munnin: (Red Mist)
[personal profile] munnin

Title: Hugin Chronicles. Chapter 1: In the silence when the ringing stops.
Fandom: Star Wars – Clone Wars.
Verse: Joe Hogan’s Red Mist Squad.
Disclaimer: No ownership, no profit and no offence meant. Everyone is of the age of consent in their country and period of history
Author’s notes: This ‘verse and its characters belong to the talented Joe Hogan. Individual characters were inspired by members of the Celebrations Rogues. The verse has been hijack by me with the consent of all involved. This story was prompted and inspired by Chris Dee.
Summary: A mission goes wrong.

Everything ached, every part of him. The armour did little to soften the blast and the helmet did nothing to protect his hearing. The comms in his bucket screamed with static, every system overloaded.

His, and his gear’s.

Taking stock wasn’t helping. There weren’t parts that didn’t hurt. So he focused on the things that still worked.

His fingers.

It wasn’t a big movement but it was a start. He could move his fingers.

Inch by inch. Joint by joint. He pulled himself back under control.

Rolling onto his back with a barely suppressed groan of pain, he surveyed his surroundings, trying to take it all in.

The facility was on fire. Burning. He was burnt too but he couldn’t feel it. All his nerves were shocked to silence.

The roiling black sky above him was the sickly yellow grey of a bruise. And yet it was comforting somehow. Familiar.

Kamino.

Why was he back on Kamino? There had to be a reason. He groped at the memories, fractured and brittle.

The words risk of potential brain damage added themselves to his mental checklist of issues.

A mission. He knew that much. Fordo had sent him especially.

He and… another?

That hurt, more than the physical pain. The other trooper was a brother, another member of the Red Mist squad. Crispy knew that for sure. And yet his head with ringing so badly he couldn’t remember the man’s name.

Memory flooded back, sharp and bitter as bile, too fast to comprehend.

***

Running down a corridor, side by side, guns blazing. Super battle droids were following them. Normally that would just make for a bit more fun than the usual clankers but today they didn’t have time.

They were on the clock. And the seconds were slipping away from them. As the trooper with turned a corner, back against the wall to cover them, Crispy dropped to one knee, reloading his rifle with one of Rezz’s homemade explosive rounds. “I’ve got an idea.”

He brought up the map as his brother laid down cover fire. “This ventilation system joins all these corridors. If we blow it here and here, we can drop the roof on the Supers. We’ll have a clear run to the platform from there.”

The other trooper nodded and leaned around him, firing down the other corridor as more Supers converged on them. “Whatever we do, we need to do it fast. We have less than fifteen minutes to get back to the ship before they’re in range to fire.” The Supers were holding them up too long.

Crispy nodded and traded spots, covering the trooper as he loaded his own rifle. “On three we fire and run.”

He didn’t need to see the other trooper’s face to know he was grinning. That they both were. Crispy touched something hanging from his belt and nodded.

“Three.” They shouted in perfect unison and fired.

They were both already moving before the charges hit their mark. Not bothering to look back.

***

The memory sparked the light of urgency in Crispy’s movements and he forced himself back on his stomach and started towards the edge of the platform. It wasn’t much. But he was moving. Crawling. It was something.

It was enough to get him up to the ventilation outlet. Something he would pull himself up by.

At least his feet were under him now.

Standing was better than crawling. And he was almost walking. Limping. But that was something.

Another memory hit him. It hit him so hard it nearly buckled his knees.

***

They ran for the pad and the waiting Starfighter. Their escape was within line of sight now. Laser fire grazed over their heads. A single Super had escaped the collapse and was staggering after them, arm raised and firing.

Crispy half turned to fire, as did the other trooper, but something was wrong. There was a sickly green haze in the air of the narrow corridor behind them. The other trooper yelled a warning and barrelled into Crispy, knocking him down.

A fraction of a second too late.

The bolt from Crispy’s blaster ignited the gas, the leaking flammables line ruptured in a chrysanthemum of flame that sent them both flying.

Everything was black and red and wrong.

And then silent.

***

The smell of burning was still in his nose, the helmet’s filters unable to keep it out.

Crispy staggered to the edge of the platform. The Kamino sea was as wild as ever, the great seabirds circled moanfully. He looked out at the sea, the storm. Trying desperately to re-order his jumbled memories.

