Chapter 1: First Kiss
Getting out of their cave might have solved the problem of the transponder not getting through but it was so much colder now that they were exposed to the full force of the lunar winds. Hunched up as much as possible, they both knew how lucky they were to find the abandoned building in the midst of the blowing snow and ice. It wasn't much of a shelter but at least they had some protection from the cold.
Crouched beside the glowing, warm thing, Zeb glanced at Kallus when he went quiet, just making sure that he hadn't passed out from the cold or his injuries. Any other Imp and Zeb wouldn't have hesitated to abandon them to the cold but he couldn't do that to Agent Kallus. He'd never admit it but Zeb felt a certain connection with the fair-haired human, a connection that he would never mention to a soul. He'd never hear the end of it if anyone ever knew that he had feelings for the ISB agent.
Hunching up as much as he could, given his injuries, Kallus wriggled a little closer to their glowing stone and lifted his gaze slowly when he felt Zeb's eyes on him. He wasn't sure what was worse, the constant pain from his broken leg or the icy winds whipping into their meagre shelter. Meeting Zeb's gaze, he smiled weakly and curled up a little more, trying to conserve what little body heat he still had.
Moving closer to Kallus, Zeb knew he was taking a risk but he couldn't sit back and do nothing while the human froze. Admittedly, he wasn't handling the cold either but he at least had some extra body mass to give him some minor protection.
'What are you doing?' Kallus asked, lifting his head a little.
'Tryin' to make sure we don't freeze.' Zeb replied, handing the glowing stone to Kallus. 'Hold that nice and close.'
'Are you sure about this?' Kallus questioned, clutching the stone to his chest.
'Nope but I don't have a better idea.' Zeb shrugged, moving even closer.
Flinching when he felt Zeb pressing up against his back, Kallus wasn't sure what to make of this idea but he wasn't about to argue about personal space now that his back was starting to warm up a little. Leaning back a little, Kallus couldn't even find the energy to argue when Zeb stretched out one leg alongside his injured leg and curled the other to match his position again. But then Zeb really shocked him, wrapping both arms around his torso and getting in as close as possible. For a moment Kallus considered resisting the intimate embrace but he actually found the hold quite pleasant and settled back into Zeb a little more.
Smiling softly as Kallus settled back against him, Zeb let him get comfortable and lightly rested his chin on Kallus' head. Zeb knew this was likely to be the closest he would ever get to Kallus and fully intended to make the most of it.
'This is most unexpected.' Kallus remarked, adjusting the stone so they both felt the warmth.
'I'll move if ya prefer.' Zeb offered, relaxing his grip a little.
'No, this is quite…agreeable.' Kallus replied, curling one hand over Zeb's right wrist.
'Yeah, gotta agree with that.' Zeb agreed, using his left hand to gently rub some warmth back into Kallus' right arm. 'Didn't think I could get this close.'
'If anyone else had crashed with us, I would not allow this.' Kallus admitted, squeezing Zeb's wrist lightly. 'I hope there will be more chances like this. Preferably without the icy winds.'
'We can manage that, I'm sure.' Zeb smiled, careful with his strength as he held Kallus close.
'How long?' Kallus asked, relaxed and a little dozy now that he felt warm and safe.
'Started a few months after our first meeting on Lothal.' Zeb shrugged, shifting his position a little. 'You?'
'About the same time.' Kallus offered, moving his head so he could actually look up at Zeb.
Turning a little in Zeb's comfortable embrace, Kallus tugged off his left glove and reached up to run his fingers through one purple sideburn, admiring how soft it felt against his skin. Trying to ignore the chill wind biting at his hand, Kallus sighed softly and burrowed closer to Zeb, cherishing this moment and hoping for a repeat in a better location.
'We'll get another chance.' Zeb promised, turning his head and pressing a kiss to his palm.
'I believe you.' Kallus nodded, resisting the urge to simply fall asleep in Zeb's arms. 'I just worry for the future. Neither side will leave us in peace.'
'Now ain't the time to worry about that.' Zeb soothed, gently cradling Kallus' head in one large hand. 'Let's just enjoy what we got.'
They had so many reasons not to get involved, lifetimes of regret and suffering and endless reasons why they should hate each other but in that moment, all of that faded away into insignificance. Empire and Rebellion, the fall of Lasan, their previous battles, none of it mattered as they clung to each other in the cold and dark. Zeb knew his friends would never understand and Kallus was all too aware of the Imperial mandates against human/alien relationships but neither cared in that moment.
Even the cold ceased to matter as they shared a soft, almost chaste kiss. Fingers running over hair and skin alike as they pressed closer, the glowing stone forgotten beside them. They didn't need it right in that moment, shaking hands drawing warm lines over each other, kneading and squeezing against sleek muscles and fine hair.
Zeb carefully lifted Kallus, adjusting the angle for comfort and cradling him in his lap as he traced his claws over Kallus' back and wondered what he looked like under his uniform. Zeb just hoped that one day he would get to find out, preferably somewhere with a comfortable place to stretch out and fully appreciate each other. Kissing a human was so much different to kissing his own kind but Zeb liked the difference.
Kallus took full advantage of the position change, curling both arms around Zeb's neck loosely and going in for another kiss. Feeling bolder as he slipped one finger beneath Zeb's collar, Kallus licked at his lip and groaned softly as their kiss deepened. He could gladly sit here all night, getting to know Zeb in a far more intimate manner than just deep kisses and the strange sensation of Zeb's rough tongue.
Drawing away reluctantly, Kallus cuddled in against Zeb's chest and yawned, eyes drooping closed slowly. It had been a long day and he was exhausted, the stress of the crash and his subsequent injuries adding to his weariness. At the same time, he didn't want this perfect moment to end, he was actually happy for the first time in a long time and he didn't want to lose this feeling of safety and comfort.
'Get some rest, Kallus. I'll stay right here.' Zeb uttered, stroking his hair lightly.
'Fenril, my name is Fenril.' Kallus replied, pulling his glove back on and getting comfortable.
'Sleep Fenril, I'll keep you safe.' Zeb nodded, grabbing their heater and setting it in Kallus' lap.
'Thank you.' Kallus whispered, resting his head over Zeb's heart and surrendering to sleep.
Watching Fenril sleeping so peacefully, Zeb held him close and relaxed, still listening for any sign of a rescue even as his head drooped forward. Adjusting the way Fenril snuggled against him; Zeb rested his chin on his head and closed his eyes. It wasn't the most comfortable position for sleeping but Zeb had no intention of letting go of Fenril for any reason. He had no way of knowing when they might have another uninterrupted moment together so he was going to make the absolute most of this moment.
Not quite sure what had woken him, Fenril groaned softly and snuggled closer to Zeb, not ready for this wonderful moment to end. Logically he knew it would end but he intended to hold on for as long as possible. Shifting a little to get some feeling back into his legs, he wrapped one arm around Zeb's neck and stretched up to press a quick kiss to his jaw. He didn't expect to be held tighter and given a proper kiss but he wasn't about to complain and settled in for a much desired make out session.
Of all the lousy timing, just as they were really getting into the simple pleasure of kissing each other senseless, they picked up the sound of an approaching ship. Their time together was at an end but they still had no idea who had found them first. Still cradling Fenril to his chest, Zeb scrambled up and gently set Fenril back on his feet, supporting him close as they emerged from their pitiful shelter.
'Ah, your friends did find you.' Fenril sighed, looking up at Zeb for a moment.
'Like I said they would.' Zeb nodded, tucking Fenril in closer. 'You know, we will treat you fairly.'
'I'll take my chances with the Empire, Zeb.' Fenril sighed, reluctantly letting go and moving back to lean against the wall of their shelter.
Touched by the easy use of his chosen nickname, Zeb offered the traditional warrior's greeting of his people and smiled softly as Fenril returned it with a look of wonder in his eyes. Reaching out, Zeb handed over a single data chip pulled from beneath his belt and nodded as Fenril took it and tucked it out of sight.
'If you ever change your mind, give me a call.' Zeb explained, stepping closer and cupping one cheek lightly. 'Of course, I'm all for another chance to be alone with you.'
'I will.' Fenril smiled, leaning in for one last sweet kiss. 'We will get another chance; I'll make sure of that, Zeb.'
'I look forward to it.' Zeb nodded, stealing another soft kiss before turning and hurrying towards the Ghost before his friends came looking for him.
Reassuring his friends that he was okay and making it clear that he wasn't upset that it had taken them so long to find him; Zeb couldn't help but let his focus drift back to that squat little building where Fenril was hiding. It would be so easy to go back to him but Zeb knew now wasn't the right time to bring his feelings out. He needed to be patient and see what came out of this before making any crazy decisions. Not really surprised when Ezra started complaining about the cold, Zeb rolled his eyes and followed his family up the ramp but not without one last look back over his shoulder.
'Be safe Fenril. We'll meet again soon.' Zeb whispered, turning away from the closed ramp and heading for his room. 'Gonna get some sleep.'
Making it back to his quarters, Kallus sunk down onto his standard cot and set the still glowing rock on the shelf beside his cot, right where it would always serve as a reminder of that one night on the moon of Geonosis. Clasping his hands, he hung his head and tried not to think about Zeb and what he'd witnessed on that moon. The rebels had greeted Zeb with such joy and relief, but he'd gotten nothing but the usual cold shoulders and minimal conversation. The most he'd spoken to anyone was some faceless trooper who had offered to take his Bo-rifle back to his quarters while the medics were patching him up.
Shuffling over on his cot, he opened his footlocker and nodded slowly at the sight of his rifle clipped securely to the lid where it belonged. Leaning the lid up against the crate, Kallus worked out of his armour and tucked it away before pulling off his boots and tunic. Putting everything away neatly and replacing the lid, he settled back on his cot and sighed heavily. They hadn't even been apart for a standard day and already Kallus missed Zeb fiercely.
Even now he regretted his choice to return to the Empire, having once again been reminded about the poor level of care shown to many Imperial troops. Instead of bacta and bed rest, he got nothing more than a bone knitter and some weak painkillers before being sent back to duty. The painkillers had already worn off and it would be days before the bone knitters fully healed his femur. It could even be longer, depending on how much work the Admiral had for him.
Rolling over and reaching up to grab the glowing rock, Kallus cradled it to his chest and tried to ignore his silent tears. Foolish pride had stopped him from taking a chance on the Rebellion and now he was left alone again. He'd had the chance to be happy and he'd let it slip through his fingers foolishly.
'I will find you again Zeb.' he breathed, curling up around the warm stone. 'Next time, I won't leave you.'
Chapter 2: Smut Ahead!
If anyone has an idea for the ship name of this lovely pairing, please let me know. I'm drawing a blank on what to call them.
Purring softly as Fenril stretched out on top of him, Zeb wrapped one arm around his back and enjoyed the chance to just hold onto him and relax in safety. Careful not to damage skin or the light tunic he was wearing, Zeb was perfect content to trace idle patterns over his back.
'I missed you.' Fenril sighed, idly tracing the patterns on Zeb's skin. 'The waiting was torture.'
'I know, I missed you too.' Zeb nodded, squeezing Kallus tight for a moment. 'I'm glad you're safe and healed up.'
'Mostly healed. I still limp sometimes.' Fenril admitted, stretching up for another kiss. 'I never should have let you go.'
'The offer is still there. I won't let anything happen.' Zeb promised, nuzzling his love happily.
'I believe you Zeb.' Fenril smiled, wriggling out of Zeb's hold and sitting up.
Tugging off his tunic and tossing it into the jumbled mix of armour and clothes on the floor, Fenril looked down at Zeb and reached out to trace the dark purple marks along his ribs. He still couldn't believe that this magnificent male was his to enjoy whenever they could get away from everything else.
'Ya thinking too much.' Zeb grumbled, grabbing Kallus gently and flipping them onto their sides.
'Then you'd best make me forget everything else.' Fenril chuckled, arching into Zeb's exploring hands with a happy groan.
'I will.' Zeb promised, leaning in for another kiss. 'Might even make ya forget ya name.'
'Now that would be fun.' Fenril agreed, continuing to run his hands over Zeb's thick skin.
Thankful that he'd already shed his combat suit, Zeb pulled Fenril closer and nipped at his shoulder softly, always aware of how much thinner human skin was compared to a Lasat. Using just the faintest hint of pressure, he left a series of red marks along one shoulder and down onto his chest but it didn't look like any of them would bruise. Tumbling Fenril onto his back, Zeb continued his loving ministrations, lapping at one dark nipple lightly until it hardened against his tongue.
'So good.' Fenril groaned, fingers digging into Zeb's head. 'But…'
'We're still getting to know each other.' Zeb grinned, lifting his head a little. 'You can play with me after you've recovered from this.'
'Agreed.' Fenril nodded, back arching again. 'Your tongue…so good.'
'Gonna get better too.' Zeb chuckled, going back to tracing every ridge and curve of muscle with his broad tongue.
Crying out in pleasure as Zeb nipped just below his navel, Fenril clutched at Zeb's shoulders and arched his back. It felt so good to be touched by someone else, the fact it was someone he genuinely cared about just make it even better. That tongue, rough and yet soft continued to stroke over his abdomen slowly as powerful hands loosened his pants and started sliding them down slowly. Part of him was nervous about this, it had been so long and his last time hadn't exactly been pleasant but the larger part wanted to see just what Zeb would do with the offered trust and love.
Shuffling down a little more, Zeb lifted his head and watched Fenril writhing in pleasure, the sweetest sounds pouring from his mouth as he tried to get closer to him. Inhaling the delicious scent of his lover, Zeb nuzzled him tenderly, feeling every twitch and jerk of Fenril's erection against his cheek. Covering his teeth to avoid any injuries, Zeb licked him from base to tip and listened to the passionate howl before swallowing him to the root. Sucking lightly, Zeb used the very tip of one claw to brush through the coarse hair covering his balls. Judging by the sounds Fenril was making, he really liked that sort of touch.
Dropping one hand to clutch at the bedding as he scratched at Zeb's head roughly, Fenril couldn't stop the noises tumbling from his mouth. Oh Maker, he wasn't going to survive this. It had been too long and Zeb's tongue was still doing incredible things to his cock as his claws continued to send pleasurable sparks through him. Writhing in exquisite pleasure, he managed to get one leg over Zeb's shoulder and thrust up, desperate for more of everything Zeb could give him. Screaming his pleasure for the galaxy to hear, Fenril surrendered to the tension building in his groin and came harder than ever before.
Swallowing every drop and licking Fenril clean as he twitched with aftershocks, Zeb eased the leg off his shoulder and crawled up the bunk to gather Fenril to him tenderly. Settled on his side, Zeb ran his palm lightly over Fenril's sweaty back and purred happily at the blissful expression on his face. There was nothing better than thoroughly pleasuring a bed partner and by that look, Zeb had succeeded in completely pleasing Fenril.
'That was…' Fenril gasped, shaking his head slowly.
'Shh, I know.' Zeb grinned, getting comfortable and continuing to stroke Fenril's back. 'Get some rest, we've got all night.'
Finally coming back to his own head, Fenril smiled faintly as he snuggled closer and listened to Zeb's happy purring. It sounded so alien but Fenril absolutely adored the soft rumble of pure happiness against his head. He remembered falling asleep to the same soft noise on the moon and pressed a little closer. Eyes slipping closer, he relaxed into Zeb's strength and welcomed sleep, knowing that he was totally safe here with his love.
Stirring from his nap, Fenril shifted in Zeb's loosened embrace and lightly stroked over his markings lightly. Continuing to trace each darker stripe as he was guided into a deep kiss, Fenril held on as Zeb rolled onto his back and relaxed his grip a little. Sitting up, Fenril went right back to running his hands over Zeb's muscles, coming to terms with the impressive male beneath him. In that moment, he knew that he would never want for anything so long as he had Zeb by his side.
Watching Fenril exploring his markings and looking for any sensitive spots, Zeb couldn't help the playful growl that slipped out when he nipped a long scar on his lower abdomen. Tucking one arm under his head to make it easier to watch and reaching out to Fenril with the other, Zeb let him explore freely, showing him what felt good and giving him time to get used to the idea of having a Lasat for a lover. Zeb couldn't help the flare of nervousness in his gut, he had no idea how Fenril would react when he found out what was hidden inside Zeb's shorts.
Feeling the tension in Zeb as he stroked one strong thigh, Fenril looked up curiously as he ran both hands up slowly until his fingers glided under the soft white cloth. He jumped when Zeb grasped both forearms in one hand, not holding tight just stopping him from going further.
'What's wrong Zeb? I thought you wanted this…wanted me.' Fenril uttered, pulling his hands away quickly.
'I do, so bad it hurts. But what I got looks nothing like yours and I don't want to scare you.' Zeb admitted, reaching out to Fenril again.
'Zeb, you worry about the strangest things.' Fenril chuckled, clasping Zeb's hand in both of his and squeezing firmly. 'I love you just the way you are, alien features and all. It doesn't matter what you look like, I love you for what's in your heart.'
Humbled by the heartfelt words, Zeb tugged Fenril closer and sat up, holding him tenderly as he started purring again. Slightly higher in pitch, this wasn't his normal happy purr. This was his loving purr, usually only shared between family members. Words failed him in that moment, he just hoped that Fenril understood what he was trying to say.
'I love you.' Zeb finally managed, relaxing his grip slowly. 'You complete my soul.'
'You complete my soul.' Fenril repeated, leaning in to share a sweet kiss. 'No matter what, I love you and want to know everything about you.'
'In time we'll learn everything about each other.' Zeb nodded, settling back down and waiting for Fenril to get comfortable again.
Watching Zeb to make absolutely certain that he was still okay with this, Fenril slipped his hands under his sleep shorts and started to draw them down, his smile growing as Zeb lifted his hips to make it easier to slip them off. Only once the shorts had been tossed aside did Fenril let his gaze wander down Zeb's body and his jaw dropped as he saw exactly why Zeb has been nervous about this revelation.
Long and thick, the pair of pale purple cocks stood straight up, drawing his gaze towards a rather impressive set of darker purple balls. Each cock was covered in bumps and short tendrils, presumably for the enjoyment of anyone lucky enough to get intimate with these cocks.
'Double the fun?' Fenril grinned, wrapping his hands around both cocks.
'If you can handle it.' Zeb groaned, hips rolling slowly.
'Maybe not tonight but we'll see.' Fenril agreed, moving to knee between Zeb's thighs.
'No rush, don't wanna hurt you.' Zeb replied, spreading his legs a little more. 'You don't have to be so gentle.'
Still trying to come to terms with the idea of Zeb having twin dicks, Fenril tightened his grip a little more and felt a definite thrill when he got a deep groan of pleasure from his lover. Getting comfortable, he lowered his head and lapped at the right cock, moaning softly at the unique flavour of Zeb's arousal. Prodding at the various nodules and tendrils along the length and listening to Zeb's pleasured cries, he turned his attention to the left cock and gave it much the same treatment.
Pressing his hands into the mattress, Zeb tried to be hold on and let Fenril explore him but this was torture of the best kind. The grip was just perfect, callused hands pulling at him in a steady rhythm as Fenril lapped at the pleasure enhancers along the shafts. Rocking his hips slowly, Zeb howled in pleasure as Fenril wrapped his lips around the left head and gave a strong suck. He knew he should warn Fenril that this was going to get messy but he couldn't summon the words. All he could do was hold on as Fenril continued to switch between his cocks, driving him nearly insane with the pleasure. No one had ever showed this sort of dedication to his release before.
Glancing up at Zeb again, Fenril was captivated by the look of pure bliss on Zeb's face as he continued to work both cocks with his hands. Squeezing a little tighter, Fenril paid extra attention to the glistening heads and sped his hands as Zeb's cries got even louder. Ducking his head again, Fenril nipped at Zeb's thigh quickly, barely even leaving a red mark but he definitely noticed the hitch in Zeb's voice. Taking a chance, he moved his attention to Zeb's balls, nuzzling into the downy fur and lipping at them with a lot more force than he'd dare use on a human.
Curling one leg around Fenril, Zeb shuddered and bucked, head falling back as he came closer to the edge. It had been years since he'd felt the massive rush of a dual ejaculation, he'd taken to wanking one cock at a time to hide the fact he was built so differently. Managing to lift his head for a moment, he caught Fenril's gaze but before he could even try to warn him, Fenril gave him a sharp squeeze again and he was gone. Tearing the bedding and pulling Fenril closer, Zeb let out a roar as he came.
Bracing on his forearms so he didn't fall completely, Fenril continued to stroke both cocks as Zeb came, the soft pink cum splattering them both and even getting on the bedding. Gentling his touch a little more and working both cocks until there was nothing left, Fenril licked his hands clean and practically purred at the sweet flavour.
'C'mere you.' Zeb rumbled, panting for breath as he untangled his fingers from the ruined sheets.
'Was it good for you?' Fenril asked, stretching out over Zeb happily.
'The best. Been years since I had a double.' Zeb nodded, cuddling him close. 'Thank you.'
'Anytime.' Fenril grinned, getting comfortable and yawning. 'It's nice to sleep peacefully.'
'Sleep then, I'll keep you safe.' Zeb promised, fighting his exhaustion for the moment. 'I'll be here when you wake.'
'Love you.' Fenril muttered, snuggling in and closing his eyes.
'Love you too.' Zeb uttered, waiting until Fenril was properly asleep before drifting off.
'I want this Zeb.' Fenril insisted, settled comfortable in Zeb's lap as the early dawn glow entered their rented hideaway.
'I don't wanna hurt you, Fenril.' Zeb sighed, so tender with his human. 'I know that humans are easier to hurt than Lasats, I've seen it.'
'Humans aren't that fragile, Zeb. Just look at everything I've already survived.' Fenril sighed, leaning back in Zeb's arms. 'I want this, I want to know that I am yours in every way. We both know that we can't stay together yet, the timing is wrong but we can at least make some beautiful memories to keep us going until we can. We can't live in fear all the time, we deserve this.'
It really wasn't fair, Zeb had no chance against such honest and heartfelt words, as much as he knew this was a terrible idea. There was too much risk that he would cause Fenril serious harm but he was willing to try. He would just have to take it slow and careful to minimise the risks. Cradling Fenril to his chest, Zeb eased him down on his back and lightly ran his hands over that finely sculpted torso, using just a hint of claws to watch Fenril writhe in pleasure again.
'Promise me that you'll speak up if it hurts.' Zeb requested, continuing with the soft touches.
'I will, I promise.' Fenril nodded, spreading his legs a little more. 'You know what to do?'
'Some things are the same.' Zeb chuckled, shuffling down the bed and guiding one long leg over his shoulder. 'I'll take care of you.'
Groaning in pleasure as Zeb started lapping at his groin slowly, Fenril arched his back to get closer to that glorious tongue. Maker, Lasat tongues should be registered as dangerous weapons because Zeb's was certainly going to wreck him. Clutching as Zeb's head and letting out a deep moan, Fenril shuddered as Zeb gave his balls some highly dedicated attention. Gasping in time with each stroke, Fenril let out a howl as that rough tongue danced down his perineum and began a full assault on his ass. At this rate, he was going to blow his load before they even got to the actual sex.
Amazed by the passionate reactions he was getting just from this, Zeb slipped one hand under Fenril's back to support him and pushed his tongue past the quivering muscles. Pressing in deeper, Zeb savoured the feeling of twitching thighs against his shoulder and elbow as Fenril's cries hit a new pitch and he bucked up again. Careful with his claws, Zeb lapped and suckled at the sweet flesh, enticed by the flavour and determined to bring Fenril all the pleasure possible.
'Oh Maker…oh…Zeb…oh…yes…Zeb…more.' Fenril gasped, digging his fingers harder into Zeb's head. 'Yes…oh Maker…so good…please…more.'
Letting out a whine when Zeb pulled back, Fenril shivered in delight as Zeb cradled one hand in his own and poured a generous dose of oil onto his fingers. Taking a few moments to regain some sense, Fenril tucked his right leg up and reached down, slipping two fingers in and moaning loudly. Rolling his hips and crying out with each prod against his prostate, Fenril sunk in a third finger and looked up at Zeb with hazy eyes.
'Please…want you…need you.' he pleaded, reaching out to Zeb with his free hand.
'I'm here. I'm right here.' Zeb replied, crawling over him and lowering his head for a deep kiss.
Digging his fingers into the bed at the feeling of Fenril's slick hand curling around his right cock, Zeb hissed softly and shifted into a better position over his lover. Moaning deep as his slicked cock was guided to Fenril's waiting hole, Zeb rocked to the side to get his left cock into a more comfortable spot before starting to push inside slowly. Pushing up onto his elbows, Zeb watched for any signs of pain as he sunk in deeper.
Eyes rolling back as he was impaled so intimately, Fenril wrapped around his lover with a soft moan, holding tight and relishing the feeling to fullness and the incredible sensation of Zeb's second cock nudging alongside his own. It hurt, but the pain was quickly fading into pleasure as he started rocking against Zeb slowly.
'So deep…yes…oh Zeb…sooo good.' Fenril muttered, scraping his fingernails over Zeb's back.
'Karabast…so tight…Fenril…yessss.' Zeb groaned, wrapping one arm around him. 'I love you.'
'Love you…so much…oh…there!' Fenril groaned, clutching tighter as the pleasure built higher.
Thrusting harder now that he was satisfied Fenril could handle the stretch, Zeb adjusted his grip and reared back, listening to the blissful scream Fenril let out as Zeb's length slid in deeper. Sharing kisses as they rocked and heaved together, they spiralled towards their peaks together, hands slipping against sweaty skin and voices in harmony.
'Not gonna last.' Zeb warned, grasping at Fenril's ass. 'So close.'
'Yes…want it…' Fenril moaned, working one hand between them to wrap around their cocks.
Skirting the edge, Fenril pressed as close as was possible, rocking his hips and screaming his pleasure for the galaxy to hear. Clenching on the cock inside him and raking his nails over the matching cock in his hand, he hit his peak and arched his back as he exploded all over them both. Panting heavily, he tightened his grip on Zeb and worked to bring him off as well.
'Cum for me, love.' Fenril whispered, nipping at Zeb's ear again.
'Here it comes.' Zeb warned, still careful with his strength as he pounded up into him.
Turning his head and letting off a roar that rattled the windows, Zeb hit his peak and sprayed Fenril with his release inside and out. Swaying on his knees, he toppled forward and caught his weight on his forearms again, twitching and shuddering as he came down from the high. Lifting his head a little, he smiled tiredly and drew Fenril into a sweet post-coital kiss.
'That was amazing.' Fenril panted, untangling his legs and letting them fall.
'Yeah.' Zeb nodded, slipping out carefully and rolling them onto their sides. 'Still okay?'
'A little sore but I'm okay.' Fenril smiled, snuggling closer. 'Pity there's no time for another nap, we'll have to leave soon.'
'I know but we don't have to go right now.' Zeb sighed, running his fingers through Fenril's hair lightly. 'You need a shower, can't send ya back smelling of Lasat.'
'It can wait for a little bit.' Fenril replied, perfectly content to doze for a little while.
Still a little tender but refusing to let that bother him too much, Fenril finished dressing and turned to Zeb, looking up at him sadly as their time came to an end again. He was so tempted to throw it all away and stay with Zeb but right now he could do more for his love by staying in the Empire. Soon they would have their chance, they just needed to be patient and hold on a little longer. Their time would come eventually.
