A Letter From Home

A CLONE WARS NOVEL

by Jade Rhade

The four members of Omega Squad sat in a semi-circle in the hold of their dropship in full armor, with their helmets on the ground next to them. It was rather creepy for anyone not accustomed to clones, but then again, there was no one else there. They were speeding through hyperspace on the way to their objective.

"What do you think Etain is doing?" Darman asked.

Fi shrugged. "Jedi stuff." He gave a grin that suggested he knew something they didn't.

Niner's gloved fist bounced off Fi's Katran armor.

"What?" Fi grinned.

"She's probably become a Jedi Knight," Atin announced.

"Ooh, the man has spoken!" Fi clapped mockingly. "I think that makes twenty words he's said today!"

Now it was Atin's turn to whack Fi.

"What?" Fi grinned again.

"Why are you so happy?" Darman asked suspiciously. "You look like Atin when he gets new gear. You know, when he's almost jumping up and down."

Atin rolled his eyes. "I don't jump."

"It's my naturally cheerful demeanor," Fi smirked.

"Uh-huh." Darman leaned over to Niner. "Sarge, he's got into the stims again, hasn't he?"

"Nope," Fi said happily. He looked like a little boy with a secret. He looked like he was about to burst into a round of 'I-know-something-YOU-don't-I-know-something-YOU-don't!'

The other three exchanged glances.

"I got something for Dar-man!" Fi grinned widely, pulling out a datapad and waving it.

Darman reached out to grab it, but Fi held it just out of reach. "What is it?"

"Guess!"

"Ner vod," Darman said warningly. "Give me the datapad."

"Guess what it is!"

Niner leaned over to Atin. "What's he been eating? No one gets that space-happy off ration cubes."

Atin shrugged.

"Gue-ess!"

Darman looked mystified. "I don't know. A memo from General Kenobi saying to issue us all better food?"

"That would be nice... but no!"

"A new gear list?" Atin ventured.

"No. That's all you ever think about." Fi laughed. "And that makes almost forty words!"

Atin smacked first his forehead, then Fi's shoulder.

"Come on, Sarge, guess!"

"Recall order for this mission? They're sending in ARCs instead?"

"That would also be nice, but no."

"All Kaminoans have been wiped from the face of the galaxy?" Darman guessed hopefully.

Fi shuddered. "Unfortunately, no. The Kaminoans are still at large."

"It's something from Etain, isn't it?" Atin said suddenly.

"Yes! Give the man a gold metal!"

"Well, let's see!" Niner ordered.

"No, Fi said it was for me!"

"Actually Dar, it's labeled for all of us."

"Oh."

"I get to play the holo!" Fi said happily. "Hey Sarge, is this how you feel? Always knowing stuff that the rest of us don't until you tell us?"

"You're space-happy."

Fi shrugged, but the criticism bounced off him without leaving a dent. "Can I play it now?"

"Sure, Fi," Atin told him, shaking his head and muttering "Space-happy," under his breath.

"I heard that!" Fi said cheerfully. "C'mon, Sarge, please?"

"Whatever," Niner said, waving a hand.

Fi placed the datpad in the middle of their circle and activated it. Padawan Etain Tur-Mukan shimmered into view. "Dear Omega Squad,

"I hope you're all doing well. Has Atin gotten any new gear lately?" she smiled. "How's Fi? Annoyingly cheerful as ever?" She paused. "No, I take that back: I already know the answer. I just hope none of you have shot him for that." she grinned. "Niner, does Darman still have his chronic disability for jumping out of dropships into trees?

"Qiilura is a mess. I have my work cut out for me here, with the natives thinking I'm just as bad as the Neimodians. They're still driving the Gurlanin from their homes without even knowing it. It's hard to reach the entire population when most don't even have com-links." she made a face.

"I bet Fi had a blast taunting all of you. That's why I made sure he'd get it first," shecocked her head micheviously. "No hard feelings, guys. And for the record: Fi, you're space-happy.

"Along with this holo I've sent some food, real food, not those stupid protein cubes. I hope it all gets to you; I know how much you like real food.

"Well, I've babbled on long enough, so make Fi give you the food. I miss you guys, and good luck with your next mission! I know you'll succeed with maximum efficiency; you always do," she said, unconsciously reverting back to her encouraging 'commander voice'. "My thoughts are always with you, especially the man who taught me how to be a real commander. Thanks, Darman." she smiled, a smile mant for Darman alone that made him feel hot.

"Even though I still don't think I deserve the title, this is Commander Etain Tur-Mukan." She saluted casually. "Out."

The hologram shimmered out of view.

Atin looked at Fi suspiciously. "You have food?"

"Say 'please'."

"Shut up, Fi," Darman said.

-xXx-

The mission was over, and Omega Squad was on its way to the extraction point when disaster struck.

