- Recommended Age Rating:
- PG-13 (Violence/Minor Blood)
- May–June 2012
- Star Wars: Clones
- Previous book:
- Book 1: Tales of A Shiny
- Next book:
- Book 3: Empire Rising
If you enjoy this book, please check out my YouTube channel, since I'll be starting an audio version of this series on September 21st!
Chapter 1: Search
Ace pointed his index finger towards a building. Like shadows in the dark, Jolt and Circuit run across the ground, aiming their DC-15A Blaster Rifles around. Ace held his hand to his helmet, silently signaling through his sound-proof helmet to Spike, who is set up in sniper position atop the building he was nearest to. Spike said, “I’ve got your back, move whenever you’re ready Ace.” Ace dove out from behind the half-toppled pillar he had been standing behind for cover. His armor flashed in contrast to the dull colors around him. His armor was a medium blue, with touches of dark purple marking the sides of his helmet. His helmet was modified beyond the recognition of a standard Phase I helmet. On top of the modifications he had made to it when he was still in training, he had also added several new things, including a short range scope attached to the left part of the visor. He had sawed off the fin on the top and raised it a few inches to add more circuitry. He had also added a long-range comm antenna, allowing him to communicate with any trooper on an average-sized planet. Ace scanned the terrain; he and his team had been sent to check out a possible smuggling operation allowing several advanced cannons to be built somewhere near here. He saw no droids, but there was no guarantee the separatists were even involved in this. Suddenly something caught his eye. A flash of movement in a building to his left; he had seen the reflection of a sniper scope. He rolled across the ground, firing several shots towards the building. A sniper blast zoomed past him, just barely missing his heart. Spike fired several shots from his sniper position towards the building. Suddenly a figure bolts out from the building, throwing aside his sniper rifle and pulling a sub-machinegun off his back, firing it towards Spike. Spike ducks and falls back to reload. Ace dives behind a pile of crates, throwing a grenade towards the unnamed sniper. The figure moves, but is still caught in the blast and thrown backwards, stunned. Ace was about to fire a round of shots at the stunned sniper, but suddenly the entire pile of crates collapsed, just barely missing crushing Ace. Ace whirls around, aiming his blaster towards the building. Two more figures emerge from the building, both holding sub-machineguns as well. Ace holds his hand to his comm and says, “NOW!” Suddenly the two recently-emerged figures were thrown off their feet by a massive explosion. Circuit and Jolt jump off the roof of the building, hitting the ground running. The two clones unload several rounds into the two figures, causing them to fall to the ground, dead. Ace whirls around, scanning the area for the first figure. After a few minutes of scanning around, he says into his comm, “He’s gone, must have escaped while we were preoccupied with the other two.” Suddenly Ace hears a yell over the comm as Spike yells, “Get down! There are armed explosives in the building!” Ace threw himself behind the remaining crates as the building explodes in a lightshow of fire and smoke. Ace holds his hand to his comm, “Status Report!” Two voices reply over the comm, “Jolt, here.” “Spike, here.” Ace holds his hand to his comm, “Circuit, come in.” No reply comes. Suddenly Jolt says, “I found him! He’s not moving!” Ace yells into his comm, “Snake! Get in here! We’ve got a man down!” Suddenly a speeder bike comes zooming from along the street, with a clone on it. The clone, Snake, the team’s medic, gets off the bike and rushes over to the motionless clone. He pulls off the downed clone’s helmet and glove, and puts an I.V. into his arm. With the help of Jolt, he lifts the trooper onto a stretcher attached to his speeder bike, and zooms off towards the clone’s gunship. Ace holds his hand to his comm and says, “Jolt, Spike, we need to search the nearby buildings, there may still be evidence.” The other two nod and along with Ace they walk into one of the buildings that are still intact. Ace flips on his solar-recharging floodlight attached to his DC-15S and shines it around, searching for possible proof of the cannons. Suddenly there’s a flash of movement, and a Weequay jumps out from behind a box, firing several rounds towards Ace, who just barely ducks in time. Ace jumps into the air, flying over the head of the Weequay. The Weequay turns around, aiming his rifle at Ace. Ace ducks down, grabbing onto the Weequay’s legs and knocking him over. Ace pins the Weequay to the ground, forcing him to drop his rifle. Spike rushes over, holding the Weequay down while Ace scans the area near them. He fires several rounds of bullets into the darkness, and two more Weequay fall from behind several crates, dead. Ace walks over to where they had been standing, and uses his DC-15S to blow a lock off of one of the crates. The box’s lid falls off, revealing a huge stash of high-powered laser cannon cell rounds. Ace holds his hand to his comm and says, “Come in base, we’ve found evidence of the cannons, requesting pick up.” A voice replies, “Copy that CT-29-5590, a gunship will pick you and the evidence up in 3 minutes. Ace and Jolt close up the crate again, and carry it outside the building, and Spike leads the Weequay outside. A few minutes later a gunship lands nearby. The gunship is the standard white color, with blue stripes painted along the wings and cockpit of the ship to match the 501st legion. One of the gunship’s doors open and the three troopers and their prisoner step inside. Two other clones are already in the gunship; one has the standard blue markings of the 501st legion, probably a sergeant. But the other