Chapter 1: A Long, Long Time Ago...
Jedi Temple Guards were famous for their calm and collected demeanors. They were fluent in knowing how to do their jobs with precision and look intimidating while doing it.
They could handle any and all situations that might arise in or around the Temple itself. From troublesome Initiates and duels that got out of hand, to rowdy civilians and politicians trying to gain entry to the Temple. In short, there was nothing that could surprise them or catch them off-guard. Until now, it would seem.
The temple guards posted at the main entrance to the Jedi Temple glanced at each other, unsure of what to do. The woman standing in front of them crossed her arms and repeated her original statement.
“I said I’d like to see my son.”
The two guards turned to each other and shrugged.
The first guard, Hyren, took a step back to com someone higher up, leaving Tam to deal with the strangely dressed woman. She was wearing a jacket that looked to be older than Tam himself, over a set of armour that looked to be even older. The armour resembled that of a Mandalorian warrior, but not exactly.
This was way beyond his pay-grade.
“Who is your son?” Tam finally asked in an attempt to gain control of the situation.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi,” was the woman’s short reply. “I believe he’s an Initiate here.”
The name sounded familiar, but it did nothing to assuage Tam’s general distrust in the armoured woman.
“What is your name and occupation?” Tam asked.
A small smirk twitched at the woman’s lip. “Mara Miraal, bounty hunter.”
Tam shouldn’t have been surprised, but he had to admit he wasn’t expecting the answer--and not in such a straight-forward manner. Hyren returned to the conversation, much to Tam’s relief. Something about this woman didn’t feel right.
“Master Windu will be down in a minute,” Hyren informed them.
Mrs. Miraal nodded in response, though her formerly easy manner turned tense.
“I thank you,” she said with a barely noticeable bow.
The two guards eyed each other awkwardly, not a clue as to what to do next. They stood that way, barely moving, for another handful of minutes. Mrs. Miraal stayed thankfully silent until Master Windu showed up. Tam and Hyren stood straighter to attention, and Mrs, Miraal stiffened at the sight of the Korun Master.
“What is the situation here, guards?” Master Windu asked, coming to stand beside them.
“Mara Miraal wishes to see her son,” Hyren replied, sounding as bewildered as Tam felt.
Master Windu’s eyebrow raised. “Who do you claim as your son?”
Mrs. Miraal’s jaw clenched visibly, but her answer was amiable enough.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi. He is my blood.”
Tam could tell Master Windu wasn’t convinced. “Tell me, how does a Mandalorian come to adopt a Jedi Initiate that has never left the Temple?”
The bounty hunter’s smile was not kind. “Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I am Kenobi’s mother by birth. Twelve years ago, I left him with a family I believed could care for him better than I could at the time. War is no place to raise a child.”
“And now that the Civil War on Mandalore is at a stand-still, you thought you could take him back,” Master Windu finished.
“I returned to find the people I’d left him with had given him to you--the Jedi.” The last statement was tinged with distaste.
“You would take him from the people who raised him, and train him as a bounty hunter? As a killer?” Windu asked coldly.
Mrs. Miraal shook her head. “I have accepted that your kind have likely brainwashed him into wishing to become one of you. The right to interfere in his life is no longer mine. I simply wish to talk to him.”
Both of the temple guards stayed silent, waiting for Master Windu to reply. The Korun Master stroked his chin, considering Miraal through narrowed eyes.
“You will leave your armour and weapons here with the temple guards. I will locate Initiate Kenobi and explain the situation to him.”
Tam half-expected her to outright refuse. Mandalorians were very touchy about their armour and weapons. But she nodded tightly, and handed her blaster--barrel pointed to the ground--to Tam. He hesitantly took it.
Master Windu disappeared back into the temple.
It took Mrs. Miraal less than two minutes to remove her armour, leaving her in a dark grey flight suit. Her weapons, however, took significantly longer. Aside from the blaster she’d already handed over, there were at least a dozen assorted knives, a few collapsible parts that would turn her blaster into a sniper rifle, three thermal detonators, and what appears to be an EMP device. Hyren ended up leaving to find a box for all of it.
Finally, it looked like she was done. She held her arms out, showing that she was now unarmed.
“Now, can I see my son?” she asked impatiently.
Hyren glanced down at his comm. “Master Windu says Initiate Kenobi is waiting in the Room of a Thousand Fountains.”
“Thanks,” Miraal said flatly, and walked past them into the temple, not waiting for directions.
Tam and Hyren glanced at each other. After a moment, Hyren shrugged. Both guards pulled out their comms. Time to spread the gossip.
The Room of a Thousand Fountains was easy enough to find. But that did nothing to calm her nerves. By any and all logic, she was in the enemy’s lair.
Mara Miraal rubbed absently at phantom pains in her arms as she walked towards her destination.
Several Jedi paused to stare or glance at her in confusement, but without her armour, no one tried to stop her or pick a fight. She had to hand it to Master Windu. He knew what he was about.
Mara paused at the arched entrance to the large gardens. Something felt familiar here, somehow. A comforting presence pricked at the edges of her senses. It had been so long. She closed her eyes and let the warmth of that presence wash over her.
No one here could know she was like them. So, she quickly secured her shields, and stepped into the pleasant brightness of the gardens.
Master Windu didn’t know what the proper procedure was. Nothing like this had ever happened in his memory. No parent had ever shown up, asking to visit their child. It just didn’t happen. Especially not a Mandalorian. Why had there been nothing in Kenobi’s file that hinted about an adoption?
“Mysterious, the ways of the Force are,” Master Yoda said beside him.
Mace repressed the urge to sigh or scowl. What proof did they have that the woman wasn’t lying? She could be trying to get her hands on a Jedi to brainwash him. Well, there was always a blood test. Master Vokara Che could find out easily enough if the Mandalorian really was related to Kenobi.
Master Yoda walked beside him all the way to the Room of a Thousand Fountains.
Initiate Kenobi had just arrived.
“You wanted to see me, Master Windu?” the boy asked, equal parts worried and hopeful.
The boy had only a few more weeks before his thirteenth birthday--until he would be sent to the Agri-Corps. He was still trying to find anyone who would train him to become a Knight, but Mace honestly didn’t see much of a chance for the anger-prone Initiate.
“Yes, Initiate,” Mace said, taking the lead before Yoda could jump in. “A woman who claims to be your mother is here to see you.”
Kenobi’s mouth dropped open.
“My...my mother? ” he stuttered. “Is she here to take me away? Am I leaving the Jedi? I promise, Master--”
Mace held up a hand, halting Kenobi's panicked tirade. “Relax, Initiate. She wishes to speak with you, nothing more. You’re not being sent away.”
Yet, his mind added.
Kenobi gulped in a large breath of air. It seemed to have a calming effect on him. “Did she say what she wanted to talk about?”
“Know her intentions, we do not,” replied Yoda. “But offer to take you in, Master Windu believes she will.”
The boy shook his head vehemently. “I’m staying here. I want to be a Jedi Knight!”
“Then I will not stop you, if that is what you wish,” a calm voice sounded behind them.
Mace spun around and frowned. Why hadn’t he sensed her approach? He could sense Yoda’s curiosity at her stealthy entrance as well. Somehow, she had managed to sneak up on them.
“Hello,” Miraal said to Obi-Wan.
“Hello,” he replied warily.
Yoda and Mace stayed silent through the exchange.
“Who are you?” Obi-Wan asked.
Miraal smiled sadly at him. “I am Mara Miraal, though my maiden name was Dredan.”
Obi-Wan’s eyes went wide then, putting together what Mace had already suspected. “I have a step-father?”
Mace sighed. Of course the boy already believed they were related. They didn’t look much alike, to his eye, though there was something nearly identical in their auras--the way they stood, the way they looked at each other in uncertainty, their Force signatures--though Miraal’s was infinitely less powerful. He doubted her ability to feel the Force at all.
Miraal’s eyebrows scrunched. “No. Your father’s name was Miraal.”
“I’m not a Kenobi?” Obi-Wan squeaked.
Miraal shook her head. “No. Well, yes...that is, Kenobi is the name I gave you. It’s your first name.”
Mace was hit suddenly by a rapidly-building shatter-point. It pounded behind his eyes, waiting to either break or lessen. There were some days Mace really didn’t like this ability of his.
“Kenobi Miraal, his name is?” queried Yoda.
“Yes,” Miraal replied shortly. Something cold crept into her manner. She stiffened, as if just realizing there were Jedi in her vicinity. “His temporary guardians gave him the name Obi-Wan.”
They all, except perhaps Kenobi himself, realized the weight of this revelation.
As a last name, Kenobi meant ‘Son of Nothing’, with the full name of Obi-Wan Kenobi meaning, ‘ No-One, Son of Nothing ’. As a first name, however, Kenobi was a much kinder choice. It was a promise to become something, though born from nothing. Mara Miraal had named her son with a promise to become something great. The people who gave him to the Jedi had taken that from him.
“Where is my father?” Kenobi asked.
Miraal took a moment to answer that one.
“We were betrayed by people we trusted. Kenobi--your father--died protecting us.”
Mace’s frown grew deeper as he felt a wave of sadness from Initiate Kenobi. Mace reached out to check if the boy was okay, and he stepped back in shock. He was already creating a bond with her! He was feeling her emotions!
“You killed them,” Kenobi said with certainty.
Miraal glanced back at Yoda and Mace before answering.
“Yes. I did.” It was a statement utterly devoid of emotion. Only her eyes betrayed the betrayal she must have felt.
“You were angry and hurt, and you killed them,” Kenobi continued. Miraal didn’t answer, prompting the boy to finish. “That’s why you left me behind. You wanted to protect me from your enemies...and from you.”
She stepped forward, and Obi-- that is, Kenobi--met her halfway, arms outstretched. They met with a fierce hug. Miraal sank to her knees, nearly matching Kenobi in height.
“I am so, so sorry,” she whispered.
“I forgive you,” Kenobi replied, just as quietly.
The shatter-point broke.
Shards of pain ricocheted through Mace’s mind. Whether the shatter-point was good or bad remained to be seen.
Another jolt of pain shot through him, coming from his leg. Yoda had hit him with his gimer stick.
“Leave them alone, we must,” his former Master ordered.
“Master,” Mace said warningly. “She is a Mandalorian.”
“Hurt her child, she will not,” Yoda said, then waddled off.
Mace gave one more glance at the Mandalorian, and followed the green Master.
Obi-Wan led his mother to his area in the creche. His mother!
He fought a smile and picked up the pace a little. He wasn’t sure if knowing her--if having her here in the temple was a good thing yet or not, but by the Force, it was the coolest thing to ever happen to him.
Apparently, he must have formed a bond with his mother when he was really little, because he could already feel it waking up.
“Do you get your own room?” his mother asked.
“No, but as an older Initiate, I only have to share a dorm with a few other boys.”
His mother nodded in approval. Oh Force, what was he supposed to call her? How was he going to introduce her to his friends?
“That’s good. It’s nice to have your own space,” she said.
Her answer opened up a whole lot of other questions he wanted to ask. Where was she from that she considered sharing with half-a-dozen others as ‘having space’? Maybe she grew up in a big family. Maybe he had uncles and aunts and cousins! He thought of a subtle way he could question her about it.
“Did you have to share a room when you were a kid?”
His mother nodded. “Yeah, I shared a room with my brother and sister. It’s a shame you’ll never get to meet them. Jalian would have loved you.”
Did that mean her family was dead?
“But now I sleep in a camp full of sweaty, snoring Mandalorians, so I count it a good night if I can get a few hours of quiet.”
His mother knew Mandalorians? She lived in a camp full of Mandalorians?!
“You know Mandalorians?” he asked in open awe and apprehension.
His mother grinned and looked at him like Bant often looked at him--in fond exasperation.
“ Ad’ika , little one, I am a Mandalorian.”
Obi-Wan stopped dead.
“What?!” he squeaked.
Mandalorian? That couldn’t be the truth. Mandalorians hated Jedi. They killed Jedi! Did that mean his mother hated who he was--who his friends were? He had noticed how stiff she was around Master Yoda and Master Windu, but he didn’t think much about it. A lot of people didn’t like or understand Jedi.
“Your father was Mandalorian, too,” his mother continued with an oblivious smile, unaware of her son’s internal crisis.
“Hi, Obi-Wan!” Garen’s cheerful voice shouted from down the hall.
Obi-Wan whirled on his friend with wide eyes. His mother was a Mandalorian! His friends were Jedi! He was a Jedi!
“Who’s that with you?” Garen asked, strolling up. Siri and Bant were with him.
Obi-Wan watched, frozen, as his Jedi-hating, armour-wearing, blaster-loving mother walked over to his best friends.
“Hi!” she said brightly. “I’m Ken...Obi-Wan’s mom.”
That threw the gathering of Initiates and Padawans through a loop.
“His mom,” Bant said dully.
Siri narrowed her eyes at his mother. Obi-Wan gulped. Could Siri tell how dangerous his mom was?
“I guess you’re Obi-Wan’s friends?” his mom asked.
Garen recovered quick enough to be his usual self. “That would require this dork being friendly enough to get friends.”
Obi-Wan quickly glanced at his mom, half expecting her to reach for a weapon then and there. Mandalorians were infamous for their quick tempers. But a small smile twitched across his mom’s face.
“What’s your name, kid?” she asked.
“Garen Muln,” he replied with his trademark grin.
His mother glanced at the others expectantly.
“Siri Tachi,” Siri relented with a grumble.
“So, Mrs. Kenobi,” Garen began with another grin. “What brings you to the Temple?”
“I decided it was high time I met my son,” she replied.
Obi-Wan decided he wanted this meeting to be over.
“You guys go ahead. I’ll meet you in the cafeteria.”
Garen snapped a jaunty salute, and Siri and Bant followed him back down the hallway, Siri still watching suspiciously all the way.
“So,” his mother began once they were out of sight. “That Siri Tachi really likes you.”
The Jedi Council was not supposed to convene again until late this evening, but a single word from Mace Windu had them all rushing to their seats in the Councilroom.
“Why in the Force above is there a Mandalorian running around the Temple?” demanded Master Oriss Massa.
“Initiate Kenobi’s mother, she is,” Grandmaster Yoda explained.
“Unless I am mistaken, we are not in the habit of allowing Initiate’s parents into the Temple to visit their children,” Master Massa came again. “And family or not, she is a Mandalorian .”
“I do not believe Mrs. Miraal wishes us ill at the present. But it does raise a few interesting questions,” Master Windu spoke up. “Mrs. Miraal, as the legal guardian of her son, had no knowledge of young Kenobi being given to us. And without the guardian's approval, we cannot legally or conscientiously train a child in our ways.”
The council chambers fell silent as everyone considered the weight of that statement.
“Has Mrs. Miraal attempted to convince her son to leave us?” asked Master Ki-Adi-Mundi.
“Not yet. She seems to be honoring her son’s wishes to be a Jedi,” Master Windu replied.
“I feel this issue to be more important than we realize,” Master Sifo-Dyas spoke for the first time. “I don’t know how or why, but this will change the future.”
Once again, the Council fell silent, unsure of what to do.
“So, you’ve only got three more weeks before they kick you out?” his mom asked incredulously.
“Wow,” she breathed. “I knew they were hut’uun shabuirs , but I didn’t think they’d stoop so low as to abandon the ade they stole.”
Obi-Wan frowned at her pointedly. “They don’t steal kids. They get permission from the parents or guardians first.”
She gave him a look.
“This particular circumstance aside,” he added. “And I don’t know what those other words in Mando’a meant, but I can guess.”
She glanced at him sheepishly.
They sat side by side, feet dangling over the balcony to the gardens.
Obi-Wan kicked his feet, trying to muster up enough courage to ask her what he really wanted to know. “You’re a Mandalorian. Does that mean you hate Jedi?”
He felt her stiffen beside him.
“Yes, and no,” she answered after a long minute. “The Jedi killed my family, but...you are my family now. And if there is one thing more important to a Mandalorian, it’s ade-- children .”
Obi-Wan gaped at her. “They-- we killed your family?”
“It was a very long time ago,” she said, almost dismissively. “I’ve no doubt everyone’s forgotten it.”
Obi-Wan stared at his feet in quiet shock. They had killed her family? Were they bad people or something? What could they have possibly done to deserve a Jedi coming after them? Obi-Wan wanted to think about something else--anything else.
“Earlier,” he began. “You said you lived in a camp with other Mandalorians. Do you get your own tent?”
His mother relaxed. “There’s not really enough spare room for everyone to have their own space, but sometimes I can catch some quiet in Jaster’s tent, if he’s not around.”
“My boss, technically. Jaster Mereel is the King of Mandalore. I guess you could say I’m his second-in-command.”
Obi-Wan choked on air. “The King?” Just when he thought it couldn’t get any more complicated, she had to drop this on him? “That makes you, what, the Prime Minister? The Vice-King?”
“ Ka’ra no,” his mom said vehemently. “That’s Jango’s job. I just help out.”
Obi-Wan stared at his mother blankly, and she sighed. “I suppose I should start at the beginning. It all started a long time ago, with the first Mandalorian Jedi: Tarre Vizsla…”
Yan Dooku watched from the shadows, listening to every word the strange Mandalorian woman said. He listened to stories he’d never heard of.
His friend, Sifo-Dyas had filled him in after the impromptu Council meeting earlier. This was by far the most interesting thing to happen in the Temple in recent memory. This was most fascinating: as was the faint sense of darkness that clung to Mrs. Miraal.
The darkness had always interested him. Perhaps if she was allowed to return, he could learn something from her.
Obi-Wan stood at the entrance to the Temple, watching his mother put on an excessive amount of armour and weaponry.
Master Windu had asked her to leave while the Council came to a decision, but he knew that wouldn’t stop her from contacting him. His mother was an interesting person, and he really wanted to know more about his family stories.
“Mother,” he asked, but the word sounded strange on his lips.
She stopped to look up at him, waiting for him to continue.
“What’s the Mandalorian word for ‘mom’?”
Her responding smile made the awkward question worthwhile.
“Buir. I’m your Buir.”
Obi-Wan couldn’t help the smile that stretched across his face.
Mara, his Buir, stood and shoved her blasters back into their holsters. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of flimsi.
“If you ever need anything--ever--I will answer,” she promised, handing the flimsi to him. “And if they decide you’re not good enough for them, I’ll come and get you.”
Obi-Wan memorized the comm numbers. His Buir put on her helmet of intimidating black and dark blue.
“May the Force be with you, Buir,” he called.
“Ret'urcye mhi, ad’ika,” she replied, and walked off into the bustling city-planet of Coruscant
She would come back. Obi-Wan never doubted that for a second.
Chapter 2: World In Your Hands
Okay, this is where it starts to pick up.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my brother's soul
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Obi-Wan ignored Reeft and Bant’s sympathetic faces as he shoved his few belongings into a bag. No one wanted him. He wasn’t good enough.
“Obi-Wan, I’m sure your mother--” Bant began.
“Would want a failure?” he finished miserably.
He had tried his best. He’d even beaten Bruck Chun! But he’d done it through anger, so now they were sending him away. He wasn’t a Jedi anymore. But maybe that was a good thing. Buir would take him in without question, now that he would never be a Jedi..
“Come on, Kenobi,” Garen said with false cheerfulness. “Your mom is the coolest thing that’s happened here in years. She’s a Mandalorian. How awesome is that?”
Obi-Wan sighed. He was right, of course. Buir could come get him. It was too late for her to pick him up from the Temple, since he would be leaving in the morning. She was probably still on Mandalore. She would have to come get him from Bandomeer.
“You’re right, Garen,” he allowed with a smile. He was really going to miss his friends. “I’ll call her, and the next time you see me, I’ll be a Mandalorian.”
“Just don’t start hunting Jedi, and you’ll be alright,” Siri said coldly, standing in the doorway.
“Obi-Wan would never do anything of the sort!” Bant retorted snappishly.
Obi-Wan and Siri eyed each other. Even after all this time, he still wasn’t quite sure what to make of her.
“Goodbye, Siri,” Obi-Wan said as pleasantly as he could.
“Goodbye, Mando.” She turned on her heel and left.
“Well, that’s one person you won’t miss,” Reeft stated.
Obi-Wan hugged all of his friends tightly. Bant started crying.
“Don’t worry. I’ll see you guys again,” he promised.
“Not if I see you first, Kenobi,” Garen called cheerfully.
Obi-Wan strolled through the Jedi Temple for the last time with his head held high.
Bandomeer was waiting for him, and the whole galaxy was beyond that.
That is, until Offworld Mining got involved.
Qui-Gon Jinn froze, hand hovering, unsure, over his lightsaber.
“What in the Ka’ra happened to you?” the Mandalorian demanded.
The boy walked over to the warrior, obviously ignorant of the danger he was in.
“Sorry, Buir,” the boy apologized, stepping dangerously close to the Mando. “I lost a fight with a Hutt.”
Of all things, the Mandalorian laughed!
“Gone less than a week, and you’ve already turned Mandokarla!”
The Mandalorian pulled off her helmet, and dropped it over Obi-Wan’s head, before pulling him into a hug.
In the confusion and adrenaline of the situation, Qui-Gon hadn’t realized he’d pulled out his lightsaber until the Mandalorian’s gaze snapped to it and him. Before he could process it, the woman shoved Obi-Wan behind her and reached to her side, pulling out a blaster.
They faced off, waiting for the other to make the first move.
Obi-Wan poked his head out from behind the Mando.
“Buir, this is Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Don’t worry. He’s nice.”
Why and in what universe was a Jedi youngling taking a Mandalorian’s side?!
“I’m sure he is,” she said in a flat tone. “Put the light stick down, Jetti. I’m not here to fight.”
As if Qui-Gon would trust that for a second. Fighting is all the Mandalorians knew.
“Master Jinn, sir,” Obi-Wan said. Qui-Gon’s gaze flickered to the boy. “It’s okay. This is Mara. She’s my mother.”
Qui-Gon blinked. Mother?!
Just then, Clat’Ha stepped in-between them, oblivious to the tense situation.
“Ah, Mister Jinn! I see you’ve met the bounty hunter they hired.”
Obi-Wan looked up at the Mando through the helmet’s visor. “You took a job here, Buir?”
“I figured I might as well help out while I’m here,” she replied lightly.
“For pay,” Qui-Gon clarified.
She shrugged. “Every little bit helps.”
“Did I miss something here?” Clat’Ha asked, gesturing at Qui-Gon’s lightsaber.
Qui-Gon was about to answer, but the Mando beat him to it.
“Just some friendly rivalry. Nothing to worry about.” She took her helmet back from Obi-Wan, and tucked it under her arm. Obi-Wan stuck close to her side. She motioned for Clat’Ha to lead the way.
“So what’s all this trouble with Offworld Mining?” she asked.
Clat’Ha strolled off, Obi-Wan and the Mando listening to her explanation.
Qui-Gon followed at a distance, but still close enough to hear what was being said. This whole state of affairs was well outside of his comfort zone. Something about it rubbed him the whole way, and he didn’t like it.
Xanatos DuCrion scowled. He hadn’t planned on the independent miners hiring a bounty hunter to protect their interests.
No matter. The Mandalorian wouldn’t care about the Jedi visiting on a diplomatic mission. If anything, the Mando might even help--given the right price. This might end up working to his advantage after all. The only thing that had really changed was the little Jedi poking his nose where it wasn’t needed.
Xanatos’ scowl curled upwards at the edges. He had a few ideas on how to get rid of the little twerp.
Mara Dredan’s eyes narrowed. Something was wrong here. Something familiar, steeped in darkness pricked at the edge of her senses. Offworld wasn’t the only shady thing happening here.
Best to keep her eyes open and her ears to the keyhole on this one.
THREE DAYS LATER
Mace Windu felt the beginnings of a headache coming on.
Oddly enough, the first pangs of pain behind his eyes coincided with Qui-Gon’s entrance into the councilroom.
Trailing behind Qui-Gon was Master Dooku, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Mara Miraal. The sour expression on Qui-Gon’s face was the only thing that kept Mace’s headache from turning into a full-blown migraine. Dooku sent the occasional look of distaste towards his former student, and Mrs. Miraal looked ready to kill something.
“Master Dooku,” Yarell Poof said, surprised. “Is there an issue you wished to discuss with the Council?”
Mace understood the older Master’s surprise. Dooku never much bothered with the Council anymore.
Master Dooku bowed. “Yes, Masters. But I will allow Knight Jinn and Warrior Miraal to give their accounts first.”
It was never a good sign when Jinn and Dooku were in the same room; especially when Dooku was willingly letting Jinn talk first. Qui-Gon ignored Dooku, and delved into a story, recounting his version of events to, at, and from Bandomeer. For the most part, Qui-Gon seemed to be telling the truth, but an occasional scoff or feeling of disbelief emanated from the Mandalorian--especially when Qui-Gon brought up Xanatos. She really wanted to say something.
Apparently Yoda got the same impression.
“Warrior Miraal, more to add, have you?”
Miraal nodded. The feeling of distrust and unease crept back into her manner. Then she looked at Qui-Gon, and all that disappeared under the veil of thinly hidden anger.
“His psychotic ex-apprentice kidnapped my kid, sold him into slavery, and nearly got him blown up.”
Mace mentally cringed at the Mandalorian’s simplified explanation. A vein above Qui-Gon’s eyebrow bulged.
“Xanatos’ actions are no longer my responsibility,” he said firmly.
Sifo-Dyas jumped in. “Maybe not. But as an ex-Jedi, Xanatos’ actions should have been investigated--or watched closer--by you, as you were the only Jedi around.”
No one disputed that fact.
“And,” Miraal continued, and Mace felt another pain. “Obi-Wan isn’t thirteen yet, and as such is still an Initiate,” she said with a particular glare at Yoda. “He is also the responsibility of the nearest Jedi; which in this case, was Jinn.”
Qui-Gon retaliated with a glare at Miraal. “Masters, I’m not sure that a Mandalor--”
Mace cut him off before they started a fist-fight in the middle of the council chambers.
“She has a point, Qui-Gon.” He spared a moment to glare at Yoda. “Initiate Kenobi was mistakenly sent to Bandomeer, and for that, we apologize, Initiate.”
“It’s alright,” Obi-Wan said, seemingly content to stand between Master Dooku and his mother.
Master Dooku remained silent throughout, regarding his former student with an unimpressed air.
Mace continued. “Warrior Miraal, while Master Jinn was responsible for Initiate Kenobi, you were on-world as well. As Kenobi’s mother, part of that responsibility falls on you.”
Miraal bowed concedingly, surprising the rest of the attending council members.
“I don’t have a valid excuse. I thought Obi-Wan was safe in his bunk, with his friend and Master Jinn nearby.” The way she said Qui-Gon’s title was filled to the brim with sarcasm. “Yes, I briefly neglected my duties as his parent to do my job as a bounty hunter--namely,” she jerked an accusing thumb at Qui-Gon. "investigating his psychotic ex-kid.”
This was the moment Master Dooku chose to speak. “I agree with Warrior Miraal. Partly due to the grievous handling of Initiate Kenobi’s fate, I have asked the boy to be my padawan.”
Yoda gave a loud harrumph! “One apprentice already, you have. Another, you cannot take.”
“Precisely,” Master Massa agreed vehemently. “No such allowance has ever been made.”
“Komari has learned all I can teach her. I have spoken to her about taking the Trials. If she does not pass this time, she will never be a Knight.”
Mace frowned deeply. Komari Vosa was, in every sense of the word, a miscreant. He knew his brother-padawan had tried his best to teach Vosa calmness and manners, but it never appeared to stick. The girl was nearing thirty, and was just as wild as she was when she was sixteen. Dooku was right. Her Padawanship was coming to an end.
“Have you accepted the offer, Initiate Kenobi?” Sifo-Dyas asked kindly.
“Yes, Masters,” Obi-Wan proclaimed happily.
“Very well,” Mace announced before Yoda or Orris Massa could stick their opinions in. “It is decided. Good luck, Padawan Kenobi.” and he meant it. “Your actions on the ship, and on Bandomeer do you credit. May the Force be with you.”
The boy flushed slightly under the praise, and glanced at the floor.
“Have you anything else to add, Master Dooku?” Yarell Poof asked.
“Nothing at present, Masters.” Dooku bowed deeply, and placed a hand on Kenobi’s shoulder.
The boy glanced up at his mother. Miraal nodded with an encouraging smile.
After both Master and Padawan had departed, Orriss Massa opened his big, fat mouth.
“You of course realize you have just given up your son again, Miraal. This time permanently.”
Every line in the Mandalorian’s form stiffened. Her face went hardly, coldly analyzing everything in sight. Everything about her screamed danger! through the Force.
“I should have known,” she muttered under her breath. Out loud, however, she said, “Surely you don’t think you can keep me from Obi-Wan.”
Mace held out a placating hand, but Yoda spoke first.
“Phrased it poorly, Master Massa has. Contact with Padawan Kenobi, you shall have.”
Mace continued for his former Master. “But as Master Dooku’s Padawan, Kenobi is now--first and foremost--his responsibility. While you may be his mother, Dooku is now his guardian by our rules and traditions.”
The Mandalorian relaxed slightly. “I understand. But I will be allowed to visit and comm him.”
It was neither a question nor a suggestion.
“Have an armed Mandalorian in the Temple, we cannot.”
And Mace had to restrain himself from pulling his lightsaber to defend the Grandmaster from the Mandalorian’s coming rage.
“Do you fear for your younglings, or for yourselves?” Miraal asked with a sneer. “Or perhaps you’re worried I’ll turn your children into mindless killers like me and the rest of my people.”
“Mean no offense, I did,” Yoda chuckled. “But banned from the Temple, you are.”
For the briefest second, Miraal’s face shone with an unnatural anger that twisted her features into something less than human. Then it was gone, showing no sign of being there in the first place.
“If that is your final decision, then I will respect the rules of my son’s people,” she said without a hint of sincerity. “And Manda willing, I will never darken your doors again.”
She set her helmet on her head, and did not bow as she walked out of the room.
Qui-Gon, who had thankfully remained silent throughout the exchange, smiled brightly.
“I think that went rather well.”
“I wonder…” Sifo-Dyas trailed off.
It was too late. Mace's headache was now a total migraine.
Yan Dooku opened the door to his personal rooms--the rooms he would be sharing with yet another Padawan. He sighed. He really was getting too old for this.
His mental sigh grew louder when the door swung open to reveal Mara Miraal standing there.
“Warrior,” he nodded.
“Master,” she nodded back, surprising Yan.
Dooku gestured for her to come in. She set her helmet on the foyer table, and stepped further into the living room.
“I expect you know why I’m here.”
“They have barred you from future visits to the Temple,” Dooku surmised. “You came to say goodbye.”
“Nothing gets past you, does it?” Miraal said, taking a seat on the only armchair in the place. Dooku took the couch to the side.
“The Council is sometimes blind to the obvious,” he began carefully. “Their decisions are often clouded by their fear.”
“So I’ve noticed.” She nodded. “I sense we understand one another, Dooku.”
He said nothing. It was true, of course, to some extent. He had listened to her stories--her beliefs coloring the narrative. Injustice, pointless violence, and arrogance angered her, just as it angered him. Distrust over politicians was another commonality, but how could she know his beliefs? They had only met yesterday. His silent wondering paid off, as Miraal continued.
“You and I have seen the darkness--learned from it. And, as they say: better the enemy you know, than the enemy you never see coming.”
She was being frightfully obtuse, but that was the way he preferred it. Her words held double, even triple, meanings, and he could decipher them all. She was offering him respect, insulting the Council, and possibly referring to some grander darkness--perhaps the darkness that was slowly clouding the Force.
“A wise saying indeed, Warrior Miraal. Certainly in these times.” He matched her hidden words with ones of his own. “Light will always fight darkness, as it should. But I think sometimes it does not understand why it fights.”
“Why what fights what?” the young voice of Kenobi asked.
He was standing in the doorway with a box full of Komari’s questionable choice of music pads. Komari, who was still on a mission, would come back to an empty room and her Trials.
Kenobi frowned and set the box of music down. “I thought you were going into the city for supper, Buir.”
“There has been a change of plans, I’m afraid,” Dooku began.
“I’ve been called back to Mandalore,” Miraal lied smoothly. “There’s some new trouble with Vizsla.”
“But,” Dooku added, with a sudden idea. “As your mother won’t be on-world for your thirteenth birthday next week, we decided…”
“To combine your birthday with your Padawan celebration,” Miraal finished.
Kenobi’s expression lightened. “Can I invite my friends?”
Miraal glanced at Dooku, waiting for him to answer. He appreciated the gesture. These were his rooms, after all.
“Very well, Padawan. You may invite a few of your friends after dinner,” he agreed. “But only if you finish straightening your room.”
Obi-Wan immediately picked up the discarded box and rushed back into his room.
Miraal chuckled. “He’s so much like his father.”
She retrieved her helmet from the table and faced Dooku. “I’ll go get food, if you would be kind enough to provide lots of tea.” She paused. “And alcohol, if you have any.”
Dooku nodded with a smirk. “It’s the least I can do.”
She closed the door behind her, and Dooku was left wondering if he knew what he was getting into.
“How many votes for Spin the Bottle?” Garen asked.
Siri shoved him. Obi-Wan and Reeft burst into laughter.
Yan sighed tiredly, and joined Miraal in the quiet of the kitchen. She was leaning against the counter with a glass of Corerllian ale in her hand, watching the children’s antics with a smile. Yan poured himself a glass of brandy and leaned against the opposite counter, facing her.
“The Council has contacted me,” Dooku said suddenly, taking a calculated chance. “As soon as you leave the Temple, Obi-Wan and I are being sent on a diplomatic mission to Keraansk.”
The Mandalorian nodded with a smile. “Diplomacy suits you well, Dooku.” Her brown eyes met his. “I wish it was a skill I possessed.”
Meaning: I’d like to come, but I can’t.
“Perhaps you could learn in time. You have the makings of a fine negotiator, Miraal.”
Meaning: Come next time, if you’re able.
“I appreciate your trust in me, Master Jedi,” Miraal said, abandoning all pretense of hidden meanings.
He studied the Mandalorian before him. This was by far the calmest interaction he’d had with one of her kind. And she was entrusting him with her only child.
“I humbly return the sentiment,” he replied.
“To Obi-Wan,” said she.
“To Obi-Wan,” Yan agreed.
They clinked their glasses together.
“Siri, if you don’t stop that right now, I’ll give Quinlan Vos your comm number!” Garen Muln howled from the living room.
“You wouldn’t dare!” came Siri Tachi’s enraged reply.
A loud thwack! resounded, and Yan and Miraal shared a pained look.
“Should we stop them before someone gets hurt?” Miraal asked.
Dooku took a long sip of his brandy. “Eventually, I suppose.”
Both adults simply continued sipping their drinks and watching the fight.
I wanted to write the entire storyline of Bandomeer, but unfortunately, my brain ceased to function properly.
Chapter 3: Yesterday, and Days Before
In which a plot appears.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my sense of humor, which I got as a blue-light special from K-Mart
“What did the Council want, Master?” Padawan Kenobi asked, falling into step with his Master.
Yan Dooku didn’t slow his pace as they strolled through the Temple.
“We are to leave for Melida/Daan immediately. Another Master is in peril. I shall explain the rest on the way.”
Dooku’s Padawan nodded, and rushed ahead to reach their set of shared rooms first. Yan shook his head. The boy was always in such a hurry to please him.
What awaited on Melida/Daan would be an awakening for the Temple-raised boy. War with children for soldiers was not something you could understand by reading a book or hearing about it on the news. In fact, war in any way shape or form was above the average Jedi’s job description. True, they were going to rescue Master Tahl, but finding a way to stop the war had been her mission. If she was unable to complete it, Yan and young Kenobi would have to.
While Yan was certainly versed in the finer points of war, his practical first-hand knowledge was severely lacking.
It was times like this when Yan was glad to have a certain person’s comm code. He punched in the memorized numbers, and waited for the only intelligent Mandalorian he knew to answer.
Mara Miraal didn’t much use her lightsaber anymore. The weight of a blaster had always felt more comfortable in her hand. Not to mention, carrying around a lightsaber would raise all kinds of awkward questions, especially now that her son was a Jedi. Jedi tended to be touchy about that kind of thing.
But today, safe away from prying Jedi eyes, her lightsaber found some good use. The deep red blade sliced through a Death Watch soldier’s jetpack. The jetpack lifted the man off the ground, then exploded in a wave of flames and smoke.
“Myles!” Mara shouted across the battlefield, alerting a young Mando with dark grey and blue armour. “Cordo needs backup!”
The young man nodded and sped off, as Mara’s blade sliced through another Kyr’tsad. The skirmish was beginning to wind down around her. It looked to be another victory for the Haat Mando’ade.
“Miraal!” a familiar voice shouted. Jaster was fighting off three Kyr’tsad at once, and she couldn’t tell if he was winning or not. “Get to Jango! He’s about to do something stupid.”
Mara ducked and rolled as a stray missle screamed over her head. It exploded in the distance, and she got to her feet, sprinting towards Tor Vizsla’s last known location.
The di’kulta kid was more than likely pulling his favorite stunt--going after the snake by himself.
“Jango!” she shouted. Where was that infernal idiot?
A loud explosion shook the ground. With a deep sigh, Mara took off running towards it, trailing in the wake of disaster.
Jango clenched his westars tightly, and circled around a formation of rocks.
“You’ve lost this one, Vizsla!” he shouted.”Give it up!”
“Come and make me, little Fett,” came Vizsla’s taunting voice. “I’ll gut you like I did your parents.”
Jango let out a roar, and leapt at the man.
Tor Vizsla side-stepped the attack, whipping out that infernal Darksaber. Jango ran straight at him. The Darksaber struck his beskar armour, sending sparks to the ground around them.
But Vizsla had been expecting Jango’s foolhardy attack. When Jango threw a punch, Vizsla grabbed his fist, and twisted it behind his back.
Jango fired up his jetpack, breaking Vizsla’s hold and burning his hand. Then Tor Vizsla swung the Darksaber in an arc, slicing through Jango’s jetpack. Both men crashed to the ground in a heap.
Vizsla got to his feet first.
The cursed Darksaber was pointed at Jango’s chin before he could blink. He stared up into the face of certain death.
“Goodbye, little Fett,” Tor grinned. “See you on the other side.”
The saber swung downwards, and Jango’s eyes clenched shut.
A red saber twisted down, clashing against black. His eyes flew open again.
“I don’t think you would end up in the same place, “Mara snarled.
Tor’s grin turned into a matching snarl. Jango shot to his feet.
“Jango, what have I told you about having a plan and backup?” his aunt scolded.
“That they’re optional?” Jango quipped, getting out of harms’ way as quickly as possible. He knew first-hand what kind of damage thos lightsabers could do.
“Miraal,” Vizsla sneered. “Rescuing everyone’s son but your own.”
Even Jango knew that was a step too far. Mara’s eyes flashed dangerously at the mention of her long-dead son. For a moment, Jango almost swore they flickered yellow.
Tor might be a mountain of muscle and strength, but Mara was a raging storm of deadly precision. Mara flipped her blade to a back-handed position, and growled at Tor. Tor matched her growl, and sprung forward.
Jango watched as Mara blocked every one of Vizsla’s vicious blows.
After a few more moments of watching the fight, something occurred to Jango. Mara was his backup, so where was hers? He scrambled to his feet, and ran off in search of something to help with. Lightsabers were beyond him, so any assistance he had to offer would have to be…
Tor Vizsla had, up to that point, been having a good day. He’d even come close to ridding himself of yet another infernal Fett. If only it hadn’t been for that darmanda witch.
Whatever he tried, however he came at her, he never seemed to get in a solid hit.
Then, he saw his opportunity. That reverse-grip she was using was leaving her left side open to attack, but she was moving too fast for a real strike.
Tor watched carefully, waiting for an opening.
Of course, that was when everything exploded into fire and dirt.
Miraal disappeared from his view, and he cursed loudly. He couldn’t see anything in all this dust.
Then something hit him over the head.
Mara slowly blinked her eyes open, and immediately recoiled when a sharp pain stabbed through her brain.
The last thing she remembered was the look on Tor Vizsla’s face just before everything went dark.
Mara forced her eyes to focus as a familiar face came into view. She groaned.
“Jango, next time, aim for the other guy.”
“Woah, you’re alive?!” Jango exclaimed, helping her sit up.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” she grumbled.
She reached up to find the source of the pain. There was a gash in her forehead of a worrisome size. When she pulled her hand back, it was coated in red.
“Oh. That’s why,” said she, then promptly passed out.
“This is why we wear helmets.”
“This is why we teach our kids how to properly aim a grenade-launcher,” Mara shot back.
Jaster chuckled. “We’ll call it even, then.”
“Vizsla?” she asked.
“Crawled back into his hole. Your brave sacrifice bought us at least a week of peace and quiet,” Jaster replied.
“Well, isn’t that nice?” She sighed and sat up.
“Hang on,” Jaster protested. “The fight’s over. You can take a rest.”
It was all but an order.
Just then, Mara’s personal comm rang.
“Sorry, boss. That rest might have to wait.”
She thumbed the comm, and a fancy-sounding man’s voice came through.
“ Warrior Miraal? ”
“At your assistance. What service can I do for you today?” She frowned at her words. That didn’t sound right.
The voice didn’t sound amused. “ Miraal, are you drunk?”
“Not this time,” she answered cheerfully, finally recognizing Master Dooku’s voice. “I’ve just got a minor concession.”
Jaster and Dooku sighed in unison.
“I’m afraid Miraal will be out of commission for a while. Anything I can do for you?” Jaster asked, sweet man that he is.
“ Unless you can help stop a war, I’m afraid not,” Dooku said stiffly.
Jaster’s eyes narrowed. “Listen here…”
“I will be perfectly fine after a nap,” Mara broke in before they could start an argument. “Where do you want me to be?”
“Melida/Daan,” Dooku answered shortly. “And please do not injure yourself further.”
He hung up.
“Who was that?” Jaster asked.
“A very important client,” she replied. “You did say we had about a week before Vizsla started up any new trouble.”
“I’m getting too old for this,” Jaster sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “You’re not indestructible, Mara. You may have those freaky powers, but you still have to sleep and eat sometime.”
Mara picked up her helmet and slid her blasters back into their holsters.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Master Tahl is gravely ill. We will have to take her back to the Temple immediately.”
Obi-Wan was beginning to really dislike that tone in his Master’s voice.
“But Master, we can’t just leave! ” he protested. “The Council won’t let us come back to help.”
“Indeed,” Master Yan agreed. “Which is why you are going back, and I am staying behind to resolve the conflict.”
Obi-Wan opened his mouth to argue. He wanted to stay and help the Young, too!
“This is a war! You can’t stay here by yourself!”
“Rest assured that I am not. I commed your mother before we left the Temple. She is doubtless on her way right now,” Master Yan stated matter-of-factly. “And you would do better to watch your tone, young Kenobi. Especially around those who know more than you do.”
Obi-Wan bowed his head, but clenched his jaw.
“Yes, Master.” He glanced up. “Will I be able to see her before I leave for Coruscant?”
“That would rather depend on when she arrives.”
Obi-Wan silently sulked. He really wanted to stay behind with Cerasi and join their fight. But Master Yan wasn’t one for negotiating. He would have to leave Melida/Daan, with no argument. At least he might be able to see Buir before he left.
Mara had been in the business of starting and ending wars for far longer than anyone realized, but this? This was ludicrous.
“You mean they just keep going?” she exclaimed in disbelief.
“Unfortunately,” Dooku sighed. “Every generation passes on the hate and revenge of the previous generation. It’s been so long, no one remembers the original reason the war began.”
Mara shook her head, then frowned, considering. “Question: how do you stop children from fighting? Because, let’s face it, these people are acting like toddlers.”
“You take away the object of the fight--most often a toy.”
Mara and Dooku turned towards the weak-sounding voice. Master Tahl looked even worse than Dooku had described. Obi-Wan was supporting her weight.
“Correct,” Mara replied, trying to get a read on the unfamiliar Jedi. She seemed interested, but too ill to truly care.
“Padawan, if you would please assist Master Tahl to the ship.” Dooku spoke, and Obi-Wan obeyed. While he helped Tahl into the ship, Dooku turned back to Mara. “So we take away their toys--their means to fight. How does that stop the cycle of revenge?”
“We use the toys as bait, and when they fall for it, we send them to time out.”
“That sounds complicated,” Obi-Wan said, strolling up. “Hello, Buir!”
Mara smiled underneath her buy’ce, and bent slightly to hug him. A pang of pride hit her heart when she noticed his Padawan braid was getting longer.
“Hello, ad’ika. You’re getting taller.”
“Thanks. I hope I’ll end up being taller than Reeft,” he grinned. “Can I borrow your helmet? I want to show Cerasi.”
Wondering who Cerasi was, Mara shook her head. She didn’t want him to see the bandages wrapped around her skull.
“Not this time, Ob’ika. Next time.”
“Padawan,” Dooku said warningly. “Time is of the essence. You may comm your Buir later.”
“Yes, Master Yan,” Obi-Wan replied with a wistful smile at Mara. He ran off towards the Jedi ship.
“He is a bright, intelligent boy, but he still has much to learn,” Dooku said with a side glance at her. “Such as when people are avoiding talking about certain subjects.”
Mara ignored the jab until the Jedi ship lifted off into the atmosphere.
“He isn’t ready for war,” she stated, pulling off her buy’ce, letting Dooku see the damage. He didn’t so much as flinch at the bloodied bandages and black eyes.
“No,” he agreed. “But he will learn to be ready for anything.”
“In the meantime, war is our business.” She replaced her buy’ce, and turned to the ruined world in front of them. “Let’s get to it.”
Dooku hated giving reports to the council, but report he must.
“After I sent Padawan Kenobi back to Coruscant with Master Tahl, I encountered a hired mercenary who had been paid to steal weapons from the Melida and Daan,” he lied smoothly. “We ended up working together, and came up with a plan.”
“Help steal their weapons, you did,” Yoda chuckled from his seat.”Force them to sit and talk, you did.”
Dooku nodded. “It took a fair bit of reasoning to get them to see sense, but with the Young’s help, we managed to set up a fair and balanced government. I recommend keeping a closer eye on them in future.”
Mace Windu sat forward. “And this mercenary? Who was she?”
“The only name she gave was ‘Hex’,” Dooku continued lying. He distantly wondered when it had become so easy to lie to the Council.
“An alias, no doubt,” Orris Massa interjected.
“All’s well that ends well,” Master Yaddle added. “And what of Master Tahl?”
“Master Vokara Che says that she will heal. All but her eyesight should be recovered in time.”
The Council members looked saddened by the news. Dooku had to agree with the sentiment. Master Tahl, aside from being Qui-Gon’s closest friend, was one of the few bright lights remaining in the Order. Even Obi-Wan had already taken a liking to her. It was a great tragedy for her to lose her sight. Qui-Gon would be devastated.
“A loss, this is,” Yoda proclaimed. “But learn from it, we will.”
Dooku bowed deeply, and left the Council chambers. The Halls of Healing was his next destination. He needed to speak with Obi-Wan, and it was a fair guess of where he would be.
He found Obi-Wan sitting in a chair next to Tahl’s bed. Both were smiling and laughing at something. Tahl must be feeling much better if she felt up to laughing at Obi-Wan’s jokes.
As he came further into the room, he noticed another figure, sitting in the chair on the other side of Tahl’s bed. It was Qui-Gon.
Dooku was hardly surprised. After all, he’d long known of Qui-Gon’s...feelings for the other Master. Even during his years as Dooku’s Padawan, Qui-Gon was never far from her side.
“Ah, Master Dooku!” Tahl greeted, sightless eyes staring right through him. “Please, come in.”
Dooku nodded and compiled, fully entering the room. “Thank you, Master Tahl. You are looking well.”
“I wouldn’t know about that, would I?” Tahl said smilingly. “Thank you for coming to my aid, Master Dooku. You and young Kenobi here came just in time. I was glad to hear you managed to settle the matter.”
“Yes. The Melida and Daan finally relented and came to an agreement,” Dooku informed her, pointedly ignoring Qui-Gon. He was still frosty about the Bandomeer incident.
“How long until they let you out?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Oh, another two weeks or so,” Tahl sighed good-naturedly. “Master Che would hunt me down if I escaped before then.”
Both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon laughed at that. It seemed they both shared the same opinion of the Halls of Healing.
“I will not disturb you any longer, Tahl,” Dooku said with a slight bow. “You may stay as long as you wish, Obi-Wan. I will be down in the Archives.”
“Okay,” Obi-Wan replied.
Dooku turned to leave, but a word from Qui-Gon stopped him.
He turned back.
“Thank you,” Qui-Gon finished lamely.
Dooku nodded once, and left.
Komari Vosa let out a howl of rage and threw a lamp against the wall.
Dooku had cast her aside. After such a stinging betrayal, it was no surprise that she had failed her Trials. Turned away from the Jedi Temple in shame, Komari had fled to the Undercity of Coruscant where the only work she could find was as a hired mercenary.
It was all his fault! That stupid youngling! If he had stayed on Bandomeer like he was supposed to, none of this would have happened.
A glass flower vase smashed against the wall next to where the lamp had met its fate.
If there had been anyone around to see her just then, they would have noticed her eyes flicker golden for the briefest moment.
“I see you’re in the same predicament that I am.”
Komari whirled on the voice, blue lightsaber snapping to life in her hands.
“Who’s there?” she demanded.
A low chuckle filled the darkened room.
“Why, Komari, have you forgotten me already?”
She snarled, readying her stance for battle. “DuCrion.”
He stepped into the light of her lightsaber.
“Hello, Vosa,” he grinned, yellow eyes burning with manic light. “Did you miss me?”
Jango, along with some other Mandalorians knew that Mara had a son at one point. They all just assumed that Obi-Wan had died when he was a baby. At this point, only Jaster knows the truth.
Jaster is still alive because the disaster on Korda 6 was diverted. Jango and Mara found out about Montross' planned betrayal, and killed him before he could get Jaster killed.
I'm keeping Mara's background mysterious on purpose, so feel free to come up with your own headcanons.
Chapter 4: Sun Is Cold, and Rain Is Hard
Sorry for the delay. Enjoy this triple-length chapter!
There is a gap of six months between last chapter and this one.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the controlling interest in my Funko-Pop collection
In two different parts of the galaxy, two different humans woke suddenly from the same nightmare.
Darkness...fire...the Jedi Temple was burning...yellow eyes and red sabers...a great cheer, and a silent cry...mad green eyes fly open, and someone screams.
Obi-Wan’s screams alerted Dooku. He was out of bed, lightsaber in hand before he could think.
The door to Kenobi’s room was open, and Dooku pushed in, ready to fight off any assailant. But no one is there.
Obi-Wan thrashed in his bed, mouth open in a silent scream. Dooku tucked his lightsaber away, and sat on Obi-Wan’s bed, grabbing the boy’s flailing arms.
“Kenobi,” Dooku said quietly but firmly. “Obi-Wan, wake up.”
The boy finally slowed his thrashing. His arms dropped to his sides, and his eyes drifted open.
“Master Yan?” The question came out as more of a sob.
For the first time in far too long, Yan found himself being held in a tight hug.
“It’s alright, Obi-Wan,” Yan said gently. He rubbed small circles over the boy’s back. “Take a deep breath.”
“It was horrible,” Obi-Wan sobbed. “The--the Temple was on fire...a-and the darkness--it was covering everything.”
Dooku frowned, and let himself hug Obi-Wan in return. The boy had had a vision of sorts-and not a pleasant one. Perhaps a conversation with Sifo-Dyas was in order.
“It was a vision, Obi-Wan. Relax and let it fade.”
It was something he’d often said to his good friend after a particularly nasty episode. It seemed to work. Obi-Wan took a few shuddering breaths, calming himself in the Force.
“Master, will all that really happen?” he asked with wide eyes.
Visions and nightmares were beyond Dooku’s knowledge, but he had to comfort the boy somehow.
“Perhaps it will, perhaps it won’t. Force visions are difficult for even the greatest Master to decipher,” Dooku said gently. “But there is no good in worrying about what might never come to pass. Try and get some sleep.”
Obi-Wan nodded wordlessly, and relaxed further. They stayed that way for a while longer, simply letting the Force settle around them.
First thing in the morning, Dooku determined. I will take him to see Sifo-Dyas.
Mara Miraal sat bolt-upright.
The darkness of early morning on Concord Dawn welcomed her back into consciousness. Half a dozen figures around her shifted in their sleep, turning over at her sudden shout.
