A clones story about trauma and healing after witnessing order 66. Set before Rebels
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars, or any of its properties ([Legends and Canon material alike] the Characters, the Planets, events, ships, Gear, etc. Mentioned in this story). All those belong to George Lucas, Lucasfilm, and Disney. This story is for entertainment purposes only.
Clone Commander, CC-3636 (also called "Wolffe" by his clone brothers) looked around at the rest of the "Wolfpack" squad as he exited the Wolfpack's Laat/i gunship known as Plo's Bros. Comet, Sinker, Boost, and Wildfire, followed their commander, as the gunship touched down softly.
Shortly after learning about a complication with the inhibitor chips in clone troopers, Tup and Fives (and their tragic fates), Wolffe became skeptical of the integrity of the chips. The fact that their security could no longer be guaranteed, made them a potential threat to the forces of the Republic; that was something Wolffe was not willing to risk. As a result, the Commander removed his own chip.
It had taken some convincing, but the rest of the Wolfpack eventually agreed that removing their inhibitor chips was the best way to ensure the safety of the Republic; they didn't need any more clones loosing their minds in the heat of battle.
For the most part, the Battle of Cato Neimoidia was over and the Republic forces had achieved victory. The clones of the 442nd Battalion had been able to infiltrate a Separatist stronghold and deactive the droid armies on the planet. The Wolfpack's mission had been to extract the wounded members of the 442nd Siege Battalion off the planet, while Jedi Master Plo Koon did a final sweep of the area from the air; but that soon changed once they received a new set of orders.
"Execute Order 66."
The shock hit him like a blast of cannon-fire. There's no way General Plo is a traitor? Wolffe thought. He looked at the rest of the Wolfpack, who were just as confused as he was.
"'You hearing this, Commander?" asked Boost. "I don't believe it! There's no way the General would get mixed up in anything that would make him a traitor! No way!"
"I heard..." Wolffe answered; a sliver of uncertainty in his voice. "But until I see evidence of his involvement, I'm callin' the General so we can get this mess sorted out."
Just as Wolffe was about to contact the General, he looked up. The sight that met his gaze caused him to hold his breath. His eyes widened; He watched in horror as Captain Jag's ARC-170 starfighter opened fire on General Plo's Delta-7 Aethersprite-class light interceptor; which exploded in mid-air, high above the Bridge City Wolffe and his men had just landed on. What was left of the Jedi Master's ship crashed into a building nearby.
Wildfire began running towards the burning wreckage.
"I'm going to check the wreckage for General Plo." He said. "Traitor or not, he'd do the same for us."
Before the Commander could protest, Wildfire was already long out of earshot and racing towards whatever remained of the General's ship. A moment later, the Commander was faced with another problem.
Wolffe noticed a group of three wounded Jedi Knights making their way towards the gunship for extraction. The Wolfpack watched as the clones around them suddenly raised their blasters and prepared to fire; almost as if in a trance.
"Good Soldiers follow orders..." The brainwashed clones chanted, in their hypnotic state.
"Execute Order 66."
The Commander heard the order, but he could not bring himself to follow it. Something about these orders made him feel uneasy. He noted a sudden behavioral change in the surrounding clones the moment they had received those orders. It appeared the rest of the Wolfpack had seen it too.
"Commander...Look at them..." Boost remarked. "They're in some kind of trance..." He quickly grabbing a nearby clone by the shoulders and shook him; trying to wake him from his trance. "Snap out of it, Soldier!"
But the Clone did not listen. He just shrugged Boost's hands off him and once again raised his blaster; pointing it at the unsuspecting jedi headed their way.
"This isn't right." Said Comet; quickly raising his own blaster and pointed it at the brainwashed clone. "Stand down, Soldier!"
The Clone didn't react; nor did he make any attempt to lower his blaster.
Comet tightened his grip on his own blaster; still pointing the barrel of it towards the Clone. "I said, STAND DOWN!"
"What're you doing, Corporal?" Boost shouted in objection. "They're not in their right mind! You can't just shoot them!"
Comet held his blaster steady. "'You got any better ideas, Boost?"
Boost reluctantly shook his head; he didn't know what to do.
This is getting out of hand. Thought Wolffe. There was no way the Wolfpack could stop a full battalion of clones from killing the jedi before they reached the gunship for extraction.
The surrounding clones continued their chant. "Good soldiers follow order... Kill the jedi..."
"Belay that order!" Wolffe shouted, drawing his weapons; but his words fell on deaf ears.There was no reasoning with the other clones. He suddenly came to a horrifying realization: there was nothing he or his men could do to prevent what was about to happen.
All at once, the brainwashed clones fired their blasters at the three wounded jedi.
"HAVE YOU ALL GONE MENTAL?!" Comet screamed, over the roar of blaster-fire.
Two of the three wounded jedi fell victim to the sudden eruption of blaster-fire; while the third flipped high into the air and evaded the blaster-bolts as they ripped through his jedi brothers.
The Jedi was suddenly overcome by a frenzy of rage and grief at the loss of the his jedi brothers. His eyes were seething with a bloodlust for revenge; which made him even more dangerous.
With a wild cry, the Jedi charged the army of clones and mowed a large section of them down with his lightsaber, as he made his way closer and closer toward the Wolfpack's position. If he was going to fall, he was going to take as many of the clones who'd killed his bothers with him before that happened.
Wolffe's eyes widened in horror. The Jedi's rampage was not slowing down as he continued his approach; now only meters away.
The body count the Jedi was racking up was both impressive and horrifying, and the Commander began to wonder if the jedi had been traitors after all.
The Jedi Knight sprinted towards the Wolfpack; clearly under the impression that they had been involved in the death of his brothers.
"Whoa! Whoa! WAIT--" Sinker screamed, before he was cut down by the enraged Jedi Knight.
The Jedi turned his attention to the remaining members of the Wolfpack; there was no trace of mercy in his eyes.
"We're friendlies. We're friendlies! We weren't involved in the--" Pleaded Boost, in an attempt to establish their innocence; before the Clone could finish however, the Jedi swung his lightsaber and in one fluid motion, decapited Boost and slashed through the thick breastplate of Comet's phase II armor.
