Author's note: The members of my little group of OC clones have been through a lot and have been very insistent about getting some background stories all their own. Being the pushover that I am, this is my attempt to flesh out "the guys" of Shadow Squad, who you will recognize from my other stories: All or Nothing and Warriors of Shadow. If you aren't familiar with those, this might be a good intro...hmmm? Please enjoy, and review if you are so inclined. Thanks for reading!
The quotes (and title) are from the song, "Intermission," by The Scissor Sisters.
"Sometimes you're filled with the notion,
The afterlife's a moment away;
You want to tell someone the way that you feel,
But then you ain't got nothing to say."
No one ever asked Trax how he got his scar.
Naturally, he preferred it that way, as it was a moment in his short life that he relived each day, which was bad enough without having to talk about it. Wasn't one of the more pleasant moments, either.
Traxis preferred weapons; they were easy to understand, easy to keep in good condition. Should they become overheated, they could be set down or even re-calibrated. If they emptied, they could be recharged. When they broke, they could be fixed. Of course it wasn't the same for wets – organic life-forms – which was why he found it to be normally not worth the effort it took to get to know them. The people around Traxis had a nasty tendency to die on him.
When he was young – well, younger - he was more optimistic; he cracked jokes, made faces beneath his helmet, whistled when he was working. Like every other clone he could fire a blaster with perfect accuracy, slog for hours through mire and jungle without tiring, follow every given order with nary a thought...and it was all so utterly normal that he never once considered that things could be – would ever be – different. When he stepped on the ship that took him away from Kamino he was eager to meet his fate head-on with a handful of tibanna and hot carbine.
Everything changed when he stepped off the Larty, when his boots touched dirt for the first time.
Like every other brother, Traxis' initial battle shattered him, left him scattered on the ground, battered and broken. A thousand empty pieces.
It was on Teth.
In the beginning he didn't remember much besides the shouting, the thrill of adrenaline in his veins as he pushed the bile of fear back down his throat as he lifted his Deece and sent a blast of hot plasma at the nearest droid, then another, and another and another. The ground was hard beneath his feet, vibrating with the oncoming tanks; there were a group of SBDs that surrounded him, sending sprays of fire and heat his way. Traxis dropped to his belly, rolled in the mud; his armor was no longer shiny and new as he avoided being fried, though it was by a narrow margin. Heat choked the air around his body as he fell.
Then training kicked in again and Traxis sprang to his feet, firing on the nearest clanker – only a spindly battle droid – nodding to himself as he watched it collapse in a smoldering heap. There was an opening, a way to rejoin the others. He ran. Below his feet the ground quivered.
It was better, later on, when he was back-to-back with a brother whose name he didn't catch. He wasn't like Traxis, this brother who had seen battle since that first day at Geonosis. "Cover me," the brother-with-no-name called, raising his twin blasters and nodding to an oncoming SBD. Even as he did as he was told, Traxis watched No-Name with awe; the arcs of blue erupting from his hands like lightning. No-Name took down three of the clankers before he himself succumbed; one of his blasters clattered to Traxis' feet, still hot. He lifted it, felt the reassuring weight in not one but both of his hands. A droid approached him and he fired, two shots at once. It fell.
Beneath his helmet, Traxis grinned.
As he celebrated his small victory, he neglected to notice the rolling droid that appeared at his back until light and heat bloomed around him. Traxis turned, still smiling. Air rushed into his nostrils, followed by dirt and grit as his helmet was knocked off. There was heat; the smell of seared flesh and the shuddering sensation of his head hitting the ground.
He felt numb. Then there was light, followed by blackness.
In the aftermath of battle no one screamed because there was no sound in death. There were whimpers, moans, yelps and other sounds that dying animals made; the noises echoed in his raw ears as his helmet had vanished. Traxis' armor was no longer shiny as he crawled on his knees through the dirt that was still and silent beneath his body, his vision blurred by something warm and wet that he tried not to think about. The numbness was gone and his head and neck hurt like hell.
Soon there were no more groaning sounds and no more cries as silence congealed in the air. Still Traxis crawled; he didn't know exactly where he was going but he hoped it was towards help, towards faces that he would recognize...provided he could ever see anything again. Night fell, or so he thought by the sounds of droning insects or the cooling air against his face and he realized that he was lost and alone, with only the twin blasters that had remained in his hands the entire time. The muzzle of the weapon in his left hand hit something hard and solid, a tentative brush with his little finger indicated the rough skin of a fallen tree and the ground below him sloped, possibly providing some kind of cover.
Back to the tree, blasters in his hands, Traxis spent the night alone for the first time in his life. He was unfamiliar with the sounds of Teth, especially night-time ones, and it was not easy to keep from firing at each rustle in the brush and each distant footfall; however, the thought of being stranded without any ammunition was enough to keep his finger from squeezing the triggers. In any case, he was reassured by the presence of a weapon in each hand and for a little while, that was enough. His world shrank to the size of the blasters in his grip.
After an hour or so he felt around for his medipac and tried to mop up, though it was a bit of a debate, as it meant that he would have to set down one of the weapons. But the wound was deeper than he imagined and he added his own sounds to the noises of the forest, hisses and curses made through clenched teeth. It was bad. He knew that he needed medical attention before infection set in. Traxis tried to pay attention to the sounds of the night rather than think about the pain as he attempted to clear away the area around his eyes, but it didn't work.
As his sight didn't return, Trax began to wonder if he was broken. He also wondered if anyone would bother looking for him when he didn't report back. He couldn't remember proper procedure in this case, namely whether anyone was supposed to search for wounded men, and the realization that he might have brain damage was not a comforting thought alone in the darkness. His hands clenched around the hilts of the blasters and he tried not to think about the pain in his head.
Possibly he slept, because at one point he realized that the sounds of the night had faded away into other noises, daytime noises; the trickling, incongruous sound of bird calls, the buzzing of different insects, all interspersed with the feel of something warm against his cheek. At first he thought it was sunlight and felt a flash of panic – as it meant he was exposed – but then he realized that it was only the press of the left-hand blaster to his skin. Like a living thing it was still warm, despite the hours that had passed.
When they found him the next day, the blasters were still clutched in his hands and he flat-out refused to release them. There was more cursing, more animal sounds. Only when someone gave him a shot of tranquilizer and he felt his fingers unclench – not of their own accord – did the weapons leave his grip.
They told him that he was lucky that he didn't lose his sight, though he was left with a ripple of pink, puckered skin that ribboned across his face and slipped below his neck. They also told him that he was lucky because he was one of the few survivors, that he was a true soldier now, no longer shiny and new.
Traxis didn't care about any of that, but he never forgot the feeling of safety gripped in both hands.