Something was wrong. Something was terribly, terribly wrong. Obi-Wan was in danger. And the rest of the Jedi might be in trouble too, but that was less important.
Mara grabbed her kit and buy’ce, and headed for Jaster’s tent.
Jedi Council be hanged--she was going to Coruscant.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn poured a cup of oolong tea. It was his favorite blend, and more importantly, his guest liked it too. He poured another cup, and handed the steaming hot beverage to Master Tahl.
“How is your Padawan?” he asked conversationally.
“Bant is doing quite well, thank you,” Tahl smiled. “And what about you? Has Master Yoda convinced you to take a Padawan?”
Qui-Gon huffed. “No. And he won’t succeed either. After Xanatos…”
He trailed off, lost in memories and regret. A warm hand covered his, and he looked up into Tahl’s warmly sympathetic smile.
“If your heart breaks, does that mean you will never love again?” she asked.
“Of course not,” Qui-Gon countered quickly. He held her hands tightly in his. “Love is an unlimited substance. But to take another apprentice… If I failed again, I’m not sure how I could bear it.”
“You may have failed Xanatos, Qui-Gon, but he failed you first,” she pointed out. “Didn’t your own Master swear to never train another Initiate after you and Rael?”
Qui-Gon chuckled. “And see where that got him?”
“Well, none of his students have exactly turned out normal,” Tahl agreed. She gave an exaggerated sigh. “We can only hope Obi-Wan still has a chance.”
“Hey!” Qui-Gon protested lightly.
Tahl’s responding laugh was warm and musical. Qui-Gon grinned at her. Then, too soon, it was over.
“Would you like to have dinner with me tonight, Tahl?” he asked, already knowing that she would say yes.
But, surprisingly, Tahl sighed. “I’m afraid I can’t tonight. Padawan Kenobi asked me to show him how to cheat at sabacc.”
Qui-Gon stared at her, then as he realized what she was doing, he smiled. “Obi-Wan asked you no such thing!”
“Nevertheless, it is what I intend to teach him,” Tahl said, standing. He stood to join her. “Thank you for the tea, Qui-Gon. It was lovely.”
She turned to leave, but Qui-Gon didn’t release her hand. Tahl smiled, and turned back to wrap her arms around him. Qui-Gon let his eyes drift close, breathing in her scent. She really did give the best hugs.
Tahl broke the hug first, leaning back to place a gentle peck on Qui-Gon’s cheek.
She walked all the way to the door before Qui-Gon called after her.
“Good luck teaching Obi-Wan without your rigged deck!”
She whirled on him, reaching into her robes for a worn sabacc deck that was no longer there.
“Jokes on you, Jinn,” she grinned back. “I don’t need a marked deck to win anymore.”
Qui-Gon laughed as she slammed the door behind her.
It had been half a year since she’d set foot in the Jedi Temple, and over three months since she’d been out of the Mandalore System. Obi-Wan still commed when he got the chance, and Mara was always glad to hear how he was doing. Dooku commed once in a while as well, more often than not to complain about politics.
But as much as she wanted to see Obi-Wan again, the massive buildings and endless duracrete of Coruscant were far from a welcome sight.
The dreaded Jedi Temple loomed in the distance, and Mara opened her ship’s comm system.
“Assault ship Devil’s Sympathy, requesting permission to land at the Jedi Temple.”
“ Devil’s Sympathy, this is control tower three. State your name and cargo.”
Oh well, here went nothing.
“Colonel Mara Miraal. I have some sensitive information for the Jedi Council.”
Static echoed over the comm.
“ What is the nature of this information?” a different voice questioned.
“Rumors of a possible attack,” Mara answered vaguely. “I’m afraid I can’t say more than that over this frequency.”
More static filled the silence. Finally, after a long moment, someone answered.
“ Land on Deck 4. Someone will be there to meet you.”
“Much obliged,” Mara muttered, and switched off the comm.
She was not looking forward to seeing the Council again. Although, the look on Mace Windu’s face might be well worth it.
Having a solid plan was always the first step of revenge. Planning for every eventuality or mishap was paramount in such things. There were countless things and details to be taken into account. There were certain protocols that had to be followed.
But sometimes, he admitted to himself, you just have to go with the flow.
Ex-Padawans Xanatos DuCrion and Komari Vosa crept towards the place they once called home. The word, as well as the place, was no more than a bitter joke to him now. But home wasn’t on his mind at the present--revenge was. Revenge against three very specific Jedi.
Yan Dooku, Qui-Gon Jinn, and that meddlesome boy, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Komari, though a full five years Xanatos’ senior, preferred to launch herself, lightsaber lit, at a problem instead of thinking things through--which was a problem for Xanatos.
“Would you please be still!” he snapped. “They could hear you from a mile away!”
“Excuse me for being excited,” she snarled back. “We’re breaking into the Temple to kidnap a blind Master and an annoying Padawan.”
“You make it sound so easy,” Xanatos grumbled. Perhaps suggesting that they work together hadn’t been such a good idea. Vosa was entirely too volatile at times.
The two managed to get into position without another sound.
Both knew that killing Kenobi and Tahl would break their respective ex-Masters. Xanatos’ eyes lit up at the prospect. Seeing Qui-Gon Jinn sobbing at his feet would be the best feeling in the galaxy. His former Master would beg him for death before the end.
Masters Sifo-Dyas, Mace Windu, Yoda, Yarel Poof, and Orriss Massa were in the Council room when the message came through.
“What can she mean by this?” Orriss Massa demanded. “The nerve of her!”
“Is it a threat, a warning, or a promise, you mean?” Sifo-Dyas asked, to several nods of agreement.
“As far as we know, Padawan Kenobi has had no contact with Warrior Miraal, correct?” Yarel Poof asked.
“As far as we know,” Orriss Massa grumbled. “The woman is a Mandalorian--crafty and manipulative like the rest of her kind.”
“That is an uncharitable view,” Sifo-Dyas countered. “Colonel Miraal has offered us no threats. She is by far the most reasonable Mandalorian I have dealt with.”
“Saying much, that is not,” Yoda chuckled.
“That does not answer the question of what she means by ‘rumors of an attack’,” Mace interjected.
Sifo-Dyas shrugged. “Why don’t we ask her?”
Obi-Wan had felt uneasy all day because of that stupid vision. Talking about it to Master Sifo-Dyas had helped some, but it did nothing to stop the feeling at the back of his neck--as if someone was watching him.
Obi-Wan glanced up right before he walked straight into Quinlan Vos. The teenager swayed on his feet, but remained upright.
“Hey, watch it, Kenobi,” Quinlan said with a concerned smile. “You alright?”
Obi-Wan nodded as Garen and Siri ran up to him.
“Didn’t you hear me yelling, nerf-brains?” Siri demanded.
“No, I was...thinking about something else,” Obi-Wan replied, glancing up at the taller teenager. “Sorry, Quinlan.”
“That’s alright, Kenobi.” Quinlan shrugged it off. “Keep your head on during the sabacc championship, huh?”
Obi-Wan shook his head, clearing the last of the uneasy feeling away. “I’ll try my best.”
“Don’t worry, Vos,” Garen grinned. “He’ll clean you out easy enough.”
Quinlan laughed. “Keep your credits where your mouth is, Muln.”
“Might as well. He’s not using it for anything better,” Siri quipped, then immediately blushed as she realized what she’d said.
Quinlan laughed louder, gripping his sides. Garen coughed awkwardly, but managed a small chuckle.
“Quinlan, are you sure your Master won’t mind you playing sabacc with us?” Garen asked.
“Nah. Tholme doesn’t much care what I do, as long as I do it quietly.”
“He must be disappointed in you, then,” Siri groused. “A nest of gundarks in a library would be quieter than you.”
Quinlan slung his arms over Siri and Garen’s shoulders, to Siri’s grimace of displeasure. “And yet I still manage to sneak up on you every time, Tachi.”
Quinlan led them towards Obi-Wan and Master Yan’s rooms, Obi-Wan trailing behind.
Master Yan had given them the go-ahead to have the championship in their rooms, as long as there was another mature person present. Obi-Wan wasn’t entirely sure Master Tahl counted as a mature person, but it would be fun at any rate.
His merry band of friends turned the last corner to the hallway of the Master/Padawan rooms.
A small sound echoed from down the hallway. Obi-Wan stopped suddenly, frowning. There usually wasn’t anyone walking around the dorms in the middle of the afternoon.
“Hello?” he called.
The sound came again, stronger. He cautiously stepped down the hall.
Danger! The Force screamed at him.
Obi-Wan spun around, hand dropping to his saber.
He came face to face with a familiar pair of green eyes.
The face grinned at him, then everything went black.
She hated it here. And yet, it felt familiar--like a place in a bad dream.
Mara strolled through the Jedi Temple, escorted by Knight Plo Koon. The feeling of being watched prickled at the base of her skull, like it always did when she entered the Temple.
Knight Koon led her towards the Council room. She hadn’t quite figured out what she was going to tell the Circle of Fools. She didn’t even know where to begin to explain to them that she’d had a Force vision--not when they didn’t even know that she was Force-sensitive. Much less...whatever she was anymore.
They rounded a corner, and the Force attacked her.
She doubled over, gripping her knees for support.
She shoved the pain away, and took off into a sprint, following Obi-Wan’s cry through the Force. The Knight shouted after her, but she ignored him.
Please don’t let me be too late. Please...not again.
Dooku felt a panicked pull at his bond with Obi-Wan. Then, the bond fell silent.
He was racing through the Temple, lightsaber drawn before he could think.
Jedi Master Tahl woke up screaming.
Her arm was on fire, and something sharp was cutting a line down her neck.
Her eyesight may be gone, but she could still read through the Force. There were others in the room with her--three others. Two were like looking into the void of space, but the other…
“Obi-Wan?” she gasped through the pain.
“Shh!” a voice hissed harshly. This presence felt familiar, too--but wrong, somehow. She couldn’t quite place it.
“Master Tahl, are you alright?” Obi-Wan’s voice answered, undeterred.
She heard one of the others growl, and then a sharp yelp came from Obi-Wan. Whoever held them captive, apparently had no trouble with hurting a young boy.
Tahl responded with a growl of her own. “Leave him alone!”
“Or what, Tahl?” the second voice asked giddily.It was a female voice. “What will you do to stop me?”
Obi-Wan cried out again, and Tahl pulled viciously against her restraints. It was no good. The chains were too strong to break, and something Dark was hindering her ability to grasp the Force. That same something seemed to be strengthening their captors.
“Having fun yet?” the second voice asked.
“Barely begun,” replied the first voice, still strangely familiar.
A fierce punch landed across her chin. Tahl felt something snap in her jaw.
“It’s okay, Master Tahl,” Obi-Wan coughed. “Someone will find us.”
The familiar voice chuckled. “Indeed they will. Though, I haven’t decided where yet. Suggestions, Vosa?”
“I was thinking the obelisk in the gardens,” the woman replied gleefully. “That is, if there’s enough left to properly decorate with.”
“Fair point,” agreed the first.
Tahl froze as the presence finally clicked into her mind. She knew why he felt so familiar!
“Xanatos, why are you doing this?” she asked calmly.
The young man she now knew was Xanatos struck her again.
“You know why,” he hissed.” The whole damned Temple knows why, Tahl. For my father.”
A lightsaber burned a trail down her stomach, and Tahl screamed. She prayed to the Force with all her might that someone would find them soon.
Quinlan Vos knew something was up when Obi-Wan didn’t show up to the sabacc tournament. None of the other half-dozen Initiates and Padawans had noticed anything yet, so Quinlan carefully snuck off, leaving his winnings in the capable hands of Siri Tachi.
He walked aimlessly through the Temple, trying to find Obi-Wan in the Force. No good. Kenobi just wasn’t there . He was about to give up and go get the others to help, when something called to him.
Quinlan glanced around, seeing nothing. He walked slowly, waiting for the call to get louder the closer he got to it. He hadn’t really gotten the chance to perfect his psychometry yet, but he knew that when something called to him like this, it was important.
The inaudible call reached a crescendo, and he stopped. There still wasn’t anything around.
Then he saw it.
Quinlan gently picked it up, and was immediately bombarded with a memory that was not his. The memory happened right here, in that very spot. There was fear and pain, and an unfamiliar face. Quinlan hissed in pain as the memory faded.
Obi-Wan was in big trouble. There was an enemy in the Temple.
He clipped Obi-Wan’s saber next to his on his belt, and ran off to find the nearest Master who could help.
He didn’t find anyone who he thought could help for the longest time. They were all too old, or younglings. Finally, he came around a corner and saw Master Koon. Perfect. The Kel Dor would know what to do.
But Master Koon wasn’t the only person standing in the hallway. There was a Mandalorian with him. They were both running.
Quinlan’s hurried pace slowed as he carefully took stock of exactly what was happening.
“Master, what’s going on?” he asked, falling into step beside the two adults.
“Padawan Kenobi is in trouble,” Master Koon replied, voice slightly muffled behind that mask of his.
Quinlan nodded. “Yes, I know. I found his lightsaber in the hallway.”
A few steps ahead of them, the Mandalorian screeched to a halt. Quinlan barely caught himself before he crashed into her back.
“What is it?” Master Koon asked.
The Mandalorian’s expressionless T-visor turned to the left--towards the elevators.
“The cables,” she whispered.
Quinla was about to ask what the kriff was going on, when the distinctive sound of metal breaking pricked at his ears.
The Mando and Master Koon took off towards the elevators, and Quinaln ran after them. The elevator doors slid open, revealing Creche-Master Ali-Alann and a horde of younglings.
“Don’t move!” the Mando shouted.
Master Ali-Alann’s attention snapped to the Mando, and he hurriedly tucked the younglings behind him. The movement was a mistake.
Master Koon and the Mando reached the elevator just as the cable snapped.
The elevator plummeted downward. The younglings screamed.
Reacting on pure instinct, Quinlan threw his hand out. Beside him, Master Koon mirrored his actions, and they both reached for the elevator. In his haste, Quinlan grabbed the Force too roughly. The elevator screeched to a halt, no doubt throwing those inside to the floor.
He grit his teeth and braced his feet. Holding something this heavy with the Force was already taking a lot of strain. Having Master Koon helped, but there was no way they could lift the whole elevator back up to the open doors.
That was when the Mando decided to help. She stepped to the edge of the abyss, and hit something on her vambrace. A cable shot straight up, anchoring itself to something in the top of the elevator shaft. Then the Mando hooked the other end of the cable to her belt, and jumped down into the hole.
Beads of sweat formed on Quinlan’s brow. He couldn’t hold it for much longer.
“Steady your breathing, Padawan,” Master Koon advised, but Quinlan could hear the beginnings of strain in his voice too.
Just when Quinlan was sure he would have to let go, he felt the elevator move. The Force wasn’t pushing the damaged metal crate upwards, something else was.
The top of the elevator came into view, and so did the Mando. She was standing on top of the elevator, and had three younglings in her arms. Master Ali-Alann stood behind the Mando with four more younglings hanging off of him.
“Alright, kids. Ride’s over,” the Mando said cheerfully, stepping off onto solid ground. “Wasn’t that fun?”
The younglings laughed and cheered.
“Go again!” a young Gran shouted.
“Maybe later,” the Mando replied. She set the younglings down, and turned back to take some of the remaining kids from Master Ali-Alann.
Soon, all of them were on level ground again.
“Alright, you can let it go now,” the Mando said.
Quinlan let go of the elevator with a sigh of relief. Master Koon dropped his hands as well.
The sudden release of weight snapped the Mandalorian’s cable, and the elevator dropped again. Seconds later, Quinlan heard an echoing crash.
He winced, and turned to once again ask, “What the kriff is going on?” but as soon as he opened his mouth, he realized Master Koon and the Mando were running again.
Huffing a muttered complaint, Quinlan raced off after them.
Qui-Gon Jinn turned around a corner and collided with a suit of armour.
“Get out of my way. Tahl is in trouble...”
“Shove over, Jinn. Obi-Wan’s hurt…”
They spoke in unison, then stopped when it registered what the other had said.
“You felt it?” Qui-Gon asked, annoyance at seeing the Mandalorian temporarily forgotten.
“Does this place have a basement?” Miraal asked, instead of answering.
Plo Koon ran past them. “This way,” he announced.
Miraal followed after him, Qui-Gon only a half-step behind.
A few seconds later, Quinlan Vos reached the place they had been standing before taking off again. Gasping in lungfuls of air, he slowed to a stop.
“I’ll go get Master Windu,” he called to no one in particular. He let out a few wheezing breaths, and walked back towards the Council room at a much slower pace.
Komari never knew the power the Dark Side offered was like this . It was glorious--truly breathtaking. She felt as if she could do anything, or be anyone she chose.
Her victim’s flesh parted under her fingers with only the slightest touch of the Force. The boy screamed, and Komari smiled. He would regret taking her Master away from her. They would all come to regret it. Her powerful, perfect Master belonged with her, and now that they were equals in strength, they would be unstoppable. He would see that she was now worthy of him.
“Keep the blood over there, Vosa,” Xanatos criticized.
Komari sneered at Xanatos’ weak attempts at torture. Tahl was still entirely coherent, and still trying to talk to him. Pathetic. The would-be Padawan knew nothing of true pain--not like Komari did. Xanatos had potential in the beginning, but the lust for power and revenge had corrupted that potential. Not all were strong enough to fully channel the Dark Side. Whereas Komari had never felt more sure--more alive than when she was swimming in the beautiful, murky depths of sheer power.
Komari didn’t want revenge--not from Dooku. No, she wanted his respect--his love. She wanted him to watch with pride and awe as she slaughtered their enemies and all who would dare oppose them. She would kill little Kenobi, and Yan would see how weak and pathetic the boy really was. Then he would return to her, and ask for her forgiveness for being blind to her power. Everything would be as it should be.
After all, Komari always got what she wanted.
Miraal arrived there ahead of him, already reaching for her weapon. Qui-Gon pulled out his lightsaber as well, and rushed into the dark cave-like structure under the Jedi Temple.
He paused for a brief moment, getting a read on the four Force-sensitives he sensed in the room.
Tahl’s light was bright and undimmed, so was Obi-Wan’s. He felt Komari as well, but her vivacious presence was...different somehow. It took him a second too long to recognize the last presence. His ex-Padawan.
One red and one blue lightsaber blazed to life in the dark room. Qui-Gon lifted his own green blade.
“Let them go, Xanatos,” Qui-Gon ordered.
Miraal didn't waste time with polite requests. She leapt at Komari, a lightsaber activating in her hand with a snap-hiss.
Qui-Gon didn’t have time to be shocked at Miraal’s red blade before Xanatos’ own red saber was coming directly at him. Plo Koon stepped in, blocking the attack.
Xanatos might have the Dark Side at his beck and call, but against two Masters? He didn’t have a chance.
Or at least, that’s what Qui-Gon assumed.
“Aren’t you proud of me yet, Master?” Xanatos sneered as he blocked both Masters’ attacks.
Plo pressed the attack with his favored form--Shien. Qui-Gon changed to Ataru. Blue and green clashed against red, but it was nothing compared to the speed at which Komari and Miraal were going at each other. They were nothing but a storm of vibrant blue and red in the dark room.
Qui-Gon felt a jolt of pain from Tahl, and his attention briefly fixated on her. She was on the verge of unconsciousness, and blood dripped from too many places.
Then he realized he’d made a terrible mistake. In his concern for Tahl, he’d let his defense drop. Xanatos grinned, and Qui-Gon felt a wave of pure Force-energy barrel towards him. He tried to sure his footing, but he wasn’t fast enough. The feeling of weightlessness set in as he flew backwards.
Unable to halt his path, Qui-Gon collided with a rocky wall. Sharp pain exploded through his head, and everything went blurry.
He saw red and blue lights dancing in the distance before everything went black.
“Who is your Master?” Mara growled.
“I could ask you the same, Mando,” Komari snarled.
“Since I asked first, and I seem to have the upper hand here, it’s only polite for you to answer first,” she snarled right back.
The younger woman knew her lightsabers, sure enough, but Mara knew how to read people. The Dark was unusually strong within her, almost to the point of wildness. If Dooku’s ex-Padawan wasn’t careful, it would consume her.
Just when Komari was beginning to delve too deep into her new-found power, Qui-Gon went flying.
The twerp from Bandomeer corralled Knight Koon easily, forcing both of them to join Mara and Komari’s duel.
Koon and Mara fought in tandem, both using Form V against the Fallen Jedi. Mara thought that perhaps she and the Kel Dor might end up on top at the end of this fight. But apparently Xanatos and Komari realized it too.
They deliberately cut their unified attacks apart, forcing them to change opponents. Koon and Komari twisted and sliced at each other.
“The Mando from Bandomeer,” Xanatos growled. “I will enjoy this.”
“Do you never shut up?” Mara questioned.
Suddenly faced with a taller enemy, Mara had to change her defensive style. Hoping Knight Koon was too preoccupied with Komari to notice, she reached for the Force. Not much; just enough to gain an edge. If she didn’t get this wannabe Sith out of the way, Koon would lose against Vosa.
Almost immediately, she felt her movements grow more precise and smooth, the Force lending aid to her muscles. She could feel Xanatos’ frustration and anger beating fiercely through the Force, sullying the energy around them.
It felt wonderful. The Darkness touched at the back of her mind, and she welcomed it in like an old friend.
With her connection to the Force open, she could sense something down here--something unusually dark to be hidden in a Jedi’s basement.
Then, she felt Obi-Wan. The amount of fear and agony rolling off of him, nearly broke Mara’s concentration. Xanatos managed to get his blade under her defense. Luckily, the saber just glanced off her beskar. Mara hardly cared; she was mad.
How dare these Jedi hurt her son.
Rage boiled under her skin. She grit her teeth, and stopped playing defense.
She swung her blade up, purposefully clashing against Xanatos’ saber. Then she aimed a Force-punch at his knee. His knee buckled momentarily, and Mara twisted her saber around his. Xanatos lost his footing in the effort to keep his blade under control. Mara took full advantage of the misstep.
Mara kicked his leg out from under him, and punched him in the face. He dropped his saber. Within seconds, Xanatos had been disarmed.
She caught his blade before it hit the ground, and held both burning beams of red directly at his throat.
Her senses snapped to the cavern’s entrance. She spun around, both blades swinging towards the new threat. A half-dozen Jedi Knights and Masters flooded into the room, sabers drawn and lit.
“That’s my cue to leave,” she heard Komari whisper as the room filled with Jedi.
Komari disappeared down an abysmal tunnel, Koon and a few Knights chased after her.
In a reaction of pure instinct, Mara slammed down her shields, hiding her connection to the Force from view. The habitual action severely muffled her presence, but not before the Force screamed a warning at her.
Xanatos had a viroblade. With her attention split between the Jedi and Komari, Mara hadn’t noticed him slowly getting closer to her.
Pain exploded through her side, and she swung both blades in a parallel motion.
“No!” she heard Qui-Gon yell.
She felt the blades pass through something solid. Adrenaline and pain buzzed in her head as she slowly turned to face the crowd of Jedi before her.
“Lower your weapons!” someone yelled.
The defensive stances of the armed and dangerous Jettise around her set off something in her mind.
They are going to try and finish me off. They want Obi-Wan.
Adrenaline coursing through her veins, Mara raised the twin sabers, and settled into a crouch. If they wanted her son, they would have to go through her first.
Mace Windu didn’t know the meaning of fear. He had always been the bravest of his fellow Initiates and Padawans.
He was the inventor of Vaapad. He walked the line between Light and Dark without flinching. There was not much in this galaxy that scared him.
But the demoness before him, blood-red sabers glinting off of black armour as she removed Xanatos’ head from his shoulders, might have given him pause for a moment.
“Lower your weapons,” he ordered, voice deceptively calm.
Miraal turned on him, eyes going dangerously dark. She raised her sabers and crouched low--a predator ready to pounce.
Mace’s grip tightened on his lightsaber. Master Sifo-Dyas and Yoda lifted their sabers as well.
The growl that came from Miraal’s throat was something less than human.
Then a soft voice--almost a whisper--reached his ears.
“ Buir, don’t.”
It had come from Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan opened his eyes to darkness.
Everything hurt--even his fingers.
Somewhere in front of him, red lights glowed. The world slowly came into focus. He saw Buir kill Xanatos. The man’s head rolled a full ten feet before coming to rest by Obi-Wan’s manacled feet.
Chained to a rock, his arms and legs were going numb. Then he noticed the other Jedi.
Qui-Gon, Master Windu, Master Yoda, Master Sifo-Dyas, and Master Yan! Obi-Wan’s heart leapt. They were here to rescue them!
But his joy quickly fell. Something was wrong. Xanatos was dead, and he didn’t see Komari anywhere, so why was everyone so tense? That’s when he noticed the way Buir was standing in front of him, facing the Jedi, ready to fight.
He knew his mother hated Jedi. They had killed her family, and now they had put Obi-Wan in danger. She would kill them all. Maybe even Master Yan, even though they were almost-friends. They would all die.
“Buir, don’t,” he whispered.
Something changed when he spoke. He felt Buir relax, and she slowly lowered the lightsabers. Relief and exhaustion overtook him. No one else was going to die today. He slumped back against the chains, and let his eyes drift closed. He was really very tired.
“It’s okay, Kenob’ika,” Buir whispered. His chains fell away, but he was too tired to really notice. “It’s over. You can rest now.”
He felt the gentle sway of movement underneath him and he distantly realized that Buir was carrying him. He smiled and leaned his head on her shoulder. Before he knew it, he was asleep.
Yan Dooku didn’t know what to think.
Despite becoming friends with the strange but well-meaning Mandalorian, he’d never in a million years expected this. Her reaction to Obi-Wan being in danger was almost feral in the animal need to protect her son.
Then Obi-Wan whispered, and it was over. Mara was herself again as she gently released his Padawan from his bonds. With all the care of a mother, she gingerly lifted him into her arms and faced the gathering.
“Mara,” he began carefully. “We need to take him and Tahl to the healers.”
Obi-Wan was asleep, he knew, as Mara ran her fingers through his matted and bloody hair. For a moment, it didn’t appear as though she’d heard him. Then she nodded.
Dooku sighed in relief, and allowed himself to survey the rest of the room. Qui-Gon, useless man that he was, stay sat on the floor, staring at his fallen apprentice with his mouth open in shock.
Xanatos’ body lay in two pieces--the result of Mara’s rage. Yan found it difficult to work up much sympathy or sorrow for the boy that was once his Grand-Padawan. Komari had most likely gotten away. Perhaps all this mess had taught her a lesson.
None of the other Masters relaxed as Mara walked closer, carrying a slumbering Kenobi in her arms.
“Lead the way, Yan.” She sounded so tired, as if she had just lost a fight rather than winning one.
Dooku nodded wordlessly, and walked from the room, knowing Mara would follow him. Qui-Gon and Sifo-Dyas stayed behind to help Tahl, but Mace and Yoda trailed behind Mara all the way to the Halls of Healing. They both stayed alert, ready for another row, but they did not see what Dooku saw.
Mara Miraal had lost control, and was already blaming herself for it.
Mace stayed tense all the way to Master Che’s domain.
He expected Miraal to outright refuse to hand her son over to the healers--to snarl and fight. He did not expect her to simply lay her son gently on the bed and step back to let Master Che scan him.
“He has multiple lacerations to his upper body and arms, two broken ribs, and a possible concussion,” Miraal stated before Vokara could say a word.
The Chief Healer glanced at Miraal in surprise, then nodded. “Yes, that does seem to be the case.” Vokara turned on Yoda. “Would one of you kindly explain to me why this Padawan has received such serious injuries?”
“Padawan Kenobi and Master Tahl were attacked by Xanatos DuCrion and Komari Vosa,” Master Dooku stated in that straight-forward manner of his.
Vokara blinked. “Have they been caught?”
“Dead, DuCrion is,” Yoda perked up. “Escaped, Vosa has.”
Miraal’s flinch didn’t escape Mace’s notice.
The healer nodded roughly, and got back to attending Obi-Wan.
Mace subtly studied Miraal’s weak Force presence. Though her grasp of the Force was severely limited, her shields were a veritable fortress. Not a single thought or emotion slipped through. Miraal was a blank slate.
Yoda whacked his shin, bringing tears to Mace’s eyes. He glared down at the green troll.
“Your mind, wandering, it was,” his Master said innocently.
Vokara turned to glare at all of them. “If you don’t mind, Masters. There are far too many needless people in this room right now.”
Knowing too well the extent of Master Che’s rage at anyone who got in the way of her job, Mace cleared his throat.
“Colonel Miraal, Obi-Wan will be safe here.”
“Hmm, yes. Safe, he will be. Answer our questions you will,” Yoda hummed.
Miraal reached out to squeeze Obi-Wan’s hand, and gave no indication that she heard them.
“Mara,” Dooku said.
She released her son’s hand.
“Ask your questions,” Miraal said flatly.
“Not here,” Vokara broke in. “This is no place for an interrogation. I have asked you once before: Please leave or I will get the Temple Guards.”
Successfully threatened, Miraal and the Masters filed out into the hall. Mace led the silent procession to the Council room.
He had not the first clue as to what answers Miraal would give the Council. But whatever answers they were, they were almost guaranteed to be interesting.
“Who are you?”
“Mara Dredan Miraal--Colonel with the Haat Mando’ade.”
“Why did you come to the Jedi Temple today? Did you know about the attack?”
Her eyes snapped to Master Poof.
“No,” she said firmly. “I just knew that Obi-Wan was in trouble.”
“Sense this through the Force, did you?”
Miraal took a moment to respond. “I had a dream last night. It felt...real.”
“A vision?” Master Oppo Rancisis asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
The Council members glanced at each other.
“How is it you came to wield lightsabers so skillfully?” Sifo-Dyas asked, genuinely curious.
“And how did you come to own lightsabers at all?” Orris Massa asked suspiciously. “Much less ones of that color.”
“The colors mean nothing to me,” Miraal replied easily. “I found mine in a junk shop on Corellia some years ago. I took the other one from Jinn’s ex-Padawan.”
“The one you killed,” Massa clarified.
Another significant look passed between the Council. Xanatos had been one of the Order’s prodigies.
“Your shields are impressive,” Mace stated. It wasn’t quite a compliment.
“They have to be, in my line of work. Breaking into people’s minds is a favorite tactic of some of the higher-up scum.”
So far, her answers had been concise and to the point. But they left much for further questioning.
“You’ve lost control before,” Sifo-Dyas said, not unkindly.
She raised an eyebrow at him. “My people are at war. It’s not exactly a relaxing vacation.”
“No, it’s not,” Mace allowed. “But no matter what your experience or training is, you cut down a man in cold blood.”
“How can we trust you after this? How can we allow you to continue walking around?” Massa demanded. “You are a very dangerous woman, Colonel. And a murderer.”
Mace felt only a prickle of annoyance from Miraal.
Not for the first time, Mace wished certain Council members would learn to keep their mouths shut.
“Trust is a fickle thing, Master Jedi; easily made, easily broken. And once broken, can never be repaired. Call me a bloodthirsty killer if you want. The opinions of this Council mean squat to me. Just don’t punish my son for my actions.”
Master Massa openly gaped at Miraal, and Mace hid a smirk. That was when something red caught his attention.
A drop of blood dripped down from the corner of Miraal’s armour, and his gaze followed it down where it joined a small puddle of matching blood on the Councilroom floor.
The last time he checked, lightsaber wounds did not bleed.
“You’re injured,” he stated.
Miraal and the other Council members glanced at the growing splotch of red.
“DuCrion stabbed me with a viroblade. It must have cut deeper than I thought.”
The amount of disinterest in her tone floored Mace.
So Xantos hadn’t been unarmed. She had acted in self-defense, and the defense of her son. That put a new light on things.
Before Mace could say something to that effect, Yoda spoke up.
“Punish Kenobi for your actions, we will not. But belong in this Temple, you do not.” Miraal said nothing, and Yoda continued. “Contact your son, you will not. A danger, you are to him.”
A flash of anger spiked from Miraal. Her jaw clenched.
“I assume I will be allowed to say goodbye?”
Yoda nodded. “Say farewell, you may.”
Once again, Miraal did not bow as she replaced her helmet on her head and strolled out of the Councilroom.
Obi-Wan didn’t understand.
Master Yan had explained everything, and he’d understood it all--up to the end.
“What do you mean she can’t comm me anymore?”
Master Tahl replied from the adjacent bed. “Your mother is a dangerous woman, Obi-Wan. It doesn't make her a bad person, but her life is not yours. The Council and Mara don’t want you to get hurt.”
“But she’s my Buir!” he protested. “She would never hurt me!”
“She would never mean to,” Qui-Gon said tiredly. “But accidents and bad situations happen.”
“Exactly right,” a voice spoke from the doorway.
Buir walked into the room, and Obi-Wan felt Qui-Gon stiffen.
“Buir, you aren’t really going to leave me again, are you?” Obi-Wan knew it was a low blow, but she couldn’t just leave! Not when he finally had people who wanted him around.
He expected Buir to break and say ‘ of course she wasn’t leaving ’, but she simply gave him a disappointed kind of smile.
“What have I told you about trying to manipulate people?” she asked.
Obi-Wan dropped his head. “Tooka eyes win, but whining loses.”
Buir nodded. “Keep that in mind. And what’s the most important thing to have in a bad situation?”
Obi-Wan thought hard, remembering what she’d told him.
“A smile, confidence, and three backup plans?”
“Wise words indeed,” Master Yan said. “You don’t need a weapon or power to win control of any circumstance.”
“I heartily agree,” Master Tahl smiled. “Which is something I never thought I would do with a Mandalorian.”
“The Mando’ade have many such wisdoms, if anyone would bother to listen,” Buir pointed out.
Obi-Wan’s heart hurt. He didn’t want her to go. He knew he would be able to find her in the Force, but it wasn’t the same.
“I never thought I would say this,” Qui-Gon began suddenly. “But I might actually miss you, Mando.”
“You too, Jetti.” Buir nodded at Qui-Gon, then at Master Yan. “Yan, you’ve taught me a lot about your kind, and even though I still don’t like or trust the Jedi, I will admit that some of you aren’t as bad as the rest.”
Master Yan ducked his head, hiding a smile. Obi-Wan’s mouth dropped open. Master Yan was...blushing!
Then Buir was looking at him.
“Stay away from politics, and never trust a businessman. Remember the stories I’ve told you.”
His eyes welled up. This really was goodbye.
That did it. Now she was crying too. Buir bent to hug him, and Obi-Wan didn’t even care about the pain in his chest from the motion. She whispered something in Mando’a in his ear, and Obi-Wan had to struggle to keep the surprise off his face.
Then she released him.
“Ret’urcye mhi, ad’ika,” she whispered.
With a last nod at Dooku, she left. His Buir was well and truly gone.
But her last whisper nearly made him smile.
“ Keep the comm I gave you. I’ll always answer.”
He knew his Buir wouldn’t abandon him--Jedi Council or no. He would comm her the first chance he got.
Only Master Yan seemed to notice his hidden relief, but there was nothing but vague amusement in his Master’s aura.
Obi-Wan hid a grin, and settled back into his pillows.
Having a Mandalorian mom really was the coolest thing ever.
Quinlan hauled himself back to the still on-going sabacc championship. His legs were sore from running, and his head ached from the amount of strength it had taken to keep that elevator from falling.
He pushed open the door, and stumbled into the room. Seven other Padawans and Initiates still sat around the table, sabacc cards and piles of money and various objects covering the surface.
Siri Tachi sat at the head of the table with the biggest pile of stuff in front of her. She beamed at him as he entered.
“Hello, Quinlan,” she said sweetly. “Since I’ve more than doubled your winnings for you, I’ve figured out that you owe me,” she pulled out a notebook and flipped through it. “Seventy-three credits, plus interest. Would you like to pay me now, or later?”
Quinlan narrowed his eyes at the welp, and slid into his abandoned chair across from her.
“Put it in the book, and deal me in.”
Chapter 5: ‘Til Forever, On It Goes
Sorry for the wait, guys. Hopefully I'll have another one up soon.
Disclaimer: Darth Bane was an idiot.
“Su cuy’gar, Buir,” Obi-Wan said slowly, practicing his pronunciation.
“Ob’ika!” Buir returned happily. Obi-Wan grinned. “ How are things?”
Obi-Wan stretched his legs, shifting the comm in his hand. “Things are great. Master Yan and I are on a mission right now, but all the important people are in a meeting.”
According to Master Yan, Obi-Wan had to be the one to comm Buir from now on. Master Yan had said Council’s orders were...vague about the nature of what ‘do not contact’ meant. And Obi-Wan couldn’t tell Master Yan when he commed Buir. Plausible deniability, he’d called it.
Master Yan knew all kinds of ways to find the loopholes in agreements and contracts. It was part of the reason the Council sent him and Obi-Wan on the most diplomatic missions. He also knew how to insult someone to their face without them noticing, which had been one of Obi-Wan’s favorite things to learn.
“ How are you doing in your studies?” Buir asked, cutting into his trail of thought.
“I’m doing mostly okay, except for History of the Force. It’s hard to pay attention to Master Kru,” Obi-Wan admitted, then grinned when he remembered something. “Garen fell asleep during Master Sifo-Dyas’ lecture on the Living Force last week. Bant poked him to wake him up, and he ended up knocking over almost every chair in the room.”
Buir laughed loudly. “ That sounds like Muln, alright. How’s Yan doing?”
“Master Yan is doing well. He’s teaching me Makashi and Soresu, and I think I’m getting pretty good at it.”
“ Tell him that Djem-So and Jar’Kai would suit you better.”
Obi-Wan smiled. Since her ability to use lightsabers became common knowledge, Buir and Master Yan had had several conversations about which form was truly superior.
“I’ll be sure to tell him.”
“ You’d better. How are Sifo-Dyas and Tahl doing?”
Obi-Wan thought about his Buir’s only other two friends in the Order. “Master Sifo-Dyas is always coming over to talk about politics. I think his visions have been getting worse lately. He’s been talking about resigning from the Council, but I don’t think he will. He’s too stubborn.”
“ Sounds like someone I know,” Buir said. “ And Tahl?”
“Is doing much better. She and Qui-Gon are always together now. Either the Council doesn’t notice, or they don’t care.”
“ I’m betting on the not noticing option,” Buir said with a hint of bitterness.
“Aren’t you going to ask how Qui-Gon is?” Obi-Wan asked with a smirk, already knowing his Buir’s answer.
“ The day I ask how that incompetent besom is, is the day I rule Mandalore,” Buir retorted.
The door to the councilroom swung open, and Obi-Wan hurriedly jumped to his feet. The ambassadors stepped out, followed by Master Yan.
“Sorry, Buir. I’ve gotta go,” he said quickly, and tucked his comm back into his robes. He strolled up to the somber procession.
“If the Jedi will not help, we must seek other means of protecting our people,” the Yam’rii ambassador chittered angrily. “The Kaleesh are vermin that need to be stopped!”
The ambassador’s aide laid a sympathetic hand on the ambassador’s arm. “We will find another way, my lord.”
Obi-Wan repressed a shiver. He knew he should care about all species equally, but there was something about the insectoid Yam’rii that set him on edge.
The Senate delegate, a Nemoidian named Bode, not-so-subtly glared at Master Yan.
“I am certain we can come to some sort of arrangement that will be beneficial to all parties involved,” Bode interjected. “If you would but listen, Master Jedi.”
“I wish you and your people the best,” Master Yan said sincerely, bypassing the delegate completely and speaking directly to the ambassador. “But I’m afraid it is quite impossible for the Jedi to assist you in this matter. We are not an army.”
The ambassador fixed Master Yan with a steely gaze. “There was a time when the Jedi ruled the Republic, Master Dooku. Your army was the greatest in the galaxy.”
“Those days are long behind us, thankfully,” was Master Yan’s reply. “If my Padawan and I can be of no further help to you, Ambassador, we will be heading back to Coruscant.”
“Wait,” the ambassador protested. “You must at least stay and dine with us.”
Obi-Wan glanced at Master Yan. He was getting hungry.
“Very well,” Master Yan allowed. “But we cannot delay. I am sure you understand, ambassador.”
“Of course, Master Dooku,” he clicked stiffly. “We wouldn’t want to detain you.”
The aide led them to a massive dining room. Yam’rii servants bustled around, getting everything ready for the meal.
The ambassador took the head of the table, and the ambassador’s wife, Hyim, sat at the other end. Master Yan sat across from Bode and Bode immediately began to glare in retaliation. Obi-Wan hid a smirk at the Nemoidian’s antics. Not for the first time Obi-Wan wondered why the delegate was here at all--why any of them were there. Huk wasn’t technically in the Republic at all.
“Thank you for allowing us to stay for dinner, My Lady” Master Yan said pleasantly.
Hyim smiled demurely. “We couldn’t let you go away hungry, Master Jedi--especially not with a growing little one.”
Obi-Wan would have thought of something to say about being called a little one, but his trail of thought dissolved when a platter of food was set in front of him.
He stared at the prominent centerpiece perched on his plate. He didn’t like looking at it. There was something...not right about it.
He tried to get Master Yan’s attention. Maybe he knew what it was, and how you were supposed to eat it. After a moment of fruitless attempts, Master Yan met his gaze.
“What is it, Padawan?”
But now, the entire table was looking at him. Bode frowned at him disapprovingly.
Obi-Wan went red in the face. “Umm. I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but what is this?” he pointed at the large brownish egg sitting on his plate.
“It is a delicacy to our people,” the Yam’rii ambassador replied.
“It’s most delicious,” Hyim added.
Obi-Wan glanced at Master Yan again. “Yes. But what is it?”
“ Hu’rama , young Jedi. A fresh egg, normally served in a simple sauce or syrup.”
“What kind of egg?” Obi-Wan persisted.
None of the Yam’rii answered. Bode was glaring at him full-force now. Master Yan frowned and inspected the egg closer.
Obi-Wan gently poked it, and his eyes flew wide. Faint signs of life brushed through the Force, coming from the egg. There was something still alive in there!
Apparently, Master Yan had felt the same thing.
“What manner of creature is this?” Master Yan asked the Yam’rii nonchalantly.
The ambassador’s wife looked at Master Yan dead-on. Obi-Wan’s gut twisted, already knowing the answer.
“They are Kaleesh eggs,” she replied flatly.
Obi-Wan’s mouth dropped open in horror. Before he could think it through, he had the egg cradled to his chest, shielding it with his arms.
“The barbaric practice of consumption of another species was not mentioned in your report, Ambassador,” Master Yan said sternly.
Obi-Wan could tell he was close to losing his temper.
“It is a tradition among our peoples,” the ambassador protested.
“After all, it is not our place to condemn the social traditions of other species,” the Nemoidian began, but Master Yan cut him off.
“Perhaps you would like to reinstate your people’s ancient practice of drowning children with sup-par intelligence, Senator Bode,” Master Yan snapped.
The ground shook.
An explosion rocked the building.
“The Kaleesh,” the ambassador whispered, going pale.
Master Yan reached for his saber, and Obi-Wan followed suit.
“We must defend our people!” the aide exclaimed. He shot to his feet and raced for the door.
“Padawan, stay here with the others!” Master Yan ordered, already taking off after the aide.
“Yes, Master!” Obi-Wan yelled, but Master Yan was already out of sight. He grumbled to himself about being left on guard-duty...again. He turned to the ambassador and put on his best ‘Master Yan voice. “Sir, we have to get you to a safer location. Is there a secure room nearby?”
“Yes. There is a room under the palace. But it is all hopeless,” the Yam’rii ambassador chittered nervously. “The Kaleesh are mighty and merciless warriors. I doubt you, or any other Jedi would be able to stop them.”
“Contact your Jedi Council and demand reinforcements!” Bode half-shrieked as another explosion hit somewhere nearby.
Obi-Wan refrained from rolling his eyes in disgust. He bit down on his tongue to keep from saying something...ill-advised. “If you wouldn’t mind leading the way, Ambassador? Master Yan will talk to the Kaleesh. Maybe we can settle this without bloodshed.”
The ambassador shook his head mournfully. “They will kill us all, unless we have help.”
Hyim scoffed at her husband, and strolled off without a word. The ambassador and Bode quickly followed her. Obi-Wan grit his teeth and raced to keep up with them. The Yam’rii’s legs were a lot longer than his, and Bode was already sprinting past them.
Obi-Wan kept his saber in his hand, and frowned. He knew he should probably comm the Jedi Council, but would it really be the best decision? How would they react? Would they refuse to help, or worse, would they send reinforcements? Obi-Wan had faith in his Master’s ability to talk around a fight, but would the Kaleesh listen?
No. They wouldn’t.
Obi-Wan halted in his tracks, and began running the other way.
The ambassador and the others would be fine in the safe-room. Obi-Wan needed to do something more important.
He raced back to the dining table on which sat the other eggs. Being as careful as he could, Obi-Wan began stuffing the eggs into his robes alongside the first. He had to get them back to their families as fast as he could. It might be the only thing to stop the Kaleesh from killing them all.
Yan Dooku faced the growing mob outside the palace. He had never seen such creatures before. The Kaleesh were virtually unknown to the galaxy at large. Their species had not been observed to the extent that others had.
He just hadn’t expected them to be this tall.
“I am Jedi Master Yan Dooku. What is your purpose here?” Dooku called, lightsaber gripped, unlit, in his hand.
None of the towering Kaleesh replied. Dooku was beginning to get frustrated. The ambassador had talked for a straight hour, and hadn’t mentioned a single thing about why the Yam’rii and Kaleesh hated each other so much. It was no wonder that the Kaleesh hated them; they ate their children!
“What is your purpose here?” he called again.
Finally, one of them answered. The foremost figure stepped forward. Like most of the other Kaleesh, this one wore a fearsome mask of bone. Yellow eyes peered out from behind the mask, and in its hand was clutched a mighty spear.
“I am Ronderu Lij Kummar.” Yan tentatively identified the figure as female. Her voice was rough and deep. “Our purpose is to rid Huk from planet.”
Beside Dooku, the aide trembled. Huk was another name for the Yam’rii--a less dignified name.
“I know of the Yam’rii’s treachery against your people,” Dooku said calmly. “They are guilty of murder in the eyes of the Jedi and the Republic.”
“You will punish them?” Lij Kummar asked with narrowed eyes. “We know of Jedi. They fight for Republic. Republic send you here to kill Kaleesh.”
Yan shook his head. “No. We were sent to help the Yam’rii, but that is no longer our initiative. While it is not my place to pass judgement on the Yam’rii, I cannot condone their actions against you. We will not help them.”
Lij Kummar grinned, and a chill raced down Yan’s spine.
“Will Jedi stop us?”
Obi-Wan raced through the woods surrounding the palace. He had to get these eggs back to their people before war broke out.
Where was the Kaleesh camp? Every shabla thing looked the same.
In his haste to find the Kaleesh, Obi-Wan didn’t notice the Kaleesh had already found him.
Within seconds, he was surrounded.
Obi-Wan screeched to a halt just before he ran straight into a towering figure. A dozen more insanely tall figures stepped out from the trees, aiming spears and various threatening-looking pointy things at him. The first figure rumbled out something in its native tongue. Obi-Wan blinked in uncomprehension. How was he supposed to talk to them if he couldn’t understand them?
Oh, right. The eggs.
He reached into his robes and gingerly pulled out two of the eggs. The action had an immediate effect. The figure hissed something, and yellow eyes narrowed through the slits in a mask of bone.
Obi-Wan gulped. “I uh, brought your children back. They’re fine. There’s no need to attack the Yam’rii.”
He didn’t even know if they spoke Basic. Obi-Wan held the eggs out towards the figure, waiting for...well, anything really. The figure just stood there, silently staring at him.
“Who are you?” the figure asked in rough Basic.
Obi-Wan nearly sighed in relief. “I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’m a Jedi Padawan.”
“I am Jai Sheelal.” The figure nodded, pausing for the right word. “You save our...young.”
Obi-Wan nodded vehemently. Jai Sheelal glanced over to one of the other Kaleesh. Two of them stepped forward, hands outstretched. Obi-Wan handed the eggs to them, and pulled out the remaining three.
“You will stop your attack on the Yam’rii?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Never,” one of the other Kaleesh growled.
“We thank you, young Jedi,” Jai Sheelal bowed reverently. “But Huk will die.”
Jai Sheelal walked past Obi-Wan. The other Kaleesh followed.
Obi-Wan stared at their retreating backs. No, no, no. He had to stop them! They had to listen! There had to be something worth more to them than revenge.
“Wait!” he shouted after them. “Isn’t there anything else but bloodshed your people will take as payment?”
Jai Sheelal glanced back at Obi-Wan. “Huk must pay.”
“Yes, they should. But not like this” Obi-Wan replied, desperately thinking of something--anything else. Then an idea occurred to him. His eyes lit up. Yes, that might work. “I may have an alternate solution, if you don’t mind hearing me out.”
Dooku’s lightsaber blazed in his hand, ready to dissuade any Kaleesh from entering the palace. Lij Kummar raised her spear. The dozen other Kaleesh advanced through the front gate and into the courtyard.
“Wait!” a young voice shouted.
Dooku blinked, making absolutely sure he was really seeing what was in front of him.
Obi-Wan strolled out from the treeline. And there was a crowd of Kaleesh behind him. The Kaleesh joined their friends standing in front of the palace.
Dooku gripped his saber tighter, ready to spring a rescue mission for his captured padawan. But Obi-Wan didn’t feel worried or scared. He was smiling?
“Padawan, what is going on?” Dooku demanded.
“I convinced the Kaleesh to stand down,” Obi-Wan smirked.
“How in the kriff did you manage that?” the aide yelped.
Obi-Wan’s smile dimmed. “I...may or may not have told them that the Yam’rii would be forced to give back all the territories they stole.”
The aide openly gaped, and the ambassador immediately fainted.
Dooku raised an eyebrow at his apprentice. “Stolen territories?”
“Apparently the Yam’rii colonized the other planets in this system without asking if anyone lived there first.”
The tallest of the Kaleesh walked closer, a most unpleasant smile stretched across his face. Dooku resisted the urge to reignite his saber.
“Thank you, young Jedi. We owe you debt.” The Kaleesh clasped a fist over his chest.
Obi-Wan bowed and copied the motion. “No debt is owed, Jai Sheelal. Negotiations are the Jedi’s specialty.”
“You are Negotiator to my people,” Jai Sheelal argued solemnly. “Debt is owed.”
Obi-Wan bowed, accepting the debt.
Dooku watched his padawan with amusement. He had single-handedly stopped a battle, and was already on friendly terms with the prevalent species. Then he frowned, something else occurring to him.
“Padawan, did I not ask you to remain with Bode and the ambassador’s wife?”
“I, uh, wanted to help?” Obi-Wan tried.
Dooku crossed his arms, waiting for the other part of the explanation.
“Okay,” Obi-Wan admitted. “The eggs were dying, and I figured the others would be fine without me. I knew you had it under control.”
“You are fortunate everything worked out this time , Padawan,” Dooku said sternly. “But next time I expect you to obey me.”
“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan huffed. “But I did technically save everyone.”
“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan repeated, more contrite this time. He glanced up at Dooku. “Can I comm...someone and tell them everything?”
“I suppose you’ve earned a few minutes,” Dooku allowed. “But make it brief. We have further work to do.”
Obi-Wan grinned and pulled out his comm.
“Buir, you’ll never guess what!”
Dooku sighed fondly, and turned to help the aide revive the ambassador.
Later, Masters Sifo-Dyas and Dooku met over a glass of well-deserved brandy.
“Your Padawan gets more Mandalorian by the day,” Sifo-Dyas shook his head. “I know your feelings for her, but are you sure it is such a good idea to let her continue teaching him?”
“She knows as much, if not more, of the world than I do,” Dooku countered. “We share similar views, so I see no harm in it.”
“Even though she is still very anti-Jedi?” Sifo-Dyas asked.
“Mara is anti-pacifist, not necessarily anti-Jedi.” Dooku sipped his brandy. “Though her opinions about the Jedi Council are...understandable.”
Sifo-Dyas sighed. “I only hope you know what you’re doing.”
In a bar on Mandalore, two possible allies shared a drink and a plan. It was an exceptional plan.
This time it would work. There was no wannabe Sith around to screw things up this time. There was no way she could lose. She would have her revenge, and then she would have him .
Komari Vosa smiled at the Mandalorian sitting across from her.
