“General, I’m glad to see you arrived safely!” Blackout, the hacker and computer specialist of Alpha Squad, approached the two Jedi at a quick pace. Slightly shorter than the other three commandos, being the only one of the squad with a full brown beard and clad in simple brown civilian’s clothing instead of the white and blue armour his rank of ARC lieutenant permitted, most would not think him one of the elite one hundred Alpha ARC troopers who served the Republic during the Clone Wars. “This way, sir, miss,” hHe said as he led them from the sole landing pad, pounded by the ever-pouring rain Kamino was known for, into a narrow hallway. It was similar to those in the cloning facility in Tipoca City, Kamino’s capital city, which had provided the many soldiers for the Grand Army of the Republic. Vhiran had visited the capital once to pick up reinforcements for a mission to Aargau, two years ago, just after he had become a Knight. It was there and then that he had first met the members of the commando squad that would lead the Republic to many a victory. But Tipoca City was now in enemy hands and unlike the halls there, this one seemed to lead downward.
“My deepest apologies for the trouble, general!” Blackout continued when he and Vhiran were side by side. “I should have been more careful than to let th…” He stopped as Vhiran raised his hand and shook his head. The Jedi Knight smiled but had a weary look about him, the commando noticed. “What happened, sir?” he asked without hesitation.
Vhiran shook his head again. “It’s nothing. Real…” This time it was his turn to be cut off.
“My eyes may not be as sharp as Ghost’s, but something’s bothering you, General. And that’s not going to do anyone any good,” Blackout said calmly. “What is it?”
The general hesitated a moment. “Imperial forces attacked us on Nar Shaddaa. We shot down at least six fighters…” He halted and laid his face in his open hand. “And then the soldiers I killed on Zaloriis, before I first went to Nar Shaddaa…It, it was…”
“That’s so like you. Looks like you haven’t changed a bit, have you now?” the commando smirked under his beard. “Sir, the soldiers you encountered. They were clone soldiers I take?”
“They were.” Vhiran nodded. “That doesn’t change that it was…”
“But it does, sir,” Blackout interrupted. “You’re forgetting they’re Mandalorians. I don’t think a Jedi, even one like you who spent years side by side with the Grand Army’s troopers, could ever fully comprehend this, but for a Mandalorian to die in battle is among the greatest of honours,” he explained with a serious voice and noticed Vhiran’s still saddened look. “Sir, take this from a Mandalorian: they wouldn’t have wanted to go any other way. No need to be sorrowful about it.” The commando grinned and patted his general on the shoulder.
“Perhaps…” Vhiran kept his gaze pointed at the floor.
“General, this is a war that’s going on, and those soldiers will be far from the last to fall!” Blackout said in a sudden strict tone. “Sacrifices will be made, whether we like it or not, and will continue to be made with every moment we waste! So if you feel bad about those deaths, then you had better stop sulking and start looking to end the war and the killings with it! The sooner the war ends, the sooner the killings end! Isn’t that what you want?! Isn’t that why you came here?!”
Vhiran looked up at the otherwise so calm ARC lieutenant. “Yes.” He nodded softly. “Thank you, Blackout. You, you’re right. We have to end this, as soon as possible.” A small smile formed on the Jedi Knight’s face. “So, tell me more about the plan Flash said you guys were working on.”
A grin appeared on the clone’s face once again. “Like I said…” Blackout gestured with his hand and started walking again. “This way.”