Chapter 1: Chapter One
A Different Type of Soldier
In a period of civil war, the Empire pushes the Rebel forces towards the outer reaches of the galaxy.
With the Jedi Master Van Hohenheim captured and the Rebel forces stretched to their breaking point, there doesn’t seem to be any hope for them to take down the Empire.
But a forgotten insignificant clone might be the answer the Rebels were looking for.
Captain ED-0001, the newly appointed leader of Green Lion Company, took a huge breath as the transporter he was in skidded across the lush green landscape of the small green planet Resembool. Looking out the window he could see rolling hills and lush grass, all that he never saw before in the Officer Candidate School that he was stuck at for one whole year now. During the six and a half years he had been alive, he had never seen so much green so up close, only getting small looks at passing planets from the space station he had been locked away in for such a long time. Black was a reoccuring scenery when trapped in the confines of space. Now he got to work here of all places.
The small planet was nothing to get too excited about. It had little trade and no major cities. It was mainly a farming reserve for the lonely farmer and their family to live in peace and quiet. However, it was anything but insignificant especially to the Central Empire. Spaceships trapped in deep space needed to feed their troops somehow. Using harvesting planets was the only way that the Empire could keep their troops fed and alive. Resembool itself fed an entire Legion of the Vainglory Corps which recruited most of the army’s active infantry. Without it as a food source, the soldiers would surely starve. Resembool has been under the Empire’s control now for nearly thirteen years which is why ED-0001 assumed that they became so lax with defending it. No battalion or company in the Vainglory Corps was stationed on the miniscule planet. Everything was left to the Extravagance Corps, soldiers who specialized in transportation and supply. Even if they were top notch soldiers, one small battalion could not protect an entire planet no matter how small and barren. It seemed that the Central Empire held little concern over their food crisis.
The Captain was only a little upset to be in charge of such a small company. He couldn’t care too much since a clone, even an officer, was not one to question orders. However, if he were to have one complaint it would be to not literally farm his career away on agriculture. It felt like a lifetime imprisonment to him and it wasn’t how he wanted to be spending the last few years of his childhood. He was the good half of seven years old now and his body appeared of that as an eighteen-year-old. He was nearing the age of maturity for a clone but was not quite there yet. Clones and Storm troopers usually aren’t done training until they are ten years old and definitely don’t get high leadership positions until they are at least twelve. However, with all of the stuff he has been through in his eight years of existence he could definitely say he at least earned the right to command a small insignificant outpost.
ED-0001 sighed as he returned his thoughts to the landscape of the planet. It was very flat, aside from a few mountain ranges in the distance. An enemy could be spotted from miles and miles away. So could many of the small villages. As the Captain peered out of the window he saw the far away thatch roofs of cottages. The village was small but beautiful. ED-0001 would have enjoyed picturing a nice walk through one, but he couldn’t. Not with the plume of black smoke out of it. The closer they got to flying over the small village the more clear Edward could see the flames. The town was on fire.
“Hey, pilot, what’s going on down there?” the Captain asked, an unsettling feeling slowly grew in his stomach. The pilot only took a half interested glance to the town below them. No amount of concern was found in him.
“The troops are getting their latest harvest in from the villages. Sometimes the villagers are a little too reluctant to give up their crops. You are coming in right after the last harvest of the year. It will give you time to learn the ropes-“
“I think I learned enough already,” he muttered as the smoldering remains disappeared over the horizon but not out of his mind.
It took a few more minutes to reach the outpost of Green Lion Company. It was located far away from any of the local villages and was surrounded by a strong gate incase there were any incursions. The ship stopped in motor pool of the small outpost and the Captain hopped out of it in his plain white armor. Rank and position was usually signified by color and white was the lowest of enlisted. A Captain’s uniform was striped with yellow, a Commander’s position was marked by a red pauldron. Having come fresh out of training, he was not yet assigned his new uniform. It was at the unit and he was quite too eager to pick it up. With how fast clones grew, he was a little too cramped in his.
He ran a bit to give the ship room and waved him off, the pilot kicking the ship in gear and taking away his only way off that tiny planet. Yeah, it felt more like imprisonment every second he was there. The Captain pulled himself together and straightened out a bit. If he was going to meet his new troops he better at least look the part of a Commanding Officer.
The outpost looked barren and he couldn’t see a soul in sight. So much for a grand entry. He glanced at his watch and saw that it was already lunch. Everyone would be in the dining facility by then. However, though he could guess where they were, he had no idea where the place was. The Captain made it a little ways into the building not able to find a single speck of life at all on his walk. In fact, the only thing he imagined himself as was lost. Just as he was debating on whether to turn back and wait for someone out in the lobby, he heard rather loud voices coming from the other hallway. They sounded rough and he heard scuffing of some sort, making him pick up his pace to see what it could have been. He rounded the corner just to find himself in the back hallway of what seemed to be the locker rooms. Two groups of soldiers were circled around a fight as one private was kicking a little white lump on the floor. ED-0001 recognized the poor fella as a Cadet by the small insignificant white pauldron on his shoulder. The Private was standing menacingly over him, getting ready to give another kick. A green striped Sergeant was trying to hold him back but no one else was doing a thing to stop the fight. The Captain felt his blood boil as he stormed towards them, pushing some of the soldiers roughly out of the way who were just gathered around. He knew what this fight was all about, but he was angry that anyone let it get this bad.
The Central Army was made of a mixture of recruits who were taken as children to be trained as soldiers and clones who were specially developed for the military. The recruits were called Storm troopers as the military was originally supposed to be named while the clones were just summed up to be called Clone Troopers. Though they worked in the same force they had rather discriminatingly different names which caused even more trouble amongst the troops. Everyone thought that clones got it easy because they were bred for their work while Stormtroopers had to train for years on end for the status that they got. Fights would constantly break out within the military and it caused a rift between the troops that no one could ever fix. However, the Captain would not have that rift there.
“What’s going on here?” he yeld and silence took over the hallway stilling the crowd. The Private stepped forward, disregarding his prey and glared at him as if challenging him to interfere.
“That filthy clone wanted to flag me for not exercising the transports when I did them yesterday-”
“You d-didn’t record them! You need to fill out the-” the Cadet tried to defend himself but was cut off by the other soldier.
“It doesn’t matter, you test tube freak. I did my job!” the soldier growled and pushed passed the Sergeant trying to get another shot at the Cadet but the Commander stepped in front of him stopping him in his tracks.
“Making sure your work is done, and done correctly is his job. If I am not mistaken he is an officer so you should treat him with respect,” he scolded the man.
“He’s a clone that just get’s programmed to do the easy work. We Storm troopers have to train and learn all by ourselves just to get told by a defected half human creature how to do our jobs!” ED-0001 frowned and glared at the soldier through his helmet. He knew that there was always soldiers who didn’t like clones, they were afraid of them, they couldn’t understand them, but he wondered what the last commander was doing to let the fighting get this bad, this physical. The Commander straightened himself out, making himself stand a little taller as if to size up the other soldier who was years older than him and admittedly quite a few inches taller.
“What is your number, Private?” he asked stiffly. His voice was authoritative but not cold. Often when taking leadership positions soldiers get those confused.
“RD-9999,” the man answered. “But people call me Redd.” It was common for clones in small units to receive nicknames to make communication easier. To say a series of numbers continuously would be tiring in every day conversation. However, in units more associated with the high command like in training schools or special forces where he had spent most of his life, nicknames were rare and very strange. The Empire hated individuality and tried to discourage it all they could. ED-0001 had received his own nickname only once, but he had stopped using it long ago.
“Very well, Private Redd, remove your helmet,” he ordered him, which undoubtedly made the soldier look around stupidly. By Central Army regulation they weren’t allowed to remove their helmets unless in their barracks, eating lunch, or ordered to by a higher officer. Since they weren’t doing any and the Captain wasn’t issued his pauldron or new armor yet, the Private just chuckled stupidly with a malicious grin on his face.
“Who do you think you are you little ass hole? I could drop kick you to the moon if you try pulling tricks on me you little runt.”
“How about I break your legs off and stick them to your head and then we will see who’s taller,” the Captain yelled at him. “I would have liked to see a little courtesy when talking to your commanding officer.” The man froze and he heard whispers pick up around the hallway and the Captain spotted a couple soldiers sneak away as they didn’t want to be objectified to so much tension. Even the private under question seemed skittish however before he could imagine to do anything the Captain grabbed him by his chest plate and pulled him down to his level and spat, “I am Captain ED-0001, the Commander of Green Lion Company of the Avarice Battalion, and your superior officer. Now, I order you one more time, RD-9999, take off your helmet.”
The soldier faltered, conflicted with his sudden fear and obeying the orders of his newly arrived Commanding officer. Flustered, he lifted his hands up and pulled off his helmet to reveal a face that barely saw the light of day having been hidden behind his helmet all the time. He was an old looking soldier with burning red hair and a face full of freckles. That was probably how he had gotten his nickname, either that, or his temper. By the tired lines under his eyes, the Captain had to guess that he was nearly thirty five, though he wasn’t too good at judging age. However, he was questioning why in the world the man was still a private at that age. He looked like he was trying to keep a straight face, but his cheeks were red with embarrassment and anger while his eyes succumbed to his internal fear. To the Commander, it was a hilarious thing to see as it nearly made him look constipated.
“Yes, let’s see here,” the Commander muttered as he stared at him, not letting his amusement get the better of him. “Two eyes, Two ears, a nose, a mouth, and a body, which we all could see works pretty well from how you were dealing with the Cadet over there.” The Private frowned at his observation. He did not really understand what he was getting at.
“Yes, there doesn’t seem anything special about you, nothing that would deem you abnormal,” ED-0001 continued after a pause. With an accepting nod of his head after one more thorough study, the Captain reached up and pulled off his own helmet. The ogling eyes of everyone around froze on him and he saw the Private’s face go pale as he looked him over. Everything from his golden hair to his golden eyes seemed to be a punch in the face for them, but ignoring the stupefied looks on their faces, he continued.
“I have two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, and a good working body just like you,” he announced. “We are the same. Exactly the same. We are people. The only difference between us is that you came from a mother and I came from a father. That is it-”
“But you can't be a clone, they don't make clones like you-” Redd stumbled accusingly and the Captain glared even harder at him. He could understand the man’s confusion. The Empire’s leaders, out of concerns for the inconceivable idea that clones go rogue, never liked to make clones that resembled the majority of their staff. All the clone variants had dark skinned and hair of some sort to distinguish them from the normal Imperial population, but not ED-0001 who was as pale and blond as one could get. With golden hair and piercing metallic eyes, he nearly looked like the Emperor himself. He was able to use this resemblance to his advantage on many occasions and scaring Privates was one of them.
“Check again,” he seethed, pulling down his collar to show the intricate emblazonment on his neck. All clones were branded with elemental symbols, different for each variant of clone. It was a way to record their programming and creation. Though all soldiers, both storm and clone, had chips in their left wrists for identification and record of orders, clone development was something too important to hold in a file. If it fell into enemy hands the Central Empire feared that the rebels would try to copy it and make their own forces. So, in this way, it was coded and with the individual at all times in case of malfunction in the programming. To be branded with a hot iron was excruciatingly painful and left the individual with a raw burn for several weeks. Everyone knew what the marks looked like, and all knew what they meant, they weren’t normal. Though, the Captain liked to try and convince people otherwise.
“We are all the same,” the Commander said, straightening himself out and pulling his collar back up over his scars. “We all look the same, we all talk the same, we all think the same, we are all trained the same. When we put these uniforms on, we are all the same. We need to work as a unit not in parts of one versus the other. Our duty is to protect this outpost and feed the legion. We can’t do that if we are fighting each other about who is who or what is what. When we put these uniforms on we must work as a unit, as a family. If we can’t do that we are dead.”
The hallway was eerily silent and the Captain looked around at where everyone stood dumbfounded. Even the Cadet who was dawning a bloody nose and a black eye, as his helmet was knocked off in the scuffle, was silent in his sufferings. The Captain tucked his pony tail up and placed his helmet back on his head before turning to RD-9999.
“Put your helmet back on and return to work,” he ordered him stiffly. “Next time remember your place with those who out rank you. We earned these positions like anyone else.” The soldier quickly fumbled to but his helmet back on and gave a tight nervous salute before racing down the hallway with all of the other Privates in tow. The place was quickly emptied and the Captain felt the tension alleviate now that they were gone. All he wanted was a normal first day’s introduction. He let out a tired sigh and rubbed the back of his neck before turning to the Cadet who was still on the floor.
He held out his arm for him and the man grabbed it and stood up, accidentally letting out a little groan as his sore body seemed to be kicking itself even more than Redd did. He was a little surprised to see how tall he was, towering over him like a building. For a clone, he was extremely tall. The Captain, who constantly reminded himself that he was still growing as he was only 6.5 years old, had to bend backwards to even look at his subordinate. His hair was black and curly though it was cut short, making the Commander guess that if it went unmaintained it would have been a bushy mop. It sat on top of a perfectly tanned head which held few lines from wearing age. He was fully matured for a clone, so ED-0001 had to assume that he was probably quite a few years older than him.
“So, what’s your number?” he asked him gently as he watched the soldier put on his helmet, hiding his broken face from view.
“Uh, Cadet PT-3149 sir,” he mumbled.
“Captain ED-0001,” he reintroduced himself. He was glad to finally be able to get an introductory without ordering it from them and sending the person running away. However, from his little scene before hand, the Cadet seemed very nervous to even be standing next to him despite their height difference and the fact that he could probably squish him like a flea. The Commander cleared his throat awkwardly and tried to continue the conversation, which was heavily one sided.
“You were getting your ass kicked, weren’t you ever going to fight back?” The Cadet just looked away as if he was ashamed and the Commander sighed in defeat. He wasn’t going to get anything out of him now.
“Well, just be glad that the Sergeant here and I stopped him.” He turned towards where the young Sergeant was still standing. “What’s your number?”
“Sergeant First Class DD-9980, Sir,” she said to him stiffly. “My men just call me Sergeant Desden. I oversee Second Platoon, sir.”
“Desden?” he questioned. “Did you pick it yourself or-“
“Yes. Everyone wanted to call me DeeDee and I hated it, so I made an alternative,” she said, obviously with a smirk in her voice. “Could you imagine a leader with the name DeeDee? I would rather consider treason before getting stuck with a nickname like that.”
“Well, Desden’s a great name,” the Captain chuckled at the woman’s disdain for the name. “PT-3149, do you have a name?”
“I don’t have one, sir,” the Cadet admitted.
“You don’t have one?”
“No. I don’t really care what I am called, sir. Many people have different names for me,” he told him.
“Very well, I will come up with something soon enough right?” he chuckled lightly. The Cadet nodded his head in acceptance and the Captain frowned slightly. He bet that not all of the names people gave him were very nice at all. The Cadet needed to earn some confidence in himself. But first things are first.
“Well, Cadet, let’s get you to medical. I think a good ointment would be in order for that eye, or at least a tissue or something for your nose, if it isn’t already broken,” he said, giving the man a light pat on the shoulder but the Cadet flinched and yelped as he aggravated his wounds. The Commander quickly apologized and lead him down the hallway with the Sergeant behind him.
“Sir do you even know where to go?” the Cadet asked as he had to pull the Commander in the right direction when they turned the corner.
“No. I am completely lost.”
The Commander sighed as he straightened out his pauldron on his shoulder. He finally got his new uniform after dropping PT-3149 off at medical. It was comfortable unlike his other one which was too tight and he was glad for the change. The supply sergeant in the office said that his other sets were going to be sent to his room from the armory where they were stored.
“You get your own room at the end of the male hallway,” she said typing in a few digits into her transfer pad. The Captain held out his wrist for her to scan the access codes into his imbedded chip. It took one painful burning second and then it was over.
“My own room?” he questioned curiously. It was not strange for higher ranking officers to get their own rooms, but that was usually in units bigger than their small outpost and was rarely a treat for a clone. Their building was small for a growing company, and even the Captain had concerns finding a place to sleep. For him to get his own room, was odd.
“Major PN-0150, the previous Commander who…. Well, you know-“
“Ran himself over with his own speed cruiser,” the Captain said plainly. The unfortunate demise of the previous Commander was the only reason why he was able to claim the now open position. It seemed like a cruel way to get promoted, but it was better than being stuck in holding ship for another spot like clones often were. However, with the rare circumstances that lead to the Major’s death as well as everything that he seemed to be doing previously, the Captain had not ruled out the idea that the man was horribly intoxicated. It did not show up in the man’s records, but someone might have let it slip their mind when typing up a report.
“Yes, well he made sure that the Commander always had their own space. Some of the other barracks were condensed and-“
“Let me see the plans,” he ordered. He held out his hand and her tablet was relinquished to him. The rooms were simple. Each had space for two soldiers to live in rather close but not uncomfortable confines. There appeared to be kept to normal capacity except for when it reached the end of the hallway. There were two rooms crammed with three and four people, which from experience the Captain knew was barely livable. The last two rooms stood empty. One of them was his new quarters which the Major stayed in previously. The other was vacant for an unknown reason.
“Why is this one empty?” he asked, pointing across the hall. The Sergeant took a quick glance at the screen.
“That was where the Commander kept all of his things,” she told him. The Captain growled to himself as he realized the Major was using someone’s sleeping quarters as a second closet. The only thing that soldiers were supposed to have on them were their uniforms and personal hygiene items. Of course in many units, they would hold onto odd nick knacks that they valued, but there could never be anything personal in the life of an Imperial soldier. He could only imagine what towns the Major had to ransack just to need another room for storage.
“Sergeant, what’s your name?”
“SP-0982, most people just call me Supply because that is what I do,” she answered.
“Very well, Supply, I am going to ask you not to get offended when I say this. Your previous commander was a fucking idiot,” he said flatly. He couldn’t see a smile underneath the Sergeant’s helmet but he could assume that there was one there with the small chuckle that escaped her. “Open up that other room, and move those two unfortunate soldiers back in there. And for god’s sake, give me a roommate. I don’t care who as long as it is within normal boarding procedures.”
“Yes, sir!” she said and gave a quick salute. The Captain lazily returned it and turned to leave being sure that the Sergeant would carry through with his orders. He lazily walked back to the main offices to finish his immense pile of paperwork for his assignment to the unit. After what he heard about the previous Commander, he only feared that his amount of paperwork was going to grow. There were obvious signs of poor leadership and the Captain already had to make drastic changes to fix it only a fraction of it. He could only foresee what would happen when he started to learn how the unit ran.
After turning in his paperwork for nearly everything on the face of the earth, he was given directions towards his room and then dumped in the hallway. He growled tiredly as he shook the aches out of his hands from writing for so long. He hasn’t done anything like that since his initial training lessons. He quickly pushed the reoccurring memories back into his subconscious before they surfaced. He was getting a new roommate and didn’t know who it was yet. He begged that he didn’t just get himself stuck with the worse roommate of all time. Maybe he should have kept the single room. However, he disregarded that thought when he saw the hallway to the barracks flooded with a group of soldiers running from room to room. The last few rooms were open as the few lucky soldiers moved into their new lodgings. They moved about with both excitement and relief, their stuff already fully unpacked in their quarters. Giving his soldiers livable conditions was nothing to be sour about.
As he entered the hallway there was a sudden shout that called the entire place to attention. The soldiers who were unlucky enough to be out of their rooms when the order was called stood as stiff as a board against the walls to give him the most room possible to pass. The Captain rolled his eyes and waved them off but they continued to stand like they had a stick up their butt. He passed down the eerily silent hallway and only got halfway through before he found himself being driven insane.
