It starts with Jango running the Dark-Saber through Pre Vizsla's chest. The Mandalorians here are so, so soft, and in one smooth motion Jango pulls the blade free and decapitates the man, while dozens of his soldiers look on, and not a one mourns him.
Well, no, in truth it starts on Geonosis, with Jango laying in the sand in a deserted gladiator pit full of long rotted bodies and broken droid parts. He hurts, and the next time his Riduur tells him not to touch a creepy statue, no matter how tempting, no matter how aggravating it is to hear Obi’s teacher voice used on him, Jango is leaving the creepy force stuff to the force sensitive Mando.
It starts on some Outer Rim planet, in a library, where Jango see’s all that is different. He sees and hates and if his alternate self wasn't dead, Jango would kill him. His Ade sent out to die, his claimed family missing, and his Riduur so far away. Jango mourns, and misses his people, misses Obi-wan, but the idol broke upon landing and this defanged world likely won't have another.
(Even if it did, would it take him back, or would Jango be thrown into a different universe, one with far less options. No, there is no going home, so Jango mourns, and plans, and thinks of how he will bring home here .)
Jango can not get to the clones, not yet, and that burns. But Jango survived being the Mand’alor in a three way battle between the Republic and the Sith empire, this little civil war is nothing, will be nothing, compared to the ideas in his head. He makes his way through the Mid Rim, fighting as he goes, painting his armor the same shade as this other Jango. His son, his first son, for they are all his children, boba, will find him, or at least come to try and kill him for being an imposter, but it doesn't matter. The result will be the same, in the end. Jango watches Obi-Wan on the holonet, his knighted padawan by his side, as reckless and as selfless as he always is, and with an old intensity, dives into old jedi records to know all he can.
He learns. Obi’s past is different here, but not by much, and when he finds out who the Chancellor is he laughs so hard it nearly turns into a panic attack. Nearly. Palpatine was a prince, in his world, untouchable to any but other Sith, and Jango knows that Shabuir almost as well as he knows the jedi. The clones, the Vod, are a trap. Jango doesn't know how, yet, but they are, and he needs to be careful, because Sidious won't hesitate to spring a trap early if he feels cornered. The Sith liked the long game, but the man wasn't a fool, and he knew when to be cautious. This changes some plans, but not all, and Jango is prepared to fight the Republic for his children.
Aurra Sing dies fast. She’s killed his children, encouraged Boba to try and kill his own, and Jango has a nice little list of bounty hunters he plans to take to task for that. Boba doesn’t believe it's him, not until Jango removes his helmet, and speaks Mando’a, and the boy crumbles, and cries, and Jango holds him tight. Jango has enough old records, enough journal entries and old letters to fake it, and at the end of the day, most Jangos are the same.
(When they want something, they will stop at nothing to get it.)
Everything is soft here. The Republic, the Sith, hell even his own people.
But, oddly enough, not Satine Kryze, Duchess of Mandalore.
His Satine was a hungry thing, wanting power for the sake of power, picking pacifism because it sounded good and at a glance was the moral high ground. This Satine is anything but that . This woman has starved, has been tortured, and choose to force peace upon her people because at some point she’d had enough of split blood. Jango could respect that. He didn't agree, he hated, loathed , what she had done to their people, but he could understand why she had done it. She stares back at him with eyes of steel, and he can see how Obi fell in love with this woman, how people can still follow her, despite all she has carved from their culture.
He sits down their dinner. Satine stands tense in the corner of her room. She has been treated better than most prisoners in a regime change, given a fresher and a bed and clothes, but the woman has not been eating, and Jango won't have that.
He can't start integration programs, not yet, and even if he had a fledgling one up and running, Satine would never bend to it, not in a workable time frame, not unless they broke her completely, and while Jango may be uncertain about what he wants to do with her, he doesn't want to do that.
(Obi loves this woman. Still does, and while there is a part of him that wants to kill her just for that, he must remind himself that both Obi and Satine are different people, and this Satine may have uses yet.)
“Eat,” he commands, taking his helmet off and sitting down at the small table they gave her. Satine doesn't, glancing at him then at the door then at the food. She is afraid, trying to hide it, and after a moment stiffly walks over to the table.
She still does not eat.
She doesn't sit either, and Jango leans back in his chair, and to an untrained eye he looks relaxed. Jango does not underestimate this woman. Her counterpoint took down five Commandos before she died, this one stunned twice that, before her capture. She is pretty, and calm, but rivers disguise their nature with gentle babbles.
“I will not be used against my people,” she says, a spine of iron, and Jango makes a note to put her on suicide watch.
“Don't need to. Our people folded fairly quickly to their Mand’alor.” He pats the Dark-Saber, and Satine twitches, though at the weapon or his use of our, he can't tell. “Eat. There are quicker ways to die, and more efficient methods of killing you.”
“Execution then” she replies, and when he straightens in his chair, she doesn't flinch. Half his cabinet still does, whenever he brings his full presence to bare. Ka’ra , he wishes he could have had this Satine, this nexu of a woman, who may have become vegetarian but still has her claws.
“Not at the moment no. I’m also fairly certain your sister would smuggle you out before that” Jango gives her, watching her expression, and Satine, well Satine doesn't know how she feels about that.
“Bo?” she asks, hesitant, a lifetime of love and loathing in that one name, and Jango is amused at how similar the two sisters are, at their core. He gestures at the table. He won't ask her to eat again, but if she wants answers, she will listen, and do as she is told.
The Duchess finally sits, still tense, and when Jango doesn't speak, slowly cuts away at the slab of meat on her plate. He leans back in his chair, waiting as she chews, and swallows, and there is a small part of her eyes that burn with hate.
Jango waits until she has eaten enough to satisfy a healer. “Your sister is well. Currently in charge of training the ad’ika.”
“And my advisors?”
“Either in similar positions as yourself, or found their loyalty to the Mand’alor”
He doesn’t mention the ones loyal to death watch, the ones who killed their own people while grabbing power. He learned his lesson the last time, and those Dar’manda are in the ground. He does not tell Satine this, for all her mistakes, she loves her people, and she doesn't need to be burdened with their deaths, not yet.
“A bloodless coup then, you must be disappointed” she hisses, testing his limits, using the only weapons she has left to her.
“Not going to ask about your nephew?” he returns, because Obi taught a long time ago how to navigate the battlefield of politicians. “He seemed like a nice young man”
Satine clamps down on her own reaction, trying not to give him a weak point, but Bo Katan already did, and even if she hadn't, Satine’s own rigidity would have given the game away. Her eyes blaze, jaw clenched, and her knuckles are white against the fork she holds. Jango tilts his head, curious as to if she will attack him, to see if she shares more than a face with his worlds satine, and Satine takes a breath.
“How is my nephew,” she grinds out, and Jango raises an eyebrow, and the Duchess tightens her shoulders, taking another breath. “how is my nephew, Mand’alor. ”
“He is well. Your sister made it very clear to any who wanted to hurt him to hurt you that she was related to the boy as well.”
Somehow. Jango can't find the records for whatever cousin branch satine said she adopted him from, and there is something about the Ad's face that makes him slightly suspicious. He has a shadow quietly investigating it.
“The Republic won't let a clone lead Mandalore. You know that right. They killed the last one who tried.”
Jango mourns the lad, as he does all his dead Ad’ika, but he lets himself smile, and Satine’s face tightens, the only hint of a flinch she smothered. The Kaminoans left their mark on his children, altering this gene here or that protein marker there. Jango is not a clone, even took a DNA test to prove it, which shut up the last of the doubters.
“I am not a clone, I even have papers to prove it,” Jango says, making his voice dripping with smugness. Satine frowns. She does not believe him.
“Jango Fett died ,” she responds, slowly, like she is trying to get him to understand, like she is trying to break it to him. “Master Windu decapitated him.”
“The Head of the Order sure did,” Jango allows, then straightens again, “but you killed me when you took away my citizenship”
Satine, to her credit, doesn't flinch, but the little intake of breath is enough.
“You are not Jango, and I did what I had to do in order to insure the safety of Mandalore and her people”
He could give her that. The Republic was, is, always looking for ways to punish those that don't conform to its standards, and had Satine done nothing, the Republic would have likely asked for repercussions. Doesn't mean it didn't hurt.
“You seem so certain I am not Jango Fett, why is that?” he asks, because if they stray into the other things Satine has done, in the name of their people, he might lose his temper, and that just isn't productive yet.
“Because he would never work with Death Watch after what they did to his sister.” The fate of Arla is just another difference. He mourns this sister, but he will not be blinded by grief, he will not refuse to pick up a weapon simply because it hurt him.
“Those that killed her are dead. Those that have killed our people are dead. Death watch is Mando’ade, despite how they’ve strayed, it my job as Mand’alor to correct such behavior.”
Satine stares at him, for the first time since he entered the room, she is finally seeing him. “ You died. ”
“And that’s not possible”
Really?” he drawls, “Rumor has it you had a fling with a jedi. Nothing is impossible when they get involved.”
“A jedi brought you back to life, ” she asks, voice dripping with sarcasm, and Jango shrugs as uncaringly as he can.
“Not saying they did, and not saying it was on purpose, but the jedi have encountered stranger things.”
(Obi told him of a planet called Mortis, and the family turned gods he and Anakin encountered there. His Riduur had clammed up after merely mentioning it, but there were still little details that haunted them both, to this day.)
“What are you going to do with me,” Satine brooches, in the silence that follows, and Jango lets her swing the topic away from jedi.
Jango hums as he considers the question. He eats, savoring the taste, and debates honesty or not. He does not know what he wants to do with her yet, too many conflicting desires, too little unknown truths to make a proper choice, and there is one little snag in any plan he comes up with, but Jango has the feeling that if he asks about Korkie Kryze’s true parentage outright, Satine will be lost to him.
“I don't know,” he says at last, because a good leader knows when to be invincible, and when to be human, and the uncertainty might encourage Satine to behave a little better. “I could let you go to the Republic.” Satine likes that idea, however she tries to hide it, even if they both know it's not truly an option. “But that won't work, will it? I don't want to deal with the GAR just yet, and you might amass an army against me, so letting you run is out.” Jango swirls his drink, Satine still hasn't touched her meal, beyond when he pauses and makes her eat, but that can be a conversation for her sister. “I could kill you,” he muses, and she tightens, “but your sister would try and kill me if I did, and your safety has convinced a great deal of hold outs to fall. So your death would not only make you a martyr, but it would lead the people to think I am blood thirsty”
“You are blood thirsty” she snaps, either not considering her choice of words in her anger, or simply doesn't care because she has already figured out politeness does not save you. Maybe she is testing him again, seeing his temper, seeing how far she can push.
Jango smirks. “Point, but not pointlessly, and not without purpose.”
“Violence never has a purpose” she responds, more cautious than before, and he has the feeling his uncaring attitude unnerves her far more than his anger would.
“Oh?” he chirps, leaning in as her face tightens again, “A one Obi-Wan Kenobi was enslaved at thirteen, should he not have fought back? Should he have left those other slaves to die? What about you? Was the civil war without purpose? Will words defeat evil? Will slavers end their profits because of rallies-”
“Will loved ones come home from pointless battlefields? Will the slaughter of innocence lead to the glory of old? Will child soldiers be given back their childhoods when their trainers do not have use for them?”
“The commando code does not encourage child soldiers. At thirteen they can forge their armor, but Beskar’gam does not make one one fit to lead, let alone be on the field.”
“Death Watch did,” Satine replies, something so sad in her voice, the first hint of vulnerability in her voice. Jango sits back. In the year Satine was hidden by the jedi, he assumes that not all of them were of age, that not all those sent to kill her were adults making their own choices. She is right, in a way.
