Etain squishes herself into the very back private room of the medbay and blinks blearily at Gilamar. For his part, he’s more concerned with her performance and general health. He’s not going to be disapproving about either:
- A) her getting pregnant, apparently,
- B) her very much wanting to keep going back out and keep fighting while pregnant.
She thinks part of that has to do with that absolutely smug bastard of a clone (probably? He was obviously a Fett but he was dressed in civvies and looked younger than Darman at his most akk pup) she once walked in on him listen to rant about Mandalorian politics with a dreamy expression.
He’s also very much in agreement that Skirata needs to stay the fuck away from Vau, even if he won’t say anything. He probably has before, but it hasn’t gotten anywhere, and now he’s just very, very tired.
“I’m sorry?” she says, hoping that she misheard on the whole getting pregnant thing.
“Yeah, you’re like. Three months in.”
“Hm. Fuck,” she says.
“Yup.” He leans against the table and crosses his arms. “So. Technically. I should say no more field time.”
“But you’re not going to.”
“No. I value my life more than that,” he says, with a tone of fondness.
The mutual respect is strong in them.
“So just be careful, make sure that there’s at least one person with medical training around at all times on the field, and...” He pulls a face. “I suggest telling someone you trust.”
“I trust you,” she points out.
He gives her a blank look of disapproval. “I’m a former emergency room doctor. Not an OBGYN. You need one of those too.”
“Meddroid with the appropriate module is fine, isn’t it?” she asks.
The blank look of disapproval turns to one of complete frustration.
“Okay, an OBGYN and someone I trust,” she says, hands up in surrender. “I can do that.”
“Good. Get out of my medbay, come back if you feel bad.”
“Yessir.” Rule number one of healers, don’t piss them off.
“So,” she says, sitting down across from Walon.
He looks up from his datapad with a look that reads “what did you do” which. Rude. But fair.
In this case.
“I fucked up,” she says succinctly.
“It happens to even the best of people,” he replies.
“So it’s obviously happened to you pretty regularly,” she retorts.
He quirks a little smile that vanishes quickly. “What did you do?”
“It’s more of a who,” she starts.
He groans and sets his datapad down, burying his head in his hands. “I don’t want to know.”
“It’s kind of important.”
He glares at her through his fingers then, with a heave of a sigh, sits back up and motions for her to continue.
He gives her a look like she’s a freak of nature. “He’s like a puppy.”
“Yeah,” she agrees, “Didn’t think I’d go for that either. Anyways, we apparently weren’t as careful as we should have been.”
He stares at her.
He’s still staring.
“Why?” he asks, but it seems directed at the galaxy at large. Then, more surprising, “This wasn’t on purpose, was it?”
“What? No!” She reels back, shaken by the accusation.
“Good. I didn’t want to deal with that on the off chance you did.”
“No one needs that kind of crazy,” she says.
He grunts in agreement. “So. How far along?”
“Three months. Gilamar says I’m too far along to fix the oversight.”
He frowns at her. “His words or yours.”
“Mine. He was more politick about it.”
“Good man.” Walon sighs. “Okay, what do you need.”
She’d love to tell him that he’s very much a father figure to her, but she’s also pretty sure she should save that for the worst-case scenario of getting he and Skirata to break up. It would cause a heart attack and those things need to be triggered tactically.
Etain flops onto the couch, using the Force to keep the bangcorn inside the bowl as she squishes herself against Jaing’s side.
He huffs and she makes a little gremlin sound of smug satisfaction, wedging herself closer.
Delta Squad and Atin are a lot like Walon. Which means they show their affection like many tookas—they just like to be near you, not touching. And she likes that plenty!
With Darman, things have never really been like this. She likes him a lot, might even love him one day, but there’s a difference between the kind of chemistry they have and this kind of friendship.
She likes that she can badger Jaing in his space and he will badger her back and they will be absolutely childish little gremlins at each other and tease each other about things like shit taste in media and what colours look horrendous on each other.
