Author's Notes: A huge thank you to Cariel for beta reading this for me! =D
The first time Slick wore civilian clothes he was eleven standard years old.
The black trousers were not starch stiff like the uniform basics they had to wear beneath their armour. The dark green shirt, though fitted, was both soft and warm, unlike the cold metal of their armour. Even his boots, plain black and simple, felt more comfortable than anything he had ever worn.
His brothers did not know what to make of their odd disguise. Why bother posing as civilians? Everyone would know something was wrong. They did after all physically resemble one another. However, orders were orders and no one ever questioned them.
They said the mission was supposed to be simple: catch the Separatists off guard, arrest the perpetrators, and secure the city. The first lesson Slick learned in his short life was that in war, nothing was ever simple.
Days later, there was nothing left of the city save charred rubble, broken bodies, and crumbling monuments that once were testament to a vibrant and peaceful culture. Standing in the midst of the horrifying motif, Slick remained frozen, unable to respond as he knew he should.
The little girl that lay sprawled about at his feet was clearly dead. There was a great crater where her belly should have been. Yet, her body twitched as her broken lips gurgled and sputtered a strange mantra, spoken in a language Slick could not understand.
He tried to tell himself that he was not responsible for this, not directly. He had never handled the cannons; they were too brutish for his liking. As the girl continued to rasp the same string of words like a broken droid, Slick found another reason never to touch one.
The wind began to pick up, carrying away the smoke of battle revealing more atrocities in its wake. As far as Slick's eyes could see, there were corpses, mismatched and contorted forms in macabre shapes. There were gaping holes in various places of their bodies, a silent reminder to the deadly power of the fusion cannon.
The less fortunate were crushed beneath the weight of collapsed buildings. Their arms, legs, and even faces peered out from the mountains of rubble, their expressions still frozen in terror or pain. Then there were the charred remains of those who had been trapped and burned alive beneath the now smoking remains of what had once been lush towering trees.
The sight was more horrific than anything he had ever seen before. It was wrong, all terribly wrong, and yet, he had been part of it. Panic gripped of his thoughts as questions and silent accusations flooded his mind without mercy. The need to run, to scream, to weep threatened to drive him mad. Yet, he did not move.
A heavy hand clapped his shoulder and Slick jerked back in surprise. Instincts took control as he swiftly withdrew the laser pistol from its hilt.
"Careful with that, Sergeant. You're among brothers now."
There was a moment's pause.
"You all right?" Captain Rex's voice was stoic; his expression was hidden behind his helmet.
Slick nodded as he slipped back into the role of the good soldier. "Yes, sir."
It was the first time he had ever lied to a superior officer.
Rex took note of the culprit causing Slick's unease and shook his head. "Sometimes, when the body expires violently, the muscles re-enacts its final actions."
The weight in the captain's voice hinted that he was not as comfortable with the situation as he wanted his brothers to believe. It was there and then gone.
Instructions were given and Slick followed them in spite of his body pleading otherwise. It was what he had been trained to do.
The bodies were collected and fumigated as per military procedure. No one ever spoke about what happened there or the fact the mission had been a complete failure. Hundreds of thousands of innocents had been slaughtered because of misinformation. Their superiors, for all their wisdom and insight, had been in too much of a hurry to verify that the accuracy of their classified information.
Yes, it was all a mistake. We all make them, so there is no need to dwell on it. Now move on; we've got work to do.
The hollow words of his commanders echoed in his thoughts. It was all they had to say on the matter.
This was not at all how Slick had envisioned the Great War that his brother's used to eagerly talk about back on Kamino. It was another hard lesson learned.
Late that night when he stared up at the darkness that was the barrack's ceiling, it was not the peaceful moonlight he saw reflecting from the windows. The little girl's glassy eyes stared back at him in silent accusation, while broken lips rasped the same twisted mantra repeatedly, as if trying to warn him, or drive him mad.
What if it was all one big awful mistake?
It was the first time Slick ever questioned his master's motives. It would not be his last.