JN-5594 walked up to the viewing platform. It wasn't a order, because she – wasn't above orders, never, but good enough to be given autonomy in her actions – and this pertained to the mission.
Scout out the territory. Images are never entirely accurate.
The planet was green. That was the first thing she noticed. A place of jungles and blue lakes deep enough to appear black.
“Looks like some kind of paradise, doesn't it?”
JN-5594 frowned under her mask as she glanced at the officer. He was leaning against the railing at the edge of the viewing platform, relaxed in a way that the troopers never were.
You are a soldier.
He seemed to be waiting on a response, since it was a kind of question, so she said: “Paradise, sir?”
“Didn't cover that in trooper class?” he asked, looking at her now. She didn't know if this was a test or not.
He shrugged and turned back to look at the planet. JN-5594 let out a quiet breath. So she had passed the test, or it hadn't been a test at all. Either option was good.
The sun lit up the planet from the other side, creating a lurid halo around the endless jungle.
“It's a religious concept,” the officer said. “The perfect place, free of death and suffering, where all people can live in peace and harmony.” He sounded amused.
“Unrealistic.” JN-5594 said, because she was pragmatic, before anything else. After obedient, before everything else.
He looked at her again and smiled a crooked smile. “Isn't that what we're trying to create?”
“Not even the Jedi could defeat death,” JN-5594 said. It was the safest option, and also something she was allowed to know. They liked to go on and on about the Jedi in lessons, about how there was only one Jedi left alive today, about how mad they all were and the world is a better place without them. JN-5594 supposed it was, because she didn't know any Jedi, and the First Order existed now.
The officer didn't reply. JN-5594 watched him out of the corner of her eye as the ship drew closer to the planet, prepared to land on the surface of a massive lake because there was nowhere else on the planet that wasn't covered in vegetation.
“So you're the cleaning crew?” the officer asked.
“Yes sir,” JN-5594, slightly distracted by the bodies she could already seen at the edge of the lake, small in the distance. “I'm in charge of the cleaning crew.”
Water filmed the window of the viewing deck as the ship touched the surface of the lake. The officer spun on his heel. “Well, come on then,” he said. “You've got a lot of work to do.”
JN-5594 fell in behind him.
Really, he hadn't quite been right. She was the head of the cleaning crew, but there wasn't a lot that she was allowed to do, in this situation. The brief for this mission had been clear and underlined in its insistence on no explosives, no fire. None of the usual cleaning procedures, along with a reduced need for it. Up to a half of the cleaning had already been done for them. And the rest-
The officer pushed at a body with his foot at the edge of the lake. JN-5594 wasn't sure why he did it, because he wasn't part of the cleaning, he was an officer, but the body rolled over anyway.
The suit filtered out most useless smells, and JN-5594 was glad of it as she watched the officer's face wrinkle in disgust. From this angle, she could see the collapsed rib cage of the body, dark with decaying matter. She watched it mingle with the water and cursed the perimeters of the mission.
“Sir,” she said. “If we are allowed to use fire, then the planet will be safe to inhabit in a shorter time frame.”
The officer muttered something that sounded like paradise, then said: “That isn't necessary.”
“I'm sorry sir,” JN-5594 said, pushing it because he had seemed to encourage questions back on the viewing deck and she was just trying to do her job. “But then what exactly do you expect us to do?”
One of her crew was already cutting into the vegetation in front of them, thick and apparently impenetrable. JN-5594 thought she didn't like this planet: her idea of beauty didn't lean towards nature uncontrolled.
The officer turned slightly, hearing something she didn't, ignoring her, and pulled his blaster, shot three times into the thick jungle.
JN-5594 breathed in and out once, banishing the fleeting fear of a moment of he's going to decommission me I'm sorry I don't want to die and nodded at one of her troopers to cut a new path in that direction.
She shouldn't have been afraid at all. If she was going to be decommissioned, then she would deserve it. You are a soldier. You do not fear. You are a soldier.
She didn't want to think about it. She had a vague feeling that thinking about her fear was something wrong, so she was glad when the trooper stopped and stepped aside to reveal a body.
Bleeding, glassy-eyed, still bleeding.
Troopers bled, but they were troopers, and this was a predator. An enemy. An obstacle.
“That,” the officer said. “Making sure that nothing escapes.”
“Yes sir,” JN-5594 said, watching the predator carefully. It didn't seem to have access to any sort of advanced technology – how had they even survived this long – which was good. There was a wound on it's leg that looked old, shallow enough that it had survived this long. It wasn't breathing at all: the shot to its head might it had died instantly.
Good. JN-5594 had no patience in listening to the last words of the dying. They were never as important or useful as the words of survivors.
If you're dying, you aren't good enough. You have nothing to give me.
“And the rathtars, sir?” JN-5594 asked.
The officer shrugged. “Capture them if you can, but if they injure your crew, just kill them. We can always breed more. Most of them should be dead by now anyway.”
“Yes sir,” she said, and signed for three-quarters of her crew to spread out and do exactly that. It would take a long time to get through the entire planet, small as it was, and the officer didn't need that much protection. Especially if he had better hearing than her, which was still vaguely embarrassing. She would have to find if that was a defect of her suit or just him later.
They encountered a starving rathtar deeper in the jungle, and shot it down easily enough. As the predators would have been able to do if they had actually moved into the current century.
After that, they didn't encounter after that was still alive.
The officer almost looked disappointed by it. JN-5594 was more disappointed by the bodies leaching into the ground and water supply, forbidden fire, poisoning the planet. When she pointed it out again to the officer, disgruntled and offended on a professional level enough to do so and telling herself you should not have fear, he said:
“You know, I like you. I'll ask for you on the next mission.”
He had stopped to clean his boots against the vegetation. Officers were even worse than troopers about cleanliness. It was his own fault: he should have stopped inspecting the bodies. It wasn't necessary.
It was possible that JN-5594 was just annoyed that the officer hadn't addressed her concern.
“The pollution, sir,” she said again.
“Come on,” The officer rolled his eyes. If JN-5594 rolled her eyes, no one ever knew. It was more satisfying than one would guess. “It's natural. Planets have survived massacres before.”
JN-5594 wouldn't call it a massacre: the correct terminology was a cleansing. Massacres were for things like the destruction of that trooper colony over on Ger-11 by the Resistance. Massacres were for the innocent, like the thousands of troopers in training. Troopers that would have served under her, if they had survived.
Massacres weren't for predators.
But then, this officer was slightly strange. It was probably just another eccentricity.
He was also right, though. Planets were experts at surviving blood-letting. It just took longer.
And water systems. JN-5594 would be happy if they just could keep the lakes clean. But she had pushed enough, so she just nodded.
It was another week before they had managed to cover the whole planet, and then they left Trillia to consume its old inhabitants, piece by piece.