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Trained in Darkness

Chapter Text

She was standing at attention in front of Admiral Konstantine and mentally going through every good luck ritual she knew of in the hopes that it would help her.

Of course, it didn’t, not that she had really expected it to.

“Lieutenant Wren, did it not occur to you that when you were given strict orders not to ‘test your weapons systems’ on nearby debris that you were expected to obey them?”

She didn’t flinch as she replied, “Of course it did, sir, but something seemed wrong with them, so I had to make su—”

“Lieutenant Wren, this is not the first...incident we have had with you.  You have been repeatedly, explicitly instructed not to vandalize the walls on this ship.  And what have you done instead?”

“First of all, sir, I have to correct you.  It wasn’t vandalizing, per se, just artistic expression.  And besides, it was in my room.”

He shook his head, sighing.  “‘Artistic expression’ is not the same thing as spray painting a wall on an Imperial Star Destroyer!  And while it may very well be your room, it is still my ship.  Is that clear to you?”

She bit her lip to keep from replying, only nodding and adding quietly.  “Yes sir.”

“And this is why you are being reassigned to a ground base.”

She couldn’t help the jolt of surprise.  Her eyes widened and she took a step forward, her grip on her helmet loosening.  “A ground base?!  Sir, my talents would be wasted on a ground base, my teachers at the Academy on Mandalore said as much—”

“Lieutenant Wren!  I can assure you, until you can prove that you have discipline, you will be assigned to the Lothal Imperial Complex.”

Lothal?

She’d never even heard of it.

“And I can also assure you that I received your full report and file of your time at the Academy.  Your teachers, while they did recommend you for the Starfighter Corps once you applied, strongly suggested that your talents would be better suited in engineering, specifically weapons manufacturing.”

He paused to watch her, a brow raised as he waited for her reaction.

She forced herself to keep calm, forced herself not to think of that mistake she had created, the mistake that her arrogance had caused her to create, the mistake that only she could take the blame for.

Sabine bit her lip, hard, and clenched a fist as she took a short breath.  Say the wrong thing, and it’d be worse than a ground base assignment.

“I understand, sir.  When will I be leaving?” she spoke as calmly as possible, vaguely aware that she was clenching and unclenching a fist.

“We will arrive at Lothal at 1800.  Be ready to go. Dismissed.”

She nodded once and turned, forcing her steps and breaths to be calm and even instead of hurried and harsh.  She arrived at her room, and it took all her restraint not to throw her helmet at the wall.

She should’ve been more careful.  Should’ve listened to orders.

Tristan would’ve listened to orders.

But she wasn’t Tristan, was she?

She sighed and began to pack, checking the chrono.  She had about six hours still before they left hyperspace, presumably at Lothal.

Where even was Lothal, anyway?

She pulled out her datapad and typed in the name, waiting as the files popped up.

An agricultural Outer Rim planet.  Probably didn’t even need an Imperial garrison.

But then...why were there so many files on it?

Her brow furrowed as she began to look through them.  Most were above her level of clearance; all were, in fact, except for the ones that were routine reports.

Every report turned out the same: nothing worth keeping an eye on.

She rolled her eyes, shutting the ‘pad off and flopping back onto the bunk with a sigh of frustration.  Just like Konstantine to send her to the one place where there would be no action. Great.

Still, she had six more hours.  Might as well enjoy the Destroyer while she still could.

 

She stepped off the transport, blinking and taking in the dull landscape.  The hangars at the Imperial Complex had been full—how, she had no idea—so they’d had to make do with an airfield a klick or two off from the base.

And, as it turned out, the planet was even more boring up close.

There weren’t any colors besides a bland yellow-brown and the flat gray of a city on the horizon.  Hopefully it wasn’t too far out from the base. It would probably have a lot more excitement than...this.

A troop transport arrived exactly a minute later.  She stepped aboard, not glancing back at the shuttle that had brought her planetside.

The trip to the base was a minute or two, just long enough for her to firmly solidify just how much she hated this place.

Why anyone would live here willingly, she didn’t know.  But if one was a criminal, then maybe places like this would be perfect for laying low.

She understood now why Nar Shadaa was a lot more crowded.

The transport slowed to a stop and she let go of the strap on the ceiling, calmly walking off.  An ISB agent stood with his hands clasped behind his back in front of the transport, probably waiting for her.  She snapped to attention and saluted. If behaving would get her back in the air, the real air and not this planet’s hazy atmosphere, then she would do it.

“Lieutenant Wren, I presume?”

She nodded sharply.  “Yes sir.”

“You’re in Dagger Squadron.  We lost a couple of fighters last week to an attack by insurgents; I trust that you’ll be more than enough to help replace them?”  He left it as a question. He was testing her, trying to see just how arrogant she was.

She took the bait.  No use in trying to hide it.

“Of course, sir.”

He nodded, one eyebrow raising.  A trooper approached with a datapad and handed it to him.  The ISB agent took it, glancing briefly over it before returning his attention to Sabine.

“Your squadron is out practicing at the moment, however they are scheduled to return in….”  He checked the time on the datapad briefly. “Half an hour. I suggest you get settled in beforehand.”  Without saying anything else, he handed the datapad back to the trooper and turned, walking away.

Not that she had expected anything else.  Still, a name would’ve been nice.

But she had learned a long time ago that the Empire didn’t do nice.

She turned to the trooper.  “The pilots’ quarters…?”

“This way.”  The trooper turned and led her into the building, making a few turns before stopping.  “There’s a room at the end on the left that’s empty. You still have around twenty minutes till the squadron gets back.”  He left as abruptly as the ISB agent had, and she adjusted her bag before walking to the empty room.

The ISB agent had told her that the pilots had died about a week ago.

That still didn’t prepare her for the sense of unfinished business that hit her.

People had lived here.  People she would never know.  People that her new squadron had known, had spent most of their waking hours with, had trusted with their lives.

How was she supposed to take the place of all that?

Chapter Text

True to the ISB agent’s words, Dagger Squadron arrived back at base twenty minutes later.  Sabine heard their voices filling the corridor outside her room as they split off to head to their rooms or the ‘freshers.  One of the voices spoke up, loud and excited, and she was able to pick out what he said.

“Just got a comm, we have a new squadmate!”

The responses were instantaneous.

“So soon after…?”

Finally.  Those rebels will pay.

“Fresh out of the Academy or a transfer?”

She toyed with the idea of just waiting in her room, but instead decided to take the initiative.  She sucked in a breath and walked to the door, keying it open. “Hi.”

Instantly the hall went silent.

The ten pilots turned to stare at her, some trying to hide it a bit while others gawked.  After what felt like too long one of the pilots stepped forward.

“You’re the replacement, huh?  Bit scrawny.”

She resisted the urge to punch him, knowing it’d likely just earn her a demotion and more time at the ground base.  Instead she inhaled, drawing herself up a little taller.

“Yes, I am.  The replacement, not- not the scrawny part.”

An eyebrow quirked up as he studied her before nodding slowly, sticking out a hand.  “Dem Halad. Squadron leader.”

She took it.  “Sabine Wren. Flight Lieutenant.”

“Welcome to Dagger Squadron, Sabine Wren.”  He smiled faintly at her before one of the pilots from behind him moved up next to him.  She studied Sabine with what looked like disgust.

“I want to make something clear here,” she said loudly, clearly intending for the rest of the squadron to hear.  “I don’t care what your rank is, what Academy you graduated from, I don’t even care if you’re here directly out of Skystrike—you may be covering the spots Falla and Myna left when they were killed, but you won’t be replacing them.  Are we clear?”

Sabine nodded quickly, her expression beginning to mirror the hostile young woman’s own.  “We’re very clear.”

She nodded stiffly, then walked past Sabine to the ‘freshers.

“That’s Jera Kemmell.  She was close with Falla, that’s one of the pilots that you’re...covering for.”  Sabine glanced up at Dem, who was watching Jera walk away. She nodded.

“Yeah, I can understand that,” she said quietly.

“She’s not all bad, once she warms up to you.  Once the rest of the squadron’s ready, we were gonna grab dinner together.  You wanna come?”

“It’s a bit late,” she said shortly.  He shrugged.

“We’ve been drilling since 1600.  Not a lot of time to grab food beforehand.  Meet you out here at 1900?”

She nodded and he smiled faintly again, clapping a hand on her shoulder before walking past her.

She watched him leave and then re-entered her own room, glancing around again.  Sure, she wouldn’t be able to replace the pilots this squadron had lost, but she could at least cover for them.  For however long it took her to prove she could handle a Destroyer assignment again.

 

She met Dagger Squadron for dinner and was introduced to the rest of the group.  They seemed nice enough, but cold. Though she didn’t blame them. Now that they were all out of their flight suits, it was a bit easier to differentiate between them.

After dinner a few of them broke off to go play sabacc, including Dem.  She refused his offer to play, though she did remain to watch.

They were all decent players, though those in her old squadron were a lot better.  Sabine knew she could beat them in a heartbeat if she tried. However, that also wouldn’t make friends.

And she needed friends if she wanted to get recommended back to a Destroyer.

She stood behind one of the other pilots, a blonde named Johste, with arms folded as she watched him play his hand.  He had a sabacc, though he was still withholding it, probably waiting to see if anyone else had the same hand.

As it turned out, the woman across from him did, and she played it not three minutes later.  Johste waited a few more turns before playing his, smirking faintly as a couple people groaned in frustration.

Sabine watched for a few more rounds before glancing at the chrono.  Dem had promised to show her around base the next morning before patrols; she’d be better off going to bed sooner rather than later.  She said goodbye to the group before heading back to her room, keying the door open silently.

 

Sabine was walking back to the hangar with Dem when his commlink chimed.  “Just a sec,” he mumbled, stopping to pull it out. “Yes?”

Rebel activity has been spotted in sector 8-C.  Get your squadron out there now. ”  She recognized the voice as the ISB agent from yesterday

“Of course sir.”  Dem clicked it off and changed the channel, breaking into a jog.  Sabine easily followed him as he spoke rapidly into the comm. “Squadron form up!  We’ve got reports of rebel activity in sector 8-C! All fighters get out there now!

They stopped briefly at their rooms to change into flight suits and to grab their helmets before racing to the hangar.  Three of the pilots were already there, and upon catching sight of Dem and Sabine they quickly got into their fighters.

“Everyone in the air, now!” Dem yelled into his comm.  He paused, motioning toward one of the TIEs. “That’s yours now!” he called to Sabine as he broke back into a run, climbing up the ladder and into his own TIE.

She took a deep breath and mounted the ladder, hopping down easily into the TIE— her TIE.  She couldn’t help a small grin as she fired it up, the controls feeling familiar underneath her hands.  The fighter lifted off the ground, slowly at first but quickly picking up speed. She slipped her helmet on and tapped into the squadron’s frequency, right in the middle of an announcement.

—them.  Daggers Five, Six, Seven, and Eight I want you going in through the north and cutting them off.  Daggers Two and Three, form up on me. Nine, Ten, and Eleven, I want you in reserve on the western perimeter.  We are not letting them escape again.

“Affirmative Dagger One, Dagger Three forming up now.”  Sabine veered slightly to the left, coming up on the side of Dem’s fighter.  Another fighter came up on his other side, and she exhaled slowly as they followed the squadron leader to the sector under surveillance.

They arrived quickly and immediately more instructions came crackling over the comm.  “ Base says they were seen heading to the northern perimeter.  Our net should get ‘em, but whoever they’ve got piloting is good.  If we don’t destroy them, I want their engines disabled. Clear?

Affirmative. ”  She didn’t recognize whoever Dagger Two was, but she probably would once they were back on the ground.

“Copy that,” she said back, focusing her gaze on the streets ahead of her.

A ship cut across her vision sharply and she jerked back on the controls, narrowly avoiding a collision.

We’ve got the suspect westbound now! ” Dagger Two yelled over the comm channel.

Copy that.  Form up on me!

She and Dagger Two quickly flanked Dem again as he banked sharply to the left, following the ship.  Now that it wasn’t completely blocking her sight, Sabine could tell it was a Corellian VCX-100 freighter.

“Target identified,” she called over the comm.  “Looks like a Corellian VCX-100 freighter, with an awful lot of adjustments, probably none of them legal.”

Good job Dagger Three.  We’ll look up the specs after this if we don’t get ‘em this time.

We will, ” Dagger Two spoke confidently.

This is Dagger Eight; I’ve got visual on the target! ”  The excited voice came through the whole squad’s channel and Sabine quickly switched to that.

Good, now you just gotta shoot it down. ”  Jera’s cool voice came over the comm, and Sabine spotted the freighter—now chased by two more TIEs—down a nearby street.

Why haven’t they gone to atmo yet?

Don’t know, don’t care; it’s better for us if they stay planetside for now anyway.  Easier to get ‘em.

“Hold on, I think I see why.”  Sabine leaned forward over the controls, spotting a man running along the rooftops of buildings below.  He seemed to be desperately trying to catch up with the ship. “Looks like they’ve still got someone on the ground.”

Dagger Five, get a squad of troopers out he— ”  Dem was cut off as the ship veered over a building, directly in line with the man as the ramp extended.  Somebody tall and purple edged out onto the ramp, extending a hand. The man jumped off a building in an attempt to reach the ramp and Sabine felt her breath catch in her throat.

He was too far away.

She blinked and he was suddenly on the loading ramp.   What?

The comm channels were filled with chatter as the freighter’s ramp closed and the ship zoomed away from the city.  They pursued it until it left atmo, where it almost immediately jumped into hyperspace.

Did you see that?!

It was too far for him to do that, he must’ve had some sort of jetpack or something.

Sabine knew jetpacks.  That had not been a jetpack.

Nah, I think it was some sort of pole vaulting deal.  The way he just jumped off that building—

She turned it over and over in her mind as they flew back to base.

Maybe Lothal wasn’t quite so boring after all.

Chapter Text

Sabine climbed out of the TIE and took her helmet off, shaking her hair loose as she did so.  She glanced over at the TIE where she thought Dagger Two had been. The pilot got out a moment later and removed his helmet after reaching the ground.  He was a bit younger than her, and smirking widely as he searched for someone. Catching their eye, he waved and jogged over.

Sabine turned to see it was Dem.  The two started talking animatedly and she tried to remember what the younger man’s name was.  Kaddalt, maybe? She approached them slowly, tucking her helmet under her arm.

“So what was with that guy?  He just- voom, right off that building and into the ship!  I’m pretty sure he had a jetpack or something, like Johste said.”

Dem shrugged.  “I don’t know. Whatever it was, he’s done it before.  If it was a jetpack, it was pretty controlled.”

She reached them, clearing her throat.  They both turned and Dem’s smile widened.

“You did good out there today,” he complimented.  She shrugged.

“I’m just wondering how that guy they had on the ground managed to make it in.”

“It was a jetpack!” Kaddalt insisted.

“No, I’ve us- seen jetpacks, and that wasn’t a jetpack,” Sabine corrected, shaking her head.  Both men turned to her in surprise.

“You’ve seen jetpacks?  Have you used one?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen them.”  She took half a second to wonder if she should lie before deciding that it wouldn’t matter whether she did or not.  “Haven’t used one. But whatever he did, it was way too controlled for a jetpack.”

Kaddalt opened his mouth to reply but was cut off as the sound of plastoid boots echoed in the hangar.  The trio turned to see two troopers flanking the ISB agent from before.

Dem stepped forward.

“I expect your report in no less than two hours, Lieutenant Commander.”

Dem nodded.  “Of course, Agent Kallus, sir.”

Agent Kallus.  Would it have been that hard to introduce himself yesterday? Sabine thought, slightly irritated though she didn’t know why.

The ISB agent’s eyes swept over the rest of the squadron briefly.  “As for the rest of you...I still expect you to have completed your routine patrols by 0930, as per usual.  A minor delay caused by the activities of insurgents should not be enough to keep you grounded and from performing your duties.”

“Yes sir,” a few said, the rest nodding.  Sabine found herself as one of the ones nodding.

Agent Kallus nodded once and then left, the troopers following him.

 

She was off duty and in civvies a few days later, exploring Capital City with Dem, Kaddalt, and a few others when she had her next encounter with the insurgents.

They were just walking, somewhat aimlessly, along one of the main roads when she heard a shout.  She paused, turning to look at the alley from which the noise had come.

A couple of troopers were speaking to someone in an alley, and she was able to make out the words “arrest” and “thievery”.  The man in question was tall, at least two meters, with a nerftail and what looked like a green pauldron on one shoulder. A bit of an odd look, even for Lothal, but despite that he looked somewhat familiar.

“Sabine!  You coming?”

She glanced over at Dem, nodding.  “Yeah, just a minute.” He shrugged and turned away, continuing with the rest of their group.

“...don’t need to see my ID.”

She looked back at the man in the alley, narrowing her eyes as he waved a hand in front of the troopers.

“We...don’t need to see your ID,” one of them said after a moment.

“You need to check sector seven-four now.”

“We need to check sector seven-four now.”

The troopers turned abruptly and started to leave.  Sabine ran into the alley.

“Trooper!”

One of them turned to her as she hurriedly pulled out her ID.  “Flight Lieutenant Wren; you were arresting a suspect! You can’t just leave!

The other trooper turned to her as somebody came up behind them.

“Behind—”

The figure shoved their helmets together, and both troopers collapsed to reveal...a Lasat?!

She took a step back before pulling out her commlink.  “Dem, we’ve got—”

A hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around as she pulled out her blaster with the other hand.  The man with the nerftail waved a hand in front of her face, softly saying, “You need to check the other sector.”

She felt something prickling her mind but shook her head to rid herself of the sensation, removing the safety on her blaster as she raised her comm again.  “Dem, we’ve got a suspect for attempted thievery and confirmed assault on troopers; I need backup. Sector six—”

She shouldn’t have turned her back on the Lasat.  Something struck her from behind, hard.

 

She was propped up against the wall of the alley when she came to, groaning softly.  Dem stood a few feet away, speaking to someone as she started to sit up. He turned quickly, holding up a hand to whoever he had been speaking to.  The figure nodded and left as he approached her.

“You feeling okay?”

“What happened?” she groaned, pushing herself to her feet and holding a hand to her forehead.  “I feel—”
“We came to the alley and whatever suspect you said was here was gone.  You were knocked out over there.” He pointed to a spot a few feet away.  “There were two troopers over there too; we’ve sent them back to base now.  Aside from getting knocked out and your blaster getting knocked a few meters away, you didn’t seem the worse for wear.”
Sabine shook her head, rubbing her forehead.  “Sorry, I probably ruined your day off. I just- there were these troopers, and they were trying to arrest someone, and he waved a hand and told them to leave and they did?  And then there was this Lasat, and he knocked them out…” she trailed off uncertainly, trying to think over what had happened before her eyes widened. “Dem, I- it was something straight out of some kids’ story...like some Jedi trick...it wasn’t like anything I’ve seen….”

His brows furrowed.  “Maybe you hit your head a bit harder when you fell.  You’re going to have to file a report for this, you know.”

Sabine nodded.  “Yeah. I’ll- I’ll do that.  I think I’ll go back to base now….”

Dem nodded.  “Of course, yeah, sure.  I’ll come with you.”

She glanced around at the alley again before leaving, trying to make sense of what had just happened.  She’d put it in her report; maybe then someone higher up in the command chain would know what to do with the information.

Chapter Text

All personnel report to the hangar for a...welcoming committee.

The words were unfamiliar but Sabine could guess what they meant.  Full uniform, helmet included, because some sort of dignitary was coming.

 

She was ready quickly and met the rest of Dagger Squadron on the way there.  They were nearly impossible to tell apart with their helmets and flight suits on, not that that mattered at the moment anyway.  Once they reached the hangar, she stood at her position near the end of the line between Kaddalt and a space where Dagger Four would be.  She forced her hands to lay flat next to her sides and exhaled slowly.

Two Advanced TIEs landed within two minutes of their arrival and she straightened.  It had to be an important dignitary if they required an escort like that.

Before the mechanics could push ladders over to each TIE they opened, a figure jumping out from each and landing neatly on their feet.   What?

She forced herself to stop leaning forward and to straighten, sucking in a breath and rolling her shoulders back as she tried to ignore the faint chill that settled over her.  The figures approached the line, striding down between the lines of troopers and pilots.

Could these be the dignitaries?

They paused for barely a heartbeat when they reached her.  She bit her lip, glad they couldn’t see her expression through the helmet, though sure they could feel the uneasiness and overwhelming fear rolling off of her in waves.

One was tall, a Pau’an with menacing blood-red marking on his pale face.  He had sharp golden eyes that seemed able to read her expression even through the helmet, and fangs that showed faintly as he almost seemed to smirk at her.

The other seemed young.  He was human and shorter than her, with dark blue, almost black hair that had been cropped close to his head and the same golden eyes as the Pau’an.  He moved to continue down the line before realizing that the Pau’an had stopped. He stopped hesitantly, glancing up at the Pau’an with a flicker of uncertainty crossing his features.

The Pau’an ignored the boy, his eyes remaining on Sabine for a moment longer before he continued down the line.

She exhaled, watching as the boy hurried to follow the Pau’an down the line.  They stopped in front of Agent Kallus and the Minister. Both dipped their heads respectfully.

“Inquisitor, and…” Kallus trailed off as he looked at the boy.

“My...apprentice, Agent,” the Pau’an said calmly.  Inquisitor.

She’d heard stories of the Inquisitors.

And she now wished she had remained on the Destroyer a whole lot more.

“You are here to deal with the rebel threat?”

The Inquisitor nodded again, and she noticed that the boy was standing stock-still, almost as if he wished to escape notice.

“Recent reports from this sector have indicated the potential presence of a Jedi within the rebel cell.”

Cell?

Agent Kallus nodded in confirmation.  “Yes, we...have received a few worrying reports recently.  But rest assured, we will deal with them shortly.”

She leaned forward just enough to catch the Inquisitor’s mouth splitting into a wide, fanged smile.

“I’m counting on it.”

 

A few hours later Sabine was patrolling the southern perimeter of the base with Dem and Kaddalt.  The normally silent comm channel was now alight with chatter as they discussed the Inquisitor and apprentice who had arrived that morning.

Did you see the way he smiled?  He had fangs.”  Kaddalt’s normally upbeat voice seemed a bit tremulous now.

“It was terrifying….”

What about that kid?  The one with him? You think he’s an Inquisitor too?

Maybe, I don’t know much about them.  You know how secretive the Inquisition is, ” Dem replied.  “ He seemed a bit nervous when they were up by Kallus and Tua.

Nervous?  Why would he be nervous?

I don’t know.  And I don’t think asking’s an option, either.

You know anything about apprentices?  Or why an Inquisitor would want one?

“They’re Force users, aren’t they?” Sabine questioned.

I think.  I’m not sure.  Dem, you know anything?

Call signs while on patrol, Dagger Two, even if we’re off topic, ” Dem reprimanded sharply.  “ No, I don’t.  No more than you, at least.

Dagger Squadron, report.

The foreign voice caught Sabine off guard.  It was cold but young, and it almost seemed as if the person on the other end was trying to sound older than they actually were.  She double checked the comm frequency; thankfully it was off their squad’s private channel. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t being monitored.

No sign of hostiles, or rebel activity.  No sign of anything unusual, really, ” replied Dem.

The voice on the other end inhaled sharply.  “ Report back to base then.

With all due respect, we’re not due to finish patrols until—

With all due respect, your previous orders are being overridden.

Sabine’s eyes widened in surprise.  Even their superiors were never like this.

May I ask who gave the order to override?

I did.

And who are you?

The Inquisitor.

There was a moment of silence.  Then, “ May I have clearance codes?

Transmitting now. ”  There was a crackle as both lines fell silent again.

A minute later Dem spoke up again.  “ Codes received and verified, I- I apologize Inquisitor.

If this happens again….

It won’t, I assure you, sir. ”  Dem’s normally confident voice was shaking ever so slightly.

Good.  Now report back to base.

The line cut and went silent.  She exhaled slowly, biting her lip as the trio silently decided to bank left and head back to base.

 

As soon as they landed, Dem was called to go speak to someone.  Sabine and Kaddalt exchanged wary glances as they headed back to their quarters.

“You think he’ll come back?” he asked cautiously, glancing at Sabine.  She shrugged.

“Hopefully.  It’s Dem; he’ll be fine.”

Kaddalt nodded but when she cast a sideways glance at him, she noticed that he was chewing his lip and still seemed worried.

She knew nothing she could say would fix that.

They split after reaching their rooms in silence, and Sabine changed into her duty uniform.  She headed out of her room silently, stretching slightly and rolling her neck. She’d head to the mess hall, grab some food, and then—

She stumbled back, blinking as she looked at whoever she had bumped into.  “Watch where….” The words died on her lips and she swallowed hard as she took in the sight of the younger Inquisitor.  He turned to glare at her as he took in her uniform, the golden eyes seething with anger and was that—
“Flight Lieutenant,” he said sharply.  The same voice that had cut into their comm channel earlier.  It still had the soft undertone of youth despite his clear attempts to hide it.

“I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t see you there, it won’t happen again, I promise,” she muttered in one breath, making a split second decision to keep eye contact instead of breaking it.

“It better not.”  He looked over her again before clearing his throat.  “You wouldn’t happen to be Lieutenant Wren?” He left it as a question.

She swallowed.  “Yes, sir.” Dem, what did you say this time….

He nodded.  “Your, uh, report was what brought us here.  The part about the Jedi.” He cleared his throat again, eyes flicking down and then back up.

All at once he stiffened, closing his eyes for something longer than a blink before opening them.  “Thank you, for that report,” he nodded briefly to her again before turning abruptly and walking away.

She exhaled as he left, the chill that had permeated the hall starting to dissipate as she turned to head back to her room.

She wasn’t hungry anymore.

Chapter Text

Sabine had been at the base for about two weeks when they received another call to arms.

She was technically off duty and in the middle of a round of an intense game of sabacc (and feeling fairly confident about her hand too) when they all got a comm.

Dem’s voice came clearly over her commlink.  “ Report to the hangar, now!  We’ve got rebel activity a few klicks off from the base!

She and the other pilots stood quickly, not bothering to push the chairs back in as they rushed to change into their flight suits.  She joined the rest of her squad as they arrived at the hangar, shoving her helmet over her head as she quickly climbed the ladder and hopped into her TIE.

The squadron’s comm channel was already noisy.

Dagger Leader, you have coordinates?

Dagger Six; I’ve got visual!

Dagger Seven they’re at oh point nine three five dash six, sector three see!

I’ve got visual too!  I’m three klicks off— ”  A strangled scream came over the comm and the line went silent.

Dagger Eight?  Dagger Eight, do you copy?!

There was silence.

I- I’ve got visual on Dagger Eight.  It’s a crash; it’s bad. Transmitting coordinates now. ”  A ping on Sabine’s console notified her of the transmitted coordinates.

She reached the coordinates Dem had shouted over the comm within another minute.  Already there was a firefight going on, and she spotted the crash site. The freighter was arcing up in a loop, preparing to dive.

And three fighters were foolishly chasing it.

“Break off the chase!  They’re flipping to realign their guns!” she yelled over the comm.

Dagger Three—

No, she’s right!  Get out of there! ” Dem commanded.

The fighters were veering out of the freighter’s way now, and just in time.  The ship dived, realigning its nose guns with exactly where the TIEs had been.  The ship pulled up just before hitting the ground, and Sabine aligned the ship in her targeting system.  She waited, biting her lip as the ship shifted before she got a lock on it.

She pulled the trigger, shooting rapid bolts of green laser fire as something on the rear of the ship exploded.

Sabine was too focused on getting the ship back in her sights after it had drifted out to notice as the rear guns on the ship aligned with her fighter.

Sabine was too focused to notice when the rear gunner fired.

Sabine was too focused to notice until her wing was hit and she went down, her console sparking.

Sabine was too focused to notice until her fighter hit the ground and she slammed face first into the console.


|~~~|

 

Sabine jolted awake, only registering the faint pressure of a face mask at first.  She struggled to sit up, trying to raise an arm to tear the mask off, but her arm wasn’t responding and trying to sit up felt like getting kicked in the stomach.

She looked around, blinking as she took in the harsh light of a med bay.  A medical droid was puttering around a few meters away, and her ears slowly began to register a dim beeping noise slowly rising in pitch and speed.

The droid came over a couple of minutes later.

“Why- what happened,” she choked out, her throat burning.

“Your TIE fighter crashed, Lieutenant Wren.”  The droid’s voice was mechanical and it hurt to listen to it.  Doing anything hurt at this point.

“And?”

“You need to remain in the medical bay for at least the next three weeks.  You have already undergone bacta tank treatment, but you still need time to heal naturally.  After those three weeks are up, you will be restricted to ground duties until further evaluation.”

“Ground duties?  My squadron needs me—“

The droid cut her off.  “I assure you, Lieutenant Wren, your squadron will be able to manage for the next few weeks until you are ready to fly again.”

She groaned in frustration.  “Can I at least get this mask off?”

“It is standard procedure to leave the mask on for at least 24 hours after the patient has regained full consciousness.”

She groaned again.

 

A few hours later Dem and a few other members of her squad came in.  Sabine was drifting in and out of consciousness when he cleared his throat.  She opened her eyes, turning slightly to look at him.

“Hey,” she mumbled tiredly.

“How are you?  That crash was bad.”

“Tired.  Feel like I rammed a speeder into a tank.”

He nodded.  “They’ve already got reports from the rest of us; since fire was exchanged they want full reports from each of us.  Since you’re clearly in no condition to send a written one at the moment, they’re allowing an exception to policy. You can give a verbal one, in person.”

She raised an eyebrow.  “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit tied up at the moment.”

“Of course, yeah.  They’ll come in here to do it.  In a day or so, once you’re feeling up to it.  But we can’t wait too long.”

Sabine pursed her lips, then asked, “How long was I out for?”

Dem bit his lip, but one of the other squad members moved to reply.  “Three days. They took you out of bacta eighteen, nineteen hours ago?”

She nodded tiredly again and the droid approached.

“Lieutenant Wren would benefit if you would leave her to rest now.  You may come again tomorrow.”

