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A Leap of Faith

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Exchanging grim but triumphant grins, Obi-Wan and the others ran once they had gotten clear of the Melida’s buildings and entered the surrounding fields. They had only their best guess that they were out of the sightlines of the guards patrolling in and around said buildings but they had a time limit that pushed them to rush. Even if they weren’t out of sight, the risk of being heard or seen was less than the risk of being too close by this point. 

After all, as they liked to joke: out of sight was also out of sound but not out of range! ...It was probably funnier if you were there. 

Anyway, they let their feet thump loudly against the hard-packed dirt to focus all their effort on putting distance between them and the Melida’s warehouses and encampment. Obi-Wan was pleased their latest training was working: even though they were sacrificing stealth for speed, none of the Young he was with got carelessthey remained wary, scanning for enemies in the low light and carrying their weapons at the ready. 

It was especially good to see that they didn’t get cocky: careless would be one thing but overconfident was quite another as carelessness could immediately be checked with a quick word while overconfidence usually had to be corrected by ever-merciless experience. So it was good to see a lack of brashness, they were all keeping low and sticking to the long shadows caused by the early dawn before darting quickly into the cover promised by the tall grass. It was a bit sad that they had had to teach the other children to be this wary (a bit sad that they knew how to be wary like this) but it was better than losing any of them to something avoidable.

Letting the younglings race ahead, Obi-Wan lingered at the back of the group in order to defend against any pursuers they might gain while they rushed back to their sanctuary. He and his squad had just successfully infiltrated the main Melida munitions warehouse and sabotaged it without being caught, and he wasn't about to let that change. There were no injuries, no deaths, no members left behind to the dubious mercy of the Elders because they were too far away or in a too dangerous spot for rescue.  Across the continent, another squad was doing the same to the Daan with hopefully the same level of success. 

It wouldn’t do to become distracted now. 

Besides the time spent infiltrating the Melida's set-up and setting up the bombs, the most dangerous point of the whole raid for the Young was this remaining stretch of time as there was nothing but open space and some vegetation between the Melida operation and the ruins of old Zehava. If their luck did not hold and their tampering was discovered before the bombs went off, they would almost certainly be in troubleespecially if the Melida still had working portable searchlights. If they still had those, their movements through the stubborn tall grasses in the meadow would be fairly easy to spot as the stalks' movement would give away their position even while they concealed them from plain sight. 

It was only once they were all deep into the grass and dozens of metres away from the other encampment without any alarms soundingand thus relatively safethat he allowed a wild grin to break across his own features. There wouldn't be enough time now to disarm their planted explosives, they had done it! The taste of victory tasted sweet on his tongue: unlike their other efforts lately, it wasn’t tainted with the bittersweetness of grief or pain for those under his command.

Soon. 

Soon there wouldn’t be enough to fight with and the Elders would be forced to come to the negotiation table. 

Soon he wouldn’t need to lead younglings as young as eight-years-old in attacks and raids against the Elders ruining their planet. 

The lives, blood, sweat, tears that they had lost in the three months since Obi-Wan had joined them would be vindicated and there would be peace. No more raids, no more death, no more blasters and bombs instead of toys they would be able to just be children and allow their planet to heal. 

A muffled Th-WHUMP went off in the distance followed shortly thereafter by the clang of a fire bell and the screaming of an alarm. The children and young teens he was with quietly whooped with happiness at the sign of their successful efforts: signalling the demise of the warehouse filled with weapons and charge-packs as their planted explosives went off. One of the copper-haired Melida younglings let out a breathless giggle and high-fived the ebony-haired Daan tween running beside them, high on the success of their first mission, the others following suit with any in reach.

They didn’t stop moving though — not even for their very brief celebration — as their grace period was now up. The explosion and the subsequent cacophony of alarms only reminded them of that, encouraging them to run faster. It was now very urgent that they get to the safety of the tunnels hidden in the old city ruins before the Melida came swarming to find and kill the perpetrators. 

Obi-Wan felt the thrill of adrenaline course through him, both from the explosion and from the emotional resonance of the others, pushing away the dregs of exhaustion that had been pulling him down. 

His straining senses buoyed by the surge of adrenaline (and stress) was probably what let him hear the quiet childish burbling. Slowing down ever so slightly and glancing around, he spotted what first appeared to be a large rock but that quickly proved instead to be a wiggling ball of a youngling in rough-spun brown cloth, the same colour as the dusty ground. 

… Was that Yoda?

Knowing they only had a few more precious minutes (if that) before the area was overrun by enraged Melida, Obi-Wan zigged to the left and scooped up the small one. He then drew on the Force to catch up to the other six, darting into the ruins of Zehava and the concealed sewer entrance within.

“Sorry young one, you’ll have to come with us.” Obi-Wan murmured as he ran, “It is not safe out here. I’ll help you find your family later if you have any still around here.”

He stumbled and nearly dropped his precious cargo in surprise when the little one outright shoved all of their confusion and longing at him in the Force. They burbled at him aloud, small-clawed hands clutching tightly at his clothes as they twisted to get a good look at his face. It was only for a fraction of a second but at that moment, he felt only unfathomable grief and joy from the youngling before their shields went back up.

He shook his head when he realized that he’d stopped dead in his tracks and was staring in the middle of a ruined roadway. That sort of inattention could cost him his life! Shaking his head once more as though shaking off water, he began to run again with the youngling tucked under his arm. Now was not the time to get his head lost in the stars! Pushing away his own confusion and curiosity to focus on the here-and-now, he continued to weave his way through the rubble and buildings to make his way to safety. 

He had almost caught up with the others again when they all heard the whine of a far-off speeder engine that was coming closer. They were almost out of time! It couldn't end like this, they were almost there: they should be able to make it before that speeder got to the area. They had to, there was no other option that Obi-Wan would accept. Not now!

There was no denying the sharp surge of relief that rushed through him when they finally reached the alley that hid the intact sewer tunnel before the speeder's lights reached the city ruins. As the younglings darted in ahead of him, Obi-Wan quickly looked around to see if there were any unfriendlies around. After all, it wouldn’t do for the Melida or the Daan to find them now and to be able to raid them in turn.

Once he was sure they were alone, he followed them while leaving his senses open to catch any incoming hostile minds. In the alley, the younglings were finishing moving the boxes and large pieces of rubble to the side that hid one of the entrances to their sanctuary. Obi-Wan yanked open the heavy sewer grate and ushered his squadmates inside before jumping down into the small tunnel himself. Reaching out with the Force, he replaced the grate over the tunnel: wedging it into place and moving the minor debris back on top to camouflage it. 

There. 

Then he sat down hard on the concrete walkway to stare hard at the small green being he had picked up, holding him up to eye level. Reaching out slowly with his Force presence, he offered the equivalent of a handshake to the young one. He? She? …They giggled and gave the mental equivalent of a poke back.

He was dumbfounded, not really having expected such a response.

Youngling was definitely Force-sensitive then... One who knew some semblance of control at that! 

Goodness. 

Okay. Well. This was happening? Just…

Goodness. No one even knew what species Yoda and Yaddle are, never mind where their home planet(s) was? What were the odds that he would find one of their younglings — and a Force-sensitive one at thatin the middle of an active war zone? 

He felt the panic and despair of the last three months surge in him. He was no Jedi, only a wash-out who couldn’t protect anything enough. The Force shouldn’t have guided the little one to him! He was a failure! Too angry, too emotional, too empathetic to realize when a situation was beyond his ability to help with. How was he to help such a vulnerable youngling when he could barely help himself?

Better the child had come to Master Koon, Master Rancisis, Master Tholme, or literally anyone else!  

Another mental poke jerked him out of his panic as the small one looked up at him with such trust, and then offered their name Grogu.

“Hello Grogu,” Obi-Wan said softly, in both disbelief and awe. “My name is Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

Little Grogu gave the mental equivalent of a shriek and jump at his name while their tiny arms flailed and reached out for his face, happy chattering sounds escaping their tiny mouth. Oh… well then…at least there was one Force-sensitive outside of his crèchemates who didn't think he was a total failure and was happy to see him. He held the youngling a little closer and Grogu took the opportunity to wiggle out of his hands and hug his head, clinging to him like a Syned opossum.

He turned his head to see his squadmates looking at him with bemusement, and while they had seen him much less dignified than this, Obi-Wan couldn't help how his face flushed in embarrassment as the little green tot wiggled contentedly from his new perch.

-x-

They made it back through the warren of tunnels to the blocked-off storm drain that the Young had made their centre of operations without encountering any problems. The squad that had sabotaged the Daan warehouse had made it back before them, and so their entry was greeted with raucous cheers. 

There had been no losses and minimal injuries: a very rare good day for the Young and their mission of bringing peace to their war-torn world. They sadly could not have a party even down here as too much noise might alert the Elders where they’re hiding. It also did not help that there was not enough light in the tunnels for most games, and there were no extra special drinks or bits of food to break out (in fact they must carefully ration what little they do have). Despite that, the evening takes on a decidedly cheerful tone as they all find ways to quietly celebrate anyway.

Instead of joining in one of the cuddle piles as he normally would, Obi-Wan grabbed a ration pack and split it with little Grogu, sitting on one of the mats in the far corner. While the green youngling initially turned his nose up at the offering, he quickly subsided upon realizing that none of the others had anything fresher or better.  

Normally, bringing in a new person would have prompted vetting and interviews before allowing them back to their base but considering how small and young Grogu appeared to be, it seemed to be fine that Obi-Wan had broken that unspoken rule. Obi-Wan was a little too caught up in his thoughts to be an impartial judge but Nield and Cerasi had walked over, exchanged glances briefly before nodding in simple acknowledgement and continuing on their check-in rounds. 

So it was fine. 

After eating, they sat there in silence, exchanging Force signatures and getting to know each other a bit better before tentatively opening a crèche bond with one another. Like with all Force bonds, the longer they communed like this and the more they anchored it in, the better able they were to “talk”. 

A part of himself that Obi-Wan hadn’t really been conscious ofa part that in hindsight had been so stressed from the lack of contact with another Force-sensitivefinally relaxed. He lost any sense of time after they first established that mental bond as the sheer pleasure of building and strengthening such a bond distracted him from the physical world. Instead, he revelled in the mental one as they first began to exchange feelings, then simple words, then pictures between himself and the youngling as the bond strengthened enough to support those different sharings.

From what he shared, little Grogu wasn’t sure how he ended up herein fact, he was downright confused that Obi-Wan didn’t have what Obi thinks is a beard on his face? Either that or he thinks Obi-Wan should have a very high scarf or some form of strange helmet… It was a little silly but fun trying to understand what Grogu was trying to show him. His species did not seem to see in the same spectrum as Obi-Wan’s more humanoid species did (or it was just Groguafter all, sometimes sentients were born with different working eyes than the rest of their species), and it seemed that the images were from a time when their eyes were still developing, causing further distortion of the pictures he was trying to show. 

He didn't remember visiting the crèche and seeing a little Yoda, but that was one of the images that Grogu offered to him. Considering the image distortion and that he appeared to have a scarf-beard-helmet along with being very tall (at least to Grogu), the only reason Obi-Wan had realized it was him was that Grogu had also shared the Force signatures he'd sensed at the same time as the picture. All things considered, he was fairly sure it was a memory rather than merely an idea put into a mental picture because it was too detailed to be anything but some sort of recollection.

It was strange.  

Stranger still was Grogu's firm memories of a humanoid in shining metal armour who radiated safety and family, and whom Grogu longed desperately to get back to. 

He tried to coax more information from the little one, but they stubbornly stuck to pictures and feelings, only giving a handful of one-word answers when pressed. When Obi-Wan asked for a name, he instead got the visual of a metal fist tapping against a breastplate and a shake of a head combined with a sense of duty and protection. Trying to get Grogu to show him the face of his protectorso he knew who to look forwas met with feelings of horror and an absolute refusal.

He didn't understand what there was to protect about a name or a face, but he would respect the youngling’s feelings.

On the other hand, it made it impossible to figure out a plan of action to reunite them when all he had to go off was a mental picture of a set of armour. It was true that armour like that was incredibly uncommon on Melida/Daan, but if his guardian had had to take it off or was robbed since Grogu was last with him, there was literally no other way for Obi-Wan to find him and reunite them. 

After trying fruitlessly to get some more details from the child, Obi-Wan flopped sidewise on the mat and pulled little Grogu into the crescent formed by his body. 

“Well little one, I’m out of ideas.” Obi-Wan whispered, “I can’t run around the continent never mind the whole planet in the hopes that I will see your guardian somewhere. Both the Melida and the Daan know my face as one that came with the adult Jedi and know I stayed as a Young. At best they’ll just kill me, but at worst they’ll capture and torture me like Master Tahl. Without any other way of finding them, I’m afraid that you’re stuck with me and the Young until they come to find you.”

Grogu shifted closer, then slumped over against Obi-Wan's shoulder and reached out to his face with a small-clawed hand; looking at him with his eyes too old for his young face. He must have seen what he was looking for because there was a hesitant poke again at his shields before a string of numbers flashed into his mind. A comm codeand unless he was sorely mistaken, the first four digits of the comm were an Outer Rim area code for the Noonian, Ojestor, Mandalore, Meerian, and Weneen sectors. That narrowed down things a littlewith the armour Grogu had shown him, his guardian was likely to be Mandalorian. 

Guess it was a good thing he wasn’t a Jedi anymore: going by Master Ti-nak’s history lectures, they wouldn’t likely be happy with him if he had been.  

-x-

Obi-Wan looked over the embankment again at the imposing building in the distance, trepidation making his heart race, beating in double then triple time the longer he looked. From what he could see and from the Young scout reports: the old comms building had been transformed into something of a castle keep, complete with slap-dash fortifications. While built by amateurs and clearly thrown together with what was at hand, it didn’t look any less formidable to a 13-year-old with a toddler to protect. 

To start, even just approaching it would be difficult: there was a fifty meters radius of barren soil surrounding it, leaving no true place to hide. Well, that was somewhat untrue there were rubble and wood barricades blocking the two remaining roads that crossed the area that theoretically could be used as shelter… but those also concealed deadly booby traps and were best avoided altogether. Off the roads, there were buried pressure sensors here and there that if stepped on would explodethankfully they had been concealed with ill-intent which caused them to radiate malice in the Force so Obi-Wan should be able to avoid those pretty easily. If they reached the keep itself, the only remaining entryway to the comms building within was guarded by a barbican made from old speeders complete with a vicious-looking rusty portcullis of scrap metal. At some point, either the Melida or the Daan had built a mid-sized stone and scrap metal curtain wall going all the way around: the only break was for the imposing barbican. Lastly, walking slowly along the parapets on the wall were patrolling adults with their blasters at the ready, while a pair walked around the perimeter at its base with a mangy-looking massiff. 

This was the only remaining working comm station on-planet as far as the Young knew, one that had changed hands multiple times between the Melida and Daan. There had been a deliberate effort made to keep it intact by all factions: no one had been willing to sever communications with the wider galaxy (or at least, not yet). After all, neither the Melida nor the Daan (nor the Young) had the means to fix it if it was destroyed now. Like all irreplaceable things, this unfortunately made it a prize and a frequent target between both groups; so the guards would be on high alert at all times. 

Going in the normal way without several squads to back you up would be suicide.  

But the only lead on Grogu’s guardian was the comm number he knew so in the name of getting the child to safety, Obi-Wan was willing to risk it. It took some deliberation but eventually, he got Nield and Cerasi to agree.

Something he was regretting a little now, looking at the worn building bristling with defences and defenders. He tracked the sentrys' rotation one more time before rocking back on his heels to stare incredulously at the innocent-looking Grogu sitting beside him. 

“...I can’t believe you’ve convinced me to do this.” He grumbled at the youngling who just blew a bubble at him in response. 

He looked up at the sky briefly; it was about a half-hour until sunset judging by the colours and the sun’s position on the horizon. He should get ready, it wouldn't be much longer until their small window of time opened. Obi-Wan turned around to rifle through the small duffle bag he brought with them for the long cloth ties. As he wound the ties around his limbs, securing any loose fabric tight against his skin, he grouched:  “This is going to get us killed .”

Once he was sure that there wasn’t any loose cloth to flop around or get caught in things, he quickly did a few crouched stretches to limber up, his boots splashing in the shallow water of the tributary. He was satisfied once he'd ascertained that he could still move as expected and determined that he hadn’t restricted the movement of cloth too much. That done, he then craned his head back over the embankment again to look at the facility. 

Yep, still heavily guarded. 

With a groan, he crouched and put his head in his hands. After a moment of feeling sorry for himself, he released his fear and worry to the Force then turned a gimlet eye at the excited youngling beside him. “If we die, I’m blaming you.”

Grogu put a small, clawed hand on his arm and babbled nonsense at him quietly, projecting reassurance at him in the Force. The sweetness of the gesture was somewhat undermined by him also offering half of a frog with his other hand. 

“You eat it,” Obi-Wan said magnanimously while he looked dubiously at the partially eaten amphibian... He wasn’t that hungry, or at least not yet. He reached out with a gentle hand to ruffle those long ears while he mumbled.  “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

Grogu quickly consumed what was left of his snack before he climbed onto Obi-Wan’s front, his tiny hands gripping tightly at the cloth ties that crisscrossed there.

Obi-Wan huffed a small laugh before widening the front of his tunic. “There’s no sense for you to hang onto my front like you're a Komala Bear from Alola.” He then picked the youngling up and tucked him into his tunic, moving the cloth straps on his torso slightly to help support him. “Do you feel secure there?”

He got a squeak back which sounded like an affirmation. 

Good enough.

With the sun just barely a sliver over the horizon, Obi-Wan slipped over the embankment and into the sparse reeds and tall grass lining the tributary. With dusk having progressed into evening, his brown clothes and the low light helped to camouflage him as he moved closer to the building. 

He did his best to focus on his surroundings while extending the Force as far as he dared, keeping this sixth sense attuned to the minds of those patrolling. If they should spot him then, Force willing, the alert registering in their consciousness would give him enough time to dodge and escape. 

Once clear of the tall grass, he waited until the opportune momentwhen one sentry turned the corner just as another approached from the other direction. 

For those few precious seconds, the stretch of plains in front of him was in their blindspots and he immediately took off running as fast as he could. After moments of all-out sprinting, he dropped and tucked into a ball, for once grateful of his small size. As planned, he could feel as Grogu’s mind focused and did his best to project an image of a rock to the sentries while Obi-Wan continued to monitor as many minds as he could for discovery. It seemed to work as no alert registered in the sentries’ minds and they continued to patrol. A minute or so later, their routes overlapped again and Obi-Wan got up to dart forward again. 

He was lucky that he needed to do this on such a devastated planet with few materials as otherwise a facility like this would certainly have had spotlights in addition to other more high-tech security measures, and a mysteriously moving migratory rock would certainly be noticed.  

It was a stressful thirty minutes, but at last, they reached the wall. Obi-Wan paused for a moment to catch his breath against the cool stone and metal. He also helped Grogu out of the front of his tunic to instead perch on his shoulders with clawed fingers delicately gripping his head. After all, he didn’t want to squish the youngling between his body, and the stone and old rusty metal wall. Their grace period was soon up as his mind alerted him that the sentries with the massiff were going to be coming close to the corner that led to their stretch of wall. 

So, steeling himself, he jumped up as high as he could before reaching out with the Force and kicking off the wall to get just that little bit higher. At the peak, he jammed his fingers into some cracks, wincing as stone and metal pressed and cut into his hand. 

He hummed happily to himself when he noted they’d made it halfway up the wall before freezing once the sentries came around the bend. The massiff began to sniff the air interestedly and Obi-Wan panicked as he realized his palms were bleeding. He could feel its desire to howl an alert rising from it so he let go of his sensing of other minds to coil around the creature's mind instead. He soundlessly whispered reassurances to it: friend, friend, no harm, no harm doing his best not to panic. 

However, the massiff didn’t seem to care and time slowed as Obi-Wan sensed it slow with a bark building in its chest. At that moment, he also felt Grogu catch on to what he was doing and then chimed in, passing on messages of non-hostility and friendship with an element of something else. The sort of something he’d normally sense when communing mind to mind with a predator that wanted to eat him...  

There was a split second when he thought it wouldn’t workthat it didn’t work — but then the hound decided that he didn’t care enough to deal with them and was more interested in his supper waiting at the end of this rotation. The incident had been only a few seconds but had stretched on for an eternity as the massiff moved on without alerting his handlers. Somehow Obi-Wan was convinced this was more due to Grogu’s effort than his own but was too relieved that the creature was moving along to be offended by that.   

Once he was sure they were gone, he began to slowly pull himself up those last few meters to the top and once more reached out with the Force, sensing for the guard rotation again.

With the sun now really and truly set, it was his best time to make it over the walls. Once the sentry closest to him passed him by and he sensed the other across the waysight in his direction obscured by the walls of the comms buildinghe put his hands in the crenel on either side of the crooked merlon, then pushed himself up and over; swinging himself onto the palisade.

He landed on his toes in a crouch, as quiet as he could while Grogu continued to cling tightly to his head. After a moment, he movedscuttling a few metres behind the walking sentry, looking for a good place to get down. After all, just jumping would create too much noise for stealth as they were too high off the ground, and he didn't have enough control (or strength? hard to say, either way he couldn't) to call upon the Force to help soften his fall and remain alert to the minds and emotional status of the beings surrounding him. He was in luck as just a little bit ahead was a set of cargo boxes that had been fashioned into a rudimentary staircase.

Grogu tugged lightly at his hair and called that way, followed by the mental image of a vent cover.

That way? Obi-Wan hesitated and stilled, eyes following the imperiously pointed little finger across the three-metre wide gap to the roof of the comms building. The roof was slightly higher than the level of the palisades but that was clearly not what had caught the youngling’s attention: no, Grogu had spotted a vent that was set up as a dormer, poking out from the roof. 

Well, they hadn’t identified a way into the comms building once past the wall so little Grogu’s improvisation was as good as any. 

He mentally asked GroguForce Leap or Notice-Me-Not? He then slumped a little when the youngling indicated he would power the leapas he only had practice at projecting an image, not at using a long-term mental suggestion to ignore something. The mental suggestion would also be harder for Grogu to improvise as they would be moving, rather than staying still. It was good logic, even if he would have preferred it being the other way around.

There was no time to question whether the youngling knew how to compensate for his weight and size for a leap: they were on limited time as the far sentry would be rounding the wall soon. They would either need to continue to make their way down or he would have trust that Grogu would be able to do it. Any hesitation in making a leap like that would cost Grogu speed and distance which he’d then have to compensate for. 

The leap was the more defined plan, even though it was riskier. 

...It would have to do. 

He confirmed with Grogu their plan and felt the youngling concentrate, claws prickling at his skin as he gathered the Force around them. Steeling himself, Obi-Wan went back a step before bounding forward the width of the palisade and leaping.

As soon as he was in the air, he projected the best Notice-Me-Not around them both, focusing on keeping the suggestion moving with them. He was relieved when he felt Grogu catch them at the peak of the jump, and preserve their momentum to buoy them the rest of the way. 

Obi-Wan’s hands caught on the gutter and held, his legs swinging lightly below him while Grogu then lent his concentration to bolster the Notice-Me-Not. It was stressful to be just hanging there, their entire weight supported by a rain gutter so he wasted no time shuffling hand-over-hand along the edge until they were in front of the dormer ventone hand leaving bloody handprints behind as they went. Grogu quickly scuttled off his shoulders to the roof to get a better look, then raised both hands and the screws holding the vent in place came out, followed by the cover to float in mid-air. 

Not wasting any time, Obi-Wan then did a pull-up and crawled inside before he heard Grogu follow in after him, his little feet softly slapping against the metal of the vent… Obi-Wan was mildly jealous that the young one could easily walk within while he had to slowly leopard crawl. Once all the way inside and no longer needing to focus on the Notice-Me-Not , Obi-Wan reached out with the Force himself to help Grogu replace the vent and put the screws back into place.

Then he slowly slumped forward on his belly to let his aching muscles rest for a moment while thanking the Force for all its help. Considering they were a youngling and almost-still-an-initiate in age, the fact that they had gotten this far without issue was nothing short of Force intervention. He then reached into his belt pouch for a precious bandage wrap and wrapped it around his hand to staunch the bleeding caused by the rusty metalit was a good thing he had gotten his tetanus vaccination just before coming here.

After a minute, Grogu clambered delicately over him, being careful to not make much noise to then take point and lead their way through the labyrinth of ducts. Together they quietly shuffled through the vents, peeking through grates to try to find the comms room. 

As they went, Obi-Wan couldn’t help the panic building low, deep in his stomach. There were so many Elders here. So many Elders with so many blasters! He tried to centre himselfreally he didbut the sight of so many weapons (terrible weapons that had been responsible for some of the most traumatizing deaths he’d ever witnessed) combined with the overheard angry gossip and threats made towards the perpetrators who had destroyed their weapons caches… well, he wasn’t exactly surprised when he wasn’t able to breathe his fear fully back into the Force. Little Grogu seemed upset too, his Force signature whirling with stress… It took a moment but Obi-Wan realized that their negative feelings were being compounded by all the hostility surrounding them and by the other’s reaction to it. 

When they reached a fork, Obi-Wan made an executive decision that they couldn’t carry on like this and reached out with his mind to tap at Grogu’s shields. Once the youngling had relaxed them a bit, he mentally explained his idea and then coaxed them into a sort of shared meditation.  Which, considering he had been a Padawan for only five months, he was pretty proud of managing. Over the next few minutes, they helped soothe each other’s nerves and build stronger shields by overlapping theirs together. It likely wasn’t the best idea to intertwine their signatures and minds like that, but Obi-Wan had no idea how else they could proceed so he was sure it would be fine. 

Probably. 

Grogu’s Force signature brushed up against his in a way to indicate laughter, likely catching that last thought. Well, at least one of them had cheered up Obi-Wan thought as they began to move forward once more. 

After half an hour, Obi-Wan was certain they had explored almost every centimetre of the place and they had yet to find anything aside from dust mites. Seriously! When was the last time any sentient or droid had cleaned up here? Obi-Wan probably resembled an albino Ewok at this rate given how the dust clung to his clothes. Amusingly Grogu was not faring much better, looking like a baby Iakaru complete with what looked like large eyebrows that were instead dust fluff that followed down his long ears. Obi-Wan suppressed another sneeze as more dust got into his nose, then gave a small sigh when Grogu did sneezewhich he muffled by pressing his face into a somewhat clean spot on Obi-Wan's tunic. Classic youngling manoeuvrethis was why he didn’t like to work with the youngest at the crèche, you ultimately got covered in gross body fluids and craft supplies. 

His clothes would have needed a wash regardless but he still couldn’t help but send Grogu a sarcastic “thanks” in the Force. 

They continued to shuffle their way through the ductwork, not having much luck to the point Obi-Wan was fairly sure they had gone in a loop. But it was around here somewhere, so they continued on. 

Grogu was the one to spot it through one of the vents: a small doorinconsequential looking really, possibly a closet. Likely why they had gone past it the first time without noticing it. This time though, one of the Daan was leaving it, allowing a brief glimpse into the room beyond with its console, camera, and transceiver. 

Jackpot!

Obi-Wan reached out to the Force once more and asked for its help, sensing the surrounding area for any active minds and once he didn’t find any, he began to unscrew the ventleaving the bolts and cover to hover midair while they slipped out. 

Dropping to the floor caused an amusingly large cloud of dust and dirt to fly in the air around their feetit looked like no one much bothered to clean the halls either. More the better for them!

Wasting no time, they darted to the doorway across the hall and Obi-Wan palmed the access pad. He was relieved when there was no corresponding beep for keypad password or biometric inputit was to their benefit but it was a bit concerning how lacking their security was internally considering what they had set up outside of the building. Though he supposed with how often it changed hands between the Melida and Daan, it might just be an exercise in frustration to remove the old then set all of those security features again. 

They didn’t even wait for the door to fully open before they were moving inside, pushing the door closed behind them. Grogu augmented his small jumps with the Force to go from the floor, to against Obi-Wan’s leg, to on top of a chair, then to the top of the console; in his haste disregarding how rebounding off of Obi-Wan’s leg like that almost caused him to fall. 

Selfish youngling. 

Though Obi-Wan supposed he couldn’t blame him, if he thought his comm would be welcomed by the Jedi, he would likely be in a rush to speak to them too. To be assured that they were coming and that he would soon be safe.

Obi-Wan couldn’t begrudge Grogu that, so he said nothing as he looked over the console for the correct buttons to set up an off-planet out-of-sector comm. 

Once he was sure he had everything set up, he punched in the first four-digit Outer Rim area code numbers that he remembered while he prompted Grogu for the rest. Once all fifteen numbers were in, a small holo of a spinning circle appeared while the call was placed. 

Obi-Wan expected it would take a while to connect considering what little he knew. Melida-Daan was in the Cadavine sector which was Outer Rimmuch like the Noonian, Ojestor, Mandalore, Meerian, and Weneen sectors that had that comm area code. However, Melida-Daan was on the opposite side of the known galaxy to those sectorseven travelling on the Hydian Way it still took a week to travel between those sectors at best. 

Thankfully holo calls were much faster considering they were just signals bouncing off receivers rather than physical matter travelling but Obi-Wan would still be surprised if it connected in under an hour. Though if Grogu’s Mandalorian… parent? Guardian? Friend? It was so hard to say when no name or title was given and all he had to work with were the few images Grogu shared with him… Though they could be lucky if Grogu’s person was in the area, it would be connected much faster. 

Feeling awkward staring at the spinning holo, Obi-Wan turned and wandered around the room. There was a small vent at ground level that they would just be able to squeeze into... Huh, it looked like the building had two ventilation circuits: one high and the other at ground level. Which meant that there was possibly a basement then for the building… hmm. Obi-Wan pushed away his curiosity for nowthe important thing was that they had another method of escape or at least hiding out if their infiltration was discovered. Whisking a small multi-tool out of his belt, he began to manually unscrew the vent cover — better to get ready for discovery than to do this on the fly and there was no sense asking the Force for help when he was perfectly capable of doing it himself.

With that done, he looked around the rest of the small room. There was a pile of small empty boxes, some unidentifiable odds and ends, empty ration wrappers, and a broom. Nothing really useful. He then wandered to the door and was mildly dismayed to find that there was no lockthis was looking more and more to be just a repurposed closetbut Obi-Wan did find a small access panel and ripped out a few key wires. Trying the access pad, he gave a pleased smirk when it flashed error-red and an unhappy beep. Good, they wouldn’t be snuck up on while placing the call.

He wandered back over to where Grogu was staring intently at the spinning holo and looking absolutely miserable. It had barely been ten minutes, he hoped the youngling wasn’t despairing over the amount of time it was taking to connectthis was sadly not the Inner Core with its super-high-speed comms and close together planets. 

As if to prove him wrong, there was a soft ping sound as the comm indicated it had reached its intended receiver and was now waiting for them to pick up. Grogu’s ears perked up from where they had sunk and the youngling leaned forwards as they waited for the comm to fully connect.

Di-Ding!  

