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Heir of Darkness

Chapter Text

“So where did you send us?”

“The first planet I thought of.”

“Which is…?” Ezra trailed off, walking around from behind Sabine’s chair and plopping down in the copilot’s seat next to her.

“Lothal.”

“Lothal, of course you thought of Lothal!”

He let out a groan of frustration as Sabine raised her hands in a placating gesture.

“Hey, look, at first I thought of Mandalore, where it would end up a lot worse! At least on Lothal we have a chance of escaping notice!”

“But there are literally no other decent planets anywhere near Lothal!

Sabine huffed. “Then why didn’t you offer to do the calculations?”

Ezra opened his mouth to retort but remained silent, shutting it and facing away from her with arms crossed tightly across his chest.

She sighed and leaned back in the chair, rubbing her forehead with a hand. She needed more caf pills, and painkillers. But she also didn’t want to use up whatever amount was in the medkit; they could get injured worse and she had no idea when they would be able to purchase more medical supplies.

Speaking of which, they would need food. The water from the sink in the ‘fresher would be okay for a while, but they would need more water along with coaxium. The ship wouldn’t be able to go forever without more.

She cast a sideways glance at Ezra. The Inquisitor had curled up in the chair, hugging his knees as he faced away from her. The whole image was rather forlorn, and for the briefest of moments she debated embracing the boy.

She shook the thought from her mind. It wasn’t Mandalorian. Besides, she had already seen the Inquisitor flinch when she had almost touched him before, on the Destroyer.

And both of them needed time to come to terms with what had happened.

She exhaled and stood. “I’m going to the ‘fresher,” Sabine mumbled, remaining still for a moment to fend off the wave of dizziness that had suddenly overcome her. Ezra didn’t acknowledge that he had heard her, but as far as she could tell, he wasn’t sleeping.

She made her way to the back, slipping into the refresher and locking it. She barely made it to the toilet before her knees promptly buckled and she started vomiting.

She continued to dry heave for what felt like hours but couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before shakily standing, swaying slightly. She remained standing over the toilet for another few minutes before finally walking to the sink. She rinsed her mouth out before glancing up at the med cabinet above the sink. Maybe there were painkillers, or at least caf pills, in there.

There was a knock as she rummaged through the cabinet. Sabine pulled away and glanced at the door.

“Are- are you okay in there? You’re just taking a long time, so I wanted to make sure nothing- nothing was wrong.…” Ezra’s muffled voice trailed off awkwardly.

The Pau’an had been right. Ezra did care about her.

She brushed the thought aside for later rumination.

“Ye- yeah, I’m okay. Just...feeling a bit sick.”

“Oh.” There was a pause before he continued. “I can run and get something from the med bay, or—“

“It’s fine, I’ll- I’ll just get something when I come out,” she responded.

“O- okay.”

There was a shuffling noise and then the sound of him walking away. She allowed herself a moment to relax before continuing to search the cabinet.


Sabine left the ‘fresher’s med cabinet empty-handed several minutes later. She walked to the med bay slowly, wary of tripping. Her head had resumed pounding and everything was starting to become slightly blurry, but hopefully painkillers and a couple caf pills would help with that.

She reached the med bay and halted.

Ezra was already rummaging through one of the cabinets and he turned to face Sabine as she entered.

“Painkillers,” was the only explanation he offered as he raised a bottle. He tossed it to her and she just barely managed to catch it. “Figured that’s what you needed. I...I hope I got the bottle right; I don’t know meds very well,” he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck.

With all the injuries he has, you’d think meds would be the main thing he’s familiar with.

She checked the bottle, nodding slowly.

“Yeah, it’s right. Thanks.” Ezra nodded again and slipped out of the room, mumbling something about exploring.

Sabine took two of the pills, glancing at the chrono and mentally calculating when she could take more. Then she continued further into the room and began to search for caf pills. It took several minutes to find them, and once she did, the bottle seemed old and less-than-reliable. Better not risk it. She replaced the bottle, suppressing a yawn and rubbing her eyes as she headed back to the cockpit. The painkillers would take effect soon, and hopefully she’d be able to stay awake then.

She sunk into the pilot’s seat, sighing.

Chopper.

She needed to comm Chopper.

She sat up more and began fumbling with the console, adjusting the comm signals until it was untraceable. She set it to Chopper’s channel’s frequency and waited.

Within a few minutes the droid picked up with a questioning beep.

“Chopper, it’s Sabine. I...I got off of the Sovereign. I’m okay. I found the Inquisitor. Thanks for helping me. Did- did you make it back to your crew?”

The droid chirped affirmatively, then warbled a question. Sabine cracked a slight smile.

“Yes, yeah, I do need them. But I can wait. Or get new ones.”

He chirped.

“Yeah, I don’t know...I’ll- I’ll have to find some way to get some. Not sure how, but- but I will.” Her smile widened. “Maybe I’ll even have to get another job. Not with the Empire, I think they still hate me.”

The astromech chortled as Ezra entered the room. He glanced at the console, then at Sabine. “Who’s that?”

She glanced up and back at him. “A droid.” She turned back to the console.

“Chop, I have to go. Maybe I’ll see you again?” she added hopefully.

The droid beeped affirmatively and the transmission cut off. She turned back to Ezra.

“What droid?” he asked in curiosity. He walked past her seat to his own.

“One I met recently,” Sabine said shortly.

Ezra didn’t question her further, instead pulling something from his cloak and beginning to fiddle with it. Sabine sighed silently and turned back to the viewport.

It was going to be a long ride.

Chapter Text

He glanced over at her, concerned.

Sabine appeared to be in danger of blacking out, though she had also been that way for some time now. He had asked her what had happened before she had come to the Sovereign—clearly something had or she would be in much better shape instead of stuck in a painkiller- and exhaustion-induced haze—but all she had replied with was “Mandalore,” which wasn’t all that helpful if he wasn’t given any other context.

Checking the chrono, he realized she only had about another twenty minutes left before she could take another dosage of the painkillers.

It had to be unhealthy to take that much anyway, even if she was taking them at the right time intervals. Then again, he wasn’t completely sure he should trust her slurred answer of “six hours” that she had given when questioned about it. But he knew next to nothing about painkillers, or meds in general, really. However that didn’t stop him from knitting his brows in concern when she clumsily felt for the bottle of caf pills again.

He placed a hand on hers hesitantly. Sabine didn’t flinch; he almost envied her insensitivity to touch. Almost.

“Are you sure you should be taking more of those?”

“Need...to stay awake,” she mumbled tiredly. He internally shook his head.

“No, I think you need sleep,” he answered firmly. Her hand flexed underneath his as she tried to take the pills out. He tightened his hold.

She jerked her hand out from under his, shooting him a glare as she pulled three pills out and swallowed them dry. “I need to be awake when we- when we reach Lothal. So I...can put in the new jump coordinates.”

“I know how to fly, too. I can calculate them; you need to rest,” he argued back. “Besides, how long has it been since you slept anyway?”

Sabine’s silent glower was all the answer he needed. Sighing, he started to raise a hand. Sabine grabbed his forearm with remarkable strength for someone who still looked like the shivering girl he remembered from the cell on the Sovereign. He flinched, breath hitching as his heart rate sped up momentarily. She looked up to meet his eyes, staring intensely for a moment before releasing his arm.

“You are not using that- that ‘mind trick’ or whatever the Inquisitorius calls it,” she spoke in a slurred snarl. “Never do that with me.”

He nodded slowly, heart still pounding rapidly at the sudden movement, though the speed at which it was doing so had lessened by a fraction. Sabine relaxed slightly, still watching him, but he remained tense.

After a few moments she finally broke eye contact, looking down before at the console and then out the viewport. She spoke without looking at him. “I can do the calculations. I will do the calculations.”

“But at least sleep after this last dosage of caf pills wears off, okay? I’ll wake you when we drop out.”

Sabine hesitated for a moment before finally giving a decisive nod.

“Fine. But I’m doing the calculations, and you’d better wake me up as soon as we leave hyperspace.” He nodded vigorously in agreement.

Sabine settled back in the chair, watching the blue lines of hyperspace streak past. He shifted in his seat as well, swallowing dryly as he tried to ignore the dull throbbing in both his temples and his side. He resisted the urge to rub his forehead; doing so would be showing weakness.

His master may have been dead, but that didn’t change the fact that showing weakness was unforgivable.

Sabine started to gradually become more coherent as the pills began to take effect. Finally she stood, mumbled something about going to the refresher, and stumbled off.

He watched ten minutes pass on the chrono before rising himself and heading toward the refresher.

He could hear Sabine retching when he was still several feet away from the refresher door. He hesitated outside for a minute, debating whether or not to knock. Making the decision, he raised his right fist and knocked.

The retching sounds petered out and there was silence for a few seconds. A slurred voice from within called out,

“What ‘s it?”

He swallowed. “It’s me. I- I heard you throwing up, and—“

“‘m fine.” Her response came too quickly to be true. He frowned.

“I don’t thi—“ Another round of vomiting cut him off. He swallowed and waited for it to end before continuing. “I really don’t think you’re fine. Where are the caf pills?”

There was silence before the refresher door slid open unexpectedly. Sabine stood in front of him, indigo-and-orange hair disheveled as she frowned grumpily at him.

“‘m fine.” She started to key the door closed but he raised a hand, using the Force to hold it open. Her frown deepened.

“Where are the caf pills?”

“Doesn’t matter,” she mumbled back. She stepped out of the refresher, a shuddering sigh escaping her as she walked down the hall and back toward the cockpit. He waited a moment before following.


Sabine was bloodied, his ‘saber in her hands and raised in a defensive position as a cold smile graced her lips. “You thought you could actually make a connection with someone? And a Mandalorian of all people.” His master’s dark chuckle echoed around them as he watched Sabine advance slowly. She raised the ‘saber high, bringing the red blade down in an arc that would—

An alert on the console woke him. His breathing cane in short gasps, and as he raised a hand to his forehead, to his dissatisfaction he found it covered in slick sweat.

Weak.

He gave a shaky sigh before sitting up further and glancing over at Sabine. The pilot was slumped slightly, her head rolled back and to the side as she slept. She must have fallen either unconscious or asleep shortly after he did.

Her neck was exposed.

You could kill her. Slitting her throat wouldn’t be hard, not with her jugular exposed like that.

He shuddered, shaking his head to rid himself of the intrusive thought. They weren’t that uncommon, not since the Pau’an had taken him on as an apprentice. However, that didn’t mean that he often acted on the urges to kill anything that moved.

Growing soft?

He shook his head again, inhaling and exhaling slowly and shakily. No. Sabine- Sabine was useful. It would be easier to survive with someone else, and harder to survive alone.

Easier to fight with, too. If they shoot to kill, you can make sure she’s in the way.

He closed his eyes tightly, breathing coming in short gasps as he forced the thoughts away. He wouldn’t use her as a shield. That was weak.

He turned his attention to the console, finally remembering the alert. They would drop out of hyperspace in about a minute.

To wake her or not?

He wouldn’t wake her. Whatever she did to get back at him about it afterward, he could handle.

The ship dropped out abruptly and he sighed, glad that the Imperials couldn’t track the shuttle since its command Destroyer had been destroyed. That would make it easier for them to slip onto the planet undetected, at least until he and Sabine could figure out their next course of action.

Of course, he didn’t plan on one of the Destroyers above the small planet hailing them.

Kriff. He was bad at improvising like this. If they weren’t in a shuttle, maybe. But when he had no face to face contact, he barely had any idea what he was doing.

He ignored the repeated transmission requests and focused on finding a route to the surface. An idea sprang to his mind and he quickly sent a transmission explaining that their audio communications systems were down but that they were headed to the garrison in Capital City. He didn’t wait for a reply as the shuttle entered atmo. He hurriedly switched the scanners off, preferring to rely on the Force and his own vision as he took over the controls, switching them from autopilot to manual, and then to the copilot’s side. He took the steering yoke and directed them toward the plains where they had first met the bounty hunter.

He didn’t register the strong Force signature coming from below until they were already landed and he had the ramp down.

Glancing back at Sabine, he swallowed hard and sent a wave of the Force toward her, encouraging her to sleep more deeply as he exited the ship.

He would deal with the Jedi.

Alone.

Chapter Text

Kanan opened his eyes and stood from his spot on the floor.  He had been kneeling and meditating ever since they’d landed back on Lothal a few hours ago.

Something told him he would need the peace meditation brought later.

A faint chill permeated his room and he sighed.  Of course the Inquisitor had to come to Lothal.

Of course.

He keyed his door open and glanced down the hall to the cockpit.  Zeb was out on a supply run, and Chopper was most likely still getting lectured by Hera.  “Hera I’m checking something outside, I’ll be back soon,” he called. He didn’t wait for an answer as he strode down the ship and easily climbed down the ladder into the cargo bay, opening the loading ramp.  As he waited for it to lower, he pulled both pieces of his lightsaber from his belt and connected them before reclipping it to his belt.

The ramp hit the grass with a soft thud and he walked down it, senses on high alert.  They had landed in the middle of the grass that covered Lothal instead of risking a clearing or one of the cities.  Better not to take chances.

However, that also left him blind to any attackers.  He would have to rely on the Force now more than ever.

And right now, it was nearly yelling at him to pull his lightsaber out.

He called it to his hand just as the grass started to ripple in front of him.  The Jedi took two steps forward and raised the weapon, ready to ignite it at a moment’s notice.

A boy burst from the grass, stumbling.

Kanan was shocked.  It took him a moment to place the boy in front of him as the younger Inquisitor.  If he was honest with himself, he hadn’t expected the boy to survive.

But here he was.  And as the boy raised his head, blinking through a black eye, Kanan ignited his blade.

The boy flinched back.

Kanan was surprised.

The boy’s flinch went unnoticed as he drew in a steadying breath, taking a step forward so he was now less than a meter away from Kanan.  The Jedi watched him warily.

“Are you Ezra Bridger?”

The Inquisitor’s eyes narrowed.  “Who said I was?” he responded in a hoarse growl.

Kanan barely blinked at the bruises that littered the boy’s face and neck as he responded.  “Sabine Wren.”

The boy’s eyebrows shot up in shock before quickly lowering into a glare.  He glanced back the way he had come, and Kanan noticed two cuts across his cheekbone.  He didn’t think those had been there before, but he could have been mistaken.

“Is she back there?” Kanan pressed.  The boy’s head quickly swung back around as his glare deepened.  His gaze flicked down to the blade before it returned to Kanan. The Jedi raised an eyebrow.

“She’s sick.”


Sabine groaned, head pounding as she started to wake.  No...she didn’t want to spar today, not yet at least...not this early...she just wanted to sleep more….

Something in the back of her mind kept telling her to wake up, but she pushed it away, groaning softly again.

No….

The pushing in the back of her mind suddenly shoved, and she yelped as she was startled awake.

She was in a ship.

She glanced out the windscreen.

Grass.

Not Krownest or Mandalore, then.  Or at least not the Mandalore she had grown up with.

Lothal.

Everything rushed back and she groaned again, forcing herself to her feet.  The copilot’s seat was empty.

Kriffing kid didn’t wake me when we left hyperspace.

Sabine put a hand to her forehead, massaging her temples as they continued to throb.  She started to walk toward the back of the shuttle, the ground tilting. Something...was wrong.  She dimly registered this as she made her way toward the loading ramp with halted steps.

She was on her knees and dry heaving before she knew what hit her.

Shaking, she put a hand to her forehead.  It felt...too hot. Everything felt too hot.

She glanced down at the tears in her bodysuit, vaguely noticing the jagged burns that also felt too hot.  Her arms were burning. Her legs were freezing.

She shuddered before starting to remove the armor on her arms and hands.  She forced herself back into a sitting position, still trembling slightly as she removed the armor piece by piece.

Dimly, she thought of it as removing herself.


“And?  Why should I care?”

The Jedi...had a point.  Even he had to admit that.  Still, he wasn’t backing down now.  He swallowed firmly, lifting his chin slightly.

“Because I won’t try to stop whatever you’re doing out here, and I won’t call the Empire down on you.”

It was a bluff, a very obvious one.  And the man seemed almost amused by it.

“Big talk for someone whose ‘saber broke.”

He would have to ask Sabine what she had done with it, if anything, once she was better.

She would get better.

The man’s comm crackled without warning and he glanced down.

Spectre Four to Ghost .  I seem to have, ah, run into a slight problem.

I read you, Spectre Four.  What’s the issue?

There’s, ah, a…. ”  The comm went quiet for a moment and he thought he heard the other line mumble something along the lines of “ how do I put this nicely? ”  “ ...a riot goin’ on…?

Do you need a pickup? ”  Whoever Spectre Two was, she sounded exasperated.  He watched the man carefully, but the Jedi made no move to respond.

Uh, yeah, that’d be great.  I’m in sector see eight.

Copy.  Spectre One, you coming?

Finally the Jedi moved.  The man pulled his commlink off his belt without letting go of the ‘saber, watching him carefully as he replied.  “I’m still busy. Get Spectre Four, and I’ll come then.”