“Geeze, I said at ease. Go about your business. I just want to get to my room!” he exclaimed. “If you stopped for every time I moved you wouldn’t get anything done!” The soldiers glanced at each other and after a hesitant step forward by one of the braver of the few, they cautiously returned to their low conversations. As he continued down the hallway there were several shouts of gratitude to him for the room changes and he just growled back at them in return. The Captain reached the end of the hallway to room 310A with little effort after that. He scanned his left wrist by the door and it opened to his identification, sliding to the left. As the door opened he was smacked in the face with a pillow that someone seemed to be using as a projectile at that very moment. It hit his helmet and fell uselessly to the floor like a sack of potatoes. Silence filled the hallway as if an act of blasphemy just occurred, but he ignored it as he bent down and picked up the fluffy thing.
“Sir-” he heard the familiar voice of the young Cadet exclaim in shock as he moved into the half-used room.
“If you are planning on fighting rebel soldiers you are going to need more than a pillow,” he sighed as he tossed it back in the Cadet’s face. It smacked on target and then flopped limply to the man’s lap.
“S-sorry sir,” the clone muttered. The Commander rolled his eyes and took off his helmet, setting it gingerly down on the desk. The Cadet looked a bit confused as to what he was doing but he didn’t seem to want to ask.
“So, you’re my roommate. I was wondering who I was going to get stuck with.”
“Sir, thank you for allowing me to share rooms with you-“
“You were in the four-person room I am guessing?” he asked with a smirk. The Cadet quickly nodded his head in confirmation and the Captain let out a small laugh. “Yeah, I could only imagine living there. You were probably crammed. Here isn’t going to be much luxury either. Just to give you a fair warning, I read.“
“Uh, read?” the Cadet questioned, not sure why the Captain was warning him about a habit like that. He nodded his head and smirked as he examined the desk he was standing at a little bit. It was small, but he could picture long nights there.
“A lot,” he hummed as he tore his eyes from his desk and looked at the Cadet. His dark figure was stark contrast to the bright white walls around him. He still bore a rather nasty bruise around the rim of his nose from the fight and a couple scrapes but other than that he looked ready to fight, which brought the Captain to his next question.
“So, what were you throwing pillows for? Practicing your aim?” he asked as he flopped down on his bed and relaxed a little bit. The mattress was hard, but a lot softer than the ones he was used to up in space. The Cadet turned away, an obvious pout on his face as he didn’t want to answer. The clone might have been several years older than him, but he still seemed to act like a child.
“Is it about that fight earlier?”
“I didn’t say that!”
“You didn’t say no.”
“I didn’t say yes!”
“You’re showing all the signs of denial,” the Captain sang tauntingly.
“Maybe it’s cause you’re too short to see my expression, sir,” the Cadet retorted dumbly to a higher-ranking officer. The Commander quickly grabbed his own pillow from underneath his head and chucked it at the man’s head. It hit and fell to the Cadet’s lap uselessly on top of the other one.
“I am not short! I am only six!” he argued. There was a moment where they just angrily glared at each other but before long the Cadet rolled his eyes and slumped down on his bed pitifully. The Captain frowned as he watched the poor display and he slowly laid back down on his own bed.
“Why didn’t you fight back earlier?” the Commander asked gently cutting right to the chase.
“Did you see who I was up against, sir?! I couldn’t win against that monster!-”
“So you gave up-”
“It was a choice of getting beaten to a pulp or getting beaten out of existence if I fought,” he told him honestly. “Private Redd is a hot-headed idiot who doesn’t understand anything about orders but unfortunately I am not any good at fighting.”
“And running wasn’t an option because…” the Commander pressed, and he saw the Cadet grow a little red in the face and he turned away from him as if to hide it.
“I was born too tall. My legs did not develop right and now they lack the strength to run. It has made me a horrible coward. Good cowards at least run away,” the Cadet told him. “I can’t fight Redd, but if I had a blaster…”
“Nope, no shooting your coworkers,” ED-0001 laughed watching the man's false disappointment cross over his face. “How did you pass the academy if you can't run?” There was a moment of silence and the Cadet frowned.
“I.. I did not pass sir,” he admitted. “The Empire just needed more men sir, after the massacre on Ishval. They… didn't care. They just decided to stick me here and transfer someone else out in my place. Resembool is like the dump yard for the defective.”
“Defective?” the Commander asked, sitting up on the bed. The Cadet nodded his head numbly. “You are far from defective. You’re just different. In fact, anyone who thinks otherwise, they are defective.”
“And what do you know about it?” the Cadet retorted, sitting up himself to face him. He was determined to stay depressed. “You are perfectly fine. Probably passed all of your classes with top grades with a fitness score to match. This is probably your starting unit to get a little hands on experience in being a commanding officer before heading back out to a bigger and better place. Isn’t that right? So, what do you know about what it is like to be me?”
The Captain glared at his subordinate. The sound of the man’s bitter and damned words reverberated off of his ears and he didn’t let them in. There were many things he wanted to say to the Cadet but none of them were within a censored vocabulary. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth for a moment trying to plan what he was going to say in retort. He had to choose his words carefully. However, he came up with none. He had not one words to say to his subordinate. Instead he reached down and slowly pulled off his left boot.
The angered look in the Cadet’s face quickly changed to astonishment the more metal was revealed from beneath the armor. The cool silver metal spread down the Captain’s left foot, creating flexing digits and a solid leg. It was automail, a completely robotic prosthetic to replace what he never had, or rather what he had lost. He wiggled his toes for a second as he stretched, even though he could not feel it. The Captain hopped up off of his bed, his glare still firmly fixed on his subordinate.
“S-sir,” the Cadet tried to stumble but he stopped him before he could even begin.
“This is my unit now,” the Captain hissed at him, “So forget everything that anyone has ever told you before. It is impossible for anyone to be defective. Leave that for the droids.” Without wanting to wait around for any further argument, the Captain quickly slipped his boot back on and snatched his helmet from his desk. He dropped it over his head, before quickly making his exit. The door slid closed behind him and the Captain was out in an empty hallway of the outpost. He was standing tall with his chest puffed out but it only took a few seconds for the wind to get knocked out of him. He slumped his shoulders and rubbed the back of his neck tiredly making his whole six years of living feel like a lifetime. Yeah, the previous commander definitely left him a lot to clean up. He first needed to start on his soldiers.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
ED-0001 encourages the Cadet to become a leader.
A Different Type of Soldier
“Sir, if you don’t stop trying to find a nickname for me I will smother you in your sleep,” Cadet PT-3149 threatened.
“May the best man win, Patrick,” the Captain mocked lightly, just earning a light kick to the shins from his subordinate. He knew it would have been a rather gruesome glare, but it was hard to see facial expressions when your face was concealed behind a helmet. PT-3149 returned to his work and snipped a frayed wire on one of the harvesting droids. He was showing one of the Privates some simple mechanics so that they could get more people working on the damaged robots. It seemed that the Cadet had a secret talent for fixing machines that no one in the unit knew existed. He called it a hobby, but Imperial troops were not allowed to have hobbies.
The Captain caught sight of some movement and he looked up to see the farmer who owned the droid standing in the corner. The man was taut and watched them with cautious eyes as if they were vipers ready to strike. He was watching over them to make sure they didn’t sabotage his droid, but also to make sure that they didn’t shoot him in the back. The Captain felt that fear grow in himself as well.
After discovering the extents of the destruction in Liore after their unit’s latest harvest, he made up a rather large convoy to provide some aid. Nearly half of the buildings were destroyed in the fires and many of the farmer’s tools such as the droid were damaged. He didn’t question his soldiers about what really went down in the town. He frankly didn’t want to know. With the level of animosity there was between the citizens and their troops, it couldn’t have been good. The instant they stepped foot on the town’s soil they were already trying to be killed. Luckily, he was able to diffuse the situation before a fight broke out. If that happened, there might just be nothing left in Liore.
The Cadet stood up and allowed the Private to take over for him in finishing the job. The Captain motioned for him to follow and they quickly left the foundation of one of the few remaining houses in the village. The day was warm but not over blaringly hot which made the Captain grateful since he could only imagine running around in his armor in the desert. Across the town he saw figures of white armor racing around to help with anything that needed to get done. Large tactical tents were being set up in the fields for families whose houses no longer remained. The Captain had convinced the Supply Sergeant into lending him ten of them from the storage room. They were kept on hand for field training which they never did so he decided that they were going to be put to good use. Until the houses in the village were fully repaired, the homeless families would stay in them. They were very comfortable tents with solar heating for when the nights got chilly but they were no replacement for a house.
“Sir, did you get permission from higher up to do all of this?” the Cadet asked him nervously as they walked down the streets of Liore.
“Pfft. No,” the Captain chuckled at the Cadet’s simple question.
“B-But Captain!” he exclaimed, almost tripping over himself with the shock of his answer, “when General Greed finds out he’s going to decommission you for not following orders-“
“And what orders were those? To rape and plunder a defenseless village? I don’t think I remembered that being written in my files,” he replied sarcastically. “I am doing this because I want the General to find out. When he does, I am sure he will agree to changing up a few standards of operation.”
“You can’t change the General’s mind! You’re just going to get this entire company put under! We can’t tell a higher up how to do their job! They will kill you,” the Cadet argued. The Captain growled and grabbed the Cadet’s shoulder to stop him in his place. The street was busy, but wide, so there was space for their quiet conversation.
“You are going to be an officer in this unit so you need to learn how to act like one,” he said stiffly. “What do you see when you look at the people in this town?” The Cadet held his head like he was confused but the Captain motioned for him to look around the small village of Liore for a moment. The man took a small disinterested glance and then shrugged.
“Farmers, common folk, nothing to get killed over.”
“That’s where you will fail,” the Captain scolded him. “Our job is to feed the legion right? With food planted by these people. Without them we have no crop. We need to take care of our suppliers, or else they will stop supplying. If we keep ransacking the villages, the farmers will be less willing to give what they made. When that happens, there will be rebellion and the Rebel Alliance will win even if they aren’t here.”
“Who would ever side with those blood thirsty thugs?” the Cadet asked but that only made ED-0001 smirk.
“With what we did to this village, blood thirsty thugs doesn’t look like a bad option. If General Greed isn’t compelled by humanitarian efforts, he might like the idea of preventing rebellion.”
They continued their walk down the street and checked up on all of their platoon leaders who were in charge of different tasks. Everything seemed to be going as smoothly as it could be though the villager were still untrusting of them. With the progress they were making, the Captain imagined them to be finishing for the day within a few hours. Nearly all of the tents were set up and he saw some droids buzzing around the town again. Things were turning out well. However, as they started to near the fields where Desden was supposed to be discussing the next harvest, the Captain saw a rising commotion with one of the civilians. He recognized the man as the village leader. He was not one to cooperate with them, especially after everything their soldiers had done to them before. It was difficult for the Captain to talk his way through the fists the man tried to throw at him. Now it seemed there was more trouble stirring up at the scene.
“It won’t work! There is no way we can make two harvests! Even then I am sure that you are going to just steal that from us too! No matter how much we make, every year we starve!” the man yelled at his subordinate.
“Sir, I am sure that we can get our quota in without draining your food supply. It will have to be a quick season but the average crop grows-“
“These are all ifs! The frosts come early here and cut our season short. This won’t work-“
“Uh, excuse me, what’s the issue here?” the Captain asked, butting in gently. The leader turned to him, his face red and growing redder by the minute. He seemed to only yell for the sake of fighting them in any way he can. The man stepped forward, pushing Desden roughly out of the way just to get to him.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on! There is no way we can keep giving you food as we starve during the winter. This woman’s trying to make us do twice the work for two harvests which we don’t have enough time for! The frost comes too early. Then we would have no food and no seed.” The Captain looked at Desden who was standing there very unsoldier like with her arms crossed over her chest. She looked aggravated from having to argue with a thick skull for the better part of an hour. He motioned for her to step to the side for a minute so he could talk to her.
“Is this true?” he asked, knowing that while PT-3149 was a mechanic hobbyist, Desden liked botany. She knew agriculture like the back of her hand and as word of several soldiers in the unit, she was the only reason why they kept their harvested crop from rotting.
“I compiled harvesting plan for each village so that we know how much we need from each town to get our quota. There were often times where some villages were reaped dry while others were untouched. We would need the better part of a year’s harvest from every town leaving not much left to feed everyone else for the year. There could be a plan for the villages to pull in two harvests for us to get our quota and for them to have enough food, however there are too many variables to guaranteed that the crops would actually grow,” she told him, shaking her head in dismay. “But it’s the only thing we can try. There just isn’t enough time in one summer.”
The Captain frowned, and he closed his eyes in aggravated thought. He hated it that she was right. No matter what they did here, they still would be robbing a village of most of its food supply and sending them into starvation year after year. Looking at how thin the townspeople were, he knew that was already the case as well. However, as much as it looked like they couldn’t win, he didn’t want to accept failure. There was always a way. Like when the Empire was on its last limb of soldiers after the battle of the planet Ishval, the army dropped far below sustainable number. But they didn’t give up to the Rebel forces. More clones were made, like PT-3149 and they won the battle though the war was still raging. Crops were different than people but there still needed to be a way. They just needed more time. Or…. A thought occurred to as he slowly opened up his eyes and glanced down at his hands. Or they just needed to be faster. The Captain quickly spun around in his place and returned to the forgotten village leader.
“I have a solution. Give me one pound of seed for each type of crop you sow and I will give you three harvests a year,” he said.
“What? That’s impossible!” the man scolded him slowly like he was a child.
“You don’t need more time in a season, you just need the crops to grow faster. I will engineer the seeds to do that-“
“Impossible,” the Captain finished for him with a smirk. “No, it’s not. I am only six years old, yet I have grown a fair amount already.”
“You still look short to me,” the leader huffed. The Captain felt a sharp spike of anger fly through him as the man blatantly insulted him. He sucked in a silent breath to choke it down however. With everyone as on edge as they were, a heated argument would only end in guns.
“I am still growing, mind you,” the Captain hissed through his teeth as he relinquished his anger to the wind. “If I can grow this fast, I am sure I can make simple seeds grow faster.”
“I don’t want contaminated stunted seeds! I don’t know what you are planning, by doing all of this, but I want no part in your Imperial cloning voodoo. You can keep that stuff to yourself!”
“And everyone else in the village?” he asked him. The leader froze not really understanding his question. “By not accepting this proposition, are you willing for your entire village to starve when you already know your second harvest as is will fail? I am sure a pound of seed is no sacrifice for you to make.” The man’s face turned burnt red and he held his hands up in the air like he wanted to choke him, but the energy was in vain. There was an instant submission as the leader realized that it was his only option.
“Someone get this monster some seeds!” he called out to the gathering farmers before storming off to brood. The Captain was glad to see some farmers fetching a couple sacks for the seeds to go into. He turned around to consult his two subordinates just to find them staring at him. He believed that underneath their bulky helmets that their faces read dumbfounded.
“What?” he asked.
“Sir, how the hell are you going to clone seeds! We don’t know anything about it!” Desden cried. “You just walked everyone into a bloody corner.”
“I have a correction to make on that statement. You don’t know anything about cloning,” he retorted snidely. This comment got PT-3419’s attention.
“Wait…. You know how we were made?” he asked him, his voice was filled with disbelief. Though clones had their process encoded on their backs at all time, they themselves did not understand it and were not allowed to. The Empire did not give them any books or knowledge that wasn’t heavily regulated. ED-0001 knew he was a very large exception for that.
“Self-taught I guess you could say,” he waved off. “I know the basics. Any more information I need is on our backs. Once decoded I can create a process designed for plants with Sergeant Desden’s help. You know a lot about botany, Sergeant. I am going to need anything you can get on the crops that these farmers have been planting. Cadet you will help me make the growing environments for them.”
“This is so farfetched. It’s science fiction and you know it,” PT 3149 yelled at him. “How do we know it will work? How will we get it done in time?” That only made the Captain laugh as he rested his arm over the Cadet’s shoulder. He looked very pissed off that he was acting so casual to the crisis but made no move to brush him off.
“How very little you think of me,” he chuckled. “But since I will be spending nearly all of my time on this, I am going to need another officer to step up and help me run the unit. Cadet Peyton, we are going to make you lieutenant material. You can start by coordinating the convoy back to the base.”
“That’s not my name!” the man cried in aggravation as he then brushed his arm off of his shoulder. “I feel like you just love pushing your work off on me.”
“That’s only one benefit. The other is seeing you get your stripes. Come on we have a lot of work to do. I need to prepare for the completely unexpecting call from the General.”
“Let’s just hope its General Greed and not Lieutenant General Lust that finds out what you are up to.”
The Captain sat on his desk chair after their long day in Liore. He had plans to send more men out by platoons the following days to continue fixing the village but now they needed to rest. They did well and deserved to relax even for a few hours. The Captain got himself a nice steaming hot shower to ease his muscles and to help his body recline. He still felt the now cooling drops of water drip down his bare back to release the tension he held. It worked to all but his mind which was racing now more than ever. He could not stop thinking about his plans for the seeds and grew aggravated the more he realized that it would take time to develop them. If he could make them tomorrow he would to keep the villages from suffering another winter hungry but alas, he couldn’t. And he feared there never would if he didn’t come up with a convincing speech to tell the Generals why he took off with several of the units supplies, made an unauthorized visit to the local villages, and was planning returning trips of similar fashion. It wouldn’t take long for the logs to go up and reach their ears. The only thing he could do was to wait and plan for the storm to come flying in.
The pen in his hand tapped angrily against the journal that was laid open in front of him. The binding was old and worn. He had it since he was only two, and was filled with odd thoughts or constructs, few of which would help him in this newest pet project or any other situation he was currently stuck in.
“Sir,” the Cadet moaned as he turned over in his bed. He was trying to get his well earned sleep especially after the completely chaotic trip home. The Cadet needed practice planning a convoy or at least reading a map. They got lost three times on a route that they must have driven a million times over. It was only the tired groan in his voice that made the Captain look at his clock which read one in the morning. With an early wake up the next day he knew that he already was missing a lot of his sleep.
“Please, go to bed,” the man begged.
“I can’t,” the Captain sighed as he continued to tap his pen against his desk.
“You can’t get anything done tonight. You can start tomorrow with your code-“
“I will feel more comfortable if I had it written down tonight,” he hummed tiredly. His eyes were sore from staring down at the blank pages in his journal as if ink would suddenly appear there and give him a divine revelation. He rubbed them with exhaustion in every twitch of his muscle before he returned to tapping his pen on the table. There was a sudden screech of mattress springs and before the Captain knew it his notebook was being torn out from underneath him without anything of a warning. As he turned to try and rip it back out of his subordinate’s hands, he found that his pen also was missing within seconds of him taking his eyes off of it.
“Sir, you aren’t going to go to bed until you have something are you?” the Cadet asked more like a statement than a question. His voice was weary and deep. Looking at the bags beneath his subordinate’s eyes made him instantly regret staying up so late. However, even after the few weeks they roomed together, the Cadet knew him better than most people. He knew that he wasn’t going to rest without progress.
The Captain nodded his head tiredly but didn’t turn around, so the Cadet could sketch his burns. The scars from the coding burns ran all the way up from his low back to the nape of his neck. He didn’t know many of the details of what they looked like because he only had a few encounters with a mirror and not enough time to study them. The brands on a clone’s back were an intimate thing. Burning metal inscribed every little detail about what you are and how you are made into your skin. For another person to even look at the design that made them unique was a rather personal endeavor that the Captain didn’t think many appreciated. He himself was uncomfortable with another person looking at his back to intently. Sure, many people caught him at a glance when he was changing his shirt, but few people really inspected it. The ones that did were mostly those who had put it there to begin with and the memories of that event was something every clone was too willing to forget.
The Cadet was patiently waiting so that he could go to bed. The man was tired and the Captain knew it, but his hesitation was growing longer and he knew he would have to make up a decision. Whether he wanted to or not, he knew his project could not continue without his branding code. He had to get them and their every detail no matter what. However, when he was making this plan he didn’t think about what it would feel like to actually do it.
