Chapter 44, Part 1

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"Specialist Teel," Boba Fett said, "we're fortunate that not only are you tone deaf, but you're singing loudly for all of us to hear." What a jackass.

"Wha--? Oh, sorry," Teel stammered. "Didn't realize I'd left the comm channel open."

"Ah, I rather liked it," pouted Ayalla with amusement.

"Then he can sing you lullabyes on a private channel," Fett grumbled. "The rest of us aren't girlfriends, longing to be serenaded."

Comments like that would probably tick Teel and Ayalla off. Brem would have scolded for treating his squad mates like that. But for some reason, today Fett didn't care to live up to a dead man's ideals. Aurelia excluded, he hardly knew these soldiers and he wasn't here to make friends.

Was it because the sims indicated some were coming home in bodybags? Yv forbid, he might be coming home that way. No point getting attached to what that quirky assassin droid had aptly labelled "meatbags." It wasn't far from the truth. Down in this hell hole with the muties, they were more like lunch bags. He grinned. Or since they encased in armor, lunch boxes.

"Okay sir, the charges are set," said Teel.

"Good," said Fett, breaking from his thoughts. "Get down and let's move for the drill point."

He sloshed through water up to his waist, as Teel and Ayalla descended the adit where they'd placed explosives to confuse the autori when they assaulted SKYE.

Fett pulled out his geoscanner and analyzed the terrain ahead on their path. Mind your matter. It was one lesson Brem taught him that actually got through. A good soldier took account of his body, his fellows, his surroundings, his relationships with things. He understood his place, and how and when he could wisely act from it. It kept him alive and others dead.

Fett motioned to Teel and Ayalla, directing them forward. The laser-boring mining droid hovered after them. Fett glanced at the scanner results. Most of the readings pointed out innocuous, basic structural instabilities in the mine like a questionable pillar. But then he turned a bend. That could be dangerous.

"Teel, stop right there," Fett warned his pointman. "Not another step."

Teel stopped, but swiftly scanned the area with his blaster rifle. "Where is it, sir? I--I don't see anything. Do you have a clear shot?"

"Hold on to your britches, Specialist. No mutie. You're about to step into a giant pothole. You may have twinkle toes, but I don't need you slipping in and twisting Yv knows what, so hug the wall to your left and you should be fine."

"Thanks?" Teel said and complied.

The squad slipped alongside the rugged wall and avoided the hole, the laser borer hovering harmlessly over the top of the water. It was only a hundred or so meters before he could get beta team out of this submerged region.

"Sergeant Fett," Commander Kenobi private messaged him. "Beta team's still behind. We've only got one more drill point to go. Do your best to keep things moving."

"Will do," he responded, and smiled. Do your best: a cute way of telling him he sucked and needed to kick things up a notch.

He thought of his father, a former fishing guide, who used phrases like that to make customers feel better about their lack of skill. They'd jumble up the line on their reels, catch nothing but snags and seaweed but his dad told them they were almost there -- they just needed to focus on their wrist movement a little; cast above their eye levels, make it one smooth motion.

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