“Jaster speaking.” An armoured Mandalorian answered though they appeared distracted as they were looking down for or at something. When they didn’t get a reply, they looked up and at the holo. It was hard to tell considering the helmet, but the other seemed a bit surprised to see them given how they jerked back and then leaned forward. With the closer view, their armour looked rather different from Grogu’s memoriesthough that could have just been the result of the blue wash of the holo. Had he misdialed?

Just to be sure, Obi-Wan turned to Grogu, “Is this your… dad?”

Grogu pouted and shook his head definitively, ears drooping down once more.

“Sorry for bothering you Mxster,” Obi-Wan said politely, not letting his voice shake despite feeling intimidated by the helmet’s dead stare. “Wrong comm!” Before the other could reply, he leaned over and hung up.

He did not want to be offensive to anyone’s culture but that armour made them scary

“At least we got a Mandalorian?” He said after letting out the breath he had been holding. He then turned to Grogu and gave a wan smile, trying to be reassuring. “Let’s try again. I’ll dial more carefully.” Setting up the console once more for an off-planet outside-of-sector call, he then pecked out the numbers one by one, like an Endorian tip-yip pecking at seed. Sure that the numbers were correct this time and in the right order, he placed the holo call once more. 

They waited with bated breath for another ten minutes, then the holo pinged, then dinged as the call connected. 

It was the same Mandalorian.

Kark. 

Hopefully they didn’t mind that Obi-Wan had hung up on them earlier?

“Er… sorry to bother you again Mxster.” Obi-Wan began politely, “My name is Obi-Wan and I’m trying to reach the guardian of this youngling here who indicated that I could reach them at this comm code. Would you happen to know a …” Then he floundered, he didn’t know anything about the Mandalorian they were trying to reachnot their name, their clan, or anything distinguishing. “… a Mando who is missing a green youngling called Grogu?”

Instead of immediately replying, the other reached up and slowly took off their helmet, revealing the man beneath. They were a middle-aged humanoid with flecks of grey in his short black hair, with a square jaw, some scruff, and a nose that had been broken at least once. They looked at them with eyes filled with concern.

“I’m afraid I don’t know anyone missing a foundling by the name of Grogu.” They said calmly, “My name is Jaster Mereel, he/him/his. This happens to be the code of my younger cousin Marea Djarin who is currently away on a mission. To my knowledge, she has not adopted any ad-children recentlyI don’t suppose you would be able to tell me the name of Grogu’s guardian?”

“I don’t know.” Obi-Wan admitted, turning to Grogu and asking again, “I don’t suppose you could tell me now?” In answer, Grogu patted his chest twice while he sent him the memory of a fist tapping similarly on a beskar plate and murmuring This is the Way. He turned back to Jaster and admitted with a sigh, “That’s a no… Unless you know someone called ‘the Way’?”

Jaster looked a little curious at the wordless exchange but shook his head, “They’re a traditionalist if they follow the Waythey don’t share their names or faces with any but their closest ali -family.”

Obi-Wan looked at Grogu exasperatedly and commented “You know that makes it infinitely harder to find them and to get you off this hellhole.” Grogu just babbled at him in response, sending him more mental pictures of his… whatever he was to Grogu. With a mental sigh, Obi-Wan kept trying to give more of a description while attempting to recall parts of his Giving Reports module. “Um. He has a set of silver armour and a black cape with a mudhorn insignia on one pauldron. He fights with a spear, flamethrower, some blasters… Grogu I have no idea what those are, some small bird things?… What do you mean they whistle?…  That’s not helpful youngling!”

Jaster interrupted, looking bemused by the one-sided banter, “I’m not familiar with any clan who uses a mudhorn as a symbol, but I’ll put word out to my people.”

“Your people?” Obi-Wan asked hesitantly after a moment, an apprehensive feeling swelling in him.

“Yes,” Jaster replied amused, “I’m the Mand’Alor of the Haat’Mandoadethe leader of my faction of Mandalorians.”

“...You’re a King, ” Obi-Wan said faintly, sitting down heavily in the chair as he stared wide-eyed at the comm feed. Panicked, he turned to Grogu and hissed, “We just cold-called a KING!

Grogu tapped his hand gently and pushed reassurance at him in the Force, which didn’t reassure him at all considering that he didn’t have a better idea of what was happening than Obi-Wan himself did.

“Young one, you are not looking so good.” Jester gently said after a moment of silence, “Not to be harsh but you look like you are having a rough time. It is hard to be looking after another child when you are still one yourselfeven on a planet with plenty. I would be happy to send one of my verde to stay with you until you can find Grogu’s guardian. Where are you?”

Obi-Wan felt his hurt pride swell, he was managing just fine looking after the younglings in his care! Knowing he was reacting childishly, but unable to stop himself, he couldn’t help but retort: “I’m managing just fine! I managed to get an entire crate of bacta and rations for the Young last week! We don’t want any more adults around here!”

Jaster just looked at him calmly, not reacting to the anger in his voice. He waited for Obi-Wan to stop visibly bristling before commenting: “I know well what starvation looks like. You might not want any adults around little one, but it looks like you might need one because you are in over your head.” He paused for a moment, running a stressed hand through his hair before looking at the camera earnestly, “Children are precious to my people and to leave one to suffer is an anathema of what it means to be Mandalorian. I’d soon as give up my armour then allow you to deal with any pain that I could prevent.”

"Adults are decidedly unhelpful here." Obi-Wan commented, looking at him suspiciously, “No adult outsider has tried or managed to do anything to help here before. Why would you be any different?”

Jaster gave him a wry grin, “As I said, children are the future and it is the Mandalorian creed that they are to be protected. Any iota of effort less than that is simply unacceptable.”

“I’m on Melida-Daan,” Obi-Wan replied, chin up and daring, testing the other. “Where war has been fought for a century between the Melida and the Daan, and now an army of their children and I are trying to end it.”

“AN AR-ARMY?!” Jaster spluttered, outrage growing across his features. “An army of children? Fighting against their parents?”

“Dying too,” Obi-Wan said darkly. “Have been now for about five years. And yet no Mandalorians or anyone else has come to protect them or to stop the slaughter.”

“Well. That ends today!” Jaster said cheerfully, in the same tone as the masked serial killer in the holos that Siri loved to watch. “We can’t really…” BOOM. 

An enormous explosion rocked the building and interrupted Jaster while also causing dust and debris to fall into the room. Obi-Wan blinked at the holo, confused, dazed with blood running down from his face from where a piece of concrete had struck him. 

There was now also incoherent shouting from the other side of the door and, before he could string his thoughts together to react, there’s another, smaller, explosion as the door bursts inwards from the force of a grenade. 

He hated having to rely on the youngling but was very grateful that Grogu was with him as the youngling had not been hit in the head with a rock and was not dazed: meaning that they were aware enough to throw a Force shield around them for those few secondsprotecting them from the worst of the flying metal and stone. 

“Kriff! It’s some of the Young! They must be working with the Melida!” A voice calls through the dust cloud and the area erupted into blaster fire. 

Obi-Wan grabs Grogu and gently throws him towards the vent that he had opened earlier. Then, despite the fact that he was assuredly concussed at this point, he manages to dodge almost all of the bolts with the grace of three months' practice.

The dust cloud was settling but still gave him enough cover to close the distance without the two Daan being aware. A snap kick at the elbow to the one on the left had their blaster pointing skyward, followed by a punch to the abdomen that had them doubling over winded, possibly with cracked ribs. He brought his leg up and then down as hard as he could on their shoulder, breaking their collarbone with an axe kick. The momentum of the kick had them hitting the ground and they didn't get up again.

At this point, the cloud of dust had settled and the other Daan quickly spotted him standing over the body of his unconscious brethren, which caused him to shoot wildly in his panic. Obi-Wan began to dodge once more as best he could and grimaced when he felt a bolt extinguish the life of the unconscious Daan. He would kill if he must, but he preferred to instead severely incapacitate where he couldhence the broken arm, ribs, and collarbone.

What a waste

With visibility back and the closer distance between them, he had to be infinitely more acrobatic in dodging in order to close the distance with his new opponent. He crouched, sprung up, and bounced off the walls all the while contorting his body to avoid the blasts as best he could.

He could sense Grogu’s presence in the Force as the youngling reached out, and moments later a chunk of concrete fell from the ceiling and almost landed on his opponent. 

It was his chance! Not wasting any momentum, he finished his dodge with a back handspring and spun into a tornado kick, feeling the other’s ribs crack under his foot and knocking him down. Obi-Wan picked up the fallen blaster, changed the setting to stun and shot the other before he could get back up. With the immediate threat gone, Obi-Wan’s senses lost their hyperfocus: allowing him to hear shouts in the hall as the fighting came closer. The explosion earlier must have been the Melida attacking again to regain control of the comms centre. 

After a moment's hesitation, Obi-Wan shot the comm console a few times. At this point, the Young would be unlikely to ever get back in here, and it would make their efforts meaningless if the Elders were able to contact any arms dealers to replenish their destroyed stockpiles. 

He then got down low and squeezed into the vent after Grogu, using the Force to put the cover back into place after him.

-x-

"...Was anyone recording that?" Jaster asked, once the firefight was over and the comm line cut due to the blaster fire.

He didn't think the youngling realized that he hadn't ended the call when the explosions started. He was glad they hadn't because the ensuing acrobatics and takedowns were among some of the best he'd seen from an eleven- or twelve-year-old ad. If not actually the best!

Which was concerning for a child who had no business being in a war zone.

He was also concerned though how the child hadn't seemed to register when he took a bolt to the knee or shoulder, nor the one that clipped his arm. He was very concerned that the child seemed just to shrug off a heavily bleeding head woundthis is why we wear karking helmets!   

His hadn't been how he'd expected anything to go today. His morning had started out normal enough: arranging for supplies, training, reading reports from his verde who were taking missions off-planet, and then meeting with the allied and sympathetic Clan heads to discuss treaties and trade agreements. It had been in the meeting when his comm soundedwhich given his cousin was undercover and this was her contact comm, he would always answer. 

Things had rapidly devolved from there. 

The only good thing really to come from that call was that now, well, there were no sympathetic clansonly allies. Maybe just temporary ones but allies nonetheless. Allies who were making arrangements for their own scattered verde to make it to Melida/Daan

Chapter Text

It had happened in a moment. 

 ...A great disturbance in the Force. 

It was a break, an upset, a hole where there shouldn’t be any in the smooth current of the Force. Some event far beyond imagining had been strong enough to disrupt the weaving of the universe and sent everything from its usual chaotic harmony into harmonic chaos.

Such was that catastrophic surging wave of the Force — a tsunami really — that it knocked him right out of hyperspace and sent him spinning directly into a planet’s gravity well.

Immediately after the warp came through, there followed a brief moment of insight in its ebb.

One milli-second of absolute clarity in the Force. ...Of course, none of it was understandable as omnipotence was too much for any sentient to process or understand. If he had to describe it, it was an instant of thousands of voices screaming, whispering, singing, grieving, and celebrating in an overwhelming cacophony. It was a moment of seeing everything that was happening, and everything that could happen in hundreds upon hundreds of branching futures. It was millions of new opportunities as billions of others closed; so much potential shoved into barely a second. 

Tyvokka had experienced this only once before, and he had learned that such ebbs were an indication of a much bigger wave — a greater Vision — to come as the Force bucked and resettled, ripples merging back into the current. Even as a Master of the Unifying Force and a trained Seer, he would need to be grounded before he was overtaken by the swell or he would almost certainly crash. 

Disoriented as he was by the antics of the Unifying Force, he considered it a job well done that he hadn’t simply wrecked his craft as gravity drew him down, but managed to set the corvette down delicately on a rocky outcrop surrounded by some rather sinister-looking trees.

Almost without thought, he powered down his Paladin-class ship and stumbled out onto the plateau: the Force was calling him outside, seeming to want his paws grounded in the dirt. The second they touched the soil he could feel the Force nexus deep down below, hundreds of kilometres beneath the soil — which must be why the Force was so strange and strong here — call to him in elation.

You will see. You need to See.

He didn’t have a chance to meditate on why, but the Force just about sang with righteousness that he was here. There was no time as the ebb had gone back to that ripple and two colliding currents then created and sent another wave, a greater wave, surging forth. Tyvokka only had a moment to realize what was about to happen as the Force cried out gleefully when it was accelerated by the nexus and made all the stronger.

Tyvokka staggered and fell to his knees as the second wave of the Vision hit with the force of a sudden depressurization into a vacuum. It was stronger than any Vision he’d had before, and he lost time as it overwhelmed and overtook all of his senses. 

Seconds, minutes, hours later, Tyvokka blinked his large eyes in confusion as the Vision faded, and growled softly at himself. As always, it was difficult to parse out a coherent timeline from the flashes of images and unrelated dialogue that he had seen, but… it was clear something had caused events to shift radically to the left then launched them all the way past Hoth. 

He had Seen parts of the past along with lost possibilities, emerging future opportunities, and pieces of the present. While many of the flashes that he’d Seen seemed to indicate a greater possibility of a Lighter and healthier galaxy, he also Saw moments of extreme violence. Considering slavery and piracy continued to be a major issue in the galaxy, that level of violence in a vision wasn’t exactly uncommon but it was still disturbing to catch such possibilities.

However, there were those moments that seemed to repeat in many timelines. He couldn’t tell if those flashes were of the past or a possible future, but the starkness of them indicated how close to occurring they had been, or potentially could still be

There was the Sight of thousands and thousands of blue capsules in great towers, a Venerator class ship crashing down towards Coruscant, familiar brown eyes sharpening into a stark yellow, dozens upon dozens of worlds desolated by famine and war, the insertion of a cranial slave chip into a fetus, a duel between three sinister figures all wielding red lightsabers (two of which were even double-bladed!) along with lightning while cloying darkness all around to obscure any identifying details — and several different instances of the Temple destroyed in assorted alarming ways with familiar figures strewn about as corpses. 

His home burned so many times, a place of Light reduced to a place of pain and loss. 

He was disturbed to see how many likely possibilities there were of his home and his people dying within his lifetime. Especially when the Force did not have the kindness to show him who was responsible so he might preemptively remove their limbs

Tyvokka couldn’t help but let out a trilling challenger’s roar, daring an opponent to come to try him — breaking the almost-peaceful silence of the plateau and the nearby forest — and sending nearby chirodactyls screeching into the air. After a moment he caught himself and let it trail off into a disgruntled chuff. 

Ugh. 

He needed to calm down before he ran into any local sentients of whatever planet this was — for a Jedi, it was a bit embarrassing how often he let his temper get the better of him. While Wookies did have a bigger prefrontal cortex with greater catecholamines production and less serotonin — which was helpful as a predatory species — he was more than his base instincts and as a Lightsider and Jedi, it was important for him not to give in to his rage.

But with the Temple burning…

Maybe a little limb removal? Just to ensure that those planning on destroying his people did not touch the cubs! Also so that they would not destroy their Elders or desecrate their history, but especially so they would not intrude on their most vulnerable in the crèche.

Not. The. Cubs. 

On the other hand, whenever he or Master Sifo-Dyas had advocated for a pre-emptive strike based on a vision, Master Yoda became rather insufferable. While the future was always in motion, Tyvokka could only feel terrible helpless grief when events unfurled as they had Seen; some terrible events that they could have prevented but hadn’t on the chance they would make them worse due to the lack of context. He respected Master Yoda and was sure the Order’s Grandmaster had many reasons for his distrust of visions and reluctance to act upon them — who knew what he had seen unfold over 900 years of life…

But, the Force granted some of its children the ability to See and what was the point in sharing such warnings if not for a reason? Granted, they always lacked context as they were but a snapshot of time, however that was why they shared their knowledge with other Jedi. That was why they had a Council! So that the wisdom of the many could be used to guide them on the most sensible path forwards!

After one aggravating debate following the Patitite Pattuna debacle, the venerable Elder had pushed a Padawan on him: hoping that the youngling would curtail some of his insistence with visions and his more… violent instincts towards preventing them.

Though the joke was on him! Yoda must have forgotten how protective Wookies were of their young — considering the dangers of Kashyyyk, each cub was cherished. While Plo had certainly tried to help when Tyvokka was pushed too far, whenever his youngling was involved, all bets were off. 

In fact, he was sure that back at the Temple, Plo was making that face without knowing why. The one that said Master, no in the judgiest way possible. Tyvokka had found throughout his time as Plo’s Master that Kel Dors as a species were masters at being subtly judgy. His Plo especially — it was all in the tusk movement. Worse still was that no one believed him! Supposedly his former Padawan was too humble and polite to be so snarky.  

The clever conniving brat… he was so proud.  

But his vision… Tyvokka ran his tongue over his canines as if to scrape the bad taste away left behind from what he had Seen. 

What to do? 

It was a terrible idea to ignore warnings from the Force, even when it was not generous with the details. However, there was nothing he could take action against right now. He couldn’t make sense of most of what he had seen — too many unfamiliar places and beings, while what he had understood had clearly not come to pass yet.

He needed more pieces of the puzzle.  

After a moment, he decided to send a comm back to the Temple. He was sure that other Seers — especially Master Sifo-Dyas and young Knight Windu — were probably equally disoriented with the suddenness of new pathways opening while others had abruptly closed, and from shatterpoints snapping and reforming. It would be good to check in to ensure their health and to also determine if they had Seen more than him.

Running his paws over his bandoleer and ensuring everything was in its correct place, lingering briefly over his lightsaber, Tyvokka grabbed his comm and placed it on one of the struts of the Paladin corvette to record. Grumbling to himself when he had to squat slightly to be fully in the frame — only the Force knew why there never were any convenient ledges around to accommodate for a Wookie’s height when he needed one — Tyvokka used the Force to push the button to record. 

<Greetings my former Padawan! I hope your offer of apprenticeship of young Lissarkh went well.> He began politely, before turning to the reason he was recording a message. As much as he wanted to let Plo know everything that had happened since taking this mission, recording too long of a holo would result in the data packet taking weeks and weeks to send. Which in turn would render it useless in the long run. <I had a disturbing vision, one that I think could have also hit other Seers at the Temple... Given its alarming content — among other things, the Vision the Force shared included the destruction of the Temple many times over — I recommend mandatory mind-healer check-ins for any who experienced it.  In my place, could you check in with the Council to see if they need help along with your friend Windu and councilmember Sifo-Dyas? While I shall still do the supply drop on Taris, I am also going to attempt to investigate some of what I Saw further. I would like more details, especially if others Saw anything that would be related. I will submit a more detailed report via uncoded text to the Council and will comm you with an update once I have news.>

He hit the stop button with the Force, not wanting the message to be seconds longer (and thus take longer to send) due to him walking over and doing it manually. Reviewing the message, he nodded to himself as he hit all the salient points in about a minute, so he sent the comm to Plo. 

That done, he then began the tedious work of inspecting the cargo and the almost one hundred metre long craft for any damages caused by his unexpected landing. 

Given how the Force whispered at him to delay leaving, there was something likely damaged — possibly life-threateningly so — given the sense of urgency that it pressed him with.

-x-

The first hour passed without disruption as he looked over the engine room and all the cables running through it, paying special attention to the comparatively delicate hyperdrive. Once he confirmed that the engine was undamaged, that the life support systems were intact, and that there were no leaks of any kind, he progressed to checking over the precious cargo he was carrying: rations, emergency shelters, medicine, bacta, bandages, blankets, devices for filtering water, and the like. 

Tyvokka had been in the sector dropping off several Shadows and checking in with others near Zygerria when the call for nearby pilots went out from Bonadon. The shock-ball championship game of the Bonadon Blasters versus the Taris Hawkbats had been cancelled due to a terrible earthquake that had rocked the planet Taris one day before. In what was almost certainly a political and public relations gesture (at least partly), the Bonadon Blasters had since organized and held a fundraising event to get supplies for the planet of their opponents and now had 800,000 credits worth of supplies to get to Taris.

Given the need and how the Force cried out, Tyvokka delayed his return to Coruscant to do the supply runs along with several other ships. This shipment was the last of six he had run, and he was thankful how thorough the droids and wharf workers had been when loading up his corvette. The dozens of crates and smaller boxes had all been adequately secured so that everything had remained in place during the rough landing and nothing breakable was damaged though their boxes had certainly been rattled and scuffed.

Once he was sure that the interior of the ship was safe and secure, he began to carefully check over the exterior. The urgency in the Force was ramping up and given that he’d found nothing inside, whatever was wrong must be on the outside. He would need to look for any small hull breaches that could worsen from pressure changes and any damage that could evolve into a breach from the pressure of breaking through the atmosphere.  

He ran his big paws along the surface, trusting the sensitivity of his skin along with the Force to identify any possible minute damage more than he trusted his eyes. Like many predatory species, Wookies were far-sighted so close details were hard for him to see — something that was compounded by the hazy mist and the minimal light provided by the nearby red dwarf star. 

He had finished carefully checking over the underside and the port side when disaster struck just as he started to inspect the nose. 

And by a disaster, he meant a cluster of spiders. 

He wasn’t injured only due to having noticed a moving shadow in the shiny durasteel of the corvette; any warning from the Force was obscured by the ever-growing sense of urgency and danger. Within moments of noting the movement, Tyvokka’s instincts took over — causing him to spin around and ignite his great lightsaber in one movement, the yellow blade quickly hissing out into its full two-metre length just in time to cut the creature jumping at him in twain.

That wasn’t just mist between those creepy trees, but also webbing!

Tyvokka gave a throaty grumble that transitioned to a challenger’s roar as he made quick work of the three adult bane back spiders and two juveniles that sought to make a meal out of him. The creatures were ferocious predators in their own right, but Tyvokka had sharpened his teeth and claws against the wyyyschokk, spiders of a similar size and strategy from his home planet. While they were strong and their numbers were obnoxious, the bane backs were no match for a frustrated Wookie. 

He used a lunge and slash to slice off the hairy legs from the last one and to put it out of its misery. Once he was sure all his attackers were dead, he closed his eyes and extended his senses. He noted there seemed to be another larger cluster to the east, harrying five muffled Force signatures that were fleeing from them.

Well, then. As a Master of the Order, it was only right that he offer them his assistance and help dispatch the foul creatures. 

It wasn’t that his blood was up and was seeking a challenge.  

...Passion yet serenity.

-x-

An explosion heralded his entrance to the clearing, along with the death screams of several spiders as they were caught up in it. 

His experience as a Jedi Sentinel served him well here as he was able to take in the situation in a fraction of a second. There was a humanoid in Mandalorian armour fighting off a full-grown bane back with a vibroknife while it tried to knock him to the ground with its forelegs. Behind him were three younglings whom the warrior was clearly protecting; the cubs were doing their best to hide and stay out of the way. Then, the fifth figure was a pale humanoid female with a long cloak… the Force around her was warped and spread thin in odd ways, seeming to feed the glowing green magic that surrounded her.  

Tyvokka got a sinking feeling in his gut as a spark of recognition made itself known and began to grow into a full-blown realization. What really clinched it was when she briefly turned her face towards him, allowing him to see below her hood to her tattoos and her eyes that were glowing an acid green... 

Kark.

He should have put the pieces together sooner — red dwarf star, hazy atmosphere, force nexus, the sinister feel in the Force along with the chirodactyls and bane backs — he was trespassing on Dathomir

He didn’t let his moment of realization slow him down or prevent him from acting, plowing through the vicious and bloodthirsty arachnids; nodding in what he hoped would be interpreted as a friendly manner at the Nightsister.  

Tyvokka was neither Diplomat nor Jedi Consular, and did not know if that sort of minimal greeting would be enough to counteract the offence that his unintentional trespass would cause. He was a Sentinel and a Wookie Sentinel at that — if his attempts at courtesy were insufficient, surely his assistance protecting the cubs and rending her enemies from their limbs would be sufficient proof of his intentions. 

Maybe he would even be able to strike up a temporary alliance with her! For all that he preferred a fight; when it was against other sentients he much preferred to resolve things peacefully.

The next few moments passed in a blur as he sliced and stabbed as many spiders as he could, the remaining cluster numbering at least ten full-grown bane back spiders and several dozen juveniles. He set himself up as an immovable wall to guard the backs of the Mando warrior and the witch, and to keep the scared cubs behind them safe. 

He easily cut down two of the juveniles looking to flank around him while kicking a larger one back. In a classic arachnid threat display, the adult bane in front of him lifted its front two legs with its pedipalps fully extended into the air and its thorax lifted, ready to bite. Tyvokka bared his teeth and roared back, his blade a yellow blur around him — thoughtlessly driving off the smaller spiders while focusing his attention on the greater threat. 

He had learned in the dense forest of his home planet how quickly such creatures could move and was prepared for the spider lunging forward, looking to knock him down and bite. Instead, it got a lightsaber through its gut and a vicious Force Push into the cluster swarming the Mando. 

Tyvokka couldn’t really tell given how beskar muffled the Force and how the warrior was covered head to toe in the stuff, but they seemed relieved at the reprieve, though baffled at where the flying bleeding spider had come from. Despite their possible confusion though, they were quick to react and turn their flamethrower on the pile of downed creatures; the unfortunate scent of burning hair spreading throughout the clearing. Tyvokka scrunched his nose in disgust as the stench mixed with the already terrible smell of bog, grumbling to himself as his sabre caused other burns and further added to the smell. Oh to have been more an omnivorous species with less evolutionary reason to have a sharp nose!

Within a few minutes, they dispatched the last of them, leaving carcasses all around the clearing in death curls or in pieces. Just to be sure, Tyvokka reached out with the Force to confirm that all nearby hostile creatures had been dispatched before extinguishing his sabre and turning towards the others.

The Mando was collecting lost knives along with — was that a beskar spear? — and wiping blood off their armour with leaves while the Nightsister looked him over, inscrutable. Well, he was not going to be the first to break that silence as while speaking simplified Shyriiwook increased the chances of being understood by non-Wookies, but it also meant his already poor diplomacy skills would be worsened due to having to use less precise words. So he would let her speak first — she might appreciate the courtesy given how Zabraks tended to have a strict hierarchy; it wasn’t any fur off his back if it did matter. Especially considering that he would need to choose any words with careful consideration to avoid bringing the witch’s wrath down on him — one allied with a Mandalorian at that — something that was easier to do when replying than with giving the opening gambit.

Instead, he chose to look over the cubs for any injury: crouching down to bring his 2.3 metre height closer to their 1 metre height as he pulled out the small kit from his belt. He gave a quiet chirring sound and gestured with the pouch while he looked them over — they looked to be just past the age of weaning considering their small and similar heights along with how their stripes were just starting to form and darken. Perhaps four or five standard years if they age at the same rate as most humanoids? 

The smallest yellow one was peeking around the side, hiding shyly behind the protective posturing of the bigger yellow one while the red cub was looking at him like he hung the stars. It took a little coaxing and looking nervously back at the Sister for reassurance before they would let him get close enough to use bacta and bind their small wounds. it was predictably the bravest cub who volunteered first, his mouth splitting into an enormous grin that showed off fangs that were almost too big for his mouth as he introduced himself. “I’m Mauw! You’re reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwy big.”

<Nice to meet you Mauw. I am very big, I am a Wookie.> Tyvokka agreed absently, carefully noting and cleaning wounds that he found hiding on bright red skin. <My name is Tyvokka.>

“Tiwooa?” The smallest one tried, though was unable to get the “v” or “k” sound. Their head poked out from under their brother’s arm though his body was still hiding behind the other, but braver now that Mauw hadn’t come to harm.

Mauw scoffed and corrected, with all the absolute certainty of a cub who had just learned something and was now an expert: “Not Tiwooa Fea, it’s Tiewoca.”

Well the cub had managed a harder “c” sound, but it was still quite a ways off his name. <You may call me “Ty” young cubs.> He said as he was wrapping a gash on a bony wrist and covering one on their shoulder with some gauze. Nodding to himself, he then gestured to the next boy.

The protective one still eyed him wearily but moved closer, keeping his body between Tyvokka and the shy one, and then gently pushing his other brother back with a hand on his stomach. His eyes didn’t leave Tyvokkas as he said to the other two boys: “You gotta woo’ aftew Fea.”

It was only after the other sighed resignedly before retreating back and took over his position that the biggest of the trio came within arm’s reach. This one was worse off than Mauw, possibly from having done his best to protect his brothers. Tyvokka carefully unwound a triangle bandage and secured the cub’s left arm in a sling, supporting the broken limb before breaking an insta-cold pack. 

“Thank you” A singular echoing voice ringing with the voices of thousands, caused Tyvokka to jolt as he packed the sling with the cold pack, placing it near the break to reduce the limb’s swelling. He had almost forgotten about the witch in his haste to ensure the young ones were looked after. That could have been a lethal lapse in judgement… still could be probably. 

<Sorry for trespassing.> He warbled carefully, making sure to enunciate each sound and to use the simplest words possible, <the Force was weird and knocked my ship out of hyperspace. I will leave as soon as I’m sure it is safe.> As he spoke, he gestured gently at the last boy and was pleased to determine that he only had a sprained ankle which was quickly wrapped.

Leave? No. Not yet.” Her eyes glowed a sick green as she spoke in a thousand whispers, each syllable leaving her mouth a fraction of a second behind her twisted mouth curling to make it, the delay and the sound sending shivers down his spine: “You shall not leave this planet alone.”

Tyvokka pushed past his… repulsion at her frightening use of the Force to focus on the last word. Alone? He looked over at the Mandalorian who was standing nearby but to the side, watching the drama unfold. Perhaps they were male? The Nightsisters were known for disliking all trespassers, but being particularly inhospitable to the ones who identified as male, <The warrior needs a ride off-planet?> He asked curiously.

“Not just the Mando.” She said, her voice a tapestry of sinister hisses, “These are my sons, the curious one is Maul, the protective one is Savage, and the skulking one is Feral.”  — Ah, Maul not Mauw. He should have noticed them struggling with the “l” sound as well. — “They are triplets born on a blood moon, an auspicious sign for all that they are male. I need passage on your ship for them.”

Tyvokka couldn’t stop the grimace that raced across his features, though hopefully none of them were familiar with Wookie and would not notice. He adored cubs of all ages and sizes but it was not his idea of a good time being trapped in small quarters with three cubs for days on end who were upset for having been separated from their dam. At least a week in close quarters with crying, screaming children?

No thank you. 

Not that his dislike of the idea would stop him, not if their lives were in danger. Though on the other hand, where would he even be delivering the boys to? The cubs were Force-sensitive — their little glittering lights glowing with potential and possibility — but that did not mean anything. The Jedi took in children who were voluntarily surrendered (not coerced) or who were being abused and did need to be forcibly removed. Without evidence of the latter, he would absolutely need to get permission from their dam (or their sire if he still lived). 

Considering their two different Force traditions co-existed more or less magnanimously even with their mutual distaste for the other's beliefs, he would be very surprised if this witch wanted him to bring them to the Temple. After all, Dathomirians were more inclined to use the Dark Side of the Force: given that the planet on which they lived was a Darkened nexus in the Force and they grew up surrounded by its currents. While he was sure a Dathomirian Zabrak could certainly embrace the Light side and its teachings, it was harder for them to do so.

So where were they to go? Had the Mandalorian declared them their foundlings and apprenticed the cubs? He did not particularly want to go to the Mandalorian sector if it could be avoided considering the poor reception of Jedi there. 

So many questions… well, he wouldn’t find any answers without asking.