“Come on, Sir,” PT-3149 gently urged. “I need to go to bed.” With that, the Captain slowly turned around so that the Cadet could start sketching the horrible scars that marred his skin. The anxiety built up in him but the Captain choked it down. He sucked in a shaky breath and closed his eyes as he felt the Cadet’s hand gently brush his hair away from his back so that he could see. His eyes traced the lines on his skin as the pencil started to sketch them down into the notebook. The Captain didn’t like being analyzed even though he had wanted it done to begin with. He needed that information to continue with his project. He needed it better than his own hand could do. It seemed even PT-3419 was acknowledging the tense air in the room and after a few moments of hesitation tried to pick up a conversation.
“Sir, are you alright-“
“Y-yeah, I just don’t like being reminded of the…. Yah know-“
“The alimentation procedures? Yeah, I don’t like remembering them either,” the Cadet mumbled. “Too many needles.”
“Too many men in lab coats,” the Captain concluded with a small smile on his face as he realized that his roommate was able to make the cloning process seem such a silly thing to fear. He heard the scratching of the pencil continue and silence filled the gaps in the room once more. ED-0001 crossed his arms against the back of his chair and nestled his head down into them tiredly. He took a deep breath in to soothe his firing nerves and smelt the soap he had used in the shower not an hour ago. He sighed as he closed his eyes, wishing that the Cadet would hurry up. Sensing his anxiety, PT3149 continued to keep conversation together to distract him. The Captain was grateful for his efforts.
“Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Don’t call me Sir, Penelope. We are roommates for heaven’s sake. If I must hear formalities all day and night my ears will fall off,” the Captain sighed, hoping that light hearted fun would get his mind to a better place. It didn’t, but helped a little.
“I will keep calling you, Sir, until I know your name,” the Cadet retorted making the Captain frown. “With all of the time you spend trying to give me a name, why don’t you have your own?”
“I do have one, but I do not use it,” he muttered, as he turned his eyes down to the floor. There was a pause as the Cadet waited him to continue but he didn’t. He hadn’t thought about his name in years. It wasn’t an easy conversation and like his scars, it was one he would rather keep to himself. But his roommate was relentless.
“What is it? You can’t have a name and not tell me. Is it bad? Is it Egor or something?”
“Then why have a name if you don’t use it?” his subordinate asked along with a small command for him to straighten his back. The scratching of the pen on paper continued even as the Cadet argued with him. The Captain sighed and straightened his back, feeling all of the vertebrae tighten in it. He turned his head and looked over his shoulder to where his subordinate was standing in his black under armor the soldiers used to sleep in. The tall clone was staring with full focus on his back to make the careful sketch of his scars. Even with his attention on his work, the Captain knew that he was listening full heartedly into the conversation. He understood what he was going to say and would not take it lightly. He had only been roommates with the Cadet for a few days, but even then, he knew that they were going to be great friends. He would possibly be the first friend that he ever had.
“There is a difference between being completely nameless and just choosing to be,” the Captain told his subordinate slowly. His words were heavy, and the Cadet’s dark eyes flickered up to him for only a short second before returning to his work. “Having a name gives someone an identity, unique to themselves. Even if you don’t use it, it is better to have one so you know who you are. You need a name, PT-3149,” the Captain continued softly as his voice faded to a whisper. Though his words were heavy, they weren’t loud. The weight they carried was enough to carry the point across. He was searching for a name to give the Cadet individuality. He didn’t want him imagining that the only thing he was worth was an expendable soldier in the Empire. They were much more than that, though PT-3149 seemed to have forgotten that fact.
He heard the pen stop for a second and he knew that the Cadet was going to ask why he didn’t use his own name if identity was so important to him. The Captain hadn’t told anyone his name or who had given it to him since he had left for the safety of the Empire’s mother ship for the chaotic mess of the Clone Troops. It was a safe secret between him and one other person who probably forgotten he existed at all. That person was there since the beginning, and understood him far better than anyone else in the universe, even before he was branded. They trained together, lived together, they did everything together until the one fateful day ED-0001 messed up. Now he was millions of miles away on a forgetful planet farming crop for the rest of his life.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” the Captain interrupted the Cadet as he went to ask the question he knew he would. The man instantly closed his mouth instantly as to not look like a gaping idiot. The scratching of the pen picked back up without second thought. “My name was given to me by someone very special. He is the only one that knows it. I would like to keep it that way. We have been apart for so long though, I don’t know if he even remembers me,” he chuckled like it was a joke. It wasn’t. And the Cadet didn’t laugh. Silence filled the room once more and the scratching of the pencil soon halted, and the Captain found his journal returned to him. He looked down to see that the page had a perfect sketch of his back on it. The writing was clear and each line was drawn with the precision of an architect. The Captain smiled back at his subordinate just to find that he had sneaked back off to his bed without a word. His long legs were curled up on the mattress and his tall form was scrunched up into a tiny ball just to fit. Though he appeared to be uncomfortable, he was already fast asleep.
The Captain frowned as he glanced back down to his journal. He glanced down to the bottom of the page where there was a scratchy signature similar to what an artist would put on the bottom of a painting or an architect on the bottom of blueprints. He saw the sharp letters and read them closely, memorizing the name of the man who had made the small piece of work in his journal. Pitt. The Captain grinned and gently closed his book and placed it back on the shelf above his desk. It appeared that his PT-3149 had found his name.
Chapter 3: The Greedy General
Clones are not allowed to have families, but it is the only thing Captain ED-0001 really wants
A Different Type of Soldier
The Greedy General
“Sir! Sir! A call is coming in from higher up for you,” Private BX-5757 called out to him. The soldier’s poofy brown hair poked out from the old clunky headset he was wearing, his helmet on the desk forgotten. Most units have radios that connect to the intercom built into their armor. Their system was so old that BX-5757, also known as Bixby, had to wear an ancient set of headphones instead of his helmet. He was luckily able to update the radio systems with the help of Cadet Pitt so that it could send messages to the personal radios they had in the left forearm plating of their armor, but it still needed dinosar speaker and headphones to actually input the messages from base. The poor Private longed for the day he could just wear his helmet and use the radio hub.
“Who is it?” the Captain asked as he set down his notebook. He was relaxing in the unit’s offices trying to crack the code of his brandings and having little success. But with it being only the second day staring at the pages of his journal, little success was better than none.
Bixby’s face looked nervous, or at least scared and the Captain understood that it was someone important. He could give one solid guess as to who it was.
“I-It’s the General! General Greed! He wants to talk to you now,” Bixby whispered as if he thought that speaking the General’s name any louder would get him killed. If it was in the wrong context, it probably would. Edward closed his notebook and threw it down to his chair as he quickly stood up and walked over to the hologram communication system to receive the call. He snapped to Bixby to patch the General in, all the while he quickly tried to come up with something to tell Greed why he was using the Empire’s resources on unauthorized missions into the planet’s villages. He needed to make it convincing. After a few minutes of Bixby plugging in a few dusty wires and giving a rough kick to the hologram machine, it rattled to life. A picture of the General relaxing in a rather comfortable looking chair flickered onto the platform in a pale blue light. Spikey jet-black hair stood on end as mischievous purple eyes analyzed his new Green Lion commander. Edward was glad he was wearing his helmet or else the General would have seen his dumbfounded expression at seeing the commander of the Avarice Battalion lounging with his feet propped up like he was a disobedient teenager waiting to be amused. The Captain quickly fumbled for a salute as he got over his initial shock of seeing such a powerful man in front of him.
“Captain ED-0001 of Green Lion Company reporting, sir,” he said, his voice not betraying how much his nerves felt like they were twisting into knots. Instead of returning the gesture, the General just gave a halfhearted wave as he straightened himself out on his throne.
“I don’t want chit chat, all I want are answers,” the man’s deep voice mused with a sharp grin. “Are you taking unauthorized trips into Liore or does your Supply Sergeant simply have the wrong numbers?”
“Yes, sir, I have sent three convoys into the village and plan for more later in the week,” Edward confirmed as he knew full well denying it would get him nowhere.
“More?” the General asked, his eyes widening in shock. “Why might I ask are you giving civilians all of my precious belongings? The Empire, specifically me, has paid good money to get these resources and all you are doing is giving them away. Charity is not my forte.”
“Sir, after the last harvest the village was left ransacked and desolated. I sent out aid to help repair their houses and droids-“
“With our supplies?”
“Yes, sir.” The General grimaced and bit the inside of his cheek in distaste. He shifted around uncomfortably in his chair and the Captain prepared himself for the scolding he was sure to get but it never came. The General opened his mouth and closed it in frustration. It seemed his anger was beyond words.
“Captain whatever your number was. I hope you realize, I love clones. In fact, I love minions. They have a power of obedience that gets me what I want, and that is everything. You though… don’t have that,” he said hesitantly, his voice was calm but there was a burning fire behind it that someone would be a fool to have crossed. It seemed that the Captain was that fool. “If you are not obedient, if you do not follow orders, then what are you to me?” The Captain frowned, and he stood a little straighter to give his answer.
“If you want mindless followers, General, droids seem more your suit. Clones were made to think creatively in battle in a way that droids could not. We obey orders differently. My mission here was to get you food for the legion. Nowhere was I given the order to rape civilians and plunder villages for amusement. The farmers cannot tend their crop if their minds are preoccupied with rebuilding their town, and then we would be low on our quota and you would not get what you want at all,” the Captain retorted stiffly. He waited for the General to reprimand him but nothing was said. After a few seconds, he decided to continue with his explanation, hoping to make the General understand why he did what he did. “There have been known cases of Rebel sympathizers in the town. If the Empire keeps destroying these peoples’ property and sending them into starvation every year, there could possibly be an uprising. Just visiting the village, we have had a few civilians attack us already. If we don’t restore the bonds with the civilians, we won’t have farmers willing to work for us. Then you would be wasting even more resources teaching your soldiers how to farm.” Silence continued after he finished and General Greed shifted once more into his chair, resting his chin tiredly on his hands. His eyes flickered as they studied him and the Captain realized that he was observing him more than paying attention to the story he was telling. A strike of strange curiosity seemed to overtake the General and he motioned towards him with a hand.
“Take off your helmet for a second,” he ordered simply. The Captain was taken back at how easy the order was. He reached up and gently removed his helmet from his head, obeying the commands of his superior officer. The instant his helmet was removed the General completely changed demeanor. A greedy smile spread across his face as his eyes sparkled mischievously. It was as if the General had won the lottery, and the Captain was his ticket made of gold. ED-0001 wanted nothing more than at that moment than to tell Bixby to turn off the communication system. However, he didn’t run and stood his ground. The General let out a gleeful chuckle and clapped his hands excitedly as he stood up from his chair.
“Yes! Yes! Wonderful. You are completely right. Completely right!” the man howled. It appeared that he was going insane. The man reached into his pocket and took out a cigarette, quickly lighting it. The Captain wondered where he even got it since Imperial soldiers weren’t allowed drugs or alcohol of any kind. He guessed rules didn’t apply to higher command. Even with the thing in between his lips, he still wore a devilish grin though the effects of the smoke seemed to calm his estranged outburst. “You are right. You are exactly what I need right now,” he breathed out, a pillar of smoke was not caught on the hologram but the Captain could have imagined it there. “Continue what you are doing. I will give you whatever you need if you give me whatever I need. I will be coming down to that puny planet within the month to discuss this further.”
“C-coming down, sir?” ED-0001 stumbled and the General simply winked at him since his helmet could no longer hide the look of shock that spread across his face.
“Just me myself and I. Is there anything you need until that time? Any other ingenious plans I should know about?” he asked as he snapped to someone outside the range of the hologram and in a second he was handed a small notebook. He scribbled something down like a memo and then tossed it carelessly behind him. He waited for an answer, but the Captain didn’t know if he could ask it of the General then and there. He needed to tell him about his plan on cloning the seeds, but clones were not supposed to know the information on how they were made. The only thing they were supposed to know was how to shoot and do their jobs. However, he needed the resources to make the cloning process go as planned, something more than a supply outpost could manage. He hoped that the General could have given him incite to it.
“Uh, sir, there is just one thing,” he said as he quickly ran back to one of the office chairs and picked up his journal where he left it. He flipped it open to the page with Pitt’s sketch on it and hesitated, wondering if this was beyond the General’s selfish generosity. Would showing his work get him killed for knowing too much? Would it get him reprogrammed? He sucked in a huge breath and bent down towards the hologram intake and pointed the sketches towards the machine. The General saw them on his side and his eyes went wide almost instantly. He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth which hung wide open in the first expression of shock the Captain had seen from the man.
“We definitely got a smart one here,” the General mused making the Captain even more unsure of the consequences of his actions than before. “I am coming down within the month,” the General simply repeated himself. “This trip better be worth it.” He gave a lazy wave before the hologram communication shut off. There were a few seconds of silence where the machines clattered off and started to cool down. The Captain continued to stare to where the General used to be sitting, and tried to organize his jumbled up mess of thoughts. Confusion was the most prominent emotion he felt, but the second was relief. After a few seconds, the Captain let out a huge breath of air and nearly collapsed in the chair behind him as his legs gave out on him.
“Sir!” Bixby exclaimed as he saw him hit the chair. He got up to run over to him but forgot to take his wired headphones off. The communications systems were taunted with the sharp tug of the wires but it was Bixby that gave. He fell flat on his back after just getting up from his chair. The pit of worry that was had settled in the Captain’s stomach got up and fluttered away as he saw his subordinate stumble around with the mess of wires. He let out a howling laugh that eased the tension from his shoulders and shattered Bixby’s concern for him. Though the Private’s pride was crushed, he soon joined in the laughter after their nerve wracking encounter with the General.
“Holy shit, holy shit,” the Captain breathed as he ran his hands through his hair. The remnants of a few lingering giggles was still on his lips and he let out another chuckle to ease his raveled nerves. “I thought we were dead for sure. I can’t believe he accepted it-“
“Sir, he could still change his mind. He’s coming here of all places-“
“That means we just need to get it ready for him, that, and this little book,” the Captain motioned towards his hand where his journal was held tightly. “If I am going to give him something substantial, I need to break this code fast. Bixby,” he said as he haphazardly pushed himself up from the chair where he collapsed. Bixby jumped to his feet as he was addressed. He stood straight and tall thought he looked like a mess. The headphones laid skewed on his head and his curly mop of hair was tossled underneath. It looked like someone had thrown him into the hurricane. “I need you to tell everyone that the General is coming. We need this place looking spotless as ever.”
“Yes, sir!” the Private replied as he quickly ran towards the office door, yet again forgetting that the headphones were connected to a rather solid piece of machinery. The Captain rolled his eyes as he walked over to where his subordinate was currently trying to get up off of the floor from his latest battle with the radio.
“I need to tell you two things before you run off,” he sighed as he looked down at the Private. “One, don’t call me sir. Two, please for god sake don’t break the only radio we got.” Bixby mumbled another yes sir against his orders as he sprinted out of the offices to tell everyone else the news that they had just learned. The Captain shook his head, a smile still sprawled across it as he picked up the battered headphones and set them back on the communications desk for Bixby to forget about later. He picked up his own helmet and tucked his hair up into it as he placed it back over his head. If the General really was coming, he had a lot of things to do to get the unit back into working shape and not a lot of time to do it. But most importantly, he needed to figure out the brandings on their back before anything else. He did not want to see the General disappointed. It would not end well for anyone.
The Captain watched all of his subordinates run around the base either doing last minute clean ups or finding places to hide from the arriving General. Lower ranking soldiers never liked confrontations with officers, especially those in high command. He kind of wished that he could join them in their hiding but he had to go outside and meet the General when his ship arrived. He had his journal tucked tightly in his iron grip as if he was afraid to lose it. Everything he needed was in there, but for some reason even that didn’t seem like enough. All he wanted to do was run away, but he was already neck deep in the mess he made for himself and the water was quickly rising. If he didn’t get the General on board with his plans, he might as well drown.
The day was bright and sunny but it was dead. There was not a gust of wind to be seen which made it hotter than the depths of hell. The Captain had grown accustomed to the heat very quickly and it didn’t mind him as much even though he still always yearned for the more beautiful days where the air was cooler and the planet seemed only a bit more alive. He walked out onto the baking black tarred surface of the landing strip to await the incoming vessel. His feet felt almost like they would melt to the ground before he even caught sight of the ship. But luckily for his feet he heard Bixby come in through the radio speakers in his head set.
“Captain ED-0001, this is BX-5757. A ship is approaching from the northside. They will be here in less than a minute, over,” the staticky voice of the Private came through. The Captain lifted his left wrist where the radio system was imbedded in his armor and spoke into it.
“BX-5757, this is Captain ED-0001, read you loud and clear, over,” he replied before turning his head to the north as a sudden soft wind picked up. A large black metal ship approached the landing pad before he knew it. The wind the Captain was feeling was coming from the turbines of the sleek luxury ship and had grown to new strengths nearly sending him off of his feet. He planted them into the earth and tucked his journal tight to his chest to make sure it or its contents did not fly off into nowhere. Otherwise he did not budge as the vessel came to a complete stop and he heard the whine of the engines wind down.
The door of the ship opened with a short and steep ramp descending from it. At first, the Captain could only see the feet of the ship’s occupants as they walked down the ramp as the large wing of the craft was blocking most of his view. However, when the General rounded it and came into sight, the Captain was very much taken back. Seeing General Greed in person was nothing like how he would imagine it to be. Not even seeing him over the hologram communications was enough to give him a good idea of what to expect. Whatever the Captain had been thinking, the General did not live up to it in more ways than one. ED-0001 had always assumed that a high-ranking officer would walk tall, proud, and be nearly as stiff and intimidating as everyone feared they were. He had seen enough low-ranking officers act like that and it was enough to both make him afraid and rather annoyed with their privileged arrogance. The General, however, did not. He strolled across the pavement with slouched shoulders and an unamused grimace on his face. The long black clothes that were draped off of him held not a sign of rank or alignment to them. He swayed almost in a saunter as if he didn’t have a care in the world. The only thing that struck the Captain as anything commanding was the rather vicious look in his purple eyes. Though the General in all other aspects did not appear as cruel as a man that some people made him to be, the Captain would have been a fool to cross the man in any way. The gleam in his eyes told him that the General could tear him apart in seconds himself, and that his body guards that were with him were just for clean up duty.
With his nerves on fire and a trembling fear in his throat, the Captain raised his shaking arm up into a salute as the General approached him.
“C-Captain ED-0001, reporting sir-“
“Do you like being called sir?” the General asked him without returning the gesture. He wore an amused grin as if the Captain was only there for his entertainment. ED-0001 dropped his salute hesitantly and was very unnerved.
“Uh… no, not really-“
“Me neither. Call me Greed,” he said nonchalantly as he continued towards the command center without even waiting for his lead. “Do you have a nickname? I heard that was a thing amongst you Clone people. The numbers always get jumbled in my head.”
“Y-yes.” After a second of no other answer, the General stopped in his tracks and looked down at him. He raised his eyebrow curiously and eyed him for a few seconds.
“And?” he asked impatiently.
“I don’t use it.” Greed looked up to the sky as if that would give him some way to rationalize his odd answer but eventually shrugged his shoulders in acceptance.
“Very well. I’ll just call you Blondie until we figure it out,” he hummed before continuing his walk towards the base. “I have many questions to ask you and many answers that still need to be given. Action will be decided after I receive them. Until then, do you have a quiet place for us to talk?”
“Cadet PT-3149 has cleared out a conference room for us to use. It should have enough-“
“I am talking about something a little… let’s say… isolated. I don’t like to put on shows for other people. Especially not your tiny unit.” The Captain suddenly found the General’s arm slung around his shoulder. He was pull roughly into the General’s side a little too close for comfort. To some it might look like they were best friends on a stroll. For him, he was nearly choking and the only thing he could smell was the faint layer of cigarette smoke that hung to the man’s clothes. The General leaned very close to him, but didn’t look at him in the eye as they continued to walk towards their destination.
