Chapter 1: Welcome to the 122nd
Loronar was a relatively new point of interest. It had always been a spaceport hub, and the Loronar Corporation was a huge manufacturer of starships in the galaxy, and when the war broke out, the Republic had begun to rely on them to keep their fleet strong. However, as the battles against the Separatists were moved further into the Outer Rim, the quantity of ships available had become even more important to Republic's victory.
Of course, the Separatists knew this. In the past month, they had launched a ground assault on Loronar Corporation's headquarters. So far, Jedi General Gavyn's Clone legion had defended it with relative ease, but the constant stream of Separatist forces were wearing them thin. Loronar Corporation's specialty was aircraft--had they attacked from space, the planet would have been more than well defended. The Separatists made a smart play, invading from the ground.
Gavyn studied the situation en route to Loronar. The plan was to split a group of soldiers from the defense of the headquarters, and move them to the outskirts of the city, where the Separatists were sending in their reinforcements. They would break the droid route, allowing the defenders to clear the city. From there, they could turn the tide of battle around and take the offensive.
It was still early in the morning when Gavyn landed the Jedi transport in a large courtyard of the Loronar Corporate headquarters. The sky was clear, if not a bit dusty. The corporation was clearly expanding, and Gavyn could see signs of construction work dotted around the area. The job seemed to have been put on hold though, with Republic-branded military equipment stacked up under tents and overhangs. There were several clones resting from their work at the front lines, who waved at Gavyn from across the courtyard. Gavyn smiled and waved back, but he was anxious to find Ace.
He only had to wait a moment, however. Familiar yellow armor rounded the corner at a jog. He could sense Ace's grin, despite his unchanging helmet. "Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed your vacation." Ace teased, patting Gavyn on the back and giving him a quick hug.
"It is good to be back." Gavyn replied. "Ace, this is Tyro. Tyro, Ace is one of the Clone Commanders of this legion." He introduced, letting Tyro step forward.
Ace pulled off his helmet, and held out his hand. "You must be Gavyn's apprentice. Welcome to the 122nd."
"Thanks Commander, or uh Ace, if I'm allowed to call you that?" Tyro replied with a slight smile, taking the man's hand.
"Of course" Ace smiled. "It is a bit easier to remember than CC-0314-94."
He studied Ace's face. People often asserted that clones were simply to be taken at that name--you couldn't tell them apart from one another, no individuality. Tryo, even after only working with them a handful of times saw that kind of talk for what it was: bigoted and lazy. Sure, he couldn't get to know every one of the tens of thousands of soldiers, but he had always felt it was a disrespect to not recognize someone's individuality, clone or no. Lofty ideals aside, it seemed that his Master thought highly of Commander Ace, and seeing as Gavyn was general to this legion, he had a feeling that they would be getting to know one another quite well. Fortunately, Ace seemed like the sort of person Tyro might like to know; there was something he liked about the man's cavalier smile.
The feeling however faded as Tyro looked around. After three years of war the surrounding scene was all too familiar, even to someone like him who did not frequent the front lines. His former master had spent much of the war on more covert operations. It was strange to think about how many here had been fighting all that time. Could someone fighting that often even live that long? How many people here would even live past this battle?
Reflexively, Tyro admonished himself for thinking like that, but the idea still lingered. A knot started to form in his gut. He tried to reach for some sort of logic to explain it away but almost immediately realized he was grasping at straws. There was nothing to do but admit it; he knew nothing about the front lines of war.
Casually, Gavyn reached out to put a large, reassuring hand on Tyro's shoulder. He could tell his new apprentice was nervous. He didn't want to draw any more attention to the fact than needed, but he wanted to let him that he was going to be fine. Still, he couldn't blame the kid, this was going to be dangerous.
"When will you be ready to go?" Gavyn asked Ace.
"Whenever you are. The boys are all packed up, and we've repositioned to defend with a smaller group. We brought your equipment down, it is in the storage room down that corridor." Ace said, nodding to the right.
"We'll meet you in half an hour." Gavyn replied, wanting to give himself enough time to prepare. If they were hasty now, the consequences could be much worse when they were out in the field. He hurried down the corridor, and quickly found the supplies.
Tossing his robe over a pile of boxes, Gavyn strapped on the white armor over his robes. A blue Jedi Order insignia was emblazoned on each shoulder. "Tyro, leave anything that isn't crucial here. Go ahead and take any supplies you think you might need."
Tyro nodded, looking around. There was a lot of stuff here. Crazy military stuff, not the kind of weaponry he was used to either fighting with or against. Usually it was just his lightsaber and blaster pistol, but he got the feeling those were not going to be the best things in this kind of situation. "Uh...what...do I…?" he trailed off, staring blankly at the overwhelming amount of blasters, launchers, and force-knew-what else.
Most of what Jedi were equipped with in their survival pack would be sufficient for battle. There was armor… but nothing that would fit Tyro. The clones also had all kinds of other equipment that Gavyn borrowed, such as grenades and even jets, but they would probably need some time to train Tyro to use it.
Gavyn stroked his beard as he looked around the room. He picked up a blaster rifle and tossed it to Tyro. "Take that. You'd probably get killed before a droid gets in range of your pistol." He said gruffly. "Don't forget to grab some power packs for that too. You don't want it fizzling out on you." He said, as he grabbed some power packs for himself. Gavyn pulled his robe on over his armor, making him look even more imposing than usual, then slung his own blaster rifle over his shoulder.
The weight of the rifle hit him hard. Tyro staggered backwards barely wrapping his arms around it. This thing was like...as big as him. And now he looked about as confident as he felt.
Okay, wait, no, he could do this. Center. He'd shot one of these things before.
He took a deep breath. Visualize. That was what they were taught, visualize yourself using it. This was real though. Shoot to kill…
His mind grabbed that and warped it into all sorts of horrible images. What if there was someone other than droids... He felt like he was going to puke. This was basic stuff, stuff he had spent his life learning to do and deal with so why was he losing it now? This was not how a Jedi was supposed to deal with things. A Jedi was calm, composed. He couldn't catch his breath. If Gavyn wasn't regretting this decision now, he might be soon. Gavyn looked like he was getting ready to leave. Tyro was just standing here, frozen.
Perhaps he should say something…His mouth was dry. He knew he was letting fear get to him, but the more he tried to force it back, the worse it became, he knew it was wrong, which only made him feel worse. He had to focus. If he couldn't focus he was going to mess this up, people were going to die. People were going to die no matter what. Yes, people were going to die; either by his ineptitude or his proficiency he was going to kill them. There is no death...that wasn't helping either. But if he couldn't rely on that...Tyro couldn't breathe. This was his life now. This was who he had to become.
Gavyn did not have to be a Jedi to see the fear written across Tyro's face. It was the look he feared he would need to face if he took a Padawan during this war. It made Gavyn's heart sink, but at the same time it was not as sad as he thought it would be. Tyro was going to be able to handle this, he was just walking into the unknown. Making this milestone into a big deal was probably just going to work him up more.
"Let's get going." He said. "Stay close to me. I'm not going to let anything happen to you." Gavyn assured his apprentice confidently, before he stepped back through the door to meet with the rest of the squadron.
Tyro nodded, seeming to take assurance from Gavyn's words. He took a deep breath, slinging the rifle over his shoulder before following.
Ace had arranged a handful of transport ships to bring the squadron out to the mark. When Gavyn stepped into the hangar, the troops sitting down and idling, leapt to attention, mobilizing to get into the ships.
The Jedi followed Ace's beckon, and climbed aboard the closest transport. Gavyn wrapped his wrist around an overhead loop, and held on as the transport took off.
Gavyn took the opportunity in the crowded transport to make some more introductions to his Padawan. "Tyro. Our friends here go by Breaker, Double, Slim, Pike, Popper, Champ, and Big Ten." Gavyn rattled off, over the roar of the wind. "Boys, this is Tyro."
Tyro grinned, replying with an upwards nod. "Thanks for inviting me."
The point at which they were going to set up an ambush was not far from the Loronar Headquarters, but the flight took much longer, so the transports could loop around out of sight. They landed about a mile from the spot Ace had scoped out to make the attack. It was a good location, where the droids were cutting across a large quarry to siege the headquarters. The clone troops had the high ground, and there was not a simple route for the droids to retreat. It would be defensible, once the area was secure, from the rim.
As they neared the edge of the quarry, Gavyn lay down and peered over the edge along with Ace and Tyro. It looked like they were queuing tanks in the quarry before they moved into siege position. There were ten altogether, more than they were expecting. This was going to be a rough one.
Ace spoke up first. "Bugger those tanks. We're going to need to take them out quick."
"If we can trap them in there, it will be easier. Our explosives will go farther if we can group them together." Gavyn noted. He glanced around the quarry. "There are some oversized cranes that could be toppled to block the routes out."
"We can get a pair of explosive units…" Ace started, but Gavyn shook his head. He knew that lightsabers would be the best to topple them, explosives would alert the droids and they could be unpredictable.
"Tyro and I can handle one of those cranes, we'll take them by surprise." Gavyn suggested. "Have a few troops set up explosives on the other one, and we'll detonate it when it will do the most damage."
"Sounds like a plan." Ace said, setting down his electrobinoculars. "We'll cover you from up here until the crane is down." Ace told Gavyn, as the Jedi was already slipping over the edge of the quarry. "Be careful."
"And may the force be with you." Gavyn responded, before disappearing over the edge as he climbed down the jagged quarry walls.
Chapter 2: First Strike
Tyro followed closely behind Gavyn as they crept across just under the rim of the quarry. Keeping low, out of sight, the near silent crunch of rocks under his boots, the weight of the blaster rifle against his shoulder and back all kept his focus. Now that they were out here, doing something, all the anticipation from earlier had faded. That was good. As for the crane- they more than had this.
The pair dropped down to the ground below right behind a rock outcropping, easily out of sight of any of the separatist forces. From down here up close the cranes were massive. It was easy to see how once this was downed there would be no getting past it very easily. There was a lot to cut through but a lightsaber, or in this case, two, would make short work of it. With a nod from Gavyn he ignited his and set it to the durasteel of the crane arm across from where Gavyn had positioned himself.
Liquid metal melted bright yellow-orange across the surface of his green blade and he could feel the giant piece of machinery begin to give. Suddenly a loud screech of metal rebounded off the quarry walls. Just a little further. Then he could ease it silently to the ground with the force.
The force seemed to have stubbornly decided it was going to have its own way today though. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind before it happened. The crane arm suddenly snapped, curving unexpectedly under it's own weight.
Tyro ducked out of its way, leaping backwards quickly as it whipped around, slamming into the rock wall. "Ohhhh sith," he intoned under his breath, knowing what was about to come next. A crack as loud as any cannon fire split the air followed by a low rumble as the rocks started to shift. "Master...you're gonna want to get back…" he warned, almost conversationally, backing up himself. He knew though there was not going to be enough time. Then another loud crack- this time it was cannon fire.
They had been spotted.
There was no time for that though. Tyro threw up his arms and the force with it as the rocks came crashing down towards them. He winced with the effort of it. He wasn't stupid enough to try and hold up the entire cliff, but just deflecting the boulders from himself and Gavyn took all the concentration and energy he had. The droids didn't seem to have any appreciation for the effort he was putting in over here though. Red streaked past the corner of his eye. Now they were under fire as well.
"Stay down!" Barked Gavyn, as the droids advanced on them.
Vaguely Tyro noticed, or felt? Gavyn step forward, blue blade streaking through the air to meet the red bolts, bouncing them away. Gavyn seemed to have this covered as best he could, but there was just no way he could protect both of them, not with this much fire. With a grunt Tyro shoved the last of tumbling rocks to the side and released his hold on them through the force. He stumbled backwards, panting, drawing his lightsaber.
The blade hadn't even finished igniting before the first bolt hit him. White hot pain shot through his calf. He took a sharp breath in then hissed it out through gritted teeth, releasing the pain with it into the force. It hadn't hit bone at least, just grazed muscle. Nothing he couldn't work with now. The pain was already pushed aside, between the discipline and adrenalin. There was no time or reason to worry about it now. He shifted his weight fully into a defensive stance, focusing on the battle in front of them.
Sweat was starting to bead on Gavyn's forehead. He was hopelessly outnumbered by droids. Tyro had already been hit, and it was only a matter of time before they caught a more direct blow.
Suddenly, blaster fire ripped through the squadron of droids pursuing them. As the rest turned to look up at the rim, the bolts seared through the mechanics, leaving the droids smoldering heaps. Gavyn smiled, glancing up at Ace, and the rest of the clones lined up, with their rifles tipped over the edge. Backing up, Gavyn motioned to Tyro. "Let's find some cover." Gavyn ducked behind the boulders that Tyro had caught with the force, and deactivated his lightsaber.
Blaster fire starting getting diverted to the rim. More disturbingly, however, the tanks slowly started maneuvering to get the rim into range of their blaster cannons. When the first one fired, the sound shook the quarry. It aimed low, but blew away a crater in the rock wall, raining debris on Gavyn and Tyro.
"Ready to use that rifle?" Gavyn asked, as he shook off the dirt. "I need you to cover me. I'm going to take out the closest tank."
Tyro gave a quick nod, shifting position, peeking just enough above the rocks to see where he needed to aim. Gavyn was shockingly fast for his size, Tyro had to move fast to cover him. Quickly he fell into the pattern, dropping one droid after another around the Jedi master. Aim, fire, on to the next one. The way was clear as Gavyn covered the last few steps to the tank.
Relief flooded through him, he had kept Gavyn safe.
He relaxed slightly, lowering himself out of the focused position he had been holding, realizing perhaps it had been too focused. He didn't even have time to turn his head before he felt something smash into him from the left, knocking him to the ground.
He could feel the bones in his arm, his shoulder shatter. Only then did the pain hit. This was bad, really bad, he could tell as blood flowed down his mangled arm, but there was no time to think about it. He pushed his mind past it.
Calmly he raised the rifle, and shot the rogue droid down. The kick sent another wave of pain through his ravaged arm but there wasn't another choice. He blocked it out of his mind, hoping he was able to keep it from Gavyn as well. He couldn't afford to distract the Jedi master right now. Taking another forced breath set his focus back to Gavyn, raising the rifle once more to cover him.
Gavyn dodged through the droids, deflecting blaster bolts and slicing metal limbs that dared to get too close. Tyro was providing good cover, but he could feel a twinge of uneasiness, as if he was in danger. He ignored it, of course Tyro was in danger. They were in the middle of a firefight.
Letting the force guide him, Gavyn vaulted over a battle droid, throwing it to the ground, and propelling himself onto the rim of the tank. For a moment, Gavyn stabilized himself, but the tank was not about to let someone climb aboard. It lurched forward, throwing Gavyn off his feet. He scrambled to get a grip, but the metal plating had no good holds. Finally, he found a round hole to cling onto, and push himself back to his feet, just as the tank launched a missile through his hand hold. The missile crashed into the side of the quarry, throwing rocks, and several clones through the air. Ace was spreading the troops down the cliffs to help flank the droids. Some of them got unlucky.
Gavyn plunged his lightsaber into the cockpit of the tank, putting all his strength behind it. The armor was dense, but it heated through and Gavyn sliced the lightsaber to the side as he pulled it out, causing as much damage as he could. The tank tipped sideways and scraped against the earth as it stalled out. Gavyn rolled off, and picked himself up from the dirt, igniting his lightsaber in time to deflect a smattering of blaster fire. The clones seemed to be keeping most of the droids occupied.
Gavyn retreated back to the boulder he left Tyro at, not leaving his back to the battle. He knelt next to his Padawan as he caught his breath. "One down." He turned to Tyro with a grin, but it faded when Gavyn noticed the the blood stains on Tyro's tunic.
Chapter 3: Infiltration
"Lend me your shoulder." Gavyn asked. He gently placed a hand on Tyro's wound, and closed his eyes.
The Jedi master could feel the force surge through Tyro, and could feel where his bones had been broken. Gavyn tightened his grip, using the force to stitch the bones back together. It would hurt like hell, but it would be usable until they could get him a proper Bacta treatment.
"Erngh!" Tyro groaned, as he felt Gavyn's grip dig into his shoulder, but his voice cracked into more of a whimper. The feeling of bones shifting back into place was enough to make him want to puke. Whatever he had been going off of before was now gone and he struggled to suppress the pain.
It took a number of centering, deliberately deep breaths before he could say what he had wanted to scream a moment before. "Why would you do that?!" he hissed before he felt it--the force flowing through Gavyn, into his torn up arm, healing it.
Gavyn continued to surprise him, the guy had just sliced a tank in half for force sake! So this? Someone so legendarily violent, a healer too? This was a change. Ruefully he realized he was still going to be paying the medcenter a visit after this, but at least he wasn't going to be dragging them down as badly now. "Oh," he said plaintively "uh, I mean thanks."
Gavyn smiled wryly, and growled, "You're welcome," before an explosion shook the rock they took cover behind. Gavyn peered over the top, the clones managed to put down another tank, but the fire bombarding the walls of the quarry was fierce.
From behind them, there was a shower of dirt, as Ace and two other clones, Spicer, and Four-T, slid down the steep wall to meet the two Jedi. Their white armor was covered in dirt, and they all looked a little worse for wear. "We didn't account for this much heavy artillery, Gavyn." Ace reported. "I don't know if we'll even have enough ammo to waste these things."
The Jedi master frowned, the reinforcements had enough on their plate with clearing the siege, and would be no help to them any time soon. They had to use what was available here. "Do you think you can pilot one of those tanks?" Gavyn asked Tryo. "There is a droid inside, you'll need to rip out. We can cover you until you get inside."
Before Tyro had an opportunity to answer, a the sound of blaster cannon exploded in his ear. The Jedi and the clones were thrown backwards. When Gavyn looked up, there was nothing left of their cover aside from a smoldering heap of rubble. He leapt to his feet, and ignited his lightsaber, defensively standing between his comrades and the droid forces that were turning on them, blasters blazing.
"We're going now!" Gavyn commanded over the sound of laser fire. The two clones took position at Tyro's shoulders, firing at droids to the left and the right, and following in the path that Ace and Gavyn carved out. The pair moved expertly, Gavyn circling and deflecting blaster bolts, and Ace shooting droids between the streaks of blue lightsaber. They approached the tank from behind, Spicer and Four-T splitting off to draw fire while Tyro could get inside.
Behind Gavyn's dancing lightsaber, Ace turned to Tyro. "Need a hand?" He offered, getting read to boost Tyro up to the top of the tank.
Tyro made a running jump from Ace to the tank, clawing his way to the top of it as best he could without further aggravating his wounded arm and leg. Shifting his weight he drew his lightsaber, stabbing it down into the tank as the blade ignited. One handed it was a bit slow going, but his other arm was good for little more than holding on right now. The hunk of metal he had been cutting broke free more suddenly than he had been expecting. He didn't realize he had had his weight on it before he tumbled forward with it and into the body of the tank.
Shock and instinct took over then as he jumped back, quickly finding his feet in the electronics-lit interior. He could make out the droid manning the machine right in front of him, just as caught off guard as he was. There was no room in here for a lightsaber though. He did the first thing that came to mind-he snatched the droid with the force, tossing the thing high into the air and clear out of the tank.
"I'm in!" Tyro shouted back to Gavyn and Ace. He scanned over the controls quickly. "Aw yea, this stuff's cake. I got this!"
He settled himself into the seat by the controls and started lining up the tank for his first shot. "B1-0600 this is OOM-9," a mechanical voice cracked over the comm unit. "vehicle number six-two-four has been compromised."
So what they knew he had the thing, it was about to become obvious in just a moment. Just a few more seconds and there- the first tank was in his sights. Before the droids had another moment he fired the cannons. The tank exploded on impact. "Found your weak spot," he murmured, lining up the next one.
More communications crackled over the radio. They were lining up a counter-attack. No sooner had the transmission ended then he felt the shock of an explosion hit his vehicle. This was not gonna fly. The tank was a slow thing, it was going to take a moment before he could attack again.
He examined the computer and controls. There wasn't much security on their communications at all. He took the next shot, as it lined up to the second closest tank. It too exploded-once he had hit it enough. He was met with more fire after that. Judging by how he had taken down the previous tanks, his could not take too much more of this. A bit of fiddling as he lined up for the third attack and there! The crackle of droid voices was silenced, he had effectively jammed their communications.