<You would not come?> He carefully asked. <And where are the boys to go? Has the warrior taken them on?>

She turned her face up at him, her eyes eerily glowing without any sign of pupil but despite that, he got the sense he had surprised her. “You — a saintly Light Council Member she sneered, her voice echoing without a single syllable distorted, “you would allow a Darksider Witch on your vessel? We are not unaware of what you damned Lightsiders think of us!”

<Just as I am aware of what Darksiders think of us.> Tyvokka shrugged, feigning casualness despite the very literal sparks coming off the woman before him, <If you want to come, I would not separate cubs from their dam, or their sire if they are around. I would also prefer not separate mates if you are a pair.>

The woman froze for a moment and then whipped her head around to look at the Mando. This time when she spoke, Tyvokka was fairly sure he heard elements of her real voice rather than the Dark Side channelled through her. “M-mated? Surely not! The warrior was marooned on this planet and happened upon me after I had stolen Maul away. He helped me collect the whelp’s brothers as well.”

<Steal them away?> Tyvokka rumbled, confused. <The boys were not in your care?> He paused and then realized something. <You would have only taken one?!>

The witch sneered at him, showing off rather pointy incisors and Tyvokka barely managed to wrangle his instincts to avoid responding in kind. “Maul was the one in immediate danger! He was chosen by Mother Talzin for the great honour of being given as a servant to an outsider. She feared the power that a unified triad of whelps could wield — if only they had been born female, the clan would have celebrated for months. But as they were male, their bonds were to be broken as quickly as possible — one destined to serve, one to be sacrificed, one to breed the next generations of Sisters. I managed to give them four years together, but he was to have come yesterday to collect Maul. I had managed to steal him away and when Mother Talzin was distracted by her guest not showing up, I returned for the other two.”  

Tyvokka didn’t really know how to address that confession so he returned to the earlier conversation, <You would be welcome on my ship. I only ask for your word that you would not bring harm.>

I cannot promise that.” She whispered softly, the darker tones of Force still ringing over her words, but the voices of thousands vanishing. “Mother Talzin will be furious upon finding out what I have done.”

<We do not want to fight with your people.> Tyvokka said slowly, <but it is our way to help when we can. And I can.>

She stared at him incredulously, the green fading slightly from her eyes, allowing him to see the outline of her pupils for the first time. 

“Sorry to interject,” came a dry voice, that was also clearly not sorry. Tyvokka turned to look over the Mandalorian who was standing surrounded by the cubs who were now happily chewing on a broken up ration bar.  “But as a pursuit is a concern, we should get out of the open.”

Tyvokka looked between both of the adults, trying to get his sincerity across <We can determine the details later. Let us get you to safety first.>

Very well .” The witch replied while the Mandalorian nodded, that sinister Dark edge finally leaving her voice, “if we are going to be stuck in close quarters for some time, you may call me Kycina.” She began to turn as though to walk, however, as soon as she stopped channelling the Force and the green left her eyes fully, Kycina was instead falling to the ground in a dead faint. 

The Mando was right nearby and managed to catch her before she hit the ground, the boys peering around the Mando at the woman who should have been someone to them (she had called them her sons but was she their mother?) but appeared to instead be a stranger given the lack of emotional reaction. 

“She’s hurt.” He commented, steady hands going immediately to check on bandages hidden under her cloak and tunic. “Some of her aliit caught up with us before and did some damage before we dispatched them.”

<We had better hurry then> Tyvokka replied quietly, crouching to pick up the unconscious woman. 

He was surprised when the other nodded, and quietly asked “I can carry one of the foundlings, maybe two. Can you carry another while also carrying her?” 

<Yes. Maul, climb up on my shoulders.> Tyvokka said as he remained crouched, holding Kycina close to his body. When the cub didn’t move as he instead looked at him with confusion, the Mando then repeated his instructions in simple Basic. With a whoop, the boy quickly and gleefully clambered up, his fingers clenching tightly in his head fur. Once he was sure the boy was secure he stood up and was satisfied to see Feral was already perched on the Mandalorian's shoulders while Savage clung to his back. 

<My ship is this way.> He said as he started to walk, and was pleased that he didn’t need to slow his stride too much for the other. If other Nightsisters were after the children and Kycina, it would be bad for them to be caught in the open — especially when neither of them had a hand free for their weapons. 

-x-

They made it back to the ship without incident, moving as fast as they could through the disturbing woods: the clinging webbing gripping at their limbs with the clicking of the spiders calling to each other and the occasional screech of a chirodactyl ringing in the air around them. 

Despite there being nothing to indicate pursuit, by the time they were back at his craft and he was inputting the hatch’s access code, Tyvokka’s fur was standing on end from the Force’s warnings. It kept increasing in urgency with each step and he struggled to go through all of the pre-flight checks without skipping any steps (crucial when it came to leaving the atmosphere) as the Force seemed to shriek in his ear. 

But they made it off the planet without issue.

However, it was only once Tyvokka reentered the coordinates for Taris and they went back into hyperspace that the Force stopped screaming of danger. Sighing in relief, he carefully checked over the console and ensured everything was as it should be before he went back to check on his impromptu passengers and guests. 

He found them all in the small crew quarters that also doubled as a med-bay; Kycina was lying unconscious with the boys nearby. The boys were conked out on one of the cots, with the protective shield engaged overtop of the bunk — to ensure if the artificial gravity failed or sudden manoeuvres were necessary that the ones sleeping would stay in place. It also had the benefit of keeping the boys in place if they woke up rather than getting up to trouble in the ship.

Kycina lay in the other cot. Seeing the intimidating witch lying on the small cot, strapped in, hooked up to an oxygen mask, a hydration IV, and with fresh bandages applied to her injury made her much smaller compared to the imposing figure she had cut before. The straps were for her safety as the shield could not engage with the medical tubes in the way, but they could be quickly released when she awoke.

But that left him with only the Mando for company on the few days-long trip to Taris.

The other sentient seemed to have a tendency to be quiet and thoughtful: truly one of few words. When he spoke though, what he had to say was always useful and succinct. Or so far at least. Tyvokka appreciated that as all too often he was surrounded by beings who would bandy words about for fear of offending him and who would irritate him instead by wasting his time! So the forthrightness of the other was an unexpected boon — along with his skill of looking after cubs.

But now there was nothing that needed saying and all that was left was quiet.

Just for the sake of something to do, he took off his bandoleer and began to take inventory: delicately taking each item out of their pouch or holder for counting and cleaning. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the Mando jump when he delicately placed his great sabre on the table.

Tyvokka did not mind the quirks and needs of other sentients and cultures — after all, he too needed accommodation sometimes so why would he begrudge others — but there was something a little unnerving about someone who had not (and possibly would not) disclose their name or even a nickname. Especially one who now seemed all too focused on his sabre.

He was a Sentinel, someone who wandered into the most lonesome and desperate corners of the galaxy. He had encountered many opportunists, extortionists, and backstabbed over the years; and one of the first signs was that they would not give their name.

Tyvokka was a Jedi though and would withhold judgement — though he would not drop his guard.

Hopefully, the Mando was of the second rarer sort — the kind to not give their name to protect someone else rather than themselves.

He seemed fine though, Tyvokka could save any questioning for later.

-x-

Din was not fine. 

How had he ended up on the other side of the galaxy from where he had started? They had been in orbit near Mimban over in the Expansionist region and somehow only he had magically ended up on-soil on Dathomir in the Outer Rim?! Those were dozens of lightyears apart! Even with a hyperdrive, it would have taken at least 5 days if not longer to travel between them. But there he had been, watching the monitor with his foundling beside him, waiting for death-by-Dark-Trooper when he blinked and *Poof*

Dathomir. 

No ship, no resources, and alone.

Where was Grogu? Boba and Fennec? Cara? Even those obnoxious gatekeeping Mandos Bo-Katan and Koska? (He ignored the presence of Gideon, whatever had happened to that man was likely deserved unless he survived it to come after him again).

They had rescued Grogu, things were looking up! How in the ka’ra did he travel billions of kilometres in the span of an instant? How did he leave everyone else behind?

He did his best to exude an aura of calm as his thoughts raced away — he had learned early on with Grogu that the foundling would wake up if he started to panic and he did not want to wake up the boys or the woman who might be their birth buir (or their adopted one)? … He honestly wasn’t sure what was going on there as the explanation had been derailed by those other witches attacking. He had helped at first because he didn’t like what the attacking Sisters had said and threatened about the young Zabrak boy Kycina had been protecting. Then he helped again when she had gone back to the little ramshackle village as he hadn’t liked the look of where the ad’e had been and honestly would have tried to take all the little sad looking waifs with him if he could. He still made a note of his coordinates so that he could return with Boba and the others (if they had survived) to offer a way out to the Nightbrothers. Then he had helped again, escorting her because she surely could not protect three ad’e on her own when there were predators and local beroya after them. 

And now he was here. 

He was glad to have helped Kycina rescue her… ad’e or foundlings — the young are the future, this is the Way — but he was more grateful to the Wookie for getting them off-planet. After all, if he could get to a spaceport, he could make his way back to his aliit

Or at least that was the logic that had led him to get onto the craft.

Now though, he didn’t know what else to do. A Wookie with this size of ship and confidence to travel alone with such precious supplies must be very well connected to have avoided the Empire’s brutal enslavement and genocide along with avoiding getting caught up in prejudiced transportation laws. Maybe Tyvokka would be able to get him into contact with some of the New Republic or an encrypted comm to reach out to Boba or Cara.  

Maybe he would even be willing to put him in contact with the sentient responsible for such a sizeable stockpile of supplies so that Din could do the same from his covert one day (if he ever found them again) and they would finally have enough, maybe even extra supplies!

...And then he saw the strange metal cylinder being placed on the table, one so much like the one that was now in his possession... He had thought Bo-Katan had said the Dark Sabre was the only one of its kind in the galaxy, used for identifying the true Mand'alor of their people. 

But here was another one.

Now that he thought about it, he remembered that the other had been using something like the Dark Sabre on planet... Did Wookies also use a strange light sword for determining who ruled their people? Did that mean Tyvokka was the King (?) of the Wookies? They would certainly have kept that information quiet considering how much the Empire hated them, so it would make sense that it wasn’t common knowledge. He vaguely remembered in the fight that the blade was instead a bright yellow instead of void-black — maybe while Mandalore had the Darksaber, Kashyyk had the Brightsabre?

Made as much sense as anything else. Though in his opinion, strange people losing fights and distributing light swords was no basis for a system of government but no one had asked him. 

He wrenched his gaze away from the innocuous cylinder after he realized he was staring and Tyvokka was giving him a strange look. Staring at another man’s weapons was impolite after all, he shouldn’t have gotten so lost in thought. To reassure him, he decided to speak up, pulling the sabre from his belt. “Sorry, I know weapon care can be a private thing. I just hadn’t seen another one before and it looks so different from mine.”

Tyvokka did a double-take as he registered the weapon and one large paw twitched as though to grab it instinctively before wrestling the motion into submission. <Where did you get this?> He asked in his slowed Shyriiwook, allowing Din to catch each carefully articulated syllable. 

The atmosphere in the small room was suddenly charged with tension. Din couldn’t help the unease that made itself known, realizing suddenly that he was sitting on the only chair with Tyvokka between him and the door. The instincts he had gained fighting did not like the height difference or his odds of escaping out the door if things went south. 

But he hadn’t done anything wrong, so he pushed the instinct to bristle and fight away. The other’s reaction was likely because Tyvokka was surprised at being in the same room as (another?) King. That was okay. Din understood, he was surprised that he was apparently Mand'alor too.

And while Din wasn’t comfortable talking about himself — it was a habit long ingrained as the wrong small detail given could lead to the covert’s discovery and put the ad’e in danger — but talking about Grogu? Well, that he could certainly do. 

He didn’t linger too long on any details out of force of habit but he explained how he had taken a bounty only to find the Child instead and how remnants of the Empire seemed intent on capturing him for experiments. He discussed the mission to him given by his Goran: to find Grogu’s people, the mysterious space wizards known as Jedi or to raise him himself. Din couldn’t help but add a comment on his frustrations on how hard they were to find; that he worried that, unlike his people, the Jedi had not found places to hide during the Empire’s ethnic cleansing and that Grogu might be the last of their children. Sure he had run into Ahsoka, but she was pretty sure she was not a Jedi and would not claim him. Realizing he had gone on a tangent, he refocused to explain how he had fought Moff Gideon and his horde of Dark Troopers to get his foundling back. How he had won the Darksaber as a result. 

“I don’t even know how to use a kad, never mind a kad’au .” He said mournfully, looking down at the weapon. “It seems a fantastic tool, but one that I don’t have the training to use. Goran made it very clear when she trained us: fighting with a weapon that you don’t know makes you a danger to your enemies, allies, and yourself. I tried to give it to Bo-Katan considering the fuss she made over it, but she refused without a trial by combat. I’ve tried to leave it behind, but it kept reappearing on me!”

Tyvokka looked at him carefully, an unreadable look in his eyes before nodding to himself and leaning back against the bulkhead. <The Dark Sabre... That is quite the story.>

Din nodded exaggeratedly so that the movement was clear with his helmet returning the same courtesy Tyvokka had shown him with the slowed Shyriiwook, “Yes, I almost cannot believe it, despite living it. And now I need to find Grogu. He is in my care until I can get him to his people: haat, ijaa, haa'it .”

Tyvokka made a humming sound that reminded him a bit of a krayt dragon’s purr before leaning forward a bit to tap lightly on the Dark Sabre. <Its crystal sings of its happiness at being in your possession. An opinionated blade like this will not depart from you easily. I am not surprised you cannot lose it.>

Din blinked slowly, maybe his Shyriiwook wasn’t as good as he thought. What crystal? “What is singing? I haven’t heard anything.”

Tyvokka leaned back once more, <I imagine not, not without being able to hear the Force. Which makes it all the more strange you are here.>

“I don’t understand,” Din said after a moment of mulling Tyvokka’s words over. “I think my Shyriiwook has gotten rusty because that first bit didn’t make sense. Haven’t had the chance to speak with a Wookie in a few years considering how badly they scattered after… well… you know.” He trailed off, realizing that he was touching on a sensitive topic. After all, he didn’t much like talking about the fall of Mandalore, but the colonization, enslavement, and general disregard for sentient rights that Kashyyyk had suffered was worse. Not that it was a competition or anything, but if the rumours of Commandant Sardo farming enslaved Wookies for their meat were true, then things had been infinitely worse there before the Empire’s fall. As a survivor and Free Wookie, Tyvokka probably wouldn’t want the reminder of what had been lost any more than Din did.

He shook his head quickly to dislodge the thought, before addressing the part he did understand, “You’re right though. I don’t know how I got here, it doesn’t make any sense.” He grouched, keeping his voice down so he wouldn’t wake the sleeping Dathomirians. 

Tyvokka looked at him, almost through him really, and gruffed, <I think you have come further than you think.> He walked over to the small desk, leaning over Din as he did so, in order to fish out a data pad from one of the drawers. Delicately extending one claw, he activated the touch screen then tapped it a few times before passing it to Din. 

Din took it from him slowly after a moment of hesitation.

…It took him some time to realize what he was seeing, after all, most folks used the New Republic’s calendar now. But… the date once he did the calculations, they couldn’t — couldn’t — possibly be correct. 

Because if they were, he was about 53 years (give or take a few weeks) in the past.

But he knew Coreillian Herald, it was one of the oldest and most reputable news outlets in the Galaxy, even after the Empire had done its best to shut them down. If this was its current events section… he checked the link and it was, then… 

Mind racing, he pulled up the holonet in his HUD, and while it struggled to fully connect — incompatible cookies and software — it did manage to at least load the same headlines and the date. 

“This can’t be right” he croaked, his fear plain to hear in his voice. Because if he had time travelled, and he had arrived alone, that meant that he had left everyone behind in the future. “That would mean I left Grogu on his own, and I just got him back.”

<It is true. I can tell you for certain that Kashyyk still stands strong, as does Mandalore.> Tyvokka rumbled, <You did not leave them as you did not intend to go! I don’t know why the Force willed you to come back, but I would be surprised if you did so alone. With no Force artifact in play, no nexus, or black hole, my best guess would be that your sabre’s crystal was involved. If it was your crystal, considering how it sings for you and yours, you would not have come alone.>

Din struggled to follow in his distress and after a moment had to ask, “Are you saying I came back in time because of a rock?

<Not just a rock.> Tyvokka said, amused, <a rock that is the heart and life of a Jedi, one that is housed in our signature blade. I have heard of your weapon. When he lived, Tarre Vizsla was an exceptional Jedi and Mandalorian. You now carry his heart. What caused it to act in such a manner is unknown to me. The Force works in mysterious ways, even to those who have spent a lifetime studying it.>  

Din was immediately distracted from his panic — if Jedi carried crystals in a kad’au and it was their signature weapon, did that mean Tyvokka was a Jedi? If so, here was a teacher for Grogu! “You are Jedi?” He asked earnestly, his hope banishing all anxiety for the time being. 

<I am a Jedi yes.> Tyvokka answered slowly, looking at him curiously. 

Great! He had finally found a Jedi.

He couldn’t help the part of him that swelled with pride. He had found a member of a possibly extinct people to return one of their young to! Sure he had had to karking time travel to do it, but he had accomplished his mission nonetheless. 

Now if only he had his foundling so he could reunite him with his people!

“Will you help me find Grogu?” He asked tentatively, the thrill of victory fading as his circumstances reasserted themselves. “I cannot offer you credits as I imagine that their value remains in the future. But I could work for you until we find him.”

<You do not need to exchange labour for the safety of your child.> Tyvokka replied, seeming to not understand that Grogu was only his ward until he was back among the Jedi. <It would be my honour to help after bringing these much-needed supplies to Taris. Do you have anything to track him by?>

Din fumbled with his belt for a moment before fishing out his tracker with a triumphant shout. “I got a tracker after Grogu was kidnapped, I clipped the receiver under the back of his shirt collar where he shouldn’t be able to reach it and play with it! He should still have it!”

In his excitement, he had forgotten to be quiet and felt guilt briefly jolt through him when the three young Zabrak stirred and gave him big, sleepy Tooka eyes.

Tyvokka gave a bark of laughter at the sight and patted him on the shoulder, a big toothy grin stretching across their face, <Try it at Taris. I don’t know what the future is like, but here no signal can be received while in hyperspace. We should be there in one standard day, in the meantime, it looks like you have some cubs to entertain.>

Din didn’t even mind being volunteered to babysit, if he could find his aliit again and get Grogu to safety. 

Though hearing the sleepy ad’e whine about being hungry, and thirsty, and how their horns (just little tiny nubs still!) itched and how it was cold… maybe he would come to regret that. 

… Probably not. This was the first time they had been so vocal. He thought amusedly but resigned as he disengaged the safety shield and the kiddos began to clamber out, eager to explore and to eat. Now that they were away from the depressive and resigned atmosphere of their village, and the witch was unconscious — as whoever she was to them, the Nightsisters overall seemed to be a symbol of oppression. At least it wasn’t his ship that was being set upon by three over eager tots.

-x-

Tyvokka was incredibly pleased: the drop-off at Taris had gone incredibly smoothly and quickly. As this was the last run of supplies, the city and the rest of the affected areas were already looking much better with clean-up well underway.

But while it was wonderful to see, it was his conversation with the disaster coordinator and the head emergency dispatcher that had him so satisfied. Over his past work in the sector and from his interactions over the last few weeks, he had developed a decent working relationship with the leaders and the relief workers of the planet. This time, once he provided his craft’s manifest complete with inventory and began reporting through their protocol droid, they had explained that they were incredibly grateful for the donations of food and medical supplies but there had been more than could be feasibly used now. 

Aside from Bonadon’s donations, the entire sector of planets that Taris was a part of had very strong alliances and relationships, so they had also donated in excess to the beleaguered planet. Due to this outpouring of generosity, even though their planet and communities had been devastated by the earthquake, they were well on their way to full recovery. 

While clearly somewhat reluctant to turn away any resources — especially when they could be set aside for later — the coordinator and dispatcher agreed that Tyvokka should keep any supplies with an expiration date in the next few months as they might not use them in time. As the Tarisian dispatcher wryly put it: from the tales Tyvokka had shared, the Jedi were certain to run into trouble and would need them sooner rather than later. Better these supplies went somewhere they were needed instead of rotting away in a back room. 

Tyvokka was both amused by their declaration and very touched, promising he would be sure to get the supplies somewhere they would be used. He then returned to his mostly empty hold, delighted by his luck: they had bacta, an assortment of other basic medication, water purifying powder, and some foodstuffs. If nothing disastrous happened, Tyvokka would ensure they would get into the hands of his contacts on the Freedom Trail.

But there was a niggling feeling in the Force that they would need those supplies and sooner than he would hope for. 

A feeling that was vindicated after Din boosted his tracker's signal using Taris’s network and found that they would need to go to the Cadavine Sector — a rather lawless area with the moons of the gas giant Zhar being well-reputed for being a haven for smugglers, slavers, and pirates while the only other inhabited planet had been in a civil war for centuries. 

It wasn’t too far away — they’d be able to take the Hydian Way before transferring onto the Coreillian Run then the Llanic Spice Run which would get them at least 95% of the way there. There was no direct hyperlane from there which would add at least one full day to their journey but they should still be able to get there within four days at best, five at worst. Tyvokka would certainly spend at least part of the trip taking stock of what he had already had in his corvette’s storage along with the Tarisian additions. Whether or not they ended up on one of Zhar’s moons or on Melida-Daan, they would likely need the supplies.

As Kycina had yet to regain consciousness — it appeared to be a case of severe Force burnout to Tyvokka, which could only be slept off, not treated — the Dathomirians would be coming with them. That way, if she had still not regained consciousness by the time they found Din’s cub, they could go directly to the Temple’s healers for assistance.   

Looking over at the cubs bouncing around the hold, he added another item on his to-do list: to drill them on emergency protocols such as to stay put, to hide, to scream for help if caught, and how to escape if grabbed. He was sure Mando would help him considering how he hovered over them like a strill dam.

Watching them headbutt each other and lock their little stubby horns, they were certainly off to a good start.

-x-

They had made good time on the Hydian Way and were halfway along their route on the Coreillian Run when the ship gave a jolt and abruptly fell out of hyperspace. Only two reasons for that — the hyperdrive failed or a disrupter had been used. Considering there was no smoke and there had been no typical loud crack that usually heralded the crucial piece of machinery failing, it wasn’t the hyperdrive.

...There was never a harmless reason to use a disrupter. They were in danger. 

Tyvokka seemed to have reached the same conclusion as he gave a growl and vanished up into the cockpit while Din gave the ad’e an impromptu pop quiz on what they were to do in the event of an emergency. Once he was sure that they were hidden in the bunkroom with Kycina and the door was locked, he went to join Tyvokka in the cockpit. The Wookie Jedi was glowering through the transparisteel at where one small craft was being attacked by a larger one. 

<Hyperdrive is rebooting but is down for at least another two minutes> Tyvokka snarled, his eyes not leaving the duelling aircraft.

“Copy that.” Din replied, then he magnified his field of vision on his HUD to better take in the details of what he was seeing. The ships were moving quickly — truly some impressive joystick work — but eventually, Din was able to make out the mythosaur skull insignia on the smaller craft: not an aliit signet that he recognized, but surely Mandalorian in origin. 

“The smaller ship is Mandalorian but not one I know personally. What do you think we are looking at? ”

<There are Weequay Pirates on the bigger one.> Tyvokka grumbled aggravatedly, pointing at the ship <Mama Ohnaka’s reach is starting to get long if there is a crew out this way. See there? That is her emblem on the wings. But good luck to you getting the Senate to approve of a crackdown mission to their headquarters in Hutt Space… I will need to let the Council know when I report in.>

They drifted in silence briefly when the ship’s built-in comms were hailed. Surprised at the ballsy move, Din answered with a flat “What.”

It was clearly the voice of an adolescent who cheerily answered: “Two ships! In one day! Oh, this is my lucky day~. One moment, we will be right with you!” 

Tyvokka grimaced and put a paw on Din’s chest, gently pushing him away from the comms. He then leaned forward so his mouth was right at the level of the microphone and let out an ear-shattering roar, “GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRoOaaR!” 

The childish voice yelped and shouted, “Or maybe not! Mama says not to cross an angry Wookie!” The young di'kut didn’t even bother to hang up, allowing them to hear incoherent shouting in the background about Mandalorians and Wookies. This was clearly a first run, perhaps even a training one, for a bunch of new pirates. In moments, the larger Weequay craft jumped into hyperspace, leaving the other ship floating behind awkwardly in space looking visibly singed from the blaster fire.

Tyvokka looked over at him with some regret <We may need to delay continuing if they need assistance.>

Din felt his stomach sink but agreed, “It would be a death sentence to leave them behind if their hyperdrive or hull is damaged. We are still too far away from habited space.”

<Your cub will hold out.> Tyvokka said reassuringly, patting him lightly on the back. 

Din said nothing in return, because what could possibly be said to that? He needed to get to his foundling, but to leave behind doomed fellow Mandalorians was equally anathema. It would be different of course if the ad was in known and proven danger — it was the Way, the young were the future after all and sometimes sacrifices were necessary. But to make an unnecessary sacrifice was senseless. 

Instead, he hoped that the ka’ra would watch over Grogu a little longer and set to work contacting the other craft. After locating the corvette’s indent code, Din punched in the code that would let their craft hail them, “This is Paladin-021266MW, a Jedi corvette. Do you need assistance?” 

Nothing but silence. 

He changed the frequency and tried again, “Drifting Mando ship, this is Paladin-021266MW. Do you need help?”

There was some static in response followed by a screeching sound before a successful — if crackly — connection was established. “Yes! This is Kom’rk-7232 and we need assistance. The shabuir'e took out our left engine in that last volley. Can you give us a tow?”

Din looked questioningly over at Tyvokka, uncertain if the corvette would be able to tow another — it certainly wouldn’t be able to fit in the hold. After a moment of thinking the Wookie answered the unspoken question <The Paladin is equipped with a towing cable, we should manage a short distance. Could you let them know then check if your tracker can give a more precise location now that we’re closer. I will set up the tow.>

Din nodded then turned back to the microphone, flipping the switch to talk “Copy that Kom’rk. This craft is equipped to tow. Do you have any concerns about the hull or cabin oxygen with a damaged engine? Or would you be able to remain on your craft for the tow?”

“Copy Paladin. As much as I don’t want to admit it, there is some mild smoke. If you will allow us on board, we can vent — the lack of oxygen should prevent further damage until we can get to a mechanic.”

“Copy Kom’rk. We will dock first then set up the tow.”

“Copy Paladin. We will await further instructions.”  

Din left the cockpit as Tyvokka took over manoeuvring the ship as needed and pulled out his tracker. To both his relief and concern, they were close enough that the tracker was able to advise that its signal was on Melida-Daan. The planet that had been in a civil war for the past few centuries according to Tyvokka.

WHY? Was it wrong of him that he had been hoping for one of Zhar’s moons? It was so much easier to deal with slavers and opportunists than it was to deal with a whole kriffing planet’s worth of population fighting each other.

“Watcha woo’ing at?” Piped up a small voice beside him.

Din held back a groan when he noted both Feral and Maul had clambered up onto the nearby counter to peer at the device in his hands while steadfast Savage seemed to be keeping watch at the door. 

Well, at least one ad’e took his warnings to stay hidden and to be careful seriously. That was an improvement over none at all. 

Little victories. 

-x-

Turns out Jango and Silas were also heading to Melida-Daan after the Mand'alor of this time had received a concerning comm about two (almost three now) galactic days ago, and they were the nearest verde team that could be diverted to follow-up. 

So reinforcements were good. 

Along with a copy of their orders, the verde had a copy of the comm call with the recording starting mid-conversation and in a fairly grainy condition. Even still, he recognized his little foundling peering up at the camera — he couldn’t deny the happiness that flushed through him when the little whomp rat refused to give up a description of his face or his name — before rolling away after an explosion and a fight broke out. 

On the downside though, Tyvokka had also seemingly recognized the other boy in the footage and was now infinitely more stressed. The Wookie had been initially unhappy to hear that the Child was on Melida-Daan and that they would need to take their craft into a war zone with three ad’e who would not stay put, to find Din’s foundling. That was when Silas realized that they might be looking for at least one of the same boys and had shared the comm footage. 

Well, there was a reason it was well known to never get between a Wookie and their cub. Din had known that beforehand, and Tyvokka's reaction had just further solidified that knowledge as a universal truth. It was evident as being one of the classic blunders: never get involved in a landwar in Yinchorri, never go against a Corellian when Death is on the line, and never get between a parental Wookie and their kid.

Mostly because everyone is attached to having arms — and an enraged and stressed Wookie tended to remove those. 

Tyvokka was now at that level of stress. 

Needless to say, Din, Jango, and Silas had determined a strategy for when they finally arrived on the planet which largely boiled down to “Point the enraged Wookie in the pertinent direction and then take care of any stragglers.” After a rousing game of “boulder-flimsy-kad”, they determined that Silas would stay behind to watch Kycina and the energetic Zabrak ad’e

It was a very good plan in Din’s opinion. 

Landing with a towed craft was slightly tricky, especially when the main pilot was emotionally compromised and just as likely to put it into a steep dive to get to the ground faster as to actually land it. So Silas was nominated to land as close as he could to where the tracker was while Din had Feral, Savage and Maul sit on Tyvokka and give the Wookie big, sad eyes while asking for stories. 

The Dathominiran younglings were very easy to bribe with the remaining bantha jerky he had on him. He had taken to carrying around the stuff after taking on Grogu — the ad would just have to accept the necessary sacrifice.

Even with all of their efforts, as soon as their ship was on the ground and the engines were off, Tyvokka was out the bay doors with Jango and Din scrambling to follow after. Seeing the desolation around them, Din held his spear in his main hand while Jango pulled out his blaster, hustling after. 

Tyvokka led them towards the remains of a building, one that must have been attacked in the last few days considering how it still smoked and the amount of blaster fire scoring its walls. 

Din tried not to lose hope upon realizing their destination — Grogu was a stubborn and wily one, he was sure that he had made it through alright. Though in his and Jango’s rush to catch up, they weren’t paying the closest attention to where they were going. 

A rookie mistake. 

It was like an invisible hand grabbed Din and yanked him out of the way as he stepped on the pressure-plate of a buried bomb. It went off harmlessly, adding to the craters that already speckled the landscape. 

<Watch your step.> Tyvokka said needlessly as the rubble settled and he placed Din back on his feet. <It is better to follow after me.> The Wookie then walked off, albeit slower this time, allowing his shorter companions to keep pace.

They made it to the smoking ruins without further incident and Din fished out the tracker once more, following it until he was right above it, his panic growing as it led him towards a rubble pile. He holstered his spear to gently shift aside rubble but was confused for a brief moment upon reaching plain floor tile. Then he realized: “Tyvokka! Jango! There is a basement or some sort of underground!”

Tyvokka nodded, closed his eyes, held out both paws, then threw them to the side violently with the rubble piles… and the floor tiling… and the sub-floor… and some pipes following. What was left behind was a medium-sized hole with maybe a 25 cm radius — so about 2000cm of area for them to squeeze through? 

