A/N: So, here's the first chapter of the sequel. I hope you guys end up liking this one as much as you liked Torn. I can't tell you much about what's gonna happen, but I can tell you that the whole mood of the story is gonna be a lot angsty-er than Torn was. First Chapter is really short, but I promise the next one is longer. Bear with me. :)
Ahsoka Tano flicked her wrist, her green lightsaber flying into her hand and activating simultaneously. With one expertly executed swing, three of the ten battle droids threatening her squad were down. She smiled grimly.
'This is almost too easy now,'
'This is almost too easy now,'
she thought, throwing her lightsaber to cleanly cut through the control panel of one droid while using the Force to slam one into the ground. She paused for a split second to switch her weapon to her off hand, wipe her sweaty palm on her pant leg, and switch back, rotating her lightsaber so that it was held in her signature reverse Shien grip. Leaping forward, she sliced through a sixth droid, then flipped backward, tucking her knees in like she'd been told, and let Rex and his boys shoot down the rest.
She turned to the squad of clones that her Master had placed her in charge of. Briefly, she remembered a time when being put in a position of leadership caused her to lose confidence. But she'd matured since then. "Come on, boys, we're blowing that factory today. I'm not spending my sweet sixteen in a war zone. Instead I'll be celebrating it tomorrow on Coruscant. You understand me?"
She received a wholehearted "Yes, Ma'am!" from the men.
Smiling encouragingly, she added, "And you'll all be celebrating with me. Not one man is getting left on this scrap heap of a planet." She waved her arms around to gesture at the junk piles of Raxus Prime, driving the point home.
Her sweet sixteen. It was a day she'd been looking forward to ever since her fifteenth birthday, ever since she realized that her birthday meant a day off, a whole day to be with a certain someone. The ring he'd bought her only a year before shone on her right hand finger as if to prove that. And if she had to be stuck on Raxus instead, she'd go insane.
She increased their pace, leading the troops closer and closer to their target: a large factory located within the scraps that created repair supplies for the Separatist dreadnaughts. So far, the mission had gone on quite well. No deaths, easy enemies, and a simple objective that she kept repeating in her head to remind her of how straightforward her task really was. 'Get in, plant explosives, get out, boom. Get in, plant explosives, get out, boom…'
She stopped and turned. "What's up, Rex?"
He just pointed ahead. Ahsoka followed his finger with her eyes until she saw small smoke puffs not even one hundred yards away. They'd found it.
Her birthday seemed to be looking better than ever.
The sound of a blaring siren woke Carter Draik. The sixteen-year-old Jedi Padawan groaned, pulling his pillow down over his head in an attempt to try and block out the sound and squeezing his eyes shut. He reached over to the nightstand next to his bunk and fumbled for the alarm clock, slamming his fist down on the snooze button several times before realizing that the sound wasn't stopping. He cracked one emerald eye open to glance at the time. "Stang, Master, I said I wanted at least an hour of sleep!" Carter defiantly rolled over and attempted to block out the noise and go back to sleep, but he was already awake. With a sigh, he rubbed his tired eyes and for the first time saw the flashing red lights.
At the same time, he could hear a clone's voice over the ship's intercom. "All hands to battle stations! This is not a drill! Repeat, this is not a drill!"
Carter bolted upright, now wide awake. He stood and shrugged into his leather battle tunic frantically. Forgetting about his pitch-black hair, which was sticking up in every which way, he summoned his lightsaber with the Force and sprinted out the door of his quarters and up to the bridge where his Master waited.
Kento Marek was busily shouting commands to the crew to pay any attention to his Padawan at first. Outside the front viewport, Carter could see the first wave of enemy fighters incoming, and the Republic's first retaliation: a small squad of dogfighters.
"Master, what happened?" Carter asked. "I thought this was supposed to be a diplomatic mission!"
"It was," Kento muttered. "Then they shot us."
"So what're the odds?"
