((READ THIS PART FIRST: http://archiveofourown.org/works/6691987/chapters/16380211))
A 4 year old Sabine Wren escapes the clutches of the stormtroopers and runs after Bo-Katan. “Bo. Bo! Manda'buir! Gedet’ye! I’ll be good. I promise...” The Gonzati ship takes off from the fuselage of the Star Destroyer, Entropy.
She trips over her feet as the stormtroopers race to grab her after to keep her out of the shield hole. Sabine shrieks as kicks the stormtroopers as they dump her in front of black boots. With tears streaming from her eyes, she looks up slowly to see a blue man with red eyes as it was a Chiss named Captain Thrawn.
His hands beside his body, he crouches down to her eye level as he muses about her tears in a calm strong voice. “A Chiss child never cries, but you are Mandalorian. Do Mandalorian children cry like you?”
“Nayc,” Sabine dries her tears as she wipes them with her arms responds slowly.
Thrawn mashes his lips as his red eyes flicker watching this tiny being in fear and hurt the only person she saw as family leave her. He hands the tiny cinnamon complexioned child his handkerchief to wipe her face. Carefully with focus concentration, he wipes away all her tears, as he focuses on revealing her face. “You know, Sabine, you and I will speak Galactic Standard Basic if we are going to communicate with one another for our success. Understand?”
He watches Sabine to observe how much she understands as he muses. "We have no idea how much Mandalorians educate their children formally since Satine Kryze died." He slowly stands looks at this small girl. "My name is Captain Thrawn. Can you say it?”
“Troan,” she said face in the Mandalorian language.
“No. Listen carefully to the sound of my voice, watch my tongue.” He points to his ears and his mouth. “T-H-R-A-W-N. Try that.”
“Tranwn,” her eyes widen in fear she said his name wrong, then sings her next comment without thought. “Troan kebiin, epo hukaat!” Sabine grabs Thrawn's hair and messes it up with a giggle.
Thrawn cannot believe she put her hands on his hair as he combs it back. He blinks several times as it occurs to him, that he understands her Mandalorian comment. He speaks slowly to communicate to her in Mando'a. “Ori’jate. I do have blue skin and my eyes are red. I am a Chiss from the planet, Csilla.” He hopes his response was passable Mandalorian that a 4 year old could understand.
Sabine’s face drops to cry again, but she stops when she looks up at Thrawn and watches the white in his red eyes flicker that follows her moves. She moves to her knees as she sees him follow her moves. Then she rushes to hug him with a snort laugh and smiles. “Tawn. Al’orad Tawn. Vor’e.”
He reaches down to take the small child into his arms and lifts her up to his face. He realizes her tiny body clung to him with complete trust as her heart rate slows. He holds her in his arms as if she is a fragile sculpture with care. He looks at her silky black hair that felt a lot like his blue-black hair. A Mandalorian and a Chiss in terms of humanness were not that much different rang through his mind. He closes his eyes to feel the heartbeat of scared child who requires his knowledge and expertise. He nods committed to jumpstart and save this one Mandalorian child from the warlike brutality of her culture. As his hand rubs her back to soothe her, he realizes the stormtroopers set their blasters on her. He opens his eyes in anger as he rises. “It is okay. We saved another child from galactic poverty. See. The Empire does good. Stand down.”
The stormtroopers nod and lower their weapons.
“The first thing we must do is get you checked by the medical droid to see if your immunizations are complete, and then for a bath, have you ever taken one?” Thrawn dotes on her as her tiny head tilts then she plays with his sigil badge. “No. Hmm? You are in for a treat.” He cares her off to the ship’s infirmary while his men watch him in awe. “What? You have never seen the Empire save poor, destitute children before? It is what we do.”
The men quickly turn back to their stations not to question the Captain.