Jango whistled slowly at the damage, Din nodding slowly beside him in agreement. Would Grogu be able to do that one day?

<I don’t dare widen it more in case I destabilize the foundation.> Tyvokka said as he lowered his paws, <Jango, I think you’ll be the only one who can fit. Can you check?> 

Jango nodded before picking up a piece of broken rebar to test the ground in front of him before he stepped on it. He managed to get to the hole without issue while Din followed after testing the ground similarly with his spear. 

Din passed Jango the end of a piece of rope while he prepared to anchor the other end. It would not be good to jetpack in, in case there was anything explosive lingering or if there was anyone who could be caught in its back draft. Jango knotted his end securely to his armour harness, looked at the dark hole then over at Din, giving the other a small salute and then climbed down.

What neither of them were expecting was for a bloody tan blur to jump out of the shadows and attack once Jango was almost at the ground.

And it was quite the jump. In a second, the ad had leaped, wrapped his thighs around Jango’s head and threw him down with a textbook flying scissor throw.

Seeming to realize what was going on, Jango went limp and controlled his fall, rolling away from the panting ad who was now squinting up at Din — dried blood covering half his face and pupils uneven. 

“Tyvokka, I think we found Obi-Wan at least.”

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan was not having a good day. 

He still hurt all over despite the bandages keeping his blood where it should be, despite the little bit of bacta he had slathered on the blaster burns, and despite even eating two of the peppermint-willow bark-rosemary rudimentary painkiller pills the Young had finagled together for their injured. Once the adrenalin had worn off, his body was quite happy to remind him that he had been shot in his right knee, right shoulder, and left arm, along with getting clocked in the head by some debris. It was the Sith’s own luck really that had let him get to a safe place before his body had given in to the damage acquired.

The bright side of his current situation was that he had successfully protected the youngling in his care who had only a few scrapes and bruises to show for their adventure. The dark side was that, well not to be cliché about it but... darkness was everywhere. (And he hurt.)

He couldn’t see anything (was there even anything to see here?) in the pitch black that surrounded them. He thought and probably not for the first time: it made telling the passage of time very difficult.

… That may also have been because of the concussion.

Regardless, trapped underground and injured, Obi-Wan wasn’t sure how much time had passed since the Daan had attacked the comm centre. Well, it wasn’t exactly time he was worried about, but it was something manageable he could worry about, so that’s what he would get his sluggish brain to focus on thankyouverymuch.

But yes, Time. It took the average humanoid 45 days to die of starvation, 7 days to die of dehydration, and 11 minutes to die from lack of oxygen. It must have been more than 11 minutes so they probably didn’t need to worry about oxygen? He didn’t feel lightheaded or sleepy; so it seemed there was space for air to come into their small, safe haven from somewhere, but through small enough spaces that they didn’t allow for light to come through. (Unless? Could it be that the sun had not yet risen and it was still the same night that he and Grogu broke in? That didn’t seem possible, it felt like an eternity since then…). He was having to hope that Grogu’s species was similar enough to his in those limits because he didn’t know what other timeline to reference. He, like all Initiates, had memorized the tables of how long similar species could survive in different circumstances but whatever Grogu was hadn’t been in any of the categories and he wasn’t even similar to any of the ones Obi-Wan could remember.

Grogu was the best youngling but he was a tiny mystery. Since he’d found Grogu near Zehava, he’d been quietly panicking as he’d been hanging out with a baby of unknown origins. Which meant if he used the wrong life requirement estimates, then he could cause damage due to a lack of water, Dorian gas exposure, gill hydration, or missing vitamins… Oh Force, he could kill him! 

Realizing he was dwelling in unhelpful thoughts, he pinched himself lightly on the thigh and took a deep breath.

The little guy seemed fine so far: exploring their small space and squeaking at him so Obi-Wan knew where he was, which seemed a positive sign toward the youngling's continued health and that his guessed timelines were okay. So that was good. That his patdown in the dark had revealed practically no injuries and how cheerful he was, Obi-Wan was tentatively putting the youngling in the “fine and will continue to be fine” column. So he supposed that he should now probably be more concerned about his own health? But what more could he do about the condition he was in? He was fairly sure the near-human timeline — the one he knew for certain and had memorized back to front  — applied to someone who was in already good health… which Obi-Wan was not after three months spent in an active war zone. Would the lack of food and water impact him sooner? The lack of sleep? The lack of proper nutrients and access to better healthcare? Would he manage to squeeze out survival long enough from his neglected body to get Grogu to safety?

That though was a Problem for future Obi-Wan, it was present Obi-Wan’s job to make sure that the answer future Obi-Wan found about his health was a theoretical one rather than one experienced himself… Did that make sense? Oh well, he knew what he meant.

Anyway, they had at least both slept a little and had finished up the last of what little remained of the already minimal food and water they had brought, so it had to have been at least 10 to 12 hours. Right? Obi-Wan had been careful to try to ration, to try to stretch out what they had, but only one canteen and two ration bars was not a lot to work with. Truly, Obi-Wan was starting to get thirsty again and was contemplating going to go check out the strange, echoing dripping sound in the distance to see if it was potable water or another consumable liquid.

But back to Time, because that was how he could measure how much trouble they were in. 

That was the important thing, that was what he should be focused on rather than threats to their health or their lack of resources. 

Time was what he needed, what they did have, but what they didn’t have a lot of — in order to use the Force safely, he needed his brain to cooperate — but it was miserable trying to use Force healing (already not his best skill) to heal one’s own brain. If he ever got out of this, ever got to go back to the Temple, was ever welcomed back to lessons, he would spend some time in the Halls of Healing and make sure he mastered the technique. 

But, measuring that crucial Time was elusive: could have been a few hours, could have been a few days. He supposed it didn’t really matter as the important thing was that they had absolutely missed their check-in and he was sure Nield was fretting like the overprotective mother tip-yip he was. 

Not like a rescue would be coming though, they couldn’t risk the younglings under their protection/command in that way. How could Nield and Cerasi justify sending someone, even an experienced scout, over the ridge to cross an open plain that was riddled with mines and traps in order to go check on a collapsed building? It would be suicide. 

They had only let him and Grogu go in the first place because of the extra abilities the Force gave them, and even then it had repeatedly almost ended in disaster before actually ending in disaster. They had only approved it to get Grogu (and possibly the other non-combatant youngling Young) out of a warzone and for the possibility that Grogu’s Mandalorian dad might help them a little — just a little! They wouldn’t ask for much: just some more med-packs, food, and maybe even some training? — because the possibility of an Outsider supplying them instead of the Elders was too good to pass up.

Though unfortunately, the comm code was a bust, so it looked like the Young were still without Allies. Except him. …But did he still count as an ally when he’d left the Jedi to join them? Wouldn’t he just be a member of the Young?

...He had gotten distracted again.

So that was the reality of the matter: Cerasi and Nield were the leaders of the Young and even if they didn’t like it, they could not — should not — prioritize the lives of two over the lives of many. Especially when they had no way of knowing if they were even still alive in the ruins of the building and could be rescued, or if they had been taken prisoner and moved elsewhere by the Daan or Melida, or if they were simply dead: from getting caught in the raid, from the building’s destruction, or from execution by the Elders.

Too many variables, not enough information, and far too dangerous for the Young: Grogu and he were on their own to get out. 

It was just luck really that they were safe underground — the vents had led to a small basement where it seemed there had once been a furnace along with a water filtration unit. Whoever had built this place however many decades ago had given it a rock-solid foundation as most of the basement had held strong. Because yes, the comms centre and fortifications appeared to be in ruins above them; it was hard to say for certain without seeing, but considering the amount of noise and how the walls and pillars around them shook and groaned, Obi-Wan thought that it was a likely and probable conclusion.

If Obi-Wan had to guess — and he would have to, there was no way to know — it seemed that since their escape into the vents, the destruction of the comms equipment had been discovered and with no reason to keep the building intact, the invading Daan or defending Melida decided to destroy it. 

Or maybe it wasn’t discovered and the Melida or Daan Elders just decided to destroy the building anyway. Jerks. Wouldn’t be the first time that either side had cut off their ear to spite their face, Force only knew how many resources had met their end through such petty nonsense in the few hundred years this war had raged. 

The end result though was the same regardless of source or reason: assuming the worst-case scenario, all of the above-ground levels of the building had collapsed along with the surrounding fortifications which left Obi-Wan and Grogu trapped in the basement with no way out. Frankly, Obi-Wan was just thanking Grogu’s lucky stars (because the youngling had far better luck than him, Obi-Wan only had Sith’s luck) that the ceiling of the basement hadn’t collapsed under the weight of the upper levels. The architect who built this place must have worked wonders with the load-bearing capacities of the columns down here.

Had he thought that before? Wow his arm and head really hurt, had it been so bad before?

Of all the times to get a concussion! This was maddening! 

...Well if he had thought it before, he supposed it bears repeating how fortunate they were that construction had been so thorough for this building. He thoughtfully patted the concrete column he was leaning against, it was doing very important work keeping them from getting crushed. Very important column, good job.

Force but he was getting thirsty.

“Grogu?” He blindly raised both hands and whisper-called — reluctant to raise his voice in case that somehow compromised the structural integrity of their shelter. Was that even possible? The Force worked in mysterious ways after all… Could a Force enhanced shout destroy a building? He should try that once they are out of this situation… Focus Kenobi! “Where did you go, buddy?”

There was a brief scuttling sound before a small forehead pushed against his raised palm. “Patu” Grogu warbled while using their newly established Force bond to send a concerned mental image at Obi-Wan. 

His head throbbed briefly in pain at even this most passive use of the Force but in a moment, he had the image in mind that Grogu wanted to send. Oh, that was him! He was looking at Grogu’s memory of him leaning against the column... The little guy could somewhat see in the darkness! That was an unforeseen development — must be the big eyes. 

Useful.

...That was also a lot of dried blood on his face, had he stopped bleeding? He didn’t remember if he had treated that injury — there were no bandages on his head and he couldn't recall putting pressure on it…. Did it clot on its own? Head wounds bleed a lot — they also really hurt — and made things appear much more severe than they were, so he was probably fine? He raised a careful hand to probe the injury…

Ow. 

That hurt. 

That really, really hurt.

Note to self, do not touch the head injury, he thought as he blinked back tears and repressed the urge to vomit, it was hardly the time for such dramatics. It didn’t feel like it was bleeding anymore and that was all that mattered.

“It’s fine?” He replied tentatively to Grogu’s question, “or at least as fine as it can be?”

The youngling blew a raspberry at him dismissively and sent him a stronger wave of concern.

"I know it doesn't look good young one," Obi-Wan tried, attempting to reassure his charge, "but I think it looks worse than it is! I'm fairly sure it's stopped bleeding."

Grogu made a frustrated burbling noise then sent a memory (ow his head again ) of the Mandalorian holding him closely, shielding him from view with his arm. It was unclear at who — Grogu or someone else — but the memory has the other speaking warningly in a low voice at someone, "You're no good to me dead."

Well, that was rather blunt, wasn't it?

Obi-Wan swallowed to get some moisture back in his mouth. "Not dying Grogu, just very sore. What say you we go find that dripping water pipe? I can wash off the dried blood and you'll see I'm okay."

Grogu pushed his forehead into his hand once more in assent though he projected his reluctance (ow) at having Obi-Wan get up.

"I'll be fine Grogu!" Obi-Wan sighed, throwing his uninjured arm up in the air in exasperation. "I can't see in the dark so I was just going to crawl over anyway!"

He then winced when Grogu projected back disbelief followed by memories of him cutting his hand while climbing, then him getting blasted in his knee, shoulder and arm. Grogu then flashed a representation of someone easily crawling followed by an image of someone ungracefully falling over because they were attempting to crawl on injuries. In case his message was unclear, Grogu then projected the mental image of that same black-blob figure crawling and falling because they were injured while projecting the soundtrack from the infamous (yet timeless) Three Chumps.

Blunt as a brick to the head this youngling was! Cheeky too… Though at the reminder of how he was hurt, Obi-Wan winced and silently conceded on the matter. The youngling had a point — could he even bend his knee right now so he could crawl? He would be setting a poor example to the other if he unnecessarily worsened his injuries from being too proud.

He supposed that they were certainly lucky that the pillars down here were holding up: he could only imagine how much harder it would be if they had to deal with collapse along with his enfeebling injuries. Idiot. He really should have dodged better: he could only guess at what Master Drallig's reaction to his poor showing would be, but he could imagine the disappointment.

A sudden weight on his chest jolted him out of his thoughts, and small claws clinging to fabric and grazing his skin clued him as to who the weight was. Still, he couldn’t help but be surprised when he felt a small forehead gently press against his own. 

“Sorry,” he whispered. “I checked out on you again, didn’t I dear one?”

“Ba-ttu.” Grogu burbled at him while projecting his relief and a stern command to stay put (owww) . He felt the youngling climb off him then take his canteen off his belt before vanishing into the dark, his little feet slapping against the stone and rubble while also occasionally making a squeak to let him know where he was.

Obi-Wan sighed and leaned back against the concrete column again. Oh, and it was sturdy, doing a good job keeping the above floors from crushing them — what a good strong column.

Not like him.

Pathetic.

He was pathetic. A Padawan reject who was relying on a youngling to take care of him. When had he gotten so weak? The Young were counting on him, Cerasi and Nield especially were counting on him, and Grogu needed his help — how could he have allowed himself to get so injured? 

Obi-Wan was again jolted from his self-defeatist thoughts (how much time had he lost?) when a cool metal canteen was aggressively shoved into the hand resting on his lap. “PAH-TU!” came the authoritative command followed by a Force-shared image of him drinking (karking ow!). 

Dank Ferrick! He needed to stop lingering on things he couldn’t change. Grogu was relying on him to have his shit together so he needed to be better. As ridiculous as it was to think, here on Melida/Daan, he was one of the few responsible adults — for a given meaning of adult. That meant he had to look after those younger him and Not. Get. Caught. On. His. Stupid. Hangups.

Taking a deep, calming breath and breathing out his frustration, he then offered a hesitant smile in the direction of the small Force presence and gave a quiet “thank you.” His hand struggled to close fully around the canteen (hopefully the blaster bolt further up hadn’t done damage to the muscle and this was just the result of bloodloss/exhaustion… what if he lost his arm? ) so he reached over and steadied it with his other hand, lifting it up. 

Despite his head injury giving him the Force control of a goldfish and pain to boot from any focused use, he could still sense Grogu’s worry peripherally even though the youngling wasn’t projecting it. Kark. “It was water then?” Obi-Wan asked, carefully unstoppering it with hands that shook and sniffing it. Grogu didn’t respond aloud or in the Force, but the youngling’s action of simply pushing the canteen in his hands up towards his mouth was answer enough. Obi-Wan still took a moment to give it a cautious sniff: it smelled like water and the Force was not giving him any warnings that he could hear. 

Good enough. 

He said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster: “Great work dear one! This will make me feel better in no time!” then drank deeply. 

Well. 

It was certainly water. 

But not only water.

If it hadn’t been for his unorthodox training under Qui-Gon, he likely also wouldn’t have tasted the subtle earthy taste of poppy-lilies and of caapi vine. That wasn’t an issue, considering how it was barely noticeable: it wasn’t water that was laced with the sap and oils, but rather just water that had been soaked in the plant. The taste of caapi was a bit stronger - possibly there were broken or crushed leaves stems or flowers floating in the water near to where Grogu drew the water from.

There must have been a small conservatory in the building before for plants to grow: Force knew that after several centuries of war the soil on Melida/Daan was almost dead. From what he could remember, the vines needed humidity and moist nutrient-rich soil while the poppy-lilies needed to be grown in water — both were prized for their mild pain-killing effects (also the mild hallucinations they gave). Considering the taste — the leak should then be from the basin itself where the plants were grown or a run-off pipe that had broken in the collapse. 

Either way, they just gave the water a slightly strange taste and could maybe help a little with the pain. Which was fine — but it would be very good if Obi-Wan could salvage a plant or two. They would provide a much stronger pain-killer than their makeshift peppermint-willow bark-rosemary pills that did nothing against extreme pain. It was something he didn’t want to think about, but logistically, they would be very helpful for when another one of the Young stepped on a landmine and amputation was necessary… Because Obi-Wan couldn’t be everywhere and he had to sleep too; meaning that Nield and Cerasi had to send scouts without him as protection at times. It was a lesson that had been hard-learned, but one that the other two Young leaders had done their utmost to drill through his head.

So while Obi-Wan now accepted that some things were beyond his control, that didn’t mean he couldn’t take steps to mitigate their consequences. 

Therefore, he would find a plant to bring back — it would also be a good apology for making them worry. Two porgs with one stone!

Though maybe one and a half porgs? If the plants could be recovered, they would need to be careful to keep them out of casual reach and help with detoxing as any patient came off it. It was infuriating that if you solve one problem, another always seemed ready to pop up. 

But he would cross that bridge if he could find a salvageable plant.

But yeah, one and a half porgs to make Nield and Cerasi forgive him.

There was a rumble in the distance — an explosion?! — a familiar sound from being underground in the sewer culverts while mines went off. A minute or two (or ten) later there was then a deep groaning sound followed by several sharp creaks and thumps. In his daze, it reminded Obi-Wan somewhat of being beside a pod of purrgils in a hyper lane. Despite the vacuum of space, the whale song somehow carried — vibrating the metal of whatever ship into a pleasant hum and rattling anything not tied down. But this wasn't quite that, it was harsher —  more sinister… 

Had the columns finally had enough?

There was nothing but silence for a moment before the darkness gave way to overwhelming brightness. Obi-Wan blinked rapidly to acclimate his eyes to the sudden change — watching as part of the ceiling was peeled back like a cheap tin can.

Obi-Wan's overworked and overtired brain raced at the implications: Who had come to rescue them? Who could make a hole like that so quickly?

They could be an enemy!

Shooing Grogu off his lap, he quickly whispered instructions to hide. He had attempted to project the order at first to avoid making any sound but quickly stopped at the sharp spike of pain that laced through his head.

Right, he had a concussion.

Turning slightly and placing both hands on the column for stability, he hauled himself upright and staggered on his feet. Doing a quick mental once over, he determined he was just fighting fit but would need to take an opponent down quickly as it would not stay that way.

He tensed when a line fell through the hole then gulped when he saw a fully armoured Mandalorian follow after; slowly rappelling down into the cavernous space.

Revised mental estimate: he would need to take his opponent down in one blow or he wouldn't stand a chance. In his classes there had been so much to know and learn about all the races, creeds and peoples in the universe that it was hard to remember them all but Obi-Wan remembered this much: Mandalorians were often bounty hunters and they prized fighting ability. 

For a moment Obi-Wan entertained the thought that the hunter could have been sent by the Mandalorian King Jaster they had spoken to but he doubted his fortunes were that good. For one, it was him so already the odds weren’t good considering how bad his luck (SITH’s luck it was so rotten!) had been in the last six months. Secondly, it would take so much more time than had passed (or would it? How much time had gone by?) for someone to come from Mandalore to Melida-Daan. Thirdly, how had they found them? That was suspicious right there. Fourthly, he had yet to see an adult outside of the crèche follow through on their word on protecting him. Fifthly, well, he had trust issues and he didn’t trust this.

So they were an enemy. Probably. If nothing else, it would be best to treat them as one while he had the element of surprise and take them down before they could harm them — if Obi-Wan could control the way they met and have the upper hand in that situation then maybe he would trust them saying they were an ally.

That said, Obi-Wan was in no way certain about his ability to knock out in one hit and had no delusions about his odds if he failed at that. 

He wasn't self-defeating, simply honest about his abilities — he was a short thirteen-year-old boy in regular cotton clothing without his preferred weapon who struggled to go up against semi-competent adults. In addition to all that, his right knee was burned from the blaster bolt, very swollen and barely functional, with his right shoulder and left arm not much better. (He might actually do more damage to himself with this attack than the Mando!... No, can’t think like that. That’s defeatist and won’t protect Grogu.). He didn't think it was likely that he would win — or even last long — against a fully-trained, fully-armoured, fully-equipped Mandalorian. 

But he had to try. 

So one hit with everything he had, likely followed by laying on the floor and having a bleeding contest with his opponent while Grogu escaped to tell the tale of an idiot Padawan who picked a fight with a Mandalorian.

Good plan.

The moment the Mandalorian's feet were almost touching the ground, Obi-Wan moved . Gathering all his remaining energy, he leaped out of shadows, severed the rope with a knife then wrapped his thighs around the other's head before flinging his body backwards in a perfectly executed flying scissor throw.

He used the momentum to flow into a back handspring and pop back on his feet only to stagger when his limbs (especially his knee) screamed at him and spots swam in his vision. He barely remained upright but spite and sheer stubbornness continued to carry him forward and stabilize his posture. 

Obi-Wan didn't look where the other landed — after all, if they weren't unconscious from getting thrown, he would likely find out soon enough — and instead just glared up through the hole where the rest of the rope dangled. His abused eyes still struggled with the harsh brightness but he could just barely make out another armoured figure leaning over.

Kark! There were two of them! He bared his teeth in a challenge and stared defiantly at the figure he could just make out at the lip of the hole. If they were going to capture him and bring him in on a bounty from either the Melida or Daan Elders, then he would do his best to give them a fight to remember him by. In doing so, he would have to hope that he would give Grogu an opportunity to escape — provided that the bounty hunters didn’t know about the youngling so that the small one still had a chance!

His chest rose and fell quickly as he struggled to regain his breath from the throw, his head spinning as he did so, but he felt his resolve strengthen. To quote one of Siri’s favourite poems: he would not go quietly into the night! He knew he wouldn’t win but he’d at least make it hard for them, Force take it all! He shook his head to get the blood out of his eyes (... it probably wasn’t a good sign that his head wound had reopened) and settled into a back stance, his hands up and eyes watching as best they could — which had the additional benefit of taking all the weight off of his damaged knee. He heard the voice shout something indistinguishable from the sound of blood roaring in his ears, but he was fairly sure he heard his name.

Unfortunately for Obi-Wan, he was so intent on watching the figure above him, he failed to notice that the other Mando had gotten back to his feet and was slowly approaching him. 

-x-

Well, this was all rather kriffed up, Jango thought, staring up at the ceiling. Come to rescue a baby Jedi and a foundling but get tossed across the room and into stone for the trouble. Jaster owes me so much uj cake for this.

After a moment, he slowly sat up, letting out a groan as his back cracked unpleasantly. He then slowly lifted his hands to brush the stone dust and rubble off his shoulders and legs. As he did so, he thought: So what now? Ad’s clearly hypervigilant and on a hair-trigger… What could I do to appear non-threatening? As a jetii shouldn’t he have already clocked that I mean no harm?

At that he looked over to see that Obi-Wan had seemed to fixate all of his attention on Mando, glaring up at the other Mandalorian and ignoring the blood running down his face. 

Oh, ad’s probably not thinking at all with an injury like that — could just be a scalp wound but could also be a concussion or skull fracture. Okay, time to turn to the old reliable WWJD: What Would Jaster Do? Well, no sudden moves and no sneaking up on him but that really went without saying for any stressed verde. What else? Hmm, when Jango had gone into shock due to the farm raid, seeing friendly symbols and a familiar face had helped. He couldn’t do the former — he didn’t know the faction symbols on Melida-Daan and he didn’t have the jetii symbol on his clothes — but he could at least attempt the latter. 

So, despite all his hard-earned instincts screaming against the move, he reached up slowly and released the catches attaching his buy’ce to the rest of his beskar’gam, then gently pulled it off his head to set it next to him. 

There was a small burbling sound beside him and he turned his head to see the little, green foundling peering over some rubble at him. Upon seeing his face, they made a small squealing sound and scrambled over the rock to him, their small hands reaching up as though demanding a hug or to be picked up. Possibly both, though Jango did not know the ad well enough to say for sure.

He offered a hand so that the small one could use it to clamber onto his lap then offered a gentle hug when the foundling smashed their face into his breastplate and stretched his short arms to encompass as much of his torso as possible. 

What a friendly little ad considering he was a total stranger to them — especially considering that ad’e usually found him scary and would be very shy when first meeting him. It was nice that there was no warm-up period here; it was also useful as far as rescues went to not have your rescuee be openly hostile to you. 

Jango picked up his helmet and held up upside down in the crook of his arm so that the microphone was close to his mouth then awkwardly maneuvered around Grogu to press a button on his left kom’rk activating the comm. “Mando, this is Jango, do you copy? Over.”

There’s a burst of static then a click as Mando activates his own comm “Yes I copy. Are you alright? The ad flung you hard and I can’t see where you landed.”

“Could have been worse: I collided with a concrete pillar but avoided any of the jutting out rebar or other metal. A few bruises and my ego took a hit,” Jango replied wryly, “nothing I can’t recover from. But I have good news!”

As he had talked, Grogu had squirmed closer and, upon hearing Mando’s voice, had since been insistently grabbing for his buy’ce and had nearly gotten it when they had resorted to the Force. Copikla ad’ika — had he been such a precocious brat at that age? 

He shifted his helmet to the ground then put Gorgu down beside it. He leaned forward to the mic to say: “I found Grogu! He’s excited to speak with you!” before he leaned back for the foundling to shout into the microphone themself at their buir: “BUIII!”

He got to his feet to leave them to reunite and to try to deescalate whatever was going on with the Jetii who still hadn’t moved. Jango was careful to have his hands up and away from his weapons while letting his boots scrape on the stone and shift the rubble. He didn’t want to startle him again so he ensured that he made as much noise as possible while he moved closer and into Obi-Wan’s sightlines. 

However, despite his efforts, it appeared that due to Obi-Wan fixating all of his attention on Mando while injured and possibly also over-tired, and stressed, the other failed to notice him at all until Jango slowly moved into his field of vision. 

In that second, there was a shout from above, the familiar sound of a blaster firing, and Mando jerking away from the hole’s mouth while the ad simultaneously noticed him, jolted, spun around and punched him in the face with a crunch.

Osik! Ow! Kark that hurt … He blinked rapidly as his eyes watered and his left hand flew up to try to stem the flow of blood from his newly-broken nose. 

Well, guess he could match his buir once that healed. Jaster would probably fret like an oversized strill before making a joke about while imitation was the highest form of flattery, Jango didn’t need to try quite that hard. 

He raised his other hand peacefully again while keeping the other one pinching his nose below the break to staunch the bleeding. Jango would have also liked to tilt his head to the side a little for more submissive body language but he needed to keep it tilted forward so that the blood would drain. Bad luck on his part that Obi-Wan broke his nose in one hit — though good skill on the part of the kih’verde. He spoke as clearly as he could, though his voice was certainly distorted by a nasal tone. “Good strike kid, sorry for startling you. I’m here as a rescue? B-Jaster sent us.”

“Jaster?” The ad asked slowly, a look of confusion stealing over his face. 

Oh no, up close he could see how uneven the ad’s pupils were - definitely a skull fracture or concussion. As soon as he could get Obi-Wan to stand down he would need to message Silas to prep the bacta tank on their Kom’rk-7232 ship; he hadn’t seen one on Tyvokka’s ship and the ad would likely need the extra help immersion gave. 

“Yes, Jaster.” Jango gently repeated. “We were close by so he diverted us to come help until he could get here. Sorry to say it still took close to three days to get here.”

“THREE DAYS?!” Obi-Wan’s head jerked up to look at him in horror before rapidly paling. It seemed the sharp movement was the last straw for the ad’s bruised brain as he promptly fell to his hands and knees, vomited mostly water and bile all over Jango’s boots, and then fainted. 

Jango wasn’t so lost in his thoughts he missed the ad’s reaction and managed to catch them before they fell into their own sick.

Osik!

He then heard an imperious trill from the side and turned his head, and saw, for just the briefest of moments, the foundling with his hands raised. The next thing he knew, he was flying across the room again with his precious cargo to slam into the pillar again, his body curling around the unconscious verde in his arms to protect him from the impact.

…at this rate, he would also need bacta immersion to help repair his spine.

Dazed, he reclined against the pillar, letting it support them, and watched as Grogu tottered over to climb onto Jango again and place his small, clawed hands on Obi-Wan’s head. He then scrunched up his face, his ears going back while his eyes narrowed in concentration.

As Grogu did this, one body then a second fell from the hole above to land with a hard thump on the dirt, rubble, and vomit below. Jango jerked and fumbled for the blaster at his side — if either shabuir’e got up and were a threat they would be defenceless — but lowered it slightly once neither of the bodies moved.

It was hard to tell from further away, but both were copper-haired, their visible clothes seemed in poor condition and were dressed in rag-tag armour. Locals then — probably the shabuir’e targeting their ad’e that Obi-Wan had mentioned on his comm call to his buir.  

Guess it was a good thing that Grogu had moved them!

Distantly he could hear the sounds of shouts and blaster fire above - the locals must be attacking Mando and Tyvokka. He didn’t fancy their odds of getting past an infuriated Wookie and highly trained Mandalorian but just in case they did… he braced his arm on a conveniently located piece of rubble and raised his blaster again to instead put the opening in his sights. 

If they somehow got this close, they would join their brethren on the floor cold 一 there would be no mercy or second chances for those who threaten ad in front of him.

-x-

If he was ever asked, Din would struggle to put into words the sheer bone-melting relief that encompassed his entire being when he heard Grogu’s squeaky voice over the comm. His hands shook lightly and it was like a swarm of glow bugs had taken residence in his torso — leaving him feeling warm and tingly.

His The ad was safe and okay.

Just like that, it felt like a great weight had been lifted and like his whole being was encased in the safety that was beskar. He allowed his shoulders to slouch a little and pressed a hand to the side of his buy’ce that had the comm mic and speaker, as though by pressing on the metal he could get the ad’ika’s voice closer.  

It was largely babble — the ikaad wouldn’t be speaking full words for a decade or two if the little information he had scrounged up on their species could be believed — but he still recognized the attempt at “buir” and the typical happy sounds he made. His foundling was here with him (somehow in the past?!), safe and happy, and even better there were teachers (actually trained baji!) around to help him.

He turned away from the newly made… groundlight? Hole-in-the-floor? Hole-in-the-ceiling? skylight and looked over to where Tyvokka was pacing. The Wookie was about two metres away; keeping watch with his superior senses and unwilling to come closer in case their combined weight caused the unstable floor to give up the ghost and collapse into the basement below. However, it meant that the stressed Jedi Master was unable to see the ad’e and hadn’t heard Jango’s report or Grogu’s greeting. 

This was largely due to Din. As an especially unfortunate side effect of time travel, none of Din’s tech was compatible with what was currently out there. Luckily for him, Tyvokka recognized how close to the end of his rope Din was and had lent his comm to him, gruffly deflecting thanks commenting how the darn thing wasn’t designed for paws and it was best for the Mandalorian to hold on to it for him.

That was something that seemed to remain no matter the time 一 the simple acts of kindness done for him by near strangers. Though he supposed there was no need for severe distrust, immeasurable disbelief in others or intense operational security when the Empire hadn’t risen yet. 

But it meant Tyvokka had no comm and had no idea what was going on below ground. So it was up to Din to pass on Jango’s status along with that of the ad’e.