He was brutish-looking, with piercing eyes and long, dark hair. His armour was painted black and red.
“Well, what do you think of my offer, Vizsla?”
“I think,” the man growled. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
Chapter 6: Come Paint My Face
Y'all know what time it is!
Disclaimer: Any assassins you send after me with be dealt with accordingly.
Come paint my face
Come take my hand
I do not wish you to understand
Someday you too will go to war
And by that time, may you not fear death anymore
Haat Mando’ade Camp
Myles stuck his head into Jaster’s tent.
“Kryan’s found another one, ‘Alor.”
Jaster and his second-in-commands shared a look. Jango was out the door before Jaster could call after him.
Mara Miraal, his other second-in-command, sighed. “Children.”
Jaster snorted in agreement, then frowned. “This makes the third body that’s turned up with lightsaber burns.”
“I don’t like it,” Mara grumbled. “First we get a call about Kyr’tsad making trouble on Galidraan, then someone with a lightsaber starts killing civilians?”
“You’re sure it’s not Vizsla?”
Mara shook her head. “The burns are too wide. The Darksaber’s thin-bladed.”
“Half the Mando’ade blame Vizsla, others say Vizsla is working with a Jetti, and there’s a few that are looking at you.”
“Right, because those are the only people with lightsabers,” Mara grimaced.
Jaster considered his long-time friend and ally. “You know some people within the Jettise. Do you think any of them would know anything?”
Mara did not look impressed. “I try to keep my tolerance of three Jedi a secret from the rest of the vode.”
Jaster shrugged. “It was just a thought.”
“Why are the Death Watch here at all?” Mara asked, frustrated. “As far as I can see, there’s no real reason for them to attack Galidraan.”
“The governor asked for our help, and that’s what we’ll give,” Jaster said firmly. “Tor’s reasons don’t matter. He’s killing innocents.”
“Yes, I know,” Mara huffed irately. “But you should have stayed on Mandalore and let me and Jango handle this one. Something about this whole mess feels suspicious.”
“While I have every faith that you and Jango can take care of everything, the last time you left me alone, Montross nearly put one through my back,” Jaster pointed out.
“And then I tore him to shreds,” Mara stated. She sighed. “Listen, Jas. Don’t you think it's about time for you to retire, anyway? I mean, you’re not as young as you used to be.”
“You’re one to talk,” Jaster smiled.
“I’m serious, Jas. Jango is more than ready to take over the job.”
“I know he is,” he replied quietly. “Fine. After we get back to Manda’yaim, I’ll talk to him about it.”
Vizsla and his partner surveyed the darmanda’s camp below them.
“They’re beginning to panic. Paranoia is setting in,” Tor Vizsla observed.
“Send the message tomorrow, and tomorrow night, I will take care of Mereel.”
Vizsla scowled. “I should be the one to kill him.”
“You are going to be busy distracting Miraal,” Vosa growled. “Everyone in that camp knows your face and fighting style. It has to be someone who looks like a Jedi.”
Tor scowled again, but conceded her point. He knew she was right. At least he could finally kill Miraal and that insolent pup, Fett. As far as consolation prizes went, it wasn’t horrible.
“Oh, cheer up,” Vosa groaned. “You’ll be ruling Mandalore before the week’s out. What more could you want?”
Yan Dooku frowned at the Council. He was being sent on a mission. To Galidraan. To stop a rogue group of Mandalorian terrorists. Without Obi-Wan. But he would be allowed some backup, because Mandalorians were unpredictable and irrational.
He had no doubt that the terrorist group were the ones Mara had been fighting for years--the Death Watch they called themselves. Dooku was admittedly pleased to be helping get rid of them once and for all.
And while he understood the Council’s views upon not allowing Obi-Wan to come along, since his mother would undoubtedly be involved, he thought it unnecessarily unjust. It had been months since Obi-Wan had seen Mara.
His chest tightened strangely at the thought of Mara Miraal--which was, of course, ridiculous. He was no maverick like Qui-Gon, who was so in love with Tahl it was sickening.
After he put his thoughts in order, he addressed the Council.
“I will have to contact Warrior Miraal to coordinate and trade information.”
“No,” Yoda stated. “Know which side of this Miraal is on, we do not. Prejudices, she will have.”
Well, that was a load of…
“I will accompany Master Dooku,” Sifo-Dyas broke in, before Dooku could say something regretful.
“Take another, you must,” Yoda ordered.
Orriss Massa’s sigh rocked the councilroom. “I’ll go along. If only to make sure everything is done properly.”
Dooku found himself thinking of some choice phrases in Mando’a. This mission was getting worse already.
Mara sat up suddenly.
Something was very wrong.
Every other Mando around was still asleep, snoring loud enough to wake the dead. Mara grabbed her lightsabers and gently crept to the edge of camp. There was someone, or something out there.
She checked on Jaster in his personal tent first. He was finally sleeping soundly. Nothing had triggered the alarms around camp, so Mara quietly went to check on the sentries.
That was when the first sign of trouble appeared.
Irre Datt was slumped over from her position, head lolling to the side. Mara knelt next to her and checked for a pulse. None existed. A single scorched hole ran through her chest, and a long burn scratched the side of her armour. It seemed her durasteel armour hadn’t protected her from the heat of a lightsaber.
Mara whirled around, every muscle alert. If Tor did indeed have a Jedi or another Force-user on the payroll, then it was her job to deal with them.
A distant flash of blue light froze Mara in her tracks. Jedi.
She stood slowly, lightsabers in hand. This Jedi was going to regret being born. Attention focused ahead, Mara didn’t feel the familiar presence creep up behind her.
She had taken a bare three steps forward when a loud buzzing sounded from behind. Mara spun on her heel, bringing her blades up to protect her, but it was too late. She had left too big a gap.
“Say hi to Kenobi for me,” Vizsla jeered.
Black light edged in white rushed towards her face.
The last thing she felt was fire burning through her skull.
Dooku glanced down at the comm, worry growing with every second it went unanswered.
She never failed to answer. Not once.
“Still no reply?” Sifo-Dyas asked. He sounded worried as well.
Orris Massa scoffed. “Perhaps she is too busy slaughtering farmers. Honestly, I don’t see why you care so much about a murderess.”
Neither Dooku nor Sifo-Dyas dignified that with a response.
According to Sifo-Dyas, an unbelievable amount of shattrepoints and possible timelines seemed to converge near Mara. Dooku was man enough to admit that she meant more to him than that, bue if Sifo-Dyas was to be believed, Mara’s death, at any point in the next twenty-four hours would be catastrophic. Dooku wasn’t one to go off of half-mad prophecies, but his old friend was convinced this time.
“We’re about seven hours from Galidraan. Better get some rest,” Dooku announced to the two Council members. And not for the first time, he found himself missing Obi-Wan. His talented padawan was leading a relief effort on Ryloth, and Dooku had every belief that he would do fine, but it was the first time they’d truly been separated.
However this ended, he hoped it didn’t end with either his padawan or Obi-Wan’s mother being mad at him.
Jango could tell something was wrong the moment he opened his eyes. Nearly everyone else was still asleep, which wasn’t entirely strange, seeing as the sun wasn’t quite up yet. Ba’vodu Mara’s place was empty, but that wasn’t weird either. She was often up before sunrise. Yet, something still felt very wrong.
He shoved Myles. “Hey, Myles. Get up. Something’s not right.”
Myles grunted, but sleepily complied.
“Hmmmn. What's it?”
Jango shoved him again to wake him up.
“Alright, I’m awake! Kriff!” Myles yelped. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know,” Jango admitted. Myles gave him a look. Jango sighed. “Just come with me to check everything.”
“Fine,” Myles grumbled. “But if it’s just another strill, I will shoot you.”
Jango grabbed his buy’ce and headed for Jaster’s tent. If anything was wrong, his Buir would know about it.
The front flap was open and slapping gently in the early morning breeze. No sound came from the tent, but there were lights on. Maybe Jaster had fallen asleep over his reports again.
Jango shoved the flap open farther, ready to see either his Buir or his Ba’vodu, or maybe both, talking like they always did.
That is not what he found.
Jango’s buy’ce hit the cold ground with a thud.
His scream of anguish tore through the camp, waking everyone.
Obi-Wan felt a disturbance through the Force.
He quickly checked all of his bonds. Master Yan was fine. So were Tahl, Qui-Gon, and all of his friends. Then he stopped suddenly. He couldn’t feel his Buir. Either something was blocking his connection, or she was… Obi-Wan didn’t allow himself to finish that thought.
But Buir wasn’t the origin of the disturbance, so he forced himself to look on.
A cry cut through the Force. A cry so loud and powerful that even on Ryloth, Obi-Wan heard it, and knew with certainty that Jaster Mereel was dead.
Jango sat outside Jaster’s tent, cradling a ruined helmet.
Jaster hadn’t stood a chance. The Jetti had killed with the Force. There were no signs of a struggle; just a crushed windpipe and a broken buy’ce.
Jango’s mind screamed.They weren’t at war with the Jettise. There had been no warning of an attack.
But those killings... Most thought it was the work of the Darksaber, but Ba’vodu Mara said they were from a real Jetti’kad like hers.
Jango looked up at Myles.
“Where is Miraal?”
His friend shook his head. “We haven’t found her. But if the Jetti got past her…”
Jango shot to his feet. “She’s not dead. She’s indestructible!”
Myles sighed and looked back at Jaster’s tent. “That’s what we thought about him, too.”
“Sir!” someone yelled.
Jango turned to face... his people. His heart clenched. He couldn’t lead them--not like Jaster.
“Jango, we found her!” Arla shouted. His sister rushed forward, practically throwing people out of her way.
She and two others were carrying a stretcher between them. Two bodies laid on the stretcher, and for a second time today, Jango’s heart stopped. No. No, he can’t have lost both sets of parents!
“She’s alive, but barely,” Arla called, giving Jango a jolt of relief. “Irre wasn’t so lucky.”
The stretcher passed by him on the way to the med-tent, and Jango’s gut flopped. It looked as though half of her face was missing.
Myes grabbed his arm to stop him from following Arla.
“She will be cared for. Your people need you, ‘Alor.”
Jango hated it. Hated that title, hated that Jaster wasn’t here to tell him what to do, and most of all, he hated the Jettise.
His thoughts darkened, filled with lightsabers and revenge. The Jettise had just declared war on the Mando’ade, and he would be ready for them.
Jango straightened, standing tall in front of his people.
“Mand’alor Mereel was assassinated last night by a Jetti. Be on guard for another attack. As of now, all watches are doubled, and all new information goes through me,” he ordered, then paused. “The Jettise are most likely working with Vizsla and the Watch. Keep your eyes open. Stay together!”
Then he turned and stalked into the infirmary.
There was something he had to borrow from his dear aunt.
Seventeen Jedi. Dooku sniffed. Overkill, if one asked him. They were going to stop a band of terrorists, not a full-scale army!
He wished he could raise Mara on the comm. His worry was quickly changing to fear, though he made sure Obi-Wan couldn’t sense that. It wouldn’t do to give Obi-Wan anxiety about something he had no control over.
Orriss Massa and Sifo-Dyas were officially put in charge, which meant that Massa was in charge. Dooku nearly growled in frustration. Why had the Council sent so many Jedi? Why were they not being told all the facts? And what was the Governor of Galidraan not telling them?
Dooku was afraid the whole thing was being blown horrifically out of proportion.
The moment they stepped off the ship, Massa took over, shouting orders left and right.
“You five, take the left flank. You six, circle around to the right. The rest of you, surround the camp,” Massa barked.
Dooku was reaching the end of his patience.
“For Force’s sake, this isn’t a battle,” he snapped.
“We don’t even know if this is the terrorist’s camp,” Sifo-Dyas added.
Massa fixed the two of them with a long stare.
“These are the coordinates the governor gave us. And if you could look past your obsession with Mandalorians, you would see the truth. Mandalorians are savage animals--monsters. Now will you listen to sense and do your duty as a Jedi?”
Dooku glared at the man for a long moment. Then he turned on his heel, and walked off.
The Council and Massa be blasted! He was going to find the facts for himself--starting with the elusive Governor of Galidraan.
For the most part, things were going according to plan. But there were still elements that were being troublesome. First, Tor had failed to kill that pesky Miraal--Miraal being the second troublesome piece in her plan.
Yan was supposed to find her body with Darksaber marks all over it. That would push her dear Master over the edge without thought for the consequences. He would attack the True Mandalorians without hesitation. Then, Komari could show him the way to true power. She would show him the Dark Side, and they could be together again. As it should be.
But now, she had to refigure the pieces.
Oh. Oh, yes. That might work.
Komari’s eyes blazed a sickly yellow, and a crooked smile stretched across her face as a far better plan fell into place.
I realized I haven't been putting up the Mando'a translations at the end of the chapters. Sorry about that.
Su'cuy gar - hello (lit. *you're still alive.*)
Ret'urcye mhi - goodbye
Manda'yaim - Mandalore (home)
Mand'alor - King of Mandalore (often shortened to 'Alor)
Jetti/ Jettise - Jedi
Jetti'kad - lightsaber
Haat Mando'ade - True Mandalorians
Elek - yes
Ad'ika - little one
Besom - ill-mannered lout
Kyr'tsad - Death Watch
Dar'manda - someone not worthy of being called a Mandalorian
Hut'uun - coward
Chapter 7: Listen How The Rivers Rise
Galidraan 2: Electric Boogaloo
Disclaimer: The assassins have failed. I'm still here.
Oh, the rain, is steady falling
Listen how the rivers rise
I can hear the lightning callin'
And I can see the darkened skies
Haat Mando’ade Camp
The governor's mansion was located on a vast estate, well over ten miles from where the supposed terrorists had made their camp.
Master Yan Dooku strolled right up to the gate, and knocked on the front door. It was opened by a gaudily-dressed butler.
Dooku crossed his arms. “I am here to see the governor.”
“Whom shall I say is here?” the butler asked.
“Jedi Master Dooku.”
He was welcomed into the foyer, and the butler left, presumably to tell the governor he was there.
The mansion was far beyond what Dooku expected. Being in charge of such a small planet as Galidraan had apparently suited the governor very well indeed. Rich colors adorned the walls, along with paintings Dooku knew for a fact were worth thousands of credits. Masks from various cultures hung on one wall. He recognized a few, and estimated them to be nearly priceless, both money-wise, and in historical value.
Dooku turned when he heard someone coming down the grand staircase.
“Master Jedi!” the governor exclaimed. He sounded surprised. “I did not expect you until the problem had been resolved.”
Dooku bowed slightly as his host approached. The governor was neither as old nor as weak as Dooku pictured him to be.
“I thought it best to be in possession of all the facts before storming a Mandalorian camp,” Dooku stated dryly.
The governor recovered quickly with a smile. “Yes, of course. Very wise of you, I’m sure. But there is little time.” He pulled out a datapad, and handed it to Dooku. “The terrorists released this statement two days ago. I fear our simple militia is not enough to stop them this time.”
Dooku studied the message on the ‘pad.
This is a warning from the Watch. Your homes are ours. Your children belong to us. Surrender to us, or we will destroy them all.
You have three days.
“And this is the symbol the terrorists use?” Dooku asked, fishing for more information.
The governor nodded. “Yes. They call themselves Death Watch.”
Dooku continued his line of questioning. The governor might be right so far, but he had to make sure. “What makes you certain this camp belongs to Death Watch? And where is your militia at the moment?”
The governor sighed deeply. “Our forces are spread thin, keeping the peace among the civilians. I’ve had to ask for reinforcements from Mandalore just to keep our own criminals under control, but they are running low on strength as well. This is the only camp they’ve observed that no one knows anything about. I’ve sent scouts to see what’s going on, but none ever returned. This is also the only camp where we have seen these two colors used together on a set of Mandalorian armour. No doubt you know that colors have certain meanings when painted on beskar?”
Dooku nodded. “Yes, although I admit that I do not know what every color means.”
The governor pulled up a blurry holo of a Mandalorian warrior in green and red beskar.
“Green means change, and red means vengeance,” he explained. “Together, they mean radical, violent change. Revolution, if you will. These people are not to be reasoned with” He gave Dooku a significant look. “Just last night, in fact, they destroyed a military outpost without warning. They killed every one of the warriors, and took one of Mandalore’s finest military minds captive.”
Whatever Dooku expected the governor to say next, it was not the name that fell from the man’s lips.
“Colonel Mara Miraal.”
A flash of red-hot anger stole through Dooku. These barbarians had kidnapped Mara, and if they still had her, it meant she was injured. Grievously. Mara would be answering her comm right now if she was fine. He mentally cursed at himself. What had he been wasting precious time for? He had the facts, he had proof, and with every passing second, Mara and the citizens of Galidraan were more in danger.
He bowed respectfully to his host.
“Thank you, governor. I simply wished to be completely informed.”
The governor bowed in return. “Of course, Master Jedi. Anything I can do to help.”
Dooku made a quick exit, heading back for the camp with all possible haste.
He didn’t look back, so he didn’t see the smug grin stealing over the governor’s face.
“Did I convince him?” the governor asked.
A twisted smile replied.
Tor Vizsla hated this plan.
He hadn’t gotten to kill Mereel, he hadn’t succeeded in killing Miraal, and it looked like he wouldn’t get to kill the little Fettlings either.
But even he had to admit the plan had its merits.
For instance: watching the Jettise and so-called True Mandalorians destroy each other would be...delicious.
Mara couldn't feel her face.
She sluggishly reached up to see what was wrong. She frowned at her slow movements. Her fingers brushed heavy cloth. They covered the entire right side of her head. She pulled her hand back down and frowned in concentration.
The last thing she remembered…
She laid back down on the cot with a groan. Vizsla had gotten the drop on her. She was lucky to be alive at all. Good thing Tor Vizsla was a terrible duelist.
Everything hurt. Fortunately, she didn’t feel any pain from her apparent injury, though that was probably the meds. She had no doubt that it would hurt like a shabuir when the drugs wore off.
There was talking coming from somewhere above her, but the sound was muffled.
“Whass goin’ on?” she slurred.
The voice stopped talking, and a figure leaned down into her diminished field of vision. Mara distantly recognized the face that belonged to Myles.
“Me'vaar ti gar?” he asked. “ How are you?”
It took her an oddly long time to translate.
“Naas,” she lied, saying that she was fine. The look on Myles' face confused her. It was as if he was sad, but scared at the same time. “Me'bana?” What's happened?
“Mara,” Myles began slowly. “I’m so sorry. Jaster’s dead.”
For a long moment, his words didn’t register. Then it hit her like a sack of durasteel bricks.
No, no, no…
Desperately, she reached into the Force. An empty, ragged hole sat where Jaster’s warm, familiar presence used to sit. It was true. He really was gone. Her oldest surviving friend in the universe, was dead.
Her drugged mind spun rapidly.
“I saw a Jedi…” she whispered.
But that didn’t make sense. Why would a Jedi--any Jedi--attack Jaster specifically? She frowned, thoughts flying too fast. She couldn’t keep up.
Myles was speaking again, and Mara forced her mind to listen.
“You got a Jetti’kad to the face. Whoever it was got in and out without raising the alarm.” Myles grimaced. “We failed him.”
Mara shook her head. The motion made her vision swim, and for a moment, she was certain she would throw up. The feeling passed, and her vision settled.
“The Jettise are a slippery hut’uun’la bunch. They got past me, too.” She shoved herself up, supporting herself with her elbows. Another wave of nausea hit her, and she groaned. “How long until I’m functional again?”
“Kryan says another month at least,” Myles replied apologetically. “And you might never get completely back to normal.”
“Business as usual, then,” Mara sighed. “You’d better go. Jango probably needs you right now.”
“He needs you too,” Myles said pointedly. “Don’t do anything reckless.”
Mara nodded, and Myles left.
It was only when the tent was empty that Mara allowed her shields to crack. She gulped back burning tears. Her throat ached with the effort of keeping her emotions in control. Finally, she gave up trying, and let the tears flow. She sat on the edge of the cot, and sobbed. The whole camp could probably hear her, but she didn’t care. Jaster was dead, and it was all her fault. Mara failed him, just like she’d failed Kenobi.
Her fists clenched. Whatever Jetti showed up to pick a fight, Mara would make sure they knew exactly who they’d messed with before she ran her blades through their heart. And when it was over, she would be sending a very pointed message to the Jetti Council.
She stood, gritting her teeth as her head spun with the sudden motion. Her vision cleared, and she grabbed her lightsaber and buy’ce. Injury or not, she was going to be there for Jango.
The woods on the North and East sides of the camp were silent. Likewise, there was no movement from the rocky cliff face on the West side. It was the grassy field to the South where the Jettise would make their entrance. Jango was certain of it. He stood guard, and waited. They would come, and he would be ready for them.
There. A single figure appeared in the distance.
Jango gave a sharp whistle, sounding the alarm. Three Jettise were walking up to the camp’s border. Jango growled in disgust at the sheer audacity of it.
Scowl hidden under his buy’ce, Jango stepped forward. He wanted nothing more than to destroy them where they stood, but for Jaster’s sake, he would hear them out.
He met the three Jettise just outside the camp’s border of trees. The one in front was older, apparently the one in charge. The other two, a Zabrak woman and an Ithorian, stayed a half-step behind the leader. Jango may not have the Force, but he knew how to read people. These Jettise were cold and professional--as if they were here to sell a tract of land rather than declare war. The leader, on the other hand, matched Jango’s expression right down to the disgust hiding at the corner of his mouth.
“What do you Jettise want?” He might listen, but that didn’t mean he was going to be polite about it.
If it was possible, the Jetti’s expression turned more sour.
“We have received some disturbing reports from a verified source that you are threatening and killing innocents.”
Jango scoffed. As if any of Vizsla’s ilk could be considered innocent. He’d take the pacifist New Mandalorians before he said a kind word about a Death Watch!
“I don’t suppose your kind would care that they threatened first?” Jango said bitterly.
“How?” the Jetti asked, but Jango got the feeling he didn’t really want the answer. Ori'buy’ce, kih'kovid, is the saying that came to mind. All bucket, no head.
“By existing,” Jango retorted. If the Jetti wanted to be stubborn, Jango would give it right back to him. “No true innocent is in danger from us.”
Behind him, Jango knew the Mando’ade were gearing up and getting ready for a fight.
“So you only threaten those you deem as less than innocent?” the Jetti pressed with a barely hidden sneer. “The Jedi give you one warning. Surrender now, and the Republic will show you the mercy you do not deserve.”
So, that’s how they wanted it, huh?
“Don’t pretend to have the moral high-ground, Jetti,” Jango snarled. “The only surrender given today will be yours. Take your assassins and go.”
He was channeling every bit of Jaster he could manage, but it would only go so far. He would prove he was worthy enough to lead the Mando’ade, even if he had to bite his tongue now and then. He could do that at least, for Jaster.
The vein above the Jetti’s eye bulged, and his face got red.
“You just blew your only chance,” the Jetti hissed, abandoning all pretenses. “You will be destroyed like the monsters you are.”
He reached for his lightsaber.
“Last chance, Jettti,” Jango warned, pulling out his ba’vodu’s saber. “Go back to your temple.”
“The Jedi Council will not be threatened!” The Jetti ignited his saber. Green. The other two Jettise followed suit.
Luckily, Jango’s dear Aunt Mara had taught him a thing or two about winning against Force-users. Jango lit Mara’s red saber, and subtly flashed a series of hand-signals behind his back. He knew the Jettise wouldn’t notice, but the Mando’ade would.
There’s more of them, he signed. Watch the woods, and fight dirty.
Leaving Jango facing off against three Jettise, Myles turned around and sprinted back towards the infirmary. Concussed or not, they needed Miraal.
Her buy’ce barely fit over her head with all bandages in the way, but Mara was not about to leave it behind and risk another head-injury. The next one might take off her skull.
Her right eye was out of commission, but that didn’t stop her from hooking her remaining lightsaber onto her tac-belt. The other one must be laying in the woods where Vizsla attacked her. She would find it later.
It had been a long time since she’d crossed blades with a real Jetti--and an even longer time since she’d felt the exhilaration of killing one. Adrenaline and anger coursed through her blood, ready for battle.
Myles sprinted up to her just outside the infirmary.
“The Jettise are here. And they’re here to fight.”
“Where is Jango?” she asked, falling into step with him. Dozens of the vode rushed around, preparing for battle.
“They sent three Jettise to the South. Jango went out to talk to them. I left when the lightsabers came out,” Myles said concisely.
Something in her mind clicked, and Mara halted dead in her tracks.
“They’ve got the place surrounded,” she whispered. “They’re going to turn it into a bloodbath.”
Myles went pale, and sprinted ahead to warn the others.
Mara pulled out her comm, hastily punching in a memorized number. It went unanswered.
“Oh, come on, Yan! Answer!” she half-yelled. “You’d better not be here, and if you are…”
But there was no reply.
The camp came into view, and Dooku’s brewing rage grew. These creatures did not deserve an honorable death, and for Mara’s sake, he would make sure that’s what they didn’t get.
Avidly avoiding Orriss Massa, Dooku circled around through the treeline.
Despite the bright morning, the Force sang with darkness.
Dooku didn’t notice it, or his persistently ringing comm. The only thing his mind centered on was the terrorists that lay ahead of him.
Komari’s eyes drifted closed, savoring the darkness that permeated the very air around her. It oozed through the air as the first Mandalorian fell to a Jedi’s blade. The Force spun and danced as living things died.
Three hundred Mandalorians against seventeen Jedi. It was beautiful.
Only one thought marred the joyous occasion.
As the darkness in her rightful Master grew, she was able to reach in and read it. She felt anger, yes. But also something else--something she often wished was directed at her.
Affection. Worry. Longing.
Komari snarled. Yan had a crush on that infuriating black-and-blue-wearing, weapon-loving Miraal! The first chance she got, Komari would strike her down so that her own wretched son did not recognize her. Or even better, Yan might kill her in his blind rage.
Komari turned her attentions back to the battlefield below her, and she smirked. No one would ever trust the Jedi again after today.
The Jetti leapt at Jango, and he brought the borrowed lightsaber up to block the attack. The Jetti’s two companions had already taken off, chasing after Skirata and Ullur Bralor.
The Jetti was using all sorts of moves Jango had never seen before, flipping and spinning his lightsaber in a useless attempt to intimidate Jango. Jango growled and deflected and dodged every strike with simple, economic moves. It was making the Jetti mad.
“Who taught you the saber?” he demanded.
Jango smirked. “Gar buir.” your mom.
The Jetti let out a snarl of anger, and pressed the attack.
Myles was way out of his depth.
Of course he could kill Jettise...in theory. Miraal had taught them all how to get the upper hand against people who used lightsabers, but live and in person, things were very different.
He was leading the Mando’ade on the East side. Forty against five.
Quickly realizing that his blaster was all but useless, Myles abandoned it in favor of rushing head-long at a smaller-looking Jetti. The Jetti cried out in surprise as Myles lowered his shoulder, ramming into her gut with all his might. She flew backward, landing in a heap.
Myles pressed his boot to her sternum, keeping her from getting back up. The Jetti looked up at him. There was no hint of emotion or fear in her face.
He pulled the trigger, and the Jetti slumped back into the dirt.
Miraal was right. The Jettise were mindless slaves.
Dooku cut down two Mandalorians with a fell swoop of his blade. Their heads toppled to the ground, and he stepped over their bodies.
Dooku followed Mara’s weak presence in the Force, and he hunted.
They brought padawans !”
Mara had to split her focus in the Force to avoid hurting the youngling. She clashed blades with a Master/Padawan duo--a Whiphid and a young human boy. The Master was talented, but having the youngling underfoot was not doing him any favors.
They went back and forth, exchanging blows. Then, the padawan made a mistake. The Whiphid moved to protect his charge, but in so doing, left his side vulnerable. Mara took the shot. She coiled the Force around her fingers, and leveled a burst of Force energy at the youngling. He went flying into a tree. The Whiphid’s attention flickered to his padawan, and Mara used the distraction to her advantage.
The ten-foot tall Master fell under Mara’s blood-blade. As the Jetti crumpled to the ground, Mara stretched out her senses to the padawan. He was unconscious.
“Tierren!” Mara shouted.
The man spun around at her call.
“Take the kid and tie him up in the infirmary!” she ordered.
Tierren gave a sharp nod, and ran ahead to grab the boy from the woods.
Mara took a bare second to watch the battle. All around her, Mandalorians--her friends--lay dead or dying. It didn’t matter that she’d trained them. They were still falling.
There, still in view, was one more Jetti.
Mara gripped her saber tighter, and flung herself at him.
Sifo-Dyas writhed on the ground, and screamed.
Entrapped in a vision, he watched the galaxy burn around him.
Jedi perished by the thousands. Men marched past in pure white Mandalorian armour, cutting down Knights and Padawans without mercy. There was no escape.
The Temple burned.
It had to stop .
Howling shrieks of anguish ripped from Sifo-Dyas’ throat.
In the heat of battle, no one heard a thing.
The Mando’s crimson saber came down, cleaving through air and metal.
The lightsaber exploded in Orriss Massa’s hand. Burning light shot outward from the ruined casing. Massa dropped it, and brought his hands up to protect his eyes.
When he looked up again, a red blade was pointed at his chin.
“Surrender,” the Mando ordered.
“Never,” Massa snarled.
“Have it your way.” The Mando lifted his saber, and for a brief moment, Massa felt a twinge of fear. Then he saw a flash of movement by the trees.
Massa smirked as two Knights crept up behind the Mando.
Unfortunately, the Mando must have noticed. He whirled just in time to block a blade aimed at his neck.
Devoid of a lightsaber, Massa settled into battle meditation. The two Knight’s blades sped faster, evidently feeling the effects of his meditation.
The red blade flew from the Mando’s fingers, and Massa smiled, waiting for the warrior’s inevitable destruction. The moment never came.
Orriss Massa watched in helpless fascination as the Mando rushed at the Knights. His hands wrapped around the Zabrak’s neck before anyone could react. With a sharp twist and a sickening snap! , the Knight slumped to the ground.
Knight Yulan wasted precious seconds watching his fallen friend in shock. Yulan raised his saber again, but the Mando was already there, landing punch after punch to the Knight’s face and chest. The Mando yanked the lightsaber from the Knight’s hand, and pummeled him in the face with the hilt.
Yulan stepped back to recover, but it was a mistake. His saber ignited in the Mando’s grip, and a beam of pure green energy slashed through Yulan’s stomach. The Knight glanced down at his fatal wound, and back up at the Mando in horror.
The Mandalorian kicked Yulan’s legs out from under him, and he went down, never to get up again.
The Mando turned on Massa, face stony and breathing heavily.
Tor Vizsla scowled.
Plan be karked, it was high time he joined the fun! Fett needed to be taught another lesson, and it didn't look like the Jettise would succeed in that area.
Vosa had already left ‘to have an important conversation with her boyfriend’, so why couldn’t Tor get some personal business out of the way while she was busy?
He grabbed the Darksaber from his belt, and ignited it.
Before the day was over, the True Mandalorians would be forgotten in the history books, and Vizsla would finally have his kingdom.
Another Mandalorian died on Dooku’s blade. Mara’s presence was getting nearer all the time. He must be close.
Dooku reached out towards her mind, and he felt her jolt of recognition through the Force. He smiled, assured that she was alive and well.
Then, her mind recoiled in shock and alarm. The sudden change in emotions gave Dooku a splitting headache. What was wrong with her? Why wasn’t she happy to know he was here? Didn’t she know he was here to rescue her?
He reached for her mind again, gripping it tightly, and he forced her to see through his eyes.
“ See? I’m here!”
She struggled against his grip, pain flaring out from her shields. And for the first time, Yan Dooku heard Mara’s voice echo in his head.
“ Stop! Yan, let go!”
Dooku frowned, but lessened his hold on her mind. Mara continued speaking through their thin bond.
“ You’ve attacked the wrong camp! You have to stop them. My friends are dying.”
A cold chill swept over him, and he let go of her mind completely.
He stepped into a clearing, and Mara finally came into view.
Her face was obscured by the black and blue helmet, but he could still feel her pain and distress through the Force.
Then, Dooku looked down at the bodies sprawled across the ground. Sets of burned and blood-stained armour lay silent and still. His eyes widened in dawning horror.
The red fog lifted from his mind as he truly looked at the destruction surrounding them. Had he really done this?
A painfully familiar voice cut through the chilly atmosphere, sending another cold shiver down Dooku’s neck.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite and least favorite people,” Komari sing-songed.
Mara stiffened, fist clenching around her lightsaber.
Komari laughed. There was nothing warm or happy in the sound. “Glad to see you remember me, Miraal.”
Dooku raised his saber again, facing the young woman he’d inadvertently destroyed. “What are you doing here, Komari?”
“I came to play a game,” Komari grinned. “And I’m winning.”
Arla Fett always had her brother’s back.
From birth, to when Tor Vizsla murdered their parents, to Jaster Mereel adopting them, all the way to here--Galidraan, she always stood with him.
She never begrudged Jaster naming Jango as his heir. What was the crown to her? She had no mind for politics, and no desire to lead. Just hand her a blaster and tell her where to point it, and she was happy.
And now that Jaster was dead, Jango was the new Mand’alor. Arla would probably take over Myles’ job, so Myles could step up to Jango’s former position. But none of that was important to her. Only Jango was. And right now, he was going to get himself killed.
The blonde-haired Mandalorian saw three Jettise teaming up on Jango, and she ran . Her brother was an idiot, if he thought he was going to beat up a bunch of Jettise without her.
She was still a long way away when a Jetti jumped in front of her, blocking her path to Jango.
Arla sighed as the Jetti raised his lightsaber. It looked like Jango would have to fend for himself for a little while.
She brought her arm up to block the blade on her vambrace. The Jetti’s eyes widened when his blow didn’t cut off Arla’s arms.
“Nice try, Jetti,” Arla grinned, and kicked him in the kneecap.
She allowed the blue lightsaber to glance off her chestplate. It did minimal damage to the armour, but with the blade out of the way, Arla grabbed the Jetti’s wrist, and twisted.
He cried out in pain, and Arla wrenched the bone harder so that it snapped. The lightsaber fell to the ground, and Arla punched the Jetti in the nose.
“Mercy! Please!” he begged.
“How many lives have you taken today?” Arla asked, pulling the Jetti closer. “Did you have mercy on them?”
Down on his knees like this, Arla realized he couldn’t be older than nineteen. The Jetti had tears in his eyes, but there was righteous anger there, too.
“You are animals. And you deserve to die like one.”
That was all Arla needed to hear. She grabbed the Jetti’s neck, and squeezed as hard as she could. His neck snapped under Arla’s grip just as his wrist had. She let the body slip to the ground.
Arla spun around, checking on Jango. It looked like he had it under control. Two of the Jettise were dead, and Jango had a lightsaber pointed at the remaining one.
Then she saw him. The man she hated more than anything else. Tor Vizsla was going after her brother.
Arla scooped up the abandoned lightsaber from the dirt, and she sprinted.
Mara saw Komari Vosa, and things began to slide into place. But her head was hurting too much to put all the pieces together.
Her head pounded, and her vision swam. The drugs were likely beginning to wear off, which meant the nausea was coming back in waves. The Force was screaming at her in pain and sorrow, doing nothing for her mental state. Yan’s death-grip on her brian hadn’t helped either.
Yan seemed to be calmer now, thank Manda. The darkness she had felt in him was abating. Or at least it was until Vosa showed up.
“I’m here to play a game. And I’m winning.”
“I have played enough of your games, Komari,” Yan snapped. “What have you done?”
Vosa’s smile was maniacal. There was nothing solid--nothing real behind her eyes. The real Komari Vosa was gone.
“I only showed you what you already know, Yan,” she said sweetly.
Beside her, Yan stiffened at the use of his first name. Mara realized with a start that they’d stepped closer to each other. They were now standing side by side, facing Vosa.
“The Republic is broken, and so are the Jedi,” Vosa sang.
“So, you engineered a slaughter between our people to prove a point?” Mara growled. “For what, revenge? Are you mad that I killed your sidekick, and my son stole your Master?”
The only way to get Vosa to make her move was to make her mad. It worked.
Vosa’s responding snarl was feral. Her hand shot out into open air, and Mara’s windpipe began to squeeze shut. The air traveling to her lungs slowed to a trickle.
“Xanatos was a foolish boy. And it was not your son who stole my rightful Master.”
“Release her, Komari,” Yan ordered.
The pressure on Mara’s throat increased.
Vosa smiled. “You were so close to understanding. She holds you back from your potential. Kill her, and we can have more power than anyone in the galaxy!”
Mara clawed at invisible fingers, gasping for oxygen. Her vision was going dark around the edges. She had to break the hold.
Mara reached out with the Force to break Vosa’s grip, but her own concentration was slipping away. She pressed against Vosa’s mind, but the attempt was too weak. Her focus was disappearing rapidly, along with the vision in her remaining eye. Her legs gave out underneath her, and her knees hit the ground. Her nails scratched futilely at her neck. It was no good. If she didn’t do something soon, she was as good as dead.
There was one more option.
This time when Mara reached out, she reached for the pit of comfortably swirling darkness near her center. It eagerly latched onto her outstretched hand. The sensation of burning gnawed through her skin as she touched it. She bit her tongue through the pain, and grabbed onto the darkness.
The world around her was getting fuzzy. The last flicker of light disappeared from her view, and the dizziness worsened.
Mara squeezed the darkness as hard as she could.
Just as she lost consciousness, she released the darkness at a single target: Komari Vosa’s mind.
Mara passed out listening to Vosa’s screams.
“Well, well,” Vizsla grinned. “If it isn’t little Fett and bitch Fett.”
Arla snarled, and Jango once again lifted the green saber.
Two Fetts against one Vizsla. It was almost even.
“Where’s your army, Vizsla?” Where’s your shu'shuk son?” Arla taunted.
“It was you, wasn’t it? You brought the Jettise here,” Jango accused.
“It was not my plan, but it was my privilege to carry it out,” Vizsla said with a mean smile. “Time to die, Fett. I am the true Mand’alor.”
“You can’t even rule your own ego!” Arla shot back.
Tor leapt at her, Darksaber raised.
A green beam of energy blocked it.
Arla lifted the blue lightsaber she’d nicked off the dead Jetti.
Black, blue, and green clashed wildly. Vizsla might be pretty good with a lightsaber, but he had never fought off more than one opponent who also had one.
Jango growled, letting his hate and rage build as he thought about everything this monster had done.
Nearly killing Mara.
Starting a war with the Jettise.
The list just kept going.
Tor Vizsla would die today, and it would be by a Fett’s hand.
Yan Dooku stared helplessly at the two women laying in the blood and dirt.
They had nearly destroyed each other, and he had done nothing but stand and watch.
Komari was still quietly sobbing and shaking.
How had it come to this?
Everyone in sight was leveled to the ground--dead, dying, or unconscious. He noticed two sets of torn and stained brown robes laying amongst the armour.
Dooku’s carefully constructed world crumbled around him.
Sifo-Dyas woke up to the sensation of being carried.
His shields lay in tatters, ripped to shreds by his visions again.
The Force was holding him aloft, and he recognized who carried him.
“Hush, old friend. You’ve had a violent vision. I’m taking you back home.”
Sifo-Dyas settled back into the safety of his mind, knowing that his friend would protect him.
It all happened too quickly.
Arla cut off Tor’s arm, and Jango swept his blade towards his head.
Tor Vizsla fell to the ground in three pieces.
“ No!” someone shouted.
Jango glanced up and frowned when he saw something silver hit Arla in the neck. Arla winced, and reached back to grab the piece of metal. It was a dart. She swayed on her feet, and Jango reached forward to catch her. His victory over Vizsla was momentarily forgotten in his worry for his big sister.
Then, something pinched at his neck. Everything went gray, and his legs turned to jelly. He hit the ground.
Someone grabbed a handful of his curly hair, and forced him to look up. Jango’s muscles groaned in protest at the strain on his neck. He looked up into the icy eyes of Pre Vizsla.
“Son of a Kryze,” Jango chuckled sleepily. Whatever was on that dart was working fast.
Pre’s fist connected with his jaw.
“You will pay for what you have done,” Pre growled. A light sparked in his eye. “No. Someone else will pay--for both of you.”
Jango’s eyes drifted closed, and he followed his sister into oblivion.
Yan Dooku switched the ship’s controls to automatic, and sat back in the pilot’s seat.
He ran a shaking hand through his greying hair.
This had all gone to hell.
He had seen barely a dozen Mandalorians left walking around when he’d snuck out with his passengers. He’d seen no Jedi at all.
He had left Mara where she’d fallen--surrounded by the remnants of her friends and family.
The darkness was no stranger to him. He’d seen death many times before. Even war did not shake him anymore. But this?
Galidraan was so full of darkness, the very Force shuddered with it.
Shakily, his hands rubbed across his face. When he pulled his hands away, they were stained with red.
Dooku’s fist clenched, and he jerked to his feet. He needed to meditate.
This all had to make sense somehow.
So, that got intense real quick. But hey! double-chapter today!
The governor lied about the color meanings. Red is for honoring a parent or leader, and green is for duty.
Chapter 8: I Sing A Ragged and Crooked Song
Back at it again on Galidraan.
This chapter is more like a aftermath/stopping point. There will definitely be more story to come, but this is the end of 'section one'.
Disclaimer: Palpatine is not, in fact, the Senate.
Haat Mando’ade Camp
Maa Miraal jerked awake, gulping in burning mouthfuls of air.
It took a long moment for the world to come into focus, and when it finally did, all of the nausea and pain came with it.
She sat up slowly, every muscle in her body aching. She couldn’t see through the right side of her visor, but that was normal, wasn’t it?
Her head hurt so very much. Was Kenobi here? He would be disappointed at her for getting hurt again, but then he would sigh and smile, and everything would be fine.
But, no...Kenobi was gone.
And so was Jaster.
Everything came back in one terrible wave. It was too much.
Mara ripped off her buy’ce and threw it as hard as she could. She bit her tongue and cursed at the intense pain the motion caused, but the pain in the Force was infinitely worse. The energy swirling around was dark, bleeding like an open wound into the Force.
Mara tried to struggle to her feet, but her muscles didn’t seem to be working properly. The world tilted. Her knees and hands hit dirt, and she threw up. The smell of it, and the stench of blood overwhelmed everything. She rolled to her side and stared up at the dimming sky.
“Miraal!” a voice distantly called. It came again, shouting her name over and over.
Mara rolled her head to the side to look. It was Myles. She tried to reply, but the words stuck in her throat. Luckily, he spotted her anyway.
“Miraal! Mara! You’re alive!” He helped her sit up. “Thank the ka’ra! I thought…”
He trailed off.
She got to her feet somehow. Myles and the Force supported her.
“The Jettise?” she asked. She had to know if Dooku and Vosa had escaped. “And what about Kyr’tsad?”
“Tor Vizsla is dead. Most of the Jettise, too.” Myles said succinctly. “We only found one Jetti, along with the kid you grabbed. The boy is still unconscious, but the other one is demanding to talk to the leader.”
Mara frowned at him. There was something he didn’t want to say.
“Jango and Arla...they’re missing.”
Mara stumbled. “What?”
“They went after Vizsla together. No one’s seen them since.”
She quickly searched through the Force. Even though neither of the Fett siblings were Force-sensitive, she should still be able to find them. But the Force was so clouded, she couldn’t feel them. Even Obi-Wan’s bright presence was dimmed.
“Can you...use your...thing to find them?” Myles asked hesitantly.
She shook her head. “I can’t feel them.”
She didn’t say anything for a long moment. In the absence of the Mand’alor...well, Mara supposed she was the Mand’alor. Another thing poked at her overworked mind.
Myles nodded. “Kryan found him and a couple of dead Jettise at the South border.”
“Let’s not cry over those who don’t deserve it,” she said bitterly. “Take me to the Jetti.”
“But Miraal, sir, you’re wounded!” Myles protested. “Let the Jetti stew for a while. You need to rest.”
“What I need is to do my shabla job.” She stood straight, putting her weight back on her own feet. She wobbled for a moment, but forced herself to stay upright. “Lead the way.”
Myles nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Orriss Massa growled in annoyance. How long did they expect him to wait? Didn’t these savages know prisoners of war had rights, too?
The seven Mandalorian guards standing in the small tent stayed abominably silent, doing nothing but irritating the Council Member even more.
Finally, the tent flap opened, and two figures strolled in. Massa stood, ready to complain about hsi treatment, but the words died before they left his mouth.
The woman’s face...half of it was just... gone .
His stomach lurched at the sight of blazing red skin, and an empty, scorched hollow where an eye should have been.
“Jedi Council Member Orriss Massa, by the laws of Mandalore, you have been found guilty of initiating an aggravated assault against our citizens and soldiers without warning or legal justification.” The woman spoke calmly and concisely, as if she were mentioning the time of day. “For this blatant act of attempted annihilation, and for your crimes against our people, you have been permanently branded an enemy of Mandalore. And, as you are a sitting Council member, you have effectively declared war against Mandalore on behalf of all Jedi.” Here, she dropped the soldier voice. “You attacked the wrong camp, Massa. The terrorists you were looking for were the Death Watch. Last night, an assassin got into our camp and murdered our leader. The assassin used a blue lightsaber.”
A coldness crept over Massa. No. She was lying. She had to be! The Jedi Council was never wrong.
“You’re lying,” he stated, lifting his chin. “There was no assassin. Your people are terrorists, and they deserved what they got.”
It must have been a trick of the light, but Massa could have sworn that for the briefest moment, the warrior’s eye flashed yellow. Then it was gone, and the stern, businesslike voice returned.
“You will be held here as a prisoner of war until the Jedi Council makes a decision regarding your punishment. If we do not like their definition of ‘punishment for war crimes’, we will be forced to mete out our own justice. And if the Jedi Council decides to pursue your declaration of war against us, rest assured that we will not be taking prisoners in the future.”
She stepped to the exit, and paused, glancing back. “And tell Yoda that Mara Miraal says his buir shabs lyy’nok.”
From the other Mandalorians’ chuckles, Massa could tell the statement was an insult. But the warrior’s name is what sent him through a loop. Mara Miraal! Of course he hadn’t recognized her at first, but now, he couldn’t think of anything else. She was Padawan Kenobi’s mother!
He stared at her retreating back, unable to comprehend the full weight of her statements.
Perhaps the Council had made a slight miscalculation. Yes, that was it! Or maybe the governor of Galidraan had given them the wrong coordinates!
As he rushed to come up with excuses, Massa willingly and blindly placed the blame anywhere it seemed to fit. There was an explanation, and he would be sure to get this whole thing cleared up quickly. Although, if any of Miraal’s allegations were true, wouldn’t the first Mandalorian warrior have informed him of the error?
Was it really the Jedi’s fault at all?
Padawan Yuzal Orann rubbed his head and sat up with a groan.
The first thing he noticed was the Force. It was crying.
The second thing he noticed was his recently-formed bond with Master D’Quan, or rather, the lack of one. He had been Master D’Quan’s padawan only a couple of months, so it hadn’t been a strong bond, like some of his friends had with their masters. But the raw, severed end of the connection still ached badly. Master D’Quan was dead, and as far as Yuzal could tell, he was stuck on a planet with no other Jedi.
The eleven-year-old swung his legs over the side of the cot, and attempted to stand up. His wrist stayed where it was. With a frown, Yuzal glanced back, and realized that he was cuffed to the edge of the cot. He hurriedly looked around for his lightsaber, but it was nowhere in sight. He was defenseless.
The tent flap was pushed to the side, and Yuzal jumped back on the cot. The only thing within reach was a medical tool of some kind, so he grabbed that, and brandished it forward like a weapon.
A tall Mandalorian walked in. He had his helmet tucked under his arm, revealing dark hair, and a pair of tired eyes. Yuzal startled at how... normal he looked.
The man glanced at the metal stick-thing Yuzal was holding.
“You’re holding that wrong,” he said lightly.
Yuzal blinked at him, not saying anything. The man didn’t sound dangerous.
“You feeling alright, kid? You got a bad bump on your head,” the man said, sounding almost sincere. But Master D’Quan and Master Massa told him not to trust Mandalorians.
“I feel fine,” he replied, and it was almost the truth. His head hurt, but the pain he felt through the Force was a lot worse.
“Good,” the Mandalorian nodded. “Are you hungry? I’ve got some ration bars. They might be stale, though.”
Yuzal continued staring at him. First, he wanted to know if he was alright, and now he was offering him food? Maybe this was all a trick. Maybe they wanted him to give up all the Jedi’s secrets. Fat chance.
But on the other hand, Yuzal was starving. He nodded warily.
The Mandalorian reached into his pack, and pulled out two ration bars. He held the bars out in one hand, and stretched out the other, palm-up. Yuzal slowly relinquished his weapon, and grabbed the food.
He was right. They were stale.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“Yuzal,” he said around a mouthful of dry rations. “Padawan Yuzal Orann. Who are you?”
He didn’t know what possessed him to ask that, but it felt like the polite thing to do.
Yuzal didn’t take his eyes off of him. All those stories he’d heard about Mandalorians attacking innocent civilians… There had to be some truth in them somewhere.
Yuzal gulped. “Are you going to kill me, Mr. Tierren?”
Mr. Tierren stared at him in disbelief. “Of course not! I’m the one who...well, I’m the one that brought you here.”
“You...saved my life?” Yuzal frowned. The last thing he remembered was helping Master D’Quan fight a Mandalorian, then all of a sudden he was flying through the air. Had Mr. Tierren stopped the other Mandalorian from killing him? “I’m a Jedi. Why did you do that?”
“You’re a kid!” Mr. Tierren exclaimed. He scuffed his boots in the dirt. “And I didn’t really save your life. You would have been fine, but I didn’t want to leave you out in the woods.”
“But I thought all Mandalorians hated Jedi. I thought you stole children and brainwashed them.”
“That would be the Death Watch you’re thinking of. I’m part of the Haat Mando’ade, the True Mandalorians. ” Mr. Tierren suddenly felt sad. “Or, at least I was. There’s not really enough of us left…”
Yuzal balked at the sheer amount of pain and sorrow radiating off of Mr. Tierren. He was the cause of it--he and the rest of the Jedi.
Wait, if there were two groups of Mandalorians on Galidraan...
“We came here to stop the Death Watch, didn’t we?” Yuzal asked, wide eyed.
Mr. Tierren shrugged. “I don’t know. But that seems likely.”
Yuzal fell silent. They attacked the wrong Mandalorians. But Master Massa and Master Sifo-Dyas were on the Council! They couldn’t have made such a big mistake! But a single look at Mr. Tierren, and Yuzal knew he was telling the truth.
Yuzal frowned. He had to be sure. “So, if you’re one of the good guys, I’m allowed to leave?”
Yuzal glanced sideways at the handcuffs keeping him chained to the cot. Technically, he could break them with the Force, but he wanted to see what Mr. Tierren would do.
“Oh. Right,” Mr. Tierren said apologetically. “Sorry about that. I didn’t want you to run away and end up getting hurt worse.”
He removed the handcuffs and hooked them onto his belt.
Yuzal rubbed his wrists. “So, what now?”
“Well, I think Miraal is talking to the other Jetti right about now. You might be able to get back to Coruscant faster than you think.”
That was good news, wasn’t it?
But Yuzal couldn’t get it out of his mind. He had tried to kill somebody--somebody innocent. What did that make him?
Adonai Kryze read the news in the morning, just like anybody else.
He sat at the breakfast table with a cup of fresh caf, and a datapad. Satine and Bo-Katan were on their way to school, and Myyri was making a list of supplies they needed. Altogether, it was a normal morning or the Kryze family.
He pulled up Mando Monthly , and settled in to hear the most recent news. Barely one sentence in, Adonai froze, caf stopping halfway to his mouth.
What the holocolumn said about Galidraan…
It couldn’t be true.
Scores of men and women...slaughtered for no reason.
“Myyri,” Adonai called. “Have you read the news this morning?”
“No.” Myyri replied. “What has Tor Vizsla done now?”
Adonai shook his head. “It wasn’t Vizsla this time.”
Myyri stuck her head in the room. “Then who?”
He was about to reply, when someone knocked on the front door. Adonai set down the datapad, and went to answer it.
He was not expecting who waited for him when he pulled the door open.
“Colonel Miraal?” Adonai said, baffled by the infamous warrior’s presence. “To what do I owe…”
Miraal interrupted him.
“We need to talk, Kryze.”
Komari Vosa awoke in a bar on Corellia.