“I don’t think reading your little diary in public would be a very good idea. If too many people over hear, it wouldn’t be much of a secret diary anymore. Clones take orders, and you might not always be the ones giving them.” Greed whispered stiffly in such a way that ED-0001 knew that if he continued to ask questions, the next thing that would come out of his mouth was a threat. The Captain narrowed his eyes and stopped in his tracks. He pulled himself out of the General’s rough grasp and took a few steps back from him. Greed looked nothing but surprised.
“Sir, I don’t know if you really understand this. My unit isn’t the most ideal, but I would appreciate it if you don’t insult them. They know their chain of command and that starts with me and me only. You are the commander of the battalion, and whoever else is the commander of everything else above that. But my company is mine, and they know it. I am first in the chain and they come to me no matter who has their ears.” The General looked taken back. It seemed that no one talked to him like that before. The Captain stood his ground and waited for Greed to make up his mind on what to say in retort to his snide comment. A look of anger spread for his disrespect however the only thing that came out of his mouth was an outrageous fit of laughter.
“Damn kid. I love your guts. Whatever you want, fine. But, there are a few things I need to talk about that are… let’s say, very personal. Don’t get mad at me when your unit starts asking questions you don’t want to answer. Now let’s get inside before my insides melt out.” The Captain lead the General inside. He was rather relieved to be out of the heat and in the air-conditioned base. He could almost hear the sizzling of his armor as it cooled down from its baking outside. However, with every step he took, he felt like it was another step towards the end. He didn’t know if it was a good thing, or a bad one. All the privates that were unfortunate enough to be caught outside called attention to the base and stood stiff at attention for the parade of officers walking through.
They eventually made it to the conference room that was set aside for them. The door opened and the Captain saw Cadet Pitt standing there waiting for them. He could not read his expression underneath his helmet, but he knew that the man was nervous. He was scared of the idea of the General coming to the small planet since day one. He was rightfully afraid of backlash from going against the General’s orders. However, against it all he stood firm and unmoving. The Captain was glad to have him by his side. The Cadet smoothly followed into a salute for the General.
“General Greed, sir! I am Cadet PT-3149 at your service. The room has been fully searched for bugs and all surveying equipment has been turned off. This area is secured,” he said stiffly. Greed’s eyes widened in amazement as he looked over and around to find any sign of what the soldier had previously listed. The Captain smirked at the General’s surprise.
“We assumed that the reason you were coming down to Resembool for anything was because you wanted some discretion. No one in their right mind would go to the middle of nowhere for anything else. I had the Cadet prepare everything for you,” the Captain noted. He gave an accepting nod towards Pitt who lowered his salute and quickly made his way to his post in the corner. The Captain noticed that the General’s guards did as well, though they posted just outside the door. Greed gave a warry eye towards the Cadet but said nothing about his presence nor the work he did for them. The Captain assumed that his pride would have been severed if he admitted he did not expect any of these precautions from them. Instead, Greed dropped himself tiredly in the closest chair and motioned towards the one next to him. He was getting straight to business. The Captain took the chair and rifled through his notebook towards the most recent pages. They were covered in chicken scratch of which most people could not comprehend. The General did not even sit up in his chair to glance at it. Greed looked very interested in what it had to say though he made no move to actually read it. The Captain supposed he would have to brief the General on what he had figured out.
“So, what is this magical plan you came up with that will triple our crop and stop rebellion all at once? You really sold it to me over the other day, now what am I really buying?” Greed asked.
“Uh, Okay,” the Captain replied shakily as he tried to gather his nerves together. He knew his work like the back of his hand. He had reviewed it a million times just for this moment. But, now that it was here, his words were caught in his throat. “I was able to design a cloning program for the crop the farmers in the villages regularly sow by decoding the brandings of several of my soldiers to get a consensus on the general cloning process. Making a human is rather complex but with Sergeant DD-9999’s knowledge and skill with plants I was able to suggest a simplified method for cloning seeds. The cloned seeds would take about a month to prepare given that we have all of the appropriate equipment and resources before hand. Depending on how much we alter the seeds it could reduce their growing time by half which would give the farmers in the villages at least three harvests in a year, possibly some more. That would provide enough food for the legion and keep the villages well fed through the year. Any extra food could be sold for money to pay for the village’s expenses and necessities.”
“And how did you get this information?” Greed interrogated coolly. The Captain closed his mouth and took a quick glance at his subordinate.
“Wh-what?” he stuttered after swallowed a lump in his throat. The General’s cold and calculating eyes tightened with his question. It seemed though the idea of the seeds was very compelling to the General, the process of making them was not something he would rather mess with especially if it was something that they weren’t supposed to know in the first place.
“Clones don’t know about this process or even the codes for it. How did you learn all of this? Did someone tell you?”
“N-no. I remembered the basics of cloning from my own development and put the pieces together to figure out the-“
“You know how you were born?” Greed questioned him. The Captain faltered slightly as he wondered why it was such a hard concept to understand.
“Uh, yeah, I thought-“
“You aren’t supposed to know any of this and the basics take a long time for even those studying it to understand. You could not have woken up one day and just know it from watching people buzz around you. Who told you?” Greed scolded him.
“No one!” The Captain defended himself. “I just figured it out! That’s the truth!” Greed frowned and bit the inside of his cheek. He crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair tiredly. It seemed like his mind was running a mile a minute, but the Captain did not know about what. It seemed that the man was trying to make sure that their project was as secret as it could be. Having no informant for the cloning process made it even more secure than anyone could hope for. However, the General looked worried.
“Did you notice anything different in your process than anyone elses?” Greed asked him, his voice quiet like the topic itself was a taboo. That question caught the Captain off guard.
“What do you mean?” he asked, thinking that he didn’t hear the man right. Greed let out an exasperated sigh and straightened himself out in his chair.
“Did you notice anything different?” he repeated, emphasizing each word. “If you analyzed your own process, was there something that didn’t line up? Extra processing, extra maintenance, extra training? Did your patterns fit in with the other collection?” The Captain frowned and looked down as he thought about it. It occurred to him that it was true. His were different. He had pulled cloning procedures from clones from different series. Each one of them had some alteration to the process that made them slightly different than each other but other than that they were the same basic procedure. His though, were not. He had originally thought it was a coincidence. Maybe he was the only one in the unit with his alterations. Afterall, he was the first one in his series to have been made and the only one in his entire batch to survive the process. He wasn’t a dime a dozen model. But now that the General was questioning him about it, he really did find it odd.
“Yeah, I did,” He muttered. “My code is ED-0001 for Experimental Design. They had prioritized the creation of mind over matter in my pod stage so when I was born my muscles were not fully developed like they should have been. They had to enhance their growth later through electrical stimulation. But I didn’t use that in the seeds. I followed regular procedure and-”
“We are not talking about the seeds anymore. I am all for those now. You really sold the idea to me and I will fully fund them. But now, we are talking about you,” the General said strictly. “The Empire experiments on clones all of the time so that doesn’t surprise me. However what does surprise me is how similar you look to our Supreme leader. Was there anything different in, well, lets say, the code for the gene donor?”
“There wasn’t a code given,” the Captain answered. “They just mention adding the genetic material not who it was from.”
“Interesting,” the General said sarcastically, obviously asking for more information than Edward was giving.
“There was no code given, but the Supreme Leader always had a direct hand in my development and training as well as my brother’s. -“
“Brother’s?” the General snapped and the Captain knew he had said something wrong. “I didn’t know you were authorized a family, Blondie. If every clone had a brother they would have a thousand.”
“I only have him,” he frowned, “AL-0002 was the other experiment done within hours of mine. He was also the only survivor of his procedure but we both have the same genetic donor as many of the scientists liked to point out. We were the only ones.”
“And what did this AL person do for you? Huh? Why the hell do you think he is your brother?” the General growled at him. “The only thing you share is DNA and that is a shit requirement for family. A clone like you doesn’t have a family. I don’t even know why you would want one. The only person you have is yourself. That is the only person you can ever be worthy of.”
Greed slouched back in his seat and crossed his arms angrily while the Captain took the blade of his harsh words to his heart. It got incredibly lonely being a clone in the Imperial Army. They were born without a reason, they were disregarded as scrap and an expendable force. They were simply copies with no individuality, and no family. The Captain thought he had all of that once before it was ripped out from underneath him. He got to taste what it was like to have someone who considered him important, who called him family. It was a basic need every human should have. Now, he had nothing, and the General was mocking him for dreaming.
The Captain opened his mouth to defend himself and his brother but he found himself wordless and closed it immediately. As much as he wanted to believe he had a brother, the General was right. He didn’t know what a family was supposed to be outside of DNA relations. He didn’t know what it was and so he didn’t deserve to have a family. Seeing that he was accepting his words the General sighed and scratched the back of his neck.
“Blondie, it’s nothing against you but if someone else were to hear you say this nonsense you will no longer be a Commander of a company. You will probably be dead. So keep it to yourself. We have more important issues at hand-“
“About my cloning process?”
“Yeah,” the General hummed to himself in thought. The Captain could only guess what was important enough about his life to ponder about. He was clueless to the direction of this conversation, nor its importance. He had grown up differently than other clones. He had been through more thorough schooling and weapons training directly under the supervision of the Supreme Leader himself, but wasn’t that to be expected from an experimental clone? The General was asking a lot of questions about his originator. The Captain had always assumed that the Supreme Leader himself had donated his and AL-0002’s DNA. Their appearances were too identical to be a coincidence and he doubted that the Supreme Leader would waste time on someone else’s clone. But DNA meant nothing aside from what color someone’s hair was. There was no reason for the General to be so obsessed with his cloning process.
After a few minutes of silence, the General stood up without a word and snapped his fingers, to alert his guards. The two soldiers opened the door and entered stiffly on their command.
“Blondie, continue your little science project here. If I have anymore questions for you, I will be down to ask them-“
“But what about my cloning process? Why do you want to know so much about it?” the Captain pushed, wanting to know what the General was thinking. A crude smirk grew on the man’s face as he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and stuffed one in his mouth. The guard to his right leaned over immediately and lit it for him without question.
“What do you know about the Emperor?” he asked calmly.
“Nothing more than what I need to.”
“Textbook answers will only get you so far, kid,” Greed grinned. He released a puff of his cigarette and stuck it back in his mouth for thought. “Your originator is an incredibly powerful person, Captain. I don’t doubt that you are quite similar to him, even if you don’t realize it yet-“
“The Supreme Leader?” he asked but the General out let out a breathy laugh and shook his head as if he had just given the dumbest answer in the book.
“Whatever you suppose,” he chuckled. “However, with a lot of power like that I wouldn’t go wasting your time on family and friends. At least until you know you can protect them.” The General gave one wave to him and another to Cadet PT-3149 in the corner before seeing himself out. Captain ED-0001 escorted him to the door and watched the man’s ship exit the planet’s atmosphere, the questions still spinning in his head. He had hoped to find answers in his talk with the General. Now, he felt even more lost and alone than before.
Captain ED-0001 laid on his bed staring at the blank pages of his journal absent mindedly. He had told his subordinates that he would be working on the seeds that evening as was the General’s orders and had locked himself in his room since then. However, it was more of an excuse to get away from everything for a while. His talk with the General was spinning circles in his brain and he had not even touched a single page of his notebook that evening. He couldn’t think of the cloning process. Not now. Not after the interrogation. He could not stop remembering the man’s warning.
The door to the room opened quietly with a hiss and Pitt walked in. It was late, very late, but the Cadet had some paperwork to finish up before the night was over. There was light shuffling in the room as Pitt readied himself for bed, taking his time to remove his armor and get washed up. The Captain tried to make himself look preoccupied in his work instead of worried over his wandering thoughts. Unfortunately, growing up with a helmet masking your facial expressions made it a bit difficult to cover them up with out it. The trouble on his face was as easy to read as a children’s book.
“So, you have a brother, sir?” he asked softly, jumping right to the point. After witnessing the conference with the General himself, it seemed he had a lot of questions of his own that he wanted answered. However, for the few days that Pitt had known him, he had figured out that small talk got him nowhere with the Commander.
“Apparently not,” the Captain grumbled heavily.
“The General is right though, relationships of any kind are not allowed in the military. We aren’t allowed to have a family at all-“
“Then what’s the fucking point then, Pitt?” he retorted angrily. “What’s the fucking point of being human if they just want us to mull about like droids? We are born with nothing, Pitt. Nothing! We don’t belong anywhere, we just phase in and out from one job to the next. It’s all fine to help the Empire reach peace but what’s the point of living if we can’t live?”
“And how would a family help with that, sir? You can’t own a family, you can’t even take it with you when you change duty stations. It’s a dangerous thing to think about for nothing.”
“You don’t get it do you?” the Captain asked his subordinate softly. He was disappointed that the older clone could not even see reasoning behind something so simple and natural. “Having a family would give me a place to call home. Alphonse was that but now…,” he sighed and dropped his head into his hands, “I don’t know anymore.” There was a length of silence that stretched through the room. It was unwelcomed by both parties but they were each too unsure of how to end it. The Captain resented talking about his brother at all. He should have left it out of the conversation with the General but it was now too late to take it back. Pitt wanted to know who exactly his commander was and ED-0001 was now too tired to deny him an answer.
The Captain sighed tiredly and moved over, motioning for his subordinate to sit on the edge of the bed next to him. The tall man collapsed down next to him, his long legs touching the floor from the height of the bed while the Captains barely even reached. They sat in silence for a few more seconds until he gathered the courage to begin his story. The issue was, his story didn’t have much of a happy beginning nor ending. There was no ‘good’ place to start.
“As you heard in the meeting, I am a clone of the Emperor. I didn’t tell anyone because it doesn’t mean anything. I am still human and I still made stupid mistakes which have taken everything away from me. The General was right, DNA means shit aside from what you look like and who you come from,” he muttered. Pitt kept quiet, not saying a word, so he continued.
“I am an Experimental Design clone, the only one to have survived the growing pods as well as the Alimentation procedures. I was created as an experiment to put mind over matter. Instead of making a physically strong soldier they wanted to make a smart one, but I was born with too weak muscles and they had to be electrically stimulated after I left the growing pod.”
“Did it hurt, sir?” Pitt asked dumbly.
“I would expect putting electricity through one’s body to be painful,” he replied sarcastically. “It hurt so fucking bad. Luckily Alphonse didn’t have to go through that. He was a normal design of a clone. AL-0002 or Actual Lineage. Somehow something had to go wrong though because he was also the only survivor in his series. So, from day one, we only had each other to rely on growing up. It was the two of us.
“The Supreme Leader supervised our training and growth himself. He always had a hand in anything we did. He wanted to make us the best. We were trained to be proficient in every weapon and studied strategies and histories developed by any nation. We would spar each other all the time and stay up late studying mountains of texts. It was hard training but we always made the best of it.
“One day though, when we were sparring, the Emperor handed us real weapons. Light sabers and told us to fight until he said to stop. But I couldn’t fight my brother. I couldn’t hurt him. At first he denied as well but suddenly he just went berzerk and…,” the Captain paused, finding it hard to continue past the lump in his throat. He turned away and stared down to where his feet were dangling off the edge of the bed. Behind armor they would not look any different but now in only his under armor, the metal was plain as day. Pitt stared down at the mismatched limbs and gasped as he had connected the dots.
“Your leg,” he breathed and the Captain nodded his head. He was grateful that Pitt had figured it out. If not, the Captain didn’t know if he would be able to find the words to say it aloud. “But… But it had to be an accident, right?” he asked desperately. “Training accidents happen all the time.” Pitt was feeling only an ounce of what the Captain was, and sadly he sympathized with his subordinate. The past was a hard pill to swallow and ED-0001 still hadn’t managed to take his yet.
“I don’t think he wanted to do it. He was crying the whole time and apologizing but…. Now I am here,” he sighed tiredly.
“Do you think it was Clone Fever? It had to be. I heard other cases like that where clones just… they just snap even for a short period of time,” Pitt suggested and the Captain frowned. He had considered it. Clones had the strange habit of randomly acting completely out of character. One minute they would be working a normal day, the next minute the would be killing the person next to them. It was rare but it would happen and no one would know why because the clone would usually be killed during his outburst. No one knew how it happened. His brother was the kindest person that he had ever known. He would spend hours telling him dreams of being a medic and helping the people in small towns across the galaxy. He was a wicked fighter, but he did not have the heart for it. The Captain never knew what had happened to his brother that day but he had gone rogue and attacked him. Clone Fever was the only thing to explain it, but then again it still explained nothing at the same time.
“I don’t know,” the Captain shrugged. However the Cadet was not convinced.
“After doing all of that, how do you know he was your brother?” The Captain bit his lip as he thought about it. He has been asking himself that same question for years. Why was Alphonse his brother? Most people, after having been horribly mutilated by a person, would hate their guts. They would never think of being related to them. He even heard some stories about actual people disowning their families for horrible things that they have done. However, even after what his brother had done, the Captain could only forgive him. He knew in his gut that he could never hate AL-0002.
ED-0001 closed his eyes and sighed tiredly. He massaged his temples as a headache started to arise. He was an idiot who was going to get himself killed some day. He looked back at his subordinate who was still awaiting an answer that he didn’t know he had.
“He is my brother because I cared for him back then and even after all of these years and after what he’s done, I still care for him now,” he breathed. Pitt looked taken back. He was not expecting that response and it seemed to confuse him. The Captain let out a breath of air as he stood up and closed his journal. As his subordinate pondered the consequences of life, he went about living them. He tucked his journal away on his desk to think about for another day.
“Sir,” Pitt said after a worthy length of silence to a topic he didn’t understand, “I have no knowledge about what it is like to have a family or anything, but I don’t think the idea is ridiculous. If that is what it takes to have a brother, Sir, I will believe you.”
“Thank you,” ED-0001 replied after a short pause. His emotion was evident in his voice and the weak and exhausted smile on his face. He was more than grateful for Pitt’s response. He was actually relieved. He had faced countless people who countered him on his idea of having a family. He was tired of going against the grain on everything he believed in. Now Pitt, though not fully convinced, allowed him the right to be happy. It was relieving and he didn’t think that his subordinate understood exactly what it meant to him.
Pitt stood up and cleared the room in one stride to get to his own bed. The man collapsed down on it, all ready for a nights sleep after the day they all had. They had a lot going on with the General’s visit and the rather large sum allowance that the man had given them for their aid missions and seed design. It was about time they got some sleep because it was probably going to be an even bigger day tomorrow with all of the work they had to do to get the rather large ball rolling. ED-0001 turned out the light and made his way blindly over to his own bed. Through the walls of the barracks, he could hear his other soldiers arguing, laughing, and enjoying a late night. The Captain was grateful for his early retirement.
“Sir,” Pitt said as the Captain laid down on his own bed for the evening.
“Don’t call me sir, Pitt,” he retorted gruffly, not knowing what his subordinate wanted now.
“Captain,” the man corrected, “If that is what it takes to be family…. I hope I could find one with this unit.” The Captain paused, not expecting his subordinate to consider that. Then again, he really didn’t either. Green Lion Company of the Avarice Battalion was one of the smallest and lowest companies in the entire Imperial Army. Any soldier in their right minds would want to rid themselves of it fast to save their reputation some dignity. However, every day that the Captain had spent there made him want to stay even more. There was a lot of problems in the unit that the Captain knew he needed to fix. But from Sergeant Desden, to Private Bixby, Red, and Cadet Pitt, there was a lot more people he wanted to meet. As Pitt suggested it, the Captain knew he could really see himself growing attached to Green Lion Company.
“I do to, Pitt,” ED-0001 replied softly. “I really hope so too.”