The helmet containing Boost's severed head bounced on the ground, then rolled to a stop at Wolffe's feet.
Wolffe stumbled backwards as he backed away. The Jedi stalked toward him with eyes now the color of flame; which had changed from a deep blue to a glowing red. The Clone Commander scrambled backwards in a desperate attempt to put distance between himself and his attacker; the glowing green blade was so close that he could smell its distinct sent of ozone from within his helmet.
The Jedi swung his lightsaber at the Clone Commander.
His body was drenched in heavy sweat; he was still breathing heavily; His heart was racing; for a moment his mind was still unable to separate the nightmare from reality.
After realizing he was alone, he lowered his pistol and let out a sigh of relief, and let himself fall back on his sleeping mat. 'Just a dream, he thought, rubbing the surgical scar where his inhibitor chip had once been. The war's over.
The war was over, but the scars it had left on him had remained and were just as visible as the scar on his face. It was the same every night: The memory of that day was forever burned into his memory. The horrific sight of his men, his brothers, needlessly getting killed before his very eyes continued to haunt him. He'd failed to protect his squad. The Wolfpack was dead. To his knowledge, he was now all that remained of it.
Once the clones had snapped out of their trance, the survivors quickly called for reinforcements to help them collect their dead and look for other clone survivors. One of the covert teams were the first to arrive. The moment the clones in black armor arrived on the scene, the sight that met their eyes left them completely speechless. The clone body count in front of them was enormous. The entire Landing Zone had been littered with clone bodies that had been hacked apart by the crazed Jedi's lightsaber.
"One jedi did all this?" gasped Captain Gloom. "He must have taken out a third of the unit himself."
"That's what it looks like." Observed Commander Shadow. "Check for survivors."
The five Clone Shadow Commandos spread out, and were careful not to step on the bodies of their fallen brothers while they searched for survivors. Suddenly, one of the clones noticed movement under the jedi traitor's body.
"Sir, there's one over here!" Shouted Gloom.
Commander Shadow ran over to Gloom's position. Under the Jedi's body was Commander Wolffe, still breathing heavily.
"Help me get this traitor's body off, Wolffe." Ordered Shadow. "He may need medical attention."
Cautiously, the two clones rolled the dead Jedi's body off of Wolffe. When the body had fallen onto the Commander of the Wolfpack, it had knocked his helmet off of his head and had rolled a few centimeters from where he fell. Shadow noticed the scorched entrance wound in the center of the Jedi's chest.
"He shot the jedi at point-blank." Observed Shadow. "'Risky move. Wolffe got lucky. If he'd fired a second earlier, the Jedi could have blocked it and sent the blast right back at him... Or just cut him down before he even had the chance to fire. Still... It's an impressive shot."
Suddenly, Wolffe's body shot upright into a sitting position, clearly bewildered by the events that had transpired with the Jedi.
"The Jedi...THE JEDI!!!" Shouted Wolffe, pointing his DC-17 blaster pistol at anything that moved around him."
"Easy, Soldier." Said Shadow, putting a hand on Wolffe's shoulder. "What happened here?"
Wolffe's eyes widened in terror as he recalled what had transpired. "They attacked... All of them... THE JEDI!...Couldn't stop them...They wanted revenge... Good soldiers... The WOLFPACK!... 'Need to protect my men!" The traumatized Commander's ravings were random. As he continued to relive the horror, he was becoming more and more violent with each passing moment.
Another clone in black Katarn-class armor moved to help the Clone Captain restrain Wolffe. When it became clear that the leader of the Wolfpack was not going to calm down on his own, Shadow saw no other alternative.
"Sedate him!" He ordered.
A third clone in black Phase II clone armor quickly drew a sedative from his medical pouch, injected the needle into the side of Wolffe's neck, and pressed down the plunger.
Wolffe's body slowly went limp, as he passed out once again.
Gloom turned to Shadow. "Poor sod watched all his men get cut down in front of him. That'll stick with him for a while."
After another restless night, Wolffe rolled up his sleeping mat, gathered the few belongings he had, and prepared to move again. He tried to never stay in the same place for too long. It was safer to live constantly on the move.
After the events on Cato Neimoidia, Wolffe couldn't trust his clone brothers. He certainly couldn't trust the new civilian soldiers that were finding their way into the Imperial ranks with the rest of the clone army in the new Stormtrooper Corps. Stormtroopers, he thought to himself. The name itself indicated the Empire's real intentions: to rule by fear.
He'd seen first hand what the Imperial rule was doing to the galaxy. Just two days ago, he'd seen a squad of Stormtroopers arrest a Rodian vendor selling fruit in the marketplace. Not only had they seized his merchandise for themselves the moment he protested, they'd also destroyed his fruit stand, just to make an example of him in front of the other vendors. He'd just been a man trying to make a living and the Imperials had taken everything from him because he'd asked to keep more of his profits to help his family. It disgusted him. He had fought in the Clone Wars to end oppression like this.
The week before, he'd witnessed a humanoid civilian get gunned down by a different patrol of Stormtroopers for attempting to sell a Jedi's lightsaber to an antique dealer. Maybe the man had been a jedi; Maybe he'd just been an unlucky civilian who'd picked up something he shouldn't have. Either way, the thought of jedi survivors hiding throughout the galaxy terrified him.
Wolffe shook his head. Stop thinking about the Jedi, or you'll see them everywhere you look, he thought to himself.
He'd been on his own for months and learned to survive by keeping his head down and blending in with the crowd. His cleanly shaven face, which had met military regulations, now had grown a thick coat of stubble. The combination of the stubble and the large scar that ran across his left eye (which had since been fitted with a cybernetic one) that he'd received during the war from Count Dooku's assassin, Assajj Ventress, made it easy for him to be mistaken as a thug or bounty hunter to the unsuspecting civilian public; who activly avoided crossing paths with such dangerous individuals.
Although he did his best to keep his head down, there was no denying that an Imperial presence was growing and had worked its way down into the Criminal Underworld of Coruscant's lower levels. Wolffe wanted to avoid any Imperial entanglements if he could help it. He needed to get off the planet before things got any worse.