catches Ace’s eye; His armor isn’t at all like his own, it’s painted a thick black color, and the clone’s fin is sawed off. His helmet is shaped differently than Ace’s, instead of the rounded ‘I’ shape of his own visor, this clone has a more ‘T’ shaped visor. The clone also has several high-quality explosives strapped to his leg, along with medpacks and other pieces of high-tech equipment. Ace recalls hearing about these types of clones; they were Clone Commandos, specially bred for high-reconnaissance missions requiring tough troopers. He turned to the trooper, removing his helmet and saying, “You’re a Clone Commando, aren’t you?” The trooper nods, and removes his helmet. Ace almost gasps at the clone’s face. It’s almost unrecognizable as a clone of Jango Fett. The trooper has four long slashed scars running down over his face, going right down through his eyelids. The clone blinks and Ace realizes that the clone has metal prosthetic eyelids. The clone reaches out his hand, giving a surprisingly friendly smile and saying, “The name’s Hammer, and you are?” Ace says, “CT-29-5590, but my teammates call me Ace.” Ace says, “If you don’t mind me asking, is there any particular reason you’re here?” The commando’s face turns into a frown, and for a moment Ace thought he had offended the trooper, but the clone says, “No, it’s fine. My team and I were dropped off here to investigate a large building that might have been a possible smuggling operation. My commander ordered me to stay outside the main entrance and guard it, and a few minutes later the whole building exploded. They are presumed dead.” Ace says, “I’m sorry to hear that.” Hammer says, “But that’s just part of war, there are always casualties.” The clone replaces his helmet as the Gunship lifts out of the atmosphere of the planet, and Ace does the same. Soon they reach a large Venator-class star destroyer, and the Gunship lands inside the main hanger. Ace steps out and stares around; clone pilots are rushing back and forth in front of him, frantically making repairs to damaged V-19 Torrents and Gunships. The clone commando turns to Ace and says, “Nice meeting you, perhaps we’ll see each other again sometime.” Ace nods and the trooper walks away towards the other side of the hanger. Ace turns to Spike and says, “You and Jolt take the evidence and the prisoner to the Captain; I’m going to check on Circuit.” They nod and Ace turns towards the medical section of the ship. He walks down the long rows of wounded troopers, and stops at the bed of his comrade. Snake is looking after him and he turns to Ace and says, “He’s got a pulse, but he hasn’t woken up yet. He suffered a huge shock to his whole body when he was thrown, it gave him a minor concussion, but he should be fine in a few days.” Ace nods, glad that he hadn’t lost another trooper. Suddenly a voice over the loudspeakers says, “Troopers! Man your stations! Two Separatist Warships have just emerged from space at lightspeed!”…
Chapter 2: Battle in the SkyAce braces himself against the wall as the entire ship is shaken. He rushes down the hall towards the bridge, dodging past pilots that are running in the opposite direction to man V-19 Torrents and Gunships. He rushes onto the deck, where four clone officers are yelling commands to troopers over the comm system. In the center of the room, Jedi General Skywalker and Clone Captain Rex stand next to a hologram projector that’s in the center of the room. Ace walks over to them and says, “Sir, have my men brought you the Weequay prisoner and the evidence yet?” Rex turns to Ace and nods, and General Skywalker says, “I’ve tried interrogating the Weequay, but he doesn’t know much of anything. He was ordered by his commanders to guard the buildings along with several other Weequay, he wasn’t told why, and didn’t even know about the cannon cells, which leads me to think that the Separatists are involved in this.” Ace nods and Skywalker says, “I’m going to help the men with the battle, Rex, I want you to continue leading the battle based off the plan I just gave you.” Rex nods and says, “Ace, I want you to man one of the bridge turrets, considering you’re an experienced sniper, you should be able to handle firing from a turret.” Ace nods and walks into a gunning turret, he smiles as he presses the button to deactivate the auto-lock. He zooms in with his telescopic rangefinder and fires a shot from the twin cannons, downing a Vulture Droid. He spins around and around in the turret, downing many droid ships. Ace listens as Rex shouts orders; from what Ace gathered, Anakin was leading two gunships towards one of the Separatist Warships, and they had just landed inside the left hangar. Ace wished he could be there, but he knew that he needed to keep himself focused on helping where he was now. He aimed carefully, blasting apart a Vulture Droid that had been about to shoot down a damaged V-19 torrent. He glances at the pilot inside as the figure gives him a small nod of gratitude, and then lands inside the Venator’s hangar. Suddenly Ace watches as the bridge of one of the Separatist Warships, apparently the one that Anakin and his men had entered, exploded. Ace watched as Anakin’s starfighter and one of the gunships emerges from the hangar bay, and then he sees the Republic ships zoom in to finish off the crippled Warship. Ace watches as many of the droid ships land inside the remaining Warship’s hangar, and then it warps off into space at lightspeed. Anakin soon enters through the door of the bridge, smiling and saying, “Well done Rex, you positioned the troops in all the right places, the plan went perfectly.” Ace pulls off his helmet, letting out a deep breath as he walks away. He spots Spike and Jolt standing on the other side of the hangar, switching out their ammo cartridges and trying to make any small modifications that might make their weapons more accurate. Spike looks up and spots Ace, and