Her shields were shattered, and her mental state was irreversibly damaged.
Without a weapon or the mental capacity to defend herself, she soon found herself in possession of some unsavory characters.
Money changed hands, and she was carted off.
Then, as it sank in, she began to laugh--loud and unrestrained. The sound was manic and broken. She finally had what she wanted.
She giggled all the way to Kessel.
After a quick detour, Yan Dooku and Sifo-Dyas landed on Coruscant three days after they’d left.
Within an hour of that, they were standing in front of the Council, giving their report. As he was still partially out-of-commission, Sifo-Dyas let Dooku take the lead. He thankfully didn’t say anything when Dooku left out a part here and there.
Komari’s involvement was exposed, as well as the governor’s place in the plot, but Dooku wasted no time in placing a large part of the blame on Orriss Massa, Sifo-Dyas, and himself. The Council dismissed both of them, so they could continue discussing the situation at length. Sifo-Dyas headed for the Halls of Healing, and Dooku made it back to his and Obi-Wan’s rooms.
With a glass of Corellian brandy in his hand, Dooku sat on the sofa, and thought. He wondered if he’d done wrong by lying to a Council that was so deeply flawed.
The next day, both Masters were called back to stand in front of the Council. A recorded transmission had come from Mandalore.
Three figures stood in the flickering blue hologram. Orriss Massa looked as though he’d eaten something sour, which was a normal expression for him. But Mara...
Dooku stared into Mara’s empty eye-socket in shock. Whose lightsaber had inflicted the damage? Dooku forced his mind to return t the recording.
“ Greetings, Grandmaster Yoda and members of the Jedi Council, ” the unknown figure began. “I am Duke Adonai Kryze, chosen Jord’alor of the New Mandalorians.”
“I am Mara Miraal, Acting Mand’alor of the True Mandalorians, ” Mara stated coolly.
Dooku frowned. Why was she the Acting Mand’alor? Where were Jaster Mereel and Jango Fett? Was it possible both were dead?
“Yesterday morning at approximately 0700 hours, you dispatched a force of Jedi warriors to Galidraan under false information given to you by Governor Shelsanna, ” Duke Kryze stated.
“ These Jedi, under your authorization, launched an assault against an encampment of True Mandalorians without warning or reasonable cause, ” Mara continued.
Together, the two leaders outlined everything that happened on Galidraan. When they finished, they set forth an ultimatum.
In order to keep all-out war from breaking out, the Jedi were prohibited from entering or interfering in any and all Mandalorian affairs in the future.
Along with banning the Jedi from Mandalore, Mara demanded Massa be dealt with severely by the Jedi, or he would be punished by Mandalorian law.
The recording cut out, and the Council chambers were left in silence.
“If we leave Master Massa with the Mandalorians, we sign his death warrant,” Yarael Poof said finally.
Yoda nodded. “Deal with him ourselves, we will.”
“But what’s to be done?” Windu asked. “How can we begin to make reparation for our mistake?”
Dooku barely refrained from growling. “Mistake? Two hundred men and women wiped out alongside a dozen Jedi, and you call it a mistake?”
“Exactly,” broke in, Ki-Adi Mundi. “Fourteen Jedi were killed, and they have one still held hostage. Should we not be making demands of our own?”
Both Dooku and Mace Windu gave the Cerean a look of disbelief.
“We were the aggressors in this, Master Mundi,” Plo Koon countered.
Yoda harrumphed. “Assistance, the Mandalorians do not want. Retribution, they seek.”
Dooku stamped down a surge of anger at his old Master. Did Yoda truly believe Mandalorians had no sense of pride? Of honor and justice?
The Council session ended soon after, thank the Force, and Dooku headed straight back to his rooms and to his padawan.
Obi-Wan was due back from Ryloth at any moment. Dooku poured himself another large helping of brandy. He had no clue as to how he was going to tell Obi-Wan what truly happened.
Jango woke up chained to a wall. Every muscle ached.
“...strong, too. And fairly attractive, if your client is looking for something more...personal.”
Jango’s ears burned, and he knew immediately what sort of situation he was in.
He looked around furiously for Arla, but none of the other prisoners looked remotely familiar.
No. Not prisoners, his mind corrected. Slaves.
The very idea rankled him to his soul. He was a slave.
If ever he saw Pre Vizsla again, he would take it out of the welp’s hide. He only hoped Arla wasn’t in the same situation.
Orriss Massa was returned to Coruscant, accompanied by a full-armed Mandalorian guard and a formal written copy of the new agreement. It was signed by both Jord’alor Adonai Kryze and Mand’alor Mara Miraal.
Along with the disgruntled Master Massa came a box of lightsabers. Fourteen lightsabers, to be exact. If nothing else, Mace Windu had to respect the Mandalorians’ honor and honesty.
They held services for those that had joined the Force, and afterwards, the Council convened once again.
It was a near-unanimous decision to evict Massa from his Council seat. Massa took it remarkably well, all things considered. He only lost his temper twice.
And due to other complications, another Council seat was soon abandoned. Master Sifo-Dyas was found mentally and emotionally unfit to lead, and so his seat passed to Jocasta Nu.
Things were changing, and Mace Windu began to reflect that not all change was good.
Far away on Muunilinst, two figures plotted. Plans were changed and reconfigured.
Master and Apprentice schemed in the Dark. And soon, they had a new plan for Mandalore.
If anyone is confused, there were seventeen Jedi on Galidraan. Dooku, Sifo-Dyas, Yuzal, and Massa were the only survivors. There is a good reason why the Jedi never mentioned Yuzal, but more on that later.
Comments and Kudos are always appreciated.
Chapter 9: A Shadow Dressed In Skin and Bones
Part Two begins. There is a pretty big gap between the last chapter and this one, so don’t let it confuse you.
Finally, the real plot begins to show up.
Disclaimer: The snozzberries may or may not actually taste like snozzberries.
For nearly five years, Master Yan had been Obi-Wan’s Master, and the man was still just as much of a mystery as he had been since the beginning.
The Council’s summons had come through less than ten minutes ago. Obi-Wan was looking forward to the possibility of a new mission, but the closer they got to the Council chambers, the more Obi-Wan could feel Master Yan’s unease growing through the Force.
“You seem on edge,” Obi-Wan said finally. “Is everything alright?”
“Not as such,” his Master replied. “I have a slight suspicion I know where the Council wishes to send us, and what task they want us to undertake.”
“Is it that bad?” Obi-Wan asked, already beginning to dread being sent into another situation like Corellia.
“I would call it at the very least, ill-advised.”
Obi-Wan frowned. Neither he nor Master Yan trusted the Council as much as they once had, but it was strange to hear him openly say something against the Council. (It was most often hidden in subtext.) It must be bad if Master Yan didn’t agree with the Council before they even knew what the mission was yet.
With Dooku as his Master, Obi-Wan had become quite adept at the fine arts of verbal and mental warfare. False politeness, and learning to talk without ever saying anything were also parts of his lessons, along with a rigorous regimen of lightsaber training. The last of which, Obi-Wan enjoyed immensely. He excelled at both Soresu and Makashi, to Master Yan’s delight and his Buir’s disappointment. Their verbal spars were getting as intricate and challenging as their lightsaber duels.
Obi-Wan’s mind wandered to the upcoming assignment, wondering what kind of mission could make Master Yan so tense and uneasy.
They continued the rest of the way to the Council chambers in comfortable silence.
“We’ve received a transmission from Mandalore, asking for our assistance,” Master Windu stated bluntly.
Master Yan stiffened. Obi-Wan stared blankly at the Council members.
“Unless I am not mistaken, the Jedi were banned from the Mandalore System over two years ago.”
“Correct, you are,” Yoda said. “But from Duke Kryze, this request is.”
Immediately, Obi-Wan’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, but he let Master Yan do the talking.
“The Jord’alor requested Jedi assistance less than three years after the disaster of Galidraan, and the Council does not think it a trap?” Master Yan asked, voicing Obi-Wan’s doubts.
Ki-Adi Mundi leaned forward in his seat. “Duke Kryze asked for your presence specifically. He felt it would go over better with his people, given both of your relationships with the current Mand’alor. I am inclined to agree with him.”
That definitely sounded like a trap to Obi-Wan. No one on Mandalore knew that Mara Miraal’s son was a Jedi. The people would never have let her lead if they’d known.
“Was there a reason given for our presence?” Master Yan asked.
“The terrorist organization Death Watch has made threats against the Duke’s family, and he wishes a Jedi’s presence to ensure their safety,” Master Windu replied.
Obi-Wan had to say something. “Masters, wouldn’t it be wiser to send another pair of Jedi, such as Masters Tahl and Jinn? They both understand Mandalorian culture, and neither were involved at Galidraan.”
“And, as it stands, Mand’alor Miraal may trust the two of them more than she would trust me,” Master Yan continued tersely.
Obi-Wan mentally winced. He knew his Master’s feelings towards his buir were...complicated. Ever since Galidraan, it had gotten worse. Obi-Wan missed his Buir terribly, but he knew Master Yan did too.
Yoda shook his head. “Send you, we must. No others, the Duke permitted.”
Master Yan nodded tightly. “Very well. We will leave in three hours.”
He bowed to the Council, and all but stormed out of the room. Obi-Wan quickly bowed to the Council as well, and hurried after him.
Since his growth spurt last year, Obi-Wan no longer had to run to keep up with his Master’s wide strides.
“It has to be a trap, doesn’t it?”
Master Yan didn’t answer directly. “Pack everything you will need, and meet me in hangar four.”
Knowing he wasn’t going to get a real reply in the immediate future, Obi-Wan ran off ahead to his rooms to get everything packed.
He pushed open the door to his and Master Yan’s suite, and headed right for his room.
He eagerly threw two sets of robes and a couple of datapads into a bag. He also grabbed the little mythosaur necklace Buir had given him for his sixteenth birthday. He slipped it on over his head, and tucked it safely under his robes. Slinging his bag over his shoulder, Obi-Wan headed for the Temple’s hangars. Master Yan was waiting for him there.
“Are we really going to Mandalore?” Obi-Wan asked. Even if it ended up being a trap, he was still excited to finally get to visit his homeworld.
“Not yet,” Master Yan replied. “There is some information yet to be found.”
Something in the Force was brewing, waiting to happen.
The inside of Didi’s Café was the same as it had always been.
Obi-Wan slid into a booth, ready for some good food before a long journey. Master Yan sat next to him rather than across from him.
“Are we meeting someone?” Obi-Wan whispered.
Master Yan nodded.
The front door swung open, and two very familiar figures strolled in.
Tahl and Qui-Gon were still the closest friends he had that were older than him. Master Yan heartily approved of Tahl, but less so of Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan, however, was both amused and awed by his brother-padawan. Qui-Gon always had the best stories. It was never boring whenever he was involved.
Master Tahl smiled at Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan smiled and waved back, even though he knew she couldn’t really see him. Qui-Gon didn’t seem as pleased to see them. Together, Qui-Gon and Tahl slid into the seats across from Obi-Wan and Master Yan.
“We heard about the Council’s version of a good idea,” Qui-Gon grumbled. “It’s ridiculous! The Mandalorians don’t want us there! Much less you, no offense.”
Master Yan’s head tilted. “None taken. I quite agree with you. Something about this does not bode well.”
“But how can we be sure the Duke’s request is not legitimate?” Tahl asked.
Just then, the famous Didi of Didi’s Café strolled up to the table.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite Jedi!” he said with a grin.
Half the café turned around to stare.
Obi-Wan grinned at the café owner. “Hello, Didi.”
“What are we celebrating today?” Didi asked, pulling up a chair.
“Not celebrating. Plotting,” Qui-Gon corrected darkly.
“We’re headed for Mandalore,” Tahl said. “Happen to know anything about the situation there?”
Didi rubbed his chin. “Bad business, going to Mandalore. The people and the politics are unstable, and directing all their pent-up feelings at the Jedi. The Duke and Mand’alor argue over everything, or so I hear. Most of the Mandos want to drive off the New Mandalorians entirely,” he finished, shaking his head. “Not a good place to be. I’d pass it off to someone else if I were you.”
“Can’t,” Obi-Wan stated. “We were picked specifically.”
“Hmm,” Didi muttered. “Sounds like someone’s setting a trap for you.”
“Exactly. Which is why we came here first.” Qui-Gon leaned forward. “Tahl and I are already sneaking along without the Council’s permission, and we’ve got one...sympathetic Mando on-planet.”
Didi nodded. “Good. I’m sorry I don’t have any real information, but better stay on your guard.”
Didi left to take care of the other customers, and the four Jedi planned.
It was a group agreement for them to leave in separate ships and not arrive together. That way they would have the assurance of a backup team, and no potential enemies would know their true numbers.
When they’d come up with a half-way decent plan, they paid for their meal and stepped outside.
Qui-Gon hesitantly reached for Tahl’s hand, and she took it firmly. Qui-Gon glanced back at the two of them. Master Yan was too polite to roll his eyes, but Obi-Wan wasn’t.
“There’s no Council-snitches here,” Obi-Wan sighed exasperatedly.
Qui-Gon smirked, and pulled Tahl closer to his side.
Dooku and Obi-Wan shared a look. Their friends were obviously in love, it was nauseating.
As they walked down the street, Obi-Wan thought about Mandalore. His home planet was only stories and legends to him. What would it really be like to walk through Keldabe and talk to the people who knew his parents? Would they even want to talk to a Jedi?
The four friends headed for Mandalore, leaving all chances of a normal future behind them.
Mara stormed through the palace.
A few helmeted figures stopped to stare, but none of them dared to step in and ask where she was going in such a rage.
She stomped up to the ornate doors of Adonai Kryze’s personal office and library, and shoved them open with a Force-push.
The doors swung open, slamming against the wall with a loud bang! Adonai jumped up, hand reaching under his desk to where Mara knew a blaster was hidden.
“Tell me you didn’t,” Mara demanded.
Adonai relaxed, but didn’t move his hand from under the desk. “Didn’t what?”
“I’m going to give you one chance to deny it. Did you, or did you not contact the Jedi Council?”
Adonai’s jaw clenched, and Mara knew.
“You did,” she stated angrily. “I trusted you, Adonai. I thought, despite your strill-brained ideologies, that we wanted the same thing for Mandalore. And you throw it all away? For what?!”
His quiet reply halted her tirade.
“They killed Myyri.” His voice was soft, broken. It was so far from the shouting and ridiculous insults they flung at each other. Mara felt some of the anger drain out of her.
Myyri, Adonai’s wife, was murdered three weeks ago. Everyone knew it was Death Watch, but there was no proof, and no evidence.
But if Adonai thought asking the Jedi for help would solve anything...
“Adonai, she’s gone,” she pointed out as gently as she could. “Bringing in the Jedi is only going to make things worse. They won’t be able to do anything but cause more trouble.”
“They threatened the girls,” he said suddenly.
Mara blinked. “What?”
“For the past week, I’ve been getting anonymous threats. This came last night.”
He handed her a red-stained piece of flimsi.
Time is up, Kryze. Your wife was just a warning. Your laws will destroy Mandalore. Get
out with your family while you still have a chance.
Mara looked back up at Adonai in surprise. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”
Adonai refused to meet her eye. “I didn’t know who to trust. Not many outside of the New Mandalorians believe in my policies.”
Mara fought very hard not to get angry. The Force liked hanging around her--especially the Dark, and it had been itching for action of late.
“Do you really believe I would ever help the Watch?” Her voice came out as more of a growl than she meant. “After what they’ve done? After what Tor Vizsla did?”
He didn’t look sorry for the accusation. “My family comes first, Mara. I know your hatred for the Jedi and the Watch better than most. Grudges and hostilities are not what Mandalore needs right now.”
“This was supposed to be a new start, Adonai. A partnership. The wars are behind us, and after we quelled Kyr’tsad, Mandalore would have peace for the first time in generations.” Mara shook her head. “But by calling in the Jedi, you have made a wealth of new enemies. I am not one of them. I understand that Bo and Satine’s safety is important, but your duty to your people is imperative. They trusted you, and you have put that in jeopardy.”
“Mandalore is getting restless. Our people are a warring people. We need a common productive goal to unite them,” Adonai sighed deeply. “I thought it would get better if we banded them against Death Watch, but it hasn’t worked.”
“Give them time,” Mara argued. “Let them have their freedoms. You make the laws and tell them what to do, but you have to make them want to follow you. Loyalty is worth more than the prospect of another fight.”
“You’re their Mand’alor,” Adonai argued back. “They would follow you anywhere. I am the intruder.”
“Our culture accepts everything and everybody. That’s the point!” Mara nearly shouted. She was getting tired of this same argument they’d had at least a dozen times. “But you have to accept Mandalore before she accepts you! No one likes new people coming in and setting up their own government!”
A knock sounded on the open library door, and both Adonai and Mara whirled on the intruder. The New Mandalorian aide cleared his throat awkwardly.
“Pardon me, Jord’alor. The Jedi are in orbit. They should be landing in half an hour.”
“Thank you,” Adonai nodded.
The aide left, and he turned back to Mara.
“I asked the Jedi to come to protect my family. Get over your vendetta against them, and accept that.” He stood tall. “It is time to end Death Watch once and for all. If you cannot see that the Jedi are the only way to accomplish that, then perhaps this partnership is no longer beneficial.”
He strolled to the door.
Mara’s voice halted his steps. “The Mando’ade would follow you if you gave them half a chance.” She walked to him. “But you cannot trust the Jedi. A Mandalorian never forgets, but a Jedi forgets too easily.”
She walked past him, heading to her room. If she was going to meet the Jedi, she needed her buy’ce. Let the politicians hide behind smiles and words. She needed only her helmet.
There were things Adonai Kryze knew. Things that Mara Miraal did not know he knew.
At the beginning of their shaky alliance, Adonai had deemed it wise to do some research on his new co-ruler.
There wasn’t much to go on. But there were a few pieces of information that Adonai had managed to uncover during his search. Namely, that Mara had a son. Most believed that the child died along with Kenobi, but Adonai had unearthed a single detail. A single, tiny detail that revealed the truth.
Mara’s son was alive, and being trained as a Jedi.
Once Adonai had put the missing pieces together, he extended his search to Mara herself.
The name Mara was fairly common on Mandalore. Clan Miraal was a good deal smaller than it used to be, and even Mara’s acclaimed maiden name of Dredan seemed to have died out generations ago. Adonai had his suspicions about Mara possibly being an ex-Jedi, but there were no records. In fact, there were no records of any Mara Dredan anywhere from before twenty years ago. It was as if she didn’t exist before Kenobi Miraal brought her here--back to her ‘home planet’.
Yes, there was definitely something going on--something that Mara was hiding. And Adonai was pretty sure he wouldn’t like it when he found out.
Qui-Gon didn’t like it.
He didn’t like the planet, he didn’t like the people, and he especially didn’t like the plan.
“Qui-Gon, why aren’t we landing closer to the city?” Obi-Wan asked.
He really liked Obi-Wan, but sometimes…
“The Duke sent us another message while you were daydreaming, Obi-Wan,” he sighed. “The Duke’s daughters have been moved to a safehouse. We’re going there to protect them.”
“But they think only two of us came,” Obi-Wan frowned. “We haven’t even landed, and they’re already splitting us up? Something’s not right.”
Qui-Gon hated to admit it, but his brother-padawan was correct.
“We can handle ourselves, and so can Tahl and Dooku. The Force will be with us.”
He could tell Obi-Wan wasn’t convinced, but the Living Force would show them the way. It always did.
From the coordinates the Duke had sent, Qui-Gon managed to find the safehouse. He landed the two-person ship in front of the house with ease.
A man stepped out to meet them.
“You are the Jedi the Duke requested?” the man asked.
Qui-Gon nodded. “I am Knight Qui-Gon Jinn, and this is Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
The man bowed slightly. “An honor, Master Jedi. I am Almec. Although, I thought Duke Kryze said only one Jedi would be coming to protect the young heiresses.”
“Yes. There was a slight change of plans. We were sent to protect the young ladies, and the others are headed to the palace to protect the Duke.”
It wasn’t quite the truth, but no one needed to know that.
Almec welcomed them into the little house. Two young girls greeted them when they entered. Both were wearing blasters. The oldest, as blonde-haired as her father, looked to be about sixteen. The younger had fiery red hair, and a scowl that looked out of place on her little face.
“Ladies,” Qui-Gon bowed. “A pleasure to meet you. I am Qui-Gon Jinn.”
“Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Obi-Wan rushed, forgetting to bow in favor of staring at the older girl.
The older daughter tilted her head slightly, eyes on Obi-Wan. “Satine Kryze, at your service,” she said politely.
She offered her hand first to Qui-Gon, then to Obi-Wan. She had a firm handshake, which Qui-Gon appreciated. He stuck his hand out towards the younger girl. She pointedly ignored it. Satine elbowed her sister.
“Bo-Katan,” the little girl grumbled.
“It’s an honor to meet both of you,” Obi-Wan stumbled.
“We don’t need no Jettise to protect us,” Bo-Katan mumbled. “I know how to shoot a blaster.”
Qui-Gon pretended not to hear that comment, and glanced over to Obi-Wan. He and Satine seemed to be entrenched in a staring contest.
Almec bowed to Qui-Gon. “Good luck, Master Jedi. I’ll be heading back to Sundari to assist the Duke.”
He headed out the door with all possible haste before Qui-Gon could open his mouth to protest.
Qui-Gon heaved a sigh, and glanced back at the three children he was stuck with. Obi-Wan was attempting to talk to Satine. The amount of awkwardness radiating off of his brother-padawan was enough to make him cringe.
Bo-Katan was staring up at him with a narrow-eyed scowl.
He was beginning to wish he’d gone with Dooku.
Chapter 10: Weave Our Story In A Worthless Yarn
More plot with some filler/fluff! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Pumpkin spice is overrated.
“You know, Yan, I get the distinct feeling we’re not wanted here.”
Despite the situation, Dooku felt a small smile twitch at the corner of his lips. Master Tahl was a galactic treasure, and Qui-Gon had never done a single thing to deserve her.
“I do believe you’re right, Tahl,” he replied in the same light tone.
The four Mandalorians blocking their entrance to the palace snarled.
“Keep quiet. Just because his high-and-mightiness wanted you here, it doesn’t mean you’re welcome to stay.”
“He says we’re not welcome,” Tahl said in a stage-whisper. Dooku played along.
“Oh dear. I suppose that means we’ll have to take all that alcohol back to Coruscant with us.”
Tahl nodded along sadly. “I’m afraid so. What are Jedi like us going to do with all that tihaar and ale?”
One of the Mandos stepped forward. “Well, I think me and my vode can find someplace safe to keep it all for you.”
“Yeah, we’ll take good care of it, until you’re finished talking to the Jord’alor at least,” another chuckled.
Dooku smirked to himself. It was working.
“How kind of you,” Tahl said, falsely grateful.
“Don’t hurry back on our account,” the first Mando called. They were already heading to the Jedi shuttle Dooku and Tahl had arrived in.
The two of them walked the rest of the way to the palace in peace, and with a shake of his head, Dooku reflected that most Mandalorians had one-track minds.
The unarmoured man standing at the front gate, took a look at their robes, and waved them in. Apparently, not everyone here detested them.
“The Duke is expecting you,” the man said politely.
So far, so good.
The man led them through the palace. A few stopped by to stare, but they continued, undeterred through the pale marble walls. The throne room was right ahead.
As they neared the door, Tahl slipped her arm in Dooku’s, as though he were leading her.
“Better to let them think of me as helpless,” she explained quietly.
The two guards standing at the door said nothing as the two Jedi walked past them into the grand room.
Aside from the man who had escorted them, there were only two figures in the room. Dooku’s sure footing stumbled slightly at the sight of the one on the left. Even after nearly three years of no real communication, the image of that battle-worn black and blue armour was enough to make his chest tighten.
She stood beside the Duke, her hands crossed in front of her, standing in a strict military stance. Her helmet covered the damage Dooku knew was there.
She didn’t outwardly recognize either of them, even in the Force. Not even a flicker of emotion slipped past her shields. If it weren’t for the slight flexing of her fist, Dooku would have thought she was asleep or meditating.
Duke Kryze stepped forward. “An honor to meet you, Master Dooku. Welcome to Sundari.”
Dooku bowed slightly. “I will admit, a welcome is not what I was expecting after my last encounter with your people, Your Grace.”
Again, Dooku saw Mara’s fist clench. So she was still mad at him, then.
“You are welcomed by my family and I at least,” the Duke continued, holding his hand out to Tahl.
She didn’t take it, keeping up the ruse that she was blind and helpless. Well, the blind part was true, but she could still ‘see’ with the Force. Dooku replied for her.
“This is Jedi Master Tahl. She is far more skilled at negotiating than I.” And it was the truth.
Now, Tahl held out her hand. The Duke lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to her knuckles without hesitation. A true gentleman, then.
“It is an honor to make your acquaintance, Duke Kryze,” Tahl said with a faraway smile.
“Likewise, Master Tahl,” the Duke replied with a smile of his own.
A sudden feeling of amusement brushed past Dooku’s senses. Dooku’s gaze snapped to Mara, but then the feeling was gone. She had deliberately sent a wave of familiar amusement to Tahl! Hmmph! At least she wasn’t mad at Qui-Gon’s paramour.
Why should she be mad at her? A traitorous voice in his head whispered. Tahl didn’t slaughter dozens of Mara’s friends.
Duke Kryze was talking, and Dook dragged his attention back to the present.
“...an hour until supper, but first,” he gestured to Mara. Mara begrudgingly stepped closer. “I’d like you to meet the other half of Mandalore’s ruling system; Warrior Mara Miraal.”
This time, Tahl held her hand out first, and Mara shook it.
“A pleasure to meet you Master Tahl.”
A jolt of relieved surprise came from the Duke. Apparently, he hadn’t expected Mara to act civilized either.
Mara extended her hand to Dooku, and he took it.
“Master Dooku,” she stated flatly.
Immediately, it felt as though his hand were in a metal vise. He didn’t give her the satisfaction of seeing him wince. Mara gave his hand one more hard squeeze, and released it. Dooku fought the instinct to cradle his injured appendage to his chest.
Another flash of amusement flitted through the Force. This time, it came from Tahl.
“Orant will show you to your rooms,” Mara said, gesturing to the man that led them here.
Tahl bowed lightly, and both Jedi followed Orant from the throne room.
Dooku let his thoughts run rampant on the way to their temporary living places.
Mara was still furious at him, if his aching hand was anything to go by. She hadn't even removed her helmet. Maybe she would keep it on throughout supper, just to spite him. He supposed he deserved it, but this was getting ridiculous!
Tahl chuckled, and Dooku realized he’d let that last part slip through his shields.
Orant stopped at a set of doors, and Dooku and Tahl continued past.
“Thank you,” Tahl smiled.
Orant bowed, and left.
Dooku glanced around the guest quarters. They were grand indeed.
“Are we to change for dinner, do you think?” Tahl asked.
“I don’t suppose our hosts will mind either way,” Dooku replied noncommittally.
Tahl chuckled again, and Dooku turned to her.
“What is it?”
“Oh, nothing,” Tahl smirked. “Just the childishness of middle-aged Humans.”
Adonai whirled on her. “What was that?!” he demanded. “I was almost pleased that you were being civil, and then you try to crush Master Dooku’s hand!”
“I wasn’t going to be rude to Master Tahl, ” Mara argued petulantly. “
Adonai crossed his arms. “Oh, so assaulting Dooku was alright?”
“He was at Galidraan!” Mara shouted.
“I know. I asked him to come specifically because of that,” he said calmly, preparing for her outburst.
“ What!?” The chandeliers shook. “ You. Invited. Him?!”
Adonai sighed. It wasn’t as if he invited the Jedi who took her eye out. Or the one who killed Jaster Mereel.
He froze. Had he? Maybe that’s why she hated that one so much. Mara never spoke about Galidraan unless they were arguing.
Dooku could very well have been the Jedi that almost killed her.
“I thought it might mend some bridges,” he defended.
“Mend? Vod, you just burned the last bridge you had with the Mando’ade! Do you have any idea what will happen when it gets out exactly which Jedi you brought to Manda’yaim?”
Mara’s shout made Adonai flinch. She had never called him ‘brother’ before, and she only said it now because she was furious at him.
She turned on her heel and stormed out.
“Are you coming to dinner?” he called after her.
“Oh, you can bet I’m coming!” she shouted, not glancing back.
Adonai sighed tiredly. The most he could hope for was that she wouldn’t wear her lightsabers to the table.
Bo-Katan glared up at the big Jetti.
He had a nice smile, but that only put her more on guard. Auntie Mara always told them to never trust the Jettise.
The most interesting things about them were their lightsabers. Bo’s fingers itched to get ahold of one. Ba’vodu Mara never let her touch her red sabers, and Bo really wanted to see what all a lightsaber could cut through.
Satine was talking to the Jetti boy, and Bo could tell she was getting as irritated with the Jettise as Bo already was. They were almost yelling now.
Good. No reason to get chummy with people you might have to kill later on. Finally, Satine huffed, and stormed off. She stomped into the kitchen area, slamming the door behind her. The big Jetti rolled his eyes, and went after her.
The Jetti boy sighed and sat next to Bo.
“ Haark dalyc, ” the Jetti swore, to Bo’s surprise. How did he know Mando’a? “No offense, but your sister is very...zealous in her beliefs.”
“At least Satine has beliefs,” Bo muttered, willing him to go away. “ Aruetti besom .”
“Please don’t start,” the Jetti sighed. “I know you and your sister don’t want me here. I’d rather not be on this side of the planet either.”
Bo huffed and hugged her knees to her chest. “It’s all your fault. Stupid Jettise. If I were older, I’d challenge Pre Vizsla to a fight. Then everyone would leave us alone.”
“I take it you don’t agree with your sister’s more peaceful views?” the Jetti asked lightly.
Bo scoffed. “Obviously not. A good blaster’s better than any fancy words.”
“I’m inclined to both agree and disagree,” the Jetti said. “Weapons have their place, but sometimes the best way to end an argument is by talking it out.”
“Yeah. You can ask the bad guys to please stop, while they stab you in the back.”
“Ah, but that’s why I have this,” the Jetti patted his lightsaber. “It’s great for dissuading back-stabbers.”
Bo grinned, coming up with a great idea. “Want to test that, Jetti?”
The Jetti raised an eyebrow. “Are you trying to get me to fight with you?”
The Jetti stood with a sigh. “I have a name, you know.”
“Alright, Kenobi. Put ‘em up.”
Kenobi shrugged off his big robe, and draped it over the couch. He slowly set his lightsaber on top of the robe.
“Get on with it!” Bo exclaimed.
Kenobi smirked, and faced her. Bo braced her feet against the floor. Kenobi matched her stance.
“Oya!” Bo hissed, then flung herself forward.
Qui-Gon sipped his tea. Satine sat across from him with her own steaming cup. She stared him dead in the eye, and slurped her tea.
A loud crash came from the living room.
Glass shattered from the other side of the closed kitchen door.
Qui-Gon sipped softer.
Satine slurped louder.
Qui-Gon’s eyes narrowed, and he took the tiniest sip of his life.
Satine picked up her cup, and drained the rest of her tea with a table-shaking sssssshhhhluuuuurrrrrp.
A definite yelp of pain cut into the aggressive-sounding brawl. Everything went silent for a moment, but a second later, the violence began anew. Qui-Gon almost winced when he heard the sound of something wooden break.
Qui-Gon gently set down his cup. “Care for more?”
Satine nodded firmly, never breaking eye-contact. “If you don’t mind.”
The two continued sipping and slurping, pointedly ignoring the raucous fight taking place in the next room.
Adonai paced anxiously.
He’d had a comm from Almec earlier, saying that Master Jinn had arrived safely, and the girls were fine. Despite knowing that Satine and Bo-Katan were in good hands, Adonai still felt uneasy. He wished there was another female down there with them.Then again, if he knew he could trust Mara, she would be the one there protecting them, and Adonai would know for certain the girls were safe.
He knew Satine, and especially Bo were enamoured with their ‘Aunt’ Mara, and Mara was nearly as protective and loving of the girls as Myyri was...used to be. But it was a dangerous business, trusting someone more powerful than oneself. And Adonai had no doubt that Mara could kill ihm anytime she wanted.
He was snapped out of his nervous pacing when Mara entered. All traces of comprehensive thoughts flew out of his brain as soon as he saw her. She wasn’t wearing her armour! More than that, she was wearing a dress! He could count the times he’d seen her without armour on one hand, but this? She looked like a warrior queen. And, Adonai supposed, that’s exactly what she was.
“You look nice,” he said lamely.
Her eyebrow quirked upwards. “And you would look better in beskar.”
He let out a mental breath. All things were not lost, then. Perhaps this was her way of apologizing for earlier.
Just as Adonai was about to add his own apology, Orant appeared in the doorway.
“Jedi Masters Tahl and Dooku,” he announced.
If Tahl still had the blessing of sight, she was positive she would have laughed at the expression on Dooku’s face.
She could tell Mara wasn’t wearing her armour, rather, a dress. And if Dooku’s jolt of...emotions was anything to go by, she looked good in it.
Tahl suppressed a smile, and allowed herself to be led to her seat.
She was ready for an evening of high entertainment.
Midnight blue. The exact color of her armour, in fact. Off the shoulder, and draping loosely all the way to the floor. Clear jewels sparkled in her hair. What once was a blazing red wound, had healed into a thick pink scar that ran from hairline to chin, crossing a milky white eye that Dooku knew was made of glass. Multiple other scars were scattered across her arms and chest where the dark blue fabric didn’t quite cover.
Distantly, Dooku realized he should stop staring. He bowed to both of his hosts, and led Tahl to her seat. The Duke did the same for Mara, holding the chair out while she took her seat.
Both men took their seats after the ladies were settled. Dooku, unfortunately found himself sitting across from Mara.
The main course was set in front of them. It looked delicious.
“I trust your journey was pleasant?” Duke Kryze asked Tahl.
Tahl smiled graciously. “Quite pleasant. Thank you, Duke.”
Dooku covered a sigh by taking a sip of the wine in front of him. The dark liquid touched his lips, and he froze.
Surely she wouldn’t…
He struggled to keep his expression blank as he set the wine back down. The scent and taste of byyrl was quite familiar to him, having occasionally made use of it himself. It was a strong drug, used to render the consumer immediately and indefinitely paralyzed. Surely Mara couldn’t be that angry at him.
The Duke and Tahl were making small talk, with Mara joining in now and then. Dooku glanced at her, trying to subtly get her attention. She refused to look at him.
“You’re certain these threats are coming from Death Watch?” Tahl asked.
Kryze and Mara nodded.
“Apparently, these threats were not the first,” Mara said with a subtle glare at Kryze.
“My wife was murdered by these zealots three weeks ago. Until then, I thought we could handle this ourselves,” the Duke added, avidly ignoring Mara’s glare. “But the threats against my daughters made me reevaluate the situation.”
“We understand completely,” Tahl said sympathetically. “Children are the most important things to the Jedi.”
Kryze’s gaze drifted to Mara, no doubt expecting her to dispute that statement. Mara avoided his gaze, and in so doing, accidentally locked eyes with Dooku. He subtly pointed to the wine before she could look away. She frowned at him, then at the wine.
Mara picked up her own glass, and took a guarded sip. Something flashed across her face. She carefully set her glass down, and reached under the table with her other hand.
Dooku was just contemplating whether or not he should reach for his saber, when the lights went out.
On the other side of the planet, an intense staring match was underway.
Obi-Wan and Satine had, at least temporarily, put aside their differences to enjoy the contest of who would blink first.
“So, Jinn,” Bo-Katan began. Jinn’s eye twitched. “Ever seen the Chronicles of Corellia?”
“No,” Jinn grumbled.
“It’s about a bounty hunter and his stick-up-the-shebs Jetti brother. I think you’d appreciate it.”
“Isn’t it time for you to go to bed?” Jinn asked through clenched teeth.
Bo-Katan almost stuck her tongue out, but then remembered her manners.
“It’s only eight. I can stay up til nine. When is your bedtime?” she asked jauntily.
A strangled choking sound came from Obi-Wan.
Bo-Katan grinned sweetly.
The big Jetti attempted a smile, but she could tell it was forced. “I only rest when everyone else is safe.”
Bo-Katan mentally scoffed. Banthakark.
The Jetti’s forced smile dropped suddenly, and he finally blinked. Bo cheered at her victory.
Apparently, Jinn didn’t care that he just lost to a ten-year-old.
“Obi-Wan, did you feel that?” he demanded.
Bo rolled her eyes. Force stuff. Of course.
Kenobi closed his eyes and made a funny face. She almost laughed, but a glare from Satine stopped her.
After a second, Kenobi opened his eyes. “I don’t feel anything.”
Jinn sighed. “You must learn how to listen to the Living Force, Obi-Wan. I am certain I felt something.”
Bo-Katan glanced at Kenobi
“Yes, Qui-Gon,” he said meekly, but Bo could tell he wanted to roll his eyes.
Jinn turned around suddenly, and strolled out of the house, leaving Bo and the two teens alone.
A soon as Jinn was out of sight, Bo clapped her hands together. “Anyone for sabacc?”
Chapter 11: That Wicked Shape To Your Smile
This one gets dark real quick. Sorry about that.
Disclaimer: Time consumes all things. Even my chocolate moonpies.
Someone cut the lights.
Darkness blotted out all lines of sight.
Mara growled, and opened her connection to the Force. The feeling of impending danger raced down her spine.
At least she had the Force to help her see--as did two of the others in the room. Adonai, however, was out of luck.
The feeling of danger reached a peak. Instants before the first wave of blaster fire shattered the great window, Mara kicked Adonai’s chair out from under him.
Red bolts of destructive energy sliced through the room. Mara dropped and rolled underneath the table. Yan and Tahl were already there. She could sense Adonai stumbling around in the dark, so she grabbed him by the shirt, and dragged him to safety.
“Is it the Death Watch?” Tahl asked, only a hint of panic in her voice.
A blaster bolt struck the floor next to Mara’s hand.
“We can only hope it’s Kyr’tsad,” Adonai muttered.
Then, as suddenly as it started, the barrage was over.
Mara poked her head out first. The Force was calming, but the presence of danger still lurked.
“They’re gone for now,” she said finally. She held out a hand to help Adonai up. “But I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll be back.”
She turned to the Jedi. “I think it’s best if you leave.”
“A wise idea, Mand’alor,” Yan added.
Adonai stared at them in disbelief. “After an attack like that? We should be calling the Council. We need more forces to take them out once and for all!”
Ice filtered through her blood. The familiar darkness rose to the surface.
“Cin vhetin, me'ven, vod?” she growled in Mando’a.
Adonai paused, and dawning horror crossed his face.
“Oh, Ka’ra. I’m sorry,” he breathed. “I didn’t think…”
But the damage was done.
Mara turned on her now-regretted heels, and stormed out of the room.
Stupid shoes. Stupid dress. Stupid Adonai, stupid Jettise, stupid Yan!
She ripped the pins out of her hair and flung them, along with her shoes, down the hall.
She was going to do her job. Give her something to do, and she did it. Leading battles was her area of expertise, not talking around a dinner table!
Her beskar’gam sat where she left it, waiting for her.
Mara was done ruling like Adonai wanted--like Jaster would have wanted. She was the Mand’alor, haark’cha! She was a warrior, not a diplomat! And until Jango got back, that’s exactly what she would be.
Slipping blasters into their holsters, and hooking both lightsabers to the back of her tac-belt, she prepared for war of a different kind. Stealth, assassinations, reconnaissance, and subterfuge--that is what she trained for. And it was time to dust off the manual.
Bo-Katan pushed open the window, and climbed out. Bored out of her mind, she had resorted to this--to running back to Sundari.
Sure, sparring with Kenobi had been fun, but Jinn and Satine kept giving her the stink-eye every time she started something remotely fun.
At least she’d bothered to leave a note this time. With any luck, the Jedi wouldn’t know she was gone until the morning. Satine would worry, but then again, she always did.
Wherever her dad and Auntie Mara were, that’s where the exciting things happened. And Bo-Katan was more than ready for some excitement.
“No one was harmed in the attack, but I have a feeling this was just a warmup,” Adonai sighed.
A breath of relief sounded from the comm.
Almec was still a short journey from the palace, but Adonai’s closest confidant was making all possible haste to return.
“ Your Grace, what has Warrior Miraal said about the attack? ” Almec questioned through the spotty connection.
Adonai frowned. “She’s said nothing. She was in the room when it happened.”
“ Indeed?” Almec sounded surprised. “ Well, I suppose it makes sense. Less suspicion that way .”
Adonai sighed, knowing his friend’s ideas about Mara. “She saved my life.”
Almec’s scoff was barely audible. “ She’s a True Mandalorian, Your Grace. Her allegiance lies with Jaster Mereel and the Supercommando Codex, and it always will. ”
“Perhaps you’re right,” he allowed. “But she is a woman of honor. She would never attack innocents, no matter their beliefs.”
Almec sighed noncommittally. “I wonder...Which do you think she would choose? The Death Watch or the Jedi--if the option was given to her to wip one of them from existence?”
“Death Watch,” he replied immediately. “Mara has no sympathy for cowards.”
“ Aren’t the Jedi also cowards in her book? ”
That question was a lot harder to answer. He’d often heard Mara’s disdain for the Jedi. Even though she was inexplicably letting her son stay with them, Adonai could safely say she hated the Jedi. But did she hate them as much as she hated Death Watch?
“ I apologize for keeping you,” Almec continued. “ I’ll be back at the palace soon, and we can discuss the situation there.”
The call ended, and Adonai was left with a million thoughts flying through his head.
“Almec’s on the way?” a voice asked.
Adonai whirled around, hand on his blaster.
Mara put up her hands defensively. “It’s just me.”
She was wearing her armour again, sans helmet.
Adonai lowered the blaster. “Yes. He should be back soon.”
“Yes, I heard,” she said flatly.
Despite his best effort, Adonai felt a twinge of panic. How much had she heard? Did she know what Almec thought about her? Who knew how much she could see with the Force.
From the doorway, Mara frowned at him, uncrossing her arms.
“Adonai,” she began questioningly, “are you...afraid of me?”
“No,” he said immediately, then winced. He’d said it too fast.
Mara took a half-dozen decisive steps into the room, and Adonai instinctively stepped back. She halted at his movement.
He mentally cursed himself. She’d set a test, and he failed it.
Mara nodded resignedly. “Fear is one thing, but...do you trust me?”
What was he supposed to say to that?!
Fortunately, he was rescued from answering as a small explosion shook the palace. The windows rattled.
Mara rushed past him to the balcony. A second later, he followed her.
Several people were throwing grenades at the front entrance. There was a veritable mob standing right on their doorstep! Again, Adonai was grateful he’d sent Satine and Bo away.
Mara grabbed his shoulder, and his gaze snapped to her.
“What do you say I go down there and make a scene of my own?”
He couldn’t comprehend what she meant by that, but he got the feeling it wouldn’t be good. Before he could say anything, her jetpack fired up, and she flew over the balcony’s ledge.
She paused and glanced back at him. “Trust me, Kryze. I’ll keep you and your family safe.”
Then she was gone, rocketing to the small landing in front of the palace. She landed on her feet with a thump.
Instantly, every eye was on her.
“Mando’ade!” Her voice carried across the city streets. “What are your grievances your Mand’alor and Jord’alor?”
“He is no Jord’alor of ours!” an angry voice shouted.
“He will destroy Mandalore, and you do nothing but watch!”
“How can you stand there and let the Jettise return to take everything they forgot last time?”
The voices came loud and fast--demanding, complaining, questioning. Those who seemed genuinely inquizitive or worried, she answered.
“The Jettise are leaving tomorrow. They should never have been allowed to come,” she said firmly. “But attacking the palace is no way to tell us that!”
“It was the only way we could be sure you would listen!” someone else yelled.
“And what if someone had gotten hurt?” Mara demanded. “Tyan Orant was in the room.”
The crowd quieted. Apparently, they hadn’t thought about that.
Mara continued in a condemning voice, as if she were scolding a bunch of rowdy children.
“How many times have I told you to talk to each other before you start fighting?” A few in the crowd looked down. “Fighting solves a lot of problems, I grant you. But no more than would be solved by arguing it out!”
“Pretty words for a woman who led the Haat Mando’ade to their destruction!” a woman in red armour shouted.
Instead of ignoring the jab, as Adonai would have done, Mara got angry.
“Rav Bralor, you know better than that!”
Adonai, as well as a good portion of the crowd, blinked in surprise.
“I know who’s blade murdered Taggart, but Galidraan was just as much Kyr’tsad and the governor’s fault as it was the Jettise! Just because they weren’t the ones that pulled the trigger, it doesn’t make them any less guilty. Kyr’tsad roam the streets freely, and you throw rocks at the palace, hoping that we’ll fix all your problems,” Mara shouted.
Adonai’s eyes grew. Rocks? She called grenades ‘rocks’?
Have you all forgotten the Resol’nare?” she demanded. “Everyone has the right and means to fix their own situations. Politicians cannot solve the universe’s problems. We just help out. But in playing the politician, I forgot my first duty. And for that, I am sorry.”
“Jaster trusted you,” the woman, Rav Bralor, called again. “I guess we can, too.”
“The Haat Mando’ade stand with you, ner Mand’alor!” a man in gold armour shouted.
Bralor clasped a vambrace over her chest and bowed her head. The man followed suit.
Across the crowd, a dozen more heads bowed. Eventually, others bowed--others without armour. Adonai’s breath caught. His people were pledging their allegiance to her.
Mara bowed her head. “I thank you for your trust. I will not betray it again.”
“Not so fast!” someone shouted. The figure came forward from the crowd.
It was Pre Vizsla, accompanied by three other Death Watch thugs.
“Pre,” Mara said calmly, “I don’t remember you being welcomed here.”
“Well, I just came to warn your people about something very important.”
Adonai frowned from his balcony. What was he talking about?
Pre continued, “Isn’t there something you’d like to tell the Mando’ade before you ask for their loyalty?”
“Oh, right.” Mara lifted her chin. “One of the Jettise from Galidraan is here, uninvited.”
The crowd roared, and Adonai winced. Master Dooku was going to have a tough time getting off Mandalore now.
I guess she really does hate him.
“Anything else?” Pre asked. Adonai did not like the look of the grin on the younger man’s face.
Mara frowned, matching Adonai’s look of confusion.
One of the Death Watch thugs shoved a boy forward. Mara’s eyes flew wide. If he didn’t know any better, Adonai would say that Mara looked almost worried.
The boy was human with brown hair. Older than Bo, but younger than Satine, Adonai thought. Even from this distance, he could tell the boy was hurt.
Pre Vizsla shouted to the crowd. “Your so-called Mand’alor saved the life of this Jetti on Galidraan!” The crowd, along with Adonai, were shocked to silence, as he continued. “This child--this Jetti -- helped his Master slaughter Mandalorian warriors!”
“Since when have your kind cared about the Mando’ade?” one voice countered angrily.
“A Mandalorian is still a Mandalorian,” Pre argued, and pointed to the beaten boy. “The Jettise have always been the enemies of Mandalore! Your leader spared one from his well-deserved fate!”
“He’s just a kid!” Bralor shouted, but it was drowned out by the crowd’s enraged screams.
Pre grinned. Adonai felt sick.
The three Kyr’tsad held the crowd back as Pre forced the Jedi boy to his knees.
“Witness the Jettise in their rightful place!” Pre yelled.
The boy was struggling to stay calm, but Adonai could see him trembling.
Pre pulled out his blaster and pointed it directly at the boy’s head.
The crowd ruptured into protests, but the Death Watch held them back.
“Stop him!” someone shouted, and Adonai realized the shout had come from him.
One Death Watch soldier rammed the butt of her blaster into a civilian’s gut, effectively stopping him from grabbing the boy.
Adonai was frozen in helpless horror as Vizsla slowly pulled the trigger.
“Time for you to join your brothers in the Force, Jetti.”
The boy squeezed his eyes shut.
A red streak exploded from the barrel of Pre’s blaster...
...And stopped in midair.
Almec’s smile dropped.
He and Vizsla had planned for nearly three years for how to best take down Mara Miraal. The plan they’d agreed on was beautifully simplistic.
The blaster bolt stopping in midair was not part of the plan. At least, it hadn’t been in the plan Vizsla had shared.
Almec’s shocked stare drifted to Miraal. She was walking through the now-silent mob, one hand raised.
The crowd parted as she walked past. She reached Vizsla’s soldiers without opposition.
Pre had lowered his blaster, and was glancing between the frozen streak of red energy, and Miraal.
“The child is a foundling. You have no right to execute anyone,” Miraal announced in a calmly frigid tone.
A grin stretched across Pre’s face, and Almec thought he’d gone insane.
“So, the rumours are true,” Pre said. He turned to the crowd. “Behold! The hypocrisy of your leader! We’ve all seen her lightsabers, witnessed the way she fights--like a Jetti! ”
The crowd’s stunned silence dissolved, and Almec’s smile returned full-force. So, that was Pre’s plan all along.
“Kill the Jetti!”
“She is no Jetti!”
“Won’t you all listen?”
“She has betrayed us to the Jettise!”
“She was behind Galidraan all along!”
“Oh, shut it, Reau!”
What happened next, surprised even Almec.
A stray blaster bolt exploded from the crowd. It sped towards Miraal’s unhelmeted head. Miraal, without turning, reached for something behind her back.
Almec watched, heart in his throat, as the bolt reached Miraal.
A red beam of light sprung from Miraal’s hand, and the blaster bolt struck it.
She had blocked the bolt on her lightsaber without breaking eye contact with Vizsla!
Almec beat a hasty retreat. He didn’t want to be around for whatever happened next. Then he caught a glimpse of Miraal’s eye--the flesh one.
It was golden yellow.
From a window, Yan Dooku watched everything.
Tahl could sense some of what was happening, but Dooku had to explain the details. His narration halted, however, when the boy was brought out. Dooku remembered the boy from the transport to Galidraan.
The boy was forced to his knees, and Dooku reached for the Force, ready to stop what happened next.
Vizsla pulled the trigger, but someone else got there first.
Mara’s Force-presence blared to life, sending Dooku’s mind reeling. The Darkness was there, as it had been on Galidraan. He was worried for a moment, then he realized that she had it under control. He brushed against her shields, but there was no response.
He could hear what Vizsla and Mara said, but only barely. He didn’t have time to react before a blaster bolt was headed directly for Mara’s skull. Instinctively, he reached out to block or redirect it. Mara’s voice spoke in his mind for the first time since Galidraan. It felt intoxicating.
“ I’ve got it.”
Then the bond between them went silent as Mara brought her lightsaber up to block the bolt.
Tahl grabbed his arm, breaking his focus on the drama below them. His gaze snapped to her sightless eyes.
“We’ve got to get out of here.” Her tone left no room for argument.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to help here, after all,” Dooku said, taking Tahl’s arm. He led them rapidly towards the bay where their ship was docked.
They reached the bay just as their ship exploded into flame. Several figures in blue and grey armour cheered around the wreckage.
Dooku made a quick detour, leading them away before they were spotted.
“I don’t think the Death Watch wants us to leave,” he said by way of explanation for their sudden change of direction.
Tahl followed him seamlessly through the palace as Dooku ducked and weaved around corners. He avoided every set of armour he saw. One group he slipped past was setting fire to the Grand Ballroom.
“Well, well, well,” a man stepped in front of the two Jedi. “Looky what I found.”
Tahl pulled out her lightsaber. “It would be in your best interest to let us pass, warrior.”
“Oh yeah, and the Jettise always have my best interests at heart, don’t they?” the man replied sarcastically. He lifted his vambrace against Dooku.
Dooku reached out with the Force, touching the warrior’s mind. “You will let us pass in peace.”
The man’s head tilted. “I will...let you pass in peace.” His voice echoed with confusion and uncertainty, but he lowered his vambrace.
Tahl and Dooku hurried past before the mental manipulation could wear off.
“We must find the Duke,” Tahl said as they ran. “It is still our mission to keep him safe.”
“Don’t worry. He’s safe.”
Tahl and Dooku slid to a halt at the sudden voice. An armoured man stepped out of the shadows.
“I am no friend of the Jettise.” The man shrugged. “But she wants you out of the city alive, so if you want the same thing, better follow me.”
Then he turned and walked away.