The tanks visibly floundered then without their commander. Perfect. He picked off numbers four, five, and six.
Tank seven though, that was the catch. Tyro could already tell it was too late, but he still tried to maneuver it into his sights. He got far enough over to see a bright white flash of light. A second later; the deafening explosion.
The shockwave, though perhaps it was the force, threw him violently through the air only to skid roughly along the rocky ground of the quarry a hundred or so meters away as shrapnel rained down. He cried out through tightly gritted teeth as the shock wore off enough for the pain to wash over him. There wasn't even a point to taking inventory of the damage anymore, all allowed himself to account for was that something somewhere below his ribs did not feel right. He had to push past all that though, this was the middle of a battle, the droids weren't going to let him go free just because they had hit him once.
Painfully he pushed himself to his feet as the dust settled, revealing the one remaining tank. "Cool," he stated, wobbling slightly.
Chapter 4: Counterattack
The sudden barrage of blaster cannon fire on the tanks seemed to take the droids by surprise. For the most part they stopped firing at Gavyn and Ace. Gavyn ducked out of the way, as Tyro, inside the tank spun around. There was nothing he could do when the last tank fired it's cannon directly at Tyro's tank. A shudder shot through Gavyn, as he felt Tyro's pain when his Padawan landed in the dirt.
For a moment, he looked to the last remaining tank, and back to his Padawan. "I've got it," Ace chimed in, relieving Gavyn to run to Tyro.
Ace was fast, despite being laden with armor and equipment. He weaved through the remaining battle droids, as they were picked off by shooters along the walls of the quarry. Reaching into his belt, he grabbed a grenade, arming it as he threw. There was a moment of breathless anticipation as Ace waited for the detonation. The grenade hit true, igniting the tubes of explosives inside the hull. The blast threw Ace backwards.
Gavyn slowed as he reached Tyro. The boy still seemed to be standing, despite getting thrown from the tank. He was struck with deep sympathy. Tyro didn't deserve this war. He should not have brought a Padawan into this mess. Although, the kid did manage to take out more than half of the tanks, that was certainly something.
"Get to cover. This place is still crawling with droids." Gavyn urged, ushering Tyro towards the wreckage of a nearby tank. "Good work out there." He acknowledged with a nod, before dashing back out into the battle.
Regrouping with Spicer and Four-T, Gavyn turned his attention to clearing the clusters of droids still firing at the clones on the walls. He swept around the two clones, deflecting the bolts that strayed too close. They were attracting attention, however. And more and more droids started turning their guns on them. Gavyn moved furiously, but it could his efforts could not stop a bolt from ripping through Spicer's stomach.
"NO!" Four-T yelled, anguish in his voice. He took a reckless step forward, unleashing a barrage of fire on the droid that made the shot. Gavyn bent, catching Spicer before he could hit the ground. The clone hung on to Gavyn's robe with one arm, and held his burned abdomen with the other. They moved agonizingly slowly back to the tank that Gavyn left Tyro behind.
Ace was already crouched next to Tyro. "I've had the boys disable the explosives. We should have this cleaned up shortly." He reported. "Oh, jeeze." Ace grieved, noticing Spicer, as Gavyn lay him down, resting against the back of the tank.
Tyro looked over following Ace's voice. Spicer. He didn't look too good, and judging by the concern in Ace's voice, he wasn't. Everything was kind of spinning right now and his injured leg would not stop shaking. "I'm going to sit down," he stated as coolly as he possibly could, as though it were an option. He couldn't let Ace think he was all weak and helpless or anything.
He slid down the side of the tank and landed roughly on the gravelly ground. Everything seemed to go black for a moment-or maybe he just blinked for a really long time? Whatever had happened it was long enough that when he looked over Gavyn was gone.
"Hey kid! Tyro!" came Ace's voice.
"What? I'm fine," he snapped back defensively, straightening himself out.
"Good because we've got to get out of here." Ace was already gathering up Spicer into his arms.
"Oh." Tyro pushed himself forward onto his hands and knees. Then he heard it, the blaster fire getting closer, Gavyn shouting something. Then he saw the red bolts shrieking past, they were getting too close. He looked from Ace, still settling Spicer into a position to carry him, to the rest of the quarry. Whatever their next cover might be it was far away. How fast could Ace move? How much longer could Gavyn and Four-T hold out? Either way someone was going to have to cover Ace.
Spitting out a mouthful of blood Tyro drew himself up to his knees. He took a deep breath, centering himself in the force, letting it build in him until it was the only thing he felt-acknowledging that he was going to regret this later- "I'll cover us," he said simply, dutifully, before Ace could make any other comment. Then in three smooth leaps he made it from the top of the tank - Gavyn and Four-T had their work cut out for them- to the ground next to them, drawing his lightsaber as he landed, then in a backflip over droid lines, slicing through them as he sailed over their heads.
Distracted, a good portion of the the droids turned their fire towards Tyro. Perhaps it wasn't the safest idea he considered as he felt the heat of a blaster bolt go through his good leg right above the knee.
He staggered for a moment before he found his footing, ignoring that pain as well. Gavyn was going have something to say about this for sure later, but for now, it was their chance out of here. Go guys, stop standing there! he mentally urged, slicing through a handful of droids to his right.
Immediately he spun the other direction taking out five or so to the left. He pulled another chunk over to him with the force, straight into his lightsaber blade. By now their ranks were broken, confused. With the force he sent another pile flying into the rock wall to his right. He looked over at where he had left Ace-good he was out of sight, presumably escaped to somewhere safe. This was their chance too.
Gavyn was surprised to see Tyro emerge from behind cover, and promptly get shot again. To see it happen this time, hit Gavyn like a punch to the chest. He did not know what Tyro's plan was, so he just pushed himself further through the droid ranks, fortunately flanking the squad. Gavyn could feel the rhythm of battle growing in him. He moved fluidly, slicing through droid after droid. He could feel the shift, something was about to change.
What Gavyn had dismissed as a crate earlier, unfolded itself into a spider droid. With nearly every battle droid in the quarry down, he focused his attention on the spider. Gavyn gripped his lightsaber tight with two hands, staring down the droid's round, red eye. Tyro made him nervous, his move back into battle had been reckless, and the Jedi Master hoped he wouldn't try anything so bold against a larger foe.
The spider fired on Gavyn first. He deflected the bolt, but the shock of it made his arms quake. The spider was armed with very high powered blasters. Gavyn dashed forward before the spider could fire again. his lightsaber arced down, as the spider shifted, slicing through the droid's left leg joint. The droid stumbled, but didn't break. With a mechanical hiss, it lunged at Gavyn, twisted, burnt metal and sparks flashing where it's leg used to be. Gavyn dodged back, readying himself for more blaster fire.
Tyro sliced his way through the last few droids nearest to him, only to turn around just in time to see the enormous spider droid unfurl. He couldn't help but watch, astonished, as Gavyn blocked the giant bolt it shot at him. But he was just standing there, waiting to take another? No way. Gavyn had its attention. Tyro had an advantage.
Tyro sprinted forward and leapt, putting the force behind the action. He grabbed onto its massive leg and set his lightsaber to it. He pushed against the metal with all his strength, it was slow going, but the droid didn't seem to notice, yet. Just a moment longer it would.
With a shriek the leg gave out. The massive droid tipped backwards, spewing its next bolt into the sky, and Tyro fell with it, the force slipping uselessly through his grasp. It had used up everything left in him already. He slammed into the ground hard, landing on his back.
The impact knocked the wind out of him and he gasped desperately for breath, curling violently around himself. Have to stand up. Can't stay here. Limbs shaking he pushed himself up to his hands and knees, hacking up a puddle of blood into the gravel.
He blinked and somehow he was on his feet again, he didn't remember when he had stood up. He swayed where he stood, distantly watching the now upside-down droid move to stare at him. It was kind of funny...silly little upside down droid. Or big. Silly big droid didn't sound as good.
Focus! he snapped at himself. Everything hurt. Which kind of made it feel like nothing hurt, which didn't matter because Jedi weren't supposed to feel pain, right? Yeah, that sounded kind of right...
He took a few staggering steps towards the thing, drawing his lightsaber. Stick it through its head, finish it off.
The eye seemed to focus sharply on him. Perhaps he could make it there first. He dragged himself another step. He knew he was going too slowly but he had to try.
The eye locked, glowing bright red.
Reflexively he raised his lightsaber, though he knew it was not going to be enough to prevent what came next. It was almost morbidly fascinating to watch as everything seemed to move in slow motion. The way the earth seemed to char and fly out from under the path of the giant bolt as it blazed towards him. The red that split around the green of his lightsaber. He caught a moment's sensation of flying through the air. Then he was pressed into the dirt again.
He blinked and after a moment of black the dust was gone. Get up! Was he still breathing? Distantly he could feel his body gasping for air.
Another long moment of black.
Come on you could do it before. He tried to roll over, to push himself up enough to even see what was going on around him, but there was just no strength left for him to use. No matter what he tried he couldn't move.
Chapter 5: Escape
Gavyn took the opportunity of the flipped droid to attack. He leaped onto the stomach, burying his lightsaber into the mechanical belly as it writhed underneath him. It scratched at his face with it's severed limb, tearing at his armor and robes. It glanced his neck before slowly spasming until it completely lost power.
Sheathing his lightsaber, Gavyn staggered off of the droid. He touched his neck, and could feel the blood. He was lucky it had not been more severe. A margin of only few inches, and the droid would have killed him.
The clones were picking off the few battle droids remaining, and Gavyn's immediate concern was Tyro, who had not moved from where he had been thrown a few meters away. The only comfort the Jedi Master had was he was sure that Tyro wasn't dead.
Hastening to kneel next to Tyro, the battle grime and blood on Gavyn's face could not mask his expression of sincere concern. This was ridiculous, why did he ever think it would be good to take a Padawan in the middle of this war? Tyro was so young. His time would come to prove his bravery if this cursed war didn't rob him of the chance.
"Stay with me." Gavyn consoled as he pushed a lock of Tyro's green hair from his face.
Moving quickly, Gavyn pulled a battlefield medpack from his belt. The living force was throbbing with pain. Gavyn could feel that Tyro had broken some bones, but they couldn't leave him here for long. "Where does it hurt?" Gavyn asked earnestly as he applied bacta-soaked bandages to the wounds he could see readily, trying to stop any apparent bleeding. With the spider droid defeated they were safe in the lull of battle for a moment, but Gavyn knew it would not be for long. He needed to determine if Tyro could move.
The boy coughed roughly, spitting up another mouthful of blood. The renewed wave of pain that came with that gave him the strength to curl inwards, clutching at his stomach.
Another moment of darkness later and Tyro found himself looking at Gavyn again. "You're hurt," he reached up to indicate the blood on Gavyn's face. "We match," he added with a half-giggle, half-cough.
Gavyn returned Tyro's observation with a sympathetic smile. "We sure do." he said, hoping that it would give Tyro some heart. He didn't know if Tyro realized how bad shape he was actually in. "We need to get back to the top." Unfortunately they didn't have much of a choice, the only way out of the quarry and to safety was up. Putting a solid arm under Tyro's shoulders, he lifted his apprentice up, letting Tyro lean against him.
The pair moved slowly up the the quarry walls. Gavyn tried to find the path of least resistance. Every large step they took, he could feel Tyro's agony, and the weight of Tyro in his arms slowed him down. A warning through the force swept over Gavyn. He glanced over his shoulder to see a half dozen more Spider Droids unfold. Exposed on the quarry wall, there was no place to hide when one turned it's blaster on the two Jedi.
The droid had aimed high, but the blast rocked the stone. Gavyn ducked as quick as he could, pulling Tyro against him and blocking the shower of debris. A whimper of pain escaped the boy's lips but there was time for nothing else. The bolt shook loose the rocks above, and Gavyn felt a barrage of heavy stones crash against the armor plate across his back. The ground unsteady, he desperately scrambled to hang onto Tyro while preventing them from sliding down the side of the quarry. When the debris settled, Gavyn stood back up slowly, his back aching. Almost there.
With fierce determination, Gavyn resumed making his way up the quarry wall. He was relieved to see a the clones standing at the top, only a few meters away now. "Just a bit further, General!" Big Ten called out, reaching his hand out to help lift Tyro to the rim.
Mechanical crashing against stone nearly knocked Gavyn back down the wall. With one arm holding onto his Padawan and one arm clinging to the rock, he could see a Spider Droid pounce on Big Ten. From below the edge of the quarry, Gavyn could only hear blaster shots, and an anguished cry. Then there was that all-too familiar flicker of loss through the force. Gavyn bit down on the emotion threatening to boil inside of him, holding tight to Tyro. They had to wait instead, until the blasterfire and sounds of the rampaging droid subsided.
Tyro shuddered violently as he felt Big Ten pass into the force. He had been right there just a moment ago. It wasn't fair. They were supposed to be done with this. Where had Ace and Spicer gone? Were they able to make it out?
More yells from up above. Tyro couldn't take it any more. He was a Jedi, he had the power to do something about this, so he had to.
With the strength he had left he pushed against Gavyn's grip, trying to see what was happening. There was the droid, clinging onto the rock above. He reached out for it, grabbing it with the force. His control over it felt off though--it seemed to flicker and move around him...but not quite through him as it should.
He tried harder. With a gargantuan effort he wrapped the force around the droid's back leg, and pulled. He didn't see it fall, perhaps he had blacked out again? Then it was on its back, a smoking pile of scrap metal. Tyro felt the force drain from him then, a sort of terrifying sinking feeling. It left him with nothing. Black again. Then coughing. Blood. And shaking. He couldn't stop shaking.
"What are you doing?" Gavyn hissed as Tyro pulled away from him. He could feel Tyro reaching out to the force, but he could also feel Tyro's life ebbing away. Tyro managed to pull the Spider Droid off the edge of the quarry, but the effort left him a fragile husk.
Gavyn held his trembling face, letting the force flow through him, and into his Padawan. There were only a few meters to the top of the quarry now. Wrapping an arm around Tyro's waist, Gavyn lifted him up and rested Tyro's head on his shoulder. He felt a surge of protectiveness that he hadn't felt since his former Padawan left. "Just hang on a bit longer, Tyro."
Chapter 6: Casualties
At last, Gavyn pulled himself over the edge of the quarry. He saw two clones attending to Big Ten, shaking their heads. The troops were slowly making their way back out, and the unit was looking pretty sore. Gavyn and Ace hadn't accounted for so much heavy artillery, but clearly the CIS army had been queuing them here rather than sending them all to the front lines. Fortunately, the number of wounded meant that the medics were on the alert and well prepared. Gavyn recognized the setup too well. A fortified tent was set up to treat minor injuries and host the seriously wounded, as transports lifted them back to a safe base.
Finding an empty mat under the tent was not too difficult. There were only a handful of troops that were seriously injured, including Spicer who was lying on that mat next to Tyro. Ace was in a serious discussion with one of the medics. After nodding, he walked back over to his comrade. "Looks like you are going to be fine, Spicer. They can probably patch you up here." Ace smiled, but the smile faded as he noticed the state of Tyro. "Gavyn…" he couldn't finish the sentence, worried to sound too pessimistic about Tyro's appearance in front of him.
Gavyn turned back to Tyro. Looking at his Padawan laying there, he couldn't help but wonder if this was going to be the future of combat for him? Was he going to pit a teenager against insurmountable odds, and drag what remained of him back to get stitched together again? How was he supposed to condone or condemn this? On the one hand, Tyro did an incredible job destroying the tanks quickly, dispatching of the spider droid, and covering him in battle. On the other hand, he took extremely dangerous risks and put himself in unnecessary danger.
"It's fine." Gavyn assured him. "Just worry about getting this place set up to rendezvous with the rest of the garrison." Ace nodded hesitantly, and hurried from the tent.
Finishing up his conversation with Ace, Stitch let out a breath he didn't even realize he had been holding. Good news felt far too rare around here, or maybe he was just getting soft. It has been a fairly rough day, he had been kept busy, but this seemed to be the end of it. All in all, he had seen worse. Some days he wondered why he even bothered making friends when he was bound to be piecing them back together on a regular basis. Losing one felt like a personal failure. As much as he liked the guy, the General had made him far too sensitive for this job. Down to the insistence on the too-cute-for-his-taste nicknames. That said the patients, well no, he, kind of liked the name he had been given, even if it was obvious as his station. Stitch could never admit it though.
Almost as if summoned by his thoughts there was the General now, carrying what was most definitely not one of his clone brothers. Stitch frowned. Peeling off his dirty gloves and grabbing a clean pair he quickly strode over.
He didn't even have to run the bioscanner over the kid to tell he was in shock. The readout was worse than he could have expected, and as his experienced hands identified a rapid, thready pulse and three blaster wounds, the machine flashed a grave warning - broken bones, internal bleeding. It was a miracle the kid had hung on this long. Jedi. He had come to find they were a strange kind of resilient beyond that of any normal being. "Splinter!" he shouted across the tent to the other medic. "One liter of saline and an O2 mask!"
With a groan, the kid stirred, eyes fluttering half open into hazy slats of green. "Hey there," Stitch intoned, voice shifting to something more gentle, even as his hands continued to work to brush aside burnt fabric and identify wounds. "What's your name?"
The boy squinted at him, looking troubled before finally deciding on "Tyro."
"How old are you Tyro?"
"Thir-" Tyro started, "Fourteen."
Damn, fourteen. Stitch's training was in treating clones, full grown clones. At least the kid was human.
"Do you know where you are?"
"Droids…" Tyro murmured, looking like he was making ready to take on more of the things.
"Yeah, that's right." Well, two out of three. In a way he was close. Stitch placed a hand on his uninjured shoulder to hold him down.
Splinter appeared next to him then, setting up an IV. He frowned deeply, "He's too little," Splinter growled under his breath.
"Not...little," Tyro protested between quick, shallow breaths.
"Shhh, of course not Big Guy," Stitch consoled, settling an oxygen mask into place, running a hand across his cool clammy forehead. He tried not to smile; if the kid was a clone he would have just earned himself a nickname. "Just breathe okay? Deep breaths, that's right."
He nodded to Splinter to take over while he got a better idea of the rest of the kid's injuries. It looked like the General had stopped the most initially life threatening of the damage as best he could- Stitch was used to seeing his work by now. But the kid was bleeding internally. They needed to get him back to the base and into surgery soon or he wasn't going to make it.
Stitch looked over to Gavyn. Despite his outward composure, worry was etched deep into the General's features. It was all too familiar a scene. He stood up with a nod, indicating that they needed to step aside to talk.
"We need to get him back to the base. I'm guessing you count as his legal guardian? He needs surgery, the best we can do is try and get him stable over here," he said heavily. Bad news was hard, giving it to the General was the worst. The man cared so much.
"I need to see that cut of yours too. That's a lot of blood, and I don't like where its located."
"Right." Gavyn answered absently, tugging his robe down for the medic to inspect his neck. He was too preoccupied in his thoughts to protest. Tyro's first real mission with him, and Gavyn had already nearly gotten him killed. He was going to need surgery to fix his wounds. How could he have let this happen?
A sharp sting against his open wound pulled him back into the moment. He grimaced as the medic scrubbed out the dirt, sweat and blood that had caked inside of it. After the medic had applied some tape, Gavyn tested the movement of his neck. It ached, but nothing that was going to stop him from completing the next part of this operation. "Thanks, Stitch." Gavyn said, pulling together a grateful smile out of his guilt over Tyro.
He returned to his Padawan's side. Splinter was doing his best to try and stabilize him, but he looked up at Gavyn at a loss. Part of Gavyn just wanted to stay at Tyro's side, so he wouldn't need to wake up in an unknown room filled with strangers.
He picked up Tyro's good hand, and held it between his two large palms. The boy was already so cold. "They're going to take good care of you, Tyro." Gavyn assured him, but he could feel his heart falling as he spoke the words. He wanted so badly to go with him.
A slight twitch of Tyro's fingers and a hitch in his weak, raspy breath was the only response.
Gently, Gavyn wiped away some of the blood on Tyro's face. He could feel the Force slipping away, but he focused on it, and in moments Gavyn could see the current of Living Force running through Tyro like a drying stream. He could sense his injuries, and with a nudge he blocked the haphazard internal bleeding.
