This OneShot is dedicated to Falkenauge. Thanks for the encouraging review.
Also, I don't own anything.
The Colours We Wear
He inspected the armor carefully, going over it with both his eyes and the sensitive pads of his fingers. He had been wearing his grey fatigues when the Triumphant had gone down and his armor had been lost in the subsequent explosion. He wanted to make sure that his new kit was functioning per regulations. Kamino had high standards when it came to both the clones it produced and the kit they issued them, but it always paid to be careful.
Armor was a trooper's life; his last line of defense during a battle, so making sure it was in perfect working order was a top priority for any clone. Wolffe put down the chest plate and picked up his new helmet. He checked the electronics inside, making sure the HUD was up and running. He'd have to calibrate the system to his specifications, but that could wait until later. He wasn't due to be discharged from Kaliida for another two rotations.
Absently, he rubbed at his chest. A short stint in a bacta tank had taken care of the damage inflicted on his lungs, after his brush with vacuum, but there were times when he thought he could still feel a tightness in his chest. Nothing but nonsense, he knew that. He was in a rich, oxygen saturated space station and not in an escape pod leaking air into the cold void of space. There was absolutely no reason why he should feel at times, like he was having difficulty breathing.
Satisfied that the internal systems in his bucket were in full working order, Wolffe flipped the helmet around and settled it on his lap. The harsh lighting of the medical suite he had been assigned reflected off of the unblemished white of the helmet. Wolffe ran a thumb over the plastoid, along the T-shaped visor. There were no battle scars on this helmet, no scratches or dents to prove that he was a man who had seen plenty of action and had lived to tell the tale. Nor did the armor feature any other markings, such as the stylized wolf's head that had distinguished him from the other clones; a testament to the name he had chosen for himself, and the traits he valued: honor, loyalty, a fierce sense of pride and a hunter's skills. He had all of those things, but so had his men and most of them were dead now.
Wolffe set the helmet aside and made his way to the viewport on the other side of his room. Standing straight and tall, he clasped his hands behind his back and looked out at the stars. He had known that the hunt for the Malevolence would not come without a cost. The Separatists new weapon, a Subjugator-class heavy cruiser equipped with two ion pulse cannons, had already cut quite a swath through the GAR. With no survivors from the previous attacks, Wolffe had understood that if their fleet caught up with the ship, casualties would be high.
But not this high, he thought and rubbed one side of his face with the palm of his hand. The entire 104th completely wiped out, except for him, General Plo Koon and Sinker and Boost. What had once been the proud Wolfpack had been reduced to four survivors, who never would have made it out alive if it hadn't been for General Skywalker and Commander Tano disobeying orders. They had survived by the skin of their teeth and luck.
While the only luck most of my men had was to die when their ships exploded, rather than suffocating from trying to breathe vacuum.
He turned away from the viewport, no longer able to look at the stars. Walking back to the hospital bed, he picked up his helmet once more, studying its white surface coating. He would have to paint it, maybe later today. It wouldn't do for a commander to walk around in shiny armor, particularly when he had to meet the replacement troops. The 104th would be rebuilt, with fresh recruits form Kamino; General Koon had told him so only yesterday. The Kel Dor's voice had sounded heavier than usual, and Wolffe wondered if the General was affected by the same feelings of hesitancy and disquiet at the thought of simply replacing all those good men they had lost to the Malevolence that plagued him. It was hard to tell. Kel Dorians were notoriously difficult to read and this had been his first mission with General Koon. But if they did harbor the same concerns, then that boded well for their future cooperation. It would prove what Wolffe had already come to suspect: that the General cared about his men and did not consider them merely replaceable units.
Wolffe grimaced in thought. It just seemed…disloyal somehow, to simply fill the empty spaces left behind with new men, who knew nothing of those they had been sent to replace. And if there was one thing Commander Wolffe was not, it was disloyal.
Running his hand over the top of the helmet, Wolffe nodded absent agreement to his internal musings. Yes, he would repaint the armor today, while he still had some leisure time on his hands. He would keep the wolf's head, of course. It was too much of an easy identifier to leave off of his armor. But the rest? The colouring on his previous set had been a deep red, vital and menacing. It was a colour that warned others that he and the Wolfpack were not to be trifled with. At the time, it had been a good choice of colour. But he didn't feel like red now. At this moment, with the memory of hard vacuum still pressing against him and the loss of his men still heavy on his shoulders, red was furthest form his mind.
What he felt like was the sky of Kamino, just before it began to rain again after a brief appearance of the sun. He felt grey and blue with the melancholy of his loss.
Sinker and Boost found their commander busily at work, carefully applying a new coat of paint to his freshly delivered armor.
"Too much time on your hands, sir?" Asked Sinker, making his way into the medical suite, with Boost trailing behind him.
Commander Wolffe's answer was a bit absentminded as he concentrated on his task. "Something like that."
Sinker expected the parts of the armor that were already finished. Most of the armor covering the upper body was done, the paint gleaming wetly under the sharp light. He was glad to see that Commander Wolffe had kept the distinctive wolf's head. The design had been a good one and become the Wolfpack's identifying insignia.
"Why this colour, sir?" Asked Boost and Sinker wondered the same.
Wolffe looked up from his position on the bed, where he had been putting the finishing touches on the designs for his helmet. He regarded his two troopers, - all that remained of the original Wolfpack – steadily, before glancing at the armor.
"Because we lost good men out there, brothers, and I want to make sure they know I mourn their loss. I want to make sure that the new recruits also know that if they die, I will also mourn them. The 104th is based on loyalty and that loyalty should extend past the living."
Sinker swallowed the lump in his throat and saw Boost quickly looking away as well. He knew that once he and Boost finished visiting their commander, they would spend the rest of their time on Kaliida repainting their armor, as well. Because they had lost good men, good brothers, and that loss should be recognized by those who had known them best.
Commander Wolffe was right; the backbone of the 104th was loyalty and the muted grey-blue of their armor would be a testament to that loyalty; a memorial to fallen comrades, the only one they were ever likely to receive.
Eying Commander Wolffe thoughtfully as he talked with Boost, Sinker thought that he would make some other changes to his armor as well. He would add the wolf's head to his armor's insignia and he would convince Boost and the shinies to do the same. They would proudly wear the colours of their loss for the memory of the fallen, but they would just as proudly declare their allegiance to their commander. They were the Wolfpack and their armor would become a testament of their loyalties.
Author's Note: This OneShot takes place after the Malevolence arc in season 1.
I also highly recommend you check out Falkenauge's site. Lots of good fics to be found there. Cheers!