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What Could Be Any Worse

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ACT I 

The red clay of the planet's surface hung heavy in the air. Captain Rex of the 501st could feel the gritty substance working its way underneath the protection of his armor

Removing his helmet in an attempt at getting a breath of fresh air on the stifling planet, running gloved hand over his buzzed hair calling on every last drop of strength he has as he observes the battlefield that has endured the last 72 hours of battle when an echo of his own voice calls to him "Rex any word on the dropships?"

Turning to the voice of Commander Cody, Rex shakes his head in frustration 

"The word is they got caught in a sand firestorm on the eastside."

"Ugh typical just when I thought this battle couldn't get any better..." grunts Cody

Rex snorts a laugh, "Well, after all this, what could be any worse?"

Cody shoots his subordinate a dark look, "you Rex? A rookie comment is asking for MORE trouble. I'm surprised."

Both shake their heads and walk towards what's left of the command post, assessing what's left of the troops and supplies as they go, "Why couldn't any of the Jedi make it?" Cody asks aloud but more to himself. Rex knowing this says nothing

An alert comes from the commlink, and a holograph of Commander Siris pops up, "Commander Cody, sir." Siris addresses Cody and snaps a salute "Report?"

"Nothing yet, sir, most of the troops have already been evacuated, and we have a sandstorm to deal with now."

"Siris, I want you to get on the first flight you can see once all your troops are evacuated."

Siris is taken aback, "but Commander, we haven't found a way around the storm to pick you and Captain Rex up."

Cody unconsciously runs a hand over the scar on the side of his face "Don't you worry about us we'll wait out the storm if we have to and if it makes you feel any better, Rex already said it couldn't get any worse" Cody's ribs with a side glance at Rex who smugly looks away from both his Commander's accusatory looks.

"I'll inform Command of your decision. Siris out." The hologram blips into nothingness.

"We do have enough supplies to wait it out a week if necessary, Commander… I just..." Rex states

Cody raises his eyebrows to his captain. "Rex, you were just reliving your past days challenging the force to throw something at you, and now you're regretting it?"

"I just got a bad feeling is all..."

Soberly Cody replies, "So did I," both clone leaders lookout to the barren desert waste before them.

As the night sun starts to rise to replace the day sun keeping the temperatures at a constant broil

Rex still helmet-less runs an uncool hand over his sweat coated forehead. It's been several hours since the dull throb began, and it's now starting to morph into a steady pulsating pain.

Something taps his shoulder plate, looking to find his Commander offering him a bottle. "Doing alright?" "Yeah, thanks," taking the offered water and downing it, uncharacteristically avoiding Cody's concerned look. "Any word yet?" "No Siris called in again. They've left for the command ship," running his own hand through his jet black hair still speckled with sand from the battle. Cody sighs, "Hopefully, not a week, wait, eh?"

"Mmmm" rex grunts

Turning to view the changing suns Cody speaks his thoughts aloud "Well I guess we'll just have to..." the sound of Rex getting violently sick across the makeshift floor turning on his heel Cody finds his captain on all fours shaking and struggling not to collapse into the sickness he just coughed up

Rushing over, Cody pulls his captain away from the mess as Rex's body collapses into his arms in a shivering mess, eyes fluttering. Cody places two fingers on his neck, checking his pulse, finding it fast and weak.

"Aw, rex, what did you get into?" Cody lays Rex's fully on the artificial floor and rushes to leftover boxes put aside rifling through them. Cody finds what he's looking for and gets back to his fallen comrade.

 Gathering his captain in his arms, he lifts him to a makeshift bed and lays him down. Once settled, Rex with eyes still shut moans and shifts restlessly while Cody, using the device he retrieved from the box, scans Rex's forehead. The piece of technology lets out a short trill and projects a holo-number for Cody. 104 degrees "Shab!" curses the superior clone as the reality of their situation hits him. 

Being in an abandoned makeshift base with a very sick clone is definitely some of the worst that can happen.

 Cody tries not to think of how this problem could degrade further as captain Rex shivers as if freezing where he lay.

 

ACT II

Cody has sorted all the supplies left in the jerry-rigged structure, several hydration packets, rations, and a few applications of bacta leftover from a med bag.

"Not so bad could be worse," he grumbles to himself even though he is fully aware that even healthy their supplies would have only made it a week now with Rex sick and consuming more water than even usual for a clone they'll be lucky to make it last three days.

The sound of metal clattering interrupts his thoughts.

 Turning to see the source, the feverish Rex has fallen off his resting place and spilled the mug of water running to his fallen friend instantly Cody turns Rex over to check for new injuries to add finding none. Cody lets out a sigh speaking to his unresponsive subordinate.

 "I think you'll be safer here, eh?" Gathering the bedding material, Cody whips up a roll-out bed and shifts Rex to it. The motion stirs him, eyes fluttering open, and looking around blearily, he calls out: "Commander wh… where are…?" his fever addled brain prevents him from completing a coherent thought.