Blinking his eyes open, he heard Splinter let go of bated breath. "How is he?"
"He should be stabilized. Keep an eye on him, though." Gavyn sighed, as he stood up. He knew his duty was to the rest of the unit. They needed to prepare for a forward assault, and Gavyn needed to get some rest. He needed to trust the medics to look after Tyro. He glanced one more time back at his Padawan, reaching out to Tyro through the force, it will be alright, before he ducked out of the tent.
Chapter 7: The Plan
Gavyn entered the temporary hospital area covered in blood. He had a clone trooper cradled in his arms, leaving a red trail behind them. The doctors quickly directed him to an empty table, where they got straight to work, trying to pull the shattered remains of the armor out of the clone's chest.
Pulling off his outer robe, it was clear that most of the blood Gavyn was soaked in was not his own. That wasn't to say the battle was not bloody. After meeting up with reinforcements at the quarry, they had marched on the landing ships. The ships were heavily fortified, and the ground troops hardly stood a chance. At dawn, Gavyn called a retreat so they could re-group and assess a new strategy. They had lost too many good soldiers in the battlefield, and unlike the Separatists, Gavyn did not intend on winning this battle through sheer number of expendable troops.
A nurse attempted to hand Gavyn a blanket, but he waved it away. He didn't need to be taken care of, the flood of wounded needed to be taken care of. In fact, there were likely more wounded than could be dealt with by the doctors. The clones able to be transported were already being moved to shuttles to the medical facilities on the star cruiser. Concern stirred in Gavyn, if they were going to be understaffed, was Tyro already taken care of?
Gavyn paced the corridor lined with resting patients. Some of them had major surgeries to recover from, but there simply was no room in the base for patient privacy. It was easy to spot Tyro against the identical clones. Gavyn hurried towards him, but a something caught his robe as he moved past.
Gavyn turned to see Dice, one of the first clones he had met. Dice was a Commander that had been trained with Ace, and Gavyn had spent many hours with Ace and his classmates during the war.
"General… sir." Dice sputtered out. His chest and left neck were wrapped in layers of gauze, and Gavyn could see the effort it took to move at all.
Gavyn knelt next to the clone's bed. "Dice." He smiled wryly. "How are you holding up?"
"I've seen better days." He offered before coughing and letting out a moan of agony. Gavyn quickly took Dice's hand and held it tight, relieving some of the burden of pain through the force. "I always told Ace I'd get it before him…"
"That isn't going to be today." Gavyn insisted, looking into Dice's eyes with a fierce gaze. He rested a hand on Dice's bandages and could immediately feel the trouble. There was still a fragment of shrapnel lodged in his chest, even after the surgeons had closed him up. It was slate - something the scanner would not have picked up. Gavyn's head started swimming as he called on the force and he closed his eyes, letting it guide him. Slowly, he shifted the rock away from the vital organs. It shot pain through Dice, but Gavyn took the weight of it through the connection he held between them. He grimaced, feeling Dice's pain as though it was his own, but he could feel the force flow freely through his friend now. He would be okay until they could remove the additional shrapnel safely, and without the current overwhelming number of patients.
When Gavyn opened his eyes, there was a tear streaked down Dice's face. "Thank you…" He was breathing easier now. "Oh thank the force." He released a shuddered breath of gratitude. "I can fight another day."
"You can live another day." Gavyn corrected with a kind smile. He slowly stood up, nodded his head towards Dice, and made his way to his Padawan.
Slowly, he knelt beside Tyro. The doctors had done a good job dressing his wounds, but part of Gavyn still felt guilty for leaving him in the care of strangers. Still felt guilty for taking him into battle in the first place. Guilty for nearly getting him killed.
Tyro awoke cold and shivering despite the blanket he was wrapped in. There was the strange sensation of being in pain but not really, like it was half shielded away from him, dulled by some kind of painkiller he absently realized. Instinctively he reached out for something...the force. Yeah, that was it. He extended himself, grasping for its calm reassuring presence to focus his mind and center himself. There was nothing. Nothing but an empty void. This had never happened before. Never, in as long as he could remember had he not felt the force. What was happening? He started to panic.
Nausea and dread seemed to drown out all else, and rolled to his side with a whimper, curling around his bandaged stomach. It was only after several panting breaths that he noticed someone's hand on his back. Gingerly rolling back over he met the worried eyes of Gavyn. He hadn't even sensed him through the force. He felt ashamed, letting the man see him like this. They hardly knew each other. "I'm sorry," he croaked.
"No," Gavyn insisted. "I am sorry." He hung his head, hair falling across his blood streaked face. "I should not have brought you into battle so soon. I should have taught you slowly, so you would be ready. This should never have happened."
Gavyn was so accustomed with working with clones, each one of them came with standard training. They were born and bred to fight. They knew how to work together. They had run hundreds of simulations to practice dealing with being under fire. They had good judgement when it came to engaging enemies, although Gavyn often worried that they were so conditioned to to throw their lives away in the name of following orders.
Tyro was a completely different case, and Gavyn had forgotten that. In school, Jedi were trained in combat, but much of the training was for lightsaber duels, which were nearly unheard of. The skills were primarily useful against vibro-blades. Beyond that, the focus was on small, strike team style maneuvers, not large-scale battles. This was new territory for Jedi, and Tyro's previous Master had been almost entirely academic.
Gavyn sat on the edge of the cot, and patted Tyro's arm gently. The poor kid was trembling. Gavyn could feel the force throbbing with pain through him. The least he could do for him now was just be there for a while.
"'s not your fault." Tyro protested. He appreciated Gavyn's comforting presence, it was something he would have never guessed after all the rumors he had heard about the infamous General, a Jedi supposedly known for an unmatched death count on the battlefield. Tyro relaxed slightly, but there were more important things that needed to be said. "My actions...were my own. Did what I thought was right...and it wasn't. Thought I was helping, but I wasn't there when you needed me later." Tyro's eyes flicked to the blood on Gavyn's face. "I distracted you."
Tyro had no problem taking injury if it meant saving someone else but the pieces were starting to fall into place. He had been short-sighted, only thought of the present danger, not the greater good. It was impulsive; not the Jedi way. As if it might give him a reason to not say what he had been considering next, he reached out for the force one last time. Nothing. He was officially useless. "I understand if... this's not what you were looking for in an apprentice."
"No, it's not." Gavyn said quietly, but as a matter of fact. "But you will learn, Tyro." He assured. It was a harsh truth, but Gavyn remembered how clearly his own Master had set her expectations. He always knew what the model was, the goal to strive for. As a young Padawan he had worked so hard to live up to that ideal, but he had learned in time that his former Master was still on that same journey. Reaching infallibility was a goal, but the act of trying every moment was what was important.
Gavyn didn't know what kind of principals to live by Tyro's former master had taught him, but that training could be leading him down the wrong path.
"I trust you, more than anyone, not to act so recklessly again." Gavyn said, looking Tyro in the eye.
"Yea...For the record I don't usually need this much encouragement to figure this stuff out," sighed Tyro, shifting uncomfortably. It didn't sound like Gavyn was angry however or like he had given up on him. That was good of him. He looked away after that though, Gavyn didn't know just how much encouragement he had.
He closed his eyes tightly trying to center himself without the force past the haze of pain before realizing how sarcastic he had sounded. Gavyn had been nothing but nice to him. "I mean...I pick up stuff fast...that's what I meant...It was reckless...I get it, I get why...I just wanted to...I didn't want people to get hurt...to die. I see now how that was short sighted but I could feel their pain and I knew I could do something to stop it...and it felt like it would be selfish not to because how could I just let them die when there was still something left I could do and I know that's not good in the long run because I can't help others if I do that and I get it now and I know I overdid it and well I probably couldn't even do it again if I wanted to because I can't..." the words poured from his mouth until at last he hiccuped a sharp breath, "I can't even use the force anymore..." he wanted to cry but he just didn't have the strength. Instead he looked up to Gavyn desperately, searching for any sign of help.
Gavyn's eyebrows knit together for a moment, empathizing with Tyro's concern. However, there was nothing to be concerned about, one couldn't just have the Force knocked out of them by a few injuries. He brushed the hair from Tyro's face. It was usually so full of energy, sticking up on end, the juxtaposition of it hanging limply seemed even more drastic. "The Force has not abandoned you, Tyro. You are exhausted." he said simply. "Just because you can lift things without touching them doesn't mean you are not using your body. You will feel better after you get some sleep and heal up."
A blinking green light on Gavyn's forearm indicated that Ace was trying to reach him. They needed to go over some plans for the next assault on the landers before the Separatists could retake the quarry. Gavyn wished he had a better idea of what they could do. He didn't want to be up all night planning, and walk into battle without an hour's rest. "I need to go. Ace and I need to discuss tomorrow's attack. We don't have much time, and those landers were heavily fortified." He sighed. "We were hoping we could take it with the extra ground troops, but it was…" a massacre. "more than we expected." Gavyn stood up, and he suddenly felt the ache of the bruises on his back. Even sitting still for a few moments made his muscles stiff.
"No!" Tyro grabbed a handful of Gavyn's robes before he even realized what he was doing. "Don't go…" he mumbled. The words felt stupid at his selfishness even as he said them. He didn't want to be left alone here, without the force.
Gavyn turned and knelt back down next to Tyro. He could feel the fear and pain in his apprentice.
It didn't take much though for Tyro to see Gavyn looked tired, he looked like he was in pain. How long had he been awake? The battle sounded like it had gone horribly, and Gavyn was about to go out there just to repeat it all over again? Then it kinda clicked. "Wait...you marched on a lander? Why not just take it out from the inside? Kinda like those tanks we took down. Their systems were garbage, I hacked their communications and piloted that thing at the same time."
Gavyn's eyes widened at the possibility. If they could breach inside, and get control of the defense systems, destroying it would be easy. Of course, inside would be teaming with droids, but machines could be hacked, if Tyro was right about this. There were still very large potential problems he foresaw in the plan, however. Details to arrange.
"Hmm, their systems are not entirely garbage, and the lander is going to be even more complex. A Clone Trooper, or even a Clone Commander would not have been able to get control of a tank beyond piloting it. And those computers are way beyond my skill." Gavyn admitted. Tyro was exceptionally talented with computers, what he thought was simple would be a great challenge to most other people.
Gavyn knew that Tyro would want to help, but he couldn't bring himself to suggest it. Tyro was still weak and exhausted, and Gavyn was not comfortable bringing him back into harms way. It simply wasn't an option to take him out to the field.
"Well then I would do it," Tyro stated, obviously. Gavyn was already giving him a strong look that was impossible to interpret as anything other than "no". "I mean not physically, like hack it remotely, or like tell you...or er...whoever is good on your team what to do. Get me a holocom and whatever of their tech you can scrounge up and I'll figure it out," he finished with the most excited smile his waning strength would allow. "So, what do you say?"
Something about the life in Tyro's eyes at this prospect of helping out warmed Gavyn. As long as Tyro was here, in the hospital and safe, this might not be such a bad idea. A small group could sneak inside- perhaps inside one of those tanks- and Tyro could help them hack the computers from his bed, miles away. He couldn't say no to a plan like that.
"Alright." Gavyn conceded. Before Tyro could get too excited he cut in. "I still need to talk to Ace about what the plan will be. In the meantime, you need to get some rest." He pulled up the bedsheet as he stood up to make his point. "We'll brief you when you wake up." He assured his apprentice. Gavyn hoped that the new sense of purpose would keep Tyro company in his stead, since he still had a lot to attend to. He watched Tyro's expression carefully, not wanting to abandon him while he was still fearful.
"Um hmm," Tyro nodded, already knowing it was a lie, the last of the determined smile slipping from his lips. His body was more exhausted than he could ever remember it being before, like a dead weight dragging him down, but without the force to meditate in it was either keep his mind active or have nothing to focus on but pain, neither of which was very restful. I'd fall asleep eventually he consoled himself, no stranger to wakeful nights of planning.
The sentiment lasted less than a second. Remembering the pain from earlier, any semblance of selflessness escaped his mind. Without the force to comfort him he wasn't feeling like much of a Jedi at all. "Master," he whimpered.
"I'm right here, Tyro." Gavyn eased, calling on the Force as he said the words, reaching out to the boy. Just because he was too tired to manipulate the force, didn't mean he was unaware of it. He filled the trembling fear Tyro was feeling with tranquility, as he took Tyro's good hand.
It was clear to Gavyn that his Padawan was not going to rest easily in this crowded corridor. He was raised in the temple, surrounded by tranquility and privacy. The clones were accustomed to being crowded, and under stress. And if Tyro was going to be instrumental in their next course of action, he was going to need to be well rested.
There was nearly no room next to Tyro on the narrow cot. "Scoot a bit." Gavyn asked, as he gently lifted Tyro's head, and lay it on his lap. He sighed, surprised how nice it was to sit comfortably, with his back against the wall.
Tyro was breathing weakly. He didn't have the control he needed to use the Force to speed his healing. Gavyn offered his own living force to contribute. The bond between Master and Padawan was strong, and between them the Force beat as one. Gavyn closed his eyes, lost in the drifting energy between them, as they gradually slipped away into sleep.
Gavyn's eyes flickered open as he heard the sound of a passing gurney. Tyro was fast asleep in his lap, and by the angle of the sun, not too much time had passed. Gingerly, Gavyn slid from underneath Tyro, resting the boy's head against his pillow.
He hurried down the hallway to the command center, where the Clone Commanders were probably waiting for him. Although he still ached from battle, the few minutes of sleep had done well to shake off the grogginess. Remembering the plan Tyro had suggested, Gavyn was determined to present it to the others; it was just the edge they needed.
"Where have you been?" Stock grunted as Gavyn entered the command center.
"I had to check on my Padawan." Gavyn explained. It was going to take the clones a while to get used to his new responsibility. Being a General had always been his first priority, but being a Master to Tyro was going to challenge his time in the command center for the next few months.
"I told you." Ace said smugly.
Gavyn shot him a knowing glance. He knew that Ace stuck up for him, but it was still not an excuse to ignore his duties. "It was a good thing I did. I think he can help us get past the lander defenses."
Tyro was reluctant to leave the warm comfort of sleep, and, he reasoned for once he had a good excuse not to, but something was nagging at the back of his mind. The last thing he remembered was Gavyn, holding him on his lap, pain and fear slowly melting away, pulling him into sleep. Before that though…the plan! That was it, he needed to be awake and researching, setting up communications, starting on code.
Immediately he pushed himself to sit. He practically screamed at the wave of pain that tore through him. "Son of a Bantha!" He swore, flopping back onto the cot. He took a moment to catch his breath, noting that no real damage had been done. All in all though he felt amazingly better compared to yesterday, as though he had had days to heal rather than a few hours of sleep. There was a feverish ache in his limbs, and now he thought about it he was more hot than warm, but compared to the pain earlier, he would take this any day.
Cautiously, he reached out to the force, just to touch it, to see if it was there. It was as Gavyn had said, it had not abandoned him, its comforting tranquility and life still lingered in the world around him, but he was hesitant to take hold of it just yet. He couldn't let himself be afraid though. Small things, he would start with that, not push it. He settled on reaching out for Gavyn, letting him know he was awake and ready to help. It wasn't something he had often done with his old Master, they seemed to always slip past each other, as though they did not truly see the other, but something about Gavyn seemed to click despite only being around him for less than a month. He wasn't sure if Gavyn had heard him, but at least it seemed possible.
The pain subsided into a dull ache as he opened his eyes again, only to be met with the stares of seemingly every conscious clone in the vicinity. Tyro smiled apologetically, hoping his outburst hadn't woken anyone.
"You okay kid? Do you need us to get the nurse?" The man across from him asked, concerned. His arm was heavily bandaged and from the look of the sheets on the bed he seemed to have lost his left leg. Tyro wasn't sure how bad he looked, but he was pretty sure this guy had it worse.
"Uh, no. I was just being stupid is all...I'm good, thanks." Gingerly he eased himself up to see around the room. It was too late, the nurse was already on her way over.
Quickly he grabbed the attention a passing Captain. "Hey sorry to bother you, er Captain, but do ya think you, or someone else can grab my datapad? It should be with Gav-the General's stuff. And I know this sounds strange, but any disarmed separatist tech would be useful too." Ideally he could get some work in before Gavyn showed up, perhaps earn his keep a bit better.
"Ah, you must be Tyro," he smiled knowingly. "I'll go ask the General"
"You don't have to-" Blast it, the Captain had already made his way halfway across the room. He had to admire a guy with that kind of purpose. So much for getting a head start though.
"Is everything alright?" The nurse asked, picking up his chart from the end of the bed.
"Uh, yeah. I'm okay," Tyro replied, trying to act nonchalant. Gavyn had said he could only help if he was well enough to do so. Without him though they would go forward with the original plan, and there was no reason to believe it would not be as bloody and deadly as it had been the day before. He needed to do this, the 122nd needed him to be well enough to do this.
"What is this about a datapad and tech?" she frowned at him, looking between the readouts and his chart.
"I uh...There's some work I need to do. Nothing big, nothing to worry about."
"You have just had major surgery, you need to be resting, not working."
"It's not as bad as it looks," Tyro protested.
"Hmmm…" she intoned dubiously, checking over his wounds. "Well that is something. No wonder you're so chipper. That's healed quite a bit." She didn't seem satisfied though.
"Yeah, so I'm feeling pretty awake right now. I mean, I'm not going to be going anywhere, so really it's not a problem."
She frowned deeply, checking his temperature. "One hundred and three point five," she read out. She looked very concerned then and started to rattle off something about infections and antibiotics and sleeping more...stuff Tyro neither wanted to, nor had time to think about.
"I feel fine," he protested. Which, as long as he didn't dwell on it he did. He could still think and that was really all that mattered.
"You," She said in a suddenly maternal voice, "are very sick and we need to get your temperature down."
Arguing wasn't really Tyro's style, and she had just given him an idea. He took the time to contemplate his next action, considering the fact that it probably involved more reckless use of the Force that he had just so honestly promised Gavyn that he was done with. This was important though. He was needed.
"Really, you're sure that's right?" he asked, putting his good hand on his forehead. "I don't feel hot or anything. I mean sometimes that stuff doesn't read quite right yeah?There must have been a mistake" He suggested, lacing his words with the Force. Guilt twisted inside him, but Tyro pushed past it with his renewed sense of purpose.
The nurse lay the back of her hand against his cheek as if to appease him, only betraying a moment's surprise before taking his suggestion. "Well, okay then," She acknowledged, looking genuinely surprised. "You feel well then? Are you hungry yet?"
"Starving," he lied.
"I'll have someone bring you food then, let me know right away if you start to feel sick."
"Sure thing, thanks." He waited until she had left the room entirely before he released the Force from his hold. Immediately he started to shiver.
Chapter 9: Please Transmit Your Identification
Gavyn walked briskly down the corridor where Tyro was resting, Ace and two other clones on his heels. He was glad to see his Padawan was already awake, though was clear that Tyro was not feeling well, and Gavyn's heart sunk. He hated to put his apprentice in this position, but at this point the wheels were already in motion. Tyro would just need to perform the best he could for the sake this operation. Kneeling next to the bed, so they were at eye level, Gavyn addressed Tyro. "It's time to start the mission." He didn't bother to ask if Tyro was feeling well while he was shaking in front of him. They just needed to do what needed to be done.
"Give him the...stuff." Gavyn requested of one of the clones. The clone managed to figure out what he meant, and put down a portable holocom on Tyro's lap and moved the medical equipment off a nearby rolling cart for use as a makeshift desk. As they were negotiating using the space for the mission with other injured soldiers around, the Captain returned with Tyro's equipment.
"How long do you think it will take to get to the Lander?" Gavyn asked Ace.
"About 3 hours."
Gavyn nodded. "See what you can do in that time." He gave Tyro the order, unsatisfied with how vague he had to be. He didn't know the first thing about computers, and was a complete fool when it came to technology beyond consumer items. Apparently some Jedi could channel the force through technology, and understand the inner mechanisms better than the average person, but it ability eluded Gavyn. He felt the beat of the Living Force through each being and organism he encountered, but nothing from electronics.