Chapter 4: The Mission
The Captain's mission does not go to plan at all as Rebel forces pick off the Battalion's units one by one.
A Different Type of Soldier
The Commander stared down at his writing desk with a tired look in his eyes. He had stayed up for the past few nights finalizing his research and now, he knew it was finally done. He smiled as he signed his number on the bottom of his journal and tossed the pen down on the desk. It was officially finished. A relieved chuckle left his lips as he leaned back and massaged his tired face. He did it, he really did it.
There was a sudden knock on the door and the Commander looked to see the familiar face of Lieutenant Pitt walking into their shared room. The blue stripes to his armor were already faded from a few months of wear but they suited the tall clone. He wore them well. The Commander himself had to get a new uniform once again because of his growth spurts. It had been nearly a year since he received his last one and he had quickly outgrown it in typical clone fashion. He was now over 7 years and stood several inches taller like a regular eighteen-year-old. Unfortunately, he was always going to be a head shorter than Pitt who liked to still poke fun about him being the baby of the unit as he was in fact the youngest and probably always will be.
“What are you so happy about, Cap?” Pitt asked him as he ducked in through the doorway. He removed his helmet and carelessly tossed it on his bed.
“Looks like you could finally get a good night's sleep now. I am done, finally done with all of this bloody paperwork,” he chuckled happily. “I just sent the growth results to General Greed and we are all set for the Harvest this year.”
“It’s done?” Pitt asked in amazement as if he wasn’t expecting it to have been approved. The Commander was working on this project for nearly six months with the help of Pitt and Desden. It was a long time running but they finally finished it. Desden had taken the opportunity to replicate the seeds for the harvest trade. They had crates full of them stored in the warehouse to trade with the local farmers when the time came. The Captain couldn’t wait till it did because then, the town would get the help they needed and rightfully deserved.
“I can’t believe it,” Pitt huffed in disbelief, “You really did it.”
“Yes,” the Captain repeated with his knowing smirk.
“So when does the convoy head out?” he asked curiously.
“I was talking to the rest of the Battalion after explaining the situation and we determined that it would be best to start the harvest this week. It’s last minute but the farmers had already reaped their crops and the earlier we get them the seeds, the more time they would have to sow and collect another harvest before the frost. However, the exact time we leave is up to you,” the Captain grinned. The Lieutenant’s mouth dropped open in shock as he realized what he was saying.
“Congratulations, Lieutenant Pitt, you are the Convoy Commander of this year’s Harvest. I am sure you will do perfectly fine arranging the vehicles, getting all of the gear loaded, and deciding routes and travel times.” Pitt let out a pitiful wail as he realized all of the work he had to do and the Captain took the opportunity to laugh at him.
“But, Sir, I am awful at making convoys. You remember the first time I did it?” Pitt gasped. “Now I swear you just like to dump all of your work on me.”
“You would be very right about that,” ED-0001 chuckled as he relaxed in his chair. “I do love to dump my work on you. However, I also got wind that the Commander of Blue Lion Company is in desperate need of a replacement and their company has been skimping on leadership for a long time. He is getting old and looking for someone to take his spot when he leaves. I made a bet, he took it. If you can run this convoy you got the position if you want it. Well, after all the paperwork of course.”
“Don’t call me sir.”
“Captain, I literally just got promoted, why would you want me to do it again so soon?” he asked him. ED-0001 smirked. When he had first arrived at the unit PT 3149 was the most pitiful excuse for an officer anyone could find in the far reaches of the Galaxy. He was getting pushed around by the lower enlisted soldiers for no good reason at all. The Captain thought he was going to be another spineless soldier but after one conversation with him, he knew he couldn’t be farther from the truth. Pitt was a natural born leader and the Captain knew he was going to do great things. The only thing he needed was confidence, a bit of assertiveness training, and the opportunity to succeed. Captain ED-0001 was going to give him all those things.
However, instead of telling his subordinate all of that, the Captain simply shrugged with the stupid happy grin on his face.
“You will figure it out eventually, but first you need to figure out our Company’s routes this year,” he said only to earn another respectable groan from Pitt as he flopped helplessly back on his bed. Even though he was fully on it, his long legs hung off the bottom of the bed making him look more like a giant than he already was.
“When we get so lost we can’t even find our way back, we will then see my ass being demoted for not getting the quota in.”
“If anything like that happens, we need to make sure that the villages are set first. We cannot have the Rebels taking advantage of them because of our mistake,” the Captain warned.
“I don’t understand why the villagers would ever side with them, especially after all of the aid we have given them over the last year,” he replied. “The Rebels couldn’t even protect the capitol when it was attacked. They ran away when all of the Jedi were killed like cowards. The Emperor’s the only one who tried to stop it. If you think the villagers are going to side with the genocide causing Rebel’s that’s a bunch of-”
“Hey, I am just saying it’s a possibility,” the Commander interrupted him. “With the way the Avarice Battalion were treating the villagers before, blood seeking cowards doesn’t sound like a bad choice. If this harvest runs smoothly and they villagers accept the trade, we probably don’t have to worry about Rebels or hostile civilians for the rest of our lives.”
“That means you should do this convoy just to make sure I don’t mess up,” Pitt suggested wryly. The Captain glared at him and walked over to grab the clone’s helmet, dropping it down on his chest. The Lieutenant let out a grunt as it hit him and groaned as his hands latched around it.
“No, that means you gotta get your ass in gear and get me those convoy plans. When you are done I will send them out to the other Companies to let them know we are leaving,” he smirked. The Lieutenant grumbled something to himself about the work load before slamming his helmet back over his head and walking out off the barracks room. The Captain chuckled to himself as he watched him go. “Don’t worry Pitt, everything will be fine.”
The Commander walked through the motor pool where all his men were trying to load the carriers with the bushels of seeds they had produced. They had ten villages to cover in a span of only a few days in order to collect their crops for the legion. He needed to make sure that they were ready to leave as soon as possible. Though the Lieutenant was getting the entire convoy set up as best as he could, they were already behind schedule. The other units had already headed out on their routes and Green Lion Company was left in the dust still loading their cargo and doing last minute maintenance on the vehicles. The Captain had full faith in Pitt’s leadership, but he had a little less faith in the people seeing it through.
“Sit on your own time!” he scolded a group of troopers that were hiding behind a few empty storage crates to avoid work. At the sound of his voice and at the sight of his red pauldron on his uniform, the soldiers were sent scurrying back to their own work. He knew that being the Commander was definitely intimidating to the privates who had very little rank and little color to their armor, but sometimes it really came in handy. Though an officer usually wasn’t out in the motor pool at all, with how far they were behind schedule, he needed to make sure all hands were on deck. If they didn’t make this trip on schedule they would not only miss their deadline but also miss giving the seeds to the villagers at prime planting if they were to get another harvest in before the snow fall. If the villagers went hungry again for the winter because some of his troops were slacking off he would rip his company a new one and starve them too. He picked up an empty storage crate himself and tossed it onto its nearby assigned freighter.
“Hey!” he heard someone call out angrily. He turned his head to see RD-9999 yelling at the other privates who were mulling about. “Why the hell is the Commander loading these crates? Get off your asses and help load them!” The Captain found the crate he was carrying lifted out of his arms by quick soldiers and he was grateful to see even more soldiers getting to work.
“Sorry sir, I have been trying to get them to work but when one group works another sneaks off. It’s hard to keep everyone together,” the Private apologized and the Captain waved him off. You couldn’t get all of the lazy eggs in line but most would do. Though the Red headed storm trooper was still as hot headed as ever, the Private was really getting himself and the other lower enlisted in line. They had come a long way since the Commander had first gotten to the unit and that was enough to sate his aggravation with the slack in the work.
“Put these to the back of the carrier. We would need to unload the seeds first and then we can fill the crates with the crops,” he told Private Red who then relayed it to the soldiers who were stacking them up in the ships. They all answered with a quick Yessir before the Commander was on his way again. As he was passing the gate once more he heard a sudden static come from the inside of his helmet.
“Captain ED-0001, this is Private BX-5757, over,” he heard the young soldier’s voice come in through the radio in his armor. The Commander lifted his wrist and pressed a button on his plating.
“BX 5757, this is ED-0001, Come in.”
“Sir, we have received contact from Red Lion Company. They have sighted small groups of Rebel forces on their route, over.”
“What is their status? over.”
“Sir, they have not received hostile contact. Captain SD-0103 of Red Lion Company advises armed guard on the convoy, should we prepare?” The Commander frowned as he looked up and out of the motor pool’s fences. Their outpost was located on a rather flat terrain where they could see effortlessly for miles around however, they weren’t nearly close enough to any village to see any significant detail. They had not received alert of Rebel’s approach to the planet but they could have easily flown in under the radar with how spread out their forces were. The Commander didn’t think the Rebels were stupid enough to make a direct attack on the outpost. He would have waited to see what was to come of their sudden appearance on the planet, however they needed to make the convoy now if they were going to make the quota. After giving one more look at the empty vastness of Resembool’s farmland, the Commander returned to his radio.
“BX-5757, I will order the company to the armory after they are finished in the pool. Tell Captain SD-0103 to watch her ass, do you copy?”
“Yes Sir, I copy.”
“Good, relay this to Lieutenant PT3149, over and out.”
The Commander frowned as he looked back at their progress on the carriers. They were still far behind and now they needed to get more things done to arm everyone. He straightened himself out and marched to the center of the motor pool.
“COMPANY! FORM UP!” he bellowed and suddenly there was a flood of privates running towards him in their shiny white unbeaten armor. The commander waited for them to get into formation in front of him, which took a little pushing and shoving. Though all of the soldiers were older than him by at least a good two years, they were still bumbling fools, maybe even fresh out of the academy. Once they were all done jostling around, the Commander sighed to himself as he looked upon part of his subordinates. They all waited silently for what he was going to say.
“I have just received a transmission from Red Lion Company. Apparently, they have spotted a small group of rebel forces on their convoy. Security codes are now being changed from low to high. I need all of you to stay alert while working out here and on the convoy. Resembool is one of the largest sources of food for our legion. If it goes down our Avarice Battalion and many more will surely starve. We need to protect it. We also need to finish our mission and fulfill our quota,” he sternly told them. He got some quiet whoops from the formation. They were bloodthirsty and eager privates, and Edward didn’t blame them. They didn’t get to do much on the quiet planet. However they gravely misunderstood the idea of combat. “After you stop lollydagging and start actually working for once and get these carriers fixed and filled. All of you need to go to the Armory and take up your assigned weapons. This convoy preparation is lagging. Now get your butts in gear. Fallout,” he finished.
The formation dispersed faster than it was gathered and the Commander watched the soldiers haul ass back to the carriers to finish their work. He was at least glad to see that they saw the severity in the issue. He needed to get this company on route as fast as possible. All of the other companies were already beating the early fall heat and trying out the new trading system. With the Rebel’s spotted in the north he knew something was up. All of the Lion Companies out right now are in danger. The sooner they got done the sooner they would be out of danger. If the Rebels were only in the northern quadrant, he knew that they were at least safe. But he didn’t know how fast those bastards could travel.
“Lieutenant for fucking sakes don’t call me sir. I don’t need it from you,” the Commander scolded the lower ranking officer as they roared across the landscape towards their next village on route. They had finally taken off and were able to pass through several of their villages already. It had only been a day and they had yet to see any sign of the rebel forces they were warned about. His men were all on edge, expecting an attack at any moment, but if they weren’t then he would be concerned for them.
All of the villages they visited had traded rather eagerly with them after he had explained the situation and the seeds to them. The seeds, if planted within the next few days, would give them another harvest before the end of the season. He was glad to see them take them and promised the same next year.
“Captain, Blue Lion Company just spotted the rebels on their route,” Pitt told him.
“Did you talk to Red Lion recently?” he asked.
“No, they didn’t respond to our transmission. We tried to reach Yellow Lion as well but to the same result. Do you think they made hostile contact?” The Commander frowned as he heard this suggestion. The radio transmissions were not poor at all across the planet of Resembool as there were very few mountains to block their signals. They should have been able to reach the other companies even as far away as they were. He didn’t want to admit it to Pitt, but there was definitely something wrong with this scenario.
“How much crop do we have?” he asked the officer.
“Excuse me?” Pitt said, as if he didn’t hear him right.
“How much crop did we collect? We went to six villages already so we should have a substantial amount. How much do we have?” he repeated. The lieutenant looked down at his clipboard which papers were battering hard in the wind that was rushing through the carrier’s open doorways.
“One thousand four hundred and forty bushels, Captain.” The Commander cursed as he heard that number. They needed two thousand bushels to get their portion of the quota. They needed at least two more villages to reach that. They needed to finish their route. If they had a surplus at the previous villages he would have taken their troops straight back to their post. However, they needed their quota or else General Greed would pull another one over on them which would be far worse than any rebels could do to them, or even worse it could have been Lieutenant General Lust. In many cases, more than there should have been, Clones and Storm Troopers who did not fulfill their missions were scrapped, regarded as waste and killed for treason in others. However it was just stupid of him to lead them right into the enemy where there could have been ambushes set up all along their route.
He worried about the other companies in the Avarice Battalion. Resembool was an important planet, a strong hold in the support of the Central Troops however it lacked protection. Only soldiers from the Extravagance Corps who specialised in supply, transportation, and support were stationed there. Though all of them knew basic combat skills, they had little protection from the Vainglory Corps who made up nearly the entire infantry of the Central Army. The Avarice Battalion’s main objective was to feed the legion. Now that Red Lion Company and Yellow Lion Company were unresponsive, it was assumingly left to only two small companies of only forty men to protect the entire planet from the Rebel forces. Since the Central Empire took over the planet, they never made an appearance on Resembool until today, and the Commander found this extremely unsettling.
“Lieutenant, what should we do?” the Commander asked suddenly which greatly offset the man more than anything.
“W-what- Sir, I know I am the convoy commander but… I think you should decide for this one. It could get serious-”
“I am not asking you as the convoy commander. I am asking you as a friend, Pitt. What should we do?” he rephrased.
“I… I…,” Pitt stumbled not knowing what to say. It was unheard of that a Commander would ask a simple Lieutenant anything on their opinion. Soldiers of the Central Army weren’t supposed to have opinions. After a little bit he cleared his throat. “Honestly I think we should follow through with this. Though they are out there, we are armed, we can fight. We won’t go down easy. We weren’t programmed to fail.” The Commander smiled at that comment and chuckled.
“You’re right with that,” he laughed.
“Captain, you made something great and giving it out to the villager’s definitely will make great progress in this bare planet, not to mention make our quota that much easier to obtain. We didn’t come all this way just to pass up our balls in the hallway. If they come we need to show those scum what we can do, what we are really fighting for.”
“Very well,” he agreed. “the next town over should be Xenotime and then Liore. Let’s finish this thing.”
The town of Liore was very quiet and Captain ED-0001 didn’t like it. The shutters were locked on some of the houses and the square just seemed abandoned. He could have assumed that it was because they were coming to take away a portion of their crops and that they didn’t want to be pillaged again like all of the previous times, but even for that the town seemed too eerie. He had his men unload the seeds and put them on small transports so that they could move them through the village. The quicker they got this over with, the better it would be for all of them.
“I don’t feel good about this,” the Commander said to Lieutenant Pitt as he hopped off of the carrier they were riding with his blaster rifle in tow. He never really liked blasters. They were too impersonal when you killed someone. It just felt senseless. He used it to get out of the academy he was placed in and never touched one since. Pitt nodded his head as they watched the company line up the small transports. “We might have to make a run for it after we get the crop.”
“You know I can’t run,” Pitt told him nervously, referencing his developmental defect that resulted from his giant frame.
“Well try as fast as you can, if you can’t make it I will carry your ass back to the post,” the Commander grumbled. He didn’t even look at his subordinate when he said that as his eyes were too busy scanning the building’s windows. They were all eerily vacant.
“I will hold you to that,” the man smiled.
The Commander and the lieutenant started to walk towards the trading post at the end of town with first platoon in firing squad formation. He thought it to be best if they weren’t just bunched up in a mess where the potential Rebel forces could have just dropped a grenade on them and be done. The Commander ordered First platoon to head out first with Blue squad and Red squad spaced out on the left and right correspondingly. Second Platoon will follow and third would guard the carriers. He knew that in this way it could have been more difficult to take them out as a group and have to try individually. However, he just hoped that his precautions didn’t have to come into play. This was their last stop on their route, their last few pounds of crops they needed to gather. This was the last place they needed trouble.
Their squad lead the officers to the door, quickly securing the area around the shop. Lieutenant Pitt handed him the clipboard that he carried at his side at all times. It held the inventory that Sergeant Supply provided on their seed and crop counts. It was updated every hour and after every trade just to ensure its accuracy. He did not want to lose anything and did not want to take any extra risks. He took it and looked it over once as the Lieutenant took up a position by the door.
“I got us covered out here, make it quick,” he told him.
“Quick is my middle name.”
“You have yet to tell me your real name you know,” the Lieutenant smirked and the Captain glared at him.
“Well you have my middle name now,” he snipped but the Lieutenant just waved him off. The Commander took in a huge breath as he carefully opened the door to find the shopkeeper waiting lazily behind the counter like nothing was the problem until he saw their helmets. The Captain recognized the man as the same person who gave them trouble when they had first began designing the seeds and it seemed he wanted to stir the same trouble there. The man was absolutely mad during the whole exchange. He started cursing the existence of the Central forces and seemed even ready to fight him one on one though armed with nothing but his bare hands. They were definitely really upset by the Battalion’s past treatment even with all of the aid they had provided to make up for it. The Commander had to calm him down from an angered rant to even explain to him what they were trying to do. He was very offset by this idea however luckily agreed to listen. The Commander tried to give the man his description of the genetically altered seeds but the man had absolutely no knowledge of science. He thought he was trying to trick him and the Commander had to constantly rephrase himself to get the point across. It was taking nearly twice as long as it should have and he felt his nerves reach their breaking point. He mentally apologised to the Lieutenant for not listening to his orders on being quick about it.
“And why do they grow so fast?” the man asked for the thirteenth time. The commander took in a deep breath to calm his annoyance with him.
“Okay, think about it like a vehicle right?” he said stiffly. “It can keep going until it runs out of fuel just like you keep growing until you reach a certain age. We just made these seeds more efficient to reach that point faster, like me. I grow to a normal maturity of 24 years of age in only ten years. This seed can be fully grown in only a month.”
“And-” the man started in for another question but he angrily cut him off.
“Look the whole idea is that we are trading you this seed for the food so that you could plant it and get another harvest in before the frost. Why is that so hard to understand!”
BOOM! There was a loud explosion from outside that rattled the entire shop and sent both him and the keeper to the ground. The dull sound of blasters firing and screaming of orders could be heard through the walls and the Commander had a sinking feeling in his stomach. He stumbled to stand up but another explosion sent him back into the counter. The Rebels were here. They were waiting for them, all of Avarice Battalion was getting hit and they were the last target.
“But where were they hiding?” The commander mumbled under his breath. The Rebel forces couldn’t have flown in or else they would have seen them and his troops would have signaled. He felt himself freeze up as he realised that they were already in the town. He was an idiot, he walked the entire Green Lion Company right into the middle of a trap.
He quickly tried to unhitch his rifle from its sling but before he could reach it he was pulled back, an arm reaching around his neck choking him. The Commander gasped as he tried to pull the store owners arm off from around him but he wouldn’t let go. It only got tighter
“That was a mighty fine deal you had there but your stupid troops have been ravaging our towns for too long,” the man grunted through his teeth as his arm tightened around his neck. If it wasn’t for his helmet he guessed he would have felt the man’s blood thirsty breath on the back of his head. His lungs burned for air and he felt himself gag as his lungs started to give out. The man was stalling the whole time. He was stalling him in the store so that the Rebels could have gotten into position. He couldn’t believe he was that stupid to fall for it.