As he made his way toward the transport stations, Wolffe noticed a squad of Stormtroopers checking civilian Identification Cards; something he didn't have. There was no way he'd be allowed on any of the transports without one.
He quickly ducked into the next alleyway as the Stormtroopers got closer. He needed to put some distance between himself and the troopers and turned to run in the opposite direction.
In his haste, Wolffe tripped over a pair of legs and tumbled to the ground. He cursed angrily to himself, as he got to his knees and looked at who had tripped him.
The pair of legs belonged to a drunken Bith refugee who had passed out in the alleyway after having one too many drinks at one of the many local nightclubs in the area. Wolffe prepared to move on and leave the Bith in the dirty alley, but he stopped himself. He needed an Identification Card and he was willing to bet that the inebriated Bith had one on him that he wasn't using. Wolffe quickly patted the alien down, until he finally found the Identification Card and slowly withdrew it from the alien's pocket.
Just then, he heard footsteps approaching. In a flash, Wolffe dived behind a large stack of crates and crouched down, just as four Stromtroopers rounded the corner.
The four Stormtroopers approached the blacked out Bith's side. They were wearing phase II armor with the red markings of the Coruscant Guard. The leader was wearing a pauldron, and Wolffe immediately identified him as Lieutenant Thire. He couldn't identify the other three troopers accompanying the Lieutenant but he had been around enough clones to know how a clone carried himself while on duty; based on the way these Stormtroops were walking, he surmised that two of the three other troopers were not clones. Although they carried themselves like soldiers, there was no mistaking the disciplined stature of a soldier who had been bred for war from birth; especially if he was a member of the Coruscant Guard.
Lieutenant Thire turned to the other Stormtroopers. "Check the Bith for identification."
The other clone bent down and checked the man's pockets. After a quick search of the man's person, he found nothing.
"He doesn't have any identification, Sir." He said. "'Must have left it at one of the clubs in the area...and based on how much he's been drinking, that could be a number of places."
"Wake him up." The Lieutenant growled.
The other trooper bent down and slapped the drunken Bith awake. The Bith woke up abruptly, but it was clear the world was still spinning for him.
Thire pointed his blaster at the Bith. "Citizen, you are under arrest for disorderly conduct and failing to present a creditable form or identification to us."
"Wait...what?" The Bith slurred in his confused state.
"You're coming with us." Thire replied with authority.
Before the Bith could say anything else, one of the other Stormtroopers placed a pair of binders around his wrists and led him away with the others toward the nearest detainment facility.
Once he was certain the coast was clear, Wolffe exited his hiding spot and once again proceeded toward the transportation area. He quickly spotted a refugee freighter bound for the Outer Rim. Perfect! He thought, as he quickly boarded the ship.
The ship was packed with a wide variety of alien species, all cluttered together in the massive ship and bound for new worlds that many had never even seen before.
Wolffe scanned the crowd and took note of the aliens around him. Many of them still wore the filthy clothing they had worn for months, which was now covered in dirt and whatever filth had come into contact with the fabric of their attire, while others simply covered their dirty clothing with robes, scarves, and jackets.
Out of the corner of his eye, he'd seen two or three refugees wrapped in jedi robes. His pulse quickened. Jedi? Here? How was that possible? There was even a moment he swore he'd seen General Plo in the crowd; but then he blinked and the General had vanished. He shook his head. Had he really seen the General a moment ago, or was his mind playing tricks on him? He honestly couldn't tell anymore.
"Relax, Soldier. The Jedi are gone."Wolffe told himself, in a voice softer than a whisper. "No one is coming for revenge. The war's over."
Not long after arriving at a Clone Medical Center on Coruscant, Wolffe was placed in the care of some of the brightest minds in the the galaxy and underwent months of psychological evaluations. Although there was still some improvement in his mental health and behavior, it did not take much to trigger a mental breakdown.
Dr. Trevkon Stopeel, a Human psychiatrist, and two of his colleagues; a female Kaminoan named La Bruvu, and a female Pantoran named Shen Chi; observed Wolffe through a one-way observation window that looked into a clean Assessment Room. The only furniture in the room was a small durasteel table and two matching chairs. The walls were as white as freshly polished clone armor, which gave the room a more sterile atmosphere.
"Clone trooper, CC-3636, has been with us for five months while we've monitored his condition. He suffered deep psychological trauma during the Battle of Cato Neimoidia that has resulted in episodes of aggression, night terrors, and even instances of paranoia." Dr. Stopeel stated observing the Clone's file. "Although he has made some small improvement, he is still haunted by night terrors of the events he witnessed in the aftermath of the battle. His paranoia has created fictitious manifestations of jedi attackers in his mind, which usually results in sudden episodes of heightened fear and aggression; making him a danger to those around him."
The Human doctor sighed as he set the Clone's file down. "Naturally, he feels responsible for the death of his team and continues to blame himself. From what I gather he had a particularly strong bond with the members of his "Wolfpack" Battalion."
The Kaminoan doctor, La Bruvu nodded slowly, in the polite and graceful way her race was as known for.
"That is correct." She said slowly. "CC-3636 and his men served together since the beginning of the war under the jedi traitor, Plo Koon, and took part in many battles vital to winning the war. It is not uncommon for deep emotional bonds to develop between soldiers as the result of their shared experiences. The loss of a "brother" can have lasting effects on a clone's cognitive health."
"I'd like to speak to, CC-3636, again." Said Shen Chi.
A 2-1b medical droid approached the Pantoran. "I will accompany you. Might I remind you that the patient may become aggressive." Warned the droid. "Should the patient become hostile, I will move to assist."
"Thank you, MT." Shen said to the droid, before passing through the door and into the Assessment Room.
"She's too close to this one." Trevkon said to La Bruvu, once the Pantoran had entered the sound-proof room. "She forgets, we can't cure all of our patients."
As Shen and MT-1 entered the Assessment Room, the Clone carefully eyed the medical droid. His fists clenched tightly at the sight of it; he didn't trust droids. In his experience, droids were nothing but trouble.
The medical droid stood off to the side, as Shen approached the small metal table in the center of the room.
"Hello, Wolffe." She said with a warm and welcoming smile; Wolffe slowly relaxed his fists. "Please take a seat. We have alot to talk about."
