"Hostage!" Hondo's voice rang throughout the ship. "Where is my hostage!?"
Obi-Wan froze a little, his heart suddenly speeding up. He jumped to his feet, slipping a little on some of the bits of wire, metal, and tools Vorg had given him to work with.
A moment later Hondo turned the corner, looking overly happy to see him. "Hostage!" He threw something at Obi-Wan and Obi-Wan caught it a little surprised. He looked down to see what looked like a breathing mask of some sort.
"What is this?"
Hondo beamed at him, eyes wide behind his goggles. "Porlo has found another planet for us to explore for a new base, like that lovely planet we found you on."
Obi-Wan scowled at him a little. "You didn't find me, you kidnapped me." He scowled at Hondo.
"Kidnapped?" Hondo put a hand to his chest. "No, no. Rescued you! From the Draigons!"
Obi-Wan scowled at him again. "Kidnapped."
Hondo waved the accusation off, obviously unbothered. "You should not dwell on the past, little Obi-Wan. There are abandoned planets to explore! Bases to discover! All good pirate crews need a base!"
Obi-Wan frowned. "Why do I need an oxygen mask?"
Hondo beamed again. "Because you are human, and a very small one. Porlo says that the atmosphere is very good for Weequay's and other hardier beings, but not very good for little humans like you."
Obi-Wan scowled. "I'm not little. I'm almost thirteen."
"This is very little." Hondo informed him. "Now hurry, the empty, abandoned planet will not explore itself!"
Obi-Wan scowled again, but carefully put the oxygen mask on.
Hondo smiled at him. "Good, good. Now time to explore!"
It had only been two weeks, but everything in Obi-Wan’s life had been turned completely upside down. He'd been sent away from the Order, beaten by a Hutt, attacked by pirates, crash landed his first ship on a mysterious planet, and then been kidnapped by a completely different set of pirates then the ones that had landed them there in the first place.
Obi-Wan wanted desperately to be brave. To be fearless, just like the Jedi he'd always thought he was meant to be.
But he wasn't brave, he was just scared and tired and hurting.
The pirate in charge waltzed into the room looking absolutely delighted with himself. "A little Jedi Padawan! What a wonderful hostage! Your Jedi Order will pay for very well to get you back."
Obi-Wan felt his heart start pounding, the sound echoing in his ears. "They won't." Only after he'd said it, did Obi-Wan realize that was probably not something he was supposed to tell the pirates. But they'd realize soon enough either way.
The pirate paused. "Of course they will. You are a Jedi Padawan, they are the Jedi Order."
Obi-Wan felt like he was going to suffocate, he was breathing too fast, but somehow despite that, he wasn't getting enough air. "I'm not a Jedi Padawan. They sent me away."
"Not a Jedi Padawan?" The pirate held up the lightsaber they'd taken from him when they'd kidnapped him. "You look like a Jedi Padawan to me."
Obi-Wan felt very small as he shook his head again. "They were sending me to Bandomeer, to be a farmer."
"But there was a Jedi Master? Vorg saw him." The pirate looked confused.
Master Jinn. Did he ever realize Obi-Wan had been taken? Surely Si Treemba had told him. But there had been so much else going on, and Master Jinn had made it very clear that Obi-Wan was not his responsibility. "He didn't want me. He thinks I'm going to Fall."
The pirate didn't look any less confused. "Fall? Are you particularly clumsy?"
Bruck's constant taunts of Oafy-Wan Kenobi rang in Obi-Wan's ears. He was clumsy, and broken, and angry. Bruck had seen it, the Masters and Knights had seen it, Master Jinn had seen it. Obi-Wan had just been the foolish, blind one who hadn't wanted to accept reality.
He couldn't help the small sniffle that escaped. He stuck his jaw out as defensively as possible hoping the pirate hadn't heard, and tried to make his face as blank as Master Windu's had been after Obi-Wan and Quinlan had accidentally broken one of the lifts while some of the Council Masters had been in it.
"What are you going to do to me?" He asked, trying to sound defiant. Pirates liked profit, even Obi-Wan knew that. And if the Jedi Order wouldn't pay for him, then there were other people out there who would pay for Force Sensitives. Obi-Wan suspected that none of them were very nice people.
"Well, ah." The pirate stumbled over his words. "Well, I'll most likely sell you in the morning."
Obi-Wan felt the fear wrap around his throat, thick and choking him.
Obi-Wan took a careful bite of the food the pirates had given him.
He didn’t know why, but for some reason he’d always thought pirates ate gross food, like the sort of things they would find in the commissary on fifth and sixth day.
