• Published 14th Sep 2012
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Star Wars: Republic Commando: Brothers All - TJbrena



Sev and another Commando escape a prison camp with the help of ponies, and struggle to find meaning.

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4. Intervention and Introspection

“Clone troopers are well disciplined. Even the Alpha-batch ARC troopers—surly though they are—are predictable, in the sense that Fett gave them precise orders that they continue to obey. But the commando batches are almost as unpredictable as the Nulls, and the Nulls are as good as being Skirata's private army. That's the problem with having intelligent clones trained by a ragbag of undisciplined thugs—they've turned out at best idiosyncratic, at worst disobedient. But they'll probably win the war for us. Tolerate them.”
―Assessment of Republic Commando cadre by Director of Special Forces general Arligan Zey to Iri Camas
***

“I hate this place,” Corporal Copper Cutlass muttered. “The whole forest is just weird. And aliens going to and from it sure doesn’t help my opinion.”

“Cool it. It’s not like we can’t take whatever’s in here,” Sergeant Silver Sword responded confidently. He had years of experience under his belt, more than their captain in fact, and he held sway with Shining Armor because of his experience.

“Hey, focus on the job. We need to find this thing and take it in for questioning.”

They didn’t even notice the reptilian footprints they passed.

***

It was time to act. The Trandoshan readied his mind for the coming slaughter. Usually when such things happened, it was Trandoshans inflicting death upon their enemies. But for him it was different.

He had no name to most who knew him. As soon as he became a bounty hunter, Syyks left his name behind, in favor of the moniker “Outrider”. While he was relatively well-known among Trandoshan mercenaries, slavers and bounty hunters, he was a controversial figure.

The reason he was controversial was not anything so extreme as rejecting the Trandoshan religion and eschewing the notion of jagganath points, that system that made his kind seem so randomly brutal. No, he had merely rejected the necessity of slaving and hunting Wookies for sport, or any other sentient being.

He encouraged bounty hunting as a somewhat more palatable alternative to slaving and hunting thinking beings; he was more partial to hunting big game anyway. But his prowess in combat against all kinds of foes was admired among Trandoshan mercenaries and hunters, and he was respected nonetheless, if somewhat disliked.

The coming slaughter was of his brethren. He owed a favor to the Republic, specifically to a commando who was missing, presumed dead. He volunteered to be the eyes and ears on the inside of a slaving operation, and to wreak havoc on their order. After he’d informed them of the two commandos there, and their escape, they Republic had told him to destroy the camp.

Doing that without blowing his cover wouldn’t be easy however. While he was the average size and build for a Trandoshan mercenary, his skin was a rare dull gray. His armor was the same as many mercs’ in form, but with better materials; more protective, lighter, more durable. It also had a paint-brush-stroke striped pattern, dark green with black stripes that tapered at the end and were bordered by brown; it provided excellent cover in forests and grasslands, and he had recolored versions for urban and desert hunts, as well as an multi-purpose patten. There was no way anyone would mistake him for another Trandoshan, so thoroughness would be the rule.

He knew the locations of every gas line and generator, every fire suppression system and every structural weak point. He’d planned this for months. Three well-hidden explosives were already in place, having been planted during the repair sessions that had endeared him to the maintenance crew. He’d already established a pattern of mid-afternoon walks. It was a long con, and it was about to pay off.

He would leave the camp, and disaster would strike in his absence. He would move on to another cell, and do the same thing there. This was much more fun than hunting Wookies. He was doing something that was extremely difficult and dangerous, and racking up kills that nobody would find out about if all went well. The Scorekeeper would be his final judge, and he believed that his ruthlessness would be rewarded.

So he went through with it. On his walk he detonated the explosives. A hundred lives taken, not one of them innocent. The stealth field generator - which hid both the aircraft that had gone to and from the camp and contained all sound within the area - covered the explosion’s sound and light with its last emission. Not one of the natives would know that the slavers had met a fiery end, just as they hadn’t known when they arrived.

***

Coruscant waited anxiously inside the cupboard, the darkness of the cramped space pierced by the soft blue glow from his helmet’s visor. He could hear the guards as they were shown around the house, their speech unintelligible and positions vague.

He hid for an hour before they came back down.

“Just need to check the closets and such downstairs,” One of the guards said, his voice muffled.

Closets, cupboards, pantries; they checked it all. Finally hooves came to his position.

“Last one.”

The knob turned and Coruscant grabbed it, determined to hold the door shut. He pulled the door inwards with his left hand, careful to only match the force of each pull. His right hand gripped his pistol, which was set to stun.

“It’s stuck.”

“Oh yeah, I was messing with superglue and it messed up the door and stuff. I was trying to fix it, and I was drunk, and-” Vinyl Scratch was cut off.