The Commander struggled to reach down to his belt and grab his rifle where it was still slung. It was bulky and he managed to misfire into the wall of the shop as he tried to swing it around his side. The bolt sizzled harmlessly into the wall creating a scorch mark where it had hit. The Commander felt the arm tighten even more and he thought his neck might have snapped under the pressure as the store owner realised what he was doing however the man was too slow to stop him. With blind aim behind him he pulled the trigger purposefully and suddenly the arms fell slack and he gulped in air greedily through the filters on his helmet. His throat was on fire as if he drank an entire flask of Lava. Though he definitely just saved his life, quite literally his neck, he didn’t even want to look behind him to see the man he just shot.
Suddenly the door to the shop opened and the Commander raised his weapon at the person charging in. Before he pulled the trigger however, he stopped himself as he saw that it was Pitt. The man started to pick him up in a rush, jabbering about something incoherent to him.
“The squad, it’s gone! We don’t know where they are coming from-”
“The buildings. We need to find cover. We need to get back to the carriers,” he ordered him. The Commander pressed the button on his communicator and brought it up to his face.
“Third Platoon, this is Captain ED-0001, get the carriers running! Get everyone on the transports, do you copy?” he yelled into it. There was static filled silence and he felt fear lick his nerves. He pushed the button in and tried again. “Third Platoon, this is Captain ED-0001, get everyone to the transports, do you copy?” But it was to the same result. He looked over to the Lieutenant who was checking the doorway to see if the coast was clear to make it through. The Commander didn’t even have to look very far to see some of the soldiers from their squad laying flat on the ground, red coating their white armor. He rushed over to the Lieutenant and grabbed his shoulder.
“Pitt we need to go, now,” he told him. The man nodded his head and they rushed through the doorway. They ducked behind some barrels that were outside the shop. The sound of blaster fire was loud and near deafening in their ears. They tucked their knees into their chests so that they were completely covered behind the barriers. If their legs were shot then there was definitely not way they were getting out of there.
The commander peered out from behind the barrel and he saw some rebels race across the street in their stupid blue uniforms. He never knew why they wore something so bright with little armor at all but it surely made their jobs easier when they had to be. He shot a couple blasts out of his rifle and the two men fell amongst the white armor of his own fallen soldiers. They wailed and cried from their injuries but were incapacitated from the fight.
He felt his breath hitch as he realised how many of his own men scattered the street. It looked like nearly all of first platoon was gone. He couldn't hear fire from the left or right meaning that his two other squads were gone. Third platoon was unresponsive so he could only hope that second was holding out. He just didn't understand. How could the rebels have killed so many of them if they were so spread out. The mortars couldn't have wiped out his entire platoon, it wasn't possible, and the rebels riflemen were terrible shots. There was no possible way, unless….
“They have a sniper,” Pitt exclaimed as he fired a few shots into the fray.
“Up in the second story window, few blocks down lefts side!” With his directions, the commander quickly peered around the barrels they were behind and scanned the buildings. He caught sight of an open window on a cottage few blocks down. He could just barely see the tip of a blaster sniper rifle sticking out of it when red hot bolts fired in the direction he assumed were his men. Unfortunately, he wasn’t naïve enough to think that they missed. He quickly picked up his communicator and tried to contact them.
“Second Platoon, this is Captain ED-0001 come in,” he said into his communicator. There was static and he felt himself hold his breath. Was anyone going to pick up? Who was left? Just as he was about to try again he heard a scratchy voice through his helmet.
“Sir, this is Sergeant DD-9980, they are creaming us out here. We have nowhere to go, stuck on the corner of third, dead end alleyway, over.”
“There is a sniper up in the cottage across from you, do you think you can get them?”
“Negative, they have us pinned down, we can’t move-”
“What about your other squad?” the Captain asked.
“They’re all dead, sir! Mortar fire got ‘em. They’re gone!” The Commander sucked in a huge breath and looked over to where the Lieutenant was covering him. She could not have put it any better. They were getting creamed.
“Sergeant, try to get your men out, I will try to take care of the sniper,” he told her.
“Over and out, Sergeant,” he finished. He reached over and grabbed the Lieutenant’s blue pauldron and shook his shoulder. “Come on, we need to get over to that building. I need you to cover me until I get to that wagon over there. I will suppress fire till you follow, alright?”
“Don’t call me sir, Pitt,” he scolded him, “not now.” The lieutenant nodded his head and shifted his fire to the buildings on their right. The commander noticed that there were some Rebels camped out in the windows. He would have to make his run quick. As soon as Pitt started firing, he was out running towards the wagon in the middle of the street where a whole bunch of rubble was piled up from the previous motars. He ducked and dove behind the structure and assumed his own position to cover his friend. He motioned for him to follow him and he started to fire at the men in the lower windows. He managed to get one of them but his fire soon caught their attention. Pitt slammed into the wall of the rubble next to him, slouching real low as his tall figure could barely fit behind it. He was panting heavily, the short run having winded him too easily.
“Where to now, Cap?” he asked as he peered over the wall of their cover just to almost be shot in the head. The Commander yanked him down out of the way as he got up and shot another soldier out of the lower cottage window.
“Where the second artillery round hit, there was some upturned stone and a fountain that would provide enough cover for us. It’s farther than it was to get here. Can you make it?” he asked him.
“Ye-yeah, I think I can do that,” the Lieutenant huffed as he tried to calm down his breathing. The Commander glared at him and grabbed the chest plate of his friend’s armor, bringing him right close to his face.
“Can you make it?” he asked him more sternly. There was brief silence but the Lieutenant nodded his head.
“Yes, definitely.” The Commander looked him over once but then nodded his head in return. They needed to make it. If they didn’t take out that sniper they were all dead. The Lieutenant picked up his rifle and began to fire rapidly, giving the Commander enough time to sprint off towards the new designated destination. He saw a few rebel soldier approach on land and he gave them a few blasts to the chest as he scrambled into their new position. It was a rather large outcropping of rubble, the stone was turned up in just a way that if you stood in the center you would be protected on nearly every side they could have easily placed at least three storm troopers there. However, the Commander was still questioning how far the sniper could see down the street.
The Commander quickly set up a position and motioned Pitt to follow like before. He started to fire at the last few Rebels. He didn’t hear firing from any other forces. He didn’t know where Second Platoon was, if they were still there or not. They were approaching where the Sergeant said they were but he couldn’t see her or her subordinates anywhere. As he shot another Rebel out of the cottage he heard a sudden yell. The Commander felt his heart freeze. He didn’t even have to look to know what happened. The lieutenant was hit. Pitt was hit. He dared himself to glance over and saw the Lieutenant lying just a few yards away from the makeshift cover with a pool of red blooming on his white and blue armor from his hip.
“PITT!” he screamed not knowing what to do. He saw the man’s panting breath’s through his armor. He couldn’t run fast enough. The Commander cursed himself as he wrapped the sling of his rifle around his arm and fired one last shot, clearing the windows of the Rebels in the southern section they were running through. He quickly pushed himself up and sprinted out to where the man had fallen.
“I asked you if you would make it!” The Commander growled as he fell to his knees next to him. The coast was clear but he didn't know for how long.
“I will never lie again,” the man wheezed as he held his wound. It didn’t look like it hit anything vital, but it needed to get medical attention quick. The Commander touched it lightly and the man winced.
“Shut up you idiot,” the Commander scolded him and quickly lifted the man up slinging him over his shoulders. The man weighed a ton since he was so tall, but he forced himself to carry on. The man yelped as his wound was digging into his shoulder. Sprinting as fast as he could, he carried the man to cover and nearly threw him in before tumbling in after him. The lieutenant screamed as he landed, his wound jarring even more, spewing out what little part of it wasn’t cauterized by the heat of the bolt. The Commander scurried over to him, keeping his head down incase there were any bolts aimed for it.
“I hate being so fucking slow,” he groaned as the Commander started to rip off his armor to get a better look at it. Luckily their black under armor was designed to also work as a compression bandage and it was skin tight. He tossed the heavy armor to the side and looked at him. He was bleeding, badly, but it seemed to be only a couple inches deep, the armor taking most of the blow. To have penetrated their armor the bolts must have been high caliber or else they would have just dispersed like a huge sock in the stomach, leaving you breathless, but alive. The commander reached into his small personal medical kit and pulled out some creme to cleanse the wound as much as he could at that moment.
“Shut up, you will live,” he huffed at the lieutenant as the man started whimper as he massaged the paste in as best as he could. It was nasty stuff and burned like hell, but if it kept you alive for a little longer they would do anything. “I promised that I would get you out of here didn’t I? Even if I had to carry you.”
“Cap…,” the man mumbled after a long pause where the Commander was able to bandage his wounds up a bit. “I don’t think any of us are getting out of here.”
“Don’t say that, Lieutenant-”
“You know it’s true!” Pitt retorted.
“Yeah? Well I still don’t need you to say it!” he yelled at him. “I am going to get you out of here! We will find second platoon and -”
“Don’t call me Sir!” the Commander shouted. However just as he finished he heard a hot sizzling crackle through the air. A red bolt of fire pierced his shoulder right between his plating and he was sent flying backwards with the force. He screamed as he felt the bolt burn his skin, his muscles, and even his bones as it went straight through him. He hit the ground in a daze and everything went quiet for a minute. He growled obscenities and he rolled over like a worm, pain igniting in his arm like he never felt before. He fell back to the ground helplessly as he tried to get up but his right arm was a dead weight. He hit his head back off of the stone. The Commander cursed the high heavens as he grabbed his right arm in his left and dropped it, knowing it was completely numb.
“Sir!” he finally head the lieutenant scream.
“Fuck off Pitt!” the commander cursed at him, fire and anger breathing out his nose. Keeping his head down he crawled back over to where Pitt was laying, rubbing dirt in his wound along the way. He go to Pitt’s side and flipped over on his back. “Lieutenant, I need your communicator-”
“My.. but why-”
“I can’t move my arm,” The commander admitted to him.
“Your arm-” the lieutenant started but cut himself off as the commander nodded his head. He couldn’t feel it at all. He didn’t know if it was because of the bolt’s energy, his adrenaline, or because it really was busted but he couldn’t use it. He would have used his own communicator but he couldn’t push the button if it was on his left arm and his right was out of use. Pitt, after a moment of acceptance, leaned over and held his arm near the commander’s face. The Captain pressed the button with his working hand and called into it.
“Green Lion Company, this is Captain ED-0001, I am ordering all remaining troops to find safety. Get out of here if you can and return to the post, do you copy?” he said to anyone who would listen. There was static, but the lines were all silent. He felt a lump in his throat stick and he tried to clear it as he pressed the button again. “Green Lion Company-”
“Sir,” he heard the Lieutenant’s voice mumbled through his helmet. The commander looked up from where he sat and over to his partner. The blue emblazonment and pauldron symbolizing his rank and position stood dirty, bloody, from their failure of a mission. The commander could almost see the hurt in the clone’s eyes through the dusty helmet on his head. They were pained, but not of his wound, of something even more substantial than that. “Sir, I… I think we are done.”
The commander felt his entire being go numb as he looked around. The village that they were planning to feed, to save in a sense, stood in rubble from the fire fight. There was broken down buildings, fires scattered. Their mission had left the town in desolation. All he wanted to do was to change it, to make it better, but now like Pitt had said, they were done. He didn’t know how many soldiers died so far, but he knew in his heart that Green Lion Company was no more. He heard the patter of feet behind him and the light humming of charged weapons. He looked behind him to see the disgusting blue uniform of Rebel soldiers, pointing their blasters at them. Doubting they were set to stun, the Commander saw the Lieutenant raise his arms in the air. The Commander of Green Lion Company, Captain ED-0001, regretfully followed suite. They were through.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Captain ED-0001 and his company have surrendered to the rebel forces but that doesn't mean they are out of battle yet.
This one is short mostly because I didn't know where to cut it off. The chapter I was writing was way too long and didn't flow right so I made this portion a chapter to start the next half.
A Different Type of Soldier
Smoke filled the streets as buildings burned quietly into the day. The fire fight was over and the blaster fire had stopped. It was quiet to most, but not to Captain ED-0001, the Commander of Green Lion Company. The wails of the injured hit his ears and created a horrible symphony that he wanted to block out. Blue uniformed rebels raced across the beaten streets to reach their fallen. The men and women in white armor, however, stood still. He saw their white armor hanging out of doorways, laying in allies, and stained in red. The bodies were completely unidentifiable amongst each other only to be recognised as a pile of corpses for a lost cause. He felt his heart nearly freeze over as he couldn’t tear his eyes away. First Platoon, Second, Third, his entire company was gone. The stench of war filled his nose and made his eyes water from the smell. He forced himself to look down at his own feet, focusing on each of the steps he took as he was pushed forward towards an unknown destination with a blaster in his back. The Lieutenant was draped over his damaged shoulder as he supported the man as they walked. They were both hurting terribly, but they couldn’t let the rebels see how defeated they really were, so he dragged the Lieutenant on.
He felt the tip of a blaster shove into his back plates as he was ushered towards the end of town where their ships used to be but now there just stood a pillar of flames. He caught sight of a couple rebel convoys pulling up from their hiding places in various farmer’s barns and shacks. The rebel soldiers who didn’t scatter the ground filled the streets and cleared them of any remaining members of Green Lion Company. The Commander spotted a small herd of his men held under guard with their hands in the air. He noticed one to be Sergeant Dresden and a few of her men from Second Platoon. The Commander and the Lieutenant were shoved into the small herd and he felt the armed rebels burn holes in them with their disgusted expressions. He wished he could have blasted those looks off of all of their faces however the rebels had their blasters and all of their other weapons. There was nothing that any of them could do.
“Sir,” Sergeant Dresden said as she moved through the crowd towards him, “I thought you were dead. We didn’t hear from you since. Thank god you are alright. Are you hurt?” She reached out and touched his arm, hoping to get a better look at it. The Captain couldn’t hold back a pained groan and she jumped back.
“Sir, we need to get you looked at,” she said. “Hey! Someone help the Lieutenant. Set him down!” A couple of Privates who had survived with minimal beating. The Captain felt the weight of Pitt get lifted off of him as the men carefully laid his Lieutenant down on the ground. Pitt let out several curses as his wounds were jostled around but did not complain. After being defeated so horribly, there wasn’t much left they could complain about. Sergeant Dresden moved the Commander then over to a large clump of upturned cement and had him sit down on it. He didn’t know how tired he was until his feet were out from underneath him.
The Captain closed his eyes and let out a heavy breath of air, taking in all that happened. Over half of his company was dead. They weren’t coming back. Their mission was an utter failure. Why didn’t he turn the convoy around when he had the chance? Why couldn’t he get his unit home safe instead of pushing them through Liore when he knew something was wrong? Seeing how their battle ended there, he knew that Red, Blue, and Yellow Lion Companies were also in the same state. If they were not all eradicated from the start, they were definitely hurting somewhere along their run. He desperately wanted to try his communicator again just to test if anyone else would reply, but he knew it would have been in vain. They were all gone.
“Ahh!” he hissed as the Sergeant brushed his arm too roughly. He couldn’t feel anything in his entire arm but the shoulder was mutilated and hurt. Desden apologized and went to continue her work with her medical kit but the Captain grabbed a hold of her hand and stopped her.
“I need a report now, sergeant,” the Commander grumbled back at her, his voice betraying his desperation.
“But… sir this is all-”
“Please Sergeant, just please,” he begged her. He knew it was bad. He knew they were done, but he needed to hear their status to stop the terrible hope in his chest that other soldiers had made it out in time. The Sergeant straightened up a little and the Commander could see that she was hurting, just noticing the blood coming out of her forearm which was held limply by her side, much like his own useless arm.
“Liquids black, Ammunition black, Casualties 32 dead 8 wounded, Equipment… black, sir,” she told him like it was a funeral march. Each status hit him in the heart slowly crushing the false hope that they would ever get out of there. There was only eight of them left from their entire company. He turned his head and looked behind him where the scene of battle torn corpses befell him.
“I apologise to you and your platoon, Sergeant,” the commander said of nothing above a whisper.
“Sir, you shouldn’t be apologising-”
“I should have turned around Desden,” he admitted to her solemnly but to his surprise she just let out a weak chuckle.
“No one would have guessed it to be this bad, sir. I would have continued as well,” she said.
“As would I,” he heard another soldier say, a private this time who’s arm was held up to his chest by a makeshift sling from his blaster sling.
“Me too,” another said, his leg bloodied to a pulp from what appeared to be a mortar. If he saved it, it would have been a miracle.
“Sir,” he heard the familiar voice of RD-9999 in the small crowd. He was clutching his side and only seemed to be standing due to the aid of another battle buddy. His helmet was off, probably blown off at some point in the fight, but he wore the most sincere look on his face. Over all of the fights he had ever had with the hot headed stormtrooper he had never seen him so defeated before, or even so hopeful. The man smiled weakly at him from the distance they were at and the Commander felt himself press his lips together as he watched him. “It was a mighty good thing you tried to do. I… I enjoyed working under your command.”
“Sir,” he heard Pitt wheeze softly to him, knowing exactly what he was thinking. The Commander nodded his head and took in a huge breath of grime filled air.
“Very well,” he muttered not really knowing what to say next. “Thank you, all of you.”
As he stood up to look at the other men he heard some scuffling beyond the wall of blasters that was pointed at him. He saw a couple rather decorated rebel’s approach them. There was a hungry look in their eyes, especially from the man in the middle. He was tall with dark long hair and a devilish smirk that sent shills up the commander’s spine. It was a pleasant smile on his face as if the blood and destruction he smelled around him was a sweetened perfume. The man approached the line of guards and paused to take a gander at the small group of captured imperial troopers. The Captain felt like they were all a flock of sheep getting eyed by the wolf. He did not like it one bit.
“Who is the commander of this mess?” the man asked effortlessly. His voice was smooth like polished glass. One could easily get tricked into thinking its edges were not sharp. At his question, the Commander stepped forward to announce himself.
“This mess is my company and it would be in your best interest to treat them with some respect,” he bit at the man, not liking the sideways insult. His company had fought their hardest and died for what they had set out to do. They might not look like much, but they were one of the best units in the brigade. The man smirked at his retort and motioned to his two guards who quickly entered the small holding area. They shoved some of the Commander’s troops out of the way. One managed to trip over where Pitt was laying and gave him a kick for his troubles. Pitt let out a small cry. The Captain stepped forward to defend his subordinate but one of the guards quickly grabbed him roughly by his shoulders. He let out a cry as they taunted his injury and he felt his knees buckle out from underneath him as his vision blinded white with pain. Concerned voices rose up around him as the guards pulled him out of the circle and delivered him right to where the other man was waiting for him. He heard some of his men yell for him however they had no stand in their position. They were captured troops. The fight was over.
“I am Major Zwolf J. Kimblee,” the man grinned devilishly as he leaned over the Captain like he was an ant on the ground. “I oversee this rebel mission. It is sad to see how lax the empire has gotten in training its soldiers. I was expecting more of a fight.”
“You still got one if you want it,” he bit back angrily. Kimblee laughed harshly and the Commander frowned.
“From who? I don’t think your Lieutenant has much left in him with that hole in his gut,” the man chuckled as he nodded his head towards where Pitt was propped up on the ground. The Captain looked back at his unit and saw his Lieutenant watching him. He knew that Kimblee was right. They did not have much left. The hole in his gut was slowly spewing blood where his armor couldn’t hold it in and the Captain knew that he needed medical attention and quick. They all did. The sooner he got back to where his unit was detained, the sooner he could see to them.
“Tell me what you pulled me out here for,” the Commander ordered stiffly. “I would like to see to my unit’s injuries. Unless you need me, you are just wasting my time.”