But the food was surprisingly good. The sleeve of his tunic slipped a little, and Obi-Wan rolled it up so that it wasn’t in his way.
He didn’t realize it was a mistake until the Pirate Captain made a very strange sound.
"Where did you get bruises! That wasn't us! We are very careful with our hostages.”
Obi-Wan flinched, pulling his sleeves down and hiding his arms under the table, hugging himself a little as though that would hide the bruises still on his ribs. "There was a Hutt. I was on the wrong side of the ship." He grimaced a little at the memory.
"A Hutt? You got... A Hutt, what, beat you up?“ The pirate sounded incredulous.
Obi-Wan just shrugged a little, because yes, that was what had happened, and stared at the pirate, Hondo he'd said his name was. Well, Actually he'd said his name was the Great and Honorable Hondo Ohnaka. But the rest of the crew called him Hondo, so that was what Obi-Wan was calling him, at least in his head.
"Mirlen!" Hondo yelled across the room to where a group of pirates were all eating their dinner. "Come be a medic!"
Obi-Wan stared in surprise as one of the other pirates looked up, this one shorter and redder than Hondo. "Whatcha do this time, Hondo?"
Hondo pointed at Obi-Wan. "Not me, the hostage, he got beat up by a Hutt."
The Weequay startled, and Obi-Wan could hear the rest of his group muttering. "A Hutt?" Mirlen asked.
"A HUTT!" Hondo waved his hands out dramatically, and one of the nearby pirates ducked as though he was used to the dramatics. "Who let's a child go..." He shook his head.
"Why do you care?" Obi-Wan asked, defensive. "You're just going to sell me."
Hondo sputtered. "Why—because that's just bad business! You can't have a broken hostage!"
The medic Weequay, Mirlen, had made his way over with what looked like a medic pack and snorted something under his breath, but Obi-Wan couldn't make out what he'd said. The medic pulled at Obi-Wan's tunic, and Obi-Wan glared at him as he pulled it up to look at his bruised ribs. His skin was an ugly green and yellow now. "He should be fine." Mirlen said after a few minutes of carefully poking at Obi-Wan's torso and arms. "But a little bit of bacta wouldn't hurt, if you want to use it on the—" the medic snorted a little, "the hostage."
Hondo glared at the medic. "Then use some."
The medic laughed, pulling some bacta patches from his pack, and wrapping it carefully around Obi-Wan's ribs. The Weequay ran a hand through Obi-Wan's hair. "Take care, kid."
Obi-Wan glared up at him and the Weequay laughed a little before leaving again.
Obi-Wan turned his glare on Hondo, the glare powered more by uncertainty than any actual anger. The pirate ignored his glare. "Finish eating your food. You need your strength."
"You need to heal." The pirate informed him. "And I'll most likely sell you in the morning."
Obi-Wan rubbed at the bacta bandages on his arms and ribs, frowning at the pirate across the table from him who was busy drinking a very heavy alcohol that Obi-Wan had been informed he was far too young to try.
Sometimes Hondo was nicer than Obi-Wan thought pirates were supposed to be. Obi-Wan didn’t understand it at all.
Obi-Wan wandered around the large ship. It was kind of fascinating being on a pirate ship, though he would never admit it to the pirates who'd abducted him.
Sometimes he imagined the Jedi saving him and bringing him back to Coruscant; Quinlan, Reeft, and Garen would be in awe of the adventures he’d had—maybe even a little jealous after all none of them had faced pirates, much less two different crews of pirates. Bant and Luminara would listen to everything he said while holding his hands tightly. And then they'd get permission from their masters to all spend the night and they'd probably insist on sleeping in a pile, the way they'd had back when they were younger and the scariest thing they had to face was the prospect of not finding masters.
In this imagined scenario, Obi-Wan would never tell them just how afraid he'd been.
Although honestly, he was a little less afraid now. Oh, still afraid, because Hondo kept saying he'd be selling Obi-Wan the next day, and while he obviously hadn't been sold yet, it was always lurking there in the back of his mind. But the pirates were treating him well. Not at all like the pirates who'd almost blown up their ship. They gave him food, and didn't lock him in a cell, and now they were letting him wander around completely unmonitored.
One of the pirates had his head stuck in a ship panel and Obi-Wan paused at the end of the hall to watch. Finally his curiosity got the best of him. "Isn't it dangerous to work on that while we're in hyperspace?"
The pirate jerked, hitting his head on the top of the open panel. Obi-Wan couldn't be sure but he was fairly certain the string of words that followed were all curse words. He quietly repeated them to himself, trying to remember them. "What are you, a ghost? Make some noise, kid!"
Obi-Wan wanted to point out that he had made noise, he'd asked a question after all.