“What are we watching?” she asks, shoving a handful of bangcorn in her mouth and handing him the bowl.
“Fucking a.” He waves the remote at the holodeck that the Nulls appropriated into this area. “One of those romance holos you like? That bullshit?”
She gives him a warry look. “You hate those.”
“Yeah? And?” He ruffles her hair right out of her ponytail. “You’ve been feeling off, yeah?”
“Oh fuck, you noticed?”
“Yeah, duh.” He rolls his eyes. “I know all.”
“Force I hope not,” she says. Then, grumbling, she admits, “Darman knocked me up.”
“I thought you were pegging him!”
She does a spit take with bangcorn bits flying. “I’m sorry what?”
Jaing just stares. “You’ve seriously got a brat coming? When?”
“OB and Gilamar agree on about five and a half months now.”
“Holy shit,” he says, looking a bit faint. “I’m going to be a ba’vodu!”
“I should name the kid after you,” she jokes, turning around to kick him in the side. “Okay, but what’s on the agenda tonight.”
“Weeelllllll, I’ve been trying to figure out Kal’buir and Walon’s schedule they tend to...”
Etain is doing her job and being a responsible Jedi forced into the role of a general by a corrupt senate in charge of a slave army and attempting to take as much off the shoulders of said slave army while stopping the mass murdering enemy.
It’s a hard, thankless job.
Getting tackled by Sev and Scorch while she’s talking to Zey about important Jedi things is not thanks, vode.
Zey looks smug and amused when she cranes her head out of the miniature vod pile.
She shoots him a betrayed look: she will remember this.
“You hooked up with Darman?” Sev whines. “I thought you had taste!”
She leans back and rolls her eyes. “What kind of taste are you disparaging?”
“The kind where you fuck a Skirata.”
“I feel like this is a family affair,” Zey says serenely. “I’ll step out. Hello Boss, Fixer.”
“Bastard,” she curses the master who saw her through the last steps to knighthood as he slips out of the office.
“Who told you,” she asks, taking Sev by the curls and shaking him, trying to rattle the answers out. Only Gilamar, Walon, and Jaing know, who might have let it slip. Gilamar is actually very unlikely and, well. So is Walon. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t want to pry so badly that they have to initiate the conversations. So that leaves Jaing.
“Atin,” Sev says smugly.
She stares at him. “What? How does Atin know?”
“Darman was moping because you haven’t been available,” Boss says, coming around to squat like a delinquent next to her. “Fixer, no going through the files.”
“So, you fuck, Atin fucks,” Boss lists off. “Anyone else want to come clean here.”
No one says anything, but Sev’s Force signature goes curiously blank.
“Sevvvv,” she drawls.
“I’m getting off you, I’m getting off you,” he says, untangling himself from Scorch to hop up.
“Uh huh,” she grunts. “Help me up.”
Etain goes with Delta to meet Omega Squad for dinner. Later, she’ll drag Darman off to tell him about the baby, but for now she’s sitting between he and Boss, watching Sev and Fi argue with narrowed eyes.
“They’re always like this,” she says slowly. “Have they always been like this?”
“Yup,” Darman says.
“Yes,” Boss agrees.
“Hey, Etain, try this,” Scorch says, leaning over with a forkful of something that’s moving.
She takes the fork and swallows it without looking further. It tastes of salt and iodine. After she’s handed Scorch his fork back, she turns to Darman and finds him watching her with stars in his eyes.
“You’re amazing,” he says.
She snorts. “How were we ever subtle?” she asks the table.
“I don’t know,” Fixer offers without looking up from his datapad. “Looking back it’s pretty obvious, but, like. I don’t know, you are pretty amazing. What did you do this time?”
“Ate a forkful of Pain Octopus in one gulp,” Scorch offers cheerfully.
“Shebs,” she accuses him.
He beams at her.