Dem nodded, looking back down at her.  “Get some rest, yeah?”

She nodded sleepily as her squadron started to drift out of the room.  “Okay.”

He smiled briefly at her and left with the others as she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

A rotation or two later, once the medical droid had finally taken her mask off, Sabine was half asleep on the slightly inclined bed when the door to the med bay opened abruptly.  She blinked and forced herself to pay attention, sitting up more.

Agent Kallus and the younger Inquisitor entered, leaving two ‘troopers at the door.  Sabine raised an eyebrow in question as they approached the bed.

“I assume your squadron leader told you about the situation surrounding your report?” Kallus asked.  She nodded, then glanced at the boy. If Kallus or the boy caught on to the confusion in her expression, neither showed it.

Kallus pulled out a datapad.  “Let’s start at the beginning.  Once you were airborne…” he prompted.

She sucked in a breath and started explaining the events leading up to her crash.  Kallus took notes throughout, nodding from time to time. When she got to the part about the freighter, he held up a hand to stop her.

“Is this is the same VCX-100 you’ve encountered previously?”

The boy stood a bit straighter at the mention of the previous encounter and he caught Sabine’s eye.

“Yes, sir,” she said, nodding again.

“Good.  Continue.”

She continued, finishing at the last moment she remembered before the crash.

He shut off the datapad, glancing briefly at the boy.  The young Inquisitor only shook his head. Kallus returned his attention to Sabine.

“Thank you, Lieutenant.  That will be all.”

They left and Sabine slumped back against the bed.


|~~~|

 

The medical droid cleared Sabine for release (“for ground duties only ”) three weeks later.  Dagger Squadron celebrated with several games of sabacc and what Sabine was pretty sure were bottles of alcohol, considering no one would tell her what it was but also prevented her from having any (“for her health”).

The next few rotations dragged on slowly as Sabine waited to get cleared for flying again.  Occasionally she still felt like half her body was on fire, but aside from the heavy painkillers she’d been prescribed, there wasn’t much she could do about that.

Being confined to the base wasn’t a complete waste of time, however.  She saw both Inquisitors more than she had before the crash, not that she was happy about that.  They both continued to unnerve her. She saw the human one more than the Pau’an; he would often come and watch as reports were filed.  It was always harder to focus when he was in the room; the temperature seemed to drop dramatically each time he entered. Thankfully he never seemed to stay long, and as the rotations went on he came by less.

 

She was going through patrol reports about a week after being released from the med bay when a couple caught her eye.

They were from a pair of troopers stationed in Capital City.  Apparently, one moment they had been talking to several vendors about reports of thievery.  The next they’d been halfway across the city in a sector they weren’t even supposed to patrol.  Neither trooper seemed to remember how they had gotten there.

She cross-checked their reports with the parts of their medical records she had clearance to directly following the reports.  Neither had been diagnosed with amnesia.

So why….

Sabine bit her lip.  She wasn’t sure if the reports should be sent to someone for  special reviewing—which was apparently still a fairly new process, supposedly set up in the past five weeks or so—or if they should just be filed as per normal.

She went with her gut and sent them to special reviewing, and forgot about them.

For three rotations.

 

Sabine was finishing up with a few more reports and getting ready to leave for dinner.  Only a few of the lower-ranking officials were still in the office when a chill entered the room.  She abruptly looked over her shoulder to see the younger Inquisitor.

“Lieutenant Wren,” he called.  Her heart stopped.

“Yes, sir?” she asked, turning fully.

His eyes flicked to the other people in the room.  “Out,” he ordered. As people shoved their chairs back and barely restrained themselves from running out of the room, she forced herself to look away and back at him.

“Did you need something, Inquisitor?” she questioned again.  He took a few more steps into the room before pausing. There was still a good three meters between them.

“The trooper reports.  The ones you sent to Special Review a few rotations ago.”

“Yes?  What about them?”

“Did someone tell you to send them there?”

“No, I just used my own discretion.”

He nodded.  “Good. You did good- I mean well.”  His intimidating facade dropped for less than a minute, but it was long enough for Sabine to see a flicker of the immature teen he must have been once.  The one he should be now, instead of someone who had grown up too fast.  Instead of someone who weakly attempted to intimidate everyone around him.

She nodded slowly, still eyeing him warily.  “Thank you, Inquisitor.”

He nodded again, then turned and left without another word.

Chapter Text

Sabine was permitted to leave base after a week out of the med bay, though she was still confined to ground duties.  Whenever Dem and anyone else from Dagger Squadron were permitted a day off, she accompanied them into Capital City. However, she had also taken to walking or riding a speeder there alone, partly as a way to think through things and partly as an excuse to get off base, away from the Inquisitors and the constant reminders of how grounded she was now.

She walked the streets silently, occasionally speaking briefly with vendors but rarely buying anything.  Sometimes she would catch sight of pickpockets weaving through the crowd, most of them Loth-rats no more than twelve.

The thought of turning them in always came across her mind, but she never acted upon it.  The ones who had attempted to rob her in the past had been caught and threatened against doing so again before she released them.

They were, after all, children.

And it wasn’t like any of them had grown up with the Mandalorian Resol’nare she had been raised on.

She slipped into one of the bars one day while still in civvies.  She was too young for alcohol, but not too young to eat and listen to the local gossip—and hopefully still help the base by getting news about the rebel cell’s activity.

Sabine was sitting in the corner, listening to conversations more than actually eating, when something caught her attention.

“...that next shipment for Vizago.  It’s going out in a couple hours.”

She glanced nonchalantly around the bar, trying to find who had been speaking.  A Twi’lek woman a few tables away had her elbows propped up on the table, speaking in a low tone to a man with a nerftail who looked familiar, though Sabine couldn’t place him.  Only the vacancy of the tables between them allowed Sabine to hear what they were saying.

The man shrugged, and Sabine turned back to her drink so it wouldn’t be obvious that she was listening in.  “I mean, the Imps know what Zeb and I look like now. I’m not sure we’ll be able to get the shipment without—”

“How many of them have actually seen you both, up close, without you doing any Jedi things?”

Jedi?

She cautiously pulled out her comm, speaking into it in barely a whisper.  “Command, this is Lieutenant Wren, ID eight oh four five dash six oh seven.  I’m in an establishment in sector two dash six, and I’ve got mentions of jogans, EL-16HFE blaster rifles, DAS-four three zero Neural Inhibitors, and IR suppressors.  Please advise.”

As she waited for a reply, she started to eat again and continued to eavesdrop.  She had missed some of the conversation while comming the base, but she was able to pick up the thread of it again fairly quickly.

“There’s rumors about Inquisitors here, Kanan.  Whatever you choose to do...be careful.” She glanced over to see the Twi’lek lay a hand on the man’s arm.  He took a sip from his drink before putting it back on the table, almost slamming it down.

“I’ve done this before.  I’ll be fine. It’s a simple job, and it’ll pay enough for fuel for another couple weeks.  As long as we’re careful with how we use it.”

The woman sighed.  “Just...don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.  I don’t want you compromising the job because you saw an opportunity to get something else with the shipment.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Sabine saw the man smirk and raise an eyebrow.  “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do? Are you aware of your own behavior, Captain Syndulla?”

They both laughed softly and started to stand.

Copy Lieutenant.  We’ve got operatives coming in now.

She sighed in relief, eyeing the couple as they left a few credit bars on the table and made to leave.

“Suspects are leaving,” she muttered into the comm.

As the man turned so his back was facing her, she recognized him.

“One of them is the man who escaped a few months ago once confronted.”

Operatives are en route, Lieutenant.  They should arrive soon. Trail suspects at a distance.

“Copy,” she murmured as the couple exited.

She waited thirty seconds and then stood, placing a credit bar on the table before hurrying to the door.

Once outside, she searched the crowd for the pair.

They were nowhere to be seen.

Sabine sighed in frustration, pulling out her comm.  As she opened her mouth to speak, she caught sight of the nerftailed man—the woman had called him Kanan—walking across the street.  The Twi’lek was nowhere to be seen.

She began to follow him from the opposite side of the street.  “One of the suspects has disappeared, but I’m still tailing the other.  Please advise.”

Describe the suspects.

“The one I’ve encountered previously is human, about two meters, brown-haired with a nerftail.  He’s got a green pauldron on one shoulder. I’m still tailing him. The other is a green-skinned Twi’lek; I think she was wearing some sort of flight suit?  I’ve lost track of her.”

Copy.

The line went silent, and a moment later her commlink crackled again.  “ We’ve got a couple operatives tailing the Twi’lek now.  Keep an eye on the human. There’s another operative on him.

“Copy that.”

She continued to follow Kanan until he moved into an alley.  She crossed the street and stopped at the wall, glancing into the alley from around the wall.

“I can sense you.  Just come out and let’s get this over with,” he called.

She took a step forward, about to step into the alley, when she heard a soft thud.  She leaned into the alley a bit further, jolting back in shock. Another figure had materialized in the alley.

It took her a minute to place him, but once she did, her mouth went dry and her throat tightened involuntarily.

The human Inquisitor moved slowly toward the man, who surprisingly didn’t seem frightened at all.  He stood in a relaxed but defensive stance, hand drifting toward his blaster though he still kept it in its holster.

“Go on then.  Let’s get this over with,” Kanan said sharply.

“Come quietly and you won’t get hurt.  As much,” the boy added quickly.

The man made a noise of disbelief.  “For some reason I doubt that.”

The Inquisitor shrugged.  “Suit yourself.” He reached back to grab a circular device from his back, holding it by the middle bar as he held it out toward the man.

He pressed something on the middle bar, and a red blade ignited.

She gasped, putting a hand to her mouth and taking a step back.  The boy’s head whipped around and Kanan looked up, meeting her eyes with confusion.  A second later his eyes narrowed in recognition.

“You.”

Sabine took a step back, reaching for her blaster.

“Well.  Isn’t this quite the turn of events?”

Sabine turned quickly, taking a step back toward the alley.  The Pau’an Inquisitor stood in front of her, arms folded as he looked from her to the alley behind her.

“Apprentice,” the Pau’an called, “kill him.”

Chapter Text

Hera knew they were following her.

She wasn’t new to this; she had often snuck out to accompany her father on missions to rid Ryloth of the Separatists during the Clone Wars before her mother could stop her.  Her father had never seemed surprised and had rarely made too much of an attempt to get her to return home.

Her mother had always been less than amused when she returned, bruised and dirt-covered but still standing.

One of the people tailing her was meandering along the street on her right, but his posture was too stiff to be a civilian.  The other was far back and to her left, and kept glancing toward her far too often for what would constitute casual interest.

She needed to shake them, and meet back up with Kanan, assuming he had managed to shake the girl following him.  She had followed them out of Jho’s, and while they had been inside the tavern Kanan had clearly recognized her. He still hadn’t explained to Hera why the girl had been familiar, aside from a mumbled “she’s an Imperial” as they exited the tavern.

Hera glanced at the person tailing her on her right.  He was inspecting something at a vendor’s stall.

She glanced at the person on her left, who had gotten held up by a particularly aggressive vendor.

She smirked to herself as she ducked into an alley, heading back to the speeders she and Kanan had stashed.  When she arrived, however, he was nowhere to be found. Hera pulled out her commlink, glancing back at the alley she had come down before turning the comm on.  “Spectre One, do you copy?”

There was silence on the other end.  She counted to fifteen before turning the comm on again.  “Spectre One, do you copy?” she repeated, more insistent.

The line was still silent and she bit her lip.

What had her Jedi gotten himself into this time?

 

Sabine watched as the younger Inquisitor walked calmly toward Kanan.  Or at least, he seemed calm.

If she focused on the hand that was gripping his the middle bar of his ‘saber, she could just barely see it shaking, his knuckles white.

“Don’t make this take all day, boy,” the Pau’an called from behind her.  “Finish it quickly.”

“Yes Master,” the boy called, his voice sounding younger than Sabine had heard it before.

He stopped about a foot in front of Kanan, staring up at the man.  The man looked down calmly.

“Put the lightsaber down kid.  You’re not going to be able to use it.”

“Yes, I am, ” he insisted.

The man shrugged and pulled his blaster out.  “If you were, I’d be dead by now.”

The younger Inquisitor fell silent.

The silence dragged on before the Pau’an sighed.  “Kill him already, or I’ll do it myself if you’re too weak.”

The word struck a chord in the boy.  He raised the ‘saber.

And a lightsaber hilt was suddenly in Kanan’s hand, the blade igniting in a blue fire that left Sabine breathless as he easily blocked the boy’s slow attack.

They were suddenly fighting with a speed that seemed inhuman—in her mind she recognized the man as a Jedi; the Mandalorian part of her recognized him as jetii , an enemy, her blood screamed for her to take her blaster and kill him before he could do anything else—but also graceful.  The boy’s movements were slightly choppy, almost as if he was hesitant to strike the man. Kanan also seemed a bit hesitant to strike, but he kept his movements smooth and flowing.

The Pau’an behind her was getting more and more agitated.  She could feel his fury at the boy’s failed attempts to kill the Jedi.

Kanan managed to get a meter or two between him and the boy.  He threw his hand forward, and the boy was thrown against the wall of the alley.  He stirred and went still.

The Jedi glanced at the Pau’an, smirking faintly.  “Hate to go, but I’ve got an appointment.” He jumped, easily clearing the roof of the building across from the one he had thrown the boy against.

The Pau’an roughly pushed past Sabine as he stalked into the alley, extending a hand toward the boy.  He was jerked through the air to the older Inquisitor’s grip, which tightened instantly around his throat.

Sabine’s eyes widened as she watched the boy cough weakly, his eyes widening.  The boy’s expression seemed to be one of fear, but not surprise. Almost as if...he was used to this.

Sabine felt another chill run down her spine as the Pau’an turned back to her.  “Head back to the garrison, Lieutenant,” he said coldly. “Fill out a report and send it to Special Review.”

With a last glance at the boy, she nodded and barely resisted from bolting back to her speeder.

 

The two Inquisitors returned to the base a few hours after Sabine came back.

She was on her way back from the mess hall after filling out her report when the younger Inquisitor stumbled into her path from a side hall, barely acknowledging her as he walked past.  He looked as if he hadn’t slept in a month. The boy had a slight bruise on his lower jaw but he didn’t seem to notice it. As he passed her, Sabine noticed what she thought was a burn on his hand that looked like it traveled up further, but his sleeve prevented her from seeing anything beyond his wrist.

She didn’t question it as she walked back to her room.

Chapter Text

“You appear to be able to fly now, Lieutenant Wren. You may return to your duties in Dagger Squadron.”
Sabine bit her lip to keep herself from letting out a shout of joy at the news. She was not able to suppress a smile, however, as she thanked the medical droid and headed back to her room to tell Dagger Squadron the news.

She was back in the air the next day, and she had never felt better.
It took all her self-restraint to keep from pushing the engines as far and as fast as they would go. Well, that and the fact that she didn’t want to get stripped of her flying privileges again so soon after regaining them.
She was on a routine patrol with Dem and Kaddalt, like usual, however the comm channel was mostly silent until Kaddalt couldn’t take it any longer.
So you were there when he fought the Jedi?
Sabine blinked in surprise before realizing that her squadmate was referring to the event a couple cycles ago.
“Oh, that. Yeah.”
Just yeah? It must’ve been amazing! Did they use their lightsabers—that’s what they’re called right?
She shrugged as she responded. “Yeah.”
What color were they?” Only Kaddalt would ask a question like that. Though she supposed he wanted to know all the details.
“The Inquisitor’s was red and the Jedi’s was blue.”
Dem broke in. “Which Inquisitor was it?
“The human one. The Pau’an came a couple minutes later; he was the one who ordered him to kill the Jedi.”
That’s so cool. I thought they’d already killed all the Jedi,” Kaddalt added in confusion.
“Apparently not.”
But he didn’t kill the Jedi, right?
“No.”
Then how’d he get away?!
“The Jedi? He just...jumped. That was it. He threw the Inquisitor against the wall and then just jumped up to the roof and ran off.”
And the Pau’an didn’t go after him or anything?
“Nope.”
The channel fell silent for a few minutes.
A crackle came before Dem’s voice broke the silence. “I think I’ve got something. Dagger Two, drop back. Dagger Three, on me.
Copy that.
“Copy.”
They cruised calmly for a moment before she caught sight of what Dem must have been referring to. A speeder sped through the plains below them, only visible when it emerged into a clearing between the rock spires briefly.
“Dagger Leader I’ve got visual. Are you sure it isn’t just a farmer?”
Look a bit closer.
She risked swooping down briefly when the speeder broke into plain view again. Sabine couldn’t see much, but she saw everything that mattered.
Could I get a positive ID on him, Dagger Three?
“It’s- it’s him all right. It’s the Jedi.”
She heard Dem suck in a breath over the line. “I’m opening up a line to the garrison.” There was a brief pause before he said, “Base this is Dagger Leader. We’ve got clear sights and a positive ID on the Jedi encountered a few cycles ago. Please advise.
The channel fell silent and Sabine circled lazily, watching Dem do the same out of her viewport. Then, “Copy that Dagger Leader. Land your TIEs and trail on foot if possible. Reinforcements are on their way.
He’s on a speeder. I don’t think we’ll be able to keep up with him on foot.
Track from above then. Keep high enough that you’ve got cloud cover, but low enough you can still see him. He should lead us right to their ship.
Copy that.
The two TIEs circled back, heading toward the garrison, before going into cloud cover and heading back in the direction the speeder had been going.
They waited in silence until the proximity sensor on Sabine’s fighter chirped. She glanced down at it to see a TIE Advanced approaching—no, two of them. A shiver ran down her spine. That would most likely be the Inquisitors.
The foreign TIEs hailed them and Dem patched them in. “I assume you’re our reinforcements?” he asked.
It is more the other way around.” The cool voice of the Pau’an came through and Sabine shivered involuntarily. “Follow my lead, and do not take offensive action until I give you the order to do so.
They lapsed into silence as they followed the speeder. Eventually it began to slow.
Looks like we’ve got a freighter up ahead,” Dem commented. “My scanners are showing something.
Mark its coordinates, and send for ground reinforcement along with air support,” the older Inquisitor said calmly.
“Should we attack, sir?”

No. Not yet.

They waited in silence for what seemed like forever before Dem spoke up. “Base says they’ve got reinforcements on the way. Dagger Two’s already pretty close and the rest of Dagger Squadron should be out soon.
We shall crush these rebels where they stand, then.

Kanan couldn’t shake the feeling that something felt...off.
He felt the same kind of cold that he had in the alley fight a few weeks ago, but more...distant.
He slowed the speeder to a stop as he reached the Broken Horn before hopping off and turning the engine off. No sense in wasting fuel they didn’t have.
He pulled the bag of parts off the back of the speeder and approached the ship.
“Vizago!”
The smuggler emerged a few seconds later, grinning widely as he took in the sight of Kanan, and wider still when he saw the bag of parts.
“I’ve got your parts.” He held up the bag. “Now where are my credits?”
“No Captain Syndulla or your big purple friend today? Ah, they must be busy, yes?”
Kanan didn’t reward him with an answer, only flatly saying, “Credits. Now.”
Vizago sighed and tsked, pulling a bag of credits out. Kanan set the bag down as the Devaronian tossed him the bag of credits.
“Thanks,” Kanan muttered, walking back to the speeder. Halfway there he stopped. “You wouldn’t, by chance, happen to hear too many rumors, would you?”
“Information comes with a price, my friend.”
Kanan turned. “The price is that some of your best suppliers keep supplying you. Now what have you heard about the Inquisitors?”

Dagger Squadron’s here, sir.
Good. And the ground reinforcements?
Less than a klick away.
Begin firing on my mark.
Sabine primed her weapons, waiting for the order to leave cloud cover and obliterate the rebel cell.

Chapter Text

“How many Inquisitors are there?”

“How should I know?  Directly looking for things the Empire doesn’t want you to see, it’s, ah, a tricky business.”  Vizago spread his hands as one of his droids approached.

“Sir, the proximity alarms indicate multiple fighters approaching.”

The Devaronian whirled on the Jedi.  “You led them to me?! I thought you always made sure you were never tracked!”

Kanan held up his hands.  “I saw a couple fighters earlier but it looked like they headed back to the garrison!”
“Well then lead them away!

Kanan sprinted for the speeder as Vizago and the droid rushed back to the Broken Horn.

“Hera I need a pickup!  We’ve got multiple—” He cut himself off once he realized she hadn’t responded.  “Hera?” Reaching the speeder, he jumped on and started it, shoving the throttle forward as he slapped his commlink against his hand.   Must be jamming my transmissions.

He glanced up to see fighters emerging from the cloud cover.   Karabast.

He’d have to head into the foothills and hopefully lose them there.  Turning the speeder to the left, he headed back around to the rock formations as the first TIE started to fire.

 

Sabine shot out of the cloud cover, setting her targeting systems to fire on the freighter.  But as she got closer, she realized they had made a mistake.

“We’ve got the wrong ship!” she yelled over the comm.

Then where’s the right one? ” Dem yelled back.  He had already fired, just barely missing it as he veered upward.

“Not sure!”

Where did the speeder go? ”  It took her a moment to place the younger Inquisitor’s voice.

“Uh….”  Sabine searched through the windscreen.  “Not sure.”

Found it!  It’s headed to the foothills, ” Dem replied a moment later.

Follow it, ” the older Inquisitor commanded.

Copy that sir.

The TIEs followed the speeder into the foothills and were soon joined by the remainder of Dagger Squadron.

As they pursued the speeder into the foothills, Sabine realized the TIEs were barely able to navigate between the large rocks.

“I’m not sure we’ll be able to navigate this,” Sabine muttered over the comm.

Just be careful, Dagger Three, ” Dem responded.

Jera’s voice came over the channel.  “ Dagger Leader, I think she has a point.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to navigate this unscathed—

I’m hit! ”  Sabine instantly looked to the right of her viewport, barely catching sight of Johste’s TIE’s smoking wing as it spiraled down, hitting one of the boulders and exploding in a fireball.  She sucked in a breath, shutting her eyes. Nu kyr’adyc, shi taab’echaaj’la.

Dagger Leader, we have to pull out.  We’re going to suffer more casualties! ” Kaddalt cried.

Sabine heard Dem suck in a breath over the comm.  “ Alright.  Inquisitor?  Should we pull out?

The line was silent for a long time.  Almost too long.

Finally the comm crackled again.  “ Fine.  The ground reinforcements will take care of him.  If they manage to flush him out, we can take care of him from there.  Pull out of the canyons, but do not leave yet.

Sabine sighed in relief as she steered her TIE upward.  She pushed the throttle forward as the rest of her squadron—minus Johste—emerged from the canyons and headed to the end of the foothills.

 

Sir, with all due respect, we’ve been out here for hours.  We need to refuel while we still have the chance.

She waited for one of the Inquisitors to respond to Dem, knowing he was right but also knowing that the Inquisitor would most likely not allow them to leave to refuel.

So she was naturally surprised when he replied, “ Fine.  Make it quick.  If we lose the Jedi again, there will be consequences, I assure you.  Apprentice, you are to stay here.

Copy that sir.  Dagger Squadron, form up on me.

Sabine sighed in relief as she banked left, flanking Dem to his left while Kaddalt moved up to flank his right.  The Inquisitor’s TIE fell in a ways behind the last of Dagger Squadron.

They headed back to base, all silently hoping the Jedi would not escape.

They couldn’t handle another loss today.

 

As soon as he was sure that the TIEs had left (for good this time), Kanan turned his speeder around and gunned it back the way he had come.

If the Force was with him, he should be able to make it through the perimeter of stormtroopers that would no doubt be blocking his escape.  A few good shots with his blaster would clear a little room, and he was confident in his ability to get through that gap mostly unscathed.

Or at least that’s what he told himself.

As he came around one of the boulders, he saw the perimeter coming up sooner than he’d expected.

Glancing up out of habit, he also saw the second TIE Advanced.

Kriff.

 

He stared out of the windscreen of the fighter.

He really should shoot.

The Jedi had clearly spotted him, yet he was still coming full speed at the perimeter.  Actually, it looked like he had sped up.

He had to give the guy some credit.  He was brave, if foolish.

End it.  Shoot him.

Show your master you are more than what he thinks you are.

He sucked in a breath, exhaling slowly as his hands tightened around the controls.  He moved his finger up to the trigger, matched up the speeder in his targeting system.

Shoot him.

He knew what would happen if he failed again.

Shoot him.

But he also had his own TIE, the ability to block communications, and almost no supervision.  He would never get another chance like this.

Shoot him.

It would take a good five minutes to disable the tracker, and another ten to disable the kill switch.  He had never been as good at mechanics as his master had wanted.

Shoot him.

He inhaled sharply, realigning his targeting.

Shoot him.

Chapter Text

Kanan fired at the troopers, felling three before they started shooting back.  He continued to fire, partially focused on weaving between the charges and on sensing when the TIE above would fire.

The gap in the line was coming up soon.  The troopers increased their fire as he got closer, but they also began to look unsure.  Surely the Jedi wouldn’t make a suicide run straight into the middle of them…?

He smirked to himself and gunned the speeder.

They dove out of the way as he made it through.  Now just to avoid the TIE….

Hearing a shift in the ion engines, he glanced up to see the TIE turn, following him at a distance.  It shot once, twice, both times missing him widely.

And then it….

It banked to the right?

And was it really….

Was the TIE really leaving?

He slowed to a stop, watching the TIE leave in confusion.

Take the chance while you still have it.

He started the speeder up again, riding away from the fire of the setting sun and back to the Ghost.

Hera’s not gonna believe this….

 

He exhaled heavily, wiping a hand across his brow before standing and diving underneath the console, hands searching for the tracker.

He had landed as soon as he could.  Once he got the tracker out and the kill switch destroyed, he would take to the air again, and go….Somewhere.  He should go offworld before they realized he was gone.

He had no idea how long that’d be.

He inhaled sharply as his left hand brushed against some of the wires, biting his lip as the pain from the burn flared up again.  He’d have to be more careful.

He found the tracker and pulled it out, rolling it out from under the console as he continued to search for the kill switch.  His hand brushed against another wire and he bit back a cry of pain, forcing himself to keep feeling along the bottom of the console.  His fingers brushed along the edge of a panel and he paused, a hunch telling him to open it. Worming further under the console, he pried the panel open and felt inside, forcing himself to ignore the pain as his hand repeatedly brushed against wires.

And then his fingers hit something hard.

He allowed himself a small smile as he pulled on it, a clump of wires following it out as he tossed it out from under the console.  He replaced the panel and extricated himself from the nest of wires as he came out from under the console.

He didn’t allow himself a moment to pause as he grabbed the tracker and the kill switch—and the mess of wires that came with it—and opened the hatch, easily jumping out of the TIE.

He ran a few meters away from the TIE and dropped the tracker, placing the kill switch and the wires next to it.  He grabbed his lightsaber and ignited one end of the blade, slashing the kill switch and the wires, careful to leave the tracker intact.  He allowed himself a moment to breathe before sheathing the weapon and returning the hilt to its place on his back.

He walked back to the TIE, getting in and closing the hatch before starting it up.

He allowed himself a small smile.

He was free.

 

As soon as the TIEs were refueled they were off again, racing back to the canyons.

Sabine’s comm channel suddenly came online, a foreign voice announcing, “ Dagger Squadron, the Jedi has escaped.  The Inquisitor is going after him.

The Pau’an answered immediately.  “ The boy did not kill him?

No sir.  We can get his tracker online if you’d like his current coordinates.

Do so immediately.

There was a minute or so of silence before the comm crackled again.  “ Transmitting coordinates to you now, Inquisitor.  Should I send them to Dagger Squadron as well?

No.  I will look into it myself.  Dagger Squadron, report back to base.

Copy that sir, ” Dem answered, banking right.  The squadron turned to follow him as they headed back to the garrison.

 

Kanan slowed to a stop as he reached the Ghost.

“Hera!” he called, getting off the speeder and taking it to its hiding place behind some of the rocks nearby.

He heard someone coming down the ship’s ramp.  Finishing with the speeder, Kanan hurried back to the Ghost.  He couldn’t help a small smile as he caught sight of Hera and jangled the bag of credits.

“Got our pay from Vizago.  And now we gotta go.”

She sighed, rolling her eyes as he walked up the loading ramp.  “What did you do this time?”

“I may or may not have gotten the attention of our Imperial friends again.  They’re gone for the moment, but they’re blocking all non-Imperial transmissions—they know we’re here.”

“Kanan….”

He shrugged, tossing her a grin over his shoulder as he closed up the ramp.  “It’d probably be good to go offworld for a while. Zeb, you here?”

“Yeah,” the Lasat called, and a moment later he came down the ladder into the cargo hold.  “What is it Kanan?”

“Imperials.  We’re going off-world, Garel probably.  Need you on the nose gun just in case; I’ll take the dorsal turret.”

“Eh, sure.”  He headed back up the ladder and Kanan glanced at Hera.

“I wish you’d be a bit more careful,” she sighed.

“But if I did that I don’t think you’d love me quite as much.”  He pulled himself up the ladder, glancing back at Hera in time to see her suppressing a smile and rolling her eyes at him again.

Chapter Text

Two rotations had gone by, and there had been no sign of the younger Inquisitor.

There was a bounty for him now, alive.

Sabine had no doubt that the restrictions on the alive condition would change soon if there was still no sign of him.

If a rebel cell got ahold of him, it was doubtful they’d be able to get any information out of him that he was unwilling to share.  However, after the tracker and destroyed kill switch were found, it had become rapidly apparent that the boy had deserted.

And the cells were looking for deserters.

Dagger Squadron was put on the rotational schedule to look for him.  Two pilots at a time; the garrison couldn’t spare more than that if they wanted any chance of finding the Lothal-based rebels.

Sabine and Dem were on the schedule for the third rotation the Inquisitor had been missing.

Currently they were just flying calmly above the plains, making idle talk every now and then but mostly just cruising in silence.  Neither expected to find the Inquisitor or his TIE, and neither would be disappointed if they did not.

Hold on, something’s showing on my scanners, ” Dem called over the comm channel.

“Can you tell what it is?”