Tyro gingerly shifted into a more comfortable position, propping himself up against the wall and some pillows. There was no way Gavyn had not noticed his condition, and he was grateful to him for not pointing it out or arguing with him on the matter. There was no backing out now, and he wasn't sure he could bring himself to lie to Gavyn about this too. He took a deep breath, and putting on his usual knowing half-grin he shook out his hair, springing it snappily back into its usual signature mohawk. "Okay, let's do this thing," he exhaled, already pulling up dozens of windows between his datapad and the holocom, adjusting settings, searching any existing knowledge of separatist tech, pulling up old work he could repurpose easily.
"Three hours…" he pondered. "That should be good, can't do everything in that time, but I can more than cover the basics." Really he was glad it wasn't more. He was already going to be pushing the limits on staying awake.
They hadn't brought him any of the physical separatist tech, he would have loved to get his hands on...at the very least one of those droids again, but he had done a bit of this in the past so at least he wasn't totally flying blind. Someone seemed to have been keeping pretty good documentation of the stuff however, and after the battle he had some ideas on improvements to some existing scripts and subroutines; really, they were more than covered.
"Ah, aannnndd that'd be their communications," Tyro concluded only a moment later as the crackle of droid voices began to play. "Really, it's like they don't even try. I figure we spy on these...I'll give your guys their channel and encryption, and then when you guys need to strike, we jam them...which I've got just the thing for," he added with a devilish grin. "Only thing is, uh," he said, looking around at the other patients in the room as he realized the noise he was already making, "Ya got a headset or something?"
"General, Commanders," broke in the clone to Tyro's left before anyone else had a chance to reply. "With all due respect Sirs, that will not be a problem."
"I agree with Tar, Sirs, we want to know what's going on." Called another of the soldiers. Tyro concern turned to a grin and he looked over to the clone with a nod. He was willing to bet they had a few ideas about how this could work as well.
"I'll feed you guys the rest as I finish it," Tyro continued to Gavyn and Ace, "I already know what I've got to do, it's just doing it now. I'll transfer the stuff over as I finish it." Tyro looked up over the screen to Gavyn who seemed to be staring into something vast and incomprehensible, "Sooooo, who's my contact then?"
Gavyn blinked at Tyro for a moment, before answering simply. "Ace." Gesturing towards his friend. "I'll back him up." He offered with a sideways grin when Ace shot him a wry glance. Gavyn knew that Ace would be better with whatever systems they encountered, and he was better suited for deflecting blaster bolts in case they were spotted.
"If you have everything ready, we'll depart." Gavyn said curtly. He locked eyes with Tyro before turning around. "May the Force be with you." He told his Padawan sincerely.
There was a short flight on a transport before Gavyn returned to the quarry. The camp had changed drastically in 24 hours, with posts built up to fortify the position. With a handful of scouts and lookouts patrolling the perimeter, the rest of the clones were resting, or preparing for the next confrontation. Gavyn and Ace followed a splicer, Circuit, down to the quarry floor, where he had patched up one of the tanks.
"Well, it won't hold together for long, but it'll at least get off the ground. Mostly." Circuit said. Gavyn was dubious about it regardless, but luckily they wouldn't be running into any fights inside this droid death trap. "I also pulled together these two battle droids. Someone was planning on hacking them?" He asked, looking from Ace to Gavyn.
"Yes, that is the plan." Ace nodded, as he pulled out the portable holocom. He flicked on the switch, illuminating an image of Tyro laying in bed. "Tyro, sir. We have two enemy droids here. Do you think you can patch in?" He asked.
"Got it Commander," acknowledged Tyro, trying not to laugh at being called "Sir". He realized it was probably something he would have to get used to. "Okay, here's what I've got-It's pretty good considering I'm mostly running off assumptions, but I've got a data miner packaged in there. Give me a bit and I'll make any modifications we might need. This should get it up and running and on our side though, I just can't say how stable it'll be yet."
A moment later he heard the unmistakable sound of the droid activating. Through the translucent screen he was holding he saw the clone across from him, the one missing the leg, jump. "Sorry about that," apologized Tyro sincerely.
"It's not your fault Sir," The man corrected.
Why was he suddenly Sir instead of kid? "Say, what's your name?"
"Good to meet you Tracks, I'm Tyro. "And you are?" he nodded to the man to his right.
"Sparks, Tyro, Sir."
Tyro nodded and looked to the man to his left, "and I believe Sparks said your name was Tar, right?"
"Yes Sir." It looked like they were sticking with this titles thing then.
"Oh, and who have you got over there Commander Ace?"
"This here is Circuit," replied Ace.
"Hey Circuit! It's Tracks!" Called the man.
"Tracks! You made it! How are you holding up?" Circuit's voice replied.
Tracks paused, considering his answer. "You'll have to come see me yourself and let me know." He kept a cheery tone but Tyro could feel the defeat beneath it.
"Will do then."
Tyro watched the lines of code back from the Separatist droids fly past him as he talked. There was a lot here, actually probably everything they had. He was proud of his little program, but this was going to take a while to sort through.
"Any of you guys ever hack this tech before?" He was met with silence. "Like, have you ever taken apart one of these droids, or seen their code, or, I dunno, anything?"
"Uh, no sir," Sparks hesitantly replied.
"We don't ever do stuff like this," Tar agreed, "Blast it and move on." Somehow Tyro suspected that Gavyn had something to do with this terrible waste of precious information. Shame, any extra knowledge would have been nice. It looked like he was on his own in this. It was how he usually worked, so, no problems there really.
"Okay, I've got your basics, I think you're good to get going for now. I'll have an update within the hour, let me know if you run across anything else you need."
The droids activated, and formed up around the tank. Two droids were not much of an escort, but they would have to do. Ace nodded to the small hologram of Tyro, "Will do." he said, before the image flickered off. They would still be in touch via comlinks. Gavyn hoisted himself up to the top hatch of the tank, he let Ace crawl inside first, then Circuit. He slipped inside, sitting at the upper turret. Battle droids were significantly slighter than full grown men in armor, and the cockpit of the tank was cramped. At least they each had their own seat, even if they were built for the skeletal frame of battle droids.
Gavyn hunched his wide shoulders as he closed the hatch. With a few flicks of switches, Ace started the engines. They sputtered for a moment, but engaged. The tank lurched upward as the repulsorlifts activated. One of them seemed offline, however, throwing the tank into tilt to the right. "Eh." Ace hesitated. "I think this will still drive"
"Lets just make this quick." Gavyn responded calmly, although his impatience was clear.
The move from the quarry to the lander was tedious. Ace needed to constantly compensate for the leaning tank. The right side hung low, and easily got caught on uneven ground. The two battle droid escorts didn't speed them up either. Regardless of their state of repair, they were clumsy machines. Usually Gavyn was grateful of the fact, but now the characteristic was frustrating.
They ended up making it to the Lander, but an hour later than they expected. Gavyn hoped that Tyro would be able to make use of the extra time to develop more passwords or whatever for the security system. A robotic voice crackled through the speaker.
"Please transmit your identification codes" It ordered coldly.
Ace quickly turned on the holodeck. "Tryo. We need ID, asap! What do I do?"
After four hours of programming, Tyro was entirely lost in an almost meditative state where nothing else seemed to exist. Ace's voice caught him off guard and he jumped, scrambling to reply to the request. "Roger that," he said back, quickly trying to figure out where on earth that information was. For some dumb reason he hadn't even thought of this.
It wasn't hard to find their ID codes, but they needed them transmitted through? Sithspit! He was going to have to find wherever they had buried that below with the rest of their programming.
The seconds were ticking by. He had to do something. Making them say their codes out loud, that was fast, and would hopefully be enough of a distraction for him to work on the real solution. He ran the simpler script.
The droid hadn't even finished getting the words out of its voice box when the unmistakable sound of blaster fire crackled through his speakers. It's feed on his datapad screen went blank. "Kriffing…" Tyro hissed. Clearly any deviation from their usual programming was grounds for execution. A second later, a second shot and he lost the other droid too.
On the surface, Tyro kept his composure, his mind still running through possible solutions, contingency plans, where to go next, but inside-this was one stress to many at the moment. All that work…Usually he never screwed up this bad...
"Sir! The tank!" Sparks shouted "You need to ID the tank!"
"Right!" The tank! Perhaps not everything was lost then. If he could run the code he had come up with for the droids through the tank it would only strengthen his bluff that there were in fact droid pilots. It took barely a moment to copy the code over and transmit the data. He watched, breathing quickly, heart racing. If he screwed up on this…he wasn't even going to think about what would happen if he screwed this up too.
For some unholy reason the nurse chose this exact moment to re-enter the room, looking clearly unhappy. He didn't have time for that right now. He looked back to his screen.
"Carry on," Came the crackle of the security droid. Tyro, Tracks, Tar, and Sparks let out a collective breath.
"Geez," panted Tyro, leaning back and holding his injured arm with a shaking hand. "Thanks Sparks, I...thanks."
He opened his eyes to look back to the screen only to lock his gaze with the nurse instead. She had already been in earlier to scold him for not eating his food, which had been replaced with a now untouched glass of water. She looked like she was about to have a word with him that he would rather not have Ace, Gavyn, and Circuit hear. They looked to be managing fine for the moment; he quickly muted his end of the communications.
Instead of yelling though she gently placed a hand over Tyro's, looking him sternly in the eye. "You are not well. None of you are. This is too much stress."
"No you are not, your readings are all off and you are running a fever."
Oh. "Look, I'm sorry I lied about this earlier," she had clearly already pieced this together by now, "but this is important. It's either me, straining myself a little now, or casualties like you saw last battle. You can do whatever you want with me as soon as I'm done with this, but I need to be here, working with this tech right now."
The nurse held his gaze for a moment, trying to decide, before coming to a compromise. "I'm going to comm your surgeon," she let him know, "but... if your end of this is so important then it seems like my civic duty to make sure you boys can carry on. I'll do what I can, it's why we're all here, isn't it?" She gave a wry smile.
Tyro nodded gratefully as she stepped to the side, unmuting his end of the communications as she left. "You guys alright in there?"
Gavyn's heart jumped to his throat when the first, then the second battle droids were shot down. Clearly they didn't mess around - malfunctioning battle droids were expendable. Something about the idea of being stuck inside a tank while he got shot to pieces shook him to his core. It was a claustrophobic, helpless death.
Fortunately, Tyro managed to transmit something, because somehow they were allowed to pass. Gavyn waited with bated breath as they crossed the threshold into the lander. The living force passed through droids, and he felt blind to how many or where the danger was outside of the tank as they docked. All he knew is that they were in great peril here. Circuit, Ace and him were going to have to have all their wits about them. The lander was probably swarming with enemies.
Ace backed the tank up into line, until a magnet caught the back and locked the tank into place. Parking was jarring, since the tank was so far askew due to the broken repulsorlift. When the tank settled, Gavyn slowly let out the breath he only now realized he was holding.
Ace gestured upward, and Gavyn nodded. Until they were sure the coast was clear, they were going to need to communicate silently. Right on cue, Tyro's image flashed up in the holocom. Ace kept the image muted, however, and pressed a finger to where his lips would be on his mask. The image flickered off.
Gavyn slowly lifted the hatch to the tank, just a crack. He peered out, there were not too many droids in the area, and they all seemed to be busy with repairs on other tanks. They had been directed to maintenance. There was a clear shot to the corridor towards the computer terminal if they hurried. Gingerly, he flipped the hatch open, careful not to make noise. He vaulted over the back, and landed silently on his leather boots behind the cover of the docked tank.. The clones were not going to be as graceful. He made a quick hand motion as Circuit poked his head through the hatch, and he nodded. Quietly, he jumped, and Gavyn caught him before his plastoid armor could crash against the ground. Ace was next, and Gavyn grabbed him out of the air, and set him softly on the floor. Nobody seemed to notice them, even as the maintenance crew moved over to inspect the ride they came in on.
"Where are the pilots?" One droid asked.
"Must be getting repairs in the other bay" The other responded, although Gavyn couldn't help but hear doubt in the droid's voice. Could droids feel doubt?
Silently, the three moved down the hallway, searching the corners of the ceiling for cameras or other security. Gavyn kept his lightsaber in hand, but deactivated, the clones had their blasters at the ready. The disturbance Gavyn had felt in the force suddenly burst. He stopped immediately, Ace and Circuit expertly matching pace. With a gesture, Gavyn pointed out the security cameras and sensors down the corridor. They weren't going to leave a computer terminal without surveillance.
Ace pulled the holodeck from his pocket. He did a quick scan of the room and transmitted the data to Tyro. They watched the muted hologram from a darkened corner until they could get the all clear… and just hope droids didn't find them first.
Chapter 10: Teamwork
Tyro made sure he muted his end of the communication-just in case-before declaring "They're in," with a relieved grin. He could feel everyone around him, the nurse included, relax.
She pulled up a chair between him and Tar, looking on keenly. For the most part she was silent, but there was the occasional comment-a compliment on something especially clever, a helpful suggestion of something he might have missed. "
You...really know this stuff, don't you?" Tyro turned to her finally.
She looked like she was about to laugh at his surprise. "It is not as though I have been working in a field hospital my entire life."
Tyro considered this for a moment, surprised at the subversion of his assumptions. "I'm Tyro by the way...though I suppose you probably already read that…" he trailed off, deciding that hospitals made for awkward introductions.
"Ainya," she replied, seeming to not mind. She smiled for a moment before her eyes flicked over to the holocom. Tyro followed her gaze.
He stared at the data on his screen for a moment too long. "Ah, security camera, ten o'clock," Ainya mentioned at his hesitation. As much as it might have been instinct to tell her he knew that...he honestly did not. He had to admit that most things military were foreign to him.
"Thanks," he nodded gratefully, hoping Ace saw it as an acknowledgement as well over their still muted communications. It took him barely seconds to have it hacked and looped before he gave a thumbs up to Ace. Ace acknowledged back.
His end of the communications dipped out for a moment and then, specs for a ship computer popped up. Nice. He grinned, brain already working on what he had for this as Circuit patched him in.
He almost had everything in order when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He jumped at the touch, looking up to meet the dark eyes and sharp posture of a stern, well trimmed human man. There was something familiar about him that Tyro could not quite place. His gaze did not hold the same excitement as the others in the room, and judging by the pale teal surgical scrubs, Tyro had a good guess who this was.
He fought the urge to give Ainya a look of pure betrayal. Before anyone could say anything though she spoke up. "You can have at him in a moment, just let him finish this."
Tyro turned his mind back to his work. Well, this was better than he had ever expected or could have hoped. This computer was networked to all sorts of things. He could practically do anything he wanted save pilot the ship itself. For instance…deliver that little program of his to all the droids on the vessel at the moment. He had had a far more productive last four hours than he could have hoped.
With a few more checks and a devious grin he uploaded the code. It would be only a matter of moments before every droid on the ship was his command-well every droid who had it installed correctly. Already it was returning to him data from the ships computers. He picked out the blueprints as something useful to transmit back to Ace and Circuit.
"What else do I grab?" He asked the group.
"Any details you can find on their movements, future plans of attack," replied Tracks immediately.
"Weapons systems," Tar added.
Tyro acknowledged, picking out the pieces and transmitting them over to Ace. The surgeon seemed to be growing rather impatient and had pulled Ainya to the side. Tyro's traitorous, multitasking mind decided that he could focus on both things at once. As lines of data scrolled past he picked out pieces of their conversation.
"...eaten anything in the last few hours?"
"No, nothing at all yet."
"Good, good. Don't give him anything, just in case. In the meantime, run these tests…"
Tyro looked fiercely back to his work "Transmission Log," he read off "can they still use that?"
"Yeah, good idea," confirmed Tar. Tyro sent that over as well as Ainya took the seat next to him, with a tray of supplies.
She looked over to the screens before even venturing to say anything. Once she was satisfied they had a few moments she spoke. "I won't distract you for long," she assured, "Some of this stuff just takes a while to analyze."
Tyro watched her, trying his best to relax, to put his mind to anything else other than fear. Ainya's expression had softened to one of something akin to nostalgia it seemed. "What are you thinking about?" he ventured.
"My little sister," she started. "That braid of yours made me think of it. I didn't really ever see her, but we were all proud of her. You think I know a fair amount about computers? At the age of four she was brilliant. I hear she was far better than I ever was. They told us she would have made a good Jedi Knight one day."
"What happened to her?" Tyro asked, engrossed enough in her story to keep his own discomfort at the back of his mind.
Ainya waited until she was done with him before replying. "She's why I joined the war effort. She was only three years older than you are now...it was the beginning of this war."
"I'm sorry to hear that," he murmured sympathetically. Sometimes he couldn't shake the feeling that Jedi weren't meant for war.
"Thank you," she smiled, standing up to deliver her tray to a waiting med droid. "Looks like we're just in time, your upload is finished."
Tyro nodded, turning back to his screen. "Got it from here?" he typed.
Ace nodded a confirmation into the holocom. The mask made his countenance look severe, but Gavyn could sense that underneath it he was grinning. He moved the holocom to the computer console, as Circuit plugged in a splicing device. Gavyn stood with his back to the computer console, his lightsaber in hand and ready to be activated a moment's notice. Presumably they got the information they needed from Tyro to proceed and shutdown the systems.
"The code Tyro sent us is going to take a while to install onto these systems. This port is a bit outdated, and slow." Circuit said, frowning. Gavyn didn't like that at all, he didn't want to linger, and technology was more stubborn than living beings. You couldn't insist on it hurrying up.
Familiar metal footsteps could be heard echoing down the corridor before they could see the droids. They were going to be seen, but a fight would alert the whole ship.
Gavyn gestured to Ace to put away his blaster, while Circuit crouched next to the computer terminal, blaster ready just in case. Darting to the opposite side of the corridor, Gavyn pressed himself against the wall behind a support column. Ace knelt across from him, ready to flank the droids. As they rounded the corner, they could see three of them.
The droids were less than three meters away before either of them dared to move, or even breathe. Expertly, they dashed towards the patrol.
Gavyn grabbed the nearest droid's head, twisting it completely off. Ace used his rifle to trip one, crashing his foot through the droid's power box as it hit the floor. The third droid barely had time to raise it's blaster, but Gavyn caught the barrel before it could fire, twisting it out of his grasp. The droid's feebly tried to grapple with him, but Ace helped yank it off and smash it against the wall, grinding the life out of the whirring metal parts.
It had caused a clatter, but nothing to the severity of blaster fire or the hum of a lightsaber. Gavyn caught Ace's eye, sharing a proud moment. Over the course of the Clone Wars they had learned to be an efficient team. It was strange to Gavyn to be able to read someone so well who wasn't Force-Sensitive. Then again, after four years together, Gavyn had never been so close with anyone who wasn't a Jedi before either.
With the danger gone, Circuit moved his rifle to his back and turned to the terminal again. "Just a few more seconds… done." He said, with finality.
"I guess that's it then." Ace mused. He opened the holodeck. "Did it work? Are the droids under your command?" He said skeptically. There wasn't exactly fireworks to indicate danger had cleared.
"Yeah, you're good. These guys are mine. Well, as much as they can be. They're still enemy tech at their core, keep an eye out, but you guys should be pretty safe now. I grabbed the rest of the ship's cameras while I was at it. You got that map right? I haven't had a chance to study it yet but we should be able to figure out what to do from here."
A chill suddenly ran through Tyro's body as he finished speaking. He tried to make it look like he was just readjusting his position, pulling the covers around him as though he were moving them out of the way or something, but he could feel he was running out of strength to fight this. He was just going to have to keep busy.
Tyro pulled up the schematic on his own screen. "What do you guys think?" He asked the group. "I've got some ideas but I don't know nearly as much about these things as you probably do."
"If you can get to the command deck you can probably get access to the ship's main computer. You've got your navigation, weapons systems, you name it there," responded Sparks knowingly.
"They're going to likely have a Commander on a thing that big. We've been at it on this planet for too long for them not to. I'll bet we can confirm that with the transmission log," filled in Tracks.
"Yep," confirmed Tyro with a sigh a few keystrokes and a search later. "That they do." He inhaled sharply, pulling the blankets up even further, fighting the urge to shiver. "So what do we do about it?"
"Just blow the whole thing up, that's usually what I do," stated Tar. Tyro laughed, only to look over and see the man did not appear at all to be joking.