'I'll miss you, Fenril.' Zeb sighed, drawing him into a loving embrace. 'I wish I didn't have to leave you again.'
'I know Zeb, I know. I don't want to leave either but people would get suspicious if we made our move right now.' Fenril nodded, enjoying this perfect moment. 'I'll miss you too.'
Drawing away reluctantly, Zeb headed for the door but he paused just short of opening it. Hooking his Bo-rifle on his back, he looked back at Fenril and sighed softly. He didn't want to leave but he'd never be able to convince Hera and the others that he'd accidentally managed to capture Kallus while he was supposed to be checking up on his people.
'Go, before I beg you to stay.' Fenril insisted, hugging himself for comfort. 'I love you so much. We'll be together again soon.'
'I'll be waiting for your call, precious love.' Zeb nodded, reaching for the door controls. 'I love you, more than words can say.'
Fighting back tears of grief and pain, Fenril stayed where he was as Zeb left the room silently but not without one last look back and a kiss released into the air. Once the door had closed, Fenril slumped to the floor and hung his head, cursing his weakness for letting Zeb go again. He knew it was for the best but that didn't make it hurt any less.
'Soon, my dearest, soon we will never have to part.' Fenril muttered, staggering back to his feet and trying to regain his composure before he too left their hideaway.
Chapter 3: Reunion
Agitated and refusing to calm down, Zeb paced the cargo hold and tried so hard not to think about the message that had reached him three days ago. A set of coordinates, a planet that neither side really cared about, it had no tactical value, no financial value; it didn't even have a name beyond TD-153-H. Zeb didn't care about the location but the rest of the message had him deeply concerned. The voice was so faint and mostly garbled with static but Zeb still recognised Fenril's voice and a desperate plea for help. At least Hera hadn't argued about his need to answer the call, she'd immediately set a course and jumped into hyperspace.
Those three days had been hell for Zeb, he couldn't stop thinking about the message and how weak Fenril had sounded amidst the static. He didn't even know if his secret lover was still alive but he wouldn't give up, he would find Fenril and either bring him to safety or give him a farewell worthy of such a man. It hurt to think about planning that funeral but Zeb knew he needed to be prepared for anything as they broke through the thin atmosphere and headed towards the desert surface below.
Squeezing out before the hatch was even fully open, Zeb hit the ground hard and started running towards the only life form their scans had managed to pick up on this dustbowl. Ignoring his friends calling for him to wait, Zeb continued running, desperate to reach his beloved Fenril before it was too late. He'd already been waiting for three days, Zeb wasn't about to make him wait any longer than absolutely necessary.
'Fenril! Fenril!' Zeb called, looking around for him lover. 'Fenril!'
Picking up on a faint sound, Zeb turned towards a crashed shuttle in the distance and poured on the speed, pushing his fear down until he knew for certain if Fenril was alive or dead. Calling for him again, Zeb slowed and listened closely, stretching up to his full height to see over some of the debris scattered around.
'Fenril!' Zeb tried again, listening intently for a reply. 'Fenril!'
Head snapping around when he heard a weak cough, Zeb vaulted over a larger piece of debris and headed towards the aft end of the wrecked shuttle. Not even thinking about potential risks, he swung around the remanets of the starboard wing and skidded to a stop, eyes widening in horror as he took in the scene behind the ship.
The desert sands were splattered with dark red blood stains dried out evidence of a brutal fight here. Five stormtroopers had been left where they died, but in the meagre shade thrown by the wreckage, a lone survivor coughed weakly and lifted his head. Between the bodies and the survivor, Fenril's Bo-rifle lay where he'd abandoned it in his efforts to reach to the shade.
'Oh Fenril.' Zeb uttered, hurrying across the baking sands to kneel beside his love. 'Fenril? Talk to me, lover.'
'Zeb?' Fenril croaked, looking up slowly and coughing again. 'I…'
'Shh, save your strength. I'm here; I'll take care of you.' Zeb soothed, relief flooding him as he shuffled closer. 'You're safe now; I won't let anyone hurt ya again.'
Leaning into the tender hand against his cheek, Fenril groaned in pain and closed his one semi-open eye. He'd been so afraid that he would die out here, alone and in agony but Zeb had found him in time. He was still in agony, he knew he had multiple broken bones and severe internal injuries but he trusted that Zeb would take care of him.
'Wanna go home…' Fenril panted, barely able to breathe at the moment. '…with you.'
'Shh, don't try to talk.' Zeb coaxed, leaning in to kiss his forehead. 'I ain't letting you go again. I can't lose you.'
'Zeb! Where are you?' Kanan called, finally reaching the crash site.
'Around the back!' Zeb replied, reaching out to carefully gather Fenril into his arms.
Roaring in agony as his wounds were jostled, Fenril sagged into Zeb's strength and sobbed weakly, relieved to finally be back with his love. He tried to reach up so he could hold onto Zeb but the pain was too much and he lowered his arm again, hiding his face in Zeb's chest for comfort. He didn't even care who saw him being carried like a child, he needed Zeb right now.
'Is that…' that was Kanan's voice; Fenril recognised it from previous encounters.
'Agent Fenril Kallus, yeah.' Zeb confirmed, turning a little to shade their faces.
'We came all the way out here for him?' Ezra spoke up, sounding indignant and disgusted.
'Don't start, kid.' Zeb growled, tensing up in anger. 'You might not like it but I am not going to let you abandon him.'
'Then you had better give us a good reason not to leave him here.' there was Hera and she sounded really angry.
'Either we take him with us or you leave us both here to die. I love him; I'll do anything for him.' Zeb declared, stunning everyone who heard him.
'But he is responsible for what happened on Lasan.' Sabine spoke up, completing the group.
'No, he was just following orders.' Zeb corrected, carefully adjusting his grip. 'We had a lot of time to talk while waiting for you to pick up the transponder signal.'
'So that personal matter last month?' Hera prodded, coming closer to them.
'Yeah, I was meting up with Fenril.' Zeb replied, relaxing a little more as he held Fenril.
'But why him? Surely there are other people who interested you.' Kanan tried, totally missing the point. 'Why an Imp officer?'
'Probably for much the same reason you're sleeping with Hera. Fenril interested me and I wanted to know him better. Turns out the feeling was mutual and we took a risk on it.' Zeb explained, the revelation earning a few shocked gasps. 'You two aren't as subtle as you think. These ears ain't just for show.'
Summoning what little strength he had left, Fenril lifted his head and looked at the team gathered nearby. He couldn't blame them for being mistrustful, they knew what the Empire was capable of but they had no idea just how bad it could be.
'Please…you don't…understand.' he gasped, every word sending fire through his chest. 'This is…standard…for any…who dare…love an…alien.'
'Shh, ya in no state to talk right now.' Zeb tried, rocking him slowly.
'Needs to…be said.' Fenril insisted, trying to resist the greying in his vision. 'Those five…sent to…hunt me…training game…reward for…proof of…death.'
'That's sick.' Ezra uttered, looking up at Kanan for support.
'Traitor…alien…animal…same thing…' Fenril continued, needing to get his point across before he passed out. 'Nowhere…to go…can trade…secrets…but must…stay with…Zeb…love him.'
'Rest now, Fenril. I'll keep you safe.' Zeb whispered; his grip unwavering as Fenril passed out.
Lifting his gaze, Zeb glanced around his team slowly, waiting to see how they would respond to what had been revealed out here. He was fully prepared to stay here and die with Fenril but he hoped that his friends would accept his choice and let them both return to the Ghost.
'What sort of secrets do you suppose he meant?' Sabine asked, looking to Hera for guidance.
'Could be anything. He was an ISB agent so he could have all kinds of Intel we could use.' Hera replied, still watching Zeb closely. 'Why didn't you mention this earlier?'
'What was I meant to say? There is no way to casually mention that I've got feelings for an ISB agent that has caused us so much trouble.' Zeb sighed, doing his best to protect Fenril from the harsh sun. 'As for the other thing, figured you didn't want the crew to know.'
'Right now, it doesn't really matter. The Empire discarded Agent Kallus and we're in the business of helping people. Who knows, the Imps might forget to deactivate his security codes.' Kanan nodded, meeting Zeb's gaze. 'The Rebellion will be able to make use of whatever we learn.'
'No way, they'll toss him in a cell somewhere and I'll never see him again.' Zeb growled, backing up a step. 'You heard what he said; he wants to stay with me now. The Rebellion won't respect that wish, they'll only see a prisoner, not the man I love.'
'We don't have to tell them where we got the Intel. We just tell them we've gained a new contact who wishes to remain secret.' Hera smiled, reaching out to Zeb. 'We just want you to be sure about this.'
'I am sure, Hera. I love him, I can't lose him and I won't let anyone hurt him. If that means I have to leave the Ghost, we will. I'll give anything to keep him safe and by my side.' Zeb confirmed, looking down at Fenril again. 'He completes my soul.'
'Looks like we'll have to clear out the fourth crew cabin.' Hera sighed, looking back towards the Ghost. 'No doubt you two will want your space.'
'Well I was going to wait until we got back to the ship to mention that but yeah.' Zeb grinned, feeling much more confident about this now. 'Ezra's got to move out.'
'What? Why me?' Ezra asked, gaze snapping between Hera and Zeb.
'Because we spent a lot of money upgrading Zeb's bunk to suit him. We can't move the reinforcing to another bunk and it makes no sense to pay to get another bunk upgraded.' Kanan replied, his tone brokering no argument. 'Think about it, you'll finally have your own space.'
'We should get going. He's getting worse.' Zeb warned, refusing to even think of losing Fenril now. 'Hold on Fenril, just hold on.'
'Would he have anything of value here? Aside from his Bo-rifle?' Kanan asked, using the Force to call the bloodied weapon to his hand.
'Only thing I can think of would be a small glowing stone that I found on that moon. It gave off enough heat to keep us warm and I left it with him when you showed up.' Zeb offered, glancing around quickly. 'It might be in the wreckage but I don't want to waste too much time.'
'I'll take a quick look inside.' Sabine nodded, heading into the wrecked ship without hesitation.
'I'll keep an eye on her; you head back to the Ghost.' Kanan suggested, moving into the shade to wait. 'We won't be long.'
'Thanks for this.' Zeb smiled; turning and starting the long walk back to the Ghost.
Groaning softly as he regained consciousness, Fenril licked his lips and settled deeper into the soft pillow under his head. His head felt like it was full of fluff, a sure sign that he'd been under medical sedation, now he just needed to rest and wait for the fuzziness to fade off so he could clearly recall what had happened. He vaguely remembered some details but the sequence was all messed up.
Cracking one eye open, he looked around as best he could, given the facial swelling he could feel and the fog in his head. He didn't recognise anything around him, the walls decorated with bright patterns and the lights were dimmed to a far more comfortable level.
'Hey, he's awake.' a female voice called softly as a gentle hand rested on his bared shoulder.
'W-where?' Fenril managed, licking his lips again.
'You're on the Ghost.' she replied, slipping her hand under his head. 'Here, fresh water.'
Draining the cup she held, Fenril sighed softly as she settled him back and smoothed out the soft blanket over him. He had so many questions but the fog in his head made it hard to sort out what he needed to know first. He knew he should recognise the young woman taking care of him but her name refused to come to him.
'Feeling any better?' Kanan asked, crouching beside his bed.
'A little.' Fenril replied, trying to focus on the other man. 'Everything is fuzzy.'
'That's not a shock. You were sedated four times so the onboard med-droid could fully patch you up.' Kanan chuckled, touching his hand lightly. 'Try to stay still, supplies are limited but we did our best for you.'
'Thank you.' Fenril smiled tiredly, concentrating on his words so he didn't accidentally say anything embarrassing. 'You didn't have to do this.'
'Zeb can be quite persuasive when he tries.' Kanan shrugged, glancing over his shoulder. 'He'll come see you a bit later.'
'You had to sedate him?' Fenril asked, accepting another drink from Sabine. 'My thanks, Sabine.'
'Yeah, he got a little…angsty.' Sabine nodded, fluffing up his pillow again. 'We're all wondering just what sort of secrets you could offer.'
Settling back comfortably, Fenril considered Sabine's comment carefully. His mind was still foggy but he knew he had to answer her. Closing his eyes, he concentrated harder, trying to break through the fog in his mind to come up with a worthy secret.
'There is a back entrance on every Imperial Cruiser, a remnant from the construction yards. It's hidden at the aft end, between the engines on the starboard side. The security system is set up to ignore that hatch since it isn't meant to exist. The access code is 367473 or empire, depending on the panel.' Fenril offered, secretly proud for remembering the details. 'Only a small ship could make the connection.'
'Whoa, now that's cool. I'll tell Hera.' Sabine nodded, getting up and darting from the room.
'Thank you.' Kanan added, squeezing his hand lightly. 'That will be a big help.'
'Anything for Zeb.' Fenril replied, blinking slowly. 'I owe you all for my life.'
'Keep it up with helpful secrets and we'll call it even.' Kanan grinned, adjusting the blanket again. 'Just try not to wind up Ezra.'
'I will do my best.' Fenril sighed, well aware that his security codes wouldn't work anymore.
Fighting back exhaustion, Fenril smiled weakly as he heard Zeb's unmistakable footsteps coming towards him. Lacking the energy to even try and sit up, he waited with ever diminishing patience for Zeb to find him and let him know that everything would be okay. This still didn't feel real; he needed to see Zeb to know he was really home.
'Calmed down now?' Kanan asked, turning away from Fenril.
'Yeah, I'm good. I just…' Zeb started, entering the room and heading straight for him. 'I was worried about you.'
'I could say the same.' Fenril yawned, relieved to see his lover again. 'Stay?'
'Don't wanna be anywhere else.' Zeb nodded, settling on the floor beside his bed. 'I'm right here. Sleep Fenril, you're home now.'
'My double dick angel.' Fenril muttered, looking up at Zeb with a grin.
'Karabast.' Zeb groaned, hanging his head for a moment. 'Fenril, do you normally have a reaction to sedation?'
'Uh-ha.' Fenril nodded, a stupid grin spreading across his face. 'Every time.'
'Get some sleep; I'll stay right here until you're feeling better.' Zeb coaxed, continuing his gentle touches. 'You're safe now.'
'm'kay.' Fenril muttered, getting comfortable again and drifting back to sleep.
'Not one word Kanan.' Zeb's voice bringing Fenril such comfort in the last moment before sleep claimed him.
Gaining his strength day by day, Fenril got to know the crew and continued to tell them about imperial sensor black spots, back doors and any other secrets that he thought would still be beneficial to them. He'd even handed over the access all areas code used by all Imperial officers and had been quite surprised when it came back as still active. No one was sure how long the code would remain active but for now the Rebellion was making the most of the access to cause as much trouble as possible.
To know that someone onboard had gone into that wreckage and found his meteorite, well that had been a lovely surprise. Now it sat pride of place in the room he shared with Zeb, casting the familiar glow over them both and reminding them of their first peaceful night. Their Bo-rifles hung on the wall together, ready for battle and a promise to always look after each other. Fenril didn't know where his new wardrobe had come from, he didn't really care either. He was simply thankful that someone had arranged it for him.
Getting around the Ghost on a crude crutch Hera and Sabine had made him; Fenril still couldn't believe the efforts that had gone into making him feel at home among them. He had some trouble managing the ladders but that didn't really matter, he had everything he needed within hobbling distance. He didn't need much really; a comfortable bed, 'fresher and kitchenette covered his needs in ways the Empire never had. He'd even come up with a way to start to repay their kindness but first he needed to fully recover.
Today though, he finally felt ready to make a dramatic change in his appearance. New clothes helped to disguise who he was but he knew his face was well known throughout the Rebellion. He wasn't totally comfortable with the idea of change, he was so used to the way he looked but if he ever wanted a life with Zeb, certain sacrifices had to be made. Armed with a razor and a special little something Kanan had in his possession, Fenril locked the 'fresher door and stared into the mirror.
The last month had really taken a toll on him, leaving him gaunt and scruffy. Time would fill out his cheeks and remove the dark bags from under his eyes. The rest he could take care of right now and hope that it was dramatic enough that no one realised who he was. It was a long shot, he knew from experience that long shots sometimes paid off though. Swallowing his nerves and indecision, he got to work on creating a new identity.
Letting go of everything that he used to be, Fenril allowed the tears to fall silently as he worked. The Empire had been his home for years; his troops became his family until they were slaughtered on Onderon. The betrayals cut deep, eroding his faith in the Empire until he'd found a new place to belong. A place where he could be happy again, like he'd been as a child on Coruscant. This new family wasn't quite the same but there were enough similarities to make it feel comfortable and safe.
'Hey, what's the hold up in there?' Ezra called, thumping on the door.
'I will be out shortly Ezra.' Fenril replied, continuing to shape his new identity.
'Come on, I gotta use the head.' Ezra insisted, hammering on the door with both fists.
'What's going on?' Kanan called, joining Ezra at the door.
'Fenril's hogging the 'fresher!' Ezra offered, still trying to get inside. 'He's worse than Sabine.'
'Oh for…' Fenril groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. 'I'm only trying to disguise my identity in here!'
'I gotta pee!' Ezra cried, his insistence only getting stronger.
'Ezra, just go outside and pee behind a tree.' Kanan directed, sounding more than a little amused about this mess.
'Just like home.' Fenril chuckled, turning back to the mirror. 'My thanks for the help Kanan.'
'Just don't take too long, we've all got to share the 'fresher.' Kanan countered, knocking once and walking away.
Rinsing off his face and looking closely at his new style, Fenril touched up a few spots that weren't quite right and smiled proudly as he set his razor aside and cleaned up the mess. Picking up the device Kanan had leant him; he dialled in his choices and looked at his old face one last time. Bracing for the discomfort sure to come, he tipped his head back and activated the device as he aimed it at his face. Swallowing the groan that threatened to break free, he held the device steady as the bright lasers danced across his eyes in twisting patterns.
Relaxing as the device let out a confirmation beep; Fenril lowered the device and blinked rapidly to ease the minor discomfort left from the process. Lifting his gaze, he stared into the mirror and smiled proudly at the new face looking back at him.
'You still in there Fenril?' Sabine called, knocking lightly on the door. 'I've got the stuff you asked for.'
'Perfect timing Sabine.' Fenril grinned, turning and unlocking the door. 'Let's get this done.'
'Wow, you look so different already.' Sabine noted, locking the door behind her. 'Shirt off and take a seat. This won't take long.'
Waiting in the common room with the rest of the crew, Zeb refused to admit that he was nervous about the big reveal. He knew that the change was necessary to protect Fenril but he had no idea what his lover would come up with. It didn't really matter what he looked like, Zeb still loved him but he was still a little anxious about what was coming. It would take some getting used to whatever Fenril came up with and Zeb would be right there to reassure him that he looked amazing and was loved no matter what.
Lifting his head at the sound of footsteps coming towards them and the stunned sounds from the rest of the crew, Zeb's jaw dropped as he got his first look at the reinvented Fenril Kallus. No one who had known him would recognise him now. Gone was the hard edged, uptight ISB Agent, replaced with a far more casual figure. Wearing an open collared tunic, loose pants and short boots, he'd trimmed his unkempt sideburns back to almost match Zeb's own look. For now his overly long hair was hanging loose and free, the fringe hanging in his eyes and the back just reaching the edge of his collar. Sabine had clearly had a hand in the restyling; Fenril's soft blonde hair was now randomly streaked with black. She'd also carried the black streaks through his sideburns and goatee and even added a few thinner streaks of black through his eyebrows.
Getting to his feet, Zeb closed the distance and gently brushed Fenril's hair out of his eyes with one finger and paused at the sight of his altered eyes. The familiar soft brown was gone, replaced with something totally different. Fenril's right eye was a bright blue, almost the same colour as Kanan's lightsaber. The left was a dazzling green, similar to the colour of enemy fire and just as bright. Zeb had never seen such an unusual colouration but he really did like the new look.
'Well, what do you think?' Fenril asked; his voice much softer and rounded.
'You look incredible. Don't know much about what's normal for humans but I like this look.' Zeb grinned, cupping his cheek lightly. 'You sound different too.'
'My instructors at the Academy didn't approve of my original accent so I learned to speak with a proper Coruscanti accent to avoid their anger. In private I continued to use my original accent so I never lost it, just in case I ever needed to use it.' Fenril explained, turning to the rest of the crew. 'My parents fled the Trade Union on Saleucami before I was born and made a new life on Coruscant. They always made sure that we never forgot our roots, teaching all of us everything that they thought we should know about the wider galaxy.'
'We?' Ezra asked, meeting Fenril's gaze. 'You have siblings?'
'Yes, two sisters and a brother. I am the second born.' Fenril nodded, pulling a white and orange cloth from his pocket and pulling his hair back. 'I don't know what happened to any of them, I assume they are still on Coruscant. I hope they are.'
'We might be able to find out for certain.' Hera offered, getting to her feet. 'We don't have to give away; we're just chasing a lead that might benefit the Rebellion.'
'No, it's safer not knowing. Safer for them mostly.' Fenril sighed, shaking his head slowly. 'One day I'll look for them but not right now. I won't drag them into my mess.'
'That's probably the safest thing right now.' Kanan agreed, resting one hand on Fenril's shoulder lightly. 'When you're ready, we'll be here to help you.'
'Thank you.' Fenril nodded, amazed by how far this rebel team was willing to go for him.
'You're still looking quite pale. Why don't you get some sleep? It's a long flight to our next rendezvous.' Hera suggested, smiling softly at him.
'That sounds like a good idea.' Fenril replied, adjusting his crutch quickly. 'I cannot thank you enough for all of this.'
'It's what we do.' Kanan shrugged, turning to Ezra. 'Come on, you've got training.'
Returning to his cabin, Fenril leant his crutch up against the wall and slumped onto the bottom bunk, absolutely exhausted from just that little exercise. He couldn't wait to be rid of the crutch so he could work on getting his fitness back to a more suitable level. Settling back on the bunk, he waited for Zeb to stretch out beside him and snuggled in close, drawing comfort from the presence of his love.
'Something's botherin' you, I can feel it.' Zeb sighed, stroking his back lightly.
'Just thinking about all the things I want to do to you.' Fenril grinned, cuddling in closer.
'Got a few ideas of my own, my heart.' Zeb agreed, getting comfortable and starting to purr happily. 'There's no rush, we've got plenty of time now.'
'I don't think I'll ever get tired of listening to you purr like this.' Fenril remarked, tracing over Zeb's markings slowly. 'It's such a comforting sound.'
'So long as you're in my arms, I'll purr all the time.' Zeb promised, being extra careful not to hurt his lover while he was healing from the last beating.
'Sounds perfect to me, my heart.' Fenril agreed, burying a yawn in Zeb's side. 'Sleep well Zeb.'
'Sweet dreams, my heart.' Zeb uttered, not particularly tired but he'd stay for Fenril.
Chapter 4: Awkward Moments
I really struggled with this chapter. I know it's probably not as good as previous chapters but I did my best with it. I'm open to any suggestions on how to improve this one.
'There's something I've been meaning to ask you Zeb.' Kanan remarked, looking up from his kaf mug as the team relaxed in the common room.
'What's that?' Zeb asked, relaxed in his chair as Fenril scratched lightly at his scalp.
'Is it true?' Kanan grinned, sipping his kaf slowly. 'What Fenril was muttering while he was doped up.'
'Which part exactly? I'm reasonably sure I muttered a few things I probably shouldn't have.' Fenril sighed, perfectly content to sit in Zeb's lap and snuggle in close.
'Oh, I know what he means.' Hera chuckled, turning to the pair. 'Double dick angel.'
'Karabast. I told you not to mention that Kanan.' Zeb groaned, ears drooping in embarrassment as his cheeks darkened.
'I can't believe I said that.' Fenril muttered, blushing brightly as he hid his face.
'So, is it true?' Kanan pushed, leaning back on the bench seat.
'Do we really need to talk about this now?' Sabine asked, looking up from her sketchpad. 'Come on, you've said some very interesting things while doped up, Kanan.'
'True, but I don't recall Kanan ever muttering anything sexual.' Hera nodded, watching Kanan develop a blush of his own. 'Well aside from that one moment where he confessed to comparing his size with his classmates.'
'Oh, I remember that one. He was so upset that he was one of the smallest.' Sabine chuckled, shifting over for Ezra.
'I still don't recall saying that.' Kanan protested, hanging his head in shame.
'You did, we all heard it love.' Hera replied, sitting down beside him. 'This was before you joined us, Ezra.'
'Do I even want to know?' Ezra asked, getting comfortable and looking around slowly.
'Probably not, Ezra. I just hope we never have a situation where Kanan and Fenril are both coming off sedation. I seriously doubt we'd be able to handle the weirdness.' Sabine shrugged, setting her sketchpad aside for now.
Feeling a little less awkward now that he wasn't the only one with an embarrassing story floating around the Ghost, Zeb tucked Fenril closer and nodded slowly. He really didn't want to talk about this but since Kanan asked, he figured it was only fair to answer any questions that would come from this. Hera and Sabine would most likely have some questions of their own, though Ezra would probably leave the room. Bracing for whatever would come from this, Zeb muzzled Fenril for a moment to reassure him before flicking his gaze to Kanan.
'It's true. Lasat males are born with two cocks.' Zeb confirmed, nudging into the hand still resting against his head. 'Penile major and minor.'
'Two? You've got…I didn't need to know that.' Ezra groaned, thumping his head against the table. 'I don't need to hear this. This is just wrong.'
'Kid, you need to realise that we ain't all human or even close to human. My dual cock is one of the least bizarre things out there when it comes to sex.' Zeb sighed, not really surprised about that reaction.
'Really Ezra, there is no need to be so dramatic. Sex is natural, even if the technique is a little unusual to you. Grow up, the galaxy isn't populated by humans alone.' Fenril growled, rolling his eyes at the younger man. 'Seriously, no one else is overreacting.'
'That's normal for the kid, let it go.' Zeb shrugged, rolling his eyes and adjusting his grip on Fenril. 'Just ignore him.'
Confidence growing now that this awkward topic was out in the air, Zeb settled back again and smiled softly as Fenril went back to scratching at his scalp softly. No one spoke for a few minutes, everyone trying to come to terms with what had already been said.
'How does that even work?' Hera asked, getting comfortable against Kanan's side. 'Or are Lasat females able to cope with the dual cocks?'
'I'm not an expert on any of this but I'll try to explain it.' Zeb nodded, dragging his claws through his beard for a moment. 'Lasat women are only equipped with one set of sexual organs but they are able to produce a pheromone that effects males. It all depends on the social standing of the female. If she's of higher standing than the male, she gets a reaction from penile major. If she's of lower standing, she has to be content with penile minor.'
'Is that something to do with the size?' Sabine asked, resting her forearms on the table and giving Zeb her full attention.
'For some males, yeah there's a size difference. I'm one of the lucky ones, there's no clear difference between my major and minor.' Zeb nodded, impressed with the question. 'The terms actually don't have anything to do with sex.'
'So what are the terms about?' Hera asked, glancing at Kanan for a second.
'Penile major has a connection to the bladder, penile minor doesn't.' Zeb replied, ignoring the horrified noise from Ezra. 'Male cubs learn at an early age which is their major and minor. My two litter-brothers were right majors but I'm a left major. Our sire was a right major too so I had to figure a few things out on my own.'
'Well at least some things are the same.' Kanan nodded, amazed by what he was learning about Zeb. 'Seems like most guys struggle with the basics when we're little.'