Wolffe slowly sat down in one of the metal chairs and scooched closer to the table. The Pantoran joined him at the table in the seat across from him.
"How have you been sleeping?"
"Same as last night." Wolffe stoically. "And the night before. And the night before that. The nightmare's always the same."
Shen nodded empathetically and let the silence in the air linger for a moment, before she opened her mouth again. "I know this must be very difficult to talk about, but we are making progress with each of our sessions."
She opened up the Clone's file and quickly reviewed where they'd left off in their previous session.
"In our last session, you talked about your team, the Wolfpack. You'd mentioned you served with them since the Battle of Abregado, and after losing the majority of your forces during a Separatist attack, you'd developed a close bond with the remaining clones in your unit. Is that correct?"
"After what happened at Abregado, there was no one I trusted more than those men." He said. "We'd go on to survive more than a few close calls since Abregado, with the help of General Plo..." --He stopped himself.
He'd had great deal of respect for the Kel Dor Jedi Master, who'd earned his trust on more than one occasion during the war; but how could a jedi so concerned with safety of his men have been a traitor. It still didn't make sense to him; yet, it had been a jedi who had killed his men. Wolffe pushed the thought away and continued. "...with the help we received."
Shen had seen the conflict on Wolffe's face. It was clear he needed a moment to recover. She needed to be careful. Pressing the issue too much might cause the clone to have another hysteric episode.
"In the future, do you think it's possible for you to trust another group of people the same way you trusted your men,?" She asked softly.
"No..." He said, grimly. "All the people I've ever trusted are dead."
Trevkon Stopeel and La Bruvu continued to watch the young Pantoran and the Clone through the one-way window of the other room. The Clone clearly was still struggling with an internal conflict that he was keeping from them. There was no way he would ever be allowed to return to active duty in his current state.
"Based on the unpredictable mental state of CC-3636 over the course of these past few months, I believe we agree that he is unfit to return to active duty." Said La Bruvu.
The Kaminoan eyed Wolffe and watched him closely.
"Because there has been little, to no improvement in his condition, perhaps it is best that CC-3636 be returned to the cloning facility on Kamino for termination."
Trevkon turned to the Kaminoan and looked up at her in shock.
"Termination?" He said in disbelief. "You can't be serious."
La Bruvu's face showed no indication that her previous statement had been a joke and retained its usual emotionless expression.
"He's a living being, not a droid!" Trevkon said in outrage.
La Bruvu was not swayed by the human doctor's objection.
"He is a clone." She stated. "A convincing imitation of a living being. A mass produced product created to serve the Republic. And now he is a defective product that must be returned and decommissioned."
"Out of the question!" Argued Trevkon.
"Then what is your suggestion?" Asked La Bruvu.
Trevkon turned away from the Kaminoan, looked through the window, and quietly thought about what to do about the difficult situation; hoping that an answer would present itself.
He watched and listened as Shen continued her therapy session with the Clone in the other room.
"...Why do you believe you are responsible for the death of your men." Shen said to the Clone. "You didn't kill them in cold blood. The Jedi did that, not you. You fought for your life and you survived. Just as you'd done countless times during the war. I believe you can do it again, because you're a survivor..."
An idea entered Trevkon's head.
"For the most part, CC-3636 is mentally stable (with the exception of his night terrors and the occasional psychotic episode) and is able to perform tasks required for day to day living." He said. "Under normal circumstances I would never suggest this...but... there is a place he will not become a danger to the public if he has one of his breakdowns. I think the Lower Levels might be the safest place for him now. It's a place where only the strong survive... and he's a survivor. I'm confident that he will find a way to continue surviving down there, given his experience as a soldier.
He shook his head, agonizing whether it was still the right choice. Honestly, he wanted to help the Clone, but helping him had cost the department alot of credits and yielded small results.
"We need to be honest with ourselves, there's not much more we can do for him, despite what Dr. Chi thinks. I don't want to see him dead; but I also don't want him to continue wasting our funding and resources, when we could be using them on patients that show more promising chances of a full recovery.
"The Lower Levers are the perfect place for him to disappear. I mean, people go missing everyday down there. And sending him down there gives him a fighting chance at survival. He can either find a way to survive on his own, or get killed in the process. Either way, whatever happens to him down there will not be our responsibility anymore."
La Bruva gave a small smile at the thought.
"What about Dr. Chi?" She asked. "Don't you think she will have something to say about this?"
Trevkon hadn't considered that. He thought for a moment, then noticed MT-1 through the window.
"After his session, MT-1 will escort CC-3636 back to his room. Once I initiate a silent order, MT-1's emergency security protocols will go into effect and he will sedate the Clone before he knows what's happening, and prep him for transport. If Shen asks where the clone is, we'll say he was transferred to a new classified facility off-world above our clearance level.
The Kaminoan once again nodded and showed her approval.
Trevkon smiled in satisfaction. "It's settled then. Once the Clone is in the transport, I'll update our records and that will be the end of it."
After the therapy session, MT-1 led Wolffe back to his room. The entire walk back, Wolffe had a feeling that something wasn't right. Maybe it was just his paranoia; maybe not. Wolffe didn't have time to think about it.
The moment they reached the door to his room, the medical droid revealed a small syringe in its hand, and began to approach the Clone.
"CC-3636, remain calm." Said MT-1. "Please refrain from all acts of hostility. This will be over in a moment."
"Hey! What's going on!" Wolffe protested. "Someone get this Clanker away from--"
After a long and uncomfortable journey, the freighter had reached its destination. Wolffe walked down the boarding ramp with his belongings and stepped onto the moon of Nar Shaddaa. The ecumenopolis moon orbited the Hutt homeworld of Nal Hutta and was widely known as a city of crime. Although it was not an ideal improvement to the clone's previous dwellings, the moon was in Hutt Space and out of Imperial jurisdiction. For the moment he was safe.
No! Wolffe reminded himself. Who are you trying to fool? You've just traded one dangerous location for another. He'd heard the stories about the dangers of Nar Shaddaa; this was definitely not a safe place.
