“You know what this means, right?” Obi-Wan clarified.
The look on Cody’s face said he knew exactly what it meant, and he was far from happy with it. “Are we sure it’s necessary?”
Obi-Wan nodded, trying to keep a smile from his face, amused despite himself. “Unfortunately, yes. This might be a heist a little on the big side, even for us.”
Quinlan groaned. “No. No, no, no. Not Hondo. Anyone but Hondo.”
“Now, that’s hardly fair,” Obi-Wan protested. “He’s gotten better…”
“Worse,” both Quinlan and Cody corrected him simultaneously. The two didn’t agree on much, but they did agree on this. “He’s gotten worse.”
That was a matter of opinion, Obi-Wan thought. Hondo had certainly grown more theatrical—a feat that Obi-Wan had originally thought impossible—and was just as profit-hungry as ever. Yet, despite the massive profit a betrayal of Obi-Wan would have given Hondo, Hondo had yet to turn him over to the Empire.
Well, at least not in earnest.
There had been that one time, when Obi-Wan had still been a part of Hondo’s crew and they’d come up with what had either been the most brilliant or the most idiotic plan ever. Twelve years later and he still wasn’t sure, even though it had worked. With a lot of improvisation, yes. But it had worked.
“Well, do either of you have a better idea?”
“The rebellion is an option,” Cody pointed out seriously, and maybe a little desperately.
“In theory.” Quinlan was frowning as he said it, clearly thinking it through. “If we wanted to get someone like Fulcrum, then maybe. But I don’t know where she is right now.”
“Not readily available.” Last Obi-Wan had spoken to Ahsoka she was off helping Sabine.
Quinlan nodded at that. “And if we wanted a significant number of rebels… well, we’d have to go through the Rebel Council.” The way he said Rebel Council was similar to how he used to say Jedi Council, a strange mix of respect and tired exasperation.
“Right.” Cody sighed. “Meaning we won’t get a timely answer and then it’ll probably be no.”
“Probably,” Obi-Wan agreed. “And we don’t exactly have time if we want to get going before the Empire causes more damage with their new weapon.”
Quinlan gave in first. “Fine. Ask him for help.”
“But remind him he’s not in charge,” Cody added. Obi-Wan knew that getting Cody to like Hondo was probably a lost cause, but he still hoped. Cody might put up with the Pirate Captain, but that was the extent of it.
Obi-Wan reached for his comm, dialing in the familiar code.
It took only a moment and then Hondo was answering, an exaggerated scowl on his face. “My betrayer!”
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, not bothering to respond to the all too familiar accusation. “How do you feel about stealing something big?”
Hondo looked like he was debating with himself as to whether he wanted to continue being churlish and accusing or whether he wanted to steal things. Thankfully, in this, Hondo was very predictable. “You have drunken too much, my friend, if you have to ask.”
“My rebel informants—”
The look Hondo gave him was one of pure disappointment. “The Great and Honorable Hondo Ohnaka is not a charity!”
Obi-Wan smirked. “Well, then, if you’re sure you’re not interested… It’s only a battle station the size of a moon.”
It was very rare for Hondo to be struck speechless, but Obi-Wan reveled in the experience whenever it happened. “Say no more. Hondo Ohnaka has always wanted to own a moon.”
“Technically it’s a battle—”
Hondo looked a little feral in his delight. “All I am hearing you say is that we are going to steal a moon that I can fly.”
“It also destroys planets,” Obi-Wan pointed out a little dryly.
“Ah!” Hondo rubbed his hands together. “Delightful.”
“We’re disabling that feature,” Cody called out. “We’re not letting you anywhere near that part.”
Hondo pouted at Obi-Wan. “After everything I’ve done for Cody, and still he doubts me.”
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes.
They were definitely disabling that feature though.
Obi-Wan was exhausted. He'd been running for so long now. Always barely a single step ahead of everyone chasing him. Anakin, bounty hunters, the Empire.
Maybe that exhaustion was why he'd made such a massive misstep.
"Gentlemen." Obi-Wan gave the pirates blocking his way through the alley a pleasant smile, he tightened his grip around his blaster. His lightsaber was a heavy weight against his back where it was hidden, but Obi-Wan was hesitant to pull the weapon. Waving a lightsaber around was the best way to get every bounty hunter and imperial agent within the next three systems on his trail.
Still, it might be the only way he would get out of the mess he'd landed himself in.
A loud, cheerful, familiar, but very annoying voice cut through the air. "Kenobi! My friend!"
Obi-Wan's breath caught in his chest as he slowly turned to see Hondo Ohnaka swaggering forward. "Hondo." He wasn't sure if this made his situation worse or better. "What an unexpected surprise."