Leaning against Darman, she makes her way through her own plate, shooting Sev and Fi’s continued argument distrustful looks the whole time. They’re always like this. Always. And they’ve always been like this. But there’s something there, she swears it. Actually, she decides, she’d put credits on it.
But first, she’ll get Jaing to help her track down what’s going on.
“Soooo,” Etain draws out, dropping onto Darman’s bed. For now, they’re alone in the hotel room, though there’s another bed. Either Atin or Niner she thinks.
“What’s up?” Darman asks. “You’ve been kind of...distant. Is it something I did?”
“No!” she assures him. “Well, yes. It’s something...both of us did.”
He frowns. “What do you mean?”
“We...weren’t as careful as we should have been, a few months ago. I’m pregnant.”
He freezes for a moment. “I...what? We’re so kriffing young, Etain!”
“Yeah, it means fertility levels are higher,” she drawls.
He reels back, hurt on his face. “Wait, a few months ago? Why are you just telling me now?”
She kicks him in the shin. “Because I didn’t find out until three weeks ago! I only found out because I got dizzy when we were coming up from something and Gilamar checked me over. He couldn’t find anything and I wasn’t going to lie about being sexually active so he ran some tests. No STIs, just a pregnancy. Too late in term. I’m not exactly happy about it either!”
He winces. “Aren’t there, like, signs?”
“Yeah, but my cycle’s been insane since the war started anyways,” she huffs. “And I’m not throwing up everywhere or anything else.”
They’re both quiet for a long moment.
“So,” Darman says, steeling himself, “What do you want to do?”
She shrugs. “I mean. The baby is probably going to be Force sensitive. They could be a Jedi, one day. You’d have more time before you ended up with a kid that was yours and we’d still both get to see them. They’d know who we were and that we knew they’d be safe and well taken care of with the Jedi, and part of the same extended family that way.”
“Mandalorians have their own Force traditions,” Darman points out. “Gilamar knows about some of them for...I don’t know, exactly. He wasn’t born Mandalorian and he’s not Force sensitive. And he doesn’t know everything, but he says little things sometimes, comparing the Jedi and them. Maybe his adopted buir or someone he was close to was one.”
“I’ll ask him about it,” they promise. “Even if the baby is a Jedi, there’s been a Mandalorian Jedi before. They could easily learn from both traditions, especially if the rumours floating around the Temple about more solid outreach with Mandalore thanks to the clones end up being true.”
“That would be neat,” he admits. “Uh...does Kal’buir know?”
She shrugs. “Not unless he somehow suspected and managed to drag it out of Walon.”
“You told Vau?” Darman asks, aghast.
“Yeah, of course I did,” she says, surprised. “I trust him and his judgement.”
He slumps. “Well, I guess. Ugh, well. I guess I have to tell Kal’buir.”
She winces. “Maybe...we should wait until after we’ve decided.”
He nods furiously. “Yeah, that sounds good.”
Now to tell their vode.
“I need your help,” Etain tells Jaing once she’s got him trapped by the chance at smudging the blue and red nail polish she’s just coated his nails with.
He gives her a baleful look. “I should have known. This is exactly how you got me to start working with you to break Vau and Kal’buir up.”
“Excuse you, I had a compelling argument.”
“Yeah but you had to get me to sit and listen,” he points out. “Please tell me we’re not playing another long game?”
“No,” she says confidently. “It shouldn’t be as hard. You know Sev?”
“Your vod’ika,” he agrees, nodding sagely.
She doesn’t correct him, though she gives him a mulish look. “And you know Fi.”
“...my vod’ika. What’s this about?”
“Are they together?” she asks him.
He opens his mouth, then pauses and shuts it again. “Osik.”
“Right?!” she says.
“Kark.” He goes to rub his face only to scowl at his polished nails. “I can’t say they’re not! Wow, I would have thought it would have been obvious, but it isn’t! I hate that!”
“I feel much the same,” she agrees serenely. “So we need to figure it out.”
He glares at her. “You want me to spy on them.”