Not yet, we’re too far away.

“If it’s the Inquisitor...are we supposed to engage?”

Don’t think so.  Just report coord—

The proximity sensor started beeping rapidly, causing Sabine to jump.  She glanced down at it before out the viewport.

“My proximity alarms are going off and I don’t see anything.  Do yo—”

Something hit her fighter from behind.

She was shoved forward, head and helmet smashing against the console as her TIE started to spiral downward.

Everything went dark.

 

The other TIE turned, swerving back around to engage.

He was already on it, shooting rapidly at the enemy TIE.  He risked a quick glance down to see the other TIE crash to the ground.  No explosion.

The pilot could still be alive.

He would have to finish them off later.  Right now he had to focus on the remaining TIE.  If they were allowed to remain alive...and managed to bring news of him back to his master….

He shuddered and realigned his targeting systems, banking hard to avoid a stream of green laser fire.  He was tempted to get out of his TIE and jump onto the other TIE and just let his ‘saber finish the job, but there was a high risk his own TIE would crash.  He hadn’t mastered the art of remote piloting yet.

He swerved back around and fired repeatedly at the TIE again.  Without warning the TIE shot up and began to head back to the garrison.

No no no no no….

This wasn’t going the way it was supposed to go.  He couldn’t allow that TIE to get back to the base.

He glanced down at the crashed TIE.

Maybe...if he finished the crashed pilot off quickly, he could get out just as quickly.  Maybe be gone before his master arrived.

He wasn’t sure if shooting at it would cause an explosion, and he didn’t want to draw more attention to himself than he had already.

He landed his TIE a few hundred meters from the crash, opened the hatch, and jumped out.

He retrieved his lightsaber from its place on his back and ignited one of the blades, beginning to walk toward the crash.

 

Sabine woke to flames.

She cried out, head jolting up from the remains of the console as she tried to back away before realizing she was still strapped in.  She fumbled with the straps, the blood dripping down the side of her head inside her helmet not helping. Finally she got the chest straps free and moved to the others, releasing them sooner than she had the first set.  She quickly removed her helmet and tossed it to the side, knowing it wouldn’t be much help now. She exhaled slowly, allowing herself a moment to get her bearings.

Her TIE had been hit.  By who, she still wasn’t sure.

She had crashed.

The comms on her fighter were most likely dead, and she didn’t hear ion engines outside.

Dem probably thought she was dead.

Her TIE was on fire.

She still had her blaster.

She exhaled again and then scrambled out of the seat, crying out as a piece of metal dug into her shin on the way out.  She gritted her teeth and continued to hurry out of the cockpit.

It was on fire.

It hadn’t blown up yet, but it still might.

Get out of there.

She pushed against the hatch, cursing loudly in Mando’a as she realized it was sealed shut.  She glanced back worriedly at the flames crackling over the console.

Either the TIE would blow soon, or the fire would spread.

Either way it was bad.

She removed her blaster from its holster and started hitting it against the hatch, trying to open it with brute force.

On the fifth try it opened, just enough that she could shove it open all the way and climb out.  She glanced at the ground, a good fifteen feet down.

One look back at the fire in the cockpit made her decision for her.

Sabine jumped, crying out as her leg buckled underneath her.  She bit her lip and stood shakily, glancing up at the TIE and then down at her torn flight suit before starting to limp around to the front of her TIE.

Halfway there she froze.

A black-clad figure was approaching, all detail masked in the shadow that the setting sun threw over him.

But she could still see the flaming line of red he was carrying, almost casually, just fine.

She stumbled back, turning to run.

She froze again, but not of her own volition.

She tried to move and found she couldn’t, instead making a small, helpless sound she knew her mother would’ve disproved of.

She heard his footsteps come closer and closer, just barely audible over the crackle of the flames.

Her fingers twitched as she tried to grab her blaster, but whatever was holding her wasn’t letting go easily.

You’ll die a defenseless coward, just like they said your family did.

Her breath hitched in her throat as he walked around to face her, stopping.  The red blade remained in his hand, but it was still as threatening as ever.

“You were coming to kill me,” he said quietly.

She was shocked.  For once, the Inquisitor wasn’t attempting to make his voice deeper.

“I- no, we were looking for you.  They want you alive,” she whispered, her throat hoarse.

She heard the blade crackling softly in the silence as he blinked, studying her.

I should kill you,” he murmured, almost as if he was talking to himself.

“Please don’t.”

He raised an eyebrow.  “Why?”

Her eyes flicked to his left hand and he quickly tugged his sleeve down over it.  He did so too late; she had already seen the burn.

“You didn’t kill the Jedi.  You had two chances, and you didn’t.  Why?”

There was silence again as they stared at each other.

“I had a choice,” he spoke finally.

“Then make that choice again.  Please.” She couldn’t believe this.  Here she was, basically on her knees and begging for her life from some sort of Imperial Jedi, begging for her life from a being that she would never begin to understand.

Tristan would have definitely been proud of that.

He continued to study her, the only sounds the faint crackling of his blade and the flames behind him.

And now the sound of ion engines.

They both looked up, and the boy cursed softly in a dialect she didn’t understand at the sight of the TIEs approaching.  They approached the ground, and Sabine knew they had seen her and the Inquisitor by now.

He sheathed his blade and returned the hilt to his back.

Whatever hold was on her released suddenly and she stumbled to one knee.

“They’ve seen you with me.  They’ll think you’re helping me.  If you want to live, come,” he said firmly, turning and walking back the way he had come.  Sabine stood quickly, swaying slightly from dizziness before she shook her head to clear it.

“I’m not—”

He stopped and turned to her, raising an eyebrow.  “Tell me I’m wrong.”

A moment’s thought revealed he wasn’t and she sighed, limping after him.  “Let’s go,” she muttered.

Chapter Text

Sabine glanced up at the top of the TIE and then at the Inquisitor.

“I’m not going to be able to make it up that.”

He shrugged.  “Stand still, and don’t scream.”

“Wha—“

She was being launched through the air, and she did scream as she was hurtled to the top of the TIE.  She landed on her hands and knees, gasping.

There was a soft thump next to her and she turned to see the Inquisitor smirking faintly at her.

“Get in.”

She stood shakily and climbed into the cockpit, moving out of the way as he just jumped in.  She closed the hatch before shooting him an irritated glare as she settled into the pilot’s seat.  He glanced back at her.

“Might want to hold on,” he called back.

She scoffed, rolling her eyes.

He shrugged.  “Suit yourself.”

He started the fighter.  One minute they were still and the next they were in the middle of the firefight.  Sabine gripped the back of his seat to keep from being pitched forward onto the console.

“Are you even strapped in?!” she yelled.

“Nope!” he replied, and if she wasn’t crazy—though at this point she knew by going with him she was beyond crazy—she thought it sounded almost gleeful.

He banked hard to the left and she yelped, losing her balance and nearly falling.  The TIE straightened out again and she breathed a sigh of relief until she looked through the windscreen.

Three TIEs were coming straight at them.

“Don’t shoot!” she yelled.

“Why shouldn’t I?!  They’re shooting at us!” the Inquisitor yelled back.

“They’re my squadron!” she replied.  “Just- just take evasive maneuvers!”

“Got it!”  He curved left again, circling back.

“Where are you going?!”

“There’s some caves up here we can lose them in!”

She sighed in frustration before noticing a couple TIEs coming a bit too close for comfort.  “If you have to shoot, just shoot their wings like you did with mine!”

He didn’t respond, instead firing at the wing of a TIE that was flying at them head-on.  The TIE spiraled downward and out of their way.

They broke free of the firefight, flying due east.  Sabine leaned forward over the Inquisitor’s shoulder, searching the plains out the windscreen.

After what must have been about an hour, a large rock formation appeared on the horizon.  They got closer to it before the Inquisitor slowed and began to circle before landing the TIE.  He walked to the hatch and opened it, jumping out. Sabine grabbed something from under the console before following, trying to find a way down without risking her leg again.

“Are you coming?” he called up to her.

“Trying to find a way down without destroying my knee!” she yelled back.

He sighed, closing his eyes and extending a hand.  With a yelp she was flying through the air again, landing roughly in the grass.  She stood, dusting herself off before glaring at him again. He shrugged.

“You didn’t look like you were gonna jump, so I helped.”

She rolled her eyes.

“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the object in her hand.  She glanced at it.

“Medkit.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“The TIE.  There’s one under the console of most ships and some fighters.  I had a hunch,” she shrugged, looking around. “Now where are those caves you mentioned?”

“This way.  Come on.” He took off toward the rock formation.

She limped after him, glancing back at the TIE.  “Are we just gonna leave it?”

“Yep.”

“We can’t—”

“It won’t fit in the tunnels.”

Tunnels?

 

They reached the caves after sundown.

Sabine tried to find some tinder for a fire as the Inquisitor walked to the edge of the cave, sitting cross-legged and staring out at the twin moons.

After twenty minutes without finding any kindling she approached him.

“Can’t I just go down and get some of the grass?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?  Afraid I’ll run off?”

“That, and they’ll have probe droids out soon, if they aren’t out already,” he answered calmly, still not turning to look at her.  She sighed, throwing her hands up.

“Fine.  We won’t have a fire.  But in all honesty, do you even have a plan?

He shrugged.  “We could go north, through the tunnels, or we could stay here.  We might be able to find a ship willing to take us out of here.”

Sabine scoffed, folding her arms.  “They’ll have our faces plastered on every wall.”

“Yeah, and?”

“Do you have even the smallest shred of common sense?”

“I’ve avoided the Empire before.  I can do it again.”

“Not while you’re wearing the Imperial cog and armor and I’m still in an Imperial flight suit!”

He only shrugged again.  “We’ll figure something out.”

She groaned in frustration and stalked to the back of the cave.

“I’ll take first watch,” he called.

“Fine, but I won’t be sleeping.”

 

The next morning he was waiting for her at the end of the cave, not seeming any less tired.  She sighed as she approached.

“Ready?”

Sabine nodded, and they started back down the trail leading to the plains.

As they walked, a question occurred to her.  “Why didn’t you just take your TIE and leave?”

The Inquisitor shook his head.  “Tried that. There’s a couple Destroyers in orbit, and I would’ve had to give clearance codes.”

“...but you have them.”

“Inquisitors’ clearance codes get refreshed too often, and my master hasn’t given me clearance to get the new ones myself yet,” he shrugged.  “It was safer planetside. I’m still planning to get out of here, though.” He glanced at her over his shoulder. “You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “Where would you be going?”

The boy shrugged again.  “I don’t know. Anywhere, really.  I’ll probably stick to the Outer Rim or the Unknown Regions.  The chance someone would recognize me from the bounty holos in the Core or Inner Rim is too high, and the Mid Rim is just a mess at the moment.”

“So you don’t even know where you’d be going,” Sabine said flatly.

“You could say that.”

They walked in silence for a few minutes.

“So, an Inquisitor.  How’s that different from a Jedi?  I know you hunt them or something. They don’t tell us much,” she added.

He seemed a bit uncomfortable as he answered.  “The Jedi...they used the Light Side of the Force.  The Inquisitorius...we do the opposite.”

“Have you ever met a Jedi?  Besides that one from the other day.”

He shook his head.  “Nope. And if I did, I’d have to kill them.”

“Why?” she blurted out immediately.

He cast a glance back at her.  “You didn’t learn about the Jedi at the Academy?  How they betrayed the Republic?”

“Well, yeah, but wouldn’t you question them first?”

“Unless we believe they’re part of a bigger group, then no.  That rebel cell we’ve been tracking seems to be independent, so we can kill their Jedi without worrying about destroying information.”

The cold, detached way in which he said it made her feel the sudden need to suppress a shudder.

Chapter Text

“Think we can go back to Lothal now?”

“I’ve heard they’ve got some sort of blockade up,” Hera replied, glancing up at Kanan.  She was helping Chopper rewire something under the console. “Might be able to slip through it.”

“What about the static jammers?”
“That might work.  Chop, c’mere and tell me what you think of this.”  She pulled herself out from underneath the console, wiping her brow as the droid grumbled something and rolled over.  She sat up and wrapped her hands around her knees, glancing over at Kanan. “See what you can find out about the blockade, and I’ll think about it.”

He nodded.  “I’ll contact Vizago.”  The Jedi walked to the back of the ship as Chopper rolled back, beeping.

“It’s fried?  Again? But I just—”

The droid beeped again, louder, and Hera sighed before pulling herself back under the console.

 

“Why did you keep coming to watch me file reports?”

The Inquisitor slowed for half a step, but it was enough for Sabine to notice.

“My master has a few...unorthodox methods he uses to train me.  One of them is observing the other branches of the Empire. He wants me to see how the different branches work.  To see how they’re all...inferior to the Inquisitorius.”

She nodded slowly, wanting to ask about his training but realizing he didn’t want to say anything else about it.

“Why me in particular?”

“I wanted to see how a pilot—” she thought his voice cracked and his face reddened momentarily, but she wasn’t sure, “would adapt to office work.  My master says adaptation is important.”

“Your master said a lot of things.”

He nodded.  “He does.”

“Did you like him?”

His face went ashen for a moment and he stammered, trying to recover.  “I- I’m his apprentice. It isn’t about whether I like him or not.”

“But did you?”

He didn’t answer, his eyes dropping.  He tugged his left sleeve down over his hand again, and Sabine stopped pressing him about it.

 

Sabine and the Inquisitor stopped for the night near a cluster of the spire-like rocks that were scattered across the plains.  As Sabine started to work on a fire, the Inquisitor left in search of food.

He returned an hour later with a couple of Loth-rats that had identical lines of singed fur.  She raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment, only nodding to a spot across the fire.

They ate in silence, watching the flames.  When they were finished, Sabine spoke up.

“What’s your name?”

He looked up quickly.  Too quickly. “I...it doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah it does.  I’m not going to keep calling you ‘the Inquisitor.’”

He raised an eyebrow.  “You’ve done that so far.  You and everyone else.”

“It’s not exactly the quickest thing to shout in a fight.”

He fell silent, breaking eye contact and watching the fire again.  She almost thought he’d given up the topic completely when he said something she didn’t catch.

“What was that?”

He glanced up.  “Ezra. My name, it’s Ezra.”

“Ezra what?  Don’t you have a last name?”

He paused, sucking in a breath.

“Ezra Bridger.”

Chapter Text

He hadn’t spoken that name in years.

Hadn’t even thought it for years.

It barely seemed to fit him anymore, either.

He was the Apprentice.  The Inquisitor. Until he earned his rank, that was all he would be known as.

He had not been Ezra Bridger for eight years.

The girl’s eyes narrowed slightly at him across the fire.

“Bridger….I’ve heard that name before.”

Change the topic before she realizes who you are.

Who your parents are.

Were.

“Yours...it’s Sabine, right?  Sabine Wren?”

She nodded sharply.

Wren...he had heard that name, too, before he had met her.

He remembered her file and mentally sifted through it.

“Wren...that’s a Mandalorian clan.”

She nodded again, but slower.  She was wary now.

He was treading on thin ice.

“You went to the Academy on Mandalore.  Entered at 12. You graduated at 15 and went to Skystrike for a year before being assigned to the Relentless.  While at the Academy, you were one of the most successful students, and were particularly proficient in weapo—”

“I know my life story, Ezra,” she snapped, standing up quickly.  “I don’t need you to lay it bare for me.”

“Don’t call me that.  My name is not Ezra,” he replied.  He looked down. “Not anymore,” he added in a whisper.

“Fine.  I won’t call you Ezra, and you won’t talk about the Academy.  Clear?”

“What about Mandalore?  Krownest?”

If it was even possible for her to become angrier, she did so.  She pulled her blaster, marching around the fire to confront him as he stood up.

“I don’t care if you read my file.  I don’t care if you outrank me. I don’t even care if you’re an Inquisitor.  You don’t talk about my history. You don’t talk about my family. You don’t talk about me.  Out here, I could kill you and probably still get the bounty, and my place back in my squadron.  Are we clear?” She was standing barely an inch away from him, the blaster still pointed at the dirt.

The fact that she thought she could beat him in a fight was mildly amusing.

“You asked me about my history.  I’m only returning the favor,” he answered simply.

“Personally, I would not be offended if you didn’t,” Sabine snapped.

He didn’t reply, letting the silence stretch out.

Finally she huffed and walked back around the fire, sitting again but keeping her blaster in plain sight.

He would find out about her family, one way or another.

And why she was so determined to leave them behind.

 

They stopped at one of the small streams that crisscrossed the plains periodically to drink and rest.

Sabine watched Ezra—no, he was the Inquisitor, he had told her so himself that day on the comm channel—out of the corner of her eye as he attempted to wash off the burn on his hand.  He pushed his sleeve up, and she bit back a gasp as she saw the extent of the burn. It continued up past his elbow before petering out, and only seemed to get worse as it went. He carefully put his hand in the water before removing it almost as quickly, biting his lip as he shook it and let the sleeve fall back down.

And then he glanced at her and caught her watching.

“I- we have the medkit I got from the TIE, and- and if you need it for that burn…” she stammered.

He shook his head quickly and stood up.  “I’m fine.” He looked like he was about to leave but he paused, glancing back at her again.  “Use it for your leg. You need it more.”

“I don’t need it; I can still walk on it.  We should wait until we have something more serious, if you won’t use it on your burn.”

He shrugged.  “I’ve had it for a week or so now.  It...doesn’t hurt that much anymore.”

Sabine nodded slowly, though she didn’t believe him.  Whatever he wanted to tell himself.

She finished washing the gash on her leg before standing, picking up the medkit again.  “Let’s go.”

 

Once they were safely in atmo, Kanan let out a sigh of relief.

“Don’t relax yet.  There’s still a chance they could’ve caught onto our ploy and sent a patrol or even an entire squadron after us,” Hera called, glancing over at him.

Chopper beeped something in response and she looked at him in exasperation.

“Yes Chop, I know we’re too close to the Capital at the moment.  But we won’t land there, I promise.”

“Vizago got a new job for us yet?” Zeb asked from his spot in the doorway to the cockpit.

“If he does, I wish he’d share it.  Thanks to Kanan here, I doubt we’ll be getting a new job from him anytime soon.”

“It’s not my fault the Empire tracked me!  How was I supposed to know?!” the Jedi defended himself.

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe checking for patrols?

Chopper shrieked something and Hera whirled back to face the console.  “Chop says we’ve got incoming!” she yelled, checking the proximity sensors.  “Zeb, Kanan, I need you on the turrets! Chopper, get us out of here!”

 

She surveyed the plains thoroughly, making sure what she was looking for was even still there, before landing the ship.

She exited and pulled a blaster, walking to the abandoned TIE silently.

“Sabine!” she called loudly.

She paused, waiting for a moment.

No sound answered her.

She advanced, stopping at the side of the TIE to inspect a particularly deep set of footprints.  She glanced back up at the top of the TIE then back at the footprints.

Almost as if….

No.  Someone couldn’t have jumped from the top of the TIE and landed on their feet without breaking something.

She continued to scout the perimeter, pausing at a deep impression in the grass near the footprints.  Bending to inspect it, she walked back to the footprints to compare.

Someone else, then.

So they were working together.

She walked back to the impression and searched the dirt around it, pushing the grass out of the way before stopping with a smile.

A set of footprints led away from the impression.

And if she was right, whoever had made them was limping.

They—or at least one of them—were wounded.

She smiled to herself.

It would only be a matter of time now until she found her quarry.

Chapter Text

When the Ghost half-skidded half-landed on the plains of Lothal, Kanan could only guess at how many things they’d have to fix before taking off again.

He got up and headed to the back of the ship to run diagnostics before Hera could say a word.  As soon as they were finished with repairs, he was going straight back to Vizago and getting another job.

Though if he were being honest with himself, he would probably have to get a job before they would be able to finish repairs.

He sighed as the results of the diagnostic came up.  He turned to face the cockpit.

“Hera, we’ve got a problem!” he yelled.

“Yes, love?”

“Hyperdrive’s blown.  Even if we get her flying again, we’re sitting ducks.”

 

Night came and went on Lothal without much ceremony.

Sabine’s leg was gradually getting worse, but wasting the medkit on it when she could still walk would be a mistake they would probably regret later.

She noticed the Inquisitor’s sideways glances at her, but didn’t comment.  Admitting that he had been right about her leg would be admitting he had won.

And Sabine did not lose.

Halfway through the next day, she finally got up the courage to ask him what had been plaguing her for a while now.

“Why do you know Lothal so well?”

He glanced at her in surprise.  “I grew up here.” He looked away quickly.  “For a time.”

“When did you go offworld?”
“When the Inquisitorius found me.”

She didn’t press him after that, knowing how much he didn’t want to talk about his training.

They continued in silence before reaching a clearing.  Suddenly his eyes lit up.

“What is it?” Sabine asked, feeling for her blaster.  “Is someone—”

A small animal sprung out of the brush.  It growled, hissing and showing its fangs.

Sabine drew her blaster and had removed the safety when the boy pushed the barrel down gently.

She glared at him, opening her mouth to retort when he crouched, making a soft noise and extending his hand to the animal.  He closed his eyes, and after a moment the animal stopped hissing and padded over, purring contentedly as it rubbed its head underneath his hand.

He opened his eyes, and for the first time Sabine saw him smile.

Really smile.

She crouched too, cautiously putting her blaster away.  “What is it?”

“A Loth-cat,” he smiled, rubbing his thumb over the animal’s head.  “I used to chase them as a kid, trying to pet them. Never worked.”

“Are they domesticated?”

He shook his head, laughing softly.  “No. They’re feral.”

Sabine allowed herself a small smile and extended a hand, stroking the Loth-cat’s head briefly.  “Is everything here feral?” she joked.

He shrugged.  “Either feral, or under the Empire’s boot.  Some of us are a little bit of both,” he said quietly.  He stood, taking a step back from the feline and motioning for Sabine to do the same.  She stood warily and took a couple steps back.

The Loth-cat began to hiss again, growling before turning and darting back off into the brush.

After a moment they continued on their way.

 

Kanan was meditating in his room when the vision came to him.

A blue-haired boy, sitting on the ramp of the Ghost.

“The Empire wanted to destroy worlds.  And they did. They destroyed mine.”

A purple- and white-haired girl, holding a ‘saber he had only heard about in legends over his head as she sobbed.

“But I don’t want the best teacher, I want you.”

A fire-orange starbird arcing across a wall.

He blinked, coming out of the vision.  He glanced at his lightsaber, still in two parts as it lay in front of him.

He shook his head and stood, grabbing both parts of his ‘saber as he exited his cabin.

 

“What’s stopping me from running off and leaving you?”

He didn’t look at Sabine as he easily replied, “You’d be alone.  And you’re marked now.”

“No I’m—”

“They’ve seen you with me.  I wasn’t holding a blaster to your throat.  Conclusion? You and I are working together.”

She huffed in frustration, folding her arms.  “I went with you against m—”

He shoved her to the left without warning.

“What—”

A stun charge whizzed past, hitting the ground right where Sabine would have walked had the Inquisitor not pushed her down.  She turned and glanced back to see him already pulling his lightsaber hilt to his hand, igniting the blade and turning to face—

“Hello Sabine.  It’s been a long time.”

Chapter Text

He held the ‘saber up in a defensive position, watching the bounty hunter carefully for any indication of an attack.  The Force would warn him as well, but it was good to have a backup plan.

It had failed him before.

She wore an odd helmet that covered her face.  It didn’t make her more intimidating necessarily, but it did lend an odd quality to her voice.

“...Ketsu?”

He glanced back as Sabine stood up next to him, gaze flicking over the bounty hunter.  He turned to her.

“Do you know her?”

“We know each other,” the bounty hunter replied confidently, lowering her staff-blaster.  She removed the helmet, holding it on her hip. Her head was completely shaved except for a section in the middle, and red tattoos spiked across the shaved sections.

“Ketsu, why are you here?”

“I think you know the answer to that.”  The bounty hunter studied both of them before nodding to him.  “I’ll make a deal. Let me have him, and you can go free. For old time’s sake.”

He stiffened, sure Sabine would accept.  He could fight off one at a time, but he wasn’t sure about both.

“Ketsu, I know you.  That’s a lie,” Sabine said flatly, hand going to her blaster.  Ketsu shrugged, starting to raise her staff again.

“You’re injured.  If it comes to a fight, and your Inquisitor here tries to protect you, he won’t be able to.  I know your weaknesses.”

“He’s not my—”

“I’m not her—”

Ketsu raised an eyebrow, silencing them both.

“That’s my ultimatum.  Take it or leave it. Either way, I’m leaving with at least one of the bounties I came for.”

“The Empire isn’t fond of you either, Ketsu.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t throw my lot in with the number one person on their wanted list.”  She paused and looked at him. “If he even is a person.”

The comment stung but he didn’t react.  Instead he raised the ‘saber slightly.

“Touch either of us, and you’ll regret it,” he warned in a low tone.

“That’s the great thing about blasters.   I don’t have to.”

He dropped one hand from his ‘saber, feeling for Sabine’s hand without looking.

“Sabine, I know you can hold your own in a fight.  You don’t have to prove it to me. We were at the Academy together,” the bounty hunter continued.

He found her hand and grabbed hold of it tightly.

“What are you—”

She didn’t have time to finish her sentence before he was turning her, forcing her to run with him away from the bounty hunter.  He sensed every charge a half second before it hit the ground, nudging Sabine out of the way every time. Finally she untangled her fingers from his, pulling her own blaster and glancing back to fire a shot every few steps.

“Do you have any idea where we’re going?!” she yelled at him.

“Nope!”

She let out a scream of frustration and continued to run.

“Does your friend work with backup normally?”

“I don’t know!  I haven’t seen her in years!  She wanted to work for Black Sun when we were younger but I have no idea if she succeeded!”

He risked a glance back to see the bounty hunter running after them.  She stopped suddenly, staring at something beyond them, before turning and calmly walking back the way she had come.

He slowed to a stop.  “Sabine!”

“What?!”

She glanced back to see he had stopped running.  She stopped, looking back at Ketsu. Her face paled.

“Go go go go go! ” she screamed, running again.

“What is it?!  What’s wrong?!” he shouted, running after her.

“She’s either got backup or a ship!  Ketsu doesn’t give up that easily!”

He let loose a cry of frustration as they continued to run.

 

Kanan was helping Chopper fix one of the supports on the loading ramp that had gotten damaged during their last heist when he heard the screams.

He looked up, squinting until he caught sight of two people sprinting his way.  They were still too far to see any details.

“...Chop, get Hera and Zeb.  And tell Zeb to bring his bo-rifle,” he said slowly as he stood.

The droid warbled something sarcastic but rolled back up the loading ramp anyway.

Kanan walked down the ramp and started to approach the grass that encircled their clearing.  A couple of the spire-like rocks that littered the planet were nearby, just beyond the edge of the clearing.

He frowned to himself as he stopped, folding his arms as the figures came closer.

 

Sabine’s lungs burned, and her leg was killing her, but she knew Ketsu better than anyone and she did not want to risk the bounty hunter catching up with them.

“How much farther?!” she called ahead to the Inquisitor.

He glanced back at her over his shoulder as he ran to reply.  “As far as we can go! I’ve got a feeling there’s something up ahead!”

“A feeling!?  We’re basing our entire escape route on some feeling you have!?” she asked incredulously.

“Yep!”

She screamed in frustration and pushed herself to follow him.

He stopped suddenly, holding out the arm that wasn’t holding his lightsaber to stop her.  She ran into it, stumbling to a halt and breathing hard.

“What is it?” she panted.

He searched the skies.

“Get down!” he hissed suddenly, shoving her to the ground as he dropped too.  There was a hiss of energy as he sheathed his ‘saber.

“What?”

“Your friend’s up there,” he said softly, pointing at the sky.

Sabine concentrated, and after a moment she heard the faint hum of engines.

“Either her or somebody worse.”

Sabine took a shuddering sigh, closing her eyes and silently hoping that the tall grass would be enough to hide them from view.

 

“Kanan, what’s wrong?”

He pointed out at the plains as Hera, Zeb, and Chopper approached.  “There were people out there a minute ago.”

“I don’t see anybody out there,” Zeb commented.

“Well, they were there.  And then they suddenly...dropped out of sight.”

Hera grabbed his arm suddenly, pointing to the sky.  “Kanan, look. That’s a Lancer -class.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Zeb inquired, taking a step forward.

“It’s a pursuit craft.”

“Bounty hunters,” Kanan realized with a whisper.

“Everyone, get to the Ghost! ” Hera yelled, turning.

“No, wait, hold on.”

She stopped, looking back at Kanan as he studied the ship.

There was dead silence for a moment.

The ship opened fire on an empty patch of grass.

 

“When I say now, get up and run, ” he muttered.  “Got it?”

“Run where?

“East, where we were going before we stopped.”

Sabine nodded, getting into a crouch.  He followed suit.

The hum of the ship’s engines drew closer.

The Force gave him a nudge.

Now! ” he hissed, standing quickly and sprinting.  Sabine was barely out of the way before laser fire pelted the earth where they had just been laying.

The pair bolted out of the way, the ship turning to follow them.

They wouldn’t be able to outrun it.

But if he was right, then they wouldn’t have to.

They kept running, laser fire always hitting just behind them.

“There’s something up ahead!” Sabine yelled to him.

“I see it!”

“What is it?”

“We’re about to find out!”

They broke from the grass and stumbled to a halt.

Kriffing Jedi.

Chapter Text

“Other way other way!” he yelled, spinning on his heel and turning to run.  He stopped, spotting the ship again. He glanced back at the Jedi and the group surrounding him.

He and Sabine wouldn’t stand a chance against them.

But they wouldn’t stand a chance against the bounty hunter, either.

They were trapped.

“Well?!  Where are we going?!” Sabine yelled, glancing at him.  He swallowed and summoned his ‘saber to his hand.

“I guess we’re fighting, then,” he shrugged, igniting one of the blades.  He would only ignite the other if he had to.

“And this is why I never wanted to be assigned to a ground base!” he thought he caught Sabine mutter under her breath.

 

Kanan almost reached for his lightsaber when the girl in a tattered TIE pilot’s flight suit and the boy in black armor burst out of the grass.