"A surprise, yes! A wonderful surprise. Come, come. This calls for drinks!"
Obi-Wan could feel a headache building at his temples. He really didn’t want to ‘have a drink’ with Hondo; he eyed the pirates surrounding him and decided that it didn’t so much matter what he wanted, he didn’t have a choice. "I'm afraid I'm quite out of the credits necessary for a drink."
Hondo smiled brightly. "Then it is a good thing that I have plenty of alcohol to share."
Obi-Wan sighed, but slid his blaster into its holster. "Who am I to refuse a drink?"
If he was lucky then the drink would give him enough time to figure out a way out of this particular mess he was caught up in.
Hondo led him to his ship just beyond the outskirts of the small town where Obi-Wan had been gathering supplies, Hondo's crew had set up a small camp of sorts outside of the ship, and Hondo settled down under a little tent. Obi-Wan took a moment to eye the encampment, evaluating the positions the pirates settled in, and his location in the camp. Not optimal. He was still surrounded. But at least they were in the camp and not on the ship. Escape, if—or knowing himself, when—it became necessary would be easier from the camp than from the inside of the ship.
Obi-Wan sighed as Hondo gestured him to take a seat, but he carefully settled onto a crate of supplies and took the bottle of alcohol that Hondo handed him.
He sniffed the drink, and made a face. It smelled much like the drink that Hondo had given him and Anakin—he closed his eyes, even a year out, the grief was still capable of stealing his breath—that first time on Florrum.
"Trying to get me drunk?" he asked a little wryly.
Hondo placed a hand on his chest, eyes going wide with exaggerated offense behind his goggles. "I would never."
"Of course you would." Obi-Wan said, he reached out with the Force, but felt no immediate danger. Probably not drugged then. He took a sip of the drink, grimacing a little at the taste. Worse than the moonshine his men had liked to pretend they didn't have hidden in the ship. "It'd make it much easier to collect the bounty on my head if I were unconscious."
"I am offended. I am an honorable pirate. I would never do such a thing." Obi-Wan gave Hondo a long look. Obi-Wan had in no way forgotten the first time he'd met Hondo. The pirate only smiled. "You are too suspicious, my friend."
"Just suspicious enough, I think." He smiled a little. "I'm still alive, after all."
Hondo laughed, sounding delighted. "Indeed. And a toast to a long life ahead of you."
Obi-Wan sighed, leaning forward to tap his bottle against Hondo's and took a heartier swallow. The alcohol burned on its way down. The taste was still just as terrible as the first time, but it was also the first bit of alcohol Obi-Wan had had in... well, he probably hadn't had a sip to drink since that last time with the 212th.
He pushed the memories away with practiced skill.
That life was dead and gone, and Obi-Wan would be better leaving it far behind him.
"So, what do I have to do to convince you not to try and cash in on my bounty." He smiled, and if it was more teeth than sentiment, well, there wasn't much left to smile about. "Getting turned over to the Empire would put quite the crimp in that long life you just wished me."
Hondo leaned forward, smiling. "I have a proposition for you, my friend."
Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. It was almost, almost, comforting how the whole galaxy could implode and Hondo would still be scamming his way through the remnants that were left behind. "I'm listening." Not that he really had much of choice to do otherwise. The rest of Hondo's crew was still watching him carefully.
The Force still wasn't warning him of danger.
"The Empire has stolen everything from you." Hondo leaned forward. "How would you like to return the favor?"
Hondo gave the planning table a disgruntled look before he sat with a huff. Porlo, his second in command, followed his lead.
They were pirates. Hondo had tried to teach Obi-Wan they did not need a planning table, especially not when said planning table was an alcohol-free zone. Hondo did all his best thinking when the alcohol was running.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was a strangely excellent pirate, clearly due to Hondo’s own excellent tutelage. Even if he did have a few regrettable holdovers from his time as a General and a Jedi such as ‘no alcohol during planning sessions.’
A few seconds later, Obi-Wan and his own second sat across from them. Hondo gave them his best smile, throwing in a wink for good measure when Obi-Wan’s second—the formidable and unwilling-to-be-charmed Commander Cody—scowled at him. Obi-Wan’s strange scoundrel Jedi friend was probably skulking around somewhere in the background and was probably also scowling at Hondo. It was so terribly unfair that none of Obi-Wan’s crew seemed to like him. “I was thinking, we should call my soon-to-be-moon ‘Hondo’s Terror.’ A very appropriate name, wouldn’t you think? Much better than whatever they’re calling it.”
Cody’s jaw clenched in what Hondo knew to be annoyance. None of Obi-Wan’s crew liked Hondo, but for reasons Hondo did not care to know, Cody liked him the least. Very sad, that. Hondo was such a likable person too.
