Echo wakes up screaming, and he can't stop.

Dimly, through the haze of red that's descended over his vision and the white noise shrieking in his ears, he's aware of more voices, panicked and worried, barely audible through his own screams. He thrashes wildly, uncertain of where he is and who's around him, and then his terror only grows, because he can't move. He's in some sort of tiny box—a coffin. It feels like a kriffing coffin.

He cries out again. Is Tambor finished with him? He welcomes death, but not—not like this. Not buried alive, starving, suffocating. He claws fiercely at the walls around him, but his fingernails slide across smooth, flawless metal.

He can't escape.

Suddenly, he's moving, and he's blinded by a harsh, artificial light. A figure looms over him. Echo shouts and leaps for the figure's throat. They've made a terrible mistake by releasing him. His hands wrap around the figure's trachea—his eyes are blurry, he can't see, but he hopes—oh, he hopes it's Tambor himself.

A second figure slams on top of him. Echo snarls, baring his teeth as the first figure escapes from his grasp—and then he's being pinned down, held against his will. Now Echo is thrashing, frantically trying to dislodge his captors because he can almost feel the prick of Wat Tambor's needles, feel the machine they used to cut open his mind and expose the secrets he carried—

"Echo!" It comes from very, very far away. Echo ignores it. He doesn't have time to listen to the cries of the dead, he has to fight. He has to escape.

"Echo!" There it is again. He gasps for air when the new figure slams a fist into his solar plexus, and the world shifts, tilts.

"No," he gasps out. "No, no more, please—!"

He can't help but beg. They'll break him even harder for it, but he can't help it, he can't do anything else but beg. They already know his secrets, but the torture doesn't stop. It never stops, he can't take it anymore


"Echo, stop!"

"Echo, it's us, it's us!"

Someone grabs his wrist. Echo flails for a moment, but then he realizes that he can feel it. He hasn't been able to feel in that arm for months, not since Tambor replaced it with the cybernetic but didn't bother reconnecting it with his nerves. That, out of all things, makes him pause, and though his vision is still murky he forces himself to stare up at the figure holding him down.

The very last thing he's expecting is to see his own face staring back at him. His chest heaves as he sucks in air, and slowly, very slowly, he makes himself relax.

"Echo! You with us?" the clone says. It's not one Echo recognizes, and the voice inflections are all wrong for it to be any of the 501st. "Kriff, mate, what was that?" The clone glances down. "Hey, Domino! What's the hold up? Why didn't you help your squad mate?"

Echo's heart stops.


He lifts his head slowly, because he's still not convinced this isn't a trick. He's shocked to realize that he's in the clone barracks on Kamino. The tiny space he'd thought was a coffin is his bed.

"Wh—what?" he manages to get out, and it feels like he's been swallowing shards of glass. His throat is raw. He remembers that he's been screaming, and lifts a hand to massage his throat.

Is this real? Echo's no stranger to hallucinations. Tambor likes to torment him with them.

"Domino? Any of you slackers alive down there?" the clone above him asks. He lets Echo go and gets back on the ladder. With his foot, he kicks at the front of someone's bed—Cutup's, if Echo remembers correctly. There's a hiss as Cutup's bed slides from the rack, and Echo's heart stops again as he lays eyes on his brother.

Cutup sits up warily, staring around with wide, wide eyes. The other clone nudges him.

"CT-4040, you wanna take care of this? Some of us are trying to sleep, you know," he says, annoyed, and Cutup looks up. His eyes meet Echo's, and they are horrified, startled.

"Echo…?" Cutup says, and then swallows. "What's my name?"

The clone from before snorts.

"You don't have one yet, remember? Ugh, this barrack is full of laserbrains."

Echo knows better.

"Cutup," he whispers. "You're Cutup." Then, because he feels like he has to, he continues. "And CT-782 is Hevy. Echo, Droidbait, Fives… Cutup, and Hevy."

Cutup's mouth drops open.

"It wasn't a dream," he gasps. "It wasn't a—sithspit."

Echo can't breath. He can't breath.

Fives emerges from a bed over, peering around through distrustful eyes as if he expects the scene to dissolve right in front of him. He blinks in confusion when he sees Echo, and then frowns even harder when Cutup shakily starts to climb up the ladder.

"You're both dead," he tells them matter-of-factly, and Echo feels something deep inside himself shatter.

"So. We died."

Hevy's voice is flat. They're sitting in a circle, huddled down on the floor because none of them feel like sitting down on the benches. Besides, the benches are in a straight line, and right now they want to be as close together as they can. Echo, Cutup, and Fives have their backs against the wall, and Cutup and Droidbait have their backs to the hallway. It's still early, so only a few clones are out and about. Fortunately, no one bothers them.