Fine.  Spectre Four, is the Phantom good enough?

There was silence on the line for a moment before the comm crackled to life once more.  “ Uh, yeah, just hurry.

The Jedi abruptly shut the commlink off and glanced over his shoulder as a small ship that must have been landed somewhere behind him in the thick grass rose.  It sped off, and the Jedi returned his attention to him.

“Where’s the girl?  You’ve got ten minutes.”

He swallowed and turned, pointing back the way she had come.  “She’s this way.”

He hoped he wasn’t making a huge mistake.


“Sabine?” he called hesitantly.

There was no answer from within the ship and he swallowed nervously.  He forced himself not to look back at the Jedi as he made his way up the ramp.

He called her again and received no answer.  He could sense her, faintly, but the location made no sense.  Why would she be in the middle of the hallw—

He stopped, heart dropping.

Sabine was leaned against the wall, breathing shallowly.  Half her armor was off and it looked like she had started to unzip her bodysuit, but had only made it about three inches down before stopping.  Presumably because she had fallen unconscious.

He heard the Jedi coming down the corridor and turned in time to see a mixture of confusion and pity flickering across his features.  They were quickly replaced by a mask of cold indifference as he finally clipped the ‘saber onto his belt and folded his arms.

“What happened?”

“I- I’m not sure.  All she said was Mandalore when I asked.”

The Jedi took several steps closer and crouched, examining what looked like spider-webbing burns on her forearm before glancing back at him.  “What does this ship have in the way of medical supplies?”

He shrugged.  “Not much, I don’t think.  She took most of the caf pills and finished a couple bottles of painkillers.  I don’t know much about meds.”

The man nodded thoughtfully, glancing back down at Sabine in thought.  “She’s coming to our ship. C’mon, you can bring her.”

He didn’t question it, though he took one of Sabine’s blasters as an extra defense in case the Jedi changed his mind and tried to kill them.  He retrieved a bag from one of the storage compartments nearby and put the discarded pieces of armor into it.

“You said she took painkillers and caf pills?  Where are they?”

He glanced back at the Jedi.  “She threw a couple of the bottles away.  I don’t know where the others are. Maybe in the cockpit.”

The Jedi nodded and walked away.  He returned his attention to Sabine, checking her pulse as he felt for her signature as well.  Still there. Faint, but there.

The man returned a few minutes later, his expression the same as he put what looked like painkiller bottles into his pocket.  He stopped and crouched by Sabine, gathering her up before standing. He nodded in thanks, grabbing the bag with her armor before following the Jedi outside.

They walked through the grass silently, and he took the time to glance down at his own armor, or what remained of it at least.  There were holes in the fabric underneath it, and more of the armor was scuffed or burned than it had been when he had first met Sabine.  But surprisingly, there seemed to be less tears in the fabric underneath his own armor than there were in Sabine’s.

They broke through another clump of grass to see a freighter.  The same freighter the Jedi has had before. He gave the Jedi a sidelong glance as the  man unlocked the ship and headed up the loading ramp.

Once inside the cargo bay, the Jedi set Sabine down next to a ladder in the corner of the room.  The man turned back to him. “Help me lift her.”

“With the Force?”

He answered with a nod and together they started to lift her.

He tried to ignore how faint her signature was as they did so.

The Jedi stood behind him as he went up the ladder, and it took all his restraint not to glance down and check that he wasn’t about to shoot him in the back.  As soon as he reached the top he rushed forward, stepping carefully around Sabine as he turned back to watch the ladder. It looked like they were in a common room of some sort.  The Jedi emerged with something akin to amusement crossing his face briefly before it disappeared. He picked up Sabine again. “Med bay’s this way.”

He followed the Jedi silently, senses on high alert as he felt for both blasters.

Chapter Text

The Jedi was surprisingly gentle as he laid Sabine on a cot in the med bay.  He took a chance to glance around as the man started searching through the storage compartments, taking medical supplies out periodically.  The med bay was small, but still a bit bigger than the one on the shuttle. It also appeared to be better equipped to handle injuries. He just hoped it could handle whatever was wrong with Sabine.

He drifted over toward her again, brow furrowed as he felt for her Force signature.  It wasn’t any fainter than it had been the last time he’d checked, but it also wasn’t any stronger.

He moved out of the way as the Jedi came up next to him, dumping the supplies he had gathered unceremoniously on a small table next to the cot.

“Are you sure she didn’t say anything happened besides Mandalore?” the man questioned.  He nodded, and the Jedi frowned slightly as he started to organize the supplies. “You were on the Sovereign with her, I assume?  What happened there?”

He hesitated before answering.  “She...my master, he- she was trying to rescue me, and it- it was a trap.  She was tortured.” The Jedi looked up, meeting his eyes briefly as an unreadable expression crossed his face before he looked back down.

“I need you to get the rest of the armor on her upper body off.”  He started on the pauldrons, watching the Jedi prepare a syringe filled with something he didn’t recognize out of the corner of his eye.  “How was she tortured?”

He swallowed thickly before replying.  “She- she was beaten, and my master, he- he had his lightsaber...it was better than it could’ve been.”

The man nodded, studying the syringe briefly.  “Do you know how many of her injuries were from before the Sovereign?

He shook his head.

“Move, I need to inject this.”  He took a few steps back, bringing the pauldrons and sections of the breastplate with him as the Jedi carefully moved her bodysuit enough to expose her shoulder.  He injected the hypo-needle and pushed down, waiting a few more seconds after it had emptied before removing it.

“You met her when she was at the garrison?”

He nodded, watching as the man placed the syringe on a tray on the table.  He picked up a roll of medical tape and a small square of gauze and used the bandages to tape the gauze onto the injection spot, pressing on it for a moment to staunch the bleeding.

“What’s wrong with her?” he asked hesitantly after a moment.  The Jedi didn’t make eye contact as he answered while retrieving a small bacta patch.

“Infection.  See those burns on her arms?”  He nodded. “They got infected.  They’ve been there for a while, but the infection is recent.  I’d guess she got those while on Mandalore.”

He knew what infection was, but most of his burns were cauterized before it could set in.  The burns Sabine had...he didn’t recognize those.

“Do you know what they’re from?”

The Jedi shrugged as he applied the bacta patch onto a section of the burns that was visible through one of the holes in the sleeves of her bodysuit.  “Electro shock, I’d say. It’s hard to know for sure without her telling us. I’m no expert. Has she been falling unconscious a lot?”

“Yeah, and throwing up.”

The man nodded slowly as he prepared another bacta patch and carefully moved her other arm across her chest.  She twitched, face contorting for a moment before relaxing. He paused to make sure she was still unconscious before applying the next patch.  “She’s burning up. The infection probably caused a fever, but the painkillers stopped it from getting too serious. Did she overdose?” The Jedi glanced over his shoulder at him and he shrugged.

“I’m not sure.  She said it was six hours between doses.  Like I said, I don’t know much about meds.”

The Jedi cast a brief glance at his burned left hand.  He tugged his sleeve over it self-consciously and the man turned back to Sabine.

“Did she seem delirious at all?”

“A little.”

“At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had overdosed.  She looks exhausted, too; the caf pills wouldn’t have helped with that.”  The Jedi sighed, stepping back from the cot for a minute to observe his work.  “There’s not a whole lot else I can do without her awake to tell us what happened.  I could press into her mind, but—“

“—but that would wake her up,” he finished.  The man gave him an irritated glare.

“Yeah.  And I don’t wanna risk that.  Could complicate things.”

The pair was silent for a minute.  He felt for her signature and was surprised and relieved to find it somewhat stronger than it had been before.  Not much, but a little.

“What should I do once she wakes up?”

“Well, I would—“

The Jedi was cut off by a clang coming from another part of the ship, almost like the sound of a ship docking.  The man cursed.

“What is it?”

“Just- just stay quiet, okay?  If she wakes up, either keep her quiet or knock her out again.”  He was a little surprised by the instructions as the Jedi fled the room before pausing and turning back.  “And whatever you do, don’t leave this room. ”  He shut the door and they were alone.


Kanan pushed a stray hair back and wiped the sweat off his forehead, exhaling slowly to calm his nerves as he made his way to the Phantom ’s docking spot.

He heard the door open and groaned inwardly.

He rounded the corner and found Hera and Zeb already exiting the ship with Chopper close behind.  He sucked in a sharp breath as Hera turned to him.

“Kanan?  Is something wrong?”

“No, I’m just...hoping they didn’t follow you back,” he answered.  Not a complete lie.

Hera’s expression relaxed.  “Of course they didn’t. It was just a riot.”

He nodded, breathing out slowly again.  Now just to keep her out of the med bay.

He followed her down the hall as they headed to the cockpit.  So far, so good. And no one looked injured.

The group entered the cockpit and took up their usual spots, with Chopper sticking next to Kanan.  He’d developed a tendency to avoid Hera ever since he had returned to the Ghost and she had lectured him for an hour about how he shouldn’t listen to Mandalorians, especially Imperial Mandalorians, no matter how nice they seemed compared to Zeb.

“Zeb, did you get the supplies?” he questioned.

The Lasat nodded in answer.  “Yeah, just about. I, ah, ran into a problem gettin’ the hydrospanner, but seein’s as it was more just a tool than an actual part, I, ah, started focusing on gettin’ away from the riot instead.”  Kanan nodded, then noticed Hera was beginning to prepare the Ghost for takeoff.

“Why are we leaving so soon?”

She glanced at him with a raised eyebrow.  “We finished the supply run, and most of the planet’s looking for us.  It’s best to leave now while we still can.”

“But what if leaving will just get us seen?”

Her questioning look turned into an unimpressed one that was just short of a glare.  “Kanan, it won’t. You know my piloting skills.”

“And what if they shoot at us?”

“Kanan, for—“

“Hera, you never know!”  Kriff he was horrible at this.

“Kanan, are you sure you’re feeling okay?  You seem a bit...paranoid.”

“You mean more paranoid than normal?”  She shot Zeb a glare.

“Yeah, of course!  I’m fine! Definitely fine.  One hundred percent fine.” He gave a nervous chuckle as Hera returned her attention to him.

“I need to take your temperature.  You really don’t seem like you’re—“

“No!  There’s no reason to take my temperature, I’m fine!” he responded.  He could not let her go to the med bay.

But he also couldn’t let her leave Lothal, at least not until those kids got off the ship.

She sighed and stood.  “Kanan, come with me. We’re going to the med bay, and we’re going to take your temperature.”  She turned to start walking to the med bay and he shot up from his seat, spinning her around and kissing her.  He was running out of ideas at this point.

“Couldn’t you, ah, do that somewhere else?” Zeb piped up.  Chopper chortled in response, earning a glare from the Lasat.

Hera broke off the kiss, her expression bewildered as her lekku twitched in confusion.  “Kanan, not that I mind that, but is something wrong? You’re acting strange.”

“There’s just no reason to go to the med bay; I’m completely fine,” he replied quickly, rubbing his neck with a hand as he laughed nervously again.  She frowned.

“Kanan Jarrus, what are you hiding in that med bay?”  Before he could reply, she was already pushing away from him and storming off to the med bay.

He muttered every curse word he could think of in Basic and then a few in other languages as he ran after her.  Zeb and Chopper followed behind at only a slightly slower pace, clearly just as interested in what was about to go down.

She reached the med bay and stopped, and for a moment he thought she wouldn’t go in.

And of course, just because he had to think that, she went in.

He regretted even speaking to the kid as her yell reached him.

Kanan Jarrus—!

Chapter Text

He glanced up, eyes wild in shock as a Twi’lek woman entered the room.  Her eyes went wide and then narrowed, her expression turning to one of fury as she placed a hand on her hip and turned, lekku swinging irrately behind her.

Kanan Jarrus—! ”  The Jedi—Kanan—entered a moment later, wincing underneath the woman’s gaze.

“Explain this.   Now, ” she ordered, gesturing at him and Sabine.

Sabine.  He glanced back at her, fear now taking control.  She was still unconscious, but when he felt for her signature, he could tell she was starting to wake.

This wouldn’t end well.

He turned back to the woman, swallowing thickly as the Jedi raised his hands in surrender.

“It’s Sabine.  She’s sick. Something happened, and while I was outside I ran into—“

Sabine!?  You let that—“  She launched into a string of curse words that made even Kanan flinch.

Another glance back at Sabine showed her stirring.  He took a careful step toward the pair.

“She’s waking up,” he put in quietly.  The woman turned on him and he drew back, half-expecting her to pull a blaster on him with the way she had been yelling before.

“And you?!  What are you doing here, on my ship?!  Kanan, how could you let an Inquisitor—

She was cut off by a Lasat who pushed between them to enter.  The Lasat glanced around and spotted him.

He retreated a few steps, moving back in front of Sabine’s prone body as he drew both blasters.

“Hera, why’s there an Inquisitor in here?” the Lasat questioned gruffly.  The woman turned from him to glare at Kanan again, raising an eyebrow as she folded her arms.

“I don’t know.  Kanan, how about you enlighten us?”

Just then an astromech shrieked as it rolled into the room, nearly bowling the Lasat over as it ran straight toward the cot.  He swallowed thickly, aiming one of the blasters at it.

“You won’t hurt Sabine,” he muttered hoarsely.

The droid stopped, tipping back to see him as it grumbled something.  He looked to Kanan for an explanation.

“Look Hera, even Chopper doesn’t wanna kill her.  At least wait until the girl wakes up, she’s been—“

“Kanan Jarrus, after what she’s done, I.  Don’t. Care.

He stepped forward, aiming one blaster at the woman that Kanan had called Hera and the other at the Lasat.  “If you touch her, I swear I’ll kill you all,” he threatened hoarsely.  The group turned back to him and Kanan raised his hands.

“Ezra, put the blasters down.  Nobody is going to—“

“That’s not my name!” he shouted suddenly, grip on both blasters faltering as he started to shake.

Kanan continued in the same placating tone.  “Whatever you want us to call you, we’re not going to hurt you or Sabine.  Isn’t that right, Hera?”  The Jedi shot a pointed look at the Twi’lek.  She opened her mouth to reply but closed it, settling for a glare at Kanan that then shifted to him.  He flinched but swallowed, forcing himself to readjust his grip on the blasters.

“Fine.  They can stay until Sabine can walk.  But they’re both leaving right after. ”  Hera abruptly turned and left the room.

“Lower the blasters.”  He glanced at Kanan and shakily lowered the one he had been pointing at Hera.  However he watched the Lasat carefully, too wary to put the blaster aimed at him down.

“Relax, kid, I won’t hurt ya.”  His breaths came hard and fast as he tightened his grip on the blaster.

A hand clamped down on his own and he jumped, flinching as he turned to Kanan.

“Calm down, kid.  Relax. He won’t hurt you, and neither will I.”

His breathing slowly evened out and he lowered the blaster, eyes still flicking between Kanan and the Lasat warily.  The latter glanced over at Kanan. “I’m gonna...go help Hera.”

Kanan nodded as the Lasat left.  The Jedi turned back to him once the door closed.  “Chopper here can keep an eye on Sabine. And you look like you’ve got some injuries yourself.  Can I take a look?”

He shrugged, and the Jedi gestured to his burned arm.  He held it out, forcing himself not to flinch as the Jedi pulled the sleeve back, revealing the burn from his master’s lightsaber several weeks previous.

Kanan didn't meet his eyes as he spoke, continuing to examine the burn.  “Lightsaber?”

He nodded silently, resisting the urge to hiss in pain as Kanan gently probed the burn.

“It’s pretty recent.  Have you treated it?”

He hesitated before realizing it wouldn’t make a difference either way.  He shook his head and the Jedi glanced up in surprise.

“Why not?”

He looked down, breaking his gaze.  “I...didn’t want to.” He knew that Kanan wouldn’t accept that as an answer, but thankfully the man didn’t push it.

“Do you want me to?”

He shook his head immediately, looking back up as he pulled his arm away and tugged the sleeve back down over the injury.  “No, I- I’m fine.”

Kanan gave him a long, unreadable look for a minute before shrugging.  He moved onto the more visible bruises along his face and neck.

“You want me to do anything about these, either?”

He shook his head and Kanan thankfully didn’t press it.

He was strong.  They would heal.  If they left scars, all the better.


Tristan was the one screaming.

She was the one with electricity jumping around and arcing over her body, she was the one convulsing, she was the one with her mouth opening and making no sound, but Tristan was the one screaming.

She had no idea where he was, had never heard him scream that she could remember, but she instinctively knew that he was the one screaming.

And then she was looking back through one of the shuttle’s viewports as an explosion took her brother’s life, and the electricity was still arcing over her and racing across her arms and chest, but Tristan was still the one screaming.

His scream echoed and pounded in her ears until her entire being was throbbing with it.

She woke sweaty and gasping for breath, sitting up and looking around wildly.  Everything burned, and her shoulder stung. She groaned, reaching for it before pausing.

Her pauldrons were gone.  She glanced around, still breathing heavily.

