zey trailed off, looking decidedly pale.  

“What’s the status of Commander A’den?” Jawbreaker asked hesitantly.

Zey winced, and Cabur felt his stomach drop “He’ll…live.” Zey offered weakly.

Cabur and Jawbreaker traded uneasy looks. What kind of condition was A’den in?  

Jawbreaker cleared his throat “You said General Fall was captured. Are we being sent to discover his location, or is this a rescue mission?”

“Rescue, Sergeant. General Fall’s location has been tracked to a facility on Vinsoth.”

Vinsoth, home to the Chevin and Chev races. The Chevin were a notorious race of slavers, it was no wonder that they had thrown their lot in with the Separatists. They had done the same during the Mandalorian Wars, offering their Chev slaves to the Mandalorians if they spared their world. While the plan had been successful, some of the Chevin had voluntarily joined up with the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders, becoming some of their best overseers. They were responsible for overseeing the induction of captured civilians into the Mandalorian armies, where most of them were shunted to the front lines as cannon fodder. Now, in the present, the Chevin were again offering their Chev slaves as disposable soldiers, while many of the Chevin acted as wardens in the Separatists numerous prison camps.

Zey pressed a button on his desk, and another hologram flickered to life, replacing the form of Yufour Fall. A towering fortress loomed over the desk, looking ominous and out of place in Zey’s office.  

They went over what limited intelligence they had. They had been unable to procure the schematics for the prison, which would prove to be problematic for Hyperion Squad when they attempted to infiltrate it. Still, they had been in situations where they had received little information before, they would make do with what they had, and when they breached the target, they would download the building’s plans if possible.

“Now, in light of how long General Fall has already been held captive, you will regrettably have no time to plan for this mission.” Zey sounded sincerely apologetic, and he was frowning “So you will have to leave as soon as you’re properly equipped. A ship has already been prepped and is on the landing pad.”

Jawbreaker nodded “Understood, General. We’ll work something out while we’re on route to Vinsoth. This isn’t the first time we’ve been forced to go in on short notice after all.” It was perhaps redundant to say so, considering that Zey was responsible for assigning missions to them in the first place and so knew that. Still, Cabur felt that Jawbreaker was trying to ease the guilt from Zey.

“Good, good.” Zey stood up, and Hyperion Squad did the same “I’ll let you leave and ready yourself then. Hyperion Squad, dismissed.”

Hyperion Squad made their way to the landing pad outside of Arca Barracks. They had selected their loadout for the mission and were ready to leave. Planning for the extraction of General Fall while flying to Vinsoth would be a challenge, but they were capable enough, they would work something out.


“Oh, great,” Genet muttered over their built-in helmet com system “Here comes the Lapdog.”

Beside him, Destroyer groaned, and ahead of them, Cabur could see Jawbreaker wince. Making his way towards them was General Bardan Jusik. Or, as Hyperion Squad (among several other squads, for that matter) had dubbed him, “the Lapdog”. Skirata’s loyal, obedient little lapdog, who would do whatever Skirata asked, whenever he asked. Jusik would believe every little lie Skirata would tell him, “The Jedi steal children, the Jedi don’t care about the clones, General Kenobi is an egotist and a gloryhound who throws his men away”, it made Cabur roll his eyes at the man’s naiveté. Those were all falsities of course, but that last one was perhaps the most bizarre, at least to Cabur. As far as he knew, Skirata had never met Kenobi. Cabur had, however, and Kenobi certainly did not display any of the traits that Skirata had assigned to him. Sergeant Kelborn had met Kenobi too, many years prior, during the Great Clan Wars on Mandalore, when Kenobi had still been a padawan. Kelborn spoke quite highly of both Kenobi and his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, and had been saddened to hear of the Jedi Master’s death.

“Sergeant Jawbreaker, good to see you!” Jusik greeted the squad’s leader, a broad grin on his face.