They glanced at each other. Even though Tahl could ‘see’ in the strictest sense, he knew she could tell what he was thinking. They were trapped in this palace with no easy way out. Unfriendly Mandalorans stood at every turn, blocking their escape. If they wanted out, this was their chance. Without a word, the two Jedi followed the mysterious Mando down a dark hallway.
The shouts from the streets grew louder as fire spread through the palace. People rushed into the marble building, saving or looting what they could before the flames consumed everything.
A secret passage opened up in the wall, and the Mando stepped through without waiting for the Jedi.
Dooku and Tahl shared one more glance, then disappeared into the walls of the palace.
Kal Skirata hated this job some days.
First, he’d been shoved into a crowd of angry protesters. Then, he’d watched as Mara Miraal outed herself as a Force-sensitive. Most of the Haat Mando’ade already knew, or at least suspected, but it was different when most of the people watching hadn’t fought alongside her in battle. Civilians liked to jump to conclusions.
Next, Miraal had shouted instructions in his head like he was a shabla comm unit, telling him to get the Duke and Jettise out of the palace. Finally, after he’d done that, he realized the building he was currently standing in was on fire. And the Jettise kept asking stupid questions.
“Where are you taking us?”
“Who are you?”
“How do we know we can trust you?”
The last one really got under his skin. Obviously they shouldn’t trust him--just as he didn’t trust them. But, Miraal wanted the Jettise kept safe for now, so that’s what he did.
He led them through dusty corridors and forgotten passageways that had been lost to ghost stories generations past.
At last, it came to an end. A simple wooden door separated the inside from the mob outside. He put his shoulder to the rotting door, and shoved. It creaked and groaned under his weight, and finally gave out. The door opened out into the sparse trees behind the palace. Kal didn’t bother waiting for the Jettise to follow.
The cool night air was a nice change from the smoke and distant heat. Even from here, he could see the light of the palace burning. Kal couldn’t decide if he should be sad or not. Then he decided it was a waste of time anyway, so he turned back to see if the lady Jetti needed help.
“There’s a house half a mile that way.” He pointed East, once the Jettise were out in the open.
Kal started walking back to the city, but the fancy-looking Jetti stopped him.
“Where are you going?”
Kal gave the Jetti a dead-eyed stare. “I have people back in that madness--family. I’m not leaving them behind.”
The Jetti nodded, and Kal fired up his jetpack.
Time to light the lights.
Yuzal Orann, now known as Yuzal Tierren, had just begun to love living on Mandalore.
After Galidraan, he’d been so hurt and confused. The monsters the Jedi were sent to stop had killed Master D’Quan, and taken Yuzal prisoner. He had expected to be starved, tortured, and beaten by the Mandalorians. But when he woke up in their camp, he was given food and medicine. None of them had hurt him in any way.
Then, Mr. Tierren had explained what really happened. It had been a rude awakening for the young padawan.
Now thirteen, the Tierren’s had formally adopted him, and he was set to take the Verd’goten on his fourteenth birthday. The Jedi were nothing more than a fond but bitter memory. He’d abandoned the Jedi for the people he’d been sent to destroy.
But now the Jedi were here, and the Mandalorians were on the brink of civil war. That, at least, he could understand. They didn’t want the Jedi here, and Yuzal didn’t either. The Council had betrayed everything he’d ever been taught in the Temple.
Which is why it was totally unfair for Pre Vizsla to grab him off the street and try to kill him in front of, like, a million people.
Then the Mand’alor saved him! With the Force!
His new parents had told him all about Mara Miraal--how much she loved Mandalore and her people. And most importantly, how she survived a lightsaber to the face!
“The child is a foundling,” the Mand’alor said. “You have no right to execute anyone.”
Then Pre Vizsla spouted off some nonsense about hypocrisy, but Yuzal wasn’t listening.
The Mand’alor used the Force!
The Force shouted a warning at him, and he watched in awe as Mand’alor Miraal blocked a blaster bolt with her lightsaber.
No, no, no, no.
Her saber was red. She couldn’t be a lightsider. And her eye! Her real eye was yellow!
The Mand’alor was a Sith!!!
“Try harder next time, Vizsla,” Mand’alor Miraal snarled.
Then Pre Vizsla pulled out a lightsaber of his own! The blade was pure black. Yuzal had never seen anything like it. It had a flat edge, like a real sword.
“Might as well try again while we’re here,” Vizsla growled back.
Mand’alor Miraal flipped her saber around in front of her. The glowing red blade clashed against Vizsla’s black one. Miraal angled her blade, and Vizsla’s saber twisted down into the ground.
While the black lightsaber was stuck in the ground, Mand’alor Miraal grabbed Yuzal’s arm.
Yuzal didn’t have time to think before he was rocketing up into the air.
“Hold on, kid,” Miraal whispered in his ear.
With nothing else to do, he wrapped his arms around her as they flew through the sky. Buir Tierren had taken him for jetpack rides before, but this was so violent!
They soared, and Yuzal had to use the Force to keep from falling.
The Mand’alor was a darksider.
Why, oh why did these things keep happening to him?
Adonai paced furiously across the safehouse floor.
He had no clue what to do now. His home was ablaze, his family was broken across the planet, and there was a revolution happening in the streets.
The Mandalorian who’d led him through the palace walls had gone back for the Jedi--under Mara’s orders.
Adonai sighed and rubbed his forehead. This wasn’t at all what he’d signed up for when he’d agreed to lead the New Mandalorians.
Obi-Wan tossed and turned. It was no good. He just couldn’t get to sleep.
Finally, he gave up and trodded to the kitchen for some water.
The house was quiet and dark. Everyone else must already be asleep , he thought. He grabbed a glass from the cabinet, and dragged himself over to the sink. The cold water felt wonderful.
Just as he was about to fill his glass again, he noticed a piece of white flimsi sitting neatly on the counter. It had Satine’s name on it. And it definitely wasn’t there earlier.
He picked it up, and quickly scanned the note’s brief message.
“Um, Qui-Gon?” he called.
The man mumbled in his sleep, then turned over and continued snoring.
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes, and re-read the note.
Gone back home. Don’t worry.
I’ll comm you when I get there.
He heaved a deep sigh, and placed the note back on the counter. There was no way he could catch up to Bo-Katan on his own. Besides, she probably knew the way to Sundari. She would be fine. No sense waking Qui-Gon and Satine up. They would only panic, and then no one would get any sleep.
Obi-Wan set his empty glass back on the counter, and headed back to bed.
The safehouse outside of Sundari was full.
Mara and the Jetti boy had arrived moments before Masters Tahl and Dooku. The four adults and teenager glanced at each other, unsure of what to say.
“So,” Tahl began after a long moment. “This is a fine herd of Banthas.”
Despite himself, Adonai’s lip twitched upward. He was really beginning to like this particular Jedi.
Mara turned to the Jetti boy.
“Where are you parents, ad’ika?”
The boy glanced nervously between the Jedi and Mara.
“I don’t know,” he said hesitantly. “That Kyr’tsad woman grabbed me on the way home. I don't know if they’re alright.”
“I’m sure they’re alright,” Mara assured him. “But Syan and Reuil are probably worried about you.”
Dooku broke in suddenly.
“You held a Jedi Padawan against his will, kept him from his people, and gave him to a Mandalorian couple?”
His demeanor was threatening, but Mara let the boy answer.
“It was my decision to stay, Master Jedi,” Yuzal said quietly. “After Galidraan...I knew I could never be a Knight.”
That seemed to surprise Dooku.
“Congratulations on making your own decisions,” Tahl said cheerfully. “So, what’s the plan?”
Mara looked at Adonai like he was in charge. But this was her area of expertise, dammit! He didn’t know about wars and fighting. Politics and diplomacy was his specialty.
“Well,” he began slowly. “What allies do we have in the city?”
“The Haat Mando’ade,” Mara replied instantly. “They will lay low for now, and gather information, but they will come when I call.”
“How can you be sure?” Dooku questioned. “Your powers were put on display for everyone to see. Surely some of them saw it as well.”
“I have faith in people,” she replied pragmatically. “And please tell me there is someone trustworthy with Bo and Satine.”
Adonai and Dooku both looked elsewhere. They both knew exactly who was guarding the girls. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest decision to tell her at this juncture.
“Qui-Gon is with them,” Tahl replied, apparently having the same thought.
“I asked for someone trustworthy,” Mara grumbled. “Of all the other Jedi you could sneak onto the planet, you picked Jinn?”
“He volunteered,” Dooku replied in the same tone.
“I guess he’ll have to do,” Mara sighed. “Now, it’s time to plan, and wait for things to settle.”
Pre Vizsla watched the palace burn, eyes glinting with glee in the fire-light.
Everything was working. Just two more things to do, and Mandalore would be his.
My thought process behind this chapter was: hmm, I wonder how much worse I can make this. Sorry about the politics and darker moments in this one. It gets happier, I promise!
Chapter 12: The Raging Storm of a Forever War
Have fun with this chapter, y'all. *grins maniacally*
Disclaimer: By the year 2058, Disney will own the moon.
Mara walked into the safehouse and deposited a crate-full of supplies on the counter.
“What’s the news, Mara?” Tahl asked, looking up from her knitting.
Vizsla had cut off all out-going transmissions from the planet’s surface. Not that it mattered. They only had one datapad between them, and it was low on charge. Yuzal had managed to get a comm off to his parents, but that was it.
“Pre has posters up everywhere with our pictures plastered on them. He’s proclaimed himself the rightful Mand’alor,” Mara groused, tossing a fresh skein of yarn at Tahl. Tahl caught it.
“I do hope the posters caught my good side,” Tahl sighed.
Mara laughed. “Tahl, I highly doubt you have a bad side.”
“You should have seen me when Qui-Gon used the last of my favorite tea,” Tahl joked. “Did anyone see you in town?”
“Sure. The expressions on their faces were hilarious when I waltzed in to buy supplies.”
“I can imagine,” Tahl chuckled. “Did any of them try to stop you?”
“Of course not. If I want to get arrested, I’ll go down to the old Protector Station, and play a bes’bev until Pre shows up.”
Tahl laughed. It was a beautiful sound. Mara smiled.
“Where are the boys?”
“Strategizing on the back porch.”
Mara rolled her eyes. “Great. Put the two of them in charge of anything, and neither side will win.”
Mara left the box on the counter, and walked outside.
As Tahl said, Dooku and Adonai were standing out back, calmly arguing about pacifism.
“Yan, leave Adi alone. The man’s got enough to worry about.”
Yan quirked an eyebrow. “Adi?”
Mara continued, “And Adonai, stop baiting Yan. He adores a good argument, and right now, that’s exactly what we don’t have time for.”
“Mara, we have to speak to the people,” Adonai argued.
“Absolutely not,” Mara retorted. “Take one step into Sundari, and you’ll get your head blown off. Our best bet is taking the city back quietly. Once we’ve got everyone in position, we can win in one night, and Pre won’t know it til he wakes up, caught with his pants down.”
Yan nodded along, infuriating man that he is. “I agree. Secrecy and espionage is the way to go.”
“Breakfast’s ready!” Yuzal shouted.
Adonai strolled past them into the house, Yan following him a second later. Mara crossed her arms and watched the men go. She needed another moment’s peace without either of them.
The close quarters thing was starting to get to her. She just wanted to punch Yan in his stupid, dignified face sometimes. Him with his perfect hair, just beginning to go gray.
She frowned. Those kinds of thoughts were getting more frequent. It was irritating. She didn’t want to notice how handsome he was, she wanted to fight him!
Oh well, Yuzal wanted help with his Makashi forms, and Mara had agreed to help him after breakfast. Any chance to show off in front of Yan.
Mara shook her head, dispelling the thought.
Food first, then back to work.
Qui-Gon slowly blinked awake.
He slowly sat up and ran a hand through his long hair. The couch had certainly been better than the floor, but it still wasn’t the most comfortable thing he’d ever slept on.
The sun was up, but only barely. Qui-Gon stood with a groan, popping his back. He glanced down at the pile of blankets and pillows Obi-Wan had slept on last night. But Obi-Wan was gone, and the rest of the house was silent.
He quickly checked the Force, but Obi-Wan wasn’t anywhere nearby. Oh well, might as well pull breakfast together while the Duke’s daughters were still asleep. Obi-Wan should be back soon from wherever he disappeared to.
But when he entered the kitchen, the first thing he saw was a piece of flimsi sitting on the counter.
Gone back home. Don’t worry.
I’ll comm you when I get there.
And underneath the message from Bo-Katan, was another message. This one was written in neater script.
I’ve gone after Bo. We should both be back by breakfast.
Tell Satine not to worry.
Qui-Gon lifted his head towards the sky and let out a deep sigh. Why did he always end up stuck with children?
Then, he felt something prickle at the base of his skull. The Force buzzed with unspent energy. Someone was on the way.
His hand drifted to his lightsaber.
Right about then, Satine wandered into the room, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“Master Jinn, what’s going on?” Satine yawned. Her blonde hair was stuck up in all directions.
“I think there are some unsavoury characters on the way,” he replied.
Immediately, she looked awake. “Where are Bo and Obi-Wan?”
“Your sister saw fit to run away. Obi-Wan went after her. They should be back soon.”
“Not again,” Satine muttered. “How long do you think we have until the unwanted guests arrive?”
The Force felt rather clouded on the subject. He shook his head.
“I’m not sure.”
Qui-Gon heard a faint click, and he spun around just in time to see a set of Mandalorian armour burst through the front door. Right behind Satine.
“Get down!” he shouted to her.
Another three Mandalorians crashed through the window. Qui-Gon’s lightsaber blazed to life.
Satine sprinted into the kitchen. A half-second later, she showed up with a blaster.
“Surrender or die, Jetti,” one of the Death Watch sneered.
Qui-Gon lifted his blade, and settled into an Ataru position.
The Mando snarled and attacked.
Bo-Katan strolled briskly down the main road, singing at the top of her lungs.
Rolling down to Sundari, me boys,
Rolling down to Sundari!
We are bound once more for old Mandalore,
Rolling down to Sundari!
She sang loudly, letting the cool morning breeze carry her voice. It was already looking like a beautiful day ahead. She sang louder, and deliberately off-key. It was a lot more fun when Satine wasn’t here to be mad at her.
A quiet rumbling sounded in the distance. Bo-Katan turned around, now walking backwards. A small cloud of dust was coming up the road, towards her. She continued singing.
Once more today down the Hydian Way,
Through the streaks of hyperspace.
Them desolate plains, them dazzling panes;
Towards them, now we race.
Six hellish months have come and gone
For this mercenary;
But we’re bound once more for old Mandalore,
Rolling down to Sundari!
The cloud of dust rolled closer, revealing a speeder. The speeder was carrying a familiar Jetti. Kenobi pulled up right in front of her, and parked the speeder.
“Bo, are you trying to wake up the entire planet?” Kenobi hissed.
“No.” She smiled sweetly. “Just you.”
Kenobi groaned. "Couldn't you have at least picked a good song? Like Dha Werda Verda?"
She shrugged. "It doesn't have the same bounce."
Kenobi just sighed, and looked at the road ahead, and then at the road behind.
“Well, we’re almost all the way to Sundari. Might as well get some food there before we head back.”
Bo made a face. “You can tag along if you want, but I’m going home, and I’m staying. I’m not going back to that house.”
Kenobi sighed. “Fine. We’ll go find your dad.”
Bo smirked in victory. She climbed onto the back of Kenobi’s speeder. Food did sound good right about now. Then she frowned as something occurred to her.
“Hey, Kenobi?” she asked.
“Where’d you get the speeder?”
Kenobi released the brakes. “I, uh, borrowed it.”
Bo-Katan snorted. “Awesome.”
A slight rustling sound came from the side of the road. Something blue and grey flashed behind a tree. Heart racing, Bo poked Kenobi in the back.
She pointed at the tree. “Over there.”
Kenobi squinted. “There’s someone over there.”
“Death Watch,” she whispered.
Bo-Katan glanced around. There was movement from all around them. They were surrounded.
“Great job, Bo,” Kenobi groused. “Really great. Your caterwauling woke up the terrorists.”
“You’re welcome,” she snarked back half-heartedly.
All at once, a group of Death Watch jumped out from the treeline.
“Drive!” Bo screamed.
Kenobi hit the accelerator. The engine choked out, then roared back to life. They took off with a jolt.
Bo wrapped her arms around Kenobi’s middle, and held on for dear life. She hazarded a look back.
The Death Watch were chasing after them. Two of them were already firing up their jetpacks. Blaster bolts whizzed past, dangerously close.
“Hurry! Go faster!” she yelled.
“I am!” Kenobi shouted.
Sundari was right ahead. Bo breathed in relief. They were almost home free. Then, one of the Death Watch got in a lucky hit.
A blaster bolt flew over Bo’s head, and hit Kenobi in the shoulder.
Kenobi let out a yell, and let go of the speeder’s handles.
The speeder slowed to a halt.
Death Watch warriors swarmed Kenobi. Bo swung her legs over the side, ready to jump off and run back to Kenobi.
“No! Get help!” Kenobi yelled at her. “Go get help!”
A fist collided with Kenobi’s chin. He went limp.
One of the Death Watch men glanced back at Bo. As fast as she could, Bo grabbed the speeder’s handles, and hit the accelerators. Her feet barely touched the pedals.
She raced into the city, not looking back.
She had to find Dad! He and Auntie Mara could help!
“Hold your saber like this,” the Mand'alor instructed.
Yuzal held the borrowed saber wrong on purpose.
“Like this?” he asked innocently.
“No!” both Master Dooku and Mand’alor Miraal said together.
Yuzal smiled. This was fun.
“Here,” Miraal said, taking her spare lightsaber from her tactical belt.
Yuzal wasn’t afraid of her or her lightsabers anymore. It probably had something to do with breakfast that morning. She’d thrown a half-cooked nerf steak at the Jord’alor to shut him up for saying something about, “ violence doesn’t solve problems .”
Yuzal smirked slightly as the Mand’alor settled into a perfect Makashi stance.
Master Dooku sniffed. “Perhaps the boy would learn better with a demonstration. It has been quite a while since he’s held a saber.”
Master Dooku had a reputation among the younglings and Initiates for being scary and unfriendly. When he was dueling in the salles, everyone avoided him. But Yuzal was beginning to see the man behind the bristly exterior--especially when he looked at the Mand’alor.
Living on Mandalore, Yuzal had accepted that the Jedi Code wasn’t the end-all of important rules. Specifically the rule of attachment, he’d long understood, was a load of Batha droppings.
Every day, he saw how much the Tierrens loved each other, and it only cemented his distrust in the Jedi Code. And if there was anything he learned during his stay in his new home, it was how to recognize certain emotions for what they were. And, oh brother, did Master Dooku have it bad.
“A spar?” Mand’alor Miraal asked. “You want to spar with me?”
Dooku swung his blue blade up in front of his face.
“Choose your preferred form, Miraal.”
Miraal held out her hand, and the lightsaber Yuzal had borrowed from her flew from his hand to hers. Two mis-matched crimson blades spun and twisted into something close to a Jar’Kai position.
Something lit in both of the adult’s eyes.
“I always thought you preferred Djem So,” Dooku quipped.
As the attacking form, Miraal moved first. It was a terrific blur of light as Dooku moved his single blade up to block what could have been a fatal stroke.
Yuzal’s eyes could barely process the strikes and parries and blocks they used. It was so terrifically fast--Miraal’s Jar’Kai matching Dooku’s Makashi blow for blow.
Miraal swung wide, aiming for Dooku’s neck. Dooku blocked it, and in the moment, Miraal flipped her second saber around into a reverse-grip. Both blades moved and struck independently of each other, but he somehow managed to block every attempt.
She swung high. He ducked and stabbed low. She jumped and sliced downward. He spun and slashed upwards. Miraal blocked the move, and sliced with her off-saber. Dooku leapt back, and drove her other blade downward.
She pulled both blades back, and aimed high. Dooku moved to block, but it was a mis-step.
His saber caught in hers, and she twisted. His blade angled out of the way. Miraal’s leg darted out in a precise sweep, and she continued twisting at Dooku’s blade.
In an effort to keep his blade under his control, he twisted with it. But it was too late to avoid Miraal’s leg. He stepped right into it, and tripped. The stumble was only for a moment, but it was enough.
Miraal flipped Dooku’s saber out of his hand. She pushed him further off-balance with the Force.
Without enough time to recover, Dooku fell. There was, however, one more thing he could do.
While he fell, he aimed a Force-punch at the back of Miraal’s knees.
Her knees buckled. She fell forward, blades still ignited.
Yuzal watched in horror, certain that Miraal’s sabers were going to impale Master Dooku.
Both Jedi and Mandalorian fell in sync.
Miraal’s blades stabbed through the ground on either side of Dooku’s head, and the instant after Dooku landed on his back, Miraal landed on top of him.
They were pressed close together, noses an inch apart. They stared at each other, both breathing heavily.
Yuzal wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
Despite not knowing, Yuzal was still shocked by what did happen.
Miraal deactivated her lightsabers and leaned down further, just as Dooku lifted his head. Their eyes closed, and…
They were.. .KISSING!
Yuzal had never seen a Jedi kiss anyone before! And by the looks of it, this was turning into something besides kissing. Yuzal blushed bright red and looked away as Miraal ran her fingers through Dooku’s hair and Dooku put his hands on her waist. The beskar armour must have felt uncomfortable, but it didn’t look like Master Dooku minded.
Yuzal awkwardly cleared his throat, wishing very much to be elsewhere.
Thankfully, the kissing stopped, and Miraal glanced up at him.
“Sorry, kid,” she apologized, and Yuzal was not going to think about the noise that just came from Master Dooku. “Forgot you were there.”
She stood, and held out a hand that Dooku took. She pulled him to his feet.
“That was a dirty trick, Yan,” she complained.
“Not as dirty as the one you pulled,” he said with a satisfied smirk.
Yuzal’s head whipped around at the sudden shout.
Duke Kryze was yelling from the back porch of the house.
“Kyr’tsad are here!”
Dooku and Miraal grabbed their sabers and sprinted towards the house.
Two Death Watch warriors flew over the house, jetpacks spitting red flames. Yuzal’s feet were frozen to the ground as the scene played out in front of him. Master Tahl stood on the porch, blue saber ignited. She blocked every blaster bolt that came her way.
Dooku and Miraal picked up the pace, but they were still only halfway to the house.
Three more Death Watch flew overhead. Fire and blaster fire rained down from the warriors weapons, kicking dirt into the air. Then, the Death Watch fired the big guns. Three missiles screamed shrilly on their way down to the ground. Yuzal clamped his hands over his ears to block the horrible sound.
Miraal stopped running suddenly, and lifted her hand. All three missiles halted in mid-air. The Death Watch didn’t like that. A whole wave of whistling birds headed straight for her. Miraal managed to block most of them with her lightsaber, but a few got through. One struck her temple, and her grip on the missiles slipped. Miraal stumbled back.
The Duke ran off the porch, holding what looked like a kid.
Dooku slowed to a stop, and turned back to help Miraal.
Master Tahl blocked another blaster bolt, and her sightless eyes snapped to the sky.
The missiles floundered, and fell to the ground. The first one hit. Yuzal screamed, but the sound was blotted out by the deafening explosion.
The place Miraal was standing disintegrated into a wave of dirt and dust.
Duke Kryze held the kid closer, and ducked as the second one hit. Both the Duke and the kid were flung into the air.
And the third...Yuzal saw Master Tahl look up, and then she and the house were gone.
The Force screamed in pain and rage. Yuzal fell to his knees, clutching his head in his hands.
Then the Death Watch flew away, taking no notice of the sobbing boy under the trees.
Satine was backed into a corner. She fired blindly at any and everything that came near her.
Across the room, Master Jinn dropped his lightsaber.
“No!” he screamed.
The three remaining Death Watch took advantage of the distraction. All three fired on Jinn. He deflected two of them, but the third grazed his side. One of the redirected blasts hit one of the Kyr’tsad where his chestplate didn’t cover. The warrior dropped like a sack of durasteel, and so did Jinn.
Satine vaulted over the back of the couch, and onto the second Kyr’tsad’s back. She had to keep them from killing the Jedi while he was down. The warrior’s jetpack roared to life, and Satine threw her arms around his neck to keep from falling off.
Satine always kept a viroblade with her at all times, even when she was sleeping. Now was the time to use it. She pulled the thin blade out of her sleeve, and jammed it into the warrior’s neck.
The warrior lost control, and they wildly flew around the room. The Death Watch struggled, and then went limp. They crashed into a wall. Satine let out a pained yell.
Satine kicked the bloody body off of her, and stumbled to her feet. The last Death Watch was pointing a blaster at her.
Master Jinn was kneeling on the floor, seemingly in a lot of pain. That meant Satine had to take care of this herself, as per usual.
“You’re coming with me, little girl,” the woman snarled.
Behind the woman, Satine could see Master Jinn struggling to stand upright.
“I don’t think I am,” Satine said with a vicious grin.
The woman whirled around to see Jinn re-lighting his saber. Satine grabbed a blaster off the floor, and aimed it at the woman. In the time it took to blink, the Kyr’tsad woman fired up her jetpack and flew out the window.
Satine rushed to the window and raised her blaster. The woman flew off, and Satine fired after her. All of Satine’s shots came close, but none of them hit.
With a frustrated sigh, she dropped the blaster and whirled on Master Jinn.
“What was that?” she demanded. “What happened to you? Because whatever it was, almost got us killed.”
Master Jinn looked at her, and Satine winced. He looked so... broken .
“Tahl is dead.” His voice was flat. Empty.
Satine halted. They had mentioned Master Tahl. She was Jinn’s best friend. But Tahl was guarding her father. If she was dead, did that mean…
“Are the others…?”
Jinn shook his head dully. “I don’t know.”
Satine sucked in a breath, and forced her feelings down. “We have to find Bo and Obi-Wan. Then we can figure out where to go from there.”
Jinn nodded slowly, but didn’t say anything. Satine left the older Jedi where he stood, and went to pack a bag. They couldn’t stay here anymore. The Death Watch knew where they were. They had to go on the run.
And whether her family were alive or not, Satine couldn’t sit here and wait for something else to happen.
Satine Kryze, aged sixteen, grabbed her blaster, and walked out into the world.
Mara opened her eyes, and immediately felt the loss. Jedi Master Tahl was dead.
She rolled to her knees, and surveyed the damage with her good eye. The house was nothing more than a flaming pile of rubble.
Yan lay a short distance away, sprawled on his back. He was unconscious, but as far as she could tell, he was uninjured. The blast must have knocked him away.
Adonai was in similar straits, laying wrapped around something that was trying to escape. The squirming bundle finally broke free, and a shock of red hair came into view. Mara jumped to her feet.
“Bo!” she called, running towards the shaking girl.
Bo wrapped her arms around Mara’s neck, sobbing into her shoulder.
“It’s alright, Bo. Your father’s alright. You’re alright. Everything is gonna be fine,” she whispered comfortingly.
Adonai moaned softly. Mara released Bo, and knelt next to him.
“How you feeling, Kryze?” she asked, keeping her tone light for Bo’s sake.
Adonai just groaned. “Can’t feel legs.”
Mara frowned, and lifted his shirt. His spine was already beginning to show signs of bruising. No doubt it would darken to purples and yellows soon. But the discoloration isn’t what worried her most. The deep gash across the lower half of his back, however, was. Bo leaned over to look, and Mara quickly pulled his shirt back down to cover the wound.
“This is why we wear armour,” Mara smiled, repeating something Jaster once told her. But her attempt at humor fell flat. She knew Adoani’s spine was severed.
“Will he be alright?” Bo-Katan asked. She was very perceptive for a ten-year-old. It wouldn take her long to figure out how serious it was. There was really only one thing Mara could do.
“He’ll be fine.” She smiled at Bo reassuringly. “Could you go wake up the man over there and tell him to come here?” Mara pointed at Yan, and Bo-Katan nodded, going to do just that.
Mara settled into the dirt, and uncovered Adonai’s back once more.
“This might hurt some,” she warned, placing her hand gently against his bruised skin. Adonai shuddered at the touch.
Mara closed her eyes, and opened her mind to the darkness. It was the only way to save Adoani’s spine. The nearest bacta supply was in Keldabe, and even then, they probably wouldn’t have enough to reverse this amount of damage.
That’s why she needed Yan here. If she delved too deep, he could bring her back--attachments always did.
The darkness rejoiced at her touch, as always. It flooded through her being, burning and soothing in unison. She pulled it into her fingertips, and released it into the gash. Spine and skin knit itself back together, and Mara swam in the comforting depths of the Dark. Blood reversed its path, seeping back into the wound. The murky depths were now up to her waist.The bruising lessened, and Mara gasped as the Dark reached her neck. She could feel amber burning behind her eyes as Adonai’s leg twitched.
She could swim, but the Dark was beginning to drag her down. Adonai’s wound closed completely, but Mara suddenly found she couldn’t push it back. She had gone too deep. An uncomfortable rage built in her.
Why should she be using her power to save this undeserving pacifist? She deserved to rule this planet by herself!
“Mara,” a quiet voice spoke.
She spun, dark yellow eye lighting on the speaker. Jetti, she mentally snarled. Who was this to talk to her as an equal? To call her by her name? He deserved to kneel at her feet, to fall before her in fear and become her slave!
Her eye snapped to the small, wide-eyed child beside the Jetti.
Bo-Katan, her mind corrected. Her name is Bo-Katan. And you are her Ba’vodu.
The Dark’s grip on her lessened. She pulled it from her core, and pressed it back into its corner. You will not do that again. Remember, I am in charge.
The Dark growled at her, but retreated back into its place. The sudden loss of power left Mara light-headed. She stumbled back, rear hitting the dirt. For a moment, she sat and breathed.
“How are you feeling? Adoani rasped warily.
She forced a half-hearted smile on her face. “I’m good.” She glanced up at Yan. “I’m good.”
Yan nodded, but Mara knew he wasn’t convinced. “Good.” He glanced towards the house. “Tahl is one with the Force.”
“I felt it,” she replied, getting to her feet. “I felt Qui-Gon, too.”
Yan winced slightly. She knew he could feel Qui-Gon’s pain far sharper than she could. Mara helped Adonai sit up, then glanced back at the ruined trees and field.
Yan pointed to the treeline, and she saw the boy clutching his knees and hyperventilating. Mara frowned and looked back to Adonai, something registering in her brain.
“If Bo is here, Where’s Satine and Qui-Gon?”
Bo was the one who answered.
“They’re back at the safehouse.”
Mara stared at her in disbelief. “You mean you hiked all the way back here alone?”
Bo shook her head. “No. Well, the other Jetti…” her green eyes got very wide. “ The other Jetti! The Kyr’tsad got him! He needs our help! Dad, we’ve got to go get him!”
Mara frowned. “Wait. What other Jedi?”
Then a very bad, horrible inkling of suspicion popped into her head.
Mara turned her withering gaze on Yan. He cleared his throat.
“Yan, where is Obi-Wan?”
“ You what?!”
“Sorry, boss. We couldn’t kill him in the middle of the street.”
“So you bring him here?”
Obi-Wan blearily opened his eyes, blinking at the bright lights. His jaw really hurt, and the voices here were very loud.
“We didn’t have a choice!”
“And you! I send four of you to take care of a teenage girl and a single Jetti, and you couldn’t even manage that!” the first voice yelled. It was a youngish-sounding voice. Maybe only a little older than Obi-Wan himself.
“We’ll get them, Vizsla. Next time.”
Obi-Wan’s blood chilled. Vizsla. It couldn’t be Tor--it must be his son.
“No,” Vizsla snapped. “You showed our hand, and now they’re onto us. I’ll have to rethink my plans.”
“‘Lek ‘Alor,” the underling muttered. “What about the boy?”
Obi-Wan froze, making his breath as shallow as possible.
“There’s a work ship on Concord Dawn, isn’t there?”
Vizsla’s response sounded almost gleeful. “Go get the cuffs.”
Obi-Wan’s arm was roughly grabbed, and he was hauled upwards.
“Don’t think I didn’t notice you listening, hut’uun,” Vizsla hissed, and grabbed Obi-Wan’s chin. Obi-Wan was forced to look up into Vizsla’s cold blue eyes.
“Pleasure to finally make your acquaintance,” Obi-Wan managed. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Keep your mouth shut, Jetti.”
The other man returned with a pair of oddly humming handcuffs and collar. Just looking at them felt strange--as if they shouldn’t exist.
“We’ll see who’s laughing in a minute,” Vizsla said with a vicious smile.
“Was I laughing?” Obi-Wan asked innocently.
Vizsla struck him hard across the face. Obi-Wan tasted blood, and something clamped around his neck.
Immediately, the Force recoiled. Energy fled from his cells. Obi-Wan screamed as the Force severed from his grasp.
The familiar presences of Master Yan and Buir reached out towards him in tandem, worried for him. Then, they too fell silent.
Obi-Wan was aware of tears streaming down his face, but he didn’t care. The universe--once so loud and full of life--was suddenly silenced.
“Send a comm to Hrii. Tell him we’ve got another one.”
A violent wail of anguish ripped itself from Mara’s throat. She fell to the ground, fingers clutching her head.
Dooku pressed a hand to his forehead, and stumbled to his knees, grimacing fiercely.
Adonai stared down at them in helpless confusion. He glanced up to Yuzal.
“What’s happening to them?”
The boy shook his head. “I don’t know! I can’t feel anything!” He was shaking and crying.
“Dad, what’s wrong with them?” Bo yelled above Mara’s screams.
Then it was over. Mara’s hands dropped to her side. Her shoulders slumped as if in defeat. Dooku shakily stood.
The look on Mara’s face sent a chill through Adonai. Shock, loss, fear, utter grief… It was what he felt when Myyri died.
Then Mara was on her feet in a flash, grabbing Master Dooku by the tunics. She shook him roughly, and Dooku let her.
“You brought him here!” she shouted. “You were supposed to protect him. You swore to me you’d protect him!”
She was sobbing now, and there were tears in Dooku’s eyes as well. Adonai didn’t know what to do.
Mara shook him. “You swore,” she repeated through clenched teeth.
She half-collapsed against Dooku, and he held her up.
“I’m sorry,” Dooku whispered. Tears slipped down his cheeks.
“Kenobi,” she cried. “My Kenob’ika.”
Horrified realization dawned on Adonai. Her son! Mara’s son who was here guarding Satine without her knowledge. Mara’s only child was dead.
Was Satine alive? Was she safe? Surely she must be if neither had felt the other Jedi’s death. Mara’s son is dead! he shouted at himself.
“I’m so sorry,” he breathed.
Dooku glanced up at him, and nodded miserably. He must have known Kenobi very well.
Swore to protect him, his mind repeated. More than that, Dooku was responsible for her son.
Dooku was Kenobi’s Master.
Adonai watched in stunned silence as the two Force-users held each other.
This day had already taken the lives of two Jedi.
Adonai knew then, he had made a terrible mistake.
Travelling down the dusty roads of Mandalore with a teenage girl beside him, Qui-Gon’s day was already at rock-bottom. Tahl was gone. His light and happiness--beautiful, perfect Tahl.
He didn’t think it could get any worse.
That’s when a headache nearly split his skull in two. He let out a gasp, and caught himself against a tree. Obi-Wan’s scream. Miraal’s screams. Yan’s agonized cry.
He felt sick.
“Master Jinn, what is it?” Satine asked worriedly.
“Obi-Wan,” he gasped out. “He’s…”
But he couldn’t finish the sentence. Obi-Wan. His brother-padawan. The scrawny boy who’d followed him from the Temple to Bandomeer, and then stuck around.
Satine must have read the expression on his face, because she suddenly pressed a hand over her mouth. A stricken look crossed her young features.
Qui-Gon nodded, unable to speak. His heart ached.
Just like Tahl, he hadn’t been able to save them. Coming here was the biggest mistake of his life.
So, y'all remember when I said it would get happier? Yeah, I uh, may have lied.
And I stubbornly maintain that healing is a dark side ability.
Chapter 13: Try to Escape With Tricks and Charms
Disclaimer: I am the puppet, and the characters are my puppet masters.
WARNING: Semi-graphic depictions of abuse and slavery. This one gets real dark, folks. If you want to skip it, you technically can. I’ll throw in a summary at the end.
The part between <<<<<<<<< has no warnings.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Also, since I’m here, I’d like to give some much-deserved appreciation to my fellow fanfic writer and revolutionist. You could say it’s the Family Business, but there so happens to be another D’Cate hereabouts. OrianDCate, to be exact. He’s currently in the business of Harry Potter, Supernatural, and DC. If you want to take a gander at his many ideas, you’ll be in for a wild time.
Jango Fett rolled his shoulders, hearing his spine crack. He grunted in momentary relief, and then bent down to pick up yet another crate. His back creaked in protest, but he ignored it. Only one more hour until he could rest.
Hrii, the sleemo who owned him, didn’t like to work his slaves over sixteen hours at a time. Even he realized that sleep was mandatory for peak performance. Of course, even Jango would be willing to give up a few hours of sleep in exchange for some decent food and tihaar.
He’d been stuck with Hrii almost since Galidraan. There had been a brief stint where he’d belonged to a Rhodian. Jango shuddered with relief at never seeing her again. Then he’d been sold back to Hrii at a loss, and there he was still--stuck on this stupid ship in the back-end of nowhere.
Jango turned around at the sound of his nickname. In Mando’a, solus meant ‘lonely’, or ‘alone’. He hated it. Hated the constant reminder that it was the truth. Just like he hated the chains on his wrists, and the chip in his leg. He was a slave. Any chance he had of being rescued died the moment he heard about the slaughter at Galidraan. If any of his vode had survived, they likely thought he was dead.
“Yeah?” he replied to the sleemo.
“Got some fresh muscles for you. And the boss says finish that shipment before curfew.”
Jango nodded--the only response expected from him, and turned back to his work.
A whip ripped over his back, cutting across old scars.
“Next time, Solus, you will refer to me as ‘sir’.”
Jango grit his teeth--both from the pain, and from the effort it took to not punch this guy in the throat. Thankfully, the besom left, before Jango had the chance to test his resolve.
It wasn’t until he bent to pick up another crate that he noticed the shivering kid on the floor.
Jango put down the crate and crouched to check on the boy. His face was bruised, and that big brown robe of his probably wasn’t doing much to keep the cold of space away.
“First time?” he asked gently.
The boy looked up at him. Warm grey eyes sparkled, and Jango realized the boy was actually a young man.
“Being sold into slavery? No. Having a chip put in my leg that will blow me up if I breathe wrong? Yes,” the teenager said drily.
Jango almost smiled. At least he wasn’t a sobbing mess.
“What’s your name, ad’ika?” he asked.
The kid looked at him strangely, but replied. “Obi-Wan. What’s yours?”
Obi-Wan. Common name on Stewjon. Means nothing, son-of-no-one.
“Jango Fett,” he responded, moving another crate to the platform. “Or at least I used to be.”
“Jango Fett?” Obi-Wan repeated.
Jango eyed the teen. “Got a problem with it?”
“You’re the Mand’alor!” Obi-Wan exclaimed, an awestruck expression on his face.
Jango squinted at him in a new light. Not many people outside of Mandalore knew about his temporary title. He’d been Mand’alor barely a day before ending up stuck in this hellhole. This kid didn’t dress like one of the vode. Jango took in the simple tan clothes, and braid behind one ear. Everything clicked at once.
He was a Jetti!
“How do you know who I was?” Jango snarled. “Were you there? Were you on Galidraan?”
Obi-Wan--No! The Jetti flinched back, shrinking in on himself. “No, I wasn’t there.”
The intercom crackled to life. “ Get back to work! ”
Jango scowled up at the ceiling. Around them, the other slaves picked up the pace. Jango went back to ignoring everyone, and returned to moving crates of spice. Jango heard the Jetti hesitate for a second, then he picked up a crate, copying what Jango did. He continued pretending the Jetti didn’t exist.
Oh, how he hoped this Jetti and he got the same cage tonight.
He got his wish.
“I was on Ryloth at the time, but my Master was there,” Obi-Wan said quickly. He knew Mr. (King?) Fett would be mad at him no matter what he said, but he figured it would be smart to establish that he was not on Galidraan. He thought wrong.
A fist connected with his jaw. Without the Force, Obi-Wan couldn’t predict movements very well, so he only managed to dodge a few of the punches Mr. Fett threw at him.
“Your Master?” Mr. Fett snarled. “Your precious Jettise slaughtered my people!”
Obi-Wan dodged the punch aimed for his head, but got a fist to the gut instead. He bent over, trying to get in a full breath. The Mand’alor would get tired eventually. But golly, it kriffing hurt.
“They were given bad intel,” Obi-Wan protested. He straightened and put his arms up defensively.
He was exhausted, he ached, he missed Buir, and he missed Master Yan. The Force’s absence felt like a gaping hole in his soul. His stomach grumbled loudly, and a sharp pain was beginning to build behind his eyes. He simply didn’t have the energy to fight off a man so much bigger and stronger than he was. His movements were sloppy and uncoordinated, and his shoulder burned brom the blaster wound.
Another fist came at him. Obi-Wan tried to block it, but his attempt was too slow. Obi-Wan’s nose snapped. He fell to the floor of the cage he shared with a madman, tears springing into his eyes.
“Bad intel?!” Mr. Fett screamed. Fingers wrapped around Obi-Wan’s neck. “The Jettise knew what they were doing! Don’t dare claim it was otherwise!”
Obi-Wan grabbed Fett’s wrists, trying fiercely to pry them off his throat.
“I understand your anger,” Obi-Wan gasped. The only thing he could do was try to talk him down. “It was the Jedi’s fault. We should have checked the facts, and we should have helped look for you.”
The fingers tightened, squeezing into his windpipe.
“I don’t want your understanding,” Fett hissed. “I want my revenge.”
To fight back would only make Fett angrier. To respond with a sarcastic comment would automatically end in his death. The only other option Obi-Wan could think of would be a dare.
Obi-Wan looked straight into his attacker’s golden eyes. “Then take it.”
Obi-Wan could read people, even without the Force. Jango Fett was a killer. But he was also the man from Buir’s stories--the brave idiot and hero. He only hoped the man’s set of misguided morals included not killing minors.
The pressure on his throat neither lessened nor increased. Either way, Obi-Wan’s vision was starting to go dark and flashing red. No oxygen. His lungs screamed in protest, and his muscles went limp. He was going to die here, and no one would ever know. He could feel himself drifting away.
Just as his eyes closed, the pressure on his neck disappeared. Obi-Wan rolled to his side, ragged breaths coming fast. His vision cleared, and his muscles sighed in relief. Apparently, Obi-Wan’s gamble had paid off. Not terrifically well, but at least it had worked. Obi-Wan crawled back a few steps, supporting himself with his elbows.
Fett was staring at him. His golden eyes watched closely, as if he would break. Obi-Wan rubbed his neck and tried to gauge whether or not Fett would try anything. They stayed that way for a long second, staring at each other.
Jango Fett stared down at his shaking hands, then to the Jett’ika.
Had he really…?
The blinding rage left, and his mind calmed.
Obi-Wan rolled to his side, coughing and sucking in air. Jango backed up into the far corner of the cramped cage as fast as he could.
Obi-Wan rubbed his throat, and eyed him warily.
The kid had all but given up! He really would have let Jango finish what he started. He hadn’t even fought back like Jango had expected.
Jango sat back heavily on his heels, trying to make himself scarce.
The kid opened his mouth to say something, but Jango turned around quickly and lay on his side, back facing Obi-Wan. He didn’t want to hear what the Jetti wanted to say. He needed to think.
Thankfully, the kid seemed to get the hint. He heard Obi-Wan sigh, and shuffle into his own corner.
The silence dragged on into what seemed like forever, but no matter what he tried, Jango couldn’t fall asleep.
“ Satine is fine, but Obi-Wan-- ”
“Yes. We know,” Dooku replied stonily.
“ I’m so sorry, Master. It’s all my fault.”
Dooku’s eyes snapped up to the comm. Qui-Gon hadn't called him that in years.
“It’s no one’s fault but my own.” Dooku deflated, shoulders slumping. He felt so very tired at that moment. “I should not have brought any of you here with me.”
“ Master, did Tahl...did she…”
“She did not suffer, my old apprentice.”
From half a world over, Dooku felt a small breath of relief from Qui-Gon.
“I will see you soon, Qui-Gon. Take care of yourself,” Dooku said, then, before it could get too emotional, he signed off. He supposed he was lucky to get any message through at all, with how messed up the communication systems were. There was still no way for them to reach the Jedi Temple.
Dooku slipped his comm back in his pocket, and turned to face the Mandalorians.
“Your daughter is safe, Jord’alor,” he announced.
The Duke collapsed in relief. Mara held him upright. It seemed her attempt to heal his spine hadn’t been completely successful.
“Death Watch attacked this morning. They failed in their assassination attempt, but one of them managed to escape.”
Both Jord’alor and Mand’alor scowled.
“I suppose we should get together a plan of some sort,” The Duke began.
“I’m leaving,” Mara interrupted.
Dooku blinked at her in surprise. Surely she wouldn’t abandon her people now!
“Mara,” he started, but she cut him off.
“I’ll take Bo and Yuzal to Keldabe. They’re safer with me,” she continued. “Yan, you and Adonai meet up with Satine and Qui-Gon. It’ll be easier for you to protect both of them together.”
Dooku found himself agreeing. He might not like it, but they would be far more effective as a more balanced team.
“Bo stays with me,” Kryze said stubbornly.
“Having both girls together is a bad idea. It makes for too big of a target,” Mara countered. “Bo goes with me and Yuzal.”
“It’s the best way,” Dooku stated firmly.
Kryze glanced helplessly between the two of them. “They’re Myyri’s children.”
“I know,” Mara said softly. “I swear I will keep her safe.”
Kryze straightened, removing his weight from Mara’s shoulders.
“I will hold you to your vow,” he said solemnly. “I am entrusting all that I have to you, Miraal. If you break that trust, I will make you regret it.”
“I would expect no less, Kryze,” she replied, just as seriously. “Take care of yourself out there.” Mara looked at Dooku. “When you see Qui-Gon, punch him in the face, would you?”
Dooku nodded, then found himself grabbed into a hug. After an awkward moment, he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her in return.
“Please don’t do anything reckless,” Yan said, surprising himself at how much he meant it.
“I’ll try not to,” she whispered. “I’ll see you at the end of this.”
She released the hug--far too soon, in Dooku’s opinion--and turned to the Duke.
“Ret’urcye mhi, vode,” she bowed. Kryze managed a half-bow in return.
Then she hoisted Bo onto her hip, and took Yuzal’s hand.
Bo waved goodbye to her father, and Adonai half-heartedly waved back.
Dooku had the sinking feeling that it would be a while before they saw each other again.
ONE WEEK LATER
Obi-Wan learned very quickly not to mention anything about the Jedi or Galidraan.
After the first day, Jango had resorted to hating him in silence. But who knew how Jango would react if he knew that Obi-Wan’s mother--a Force-user-- was standing in as Mand’alor.
The work on the ship was difficult, but it wasn’t like there was anything else he could do to pass the time. Without the Fore to sustain and support him, Obi-Wan’s point of exhaustion came a lot sooner than he was used to. His muscles ached, and he was certain he would never be able to stand up straight again, but he wasn’t about to slack off and give Jango another reason to hate him.
“So, where did the Jettise steal you from?”
Obi-Wan glanced over at Jango in surprise. It was the first time the older man had addressed him directly in days.
“Stewjon, technically. And they didn’t steal me. My guardians handed me over.”
Jango scoffed. “And I’m sure the Jettise would never mind-trick someone into giving up their adike.”
“No. They never would,” Obi-Wan retorted. “The Jedi may have faults, but we are not ad’chakur utreekov hut’uun.”
Jango gave him a strange look. “Who taught you Mando’a?”
Too late, Obi-Wan realized his mistake. Well, he couldn’t lie to the Mand’alor.
“My buir,” he admitted carefully. “She’s a bounty hunter.”
It was technically true. She was a bounty hunter--when she wasn’t in charge of a planet, that is.
“Your buir is Mando’ade?”
Obi-Wan nodded, and Jango snarled. “And she gave you up to the Jettise?”
“No!” he said quickly. “She couldn’t care for me, so she left me with people she trusted. They’re the ones who gave me to the Jedi.”
Jango seemed to consider that for a moment. “Your buir never came back for you?”
Obi-Wan hurriedly shook his head. “No, she did come back. But I wanted to continue my training, so she let me.”
“She let you become a Jetti--the people notorious for hating Mandalorians?”
It didn’t seem like Jango understood. They fell into an uncomfortable silence.
“She still hates the Jedi,” Obi-Wan said after a long minute. “Especially after Galidraan.” Jango’s jaw clenched. “But family is more important to her than revenge.”
Silence filled the air again, and they continued their work.
It was the silence that Obi-Wan was coming to hate the most. Usually, the quiet centered and calmed him. With the Force, silence was never actually soundless.
But this? Where the only things he could hear were the droning engines and his own breathing? It was torture.
Overhead, the intercomm crackled on.
“ You slimy banthas have five minutes to make yourselves presentable,” a scratchy voice announced. “ A ship full of buyers is on the way.”
Obi-Wan blanched. He couldn’t be sold! Jango was just starting to warm up to him, and compared to Bandomeer, this past week had been easy. Who knows what kind of place he might end up in? What if he ended up in a place so horrible, Buir never found him?
A heavy hand squeezed his shoulder. “Take a breath, Jett’ika.”
Obi-Wan obeyed reflexively, taking a few shuddering breaths.
“Relax, and take off your shirt,” Jango ordered.
Obi-Wan blinked at him in confusion. Jango pulled off his own grimy shirt and handed it to Obi-Wan.
“It’ll make you look smaller. Buyers don’t like the small ones,” he said by way of explanation.
Obi-Wan hurried to take off his dirty robes, and pulled on Jango’s ever dirtier shirt.
Jango grabbed a handful of dust from the floor and held it out to him. “Put this on your face.”
Obi-Wan quickly rubbed the dust across his face and neck. Then, it occurred to him what Jango was trying to do. He was saving him from the worst buyers that might look at him. Dirt tended to dissuade the more wealthy slavers.
Jango, however, was now without anything to cover himself. Obi-Wan stared at the other man’s physique. He was, what Buir would call, ‘shredded’. He wasn’t much inclined to notice other men, but even he had to admit that the man’s muscles were impressive.
“Didn't your buir teach you not to stare?” Jango snapped.
Obi-Wan dragged his attention away as the cargo doors opened.
All seven of the other slaves quickly got into a line. Obi-Wan made sure to slouch, making himself look as small as he could.
Captain Hrii stepped forward, clapping his hands together. A half-dozen richly dressed people followed him into the hold.
“As you can see for yourselves, they are all hardworking.”
A woman-- Zygerrian, Obi-Wan’s mind supplied--stepped closer. She stared long and hard at him. Obi-Wan gulped and shrank in on himself further. Then her eye drifted to Jango who was standing tall and proud beside him. Obi-Wan saw her tongue dart out for a moment.
“Who is this specimen?” the Zygerrian asked.
“That is the prize of my collection, Ma’am,” Captain Hrii said with a smirk. “He’s a Mandalorian. We call him Solus, or Sol.”
The Zygerrian ran her clawed fingers over Jango’s bare chest. Jango flinched for a moment, but then he went back to glaring at everything and everyone.
Someone suddenly grabbed Obi-Wan’s face, and he tried to not react with a punch.
“What’s your name, boy?” the Dug growled.
Might as well play up the act a little.
“O-Obi-Wan, s-sir,” he stuttered, adding in some shivers for the effect.
The Dug twisted Obi-Wan’s face to the left, inspecting every angle.
“You’re sort of pretty under all that mud,” the Dug said thoughtfully.
Obi-Wan didn’t have to fake a shiver this time.
“How old is he?” the Zygerrian asked.
“We figured around twenty-four standard, Ma’am,” Captain Hrii replied.
“And this one?” the Dug asked, still gripping Obi-Wan’s face.
Captain Hrii tilted his head, trying to judge Obi-Wan’s age. Obi-Wan hunched his shoulders and looked at the Captain with all the youthful innocence he could muster.
“Perhaps fourteen or fifteen,” Hrii settled on.
Obi-Wan winced. He had aimed more for twelve--even though he knew he had filled out a lot during his padawan years so far. Not to mention, he was altogether too tall to be considered younger than fourteen.