“I just have a few questions, nothing personal. Since we only need one person, all interrogations fall on you. Therefore, you will be coming with us as a prisoner of war.”
“Just me? You come here and slaughter over half of my company just to get me to answer a couple questions? Well you can take your fucking interrogation and shove it! I am staying with my unit!” he growled at him. Kimblee smiled ferociously at him and nodded his head to the two guards. There was a swift and hard kick to the back of his legs and the Captain was pushed down to his knees. The guards quickly yanked his arms back behind him. The Captain hissed as his shoulder was pulled again and he felt the cuffs lock around his wrists. He pulled at them and tried his hardest to fight the guards off of him but it was in vain. They held him fast to the ground.
“Hey, get off me! We surrendered! By rules of war, I am allowed to get medical attention for my men! Let me go!” The Commander barked. Kimblee turned around with a look of bliss on his face as if he was waiting for this moment all afternoon. He took in a deep breath and sighed happily.
“Captain,” he heard Kimblee hum, “do not worry about your unit. We will make sure they are treated like they should be.” The Captain wanted to argue more about it. He wanted to fight with the man but he only managed to open his mouth when he saw it out of the corner of his eye. Rebel blasters began to lift up and take aim at his captured and injured unit. His heart stopped and time began to freeze over. Screams and yells of his soldiers picked up as confusion and fear spread amongst them. He saw Pitt clutching his side and trying his best to order his unit to calm down but they each had a blaster trained to their chest. Desden stood in front of a few of her soldiers to get them some cover. Because of their helmets, the captain couldn’t see the fear in them, but he was sure it was there as he was sure it was in him. His blood was cold with it.
The Captain furiously began to fight the two guards that held him down as he screamed at his unit to run. They needed to move. They needed to get out of there. As he struggled, the two guards pinned him down and shoved his face into the dusty dirt of the street to hold him fast.
“Pitt!” he cried out to his lieutenant. “Stop! Pitt!” The blue striped helmet turned towards him and the Captain struggled harder to get released. He needed to stop them. He ordered his soldiers to run but they couldn’t. They either were stricken too hard with fear or helplessly knew that their fate was sealed. Lieutenant PT-3149 didn’t move to escape. He simply lifted his hand into a single salute towards the Commander of Green Lion Company. The Captain saw a few other brave souls such as Sergeant Desden and the rest of Second Platoon follow suit. Major Kimblee gleamed furiously at the crowd of soldiers, watching them hold onto the last strands of their pride in their final moments. It didn’t seem to satisfy his blood thirsty taste. His smile cracked open and a single word spewed out of it.
“NO!” the Captain screamed for his unit when suddenly the soldiers started to fire. One by one the remaining soldiers of Green Lion Company drop to the ground in a fury of red bolts. His eyes grew wide and all of his struggles ceased as he watched them hit the dirt lifeless and beaten. His heart stopped as he saw the blue pauldron of Pitt laying on the cold hard dirt, his helmet staring vacantly towards him, the salute forcefully cut short. The Commander wanted to run over to them, he wanted to help them all, but he couldn’t move nor think as he stared at what once was his unit.
After what seemed like ages in hell, the Captain felt his heart beat once and the anguish that came with it was excruciating. He let out a blood curdling wail and picked up his fight against the guards again. The two men lifted him up, fully intending to take him back to the rebel ships but the Commander wouldn’t let them. He kicked, he punched, he threw himself against them with all of his might. He screamed out his soldiers names in the false hope that they would hear him and respond. There was only silence behind his tormented cries. One rebel got the bad side of his elbow into his nose, another got a boot to his stomach. He yelled and screamed at them as he fully intended to fight his way through hell and back to get to his unit. He needed to be there. He couldn’t let them go to hell alone.
Soldier after soldier ran at him to subdue him once more and the Captain fought all of them until he was eventually overwhelmed. He hit the ground again, searing white pain blinding him as the men pressed down into his wounded shoulder. Two men hooked themselves around each of his arms and hauled him to his feet. The commander thrashed and pulled but there was nothing he could do. Suddenly, there was a chuckling next to him as the Major approached him and the smile on the man’s face made him freeze. It was cold, the same one the man wore when he eagerly watched the entirety of Green Lion Company get slaughtered right before him.
“Come on sir, they were expendable after all right? That’s all you soldiers are made for,” Kimblee hummed cheekily as he leaned in. Something in the Captain snapped and he only saw red as he instantly brought his helmet down into the bridge of Kimblee’s nose. There was a crack and blood spurted out of the man’s face as his nose broke and he collapsed to the ground. The Captain lunged forward to tackle the man but the soldiers hauled him backwards and held him tight as they dragged him quickly back towards the rebel ship.
“You bastard! You fucking bastard! Dare calling yourself a fucking commander? Get your third rate ass over here and let me show you who’s fucking expendable! I am going to kill you!” he howled. He felt his kicking feet hit the metal ramp of a ship as he was being dragged onto it. They were going to rip him away from everything he had built there on that tiny planet. He couldn’t leave his unit there alone.
“Desden! Pitt!” he hopelessly called out to his unit once more but there was no response. Their red stained helmets and the Major’s cackling bloody smile were the last thing he saw before the doors of the ship closed.
As the rebels pulled him onto the smuggling ship they had renovated for troop use, the hope of escape quickly vanished. The ship was filled with cots in every open bay and holding area. Each one of them was filled with a rebel soldier crying out for help or cursing his existence as he was hauled past them. He continued to struggle against his captors as he would be damned if he ever gave up, but the more he was surrounded by rebel troops, the farther away from Resembool and his unit he felt.
Not having an official holding cell on a renegade smuggling ship, the guards shoved him unceremoniously into a broom closet. The Captain hit the other wall hard on his injured shoulder and collapsed instantly as pain seared through his body.
“You will get your turn next, fucking scum,” he heard the rebel scoff at him as the door closed and shut him in the darkness. The Captain kicked furiously at the door cursing the rebels all the way. The whirl of the rusty engine picked up and the entire ship shook as it picked off of the ground and was sent into the atmosphere. The Captain lost his balance and fell back into the mop bucket that was sharing the closet with him. He looked around him through the darkness desperately trying to find what was happening. The anger and fury that consumed him suddenly vanished and the only thing that the Captain felt at that moment was fear. He was helplessly alone in enemy hands. Everyone familiar to him was dead and miles below the ship as it rattled and shook through the atmosphere. The rebels had come onto Resembool and taken everything he cared for away from him and now in the darkness the Captain finally felt his heart shatter from his unit’s horrible defeat. Even now, with every counting second, the rebels were pulling him away from the one place he really thought he could have called home.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Colonel Mustang begins his interrogation but not with who he thought he would.
A Different Type of Soldier
The Captain and last surviving member of Green Lion Company didn’t know how long he was stuck there. He couldn’t sleep even in the pure darkness of the storage closet. Every time he closed his eyes the images of his unit falling one by one to the ground flashed behind his eye lids. There were some points that he had thought it was all in his imagination. Without seeing the result of the man slaughter, his foolish imagination could dream that they were still alive down on Resembool. Hurt, but alive and quickly picking up the pieces of their defeat. He knew in his heart that this was wrong. He remembered the cold lifeless form of his Lieutenant as he laid on the cobblestones. However, it seemed that his heart was already too full of scars to keep track of one more. He decided to let himself be naïve.
The Captain felt the ship rumble as it lowered through the atmosphere of what he could hope was their destination. It shuttered and lurched as the ship landed and the whirl of the engines began to wind down. Shouts and orders picked up beyond the door and the Captain heard the rebel troops on the other side begin to stir and dismount. They had arrived. It took what he thought was hours after the ship had landed before the door of the closet suddenly slid opened. The Captain flinched away and closed his eyes as the light that poured in from the hallway was blindingly bright. Hours in the darkness did nothing to help him. He felt a hand grab the front of his chest plate and yank him harshly up and out of the closet. He stumbled to catch himself but with his hands tied and his vision gone, the Captain only found himself on the hard metal floors of the smuggling ship. A horrible yelp escaped his throat as his shoulder rammed into the ground. Laughter echoed around the small group of guards around him.
“Look, the mighty empire has fallen,” he heard the one taunt.
“Shut up, Johnny,” another huffed as a hand grabbed the Captain by the armor and lifted him back up to his feet. “Get going, sir,” the man said tiredly and the tip of a blaster nudged him forward. The Captain was lead down the short hall of the ship as some of the guards jeered and mocked him all of the way. It aggravated the Captain till no end, but he did his best to keep his mouth shut and his head down. He didn’t think he had enough energy in him to fight anymore. He closed his eyes and took a deep tired breath as another image of the massacre of white armor flashed through them. He quickly opened his eyes back up and focused on the ramp before him. Maybe, for them, he could find a bit more.
The cots and injured soldiers were long since removed from the ship as the Captain realized they must have landed some time ago. All the rebel forces were gone from the ship aside from the guards who were moving him. Where did they go? He was lead to the entrance of the craft and saw a rather horribly familiar figure standing there waiting for him.
“Hello, Captain, how are you doing today?” the slimy voice of Kimblee asked with a false smile on his face. His nose was a horrible purple and blue mess, but it did nothing to fix the crude smile the Major was giving him.
“Disappointed,” he replied with a huff. “It looks like I have only managed to make you look more ugly with that hit to the face. Maybe I should try again later.” The butt of a blaster rammed roughly into the back of his head and he staggered forward. He cursed and shook out his head, ever grateful for his helmet. There was a sharp nasally laugh from Kimblee as he took ever the most joy in his pain.
“Well, it doesn’t seem we can compare all that much as you hide behind that bucket on your head,” he said crudely. “Ah well, it just seems to allow me to imagine more. People’s faces are all the more expressive when they confront death. Tell me, Captain, what do you think your lieutenant’s face looked like when he hit the ground?”
“Imagine this,” the Captain huffed as Kimblee suddenly doubled over as his knee was driven into his stomach. The guards behind him pulled him back as he tried to kick the man again, his foot just missing the Major’s head. He struggled to land another hit but Kimblee only set out a winded laugh at his feeble attempts.
“If you keep this up you will be joining your company a lot sooner than we had anticipated. That would not be good for all the questions we still need answered,” his smooth voice chucked. The Commander paused as he realized that the man was just taunting him farther. He wanted him to get angry about his unit. The man took copious amounts of joy out of it. It was like death was a joke to him and ED-0001 would not let him make a joke out of his company. He forced himself to choke down his anger and chose to ignore the Major and looked away. He was not going to him the reaction he wanted. The man frowned and hummed to himself as he pressed a button on the wall, seeing that his game was done.
The door of the ship opened, and the Commander had to blink his eyes to keep from being blinded by the sudden light that was entering the ship. He felt a sticky warm breeze race through the doorway and fresh air entered his helmet making him realize that they had landed on a planet instead of a space station like he had thought. He was shoved forward before he could even make sense of what laid beyond the doorway and he staggered down the ramp and onto the malleable ground that gave way under his clumsy false left foot. He stumbled but caught his balance before he could make a fool of himself again. He didn’t think that his shoulder could take another jarring fall. He looked around to see himself at what seemed to be a port. Several fighter ships and carriers were docked in the motor pool with mechanics huddled over the engines and people mulling about for one task or another. The sun beat down on the base and the Captain already felt beads of sweat forming on his forehead as he stared into the distant haze. This was a desert planet with nothing but dirt and sand through its entire plane. It was very different from the hot pleasant environment he was used to on Resembool.
Suddenly he heard a clank on his helmet as something hit off of it. He looked around curiously and then something else hit his hand, stinging it from the force. A booing and jeering started to arise and soon filled the air around the port. Some of the rebels were picking up stones from the ground and tossing them at him. One smacked him right in his shoulder and he growled as a roaring pain rushed through him. The Victors cheered at the hit. The guards around him tried to get the people to stop but Kimblee was paying no mind to them at all.
“You’re the one who destroyed our home!” someone yelled.
“You killed my son!”
“What do you have to say for yourself?” a man yelled at him. The Commander knew that they were blaming him for the actions of the entire Empire. It was silly and irrational to think that a single insignificant clone would have any choice in the matter of war. The Captain himself did not even see battle until that day on Resembool as he was still young and not even of age. The rebels there were desperate for answers that he couldn’t give. If this was what the interrogations were going to be like, the Captain did not foresee a good ending for himself. What information could he possibly have on the inner secrets of the Empire?
Rocks continued to pelt his armor and unfortunately the guards leading him through the port. They were not very happy about getting in the line of fire and roughly shoved him forward to quicken his pace across the malleable sand. They pushed his head down and kicked him through the small doorway of the base. Cool air hit him as it seemed to be air conditioned. The walls were clay and the hallways were thin, barely even being able to hold two people across without hassle. Kimblee lead him through the corridors until they entered yet another confinement block. He saw some strange people occupying the cells, which had clear laser field doors. He spotted a few of the occupants and none seemed to be happy to be there but they were few and far in between. As they walked deeper into the block the cells became smaller and empty. They were barely any larger than the broom closet he was shoved in before, but the Captain had to admit that at least he wasn’t going to be sharing it with cleaning ware. Kimblee typed a number code on one of the cells as he was trying to open the door but a sudden loud buzz went off and the man groaned in annoyance.
“What is it now?” he growled as he tried again just to get the same result. The Captain smiled a bit as did the other guards and the man’s expense.
“Technical difficulties?” he smirked smartly. The man glared at him before he pressed the center button. A blue light erupted out of the system and a hologram suddenly took form of a young black-haired rebel soldier with glasses skewed on his face. The digital man quickly pushed up his glasses and jumped a little bit when he caught sight of the Major, making the Captain snicker a little bit at the reaction. Anyone seeing Kimblee would probably have the same reaction. The Captain was a bit ashamed to admit that the terrifying joy that the man took in pain and murder scared him as well. No one knew what Kimblee would do just to get a bit of blood on his hands.
“Sir!” the soldier exclaimed as he saluted quickly.
“What, Sergeant?” Kimblee hissed annoyed with his sudden appearance. The hologram flustered around with some papers in its hands and the Sergeant read over them quickly, scanning for some purpose as to interrupt this man’s job.
“Um, sir, all prisoners are supposed to be taken to medical and inprocessing before they are put in their cells,” the Sergeant told him.
“Open the door, Sergeant, this one is fine,” Kimblee ordered.
“The Colonel needs to see him.”
“Then he can come down and see him himself. Open the door Sergeant,” he hissed. With the glare he was giving him the Sergeant quickly signed off before the Captain had any room for protest. The door opened and Kimblee took him by the chest plate and threw him into yet another cell before storming out. He stumbled and fell to the ground jarring his shoulder even more, making him curse to the high heavens. His arm was still numb but the shoulder was on fire even more than it was when he actually got hit. He heard a humm start up behind him and he turned to see that they had reactivated the field to lock him in. He scrambled up and scurried towards the door but one of the Guards stopped him before he got to it.
“Whoa, hey, don’t touch that. It’s set to stun and you will knock yourself out before you’re able to do anything,” he warned. The Captain froze as he stared at it, the light blue haze buzzing its current from one side of the wall to the other. Kimblee approached it and smirked at him, the evil eyes bearing through his helmet.
“Just sit tight there, sir,” he spat the last word, “someone will be here to talk to you.”
The Captain stared mindlessly at the clay earthen ceiling of the cell he was crammed into. It felt like ages since he was put in there but he didn’t feel like he had enough energy to care at that moment. He didn’t feel much anymore. He tried to use his time there to sleep however his body couldn't even seem to do that right. His mind kept jumping back to Liore and the corpses that now scattered its lawn. He couldn't sleep, not with that. So, he used his time lying down on the hard bench in the cell and staring at the ceiling as it seemed the only thing he could do at that moment.
His arm itched. Not the actual arm, but the wound. He couldn’t scratch it, he couldn’t ease the feeling as his hands were still restrained behind him. He at first tried his best even in his condition to soothe it but he only managed to taunt it more. Laying there on his cot and suffering the pain was the only thing he could do. The itch was horribly annoying, but the Captain was marginally grateful for the distraction from his wandering mind. It gave him something to focus on. However, an injury like that, without medical treatment, was not going to end well. He couldn’t see it. His armor was blocking where the bullet hit and his arms were still tied as he could not move to give it aid, but he didn’t think he wanted to. He knew it was starting to get infected. It had to have been several hours then since he was hit, maybe days. If the rebels didn’t come in soon and decide to take care of him, he would undoubtedly get sick.
The sound of footsteps outside the door made the Captain turn his gaze from the clay ceiling towards the barrier that blocked the way. A single rebel soldier stood outside of it staring in at him. He appeared to be high ranking as ribbons were delicately pinned on his blue uniform jacket but from where the Captain laid he couldn’t tell his exact rank. Unlike where the Imperial troops were graded in pauldrons and color for differentiation, the rebels only had tiny pins. It was smart to make them less of a target in combat but it was also difficult to tell who was who. The Captain guessed that since they weren’t wearing helmets such as his, their unique facial features were good enough to tell the difference in person.
The soldier glared at him from outside the doorway and didn’t make an attempt to enter the cell. The Captain didn’t attempt to invite him in. With the way the man’s black eyes boiled in hatred and disgust towards him, he didn’t think that becoming friends was on that man’s agenda.
“So, you were the clone that didn’t do us all a favor and die with the rest of them,” the man spat coldly. “I guess the saying ‘the captain goes down with his ship’ doesn’t apply to imperial soldiers.”
“The last of my men surrendered and I had with them to spare the lives of the few soldiers who were left of my unit. I am sure you would have done the same,” the Captain growled his defense as he pushed himself up on the cot he was laying on. His shoulder hissed and growled but he bit through it for the fight. He was not going to be showed up by a pompous ass such as him. The man scoffed at him, not liking the fact that he was being compared to a clone.
“If my soldiers had captured surrendered troops they would have brought them back here as ordered by the intergalactic codes for war,” the man huffed. “We don’t murder people relentlessly like you. The reason why we went to Resembool was because we got distress calls from the Villages about them getting ransacked and pillaged by imperial soldiers.”
“Murder relentlessly? We never murdered innocent civilians under my command, unlike you. Your men were ordered to shoot unarmed troops!” the Captain yelled, standing up to his feet. “The only reason why my unit isn’t with me right now is because your troops shot them unprovoked!” The soldier, a Colonel he could see now that he stood directly on the other side of the barrier beam as him, seemed completely taken aback by his statement. It seemed that he was unaware of what had really occurred on the planet and now the Captain’s accusations were bringing those events to light.
The Colonel's eyes slowly started to scan him, getting a better picture of his prisoner than before. It was difficult for someone to use facial clues when he was wearing a helmet, but the man didn’t need them to know he was spinning some form of the truth as his eyes locked onto his still bloodied and injured shoulder. The Colonel seemed to grow angry but strangely at someone other than him. He thought he heard a curse escape the man’s lips as he typed a few codes into the panel near his door. A hologram quickly popped up of the same little Sergeant as before. The little man was a little startled at the Colonel's rather furious expression.
“Fuery, get every soldier who just returned from the trip into the conference room. Bring some guards down to cellblock five to escort the prisoner to medical, and send Kimblee to the general's office immediately,” the man ordered. The Sergeant quickly signed off with a yes sir. As soon as the hologram disappeared the Colonel let out an aggravated breath.
“If looks like your interrogation will just have to wait,” he huffed.
“Change of heart?” the Captain teased and the Colonel growled at him. It looked like he was going to retort with something nasty but he was quickly distracted by the guards entering the hallway.