Obi-Wan returned the smile with one of his own, and Hondo couldn’t help but be disappointed that Obi-Wan had turned down all three of his drunken marriage proposals. They’d have made a fantastic pirate couple, with both of their dashing smiles and their terrifying reputations in one pirate relationship. The legacy they’d create together would last millennia. “Three things: first, it’s not going to be yours, it’ll be ours; second, no, we’re absolutely not calling it that; and third, they’re calling it the Death Star.”
Hondo made a face and he hoped it was appropriately distraught. “Well, we’re not keeping that name. It has no style.” Cody and Porlo both snorted. “And, you were the one to ask for my and my crew’s help. I should get at least 3/4’s possession of the moon.”
“You can claim half possession,” Obi-Wan told him, and Hondo mourned that since leaving his crew, Obi-Wan had started growing sensible again. “But only if you help. Otherwise me and my crew will do it ourselves.”
The worst part was that Obi-Wan’s crew, which consisted mostly of former soldiers—soldiers that Hondo had helped Obi-Wan steal from the Empire, not that any of them seemed to be appropriately grateful for that fact—probably could handle it themselves. Obi-Wan was only asking for Hondo’s help to be on the safe side. Or maybe Obi-Wan had missed him. Yes, Hondo decided, Obi-Wan had undoubtedly missed Hondo’s charming presence. “Or, you can re-join my crew,” Hondo gave Obi-Wan his best pout. “And then it is all my moon.”
Obi-Wan laughed a little. “If I didn’t think re-joining your crew would result in Cody murdering you, I’d consider it.”
Hondo glanced at Obi-Wan’s second who gave him a feral grin. Hondo had known Jango Fett before the clone army had ever existed. Somehow, Cody had far outstripped Jango in terms of terrifying. Not that Hondo would ever admit as much out loud. “Fine.” He gave an offended sniff. “Abandon me, stay with your own crew.”
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, but Hondo knew it was only out of fondness. “My reports say that the Death Star took out Jedha City with a single beam, and that was on it’s lowest setting. They also said that there may be a flaw within the design to help them destroy it and that they’re trying to decide whether to go after the plans. Now, they haven’t decided yet if they will, but if they do, the rebels will end up on Scariff, I suspect that the Death Star will do whatever it takes to ensure that those plans don’t fall into the rebels’ hands.”
Hondo saw immediately where this was going. “And the Empire may send the Death Star—” he grimaced at the ridiculous name, Hondo’s Terror really would be much better, or maybe Ohnaka’s Might? He’d decide later, “—to wipe out any trace!”
Obi-Wan nodded. “Which is why we will intercept the death star on their way to Scariff and… ah, liberate the battle station from it’s current owners.”
Hondo smiled. He quite liked the sound of that.
Hondo’s Death-bringer? It had a nice ring to it, but perhaps it was a bit too on point.
Finding the Death Star was relatively easy, they knew where it had been, they knew where it was going, and an object that large had fewer routes it could safely take, and since it was a brand new weapon, it’s pilots were more likely to play it safe.
Which was how Obi-Wan and his crew were prepared when the Death Star fell out of hyperspace at a mid-point.
“We have our emergency codes going?”
Temper nodded. “For the past fifteen minutes.”
“Wait another thirty seconds and then send out a hail.” Obi-Wan sighed, double checking his own outfit. The Imperial uniform was uncomfortable and stiff, nothing like the more scoundrel-appropriate clothing he’d grown to prefer.
Sometimes he still missed his robes and tunics, but he had to admit that Hondo had been right when he said that Obi-Wan looked ‘dashing’ in a leather duster.
He discarded the thoughts as nonsense.
“They’ve sent back an answering hail.”
Obi-Wan nodded, moving into position. “Helmets on, men.”
As one, the entire room let out a displeased grumble even as they all donned the less-than-stellar stormtrooper helmets. Obi-Wan knew that his men thought that stormtrooper armor was pathetic and didn’t deserve to be called armor, but they used it nonetheless.
Obi-Wan answered the hail, settling a slightly rattled expression on his face. “This is Admiral Neboki hailing any Empire forces, my ship was on the way to Scariff when we were attacked by rebels. We lost the rebels but they took out our hyperspace capabilities. We have vital information for the Emperor and require a pick up.”
He heard Cody sigh from his position to Obi-Wan’s right, and Obi-Wan had to stifle a grin. Cody thought that Hondo Ohnaka had been a terrible influence on Obi-Wan, which was undoubtedly true, but Obi-Wan would probably have found it funny to use an anagram of his real name as his Imperial name even before Hondo.
