Joe's Note: I thought I was gonna make it through the Battle of Kamino in only three chapters. I was wrong. So have more glimpses from the running battle on Tipoca City, including what Obi-Wan's padawan gets up to, what happens when you pit Asajj against a Jedi who hasn't tried and failed to bring her in a dozen times by this point, and what would have happened to General Grievous several times over the course of the CGI series when he ran into if they hadn't needed to ensure his survival for the sake of Revenge of the Sith… Spoiler alert: things go poorly.
Dedications & Thanks: To Nicholas, Alexander, Howard, Alonsis2, Connor, MJ, Daniel, Christopher, Eric, DireSquirrel, Kentucky Fried Dragon, Joseph, mpop, RileyWestfall, bloodylord, Luke, Zachary, Marc, Ziryo, Elliot, Crusifikz70, Timothy, Leigh, Jason, Chris, George, Koby, Ken, Dimitria, William, Invernos, Paul, Pat, Warren, Mitch, and Jess for sponsoring me on , and making it easier for me to spend more of my time writing.
"I maintain that this borders on heretical behavior…"
"Do you still want to try that whole seizing thing with me at some point?"
"Then shut up and load your bugs into this thing." Sienn was fairly impressed with her latest invention: a compressed air cannon that could accelerate her new friend's various living weapons to just within their tolerances, considerably amplifying the damage they caused on impact. It also gave them a magazine of more than two - Dien'vi's left hand and her right - and greatly increased their rate of fire. Considering that most of Kamino's clonetroopers were equipped with blaster carbines rather than the larger blaster rifles necessary to take down the Separatists' more advanced droids in a single shot? Sienn had a feeling that her new toy was going to be very necessary in the battle to come.
Her prediction was borne out as one of the Trident-class assault ships leapt up onto the nearby landing platform, disgorging three dozen aqua droids in a matter of seconds. While almost comically ungainly on land, they were roughly as hardy as the more common B2 battle droids that the Separatists fielded, which meant that the clonetroopers were both outnumbered and underpowered. As the first clones fell to the withering hail of red blaster bolts, Dien'vi turned to Sienn and held out her hand. "May I borrow your lightsaber?"
Frowning, Sienn drew her saberstaff from the sheath on her back and stared at it uncertainly for a few seconds before handing it to the Yiwaahn Vong. "I thought you didn't like it because it was pure technology?"
"For a weapon that will let me cut these abominations down twice as fast? I will make an exception." Dien'vi offered a faint smirk as she ignited the dual blades before spinning on her heel and stomping off to join the failing clonetrooper line. Absorbing two blaster bolts with her body, she spun her borrowed lightsaber to deflect a third bolt headed for her face before letting out a roar of challenge and backhanding the offending droid so hard that it sailed clear across the platform and over the edge. "Welcome the embrace of Yun-Yammka!"
"Moon and stars!" While she'd seen vids of Dien'vi's martial prowess, getting to witness it firsthand was something else entirely. Sienn watched in amazement as Dien'vi set upon the droids with the ferocity of a nexu, using a combination of Sienn's saberstaff and brute force to carve through the opposition with incredible ease. Then the assault ship made a grinding noise, retracting its deployment rack. If it was anything like an AAT or the other Separatist carriers… Sienn narrowed her eyes before slapping her palm down against the top of her air cannon. Digging into the cobbled together systems with her aptitude for mechu daru, she quickly fed it a targeting solution and spun the drum magazine to bring a blast bug into the chamber. There was a low thump as it fired, accelerating one of Dien'vi's explosive bugs to just below the speed of sound. It crossed the gap in an instant, slamming into the ship and detonating violently. The main body of the ship slammed to the deck, shuddering as it was rocked by secondary explosions, the four legs slumping to lie limply atop it. "…well that worked better than I'd planned."
Dien'vi skidded to a stop as she bisected the last aqua droid, looking around wildly before slumping as she realized the battle - at least for the moment - was over. "I was hoping to kill the rest of the droids that the ship was carrying. You blew them up before I could."
Powering up the hoversled that she'd mounted her creation on, Sienn fed it a new set of coordinates and sent it on its way before turning to address Dien'vi's complaint. "You mean I destroyed the Separatist assault ship before it could deliver reinforcements, reducing our losses to a mere five clones?"