“I am not Death Watch,” Jango says, “I am not even the true mandalorians.”
“Then what are you?” Satine’s voice is tired, as if she does not want his answer, not truely, because life has let her down again and again and again . The Jango of this world failed her. She had needed her Mand’alor, as the people needed both the Sword and the Shield, the Speaker and the Leader, the Jorad’alor and the Mand’alor.
Jango knows who he is, what he is owed, what is his duty as a ruler. His formative years were that of a farmer. They do not get the luxury of being lazy. This world's Jango, he was so bogged down by loss and trauma that he forgot that. He forgot that to be Mand’alor is to fight everyday for the title, to prove always and forever that you deserve that role. It is not given, and it can not be taken away, only lost.
“If you don't plan to kill me, and you don't plan to let me go, then what is the point of keeping me alive. I won't be an exhibit for you to show off. I won't be some plaything”
Jango has always been a fan of having people find solutions for him, and his grin causes Satine to tighten her shoulders.
“I could always marry you” he says, only somewhat joking, and Satine stands, hiding fear behind disgust.
“No,” she snarls, but it's too late, his mind trailing down possibilities and might be futures and historical precedents.
(Jango still wants Obi, and in this world, without an integration program and not enough time to build a proper one, Satine is the way to get him. Besides, Jango has been encouraging queer relatioships, be they poly or otherwise. This world is sadly lacking in both vocabulary and manners. That too he will change, in time.)
“You’d rather be executed?” Jango asks, already knowing her answer.
“Yes,” she spits.
“And if Korkie were to be joining you on the stand?” Of course, Jango won't be harming the Ad’ika, especially if he’s who Jango thinks he is, but Satine doesn't know that, and the boy is her one weak point.
“My sister would protest” she says, attempting to deflect, but her hands are shaking, and she has given Jango yet another weak point.
“She can either accept or join you”
“I thought that would make me a martyr?”
Jango snorts. “Not if its done right, after all , being killed while trying to contact the Republic’s armies, why such a way to go. Your poor nephew-”
“If you hurt him-”
“You’ll what,” Jango interrupts, “kill me, that’s not very pacifist, is it?”
“The jedi will come”
Ka’ra, he sure hopes they do. One jedi in particular. His smirk is not the reaction she wanted. “Perhaps they will, but it will be far too late by then Duchess . No one is coming to give you another choice.”
“If I,” her voice breaks, only for a moment, before her entire face shuts down into a blank mask, “If I marry you, would my nephew be safe?”
“He would be perfectly safe to do whatever he wants”
“Even if he wants to go the Republic”
The boy won't. Mandalorians do not abandon family, and Korkie won't leave his aunt, or rather mother here. Besides, he has Bo Katan to make him stay, if it comes to that.
Satine searches his eyes for something, and he doesn't know if she finds it, but after a moment she sits back down and whispers, “Very well”
(There is a part of him that wants to go straight to his own boys. He wants to challenge Kamino, wants to tear it apart and turn its waters red with blood or whatever color the white-necks will bleed, but for now he has his spies smuggle what boys he can to Mandalorian Outposts. Some are from the planet itself, others left behind on the battlefield, but this is the long game, and he needs home to be unified before he startings issuing challenges.)
The wedding is an all out affair. Bo Katan makes sure his bride to be doesn’t do anything stupid, Jango wears his armor, and with the whole planet watching the New Mandolarians and Death Watch finally make peace. Satine smiles, and to any who did not know her she looks happy, pretending for the red headed boy standing in the first row. His wife laughs, and dances, and makes endless small talk. Jango almost wants to grin, watching her so easily hide behind her eyes, the same shade as his Riduurs, because the first chance she gets she’s knocking him out and running. She’ll learn, in time.
Boba is not happy either, but his alternate self left a great deal of poison in his son, and Jango plans to rip it out, root to stem.
Night falls, and Jango hits his limit after about a third of party goers have either hit their tolerance level or left for other entertainment. Boba has been escorted to bed. Satine wants to stay, for whatever reason, and Jango indulges her for a few minutes, before simply picking her up bridal style. She opens her mouth, likely a snippy retort that would remind him of Obi-Wan, but a quick tightening of his fingers makes her mouth snap shut. Her nephew, ha, more like son, stands, but Satine smiles, and laughs, and while it fools Korkie, Jango knows better to trust anything this woman does just yet.
Jango gets reminded, again, that this is not his universe when they retire. He’s set up his room as close as he can to the one he had at home, but some things aren't done here yet, and this union is sketchy enough to the people as it is. They know him only as a bounty hunter, and he must prove to be so much more. This universe's Jango could see the card and the players, but Jango knows how to play the game, knows how little ripples affect big fish and when to throw his own stones.
“Tea?” he asks as he sets her down, taking note of the tightness of her frame, the way she eyes the bed and the locked door and the lack of anything that could be used as a weapon.
“If it's not bother,” she replies, voice not unlike that of Obi's Negotiator face. It's an interesting thing, the way the two bleed into each other, and he wonders how this Obi-Wan will be different.
“No bother,” he says, because his Riduur was a menace, and had slowly replaced all of Jango's kaff with tea, and now he couldn't even find any of his favorites to drink.
Ka’ra he missed Obi.
Missed all his people, but his Riduur would always be something he craved.
Satine sits at the table in the corner, and Jango knows better than to think she’s learning. He can't entirely recreate the program, yet, but Jango plans to get as close as he can get, and the only people Satine is going to interact with for a while is him, Bo Katan, and maybe Korkie if she's good. Satine will behave too, so long as he holds all the cards, and doesn't give her an opening.
This world is so, so soft.
Jango does work while Satine watches. This universe’s Jango, alongside being a slaver and a Dar’manda who should've gotten therapy, was not a patient person, and his calmness only unnerves satine.
“Your clothes are on the right side of the dresser, if you want to change into night time attire” Jango says after a few minutes, and Satine doesn't move, her hands still curled around her cup. She wants to say something, he can see it in her eyes, but this Satine learned to hold her temper, learned when to wait for the better shot. His Satine had jumped the gun, had overestimated herself, and her value. This one knows just how precarious her situation is.
She stands, slowly, taking her cup with her towards the fresher.
“Satine,” Jango does not look up from his reports on Mandalorian holdings and the cost it will take to restore them, but he knows his new wife has frozen in the middle of the room. Not Mate. Never Mate. “If you kill yourself, or you try to escape, it will be Korkie who gets the punishment.” Jango looks up, Satine’s fingers tightening around her cup. She is used to being underestimated, dismissed, but Jango knows better. The sweetest tooka’s have the sharpest claws. “Understand?”
“Perfectly,” she grinds, eyes blue as Obi-Wans and just as strong. He raises a brow, and her shoulders hunch, eyes burning, “‘Alor”
Jango returns to his paperwork. Satine takes forever to change. Mand’yaim spins on to a new day. He has the morning off, which annoys him, but appearances are a must, and there was nothing that needed to be done immediately. The planet needs to be terraformed. Maybe he can get a few of the force users in the AgriCorp members still lurking about the universe. The Jetii are so loose with their own, though they have started to tighten the leash, now that war has cut through their numbers. Jango puts out a hit on Krell, the bastard who's murdering the Vod with his “victories”, and closes the data pad, nothing more to be done.
Satine stands at the doorway to the fresher. Her hair is down, and the blue robe reminds him of his Riduur’s favourite flower in the garden. She’s pretty, in a way oddly reminiscent of his mate, all sharp angles and thinking eyes. Jango has never really cared about gender, and Obi hadn’t either, but his Mate was more cautious about love and sex than Jango ever could be.
Of course, Jango wasn’t having sex tonight, but Satine didn’t know that, and he wanted to see what she would do. He won't deny he’s curious though. Curious to see if she has scars, if she truly was Korkie’s mother, if that hidden pregnancy left stretch marks. He smiles, moves towards her, and gently spins her around, leaving her the room while he takes over the fresher. He debates a shower, as is his custom, but Satine would likely assume the worst. He’s enjoyed her reactions, enjoyed seeing the differences, but Obi would be disappointed if he took out his frustrations of a dead woman out on the living.
No need to be cruel, if he wants this Satine to at least like him, if he truly plans to use her to bring Obi into the fold.
Satine hasn't moved from her spot in the centre of the room.
“To bed?” he asks, and Satine weaves her fingers into her robe, staring at him, at the scar on his neck. Jango doesn't remember getting it, but it was likely left over from this world's Jango, and decapitation via lightsaber is not the best of ways to go. He moves, and Satine takes a step back, once more eyeing the door. He doesn't stop though, standing before her, close enough that their breaths intermingle, and she smells of muja juice. “Satine?”
The Duchess nods, shoulders tight, and she gets as far as the edge of the bed before she freezes again, breath hitching.
Another difference. His Satine had used tears as a weapon, had used her softness to fade into the shadows, this one will be damned before she lets him see such weakness. An odd mentality, in Jango's book, tears in his world are not as judged. Alas, more changes to be made.
He sits on the bed, giving the appearance of nonchalance as he takes off his boots, and he debates the best way to handle what comes next. It needs to be both kind, and in his favor. He shifts, sliding towards the front of the bed, and when his back is to the frame, he looks at Satine. He raises an eyebrow, and her breath hitches again, but she does join him on the bed.
Jango underestimates her.
Satine’s arm shoots out, and Jango just barely stops the chipped cup piece from cutting his throat. She snarls as he spins her, and in one quick motion he has her pinned to the bed, hands curled tightly around her own. He lets her wear herself, lets her know his hold is unbreakable, before turning his focus to her weapon. He holds onto both wrists with one hand, and very carefully pries the broken glass out of her hand. Foam cups from now on it seems.
“That wasn't very pacifist of you,” he tutts as he tucks the glass into his pocket, “what a terrible thing to do to your husband on your wedding night”
“No,” she says, voice strangled, lips curled a snarl.
No?” he repeats, tilting his head, and Satine flinches. She won't beg. Not to an enemy. Another difference. His Satine had begged and promised and clawed at anything she could to try and survive.
“I don't,” she pauses, trying to breath, to find her focus, “no. even, no, I said no. ”
“Ok” he says, and she stares uncomprehendingly at him. Jango lets her go, keeping her in his side eye as he places the glass shard in his dresser, before locking it. Satine watches him, brows furrowed.
“ Why? ” she asks.
“Because you said no”
Jango settles into the sheets, and for the first time since the coup, Satine cries. They’re silent things, her tears, body barely moving as she sobs. He sighs, and slides into Satine’s side of the bed. She flinches, almost leaping off the bed, but Jango holds on. She curls in on herself, and he positions her head against his chest, shushing her as she cries with his fingers weaving through her hair.
“There we go,” he murmurs as gently as he knows how, and her body shivers as his hand connects to skin, “let it all out.”
Satine cries, not for tonight, not in relief, but because she has lost . She cries for her dream, for what she imagined her people might be, for her ideals, because that would have definitely killed him had she been just a little quicker. She cries because Satine has likely not cried in a great long time, and that dam she built up has finally cracked.
She cries until there are no more tears to give, slowly falling asleep as he continues to swirl his fingers around the back of her head.
(When he sleeps, he dreams of Obi, smiling fondly after a battle won, blood and sweat giving his hair curls.)