He cautiously walked down the crime-ridden streets of the city; keeping one hand on his blaster and the other on his pack. All around him were thieves, smugglers, Black Market dealers and vendors selling weapons, drugs and other illegal goods. He even spotted a Zygerrian vendor selling Twi'lek and Togruta slave girls.
He shook his head in disgust. During the Clone Wars, General Plo and the Wolfpack had been assigned to rescue Togruta colonists from a Zygerttian slave processing facility. He'd seen firsthand how slaves like these girls had been treated...and it wasn't pretty. That felt like a lifetime ago.
Wolffe sadly looked away from the young girls being sold to the highest bidder. In some ways, the clone army was no different than any of these girls. They had been bought by the Republic to fight in a war they did not choose; they'd been sent all over the galaxy wherever the jedi had sent them and they were expected to obey their orders without question; Sure, they'd been given more freedom than most slaves, but they were far from free men.
He looked back at the slave girls one more time, before forcing himself to move on. There was nothing he could do for them.
As he pressed on, Wolffe kept a watchful eye on everyone he passed. Bounty hunters, smugglers, thieves, assassins, and thugs of multiple species littered the streets and preyed on the weak.
At one point, he'd even caught a young Aqualish pickpocket who was trying to reach into his pack and grabbed his arm before he could take anything of value. The young alien soon realized the Clone was not going to be an easy target like the others he'd stolen from, and quickly scurried away the moment his arm was released. Wolffe may have startled the young boy, but he had no doubt the boy would be back out there robbing off-worlders again in the next few minutes.
The former clone commander continued to another section of the block. As he continued scanning the crowd, he could have sworn he'd seen his clone brother, Rex, standing on the other end of the crowded block; but that was impossible. The reports he'd read said that Rex had died during the Battle of Mandalore after fighting a jedi. Maybe his mind was playing trick on him again.
Too enwrapped in his own thoughts, Wolffe neglected to watch where he was walking and collided into a gang of Klatooinians sitting at table and flirting with a Twi'lek slave girl waitress.
"Hey, you! Watch where you're going!" One of the Klatooinians growled in Huttese. He turned back to the Twi'lek. "Now where were we..."
The Twi'lek waitress looked very afraid and uncomfortable as the Klattooninans continued their unwanted advances.
"Maybe we should just buy her off her master." Laughed another Klatooinian in Huttese, taking a swig of his drink. "That way we could take turns having fun with her."
The others laughed wildly at the idea, as the first Klatooinian pulled the young Twi'lek closer, so that she was sitting on his lap. The young girl recoiled and struggled to push herself off of him.
Wolffe couldn't take it. He'd stayed quiet for long enough. Against his better judgement, he opened his mouth.
"With a face like that, it's no wonder you have to pay to get a date with a beautiful woman."
This had caught the Klatooinian's attention.
"What'd you just say to me?" He barked to the clone.
Good. Keep his attention on you. Give the girl a chance to get away. Wolffe thought to himself.
"I thought someone as bright as you would realize when he'd been called ugly." Wolffe said out loud with a shrug. "'Guess your missing brains and looks."
The Klatooinian, now fuming, pushed the Twi'lek girl off his lap and stood up; the Twi'lek girl quickly crawled away before any of them realized she was gone; The Klatooinian pointed at Wolffe.
"Get 'em, Boys!"
Without a moment's hesitation, Wolffe drew his twin blasters from his holsters. But before he could get a shot off, the head Klatooinian threw a stool him and knocked him off his feet.
Before Wolffe could recover, the other Klatooinians grabbed him by the arms and held him in place, as their leader approached him.
"What you say we teach him a lesson boys?" The leader said before punching Wolffe in the jaw. His men cackled as he punched the clone again.
Out of nowhere a blaster-bold landed near their feet.
"That's enough!" Said a voice.
The Klatooinian turned abruptly towards the stranger. Wolffe's eyes widened as he looked up at the stranger; it was Rex.
Rex pointed his own DC-17 blasters toward the Klatooinians. Wolffe noted that Rex was not wearing his usual Phase II clone armor, but there was no mistaking the former clone captain.
"I said drop him!" Rex said with a fearless and almost daring quality to his voice.
The Klatooinians laughed; they too had drawn their own weapons after hearing the blaster-fire.
"I think you're outnumbered, Off-Worlder." The Leader said in Galactic Basic.
They were suddenly aware the stranger had not come alone.
Behind the Klatooinians stood a Clone Commando wearing patches of his filthy Katarn-class armor, with his DC-17m blaster pointed at them.
The Klatooinian gang leader contemplated his men's chances of survival. Not liking the odds, he lowed his blaster and turned to his men.
"Come on!" He ordered in Huttese, as he turned and walked away. "This Bantha Fodder's not worth it."
When the Klatooinians were gone, Rex holstered his blasters, extended his hand, and helped Wolffe up.
Wolffe looked up at Rex in a mixture of astonishment and disbelief.
"Rex?" he said. "Is it really you?"
"But I read the reports." Wolffe continued. "They said you died on Mandalore."
Rex shook his head. "Had to fake my death...with some help...but that's a story for another time."
He looked around cautiously, then turned back to the clones. "Right now we need to get back to my ship.
Wolffe quickly retrieved his blasters and pack off the ground, then followed Rex and the other clone to Rex's ship.
As they ran, Rex gestured to the Clone Commando. "Wolffe, this is Gregor. He also had his inhibitor chip removed after I told him what happened to Fives. 'Glad to see you both got my message about the chips." He turned to Gregor. "Did you forward my encrypted message to Delta-Three-Eight?"
"Yes." Nodded the Commando. "I made sure his team got the message before they were deployed to Kashyyyk."
Before Gregor could finish is thought, the clones had reached the landing pad and were standing infront of a Mandalorian Kom'rk-class Gauntlet starfighter, with Jaig eyes painted on the base of the starfighter's cockpit.
"Hold that thought." Rex interrupted, as he lowered the starfighter's boarding ramp with the press of a button on his wrist.
Once they'd entered hyperspace, Rex put the Kom'rk-class starfighter on autopilot and headed back to the troop bay. He handed Wolffe a small bacta-pack to help with the bruising and swelling on his face. He sat down in one of the empty seats across from Wolffe and Gregor.
