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you took my hand and then we both started running (save yourself, don't ever look back)

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CORUSCANT, 34BBY

“Members of the Jedi Council, my name is Jango Fett,” the hologram begins. iTS speaker is a tall man, donned in beskar armour and the regalia of the Mandalorian Duchy— the Mand’alor, Obi-Wan whispers to himself. Fett continues. “I know our peoples have had disagreements in the past. But now I come to you with a plea— and a gesture of allegiance, should you help us.

“As you well know Manda’yaim has been rising to the brink of another civil war for nearly ten years. The figurehead of Kyr’tsad has shown itself again in Vizsla’s grandson, and once more have they declared war on my people. Vizsla does not dare challenge for the throne while I hold it because he knows I hold the rightful favour of the Mando’ade. But my heirs are of age, and the time has come that I step down as Duke. However, I cannot do that while we are amid war— as the law forbids, unless I am killed,” Fett pauses. “Even then, Manda’yaim lies in the lives of my son and niece. Kote Fett and Satine Kryze are approaching ascendancy, and Vizsla seeks to have them killed so that he will meet no opposition.

“Our forces are more than able to combat Kyr’tsad. However, it is not safe for my heirs to stay here during this conflict, and while I am able to spare security to watch them there are far too many assassination attempts for me to hold at bay. This is why I beg for your aid. Send a Jedi to Keldabe to protect my heirs. I am not asking for Republic backing in this conflict, I simply wish that the lives of two innocents be spared. Surely,” Fett implores, “we can set aside our differences. Do this, Jetiise, and we will be in your debt.”

The recording cuts out in a cerulean flicker. The Council chamber is silent for a few moments— until Obi-Wan realizes that they’re waiting for him to speak, not Master Jinn who stands beside him, and he turns an embarrassing shade of red as he clears his throat.

“Am I to be sent to Mandalore, Masters?” He asks, tentatively making eye contact with those in surrounding him.

“Not alone, you will not. Accompany you, Jinn will,” Master Yoda hums. Obi-Wan nods solemnly, restraining a breath of relief— though, it would be retracted from him anyway, at the next words that reach his ears.

“But the task of protecting the heirs falls to you, Kenobi,” Windu begins. “Master Jinn will be dispatched to aid the Duke in whichever way he is needed, even if he is only to return to Coruscant. Either way, you will be escorted to the city of Keldabe as it remains an active war zone. That is, if you’re up to the task?” he inquires. Obi-Wan knows it isn’t a question.

“Of course, Master Windu. I will protect the Duke’s heirs with my life.” He responds, unable to help but feel a flutter of excitement— this isn’t his first solo mission, yet the sheer importance that weighs with this task is enough to make his heart feel like its going to break through his ribcage. That, or his nerves are snapping in two.

“Mandalorians are very cunning warriors, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon begins. “The Duke’s son himself has spent his entire life training to follow their Creed, as well as his preparation to claim the throne. House Kryze, on the other hand, is pacifistic, as you well know. Satine Kryze has not been raised to be a warrior like her cousin, but she isn’t defenceless. Both will be able to handle themselves quite well in a fight, I believe. You are merely an added security detail. Listen to the Duke,” he presses, and lays a firm hand on his padawan’s shoulder. “but if the situation arises, do what you feel is necessary to preserve the heirs’ lives.”

“Then it is settled. You are dismissed, Padawan Kenobi. Prepare for your departure, your shuttle will depart at dawn.” Windu finishes tersely, to which Obi-Wan bows before exiting the Council chamber, leaving Qui-Gon’s side.

Despite the presence of the Temple guards standing silent and rigid behind him, he utters a heavy breath of— well, he doesn’t know what, except for the fact that being summoned to a gathering of the full Council and having to act like you’re not shaking from nervousness, and pretend that the Jedi Masters on said Council can’t tell that you are— okay. He sighs in relief. Not because he’s anxious, certainly not. It’s just that he’s going to be a bodyguard to Mandalorian royalty and their fate, the fate of an entire system lies with him. He rakes his fingers through his short-cropped hair as he starts walking in the direction of his and Qui-Gon’s shared quarters, mentally running over the list of what he needs. He pats his hand over his hip, his palm met by the soothing, cool metal touch of his lightsaber.

He’ll need to brush up on his Mando’a, spend a few hours going over the archives for information on Kyr’tsad— Death Watch— he draws in a bated breath.

Obi-Wan knows he’s capable. However, Obi-Wan also knows that Mandalorians do not like Jedi, and the Duke’s son definitely won’t be an exception. Satine Kryze shouldn’t be an issue, because he knows her— or, he’s met her, once, and pacifists typically don’t have a deep-rooted animosity to a Jedi padawan that they’ve only been acquainted to as children. He hopes.

The door to his flat slides open with a hiss, and the padawan is greeted by the comforting sight of warm light seeping through the shade slats of the window that centres the far wall. Sleeping alcoves are indented on both sides of the apartment, and a small refresher branches from the main room.