Echo is practically in Five's lap. He can breath now, at least, but he's still shaking—shaking, shaking, because this hallway is the one they lost Ninety-nine in—

Because Droidbait had been shot down by commando droids, because Cutup had been eaten alive, because Hevy had blown himself up to save them all—

He's shaking. Fives is holding onto him tightly, and it's helping a little, but not much.

"Yes, we died," Fives confirms. Even though his hands are steady on Echo's shoulders, his voice trembles. "We all… remember?"

They all nod. Droidbait shudders.

"How is that possible?" he mutters. "We're not jedi. We can't… see the kriffing future, or whatever it was. We can't—it's just not possible. How could we all have had the same dream?"

"Well, what did you dream?" Hevy asks him. Droidbait winces.

"I dreamed we passed the test," he says nervously. "I dreamed we passed, and got stationed on the Rishi moon. Then… we were attacked. I… I died. I died, and I couldn't do anything to help you because I was dead." His voice cracks at the end. Hevy grabs Droidbait's forearm and holds on tight, keeping him grounded.

"That's right," Cutup says, monotone. "That happened. You died. We ran. I got… eaten."

"Eaten?" Droidbait chokes out. "Eaten by what?"

Cutup shrugs. "A giant eel," he says calmly. Too calmly. Echo's seen soldiers try to do that—try and bottle it all in. In ARC training, they were taught that it's better to let it all out as soon as possible. That way it's easier to see if it'll affect future missions. It's not going to end well for Cutup if he continues.

"A giant eel?"

Droidbait's breaths are coming faster, less controlled. Hevy grips him tighter. It looks painful, but Droidbait relaxes into the hold.

"Droidbait got shot. Cutup got eaten," Hevy picks up. "Captain Rex and Commander Cody came. We took back the station, but more were coming. We set up a bomb." He clenches his free fist. "It didn't work. I stayed behind, and when the droids got close…"

"Hevy," Cutup gasps. "Hevy, you didn't."

"I did," Hevy confirms. "I blew it up myself. Took a whole battalion with me." He grins, but it doesn't reach his eyes.

Then the three Rishi casualties turn to Fives and Echo, and Echo takes a shaky breath.

"Did you survive?" Cutup asks them hesitantly, as if he's afraid to know the answer. Fives nods.

"We did," he confirms. "We survived. But you three died on Rishi."

The others stare at them. Echo winces.

"Okay," Hevy says. "Okay, so you two lived. What happened after that? Do your own stories line up?"

Echo glances at Fives, who looks back.

"We joined the 501st," Fives says shakily. "Because we had nowhere else to go, and Rex liked us." Echo nods slowly.

"Then… Kothlis. The Holocron. Ryloth. Geonosis. The Zillo beast. Kamino. ARC training. The… the Citadel."

Fives' breath hitches.

"Then I was the last one," he breathes, but Echo's not done.

"No," he says. "No, I didn't… I didn't die there."

The others don't understand, but Fives freezes up. "You… didn't die there," he repeats numbly. Echo shakes his head.

"I didn't."

Silence. Fives is shaking now, too.

"If I had gone back—" he starts, but Echo elbows him before he can get any farther.

"If you had gone back, you would have died," he says harshly. "You would have died, or the Seps would have gotten their hands on you, too.


"They cut into my head, and took out all my secrets," Echo forces out, becauses it's better to tell them now than wait for them to find out later. "I don't know how I died, because the last thing I remember is being tortured into unconsciousness. They were careful to not let me die, because I knew things—but I suppose they could have miscalculated this last time around."

Droidbait, Cutup, and Hevy look pale. Fives sucks in a deep breath, and lets it out slowly.

"Then I was the last," he mutters, and shoots them a sideways glance. "You boys were lucky. You missed the worst of it."

"The worst—how does it get worse?" Droidbait squeaks, a bit too loudly. A passing clone gives their huddled group a dirty look, but Fives shoots him his patented ARC glare, and Hevy's hand darts down to the hefty Z-6 rotary blaster cannon at his side. The clone moves on, fast.

"Umbara," Fives says, then his face goes dark. "Ringo Vinda. The… the chips." He squeezes Echo's shoulders again. "Believe me, you got out at the right time."

"Got out," Echo repeats slowly. "Fives, I was tortured to death."

"I was eaten." Cutup reminds them.

Hevy and Droidbait don't even bother to speak. Fives is already deflating.

"Sorry," he says, completely sincere. "Sorry, I just… the war got worse. Be glad you weren't there. So many people died. So many people betrayed us."

"How did you die?" Hevy dares to ask. One of Five's hands removes itself from Echo's shoulder. When Echo looks up, Fives is running his hand along the back of his head, fingers prodding gently as if searching for something.