“Again. Recite the musical notes with their corresponding wavelengths again and start in the visible spectrum,” Thrawn chides a 10 year old Sabine before a holographic board that plays a note, and then shines a color to wait for her to answer correctly. Thrawn watches Sabine's eyes drift outside to the veranda as a soft colorful wisps from a flowering plants land gently in the rooftop garden. He stands a long moment until she notices him, which jerks her attention.
“Violet, 665 angstroms. D sharp?” her voice quavers.
“Wrong.” Thrawn’s voice was flat. “We’ve gone over this many times, Sabine. Why is this difficult for you to understand?”
“It’s E, sir. 665 angstroms is E and violet,” her meek voice speaks.
He closes his eyes to say to himself, there can be no error. “All analysis requires accuracy the first time, Sabine.” He exhales as he places his hand into his face. “I suppose it is how you Mandalorians are, defiant. The Imperials constantly think that.” Memories flash in his mind when he was her age on Csilla as he could recites entire musical chords. He remembers his musical recitals on assigned instruments. When he was her age, he knew organ and viol. The he studies how Sabine reaches out to the wisps with his memory of his preference of electric instruments, such as the red ball jet keyboard and the quetarra guitar. Her freedom to chose. His drilled choice to serve all. Mandalorians freely chose to serve, or not, as he watches her eyes drifts to the veranda. “Sabine, I need you to focus.” He leans into her and follows her daydream to the outside of the sunny day on Sundari, Mandalore. He places his finger underneath his nose to study her and her daydream.
She catches him staring at her as she jolts again in her student desk.
He conceals his laughter of her random movements of sneaking a dream. “Formal lectures are not the only way to learn music and art. Sometimes you have to get up and do it. Grab your easel. If you won’t do your music, then you will paint your song. This time I want it like Deumozama Artus and his concerto treaties.”
Sabine grins in glee. “Yes, sir!” She darts to her quarters to grab her easel and her tiny pots of paints. She races to meet Thrawn on the deck of Sundari capital building. There were various sculptures and art pieces from Thrawn’s private collection assembled on this rooftop. The astromech droid follows him as he lifts his hand like a conductor and moves it down for the official “Artus” piece.
The first few notes Thrawn inhales to ready for the crescendo as it picks of the next adigetto. Then turns to light notes from the string instruments and the woodwinds. Sabine set up to start her live painting to Artus concerto in C-minor. She uses the Chiss sigil of a sunburst pattern as her sketch mark and then transitions into the Mandalorian colors prevalent to her clan. She hears each note, assigns a color that corresponds to the note and moves her brush in a stroke for the form. The final form she paints varies, but Thrawn critiques it and knows her mood after the flash performances. The music changes its pace and pitch with more horns, which confuses Sabine. Instruments with no structure, but many sounds. She paints in odd splashes of color as her brush strokes flare into the canvas.
Thrawn walks to evaluate her progress with his hands behind his back as another crescendo infuses into the symphony and he closes his eyes to absorb the wonderment of the score. He bites his tongue when he opens his eyes to see Sabine’s art. “A wisp of lilies, Sabine?” His voice incredulous. “You caught the color, and the form, but the colors misrepresent the wrong musical notes in the score. Artus was a composer on Ailon. Based on that bit of information, his work would only consist of D-minors and B-sharps.” He lowers his head in disappointment as he blames himself for failing as a teacher.
The astromech droid chirps with a new holomessage from the Empire.
Thrawn waves his hand. “Play it, please.”
The astromech projects an image of Admiral Conan Motti whose disdain it was to speak to Thrawn. “Captain Thrawn, the Empire asks to you to report to Coruscant to your new assignment on the Outer Rim. You have been reassigned. Mandalore now has a Moff, a human. Your duty to Mandalore is over.” The holorecording cuts off.
“No!” Sabine’s eyes widen as she grabs his leg. “You can’t leave me, Al’orad. I’ll do better at art and music. I promise.”