The transmission was fuzzy as a lower-leveled officer ran him through the standard questions, checking his codes and asking about the rebel forces that had stranded them. Obi-Wan answered easily, keeping his tone just a little snotty and bored.
His alibi was air-tight… up until the moment someone who knew Obi-Wan Kenobi—either as the former Jedi or the pirate—took a good look at him.
Of course, for the most part by the time they got a good look at him, Obi-Wan had almost always already gotten what he wanted.
His days of doing ‘subtle’ were far behind him.
That he blamed fully on Hondo.
The officer finally got through the last question and informed him to keep his shuttle—he and Quinlan had picked it up two years ago during a raid on an Imperial Station—stationary and they’d pull him in via tractor beam.
Obi-Wan cut the transmission and gave Cody his best smile. “I told you, easy as that.”
Cody just sighed, giving Obi-Wan an exasperated look. “We still have to take out a moon-sized battle station full of Stormtroopers.”
Obi-Wan shrugged, Quinlan had their normal ship with more of the crew and they had Hondo and his crew coming in to help as well, they’d be fine. “Details.”
Cody’s lip twitched a little in an almost smile. “Right, details.” He shook his head. “Rex is going to be so disappointed he missed this.”
Obi-Wan grinned. “Ah, yes. I'll let you be the one to explain that.”
“‘Get caught in the tractor beam,’ he said. ‘Let yourself be pulled in,’ he said.” Hondo crossed his arms. “Kenobi is either brilliant or mad.”
Garam was ignoring him, far too used to him bemoaning about Obi-Wan’s complete disregard for Hondo’s sensibilities. Something about them not existing and Hondo being dramatic. The sass! And from his own crew!
“What do you think about the name ‘Ohnaka’s Terror’? Much better than ‘the death star.’”
Garam snorted a little. “I don’t know death star’s easier to say.”
Hondo let out an offended gasp. “Ease over style, how could you?”
Garam smirked. “Too much time with Captain Kenobi, clearly.”
And oh, how Obi-Wan had everyone fooled, even Hondo’s own crew! Obi-Wan Kenobi was just as dramatic as Hondo himself, though of course Hondo clearly wore the drama better.
Garam pulled back from the controls. “We’re caught in the tractor beam.”
Hondo nodded. “Good, good. Yes.” He stared at the almost overwhelmingly huge battle station pulling them in. A lesser pirate might be quaking in fear, but all Hondo could feel was exhilaration.
The Great and Honorable Hondo Ohnaka and his Moon of Power. Yes, yes. That was a good one.
“Have the men ready themselves,” Hondo instructed. “Obi-Wan and his crew are already on board and should be prepared to send us a signal.
The Empire had their two crews far outnumbered. But half of Obi-Wan’s crew were undercover as stormtroopers and they would all have the advantage of surprise. After all, only the insane would try and steal the death star. And only the most incredibly competent could pull it off. Fortunate that they were both.
And of course, there was the fact that Imperial Troopers were absolutely no match for either Hondo’s crew or Obi-Wan’s, and definitely weren’t ready for the two crews together.
He waited for the ship to be pulled in, before lowering the ship ramp and striding down. He gave the landing bay a disgusted look. “Excuse me!” He called for attention. “You are all being taken hostage by the Great and Honorable Hondo Ohnaka.”
The stormtroopers that had surrounded the ship hesitated, and Hondo could tell they were looking for direction. One of the officers stepped forward, looking disdainful. “You’re… what?”
“Taking over this marvelous station.” Hondo sighed. “Are you hard of hearing? Perhaps you should get that checked out. I was told that the Empire has excellent health insurance.”
“What, you’re going to take over the death star, all by yourself?” It was impossible to miss the poor, deluded officer’s skepticism.
Hondo put a hand over his heart. “I could, of course. But, no. Not this time.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi proved that he had the best timing in the galaxy as his voice spread through the entire battle station. “Attention. This is Captain Obi-Wan Kenobi, of the Ghost Crew. We have taken Grand Moff Tarkin hostage, as well as all other Imperial Officers on the bridge. You would be wise to surrender.”
The Imperial officer that had been dismissing him a moment earlier, froze. “Men, take him!”
Hondo raised his blaster, and watched as in the middle of two imperial squads, two of the stormtroopers suddenly took out half of the surrounding storm troopers, before removing their helmets to show near identical faces. He had no doubt that across the death star, similar events had just played out. “Ah, Obi-Wan’s men! So good to see you!” He gave a whistle and his own men came down the landing ramp. “And now, we’ll show you how real pirates do it!”
The kyber was crying.
It knew, knew what it had already been used for. Knew what it had been forced to do to the people of Jedha. Knew it was powerless to stop itself from being used to do the same thing all over again.