He glanced away in frustration, and saw the other slaves being examined just as thoroughly as he and Jango were. Jango was standing ever so still as the Zygerrian checked over his ears and mouth. Obi-Wan felt the pure rage building inside Jango, and for once, Obi-Wan felt his emotions rising to match the older man’s.
These were people, for Force’s sake! And they were being traded and bartered away like common goods!
“What is your price?”
Obi-Wan’s attention snapped back to the present. The Zygerrian handed Hrii a stack of credits, and Hrii handed her a controller to the slave chip.
Obi-Wan’s heart flopped. Jango had just been sold.
“A pleasure as always, Captain Hrii.”
“I’ll take this one,” the Dug announced, finally letting go of Obi-Wan’s chin.
A jolt of fear struck Obi-Wan.
No, no, no…
The Dug tossed a bag of credits at Hrii, and Obi-Wan’s last glimmer of hope flickered.
A slight rattling sound echoed through the hold.
“What was that?” the Zygerrian asked.
Captain Hrii tapped his comm. “Rupp, what was that noise?”
“ Captain, we’ve got a situation up here. You’d better get up here quick,” came the slightly panicked reply.
Hrii didn’t get the chance to take a single step towards the door.
A deafening explosion rocked the entire ship.
Obi-Wan stumbled back, crashing into the wall.
The lights cut out, and the hold’s occupants were cast into abysmal darkness.
SUMMARY: Obi-Wan ended up on the same slaver ship that Jango was on. Jango now knows that Obi-Wan's mom is a Mandalorian, but he doesn't know it's Mara. Jango and Obi-Wan were about to be sold to another owner when shennanigans happened. You'll find out what happened in the next chapter.
Chapter 14: Will It Be Harvest or a Killing Storm
The closer finals get, the less chapters I have time to write. Sorry about the delay. Hopefully, I'll have another one up this weekend.
Disclaimer: The Hobbits have been taken to Isengard.
ONE WEEK AGO...
Garen Muln and Reeft strolled through the Jedi Temple. They were enjoying some time together with the rest of the gang before Garen had to leave for another mission. Aside from Obi-Wan, the original band was all here.
“Are you and Master Giett leaving anytime soon?” Reeft asked.
Garen nodded. “Tomorrow or the day after. I hope Obi-Wan’ll be back by then.”
“He and Master Dooku are the best team in the Temple. He’ll be back,” Reeft said, satisfied that it was the truth.
Garen and Reeft turned the corner, and came face to face with the strangest-looking scene of their lives.
“But, Siri!” Quinlan protested. “I’m in love with you!”
Siri Tachi whirled on her heel, coming face to face with the pleading Kiffar. “Never in a million years, Vos.”
“After all that time, will you love me enough?” Quinlan persisted. He fell to his knees in front of her. “Please, Siri. I’ll just die if you don’t.”
“You say it, but you don’t mean it,” Quinlan whined. “You know I won’t survive.”
“And yet, I am unmoved,” Siri deadpanned.
Garen noticed Bant watching the whole debacle with an amused smile. The two teenage boys quietly stepped over to their friend, so as not to interrupt Siri and Quinlan’s...whatever it was.
“Hey, Bant,” Reeft whispered. “What is happening right now? Have we teleported to another dimension?”
Bant glanced away from the scene. “The finale of Chronicles of Corellia is coming out tonight, and Quinlan is trying to guilt Siri out of her datapad so he can watch it.”
“Why?” Garen frowned. “Doesn’t he have one of his own?”
“He broke it during lunch.”
“What was he doing in the cafeteria that was violent enough to break a datapad?” Reeft asked.
Bant gave an indelicate snort. “You guys missed one heck of a fight.”
“Tachi, I will give you my first-born,” Quinlan begged. “Please, just put me out of my misery and say yes!”
Siri’s eyes were cold steel. “A good deal, that is not.”
Quinlan flopped to the ground in a hopeless heap. Siri smirked in victory, and the three on-lookers laughed.
Garen was about to tell Quin that he could borrow his datapad, but as soon as he opened his mouth, a horribly cold feeling swept over him.
Something really bad was about to happen.
Then the Force opened, and the world around them shattered.
Quinlan let out a sharp yell.
A strangled scream erupted from Bant.
“ Master Tahl!” Bant fell to the floor, sobbing. “ No! No, no, no, no! ”
Siri went deathly pale. She and Garen locked eyes.
“What was that?” Reeft whimpered.
Garen didn’t want to say it. Siri shook her head in stunned disbelief. She wasn’t going to say it either.
“Obi-Wan…” Quinlan whispered.
Reeft shook his head. “No. It can’t be. He’s fine. He’s not…”
But he couldn’t finish the sentence.
“I can’t feel him,” Siri said dully.
Garen shook his head. “There has to be an explanation. He can’t just be gone. Master Tahl either. Wherever they are, they’re in trouble--like when Xanatos kidnapped them.”
“Someone will know,” Reeft said hopefully. “One of the Masters must know something.”
“We’ll go to the Council,” Quinlan said. His fists were clenched, and there was an odd spark in his eyes.
“We can’t just ask the Council ,” Siri protested, but her usual rule-abiding self did nothing to stop her friends from following Quinlan Vos down the halls.
The five rushed towards the Council chambers, sprinting as fast as they could go. Quinlan got there first. He didn’t bother knocking or stopping to announce himself first. He simply burst in, four other Padawans on his heels.
Masters Windu, Massa and Poof were the only ones in the room when they entered. Garen slowly minutely, He never much liked Master Massa after what Obi-Wan told them.
“There’s something wrong,” Quinlan announced. “Obi-Wan is in danger.”
“We can’t feel him,” Reeft added.
Master Windu immediately looked concerned. “When did this start?”
“Just a moment ago,” Siri replied.
Masters Massa and Poof looked at the group disapprovingly. Apparently they thought it wasn’t important enough to be interrupted for. Garen glared right back at them.
Master Windu closed his eyes, and Garen could feel him sensing the Force for Obi-Wan.
“We have had no contact from either Padawan Kenobi, or Master Dooku, and we are unable to raise them on the comm,” Master Windu said finally, opening his eyes. He looked sad--sadder than he thought the Korun Master could ever look. “You are right. I am sorry, Padawans. I can find no trace of Padawan Kenobi.”
“He is likely dead,” Master Poof added somberly.
Siri lost all color in her face.
“No!” Reeft and Bant shouted in unison.
“There has to be another explanation,” Siri said imploringly.
“Master Tahl is missing from the Force, too,” Quinlan said stiffly. Garen noticed the older boy flexing his fist furiously. Quinlan was angry. Garen didn’t blame him.
“As far as we know, Master Tahl is still on Coruscant,” Master Windu interjected, frown deepening.
Bant shook her head furiously, tears staining her pink skin. “No! She said she was going on a mission. She left the same time Obi-Wan and Master Dooku did!”
“Aren’t you going to do anything?” Garen demanded impatiently, leaving propriety in the dust.
“Watch your tone, Padawan,” Master Massa growled. “I, for one, am never setting foot on Mandalore again.”
“I’m sorry, Padawans. Without being able to speak with someone on Mandalore and find out the situation, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do,” Master Windu apologized.
Quinlan gave a single, jerky nod, and purposefully walked out of the Council chambers. Garen glanced back at the Masters helplessly. Surely, they could do something! They wouldn’t leave them alone on Mandalore! But none of the Jedi offered any word. Garen turned, and left the room as fast as he could.
Quinlan was already out of sight.
Reeft huffed in frustration. “We have to do something!”
“There’s nothing else we can do,” Siri said dimly.
“Yes, there is,” Garen countered immediately. “We’re going to Mandalore.”
He was not leaving his best friend behind. He needed to get to Mandalore. If it were true, and Obi-Wan was gone… then Garen didn’t know what he would do.
Siri stared at him. “We can’t go to Mandalore ! We’re Jedi!”
“Don’t you want to help Obi-Wan?” Reeft asked stubbornly.
“Of course I do,” Siri snapped back. “But what if--”
“Stop arguing!” Bant broke in. “I need to know what happened to Master Tahl. If she and Obi-Wan are both in trouble, then we need to help them.”
“Anyone happen to know when the next shuttle leaves for Mandalore?”Garen quipped.
“Absolutely not,” Siri said staunchly. “We are not going anywhere. Master Dooku and Obi-Wan’s mom are on Mandalore. They can take care of everything by themselves.”
“But what if they need help, too?” Bant asked. “There’s no way Master Dooku would let Master Tahl or Obi-Wan get hurt if he wasn’t in trouble himself.”
“We should wait for an adult…” Siri tried.
Quinlan came back into view. He walked up to them with a singularly focused look on his face.
Garen jerked a finger in his direction. “He’s an adult.”
“Where were you, Quin?” Reeft asked.
“I found us a ship. We’re leaving in ten minutes,” Quinlan replied flatly.
“I’m not even going to ask, because I don’t want to know,” Reeft said philosophically. “I’ll see you all in ten minutes.”
He walked off, presumably to grab some things for the trip. The remaining four looked at Siri.
“Well?” Garen asked. “Are you coming or staying?”
She hesitated a bare second. “I…” then her jaw clenched. “I’m coming.”
“Good,” Quinlan nodded. “It should take us about two days to reach Mandalore. If we don’t get into any trouble on the way, that is.”
“We’re just four teenagers and a depressed twenty-one-year-old.” Garen shrugged, “what could happen?”
IN THE PRESENT...
Kal Skirata and Rav Bralor stuck to the side of the building, letting the shadows hide their movements.
They came to a doorway with a young boy playing outside. The boy watched them closely, though he continued bouncing the red ball like he didn’t see them.
This was the place.
Kal stepped past the boy and knocked on the door. Twice, then three times more in rapid succession. A small panel opened at eye-height, and the face of Bo-Katan Kryze glared out at them.
“Password,” she demanded. And strangely, her high-pitched voice didn’t sound adorable.
“Blue kyber,” Rav replied.
Bo-Katan nodded, and slammed the hatch closed. Then the door swung open.
Kal entered first, noticing the youngest Kryze standing on a chair by the door. She was alternating between glaring at them, and glaring outside.
Kal was hardly surprised to see the old storage house transformed into a war room. But he was more surprised to see who was standing at the head of the table.
Mara Miraal stepped forward, hand outstretched. They clasped vambraces, and Miraal gestured to the room around them.
“Welcome to main base, Skirata. Bralor.”
Rav and Miraal clasped vambraces as well.
“Thanks for having us,” Rav said with a slight smile.
“What’s the play?” Kal asked, getting right to the point.
Miraal led them to a table with a map of Sundari splayed across it.
“I’ve had a week to plan the perfect assault, but I need your help.” She pointed to a spot near the treeline outside of the city. It didn’t look like much, but Kal knew what was really there. “We take out the Death Watch while they’re asleep. Thirty minutes at maximum. In, out, done.”
Kal blinked at her. “That’s it? A whole week, and that’s your plan?”
She shrugged. “That was the basic outline. You want to hear the complicated version?”
Kal didn’t like the smile on her face, but he nodded regardless.
Miraal’s feral grin grew, and she flipped over the map.
After a solid week of being stuck together, Qui-Gon remembered why he and Dooku never really got along.
“We were supposed to go left,” his former Master said with barely concealed ire.
Qui-Gon grit his teeth, and took a calming breath. “You’re the one with the map!”
“Yes. And it seems we made a wrong turn,” Dooku pointed out again.
“ You got us lost,” Qui-Gon grumbled stubbornly.
“I thought the Living Force would guide us, since you always seemed to prefer to follow it rather than me ,” he replied with biting sarcasm.
Satine sighed triedly. “Could you please stop fighting? It’s not doing us any good.”
“I agree,” Adonai said. Exhaustion bled through his words. “Might we keep our attention on the path?”
“Can we stop soon?” Satine asked. “We need to refill on water.”
“A good idea,” the Duke remarked.
Qui-Gon knew they were trying to keep the journey from being horrible silent, but he had to admit it was working to some extent.
Qui-Gon was about to agree, when he heard a noise. The Force buzzed around them.
“Yan,” he said calmly. Dooku’s eyebrows raised at the informal address. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen these kinds of trees before. Have you?”
Dooku quietly glanced at the nearby treeline. His eyes narrowed when he realized what Qui-Gon had already figured out. They were being watched.
“No, I don’t believe I have, Qui-Gon.”
“How peculiar,” remarked Satine bitterly. “They are quite common in these parts.”
Apparently she’d figured it out as well.
They travelled in tense silence, waiting for something to happen. Both Dooku and Qui-Gon kept their hands close to their lightsabers.
Half an hour passed, and Qui-Gon was beginning to think whoever was following them was never going to make their move.
However, he was wrong.
Not even Qui-Gon was expecting a concussion grenade to come flying out of the woods. He barely had time to shield his eyes before it exploded.
Qui-Gon blocked two blaster bolts blindly. He stepped back to cover Satine, while Dooku did the same for the Duke.
His vision finally cleared, and Qui-Gon noticed nearly a dozen Mandalorians firing at them from the woods. Every one was wearing blue and grey armour.
Qui-Gon and Dooku easily deflected every bolt back. The Duke and Satine stood behind them, firing their own blasters at the Death Watch.
Barely a handful of seconds after it started, the assault halted dead in its tracks.
A young man walked out of the woods. His armour was the same as the rest of the Death Watch, but there was a strange symbol painted on the helmet. It looked similar to a broken trident.
The young man walked closer, and Qui-Gon realized with a jolt that he couldn’t be any older than eighteen.
“You should never have brought the Jettise here!” the teenager yelled.
“Have you not had your fill of bloodshed, Vizsla?” Kryze shouted.
Oh. This was Pre Vizsla.
Anger flashed through Qui-Gon. This was the man responsible for Obi-Wan--for Tahl .
Pre Vizsla would die today, if he had anything to do with it.
“You are not the true Mand’alor,” Vizsla shouted back. “You have no claim to the title, and yet you expect everyone to follow you!”
“Your claim to the throne is no more substantial than mine,” Kryze responded. “You have fought and bribed your way into the title of dictator, just like your father!”
He shook his head. “You still have no clue, do you, Kryze? Just as blind to the Jettise’s lies as ever. Even Miraal saw it, despite being one of them.”
Qui-Gon couldn’t help the snarl that escaped his throat. Vizsla’s gaze snapped to him, and the impudent whelp smirked!
“They will destroy you, Kryze--as they destroy everything they touch.”
Kryze stepped forward with a lifted chin. He hid his limp well, but Qui-Gon knew that standing straight must hurt him.
“I would rather place my trust in them than in a snake like you!”
Qui-Gon agreed completely.
Vizsla pulled what looked like a sword hilt from his tac-belt.
“This saber has killed both Mandalorians and Jettise. I know its violent history, and I have seen the damage it causes.” He glanced past them to Satine. “Would you have more of your family’s blood stain its blade?”
Satine growled lowly at him, raising her blaster.
Kryze’s scowl deepened at the blatant threat.
“Master Jedi, would you lend me your saber?”
Qui-Gon looked back at the Duke. His eyes were stony and determined as he held his hand to Dooku.
“Adonai,” Dooku shook his head. “I will not let you do this.”
Qui-Gon had reached his limit. He unhooked his own saber from his belt, and handed it to the Duke
Kryze nodded in silent appreciation, and walked stiffly forward, Qui-Gon’s blade in his hand.
“You have threatened the citizens of Mandalore, and you have threatened my family,” he announced.
Vizsla sighed, and ignited his own blade--black, rimmed in white. “Never forget that I tried to reason with you, Kryze. This is your last chance.”
The Duke swung first.
Jango instinctively reached out to grab Obi-Wan as an explosion rocked the ship. His fingers brushed the edge of Obi-Wan’s shirt, then the lights went out.
Shouting and blaster-fire sounded from the decks above him. A few bolts of red flew over his head, burning the air.
“Jango?!” he heard Obi-Wan yell.
Jango fumbled around in the dark, cursing every time he grabbed something that wasn’t the Jett’ika. Finally, he found Obi-Wan crouched over a dead body. He was trying to grab Jango’s hand.
“It’s alright, vod’ika. We’ll get out of this,” Jango said, trying to stop him from panicking. Then Jango felt Obi-Wan press something into his palm. It took him all of one second to realize it was the remote to his slave chip.
“I got us some blasters!” Obi-Wan yelled above the din.
Another object was placed in Jango’s hand. It was a blaster-- a DC-17, to be precise. He grinned manically,
“Get to the bridge!” he shouted.
Obi-Wan raced away, and Jango was left in the dark. He settled beside one of the crates, and fired at everything that moved.
If it weren’t so blastedly dark, he could aim for what--or who-- he wanted to hit. But for now, he was resigned to firing blindly, and hoping none of the other slaves got hurt. He crouched in the dark, waiting and shooting. With any luck, Obi-Wan would fix the lights.
Just as the thought entered his mind, the lights came back on. Jango winced, eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness.
The hold was a bloodbath. Every one of the slavers was dead, and so were two of the slaves--two Twi’leks he couldn’t remember the names of.
The Zygerrian lay a few steps in front of Jango, right where his line of fire had been. Huh. Shooting her wasn’t nearly as satisfying as he thought it would be.
Aside from a few whimpers from the other slaves, the hold was silent. He could still hear yelling and the odd blaster being discharged, but it was coming from the other end of the ship.
Jango hurriedly deactivated his chip, and shoved the remote in his pocket for safe-keeping. Then he grabbed the keys from Hrii’s belt and undid his chains. He dropped the keys on his way out, and headed for the main part of the ship.
Staying close to the walls, Jango listened for every sound. He kept his Deecee raised, ready to shoot anything that came around a corner. With any luck, Obi-Wan would still be on the bridge, so that’s where he headed.
Fortunately, he only ran across one of Hrii’s crew. The rest must have been dead or captured by then. Jango shot the crewman without blinking, and continued on his way.
As he neared the bridge, sounds of cheering and laughing grew louder. Jango kept an extra eye out, and stepped through the door.
The bridge was full of pirates. Weequay pirates--the worst kind.
They were all lounging around the room, laughing and counting out Hrii’s loot. The way they were acting wouldn’t look out of place in a bar on Corellia. The most Jango could hope for at this point was directions to Obi-Wan, and a way off this Ka’ra-haark ship.
“Excuse me!” he shouted. None of them heard him.
He stopped in the doorway, and fired a single bolt into the roof.
Immediately, every blaster barrel swiveled toward him.
Jango nodded. “Thank you. I’m looking for my little brother. You might have seen him. Spiky red hair, kind of skinny?”
A crowd of Weequays parted, showing a direct path to the boy in question.
Obi-Wan was sitting on top of the captain’s chair, listening intently to a Weequay with obnoxiously green goggles.
Obi-Wan glanced up at him, and grinned. “Hello, Jango!”
Jango nodded with a grimace. He still felt guilty. He had no right to put a smile on the kid’s face. Not after what he did.
The Weequay Obi-Wan was talking with turned as well, a huge grin plastered on his wrinkled face.
“Ah, you must be the young pirate’s guardian!” the Weequay exclaimed, as if it somehow made him happy. Jango didn’t trust happy pirates.
“I mean, I guess?” Jango said warily.
The pirate stood and bowed to him with a grand flourish.
“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fett. I am Captain Hondo Ohnaka.”
Chapter 15: Dance With the Demon
In case I don't have a chapter up by Sunday, have a Happy Halloween everybody!
Disclaimer: Beware of seagulls. They are coming for your knees.
You can dance with the demon,
look him dead into the eyes
I've already been where we go when we die
Mara stared blankly between her two allies.
“Pre Vizsla...tried to recruit you...into Death Watch,” she said distantly.
Kal and Rav nodded.
“He said Tor got a lot wrong,” Kal continued. “He wants to make Mandalore a place where, and I quote: No one is afraid of the armour .”
“Only of the sabers,” Rav finished.
Mara continued staring dumbly, mind whirling a mile a minute.
“So, how do the pacifists fit into his perfect plan?” she asked, once her brain had caught up.
Kal and Rav glanced at each other.
“He said as long as the New Mandalorians stayed off the throne and stopped calling the Jettise, he would leave them alone,” Rav replied.
“A few of us have joined him. Several of the New Mandos, too,” Kal continued. “But most of us are waiting on you to make a decision, ‘Alor.”
Mara’s jaw clenched. “Duvall joined, didn’t he?”
“He and a few others,” Kal admitted. “There was a meeting last night. It ended in a big fight, and we ended up throwing Duvall and two of his cronies out on their shebs.”
“Sorry I missed it,” Mara muttered. Her gaze dropped to the floor, and she thought.
“Death Watch engineered Galidraan,” Rav said slowly. “I never liked Pre. But if he’s decided to learn from Tor’s mistakes…”
Mara looked up at her two friends. “Do you think I should hear him out?”
“It’s your decision, ‘Alor,” Kal said quietly. “From what I heard, Pre was spouting a bunch of nonsense, but I agree with Bralor. Pre’s still a hotheaded kid. Maybe he’ll grow up.”
Mara nodded wordlessly. It was a lot to think about. She knew she couldn’t trust Pre. But in a way, she did agree with Kal and Rav. Maybe Pre would grow up. It didn’t make up for anything he’s done in the past. Sith Hells , Mara knew she would never forgive Pre for what he did to Obi-Wan. The thought of never seeing Kenobi’s grey eyes again sent shards of glass into her heart. But she was more than a mother. She was the Mand’alor, and that meant she had to put the people’s needs first. If listening to Pre would help Mandalore, then she was bound to listen.
Decision made, Mara drew a long breath.
“Where is Pre’s camp?”
“Are we there yet?” Reeft asked for the millionth time.
Siri grit her teeth, and her fists clenched around the controls. “We would have been there three days ago if someone hadn’t dumped all our fuel!”
Garen threw his hands up defensively. “Hey, don’t blame me. Quinlan and Reeft were the ones wrestling around the controls.”
“We wouldn’t have been fighting if you hadn’t decided to pick up that hitchhiker.” Quinlan growled, rubbing his sore arm.
“How was I supposed to know he was going to steal our supplies?” Garen exclaimed.
“Enough!” Bant snapped. Everyone fell silent, but piercing glares continued to be flung around the cockpit.
“The thieving hitchhiker was Garen’s fault, the loss of fuel is Quin and Reeft’s fault, and the bar fight on Wayland was Siri’s fault!” Bant continued irately. “Could you all please stop arguing so we can get to Mandalore sometime in the next rotation?”
The teenagers sulked in bitter silence.
“Well, there’s one thing we’ve learned from all of this,” Garen remarked. “We don’t need Obi-Wan around to get us into trouble.”
Quinlan picked up a wrench and hurled it at Garen’s head.
“If you lose today, your daughters will be left alone,” Pre Vizsla stated, blocking a clumsy blow from Kryze.
“If I lose, my daughters will rule in my place,” Kryze shot back.
Vizsla snarled. His plan of killing Kryze flew out the window. He wanted Kryze alive to bear the weight of his humiliation.
He wanted Kryze put back in his place.
Green clashed sloppily against black.
Kryze’s blade swung dangerously close to Pre’s face, and Pre brought up his blade to deflect it. He twisted Kryze’s blade away, but the action threw Kryze off-balance. He stumbled. Pre took the opportunity, and swept his leg out. Kryze tripped backwards. The green saber fell to the ground along with the Duke. Kryze grunted in pain.
Pre held the Darksaber to Kryze’s throat.
Kryze glared up at him through pain-filled eyes. “Your kingdom will crumble, Pre.”
Pre lowered the Darksaber. “Yours already has. Your death will serve nothing today. Take your family and leave Mandalore.”
Kryze let out a short breath, and bowed his head. In an instant, all the fight drained out of him. “You win, Vizsla. I’ll go.”
Then, a blaster-bolt ripped through Kryze’s chest. His daughter screamed.
Pre watched in stunned silence as Kryze slumped over, a smoking hole through his heart.
His gaze snapped around to the treeline. One of his own men had executed Kryze!
“Who fired that shot?” he shouted angrily. There was no reply. “I command you to answer me.”
The woods stayed silent.
The snap-hiss of a lightsaber sounded behind him, and Pre spun around, bringing the Darksaber up on instinct.
The long-haired Jetti was running at him--rage in his eyes, and a saber in his grip.
“Qui-Gon, don’t!” the older Jetti yelled.
Pre lifted the Darksaber just in time to block a slice aimed for his throat.
Once again, green flared against black, but this time, Pre wasn’t sure he could win.
Mara sank to her knees.
“Adonai is dead,” she whispered dully.
“How?” Rav sounded stunned. “I thought he was with your friends.”
“I don’t know.” She swallowed around the lump forming in her throat. “He was in pain.
Mara tiredly pushed herself back up to her feet. She rubbed a hand over her eyes to dispel the tears that were gathering there.
So much death. All around her. Kenobi, Jaster, little Kenob’ika, Myyri, Adonai.
No matter what she did, everyone died. She felt suddenly very weary.
Mara’s heart clenched. How could she tell Bo?
She put on a false smile. “Yes, Bo’ika?”
“What’s happened?” Bo asked suspiciously. Yuzal stood behind her, eyes wide. The two of them waited for her answer.
Mara didn’t insult Bo by kneeling in front of her. Instead, she placed a hand on her shoulder and looked directly into her eyes.
“Bo. It’s your dad.” She breathed, centering herself. “He’s gone, Bo.”
Bo looked at her in incomprehension. Then, she suddenly stepped back, shaking her head.
“No, no, no, no, no,” she chanted quietly. “No, he can’t be. He’s alive! He’s safe with Satine! You said he would be safe!”
“No one is safe around the Jettise,” Rav said helpfully.
“Rav,” Kal scolded.
Mara gently stepped toward Bo-Katan
“Bo, I’m sorry,” she said softly.
Bo-Katan turned on her heel and fled. Yuzal glanced back at the adults apologetically, then raced off after Bo.
Mara leaned back against the table and sighed deeply. Her very bones felt heavy and tired. Why did it never end?
Obi-Wan surveyed the ship with satisfaction.
Beside him, Jango crossed his arms and announced everything wrong with it.
“Needs new thrusters…new paint…replace the rusted panels…” Jango nodded. “It’ll get us home at any rate.”
Obi-Wan grinned at his new friend. “Thanks, Hondo. I owe you one.”
The pirate laughed. “Take it, and enjoy it, little pirate. My crew and I have enough to keep us supplied for a long while.”
Hondo clapped Jango hard on the back. Jango stumbled forward, and gave the pirate a dirty glare. Obi-Wan choked on a laugh.
“Have fun, my friends. Maybe we meet again soon, eh?”
“I look forward to it,” Obi-Wan replied honestly.
Hondo bowed to the both of them, and sauntered off.
Jango growled once more for good measure, and turned to Obi-Wan. “C’mon, kid. Let’s head out.”
Obi-Wan rubbed at the collar still clamped around his neck. “Could you take this off first?”
Jango nodded and started fiddling with the switches and panels on the back of the collar.
“Does it hurt?” he asked curiously. “Being cut off from the Force?”
Obi-Wan shuddered. “It’s something I hope I never have to feel again.”
“I’ve got a ba’vodu, back on Mandalore. She was the first Force-user I ever met.” He sounded oddly sad. “I hope she’s alive.”
Obi-Wan heard a slight click! and the collar fell apart. Instantly, the galaxy exploded in his mind, drenching every sense with life and energy. Obi-Wan stumbled back at the sheer power and wonder of it.
He could hear!
He could feel!
Every soul in the galaxy thrummed in the Force. Obi-Wan let his eyes drift close, and he listened to the music of it all.
Familiar voices and presences swirled around him, shouting in joy and relief.
Garen, Reeft, Bant, Siri, and even Quinlan!
Then, two presences crowded out all the rest. Master Yan and Buir reached out to him from across space and stars, pulling him close. The sensation of being held filled the Force around him, and Obi-Wan hugged them back.
He was sure he’d never been so happy in all his life.
Mandalore, the Force called to him. Mandalore.
Beside him, Jango’s presence burned like fire--full of hate and rage. But honor and mercy, too. He was a walking contradiction, and Obi-Wan was fascinated by it.
“Mandalore,” Obi-Wan whispered.
“Home?” Jango asked.
He nodded. “Home.”
Qui-Gon attacked like a wild animal.
Dooku watched in horror as he felt his former padawan’s Force presence go dim. Jolts of anger and blind rage radiated off of Qui-Gon. Vizsla was losing. Badly. It was only a matter of seconds before he made a fatal mistake.
“Stop it!” Satine shouted. She grabbed Dooku’s sleeve. “Please stop them!”
Dooku lit his saber, ready to stop the violent attack in front of him.
Then the Force opened.
A warm ray of sunshine, so familiar and vibrant, exploded into existence.
He was alive!
Dooku stretched out to meet Obi-Wan's presence. He was fine. Obi-Wan wasn’t injured, and more than that, he felt happy.
Then he felt Mara’s dark and warm presence rush to meet her son. She wrapped around Obi-Wan in a fierce hug of sorts, as if protecting him from anything else that might happen.
Dooku heard a sharp intake of breath, and he glanced up. The fight had stopped.
Qui-Gon stood over Vizsla, lightsaber raised. Both men were breathing heavily, and even from here, Dooku could see fear on the boy’s face.
Then Qui-Gon slowly lowered his saber. A wave of dawning horror swept over his former padawan, and Dooku realized he must have felt Obi-Wan’s return as well.
Satine rushed past him, sprinting for her father. Dooku and Qui-Gon deactivated their blades.
Pre Vizsla scrambled to his feet, and sprinted back into the woods without a backwards glance. Dooku let him go. There were more important things at the moment than chasing after him.
Obi-Wan was alive.
Adonai was dead.
Somehow, Dooku began to feel older and wiser than he’d ever felt before. Not for the first time, he truly began to feel his age.
Satine’s sobs quieted down, and Dooku pulled the girl to his side, holding her as she grieved. Both parents killed inside of a month. Satine and Bo-Katan were orphans.
Obi-Wan’s and Mara’s presences wrapped around them--even Satine, comforting and grieving with them.
Qui-Gon knelt and gingerly picked up Adonai’s body. Dooku helped Satine to her feet. After a long moment of silence, the three began walking forward. They couldn’t stay here, so they continued on their original path.
Keldabe was waiting for them, along with Mara, Bo-Katan, and a plan of action.
It was time to stop running.
Jango piloted the ship expertly, as if he’d never done anything else his whole life.
His mind was a mess.
He was going to Mandalore--going home--with a skinny Jetti Padawan by his side. And not just any Padawan, but one that had a Mandalorian bounty hunter for a Buir.
Jaster was dead, he hadn’t the first idea where Arla was, and Ba’vodu Mara was probably dead. That left the Mando’ade without a leader.
A spike of anxiety shot through Jango. What if they expected him to lead? What if the Mando’ade hated him? What if everyone was dead, and he got arrested the moment he set foot on the planet? What if..?
“What’s wrong?” Obi-Wan asked suddenly.
Jango forced himself to relax. “Nothing.”
“You seem very worried about something,” Obi-Wan persisted. “What is it?”
He almost snapped back with a, mind your own business! but there was a good chance Obi-Wan might know more about Mandalore right now than he did. He could just ask.
“I’m worried about my family,” he said finally. “I’ve been gone a long time.”
“I’m sorry,” Obi-Wan said sadly. “I wish I could tell you something. When I was kidnapped by Death Watch, things on Mandalore weren’t doing too good.”
Jango’s eyebrows raised. “Kyr’tsad kidnapped you?”
Obi-Wan nodded. “Me and Qui-Gon were there to protect the Duke’s daughters, but they cornered me. I hope Bo and Satine are alright.”
“Duke?” Jango frowned.
“Duke Kryze. He’s the Jord’alor. Buir says he’s a good man, but stubborn and a bit stuck up.”
He snorted. So, Mandalore had a Jord’alor. That hadn’t happened in generations. And a Kryze at that!
“If the Duke is the Jord’alor, who is the Mand’alor?” he asked, almost dreading the answer. Maybe it was Myles. He technically would have been next in line. Or maybe Arla found her way home.
“Mara Miraal,” Obi-Wan replied, but there was a strange look on his face when he said it.
Jango dismissed it, mind already taken up with other things. Mara was alive and well. There was no one else he trusted more to rule Jaster’s kingdom than her.
“Have you met her?” Jango asked, and he could almost swear he saw the kid’s lip twitch.
“Yes, we’ve met a couple of times,” he replied.
Obi-Wan sat forward, reading the console. “We’re almost home. Just another hour or so.” He looked around the ship. “You know, we really should name her.”
Jango glanced around, considering what would fit her best. “We earned her. We won it with our freedom.”
Obi-Wan tilted his head.
“The slaves won,” he said thoughtfully. “Slave won. Slave One.” Obi-Wan grinned at Jango. “Slave I, what do you think?”
The name stuck in Jango’s mind, and he smiled. “Slave I. I like it.”
Pre Vizsla was furious.
The rage that burned through him, boiled his blood. He wanted Kryze humiliated, dammit! Not dead!
“You were going to let him live!” Izen Reau shouted angrily in defense.
Pre coldly glared at the older man. Luckily, none of the others came to Ize’s defense. They all knew how honorless Izen’s actions were.
“Kryze had surrendered,” Pre said hotly. “Am I also to presume you were the one who sent those threats to the palace?”
Everyone in the camp fell silent. Izen began to look nervous.
Then the shouting began.
“You did what?”
“You brought the Jettise here!”
“What have you done?” Isobell, Izen’s wife, shouted at him.
Pre grabbed Izen by the chestplate and hauled him forward. Despite being younger, Pre was a lot stronger.
“Who gave you the orders to act?” he demanded.
Izen’s nervous look was replaced with a smug smile. “I knew you would never be the leader your father was. It looks like I was right.”
Dred Priest threw a fist into Izan’s stomach. “Answer the question, Reau.”
Izen just laughed. “Blind--all of you. You think he deserves your loyalty? Who do you think killed Myyri Kryze, and started all of this?”
Immediately, the angry eyes turned on Pre.
“What does he mean by that, ‘Alor?” Dred asked calmly.
Unfortunately, Pre wasn’t as skilled at lying as some of the others. They would be able to tell in a heartbeat. He was trapped.
“I miscalculated,” he finally admitted.
Fyere Huron growled. Huron used to be a True Mandalorian, until he’d had a change of heart after Galidraan. He and the four other Haat Mando’ade advanced on him.
“We should have listened to Miraal!” Huron yelled. “She knew what you were, Vizsla!”
And oh boy, did that start the yelling all over again. Kyr’tsad warriors turned on the recruited New Mandalorians, and the few Haat Mando’ade began arguing with everyone else and each other.
This was not going the way Pre wanted.
“Thanks to you and the Jettise, we have no Mand’alor!” Lyron Duvall shouted.
“There is still one!”
“Miraal is with the Jettise!”
“You incompetent shab’buy’ce! She stood with us when it mattered!”
A blaster bolt snapped through the air, breaking through the shouts. Silence followed its wake.
Stunned, Pre watched as Izen slumped to the ground, a hole in the center of his forehead.
Isobell lowered her blaster and met Pre’s eye.
“Dishonor, betrayal, and lies are not the Mandalorian way,” she said soberly. “His life was mine.”
Pre nodded, still in shock. He decided to take advantage of the momentary quiet.
“I admit my mistake,” he announced. “But I am still your leader! If anyone has a problem with it, Sundari is that way.”
No one moved.
Then, slowly and decidedly, Fyere Huron turned, and started walking away from the camp. As soon as he moved, another followed. Then two. Then three.
Seven left, following Huron through the woods to Sundari.
Pre clenched his jaw. His nails dug into his palms as he harshly flexed his fist.
He wasn't about to call after them, and beg them to stay. Tor never would have, so Pre didn’t.
There was only one way to end this with him on top. If he got the last Mand’alor out of the way, the people would have no choice but to follow him.
He pulled out his comm, and typed in a code he never thought he would stoop to typing.
Miraal, Vizsla is planning something. Meet me in the palace.
Pre allowed himself a small smile as he sent the message.
They would see. Before the day was done, they would eat their words. Every man, woman, and child on Mandalore would know he was strong. They would follow him without question.
And when he finally had everything he wanted, he would hunt down each and every remaining True Mandalorian until they were extinct. Soon, no one would remember Jaster Mereel or his Codex. The Vizsla’s would have the throne, and Pre would sit in his rightful place.
Chapter 16: Nothing Before Our Eyes Will Last
Not much longer until the crossover, folks! Things only get better from here.
Just a reminder that this is not a fix-it fic. It’s just what would happen if Mara was a real character.
And Happy Halloween to all y'all!
Disclaimer: Get your skeletons fresh. They’re cheaper, and they age better.
The palace was horribly empty.
Fire damage scorched the walls, and the stone was cracked and crumbling in a few places. Paintings, tapestries, and rugs were nothing more than streaks of ash and burnt rags.
Mara never really liked the Sundari palace, but it hurt to see it like this. Adonai and Myyri’s home. Where the girls ran through the halls.
She passed by a statuette of some important person, and she noticed the pink stain on the wall behind it. Satine had put that stain there. She and Bo were fighting, and Satine had thrown a full glass of juice. Bo had immediately keeled over laughing, and Satine was left frantically begging Mara not to tell.
Mara smiled fondly, and continued toward the throne room. There was someone here who wanted to meet her.
She glanced down at her comm, re-reading the message.
Miraal, Vizsla is planning something. Meet me at the palace.
The message had come through less than an hour ago--probably from someone inside of Death Watch. If Mara had been a younger, more naive woman, she would have thought it truly had come from a possible ally. But wars and loss had shaped her view of the truth. Everything that was, and wasn’t said in the short message, led Mara to one glaringly obvious answer.
A sense of danger tickled at the base of her neck. Someone was here with her.
She rested a hand on her blaster and turned around. At the sight of the intruder, Mara fought the urge to pull her blaster and fire right there and then.
He nodded slightly. “Miraal.”
Her finger twitched on the trigger. Just because Obi-Wan wasn’t dead, it didn’t mean she was about to forget everything else Pre had pulled in the past.
“I have to admit, you are smarter than your father. At least you tried to trick me,” she remarked, calmly circling the room. “But I’m left standing here, wondering, what is it you want?”
“The same thing you do,” Pre replied with a hidden sneer. “A stable and united Mandalore.”
Mara’s eyes narrowed. “With yourself on top, I suspect. However, I see one big problem with that plan.”
“You?” Pre scoffed. “Please. I know who gave you that scar. How hard would it be for me to add another, more fatal one?”
“I was referring to the Mando’ade, as well as the ticked-off Jedi you’ve got running around the planet. I don’t think they’ll take kindly to you killing Duke Kryze,” Mara said tightly. “But now that you mention it, I’d like to see you try.”
“Already back to calling him by his last name, Miraal?” Pre mocked. “I wonder, how long until you stop pretending? How long until you stop calling them Jaster and Jango?”
Mara flinched at the casual use of her family’s names on a Vizsla’s tongue.
“Ne'johaa,” she snarled. Shut up.
Pre smirked. “How many Mand’alors have died on your watch now? Two? Three?”
“Jango is not dead,” she hissed. Then she cursed at herself. Why was she letting him get under her skin? “You talk too much. Do you actually have a plan, or are you going to talk me to death?”
“Who says I need a plan?” Pre smiled. “The way everything is going, Mandalore will be mine in a matter of days.”
“Vizsla stupidity and ego at its finest,” Mara quipped.
“A shame you won’t be there to watch it succeed,” he snarled in reply.
Mara was interrupted from telling Pre exactly where he could shove his so-called plan by her comm ringing. It was an unfamiliar number, but something told her not to ignore it. With an eye on Pre, she answered her comm.
“ Mrs. Kenobi? This is Siri Tachi.”
Mara blinked. Of all the people to call right now... “Siri? How do you know this number?”
“Obi-Wan gave it to us In case of an emergency. We’re--”
Mara’s attention snapped to Pre. He was reaching for the Darksaber. Slimy hut’uun.
“Siri dear, could you hold that thought for a moment?” she said.
Mara had less than half a second before Pre pulled out the Darksaber, flicking it on. In one fluid motion, Mara dropped the comm and ducked into a roll. The Darksaber seared the air right where her head had been.
She rolled to her feet, grabbing her sabers and igniting them with a flick.
Killing Pre wouldn’t help anything. But that didn’t mean she had to leave him in one piece.
The friends crowded around Siri’s comm, listening to the sounds emanating from it.
Predictably, it was Reeft who broke the tense silence. “That’s a lightsaber fight, right? I’m not going deaf?”
“That’s still in debate,” Siri remarked habitually.
Quinlan frowned, listening to the definite sounds of lightsabers crashing against each other. “Who in the Force is Mrs. Kenobi fighting?”
“Master Dooku?” Bant suggested, concern for her Master temporarily forgotten. “Obi-Wan said they had a thing .”
“Eww,” Garen stated.
Bant shrugged defensively. “Don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger.”
“Why are we even still here? Obi-Wan’s fine. We all felt him. Why don’t we just go back home?” Reeft complained. “I’m tired, and I’m starved.”
“You're always hungry,” Bant snapped. “Obi-Wan might be alright, but I still haven’t felt anything from Master Tahl.”
They fell silent.
Siri continued flying the ship through the landscapes of Mandalore. A big city was coming up on the horizon. It had to be Sundari.
Reeft poked Siri in the back. “Do you think we’ll get shot at?”
“Probably,” Quinlan replied lightly.
“Hey, where do you think we should park?” Garen asked.
Siri shrugged. “We might have enough fuel to make it to the palace, if we step on it.”
“Why stop there? Why don’t we land her on the front step?” Quinlan suggested, then pushed the ship forward.
The three weary and emotionally exhausted travellers trudged into Keldabe.
“Satine!” a young voice called.
Satine mustered up a relieved smile, and Qui-Gon groaned.
Bo-Katan sprinted up to them. The young girl seemed to have aged years since he last saw her.
Yuzal trailed after her at a more sedate pace. And behind the two younglings were two fully-armoured Mandalorians. The two sisters embraced, letting out a week’s worth of pent up emotions.
Dooku stepped forward to address the two adults.
“Yan Dooku, at your service,” he said politely.
The warriors weren’t acting threatening at the moment, but that didn’t mean they would stay that way.
“Sure,” the shorter warrior said dismissively. She glanced past the Jedi to the road that lay behind them. “Didn’t bring any Kyr’tsad back with you, did you?”
Qui-Gon shook his head. “No. We managed to lose them.”
“Mand’alor Miraal told us you might be stopping by,” the taller of the two warriors said, and Dooku recognized him as the one who helped them escape the palace.
“She told us about the Jord’alor,” the other warrior said somberly.
Satine’s shoulders slumped further.
“Where is she?”
“She got an anonymous message. There’s a possible ally in Kyr’tsad.” She scoffed. “As if. She went to meet them at the palace.”
“We were heading out there now to give her some back up,” Yuzal finally spoke. “Do you want to come with us?”
Satine shrugged, Qui-Gon groaned, and Dooku sighed.
“Another five miles is just a good stretch of the legs.”
“Jango, do you think it’s a good idea to park so close to the palace?” Obi-Wan asked.
Jango snorted. “Probably not. But I know who lives there, so it should be fine.”
Obi-Wan was quiet for a long moment.
“I’m sorry about your armour,” he said suddenly. “I know what it must have meant to you.”
Jango shrugged, trying not to show how much it affected him. “It’s fine. It’ll be expensive, but I can get another set.”
After they’d bargained the Slave I out of Ohnaka, they’d gone on a search through Captain Hrii’s quarters. They’d managed to find a few of Obi-Wan’s things, but Jango’s armour was long gone--sold to a collector, no doubt.
“Did you find everything that was yours?” Jango asked.
“Yes. The important things, anyway.” He held out his lightsaber, and a simple medallion on a chain. It was in the shape of a Mythosaur.
Jango studied it for a moment. It was good craftsmanship. The intricate detailing was nearly flawless. “Your Buir gave you that, didn’t she?”
He nodded. “For my sixteenth birthday.” He paused, as if weighing his words. “It was the thing I was most afraid to lose. My robes and supplies could be replaced, and even my lightsaber...but I didn’t know if I would ever see her again.”
Jango could appreciate that. He may have lost his armour, but Hrii had kept his Westars, likely as a trophy. That was one thing he could be thankful for. Jaster had given him those blasters. Losing them would have hurt more than the loss of his beskar’gam.
They entered the atmosphere of Mandalore in comfortable silence. The sprawling city of Sundari appeared on the horizon.
“Almost home,” Jango half-whispered to himself.
He was dying for a shower and a decent meal. A bottle of tihaar wouldn’t hurt either.
As Slave I neared Sundari, however, one thing began to stand out; scorched stone and warped metal.
The palace had been razed. The front gates were broken off, and the colorful flowers surrounding the marble building were trampled into the dirt. Even the grand front doors were torn off their hinges. No one was in sight.
“I know,” Jango replied.
He skillfully set Slave I down on the landing platform in front of the palace.
Obi-Wan and Jango glanced at each other for a moment. Something bad had happened here. Neither of them knew what to expect.
Jango was the first to climb down, Obi-Wan following slowly behind. He pulled out his Westars as the loading hatch lowered, just in case. Getting jumped by Kyr’tsad would just make his day at this point.
He slowly walked towards the palace, watching carefully for any sudden movements. Obi-Wan trailed after him, lightsaber in hand.
“Can you...sense anything?” Jango asked hesitantly. Maybe the kid could see and hear things Jango couldn’t. He still wasn’t sure how the Force worked, but he figured he might as well use every possible advantage they had.
Obi-Wan’s eyes shot to the palace’s ruined and twisted front gate.
“Someone is coming. Possibly more.” He frowned. “But one of them feels…”
Obi-Wan trailed off as two figures stepped out from the shadows of the palace. Jango raised his blaster. The figures advanced in a single-file line, straight towards them. The one in front was definitely Pre Vizsla. And the one behind was wearing familiar blue and black beskar, and holding a blaster to Vizsla’s head. Jango grinned. Looks like he got here at exactly the right moment.
Ba’vodu Mara shoved Vizsla forward.
“About damn time!” she shouted.
Jango forcibly holstered his blaster, and stalked forward. When he was within arm’s reach, he reared back, and punched Pre Vizsla in the face.
Vizsla recoiled, blood spurting from his nose. Jango had to admit the streaks of red dripping down his chin did wonders for the pale kid’s looks.
“That was for Galidraan,” he hissed.
“Nice do see you again, doo, Fedd,” Pre snarled through a bloody nose.
Mara holstered her own weapon, and pulled off her helmet. A warm smile spread across her scarred features, and for a moment, Jango forgot about revenge.
“Glad to have you back, Jan’ika,” she said, and just like that, his time as a slave was a thing of the past. He stepped forward, reaching to hug her when a shout halted his movements.
Ba’vodu Mara’s grin turned into a look of shock and unbelievable relief.
“Obi-Wan?” she whispered hesitantly.
Obi-Wan sprinted past a stunned Jango, crashing into Mara with a fierce hug. She collapsed to her knees, and Obi-Wan sank to match her.
“My little Kenob’ika,” she murmured.
Jango’s brain froze.
“Wait. He’s your son?” he half-yelled.
A strangled sound of disbelief came from Vizsla. “ Son?!”
For once in their lives, Pre Vizsla and Jango Fett were both left speechless.
Mara tuned a tear-stained smile on him. “Honestly. It’s not like I ever hid the fact that I had a Jetti son, Jango.”
The two stood, Mara keeping an arm firmly around Obi-Wan’s shoulders.
Jango helplessly glanced between them. “But...you...Jetti…” He pointed an accusing finger at Obi-Wan. “You never told me--!”
“I never lied either,” Obi-Wan remarked drily. “How was I supposed to know the Aunt you mentioned was also my mother?”
“You could have mentioned her name!” Jango protested.
“So could you!” Obi-Wan snarked back.
“My two boys,” Mara shook her head fondly, “both so smart, and yet so clueless.
She sighed. “Might as well introduce you properly. Jango, this is Kenobi Miraal Jr., also called Obi-Wan. And Obi-Wan, this is Jango Mereel Fett.”
Obi-Wan quirked an eyebrow, and stuck his hand out. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fett. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Jango spluttered, and Vizsla scoffed. Pre must have realized his mistake, because he went pale the moment the sound left his throat. Mara turned on him, cold anger in her eye.
“You’re the one who got him kidnapped,” she said darkly.
Pre gulped. “I didn’t know--”
“He sold me into slavery,” Obi-Wan perked up.
Mara’s expression turned darker, and Jango could swear that a chill ran through the air. Oh, he did not want to be Pre Vizsla right now.
Say...that was an idea.
“Me too,” Jango added. “Three years ago on Galidraan.”
The air turned downright frigid as Mara’s gaze met Vizsla’s.
“You sold my nephew, and my son into slavery?”
Pre was saved from a possibly gruesome death by a group of robed and armoured people straggling up to the palace. He recognized Kal Skirata’s armour markings, but the others were strangers to him.
“Incoming, Mara,” Jango said.
Pre let out a visible breath of relief as Mara’s attention snapped to the group.
The closer the crowd got, Jango was able to see that among them were two Jettise, and three kids, along with Skirata and another Mando.
Mara waved her blaster between Jango and Pre.
“If he moves, shoot him,” she ordered.
Then she and Obi-Wan walked over to greet the newcomers.
Jango flashed a smirk at Vizsla. “Having fun yet?”
Obi-Wan was no longer a child.
He had seen the worst of the universe. He had felt Tahl’s death, and felt the slaver’s whip on his back. He had felt the fingers of an ally close around his throat and squeeze.
No, Obi-Wan was no stranger to the pains of real life.
So, why. Why did his heart speed up when he saw Satine? He and Satine had known each other a total of one day, and most of that was spent arguing. Why did he suddenly feel like an Initiate waiting to be chosen? And Force sakes, why was he grinning like an idiot?
The adults were talking and being depressing, but Obi-Wan’s attention was totally encased in the tired, dirt-smudged, blue-eyed beauty in front of him. And she was looking back.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” Satine said.
“You, too,” he nodded.
Then Satine stepped forward, and before Obi-Wan could think better of it, he stepped forward as well. He wasn’t sure who initiated the hug, but it didn’t really matter. All he knew was that it felt good--like a welcome home hug.
Master Yan rested a hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder, and he reluctantly released Satine.
“Obi-Wan...I am sorry,” Master Yan said grimly. “I should have listened to you in the first place.”
“And I should have protected you better. You were my responsibility,” Qui-Gon said solemnly.
“Yes, he was,” Buir said sternly. “You both should have done your kriffing jobs. But,” she took a breath, “he is almost an adult, and I know for a fact that he can get himself into plenty of trouble without any assistance. ‘Sorry’ may not fix anything,” Buir smiled sadly, glancing at Master Yan. “But forgiveness goes a little way.”
Master Yan nodded. “So it does.”
Obi-Wan smiled. “In that case, I forgive all of you.”
The moment of lightness was broken when Jango waltzed up, holding his Westars on Pre Vizsla.
“The verdict’s still out on forgiveness from me,” Jango said coldly, addressing Master Yan and Qui-Gon. He narrowed his eyes at Master Yan. “Obi-Wan told me you were at Galidraan.”
Oh boy, here we go , thought Obi-Wan.
Master Yan nodded. “I was. And I am ashamed of my involvement in the reckless slaughter of your people.”
Jango’s eyes narrowed further, and he tilted his head.
Obi-Wan idly wondered if Buir or Qui-Gon would step in to defend Master Yan. Then he realized he wasn’t sure whether Buir would help Master Yan or Jango.
“The Jettise are stuck-up, self-righteous sorcerers,” Jango said finally. “Glad to see one of you has the sense to admit it.”
“Make that two,” Qui-Gon said bitterly.
Pre Vizsla rolled his eyes, but stayed quiet.
“Glad to see you’re still alive, Skirata,” Jango remarked, holding out his hand to the taller Mando.
“Su cuy’gar, ‘Alor.” The Mando clasped Jango’s arm and bowed his head. “Miraal always said you would be back.”
“Needless to say, we believed her completely,” the second warrior said, and Obi-Wan heard a definite tone of sarcasm in her words. Then her tone turned sincere. “It’s an honor to finally make your acquaintance, ‘Alor.”
Bo’s friend bowed with a fist clasped over his heart, echoing the warrior’s sentiment. Obi-Wan didn’t recognize the younger boy, but something about him felt familiar.
Jango blinked at them for a moment, speechless. But he recovered quickly, bowing to the warrior and kid in return.