“Hello, General Jusik,” Jawbreaker replied, trying rather miserably to hide the distaste in his voice.  

In spite of Jawbreaker’s poor attitude, Jusik didn’t seem to notice.

“You’re going on a rescue mission, right?”

Cabur noticed Jawbreaker’s fingers twitch, ever so slightly. Cabur frowned, his Sergeant was anxious to leave, a fact which Jusik did not seem to sense. “That’s correct, General, we’ve been assigned to recover General Yufour Fall from a Separatist base.”

Jusik gave a loud sigh and shook his head “It’s so unfair, isn’t it?”

Jawbreaker paused, and Cabur could see him struggling on whether or not to ask the follow-up question. After a moment of deliberation, Jawbreaker reluctantly asked: “What’s unfair, General?”

“The fact that clones are sent to rescue Jedi and that clones are so rarely rescued by Jedi, of course! I mean, we sent in ARC troopers to rescue those Jedi at Hypori!” Jusik suddenly looked angry. “Tell me, Sergeant, why don’t they feel that you’re worth that? Why is a Jedi worth more to the war effort than you? Because we’re running the show? Because we own you?”

For a minute, Jawbreaker stood there in silence. Cabur wondered if his sergeant was as stunned as he was, or if Jawbreaker was angry at Jusik’s naiveté.

“General Jusik,” Jawbreaker said evenly, although Cabur was sure that there was indeed a tinge of exasperation in his voice “You do understand that this is war, don’t you?”

Jusik seemed taken aback by the question, and frowned. “Yes, of course I do! What do you-?”

“Then surely you realise that in any army, the officers are treated with more importance than the frontline soldiers. This would be the case if we weren’t clones, this would be the case if they weren’t Jedi. The fact that you think this style of command is unusual shows a rather poor understanding of military structure. Besides, of the Jedi on Hypori, three of them were Masters and two of them were on the Jedi Council. The fact that we lost even three Jedi on Hypori is a serious blow to the war effort. If we had lost General Ti or General Mundi, there would have been serious repercussions, not just to the Republic, but for morale as well. We’re good, but we aren’t capable of doing the things that come naturally to the Jedi.” Jawbreaker tilted his helmet to look down at Jusik “Will you excuse us, General? We have a ship to catch.”

Bardan nodded dumbly, looking stunned. And at that, Jawbreaker sidestepped Jusik and marched off.

Jusik looked hurt by Jawbreaker’s tirade. Cabur suspected that like Kal Skirata, Jusik was deeply pained by the idea that a clone trooper did not like him. His downcast face almost made Cabur feel sorry for him.

Still, he could not help but point out the mistake that Jusik had made.

“For the record, you don’t own or administer us. The Republic does.” Cabur paused, thinking “Although, if you get right down to it, ultimately it’s the Chancellor who owns us. Really, you have little more say in this situation than we do.”

And at that, Cabur made to follow Jawbreaker.

“I really do not care for that man,” Jawbreaker muttered, sounding thoroughly unimpressed.

“Eh, he’s not so bad. I mean, he does care about us,” Destroyer said, shrugging.

“Yes, and I appreciate that, I do. The problem is that he seems to think that he’s the only Jedi who does. We get enough of that 'Jedi don’t care for clones’ osik from Skirata, I really don’t need to hear it from his pet Jedi too. And he’s just so smug and preachy about it,” Jawbreaker replied.  

“Personally, I blame the Nulls. They’re such a bad influence,” Cabur added

“Or Skirata.” Genet piped up.

Jawbreaker snorted. “That man has a talent for finding gullible people who will believe whatever osik he spews, even when provided evidence to the contrary. I mean, Jusik’s a Jedi, he of all people should know that his Order doesn’t steal kids. But because Skirata says they do, he believes it. Same with whether or not the Jedi care for their troops. I’ve heard Master Yoda, General Plo Koon and a bunch of others reassure us that we’re people and treat us with respect…”

“But because Skirata says otherwise…” Cabur chimed in.