After a brief debate with himself, he chose to not mute the ad’s babble in order to use his comm, but instead broke the seal on his buy’ce and tilted it back ever so slightly. The Goran would understand he was sure — it wasn’t like he was giving his name or showing his entire face, just enough that his mouth was outside  — because if Grogu was within his hearing range, then he was safe and not getting stolen and hurt. So he needed to be able to hear him, simple as that. (It might also be that Din couldn’t bear not hearing the ad considering how much the galaxy had been turned on its head the last week between Bo-Katan, the Darksabre, and karking time travel. But he didn’t need to admit that to anyone.) 

Anyway, he still kept his body still slightly turned to hide his features as best he could without muffling them because reasonable or not, there was no reason to outright flaunt the rules that had kept their covert safe from Imperials.

“Tyvokka”, he said as loudly as he dared, “Jango has found them. I have eyes on both ad’e, they’re a little banged up but okay. Jango’s about to go speak to Kenobi now.”

Tyvokka rumbled a confirmation back along with a happy trill at the end, clearly relieved to hear that both of the foundlings were in relatively good condition.

His duty done, Din pushed his helmet back into place and looked back down through the hole. He couldn’t help but zone out a little, just enjoying the happy babbling streaming into his ear; instead of focusing on discretely scanning his surroundings for threats or watching Jango and Obi-Wan. The ad was safe, happy and almost back amongst his people; sure things had gotten very weird but at least that much was true.   

After a moment or two, he gave himself a mental shake for his distraction and turned his attention to the condition of the other ad. The ad was glaring up at him with fear and defiance, not yet knowing or perhaps not yet trusting that he was there at least as a narudar and at best as a new burc’ya. Manda knew that it looked like the ad needed it. The red-headed ‘ika had seen some hard times considering how thin they were along with their visible injuries… hopefully, Jango could get them to stand down enough to be treated.

Then Jango walked back out from where he had been thrown and Din nearly swallowed his tongue — he repressed a surprised shout and only jerked a little when he saw the other buy’ce-less for the first time. 

Boba?

… a younger, scarless Boba with hair?

He winces as the young verd gets his nose broken and makes to approach again. Had Boba broken his nose? He couldn’t remember if he had. And why call himself Jango? Though that seemed familiar for some other reason. 

He magnified his HUD a little to get a better view and yep, it looked like Jango and Boba had the exact same face. A little too close to be relatives. Maybe they were one of those species that reproduced asexually and had more or less the same gene code? It would explain why Boba had wryly commented about others recognizing his face despite not having met them before. 

Startled as he was, he almost didn’t note Tyvokka’s call of warning that three speeders had come over the ridge and were racing towards them. Well, he guessed that would have to be a mystery to be addressed later if ever.

Kark. Why could nothing ever go easily for them?

He made sure his buy’ce was secure while he gently interrupted Grogu’s happy babble: “Lay low little womp rat. Find a safe spot out of sight and stay there, trouble’s coming.”

He knows Grogu takes him seriously as immediately after he sees the other two ad'e be sent flying back due to some invisible force. It is almost humorous to hear how Jango’s shout of surprise is dopplered while being picked up by the comm. 

There is then a pause with rustling sounds as Din assumes Grogu picks Jango’s buy’ce back up followed by a low croon then a mournful “Bui?”

The attempted word warmed him down to his toes for all that it also made that little ball of dread in his gut clench. The little ad had certainly wiggled under his armour into his heart and had him wrapped around his little fingers. How would he be able to give him to his people now? 

He knows he’s out of time to talk when the sound of the first blaster shots echo around the ruins and there is an indescribable sound as Tyvokka lights his sword. The Wookie is off in the distance, far enough that Din shouldn’t hear it ignite but the great long light sword makes itself known as soon as it is lit. For all that he’d heard it before on the ship, he is still unable to fully describe it. Like with the Darksabre, the almost sinister hiss-hum settles into his bones and makes his hair stand on end, even from this distance while the whistling-hum it makes as it spins around deflecting blaster fire makes his teeth feel like they’re vibrating. 

It is like the rattle on the end of a Tunnel snake’s tail - a warning and a promise all in one.    

“Shout if you need me… I’ll see you again soon. I promise.” He said quietly before muting his comm so he could concentrate.

Even as he reassured his the ad, he drew his blaster and fired a shot to the side, killing one who was attempting to sneak up on him. It was a sloppy shot though considering how his victim staggered a few steps before crumpling to the ground and falling through the hole.

He needed to get his head in the fight. Din was a seasoned bounty hunter who, as a rule, did not give his enemy quarter (prevented them from stabbing you in the back after) but he also took it as a point of professional pride to clean quickly and cleanly where possible to avoid needless suffering. 

He was soft like that.

A blaster shot came from behind, burning a hole through his cloak before pinging harmlessly off of his armour. Spinning around, he used his grappling hook to pull their blaster out of their hand while also yanking them closer, stumbling over the rubble. He then roundhouse kicked them in the side to reestablish some distance between them even as he pulled the trigger on his blaster once more. 

To his dismay, though he had gotten them clean between the eyes, they also then fell through the hole where the ad’e were hiding. He was sure they had all seen a body before 一 Grogu certainly had, Jango was past his verd’goten, and Obi-Wan had been stuck on this war-torn planet for some time so logically they would have 一 but as a responsible verd, it was his job to make sure they didn’t see more than was necessary in a situation.

He would do better. He was still just getting used to having ad’e around to protect, that was all. 

Turning his HUD into infrared mode, he scanned the area nearby to see if there were any other scouts who had circled around to his side of the ruins. Seeing a third one trying to sneak behind him, he vaulted over the remaining wall to land on top of them. Not expecting to have a full-grown, fully-armoured Mandalorian jump on top of them, they went down with a shout. Din didn’t give them the chance to fight back, instead quickly putting his blaster at the base of their skull and firing. 

He scanned the area once more for any more attackers. Not finding any heat signatures nearby, he settled in at a higher vantage point for defensive and surprise attack purposes while keeping an eye out for any reinforcements or individuals that looked like they might get past Tyvokka

Not that it looked like any would considering the Wookie appeared to be in his element, swinging his great light sword around like it weighed nothing (did it weigh anything? The Darksabre weighed barely one kilogram, maybe Jetii’kad were like that too?) and moving around like gravity was a suggestion to him. Sometimes the enraged Wookie didn’t bother with his sword and instead attacked his opponents using that invisible power of Grogu’s, flinging them about before using the strength, teeth, and claws that Wookies were feared around the galaxy for. Needless to say, the three speeders worth of opponents did not last long.

Well, if this is what Jetii are like in combat, he was glad that Tyvokka was on their side. 

-x-

It had been a little over two hours before Silas heard anything from Jango or the other two. 

Waiting when his alor’ad was almost certainly in danger without any sworn Haat Mandalorians watching his back was hard on Silas. When he’d first heard this plan, he had barely managed to squash down his instinctive denial at being separated from Jango’s side. He was sure these near-strangers were competent fighters in their own right but they had not logged countless hours training nor fought together with Jango for so long that they would know exactly how he would react. 

Well, they just weren’t Silas.  

Once they explained though, he was honoured that both Jango and the Jetii (along with the strange Mando) had trusted him to protect the Ka’ra touched children alone on a xenophobic planet with an ongoing civil war. If he couldn’t protect his alor’ad’s back, then protecting the ad’e was certainly worthy of his attention. Such an assignment was not given just to keep a verd out of the way but was typically given to the most competent fighter available who remained cool-headed under pressure. It spoke highly of Jango’s perception of Silas’s skills that he thought that Silas could handle it. 

And Silas could. 

Of course he could! He was the eldest sibling of five! His ability to handle children was the reason he was so popular among their peers in the Haat Mandalorians. Like Jango he wasn’t old enough for anything serious but it was fun to go out for some food, maybe watch a holo, help out with foundlings, and generally test the waters to see if they were compatible so that once he was ready, he knew what he liked and who could give him that. A protection detail mixed in with a little babysitting was a cakewalk. A breeze!

While yes the Ka’ra helped the ad’iike get places that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, that didn’t raise the difficulty too much in Silas’s mind. After all, the trick with ad’e this age was not to shout at them what not to do but to give them something okay for them to do that they were interested in while discreetly hiding anything that wasn’t to be touched. 

If they saw it before you hid it and were denied when they asked for it, it was game over. So before they landed, Silas had discretely done a once-over of the spacecraft, ensuring that all weapons that weren’t going with the other three were all safely locked away in the arms locker, that all sharp things in the kitchen were put away in a locked drawer (an important safety feature if the artificial gravity failed), and anything that might be considered poisonous was also stored out of sight and locked away.

Silas then fell back on his tried and true activity: colouring. 

He had colouring books, blank paper, coloured paper, crayons, pencil crayons, pencils and even those neat gel-ink pens all tucked away in a box in his quarters on their Kom’rk-7232. When they had had to evacuate it for towing purposes, Silas had put the container in his bag on a hunch. One that had paid off considering as soon as the trio had run off, Silas had given the material to the Zabrak trio before they could start worrying. 

It had worked even better than he had hoped. 

As soon as he began to pull out his supplies, he had their full attention. The small ad’e were wiggling in place, looking at each item with wide eyes while their hands clenched with the urge to touch. Silas frowned a little when they didn’t immediately begin to play 一 he had seen such behaviour before in former slave foundlings, ones who were afraid to touch because it was a test and such nice things couldn’t possibly be theirs. 

He gave each of them a reassuring smile and had warmly commented that so long as Silas had the supplies out of the box, each of the three was welcome to use and touch whatever they liked so long as they shared with each other. 

After that, there was no stopping the four-year-olds from descending on the art supplies. While Savage, being the more cautious one, had briefly given him a look 一 one that said he knew exactly what Silas was doing 一 the other two had made quiet sounds of joy and had immediately sat down on the floor of the bunkroom near Kycina’s bed to start drawing.

Savage had gravitated towards a colouring book, carefully choosing his colours and colouring inside the lines of a Yavinian jungle. Feral on the other hand had instead grabbed as many colours as possible to scribble across the page, producing a riot of colour. Maul had settled somewhere in between: he didn’t grab one of the line arts to colour but was carefully drawing his own shapes and then colouring them in.

The first hour passed quietly without problem, the Zabrak trio gleefully colouring and creating pictures using materials that had always been denied to them. Especially once Feral finished his first picture of colourful scribbles and decided to present it - without prompting - to Silas. 

Silas accepted it enthusiastically with all the practice of an older sibling, exclaiming about the beautiful colours and artistic talent before taking out a roll of clear Wren tape and sticking it to the wall. 

Each of the brothers froze for a moment and stared. 

It was on the wall.

Silas nodded with satisfaction once all the corners were tapped down. “There. Now your masterpiece will be the first thing Alor’ad Jango, Mando and the Jetii see when they come back. Well done Feral!”

Feral nodded slowly, his eyes fixed on the drawing while Maul unfroze and his crayon began racing across his page. In a moment, Silas was presented with another drawing, this one a very blobby Mando hitting an equally blobby giant spider over the head with a stick in what might be a forest… or mountains. Silas made sure to praise it just as much as Ferals, commenting on the great shapes and how much he liked the helmet before hanging it up beside Feral's picture. 

Savage looked down at his half-coloured drawing then back up at Silas. “...Si'as, when I’m done can my pictuwe go up too?”

Silas leaned over and wrapped a finger around a nubby horn, affectionately tugging it forward in the Zabrak equivalent of a hair ruffle. “Of course it can! You might be a bit slower than your vod’e but I love how you’ve carefully coloured in the lines and brought the picture to life! Even if it takes a bit more time, there will absolutely be a spot for your picture on the wall.”

He leaned back to look over each of them even while he leaned over and stage-whispered: “Between you and I, I think Tyvokka’s ship could use a spot of colour. Before they get back, why don’t we hang up as many pictures on the wall as you can draw! If we use up all the spots in the bunkroom, then we can branch out into the hallway.”

The boys looked at each other before scrambling back to their work, Silas giving a hum of satisfaction as they did so. He was contemplating getting a piece of paper and drawing something himself when the comm in his ear crackles and the ship’s systems let him know there are intruders outside. 

Hmm, that’s no good. 

“Boys,” He said calmly, “I’m going to make myself a cup of hot cocoa and get some snacks. Would you like some?” At the enthusiastic yeses, he clapped his hands in front of him and said “Great! I will be gone for five minutes but I’ll have the camera on in the corner there and my comm on so if you need help, you can wave, comm me using the ship’s comm or…” he pointed to where the med camera, then the ship comms button before indicating the big red button by Kycina’s bed “if something is really wrong, you can press this and I will be back in two shakes of a krayt dragon’s tail.”  

The boys nodded solemnly at him, clearly fairly self-sufficient for their age, and went back to colouring. 

Silas carefully stepped outside and closed the door behind him. He pulled up the holo feed from outside the ship and gave a smug hum to himself at seeing a group of about eleven dark-haired adults, heavily scarred and armed to the teeth while brandishing cuffs trying to get past the shields. He quickly makes his way to the cockpit and pulls up the shields controls. While they’re on the Jetii’s Paladin ship, he can still remotely access the weapons systems of their Kom’rk so he brings up the controls on his vambrace.

It took but a moment to come up with a plan: he’d like to go outside and give these sha’buir'e a piece of his mind but he’d been entrusted with the safety of the ad’e, and it would be best to not disturb them at all. Nodding to himself, he sent an electric pulse through the shields - risky because it temporarily disarms them given the electric overload - but it shocked them into stepping back and right into the range of the Kom’rks front guns. 

They didn’t last long after that. 

He went back to the boys, snacks and drinks in hand while another hour passed peacefully. 

Silas was thrilled when he got the comm from Jango saying that they were on their way back but his stomach dropped when he saw the following request that he prepare the Kom’rk’s bacta tanks for a humanoid ad’s full immersion. 

Kark.

Chapter Text

They had rushed back but it had still taken too long, Tyvokka thought to himself as he stared at the limp body floating in the bacta tank. 

Little Grogu had fared pretty well, only requiring a nice bath to remove dirt from his injuries, a few small bandages, and some salve for a nasty bruise on his back. Obi-Wan on the other hand had apparently done his utmost to keep harm from befalling Grogu — by taking all the damage himself , instead of evading it for the both of them.

The poor cub had malnutrition, a missing milk tooth (thankfully not an adult one), a concussion, an external head injury, several inflamed gashes, some bruises, a broken ankle, several cracked bones including ribs, and to top it all off, karking blaster injuries on his right knee, right shoulder, and left arm — the terrible second- and third-degree burns leaving the remaining skin blistered, discoloured, and swollen. Most concerningly were the blisters that were weeping yellow pus: meaning infection was moving on the young cub. Upon their return to their ships, they had given a quick sponge-bath to the unconscious Padawan to remove as much dirt and lingering bacteria as possible followed by tossing him straight into the bacta tank. 

Tyvokka could only hope to the Force that they had gotten to him in time to allow the bacta to do the necessary healing instead of needing to pull him out early to amputate where the infection was too set-in: to prevent it from stealing away the too-young life. As it was, there was a chance they’d need to remove his right leg at his upper thigh or his left arm just below the bicep depending if they’d gotten him clean and into the bacta in time or not.

If they were lucky and the bacta was able to drive out the infection along with doing its work, the boy would still be looking at several months of physical recovery to regain (hopefully) full mobility along with who knew how long for mental recovery with a dedicated mind-healer. It was outrageous!

It was just sheer dumb luck that higher-quality Tibanna gas couldn’t be sourced on this planet else the blaster bolts would’ve gone deeper: possibly hitting bone or going straight through the young man’s limbs. The cheaper kind still left nasty burns but didn’t hit with as much force; it was likely why there was still so large of a population alive on this planet despite the centuries-long civil war. 

Tyvokka didn’t really want to call that luck — Sith’s luck if anything — but the Force must have been watching out for the cub at least a little given how he had survived on such a hostile planet for so long with minimal support and only had (hopefully, please) non-permanent injuries as evidence of his ordeal. Considering all that he had seen so far and considering that the alternatives to the blaster burns were much worse, Tyvokka might be willing to call such a farce Luck.

Regardless of how lucky (or not), it was still terrible to see those sorts of injuries on anyone, let alone a young Padawan! Especially considering that one of the duties of a Master was to protect their students so they were never so hurt in the first place. 

Not abandon them to their own foolish (if well-meaning) decisions. 

It was such a simple concept that even younglings understood — just look at Obi-Wan’s efforts with Grogu! The more experienced protected the less experienced so they would have a chance to learn and grow. Upon hearing from the Young that the Master was not dead as Tyvokka had first assumed but had instead left Obi-Wan behind… Well, he had felt such rage well up in him that he had to go meditate immediately, lest he allow his temper to get the better of him and cause him to do something truly un-Jedi-like. Once he was calm enough, he determined there was nothing more he could do for the Padawan but wait so he had instead gone out to find a productive outlet for the lingering rage and had dealt with the Melida and Daan scouts testing the shields of their ships. After which, burnt out, he returned and buried himself under the Zabrak cubs, their cheerful little Lights driving the rest of the lingering Dark away. 

Tyvokka was unfamiliar with who this Padawan’s Master was — always an issue when taking any long term missions as a Council member, you always miss so much including the latest apprenticeships and it wasn’t like Obi-Wan could tell him — but once he found out, Tyvokka would certainly have words with them... Words and assigning them to assist in Obi-Wan’s physiotherapy (should the cub agree to his former mentor’s presence) and at least a month’s worth of punishment duty copying archaic records onto more robust flimsy for the Archives. It was a time-sensitive and important duty as the old papers degraded due to the march of time, but also a rather dull task. Truly a non-objectional, necessary task but also a perfect assignment to promote mindfulness, self-reflection, and caution with delicate things . The punishment would be even better should Madame Nu agree with him and help him to reinforce the punishment by finding the right things for the wayward Master to copy. Right things like relevant, pointed texts, perhaps some accounts about protective Masters with their Padawans or old medical texts along with records of what occurred during particularly terrible civil wars or genocides given that was what both the Melida and the Daan were trying to achieve.

His paws clenched in remembered fury, the metal of his sabre creaking in his left paw as he did so. Tyvokka gave himself a minute’s indulgence he allowed his anger to simmer and imagined what he could do with it before he acknowledged the reasons for the feeling, took a deep breath and then huffed his anger out, releasing it to the Force. 

While the rage felt good, protective, righteous, he was no longer in combat and his anger no longer served a purpose besides to justify further violence in the name of vengeance. Vengeance that would serve no purpose than to make himself feel better as the damage was already long since done. For all his trouble controlling his anger, Tyvokka was a Jedi Master and could still easily redirect his emotions towards a more helpful outlet.

An outlet like helping the hundreds of cubs now in his care and trying to find a way to bring peace to this war-ravaged planet. He had heard of the ongoing, neverending plight on this place (you could not help those who did not want it which was why the Jedi and other sentientarian groups hadn’t interceded before now) but he had been unaware that the natives here had sunk so low so as to involve their own children in war and genocide. 

The sheer depravity … 

Shortly after they returned with Obi-Wan and got him the medical care he needed, Tyvokka had only needed to meditate with young Initiate Grogu for a few minutes to determine that they also needed to bring back the Young if they could. All the adults were ill at ease standing around, waiting for something to happen, so they promptly decided that they should reach out at once. Silas had volunteered to remain behind again as the one with the most med-training just in case Obi-Wan crashed and to keep an eye on the Zabrak cubs. After some deliberation, Jango had also elected to stay behind as to not overwhelm the child soldiers and to begin the possible repairs on their Kom'rk along with making his report back to his King. 

With Grogu’s help, they managed to find their ways into the labyrinth of tunnels that stretched from the old capital city to what were once thriving distant communities. It was unclear if they were originally power, sewer, or metro tunnels, in any case they had obviously been allowed to follow into disrepair for decades if not a century and no longer served their built purpose. Tyvokka almost hadn’t believed that cubs were hiding down here if it weren’t for the Initiate’s insistent instructions. 

Eventually a patrol had come upon them and he and Mando found themselves playing diplomat. It had taken a bit of convincing to convince the Young patrol that it was not a trap and to come out and talk. It may not have paid off at all if it were not for Initiate Grogu’s obvious implicit faith in them; the cub’s fearless behaviour around them gave them just enough trust as currency to spend getting the Young to listen to them. It may have also helped that his few injuries were also noticeably treated, the Pantoran skin-toned plasters on his ears and hands standing out starkly on the cub’s green skin.

It had been tough going considering that Mando and Tyvokka were both considered adults and therefore corruptors of safe spaces by the traumatised cubs. It had taken so much time to coax them first from their hiding places and then to speak with them and show them around. It was time well spent earning their trust but emotionally exhausting, especially once the little ones opened up. Part of that opening up though seemed to be to… test them (or to throw their pain in their faces) as the Young showed them the worst of their existence on the tour, which could have stemmed from a sense of dark-humoured mischief or it was from a sense of resignation to show them the worst so they’d be abandoned as quickly as possible for being too much work and not have their hopes drawn out. Tyvokka wasn’t sure which option of the two he hoped for as either way, the cubs would likely need the services of a mind-healer for most of their lives. 

Within minutes, Mando was loudly broadcasting his horror and distress that the cubs were living in such conditions with so little food and supplies. Given what the other had told him about the future, perhaps he was comparing them to his own Covert? Given how upset Mando felt in the Force, it didn’t surprise Tyvokka that Grogu climbed up his armour and then clung to his helmet like a limpet. Despite this not seeming to be the most comfortable of perches, Mando clearly didn’t mind as his hand went up to steady the cub and stayed there, holding a tiny clawed hand.

Whether the reassurance was to remind Grogu that Mando was there and safe or the other way around was hard to say. 

Once the Young had decided they were non-threatening enough to take them from their side bases and into their main hideaway (which was somehow in worse condition than their side one!) and agreed to listen to them, they had then faced the monumental task of convincing them to follow their advice. It had been especially tricky to convince them to leave the only place they found to be safe; partly as they were adults and therefore the ENEMY but also because with Mando reeling in horror (though he was equally not a wordsmith), the job had fallen to Tyvokka

The Wookie Jedi had done his best to really turn on his charm and appear as non-threatening as possible (difficult given his teeth, claws, and towering height of 2.3 metres) along with bringing all of his minimal negotiating skills to bear. If asked later, he would maintain that at least some of his stiltedness was the result of using his comm’s automated translator that they had needed to use for Shyriiwook rather than simply lacking a personable way to approach the hypervigilant cubs. 

Sitting at a low table, his limbs bending awkwardly to fit, he had faced off against the Leaders of the Young, Nield and Cerasi, surrounded by any other cubs interested in the proceedings. At first, he was aiming just to have them accept their med-supplies and food but given his companion’s reactions, he quickly changed tack to convince them to leave with them. He hadn't been trying to argue that before: not because he hadn’t wanted the cubs to come back with them, but before he had been (at first) willing to give them time to settle and get to know them before pressing them to move. Like trying to tame a wild animal, you needed to wait until they were ready to come to you. However, by the end of those first few minutes, it was clear from what he could read in the Force that they would not be leaving the underground labyrinth without the cubs if Mando had anything to say about it. So Tyvokka changed his approach slightly, being a little pushier than he otherwise might’ve. 

That they succeeded could have been from any combination of things. It could be that the Young were impressed that Grogu’s Adult guardian had come for him and seemed protective. It could be also due to how they had brought news of Obi-Wan and Grogu: Nield and Cerasi especially had been relieved to hear of their survival but grieved when they heard how terribly the Padawan was injured. It could be that being a non-human humanoid worked in his favour or the Young had heard tales about protective Wookies as they were not quite as resistant to him as Mando. Oh, they still pushed back at every turn, each kindness viewed with suspicion, but they were still willing to listen to them, to give them the benefit of the doubt. It took time but, eventually, the promise of shelter and a full meal behind fully charged shields was too much of a carrot for them to resist. 

What had really seemed to clinch them as being allies in the minds of the Young was that upon arrival, Jango was in plain sight without his most of his armour (aside from his breastplate and bracers), with open bay doors and he had three big pots of hot soup waiting just outside the ships (still behind the safety of the ray shields but not on the ships, they hadn’t earned that much trust). Then, as soon as Tyvokka and Mando crossed the shield boundaries, the three Zabrak cubs had come running over to hang off of them. Their lack of violent reaction to other children combined with the immediate follow-through of their deal and availability of food had seemed to finally bring the idea home that their tentative trust in them was well-invested. 

At least for now.

Tyvokka was thrilled how well it had worked and now all of the few hundred cubs, each of them nursing some injury, were spread out between the Mandalorian Kom’rk ship and the bigger Jedi Paladin-class ship, getting the food, sleep, first-aid, and fun that they needed… It also meant that the ships were grounded for the foreseeable future as there was no way either of their oxygen reclamation systems could handle supporting so many life forms at once despite the fact that they technically all fit inside (barely but they did!). Though if that was their biggest problem, Tyvokka would count this Force-appointed mission as a solid victory. 

Once they were reassured that the offer of a safe space was genuine, it hadn’t taken long for the soup to disappear and for there to be small sleeping piles of cubs everywhere around and even inside the ships, their small stomachs round from the food they’d consumed. The ones who were not sleeping were mostly those who had been convinced to go to the med-bays for treatment, and those choosing to help with Savage, Maul, and Feral’s self-appointed mission to cover every millimetre of spare wall inside of the Paladin with pictures.

When he had overheard some of the cubs not knowing what to draw as everything they knew was tinged with violence, Tyvokka had felt sorrow well up in him, but before he could assist, like magic, Silas had appeared with colouring books with hundreds of pages and empty line-art on each one, waiting to be coloured. So now even the more hesitant ones were quietly colouring in the pre-made pictures, silently giggling at each outrageous colour combination and just delighting in being cubs. 

The eldest, Cerasi and Nield among them, were further soothed upon being given unlimited access to their med-supplies and upon seeing Obi-Wan getting time to heal in a full bacta tank. The familiar grief and rage had welled in him when Cerasi had confided in him that they hadn’t seen one of those outside of holo-net pictures. Especially as the Young had been even more surprised to find out that once Obi-Wan was stable enough to be decanted that the tank would be available for any of them to use as well: even though a bacta tank could be costly to run. 

Not that they had mentioned that but the eldest had seemed to know anyway.

None of the survivors had been so bad off as the young Jedi so Obi-Wan did remain their priority for tank use, but Silas was spending much of his time with the Young who had had amputations, torn ligaments, burns (both blaster or otherwise) or shrapnel injuries in the last six standard months to determine who would benefit from immersion along with who among them trusted them enough to let them do so. Any injuries older than those six months and they would have already fully healed: meaning that they would require more complex medical intervention (if anything more could be done at all) than a ship’s medbay would allow, but for those in that time frame, bacta injections or a full-out immersion would encourage cell regeneration enough that it was possible that moderate to full mobility or sensitivity could be regained in those areas. 

It was grim work, but the young Mandalorian was rising to the occasion with aplomb. Which was good as Tyvokka could not do the more fiddly work given his paws and unavoidable shedding of fur, while both Mando and Jango (the bleeding-hearts that they were) were hesitating when confronted with any more severe injuries despite seeming to know the basics. 

After a few polite questions from the 17-year old, Tyvokka put Silas in contact with the Medi-Corps to confirm some matters of humanoid health. They had taken in hundreds of cubs and while the cubs immediate needs were met, Silas, using various media he had read over the years, made some very salient points over their ignorance about what their long-term needs could be. Unfortunately none of them had any answers as it turned out that the Mandalorians both had only very specific medical knowledge, Kycina still had yet to regain consciousness, while Tyvokka’s knowledge was limited as a Wookie with no humanoid Padawans mentored and with his own Master being a Noghri. 

Thank goodness for the Medi-Corps and that one of their stations was close-by enough that a comm call was practical! 

When he had left him with his pad, Silas was explaining what medical supplies they had between their ship and what Tyvokka had still from his Taris planet-quake relief run, while also taking notes of what sort of re-feeding diet would be necessary following the Young’s long-term food shortage and what sort of inoculations the cubs would need. 

Tyvokka hoped that the inoculation element would prove to be more planning ahead than an urgent need. Regardless, considering Melida/Daan had been isolated from the galaxy at large for at least two centuries, it would be of grave importance to vaccinate these cubs should any of them choose to go off-planet or have extensive contact with those from off-planet. If they were not careful, it was entirely possible that the survivors of this terrible civil war would fall to microbes instead of blaster fire Tyvokka should be fine given how rarely disease jumped from Wookies to humanoids and Mando, Jango, and Silas had gone through standard de-comm procedures and were washing their hands a lot. The younger Mandalorians would’ve worn their helmets just to be sure they didn’t transmit anything if it hadn’t made all the cubs nervous: Mando seemed to get away with it after explaining its cultural importance to him and given how often Grogu was seen clinging to his helmet while riding on his guardian’s shoulders or head.

It had also given the Young a much-needed distraction as the explanation spurred them to try to come up with important cultural traditions among their people that weren’t just blowing each other up. So far they had only identified a few important animals and plants — often used as clan symbols —, a meat dish called Poc Chuc, and a history of tattooing.

Which wasn’t a lot to go off, but it was a start. 

Tyvokka turned away from the bacta tank and his thoughts, stepping carefully over the sleeping cubs, making his way over to the cockpit to where Jango was sitting, fiddling with a comm, ignoring the light bursts as whichever group outside took potshots at their shields… It seemed either he or one of the Mandalorians would need to go out and take care of them again. At this point it mostly seemed to be posturing as, as soon as they were spotted, the Melida or Daan would usually turn tail and run… only to come back and attempt to be threatening once more.

It would only be a mild nuisance if it didn’t put the cubs in their care on edge. Given how unsettled it made the little ones, Tyvokka was more than willing to go out and crack some heads. Especially considering neither group had responded to his overtures for a ceasefire and talks, and were instead continuing with this pointless nonsense.

There was just no helping some sentients. 

Shaking his head at the frustrating stupidity outside, he focused his attention instead at his new ally/contact. Not wanting to startle him if lost in his thoughts, Tyvokka rumbled quietly <Waiting for a comm?> 

Jango looked down at the comm then back up, “I forwarded Silas’s initial findings back to my buir so that he can bring the necessary supplies we’re missing. Even with the supply stop though, my buir is going to be here soon. He’s coming with the other Haat Mando'ade to enforce a ceasefire and to evacuate the ad’e from this place if they want.”

Tyvokka thought for a moment before he said <That might be enough for me to push peace talks. If they will not react to protect their children, maybe they will listen in order to save their own skins.>

Jango smirked and stopped twisting the comm in his fingers, before lifting his hand to offer it to Tyvokka. “Want to make a statement then?”

The Wookie bared in his teeth in a facsimile of a smile, and took the comm, <I am fond of a dramatic entrance.>

-x-

There had been a whole bunch of hullabaloo and everyone had seemed very tense for several days, and he and Savage and Maul had had to stay put, and listen , and be careful and and and…

Feral knew how to be quiet, how to stay hidden, how to listen . He wasn’t dumb! He had been a Nightbrother, one who needed to hide when the ‘Sisters came in case his being there was seen as dis-re… dis-rypti… a problem and they took offence to a runt being around. 

So Feral understood caution, he just didn’t like it. 