he says, “Well look who decided to join the party.” Ace looks confused but Spike gives him a big smile and says, “I’m just messin with ya, but where have you been anyway?” Ace says, “Rex told me to man one of the turrets in the main bridge, and I took down my fair share of Droid fighters, what about you?” Jolt says, “We manned some turrets down here too, but I barely hit anything, those ships move out of range way too fast, you have about a millisecond to hit them before they zoom across to the other side of the ship.” Ace half-nods and then he turns to go check on Circuit again. He’s surprised as he meets Snake and Circuit coming down the hallway from the medical section of the ship. Circuit is limping a little, but he has a big smile on his face. Ace says, “Nice of you to finally wake up, you had me worried, I thought I’d have to ask Rex for a shiny to be assigned to the team!” Circuit rolls his eyes and says, “Thanks…I think.” The three of them return to where Jolt and Spike are standing. Ace notices Anakin and Rex standing nearby, and when Rex sees Ace he says, “Ace, I need to speak with you.” Ace walks over to the two of them and he says, “What’s up Captain?” Rex says, “We’ve just gotten word that the Warship that just retreated has come out of hyperspace above Geonosis, our troops there are being overwhelmed, and they’ve requested assistance from us since we’re the nearest reinforcements, I’d like you and your team to come with me when we go planet-side.” Ace says, “Yes sir!” Rex says, “Get your men prepped with the equipment you’ll need on Geonosis, the dust storms that get kicked up down there can be pretty bad, and will totally knock out standard sensors and communications.” Ace nods and turns to his team, and they go towards the mini-armory to get fog-resistant scopes. Ace spots a special binocular attachment for a standard clone helmet; he grabs it and replaces his telescopic sensor with it. He and his team rush towards the hangar, and step into a gunship along with Rex and two other clones. Suddenly, before the doors can close, a clone trooper clad in black armor rushes up and jumps in with them. He turns to Ace and nods, and Ace recognizes him as Hammer, the clone Commando. He nods back and the gunship takes off. They zoom down towards the surface of Geonosis, and Rex says over the comlink, “Alright men, we and seven other gunships will land near where the distress signal came from, we’ll form a ring with the gunships and use them as a temporary shield, any questions.” He says in that familiar tone that Ace had heard before. He didn’t say it as if it were a question, because he knew there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding. Ace checks his clip and sees the familiar 500 number on the display, indicating that his clip was full. He folds down the binocular visor and switches it on, staring around the gunship, even though it was almost pitch black, he saw in full-brightness. The gunship touched down and the blast doors open, and Ace heard a sound he was well-accustomed too; Battle…
Chapter 3: Triple-Zero
Ace rolled out of the gunship, firing a spray of shots at an oncoming group of droids. Ace stared around, seven of the gunships had landed successfully; the eighth’s pilot had been fatally hit and had crashed about a hundred yards away. The seven remaining gunships had formed a ring around the surviving clone’s base, and were now firing upon the unprepared droids. Ace saw a super battle droid with a modified rocket arm aiming towards one of the gunships and yelled into his comm, “Rex! Incoming rocket on Gunship three!” five clone snipers threw themselves out of the gunship only seconds before the deadly rocket hit it, causing a massive explosion. The gunship exploded, and its wing flew off to the left, colliding in a second explosion with another gunship. Ace yells “Fall back!” to his men, and they ease backwards towards the damaged gunships, desperately trying to protect the opening in the protective ring. Ace looks up and watched as two LAAT/c gunships fly in from overhead, disconnecting their AT-TE’s, and then landing to close the gap in the ring as best they could. Ace looked to his left and saw Hammer attach an anti-armor grenade launcher to the front of his DC-17m and fire two grenades towards a group of droids. They explode and a dust storm is kicked up. Ace stares through the cloud of dust, firing more rounds at the droids who were struggling from not being prepped for these conditions. He pushes forwards, blasting through droid after droid. He smiles; almost every shot he fires downs a droid. His team pushes through the droids with ease, and suddenly Ace hears a robotic, “Fall back!” from one of the droids, and watches as the droids rush back towards their ship. Hammer rushes forward, switching out his anti-armor grenade launcher attachment for a sniper attachment, and aims it carefully. Ace says, “Don’t waste your ammo; hitting a few of them won’t make a difference.” But Ace’s eyes widen as the clone fires a single shot towards the ship. The pilot of the droid ship lets out a metallic scream as it’s hit dead on, and its head is blown off. Due to this, the droid ship can’t take off, and the droids are forced to stay and fight. Ace smiles and pushes on forward, picking of droid after droid. After a few minutes, all the droids nearby had been destroyed, but before they could celebrate, a giant shadow loomed over them. Ace stares upwards at a giant droid vehicle, one he didn’t recognize. He hears Rex yell, “Ace! Get your men out of there, it’s a seismic tank, it will create a crater wherever it hits!” Ace and his team rush back towards the ring of gunships as the massive piston comes crashing down. Ace and his team jump into the nearest gunship and it lifts off as the piston hits the ground. Ace watches as the ground is pushed downwards, crushing hundreds of troops, clones and droids alike between the