Tristan and a boy she didn’t recognize were sitting in chairs across the room from her.  Both were staring at her, the boy more with confusion than anything. He stood and walked over.  She watched him warily.

“Sabine, are you feeling okay?”

She swallowed, ignoring his question and peering past him at Tristan.  “Tristan? Why is there someone else here? Where am I?”

Tristan’s face contorted in confusion.  “Who’s Tristan?” The voice wasn’t Tristan’s.

Her breath caught.  “ You’re Tristan.”   I think.

Her breath quickened as she moved to stand up.  The boy grabbed her arm but she pushed him away, swinging her legs over the side of the cot.  She needed to get out, to find out what was wrong with not-Tristan and what had happened to her real brother, to find her armor.

She pushed herself off the cot and onto her feet.  Instantly the world started to swim and she nearly lost her balance.  The boy glanced worriedly at not-Tristan. “Kanan, what should we do?” Panic was evident in his voice.

Kanan.

She knew that name, vaguely.

It was buried deep in the muddled fog that had become her memories and train of thought.  As she swayed, she looked toward the boy. He met her gaze again, concern and panic flooding his expression.  His golden eyes widened with terror as the world began to spin more.

She staggered forward another step before slipping and crashing onto the floor.

Moments before her head smacked into the durasteel, she heard the boy’s voice again, just as panic-stricken as it had been before, if not more so.

Sabine!

Chapter Text

Kanan leapt from the chair as soon as Sabine fell.  Rummaging through the cabinets again, he brought several hypo-needles and bottles over to the tray on the table next to the cot.  “Bring her up here,” he muttered.

He started to lift Sabine up, grunting as he managed to help her to her feet.  She was still slightly conscious, but not coherent. Not that she had been before.

Kanan turned, noticing that he was having difficulty getting her over to the table.  He set the hypo- he had been filling down and closed the distance quickly, taking most of Sabine’s weight as he helped her over to the cot.  She was mumbling something incoherent as he raised the syringe.

Without warning she started screaming, yelling incoherently as she drew back and tried to get off the cot again.  He cursed.

“Kid, help me!” he yelled.

“With what?!”

“Hold her down while I get the sedative in!  She’ll just hurt herself if she tries to walk around now!”

The astromech beeped something from the corner that was barely audible over Sabine’s screams, but it was loud enough to make him jump.  He glanced back at the droid, gaze wary.

Kid!   I need you, now!

His head whipped back around as he turned to face Kanan and he nodded.  “Of- of course. Yeah.” He reached for one of Sabine’s flailing arms, trying to grasp it as the hysterical girl continued to frantically get away from Kanan.  Her eyes were wild as Kanan muttered another curse, adjusting his grip on the hypo- as he tried to hold the girl still.

“Hey, hey, I need you to hold still for me, okay Sabine?  This wouldn’t—“ he grunted as her elbow struck home in his stomach, “—hurt as much if you’d just stop struggling.

The blast door slid open and he shot a quick,  nervous glance back to see Hera.

“Kanan, what is going on in here?”

She sounded exasperated and he couldn’t say that he didn’t blame her.

Sabine’s struggles lessened for a moment as she nearly paused to look at who had entered.

There was a grunt as Kanan yelled, “Got it!”  The screaming started again as he turned in time to catch Kanan shoving the end of the hypo-needle down.  A stray elbow caught him roughly in the side immediately after. The momentum took him half a step back and he tripped on the astromech, crying out as he fell to the floor next to the droid.  Blinking through the pain, he looked up to see the Twi’lek woman glaring down at him.

He pushed himself up to a sitting position before rubbing his neck as he looked over at Kanan.  The Jedi was setting the hypo- back on the tray as Sabine’s struggles became weaker. He still kept a tight hold on her until she was completely unconscious, and a few seconds afterward just in case she managed to fight through the sedative.

Laying her carefully back down on the table, the Jedi wiped his brow and glanced at him.

“Did you know needles triggered her?”

He shook his head.  “She was in a couple crashes; I always assumed she’d gotten surgery for them and was used to them.”

Kanan nodded slowly and glanced back at Sabine thoughtfully.  After a moment he commented, “It might be a residual effect from Mandalore.  We still don’t really know what happened there.”

There was an impatient sigh from the direction of the doorway and both of them turned to face Hera.

“Yes we do.  She killed a bunch of people, including the resident Imperial Viceroy, and then blew up a landing pad.”

His eyes widened fractionally, though a brief glance at Kanan revealed the adult was unsurprised.

“When did she…?”

“It happened on Mandalore,” Hera supplied shortly.  “Kanan, I’m in the cockpit if you need me.” She turned and exited, the droid letting out a concerned warble after she left.

Kanan turned back to him.  “Alright, let’s let her rest for now.  Chopper, can you watch her?”

The astromech chirped affirmatively and Kanan nodded.

“Let me know if anything changes.  Let’s go.”

He cast an anxious glance back at Sabine, but realized that the man had pretty much ordered him to leave.  Swallowing, he forced himself to turn away from her and follow the Jedi out.

He was led to the common room with the ladder leading to the cargo bay.  The Jedi gestured for him to take a seat behind the dejarik table. He sat slowly, warily watching as Kanan sat opposite.

“Blasters.”  He gave a look of blank confusion before Kanan sighed, extending a hand.  “Give me the blasters. I already got one of Sabine’s, and I’m sure you have the other.”

He sighed and placed the blaster on the table.  Kanan took it.

And the other one.”

He glowered at the Jedi as he removed the other blaster and placed it on the table.  Kanan collected both blasters and set them down on the floor next to him, but too far to reach.  He was left defenseless.

Adopting a more amiable tone, he began to speak.  “Alright, so what are you doing back on Lothal?”

He shrugged.  “Sabine chose to come back.”

Kanan raised an eyebrow.  “Why? Did she give you a reason?”

He paused before shrugging again.  “It was the first planet she thought of, and we needed coordinates fast.  We didn’t have an astromech.”

The man nodded slowly, bringing his elbows up onto the table and clasping his hands in front of his face.  The adult stared at him thoughtfully, and he suppressed the urge to flinch under the intense gaze.

Finally Kanan spoke again.  “So. You’ll be staying here, at least while Sabine gets better.”   At least?  “There’s a fourth room that’s currently unoccupied; Sabine had it while she was with us, but while she’s incapacit—“

“Wait, hold on.  Sabine was with you guys?

The edges of Kanan’s lips twitched up in a hint of a smile as he nodded slowly.  “Yeah. She’d seen us and our ship up close, so we couldn’t exactly let her leave.  She might’ve gone back to the Empire.”

He nodded once before quickly ducking his head, realizing what he had done.  “Sorry, I- I cut you off….”

Kanan shook his head.  “It was a reasonable question, and you were confused.  It’s fine.”

He risked a cautious glance up at the Jedi.  “So you’re not going to…?”

Kanan’s brow furrowed in bewilderment.  “Going to what?”

He shook his head quickly.  “No, nothing, it- it’s fine.  Never mind.”

Kanan raised an eyebrow, adopting the same unimpressed look he had had when his offers to treat the burn had been refused.  Thankfully, he didn’t question it.

“As I was saying, that was Sabine’s room, but seeing as she’s incapacitated and Hera seems pretty intent on kicking you both out as soon as she can walk, you can stay there for now.”  He nodded thankfully, then glanced uncertainly down the corridor in the direction of the rooms.

“Um...which one is it?”

Kanan stood, picking the blasters up as he went, and started to walk.  Realizing he wasn’t following, the Jedi turned back and beckoned. “C’mon.  I’ll show you. I’m not going to abandon you, even if you are unarmed.  I won’t pull the blasters or lightsaber on you either though; I promise.”

Hesitantly he stood and followed.

I’m not going to abandon you.

I promise.


 

Kanan entered the cockpit and sat with a sigh.  Hera frowned as she turned to look at him.

“What is it?” she asked in a slightly exasperated tone.

Kanan ran a hand over his face, starting to speak even as he did so.  “It’s the kid. I put him in Sabine’s old room; fixed the door so it’s keyed to all of us except him and Sabine.  Only way out’s through that, so if he decides to kill us he won’t be able to. But he’s so...jumpy. Flinches at everything.”

“You did, too, when I first met you,” she reminded him.  He shook his head.

“No, this- this is different.  I’m not denying I was skittish too, but the kid...he’s a different kind of skittish.  Won’t let me treat his injuries either, and he has a lot. I’m worried about him, Hera.”

The woman barely resisted from rolling her eyes.  “And this is exactly why I didn’t want you taking in more strays, especially an Inquisitor! ” she snapped.

“I’m not even sure he is an Inquisitor, Hera.  At least, not by choice.”

She stood suddenly, finally hitting her limit with the Jedi.  “Kanan, if it wasn’t by choice, then why aren’t they making a bigger deal about finding him?  Sure, most of the galaxy thinks he died on the Sovereign when it exploded.  But you- you Force-sensitives can...feel each other, or something, right?”  Kanan nodded as she continued. “So then why haven’t any more Inquisitors shown up on Lothal?

He raised an eyebrow.  “You think he’s a spy?”

She threw her hands up in frustration.  “ Yes, Kanan!   Of course I think he’s a spy!  I—“

“Hera, I sensed his signature when he first asked me for help.  He was a lot more scared of me and Sabine dying and the Empire than I was of him, so scared he couldn’t even shield himself right.  Or maybe he wasn’t taught how. But if he’s a spy, then they would’ve taught him how to shield his feelings and himself.”

Hera was still unconvinced as she shook her head, sighing as she stalked out of the cockpit.  “I need a caf to deal with this.”

Chapter Text

He tried to key the door open and was unsurprised when the pad flashed red.

He was used to locked doors and cells, though most of the time he was on the opposite side of them.  His own room had rarely been locked, if even closed, but nearly all of the other rooms on Mustafar had been locked.  On the few ground bases and Destroyers he had visited, however, barely any doors hadn’t opened to an Inquisitor’s code cylinders.

He went and sat back on the bunk, waiting for Kanan or someone else—though he would prefer Kanan over any of the others, aside from Sabine of course, but there was no chance the sedatives had worn off yet—to come and open the door.  Though he supposed it was nice, nice to just have a time of respite from everything else. And there was plenty in the room to look at, too; it was nothing like the cell he had been imprisoned in occasionally on Mustafar. There was actually light in this room, plus he could hear the sounds of the crew from outside the door, even if he couldn’t interact with them.

But he had discovered...other ways out of places.

He hopped off the bunk, ignoring the shooting pain that erupted in his leg as it struck the ground.  Turning in a slow circle and scanning the ceiling, a slight smile grew on his face as he spotted an air vent on the wall above the top bunk.


The cockpit door slid open and Hera glanced up from her spot at the dejarik table and leaned around the corner.  Kanan poked his head out. “You’ve got an incoming transmission from Fulcrum,” he called.

She stood and shut off a couple of the datapads she was working on and walked to the cockpit.  She entered and took her spot in the pilot’s seat silently. Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Kanan cast her a glance.

“What?” she inquired tiredly.

“Do you want me to leave?”

She thought for a moment before shaking her head.  “If you want to stay, then stay.”

She waited a moment to see if he would decide to leave.  He did not.

Hera started the transmission, making sure it was audio-only and untraceable.  Even though she trusted Fulcrum with her life and the lives of her crew quite regularly, one could never be too safe.

The garbled voice came through as Fulcrum’s symbol lit up the cockpit.

This is Fulcrum to the Ghost.   I have a job for you, if you’re interested.

“What kind of job?”

It should be a simple grab-and-go.  There’s some crates at Fort Anaxes, asteroid PM-1203.  They should have some useful supplies along with some fuel pods.  I’ll send coordinates through if you agree.

“Let me talk with my copilot and I’ll get back to you.”

Okay.

Hera shut the comm off momentarily and glanced over at Kanan.  “Well? What do you think?”

He frowned in thought.  “Should be simple enough.”

“And the kids?”

“I can give Sabine more sedatives.  As for the boy...he should be fine in his room or in the med bay with Sabine.  We can leave Chopper with them.”

Hera raised an eyebrow and adopted a skeptical expression.  “Leaving him in the med bay with a droid to watch them?”

“Okay, so maybe it’s not my best idea,” Kanan muttered as he rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin.  “But he should be okay in his room. And Chop’ll comm us if anything goes wrong.”

Hera started at him for a moment before nodding.  “Good. I’ll tell her we’ll accept.”

She flipped the comm back on.  “Fulcrum, we’ve made our decision.  We’ll accept.”

Good.  I’ll make sure the crates are there in exactly three rotations.  You should be good to get them after that. Transmitting coordinates now. ”  A blip on the console notified Hera that they had been received.

“We’ve got them.  Thank you, Fulcrum.”

May the Force be with you.

The transmission ended with Fulcrum’s customary farewell and Hera glanced sideways at Kanan.  He stared at the console in deep thought before shaking his head suddenly, seeming to snap out of it.

“Is everything alright, Kanan?”

“Ye- yeah, I just thought...never mind.”  He shook his head again.

“Are you still okay doing the job, Kanan?”

“Yeah, of course.  I- I need to go think for a few minutes.”  Without another word, the Jedi stood and walked away.


“Kid, you can come out.  I’m not going to hurt you.”

The vent grate opened and Ezra—no, the kid, he had asked not to be called by that name and Kanan was going to respect that—stuck his head out.

“Come on down.  I just wanna talk.”

The kid hopped down, landing on the floor with a slight wobble—probably due to yet another untended injury, but he wouldn’t press that again—but with an otherwise perfectly balanced crouch.  His golden eyes flicked to Kanan’s closed door, a look of apprehension and suppressed fear in them. Kanan had seen looks similar to that before, but nothing...nothing that extreme.

Not since he had been a terrified teen on the run himself.

“Come here.”  Kanan strode to the lower bunk and sat, patting the spot next to him.  The boy warily stood and walked over, perching lightly on the very edge of the bed.  He studied the floor instead of looking at Kanan.

Something inside him stung, but from what he didn’t know.

“So.  The vents, huh?”

There was a moment of silence before the boy finally spoke.  “You’re not- you’re not going to punish me, are you?”

“No, no.  ‘Course not.  Hera, on the other hand...just be glad I won’t tell her.  She...you’re still on her bad side. But she’ll come around, in time.”

The boy looked up at last, a worried expression written across his face.  “And the Lasat?”

“Zeb?  He will, too.  He tends to avoid Imperials; he’s had some bad experiences with them.  We all have,” he added as a quiet afterthought.

“I know what they did to Lasan.”

He looked up in surprise at the boy’s quiet response.  “You do?”

He nodded solemnly.  “He- he made me study it.  Said it was important because they worshipped the Force, but he said they worshipped it wrong.  He said that’s why...that’s why the Lasat were all killed. And because they weren’t- weren’t right.  But I don’t think that the second part’s true,” he ammended quickly.

Kanan frowned.  “Who said that?”

“My master,” he answered unflinchingly, though Kanan could see the suppressed terror in his eyes at the mention of the name.

“The Pau’an Inquisitor?”

The kid nodded quickly, the terror in his eyes surfacing further for a brief instant before he suppressed it again.

He almost seemed more frightened of the Inquisitor than Kanan himself was.

“Is he dead?”

The boy hesitated before nodding again.  “Yes, at least I- I think so.”

“You do it?”

He shook his head.  “No, Sabine did. I just kept him from attacking her after- after she shot him.”

Kanan raised an eyebrow.   Sabine killed a Force-sensitive?  And an Inquisitor at that?  He knew her Force signature was a bit stronger than the average non-Force-sensitive’s was, of course, but it still wasn’t enough to outright give her enough of the Force for combat (though she was Mandalorian so, he reasoned, she probably didn’t even need it to be formidable) or to let her defeat an Inquisitor.

He swallowed hard before continuing to question the boy.  “How long ago?”

“It was right before the Sovereign blew up.”

So recently.  Around the time the infection had set in, probably.

She was stronger and more dangerous than he had given her credit for.  He would have to watch his step around the Mandalorian girl.

“So he trained you?”

The boy gave another quick nod.

“In the Dark Side?”

He hesitated before nodding again, eyes flicking to the floor.

“Do you mind if I ask how?”

There was silence, and for a long moment he thought the kid wasn’t going to respond.

And then a quiet, small voice answered, “Pain.”

Chapter Text

The sedatives wore off sometime later that day, maybe a few hours after his conversation with Kanan.  He couldn’t be sure.

After Kanan had let him go out to the med bay—the Jedi remained with him for several minutes, claiming he was there to check how Sabine was doing though he saw through that easily enough—he had remained in the same chair he had sat in before.  He alternated between checking on Sabine and inspecting the damage done to his armor while on board the Sovereign.

When she started stirring, he glanced up quickly.  She shifted, a soft groan escaping her lips as her arm slipped off the edge of the cot.  Her fingers twitched, eyelids fluttering simultaneously.

He found himself holding his breath and he released it slowly, reaching a hand up to rub the back of his neck as he forced his gaze away from her and down to the ground.  If she woke now, great. If she didn’t, then that was also great.

“...Ezra?”