“That’s fine ma’am. Sorry to bother you, we’ll be leaving now.”

A door opened and shut. A few moments of silence followed, broken only by the relieved sighs of the three beings still in the house.

“Okay, you can come out now,” Octavia said.

Coruscant opened the cupboard and crawled out on his hands and knees. After getting to his feet and holstering his pistol, he went to his room. There was a series of games he was dying to play after Vinyl recommended them.

Metal Gear Stable, here I come.”

***

The ponies searching for him were easy to track. All Sev had to do was follow the blatantly obvious trail they left as they pushed aside the foliage in their path.

They didn’t seem to know much about him from what he overheard them saying. A lot of speculation about his origin, motivations, whether he was related to the “Gray Ghost”, and other such topics.

What caught his attention was a prediction that a “changeling” made; new swarms would come, beyond their power. They doubted the changeling, which Sev assumed was insectoid judging from the ponies’ description of it as a “bug”. But on the off chance that was true, what could they be speaking of?

Sev could think of two “swarms”. The CIS military and its legions of droids, and the Grand Army of the Republic with its millions of clones. Either way, Sev had to focus on the now.

The ponies had gotten silent, their horns glowing with some sort of energy. Had he been detected? Perhaps, but they seemed to be preparing to counter a different sort of threat. The howling confirmed it.

“Timberwolves!” The leader shouted.

A pack of canines, seemingly made of wood, began to assault the ponies in force. Sev watched as they were fought back again and again, only to return each time. They used some sort of energy that they discharged from their horns to defend themselves, although it had little effect other than impact. The three of them seemed to be tiring after a few minutes of combat.

They’re after me, but they don’t want to kill me or seriously harm me from what I can tell. And they need my help. This could be a Republic planet someday.

They could be allies now.

Sev switched the magazine and barrel on his DC-17/m to change it into a sniper rifle. After moving closer, he began placing bolts into the timberwolves’ skulls. Each shot was a clean kill, splattering green ichor as the bolts of plasma penetrated them cleanly.

By the fifth shot, five had died, and the rest retreated. Sev reloaded, and stared at his would-be hunters. They stared back at him as though he were death incarnate, paralyzed with fear. Sev switched his rifle back to blaster mode by switching the barrel and magazine. He did his best to not look dangerous, or at least not hostile. No easy feat considering he was the first alien any of them had ever seen, was able to outfight them easily, and had an intimidating blood-red war-paint on his armor, which for all they knew was his flesh.

Please don’t make me take the initiative here.

***

Oh dear Celestia, what have I gotten us into?

Shining Armor was rooted in place, staring at the alien in front of him, less out of fear than awe and curiosity. Gray, like the figure that had been in Ponyville hours earlier, but different at the same time. It had blood-red markings over its skin and light blue objects on its legs and arms, their purpose unknown. Its face was blank, a "T" with an inverted "V" connected at the bottom, and faint blue light coming from the top of the "T". It resembled a minotaur in its upper body, but its legs were plantigrade, like Spike’s. It had hands with five fingers instead of the normal four for most creatures with hands, which appeared to be fairly dexterous without seeming fragile.

This thing had just killed five timberwolves in as many bursts of magic, when he and his guards had struggled to repel them during their hunt for the alien. The alien that had been hunting them.

But if it was hunting us, why hadn’t it attacked? Maybe it doesn’t want to hurt us. Maybe we provoked it when we ran towards it… Maybe it saved us out of good will.

Shining Armor kept a stoic expression. “Hello?”

***

“Hello?”

Okay, glad I didn’t have to start the diplomatic osik. Do I try the scary alien thing and speak Mando’a, hoping they figure me out and fear me while they respect me, or go the easy way to making allies? What would Boss do?

He pondered for a moment before coming to a conclusion. Boss wouldn’t let anything get in the way of a mission, be it personal preferences, obstacles, enemies or otherwise. Sev may have preferred to be the scary, enigmatic type, but he knew that as a commando he was a piece of a whole squad. And the brains of that squad would most definitely have gone the diplomatic route. He cleared his throat, not that it would help with his gravelly voice.

“Hi.”

“I hope you understand us, it’d be a shame to only know one word you said.” The pony put on a wry grin.

“I understand you. I’d like to talk, preferably on neutral ground.” Sev was careful not to suggest Big Mac’s farm; if things went badly he didn’t want him caught in any backlash.

“Zecora’s hut is near here, and I don’t think she’d mind a few guests,” One of the subordinates suggested.

“Works for me,” Sev said.