“Sickening,” Jawbreaker said simply, then said nothing further.

The group trudged along in silence, before finally reaching the landing pad outside of the Arca Barracks. Their ship, a Traffic Interdiction Vehicle, or TIV, sat on the platform, ready to go. In front of it stood three beings. A clone trooper, a Human youngling, perhaps thirteen years old, and a strange alien. It looked like an oversized arachnid, it had eight limbs, four eyes and its body was covered in grey and black hair. Judging by the brown robes it wore, it was probably a Jedi Master, and the Human with it was its Padawan. Hyperion Squad took off their helmets and saluted, an action repeated by the Jedi and his Padawan.

“Hyperion Squad, I am Di Groota, and this is my Padawan, Jyraki Kana.” The Jedi Master extended his hand, and after a moment, Jawbreaker hesitantly took it “Does my appearance unsettle you, Sergeant?”

Jawbreaker winced. “Ah, no, General Groota, I ah…”

Groota chuckled, or at least, Cabur thought he did. Some kind of strange noise was coming from his mouth “Do not worry, Sergeant. I am not offended. I understand that my appearance can be somewhat…unsightly to other species. As an Arachnoid, I am used to it.”

Arachnoid, Cabur paused, the name was significant in some way. After a moment, he remembered, the Arachnoids were the creators of the EMRG-50 rail gun line. A powerful weapon, to be sure, although Cabur had never used one, only heard stories of them. This was because of the major drawback that affected the weapon: the recoil. A human, even one as strong as himself could not use one without succumbing to the significant blowback. At best, that meant being knocked over, more likely, his bones would be shattered.

Jawbreaker, meanwhile, smiled nervously. Evidently, he was pleased that he had not insulted this Jedi. “It’s your Padawan we’re going to rescue, correct?”

Groota nodded and clicked his mandibles “Indeed, Sergeant. I’m sure that you’re more than capable of performing such a task?”

“Rescue are one of our specialties, General.”  

“Excellent. If indeed you do find General Fall, please, give him this.” Di Groota reached down to his belt and pulled off a spare lightsaber, handing it to Jawbreaker.

Jawbreaker weighed it in his hand, before clipping it onto his own belt. “Of course, General. We’ll be glad to give it to him.”

“Excellent, excellent. Now, if you’ll excuse us, Sergeant, my Padawan and I are shipping out to . I leave the rescue of General Fall in your hands.”

“We won’t fail you, General. We’ll do our best to bring him back alive,” Jawbreaker said solemnly.

“I certainly hope so. Good luck, Sergeant.” And at that, Groota snapped a crisp salute to Jawbreaker, as did Kana, which Jawbreaker returned. Then, they walked away. As they did so, Kana turned back to look at Hyperion Squad, giving them a curious look.

The clone trooper stepped forward. On the torso of his armour there was a scantily clad Zeltron woman, straddling a bomb. Written over and under her figure was: “PEACE THROUGH SUPERIOR FIREPOWER”.

Seeing the curious glances his armour was getting him, the trooper spoke up: “They don’t let us paint the TIVs like they do for those fancy larty boys. So, this was my compromise.” He pulled of his helmet, revealing a heavily tattooed face, covered in constellations, and smiled at Hyperion Squad “CT-3173, Whiplash, pilot of TIV Z416/3.”

Cabur and Genet shared a quick glance. “Now, that’s a reassuring name.” Genet whispered, trying to be as quiet as possible.

They heard Destroyer whistle in appreciation, evidently impressed by Whiplash’s extensive tattoos.

Cabur saw Jawbreaker make brief small talk with Whiplash, before he turned to his squad and motioned for them to get in the TIV. Cabur began to feel anxious. Soon, they would be leaving Coruscant heading for Separatist space, embarking on a very dangerous retrieval mission.
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

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!!!
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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 :)
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