"…well, I suppose that you could instead choose to see it that way, yes…"
"I was beginning to think my presence went unnoticed…"
Cordelia smirked as Asajj Ventress turned to face her, leaning casually against the doorframe with an ignited lightsaber in each hand. The Dathomiri looked distinctly surprised to see her, which was quite at odds with her almost casually smug greeting. "Oh, I'm sorry, were you thinking that you'd get to play with Emokin again? Sorry, girlfriend, but it's time to trade up to the big leagues now." The brunette watched as her opponent hooked the DNA sample pod to her belt before drawing her own twin sabers, igniting their blood red blades and quickly settling into a ready stance. "By the way, while I generally disapprove of killing the clonetroopers because, well, Jedi? That bit with the ARC trooper was inspired. Grab, pull, stab, steal the dying kiss? I may have to use it if you guys ever manage to find a living opponent to send against me. Kissing a robot just seems… desperate."
That seemed to throw the woman even more off-balance than her mere existence had, but Asajj managed to shake it off quickly enough and offer Cordelia a smirk of her own as she sauntered forward. "I wasn't aware that Jedi made a habit of Force choking their opponents…"
"As a rule? They don't." While she could use the Force in more and more ways without resorting to physical mnemonics, choking people was still new enough to Cordelia that she had to gesture. And to be honest, she preferred it that way: it was a lot more intimidating when people knew exactly what was happening and why. Extinguishing the lightsaber in her right hand, she dropped it to the floor carelessly before thrusting her hand out in Asajj's direction. She went for the pull before the squeeze, reeling the pale woman in and leaving Asajj suspended in the air as she clawed fruitlessly at the invisible hand around her neck. "Darth Sidious sends his regards."
Asajj's grey eyes went even wider at those words, and then she was flying backward into the column in the center of the room as Cordelia grew tired of trying to maintain her Force choke. Plus her hand was starting to cramp, holding it in that weird exaggerated gripping position. As she forced herself to her feet, gasping for breath and rubbing the back of one hand over her throat, Asajj stared at Cordelia in disbelief. "But you're the supreme chancellor's pet Jedi. How can you-"
Taking advantage of having a free hand for the time being, Cordelia buried her face in her right palm before letting out an exasperated groan. "Yes, because that's not a position that a Sith Lord would want his apprentice in. At all. I swear, I should just officially defect and take over the Confederacy because you're all idiots. How you haven't completely lost the war yet through sheer incompetence, I have no idea." Pfft, as if she ever would. One of the many things that she'd learned from Palpatine was that with supreme power came far, far too much paperwork. That and she was pretty sure that the Confederacy's leadership was deliberately incompetent because his plans involved a leaner, meaner Republic coming out on top in the end. "Listen, you've got the kind of courageous-slash-tragic backstory that could fuel a young adult novel series for years. But… if I exist, that means that Dooku's days are numbered. Darth Tyranus. Whatever. When he dies - probably at my hand, because that's how Sith roll - what do you think is going to happen to his 'problematic from a Rule of Two perspective' apprentice? That would be you, if you didn't realize."
"I assume this is your weak attempt at doing a 'join me or die' speech?"
"I'd offer to be frank with you, but I'm much better at being Cordelia. Right now? There are no less than twenty-one Jedi in Tipoca City, including two masters and two knights. We also just took delivery of the first shipment of me-clones, meaning that you don't just have to beat one of me… you have to beat five of me. And I didn't include them in the count, so technically there's actually twenty-five Jedi in the city." Cordelia made a tugging gesture, liberating the DNA sample pod from Asajj's belt and pulling it through the air to her right hand, which promptly locked it into place at the small of her back before summoning her inert lightsaber from where it had been resting on the floor. "You can run around with Grievous, cause a bit of havoc, and probably end up shot, stabbed, and/or sliced to death by the end of this battle… or yeah, you can join me. Fair warning: I'm probably going to use a follicle stimulator on you if you join my team because some women look hot bald but you are not one of those women."
Narrowing her eyes, Asajj lunged forward and brought her twin sabers crashing down against Cordelia's hasty block, forcing the brunette back a step. "If you weren't operating from the shadows, perhaps. But I have absolutely no desire to pretend to be a good little girl so that I can fit in among all your Jedi friends. Also, I'm rather fond of my current look."
Cordelia sighed and shook her head despondently before making a Force-assisted leap backward into the hallway. Asajj lunged after her, and was promptly caught between twin stun blasts as the clonetroopers bracketing the doorway opened fire. "I was honestly not expecting it to be that easy. Guess Anakin isn't the only one who's terrible at minding his surroundings." The clones chuckled at that, one of them pulling out a pair of stun cuffs only to pause when Cordelia held up her hand. "Her story isn't supposed to end here, boys. Drag her outside and toss her into the ocean. If she doesn't wake up… well, I guess that's the will of the Force. Or something."