His head snapped up.  Her eyes were half-lidded, though she had turned her head enough to stare at him.  Sabine swallowed hard, wincing.

“Do you- do you have water?”

He nodded quickly.  “Ye- yeah, I’ll get you some.”

Her eyelids fluttered again and she swallowed once more, coughing as she attempted to force herself to stay awake.

“Stay here, I’ll get you some water.”  He stood and walked to the door, keying it open and nearly walking into Kanan.  He took a step back and looked up at the man.

“She wants water?” the Jedi questioned.  He nodded hurriedly. “I’ll be back in a minute.  Stay here.”

He went to stand by the cot, remaining a few feet away.  Sabine watched him for a few moments before finally letting her eyes close and exhaling slowly.

He thought she had fallen asleep when she spoke up.

“What did...what did Mother think?”

“Sabine, your mom isn’t here…” he trailed off hesitantly, casting her a quizzical look.  Her eyes remained closed as she shook her head slightly and continued to speak.

“Yes, yes she is, she’s here somewhere...where's Tristan?  Just...just get Tristan please, Ezra….” Kanan entered as she trailed off and coughed.

“Water,” he said unnecessarily, holding up a cup.  He raised an eyebrow as Sabine’s eyes opened and she shifted her head again to look at him.

“...Dad?  Where's—“ she coughed weakly again before continuing, “where’s Mother?  And- and Tristan….”

“Tristan?” Kanan echoed, wordlessly handing the cup to him as he approached Sabine, getting closer to her than he was.  “Sabine, who’s Tristan?”

“My- my brother.”

He caught a glimpse of the Jedi’s eyes widening momentarily.  “Tristan Wren?”

She nodded weakly and coughed.  “Wat- water….”

“Here.”  Kanan reached blindly behind him for the cup and he swiftly handed it to him.  The man passed it forward to Sabine, helping her sit up and holding the cup for her as she drank slowly.  Finally she pulled away, wincing as she forced herself to sit all the way up.

“My- my brother, Tristan—where- where is he...Dad, where is he?”

He watched as Kanan struggled to school his expression and suppress the grief-stricken face that threatened to surface continuously.  “Tristan’s dead, Sabine. And I’m- I’m not your father.”

Her brows furrowed before she winced, eyes squeezing shut momentarily in pain.  “Tristan...Tristan’s not dead...I- I was just sparring with him….And...Dad, Dad you were there too….”  She coughed again and he and Kanan exchanged a concerned glance.

“Sabine, why don’t you go back to sleep?  You got sick; you need rest,” Kanan suggested gently.  Feebly, Sabine nodded and the Jedi helped her lay down again.  She drifted off soon after.

He returned to his chair and Kanan sat in the one he had occupied hours before.  They watched Sabine in silence for several minutes before Kanan spoke up softly.

“If she wakes up again, come and get me, okay?  Make sure she knows you’re there though. I don’t want her waking up alone; it could scare her into a relapse.”

He nodded.  “I- I will.”

Kanan let a small smile slip onto his face.  “Good.” The man reached an arm out to pat the arm of his chair and he flinched momentarily before relaxing, realizing Kanan wasn’t touching him.  Something passed in the man’s eyes too quickly for him to catch before Kanan stood.

“I’ll be outside,” he said quietly as he exited.

He settled back into the chair as the med bay door slid shut, content to watch Sabine.


The door slid open and Kallus glanced up, swiftly suppressing the brief look of surprise that crossed his face upon recognition of the visitor.  He stood quickly.

“Inquisitor,” he said tightly, forcing a smile.  “I...assume you’re here to deal with the growing threat of the rebel cell?”

The door shut behind the masked woman as she entered, shaking her head.  “I am here on far more...personal matters, Agent, matters important to the Inquisitorius.  Though the results of my time here may...benefit you and your garrison here on Lothal, in a way.”  The modulator in the Inquisitor’s helmet made her voice take on a tinny, echoing quality.

He swallowed and tried his best to ignore the beads of sweat forming and starting to slide down his forehead.

“I- I must admit, Inquisitor, I was aware of your plans to come here, but I was not expecting you to arrive so soon.”  He gave a nervous chuckle in an effort to make his comment seem a harmless remark as the Inquisitor took two more careful steps toward his desk.

“The Inquisitorius is not tied down to schedules, Agent.  You would do well to remember that for the future.” Her voice carried a threatening undertone and he nodded quickly in agreement.  She drew back slightly. “Now, I am aware that there is an Academy on this planet, correct?” Kallus nodded again and she continued.  “A...colleague of mine will be arriving soon to help me inspect the cadets. I was also told that the officers stationed there had suspicions that several of them were Force-sensitive?”

He suppressed his shock at hearing Force-sensitive be spoken so casually.  Realizing she had phrased her statement of knowledge as a question, he quickly nodded again.  “Ye- yes, Inquisitor. Several of them outperformed Academy records, and the...medical requirements were met on two of them.”

The woman nodded.  “Good. When my colleague arrives, we will depart for the Academy and conduct a more thorough examination ourselves.  As for now, I still have the Inquisitorius’s personal matters to attend to.” Without another word, she turned on her heel and exited the room.

Kallus was left speechless and terrified.

Chapter Text

His eyes snapped open and his breath hitched in his throat.

She was here.  She was here. She couldn’t be here, couldn’t have found him so quickly—wasn’t that exactly what Hera had said when he had been eavesdropping on her and Kanan in the cockpit?  That they hadn’t come after him yet, so they probably wouldn’t? Hera was wrong.

She was here.  He was dead. Sabine was dead.  They were all dead.

His breathing sped up.  He needed- he needed to shield himself.  He needed to warn Kanan as well; the man hadn’t been shielding his signature when they had landed the shuttle, only his emotions and thoughts.

He stood from the chair, casting a last glance back at Sabine before he left the room.

He walked down the hall quickly, frustrated that he couldn’t sense exactly where Kanan was in this proximity and with the Jedi shielding his emotions.  He walked through the common room and was about to enter the cockpit when he sensed someone behind him.

“Kid?”

He whirled, heart skipping a beat until he realized it was just Kanan exiting his room and relaxed.  The man quirked an eyebrow up in inquiry.

He swallowed before answering the unasked question.  “There’s an Inquisitor here. You need to- to shield yourself.”

The raised eyebrow went higher.  “You sensed them?”

He nodded vigorously before his brow furrowed.  “Didn’t you?”

Kanan shook his head.  “I was...working on something,” he answered evasively.

He let a moment pass in silence.  “I can still sense you. Not your emotions, but- but the rest of it.  I don’t want her to find us,” he whispered hoarsely.

“Her?” Kanan echoed.  “The Inquisitor on Lothal is female?”

He nodded quickly.  “I- I know her. She didn’t bother shielding; she wants me to know she’s here, that she’s coming.”

“...because you can’t shield yourself, and she knows that,” Kanan finished.  He nodded feverishly, eliciting a sigh from the Jedi as he rubbed his temples.  “Looks like I do need to teach you that after all.”

The boy bit his lip as an expression of concern grew on his face.

“What is it?”

“I...I don’t really want a teacher.”


If he was being honest, Kanan didn’t want to teach the kid.

But he was still shocked when the kid protested on his own.

“Why?”

The kid bit down on his lip harder, cheeks flushing faintly as he scuffed a foot on the ship’s floor.  “I...still don’t really….” Whatever he said next was too soft for Kanan to hear.

“What was that?” the man asked.  The boy looked up, biting his lip harder.

“I still don’t really trust you,” he said quietly.

Kanan fought to keep amusement from showing on his face.  So he didn’t want the Jedi as a teacher because he didn’t trust him, but had he trusted the Inquisitor that had been his master previously?

“But if I don’t teach you how to shield yourself, who will?  Certainly not Sabine or Hera or Zeb.” The kid nodded in agreement.  “Then who? An Inquisitor?”

The kid flinched at the remark and its harsh delivery, ducking his head slightly.  “I- you can train me. I mean teach! Teach me! You can teach me!”

The kid was weird, but he would learn to navigate conversations with him better as time went on.  Hopefully.

He raised an eyebrow as he responded.  “I can do either, kid. If you just want me to teach you shielding, then….”  Kanan shrugged casually. “But if you want more training, just ask.”

The boy’s brows knit together in suspicion as he tried to figure out what Kanan’s ulterior motive was.  The man sighed inwardly, wishing he could help him get over that suspicion but also knowing that it had taken him years to get over his own caution—and he still hadn’t completely forgone that.  For good reason.

“Look, kid, I don’t really want to teach you either, but I wanna keep my crew safe—and at the moment, that includes you.”  The boy’s head lifted as his eyebrows shot up in surprise before he hastily lowered them again, schooling his expression instantly.  “I’ll teach you shielding, at the very least. C’mon. We can do it outside.”

Kanan turned abruptly and began to walk toward the back of the ship without looking back.  After a moment of hesitation, he heard smaller footsteps pattering behind him. He smiled to himself.

“What about Sabine?”

He glanced back at the kid.  “Chop’ll watch her. I think she’s one of the few people that bucket of bolts actually tolerates.”

There was a shriek and Kanan mentally cursed himself as the droid came shooting around a corner, screeching as he rolled toward Kanan and shocked his hand.  He rolled back and began to warble in indignation as Kanan shook his head, biting his lip in pain.

“Look, Chop, I didn’t mean it, okay?!” he muttered.  The orange and white astromech gave a warbling huff before beeping and rolling away.

“What’d he say?” the boy asked, moving up next to Kanan—well, almost next to him.  He remained a couple steps back, quickly averting his gaze when Kanan shifted his own gaze to him.

“He’s going to the med bay to watch Sabine.  He’ll comm us if she wakes up. C’mon.” Kanan resumed walking and the kid dropped behind him again.

Some things would never change.

Chapter Text

Kanan sat on the roof of the ship, crossing his legs.  The man nodded to a spot across from him and he sat down warily, eyes watching Kanan as he crossed his own legs.

“Now.  Meditation.  What do you know about it?”

He blinked in surprise.  “...not much,” he admitted sheepishly.  The Jedi’s eyes widened fractionally.

“You’re going to learn that first then.  Alright. Quiet your mind, think of nothing.  Simultaneously open yourself up to the Force around you and block everything else out.”

He raised an eyebrow but closed his eyes, breathing out slowly.  Nothing. Think of nothing.

Of course, Sabine popped into his head.

He pushed her out slowly, not as forcefully as he probably should have.

“Kid.  Stop thinking of her.”  Kanan’s voice was calm, with a faint tone of reprimand that hopefully he wouldn’t follow up on.

“Don’t read my mind,” he muttered in return without opening his eyes.

“It’s hard not to when it’s wide open.”

His eyes flashed open as he unfolded his legs and quickly stood.  Kanan followed suit.

“I don’t have good shields, okay?  But you could still respect my thoughts,” he growled in a low tone.  The Jedi’s face was impassive.

“You told me you were trained in the Dark Side by that Pau’an.  That would have included shield training.”

“He only taught me how to shield my signature.”  He bit his lip, trying to remain firm under the Jedi’s stare.

“Not your thoughts?”


The boy shook his head.

He was surprised, though after a moment he reasoned why that was.  It made sense for the Inquisitor not to show his apprentice how to hide his thoughts and feelings; he wouldn’t want the boy to try and kill him without warning.  It was a reasonable safeguard, he supposed. Not that he would ever attempt that with his Padawan.

Not that he wanted a Padawan.

He sighed.  “Then I guess we should start with that.”  His survival instincts, only honed after Order 66 was put into effect, screamed that it was counterproductive to his plan to keep his crew safe, what with having an unreadable Inquisitor around.

But the few instincts that remained from his years in the Jedi Order told him that this kid needed his help, and that if he didn’t teach him to shield himself they would all be worse off.  If they did come face to face with the female Inquisitor, he couldn’t have the boy compromising them because she could pick through his emotions easier than Hera picking her way through an asteroid field.

That was how he justified his actions that day as he taught the boy how to shield his mind.

As he tested the strength of the boy’s shields, he forced his own shields to strengthen so as not to reveal his emotions regarding the kid’s shields.  They were...meager, sparse. They only seemed to be surrounding certain things; everything else in the kid’s mind was an open book. And if he pressed, Kanan could’ve easily broken down the other shields.

Most of the kid’s shields seemed to be built out of the ruins of previous ones anyway.

The first thing he felt when actually pressing into the kid’s mind was just how ravaged it was.  It was as if someone had gone through and, instead of lightly tracing along it as he was doing, had torn apart the kid’s mind.  He was surprised the kid was still sane. The boy’s memories were dark, darker, even, than most—if not all—of Kanan’s own.

It was amazing the kid was still here; Kanan would’ve ended it all long before if his own mind had been ravaged along with his already-dark memories.

Speaking of the memories...Kanan shuddered as he quickly shifted through them, hoping the boy would manage to put up a stronger shield while he was doing so so that they could stop the exercise.  The kid had been through trauma, trauma that was almost if not more, if he dared to admit it, than what Kanan himself had been through.

A memory surfaced rapidly, almost as if it had been pushed to the front of the kid’s mind.  He realized he was seeing through the kid’s eyes as rain fell on a street.  The kid was watching it fall from underneath something; he couldn’t tell what.  Suddenly there was a loud crash and shouting. The kid looked to the right as his breathing sped up.  He remained still, but tense.

Abruptly, whatever was covering him—some sort of metal, by the way it sounded as it hit the pavement—was knocked off and a hand dragged the kid up from his crouch by the front of his shirt.

He could feel emotions, or at least fragments of emotions, through the memory.   Fear and panic and terror were currently the ones permeating this memory the most.

“I found the Loth-rat who’s been stealin’ our supplies!” the voice of the man holding the kid called.  The boy struggled, grunting quietly, but a harsh slap stilled and silenced him. “What’re we doin’ with him?”

There was footsteps and the kid started to struggle again before being roughly thrown to the ground.  He grunted, panting but remaining down.

“He’s smart at least.  Maybe he would last longer than a couple days on Kessel.”  There was laughter as the boy’s chin was jerked up to face a Twi’lek who appeared to be in his mid 30’s.  The kid’s breaths came even faster than before as he jerked to get away.

“Hold on, I recognize him.”  The Twi’lek moved out of view as a human male approached.  The kid scrambled up to a sitting position and began to back up, pushing himself away from the man before bumping into the legs of someone behind him.  He let out a soft whimper as someone—Kanan couldn’t tell who—dragged him to his feet by his arm and pinned both arms behind him.

“He’s the Bridger kid.  Empire’s payin’ a lot for all ties to rebels, and I’d definitely consider him one.”

The kid flinched back as someone approached from the side, though he couldn’t see who.

There was the vague sense of shocking pain in the side of his skull, and then blackness.

He pulled out of the kid’s mind abruptly.

The boy blinked innocently, looking up at him with a slightly guarded expression.

He took several deep breaths before speaking.  “Could you feel me in your mind?” Kanan asked evenly.

He shrugged.  “Yeah.”

“Then why didn’t you—“

“Because I was following your directions.  You said not to push you out, just to put my shields up.”  He shrugged again. “So that’s what I did.”

Kanan took another steadying breath, pressing at his temples with his hand.  Making a sudden decision, he stood up. “We’re done for the day, kid. Just- just mask your signature.”

Without another word, he walked to the side of the ship and hopped to the ground, landing lightly in a crouch.  He trusted the kid would follow on his own; Sabine was enough motivation to keep him on the Ghost.

For now.

Chapter Text

“Hey, kid.  Sabine’s awake.”  There was a pause.  “Thought you’d want to know.”

He stood from his spot on the edge of the bunk.  He had sat there, unmoving, ever since returning to the interior of the ship after his “training” with Kanan.  He wasn’t completely sure how much time had passed; he had always been bad at that without a chrono in sight. But now that Sabine was awake….

He walked to the door.  “I’ll come.”

The door slid open and Kanan made a beckoning motion with his head.  “C’mon.”

He followed the Jedi out into the corridor, ignoring his buzzing nerves as they made their way to the med bay.

The door slid open with a soft whoosh and he peered around Kanan.  The man made a soft noise of amusement and stepped to the side, sending a knowing smirk at him as the man moved out of his way.

He ignored it, instead taking a step forward so he was now even with the Jedi.  Glancing away from him and toward the cot against the wall, he caught sight of Sabine.

She had been apparently talking to the droid—Chopper, wasn’t it?—but was now making an effort to sit up, wincing as she did so.  She blinked and looked up, making eye contact with him briefly.

She smiled.

“How are you feeling?” he asked quietly.  She shrugged weakly.

“Like I got shot,” she answered hoarsely.  “That- that did happen at some point, right Ezra?”

“On Mandalore maybe, but not on the Sovereign.  At least I- I don’t think so.”

Kanan cleared his throat and he glanced up at the Jedi.

“I’ll give you two some space.  Chopper can come get me if there’s anything you need; I think he’d prefer to stay away from Hera at the moment.”  The droid warbled in agreement and Sabine’s smile widened slightly. The Jedi dipped his head before exiting, the blast door shutting softly behind him.