So the kyber cried.
The death star had almost been completely overrun by his and Hondo’s crews and so Obi-Wan did not feel guilty temporarily excusing himself so that he could find the closest place within the battle station to the kyber core.
He reached out gently with the Force, felt the kyber withdraw from him in shame, grief and sorrow echoing through the Force.
Death, senseless death. We are death bringers.
Obi-Wan soothed it carefully. Innocent, you are innocent. You were used.
The Empire specialized in this sort of cruelty. In taking the good and twisting it, in taking the innocent and using them against their will.
I will not let them use you again. I swear it. He infused his soul into the promise.
Never again. The Death Star would never be used against the people of this galaxy again.
Hondo sauntered onto the bridge. “I have captured the battle station. You may thank me now.”
Obi-Wan didn’t even glance up, by his side Cody sent Hondo a scathing glare.
“Congratulations, Hondo. I’ll be sure to spread that news to my men. I’ll be sure they’ll be very interested to know who exactly is claiming the credit.”
Hondo paused, recalling watching two of Obi-Wan’s men charge straight into a full crew of stormtroopers and come out the other side while the stormtroopers had all ended up handcuffed wrists to ankles.
He had also caught sight of Quinlan Vos practically waltzing through the stormtroopers, his lightsaber flashing in one hand and a blaster in the other, a feral smile on his face.
And the less he thought about the chaos that followed Obi-Wan and Cody the better.
Best to perhaps give them a little bit of credit. “I suppose your men were not useless.”
Cody growled. Ah yes, there had been a reason Obi-Wan had eventually left Hondo’s crew to form his own. Cody had been stolen from the Empire and had never completely regained his sanity. The man appreciated sass and sarcasm from two groups of people. His brothers formed one group. Obi-Wan formed the other.
Hondo, unfortunately, did not fall in either group. A shame, his sass and sarcasm were quite on point.
Hondo coughed a little, and let his smile grow charming. “Ah, that is to say they were very helpful. Perhaps a little credit ought to go to them.”
“Well, that’s the first bit of the battle. The next bit might be even harder.” Obi-Wan finally looked up. “Vader’s Executor just sent in a message informing us that they’ll be docking with us.”
Ah, that at least explained Obi-Wan’s Second’s terrible attitude. Cody always got a bit tetchy when Obi-Wan had anything to do with Vader.
Perhaps Hondo could earn a bit of good will.
“Well, you only needed to ask.” He gave Obi-Wan his most charming smile. “I’ve got just the thing for Vader. An ingenious plan of my own invention.”
Obi-Wan was watching him with amused eyes. “The catch?”
Hondo smiled. “I just need you to be your nice and distracting self. You know Vader can never concentrate on anything else when you’re present.”
Obi-Wan tilted his head. “I can do that. You’ve don’t got much time to prepare, Hondo. This better work.”
How rude. It was his plan! Of course it would work!
Obi-Wan hadn’t known what to expect when Hondo had told him to stand there and look ‘nice and distracting’.
It wasn’t the first time Hondo had used him to play bait. Wasn’t even the first time he’d played bait for Vader.
It sometimes felt like that was how Obi-Wan had spent the majority of the past two decades. Always catching Vader’s attention so that other’s could work in the background.
He had a specific comm unit set aside specifically for rebels who thought Vader was closing in on them to call. At which point Obi-Wan would once again do something ridiculous to draw attention to himself. Obi-Wan knew that Vader was intelligent—he couldn’t not know, he’d raised him—but he also had a tendency to obsess.
So, Obi-Wan did what he did best.
He requisitioned a chair and settled down, sprawling a little with one leg crossed and a drink in hand, across from where Vader’s ship’s landing ramp would extend.
Obi-Wan’s very existence was enough to anger Vader. Obi-Wan’s insolence? It drove Vader into an absolute rage.
Obi-Wan took a sip of his alcohol, sardonic smile firmly in place as the landing ramp extended. He could fill the air chill, a swathe of dark rage leaking into the death star.
Twenty years and Obi-Wan still ached at that interminable rage.
He was not surprised when Vader stormed down the landing ramp, lightsaber already lit. If Obi-Wan could see his face, he was sure there would be a truly terrifying scowl present, eyes lit in glaring, yellow fury. “You’ve extended too far. Your confidence will be your downfall, Kenobi.”
Obi-Wan took another sip of alcohol. “Yes, yes. ‘Long has this day been coming’ and ’This is the last time I escape you’ and ‘my weak light will finally be extinguished as it should have been years ago’. Really Darth, you need some new lines.”
Two grating breaths. “Stand and fight me, you fool.”