While their upbringing inherently made them defer to Jedi, evidently that only went so far. "Ma'am? Are you sure? She ranks just below Dooku and Grievous on the list of people that Republic Intelligence wants to interrogate. She could have critical intelligence on-"
"You're thinking inappropriate thoughts about her breasts, your brother keeps sneaking glances at her ass, and her brain contains absolutely nothing of use to the war effort. Trust me." Cordelia crossed her arms over her chest, eyeing the pair imperiously until they finally gave in, grabbing Asajj by the arms and dragging her insensate body away down the hall. "Thank you! If any of my guys die today, I'll keep you in mind when I look for replacements!" She knew she'd catch shit for that decision at some point, but at the end of the day? There was a very delicate balancing act going on at the moment, and the last thing she and Palpatine needed was Asajj opening her mouth and destabilizing that very careful balance. That and, well, Cordelia still held out hope that she could secure the woman's loyalty at some point because Asajj's talents were being wasted under Dooku.
And the woman really, really deserved a makeover.
"All too easy…"
As the mixture of clonetroopers and cadets retreated into their barrack according to the plan they'd devised and shared with him, Obi-Wan emerged from the shadows at the end of the hall. "Define 'easy', General."
Grievous turned to face him, the Kaleesh cyborg's eyes narrowing in a hatred that Obi-Wan knew was far more personal than the simmering anger he held for most of the Order. It was a hatred he was counting on, both to draw the cyborg away from the clones and to keep him from realizing that he was being drawn into a trap. "Kenobi!"
Igniting his lightsaber, Obi-Wan spun it before settling into a ready stance, sinking into the Force as he prepared for yet another of their frenetic, draining duels. When Grievous countered by igniting a pair of lightsabers - one blue, one green - Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes: the green-bladed saber had a different hilt from the one that Grievous had wielded against him when last they met. Another trophy from another victim. Another crime for him to pay for. In a move directly contrary to his Soresu training, Obi-Wan decided to strike first, lunging in and thrusting his lightsaber toward the Kaleesh's chest. What followed was typical of their battles, with Grievous trying to substitute pure speed and strength for true skill, allowing Obi-Wan to keep up with the dizzying flurry of slashes from both of his opponent's sabers.
Back and forth the went, until Obi-Wan heard a strange noise as he held both of Grievous's blades at bay in a lock. The cyborg's left arm split in half, three fingers wiggling experimentally before racing forward at his face. Before it could reach its target, though, Obi-Wan felt a slender form press against his back and then a brilliant blue blade erupted over his right shoulder, stabbing through the palm of the approaching hand and making Grievous howl. "We meet again, Grievous."
"Go ahead, exult in this hollow victory." Shifting from his four-armed configuration back into the more familiar two-armed form, Grievous skittered back a few paces as Aayla moved to stand beside Obi-Wan, drawing and igniting her second lightsaber to try and make things an unfair fight. "The day is already mine: Kamino has fallen to my forces. Your clone army is doomed!"
He felt them before he saw them: three presences, two of which were familiar and the fact that there were two of them struck terror into Obi-Wan's heart. "Can you do that last bit again, but this time while you're stroking a white cat?" Strolling casually around the corner, a Cordelia in the new streamlined clonemedic armor smirked before igniting a blue saber. Behind her came Padawan Helse and another copy of Cordelia, also wielding a blue-bladed lightsaber. "But no seriously, you're proper fucked. It's you, Asajj, and a bunch of droids against fifteen Jedi and a whole lot of clones who are really, really angry that you're wrecking their home."
Grievous peered back over his shoulder, his eyes going wide as he let out an angry hiss. "You've begun cloning Jedi now? Very well. It just means more of them for me to kill, even if they are soulless abominations."
"Really? You're literally a sack of shit stuffed inside a robot body and you want to call us soulless abominations?" The trailing clone shook her head mockingly before making a pulling motion, tearing away a chunk of the dark metal cladding to expose the wall's innards. She stabbed her lightsaber into one of the pipes her vandalism revealed, steam hissing out around the blade followed by a torrent of water as the brunette pulled her lightsaber back. "Helse? Do your thing."
Stepping forward, the blonde Hapan narrowed her eyes as she raised both her hands. "The infamous Qymaen jai Sheelal. It's… ice to meet you." As she furrowed her brow in concentration, the growing pool of water between her and Grievous started to freeze over, jagged stalagmites rising up from the floor to accompany her gestures. The twin Cordelias drew up alongside her and began snapping the icy spears free with the Force, spinning them around and launching them at Grievous. As the cyborg staggered backward under the assault, Helse offered him a faint grin and began advancing forward. "Don't go getting cold feet now, General. We're just getting started…"