“That’s Rav. She’s Taggart Bralor’s daughter,” Buir introduced. “And this is Yuzal --Syan Tierren’s foundling.”
Apparently, Jango knew who she was talking about, because Jango nodded in recognition. “It’s an honor to meet the both of you as well.”
Pre Vizsla sighed in annoyance. Warrior Skirata jerked a thumb at him.
“What’s with little Vizsla over there?”
“He decided to try and duel me,” Buir said simply. “His mistake.”
“That’s a pretty big mistake,” Satine remarked.
“It’s hereditary. Look at the mistake his parents made,” Warrior Bralor sniped gleefully.
Jango snorted, and the rest of them laughed. Obi-Wan grinned.
Vizsla snarled. “Would you just arrest me already?”
Warrior Bralor continued snorting in laughter. “Come on, Pre. Let’s go beddy-bye. There’s a nice little cell with your name on it.”
She took him from Jango and headed back towards the palace.
“So, what now?” Yuzal asked.
“Well, Satine is the Duchess now, I guess,” Bo-Katan grumbled.
“And since Jango is back, that makes him Mand’alor again,” Buir added with a side smirk at Jango.
Obi-Wan almost burst out laughing at the matching looks of absolute dread that passed over Satine and Jango’s faces.
“ Ba’vodu,” Jango whined.
Buir shook her head. “It was only a part-time gig for me. Jaster wanted you to have the job, and that’s exactly what you’ve got.”
She unhooked a flat-hilted lightsaber from her tac-belt, and held it out to him with a smirk. “You’ve knocked me unconscious before. Let’s see if you can do it again.”
“Wait, you knocked her out?” Obi-Wan asked, mouth dropping open.
Buir nodded jovially.
“With a grenade launcher,” Jango admitted sullenly.
Master Yan frowned and crossed his arms. “I have several questions.”
Warrior Skirata spoke up. “It was hilarious. She’s brought it up in every meeting for nearly five years.”
“You mean she kept talking about it even after I was kidnapped?” Jango asked with a groan.
Satine nodded gleefully. “Oh, yes. I’ve heard the story at least three times.”
“Mara, do you really intend to give the throne of Mandalore to--” Master Yan began, but multiple simultaneous glares from Obi-Wan, Satine, Mara, and Bo-Katan shut him up.
“The throne was rightfully Jango’s from the moment Jaster was murdered,” Buir added extra heat to her glare.
Jango lifted his hand and gave a little wave. “Time out. Have you met me? I have no business ruling a planet.”
Obi-Wan nodded sagely. “I agree with you there.”
Bo-Katan snorted out a laugh, and Yuzal grinned. The two kids turned to each other and did a complicated handshake, ending with a slap of palms.
“Word, vod,” they said in unison.
Qui-Gon let out yet another sigh. Obi-Wan was sure it was going to damage his brain eventually.
During all this time, he’d noticed Buir and Master Yan gravitating towards each other. A slight smile crowded onto his face. Something had definitely changed between the two of them. Then he frowned. Not all of the perceived change was good. There was an added edge between them that wasn’t there before.
“So, Satine and Jango are in charge of an entire planetary system. Are you sure the Jettise can’t stay for a while?” Warrior Skirata suggested with a chuckle.
Jango scowled. “Not funny, Skirata.”
A slight sound reached Obi-Wan’s ears, and he looked up.
An unmarked ship entered sight. It was headed straight for the palace. And it didn’t look like it was slowing down any time soon.
“Who do you suppose that is?” he asked.
Buir and the others glanced up.
“Low quality, no markings, Coruscant make…” Jango analyzed.
“That’s a cartel ship!” Buir exclaimed. Then her expression changed dramatically, annoyance featuring prominently. “And there’s a bunch of Jedi on it.”
Qui-Gon and Master Yan stared at the ship in surprise.
Jango groaned. “Great. Just what we need right now.”
“Am I allowed to shoot at these ones?” Bo asked.
Buir shrugged. “Let’s see who it is first, then we’ll see.”
Bo grinned, already checking her blaster. Yuzal, Satine, and Obi-Wan sighed in unison.
The unknown ship full of Jedi landed at the palace, and a crowd of people spilled out of the loading hatch.
Obi-Wan grinned, knowing exactly who had come to Mandalore. He walked towards the new group, and he felt Buir and the others following him.
They came within eyesight, and Obi-Wan could pinpoint the exact moment Master Yan and Buir recognized the teenagers. Shocked disbelief from Buir, and utter exasperation from Master Yan.
“Hi guys,” Garen called. “What did we miss?”
Obi-Wan’s grin grew at the sight of his friends.
“Hello, Mrs. Kenobi!” Bant shouted. “Hey, is that Obi-Wan?”
A tall streak of blonde hair rushed past the other teenagers, and crashed into Obi-Wan.
Siri Tachi grappled Obi-Wan into a bone-crushing hug. All the air left his lungs as Siri squeezed him harder. Obi-Wan was floored. Siri had never hugged him before. He wasn’t even sure they were really friends!
“Next time, comm to tell me you’re alive, nerf-brains,” Siri half-laughed, half-ordered.
“I’ll be sure to remember next time,” Obi-Wan replied, still slightly stunned.
By then, the other adults had caught up to them.
Bo strolled up with a scowl, but for some reason, Yuzal stayed back, watching the newly arrived Padawans carefully.
“I assume these Jettise are off-limits,” Bo growled.
Obi-Wan nodded. “Afraid so, Bo. These are my friends.”
Buir stepped forward. “Is this what you were comming me about, earlier?”
Siri nodded. “Yes, Mrs. Kenobi. We felt Obi-Wan disappear from the Force, and we wanted to see if we could help.”
Satine and Bo gawked.
“ Mrs. Kenobi?!”
“That was nice of you guys to come all the way out here,” Buir said sincerely. “You must have run into a lot of complications if it took you this long to arrive, though.”
“You would not believe the week we’ve had,” Reeft complained.
Jango and Obi-Wan shared a look.
“We’re tired, we’re out of supplies and fuel, and I haven’t eaten in two days!” Reeft continued his tirade.
“I assume your Masters don’t know about this little excursion,” Master Yan said resignedly.
Garen shook his head. “Oh, they know. We left them a note.”
Bant blinked in surprise. “We did? Why didn’t you tell me we were supposed to leave notes?”
“You would have taken too long,” Garen replied.
Quinlan nodded in agreement. “No offense, Bantling, but by the time you finished writing out a five page apology, they would have caught us.”
“If you’re out of fuel and supplies, I suppose you’ll have to stay here for a while,” Master Yan sighed.
Siri and Satine eyed each other.
“And you are?”
“I am Heiress...I mean, Duchess Satine Kryze,” Satine said loftily. “And who might you be?”
“Padawan Siri Tachi,” Siri replied, just as frostily. “I’m Obi-Wan’s friend.”
“Hmm... friends ,” Satine hummed, unconvinced.
Bo-Katan snickered, turning to Obi-Wan. “Meg cyar’ika so’ran gar’gaanader, jagyc Kenobi?”
What Bo had said was to the effect of: Which one will you pick, Kenobi? , but a lot more...descriptive.
Yuzal stared at his friend, scandalized. Satine blushed, and Obi-Wan hurriedly looked anywhere but at the two teenage girls. Siri, who didn’t speak Mando’a, glanced at Bo in minor confusion.
In looking away from the awkward exchange, Obi-Wan was met with the sight of his other friends crowding around Jango. Jango looked as though he were an inch away from murder.
“You’re Jango Fett!” Garen exclaimed with a grin. “I’m a really big fan. Hey, do you mind giving me some pointers? My reputation could use a little help.”
“That’s not all that could use some help,” Quinlan sniped. He flung his arm around Jango’s shoulder. “Say, Jango. You don’t mind if I call you Jango, do you? Anyways, I think the two of us could really get along, you know what I mean? Think about it: our partnership could be legendary.”
Jango scowled at Quinlan.
Buir laughed out loud. Warrior Skirata and Qui-Gon grinned, momentarily drawn away from their conversation.
Obi-Wan glanced around at the people he loved most. Buir, Satine, Master Yan, Qui-Gon, Garen, Siri, Reeft, Quin, Bant, and even, strangely enough, Jango. These were the ones who mattered most, and they were surrounded in warmth. Familiar affection filled the Force all around them. Even Bo-Katan’s fond exasperation and annoyance flickered through the air.
Buir’s smile warmed his heart most of all. Her scar stretched as she grinned.
Then her smile was gone. A look of pained panic overtook every other emotion.
“Buir, what’s wrong?”
“Rav,” Buir breathed, then she took off running.
The group stared after her for a moment.
“What was that?” Yuzal asked.
Obi-Wan and Master Yan sprinted after her, leaving Yuzal’s question unanswered.
After a moment, Qui-Gon and Skirata joined the chase.
The sound of engines firing up reached the kids and teenagers.
Quinlan glanced towards the palace, a look of pure offense on his face. “Why that little… he’s stealing my ship!”
Pre was escaping.
She had felt a brief flash of panic from Rav, but then it was silenced.
Mara sprinted towards the palace. The ship the Padawans had arrived in was parked practically by the front door.
Rav’s still form lay on the steps. She was alive, but unconscious. Pre was nowhere in sight.
Mara pulled out her blaster, and stepped closer.
Engines turned on, firing up behind her. Mara spun around, raising her blaster. The Jedi’s ship lifted off into the air.
Mara let out a stream of colorful swears.
She sprinted towards the hangar. Kenobi’s old ship, the Devil’s Sympathy, lay waiting for her. Pre’s ship was already in the air.
“Buir, wait!” she heard Obi-Wan call.
Mara glanced back at her son, but didn’t slow down. She entered the Devil’s Sympathy, and closed the hatch behind her. Yan and Obi-Wan shouted out to her, but she ignored them.
She would be back soon enough, with Pre in tow. He might be missing some choice pieces, but he would stand trial if it killed her.
Her fingers flew over the console, firing up the engines. Within moments, she was in the air, following Pre’s stolen ship into the Mandalorian sunset.
Yan watched in surprise and worry as Mara’s ship rocketed after Vizsla’s.
He and Obi-Wan raced to the edge of the landing platform, watching with his heart in his throat.
Vizsla’s ship turned on Mara’s and began firing. Mara fired right back.
They climbed into the atmosphere, rapidly gaining height. Destructive fire flew between the vessels.
Dooku settled into a stance, and reached out with the Force. Mara was treading in Darkness, but her control was based in the Light. She was confident of her victory.
“The Sympathy always wins, Yan,” he heard her whisper through the Force.
Obi-Wan chuckled from beside him. Apparently he wasn’t worried either. A slight smile twitched at the corner of his lip. She had this one handled.
The Sympathy reached the upper atmosphere,
Vizsla’s ship stalled out, and Dooku heard his engines struggling. Then, he remembered the Padawans mentioning that their ship was out of fuel. Dooku smiled.
Vizsla’s ship sputtered upwards a few more feet, then choked out completely. His ship fell backwards, returning to the planet at an impressive speed.
A jolt of smug triumph emitted from Mara, and she turned the Sympathy back towards home.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Just as her ship began its descent, the sky opened up.
A hole in space unfurled underneath the Sympathy . A yawning chasm of black abyss.
Gravity took hold, and Mara’s ship was pulled into it.
The void swallowed the Sympathy whole.
A flash of panic shot through him--both from him, and from Mara.
Then the hole closed up, snapping shut around the ship and its pilot. The blackness of space vanished, taking everything with it.
Nothing but clear skies remained.
Mara’s Force presence ripped itself from his mind as the void disappeared. Yan cried out in pain, and distantly, he heard Obi-Wan scream. She was no longer a part of the universe--of the Force. The place where she once occupied was horribly empty.
Silent tears streamed down his face.
Mara Miraal was dead.
Okay so, I'm sorry, but I'm not really sorry. I promise that everything I do is for the plot (probably)
Hope you all enjoyed this lighter chapter.
Chapter 17: Going Off the Rails On a Crazy Train
And so it begins. The moment you’ve all been waiting for! Crossover time!
The Devil’s Sympathy is a similar make and model to the Razorcrest from The Mandalorian.
Disclaimer: Despite the sound of their name, kyber crystals are not edible. You have been warned.
Skirata stopped running when the Jetti did.
“What’s wrong?” he huffed.
Wordlessly, the Jetti pointed at the sky. Skirata looked up.
There was a rift in the sky, spilling out endless black depths. The Devil’s Sympathy was in the middle of it.
As if a flip was switched, the void collapsed in on itself. Kal blinked, and it was over. The hole, and the Sympathy, were gone.
But Vizsla’s ship was still falling. Skirata picked up the pace, running past the open-mouthed and motionless Jetti.
Vizsla’s ship hit a few seconds later, crashing maybe half a mile outside the city. Skirata continued running. With any luck, Pre would still be alive. Kal really wanted to give the kid a piece of his mind.
Just as Vizsla’s ship came into view, a speeder whizzed past, going well over the recommended speed limit. Jango Fett was at the controls, and on the seat behind him, sat a screaming and cursing blonde Kryze.
Skirata heaved a sigh, and fired up his jetpack. If he had any hope of getting there before Fett did, he better get a move on.
Soaring through the skies, Skirata reflected that by the time all of this was over, he would be in desperate need of a good, stiff drink.
Satine screamed in his ear.
“You’re going to get us killed! No, don’t slow down! We have to catch him! Shabuir! Watch out!!!”
Jango grit his teeth, and pressed the accelerator as far as it would go. If Satine would stop screeching in his ear, he might be able to drive better, but she was not to be deterred.
“ What is that?!” she yelled.
Jango glanced up to where Satine was pointing over his shoulder. There was nothing there. Just Vizsla, about to crash.
The unmarked cartel ship slammed into the dirt, throwing clouds of dust and broken tree limbs into the air.
Jango slammed on the brakes, and threw the speeder into park. He jumped off, already pulling out his Westars. If Vizsla wasn’t dead, he was about to be.
The Jetti’s ship wasn’t completely wrecked, but there were some pretty big dents in it. Rather than trying to enter the ship the normal way, Jango circled around, and shot out the windscreen.
Pre was slumped over at the controls--alive and quickly regaining consciousness.
Not to be deterred, Jango grabbed Pre by his chestplate. Pre started shouting, and flailing around, as if that would stop him.
Jango hauled Pre out of the wreckage, dropped him unceremoniously on the ground, and shoved a Westar in his face.
“Breathe, and you’re dead,” he snarled.
Pre put his hands up in surrender.
Satine had her arms crossed, glaring at Jango like he was the criminal. Well, okay, technically…
“What’s your problem?” Jango grumbled at the blonde Kryze.
“You can’t just shoot him!” she snapped.
“Why not?” he shot back. “What, are you a pacifist or something, little Duchess? I thought this was the shabuir that killed your parents.”
Satine’s glare turned icy as she redirected her gaze to the wounded Vizsla. She took a threatening step forward, and for a second, Jango thought she might kill Vizsla herself.
When she was within reach, Satine reared back, and slammed her fist into Pre’s jaw. Pre’s head snapped back, and he fell back into the dirt. He was out like a light.
Jango raised an eyebrow. He hadn’t expected a Kryze to throw that good of a punch.
“He is,” Satine said coldly. “And he will stand trial for that.”
“The hell he will,” Jango growled.
Skirata chose that moment to show up, feet landing solidly on the ground as he cut his jetpack’s power.
“Yes, he will,” Skirata stated. “Killing a man only punishes him once. Sticking him in prison with a whole bunch of other clan members punishes him for the rest of his miserable life.”
Jango hated to admit it, but Skirata was right. He knew for a fact that a good portion of the Mandalorians sitting in prison had personal grudges against the Vizslas. Pre would likely be dead within a week.
“Fine,” he relented grumpily. “But only if Ba’vodu Mara says so.”
Skirata and Satine shared a glance.
They knew something that he didn’t.
“What?” he snapped.
Satine opened her mouth to say something, but stopped when two more people strolled up.
It was Obi-Wan and his Jetti Master.
Something was wrong.
Obi-Wan looked like he was in shock.
“What’s wrong?” Jango asked.
“She’s...she’s...” Obi-Wan’s resolve crumbled.
Jango stared as Obi-Wan started crying. Never once had Obi-Wan cried. Not in the entire week of slavery--not even when Jango had tried to kill him. Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t cry. But now, there were tears pouring down his face.
Dooku stood a half step behind him, face as grey and cold as stone. Jango silently asked the older Jetti what was going on, but there wasn’t even a flicker of response.
With all the gentleness he possessed, Jango put a hand on the Jett’ika’s arm.
“Obi-Wan, what is it?”
Obi-Wan looked up at him, wide grey eyes full of tears. “Buir . She’s…”
A sudden coldness slid over him. Jango’s grip on Obi-Wan’s arm tightened.
“What do you mean? Where is she?” He looked up at Dooku. “ Where is she?”
A heavy hand settled on his shoulder, and Jango whirled around to face Kal Skirata. The older warrior wore an expression of regret.
“‘Alor...Miraal is gone,” Skirata grimaced. “There was a black hole, or a gravity well of some kind. She got pulled in.”
Jango blinked at him, not understanding. Mara was fine. She always was.
He quickly scanned the skies. The Sympathy had to be there somewhere. Skirata was mistaken. He had to be.
“Give me your jetpack,” Jango demanded.
“Jango...” Obi-Wan began.
Jango grit his teeth. “No. You’re wrong. She’s fine.”
Skirata shook his head. “I’m sorry, ‘Alor. There was nothing anyone could have done.”
Jango stared at them. How could they believe it? She was Mara Miraal, for Ka’ra’s sake!
“No. Mara might be stuck out there. She needs my help,” Jango stated.
He needed a ship. Slave I was closest. He could get there in minutes, and be off and gone before any of them could stop him.
Jango took a single step, but a hand on his arm stopped him. If it had been anyone else, Jango would have shrugged them off and kept going. But it was Obi-Wan.
Golden eyes met stormy grey, and Jango knew. His heart dropped to his boots.
It was true. It was really, actually true.
His ba’vodu, the toughest, most indestructible woman in the universe, was really gone.
Jango stumbled as the last of his world crumbled around him. There was no one else. His parents, Kenobi, Jaster, Arla, and now Mara. He had no one left.
Then he looked at Obi-Wan and realized, no, he hadn’t lost all. Not yet. There was still Mara’s son.
He swore to protect Obi-Wan Miraal until his dying breath. Jango Fett would not allow another family member to be lost--even if his life was the price he had to pay.
And Mandalorians always kept their vows.
40 BBY * 2261 AD
Mandalore * 30 Kliks From Neutral Zone
Sundari * Unknown
Mara Miraal grinned.
She had Pre Vizsla exactly where she wanted him. She knew the ship he was in was out of fuel. It was only a matter of time before the engines cut out on him.
It took less time than she expected for Pre’s engines to stall. The Padawans must have been running on fumes when they arrived. The ship began falling back towards the planet below on a crash-course.
Mara pulled back on the Sympathy’s controls and turned to follow him back to the surface.
That was when the sky opened up beneath her.
Mara tried to maneuver around the hole in space, but it was pulling her in. The gravity pouring from the hole was stronger than her engines.
Her fingers flew across the controls as she fought against the powerful gravity of the gaping void. But it was useless. She was going whether she wanted to or not.
Warnings blared from the console, but there was nothing she could do. The void enveloped the ship.
In one last desperate attempt, Mara reached out with the Force, trying to stop gravity’s pull, but to no effect. Wherever this hole was taking her, that was where she was going.
Obi-Wan and Yan’s presences reached out for her, and she reached back.
The yellows and red of Mandalore’s sunset slowly grew smaller on her viewport, crowded out by inky black.
Then, the sky disappeared completely, and Mara screamed.
The Force ripped itself from her bones, tearing itself apart in a frenzied attempt to escape. Energy and power fled from her blood, taking everything with it. Obi-Wan’s shouts fell silent along with the universe around her.
Like grasping at straws, Mara chased after the Force, only to find her hands empty.
Cold metal grating slammed into her side, and Mara distantly realized she’d fallen from the pilot’s seat.
Everything. All of it. Everything was simply... gone.
Obi-Wan, Jango, Yan. Dark and Light.
The universe was horribly empty. Silence buzzed in her ears, deafeningly loud. No light shone from anywhere but the console.
Pulling her knees to her chest, Mara buried her head in her arms.
The memories came back in waves.
The cryo tank, serums and poisons pumping through her blood, eating away at the Force. Power ripped away, only to be forced back under her skin. And worst of all: the empty air--devoid of any sound but her own breathing.
The Force was gone. But this time, there was no way to find it again.
Once again, Mara was truly alone.
Someplace nearby, another hole tore through stars, allowing another ship entry.
The ship--if one could call the floating conglomerate of metal a ship--drew ever closer, slowly cutting through space.
It didn’t belong in this universe, but the inhabitants on board didn’t care much about that. As long as they stayed fed, they were satisfied.
Dozens of creatures that used to be men, waited patiently for their next meal.
The USS Dillon, two years into its five-year mission, picked up the distress signal.
The signal originated from another ship, which was highly unusual--especially this far out from any form of civilization. Being this close to the Neutral Zone, there was every chance that it could be a trap. But trap or not, it was the duty of every Starfleet officer to offer assistance wherever it might be needed.
Captain Maxton leaned forward in his chair, studying the signal. It was unlike any he had ever seen. From the format, to the strange language it was written in, was entirely foreign to him.
“Steady as she goes, Mr. Mathis,” he ordered.
The navigation officer nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Sir, the distress signal is repeating,” Communications Officer Swampand announced. “Still no luck in trying to translate it.”
“Can we get a bearing from the signal?” Captain Maxton inquired.
Swampand nodded. “We can get a pin-point reading on the location, but whoever it is isn’t responding to our transmissions.”
The Captain nodded. “Do we have an estimated time of arrival?”
“Approximately thirteen minutes at current speed,” the Commander, Miss. Lydon stated.
“Ahead warp factor three, Mr. Mathis,” Maxton ordered. “Let’s see exactly who needs our help.”
Mara Miraal heard a faint beeping, and stuck her head out from under the console.
It took her a second to realize what it was, then she was scrambling to her feet, rushing towards the comm system. Someone had heard her distress signal!
Mara hurriedly opened the channel, hoping the other ship was in range to hear her transmission.
“Hello? This is Mara Miraal on-board the Devil’s Sympathy . Is anyone out there?”
The channel crackled with static. Mara grit her teeth, and gave the communication system a good whack!
Finally, a voice filtered over the comm.
“We read you, Devil’s Sympathy. This is Captain Charles Maxton of the USS Dillon. We are approximately seven minutes from your location. What is the nature of your emergency?”
She frowned. What was with all the formal talk? And what did USS mean? Maybe it was a Republic official. Great. Just what she needed right now.
Well, whoever they were, at least they were here, and they sounded friendly.
“Having some engine trouble, and I can’t get my navigation system to make sense,” she replied, trying to keep the relief out of her voice. She hated sounding helpless, but it couldn’t be helped. None of her charts were lining up correctly. According to the maps, she should be halfway to Alderaan, but the stars winking at her from outside the viewport didn’t match with anything she had ever seen. The only explanation she could think of is if she were somehow stranded in Wild Space.
“Stand by, Devil’s Sympathy. We are beaming two of our engineers over to your ship to make an analysis.”
Mara’s frown and unease grew. What the kriff was he talking about?
“What do you mean ‘beaming’?”
Captain Maxton didn’t have time to reply before Mara heard a faint electrical-sounding din coming from behind her.
She spun around, blaster in hand. Two glowing figures slowly materialized in the small cockpit.
Mara backed up quick, training her blaster on the first figure.
The glowing stopped, and two men wearing red shirts solidified in front of her. Their eyes widened comically when they caught sight of her blaster.
“Who are you, and how did you get on my ship?” she demanded.
Both men quickly raised their hands, panic showing plainly on their faces.
“We’re from the Dillion !”
Mara narrowed her eye, studying the two unknowns. At a glance, she could tell they weren’t a threat. But there was no way of telling if anyone else was going to drop in unannounced. For the moment, she was stuck playing nice. Mara slowly lowered her blaster, cursing her lack of ability to fully read these two humans. Without the Force, she had to rely on her wits and intuition.
“How did you get on my ship,” she asked, calmer this time.
“Never seen a transporter in action?” the first one grumbled, taking the cue to lower his hands.
Mara shook her head, because, what else could she say? What in the Ka’ra a transporter entailed, or what those matching emblems on their shirts meant, she had no idea.
“I’m Mara Miraal,” she offered. Maybe they would volunteer more information if she acted friendlier.
“Officer Jik Maclean. Engineering,” the second replied.
“Scott Bethae,” the first muttered. Apparently he was still miffed at her for pulling a weapon on him. Oh well.
Officer Mclean glanced around her cockpit, staring openly at everything in sight.
“I’ve never seen a ship like this before. What type is she?”
“She’s an ST-64 Assault Ship, Corellian make, First Generation,” Mara answered, frown deepening. What kind of engineer didn’t know what a ST-64 looked like? It was a classic!
Both men stepped closer, and Mara took a step to the side, letting them get a good look at her console.
“Engine hatch is down the ladder and straight across,” she informed them.
Mclean nodded wordlessly. Well, it looked like engineers and mechanics were as talkative here as they were where she was from.
“So, where are we exactly?” Mara asked, getting impatient. She still had a lot of questions that needed answering.
“Near the Neutral Zone. At least seven systems from the nearest Starbase,” Bethae replied sullenly.
Mara glanced past the studious engineers to the viewport, and a slight gasp escaped her. The ship was huge! Easily bigger than anything she’d ever seen.
“I suppose that’s the USS Dillon,” she said weakly.
“And I suppose that’s what you call a nav system,” Bethae said condescendingly.
Mara scowled. “It works perfectly well when I’m in my own shabla galaxy.”
The two engineers frowned at each other, and Mara’s scowl intensified.
“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong with her?”
The older officer, Mclean, gave her a strange look, and Mara’s temper flared. He obviously didn’t know the first thing about fixing ships. Whoever these people were, they were useless.
“I’ve never seen any system even remotely similar to this. Did you build it yourself?” Mclean asked curiously.
“No, but I have put a lot of work into her,” Mara said irritably.
She had almost reached the end of her patience. There was something wrong with the Sympathy, and there was something wrong with her. For some reason, she was beginning to feel tired--something that hadn’t happened in a very long time. Being weary was normal for her, but actual tiredness in relation to needing sleep was not. Without the Force to sustain her for days at a time, Mara found herself on the brink of exhaustion. She needed a med-scanner, a bed, a set of tools, and a plate of tihaar-soaked nerf-steaks; in no particular order.
“Look,” Mara said, taking a breath to keep her temper under control. “Your ship is huge. There’s got to be a hangar big enough for the Sympathy . If you’ve got some tools, I’ll fix it myself.”
Mclean looked to be considering it, but Bethae looked like he’d bitten into an overripe meiloorun fruit.
Bethae opened his mouth. “We can--”
But Mclean interrupted. “I think that would be best. I’d love to see how this girl fits together.”
Mara felt some of her rising anger dissipate. Even if he didn’t know anything, he could at least appreciate a piece of art.
“Why don’t you two go ahead and do the ‘beaming’ thing, and you can direct me into the hangar from the Dillon,” Mara suggested.
“Mr. Bethae can beam back. I’ll stay here and help you navigate,” Mclean corrected.
Mara scowled lightly, but didn’t argue. Best not to irritate her mysterious hosts when she still didn’t know where she was, or what was going on.
Bethae pulled out a thin black box and flipped it open. Mara watched carefully as he spoke into the box.
“Engineer Bethae to Transporter Room. One to beam up.”
“Gotcha, loud and clear Scott,” a voice replied in an unfamiliar accent. “Stand by to beam up.”
Betha began to glow yellow, and Mara resisted the instinct to pull her blaster. She didn’t have a good record with strangely glowing objects.
Then, Bethae disappeared entirely from sight.
Mara’s finger twitched to her blaster for another half-second, then she turned and slid into the pilot’s seat.
Mclean took the co-pilot’s seat without being asked, and Mara refrained from telling him to kark off. No one since Kenobi and Jaster had sat in that seat.
Mclean reached to take the controls, but hesitated with his hand halfway to the console. With a slight smirk, Mara took over. She knew Mclean was watching her closely as she deftly flew the Sympathy around to the back of the Dillon.
The engine shuddered all the way, stalling once or twice. As best as she could, Mara navigated the Sympathy into the open hangar at the end of the oddly-shaped vessel.
The bay doors closed behind them, and the Sympathy choked to a stop, landing haphazardly on the pad.
Mara glanced through the viewport at the interior of the ship, studying everything in sight. Several others in those matching red shirts walked past, stopping to stare at both Mara and the Sympathy .
‘Military operation’, her brain supplied.
Whatever that hole had spit her out into, Mara was, for once, out of her depth.
“Come on, I’ll show you where my tools are,” Mclean offered, standing.
“Thanks,” Mara muttered, and led the way down into the hold and living area.
Everything was just as she left it. It still looked like it had when the Devil’s Sympathy was their home.
A durable but colorful rug covered the back half of the hold. A vibrant retelling of an ancient Mandalorian tale stitched into tapestry form hung across part of the back wall, hiding shelves of supplies, and a bunk. Pillows and handmade blankets sat on the other bunk. A caff-maker sat on the tiny stove, and a rack of rifles and weapons adorned the opposite wall.
Mclean let out a low whistle. “Nice place you’ve got here.”
She shrugged. “It’s home.”
And really, it was.
She lowered the loading ramp, and let Mclean take the lead. Buy’ce tucked firmly under her arm, Mara followed him out.
Time to face the unknown.
“Mr. Jackson, is our guest on board?” Captain Maxton asked over the intercom.
“ Yes, sir,” came the response. “Miss. Miraal and Mclean are working on her ship down in the hangar.”
“Good. Keep me informed. Maxton, out.”
A red light blared from his console.
“Proximity alert, Captain,” Mathis announced. “Something big is nearby, but I can’t get a solid read on anything.”
“Screen on,” Maxton ordered.
The screen came on, and Maxton’s eyes widened.
“Red alert! All areas, red alert!” he shouted. “Arm phasers!”
The leader of savages and monsters roared a battle-cry. His crew roared back.
The hunt had begun.
Mara frowned and stuck her head out from under the Sympathy .
“What’s going on?” she asked.
Mclean ran past, pausing to yell over his shoulder. “Red alert. Something’s attacking us.”
Mara was on her feet in a flash, running behind Mclean. What could be attacking them all the way out here? Had something or someone followed her from Mandalore?
The ship rocked suddenly, and Mara was thrown off-balance. Cursing her slow reflexes, she righted herself and went on.
Mclean grabbed someone’s arm. Unlike most of the others, this woman was wearing a gold dress rather than red.
“What was that?” Mclean asked. “Romulans?”
The woman shook her head. “I don’t think so. Something has latched onto our hull.”
“We’re being boarded!” someone else yelled.
Well, that didn’t kriffing sound good.
“Deck seventeen has been breached!” another shouted.
All around her, the crew pulled out strange-looking blasters. Mara followed suit. Whoever would attack a military vessel without warning was not on the friends list at the moment.
Mclean stepped over to a panel in the wall, adn pressed a series of buttons.
“Deck seventeen, what’s your status?” he called.
He released the button, and immediately, a frantic voice echoed over the channel.
“We’re getting torn apart! Ahh! Help us!” the voice screamed.
Then the channel cut out suddenly.
Mclean went pale.
“I heard, Mr. Mclean, ” Captain Maxton replied shortly. “This is Captain Maxton to all crew of the Dillon. We are being boarded by an unknown force. Set phasers to kill, and be on guard. Maxton, out.”
Mara’s fist tightened around her DeeCee blaster. “This is bad, right?”
Mclean didn’t answer.
“Seal decks sixteen and eighteen!” Maxton ordered. “Don’t let them get past!”
“Sir, there’s been another breach on deck twenty!” Lieutenant Abbey called. “And deck thirteen! And fifteen!”
“Get us out of here, Mathis!” Maxton shouted.
“The warp engines aren’t engaging properly! They’re using some kind of tractor beam!”
“Life signs disappearing all over the ship, Captain,” Officer Lydon called.
Maxton turned in his chair, facing the communications officer. “Swampand, alert Starfleet of our current situation and coordinates.”
“What’s the nearest Federation ship?”
“The Enterprise , sir!”
Maxton closed his eyes. “God help us all.”
I plan on updating again tomorrow, so you won't be kept in suspense for long :)
Chapter 18: We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place
WARNING: This chapter is pretty much 100% violence. If it’s not your cup of tea, you can read the first two sections, then skip down to the last two sections.
Disclaimer: You can carry a bucket, you can carry a grudge, but you can’t carry a moose. They will bite.
30 Kliks From Neutral Zone
Mara was a Mandalorian.
And sometimes, being a Mandalorian meant throwing oneself recklessly into the path of danger in order to save an ally’s life.
“What are you doing?” Mclean shouted.
Mara checked her DeeCee’s charge pack. “Going up to pick a fight.”
The turbolift doors opened.
“Stay here and shoot anything that moves,” she ordered, falling back into the role of command.
The turbolift doors closed, and Mara unclipped one of the sabers from her tac-belt. Underestimating a possible opponent was always a mistake. Whatever could put a military operation on high alert had to be bad news.
Deck seventeen opened up in front of her, and Mara almost gagged at the stench.
It was worse than Galidraan.
Kriff, this might be worse than Nar Shaddaa.
The crew was... shredded.
Dozens of bodies littered the long hallways, torn apart. Blood and viscera stained every surface. Mara wasn’t sure she could identify any of the crew even if they had been her own family.
A Chorus of feral howls and screams echoed down the hallways. A shiver went down her spine. Whatever that was, it wasn’t natural. She lifted her saber and flicked it on. Red light blazed to life, adding red light to the slaughter around her.
Without the Force to warn her, Mara wasn’t able to sense the creatures slowly surrounding her.
Lieutenant Nyota Uhura of the USS Enterprise frowned and adjusted the controls. The static on the channel lessened.
“Captain, I’m getting a distress signal,” she announced, turning towards the captain’s chair.
Captain James. T. Kirk spun in his chair to face her. “From a Federation ship?”
“Yes, sir. The USS Dillon is trapped near the Neutral Zone, and they’re being attacked,” Uhura replied.
Kirk frowned. “Romulans?”
Uhura shook her head. “Negative. Assailants unspecified.”
“Mr. Sulu, direct a course to the Neutral Zone. Warp seven.”
Sulu increased their speed, bringing it up to seven. “Yes, sir.”
“And Lieutenant, send a message to Starfleet,” Kirk added.
“Yes, sir.” Uhura returned to her console, rapidly setting up a relay transmission.
Commander Spock clasped his hands behind his back, and tilted his head thoughtfully. “Captain, it is unlikely that Romulans could be the ones attacking the Dillon .”
“Who else would you suggest then, Mr. Spock?” Kirk asked his second-in-command.
“I do not know, Captain. But I admit, it is intriguing.”
Sulu and Uhura shared a knowing glance, and with a quiet smirk, they returned to their jobs.
They were all around her.
She couldn’t fight off this many--not without the extra strength the Force gave her.
Three of the creatures teamed up on her, ramming her off-balance. Her lightsaber flew from her grip and deactivated.
Mara’s head cracked back against a wall.
Her vision went blurry for a second. Dazed from the sudden jolt of pain, she couldn’t stop the three from pushing her down. Sharp nails tore at beskar, trying to find flesh under the metal.
She fought back, blood pounding in her ears. Her fist connected with a set of ribs. Bone gave way, and the creature howled in rage. Hurting it only made it angrier.
It leaned down and sank its teeth into her shoulder. She screamed.
Desperately, she reached up behind her back, fingers grasping for a hidden weapon. Savage teeth and nails sliced through skin and muscle.
A crack sounded, and a scream ripped itself from Mara’s throat. Her leg went numb, and she all but collapsed.
Finally, her fingers closed around a vibroblade.
With a vicious yell, she yanked the blade from her tac-belt, and slit the first creature’s throat. It garbled and fell back. Mara stabbed the remaining two in quick succession--one in the neck, and the other in the heart.
Their warm corpses collapsed on top of her, blood coating everything. With a grunt and a heave, she shoved them off to the side.
Gasping in loud, shallow breaths, Mara crawled to her weapons. The lightsaber was clipped back to her belt, and the blaster found its way into her hand.
Vibroblade in one hand, and blaster in the other, Mara limped down the hallway.
Two creatures came around a corner, sprinting towards her. She shot both through the head, and continued on.
There was a panel on the wall, like the one Mclean had used to contact the captain earlier. She pressed the main button with the end of her blade.
“This is deck seventeen. Is anyone there?”
There was no reply. She pressed the button again, and repeated the message.
“Anyone? This is deck seventeen. Can anyone hear me?”
“Deck seventeen? They’ve nearly reached the bridge! There’s too many of them! Abandon ship!”
Then, a symphony of screams echoed over the channel.
Mara growled. She had to get these monsters off the ship before they killed the entire crew.
The creatures’ ship must still be docked.
Mara closed her eyes and listened.
Force or no Force, she could hear two sets of engines--one vibrated underneath her feet, but the other was coming from the left. Logically, the Dillon's engines must be below, so Mara went left.
Time to get back into the business of demolition.
“Sir, life signs all over the ship are dropping fast!”
“Breaches up to deck thirty, Captain.”
“The Enterprise has received our distress signal.”
“How far away are they?”
“Sir, the warp engines have been compromised. We’re not getting out of here.”
A somber silence fell across the bridge. The weight of a no-win scenario settled over the crew.
“Mr. Mathis, seal off the bridge, and ready the fail-safe.”
The navigator’s hands froze above the console.
Despite the intense pain coursing all through her, Mara almost smiled when the enemy ship exploded, engulfed in flames.
No more of these things would be coming aboard the Dillon today.
She limped along, using the wall for support.
Unfortunately, the explosion had probably alerted the other creatures. They would be on their way back to the nest.
Mara tucked herself into a defendable corner, and waited for the onslaught.
She was beginning to realize this wasn’t her universe.
Her vibroblade buried itself in flesh, her blaster-fire burned through bone, and Mara prayed to whatever god occupied this forsaken place.
There was no darkness to grab ahold of here. No added power to channel into her blood. No Force, no friends, no family.
But Kenobi’s vambrace clanked on her arm, a necklace emblazoned with the symbol of the Jettise hung from her belt, and Jaster’s vibroblade weighed in her grips.
So, she fought.
It distantly registered that she was working her way up towards the cockpit, but it all jumbled together in a blur of red.
It was different from the red that consumed her when Kenobi died. This time, her heart hammered, and her breaths came in shallow and ragged gulps. Fear and adrenaline pumped through her veins, and Mara realized that’s what this emotion was. She wasn’t angry--she was terrified.
Something sharp tore into her back, and Mara whirled around, blasting whatever it was into a bloody pulp.
The cockpit should be just ahead.
Communications Officer Swampand jumped out of his seat. The door to the bridge slid open.
“They’ve overridden the controls!” Channing shouted needlessly.
Captain Maxton pulled out his phaser as a swarm of humanoids rushed in, snarling and howling worse than his ex used to.
Maxton took down two of the things with a single shot. Then all he saw were teeth and manic grins.
He heard Mr. Mathis scream, and Miss. Lydon shouted in horror.
Knives ripped into his skin. Teeth hooked into his neck, then tore back out. Blood gushed.
This was a nightmare. It had to be.
But as Maxton listened to sounds of his crew dying around him, he desperately wished he would wake up.
There hadn’t been enough time to set the fail-safe. The Enterprise and its crew would walk right into a trap.
A feral scream of pure rage sounded from the doorway. Maxton half-turned his head, dreading the arrival of more creatures. But what appeared was a red-stained suit of armour.
The woman lifted an odd sort of phaser, and blasted the creature that was on top of him.
Maxton knew it was too late. His vision was already beginning to go grey from blood loss. Dazed and delirious from the pain, Maxton passed out, listening to the sounds to screams and phaser-fire.
Spending the majority of one’s childhood fighting to survive did a lot to prepare Mara for the horrors of battle and war.
Fighting to win, fighting to live, fighting to survive.
But this slaughter wasn’t a fight. It was destruction and pain and blood for nothing but its own sake.
Standing here on the bridge, nothing moving, unable to sense anything, and only able to smell death, Mara began to shiver. Then shake. Soon, full-blown spasms wracked her frame as the adrenaline drained away.
Feeling strangely weak, Mara made her way to the main console. None of the bodies that littered the floor so much as breathed. She could tell at a glance they were all dead.
For the second time in as many hours, Mara had to send a distress signal. There was absolutely no way she could pilot a massive rig like this--especially not by herself.
She stumbled over to a panel that had a transmitter-looking-thing sticking out of it. Unfortunately, none of the controls were in Basic. So, Mara followed Jango’s advice, and started hitting random buttons.
“Su cuy’gar? Is anyone receiving me?” She was certain she wasn’t doing it right, but there wasn’t exactly a manual around. “This is Colonel Mara Miraal aboard the USS Dillon . Is there anyone out there that knows how to fly a ship the size of a small moon?”
Pressing a couple more random buttons, Mara set the message up on a repeating loop. Or at least, that’s what she hoped she did. This system made no semblance of sense, and it wasn’t in any form of language she recognized.
Nerves strung out, Mara flinched at every sound the ship around her made. The familiar paranoia of surviving a battle set in, but it felt much worse than it ever had before. She kept a hand on her blaster, and her eye on the full, but empty bridge.
Anything that flinched would never move again.
“Captain, we’re twenty minutes from the Dillon .”
“There’s another distress call.” Uhura frowned. “It’s from the Dillon as well, but it’s strange.”
Commander Spock came over to see for himself. “Strange how, Lieutenant?”
“Listen,” she said, amplifying the transmission so everyone could hear.
“Is anyone out there? Su cuy’gar? Is anyone receiving me? This is Colonel Mara Miraal aboard the USS Dillon. Is there anyone out there that knows how to fly a ship the size of a small moon? Because I don’t. Is anyone out there?”
“Then the message repeats,” Uhura said, ending the transmission.
Spock frowned. “Very odd indeed.”
From his captain’s chair, James Kirk tilted his head in consideration. “The original message came through less than an hour ago. What could have happened that quickly? And why is she the only one on the bridge?”
“All very good questions, Captain,” Spock rejoined. “Indeed: what happened to the captain and crew?”
Kirk frowned. “Lieutenant Uhura, can you open a direct channel between us and the Dillon ?”
Uhura turned back to her console. “Yes, sir. We should be in range in just a few moments.”
“Approaching the Neutral Zone, Keptin,” Chekov announced.
“Drop to warp three, Mr. Sulu,” Kirk ordered.
“The frequency’s open, Captain,” Uhura called.
The main door to the bridge whooshed open, and a familiar figure entered. CMO Doctor Leonard McCoy strolled onto the bridge.
Kirk nodded to his friend in recognition, then turned his attention back to the matter at hand.
“Attention, crew of the USS Dillon . This is Captain James Kirk of the USS Enterprise . We are approximately fifteen minutes from your location. What is your current situation?”
Static crackled over the channel for a moment before being cut off abruptly.
“Hello? This is the Dillon. I read you loud and clear, Enterprise. Oh man, you have no kriffing idea how happy I am to hear your voice.”
A smile twitched at the corner of his lip, but he quickly covered it. The voice was feminine and mature.
“ I’m drifting here,” the voice continued. “We were attacked by some kind of humanoid creatures. I have no idea what they are, or where they came from, but they got onto the ship. I think everyone else is dead.”
Kirk frowned. “What kind of creatures?”
“Yeah, I barely made it this far. It’s a real nice galaxy you guys have here.”
Spock bent to whisper to him. “Sir, if everyone else was killed, then how is she alive?”
“Exactly,” Kirk agreed. This was beginning to sound like a trap. He raised his voice so the mysterious woman could hear him. “If you were attacked by these creatures, how did you possibly survive?”
“Just lucky, I guess.,” she returned bitterly. “Although, I’ve got a busted leg and some nasty cuts and bites. I’d appreciate it if you brought over a med-kit with you.”
Kirk glanced back at Doctor McCoy, AKA: Bones.
Bones shrugged. “Maybe the things are cannibals.”
“You seem to believe such creatures might truly exist, Doctor,” Spock said, and Kirk couldn’t tell if he was being condescending or not. “I believe such anomalies to be highly illogical.”
“Until it’s proven otherwise, I’ll believe any thing I darn well like,” McCoy shot back. “There’s too much unexplored space to discount anything.”
Kirk spoke louder, addressing the mysterious crewman. “You said your leg was injured. Can you make it to the transporter room?”
“The what room?”
Spock and Bones shared a look.
“The transporter room,” he repeated.
Yeah, there was definitely something wrong here.
“I don’t think I can go much of anywhere at the moment, Captain,” she replied, sounding suddenly weary.
“Captain, the Dillon is on our screens,” Sulu called.
Kirk looked up.
Most of the Dillon’s lights were on, but there was a huge gash in the side of the ship. Debris and chunks of twisted metal floated through space. Parts of another ship floated alongside that of the Dillon.
“Mr. Chekov, scan for life,” Kirk ordered quietly.
The young lieutenant nodded and did as he was directed.
“Are we close enough to open a visual channel?” he asked Uhura.
“Yes, sir,” Uhura replied. She pressed a few added buttons, and flipped a switch.
The viewscreen opened up onto an almost empty bridge.
Several...bodies lay on the floor, or draped over the consoles and chairs. There was flesh and blood everywhere. It was a gruesome display.
And there were other corpses. These were dressed in dark rags, torn and ripped to shreds. There were strange markings on their skin, and pieces of metal protruding from their faces, as if the things themselves had stuck the metal there, then forgotten to remove them.
Uhura gasped softly, and Chekov gagged.
The only upright figure in the room sat at the communications desk, angled awkwardly with their leg stretched out. The figure wore dark armour, covered in blood.
“Enterprise, are you still there?” the figure asked, still facing the communications console.
“On the screen behind you,” Kirk said, tearing his gaze from the atrocities slayed out across the other ship’s bridge.
The figure in the chair spun around quickly, hand dropping to a odd-looking phaser that rested in her lap.
Her eye widened incredulously.
“How are you doing that?”
Kirk would have answered at once, but her face distracted him. It was a beautiful face, but it was marred by a thick scar that ran from her chin to hairline, crossing a pure white eye.
“Captain, there are only twenty-six life-forms on that ship,” Chekov said shakily. Usually, a Federation ship of that size had a crew of nearly four hundred. If there were only twenty-six left…
The woman on the screen went pale, gripping her phaser tighter. Apparently, she heard Chekov.
“Did you say there were others on-board?” she asked.
Kirk nodded silently. She was telling the truth. A bunch of these...things had slaughtered an entire crew. But how…?
Spock reached across him to press a button. “Mr. Scott, prepare to beam a group of twenty-six survivors from these coordinates.” He listed off the Dillon’s exact location.
“ Aye, sir,” Scotty replied.
The woman on-screen stumbled to her feet as quick as lighting.
“No, wait! If there’s survivors, then they’re not…”
Then she began to glow yellow, cutting off what she was saying. Soon, she had disappeared entirely.
Kirk stood from his chair. “Mr. Spock, Doctor McCoy, with me to the transporter room. Mr. Sulu, you have the conn.”
“Yes, sir,” Sulu replied.
James Kirk walked off the bridge, ready for some answers.
“No, Wait!” Mara shouted, but it was too late. She could already feel herself slowly disappearing.
There was no way twenty-six people--military or not--could have outlasted that horde of monsters.
And never mind those creatures, or the fact that she didn’t trust these people or their technology, the Sympathy was here! She couldn’t leave it behind.
The bridge in front of her faded, and another room came into focus.
She was standing on a platform of sorts, and a couple of people in red, blue, and yellow uniforms appeared.
And there were creatures standing beside her.
One of the things let out a howl, and rushed towards the two humans standing at the doorway.
Without a second thought, Mara lifted her blaster and fired off a dozen shots. Each blast struck one of the creatures squarely in the back. One after the other, they slumped forward, dead.
Mara glanced back at the rest of the platform, checking for more, but there was none; just a few actual survivors.
Two of the survivors all but sprinted off the platform, heading out the door.
She glanced back up, and noticed there were more people in the room. Four Humans and a...Human/Lannik hybrid?
And, oh look, they were pointing blasters at her.
“Drop the phaser,” the one in the gold shirt ordered.
She glanced down at her blaster, and slid it back into her holster.
“Who are you really, and what happened to the Dillon?” the gold-shirted one demanded.
Captain Kirk, her overtired mind reminded. That one is Kirk.
Another wave of fatigue swept over her. She really did need a bed and a med-scanner.
“My name is Colonel Mara Miraal. My ship was having engine trouble, so the Dillon stopped by to help. We were attacked by those things,” she pointed at the dead creatures on the floor. “They killed almost the entire crew. I managed to get to the bridge and put out a distress call to you,” she summarized quickly. She was beginning to feel every ache in her aging body. “So, if you don’t mind, I would appreciate it if you sent me back, so I can get my ship get back to figuring out in the kriffing end of kyr’shebs I am!”
For some reason, her head was getting very dizzy. Her stomach felt empty, and her head buzzed. The pain in her shoulder and leg was terribly distracting.
“Where are you from?” the Human/Lannik asked.
“Mandalore,” Mara said, taking a step forward.
Oh, that was a mistake. Her numb leg collapsed out from under her, and she lurched forward.
Something caught her.
Mara looked up into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
“Hello,” the eyes said.
“Hello,” she replied, then promptly passed out.
Did I really introduce an entire crew, only to kill them all off?
If you can guess what universe the creatures came from, I’ll give you a shout-out.
Hint: Nathan Fillion was involved.
I really love both versions of Chekov, so if y’all have a preference for which way I write him, I’ll let y’all vote.
By the way, the reason Mara couldn’t read the controls on the Dillon, and why Maxton couldn’t read Mara’s original distress signal is because English and Basic are two different languages. They are spoken, and sound the same, but the script is majorly different. Basic is written in Aurebesh, and English is written in, well, English.
Chapter 19: Runnin’ On Empty
James Kirk has only been in command of the Enterprise for a few months. Due to plot reasons, the new Star Trek movies are also canon. But Wrath of Kahn was better than Into Darkness, so Kahn’s original story line is staying as it is.
Disclaimer: The person responsible for writing the disclaimers has been sacked.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
30 Kliks From Neutral Zone.
“...story checks out,” a voice somewhere to the left sounded. “How is she?”
“Well Jim, her left leg was completely dislocated, there are teeth marks and scratches everywhere her armour didn’t cover, and take a look at this.”
Mara felt something touch her shoulder, right where one of the creatures had bit her. She heard someone suck in a breath.
“Does it go all the way down to the bone?”
“Yep,” the second speaker replied. “How she stayed standing is beyond me.”
Mara didn’t like people talking about her when she was unconscious. She shifted slightly, just enough to be noticed.
The talking stopped, and Mara cracked her eye open.
“So, do you believe me now?” she asked, sitting back on her elbows.
“I’m sorry we doubted you. Although you must admit the situation was highly dubious,” the Human/Lannik said, tucking his arms behind his back.
“Speak for yourself, Spock,” the man in the blue uniform said. “I believed her from the start.”
“Thanks,” Mara deadpanned.
Captain Kirk almost laughed, but quickly covered the sound with his hand. The Human/Lannik, whose name was apparently ‘Spock’, gave the Captain an unimpressed look.
“Survivors?” Mara asked.
“Fourteen altogether,” Captain Kirk replied succinctly. “One of them was an engineer named Mclean. He vouched for you, and confirmed your story.”
Mara nodded, feeling relieved. Mclean had managed to stay alive.
“Despite your version of the events being sound, there is another concern,” Mr. Spock said.
Mara gestured for him to go ahead.
“You do not exist.”
Both Captain Kirk and the other man turned on Spock.
“What do you mean she doesn’t exist?” the unnamed man said irritably.
“What do you mean, Spock?” Kirk asked.
“Quite plainly, Captain, I mean that there is no Colonel Mara Miraal anywhere in the Federation databases,” Spock replied. “In any databases.”
The men fell silent, and Mara sat up straighter.
“I can explain that,” she began, then frowned. “Well, maybe I can’t, because I don’t know what the Federation is.” She took a deep breath, trying to think of the best way to phrase it. “I think I fell into your galaxy by mistake.”
“You are suggesting that you are from another galaxy, one where the Federation does not exist?” Spock questioned.