He turned back to Sabine.

“What happened on Mandalore?” he asked bluntly.  Sabine’s mouth twitched faintly downward. “You- you have burns,” he offered as an explanation.  He gestured to the spider-webbing burns across her arms and she shifted, pulling what remained of her sleeve over the area he had gestured to.

“I...I found my brother,” was all she said after a long, pregnant pause.  Her eyes dropped. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“It’s fine, you don’t have to,” he answered instantly.  She raised her gaze again, narrowing her eyes slightly before sighing quietly and looking away.  After a moment, he realized she was looking at Chopper.

“Chop, did the Phantom... does it still have my paints?” she asked tiredly.  The droid whirred for a moment before warbling what sounded like a noncommittal answer.  “Well can you check?” He gave a warbling huff and rolled out of the med bay. She glanced back up at him as the astromech left.  “So. They told you what happened after, I’m guessing?”

He nodded slowly.  “You...stayed with them.  Why didn’t- why didn’t you leave?”

She shrugged.  “I...I did, after a while.  After I realized my father was- that they had taken—“  She cut herself off, swallowing hard and closing her eyes for a long moment.

“You don’t have to say anything else, if- if you don’t want to.”

She nodded hesitantly after a brief pause, and they settled into silence.  After several moments, he went to the chair he had been occupying every time he had entered the med bay.

Chopper re-entered, already warbling something.  Sabine’s eyes opened slowly but immediately narrowed.

“What do you mean, ‘Hera took them?’  Go tell her they’re mine!” Sabine snapped, wincing and rubbing her forehead afterward.  Chopper shrieked something in response before exiting once more.

“Your paints?”

She sighed.  “Yeah, uh, for my armor.  I had to—“ She stopped herself and glanced around.  “Ezra, where’s my armor?”

“When I came back to the shuttle with Kanan, you’d already taken most of it off,” he replied reluctantly.  She raised an eyebrow.

“And the rest?”

“Kanan had me remove it so we could apply bacta patches.  And sedate you, he didn’t want you to pan—“

“Sedate?  With- with hypo-needles?”  Sabine’s breathing suddenly sped up and her voice began to climb in pitch.  “Hypos? Ez- Ezra, we have to...we have….” She glanced around wildly and her voice took on a haunted edge.  “Ezr- Ezra, we have to go...I can’t...I can’t go back—Tristan?!”

“Sabine, you’re fine.  Tristan- Tristan’s not here.  He’s dead.”

Her gaze snapped back to him and darkened.  “He’s- he’s not dead,” she answered with a wavering voice.  “He’s not dead.”

He glanced worriedly back at the door.  Whatever was happening to Sabine...he needed Kanan to help with that.


He sensed the boy’s distress immediately.

It was easy enough to read any of his emotions—the kid was literally an open book—but the sheer amount of distress and uncertainty and panic he was radiating at the moment was enough to make Kanan jolt.

He strode hurriedly to the med bay, barely resisting from running.  The kid was an Inquisitor, he reminded himself.  And the girl was an Imperial, a Mandalorian, and had stolen Chopper and the Phantom.

He had no reason to help them at all.

Then why was he?

He keyed the med bay door open and stepped in.  He could sense Sabine’s panic and paranoia too, now that he was close enough.  Her eyes snapped to him and she flinched back slightly.

“Where’s Tristan?” she asked hoarsely.

He slid a glance over at the boy.  Pressing into his mind, treading carefully so as not to damage it further, he posed a question.   What happened?

The boy started, eyes widening as he glanced at Kanan.  He responded slowly, his answer careful. She asked why we took her armor off and I mentioned sedatives.  She...I don’t know what happened after that. She started panicking.

She’s not here at the moment, Kanan replied quietly.  The boy’s brow furrowed as he sent confusion through to Kanan, and the latter realized he needed to elaborate.   She’s somewhere else.  Flashbacks, possibly a panic attack.  It looks like a mix of both. It was probably triggered by the mention of sedatives.

He nodded slowly in understanding, shooting a glance full of concern back at Sabine.

He really did care about her.

Can you calm her down?

The question surprised Kanan.   I’m...not sure.  You’re probably better at that than I am.  She trusts you more.

The kid nodded slowly and took several careful steps closer to Sabine.  Her eyes flicked to him and her breathing sped up again.

I need to either use the Force to make her fall asleep or sedate her again.

Don’t use the Force on her like that.  The protest was so strong it made Kanan blink.  The boy was staring at him murderously, eyes dark.

Okay okay, I won’t.  Easy kid. I’ll need you to distract her then so I can get the hypo without her panicking like she did last time.

Can’t she just stay awake?

In all honesty, the thought hadn’t crossed Kanan’s mind.   Maybe...it would actually be better for her in the long run.  You’ll have to calm her down first though.

The boy nodded, the murderous gaze easing as his expression steeled.  He turned back to Sabine.

“Sabine, hey, look at me.  You’re okay, you’re right here.  You’re not- you’re not on Mandalore anymore.”

Kanan watched, folding his arms in silence as the boy continued to talk to Sabine.  Her breathing was still shallow but seemed to slow down slightly as she appeared to listen to him.  Kanan stopped paying attention to what the kid was saying and instead just focused on the emotions flowing between him and Sabine.  There was still panic, though he had buried it below concern and a determination to make things right—

Get out of my mind.

The command was soft but sudden and Kanan quickly pulled back.  Clearly the kid was more sensitive to his probing than he had realized.  Glancing at the kid, he saw him still turned to Sabine and speaking softly to her.  Something about files. He wasn’t completely sure; he had only caught the tail end of the sentence.

Feeling for Sabine’s emotions again, he realized she was a lot calmer than before.  Still scared, but it wasn’t the raw, sheer terror and panic that had filled the room before.

You look like you’ve got this covered.  I’ll be in my room if you need me, he sent quietly, not even glancing back at the boy to see if he had acknowledged the receipt of the message.  He was too preoccupied with Sabine anyway.

As he left the med bay behind and walked to his room, however, he was surprised to hear a quiet thought in the back of his mind.  It had the odd feeling of being sent by a scared child rather than a dangerous teenager. Something about the simplicity and vulnerability of it struck Kanan.

...thank you.

Chapter Text

Ezra had retreated back to one of the chairs a few meters away after she had calmed down.  Sabine eventually laid back down, content to stare at the ceiling. They were both silent, and though she had no way to tell what he was thinking of, she had a good guess that it was the cause of...whatever had happened.  She still wasn’t completely sure, but she had a nagging feeling that it had been some sort of panic attack or breakdown.

Your mother would be ashamed, she thought bitterly.

But Ursa Wren wasn’t here.

She sighed softly, blinking as she continued to stare at the ceiling, seeing without seeing.

She heard the door open and winced as she raised her head.  Whoever had entered was too short to see from her current vantage point.

Chopper.

The droid rolled over to the side of the cot, warbling something grumpily.  She sighed again.

“Well can you at least get her in here so I can talk to her about it?”

The droid beeped something, rolling backward so he could turn and exit again.

“She’s refusing to give back my paints,” she called to Ezra as way of explanation.

“Oh.”  There was silence for a few seconds and she thought he was done speaking when he inquired, “Do you know why?”

“Because she’s mad at me,” Sabine huffed.  “I borrowed the Phantom and some supplies to go to Mandalore, and Chopper chose to go with me.  She...she’s still mad at me about all that.”

“Supplies?” Ezra echoed.  She nodded, wincing at the motion.

“Yeah.  A change of clothes, some medical supplies, hair dye—“

“Why does Hera have hair dye?”

She shrugged.  “I don’t know. I have no idea.  Maybe it’s for Kanan or something.  I don’t know if it would work on Lasats.”

“Is that what you used?”

“Yeah.”  They both fell silent.

Out of nowhere, Ezra spoke up again.  “I- I like your hair. The dye, it- it looks nice.”  He has spoken quickly, as if getting the words out before he could change his mind.

She managed to sit up enough to see the boy’s  cheeks flushing. He caught her eye and quickly glanced down, cheeks darkening further.

“Th- thanks,” she said quietly, letting herself lay down again.  She felt her own face heating up, but didn’t attempt to stop it. Trying to do so would only make it worse.

The door slid open and she heard Chopper’s whirring followed by footsteps.

“Sabine, I’m not giving your paints back,” Hera stated flatly as she arrived at the side of the cot.  She crossed her arms, a look of irritation flashing across her face.

“They’re not yours,” Sabine muttered.

“Neither was the Phantom, Chopper, or anything else you ‘borrowed.’”

She sighed and pushed herself into a sitting position, wincing as pain spread across her burns.  “Ezra, could you give us a minute?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course,” he responded, standing swiftly and nodding before leaving.  Sabine returned her gaze to Hera.

“Hera, I’m sure you know what happened to my father by now,” she began slowly, voice already beginning to waver.  She cursed it silently. “I only borrowed those supplies so I could try to rescue him. And Chopper chose to come with me, of his- of his own volition.”

Hera raised an eyebrow but remained silent.  Finally she sighed.

“When you leave, you can have them back.  I don’t want to risk you painting anything on my ship,” the woman said firmly.  “But not before that.” Abruptly, Hera turned and left. Sabine let out a shaky sigh and rubbed her temples, leaning back against the wall.


“Let go.”

His heartbeat—and that of another, though whose he didn’t know—was a strong undercurrent to the scene before him.  A boy he nearly recognized but couldn’t place glanced first at him before glancing at something behind him. But something seemed...off about the whole thing.  Maybe it was the colors, or the way the light was reflecting off of the plants around them.

“I can’t!”

The fear, the desperation in the boy’s voice didn’t match the calm expression of the one before him.  Underneath that surface, however, he knew there was a storm raging. He couldn’t explain how he knew, just that he did know.

“Don’t be afraid.”

With a jolt, he realized both voices were familiar.  This one more so than the second.

“I’m not afraid of them.

The boy in front of him said something he couldn’t hear and moved away, walking toward the entrance of a cave.  Suddenly he paused, glancing back. The boy seemed to sigh before unclipping a lightsaber from his belt and tossing it to him.

“Then what?”

Something seemed….

“I don’t know.”

Desperation was growing in the boy’s voice.  He turned, searching for the source of the voice.  But there was no one else there, besides a strange creature almost as large as the Ghost that he nearly missed because of the way it blended into the fauna.  The Force...the creature seemed almost made from it, it was so strong around it.  He turned his attention away from it quickly, catching its glare.

“Yes, you do!”

He recognized the voice.  It was his own. And the urgency in it shocked him.

“I—“

The boy in front of him entered the cave, and he realized what was wrong about the haziness of the whole image.  Realized why he couldn’t see details of it.

“Ezra!  What are you afraid of?”

He was- he wasn’t really—

“I’m afraid of- I’m afraid of knowing.”

No.  This had to be a dream.  It had to be.  Because he wouldn’t accept that it was true.   Couldn't accept that it was true.  It couldn’t- couldn’t be—

“I’m afraid of the truth!”

He was blind.

Kanan gasped for breath and jolted up, promptly smacking his head on the bottom of the bunk above him.  He winced, rubbing his forehead.

“Ow,” he muttered to himself, glancing around the nearly-empty room.

He had had a dream—no, a vision— but he remembered none of it.  Only that it had left a sinking feeling that something wasn’t right and that he needed to fix it, and fast.

But Kanan had no idea what was wrong.

And if he had no idea what was wrong, then how was he supposed to fix it and make it right?

Chapter Text

“We should be landing at Fort Anaxes soon.  Once we do, you’re staying in your room, and Sabine’ll stay in the med bay.  Chop can keep an eye on her, and as soon as we’re done with the job you can go check on her again.”  Kanan paused and lowered his voice. “And don’t try to see her through the air vents. This is a trust exercise; you stay in your room for once, and maybe I can convince Hera to let you stay longer if you and Sabine want to.  Okay?”

He hesitated before nodding slowly.

Kanan clapped a hand on his shoulder but quickly pulled back, biting his lip as he saw him flinch back.  “Good. It should be a quick job.” The Jedi keyed open the room and he stepped inside warily, glancing back.

“What if she gets sicker while you guys are—“

“She won’t, kid.  It’ll be fast. I promise.”

Without another word, the man keyed the door closed, and he was alone.


He actually listened to Kanan’s instructions for once, and remained in his room once the Ghost landed.

He paced in circles, unable to shake the feeling that something was either wrong now or was going to be wrong very soon.

Finally he gave a frustrated sigh and sat on the bunk, placing his elbows on his knees and putting his head in his hands.

Shield yourself.  Go on, do it. You can’t, though.  You’re weak.

No.  He was not weak.

But he needed to shield himself.

He forced himself to try, closing his eyes and starting to build barriers.  Emotions had to come last if he wanted to shield his memories as well.

Currently, his only remaining shields were protecting the memories of the beginning of his training.

And he wasn’t taking those down any time soon, not with the risk that Kanan would glimpse it.

His shields around his memories of Sabine had been destroyed on the Sovereign and at the Lothal garrison.  Those would be the first ones he rebuilt.

He squeezed his eyes tightly shut, trying desperately to build the shields up again.  Slowly, they started to come back.

Too slowly.

But rushing things wouldn’t help.

He took steadying breaths in and out, focusing only on the shields.

But when he felt the signature, he froze, eyes opening as his breath caught in his throat.

No.  No no no.

Not now.  Not yet.

He wasn’t ready.

Kanan, she’s- she’s coming.  We need to go now.


"He should still be with her, and the tracker should suffice to lead you to both of them.  And they want her for reconditioning, so try to leave her mostly intact?

The Inquisitor chuckled softly before she replied, her mask making her voice echo oddly.  “I’ll try. No promises.”

There was a brief, frustrated sigh on the other end.  “Please do.  And remember, they want the boy alive.”

“‘Alive’ is a loose term.”  She shut off the comm channel, smirking to herself as she watched her ship approach the small blip that was the tracker.

“Alive” was most definitely a loose term.

And she wouldn’t lie to herself—she was a loose cannon.

Chapter Text

He was in the air vents in moments, army crawling through to where he knew Kanan’s room was.  He could drop out there and leave from there, unless the Jedi kept his door locked. He wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

Opening the vent above Kanan’s room, he dangled by his hands for a moment before dropping to the floor in a low crouch.  He rose and turned to exit but paused, turning slightly to look over his shoulder.

There was a low humming coming from one of the drawers beneath Kanan’s bunk, almost like...singing.  It was familiar, and yet he had no idea where he had heard—no, felt— anything like it before.

He took slow, measured steps toward it, feeling for the catch to open it.  He found it and the drawer slid open silently.

Inside were his broken lightsaber and a small, blue cube that seemed to pulse faintly with light.

He had only heard about these; he’d never seen one in the flesh.

A Jedi holocron.

He picked it up almost reverently, a complete contrast to the mixture of disgust and morbid fascination that reigned on his face.  He inspected every inch of it before laying it flat on his palm, closing his eyes and concentrating.

He felt it vibrate faintly, but even after several minutes nothing happened.

He finally opened his eyes, sighing in frustration as he put the cube back.  He removed his lightsaber and stood, hitting the ignition for both ends. Only one end actually ignited, however.  The other remained dormant.

One end was still good.  It wouldn’t help much against the other Inquisitor, but it was still good.

He closed the drawer and left Kanan’s room.

He walked down the corridor of the Ghost, more than a bit frustrated that the Jedi hadn’t responded to his mental call of distress.  Though, he supposed, it would make sense if the man was ignoring him. The man barely seemed to tolerate him anyway.  Though he was better than Hera. A shudder ran through him at the memory of the furious Twi’lek woman when she had discovered him and Sabine in the med bay.

He keyed the loading ramp open and waited impatiently for it to open.  As he did so, a warning rang in his head.

Kid, what’re you doing?!

Coming to help.

The ramp clanged to the ground and he walked down it, restraining from running as his nerves hummed.

His foot hit the ground, and instantly he felt then.

Creatures, without a specific alignment to the Force, and a lot of them.

He felt their anger, derived from the basic drive to defend their territory from these invaders.  The base fury washed over him, enveloping him, drawing him into itself like a web. The invaders, he had to drive them off.  He advanced toward the group of creatures, toward the pack. His pack.  His pack was strong.  His pack would stand together, would—

Kid, what’re you doing?!  The same voice as before interrupted his thoughts, repeating himself.   Snap out of it!

He blinked.  His ‘saber was in his hand, the good blade already ignited.  He was trembling, and with a shock he realized Hera’s crew had their weapons already out and in defensive positions.

Against him.

“Step away from the fyrnocks, kid.”  Kanan’s voice was calm, but his lightsaber was out and ignited, casting a soft blue glow on his face in the shadow cast by the asteroid above them.

Glancing around, he realized he was surrounded by the creatures he had— connected with?

But their anger was not aimed at him; instead, it was aimed at the crew of the Ghost.

He sheathed his ‘saber blade and lowered his arm.  Instantly he felt a tug on the hilt as Kanan tried to call it to him, but he tightened his own grip on it.