"'Glad we found you when we did." Said Rex. "Those Klatooinians looked like they were ready to kill you."
"I just needed to draw their attention long enough to give the Twi'lek a chance to get away from 'em." Admitted Wolffe, pressing the bacta-pack against his bruised cheek. "Besides, I've taken worse beatings than this."
Rex smiled for a moment; he'd seen Wolffe in action on several occasions during the war and knew he could dish out a beating just as well as he could take one.
"So tell us... What brought you to Nar Shaddaa?" Asked Rex.
Wolffe was hesitant. He wasn't sure if he should open up to his clone brothers. "It's....a long story." He finally said.
"It's a long flight." Said Rex. He'd picked up on Wolffe's hesitation. "You're among friends. We'd like to hear your story."
After a moment of thought, Wolffe finally gave in. Over the next hour or two, he'd told his brothers about what had happened to him and his men at the end of the war. He'd explained that it had been a jedi who'd killed his men in all of the confusion and how he'd accidentally killed the jedi in self-defense. He'd felt his pulse quicken as he told his story, but unlike the doctors at the medical facility, his brothers made no attempt to stop or interrupt him; so he continued.
Wolffe then went on to tell Rex and Gregor about his time at the medical facility on Coruscant and how one day he'd just woken up in the lower levels of Coruscant with nothing but his bag of clone armor and his pistols. He went into detail on what life was like down in the lower levels and how he had to keep on the move everyday to avoid the patrols of stormtroopers, until he'd finally decided to try his chances in the Outer Rim, away from Imperial rule.
When Wolffe had finished, he was surprised that both his brothers had hung onto his every word. He suddenty realized this had been the first time he'd shared his full and honest story with anyone. When he'd finished, he looked into the eyes of his brothers, expecting to find judgement; instead he'd found understanding. They knew exactly what he'd gone through, because they'd been though it themselves. He was truly among friends... He was no longer alone.
Rex was the first to speak. "We are free men now. If we continue to live our lives in fear of the past, we are still slaves to it.We have the freedom to choose what we do with our lives from this point on."
Wolffe had to admit, there was some truth to what Rex had said; even if he was not ready to accept it yet.
Gregor was the next to share what he'd seen during the final days of the war. During the Battle of Utapau, he'd served in the 212th Attack Battalion under General Kenobi and Commander Cody. When the fighting started, he'd been ordered to lead his forces alongside an elite squad of Clone Paratroopers. They engaged the droid forces controlling Pau City, while General Kenobi followed the Separatist leader, General Grievous. The battle had been tough, but they'd caught the Separatists by surprise.
During the battle, Gregor had learned that General Kenobi had been successful in defeating Grievious once and for all. Although they had defeated the notorious Separatist leader and driven the droid forces out of the city, there was still a battle to be won. Gregor recalled the exact moment Order 66 had been given and had seen a clear change in the clones around him. He'd heard Cody give the order to kill the Jedi, and witnessed the mounted General plummet to his death in a deep sinkhole after being shot at by a AT-TE.
When the fighting had finally stopped, Gregor explained that he'd snuck onto one of the upper platforms and stolen a nearby ship to escape the planet. During first few days of Imperial rule, Gregor had returned to the planet Abafar and sent out an encrypted message that gave his location on the same hidden channel that Rex had used to warn him about the inhibitor chips.
"A week later, I was picked up by Rex and now here we are." Gregor said, finishing up his story. He quickly pointed toward Rex. "Oh, Oh. But you should hear Rex's story." Gregor said excitedly. "His is really good."
Rex gave a quick smile at Gregor's excitement.
"I guess it's my turn." He said. "You'll have to excuse, Gregor. His head's taken a few beatings during the war, so he gets excited from time to time."
Rex's expression suddenly became more serious.
"During the final hours of the Siege of Mandalore, Commander Tano and I were still helping the Mandalorian Resistance fight Maul and his Shadow Collective. We had him right where we wanted him... But then Order 66 happened. Commander Tano had the chance to kill Maul before he escaped, but she chose to save me instead."
Rex stopped for a moment and looked Wolffe directly in the eyes.
"I owe her my life. If it hadn't been for her... Well..." He suddenly realized he was going off on a tangent. "Anyway, later I swapped my armor with one of my men who'd been killed during fighting then created a false report of how I'd killed my jedi commander.
"While we were digging "my" grave, we agreed that we needed to go our separate ways and disappear somewhere in the Outer Rim. To sell the idea that I'd killed her, the Commander agreed to leave her lightsabers behind against the grave.
"When the leader of the Mandalorian Resistance, Bo Katan Kryze, heard what had happened, she gave me this ship to help me escape.
Rex looked around at the ship and gave a small smile.
"I call it, the Shriek-Hawk."
His tone got serious once again.
Maybe it was Wolffe's imagination, but it looked like there was a tear in Rex's eye.
"I haven't heard from Ahsoka since..." Rex trailed off as he thought about the young Togruta, then wiped the tear from his eye. He let out a cough to clear his throat, and continued the story.
"After leaving Mandalore, I headed to the Outer Rim. A week later, I received Gregor's messaged and picked him up on Abafar.
"Over the past few months, Gregor and I have been lying low on Nar Shaddaa until we'd found a quiet planet where the Empire and the rest of the galaxy won't bother us. We were making a final supply run in the market when we found you."
This caught Wolffe's attention and peaked his interest.
"So you've actually found places to hide from the Empire?"
Rex shrugged. "We had a few planets in mind. Actually, we're on our way to scout one out right now."
A few days later, the Shriek-Hawk finally exited hyperspace and began its approach to the desert planet, Seelos. From the cockpit window the clones could see the planet. They'd noticed that there were no civilizations or spaceports on the ship's scopes.
"That's Seelos." Said Rex. "Don't expect to find any cities or outposts here. The salt deserts cover most of the planet, with the exception of a few mountain ranges. The Empire won't come to it, because it doesn't have any precious resources for the Imps to steal. It's completely isolated." Rex put his hands on each of his brothers' shoulders. "The perfect place for free men to live off the grid in peace."
Gregor sat in the pilot's seat and took the controls.
"Starting our approach, Sir."