He was bored. Tired of waiting on this ship and not being able to go outside. There were dozens and dozens and dozens of new kids but they didn’t much wanna play; they just wanted to eat, sleep, and hide, and sometimes just stand there and cry. Feral understood that: he and his brothers had done the same each time there was something that was just too new, and it was just so overwhelming. He was even willing to admit that they still did even though they were big now with Silas, Jango, and Ty helping them.

So Feral understood why the newbies would want to stay on the ship and hide — especially if who they were hiding from were anything like the NightSisters and their glowing green aura of doom.

It was just… Ugh. uGh. 

It was just so boring

The new kids, Maul, Savage and he had used so MUCH of Silas’s paper yesterday after having covered the wholllllllllle ship with beau-ti-ful art. Feral was sure there were at least eighty-BILLION pictures. They would’ve also decorated Jango and Silas’s ship if most of it weren’t still being fix’d up so it had been off-limits to them since they landed. Though Silas said at lunch that they had cleaned and the engine was back to-geth-er so they would be okay to explore if they were care-ful and stayed away from the locked doors. So Feral con-vin-ced his brothers they should go scout for where they should hang their next art.

Art. 

Feral liked that word, liked how it rolled off of his tongue. He had said it over’n’over for hours until he had gotten the “r” sound perfect to get the word right. A beau-ti-ful word like that needed to be said right.

Arrrrr-t. 

Having those pictures up… it was like announcing their presence to the whole galaxy! They were bright and loud just so soaked with their joy that it actually radiated off the paper. 

No matter what Savage said, the first time Mister Ty had come stomping back, cranky and angry because of whatever, he had almost fainted with all the Happy Force! Savage insisted that the Jedi had just gotten a bit wobbly but Feral knew better. 

Especially because of how loose and relaxed the Wookie had become after being surrounded by pictures for a few minutes. Ever since then, after he’d go out to be scary, he’d go to the med-room with alllllll the pictures and medi-… mydit-…medta-... sit with his eyes closed and let Feral, Savage and Maul climb on him. After a day or two, some of the braver new kids joined in, though they didn’t climb, just pressed in close and enjoyed the serenity he exuded. 

So anyway, Feral was tired of not doing anything, he wanted to run! To yell loudly because he was here and he could! To create and make it clear that he and his brothers were here. 

He didn’t want to disappoint Mando or Ty by misb’having so it was lucky the other ship was now okay to explore! He wandered through the twisty corridors of the ship, picture in hand with the Wren tape already attached to the corners while Maul and Savage followed behind him with their own pictures. It was pretty neat how many secret spaces there were on the ship, like the crawl spaces behind the wall for fix’ng things (or so Savage said) and there were big empty vents that were fun to crawl through.

Then he stumbled upon the glowy room. 

It immediately made him wary, that the glow was green. It is never a good thing when things glowed green it meant that Sisters were around. But… it wasn’t a bad shade of green, there were also hints of blue to soften it. The place also felt like a giant bruise in the Force, one that would grow to be a deep purple with reds and greys, and the two things together almost made Feral turn around but his curiousness got the better of him — like Savage complained it always did. Savage was always complaining how either Feral’s curiousness or Maul angryness was going to get them into trouble, Feral thought it was slightly unfair how he never whined about his own bluntness. 

Anyway, his curiousness argued that the hint of blue was a good thing so they should give it a chance blue was a rare colour but it was the colour of sky and water which were both good things. So maybe it would help the green be good too? Feral decided he was sure the glowing green room was fine and slid past the door while Maul grumbled how they were gonna get in trouble and Savage just rolled his eyes but they both followed him. Feral knew they had just as much curiousness as he did, and were just trying to be more ma-ch-ure.

Feral saw through them though, and didn't know why they even tried to pre-tend. 

Stealthily he snuck forward through the door and into the glow, and wow! It was coming from a tube filled with blue-y green gunk! And there was a kid in there who was missing a leg! He squinted and tried to bring her features into focus despite the goop: it was one of the YoungSister’s who had liked to colour the pictures of anoobas and make their manes a strong Maul red.

A good colour choice (even if it was the same colour as Maul) as it was bright, LOUD, and not sickly green. 

Feral turned his Force sense on them and was relieved to feel how relaxed they were floating there. The figure cracked their eyes slightly behind their mask and waved at him: Feral thoughtlessly waved back before remembering he was trying to be stealthy! 

A rookie mistake.

Oh well, at least the YoungSister knew that there were friends about! Hopefully her leg would hurt less now too with the happy-green-with-blue glowy goop to help.

He moved around the tube and saw a built-in desk that felt like Silas! There was even a plain cab-in-et beside it for them to stick their art! He passed his art to Savage for safe-keeping and climbed up onto the bench then the desk before he quietly asked for his art. He stuck his art in the upper left corner and then when Savage passed his art up, he also stuck Savage’s and Maul’s up beside his. There! A spot of happy in the bruise room!

That done, he scooted off the desk before linking hands with Maul and Savage to pull them along. His curiousness was not sat-is-fied yet and he wanted to continue ‘xploring.

He crept around the tube and forward again and saw that every bed behind the tank had YoungBrothers and YoungSisters asleep on them (so many!) their presence in the Force feeling like they were coming back together from being broken. It was the weird kind of feeling that showed that a big hurt was healing and being better.

Was this then the room you came to in order to feel better? No wonder it felt like a bruise! The room must see a lot of them and if it feels like a bruise, then you know where you need to go to get help for your bruises!

That was very clever! He would need to make sure he told Silas how smart the idea was when they played together again as this ship was his? Maybe Jango’s? …Nah definitely Silas, he was sensible while Jango was impulsive. Feral had well learned as a NightBrother you had to be sensible — and careful — to keep anything of your own. 

It was definitely Silas’s which made sense as he was also clever enough to make a room feel like a bruise to help others with finding where to go to heal.

Shaking his head as he’d gotten dis-trac-ted by all the big thoughts, Feral looked back at the YoungBrothers and YoungSisters. If they were in a room feeling like a bruise, they probably felt very sore so Feral did his best to push happy-warm at them in the Force and was surprised when there was a sluggish echo back. Curious, he let go of his brothers and stealthed closer, then clambered up on the bed there was an orange-headed YoungBrother sleeping on the sheets with the tiny green frog-eater curled up beside his head.

Wow! He’d never seen that colour hair before! If Maul looked like he’d been dipped in lava, then the YoungBrother’s hair looked like it had swallowed fire. He reached out a careful hand and was a little disappointed when the hair wasn’t hot to the touch.

The bed shifted as Maul and Savage climbed up on the other side to see what caught his interest. 

“He’s wike us!” Feral explained quietly before radiating more happy-warm-feel-better at the YoungBrother who again sluggishly echoed a welcome feeling. “See? He’s a YoungBroder but also li’e a NightBroder! …He could be our broder!”

Maul looked at the sleeping boy carefully before frowning and being angry (again!) and grumping like the grumpy grump that he was: “Ty can do that too. ‘Sides, he can’t be a NightBroder! He don’t have howns!”

Hmm, Maul had a good point but Feral wanted the fiery-hair YoungBrother as a brother even more now that Maul said no. “But ol’Terrorw don’t have howns anymor’ after that Sister ga’e him bac’ to us! And HE was still a broder!”

Maul jerked back at the objection before snarling back, “Well he don’t got our stripes neider! Not! A! Broder!”

Feral audibly gasped and tried to quickly think of an answer, then, not finding one, resorted to the old tried and true rebuttal of all small children. With a cry of “Is SO!” he lunged forward over the YoungBrother and at Maul, but the tiny green one had woken up and Force-Pushed them (RUDE!) off the bed. Maul took advantage of his surprise and rolled them over so he was on Top. Which. NOT ok! With a snarl, he lifted his hips and then they were rolling on the floor but if he won this, the fire-haired brother could be theirs!

The pair were so distracted that they missed how Savage had pulled some of the precious Silas Markers he’d squirrelled away from his pockets and was now looking at the sleeping YoungBrother thoughtfully. 

-x-

Obi-Wan slowly clawed his way back to consciousness as he felt Force-sensitive younglings calling for him visiting? Why would they…? — and then feeling anger-fighting beat against his shields, rousing him from the warm embrace of unconsciousness. If the last few dozen weeks had taught him nothing else, it was to answer when younglings called for him. One never knew what sort of trouble they were in against the wily Elders.

He woke further as his nerves woke up to tell him that while he was in less pain than before, he was still in a lot of it (OW Kark!) , and that there was a weird tickling feeling on his chest. He struggled to open his eyes but they were just so heavy and then once he managed to crack them it was just so bright…

He wasn’t fully awake before he felt both Grogu settling back in to sleep by his head and then the warm presence of Nield came by and his fingers tap-tap-tap an all-clear on his unhurt ankle so Obi-Wan let himself drift back to sleep. 

He was almost asleep when the weird tickling feeling on his skin returned but Nield had this watch, so it must be the medics doing something.

-x-

Jango walked into the infirmary to let Silas know the updated plans and was amused to see the other human watching as a gleeful Savage and one of the older Young — Nield was it? — drew on an unconscious Obi-Wan with black markers. Both Feral and Maul were off to the side, on opposite ends of the room, copying down lines with sullen looks on their faces.

Knowing that Silas would’ve long put a stop to it if the drawings were malicious in nature, Jango wandered closer and put an arm around his friend’s shoulders to draw him in a one-armed hug. Considering all that they had seen here over the last few days, both had been seeking the reassurance of contact and feeling Silas lean into him, he knew that the other had needed it too. 

“What are they up to?” Jango whispered softly, trying to not draw their attention.

“Well, I heard a bit of a commotion and found the Dathomirian trio were already here, with Maul and Feral having a bit of a tussle so they’re in time-out. Nield came by moments after to check on Raanfri in the bacta tube and then the others before he joined Savage at Obi-Wan’s bedside.” Silas smirked, “It seems both Savage and Nield have decided to adopt Obi-Wan. They haven’t disturbed his bandages or his remaining injuries so I’ve left them be.”

Jango turned his head so that Silas was in his line of sight rather than his peripherals and raised an eyebrow. “Elaborate?”

Silas gave a small laugh, “Their cultures are both very permanent and visually based in demonstrations of allegiance — somewhat like ours — but instead of putting it on beskar, they show it on their skin. The lines Savage are drawing on are apparently the Zabrak stripes mixed with the traditional NightBrother familial tattoos and the fierce-looking creature that looks like a mix of nexu, blastail, and spotted tooka that Nield is drawing on Obi-Wan’s forearm and hand is a symbol that the Young decided to usurp. If I understood right, the creature was a sort of clan symbol for a prominent Daan noble clan and also one for the Melida rulers — could be that’s what they’re fighting over? — and now one that the Young use regardless of their former social status or bloodline. Not sure the meaning of it or the… water-lilies I think they are that are around it? If there is any deeper symbolism, it seemed pretty personal so I left it at that once it was clear it wasn’t inappropriate.”

Oh, now that Silas had mentioned it, Jango was pretty sure he had seen that Felidae-creature drawn in varying levels of clarity (as would be expected from ad’e) on clothing, paper, and skin since the Young had come for shelter. When he was helping treat more minor injuries, he had passively noted on one of the older Young that there was a similarly large, spotted feline scarred into his thigh in a way that reminded him of the tā moko of Concord Dawn. Given how personal those were, Jango had chosen not to ask about it and it seemed his instincts were on the nose. 

“That’s one way to go about it,” Jango replied, amused. “Has the Jet’ika been awake long enough to accept his adoption?”

Silas shook his head and looked down at the ‘pad in his hands again to flip through some things while angling it so Jango couldn’t see the charts (Silas took confidentiality seriously) though he still didn’t step out of Jango’s side-hug. “Not yet. Every time he’s stirred, he wasn’t lucid enough to talk. Though between the impromptu marker-ing and the spat that Maul and Feral had, I would expect he’ll be awake soon. Surprised the entire med-bay isn’t awake actually given the ruckus the boys made about whether Obi-Wan was a “brother” or not.”

While they were talking, Grogu blinked awake and, upon seeing what the other two were doing, let out a happy burbling sound and perched on top of the pillow right behind Obi-Wan’s head. The ad then floated a green marker from the pile, then stretched out his hands to place them on either side of the other's head at his temples. The uncapped marker then bobbed unsteadily along, tracing the outline of his clawed hands and then, once finished, the ad took the marker from the air and began to colour in the outlines. 

Jango huffed a laugh, “I guess he’s vod shaped?”

“Guess so.” Silas replied, equally as amused. “That’s three adoptions then?”

“Maybe?” Jango said with a shrug. “I don’t know enough about Jetii to know about their adoption rituals and I don’t even know Grogu’s species to guess at his culture. It could be? We could ask Mando if he’s around — I’m surprised he let Grogu out of his sight.”

Silas hummed thoughtfully, “He seems a bit distracted lately. I’m guessing since he knew Grogu was safe here that he left him so he could try to sort out his thoughts. It must be hard to be far away from others who follow the Way and innately understand him.”

“Good point,” Jango conceded, the part of him that was worried that Mando was avoiding him relaxed at the thought. The other Mandalorian probably just needed his space to de-stress now that they’d recovered his foundling but had found him in a dangerous situation on a planet that was hunting their children. He would need that too if he were in the other’s armour: that he hadn’t seen Mando since they rescued the ad’e a few days ago was likely a coincidence.

They watched with amusement as every inch of Obi-Wan that wasn’t covered by bandages or cloth got Zabrak marker tattoos especially as first Feral and then a reluctant Maul finished their time-outs and joined Savage’s efforts. Nield seemed pleased to stick to his chosen patch of skin as his design on Obi-Wan’s forearm only grew more detailed. Eventually, the ad’e ran out of steam and joined Grogu in having fallen asleep where they were sitting, uncapped markers leaving streaks on the beds and on their skins. Silas went over and with Jango’s help reclaimed his markers and tucked the little ones in around Obi-Wan, the four/five-year-olds curling into the Jetii’s warmth.

Wanting to spend more time with his best friend and wanting to avoid getting underfoot (especially considering how the ad’e feared him as an Elder despite Jango having only recently become a legal adult in the eyes of the galaxy), Jango offered to help Silas with his paperwork and reports. The younger Mandalorian gave him a curious side-eye but willingly handed over an extra ‘pad and asked Jango to turn his rudimentary notes into a coherent report for the Mand’alor so that he could instead check on his patients and update his charts then check in again with the Medicorps Healer Winlyn. 

They then spent a few hours leaning together on the small bench, mostly in silence except when Jango needed to ask a few clarifying questions. It only ended once Silas finished updating everything and left to go make a comm call in private — even with just his Emergency Aid Medic certification under his belt, Silas took confidentiality as seriously as any Doctor or Healer. 

Shortly after Silas left, Jango finished up what work the other had allowed him to do, so he locked the pad and left it on Silas’s makeshift desk for the other to give a quick look-over before submitting it. Then, for lack of anything else to do, Jango went to go see Tyvokka. 

He felt somewhat bad for the Wookie Jedi as he was now three days into attempting peace negotiations with the Melida and the Daan. It hadn’t taken long for either group to respond to Tyvokka’s overtures as soon as he announced that the Mand’alor was coming with his guard after his son had sent a distress call. Given the mercenary reputation that the Mandalorians had, Jango wasn’t all that surprised that the threat of their arrival allowed Tyvokka to open negotiations with the ad-killing war-mongering osi’kovid. Even though it smarted his pride a bit that diplomatic efforts had caused it to seem like he had called for buir like an ik’aad rather than the verd he was.

But needs must — they had to have a sensible reason for Mandalorians to be… well, invading to put it bluntly, a Republic planet. Attacking a foreign heir for doing a necessary emergency landing here when their planets were not at war, was a good starting point.

He found Master Tyvokka inside the shields out of view of any of the ad’e and of the negotiation canopy tents that were set-up on a nearby ridge, pacing and clenching then unclenching his fearsome paws, clearly attempting to regain his temper. It was apparent though that he was struggling based on his body language and how the air felt… static-y, like lightning was about to strike. 

“Are the talks going that well?” He asked drily, wordlessly inviting Tyvokka to unburden his worries to him. 

<Just delightful > Tyvokka snarled furiously, taking Jango by surprise. Over the last few weeks, he’d gotten to know the Jedi decently well, enough to know that the rumour of Jedi being emotionless was so much anooba-crap, but had never seen the other so close to unleashing the infamous Wookie temper. <The talks once again went nowhere. The only thing they can come to an agreement about is their mutual indignation that their children would rise up against them instead of dutifully going to work in factories or die in glory for having killed others on the opposing side.>

Jango winced, how did this civil war get so bad? Even their equally violent one that was in the Mandalorian sector hadn’t escalated to this point: despite being better armed and trained along with knowing exactly why they hated the other factions. They hadn’t decended into genocide or promoting ethnic cleansing — though Jango could easily imagine some (but only some) of the more notorious members of Kyr’tsad calling for their verd'e to cull those they deemed unworthy. And if Mandalorians ever did get to such a point and if ad’e from the Evaar’Mandoade, Haat’Mandoade, and Kyr'tsad had banded together against them because of how unhappy they were by their actions, then most Mando’ade —regardless of faction — would have laid down arms. The ones that would refuse wouldn’t be Mando’ade regardless of which ‘Alor they claimed to follow..

Ad’e were the future. They were the Way. It was something (maybe the only thing) all three of the main factions all agreed upon.

If ad’e were so unhappy to the point of being willing to abandon their aliit and their aliit’yaim, then that was a sign that something was fundamentally wrong. It would be an obvious sign to stop fighting and being so hot headed, and to reevaluate their goals. That the Daan and Melida took it as a sign they needed to try harder … 

Well, then they weren’t just merely hard-headed Shabuir’e but were outright Demagolka — and that was not a word Jango would use lightly. 

Tyvokka must have seen the revulsion in his face and nodded, <Exactly. Abominable people. I feel like I need a sonic to wash the filth away after the morning deliberations.> 

“Anything I can do?” Jango asked sympathetically. 

<I know we decided that having you Mandalorians present would be a bad move diplomatically considering these are closed insular negotiations on a Republic planet,> Tyvokka said with a sigh, <but I am very tempted to have you, Silas, or Mando to stand behind both tables. Considering how well known Mandalore is for being protective of those not yet at the age of majority, it might have them stay on topic, or at least not brag about how they have “punished” their misbehaving offspring.>

Once his brain translated the rapid Shyriiwook, Jango swallowed down his rage at the callous words the locals used to describe their actions. Yep, they were Demagolka alright; totally lost in the joy of bloodshed that they had lost all purpose or hope for an after, they just wanted the war. Once Jaster got here he’d be hard pressed to keep the more… impulsive among them from doing a precision strike or orbital bombardment on these sentients. 

“If it would help lessen your headache any I would,” Jango replied once he was sure he could keep his voice even, “as it is though, I think I would add to it. You have more patience for such shabiir’e spewing nonsense then I do — I would have lynched one of them on the first day. There’s a reason my burc’ya Myles is filling the position of the ‘Alors right-hand man rather than any of the other Haat’Mandoade or me and it's entirely because of his ability to tolerate osik for more than five seconds.”

<You are young yet and just require a bit of tempering,> Tyvokka said with a laugh, <After all, no metal is perfect while being forged. You remind me of my second Padawan Tholme, he was as impulsive as they come when he was young… Of course, he still is, just a bit better at directing it.> 

“What do you mean?” Jango asked curiously. 

<Most of his missions involve disrupting the slave trade.> Tyvokka rumbled drily, clearly calming down now that he was distracted <Impulsivity tends to result in unpredictability which makes it very hard for slavers to prepare any defences against him. I was so proud when he took out a ring operating out on Ahch-to using a speeder, flimsiplast, a barrel of apples, and a spork.>

Before Jango could weasel out any further detail from the Jedi, his comm beeped. Looking down at his wrist, he saw that Jaster messaged him in Mandalorian [In orbit. Turn on your location or send coordinates.]

“Ah, my buir is here.” Jango said, squinting up at the sky as though he could see past the clouds and atmospheric distortion to see the comparatively small space-craft. 

<Oh good.> Tyvokka said with menacing cheer, the air turning static-y again, <Could you ask him to wait about a few minutes before beginning his descent? It may be a diplomatic incident for non-members of the Republic to be at the negotiating table, but I will gladly remind them of the reputation Mandalorians have against child-abusers and if a few minutes later, they just happen to witness a small Mandalorian fleet coming to the rescue of their Prince… Well that’s completely an unrelated situation.>

Jango quickly typed out Tyvokka’s request and then turned his location transmitter on, laughing meanly as he did so. “I’m sure the two things are unrelated.”

Tyvokka just waved a paw at him and walked back towards the canopy tents, a spring in his step as he did so. Within a few minutes, Jango could see all the “delegates” were back inside and so sent his buir a message reading only Oya!

Jango was sure that if he were Force-sensitive, he would have felt a wave of panic emanating from the negotiation tents as dozens of Fang-Fighters, well-over thirty Kom’rk class ships, and at least five AIAT class ships broke atmosphere and descended just about half a kilometre away. They had had to settle so far away as it was the closest patch of land with enough space for all their ships while also being clear of mines (or at least it was as far as the Young knew and Tyvokka could sense). 

The swarm of ships on their own were intimidating especially considering all their visible blaster ports, but it was truly the size of the crafts that sent a message to the Melida/Daan. While the Fangs could only carry 1-2 sentients at a time, the Kom’rks with their 70x52x13 metre size could easily have a hundred or so passengers while the AIATs with their 31x30x12 metre size easily fit fifty minus crew. All told, it easily looked like a few thousand Mandalorians had come to “rescue” the “stranded” Jango and Silas — an invasion force if they didn’t have such a convenient excuse. 

Now, Jango knew it wasn’t that many Mandalorians (maybe one thousand all-told?): their passenger carrying capacities were only so high when they were also carrying the bare minimum of supplies. Considering the accidental comm call Jaster had had with Obi-Wan along with both Jango and Silas’s follow-up reports, Jango was confident assuming that at least a third of all of their holds carried supplies and medicine rather than verd’e. 

Especially considering this might turn into an evacuation. 

Still, Jango mused while watching the figures on the ridge dart about around the tent, clearly flustered, the Melida/Daan warmongering morons were right to be afraid. It was one of the few times that the rumours were wholly accurate: Mandalorians did not take kindly to the abuse of children, nevermind those who actively waged war against them. Frankly, if it didn’t mean declaring war on the whole Republic, they would already be ash. 

With that cheery thought, Jango turned away and put his buy’ce back on for the first time in days while he left the shelter of the ships’ shields. Activating his jet-pack, he raced over to where the first ships were just starting to land, ready to welcome his Mand’alor and buir to the clusterfuck.

-x-

Jaster couldn’t help but feel relief as he spotted his ad as soon as the bay doors of his AIAT opened. He knew that Jango was fine — he’d had Silas with him so even if Jango did something jare’la, the other verde would cover him — but he’d sent the pair out to look into new trading partners along the Five Veils spacelane as well as to set-up future meetings if locals responded favourably and to also go to Pantora to get a bacta tank installed in the newest Kom’rk that the Haat’Mandoade had acquired, not go to a planet embroiled in a civil war.

So seeing Jango there waiting for him was a relief.

He drew his ad in for a brief kov’nyn, their buy’ce clinking together, quietly pleased at how his ad relaxed into him despite being an alor of his own squad and in training to lead a platoon along with being an “Adult buir! C’mon! Enough with the ad stuff!” 

He patted Jango on the shoulder and stepped away, quietly praising him in Mando’a over their private comm, [You did good my child. I am very proud of how you and your comrade-in-arms have handled this situation. You have represented our people admirably, now you can stand down and allow me to take over.]

[Thank you parent,] Jango replied rapidly in the same tongue, his fluster at Jaster’s praise apparent in his tone. [I am pleased that you thought I was ready to carry the responsibility.]

Jaster then called out orders on the open comms to set up guard rotations and to get urgent medical and food supplies on the hoversled, along with replacement parts for the damaged Kom’rk. It was the work of a few moments as they had already bunched together supplies while travelling along the hyperlane and once everything was loaded up, Jaster, Jango, the six verd’e who had decided they were Jaster’s personal guard and ten of their best medics began to walk the few hundred metres or so over to where the other two ships were parked.

As they walked, Jaster’s private comm buzzed before Jango began to speak again [I am glad you got here without trouble. This place is awful. I feel dirty for every second I stay: speaking of which, you will need to keep an eye on your warriors. None of them will like what is happening here and may react badly, wrath of the Republic be damned. I think you will like the Jedi Tyvokka and the Child of the Way Mando, they both seem to have their priorities in the same order as a True Mandalorian.]

Both Silas and Jango had mentioned the other two in their reports and Jaster was cautiously optimistic. While stuck in transit for over a week with nothing more to do than to worry about Jango (as any other ongoing operations were either on standby or had been diverted to Melida/Daan), Jaster had tried to distract himself by researching the situation as best he could. As expected, what little was known about the Civil War on Melida/Daan made his stomach sink to his toes and his stress skyrocket so he had quickly instead switched to researching the acquaintances the pair had made when rescued from the pirates. 

The follower of the Way was a mystery — which he’d expected considering one of the main reasons those of the Way withheld their names and appearances from all but their closest aliit was to avoid being identified. He had reached out to the only Goran he was aware of who served the Children of the Way just in case but xe had not heard anything of a Way verd with a full set of unpainted beskar armour or about one of theirs being sent so far out of sector either (or wasn’t willing to say so). Based on the reports sent though by Silas and Jango, he seemed a decent sort.

The Jetii master they had had better luck researching as Tyvokka was a well-reputed Jetii and a member of the Jetii Council, in addition to being well-respected on Kashyyyk: meaning reporters would often comment on his movements and actions even when it wasn’t front-page news like with the other council members. From what he read, Jaster thought the Wookie would get along well with his people.

…Maybe if he played his cards right the Wookie Master would help him to gain access to the Jetii Archives? When he had reached out before, a Madame Nu had regretfully advised him that he would be unable to check anything out remotely or go in person for the time being. When he’d asked why not, he’d been told it was against Jetii policy for non-datapad material to be checked out for delivery to war-torn areas as it rarely made it back, while both an in-person visit and borrowing material that could be sent to a ‘pad was forbidden by Senate sanctions. It turned out while the Haat’Mandoade were busy fighting Kyr’tsad, the Republic Senate had lumped both groups together and declared them all to be “terrorists.” They had decreed trade to be cut-off and no information to be traded with the whole sector until power was restored to the rightful Evaar’Mandoade government. Which had been news to him! Both the Evaar’government and the sanctions! 

Jaster wouldn’t have cared (aside from possibly feeling a sense of irritation at the Senate shoving its nose where it didn’t belong) if the whole nonsense hadn’t prevented him from visiting the galactic-renowned Archives! They had records going back millenia! It was a scholar’s dream to visit! It was the first and only time Jaster had ever broken a ‘pad upon being told why his request was denied — Jango still hadn’t let it go, bringing it up every time Jaster reminded Jango to control his temper. 

But now he was on the same planet as a Council member: with enough luck, he might be able to convince the Wookie Master to help him go around the useless Senate sanctions. Maybe. 

Jaster shook his head minutely, he had gotten lost in his thoughts and needed to refocus. He could daydream about getting access to the Archives later. Now that he’d ascertained that Jango was fine, he needed to follow up with the two ad’e and their situation that he’d mobilised his people over. As they approached the visibly glowing shields and saw the few brave but thin waifs who were looking at them suspiciously from the other side, he felt his stomach sink. 

This might be even worse than Jango and Silas’s reports painted it to be. 

The shields flickered then the section in front of them faded from sight, allowing Jaster, Jango, and the few others with them to pass through unhindered. The Medics immediately began to gather supplies and then visibly repressed their instincts to immediately start fussing over the ad’e, instead setting up a tent outside and waiting for someone to come to them. It didn’t take long before Silas and an ad with strawberry-blond hair of maybe fourteen years to approach.

Knowing he’d only be in the way, Jaster left all ten of the medics alone to make their own inroads with the skittish ad’e and to get to work. He also figured that even if he weren’t underfoot that they would still probably have an easier time with those traumatised by the war if he, an obvious soldier, wasn’t lurking nearby. With that thought in mind, he instead turned to his own “welcoming committee”, the figure in full beskar armour who had the small green youngling from the comm perched on his shoulder and two small ad’e hiding behind his cape but peering at them with big curious eyes. 

Turning on his external comms, Jaster began to speak in Basic in deference to the locals with the Mando’ad and the other ad’e hiding around the area pretending not to eavesdrop. “Greetings! I am sorry it took us so long to get here but I’m Jango’s parent and both his and Silas’s commander. We came with food and medical supplies along with as many of the requested vaccines as we could find.”

“Thank you,” the other answered in equally accented Basic, “we are glad you came. The food and medicine is very welcome. Jango will be thrilled to be able to finish repairing his ship. It has been nerve wracking knowing that we could not quickly and safely retreat off the planet if it became necessary without a tow.”

An awkward silence then fell and the other Mandalorian shifted awkwardly from foot to foot. Jaster sighed internally, he had seen similar behaviour in verd’e who’d been in the field too long. If the Haat’Mandoade won the civil war, he would encourage the beroya among them to branch out a little as all the ones who did nothing but hunt all seemed to struggle to hold a conversation. He was no mind doctor, but he was pretty sure that was not a good thing. 

Deciding to break the ice, Jaster latched onto the first topic that came to mind, “My child said you were a follower of the Way so I understand you will not give out your hidden name, but would you consider sharing your Armoured name so we have something to call you? The verd’e with me are Ruusan of Clan Vhett, Br’ce of Clan Wayyn, Myles of Clan Eldar, Toobi of Clan Katze, Anya of Clan Ordo, and Ceeri of Clan Rivia. I am Jaster of Clan Mereel.”

Myles snorted, amused, and piped up “You forgot to include Mand’alor of the Haat’Mandoade from your introduction there Alor.”

Upon hearing “Mand’alor,” the verd across from him stilled in a way that signalled to any used to reading armoured body language that Jaster had the Mando’ad’s full attention. Which, depending on why he did it, could be either a good or bad thing. Jaster was willing to pretend to ignore it until the reason behind the other’s behaviour change became apparent. 

“You’re Mand’alor?” the other breathed, just audible enough to be caught by the buy’ce’s vocoder. Then louder he awkwardly said, “You can call me Mando. My Armoured name is Mando. Call me that. Please.”

“Not very original,” Ruusan commented drily, the antenna of the Kilik moving in the way that Jaster knew meant that she was amused even though her expression was hidden by her buy’ce.

The Mando’ad slumped a little while the ad’e clinging to him giggled. “I know, but it was what others have called me since I began the work of a beroya and I’m too used to it to change now.” He straightened and looked at Jaster in the way that Jaster knew meant the other was looking him in the eye. “If you are Mand’alor, what are the tenets that you demand Mandalorians follow?”

Jaster jerked his head back a little, surprised by the non-sequitur and also a bit by the other’s ignorance. Mando must have been living under a rock if he hadn’t heard what Jaster’s faction stood for in the two decades the Mandalorian civil war had raged. Ka’ra knew he and Vizsla were not subtle with what they screamed at another when they were on the same battlefield. Jaster also knew there were compilations made by his verd'e (who thought they were funny) of approximately two decades worth of holo recordings of their verbal fights which sometimes even included a few back and forth opinion pieces in holojournals and message boards before things escalated to the point of violence. The longer ones would even sometimes include the few rare occasions they teamed up against the Evaar’Mandoade when they would go too far for either faction to stand. Despite how obnoxious Jaster found them (mostly as they had been made to tease him), he couldn't deny that they were effective at summarizing the different factions perspectives.