"You know though...All these droids came from that lander at some point right?" Tyro proposed. Tracks nodded, watching to follow his train of thought. "So I don't see why we just can't recall them back to the ship, send it off planet, and then, well…just blow the whole thing up." He smirked slightly at the phrasing.
"Got an escape plan?" Tracks reminded him.
"Right! Thanks. Uhhh…"
"There's probably an escape pod somewhere near where they'll be. There usually is," suggested Ainya.
Tyro nodded. "Good point. Oh, yeah, right there. You guys catch all that?"
"So main computer, let me know when I'm good to do something with that. I'm uh...going to mute this end for now, let you contact me so I don't compromise your position or anything."
As soon as Tyro silenced his end he wrapped his arms over his datapad, curling up around it under the covers, making room for the holocom in his new horizontal position. Ainya didn't say anything as she reached out another blanket to cover him.
Chapter 11: Last Stand
All Gavyn caught was that they needed to get to the main control room to move forward. Supposedly, the Droids shouldn't present them with anymore trouble. When Tyro's image flickered away, a three dimensional schematic of the lander appeared in it's place. Circuit pointed to the bridge. "Well, that is where we need to be." He rotated the map. "This is where we are."
"Looks like there is an elevator shaft almost directly there." Ace commented. They slung their weapons over their shoulders and hurried down the corridor. They passed several battle droids, idling in the hallway. Clearly some of them had been going somewhere, and now they simply watched passively as the group walked by. Their blank stares gave Gavyn chills, although he felt no danger from them through the Force.
They reached the elevator quickly and glad to see that Tyro had granted them access. When the doors opened, it revealed a pile of deactivated battle droids. Clearly they had been in the elevator when their new programming kicked in. They sprawled haphazardly across the floor, Gavyn and the clones stepped gingerly over them to press the button to get to the top floor, and the elevator roared to life.
Everything seemed to be going great, but Gavyn couldn't help but feel a dark ripple as they rode the elevator. "This all seems a bit too easy." He muttered. Circuit rolled his eyes, aware of Gavyn's hesitance of technological solutions, but Ace seemed edgy as well. He trusted Gavyn's instincts, and did not trust separatists even more.
The elevator opened directly into the main control room. Ace raised his blaster, scanning the room. The battle droids and armed guards stood idly by, gazing off at nothing.
The General, the only living thing on the Lander, turned around, hands in the air. He was a Neimoidian, although he seemed portlier and saggier than usual. The war was taking a toll on everyone. "Please! Don't shoot! The droids have been deactivated! I'm helpless!" He cried.
"Pathetic." Scoffed Circuit. He kept his blaster trained on the General, as he strode forward to handcuff him. Before the clone could reach him, however, one of the armed guards sprung to life. He plowed into Circuit, sending the clone spiraling across the room.
Gavyn's lightsaber was active in an instant. He leaped forward at the droid guard, and swung down with all his might. The blue blade of his lightsaber crashed hard against the pink lightning of the MagnaGaurd's electrostaff. He ducked as the droid whipped the staff over his head, and spun to try and jab at the droid's unprotected abdomen.
With surprising agility, it jumped back, then used the momentum to leap directly back at Gavyn. It took all of the Jedi's concentration to block the unrelenting torrent of blows.
Out of nowhere, a streak of red light flashed by, taking half of the droid's skull with it. Gavyn turned to see Ace lower is rifle- but also to see half a dozen more droids activate. The General just laughed.
"Did you really think the MagnaGaurd could be hacked through a network like that?" He chuckled, as the droids advanced on them.
Circuit's eyes flickered open as he heard the General. That bastard. He scrambled towards the computer jack and plugged in a transmitter linked directly to Tyro. He might not be able to seize the droids, but he would be able to seize any auto turrets, cameras or circuits in the room. Not to mention get control of the main computer that drove the ship.
Tyro blinked, trying to clear his head as the specs for the ship's main computer popped up onto his screen. It had been all he could do to not fall asleep but everything was hazy. There was no accompanying communication from Gavyn's side of things. He frowned and poked at the datapad and brought up the security cameras linked to the terminal. There were Gavyn and Ace, standing side by side, clearly deciding how to take on the six droids that were closing in on them, brandishing arcing electrostaves. He couldn't even tell where Circuit was.
"I...didn't get 'em all," he muttered, wincing as he weakly pushing himself up with his good arm. Of course he hadn't, he knew from the beginning there would be no way to account for all contingencies such as this, but he still felt responsible.
There was no time for guilt though, besides, it wasn't his thing. Probably just the fever and slowly building pain talking as his control over his body continued to slip from his grasp. There were no excuses, there were solutions.
First thing, those droids. If he could overload those circuits closest to them...thankfully this was their command center- they didn't put everything on the same one…
Tyro shifted, trying to free up his arm to type with but his body was just not obeying. Wordlessly Ainya put a hand behind his back, lifting him into a more convenient position. Tyro silently thanked her for preserving the small bit of dignity he had left. A simple command later and he could see the sparks and flame shoot from the back half of the room where the droids were. The five of them watched as the smoke settled revealing the only one droid left standing.
"Damn," whistled Tar. "I've got to learn that one."
"Remind me...to teach you sometime," Tyro grinned shakily through chattering teeth. He was already halfway through gaining access to the ship's controls in the main computer. Over the top of his datapad he could see Ainya and Tar look up at something but he couldn't break his concentration right now. His ears honed in on the sound of rushed footsteps though as Ainya stood up.
"Prep him for surgery now." Tyro bristled at the sound of of the surgeon's voice, some stupid part of his brain holding out for the hope that he might not be talking about him. It took all his discipline not to look up, not to get distracted. He had to focus on this and...there! Got it! Ship navigation was his, and soon to be Ace's once he was done with that last droid, and whatever they had planned for the General.
Ainya stood up and stepped to the side to discuss with the doctor, revealing Tar who was looking at him like he was a dead thing. Tyro shot him a look of "Don't even…" but couldn't shake the feeling he was missing his usual presence. No, he couldn't have distractions right now. He turned back to his work. Weapons systems...he squinted, trying to focus his vision.
Ainya's conversation with the surgeon drifted over to him despite his efforts not to listen. They had stepped out of what should have been earshot, but stupid Jedi hearing... "What's going on? Did you figure out..."
"We missed this earlier--"
"You haven't even had time to get all those tests back," she said skeptically.
The surgeon was beyond the pleasantries of a quiet voice. "I don't need them all back, I have enough to know either I operate now, or he dies."
Tyro looked up at that. They all did. It wasn't the kind of thing you could just ignore. It was especially something Tyro could not ignore, because...he could feel it was true. The avoidance of that admission had been his last holdout. Everyone was staring at him now. He opened his mouth to protest, but felt a wave of nausea wash over him instead. Great, the last thing he needed to do was throw up in front of everyone right now. Shakily he tried to push himself up, away from all his tech. What was there even for him to throw up? He hadn't eaten for two...nearly three days? Blood. Apparently that was the answer, he noted as he spat out a mouthful of red into a basin Ainya had somehow managed to miraculously produce. Awesome. Just what I need right now. Hands were holding him steady as Ainya wiped his face with a cool cloth before resting him gently back down on the bed.
"We don't have time for this!" The surgeon demanded.
Ainya nodded, face set in a dutiful frown. She returned to his view a moment later with a hypo.
From the corner of his eye he could make out the ship's General. Taking advantage of the distraction and the clearing smoke to make his way to ships controls. No. He wasn't done yet! He didn't have control over their weapons systems, or even…Tyro pushed against the surgeon's grasp trying to reach his datapad...disable those systems before…
It was too late. Suddenly the Droid army outside the ships sprang to formation.
"No," He croaked, "Ainya please. They're…" he gestured weakly at the camera feed. He could tell from her expression she saw what he did.
"Tyro…" she said helplessly.
"No." He stated it more firmly now. "You take me now, they die. Those forces march on us, we all die."
That gave them pause. Long enough for him to enter the last of the code into the computer and take control of their weapons systems.
Chapter 12: Commander Tyro Reval
A sharp jolt through the Force signaled Gavyn to get down. He dived at Ace, and hit the ground just as the the consoles between them and the droids exploded in a shower of sparks and fire. They could feel the heat of the explosions on their backs.
Gavyn looked through the haze of smoke, and was pleased to see the droids as charred wreckage. He pulled himself to his feet, just as a final droid hobbled out of the smoke. It was damaged, but that didn't stop it from taking a swing at Gavyn. The Jedi tried to leap over the blow, but he misjudged the height.
The electrostaff caught him on the back of the calf. It bit through his armor, burning his flesh through the plastic and cloth. Gavyn roared in pain, swinging his lightsaber at the droid. The MagnaGaurd quickly shifted to block the attack with the end of the staff. Gavyn could feel his injured leg shaking under the stress. He struggled to let the Force pass through him, and guide his blows with his leg throbbing, and it took all his effort to parry the droid's attacks.
Ace picked himself up, and raised his blaster. With Gavyn and the Droid locked in combat, it was clear that he wasn't going to be able to get a clear shot. A sense of helplessness gripped Ace, he could see how Gavyn was favoring his right leg from the injury, it was only a matter of time before the Droid exploited it. But the Droid was also favoring it's unscathed leg as well… Ace dashed forward. He ducked a whirling electrostaff, and threw a kick at the hinged knee of the droid. The droid buckled, and stabbed at Ace as it stumbled over. The electrostaff scraped across his shoulders as it knocked him to the ground. He could feel the burn from the lightning, but the staff did not pierce his armor.
On queue, the turrets dropped from the ceiling, and angled at the droid. The blaster bolts quickly ripped the MagnaGaurd to shreds. Gavyn scrambled to Ace's side to help his friend stand up.
"Are you okay?" Gavyn asked earnestly. Ace was a trained fighter, but he didn't have the benefits of Jedi healing or reflexes. Not to mention an injured clone wasn't worth much in the eyes of many people, and unfortunately, many people in charge.
Ace was stiff from the shock, but he had no problem getting back to his feet. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Another wave of darkness crossed through the Force to Gavyn. Something was not right.
"The droids army is here!" Circuit reported, distress in his voice. Gavyn frowned deeply. That must be the cause of his disquiet. Even as he formed the thought, he couldn't help but think there was something else happening. Distantly, there was trouble.
There wasn't time to meditate on the signals of the Force at the moment, they needed to get the ship off the ground and ready to blow.
Circuit scrambled around the cockpit, pressing buttons and reading charts. The separatist General, who had taken cover for the duration of the fighting, slowly peered over one of the consoles. "There is no way you can get this ship to fly. You need half a dozen droids coordinated across the ship, and they are no longer under your control!" He sneered. Gavyn could feel the heat of Circuit's glare, which meant that the separatist was right.
"Cuff him." Gavyn commanded decisively. "We'll just blow the ship from the ground."
Ace spoke into the comlink. "Nice work with those weapons, Tyro. Any way you can get them to discharge here - we have to destroy the ship from the ground." There wasn't an answer right away. Ace adjusted the holocom to show an image. The hair on Gavyn's neck stood up. Tyro looked terrible- even sicker than how they had left him.
"Tyro…" He stepped forward, unsure of exactly where to stand to be in the hologram's image. "Hang in there."
Tyro smiled weakly at the half image of Gavyn. "Sure...thing, Master. I'll...clear...you an escape route while I rig...those weapons."
Ainya opened her mouth to protest but the surgeon shook his head in defeat. It was hard to focus past the building pain, but at least he had stopped shivering. A bead of sweat dripped down the side of his face as he pushed forward, trying to get as much in as he could before the two changed their minds. Compared to earlier this was slow going, but he didn't want to make any mistakes. "'m sorry," he mumbled over the communications after quite a few minutes had passed. It took a few more before he was sure he had it. "Got it," he commed over to Ace. "You should...be clear...t' get out. I'll wait…out of area before...blow it up."
Tyro lay back, wrapping his arms around his stomach feebly as though that could do anything to stop the fiery pain. "Tyro," Ainya said softly brushing the sweat soaked hair from his face with a cool cloth, but he could hear the urgency in her tone. "We can't wait much longer. "
"Can't…" he protested, "Not until...safe."
"What are our orders Commander?" Tracks spoke suddenly.
Tyro looked over confused. "You want...me t' relay...that to Ace?"
"No Sir." Chimed in Sparks succinctly. "We were talking to you Commander."
Tyro knitted his brow. "I'm not…"
"We're waiting for our orders Commander." Tar spoke seriously, though Tyro could detect the slightest hint of a smile.
Tyro looked up to Ainya as though she might be the last holdout of sanity left here. She only smiled, "You can't do everything on your own. Sometimes the best way to help is by letting others help you. Whatever does the most good, right?"
She was right, Tyro couldn't argue there. "Fair," he smiled, "What's everyone's thing then?"
"Heavy weapons, Sir," replied Tar proudly. Yep, that made sense.
"Technician," stated Sparks simply.
"And I am," Tracks paused, frowning slightly, "...was a scout."
Tyro nodded, taking this in. "Tracks, I...need...make sure th' area's all clear before...explosions. No...no lifeforms." Tyro watched him a bit unsure that he would be able to. "I...got it all set up. Not...difficult...just have to make sure."
"That should not be a problem sir," Tracks replied with a calm confidence. The man gave off the air that he had been doing this for a long time.
"Sparks, double...check all systems. It...shouldn't fail but...someone's got to warn them if...does."
"Got it Commander," Sparks assured.
"And Tar, ya...want to do the honors?"
"Absolutely Sir," Tar replied jovially.
Tyro looked back to Ainya after she had finished helping distribute the tech to whoever needed it. "I can't go with you, I have to stay with the patients out here, make sure everything's okay for them, but I'll be here when you're back." She gave a devious half-grin. It was the final assurance he had needed, if anything went wrong, she seemed to know enough to help backup the others.
Tyro pulled up the holocom one last time. "I uh...I have to go now. You should...have every...thing you need though. Tracks's your contact. May the force be with you." He watched the image flicker off as Ainya took the holocom from him, delivering it over to Tracks.
Seeing he was finally free of all his tech and immediate responsibility the surgeon quickly began checking him over. "Yeah, this is what I thought. Let's get moving on this."
Tyro wanted to protest but he was out of excuses. He just wished that he could make sure Gavyn, Ace, and Circuit were able to make it out okay. He knew though that he had to trust his troops.
"You did an amazing job," Ainya comforted, watching his expression. "Now you have to let us do ours." He still couldn't keep the look of apprehension from his face. "It's okay." She sat down next to him, holding his hand as the drug they had given him took effect. "We'll let it set in for a bit before we move you, make sure they get out okay." she gave a knowing smile. Tyro tightened his grip around her hand.
Despite the concern now that they needed to get off the ship before the weapons blew, and before the Droid army found them, Gavyn could not help but think about Tyro. He needed to get back immediately. He could help his Padawan if he could get back immediately.
Ace could see how Tyro's illness affected the General. He had heard about the connections between Jedi Masters and their apprentices, but he had never known Gavyn while he had an apprentice training under him."We'll retrace our route to get out of here." He told both Circuit and Gavyn, unsure if Gavyn was going to give them a command. The Jedi was grateful to follow Ace back down the elevator and through the corridors of the ship.
They didn't meet any resistance inside the ship, but that didn't mean they were safe. The army outside had time to surround the ship. It was going to be difficult to get past them.
"Let's take another tank!" Circuit suggested.
Ace barked back at him. "We needed Tyro to hack them, remember!"
"What's the plan then? We can't exactly sneak by them!" Circuit argued. "They'll see us as soon as we open a door."
Gavyn brows knitted. They couldn't stay on the ship, although the weapons were not going to go off until they were clear. But outside, the Droids would fire at enemies on sight.
"We have a hostage." Gavyn settled. The Commander quivered as Gavyn's sharp blue eyes fell on him. "They won't fire on us with him with us. We'll make a run for it."
Ace and Circuit glanced at each other, but neither had a better plan. "Alright. Let's do it." Circuit nodded, pushing the Separatist to the door.
In a coordinated effort, Ace slammed the control panel, swinging open the door. Gavyn sprinted forward, his lightsaber blazing. There were a handful of shots fired, which he deflected back at the droids.
Gavyn let the fear pass through him when he saw there were hundreds of them, from all directions. Circuit followed in his wake, gruffly pulling their hostage along with them. It did seem to be helping, many of the Droids stalled, only firing when they had an extremely clear shot.
Ace blazed forward, cutting a path through the droids with rapid blaster fire. He tried to ignore the sheer numbers of them, focusing on one foe at a time. Just one more down, and they could make it one more step. Just one more down after that. Between Ace's offensive, and Gavyn's defense, they plowed their way through the Droid line.
As soon as the line was clear, the three could move faster. They started to jog, firing back at the line, then started to make a run for it. The Separatist General couldn't keep up with the soldiers and stumbled, Circuit fell behind to drag him along.
Gavyn turned around just in time to see the Separatist fall to the ground, leaving Circuit standing exposed to the Droid army, no hostage getting in the way.
The fury of the blaster fire was deafening. Gavyn swung his lightsaber in just time to deflect the shots that strayed too close to him and Ace, but Circuit was meters away.
Gavyn and Ace dropped to the ground. They crawled forward, to Circuit and the hostage. The separatist was squirming in his restraints, and Circuit's armor was shredded with blaster fire. Ace pointed his blaster at their hostage, until he stood back up, then grabbed him roughly by his collar. Gavyn could feel anger and loss in Ace. It was understandable, but Gavyn tried to deal with death more tenderly. He picked up Circuit's body, lifting it limply over one shoulder.
"Blow up the damn ship!" Ace shouted into the comlink, his voice cracking. There was a distant "yessir" before an echo rattled the ground. Flames spat from the ship, blowing apart huge sections of the hull. Many of the droids were caught in the blast, and the rest started the scatter. It was an opportunity to escape.
They ran for what felt like an age. The weight of Circuit continued to grow heavier and heavier, and the hostage grew slower and slower, yet Gavyn could not shake the image of Tyro slowly slipping away under blinding hospital lights. Finally, a landing vehicle descended in front of them, and they collapsed to the floor, before it could even hit the ground. It felt far away as the clones inside dealt with the hostage and Circuit's body. Gavyn was exhausted, and when Ace took his helmet off it was clear he was too.
They had made it through one more battle together. Each time, with so much death and injury around them, surviving seemed to surprise Gavyn. It was hard to celebrate after carrying a casualty on your back for hours. As far as he was concerned, the battle wasn't over yet. Tyro's life was still be on the line.
Ace noticed the worry in Gavyn's eyes. He edged closer to the Jedi, but there was nothing he could say to comfort him that Gavyn didn't know already. Instead, Ace rested his eyes, leaning softly against Gavyn's broad shoulder.
Gavyn didn't know if the flight back to the base was too long or too short. Either way, it did nothing to ease his exhaustion or disquiet.
Chapter 13: Recovery
As soon as the lander hit the ground, Gavyn was already hurrying to the med bay. Ace could take care of their new hostage. Gavyn had to find Tyro. Last he had seen him was over the holocom, and Tyro did not look good then. The Force was fading from him, and Gavyn could hardly pick up his presence.
He rushed to the OR first, but he was nowhere to be seen. "Where is Tyro?" Gavyn asked, pulling a nurse aside. She pointed him to the recovery unit, and Gavyn dashed off before saying another word.
Gavyn found Tyro asleep, in the recovery unit. There were all manner of monitors hooked up to him, beeping peacefully. He breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled a rolling stool up next to the bed.
"We haven't been able to wake him yet," the accented voice of a blue-feathered Omwati woman drifted over the whirrs and beeps of machines. "He is very sick, very weak."
Gavyn brushed the hair from Tyro's face, surprised and saddened by how cold it felt. He shared some of his own life force with his Padawan. The effort made him a bit dizzy, already exhausted from the battle, but he had to try.
There was the Force. That was the first thing Tyro noticed. He reached out towards it until at last he had the strength to open his eyes. He felt Gavyn's presence next, the warmth of his hands, before his eyes were able to focus. Gavyn was safe then. That was good. Something felt off though. Was Gavyn hurt? Had something gone wrong? "Did it work?" he whispered hopefully, his voice permitting him nothing more.
