Heroes on Both Sides

"Wars are won by Soldiers."

Part 1: Victory or Death

Explosions erupted in the distance, quickly followed by blaster fire. Skyscrapers obscured line of sight, a halo of smoke rose from the battlefield above them.

"Forward," the commander ordered. He was a blue skinned near-Human, tall and athletic, just over two meters. His black eyes studied his Separatist troops, the he pulled his hair back and slipped on his helmet.

Rank upon rank of battle droids marched with perfect coordination while buildings loomed. Bold and reckless civilians watched from windows, fully aware that their world's fate depended on this battle. The entrenched street was full of rubble, once a major thoroughfare won and lost on a daily basis.

"Halt! Get on line, close ranks, and prepare for battle."

Immediately the droids spread into three lines, blocking the road. They tightened their ranks until they were shoulder to shoulder. The first row dropped prone, the second kneeled, and the third stood with blasters ready.

"Sir," his tactical battle droid complained. "This position is untenable."

"I'm aware of that," the commander replied.

"He's right Calhava," one of his companions said, another blue skinned male. This near-human's face and scalp were clean-shaven, giving him a harsh look. "The Jedi may only know how to sneak attack and charge, but they're very good at both."

"They'll never hold off the Jedi," added a second. A younger man, his hair was longer, flowing black waves concealed his ears. "We need a better position."

The commander paused before he turned to his companions.

"Patience and faith my friends," he told the first. Then he turned to the second. "You of all should trust me brother, we need to draw the Jedi into the open."

Both men smiled and lowered their heads with respect.

"Merch," Calhava told his brother. "Get to the towers. Benti, you have the left flank. Wait for my call."

"Roger," both men replied. Merch ran to the right while Benti sprinted left.

The Jedi raced ahead of his clone troopers, shredding what remained of Calhava's pickets. A full platoon of clones followed at his heels. Powerfully muscled, the Jedi towered over his troops, his lightsaber had two blades, sweeping in circles like a staff.

"Fire!" Calhava ordered. The salvo caught the Jedi off guard, his double-lightsaber spun before he ignited his second. Blue and green blurred along with his four arms as red bolts flew harmlessly away. The bone ridge atop his head lowered with concentration as he weathered the barrage. Then one step followed another as the Jedi inched closer to the lines of battle droids.

"Perhaps we should withdraw-" the tactical droid began again.

"I will not cower in safety while my troops fight," Calhava cut the droid off.

The clone commander said something to his troops; grenades flew over the Jedi into droid ranks.

"Cover!"

Tightly ranked, the droids couldn't escape the explosions. Holes erupted in the lines, allowing the Jedi to charge the formation. The Clones tried to follow but found themselves bogged down by blasterfire.

Calhava keyed up his radio, "Left and right flank, fire!"

High above ground on the right, windows shattered as a pair of dwarf spider droids unleashed explosive rounds. Bits of clone armor flew in all directions as explosions ripped them to pieces. Troopers fled left, desperate for cover. More windows shattered as a destroyer cut off their escape, flanked by two super battle droids.

Recognizing the ambush, the Jedi bound over the lines of battle droids and landed before Calhava. Two lightsabers crossed just below his throat. The tactical battle droid tried to raise its blaster, but Calhava seized its arm.

"General Krell."

"Surrender!" The Besalisk Jedi Master demanded.

"Never," the commander replied, folding his arms across his chest. "Your forces are defeated. Yield and I'll allow you and your troops to withdraw."

The alien put away a lightsabers and seized Calhava with the force, lifting him off the ground while choking him. Gasping for air that wouldn't come, he clawed at his neck.

"I will kill you slowly, agonizingly, if you resist."

"Then my brother…and…my troops…will avenge me. Switch target!"

Every last droid about face, their blasters targeting the Jedi master. Even the destroyer wobbled its way out of the building. Krell dropped Calhava and spun to face them.

"You'll die too!" General Krell warned.

"I'm willing to die for freedom," Calhava assured him. "You have failed."

A rainbow of emotions raced across the Besalisk's face. First anger and surprise but quickly followed by uncertainty and fear. Furious, Krell's fists clenched as he snarled, "Very well, I accept your terms."

"All forces hold fire!" The battle ended instantly, the battle droids raising their weapons into a nonthreatening position. "Summon a gunship general."

A mere three clones climbed out of the kill box, the remainders of the platoon could barely walk. They joined Krell as Merch and Benti joined Calhava. A pitched whine announced the arrival of the Laat gunship, landing behind the Jedi. Calhava congratulated his officers.

"It's like father always said, 'when in doubt, throw in a gundark'."

Krell smashed Calhava into the gunship. He split Merch with a slice of his lightsaber. Stunned, the commander tried to break free while Benti fired at the Jedi. His first shot grazed the Jedi; his second was reflected back into his face. The wounded Clones tried to raise their hands in surrender, they were incinerated.

Krell threw Calhava in the gunship, jumped in, and fled.

"Ahh!" Krell drove his heel into Calhava's back. A holographic image flickered to life on Krell's wrist, distracting the Jedi.

"General, we're under heavy fire by enemy ships," a clone told him.

"Ignore them and prepare to jump to hyperspace," the Jedi ordered. Then he reconsidered. "Delay that order, full barrage on my last coordinates."

"…but sir…that's a civilian population center."

"You have my orders clone!" Krell snarled.

In low orbit, the cruiser shelled the city just before it fled.