Almost.

Instead he watched silently as the pair turned to run back into the grass before spotting the ship that had been pursuing them.

They panicked.

He allowed himself a small smile until the boy pulled out the weirdest hilt he had ever seen and ignited a lightsaber.

The Inquisitor he’d faced in the alley a few weeks back.

He glanced at the pilot, studying her again.  She also seemed familiar as she drew a blaster, raising it and moving into a defensive stance a few feet away from the boy.

Kanan noticed that she didn’t put her back directly to his.  And then it dawned on him that she must not trust him.

The ship landed.

The girl’s head whipped around as she looked at the ship, clear terror rising in her face before she set her jaw and raised the blaster.

The boy looked back over his shoulder at Kanan and the rest of the Ghost crew periodically, as if to make sure they were remaining where they had been before.

“Kanan?”  Hera’s soft voice had never been filled with such suppressed terror.

He wanted to comfort her, but he was just as lost.

“Kanan, you got a plan?”  Even Zeb sounded uncertain.

He opened his mouth to reply when the brush began to move.  The pilot and the Inquisitor stiffened, and he thought the Inquisitor said something to the girl but he couldn’t be sure.

The brush parted to reveal a helmeted bounty hunter.  They stopped a few feet away from the edge of the brush.

The pilot and the Inquisitor shifted.  The Inquisitor turned to face the bounty hunter.

“Hand over these two,” the bounty hunter called, “and I won’t mention to the Empire that I’ve found their Jedi.”

“We don’t know ‘em,” Zeb called back.  “We don’t care either way.”

The bounty hunter raised the staff and aimed it at the pilot.  “Good. That’ll make this easy then.”

 

Sabine’s mouth felt dry.

“Ketsu, you don’t have to do this,” she called.  “We were friends once. Sisters.  At the Academy—”

“At the Academy?  Sabine, do you even remember your years at the Academy?  You told them I was deserting.  You told them how I was deserting.  Because of you—”

Sabine pulled the trigger.

Ketsu dodged the bolt and charged forward, shooting rapidly.

The Inquisitor was in front of her, blocking every charge and in an instant his lightsaber went from one blade to two and now it was spinning, rotating quickly and wildly deflecting every charge Ketsu sent every way and now Ketsu was the one having to dodge and he was yelling, screaming at her—“Sabine run!”

It was aruetyc , she would be dar’manda, she would not be manda, she would have no ijaat left, she should not do it.

She listened to him and ran.

She didn’t look ahead, didn’t look where she was running, didn’t make a plan.

Just get out.

And she realized he wasn’t coming.

She had no idea when she had begun to care whether he lived or died, but she didn’t want Ketsu to be the one to make that choice for him.  No, if he died it would be by her hand, not some bounty hunter’s.

She barely glanced at the Jedi as she turned and ran back to the Inquisitor.

Chapter Text

If the Jedi decided he wanted to kill him, he would be nearly defenseless.

He continued to block the bounty hunter’s shots, but he knew she would get frustrated and try a different tactic soon.

It was a miracle she hadn’t gone after Sabine already.

One of her shots hit part of his ‘saber’s hilt.

The weapon stopped spinning, and one of the blades flickered briefly before dying out.  He glanced down at it before raising his remaining blade to block her next charge.

He was running out of luck, and if Sabine was going to get away, she was running out of time.

 

Kanan watched as the Inquisitor told the girl to run.  She did, her blaster in hand, but then stopped. She turned and ran back to him.

Kanan had to intervene.  He knew the Inquisitor would turn on him and his crew—no, his family —as soon as the bounty hunter was incapacitated.

And he would not let him hurt Hera.

He extended a hand, calling the Force and using it to hold the girl back.  A strangled cry came from her throat, and he saw the Inquisitor whip around to look at her, unrestrained terror in his eyes.

“Put the lightsaber away.  Now,” Kanan ordered.

The girl glared at him with daggers in her eyes.

The Inquisitor glanced from the girl to Kanan and back again, seeming to have forgotten the bounty hunter.

He sheathed the saber.

“Put it down,” the bounty hunter called, nodding to the girl, “or she gets it.”

“Ketsu, you aruetii!” the girl screamed.  He felt her twitching against his Force hold on her, but he didn’t loosen it.

The Inquisitor put the saber down.

“Now take a step away from it.”

He took a step back, glancing back at the pilot.

The bounty hunter looked briefly at Kanan.  “Thanks,” she said, reaching to get two pairs of binders.

The pilot was still shouting a mixture of obscenities in Basic and what sounded like Mando’a.

There was a light touch at his elbow.  He looked down to see Hera nodding at the pilot.
“She’s injured.”

“She’s Imperial.”

“Kanan, look at her.  She’s young, probably barely out of the Academy!  You know what they’ll do to her if she goes back.”

A firing squad.

He knew that all too well.

“She’s Imperial, ” he repeated, partly to reassure himself.

“She’s a kid.

He swallowed.

“You have to choose how to fight, Karan,” Hera said in a low voice.

Do you really want her death on your hands?

“Fine.”  He turned to the bounty hunter, who was fastening a pair of binders on the Inquisitor.  “I’ll make a deal,” he called to her. She glanced up.

“You can take the Inquisitor.   She, ” he gestured to the pilot, “goes free.”

The bounty hunter stared at him for a moment, then looked at the pilot.

“Fine,” she called, shrugging.  “He’s worth more anyway.”

He kept his hold on the girl until the bounty hunter had finished with the binders and started leading the Inquisitor back to her ship.  She stopped at the broken saber, glancing down at it before kicking it aside and continuing.

He let his hold on the pilot slip as the bounty hunter pushed the Inquisitor into the ship at blasterpoint.

Inquisitor! ” the girl screamed, stumbling forward before rushing after him and the bounty hunter.

Kanan watched impassively as the ship’s loading ramp closed.  The girl drew her blaster as she ran, aiming it at the fuel tank of the ship before seeming to think better at it and instead aiming at the windscreen.

He had to admire her perseverance, if nothing else.

He folded his arms and watched as she continued to curse the bounty hunter, firing fruitlessly at the windscreen as the ship lifted off and sped away.

Finally she stopped, staring silently as the ship left.

She whipped around without warning, suddenly remembering the Ghost crew.

She started running toward them, blaster raised.

“Uh, Kanan?  I got a bad feeling about this,” Zeb muttered from behind him.

“I’ll handle it,” Kanan answered confidently, glancing back at him.

The girl started shooting as soon as she was within range.  He deflected her shots to the side easily before motioning with his hand, grabbing her blaster with the Force and tossing it to the side.

She stared at it for a moment, stunned, before looking back at him.

“Let’s just talk this out,” he said slowly.

“You let her take him back to the Empire,” the pilot hissed.  “They’ll get information out of him and then kill him!”

“He’s an Inquisitor.  I was under the impression that no one liked them, even Imperials,” he countered, folding his arms again.

“He’s terrified of going back there,” she muttered.

“And you’re not?”

She fell silent and bit her lip, looking at the ground.

Kanan glanced around at his crew.  “Head back to the Ghost.  I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Are you sure?” Hera asked, raising an eyebrow as she looked at the pilot.

“I’ll be fine.”

She opened her mouth as if to speak but stopped, just giving the pilot a last glance as she turned around and headed back to the ship with Zeb and Chopper in tow.

“They’ll kill him,” the girl repeated, drawing his attention back to her.

“I’m well aware of that.”

“You’re a Jedi, right?”

He hesitated before answering.  “You could say that.” She probably already knew anyway, no use in lying.

“Jedi are supposed to protect people.  Not- not hand them over to bounty hunters.”

“Hey, I saved your life!  Why do you care what happens to him?  He’s just an Inquisitor.”

She took a step closer to him, furious now.  “Because if he breaks, he’ll spill my location, and I’ll be as good as dead, ” she spat.

Chapter Text

She was breathing heavily as she watched the Jedi, uncertain if he would try to kill her or not.  He had no way of knowing if she would report his location to the Empire. Sabine’s only reassurance that he might not kill her was the hope that he might have been able to infer by now that the Empire was hunting her just as much as it was hunting him now.

He raised an eyebrow.  “So you don’t care whether he lives or dies, as long as he doesn’t tell them about you.”

“That’s not it, I—”  She cut herself off after realizing that that was essentially what she had said.

She lowered her head, wondering why she was suddenly unable to think through what she was saying after first getting into the Inquisitor’s TIE.  But this man clearly hated him, so admitting she was his ally would not have helped matters much.

“Come with us.”

The offer was so unexpected Sabine’s head jolted up quickly.  “Why?”

“You could give the Empire information about us.  And I’m guessing you don’t wanna die.” He shrugged.  “I’m being nice.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “Where?”

“We stay around Lothal for the most part, but seeing as it’s either this or death, the ‘where’ aspect shouldn’t matter too much.”

Sabine briefly contemplated grabbing her blaster from where it had fallen and shooting the Jedi in the head, though she figured he wouldn’t take kindly to that.  He probably had better reflexes than her anyway.

But she couldn’t help the Inquisitor if she was dead.

“One condition.”

He raised an eyebrow.  “I don’t think you’re in the position to be making demands.”

“If- if we come across the Inquisitor again...we aren’t killing him.  He can come too.”  She would bring up rescuing him later.

Something flashed across the man’s expression but she couldn’t tell what it was.  “No. He’s a danger to us all.”

“He’s not—”

“I said no.  Are you coming or not?”

She would find a way to get him back.  Even if the Jedi was completely against it, she would find a way.

“Yes.”

He retrieved her blaster from where he had thrown it before starting back to the ship, glancing back at her periodically as if to check she wasn’t pulling a blaster on him.  Halfway there she stopped.

“Wait, I forgot something.”

“What could you have possibly forgotten out he—”

She limped over to where the Inquisitor’s broken lightsaber lay and picked it up, holding it delicately in case it randomly decided to implode.  She walked back to the Jedi, who watched her with narrowed eyes.

Sabine reached him and looked up, her gaze firm.

“Here, give me that.  I might give it back to you if you don’t kill anyone,” he muttered, grabbing for the broken lightsaber.  She let him take it, watching carefully as he clipped it to his belt. He glanced back at her, raising an eyebrow.  “Anything else?”

She shook her head.  “I’m ready.”

 

“Your breathing changed; I know you’re awake.”

He sat up slowly, glancing around the ship.  It was a decent size, and the cockpit was only a couple meters away.

He could overtake her if he got the chance.

The bounty hunter glanced back.  “Try anything, and I’ll send the Empire Sabine’s coordinates.”

He bit his lip, looking down at his binders.  He wouldn’t be able to break out of them if he tried; he was strong in the Force but not that strong.

And that would probably count as “trying anything” anyway.

He couldn’t risk the Empire going after Sabine.  He didn’t know why, only that she was important, and that he didn’t want them anywhere near her.

He tried to tell himself she was just a random pilot that he should’ve struck down when he still had the chance.

It didn’t work.

He sat in silence, wondering if, once he got back, they would take him back to Mustafar or execute him on the spot.  Each was equally likely at this point.

If they asked him about Sabine...he didn’t know how long he could hold out.  He’d been tortured before, of course, but never for information. Only as part of his training.

His ‘saber.

He was returning without his lightsaber.

They would kill him for that.  Of course they would.

His breathing hitched and he suddenly hated the weak sound of it.  He should be strong; he had known that this was where it would all end up as soon as he had first decided not to shoot the Jedi.

His master was right.

He was weak.

And he hated himself for it.

Chapter Text

Sabine entered the ship warily, eyeing the man ahead of her cautiously as he went to the loading ramp controls.  He closed the ramp, then nodded to the ladder across the cargo bay.

“Up there.  Don’t try anything.”

She glanced at him as she passed, staring up the ladder before starting to climb it.  She reached the top and glanced around. “Was that your whole crew out there?” she asked the Jedi after he climbed up.  He nodded.

“Kanan, how’d it go out there?”

Sabine reached for a blaster she didn’t have as she whirled to face the Lasat.  Her eyes narrowed, and his widened in surprise before narrowing as well.

“You’re bringin’ her with us?!”

“I would’ve had to kill her otherwise.  And a certain captain didn’t want me doing that,” the Jedi said, raising his voice a bit as the Twi’lek woman came down the hall.

“When I said not to kill her, I didn’t mean bring her aboard!”  The Twi’lek turned to Sabine, looking her over before sighing. “I guess there’s not much choice now, is there?”

Sabine turned back to the Jedi as he shook his head.  “Nope. Unless we want to dump her at some Imperial garrison.”

“I’m right here, you know,” Sabine said loudly.

“Yeah, an’ you’re also wearin’ a TIE pilot’s uniform,” the Lasat countered, folding his arms.  Sabine huffed.

There was a loud shriek and she jumped back as an astromech came charging into the room, rolling right up to her as it shrieked indignantly again.

“Relax, Chopper.  She’s with us. For now,” the Jedi added, eyeing her.

“I don’t even know your names,” Sabine argued, folding her arms.

“An’ you haven’t told us yours, either,” the Lasat replied.

“I’m Kanan.”  She turned to look at the Jedi.

“Do you have a last name?”

“If I did, do you honestly think I would tell you?”

She huffed again and looked away.

“Zeb,” the Lasat put in.

“That’s Chopper,” Kanan added, nodding to the droid.

Sabine looked over at the Twi’lek, raising an eyebrow.

The woman took a step closer to her.  “I’m Hera, and if you threaten my crew, my ship, or me, you’ll regret it.  And just because I didn’t want Kanan killing you and I’m not immediately kicking you off of the Ghost doesn’t mean I trust you.  Got it?”

She had thought this was the Jedi’s ship and crew, but clearly she’d been wrong.

Sabine nodded, and the woman took a step back, smiling faintly though it looked forced.  “Good. Now what’s your name?”

Her eyes flicked warily around the group.  “...Sabine,” she said slowly.

“Do you have a last name?” Kanan asked, raising an eyebrow.  She shrugged.

“If I did, would I tell you?”

He shrugged and took a step back as Hera stepped forward again.  “Chop, would you show Sabine the spare cabin?” The droid grumbled an affirmative answer and the Twi’lek offered an apologetic smile.  “We use that room for storage mostly, so it’ll be crowded. I’m sure you’ll be able to make do.”

With that, the crew dispersed, and the astromech beeped loudly to get Sabine’s attention.  “I’m coming,” she replied, following the droid down the hall to the crew quarters. He stopped in front of one of the doors, beeping again before trundling off.

Sabine keyed the door open and stepped in, glancing around at the crates and boxes that filled the space.

She keyed the door closed and set to work.

 

He felt the soft thud of the ship making contact with the ground again.  Opening his eyes, he saw the bounty hunter stand and approach him.

“C’mon, let’s go,” she muttered.  He stood, feeling a minor rush of panic at the thought of facing his master.  He pushed it away, focusing instead on exiting the ship in front of the bounty hunter’s blaster-staff.

She had kept her helmet on for the duration of the trip and kept it on as they exited, approaching two squads of stormtroopers.

Glancing to the side, he saw Agent Kallus standing next to his master.

The glare the ISB agent gave him was nothing compared to the look his master gave him.

The bounty hunter nudged him forward and he stumbled, stopping a foot or so away from the ‘troopers.

“Payment,” she called, “then you can have your Inquisitor.”

“Of course,” the ISB agent replied, motioning to a couple of the ‘troopers.  They brought a small box over to the bounty hunter. He glanced back in time to see her open it before nodding, closing it.  She pushed him forward, stepping back and heading back to her ship.

The panic he had felt earlier came surging at full force again and it took all his self-restraint not to try and run.

Not that it would help.

Kallus glanced at his master.  The latter nodded. “I can take him from here, Agent; your services are no longer required.”  The ISB agent nodded.

“Should I have the ‘troopers remain here, Inquisitor?”

“No.  I can...handle my own apprentice.”

Kallus nodded to the stormtroopers and they dispersed.  He followed them.

He returned his attention to his master as the latter stepped forward.

“Where’s your lightsaber, boy?”

“The bounty hunter shot it while I was attempting to fight her off, Master.  It broke; I- I didn’t bring it.”

He lowered his gaze as the older Inquisitor surveyed him before gesturing to the garrison.

“I believe you need to be reminded of everything the Inquisitorius has done for you, boy.  Come.”

He walked forward woodenly, staring at the ground.

Sabine would be safe.

That was all that mattered.

 

His master shoved him to his knees with the Force as soon as they entered the small room.  He grunted softly, continuing to look down.

“Mira and Ephraim Bridger.”

Don’t respond.

“Do you remember what happened to them, boy?”

Don’t let him get a reaction out of you.

The older Inquisitor didn’t wait for a response.  “They were killed. And who killed them?”

Don’t give him what he wants.

“Answer me, Apprentice.”

“I did,” he answered tonelessly, still staring at the floor.

“And who abandoned you?”

Don’t answer him.

“Your parents did, boy.  And who prevented you from being imprisoned with them once you were caught?”

Don’t reply.

Answer me.

He still didn’t respond and suddenly his chin was forced up with an invisible hand, forcing him to meet his master’s gaze.

Answer.  Me.

“...the Inquisitorius.  Yo- you did,” he replied brokenly.  The hold on his chin released and his gaze dropped again.

“And what do you deserve when you forget that?”

“Punishment,” he whispered.

Chapter Text

The door to Sabine’s cabin slid open and she looked up to see Hera.  The Twi’lek woman’s gaze roved around the room and she nodded in approval.

“You’ve been busy,” she commented.

“Could you knock before entering?”

She shrugged.  “Until you earn our trust and a real place in this crew, no.  The boys don’t have access to your room, only Chop and I do.  I won’t violate your privacy more than I have to.”

Sabine sighed, pushing herself off of the crate she’d been sitting on.  “Where do you want all this stuff, anyway?”

“Cargo bay.  Once we’ve got our hyperdrive back online we’ll deliver it.”

Sabine nodded and started pushing one of the stacks of crates toward the door.  Hera stepped out of the way to let her through.

The woman soon followed with a set of crates herself, directing Sabine as to where to put them.

As they walked back to Sabine’s room, Hera glanced over at her.  “So. Your uniform. You’re a pilot?”

“...was.”

“What happened?  And how did a TIE pilot end up with an Inquisitor anyway?”

Sabine sighed.  “It’s a long story.”

Hera waited until the girl had begun to push the next set of crates out before following.  “I’ve got time.”

Sabine bit her lip.   If you want your blaster back, you’ll have to give a little, too.  “He went...missing a little more than a week ago.  My squadron leader and I were out on patrol, and...the Inquisitor, we ran into him and he shot my fighter down.”

Hera cast her a look that might’ve been something akin to sympathy.

Sabine didn’t like it.

“And?”

She took a deep breath.  “My squadron leader went back to the garrison.  The Inquisitor landed, but before he could kill me the rest of my squadron arrived.  He took me for...insurance, I think.”

Hera raised an eyebrow but didn’t interrupt.

“We went east, toward some tunnels he knew about.  He said they’d take us north, but we decided to stay here and risk our chances getting a ride in Capital City.  We’ve just been wandering, until Ketsu caught up with us.” She made a face.

They reached the cargo bay and Hera placed a hand on one of Sabine’s crates before she could put it away.  Sabine looked up at her.

“Why would you stay with someone like that?” she asked in a low tone.  “He could’ve hurt you, or—“

Sabine shook her head quickly.  “There is no ‘or’. And he didn’t hurt me, not after I crashed.  We helped each other after we landed.”

Hera gestured to the large tear on the knee of Sabine’s flight suit, where dried blood from the gash was still showing.  “And that?”

“That was from when I was getting out of my TIE in the crash.  Not him, not directly.”

“He’s an Inquisitor, Sabine.  Do you even know what that entails?”

“Of course I do!” Sabine shot back.  “And I’ve only seen him acting that way when he’s trying to defend himself.”   Or me.

“He uses the Dark Side of the Force; I don’t know the details, ask Kanan.  But the Inquisitorius, Sabine—do you know what it does?”

“Of course I do.”  Even still, a small seed of doubt had been planted and was still nagging at the back of her mind.

“They hunt down children, Sabine.  And then they take them, and they train them to use the Force.  And if they resist, they kill them.   Children.

Sabine thought of that happening to the Inquisitor and shuddered.

No wonder he was so desperate to leave.

She didn’t reply and after a moment Hera finally broke eye contact and began to push the crates again.  They made several more trips back to Sabine’s room in stifling silence before finishing.

Hera left Sabine alone again.

She was perfectly fine with that.

 

A knock on her door came a few hours later.  Sabine stood and opened it to reveal Kanan. The Jedi wasn’t smirking for once and instead nodded to the hall.  “C’mon, I wanna talk to you about something.”

Sabine followed warily, shutting the door behind her as he led her to the common area.  They sat on opposite ends of the dejarik table.

“What?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“The Inquisitor.”   Not this again.

“Yeah, Hera told me about him already.”

Kanan shook his head, and she noticed something almost like a shadow cross his face as he leaned across the table to her.

“She told you they kill the kids or make them join, right?”

She nodded slowly.  “Yeah….”

“That’s not all.  When they’re training those kids, they take everything that’s unique to them and strip it away.  Everything that makes them—well, them —they take that away from them.  Your Inquisitor, did he ever give you a name?”

“Yes, actually.”  Kanan‘s eyebrows shot up in surprise.  “He just asked me not to use it. So I didn’t.”

“What was it?” the Jedi asked.

“He asked me not to use it, so I won’t.  Not to refer to him, not to give it to other people.  It was his choice to give it to me—I’m not going to invalidate that by giving it to someone else without his consent.”

“Alright then, tell me this: did he want to remain an Inquisitor?  Did he seem like he wanted to stay with the Inquisitorius? Did he seem happy?

She didn’t have to think about her answer to know it was right.  “No.”

“Then by telling me his name, we can help get him out of there, help him get a shred of his humanity back, yeah?”

He wouldn’t want her to do this.

But if it saves him, wouldn’t he want her to do anything?

“Ezra Bridger.”

Kanan nodded, smiling slightly in thanks before his brow furrowed.  Sabine stood to leave but he grabbed her wrist. She twisted out of his grip out of habit, looking up at him.

“What is it?”

“Did you say Bridger?”

 

He forced himself to ignore the limp as he followed his master, head bowed.

He forced himself to ignore the stares of the troopers and officers they passed, but he was already an adept at that.

He forced himself to ignore the nagging in the back of his mind that told him he wouldn’t survive Mustafar again, though he knew it was right.

He forced himself to ignore the thought of Sabine as he boarded the shuttle, sitting with his scarred hands in binders in front of him.

He forced himself to ignore the deepening fear that was suddenly pervading him, crashing over him like a tidal wave.

When he died, he wouldn’t be fearful.

Fear was for the weak.

And Ezra Bridger was not weak.

Chapter Text

“I did.  Why?”

“I knew the Bridgers—well, Hera knew them.  I knew of them; never met them.  They...they spoke out against the Empire.”  The Jedi pauses, running a hand over his face before continuing.  “About eight years ago, they got found out. Someone told on ‘em. Anyway, the Empire, uh, they took ‘em.  They were imprisoned who knows where. They, um, they had a son, too.”

“What happened to him?” Sabine asked, curious.

“There wasn’t any sign of him for a couple years.  Then out of nowhere he showed up long enough to get listed in their prisoner records, but with no medical file.  Then he just...disappeared again.”

She bit her lip as Kanan fell silent.  “Did you know his name?”

He met her eyes again.  “Ezra. If your Inquisitor wasn’t lying, then...then this changes everything.”

Sabine raised an eyebrow.  “So does this mean we’re going after him now?”

“I don’t know.  We’ll have to ask Hera.  I had no idea the kid was Force-sensitive, otherwise I might’ve tried to convince Hera to try a bit harder to find him.”

“So just because you thought he wasn’t Force-sensitive you didn’t bother trying harder to find him?  How old was he then? Eight? Nine?” she questioned hotly. “I may support the Empire, but only to a certain extent.  I’ve seen Imperial prisons. They’re no place for children.”

Kanan sighed, placing his head in his hands.  “Look. You’re used to a government that can expend whatever resources it needs to to get done what needs to get done.  We’re rebels. We’ve got a limited amount of resources, mostly only those we can steal or scrounge up a bit of credits for.  We can’t afford to waste time and resources on people who can’t help us back. If we had known he was a Force-sensitive, then—“

“No,” Sabine cut him off, shaking her head.  “He was a child.  And you only thought of him as an asset?  And you still think of him as an asset!  I can’t believe this. You claim you’re different, but you’re just the same.”

She shook her head again, turning and walking away before Kanan could call her back.

 

“Kid, you know any mechanics?”

Sabine was halfway to the door at the sound of the knock but stopped at Kanan's voice.

“Maybe,” she called.  “Why?”

“We need help with the hyperdrive.”

“And why would I help with that?”

“Because if your Inquisitor breaks, he’ll tell them where we are, and you’ll get sent to an Imperial prison with the rest of us if you aren’t executed.”

She sighed and keyed the door open, folding her arms.  “Fine. Where is it?”

He led her to the hyperdrive, standing back with arms folded as she knelt by it.

“Where’s your droid?”

“Chopper?” Kanan called.  The astromech beeped as he rolled into the room, shrieking something at Sabine.  “Relax Chop, she’s here to help you.”

The droid grumbled but rolled over.  Sabine gestured to one of the sockets.

“The alignment looks off.  Think you can fix it?”

The droid grumbled an affirmative and connected with the socket, turning it several times before beeping again.

Sabine glanced back at Kanan.  “He says it needs a hydrospanner.  And some parts.”

“I’ll go get Hera,” the Jedi sighed, turning and leaving the small room.  Sabine glanced at Chopper.

“So what’s your story?”

 

“So I looked up our pilot in the Imperial databases,” Hera started.

Kanan leaned against the copilot’s chair, watching out the windscreen as the Ghost sped over the plains.  “Yeah? What’d you find?”

“She’s got a bounty on her head, all right.  Currently it’s for her alive, but that could change.”

“You find out who she is—I mean really is?”

Hera nodded.  “Sabine Wren, Flight Lieutenant of Dagger Squadron.  She was transferred to the Lothal Imperial Complex after being assigned to the Star Destroyer Relentless.  Went to the Imperial Academy on Mandalore at 12 and graduated about three years later.”

“So she’s Mandalorian?” Kanan questioned, raising an eyebrow.  “Thought they were under occupation.”

Hera nodded again.  “They are. Though it looks like some of the clans have decided to support the Empire despite that.”

His brow furrowed.  “The Mandalorians are a proud people.  Never thought they’d bend the knee to such an oppressive government as the Empire.”

“Well some of us would’ve preferred that instead of getting wiped out.”

Kanan turned as the cockpit door opened, revealing an irritated Sabine.

“Some of us care more about the survival of our families than our own personal honor,” she continued, folding her arms.

“So you became a pawn of the Empire.”  Kanan crosses his arms in front of his chest.

“I’m not a pawn.  I was on my way to a promotion before all this happened!” Sabine cried, gesturing to the ship in general.

“I wouldn’t call getting reassigned from a Destroyer to a ground base ‘on the way to a promotion,’” Kanan frowned.

Sabine huffed, shooting a glare at both adults as she exited the cockpit.

“She’s pleasant,” Kanan muttered.

Chapter Text

Sabine sat on the couch in the common room, half-listening to the HoloNet broadcasts while she tinkered with part of the hyperdrive in an attempt to fix it.  Chopper sat a few feet away, doing...she had no idea what he was doing, only that it involved beeping to himself in the corner.

Kanan, Hera, and Zeb walked in.

“We’re going to find a new modulator and some other supplies.  Sabine, can you have that fixed by the time we get back?” Kanan asked.  Chopper rolled over.

She nodded.  “Probably.”

“Good.  Chop, keep an eye on her, will you?”

The droid looked up and warbled an affirmative answer, saluting with one of his prongs before rolling back to his corner.

“Okay.  Let’s go,” the Jedi said, nodding to Hera and Zeb.

The trio left, and Sabine glanced at the droid.

“Please tell me you can’t stand them either,” she groaned.

 

Sabine continued to scrub at one of the bolts from the box.  She’d finished with the hyperdrive a few minutes ago and, in the process, had realized the crew hadn’t needed to get a new modulator after all.

Not that she was planning on comming them to tell them that.

The news was still on, and she didn’t feel like putting in the effort to get up and turn it off.  Chopper had long since wandered off, warbling something about charging his power cells. She liked the astromech more than the other members of the crew, even if she wouldn’t tell him that.  No use inflating his ego more than his logic circuits would allow.

She finished scrubbing the bolt off and started to replace it in the motivator, focusing on making sure it didn’t come unscrewed as she was doing so.

....fugitive of Clan Wren has been found after a three year long manhunt….

Sabine’s head jolted up.  She stood quickly, ignoring the motivator as it slipped off her lap and fell to the floor as she stumbled over to the dejarik table.  She fumbled with the holoprojector on the HoloNet broadcaster for a moment before getting the image to display. She gasped, hand flying to her mouth as she stumbled back.

A hologram of her father was staring stoically into the camera as four Supercommandos flanked him, his wrists in binders behind his back.  The audio continued to play, though she barely heard it as she watched them shove her father forward.

Alrich Wren, the patriarch of the now-dissolved Clan Wren, was found in a transport terminal attempting to flee Chandrila two rotations ago.  Thanks to the help of loyal citizens to the Empire, he was apprehended swiftly after his appearance was reported. He is now awaiting trial in Sundari, the capital of Mandalore, as the rest of his family, the traitorous Clan Wren….

Her blood pounded in her ears.

Sundari.

The capital.

Her father.

Trial.

There would be no trial, she knew.  The only clans that would have evenly remotely supported the Wrens in a rescue attempt had not dared to stand against the Empire after seeing the results of Clan Wren’s decision to do so.

House Viszla would mourn, but only briefly; as the broadcaster had stated, Clan Wren was now considered dissolved.

No matter how many people had supported Alrich Wren, no one would come for him.

Not even the remnants of their own family.

And it was all her fault.