'At least you've only got one to think about.' Zeb grinned, shifting Fenril slightly. 'Minor.'
'Ahh, sorry about that.' Fenril uttered, getting comfortable again.
'This is so wrong. Why are we even talking about this? Nothing against anyone but I don't need to hear this stuff.' Ezra groused, slumping over the table. 'Zeb's equipment has nothing to do with his combat abilities.'
'Well it was thought that the males with the largest cocks were the best leaders for our forces. I guess that's part of the reason I was made Captain.' Zeb chuckled, watching Ezra's reaction.
'That's just gross. I don't want to know this stuff!' Ezra yelled, getting up and storming out of the common room.
'Better get used to it kid. The galaxy is a weird place.' Fenril laughed, not overly worried about Ezra's tantrum. 'Seriously, his education is sorely lacking.'
'He spent a long time living on the streets. He'll learn eventually.' Zeb agreed, nuzzling his neck lightly and inhaling Fenril's unique scent.
'That's something else I've noticed. You're a lot more touchy-feely lately Zeb.' Hera remarked, stretching her back quickly. 'Specifically towards Fenril.'
Curling one hand around Zeb's head to keep him right where he was, Fenril sighed softly and tipped his head to the side, giving Zeb more access to mark him. Most people would probably find this strange but Fenril liked the possessive nature Zeb had started showing towards him.
'This is common Lasat behaviour. We are mates, two halves of one soul. It would seem that his scent has worn off a little too much so he's just refreshing it again.' Fenril offered, letting Zeb move him around as he spoke.
'So shouldn't you be nuzzling at him in response?' Sabine asked, stretching out a little more.
'I don't have the scent glands he does. The best I can do is simply snuggle close and let my scent naturally rub off onto him.' Fenril explained, making sure to keep as much contact between them as he could.
'So it's sexual?' Hera questioned, glancing at Kanan again.
'No, more affection than erotic. To the Lasat, this is no more erotic than holding hands or a keldabe kiss. If he starts biting, then it's getting towards erotic.' Fenril grinned, not at all surprised that Hera had asked that. Twi'lek's were notorious for their sexual energy.
'Hey, I've no intention of getting rowdy around the kids. Some things they don't need to witness.' Zeb insisted, continuing to nuzzle at Fenril happily. 'But we've got to move soon.'
'Go, my curiosity has been satisfied.' Kanan nodded, waving the pair away. 'Just keep it down, the bunkrooms aren't totally soundproof.'
'We know.' Fenril replied, getting up and pulling Zeb to his feet. 'We'll be quiet.'
Trying to ignore the way his hair kept falling into his eyes, Fenril tightened his grip around Zeb's cocks and thrust harder. It felt so good to finally be inside Zeb, feeling every twitch of those incredible thighs around him. Using his free hand for support, he adjusted his angle and groaned louder when Zeb tightened around him.
'Oh…there…yessss…Fenril…' Zeb moaned, writhing beneath him as the pleasure spiralled higher. 'More…please…more.'
'I'll give you everything.' Fenril promised, continuing to pound Zeb through the bunk.
'So good…so deep…' Zeb muttered before switching to his native tongue and continuing to speak softly, totally out of his mind with pleasure.
Barely coherent as the pleasure continued to build, Zeb reached one hand up to brace against Fenril's shoulder and bit back a cry of pleasure as Fenril changed his grip and stroked both cocks with a firm grip. He was so close, skirting the edge of the abyss and almost at the edge of his endurance. Just a little more and he'd explode.
'So close…so close.' Zeb muttered, free hand gripping the edge of the bunk. 'Just a…little more.'
'Let go Zeb, I've got you.' Fenril coaxed, nipping at Zeb's abdomen sharply.
Hitting his peak, Fenril barely managed to silence his ecstatic cry as he sagged a little. Still working Zeb's twin cocks, he almost flew out of his skin when the door suddenly slid open. Freezing in place, Fenril tried to use his hands to preserve Zeb's modesty as he snapped his head towards the door.
'Karabast!' Zeb growled, the mood totally destroyed.
'What the kriff, Kanan?' Fenril snarled, barely noticing his choice of words. 'I thought you locked the door.'
'I did but these Jedi don't always respect privacy.' Zeb replied, thumping the bunk in frustration.
'I really could have done without that image.' Kanan grumbled, one hand up to shield his eyes from the view. 'Are you almost finished? We've got trouble ahead.'
'Doesn't matter, ya killed the mood.' Zeb grumbled, hissing softly as Fenril pulled out. 'At least one of us got some relief.'
'I'll make it up to you later.' Fenril promised, getting off the bunk. 'This had better be important.'
'We're about to make a run on an Imp blockade.' Kanan nodded, lowering his hand for a moment. 'I didn't need to see that Zeb!'
'Then get out!' Zeb snapped, getting to his feet. 'We'll be there in a minute!'
'Chopper! I'm going to tear you apart for that!' Fenril roared, pulling on his pants and taking off after the droid that had just managed to take a sneaky holo of them both wearing nothing.
'This just gets better and better.' Zeb groaned, grabbing one of Fenril's tunics and pulling on his combat suit pants. 'You'll pay for this Kanan.'
Chasing Chopper through the ship, Fenril skidded into the cockpit and snarled angrily at the sight of that malfunctioning droid showing Hera the image he'd captured. Advancing slowly, he took aim and unleashed a powerful kick, knocking Chopper over and making the picture disappear temporarily.
'You'd better hope no one else ever sees that holo, you short-circuited electrode.' Fenril warned, ignoring the dark look Hera shot his way.
'We've got bigger problems than your bedroom habits, Fenril.' Hera snapped, pointing to the Imperial fleet in front of them.
'Leave those Imperial fools to me, Hera. Just make sure Chopper deletes that image.' Fenril nodded, turning his attention to the ships ahead. 'One little mistake and the Imps could see that image. They see it and it won't take them long to figure out I'm still around.'
'Delete it Chopper.' Hera demanded, hauling Chopper back upright. 'Don't argue! Just delete it.'
Entering the cockpit, Zeb came forward and draped the tunic over Fenril's shoulder as he gazed out at the waiting fleet ahead. He didn't know exactly why his lover was ticked off at Chopper this time but that didn't really matter right now.
'What's the plan?' Zeb asked, half turning to the door.
'I'm going to get us past this fleet.' Fenril nodded, pulling on the tunic and smoothing out his hair quickly. 'Might be best if you two move back. We don't want you caught up in the comm.'
'What are you planning?' Hera asked, looking up at him from her chair.
'I'm going to bluff us past this fleet. I've done this before, they won't suspect a thing.' Fenril grinned, wiping the sweat from his face. 'Just stand back and keep everyone else out of the cockpit for a few minutes.'
'Alright.' Hera nodded, vacating her chair and moving back.
Drawing a lock of hair forward as he settled in the pilot's chair, Fenril checked that his friends were far enough back as he eased the Ghost closer to the Imperial fleet. Calm and in total control, he aimed towards the flagship in the middle of the formation and prepared to match wits with whoever was in command of this fleet.
"Unidentified ship, this is the Imperial Star Destroyer Endurance. Stare your business in this sector. I repeat, this is the Imperial Star Destroyer Endurance. State your business in this sector."
'I hear you Imperial Star Destroyer Restless. This is Captain Fenril Kallus, brother of ISB Agent Falir Kallus.' Fenril replied, leaning back a little in his chair. 'I want no trouble with the Empire, I'm just passing through with a load of general supplies for the garrison on Utapau. Having some minor hyperdrive problems, my crew is working on it right now.'
"Very well Captain Kallus, we will let you pass."
'You have my thanks, Admiral.' Fenril nodded, easing the Ghost closer and starting to angle them to sweep past on the left of the Endurance. 'If you would be so kind, please tell my brother that I'm doing okay out here.'
"I am sorry, Captain but your brother was banished from the Empire several months ago. I do not know all the details but I know he was sent to TD-153-H."
'I see, thank you for the information.' Fenril sighed, playing up the part of a concerned brother easily. 'Can you tell me who I would need to speak with to get more information? I'm willing to leave a little something here in repayment for the information.'
"Well, so long as the gift isn't needed on Utapau. You will need to find the Relentless and speak with Admiral Konstantine."
'Thank you, I will do just that.' Fenril nodded, glancing over his shoulder. 'Can someone prep one of the red crates to be tossed out for the Admiral?'
'I'm on it.' Zeb replied, turning and hurrying out of the cockpit.
'You have my gratitude Admiral.' Fenril added before closing the channel.
Getting the signal that Zeb had the crate ready to go and everything else secure, Fenril eased the Ghost around and sailed past the bridge of the Endurance as he opened the airlock and released the readied crate. Picking up speed, he cleared the fleet and turned the Ghost around before vacating the seat for Hera.
'Be ready to get us out of here Hera. Once the Imps realise they've been tricked, they'll be out for blood.' Fenril warned, moving back a step and waiting for the impending trick.
'What did you put in that crate?' Hera asked, sliding into her seat and getting ready to leave as the rest of the crew piled into the cockpit.
'Just a little something special I've been working on.' Fenril chuckled, pointing to the fleet. 'In three…two…one.'
Everyone could only watch in disbelief as the crate suddenly exploded, sending a wave of fire and debris at the Star Destroyer unlucky enough to be right in front of it. Most of the blast hit the bridge of the Endurance, shattering windows and twisting metal in a frightening display of explosive power.
'Get us out of here Hera.' Fenril uttered, leaning forward a little. 'They've launched TIE fighters.'
'That was beautiful, Fenril.' Zeb crowed, welcoming Fenril into his lap as Hera made the jump to hyperspace. 'I knew you were working on something special but that was really something.'
'What was that?' Sabine asked, the jealously clear in her voice.
'A very specific type of explosive that I heard about a couple years ago. It's easy enough to make from basic compounds available anywhere and the best part is that it's totally stable until introduced to a vacuum.' Fenril explained, settling back against Zeb. 'I'm fully prepared to give the formula to the Rebellion, I'm sure they can find some interesting uses for it.'
'Can you teach me how to make it?' Sabine tried, so eager to learn a new trick.
'My dear, you have more than enough tricks in your arsenal. Your exploding paint is quite effective, I know that for a fact.' Fenril chuckled, reaching out to squeeze her hand lightly. 'You keep your portable explosives and I'll make sure the Ghost always has a supply of vacuum bombs to protect us all.'
'It's a deal.' Sabine agreed, clasping his forearm firmly.
'I don't know if I'm comfortable with this, Fenril.' Hera sighed, turning her seat around. 'Are you sure these explosives of yours are safe?'
'Hera, I can promise you that so long as the Ghost contains an atmosphere, my vacuum bombs are totally harmless.' Fenril promised, reaching into the pocket of his pants. 'See, it's perfectly safe to handle and store.'
'That's it? I was expecting more than a few blue lumps.' Ezra remarked, looking closer at the container of small blue lumps.
'This is the explosive compound. I had a few other things in the crate to shield it from scans and focus the blast.' Fenril replied, handing the container to Kanan. 'It doesn't take much of that stuff to do major damage. What I put in the bomb you just witnessed would have fit in Sabine's bucket easily. That small container is enough to destroy ships of similar size to the Ghost.'
'That's some powerful stuff.' Kanan remarked, holding up the container. 'I guess I don't need to remind you about safety.'
'I keep everything secure Kanan. I only keep a small amount mixed up ready to go but I've got the compounds to make more.' Fenril nodded, accepting his mini bomb back and tucking it out of sight. 'Should we need it, I can make up enough to disable an Imp fleet in fifteen minutes.'
'Well, now that we've gotten past that problem, you two might as well finish whatever Kanan interrupted earlier.' Hera suggested, smiling softly at the pair.
'Sounds like a good idea.' Zeb agreed, setting Fenril on his feet and getting up. 'Next time, just use the comm.'
Chapter 5: Family Time
Heading towards the galley to see if she could find something to eat, Sabine paused in the door and watched in wonder as Fenril pulled something from the cooker and set it on the bench. Whatever it was, it smelled absolutely amazing and bubbled temptingly. Licking her lips, she entered the galley and took a seat at the table.
'I take it you're hungry Sabine.' Fenril chuckled, reaching for one of the plates.
'Yeah, what's on offer?' Sabine nodded, inhaling the rich smells coming off whatever Fenril had created for them.
'It's a baked noodle dish my mother taught me when I was a boy. She called it paritgna.' Fenril offered, serving her up a portion and handing it over. 'It's not exactly the same as hers but it's as close as I could get with what we had available.'
'It's really good, Fenril.' Sabine praised, savouring the second mouthful. 'I don't know what your mother put in hers but this is delicious.'
'Thank you. It's nice to be able to cook some of these dishes again. I was concerned I might have forgotten the recipes.' Fenril admitted, serving up another portion and joining her at the table.
'Maybe you should write them down so you can't forget.' Sabine suggested, looking up from her meal quickly.
'I had them all written down but the files were lost when I was banished.' Fenril sighed, sweeping his hair out of his eyes. 'But you're right, perhaps I should write them out again.'
'Sounds like you lost a lot of important things when they kicked you out.' Sabine nodded, reaching out to lightly touch his left hand.
'Aside from the recipe pad, not really. I was allowed to keep two items; I didn't need to think about it honestly. My Bo-rifle and the meteorite that Zeb found on Bahryn. Everything else could be replaced or had no real significance.' Fenril shrugged, lowering his gaze for a moment. 'But I gained a lot more than a few possessions. I gained a home and a family. Can't say I've felt a connection like this since I was a young boy on Coruscant.'
'What's that smell?' Kanan asked, poking his head into the galley.
'Paritgna, my mother's recipe.' Fenril replied, pointing to the still steaming dish. 'Help yourself; just leave enough for everyone else.'
'It's really good, Kanan.' Sabine added, scraping her plate clean. 'I'll go relieve Hera so she can get some lunch. Want me to chase up Ezra while I'm going?'
'That would be great, Sabine. He's in his room meditating.' Kanan nodded, sinking into a chair and starting to eat. 'Oh wow, this is incredible.'
'Leave Zeb to rest, he had a bad night last night.' Fenril insisted, flushing faintly at the praise for his skills. 'It's nice to be cooking again; I missed the fun of it.'
'You can take over the galley permanently if this is what we get.' Kanan grinned, forcing himself to take his time with the meal. 'Of course, that's if Hera agrees.'
'Having seen some of her concoctions, I'm sure she won't mind.' Fenril shrugged, getting up and heading for the sink with his dirty dishes. 'I hate wasting food almost as much as she does.'
Portioning out the last of the paritgna and setting Zeb's aside for later, Fenril turned his attention to the dirty dishes, whistling softly as he started scrubbing at the pot he'd used to make the creamed sauce for the dish.
'Sabine's raving about lunch. Said it's the best thing she's tasted in ages.' Ezra remarked, wandering into the galley and joining Kanan at the table.
'I've never heard her get so excited about a meal of leftovers.' Hera agreed, settling in front of the other plate on the table. 'This does smell delightful though.'
'Even leftovers can be turned into something amazing.' Fenril grinned, not even trying to hide the flush on his cheeks. 'With your permission Hera, I'm happy to take over cooking for the crew. My mother taught me a lot of simple recipes that never fail.'
'You made this?' Ezra asked, swallowing quickly.
'Well, no one else onboard has this sort of talent with food. By all means, if you want to cook for the team, go right ahead.' Hera agreed, tucking into her lunch. 'I can see why Sabine was excited. This is delicious.'
'It's going to take some getting used to all this praise for basic cookery.' Fenril admitted, turning his focus back to the dirty dishes.
'We've all got some serious adjusting to do. We're not used to having someone who can actually cook.' Kanan chuckled, nudging Fenril away from the sink. 'But we're not going to let you do everything on your own.'
'You don't have to do that.' Fenril protested but he handed over the scouring pad anyway.
'Well it's meant to be his turn anyway. Sit down and relax, you've been working hard lately.' Hera grinned, sipping her juice.
Letting his shoulders droop a little, Fenril made his kaf and settled at the table, relaxing slowly as he listened to the soothing rattle of Kanan doing the washing up and the soft hum of the ship systems. It really was nice to just sit and relax; there hadn't been a lot of time for that before he joined the Ghost.
'We're meant to rendezvous with the main fleet in a couple of days. I can simulate engine trouble if you're not ready to face the Rebellion leadership though.' Hera offered, scraping her plate clean and leaning back to hand her plate and cutlery to Kanan.
'No, it's time I stopped hiding. The Rebellion has most likely heard about the disgrace of my brother and they've seen me in transmissions so it's only fair that I finally meet them face to face.' Fenril sighed, nervous about it but he was still willing to try. 'I'm just concerned they will try to imprison me just in case.'
'We won't let that happen. You're a part of this team.' Ezra insisted, getting up and adding his dirty dishes to the pile.
'I appreciate that Ezra. We'll just have to see what happens. There's no escaping the ISB connection, I just hope the Rebellion is willing to let me continue to assist them.' Fenril shrugged, finding a smile as Zeb entered the galley. 'Your lunch is in the cooker. Just be careful, the plate might be hot.'
'Thanks, my heart.' Zeb nodded, retrieving his lunch and joining the group at the table. 'Sorry about last night.'
'We all have bad nights.' Fenril soothed, shuffling over for Zeb. 'We'll get through the bad times together, I promise.'
'Sometimes I really think I don't deserve you, Fenril.' Zeb sighed, wrapping one arm around Fenril's back. 'You complete my soul.'
'You complete my soul.' Fenril repeated, snuggling in against Zeb. 'Shut your mouth Ezra.'
'Must you cuddle all the time?' Ezra groused, turning away from the pair.
'This is no different from the times you cuddle up with Kanan or Hera after a nightmare.' Fenril corrected, lightly rubbing Zeb's side. 'We all need comfort sometimes.'
Standing back and watching as Fenril and Kanan discussed some plan to further Ezra's training while they all had some downtime; Hera smiled fondly as Fenril nodded slowly and sunk to one knee to unbuckle his boots. She had no idea exactly what this was supposed to teach Ezra but she was interested to see what might happen this time around. Last time Fenril had agreed to help train Ezra, he'd almost been gutted by Ezra's lightsaber. Only Kanan's sudden intervention had protected them both from harm.
Definitely confused when Fenril stripped down to his pants and undershirt before following Kanan, Hera pushed off the bulkhead and followed them into the cargo hold. She needed to be certain that no one would get hurt, they were a mismatched group but they were still a family.
'Might want to hug the bulkheads, Hera.' Fenril warned, waiting on the upper platform as Kanan briefed Ezra on the plan. 'We testing Ezra's agility and trust in the Force.'
'Just try not to damage anything.' Hera sighed, moving back into the corridor.
'The only thing likely to get damaged is my pride.' Fenril chuckled, starting to stretch in readiness for this. 'Or perhaps Ezra's pride. We'll just have to see.'
'Ah, so that's why all the obstacles and handgrips.' Hera nodded, looking around the hold slowly.
Sure enough, the cargo hold was littered with empty crates of all shapes and sizes, some with their lids on and others left open on one side. The walls and ceiling were artistically scattered with various handgrips and footrests, some at rather precarious angles and others little more than a stick hanging straight out or down. Several were large enough for Fenril to stand on, so long as he remembered to become one with the bulkhead behind him but on average, the grips were quite small.
'Now remember Ezra, the goal is simply to catch Fenril. Try to avoid any injuries.' Kanan instructed, climbing up to the upper level. 'On your guard…go for it Fenril.'
Gasping softly as Fenril climbed up onto the railing and launched out into the cargo bay, Hera stepped forward as if she could catch the older man but she needn't have worried. Twisting around in mid air, Fenril grabbed one of the dangling handgrips and started making his way across the ceiling as Ezra scrambled up the starboard bulkhead. Hera wasn't totally convinced that it was fair on Ezra though, he'd been handicapped by a simple cloth blindfold while Fenril was allowed full use of all his senses.
'Ezra needs to learn to trust in the Force. This is actually a kinder version of a game my Master used to encourage me to trust.' Kanan explained, settling closer to her. 'If either of them fall, I'm right here to catch them.'
'Well, if you believe it will work, I guess I can too.' Hera nodded, glancing back at Kanan.
Moving back out onto the platform, Hera watched the pair swinging around the cargo hold in a dance that only they really understood. Every so often Ezra would pause; face screwing up in concentration as he tried to keep up with Fenril's acrobatics around the room. Hera had to admit, Fenril was quite flexible for his age, swinging across the room and heading down the aft bulkhead at speed. Hitting the floor with barely a sound, he looked up and motioned for Hera to move to the side as he continued to twist around the obstacles on the floor.
Moving back into the corner, Hera's jaw dropped at the sight of Fenril suddenly clinging to the railing of the platform. Climbing up, he showed incredible muscle control as he rolled up into a handstand on the uppermost bar. Flipping over and landing lightly on the platform, Fenril paused to wipe his hands quickly before sliding down the ladder and scaling the port bulkhead, only to stop on one of the largest supports out there.
Turning her focus to Ezra, Hera smiled softly as he swung across the ceiling with growing confidence and launched towards the port bulkhead, grabbing a longer straight grip and starting to swing. Arching his back, he let go and soared across the gap, right hand reaching out to snag Fenril's ankle as the older man made a leap towards the ceiling.
'Karabast.' Fenril growled, locking both hands around a straight post hanging down from the ceiling. 'Nice catch, Ezra.'
'Thanks. Now how do we get down from here?' Ezra replied, both hands now secure around Fenril's right ankle.
'Just hold on tight for a moment, I need a better grip.' Fenril guided, starting to swing again and making it to a wider, flat grip.
Heart in her throat as Fenril started swinging again, Hera stared in disbelief at the sight of Fenril picking up momentum and flailing Ezra around like he weighed almost nothing.
'When I tell you, let go of my foot. You'll be safe, I promise.' Fenril directed, continuing to build momentum as he spoke.
'Are you sure about this?' Ezra yelped, struggling to hold on as they picked up speed.
'Yes Ezra, I'm sure about this.' Fenril nodded, locking his gaze on Kanan. 'Now!'
'Whoa!' Ezra cried, sailing across the gap and landing heavily on the platform, right at Kanan's feet. 'Not so hard next time!'
'Sorry. Clear a space, I'm coming across.' Fenril returned, adjusting his grip and picking up speed once again.
Thoroughly impressed by the display, Hera couldn't help but applaud Fenril as he flew across the gap and landed on all fours on the platform. Straightening up, he smiled softly and wiped the sweat from his face as he met Hera's gaze.
'Next time you won't catch me so easily, Ezra.' Fenril chuckled, ruffling Ezra's hair quickly.
'We'll see about that, Fenril.' Ezra grinned, looking up at him happily. 'I'm up for a rematch if you are.'
'Only if Kanan says yes.' Fenril nodded, leaning back on the railing.
'Go ahead, we're limited on training options in hyperspace. It's this, sparring or meditation.' Kanan shrugged, handing Ezra the blindfold again.
'I want another round of this and then we can meditate. I need to burn off some energy so I can concentrate properly.' Ezra nodded, moving to the railing and tying the blindfold into place.
'Try and keep up Ezra.' Fenril taunted, vaulting the railing and dropping to the deck below.
Enjoying the peace of the evening as the team wound down, Kanan smiled softly as he relaxed on the collapsible stool Hera had pulled out. Sabine sat at the table pouting, disappointed that Kanan hadn't asked her to trim his hair this time. He wasn't about to risk ending up with blonde streaks in his ponytail again so he'd asked Fenril to help him instead.
'There's no need to pout Sabine. Some people just don't understand artistic vision.' Fenril chuckled, setting the scissors aside and double checking the length was right. 'That's got it back under control.'
'Thanks Fenril.' Kanan nodded, running one hand through his hair to shake out any loose bits left behind. 'Next time, just tell me you're going to do something like that Sabine.'
'But the blonde looked so cool.' Sabine protested, lifting her head again.
'I'll make you a deal, Sabine.' Fenril offered, cleaning up the mess as Kanan pulled his hair back into his usual ponytail.
'What sort of deal?' Sabine asked, sitting up a little more.
'if you promise to leave Kanan's hair alone, I'll let you put two pink and one blue streak through my hair, right where everyone can see them.' Fenril suggested, glancing at Kanan for a second.
'Really? You'd actually let me do that?' Sabine perked up, her pout turning into a bright smile.
'Promise first and then we can talk colours.' Fenril nodded, starting to loosen the bun he'd taken to wearing.
'I give me word as a Mandalorian that I won't mess with Kanan's hair anymore.' Sabine declared, loud enough for everyone to witness. 'But only for as long as Fenril keeps the streaks in his hair.'
'That wasn't the original deal.' Kanan sighed, turning his gaze to Sabine.
'Its okay, Kanan. I was intending to keep the streaks anyway.' Fenril chuckled, shaking out his hair and turning to Sabine. 'Shall we?'
'Definitely.' Sabine grinned, leading him towards her cabin.
Brushing the hair off his shoulders, Kanan joined Hera and Ezra around the holotable, a little concerned about what the deal might mean for Fenril's look but grateful that he wouldn't need to worry about waking up with weird colours in his hair.
'Well, I seriously doubt anyone would believe that's the same man who caused the Rebellion so much trouble.' Hera smiled, stretching her back quickly.
'Yeah, he's actually a nice guy once you get to know him.' Ezra agreed, looking up from the datapad he was studying.
'He's certainly fitted in here quite nicely.' Kanan nodded, glancing towards Zeb. 'And he's proven to be a valuable asset to everyone.'
'I still don't know about letting Ahsoka and the others meet him. There's a risk they'll recognise him despite the changes.' Zeb sighed, shifting in his chair to face the team.
'He's already said he wants to take that risk. He's got the Empire fooled, it shouldn't be any harder to reassure the Rebellion that he's not the ISB Kallus.' Hera replied, leaning back comfortably. 'I'm sure he's already got a plan on how to deal with Ahsoka.'
'He has but you ain't gonna like it.' Zeb nodded, refusing to meet Hera's gaze. 'He's got two plans prepared, depending on how Ahsoka responds to his presence.'
'Are you going to let us in on these plans?' Kanan asked, lightly touching Hera's shoulder.
'He'd rather keep these plans between us. A lot of it depends on your reactions to whatever he says when the time comes.' Zeb shrugged, running his claws through his beard. 'Ahsoka doesn't really listen to me most of the time but she will pay a lot of attention to you two.'
'I don't like this.' Hera sighed, shaking her head slowly. 'But if that's what Fenril wants to try, I'm willing to follow his lead.'
'Well, he has done right by us since we rescued him.' Kanan nodded, clearly unsure about this idea. 'All we can do is trust him to make the best impression possible.'
'And be there to back him up if something goes wrong.' Ezra added, far more willing to put his faith in Fenril's plans. 'Whatever happens, we can't just abandon him.'
'Don't know about anyone else but I'll leave the Ghost before I abandon Fenril.' Zeb insisted, making it perfectly clear what he thought.
'No one is abandoning anyone. Fenril is a part of this family and I will make that very clear to Ahsoka. She'll have to decide if one man is worth losing our cell over.' Hera declared, refusing to give up on Fenril.
Chapter 6: The Bigger Plan
Doing his best not to show he was nervous, Fenril stayed in close beside Zeb as the crew made their way through the much larger Rebel ship. Looking up at Zeb, he grinned and shifted his grip on the basket of goodies he was carrying. He still wasn't sure this was a good idea but he was willing to try anything to avoid confrontations today. Honestly, he had no idea how sugar cookies and uj'alayi cake were meant to keep him safe but he trusted Sabine's advice. He really needed this to work or he still might end up in a Rebel brig.
