Simple Things
by Famira Damaris

Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars or any of the Republic Commando characters.

Summary: (Republic Commando, post Hard Contact) The clone commandos contemplate the simple things as Omega Squad prepares for their next mission.

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Simple Things
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(RC-8015 "Fi" )

The adrenaline rush made everything simple again.

Everything slowed down into split seconds. The blood thundered in his head. Fi was halfway across the temporary compound, ducking between large cargo units and unmanned turrets when Niner decided to say hello to the Seps, GAR style. The Hailfire went up in a blistering explosion, the fireball so hot Fi could feel the heat wave even from here: he ducked instinctively, flattening himself to the ground, Deece clutched to his chest as shrapnel went flying. At these speeds, it could easily take off a limb and, funny, wouldn't you know it, but he happened to need all his arms and legs for his job. Fi popped up as soon as the deadly hail of debris was over…

Just in time to see Atin kill Rel Harna.

Fi didn't even hear the shot. Just a flicker, which could've been fire from the destroyed tank or the incoming blaster bolt, and suddenly there was a smoking hole in Rel Harna's head. The Anx's domed fin briefly lit up as the blaster bolt ricocheted inside his skull, glowing eerily from within for a split second before the Separatist reeled back and went down in a heap, his friends not even realizing what happened at first as they rushed to check on him. It was the distraction Fi needed – he took it. The clone was up on his feet and running, heading toward the parked ships on the crude landing platform. He was disappointed he'd been beaten to the punch, but it was distant, something that took a backseat to concentrating on staying alive and getting to the Angler.

Guess I can take the Skipray as a consolation prize.

He'd even picked it in his favorite shade of dusty blue.

By now the droids guarding the Separatist ships were sending fire his way. Blaster bolts pinged off his gray commando armor. The tested plating could take a lot of punishment, thanks to R & D, but he didn't want to risk it more than he had to. Fi ducked behind a parked speeder as he was pinned down, leaning out every now and then to return fire. His helmet was alive with the HUD taking in the droid positions, the voices of his brothers filling his ears from the Omega's secure commlink channel:

" – Rel Harna is down, repeat, Rel Harna is down – "

" – Pinned down by two crabs tinnies and pals – "

" – On it – "

" – Need a path cleared to the target – "

" – Five wets still with the target. Other three terminated –"

Fi unconsciously filtered through the chatter. After years of being bred and taught how to operate with his HUD, his own personal command center, it was second nature to keep tabs of his brother's voices and also focus on the battle droids trying to flank him. There wasn't a lot of time. Sure, there weren't too many tinnies in the firefight right now, but once those wets started running for the ships, the rest of the squads would no doubt come knocking. Still crouching, Fi ran, using the speeder as cover, and was on the leader of the droids trying to flank him, lunging for it even as it tried to bring up its own rifle. The vibroblade from his wrist gauntlet ejected with a metallic snkt and he plunged it deep into the control panel in its chest. It took less than a second for him to pivot, just like Sergeant Kal taught him, and sight each of the remaining droids with clinical precision. The muzzle of his Deece flared four times in quick succession, casting his T-slit in red light, and then he was sprinting across the landing pad, jumping over the downed tinnies. Fire zinged past his helmet as Fi ducked and weaved, losing himself in the collection of Separatist freighters, starfighters, yachts, and transports.

It occurred to him how it'd be easy to slap some charges on each of them and strand the Seps on Riflor.

But that wasn't Omega's objective.

Fi could feel Darman's armor bouncing against his as he ran through the cluster of ships. If he thought one kit was heavy, two was worse and he knew he'd feel the burn with a vengeance once the adrenaline wore off. He still didn't agree with Dar's aggressive intel, but he had to admit it had its uses: without it, they wouldn't have known about Rel Harna's presence on Riflor, a big, unpredicted bonus for General Zey once they got back. Still, Fi felt an unpleasant pit settle in his stomach. Why did he keep getting the feeling like he was missing out on something? It had nothing to do with missing the Rel Harna kill but it wasn't something he could put into words, not yet.

The Angler was positioned at the far side of the temporary landing platform, right next to a collection of parked swoops. Fi took note of them even as he scanned the area for any more guards. He had maybe a minute, if not seconds. The landing ramp was down but the door was closed. Artistic re-entry was more Dar's area of expertise than his, but all clones knew the basics of coaxing a door open; Fi retrieved a charge, set it, and retreated down the ramp, ducking in its shadow as a droideka darted past (no doubt heading for Niner), and then waited for that tell-tale thunk. It was louder than he intended, reverberating on the ground and shaking the yacht, but it was good enough.

Fi charged up the ramp and over the door lying on the floor. Lights flickered in the corridor, buzzing. Patches of it were gone entirely, damaged from his entry, leaving the corridor and its split in total darkness. Fi blinked, switching to his visor's night vision on just in time to see one of the Separatists charge him out of an alcove, blaster fire lighting up his HUD and blinding him even as it pinged off his helmet at point blank range. The clone reacted automatically, leaning to the side to present a smaller target and brutally checked the Sep with an armored shoulder. The human flew against the wall, the blaster knocked out of his hand. Fi's rifle came up and he fired without a second thought, making sure the Separatist was dead for sure before continuing on.

The contact took less than a few seconds.

By now the rest of the Seps on board had to know there was an invader.

Fi moved quickly deeper into the Angler, relying on the schematics Darman provided him earlier. During his last transmission, he said he was sealed in the main hold with the rest of the group and while he'd managed to covertly contact Omega Squad, Fi knew he couldn't risk breaking comm silence now. Coming up on the hold's door, Fi paused. Gunning through Separatists and tinnies was one thing. But Darman, his brother, his mongrel brother but still his brother, was trapped in there. His breathing was harsh, uneven, echoing in the confines of his helmet. If he cleared the room, he had to be careful. Darman was still a stranger compared to his dead pod brothers, but Fi refused to let anything happen to another brother, not if he had any say in it.