The Shriek-Hawk accelerated towards the planet.
Rex let out a chuckle. "Take it easy on those engines, Gregor. We've been pushing them pretty hard as it is. If we enter the atmosphere too quickly, we might have a burnout."
He turned and stopped before exiting the cockpit. "I'm going to send an encrypted message to Ahsoka to let her know where to find us if she ever needs our help."
With that, Rex exited the cockpit, leaving Wolffe and Gregor alone.
As they were beginning to enter the atmosphere, Wolffe noticed that Gregor was not slowing the ship's speed.
"Uh...Shouldn't you slow our speed?" Wolffe asked nervouly. "Rex said if we enter too quickly we might have a burnout."
As if on cue, the two of the rear engines shut down; completely overheated. In the cockpit, several error reports flashed on the ship's data screens, while the emergency sirens went off.
"What was that?" Wolffe asked, knowing that he wasn't going to like the answer.
"I don't know!" Gregor said in a panic. "This is the first time Rex let me fly his ship!"
"YOU MEAN YOU'VE NEVER FLOWN THIS THING?" Shouted Wolffe.
Gregor shrugged. "I figured I'd give it a try. How hard could it be."
Just then, Rex burst into the cockpit.
"What happened?!" Rex shouted. He checked the error reports on the screens. "That's not good. Gregor out of my seat!"
He gave the former Commando a shove and strapped himself into the pilot's seat. He needed to act fast.
"Strap yourselves in. We've lost our engines. We're going down!"
The Shriek-Hawk rocketed towards the planet's surface.
Rex pulled up on the controls with all his might in an attempt to get the nose of the ship up.
The ground was getting closer and closer with each passing second.
"BRACE FOR IMPACT!"
With one final pull, Rex was able to pull the ship's nose up just enough so that it was level with the planet's surface.
As the Shriek-Hawk made contact with the ground, it slid a few hundred meters across the desert, until it finally slowed to a stop.
In the pilot's seat, Rex let out a quick sigh of relief. He'd done it. He looked back at the other clones.
Wolffe gave a thumbs up, while Gregor held the side of his head in his hand.
"Ow." He said, then suddenly started laughing to himself. "'Hit my head a few times on the way down, but I'm still alive."
Rex looked back at the controls, and let out a sigh of disappointment; Everything was broken beyond repair.
"The controls are dead. I used up the last of our power trying to land this thing. Get comfortable, Boys. We're stranded."
He turned to Wolffe.
"Wolffe, head up top and see if you can get a readout on our location."
A moment later, Wolffe put his helmet over his head, forced his way out of the rear loading ramp, and climbed on top the wreckage of what had once been the Shriek-Hawk. He pulled out a pair of macrobinoculars and scanned the area around him.
"See anything?" Rex ask over the radio.
"Nothing." Wolffe answered, still scanning the area.
Just then, he spotted something off in the distance.
He adjusted his macrobinoculars and opened his eyes in amazement.
"I don't believe it..."
"What do you see, Wolffe?"
After the clones had gathered their armor, survival packs, and blasters, they made their way to the AT-TE. There was no camp or any other Republic vehicles in the area. The massive walker sat alone in the hot desert.
The clones approached the lone AT-TE and split up to make sure it was not occupied.
"Careful. It could be a trap." Rex warned. "Watch were you step and check for explosives."
After a thorough search of the walker, they'd determined it was safe to board.
Rex pointed to Wolffe. "Check the power and controls in the forward compartment."
Wolffe nodded and moved to the front of the walker and entered the forward compartment. After checking all of the walker's systems, he was surprised to find that everything hummed to life the moment he powered up the controls.
"All systems in working order!" He reported happily.
Rex wandered into the command pod located in the mid-section of the walker. Now that the power had been restored, all the communications and navigation systems in the walker were up and running; though he noted that the long-range communication module had been damaged and would need some repairs. But that could wait. He noticed a large stack of blasters mounted on the armory shelf on the far side of the command pod. Beside it were a few crates that contained ammunition. He opened a small hatch which led to the walkers cargo hold; which was still filled with supply crates.
Rex smiled to himself; this walker would definitely fit their needs when it came to having a mobile base. They had supplies, shelter, power, a means of transportation, and plenty of provisions that would last for years if they rationed it correctly.
He wasn't sure why the Republic had abandoned the AT-TE on this planet, but he'd take any lucky break where he could get it. With a few modifications, they could make the walker more livable.
He tapped a button on one of the control panels and spoke over the intercom. "Wolffe, steer this thing to the crash site. We can salvage whatever parts and supplies survived the crash and use some of the wreckage to make modifications to this walker."
When the AT-TE returned to what was left of the Shriek-Hawk, the Clones gathered whatever supplies they could save. They removed the starfighter's large bent wings and strapped them onto the top of the walker for the time being.
Rex explained what modifications he was planning to make to the walker and compiled a list of parts they'd need to bring with them.
The salvage mission took half the day. Finally, they were on their last load of supplies.
As Gregor exited the final remains of what had once been Rex's ship, he noticed something shift beneath the ground.
"Uh...guys... There's something moving in the ground." He said, as he pointed his trusted DC-17m blaster at the ripples in the ground. "I've got a bad feeling about this."
Suddenly, a large worm-like creature with bright red eyes, plated-skin, and powerful mandibles emerged from the ground. The creature, which still had the lower half of its body buried in the ground, was about twice the size of the clone.
"It's a Joopa! Gregor, get out of there!" Rex shouted from atop the AT-TE, as he and Wolffe drew their DC-15A blaster rifles.
The Creature eyed Gregor and let out a low hiss.
Instinct kicked in. Gregor pointed his blaster at the Creature, as it got closer and closer, then fired. To his surprise, the thick plates on the the Creature's body protected it from blaster-fire.
Gregor rolled out of the way, just as the Creature lunged toward him with its mouth; only to get a mouthful of some of the smaller wreckage.
Gregor laughed loudly. "This thing is almost as hard to kill as I am..." He switched the setting on his blaster to use its heavy rounds. "...Almost."
Rex and Wolffe watched from the walker as the Creature recovered quickly and turned back toward Gregor.
"He's crazy." Said Wolffe, turning to Rex. "That bump to his head must have knocked something loose."