There is much work to do. Jango does not sleep in, carefully sliding off the bed so as to not awaken his new wife. He gives the go ahead for the news to spread offworld, if it hadn't already, and has his advisors draft a statement of neutrality. Palpatine will take it with both hands, and Jango showers, thinking of ways to free his boys. It will need to be subtle, if he wants to get the GAR, not just the ones deemed deviant or the ones left behind to die. A freedom trail. Mandalore needs hard working boys. Needs farmors and steel workers and craftsmen. Satine wasn't wrong about that. Death Watch put too much emphasis on the blade while the New Mandalorians forsake all who would defend them.
Jango is editing the draft for both the Republic and Separatist Senates when Satine stirs. Both systems are stupid. If they were smart, the people would devolve the senate into local councils for each sector, with representatives who spoke to the head of state about problems. Like his empire. It helped, that if a king was bad, if a queen did not care for her people, their warriors would rise up against them. Mandalorians did not have bad rulers for long.
He couldn't wait to kill Palpatine, and Dooku, and the Hutts and the Trade Federation and the Banking Clans and all who had eaten his people and still looked for more.
This world was so soft , it was no wonder the Sith were winning.
Satine is staring at him.
“Tea?” he asks, and when she doesn't move, he turns back down to his datapad. “I've got a meeting at lunch, and for the rest of the day really. Want to help?”
She frowns, clearing sensing a trap, but unable to see what it was.
“Help how?” she inquiries, sliding off the bed, still hesitant, but less so than the night before.
“On who to ask for help with rebuilding, restructuring, and terraforming”
“Mand’yaim is a mess, but the AgriCorps have healed worse, and if not then someone somewhere has done it at one point.”
“You would work with the jedi?”
She moves towards him, debating something, and he smiles at her face when she notices the paper cup.
“Not jedi,” he explains, “ AgriCorp , just because they use the force doesn't mean we cant use them as well”
Satine doesn't have an answer to that, so she instead looks over his shoulder at the draft he’s currently working on.
“You're dissolving the council of neutral systems” she says, voice both empty and yet filled with such sadness, so Jango turns to look at her, giving Satine his full attention.
“Restructuring,” he corrects softly, because Satine did build a good system, with air tight treaties, it just needs commerce, self-sufficiency, and, well , Jango grew up with dirt in his bones and grass in his fingertips.
“You’re good at this,” she says as she sits beside him, and then griminces, as if that hadn't been the words she wanted. He tilts his head.
“At leading, or at rebuilding?”
“Both” she admits, and Jango smirks.
“Glad I could exceed your expectations”
The Jango of this world inherited a kingdom of a few planets and an old history. He had not been given the necessary education to lead, to properly lead, a system in civil war, with grudges and crimes and split blood that went back generations. The Mandalorian Empire of Jango’s world had covered a third of the galaxy, where new planets carried their own blood feuds and traditions and conflicts. Jango had been taught more than just to rule, but to hold worlds that wanted nothing to do with each other together, and hold them enough they would fight alongside old enemies and forgive ancient rivals.
The door chimes, both Satine and Jango look up.
“Come in” he says, and the voice command unlocks the door, revealing Bo Katan on the other side, who is in armor. Her face is blank as she surveys her sister, cataloging the bed and her sister's position beside Jango, and determines that she is not killing her ‘Alor after all. Jango keeps a smirk off his face, but he can't help the tug at his lips as he stands.
They are so very complicated, the Kryze sisters, with a relationship that doesn't make sense to anyone but them.
“I’ll see you at dinner Duchess, maybe lunch if I can get away. Feel free to read the books on the shelf, or look over drafts of new legislation, if you get bored,” he informs the duchess as he grabs his helmet off the table, turning to the other Kryze. “Bo Katan”
Jango leaves the room. If he has a Commando or two watching on the cameras, well, that’s just good policy.
(Homefront first, then his boys. Jango is coming, he’s coming for the clones and for the jedi and for the sith. He’s coming for the whole damn world , and maybe, just maybe, it will be enough to fill the whole his Obi left behind.)
Boba is not happy to find Jango’s plan for his brothers.
“I’m better than them!” the boy hisses, after Jango has just spent the last two hours arguing about crops and clones and shipyards. Jango stops, stares, and while Boba bites his lip, he doesn't back down. Jango really, really, really, wishes his alternate self wasn't dead. It would be so satisfying the Dar’manda. How could the man be so stupid . How could he not see .
Jango kneels, so that he and Boba are eye to eye. “I've said that before, haven't I?”
Boba nods, and Jango sighes, and his son does not understand his frustration.
“I'll be better, I am better, I promise, you don't need them.”
“They’ll die before you do anyway, and-”
“ Boba. ”
“The clones don't matter, they don't matter, you don't need them!”
Jango gives up, and hugs his son. Holds him tight, fingers wrapped in curls, and he misses Jastor, misses his own father so much it burns.
“Need and want are two different things bob’ika. The clones are not lesser for their origins, they have been, and what kind of father would I be if I only called those of use to me my sons. I was wrong , before, and I doubt any of them will want my name, not after I abandoned them, but I will offer it nonetheless, because it is the least they are owed.”
“But, you, you’re never wrong,” Boba, bless him, still hangs his buir in the center of the universe, and while its sweet, that is an ideal Jango will never be able to meet.
“I’m human, Bob’ika, and humans make mistakes. I made mistakes, I will continue to make mistakes, and the best leaders are the ones who acknowledge that. Now, dry your tears, and let’s go fetch my wife for a family dinner.
Boba wrinkles his nose, and Jango grins at his son’s, “why'd you marry her anyway?”
“Because why kill when you can make a friend. Mandalore would suffer for her death, and I have found I enjoy her company”
“I don't think she wants to be your friend.” Boba says with all the confidence of a child, and Jango acknowledges the grain of truth in that statement.
“Not yet, but then, strangers often don't.”
“Do you think she likes me?”
“I think,” Jango says with amusement thick in his voice “that like all true mando’ade, she would like any child, but yes, I think she likes you. Come, we are having Muja Ice for desert”
“That’s my favorite ,” Boba informs his Buir with all seriousness.
“Satine’s too,” Jango whispers, as if imparting a great secret, “perhaps the two of you can talk of how to best prepare it”
Boba narrows his eyes. “She has opinions about that, doesn't she?”
Jango laughs, ruffling his son’s curls “Bob’ika, Satine has opinions on everything. ”
(If Jango didn't notice the Mandalorian recording the exchange in the corner, then it's just a shame that little clip got released to the press at the same time Jango sets up his freedom trail in the GAR. He wonders if this world's Obi-Wan watches it, and feels relief that Satine is alive, and not being mistreated. He wonders if this world's Palpatine smiles, thinking him a repentant father who wants nothing more than to restore his kingdom, content to let sleeping tookas lie. He wonders, but doesn’t doubt, doesn’t falter. Jango was born out of ashes and crop, his empire will be the same.)
Mand’yaim heals. It takes imported water, imported crops, and only slightly harried two dozen AgriCorps members of various ages and strength in the force, but in the month that Jango has retaken his home, the first wild flowers bloom outside the dome.
Satine watches him, always thinking, and he doesn't trust her, not yet, but a month of isolation has taken root, and even the deepest of rivers will change their course, given time. She is starting to doubt, her arguments are standing to flag, and every day that she lives without harm, every day Jango brings her flowers and Muja Ice and treaties to look over, every time Korkie talks of his classmates, and how well he’s doing in his class, is a day Satine falls just a little more.
One of his shadows finds what Jango suspected all those weeks ago. Nothing changes, except for Jango encouraging the boy to call Satine his Buir. Satine panics, the first time he does it, but Jango doesn't care about a child's history, or their parents, only what he can provide to them, so they can provide to Mandalore.
The war grows thicker. His boys die by the droves, and Jango rescues the ones he can. His little collection of planets grows. Bandomeer and all the other strings of planets along the Hydian Hyper Lane. Some come to him loudly, like Christophsis, as Rodia drags its sister planet into the fold. Some come with a little help, and it was such a shame Senator Orn Free Taa was lost in space. Syndulla was mando at heart, and the first time the Twi’lek steps onto Mand’yaim and sees species of every kind, smiles like he has not done so in years. It has teeth, bared and ready to shed blood if this world proves false, and it’s glorious. Some come more quietly, slugging along, and Manda creeps through the Outer Rim like a weed. He drafts an Anti-Slavery Bill, making it seem as if all he cares about are the Hutts, and the Rebublic, as it always does, turns it eyes.
(They do not notice the Mandalorians creeping in their ranks. They do not notice the loyalty of the clones, the Vod, slipping away. Some of his boys are still worried, some love their jedi, and fear his wrath, and Jango needs an example, a Jetii to catch and release to say ‘See? I will not harm those who come to me’)
Jango is sitting with Satine, Boba, and Korkie when his comm goes off. After three months his people know better than to call during breakfast, and he opens the holo to reveal Bo Katan.
“A’lor,” she salutes, and Jango keeps his face neutral.
“Where’s the fire?” he asks, and then raises an eyebrow at boba, who was attempting to sneak an extra peach off the table. Satine hands it to him anyway, and Jango lets her, because what's the point if they can't banter and play and have inside jokes.
“Wasskah moon. We got a distress signal, and found some trandoshan playing demagolka, hunting kids for sport.”
“Are they dead?” he questions as he stands, heading towards his desk. Wasskah, wasskah, that was close, but more mid rim than he liked, and Jango wanted all his eggs in one basket before he started poaching from the worlds closer to the Core.
“Bodies scattered to the wind. We returned the wookie who made the call, turns out he’s an chefteins heir, and the Tribes are considering a treaty with us now.”
“So what's the problem ?”
“The trandoshans were hunting padawans.”
“ What? ”
“You know, Jed’ika? Jett’ika? Baby Jetii, and while they weren't exactly happy to see us, we promised showers and medical care and now I have the four of them on ship with me heading back to mand’yaim.”
Jango did not rub his temple. He missed Obi's massages, misses the soothing feel of the Force on his mind.
“Where’s the fire Bo?” he asks again.
“Not all the Mando'ade want to give ‘em back. But the kids, they want to go back, and considering how long some of them have been on that island, I'm not really inclined to give the Jetii more Ad’ika to lose.”
This time Jango does rub his temple.
“Let’s see what the medics say. Send me the fields healers notes as well, I'll see to prepping rooms.”
Satine is looking at him.
“You can't keep them” she says, but unlike the last time they had an argument, this one lacks her usual bit. Progress, even if he still wants to just ignore all sense and head to Kamino to take his children back, to head to the Jetii temple and take them all back with him, to see Obi-Wan, even if it's on the other side of a battlefield.
There are wild flowers growing on Mand’yaim for the first time in living memory. For every Vod lost to battle, two make their way to him. There will be time later, to burn and to rage and to build a better world out of the ashes of the monsters who sought to eat it.
“I know,” he murmurs, and she blinks, before smiling softly. She still does not trust him, and there will likely be a part of her that will always hate him, but she is starting to like him, and Jango will take that. “Want to say hello? I've been told you have the nicer face.”
Satine laughs at that, “well, since you put it so eloquently ”
They send the boys to class, avoid the anger of Shy’ma Lagos, the head medic, and wait for Bo Katan to land her ship.
Satine is his Muja fruit on a stick. Look , her presence says, this is how I treat those who surrender to me . He’s vicious when he needs to be, the last slavers to try and hit Ryloth discovered that, but every blood he spills waters the green of Mand’yaim. This world’s Jango was so stupid, but Jango will take what he’s been given, and Satine stands beside him, unbroken, unbeaten , and he ignores the cameras that follow him. When he is satisfied with the paparazzi, he signs to a Commando, who removes them from the landing platform.
There are over a dozen species here, the soft whisper of mando’a spoken with a dozen different accents, and it is magnificent.