The pirate glared at him, rubbing at his head. Apparently the hat he wore didn't do much to protect him. "What are you doing wandering around? Did Hondo let you out?"
Obi-Wan shrugged. "He said I'd get too weak if all I did was sit about in the room you all put me in, and then he wouldn't earn as many credits when he sold me. But that I wasn't allowed to try and escape, because that would make me a bad hostage." Not that there was much Obi-Wan could do to try and escape while they were in hyperspace.
The pirate scowled. "Just lost another ten credits. The bastard couldn't last another day?"
Obi-Wan frowned. "Last another day for what?"
The pirate gave him a narrow-eyed look. "Never you mind that. What did you ask earlier?"
Obi-Wan pointed to the panel. "Isn't it dangerous to work on that while we're in hyperspace?"
The pirate blinked a little, but then waved him over. "Not working on anything important. You know much about ships, kid?"
Obi-Wan shrugged, not sure if he actually wanted to get closer to the pirate, but also interminably curious. "A little. My friend Garen knows more, though. He wants to be a Jedi Pilot."
A lump felt like it was going to wedge itself into his throat. Garen had already found a master, an energetic woman named Clee Rhara. She'd taken all of Garen's friends out for ice cream to celebrate after Garen had accepted her offer to be his Master.
The Weequay made a funny face. "Jedi. Meh. Who wants to be a Jedi when you can be a pirate?"
Obi-Wan scowled at him. "Jedi help people."
"And pirates help themselves!" The Weequay answered with something like a chortle. "Now do you want to see what I'm doing or not?"
Obi-Wan really did. Even if it was a pirate who was teaching him.
Hondo found them not long after. "Vorg! You have made my hostage dirty!"
Obi-Wan looked down to see that, yes, he was rather dirty, grease on his hands and tunic, and he suspected as he rubbed at an itch on his nose, probably all over his face.
Hondo tutted at him in annoyance. "Now you must get clean. After all, I'll most likely sell you in the morning!"
Vorg muttered something under his breath about losing another five credits if this kept going.
Obi-Wan wished pirates made more sense.
"Oh HOSTAGE!" Obi-Wan jerked awake as the door to the small room he'd been given whisked open and Hondo whirled through, exuberant and energetic.
He almost fell off of the small cot in his haste to try and get to his feet. Hondo threw something at him, and Obi-Wan spluttered as a piece of heavy cloth hit him in the face. "What's this?"
"It is clothes, of course! A hostage of the Great Hondo Ohnaka can not keep walking around in the same outfit! Especially one as hideous as yours."
Obi-Wan wanted to retort, but then paused. His outfit itself wasn't hideous, but as it was the only outfit he had, it was getting a little dirty. So instead he looked down at the clothes that Hondo had presented him.
There were two cream-colored tunics, they looked like they were a little big, though the ends of the shirts had been cut so that they wouldn't hang too far down on Obi-Wan, the new hems were a little on the sloppy side. There were two pairs of pants too, and Obi-Wan could see that the end of the legs had also been newly hemmed. To top it all off was a heavier leather-cloth vest, that was probably the only thing that wasn't way too big for him, but still, the hang would be closer to the duster Hondo wore than an actual vest.
It looked like it was something out of Hondo's or one of the other pirate's own closets that someone had then tried to resize to fit him.
"You're giving me clothes." He looked up at Hondo a little dubious.
Hondo waved his hands. "Obviously. I am very glad to see that your observational skills are working so early in the ship's morning cycle."
"Why? Because your Jedi clothes are a hideous monstrosity that do not deserve to grace my hallowed pirate ship." Hondo sounded throughly offended. "And of course, I will most likely sell you in the morning."
Obi-Wan refrained from mentioning that it already was morning. He was starting to suspect that Hondo was saying it more out of habit than anything else.
Obi-Wan poked his head into the cockpit slowly.
Hondo hadn't barred him from going anywhere on the ship. But some part of Obi-Wan thought for sure that Hondo had surely meant to.
But the yellow Weequay who saw him didn't seem upset, just waved at him as he picked up another card from the deck. Obi-Wan slid in carefully.
"You play Sabaac kid?"
Obi-Wan shook his head.
The other pilot snorted. "Like the Jedi would teach their kids Sabaac. Nah, Jedi are boring."
Obi-Wan wrinkled his nose a little. "They do actually. But not until second-level padawan classes, and only if you're following either the Shadow or Diplomacy tracks."
The two Weequay stared at him, finally the yellow one shrugged. "Weird. Bet they don't teach ya how to cheat."
Obi-Wan shrugged. "I don't know. I never took the classes. But you can't be very good if you have to cheat to win."