“I guess?” Mara shrugged. This was apparently the opportune time for her stomach to growl. Loudly. Mara cringed. “Sorry. I haven’t eaten in a while.”
And she was not going to mention how long it had actually been.
“Galaxy-hopping isn’t fun. We’ll get you something to eat, and I’ll leave you in Doctor McCoy’s capable hands,” Kirk said with a slight smile.
Then he and Spock turned and left the med-bay.
Once they were gone, Mara turned to the doctor.
“So, from what I’ve seen, most of your crew is human, right?”
“Yeah?” the doctor asked warily.
“Then where’s the Human goblin from?”
The doctor’s eyes went wide, and for a moment, Mara was worried she’d offended him. Then, a gleeful grin spread across his face. His eyes really were incredibly blue.
“Human goblin? Spock?” he choked out a laugh.
Mara smiled hesitantly. “I’ve never seen anyone like him, and it seemed fitting.”
Doctor McCoy let out one more laugh, then quickly composed himself.
“He’s Vulcan. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone you saw me laugh. Ever.”
From the look on his face, Mara could tell he wasn’t joking.
“Sure thing,” she said easily. “You’ve got a reputation to defend, after all.”
“Exactly. Now, stay still. I’m gonna scan you for internal injuries,” the doctor said, returning to his grumpy self.
From this angle, the good doctor looked quite handsome.
Mara smirked, enjoying the view. “Anything you say, doc.”
She held as still as she could while Doctor McCoy ran a small whirring gadget over her
There was so much quiet. It buzzed in her ears, echoing with things that used to fill the silence.
What if she never saw her family again?”
No. She would find a way back. If it was the last thing she ever did, she would set foot on Mandalore again.
She glanced back up to see McCoy had a strange look on his face.
“Everything alright, doc?”
His blue eyes snapped to her. “What? Oh, yes. Everything’s just fine. Listen, I’ve got to check on something, then I’ll be back to rebandage that bite on your shoulder, alright?”
She nodded easily. “Sure.”
It seemed the doctor was in a hurry to get away, knocking into a small table in his haste.
Mara settled back into the pillows, already planning on how to get out of this dump, and back to the Devil’s Sympathy . She drifted off to sleep, dreaming about her family.
“The machines don’t lie,” McCoy declared.
“You’re exaggerating, Bones,” Jim said calmingly. “You’ve been under a lot of stress--”
“Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a worn-out old man!” McCoy hissed. “That woman in there is eighty years old!”
“How could that be possible, Bones?” Jim asked pointedly. “She looks barely thirty.”
“Maybe it’s a species thing, but every result came back as Human!”
“Perhaps the aging is a result of intergalactic travel,” Spock suggested. “It seems to be the only logical conclusion.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” McCoy allowed. “And maybe that’s how you can explain the armour, or the ship that even Scotty can’t figure out, or how she was physically able to fight off fifty of those monsters. But there are some things that can’t be reasoned through with logic.”
“I concur, Doctor,” Spock said reasonably. “I think it would be best to pursue a further line of questioning in regards to our mysterious visitor.”
“And for once, I agree with both of you,” Jim said amiably, patting both men on the back.
Spock looked vaguely uncomfortable, and Bones scowled.
It was never good when all three of them agreed.
Mara woke up to extreme pain.
She bit her tongue to keep from crying out.
Then, the pain lessened, taking with it the numbness and ache in her leg. She slowly relaxed, and looked up into familiar eyes.
She nodded, sagging back onto the bed. The quiet was still there, endless and oppressing, waiting to drive her mad.
“I need to get back to my ship,” she said suddenly. If she could get back to the Sympathy , then she could figure out where she was, and how to get back to Mandalore.
“You’re in no condition to go anywhere,” Doctor McCoy said firmly. “And there’s some very interesting questions I want to ask you.”
Mara sighed and ran a hand through her tangled hair. “I don’t know if I--”
“Where’d you get the scar?” McCoy interrupted.
She coughed on a surprised laugh. Of course, she could understand it to a medicinal degree, but of all the first questions to ask…
“I, uh, lost a lightsaber fight.” It made it sound more impressive than it actually was.
“Lightsaber?” McCoy asked with a frown.
“Those long cylinder-looking things hanging on my tac-belt,” she explained. “They’re highly dangerous, so be careful with them.”
“I’ll remember that. You seem to be pretty dangerous yourself.”
The door to the med-bay slid open, and Captain Kirk stepped through. Immediately, Mara’s limited senses were on alert.
“A very dangerous woman indeed,” the Captain stated. The slight smile on his face eased her nerves a little. “Sorry to bother you again like this, but there are--”
“Some questions you’d like to ask,” Mara finished.
Kirk nodded, smile widening. He liked to smile a lot. “Right. For instance, how is it that you’re over eighty years old?”
“Jim!” McCoy rebuked sharply.
Ah, so they had a way to tell how old she was.
“It’s a really long story,” Mara began, thinking quickly. “Do you know what a cryotank is?”
Both Kirk and McCoy nodded, understanding crossing their faces. Good. She wouldn’t have to explain more than that.
“Do you have any idea how you ended up in this galaxy?” Kirk asked.
“Captain, I don’t even know if I’m in the same universe.” She shook her head, “I think there was a temporal black hole. I fell through, and the hole closed after me.”
“After which, you sent a distress signal out to the Dillon .”
“Pretty much, Captain,” Mara agreed. The sooner she could get out of here…
“Where did you learn to fight like that?” Kirk asked, sounding genuinely interested. “There are only two careers I can think of that would require skills like blowing up a ship.”
McCoy and the nurse looked at her, waiting for an explanation. They were interested too.
“Criminal or soldier, you mean,” Mara said, trying not to sound bitter. As much as she hated to admit it, there was every possibility she was stuck here for the long haul. It was also highly likely she would have to trust these people in the future, and trust went both ways.
“Both,” she said, taking the risk. There was no way these people would believe she was just a soldier. “I was a bounty hunter and mercenary before I became a Colonel in the Haat Mando’ade.”
“Bounty hunting’s illegal,” McCoy said disapprovingly.
“Haat Mando’ade?” queried Kirk.
“Bounty hunting isn’t illegal where I’m from, although it makes things a whole lot easier if you work through the Bounty Hunter’s Guild--which I do.” She replied to McCoy’s question first, then to the Captain. “Mandalore is where I’m from. The Haat Mando’ade was our army. We were fighting a civil war against terrorists when I ended up here.”
“You sound like a very interesting woman, Miss. Miraal,” Kirk said with a raised eyebrow.
“Mrs.,” she corrected automatically, then winced. No. That was not something she wanted to tell these strangers. Why couldn’t she have just said ‘Colonel’?
“Alright, Mrs. Colonel Miraal,” Kirk said easily. “We’ll do our best to get you home as soon as possible.”
Mara was about to ask about her ship when the med-bay door slid open again. The... Vulcan walked in.
“Sir, a Romulan ship has appeared on our scanners,” Spock announced. “They wish to talk with you.”
“I’ll be right there Spock,” Captain Kirk said. He turned back to Mara. “Would you like to see the bridge?”
“Captain,” Spock said warningly.
“I’d love to,” Mara said before Kirk could revoke his offer.
If she wanted to learn more, the bridge was the opportune place.
Romulans, as it turned out, looked a lot like Vulcans.
“Captain, would you care to explain why your ship is so close to the Neutral Zone?” the Romulan captain demanded.
“We were engaged in a rescue mission,” Captain Kirk explained. “Now that the rescue is complete, we will be returning back to Federation Space.”
“I received no word of a distress signal,” the Romulan sneered. “You are in violation of the treaty.”
Spock stepped forward. “Captain, as we have not entered the Neutral Zone, the treaty has not been violated. In fact, it is the Romulans who are wading dangerously close to Federation Space.”
The Romulan scowled. “Watch yourself, Kirk. Next time, your loopholes may end up around your throat.”
Both Captains signed off. Kirk slumped slightly in his chair.
“I do believe they are still mad about the Nero Incident, Captain,” Spock said lightly.
“No kidding,” Kirk mumbled.
Everyone on the bridge turned, and Mara realized she’d spoken out loud.
“It’s a long story, involving time travel, angry Romulans, and Mr. Spock,” Kirk replied vaguely.
Time travel, hmm?
Maybe this universe wouldn’t be as boring as Mara thought.
A group of Jedi Padawans stood in a somber circle.
“I’m sorry, but we can’t put it off any longer.” Garen took a deep breath. “We have to go back home.”
Immediately, a wave of protests and arguments came from the other Padawans.
“We can’t leave now!”
“Obi-Wan still needs us!”
“We can help!”
Quinlan held up a hand, halting their protests.
“Muln’s right. We’ve been gone too long already. You all need to go back to Coruscant.”
“Who do I have there?” Bant asked bitterly. “Master Tahl is dead, and you’re the only friends I have.”
“Which means we have to stick together,” Siri said firmly. “I know none of us are around much anymore, but we’ll always be around, Bant. I will, at least.”
Reeft nodded. “We’ll help you find a new Master. And if we can’t, well...I’m sure Master Xi or Master Jinn would take over your training.”
Bant smiled weakly. “Thank you.”
Siri frowned. “What about you, Quinlan? You said it was time for ‘us’ to go home. What are you going to do?”
Quinlan shrugged. “Stick around for a while, I guess. Neither Master Tholme or the guy I borrowed the ship from are gonna be happy with me.”
“You’ve got to face it sometime, Vos,” Garen pointed out. “But I think you’ll be fine staying here for a bit.”
“Certainly not,” Siri argued. “He can’t stay on Mandalore by himself!”
“I’m not,” Quinlan said defensively. “Obi-Wan and Master Dooku are sticking around for a while. I’ll stay with them, and you can go back to Coruscant with Jinn.”
“ Master Jinn,” Siri corrected.
Reeft frowned. “Is Master Jinn going back?”
Bant nodded. “He and Master Tahl weren’t supposed to be here in the first place. The Council will want to talk to him in person.”
Garen snorted. Siri glared at him.
“Fine. It’s settled, then. We go, and Quinlan stays.”
Quinlan bowed with a smirk. “Thank you for your deep understanding, Tachi.”
Siri’s glare diverted to him. “I expect you back on Coruscant in no less than two weeks.”
“Two, heading towards one.”
“Fine, you’ve got me,” Quinlan sighed, relenting. “Two weeks, and I’ll be back on Coruscant.”
“At the Temple on Coruscant,” Siri corrected.
Garen and Reeft laughed. Bant cracked a smile, then she frowned.
“Hey, have any of you seen Obi-Wan?”
Jango was drunk.
Obi-Wan wasn’t sure how a man could get drunk so quickly, but for the first time, Obi-Wan seriously considered joining him.
After another second of watching Jango drinking by himself, Obi-Wan entered the tavern.
It was unusually quiet, for a tavern. None of the patrons spoke above a whisper. It was as if they were mourning something lost.
Jango didn’t even look up when Obi-Wan slid onto the stool next to him. He wasn’t sure what to say. What could he say, when Obi-Wan felt every bit as miserable as he did? There were so many questions he wanted to ask Jango--so many things he didn’t know about his parents--either of them. Jango had known Buir a lot longer than he had. Maybe he’d known Obi-Wan’s dad, too.
Before he could think better of it, Obi-Wan opened his mouth and asked.
“Yeah?” Jango grunted.
“Did you know my dad?”
Jango set down his mug with a deep sigh. “Kenobi Miraal was a good man. He was Jaster’s best friend--his brother. I was only about eleven when he was killed. It almost destroyed Jaster and Mara.”
‘What was he like?”
“Come to think of it, he looked a lot like you. Red hair, grey eyes...He had your sense of humor, too--dry and sarcastic as hell.” Jango shook his head. “You know, I still don’t get it. Why didn’t she bring you back to Mandalore? You were part of our family too--Jaster, me, and Arla. Why did she give you up?”
“She didn’t want me to get hurt, I guess.”
Jango scoffed. “Vod’ika, you’re a Jetti. There’s about a million safer occupations I can think of.”
“You may have a point there,” he admitted with a smile.
An exasperated sigh sounded behind them.
“Typical men. Drinking when there’s work to be done.”
Both men turned in their seats, facing the glaring disapproval of Satine Kryze.
Obi-Wan expected Jango to spout off some biting remark, or at the very least ignore her, but his reply surprised both teenagers.
“Why don’t you join us, Kryze?” Jango offered. “There’s enough tihaar to drown all our sorrows.”
Satine narrowed her eyes at him.
“I suppose one drink can’t hurt,” she said finally.
Obi-Wan’s eyes widened in surprise as Satine slid onto the seat next to them.
“I didn’t think...I mean, with how you’re…” he stuttered.
Satine gave him a look. “My people may be more reserved, but I am still a Mandalorian.” She glanced up at the bartender. “A pint of ale, please.”
“Coming right up, Duchess,” the Besalisk replied with an amused smile.
“Satine, have you seen Qui-Gon or Master Yan?” Obi-Wan asked. It had been a worryingly long time since he’d seen either of the older Jedi. He hoped they hadn’t gotten into any trouble with any Mandalorians.
“They’re in the establishment down the street. I would say they’re a fair bit further along than you on the ‘drowning out sorrows’ part,” Satine replied blandly.
Jango snorted into his drink.
“Jettise,” he said, as if that explained everything. Then he locked eyes with something on the other side of the tavern. He let out a low growl. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Jango was out of his seat in a flash, heading towards the door. Obi-Wan frowned and turned, looking for Jango’s target, but he couldn’t find anyone.
“What was that about?”
“Probably someone who owes him money,” Satine said with a sniff. “I can’t believe I’m stuck in charge of a planet with him.”
“Satine,” Obi-Wan began. He hesitantly rested his hand on Satine’s. “I’m sorry about your parents.”
She nodded stonily. “Thank you. And...I’m sorry, too--about your mother. I had no idea.”
“Not many people did.” He tried to smile, but it fell flat.
Obi-Wan went to pull his hand away, but Satine stopped him. She placed her hand over his, holding it still.
Grey eyes met sparkling blue.
“What happens now?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Now,” Satine said solemnly. “We make our parents proud.”
I know this chapter is kind of awkward and random, but I promise next chapter's going to contain some actual plot.
Chapter 20: Ramblin' Man
I have no idea how Zabrak ages work. I put Maul a few years older than Obi-Wan, but you can yell at me if that's wrong. He's roughly twenty in this chapter.
Disclaimer: Mind you, moose bites can be nasty
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Maul wasn’t an apprentice. Not yet. There was still much to learn--much to discover. That is why he was here on Ossus. It was the place of both Jedi and Sith. Where the great Exar Kun had become enlightened.
Maul hated educational trips. A waste of time in his opinion. Why bother reading about dusty old Sith Lords when he could be practicing with his awesome new lightsaber?
But as Maul trekked through dingy old temples and abandoned ruins, he began to realize why his Master had sent him here of all places.
The Force breathed here in a way that it never did on Muunilinst or Mustafar. Even though the Darkness was stronger here, it felt almost alive, calling to him as if it could feel and think the way a person could. In a way, Maul was beginning to like it here. He stopped actively searching the ruins half-way into his first day on the planet. Instead, he let the Force guide his search. It felt more natural that way.
At the moment, he was sitting on a fallen statue, attempting to translate a carving from a rock he’d found earlier. It was slow-going, but at least he had something to do until Sidious decided to come back for him--if he ever did.
The day was dragging on, as the rest of the week had, when a very interesting thing happened.
A ship entered the atmosphere.
It was a Mandalorian ship--small and battle-worn. And it was heading right for the ruins Maul currently occupied.
The ship landed right at the border of the old city, and Maul watched as four teenagers--maybe a couple years younger than him--stepped off onto the planet’s surface.
They stopped at the edge of the loading bay. Maul locked eyes with the leader. He was a Human with brown hair--exceptionally ordinary-looking.
“Umm...Hi,” the kid said. “I’m Garen. Who are you?”
“Maul,” replied Maul.
He studied these teenagers. They were all connected to the Force. Maul buried his presence well--hiding in plain sight the way Sidious taught him. Their presences felt...light. Maul tried not to sneer at them. Anyone who chose to follow the Light were blinded by lies of peace and security.
“Do you live here?” asked one of the other teenagers--a Dressellian male.
Maul shook his head. “No. Do you?”
He already knew the answer. Of course they didn’t live here. If anything, they had run out of supplies or fuel and stopped to restock.
“No. We actually stopped by to ask for directions,” Garen replied. “I think we may have gotten turned around.”
The Dressellian snorted. “ ‘May have ’.”
“What are you doing on this planet all by yourself, Maul?” the blonde teen asked suspiciously.
Maul shrugged, deciding he might as well tell them part of the truth. “My...teacher left me here. I don’t know if he’ll be back.”
“Wow, that’s rough,” the Dressellian stated.
“You could always come back to Coruscant with us,” the Mon Calamari girl suggested, speaking for the first time.
Maul blinked at the strange quartet. They were really offering him a ride back to civilization? His eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“What would you gain from such a gesture?”
They were obviously Jedi. There wasn’t really any other answer. But they were nothing like he’d expected. They didn’t act anything like the way Sidious told him the Jedi acted. However, they were young still. Maybe the brainwashing hadn’t set in yet.
Garen shrugged. “Nothing, I guess. But it would keep us from having to listen to Reeft’s complaining all the way back to Coruscant.”
The girls both laughed, and the other boy--Reeft--scowled.
Maul thought about it for a long moment. For so long, he’d been stuck doing what Sidious told him, and going where he was ordered to. If he was being honest, it was getting tiring. And the Force was so different out here.
Would Sidious really waste time looking for him if he ran away? The answer was, of course, ‘yes’. Sidious didn’t like things escaping his grasp.
Maul was truly thankful for the power Sidious had shown him, but for the first time, he began to wonder if there were things that his Master couldn’t teach him--things that Sidous didn’t know. Here, right in front of him, was a golden opportunity to find out.
And if these young Jedi were still malleable to the ways of the Force, perhaps they could become great allies. He would never trust them--he’d already seen too much in this universe to be that naive--but maybe, just maybe, they could help each other.
Maul found himself nodding. “Alright. I accept your offer.”
Garen grinned. “Sweet! I just have to figure out where we are, and then we’ll get going.”
“I still say we’re on Argonaut,” the blonde teen grumbled.
“You’re about a thousand lightyears off,” Maul stated. “This is Orssus.”
Immediately, the three teens turned on Garen with glares of varying intensity.
“We’ve been going the wrong way since Mandalore?” the Mon Cala asked calmly.
Maul raised a hairless eyebrow. They were trying to get to Coruscant from Mandalore, and ended up here? These kids must either be really incompetent, or had never seen a map before. Sidious must have been telling the truth when he said Jedi were dim-witted.
Garen put his hands up in defense. “Okay, so I know what you’re all thinking… It was Quinlan’s fault! This is his ship! He must have screwed with the navigation systems!”
“Sure, because nothing is ever your fault,” Reeft said sarcastically.
“I suppose the burglarizing hitchhiker was Quinlan’s fault as well,” the blonde interjected.
“And the Fountain Incident,” the Mon Cala added.
Garen pointed a threatening finger at her. “They never proved that was me! Nobody saw nothing! No evidence, no witnesses, Bant Eerin. And that’s the way it’s gonna stay, if you know what’s good for you.”
Before he knew it, Maul was chortling. These Jedi were a threat to the grand Sith Empire? Maybe Sidious wasn’t as powerful as he thought if he was worried about people like these.
“I can lead you back to Coruscant, If you wish. There is nothing for me here,” Maul interrupted the teens’ bickering.
“By all means,” the blonde said wearily. Apparently she’d decided to trust him for the time being. “Perhaps you can help keep the peace.”
Maul wasn’t sure about that, but at least he was getting out of this dump, and he would have a head-start on escaping Sidious.
Two hours into the journey to Coruscant, Maul began to question every one of his life decisions.
At first, he’d assumed that the blonde Human--Siri Tachi-- was the competent one. How quickly that illusion had dissolved. They were all insane.
Most of their time was spent in a wild circle of arguing, fighting, joking, laughing, and having actual serious discussions. They talked about someone named Obi-Wan--a fellow Padawan and friend of theirs, and how mad their Masters were going to be when they returned.
That was when Maul realized these Padawans had escaped, much like he just had. Only, they were going back.
Kriffing insane, thought Maul. Why go back, when you can keep running? Didn’t these teenagers know that real freedom was out there, waiting for them? The Jedi would brainwash and enslave them, but power...power would break their chains.
“Why would you want to go back?”
The teens fell silent, and Maul froze. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud.
“We are Jedi,” Siri Tachi said slowly. “It is our privilege to serve the galaxy we live in. Running away from that...well, it betrays everything we’ve been taught.”
Reeft snorted. “You just quoted Master Sifo-Dyas word for word.”
Anger built inside Maul. Sidious was right. The Jedi did indoctrinate their children. They were raised to be no better than slaves. And they didn’t even realize it.
“What good do the Jedi do?” Maul asked, struggling to keep the rage from his voice. “The universe suffers around them, and they sit and talk politics.”
“That’s not true,” Bant--the Mon Cala girl--protested hotly. “We help everyone who asks.”
“Sure,” Maul scoffed. “Everyone who is a tax-paying Republic citizen.”
“What is your problem?” Siri snapped.
Maul opened his mouth to tell her exactly what his problem was, when Garen held up a hand.
“He has a point, Siri,” he said, surprising Maul. “I’ve heard Obi-Wan and Master Dooku talking about it. We don’t help people nearly as much as we used to.”
Reeft nodded. “I think it has something to do with the missions the Senate sends us, but Master Ibes doesn’t like to talk about it.”
“Master Tahl mentioned something like that when she and Master Qui-Gon talked,” Bant contributed. “I didn’t pay much attention, though.”
For some reason her aura turned sad all of a sudden. Siri put her arm around the Mon Cala comfortingly.
The three young men glanced awkwardly at each other as Bant began sniffling.
Maul turned back to the ship’s controls, checking the coordinates again, even though he didn’t need to. Everything about these teenagers mystified him. They trusted their Masters, but questioned the system. Surely, such disloyal conversations were not tolerated by the Jedi leadership. Maul knew he would have been severely tortured for any such blatant questioning of orders. Perhaps Muln, Tachi, Eerin, and Reeft were not the normal brand of blind and trusting Jedi that Sidious warned him about. They must be the rare exceptions.
He could sense their strength in the Force. They would be formidable allies--if only they could discover the power Maul already possessed.
He hoped what lay ahead of him on Coruscant was infinitely better than what lay behind him. And strangely, against everything, he began to take interest in what happened to these particular Padawans. If they could only see the truth, Maul was certain they would go far.
A scowl of immense displeasure stretched across Darth Sidious’ face. He stormed through the building, expression darkening with every step.
His pet thought he could escape him? Him?
Maul was sorely mistaken if he thought Sidious would let him go.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t go after his pet--not yet. There was someone who wished to speak with him first. And Sidious could not afford to let this particular someone know about Maul’s attempted treachery.
He pushed open a set of doors, and paused just inside. The tall figure of Sidious’ Master stood in front of the window, staring out at the stars contemplatively.
“You summoned me, Master?” Sidious asked, hiding his annoyance.
The Muun turned slowly, meeting Sidious’ eye.
“Several things of interest have come to my attention, Apprentice,” the Muun said emotionlessly.
A cold feeling crept over Sidious. He couldn’t know. He couldn’t possibly know!
Sidious struggled to keep calm, waiting for his Master to explain.
“Upon my dealings with the mine owners on Kessel, I came across a most singular young person,” the Muun elaborated. “I believe you know of her.”
His Master glanced off to the side, and Sidious followed his gaze to the back corner of the room.
His eyes flickered with surprise when he saw a heap of matted hair and torn rags huddled against itself. He hadn’t sensed anyone else in the room when he entered, but now that he could see her, it was impossible to sense anything else. Sidious knew immediately who the rumpled woman was.
“It will take quite a lot of tests and experiments to mend her for functional use, but I believe she will become a valuable asset.”
Sidious couldn’t disagree with his Master. This particular woman would come in very handy in the future--that is, if the Muun could mend her.
“Perhaps she will replace your pet,” the Muun continued, and Sidious froze, He knew. “If you cannot keep your students under control, perhaps you will learn from another of mine.”
Sidious grit his teeth. He was threatening to replace him with that ruined mess of an ex-Jedi slumped on the floor?
“The foolish boy will learn,” Sidious snarled. “He will be dealt with severely.”
“You speak as though his actions are a mild inconvenience,” his Master remarked. “Have a care, my Apprentice. Do not underestimate the impact of pawns.”
Sidious nodded jerkily, tamping down on his rage.
“Retrieve him, and return to your work.”
Plagueis turned to the slobbering heap of what used to be Komari Vosa, blatantly ignoring Sidious. Sidious scowled as his Master immersed himself in yet another project.
Seeing that Plagueis would be occupied for the foreseeable future, Sidious turned on his heel, and left. There was much work to do, and only a decade or so to do it.
“Permission to come aboard?”
Mara flipped the main power switch, and glanced back at Doctor McCoy.
She was going over the Sympathy’s wiring. Everything looked fine, but better safe than sorry.
“Permission granted,” she said, setting down her borrowed hydro-spanner. “What can I do for you, doc?”
McCoy stepped on board, glancing around the Sympathy’s interior.
“Just wanted a look at the ship even Scotty couldn’t figure out.”
She gestured vaguely to the engine behind her.
“Well, here she is.” Mara wiped her hands on a rag, and walked over to the miniature kitchen on the other side of the hold. “The Sympathy’s almost as old as I am, and in about the same shape.”
She pulled out two glasses and a half-filled bottle of home-brewed tihaar.
McCoy took that as a welcome, and stepped closer. “I don’t know much about ships. Flying death traps, if you ask me.”
“You work on a spaceship. In space,” she said flatly.
Mara set both glasses on the table and poured out a measure of tihaar into each.
McCoy shrugged. “It was the only job I could find at the time. After I lost my practice back on Earth, I didn’t have much of anywhere else to go.”
“Earth?” she frowned.
“The planet I’m from--where most of the crew are from,” McCoy explained. He took the seat across from her.
Mara raised an eyebrow and slid a glass to him. “You named your planet after dirt?”
“ I didn’t name it,” McCoy protested. “And you’ve got it backwards. Dirt is named after our planet.”
“Whatever you say,” Mara said meekly, sipping at her tihaar.
McCoy grumbled something unintelligible, and guzzled down half the contents of his glass. Almost immediately, he choked, gagging on the booze still trapped halfway down his throat.
Mara couldn’t help the laugh that burst out. McCoy looked at her with an expression of anguish and betrayal. She laughed harder.
“The hell was that?! ” he spluttered.
“A home-brew of a Mandalorian classic,” Mara grinned. “Strong, isn’t it?”
“That’s one word for it,” McCoy wheezed.
“Been drinking it since I was fourteen,” she added. “You get used to it.”
“Fourteen!? That stuff’ll stunt your growth!”
Mara shrugged. “Well, since I didn’t expect to make it past sixteen, I figured it couldn’t hurt.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, she started cursing herself. Bring down the mood, why don’t you?
“You’re lucky you made it past sixteen, drinking stuff like that,” McCoy grumbled. “It’s worse than the stuff Sulu drinks.”
Mara laughed easily, glad that her careless comment hadn’t ruined the moment.
“So, tell me, Doctor McCoy: how does a responsible and paranoid person such as yourself end up on a military vessel, millions of lightyears from civilization?”
“Now there’s a sob story,” McCoy said, sniffing at his tihaar. He hazarded another sip. “Caught my wife with another man. She took everything--the house, the kid, the bank account. I started drinking and lost my career too. Ended up in Starfleet ‘cause they were the only ones who would take me.”
Mara blinked. Well, that was downright depressing.
“That’s rough, vod.”
“Tell me about it,” McCoy huffed. “What about you? You were awful quick to put that ‘Mrs.’ in front of your name, but I don’t see a wedding ring on your hand, or a tan-line from one.”
It was only fair to tell him the truth, seeing as he’d just dumped out all of his life problems.
“We don’t exchange rings on Mandalore.” She removed her left vambrace and set it on the table. “We exchange pieces of armour. This was Kenobi’s.” She stared at it for a moment, studying the original green paint peeking out from under the newer coat of black. “My vambrace was buried with him.”
“Damn,” McCoy breathed. “I’m sorry.”
“It was my fault,” she continued. “If I hadn’t let my guard down, both Kenobi and Jaster would be alive, and I wouldn’t have this.” She pointed at her scar. She hated it--hated what it meant. They had died on her watch, and she had done nothing.
She reclasped Kenobi’s vambrace around her arm and lifted her glass.
“Here’s to mistakes and bad choices--other’s and our own--that messed up our lives,” McCoy said, somewhat seriously.
Mara clinked her glass against McCoy’s and downed the rest of her tihaar. She winced at the burn, and McCoy coughed. It was McCoy who reached out to refill both of their glasses.
“You said you had a kid?” Mara asked, changing to subject to what she hoped was a lighter topic.
McCoy nodded. “Joanna. I haven’t seen her in person in almost three years.”
Okay, so it wasn’t really a happier subject.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I know that’s hard. I’ve got a boy. Kenobi Junior, but he goes by Obi-Wan. I missed the first twelve years of his life.”
“Dang. I think you’ve got me beat on that front.” McCoy raised his glass again. “To being crappy parents.”
They both drank, and Mara wondered if she would ever see her son again.
I'm going to do a few chapters solely in the Star Trek universe, but the main plot is Star Wars centered, so we'll return eventually.
Chapter 21: Renegade
I don't really know where this chapter came from. I guess wherever the Enterprise is, unexplainable shennanigans just sort of happen.
Disclaimer: The person responsible for sacking the person who has just been sacked, has been sacked.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Oddly enough, Starfleet didn’t mind Colonel Miraal sticking around with the crew of the Enterprise .
Not that James Kirk minded either. Their strange interloper was an exotic oddity aboard their ship. With her armour and scars and strange way of saying things, dull moments were few and far between.
“Hey! Get your kriffing hands off my ship, gar’shabuir! Haark’cha! Do none of gar di’kut besoms have any shabla respect for personal property?”
The terrified ensign Mara was yelling at all but sprinted past Jim in an effort to get away as quickly as possible. Jim crossed his arms and smiled at the spectacle.
“Scotty!” Mara continued yelling. “ Jorhaa'ir gar shabla crew to stay the kriff away from the Sympathy!”
“Ach! The lad was jest curious!” Scotty yelled back. “Will ye stop shouting at them, and maybe they’ll learn somethin’!”
Uhura walked over to stand by Jim.
“Do you think she would mind teaching me her language?” Uhura asked quietly.
“I don’t think you need lessons to understand the sentiment behind the words, Uhura,” Jim replied with another smile.
Mara growled at the next ensign who got too close.
“Do you think her culture is similar to the Klingon’s?” Uhura asked, watching the scene in fascination.
“I don’t doubt it, Lieutenant.”
Scotty walked over to where Mara was checking over the external thrusters, and handed her a wrench. Surprisingly, she didn’t growl at him when he started working alongside her.
Maybe she was making friends after all.
The first real incident happened in empty space above a planet called Imogen.
Nothing of interest had happened since their stop-over at Starbase 14, when they dropped off the survivors from the Dillon . All of the survivors except Colonel Miraal elected to stay on at the Starbase--Miraal citing the reason that she ‘didn’t have anything else better to do’.
That had been over a week ago. Now, the crew of the Enterprise , plus one, wandered through open space and faraway stars.
Everyone on the bridge was at their stations, and, for some reason, Colonel Miraal was laying on her back under the communications console, pulling out wires.
All in all, it was a quiet, normal day.
“How do you say ‘hello’ in Mando’a?” Uhura asked.
“ Su’cuy gar ,” Mara grunted, yanking out a yellow wire. “It’s not exactly ‘hello’, per se, but it gets the same point across.”
“What does it actually translate to?” Uhura continued her line of questioning.
Mara spliced two mis-matched wires together, and tucked them back under the console. “In Basic--sorry, English--it means ‘so, you’re still alive’.”
Jim chuckled. Whoever her people were, they had a very interesting way of putting things.
“Captain, I am receiving some rather strange readings,” Commander Spock called from his station.
“What kind of readings?” Jim asked, mind immediately returning to his job. He swiveled in his chair to face the science officer.
“There appears to be an energy field of sorts surrounding the ship, Captain,” Spock replied. “But it seems to be following us.”
“Yes, sir. We are getting energy spikes from something directly ahead of us,” Chekov concurred. “Not to disagree with Mr. Spock, but it is not a field. It is more like a...swarm.”
Spock returned to checking his instruments. “Your observation is correct, Lieutenant. It does indeed appear to be a swarm.”
“Screen on,” Jim ordered.
Sulu turned a switch, and the outer view-point screen flickered on.
There, directly in front of the ship, was a luminescent cloud of gaseous...things.
“Scan readings, Mr. Spock,” Jim called.
“Captain, from what I can tell, this swarm is comprised of multiple gasses, but has no form or hive mind. It is impossible for such a conglomerate to exist--certainly not in space.” Spock seemed quite sound in his answer, but that didn’t change the fact that there was such a swarm...and it was coming closer.
“Sir, I’m picking up a signal,” Uhura announced. “It’s originating from the swarm.”
“Impossible, Captain,” Spock interjected.
“Play the transmission on speakers, Lieutenant,” Jim ordered.
Uhura complied, and a half-second later, buzzing, hissing sounds emanated from the bridge’s communications system.
“Clarify and enhance,” Jim called.
“...heart’s greatest desire, and your greatest fear,” a low voice rasped. Though it had no discernable texture to it, Jim could understand every word. “Leave now, Enterprise. Do not return.”
Then, the transmission cut out. The crew sat in silence for a long moment.
“Well, I think we should do as the ominous cloud suggests, and skedaddle,” Mara said, reminding Jim that she was present.
“I concur,” he agreed. “Mr. Spock, get what readings you can from that thing, and let’s get out of here.”
“Aye, Captain,” Spock replied. “Initiating scan now.”
The entire ship shook.
“I don’t think it liked that, Captain,” Sulu called.
“Mr. Spock, cease scanning.”
“Sir, there’s another transmission coming through,” Uhura rejoined.
The buzzing voice returned.
“ Your warning and chance are forfeit,” the voice hissed. “Now, the strongest of you will suffer.”
“Mr. Sulu, reverse engines,” Jim ordered.
“I can’t sir! Something ‘s leaching all of our warp power.”
Jim pressed a button on his console. “Engineering, what’s the situation down there?”
“Scott here, sir,” came Scotty's flustered voice. “I cannae say what’s wrong with her, but the engines! They’re shutting down, sir! There’s nae enough power to keep them stable!”
Mara scrambled to her feet, and ran into the hoverlift.
“Engineering!” she shouted to the computer.
Whatever she was going down there to do, he hoped it would work.
“Uhura, can you open a channel?” he asked.
“Negative. It’s resisting all attempts at communication.”
“Sir, the swarm is coming closer,” Chekov called.
“Engine power at minimum, Captain,” Sulu added.
Jim reopened the channel with Engineering. “Scotty, is there anything you can do?”
“Nay, sir. We’ve just nae got the juice to do anythin’.”
That was when things began to get strange.
A bright light shone from the swarm. Everyone on the bridge winced and covered their eyes. Jim was momentarily blinded by the sheer whiteness of it.
“Shields up, Mr. Sulu.”
“Shield up, sir,” Sulu replied.
“Jim, what’s going on up there?” Bones’ voice shouted from the intercom.
Jim was about to open his mouth to answer, when the scene in front of him changed.
The blinding light faded and shifted to something else--something almost familiar, but not.
He was still on the bridge, but everything was...different somehow. All of the chairs--save for the captain’s chair that Jim occupied--was empty.
And outside the viewscreen….it was day. They weren’t in space anymore.
“Spock? Uhura? Sulu?” Jim shouted.
There was no reply.
“Jim? You done messing around up there, yet?” an unfamiliar voice called from behind him.
Jim spun in his seat. A young man with blond hair walked onto the bridge.
“There you are. Come on. You’ll be sitting in that captain’s chair soon enough. Mom and dad are waiting,” the man said with a familiar smile.
Jim frowned. “Who are you?”
“Wow. The fame’s already gone to your head, huh.” The young man grinned. “I should have known it wouldn’t take you long to forget your brother, Jim. You remember little old me, don’t you? I’m Sam? Used to live with you? Stole your first girlfriend? Ringing any bells?”
Jim forced himself to smile and relax. He still didn’t recognize the man, but the man--Sam--obviously thought they knew each other.
Jim had no brother. After George Kirk died aboard the USS Kelvin , Winona hadn’t wanted any more kids. Not even after she married Frank.
“Where are we?” Jim asked. Sam might know something.
“San Francisco,” Sam replied. “Duh. We’re here to watch you get promoted to captain.”
Sam walked off the bridge. Without really any other choice, Jim followed him.
“But I’m already a captain,” Jim protested.
Sam chuckled. “Only in your mind, Jim.”
They took the hoverlift down to the ground, and Jin continued trailing behind him. They actually were in San Francisco. The sun felt wonderful. After so long in space, even the ground felt nicc.
A group of people were gathering in front of the Academy’s main auditorium.
“Come on, Jimmy. Mom and dad are waiting over here.”
Sam led him to a couple standing off to the side of the crowd. They had their backs to him, but Jim could swear they looked familiar.
“I found him, mom,” Sam announced. “He was trying out the captain’s seat.”
The couple turned around, and Jim’s heart froze.
Winona Kirk looked younger than she ever had. And standing behind her, tall and proud, was George Kirk.
Nyota Uhura didn’t know where she was, but wherever it was, she wasn’t sure she wanted to leave. It was beautiful here. Red and purple trees bloomed, and warm sunshine cast hues of the same colors in the air. A heavy volume weighed in her hand, and Uhura sat with her back against a red tree to enjoy it.
“Commander, is everything alright? Nyota?”
Uhura glanced up from her book. A handsome man with dark hair stood above her. He wore a red Starfleet uniform with the emblem of ‘lieutenant’ on it.
“Yes, lieutenant. I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”
The lieutenant smiled and sat down next to her. “You know, you can call me John when we’re off duty.”
Uhura smiled back. “Sorry, John. Force of habit.”
“What are we reading about today, Nyota?” he asked, laying his head on her shoulder.
“Klingon slang terms of the second era.”
“Fascinating,” he said sincerely.
He gently turned the page for her, and they settled into a comfortable silence.
Spock was back on Vulcan, but there were humans here as well. Most notably, the crew of the EnterpriseI-- who, for some reason, were all wearing civilian clothes.
“Congratulations, Spock,” Mr. Scott said, clapping him on the back. “I knew you’d get it in the end.”
Scott stepped to the side, allowing Uhura to step forward. Spock found himself entrapped in a familiar hug.
“I’m so happy for you,” she whispered, breaking the hug. “I’m happy for both of you.”
Spock frowned. “Both of us?”
A hand slipped into his. Spock startled, and looked up into the warm brown eyes of James Kirk.
“Everything alright, t’hy’la?”
Leonard McCoy was back in Georgia. It was late Summer, and he was sitting underneath a magnolia tree.
A picnic stretched out in front of him, with all the proper fixings. Potato salad, baked beans, smoked barbeque, and pecan pie. Bones’ mouth all but watered at the sight of the juicy watermelon.
The entire crew of the Enterprise filled the view around him, running, eating, playing, and having a grand time. Spock and Jim were sitting on a blanket, and Jim was stealing Spock’s food, much to the Vulcan’s consternation. Bones chuckled.
“Dad, how do you throw a football?”
Bones’ throat constricted at the sound of a voice he hadn’t heard in so long.
Joanna Elizabeth McCoy ran up to the place he sat, huffing in irritation.
“Chekov says football was invented in Russia, and I told that was ludicrous, but then he dared me to throw a football better than him to prove it.”
Bones chuckled and pulled Jojo in for a long hug. It felt so wonderful to see her again. She looked a little older then when he’d last seen her. And, dang she was getting tall.
“What’s this ‘football’ everyone keeps talking about?” Mara asked, strolling up to them. She wasn't wearing her armour. It was a strange sight to see her in normal clothes.
“I’ll show you,” Bones replied, taking the football Jojo held out to him. “We’ll prove Chekov wrong.”
He ran off onto a wide field, Mara, Jojo, and Chekov hot on his heels.
“Please tell me you know how to fix this!” Lieutenant Howell shouted.
The captain, Uhura, Spock, and Sulu weren’t moving--staring straight ahead as though they were in a trance.
“The engines are still out. There’s nothing we can do!” engineer Sapson shouted.
Montgomery Scott didn’t notice anything was wrong until Kinzer smiled at him.
Kinzer didn’t smile.
Kinzer didn’t even know how to smile.
Then, Jim Kirk stopped smiling.
James Kirk hugged his mom, and slung an arm over Sam’s shoulder.
“The Enterprise awaits,” his dad shouted jovially. “But, first: pie with Jim’s girlfriend.”
James almost stumbled. “Girlfriend?”
“Oh yes. That Admiral’s daughter you’ve told us so much about,” Winona added.
“Carol Marcus is great. You’ll really like her, dad,” Sam nodded. “She’s a good type.”
James shook his head immediately. If there was anyone he wanted to avoid, in this dream, or in any other form, it was Carol Marcus. They had dated a while in the Academy, but, well, it hadn't turned out well, to say the least. “I’ll meet up with you later,” he announced, thinking of a way to get out of the dreaded meeting. “I want to meet my crew.”
“I thought they hadn’t been assigned yet.” George Kirk remarked curiously.
“They haven’t officially, but I know who they are.”
“Alright, Jim dear,” his mom agreed. “We’ll see you in a bit.”
James waved his parents and brother off, trying to shake the feeling that something was wrong.
Uhura began to miss the crew of the Enterprise , surprisingly.
She loved having a command post of her own, but something was missing. She thought she would love having someone sensible sitting in the captain’s chair, but it didn’t seem...complete somehow.
Mara sprinted to the engine room, fighting off the haze as tears slipped down her cheeks.
What the vision had offered her...it was too much.
“Get out of my way!” she yelled at an ensign. “Where’s Scotty?”
“I--I don’t know ma’am. It’s like he’s hypnotized.”
A surge of fog broke free in her mind. It pulled her back into its lies, but she fought, shoving it away.
She was not going back.
Spock was content. His planet was restored, his mother was alive, and the celebration was entirely to his tastes. The feast was brought out, and Spock was pleased to recognize his favorite Vulcan dishes.
He sat next to James Kirk, as was proper. But as he looked around the table, he noticed there were several faces missing.
“Captain, where are Chekov, Colonel Miraal, Christine, and Kinzer?”
James looked at him strangely. “I don’t know any Colonel Miraal or Kinzer. Christine transferred almost a year ago, and Chekov…” James cut himself off, swallowing roughly. Pure emotion shone in his eyes. “Are you alright, Spock?”
Spock glanced again around the table and realized that, no, everything was not alright.
“That’s him, right there. That’s the man who killed David McCoy--his own son.”
Bones stared at Jocelyn in incomprehension. His ex-wife stood straight and tall in the summer sun. Two police officers and Jocelyn’s boyfriend--Clay Treadway--stood at her side.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Jojo asked from behind him.
Bones was speechless, but he needn’t have worried. Jocelyn answered for him, a gleeful grin on her face.
“Your father is being arrested for murder, sweetie.”
The two police officers stepped forward, each taking one of Bones’ arms.
“This is outrageous!” Jim shouted angrily. “Doctor McCoy has never murdered anyone!”
And oh, how Bones wished that were true.
“Leonard McCoy, you are under arrest for first-degree murder.”
“I am quite certain we have never met, captain,” Spock informed him. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have an interrogation to attend.”
“Well then, may I accompany you, commander?
“If you wish, captain. Although, I do not think you would find it pleasant. I am questioning the suspect in the Dillon massacre. I am told she is a very violent assassin.”
James stumbled. “You can’t’ mean the attack on the USS Dillon.”
“Indeed, captain. The one and the same,” Spock replied, leading them into a room.
Colonel Mara Miraal was handcuffed to a table, devoid of armour and weapons. There were dark circles under her eyes, and her scar stood out painfully on her unusually pale face. She looked terrible.
“She claims that some manner of creature attacked the ship, and she just happened to be there,” an officer informed them with a chuckle. “Craziest story I’ve heard in a while.”
“Thank you, lieutenant. I will take charge from here,” Spock said.
The lieutenant nodded and stepped back. Spock entered the interrogation room. James wasn’t worried per se. He knew Spock would uncover the truth. Mara would be declared innocent and set free.
The worn and weary colonel looked up when Spock entered.
“Hello, Commander Spock,” she greeted. Her shoulders slumped as if in defeat. “They told me you’d be coming.”
Spock sat in the seat across from her. “Mrs. Miraal, this is the last chance you will have to confess. Are you certain your version of events is the one you wish to continue with?”
Mara nodded stonily. “I attacked no one.”
“Then this would be easier if you remained still,” Spock said, reaching out his hands towards Mara’s face. She shied back.
“What are you doing?” she asked, a hint of panic filled her eyes and voice.
“I am going to read your thoughts.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Mara said. Jim could see her panic growing. “Isn’t there some kind of lie-detector test you guys have?”
“Yes,” allowed Spock. “But I do not believe you would have any difficulty in tricking such a test. However, a Vulcan mind reading, there is no place to hide the truth.”
He reached forward again, and Mara leaned back as far as the cuffs would allow. Her wrists strained, the metal cuffs cutting into skin .
“Please, commander,” Mara implored. “You don’t want to see--”
Then Spock’s fingers came to rest in the key positions on Mara’s face. She jerked back, eye widening.
Spock frowned and closed his eyes. Mara squeezed her eye shut, clenching her teeth tightly.
“Get out of my head,” she hissed.
Spock simply pressed harder.
James watched in silent horror as Mara and Spock waged a mental battle.
She winced in concentration, and Spock let out a hiss of pain. Then his jaw clenched, and Mara yelped.
“Surrender,” Spock returned calmly.
James could pinpoint the moment they lashed out at each other’s minds.
The matching screams would haunt James’ nightmares.
“Stop it!” James yelled, pounding against the glass that separated him from the scene.
But their assaults continued.
“Get me out of here!” Scotty shouted “Whatever this is, get me out, now !”
“Stop it!” Uhura ordered. “I said halt the attack!”
“Commander, please return to your station,” the captain said coldly.
“No,” she returned stubbornly. Every eye on the bridge snapped to her. “That is a non-hostile ship. They have given us no reason at all to fire on them.”
The captain stood from his chair and calmly looked her in the eye. “Are you disobeying a direct order, commander?”
“Nyota, no,” John whispered.
Uhura lifted her chin and straightened her stance. “I do believe I am, sir.”
The captain nodded. “Security, would you please remove the commander from the bridge?”
The security ensign gripped Uhura by the arm.
“Resume assault,” the captain added, retreating to his chair.
Uhura wrenched the guard’s arm backwards, cracking it violently. The guard cried out.
The captain pulled out his phaser, and Uhura felt a stun blast slam into her spine.
She fell, tasting blood and iron.
HIkaru Sulu jerked awake with a cry of distress. His eyes darted around desperately, searching his surroundings. Finding that he was back on the bridge of the Enterprise , he let out a sigh of relief.
It seemed the captain, Mr. Spock, and Uhura were waking from similar nightmares--or whatever that was.
“Are you alright, Hikaru?” Chekov asked worriedly.
Sulu nodded slowly. “I think so, Pavel.”
James leaned forward in his seat, placing shaking hands on his armrests.
“What is our situation, Mr. Sulu?”
Sulu quickly scanned the console.
“We’re moving ahead at warp five. No signs of the energy readings from earlier.”
Everyone on the bridge sighed in relief.
Captain Kirk pressed a button on his console. “Engineering. Congratulations on getting us out of that. How do the engines look, Scotty?”
“Well captain, I cannae really say,” Scotty replied, sounding far away. “I was out for a bit. Whatever Mara did to the engines...it worked, but I have no’ the first idea how to get a reading off this contraption.”
“Why do you not simply ask Colonel Miraal?” Spock asked.
“Well, I figured it would nae be polite to disturb her at the moment, seein’ as she’s sitting on the floor, staring off into nothing,” was Scotty’s reply.
James pressed another button. “Doctor McCoy, I believe you are needed in Engineering.”
“On my way, Jim, ” Bones replied. “Do we have any idea what that was?”
James glanced at Spock. Spock shook his head.
“The scans resembled nothing we’ve ever seen.”
“Whatever it was, let’s hope we never encounter it again,” James said with a slight shudder.
“I’m all for that,” Sulu echoed his sentiment vehemently
“Hear, hear,” Uhura agreed.
James Kirk thought of his father and mother, and wondered what his crew had seen.
Bones stilled the shaking in his hands, and stepped off the hoverlift into Engineering.
His goal in visiting was temporarily forgotten when he took a single glance at the engines.
“What the heck is that?”
“Haven’t the faintest,” Scotty remarked, walking over to him. “The boys said Mara was half-delirious when she cobbled it together.”
They stood in silence for a moment, staring at the slap-dash contraption that used to be a warp core. But their thoughts weren’t on the engines.
“It was awful, Scotty,” Bones whispered.
“Aye,” Scotty nodded. “That it was.”
Bones shook his head. “Look at me, wasting time. Who’s the patient?”
“Mara. She won’t say anything--just keeps sittin’ there.”
Scotty led the way.
Bones expected Mara to be trapped in some sort of panicked state. Perhaps brought on by whatever nightmares they had just escaped. And she was a soldier. Who knew what form her fears had taken? But he hadn’t expected this.
Mara sat limply on the floor, head down and arms dangling by her sides. If it weren’t for the erratic breaths coming from her, blowing her hair outward, he might have thought she were asleep.
He gently knelt beside her.
“Mara, it’s over,” he said softly. “You got us out. This is real.”
She didn’t respond. Warily, he placed a hand on her shoulder. No reaction.
“Mara, it’s Bones. You’re safe now.”
Her breath hitched.
“Never safe,” she mumbled. “Not from him--not from me.”
Bones frowned, tucking that little bit of information away for later. At least she was coherent and not currently trying to kill anyone.
Whatever she’d seen in that hallucination or vision must have shaken her badly.
Bones shook his head to dislodge the memory of cold handcuffs on his wrists. His worst fear--losing the little he had left.
“Mara,” he began again, “you’re not there anymore. You’re here. Open your eyes.”
Her head lifted, hair falling away from her face. Two eyes, glassy white and dark hazel, looked up at him.
He smiled encouragingly, and she seemed to relax somewhat.
“Bones,” she whispered. Then her eyes widened, and she sat up straight as an arrow. “I have to fix the engines!”
She went to jump to her feet, but Bones gently pushed her back down.
“The engines are fine. You fixed them. We’re out of danger.”
“No, you don’t understand,” she protested, shoving him off. “I hooked the hyperdrive into the warp core! It’ll explode!”
Bones let go in a hurry. “ Scotty!”
Maul was trapped. He knew Sidious would catch up to him eventually. But he hadn’t expected it so soon.
One month, he’d had. One single month of living as he chose.
Being a bounty hunter was a lot of work, but it paid well, and at the end of the day, Maul had a tiny apartment to return to. He had his own speeder, his own set of weapons, and he could eat and do anything he wanted. And even though he’d never used them, he had a certain few Jedi Padawans’ comm numbers. Of course, he would never stoop to calling a Jedi for help, but it was nice to have someone to contact just in case he ever got in too deep.
Altogether, it was a new experience for the Zabrak assassin. But it was not to last.
Sidious found him on Coruscant. He should have known, given what his former Master’s occupation was. Tempting fate only went so far.
Once they were back on Mustafar, Sidious began Maul’s training afresh, with renewed vigor. As Maul lay on the ground, writhing from shock after shock of purple lightning, he thought of only one thing.
No matter the pain Sidious put him through, or how many times he was taken apart and put back together, Maul would never forget his one month of unspoiled knowledge and experience. He knew things now--things that neither Sidious nor his Master could understand.
The Dark side of the Force would indeed set him free, but the Sith’s plans no longer fit that narrative.
Maul suffered and waited. The time would come. He would get another chance. And then, he his chains would finally be broken forever.
For clarification: the swarm thing trapped everyone in their own dream/nightmare world. You might recognize Jim Kirk's nightmare, because it closely resembles the original canon.
Kinzer is the little troll guy who hangs around Scotty in the new movies.