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It should be hard, planning and spreading ideas about potential anti-Dark Jedi techniques without telling their instructors, as they don’t have the clearance to know about the CL-OWK cloning line to begin with, but it actually turns out to be much easier than Slick expected it to be.

There’s so many of them and everyone is so used to all of them behaving according to the rules that everyone takes for granted that they will all be in the same mindset and that no secret could be kept. Which is pretty useful to know, considering that Slick is definitely not falling in step with the others, mentally speaking.

 


 

Oh, he doesn’t want to be de-activated and the ‘retirement at end of service’ clause is a thing he’s already looking forward to, even though they aren’t getting taught anything but how to be useful soldiers, but at the same time he’s pretty sure that most of his brothers won’t get to see said retirement thing happen.

Soldiers like them don’t get bred and raised just to stand around looking pretty. Someone is planning on needing an army and on needing it soon enough that they are accelerate-growing them at double the rate than it would be biologically normal.

The Jedi commissioned them so he’s pretty sure the Jedi are the ones with something on their minds. Peacekeepers his ass. You don’t keep peace with soldiers who are taught to be the most efficient killers around.

You might call it that, but you really aren’t.

It bothers Slick and he can see it bothering Chopper too, though Chopper is much worse at hiding it.

Chopper looks at the sim-droids in ways that leave the others twitchy and Slick relaxed every time his random searches of their lockers turn up nothing. Chopper is damn good at his job. Slick doesn’t want to have a reason to get him de-activated.

Chopper, however, doesn’t seem to mind the kids they are now regularly visited by. Hell, his brother sides up to the one calling himself Thrive with a face like he just wants to drag the boy into his bed, cuddle him and never let go. Like the boy soothes him or some bullshit like that.

It’s what keeps Slick from actually sharing his opinions with Chopper.

He can’t trust a brother who thinks Light Side Users are the best thing since the now-impossible to find ion weapons, as much as he wants to.

 


 

He gets it.

They were made for the Jedi.

They have been told again and again.

About the only thing they’ve been told more is that there are no assurances that any of them will get to retirement age and that they are expendable.

Does anyone else seems to realize how creepy that is?

How unsettling it is, for them to latch on those kids, and they are little kids as far as Slick is concerned, like they are lifelines. What are the guys like Chopper going to do, once they are in the field? Cuddle their Jedi commanders? Follow them around like cubs following their mothers? Stare longingly after them like lovesick puppies if they aren’t the touchy feely type?

It’s kriffing messed up, it’s what it is, not that anyone else seems to have realized it. It makes Slick sick at the stomach, how willing his brothers are to just march to their deaths in perfect step. It makes him lock his jaw and hold the position he’s in harder, to curb the temptation to grab the nearest brother and shake him, or pound him, until the brother sees reason before it gets overwhelming.

He doesn’t breath a word of it, tries the hardest he can to either only think that he likes T4, or the two new kids, or not think at all when the boy is around him.

He does his level best to copy his brothers’ behavior when he’s around them. He knows what happens to the clones that the Kaminoans decide to label as ‘defective’ and he has no intention of ending up ‘de-activated’, as they ever so politely put it, the kriffing assholes.

 


 

His unit is one of the last to get their ass kicked by the Dark Force user, the DFU as the other units have been taking to call him. It’s a combination of the rotation they are on and just sheer luck of having the position they have entrenched themselves into.

It’s a kriffing mess.

They all go down like cadets half their age and the best they can say to their name is that implementing the tactics Wolffe and the rest of the higher command staff came up with bought them about thirty seconds of stalling, and that's being generous.

It would be embarrassing if Slick could spare enough attention to feel anything that is not ‘oh kriffing hells’ terror and ‘oh kriff you’ rage.

He gets pinned to a rocky wall, with a lovely view of his unit sprawled down in various levels of unconscious and bleeding, and then his head splits open and someone roots through it, digging fingers deep and yanking up –

Slick chokes on his rage and fury, mouth opening to howl about the unfairness of it all or maybe to just howl at the terror that is having every dark, morbid and de-activation worthy thought dragged up in the open for the guy to see.

He doesn’t know how but he gets himself off the wall and charges the fucker, because this is him or the DFU and he is not going to die just because someone rifled into his brain and then tattled out stuff that no one had any right to know.

 


 

He thinks he got a few good punches in, before he ended up pinned to the rocky terrain, his head feeling like it’s been set on fire and the DFU straddling him and cradling Slick’s face in his hands like he might just snap his neck and end his misery right now.

I would say I am sorry, but I am not. The fucker says without words, sending the thoughts straight into Slick's mind, leaning so far down that he’s breathing the same air that Slick is breathing, that’s how close they are.

There are images, flashing in Slick’s mind, of training of a kind he’s never had, of endless rage and pain, of three kids who look like T4 and his brothers but that he knows are both different and worth more than all of the Republic.

I feel the same. The DFU whispers in his mind and the words come with knowledge that sinks bone deep.

Knowledge that the clone troopers like him were created for the Jedi but the cloned Jedi, because that’s what they are, were created for the troopers.

That they will all be allowed to live only as long as there will be troopers to train.

That the CL-OWK clone was made to be a DFU just for troopers like Slick to train with and that he has no allegiance to any Order or Republic or anyone but his ‘others’.

That the DFU would kill anyone and everyone to get them off here and somewhere where they can disappear and make their own lives.

That the DFU also knows what it means to have howling rage against the injustice of it all inside him and that he can’t do anything about it, not any more than Slick can right now, and that he probably never will, while Slick will one day be shipped off and might end up in the position to either lead, and thus protect his men or find a way to get them out, or get out himself.

And that all of this makes the DFU want to learn how to split Slick open and slide into his body, take his place and be able to do the same for his ‘others’, to get them all off here.

I think this is what having a crush feels like. Slick thinks, dazedly, feeling the fire of the DFU’s rage lap against his skin. He wants to snuggle into it and make himself a home there, screaming at it and matching it with his own.

The DFU rears back, looking thrown, his eyes flickering from red to gold for a moment and unbalancing himself a little.

Slick takes the opening and head-butts him, as hard as he can.

He thinks he managed to break his nose, there is blood for certain and he can’t think of anything else he’s hit that might spout blood that way, unless he’s split the guy’s lip.

The DFU bares his teeth and suddenly Slick’s body is being pressed down by pressure so heavy that he feels like he can’t breathe. He feels every bone underneath his neck pop and all he can think of doing is baring his teeth right back at the DFU.

My name is Mad. He hears, proud and defiant, and then he gets choked in unconsciousness.

 


 

Slick wakes up from two weeks in a bacta tank to a commendation in his file, the respect of his brothers and the newly-given command of his own unit.

He’s pretty confused about it, until he gets told that he’s the first who has not only successfully shaken off being pinned by the Force  but he’s also the only one who managed to deal any amount of damage to the DFU.

To Mad.

He said his name is Mad.

He goes along with it, feeling unbalanced and almost bereft, without Mad’s rage filling his mind until nothing else is left. It’s a feeling that he hates, almost as much as he hates the yearning he now has, to know more about him, about Mad’s ‘others’.

It pisses him off that the asshole went and made him feel the way the rest of his brothers do for the LFU kids. Not as much as knowing that the Kaminoans actually took a kid and put him through hell for the sole purpose of training Slick and his brothers but yeah, it’s up there.

Goddamn kriffing mess he landed himself in it.