Disney owns Star Wars.
They'd been walking for thirty minutes when Falco piped up. "Sir. Permission to speak freely."
Vargus noticed that Falco had a thoughtful tone to his voice. "Go ahead, Falco."
"Does anyone else think it is strange we encountered a Death Watch scout on a moon is supposed to be secure?"
Dom hefted his decee, picking his way over a mess of tree roots that were poking out of the ground. "Maybe he got left behind."
Tari chipped in. "The Mando police reckon the General's visit must've caught them off guard. Most of the buildings looked like they just dropped what they were doing and tried to get out there."
Vargus frowned. He'd read the mission report and the Mandalorian fanatics hadn't struck him as the type to run from a fight. He was starting to form a theory and he didn't much like the look of it. "Falco, if you were the Death Watch leader and your base was discovered, what would you do?"
"Sir? I don't understand."
"Humour me. What would you do?"
Falco went silent. Vargus waited for him to think it through. "Depending on the strength of my supporting force," Falco said slowly, "I'd either fight or pull back."
"So if you fell back…" Vargus prompted, his stomach slowly sinking.
"The enemy still knows where my base is. I'd need to retake it or get off-planet as soon as possible," Falco replied promptly.
Vargus's stomach had reached his boots. "My thinking exactly, Falco. We've got to get back there and warn the police task force. They won't stand a chance."
"How do you know that? Couldn't it just be one guy?"
"Try calling Ren." Only crackly static greeted Tari's attempt.
They were almost out of the tree line, the crater's sides looming just ahead of them, when Falco dropped on one knee. Vargus moved up from his position as the patrol's tail and crouched beside the scout. Through the trees, he saw blue-clad figures readying a support weapon. He opened a secure com-line. Now he could speak to his men without worrying about alerting the enemy.
"Gentlemen, we've got three hostiles fifty meters ahead of us. Dom, Falco – circle to the left. Tari and I will take the right flank. Aim for the visor or joints in their armour and wait for my signal to engage."
Falco and Dom melted into the brush. Vargus waited a heartbeat before he moved off, Tari a few paces behind him.
Vargus edged closer to the unsuspecting members of Death Watch, adrenaline surging through his veins. From behind the cover of a sturdy shrub, he drew a bead on one of the blue figures pacing by what looked to be an E-Web repeating blaster. Idly he wondered why Kenobi had had such difficulty with these people—they didn't seem to be that tough.
Then he saw his target pause in his pacing, slowly turning to face towards the bush where he and Tari were hidden. Vargus didn't need to be Force-sensitive to know that the next words out of his mouth were going to be "hey!"
Falco and Dom were not going to be in position yet but it was too late for that. Vargus spoke rapidly into his com. "Standby, standby," all of his men would know that there was no going back now, "Take! Take! Take!"
On the first 'take', Vargus squeezed the trigger and was rewarded when his target toppled over. Beside him, he heard the bdapp-bdapp of Tari firing. The other guard by the gun slumped. The last remaining Mando, the one who'd been working on the gun, shrank down behind the base of the support weapon. Gauntleted hands grappled with the bottom of the support gun, trying to get it working no doubt.
Vargus growled his frustration; he couldn't get a clean shot from this angle. "I can't take him! Tari?"
A sudden crump made him flinch, blinking involuntarily before his helmet's sound dampeners and glare filters kicked in. Vargus looked back at the support weapon to find it was in flames.
"Got him, sir." That was Dom's chirpy voice in his ear.
Tari was never slow on a retort. "Actually genius, I think you got the E-Web's power cell."
Vargus elbowed the younger clone sharply. This was not the time for that. "Dom, Falco, move up and secure the area," he ordered. "If they are still alive I want them kept that way. The police will want to question them."
He watched warily as they emerged from the trees to his left, training his weapon on the nearest prone body just in case it proved to be a threat to his men. Dom took up position by the gun, checking it was disabled whilst Falco checked the fallen for life signs.
"Commander, I think you're a bit too good a shot," Falco commented as he checked over the two that Vargus and Tari had taken out. "These guys have had it—" He broke off abruptly as he went to the last Death Watch member.
"We've got a live one!" Falco sounded triumphant as he started pulling bacta patches out of his belt. Beside him, Vargus heard Tari let out a sigh of relief.
Then from nowhere, red streaks of laser fire peppered the remains of the E-Web.
Dom ducked down and Falco threw himself over the injured Mandalorian. Vargus checked his HUD: all four bio-signs to the left of his screen were still active. Good. He scrutinised the direction that the enemy fire had come from. A glimpse of movement behind a pile of rocks on the slope above them caught his eye.
"Dom, Falco, you still with me?" he asked, trying not to worry. Bio-signs only told you someone was alive, not if they were wounded.
"Still in one piece, sir," Falco replied rather breathlessly.
"Same here, sir," said Dom.