"It worked." Gavyn assured him softly. The mission wasn't completed without cost, however. They had lost Circuit to battle droids, and Gavyn's leg was still injured. Running to escape the Lander explosion had not done it any favors either. Now that he knew Tyro was going to be okay, he could stop and consider patching himself up at all.
Gavyn looked down at his Padawan, emotion boiling inside of him. He was so proud of Tyro for coming through, pushing himself to the edge of his limits. They could not have done the mission without him. At the same time, he could hardly stand the idea that he had put his new apprentice in so much danger. He had been reckless to think that a student could just tag along in battle because he was a few extra years of experience.
It was something that Gavyn knew he needed to resolve on his own time. He would come up with a plan for Tyro's training so this would never happen again. What was important was that they had a victory today, and Tyro was truly a hero.
A grin spread across Gavyn's face. "You did great today, Tyro." What Gavyn lacked in eloquence, he made up for in sincerity. "You have done so much more today than I ever thought I'd ask of you." A Jedi was not supposed to feel pride, but Gavyn couldn't help but feel it rising in his chest, tearing up his eyes. He just wanted to hug Tyro tight, but the boy was in no shape. Instead he simply held his hand, trying not to disturb his injuries.
Tyro smiled weakly, closing his eyes to rest them for a moment. He gripped Gavyn's hand, pulling him close, as close as the innumerable tubes and wires he was attached to would allow, relaxing in the comfort of having someone who cared.
His old master had always been supportive of him but that felt different, now he had something else to compare it to. There had been a kind of ownership in his pride. Gavyn hadn't been upset at him for screwing up earlier, he hadn't accused him of abandoning his duty, he didn't think he was weak. None of those things he had worried someone like Gavyn would be critical of. What was more, he had saved his life, in more ways than one. As strange as it was he was much happier here, knowing he was able to save lives, make a large and immediate difference, rather than be stuck fixing farm equipment back on Tirahann. He pushed all his gratitude and appreciation back to his Master. "Thanks," he whispered, looking back up to him.
"...need..tell Ace, Circuit thanks too. Did Tracks and everyone help? ...Think...wanted to see Circuit too. Send him by...we made...good team...bet...can...again."
Gavyn was hoping that he wouldn't need to tell Tyro about losing Circuit so soon, but there was no avoiding it now. He looked Tyro evenly in the eyes. "I'm sorry." He said. "Circuit didn't make it back."
Gavyn hadn't given himself the opportunity to let himself feel the loss, wrapped up in his concern for Tyro's safety. He felt it now, as though saying it out loud made it real. Despite how much death Gavyn saw regularly, he gave each loss a moment of reflection. Circuit was a great soldier. He didn't always see eye to eye with Gavyn, but he was unshakably loyal, and more skilled with machines than Gavyn could ever hope to be.
Death was heavy in the Jedi order as of late, it seemed that every few weeks another brother or sister fell to this war. However, Gavyn wasn't sure how closely it had ever impacted Tyro. "Soldiers are lost in war, Tyro. Your friends will be lost in this war as well. Reflect on the loss, but you must be prepared to let them go."
Gavyn told Tyro from the heart. The first months of the Clone Wars had been hard on him. He got along well with the clones, unlike many, and found it difficult to be surrounded by casualties on that scale. Eventually, Gavyn managed to find a process to meditate on the loss around him and let it go, but it was not an easy discipline to find. And even now, he wondered how ready he truly was to let his brothers in arms go. Could he command them to complete a mission if it meant victory as well as certain death? What if Ace had fallen instead of Circuit? It was these sort of thoughts that troubled him at night.
"Mm," Tyro acknowledged. He had never really known Circuit but it was disappointing. He wondered for a moment if he should feel responsible in some way. Perhaps he should, but reflecting on it he wasn't sure what else he might have done.
What was most saddening though was the loss of a future that might have been. Tyro gripped Gavyn's hand tightly, letting himself feel it all for a moment, appreciating the value Circuit's life had had, and then looked back towards the future, reminding himself if how he could learn from this. It was a difficult discipline but he understood the importance.
"You guys did great too," Tyro smiled at last. "We do make a good team."
He closed his eyes then, still holding onto Gavyn's hand, slipping back into sleep.
Chapter 14: Reservations
When Gavyn was sure that Tyro was asleep, he carefully set his hand down.
He slid out of his seat, but when his foot hit the ground, he couldn't help but grimace. Standing up was a fresh reminder of the slash he had taken on the back of his leg in the battle earlier. Gavyn picked up a medpack, drew his strength, and walked down the hall to the washroom. He didn't want to bother the doctors with his minor injury when there were still lots of patients waiting for more urgent care. He sat on the countertop next to the sink, leaving a muddy puddle underneath him.
He pulled off his gauntlets first, relieved to finally feel the cool air through the light fabric of his tunic. Gavyn piled the pieces of his armor in a stack next to him. He didn't know how the clones could wear it all the time, from dawn to dusk- and then some. After a while he found armor stifling, but the protection it offered was worth the discomfort. He supposed the uniform had the same kind of meaning for the clones as his Jedi tunic and robes did for him. With the way the war was going, he had been wearing a lot of armor recently, and noticed that the fabric of the tunic had grown darker and darker it showed between the plates.
The last peice to take off was the boot on his injured leg. Gavyn could feel fabric and armor stuck to his skin with each move. He pulled the boot off in one motion, shooting pain through his leg.
The wound started bleeding again, and he quickly rolled up his pant leg and tried washing it out with water, but there was no good way to sit to treat the injury where it was located on back of his calf, near his knee. The straining movement it took to bend around to see it only aggravated it until it started bleeding faster than Gavyn could clean it up.
"Gavyn. What are you doing?" The Jedi looked up to see Ace by the door, carrying his standard-issue towel, and a cleaner, but otherwise identical, black uniform as the one he was wearing.
"What are you doing? I thought you were getting that hostage into containment." Gavyn answered, casually trying to ignore the blood soaking through the gauze he held to his leg.
"Already done." Ace answered with a shrug. For a clone, he had a very clock-in, clock-out attitude. He worked tirelessly while on duty, but any time he carved out for himself, he didn't want anybody to tell him what to do. "Shouldn't you be in the MedBay? That looks pretty bad." Ace flung his towel and change of clothes over the nearest shower curtain, as he glanced between Gavyn's increasingly paler face and the increasingly wide swath of red pooling under his leg.
"It wasn't bad until a moment ago." He wasn't usually that cocky, he searched himself for the truth. "And I know I'd be queued for a while, this scratch isn't a high priority. I just wanted to take care of it and get some real rest." He admitted, leaning his head back on the bathroom mirror. Gavyn put on a big show for most of the clones. They all found strength in believing he was infallible, but he couldn't be that way with Ace.
Ace sighed. He appreciated the fact that Gavyn respected his brothers enough to treat them like people instead of pawns, but he also had a habit of forgetting that a Jedi was still a privileged individual. Or maybe he did know, but just disliked taking people up on it. Regardless, Gavyn ended up being a martyr over these little things. "You're lucky I love you." He said, picking up a handful of gauze and a tube of bacta.
The attention that Ace put into his work made Gavyn smile, despite the cold sting of the bacta. He tried to enjoy the quietness between them, but he had a question burning inside his skull. The Jedi Master had told Ace before he left that he was going to take a Padawan back with him. Ace had his reservations- bringing an inexperienced kid onto the front lines prevented Gavyn from taking an apprentice earlier. Now that they had met, and fought together, Gavyn was hoping that Ace could see the value Gavyn did. "So. What do you think of Tyro?" He asked, knowing completely well that Ace would never volunteer his opinion.
Ace glanced up at Gavyn, and that was all the Jedi needed to know he still did not approve.
"He saved our skins out there." Gavyn insisted evenly. "You know that we would have never made it to that Lander without his skill with computers."
"And he wouldn't have made it out of that quarry without you." Ace retorted. "Even then, he practically had to be rolled back in a bucket."
The point stung Gavyn. There was nothing to say in response, because it was just a fact. Tyro had been brave, he had helped all of them complete the mission, but it didn't change the fact that he was barely hanging on in a hospital bed down the hall. The pride that Gavyn had been feeling over the success of the plan shriveled away, leaving the raw guilt he had been trying to ignore exposed.
Ace was taken aback by how much it affected Gavyn, he had meant for the hyperbole to lighten his point, not drive it deeper. He tightened a gauze bandage around the treated wound, he didn't want to look too long at Gavyn's fallen face. "I'm sorry. I just don't know how you're going to watch your own back when you need to watch his. He is a liability" Ace explained.
"We've both had close calls as well." Gavyn defended in his steady voice. "Crises happen. We can only do what we can."
"That doesn't scare you?" Ace asked, meeting eyes with Gavyn.
"No. Jedi are taught to let go of things outside of our control." Gavyn took a moment to consider further. "It is easier said than done."
Ace cracked a wry smile. "Better than being taught you're expendable. I guess that is how clones are supposed to deal with it." Gavyn smiled sympathetically as Ace folded his pant leg back down over the bandage. Ace's self-depreciating humor was as endearing as it was sad. "All I want to know is that Tyro won't be the reason I lose you." Ace finished, gravely.
"You won't lose me." Gavyn assured him, as he twisted around so his legs hung off the countertop. He found Ace's hands in his own. They each leaned forward, meeting for a brief kiss, before Ace drifted back, helping Gavyn to his feet.
The first few steps Gavyn took, he limped, but as his leg loosened up he felt he could walk more confidently. He would probably be able to sleep this off in a day or two. He found his quarters in the labyrinthine corridors, and fell asleep as soon as his head hit his bedroll.
Chapter 15: New Friends
Finally there came a time where Tyro was able to open his eyes long enough to actually make some sense of the world. He was back out in the hall where he had been earlier, with Sparks, Tar, and Tracks. He felt weak but the fuzzy haze of the fever and pain from earlier had gone. A moment later Ainya's face came into view. "Hey there," she said softly, making sure he was really awake.
"Hey," Tyro greeted back, voice gravelly. He rubbed his eyes, using his injured arm without really thinking about it. It was stiff and he recognized he probably shouldn't do anything more crazy than type with it, but he could feel the damage had mostly healed.
"Good to have you back," she smiled, helping him sit up against some pillows and pressing a glass of water into his hands. She had him slowly drink it before continuing. "Now if I can get you to start eating again we can start getting you on your feet."
"Not gonna argue that," he muttered with a half smile. Now that she had mentioned it he was starving, a feeling he had never thought he would miss. He realized too how much weight he had lost, especially disappointed that some of it was muscle. It was going to be even longer until he was back to anywhere near his usual strength. Vaguely, a tinge of guilt began to seep into his thoughts. He would still be dragging Gavyn down.
"I'll go get you something then," she replied, seeming relieved as she left.
Tyro nodded his thanks before looking around the room. Its occupants had thinned out substantially since he had last noticed. He turned to where Sparks should have been, confirming what he feared, the man was gone.
He quickly looked back to Tar and Tracks. They must have read on his face because Tracks, who was now sitting up on the edge of his bed spoke up. "It's okay, he's fine. They let him out yesterday before we got you back."
"He was pretty worried about you," Tar added gruffly, "They kept telling him they didn't know if you were gonna make it." It was clear he was speaking for more than just Sparks. Tyro got the feeling that was the most direct sincerity Tar had to offer. It was touching really. Tyro smiled appreciatively.
As if Sparks had some kind of sixth sense he appeared at the end of the hall, dressed in armor, holding his helmet under one arm. He looked like he was about to wave but thought better of it, continuing forward, clearly trying to look like he wasn't hurrying. "Permission to speak freely, Sir?" he asked tersely.
Tyro cocked his head with a short laugh, unsure if Sparks was joking or not. He wasn't. Tyro looked around, everyone else seemed to have assumed the same stiffness as though they had suddenly remembered themselves or something. "Uhhh...permission granted?" he finally replied hoping that would get the guys to calm down. "Really guys, it's just me. Sparks, sit down or something. What are you doing in armor already anyway? Shouldn't you be resting? They're not like sending you back out or anything...there's not more of them are there?"
Sparks took a seat on what had previously been his bed, sitting a little less straight than he might have. That was a start at least.
"Nah, nothing like that," Sparks explained, resting a hand over the helmet on his knee. It was decorated with lightning bolts to match his name. "They're all packing up and everything but I was told to take it easy today. It would be great, except there's nothing to do."
Tyro smiled back, no stranger to that feeling. "Yeah, I get ya there," he sighed, thinking about how bored he was going to be if he was stuck in this bed for much longer. He could already feel tiredness creeping up on him though, despite only having been awake for a few minutes. On second thought he couldn't wait until he was feeling better enough to be bored.
The four of them chatted for a moment before Ainya returned. Taking back her seat next to him she helped him to hold a bowl of thick opaque...was it broth? He wasn't sure. Whatever it was, it wasn't food. He resisted the urge to shoot a look of betrayal back at her.
Ainya picked up on his hesitation anyway. "You can't have solid food just yet. Once we're sure you can handle this we'll switch you to something else." Tyro swished what he had now decided was not enough of whatever it was around in the bowl.
"Just eat it, Sir," Tracks spoke up sternly. "You're not going to get your strength back without it; it's the only way you're going to get better. Not everyone has it so easy." He turned away darkly. Tyro frowned, watching the hand Tracks laid over his missing leg as he finished speaking.
He held his gaze on Track's figure for a moment before he looked down the the bowl, draining it in one sip. Even if he didn't feel it, he was lucky, but luck was not going to be enough in this war. He would have to be better, for Gavyn, the Order, and his new friends in the 122nd.
Chapter 16: No Tech, No Force
The squadron was in orbit around Talfaglio when Gavyn got the message from the Council, the Jedi team that had been sent to scout out the suspected location of Separatists had reported the status of the planet: empty of all hostiles. They found no evidence to support the assumption that Separatist forces were gathering strength there. The Jedi General was pleased to hear the news. If they had found anything, there would have been a military strike dangerously close to civilian populations. It was a controversial maneuver, and Gavyn was more than happy to avoid it.
The cancellation of the plans meant that the legion was reassigned to a mid-rim front. It would be some time before the cruiser would be able to reach the location, and after the recent events that left Tyro injured, he thought it would make a good opportunity for Tyro get some field training. They packed their things in the Jedi transport starship and set a course to Hapes, a planet that Gavyn knew to have a peaceful population, and a vast wilderness.
Night had fallen, but the light of the seven moons of Hapes cast bright, silvery glow through the leaves of the canopy. Gavyn was perched on a high branch, looking for movement on the speckled ground below. Tyro was nearby, looking for him. It was part of the exercises he was putting his new apprentice through before returning to the legion.
He had spent the past three days running Tyro through basic military training. How to construct and deconstruct a camp. How to use cover. Techniques on firing a blaster. It was a lot of information very fast, but they did not have time for anything else.
Gavyn just had a couple of ground rules: no tech and no force. It was apparent that Tyro relied too much on both, and it got in the way of using common sense. They were only to be used to augment ability, to get an edge when you needed it most. Tech wasn't always available in the field. And although the force was always with you, by the time one exhausted themselves to death using it, it would hardly have made a dent in a full-scale battle. Tyro would need to learn how to use his brain before turning to those crutches.
However, without a simulation room, Gavyn was finding it difficult to replicate the fury of large-scale battle with only himself and Tyro. They would just have to do the best they could. That afternoon, they had turned their blaster settings to stun, and Gavyn took off from the campsite to get a head start. As much as Tyro was hunting him down, Gavyn was hunting for Tyro. They had ran the exercise twice already, and both times, Gavyn had managed to tag Tyro before Tyro could tag him.
Tyro started down the path from the campsite in the direction he had seen Gavyn leave. He was going to get it right this time. He had to; he couldn't think of the last thing that had taken him three tries to get right. Everything usually came naturally, but this-this was entirely foreign. All the more reason to figure it out, to show Gavyn that he wasn't useless, he wasn't going to drag him down.
The battle on Loronar had been humbling to say the least, and had left him wounded in body and spirit. Thankfully much of his strength had returned, but he had pulled back from Gavyn, hardly saying a word outside of dutiful acknowledgements. He refused to screw this up too. Tyro pushed himself to follow everything Gavyn said, to figure out everything he was trying to teach him.
The footprints Gavyn had left were clear enough, except there were now three sets. Following them a bit further they disappeared into grass, which, he supposed was kind of trampled...or something? The moonlight reflected brightly across the haphazard arrangement of blades. He stopped, frowning. Would Gavyn really go the same way three times? It would make sense to double around, go back, end up in the other direction. Or…was he expecting Tyro to expect he would do that and had stayed in the direction from which he had left the camp? His mind wound itself in circles trying to find a shortcut to this but there were simply too many possibilities. Gavyn could be anywhere. Perhaps hard evidence and actual tracking skills really were the way to go on this.
The no tech rule was frustrating and would have made for a boring trip had he had a moment to even just sit down, but not using the force was proving to be a particular challenge. He had not realized before how very much he relied on it. Tyro sighed, pulling the ponytail he was now forced to keep his mohawk in tighter before any more could slip out and fall into his face. The things he could do if he had the force. Jump to the top of these trees, enhance his vision, or any other sense for that matter, never touch the ground to leave tracks... He could even sense Gavyn's exact location...though that was a two way street. Perhaps this was better then.
Determined, he set his sights back to the grass, picking the most freshly broken pieces as what were likely the most recent set of footprints Gavyn had left. He managed to follow them for a while, but the deeper into the forest he went the thicker the trees grew until he had all but lost the light of the moons. Tossing his pack off his shoulder and onto the ground he dug around in it until he found a red glow rod, something that would not mess up his night vision. Activating it, he set back to his search.
A few meters more however and the and the tracks just…disappeared. Had Gavyn just flown away or something? Realistically he could have climbed a tree... Tyro let out a short laugh at the idea of giant Gavyn cowering up in one of these trees. Yeah right. Wasn't a bad idea though. Focusing on not using any of the force to help him he jumped up to grab a claw-like low hanging branch above his head. Just barely he managed to wrap his hands around it.
With a grunt he started to pull himself up then...snap! The rotted wood broke free of the tree. Time stretched with the fall, long enough for him to remind himself that he was not allowed to use the force to ease his landing. Tyro focused the momentum and ducked into a forward roll. He hit the ground left shoulder first, flopping awkwardly over himself, just barely clearing the branch as it slammed into the ground behind him.
He bit back the pain, trying not to make a sound as it lanced through his recently healed arm, exhaling with it, as evenly as he could, suddenly aware that he had just made a lot of noise. It was time to move, now.
He stood up quickly, testing his shoulder as he did so. Bruised, maybe slightly sprained with a slight nick from the splintered wood...he would live. He got far worse from just sparring back at the Academy.
Satisfied with that he ran, keeping as light on his feet as he could. Having reached a fair distance he doubled back across some boulders, hopping between them like he would rooftops in the undercity. Now if only he could find a good hiding place like he could there...The light from his glowrod skirted around a darker patch between the boulders. Looked like a cave or a burrow or something. Either way it was good enough for now.
He jumped down into it, only realizing after he had done so that that was where he would have used the force to check to make sure there was nothing living inside...and that it had a bottom. Whether or not he called on it however he still had it to thank for his luck as his boots landed in soft soil only a few feet below. A quick check with his glow rod revealed nothing more than a few small bugs. He leaned back against the wall, catching his breath. With nothing better to do he began to dig the splinters out of his arm, tucking the glowrod back into his tunic turning his attention to the sounds of the forest.
Gavyn heard movement in the distance, the sound of snapping branches. It was large enough that it was likely Tyro, although he wasn't sure why he was making so much noise. The first thing Gavyn noticed when he turned in the direction of the sound was a red glow, lighting up the trees in the distance. He shifted, and watched closely, until he saw the silhouette of Tyro running, carrying a red glow rod. Hapes famously had one of the lightest nights of any system, and the Padawan was still using a glow rod just to see in the shade of the canopy. Gavyn frowned deeply. It was a great way to broadcast your position. He could clearly see his apprentice crawl inside a cave about 40 meters away by the light of the glowrod, before he finally extinguished it.