Obi-Wan uncrossed his leg, putting his hand on the arm of the seat as though to push himself up. Vader was waiting, anger pulsing. Obi-Wan crossed his legs again, this time putting his right leg on top. “I’m an old man now, Vader. You might as well just strike me down and get it over with.”
“Stand and fight!”
In the Force, Quinlan tugged at him. They were about ready then. He stood pulling his saber and drawing Vader’s attention to him. “You would think you’d get tired of losing to me, Darth. But if you insist.”
The first inkling Obi-Wan had of what Hondo’s plan was came when the chair he’d just exited started screeching, metal against metal, as it was dragged across the floor.
In his hand, his lightsaber started tugging forward of what almost seemed to be it’s own accord. He glanced down at it, then to the chair, and then over at Vader.
Vader who was more machine than man.
Hondo was absolutely the most brilliant, crazy man that Obi-Wan had ever known.
The magnetic force was increasing. Obi-Wan was exerting all of his effort and could barely keep his lightsaber in hand. Behind him the chair went flying through the air, crashing into Hondo’s ship.
Vader didn’t seem to realize what was happening yet. The Sith took a step forward, but his metal, robot leg careened to the side, causing him to stumble. Obi-Wan considered the situation for a moment before deciding to give Hondo a little help.
He sent Quinlan a pulse through the Force while also yelling aloud. “Hondo, now.” He let go of his lightsaber and it careened away from him. He grabbed for the Force, pushing up, completely knocking Vader off balance. Every loose piece of metal was careening through the air and crashing into Hondo’s ship.
Obi-Wan could feel Vader trying to loose himself from his strange imprisonment with the Force and Obi-Wan immediately surrounded the Sith with the Force, knocking back every attempt Vader made to force himself loose from the industrial-ship-size-strength magnet.
Obi-Wan dropped to the ground to avoid the still flying metal. He caught sight of Lemmin, one of Hondo’s weequay’s—severely under-geared in order to get rid of all of his metal—dodging flying metal and making his way to where Vader was trapped.
Lemmin forced Vader’s helmet off, jabbing at Vader with something in his hand.
A moment later the magnetic force that had been pulling all the even somewhat loose metal—and some not-so-loose metal—towards Hondo’s ship turned off and Vader collapsed forward.
Obi-Wan pushed himself to his feet, staring a little in shock.
A moment later Hondo came waltzing down his ship landing ramp. “And that, Kenobi, is how one takes a Sith Lord hostage.”
Obi-Wan couldn’t help it. He laughed.
Hondo looked down at the unconscious Sith.
He was one of the few people who knew who the Sith truly was. Though he’d only learned due to alcohol’s ability to loosen Obi-Wan Kenobi’s normally controlled tongue.
But he was not qualified as a therapist, so he did his best not to have the important conversations about that fact with Obi-Wan.
“Be careful taking him to the Force-suppressed cell I found in Cell Block A,” Obi-Wan was instructing some of his crew.
Hondo wondered if they knew. The glare on Cody’s and Vos’s faces as they looked at Vader meant that it really could go either way. It could just be hatred of Vader, but it might be a deeper hatred at the betrayal Vader had committed against them.
“I told you it would work,” Hondo boasted, drawing attention away from Vader and to himself.
“I admit, that was quite ingenius.” Obi-Wan’s brow un-furrowed a little as he looked at Hondo. Hondo puffed up a little in pride. He was a very distracting presence. Even when compared to Vader. “More machine than man, indeed.”
“Robot legs. Robot arms. Heavy metal armor. It was an obvious answer.” Hondo spread his arms. “Yet, only I, Hondo, was brilliant enough to come up with it. I believe I now earn 3/4’s possession of Hondo’s Great Moon of Terror.”
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Still half, Hondo.”
“More like Hondo’s Space Disco Ball.” Vos suggested, face mocking.
“Ohnaka’s Useless Laser-Pointer,” Cody suggested.
Hondo glared at both of them. “No respect.”
“Ohnaka’s Moon of—” Hondo turned a hurt look at Porlo. His own second, turning against him. Porlo cut himself off with a cough.
“Ah, Leia! Luke!” Obi-Wan sent the twins his brightest smile as Boil and Quinlan escorted the two out of Vader’s ship where they’d been taken captive. What an excellent piece of luck that Vader had brought them straight to the death star Obi-Wan had already taken over and there was no need to launch a separate rescue operation. “It is so very good to see you both, alive and well.”
“Uncle Ben?” Luke seemed confused, and Obi-Wan noted that he was bleeding a little, clearly he hadn’t let him and his sister be taken by the imperial’s quietly. “What are you doing here?”
Obi-Wan gave his most eloquent shrug. “Well, you see, I heard about the death star and thought it might be fun to steal.”