***

The trip was short as they headed to Zecora’s hut, but it seemed to drag on. There was the constant threat of attack from native animals, the foreign nature of the Everfree, and the hazardous plant life. They took a few more minutes than they should have, trying to avoid a patch of poison joke. The alien just walked through them, some sort of blue ward appearing around it as it did so. It seemed silently intrigued that the flowers had caused such a reaction, but proceeded through with slightly increased haste.

They reached Zecora’s hut within a matter of minutes. When they reached the dwelling, Shining Armor knocked with his hoof.

“Ma’am, we’d like to use your hut as neutral ground for a meeting. Is that acceptable?” Shining requested, the door still shut.

“I can easily provide you with what you seek, although I rarely have guests this day of the week.” The door opened, and she beckoned them inside.

The three guards walked in, which struck Zecora as odd, since she didn’t see a need for such a presence in a ‘neutral meeting’. She understood however, when a fourth figure entered, completely foreign to her.

The being gazed around, taking in the arrangement of exotic masks and potions. It was clearly from a foreign land, one Zecora knew nothing of. She took a seat in a corner and began to observe silently.

Shining Armor sat at one end of a table in the center, and the alien on the other. The two guards accompanying him stood by the entrance and watched silently.

***

This wasn’t a moment Sev expected he’d enjoy. Here he was, in some tribal hut, talking to an intelligent quadruped, with no idea what his goals were save for making sure he wasn’t a fugitive. The tribal surroundings also made him realize a blunder he’d made days earlier, on Kashyyyk.

I never got those Wookie bandoliers I wanted.

The livestock spoke first.

“I suppose introductions are in order. My name is Shining Armor. I’m the Captain of the Equestrian Royal Guard.”

“My designation is RC-1207, I’m a clone commando of the Grand Army of the Republic. Call me Sev.”

“Alright, ‘Sev’. What do you mean when you say you’re a ‘clone commando’ in the ‘Grand Army of the Republic’?”

Sev grunted. How would he explain this to a creature unaware of the galaxy at large?

“By clone, I mean I am a biological copy of a specific template. By commando, I mean I am a warrior grown and bred for high-risk missions, to be carried out alongside my squad, whom I was raised with. I was separated from them a few days ago on a planet I assume is only a few light-years from here, judging by the stars. I was incapacitated by Trandoshans, and I woke up in a camp near here.”

Shining Armor looked as though something had just clicked in his head.

“I know what a commando does. How many of you are there?”

“If we’re talking about clones in general, there are several million, but I don’t know the specific number, and I wouldn’t give it to you if I did. Most are regular infantry, unlike me.”

“What are you at war with?”

“The Confederacy of Independent Systems, also known as Separatists, who want to forcefully secede from the Republic and take unwilling systems with them. Their soldiers consist mostly of millions of droids, mindless machines built for war.”

Again, a look of realization.

“Is there anything you’d like within reason, seeing as we don’t have any way to send you back to whatever planet you were on?”

“Immunity for any perceived crimes I may have committed. Something to fight.”

“I can give you the first. No promises on the second. What if I need to see you?”

“Just talk to Rainbow Dash. She’ll find me.”

They left after bidding each other and their host farewell. Sev stayed in the forest for another hour, waiting for the guards to leave the forest. When night fell, he snuck back into the barn he’d been staying in. The bedroll and the bag of books were still there, but piled up with the dried apples.

At least they know how to clean up evidence.

Once he got out the bedroll, he detached his backpack and laid down to rest.

***

Coruscant couldn’t get Gray Fox’s words out of his head.

We're not tools of the government or anyone else! Fighting was the only thing... the only thing I was good at, but... At least I always fought for what I believed in...

If the Republic didn’t come for him, and they had no reason to, was he free? What would that freedom entail? His instructor had told him that clones were lucky in a way. While most people would struggle to find some meaning or purpose in life, clones already knew what they were made to do: wage war.

But now he was in a country that hadn’t waged war in over a millennium. Would he become a mercenary? Perhaps the Mandolorian heritage he and his squad had so blatantly rejected would have come in handy then. Still, from the maps he’d seen, he was hundreds of kilometers from another country, and therefore hundreds of kilometers from any potential job as a mercenary. Or, at least it would seem that way from what little he knew.

I suppose I should try to immerse myself in current events. At least then I’d be able to locate conflict zones. But I can’t just fight for anybody, I need to something to fight for.

Coruscant chuckled. A simple game made to entertain was influencing his outlook on life. But then again, it was one of the most intelligently-written franchises out there according to Vinyl.

I don’t suppose Hideo Coltjima would’ve expected to change a life created for the same purpose as his protagonist. Created to destroy.

Coruscant considered something he never would’ve before as he nodded off.

Maybe I don’t have to belong to the Republic anymore. Maybe I’m free…