Stepping up between Kanan and Hera when signalled, Fenril couldn't help toying with the new pink and blue braid hanging in front of his right ear. Sabine had done really great with the colours, putting in two different shades of pink and adding a touch of deep red along the blue streak to make it clear it was a memorial. It would take some getting used to but Fenril really liked the constant reminder of his family.
Remaining calm as they walked, Kanan glanced at Fenril and smiled faintly as they rounded another corner and came face to face with their first test. The clones had all seen Fenril's face before, back on Seelos and now they were about to find out if Fenril could convince them that he wasn't Agent Kallus.
'You! You're the one responsible for destroying our walker!' Wolffe growled, approaching with a clear intention for violence.
'Wait a minute! You've got the wrong man.' Fenril countered, stepping forward cautiously. 'I'm Fenril Kallus, former independent trader. You're likely after my twin brother Falir Kallus, former ISB Agent.'
'Former Agent?' Rex asked, reaching out to curl one hand over Wolffe's shoulder. 'Easy now Wolffe, hear him out.'
'Yeah, I found out a couple months ago that the Empire murdered my brother. I don't know why, I just know that they killed him.' Fenril nodded, meeting their gaze calmly. 'with his dying breath, he told me who ordered his death and I've spent the last couple of months trying to find a way to get payback for my brother.'
'I'm sorry to hear that.' Rex offered, extending one hand in greeting. 'The name's Rex, this is Wolffe and that's Gregor.'
'It's nice to meet you all.' Fenril replied, wrapping his hand around Rex's forearm.
'Sorry about jumping to conclusions.' Wolffe added, also greeting Fenril in the Mando'a way.
'Happens all the time, Wolffe. People regularly mistake me for my brother.' Fenril shrugged, offering out the basket. 'I remember that clones always had a sweet tooth so I baked these.'
'You made uj cake?' Gregor asked, peeking into the basket.
'Sabine gave me the recipe. The sugar cookies are an old family recipe.' Fenril grinned, glancing back over his shoulder at Kanan. 'Some things never change. I used to make a few extra credits selling mom's sugar cookies outside the Guard barracks on Coruscant.'
'Sounds like something Fox would have loved.' Rex nodded; a hint of sadness in his gaze.
'I didn't mean to bring up bad memories.' Fenril sighed, reaching out to rest one hand on Rex's shoulder lightly.
'It's okay; it's good to remember my brothers. There are so few of us left now.' Rex shrugged, rolling his eyes when Gregor stole a cookie from the basket. 'Thanks for these; it's the nicest thing anyone's done for us in a while.'
'Enjoy them; I'll do my best to keep supplying them whenever I can.' Fenril chuckled, satisfied that the clones were on his side now. 'We'll talk again later, okay.'
'We'll be around.' Rex replied, ushering his brothers away with talk of dividing up their treats.
Feeling far more confident about this plan as they approached the bridge, Fenril followed the rest of his second family through the doors and stopped beside Ezra and Sabine, looking around slowly and taking in everything around him. He really should have known that the Rebellion was fer better organised than the propaganda stated but this was something else entirely. He felt strangely privileged to be allowed to stand on the bridge of their flagship even though most people here didn't know who he was.
Tugging lightly on his pink and blue braid, Fenril relaxed a little more and looked up at Zeb with a grin. If things kept going like this, they would most likely have enough time and energy for something sensual later. Of course, getting some personal time depended entirely on what the rest of the crew had planned.
'What's this I hear about you trying to bribe my best troops, brother?' a semi-familiar voice called, drawing Fenril's attention away from his crew.
Turning to face the speaker, Fenril jumped back in shock, eyes wide in disbelief at the sight of a face long unseen. He almost didn't recognise her in her khaki uniform, dark grey abdominal armour, bracers, shoulder guards and kneepads. A closer look and his jaw dropped. There was no mistaking the long red hair, dazzling bright green eyes and freckles sprinkled across her nose and cheeks.
'Carinsa! I thought I'd never see you again.' Fenril cried, opening his arms to her and holding her close. 'I missed you so much.'
'I missed you too, Fenril.' she replied, hiding her face in his shoulder. 'Where have you been? I've been trying to reach you for months.'
'I've been trying to get answers. I'll explain everything in just a minute, I promise.' Fenril sighed, drawing away slowly and turning to his friends. 'Everyone, this is my baby sister Carinsa. Sister, I'm sure you already know the Ghost crew.'
'Yes brother, I know the Ghost crew.' Carinsa laughed, refusing to let go of him. 'I married a few years ago, that's why no one realised I was actually born a Kallus.'
'What of Tracim?' Fenril asked, looking back to Carinsa.
'Last I heard, she'd headed to Tatooine to rescue her daughter from Jabba the Hutt. She left her husband after he lost Nurlyn in a card game and has been chasing her ever since.' Carinsa shrugged, not too concerned for their oldest sibling. 'She'll be fine, you know Tracim is tough. Have you heard anything of Falir?'
'That's actually why I'm here.' Fenril sighed, drawing away slowly. 'This won't be easy for you to hear Carinsa but you need to hear it.'
Patting Chopper's dome lightly as the troublesome droid nudged his leg, Fenril sighed softly and looked towards the senior staff. Swallowing quickly, he met Commander Sato's gaze and waited for permission to tell his story.
'I am sure that many of you here have had dealings with my twin brother, ISB Agent Falir Kallus. Five months ago, I picked up an emergency beacon on TD-153-H and made the choice to assist in any way possible. It was there that I learned just how cruel the Empire could be. It was there that I realised that no one is safe anymore. This is what I found on that dust ball of a backwater nowhere.' Fenril started, glancing down at Chopper. 'Play the footage Chop.'
Plugging into the main terminal, Chopper blurted a quiet comment as the footage began to play. Sabine had found the recording device in the wreckage and salvaged it, putting her skills to the test to recover some of the footage that had been lost when a stray bolt hit the recorder. Right there in front of them, playing in washed out blues, Fenril hobbled into view, his uniform torn and the flesh beneath scorched by blaster bolts. His right arm hung uselessly, blood running down the bared skin where his sleeve had been torn away. Turning slowly, revealing more injuries across his back and left side, he set his feet and lifted his Bo-rifle again. Opening fire, he tried to keep backing up but his right leg gave out and he dropped, landing in a heap on the ground as five stormtroopers entered the scene. Spreading out, they surrounded Fenril but strangely they kept their weapons lowered.
Then the beating began, three kicking at him relentlessly as the other two went to one knee and started in with their fists. Barely visible in the middle of the group, Fenril curled up as best he could, his Bo-rifle clutched to his chest as he tried to protect himself from the hail of blows.
'That's enough Chopper.' Kanan uttered, moving forward to rest a supportive hand on Fenril's shoulder. 'Take your time Fenril, we're here.'
'By the time I arrived, those five troopers were long gone, leaving my brother alone in agony. I don't know how long he held on for, waiting for a rescue that never came until it was too late. There was nothing anyone could have done, he was almost gone by the time I found him. With his dying breath, he told me who had ordered his death. I promised that he would be avenged and held him until he finally succumbed to his injuries.' Fenril continued, voice thick with grief as silent tears fell.
'No! Not like this! Falir!' Carinsa cried, dropping to her knees. 'No, he didn't deserve this. Not Falir, he was a good man.'
'We'll make them pay for this, Carinsa.' Zeb promised, coming around to kneel beside her. 'We'll see that Falir's killer is bought to justice.'
'My brother made mistakes in life, I don't disagree with that but no one deserves to be tortured like he was. He was trying to make right, he'd tell me Imp secrets whenever we were together and I passed them onto you as promised. He was the one to tell me about the Empire hatch on every ship. He taught you how to track Imp ships in hyperspace and how to modulate your weapons to pierce Imp shields. He stole secrets from all over the Empire and passed them to me, knowing that I would hand them to the Rebellion.' Fenril sighed, moving around the terminal to stand before Sato.
Standing back and watching in disbelief at what Fenril had come up with, Kanan waited to see what else he would do. He certainly didn't expect Fenril to pull several data sticks from his pocket and hold them out in both hands.
'This is everything my brother stole from the Empire. From fleet positions to Imp protocols, enlistment data to weapons shipments and everything in between. There's even a list of Imperial prison planets in the mix.' Fenril offered, meeting Sato's gaze calmly. 'I will give it all to you but I ask one small thing in return.'
'What do you require?' Sato asked, cupping his hands under Fenril's.
'An Imp shuttle and a few of your troops. I have a plan that will gain the Rebellion a valuable prisoner and avenge the murder of my brother.' Fenril replied, letting a few of the data sticks fall into Sato's hands. 'I only need to borrow five of your men and I promise I will do my best to make sure they all get back safely.'
'Only five? I thought you said it was standard for an ISB Agent to travel with six troopers.' Hera remarked, glancing at Kanan for a moment.
'Kanan will be number six. His Force abilities will be very useful.' Fenril nodded, not taking his attention away from Sato. 'Do we have a deal Commander?'
'We do have a shuttle that you can use.' Sato offered, inclining his head fractionally. 'We have a deal Fenril.'
'I hope this Intel can turn the tide against the Empire.' Fenril smiled, pouring the data sticks into Sato's hands.
Stepping forward, Rex smiled faintly as his brothers followed him past the holotable in the middle of the room. Waiting a moment for Commander Sato to move aside, they came to attention and met Fenril's gaze calmly.
'You only need two more, Fenril. We know how to mimic stormtroopers and I've got a few codes that will allow us to board any ship without trouble.' Rex nodded, totally calm in the face of a highly dangerous mission.
'Are you sure about this Gregor? I know that you're a little more excitable than your brothers and this mission depends entirely on stealth and perfection.' Fenril questioned, needing to be absolutely certain.
'I can do this, Sir. I know I can be a little twitchy at times but when it counts, I'm solid as a rock.' Gregor replied, steady and focused on Fenril.
'Alright, I'll give you a chance.' Fenril agreed, letting his shoulders drop a little. 'Wolffe? You sure about this mission?'
'I know what it's like to lose a brother. I'm with ya Fenril.' Wolffe confirmed, sounding far more confident that Fenril felt.
'Thank you, all of you. I really appreciate your help with this matter.' Fenril smiled, clasping their forearms firmly. 'I'll be relying on you to keep the other troopers under control and looking the part. One mistake and we're all in for a rough time.'
'We'll take care of everyone.' Rex promised, pride lighting his eyes as he clasped Fenril's arm.
Satisfied with his team so far, Fenril hesitated at the sight of his sister regaining her feet, clutching at Zeb's arm as tears streaked down her face. Slipping past the clones, Fenril shook his head as she opened her mouth. He knew what she was about to say and he wasn't going to let her get away with it.
'No, Carinsa. The Empire has already taken Falir, I will not risk you as well. I need you here, safe from the clutches of the beast that murdered our blood. I know there is a chance that I won't come back from this mission, I accept that risk but I cannot let you take the same risk. If I fall, it will be on your shoulders to continue the push for payback.' Fenril insisted, refusing to meet Zeb's shocked eyes. 'I trust that you three can find two suitable bodies to fill the Squad.'
'Leave it with us.' Rex nodded, glancing at Carinsa. 'Not a chance, Carinsa. We're not risking you just so you can prove a point.'
'When you've found the rest of the team, meet me on the Ghost for a private briefing.' Fenril directed, flicking his gaze to Hera to make sure she was okay with this.
'We'll be there.' Wolffe replied, also looking to Hera. 'Looking forward to working with the crew again, Captain.'
'The feeling is mutual Commander.' Hera smiled, nodding to the trio. 'Commander Sato, where is this shuttle? I would like to look it over before the mission.'
'Currently it is in the hanger of our carrier.' Sato replied, turning to Hera. 'Fenril, please try to bring it back in one piece. We only have one at the moment.'
'I will do my best Commander.' Fenril agreed, returning to his crew. 'As soon as my team is organised, we will begin preparations for this mission.'
'I wish you the best of luck with it.' Sato nodded, turning back to his other responsibilities as the Ghost crew left the bridge.
'Well that went better than expected.' Fenril sighed, slumping down in the common room.
'That was your plan? Why couldn't you tell us?' Kanan asked, not happy about being hauled into a potentially deadly mission.
'Honestly, my plan went out the airlock when my sister showed up. Everything after that was unplanned.' Fenril admitted, loosening his hair and shaking it out. 'I didn't mention my idea to go after Admiral Konstantine because I knew you would try to stop me bringing it up. I need to do this, I need to see him taken out of commission before he realises he's been tricked and I'm still out in the galaxy.'
'Yeah but you're talking about a direct attack on an Imperial Star Destroyer. That's not just a crazy plan, its suicide.' Sabine added, still coming to terms with this plan.
'Not a direct attack, Sabine. That wouldn't gain us anything. This will be a stealth mission, in and out before anyone realises what's going on. It's not going to be easy, but I have confidence in the team and this mission.' Fenril grinned, squaring his shoulders as he turned to Kanan. 'If you really want out, I can run this without you but the odds of getting everyone out again reduce dramatically.'
'You never mentioned that this might be your last mission.' Zeb sighed, lifting his gaze slowly.
'I'll do my best to make it back Zeb but this is risky. I'll be walking straight into enemy territory with no Intel about who knows about my status. For all we know, the bucket-heads have already figured it out and are actively hunting me down.' Fenril shrugged, unrepentant for his choice but also planning to make it up to Zeb once he got back from the mission.
'You still should have mentioned this plan to us, Fenril. We're a team, you know we'll support you.' Hera remarked, shaking her head slowly.
'I know Hera and I'm sorry but this was something I had to do on my own. I can't hide for the rest of my life, it's time I got proactive in this Rebellion.' Fenril nodded, refusing to even think about what might happen if Hera stopped trusting him.
Surprising everyone, Sabine slid to her feet and approached Fenril, reaching out to wrap her arms around him in a loving hug. Looking up when Fenril returned the hug, she smiled and relaxed into him. She still worried that he wouldn't make it back but she was determined to do whatever she could to give him the best change of returning to the Ghost.
'What can we do to help?' she asked, squeezing him closer for a moment.
'We're going to need six sets of stormtrooper armour.' Fenril grinned, stroking her back lightly.
'I can handle that, just need a pilot and the Phantom.' Zeb nodded, getting to his feet. 'Up for a little fun Sabine?'
'Well, I was going to work on a few little devices that Fenril and the others could take along just in case.' Sabine sighed, reluctantly letting go of Fenril. 'But it won't take me long to make those so I can do both.'
'You'll have plenty of time for creating your explosives, Sabine. We won't leave until the team can pass inspection.' Fenril soothed, lifting her chin gently. 'Go have some fun with the bucket-heads and then we'll discuss the best way to hide your bombs.'
'What else do you need?' Hera asked, giving the pair her blessing to take the Phantom and gather the trooper armour required for this mission.
'We don't have the time or resources to capture another ISB Agent so we'll have to make that uniform from scratch. I'm not sure how we'll go with making the helmet, cuirass and boots though.' Fenril shrugged, scratching at his beard quickly.
'I can make the soft uniform and there is a team on the cruiser that specialises in making all sorts of disguises for our people. They should be able to replicate the needed armour and boots if you can provide them with plenty of reference material and the proper dimensions.' Hera nodded, getting to her feet. 'I'll also need references for the uniform.'
'I have just what you need. It's all in my cabin.' Fenril replied, starting to feel more confident about this mission. 'Ezra, under the top bunk you'll find a thin grey box. Could you please go grab it for us?'
'Sure, anything to help.' Ezra grinned, getting up and heading for the cabins.
'Anything else we need to get ready?' Kanan asked, getting up and coming around to rest one hand on Fenril's shoulder lightly.
'Sure, there's still a lot to organise but we'll need more space. This mission depends on passing as any ordinary ISB Agent and trooper detachment. We're going to have to spend some time drilling and making sure it's all sorted in our heads.' Fenril sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. 'I have a feeling we're both going to be hurting by the time this is over.'
'We'll manage. We always do.' Kanan grinned, still anxious about the mission but he had to trust Fenril knew what he was doing.
Lifting his gaze slowly when the hatch opened, Zeb sighed heavily and looked away, shoulders drooping as he shifted on his bunk until he had his left foot on the floor and right foot on the bunk. He didn't usually put a lot of thought into understanding his creams but the last week had been rough, his subconscious mind throwing up all sorts of horrific scenarios whenever he tried to sleep. He tried to ignore the dreams but now that the preparation for this mission was underway, they were getting even worse. He couldn't help it, he was nervous that Fenril wouldn't make it back from the Relentless.
Hanging his head, Fenril tugged off his boots and set them aside neatly before stripping down to his pants and undershirt and padding over to sit beside Zeb. Leaning into him, Fenril closed his eyes and sighed softly as he reached out to squeeze Zeb's arm lightly. He knew Zeb was suffering, the nightmares were clearly getting worse but Zeb kept insisting that it was nothing to worry about.
'I will come back Zeb. I promise you, I'm going to come back to you.' Fenril uttered, pressing closer to Zeb's back. 'No matter what, I will make it home.'
'I want to believe you Fenril. I just can't shake the feeling that this will be the end for us.' Zeb admitted, still not looking at Fenril. 'My dreams are filled with all the ways this could go wrong.'
Doing his best to reassure Zeb that he would come back, Fenril got up and moved over two steps before settling in Zeb's lap. It wasn't exactly comfortable but at least he could look into Zeb's face again. Reaching up, Fenril plucked a small fabric bag from where he'd hidden it weeks previous and turned his attention back to his love.
'I love you Garazeb Orrelios. No matter what life throws at us, I will always find my way back to your arms after every mission. I give you this as a reminder of my promise.' Fenril offered, opening the bag and pulling out an ornate pendant on a heavy cord.
Recognising the pendant, Zeb dipped his head a little and smiled softly as Fenril secured the cord around his throat. He didn't want to know where Fenril got a pair of courting pendants but he was certainly pleased to have them. The pendant was perfectly circular, containing a multicoloured eight pointed star with a shimmering red stone at the heart. Taking the bag from Fenril, Zeb tipped the second pendant into his hand and smiled softly as he lifted his gaze.
'I love you Fenril Kallus. No matter what life throws at us, I will always find my way back to your arms after every mission. I give you this as a reminder of my promise.' Zeb repeated, securing the cord around Fenril's neck. 'You complete my soul, my heart.'
'You complete my soul, my heart.' Fenril uttered, leaning up to steal a sweet kiss.
Cradling Fenril to his chest, Zeb rocked over backwards, settling on their shared bunk with a contented hum as Fenril settled over him. This was what he needed right now, the comforting weight of his chosen lover draped over him, two hearts beating in harmony as they relaxed again. There were still unspoken fears, Zeb knew better than to drop everything on Fenril right before a big mission. At least they had started to clear the air, Zeb couldn't ask for much more right now.
Snuggling in closer, Fenril sighed softly as he relaxed but he knew sleep wouldn't come easily. He was nervous about the upcoming mission but he didn't want to worry Zeb so he kept quiet. For now the worries and fears could wait, tomorrow would be soon enough to face the risks and consider if this mission was even possible. Eyes slipping closed, Fenril relaxed into the loving embrace of his mate and hoped that sleep would come soon for him.
Not really aware of the passing of time, his mind hazy as he finally starts to drift, Fenril bolted back to full awareness when Zeb let out a pained whine and started twitching in his sleep. Holding tighter to his love, Fenril tried to reassure Zeb without waking him but the nightmare refused to slip away quietly. Trying to avoid waking the rest of the crew, knowing their penchant for asking uncomfortable questions, Fenril did the only thing he could. Leaning up quickly, he kissed Zeb, swallowing the scream he let out as he surged into full alertness again.
Barely coherent, Zeb tightened his grip on the body pressed against him and tried to relax, hands drifting over familiar lines and curves to reassure his troubled mind that Fenril was still with him. The nightmares weren't real, his love was right here with him, safe and unharmed. Shuddering at the memory of the nightmare, Zeb tried to relax but fear drove him to keep a secure grip on Fenril.
'Shhh, you're okay Zeb. I'm still here, its okay now. It's just a nightmare, we're both fine.' Fenril muttered, cupping his cheeks lightly. 'I've got you, we're okay.'
'Fenril. I…I can't stop worrying.' Zeb whispered, ears drooping in distress.
'Hey, I promised I would come back and I meant it.' Fenril insisted, tightening his grip and half flipping them on the bunk.
'What are you doing?' Zeb asked, planting one hand on the bulkhead behind them so he didn't crush Fenril.
'Proving my point.' Fenril replied, settling on his back and tugging Zeb down to him.
'How is this proving anything?' Zeb sighed, careful not to crush Fenril as they wriggled around together in search of a comfortable spot.
Finally Fenril managed to get Zeb stretched out by his side, head resting on his chest and snuggled in close. It wasn't a perfect position but it would suit them for one night so Fenril could do his best to chase away Zeb's nightmares.
'Shhh, just listen.' Fenril uttered, tracing his fingers over Zeb's scalp. 'Listen and sleep safe in the knowledge that I will never leave you.'
'I want to believe you Fenril. I really do.' Zeb sighed, tucking him closer and trying to relax
'I will come back. Nothing could stop me coming back to you.' Fenril insisted, felling the pull of sleep again. 'Don't even think about moving. You're right where I need you.'
Letting his eyes drift close, Zeb doesn't even try to move, listening to the soft beating of Fenril's heart and feeling each steady breath. Shifting into a slightly more comfortable position, Zeb mentally prayed that this time the nightmares would stay away and surrendered willingly to his need for rest. Within minutes he was deep in pleasant dreams, anchored by the repetitive thump of Fenril's golden heart.
Chapter 7: Relentless Assault
I promise, after this chapter I will refocus on the growing romance between Kallus and Zeb. I felt driven to write this attempt at a plot of some sort. But from here on out, there's going to be a lot more kissing and snuggling with just a tiny bit of plot.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Deciding not to ask where the uniforms had come from, the small strike team collected their stolen armour and scattered to change. Well, three of them tried to find privacy in the hanger but the three clones didn't really care anymore. They had no body shames, even if they were carrying extra weight nowadays. Striping to their underwear beside the shuttle, they helped each other with the pilfered bodysuits and plating.
'I still think this is a crazy idea.' Wolffe muttered, groaning at the snug fit of the armour.
'It's not my idea of fun either.' Rex agreed, wincing as he secured his chestplate.
'There are worse things we could be doing.' Gregor shrugged, leaning against the shuttle to get his backplate secured properly. 'Carinsa wanted us training the newest members of the crew.'
'Oh fek, I'd forgotten about that standing order.' Wolffe groaned, struggling with the cuisses. 'Uh, little help here.'
'I've got it.' Rex sighed, easing down to one knee and helping to fasten the plates down Wolffe's legs. 'Face it; we really could use a break from ship duties around here.'
'No arguments there.' Gregor agreed, sinking down to help Rex with the very same plates. 'But are we really the right guys for this job?'
'There's no other choice. We'll just have to do our best.' Wolffe shrugged, slipping his boots on and reaching for his spaulders. 'Besides, Fenril seems to think we can manage this.'
Fully armoured up and with his hair pulled up into a bun so it didn't interfere with the helmet seals, Kanan emerged from behind the crates he'd used for shelter as he finished shoving his clothes into the small pack he'd been handed. Securing his boots to the outside, he slung it over his shoulder and picked up his helmet and lightsaber.
'Where are we leaving our clothes?' he asked, looking around quickly.
'I'll look after that, love.' Hera smiled, coming over and taking his pack. 'We'll be close in case of trouble but we're hoping to keep this mission simple.'
'Nothing is ever simple, Hera.' Kanan sighed, turning and heading towards the shuttle. 'I just hope this one doesn't turn into a disaster.'
Still trying to get their armour to sit properly, the clones bagged up their normal outfits and set them safely off to the side as they wandered over to stand beside Kanan. Tutting softly, Rex reached out to reposition certain pieces of Kanan's armour, getting him up to standards with practised ease.
'Loran! Celchu! Move it!' Wolffe bellowed, still hopeful that their last two troopers could pull this off but it was doubtful.
'How does anyone wear this stuff?' Tycho Celchu groused, walking like he had an iron rod jammed up his ass.
'Talk about uncomfortable.' Garik Loran agreed, still trying to get his bracers secured.
'Oh for kriff's sake.' Gregor sighed, accepting Wolffe's helmet quickly. 'Is it really that difficult to armour up?'
'Apparently it is.' Rex groaned, shaking his head slowly. 'Get over here Loran!'
'Is it too late to find some other volunteers for this?' Kanan asked, catching Rex's helmet.
'I doubt Fenril would agree to that.' Gregor shrugged, resting his butt on a handy crate.
'Yeah, he wants this mission over with.' Kanan agreed, tugging at the collar of his bodysuit. 'I don't know how anyone finds this comfortable.'
'I guess you have to be born to it.' Gregor chuckled, relaxing a little more. 'There's something familiar about being back in armour…even if it is Imperial rubbish.'
'Personally, the sooner I get out of this armour, the better.' Kanan sighed, settling beside Gregor and waiting for the rest of the team.
Finally getting Tycho and Garik organised and armoured up properly, Rex stepped back and let Wolffe take them through a few drills as he started working on installing new targeting chips into each helmet and carbine. These chips wouldn't fix all their problems but hopefully they would do enough to improve their accuracy that no one else realised they were fakes.
'Still think we can pull this off?' Kanan asked, turning his gaze towards the two repurposed pilots drilling nearby.
'We don't have much choice. So long as those two keep quiet and everyone knows their left foot from their right, we should be okay.' Rex grinned, fitting the last chip and slipping on his bucket as he picked up one of the carbines. 'I just hope our flyboys can shoot straight.'
'This is going to be a long mission.' Kanan groaned, accepting his helmet and carbine.
'It could always be worse.' Gregor shrugged, slipping his bucket on and checking the new accuracy aids.
'We're out of time, I hear Fenril coming.' Kanan warned, straightening up and slapping his helmet on quickly.
'Form up!' Rex snapped, stepping up beside Kanan as the rest of the team scrambled to get into the proper formation.
Everyone in the hanger stopped and watched as Fenril made his entrance, boot heels clicking softly against the deck plates with each measured step. If not for the pink and blue braid tucked behind his right ear, people could easily forget that he was a key member of the Ghost crew. He looked so intimidating in the replicated ISB uniform, every seam and panel perfectly matching the diagrams he'd provided. His armour gleamed faintly, rank insignia sparkling under the bright lights and helmet tucked securely under his right arm.
It wasn't until people saw the hint of mischief in his mismatched gaze or the faint grin on his lips that they were reminded that he wasn't the same Agent who had caused them so much trouble in the past.
'Sabine, are those special crates loaded up?' Fenril called, smile growing as Zeb fell into step beside him.
'Yep, four vacuum bombs loaded up as requested.' Sabine replied, coming down the ramp. 'I even knocked up a few special toys for the team. Left them sitting on the bench in there.'
'Thank you Sabine.' Fenril nodded, hugging her close for a moment. 'I knew I could count on you to get that organised.'
'Just make sure you come back alive.' Sabine insisted, breaking away and grabbing the remaining clothing packs. 'See you on the other side.'