 Cody picks up the hydrated clothes from earlier and mops his captain's brow, hushing him. "It's alright Rex you're just not feeling well is all" The contact of the cool cloth on his forehead agitates Rex to a new degree. He grunts and tries to rise and roll away from his Commander's care. "NO, leave me alone!" the yell makes Cody jump away in shock as the delirious soldier starts to resist him.

 

Cody seizes Rex's wrists and holds them down to his chest. "Rex, it's just me," he pleads with the feverish clone. Reason breaking through the fog of confusion followed by a weak "Sir?" Releasing the other man's arms, he sighs, "yeah." Still, out of it, Rex attempts to look around "W… where is everyone?" Cody reapplies the cool cloth with success.

 "They all evaced, remember? We told them to go ahead without us." Closing his eyes, Rex stills. Cody's not sure if he succumbed to the fever again. "Yeah, I remember," he weakly replies as a shiver runs through his body. "I, I think I'm gonna be sick" Cody snags a nearby bucket and manages to get it to Rex's before he contaminates the floor again.

The sandstorm whips the outside of the command post forcing sand throughout the shelter even as protected as it was while Rex lays on the bed convulsing slightly once he finishes getting sick Cody disposes the bucket outside the dwelling and returns "Rex?" he calls softly not wanting to startle the shivering figure before him. 

A grunt is the only response he gets "Rex, how about some water?"  

Kneeling by the cot offering the cup Cody tries to tilt the cup to his captain's lips rex turns away "No, I can't" Cody ceases his offering frustrated he puts it down "you have to get hydrated!" you won't make it if you don't drink" Rex whimpers "My stomach…" Rex is interrupted by a short wet cough. Going back to the supply crates, Cody produces an intravenous needle and preps Captain Rex's arm.

Wiping the crook of the elbow clean and wrapping a bit of elastic cord around his bicep Cody inserts the IV needle causing Rex to cry out and try to pull away as if a child getting hurt for the first time.  Cody hates these methods; they are archaic, but it's as good as they have at the moment.

Cody, with everything to gain and nothing to lose, goes to the sand-covered table where he had left the commlink and opens the frequency to Captain Siris, "Captain Siris this is Commander Cody respond."

The commlink blips to life but refuses to connect with another staring at the blank communicator deep raspy cough echoes in the back of the command post.

Cody feels tears start in his eyes even with all the battles and things he's seen in the war this; this cut through him his soldier, his captain, his friend downed not from droid laser fire or gunship blast but by sickness on a planet nearly too hot for most creatures existence the thoughts and feeling weighed on him heavily.

Checking the commlink and again receiving no signal, Cody returns to the pair's improvised shelter and to his friend's side as the sound of the sandstorm reminds Cody of the mechanic's tools grinding into the ship's siding, and he hopes the wall will hold true till they figure this problem out.

 

 ACT III 

The violent sound of someone choking woke Commander Cody from his sleep. He couldn't be sure what time his eyes closed on their own, but it's been long enough that the power cell light in the dwelling was dimmed to emergency level, and Rex lay on the bed gasping for breath.

Cody once again rushes to his comrade and checks his vitals, pulse extremely rapid, lungs struggling to pull air into his lungs, and what little makes it sounds like a harsh rasp.

 Cody runs to the leftover supplies and digs through finding the basic med kit given to freshly deployed troops in the pack Cody locates what he want Adren-Venom not bothering to read the label Cody has used it too many times before with years of experience of troops slipping into states of shock from plants and insect bites and Rex's breathing stops altogether.

Cody hears this all too clearly and scrambles up in a chaotic manner unfit for an officer, makes one or two steps and knee slides to the cot, and his deathly still friend and stabs the medical tube into Captain Rex's upper leg.

 Leaving the tube longer than was required but wanting to make sure all the medicine was used. Cody waits for the needle still buried in Rex's leg, regaining some composure Cody removes it and checks the captain's pulse, nothing. 

Cody can see that Rex's lips are tinged blue "No, no, no Rex, you cannot  do this." Cody places an ear to Rex's chest, nothing.

Cody pleadingly taps the captain's cheek. "Rex, answer me now!" Cody's Command is answered by a harsh choked cough then a breath still raspy but a breath nonetheless and Rex's eye's flutter slowly open and latch on to Cody Rex's lips move. Still, no sound comes out by Cody recognizes the request and grabs the discarded cup of water on the table.

Easing Rex into a semi-sitting position, Cody helps the weak clone drink.

Once done, Cody checks his comrade's temp with his hand. "Hmmm still warm but better warm then cold, eh," Cody teases nudging the captain shoulder rex eyes closed smiles. "Odd sir, I still feel more the latter."