His hand went to his belt, glove closing around the datachip hanging from its chain. It was an elegant little thing, as objects of Kaminoan design often were.

This. This was what they had come for. This was what they had infiltrated Kamino to retrieve. The datachip was one of two that held the base genetic coding for clone army.

There were rumours, threats of an engineered virus that could kill all the clones, all at once. That was why the Separatists were on Kamino. That’s why Fordo had sent them down. The data must never fall into Separatist’s hands. Or every brother in arms of the Clone Army was in danger.

One of two. Just as Crispy had been.

But where was the other? The other member of his squad.

Hugin. That was his name.

Hugin had thrown him down, protected him from the worst of the blast. If it hadn’t been for Hugin they would both be dead.

The revelation him like a bolt from the blue, bright and dazzling. Making him clutch his aching head.

But where was Hugin now?

He spun to scan the rubble strewn platform, searching for any sign of the red and white armour, the feathered patterned design that was uniquely Hugin’s. Nothing. Nothing but debris and fire.

Then another memory assaulted him.

They were on the clock. The Separatist gunship would be in range-

And then the world went white. Behind him, the clouds broke with light – too sharp, too bright. The blast shattering the air, so loud it filled the world. As it tore the world apart.

The ground under him tipped and rippled. Moments before the shockwave hit him like a fist, and threw him into the water.

***

“Captain, I’m not picking up any signal. There’s nothing left of the platform.” Gleeb shook his head, the scanners showing nothing but the sea and the static of the storm.

But Jat craned at the front viewport, peering between the raindrops that streaked down the duroglass. “I see something. Turn to point 05. There, on the debris.” Scorched white armour against the white capped waves.

“I see him.” Fordo confirms, hanging out the door as Wrathor and Ridley dropped down on jump lines, steading Fernie as they stabilised and scooped up the fallen trooper.

“How’s he look?” Fordo asked, his hand out to pull them in as their ascenders whirred.

“A little crispy,” Wrathor answered with a bitter rictus of a grin, “But he’ll do. And he’s got the chip.” The chain was still clenched tight in Crispy’s glove.

“We keep searching as long as we can.” Fordo nodded as Fernie carefully removed the Crispy’s helmet. “If Crispy survived, there’s hope for Hugin.”

As long as they could didn’t last as long as they’d hoped. The order came from command to regroup less than a standard hour later. With no sign of Hugin.

“We’re not abandoning him.” Fordo announced, halfway between assurance and an order. “Crispy needs to be in a medbay and this data needs to be with command. As soon as that’s done, we continue the search.”

But it was already too late and they knew it.

***

Before they reached command, the scavenger ships arrived, circling the battlefield like carrion eaters. One scruffy ship scooped up a field of floating wreckage, droid manipulators sorting through the saleable as the pilot arched away, avoiding a fight with the bigger ships.

The patch built droid found a pile of Plastoid among the debris - Clone armour. It’s limited reasoning assessed the armour as having resale value and set it aside. It seemed to be stuck to something. The droid give it a shake but the pieces didn’t detach so it set the pile aside to deal with later.

The man inside the armour moaned in pain and passed out.

***

Fordo lingered by Crispy’s bedside, the trooper’s skin covered in bacta patches to continue healing what the limited tank time couldn’t. “You’ve earnt your name now.”

Crispy tried to laugh but still healing throat turned it into a cough. “Hugin?” He croaked

Fordo looked down, profound sadness etching his features. “No sign. He’s officially been declared MIA.”

“He had the other chip.”

Fordo nodded. “What was on yours should be enough. We can only hope if Hugin still has the other; Or it’s been destroyed.” Because the alternatives were dangerous. “Hugin knew the chip was worth dying for. To protect our brothers across the galaxy.”

Crispy turned away, feeling the weight of guilt settle on his chest.

“Enough of that, Trooper.” Fordo ordered sharply. “Hugin did his job. We honour him for that.”

“Yes, sir.” Crispy answered, almost in reflex.

“We’re being reassigned Dathomir, General Kenobi has a mission for us.” Fordo put a hand on Crispy’s chest as he started to rise. “You’re staying here. I need you back in the field and in top form when we return.”

“Yes, sir.” Crispy muttered, somewhat less emphatically.

***

Out the medbay viewport, Crispy watched the LAAT launch for the planet below, hating to be left behind.

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February 2017

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