(What the Sith never got was that love endured. Love lasted decades, lasted centuries. The jedi just missed it, with their warning of attachments, and Obi-Wan had explained what they meant, that Jetii must love without possession, must love while putting duty first, and how it was easier to not love at all than let your heart bleed with every lost loved one. The Vod loved their brothers, the Jetii loved their fellow Jetii, people loved people, and for their loved ones they would do anything. Palpatine relied on power, power and fear and lies to keep his web together. It would crumble the moment he died, and maybe what was built in the power vacuum would last a decade or two, but time would wash away his empire in half a century. Jango’s would last for a millennium after his passing.)
There are four baby Jetii. The youngest is a Cerean, followed by a twi’lek and a near human, corellian if he had to guess. Taking the lead, as both the oldest and the most armed, was a togruta. Satine stiffened beside him, before taking a breath, and the tension bleeds from her body. He does not hurt children. She has watched him with Korkie and Boba long enough to know that. She has watched him with every child that crosses his path. These jed’ika are safe here.
Now, what he’s going to do with them, that is a question.
He walks with confidence, satine in his shadow, and Ahsoka Tano's eyes glance between Bo and him and Satine. The others tense as she does, but the padawan doesn't twitch for her lightsaber.
She bows, with all of Kenobi’s grace, “Mand’alor Fett. I thank you for your hospitality.”
“Welcome Padawan Tano.” Jango pauses, eyes the people watching, and takes off his helmet. “Sha’naak Ner’Sha’kajir, Morut’yc o’r Ner’Morut, An Ibac’ner Dinuir,”
Peace at my table, Safety in my stronghold, all that is mine to give.
Satine smiles at his words, relief clear in her face, and Tano calms as his wife does, and so do the other baby Jetii. They do not know the words, but Tano knows they are a promise of protection, and that is enough. “You and yours may take as long as you want to recover. We have a proper med bay waiting, and healer Shy’ma is not someone to keep waiting.”
Bo snorts at that, and the baby Jetii all smile tiredly. He clamps down on his anger, projecting calm. Jango does not want to scare the Adiik with the power to throw him across the landing pad. Satine moves to stand beside Tano, and asks about Kenobi and Skywalker, and Jango lets his wife ease the little ones as they make their way to healers.
Obi is as stupid as ever, with false surrenders and daring rescues and victories snatched from the teeth of defeat. Skywalker is not far behind, and Tano is following both their footsteps. Soon. He’s the vine that kills the century old Veshok tree, and the Force has finally given him another opening to Obi-Wan.
She’s not a Jetii yet, but she will do, for the Vod still on the fence and the planets eyeing his little treaties, wondering the cost, wondering when the credit will drop.
It won't, because credits are stupid, and any economy worth its salt is based on the trading of goods and services, but Jango is willing to comprise there, a little.
Shy’ma is waiting for them, stern and with a furrowed brow, but the kiffar woman just sighs and gestures them into the room. It's got four beds, and free of any who might take a peek, with a couple plants and blue walls. Jango hates white with a passion now, after Kamino, after the terrible armor they make his boys wear.
Mand’yaim has never been so full of color.
“So how’d you come back to life,” Tano asks as Shy’ma redoes a bacta patch, to the mortification of everyone but Satine, who hides her smile behind her hands.
“Somebody touched something they shouldn't have, other than that, I have no clue” he says, knowing his words ringed with truth, and Obi always did love his little white lies, his little point of views. It let him lie with the Force , and he enjoyed nothing more than watching his fellow former Jetii twitch after they figured out what he had done. Shy’ma huffs.
“You’d think the Alor would take his health seriously, after that” she grumbles, and the Cerean, O-mer, grins, before glancing at Jango and tries to smother the smile.
“I don't know what you’re talking about,” Jango says, projecting amusement, projecting calm and care and worry. He knows just how much of this will go in a republic report, knows how far this will spread. Jango is planting his seeds, and he can’t wait to see what comes of them, can’t wait to see Palpatine’s face when he realizes Jango has built an empire in the very hole he was making for that said purpose.
Shy’ma stares him, blankly and without emotion, and Jango smiles, even letting his eyes crinkle a little. Three out of the four jed’ika grin, and Jango takes it as win.
Children are so precious, so important, and that too will likely go right over Palpatine’s head.
The Corellain, Kalifa, watches him the same way Obi used to watch him, the same way Satine used to watch him, like a tooka who can’t quite find the lothwolf, but smells it anyway. Tano has all the brashness of a well cared for child, despite her youth and despite her being thrown on the field. Jinx and o-mer are used to following, to trusting in their elders. Kalifa though, Kalifa hasn’t been safe in a good long while, and in the presence of a trusted adult even longer.
“Out,” Shy’ma says, and Jango raises an eyebrow. The healer sighes, “ out Alor. I’m going to do my job, so you don't need to hover .”
Ah, Shy’ma was going to ask the more sensitive questions.
Satine follows Jango, giving a slight nod to Tano before falling in step with him.
“What are you going to with them?” she asks, tone all Obi’s, carefully chosen as to not imply doubt, but rather curiosity.
“Give them back. Tano will go, but if the others want to stay” he trails off and shrugs. He misses the integration program, it was easy to just throw those who needed persuading into a room and leave them for a couple months, but he can’t push before the rest of the galaxy it’s ready. The program he’s running now is so subtle very very few have realized its true nature, and is more for those death watch converted and rescued slaves than enemy soldiers. “Give them a therapist.”
Satine blinks. “You think they need it?”
“Tano might, later, she’s got some training, at least in compartmentalization, and she wasn't there that long, she never lost faith, in her teachers or herself.” Jango makes note of the slight tone of judgment in her voice, and decides to challenge that at a later date, with eavesdroppers, so the people can hear him without being preachy. Change took time, it took leadership, and a very firm hand to guide it.
“But you think the others did.”
“Oh the Corellain definitely broke, but she did her best to shield the other two from damage, and without that, they would likely not be here”
“You sound like you admire her” Satine says, a touch of questioning in her tone, as to imply it was unlikely someone like him admired someone like that little Jetii in the healers room. He slows, so as to meet Satine’s gaze.
“I do.” he told her, meaning every word, “True strength is not refusing to break, everyone has their limit, everyone their fault lines, but it's how you put yourself back together that matters. She broke, but she ensured those under her command didn’t . That's Mandokarla.”
“ Can Jetii be Mandokar?”
“I think the Jetii have more of Manda than they admit. The protection of children, the defense of those under our protection, the service to those we have sworn our lives to. We share many things with the Jetiise, and why our people ever sided with the Dar’Jetii, I don't know”
Satine pauses, watching him, then says “The Jetii killed the True Mandalorians.”
Jango snorts. “Death Watch killed the True Mandalorians. They set the Jetiise against us, and we all suffered losses for it.”
“You would make peace?” she presses, and Jango is starting to suspect they are talking about something else. “Even with the Head of the Order?”
If the Head of the Order ever wanted to become Mando, Jango would welcome him with open arms. The man defended his troopers, he did not consider himself above them, he dismissed officers who did. Jango’s heard the horror stories, of Republic officers and the jetiise who have found arrogance far too much to their liking, but Windu is Mandokarla at heart.
“I would. I'd like a rematch so I can kick his shebs this time around, but I would.”
Satine laughs, shaking her head, and something important has just happened, but Jango doesn't know what. It’s not her Cin Vhetin, but Satine is slipping. She won't ever return to a battle field, won't ever wield a weapon for anything other than defending her loved ones, but Jango doesn’t begrudge her that. He suspects, that by half a year, she will be ready.
“You’re using them to bring more into the fold,” Satine says, all confidence, and Jango smirks.
“Well, just a little . I would have helped them anyway, but letting them go shows I’ve let Galidraan go, let Geonosis go.”
Satine hums, thoughtful. He may not love his wife, he may never love her, but what he said to Boba months ago was true. He did enjoy her company.
His wife hands Tano a datapad, when they leave three days later. It’s for Obi, so he lets her, and the smile she gives is genuine. Tano is hesitant, but she’s been given a shower and fresh clothes and those under her care are safe. Kalifa watches him, watches every adult here really, and three days isn't enough to make a dent in that kind of wound, but the mind healer he threw in the room is handing the young woman a comm. Hahnee is a light skinned twi'lek, skin more dawn pink than some of her species, but darker hues swirled down her skin. As his personal advisor on the mental health of his growing program, he trusts her more than anyone else on his fledgling council.
She could also kill a man with only her teeth, and Jango found he enjoyed mind healers who did not see killing as a stain on the soul.
He watches the ship leave, and decides he has waited long enough. It’s time to go save his boys.
(The twi’leks learned a long time that not all people deserved to live. Centuries of slavery will warp a culture, some for the worse, and some for the better. They’re not the only ones, but they are the easiest to bring into the fold, because all Jango has to do is give them guns and knives and teachings on how to destroy a slaver. So they learn, and listen, and soon his networks and freedom trails are spanning across the whole galaxy.)
Half a year after Jango woke up at the starting point of the clone wars, Jango goes to Kamino. It has been five months since he retook Mand’yaim, four since trade started to flourish again, three since his wife stopped plotting to take back her kingdom, and two since he finally got Krell’s head. It has taken a month to prepare, with scandals armed and ready at both the Separatists and the Republic. The droid armys are going to be, glitchy, after this. You can't change the programming, their security systems are too good for that, but some slave in Hutt territory has given him a worm that does one simple thing. The droids no longer follow orders. He suspects , about just what that slave is, and if one day a droid comes to him asking to be Mandalorian, well, who is Jango to deny them?
There are, of course, complications.
Some clones give easier than others. Some barter and trade, for the lives of their brothers, for those the Kaminoans deemed unfit and fear Jango will do the same, some have to be stunned. There is no quarter for the Kaminoans. They have killed his children. They have deemed his sons unfit for life for the smallest things, for daring not to be the copies the world demanded of them, for daring to be alive . For that, they signed their death warrants a long time ago. He tags a few to be kept alive, to fix the aging mess, and to tell him what the Haren that tumor is in his son’s brains.
It goes well until it doesn't, and Jango is called down to the training atrium, where one of his sons is standing with his gun held tight, snarling at the half dozen Commandos surrounding him. The Vod is a CC, and behind him is a Jetii. She’s got two other commanders, one on each side, and behind her is the Vod’ika, a dozen boys who are so afraid but trying to be brave. The humm of a lightsaber fills the air, a battle cry Jango knows all too well, with blue spilling out in all directions.
This could go poorly.
Jango steps forward, and his son snarls, teeth pulled back like the wolf he is.
Jango removes his helmet, and there is fear in the CC’s eyes, but the lad doesn't falter, he doesn't dare, not with the jedi at his back, with his Vod’ika behind him. The Jetii guarding his son’s back is a Togruta.
Shaak Ti is someone he knows, and remembers from another life, where she held back an army of sith golem to give her people time to escape. The Mandalorians drank to her, after she died three days later, having fought that army and the Dar’Jetii leading it to a stand still. They asked her how she would like to be buried, and the Jetii had laughed, bloodied and broken, handing her lightsaber to them. “Ashes,” she had said, “Jedi come from stardust, and dust I will be. Return my lightsaber Mand’alor , let my blade sing with another.” Jango had her body released in hyperspace, letting her ashes scatter across the system she fought for. The lightsaber was returned, and Obi mourned yet another friend.
The living version places a hand on her commanders, and if the rumors are true, lover’s shoulder.
“If I surrender, will you promise to protect both the clones and the cadets, that they will not be mistreated” she asks, demanding no quarter for herself, selfless as all true Jetii are, and Colt eyes tighten.