“Take him to the medical ward and have his arm checked out then send him to in processing,” the Colonel ordered. He pressed the button to open the cell as the guards gave their yessirs and they rushed in. The Captain felt a shove as the men guided him out of his cell and down the hall. The Colonel glared at him as he passed and he just returned it though it was quite halfheartedly. He was confused beyond belief. He didn’t know what was going on, if this was a trick of some sort, but he didn’t trust the man at all. The guards behind him gave him a little push as they realized he was slowing down and they turned the corner. The Captain took one last glance back to where the Colonel was standing before to find it vacant of life. A pit grew in his stomach that made him imagine that something wasn’t right about his perspective on things, he just couldn’t place what it could be.
The Colonel stared out across the table at his blond-haired subordinate. She was straight faced as ever, which did not give him any clue that she was wondering why they were there. She probably already knew.
He had spent the last few hours interrogating his own troops rather than the filthy imperial soldier they just captured. They didn’t even have a name for the Commander let alone the chipped files in his wrist. The Captain was furious as any prisoner would be after such an embarrassing defeat. He blamed the rebels for murder when Mustang was sure that he had his soldiers follow the rules of war. However, seeing the Captain’s mutilated shoulder, he knew that something was wrong. Kimblee was ordered to take him to the medical ward if he was injured and even send him through in processing so that they could get any information they needed from the clone before starting an actual interrogation. Those obviously were not followed which made the Colonel wonder what else the Major had done without his supervision. He needed to get to the bottom of it.
All the other people he questioned had a mixture of answers on the matter. Some of them replied saying that Kimblee did order them to shoot the remainder of soldiers after they were peacefully rounded up, and others had a mixture of stories as they didn’t do such a thing. He didn’t know who to believe at this point and the last person he could trust was probably the one who killed the most in that firefight.
The rebels all had mixed feelings about the Central Empire, more importantly the storm and clone troopers they used. Their anger raged from a trickle of competition and anger to a burning disgust for their creation at all. Unfortunately, the Colonel had to admit that he was on the latter of the group. He was disgusted by the idea of cloning men and even more so about what they had become. He understood why many people would have sided with Kimblee if he really did order them to shoot the prisoners. However, in the matter of humane warfare, the rebel forces had no room for this conduct in their military even against clones and storm troopers, mere minions on the Central’s behalf. A prisoner of war was a prisoner of war no matter what they were which meant fair treatment and aid under their confinement. If the rebel forces didn’t uphold the Intergalactic Codes of War, it just gave the Empire new propaganda to hold against them in the long run.
“Lieutenant,” the Colonel sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose, tired of all of the people he had to question that day. He hoped that she would be able to give him something to set his suspicions to rest.
“Sir,” she answered stiffly, seeing that he was taking his time in. Mustang looked up at her, knowing her attitude was anything but impatient.
“Lieutenant Hawkeye, tell me everything that happened in Liore as how you remember it exactly,” he ordered her. She nodded her head in acceptance. His most trusted subordinate told him exactly what happened that day. She told him about her position up in one of the farmer’s barn windows and how she watched the Imperial soldiers walk through the vacated village with crates full of seed.
“Seed?” the Colonel questioned her.
“Yes sir. They took them to the previous towns. Even the other companies had them. I believe they were trading them for some reason, but I am not sure, sir,” she answered. The Colonel frowned and made a little note on the pad he was writing on. The Avarice Battalion usually raided the villages that they took their food from. That was one reason why the rebels took interest in the planet of Resembool to begin with and also that if they cut off the legion’s food supply it would be that much harder on the Empire. He wondered why they would suddenly change tactics at all. He made a note and then motioned for the Lieutenant to continue.
She told him about how the mortars dropped, and the fire fight started. She cornered a few numbers of troops down a dead-end alley and she shot the Imperial Lieutenant in the side and the Commander in the shoulder. Finally, she got to the point she knew he was asking the entire time.
“We had captured a total number of 8 soldiers including the Captain. The rest of them were killed in the fire fight.”
“I would have expected a harder fight,” the Colonel commented. The Lieutenant glared at him for his assumptions.
“Sir, don’t underestimate them. They were all very well trained. Out of the three hundred people we sent on this mission, they had only forty soldiers. They did not stand a chance, but they injured just under half of our men though we sustained no deaths,” she corrected him. Roy frowned and leaned back in his chair. He did not imagine that the companies stationed on Resembool would be that small. He had sent in three hundred soldiers to Liore alone thinking that there would have been a bigger fight. However, instead of over estimating them, the Colonel actually underestimated the soldiers. The Imperial Commander only had forty men at his disposal and managed to injure nearly half of the Rebel forces. Luckily they sustained no casualties but he knew many soldiers might not make it back on the battle fields due to the magnitude of their injuries. One of those soldiers was his own. The Colonel felt an over powering burst of anger and rage towards their newly obtained prisoner.
“What happened next?” the Colonel asked his subordinate after taking a few deep breaths to cool his temper. He knew that getting mad now would not solve anything. He still needed to get to the bottom of this dilemma. Hawkeye narrowed her eyes as she watched him wrangle in his temper. She knew about his hatred for clones and stormtroopers a little too personally. His subordinate waited for him to calm down before he continued. It appeared that even she did not want to push his buttons too far that evening.
“We had them guarded at the end of town near our own ships. Then Major Kimblee addressed the Commander and ordered us to shoot and kill the rest of the wounded Imperial soldiers.”
“No. I did not fire,” she said and therefore willingly admitted the fact that she had denied an order given to her by a superior officer. She was accepting any consequences that it took for disobeying an order on the behalf of some enemy soldier she did not know. She made no excuses and made no heroic stories. She only stated the facts. That was why the Colonel believed her.
The Colonel nodded his head numbly as he disregarded the previous accounts that all the enemy soldiers were killed in direct fire. They did take at least a few of them captive which meant that his previous thought was wrong. The Commander was not the only survivor of the battle in Liore. His troops were surrendered and unarmed upon being killed by Kimblee’s order and therefore it was murder. The Colonel did not know how far the Intergalactic code of war went for clones, but there were at least some true Storm troopers amongst the Company that also were killed. No matter what, Kimblee had still gone against Roy’s own order and broke the law of war. The Captain was in the clear.
Roy groaned and dropped his face into his hands as he massaged it tiredly. This only meant a whole new pile of paperwork and pains for him.
“How did the other men react to this order?” he asked his subordinate through his hands, knowing that he might as well figure out who else was guilty of pulling the trigger.
“They carried it out and did not question it, sir,” she answered truthfully. “The only person who tried to stop it was the Imperial Captain himself.”
“He tried to stop them?“ Roy asked in disbelief. There were many reasons why the rebels and citizens called the Storm troopers monsters but one of them was because they didn’t even care to save their own kind. They regarded themselves as expendable and left their wounded for dead. He saw it too many times in his battles against the Empire to think it false. The Clones were an expendable force but for even the clones themselves to call them that, that level of self-dehumanization was a bit much for the Colonel to handle. He hated clones with a burning passion, but what the Empire trained them to do just disgusted him entirely.
“Not all clones are monsters, sir,” his lieutenant stated flatly with a warning look in her eye. “Before that the Commander had gone back out from his cover to retrieve his Lieutenant after I had shot him.” Roy frowned and sat back in his chair, covering his mouth with his hand as he thought. This clone was different. Could it have been a programming error? Or could it just be him? The Commander of Green Lion Company did not sit there and watch his troops get murdered. He did not simply leave his men on the battlefield injured or dead. He went back to help them and fought all the way till the end. He was not like any other clone Roy ever had the burden to meet. Something was different with him and the Colonel didn’t know if he wanted to figure out what. Either way, he knew he would be spending a lot more time in the future with the Imperial Commander.
“Very well. Lieutenant,” he grumbled, neither accepting nor denying his subordinate’s previous statement. He stood from his seat and picked up his extensive collection of notes. “Get some rest. On your way back to your room can you get Sergeant Fuery to go down to medical to watch after the clone and to make sure all is done for him there? I have some more people I need to talk to before bringing this load up to the generals’ office.”
“Yes, sir,” she said as she stood up from where she sat. “Make sure to pay a visit to Havoc in the infirmary. He is getting to acquainted with sitting down.”
“He’s next on the list actually. Even though he’s injured I still have to ask him questions.”
“He will be very annoyed with you for disturbing him while he’s recovering. He will probably try to kick you out,” she said with a small chuckle in her voice but as Roy watched it come it immediately left as if she remembered something. Roy understood that with war as an occupation, there were many things that soldiers did not want to think about. Their most recent engagement was lingering over all of their minds and he knew it would be a very long time till they forgot about it, if they forgot at all. With what had happened with his own subordinates, he doubted his unit would ever be the same after Liore.
“Rest well, Lieutenant,” he mumbled trying to dismiss her. She looked up at him as she snapped out of her thought and then nodded her head slowly. She reassembled herself quickly before she turned her heel and walked out the door. The Colonel watched her go with a frown. He sighed as he shook his head and tapped his paperwork on the table to straighten it out. This was not Hawkeye’s first battle and it surely was not going to be her last. He knew that she would make it through. Then again, it probably wasn’t herself that she was worried about at that moment. Roy had to go talk to Lieutenant Havoc. He made it his top priority.
The Commander felt anxiety crawl into him as he was rushed immediately into the emergency room care. He still had the shackles on around his hands but the nurses seemed more flustered with getting him care rather than if he was going to strangle them or not. They were asking him too many questions at once he didn’t know what they were saying. The guards who had lead him into the medical ward were ordered to wait outside for him instead of following him in. He didn’t really know what was going on. Many of the eyes that were laid upon him, trying to get his diagnosis written down looked rather disgusted by his presence there but they were still furiously trying to get everyone around him to do their jobs right. He was being pushed and pulled in so many directions he didn’t know where he was anymore. The Commander felt someone grab his helmet and lift it off of his head.
“H-Hey!” he exclaimed as he tried to grab it back but someone else yanked on the cuffs which bound his hands and were fumbling for the lock.
“You can’t move your arm can you?” the little grey haired woman asked him straight in the eyes. Her face was stern, but she looked more worried than the other doctors who were just doing their jobs. He numbly shook his head as she opened the restraints and tossed them to the side. Like he said his right arm fell limply to his side unmoving. She picked it up and looked at it. She poked it in many places and asked if he could feel it but he couldn’t. With a hum she let it go and it fell useless again.
“How long has it been like this?” she asked him as she and other nurses started to try and remove his armor from his shoulders and his arms. There was a sudden searing pain in his left wrist as someone took a chip reader to it to scan the files encoded there. The Captain pulled his wrist away quickly and rubbed it against his side to ease the hurt as the offender walked away with the data reader along with his personal records and data. As the nurses buzzed around him, he tried to keep track of all they were doing but it was to much at once for him to handle. One nurse went to remove his shoulder plate but brushed his shoulder the wrong way. He hissed at the pain and gripped his shoulder. The nurse carried on without an apology.
“S-since it was hit,” the Commander said as he watched the nurses carry his dirty and bloody armor away. He felt tugging on his legs and he looked down to see that they were already starting to take his shin guards off. He saw one of the nurses start for his bottom plates and he felt himself turn red as he quickly tried to stop her. He fumbled and jumped out of the ring of medics, his face heated.
“N-no… I-I can do it-”
“Stop being a baby,” the old lady scolded him. “You are eighteen years old for god sakes. My granddaughter can put up with more than you.”
“I am not even eight!” he defended as he tried to take his own thigh plates off however the straps were too difficult for only one hand and with his other one useless he couldn’t do it. He kept backing away from the nurses who were very aggravated with him. “I-I think I am fine… We could just bandage it and-”
“You need surgery,” the old woman retorted. The Commander shook his head as he was backed up into the glass wall that surrounded the examination room. Many people were observing the procedure from the other side to make sure everything was going alright or whether their prisoner was going rogue. He felt his head race. It was all too overwhelming being in there. The bright lights made his vision spin and he felt exposed. He wished he were back in his cell or even better, back on Resembool.
The nurses started to carefully approach him. Their muscles were tense and ready to pounce just as the Captain’s was ready to flee. Suddenly, there was a shimmer in the corner of his eye and turned to see one of the doctors trying to prepare a needle. His eyes widened with the sight and he bolted through the crowd to the other side of the room, his right arm flopping beside him.
“No-No needles! I don’t need a shot-” he begged as the man got closer to him. The doctor lunged and he jumped, leaping over the examination table and knocking over a few sterile trays that were set up. A roar of complaints picked up as the nurses looked at the mess of their work.
“It’s just anesthetic! It won’t hurt you,” the short woman barked at him as the other doctor rounded the table again towards him. The Captain backed away again, his breath was tight in his chest. He could already feel the thousands of needles piercing his skin and the white coated doctors hovering over him. He didn’t want to go through that again. His mind and heart were racing a mile a minute making it hard for him to breathe.
When the doctor lunged at him again, the Captain leaped out of the way but he felt someone run into his side and he fell to the floor. The Commander tried to scramble out from underneath the man that had tackled him but he was pinned to the ground.
“No, no, no, no,” he panicked and kicked as he tried to break free. He felt like thousands of needles were coming at him. He needed to get out of there. There was yelling of orders from the other medics in the room and he couldn’t make sense of it all. It was too chaotic and bright. Suddenly he felt the unwanted prick in his arm and the serum that was in the syringe emptied out into his bloodstream. He screamed, or tried to, but his mind went dizzy and dumb instantly.
“Come on, we need to get him on the table,” he heard the strange old lady order. His limp body was tugged upwards and he was laid down on the cool surface of the metal table. He blinked dazedly around and he tried to sit up just to find that he was too tired to move. A hand rested on his face and he saw the warm eyes of the old lady stare into his. He felt scared as his vision started to grow fuzzy. He didn’t know what was going on and all he could imagine was pain. Pain and mocking scientists. However, a small smile formed on the old woman’s face which suddenly made his heart calm down from his racing state. It seemed gentle, not like anything else before.
“It will be alright. Calm down,” he heard he whisper to him as she held his face gently in her hands to keep him focused. Suddenly, he felt the forced slumber come over him as her words rang in his head. For some reason he trusted her as his eyes slowly drew close.
Lieutenant Hawkeye watched the procedure through the clear glass that surrounded the examination room. She had to ask if she was in the right place as she saw a blond-haired child on the table instead of a clone like she was expecting. However, under several people's’ answers she had to conclude that this was him, the commander of Green Lion Company. The child laid motionless on the table as medics buzzed around with syringes and gauze to soak up the blood that was pooling over the side of the table. She couldn’t believe that that was the person she had shot in Liore. Her kills never felt personal, it just felt like something that happened, they never felt real, but seeing the Captain lay there on the table right in front of her, she couldn’t seem to comprehend what had happened. Through the scope of her rifle she knew that the commander was short in comparison with the man he was running with, but to find out he wasn’t even fully matured yet seemed to give her a kick in the stomach. He couldn’t have been more than eight years old at that point. It was a little unbearable for her to watch as he went through surgery unknowing of whatever went on around him. She wasn’t giving the kid pity, she wasn’t upset that she had shot him. It was what she had to do and she did it. But looking back at what she was like at only eight years old, she knew that he must have been frightened beyond belief.
They had set him of all people in charge of an entire company on Resembool. Clones were tougher than their age let on. They were highly skilled soldiers bred and created for just that reason. The Commander couldn’t have been an exception to this, but Hawkeye could tell that there was something different in him than all the other clones. It wasn’t just the hair or the age that had surprised her, but rather what she remembered of the day in Liore. There was something about the Captain that interested nearly everyone that met him however she couldn’t understand it, and neither could they.
Lieutenant Hawkeye let out a small yawn as she leaned back in her chair. Sergeant Fuery was asleep in the chair next to her with the Captain’s files pulled up on a data pad that was currently falling off his lap. One of the nurses had retrieved the information from the chip imbedded in the clone’s wrist and they were supposed to scan through it and take it to the Colonel when the time came. Fuery was supposed to be the only one on guard duty until the surgery was over. As she and the rest of the unit were out in the field for the last few days, they were supposed to be getting some rest to recover, but Hawkeye did not think sleep was going to come to her easily that night. She was only starting to feel the wave of tiredness come over her yet it had been hours since she had come down to the observation deck to keep the Sergeant company. Fuery had fallen asleep beside her in no time, leaving her yet again to her wandering thoughts.
The Lieutenant picked up the data pad from the Sergeants lap and began to flip through the Captain’s files, wanting to know more about the clone that they had captured. She didn’t get far beyond the clone’s name before the doors of the operation room opened. The short lady, Pinako Rockbell, scuttled out of it, wiping her washed hands on her apron, a clipboard tucked underneath her arm. She spotted her from across the way and walked over to take the chair next to her. She looked almost as tired as she was but she still wore a dull smile on her face as she handed her a clean dampened cloth.
“Lieutenant, you got some dirt on your face,” she told her and the Lieutenant quickly thanked her and started to wipe her face, putting the data pad down for a later time. She realised just how filthy she was from her fight on Resembool as she saw the cloth dirtied from only a few wipes on her face.
“What’s going on in there?” she asked as she continued to try and clean herself up a bit. The old woman sighed as she crossed her arms, leaning back in her chair.
“Well, we had to amputate his arm. He couldn’t feel it at all, movement was all impossible and the bolt just went straight through his shoulder girdle. Even if we wanted to fix it, there was nothing we could do. We even had to repair some of his bones with metal just to keep him together,” she said. “Strange enough, he already has a prosthetic leg.”
“A leg?” Hawkeye asked curiously. “They should have thrown him out if he lost a leg or got injured. The Empire doesn’t keep defective clones.” Pinako just shrugged, not knowing the answer at all. The Lieutenant frowned and set her hand down in her lap and fingered the cloth lightly as she stared into the operating room. Looking more closely, she could see the silver of a metal limb poke out from beneath the blue surgery cloth.
“How old is he?” Riza asked the old woman calmly. Pinako chuckled a little bit as if she was remembering something funny in the back of her mind.
“You know he’s only eight years old? I didn’t know he was a clone until he told me that and still I couldn’t believe it until we knocked him out and removed his shirt to find those burns on his back,” she said. “He still does act like a child as you could believe. We were chasing him around the room because he was scared of the needles. Could you believe that? A Commander of a military company, from the Empire no less, afraid of tiny needles.”
“The process of becoming a clone is rather painful one, Dr. Rockbell,” Hawkeye said calmly. “Their immune systems aren’t fully developed when they are born and have to get many injections right when they open their eyes. I could imagine that only at age eight he would still be a bit off put by them.”
“Yes, you would know all about that wouldn’t you, Lieutenant?” Pinako replied softly. There was a string of silence between them as they both watched the operation room tiredly. It looked like the arm had been removed successfully and all that there was left was to stitch up the shoulder. The golden haired boy looked so small now just laying there on the table. The whole scene sent shivers up Hawkeye’s back and she felt herself pull her jacket around herself tighter.
“I know it was the Central Empire that ravaged our home planet of Resembool and killed my son and daughter in their fire fight to conquer it. It was because of those monsters that I had to flee from there with only my granddaughter in my hands. Isn’t it silly that I look at that clone and just imagine him as something different? I don’t know, maybe it is because he looks like someone I used to know that I say this, but it is still a gut feeling that I can’t shake,” Pinako whispered. Her eyes were still locked on the room and Riza couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Riza knew that he was the enemy, yet she did know that there was something different about Captain ED-0001 that even Pinako could feel. Riza didn’t think that he was friendly, there was nothing that he would do to label him as such. But sure enough, Riza was questioning just what type of clone this boy could be. A hand patted her leg lightly as Pinako stood up with a calm and gently smile back at her.
“You look tired, let me get you a blanket,” she offered. The lieutenant caught the old woman’s eyes before she turned away. They were wet and shiny. She sighed as she watched Pinako walk away and out of sight. She and her granddaughter had a hard life because of the Empire’s stormtroopers. They lost everything because of them. However, it seemed even Pinako was conflicted with her thoughts on the new stranger. The Lieutenant was getting curious as to what exactly they were getting into with Captain ED-0001.