But here for once was a verd who hadn't seen those infernal videos and was instead asking him directly! Well, Jaster wouldn’t say no to explaining the project that had become his life’s work. Ignoring the groaned “Here we go again” from behind him, Jaster jumped into explaining. He somewhat resented his verd’s teasing as he had perfected his turbolift speech and could summarise his work into the span of a few minutes…even though he could talk about it for hours. So he briefly explained the main points of the Supercommando Codex to Mando and how it had been developed from the roots of their culture: from the Codes of Honour held millennia ago by the Crusaders and how he’d tied it to the Resol'nare’s six-tenets. He finished off by explaining, “I ask that those who follow me, to follow the codex so we can stay true to our culture without antagonising the whole galaxy or worsening the perception that our people are feral, mindless thugs without any intelligence or interest outside of violence.”

“...I believe you. I’d follow you if you stay true to that.” Mando said as he continued to look at him carefully. “No Take-Backs!” Then before Jaster or his verd could react, he abruptly grabbed something off the back of his belt and threw it at Jaster. His beskar buy’ce rang out loudly as the metal came into contact with it and Jaster’s head knocked back with the force of the unknown object. 

The verd’e guarding him had all drawn their blasters at Mandos aggressive action, though they had hesitated to fire in consideration of the ad’e who had scattered and hid again as soon as blasters had come out of holters… And possibly also as Jaster was noticeably unharmed, no grenade or other weapon had gone off, while Mando seemed to be doing a strange shuffle dance and the green ad on his shoulder laughed joyously. 

Jaster crouched down to pick up the small silver tube that now sat harmlessly on the ground, nudging it a little first with his finger before deeming it safe. After he gently grabbed it, he accidentally hit an almost invisible switch and suddenly a dark blade haloed in white thrummed to life, thankfully stabbing harmlessly into the barren soil rather than Jaster’s thigh. Jaster jerked and just managed to avoid dropping the blade in his surprise. 

What the…?

A moment ago, his guards, Jango, Silas, and the other ad with them at the Med-Tent had all been shouting, trying to restore order and figure out what was going on. Now, the space was dead quiet, with the exception of the still happy, giggling green ad, as all the Mandalorians stared in awe at the object in his hands while the local ad’e seemed to wait on tenterhooks, frightened, to see if a fight would break out.

Jaster knew he was being no help in resolving the standoff, but he couldn’t stop staring at the weapon in his hand. Had the Child of the Way just thrown the Darksaber at him? After childishly calling “No Take-Backs?”

What was even going on on this infernal planet?!

Chapter Text

This… being. 

He hated him.

The others… the others just didn’t understand. They kept trying to get him to explain but how can anyone explain why their arch enemy is the worst? The… jerkiest jerk who ever travelled the galaxy?

There… was just something about him. 

Something that made him…

Rage.

Why was his face like that? Why was he glowy like that in the Force? Why had Savage used the good markers to claim him?

And how dare he steal his brothers from him? 

Maul leaned over to poke sharply at the sleeping not-a-Brother in the head in a fit of irritation. The idiot had the rudeness to be sleeping when Maul wanted to yell at him.

The carrots-for-brains didn’t even stir! 

RUDE!

Maul raised a hand so he could slap the sleeping jerk in his smug, stupid face when pale fingers closed around his wrist.

Ah. 

He slumped to show the Nightsister, his Hunt Mother (!), that he would not fight back. The Sisters didn’t like it when males got uppity and even at five years old, he knew better. Besides, she had come back for him — he didn’t know Sisters would do that.

Didn’t want her to regret doing that. 

The NightMotherSister Talzin was scary and he had been so ha… relieved that someone came and got him. 

Though his thank-ful-ness did not stop Maul from pouting that his attempt to get even with his rival had been foiled. Even if he would never admit it.

“Little whelp,” Kycina whispered softly, the hand that was not holding his own reaching up to gently wrap fingers around his fore-horns in an affectionate gesture. Maul leaned into it with a happy chirr, “I was wondering where you had gotten to. Why have you wandered so far from your hunt brothers?"

Maul whined at the reminder: he couldn’t help it. He didn’t like being far from his brothers but... He had needed REVENGE on the bloody-haired interloper! The Brother Thief! It was a matter of honour!

He wanted to punish the spotty-one (stripes were so much better )…He wiggled a little to see if the Sister had relaxed her grip any but no dice. 

“Maul.” She repeated, sounding impatient, and he instinctively stiffened at the tone. Resigning himself to the inevitable, he mumbled, "Brove's were s'eeping and I wasn't s'eepy."

Kycina tilted her head for a moment before she nodded and replied, "I understand. I have been sleeping for days so I am not sleepy either." 

Maul perked up. It sounded like the Nightsister, his Hunt Mother(!) was on his side! And that she wasn't going to ask him more about why he was here! (Maybe she would help him hit the interloper harder!)

"I am here to speak with the Wookie," Kycina then continued, before asking a question in the same soft tone of voice that Hunt Uncles use when they know the answer and are disappointed, but still want you to say it aloud yourself. "What is your purpose here? On a foolish boy-child's sick bed no less?"

Drat.

Maul felt tears well up and did his best not to let them fall. He was a strong warrior and hunter! He’d passed his first hunt and had earned his Night Brother tattoos! He was no baby!

So…

So why couldn’t he stop himself from shaking? From those tears spilling? From those stupid whiny hiccuping sounds from escaping? 

He…He was just so MAD!

It was so unfair! And HARD! He had been made to leave with scary MotherSister Talzin and she killed their Hunt Father Stab in front of them, their hut was set on fire in pun-ish-ment for res-is-ting, Maul had been made to leave Feral and Savage, their Hunt Mother had met them for the first time and then gotten hurt and then wouldn’t wake up, they had had to leave the NightBrothers — their Hunt Brothers and Hunt Uncles — behind along with their whole planet, they’d almost gotten attacked by pirates, and now they were on another scary planet with lots of scary weapons and they couldn’t leave the ship because their were lots and lots of angry OldSisters here who would take offence to male whelps being underfoot, and then this stupid copper-topped spotty moron was going to take away the only thing he had left of his home and cared about and…!!!!!!

Maul stilled when he realised that HuntMother had pulled him into her arms and was holding him close, if a little awkwardly, as he cried, hiccuped and wailed at how unfair everything was. Well, if the Sister was the one who initiated contact, she couldn’t be mad could she? 

In for a bee, in for a hive — Maul twisted his fingers into the fabric of her shirt and clung, pressing his face into her chest as though burrowing into the Sister would protect him from all the terrible-ness of the last few weeks. 

He wanted his home back! He wanted Hunt Father Stab and their little hut with the big bed for the four of them to pile onto! He wanted to play with the other whelps and practice spear fishing with Hunt Uncles Shank and Tear. He even wanted to sit through dumb ol’Hunt Elder Fang’s lectures on plants.

He didn’t like this!

Maul barely registered Kycina’s hands shifting slightly to hold him, then standing and walking away with him. As he cried and cried and cried and then he was with his brothers, sleepy Savage and Feral reaching for him and pulling him back into the nest while Hunt Mother Kycina curled around them and whispered soothing things.

Exhausted and hiccuping, he reluctantly let go of the Nightsister to instead cling to his brothers as though they would vanish on him at any moment. If he held them tight, they would be safe and stay with him, right? 

Having exhausted himself, Maul quickly fell asleep.

-x-

It had apparently been about four days since Obi-Wan was last lucid and so much had changed since then: Grogu and Obi-Wan had been rescued, he had spent two days in a bacta tank, the Young had taken shelter with his rescuers, and (remarkably) he still had almost all his fingers and toes. 

Which… he hadn’t realised back when he first woke up.

It sucked once his brain finally processed what had happened, but he didn’t think it would’ve gone over any better if he had noticed immediately. 

But he didn’t notice, for better or worse, because phantom pain had his brain convinced that everything was there and simply just in a lot of pain… so it was very upsetting though once he’d fully woken up and was aware, to discover that his right leg was, well, shorter than expected. It had also been startling to discover that he had almost died of infection before they had made the call to amputate his right leg below the knee… 

Obi-Wan had always known it was possible that he'd be badly injured: he’d meditated on it and thought he’d come to terms with the possibility after he decided to stay and support the Young’s cause. And yet, now that he was lying down on this cot, he was terribly aware that he’d subconsciously fallen into a common Young pitfall - the mindset that while serious injury or death was possible, it wouldn’t happen to him. That even if he’d been hurt, he would heal and be good as new. While he’d known he was in bad shape after the disastrous comm call, it hadn’t occurred to him that he wouldn’t be fine. His hubris had caught up with him and now he was half a limb short…

Though he also no longer had a broken right ankle, so there was that. 

..

The flippancy might be the shock talking.

Though he’d been on the other side of this routine with other members of the Young, so maybe the flippancy was just him coping? They had learned that anyone seriously injured needed to focus on the positives instead of the bad so that once the numbness wore off, they’d hopefully have managed to find some semblance of mental solid ground to return to after the inevitable breakdown. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if he’d found stable ground, if he was treading water, or if he was just drowning and his mind hadn’t realised it yet. 

But, positive thoughts. 

His best attempt so far was the thought that while he would need time and a lot of time-consuming physiotherapy in order to regain full mobility, he should still be able to do so once he got a prosthesis. Weirdly enough, he didn’t have to scramble to think of something good even if they weren’t necessarily positive. There was actually a lot for him to be cautiously hopeful about now: though after three months of hell, he would feel positive about simply having hot food and clean clothes, never mind the tremendous windfall that the Young had received.

He was thankful for all that had happened while he was unconscious. It was a huge relief to wake up and find out that all the Young he’d put under his protection were now all somewhere safe and looked after. He was even thankful for losing his leg because, while he mourned its loss, he didn’t particularly want to die from infection and knew his rescuers made the right call. He was also delighted that Grogu had managed to reunite with This-Is-The-Way. Somehow, even after they had failed in comming him directly, the Mandalorian had still managed to find them… Maybe now that they were here in person and he was actually awake and alert, Obi-Wan could finally learn their name. 

According to Medic Silas, back when he was still groggy and not all the way lucid, Grogu and his guardian Mister The Way came by. Not that Obi-Wan remembered this, but Medic Silas seemed almost glad to reiterate that "I'm so happy you're okay" was not a good opening statement to someone when you’ve almost died due to injuries gained while protecting them. 

So… that was his bad. Obi-Wan had slowly nodded while Medic Silas ranted and made pointed glances at him, mentally filing a reminder to not say such a thing until he was at least out of the Healing room. Maybe not at all? Obi-Wan wasn’t totally certain about that as he was told it was a good thing to verbally express his feelings, and he was happy that his little friend had been okay. Maybe it just wasn’t something to say to younglings? 

Either way, apparently after Obi-Wan’s inconsiderate comment, Grogu had been inconsolable. The youngling had immediately wiggled out of Mister The Way's arms to instead cling to him and then had freaked out further when Obi-Wan passed out again moments later. They’d eventually coaxed him to let Obi-Wan go to prevent Grogu from accidentally pulling or grabbing something that was still healing. Medic Silas then broke out his datapad to show Obi-Wan a picture of how the youngling had slept with him, curled around his head but not touching him until he woke up.

Obi-Wan had already felt guilty and felt infinitely worse at how sad Grogu looked in the picture. He definitely owed the youngling an apology and probably also owed one to This-Is-The-Way when he saw him again for stressing out his youngling so much.

Anyway, things had ended just about as well as could be expected, maybe even better than expected considering how low Obi-Wan’s expectations had been when Master Jinn took off for the Temple and left him behind with his shattered dreams of being a Jedi Knight.

No, positive thoughts. He wasn’t going to think about that again, what was done is done.

It became infinitely easier not to dwell on negative thoughts as he first sensed, then saw both Nield and Cerasi walk into the infirmary. He had seen them yesterday, but he was still blown away today by the stark difference a week had made on them. Oh, already their Force presences felt so much lighter and unstressed. They were like… suns shining after thick clouds had moved away, they felt almost blinding in their brightness after so long being overcast. He was so happy for his friends! He felt the feelings grow and grow, and just… swell up in him and it was a little overwhelming how much he was feeling.

He burst into tears.

Later if asked, Obi-Wan would blame the pain medication and being thirteen in a warzone before saying he couldn’t quite recall why he had cried but, in truth, it was just overwhelming relief to no longer be responsible for the lives of hundreds of younglings, the loss of stress of trying to figure out how to provide for them all, while also overwhelming happiness for his friends who were equally no longer in such a position.

His reaction didn’t go unnoticed though and the pair of them came rushing around the corner from where they were talking with Medic Silas to immediately come to him and see what was wrong. Upon hearing that the problem was just feelings, Nield gave him a condescending pat on the head while Cerasi had given in to the laughter she had been suppressing since seeing him, which was… fair. 

After all, he had been forbidden from attempting to wash off the permanent markers that decorated his skin and he knew he looked a sight. While he hadn’t seen himself in a mirror yet — so he didn’t know exactly how bad it was — from what he could see and from Medic Silas’s helpful commentary, he was aware of every patch of un-bandaged skin on his front, head, or limbs had either been covered with mimicry of Zabrakian stripes and clan tattoos, with Grogu’s handprints, or with a Daan clan symbol. Why anyone had seen fit to give younglings who were not yet the mental equivalent of six (along with Nield, troublemaker that he was) permanent markers was a bit beyond him… though Obi-Wan could admit it was a little funny. 

Yesterday, when he had first woken up and was lucid, Nield had been the one to solemnly inform him that he wasn’t allowed to erase the markers as punishment for missing his check-in, for the new grey hair that he had caused Nield, and because it would make younglings sad. If pressed, Obi-Wan might admit how touched he was that all of these sentients wanted to claim him as one of their own.

Maybe, once he was older and had more time to think about it, and if the others didn’t come to regret their claim, he might even make such marks permanent… He was only thirteen (maybe fourteen? What day was it? Had his birthday passed?) and was certainly not prepared to commit to any permanent body modification at this time. Also if he were to get tattoos, he’s sure that his older self would probably want to put them in more strategic places, maybe a little smaller and more carefully placed so that they looked organised and nice together. 

He was jerked out of his thoughts when Cerasi gently poked him in the forehead and said, “Where has your mind wandered off to now?”

He hoped his mind hadn’t wandered, leaving one’s body behind was a dangerous thing to do when Force-sensitive. Never knew what might take advantage and possess the shell of crude matter left behind… or move the body so that the spirit walker was unable to find their way back. Abruptly concerned he had actually done so, he voiced his concerns aloud. 

Cerasi and Nield shared a look. If Obi-Wan wasn’t struggling to think through the fog of painkillers, he may have even been able to understand the look but Medic Silas and Healer Winlyn had insisted that he take the meds. Though he supposed they didn’t taste as bad as the antibiotics…

“Obi-Wan?” A cool hand pressed on his forehead, and then he was looking into Cerasi’s green green green eyes. “Your thoughts are wandering off again.”

Oh! Right! His friends were here! 

Nield smiled mischievously from where he was perched on the end of the bed, gently squeezing Obi-Wan’s (only) foot. “C’mon Obi! Cerasi and I have come all this way to jailbreak you! You gotta pay attention to us!”

Cerasi looked at Obi-Wan and added on with a loud stage whisper, “If you ignore him, poor Nield’s ego might collapse.” 

Obi-Wan snorted a laugh before he realised what Nield said, “Wait! I’m able to leave the infirmary?”

Nield gave a so-so gesture with his hand before replying “Somewhat? We’ve gotten permission to take you out for a few hours on the condition we both stay with you and you don’t overdo it. They’d like it if you were in a hoverchair or wheelchair or on crutches but we don’t really have any of those things on-planet. So we modified one of the mechanic’s creepers from the Kom’rk’s cargo bay and combined it with a hover supply-dolly from the Paladin’s bay so we can push you, but it won’t fit in the halls here. You’ll just have to settle for Cerasi and me being your supports until we get outside.”

“You were always my support, ever since I got here,” Obi-Wan replied absently, words rushing out of his mouth without a thought. He was confused when Cerasi gave a startled laugh in response while Nield’s ears went red and looked away. What was it that he had said? 

Obi-Wan was saved from thinking of the intricacies of interpersonal communication while impaired on painkillers when Medic Silas came bustling over. 

“You are cleared to take him out provided he passes this check-up. If you could step away for a moment?” Medic Silas said while he propped up the comm-call he had running with Healer Winlyn on the side table, the cheerful Rakata waving at Obi-Wan once she caught his eye. He didn’t even look to see if Nield and Cerasi had obeyed his orders before he turned to Obi-Wan. “Now, Obi-Wan, normally I would never do this in the open infirmary but as we are very, very limited in space, are you alright with me doing your check-in here?”

That was an important question and Obi-Wan did his best to think it through. Looking around the infirmary, he saw only the Young, the backs of Nield and Cerasi, and the two Doctors so he was sure it was fine. All of the Young had seen the entirety of him anyway so if anything, it was being around the Doctors for a check-up that he didn’t trust or want. On the other hand, while the Doctors being Doctors wouldn’t be enough to gain the trust they were asking of him, the fact that one of them was still close enough to being a Young in age (and had been involved in his rescue) while the other was in the Medicorps, was enough. So Obi-Wan was willing to give them the benefit of doubt and doing it in the main room meant he could get back-up quickly if he needed to.

Not that he thought it would, but that sort of thinking wouldn’t be leaving him anytime soon. 

“Yeah, that’ll be fine,” he said softly as he slowly turned to his side and rolled off the cot on an angle so his foot was on the ground while his torso was still on the mattress. Then with Medic Silas’s help, he pressed up with his arms so that he was standing upright but still braced against the mattress. Breathless, he complained, “It should not be this hard to get up.”

“I know,” Healer Winlyn said, her voice tinny but encouraging through the holo speakers “But it’s wonderful that you’re already getting up on your own! Considering how well your injuries are healing, your ancestry must have some Firrerreo in it to allow your body to recover so quickly!”

Obi-Wan couldn’t help but let a grin split his features at the praise: he was doing well.

Medic Silas patted his elbow lightly to get his attention and when he turned his head to face him, the Medic said “I need you to do your best to stand on your own… That’s it! Very good! Now can you do this with your left arm…” It was hard to stand on his own while Medic Silas and Healer Winlyn led him through a series of balance exercises, reflex tests and rehabilitation stretches. At the end of five minutes, he was sweating like he was beside a lava flow on Mustafar and he felt exhausted. However, both Medic Silas and Healer Winlyn seemed quite pleased with whatever results they had seen and allowed him to sit back down.

He felt as weak as a newborn mouf-calf considering how tired he now was and not at all healed considering how his body ached , but the other two seemed pleased. Medic Silas then carefully removed the bandages to look at his right knee and shoulder then his left arm. As the other moved the bandages and exposed the injuries to the air, Obi-Wan couldn’t help the hiss that escaped through his teeth. While the skin and muscle in those places had mostly regrown, it was still very tender and the exposure to air stung his healing burns.

Medic Silas gave him a commiserating look even while his hands didn’t falter and wrapped the injuries again with new bandages that had been soaked in aloe and bacta, the lovely cool gel soothing screaming nerves. “So your concussion and cracked skull seemed to have healed quite nicely, as have your ribs: not well enough to be running any marathons or picking any fights, but a gentle walk should be fine. Your burns are looking really good and both the nerves and tissue seem to be growing back nicely.” He said as he washed his hands, before gesturing for Nield and Cerasi to come back over from where they had been standing to the side, giving them privacy. “For now I would like you to keep your shirt off so it doesn’t shift the bandages and the weight of the cloth doesn’t aggravate your shoulder and arm… we’ll also need to roll up the scrub pants to do the same for your knee. Once you’re back here, you can unroll it and also put on the scrub top as the friction from the sheets would probably be worse for your injuries than the weight of the cloth. From what we’ve seen here, Healer Winlyn and I think you should be alright to hop a short distance, provided you’re careful, have someone beside you at all times to help you balance, and take frequent rests. But, only inside the ship: once you’re outside, you will sit on that Frankenstein hoverchair or you’ll be in this bay until you’re able to hop along unassisted. Understood?”

Obi-Wan nodded slowly and thought about trying to repeat back the instructions before realising he’d forgotten most of what Medic Silas had said. The pain medication was good, but it was making it so hard for him to remember! He tried to summarise what he remembered, slowly saying “Be careful and don’t stand too long? I can do that.”

“Probably!” Nield said, a teasing grin on his face and lifting one of his eyebrows. 

Cerasi elbowed the fifteen-year-old in the side, “And if you can’t, that’s what we’re here for.”

Medic Silas nodded slowly, clearly having friends similar enough to the mischievous Melida and Daan Young that he was having second thoughts about allowing them to take Obi-Wan out of the infirmary. Obi-Wan hoped he’d allow it anyway as the place was nice enough, but it felt like a bruise in the Force so he didn’t particularly want to stay. “You can take him but you need to be back in three hours at the very latest as that’s when his next Symoxin dose is. Any later and he’ll be in a lot more pain so be on time or early.”

Their grins faded and their guerilla-leader expressions briefly came back over their faces as Cerasi and Nield nodded somberly, taking the command and warning seriously. Obi-Wan grinned at the pair and held up his arms like a youngling would, “Well then minions, help me up! I want to go to the fresher in order to see what you’ve done to me.” 

Like a well-oiled machine, they smiled back and each took a hand, pulling him up in-between them before wrapping one of his arms around each of their shoulders while one of their arms went around his waist. Thus braced, together they began to shuffle-hop out of the infirmary.

They must have looked silly moving around like a trio of younglings in a four-legged race except, their upper bodies were stuck together rather than their legs and it was more like a three-and-a-half legged race. It was exhausting work, but Obi-Wan persisted, all too happy to escape the bruise-feeling infirmary and spend time with his friends that didn’t involve any life or death decisions. 

It took several minutes for them to find the requested mirror, laugh at Obi-Wan’s marker-covered self (the marks all the more obvious with only pants and bandages covering his skin), before beginning to make their way through the ship. More time was lost as all the nearby Young came over to say hello and give their well-wishes, subtly brushing against him as though to confirm he was real before, at last, they managed to hobble out of the ship into the sunshine. It was a lovely day to be given parole, a warm breeze blowing with a few clouds in the sky. 

Nield and Cerasi then carefully helped him over to where a group of Young sat enjoying the day, the odd-looking hoverchair to the side: held together by carefully placed Wren tape with a pillow taped where the creeper met the back of the supply-dolly. Given that he saw Vahad among them, he supposed the chair was on a timeshare between all of the Young with healing and/or missing legs that wanted to move around. Hopefully, Vahad wouldn’t mind if they had it for a bit. 

After a few quick words with the others, Nield and Cerasi helped lower him down onto the bed of the mechanic’s creeper and then lean against the back of the supply-dolly, his leg and stump stretched out in front of him. Once they were sure he was settled and comfortable, Obi-Wan tilted his face back to enjoy the sunlight and asked “Alright my guides, where to?”

Nield and Cerasi exchanged a glance, before Nield slowly said, “It isn’t exactly a cheerful spot, but we needed it, and we both think you would too.”

Obi-Wan placed a hand on his shin and did his best to lean into him in the same way they would in the dark of the Tunnels before a raid; trying to offer a familiar gesture of comfort in the face of his friend’s noticeable distress. “Sounds good. Lead the way!”

They slowly inched around first the Kom’rk, then the Jedi Paladin ship, the hover stabilisers coping well with the rough ground so long as they didn’t go too fast. They then turned to go between the Jedi craft and the shield barrier that extended a few metres away from it.

As they turned the corner, Obi-Wan felt his breath catch: he couldn’t be certain exactly what he was looking at but he had a pretty good idea. Beside the hull of the Paladin, someone had set up a holo transmitter that easily projected a glowing blue rectangle that was over three metres wide and tall and filled with squiggles, and below there was a scattering of items. 

As they got closer, Obi-Wan could clearly make out that it was names that were being projected and could also identify the items below: heaps of grass and leaves with the occasional withered flower carefully woven together into wreaths or free-standing bundles, flowers fashioned out of paper, pictures taped to the hull or carefully placed under something heavier so they wouldn’t be blown away, scraps of cloth that may once have been blankets or stuffed animals, twisted bits of wire crafted into rings, broaches, and earrings, empty cartridge packs and knife sheaths, and just… so many destroyed blasters, broken into as many pieces of plastoid and metal as small hands could possibly manage.

It was a memorial. 

Obi-Wan felt tears well in his eyes again as he took in the few mementoes of the dead intermixed with what items of peace the Young could create to offer, while the self-destroyed weapons of the living seemed to encircle those precious offerings as though to protect them. 

Obi-Wan was glad he was already sitting down because his knee felt weak at the sight of the Youngs’ collective trauma made manifest. It was all he could do to stare at the few thousand flickering names, a lump in his throat as he struggled to not look away from those he’d failed. “Oh.”

Nield just about fell on the nearby bench — truly a board placed on top of two empty boxes but it served the intended purpose — and stayed quiet, wordlessly staring at the projection himself before he rolled out his shoulders and stretched his arms. His eyes seemed fixed in a certain area, Obi-Wan guessed that that was where the names of his three brothers were written or was where the name of his older cousin rested… or maybe the name of someone he felt responsible for. Force knew they all had plenty of ghosts to choose from. 

“Yeah.” Cerasi said, “One of the Mandalorians, Jango, set this up for us after telling us about his culture’s mourning practice. The Melida and the Daan…” Here she paused and sighed, then dropped to the ground to sit cross-legged next to his chair and pull at the scraggly grass before continuing, “We lost a lot in this stupid war… enough that I don’t really know that we can really call ourselves a people due to sheer lack of anything resembling our culture in any routines that make up everyday life. Not when we can’t even define what our culture is, so that even if we were to find holo-footage or pictures, we wouldn’t be able to recognize it as being ours. The only mourning custom we know of is to load up with as many weapons as possible and go on a suicide run to take out as many of the opposing side as possible for daring to take that person away. The only burial custom we have had for centuries was interring our dead in the Halls of Evidence and displaying their last message encouraging survivors to carry on the killing.” Cerasi’s features twisted with such innate rage and disgust that she was almost unrecognisable for a moment as she spat out “To encourage more death, more bodies to fill that fancy charnel house disguised as a place of reverence rather than any true gesture of grief or mourning.”

Nield continued once it was clear Cerasi was too upset and frustrated to continue herself, “Once we realised we didn’t know or have any funerary or mourning practises we liked, we asked Mando, Jango and Silas what different customs they knew. Once Master Tyvokka isn’t so busy and the newcomers have settled in more, we’ll ask them too. We’ll build a combined culture that we can be proud of.” Nield straightened slightly as he spoke, his conviction and posture turning his final statement into a declaration. He waited a moment before deflating slightly with a shake of his head and continuing, “We all liked the Mandalorian idea of carrying the names of our dead, we just decided to make it a physical sort of carrying. That way, even if the last person who knew them dies…” Nield’s voice trembled a bit before pressing onwards, “...then their name is still collectively remembered. We won’t lose any more names. Besides, our dead, the Young… they may not have lived to find sanctuary like us, but we know their names and remember them so they can see this too. They may have joined the Force or whatever else waits for us after , but at least now, we have somewhere we can lay them to rest. We can give them peace.” 

Obi-Wan nodded slowly, after the deaths he’d witnessed on Bandomeer and on Melida/Daan, he certainly understood the sentiment. Growing up in the crèche, he was taught to celebrate the time in their life that he had gotten to share with them and then let his grief go… but Obi-Wan found he wasn’t ready for that yet. 

The grief — even now for some he’d been closer to on Bandomeer — was a little too close still.

So maybe he too could adopt this practice and carry their names until he was ready to celebrate them and let them go. He knew pocket holos were not too expensive and he wouldn’t need to splurge on a pricey, big one if he could set it so the names scrolled. He would still like to say goodbye the way he had learned among the Jedi — once he finally had the resources and peace to do so. After all, he may have left the Order, but the culture and way of being with which he had been raised still remained with him. It wasn’t something that could be taken from him (unlike his sabre) and after seeing how the Young clung to what fragments of community they had, Obi-Wan wasn’t willing to give it up either. 

It was his.

“After the cremation, back at the Temple we would light incense and candles before telling stories about the deceased until all the fires burnt out and their Light was gone.” Obi-Wan offered, “We would tell stories to celebrate the life they had led and what marks they had left on us. Now that this is over, I would like to do the same for the Young I’ve known.” 

“That sounds nice,” Cerasi said wistfully before asking “would you let Nield and I come with you or is that ceremony something private?” Obi-Wan gave her an affirmative response before he leaned into her where she sat beside him, offering the same comfort he had offered Nield before. Her Force presence was thick with emotion when she returned the gesture, leaning into him while she continued to pluck at the grass. 

“It's been… hard. Since the Jedi Master got the Elders to put down their blasters and actually talk, we’ve been struggling. After fighting for so long, what do you do once the blasters finally fall silent?” Nield said, once again taking over for his co-leader, “Within a day, Mawat decided to destroy his blaster and lay it by his sister’s peace. He had wanted to destroy the Elders for her loss, but after talking with Mando, he found it better to try to live for her instead. He said if he kept the damn thing that he would become just like them so he broke it in order to prevent himself from ever using it again. Many others followed suit, afraid they were being corrupted by the violence, while others decided that they wanted to share a piece of who they had lost… well, you know how most of our possessions are weapons so… yeah. Sheaths and blaster packs. Then the other Young didn’t like the idea of our dead just being surrounded by destroyed weapons so they made bouquets and it just became… this.”

Obi-Wan gave a wan smile, while it was certainly an unorthodox memorial, there was no question to him the sentiment with which it was made. The Force sang a mournful tune around it, the care with which items were chosen and placed along with the grief continued to echo even though the moment had passed — indicating the strong emotions that had been resonating when it was made. 

“So what now?” He asked softly, breaking the silence. 

“We don’t know.” Nield admitted, “We now have allies and help so that we finally will - we finally should - be able to have peace. But…the Elders are obstinate. They are so bent on vengeance and war that even with the Jedi and Mandalorians here, they’re refusing to come to the table. They’re refusing our peace…”

Obi-Wan felt his heart sink, considering how the Dark seemed to cling to the Melida and to the Daan the older they were, it wasn’t surprising that they were unable to give up their war, but it was disappointing. “If they refuse to give up their vengeance, will you stay or go?”

Nield groaned and dropped his head into his hands, “We don’t know. The Elders can always make more Young, more martyrs to die senselessly and to continue the cycle of violence, and if they do, don’t we have an obligation to be here? To show that there is a different way to live? To offer them rescue and refuge if they want it?”

Cerasi nodded, a large pile of grass now in front of her, “But, on the other hand, don’t we also get to live? We feel responsible for those who might follow us, but we can’t just make our decisions based on possibilities and a sense of duty. We also should get to choose what’s best for us. This planet is on its way to being a dead planet and those who could stop it are too busy committing genocide against each other. There is no future here.”