surface of the planet and the large metal cylinder. Ace looks around, checking to make sure his entire team had made it to safety, his eyes widen as he notices that Hammer is missing. He holds his hand to his comm and says, “Hammer!” A voice replies, “I’m ok! I got into another one of the gunships.” Ace lets out a sigh of relief, but his ease didn’t last long. He stares downwards, both of the AT-TE and three more of the gunships had been crushed along with any of the surviving troopers on the ground, leaving them with less than 50% of the troopers they originally had had. The gunships zoom towards the giant tank, and Ace quickly switches out his clip for the one on his belt. His team jumps out from the hangar and onto a deck on the massive vehicle. Jolt and Circuit rush over to the control panel on the door, ripping it off and begin slicing it. (Slicing is a term meaning to hack into an electronic device, usually a locking mechanism). Ace looks upward and fires several rounds up at a group of droids that were peeking over the edge of the deck above them. Circuit gives the door a kick and it slowly opens, revealing two battle droids with their backs turned to them. One of them says to the other, “I don’t understand why we’re guarding this door; the general said we’d take down the clones in the first shot.” They turn around and Jolt shoots both of them. The team rushes in, aiming their blasters around in case there are more droids. The five of them rush down the hall towards the bridge of the ship. Two droid commandos with orange armor emerge from the deck. They both jump into action when they see the clones, and open fire. Ace dodges a shot from one of them, and leaps forwards, using one of the droids as a shield and blasts the other one. Ace doesn’t bother to hack the door, he yells for them all to stand back and throws a grenade at it, causing the entire doorframe and several feet of wall to explode with it. The five clones rush through the opening, firing blasts around and destroying all the droids on the bridge. Ace yells over his comm and says, “Get everyone away from the tank, we’re going to rig it to blow!” Ace turns to his men and says, “Alright, Snake and Circuit, you head for the bridge below us and set up as many explosives as you can; Jolt and Spike, you have this bridge; I’ll take the bridge above us.” The clones all nod and split up, Jolt and Spike lay the mines they have with them all over the control panels on the bridge, and activate a timer for the self-destruct sequence. Snake and Circuit head down the elevator to the level below, setting explosives inside the piston’s generator and several other important electronics, then they head back out to the deck for pick up. Ace fires a shot at a battle droid nearby. He rolls around the corner, firing two more shots that down a droid down the hall. He steps into a small room filled with electronic equipment. Ace says to himself, “This looks like a good place to set off some fireworks.” He places several bombs around the room, and is about to leave, when suddenly a droid walks in, firing a shot that nearly hits Ace. Ace jumps at the droid, pinning it to the wall and shooting it in the head. Ace rushes down the hall towards the elevator, and is met by two more commando droids. He rolls between them, placing a detpack on one of their feet, and triggers it as he moves away from them. He presses the button for the elevator, but as he does the doors open. Six commando droids step out, and open fire on Ace; Ace ducks round the corner, just barely missing getting hit. He stares at his arm, “Four minutes until the bombs explode; I gotta get out of here!” Ace rounds the corner again, firing several rounds at the droids commandos, but they just keep coming! Six more emerge from the elevator, and two of them carry out a portable turret. Ace jumps back behind the wall, and his eyes flick back to his wrist “2 and a half minutes!” He rushes down the hall in the opposite direction, and throws his last grenade over his shoulder as the droids follow him. He stares ahead, “Dead end!” Ace turns back towards the droids. There are nine of them now, all firing their blasters. Ace looks at his blaster’s ammo display, it reads “000” He whispers in a voice barely audible “Triple-Zero” he turns back towards the dead end, he takes a deep breath, and dives through a window, plummeting downwards towards the deck forty feet below…
Chapter 4: Ambush
Ace lifts his head, he stares around. Then he groans, he has a horrible aching feeling in his head. Snake walks into the room, and says, “Easy Ace, don’t try to move, you’ve got a concussion and four broken ribs.” Ace says, “That explains why I feel like I got hit by a podracer, ow!” he says as he reaches for his side, and then slowly lies back down. Four more clones enter the room, one of them is Jolt, and the other two are Rex and Hammer. Ace glances over at them, and Rex says, “You’re lucky, if it weren’t for Hammer here, you wouldn’t have made it.” Ace says, “What happened?” Rex says, “You came flying out of a window above us, and we had already taken off, we thought you had been shot down, but Hammer noticed you after we had already taken off. According to Circuit and Jolt, the explosives had about 30 second left on them, and I thought we’d never make it to you before they exploded, but Hammer thought otherwise. He jumped right off the deck of the gunship, hit the ground running, grabbed you and dove off the edge of the deck back into the gunship. The tank exploded about 8 seconds later.” Ace stared in shock at Hammer; this clone commando had risked his own life to save his. Ace said, “So I assume the battle is won now?” Rex frowned and shook his head, “No, unfortunately that group we attacked wasn’t all of the droid army, the rest of them managed to escape in a separatist warship and headed through Hutt Space, towards Rhen Var. Since we aren’t allowed through Hutt Space, we’re having to go the long way around.” “Having to? How long have I been out, where are we now?” Rex glances at Hammer, “You’ve been out for about 60 hours; we just passed Mandalore a while ago.” Ace says, “but, that means we’ll be there within a day, and my team needs me-” Rex interrupts him, “No, you won’t be able to fight this one Ace, you’re too badly injured, you and Snake will stay here. I will take the rest of your team down planetside.” Ace says, “But-” Rex shakes his head, and then leaves, and the other clones follow him. Ace stares up at the ceiling, suddenly feeling sick at the thought of his team being without him, the world around him begins to darken, and he drops back off into unconsciousness…