“ General no ,” he protests, a lifetime of emotion in those words, but Ti is not looking at the commander. Her eyes meet his, and he nods.
“Haat, Ijaa, Haa’it.'' The words fall so easily from his lips, but Ti, even if she knows mando’a, does not know what they mean , so she doubts, pauses, because if she makes a mistake, it will not only be her life on the line. Patience. The vine that drowns forests and the river that carves canyons. He shifts his gaze to his boys. “Ni Kyr’tayl Gai Sa’ad, Vod An.”
I know your name as my child, brothers all.
Shaak Ti still does not move.
“No one is dying today,” Jango promises, and the Jetii stares blankly at him, facemarkings raised just a touch. Right. Jetii.
“The Kaminoans deserve it,” he says, because they aren't people wouldn't settle right, with her or the Vod.
“And I do not?” she replies, interestingly enough.
“ General ” Colt hisses before turning his gaze back to Jango, “if you touch her I’ll kill you ”
Jango decides to ignore that, for the moment, his gaze still on the Jetii. “I have been told , that more than once you have gone to task with the Demagolka. That more than once you have argued to the point of offence for the ones who are not perfect. I have been told , that for the ones you could not save, you mourned, and even smuggled out one or two, when you could.”
“And that is enough ?” Her words are a challenge, but a self condemnation as well, because this Jetii holds all those lost lives on her shoulders, and she was not given any other option.
“It has to be,” Jango tells her, bringing his full presence to bare, letting his words ring with the force in the way Obi taught him. “Otherwise the bloodshed would never end”
Jango has startled her.
Ti does not know what to make of him, and for a Jetii, that is almost as dangerous as letting loose.
“And what of our other brothers?” One of other clone commanders spits out, the one on the left, Havoc , if Jango is correct, and like his brothers, he has not lowered his weapon. They won't surrender, none of them, not until the Jetii lets them. “What of the ones dying for the Republic right now, who helps them?”
“I think that the Separtists are having their own problems at the moment. For the next few weeks at least, there will be no battles. ”
The commander on the right snorts, blitz , “and are we supposed to be grateful?”
“No,” Jango says, because they don't owe him anything, and returns his gaze to the Jetii. She will be good, so long as he has the Vod’ika, and there are much more important things he could be doing than arguing about how if the Republic’s strategy relies so heavily on the clones as cannon fodder than thats not a cause worth fighting for. Ti tenses under his gaze, but she will obey his command. “Come.”
Shaak Ti steps forward, deactivating her lightsaber, but Colt moves in front of her again.
“ No ,” he says, desperation so clear in his eyes, and the Jetii makes a sound in the back of her throat that he can not quantify. She is afraid, but not for herself, for the Vod , afraid of what he will do to those who do not obey.
“All will be well Colt.” she tries, but protection has been bred into their bones, and the spirit of Manda is a spirit of endurance.
“NO!” he snaps, shielding her with his body, as if his life is the only thing he can offer her. “No! I am not letting you go be tortured! ”
“Dearheart there are those who need you more than me. I will be fine.” A lie, at least they both think it to be one, but there is something so utterly beautiful about the way the Jetii hold the world on their shoulders, their fearlessness when it comes to dying for those who need them.
“ General” Colt whispers, and Jango decides he has seen enough.
“She’s coming with you standing, or with you stunned. Listen to Jetii, all will be well .” Jango is not soothing. It is not in his nature, but he can be steadfast, he can be honest and true and sometimes those things resonate more than softness.
Colt takes in a breath, “ I will kill you , if you lay a hand on her I will kill you”
“ Colt ” Ti admonishes, glancing between the two of them, and jango meets his son’s gaze and does not look away.
The commanders lower their guns, tense as a lead rope in summer, and Ti hands over her lightsaber, watching with tight eyes as the commando’s place cuffs on the CC’s. They may be his sons, but Jango isnt stupid, he knows that to them, he is an enemey, and an enemy with a valued hostage. No one is getting underestimated today.
Jango leaves the rest of his people to split up the Vod’ika. No need to leave them together when they could plot. He hands the Jetii’s lightsaber to a Mando heading away from both Jango and the Vod’ika, before gesturing for the togruta to come with him. The Jetii follows in his footsteps, and neither of them make a sound as they move through the city. Shaak Ti is burning with questions, but she doesn't ask them, hiding her nervousness as well as Obi used to, but all Jetii have their tells, and hers in the dip of her breath.
He does not hide his anger here. There are no baby Jetiise to protect from his wrath, and Shaak Ti has handled worse than his righteous fury, but it makes her nervous enough to choose her words very carefully.
“I would ask that Colt and the others not be punished for their outburst,” she says, when the silence grows too much. “They are fond of me, and were only trying to protect me.”
He hums in response, not looking back, and wonders if she will beg. He doesn't think so, but half the fun of this soft, soft world is seeing the differences, is seeing the steel that trauma has not yet carved into being.
“Jango?” she repeats, and there is her steel. The Jetii is quick on the update. Some never figure it out, that begging never works, that in the face of evil the only thing you can do is accept it. “You hurt them, and I will kill you”
He grins, and the Jetii does not react. “Not very peaceful of you.”
“Passion, yet Serenity.”
“There is no Passion, there is Serenity,” he replies, and the look Ti gives him is unimpressed.
“What may be Passion to some may be Serenity to others.” she explains as coldly as she dares, “They are not separate codes Mand’alor , and you of all people should be weary of misconceptions regarding a culture and a people.”
“I can concede that.”
“And the men?”
Jango lets the amusement fade from his face. “I do not hurt children”
“They are not children.” Oh, but there was doubt in that sentence, and Jango has the feeling the statement is more a question aimed at him.
“Aren't they?” he asks, letting a little of his grief slip past the rage.
Shaak Ti’s eyes are the color of freshly forged Beskar. Jango failed his sons, both of them, but what the Jetti did was, in a way, far worse. They let themselves compromise with evil. He knows its not all their fault, knows that Palpatine did not give them a choice, but then, that’s what the Dar’Jetii were good at. Cross this line , they whisper, it will be the last , but it won't. They keep moving the line, over and over, until you do not know the person in the mirror. Shaak Ti will carry all the Vod she has failed to save with her until the day she dies, and as she meets his gaze, Jango lets her know that he will be doing the same.
Gar Taldin Ni Jaonyc; Gar Sa Buir, Ori’wadaas’la.
Nobody cares who your father was; only the father you’ll be.
Shaak Ti slows when she realizes where they are going, weighing her duty to the Vod against her duty to the Republic, and Jango shifts the cuffs to his belt where she can see them. The Jetti puts a smidge more distance between the two of them, but she doesn't falter. She knows he won't threaten the Vod, but the way to a Jetii has always been with the Force when hostages are out of the question.
Sitting in a lab are six Kaminoans, all of them with guns at their back.
“I will tell you again,” Nala se hisses, “it can not be done without authorization of the Jedi”
“Well” Jango drawls, fury rising again, and the Jetti beside him held her breath. “I have a Jetti with me.”
Nala se blinks, as if the idea that Jango spared the Jetii was absurd. Shaak Ti notices that, and is not happy by it. The Kaminoan takes a breath, “Jango-”
“You can call me Mand’alor. I want two things from you, the gene fix for the clones, and for you tell me what the “aggression chip” in their head really does, and how to kill it. In exchange, I won't kill everyone on this planet.”
“No” the head scientist says. And Ka’ra was that the wrong answer , but before Jango can do anything about it, the Jetii steps forward.
“Nala se,” she chirps, sweet and low and laced with fury. “What is the Mand’alor talking about?”
“This does not concern you” Nala se tries, but Palpatine made a mistake, letting a Jetii stay here. She will not tolerate any threat to her boys, even if that threat is her precious Republic.
“I think it does.” Shaak Ti gives no quarter, and there is a part of Jango that desperately wants to let the Jetii lose. To let her slice and carve and be that deadly thing he saw all those years ago. But that Jetii had been molded by war, this one still holds true to her own limitations.
“It’s a control chip,” one of the other scientists say, and Nala se hisses something that is, not basic, but the scientist who spoke isn't cowed. “We’ve lost. I have family on the cities, and this man will kill us all for what we did.”
Nala se snarls, true nature shining through. “You are a foolish child of a-”
“Control chip?” The Jetii asks. Jango wonders if they will be taking this one home with them. It would make everything easier, the only issue being her ties to the other Jetiise, hmm , a plan slots into place, and Jango imagines how his Obi would sigh in a put upon way, but would smile just enough to be seen. All it’s takes is one, and soon the rest of the scientists are spilling out answers and truths and the day ends with Shaak Ti sitting on the bed to her bunk, staring at a data pad that confirms the chip's commands.
“ Did you know ?” She demands, and it takes Jango a moment to realize she’s asking about his participation in the program, and he needs to be careful here.
“I knew they were a trap.” Jango does not know how much his alternate self knew, and is very lucky to be in the ground, because if Jango ever finds out the man knew what the Sith would do with his boys, he’s resurrecting the man and killing him again, as many times as he can. Shaak Ti does not know how to interpret his anger, and changes to safer topics.
“What changed your mind?”
“About the Vod being my sons, or about the Jetiise?”
How to lie. His answer determines if this Jetii goes with him or not, and while he does not need her, he does not want to kill her either, does not want to spill blood when he can have a warrior instead. She is already Mando, the Jetii just doesn't know it.
“I woke up” he says, “and realized I was an idiot ”
Shaak Ti raises her face markings. “That is it?”
“Well I found out that Aurra Sing was going to have my son kill his brothers, and, Boba is a clone. And if Boba is my son, then by that logic,”
“They are all your sons”
“Or daughters, or children, or whoever they want to be. A mind healer helped.”
“You are not letting me go, are you?”
Never, but not for the reasons she fears. “No. Whoever designed the chips will use them if he thinks they are discovered, and you can guess which order they will give. When the Republic comes, they’ll find that the Separatists have destroyed the cloning facility, and all within it.”
“I see,” the Jetii pauses, then asks “Will it be a quick death?”
“Depends on your point of view, but as I promised Colt, no one is dying today. You included.”
Shaak Ti frowns. “I do not understand.”
“The boys call you buir .” Jango tells her, and for a Mandalorian that would be enough, but somethings are not yet well known. “They call you Buir Jetii, that makes you family , that makes you Mando , and as the Mand’alor it is my job to keep you safe.”
“I don't, I am not Mandalorian” she protests, face markings slightly pinched in confusion.
You are. It is one thing to be born Mandalorian, and another to become Mandalorian, but our culture is not limited by birth. Any can choose it, they just have to live by it.”
“And if I do not want to live by it” she asks, back straight and shoulders unhunched, because she will not compromise who she is.
“My wife didn't either,” he says, “we found a compromise.”
“ A Mandalorian Jedi, ” Shaak Ti questions, as if it were an incompatible thing, their two cultures, but history would beg to differ.
“You aren’t the first, and I doubt you will be the last.”
“You truly desire me that much?”
“My children do, and I think the Jetiise and the Mandalorians are much closer than anyone realizes.”
“You are not the man who died on Geonosis, are you?”
“Are any of us the same as we were? I am not the man who died that day, but I am Jango Fett, I am the Mand’alor , and I have decreed our blood feud over .”
Shaak TI shivers, though it's more likely at the resonance of his words in the Force than anything else.
“I will not be used against the Republic,” she says after a moment, and Jango does not grin, though there is little hiding his satisfaction in the Force.
“And I won't ask you to choose. Go with the boys, help my people the the gene fix, give the Vod a childhood, and when they are adults, truly adults, both you and them may go where ever you like.”
