His audience with Vau completed, Fi hastened to his assigned "room 4", partly excited like a newly-cloned and partly incredulous that they were actually assigned to something so playful... by Walon Vau? This was the sort of thing Jusik would've put in his head to organize, and even then he certainly wouldn't have made it an order. If a serious mind like Vau was coming up with something so unusual he had to have some reason.
Disturbingly, Fi got the feeling of being a laboratory rodent. Exhibing no less rodent-like features was his Delta-buddy Sev waiting for him in front of the room indicated by the holochart. A plain unadorned black door, which, if Fi's memory of the barracks blueprints served him well, should either lead into a storeroom, or a sceptic tank. Either way promised to be memorable.
"Mister Sev," he waved with a grin, using the silly honorific clones would normally never use between each other. "What's a clone like you doing in a place like this, then?"
"One of these days, I'm gonna punch you," Sev said, sounding almost cheerful about it. "So, what do you think's in there? Knowing Vau, something unpleasant. Think you're up to the challenge, ner vod?" He waved a hand at the door and grinned.
Delta, like all the commandos, had been bred for excellence. But Delta, unlike most of their brothers, had been trained for competition. It made him giddy, being tested like this, but unlike some of his brothers, it never really made Sev nervous. It was what he lived for.
"Get punched by you, right. I'll make a note of it," Fi answered matter-of-factly, waving stylus strokes on an imaginary datapad. "Right after 'Receive marriage proposal from General Unduli'"
Now why did that particular sarcastic jape feel more sour to himself than it probably did for its intended recipient?
Sev's smile seemed genuilely excited, without any nervousness. As superficial as the man was in his attitude toward heroism, he was principled about it. His attitude was genuine, not a mask of phony bravado that would melt at the first sign of danger. Then again, no clone worth the name would act so cowardly. It just wasn't in their nature.
Putting his gaseous datapad away and tucking the pretend stylus behind his ear, Fi assessed the black door some more. "All I know is that whatever's in there isn't out here, so what do you say we get cracking?" he commented with an admiring smile, ignoring the other's little taunt.
"I don't know how your brothers stand you." Sev pressed the pad to open the door. "Ladies first, eh?" he said, elbowing Fi lightly in the back to push him into the pitch-black room. "Oh. This is fun. Find the light switch." He was silent for a second, then said, "Why do I feel like a rodent trying to find the cheese?"
It felt odd to be the one to grapple Sev back to seriousness. But as Fi tiptoed into the dark room, having his sight robbed from him instantly brought his soldier's instinct to bear.
"I'll treat you to all the cheese you want afterwards," he whispered as he fell into a fighting stance, noting that Sev had just made the same comparison that had crossed his own mind a minute ago. "What do you say we find ourselves a key first?"
Sev followed Fi into the darkness and grimaced. He'd never been blind before; at the very least he'd had his helmet, and that had night vision. Sev reached a nervous hand out- who knew what he'd find?- and touched the wall.
"Think we should figure out just how big this place is?" he asked, and without waiting for a response, began to follow the wall, tracking his footsteps while listening for their echo off the other walls, and holding his other hand out in front of him just in case there was anything to run into. "This is disorienting," he announced, then realized he didn't know exactly what his companion was doing- or where exactly he was.
Fi didn't let Sev's voice trail too far away before he caught up with it and felt for his back. "Don't worry, it's me," he hastened, eager to avoid a reflexive punch in the face by his teammate.
He flipped around and flattened his back against Sev's. "We'll probably want to stay like that the whole time. Two reasons. That way we always know where the other is, making us able to discern between him and an incoming attack, and also it keeps our backs safe.
"Plus, it's cozy," he added, trying to promise himself that would be the last joke he made while they were in here.
Sev turned slightly in Fi's direction. "Anything jumps out at me, it'll be dead before you can get to it," he said, trying not to feel insulted. Omega didn't seem to consciously make jibes about ineptitude, whereas Delta had grown all to used to- and defensive about- snide comments from Vau.
Back on Kamino, a comment like that would have been meant nastily. Sev liked that Fi was just offering helpful advice, even if the notion of "helpful advice" was as alien as the notion of "normal life" to him.
"Corner," Sev warned Fi as his hand reached another wall. "Big room, eh? What do you think it's for? I haven't run into anything on the walls."
Fi cocked a grin knowing it would safely escape notice in the dark. Sev was always so quick to get on the defensive, and the Omega man felt very much alone in the world now wondering what had brought on this particular bout of temper.
As they reached the first corner without a kink, Fi commented "We're certainly going to have to storm the center at some point. And you realize that what we're looking for is a small key, right? Once we've secured the room, I anticipate we'll be spending the next hours on our knees." Oh... such a fun prospect. Fi only wished their squad mates had somehow been given worse assignments.
Like trying to find their key in a bale of Weequay ineptitude. That would take them even longer.
Sev nodded, even though he knew Fi couldn't see him. "I just don't want to walk into a wall because I didn't figure out where they were," he said as he found another corner. He hesitated a second before adding, "Vau wouldn't let me live it down. Not after my shoulder. Besides, I'm an optimistic guy. I keep hoping I'll kick it because it's sitting on one of the edges."
But as he found the last corner, completing his mental map of the room, he was disappointed that the task hadn't been as easy as he'd hoped. "Okay. So now we start toward the middle."
"I recommend locking elbows and working toward the middle with one of us angled at it and the other at the wall, in case of traps," suggested Fi. That way only one of them would be dragged under, left in the capable hands of the other.
The question was, which one? Concern for Sev's shoulder negated him for the position of lifeline, but then again he didn't have to use that particular shoulder.
Besides which, it felt only fitting that Fi volunteer this time for the dangerous assignment, to make up for that daredevil taunt during Black Ops. Yes, this would be Fi's way to balance things out.
And there would be plenty of other opportunities in the future to talk Sev into crazy stunts, no worries.
"I'll take point," he declared.