She shut the holoprojector, then the broadcaster, off.  Sabine stood, shaking, for a moment before whirling and running into her room.  Even with only Chopper onboard, she still didn’t feel like staying out there with the reminder that her father was going to die, and it would be all her fault that he was even there in the first place and that whatever was left of her family couldn’t risk mounting a rescue attempt and that her family was on the run and broken and dying and dead, so dead, and—

Her door slid open with a soft whoosh and Chopper rolled in, beeping quietly.

She looked up, realizing she had been crying.  She rubbed her face with her sleeve, sniffing.

Chopper beeped inquisitively, rolling in a few more feet before stopping.

“I’m fine, Chop, thanks,” she mumbled.  “I just—” Sabine broke down again.

The astromech waited patiently until she stopped crying, then beeped softly again.

“My father, they- they had him on the news.  He’s- he’s awaiting trial, and they’re going to exec- execute him, and- and it’s all my fault.”  She started crying again, thankful for the normally boisterous droid’s silence until she composed herself.  She sniffed and looked down at him from the bunk.

He beeped a question and she shook her head.  “It wasn’t because- because of me—well it, it was, but not because of just now, though that’s probably why they’re going to execute him—to try and get me to mount a rescue.  But I’m not- I’m not the same reckless girl who caused this mess. I know it’s risky, and I know there’s no chance of getting him.

“But I’m still going to try.”

Chopper beeped in shock, rolling back.

“I know, Chop.  but I- I have to, he’s aliit.  I’m the one who got him, who got my whole family into this mess in the first place, so I’m going to fix it.  I have to fix it,” her voice trailed off, breaking again as she tried not to cry.

The astromech warbled a question.
“I know they won’t let me go, Chopper.  Trust me, I’m- I’m well aware of that. But...would you?”

She had to hope the droid would.

Sabine really didn’t want to disable him, even if only temporarily.

He was silent for a few minutes, no doubt running her ridiculous proposal through his logic circuits.

When he finally beeped, she was surprised.

“You want to come with me?” she asked hoarsely.  Chopper warbled happily and rocked side to side.

“I- Chop, I don’t want you getting in trouble with Hera—oh no, Hera, no she’d kill me if I brought you with me.”

Chopper grumbled sarcastically as she raised an eyebrow.

“I mean….

“If you really want to….”

 

She and Chopper had the repaired hyperdrive hooked up to the Phantom within the hour.

Sabine had permanently borrowed some of Hera’s clothes; she would stand out even more if she went in her TIE uniform.  She also stole one of the spare medkits and finally set to work bandaging her knee as Chopper started the support ship up.

She had left a note on the dejarik table addressed to Hera, apologizing for borrowing Chopper, some clothes, one of the medkits, some last-minute hair dye packets she’d managed to find in a spare drawer in the ‘fresher, the hyperdrive, and the Phantom, but promising she’d be back soon if she managed to make it out alive.

Of course, she didn’t mention the possibility she wouldn’t come back, or where she was even going.

Chopper helped her disable the autopilot’s return-to- Ghost mechanism before they left.  He also managed to have some spare clearance codes for the blockade—she didn’t know how and wasn’t sure she wanted to—before inputting hyperspace coordinates.

As soon as they were clear of the blockade, Sabine pushed the lever that threw them into hyperspace.

First, her father.

Next, Ezra.

Chapter Text

Tristan Wren had not seen his sister for over five years.

Which was surprising, when one considered that she was the reason nearly his entire family was dead and the remainder was currently on the run from the Empire.

No, Tristan Wren had not seen his sister for over five years, but that didn’t mean that he hadn’t thought about her every day.

He alternated between cursing her existence and praying to whatever gods would listen to the heir of a broken clan that she would return.

He had not seen his mother in two years.  His father—it had been over a year since he’d seen his father.

Until now.

He stared at the holovid as the broadcaster droned on about how Clan Wren were traitors and how they would be brought to justice.

Useless, empty promises.

Until now.

He pulled his cloak tighter around him, taking a drink from the bottle in front of him as he watched his father being led away in silence.  The holovid cut off and a hologram replaced it.

He slammed the bottle down harder than he’d intended, drawing a few glances from the other patrons.

His sister’s unsmiling face looked out at him from the holoprojector.  The photo from her file most likely; it looked about a year or two old.

It had been after she’d left the Academy on Mandalore, after she’d graduated from Skystrike.

He’d never thought to look her up; he hadn’t wanted to incite the painful memories it brought all over again.  Hadn’t wanted to remember.  Hadn’t wanted to be reminded of the screams as their stronghold burned down, as that- that abomination his sister had created was turned against them—

Hold on.

This was interesting.

He leaned forward as a number flashed beneath her image.

...reward of 20,000 credits is being offered for information leading to the capture of Imperial deserter and fugitive Sabine Wren.  She is believed to have been in collaboration with a former Inquisitor— ” another image, this one a grainy still from surveillance footage of a boy with what looked like a lightsaber— those don’t exist anymore; the jetii are dead and we did our part in that proudly —in an alley—“ and though he has been captured, her whereabouts are still unknown.  Please report anything you see or hear about Sabine Wren or any of the members of the now-dissolved Clan Wren to your local authorities.  Remember, your Empire is counting on you….

He let the broadcaster’s voice fade out as he stood, placing a credit bar on the counter.  He adjusted his cloak again, making sure it covered his armor completely as he walked out of the bar.

His mother would have just seen the broadcast as well, and if she hadn’t, she would surely hear about it soon.

They would have to be more careful.

 

The Phantom leapt out of hyperspace with a bang.

Sabine narrowed her eyes as she stared through the viewport.  She guided the small craft toward the surface of Krownest, hoping no comms would come.

Chopper was the only one to comm her.  He beeped curiously.

“Yeah, I know it’s not Mandalore.  It’s where I grew up. We have to pick up something here first, then we’ll head to Sundari.”

As they neared the atmosphere, the ship’s comm crackled and she groaned inwardly.

“Meg cuyir ibic?”

She hurriedly remembered the name she’d given herself.  “ Ni Ria Tala, saya o’ir.

“Ke parer.”

There was silence as she reopened her comm channel with Chopper.  “Chop, as soon as we’re in atmo, get us to these coordinates as fast as you can.”  She transmitted the coordinates and waited for the droid’s affirmative beep before sighing in relief.

Ria Tala?

Elek?

“Gar ganar cuyir duumyc o’ir.”  She relaxed slightly as whoever had hailed her gave her permission to land.  A nagging feeling at the back of her mind told her to remain wary.

“Chop better hurry with those coordinates,” she muttered under her breath.

 

He grunted as he was roughly pulled to his feet.

“Go on, boy.  You’ll have plenty of time for rest once you’re in a cell,” his master snarled as he shoved him forward.  He stumbled, wincing as his injured leg took the brunt of his weight.

Numbly he exited the shuttle and stopped as troopers double checked his restraints to make sure he hadn’t somehow managed to loosen them.  Confirming they were untouched, they took him from his master and led him toward the detention block.

They reached his cell and opened it, shoving him down the stairs before shutting the door and leaving him in silence.

He started mentally counting how long he had until the Destroyer would reach Mustafar.

Chapter Text

The ship landed peacefully and without incident on the snow, and that made Sabine nervous.

Where was the person who had permitted her to land?  Of course, she didn’t expect anyone from her family to be here, not after what she had been told and what she had seen on the HoloNet….But she did expect...well, she didn’t know exactly what she had expected.  Guards, or something.

She opened the loading ramp and commed Chop.  “Let’s go; I don’t know how long we’ll have here before we’ll have overstayed our welcome.”

The droid beeped and rose into the air, rocket thrusters firing up below him.

Sabine waited for him to thump softly into the snow, then turned and walked away.  She pulled Hera’s coat tighter, buttoning it up as she trudged through the snow.

After a few steps Chopper grumbled, causing her to risk a glance back.  “What is it?”

Snow was piled in front of the droid’s wheels as he explained that he would have to fire his thrusters to move any further.  She sighed and nodded back at the ship.

“Fine.  Keep the ship on standby, in case I need a quick exit.”

The droid chirped affirmatively, firing his thrusters briefly as he flew back to his spot on the Phantom ’s exterior.  Smiling faintly to herself, she turned and continued.

When she broke from the line of trees, the sight confronting her almost made her collapse.

 

...former Inquisitor, though he has been captured, and her whereabouts are still unknown.  Please report anything you see or hear about Sabine Wren or any of the now-dissolved Clan Wren to your local authorities.  Remember, your Empire is counting on you….

Hera glanced at Kanan, raising an eyebrow.  “She’s a bigger fugitive than I thought, then.”

The Jedi nodded absent-mindedly.

“Ah karabast,” Zeb muttered.  Hera turned to him, a questioning expression on her face as he gestured at the broadcast.  “The kid’s probably seen it by now; I left the HoloNet runnin’ ‘cause she didn’t object to me turnin’ it on.”

“And that’s important because…?”
Kanan looked at Zeb, brow furrowed as realization slowly dawned on him.  “...Because she’ll try and leave! We’ve gotta get back before—”

“—before she disables Chopper and takes the Ghost! ” Hera finished in a rush.  The group stood quickly, Kanan barely remembering to leave a credit bar on the table as they rushed outside.

 

Kanan gunned his speeder, pushing it as fast as it would go as the trio raced back to the Ghost.  He saw Hera following him out of the corner of his eye, and Zeb not far behind.  He had no doubt that the three of them could take Sabine if it came to that.

They just needed to make it back in time….

He was the first one to reach the Ghost.  Slowing his speeder to a stop, he jumped off, sighing in relief at the fact that it wasn’t yet gone.

But that didn’t mean she hadn’t started preparations for her imminent departure.

He slammed the controls to open the ship and waited anxiously for the ramp to open.  As soon as it did so, he sprinted up it, climbing the ladder as swift as possible and skidding into the common room.  The lights had turned on automatically at the motion, but it was empty.

Silent.

“Sabine?  Chopper?” he called anxiously.

Hera was up the ladder next.  She already had a blaster in hand, and Kanan noticed thankfully that it was set to stun.

“Chopper?” she called, glancing around.

The holoprojector was off, and there was a datapad open with a note on the dejarik table.

As Zeb climbed the ladder to join them, Hera picked it up and read through it, brow furrowing.

Kriff, ” she muttered under her breath.  “Kriffing Mando.”

Kanan had never heard her this angry, and as he stepped closer to look over her shoulder he could see why.

Sabine had left.

And she had taken Chopper and the Phantom, along with their now-repaired hyperdrive, with her.

They had no way of following.

 

Tristan Wren stepped into the bar quietly, keeping his head down as he approached the table in the corner.  He slid into a seat across from his contact.

“Drink?”

The Mandalorian shook his head, though he was tempted.  He knew better than to accept drinks from outsiders, especially when he had a bounty on his head.

The Duros shrugged and poured himself a cup from the bottle, setting it between them.  He took a sip before leaning forward.

“I understand you’d like to get offworld.”

Tristan nodded hesitantly.

“That’ll be expensive, seeing as there’s currently some very high bounties out for someone who looks a lot like you.  And being offered by both the Empire and Clan Kryze—now what’d you do to get yourself into that much trouble?”

He shook his head.  “None of your business,” he said softly.  “Just tell me the price.”

“Oh, say, thirty thousand credits?  That should more than compensate me for a missed bounty.”

“I could steal a ship for less trouble,” the Mandalorian growled quietly.  “Eight should be enough. There’s plenty offering cheaper trips offworld around here.”

“But you wouldn’t have come to me unless you’d heard of my...reputation.”

Tristan glowered silently before lowering his eyes.  “Ten.”

“Don’t sell me short, kid.  Twenty-five, at least.”

He couldn’t pay that much.

But the Duros didn’t know that.

He looked up.  “Fifteen?”

The Duros barked out a laugh, shaking his head.  “I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong smuggler, kid.  Go find someone else; stop wastin’ my time.” He made to leave.

“Wait—twenty!  I- I can work it off, I just need to make a stop.  Soon,” he added quickly.

The smuggler’s mouth twisted into a frown and he shook his head.  “Sorry, kid. I don’t do stops before the passage fee’s paid off.  Now, tell me then,” his hand reached below the table and Tristan tensed, sure he was reaching for a blaster, but instead he pulled out a commlink, “it was Tristan Wren, wasn’t it?”

Chapter Text

Her stronghold.

Her family’s stronghold.

For generations, Castle Wren had held strong, protected its inhabitants from attacks, held its ground firmly without failing.

But now….

She stumbled forward through the snow, forcing back tears that threatened as she crossed the frozen lake.  Shattered glass covered the ground, and she stepped carefully around it as she headed to one of the back entrances she and Tristan had used as kids.

Tristan….

She hadn’t thought about him in so long, and she felt more than a twinge of guilt for it.

She stepped carefully over the broken glass, glancing around cautiously as she moved into the building.  If whoever had done this hadn’t ransacked the armory, she should be in and out quickly; the armory was close to the entrance she had used.

Sabine noticed nothing as she continued through the hall, but her senses told her to be on edge.

She rounded the corner.

And that was when she saw the corpses.

 

“Vizago said he can get us a hyperdrive.”

Hera glanced over at Kanan, raising an eyebrow.  “Guessing it’s expensive.”

“Yeah, it is.”

She sighed.  “Do I want to know how much?”

“Probably not.  It’s a couple thousand.”

She sighed and shook her head, looking down.

“Hera, don’t worry.  We’ll find a way off this planet, yeah?  We’ll get the Phantom and Chopper back.”

Hera glanced up at him.  “If I ever see that kriffing Mando again—“

“Trust me, Hera.  We’ll find her.”

 

They were old.

Sabine had no idea how old, nor did she want to.

Her knees buckled and she dry heaved on the floor a few meters away, shakily standing when she could regain control of herself again.  She looked away from the corpses.

At least they hadn’t known the pain of her weapon.

Sabine started walking, skirting carefully around the bodies as she fought back the urge to vomit again.  She rounded another corner and spotted the door to the armory.

This better still be stocked.

She input the emergency override code; her family had probably deactivated her personal code years ago.  For a tense moment the controls were red.

They blinked green, and she sighed in relief as the blast doors slid open.

She stepped inside.

 

Chopper normally was the last person—well, droid in his case, he supposed—who would go against direct orders from Hera.  However, he also had, as Kanan had once put it, “half-functioning logic circuits.”

At the moment, they were borderline functioning.

Half of his circuits told him to take the Phantom and fly back to Lothal without Sabine.  He had already disobeyed Hera’s direct orders; by doing this he could make up for that, at least a little bit.  However, the other half told him to stay here, on—he double checked the coordinates—Krownest, with Sabine, a known fugitive and former TIE fighter pilot that Hera and Kanan had explicitly ordered him to watch.

He reasoned that, technically, he was still watching her.  In fact, he was escorting her here.

He had a feeling that Hera wouldn’t accept that for an answer, but he also knew that if anyone got in trouble on their return, it would be Sabine.

Running all this through his logic circuits took time, and most of his concentration.

Which was why he didn’t notice when three Kom’rk-class fighters entered the vicinity, on a trajectory for the Wren family stronghold.

 

Sabine re-emerged from the armory, a large duffel in one hand and a blaster in the other.  She hurried across the hall to the ‘fresher, locking the door out of habit as she set the duffel down.

She pulled out the hair dyes she’d stolen from the Ghost and arranged it on the counter, frowning when she realized what colors they were.  She hadn’t checked when she’d taken them; she’d simply grabbed them and ran.

There were only three colors: an auburn that looked like it had been in the packet five too many years, an indigo that actually looked like it might work, and an orange that was, frankly, kind of pretty.

She didn’t want to risk the auburn.  Combining two colors together...if she was careful enough….That would definitely change her enough from the holos.

She started dyeing it, and while she was waiting for the dyes to set she knelt and unzipped the duffel.

Sabine carefully pulled out each piece of armor, smiling faintly to herself.

It then twisted into a frown once she realized she would have to paint over the Clan Wren colors.

But if she was lucky, whoever had attacked the stronghold hadn’t taken her paints from her room.

Taking the blaster with her, she slipped out of the ‘fresher and started toward her old room.

Chapter Text

Tristan strode forward, exuding confidence, but the feel of the blaster pressed against the back of his neck was more than enough to make him terrified.

He inhaled and exhaled deeply, trying to calm himself, but it didn’t work.

“Make one move, and this goes through your head,” the Duros said softly from behind him.  “They’ll accept you dead, too.”

Tristan nodded slowly, biting his lip.

“Make a left here.”

He turned left and spotted the smuggler’s ship.  He continued forward until he was told to stop.

The smuggler opened the loading ramp, nudging Tristan up it with the blaster.  The Mandalorian stumbled up it, wanting to glance back but knowing it wasn’t worth the risk.

As soon as they were inside and the door was closed, the smuggler directed him to the wall.

“Stand there, facing the wall.  Don’t move.”

Tristan obliged, realizing the Duros was getting binders.

A quick glance over his shoulder revealed that the man’s back was to him.

And he had forgotten Tristan had a blaster.

The Mandalorian smiled to himself as he carefully pulled it out from under his cloak, turning just enough to get a clear shot.

 

Sabine grabbed the paints, relieved that whoever had ransacked her room had either missed them or deemed them unimportant.  Just to be safe, on her way back she took a different route.

And stopped not three feet down the stairs.

She sank to her knees, barely keeping from dropping the paints as she put a hand to her mouth, beginning to cry against her will.

Pieces of Mandalorian armor littered the stairs, resting haphazardly on piles of ash that shifted with a faint wind that must have been blowing in from the shattered windows downstairs.

No….

They...they’d been killed using…. No….

She forced herself to stand after a few minutes of grieving.

No use in wasting time.

Nu kyr’adyc, shi taab’echaaj’la, ” she whispered hoarsely, gathering the fallen paints up again before turning and stumbling back down the other set of stairs.

She shoved the paints into the duffel upon reaching the ‘fresher near the armory.  Sabine put three towels in between the paints and her armor, careful that they wouldn’t scrape against each other.  When that was done, she stood and grabbed the duffel, forcing herself not to think of the ashes on the far staircase.  Blaster in hand, she stepped out of the ‘fresher, closing the door silently and heading back toward the exit.

She exited and began to walk through the snow back to the Phantom silently.

She wondered who had done this...who had murdered most of her family so cruelly.

But she knew already.

 

Sir, the recon reports have come in.

“And?” Gar Saxon asked, raising an eyebrow.

It’s Sabine Wren.  She went in, much as you expected, then came back out about an hour and a half later.

He nodded slowly.  Good. It was all going according to plan.

“And did she take anything with her?”

Only a duffel and a blaster, sir.  She’s also dyed her hair—

“Foolish girl.  A new hair color won’t make a difference,” he muttered to himself.

Should we engage?  She’s got a small transport she’s heading to.

“No, no, don’t engage.  I know where she’s going.  Now we have to finish setting things in motion….”

 

Sabine continued to trudge through the snow, smiling to herself as she broke through the trees and spotted Chopper and the Phantom.  The droid warbled a greeting to her happily as she approached, opening the ship and stepping inside.  She set the duffel down and went to the pilot’s chair.

“Chop, let’s get out of here,” she smiled.

The droid beeped affirmatively, and together they started the ship up.

They made it through atmo with no interruptions, not even a comm.  It struck her as odd, but she didn’t stop to question it. Better to take advantage of the opening while she still could.  Sabine leaned back in her seat as they exited the atmosphere. “Chop, we’re headed to Mandalore. Can you do the calculations?”

He beeped again over the comm, and within five minutes they were shooting into hyperspace.

 

“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” Kanan muttered under his breath.

“Relax, love.  It’ll be fine. We’ve done harder things before,” Hera reassured him.

“Yeah, but none of them were this dumb, ” Kanan grumbled.

They were waiting outside the Imperial complex.  Supposedly there was a shipment leaving in an hour, if Vizago’s intel was right.

Hopefully it would be.

Kanan pulled out his comm.  “Spectre Four, what's it look like?”

About a minute passed before there was a response.  “ Looks like they’re gettin’ ready to leave, Spectre One.  Be on standby.

“Copy that.”  Kanan turned the comm off and glanced at Hera.  “What do you think? We got bad intel?”

She shook her head.  “No, I think it’s still good.  The timing’s a bit off, is all.  Wish we had Chop here,” she added under her breath.

“We’ll make do without him,” Kanan reassured her.

Chapter Text

They came out of hyperspace with an unobstructed view of Mandalore.

Sabine adjusted some of the controls on the console, making the ship now invisible to scanners.  Inhaling deeply, she commed Chopper.

“We’ve gotta be careful.  They’ll be expecting us. See if you can jam their scanners further, and we need to land far from Sundari.”

The droid beeped questioningly over the comm and she sighed, nodding.

“I know we need to be there.  But we’ve still got two days until the execution, and if they see us land that’ll make our efforts invalid.”

The droid chirped and they entered atmo, curving through the yellow clouds.  Sabine bit her lip as the proximity sensors indicated a couple of fighters nearby, but she couldn’t see them through the clouds.

Don’t pick us up on your scanners, don’t see us….

It must’ve worked because after a tense three minutes, the proximity alarms clicked off.  She sighed and ran a hand over her face in relief.

“Chop, you found a place for us to land yet?”

The astromech answered in the negative and she sighed again.

“Hurry please.”

She guided the Phantom lower, remaining in the cloud cover as they glided over the cracked ground.

That was all grass, once.

Chopper beeped over the comm channel.

“You found us a spot?  Take us to the coordinates, then.”

The droid beeped again and the ship’s trajectory changed by a few degrees; he had taken over the controls for now.

Sabine was content to remain in her seat for the moment, running through her plan again.

It had a low chance of success without injury, but if she did succeed, that would make any injury worthwhile.

 

Tristan’s brow furrowed in concentration as he punched in the coordinates for hyperspace.  He’d had to do the calculations himself; the Duros didn’t have a droid as far as he knew and Tristan couldn’t waste money on one himself.

Double checking the coordinates against the star map he had pulled up, he pushed the ship into hyperspace and sighed, running a hand through his hair.

He stood from the pilot’s chair, walking out of the cockpit.  He’d jettisoned the Duros’s body before performing the hyperspace calculations, after he had gone back for his go-bag; he’d left it in the bar.  It was a miracle it hadn’t been stolen. Tristan walked to the back of the ship, kneeling by the go-bag. He unzipped the duffel, removing the helmet and setting it carefully next to the bag.  Next he took out the twin WESTARs, placing them next to the helmet before pulling out the last thing he needed.

A commlink that had only one channel, and could be destroyed at a moment’s notice.

He took a deep breath and turned it on.

 

The Phantom landed without incident.

Sabine rose from her seat and headed toward the loading ramp, grabbing her things as she did so.

Chopper fired his thrusters and left the ship, thunking to the ground next to her and warbling quietly.  She nodded.

“Yeah, we’re staying here for the night.  We’re only a day or two’s walk away from Sundari.  And I think the canyons are still neutral territory….”  She trailed off, glancing around before nodding confidently again.  “Yeah, yeah this should be good.”

Chopper followed her, chirping curiously as she began to set up a temporary camp.  She paused and glanced back at him.

“This way, if they destroy the ship they won’t destroy me.  Stay wherever you want; you’re welcome to stay out here with me if you want.”

The droid remained silent for a minute before rolling toward her.  Sabine smiled to herself and returned her attention to finishing the camp preparations.

By the time she’d finished, it was beginning to grow dark; however, there was still enough light for her to start on the armor.

She set each piece out, deciding to work on the helmet and breastplate first; those would be the most vital to have in a fight.  She pulled them closer, along with the paints, and set to work.

By the time she was done with the helmet, it looked similar enough to what she could remember of Clan Kryze’s traditional armor that it would hopefully be able to pass for that, at least at a distance.  She didn’t delude herself; it would never hold up under close scrutiny.

Sabine started on the breastplate, taking each piece individually.  She bit her lip after the middle section, trying to remember how the other two sections went.  Was there a line there, or over here…?

By nightfall, she had finished the helmet and all three sections of the breastplate.  She pulled out some of the rations she’d stolen from the Phantom as she studied her handiwork, waiting for it to dry as well as double checking for inconsistencies.  It had been rushed, but it would probably work from a distance.

Probably.

She would have to finish both the rest of the armor and the jetpack tomorrow.

Assuming she even survived till then.

“Hey, Chop, let me know if anything comes up on the sensors, yeah?”

The astromech warbled an affirmative answer and Sabine let a small smile sneak onto her face.

“Thanks, Chopper.”

She grabbed her blasters and laid on her side, head on the now-mostly-empty duffel.  Despite how hard the ground was, she drifted off easily.

 

Sabine woke before dawn, packing up the camp quickly.  She changed into the body suit she’d brought with the armor, attaching the breastplate pieces but keeping the rest of the armor, helmet included, in the duffel for the moment being.  She stretched before going to Chopper, stopping and smiling to herself when she realized the droid must have powered off during the night. She nudged him.

“Chop, we’ve gotta go.”

The astromech began to warble and then his top half spun rapidly as he shrieked.  Sabine glanced around, a hand flying instinctively to one of her blasters.

When five minutes had passed and no one had shown up, she relaxed.  “Be a bit quieter next time, yeah?”

The droid grumbled but followed her as she started to walk.

Chapter Text

Tristan guided the freighter toward the small encampment, circling it once before landing outside.  He exited the ship, blaster in hand just in case the intel had been wrong.

A helmeted individual approached him, removing her helmet once she was a few feet away and revealing a dark-skinned woman in her fifties.  Two guards flanked her, blasters drawn and aimed at him. He paid them no mind.

“Lady Rook,” he said, dipping his head.  She didn’t return the gesture, however.

“What brings you here, Wren?  Most of your people were killed, and the rest have their faces all over the holos!  Including you! You have brought a target with you, Wren, a target that is now on my own people.”

He waited until the furious woman had finished her tirade, then spoke.  “I was told that, if the need arose, I would be able to seek refuge here for a time.”

“Not while you have a bounty twice the size of our own funds on your head!” she hissed.

“My lady, I only need a place to keep the freighter.  I have some...business in Sundari—“

Sundari?!  That’s a death sentence, boy!  For you and us!”

Tristan waited until she was finished before replying.  “It will be brief. And I have contingency plans if—“

“No.”

He raised an eyebrow.  The other Mandalorian folded her arms, shaking her head decisively.

“No.  I’m not helping you, whether that’s by letting you park your ship here or helping you assassinate Saxon.  I won’t be caught colluding with a traitor.” She pulled a blaster from a holster on her hip, aiming it at his head.  “Go, before I decide to shoot you and collect the bounty myself.”

“Lady Rook, please, it’s my fat—“

“I know it’s your father, boy!  I like him as much as anyone else does, and I dislike the Empire as much as anyone else does.  But that doesn’t mean I agree with standing against them. Look at your own family, and what happened to them!”  She spread her hand. “My own sons and nephew are with the Super Commandos. Acting up would endanger them.” She paused, considering him again before sighing.  “The youngest is the same age as you. You may keep your ship on the very edge of my territory. I don’t want to see it, or receive comms asking why a pilotless freighter is on my territory.  And you are to leave no sign of your existence, or of your clan’s. Are we quite clear?”

He nodded.  “ Vor entye.

She shook her head.  “Don’t. I want to hear no sign of your capture, understood?  And if you tell the Empire we even spoke….

Tristan nodded.  “I won’t,” he promised.

“You better not,” she growled before taking a step back.  “Your mother...is she...?”

He shook his head.  “She’s still alive. I don’t know where, but I know she is.”

A brief smile ghosted across Lady Rook’s face before she lowered her blaster and nodded to the freighter.  “You better hurry. You know he won’t get a trial, no matter what they say. And, try not to hurt any of my clan.”

Vor entye, ” he repeated gratefully, dipping his head in thanks as he turned and began to walk back to the freighter.

“And, Tristan?”

He stopped and turned halfway.

“Make them regret it.”  She was smiling as she replaced her helmet, holstering her blaster again.

He set his jaw, nodding firmly.  “ Ni dabay.

 

Sabine reached the outskirts of Sundari the day before her father's trial had been scheduled.

She and Chopper set up camp on a ridge overlooking one of the main roads used by speeders and other ground transports.  She had finished nearly all the armor now; all that was left were the gauntlets and vambraces, which were easy enough. She set up camp and then set to work painting them while Chopper patrolled nearby, letting out the occasional beep or warble.

“Mhmm,” she responded to his most recent chirp.  “It is pretty open out here.”

He beeped loudly.

“Yeah, I don’t like it either.  But we’ll be able to see if anyone else arrives, so that’ll help.”  The astromech chirped again, rolling back over to Sabine to watch her paint.  She finished with the gauntlets and moved on to the vambraces. After a moment he rolled off again.

She finished with the vambraces soon after and laid them out to dry before standing up, stretching.  She sat down again and took one of her WESTARs out, removing the power cells before starting to clean it.

Suddenly Chopper warbled shrilly.  Sabine glanced over worriedly. “What is it?”

He warbled for a full minute before stopping.  Sabine bit her lip, frowning slightly. She stood up quickly, grabbing the helmet from a few feet away and putting it on as she flicked the rangefinder forward.

She scanned the road beneath her and, finding nothing, scanned the ridge to either side and behind her.

Nothing.

Sabine glanced down at Chopper.  “Chop, there’s nothing here. Your scanners must be wrong.   Come here, and I’ll have a look at them.”

The droid protested but rolled forward anyway.  She squatted, removing her helmet as she studied the astromech, frowning to herself after a few minutes when her initial search revealed nothing out of the ordinary—well, nothing out of the ordinary for Chopper, at least.

“Run a diagnostic, Chop.”

The astromech grumbled, warbling a sigh before starting the diagnostic.

Sabine stood and resumed scanning the ridge.

After about ten minutes he beeped, drawing her attention back to him.

“Nothing wrong with your sensors?  Or scanners? Huh. Maybe it was just a passing jai’galaar.

Chopper grumbled that it had, in fact, been much bigger than a shriek-hawk.

She chose to ignore him.

 

“How close is she to Sundari, Captain?”

Very close, sir.  She’s on the ridge overlooking the thoroughfare into the city.

“Hmm.”  Gar Saxon thought for a moment, then said, “Leave her there, for the moment.  She’ll no doubt attempt some sort of rescue tomorrow.