“Kid, let me have the ‘saber,” he heard the Jedi say with a slight undertone of impatience.

“No,” he found himself saying.

“Kid, ‘saber.  Now.”

“I said no.

Just for a moment, the Jedi’s eyes darkened.  He felt the man brush against his mind and newly constructed but still weak shields.  He shoved the presence out roughly and Kanan took a physical step back.

“Hera, Zeb, go back to the Ghost, ” the Jedi said quietly.  The man never took his eyes off him.

“Not this time,” Zeb responded evenly.

“We’re with you, Kanan.”  Hera’s icy glare almost made him shrink back.  Almost.

The Jedi sighed.  “Alright.” He raised his voice, now addressing him.  “Kid, hand over the ‘saber and leave the fyrnocks alone now, and we won’t have any issues.  It’s your last warning.”

“I’m not going up against an Inquisitor defenseless.”

Kanan’s face darkened as he raised an eyebrow, adopting a skeptical expression.  “Are you even sur—“

He felt a sudden tremor in the Force and glanced up.  She was coming out of hyperspace.

“She’s here,” he said softly.

Kanan, Hera, and Zeb glanced up.  Hera pulled out her commlink.

“Chopper, is there anything dropping out of hyperspace?”

There was a brief moment of static before the droid’s shrieked response could be heard.  Kanan’s face paled.

He swallowed hard and made sure his shields were firm.

This was it.


Kanan had honestly thought the kid was bluffing.  Okay, he had honestly hoped the kid was bluffing.

But according to Chopper, he wasn’t, which was bad.

Kanan took a breath and allowed himself a moment to close his eyes and recenter himself, preparing for the inevitable battle.  They wouldn’t be able to get out in the Ghost quick enough.

And with the way the kid was acting at the moment, they would be lucky to get out at all.

“I thought you said he couldn’t get out of his room?” Hera hissed the question quietly enough that the boy wouldn’t be able to hear.  He leaned down slightly to answer, not taking his eyes off of the kid.

“Well it looks like I was wrong.”

The air vents.  He should’ve known the kid would try something like this.

But finding his lightsaber?  Admittedly, it had been in somewhat of an obvious place, but—

The holocron.  His holocron. Had the kid found it?  Who knew what he would’ve done with it.  What he still could do with it.

Kanan didn’t have much time to pursue that line of thought, because the Inquisitor’s TIE had just arrived.

He watched as it settled down calmly on the asteroid, the hatch opening and a lithe figure hopping out as if it was merely a matter of skipping a step on the stairs instead of dropping ten or more feet.  She landed in a crouch and stood smoothly, turning her helmeted head to look at the boy.

The kid was nearly quaking in terror, swallowing hard every few seconds.

“Well now.  It looks like you’ve done your job well, child.  Now finish it. Kill them.”

Her voice had an odd echoing quality that Kanan shook off as he studied the boy carefully.  The boy shook his head firmly.

“No.”

The Inquisitor laughed, taking a step toward the boy and seemingly ignoring everyone else.

Hera fired a charge at her.

Instantly the Inquisitor’s lightsaber was ignited in her hand and she was turning, deflecting the charge back at them.  Kanan’s own ‘saber was up just in time to deflect it into the ground.

“You have a reputation now, you know,” the Inquisitor continued as she turned her attention back away from Hera, seemingly still addressing the boy.  He swallowed hard again, shifting his grip on the ‘saber as he raised it. He still kept the blade sheathed, though he watched the woman with a calculated coldness that just managed to cover his fear.

“Word on the street is you killed your master.”  She began to take slow, measured steps toward the boy, ignoring the fyrnocks.  Something in Kanan’s mind screamed at him to step between them. “Is that so?”

“I…” the boy trailed off, and for a moment Kanan thought he was going to go with the truth.  Then he swallowed. “I did.”

The Inquisitor stopped, mere steps away from the boy.  “I’m impressed,” she admitted, the tone of admiration obvious.  “You’ve improved since we last met face to face.” She fell silent and within a moment the boy’s eyes were closed, his face contorting in pain.

“Get—out—of—my—head!” he yelled suddenly.  There was only a low growl as a warning before one of the fyrnocks leapt at the Inquisitor.

She cut it down easily, halving the creature before it could leave a mark.

“Still as defiant as always, child,” she chuckled, closing the distance between them.

“Get on the ship, now, ” Kanan muttered urgently.  “Set coordinates for Garel. We can lie low for a while there.  This might be our only chance.”

“Kanan—“

Now, Hera.  Or we die. ”  There was a moment’s pause and he briefly tore his eyes away from the Inquisitor to see Hera shoot him a glare before she and Zeb started their retreat to the Ghost.

He turned back to the Inquisitor and the boy.  She was saying something to him that he couldn’t quite make out, and raising a hand to touch his cheek.  He flinched violently away, beginning to tremble again.

Briefly sensing for their emotions, Kanan felt the terror that had been there before was now tripled and combined with repulsion.

The Inquisitor drew back suddenly, raising her voice so Kanan could hear her now as well.

“Do you know what it means to kill your master, boy?” she asked in a clear voice.

The kid accidentally projected his real thoughts on the matter to Kanan, and possibly the Inquisitor as well.   It means I’ve rid the galaxy of his plague.

The Inquisitor’s soft laugh was enough to confirm that she had also sensed the thought.  “Perhaps. But in a broader sense, it means that you inherit his rank. And have now finished with your training, though you still have yet to kill a Jedi,” she noted with a disapproving tone.

Rank?  The Inquisitors had ranks?

He supposed it made sense that they would; after all, they were affiliated with the hierarchy-obsessed Empire.

“But that can be...arranged.”  She turned to look at Kanan and he felt a chill run through him.

“I don’t want to be Grand Inquisitor.”

Kanan’s eyes snapped back to the boy.  The Pau’an had been the Grand Inquisitor?  No, the Grand Inquisitor had been this kid’s master?

“There are many who will gladly take that title from you once we return.  Now kill this Jedi, and—“

The boy actually took a step back from her this time.

“I’m not going back to the Works or Mustafar with you.  Or anyone.”

The Inquisitor raised a hand, pressing a button on the side of her helmet that retracted the panels covering her face.  Kanan caught a glimpse of the Mirialan’s look of fury before she turned it on the boy.

“You will come back with me, child.  Or you will suffer the consequences,” she snarled.

“There’s nothing back there for me,” he growled back.  The fyrnocks surrounding the pair began to mimic him, lips peeing back to reveal teeth ready to tear into whoever the kid ordered them to.

Kanan knew that if he was going to leave, now would be the time.

But he found himself needing to know how this would play out.

“And what about m—“

“I’m not afraid of you anymore!” the kid yelled.  “Don’t bother trying to scare me anymore. I’m not- not afraid of you anymore.”

Kanan was taken aback.  The kid was beginning to struggle to keep his emotions under control, but the Inquisitor also appeared uncertain.

He really should leave.

“You claim you don’t fear me, yet you don’t seem to be able to keep your emotions in check.  Perhaps the Dark Side is rooted deeper in you than you would have had us believe,” the Inquisitor mused.

“It is n —“  He fell silent, eyes squeezing shut.  She must have attacked his shields again; the kid was screaming in seconds as he struggled to remain standing.

More and more, he was beginning to wonder how the kid survived more than even a week with the Inquisitorius.

He heard footsteps on the loading ramp and turned, about to warn Hera to go back inside when he stopped.  It was Sabine, bracing herself on the support rods as she carefully made her way down the ramp.

And somehow, she had managed to find one of her blasters; she now had one in hand.

The fury in her glare was enough to even make Kanan glad he wasn’t at the receiving end of it—for the moment, at least.

Chapter Text

“Step away from him.”

Sabine’s voice was ragged as she made her way down the loading ramp of the Ghost.  She tried to disguise how shaky her grip on the blaster was as the armored woman next to Ezra slowly turned to her.

“Ah.  The Mandalorian.”  Her voice was high, with a faint echo to it.  The woman must be an Inquisitor...and it appeared, though Sabine couldn’t tell from this distance, she was a Mirialan.  With her and Ezra’s master both aliens, maybe the Inquisitorius was an exception to the xenophobia that was prevalent in the rest of the Empire.

“Yes, I’m the Mandalorian,” she answered the woman impatiently.  “Now get away from him.” She leveled her blaster at the Inquisitor.  “Or die.”

The Inquisitor stopped whatever she was doing to Ezra and his screams petered out as he collapsed to his knees before falling silent.

“Do you honestly believe you could best me in a fight, if it came to that?”  She laughed, yellow eyes narrowing. “Do you really?

Sabine bit her lip and adjusted her grip on the blaster.

“Sabine...don’t.”

She glanced over at Ezra, blinking as sweat began to bead on her forehead.  He was trying to make his voice deep again, like he had when they had first met, despite the hoarseness of it.  Her vision darkened momentarily and she blinked again. The navy-haired boy staggered to his feet, adjusting his grip on his lightsaber.

His lightsaber.  Somehow, he had gotten it back.

She just hoped it worked.

Sabine’s vision wavered again and she blinked, refocusing on the Inquisitor.  She raised her second hand to steady her grip and nearly fell in the process. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Kanan carefully walking back to the Ghost.  She ignored him as he jogged up the loading ramp behind her.

“Ezra, get back to the ship,” she said quietly, glancing quickly at him before returning her attention to the Inquisitor.

“You think you can leave that easily, girl?  Haven’t you figured it out yet?” The Inquisitor laughed again and Sabine bit down harder on her lip and remained silent.  Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Ezra began to take slow steps toward her. The fyrnocks surrounding him remained still, but their heads turned to watch him.  She briefly wondered if he was doing the same thing to them that he had done to the loth-cat.

The Inquisitor’s expression morphed into a mixture of genuine disbelief and amusement.  “You really don't know?  Child, you didn’t think to scan her after the incident on the Sovereign?

Her eyes flicked warily to Ezra’s again.  “Ezra…?” she questioned in a low tone.

The Inquisitor smirked and stepped back.  “I’ll leave you be for now, boy. It’ll be more...fun to see how this plays out.”

Without warning the fyrnocks leapt as one at the Inquisitor.  Ezra tore back toward the Ghost, grabbing Sabine’s hand and dragging her back up the loading ramp.  She stumbled after him, slamming the controls to close the door behind them.  She tugged her hand out of his grasp and ran to the ladder to leave the cargo bay.

“Kanan!  We can go now!” Sabine shouted up the ladder.  Within moments she felt the engines start.

She heard footsteps behind her and realized her hand holding the blaster was trembling.  She half-turned to face Ezra, vision darkening again for a moment.

“Sabine?”  His voice sounded off, and his face seemed fuzzy.

“Your voice...it’s….”

The blaster slipped out of her hand as her vision darkened completely as she collapsed.


KANAN!  Kananshe’scollapsedandIdon’tknowwhattodoKananpleasehurryKananplease—

I’m coming.

The firm reassurance was enough to quiet him but not enough to assuage his fear.  Sabine had just- she had just collapsed into his arms without warning and here he was, holding her without any idea of what to do—

“Kid.  What happened?”

He glanced up, wild terror in his eyes as he watched the Jedi descend the ladder.  He skipped the last three rungs, hopping down and quickly closing the distance between them.

“She just- she just collapsed.  We came inside, and- and she just—“

Kanan knelt and took Sabine from him and gave her a cursory examination.  The Jedi’s face darkened for a moment before graying.

The Jedi stood, still carrying Sabine.  He realized that he had been kneeling as well and stood, swallowing hard.

“We need to get her to the med bay.  Now. Help me lift her.”

He nodded and helped, closing his eyes to help himself focus as they carefully lifted her up the ladder.  Kanan climbed it quickly, pulling out his comm as he did so. “Sabine’s collapsed and we’re getting her to the med bay now.  We need to get to Garel as soon as possible; I don’t think we have the supplies.” The Jedi didn’t wait for an answer as he picked up Sabine again and started toward the med bay.  “Chop! As soon as we’re in hyperspace I need you!” the man called.

He followed, nearly running after the Jedi as he keyed open the med bay door and deposited Sabine onto the cot once more.

“She- she needs a scan, too.”

Kanan glanced up at him, brow furrowing.  “Why—“

“She just needs one.”

The Jedi’s brows knit together further but he didn’t press the issue, instead pushing away from the cot and moving to the cabinets to get supplies out.

They lapsed into silence as Kanan tended to Sabine, setting up a few monitors and checking them every now and then while he filled various hypo-needles.  Finally the Jedi broke the silence.

“So, kid.  There was something the Inquisitor said that’s been nagging at me.”

He froze.  No. No no no.  Not this.

“Tell me who she was.”

Chapter Text

Instantly he threw up every shield he had, especially the ones surrounding his training.

And the time he had spent with Seven.

“Kid, it’s okay.  The Inquisitor said you weren’t scared of her anymore anyway, right?  Just tell me about her.”

He swallowed hard, gazing at the ground instead of at Kanan.

“You said she doesn’t scare you anymore?  Why ‘anymore?’” Kanan continued to press. The man sat on his usual chair and gestured for him to do the same.  Reluctantly, he did.

Uncomfortably he finally started to speak.  “She...she was in the Inquisitorius before I was.  I only met her...later. A couple years in.” He swallowed hard and stopped, continuing to stare at the ground.

“On Mustafar?”

“Y- yeah.  She- she’s called Seven.”

“Seven?”  He risked a quick glance up to see Kanan staring at him in confusion.

He nodded.  “The Seventh Sister.  It’s- it’s her title, her rank.”  He gestured vaguely to the outside of the med bay before swallowing and continuing.  “I might’ve- might’ve had one by now. If...if I’d killed you that first time back on Lothal.”  It was a terrifying thought. He imagined remaining there, in the Inquisitorius, being expected to go out on his own and kill people like Kanan.  Like Sabine, even. He forced himself to continue. “She- she trained me, sometimes.  When my own master couldn’t. I...she always volunteered to. Other times….No matter what I said….I think everyone else just- just thought it was…” he trailed off uncertainly, swallowing hard.

He risked another glance up at Kanan to see a troubled expression on the Jedi’s face.  As he opened his mouth to ask another question, the door opened and Chopper let out a shriek as he charged in.

“Sabine needs a scan.”  Kanan rose and gestured to Sabine.  The astromech beeped a question and the Jedi shrugged in answer.  “I don’t know. Ask the kid.” Turning to him, Kanan translated, “He’s asking what he should be scanning for.”

“Could you...um...go…?” he asked Kanan hesitantly.  Kanan raised an eyebrow.

“Is it—“

Sensing the direction the Jedi’s thoughts were going, he quickly intervened.  “No! It’s not that, it’s just...I don’t know what they did, and….”

The Jedi nodded slowly, still not fully convinced.  “Chop, if it’s something you think we should know about, tell us anyway.”  The droid chirped affirmatively and the Jedi cast him another long glance before exiting.  He stood, exhaling slowly.

“You- you can scan her, Chopper.  For anything that seems...out of the ordinary.”

The droid chirped again and rolled forward.  A low hum came from him, presumably the scanner.  A minute or so later, the astromech chirped and rolled backward, projecting an image.

“What’s wrong with…oh.  Oh no.” His voice dropped to a whisper as he examined the projection, face paling.  “We- we have to get out of here….” He glanced down at Sabine, swallowing hard before looking back at the droid.  He beeped in question. “No, not now. When we’re back on Lothal with the shuttle, or if there’s a ship we can steal on Garel.  Can you disable it remotely?”

The droid hummed before falling silent.  After several minutes the droid beeped in the negative and his shoulders deflated slightly.  “We’ll need to get it out….And the Ghost doesn’t have the equipment for that.”

Chopper chirped a suggestion but he shook his head.  “No. I don’t want to risk it. Where did you say it was?”  The droid chirped again. He sighed in defeat, rubbing his temples.  “That’ll probably need a professional...and with the Empire looking for her….We have to leave.  If Kanan finds out I kept this from him and we’re still here….”

Chopper warbled sadly, dome tilting down slightly.

He sighed and sat down again.

You’re always a failure.


Chopper rolled back into the med bay, beeping as he interrupted Kanan and the boy’s heated conversation several hours later.  The droid knew it had something to do with Sabine, or at least guessed that much. The boy normally only got this agitated over her.  And rightfully so, Chopper reasoned smugly. Sabine was a big improvement over Zeb and even Kanan.

Speaking of the Jedi, he glanced up, raising an eyebrow as he spotted the droid.  “What is it Chop?”

Chopper beeped indignantly about the fact that Kanan sounded exasperated with him and the man sighed, shaking his head.

“Just go ahead and tell me whatever it is.”

Chopper huffed and began to warble, explaining that they were nearing Garel and that Hera wanted Kanan back up in the cockpit and the boy back in his room.  Chopper also added that Sabine would need someone to watch over her in case she woke up, and smugly suggested that Chopper was the right droid for the job.

Hera hadn’t given the astromech that suggestion, but the droid could make inferences without her input.  Given, they weren’t always good inferences, but they were still better than nothing.

