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Old 10-25-2005, 03:22 PM   #1
machievelli
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What we die for...

What we die for...

The shuttle docked with the cruiser Camirodorn. The pilot, an SP class clone turned toward the rear. He had never seen such a disreputable Jedi in his life. The fact that his entire life from tube to pilot was less than seven years didn’t change his estimate. In the standard year since the war had begun, he had shuttled dozens of Jedi.

But the Kamino had done their work well. Even if he didn’t think much of this one, the man was still technically a
General, and you gave him the respect the rank deserved, not the man.

“General Devron?”

Larin Devron snorted, then suddenly awoke. He was a lanky man all of 18 years old. Barely old enough for the designation. Sandy colored hair fell across his eyes, and he flipped it back with an unconscious gesture. The Padawan-learner’s braid spun like a whip. “Uh, yeah?”

“Your command, sir.” the SP reported.

“Oh, right.” Larin stood and brushed his robes but nothing could have made them neater except for running them through a medical sterilizer and having someone else wear them. The Jedi picked up his carry bag, and stuck out his hand. “Thank you, uh, what is your name?”

“We don’t have names, sir. We have designations.” The pilot turned back toward the controls. “I am designated unit 1174 batch 8 Sp specialty.”

“Must put a crimp in your sex life.”

1174 grimaced. One of those types. “I wouldn’t know, sir.”

Larin suddenly realized he was carrying both sides of a rapidly collapsing conversation. He walked down the passageway to the hatch, and stepped out onto the deck. Camirodorn was a new CEC model 1121. The model was so new in fact that Larin wouldn’t have been surprised if there was still packing foam stuffed into the ship somewhere. Another clone stood on the deck, perusing his checklist.

“You must be General Devron.” He said, scanning the list. “Your quarters are on B-deck, compartment B-21V. General Consta wishes to see you as soon as you have settled in.” The clone handed him a pad with directions to his quarters.

“Thank you- uh, let me guess, no name, just a designation, right?”

“Yes, sir. Unit 104 batch 9 CS specialty.”

“CS?”

“Combat Support. Knowing what each unit needs, and making sure they have it in combat. Since the human crew is busy, I was assigned as boat bay rating of the watch.”
\
“Oh.” With the same face to repeated ad nauseum when he took command of his squadron, Devron looked for a designator of some kind on the man‘s uniform. But except for his rank tabs and a security wand, the clone had nothing. Maybe he’d work it out before someone got killed.

It took a hectic twenty minutes to find his quarters, jettison his gear, and change before he headed off to meet his superior officer, Padawan Consta.

Ruki Consta was at her desk, going over the reports from the two squadrons assigned to Camirodorn. Her hair was iron gray, but the unlined face suggested that it was her natural color not age. She looked up, waving him to a chair, and leaned back. “According to what Master Kasil reported, you haven’t served aboard a cruiser yet, or with a Snub fighter squadron. Why were you assigned here instead of a Home Fleet unit?”

“I asked for a combat assignment, Padawan.”

“Please.” She waved her hand as if the air was filled with smoke. “I was a simple Guardian for almost forty years before this mess began. I am a General as are you only because without a specific rank, we are Nulls to the Clones.”

“Nulls?”

“One of their own terms. It means we have no place in their neat and orderly lives. A Null cannot complain, or give them orders. A Null is either a target or an ancillary piece of equipment not in their TOE. That separates us from Norms, which are normally birthed humans. We belong on the ship if we‘re Nulls. Norms is just all of us lumped together as ‘not cloned‘.”

“TOE?”

She sighed. “Never even read the old war stories, right?” He shook his head. “TOE is table of organization and equipment. Follow?” He nodded.

“All right, you are taking command of our second squadron, Squadron 421. You have a full complement of clone pilots with the new ARC-170 fighters. You have your own Delta-7 Aethersprite of course.”

Larin nodded. The Delta-7s were hot craft, and only the Jedi had proven to use them to their full potential. But the ARC-170 was supposed to be as good if not a little better. “So what do I do from here?”

“Well, General,” She grinned to take the sting out of the tone, “You should go down to the berthing area assigned to your squadron, and introduce yourself. Make the usual speech, get with your flight leaders and see if they have any problems, you know the drill.”

“Actually, I don’t know the drill.”

She sighed. A pad flew across the desk, and he caught it as it bounced off his chest. “Small unit commander’s guide, just the Squadron leader’s edition, thank you very much. Wait until you have to go through the bloody Wing Commander’s version. Now go before I think of something else for you to do.”

Larin escaped with his life, looking at the pad. He flipped it on and was horrified to see that it was almost 400 tightly typed pages. Well first he’d see the men. He started to walk, then took out the pad he’d gotten on boarding. “Location of Squadron 2 berthing area?” He asked. Obligingly the pad produced a map. Watching it carefully, he started off.

2

Unit 4511 Batch 19 SFP specialty looked over the newbies assigned to his squadron. He knew that with the attrition so far there weren’t a lot of the original SFP specialties remaining, but some genius had noticed that SP ASP and LAAT specialties could easily handle the upgrading training, so he’d gotten them instead.

Not that it mattered. Clones were considered as spare parts, and would probably remain so when the damn war was over.

