There was nothing worse than being buried alive.
Mud, thick, black, foul smelling mud that seeped between your armor plates and mired you down. It was a death trap. He could feel it start to get on his skin and whatever evil ghost this place had was whispering in his ear, telling him to just let go. At this point Klick wasn't sure it was his own mind starting to betray him. He tried to scramble for the hasty Force bond he'd made with the blonde Jedi (the man had used his karking name and talked to him and didn't mind that Klick was affection starved and he really wanted to be held and told that it was okay he was scared...!), but all he felt was a blazing agony. He jerked back. His helmet started caving in under the force of the dirt on top of him. He tried to struggle, but the filthy mud just held him down.
He was trapped. Helpless. Klick was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. The air filters on his helmet were shit, typical Imperial quality, and they would only last for thirty minutes at the most. Tears filled his eyes as he thought of his brothers trapped with him. He tried to blink them away. Decker, Caliber, Steel, Oddball, ad all the others didn't deserve this. They didn't deserve to die like this. He forced himself to take shallow breaths. They were going to leave him. He didn't blame them. He was just another damn clone and it wasn't like they hadn't made a thousand of him a month. Klick didn't try touching the Force bond again. It was okay, he understood. Skywalker had other people to save, better things to do.
His lungs started to burn. Klick closed his eyes and tried to pull himself into his memories. The touches that were like his General's. The way Luke's eyes were blue, blue like the sky on this planet had been before Shadowspawn destroyed it. He couldn't tell Luke what he could do, he didn't dare. The Jedi would think he was a freak. Just like the rest of the Empire had. He thought of the soup Solo had made and the way he wanted to hit the man for not telling him that the food would burn his mouth. He had never had anything but ration bars before. To taste something with cayenne peppers in it for the first time was to be asking for trouble. Klick slowed his breathing. He allowed himself to dream about a life he could have lived and the hope he had had when he'd seen the green lightsaber.
It was okay that he would die dreaming. His dreams were all he had now, like the ghost of a kiss. The Jedi would have killed him had they known what he and Master Vhee had been doing behind the speeders at the Temple. It had felt good, though. The usually cold Jedi had softened then and Klick craved affection. He might have curled up with his brothers at night, but there were some things only a lover could give. This Jedi would have been different, he thought. Luke said he had light within him and that was how the Jedi knew he could trust Klick. For Klick, it was simple. Skywalker was the reason he hadn't given up in those long years he was here. The serums, the things they had given him and his brothers so they were still like young shinies. Klick never felt his age. Ever. He didn't look it. He looked young.
The Jedi on the secret HoloNews he'd watched had been so different from the warm man who shared a cup of soup and a blanket with him. That Jedi had been cold and this one was warm. This one laughed at the bad jokes he made and listened when he said that Shadowspawn could sever his spirit and his body.
So it was okay that he would die here. He could die with a smile on his face and the knowledge that he could have made his Jedi very happy. He'd learned from Master Vhee, of course, and it had been very useful when his brothers were hungry or needed better equipment. He could apply that to the blonde Jedi and smile as he writhed in pleasure from it. It was okay that Klick could die here. He'd given it a good run. He'd shown that he wasn't a defect. He was still a good boy. He could still follow a Jedi. Klick knew what Luke had promised him, that they would have seen Coruscant together and Klick could have been free. His lungs could have been on fire for all he cared.
"How the hell do you get these helmets off?!"
"Easy!" Something smashed the face plate and sweet air rushed into his lungs. Klick doubled over, coughing. The smuggler, Solo, was standing over him and holding a chunk of rebar. Klick looked at him. chest heaving. For a second, Solo looked like he was going to smash in his head with the rebar, but he moved. Klick struggled to his feet, trying to get away from the mud. Solo yanked him up and spun him around. "I don't know what sick fantasies your tank breds have, but lemme tell you something--Luke's mine. You get it?"
Klick nodded. "My brothers. Where are they?"
Solo rolled his eyes. "We're still looking for two more of them." He still moved to support Klick, possibly because Fenn Shysa was watching them. Solo made him stumble and he fell to his knees, getting more of the mud on his hands. "Three of 'em are dead. Medics said those were called Boulder, Twitch, and Mauser? We're still looking for Caliber and Deep End. I don't know what it is with you and names."
Klick glared at him as he forced his battered legs to work. "You try naming yourself in a karking medical facility and you see how good you're doing." He closed his eyes for a second and felt for them. Deep End was still a shiny at heart. He might not have known enough... "Caliber's over here!" Klick yanked the rebar out of Solo's hands and started hacking at the earth. It was more to show Solo how strong he really was than he looked. He started, trying to get his brother out. He found Caliber's helmet and cracked it open. The younger clone was pale and sallow, but he took a deeper breath. He started coughing and struggling. Solo joined him and they dug Caliber out. Klick fought himself not to smash Solo in the head. He didn't like the man.
He couldn't feel anything for Deep End. Could barely bring himself to locate the body. Fenn Shysa and his men dug the dead clone out and Klick brushed his blonde hair out of his eyes. Deep End looked like he was sleeping. Klick brought his gaze back over to the battered bodies of his comrades. They were looking at the ground, still crusted in mud. Klick limped over, painfully aware of what was starting to feel like a fractured hip. But it was okay. He was still on the top side of the garden bed. Steel wrapped his arms around himself, whimpering softly. Deep End had been his little brother and now he was dead. Klick let the other clone mourn in peace. He needed to make sure they went with the right group and weren't parceled out like party favors.
"Klick!" Luke came skidding down the still muddy slope. "You're alive! Thank the gods, you're alive!"
"It took you long enough." Klick crossed his arms and gave him a half smile. He grimaced in pain, touching his battered hip. But he didn't care. He just wanted to be with his brothers and his Jedi. He could have that now. He could have all of that. "We're going with you, Master Skywalker. I trust a Jedi far more than I trust everyone else."
Luke nodded. "You're also an experienced soldier and we kinda need that on some other planets."
Klick fought off a wave of pain and darkness, but it was proving too much. Solo said something, but it was muffled and he was having a hard time hearing. He maybe thought that he was falling to the ground, but he only knew for sure when he saw Skywalker standing over him and begging him to just hold on. Please. Help is coming. Klick, kriff damn you, you can't die! You're not allowed to die!