“And we shall be ready for it.”

Chapter Text

Chopper knew he was right about the ships his scanners had picked up.

His diagnostic had revealed nothing was wrong, and he was sure that shriek-hawks were much smaller than the fighters he had detected.

Admittedly, he had never seen a shriek-hawk, and didn’t really know what they were, either.  Only that they were native to Mandalore.

That was the least of his problems, however.

Hera had been trying to comm him for several rotations.  He had repeatedly ignored her, despite knowing that when he finally did answer one of her comms, whether on accident or on purpose, she would be yelling so loud there would probably be feedback.

At the moment, however, he was focused on Sabine, and on trying to detect the fighters his scanners had shown earlier.  They had left, but he was sure they’d be back.

When, he didn’t know.

 


 

 

Sabine woke before dawn again and swiftly packed up camp.

She took a minute to put the vambraces and gauntlets on before heading over to Chopper.  “Ready, Chop?” she asked, nudging him with her foot. The droid sprang to life and chirped loudly, eliciting a smile from the Mandalorian.  “C’mon then. Let’s go.”

She ran over the plan with the astromech again.  He would remain on the ridge with her duffel and the rest of her supplies, while Sabine would head down to Sundari.  If all worked according to plan, she would return within a few hours with both her father and a hyperdrive-equipped shuttle.

Sabine slipped the helmet on and double-checked the WESTARs’ power cells before starting down the ridge.  She waved goodbye to Chopper, with the droid warbling a faint warning before she disappeared from sight.

She wanted to avoid using her jetpack if she could; it would draw less attention that way.  Sabine knew she would likely have to use it before this was over, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enter the capital on her own terms.

For the moment, the road leading into the capital was clear of traffic.  She walked along the side of it, closer to a ditch than the road in case she needed to make a quick escape.

She was nearly to the capital when she heard the sound of several speeders coming from behind.  Sabine darted into the ditch, waiting until they had passed before carefully making her way back up.  The rest of the way into the city was still and without incident.

Something about the silence of it all put Sabine on edge.

As she reached the edge of Sundari, Sabine began to look for large clumps of people without any members of Clan Kryze.

The task was more difficult than she would’ve thought.

Finally she found a group devoid of any of the blue-and-gray-armored warriors.  She slipped into the group, remaining silent for the most part as she listened to the conversation.  The group was a mix of mostly Eldar and Viszla, though there were a couple members of Clan Rau as well.

Thankfully, there was nobody from Clan Saxon.

At the moment, the dominating member of the conversation was a member of Clan Eldar.  It took her a minute to realize what he was talking about, but once she did, she had to bite her lip to keep from gasping.

‘lek, Kryze is the one who put the bounty on him.  She still hasn’t told anyone why, only that it’s personal.  And with the Empire executing his father today, he’s bound to show up.”

“And the Imps have no objection to her posting it?  Thought she was leading some sort of revolution; didn’t she have a bounty herself a few months ago?”

The Eldar man nodded vigorously.  “ ‘lek, ‘lek she did.  No one knows why they dropped it.”  He turned, facing Sabine. She felt her cheeks flush under the helmet as he asked, “You’re Kryze, right?  Do you know why they dropped it?”

“I- I don’t know.  I’m mostly just a border guard; Lady Kryze doesn’t exactly tell anyone outside of her private circle things like that.”

He nodded.  “ ‘lek, I can understand why.”

Sabine decided to do some digging of her own.  “Do you really think his kid will show up?”

“Oh ‘lek, of course!” the Eldar man responded.  “He’s a Wren. It’s only natural. You know how they are about family, it seems like they care even more about them than other clans sometimes—except for the girl.  What was her name, Sabine?”

She bristled, forcing herself to keep calm.

“I think that was it, yeah.  Wasn’t she the reason her family spoke out?”

She let the conversation drift on, uncertain how to butt in.  She longed to retort, but knew it would only get her in more trouble than she was already in.

“A bit.  I don’t know the details; their clan’s kept it mostly under wraps.  I can understand why, of course, it was probably a big disgrace….”

Sabine sighed inwardly, resigning herself to listening to all of this as the group slowly made their way further into the city.

 


 

 

Once the group was closer to the square where she knew the execution would take place, Sabine slipped away and started searching for a way into the prison.  If she could get him out before the guards went to get him….

She passed half a squad of Supercommandos and slowed slightly once she was around the corner and out of sight.  They had to be guarding something, most likely one of the prison entrances.

Now just to figure out how to actually get inside.

She bit her lip, leaning against the wall around the corner from the guards.  There would be a squad of Protectors around here somewhere….No, not after the Empire had fully taken over.  They had abolished the position of Mand’alor. And she doubted the Emperor’s Hand—that was what they called it now, right?—would have Protectors.   A squad of Supercommandos, maybe. But not Protectors. Not people who were more loyal to Mandalore than to the Empire.

Sabine scanned the wall further down from where she was standing.  There appeared to be an unprotected door there….

All her instincts screamed that it was a trap.  But she couldn’t risk the chance of losing in a fight to Supercommandos, nor the chance of one of them being a Kryze and recognizing how fake the paint job on her armor was.

She walked to the door, slipping inside.

 


 

 

It was the prison, alright.

Rows of catwalks crisscrossed the abyss, and Sabine tried to avoid looking down into it as she crept along the wall.

About half the cells had an occupant.  Sabine glanced across the abyss and caught sight of three teenagers in one of the cells.  With a jolt, she recognized the colors of one’s armor as those of Clan Viszla.

Why—

Ogir!

She pulled her blasters and turned.  A squad of Imperial Supercommandos was rushing toward her.

Sabine removed the safety on both blasters, aiming them at the first two.

“Wait!  She’s from Clan Kryze!”

She recognized that voice.

She hesitated, trying to place it.

Her hesitation cost her dearly.

The first three guards started shooting rapidly.  She narrowly avoided three blaster charges before activating the shield emitter on her vambrace.  She raised it quickly, just in time to block a bolt that would’ve hit her head otherwise.

She thought the helmet would be able to take the blow, but she didn’t want to risk it.

“If she was Clan Saxon we would still be shooting!  We have orders to take any intruders into custody!” one of the other guards yelled back.

“Who says I’m not supposed to be here?” Sabine shouted, finally starting to shoot back.

Sha’kajir! ” one of the Supercommandos yelled.

A couple of the guards started to lower their blasters.

Sabine continued to shoot despite the cease fire order, and the guards who had begun to lower their blisters immediately raised them again.

“Sha’kajir!” repeated the same guard as before.  The Supercommandos didn’t respond.

Without warning he turned and began firing on the other guards.

Sabine was stunned into hesitation for a moment before she started firing again.  She would take advantage of whatever chances she was given, even if some were a bit...unorthodox.

Within seconds, the entire squad except for the one who had turned on them was down.

Sabine leveled her blaster at him, coldly asking, “Who are you?”

He began to remove his helmet and she gasped.

Chapter Text

If Tristan Wren had ever expected to meet his sister again, he had not expected it to be like this.

“Tristan..?” Sabine asked slowly, as if not daring to allow herself to believe it was true.  She removed her helmet and held it at her hip, studying him cautiously.

He nodded, and suddenly she was throwing her helmet to the ground and flinging herself into his arms.

“Tristan, it’s been, what, five years now?  I’ve missed you so much.  And I’m sorry about—“

“I know,” he replied quietly.  He stepped back and held her at arm’s length, frowning in consideration.  “You changed your hair. It’s—“

“I know, it was a rush job, I didn’t really—“

“No, Sabine, I like it.”  He nodded in approval at the indigo and burnt orange streaks.

She smiled before hugging him again.

“I’ve missed you,” she mumbled against his armor.

“I’ve missed you too.”  He pulled away again. “You’ve got to get out of here; it’s a—“

“I know, Tristan, they know you’re here, they’re counting on it—“

The door Sabine had entered through slammed open.  Tristan whirled, raising his blaster again.

Another squad of Supercommandos charged in, blasters blazing.  He felled two and Sabine shot a third before a charge struck home in his shooting shoulder.  He hissed in pain, grabbing it with his empty hand and falling to a knee as he continued to shoot.  Most of his shots went wide.

Tristan! ” Sabine screamed from nearby.

“Get Sabine Wren alive,” one of the guards ordered.

“Does Saxon want the boy?”

Tristan glanced up and caught the first guard shrugging.  “If we can get him.”

Tristan gritted his teeth and staggered to his feet, shooting again.

 

They were going to fail.

It had been a trap from the beginning, somehow set for both of them.

Sabine continued to fire, but in her gut she knew it was a losing battle.

Surrendering would mean surrendering her dignity and any chance she had of escape.

Surrendering was almost honorable.

But surrendering to a false Mand’alor?

That was dishonorable.

She shot another guard in his shooting arm, making him drop the blaster.  She turned slightly, adjusting her angle to aim at another when she heard a suppressed cry followed by a thud.

Sabine turned to see Tristan’s knees buckle, sending him to the ground.  A stun charge followed.

She turned back to the Supercommandos and started firing with a renewed vigor, shooting another before she missed the next bolt.

The stun charge hit her in the side and she collapsed instantly, wishing she had replaced her helmet as her head smacked the floor.

She groaned, not even trying to get up knowing it was futile.

Sabine blinked as the remaining guards split between her and her brother, cuffing their hands before forcing them to their feet.  She struggled to keep her balance; the stun charge was still having an effect. Tristan was having a harder time of it than she was; he had gotten shot twice with lethals before being stunned.  The Supercommandos guarding him almost had to drag him forward as they were escorted to cells.

You should’ve listened to Chop.

 

“Hera, you almost done with that?”

Kanan leaned against the wall of the Ghost , a few feet away from where Hera was attempting to install the new hyperdrive.

“Yeah, just about,” she muttered.  “It’d be a whole lot easier if she hadn’t taken my droid, too.”  Hera glanced up at Kanan.  “He’s been ignoring my comms.  Either she disabled them or he’s just being—“

“Chopper.”  Kanan sighed.  “We really shouldn’t have kept that bounty hunter from taking her.”

Hera nodded in agreement.  “Yep. I regret that. Along with a lot of things lately, like only leaving  Chopper with her.” She sighed, sitting back on her heels to study the hyperdrive.  After a moment’s consideration, she went back to working on it again.

“Did you track him?”

“Mhmm.”  She paused for a moment to finish what she was working on before answering.  “Looks like they went to some planet in the Mandalore sector. Haven’t checked it since; they might’ve moved on by now.”

“So...not Mandalore, then?”

Hera shook her head.  “No. Not yet, at least.  They might be on their way there now, or they might have just arrived.”

“Hmm.”

“What?  Do you have another idea?”

Kanan shrugged.  “That Inquisitor...when you were talking to her, did she seem...close with him?”

Hera hesitated before answering.  “Yes...I guess. I still have no idea why though.  Why?”

The Jedi didn’t answer for a minute.  When he did, he paused before each word, as if considering each carefully.  “Do you think she’s so close to him that she might even attempt a rescue?

“I don’t know.  Why?”

“If we were to track the intel on where they’re taking him...we might be able to intercept her, if she does decide to go after him.”

“You want to?”

He shrugged.  “I guess. Might be worth a shot.”

“Well I’m willing to try anything to get Chopper and the Phantom back.”  Hera sat back on her heels again, smiling to herself as she studied the hyperdrive once more.  She stood, putting a hand on her hip as she turned to Kanan. “And we have a hyperdrive now.”

He grinned.  “Let’s give it a shot.”

She nodded in agreement, walking past him and pausing to reach up to press a soft kiss to his jaw.  “If you think it has a chance of working, then so do I.”

His grin widened as she walked past him, heading to the cockpit.  He followed her.

Chapter Text

Tristan was in the cell next to her, and Sabine had no idea when the guards would come back.

They’d left her cuffed; she wasn’t sure about Tristan but didn’t doubt they had done the same for him.  They’d taken her vambraces, gauntlets, helmet, and jetpack but had let her keep the rest of her armor.

She was grateful for that; if she was to be executed, she would rather it be in her own armor.

Now that she had it back, she had no idea how she had lived so long without it.

Five hundred years old, her armor was a part of her.  It was who she was.

She realized now, with it on, that she had been a fish out of water without it.

And suddenly she had the whole ocean given to her.

Sabine heard a noise outside her cell and she stood up, walking to the ray shield.  Three Imperial Supercommandos were approaching from the left. They stopped at the cell next to hers.

Tristan.

A minute later he emerged, hands in binders as he followed one of the guards, the other two flanking him.

Probably taking him for questioning….

That means they think Mother is still alive.

Sabine swallowed past the lump in her throat. If her brother was the same man she remembered, they wouldn’t get the answers they were looking for.

However, if he wasn’t….

 

They manhandled him into an interrogation room.  He grunted as they shoved him by the shoulders into one of the chairs.  As soon as they removed his binders, he shoved an elbow backward, hitting one guard in the chest before one of the others hit him over the head with a blaster.  It was hard, but not hard enough to knock him out. Just enough to subdue him long enough for them to wrestle him into the chair again and shove his hands into the binders on the chair before leaving.

As soon as they were gone, Tristan glanced around, wincing at the throbbing in his shoulder and head.  It was a more standard interrogation room, the kind that had been more common in the days before the Empire.

Not that he remembered much of that.

There didn’t appear to be any torture devices, not yet.  But he would probably be interrogated by other Mandalorians.

They didn’t need torture devices.

At some point the door behind him opened; he had lost track of time when he’d first been stunned.

Footsteps came from behind him as a man walked around the side of his chair, sitting in the one opposite.

Mandalorian armor, but painted red and white with the Imperial cog.

He glared at Gar Saxon, who merely smiled.

“So.  Tristan Wren.  Am I to assume this is the result of a failed rescue attempt for your father?”

Tristan remained silent, and Saxon continued.

“The Clan Wren I knew would never have been so foolish as to attempt a rescue against such insurmountable odds.  But then again, that clan died several years ago.”  He leaned forward across the table between them slightly, voice dropping.  “Do you remember how we burned your home?”

A slight change in breathing and a hardening of his gaze was all that indicated that Tristan had heard him at all.

“How your family screamed as we turned your sister’s own weapon on them, as their own honor was turned against them—“

Tristan lunged forward, the binders on his wrists the only things stopping him from attacking Saxon.  The older man chuckled softly, leaning back in his chair as Tristan breathed heavily, trying to ignore the pain in his shoulder.

“Trying to make up for your cowardice then, Wren?  Trying to make up for how you and your parents ran, ran away from everyone and everything?

“It’s interesting, really.  The Wren stronghold has held strong against so many attacks—until ours.”

“Don’t you dare speak of my family and my home that way,” Tristan growled.

“Alright then.  Let’s move on to the next matter of business—where is your mother?”

 

The guards returned for Sabine a few hours later.

She stood from her seat on the durasteel ledge jutting out from the wall a few feet behind the ray shield.  The ray shield lowered and she stepped forward.

Two guards flanked her as one led the small group in front of her.  They took her down the hall, the same way they had taken Tristan, before turning sharply to the left into another hallway.  They continued down the corridor silently for several hundred meters before stopping at a door.

She watched carefully as the guard in front of her removed his glove and the armor on the back of his right hand before pressing his palm to a scanner next to the door.  It remained red for several seconds before flashing green.

The door slid open and Sabine was pushed in.  The room was empty aside from what looked like—

She turned to run back out the door before both guards behind her grasped her by the arms.  She kicked out, struggling as they dragged her to the upright torture table. They removed her binders and managed to hold her down long enough to cuff her into the new restraints.

Sabine panted, glaring at all three of the helmeted guards.  “What do you want to know? I don’t know anything about my family; I was told they were all dead before a few days ago.”

“It’s not about what you know.  It’s about what your brother knows,” one of the guards muttered.

It took her a moment to realize what he meant but once she did, she started struggling again, pulling against the restraints.  “He won’t say anything,” she hissed. “He thinks of me as aruetyc anyway.”

“The security recordings wouldn’t agree with that,” one of the other guards replied.  He turned to the third. “Get the feed online.”

 

It had been several hours, and the boy still hadn’t broken.

Of course, he was mostly using only Senate-approved methods of questioning.  Their effectiveness paled in comparison to both the traditional Mandalorian and the lesser-known Imperial techniques.  But Saxon had to keep up appearances.

His commlink chimed and he answered it, keeping an eye on Wren as he did so.  The boy continued to glare at him, split lip and black eye seemingly not bothering him.

“What?”

The girl is in position, sir.  The feed’s set up as well.

“Good.”  He paused, pulling out a holoprojector and setting it up on the table between them.  Wren switched his attention to it, narrowing his eyes as Saxon turned it on.

The boy’s reaction was instantaneous.  His eyes widened in concern at the image of his sister strapped to a torture table.  He glanced up at Saxon, confusion and hatred mingled in his features. “What are they—“

Saxon ignored him and spoke into the commlink once more.  “You may proceed.” Clicking it off, he glanced at Wren. “You can stop this whenever you want to tell me where Ursa Wren is.  We’ll find her, one way or another. If it’s this way, then everything that happens to your sister will be your fault.

Wren continued to glare at him, opening his mouth to respond when the first scream came.

Chapter Text

She had no idea how long it had been when they finally stopped.

They had alternated between electroshock torture and pain stimulators; she thought they might’ve brought in an IT-O unit at some point but she couldn’t be sure.

Sabine’s breaths were ragged, even now that the torture had stopped.  She blinked, eyelids heavy as she groaned.

She vaguely remembered the guards comming someone, and something about her brother knowing something.

Tristan doesn’t know anything… she thought dazedly, or maybe said out loud.  It was all a haze at this point.

Sabine blinked again, forcing herself to try and stay conscious.  She needed...she needed to find a way out...out of here….

She looked to the side, groaning softly again as the motion made her head throb worse.  Two of the guards—or was it four? they kept multiplying—were speaking to each other in low tones.

Wasn’t there another one….

She forced herself to focus on their words.

“...still...broken yet, Saxon….”

“...girl?  Does the...back?  Or….”

She tried to make out more words, but her mind was still murky.

“...done?...he’s sure….”

Sabine let her eyes close again, the voices fading in and out as she slipped into unconsciousness.


 

Tristan had barely noticed when they’d injected the truth serum into the side of his neck.

That was only a minor nuisance compared to his sister, his aruetyc sister who was being tortured right in front of him.

And despite what Saxon said, he could do nothing to stop it.

He had no idea where his mother was.  He had told Saxon as much when they’d first started torturing Sabine, but the older man either hadn’t cared or hadn’t believed him.

Saxon had ordered them to stop a while ago, he didn’t know when, and then had turned the holoprojector off after promising Tristan that it would be much worse the next time if he didn’t give him the answers he wanted.

Then he’d been left alone, and now here he was, still alone.

He cursed himself for not telling Saxon about the commlink.  It was locked to a single channel, his mother’s, and though it was untraceable, Saxon would’ve probably still found a way to use it.

And it might’ve stopped them from torturing Sabine for so long.

She’s an aruetii, he reminded himself harshly.   As much as you care about her, Mother is more important.  Mother isn’t the reason the stronghold was destroyed; Sabine is.

The door behind him opened and he tensed, sure it was Saxon again.  But it was just the guards. He relaxed slightly, though his gaze was still hard as he glared daggers at them.

Without speaking they undid the restraints cuffing him to the chair.  He remained still as they fastened binders over his wrists, pulling him to his feet and shoving him forward and out of the interrogation room.

He longed to fight back, to grab a blaster from one of the guards’ holsters and shoot all three of them.

He also knew that Sabine would most likely be the one punished, not him.

So Tristan remained compliant and silent as they walked back the way they had come, not looking up as they stopped at a cell.

“...Tristan...?”

His head shot up at the hoarse voice.  Sabine was huddled in a corner of the cell, looking more vulnerable than he had ever seen her as she hugged her knees and looked up.

The ray shield lowered and the guards shoved Tristan forward.  He stumbled in, glancing back as the ray shield raised again and the guards left.

He turned back to Sabine and walked over, kneeling next to her.

Ni bid, bid ni ceta, ” he whispered.

She shook her head, apparently too worn out to speak, and he bit his lip.

You should’ve told him about the comm.


 

Sabine had fallen asleep at some point, her head on his shoulder, when the guards returned.

Tristan glared up at them as the ray shield dropped.

There were six of them this time.

“She’s sleeping, ” he muttered, gesturing to Sabine.  “Can’t you—“

“If you want to answer Saxon’s questions willingly, then there’ll be no need to wake her up.”

“I’ve already told him, I don’t know.  I can’t answer a question I don’t have an answer to.”

The guards didn’t reply, instead just moving into the cell.

He nudged his sister’s shoulder gently.  “Hey, Sabine.”

“Hmm?” she mumbled, eyes snapping open but the fatigue still lingering.  Her gaze flicked to the guards and she groaned, sitting up and beginning to push herself into a standing position.

Tristan stood as well, biting back a cry of pain as his hurt shoulder grazed the wall.

Three guards took Sabine, leading her out of the cell.  She glanced back over her shoulder, fear flickering in her eyes.  “Tristan—“

Ni ja’r! ” he called back.

She disappeared from view.

Tristan’s posture was rigid as he stepped out of the cell, resisting the urge to attack the guards as they led him down the corridor.

If it came down to it, he would tell them about the commlink.

Chapter Text

The shocks stopped abruptly.

Sabine forced herself to open her eyes and raise her head, still panting from the last round as she tried to figure out what was going on.

One of the guards, maybe two—she couldn’t be sure—was speaking into a commlink in a low tone.  Her ears were still ringing from the most recent round, rendering her almost deaf for the moment.  And lip reading wasn’t an option when the subjects were helmeted.

Not that she was even coherent enough for that.

As the ringing began to fade, she started to be able to make out some of the conversation.

He said it’s...freighter, yes….disappoint me….

“...course not, sir….girl?”

Take….

“Of course….”

She was starting to fade into unconsciousness when the binders holding her up were suddenly loosened.  Sabine blinked, attempting to stay upright as she started to slump forward. A guard’s hand—or maybe it was Tristan’s, she had no idea at this point—grasped her by the arm, holding her up and helping her attempt to regain her balance.  She swallowed, her throat dry and throbbing almost as bad as her head and chest.

She tried to stay conscious, but the effort of standing up combined with the pain soon led to her passing out.


 

“Sabine?  Hey, Sabine.  You okay?”

She groaned, sitting up slowly as someone put a hand to her back to support her.  She looked around, gaze unfocused for a moment before she recognized her brother.

“...Tristan?”

“Yeah, it’s me.  Just focus on me, okay?”

Sabine coughed, continuing to look around.  It was the cell they’d been in before, or at least another cell.  They were all identical anyway.

“Sabine, hey.  You have to stay with me, alright?”

She turned, focusing on her brother again.  He was biting his lip, a gesture they shared when they were worried.

“Did...did you tell them?”

“No; I don’t know where she is.”

“Good….”  Her speech slurred and she started to slump forward again.  Tristan caught her arm, helping her back up.

“Sabine, I need you to stay awake for me.  Can you do that?”

“Why…?”

“We’re getting out of here.  I- I still have to think of a plan, is all.  But I need you to be awake for that, okay?”

“Saxon’s a…” she coughed weakly again before continuing, “he’s aruetyc.  With the- the Empire….”

“I know, Sabine.  You were too,” he reminded her gently.

“Yeah but...I’m not...I’m not imprisoning the heir- the heirs….”  Her words slurred again.

Tristan adjusted his grip on her arm so she was more stable before replying.  “‘Imprisoning the heirs?’ What do you mean?”

“They’ve got...they’ve got some kids, a Viszla...some others, not sure….To keep them in line….”

Sabine forced herself to remain conscious and to focus on his face again.  She managed to focus just enough to see his brows knit together in worry.

“Sabine, where did you hear this?”

“Guards...before the feed was- was online, they...they were talking….”

“Sabine.  Sabine, hey, I need you to focus on me.  Are you sure that’s what they said?”

She nodded weakly and he set his jaw.

“I need you to stay with me, okay Sabine?”

She nodded again, her eyes starting to close before she forced them back open.

“Good.  And just- just follow my lead, alright?”


 

He could get them out of there.

If he could only get his little sister to stay awake long enough, that is.

Tristan knew she needed the sleep, but he had no idea when he’d get the opportunity to spring the plan he had.  And he needed her fully awake and aware for when he did get the opportunity.

“Sabine.  I have a few questions, but it’s important and I need you to stay awake for them, okay?”

She mumbled something incoherent but sat up a bit straighter.

“Okay.  Where do they take you when you leave the cell?”

Sabine was silent for a moment before replying.  “Where you go.”

“Down the hall and to the left?”

She nodded.

“And how do they open the door?”

Her brow furrowed as she thought for a minute.  “It’s keyed to- to the guards.”

“To their hands?”

She nodded.

“Which one?”

“R- right, I think.”

This would complicate matters.

“Once you’re in there, is there a surveillance feed online?”

“Not sure….”  She started to slump forward, prompting him to help her up again.  “Don’t...think so.”

“I need you to be absolutely sure about this, Sabine.   Is the feed online?

Sabine shrugged and Tristan felt his stomach drop.  “I don’t- I don't think so….”

“Are you sure?

She only shrugged again and he sighed heavily, exhaling slowly.

This plan was getting weaker by the minute.


The cell door opened and he blinked, raising his cuffed hands to shield his eyes.

Two ‘troopers entered the cell, walking across it and grabbing him by the arms.  He staggered forward as they led him out of the cell, nearly dragging him up the small set of stairs.  Four more ‘troopers waited outside, and he shot them glares before turning to his master.

“Where am I going?” he asked hoarsely.

A harsh slap made his knees buckle.  He felt blood on his cheek.

“Did I give you permission to ask questions?” the older Inquisitor snarled.  He shook his head, looking down.

The Pau’an turned his attention to the ‘troopers.  “Take him to the shuttle. You may leave without me; I will be aboard another one following shortly.”

“Yessir,” one of the ‘troopers responded.  They shoved him and he stumbled forward, biting back a cry of pain as his bad leg took the brunt of his weight.

He didn’t look back as they led him to the shuttle.


 

Tristan almost regretted telling Saxon about the commlink.

Almost.

But it was worth it when, a few hours later, the guards retrieved him and he was met with a furious Saxon.

The situation was more dangerous than funny but at this point, anything would’ve made Tristan laugh.

Of course, he regretted laughing when Saxon backhanded him hard enough to draw blood.

He spit to the side, still smirking slightly as Saxon glowered at him.

“What’s so funny, boy?” he growled.

“The fact that you didn’t believe me when I said it was untraceable.  I figured you’d listen to reason at least, maybe, but clearly I was wr—“

Another slap knocked his head back.  He was hating the truth serum more and more.

“Your father’s already been terminated, boy.  Your sister’s the only one left for you to lose.

“Now, I’ll ask you once more before we start with her again.  Where. Is. Your. Mother.”

He remained silent, already mentally apologizing to Sabine as Saxon sat back slightly and pulled out a comm.

“You may begin.”  He glanced back at Tristan, watching him carefully as he pulled out the holoprojector.


|~~~|

 

When the guards came in to check his restraints after Saxon had left, Tristan made his move.

“Are any of you from Clan Viszla?  Or even House Viszla?”

There was silence for a moment, and he thought he was about to get a harsh slap when one of the guards spoke.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because my sister said they’re keeping a kid from that clan here.  She said it’s to make sure you and your house stay in line.”

There was silence.

“Remind me which clan you’re in again, boy?”

“Clan Wren,” he replied carefully.  “House Viszla.”

“Did you know about this back when your clan actually had any power?”

“No,” Tristan admitted.  “But they’re keeping other kids, too.  I’m not sure which clans, but I know they are.”  He paused. “And if your clan loses favor with the Empire, like ours did….”

The guards hesitated, glancing at each other.

Almost there….


 

“Their coordinates have changed.”

Kanan looked up.  He pushed off from the wall and walked over to Hera and the console, looking over her shoulder.  “Where?”

“Mandalore.  The planet this time, not just the sector.”

“Her father’s execution was public yesterday.  Are you sure—“

“Yes.  Maybe they were held up, or she’s trying to find a way back to Chopper.”

“Hmm.”

He crossed his arms, frowning in thought as he studied the coordinates.

Chapter Text

“They wouldn’t kill the heirs.”

Tristan raised an eyebrow.  “Are you sure?”

The guard hesitated.  “It...would cause an uproar.”

“But nothing the Empire couldn’t handle, of course,” Tristan pressed.

This time, the guard didn’t speak.

The silence was deafening.

Tristan exhaled deeply, closing his eyes.

I failed you….

The binders on his wrists suddenly loosened.

His eyes snapped open and he looked up to see the guard already turning away.

“Which cells?”

The question was so muted he almost didn’t catch it.  “Excuse me?”

“Which cells?” the guard repeated.

“I’m...not sure.  My sister knows.”

“Five rooms down, on the left,” the guard said quietly.  He made to leave but paused, glancing back at Tristan. “Saxon is an aruetii. ”  Without another word, the three guards filed out.

The door was open, and Tristan was uncuffed.

He stood quickly, going to the door silently.  Something on the ground caught his eye and he bent, picking up a blaster.  One of the guards must have left it for him.

He slipped it into his holster and rubbed his wrists, glancing out the door as he stepped outside.  Glancing down the hall, he turned left out of the interrogation room and started toward the room the guard had indicated.


 

Sabine tried to focus on the rest of the room.  There was something Tristan had wanted her to look for….Something important….

The guards were fading in and out of focus.  They were doing something...something with the controls on the table, maybe.  She couldn’t tell for sure, but if it was the controls….

She mumbled something incoherent and shifted, her wrists chafing on the restraints.

There was a noise, and then loud voices.  She couldn’t tell what they were saying, but then the guards multiplied and she vaguely realized that she was seeing double again.

Or maybe not….Some of the guards started moving, leaving her range of vision.  One or two remained in sight.

Sabine groaned, trying to shift again.  Her head was throbbing again and a slight tremor ran through her muscles.

She thought someone else entered, but their footsteps were muted and fuzzy.