Gregor ran at the Creature, laughing and screaming, as he pulled the trigger and sent heavy blaster rounds toward it; the heavy rounds penetrated its body with ease.
After a minute or so, the Creature collapsed on the ground with one final roar, as its bright red eyes turned dark and lifeless.
"Take that you ugly, Joopa." Gregor said. He was impressed with the size of his kill. "Look at the size of this! This thing should feed us of a whole week!"
A short time later, Rex and Wolffe helped Gregor carry the dead Joopa back to the walker. Using towing cables and the large Mass-Driver Cannon, the clones were able to hoist the dead carcass onto the side of the walker and hung it from the side-cannons.
The following morning, Rex and his brothers woke up bright and early to begin making modifications to the AT-TE with the parts they'd recovered. Using part of the wings, they started building an external walkway around the top of the walker.
By mid-day, they'd finished welding the first half of the external walkways to the side of the walker and decided to break for lunch.
"Once we finish building the exteral walkway, we should have enough materials left to made a few more modifications to the topside of the walker." Said Rex.
Suddenly, the ground rumbled.
The Clones stopped eating.
"What was that?" Asked Wolffe, grabbing his DC-15A blaster rifle.
The ground shook again; this time much harder than it had before.
The Clones hurried to see what had caused the sudden seismic disturbance.
Suddenly, a massive Joopa, a little longer than the length of the AT-TE, burst out of the ground and let out a roar.
Rex and his brothers stood in stunned shock and looked up at the massive creature as their jaws dropped.
"That's a big Joopa." Said Wolffe.
Before any of them could react, the massive Joopa snatched the smaller Joopa's carcass in its jaws and swallowed it whole.
Seconds later, the massive Joopa burrowed under the hard surface of the desert floor and disappeared.
A year had passed since Wolffe and his brothers had "landed" on Seelos and they had finally finished making the modifications to their AT-TE. Over the past year, the clones had survived, the blistering heat, several bad sandstorms, and even caught a few more Joopas (though, they still hadn't caught Big Bango, much to Gregor's dismay). The stubble that had once been a small shadow on their faces had now become a full beard and small hints of grey now appeared in their hair. But it seemed even getting older didn't seem to slow them down.
Wolffe sat in the command pod and adjusted the final screw on the new long-range communication module that he'd been working on for the past month.
"That should do it!" He said. "The long-range comms are up. Now we'll be able to hear if the Empire's approaching."
"Good work, Wolffe." Said Rex. "I knew we could count on you." He began heading towards the rear door that led outside. "I'm going to help Gregor outside. He's making some final adjustments for the Joopa line. Let me know if we get any messages while I'm away."
"Yes, Sir!" Wolffe said, giving Rex a small salute as he exited.
Wolffe sat alone in the command pod for some time. It was peaceful and quiet. He had to admit, things had changed since Rex and Gregor found him. He'd gone from living on the streets with no food or shelter, to living in a modified AT-TE, with enough supplies to last for years. He'd found a team he could really trust again, and that team had found a planet far out of the reach of the Empire. He and his brothers now had the freedom to choose whatever they wanted to do. He was valued here and had purpose. He hadn't had an panic episode in months and the night terrors were beginning to go away.
He was safe here with Rex and Gregor. Away from war; Away from the Empire; And away from any Jedi. He'd finally found peace. He'd never have to worry about the Jedi coming for him and his brothers ever again. No one would find them here.
Just then, an encrypted message blinked on the screen in front of him. It was from someone using the call-sign "Fulcrum".
Wolffe opened the message: It was a audio file.
"Rex, it's Ahsoka. I'm safe. I hope you are too. Alot has changed since the last time we saw each other. There's too much to talk about in one message, so I'll be brief: There's another war coming. I don't know when it will start, but there are people from all over the galaxy who are tired of living under the Empire and are willing to stand against it.
I've seen what the Empire does to the planets it invades and I can't just stand by and watch while thousands of innocents suffer across the galaxy. I've decided to join the Rebellion. There aren't a lot of us, but there are people from more and more systems joining the cause everyday.
I know I'm asking a lot from you, but we need more leaders who are willing to stand against the oppression of the Empire and fight for freedom. I know we just got done fighting one war, but if we don't take a stand there will be nowhere left to hide.
I would never ask you to leave your home and fight with us; but a day may come when I may need your help again. And I hope I can count on you again like I always have. Stay safe, Rex. I promise I'll be in touch soon. May the force be with you."
Wolffe sat back in his chair and stared at the screen in silence for a long time. Another war? That's impossible. We just got done fighting in one and it was all for nothing. There was no way he was going to let his brothers get sucked into another war like that. And worse yet, there were Jedi fighting with the Rebellion.
No. He thought. There was no way he was going to trust another Jedi with the lives of his brothers. The only Jedi he'd truly known and trusted had been General Plo, and he'd turned out to be a traitor.
He didn't know Ahsoka very well, but the last time he'd come in contact with her, she'd attacked him and the squad of clones he'd been working with from the Coruscant Guard on the lower levels of Coruscant. The young Jedi had resisted arrest while attempting to prove her innocence in the bombing of the Jedi Temple towards the end of the war. Needless to say, she and the former Separatist Assajj Ventress, had defeated him and the squad of Coruscant Guard with embarrassing ease. Later though, he'd been able to stun her before she was able to attack him again. Sure, she's been innocent in the end, but that didn't change the fact that he'd witnessed her attack his clone brothers.
Wolffe had seen too many Jedi attack his clone brothers to trust a Jedi he barely knew. He wouldn't make that mistake again.
He knew Rex, and if Rex heard this message he'd run off and join the Rebellion with the Jedi. If that happened and the Empire ever found out that Rex was helping the Jedi... He didn't even want to think about what they'd to his brothers.
No. He couldn't allow his brothers go get caught up in anything with the Jedi. He'd made a promise to himself that he'd protect his brothers from the Jedi and the wars they'd dragged the clones into with them.
Wolffe tapped a few buttons on the keyboard and hid the Jedi's message in a heavily encrypted file where Rex would never find it. If the Jedi sent them any more messages, he'd make sure that Rex never received them.