The main hold door's lock was almost embarrassingly flimsy. Fi flattened himself against the wall and tried to slice the control panel, more for kicks than anything else. No go. He'd have to go in the old fashioned way. Pointing his Deece at the panel, he blasted it. The door hissed up. Blaster fire erupted as skittish Separatists shot blindly, the bolts going wild. These weren't trained soldiers, not like the mercenaries Ruul took with him. They were little more than civilians with blasters.

It didn't matter to Fi one way or another.

Waiting for a lull in the crossfire, Fi swept out from his position, tracking who was where. Eliminating the armed Seps should've been his first priority but he broke protocol, glancing around quickly for Darman before he cleared the room. He sighed with relief. His brother was up against the far wall, the stranglewire in his hands and around a human woman's neck – just enough to draw blood, but still enough to let her breathe. The woman's eyes were wide, her mouth open in shock, pressed against Darman's chest and acting as a human shield between him and the rest of the Seps.

Fi efficiently gunned down the rest of the Separatist party. It was easy when they couldn't hit the broadside of a laarty and he could feel the adrenaline starting to ebb as his body realized this wasn't a fight to the death. His helmet protected him against contaminants but he could still catch the sharp, sour smell of ozone and burned clothes and flesh filling the room. Fi didn't go to Darman immediately, making sure the main hold was one hundred percent clear.

"You murdered them!" the woman cried with a strangled sob.

Fi ignored her. Satisfied they were safe for now, he began removing Darman's armor, easing it to the floor. "What's it with you and picking up girls?" he said with a cheeky grin his brother couldn't see but could definitely hear. "They keep throwing themselves at you and soon enough, you'll start tripping over them, vod."

"Hey, I didn't do anything."

Fi turned toward the woman, who had to be Injira Ruul. She still wore a low-cut dress he was sure was worth more credits than his Katarn-class armor and him combined, a trickle of red blood running down her neck from Dar's strangle-wire. Injira flinched as the glowing T-slit of his helmet fixed on her. Fi could see in her face it bothered her that she couldn't see his eyes or any other human facial features; even his voice sounded mechanical thanks to his bucket. It threw her badly off balance.

"Get suited up," said Fi, deceptively cheerful. "I'll keep on eye on her."

The clone kept his Deece trained on her as his brother collected his armor and moved off to a corner to get suited up again, his relief palpable. Fi got a good close look of Injira. She was a lot different from people like General Etain, all curves and some kind of pigment on her face he guessed had to be makeup. Taking her with them wasn't an option – he'd seen the inside of the Skipray and it was already a tight fit with the additions of Dar and Ruul. And her use as a hostage was over. The Seps outside didn't care who she was. She was a liability and no longer much use as a human shield.

So that really did just leave the option of letting her live or slotting her.

"A-are you going to kill me?" Injira asked. Her voice quavered.

Fi shrugged. He didn't see a reason why he couldn't be honest. "Haven't decided, miss."

"You're a clone, aren't you?" Realization dawned on Injira's face, almost but not quite breaking through her fear. "And Mirsch is one too?"

She probably hadn't met a clone before. Fi watched the struggle on her face: she was having a hard time reconciling her "friend" Mirsch with the faceless commando in hulking armor before her, looking more like one of her Separatist droids than a human being. Fi watched her try and fail. Injira visibly shrank back as Darman joined him, suddenly a twin in gray armor, his own helmet looming out of the flickering gloom and just as alien as his brother. It wasn't just fear for her life in her eyes, but something else he couldn't identify; the fact that he couldn't made him oddly uncomfortable - he liked knowing how he felt and why he felt the way he did. Fi clicked his teeth, switching his commlink to a private channel with Darman, the audio icon red on his HUD. To Injira, they had fallen ominously silent.

"So what do you think?" Darman asked.

"You want to drag her shebs up and down Riflor, be my guest."

Darman echoed Fi unconsciously. "She's no good as a hostage. I was going to make her pals get me into the cockpit but since you're here, I don't need a shield anymore."

"My hero?"

Darman had that tone in his voice, the one Fi associated with a verbal almost-smile. "Just don't tell Sarge. Now what?" Back to business, he jerked his head slightly at Injira.

"If you don't want to, I can do it."

"It's not that - "

" - But if we kill her, Ruul might be less cooperative," Fi finished. "Everyone's so picky these days. Okay, so we don't take her with us and we don't slot her. Sounds like a great plan we got going here."

"I don't like it any more than you do, but the GAR wants Ruul to talk. He's soft. But I don't think he'll be in a talkative mood if his favorite stepdaughter ends up fried, especially if it's got clone job written all over it."

Fi couldn't argue there. "How about we just toss her in the fresher unit and seal her in? Everyone's happy."

"Injira Ruul, you'll need to come with us," Darman said, his voice once again audible in the main hold. Injira jumped. Fi watched her glance from Darman to him, unsure of who was who. Darman manhandled Injira, not being rough but not being too gentle either as he pushed her to the front, his Deece not aimed but resting comfortably in his gloved hands in case she tried anything. Fi brought up the rear. His mission right now was complete: Darman was back in action, alive, armed, and part of the squad. Things should be simple again once they were off the yacht, Fi thought, and blasting off this planet. The squad would be back together and on another mission, no doubt; last he heard, there was talk of some unlucky squad getting sent to Fest, which would be ten kinds of fun right there.

So why did he keep thinking about the way Injira Ruul looked at them?