Kanan sighed, running a hand over his face as he stood.  “Alright. C’mon kid, let’s go. Chop’ll watch her.” The droid warbled a goodbye and waved with one of his prongs as well as the boy stood to follow Kanan.  Once they left and the door closed behind them, Chopper rolled over to the side of the cot and stopped, performing another scan. The droid beeped in irritation; the results were still the same.

And Chopper didn’t have the skills to fix it anymore than the boy or Kanan did.  (Though to be fair, Chopper had avoided telling Kanan the true results of the scan, even though they were probably results that would fall under what Kanan would think he needed to know.)

But if helping Sabine meant Chopper would have to go against direct orders to do so, Chopper gladly would.

After all, she didn’t shed.

Chapter Text

He prepared himself mentally for when they would return to Lothal.

He raised his shields, silently knowing that the Empire would be waiting but knowing it would be a risk he would have to take anyway.

And he warned Sabine.


Admittedly, Hera knew the girl had collapsed soon after walking, but she was still firm on her previous decision.

“I said they were leaving when she could walk.  She can walk; they’re now leaving. End of discussion.”

“Hera, I don’t like ‘em anymore'n you do, but they are just kids.”  Her gaze slid to Zeb as she raised an eyebrow.

“One’s an Inquisitor.  The other has stolen both the Phantom and Chopper, among other things, and has also used up a fair amount of our medical supplies despite being an Imperial.”  She shot a glare at Kanan as she spoke. “We’re landing on Lothal in less than an hour. Chopper, go warn them they’ll be leaving then.”  The droid grumbled but rolled off, wheels squeaking faintly even as the cockpit door slid shut behind him.

“I’ll go with him, make sure there’s no miscommunications,” Kanan offered, standing and exiting.

“I’ve gotta...check some...things.”  Zeb stood awkwardly and left. Hera sighed.

Kanan didn’t like the Inquisitor much more than she did, or at least that’s what she had thought.  Now, however, it seemed she was wrong.


“So why did she just let you go?”

Ezra sighed before answering, running a hand through his hair.  “She- she has ways of finding us.”

“Tracking your signature?”

He nodded, then shook his head.  “More like...my emotions. I’ve spent so much time with the Inquisitorius, it’s- it’s almost easier to just track my emotions.  But there’s also...on the Sovereign, they’ve- they put a tracker in you.”  He gestured to her shoulder and Sabine glanced down at it, frowning.

“That...wasn’t on the Sovereign.

He blinked.  “It wasn’t?”

She shook her head.  “No, it- I think it was on Mandalore.”  A sudden realization hit her and her eyes widened.  “That’s...that’s how they found Tristan and me,” she whispered hoarsely.  “On- on the landing pad.”

“On Mandalore?  You- were you imprisoned there?”  His voice was hesitant, as if he wasn’t sure he should even be asking those questions.  She nodded in answer.

The med bay door opened and Chopper rolled in, grumbling something about them having to leave soon.  Ezra nodded.

“Thanks Chop,” Sabine said tiredly.  The droid warbled something else and then turned to exit as Kanan walked in.

“Hera said you guys are leaving as soon as we stop on Lothal.”

“I know,” Ezra muttered.  “Chopper told us.”

Kanan looked between them skeptically and then down at Chopper, nodding slowly.  “...Right.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, we’ll be landing by the shuttle you two stole, so you can just take that and be on your way again.”

Ezra nodded slowly.

“I’ll be in my room.”  Kanan cast a meaningful glance at Ezra before exiting, Chopper warbling as he followed.

Sabine glanced at Ezra as the door shut, sighing.  “So the tracker. How are we getting it out?”

“My parents knew a guy, a- a medic.  If he’s still in operation...and the Empire hasn’t taken over his place yet...we should be safe to go there.”  She nodded, laying back down. His brows knit together in concern. “Do you think you’ll be able to walk into Capital City without collapsing?”

“First time for everything,” she smiled.


The Ghost landed and Hera strode into the med bay immediately after, hands on her hips.

“Get off my ship.  Now.”

He nodded immediately, hopping off his chair and walking to the cot.  Sabine stood unsteadily and he grabbed her duffel, slinging it over his shoulder as he hovered next to her in case she showed signs of collapsing again.

They reached the loading ramp and descended slowly, Sabine nearly clinging to the supports though she tried to hide it.  Kanan and Hera stood with folded arms at the bottom of the ramp, with Zeb and Chopper nearby. He caught Kanan’s gaze just long enough to see something akin to regret flash in the man’s eyes.

It was gone faster than it had appeared.  He shook his head to rid himself of the memory.

They reached the foot of the ramp and Kanan stepped forward.

“You’ve already got your ‘saber back and Sabine found a blaster somehow.  But you’re still missing a couple.” The Jedi handed the blaster he had stolen on the Sovereign along with Sabine’s remaining blaster over to him.  He took them warily, eyes flicking down to the blasters before back up.  He dipped his head in thanks and turned, handing Sabine’s blaster to her.  Wordlessly, she slipped it into one of her holsters.

As they passed Chopper and Zeb, Sabine paused to pat the astromech’s dome.  “Bye Chop.” The droid let out a sad warble, dome tilting down as she left them behind.

Once they were out of sight and what he deemed to be far enough away, they paused.  “Capital City’s...this way,” he said, taking a moment to get his bearings.

She nodded, staggering next to him as they returned to the place where it all started.


"Repeat, the Imperial Academy is now on full lockdown.  The Imperial Academy is now on full lockdown. Cadet 097625 is….

He tuned out the PA’s words as he skidded around another corner, stumbling for a step before regaining his balance.  He took a moment to remove and then throw his cadet helmet to the ground before continuing. The klaxons blared in his ears as the red emergency lights flashed along the walls.  He flew down another corridor and paused, panting as he reoriented himself before darting off again.

My name is Jai Kell my homeworld is Lothal I am not an Inquisitor my name is Jai Kell my homeworld is Lothal I am not an Inquisitor my name is Jai Kell my homeworld is Lothal I am not an Inquisitor and I never will be!

His heart pounded in his chest as he rounded another corner.

“Cadet stop!  That’s an order!”  He ignored the officer as he tore down the hall.

Move.

The warning was short, quick, and enough to make him take two steps to the left.  The blaster charges whizzed by in quick succession on his right and he again thanked whatever extra sense warned him of the charges.

After rounding another corner, he slowed long enough to pull out his blaster.  It was permanently set on stun since he was still a cadet-- had been-- but it would at least slow down the pursuit.

He turned, firing almost blindly over his shoulder.  Finally he stopped running long enough to shoot, hitting the officer and both ‘troopers before turning to the cadet.

“Wait!”

Jai barely paused, lowering the blaster barrel half an inch.  “Why should I?”

“There’s nobody at the west end; they all went east.  They haven’t finished locking everything down yet. You can still get out that way, if you hurry.  They always leave a couple speeders unlocked there.”

His eyes narrowed, trying to determine who was behind the helmet.  His eyes widened in recognition a moment later. “Zare?”

The cadet nodded once, then made a shooting gesture.  “Go!” Jai gave another glance at the officer and stormtroopers.  “ Go!

“What’s your cover?”

“I’ll say you shot me too.  They’ll wake up soon.”

He turned to run but stopped.  “They won’t believe you if it didn’t happen.”  Jai shot the other cadet before turning the corner and sprinting off toward the west end of the complex.

Chapter Text

He managed to get them into the city with some Force suggestions easily enough.

He would focus on getting out when it came time for that.

He could tell Sabine was going to collapse soon; it was a miracle she was still walking this far into the city.  But he needed to find the medic soon. If she collapsed and the Empire found them….

He slowed as they reached a familiar building.  “I’ll check in Old Jho’s. He- he’s not sympathetic to the Imperials.  If anyone knows about that medic, it’ll be him.”

Sabine nodded wearily.  “Should I wait outside? I’ve been here before; someone might recognize me.”

He shrugged.  “You choose. You might want to come in, just in case a patrol comes this way.”  She nodded again and followed him in, ducking her head to avoid notice.

Not that brightly dyed hair helped much with that.

He led the way around the perimeter of the room, slowing as they reached the bar.  “Jho!” he hissed. The Ithorian ambled over from the other end of the bar.

“Bridger?” he asked quietly, not bothering to hide the slight surprise that came with the recognition.

He hesitated before nodding quickly.  “I’m looking for Jumlin. Is he still…?”

The Ithorian hesitated before answering.  “Last I checked, he was still around. Check Seventh Street.”

Sabine spoke up, taking a step forward though she kept her head down.  “That’s too close to the Imperial Academy.”

Jho shrugged.  “That’s what the last rumor I heard said.  You two can see for yourselves. He’ll probably be in an alley off Seventh, if so.”

Sabine shot him a glance, though she didn’t say anything.  He felt her unease and resolved to address it further once they left.

“Thanks.”

Jho nodded.  After a brief pause, he added, “I heard about your parents a couple years ago.  I’m sorry.”

The brilliantly red ‘saber, shoving through them, ending their lives—

“It’s fine,” he answered, a cold undertone to his voice.  “We’d...better go.”

Jho nodded and Sabine turned, trying to hide the fact that she had been leaning heavily on the bar counter to support herself.  He turned with her, avoiding supporting her but hovering nearby in case.

Neither looked back as they exited.

Once they were what Sabine deemed to be a safe distance away, she spoke up again.  “First of all, are you sure he won’t turn us in?”

He nodded.  “He’s safe. He plays anti-Imperial stuff occasionally.  He- he used to play my parents’ broadcasts,” he added, voice dropping.  Sabine nodded slowly in understanding.

“Second question: are you sure this medic is legit?  I mean, he said he was in an alley off a street close to the Academy!”

“He knows what he’s doing.  He’ll be able to get the tracker out.”  Sabine just sighed, shaking her head.

“I sure hope so,” he heard her mutter under her breath.


He had ditched the speeder after two blocks; he was well aware—perhaps more so than most of the others—that it was only too easy to hide tracking devices inside them.  Still, it had put a decent enough distance between him and the Academy. And he knew these streets better than a lot of people.

He finally stopped at the side of a building, taking a moment to breathe heavily and glance out at the street the building bordered.  Jai watched it with narrowed eyes, waiting for a knot in the traffic so that he could slip into it and just...disappear. The wailing of the klaxons at the Academy still reached him, though they had faded into mere background noise in his head.  He didn’t know when they would start searching off-campus, but he didn’t intend to stay here long enough to find out.

Keep moving.

He heeded the nudge and pushed off of the wall, stumbling momentarily and hissing in pain as his bad arm painfully scraped against the side of the building.  He had been shot by the last ‘trooper he’d seen on campus before making his escape.

The ‘trooper had deserved what he’d gotten in exchange.

Jai glanced down at himself, sighing.  If he had no idea where to find something to change into, he should’ve at least kept the helmet to make the cadet uniform complete.

In retrospect, sometimes he was almost glad for the anonymity the Empire offered.

He needed to ditch the cadet uniform once he found a suitable replacement.  They would be sending out patrols soon, with instructions to stun (if they didn’t outright decide he was a waste of time and simply better off dead) any cadet they encountered—the rest of them, the “good kids,” would all be in the Academy.

He had been one of their good kids, once.

But if that meant becoming an Inquisitor, working with the beings who just felt so wrong every time he was around them, learning to force himself to ignore those warnings he got (every time he was around the Inquisitors the warnings screamed at him to get out getoutgetoutGETOUT, so he did)—then he wouldn’t be their star pupil any longer.

Besides, Zare deserved it more than he did.  He had told Jai the real reason he’d applied, and if the Inquisitors had something to do with his sister’s disappearance, then maybe Zare would find whatever he was looking for by following them.

Jai would find whatever he was looking for somewhere else.

Though he had no idea what that even was.


Sabine blinked rapidly, forcing her eyes open as she followed Ezra into the dim alleyway.  She blinked again, squinting into the darkness.

“Jumlin?”

There was a shifting in the shadows in response to Ezra’s call.  She tensed slightly, hands drifting down toward her blasters.

“Who wants to know?” growled a low voice.

“The Bridgers’ kid.”

A man emerged from the shadows, light hair covering half his face.

“Are you the medic?” Sabine inquired quietly.  The man turned to look at her before nodding slowly.

“I am.  Bridger here tell you about me?”

She hesitated before nodding.  Ezra took a step forward.

“We need a tracker removal.  Her left shoulder.”

There was silence for several moments and she thought the man wouldn’t help.  But then he spoke up again.

“I’ll see what I can do.”  He turned abruptly, walking back into the alley.  “Come on.” Ezra and Sabine exchanged a swift glance before following him.

Ezra seemed to tense up slightly as they neared the end of the alley.

“I...I know this place.”

“Of course you do, kid.  You’ve been here before. Now hurry.”  He sped up again to follow the man and Sabine forced herself to follow at nearly the same speed, ignoring the way her vision blackened momentarily.

Jumlin pushed open the side door of a building and entered.  Ezra followed, glancing back at her as his brows knit together in worry.  “Are you—“

“I’ll be fine,” she mumbled.

His face creased in concern before he looked back ahead.

The building was sparsely furnished, the lights flickering on and off as the pair followed Jumlin further inside.  They entered another room and the medic stopped, gesturing to a cot. “I’ll go get the supplies.” Wordlessly, he exited, and Sabine sat on the edge of the cot.

“You think he’ll be able to get it out?”

Ezra shrugged.  “Probably. I overheard my folks talking about him when I was little; they said he was good.”

She nodded, blinking again as her vision darkened.  It returned to normal a moment later and she sighed inwardly, gazing at the ground.

“Are you feeling okay?”

She glanced sideways at him, nodding again.  “Yeah. Just...tired, I guess. Where are we going after this?”

“Somewhere offworld, hopefully.”  He shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter where, as long as it’s in the Outer Rim.”

“What are we going to do?”

He paused before answering, sending her a sideways look with an unreadable expression.  “I don’t know. Up to you, I guess. I...I never thought I would make it this long outside of the Inquisitorius and still be alive,” he admitted, smiling reluctantly.  “But here I am.”

She smiled in return, quickly meeting his gaze before both looked down again.

“I was thinking...it’s the Empire’s fault for all of this, right?  Let’s take the fight to them.”

His head jerked up and she looked up in time to see his expression become incredulous.  He shook his head wildly. “No, we- we can’t. We have to hide. They’ll find us.”

“But—“

“Sabine, I’m not going back there.  Not ever,” he muttered shakily.

“Okay, okay.  Calm down,” she said slowly.  “We don’t have to decide anything yet.  Okay?”

Ezra met her eyes again and nodded shakily.  “I’m sorry, I’m- I’m just on edge…they’re in the city, hunting us.  Hunting me.”

“They?”

“Inquisitors.  Seven, and- and someone else.  I’m not sure who.”

She exhaled slowly and didn’t mention it when her vision darkened briefly again.

Chapter Text

“I don’t have any sedatives left.”  Sabine glanced up as Jumlin reentered, carrying a bag that had obviously seen better days.  She glanced over at Ezra, raising an eyebrow just enough for him to notice. He shrugged in response.

“Painkillers?”

“Yes—“

“You’re not taking more painkillers,” Ezra interrupted firmly.  She glared at him and hurried to defend himself. “What? Kanan said so.”

“Yeah, well Kanan’s not a medic and you can tell him next time you see him that he’s welcome to get a hole cut into his own arm without painkillers anytime he wants,” she growled hoarsely.  “Tell Kanan he can take his kriffing medical suggestions and—“

“Okay, okay.  You get painkillers,” Ezra relented, raising his hands in surrender.

Jumlin pulls out a bottle and tosses it to her.  Sabine catches it and unscrews the cap, removing two tablets and swallowing them dry before handing the bottle back.

“Let me know when you’re ready.”

Sabine nodded firmly, unzipping her bodysuit enough to slide the sleeve off the shoulder with the tracker.  “I am.” She glanced over at Ezra as the antiseptic the medic applied to the small horizontal scar started to take effect.  “You got a plan for after this?”

He shrugged.  “A bit. I know where we can get a ship.”

“Good.”  She winced as she felt the first incision, abruptly reaching for Ezra’s hand and squeezing it hard.  He blinked in surprise, and to be fair she surprised herself with the sudden gesture as well. “Do you, um, mind?”

He shook his head vigorously.  “No, it’s- it’s fine. Perfectly fine,” he answered, voice cracking slightly.  She bit back a smirk as his cheeks flushed faintly.

Though, upon further examination, she realized she was probably blushing as well.

Not that she minded that.


She wasn’t about to deny that she was probably high on painkillers at the moment, but she also wasn’t about to deny that she probably needed them.

Sabine stumbled next to him as they wove through the streets of Capital City.  In the time they had been with the medic, the number of patrols had increased tenfold.  Klaxons were blaring across the city as searchlights panned over the main streets. And he had been on edge for some reason—she was sure it was for a reason beyond the sudden increase in security, based on how jumpy he was acting—nearly the entire time since they had set foot outside of the medic’s.

She grabbed Ezra’s sleeve, pulling him to a stop.  He glanced over at her, brow raised. “What?”