Suddenly Ace’s head shoots up, and he looks around. The lights are off, and the room is dark. Suddenly the familiar dim red grow of the auxiliary lights comes on, and Ace listens as a voice comes on over the speaker system. “Everyone! Man your battle stations, Droids have boarded the main bridge! Repeat, Droids have-” The voice is cut off by a scream and a loud explosion. Ace forces himself to get up, ignoring the aching pain in his chest. He stares around, and reaches for his DC-15S on the stand next to him. He tears a sheet off the bed, wrapping it around his chest to hold his broken ribs in place. He winces as he feels pain jolt through his body, but he still gets up and loads his blaster. Suddenly the door at the end of the hallway explodes, and six commando droids burst through the opening, firing shots all around the room at the wounded clones. Ace ducks behind the bed, and tries to ignore the sounds of helpless clones being massacred around him. He jumps back up firing a spray of shots towards the unsuspecting droids. Three of them fall, and another one is picked off by a well-aimed grenade. Ace ducks again, and winces in pain as he accidentally bumps his chest against the stand. Suddenly the sounds of blaster fire stop. Ace looks back over the bed, to see Hammer standing in the doorway, his DC-17m blaster attachment smoking. Hammer looks around, and Ace hears him say, “Only a droid could mercilessly slaughter so many helpless clones.” Ace stands up and shouts hoarsely, “Hammer, over here!” Hammer turns towards him, and says, “Ace! You’re alive!” Ace nods and says, “I need my armor, more droids must be coming!” Hammer nods and they head for the door opposite of the one Hammer had entered. They enter a room with several sets of armor, the mini-armory. Ace walks over to his own set of armor, and grabs his helmet, flipping on the HUD to make sure it was still working. After he sees that it’s fine, he puts on the rest of his armor and grabs several grenades along with another blaster clip. Ace and Hammer run back towards the medical bay, picking off several droids as they go. They go through the destroyed door at the other end, and both stare in shock when they reach the end of the hallway. Inside the hangar explosions are going off. One end of the hangar has been sealed off due to the field that keeps the deadly vacuum of space out being destroyed. On the other side, a gunship is trying to escape with a squad of clones, but suddenly a Vulture Droid zooms through the protective field and unloads it’s payload of missiles. The gunship explodes, and Ace stares in horror as the clones inside the hangar are burned to death. Hammer and Ace navigate through the warzone, making their way towards the bridge. Ace and Hammer rush through the place where the massive door leading to the bridge used to be, and head down the hall towards the bridge. Ace and Hammer round the corner and simultaneously shoot down the two droids guarding the door. Ace slams his hand down on the keypad. He throws a grenade through as the door opens, and ducks back behind the wall as it goes off. While the smoke clouds the air, he turns back around, taking advantage of the low visibility to shoot down the droids nearest to him that managed to avoid the explosion. Hammer rushes forward, attaching his Anti-Armor grenade launcher attachment to his DC-17m, and fires two grenades into the mass of confused droids. Finally the dust settles, and Ace finishes off the last droid, who is crouching behind the holographic projector in the middle of the room. Ace looks around and takes in the damage. His heart sinks as he sees the dead form of the bridge admiral. Had he already been killed by the droids before he got there, or had he been the one to kill him with his spray of shots or his grenade? It was too late to think about that now. Ace rushed over to the projector, and switched it on, the sound still worked, but the visuals were gone. He typed in Rex’s comm number, and said, “Captain! Are you alright down there?” There was a moment of crackling, then a hoarse voice replied, “Ace? Is that you? Is the ship ok? Did the droids capture the bridge?!” Ace lifted off his helmet, wiping the sweat off his head, then said, “They took control of it for a little while, the admiral is dead, but we managed to take them by surprise and recapture it, we sealed off the hangar, so unless the droids make their own entrance, no more will be able to enter the ship. Are you alright down there?” Rex replies in a tone edged with defeat, “No, somehow the droids had reinforcements down here, as soon as they saw us land they launched two attacks, one on us, and another group flew off into space to attack you, I’m glad you were able to hold them off, but we didn’t have quite as much luck. Ace, listen closely, I want you to get a pilot, and activate the ship’s hyperdrive, I want you to get back to the nearest Republic base and bring back reinforcements. Understand?” Ace’s eyes widened and he said, “But, there’s no way you can survive down there for that long!” Rex replies, “Ace, you heard me, that’s an order!”…