“Damnit, I better get some good blackmail out of this Et’ika,” he menaces, shaking his hand at her. The effect is ruined with the fingers all sticking straight out.
“So, Gilamar,” Etain says when she knows he’s got some free time.
He looks up at her over the datapad he’s messing with. “Oh no.”
“I just have a question!” she flails.
He sighs, put upon, which is rude. She’s one of his best regulars. “Okay.”
“Darman said you knew stuff about Mando Force traditions?”
His eyes twinkle a moment. Honest to Force twinkle. “Ah, I’ve picked up some stuff over the last few years. Jango was Force sensitive.”
“Seriously? She asks, gaping. “Fett was Force sensitive. Shouldn’t there be more Force sensitive clones, then?”
He shrugs. “Edits to the genome dropped the odds, maybe, because they match the main ones for the galaxy at large. Not even just Mandalore sector. Though, that’s probably good. Parts of Mandalore sector have higher rates, but Mandalore itself has lower ones.”
“Why?” she asks.
He grins. “Converts.”
Understanding dawns. “A bunch of low sensitivity people all moving there and producing lower sensitivity kids more often.”
“Wait, so you picked up stuff about the Force traditions from Fett?” she asks, a bit disappointed. She was hoping she might have someone to contact.
“Some of it from Jango, yes,” he says, scooting back in his rolling chair and grabbing a commlink from the desk behind him. “Some from a different Fett.”
She watches as he scrolls through settings to the favourite contacts. Above the few of the Cuy’Val Dar who are working with him as contractors, there are two names. The top one they have to make out backwards and upside down. Fett is easily recognizable, as it the ridiculous flower emoticon, but that’s all she gets before he’s putting through the connection.
It clicks on. “Cyare?” he asks, “Do you have a few minutes?”
“For you?” a smooth voice not unlike the clones, but a bit higher pitched, says, “I have all the time in the galaxy.”
Etain files the fact that Gilamar has a girlfriend away for later.
“I’ve got a Jetii with questions,” he says, then quickly adds, “One of Kal’s ade knocked her up.”
“...Ooooooh okay. Introductions, Mij, chop-chop.”
He laughs, obviously delighted, and that sparkle is back. Wait, is this the Fett she’s seen him making dreamy eyes at? Wow she messed up genders. “Can I switch you to holo?”
“Let me find clothes, one second. You got me while I was getting out of the shower.” There’s rustling, then after a few moments the holo clicks on. The miniature shows off a young person, perhaps her age or a bit older, with hair in a long braid and wearing a sweater dress.
Etain glances over to Gilamar and tries to transmit that she thinks his girlfriend is hot.
He coughs into his hand. “Right. Spar, this is Jedi Knight Etain Tur-Mukan. She prefers Etain, she/her pronouns. Etain, this is Parja Fett, they prefer Spar, any pronouns but a preference for they/them.”
Spar shrugs. “It is easier to keep track of with Basic,” they say, a note of complaint in their voice. Still, they’re smiling. “Always nice to meet a Jedi.”
For some reason, that makes Gilamar wince.
“Uh, yeah, it’s nice to meet you too,” Etain says. “So, it’s very likely that the baby is going to be Force sensitive.”
“Makes sense,” Spar agrees.
“And, well, Darman and I know that we want them to know about that part of their heritage even if they’re a Jedi. So I was wondering what you could tell me.”
Spar whistles. “Well, I mean. It’s similar.” They sound begrudging when they say that. “We’re another martial oriented Force tradition, though we’re more martial. The focus is often on building bridges within our own communities and channeling the Force into our fighting. Battlefield meditation, I’ve heard, is actually hard for you Jedi.” They laugh. “Less focus on skills and talents like psychometry, which can be an issue.”
“How are the children raised?” she asks.
They dimple. “The children will often live with their family and either be tutored by neighbours if they have them or they’ll go live primarily with their teacher when it’s not a holiday. There’s often at least one of us in every community, though. Keldabe is different.” They grimace. “I’ve been offered a live in position a couple of times. I’d rather not.”