Disaster came in the form of droids; twenty SBDs to be exact.

"Phwoar!" Niner swore. "Take cover!"

"Where's the E-Web?" Fi demanded.

"We had to leave it behind," Darman said grimly.

"Dar, you got any explosives left?" Niner shouted over the din as Atin began firing back at the droids.

"Yeah." Darman's eyes grew round inside the helmet as he grasped what the sergeant wanted him to do.

Fi understood as well. "Don't make 'im do it, Sarge! It's suicide!"

Niner ignored him. "Darman, I need you to plant explosives around the droids. Will you be able to do it?"

Darman could hear the pained expression Niner was wearing at having to order him to do this. "Yeah, Sarge. I can do it."

"No!" Fi said. "I'll go!"

"You're not as good as I am with explosives!" Darman countered. "I'm going."

"Good luck, Dar." Niner held out his gloved hand as a blaster bolt hit the ground near them.

The two shook hands before Niner pulled out his blaster and began laying down cover fire.

Darman hunched over, running as fast as he could toward the droids' position. In the roar that came from the cannon the commanding droid had trained on his fellows, it was easy for Darman to sneak in from behind them.

His breathing grew ragged in his helmet as he crawled prone toward the center of the droid formation. It would only take one droid to turn around, notice him, and open fire. In the position he was in, he wouldn't be able to return fire and he would die.

There! The bomb was planted. This one would have enough power to vaporize the droid formation. Hopefully. He set the timer for a minute then began elbow-crawling back.

He wasn't going to make it in time. Even as he realized this and breached the droid formation, he got up and ran. He fumbled inside his pack and pulled out the datapad with Etain's recording (he had stolen it from Fi) and clutched it to his chest.

The bomb blew. First Darman saw white as his helmet overloaded, then nothing.

-xXx-

The next thing he saw was Etain's face hovering above him, backlit by bright white lights. "Am I dead?"

He heard a cheerful voice to his side yelp happily, shouting something that sounded suspiciously like: "Yippee!"

"Fi. Well, I can't be dead because you're here." Darman blinked and tried to bring his eyes into focus.

He was in a medical ward. That much was obvious from the white lights, the sterile environment, and the fact that none of his ner vod were dirty or wearing armor.

And the fact that Padawan Etain Tur-Mukan was sitting on him.

Darman cocked his head. "Hello."

"Good look for you, Dar. Think you can strap her on and use her as armor?" Fi grinned.

Etain looked up. "Will someone please smack him?"

Two resounding thuds were heard as both Niner and Atin took their new order with relish.

Darman struggled to get up on his elbows, but Etain's weight on his chest stopped his efforts. "What are you doing here?" He paused. "And why are you sitting on me?"

Fi grinned. "Well, Dar, isn't it obvious? She-"

"Shut up, Fi," Etain cautioned. "I felt that you were in trouble. Through the Force," she added at Darman's incredulous look. "So I came."

"Just like that? Snapped you fingers and here you were?"

"You've been out for almost a week, so I've had plenty of time to get here. But I knew you'd be all right. One of my friends has been taking care of you; a Jedi healer named Barriss Offee. She's one of the best there is."

"And why are you sitting on me?"

"Atin and Niner took the chairs. Fi's standing over there." Etain grinned wickedly at him. "And I like it here."

A woman clad in medical whites came in. She had blue-black hair, indigo eyes, and tattoos across her face. "Etain! Please don't sit on the patient!"

"Sorry, Barriss," Etain slowly slid off Darman's chest.

Barriss ran a medical scanner over Darman's prone form. "I'd say you're fully healed." She sighed. "Yes, Etain, you can sit on him again. I'll make sure there aren't any Masters coming toward this ward."

"Oof!" Darman grunted as Etain leaped back onto her territory.

Barriss shook her head and laughed. "On the other hand, it might be worth it to see a Jedi Master faint." She turned and smiled at the three commandos. "Your brother will be fine. He'll be reactivated for duty as soon as Etain is done with him." Her smile lingered a bit on Atin before she left.

"Whoo-ee, you see that, Atin?" Fi shook his head.

Atin blushed and looked away.

"Nah, it's just cause he's so damn ugly," Niner joked.

"I think she likes Atin," Fi announced.

Atin shuffled his feet and muttered something that sounded like "Shut up, Fi."

Niner laughed.

"-And then there was that Twi'lek nurse who was making eyes at Niner," Fi continued without missing a beat.

"Shut up, Fi," Niner ordered, giving his ner vod a quick punch.

"And then of course there's Darman and Etain-"

That wing of the hospital almost shook from the combined voices of three commandos and a Jedi:

"SHUT UP, FI!"

THE END

A/N: I'm not expecting all that many reviews, but they are appreciated if I get any. This is my first 'Republic Commando' fic, so I hope y'all like it!

Rock on!

Jade Rhade