The Republic will be gone by then, but she doesn't need to know that.
Shaak Ti closes her eyes, hands wrapped around the datapad that condemned her government.
“You can meditate on it, if you like, we don't leave for a couple more hours” he gives, as Obi always did, but the Jetii shakes her head.
“I do not need to. To be a jedi is to follow the Force, and the Force commands me to follow the Vod”
This time Jango does let himself grin, “pack your bags then, you’re on a shuttle with Colt and the Vod’ika.”
(There is a Mandalorian poem. It has been translated many times, but like all things, like all stories told in other tongues, it doesn't translate as well as it’s writers hoped it would, but it was close, close enough to be sent across the stars. As flowers are grown by rain, so is the soul grown by war. From suffering comes compassion, from cruelty; mercy, from violence; peace. We are not born when we come into this world. We are born when we learn who we are, and we can only learn by being tested. Adversity is the crucible, honor is the way, and enlightenment the reward. Kamino’s capital city sinks into the sea, its scientists lost and labs destroyed beyond repair. The jetiise mourn. The senate does not. Jango smiles, and asks both sides for compensation regarding his lost children.)
With Kamino out of play, with the droid factories sabotaged down to the last, both the Separatists and the Republic decide to sit down for cease fire. It's not going to last, and Jango laughs as reports come in from both sides on the assassinations taking place and the credits exchanged and the players planning to switch sides. He blocks a few of those. Senator Amidala has fought for his boys, and his shadows in both the 501st and in the Guard have made it very clear that she is off limits. He has a small list of senators that the clones have vouched for, Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Riyo Chichi, and Kin Robb to name a few. Jango has been invited, so has his wife, as the rulers of the Council of Neutral Systems. He is also on the assassination list, mainly because the Neutral Systems were not a threat when they could not survive on their own. Jango is mostly looking forward to playing word games with whoever the Sith end up sending.
Toydaria was the planet they chose as the neutral meeting spot. Jango had opinions on how neutral it really was, but since the king leaned more towards the Republic than the Separatists, Jango was willing to let it go.
Jango’s group consisted of Satine, for the New Mandalorian, Ursa Wren for Death Watch, and Fett himself for the True Mandalorians. He was well aware he was the highest head of state cominging, that both Dooku and Palpatine were hiding behind their people, but then, a Sith who led on the battlefield wasn't truly a Sith. Cham Syndulla, who Jango liked immensely, was representing those in the Mandalorian empire, while Chewbacca, with the backing of his father, was representing those truly neutral or on the fence about joining, as a way of repaying the debt owed. Last, was a man named Cut Lawquane. Cut represents both the clones, and those who would desert their people to become Mandalorian. All of them were armed to the teeth, and ready for this meetup to turn into the bloodbath Jango predicted it would be.
“Mand’alor Fett” King Katuunko greeted, and Jango held out his hand.
“King Katuunko,” he returned when the king grasped his hand. “Thank you for your hospitality.”
“It is of no bother. The risk is worth the peace that can be made here,” the king explained, and Jango felt a stab of pity at the Toydarian. There was optimism and there was nativity . One was acceptable, the other was not . “You are the first to arrive, and I ask that you do all you can to keep this peaceful. There will be no helmets during the parley, but otherwise my people do not mind them.”
“I’ll see to it. Me and mine will behave” Jango promises, thankful that none in his party followed The Way , and the king nods, gesturing for a soldier to lead them to their quarters.
It is from those quarters Jango watches the other sides filter in.
“That’s Mina Bonteri,” Satine whispers in his ear, she too is watching while Cut and Ursa arm wrestle. Cham and Chewbacca are on the opposite side, debating the merits of terraforming vs selective breeding. Satine is looking at a human woman with dark hair and dark eyes, light skinned with elaborate silver clips. “She’s their Amidala. I have the feeling the Count leaves out a great deal of his war crimes from the senate, else she would not be here.”
Jango hums in response. “I recognize Grievous and Ventress, but not the other three.”
“The human man is Rush Clovis, who also has ties to Amidala. The zygerrian is Miraj Scintel, their queen.”
“ Slaver ,” Cham growls from across the room, and Jango nods, acknowledging the grievance. He puts the woman on his hit list.
“The last is Wat Tambor.” Satine frowns, then adds, “he should be in prison.”
“They should all be in prison,” Ursa grunts.
Chewbaca points out that Senator Bonteri is known for her humanitarian projects, and that the Separatists have a strong propaganda program.
“Point, but Satine does have a point, he got out far too fast.” Jango says, and Cham snorts.
“Maybe we can lose him in space too” the Twi’lek suggests, and Jango huffs.
Chewbaca asks just how many people they have lost to space, and Ursa loses the arm wrestle, laughing as she turns her attention to the wookie.
“Only a few, and only when asked, we prefer to stab our enemies in the face. Cleaner that way.” Ursa shakes her hand out, her smile more snarl than not, but she concedes the victory to a smirking Cut. Ursa turns to Jango, “Seriously ‘Alor, why are we here?”
Because Jango wants to see Obi-Wan.
“We were invited .” Jango stresses, and Cut snorts.
“Jango wanted to make both sides twitch,” his son says, and when Jango turns around to look at his clone, the man raises both eyebrows.
“Would I really risk diplomatic fall out to be petty?” he asks, and all but Chewbacca say yes.
Jango decides that he hates his entire cabinet, and Satine pats his arm in solidarity when he turns his gaze back to the courtyard.
He does not look away when the Republic contingent arrives.
“You know Amidala, the woman next to her is Kin Robb, and the Neimoidian is Lott Dod.” Satine says, and Cham makes a noise of surprise.
“I thought Dod was a Separatist?”
“The Trade Federation is neutral, ” Ursa spits, and Chewbaca growls, the sound low and deep and vibrates in Jango’s chest. He does not look away, and he does not need Satine to tell him who the rest of the party is.
Ahsoka Tano is taller, and since the last time he has seen her she has grown in more than just size. She walks with confidence instead of brashness, and if he looks carefully, he can see the woman she’s going to become, power for miles. Talking to Amidala, but not forgetting where he is, stands Anakin Skywalker. He’s not the skinny little thing from his world, with broad shoulders and a hint of tan in his skin. He’s bright, as he talks with the senator, but Jango knows this Jetii, knows his anger and hatred and willingness to burn the whole galaxy for a loved one. This jetii would die on the battlefield. This jedi would die for his family, self made or blood given, and all the world would pay the price.
Obi is the same. His beard is groomed, and the light hits his hair just so, giving it an auburn shade. He grieves, mourns, but Jango will have him, one day. Patience. He is the river that gorges the earth, slow and steady and with hidden depths, he is the vine that consumes forest and mountain alike.
Kenobi pauses, and then he looks up, eyes meeting Jangos.
Jango does not breathe, and in the moments that pass, Obi-Wan Kenobi signs in a code no one in this universe should know.
It translates, roughly.
I told you not to touch.
(The Force is, and always has been, based on faith . What is impossible is only defined by what one considers within their ability. Obi-Wan Kenobi watched his loved one disappear, and then with all that he was, latched on the remaining energy. But this world already had an Obi-Wan, this world demanded balance, and the general in the courtyard was neither this world’s or the others, but rather some combination of the two.)
This is not a parley. This was Palpatine putting those who annoyed him in a room and giving them reasons to scream at each other and leave with a desire to resume fighting. It’s why they are all connected.
That said, Jango does resist the urge to grin when the first words out of anyone's mouth come from Amidala, “Mand’alor Fett, it has been some time since we last saw each other. It will be nice to speak with you while not in chains or under fire.”
Kark it, Jango grins anyway, to the bristling of Bonteri, Clovis, Robb, and of course, her pet Jetii. He can see why the Vod have claimed this woman.
“The feeling is mutual Senator, shall we get down to business?”
They do not get down to business.
The first two hours are spent, mostly on introductions, and snippyness at who their enemies have chosen. Grievous coughs, mostly to hide his laughter, and his disdain. Skywalker glares at him and Clovis, while Clovis glares right back and makes a few less than stellar remarks about some of the non human allies at the table. Ventress implies Cut is defective. Robb slightly hints that he’s either brainwashed Satine or that his wife is a hypocrite. Scintel eyes both Cham and Tano like she’s at a slave market, while Tambor makes a smug comment about the jetiise and their ability to wage war.
Tambor is an idiot, because he has not seen the jetii go to war, not truely.
When King Katuunko suggests a recess for lunch, the relief in the air is palpable.
There is no mingling, not until his wife signs for permission. Jango smiles at her, and signs back, free.
Satine walks across the room, all eyes upon her, and the first thing she does is wrap Obi in a hug. He does not feel jealous. The first harvest on Mand’yaim is going to be collected soon, there are wild flowers stretching across the once burned horizon.
Jango can wait a little longer.
As with all things in Jango’s life, a domino effect is made, and the senators and generals start to spread out.
Ventress swaggers over, and ursa tenses, but Jango waves her off. There is a third reason he is here, besides Obi-Wan and being petty. Jango was a farmer. He knows when to plant his seeds, when to harvest them. This world has not had an empire in centuries, it does not know what to look for, what to keep an eye on in their politics. Palpatine thinks he is unchallenged, and Jango can't wait for him to finally notice the bantha in the storage closet.
“I'm surprised you brought your wife,” Ventress says, the title more insult than not as she watches Satine clasp hands with Amidala. She will likely not be the only one to comment on that today. “That seems like poor planning.”
“She’s my wife , not a slave . The Duchess of Mandalore has always been an advisor to the ‘Alor, though I forgive you for your ignorance.” Ventress twitches at the use of slave, scowling at his underhanded insult, and Jango wonders if she will go back to the Nightsisters. The Witches of Dathomir were like the Hutts, though smaller, but unlike a great deal of other dark sider users, the Clans did not yield to the Sith, however hard the Dar’jetii pressed.
“Dooku was less than pleased to hear about your neutrality,” she threatens, and Ventress is good at killing things, but not much else. It is as much her fault as it is her teachers, and Jango's smile is more teeth than not.
“Dooku,” he says slowly, “Can get karked. ”
Her face is crossed between offence on behalf of her master and delight that he is not cowed by Dooku. The Sith Apprentice was soft . That man had never starved a day in his life, had never known fear, or hardship. Jango’s wife was made of sterner stuff than the Count, and thrice as cunning. Ventress opens her mouth, but Jango is done.
“That man will give you up if asked. He has no loyalty, and will betray you at the first opportunity. He is a poor general, an even worse teacher, and would see a hundred worlds enslaved for the sake of his ‘greater good’. Get out while you can Ventress, when the ship starts losing air, you’ll be the first to go.”
“And go where, ” she hisses, “to you?”
“Go home . The Sisters of Dathomir would welcome you with open arms. You owe nothing to the Sith.”
“And you are telling me this for the goodness of your heart? I am not so easily manipulated, Mando. ”
Jango smiles, without crinkling his eyes, and leans in real close to Ventress. Kindness is forign to her, but vengeance, vengeance she gets .
“Dooku killed my people. I want him to see all his work for nothing, for that legacy he is so proud of to be nothing but ashes and dust. Stay and die, leave, the result will be the same.”
At that, he swaggers away.
Tano is talking to Chewbacca, Skywalker is debating helping Syndulla kill Scintel and hide the body, and Obi is negitioning between Satine and Robb, which seems to be going, less than ideal. Amidala meets his eyes, and then after smiling at Bonteri and Ursa, removes herself from the conversation.
“Senator Amidala,” he greets. Once as he gets an integration program running, she’s the first person he’s putting in it.