Thrawn absorbs the holorecording as he stands there calculating what that could mean to him and his service. Outer Rim? Why there? He ponders that when he realizes Sabine is at his boot crying, again. “My Sabine, you have grown these past 6 years, and it has not been easy for you. I have a duty and I am expected to serve in whatever capacity my leaders ask me to do it and in the best of my ability.” He picks her up and looks at her with a smile. “I expect you to do your best, and you will attend the Imperial Academy on Mandalore starting tomorrow. I will be your patron.”
“Patron. A person who gives financial support to a person,” Sabine nods her head, proudly.
Thrawn raises his brow in pride and starts to tickle her. “Oh? So I see you have been studying your vocabulary, at least. Very well. I hope some Chiss logic has sunk into that Mandalorian defiant thick skull of yours that I see all the time.”
Sabine wiggles around avoiding his fingers and smiles as he holds his cheeks in her hands. She takes a very serious tone. “Are-are you my father?”
Thrawn stops tickling her. He arches his brow as the loss of light fades from his eyes. After a long silence, he speaks. “No. I am not. I am your friend, Sabine. Always. You must understand that I am always your friend.”
Sabine takes her eyes off him and searches for understanding. His height towers over her to be a playmate. Other parents do not play like he plays with her with lots of art, painting and music. His skin is blue and his eyes are red. By the way he treats her, she ticks a mark off that says parent, but he said he was not her parent, and that is why he was leaving her. Sabine told herself that. Everyone she has known, leaves her. It makes more sense, that Thrawn would leave her, too. “I understand, Sir." She pauses. "You help another girl like me.”
“There will be no other girl like you, ner'Sab'ika, ever,” Thrawn answers, quickly.
“Are you leaving like ner’Manda’buir, did?”
Thrawn frowns at her easy shift to Mandalorian. How did she remembers about her past trauma. How she can flip and use Mandalorian after being taught Galactic Basic Standard? In fact, sometimes he felt if he taught her the Chiss language, Cheunh, Sabine would be able to speak it, fluently. His impression of how well her memory held in such atrocities are what pressed him to teach her appreciation of the art. He knew that art will heal her past pain, much like it does for him. But it was her recall that he admires in her. His reassignment separates his Mandalorian protégé from his protection. She was not mature enough for him to take her with him. Humans mature much slower than Chiss. The best he could do for her was to be her patron. “Not entirely, my Sabine. I will be gone in body, but you can send me holograms of your art anytime. I want you to keep up with your studies, obey your teachers and when you graduate from the Imperial Academy, I will attend your graduation ceremony and you will be under my command. Understand?”
“Understood.” She complies with his order. “Vor entye, Al’orad Thrawn.”
He winces when she reverts to her mother tongue. The Mandalorian never washes out. He sighs because the next Imperial leader on Mandalore will not be as forgiving to them and will exterminate them. Somehow, Thrawn knows that Mandalorian genocide is impossible, but the Empire’s humanocentric xenophobic fears would hunt down Mandalorians, like the Wookiees on Kashyyyk, the Twi'leks on Ryloth, and the Jedi and kill them all. They fortunately not smart enough to come to Csilla.
An aide from his ship walks to Thrawn to notify him of his ship's departure. He held Sabine’s hand and grins as he slowly walks to his ship. The first time he has moved slowly to his military transport not wanting to leave. He kneels before Sabine and stares into her eyes. “My Sabine. Promise me you will be strong and not cry when I have gone?” His voice breaks, infinitesimally.
“I promise,” she leans into him and hugs him tightly.
He held her tightly and closes his eyes as a tiny tear falls. He releases her, spritely with a proud grin, then walks to his ship.
His aide looks to him. “Sir, will you be alright?”
He clears his throat. “Yes. Let’s go.”
The ship lifts off the platform and he waves to his Sabine that 10 year old girl who stands next to an astromech droid. They turn to ants, then into outerspace to the Star Destroyer hanger. As he arrives to the Forward Command, the fleet jumps to lightspeed.