Strider ran through the forest as fast as he could, only slowing down to check the holoprojector to see if he was still on the right trail. After a few minutes of running, the trail on the holoprojector soon left the physical trail in the forest, causing Strider to leave the dirt trail and rush through the underbrush.
Strider weaved through a patch of bushes and between trees, still keeping his speed up. The Trooper didn't slow down until he had arrived at the location of the distress signal.
Strider peaked between two trees at a small clearing where an object rested in the middle. Just as Strider had thought, it was an escape pod from the Venator. Without any second thoughts, Strider rushed out into the clearing and over to the pod.
The escape pod had a few broken branches smashed below it as well as a dirt trail from the crash. The back four thrusters had faint puffs of smoke leaking out into the air. The hatch located between the thrusters wasn't open, which meant either no one was inside, or someone had shut the door, or several other options.
Strider didn't want to waste more time pondering the options and approached the pod. He grabbed hold of the hatch and pulled at it. The first few tugs didn't budge it, but with a few branches and one plasma bolt to the side of the hatch caused it to open up.
The hatch creaked as it moved, rubbing against broken pieces of metal. The interior was quickly showered with light from the sun, giving Strider a clear view at the horrific seen inside.
There were three clone trooper bodies sprawled around the pod, most likely died on impact. Several shards of metal stuck out from the walls as well as a few wires which sparked with energy.
"Dang it. At least they died instantly, hopefully." Strider muttered, backing out of the pod.
As Strider shut the hatch, he noticed a set of boot tracks in the dirt. Strider quickly turned around, following the tracks by eye sight until they reached the underbrush.
Someone had survived.
Strider followed the tracks away from the clearing and back into the underbrush. However, after a few minutes of walking, the tracks suddenly faded.
"Where did they go?" Strider wondered out loud.
Right on cue, his com link flashed green, signalling a transition. Strider quickly pressed a button on the com link and listened for something on the other side.
"IS ANYONE OUT THERE!? I NEED HELP!" A Clone Trooper's voice frantically stammered through the com link.
"Yes! This is clone trooper Strider, who is this?" Strider questioned.
"Strider?" The Trooper said to himself.
Even though the Trooper was a clone, Strider instantly recognised it as Rust, the leader of his squadron.
"Rust! What's location?!" Strider asked.
"I don't know! Everything looks the same! I'm also being chased by some sort of wolf! My DC-15S is running low on power and I can't shake it!" Rust frantically exclaimed.
Strider rubbed his helmet in thought, trying to figure out how to get his brother over to him. He looked down at his DC-15S, before an idea formed in his head.
"Rust, follow the flare!" Strider instructed, aiming up at the sky.
With a quick lever switch on the blaster, Strider pulled the trigger, sending a red ball of light shooting through the sky.
"I see it! Get ready to fire on this wolf!" Rust stated.
Strider switched the DC-15S back to plasma bolt and aimed up. It didn't take long before the sound of footsteps filled his ears. Then, a white shape emerged from the shadows.
"OVER HERE!" Strider shouted, waving a hand.
Rust quickly altered his course, running towards him at fast as he could. Strider could spot the wolf right on his tail. He aimed the DC-15S towards the wolf and got ready to shoot.
The second Rust ran past Strider, the Trooper pulled the trigger, sending a blue bolt hurtling towards the wolf. The bolt made contact with the wolf's front claw, shattering it to pieces. The wolf fell to the ground with a thud, before getting back up and re-attached its claw.
"Rust! We need to get out of the forest right now before-" Strider cut himself off as he heard the sound of blaster fire behind him.
Strider turned around to see Rust firing at what looked like a lizard and a chicken hybrid. Rust was mid trigger pull before he started to turn to stone.
"Rust!" Strider called out, rushing towards his brother.
The Trooper quickly realized what was happening to himself and tried to break free. Strider open fired at the lizard chicken hybrid, causing it to flee into the forest. However, when Strider looked back at Rust, the clone had been turned to stone completely.
Strider rushed over to his brother's side before trying to break him free. But the Trooper remained frozen in stone, not showing any sign of life.
"Rust?" Strider asked, looking at his leader's visor. Rust didn't respond.
A growl from the wooden wolf caused Strider to look away from Rust. But that wasn't the only thing that the wolf had done. It had just sighed its death certificate.
Strider aimed the DC-15S right between the wolf's eyes and fired. The bolt struck the head, causing some of the wood to break. Strider kept firing, unloading a full power pack into the wolf.
Once the DC-15S had finished the power pack as well as let out a bit of smoke from the barrel, Strider lowered it. The wolf was on the ground, completely shattered into thousands of wooden chips. It barely resembled anything that was once living.
Even with that, Strider wasn't taking chances. He grabbed a thermal detonator from his utility belt and activated it. He chucked it into the wooden pile and watched as it exploded. All the wood was flung everywhere, into bushes, against trees, and into the ground.
Whatever that wolf was, it was definitely dead.
Strider went back over to Rust's side and tried again to get the life back into him. But Rust remained a statue, not moving even an inch.
Strider took off his helmet, staring at Rust's helmet with sorrow, raising his hand up in a salute.
"You were a great leader Rust, i'll take twice as many clankers to the ground with me for you." Strider claimed.
He finished his salute before putting his helmet back on his head. He replaced the DC-15S's power pack and primed it. He had a lot of ground to cover to get back before dark.
As he began walking, a few rain drops fell onto his visor, splotching it up. Strider wiped the water away before continuing to walk back towards the direction of Ponyville.
Strider's helmet shielded his face from any creature, therefor hiding a bit of water that had developed under his right eye. It was diffidently not rain...