He spoke to each as he walked down the line. To an outsider, someone that wasn’t a clone, it would have been gibberish. Questions and answers were short. All of the clones had been through pretty much the same training when it came to their specialties. Hell, half of what Norms used for small talk between a soldier and a CO was redundant.

“Unit?” He asked.

“Interceptor 1121.” The clone replied.

“Where?”

“Kashyyyk.”

4511 nodded, and moved to the next when he felt a sudden chill in the air. He turned slowly, and there was a Norm standing in the hatch leading into the passageway. His eyes raked up and down the man. Too small to have much chance in a hand to hand brawl, too young to be an officer. Definitely not one of his. He would have ended up in the recycling bin.

“May I help you?” He asked. The tone suggested, like the cold looks from the other 20 clones, that the answer was no.

“Larin Devron. I am the new Squadron commander.”

“Ten-Hut!” 4511 snapped. The Clones snapped to attention, eyes gazing off into the distance. 4511 had turned so that he was facing the man as he barked the command, so his eyes were locked on the young Jedi.

Larin was stunned. First was the cold hatred, then suddenly the obedience. He waved in a confused manner. “No need for that. Just, I don’t know, relax.”

“Parade, Rest!” The men’s legs snapped out, now shoulder width apart, hands clasped behind their backs. Still they were just statuary to Larin’s eyes.

4511 took pity on him. “At, ease!” The same stance, but there was a subtle relaxation. heads turned, looking toward him.

Larin walked through the following gazes like a fighter tracked by 40 gun turrets. He wasn’t sure what to do. “You are?”

“Unit 4511 Batch 19 SFP specialty, sir.” the man with the loud voice replied.

“Do we have everything we need, 4511?”

The clone considered. The problem with these damn Jedi officers was that like most Norms outside the original military, they knew Jack about what a squadron needed. He felt an urge to trick him, if only for a brief amusement. “Well sir our fighters need a good supply of Relative Bearing grease, but supply said they don’t have any.” He could feel the amusement from the other clones. “However I am sure that either Engineering or Squadron 2221 has some and just won’t cut some loose for us. Now that we have our own General, maybe you can handle that, sir?”

“I’ll see what I can do, 4511.” Larin felt that he was being toyed with, but wasn’t sure why. “Well I am supposed to give a speech, but for the life of me I can’t think of anything to say. So let’s just consider that a long and stirring speech about how we’ll work together splendidly has been given and duly noted. Okay? I would like to see the flight leaders in my quarters in about an hour. First I am going to see about that grease.”

Once he had gone, the Clones dissolved into laughter. “Kitten.” One said.

3

4511 led the other three flight leaders to the cabin, and one of them pressed the annunciator. “Come.”

They marched in, snapping to attention. Larin waved toward the seats, but none of the clones
moved. “Gentlemen, please sit down.” There was a moment of confusion, then they sat. Not that it helped. They sat at attention.

“All right, I have been going over the training syllabus. We have the simulators from 10 hundred tomorrow until 16 hundred. 4511, how many newbies do you have?”

“Seven, sir.”

“All SFPs?”

“No, sir. Home Fleet had first call on reinforcements. We got SP, ASP, and LAATs instead.”

“How many are up to speed?”

“Most of them. The LAATs are already hot dogs. The ASPs just need to get used to space. The SPs just need to get used to something faster.”

Larin nodded. “Have you already scheduled them?”

“Yes sir.”

“Good. Mind if I sit in?”

“If you want.” 4511 knew that a request from a superior was an order.

“Thank you. I will see you all at 10 hundred then. 4511, could I have a word with you privately?”

As if the Clones wouldn’t know what he would hear half an hour later. “Of course, sir.”

When the others had left, Larin leaned back. 4511 still sat at attention. “I understand that clones only have designations, but I am not comfortable with that.” 4511 shrugged. It wasn’t like they weren’t called a lot of things, most of them not polite. “Would your men mind if I gave them names for my own comfort?”

“No, sir.”

“No they would mind, or no they wouldn’t like it?”

“We follow your orders. If you want to order us to-”

“No, 4511. I am not going to make it an order.” Larin rubbed his face. “The only thing different about your men and one of us is that no one decided what we would look like or be good at. Someone threw the dice with our genetics, and we turn out like we do.” He considered. “Do you know history?”

“Not especially, sir. No specialty for it required for combat.”

“Back when it was just the human race on one planet, they had atmospheric fighters. To save time, everyone was given a call sign, a name that meant them and no one else. Would your men accept that?”

“Of course sir.” 4511 replied. After all, a request from a superior...

“Oh, and by the way, I scored ten cases of Relative Bearing grease for you. It’s down in your Squad bay.”

4511 was confused. When a new kid entered a Norm unit, they had a hazing ritual that the Clones had seen and accepted for their own use. You asked for something that no one would even carry, and the names of the items were such that anyone who knew anything about ship-board operations would immediately know that the sufferer was being sent on a wild gundark chase. The guy was supposed to spend a couple of hours wandering the ship in a vain quest.

The idea that any one would have a grease to determine the compass bearing of another vessel in relation to your own (Or relative bearing) was absurd. However 4511 couldn’t actually come out and say so. “Yes sir. Thank you, sir.”

Five minutes later, looking at the ten cases of lubricant used for rectal thermometers, 4511 had to admit that Larin may have been young, but he wasn’t a kitten.

Last edited by machievelli; 06-25-2010 at 06:49 PM.
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