“You stole the Death Star?” Leia’s attention snapped to him immediately from where she’d been taking everything in. “You… what?”
“I thought you were a farmer.” Luke sounded faintly betrayed, and Obi-Wan hoped that Bail, Breha, and Padme were prepared for an epic pout when the kids returned.
Obi-Wan couldn’t remember whose idea that had been. Mostly he was surprised they’d managed to keep the twins believing it for as long as they had, especially since the extent of Obi-Wan’s cover had been growing a beard when in his ‘uncle Ben the farmer’ persona while being clean shaven as a pirate.
“Well, you see, it was one of your parents’ idea to…”
“The Pirate Obi-Wan Ohnaka! A farmer!” Hondo threw an arm over Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “Never.”
Obi-Wan sighed, every time Hondo introduced him to someone new. Every time. “We’re not married Hondo.”
“But think of the legacy!”
Obi-Wan ignored him, he’d heard it all before and he wasn’t going to give Hondo another chance to wax strangely poetic about how the two of them would go down as the most infamous pirate duo in all history, and so they ought to formalize it. Though… he looked around at the battle station they’d just successfully stolen. Hondo might not actually be wrong about the two of them creating a reputation that would long outlast either of them. “I’ve grown rather infamous as the pirate Kenobi.”
“You’re a pirate?” Luke was gaping a little. “Since when?”
“About seventeen years now, I believe.”
The twins shared an offended look between them, clearly not pleased that they’d been kept out of the secret for so long.
Obi-Wan figured he’d just drop them off on their parents and let the three of them take care of it. It hadn’t been his idea to pretend to be a farmer, after all.
“Well then, would you like to do the honors, Hondo? Or shall I?”
Hondo paused to consider it for a moment. Have the opportunity to poke at the Emperor or stand back and watch Obi-Wan drive the man insane in the way that only Obi-Wan would be capable.
“You can have the honor.” Though, Hondo would reserve the right to interrupt as the opportunity presented itself. He couldn’t not taunt the Emperor after all.
Obi-Wan smiled, and the look in his eyes was devious, nodding to the soldier who’d taken over comms. “Let’s give the Emperor a call, I’m sure he’s very concerned about what has happened to his pawns.”
Obi-Wan leaned back against the wall in a truly delightful slouch, staring at the comm with an expression of utter boredom.
The Emperor hadn’t even answered the comm yet and Hondo could already tell that the Emperor would be seething at the utter disrespect Obi-Wan was showing.
A blue hologram bloomed into view, and Hondo gave a disgusted sigh at the sight of the hooded figure. The Emperor was clearly trying so hard to be ominous and looming, and really he just looked silly.
“Ah, Emperor Palpatine! It’s been too long!”
“Kenobi,” the hooded figured hissed. “What are you doing?”
“Straight to the chase. Very rude, Emperor. Hasn’t anyone taught you any manners?” Obi-Wan gave a disappointed little tut. “But I’ll humor you. I’m comming to inform you that I have stolen your death star and I am currently keeping several of your pawns as hostages. Including Tarkin and Vader.” Obi-Wan gave an understanding sigh, that sounded far closer to condescending. “I understand those are two of your favorites, so you’ll understand that their ransom will be quite high.”
“KENOB—” The comm cut out as lightning filled the view.
Obi-Wan snorted and Hondo had to hold in a laugh at the look of glee on his friend’s face. “Give it a few minutes before trying again, our dear Emperor will have to find a new comm after electrocuting the last one.”
“Such poor control,” Hondo commented. “I was under the impression that he was far more put together.”
Obi-Wan’s smile was downright mean. “I’ve been vaguely tormenting that man for two decades, and specifically tormenting him for the past six years. Trust me, his control is very close to snapping completely. Have you seen the bounty on my head? You could buy a government with that sort of money.”
Hondo had, actually. He paid good attention to that sort of thing. It was good to know who could use a good capture. But there was some level of honor among pirates, and Hondo was far too fond of Obi-Wan to ever genuinely consider selling him out. A true shame for his pocketbook, for certain.
The soldier at the comms cleared his throat, and Obi-Wan sent him a kind smile. “Thank you, Markets. I’m ready.”
The hologram popped up again. “Gotten yourself under control, Emperor?” Obi-Wan shot off immediately. “That was a youngling’s mistake.”
“You overestimate yourself, Kenobi.” The Emperor’s voice was a sibilant and malicious sounding hiss.
Hondo couldn’t help himself, and he dropped into the holo’s view, sprawling over Obi-Wan to make sure he was fully in the holo. “Oh, glorious, wrinkly Emperor! You underestimate my lovely partner, the second most fearsome pirate in the galaxy, after me of course. We’ve stolen your greatest weapon, if you are not careful, we will steal your Empire right from between your wrinkly, grasping hands.”