'That's the plan, Sabine.' Fenril agreed, turning back to his team. 'Well, are we mission ready Rex or do we need to waste more time?'
'We're mission ready, so long as you're willing to adjust the formation a little.' Rex nodded, slipping his helmet off. 'Loran and Celchu aren't fully up to standard but if we put them beside Wolffe and Gregor instead of in front of them, we should get away with it.'
'Make it work, Rex. You'll have the flight out to the Relentless to get these two squared away properly. Kanan's flying this one and I'm co-piloting it.' Fenril nodded, eyes narrowing dangerously when Loran let out a noise of complaint. 'I am not letting some wild fighter pilot ruin this mission because he can't fly a straight line.'
'I'll go make sure we're flight ready.' Kanan nodded, slipping his bucket off as he strode up the ramp. 'We still need the tracking code.'
'Hook this up to the nav computer.' Fenril replied, tossing him a small device. 'I'm not expecting miracles but at least get these two up to rookie status before we reach that destroyer.'
'We'll do our best.' Rex nodded, making his way up the ramp. 'Loran! That's your right foot! I said by the left!'
'This is never going to work.' Fenril muttered, hiding his face in his hand.
Reaching out and pulling Fenril to him, Zeb held his love close and tried to reassure him that the mission would be a success. There wasn't much he could say, he still wasn't totally confident that everything would be okay but he had to try to help Fenril through this.
'You can do this, Fenril. I believe in you.' Zeb uttered, being extra careful not to crease Fenril's uniform. 'I'll be waiting for you when the mission is over.'
'When this is over, I want to take our relationship to the next level. I'm tired of people asking if this is what I want.' Fenril whispered, clinging tighter to Zeb.
'I'll organise something special for us.' Zeb nodded, already planning how to pull off a special ceremony just for them. 'I love you, my heart. You complete my soul.'
'I love you, my heart. You complete my soul.' Fenril repeated, forgetting about everyone else as he pulled Zeb in for a kiss. 'I will be home soon.'
'I'll be waiting, no matter how long it takes.' Zeb promised, relaxing his grip slowly. 'Be safe, my love. I'll be right here to welcome you home and show the galaxy that you are my love.'
'I can hardly wait to take you as my permanent love.' Fenril admitted, stretching up for another sweet kiss.
'Go on…before I beg you to stay.' Zeb sighed, accepting the kiss before gently pushing Fenril back a step. 'Go on, this needs to be done.'
'Wait for my return, my heart.' Fenril requested, slipping on his helmet and heading for the ship.
'I will always wait.' Zeb nodded, backing up a step and resisting the urge to follow Fenril on this mission. 'No matter what happens.'
'Alright Fenril…what's the real story of Falir?' Kanan sighed, leaning back in his seat. 'We're alone and I want answers. Did he ever exist or is he some trick?'
'Falir did exist, many years ago. We were born on Saleucami, 36 years ago. Falir was a surprise; our parents weren't prepared for twins…much less one with so many medical problems. They did their best for him but he was always a weak, sickly child. Our parents saved up every credit they could and eventually moved the family from Saleucami to the lower levels of Coruscant.' Fenril sighed, looking away from Kanan.
'Go on.' Kanan coaxed, reaching out to lightly rest his hand on Fenril's arm.
'There used to be an agency on Coruscant that helped destitute families climb up out of poverty and start new lives and businesses. They would give monthly financial support, based on the number of children in the family and what the family was doing to better their situation. We got a little extra because Falir was so sick all the time. My parents worked hard, opening up a small diner in the lower levels and charging a fair value for their simple fare. It wasn't much but people liked it and our case officer liked what he was seeing so the financial aid kept coming.' Fenril continued, unpinning his bright braid and starting to play with it.
For a few minutes there was silence in the cockpit as Kanan tried to come to terms with what he was hearing and Fenril battled with the memories of his past.
'Everything was okay for a little while, we even had enough to get Falir the medical help he needed but it wasn't enough. We were six when he died. I woke up in the middle of the night, a bad dream I think and reached out to make sure Falir was still at the other end of the bed. He was so cold and still, I couldn't wake him so I ran to wake our parents. Mother held her remaining children close as father took Falir's body away. I still don't know what happened to the body and I don't really want to know. The next day, our parents started training us on how to respond if anyone asked where Falir was. They were afraid that our monthly payments would be reduced with Falir's death, so they worked out a plan to make everyone believe that he was still alive. They knew that a reduced payment would make it harder to achieve their goals of a good education for their children and a nice restaurant somewhere in the upper levels.'
'And no one realised Falir was actually dead?' Kanan asked, astounded by what he was hearing.
'There were a few close calls but we managed to keep the secret. It wasn't easy, especially for me but I did it for my family. My parents enrolled me in school twice, once under my own name and then again, after a bit of makeup and a blanket wrap, as Falir. I had to do twice the work, completing my own work to the best of my abilities and making more mistakes with Falir's work until I graduated twice. Whenever our care officer came to check up on us, my parents would tell them that I was at school and let the officer see me tucked up in bed with my sick makeup. We kept up the ruse for years, even after my parents opened their restaurant near the Senate and I made the choice to enter the Academy. It was just easier to keep it going rather than risk the secret being discovered.' Fenril shrugged, slumping back in his chair.
Once again the cockpit went silent, neither man sure what to say next. Fenril kept tugging at his bright pink and blue braid, twisting it around his fingers and looking at the twisting colours. Beside him, Kanan bowed his head and tried to understand the heavy burden that Fenril had been living with for so long. It sounded completely insane but somehow Fenril had made it work to his advantage.
'Surely you considered letting go of the mistruth when you were accepted into the ISB.' Kanan sighed, glancing at Fenril again.
'I considered it, but I'd already signed up as F Kallus just in case I had to bring Falir out again. Turned out to be a smart move, I would sometimes confuse several Admirals to no one knew exactly where I was and sneak off the ship. I'd hire a random freighter and spend some time as an independent trader, probing fleet security from the outside and finding dissidents in the ranks. No one figured out how Agent Kallus knew about some of their secret plots and hidden grudges against the Empire.' Fenril chuckled, smiling faintly at the memories.
'So why choose to let go of Falir now? Surely he could have remained useful.' Kanan pushed, determined to find out everything.
'I've been living a double life for 31 years, Kanan. I'm tired of having to maintain both stories, constantly worrying that someone would figure out that Falir doesn't exist. Besides, if I want any chance of a life with Zeb, I've got to get rid of Falir for good.' Fenril nodded, shifting in his seat and meeting Kanan's gaze. 'When this mission is finished and we're away from the fleet, I'll tell the rest of the crew the truth.'
'I'll hold you to that.' Kanan promised, still trying to understand everything he'd been told. 'I have no idea how you managed to keep the secret for so long.'
'A little makeup to look paler than normal, messy hair and an altered accent. No one understood how such a weak, uncouth man could possibly be related to uptight Agent Kallus.' Fenril chuckled, running one hand over his hair. 'It was actually refreshing to be Captain Falir. He was flirtatious but rather crude as well.'
'You got slapped a few times?' Kanan grinned, turning his attention back to the instruments.
'More than a few times. Got to a point that the slaps stopped hurting.' Fenril replied, absently rubbing his cheek. 'But I figured that so long as Agent Kallus and Captain Kallus were total opposites, no one would realise they were the same person.'
'I can see that working.' Kanan agreed, relaxing a little more now that he understood the basics.
'My friend, you have no idea how crass I can be with the right motivation.' Fenril smirked, adjusting his seat again. 'I knew this harness was going to be uncomfortable but this is crazy.'
'What harness?' Kanan asked, glancing at Fenril again.
'Ezra suggested it as a way to hide your lightsaber from view. Basically it's two straps attached to my lower belt. It's a simple matter of hooking your lightsaber into the breakaway clips and no one should be any the wiser to it being there until you need it.' Fenril explained, getting up and lifting the back of his tunic.
'Not a bad idea.' Kanan nodded, picking up his lightsaber and reaching out to hook it up. 'I'll have to thank Ezra for that one.'
'Next time I hope he comes up with a more comfortable design.' Fenril muttered, walking around the cockpit to get a feel for the lightsaber now hanging near his butt.
'Just don't fart on my lightsaber.' Kanan chuckled, feeling a little more confident in this mission now that he knew how important it was.
'I'll try not to.' Fenril countered, leaning on the back of his seat.
Maintaining his steady calm despite the risks, Fenril refused to let his nerves show as they made their way towards the bridge of the Relentless. So far everything was going to plan, they'd even managed to their vacuum bombs behind the fleet before coming in to land in the main hanger of the Relentless. No one had noticed the bombs either, the installed sensor packages eliminating them from Imperial scopes and the initial delivery positions carefully considered to hide them from sight. As long as their luck held, there was no reason why this mission wouldn't go exactly as planned.
Activating the electro-visor that had been installed in the replicated ISB helmet, Fenril stepped out of the turbolift and nodded faintly as Kanan, Garik and Tycho returned to their positions behind him. Waiting a few moments for the second turbolift to arrive, Fenril's eyebrows shot up as the doors opened and two unconscious officers tumbled out.
'Do I even want to know?' he asked, watching as Wolffe and Rex dragged the officers back into the turbolift.
'Blue farted, knocked them out cold.' Gregor replied, taking his place behind Kanan and beside Garik. 'He does that sometimes.'
'Is it repeatable?' Kanan asked, turning his attention to Rex.
'Not immediately but give me a few minutes and I can unleash another.' Rex nodded, taking his place beside Kanan.
'That might be useful.' Fenril noted, squaring his shoulders. 'Let's get this done.'
Making their way towards the bridge, Fenril let a faint smirk touch his lips. He was looking forward to another meeting with Admiral Konstantine. Their last meeting had been quite painful for Fenril but this time he came prepared and would make sure that Konstantine never forgot the day that he lost so much to a Kallus. His smirk only grew when Rex quietly mentioned that he had another stinker ready and waiting for the order to unleash it.
'I want to make sure no one gets off the bridge so drop it just inside the door.' Fenril directed, keeping his voice down so the security system didn't pick up on it.
'Copy that.' Rex replied, giving no hint of the horrors about to be unleashed.
Striding onto the bridge, Rex calmly stepped out of formation and smiled softly behind his bucket as Wolffe slipped forward to take his position. Even as Wolffe moved up, Gregor also inched forward, taking Wolffe's place in the formation. Concentrating for a few moments, Rex dropped the silent surprise and returned to the formation, sliding in beside Tycho.
'I was not informed of…' Konstantine started, turning to the group.
'Oh shut up you snivelling coward.' Fenril snarled, reaching for his Bo-rifle. 'Kassius is mine to deal with. Deal with the rest quietly.'
'Yes Sir.' Wolffe nodded, dropping the nearest Imp with a precise headshot.
Mostly ignoring the chaos that broke out at the order, Fenril deactivated the visor on his helmet as he activated his Bo-rifle as he stepped forward. Lip curling in anger, he met Konstantine's shocked gaze and nodded faintly.
'You murdered my brother! For that you will pay dearly.' Fenril promised, lashing out at another Imp who got too close to them. 'I know that he died in agony, beaten and broken, all because you ordered it!'
'He was a traitor!' Kassius replied, fumbling for the small holdout blaster hidden under his tunic.
'That does not mean he deserved to be tortured!' Fenril snapped, lunging and hitting Kassius with the end of his Bo-rifle.
'So you will claim my life for his?' Kassius groaned, swaying on his feet as he lifted the small pistol. 'The Empire will hunt you down for this.'
'No, they will hunt you down. Word is already spreading that you are responsible for everything that happens here.' Fenril countered, spinning his Bo-rifle and slamming Konstantine with another electroshock.
Closing up his Bo-rifle as Konstantine dropped to his knees, Fenril kicked the discarded pistol across the deck as he pulled the binders from his belt. Trusting in his team to watch his back, Fenril secured the Admiral and dragged him to his feet as the last member of the bridge crew died on Kanan's blade.
'You two,' Fenril called, pointing to Tycho and Garik. 'Make sure he doesn't move.'
'We've got him.' Tycho nodded, grabbing Kassius' arm and forcing him back to his knees.
'Get to work. Remember the steps and call it as we go.' Fenril directed, hustling back to the main controls as the clones scatter to various panels and Kanan takes his place in the middle of the raised bridge.
Keeping a firm grip on the Admiral, Tycho and Garik watched in wonder as their five team-mates started pressing buttons and pulling levers all around the bridge. As each button or leaver was activated, whoever did it called out a number, the actions building up in a slow count as they continued to work. The two pilots had no idea what all of this was for but whatever it was, they didn't want to be on the Relentless when it happened.
'36...37...38.' Kanan called, flipping two switches and hitting a button.
'39.' Rex added, pulling a larger lever.
'40.' Wolffe countered, punching a big red button.
Jaw dropping when a smaller panel suddenly lifted up out of the floor, Tycho nodded sharply and hauled the Admiral to his feet again. Keeping his grip firm on Kassius' shoulder, he escorted the struggling man towards Fenril and the small panel. With Garik's help, they spun the Admiral around and held him steady as Fenril forcibly tugged off his gloves and forced his right hand down onto the panel.
'You lose, Kassius. The death knell has sounded throughout the Imperial fleet.' Fenril smirked, releasing the Admiral as the control panel sunk back into the floor. 'We need to move fast.'
'How long did you give us?' Kanan asked, leading the team towards the door.
'Ten minutes and I set it on silent so the crew remains unaware.' Fenril replied, holding his Bo-rifle ready. 'No point in making this too easy for the Imps.'
'It's going to be tight.' Rex uttered, grabbing Kassius and picking up the pace.
'We can make it.' Fenril grinned, leading the charge off the bridge and back to the turbolifts.
Hustling down the corridors, Rex smiled faintly at the sight of the Admiral staying close to Kanan and Fenril. He looked so strange wearing Fenril's armour and helmet but it was the small explosive device that Fenril had clipped to his tunic that really amused Rex. Barely the size of his thumb and secured to the lower hem of the Admiral's tunic, the device was specifically designed to explode if he strayed too far from the group. The direct threat to his manhood seemed to be working nicely to keep the Admiral under control.
Darting around the next corner, Fenril plucked one of the mini-grenades from his belt and let fly, sending it soaring towards a group of stormtroopers coming their way. He didn't expect one of them to drop his rifle, grab one of his fellow troopers and jump high enough to kick the grenade back towards the Rebel team. Swearing violently, Fenril leapt for the only cover available, hugging the bulkhead and hoping the support strut beside him was enough to protect him.
Flinching away from the roar of the explosion and the subsequent choked cry of pain, Kanan led the charge around the corner, launching forward to deal with the approaching troopers as Rex and Wolffe raced to Fenril's aid. Refusing to think about failing the mission, Kanan pressed his advantage with devastating accuracy, making use of all his skills to tear through the patrol that had created so many new problems for them. Kanan had no doubt that other troopers had heard that blast and the subsequent fight and knowing Imp protocol, more troopers would likely come to investigate the noise.
Trusting in Rex to cover him as he worked, Wolffe focused on patching Fenril up, tearing through his small belt medkit and reaching up to steal Rex's as well. Tearing away the remains of Fenril's tunic, he scanned the damage quickly and got to work, mind running through the limited medical training he had as his hands worked on autopilot. The larger patches he used to cover the deep, bloody wounds over Fenril's left shoulder and across his chest. He used smaller patches to cover the similar wounds across Fenril's left cheek and eye, the damage severe enough to make Wolffe worry that Fenril would lose that vibrant blue eye.
'Stop fussing.' Fenril muttered, dazzling green eye narrowed dangerously. 'I'll live.'
'Yeah, but that's no reason to be stupid.' Wolffe replied, securing Fenril's left arm so it couldn't flap around and cause further pain. 'We promised to get you back safe.'
'Very well.' Fenril sighed, right hand curling around his Bo-rifle. 'Stim?'
'Not meant to give them to people with head wounds.' Wolffe countered, doing a quick check for any further injuries.
'Come on Wolffe! We gotta move!' Gregor called, the sounds of battle intensifying again.
'I'll give you the stim but you have to promise that you won't take any more stupid risks.' Wolffe nodded, picking up one of the pre-measured stim shots.
'I have no intention of doing much beyond running and shooting.' Fenril replied, putting up with Wolffe's prodding and touching.
'That'll do.' Wolffe grinned, jabbing Fenril with the stim and giving it a moment to take effect before pulling him to his feet. 'Let's move!'
Pushing down his exhaustion, Rex led the charge along the final corridor and swung around into the hanger, scanning for threats as the rest of the team waited behind him. Oddly, there was a single Imp in fatigues crouched by the ramp of their shuttle, half hidden behind some crates someone hadn't moved away yet. Looking closer, Rex frowned inside his bucket, a tingle of a memory coming back to him as he watched the lone trooper defending the shuttle.
'What's the hold up?' Kanan asked, keeping their prisoner up against the wall.
'Pretty sure I just found us another ally on this damned ship.' Rex replied, still watching the lone trooper. 'Time?'
'Three minutes.' Fenril offered, glancing at the timer on his right wrist.
Glancing back at the team behind him, Rex nodded sharply and pulled his helmet off. Peeking around the corner again, his gaze was once again drawn to the trooper behind the crates. For the briefest moment, their gazes locked and the lone trooper nodded before turning his attention to the battle in the hanger.
'Look after the Squad, Wolffe. Wait for my signal, then rush the shuttle.' Rex directed, reaching out to pluck several mini-grenades from Fenril's belt. 'I'm getting our brother back.'
'Be safe, vod.' Wolffe nodded, peeking around the corner. 'Is that…'
'Yeah, it's him.' Rex confirmed, pushing off the wall and charging into the hanger.
'Everyone hold your position, we'll be out of here in no time.' Wolffe instructed, glancing around the corner again. 'Of all the places…'
Grunting in pain as a lucky shot clipped him in the side, Rex stumbled and fell, skidding to a stop behind the crates near the shuttle. Sitting up slowly, he looked up at their unexpected saviour and grinned faintly.
'We can talk later. Right now we've got less than three minutes to get off this ship.' Rex briefed, grabbing his carbine and popping up to return fire. 'I ain't gonna leave you again.'
'I believe you Rex.' he replied, grabbing one of the dropped mini-grenades and sending it flying into a larger group of troopers. 'It's good to see you again.'
'Yeah, just like old times.' Rex nodded, lobbing another grenade over their cover. 'Any more on this ship?'
'No, I'm the only one with this fleet. The Imps keep us scattered so we can't revolt.'
'Good to know. Focus on keeping the Imps back.' Rex grinned, continuing to stich his fire across the deck. 'Wolffe!'
Ushering the rest of the team into the hanger, Wolffe tossed his helmet to Tycho and turned, pitting his old skills against these pathetic Imp troops. Trying to ignore the burning in his chest, he kept pushing the team forward, focusing on getting perfect headshots as he made sure the team made it safely to the shuttle.
'Get onboard! Come on, move it!' Kanan cried, stopping on the ramp and swatting away any shot that came too close to him. 'We've got to go!'
'Come on, we're getting out of here.' Rex nodded, grabbing the man beside him and hauling him up. 'Get on the shuttle, I'll be right behind you.'
'I'm not leaving you Rex!' he countered, trying to drag Rex towards the shuttle.
Knowing that they would never get out of here if this kept up, Kanan reached out with his left hand and delved into the Force, wrapping it around the three still outside the shuttle. Losing his focus when Rex and his new friend both cried out in pain and dropped, Kanan scowled and reached again, pulling the pair safely into the shuttle. He didn't need to reach again, Wolffe got the message and backed up the ramp, only to take a hit to the abdomen and drop. Almost instantly Gregor was there, dragging Wolffe to safety and motioning for Kanan to get back.
'Get us out of here!' Fenril roared, making sure the Admiral was secured as the shuttle lifted off and shot towards the exit.
Mostly ignoring everyone else, Gregor nudged Kanan out of the way and knelt beside Rex, rolling him over and starting to remove the scorched armour from his torso and abdomen. Tossing the plates aside, he barely even hesitated, ripping through the bodysuit beneath with his bare hands so he can see the damage done. Looking up, Gregor nodded faintly as the onboard medkit lands beside him, already open and ready for use. They don't have a lot of supplies, treating just his brothers will strain the supplies but Gregor refuses to quit.
'We clear?' Wolffe groaned, lifting his head slowly.
'We're clear.' Kanan nodded, coming around to kneel beside Wolffe. 'Rest, we're safe now.'
'Been a while since I was last shot. Forgot how much it hurts through armour.' Wolffe grinned, settling back down. 'It's been fun.'
'Mission's not over yet Wolffe.' Kanan corrected, injecting him with a stim and starting to work on removing his armour.
Doing his best to ignore the pain of his own injuries, Fenril took a knee beside the newest member of the team and started working on removing his fatigues so he could check the injury to his right side. Easing the scorched cloth aside, Fenril chuckled at the sight of the black burn scored across the scratched white armour hidden beneath.
'How is he?' Rex asked, sitting up slowly so Gregor could finish checking him over.
'He's going to be just fine. He had armour on under his fatigues.' Fenril grinned, finding the catches and easing the damaged plating away. 'Gonna have a scar though.'
'One more for the collection.' the new arrival groaned, deep brown eyes opening slowly.
'Hold on back there! Things just started exploding!' Tycho called, sending the shuttle into a sharp dive. 'What did you do back there Fenril?'
'Hey, it's not my fault that Star Destroyers explode so easily.' Fenril shrugged, catching the bacta kit Gregor tossed his way. 'Did we get everything?'
'Scanning now…' Garik replied, sounding a little distracted. 'I'm not reading any energy signs aside from us and the Ghost.'
'Top that Demo Queen.' Fenril smirked, peeling away the last layers of cloth.
'Wait, you blew up an entire fleet?' the wounded man asked, staring up at Fenril in shock. 'I'm impressed.'
'Well, I would have been happy if the Relentless had been the only one destroyed but a fleet is far better.' Fenril nodded, guiding the wounded man onto his side. 'So, who are you exactly?'
'Trooper Trainer twenty-two twenty-four.' he offered, dropping his gaze suddenly. 'I had a real name but Imperial mandates do not permit troopers and trainers the use of personal names.'
'You're not in Imperial hands anymore, Cody.' Wolffe corrected, reaching out to his brother. 'It's over, you'll never have to worry about the Imps again.'
'You really mean that?' Cody asked, clasping Wolffe's hand firmly in his own.
Take care 'we'll take care of you, Cody. No one will ever tear you away from us again.' Rex promised, shuffling over and lifting Cody's head into his thigh. 'You're home now, vod.'
'I missed you so much.' Cody uttered, looking up at Rex with a smile.
'Missed you too, vod.' Rex nodded, lightly running his fingers through Cody's hair. 'Try to get some rest, we've got a long flight ahead of us.'
Pacing the hanger anxiously, Zeb couldn't ignore the tension in his gut. Something had gone wrong out there, he just knew it. Exactly what that something was, he couldn't tell for certain but he knew this particular feeling and he didn't like it one bit. He just hoped that Fenril was okay, he didn't want to face the prospect of losing his mate before they'd even had a chance to formalise their love.
'Zeb, relax. I'm sure they're all fine.' Sabine tried, looking up from her perch on one of the crates. 'If there was trouble, Kanan would have let us know.'
'I can't help it, Sabine. I just know something went wrong.' Zeb sighed, turning to look outside again. 'I can feel it, the mission didn't go to plan.'
'We're about to find out for sure. Here they come.' Hera smiled, pointing off to the left.
Thankfully the shuttle showed no signs of damage, helping to alleviate some of Zeb's concerns but everyone could see that he wouldn't be truly happy until he got Fenril back in his arms. Even Carinsa was there, standing beside Commander Sato. Hera gave her a stern look, letting her know to keep her distance until Zeb settles. The other woman appeared to understand, giving Hera a faint nod and stepping back a little. Ezra and Sabine hurried to stand beside Hera, equal parts eager and nervous about the approaching shuttle. Armed guards protect every door and form a blocking force near the force fields across the hanger entrances and an escort team stood near Sato, waiting to accept custody of the captured Admiral. They even had several medical teams standing by, just in case the team came back injured.
Paying little attention to everyone else gathered in the hanger, Zeb stepped forward as the shuttle landed safely on the deck. For a moment nothing happened until finally the ramp glided open and landed with a clang. Moving forward, Zeb was forced to jump clear as someone came flying out of the shuttle and landed in a heap on the deck. Hands secured behind his back and stripped to his trousers and undershirt, he squirmed and sat up; the movement sending up a horrid stench that had everyone recoiling in disgust.
'Commander Sato, I suggest you organise a team to thoroughly clean the shuttle before anyone else uses it.' Tycho offered, striding down the ramp.
'Yeah, this dirty animal dropped a load in his pants.' Garik added, shoving his bucket back on as he grabbed the Admiral and dragged him to his feet. 'We've had to sit in the stench for hours.'
'I will make sure it is taken care of.' Sato nodded, discretely trying to avoid the smell. 'Take him straight to the brig and see that he is cleaned up.'
'Of course Commander.' one of the guards nodded, covering his nose with one hand as he reached out to grab the Admiral. 'Come along.'
'The rest of the team will be out in a moment. They got a stronger dose of that stink. We were safer in the cockpit.' Tycho explained, tugging at his collar quickly. 'Permission to go change?'
'Permission granted.' Carinsa nodded, waving one hand under her nose. 'And if you pass any of the maintenance crew, have them turn up the scrubbers.'
'Understood Ma'am.' Garik replied, heading for the exit at a brisk pace.
Snorting quickly to try and clear the stench from his nose, Zeb turned back to the shuttle and stared in horror and disbelief as Kanan slowly came down the ramp with Wolffe and Fenril braced against his sides. Slowly Fenril lifted his gaze, the sight of his bandaged face sending another bolt of shock through Zeb but the tender smile was the real prize.
'Fenril.' Zeb breathed, closing the distance and reaching out to his love.
'I'll be okay Zeb.' Fenril uttered, releasing Kanan and stepping into Zeb's arms. 'I'm home now.'
'What happened?' Sabine asked, rushing forward to help Wolffe.
'Your mini-grenades need work, Sabine.' Wolffe groaned, slinging his free arm around her shoulders. 'There was enough time for a trooper to kick it back at Fenril.'
'Osik!' Sabine hissed, snapping her attention to Fenril. 'N'eparavu takisit Fenril.'
'Kih'parjai Sabine. Hardly the first time I've been too close to one of your explosive creations.' Fenril replied, relaxing into Zeb's strength.
'Come on, move it.' Gregor called, appearing at the top of the ramp with Rex and another figure clutching at his shoulders. 'I wouldn't worry about Fenril. Even after that grenade, he was still focused on the mission.'
'That's no surprise.' Zeb muttered, cradling Fenril to his chest as he stepped back. 'So who's the new guy in the ranks?'
'Meet Cody, another of the lucky survivors.' Wolffe explained, still keeping most of his weight on Kanan as they cleared the ramp. 'We'd be dead if not for his help.'
Gasping softly at the mention of that name, Hera moved past Kanan and hurried up the ramp. Slipping under Cody's free arm, she reached out to lightly touch one cheek, lifting his face slowly until their eyes met.
'I remember you, Cody. You came to my homeworld when I was just a little girl.' she smiled, careful not to bump the large bacta patch on his side.
'I…sorry, I don't remember you.' Cody sighed, closing his eyes. 'I've seen too much destruction.'