  Cody grabs a spare bottle of hydration and pours it into a bowl and gathers a rag then settles down beside the still very sick captain. Squizing, the rag of excess water Cody mops Rex's brow, unsure if he feels better about Rex not fighting him or if he is simply too sick, which concerns Cody greatly.

 The sandstorm still noisily tumbles the outside still, Cody is left with only the sound of sandblasting pelting the outside walls, and the abnormal shallow breaths of captain rex.

The artificial environment of the command post prevent all inside from seeing what was outside its walls Cody went to the doors pausing to brush sand that had leaked through the cracks in the framework during the storm pressing against the doors Cody struggles to open them but succeeds as more sand pours in but so does the sunlight bathing in the light Cody almost forgets about the situation that he and Rex are in.

Stuck in a command post during the brunt of a sand firestorm and Rex down with heat sickness, a distressed groan brings the reality clearly back into focus as Cody once again marches to his comrade's side who is writhing weakly on the put together bed at the back of the post.

 Rex's fever is clearly peaking as a fresh wave of sweat rolls off him soaking the sheets beneath him and his writhing increases significantly Cody does his best to keep his friend from falling and hurting himself with one hand and dab the sweat from his face with the other but as Rex's thrashing grows Cody groups the rag and can only try his best to comfort his subordinate.

 "Come on ol boy you can get through this" Cody whisperers to Rex who just as his writhing was getting violent stills suddenly leaving for split-second Cody fears the worse his personal concerns for his friend overriding his soldier instinct then Rex's eye slowly flicker open ever so slightly and unfocused and relief floods Cody checking the captain's forehead with his hand "you did it rex!" Cody gleefully cries, "Your fevers broken!"

 Rex's head lolls gently in their Commander's direction, "S…, sir, are you crying?" Rex questions weakly. Cody had not even realized he had been "Nah," he says offhandedly, "just got some sand in my eye is all" Rex snorts but says nothing else as his eyes start to shut on their own.

 Cody wants to let the captain rest as he needs, but the familiar rumble of an engine reaches them Cody races to the still partially open the door to see the source of the sound, gunships flying in a search and rescue pattern grabbing the commlink Cody calls in "This is commander Cody do you copy?" deafening silence. "This is Commander Cody please copy!"

Rex aware enough now to understand whats going on cranes his neck in the direction of the rumbling both clones listen to rescue so close yet unreachable and their hope fades as the rumble engines start to distance themselves from the pair, defeat forming over the two as their hope diminishes.

Cody sits himself down next to captains Rex's bed whose eyes are closed once again running his hands through his thick black hair the weight of the last few days showing on Cody's strong features and his head starting to severely ache, and he realizes he has not drunk anything since Rex came down with heat sickness his sinking despair is interrupted by his subordinate's slurred speech "Sssokay commander they'll find us."

Cody looks to his friends similarly tired face If Siris can't find us, he'll get the Jedi to help Rex continues weakly Cody gently smiles at Rex and reaches for the cup holding the last bit of water they have and eases the captain into a semi-sitting position and hold the cup to his lips allow him to drink then eases him down.

"You're like a brother to me, Rex" Cody sincerely states, Rex looks up at him "All clones are brothers, sir."

"Yeah, but some are more so than others."

An electronic warble emits from the command post table weakly, but loud enough to wake Rex from his first sleep without a fever looking to Cody who is seated in the chair still chin resting on his chest Rex listens again sure he heard something after a few tense seconds the warble returns this time followed by words "Commander Cody, come in please."

"Captain Rex please responds" moving faster than he thought he could have Rex bolts from the bed and stumbles into the table catching himself before falling but waking Cody in the process who jumps to his feet in lightning speed soldier instinct style when seeing the bed empty turning to the table and sound of the warbling seeing his captain holding himself up while clutching the commlink.

He runs to him, bracing Rex with one arm and taking the commlink from Rex as he starts to sway dangerously, "Commander Cody, please…" Cody doesn't wait for the transmission to finish "this is Commander Cody!" he says to the comm louder than was really necessary.

"Sir keep the open transmission commander were tracking you now" Siris informs him exhilaration flooding even his battle-hardened system "Copy that," he replies, looking to his captain still braced by one arm. Rex smiles back and sways weakly, even with the support from Cody, who catches him in both arms.

Clutching his newly collapsed friend, Cody swiftly picks up his comrade in both his arms and carries him once again to the improvised cot and lays him gently down.

Rex opens his eyes, looking up at the equally tired commander, "Sir…I… I wanted to thank you..." Rex doesn't get a chance to finish his sentence as exhaustion takes over his eyes shut on their own accord.

"You woulda done the same for me." Cody tells his sleeping friend as he looks towards the rumble of a gunship landing outside the command post, Cody repeats "you woulda done the same for me." and he gently pats the sleeping Rex on the shoulder.