Hondo let out a loud laugh at that. “We are pirates, we don’t know what that means!”
Obi-Wan nudged at him, but Hondo could see he was trying not to laugh. “Yes, well, I’ll send you my demands, Palpatine. And, just so you know we’re serious, we’ll be sending the Rebellion some demands as well. If you won’t meet our demands, I’m sure they will.”
Obi-Wan cut the comms.
Hondo pouted. “I wasn’t done. I had at least three more ways of mentioning how wrinkly he is. And to inform him that his weapon would soon have a far more terrifying name.” Hondo’s Harm. No. Ohnaka’s Lunacy, yes, yes, that was a good one. He’d have to share that one with Obi-Wan, he’d enjoy the play on words.
Obi-Wan snorted. “I’m sure.” He let out a fond sigh. “I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities for you to mock our esteemed Emperor.”
Hondo hoped so. There was something delightful in mocking that evil prune.
“Bail my friend!”
Bail’s eyes were grim. “I’m sorry, Obi-Wan. I don’t have time, the Death Star has arrived in Alderaanian space and I—”
“Don’t need to worry.” Obi-Wan interrupted with a wince. “I apologize. I should have sent a message earlier. I was coming to drop off your princess and her bodyguard.”
Bail froze, clearly trying to compute Obi-Wan’s meaning. “Are you… are you telling me that the Death Star in my system is you?”
Obi-Wan shrugged. “Yes, well pirate, and it was a nice big moon just asking to be stolen!”
Bail seemed to collapse in on himself. “You nearly gave me a heart attack, Obi-Wan. I’ve been trying to get the planet evacuated… but I already knew we weren’t really going to be able to get anyone away.”
“Again, I apologize. I forgot the implications, and that you would have been aware of them.”
“I can’t believe you went and stole the Death Star.”
Behind him, Obi-Wan heard Hondo mutter something about ‘Ohnaka’s Glory’ and ‘stupid names’ but didn’t allow himself to get distracted. “Yes, well, you know me, Bail.”
“I do. And I should stop underestimating you.” Bail shook his head. “How did you even manage that?”
Obi-Wan shrugged. “What can I say, Bail. A captain is only as good as their crew. And I’ve got a very good crew.” He could feel Cody rolling his eyes at him, and he sent his best smile at his brilliant second, before turning his attention back to Bail. “We also have Tarkin, Vader, and several other Imperial officers as hostages right now. Technically, we’ve sent a ransom message to the Emperor, but I think I could be convinced to turn them over to the Rebellion for the right price.”
Hondo gave another grumble about ‘not being a charity’ that Bail seemed to hear.
“How does Captain Ohnaka like strong Alderannian alcohol?”
“A lifetime supply?” Hondo asked, popping up right by Obi-Wan’s elbow.
“We’ll see what we can do,” Bail answered.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s world fell apart along with the galaxy.
And so he'd run and run, always running, heart broken and empty, and he wasn't sure why he kept running, except that he'd fought to survive for so long that he didn't know how to stop, even now when he wasn't sure he wanted to survive anymore.
And maybe it was that emptiness that he couldn't escape that had caused him to make his first misstep, the misstep that had landed him in a pirate's camp across from a pirate who spoke only in the language of credits.
'The Empire has stolen everything from you.' Hondo had said. He was both right and not. The war had started stealing bits and pieces of Obi-Wan, long before the Empire had ever risen from the ashes of the Republic, his certainty, his hope, his health. But then the Empire had stolen everything that was left. It had stolen Obi-Wan's purpose, his faith, it had stolen his family, the one he'd thought he'd been making with his battalion, and the one that he always returned to with the Jedi. 'How would you like to return the favor?'
Obi-Wan had been running for months, he had nothing but his life and that was worthless as far as he was concerned.
In the end, Hondo's question wasn't really a question. Obi-Wan was tired, it was only a matter of time before he made a misstep less fortunate than this one. But if he could cause the Empire a little pain along the way. Well, the only good thing about having lost everything was that there was nothing left to lose.
But maybe, just maybe, if Obi-Wan could trust Hondo, if Obi-Wan could trust the Force… there might still be something to gain.
"What do you have in mind?"
—This hadn’t been what Hondo had had in mind. He’d never thought of himself as someone who thought small—he was almost always the one thinking bigger than everyone else—but this was bigger than anything he could have possibly considered. But, if anyone asked, he was absolutely taking credit for all of it. He was just so good, his plans turned out even when he hadn’t known he’d made them!
Now, if he could just get everyone to agree that the Death Star clearly needed to be renamed.—