Chapter 5: Cold AssaultAce ran the situation through his mind again, trying to find a way he could save Rex without directly disobeying his order, then he thought of something. He turned to Hammer and said, “Are you up for a ground mission?” Hammer said, “But Rex said-” Ace stopped him, “Rex said to get reinforcements, but we don’t need to be on the ship in order to do that.” Hammer nods and says, “Alright, you get a pilot to fly us down in a gunship, I’ll get a pilot to get the hyperdrive warmed up.” Ace nods and they both run off to find pilots. A few minutes later they meet again at the bridge, Ace has a pilot and a co-pilot following him, and Hammer has a bridge sergeant with him. The sergeant sits down at a control panel and begins flipping switches, and Hammer and the two pilots head back towards the hangar. Ace shouts to five other clones that are nearby, apparently a team of clones that had just been sent out of training for their first mission. They run towards him, and he orders them to get inside the nearest functioning gunship. He and Hammer head to the armory, each grab a pack of supplies and six cold assault helmets, and then get inside the gunship. Ace yells over his comm, “Open the hangar warhead!” The massive wall of metal lifts about halfway, enough for the gunship to fly out, and then it closes again behind them. Ace is thrown off his feet and almost hits his head on the floor as the gunship is rocked by a shot from a Vulture Droid. Ace rushes over to the left gunning pod, and shouts for Greeneye, the shiny sniper, to get into the other one. Ace takes aim and fires a shot at the Vulture Droid, blowing it to pieces, but three more take its place. Greeneye fires a shot, blowing off the wing of one and causing it to crash into another one. The third Vulture Droid zooms past, and fires a shot at the gunning pod, Greeneye screams as the metal plate holding the pod to the rest of the ship explodes, and the pod breaks off from the ship. Hammer yells, “No!” and dives towards the pod, grabbing onto Greeneye’s leg. The pod floats off into empty space, and Hammer yanks the flailing clone back into the ship, then seals the door off. Ace looks at Hammer, this commando had yanked yet another life from the jaws of death. Ace turns back to the Vulture Droid, but it had already been shot down by a well-aimed shot from the rear autoturret. Ace looks back as the giant Venator-class star destroyer warps through hyperspace. He had nowhere to flee to now; he was now alone in this small transport vehicle.
A few minutes later the LAAT/i broke the atmosphere, and there was a deep silence except for the sounds of the gunship’s engines as they hummed across the sky. The ship neared the ground, and landed inside a crater in the ice. Ace slides the cold assault helmet on, and then detaches the telescopic eye from his own helmet and replaces it on his new helmet. The team of seven head off towards where Rex had last been, apparently inside a small abandoned village to the east. Ace tells the pilots to stay inside the bay, and keep watch. Ace blinked his eye, then realized that this helmet didn’t have the circuitry or sensors to detect his eye movement. He grabbed the attachment and turned it manually, staring towards the north. He saw no signs of battle, which could mean that Rex had hidden himself well enough to avoid the droids, though it could also mean that they had already been killed. Ace shook the thought from his head, and kept moving forward. Suddenly there was a scream behind him, and he whirled around. A massive creature was looming over two of the shinnies, it was a Wampa. Ace fired a spray of shots towards the creature, but all it did was make the creature angry. It threw its arms out, hitting both of the nearest shinnies. Ace ducked as the creature jumped forward and swung its arm towards him. Suddenly it let out a screech of rage and fell over, motionless. Standing behind it was Hammer, his DC-17m anti-armor grenade launcher attachment smoking. Ace rushed over to one of the shinnies, who was lying motionless on the ground. He bowed his head and then said, “He’s dead.” Hammer said, “So is this one.” Greeneye, Bolt, and Slice bowed their heads at hearing their teammates were dead. The team of five clones kept moving, all of them glancing around every couple of seconds to make sure there wasn’t another monster hiding somewhere. After two hours of constant walking, Ace said, “Alright let’s take a moment to rest.” The three shinnies practically fell over the moment Ace mentioned rest, and Ace looked at them, feeling a little sorry for them. This was their first real mission, and it was probably the hardest one they would ever face. Suddenly there was a crunch of snow to the left, and Ace grabbed his DC-15S and moved into a lying down position in one swift movement. He scanned the area, there was a hill a little ways off, and as he watched, a wounded clone walked over it, and fell to the ground. Bolt rushed over to him, trying to help the wounded clone. Suddenly the clone jumped to his feet and shot a blast right at Bolt’s face, killing him instantly. In the commotion the helmet slid off to reveal the head of a droid commando. Ace fired two shots at the droid, knocking it off its feet; a third shot to the face finishes it off. Ace walks over to Bolt, sadly looking at the shiny, who had only been trying to help. Ace realized that if Bolt hadn’t been so quick to rush up, Ace probably would have been the one at the receiving end of the blaster instead. In anger, Greeneye unloaded an entire clip of shots into the commando droid; until the clone armor it was wearing was so beaten up it was unrecognizable. The group kept on moving, now reduced to half the size it had started out at. Ace stared at the looming building ahead; it was a faded gray that had probably once been a sleek blue. Ace lifted his index finger and middle finger, signaling the team to stop. He turns the telescopic eyepiece and surveys the buildings. Suddenly