'It's okay, you're safe now Cody. Welcome to the Rebellion.' Hera soothed, glancing towards the waiting medical team. 'We'll take care of you now.'
'Thank you.' Cody uttered, tightening his grip on her flight suit.
'We won't let anyone hurt you Cody. You're one of us; vode an.' Rex promised, looking past Gregor as he spoke.
'Vor entye.' Cody nodded, easing away from Gregor slowly. 'Yaim'la.'
'Elek, vod. Yaim.' Gregor replied, turning his focus to getting Rex onto one of the provided gurneys. 'You got hit three times, Rex. Behave before I get Ahsoka out here.'
'Stubborn as always.' Cody chuckled, settling down with a sigh.
'Udesiir, udesiir.' Sabine soothed, easing Wolffe back down. 'Everyone made it home, Wolffe. Now settle back and rest. You're no use to us dead.'
'Lek, vod'ika.' Wolffe nodded, releasing her hand and looking towards his brothers. 'Good to be home at last.'
'Nuhoy jii, ori'vod.' Sabine whispered, moving back as the medical team whisked him away.
Not really surprised that Fenril had almost dozed off in his arms, Zeb tucked him closer and growled softly whenever one of the available medics tried to take him. Nuzzling Fenril contentedly, Zeb followed the medical teams from the hanger, doing whatever he could to keep Fenril safe now that his beloved had finally come home.
'You complete my soul. I love you, my heart.' Fenril mumbled, burrowing closer to Zeb.
'I love you, my heart. You complete my soul.' Zeb smiled, refusing to think about Fenril's injuries in that moment.
'Hey, Kanan thought you might need this.' Ezra offered, jogging up and tucking the eye colour modification unit into Zeb's pocket.
'Thanks kid.' Zeb grinned, looking down at Fenril again. 'Sleep on, my love. I've got you.'
Translations (English - Mando'a)
Osik - dung (impolite)
N'eparavu takisit - sorry (lit: I eat my insult)
Kih'parjai - No problem. Don't mention it. (Lit: small victory)
Vor entye - Thank you (lit. "I accept a debt")
Yaim'la - comfortable, familiar, sense of "at home". Can also mean local to the speaker.
Elek - yes (shortened to 'lek as 'yeah')
vod - brother/sister/comrade/mate
Yaim - home
Udesiir - relax, take it easy, calm down, find respite
vod'ika - little sister
Nuhoy jii - sleep now
ori'vod - big brother
Chapter 8: Recovering Romance
Trying not to think about why Zeb had asked him to wait another hour before returning to their cabin on the Ghost, Fenril sighed softly and checked his chrono quickly. He still had another forty minutes to wait, every minute torture but he would do as Zeb asked. Whatever was going on, Zeb seemed to want it to remain a secret until the last moment.
'Fenril, the prisoner is still adamant that he must see you.' Carinsa sighed, striding up beside him. 'I have also arranged for you to take up a post here on the blockade runner.'
'I have no interest in remaining on this ship, Carinsa. I did not agree to join the Rebellion to become an officer. I will return to the Ghost and resume my standard duties there.' Fenril replied, looking away from the view port. 'I'm fairly sure Hera has already made it clear that she wants to keep me on her crew.'
'I outrank her.' Carinsa growled, clearly not impressed with the backtalk.
'And you are also spoilt. I am not staying on this ship. Continue this ridiculous argument and you will lose the Ghost and all who crew her.' Fenril snapped, rolling his eyes quickly. 'You are the baby of the family; you have no position to argue with me, Carinsa.'
'Fine, be that way.' Carinsa barked, throwing up her hands. 'I was only trying to protect you.'
'I don't need you to protect me, little one. I am fully capable of taking care of myself, I have for years and I will continue to do so until I am dead.' Fenril countered, turning away from her. 'I will go see the Admiral and then I'm going back to the Ghost. I suggest you cease your attempts to control my life, baby sister.'
Pausing by the door leading out of the infirmary, Fenril gazed at his altered reflection and sighed softly as he looked at the damage done. Even with the quick application of bacta patches, he had been left with extensive facial and body scarring. Two thick scars over his left shoulder and down over his chest, one stopping short of his nipple but the bigger one went almost to the middle of his chest. The thicker scar also went over onto the back of his shoulder and bloomed out into a larger, round burn. At least he could hide these scars, unlike the mass of scarring on his face. A combination of burn and shrapnel scarring left long streaks of fresh pink over his left cheek, one particularly long line kissing the very bottom of his eye and stretching out across his nose. He'd nearly lost his dazzling blue eye but thankfully the combination of immediate bacta treatment and later surgical assistance had kept the eye alive and healthy.
Shaking off the pointless concerns about his appearance, Fenril shrugged into his jacket and headed aft. He just hoped that his argument with Carinsa had finally gotten his point across; she'd been hassling him about transferring to the larger ship ever since he'd first come aboard. Maybe this time she would get the message that he had no intention of leaving the Ghost. Only time would tell if she got the message and Fenril had every intention of using that time to taunt Kassius again.
Buoyed by that thought, Fenril allowed a faint smile to touch his lips as he walked. Oh yes, it would be very nice to get some payback after all the jibes and whispered comments he'd heard back when he'd walked the halls of the Relentless as an officer. Of course, he'd never let anyone know that he'd overheard those things; he merely used his powers as an ISB Agent to deal with the problem troopers. Now though, well Fenril could admit that he felt a certain thrill whenever he got a chance to go up against the Empire. He'd come to realise that they were the real problem in the galaxy, not the Rebels as he'd been taught to believe. Now he took great pride in trying to remove the harshness and cruelty the Empire forced the galaxy to endure. He was just one man in a huge galaxy but sometimes one voice was all it took to initiate sweeping changes.
Entering the brig, Fenril nodded to the guards standing at their posts as he headed towards one of the few occupied cells. The last few days had been profitable for the rebellion; they'd managed to capture several Imperial officers but none quite as grand as Fenril's prize.
'Afternoon Fenril.' Rex greeted, falling into step beside him. 'Come down to see your prisoner?'
'I've been told on several occasions that he wants to talk.' Fenril shrugged, stopping outside one of the high security cells. 'Hello again traitor.'
'I am no traitor. When I get out of here…' Kassius protested, getting to his feet sharply.
'The Empire will shoot you on sight.' Fenril smirked, holding up a datapad clearly showing the wanted poster that had been released. 'You've been charged with treason and the destruction of the Relentless and her fleet with all hands lost.'
'Heh, the rebellion could sure use that bounty.' Rex remarked, taking the 'pad and reading through the details. 'All they ask for is biological proof.'
'It's tempting, I admit but there's no way to get the proof without killing him. I've seen other bounties like this; they'll scan any presented item to be sure. If there isn't a proper mix of all sorts of biological evidence, it's not acceptable.' Fenril shrugged, accepting his datapad back. 'I already considered trying that.'
'Ah, well maybe when command is satisfied that we've gotten everything of value from him, we can try for the bounty.' Rex nodded, turning his gaze to Konstantine. 'The techies had a lot of fun pulling apart his uniform to retrieve the data sticks and chips hidden there.'
'You had no right!' Konstantine protested, crossing his cell to glare up at the pair.
'We have every right, Kassius. You are our prisoner, you have no secrets anymore.' Fenril laughed, tucking his pink and blue braid behind his ear. 'So who was picked to interrogate his?'
'Command saw fit to let the vode handle it. My guess, they figured we would have some techniques that he hasn't been trained to resist.' Rex grinned, barely paying any attention to the Admiral. 'Sometimes the old ways are best.'
'It's a pity that I have to leave; I'd like to see what your vode can accomplish. Sadly, I have duties elsewhere.' Fenril sighed, looking down at the Admiral again. 'But give him a few good hits on my behalf, would you?'
'Count on it.' Rex nodded, resting one hand on Fenril's shoulder. 'Try not to totally destroy the Empire without us.'
'No promises Rex.' Fenril laughed, glancing down when his comm beeped. 'I left a copy of the bounty page on the mainframe if command wants to take advantage of it.'
'I'll let you know what they decide.' Rex promised, waving Fenril away. 'Better get moving, you know how the Ghost hates to wait.'
'Yeah, I know.' Fenril grinned, turning smartly on his heel and walking away whistling a merry little tune.
It's still not perfect, it's barely even acceptable but it's the best that Zeb can do on such short notice. He just hoped it was good enough for Fenril, hoped that it was enough to make the rituals work like Zeb remembered. It's been years since he last witnessed these rituals, even longer since anyone explained them to him. He had to rely on his memories and that worried him, he would have preferred to ask for help but there was no one available that understood these rituals in the way he needed.
The murals Sabine had painted looked beautiful, hiding the ugly grey walls behind a reasonably good replica of Zeb's old home on Lasan. It wasn't perfect, there was no getting away from the fact that the objects were just painted memories and the "window" nothing more than a pretty illusion but it still felt a little warmer than it once had. She'd even painted over the old mural from when Ezra had been sharing this room. As a final touch, she'd painted several holos of the loving couple on the "shelves" lining the walls, helping to solidify Fenril's place in this room.
Once she'd finished, Zeb had taken over, putting the finishing touches on the room and preparing for the ritual. Using blankets he'd gotten from Wolffe, he enclosed the bunk a little more and padded out the bunk with some extra cushions and a second mattress he'd traded with Gregor to get. He couldn't replicate the swinging nest he'd grown up with but at least with the extra padding and blanket drapes, he had a private place in which to conduct the ritual in absolute comfort.
Lighting the last of the candles that had been graciously donated, Zeb inhaled the sweet mix of scents from across the galaxy and sighed softly as he picked up a single white velvet box. Inside sat two crystals, a gift from Ahsoka but crucial to the rituals. Only time would tell if they were right for the task, Zeb had never heard of anyone doing this without the crystals dug from the mines deep under Lasan's surface.
Lifting his gaze when the door slid open, Zeb relaxed a little more as Fenril stepped inside, looking around at the changes and the candles flickering softly. Getting up, Zeb set the box aside for the moment and reached out to help Fenril slip out of his jacket.
'Welcome home, my heart.' Zeb smiled, hanging Fenril's jacket up and returning to his side.
'What's going on Zeb?' Fenril asked, still trying to take in all the changes.
'You said you wanted to take our relationship to the next level. I've been busy, making us a home and preparing for the bonding ritual.' Zeb offered, purring softly as he helped Fenril out of his shirt. 'Is something wrong?'
'No, it's perfect.' Fenril smiled, reaching up to cup Zeb's cheek lightly. 'I love you, Garazeb.'
'I love you Fenril.' Zeb replied, pressing a soft kiss to Fenril's wrist. 'Just relax, I'll take care of you, my heart.'
'You always do.' Fenril nodded, slipping his free hand under the soft leather vest Zeb was wearing. 'I've never seen you wear this before.'
'I had it made especially for this. Didn't want to be in uniform on such a special occasion.' Zeb admitted, lowering his stance so Fenril could slide the soft leather over his shoulders.
Amazed by how intimate it felt to undress Zeb by candlelight, Fenril placed the vest aside carefully and reached up to trace mindless patterns over Zeb's skin. There was no need to rush, every gentle touch was precious, reaffirming their love without a word spoken. Fenril had no idea what to expect but he trusted Zeb to lead him and explain anything that required it.
'We place our love before the Ashla, hoping that the infinite wisdom of the galaxy will see fit to gift us with permanent reminders of the other halves of our soul. On this night, we formalise what we have begun and look forward to a brighter future as one.' Zeb intoned, sinking down to pull Fenril's boots off before sliding down his pants.
'We have lived as one and loved purely for many moons, waiting for this perfect moment to place our love before the Ashla on this day. We come into this with no expectations or demands, only a wish to share in everything until our lives must part.' Fenril continued, trusting in his heart as he stripped away the pale brown leather kilt Zeb wore.
Picking up the velvet box, Zeb held Fenril close for a few moments, relishing the feeling of skin on skin and feeling the faint touch of the Ashla around them. Moving slow, aiming to keep the romantic atmosphere that had settled over them, he guided Fenril to their bed, lifting the curtain so he could see the altered bunk before climbing into the soft nest. Kneeling among the cushions, Zeb waited for Fenril to settle opposite him and opened the box before reaching out to tenderly cup Fenril's right hand in his own. Tipping the two crystals into Fenril's hand, Zeb nodded faintly as Fenril closed his fingers over the crystals and lifted them to his heart.
'Garazeb Orrelios, I choose you to be my life mate, my heart and my completed soul. I want for no one else, I have all I could ever need when I am with you. I love you, through the good times and bad, no matter what this galaxy throws at us until such time as death parts us.' Fenril declared, pressing the crystals to his chest for a few moments before passing them to Zeb.
'Fenril Kallus, I choose you to be my life mate, my heart and my completed soul. I want for no one else, I have all I could ever need when I am with you. I love you, through the good times and the bad, no matter what this galaxy throws at us until such time as death parts us.' Zeb repeated, offering out the crystals again.
Reaching out to place his right hand over Zeb's, Fenril lifted up onto his knees and curled his left arm around Zeb's neck as they kissed sweetly. Breaking the kiss slowly, he leant back and reached with Zeb, depositing the two crystals safely in a silken nest on the shelf beside their cot. Satisfied that they were safe, Fenril eased down onto his back and groaned in pleasure as Zeb settled over him.
'Now what?' Fenril whispered, wrapping his arms around Zeb's neck loosely.
'We do what comes naturally in this situation.' Zeb uttered, lowering his head to nip at Fenril's collarbone. 'Don't gotta keep quiet either. The ship's empty for a few hours.'
'Lucky us.' Fenril agreed, scratching at Zeb's shoulders. 'Want you so bad.'
Crying out in pleasure as Zeb managed to hit several hotspots at the same time, Fenril let his head fall back as he reached for the lube on the shelf beside the bed. It was so hard to concentrate on anything while Zeb's magical tongue was showing such dedicated attention to his groin, the pleasure spiking with every pass of that rough appendage. Bucking and writhing as the heat grew in his gut, Fenril fumbled the cap open and poured a generous amount on his fingers. They'd talked about this before, neither sure it could work but today, Fenril wanted to feel Zeb's full girth stretching him wider than ever.
'Want you…all of you…fek…Zeb…need you.' Fenril groaned, squirming as he worked his fingers deeper inside. 'Please…want you…'
'You've got me, Fenril.' Zeb soothed, taking the bottle and slicking up both his cocks. 'I'll give you everything.'
Not even sure that Fenril was aware of the Ashla around them, guiding them and preparing for the bonding, Zeb watched as Fenril practically worked his fist into his ass, slicking and stretching for what could be a painful moment. Goddesses Tears, he wasn't sure what was more arousing in that moment; the sight of Fenril working his entrance so desperately or the sweet pleas falling from his lips.
'I've got ya Fenril, I've got ya.' Zeb soothed, settling over him as Fenril slid his hand away.
'Please…want you all…need you.' Fenril gasped, hands digging into Zeb's back at the first nudge of pressure against his entrance. 'Oh…yes…more…oh Zeb.'
'Relax…I'm here.' Zeb coaxed, sinking in carefully despite the push from the Ashla to hurry.
Screaming his bliss to the cosmos as he felt Zeb settle fully inside him, Fenril somehow managed to get some control over his body and reached up to wrap his arms around Zeb's neck again. He was briefly grateful that he didn't need to be silent but that thought disappeared when Zeb lifted him and held him close as they bucked and heaved together.
'So good…Zeb…so deep.' Fenril groaned, clinging tighter to his love. 'Love you.'
'Yes…Fenril.' Zeb moaned, surrendering to the power swirling around them.
Cradling Fenril to him, Zeb surrendered to the guidance of the Ashla, eyes sliding closed as he chased his release. Catching Fenril's lips in a deep kiss, swallowing his desperate cries as they spiralled up, Zeb hit his peak and let his head fall back as he released a roar of satisfaction just as Fenril came all over them. Waiting a moment for Fenril to relax his legs, Zeb gently guided them out of the way and slumped down on his back, welcoming the exhaustion that swept over him and coaxed him to sleep.
'Rest now, my heart. It's all part of the ritual.' Zeb muttered, lightly stroking Fenril's back.
'Sleep sounds good.' Fenril yawned, snuggling closer and closing his eyes. 'Love you.'
'Love you too.' Zeb whispered, letting his body relax as the Ashla worked around them.
Groaning softly as he awoke, Fenril had the distinct feeling that he'd done something unusual but he couldn't quite remember what it was. Oh but that ache in his lower back was certainly a huge clue that he'd finally taken everything Zeb could give him. He vaguely recalled agreeing to join Zeb in some sort of mating ritual but the exact activities fled like morning mists. Right now, the exact details didn't really matter. He was quite content to drift in Zeb's loving embrace and wait for the details to come back.
Shifting into a slightly more comfortable position, he caught a flash of purple when he moved his arm and frowned. Turning his arm over slowly, he stared at the dark purple stripes running over his forearm, the colour and shape incredibly similar to Zeb's markings. Lifting his head, he turned and found the same markings on his left arm.
'What happened?' he uttered, sweeping his gaze up his arm and finding more of the markings running all the way up and over his shoulder.
'The Ashla granted our wish for a life together.' Zeb rumbled, lightly stroking his back. 'You're mine now and everyone can tell.'
'So if these are my gift from the Ashla, what did you get?' Fenril asked, slowly sitting up so he could look down at Zeb. 'Oh…you've got my freckles.'
'Freckles? You have freckles?' Zeb asked, groaning softly as he slipped out of Fenril. 'I never noticed them before.'
'Mine never really showed up properly. I'd need to spend a lot more time in the sun to make them show fully.' Fenril explained, reaching up to trace his fingers over Zeb's face. 'You've got them, right across here.'
'Probably got them everywhere you've got them.' Zeb nodded, shuffling back along the cot. 'Come on, I want to look at you in decent light.'
'Sounds like a plan.' Fenril nodded, crawling out from behind their blanket and flinching as the lights came up to full brightness.
Turning back to Fenril, Zeb's jaw dropped as he took in the full display that the Ashla had left behind. This was far more than he'd ever expected possible. Not only did Fenril have the purple slashes running down his arms and legs, but he also had a lovely collection of markings on his chest and abdomen, some of them even stretching up onto the lower part of his neck. He also had faint blushes of purple on the tips of his ears.
Equally stunned by what he was seeing, Fenril stared at the cascades of small dark pink dots running over Zeb's forearms and scattering across his chest in intricate constellations. There were even more freckles across Zeb's thighs, thinning down and disappearing around his knees aside from a few on his shins. Lifting his gaze again, he once again looked at the powdering of freckles across Zeb's face, the pattern slightly altered because of the underlying bone but still an extremely close repeat of his own markings.
Reaching out to his beloved, Zeb guided Fenril in close and just held him, still trying to come to terms with everything that had happened. He didn't regret it, he never would but it was still a monumental step in their relationship. He just hoped that Fenril didn't regret making this choice and tying them together in ways that neither truly understood.
'My beloved lifemate.' Fenril sighed, pressing closer and looking up at Zeb. 'So that's it now? We're officially bonded and together for eternity?'
'Yeah, it's official now. You're stuck with me now, my precious lifemate.' Zeb nodded, leaning down to steal a sweet kiss. 'No doubt Hera's organised some kind of celebration. She was a big help in getting the supplies I needed.'
'We'll face that after a shower and a change of clothes.' Fenril grinned, perfectly happy to stand here and enjoy this moment. 'Not that we really need a celebration.'
'No, but fair's fair. Hera arranged for us to have this private moment but in return, we have to go to the party she arranged.' Zeb chuckled, rocking slowly as they stood there.
'It's nice to have a reason to celebrate.' Fenril admitted, taking Zeb's right hand lightly.
Turning Zeb's right arm over, Fenril smiled softly at the sight of a particular freckle patch just above his wrist. Tracing a pattern through the dots, his smile grew at the reminder of home and the tales his parents had told him as a small boy.
'This pattern here is special. My parents always told me that this was a map that would always lead me back home. I found out later that it's an almost exact match to one of the major constellations over Saleucami - The Guardian.' Fenril explained, tracing the constellation again.
'Maybe one day we'll see The Guardian for real.' Zeb grinned, watching the way Fenril connected the freckles on his arm. 'This war can't last forever.'
'Perhaps one day, when the time is right for us.' Fenril agreed, lifting his gaze slowly. 'Come on, we could both use a shower before we let everyone know we're okay.'
Making sure that everything was ready, Hera smiled softly as Chopper returned to the rec room and informer her that the happy couple were coming this way. He also made a rather odd comment regarding Fenril's outfit but Hera couldn't really spare the time to think about whatever that might mean. She had enough to think about simply getting this party organised, she didn't even want to think about what Chopper meant when he said Fenril was wearing a skirt.
Satisfied that everything was ready, Hera stepped out of the rec room and stared in disbelief and amazement at the pair ambling towards her. Now she understood what Chopper meant and if she was honest, she quite liked the look. Both were wearing some kind of pale brown skirt, the hem just reaching their knees and swirling slightly as they walked. Above, they wore matching vests in the same material with nothing underneath to hide the new purple tattoos on Fenril's chest or the fainter pink spots on Zeb's.
'You didn't say anything about tattoos Zeb.' Hera remarked, looking the pair over again.
'These aren't tattoos Hera, they're Ashla gifted bond marks.' Zeb replied, wrapping one arm around Fenril's shoulders.
'You mean to tell me that the Force blessed your relationship?' Hera asked, one eyebrow rising sharply as she spoke.
'That would be the short version, yes.' Fenril nodded, snuggling into Zeb's side happily.
'That explains why Kanan and Ezra have been acting a little strange.' Hera grinned, turning and heading back towards the rec room. 'Everyone is waiting for you and Sabine's got something for you Fenril. Apparently one of the fabricators has been looking after it for a couple of days.'
'Ah, good. I've been waiting for that.' Fenril replied, looking up at Zeb. 'You'll find out soon enough, my heart.'
Really, it shouldn't have been a surprise, considering just how many planets and races were represented in the fleet; that didn't stop the newly bonded pair from jumping a little when they were draped with bright garlands of the most amazingly scented flowers and had simple gold circlets placed on their heads. Someone else handed them a sweet, fruity sparkling wine as others started to pass around trays of various foods from across the galaxy.
'Not bad for a rush job.' Sabine remarked, making her way towards the happy couple.
'This is far more than I expected.' Fenril grinned, looking up at Zeb.
'More than I ever wanted.' Zeb shrugged, looking around slowly. 'My people never celebrated a union like this.'
'This is normal for human weddings, there's a beautiful ceremony and a grand reception afterwards.' Fenril guided, leaning against Zeb happily. 'Consider this a blending of cultures. Lasat ceremony meets human reception.'
'I can live with that.' Zeb nodded, finishing the morsel he'd picked up and hugging Fenril close.
'Here, I was told you'd want this today.' Sabine smiled, offering out a plain wooden box.
'Just hold onto it for a moment, Sabine.' Fenril replied, drawing away from Zeb and holding up his glass. 'Can I have your attention please?'
Turning back to Zeb as the crowd once again focused on them, Fenril nodded faintly to Sabine and handed his glass to Hera. Opening the box, he lifted out an intricate bracelet of woven yellow gold and white gold, fingers tracing over the twisted, flat strands of metal and the names engraved along the edges of the rose gold border. Swallowing his nerves, he looked up at Zeb again and smiled as he presented the bracelet, the ends clasped loosely in his hands as he spoke from the heart.
'Garazeb Orrelios, I don't know much about Lasat culture or tradition; I'm learning as we go along on this journey together. What I do know is that I love you, my heart and I will stand by you through good times and bad, whatever this galaxy throws at us. Traditionally rings are exchanged and worn on the third finger of the left hand but this is hardly a traditional marriage. Instead, I ask that you wear this bracelet as a sign to others that you are mine for eternity. You complete my soul, Garazeb Orrelios. I want for no one else.' Fenril offered, ignoring the gasps and whispers around them as he fastened the bracelet around Zeb's wrist. 'I take you as my loving husband and mate.'
Handing his drink to Kanan, Zeb looked down at the box Sabine was holding and carefully plucked out the ring still nestled safely inside. It looked exactly like his new wedding band, the names so tiny but still clearly readable on the wide band. Turning it around in his claws, Zeb reached out and lightly cradled Fenril's left hand in his right.
'Fenril Kallus, we both know I'm not much good with words, much less when it comes to the emotional stuff. You know that I show my love in different ways, and that works for us but today, with our friends and family around us, I am proud to call you my heart and my love. I will always be there for you, no matter what this galaxy throws at us. I give you this ring as a reminder of my promises to you and a sign that you are loved above all others. You complete my soul, Fenril Kallus. I want for no one else.' Zeb managed, definitely blushing as he eased the ring onto Fenril's finger. 'I take you as my loving husband and mate.'
Stepping forward and reaching up, Fenril tugged Zeb down into a sweet kiss, sealing their union for a second time and trying to ignore the applause and cheering that had broken out at the action. Drawing back slowly, he met Zeb's stunned gaze and smiled softly as he ran his fingers through one sideburn lightly.
'So now we're truly official, right?' Zeb asked, nuzzling into Fenril's touch. 'My people don't need anything more than bond marks to accept a new union.'
'Well, there are a couple of documents that need your signature to make everything legal but otherwise, we're official.' Fenril nodded, accepting his drink from Hera. 'It's nothing to worry about, just some old family business.'
'So, you think that marrying him will grant you access to the family fortune?' Carinsa snarled, storming towards the happy couple. 'Marrying a non-human does not meet the requirements.'
'If you recall, baby sister, the human only stipulation was only in effect until you turned 35. Since you are now 37, I have every right to claim the inheritance regardless of my chosen husband. It is hardly my fault that you are a spoilt brat with an inflated sense of your own importance and an insane insistence to marry far beyond your station. Ever since you were a teenager, you've been interested in nothing but marrying a Senator or some other dignitary. The only reason you're even on this ship is on the off chance you'll get to meet someone important and convince him to make you his wife. Pull your head out of your ass and grow up Carinsa. There's not going to be a huge wedding and a luxurious lifestyle for you. You're a farmer's daughter and the youngest one at that. You should be thankful that Tycho has an interest in you, not shooting him down because he doesn't have a twelve figure bank balance.' Fenril snapped, stunning everyone that heard his harsh words. 'Now, this is my wedding day and I will not have you ruin it with your pettiness.'
'That was a little harsh, Fenril.' Hera sighed, handing over his drink as Carinsa fled the room.
'Sometimes the truth hurts, Hera. I've already tried to bring her around with private conversations but since that didn't work, I went public. Hopefully now she'll give up on the idea of marrying for money and find someone to love.' Fenril shrugged, snuggling into Zeb's side again. 'I'm the last male relative she's got, it's my duty to see that she finds a good husband.'
'But still, you publicly humiliated her.' Kanan sighed, handing Zeb his drink and accepting a tray of nibbles. 'There must have been another way.'
'Kanan, we've been dealing with this since Carinsa was seventeen. She's determined to marry a rich man and nothing less will suffice. Our parents actually had to hire a nanny for her, just to stop her trying to entice a dignitary to take her as his mistress so she could work up to being his wife.' Fenril replied, sampling some kind of rolled fish option. 'But enough about Carinsa, today is our special day and I won't let her ruin it.'
'So, let's go mingle.' Zeb grinned, wrapping his free arm around Fenril's shoulders and guiding him deeper into the gathering.