Both pirates suddenly grinned, and Obi-Wan thought they looked a little crazy when their smiles were so wide. "Everyone cheats, kid. The question is, who cheats best."
"And who doesn't get caught." The second pirate finished.
"Come here, we'll show you."
Obi-Wan hesitated, but figured if he was a little closer he might be able to see the navigation panel better without arousing suspicion.
"Names Porlo." The yellow Weequay informed him.
"Garam." The other introduced himself.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi." Obi-Wan answered reflexively as he moved to the table as the two pirates reshuffled the deck.
Garam snorted. "Yeah, we know. Hondo hasn't exactly been quiet about his favorite hostage. Now, let's see if we can't teach you how to cheat like a proper pirate." Obi-Wan thought that was a rather odd thing to say, as far as he was aware he was currently the only hostage on the ship, and he'd explored most of it at this point.
They had to explain the rules of the game first, and Obi-Wan was pleased to realize that it was easy enough to pick up on.
"Ah, you got no Sabaac face kid." Porlo informed him. "Your lip twitches when you get excited."
“You got to either always smile or never smile." Garam continued.
"At least until you're good enough to fake the wrong emotion at just the right time."
So, Obi-Wan reconsidered, he wasn't very good at it yet, but he understood it well enough.
"PORLO!" Obi-Wan twisted a little just as Hondo came waltzing into the cockpit. Hondo stopped as he caught sight of them. "My hostage! You are teaching my hostage to play Sabaac!?"
"Someone's got to do it." Garam said stoutly. "Kid's been on a pirate ship for almost a month now and hasn't played a single game of Sabaac. Something wrong with that."
"No, no, no." Hondo shook his head. "You are teaching him all wrong! He will never learn to cheat at the game with the two of you." Hondo rather gracelessly sat himself down beside Obi-Wan. "Now deal again, and I will show you all how to properly cheat like a pirate."
Porlo sighed, but obediently retrieved the cards.
Hondo gave Obi-Wan a serious look. "Now pay close attention. It is very important to learn how to cheat and cheat well." He beamed. "After all, I'll most likely sell you in the morning!"
Obi-Wan wasn't sure why, but both Porlo and Garam rolled their eyes.
Obi-Wan followed the pirates out of the ship, feeling a little silly at the oxygen mask covering most of his face. Whenever he crossed his eyes he could see it sticking out past his face.
"Spread out and observe men!" Hondo called out. "We must determine whether this planet, the completely abandoned Morenaus, is an acceptable location for our mighty base!"
Porlo sighed. "It's not called Morenaus, it's—"
Hondo waved his hand. "Are you sure? This planet feels like a Morenaus, we will rename it if we decide to settle here."
Porlo sighed. "You can't just rename—"
"We are pirates! We can do whatever we please."
"It's not even a planet, this is a moon. The planet is completely uninhabitable." Porlo muttered under his breath, too quietly for Hondo to hear. Obi-Wan heard though and he found himself smiling.
Hondo probably knew exactly what the planet was called, or rather the moon. He probably even knew that it was a moon.
Obi-Wan wasn't sure if Hondo was trying to annoy Porlo the way Quinlan used to try and tease Obi-Wan, or if Hondo just liked spouting whatever nonsense he could come up with.
Or, Obi-Wan conceded as he watched the pirate whirl around making loud observations about the suitability of the planet, his long leather duster twirling around him, it might be both.
Obi-Wan wandered around, noting that once again none of the pirates seemed to really care where he went or what he was doing.
He was fairly certain that wasn't proper pirate-hostage interaction.
Much like everything the past 30 days hadn't been proper pirate-hostage interaction.
He found himself wandering further than he'd planned when he saw something rising on the horizon. He frowned, jogging a little to get a closer look.
He froze when he realized what it was, exactly, that he was approaching.
It was a town.
And not an empty one. He could see dots that must be people and speeders moving around.
He turned a little to see where the rest of the pirates were. Most of them were out of sight, having wandered the other direction, but there were a few that were still visible. None of them, however, seemed to be paying any attention to Obi-Wan, they hadn't even seemed to have noticed the town only a few kilometers away.
Obi-Wan felt his heart racing in his chest. He could escape. No one was paying attention to him, it wouldn't be hard for him to get to the town. Someone might be willing to help him there, they could get a message to Coruscant, to the Jedi.
He hurried his steps some more, glancing back to see if any of the pirates had noticed.
They'd save him, bring him back to Corus—
His steps faltered.
If they did help him, they wouldn't bring him to Coruscant. They'd just send him to Bandomeer.
He'd be a farmer.