Nield nodded, “So we’re at an impasse. The reason we took up arms against our families and communities was in the hope of peace and a better future — it feels wrong to deny ourselves the opportunity to see such things, but it feels equally wrong to leave others to suffer the same fate.”

Obi-Wan shook his head sadly, it was awful that it had come to this. It was too bad that even without their weapons, no clear cause, and with no remaining assistance from outsiders, that still the Elders were too embedded in their hate to see another way. They had also suspected that Melida-Daan was on a ruinous course, but it seemed like it was confirmed while he was sleeping: “The planet is truly dying then?”

“Yeah,” Cerasi answered morosely, “I talked to Master Tyvokka, who put me in touch with an Ag-Corps member. So, as you know, about sixty percent of our planet is ocean while the forty percent landmass comes from the main continent and the smaller, side islands. The fertile soil on the continent was ruined long ago due to chemical weapons, improper irrigation that wicked the sodium, calcium, and magnesium from the soil, and also from enemies quite literally salting the earth of the opposing side. As long as I’ve been alive, the only arable soil was on the islands and since negotiations have begun, we’ve gotten confirmation that all the farms on them have been destroyed.”

Obi-Wan accidentally interrupted when he quietly mused, “That explains why we couldn’t find any food deliveries: both sides were having to get rations shipped along with their weapons.” 

Cerasi nodded and continued, “Our few land ecosystems that were limping along will succumb and die without intervention in less than a decade. The ocean ones aren’t faring well either with all the chemical runoff and the greenhouse effects from ozone damage caused by the excess Tibanna gas. Essentially, the land and water are at various levels of unrecoverable destruction and poisoning. There isn’t any turning back unless serious intervention happens now.

“Elders seem to think they can just live on imported rations until they eradicate the other side after which they’ll be able to grow a paradise,” Nield said, derision clear in his voice. “They’ve twisted themselves all in knots and delusions to justify the war and are absolutely unwilling to do anything else that isn’t killing each other. They won’t listen to the very real status of the planet, they seem to think everything will be magically fixed once every enemy they have is dead.”

“And even the few who are willing to confront the reality of the situation: they find it acceptable to die and kill off a whole planet so long as they take the Melida (or Daan) scum with them,” Cerasi added bitterly.

Obi-Wan grimaced and then changed the topic slightly, “So your options are to stay and die with the planet and Elders, or to leave… Where would you go?”

Nield flopped over on the makeshift bench, boneless, and threw an arm over his eyes with a dramatic groan. “We don’t know that either.”

“No idea at all? Why?” Obi-Wan asked, starting seriously before his tone turned from serious to teasing, trying to bring back some positivity to his time with them, “Lack of funds, lack of documentation, lack of information, or lack of inspiration?”

“Well the lack of any official Republic documentation is a problem,” Cerasi replied, silently laughing at Nield who had, for all intents and purposes, sunk into a sulk in response to Obi-Wan. The Daan was probably acting overly sulky on purpose to also bring some levity back to their time together. “But the lack of funds will probably be the biggest obstacle. We do have plenty of ideas and suggestions along with access to a few holo-terminals to learn more.”

Obi-Wan turned slightly and leaned over so he could his hands through Cerasi’s hair and started to braid it, “If you could go anywhere and documentation or funds were not an issue, where would you go?”

“To live?” Cerasi asked before she hummed happily from the feeling of her hair being plaited. She clearly basked in the moment before she continued wistfully, “What Mando was describing sounded nice: not the bounty hunting part but living on a ship. Could go planet to planet and see what there is to see and never have to worry about being stuck in war because you could just fly away.”

Obi-Wan nodded but then realised something and stilled his hands as he tried to remember. When he pulled a blank — either because of the pain meds or because he’d actually never met them, he asked, “Who’s Mando?”

“Oh! He’s Grogu’s parent, the one in the shiny armour who doesn’t remove his helmet.” Cerasi explained. 

“...Wait, his name is Mando?” Obi-Wan responded, “Why couldn’t Grogu have just said?

“It’s not his name you dunce,” Nield said as he walked over to join them, playfully flicking Obi-Wan’s forehead. “It’s a stage name… a moniker. The thing where you use a fake name so people have something to call you but it’s not actually your name.”

“An alias?!” Obi-Wan snarked while his hand flew up to cover where he had been flicked and gave a dramatic groan, “You have to be nice to me, I was concussed. Jerk.”

Heavy topics were put aside for the moment as the three Young switched to teasing each other and giving one another ridiculous hairstyles while revelling in the sunlight they no longer needed to hide away from for safety’s sake. While they sat, some of the other Young drifted by to stand at the memorial, place offerings, and to see Obi-Wan awake. 

They drifted closer and once neither Nield nor Cerasi shooed them away, they plonked themselves down beside their leaders. Obi-Wan couldn’t remember who first broke the quiet that had settled in the space but soon after stories began to be traded and reminisced on, no longer so bleak now that they were aired out under the sun and the blaster fire had stopped. Eventually, memories gave way to play as younger Young began to come over so the older ones began telling embellished tall stories for the younglings to try to act out. It seemed a little silly given all that they had surely seen but there was an unspoken agreement among the older Young to try to shield their youngest from the terribleness of the war and they weren’t going to stop now. 

Obi-Wan couldn’t help but feel content as the Young sat beside him, telling him what he had missed while braiding his hair and trying to convince him to let him add to his marker tattoos. It didn’t take long before three small Zabrak younglings came scooting over to join and Obi-Wan couldn’t help but feel immediately protective of them. The trio was so bright in the Force: all new and safe and bright and untainted by the grief that followed even the youngest Young. If he had anything to say about it, he would ensure that nothing would ever take that away from them. 

Let them keep their innocence.

Eventually, Obi-Wan was coaxed into the tall-tale telling and told a popular crèche story about four Twi’lek siblings who accidentally travelled to another planet through a magical wardrobe and then had an adventure there. He struggled not to laugh as he recited the tale once Savage, with a cackling Maul on his shoulders, had begun acting out the part of the evil witch.

All in all, it was perhaps not the most restful, but it was the most cathartic way to spend an afternoon. By the time they would have had to leave, the Young had largely settled in to nap in a tangle of limbs, worn out from playing and the emotional hour. Obi-Wan was drowsing off himself, the peaceful rest that the others were experiencing a siren’s song to his healing mind, pulling him in to join them. He was also pleasantly warm considering how the smallest Young and Feral had chosen to include him in the sleeping piles by curling themselves around him on the hoverchair. 

It seemed either Cerasi or Nield noted his predicament and Obi-Wan stirred when Medic Silas gently shook him awake to have him take the antibiotics and give him the injection of the painkiller Symoxin. He was delighted when the Medic instead encouraged him to go back to sleep while giving whispered instructions to both Nield and Cerasi.

Obi-Wan drifted off again, buoyed by the feelings of the happy Young and drained from the emotional talk. He would eventually wake when Miater Mando picked him up and carried him back to the infirmary, but for now, he was left to peacefully sleep in the warm sunshine surrounded by younglings and a peace hard earned. 

-x-

Din had absolutely been hiding from Jango Fett. 

He hadn’t meant to at first, but after seeing him again without his buy'ce and instead of seeing Jango, seeing Boba in his place, Din couldn’t help but avoid the other. With their physical similarities along with the same way they gestured, stood, and fought (though Jango’s movements were less polished than the seasoned bounty hunter Din knew), Din was struggling to keep the two separate in his mind: which was unfair to his fellow Mandalorian. Not knowing what else to do, Din decided to give the other a wide berth until he could get his brain sorted.

It was frustrating as, while hunting down his foundling and being stressed beyond belief for Grog’ika, Din had easily pushed to the side the consequences of time travel. It hadn’t been a problem. But now, with nothing else to do, but hurry up and wait for something to happen, his brain was unable to let it go and the sheer scale of what he’d lost and left behind had hit him like a speeder to the head. Combine that with the mind-trick of Jango looking like a clone of his ad Boba… well, he wasn’t able to look at the other for long. 

Those Fett genes must be really strong for the pair to look so alike. 

It would be very unfair of him to expect Jango to be Boba, but that was all he could think of when he looked at the other. 

With no idea of how they’d time travelled outside from the possibility of the dha’kadau just deciding that it wanted to, they also had no way to get back: no artefact to find, no route to retrace, just… nothing. So as far as Master Tyvokka could tell, they would be here, in this time, permanently. 

And that knowledge was like a mudhorn to the gut. He’d reunited his foundling with his people but in doing so, as far as anyone knew, he’d lost his own. Din had been trying to come to terms with that, of having everyone else he had ever known along with his newfound friends forever lost to him, and having that pain shoved in his face because of an all-too-familiar face was… hard. 

So yeah, he’d been avoiding Jango. 

However, now that Tyvokka had asked all the adults/those making decisions to come for a meeting in one of Jaster’s ships cargo bays (now empty of supplies), there could be no more avoidance. Not reasonably anyway. 

So instead he strategized: he’d go early so as to get the spot with the best sightlines and to also settle the part of him that wanted to look for traps before any sort of meeting. Once he found a spot, he could also polish bits of his armour which would be a surefire way to get his mind to stand down. Hopefully, Jango wouldn’t sit opposite him so he wouldn’t have to look at him the whole time and could try to ease himself back into being, well, normal with the other. Minimal though it was, having a plan really went a long way into making him feel more balanced. Armour polish in hand, he steeled himself and walked into the bay with his head held high.

“Hello Mando,” Kycina greeted upon him entering, little Savage on her lap as she looked over his healing arm while Feral and Maul clung to her side, watching her cautiously. “Thank you for your care of my whelps.” She continued but an edge of threat entered into her voice. “I am glad my trust was not… misplaced.”

Din managed to suppress his instinct to stiffen in offence and instead inclined his head, “Children are the Future. It is the Way. No harm would ever come to your boys at the hands of a True Mandalorian. Once they were given to my care, they would always be my…be’sol?” Din broke off his sentence to mutter to himself, why was Basic so hard sometimes? “Oh what is that in Basic? My preference? My order?”

“Priority,” another voice cut in and Din turned to see that Jaster had quietly entered the room, “your priority. And well said Hunter.”

Din felt his face flush and was glad it was hidden under his buy'ce. While he’d been avoiding Jango, he’d also been avoiding Alor Mereel. After he’d thrown the sabre at him, he had immediately regretted it and panicked: not because Mereel didn’t seem worthy or because he wanted it, but he knew how badly it would appear to have thrown a weapon at the Alor. Mimicking Grogu’s weird shuffle dance had thankfully diffused the situation but that really should not have turned out as well as it had. Frankly, he was also lucky the other hadn’t accidentally stabbed himself — though they had had a close call.

He just hadn’t wanted the damn thing. 

He was a Mandalorian raised truly in the Way by the covert Vizsla and he would do his duty to his people: which is why he hadn’t spaced the damn lightsword in the first place. He had just been so relieved to find someone who seemed worthy of leadership, who followed the Way and actually wanted to be in charge, he had just followed his instincts and thrown it. Not that he would ever admit it aloud, but part of the reason he threw it was so that it couldn’t be given back to him. It was only moments after the casing left his hand that his sanity caught up with him and realised that he had just thrown a live weapon at a head of planet. And then Mand'alor Jaster just about stabbed himself with the damn thing. 

Talk about awkward.

But he’d kept the cursed thing so it was no longer Din’s problem. 

Su cuy'gar Alor Mereel,” He cautiously greeted.

Su cuy'gar Mando.” The Mand'alor replied, before continuing wryly in Basic, presumably for Kycina who was looking at them warily. “No other Darksabres in your pocket?”

Din felt his face flush again and managed to choke out “No. Not today.” He then scuttled away to avoid any further conversation and try to enact his plan. As one of three people there, it wasn’t hard to find a spot to sit that let him have sightlines of the room and, upon sitting, pulled off a pauldron to begin polishing it. 

The work served its purpose, giving his racing mind something else to focus on and soothing his nerves. By the time he’d looked over and polished both pauldrons, rerebraces, couters, vambraces and gauntlets, he felt much more settled in his skin. 

Looking up, he noticed that practically all the others who were to be attending the meeting had arrived: save for the Young Nield and Obi-Wan. Discreetly looking around, he noted that Jaster had an arm around Jango, ruffling his hair and teasing his ad about his healing broken nose while his second Miles and his quartermaster Ruusan were studiously ignoring their Alor'e and talking about the datapads stacked between them. Nearby Master Tyvokka was meditating while his light saber floated in the air, assembling and disassembling while opposite the Wookie Jedi was Kycina (now sans her mischievous triplets) with Silas trying to coax her into eating some sort of ration or nutrient bar. Cerasi was the only one not sitting among them, standing at the open hatch of the cargo bay and looking across the way at where the shields for the Kom’rk and Paladin ships still strongly shone. 

Pulling up the local time on his HUD, he decided he wouldn’t be able to finish his leg armour if he started it now and so he put away his polish and cloth into his belt pouches. Not sure quite what else to do with his hands, he folded them across his lap and settled into the watching mindset that served him well during a stakeout when he was unable to move for long stretches while waiting for his targets. 

Din didn’t have long to wait though as within ten minutes or so, Obi-Wan and Nield came in with Nield pushing the Franken-hoverchair with a blanket-covered Obi-Wan on it. With everyone expected now inside, Cerasi flipped the switch to close the hatch and went to go help Nield and Obi-Wan get settled into the circle. With everyone here, those who had been standing around went and found a spot to sit in the circle of small benches, overturned crates, and cargo boxes, while helmets, flimsy-work, and a med-pack found a home on the box in the centre.

“Are we sure the area is secure?” Nield asked warily, his eyes flicking this way and that while his head was on a swivel as he scanned the room. Din could sympathise at the warrior’s level of hyperawareness; having grown up in a war and been exposed to several warzones, it was incredibly difficult not to view any new location with deep suspicion. From what he’d heard of the Young’s experiences at the hands of the Elders on this planet, they would have sensible reasons to be wary. 

“As sure as I can be,” Jaster replied, “only my people and yours have been here, and this ship was bought new and only maintained in allied spaces so there is no reason for spyware to have been squirrelled aboard.” He then reached for his belt pouches and after a moment pulled out a signal disrupter, flicked it on, and placed it on the empty cargo box in the middle of their circle. “That is also the highest grade disrupter currently on the market, so if there is anything here that shouldn’t be, it’ll take care of it.”

Obi-Wan reached up and placed a hand on his friend’s hip to catch his attention, “Nield, I don’t have any bad feelings about this. You know the Force would warn me of danger if there was any that would result from this.”

Nield grumbled but sat down, Cerasi placing a hand on his shoulder and giving him a reassuring look before turning to the rest of the circle.

<Thank you all for coming,> Tyvokka began, <I thought it best that now urgent needs have all been addressed and negotiations with the Melida and Daan are just about finished, that we should meet to ensure everyone knows what is going on.>

There were murmurs of assent and nods that went around the circle at that proclamation, but before Tyvokka could continue, Cerasi cleared her throat and gave a tentative look to Tyvokka. When the Wookie didn’t seem to take offence but instead gave the Wookie equivalent of a gentle smile (no teeth showing with eyes closed) and gestured for her to take the floor, she straightened and seemed to gain confidence, slowly turning to look them all in the eyes. “With a lack of non-militant education, we aren’t entirely sure how things work off-planet, so this may not be worded right or be sufficient but… we of the Young cannot express how thankful we are that you came to help us. We cannot thank you enough for the food, clean water, medicine or sanctuary. With a cease-fire along with so many trained warriors around who are on our side and are willing to protect us… it is the first time any of us have actually known safety.” She paused, swallowing hard, looking down at her toes before looking back up at them, her eyes shining with tears. “No matter what happens after this, we will never forget such a gift. What you have brought us. So. Thank you.”

While she had been speaking, Nield had been looking nervously around and had then bit his lip, seeming uncertain about emotional vulnerability among strangers. The other Young seemed to take courage though from his fellow leader though and softly chimed in after Cerasi, “Yes, thank you. We owe you a huge debt for what you have done for us.”

Din shook his head and very carefully said, “I will accept your thanks but truly there is no need as there is no debt. Those things should have been yours from the start, there is nothing to thank us for. It is the duty of the older to help the younger, it is the Way.”

“It was our pleasure and duty.” Jaster said as he nodded, tilting his head towards Din in agreement, “While we cannot help every child in a bad situation in the galaxy, simply because we cannot be everywhere and know everything, it is not in our culture to sit idle when ad- children ask for help. To do so would be like giving up our armour, giving up our paints, or our songs: just utterly unthinkable. To ignore your request for help when we could do something would make us all…not-Mandalorian.”

“Like not breathing. Just impossible.” Silas chimed in while the other three Mandalorians nodded. 

<I’m just sorry the Jedi weren’t able to do more or sooner.> Tyvokka replied, equally waving away the thanks politely. <Seeing you all happy and finding peace is enough of a repayment should you need one.>

Nield jerked his chin up and said, “Well, you have our thanks anyway.”

Cerasi nodded firmly beside him, her eyes narrowed slightly, “You might not think anything of it but you’re the first adults who have bothered to do anything in ages.” She paused for a moment before continuing playfully, “It is a debt we will repay even if it’s in a yearly card to each of you with pasta shapes and glitter glued on.”

Din couldn’t help but snort at the thought, “No food on mine please, Grogu would probably try to eat it even if it’s glue encrusted.”

-x-

Jaster huffed a laugh at the thought of the Young’s idea of a debt repayment: he knew several of his warriors would delight in receiving such a yearly gift. Especially those who were currently not in a position to take in a child, but who desperately wanted to have a family. 

“If you are serious about repaying what you view as a debt to us,” he said, “I think artwork from children might be a form of payment that my people would be willing to accept.”

Cerasi brightened and reached into her pocket, pulling out a colourful, scribbled drawing which she then passed to his child. “I almost forgot Jango, this was a gift Ma’aat gave me for you. Consider it a down payment.”

Jango accepted the picture and carefully folded it then placed it in his own pocket. “My thanks,” 

Jaster looked around and decided to take his chance, the Mando had been avoiding him for days so he hadn’t been able to ask until this meeting and a half hour ago, he seemed liable to bolt if Jaster opened his mouth again. The beroya appeared more settled and less skittish so maybe he would get an answer. “Before you let us know the results of the negotiations Tyvokka, I have a question of my own I’d like answered. Where did you get the Darksabre Mando?” He put up a hand while the others shifted, possible to interrupt, “Rumours had it in Tor Vizsla’s possession and he would not give up such a thing without a fight that we would have certainly heard about…”

“Can this not wait?” Kycina interrupted. Jaster tried not to hold it against her as she appeared quite tired and had just woken from a coma: he would probably be tetchy too. 

“No.” Jaster replied, “I don’t want to bring another planet’s politics into this, but it could dramatically change what I can offer. You see, there are traditionalists in my sector who will only follow a… Royal? Governor? Planet-Leader? You know what I mean, they’ll follow whoever is in possession of this blade as the person in charge of the Manda’yaim sector. It’s an Alor-maker.” He gestured to the casing that lay innocuously beside his helmet, “If this is the true Dark Sabre then those who follow him just because he has it, not because they believe in his osi-nonsense, should support my faction. Which, combined with the inroads I’ve made with the pacifists, would mean that I would have the support of about eighty to ninety percent of the population. It would bring peace to my sector which would mean I will be in a better position to provide assistance and even sanctuary to the Young.”

Mando wiggled uncomfortably in his seat and looked over to Tyvokka before he sighed and dropped his shoulders. “I don’t know how to explain it without sounding crazy.”

“Try.” Jaster replied dryly, “we can always ask questions as we go.”

<It might be a good place to start from,> Tyvokka said, <just tell it to them as you did to me>

Mando let out another sigh that seemed to steal all of his energy before he began, “Well then. As far as we can tell, that stupid light sword has more power than just cutting and has sent Grogu and I just a little over fifty years into the past. So that’s the real Dark Sabre, just one that has fifty more years of living than the one in this time.”

The tale that the beroya spun was incredible, almost unbelievable if it weren’t for the stored holo-footage he had to share along with the sheer amount of detail. The other was clearly trying to keep it to the bare bones and what would be relevant but still: to hear the rise of an Empire, the rise of the Sith (which had never turned out well for his people, for all that they made sweet promises), the genocide of the Jedi, the Mandalorians, the Wookies, the Dathomirians, the Pantorans, along with so many others including the total annihilation of Alderaan which was so beyond imagining and utterly horrifying. That he had won the Dark Sabre from a crazy imperialist who had been torturing his foundling and then kept it from a non-existing faction called the Nite-Owls led by Adonai Kryze’s youngest who he was pretty sure was two this year was…

Well it was a lot. 

It was also certainly going to be a headache to explain how there were now two Dark Sabres and his vision of an easy victory along with an end to the senseless, needless violence slipped through his fingers. 

But, now he knew the consequences if he fell and his faction lost, if the infighting among his people continued, and if they continued to ignore what was going on in the rest of the galaxy. If no man is an island, then no planet could be either. They would need to find a way to both stabilise their sector while also finding allies: for all its corruption, the Republic could not be allowed to fall if this was what resulted. Though that was a problem for another day. 

“Thank you for your honesty Mando.” He said softly, his heart in his throat. “You’ve given me a lot to think about, but I believe you.”

“That’s awful,” Cerasi breathed, “I’m so sorry you went through that.”

Mando shifted uncomfortably under the attention and bruskly changed the subject: “So, what happened in the negotiations with the Melida and Daan?”

Tyvokka let out a rumbling growl, <Nothing good, but also nothing unsurprising.> 

“They refused to come to any sort of compromise didn’t they?” Nield interrupted, in a resigned tone.

<Just so,> Tyvokka agreed, <They are unable to look past their hatred of one another despite none of them being able to tell me the source of the conflict or what they are fighting for except to kill the other side. Truly a disappointing display of sentience: they have no cares except their own personal vengeance, refuse to consider the consequences of their actions, and will not allow for any opposing point of view to exist. Due to planetary autonomy laws in the Republic and in agreements between other sectors, neither the Jedi nor the Mandalorians can intervene unless its requested or they choose to wage war against the Daan or Melida themselves. It is a law that is enforced as it would otherwise set a dangerous precedent for foreign powers and planets messing in one another’s affairs.>

Cerasi and Nield leaned into each other for support before Nield spoke, turning to look at Jaster. “Then we would like to request sanctuary. We put it to a vote and we are in agreement: the Young will leave this planet as refugees. There’s nothing for us here: we refuse to stay and die with the planet.”

Cerasi took over for her follow leader, “We didn’t want to fight a war, we didn't want the land or the ressources, we only wanted peace and a chance to grow up. If leaving is the only way we can do that, the Elders” she turned and spat over her shoulder in what seemed to be a rare display of hate given how both Obi-Wan and Nield jerked in surprise, “they are welcome to die in the desert they have made.”

Jaster nodded to himself in approval, he was glad that the children had decided to flee the planet. It was one of the hardest lessons to learn as a warrior: when the cause was lost and a retreat was needed. He was proud they had decided the location didn’t matter: if they could fulfil their goal off planet, then they should do so. 

Ruusan piped up from where she had been quietly sitting, not looking up from the ‘pad where she was adjusting their plans based on Din’s revelations. “I believe it has been mentioned to you before, but you would easily find a home among our people. We would be unable to guarantee you peace, but you would be welcomed on the moon of Concord Dawn. It is very well protected and is where the non-warriors of my people live: children, elders, craftspeople, farmers, and the like. It is as much of a sanctuary as we could make it.” 

Seeing the children’s interest, Jaster continued “Ruusan is right. We would take you in if you’re not interested in going through the Republic’s refugee program. In Mandalorian culture, children are cherished to the point we don’t have orphanages because of how quickly both warriors and civilians step up to take in children who need a home. I know several of my people would be interested in taking in many of yours if they are interested.”

Nield nodded, “Thank you for the alternative. I don’t know if any of us want to turn to the Republic after their inaction but… I don’t know if any of us have enough trust in adults to want adoption.”

“That’s fine.” Myles said, the Pantoran looking at the pair of Young was kind eyes, “We also have a culture of raising children communally. If you were willing, we could set you up in a family compound near several of the others so that you have a support network, but so that you can also stay together without needing to worry about an adult having power over you. Maybe eventually we can earn that trust, but what we really want is for you to have somewhere safe to grow and learn. If that is what you need to do, then that is what we would provide.”

Cerasi and Nield looked taken aback and Cerasi stuttered out, “Y-you’d let us live alone?”

Jaster nodded while Ruusan turned the ‘pad she had around, showing a map of one of the larger farming towns governed by the Eldar clan. There was a large yellow square near one of the parks and both the Eldar and Rook family compounds. “This space was going to be turned into a community centre so the land has already been cleared. It would be very simple to adjust the pre-fabs to make another compound instead. I know that you would be welcome there if you wanted.”

Nield leaned forward and wordlessly asked for ‘pad, taking it with shaking fingers and tracing the allotted land while reading up on the space. “Cerasi, there’s a well! And we could grow our own food. We wouldn’t have to worry about feeding them or giving them bad water.”

Cerasi leaned over the ‘pad and looked up at them with shining eyes, “we would need to talk about it with the others first. But I think we’ll accept. Especially if Mister Mando’s sabre…”

“Not mine!” Din briefly interrupted, instinctively it seemed, as he seemed horrified that he’d interrupted the young leader.

“Especially if your sabre does bring peace to your sector.” Cerasi finished, amusement in her tone. 

“Would your warriors help us sneak back every so often to see if there are any new children who need to leave?” Nield asked, his tone uncertain. “It’s something we’ve been worried about, leaving other kids to suffer in our place.” 

“I would be willing to offer a trade.” Kycina piped up for the first time, her eyes not leaving the two, “The Force does not want me to go to Coruscant, but is pushing me to go to the Outer Rim Territories where another Sister needs help. Without knowing the situation, I will not risk my whelps so Tyvokka is going to keep them with him a little longer, but that leaves me without a ship. Dathomirian magics are capable of much, I would exchange my abilities in return for being lent a craft.”

The Jetii looked uncomfortable at the offer which made Jaster curious as to what exactly was being offered here. Cerasi and Nield also both seemed unnerved, so Jaster took over, “I would be willing to lend you a ship in exchange for your providing help to the Young. What sort of help are you offering?”

“Curses are easy, especially in a place mired in so much violent death and hatred. I can ensure that as long as they have violence in their hearts, no seeds will take root.” Kycina said apathetically with a shrug. “No generations to follow them down the path of death until they are willing to leave it.”

“It won’t impact anyone else on the planet?” Nield asked, his face surprised, “From what I know — and no offence meant if I misunderstood — Mandalorians also value fighting even if they don’t live for it. I don’t want them to get caught in it. I won’t have our peace of mind come at the cost of our rescuers’ futures.” 

Kycina raised an eyebrow and said “When I cast the spell, it would be simple to include a dead zone if there are concerns. It would just be up to you to ensure you are in it.”

“Deal.” Cerasi said quickly, her eyes wide.

-x-

The young Padawan had done well in their meeting, mostly observing and only offering his thoughts when it seemed pertinent. The poor cub was now flagging, which was only to be expected given how early on in his recovery journey he was. 

But he wasn’t willing to leave this for later, not when they were planning on leaving the next day: the Young evacuating with the Mandalorians to go settle on Concord Dawn while Tyvokka, Obi-Wan, Grogu, Mando, Feral, Savage, and Maul would wait in orbit for Kycina’s return. Once she'd returned, they would drop the Dathomirians off where they wished to go then return Jaster's ship before returning to Coruscant to report in.

It would be a long trip and he didn’t want the cub to stress himself any moment longer worrying about his future in the Jedi. There would be enough to stress about between any lingering consequences of the massive Force eddy and visions along with the fall-out of what had happened here.

Tyvokka had been watching and liked what he saw, he thought the boy and he would be well matched. He already had Plo and Tholme on stand-by for a celebratory comm-call to welcome the third brother to their lineage.

<Obi-Wan? I would like to speak to you for a moment…> Tyvokka began and then made his offer to take over his padawanship.

Considering how the boy’s face lit up before he even replied, Tyvokka knew the answer.

-x-

Epilogue 

Din had slowly adapted to their circumstances, something that was greatly aided by access to the Jedi’s Archives. 

Which...

That was something else he was struggling to wrap his head around. 

All of that information! Free to access! Not guarded, just stored openly at the Jedi Temple! And wasn’t that even crazier than a free public Archive? The Jedi’s home was just there! On one of the busiest planets, with a mailing address, in plain sight out in the open! This galaxy had never seemed so different until he learned that different minority groups didn’t have to hide to survive! 

The debrief of the Jedi Council dragged on most mornings for all that Din didn’t know much about what had allowed the Empire to have risen in his time, but any clues he could give were worth picking apart every single bit of detail he could remember. It was also nice that while he was stuck in stuffy meetings his little foundling got to spend time with the Jetii Ba'buire Yoda and Yaddle (though he despaired that his foundling would pick up their speech patterns). 

His afternoons though were his own and most days he spent it either in the crèche or here, squirrelled away with a datapad on one of the couches hidden in an infrequently visited stack. 

Today he was back at it, delighting in the easy access to knowledge while scrolling aimlessly through the holonet news, trying to get his bearings while also seeing if any of it would twinge some crucial information hidden in the back of his mind. 

It was something of a Sisyphean task trying to gain his footing in current events — past events for him, though precious little had been deemed important enough to carry forward into galactic history of his time… Maybe he shouldn’t bother then? If it wasn’t important enough forty to fifty years in the future?

Still, an explosion in the Banking Clan’s central holdings that resulted in extensive damage to their offices and secured areas seems like it should be important in some way. While relegated to a minor role by his time, the Muunilinst Bankers were still a power to be contended with and often boasted of how their inner holdings had never been breached (so of course you should finance with them, your credits would be the safest ). So what had changed? The towers that stood proudly in his time were now rubble and the Bankers were reporting billions of credits in damages along with the deaths of many of the leaders. 

It was all the news seemed to be talking about; overshadowing the reports of Jaster Mereel becoming Mand'alor, changes in the Serennoian laws of succession, a crackdown on pirates on Shiritoku Way near Endor and Rattatak, a minor Nabooian senator dying from an unknown allergic reaction along with a slave uprising on Tattooine.

For all that it left Din feeling somewhat disgruntled at the lack of attention given to non-Core politics and events, he supposed an attack on the Banking clans was more important. Even if the news seemed to be paying less attention to the clan as a whole but rather the deaths of Clu Lesser, Hego Damask, San Hill, and Kos specifically. Considering what he understood about the economics of this time, that a lot of the ruling council was dead would be important but he just didn’t care. He wanted to know more about what was happening in the Rim and the Expansion region — what did he care for the Core and the Colonies? They’d all been corrupt and Imperialist by his day so he didn’t particularly care how they were doing now. He kept scrolling looking for news that was important.

So engrossed was he in his reading, he barely noticed the soft footfalls approaching until a beskar gauntlet gently landed on his shoulder and squeezed. “What are you reading there beroya?” Din could barely breathe as a warm, familiar voice washed over him. Jango was back on Mandalore and he didn’t sound as gruff…

Could it be?... 

“Boba?"