It was actually nice to wander around the gathering with Zeb, the pair talking with everyone and enjoying this chance to be open about their relationship. No one judged them for their choices, everyone seemed genuinely pleased for them.
'I know you do not wish to speak of your sister anymore but I do have one simple question.' Sato started, stopping beside the happy couple. 'She claimed to already be married and yet you dispute this. Why would she lie about that?'
'Ah, that's an easy one to explain. She intended to marry, she found a Baron and assumed he had money to back up his title. Traditionally in our family, the bride must show her intentions to marry by joining our family name with her husband's for a year and a day. Carinsa didn't want to do that, she wanted to marry him immediately but our parents refused to allow that. Three months into their engagement her husband to be decided he didn't want to go through with it and left. She kept using his name, but without his signatures, she couldn't claim the inheritance.' Fenril explained, shaking his head slowly. 'Honestly, I'm surprised he lasted that long but that's why she's got a different name.'
'So it would be more appropriate to use Kallus instead?' Sato asked with a thoughtful look on his face. 'Or would that be considered offensive to your family?'
'It would be considered an offence but it's one that I can live with. Better to insult her blood than a powerful family of the inner rim.' Fenril shrugged, not really concerned about what Sato decided to do with Carinsa. 'I'm tired of straightening out her messes, I leave this one in your hands, Commander.'
'I will see that her mistruths are straightened out and she ceases with the misbehaviour.' Sato nodded, pulling a credit chit from his pocket and holding it out. 'The crew came together to arrange a gift for you both. I hope that this can be of benefit as you move into married life and build a new life together.'
'You didn't have to do that, my friend.' Fenril smiled, accepting the gift and looking up at Zeb.
'Rest assured, we will put this to good use in our future together.' Zeb added, squeezing Fenril close for a moment.
'I do have one thing to ask, Commander. If someone ever manages to win Carinsa's attentions, remind them to seek my blessing.' Fenril requested, tucking the credit chit safely in his pocket.
'I will do that Fenril.' Sato nodded, clasping his offered hand briefly. 'I wish you the best of luck with married life.'
'Thank you.' Zeb grinned, snagging a little something to eat as they wandered further into the gathering. 'This isn't so bad really.'
'It's certainly a lot calmer than other weddings I've attended.' Fenril agreed, perfectly happy to hold Zeb's hand and enjoy the peace of the moment.
Making sure to personally thank every crewmember for their kindness and good wishes, Fenril and Zeb couldn't be happier as they continued their circuit. Even when Sabine called out and demanded a wedding dance, the couple had laughed and fumbled their way through something reminiscent of dances from both cultures. Someone even went to the trouble of making them a grand cake to be shared among everyone once the newly weds cut it with a beautifully decorated knife. Most of the crew had donated to the honeymoon fund, as Ezra had named the credit chit in Fenril's pocket but a few offered simple gifts to furnish their cabin and later their home. Humble gifts but greatly appreciated nevertheless; they had nothing to put towards making a house their home whenever they left the Rebellion behind.
For all the kind gifts, it was the clones that managed to steal the show. For all the imperfections in the wrapping, the gifts inside were clearly not intended to be put inside for a future that may never come to fruition. Inside the hasty wrapping, two simple brown leather weapon belts had been carefully arranged, each one outfitted with four scabbards containing what appeared to be vibroknives. Picking up the smaller belt, Fenril secured it around his waist and pulled the blue handled blade free. Turning it over in his hands, he recognised that this weapon was an older model and paused, gaze flicking to Rex's face.
'This is your vibroknife, isn't it?' Fenril asked, noting the way his fingers fit perfectly into the blue grooves around the hilt.
'Yeah, used to wear it with pride whenever I was out of uniform. I know it'll give you many good years of service too.' Rex nodded, his smile growing as Zeb strapped on the matching set. 'We made your set from scratch and did our best to match the details.'
'Feels good to have a proper set of knives again. Traded mine for food years ago, regretted it ever since. Thank you.' Zeb grinned, pulling the orange handled knife free and looking it over carefully. 'These are really nice.'
'I just hope they stand up to daily wear. Been a long time since I've had to wire up a vibroknife.' Cody shrugged, looking away quickly. 'It should be right but thought it smart to warn you.'
'We'll be careful with them Cody.' Fenril promised, sheathing the knife and reaching out to rest one hand on Cody's shoulder. 'Thank you, you're the only ones who came up with a practical gift for now, not just some time in the future.'
'We hope they protect your family as faultlessly as they once protected ours.' Wolffe added, a hint of sadness in his one good eye.
'I have little doubt that these will see much use and each time, I will remember you all.' Fenril nodded, patting the grey marked handle lightly.
Returning to their room after the celebration, the happy couple packed their gifts away and placed their new weapons close to hand before undressing and hanging their new outfits up out of the way. Settling on their bunk, Zeb accepted the datapad Fenril handed him and read through the official documents on the screen before signing them and handing the datapad back. Making sure everything was settled, Fenril sent the documents along a secure holonet channel back to Coruscant then set the datapad aside and snuggled in against Zeb's side happily.
'So that's it, we're legally married now?' Zeb asked, rolling onto his side and looking down at Fenril with a smile.
'Yes, my heart, we're official and legal now.' Fenril nodded, tangling their legs together.
'I love you.' Zeb uttered, purring happily as he shuffled down so he could rest his head on Fenril's shoulder. 'You complete my soul, my mate.'
'I love you too.' Fenril smiled, pretty sure he'd never get tired of saying that. 'You complete my soul, my husband.'
For a while, they were silent, reflecting on the events of the day and settling into the idea of married life. Neither had ever dreamed that this would be their life; from those aggressive, hate-fuelled early years, to sweet kisses on Bahryn and secret trysts on backwaters where no one really cared what was going on and finally into a proper relationship sealed with a formal declaration. No more lonely nights, no more secrets, no more doubts. They would face the challenges of life together, whatever this war threw their way.
Strumming his claws lightly over Fenril's ribs, Zeb sighed softly as he tried to relax and get some sleep. Yet sleep eluded him, dancing just out of reach as a long buried concern came back to haunt him again. Just a small detail but to Zeb, it was a vitally important detail. He needed to know that they were on the same frequency with this.
'Hey, you asleep yet?' Zeb asked, nuzzling Fenril's shoulder lightly.
'Not yet.' Fenril smiled, reaching over to scratch behind Zeb's ear. 'What's wrong?'
'I can't stop thinkin' about maybe one day startin' a family of our own.' Zeb sighed, tracing idle patterns down Fenril's side. 'We could adopt a couple of kids or somethin' like that.'
'There are other options, Zeb.' Fenril suggested, mind drifting to a conversation he'd had with Cody a few weeks previous. 'There's still a possibility that we could have kids of our own.'
'How? Pretty sure neither of us can actually get pregnant.' Zeb chuckled, relaxing a little more.
'Well, I happen to know where one of the original Kaminoan cloners went after the Empire destroyed the facilities on Kamino. No doubt, for a price, we could get him to create a family for us. From what I understand, it's a simple enough process. We both give genetic material and in a few months, we get a family.' Fenril explained, fighting sleep until he knew Zeb was satisfied with the plan. 'We'll have to wait for the inheritance to come through but there's no reason why we can't try.'
'Would it really work? We're totally different species.' Zeb worried, tightening his grip on Fenril as he voiced his concerns.
'I don't know, Zeb. We won't know for certain until we talk to the genetic specialist. He'll know what's possible.' Fenril sighed, continuing to lightly stroke Zeb's ear. 'No matter what, we'll find a way to raise a family of our own. I won't let our choices deny us that right.'
'I believe you.' Zeb nodded, relaxing into their nest. 'I love you.'
'Love you too.' Fenril yawned, curling into Zeb a little more and surrendering to sleep.
Chapter 9: Shadows & Families
Striding onto the bridge of Sato's blockade runner, Fenril sighed softly as he gazed at the slowly rotating planet in the middle of the forward view screen. From up here, it looked almost innocent but Fenril knew first hand just how volatile that particular planet was. He was just thankful that Commander Sato had agreed to bring the fleet out here so Fenril could right a wrong that had bothered him for years. Waiting for the rest of the team to arrive, he watched the distant flashes of light, tracing the storms and hoping that his calculations were correct.
Fenril and Zeb had already announced their plans to leave the rebellion and make a new life together, far from the war but only after this mission was completed. Of course, no one wanted to see them leave but they accepted it anyway. So far no one else knew about the family plan the pair had implemented; Hera had asked them a few questions when they borrowed the Phantom but thankfully she was appeased by their story about needing to meet with Fenril's lawyer to confirm their marriage.
Turning away from the vista as the rest of the team made their way onto the bridge, Fenril smiled faintly as Zeb immediately moved to stand beside him. Taking a calming breath, Fenril called up the holo of the planet and cleared his throat.
'Welcome to the Shadow Hell, one of the Empire's favourite dumping ground for hostile undesirables. This planet is one of the most unforgiving places anywhere in the galaxy, to the point that the Imps decided that it deserved a hostility rating of nine. That rating makes it an ideal place to dispose of undesirables without the need to expend resources on extermination teams or prisons.' Fenril started, staring through the holo to watch the reactions. 'My knowledge of this planet isn't complete; I know only what Falir told me about it.'
'It doesn't look that dangerous.' Ezra remarked, watching the holo spinning slowly.
'That's because we're on the wrong side of the atmosphere to see the real dangers. It's only once you're on the surface that the nightmare is revealed. This planet is lashed by almost constant electrical storms, ionising the air and making it incredibly dangerous to be out in the open. These constant storms have also had a severe effect on the landscape. There is nothing edible down there; the constant storms have petrified everything. There is no surface water, just shimmering surfaces where water once ran. Finding shelter is almost impossible; the repetitive lightning strikes have worn the surface almost completely smooth.' Fenril continued, shaking his head slowly.
'And you believe that there are people down there?' Sabine asked, noticing something on the image. 'If the surface is so smooth, what are these marks?'
'Those marks are the remains of escape pods. That's how the Imps get the undesirables down there. The storms are too dangerous to risk landing a ship; some of these larger craters are all that remain of old transports. I suspect there are survivors down there, some of these impact marks appear fresher than most. Sensors will struggle to breach the ionised atmosphere; we need another way to know for sure if people are down there.' Fenril sighed, swinging his gaze to Kanan and Ezra. 'The planet itself is practically dead; it should be easy for you to detect any signs of life down there.'
'Continue the briefing; we'll try to get a read on what's down there.' Kanan nodded, motioning for Ezra to follow him away from the holotable.
Glancing towards the clones, Fenril swallowed quickly and turned his focus back to the holo between them. He knew this was a huge gamble but it was worth the risk as far as he was concerned. He just hoped that everyone else agreed that this was a necessary plan.
'Every ten years, the planet undergoes a reset of sorts. For one week, the storms settle and disappear, the air clears enough and some brave pilots attempt to rescue anyone still alive down there. This is the only time it's safe to go near the Shadow Hell and it won't last long.' Fenril guided, gaze flicking to Hera. 'It's up to you Hera. If you feel that it's too risky, we won't do it.'
'There's definitely life down there, it's weak but there is something. We can't be sure how many, the signals are too weak and twisted together.' Kanan sighed, returning to the group around the holotable. 'If I had to guess, I'd say there's probably six or seven down there.'
'I was thinking nine or ten but it's really hard to tell.' Ezra nodded, looking up at the clones. 'One signal stood out, it kind of reminded me of Cody's signature.'
'Vode.' Gregor uttered, focus snapping towards the planet. 'Our vode are down there.'
'Anything else we should be aware of?' Hera asked, meeting Fenril's gaze through the holo.
'Even with the storms gone, the atmosphere will still be highly charged. For safety, I advise removing the power packs from all weapons and ensuring all of them are drained of power. I would also suggest that Chopper and Wolffe remain on the cruiser, the charge in the air could do serious harm to them both.' Fenril shrugged, trying to ignore the growl from Wolffe.
'All that energy could cause a short and make things explode.' Sabine breathed, eyes widening in horror at the idea. 'Wolffe, you have to stay away. If that cybernetic blows, it'll kill you.'
Take care 'we'll take care of it, vod. Stay here and make sure everything is ready for any vode we bring back.' Rex promised, turning to Wolffe. 'We can't lose you now.'
'I don't like it but alright, I'll stay.' Wolffe nodded, looking away from his brothers. 'I just don't like being left behind.'
'We'll come back, vod. We'll always come back.' Cody promised, wrapping one arm around Wolffe's back. 'We're a family; we'll always find our way home.'
'Chopper won't like this but I'll talk him around. Just tell me when we're clear to go and we'll retrieve as many as we can.' Hera declared, confident in Fenril's briefing.
'The storms should start to ease in the next twelve hours. It would be best if we were in a close orbit in eleven hours so the moment the storms start to ease, we can make our move.' Fenril directed, pointing to the holo. 'Records show that the storms usually start to abate at the poles and slowly fade out towards the equator. Usually it takes about four hours for it to completely calm.'
Refusing to show he was anxious, Rex strode from the Ghost and looked across the desolate plains of the Shadow Hell. He still had no idea how anyone could survive down here, the place was truly hopeless. Everything gleamed with an impossible shine, turned to stone after who knew how long exposed to these storms.
'Which way?' Cody asked, looking around slowly and shuddering. 'It's so cold here.'
'The main tangle of life signs is to the west. It's not far, probably onto a five minute walk. There's another tangle of life signs over to the north, so I'm going to check that out.' Kanan guided, pointing out the right paths.
'Try to keep the Ghost in sight; we've got no comms down here.' Fenril warned, handing around packs loaded with flasks of hot soup and fresh water.
'The north group is smaller, we should be okay with just three. It's that western group I'm worried about, I still can't tell how many are there.' Ezra added, shouldering into his pack.
'This place is so spooky.' Sabine uttered, feeling super exposed without her armour as she joined Kanan and Ezra.
'We'll go with the clones, between the five of us we should be able to handle anything out there.' Zeb shrugged, slipping on his pack and stepping out onto the glassy plains. 'This is so wrong.'
'I'll stay here. If you lose sight of the Ghost, just call out and I'll try to guide you back.' Hera agreed, looking up at the sky nervously. 'Let's make this fast. I don't want to be here longer than necessary, just in case.'
With nothing else to guide them except Kanan's vague direction, Cody took the lead as they trekked west. Concentrating on keeping them walking a straight path, he listened to Gregor counting their steps and noted Rex looking back every ten steps to make sure the Ghost was still in sight. Zeb and Fenril stayed out on the flanks, watching for threats or anyone else wandering across this desolate wasteland.
Cresting a small rise, Cody stopped short and stared in horror at the scene below them. This spot had the feeling of a dried riverbed, the lowest point probably only two feet beneath the slight rise where Cody was standing. Even up close, it was hard to tell just how many figures were down there, huddled together in the meagre shelter provided by the shattered remains of an old escape pod. Just from the size of the huddle, Cody estimated perhaps eight people but it was almost impossible to be certain in the muted light.
'What's the plan?' Rex uttered, sidling up beside him.
'We go down there and make nice. I seriously doubt any of them are a threat.' Cody replied, adjusting the straps on his pack.
Jaw dropping when he distinctly heard someone call his name, Cody looked again even as he started walking towards the group. Ezra had told them he sensed clones and as Cody got closer, he could make out more details in the group. Not just one or two vode but twelve of them, all huddled together in an attempt to stay safe. Breaking into a run, Cody closed the distance fast and skidded to a stop just short of the group. Slipping off his pack, he sunk to his knees and set his pack aside as he just stared in horror at what he was seeing. He had never imagined that his brothers could look this weak and helpless.
His brothers were little more than skin and bones, clinging desperately to each other as they stared right back at him with sunken eyes. Suddenly three of them were moving, still holding tight to each other as they reached for him. Even after all their time apart, Cody recognised them almost instantly and had to swallow his grief at the sight of them so battered and broken. All three were covered in thick scars and infected gashes; clear signs of torture if ever Cody had seen them but they also had far more serious injuries to contend with. Boil, pain flooding his gaze as he tried to crawl forward despite the horrific angles of both legs. Crys, left arm hanging limp as he pulled Boil forward. Jester, his back a mass of infection and barely congealed blood but still he kept tugging on Boil and Crys, determined to help them.
'You found us…you found us.' Boil uttered, collapsing against Cody's chest.
'No…you can't be here.' Crys whispered, sagging against Cody's side. 'You don't deserve this.'
'You deserve to live.' Jester gasped, huddling into Cody's back.
'No one is dying today. We've got a chance to get off this rock.' Cody insisted, trying to hold onto his brothers. 'We're getting out of here. There's a ship just over the rise, we came to save you while the storms are quiet.'
'You really mean that?' Crys asked, trying to get even closer.
'We can go home?' Jester gasped, hugging Cody tighter to his chest.
'We're safe now?' Boil breathed, clinging tighter to Cody.
'You're safe now, all of you. No one will ever hurt you again, I promise. We'll get far away from this place, you'll never have to fear being alone.' Cody nodded, settling for wrapping one leg around Boil and curling his arms around Crys and Jester. 'I'll keep you safe, all of you.'
Sick to stomach at the sight before him, Fenril headed towards the group farthest from the pod. They were a mess, the lingering scent of rot hanging around them as they held tight to each other. One rocked back and forth slowly, showing no signs of noticing Fenril's presence as his brothers clasped his hands securely. Another sprawled on the ground, revealing a deep gash on his lower back that gaped obscenely to reveal the dull white of shattered bone. The third looked even worse, trying to hold together several bloody gashes over his ribs without letting go of his rocking brother.
'You look…familiar.' the one holding his ribs uttered, peering at Fenril curiously.
'I remember you Jek. I used to sell cookies outside the barracks.' Fenril nodded, setting his pack down and pulling out a medpack.
'Oh…Fenril…hey.' the one with the spinal injury uttered, shifting a little and revealing a small tattoo on his side.
'Rest easy Fox, you're safe now.' Fenril soothed, flicking his gaze to the third brother.
'They drugged Thire…Not sure what.' Jek offered, squeezing the hand he still held. 'Been like this…since we fell.'
'We'll figure it out once we get back to the ship. It's going to be okay, we'll get through this together.' Fenril promised, gently lifting Jek's hand away from the deep gashes and wrapping them firmly. 'That should hold until we get to a proper infirmary.'
'We're really…going home?' Fox asked, looking towards Thire again.
'Yeah, you're coming home Fox. You're never going to be alone again, we'll take care of you.' Fenril smiled, dressing the ugly wound on Fox's back as a temporary measure. 'It's all going to be okay in the end.'
Still trying to accept that they'd located so many brothers in such terrible condition, Rex didn't even try to process the situation fully. He just dropped and welcomed three painfully familiar faces to his chest, reassuring them and trying to coax them to eat something. It was almost impossible to get them to let go long enough for him to get the flasks out, much less actually eat something after who knew how long. Rex was just glad to have his boys back, giving him a chance to make up for all they had suffered. Hawk, snatched from the sky and thrown into a dark world. Kix, still trying to do his duty despite his lack of a right arm and left foot. Jesse, his old GAR tattoo a mess of puss, blood and thick scars.
'I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I'm here and we'll leave this place together. You need your strength though, I'm not strong enough to carry you all to safety.' Rex tried, fumbling to get his pack open without letting go of his brothers. 'Here, I have fresh soup and water.'
'Don't wanna eat…just wanna be close.' Hawk mumbled, snuggling even closer to Rex's left side.
'I'm not going anywhere Hawk.' Rex soothed, lifting his gaze as Zeb crouched beside them and started opening flasks and handing them around. 'Those three closer to the pod are Wolffe's boys. The other three were Corrie Guards.'
'It's all under control Rex. Focus on your boys, Fenril and Gregor can handle the others.' Zeb promised, running a kind hand over Kix's back. 'Got a bit of a plan about getting everyone back to the ship but it's not gonna be easy.'
'We're a tough breed, Zeb. We'll get there.' Rex smiled, relaxing a little as Kix started sipping at the offered soup. 'That's it, nice and slow.'
'It's really good.' Kix offered, looking up from his first meal in weeks. 'Eat up Jesse, you need your energy.'
'Hurts so much.' Jesse whimpered, huddling into Rex's warmth as he lifted the cup to his lips with shaking hands.
'We'll get you some medical care real soon.' Rex promised, careful not to touch the inflamed, infected mess over his head. 'I wish I had something for the pain but it's safer to wait.'
'Don't let go.' Hawk pleaded, refusing to let go of Rex's arm as he started on his soup.
'Never, Hawk. I'll always be right here.' Rex replied, pushing down his anger and grief until later. 'I'm right here, I'll keep you safe.'
Seriously wishing that Wolffe had agreed to come on this retrieval mission despite the risks, Gregor made his way to the last trio huddled near the pod and knelt, reaching out to them and hoping that they were willing to trust an unfamiliar brother. It really wasn't a huge surprise that this little group hadn't moved, not with the injuries they were dealing with. All three had been severely burned multiple times, the scars thick and puckered all over. The one in the middle was in even worse shape, his lower body covered in blood and what looked suspiciously like bone fragments. By the sheer amount he could see, Gregor had a terrible feeling that this brother would never walk properly again.
'Please…if you can…only help one…save Warthog.' the one on the right pleaded, lifting his gaze slowly.
'Hey, we didn't come all the way out here to leave anyone behind.' Gregor replied, offering out a canteen. 'Here, ease your thirst.'
'I don't…recognise you.' the one on the left mumbled, accepting the canteen gratefully. 'Thanks.'
'The name's Gregor. I'm a friend of Wolffe's.' Gregor offered, shuffling closer and looking at the trio again. 'He decided it was too risky to come down here, given the charged atmosphere.'
'He's okay?' the one of the right asked, helping Warthog take a few small sips of water. 'I'm Boost…that's Sinker.'
'He's waiting for you in orbit.' Gregor nodded, looking around quickly. 'We'll get you up there as soon as possible.'
'It's been years.' Sinker whispered, taking the canteen again. 'I hope he…remembers.'
'He doesn't know who is here but he's eager to find out. No doubt you three will be especially important to him.' Gregor smiled, not really sure how they were meant to transport so many wounded back to the Ghost without any equipment or extra hands.
Looking around at the exhausted clones, Zeb resettled his pack and straightened slowly. They needed to get moving, these poor souls desperately needed proper medical care but the challenge would be moving them all in one group without any support. Zeb had a plan, he knew it could work but it all depended on the willingness of the clones to accept him.
'Zeb, it might be smart for you to head back to the Ghost and bring reinforcements.' Rex suggested, looking up from his precious brothers.
'Even with all hands, we'd never get everyone back to the Ghost in one trip. There's another way but it won't be easy.' Zeb replied, doing another headcount to make sure he was right.
'So what's the plan?' Gregor asked, doing what he could to ease Warthog's pain.
'By the looks of things, we've got eight that can walk with assistance and four that will need to be carried. I'm strong enough to carry four, leaving you to support and guide the walking wounded.' Zeb suggested, genuinely concerned that his plan wouldn't work. 'But it's going to take a lot of trust from everyone involved.'
'Can you really do that?' Crys asked, lifting his head slowly.
'He can, I've seen him run laps of the hanger with Rex and Wolffe under his arms.' Cody nodded, tightening his hold on Crys for a moment. 'Making to the Ghost won't strain him.'
'But how?' Fox asked, rolling onto his side without letting go of Thire's hand.
'That's the easy bit. One on his back, perched on the pack. One in his each arm and the fourth holding on around his neck. Zeb's got the strength to do it and the reach to make everyone comfortable for the short walk back to the Ghost.' Fenril replied, looking around slowly. 'Fox will have to be carried. Spinal damage.'
'So will Warthog.' Gregor added, settling back on his haunches. 'He's in bad shape.'
'I can't walk either.' Boil admitted, shifting slowly in Cody's hold.
'I'm probably the lightest of the four, I'll get on the back.' Kix offered, easing his grip on Rex. 'I'll need help to get up though.'
'So Kix on the back, Boil and Warthog in my arms and Fox in front?' Zeb shrugged, moving into the middle of the group and sinking into a crouch. 'Any other ideas?'
Gently untangling Hawk's hands from his shirt and guiding him to hold onto Jesse for a few minutes, Rex shuffled out of his little group and eased Kix up onto his one remaining foot. Carefully picking Kix up, Rex carried him over to Zeb and lifted him up to perch on the solid pack. Shifting into the most comfortable position, Kix placed his left hand on Zeb's head for balance and leant forward a little as he straightened from his crouch. This was easily one of the strangest things Kix had ever done, wobbling on his seat for a few moments before figuring out how to stay stable on the uneven seat.
'You okay up there?' Zeb asked, keeping his head still so Kix could use it for balance.
'Yeah, wouldn't want to stay here for long but I'm okay.' Kix nodded, looking around slowly. 'I think I can see the Ghost. Looks like a Corellian VCX-100 light freighter but it's heavily modified from the standard.'
'Yeah, that's the Ghost.' Fenril confirmed, getting to his feet. 'Who next?'
'Keep an eye on it, I might need you to guide me towards it once I've got everyone.' Zeb added, turning around slowly. 'Boil and Warthog together.'
Hiding his panic through strength of will alone, Wolffe stared out through the protective shield and watched the Ghost shake off the last of the charge build up before getting too close. Hera had reported in, letting everyone know to prepare for twelve in need of urgent medical care but no amount of coaxing or begging could get her to reveal even one name. So he waited in silence, hoping that at least one of his pack brothers had managed to survive hell and come back to him. He didn't care who it was, he'd gladly take any of his boys back. Hell, he'd settle for someone who had been with any of his pack brothers over the last few years. He needed to know if any of his pack brothers had survived, he was going crazy with worry about his favourite brothers.
Pushing down the urge to run to the Ghost the moment it slipped through the shield, Wolffe dug deep for his command mindset and followed Chopper across the deck. He could hear the medical teams behind him, ready to accept the wounded and whisk them down to the infirmary but Wolffe had made it clear that he got first look at the wounded. Stepping forward as the ramp lowered, he barely had a chance to put one foot on the ramp before Fenril and Zeb were there, bringing three battered and exhausted brothers with them.
'Wolffe!' Boost cried, letting go of Fenril and stumbling down to him.
'You're alive!' Sinker called, practically falling into Wolffe's arms.
'I've got you, you're safe now.' Wolffe soothed, clutching the pair carefully to his chest. 'Boost, Sinker, I've missed you.'
'He was asking for you before he passed out.' Zeb explained, stopping just behind Boost and Sinker. 'It was only fair that you had to wait for answers like everyone else.'
'Warthog.' Wolffe uttered, releasing his other pack brothers to take the unconscious pilot into his arms. 'Thank you for bringing them home.'
'Now it's up to you to keep them safe.' Fenril smiled, turning and heading back up the ramp.
'I will. I'll keep them all safe.' Wolffe promised, looking down at Warthog's still face. 'I won't ever let anyone hurt you again.'
'We lost Comet. He was murdered for refusing to hand over any forgotten Republic codes he might have known.' Sinker uttered, curling one hand over Wolffe's shoulder for support.
'Spitter didn't make it either. Those bastards used him as live target practise.' Boost shuddered, clutching at Wolffe for balance as they headed towards the waiting medics.
'We'll hold a memorial for them once you've recovered from your ordeals.' Wolffe nodded, gently setting Warthog on the nearest gurney. 'Rest now, I need to help bring the others to safety.'
'Go, we understand.' Boost nodded, settling back and watching Wolffe head back to the Ghost.