“Mand’alor. I wanted to thank you for bringing Satine,” she says, all false politeness, her eyes deep and rich as she measures him up and finds him wanting.
Jango humms. “My wife brought herself. The rumors must be fearsome in the core.”
“Regime changes are rarely kind to those who lose”
“And killing her would not have brought peace to Mandalore.” he stresses, because it is easy to kill, it is easy to make an enemy. Jango does not like easy.
“You don't have to kill a person for them to die,” Amidala replies, and he knows the Nabooian have some interesting notions about death and the soul.
“I have not harmed my wife,” Jango tells her cooly. Anger will imply he is bothered by rumors, guilt suggests he has something to hide. He is giving her facts, pure and simple.
“Satine was a pacifist.”
“Satine still i s one, she will never step foot on a battlefield, she will never advise to conquer, but pacifism does not mean one turns their cheek in the face of atrocities.” This Satine is closer to the jetii than anything else, but he will never judge her for that. Amidala frowns, just for a moment, but Jango sees it anyway.
“I find it hard to believe you would find that acceptable”
“A good leader does not dismiss what his people are. Satine was right . Mandalore must be more than soldiers. A nation that forsakes it’s traders and steel workers and builders is a nation that falls , sooner or later.”
“And farmers,” Amidala adds, her gaze just a touch less hostile, but still searching, still judging.
Jango gives her a smile. “And farmers.”
“The Chancellor was hoping you might reconsider your neutrality” Jango snorts at her request, letting his disdain shine through, because Amidala was smarter than that.
“With his clone army suddenly unexpendable, I bet he is. But I won't fight for a man who considers me and mine cannon fodder. ”
“He isn't like that,” Amidala immediately protests, “Palpatine wants to end the war just as much as I do.”
She sounds sincere, but Jango comes from a culture where certain participants never removed their armor. She is starting to doubt her mentor, starting to suspect the man she helped into office is not interested in serving the people.
“Tell me,” Jango asks, “when was the last time the chancellor contributed in any meaningful way to ending the war?”
“Chancellor Palpatine endorsed this meeting himself!”
“And did a poor job of selecting his delegates. Bail Organa is a far better speaker than Dod and Robb combined, and with less biases one way or the other. Mace Windu has less personal interest than Skywalker, and is a better fighter who works well with Kenobi, leaving room another senator without compromising security.”
“Could you truly stand the master of the order?”
“Jetii Master Windu is someone I would be delighted to meet again”
The Windu of his world broke planets . Shatterpoints or something like that, and he was the one Jetii the Dar’jetii feared. He was fair, and just, but their world had carved away what mercy Windu had for those who turned their gaze from evil in order to profit . This universe was so utterly untested.
“If you do not want to make a treaty with the republic, then why are you here?” Amidala demands, and Jango debates, before letting his gaze return to his wife and Riduur. Amidala follows it, and her expression is questioning.
“The senate is not a body I wish to work with.”
Amidala turns back to him. “You hate the Jedi.”
“Is a man not allowed to change his mind?” he asks.
“The man I meet wouldn't”
Fair. Jango would give her that. “That man was an idiot, and died for his hate”
“And yet here you are.”
“As the force wills.” Amidala eyes him, and Jango loses his smile. “The blood feud is over , it was over the moment the Vod died for the Jetiise, and the Jetiise for the Vod.” Amidala continues to watch him, looking for something in his face, and there is a thread there, as if she learned that expression from Skywalker, and he from Obi. Jango sighes. “How can I help you senator?”
“The senate has little time for humanitarian issues.”
She frowns at him, and Jango shrugs, but sheds some of his contempt. Amidala takes a breath. “If, if I were to give you a list of planets and people who need help , who need those in a position of power, what would you do?”
“I think the senate would take offence at my poaching.”
“ What would you do? ”
“See which ones need someone to teach them how to shoot and which ones need a hand to stand on their feet again,” Jango answers honestly.
“And they wouldn't have to become Mandalorian?”
Not yet, but there are times for the stick, and times for Muja Fruit. Jango does not need to conquer, not in this world, he just has to be steady.
“No. Not if they don't want to.”
“I don't think we will ever be friends, Mand’alor fett.”
Amidala sighs. “But I am tired of watching people do nothing.”
“Give me the list, I'll see what I can do.”
(the Amidala of his world was a Conductor on the Sith freedom trail. Again and again she led her people out of the dark empire, leaving no one behind, be they human or not, be they nabooian or not. To the Republic or to Mandalore she didn't care, so long as they were safe . This Amidala is the same. She’ll burn with everything she has, until there is nothing left to take, or nothing left to give. He lets her do most of the talking, when they finally return to the parley. Let her talk with passion woven into her words. Palatine hates her, in this world and in his, because everything he has to steal, Padme Amidala earns without trying. She is beloved , and Jango suspects people would still fight in her name, years after her passing. Jango plants his seeds, time will tell if anything comes of this meeting, but in the moment, he is content to let the senator talk of better times to come and to stare into Obi’s blue eyes, his Riduur so close and so far.)
They meet on the roof when all the parties have long gone to sleep. Obi smiles, silver in his hair from the moon above, and Jango has been patient for long enough. The kiss is long, and deep, and Jango does not want to stop.
“‘Alor,” Obi breathes, breaking away, and his face is full of fond annoyance. “I told you not to touch it. ”
Jango laughs, his grin aching against his cheeks. “Well you didn't come right away, so I'll consider us even.”
“This world is so soft,” Obi says, gesturing for Jango to sit, and they tangle their limbs together, watching the clouds dance in the air.
“Why didn't you come?” Jango asks, not hurt, but there were no letters, no hand signs, it would have been nice to know , at least.
“The idol, it was meant to override a person, and this world's Jango, well he was dead a long time ago.”
Jango has gotten very good at hearing what Obi doesn’t say.
“You’re not,” he pauses, swallowing grief, “you’re not my obi-wan, are you?”
“I am, I am , but I remember Jango, I remember both sides, both worlds. I remember all those lost loves, and there were so many reasons to stay.”
“Skywalker,” he guesses.
“And Ahsoka, and Luminara, and Vos, and Mace, and so many others. They’re all alive here Jango, they can be soft, and kind, and I do not have to watch them die. Or fall.”
“ Your head of state is a sith ,” Jango replies, half amused, half choking on relief.
“Well, yes, but I did pay attention to my lessons you know, and it's easy to start a rumor on coruscant.”
“They are so soft ,” Jango mutters, and Obi rests his head against Jango’s shoulder.
“‘Alor?” Obi asks, and Jango hums in response, “thank you, for Satine.”
“She was always worth more alive than dead, and if I had come alone, killing her would only make you hate me.”
“Does that mean my ex’s married each other?” his Riduur proposes, and Jango sputters, because no it does not .
“It was a political match , a muja fruit on a stick, and,” the rest of Obi’s sentence catches up with him, and with more caution, “and if you still care for her-”
“Then I don't, I don't mind this satine, she’s-”
“Mando. She needed her ‘Alor, but he wasn't there, and after everything she went through I can see why she said no more.” Jango says, not entirely sure how explain the duty he feels to Satine, how this world’s Jango failed so many.
“Kamino?” Obi breaches, after a moment of silence, and this at least Jango can feel proud of.
“Safe and sound. Shaak Ti too, the boys claimed her, and she agreed to remain hidden after she was told about the chips.”
“Chips?” Obi asks, confused.
“Mind control chips, in the Vod, to be used against the jetiise.” And they would never see it coming. The Force helped them sense malice, but the clones wouldn't feel like anything at all, leaving the Jetii with the Force streaming about danger they could not see.
“This other you was Dar’Manda.”
“You have no idea. I’ve my shadows getting out as many as I can, but-”
“But having a general who can add it into the medical agenda would be helpful.”
“I’d ask you to come with me...”
“I can't abandon your sons, and mine.”
“And Ahsoka, and Padme, for all that Anakin thinks I do not see them making moon eyes at each other.”
Jango laughs. “It'll be nice, to have in to the heart of Coursant.”
“It's not really an in . Sidious has been grooming my padawan, and hates the fact that in the past half a year I’ve undone most of his hard work. If I thought I could win, I'd kill him, consequences be damned.”
“He really doesn't like you, does he?”
Obi grimaces. “There's a reason I get the worst planets, and it had nothing to do with the fact I’m the best general in this army.”
“This world is so soft ,” but he’s not alone, Ka’ra he’s not alone , and that makes all the difference.
“I will admit, I am looking forward to seeing the man's face when he realizes you’ve beaten him.”
Jango snorts. “That’ll be a day.”
Clouds brush against the sky, highlighted by the moon in the sky, and Jango is content to watch the coral forests sway in the breeze. Obi is warm, Jetii robes only drawing attention to the color of his hair.
“Hey Obi?” Jango asks, grinning again as his Riduur hums in response. “think I can start a tradition of marrying my political opponents?” Obi starles away, laughing as he pushes Jango away, and Jango’s face hurts again, joy bubbling in his chest. shoves him, “I think a harem sounds very nice,” Jango continues, even as Obi crouches, eyes narrowed in pretend offence, preparing to tackle his ‘Alor.
Jango has a much better idea.
“There's a clearing, want to?”
“Oh Ka’ra yes.”
(Jango leaves in a much better mood than he arrived, even if it devolves into assassnation like he predicted. It was fun, fighting beside Obi, grinning as Amidala took pot shots with alarming accuracy. Skywalker worries, and Tano fights beside Chewbacca and Ursa, while the Separatists party flees at the first opportunity. Both sides blame each other, and the war picks up its pace again, but Jango is happy. His Riduur is here, and waiting for him at home is a meal made from the first harvest from Mand’yaim in a thousand years.)
Bonteri takes the information he gave her and brings a third of the Separatists to his side. He welcomes her to his council, and lets her see first hand just what Dooku has done, and then sends her back out into the world to speak and speak and speak . Ventress disappears after a battle she loses. Scintel gets “lost” in space, and Jango sweeps into the Zygerrian Empire. It burns, and Jango lets his anger off the handle for the first time in months. Palpatine has finally noticed him, when most of the Outer Rim is in basket, and Jango is ready to press forward. Amidala is louder in the senate, and sometimes just for fun Jango sends her proof on corrupt senators, so he can watch her rip them apart with words. She is doubting, and the moment she leaves, she will take half the senate with her, if not more.
There are hiccups. There are always hiccups with Obi. His Riduur calls it Skywalker luck, and when Jango points out Obi-Wan is not a Skywalker, his Riduur smiles, and says “not by choice, no.”
Little Ahsoka Tano is accused of bombing the temple. She didn't. Tano is Mando at heart, and like all Mando’ade she’d stab you in the face before the back. Tarkin, the Shabuir, pushes too fast, the sham trial over before the Jetiise can even mount a defence in her name. She does not make it to the prison. Fox smuggles her out, with Obi’s help, and Ahsoka Tano cries in the arms of his wife, when she finally makes it to Mand’yaim. They are happy tears, before the day is done, as Shaak Ti reunites with her fellow Jetii, and promises to continue Tano’s training.
Dooku gets two new apprentices, both dathomirian males, one strong and cruel and a little dumb, the other lithe and fast and no mercy. Jango itches to go after Dooku, to show the man a true warrior, but the Count is avoiding Mando space like the blue shadow virus. It is not long before they turn against their master, as all Sith do, but Jango watches the brothers, and wonders how Dar’jetii they truly are.
The Republic loses more jetiise. They drink for the fallen. For Ima- gun Di and Halsey and Knox and Finn Ertay and all the Jetii that Jango does not know but died because they did not see themselves above their men.