Gavyn heaved a sigh. He dropped from branch to branch until he reached the ground. He moved slowly, a man of his stature had difficulty being light on his feet. When Gavyn was close enough, he pulled a smoke grenade from his survival pack, and lobbed it into the cave. There was a dull thump, and smoke billowed out, twisting away into the night sky. He used the distraction to run up to the cave opening, and point his rifle inside.
As the smoke cleared, it revealed a fearsome outline. "It wouldn't be a smoke bomb if a Separatist threw it." Gavyn warned, sternly. "And if you were lucky enough not to get blown up, then you would end up captured."
Gavyn lowered his weapon. He made his point, and now he offered Tyro a hand to help him out of the cave. "You gave away your position. You must have patience, wait for your enemy to show you their hand first." It seemed that every new exercise, they went over something else that Gavyn had taken for granted for the past five years. The clones were sheltered, but if they knew one thing, they knew war.
"Let's head back to camp." Gavyn said, knowing full well that Tyro had a long day- not that it was going to be any excuse in a real battlefield. On second thought, maybe it was best to make this another lesson in tactics then call it a night. "I'll let you get there first and fortify yourself. If I breach the camp, the mission fails. You sleep when the camp is secure." Gavyn looked at his Padawan, challenge in his eyes.
Chapter 17: Hide and Seek
Tyro nodded, eyes downcast, giving one final cough from the smoke. So much for impressing Gavyn. He looked up again though as Gavyn issued his next challenge, meeting his Master's eyes with rekindled determination. One more shot. Right. Brushing himself off he sprinted ahead back to the camp.
Once he arrived he realized he didn't really have a plan. At a loss, he looked around, hoping there might be something to inspire him. There was nothing. They had packed light, only bare essentials, nothing he could build a barrier with or anything, and he was pretty sure Gavyn had taken the last of the grenades.
Gavyn had said fortify, but perhaps that didn't just have to be defense. Without anything conventional to help him he was going to have to rely on the forest. How to do that, he had no idea, but there was probably something.
Well...he could set traps. He had read books before where adventurers used branches and stuff to create snares, or covered up pits with large leaves...simple alarms. Now he was on the train of thought there were plenty of things he could try.
But what if he could throw Gavyn off from his location? Make him think the camp was somewhere else? Perhaps that would buy him the time to forge further fortifications.
Picking up the camp and moving it was out of the question. It would take too much time and make too much noise. It was also probably cheating. If Gavyn intended him to be getting practice for a real military situation it was likely not a practical solution for fortifying a location that might not always be able to move.
Tyro doubled back along the path he had come from, taking care to hide his tracks from earlier as he went, brushing them over with a branch. He looked back every so often to gauge how much he could see of the camp. Whenever the forest got thick he broke off some branches and covered any sign of the trail as organically as he could, or raked some leaves over the path and kicked a new one in a different direction. He wished he had the force to move some of the larger landmarks, to maybe see if anything from the AgriCorps had stuck enough for him to urge some plant cover to grow, but this was going to have to do. There were layers to this, so even if something looked suspicious to Gavyn, he'd have to find his way through a lot more.
Satisfied his tracks were covered he set to making a new set, one that lead down another path in the forest, away from the camp. He ran down it, making sure to kick up as much dirt and grass, breaking branches as he went. With the abysmal skill he had shown at surviving in this forest earlier, Gavyn would likely not be surprised at such an obvious trail. He continued on until he reached a clearing, surprisingly similar to the one they were currently using. He pulled out his glowrod and set it on a rock, backing up to make sure it was visible from a distance. Perhaps the thing could do him some actual good this time.
Traps were next. He had cut some length of vine as he walked, and, with the help of some young trees and counter-weighting, he rigged a few snares, both by his fake camp and along the trail to the real one. He wasn't sure if the vine was enough to hold Gavyn's weight, but being thick and green as it was it seemed to have some strength. As for pitfalls, he didn't have time to dig any holes. He did manage to find one spot between a few larger rocks on the way back to the real camp that he was able to cover with a mesh of brittle sticks, than leaves from the surrounding area-only after checking that falling down it wouldn't cause any real damage to Gavyn. Each tracp he rigged with something to make enough noise to alarm him it had been set off, and having accrued a fair handful he deemed he had done what he could.
Tyro doubled back for a while then set off on a new path, covering his tracks as he went, using rocks and trees where he could. Upon reaching their real camp he spent the last of his time raking leaves into the clearing, rolling rocks over the path, burying the tents in foliage. Campsite now matching the rest of the forest he pulled himself up a tree nearby and listened.
Gavyn took his time eating some dried meat out of his pack, and drinking down some water before picking himself up and hiking towards the campsite. The trip took longer than it the hike out, since Gavyn chose to approach the campsite from the higher ground. He could see the red gleam of Tyro's glow rod. Gavyn moved carefully, slowly gaining ground on the campsite until it was less than 20 meters away. There were no sounds, and Gavyn suddenly got the sinking feeling that Tyro had learned from his former mistake. This site was a diversion- which meant that he had probably rigged the area with traps. Good boy. At least now he was using his head, instead of trying to dig his heels in and crash into danger head on.
He left the glow rod where it lay, and dived back into the shadows. He had a pretty good idea of where he was in relation to the actual campsite, but he scanned the ground to look for signs of tracks. Tyro had done a good job covering them this time, and if the light of the moons did not cast a dusky glow across everything, it would have been easy to miss.
Gavyn moved quickly towards the campsite, but after finding the trail he neglected to continue scanning the ground. With a loud crack, the ground beneath his foot gave way, as the dry sticks spanning a crevasse splintered under his weight. The Jedi slipped, and caught himself on the rock reflexively. When he had a moment to take in the trap, he realized that the bottom of the pit was hardly a few inches from his feet. Regardless, his position was revealed from the noise, and he needed to get a new vantage point. He pulled himself from the trap and sprinted through the wood, putting as much distance between the him and the trap that he could.
He only ran a moment, until the campsite snuck up on him- less than 60 meters away. Tyro had disguised it. Gavyn dived to the closest cover that he could see. It was a fallen tree, a bit too short for Gavyn to comfortable hide behind. He braced his rifle against the trunk, eyeing down the scope to the campsite. There wasn't much cover where the tent was, but Gavyn decided that it was best to make sure Tyro didn't make the obvious mistake. He shot the support for the makeshift tent- a tarp strung over several branches. The tarp collapsed, but there was no squirming lump indicative of Tyro.
Tyro ducked down deeper into the branches of the tree as his eyes caught the flicker of movement in the moonlight. After he had heard that trap snap a few minutes ago he knew Gavyn was close. Too close. Too soon. He had hoped he at least did better than that, but he had to give Gavyn the at least thirty years and the crazy amount of military training he had on him. Not bad for an old guy.
There was no sight of the Jedi Master for a moment after that. Tyro craned his neck around some of the foliage to see if he could get a better angle, just in time to watch the tent flop to the ground at the sound of a blaster bolt. Seriously? How stupid and trusting did Gavyn think he was? He bit back a groan as he lined up his shot, realizing he was probably going to have to be the one to put the thing back up again whenever they were done with this.
He didn't give Gavyn the chance to make another move. Hastily he lined up the Jedi Master in his sights, and fired. The recoil immediately threw him backward and the shot flew way off its mark as Tyro fell backwards from his perch, barely managing to hold onto the branch with one leg, scrambling to keep his grip on the rifle.
He was upside down, back to Gavyn, and slipping. The ground looked just far enough to seriously hurt if he fell from this height, and landing head-first was not something he was looking forward to. Most of all he didn't want to add a stun bolt to that mix. Quickly he scrambled to pull to pull himself up again, grimacing at the ache in his gut. His strength just wasn't what it used to be after two consecutive surgeries, and he was regretting now how much he had cheated his way through recovery-using the force instead of strengthening his physical body.
Tyro swung himself back over the branch one limb at a time, gripping tightly to it, panting for breath. He realized he should move but he wasn't sure how far he could get, or where Gavyn was. Shakily he pulled himself forward a meter or so-it was better than nothing-and scanned through the leaves for Gavyn. The man had vanished.
Chapter 18: Force Healing
Gavyn scrambled, low to the ground, along the fallen tree when a shot was fired back at him. He vaulted over the log, and caught a glimpse of Tyro hanging upside down from a high branch, before he took cover behind a wide trunk. At least he knew where to aim now.
He paused a moment, back against the tree. The movement seemed to stop. He peered around the trunk of the tree.
Tyro hadn't moved very far… and Gavyn could see the edge of his Padawan's leg. He raised his rifle, bracing his shoulder against the tree...and fired. The stun bolt clipped Tyro, and the boy flinched before suddenly going tense. Even with a brush, a stun bolt would leave someone quickly paralyzed.
However he was holding himself though, it was clear Tyro had not accounted for the probability of getting hit, and, as the paralysis spread, he started to tumble off the branch, which was high enough that it might actually hurt him.
For a moment, Gavyn thought Tyro was going to be able to catch himself, but, he supposed that his Padawan was determined to not use the force on this training mission. Gayvn made a mental note of getting it through his head that this was the kind of emergency he should turn to the force to save himself with. Some of the clones were like that for a long time… you tell them one thing and they stuck to it so hard they forgot to think about if they were making the right choice.
Tyro was too far to run to, and Gavyn quickly called on the Force to catch him but...tossing objects around had never been his strength, and the panicked reflex ended up sending a shockwave instead. Tyro slammed into the trunk of the tree before landing roughly on the ground with a pained grunt.
Gavyn ran to Tyro's side, where he lay crumpled on the ground. Falling while stunned was dangerous, there was no way to control the fall or take the landing. Gavyn was glad that his Padawan hadn't snapped his neck. Regardless, it looked like he might have cracked a rib, and he certainly was going to feel the bruises.
Not daring to move him, Gavyn instead knelt next to him, cradling Tyro's cheek in his hand. He let the force flow through him, and seep into his apprentice. It encompassed the paralysis from the stun gun, drifting it away into the force.
He nudged Tyro. "How are you holding up? Where does it hurt?"
"Nowhere! I'm fine!" Tyro shot back quickly, forced smile on his face, as soon as he felt his muscles loosen. If he was fine he could show Gavyn he could handle himself. He would not kriffing screw this up again.
"Lets go again. I got it, trees are bad. Or how I was using them, could have done something else. Rifles have more of a kick than blasters," he rattled off hastily, dragging himself away from Gavyn. He tried to push himself up, he almost had it, if he could just get up he could prove to Gavyn…
"I won't make the same mistake again," Tyro asserted, arm shaking from holding up his weight. He pushed himself to get to his feet, only falling backwards onto the ground again. He let out a sharp hiss of pain, clutching at his ribs. Now the adrenaline had worn off it hurt to breathe. He looked back up to Gavyn, determination fading to concern as grey began to eat away at the corners of his vision.
"You are damn right about those trees, Tyro." Gavyn said. "Always have a quick exit- if you crawl up into a tree, you'll corner yourself!" He explained. There was probably more to learn from this, but Gavyn was also getting tired. Tyro seemed to still be enthusiastic about their training, however, and the boy needed as much experience as he could get right now. "Alright. Get up, and we'll set that tent back up."
Tyro nodded uneasily, biting back the pain, reminding himself not to call on the force for this. Gingerly he started to push himself up again, still gasping for breath. Gavyn was a healer, and his Master; if Gavyn thought he was fine, he was fine.
This was his chance, right? That must have been his problem earlier, he could have pushed himself further. If Gavyn hadn't had to help him out of the quarry he would have been able to better command and defend his troops, Big Ten wouldn't have died. If Tyro had held out for longer, he could have hacked more of the droid army and Circuit would still be alive.
He made it to his feet, swaying slightly. He had had worse, so much worse. Hell, he had been in the hospital a few days ago. This was nothing. Just keep breathing. Walk it off. He made it two steps before the grey haze seeped over everything as he fell.
Gavyn caught Tyro as he stumbled, easing him slowly to the ground. "You know, maybe we should just catch our breath for a while." He suggested, dodging any accusation that Tyro might not be holding out so well. Although the thought did cross Gavyn's mind.
He didn't know how he was supposed to handle this. His former Padawan had also been… not particularly robust. He usually had her escort nobility, take care of the injured or hostages… whatever the situation needed. Tyro, however, was not much of a people person. He was quiet, and seemed to appreciate the company of droids over living things half the time. Gavyn regretted coddling his former apprentice as well, keeping her out of danger. When war finally reached them, she wasn't ready to fight to protect the republic. Tyro, on the other hand, didn't have a choice, the war had already begun. The only question now was how was he going to survive it.
However that was going to happen, it wasn't going to be like this. Gavyn could tell he was running him into the ground again. "Tyro, I'm sorry I'm pushing you so hard." He admitted, before the feelings could build up. "I just want you to be safe out there… as safe as you can get at least. I feel like I'm setting a bad example with all of this aggressive training." Gavyn explained as he took a seat next to his Padawan.
"You need to have a different mindset when you step out on a battlefield. You have to be cautious and deliberate. It is always better to err on the side of safety, rather than jump in guns blazing. You push yourself because you need to survive, not to show off, or make a big dent, or to pull off a heroic rescue. You can't help others when you need help yourself."
Gavyn sighed. He didn't know if Tyro understood. He was so young, and war was still an adventure. The least he could do now was teach him some force healing skills. "This is a good opportunity to use the force. Why don't you try fixing yourself up?" He asked, trying to push some enthusiasm though his impatience. "Use the force to find anything that seems...off." Gavyn was no doctor, but the force had always been his guide.
Tyro looked up to Gavyn, unsure. Was it a trick? "So, I'm...allowed to use the force?" He asked, brows knitted in just as much concern he had failed as pain.
"Of course, Tyro!" Gavyn insisted. He was trying to give the kid a larger toolkit, not kill him in training.
Unsure of what exactly he was doing, Tyro felt along his side, prodding with the force. If nothing else, he knew what he felt like when he hadn't just fallen out of a tree. That bruise went deeper than just the skin. Where the pain was sharpest, he could feel the way one the flow force suddenly came to a stop around one of his ribs...it was broken. If he could move it, he could breathe better.
There was something unnerving at the idea of using the force to move something inside his own body. He had never considered this as a possibility before, despite how often he used it to lift and levitate things in the world around him. This though, looking inward, was for some reason far more frightening. He looked up at Gavyn one more time as if he might have gotten some kind of go ahead from the Jedi Master before closing his eyes and focusing inward.
Very carefully, slowly, using as little of the force he could he grabbed at the broken bone and slid it back into place. With a shout he doubled over, face drawn in pain and exhaustion, but he could breathe better now. That worked. It was kind of cool actually, having that kind of control. His moment of victory faded suddenly though as he felt blood start to seep from around where he had moved the bone. His mind scrambled to figure out what to do next, running through all the tools he had through the force but drawing a blank. Manipulating an object was different than coaxing the body to restore itself through the force as healers could do. Face paling, he quickly looked up to Gavyn.
"I made it better, but also worse I think?" adding a quick amendment to his earlier answer to where exactly he hurt. At least now he could tell Gavyn that accurately. He kept his eyes fixed on Gavyn, searching for another clue. Gavyn was going to help him fix this right? Or was he too fed up with an apprentice who couldn't get anything else he had taught through his thick skull? The man was do or die. Tyro just hoped this wasn't going to be where he enforced that.
Gavyn nodded. He could sense the pain in Tyro like it was his own. Tyro's attempt to fix himself seemed crude to him, just yanking body parts around, but at least everything seemed to be more or less in the right place. Gavyn tried to reach out to help, but the Force was turbulent with two Jedi trying to achieve the same end. Maybe it was better if he just coached Tyro through this, it might save his life later out in the field.
"Take deep slow breaths." Gavyn advised. He could understand if Tyro was afraid, this wasn't a simulation, but Gavyn was not going to let Tyro severely hurt himself. "Healing is not about wrenching control from the force to suit your ends. It is about opening yourself up- being vulnerable- and letting it pass through you to give you strength."
Tyro nodded, steadying his breathing, trying to clear his head, to open up to the force. There were just too many things running through his mind right now. How he was going to make this work. He needed to do something right. Moving things around clearly wasn't it. Was it like encouraging plants to grow? That maybe seemed closer but still not it… What Gavyn was talking about, he could have sworn he knew the feeling, but right now it was hard to focus on from where. The two of them used the force so differently.
Tyro loosened up his posture, taking another deep breath. Kind of like meditating maybe? He tried to make himself relax, open up, but the harder he did, the less he could figure out how he was supposed to do this.
Gavyn could feel Tyro tail spinning. He tilted Tyro's head towards his. "Hey, look at me." He coached, trying to catch Tyro's focus. He locked eyes with him for a moment. "Let it go." He urged softly. He was planted firmly next to his apprentice's side, both on the the wooded floor, and in the force. "Find your center, and the Force will find you."
Tyro held Gavyn's gaze for a moment before closing his eyes. He slowly let out a breath, and feeling his Master's strong, sturdy, unshakable presence next to him he anchored himself in its safety, finally able to let everything else go. What happened next was nothing short of amazing.
He could feel it all. The trees, the plants, the creatures, the moss on the rocks, all of their life as the living force flowed around him, through him, filling him entirely until he absolutely radiated with it. It was so much more plentiful, so pure than anything he felt on Coruscant. Then he understood. It was like free-falling. Those moments where he gave himself over completely to the force as he sailed from the tops of the city's skyscrapers. Holding that feeling close, Tyro let go and fell into the force.
Finally, sated, Tyro opened his eyes. Trees surrounded him, he could no longer see Gavyn, or the ground. Then he looked down. He was floating. In the shock of the moment, the force rushed from him and he slammed back down into what had formerly been dirt.
Thoroughly exhausted he hazily opened his eyes once more, weaving his fingers into the fresh young grass that now grew in a large circle radiating from him. He was too tired to question it, though putting two and two together he reasoned he had probably overdone it, but he felt a lot better now, drained, but in far less pain.
When his Padawan landed, Gavyn stood up. He had mixed feelings about the display. Clearly Tyro was powerful, and had a strong connection to the Force when he put his mind to it, but he also lacked the control and discipline needed to make good use of the ability. He was still wasting energy, floating around and making the grass sprout. "Let's turn in for tonight. I figure we only have about thirty-six more hours here, before we need to regroup with the Grand Army."
Having already nibbled on some rations, Gavyn went straight to bed. He rolled up in his cloak. The temperature here was pleasantly mild, and the tent served mostly as some shade from the bright moons overhead.
Chapter 19: Separate Ways
After exactly six hours, Gavyn's eyes fluttered open. For a moment, he could not tell what time it was… the day and night so similarly bright on this planet. The light was distinctly warmer however, as he peered out of the tent into the morning air.
He nudged Tyro "Get yourself ready," before he crawled out of the tent. He stretched out, and did a handful of pushups to warm up. After Gavyn shook off, he ducked back under the tent, and dug through his survival pack. He picked out enough grain bars to take the edge off his growling stomach. "Hurry up. I've got one last exercise for us before we ship out." Gavyn said, tossing a fruit at the Tyro's sleeping lump.
Tyro groaned, rolling away from the offending whatever-it-was that Gavyn had tossed at him. How long had it been since he dragged himself to bed; like two, maybe three hours? Perhaps he was over-exaggerating, but it could have been ten and that would have not been enough. It felt like a bantha had sat on him all night. To be fair, he acknowledged, he would have felt this way even if he hadn't been injured and exhausted the night before, but at least now he felt justified. He considered for a moment garnering the Jedi Master's sympathy, but quickly acknowledged that was the wrong thing to do, besides he only had a few hours left to show Gavyn he could carry his own weight.
With a deliberate effort he pushed himself up, pawing around for whatever Gavyn had thrown...a fruit. Shoving it in his mouth he got ready for the day, stiff muscles protesting every movement. Rubbing his eyes roughly with the sleeve of his tunic he crept from the tent to Gavyn's side, offering a heavy sigh, quickly followed by a more appropriate "mornin'" to indicate his presence.
Tyro wasn't a morning person. Well, that would likely change after a few months, Gavyn thought optimistically. The Grand Army kept some early hours. They didn't waste daylight.
Gavyn, however, was already unclipping a military box that he had taken with him. He pulled out five probe droids, about twice the size of a human head. They were programmed to search lifeforms out, however Gavyn was sure to change out the blaster weapons they usually came equipped with for stun bolts. He activated each in turn and they went buzzing out into the forest. "They won't start hunting us for about an hour." Gavyn said calmly. "What do you want to do until then?" He asked his apprentice. Knowing how to prepare was half the fight.
