Work Header

side by side we march as one

Work Text:

CC-117 had been decanted to be a Commander in the GAR. He lived up to that potential, but for all his skills and battle abilities, he hadn’t yet found a name. It didn’t really bother him, but sometimes he did wonder when he’d come upon something that made him unique. Even his number was recycled, from one of the earliest brothers to die in service, and sometimes, it…chafed.

Not much, and not often, but he figured he’d find a name eventually.

In the meantime, he now had his marching orders, him and all the rest of the company. They were being deployed to a neutral planet, to serve a Jedi. CC-117 had immediately done his research, but his new Jedi was difficult to find intel on. He’d been born (or hatched – CC-117 wasn’t quite sure which, and he suspected that it would be one of those topics that natural borns were weird about) as Thel ‘Vadam, from one of the more insular systems in the Republic. The Covenant system had a number of native species, a government that was more a complicated theocracy than anything functional, and a raging case of xenophobia.

Honestly, CC-117 couldn’t figure out how they’d even joined the Republic in the first place, but that wasn’t any of his business. Besides, Thel ‘Vadam seemed to be a typical, raised in the Coruscant Temple type of Jedi.

He should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.

CC-117’s first glimpse of Jedi Master Thel ‘Vadam was as a Larty sped across a live battlefield,  where a slew of clankers were trying to overrun some cultural landmark the locals had taken refuge in. The large, grand entryway didn’t even have a door, but it now had an obstruction that was a low heap of droid scraps. Blasterfire from the building kept the incoming waves from being impossible to handle, while a towering humanoid fought over and around the heap, adding to the pile as more droids attempted to take his position. He wore dark organic looking armor instead of Jedi tunics or robes, and his lightsaber wasn’t at all a sword. It was a pale purple-tinted blue handweapon with two blades sprouting on opposite ends of his fist. It sure seemed to work like a lightsaber, and CC-117 couldn’t help but appreciate how damn effective something that looked like limb-loss waiting to happen could be.

The Larty hit the LZ as close to the building as the pilot dared to bring it in – given Foehammer, that was very close – but CC-117 and the lead squads still had to wade through half a fuckton of clankers to even get to the droid hill blocking the way. On the ground, he could see how the scrap heap wasn’t just droids. General ‘Vadam looked to have mustered some of the locals for defense, but only those providing cover fire were alive.

The clankers must have finally gotten intel that the GAR was now in the neighborhood, because they started swarming in a last effort to take down the local Jedi – and possibly also the civvies’ refuge.  By the time CC-117 got to General ‘Vadam’s side, the Jedi was facing off against the last half of a squad of commando droids.

CC-117 might have enjoyed that challenge more if General ‘Vadam hadn’t been on his knees, awash in far more purple blood than his species would typically have on the outside. CC-117 wrenched the last clanker’s head off as his men finally took up positions around their new Jedi, someone calling for the nearest medic.

A deep chuckle pulled CC-117’s attention off the battlefield and back to the Jedi. General ‘Vadam was looking at him, all four fangy mandibles spread in what CC-117 hoped was a smile. “That was quite impressive. You fight like a demon!” Before he could figure out a response to that, Grey hustled up and started cursing out their newest patient in language they shouldn’t have been using on a Jedi, but that was Grey.

Their Jedi then decided to groan, go unconscious, and faceplant into the dirt, so it was all a bit moot.

Evac’ing the general happened in a blur, then it was a long slog through cleanup. CC-117 managed to keep the medics at bay until after most of the work was done, but he knew his limits. He reached his first major break in the action, then started towards the building where he’d ordered Medical to set up.

He was greeted at the building entrance by an irate whistle and an astromech whacking up against his legs. CC-117 grunted as some of his wounds protested the hit, but the droid had gone after his less injured side. “I know, I know,” he said, half amused, half wry.

[You’re late,] the ‘mech chirruped at him in Binary. [You were supposed to be here over an hour ago!]

He held up a hand. “Cortana –”

CRT-4N scooted up to bump against his side again – a little gentler, this time. [A five minute break for water and to sit doesn’t count!]

“I know!” It was a little more resigned this time, because she was right. The droid had always been opinionated, ever since they met. She’d belonged to one of the kinder trainers from Kamino who had seen how well she and CC-117 had worked together and –

He hadn’t really known what to do when the man hadn’t returned from some “family business,” leaving various belongings to a number of clones.

Keyes had gifted Cortana to CC-117, and he would never not appreciate her.

“Someone had to take care of the men, and the cleanup.”

Cortana let out a soft whistle that served her as a sigh. [It doesn’t always have to be you, you know.]

CC-117 chuckled and patted the astromech’s dome as they headed deeper into the building. “Now where’s the fun in that?”

They arrived in time to see the General hoist himself out of a bacta tank, with much grumbling from all involved. Grey looked ready to sedate the Jedi if they had to, but since General ‘Vadam wasn’t actively bleeding anymore they were holding back. It was a rare moment of restraint for the head medic, so CC-117 was betting that this would be ammo to use against recalcitrant Jedi in the future.

The GAR’s gossip chain included a lot of life tips on how to wrangle Jedi, though he’d thought that stories coming out of the 501st and 212th had been exaggerated.

Watching the reptilian Jedi haul himself out of a too-small bacta tank that had been given just enough time to keep him mostly in one piece?

Now he wasn’t so sure about that.

[Oh good. You’re not the craziest person around anymore. Does this mean you have to keep him in line, or do I have to try to keep both of you from being stupid now?]

Cortana was quiet, but it caught General ‘Vadam’s attention. Upon seeing CC-117, he did the possibly-a-smile thing again. “Ah, you’ve returned. Commander, correct?”

He saluted. “Yes, sir. CC-117. Sorry we didn’t have time for formal introductions.”

General ‘Vadam chuckled. “Forgive me if I don’t complain.”

I might,” Grey grumbled, shepherding the Jedi over to an examination table. “There’s ever so much to complain about.”

‘Vadam had already figured out it was best to ignore the medic’s asides. He kept watching CC-117 in that strange way Jedi could do, intense and as if he could see into a being. “I am Master Thel ‘Vadam, though I prefer to go by Arbiter.”

CC-117 could almost hear the communal blink as every clone in hearing range looked at their new general. “Arbiter, sir?” He kept his voice neutral, appreciating that the Jedi seemed unfazed by the sudden attention.

“It’s the title my people give to the one they send off to the Jedi every few generations or so.” He nodded towards the armor carefully stacked near the bacta tank. “They don’t have many Force-strong individuals, so when one crops up they’re sent off with the title, the traditional armor, and an excess of religious baggage.”

It was said casually enough that one could think it was a simple fact, but CC-117 could pick up on something else. He studied his new commanding officer a bit before asking, “So you prefer this title?”

That earned him a long level evaluation in return. “I am the Arbiter of the Covenant, its sword for the Republic. Names are irrelevant to roles. CC-117.”

He was grateful he was still wearing his bucket, because it meant he didn’t need to hide the smirk. General thought he was making a point, did he? He crossed his arms and didn’t try to keep his expression from his voice. “I don’t know. I was just thinking ‘Demon’ might be fitting.”

Cortana did the fraction of a dome-twirl that was her eye roll. It was worth it, though: ‘Vadam gaped at him for a long moment. Then the General’s mandibles closed slowly, and he did something that was part bow, part nod. “That is an…interesting point, Commander Demon. We should perhaps discuss that later.”

He nodded back, feeling the pleasant weight of a name settling on his shoulders. “Looking forward to it, sir.”