There was the sound of a blaster, and a red charge hit the guard closest to her.  He dropped like a stone.

She groaned, trying to push off from the table.  The binders cut into her wrists and Sabine cried out quietly, head slamming back against the table as she fell back.

Her eyes closed and her head lowered as her ragged breathing began to even out some.

And then there was a voice, a hand undoing the binders as she groaned, opening her eyes.

Tristan drifted in and out of view, speaking quietly to her.  He bent, undoing the restraints around her ankles. She slumped forward as he helped her stand.

As he whispered to her, she was able to make out some of the words.  “You’re okay….getting out...here.”

“The surveillance…” she mumbled, “the feed….The feed is...it’s off...for…” she trailed off, thoughts blurred as Tristan helped her stumble forward.


 

They were almost out.

Tristan wouldn’t allow himself to think of them as out yet.  Thinking positively instead of realistically would only get them both killed.

He helped support Sabine as she staggered down the hall next to him.  He needed to find a terminal that he could slice into for a map. Then a shuttle.

And if they were smart and if they were lucky, they could maybe get off this planet alive.

They rounded a corner and he spotted a terminal.  He approached it, glancing over his shoulder. Reaching the terminal, he helped his sister sit against the wall next to it.  “Sabine, I’m slicing into this, and then we can leave. We’ll get you a medkit, and then—“

“Inquisitor…” she said softly, “I have to...have to...have to find….”

An Inquisitor?  What did Sabine want with—never mind.

He shook his head.  “No, we’re not finding an Inquisitor.  We have to avoid them.” The torture must’ve gotten to her more than he thought.

She shook her head feverishly.  “No, I- I need to- need to find...him.  He...he saved...my life.”

An Inquisitor, saving his sister’s life?

“Sabine, listen, I think you’re out of it right now.  An Inquisitor couldn’t have helped you. Let’s just get the map and figure out where the shuttles and med bay are, okay?”

She shook her head again.  “I—“

No.  We need to focus on leaving.”

“...not leaving without finding- finding him….”

He sighed, running a hand over his face.  “Fine. But we’re getting the map first, alright?”

Sabine finally nodded and he sighed in relief.  “I can...I can slice it.”

“Sabine, with respect, I don’t think you’re—“

She shot a weak glare at him.  “Just let me.”

He shrugged, helping her up to stand and then stepping back to hover behind in case she started to lose her balance.

Sabine bent over the terminal, pressing some keys before it lit up.  She glanced over her shoulder at Tristan.

“The map…?”

He stepped forward, tensing until he realized that she had, in fact, managed to slice into it.  A smile slid onto his face as he began to search for the map.

While doing so he came across something else.  His brow furrowed as he read it.

Alrich Wren, due for termination.  Date: D344 4BBY

Tristan Wren, due for termination.  Date: To Be Determined

Sabine Wren, due for re-education and re-evaluation.  Date: To Be Determined

His heart skipped a beat and he cast his sister a sideways glance.  Her eyes were closed and she looked like she was having trouble staying upright.  No use in adding to that.

He inhaled sharply and continued to search for the maps.

He found one a few minutes later, glancing over at Sabine again.

“I found the map.”

“The Inquisitor…?”

He bit his lip; he’d been hoping she had forgotten.  “Still searching,” Tristan responded. He searched the database, filtering through reports as quickly as he could.

He found the one he needed.

A chill ran down his spine as he skimmed it.

On a Destroyer.  He didn’t recognize the name of it, but maybe Sabine would.  They were en route to...Coruscant? That couldn’t be right….But that was the capital, maybe the Inquisitorius had one of their main offices—did they even have offices?—there.

Tristan inhaled again and rechecked the map.  The med bay was closest.

Now for their weapons and the rest of their armor….

It was closer to the shuttles than anything.  But only a little out of their way.

He turned to Sabine after shutting off the terminal.  “Sabine, are you ready?”

She nodded and he helped her begin walking again.

They would make it out.


 

Sabine stumbled forward, trying to support herself but having to rely on Tristan for balance more than she would’ve liked.  The walls began to blur around her as they turned a corner. Tristan muttered something and she glanced up at him. He repeated himself.

“The med bay’s just up here, alright?  We’ll get you some painkillers, and then….”

His voice began to fade in and out again as her grip on reality slipped.  She had barely been coherent enough to slice into the terminal; she had used up most of her energy doing so.

They reached the med bay and she stumbled in, collapsing into a chair as Tristan rushed off, searching the room for something.

Painkillers…?

He returned a few minutes later, helping her sit up.

“Here,” he murmured, pouring something—water?—into her mouth.  She coughed, refusing it at first, but then realized he was trying to slip a pill into her mouth too.  Coughing again, Sabine finally accepted the water and pill.

“...take a minute...work, but….”

Tristan’s voice drifted in and out as she tried to force herself to stay awake.

Just stay conscious long enough to...long enough to….

Chapter Text

Almost immediately after giving Sabine the painkillers, she passed out.

Tristan exhaled, running a hand through his hair.  He might be able to get her out if they could make it to where their weapons and the rest of their armor was being kept….But he wasn’t sure he could make it that far if she was still unconscious.  But leaving her here would only put her at risk again.

He went back to the rows of pills, searching for a stimulant.  Caf pills would do, but only once she was already awake.

There was a soft groan from behind him and he turned, smiling in relief as he saw his sister stirring.  Turning back to the pills, he snatched a bottle of caf pills before grabbing a general medkit from nearby.  He could tend to his own injuries once they were safely on a shuttle and off Mandalore.

He hurried back over to Sabine, picking up the water and helping her sit up again.  “Here, you need to take this,” Tristan murmured, slipping a couple of the pills into her mouth before helping her drink.  She groaned, resisting at first before realizing he was trying to help her. “Come on Sabine,” he murmured quietly.

She tried to push herself up more, attempting to stand.  He helped her up, helping her put an arm around his shoulder as they began to slowly make their way out of the med bay.

He promised himself that, one way or another, he would get her out of here.


 

Sabine started to become more coherent as they got further from the med bay.  Whatever pills her brother had given her were clearly working. They didn’t improve her balance, however; she was still nearly walking into walls.

“Tristan...how much farther?” she muttered hoarsely.  He glanced down at her.

“A few more turns, then you’ll have the rest of your armor back.”

“The...the shuttle?”

Tristan nodded, smiling.  “We’ll go there right after.”

She smiled briefly and winced as Tristan’s grip on her back shifted, brushing against one of her old injuries from the second TIE crash.

“You okay?” he asked worriedly.

She nodded.  “Just...it’s- it’s an old injury.”

He nodded slowly, looking like he only believed her halfway.

They rounded a corner and he looked down at her again.

Ni bid ni ceta, Sabine.   Ni hwa ganar rejorhaa’ir etid catnat, ” he whispered.

She shrugged, wincing at the pain the movement caused.  “ Ni hwa ganar- hwa ganar mar’eyir...a otir catnat.

He bit his lip and glanced ahead.  “It’s this one.” Tristan motioned to a the next door down.

“Is it locked?”

“I hope not.”

She swallowed hard as they slowed to a stop.  Tristan opened the door and helped her inside.  He glanced around quickly.

Sabine nodded to the left.  “There.” Her brother glanced over, spotting the pile of armor and blasters the same time as she did.  He helped her over to the wall and she slid down it to a sitting position.

He handed her the gauntlets and vambraces first before glancing at her wrists.  “Will you be able to have those on while—“

“I’ll be fine; I can...bandage them, once- once we’re on the...shuttle.”

“If you’re sure….”

“I am,” she said firmly, reaching for one of the gauntlets and slipping it on.

By the time she’d gotten both gauntlets and one of the vambraces on, Tristan was approaching with her jetpack, helmet, and WESTARs.

“We can go when you’re ready, but we’ll need to hurry.”

She nodded, grunting as she pushed herself into a standing position.  She slipped the remaining vambrace on over her gauntlet, wincing slightly as it rubbed across her wrist.  Sabine then grabbed her helmet, slipping it on before taking both of her WESTARs and slipping them each into their respective holsters.

“What about your jetpack?”

“I’ll put it on while...while we’re walking.”

He nodded and slipped his own helmet on, putting his jetpack on before helping Sabine stand.

“Wait, I have- I have an idea,” she said quickly, coughing.  Tristan glanced down at her.

“What?” he asked, confusion spreading across his features.

“Binders.  You- your armor is still- still painted to...to look like a ‘commando….”

He caught onto her train of thought and nodded quickly.  “Can you stand on your own for a minute?”

She nodded, stepping back to lean against the wall and slip her jetpack on.  Tristan turned and walked across the room, searching for binders. Sabine adjusted the jetpack, wincing as it dug into one of her older injuries.

He returned a moment later, cuffing her hands behind her back but loose enough that she could break out of them if needed.  “Ready?”

She nodded and he helped her up.  She winced slightly and he slowed, concern flickering across his features.

Together they staggered to the doorway.


 

They would make it out.

Most of all, they would make it out alive.

Tristan helped Sabine limp down the hall, hoping he was remembering the way to the landing pad right.

A turn here…or was it here…?

He cursed his memory and glanced down at Sabine, glad she seemed to be holding up for the moment.

They would make it out alive.


Gar Saxon watched the dot’s progression on the monitor, frowning in thought.  It didn’t appear that she had noticed the tracker yet. She must have been either unconscious or incoherent; maybe a mix of both.  She and her brother were most likely still together; the girl couldn’t be moving that fast on her own. Still….

The Empire wanted her alive.  And he wasn’t one to disappoint.

The boy, however….He was a different matter.

Kryze was offering a bounty on him, one that he might be able to collect on, but he wasn’t particularly fond of giving the former regent of Mandalore anything she wanted.  And if the Empire found out he was dealing behind their back….

No.  No, he couldn’t collect on Kryze’s bounty.  But he would dispose of the Wren boy— his way.

Chapter Text

They were nearly at the landing pad.

Almost there.

Almost there.

He glanced down at Sabine, making sure she wasn’t tiring.  “Are you still holding up?”

She nodded.  “Of course.”

He chuckled softly.  “It’s not ‘of course,’ Sabine.  You were- you were tortured.” Because of me, he added silently.

Tristan hated himself for that.  But it was too late now. He couldn’t fix it, as much as he wanted to.

But maybe he could make up for it.

He slowed to a stop and Sabine stumbled another step ahead before stopping, glancing up at him in bewilderment.

“Is this it?”

He nodded slowly, glancing behind him.  The corridor was clear.

He punched the door controls, opening the blast door and giving one last glance back before helping Sabine through.

Tristan briefly scanned the landing pad.  The loading ramps of several of the shuttles were closed, but there were a couple with the loading ramps still open.

“That one,” he said in a low voice, pointing to the closest shuttle.  Sabine nodded. “Let’s go.”

He helped her limp across the landing platform, glancing back periodically.  The way was still clear.

Halfway there Sabine hissed a warning, “Tristan!”

It was the only warning he got.

Blasterfire was suddenly raining down on them from somewhere up above.  He pulled his blaster, turning to shoot in the direction the charges were coming from.

Snipers.

Their assailants continued to fire and he heard Sabine firing her WESTARs from behind him; she must have gotten her hands loose of the binders.

They continued to slowly move toward the shuttle, but he couldn’t support Sabine as much now that he was shooting.

He had no idea how she was managing to stand and shoot anyway.

They still had another five meters left.  A lethal charge narrowly missed Tristan’s arm as he glanced back to check on Sabine.  She was still holding up, but barely.

“Go!  I’ll cover you!” he shouted over his shoulder.

“What about—“

“Sabine, go!

She continued to move back toward the shuttle and he moved with her, turning so she was facing the shuttle and he was facing outward.

A shot hit his jetpack and sparks flew.  He ducked, stumbling briefly as the small explosion put him off-balance.

They reached the edge of the loading ramp and he tossed the medkit and bottle of caf pills up it as Sabine stumbled into the ship.  He glanced back in time to see her turn back to face him.

“Tristan!”

“Your Inquisitor, he’s on the Lawbringer!  It’s en route to Coruscant!” he shouted.

Tristan!

“Go!  I'll cover you; I can get another shuttle!”  He ducked as another bolt whizzed past.

“I’m not—“

Yes, you are.  Now go!”

She fell silent and he heard the closing mechanisms on the ramp start.

A few precious seconds later it was taking off.

Several of the Supercommandos focused their fire on it, but most concentrated their fire on Tristan.

Once the shuttle was safely off of the landing platform, Tristan began to fight with renewed vigor, pulling out the blaster the guard had left in the interrogation room earlier.

He fought with both blasters, though he had never been as proficient with two at a time as Sabine and his mother had been.

He spotted the all-too-familiar armor of Saxon in particular and started aiming specifically for him.

“Your home is destroyed, boy!  Your father is dead, your sister soon will be, you will be next, and we will find your mother soon enough and kill her as well!” Saxon called.

Tristan’s brow furrowed as he aimed.

He pulled the trigger.

He had managed to hit one of the few weak points in the armor, near the neck.

Saxon staggered and then fell, crying out briefly before he hit the ground with a sickening crunch.

The sound was familiar, reminding him of another time, a time that was all Gar Saxon’s fault, not his sister’s.  Reminding him of flames leaping at the windows of his home.  Reminding him of the screams of his family.

He heard the soft thunk of metal hitting metal, barely audible above the rapid exchange of fire.

Glancing over, he spotted a small silver ball with a rapidly blinking red light a few feet away.

She is not aruetyc.

She’ll be safe.

The detonator went off.

Chapter Text

As soon as the loading ramp closed, she knew she wouldn’t see him again.

Sabine’s eyes grew misty as she tried to focus on piloting and staying conscious.  No use escaping just to die in a crash.

Die.

Tristan would die, would already be dead if he hadn’t been captured again.

And she had just abandoned him.

Mando’ade do not cry.

Shakily she turned on the comm channel on the shuttle, turning it to Chopper’s channel.  She just hoped she remembered it right.

“Chop, hey, it’s me,” she called hoarsely.  The droid beeped questioningly.

“I stole- I stole a shuttle.  Imperial. I’m coming up on the ridge; are you...are you still there?”

He beeped affirmatively.

“Coming- coming in now.  If I...if I just open the loading ramp can you fly up with- with my bag?”

He chirped and she set the shuttle to hover, stumbling to the cargo bay and opening the loading ramp.  Sabine clung to the wall, biting her lip as she waited for the astromech to appear.

Chopper appeared a few seconds later, warbling happily as he adjusted his thrusters to angle to a landing on the loading ramp.  As soon as he clanked down, Sabine hit the door controls and started back toward the cockpit.

“Could you help- help me pilot?  I...I got hurt.” Chopper warbled curiously but followed her to the cockpit, plugging into an access port to connect with the ship.

“We need to get back- back to the Phantom, ” Sabine added.  The astromech chirped and the ship’s trajectory adjusted.

She slumped back in the pilot’s seat, rubbing her forehead as she grabbed the medkit from where she’d left it on the console.  Opening it, she retrieved a bacta patch and carefully placed it over the bloodstain on her forehead from when she had first been stunned and hit the floor.

There was something- something Tristan had told her….

“Chop, can you access the...Imperial database from the shuttle?”

There was a pause before the droid warbled.

“Can you look- look up the Destroyer Lawbringer and- and it’s current coordinates?”

Chopper warbled before falling silent.

She watched the landscape slide beneath them, hoping they would manage to get to the Phantom soon.  If the ‘commandos decided to come after them….

There was a chirp several minutes later and Sabine glanced over at the droid.  His top half rotated to face her, chirping again.

“Still several parsecs from Coruscant?  Do you think we can catch up to it in the- the Phantom?

The droid shrieked in shock.

“Chopper, I- I have a friend there.  He...I- I need to help him. He saved me; now I’m saving him.”

He rotated back to face the wall and fell silent.

She took back the controls as the ship started to descend.  Scanning the ground below, she caught sight of the Phantom, which thankfully still looked untouched.

Chopper beeped a question as the landing mechanisms engaged.

“I’m not sure.  Do you think Hera would...forgive me if- if I brought her the shuttle?”

Chopper didn’t answer, and somehow that was more worrisome.

“Chop, could you dock the Phantom with the shuttle anyway?”

The droid warbled in reluctant agreement, pulling out of the access port and opening the ship.  He rolled down the ramp and out of sight.

Sabine pushed herself to her feet and stumbled to the back of the ship, grabbing the duffel and dragging it back to the cockpit.  She finally removed her helmet, setting it down before beginning to remove the rest of her armor. A few minutes later she heard a clang as Chopper docked the Phantom.  She pulled out her paints from the duffel, opening up a comm channel to Chopper as she picked up her helmet and began to paint it, fingers shaking slightly as she did so.

“Chop, we have to go to the Lawbringer.  See if you can chart- chart us a course that will intersect with their trajectory.  It- it’ll be quick, and then- and then we can leave, I promise. I’ll- I’ll get you back to your crew.”

The astromech warbled doubtfully but within a few minutes he was rolling back up the loading ramp, closing it as he did so.  The droid rolled into the cockpit, grumbling as he connected with the access port again. A few minutes later the shuttle lifted off.

Sabine inhaled deeply, continuing to paint as the connected ships headed to atmo.

As she painted, she allowed herself to cry.


 

The Ghost left hyperspace with a bang.

Hera glanced over at Kanan before glancing back at the planet.  It was a sickly, dull yellow-brown color, even more so than Lothal.

Mandalore.

“Well?”

Kanan shrugged.  “Doesn’t look very promising, but if she grew up here, then it would explain why she’s so bitter all the time.”

Hera chuckled.  “See if you can contact Chopper.  I’ll try and hone in on his location.”

Kanan nodded and pulled out his commlink, setting it to Chopper’s channel.

The door to the cockpit opened and he glanced back to see Zeb entering, raising an eyebrow as he looked out the windscreen.

“That Mandalore?”

“Yeah,” Kanan answered, turning around to look back out the windscreen as well.  Zeb approached and stopped between Kanan and Hera.

“You want us on the turrets in case things get messy?” he asked.

Hera nodded.  “Wait till I get a full lock on Chopper though.”

Kanan turned on the commlink.  “Chop? You there? We’re above Mandalore.  If you’re here, let us know.”

As Kanan had predicted, there was silence.

But only for a minute.

The comm crackled and a confused warbling came through.  Kanan handed the commlink to a furious Hera.

See One Ten Pee you take control of that ship and get back to the Ghost right now! ” she yelled.  The warbling turned into a shriek.  “I am not accepting excuses from you at the moment, Chopper!  You get the Phantom back here right now and transmit your coordinates immediately!

The channel went silent.

Hera groaned, leaning back in her chair.

Zeb and Kanan shifted uncomfortably.

A light on the console started blinking rapidly, an alarm going off somewhere else.  Kanan glanced down at it in alarm.

“Hera we’ve got incoming!”

Hera swiftly sat back up and looked over at the proximity sensors, brow furrowing in concentration.  “Imperials! We’ve got a shuttle coming in at Point Oh Eight! Zeb, Kanan, get on the turrets! I’ll try and jam their scanners, but I can’t guarantee they haven’t already seen us!”

The team split and Hera sucked in a breath, fingers rapidly dancing across the console as she saw the shuttle appear through the windscreen.  And if she could see them….

Chapter Text

A ship appeared briefly on the scanners before blipping out of existence.

She bit her lip and opened her channel to Chopper again.  “Chop, what was that? I think- think we need to get out...of here.”

The droid warbled sarcastically and Sabine sighed.  “Well thanks Chop, that helps. Just- just get us out of here; plot a course...a course to intersect with the Lawbringer.

The droid grumbled but a few seconds later the coordinates appeared on her console.  As Sabine started to plug them in, Chopper shrieked a warning.

She glanced up in time to see three charges streaking through space toward her.

Chopper!

She banked the ship hard to the right as Chopper confirmed over comm that he was inputting the coordinates.

Hurry up!

Chopper shrieked again over the comm and Sabine banked left, narrowly missing another charge.

“Chop, are there any weapons on this thing?!”

He warbled an answer and she groaned, banking around.

“Then get the weapons system on the Phantom online!”

Chopper grumbled again but soon they were shooting back.  Sabine sank back slightly in relief. “Chop, you focus on shooting; I’ll- I’ll finish the coordinates.”

He chirped affirmatively, firing another shot at the phantom ship that was still targeting them.  Sabine finished with the coordinates, throwing the lever to launch them into hyperspace. “Hang on Chop!”

The stars pulled ahead before streaking into blue.

Sabine sighed and pulled out her paints, grabbing her helmet to finish it.


 

Hera let out a yell of frustration as the shuttle jumped to hyperspace, turning on the comm channel for the rest of the Ghost.

“I think that was the Phantom and Spectre Three docked with that shuttle.  Can someone give me confirmation?”

Yeah Spectre Two, that’s what it looked like, ” Zeb replied immediately.

“Spectre One?”

Didn’t get much of a look, but I think it was.

Hera sighed loudly, rubbing her forehead.  “I’ll pull up Spectre Three’s tracker. Spectre One, did you find out where the Inquisitor Sabine was after was heading?”

Yeah, I tracked him down.  He's on the Lawbringer.”

“Is that a Destroyer?”

Yeah.

Zeb piped up.  “ Spectre Two, you still want us on the turrets?

She thought for a minute.  “Yes, just until we’ve figured out where we’re going and we’re in hyperspace.  This planet has a strong Imperial presence; I don’t want to risk a patrol stumbling upon us unprepared.”

Copy that, ” Zeb responded.

“Spectre One, can you get me the trajectory of that Destroyer?”

Yeah.  It’ll take a few minutes because of the calculations.

“Copy that.”

The line fell silent as she waited for the coordinates from Kanan.  If Hera was right, they would be there at about the same time as Sabine and Chopper would.

Once she saw that girl again, there would need to be a very important conversation.


 

Sabine left the refresher, rubbing her eye as she walked to the cockpit and picked up the bottle of caf pills and a water.  She tossed a couple of the pills back and took a drink before swallowing, coughing afterward. She reached for the bottle of painkillers before stopping, realizing she had no idea when Tristan had given her the initial dosage.  And the last thing she needed was to get sick because of an overdose.

Sighing, she set the water down and grabbed the paint and the pieces of her breastplate.  She resumed painting, thinking over the events of the past week.

Ezra and Tristan were the two names that rose to the forefront of her mind.

She growled in frustration, the brushstrokes across the armor becoming shorter and harder.  Sabine poured her frustration and grief into the armor, barely noticing as tears began to mix with the paint to make swirling whirlpools of colors.  Her painting grew more and more furious as she wept, forcing herself to forget the name that shouldn’t have been spoken, to forget the brother that shouldn’t have been so accepting of her after what she had done.

She forged all this into her armor.

Sabine barely thought as she painted.  As colors spilled out onto the beskar alloy, she realized numbly that everything was different than she had first thought.  The Empire was not the way she had thought it was. The Inquisitorius was not the way she had thought it was.

Most of all, she was not the person she had thought she was.

As her choked sobs slowed, she pulled back from the armor and blinked back tears to actually see what she had painted.

The results weren’t surprising, for the most part, given that she hadn’t been paying much attention to it while she had painted.

But the small, fire-orange starbird at the top of her left breastplate was a surprise.

But still a welcome one.

She smiled, sniffing, then proceeded to put the paints away.

The torture must have gotten to her more than she had originally thought for her to even be considering what she was thinking of.

In the middle of the storm, maybe there was hope.

And now it was time to find the Inquisitor.

To find Ezra.

Chapter Text

The shuttle lifted off, and he still had no idea why his master wasn’t accompanying them.

He felt a mixture of relief and apprehension.  If his master wasn’t here, that could only mean things would get worse once he returned.

That they would get worse on Mustafar.

He shuddered as the ‘troopers roughly pulled him to his feet, nearly dislocating his shoulder as he bit back a cry.  He stumbled forward, glancing around as they shoved him out of the shuttle. He needed to figure out how far they were from Mustafar.

Once they were off the shuttle, he turned to the ‘trooper on his right.  Both ‘troopers tightened their grips on him.

“How far are we from M--” he asked quietly.

“Quiet,” the ‘trooper cut him off, shoving him again.

Without warning he pulled his arm out of the other ‘trooper’s grasp and turned to face the one on his right, shoving his grip off as well.  He opened one of his hands as far as he could through the binders, beginning to clench it as the stormtrooper was lifted up.

“How.  Far. Are.  We. From. Mustafar.   I won’t ask again, ” he growled.

The ‘trooper managed to choke out, “I- I don’t know, ask someone on the bridge,” before he dropped him, turning and glaring at the other ‘troopers.

“I’m going to the bridge.  If any of you try to stop me, you’ll- you’ll be killed.”

He had rarely killed outside of training.

But he told himself that he could do it, if he had to.

He turned away from the stormtroopers, walking forward and toward the bridge and trying to get rid of his limp as he did so.

Thankfully, none of them attempted to stop him.  At the moment, at least.

Once he was in the repulsorlift he allowed himself to sag against the wall, his leg trembling underneath him.

He briefly debated stopping at the med bay and getting a bandage, but shook his head abruptly as he ultimately decided against it.  Going to the bridge was already going to get him in enough trouble. He didn’t need more proof that he was weak.

The lift reached the bridge and he stepped off, calling a non-existent ‘saber to his cuffed hands before he remembered it had broken.

He had been weaponless before.  Admittedly in training, but wasn’t the whole purpose of that to prepare him for situations such as this?

No one looked at him until he was in the middle of the bridge.  A couple of the officers looked up from the trenches running below the command walkway.

Their eyes widened.

“Admiral,” he called.  The admiral, who had been speaking to a few lower-ranking officers, turned.

Konstantine.  He recognized the man from one of the footnotes on Sabine’s file; he had been the admiral of the Destroyer she had been assigned to before being reassigned to Lothal.

He must have been transferred, because as far as he knew, he wouldn’t have been brought to the Relentless.

“In- Inquisitor.  I was not expecting—“

“How long until Mustafar?” he growled.

The admiral’s face registered more surprise than before, if possible.  “Why—“

He felt the presence behind him a half second before the lift opened.  He turned, eyes narrowing as half a squad of troopers fanned out around another figure.  In the five seconds it took him to place the officer, the stormtroopers had already started shooting.  He managed to avoid most of the shots, but without his ‘saber he was mostly defenseless.

He wasn’t all that surprised when one of the stun charges hit his chest, dropping him.

He remained conscious, albeit barely, as the officer approached.  Grand Moff Tarkin. If he had known this was the Sovereign , maybe he would’ve been a little more careful.

“I don’t think your master would be very pleased with you, Inquisitor,” Tarkin said calmly, approaching slowly as two of the ‘troopers dragged him up by the arms.

“Not everything I do is to please him,” he responded in a low tone.  The moff rolled his eyes, gesturing to the ‘troopers.

“Take him to his cell.  Triple the guard; we don’t want him getting loose again.”

He grunted as the ‘troopers dragged him forward, shooting Tarkin a glare as he passed the officer.  The moff wrinkled his nose.


 

They jolted out of hyperspace, and Sabine’s eyes were immediately drawn to the massive Destroyer filling nearly the whole viewport.

“Chop, you can undock the Phantom now; make- make sure to jam their scanners.  I’ll go in alone, but see if you can dock somewhere nearby so I can get- get out, okay?”

The droid beeped affirmatively and a moment later she heard the sound of the smaller transport disengaging.

Sabine inhaled and exhaled slowly.  This was it.

As she got closer to the Lawbringer , a request came over the shuttle’s comms to ask for clearance codes.  She transmitted them as a pair of TIEs approached, circling the ship as it made its approach.

Cleared for entry, shuttle SW-121617.  You may dock in hangar bay three.

“Thanks.”

She sighed in relief, adjusting the ship’s trajectory to head for the hangar.  She landed, exhaling again as she double checked the power cells in her blasters before putting her armor on.

She slipped on the helmet, and the look was complete.

It wasn’t anywhere near inconspicuous, but anyone wearing Mando armor on a Destroyer wouldn’t be inconspicuous anyway.  Might as well help the image.

She holstered both WESTARs and went to the loading ramp, exhaling slowly as she hit the release for the ramp.

This was it.

She had a very low chance of getting out alive, but once she found the Inquisitor, that chance would hopefully raise.

She had given Chopper orders to take the Phantom and head back to the rest of Hera’s crew if she didn’t return in under three hours; that meant things would have most likely gone south.  She left the choice up to him as to whether or not to attempt to bring his crew back in a rescue attempt if that ended up being the case, though she highly doubted they would, even if the astromech made a case for her.

No matter.

She could do this herself.

The ramp hit the floor of the hangar with a clang and Sabine took another breath before walking down it.

Here goes nothing.

Chapter Text

No one had noticed her exit.

Not yet, at least.

Sabine closed the shuttle before darting behind a cluster of several TIEs.  Heart pounding, she listened for the sound of footsteps.

Thankfully, there were none.

Inhaling deeply, she removed the safety on both of her WESTARs before unholstering them and slowly began to make her way across the hangar, running between groups of fighters or shuttles before pausing to check for ‘troopers or pilots.

Nobody had noticed her yet.

She made it to the hangar’s exit and glanced around before sprinting out and to the corner, slowing to check around it briefly before continuing again.

She needed to find a terminal.  If she found a terminal, she could access it, maybe check where Ezra’s cell was.

And then she could free him.

She checked the next corner before running down the corridor, slowing as she reached a terminal.  Sabine quickly holstered her WESTARs. She pulled her helmet off, setting it on the ground and pushing her hair back.  She sliced the terminal and hurriedly brought up the cell records.

Inquisitor: Transferred to the Sovereign

What?

She checked the hangar reports.  There were a few shuttles scheduled to leave in the next few hours, though one had a still-undetermined departure time.  Now just for the shuttles and transports that had left in the last 48 hours….

Outbound Shuttle SW-052518, Destination: Sovereign

That was it.

Sabine scanned the departure times.  The shuttle in question had left about eight hours ago.

The information in the database on Mandalore must have been outdated.

And now she needed to get herself onto another Star Destroyer.