Tyro stared blankly as the droids floated off. "Thought you said no tech," he grumbled.
Sleep. Is sleeping allowed for the next hour? was what he wanted to retort, but considering the quickly rising number of times Gavyn had already had to save his sorry hide he swallowed the comment. Instead he set his thoughts to solutions. He had dealt with probe droids before, but he had hacked them. Or hid from them with the force. Or just straight up destroyed them with the force. Uh, thinking…running? Hiding? Drawing them somewhere to fight them?
"We could...set a trap? Tyro finally proposed. "Like...if they're lured to us, and we build like a safe area, and we bottleneck them through something...or into something that can capture them?" They could still shoot them though if they didn't have the right kind of setup. Was being recorded by them something else they were trying to avoid? Was Gavyn looking for a more straightforward answer?
Gavyn felt the frustration that had been building up inside start to boil over. It was starting to get dangerous, how much Tyro was missing the point of this training. "No tricks, Tyro." Gavyn growled, "You're not always going to have time to make a trap. You're going to get caught by surprise. You're going to have to fight." He stressed.
He never had to go through this with any of the clones. They were always prepared for the worst, so much so he actually had to teach them to step outside of the box more, and to create their own opportunities. "You have got to stop thinking about this like a puzzle you're trying to solve, and start thinking about how you're going to survive. What is going to keep you from being blasted? Hiding behind a rock? Cover fire from a squadmate?" Man, he was really starting to pick up lingo from the soldiers. "How are you going to watch your flank, or are you going to get caught in crossfire?"
Gavyn knew what he must look like, tall, wide, and glowering. He knew that it would leave an impression. "These aren't more theories to consider, Tyro. You either do it out there, or you die. You just die." There was no room for mistakes in this line of work. As Ace always said, you only need to be unlucky once.
"Yes Master Jervada," Tyro acknowledged quietly, bowing his head. Gavyn was right, entirely right. He had known that from their first day here. Known that Gavyn was trying teach him to survive. That was the worst part, that this entire time he had been trying. Trying to be self sufficient, trying to not have to rely on Gavyn. So far he had not succeeded in that once.
Tyro turned away, reflexively grabbing his left arm. Even underneath his tunic he could feel the fresh knotted scar that now wrapped around it. Already, in less than a month, Gavyn had had to save his life more times than anyone else in all his fourteen years. The wounds he received on Loronar would have killed him had he been with any other master. He remembered almost all of it now, how close he had been to death. Gavyn working desperately to keep him from bleeding out into the gravel of the quarry floor. Gavyn cradling him after he had ripped that spider droid off the quarry wall, pushing his own life force into him. Gavyn pulling him back to consciousness after surgery, strengthening him enough to fight off the infection and heal. Even the other night, if Gavyn hadn't shown him how to heal himself he probably would have slowly died on this planet too. He couldn't even climb a tree right. What had he, Tyro, done to help in all that? Nothing that Gavyn had been trying to teach him here. He was a burden, one that was going to cause the death of both of them.
This was no longer about proving himself to Gavyn. It was no longer about proving himself to himself. That was petty, he acknowledged. A Jedi wasn't out to prove anything to anyone. This wasn't about self pity either, he could acknowledge truths and act on them rather than feel bad for himself. Like Gavyn had said, it was do or die. If he wanted to be a knight, he had better start acting like one.
"I'll go find a defensible location," Tyro reported, eyes scanning the edges of the clearing for where to start. This was a more appropriate way to deal with things. To contribute to the solution, rather than waiting and relying on Gavyn's help. He was getting too attached he realized. All that time Gavyn had spent comforting him, guiding him through battle on Loronar, he hadn't just wanted him there, he had needed him. That was probably the reason why his last master had never really connected to him on a personal level. He had expected him to act like a mature knight. A knight that didn't need a bond connecting him to anyone else. It was a crutch that Tyro realized he needed to learn to start living without.
And so, Tyro closed his eyes, focusing for a moment, before completely barricading Gavyn out of his mind, and himself from Gavyn's, and walked off into the forest.
Chapter 20: Lone Gunman
The loss was abrupt. It was hard to notice the presence of his Padawan when it was so constant, but it was suddenly shut off, like a blast door coming down between them. The shock of it disoriented Gavyn for a moment. When he saw Tyro walking away, however, he understood what had happened. He started to follow him, but he slowed his pace to a stop.
Tyro needed his space. Gavyn could feel the frustration in him growing, and he knew that confronting the boy now would only push him away further. He needed space as well, to get his head right. The Jedi knelt on the forest floor, and closed his eyes. He could feel the speckles of light through the trees shifting above him. He could smell the life thriving here, pulsing with the Living Force. He let it carry his frustration away.
A long time passed before Gavyn stood back up, and dusted himself off. Time to start looking for Tyro, before the probe droids did. The Jedi Master felt a rejuvenated sense of clarity and purpose. Tyro was doing the best he could. He had so much to learn, so quickly. It was his responsibility to give him the right assignments at the right time, to make sure he didn't end up over his head again.
Gavyn started tracking Tyro from where he last saw him walk through the forest. He was getting harder and harder to find, and the complete silence from the Force didn't help either. Finally he managed to spot Tyro standing vigilantly at the crest of a hill, blaster rifle at the ready. The trees were thinner and the location was above much of the rest of the canopy. The position offered a full view in all directions with little cover for the droids. If they wanted to attack, they would have to do so head on, out in the open.
It wasn't a bad position, but Gavyn could tell it was going to be tricky to move out of if things got bad. They had the high ground, but getting surrounded could still pin them down. He hoped Tyro had come up with some kind of back door.
He began walking in that direction when a sudden flash of danger prompted him to duck. A stun blast from a probe droid narrowly missed his head, and mangled the tree branch behind him. They were found.
Tyro resisted the urge to shift his weight or relax even the slightest bit. A disciplined knight could probably stand like this for days without so much as moving a muscle. So far he had managed about an hour. The blaster rifle he held was huge though, almost his size, and without the force to pour into his muscles, they were growing more tired by the moment. By the change in angle of the sunlight - which he had spent some time reasoning upon based on something he had read in one of those adventure books - it had probably been around an hour. He honed his hearing, the probe droids would be here any time.
Then, there it was! Movement. Behind him. Tyro quickly rounded to line up a shot, but immediately pulled himself back when he saw it was Gavyn in his sights. The disturbing thought crossed his mind that he had almost just shot the Jedi Master. There was nothing but stun bolts in the blaster but still, he shuddered to think...then-the sound of blaster fire, Gavyn rounding on its source. Tyro was so wrapped up in the scene unfolding in front of him that he entirely missed the droid coming up from behind him.
He was alerted to its presence when it shot. Years of Jedi training gave him the confidence enough to try and dodge it, but without using the force his movements were slower than usual -- he was too late. Tyro started to move, but the bolt clipped his arm, making it buzz with numbness. He stifled a yell, fighting the urge to shake it out as the tingling sensation spread and his muscles started to lock up, focusing instead on using the force to heal like Gavyn had taught him, reasoning that, without any other option to allow him to continue on, this was the best and most simple option and therefore was allowed.
Tyro took half a moment to center himself and quickly pushed a wave of the force through his right side, ripping away the numbness. It was sloppy, very sloppy he could tell. Gavyn would not be pleased, but it got the job done. He lined up his shot, bracing himself for the kickback, and pulled the trigger. The droid skittered to the side quickly and the shot went wide, the bolt ricocheting off course, barely missing Gavyn.
Gavyn crouched next to a tree, swinging the blaster rifle over his shoulder. The shot from Tyro's gun spat bark and hot air against his face. "Watch your crossfire!" Gavyn shouted. He didn't like giving away his position like that, but he still couldn't communicate through the Force with his Padawan. Even the soldiers knew well enough to talk to each other through their comlinks. It was imperative in battle.
Tyro winced at the narrow miss. Had he been more connected to the force, or more connected to Gavyn this would have never happened once, let alone almost twice. As younglings they had practiced fighting in groups, he hadn't been totally connected to anyone then and he was never this clumsy. Jedi Knights did not accidentally shoot anyone or anything. All the more reason to not allow himself any crutch. This was about him needing to be self sufficient. To hold his own without Gavyn. To not drag Gavyn down with him. To grow up, or at this rate, even afford himself the opportunity to.
Steeling himself more strongly against the force, against Gavyn, he opened himself back up to the force in the world around him to catch any sense of any incoming danger, and turned back to his droid, focusing on his next shot.
Gavyn trained the barrel of his rifle on the probe droid as it swooped past Tyro, and started a course for him. He lined up the shot through the scope, and the stun bolt cleanly deactivated the droid. He glanced around, double checking that there was not another droid nearby, before moving ground. He stayed low, moving quickly across the space without cover until he reached Tyro.
"The rest will be here soon." Gavyn noted. He resisted the urge to ask why Tyro had shut himself off. Something this serious was probably going to uncover a rats nest of other issues to work though. They would just have to communicate the old fashioned way. "What's your plan, Tyro?"
"No tricks," Tyro responded plainly, every bit as stoic and emotionless as a knight should be. "Just stand here and fight." He looked around again, making sure he wasn't missing any dorid that might be sneaking up on them while he was talking to Gavyn. "Got some cover here. I'll pick off whatever is coming while it's still at a distance with the rifle. Stay cautious and deliberate, don't try anything heroic. Let the enemy show their hand first. If it gets too close I'll use my other blaster. Heal myself if I have to. Survive."
Gavyn wasn't sure what to make of Tyro's behavior. He seemed angry- agreeing with him, but not taking any of his words to heart. Did he reprimand him, or congratulate him? There was no clear answer, so Gavyn decided to help him. "Alright." He said matter-of-factly. "I'll watch your six." Gavyn turned around, scanning the woods for any sign of a droid.
Tyro opened his mouth to protest that he wanted to try this without Gavyn's help, but it was too late. The unmistakable buzz of probe droid filled the air. Tyro only tracked it for a moment before firing. No reason to draw this out. The droid dropped, entirely deactivated by the stun bolt, to the ground. No time to celebrate the victory though, he could hear another one approaching from the other side of the hill. Gavyn stood firmly behind him, watching his back, but Tyro already had the next shot lined up. Besides, it wasn't fair to rely on Gavyn. He needed to do this by himself. Planting himself firmly he took down that droid too with one swift and well-aimed shot. Efficient.
Before he could turn back to his post though he felt the unmistakable sting of a stun bolt smash into his side. Tyro stifled a gasp; he couldn't be weak. Immediately, before the paralysis could take any hold, he took a deep breath, filling his body with the force, and exhaling the effects of the strike from his body.
For a moment he was disoriented as to where it had come from, he could hear buzzing on both sides. They were closer than the others, he could probably only get one more good shot from from the rifle...He fired, clipping the droid, sending it spinning. It started to fall to lose altitude as the bolt coursed through it, shorting its systems, but not before it got off one more shot. Good. This was what he had been anticipating.
Tyro threw himself to the ground as the fading probe droid shot. The bolt zoomed past where his head had just been, smashing squarely into the droid on his other side. The final probe droid fell to the ground as Tyro stood back up, victorious.
It was too soon though, Tyro realized as he felt the numbing sting of a bolt hit his right arm. The other droid must have hit just right to only take out its flight systems. Before anything else, Tyro drew his blaster pistol with his left hand and shot the thing. With a final spark it stilled, dead at last.
Tyro looked around quickly, checking to make sure everything was dead before focusing on his arm. He grasped at the force, but his mind was still reeling from the careless mistake he had just made. Or maybe, he considered realizing the heavy weight in his body was not from the stun bolt, he was just tired. This healing thing seemed to take a lot out of a person.
Hiding the arm that was quickly going limp behind his back Tyro looked up to Gavyn, the beginnings of a smile and expectant hope filling his eyes. He had done it. He had taken out all the droids by himself. Without Gavyn needing to save him. No force. No lightsaber. No tech. No tricks. Just like Gavyn had been trying to teach him.
Gavyn looked around. Tryo had taken out all the droids… and quickly. It was good work, but something about this wasn't sitting right with Gavyn. Tyro still wasn't reaching out to him. He was hardly even talking to him.
When Gavyn stood up, and looked back down at Tyro, his expression was darkened. "You still think you're going to fight this war all on your own." Gavyn said softly, as though it were an observation.
After all of this training, and Gavyn still couldn't get that through Tyro's mind. His apprentice was still leaping to risks, being the lone gunslinger, focusing on power and not on tactics. The regret was etched in his face, he couldn't teach Tyro fast enough out in these training exercises. The only way he'd learn now was the hard way… if he survived to remember the lesson.
Gavyn shouldered his rifle, and started down the hill to pick up the deactivated droids.
Tyro's heart fell as Gavyn spoke. He had hoped that after three days, he would have been used to hearing Gavyn say he had failed. There was something more defeated about this though, more final. As much as Gavyn's words stung, they clicked. It was too late but he got it now, or at least this part of it.
Gavyn wasn't just trying to teach him how to fire a rifle or take cover. It was the bigger picture; these were all tools, they were only useful when chosen for the right task. To find the safest and simplest way to survive.
He wanted to bury his face in his hands but he couldn't, they were frozen firmly in place now. Despite his efforts to hold it at bay, the effect of the stun bolt was now seizing up the rest of his body. He sat down hard, pulling his legs up to his chest before they froze there as well.
So that was it then. Gavyn was done with him. It seemed fair, he tried to reason. Really he was not cut out for the kind of work Gavyn needed him for. Tyro stopped himself there before his thoughts took him anywhere darker. There is no emotion. Instead he centered himself. Sitting still to meditate was never so easy.
They needed to get back though. Gavyn had his army he had to meet up with. Tyro couldn't let his sulking get in the way of that. The truth was, without Gavyn's help he would be stuck like this for at least a few hours. Letting go any preconceived notions about needing to impress anyone, needing to be mature, the future that he had just slated himself for, Tyro cautiously reached out to Gavyn. A quiet nudge, letting him know he needed help. This too was a tool, and now was the time to use it.
Gavyn felt the call, as subtle as it was, like an alarm. He stopped suddenly, all the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. After all the radio silence from Tyro, this caught his attention.
He jogged back up the hill, only to find Tyro on the ground, stuck. Of course, the stun blast must have grazed him. Something else had changed in him too. His apprentice didn't seem ashamed about asking for help, not like he would have been a few minutes before. Regardless, Gavyn didn't want to make a big fuss.
Without saying a word, Gavyn sat down next to Tyro and put his arm around him. Resolving the stun was simple, Gavyn guided Tyro through the Force, demonstrating how to shake energy back into his frozen limbs.
Although Tyro still had a lot to learn, Gavyn was glad that this training mission was over. Being a drill sergeant from dawn until dusk was exhausting. He missed the simple companionship that was put on hold in lieu of unforgiving exercises. He would much rather be Tyro's friend and stand beside him, rather than his officer and challenging him.
Tyro sat for a long moment, still unmoving even after Gavyn had helped unfreeze him. This was so much better, being here beside Gavyn. He knew he didn't understand it all yet, but shutting his master out like that had been wrong. Letting out a breath he dropped the barrier he had created in the force, pushing himself closer into the arm Gavyn had around his shoulders.
Gavyn was relieved as Tyro dismissed the wall between them. The strength of the Master-Padawan bond surprised him, and the sudden memory of his former Padawan leaving him bubbled to the surface. Maybe that was why the barrier had stung so much. When she had left, he felt that bond sever as well, different than when his Master had been killed, of course. That was violent and painful, like something being torn from him. It was this abrupt, but unremarkable silence that disturbed him, like their connection was nothing more than some circuits that could be powered down.
"Master, I failed," Tyro said finally. "And I failed you. I didn't do any of it right, but really I didn't understand the bigger picture in what you were trying to show me." It was a statement, an observation. As a Jedi of any age, was appropriate to acknowledge these things.
Gavyn shook the feeling and focused on giving Tyro the attention that he needed. "Well, you learned something, didn't you?" Gavyn asked gruffly, but optimistically. The only way to fail training was to walk away without learning anything.
"You taught me how to heal myself. And I kind of get that other military stuff," Tyro offered quietly. "I get that you meant that skills are tools. You use them when you need them. You were saying try the simplest thing first." Tyro picked at the hem of his robe as he thought out loud. "But I wasn't good at any of it. We have battles to fight and...and all this stuff is going to happen and I'm not good enough yet."
"I've had to rely on you for everything lately, and I've never had to do that before, and I just wanted to be able to let you, and me, know I can stand on my own, you know? Not drag you down."
"I've always been good at everything. I'm just not good at the stuff you need me for."
Gavyn knew that is was mostly true, and couldn't bring himself to argue immediately. Of course he didn't blame Tyro, that would be ridiculous. For someone who had never seen war before, he was doing much better than most. If Tyro was feeling ill prepared, or was struggling to learn, then it was on his shoulders. It was his responsibility as his Master to teach him what he needed to know. It his efforts to not coddle Tyro, maybe he was pushing him too hard.
"It isn't your fault." Gavyn told him.
"That's not an excuse," Tyro frowned. He was better than that. He had always felt useful to his former master. As much as he was content doing his own thing most of the time, he had always been eager to serve, to show he was proficient at his craft. The realization suddenly sent icy tendrils through his veins. He was positive he himself had never done anything dark sided, but how much had he contributed to? The thought of it made him feel sick, and he curled up tighter, hand digging into the leg it was wrapped around, but he was supposed to have let all of that go by now. I'm exhausted is all, that's it. He was still inefficient at healing himself this reminded him. Tossing the force around like that earlier left him drained and sleepy. Acknowledging this, he turned himself back to the present.
The truth was though that he didn't know what his place with Gavyn was. He wanted to be helpful, but he didn't want to serve him. So far his time spent with the Jedi Master had been a strange mirror of his experiences from the year before, the same, yet opposite. Based on what he had heard about Gavyn before becoming his Padawan he had worried it would have been dangerous to trust the man, but the emotions and connection he felt from Gavyn were honest and good-willed -- completely different than the glimpses he had had seen of his former master. It was an odd conundrum really. If nothing else, it taught him that mindless following was dangerous. Thinking back on today it seemed Gavyn had been in his own way trying to show that as well.
The whole circle of thought lead him back to exactly where he had been before. "So far I've spent more time in a hospital bed than I have anything else," Tyro said regretfully, continuing his thoughts out loud. "I was scared. And when you weren't there I was angry. And as soon as I realized that, I knew it was wrong, and I hated it. I thought I was good at things. And if nothing else, I thought I was a good Jedi, but so far I've been none of that with you."
Gavyn found it strange that Tyro didn't think he was very skilled. Compared to his own abilities at that age, Tyro had far greater mastery of the Force. He was clever and resourceful when it came to technology and problem solving. Gavyn always felt like he had to work tirelessly to learn anything. Practice, and practice, and practice. His own master was never satisfied with anything less than tight discipline, and perfect execution. What he lacked for in subtlety using the Force, Gavyn always had to make up for with brute strength and good judgement.
"It just means your training isn't over yet." Gavyn said. It felt cold, even as the words dropped from his mouth. He was starting to sound like his own Master.
He gave Tyro a pat on the back and stood up. "The gunship should be here soon. We should make our way to the RV."
Tyro stared at his boots for a moment before mustering the strength to move. He picked up the blaster rifle and slung it across his back, grabbing a probe droid in each arm before shuffling into step behind his Master. Distantly he observed the way the leaves crunched under his boots, or puffs of dirt rose up around them. He wasn't used to the feeling of the living force in a place like this; it wasn't bad, just different. Mostly he realized he would be missing it once the rejoined with the rest of the army. He had to wonder how Gavyn could deal with that all the time, all the pain and fear. But before that came their transport, and being on a ship meant being able to sleep. If today had shown him anything, there was still a lot to learn.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! We'd love to hear any feedback about what you liked/disliked, the characters, or what you would like to see more of! :)
We'll have the next story up soon-
Look forward to an ice planet, a search and rescue operation, and a side of Gavyn that leaves his apprentice questioning if this Master is no different than his last, as Tyro takes on his first solo mission as a Commander of the 122nd.