"Just one ship, pretty even when it comes to numbers, odds in our favor skill-wise," Kento finally turned to face his Padawan, his grey eyes showing slight excitement from underneath his hood. "Take your squad, destroy the ship."
"Got it," Carter said with a grin. He knew the inside of a Separatist ship like the back of his hand now. Just outside the main hangar was the control room, with all the systems keeping the life support, engines, and shields up. All he had to do was get in there and blow the place up.
He turned away from his Master and jogged down the bridge towards the hangar. Carter nearly swelled with pride when he saw his customized Delta 7 fighter sitting in its designated spot, red and blue designs decorating the exterior. He smiled and turned to a group of clones, his personal squadmates, and motioned towards the fighters. "Crash! Niner! Edge! Time to take down that ship!"
One of the three, whose hair was spiked in every direction, a dark brown color up to the very tips of the spikes, where they were a bright yellow, smiled at his Commander. "What took you so long, sir?"
"The usual, Crash," Carter replied.
Niner ran a hand over his goatee. "The usual excuses, you mean."
Edge chuckled, scratching at the spot on the back of his neck where a krayt dragon was tattooed. "Yeah, you heard the alarm just like everyone else; you're in the same boat, Commander."
"Just get to your ships," Carter grinned.
"Yes sir!" they all replied with salutes.
As they sprinted for their ships, Carter could make out Crash mumbling, "Thought he'd never ask."
Carter grinned and strapped into the pilot seat of his cockpit. Glancing down at the dashboard, he smiled at the holo he'd taped there. It had been taken only a few weeks before, the last time he'd seen her, and it always brought him hope everytime he looked at it. He saw himself, smiling not at the camera, but at the Togrutan girl whose waist his arms wrapped around. One of her hands rested behind his neck, while the other was partially buried in his hair. "Tomorrow, Ahsoka," he whispered, lightly pressing his lips to the holo before lifting off to destroy the ship.
"You alright, sir?" Edge asked. "You seem sorta spacey."
Carter just grinned at the holo again before taking his place at the head of the squadron. "Couldn't be better."
"Move!" Ahsoka shouted, sprinting at full speed just ahead of the clones, toward the factory's exit. She leapt onto one of the speeder bikes waiting outside, glancing back to make sure that her men were nearby, and shot off. Glancing down at the timer on her wrist, she pushed the speeder to maximum power. Behind her, Rex sped along on a STAP he'd stolen from the Separatists.
"Ahsoka! Time?" he asked frantically.
She looked down again. "Ten seconds!" she replied. "Get as much distance between us and that soon-to-be scrap heap!" Looking back, Ahsoka counted heads. Six. Okay, all accounted for. For now.
The explosion came quicker than she'd anticipated, the shockwave bucking her off her speeder bike. She remembered how Carter had shown her to land, and she rolled into a ball, aiming her right shoulder towards the ground. She started to roll just before impact, and the motion absorbed the shock. So the impromptu lesson on Ataru actually did help her out.
"Report!" she yelled, brushing herself off and checking for personal injuries. Her shoulder was bleeding from scraping it during her roll, but otherwise she was fine.
"Rex, checking in!" she heard her friend say, coughing a bit.
The other six responded in the same way. Aside from one clone who'd been temporarily deafened in one ear from the blast and was now holding a gloved hand up to the side of his head to relieve some of the pain, no one had been seriously injured. Ahsoka smiled as she saw the LAAT/i gunships coming to pick them up. "Mission success," she said. "Nice job, boys. Go get some rest."
"What about you, ma'am?" Rex asked, pulling off his helmet and smiling.
"I gotta get home, remember?"
"Right, then. See you next mission then?"
"You can count on it." Ahsoka turned and started to walk towards her fighter, which had been flown down by her faithful droid, R3-K4.
She turned on heel and gave Rex a questioning look.
She grinned. "Thanks, Rex."
She was finally going to see Carter again. It was going to be a very happy birthday indeed.