 

Dem was scrubbing at the top of his TIE, somewhat angrily, when he heard running footsteps accompanied by his name yelled by Jera.  He looked up, rubbing sweat off his forehead with a grease-stained hand as the young woman stopped at the foot of his TIE.

“What is it, Jera?”

“I got news about your girl.”

Sabine.  A mixture of hope that she was okay and pent-up anger that she truly was an enemy of the Empire now roared in his chest.  “She’s not my girl.”

Jera smirked, rolling her eyes.  “Whatever. Everyone already knows she is.  Just get down here.”

He didn’t bother denying the claim; it had a degree of truth to it anyway.  Dem obeyed, carefully crawling to the edge of the dome of the TIE and climbing onto the ladder leading to the ground.  Dem skipped the last step and turned. Jera held out a datapad, already starting to speak as he skimmed the contents.

“They had her in custody on Mandalore for a couple days and tried to get information from her or her brother somehow; it’s confusing.  You know Mandos; they don’t use the standard shorthand protocol, so I couldn’t make out all of it. Anyway, she managed to get out. They’re not sure where she is now.  Just thought you’d like to know she’s still alive and out there.”

He nodded slowly, brows knitting together as he tried to make sense of the mix of Basic and Mando’a terms that made up the report.  He finally gave up and handed the datapad back. “Thanks.”

She nodded.

“Once they find her again, she’ll be sent to reconditioning or something?”  Dem left it as a question, though he was sure he already knew the answer.

Jera nodded solemnly again.  “Of course. I doubt they’ll reassign her here, though.  She’s proved this assignment is a bit too...difficult for her to handle.”

He decided not to defend Sabine at the moment, but something else was pressing him.  “And the rebel cell? We haven’t seen any sign of them for a cycle or two now either.”

The other pilot shrugged.  “I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wren’s working with them now.”

He silently doubted it but decided not to press the issue.  “Alright. Thanks again, Jera. Let me know if you hear anything else.”

“Of course,” the pilot nodded.

As she left with the datapad, he mulled over the information.

Sabine wasn’t working with them.  Of course she wasn’t. But if she had been working with the Inquisitor-gone-rogue, nothing was impossible.

He took a deep breath.  He knew that if it came down to it, he would have to make a choice.

He just hoped he would make the right one.


 

Sabine sighed, biting her lip and bracing her hands on either side of the terminal.  Right. Get off the Destroyer, and then she could figure out how to get onto the Sovereign.

A sudden chill gripped her heart.  Wasn’t the Sovereign Tarkin’s Destroyer?

She sighed again and felt for her WESTARs, beginning to remove them.

The chill increased.

“Ah, Lieutenant Wren.”

She whirled, pulling a blaster shakily as she felt for the other one.

The WESTAR wouldn’t come out.

Swallowing, she cocked the blaster she already had out.

The older Inquisitor continued toward her slowly.  She silently cursed herself for not keeping a closer watch on that corner.  If she had just made sure—

“I am going to assume that you won’t come quietly, so I have already taken the liberty of procuring ‘troopers.”

He was still advancing slowly toward her.

Too slowly.

She could risk shooting him now, but if he was right then there was at least one squad of stormtroopers on their way.

Still, she had to try.

She fired a couple of charges in quick succession and turned, bolting as she heard a grunt and an order to, “Get her!”

Sabine stumbled as she fled, still fumbling with the other holster.  Finally she got the blaster out and shot a few charges behind her as she skidded around a corner.

After several more turns she slowed, breathing hard as she leaned against the wall.  Distantly she heard orders being yelled and stormtroopers running, but thankfully none of it was near her.

And then the klaxons started to blare.

Oh kriff.

She continued to breathe heavily and hold her WESTARs in a ready position up by her chest.

She had left her helmet at the terminal.

She cursed again, this time in a voice so quiet it was barely more than a breath.

Blast doors further down the hall started to close.

She cast them a furtive glance before pushing off from the wall and stumbling into a run down another corridor.  She continued rounding corners, heading away from the closing blast doors.

She skidded to a stop as she saw the Inquisitor.

A scorch mark now marred the Paul drone with the Imperial cog, half obscuring the symbol from view.  The Pau’an advanced toward her slowly, casually swinging his lightsaber with one end ignited in one hand while holding her helmet loosely in the other.

She turned on her heel and ran the other way, turning a corner and stopping against the wall.  She put her back to it and brought both blasters up in a ready position once again.

He continued to walk down the hall, getting closer and closer.

She wasn’t going to make it out of here in one piece.

But she would kriffing try.

Chapter Text

He rounded the corner and she started shouting.  The Pau’an Inquisitor deftly blocked and dodged each blow before sighing dramatically.  He dropped her helmet and she spared a quick glance at it before continuing to fire.

And suddenly she couldn’t breathe.

She dropped her WESTARs, grabbing at her throat as a vise-like pressure tightened around it, slowly lifting her off the floor.

Sabine struggled, kicking out and glaring at the Inquisitor.  The edges of her vision started to go fuzzy as she kicked out.

Should’ve warned Chopper….

She was slammed against the wall, her head taking the brunt of the blow.

Her vision went black as she slumped to the ground.


 

“Uh, Hera?  You might wanna come see this,” Zeb called.

Hera stood from her seat in the cockpit and exited, walking to the common room.  Zeb was sitting on the couch behind the dejarik table while Kanan stood off to the side.  Both were intently watching the holoprojector broadcast.

...recent turn of events, former Imperial Flight Lieutenant and now fugitive Sabine Wren has escaped custody from Sundari Prison.  The former heir of the now-dissolved Clan Wren and Sabine’s older brother, Tristan Wren, was executed as part of a failed rescue attempt on their father.  As part of the younger Wren’s escape, she shot and killed upwards of ten guards. She also blew up a large portion of the landing pad outside the prison, causing many more civilian and Imperial casualties, including that of the Emperor’s Hand, Gar Saxon.  His successor is his brother, the well-known Tiber Saxon.

The broadcast switched from the red Imperial cog to a holovid of a narrow-faced blonde man.

Sabine Wren will be found, and she will be captured.  We will exact justice on this traitor for the murders of our people.

The holovid switched to a blurry, zoomed-in holoimage, apparently from surveillance footage, of a ragged-looking Sabine with dyed hair.  She appeared to be unconscious, though Hera couldn’t tell for sure.

The voice of the woman from before returned.  “ It is believed the fugitive escaped in an Imperial shuttle—

“I knew it!  I knew there was somethin’ about that shuttle—“

“Shh, Zeb!” Hera replied quickly, gaze still intent on the broadcast.

If you’ve seen Sabine Wren or have any information regarding her whereabouts, please contact your local Imperial garrison.  Remember, your Empire is counting on you….

Kanan leaned down and switched the holoprojector off.  “So? What’re we doing? It’s your call, Hera.”

“I...I say we go after her.  We need to figure out that shuttle’s trajectory, and then we can—“

An alert came from the cockpit and Hera half-turned.

“I’ll go see what that was, then we can finish this conversation,” she called over her shoulder, walking back to the cockpit.  Reaching the console, she looked down, her brow furrowed. She heard Kanan’s footsteps behind her but didn’t turn to address him.  “It’s a transmission.”

“Well?  Are we gonna patch it through?”

“Might as well.  I’ll make our side untraceable, give me a minute.”  She typed away at the console for a moment before standing back, pressing a few more buttons as she rose fully and folded her arms.  Zeb entered the cockpit.

There was a warbling beeping sound and Hera’s eyes widened in disbelief.  “Chopper? Is—“

The droid cut her off, warbling more.  Her eyes narrowed.

“See One Ten Pee, I’m not hearing another word from your modulator until you explain why you’ve been ignoring my comms!  Is Sabine Wren with you?”

The droid warbled an answer in the negative before elaborating.

“What do you mean, she’s in trouble?  Do you think I give a—“

He beeped and warbled again and Hera glanced worriedly at Kanan before glancing back at the console.

“Captured?  How do you know?”

He started to beep but Hera cut him off.

“Oh, so you only think she’s been captured, just because she missed a checkpoint?  And what are we supposed to do about that?”

The astromech shrieked before warbling for an extended period.  This time it was Kanan who held up a hand to cut the droid off.

“Chop, look.  We don’t have the time, resources, or motivation to go after some ex-TIE figh—“

Chopper shrieked loudly before warbling.

“She went after the Inquisitor?! ” Hera yelled.  “Chopper, I hope you know we are definitely not going after her.  Now I’ll transmit my coordinates, and you can bring the Phantom right bac—“

Chopper warbled loudly before huffing.  The transmission cut off and Hera slammed a hand against the console, cursing.

“Hera, we’re not goin’ after Chopper...right?” Zeb asked hesitantly after a moment.

“I think we have to, Zeb.  He can be traced back to us if they’re smart enough.  So…” Hera sighed. “Yes. Yes, we are.”

I’m gonna kill that pilot when I get my hands on her.

Chapter Text

He glanced up as the cell door opened.  The figures were silhouetted by the bright lights of the hall at first, though with the chill he was feeling he already knew who one of them was.

The older Inquisitor dragged the second figure down the steps by their collar.  He heard a grunt as the figure was shoved down the last step, falling to their side with a cry of pain.

He recognized her with a jolt.

It was Sabine.  And her hands were in binders.

Don’t react.

His eyes flicked from her to his master.  The Pau’an descended the steps, the door closing behind him as the beginnings of a cruel smile began to trace his lips.

“You already know Lieutenant Wren of course, Apprentice.  Now, would you like to explain her significance to you?”

Sabine started to push herself to a sitting position, grunting softly.  The Inquisitor spared her a cursory glance before returning his attention to him.

“You have one minute.”

His throat tightened.  He shoved up every mental shield he had, bracing himself for the assault on his mind that he knew with a certainty was coming.

He forced himself not to look at Sabine.

“Time’s up, ” his master said sharply.

He braced himself once more—just in time, too, as his master threw attacks at his shields.  He sucked in a short breath, gasping at the sheer velocity of the blows he was being dealt. Image after image was slammed into his mind, wedged into and through the shield until all he saw were his parents, the lightsaber, the glow of that blade he hated so much as it killed them over and over and over again— it’s your own fault, you should’ve tried harder and listened better and run faster, run so fast it wouldn’t have mattered if they’d died because then you’d be too far away to know or care that more blood was on your hands—

The attacks ceased suddenly and he gasped again, breathing in short, heavy breaths as he found himself dry heaving onto the floor on hands and knees.

Weak, pathetic child.

He had let his shields down long enough for the voice to slip through, that horrible snake of a voice.  He shoved it out, replacing the shields quickly and continuing to gasp for breath.

He finally managed to compose himself enough to risk a shaky glance up at his master.

The look he was met with made him wish he hadn’t.

“You’ve improved your shields, however insignificant the degree by which you have done so is.  But you should have thought through what that will cost you.” There was a glint in his master’s eye that made him shudder as a fresh wave of nausea roared up.  He vomited again.

Pathetic. ”  A boot connected with his side and he cried out, hands splaying despite the binders in an attempt to keep from collapsing further.

“Wh—“

He heard Sabine’s cry before he turned to look at her.  The pilot had been knocked back to the ground, wincing as she slowly pushed herself back up to a sitting position to shoot his master a glare.

“Sabine, don’t,” he muttered in a low tone.

She glared at him as well but remained silent as his master looked between the two of them, observing with a raised eyebrow and a faint smirk played on his lips.

Too late, he recognized his master’s slight probe at his emotions.

“So you have a fondness for her, then.”

He felt a hot blush rise in his cheeks, and a slight glance at Sabine revealed her own cheeks tinged pink as well.  “No, I- I don’t.”

There was a surge of Force energy as he was pushed onto his side.  Wincing, he pushed himself up onto an elbow.

“Don’t bother lying to me, boy,” his master hissed.  “It will only make what you endure in the coming days worse.”

He sucked in a shaky breath, lowering his gaze.

Of the growing list of things he regretted doing, bringing Sabine into this was nearing the top.


 

Chopper chortled to himself and the empty shuttle as he hung up on Hera.

It had been a skillful move, in his opinion.  The droid’s logic circuits were pretty sure that Sabine was helpful (and that she was higher in Chopper’s circuits’ internalized “Order of Importance to the Continued Functioning of Self” list than Zeb), to an extent, and his logic circuits were also sure that Hera would not go after the former TIE pilot herself.

Conclusion?

His logic circuits had only whirred for a few seconds before coming to the logical conclusion—he would have to find some way to make Hera go after Sabine.  He didn’t even bother running the probabilities himself; he knew that they would not come out favorably no matter what variables he put in.  But by adding Hera, Kanan, Zeb (as useless as the droid reasoned he was), and the Ghost to the equation….

The odds still weren’t good, but his logic circuits reasoned that they were significantly improved.

And with better probabilities, the astromech also reasoned that he would have a decent chance at rescuing Sabine, and thus improving his chances of continuing to function.

The droid continued to chortle as he calculated the trajectory of the shuttle that had left a few hours before.

Chapter Text

Sabine watched Ezra from across the cell.  The boy had been huddled in the corner, knees pulled up to his chest as he rocked back and forth, for what must have been a few hours by now.  The Pau’an Inquisitor had left some time ago; she wasn’t really sure when. Ezra had taken the brunt of his anger, but Sabine had taken several hits as well.

More and more, she was beginning to dislike this Force thing.  She understood now why her people disliked the Jedi so much.

The small, sentimental part of Sabine wanted to comfort Ezra somehow, but she didn’t know how.

So she remained in her own corner, carefully watching him.

After several minutes, the boy raised his head, sniffing.  Had he been crying?

“I’m s- sorry I dragged you into this,” he sniffed.  “I- I didn’t know he would—“

She shook her head, cutting him off.  “It’s fine,” she answered, her voice still hoarse from the events on Mandalore.  “I was already coming after you.”

His brow furrowed as bewilderment swept across his face.  “Why? No one- I’m an- an Inquisitor—“

“You saved my life.  I wanted to return the favor.”

He was still confused, but she didn’t know what other explanation to offer.  Finally he replied, “You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yes, I did.   Mando’ad draar digu.

“I don’t...speak Mando’a,” he said slowly.

Of course he didn’t.  “A Mandalorian never forgets,” she translated.  “And now we’re going to get out of here.”

“How?  I don’t have my ‘s- ‘saber and he- he took your blasters.”

Sabine smirked faintly as she answered.  “Those were only the beginning of my weapons.”


“‘Trooper!  I demand a cell transfer!”

LS-1021 glanced over at his companion, sighing.  “Here we go again.”

“I’m stuck in here with this- with this Inquisitor and he’s—“

He sighed again and went ahead and opened the door.  There were more than enough guards a few meters down the hall to deal with the Inquisitor and the Mandalorian if it turned out that they did need reinforcements.

What LS-1021 was not expecting, however, was the sudden silence that greeted him.

He and the other guards had been warned that the Mando might attempt to escape, but if he was being honest, she did have a right to ask for a cell transfer; putting a former TIE pilot (even if she reportedly was a murderer) with an Inquisitor (especially a male one) was against so many regulations he didn’t even bother counting.

Not that the Inquisitorius paid much attention to regulations.

He walked down the first couple of steps as the door closed behind him, glancing around cautiously.  “Lieutenant? Inquisitor?”

There was a faint clatter from the ceiling and he glanced up.

The last thing he saw before he was knocked to the floor was a pair of glinting golden eyes.


 

Ezra dropped onto the ‘trooper, kicking him in the head.  The stormtrooper promptly fell.

“Now!” Sabine hissed.  Ezra got to his feet and Sabine followed him as they started up the small staircase.  Ezra held out a hand, stopping her as they waited with bated breath for the door to open again.

“LS-1021?  Is everything alright in there?”

Ezra lowered his voice, trying to make it deeper as he had when Sabine had first met him at the Lothal garrison.  “Uh, I might need some help in here.”

“Need me to call for reinforcements before I come in?”

“No, no, I’m good, I just need someone else.”  Sabine bit her lip.

There was no way the other stormtrooper was going to buy this.

There was a moment’s hesitation before the door slid open and the other ‘trooper started to enter.  Sabine charged first, kicking out before ramming her shoulder against the ‘trooper.

“What the—“

Ezra quickly followed, splaying his hands slightly.  It was apparently a big enough gesture to be able to pull the man into the cell and slam him against the back wall.  He slumped to the ground, unconscious.

“Sabine, disable their comms.  I’ll- I’ll take care of the rest,” Ezra ordered.  He turned and charged up the remaining steps and through the doorway before it closed again.

Within moments Sabine heard the sound of screams coming from outside the cell, along with the clatter of several blasters dropping to the ground.

Sabine got to work on the ‘trooper’s helmets, removing them and trying to figure out how to disable the commlinks with her hands still in binders.  Sighing, she ended up standing and just stepping on the internal workings of each helmet.

It seemed to work; the comm chatter on each went dead.

The door slid open once more, Ezra gesturing wildly.  His binders appeared to be gone, but she couldn’t make out much detail aside from that; he was silhouetted in the light of the hallway.  “All clear!”

She hurried up the steps before the door slid shut again.  Sabine glanced around the hall. All the ‘troopers had been either knocked unconscious or killed.

Ezra was good.

Finally she returned her gaze to him, a compliment forming before the words died on her lips.  There were two long marks on his cheek. Both seemed fresh and neither had scabbed over yet. It had been too dark in the cell for her to notice.

“Your- your face, what happened?” she asked haltingly, reaching her cuffed hands up to touch the marks but stopping and lowering them when he flinched away.

“It’s- it’s nothing.  Just...it’s fine,” he answered quietly, shaking his head in dismissal.  “Here. Your binders—let me get them off.”

She nodded and held up her hands again.  The Inquisitor picked up a fallen blaster and aimed it at the binders, careful not to hit Sabine as he pulled the trigger.  The binders fell off and she relaxed slightly, shaking her hands and rubbing circulation back into her wrists. “Thanks.”

He nodded and turned, starting to walk a few feet away before stopping.  He stopped again, retrieving another blaster and tossing it wordlessly to Sabine.  She caught it, double checked the power cells, and began to follow him.

“You have a plan?”

“Uh...not really?  I didn’t expect to get out at all, unless- unless it was because we were arriving on Mustafar,” the boy admitted, scratching his neck and glancing back to offer Sabine a sheepish grin.

She sighed.  “Okay then, we’ll get to the hangar, steal a shuttle, and go somewhere?” she suggested.

Ezra shrugged before finally nodding his assent.  “Seems good enough to me.”

“We have to get my blasters first.  They took my gauntlets, vambraces, and helmet too, and my jetpack,” Sabine added.  Ezra shot her a questioning look, but followed her as she made her way to where she thought the detention block’s storage area was.  On the Relentless, that was were most of the prisoners’ personal items that were confiscated were brought.  Reaching it, she waited for Ezra to unlock the door—probably with the Force—before entering.  It was unguarded, thankfully, and she was able to find her blasters, vambraces, gauntlets, jetpack, and helmet easily enough before exiting again, bolstering both blasters as she put her helmet on.  She quickly slid the gauntlets and vambraces on before sliding the jetpack on, not missing Ezra’s glance as she bent to put the extra blaster down. She debated shooting him a glare but ultimately decided against it.

“This way.”

Sabine strode ahead, leading the way to the nearest hangar.  If her memory was correct, that would be...this way. She made a left, and they continued.


 

The Grand Inquisitor watched the surveillance monitor in silence before slowly turning to the admiral.  “You said you believed your ‘troopers were the best, didn’t you?” he said slowly.

Konstantine nodded quickly.  “Y- yes, I- I did, sir.”

“Then tell me,” he began, matching slowly toward the quaking officer, “why a pilot and a mere boy are currently running toward the dorsal hangar.”

“In- in all fairness, Inquisitor, Lieutenant Wren does not fall under your area of exper—“

“The girl is no longer under your jurisdiction, Admiral.  Since becoming involved with my apprentice, she is now the Inquisitorius’s responsibility.  But don’t worry. She will be returned to the Navy for re-education, once she has served her purpose.”  The Pau’an turned back to the surveillance monitors.

“Unharmed?” Konstantine had the gall to ask.

“...mostly.”


 

Maybe bringing her into his mess of a life had been a good idea.

Sabine was already proving her usefulness; without her, he would not have managed to escape on his own.  The realistic part of him reminded him that he still wasn’t all the way out, that they weren’t even to the hangar yet, but since when had he listened to that?

Sabine had also dyed her hair, most likely in an attempt to disguise herself.  He wanted to compliment her on it, but just the thought of doing so and admitting how he felt about it made his cheeks burn.  So he didn’t. It could wait until later.

The Force suddenly whispered a warning and he caught Sabine’s arm, pulling her back to a stop quickly.  She turned to glare at him, opening her mouth to no doubt fire a retort as he swiftly clamped a hand over it.

“There’s somebody up ahead,” he whispered, nodding to the corridor ahead of them.  She reached out a hand and quickly yanked his hand off of her mouth but nodded assent.

“Do you know how many?”

He shook his head.  “We should go a different way.”

She nodded in agreement and they turned right in unspoken unison, sprinting down that corridor despite the burning pain in his chest and bad leg.

They were getting out of here no matter what.

And it would be together.

The Force continued to whisper warnings on occasion and he would grab Sabine’s hand long enough to get her attention and switch directions.  Without warning she stopped and he slowed, glancing at her in confusion. The Force hadn’t warned him of anything.

“What is it?”

“It’s a dragnet.  They’re running us into the engine room.”  Her eyes flicked worriedly from the corridor to his.  “It’s a death trap.”

Engine room?

He had an idea.  Not a good one, by any means, but it was still an idea.

He nodded slowly.  “I’ve got a plan.”

Chapter Text

He walked into the engine room alone.

Immediately his instincts yelled for him to leave, screamed that there was another, much more powerful Force-sensitive in the room with him who was also much more trained in the Dark Side than he was. Screamed that his master was within.

He opted to ignore his instincts, however.

He strode confidently onto one of the catwalks, ignoring the growing urge to glance down at the nearly bottomless drop. He would be fine. The plan would work.

It had to.

“Apprentice.”

He turned slightly to see his master on a catwalk a level above, striding in his direction with a sneer.

“Come here.”

He didn’t want to obey, but a Force pull accompanied the order, dragging him unwillingly toward the Pau’an before stopping, freezing him in place. His blaster was yanked out of his hand, skidding across the catwalk and teetering on the edge before finally stopping, thankfully remaining on the catwalk. The Pau’an jumped down, landing lightly a few meters from him. The sneer gradually started to become a cold smile as his master approached.

He hadn’t counted being held in place with the Force as part of the plan.

His master reached him. “Why are you running?” his master asked softly, cupping his chin with a hand and forcing him to make eye contact. He swallowed silently, glaring without responding.

“This will only make things harder on Mustafar. I had hoped that you would be able to be re-inducted into the Inquisitorius, as you had showed so much promise, but it looks like I was wrong about you.” The Pau’an sighed dramatically, tightening his grip ever so slightly. “You really are a coward.”

You are not a coward.

“I should have been able to see it from the beginning, I suppose. You always did shy away from combat training, and you never had any interest in what most of the other initiates did.” His master sighed again, tracing a cold finger along his chin. “My master always said I should have expected as much from the son of the Bridgers. Do you know how they screamed for you when they died? If it wasn’t for that, I might’ve been able to enjoy their deaths. I told them what became of you after they abandoned you, and they were rather surprised. Of course their little Ezra Bridger wouldn’t help the Empire. But look where you are now.”

His breath hitched and became rattling.

He trembled slightly, squeezing his eyes shut.

He’s lying. They- they wouldn’t have done that.

“Of course, I wouldn’t have had any cause to kill them if it wasn’t for you. They’d been very useful to the Empire, giving us piece of information after piece of information.” He opened his eyes enough to watch as his master’s cold smile grew. The man leaned in slightly closer. “But everyone serves their purpose eventually, and must be discarded of accordingly. Including you.”

There was a faint nudge in the Force right before a blaster charge went off. It whizzed over his master’s shoulder, nearly hitting his own ear as the enraged Pau’an let go of his chin and turned.

Sabine stood at the end of the walkway, firing more charges as she strode toward them. The Mandalorian still had her helmet on, no doubt using the internal targeting mechanisms. So far none of her shots had hit either of them, but once he was able to get out of the way she would be able to hit the Pau’an without fear of hitting him as well.

His master whirled back to face him, his golden eyes angrier than he had ever seen them. He swallowed hoarsely.

“You will pay for this, boy, once I have finished with the girl. And make no mistake about that—you will regret this,” he snarled, whipping back around to face Sabine as he started to march toward her. He called his lightsaber to his hand and ignited both blades, starting the spin function as he approached Sabine.

And he was still frozen.

One of the bolts Sabine had fired was deflected back at her, hitting her on her right shoulder. She cried out, stumbling but managing to keep her hold on both her blasters.

He forced himself to move. Willed himself not to be stuck like this, because that meant death for Sabine and torture for him. Forced first his right foot, then his right hand, then his left foot, to move.

Suddenly the invisible grip on him released and he gasped before hearing Sabine’s cry.

His master had turned off the spin function on his lightsaber and was now choking her, raising her in the air with the Force. She gagged, dropping one of her blasters but managing to hold onto the other one as she clawed at her throat.

You’re not hurting her.

He threw out a hand, shoving his master off balance with the Force long enough for him to lose concentration and let go of Sabine. She collapsed to the floor of the catwalk, coughing. His master turned to face him, a faint smile beginning to curl on the edge of his lips.

“How touching,” the Pau’an smirked.

“You really do care about her.” His smile twisted into a sneer. “I thought all that had been stamped out of you a long time ago. It seems I was wrong.”

“Yes, I care about her. I- I can care about people if I want to. You and the rest of the Inquisitorius couldn’t get rid of that, not all the way,” he said firmly.

You just sealed your fate.

His master’s sneer turned into a snarl as he began to take slow steps back toward him. “Careful, boy. You should watch what you say.”


Sabine coughed weakly again and shakily pushed herself onto hands and knees.

Blinking, she made out the form of the Pau’an Inquisitor approaching Ezra.

Ezra.

Ezra, who had drawn the attention off of her.

Without warning he started screaming.

She jolted up further, forcing herself to stand up slowly. She wavered, nearly falling off the catwalk as she took a cautious step forward.

The older Inquisitor didn’t appear to be doing anything outwardly to Ezra, but the boy had collapsed to his knees and was continuing to scream. She began to be able to make out his words; he seemed to be screaming...her name?

She didn’t think, just cocked her remaining blaster and fired.

Ezra continued to scream before stopping abruptly.

The Pau’an Inquisitor wavered for a moment, glancing down before turning slowly to face Sabine. She didn’t miss the smoking entry hole of the blaster charge.

“Mandalorian scu—“ he began to hiss. He started to raise a hand and the air currents around her throat begin to constrict.

He was suddenly knocked off of the catwalk.

Breathing hard, Sabine turned her attention back to Ezra. The boy had somehow been able to force himself onto his knees so he could push the Inquisitor off the catwalk. He was trying to stand, wincing as he got to one knee and nearly collapsed.

She stumbled toward him and helped him up. He glanced over the catwalk, swallowing hoarsely.

“Is he…?”

He nodded. “Yes.” Swallowing again, he nodded more vigorously. “Y- yeah, he is.”

He took a shuddering breath and finally pulled away from the precipice. He glanced at Sabine, a small smile forming.

“Thank- thank you.”

She just nodded, still panting. “We- we should go.”

He nodded in agreement, bending to pick up his blaster before nodding to the door they had come through. “You go. I’ll start messing with the engines, then I’ll join you.”

Sabine nodded quickly. “Got it. Do you want me to stay and cover for you, or—“

He shook his head, cutting her off. “No. I can- I can take care of it.” Ezra hefted the blaster grinning slightly. “I’ll join you in a minute. Go.”

Sabine nodded again before turning, forcing herself to jog despite the pain in her shoulder as she ran to the end of the catwalk. She paused where her WESTAR had fallen, grabbing it before continuing.

Reaching the door, she paused to catch her breath and glance around the corner.

Three stormtroopers.

Three charges, if she was careful.

She smiled to herself and cocked both WESTARs.


The Ghost pulled out of hyperspace, and Hera spotted the Phantom out of the windscreen immediately.

She turned on the channel linked to Chopper and the droid let out a questioning warble. She sighed, glancing at Kanan in the copilot’s seat. “Yes, Chopper, we’re here. Now do you know where your friend is?”

The droid warbled a single note and dragged it out, indicating uncertainty.

Hera sighed and shook her head. “Of course you don’t.”

“Hera, we’ll fi—“

All the scanners suddenly lit up as the proximity alarms began to screech in unison. Hera’s eyes snapped back to the console as she scanned it, eyes slowly widening. “Kanan, we’ve got company! I need you and Zeb on the turrets, now!”

She flipped on the ship’s internal comms.

“Spectre Four, I need you and Spectre One on the turrets!”

Copy that, Spectre Two.” Kanan sprinted out of the cockpit as Hera looked back out the windscreen. The mass of shuttles, escape pods, and TIEs leaving the Destroyer ahead of them almost made it seem like—

The Destroyer exploded.

Of course it did.


“Coordinates!” Ezra yelled from behind her, gripping onto the back of her seat.

“I’m trying!” Sabine yelled back.

“Well then try harder!

She let out a yell of frustration and finally finished doing the calculations. “Got it!”

“Plug ‘em in!”

She hurriedly typed them in, and as soon as she was finished Ezra leaned over her shoulder and threw the lever to launch them into hyperspace.

Both of them missed the Corellian freighter and the small transport docking with it as the stars froze before streaking ahead of them.

They were free.


The Mirialan watched the transmission silently, her mask veiling her growing excitement. Her master’s mechanical breathing echoed in the empty chamber.

...has been confirmed dead, as you have probably already known for several hours now. His apprentice, a former Ezra Bridger, was the one who killed him. You and the rest of the Inquisitorius have only one task now: find this apprentice, and bring him to me.

She nodded slowly, remaining in her bow.

“Of course, Master. It will be my pleasure.”

The transmission cut off, and a smile began to creep its way across her face.

She knew the apprentice her master had been referring to, of course. But he wouldn’t make it back alive.

Not if she could help it.

 


 

 

F I N