Now, Jedi aren’t supposed to have material possessions, but both his and his master’s excuses are that harbouring various plant species in their tiny apartment is but a reflection of the living force. At first, Qui-Gon balked at the discrepancy. Their collection of fauna has steadily increased into the state that one might say Obi-Wan has created his own private greenhouse. He plucks a withered leaf from a nearby fern and lets it fall idly to the potting soil on his way to the small closet by his alcove. Inside it hangs a change of robes and two cloaks— all of which he folds and places within a bag at the foot of his bed. Packed. He blinks, somewhat disappointed, and places his hands on his hips as he turns to inspect the room. It’s tidy, as usual, with nothing out of place. Thinking better of it, he turns back to his closet and opens a drawer to pull out a blank holopad, ready to charge with archive data— specifically the Mando’a crash course he plans on taking during the trip through hyperspace. No, he’s not purposefully neglecting this studies on Bothan politics, and the six dialects of Rodian that he’ll be tested for at the end of the rotation, and— Obi-Wan cuts himself short.

The Duke’s heirs are more important.

He’ll be leaving Coruscant in less than nine hours to spend Force knows how long on a Jedi-hostile planet in the midst of a coup. He’s never been tasked with a mission this important in his life, and he’ll be doing it without the guidance of his master, and he’ll be left only with the lessons he’s learned, the training he’s been given, as well as two eighteen-year-old Mandalorians who probably hate his guts. Wonderful.

Sighing heavily again, he moves across the floor to sit cross-legged on one of the circular mats placed by the window, closes his eyes, and falls into the Force.

For a while, all is quiet, as if time has completely slowed to a standstill. Obi-Wan can’t even hear his own breathing— what for the plaintive ringing that has begun to sing in his ear. Then follows the familiar sensation of the Force’s presence rippling across his skin. He breathes, deeply, letting himself completely immerse into the lull of meditation.

He doesn’t know when he fell asleep, yet it feels like hardly a minute has passed ere he’s gently woken by Qui-Gon come dawn.

 


KELDABE, MANDALORE

Kote’s eyes snap open with his father’s hand covering his mouth. His eyes are wild in the dark— and he reaches for the blade beneath his pillow until he adjusts to the darkness. Jango pulls his hand back, pressing a finger to his lips as he beckons his son to rise from his bed.

Me’bana, buir?” he hisses, throwing his sheets back and sliding from the bed with the vibroblade gripped tightly in his palm. The night air is cold against the bare skin of his chest— his father is in his nightclothes, yet the hilt of the dha’kad is swinging at his hip and the hard look that’s only ever reserved for his aru’e is directed at him— or not, because there’s something close to fear glinting in his eyes as he helps Kote shuffle into his kute and beskar’gam in the pitch-black, both fumbling for the straps and magnetic clasps that hold the armour in place.

Jango doesn’t speak a word until he shoves Kote’s helmet into his hands.

“They’re coming for you tonight, ner ad’ike. You must go now.”

Me’ven?” he blurts, still disoriented from sleep. “I’m not gonna leave you, buir.”

“The Jetii will meet you on Concordia. Do not let her out of your sight.” Jango orders firmly, gripping Kote’s forearms. “Ba’slanar. I’ll send for you in one week’s time. By then we’ll have cleaned the aruetiise out from our city. Trust me,” he whispers. “Kal will stay with you and Satine until the Jetii arrives.”

Kote nods. A muscle in his jaw twitches. Jango moves one hand up to place on his son’s nape and presses their foreheads together.

After a few seconds, they part.

K’oyacyi, ner Kote.”

Kote leans into his father’s touch for a moment more before sliding his buy’ce on and sealing it. Jango passes him a small packed bag— likely stocked with ammunition and rations, nothing more— before guiding him toward the door and through the mansion’s corridors. The further they get, more guards silently join the procession until Kote and Jango are completely surrounded on all sides by the time they make it to the nearest landing pad, where a small ship stalls with Skirata waiting in front. Kote moves toward it as Jango slows to a stop, watching him depart— until the teenager whirls and throws his arms around his buir in a tight embrace. Jango reciprocates it, bringing up a hand to rest on the back of his son’s head.

“Go, verd’ika. I’ll see you soon.” The man breathes. Kote pulls away and stalks up the ship’s gangplank without looking back.

In the distance, explosions rumble and a bright plume of fire rises from a building— or, what’s left of it. Jango has already turned to rush inside the mansion gates, likely to ready himself for the inevitable fight.

The boy slumps into the co-pilot’s seat, not bothering to acknowledge Satine, who sits beside him, donning a blatantly terrified expression as she watches the black curls of acrid smoke rise to Keldabe’s dome with wide eyes. Not long after, Kal takes the chair to Kote’s right without a word and pilots the ship off the landing pad and out of the city’s confines, into the smog-coated horizons of Mandalore, the night already growing colder and colder still as dying stars begin dotting the skies like bullet holes. Kote might have the heart to marvel at the sight that he sees so rarely these days, after the feeling of being trapped for so long within the fortress he calls home, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s been forced to leave his buir. A selfish feeling dawns on him that even though he knows what’s at stake, for his people, for Manda’yaim as a whole, he doesn’t care.

Brushing off the intrusive thought, he closes his eyes and focuses on— nothing. He lets himself zone out, not fully intending to fall back asleep, though not making any effort to resist when he feels Kal slide his helmet off and lay a blanket over him.