Making his way up the ramp again, Wolffe looked around at the rescued brothers and swallowed heavily as he approached Fox and eased to one knee beside him. Trying to ignore the way he hands were shaking, he reached out and welcomed Fox into his embrace, so glad to have a second chance to make up for the horrible things he'd said to the former Guard Commander.
'Forgive me, vod, for all those hurtful things I said.' Wolffe uttered, so relieved to know Fox had survived hell and come home. 'Ni ceta.'
'Forgiven and forgotten, ner vod. Wer'cuy, we've got bigger problems now.' Fox replied, fingers digging into Wolffe's back. 'My legs don't work anymore. I need your help now more than ever.'
'I'm here, I've got you. I'll keep you safe.' Wolffe promised, willing to do anything for his brothers. 'I'll carry you, I won't leave you behind.'
'Watch over Thire and Jek, they're in rough shape. Thire's been drugged, no idea what but we had to bind his hands to stop him tearing at his skin.' Fox nodded, snuggling closer to Wolffe as he shivered. 'So cold.'
'I'll keep them safe and watch over them.' Wolffe confirmed, shifting his grip and lifting Fox from the chill floor. 'It's going to be okay. You'll get the best of care here.'
'Don't start with the poodoo again. I'm useless now.' Fox sighed, wrapping his arms around Wolffe's shoulders.
'No you're not. You don't need legs to share your knowledge.' Wolffe grinned, easing to his feet and making sure Fox was properly supported. 'There are so few of us left now, I'm not about to let you give up.'
'Thank you.' Fox whispered, hanging his head. 'How many survived?'
'Far as I know, sixteen. Started as just Rex, Gregor and I but we found Cody on an Imp cruiser a few months back and now your twelve.' Wolffe offered, making his way down the ramp. 'There might still be others out there but I don't know where.'
Making Fox comfortable, Wolffe went back for Thire and Jek, promising them safety and protection as he led them to the medical team and made sure they understood that Thire needed to be kept restrained. They didn't like it but when they saw the deep scratches all over his skin, they agreed to keep him secure until the drugs were out of his system. It hurt to see so few of his brothers left, it really hurt to see them in such terrible condition but the greatest hurt came from knowing that there was no way they could possibly save every clone that had managed to survive this far. They just didn't have the resources to track down and rescue everyone.
'Sixteen survivors out of the entire GAR?' Boil uttered, half sitting up as he looked around.
'Sure beats thinking there was only four left.' Rex sighed, easing Kix back and turning to take Hawk from Fenril. 'Easy now Hawk, you're safe here.'
'But there used to be millions of us.' Fox remarked, reaching out to grasp Wolffe's hand.
'Emphasis on used to be. The Empire went on a rampage against clones not long after 66. Only those considered of tactical value were kept. The rest were discarded with typical Imperial efficiency.' Cody explained, shaking his head slowly as he settled Jester. 'I was one of the lucky ones, permitted to live and train their recruits but robbed of everything that made me unique. Reduced to just a number, forbidden to own anything or decorate my cubicle and forced to work 16 hours a day without a break.'
'No wonder you slept a straight 24 after we got you home.' Gregor grinned, gently caressing Thire's sweaty face. 'Life will be better now that you're all here. We're not expected to fight anymore, we're here as advisors and trainers.'
'Well, we do get the occasional mission but those are usually super easy.' Wolffe agreed, squeezing Fox's hand lightly. 'Mostly we're playing fake stormtroopers.'
'There will be time to reminisce and plan later. Right now, these lucky few need medical attention. We're also expected to help make a decision on what to do about the Shadow Hell.' Fenril shrugged, resting his hand on Jesse's shoulder. 'Rest now, you're in good hands. You've survived hell, now the good times can begin anew.'
'And here I was hoping that we might have time to take a break before the debrief.' Kanan groused, rubbing at his shoulder quickly.
'Sorry love. Commander Sato said he wanted the debrief immediately.' Hera sighed, resting her hand on his back. 'It shouldn't take long.'
Finally managing to get some time in private with the Ghost crew, Fenril and Zeb braced for what was certain to be a challenging conversation. They had already told everyone of their plans to leave but now was the time to explain the rest of their plans and inform the crew that they were leaving soon. The final progress call had come from the genetic specialist, informing them that their children were due to be removed from their gestation tanks next week and the happy parents had promised to be there for the moment.
Clutching at the precious holodisk containing all the progress images of their little family, Fenril sunk down at the table in this small briefing room and smiled softly as Zeb stood behind him. Relaxing into the powerful hands resting on his shoulders, he looked around at the gathered crew and smiled softly.
'as you probably recall, Zeb and I warned you several months ago that we would eventually leave the Rebellion and start a new life together somewhere far from the war. We promised to stay and continue the fight until the right time, but that time wasn't decided by us. Almost nine months ago, we contacted a genetic specialist to see if it was possible to create a family for us. He agreed that it was possible and gave us fair warning that it would also be risky. He'd never tried to blend Lasat and human DNA into one living being, the challenge intrigued him and he accepted our deal. He's been in contact with us throughout the gestation, sending regular updates and keeping us informed of the losses.' Fenril started, watching the reactions around the table.
'So that meeting with your lawyer about confirming the marriage?' Hera asked, instantly suspicious of the pair.
'We did that too.' Zeb replied, meeting Hera's gaze calmly. 'We had no promises that this would even work. Didn't see the point in getting our hopes up until we knew for sure.'
'Surely you can understand our hesitation, Hera. Not only did we have to face the chance that it wouldn't work but we also ran the risk of the Empire discovering his hidden laboratory and destroying everything before our children were safe.' Fenril added, reaching up to rest one hand over Zeb's lightly.
'How many are you having?' Sabine asked, leaning forward in her chair as her eyes lit with excitement at the news.
'We're not totally sure yet. We were told to expect a high mortality rate so the fact that eight have survived so far is great.' Zeb smiled, proud as any new parent could be.
'From what we've seen of them, we've got an interesting mix.' Fenril grinned, activating the holodisk and sliding it to the middle of the table.
Hovering over the table, the eight tiny babies kicked and turned in their vats, each one a perfect reminder of what was perfect. Two were clearly human, faint markings visible on their skin the only hint of their mixed parentage. Two were noticeably Lasat, tumbling around in their vats happily. The last four were harder to identify, two looked almost human if not for the tails curled around them and the other two were more Lasat but with human faces and hands.
'Wait a minute, those two have tails.' Ezra blurted, pointing to the precious child.
'Of course they do. Both my parents had tails, so did several of my siblings. There was always a good chance that at least one of them would develop a tail.' Zeb shrugged, watching the eight little darlings in their pods.
'Uh, have you decided which name to give them? Kallus or Orrelios?' Kanan asked, totally focused on the eight blessings.
'We're planning on splitting that too. Those with mostly a mostly Lasat appearance will be given Kallus and those of human appearance will be Orrelios.' Fenril nodded, smiling fondly at their offspring. 'It was the fairest way we could think of doing it.'
'Where are you going to make this new home?' Hera asked, tearing her gaze away from the unborn children.
'At this point, we're keeping that a closely guarded secret. It's nothing personal, we just aren't sure if we'll have to abandon our first home because of the Empire. When we're reasonably confident that the Empire aren't interested in us, we'll let you know where we end up.' Fenril shrugged, looking up at Zeb with a smile.
'Only two people know where we're plannin' on callin' home and until the kids are a little older, we're keepin' it that way. Just want to keep the little ones safe.' Zeb agreed, reaching out to retrieve the holodisk. 'We won't shut you out totally, we just need some time to adjust to parenthood and civilian life.'
'Be safe out there, both of you. Blessings to your family, I hope they are all delivered safe and healthy. Good luck in whatever you decide to do with your lives.' Hera nodded, accepting their choice even though she would have preferred not to break the team.
'We appreciate that, Hera.' Zeb smiled, handing the disk back to Fenril.
'There is one small thing you could help us with, Hera.' Fenril added, tucking the disk away safely. 'I arranged to have a shuttle left at a specific location, knowing full well that we wouldn't be able to borrow the Phantom to pick up the kids and make our way home. We could use a ride to pick up the shuttle, if you don't mind.'
'I can do that small thing for you.' Hera agreed, getting to her feet. 'Where are we going?'
'I have to coordinates here.' Zeb grinned, handing her a datachip. 'We've got a few other people we want to say goodbye to, so how about we leave in three hours.'
'Sounds great.' Hera replied, accepting the datachip and heading for the door.
Landing at the abandoned Republic facility, the crew left the Ghost and approached an older shuttle sitting quietly nearby. The ramp was already lowered and waiting so it was a simple enough task to move all of Fenril and Zeb's belongings across to the smaller ship. They didn't have much anyway but their Rebellion friends had been kind enough to donate a few things for their new home and for the children that would soon become part of the family.
There was nothing else to say, they'd already talked it to death all the way out here and now was just the simple matter of walking away. Except, it wasn't that simple. No one wanted to walk away, they weren't ready to say goodbye just yet. Despite knowing that this day would come, no one was prepared for the pain of going their separate ways.
'Go, you have new responsibilities now. Your children need you.' Hera nodded, a look of such sorrow on her face.
'Best of luck out there. Give the Empire hell for us.' Zeb replied, keeping Fenril tucked close.
'Count on it. We'll make them rue the day them messed with us.' Sabine grinned, holding up the datapad containing all of Fenril's explosive recipes.
'We'll be waiting for your call.' Kanan smiled, curling one arm around Hera's back. 'May the Force be with you.'
'Take care, we'll miss you.' Ezra offered, kicking at a loose pebble as he looked away.
'Stay safe, all of you. We'll meet again someday soon.' Fenril sighed, turning towards their new ship. 'Come on Zeb, we have to go. The children are waiting.'
'Alright, alright.' Zeb sighed, looking back at the Ghost crew one more time before walking up the ramp and disappearing into their shuttle.
Pushing the back door open with his hip, Fenril couldn't wipe the proud smile off his face as he watched his happy little brood scattered around the backyard, dragging their guests into their games and playing with the humble toys they'd been given. Five years since they'd left the Rebellion and gone into hiding, five years of triumph and challenges but they'd made it through as a family.
There was Zeb, talking with Kanan and Hera as Ezlira sat on his lap, playing with the pretty little doll Hera had given her. Ezlira Orrelios had taken mostly after Fenril, except for the big fluffy purple tail poking out from under her dress. She also had Zeb's bright eyes and expressive ears, sticking out through her strawberry blonde curls. She had a softer form of Zeb's facial markings too, the faded purple spreading over her cheeks in graceful rises.
Sabine appeared much younger as she jogged through the party, Sabril giving chase with the toy blaster he'd gotten from Wolffe. Sabril Kallus was every inch a miniature Zeb, except for a small tuft of strawberry blonde at the base of his head. Pale pink freckles covered him from head to toes, creating stunning designs around Zeb's markings. Even at a jog, Sabine could barely keep ahead of little Sabril, he was incredibly fast for being only five.
Sitting in the shade, Rex laughed as Yuella climbed up onto his shoulders and sat there like a Queen on her throne. Yuella Orrelios had come out looking a lot like Fenril, yet it was clear she wasn't totally human either. Her long hair was two-toned, some parts strawberry blonde and others dark purple like Zeb's sideburns. She also had Zeb's eyes and her skin was covered in a more curvaceous version of Fenril's bond marks.
Stretched out beside his hoverchair, Fox smiled proudly as he played a gentle game of catch with little Garalir. He was easily the shyest of the siblings so to see him playing with Fox was truly special. Garalir Kallus looked completely different to all his siblings, mostly Lasat physically except for his head and hands. Around his forearms and neck, purple flesh blended smoothly into pale pink, both skin tones speckled with freckles and Zeb's markings. His hair had started out light but had gone purple as he aged.
Ezra sat near Kanan, talking with Jek and Nyriss Lawquane as two of their little ones played by their feet and Cochel drew something in the sketchbook she'd received from Boil. Every so often, Ezra would look down at her work and compliment her work. Cochel Kallus had definitely been a surprise, developing a ridge of blonde fur over her head and down her back. She was covered in freckles instead of stripes. Physically though, she was clearly a Lasat but Zeb couldn't recall the last time he'd seen a female with a full ridge like hers.
Showing the most incredible patience, Gregor and four of the other clones were only too happy to let Toris clamber all over them. They really didn't seem bothered by his antics, encouraging him to climb and explore around them. Toris Orrelios could easily be mistaken for a pure human with an unusual sense of style. His hair grew out with natural purple tips while the rest was the same strawberry blonde as his siblings. Blessed with only a few freckles and vibrant purple swirling markings over his upper body, he was easily the most energetic of the six.
Spotting Fenril with the cake trays in his hands, Zeb lifted Ezlira off his lap and carefully stood. Turning to the gathering, he smiled fondly at his kids as he made space on the table for the cake and the other special surprise. Stepping past Ezlira carefully, he took one of the trays from Fenril and set it on the table by the back door before pulling out his firelighter and getting busy with the candles.
Chuckling softly as he thought about the special surprise the kids had talked him into, Fenril carefully put the tray he was carrying down amid the remnants of their lunch and waited for the reaction. This one held the brightly decorated birthday cake he'd been working on while the little ones were distracted outside. Covered in little edible toys crafted from sugar, he'd neatly piped all their names in their favourite colours and edged the top in pink and blue candy buttons. On top, six candles flickered merrily. Each one was in the shape of a 5, three in pink and three in blue so each child had their own candle.
'Come on little ones, cake time.' Fenril called, bringing the kids running to the table in anticipation. 'We'll hand out the other cakes first though.'
Using the lid to shield the candles he'd finally finished lighting, Zeb picked up the second tray and turned back to the gathering. This one was loaded with an assortment of cupcakes, decorated by the kids and each one adorned with a single candle. They were all different colours; some had sugar flowers on them, some had sprinkles, a few were covered in crushed nuts and others were left with rough peaks of creamy icing.
'We've been telling the kids stories of our friends, connecting them to the many people that we consider part of our extended family. During one such discussion, the topic of clones and birthdays came up. Since we weren't sure when any of you came into this galaxy, the kids agreed that you deserved a special day and offered to share their birthday with all of you.' Fenril explained, smiling proudly down at his little darlings.
Stunned by the care shown by such young children, Cody couldn't help but get a little misty-eyed as Zeb offered out the tray. For a moment, he just admired the overall effect before picking out a red one with nuts on top. Reaching past him, Boil picked out a bright yellow one decorated with sugar flowers. Still trying to come to terms with the love shown, Jester picked out a purple one covered in chocolate sprinkles as Crys lifted out a green one without any extra decorations.
Watching as each of his brothers selected their own birthday cake and shield the delicate flames with their hands; Rex swallowed the lump in his throat and turned his gaze to the children waiting by the table. Like most clones, Rex had grown up without really thinking about the passing years and his age. He knew the date he'd been pulled from his vat but he never bothered to recognise it. Now though, they could hold their heads high and proudly declare that this day was their birthday, all thanks to the love of six little blessings.
'Thank you, all of you. We don't really have a birthday, not like most people do. We are so happy to share this day with you, not just for this year but for every year after.' Rex offered, keeping things simple for the sake of the youngsters.
Elbowing Cut sharply when it looked like he was going to refuse, Suu smiled up at him and gave him a look that she'd perfected over the years. She could understand his reluctance to admit what he was, the Empire still had bounties out on all surviving clones but they were safe here. Today was worth the risk, they couldn't live in fear for the rest of their lives. Reaching out, he took a pale pink one, curling his free arm around her waist as he smiled softly.
'Happy birthday dad.' Shaeeah uttered, cradling her third child close as she kissed his cheek.
'You deserve this.' Jek added, setting his little girl on his hip as he squeezed Cut's shoulder.
'Happy gramps.' little Trasil chirped, clapping her hands as she looked up at her grandfather.
Looking around to make sure each clone was holding a cake, Zeb returned to Fenril's side and smiled softly as he turned his attention back to their happy little brood. Deep down, he missed the adventures of fighting in the Rebellion but he was far happier to live a simple life and watch his children grow in peace. In his own way, he was keeping the legacy of the Lasat people alive, sharing the stories with his own children and encouraging them to take pride in their mixed heritage. As a parent, he couldn't ask for much more than that really.
'Make a wish and blow out the candles.' Fenril guided, mostly focused on the kids but his words rang out to everyone. 'Happy birthday, all of you.'
'Briikase gote'tuur!' Sabine added, raising her drink in a toast to the clones.
Cuddling closer to Kanan as she watched the kids and the clones blowing out their candles, Hera smiled proudly and glanced towards Chopper as he continued trundling around the party. He was recording everything so everyone could have a permanent reminder of this beautiful day.
'I never thought I'd get to see such innocent joy on their faces.' Kanan remarked, his focus mostly on the clones as they blew out their candles.
'It's nice to see them so relaxed and happy.' Hera agreed, resting her head on his shoulder happily. 'But you didn't mean it like that, did you?'
'A little of both.' Kanan shrugged, still a little self-conscious about his cybernetic eyes. He'd had them for years now and Wolffe had been a huge help through the adjustment period but it still felt so strange to look at his reflection and see two white screens where his eyes had once been.
Slipping in between the kids, Fenril made short work of cutting up the main cake as Shaeeah and Jek ushered their own kids over to join the birthday brood at the table. Once the kids were all distracted with sweet treats, he started serving up for the adults and chuckled softly as Zeb stepped in to help share the plates around.
'Daddy, why does Kanan feel different to everyone else?' Sabril asked, looking up from his cake.
'Yeah, he seems…sad.' Garalir added, turning his gaze towards Kanan.
'What? How did…' Kanan blinked, stunned that the little ones had picked up on that.
'Uh, yeah, we forgot to mention that one.' Zeb grinned, offering out two plates. 'All six are highly attuned to the Ashla.'
'Oh.' Hera uttered, accepting one plate and starting to nibble on the offered cake.
'Should have seen that coming.' Kanan added, taking the other plate. 'If you ever need…'
'I got it Kanan. They're already doing just fine learning to use the Ashla as I did. Gonna keep it quiet, not gonna risk the Empire getting our kids.' Zeb replied, refusing to even consider letting one of his kids run off to join the Jedi.
Taking a seat as the kids went wild up the back, running around with the Ghost crew, most of the Lawquane family and some of the clones, Fenril sighed softly and let his shoulders droop. It was always a challenge keeping up with six kids, they were all so full of energy so it was a huge blessing to have some extra hands to help.
'Do you miss it?' Fox asked, coming up beside him. 'Fighting for the galaxy.'
'I used to, when the kids were tiny. But now, I don't really have the time to miss it.' Fenril shrugged, scratching at his hair. 'Raising those six takes most of our time and energy.'
'Yeah, I can see that.' Fox chuckled, shifting in his chair quickly. 'They really are cute kids…not that I have much experience with kids.'
'We're truly blessed to have them.' Fenril grinned, constantly watching over his kids. 'How goes the war?'
'I don't really know. Aside from offering advice and suggesting sites to raid for supplies or prisoners, I stay away from the daily running of the Rebellion.' Fox shrugged, looking down at his feet. 'Better to leave that to those of sound mind and body.'
'Doesn't that get boring? I'm no expert but I remember clones struggling to sit still.' Fenril remarked, reaching for the drink he'd left sitting on the chair beside him.
'Well, I do kind of miss the thrill of combat but I've got a new purpose now.' Fox admitted, lifting his gaze slowly. 'Whenever the able-bodied are needed for a mission, I'm the one tasked with watching out for those who can't fight anymore.'
'Like Hawk and Sinker.' Fenril nodded, reaching out to rest one hand on Fox's shoulder. 'I'm glad you've at least got something to keep you busy.'
'Hawk and Sinker mostly look after each other, I keep an eye on them out of habit. Mostly I watch over those four over there.' Fox replied, pointing to four unusual clones resting under a nearby tree. 'No one knows for sure how much longer they'll survive so we're trying to give them the best life possible.'
'Who are they?' Fenril asked, trying not to think about Fox's words too much.
'They used to be a nasty special operations team, Clone Force 99. Now, they're shadows of those great men. Hunter, Wrecker, Tech and Crosshairs.' Fox sighed, pointing out each man as he named them. 'We rescued them from an old Republic prison that was used by the Seppies during the Clone Wars and fell into Imperial control after 66. We still haven't been able to figure out what the Imps did to those four but it's taking a huge toll on them.'
'I would like to think you made sure they can't make the kids sick.' Fenril warned, instantly wary of the four men under the tree.
'It's not like that, Fenril. The medics are confident that it's not contagious but they don't know what it is.' Fox soothed, rolling his eyes quickly. 'We all got tested for any dangerous diseases as soon as your invite came through. Didn't want to risk anyone getting sick because of us.'
Starting to get up as Garalir wandered away from the games, Fenril's jaw dropped in disbelief as his precious little boy instead turned and walked over to the quartet under the tree. Rubbing at his eyes, he skirted around Tech and tugged at Wrecker's shirt quickly. From here, Fenril couldn't hear what was said. He just watched in amazement as his shy little boy settled in Wrecker's arms and promptly dozed off.
'What? He's never done that before.' Fenril muttered, dropping back into his chair. 'Garalir never lets anyone else hold him like that. He's not a people person, he never has been.'
'Interesting that he picked Wrecker. Of all the guys, he's easily the strongest and probably the most violent. Well, he used to be the strongest and most violent. Now he's just scared of the unknown. At one point, he flipped a crashed gunship to rescue Cody from underneath it.' Fox added, watching the little boy snuggle into Wrecker's chest.
Leaning back in his seat, Fenril considered what Fox had said and watched the way that Wrecker and his brothers protected Garalir among them. If they were as sick as Fox claimed, perhaps being in the middle of a war wasn't the best idea for them. Of course, there was always a chance that Zeb wouldn't agree to this idea but it was worth trying at least.
'Well, perhaps they could stay here. The war hasn't come to Saleucami and it's doubtful that it ever will. No one really cares about this little corner of the galaxy. They'd be safe here, able to live out the rest of their days in peace and comfort.' Fenril suggested, his shock growing as Yuella came back to cuddle up to Crosshair.
'Is that really fair on you? I mean, it's not easy taking care of them, they're on all kinds of medication and get weekly scans to see what their tumours are doing.' Fox sighed, still watching his four ill brothers.
'But is that what they really want? Have you considered that they're putting up with the medical interventions just to make you happy?' Fenril asked, nudging Fox sharply.
'No…none of us even mentioned that idea. I guess it's possible some of them think it but we don't talk about it.' Fox admitted, shaking his head slowly. 'What have we done?'
'Let me talk to them. If they want to stay, I promise I'll give them the best of care, according to their wishes. When the time comes, we'll give them a proper farewell and see that they get the respect they deserve.' Fenril offered, figuring it wouldn't hurt to at least get Fox onside with this idea. 'Don't they deserve a chance to die with dignity?'
Settling back into their usual routines once all their guests had gone back to their lives, Zeb smiled softly as he finished the evening patrol around their home and stepped inside. It was still hard to believe that their lives had changed so much in just a week and all because Fenril took a chance on a team of broken men. Admittedly, Zeb had been a little surprised by the news but he knew Fenril wouldn't have offered if he had any doubts about the new arrangement. At least the four clones were quiet and peaceful most of the time, helping out where they could and always speaking up if they weren't feeling great.
Hanging up his Bo-rifle, well out of the reach of the kids, Zeb's smile only grew as he padded into the living room and settled among his extended family. Stretched out on the floor, the kids happily coloured in the simple drawings Tech and Hunter were drawing. Hunter's designs were fairly basic, just repeating geometric designs while Tech was producing simplified images of various land and space vehicles from across the galaxy.
Beside them, a little closer to the small heater, Wrecker held Crosshair loosely in his arms, soothing his brother through another attack by the looks of him. That was probably the biggest challenge with taking these four in; dealing with their various issues without upsetting the kids. It wasn't so bad with Hunter and Wrecker, they bore the pain with quiet dignity and stayed away from the kids if they weren't feeling great. Tech and Crosshair were harder to manage, their tumours made everything difficult for them but they did their best to keep their agony and frustration hidden from the kids.
Welcoming Fenril in against his side, Zeb held him close as he relaxed ad thought back over everything he'd learned about the quartet now sharing their home for as long as they wanted. No one knew how long that would be, though Hunter occasionally mentioned his fear that he would be first. Of the four, his tumours had spread even further, sprouting up in almost every major organ and slowly growing bigger. Crosshair never let slip how much he hurt, Zeb could see it in his eyes as he battled the disease running through his veins. Tech faced each day with a quiet dignity, refusing to admit he was terrified of the mass in his head. Wrecker had to be extremely careful, his bones growing weaker each day as his disease took from his body.
Pressing a soft kiss to Fenril's head as Hunter told the kids it was bedtime, Zeb smiled softly as the kids gave their usual complaints about not being tired but started packing up anyway. That had been the one big advantage of welcoming the clones into their home and family, Zeb and Fenril finally had some time to themselves again. It wasn't always much and they usually didn't do anything more than snuggle and talk, but the gift was greatly appreciated.
Giving each of the kids a goodnight kiss and cuddle, the happy parents relaxed as the clones escorted the kids upstairs and started getting them ready for bed. Once the kids were asleep, the clones would turn in as well, leaving the couple alone for a few precious hours.
'Do you think we'll ever see them again?' Fenril asked, shifting against Zeb's side.
'Who? The other clones or the Ghost crew?' Zeb shrugged, looking down at Fenril. 'I'd like to think we will but there's no way to know for sure. The war makes it hard to guess.'
'I told the other clones that if they wanted to retire to a peaceful life, we'd always have a space for them.' Fenril sighed, nuzzling Zeb softly. 'Also mentioned that'd we'd make a place for them to bury their dead.'
'I was thinking of fencing off the area under Sun Peak for them.' Zeb nodded, mind drifting to the unusual rock formation not far from the house.
'Sounds like the perfect place for them.' Fenril agreed, also thinking of the curved rock where the sunrise always hit first.
Shifting a little and tugging Fenril into his lap, Zeb lightly traced the wrinkled on his face and tried not to think about losing his love any time soon. There was no getting around it though, humans simply didn't live as long as Lasat did.
'No sorrow Zeb, not tonight. We have a good life here, with six wonderful children and many friends. Leave the dark thoughts for another night.' Fenril coaxed, recognising the look in Zeb's eyes. 'I love you, my heart. You complete my soul.'
'I love you, my heart. You complete my soul.' Zeb repeated, pushing aside his worries for now and focusing on his love. 'Are you happy now, love?'
'Garazeb, I was happy when we first made love. I was thrilled when we moved in together. I was ecstatic when we got married. I was overjoyed when we started a family. Now, I am content and at peace with the love of my life.' Fenril smiled, cuddling into Zeb's chest. 'Are you happy?'
'I'm the happiest Lasat in the galaxy.' Zeb grinned, resting his chin in Fenril's hair. 'Get some rest, love. Tomorrow's another day.'
'Sounds like a plan, my heart.' Fenril agreed, eyes sliding closed as he relaxed. 'I choose you to be my life mate, my heart and my completed soul.'
'I choose you to be my life mate, my heart and my completed soul.' Zeb repeated, mind drifting to their union ceremony before sleep claimed him.
Well, there it is folks. My first proper Rebels fic done and dusted.
I know the ending isn't the best but I was running out of inspiration and needed to do something. Forgive me.