“It’s safe for them to stay with the families?” Etain asks. It’s often a situation where it’s much safer to send them away, with the Jedi. For the child and the family. She was one such case.
“Mmhm. Not only are they very well protected, because, well. Mandos. But they also have less a chance of hurting the adults around them thanks to the beskar. Houses are even beamed with the stuff, though it doesn’t get rid of all the risks. There are merits and drawbacks to both, bur’cya. Even if they stayed with the Jedi but occasionally studied with one of us, it would be the same. I’ll write up a list, Mij will get it to you.”
The man in question nods.
“I’m, uh. I’m not sure where the baby would live, I guess, especially if we put off making our choice until the usual Jedi acceptance,” she says. “So I’m not sure who their teacher would be if they stayed.”
Mij crosses his arms and tips his head to the hologram, who laughs.
“The baby is part clone,” Spar tells them, “I would be their teacher. And I’d take care of them if you weren’t sure where they should go in the interim. It’s better if they have someone who understands from the earliest time, I think.”
“Yeah,” Etain agrees. “Yeah, thank you.”
“Mij will give you my commcode,” Spar says. “Now I think it’s about time to go our separate ways.”
“Thank you!” Etain says again, bowing to the hologram.
Spar dimples again and signs off.
“Soooo,” Jaing says, sliding into Zey’s office, shutting the door, and tossing down a jammer.
Etain purses her lips and looks at him, then at Zey.
Zey looks back with a raised eyebrow. “Should I be here for this?” he asks lightly.
“Yes,” Jaing despairs. “So, Et’ika. I was looking into the thing you asked me about—.”
“Are you sure?” Zey asks.
“—and I didn’t find anything yet. Like. Something happened with my systems or something? I don’t know but, uh. So, the chancellor is committing treason.”
The office is quiet for a moment.
“I’m sorry,” Zey says, “Could you repeat that?”
“The chancellor is committing treason,” Jaing repeats. “He’s funneling Republic credits to the Separatists. And is in regular contact with Dooku.”
“Okay,” Etain says, nodding. “That...is not at all what I asked you to find out, you’re right. And you’re also right that what you did find out is arguably more important. Shit, Jaing, really?”
“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, I already collected the evidence and gave it to the internal affairs with a pointed statement about multiple copies and a deadman switch to send to all of the major news outlets.”
“Do you actually have one of those?” Zey asks.
“Not yet,” Jaing says cheerfully. “It’s on my to do list. Along with getting the fuck off this planet.”
Zey nods sagely. “Etain will go with you as protection.”
Etain gives him a wide eyed are you sure about that? look.
He gives her a placid yes I am one back. “You’re about to go on maternity leave,” he points out. “Best to get out with Jaing now, meet up with some people you trust to take care of you during, and take it as a vacation. Otherwise the healers will poke at you for ages. And you’ll come bother me for intel while you’re bored.”
That’s...true. Fucker. “Fine.”
“Fantastic!” Zey cheers. “Have fun, kids, don’t take down any more corrupt governments!”
Jaing takes the jammer and they both set off feeling a bit like scolded younglings. How does Zey do that? How does he do it! She needs to learn that trick.
Mird meets them at the door to the house.
“Hellooooo Mird,” Etain says, dropping down to her knees to give the strill some affection. “Mird Mird Mird, good Mird, good Mird!” She scrunches the leathery skin on its face forward in back. “Who’s a good Mird? You are! You are!”
The strill licks her broadly across the face and she wrinkles her nose, but lets it be.
“Is bu here? Huh?” she asks, squishing its ears. “Go get ‘im!”
Mird takes off back into the house and Jaing snickers.
“Kal’buir is not going to be happy the house smells like strill,” he says, with the tone of a man who isn’t going to do shit to stop that and will, in fact, be letting Mird into all sorts of places it otherwise could not get in.
“He can shove it,” Etain says cheerfully. “Who’s home?” she calls into the house.