Adi Gallia almost dies. Jango is the one to find her, in the burning mess the former Sith Apprentice left behind. She fights him the whole way to a medical station, too delirious to see him as a friend, or perhaps lucid enough to remember his history. He worries for Obi, but his Riduur loves his fellow Jetii like family, and he would never forgive Jango if he left this one to die. She fights and loses her stomach to infection, but she lives.
It is Ventress, of all people, who helps Obi-Wan. They have a complicated history, and while she is very much on his list, a debt is owed.
“I didn't think you’d let me go,” Ventress says, very aware of her past, and the fact Jango would win if it came to a fight. Obi is in medical, with Gallia. They stabilized each other, in a way Force Sensitives always do.
“It's not for free,” he tells her, and she narrows her eyes, and before she can open her mouth he continues. “Take this to the Mother. Dooku will feel her betrayal, and Sidious will see the chance to rid the galaxy of a rivil. If she needs help, I'll be there.”
“All he has built to dust.”
“Just so. Bonteri is in need of a good body guard, if you want the job,” he offers, because Ventress is very good at killing things, and he needs her on his side of the board.
Ventress pauses, before straightening her shoulders. “I've killed your clones.”
“You have, and make no mistake, if not for today I would kill you for that, but you have more use alive.”
And if one day, the Vod want to take her to task for all those killed, he will let them. Ventress departs will little flair, and one more system falls to him.
Unfortunately he is cornered by Gallia the next day after the healers shove his Riduur in a bacta tank.
“Why?” she asks, and the word echoes uncomfortably. Why, why , it's never been a word Jango liked. He prefers action, prefers phrases like what’s next , what can I do , what will be done . But Force users like their whys , like to ask and ask and never stop .
There is no ignorance, only the knowledge you refuse to seek.
“Because you needed help,” he says, because Obi had buried too many friends for Jango to let another be lost on his watch.
“And what is the cost?” Gallia demands, sharp and unyielding and willing to fight all in this compound because she will not be a weakness to her loved ones.
“To remember me.”
Gallia’s face tightens in confusion. “What?”
“I think,” Jango muses, “That sooner rather than later, the senate will drag the Jetiise to a line they can not cross. I think the choice will be cross it, or let the republic down. When that happens, I want you to remember I am the third option”
“You would take us?” the Jetiii asks, instead of something like the Republic won't , or t hat day will never come. Gallia is on the council, she knows better than most jetii the growing stain.
“As a Jetti, as a Mandalorian, or both, all who come are welcome.”
Gallia does not believe, not truely, but when Obi comes out the Bacta tank grinning like fool, she softens, just a smidge.
One of his sons kills a Jedi.
Another takes his suspicions right to chancellor.
And all the world fractures. Palpatine orders Order 66, Jango releases proof of double dealing and treason and all the little war crimes committed on both sides. The senate tries to order the Jetiise to kill the Vod, and the Jetiise refuse. Even as his boys are killing them, they refuse.
Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Saesee Tiin, Obi, and Anakin all walk into the chancellor's office, the rest left behind to defend the temple.
Obi brings a live recording.
Jango, using the codes Ventress gave him, leads a team of supercommandos to kill Dooku, with Bonteri ready and waiting to take the Separatist senate.
Windu loses his right hand, Mundi and Tiin do not get up again, Obi nearly gets his gut sliced open and is force pushed into a wall. He does not get up again. He’s alive, concussed and bleeding internally, but alive . Only Anakin stands between the Sith and his fellow Jetti.
Shaak ti and Ahsoka tano raid the republic broadcasting array, and with the information stolen from Kamino, end the command. Some of his boys are stopped before they can kill their loved ones, but for some it is too late. Not all his children make it home, some do not want to live past the Jedi they have killed. Jango mourns them, mourns the six supercommandos lost, but he can not linger, for Dooku is not dead yet.
Fox takes out as many corrupt senators as he can. Those the Guard have claimed as theirs have been shuffled and hidden away. If they lose, if this must become a stalemate, the Vod will make sure the Sith does not walk away.
Grievous has been redirected to the banking clans and trade federation. The cyborg can have his vengeance for his world, and when all the pieces are in place, Jango can have vengeance for his boys.
The galaxy bleeds as Palpatine tries one last time to force Anakin's fall.
(Once, there was a woman. She looked out at the world, and saw it cruel, and cold, and unfair. She could have hated, could have taught her son to hate, but the world remains the same if you do not try. When Anakin stands before two choices, each with consequences he can not bear, he remembers his mother. Sometimes, sometimes the world doesn’t give you good choices, just choices, but refusing to decide is not an option. You pick the one you can live with, and survive it’s aftermath.)
Satine’s old allies raid Mand’yaim. They expect her to be grateful, they expect her to be broken, to be a puppet to their own desires for power. But Satine loves her people, Satine has spent the last year watching flowers grow in the fields of a once barren Mand’yaim, and Boba is as much her son as he is Jango’s, as he will one day be Obi's.
She will never again take a life, but her hands don’t shake anymore and stun guns work just as well as any other weapon.
(A good leader accepts people as they are. You do not bend the sword to be a sickle, you do not break the shield to be a knife. An empire needs healers and farmers and merchants, it needs scientists and lawyers and artists. It needs pacifists just as much as it needs generals. Mandalore, in this world, forget that. Jango did not.)
Skywalker is glorious against the backdrop of a golden coruscanti sky. He has grown, in the last year. His hair is longer, his shoulders filled, but important of all, this Skywalker does not doubt. He moves like a man possessed, eyes sharp and steady as he guards his fallen Jetii. Those watching can not turn their gaze away, as if captivated by some unseen force, as if all the world has been leading up to this singular moment, and no one dares to breath.
Obi drags himself over to Windu, does what he can to stop the bleeding, and watches as his Padawan shines with faith, with purpose and intent and desire to protect those behind him.
(What does balance mean? Does it mean light and dark side by side, equal in power and strength? Does it mean only light, or only dark? Perhaps, when that ancient prophecy spoke of balance, what it really meant was acceptance, because how can you be what you’re meant to be if you do not accept yourself as you are? What is balance, without the hand to hold it steady, what is peace without the peacekeeper?)
Count Dooku was a good man once, stern, perhaps, unyielding, maybe, but goodness lies in choices, and Dooku stopped making the right ones a long time ago. The Jango of before was a cunning warrior, as all Jangos are, but he was bogged down by trauma and hate and his own arrogance. This Jango, he gives the Count no quarter, no room to breath, but he does not allow himself to be distracted by old history.
The Dark-Saber feels so right in his hands, as black bursts against red, and Jango is so very thankful for the lessons Obi gave him. The Count was known as the best duelist in the order, and he earned that title, but Jango is younger, stronger, and of the two, does not doubt, because Jango knows who he is and what he is owed .
Faith was moving mountains long before the Force blessed her children.
Halfway across the galaxy Satine dawns armor as old as their empire. She wears only three colors. Red drips from her fingers, like blood drops, dabbled up her arms to her chest. It is a bright red, the color fresh blood, the color of Sith lightsabers and love bites and freshly bloomed wildflowers. It is the hue of passion, for good or for bad, desire and want and all the things life will not give to us. Blue drapes down her shoulders like rivers, like tears, down to her boots, as if spilling out from the footprints she leaves behind. It is the blue of the 501st, the color of Skywalkers, and it is the hue of Shereshoy. It’s the color passing legacy’s, of remembered history’s and replanted crops after summer storms and battles worth their blooded glory. It’s the color of loyalty, to ideals or family or to history, a promise of tomorrows and one day will bes. The rest is black. The shade is that of the space between stars, it is uncompromising, unyielding, the color of choices chosen and battle lines drawn in ink.
(No one will be killing in her name. When this Satine, in this world, steps out to her people, they listen. This Satine holds Mand’yaim, and not because Jango told her to, not because she’s been brainwashed or fooled or too naive to know better, but because this is her home , and she will be damned to see it burn again. She holds it, as her father did, as she did all those years ago, and not even Palpatine’s backup plans can stop her.)
In the end, no one is truly sure what kills Sidious.
Dooku dies. Jango cuts off his head, staggers to the ground, and the bond between master and apprentice snaps halfway across the universe.
Cody, Rex, and Fox finally make their way to the Chancellor. Cody shoots, Rex moves to protect the living generals, and Fox, Fox who has watched this man let his brothers die by the droves, lunges at the man. It doesn’t work, but between Skywalker refusing to bend, the sudden death of his apprentice, and the knowledge that the clones are free, Sidious missteps.
Normally, normally it wouldn’t matter. Sidious is good enough to overcome even the tiniest mistakes, and this time should have been no different, but Anakin was born from the Force, it loves him, as it loves all in its embrace, and the blade made from the hearts of stars strikes true.
(No matter the world, it is always Anakin who kills Sidious. Sometimes by his own hand, but more often than not it is his children, his loved ones, blood or chosen, who carry out what he could not. Love endures, it lasts, and the Sith hate it, because it is all the immortality they will never achieve.)
This is how it ends.
The world fractures, and when the dust settles, all that is left standing is Mandalore.
The Vod hold Coruscant. They have the senators, good and bad, and the Jetiise are too busy mourning their lost loved ones to truly see what is happening.
Jango arrives the same time Satine does, and he stares when he realizes she is wearing the armor of the first Mand’alor, and wearing it well. Taking the planet is easy, when it’s on fire and half the government is dead and the other half is in your pocket.
Not everyone is happy with his take over. Amidala, who is apparently two months pregnant, storms into his office with her Vod guard not far behind offering apologies.
“My people will not be forced to be Mandalorian,” she says, as Appo slumps in despair, and Jango makes sure not to smile.
“No one is being forced to become Mandalorian,” he says. Patience. He is the river that carves canyons. The vine that swallows biomes whole. Besides, who needs to conquer when all you need is a Muji Fruit on a stick. Amidala, and those as stubborn as her, will come into the waters in their own time.
“Would you like to come to my wedding?” He asks, before she can rant about something else, and the senator blinks, before frowning.
“I thought you were already married?”
“I am, but Kenobi is a good political match and is in love with my wife and I figured I would save us all down grief.”
It is so nice to be able to lie about that. If Amidala were a Jedi, he’d have a hell of time trying to beat her. Her frown deepens.
“You aren’t starting a harem, are you?”
This time Jango does laugh. “As much as I would enjoy that, Satine would let Obi kill me, and then take over herself.”
“Obi?” Amidala asks with a raised eyebrow, and Jango shrugs unrepentantly.
“My wife isn’t the only one who likes him.”
“No one will be forced?”
“Mandalore is better for our diversity, it is a way of life, not just a culture and language. If a Jetii can keep their heritage, then so can the people of Naboo, and Alderaan, and all the galaxy. You can be both, and at present, are both.”
The mountain does not give to the storm, but time washes it away, all the same.
Amidala is standing beside a scowling Anakin, two weeks later, as satine smiles for real this time around. Their sons are side by side, Boba and Korkie and the Vod who wished to come. Cody had given him a very detailed shovel talk.
Shaak Ti is there, with Colt. Ahsoka is splitting her time between the two Jetii. On her hip is a jaboor snippet, and her beskar armor is covered in Naboo fabric, akul teeth lining her brow.
She looks happy, brimming with excitement, and Skywalker’s scowl does not last long, not between her and Rex and Amidala.
Obi kisses Satine first, but Jango for longer.
This world is so, so soft, but it’s his .
(A month later, a droid named L3-37 comes to him with the head of Grakkus the Hutt. “I’m Elthree,” she says, “and I would like to become a Mandalorian.” which, well , how could Jango say no to that?)