"I was shot," he says faintly, as if he doesn't even believe his own words. "Because I knew too much. Maybe the info broke me a little inside, because I wasn't thinking straight. I see that now. I thought I could fix it. I thought that they would listen to me because I was an ARC, because I was a trusted soldier of the Republic. But they didn't. All they saw was a clone. An expendable, who'd fought too hard, got banged around a tad too much. No one believed me, and when I got desperate… I made a bad call. So they shot me."

"Who," Echo asks, and he barely recognizes his own voice, because for the first time since he's woken up he feels angry. Someone shot Fives. Someone on their side shot Fives. "Who killed you?"

Fives looks at him.

"I don't know," he lies. They all know he's lying, but none of them call him out on it.

Not yet, at least.

"Okay," Droidbait says. It sounds like he's fighting off hysteria. "Okay, the dreams are the same. So… what does this mean?"

None of them answer him. No one knows what to say.
Finally, Hevy breaks the silence.

"I don't know what it means, but I know it was real."

They all know that. Echo can see it in their eyes—see the haunted looks, the way they hold themselves as if they're expecting to be attacked at any moment. It's worst in Fives, and he assumes himself, but the others have it bad, too.

They died, but now they're alive. Cutup and Hevy don't have their nicknames yet. Domino squad hasn't even passed the test yet.

Echo stiffens, and Fives feels it.


Echo straightens.

"We're alive," he says redundantly. He can't help but say it again, because it's so kriffing ridiculous and he feels like if he stops saying it, everything will go back to the way it was before. "We're alive, and we know what's going to happen."

Surprisingly, Droidbait is the first to catch on.

"We could stop it," he gasps. "We could stop everyone from dying!"

Hevy's eyebrows shoot up. Cutup's mouth drops open, but Fives sighs.

"Assuming it's true," he says. Echo shoots him a dirty look, so Fives holds up his hands defensively. "Listen, we don't know anything for certain."

"It was real," Cutup insists. "It was real. I felt that thing tear me in half. I felt it chew me up and swallow. Don't tell me it wasn't real. It was."

Fives shifts uncertainly. Echo twists so he can stare his fellow ARC in the eyes.

"Fives, think of all the things we could change if it's real. If it's not the same, we'll know, and then that's a whole different story, but if it's the same… we could save men. Good men, who didn't deserve to die."

"We're just clones!" Fives bursts out. "We're not jedi! Right now, we're cadets who haven't even passed their final test! How are we supposed to change anything?"

And there's the real problem. Fives is scared. He knows it's real, just as the rest of them do, but he also has a point.

At the end of the day, in the eyes of the Republic, they're just numbers. Who's going to listen to them?

"I dunno," Hevy says bluntly, and stands. "But we have to try. I, for one, am not going to make the same mistakes twice. We're all going to live."

When Hevy says it like that, Echo believes him.

"We're going to live," Droidbait repeats determinedly. He stands, too, clasping a hand over Hevy's shoulder. "If anyone can do it, we can. We're stubborn, remember?" He casts a nervous smile at Fives and Echo. "Besides, we've got two ARC troopers on our team, now. We're practically unstoppable!"

Echo can't help it. He laughs. Laughs, because he hadn't expected anything but Wat Tambor's needles for the rest of his life, and this—Droidbait's contagious optimism, Hevy's confident demeanor, Cutup's daring wit, Five's steady hand—is his wildest dream come true.

"Force, I hope I'm not dreaming," he says, once he's done laughing. "I really, really hope I'm not dreaming, because that would be cruel."

Fives pinches him on the arm in the same moment that Cutup flicks the tip of his nose. The tiny hits sting. Echo laughs again.

"Let's go save the Republic, boys," he cries, and if there's something slightly off with his voice, no one comments.

No one comments on the tears that are suddenly streaming down his face, either. Instead, Hevy and Droidbait sit again, pressing up against his sides while Cutup closes in and grabs his head, tapping their foreheads together gently. Fives stays right there at his back, stroking gentle fingers over his shoulders as Echo falls apart, and suddenly, for the first time in years, Echo feels safe.

A/N: This is just for fun, and it's likely to not be updated very often unless it gets a lot of attention, which is unlikely. This fandom isn't as popular as it used to be, but I was marathoning it this morning and I couldn't get this idea out of my head.

That being said, please tell me if you'd like more. Like I said, if it gets attention, I'm more likely to update it.
Also, for any of those unaware, even though it's been a few years since this info has been released: Echo survives the explosion at the Citadel and is captured by the separatists. From there, he is given to Wat Tambor, who replaces his injured limbs with prosthetics. The seperatists pick Echo's mind and manage to gain access to the Republic's strategy algorithm, which Captain Rex had developed with the help of Fives and Echo.
Technically, Echo is eventually rescued from his imprisonment. For the sake of angst, I had him die then. If you want more info on Echo's survival, look up the unfinished episode "A Distant Echo" on wookieepedia.