Walon whistles back from the kitchen, Mird trotting in place by the door. “Delta will be arriving in an hour,” he calls back after a moment. “Omega, Skirata, and Ordo are all held up for another day, though.”
“Nice.” She steps into the kitchen and sniffs. “What are you making?”
“Soup buns. Adjustment of a recipe from some friends on Coruscant.”
Etain hops on her toes. “Yes!” She watches him carefully folding the dough around one bit of filling. “Can I help?”
He sighs. “Wash your hands.”
She does a little fist bump and does so. About half a bun in, Jaing calls that he’s taking Mird for a run, and Walon calls back his assent.
“So I’ve been talking to Gilamar’s themfriend about Mando force traditions and what we should do with the baby,” she says after a bit.
“Themfriend? Gilamar is seeing someone?” Walon asks, amused. “Ah, no, he has no reason to tell us and plenty of reason to not. Themfriend.”
“They’re nice! I like them,” Etain says, “I think they took a bit to warm up to me, but.” She shrugs.
“Don’t tell Kal.”
“Not until they’ve showed up to cause chaos, I won’t.”
“They’re going to help with the baby,” Etain explains. “And Darman and I have already agreed that they’re going to take care of said baby when we both go back out, until we decide if they’re going to be a Jedi or what.”
“More time to think about everything.”
“Yup. The Jedi usually accept children from age eighteen months to age three. It’s easier for them to adjust but it gives the parents long enough to decide if they really want their children to be Jedi, if they can raise a Force sensitive child safely within their home and their community. Those kinds of things. I...I was a special case, you know?”
Walon stops folding dough. “What do you mean?”
“My parents ah... They didn’t want me. They didn’t want me before they knew I was Force sensitive, but they hated me by the time I went to the Jedi. Because the government said if they gave me up I would have to be given to the Jedi or a specific family that would take care of me, which means they had to wait. I wasn’t in danger with them, I was just...hated. When the Jedi finally got me they were horrified. I’ve had a lot of therapy about it over the years.”
Gently, he knocks his arm against hers. “The Jedi are your clan. And so are we.”
“Yeah,” she breaths. “Yeah, that’s right. And I never want my kid to feel like that isn’t the case, even if they don’t become a Jedi.”
The moment is broken when Delta Squad bangs in, making a racket.
Sev pokes his head into the kitchen. “Can we nap?” he asks.
Walon sighs one of his most put-upon sighs, but Etain can feel his happiness on being asked. “Alright.”
Everything is put in the conservator for later and they all end up with blankets in the karyai, a foot of space between all of them, dozing until Jaing and Mird return.
“I’m taking a picture,” Jaing tells them as Mird comes around to check on every one of them.
“Why?” Scorch asks, pulling his blanket over his head.
“Because Atin is going to be so mad you did this without him.”
Etain uses the Force to toss a pillow from one of the couches at him.
“Atin!” Etain greets first, arms wide open so he can scoop her up and be hugged. “We missed you.”
“Assholes,” Atin grumbles.
Etain pats his shoulder considerately. “We’ll do it again soon.”
He sets her down and Darman gloms onto her next, laughing.
“How are you feeling?” he asks. “How’s the baby?”
There’s a sudden, tense silence behind them.
“Baby?” Kal asks distantly.
Out of the corner of her eye, Etain watches Walon choke.
“Yup,” Etain says, staring him straight in the eye. “Darman and I fucked up and now there’s going to be a new life in the galaxy.”
Kal purses his lips. “You should have told me sooner,” he says, and he’s fucking furious. Haha, yikes.
Etain shrugs. “I told everyone who mattered to me, and Darman agreed that we’d figure out what the baby’s first few months were going to be like first. I mean, do I take them back to the Temple? Do they stay here? You know, all those—.”
“Staying here, obviously,” Kal says.
Walon is looking to the ceiling for patience.