"Good. The hostiles are fifteen meters down from the edge of the crater, behind that clump of purplish rocks. They must've been observing the camp when we hit the rest of them." Vargus took a moment to castigate himself for assuming the enemy force were all together, then pushed his emotions to the side. His men were all still alive. Unfortunately, so were a couple of the enemy. "Dom, Falco, I want you two to draw their fire while we flank 'em. No heroics!"
"Copy that, sir," said Falco. Dom didn't answer. Instead he popped up and snapped off a couple of shots in the direction of the crater slope before a flurry of red fire forced him under cover again.
Vargus motioned silently to Tari and they started sneaking through the bushes. The tension in him mounted as he heard the sound of continuing blasterfire, clone and Mandalorian. He resisted the urge to move closer to the fight, to make sure that his men were okay; after all, he could see Dom and Falco's bio-signs still pulsing steadily in his HUD.
"Commander, we count only two hostiles," Falco said calmly over the com, the sizzle of plasma bolts in the background. "Also our Mandalorian friend is going to pull through. Bit of shrapnel, that's all."
"Copy that," Vargus replied. He could now see flashes of blue armour moving behind the purple rocks that were sheltering the last of the Death Watch soldiers. Flashes of armour weren't good enough. He needed a clean shot. He needed to get closer. Vargus crouched even lower, almost hugging the uneven ground. It wasn't going to hide the white of his armour. Meanwhile his men were still under fire. He gritted his teeth and scanned the area in front of him for cover. There!
Five meters to his right was a scraggly looking thorn bush that extended up the slope. It was just high enough that if he crawled, he might not be seen. He motioned to Tari to stay put and not move. The thorn bush might hide his armour but bright orange would be pushing it.
Painstakingly he dragged himself up the slope, trying to balance the need to move fast against his need for stealth. One meter. Then another. Finally he reached the edge of the bush and, carefully lifting his head, peeked through the branches. Perfect. He was level with the two Mandalorians that were trying to kill Dom and Falco.
Cautiously, Vargus started to bring up his decee. Any sudden movement might alert them to his presence. Then he was in position, his targets were still unaware, busily concentrating their fire on the remains of the E-Web downhill. Vargus breathed in steadily, willing his arms to relax as he looked down his crosshairs at the side of the first Mando's neck. He could see how he would do it now, the first shot then the second, almost as though he'd already done it. Calm washed over him, drowning out the sound of weapons fire. As he exhaled, he squeezed the trigger gently, then shifted his aim a fraction to the right and squeezed again.
Vargus kept his weapon trained on them as he warily started to straighten from behind his bush. In the corner of his eye he saw Tari charging up the slope ready to back him up. Vargus nudged the still forms gently. No movement. They'd done it.
The Death Watch survivor had been quiet since Falco had restrained him, sitting calmly to one side of the landing zone. Vargus and Tari were keeping an eye on them until the transports arrived. On the other side of the LZ, the rest of his team were helping the police officers prep their gear for extraction. Vargus was still getting over his adrenaline high and was quietly pleased with the way his men had handled themselves. They'd completed their mission, the New Mandalorian police force was now equipped to defuse bombs with the best of them, and they'd managed to thwart a Death Watch attack to boot. It was going to make for an interesting mission report.
The prisoner broke the silence, his helmet tilting up at Vargus. "So what now, clone?"
Vargus ignored him. Making serious efforts to kill his men had automatically lumped the Mandalorian in the same category as the Separatists as far as Vargus was concerned, and he didn't talk to Separatist scum.
"What, did the Republic not teach you to talk before they marched you out to do their dirty work for them?"
On second thoughts, Vargus decided the prisoner was a sleemo like Nute Gunray. At least battle droids had the decency to be quiet once they were beaten. He nudged the prisoner's shoulder with the muzzle of his decee. "Save it for someone who cares."
"Figures. I guess your armourer got it right after all."
Vargus groaned, exasperated at Tari for taking the bait.
"Oh, so you do care!" Sarcasm dripped from the Mando's voice.
Vargus thumped him with his rifle butt, not so lightly this time. Maybe he'd take the hint.
A low rumble heralded the arrival of the shuttles; one for him and his team, the other was slated for the police officers and their 'guest'. Just in time, Vargus had had enough of this moon.
Safe inside the shuttle Vargus opened his HUD's database, flicking to the section on Mandalorian armour. Apparently, orange armour meant 'lust for life'; it was an oddly appropriate colour choice for bomb techs. He wondered briefly if the Republic had known that when they designated colours.
Green armour, like his, symbolised duty. Vargus looked at the orange-clad troopers beside him; his men, his brothers. Green for duty. That sounded about right. He smiled, leaning back in his seat, and waited for the shuttle to take him back to the war.
Thanks for reading, I hoped you enjoyed the story. If you've got some time, I'd love to know what you thought of it.
Want to see more of Commander Vargus and his team? Well, the guys all feature in a crack!fic of mine called, "Commander Vargus Meets His Maker".