He was never going to see Garen or Bant again. Wouldn't see Reeft, Quinlan, or Luminara.
He would never be able to tell them about the Hutt or the way he'd piloted a ship out of a pirate trap. He'd never tell them about seeing Draigons or being kidnapped by another set of pirates.
He'd be a farmer.
But better a farmer than sold by pirates, he reminded himself. He hurried his steps again.
Obi-Wan hesitated, rocking back a little on his heels as he came to a stop again.
Except Obi-Wan didn't think Hondo really had plans to sell him.
He glanced at the town and then back at the pirates who were still not paying him any attention and had still somehow not seen the city.
And that was a little odd.
He rubbed at his new leather-cloth vest.
It was almost suspiciously lucky for Obi-Wan; they'd landed in such a perfect location. Far enough from inhabitants for Hondo to keep claiming it was empty and abandoned, close enough for Obi-Wan to find and escape to the town.
It was like Hondo was letting Obi-Wan escape.
Obi-Wan bit his lip, feeling foolish and strangely out of his depths.
There was only one thing for it.
Obi-Wan crossed his ankles and plopped to the ground. He glanced back again to see that the closest pirates hadn't really moved that far away, and were, rather obviously now that he was paying attention, not watching him.
He should go, he knew. Get help from someone in the town, get in contact with the Jedi, head to Bandomeer to be the best farmer he could be.
Something wide and gaping ached inside him at the thought, threatening to suck him into a black pit of despair.
He rubbed at his face.
He was being stupid. And selfish.
No wonder the Jedi were all so sure he was going to Fall. If he was too selfish, too prideful, to want to spend the rest of his life being a farmer.
It was good work.
That's what Master Jinn had said. What Master Yoda had said. What Bant had said, though she'd looked like she wanted to cry as she did so.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath in, the way Creche Master Alan had always taught them for beginning meditation.
Obi-Wan had never been very good at meditation. Sitting still was hard and the Force never seemed to make sense. Obi-Wan had thought it wanted him to be a Jedi Knight, had thought he'd felt the rightness of the path in the Force.
But everyone else had told him he was wrong.
Still, he tried reaching for the Force. Tried to let it fill him the way he'd been taught.
He thought about Bandomeer and farming and living a simple life. He ignored his own fears, his own grief, and tried desperately to hear the Force.
He took another deep breath, and it sounded a little funny, pulling through the oxygen mask. He tried to push away everything that wasn't the Force and the path.
The Force was warm, like laying on stone that had been under the midday sun and staring up at an empty sky. It was quiet; quiet and lonely and waiting.
He thought of being a Jedi, and the Force shifted, something a little mournful sinking in. It felt like that last morning, when Bant had wrapped her skinny arms around him that last time and Obi-Wan had tried so desperately to be brave. It was something sad and not quite right, but without an easy fix.
It didn't feel at all like it once had.
Feeling a little foolish, Obi-Wan thought about Hondo and the rest of the pirates who'd abducted him.
The Force was—it was hard to describe. It felt like when Obi-Wan and Quinlan had competed to see who could hold their breath under water longest; they had both nearly passed out due to pure stubbornness. Bant had pulled them both out of the water and they'd been laughing and coughing and arguing about who would have won if Bant hadn't interfered. They could have drowned themselves but they hadn't, and it had been silly and stupid and fun and Obi-Wan...
Obi-Wan wasn't really sure what that meant.
He wasn't really sure what any of it meant.
He sighed, the sound still funny in the oxygen mask, and opened his eyes. He ran his fingers over the leather-cloth of the vest Hondo had given him.
Pirates were, well, they were pirates. They kidnapped innocent twelve year olds, and stole things, and... and... they weren't quiet, or lonely. They weren't sad.
They were like holding his breath and seeing if he was stubborn enough to win, all the while the risk was that he might drown instead.
It was stupid.
Obi-Wan should stand up and march right over to that town.
He should face his fate with humility and willingness.
It would be warm.
He pushed himself to his feet, and managed a few steps forward before he found himself stopped again.
He turned around.
He might win, he might drown.
They'd laughed though, the three of them, soaking wet and coughing, sprawled out on the grass next to the water. Determined to jump back in the moment they could.
They'd been—well, they’d been happy.
The Force shifted around him. And Obi-Wan had apparently never understood the Force anyways, because he'd been so sure it wanted him to be a Jedi Knight.
Except no one else had felt that same surety, no one else had thought Obi-Wan was meant to be a Jedi. So maybe he'd been wrong then. Maybe he was wrong now.
But he thought the Force felt pleased, a non-existent wind twisting around him, gently pulling him back to the pirates.