Etain is not. “Actually, Fett is going to take them for a while! Until we make our decision on whether or not the baby will be a Jedi or not.”
“Fett?” both Kal and Walon ask, in completely different tones of voice. Kal, confused. Walon, delighted.
Gilamar is going to kill her.
“Yeah. Fett. Parja Fett, goes by Spar, lives in Keldabe, hot as shit,” Etain says.
Darman, who went to talk with Spar the last time he was on Mandalore, nods his agreement while trying not to laugh at his father’s confusion.
“They agreed to act as a kind of foster parent while we’re otherwise disposed,” Etain finishes.
“...and why did you make that decision?” Kal asks.
“Because the baby is Force sensitive and if they’re not going to have me there with them, they might as well have someone who can form that two-way dialogue with them, since we have the opportunity.” Etain beams. “And really, we’ve become friends and I very much trust my baby with them.”
Kal stares, slack jawed. “Oh. Well. Alright then. I—.”
“The only approval I need is my own, Kal, but thank you for validating my choices,” she can’t help but say.
Jaing is grinning from ear to ear, enthralled. He shoots her a thumbs up and then, when she walks away from Kal to go out to the porch with Mird, he joins her. “That,” he tells her quietly, “Was fucking beautiful. But if he sees any chance to get in your way he’s gonna take it.”
“I don’t think I particularly care anymore,” she admits. “We’re at war, and the Republic’s corruption is funding it on both sides, and this is my body, my baby, and my family. Speaking of. How’s...”
“...Do you think you could suggest to him to stay with Spar, Gilamar, and the baby?”
“Fuck, maybe. I can see Spar having none of Kal’s bullshit.”
“No wonder you like them.”
“It’s a low bar, vod.”
Spar swans in and co-opts the karyai before Kal can even process that they’re here or who they are. “Do you have bangcorn?” they ask Etain.
Etain snickers. “Oh this should be good. Walon!”
“It’s fine. Darman, come get your girlfriend her bangcorn.”
Darman, long-suffering, moves from rubbing her ankles to the kitchen, then returning minutes later with a few bags and distributing them. Etain gets a full bag, but graciously allows him some.
“I set it to tape as soon as I saw what it was about.” Spar clicks open the holodisk they brought.
Walon peeks in from the kitchen, along with Laseema.
“This is Keldabe Municipal and you’re watching the Galactic News segment. Today, on Coruscant, Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, former Senator of Naboo and the Chommell Sector, was arrested upon his entry to the Senate Dome. The charge? Treason. Evidence was delivered to top officials within the Senate that Palpatine had been funnelling Republic resources to the Separatist side of their current civil war. Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo and the Chommell Sector, one of Palpatine’s replacements and his protege when she was queen of their shared home planet, was already part of his opposition as he collected more and more emergency powers, but now she is fulling decrying him and calling for the same from here colleagues.
“Most notably, a number of senators who had publicly supported Palpatine recently are recanting and reversing their decisions. The interim Chancellor elected, Bail Organa, another opposition member, is hearing their calls for recall votes, but has yet to agree since that would replace their current publicly available voting records. Instead, he’s asked that all legislation be sent in for new sessions. Starting, he has decided, with the defeated vote on rights and pay for the clone troopers currently fighting for the Republic. A number of top naval officials have announced their support for this, after remaining silent under Palpatine.
“It’s a dramatic turn of events, and we’ll be keeping our eyes on it. In other news, the Confederacy of Independent Systems is having their own political reaction to this revelation...”
“Holy shit,” Ordo says from where he’s been sulking all day. “Seriously? He was seriously giving funds to the Seppies.”
“I know!” Jaing says, throwing his arms up. “Hey did that footage include Jedi arresting him?”
Spar winds it back a ways. “Yeah, looks like.”
“I wonder what they found that made that necessary,” Etain says. “I mean, they got the initial evidence three months ago.”
There’s a moment of quiet.
“What?” Kal asks. “How do you know that?”
“I found it,” Jaing explains. “I was looking for something else.”