he spots a flash of metal, and looks at a window to see the barrel of a sniper rifle sticking out; Ace dives forward and yells, “Scatter!” a spray of shots zoom down towards him from the window he had seen the rifle in, and from two other windows. Ace rolls to the left and fires several shots up at the sniper he had first seen, and a droid drops out of the window and crashes down to the courtyard below. Ace swings his blaster around, shooting at a second sniper, and Hammer shoots down the third. Suddenly a group of clones, about twenty of them, rush from outside a cave a little ways off. Ace is relieved to see Rex leading them, and spots his team, Circuit, Jolt, and Spike among them. The clones rush towards the downed droids, grabbing their weapons and rushing into the buildings. Ace runs into one of the buildings as well, leading his team against a group of surprised droids. Ace jumps on top of a commando droid captain, holding his blaster to its head and blowing it off. He throws the droid across the room, knocking another droid commando off its feet. He aims his blaster at yet another commando, but before he can shoot it, Hammer grabs it from behind and smashes its head against the wall, shattering it. The group rushes upstairs, and Ace ducks just in time to avoid being shot by a commando droid with a PLX-1 portable missile launcher. Slice dives forward, grabbing onto the PLX-1 and forcing its barrel upwards. The droid pulls the trigger again, and its second shot flies upwards into the ceiling raining down mortar and stone on the group. When the dust settles, two more droids from the floor above lie demolished on the ground. Greeneye suddenly lets out a “No!” as he runs over to the limp form of Slice, who had been struck by a falling piece of stone. Greeneye just sits there for a moment, mourning the loss of his last teammate, then he gets up and runs over to the window, unloading the rest of his clip into a droid foolish enough to peek outside a window. The team rushes back down to ground level, and Ace scans the area, looking for any remaining droids. Suddenly Ace spots something off in the distance. He turns his telescopic eyepiece, and he just sits there for a moment, then he says, “Rex, we’ve got company, at least a thousand droids heading towards us, fully armed with a dozen AATs.” There’s a pause, then Rex says, “How close are they?” Ace says, “About half a klick sir.” Rex said “They’ll reach us in about eight minutes then, alright, everyone, move! We need to get back to the gunship!” Suddenly Hammer spoke up, without using his comm, “We’ll never outpace them, they can take down our gunship from a thousand feet with a single shot from one of those AATs.” Ace said, “Then what do we do?” Hammer took off his helmet and looked Ace right in the eye, “Go, I’m going to hold them off for as long as I can.” Ace said, “No! There’s no way you can survive against that many droids.” Hammer said, “The rest of my team is dead. I’m just a lone wolf now. I can’t fully help the Republic anyway without the rest of my team, at least I can go down fighting, and to save my fellow clones.”…
Chapter 6: Retreat
Ace concedes, and along with Greeneye, he heads towards the gunship, followed by Rex and the remains of his team. Ace takes one last glance back towards the village, and sees Hammer nod to him from the window. Ace salutes him, then he turns back towards the gunship. Hammer attaches his sniper attachment to his DC-17m, and fires all 20 shots from it, downing droid after droid. Then he attaches his Anti-Armor grenade launcher and fires two shots down into the column of droids, causing them to scatter. He ducks back down, and fires another shot at an AAT, causing it to explode. Suddenly he whirls around at the sound of footsteps, he attaches his blaster attachment, and unloads it into four commando droids as they come up the stairs, he throws his last grenade down the steps, causing it to explode along with four more commando droids. Suddenly his feet crumble from underneath him as a missile hits it, he yells as he falls to his death at the bottom of the building.
Ace stares at the gunship ahead, he opens one of the bay doors, and solemnly looks down at the two pilots inside, both of whom had died from the harsh conditions. Rex gets inside the cockpit and starts up the engines, and Ace puts on his standard helmet. The team of seventeen clones cram inside the bay area, just barely able to fit inside with their weapons and equipment. Rex yells over the speaker, “Alright, everyone hold on tight, I’ve been trained to pilot this thing but I haven’t flown one in ages.” Ace straps his DC-15S to his back and grabs a handle in the ceiling with both hands. The Gunship launches into the sky with a loud thump as the snow slides off the wings. Ace stares down through an open spot in the bay door, and sees the small demolished ruins, the one Hammer had been in was completely destroyed, and below he sees the parts of one of the AATs, Hammer had saved Ace’s life once again. Suddenly Ace was thrown to the left, causing him to let go of the handle and topple over two more clones. He stared outside the window, and his eyes widened. Thirty Vulture Droids were flying up from the planet, and had opened fire on them. Ace dove into the remaining gunning pod, but before he could fire a single shot, a wave of missiles flew down from above and destroyed half the Vulture Droids. A few moments later a squad of V-19 Torrents flew down to finish off the Vulture Droids. Then a voice came over Ace’s comm, “Didn’t think we’d let you have all the fun, did you?” Ace let out his breath, it was Snake, and as the gunship turned to the left Ace saw two Venator- Class star destroyers floating above the planet’s atmosphere. A few minutes later Ace was standing on the bridge of one of the Venators. He stares around, his teammates were ok, Spike had been shot in the leg, but he would recover within a week, all that mattered was that they were alive. All of them, except for Hammer that is. He remembered the determined look in the commando’s eyes. He turned to Rex and said, “Sir? If you don’t mind I’d like to go make some entries to the casualties list, several members of my team died in the rescue mission.” Rex nods and Ace heads off towards his bunker room. He switches on the computer next to the bed, and types into the log, “RC-26-7632, designation codename ‘Hammer’. Died 20BBY on Rhen Var, killed by numerous droids. Additional Notes.” Ace paused for a moment, then continued, “RC-26-7632’s last words were, ‘at least I can go down fighting, and to save my fellow clones.’ End of entry.” Ace started another entry, “CT-29-9942, designation codename ‘Slice’.” Ace was stopped as a clone walked into the room and removed his helmet. Ace closed the log and said, “Oh, hey Greeneye.” The clone said, “Hi, do you have a moment?” Ace nodded and Greeneye continued, “When we were in the hangar and you yelled for my team, why did you choose us, didn’t you think we would be completely killed down there?” Ace said, “When I saw you Greeneye, I overheard you say you would do anything to help save the troopers down there, and I had a feeling you really meant it.” Greeneye nodded and said, “I’ve lost every last member of my team, and I have no idea what to do now, I don’t want to be reassigned to just any clone team, and watch them all be shot down around me.” Ace nodded and said, “I’ve got an idea, you stay here, I’m going to go get somebody.” Ace left the room and headed back towards the bridge, when he got there everyone was gone except for Rex and his second in command, Androx. Ace motioned for Rex to come over and said, “Rex? I’d like to make a request for a certain clone to be transferred to my team, due to the loss of his teammates.” Rex nods and says, “Alright, I’ll see what I can do.” Ace typed into the entry, “CT-29-9946 designation codename ‘Bolt’, Died 20BBY on Rhen Var, killed by a droid commando disguised as a clone trooper. End of Entry.” Greeneye came bursting into the room and said, “You asked for me: a shiny, to be assigned to your advanced stealth team?!” Ace said, “No, I asked for you, Greeneye, an advanced stealth team member to be assigned to my advanced stealth team.” Greeneye was bursting with excitement. Circuit and Jolt walked into the room, helping Spike, who had been shot in the leg during the battle, into the room. Greeneye nearly toppled all three of them over as he ran out of the room. As Jolt helped Greeneye lie down on the bed, Circuit peeked out the door as Greeneye ran down the hall, then said, “What was that all about?” Ace said, “That, is the newest member of our team.” Circuit looked at Ace and said, “But, he’s only-” Ace interrupted, “He’s the only survivor besides myself of the team that rescued you.” Circuit nods and says, “Well, he won’t be a survivor much longer if he keeps barreling down the hallways without watching where he’s going.” Circuit leaves the room along with Jolt. Spike glances at Ace and says, “He reminds me of you, back when we were on Kamino. You were aspiring to be the best clone trooper you could be, and you did amazing in the training. But you could never follow a single order that was given.” Ace smiled as he remembered his days on Kamino, then his mind flashed to a clone that had come to him when he was on Kamino. His name had been Trauma; he was an ARF Commander under Jedi General Halsey. It had been about 2 months later that Ace found out he had been killed along with all of his team and the Jedi by a Zabrak Sith named Savage Oppress. Ace grabbed his helmet and began doing what he always did when he didn’t have anything to do, modifying it to help him in the field. He grabbed the Cold Assault helmet he had used on Rhen Var, and cut out the advanced breathing filters from it. He slowly modded it into his own helmet, carefully going around the circuitry for his auto-lock detector.After about two hours of solid work, he slid the helmet over his head. He put his finger underneath the chin of the helmet, and flipped a small switch. He felt the air being filtered, slightly cleaner than the air he had been breathing without the helmet, his work had paid off. He jumped as Greeneye said, “Wow, how long did it take you to do that?” Ace slid of the helmet, a little annoyed that he had been watched without his knowing. Then he pushed away his annoyance and said, “About two hours maybe, it would have been harder if I didn’t have the breathing filter built inside the cold assault helmet.” Greeneye’s abnormal green eyes sparkled. Apparently he had had some defect that changed his eye color, he had no other changes to his DNA, and it didn’t really cause any problems. It made him stand out in a group. Standard Clones had brown eyes. Rex was also one of the few clones with a defect like this, his eyes were a slightly redder shade of brown, but they didn’t stand out quite nearly as much as Greeneye’s did. Greeneye said to Ace, “I’ve always wanted to make some additions to my helmet, like add an auto-lock or something. You wouldn’t happen to know how to do that, would you?” Ace smiled and looked at Greeneye, “I think I could help you with that.” Ace grabbed his tools and Greeneye ran off to grab materials. Ace watched the clone run down the hallway, and a smile spread across his face. He and Greeneye were going to get along well...
To be continued in Book 3: Empire Rising (Link at the top of the page)
Behind the Scenes and Trivia
Originally Jolt was going to die at the beginning of this book, during their search for evidence of smuggling.
Originally Greeneye was going to die on Rhen Var along with the rest of his teammates, but I wanted to show that shinies aren't just expendable troopers that always die. So I decided to keep him alive, and he came a rather beloved character in later books.