“That you still haven’t gotten evidence either way for.”
“I’m trying, Et’ika!”
Spar laughs at them. Perhaps it’s time to bring another person in. Someone without strict personal connections of brotherhood to those involved.
The baby comes in the middle of the night, a few weeks after Palpatine is arrested.
Jaing is having her maul his hand; Darman is taking her angry insistences that he is never getting anywhere near sex with her again gracefully; Walon is gratefully on Kal distracting duty even if later Etain will probably have to be disappointed with herself for making that decision; Boss, Fixer, Scorch, Sev, and Atin are sitting outside the door and probably making decisions about how babies correspond with their future; Mird is nesting under the bed; and Laseema and Spar are helping her OBGYN with the delivery.
And Etain is thanking the Force for epidural.
But in the end, there’s an absolutely perfect, squirmy little sentient in her arms. “Oh,” she says, and it was worth it, she thinks. She made this, with her body. This perfect child.
The baby twists their face up.
“Hi,” she murmurs, stroking a finger down their face. There’s a movement in the Force, them reaching out to her. “Hi, yeah, I’m your Mama. You’ve got a whole big family and we’ve been waiting to meet you.”
“Do you have a name picked out?” her doctor asks, though the older woman seems to not be going for the documentation right away.
“Yeah!” Etain says cheerfully. She’s exhausted, but not too exhausted to do this.
“Oh, you haven’t even told me,” Darman says, smiling as he watches them. “Gosh, they’re cute, aren’t they?”
“Their name is Jaini,” Etain says.
Jaing reels back. “You were serious,” he says. “About naming them after me.”
“Of course I was. You’re my best friend,” she tells him. Then, to Jaini, “Welcome to the family little one. Jaini Tur-Mukan. I guess we should introduce you to everyone, huh?”
“Ba’buire last,” Spar says drolly.
“Ba’buire last,” everyone agrees.
Delta Squad and Atin come in first, filing out as they’re replaced with the Niner and Fi and Corr.
As the other Nulls that are in attendance come inside the room to coo and be freaked out about her naming a baby after Jaing—“What kind of kid is that gonna be, Et’ika?” Mereel had asked, aghast—she notices Spar stopping Sev and Fi in the doorway.
“So are you two together?” they ask smoothly.
“What? Yes,” Fi says.
At the same time, Sev says, “What? No.”
The two exchange looks, unaware they’re now the center of attention. “Wait, what did you just say?” they both ask at the same time.
“So we still don’t know,” Etain mutters to Jaing.
“Nope,” he despairs.
Darman sighs and goes to break up the inevitably ensuing fight.
Walon pops in now, Spar menacing Kal outside the door. “Feeling alright?” he asks her seriously, knocking two knuckles against her forehead.
“Yeah.” She boosts Jaini, who is now taking everything in with wide eyes, up to look at him. “Jaini, this is your Ba’Buir Walon.”
Walon flusters. “Etain.”
“Better than Kal being it,” she points out, “Or my birth parents.”
He scowls at the reminder. “I’m not...”
She shrugs. “Too bad. You said we were family.”
He softens. “Yeah, I did. Hello Jaini. Funny, how Jango’s name lives on through a Jetii’ikaad.”
“Jaing was named after Jango?” she asks, though she guess that makes sense.
“Kal had ideas about things.” He shrugs. “Jango hated it. He’d hate this even more.” He looks up at her, a twinkle in his eye. “That’s not a bad thing.”
“It’s Jaini’s name, now,” she says decisively.
“It is. Any more idea of what you’re going to do?”
She shakes her head. “Not yet. It’s...it’s going to be a whole new galaxy by the time they’re old enough to join the Order. And for now, I can take pictures back and do holocalls with them and Spar. It’ll be enough for me. And you’re staying here, right?”
“Right. Just as well, I don’t think Mird would leave them.” He ruffles her hair. “You’ve grown up good, ad’ika.”
She smiles. “Thanks.”