“What’re you so anxious about?”

“The patrols.”  He answered too quickly for her liking.

Her vision darkened for a moment and she blinked hard to clear it, narrowing her eyes.  “No. That’s not it. There’s something else. Did your medic report us?”

He sighed, running a hand through his close-cropped hair.  “Yeah, there- there is. But Jumlin didn’t report us. There’s—well, I’m not completely sure how to explain it—but there’s something out there.   Someone.  I think- I think they’re looking for someone.  And I- I think the Inquisitorius is involved somehow.”

“Can you sense them or whatever?”

He shrugged.  “Somewhat. Whoever it is, they’re not very strong.  I doubt they’ve been trained, and I don’t recognize their signature.”

She nodded slowly.  “Should we avoid them?”

He hesitated before nodding.  “Probably. Just to be on the safe side.”

“Okay.”  Her vision darkened again and she blinked.

“Are you—“

“I’m fine.  Let’s go. We need to keep moving,” she cut off hoarsely.  He gave her a doubtful look but continued walking.

They turned a corner and suddenly Ezra froze, face paling.

“What is it?”

“We- we have to get out of here.  Now,” he replied, eyes darting around furtively.

“Then let’s go.”

She followed him, stumbling after him as he approached a corner.  He paused, raising the hand that wasn’t carrying her duffel, before continuing forward again.  She tripped over the curb, falling briefly. He whirled instantly, swallowing as she waved him away and staggered to her feet again.  “I’m fine.

He swallowed nervously again but nodded.  “O- okay.”

“How close are we to that ship you mentioned?”

Ezra shrugged.  “If the patrols don’t increase or change in the next few hours...then it should be another hour or two, maybe.”

“And where exactly is this ship?”

“The Imperial airfield…?”

Sabine sighed and shook her head.  “You really want to push our chances of survival to the extreme, don’t you?”

He let out a short, joyless chuckle, running another hand through his hair.  “I guess.”

She laughed mirthlessly too and shook her head, blinking to rid the darkness from her vision as they turned another corner.


Kanan’s eyes opened to fire.

It took him a moment to remember where he was, to remember why the breath was knocked out of him, to remember why everything was so bright and why that ISB agent was nearby with a holocam, shouting something at Zeb.

Zeb.  Zeb. He needed- needed to help Zeb.  Grunting, he inhaled sharply and forced himself to sit up on the duracrete, suppressing the urge to vomit.  Gradually, his hearing began to come back to him.

“You did this!”  The ISB agent’s face was furious as Kanan started to stand, the ground swaying beneath him.  He cast a glance back at the burning shuttle.

Tua.

Tua was dead.

Kallus had rigged the shuttle to explode somehow, had known what the rebels’ plan was before they had even solidified it themselves.

The Imperials had sacrificed one of their own.

And all to blame the rebels.

The chill he had felt on the planet ever since the kid and his master had first come to Lothal had been amplified tenfold in the past few hours.  He didn’t want to know what that meant.

He pulled out his comm and blaster, raising the latter into a defensive position.  “Hera we need a pickup. Now!”

Copy that, we’re on our way.”  He glanced around anxiously, waiting for the Phantom to appear.

Finally he caught sight of the small transport approaching and his face creased, relaxing slightly.  He waved to Zeb, motioning to the Phantom before firing several charges at Kallus and the stormtroopers surrounding him.

“Let’s go!”

The pair rushed toward the Phantom, darting up the open ramp as the ship touched down long enough for them to board before lifting off again.

Kanan didn’t fully relax until they had reached the Ghost again, and even then he was still tense as Chopper warbled anxiously about a broadcast they needed to see.

The trio followed the astromech into the common room, Hera and Zeb sitting around the dejarik table while Kanan leaned against the wall nearby, arms folded.  The droid started the broadcast.

A beloved citizen of Lothal, Prime Minister Tua’s life was tragically cut short by this criminal band of rebels.  If you do see them, please summon Imperial authorities immediately. Stormtrooper patrols have already been mobilized—

Hera abruptly shut off the broadcast, leaning back in her seat.  “They did this just to turn Lothal against all of us. We simply can’t do any more good here.  We have to leave Lothal, for good.”

“We can't just run Hera.  The people have to know the truth sooner or later,” Zeb argued.

“Yeah, well I don’t think the Galactic Empire is giving us much choice at the moment,” Kanan responded grimly.  “It’s decided. We have to leave, for good.”

Chapter Text

Their plan was simple enough.

They would get to the airfield, get the shield generators they had gotten a tip-off about, get in the Ghost, and leave.

Though, Kanan should have counted on the fact that none of their plans ever went as planned.

Of course the kid would show up again, with Sabine in tow.  The girl’s face was gray and she looked like she would collapse at any moment, though she still managed to nearly keep up with the kid.  Kanan had to admit, he was impressed.

His admiration immediately dissolved when the chill he had been feeling the entirety of their current stay on Lothal suddenly grew sharper, driving into his chest with the sudden pain of a dagger, stripping him of his breath in an instant.

The cyborg appeared a moment later.

His cape and armor were black, and the lightsaber he carried easily in his right hand was a bright blood-red that screamed wrong to him.

“Hera, go, I’ll cover you!”

He had both parts of his ‘saber off his belt and connected immediately, igniting it a second later.  “Kid! You with me?”

The kid whirled, and Kanan sensed a pang of something coming from within himself—pity?—at the boy’s wide eyes that he quickly shoved back down again.  The boy nodded quickly. He called his circular hilt to his hand, igniting the working blade before turning to Sabine and saying something in a voice that was too low for Kanan to hear.  She opened her mouth, presumably to yell back at him, but he cut her off and gestured toward the Ghost.

Hera’s gonna have a fit.

Sabine sighed as he handed her the duffel before she backed up toward the Ghost until the boy turned away from her and back toward the cyborg.

Kanan noticed with a faint smirk that, as soon as he did, Sabine dropped the duffel onto the loading ramp and pulled out both blasters.

The thing seemed so mechanical he almost didn’t expect it when it began to speak.

Apprentice, you have made a grave mistake throwing your lot in with this...Jedi.”  Glancing over at the kid, Kanan noticed that he seemed to almost cower before swallowing and forcing himself to stand firm.  The kid was slammed into the leg of a nearby walker without warning, held firm with the Force even as he screamed.

Kanan was split between helping the kid and just hopping aboard the Ghost and finally ditching them for good when Sabine fired two shots at the cyborg—no, Sith Lord, call him what he was—that he quickly deflected back at her.

Sabine!

The kid fought back against the Sith Lord’s hold long enough to throw two fingers out, sending the charges careening into a nearby shuttle instead of into Sabine.  As soon as their course was changed he fell back against the walker’s leg again, panting as his eyes closed. A twinge ran through Kanan’s chest as he mildly wondered if the kid was dead or if he had simply given up.  He pushed it away as he adjusted his grip on his ‘saber and adopted a defensive stance.

He would fight just long enough for the Sith Lord to get distracted by the kids, and then he would leave.

That’s what he promised himself, at least.


An overwhelming urge to give in flooded all his senses.

Give in.

Give up.

Just stop fighting.

For a moment, he almost did.

And then the memories came surging forth.

A hand pressing on the back of his neck, moving over to his shoulder and forcing him to his knees.  A voice, hissing the things he already knew about himself into his ear. Pathetic.  Useless. Worthless.

Before we took you in, you were nothing.  You would’ve starved without us, you would’ve been imprisoned without us, you would’ve been enslaved without us.    We saved you.  You owe us everything.  You owe us your life.

You owe the darkness your life.

Give into it.

The darkness pulled on his arm, murmuring semi-comforting thoughts as he inched his hand and, by extension, his ‘saber, closer and closer to his neck.

Don’t fight it.

The flickering blade drew closer to his neck.

Just give in.

He could faintly sense the heat of it, and something murmured danger, get out but he ignored it.

Give up already.

I may offer you a chance for repentance,  Apprentice, if you complete your training and kill the Jedi.

He knew that voice.

That voice had haunted his every waking moment, constantly threatening his sanity, making him question every choice he made.

His eyes widened fractionally and he sucked in a sharp breath, suddenly becoming acutely aware of the heat of his own crimson lightsaber blade too close to his neck.

He shoved outward, a wave of dark energy exploding out from him.  His lightsaber clattered to the ground, blade sheathing as his hand lightly pressed the middle of the hilt.  He saw Lord Vader—just Vader now, he is no longer any lord to you —stagger slightly at the wave of power.  He forced himself to stumble away from the walker’s leg just before it collapsed.

Sabine.

He needed to get to Sabine, so they could leave.  So Vader wouldn’t kill her.

“Kanan!  Get her out of here!” he yelled.  He didn’t wait for a response from the Jedi as he began to walk forward slowly, calling his ‘saber to his hand once more as he hit the ignition.

He walked toward the half-man, half-machine with his ‘saber loosely in hand.  If the cyborg was surprised by his sudden defiance, he didn’t show it.

“Kid, get to the ship!”

Kanan was worrying about him.

“Don’t make this a suicide mission!”

He knew Kanan wouldn’t be able to defeat Vader.  No one defeated Vader.

But Vader had trained all of the Inquisitors, at least partially.

Which meant that he knew how Vader fought.  He would stand a better chance against the cyborg than Kanan would.

Something yanked him back suddenly and he glanced over in time to see Kanan Force pull him back toward the Ghost.

The Jedi pulled out his blaster, firing at the walkers near Vader as he backed up toward the loading ramp.  The man gestured to him and Sabine.

“Go!  Get in there so we can get outta here!”

“Why are you helping us?!” Sabine yelled.

“Because as much as I dislike you both, I don’t want either of you dying on my hands!”

Something was wrong.  Vader wasn’t pursuing them; he was just standing there, his cape fluttering faintly in the slight wind.  Something screamed at him to get out of the Ghost, to get Sabine to go with him and get out of the Ghost, but the loading ramp was already raising and Kanan was already motioning to them to hurry up so they could go.

As the ship closed and lifted off, he knew they were making a huge mistake.

Chapter Text

Kanan had left them in the cargo bay, his only instructions to remain there and to be quiet.  Sabine took the time to reattach her armor and check her WESTARs’ power cells.  She glanced up at him from time to time, brow furrowing as she tried to figure out the strange boy.  Ezra kept glancing up at the ladder to exit the cargo bay, swallowing hard as his eyes flitted around the rest of the hold.

“What do you think they’ll do with us?” he asked after several long, tense minutes.  “I mean, Hera pretty much kicked us out.”

She shrugged.  “Who knows? Kanan might just drop us off somewhere.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if Hera tried to space us.”

The ship shuddered roughly, tilting violently to the left before reorienting itself.  The ship jolted into hyperspace only seconds later and Sabine exhaled slowly.

After what could only have been a few minutes, there was a jolt as the ship dropped out of hyperspace and swerved hard to the left.  Sabine threw up a hand in time to brace herself on the ladder, however Ezra wasn’t so lucky. The boy lost his balance and careened into her, sliding across the cargo hold until he stumbled hard into her.  She lost her balance and fell backward, slamming onto her back as Ezra fell forward on top of her. She grunted, letting out a breath as his weight slammed onto her breastplate.

“Could you...get off?” she growled.

There was a chortling beep and she glanced up to see Chopper firing his thrusters to come down the ladder.

The droid landed with a soft clunk and rolled over, chortling again before a loud click emanated from him.  The droid warbled and rolled back as Ezra stood up, brushing himself off as Sabine pushed herself to her feet.  Taking a moment to translate the droid’s words, her eyes widened and she stormed over to the astromech.

Chopper!  That was an accident!  It wasn’t- we weren’t—“  The droid chortled again, firing his thrusters and leaving before Sabine could pull out a blaster on him.  She sighed in frustration.

Thankfully, Ezra didn’t question it.

The ship was silent aside from the engines and also relatively still as Sabine finished with her armor.  Ezra checked his own blaster and then moved on to his lightsaber, examining it though Sabine had no idea what he was looking for.

The unsteady silence was interrupted by the clang of a ship docking.  Both glanced up quickly, looking at each other before up at the ladder.

“Who do you think that is?” she asked quietly.  He shrugged in uncertainty.

“Who knows?  Maybe...maybe Hera had some contacts.  Maybe they’re meeting them.”

“Hmm.”  The pair fell into silent contemplation.


Kanan stood next to Zeb, shoulders tense and arms folded as he warily watched the ship dock with the Ghost ’s airlock.  There was the hiss of the pressures leveling out and Zeb glanced down at Kanan.

“Hera and that rustbucket still up in the cockpit makin’ sure the connection’s stable, eh?”

Kanan nodded, not taking his eyes off the airlock.  “And that we don’t get any more surprises like that one at the airfield.”

Zeb was silent for several moments before he spoke up again.  “You ever met this Fulcrum?”

“Not in person.  Through hologram, yeah.”  The Lasat nodded and both men fell silent once more.

There was another loud clang and hiss, and within several seconds, faint footsteps could be heard on the other side of the door.

All his theories and suspicions regarding Fulcrum came to mind as a sense of apprehension rose.  A distinguished senator, or some recluse who was running the underground rebel network he had just been introduced to as they had left Lothal.  Hera had only briefly explained where the random squadron of fighters had come from, shooting TIEs right and left as they covered the Ghost ’s escape.  Phoenix Squadron, of Phoenix Cell.

There was more of them.

He tried not to think about his other theory of who Fulcrum was.  It was impossible. Nobody else had survived the Purge.  Nobody. Or at least, nobody who was still alive and not either in the hands of the Empire or working for them.

There was a particularly loud footstep before they fell silent.

The door opened.

She was a Togruta, he could tell that much.  Mildly he realized that he had been subconsciously thinking of Fulcrum as a man, but it seemed he was wrong.  She wore a cloak that cast her face into shadow, and as she took several more steps onto the Ghost she stopped and threw back the cloak.

Something about her seemed vaguely familiar, and something seemed almost comforting about her.  She appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties and the markings on her montrals were jagged.

And then he saw her belt.

There wasn’t anything interesting about the belt in itself, not really, but it was what was on the belt that was what caught his attention.  Two lightsaber hilts, a main and a shoto, were clipped to each side of the belt.

His eyes narrowed before widening in recognition.  Zeb glanced at him warily. “Kanan?” He ignored him, stepping forward to the woman.

“Ahsoka?”

She nodded slowly, eyes narrowing fractionally.  “Do I know you?” Her voice was calm and faintly melodic, but he didn’t miss the hand creeping toward her main ‘saber.  Old habits died hard, especially those they had learned in the Temple.

“From the Temple,” he responded, unwilling to reveal that Kanan Jarrus had not been his given name to Zeb quite yet.  “I...you survived the Purge?”

She nodded again, a smile creasing onto her face though there was a faint shadow in her eyes that told him they would speak later about his true identity.  “Yes. Leaving the Order was what saved me after all, I guess. Maybe I do have a reason to thank Master Windu.”  Her tone turned icy as she brought up his grandmaster and he winced internally.  He had been well aware of the man’s opinion of Padawan Tano during her time at the Temple, and had only been made more aware after she had chosen to leave the Order.

Kanan’s voice dropped slightly in pitch as his voice grew hoarse.  “Are there- are there others?” He allowed himself a brief, small moment to hope before the Togruta shook her head and sighed.

“No.  Not any that I’ve found, at least.  You’re the first I’ve seen since….”

“Master?”  Grey and Styles were raising their blasters, aiming at him and Master Billaba.

“Caleb, run!

His breath caught and he nodded before remembering Zeb.  He turned back to the Lasat, motioning the man forward. “Ahsoka, this is Zeb.  He’s part of our- our cell.” The word still sounded unfamiliar on his lips; Kanan had never considered their small team a cell.  Insurgents? Yes. Terrorists? If that was what it took to overthrow the Empire. Rebels? Most definitely. But a cell?

“Zeb, this is Pa- Ahsoka Tano.  She- we were Padawans, when we were younger.  In- in the Temple.”

Zeb nodded, warily taking Ahsoka‘s proffered hand and shaking it.  “So you’re Fulcrum then, eh?”

She nodded.

“An’ you an’ Kanan, you were both Jedi?”  Ahsoka seemed to almost wince at the word and he remembered her trial.  He rushed to correct Zeb, however Ahsoka got to it first.

“I am no longer any Jedi, according to the traditional use of the word.  As for...Kanan, what he chooses to call himself is his own business.” The pause between her words was barely imperceptible, but Kanan could sense her distrust of his alias.

“She left the Order before the Purge, Zeb.  And technically...I’m still a Padawan, no matter what I call myself.  I never completed my trials.” He chuckled uncertainly, offering a reluctant grin as he rubbed the back of his neck.

“Zeb, could you tell Hera I’ll speak with her about Phoenix Squadron in a moment?  I need to speak with Kanan briefly first.” Zeb nodded and left for the cockpit. Ahsoka turned to Kanan, frowning slightly and folding her arms.

“‘Kanan?’  Who are you?  Whose Padawan were you?”

“Caleb.  Depa Billaba was my master.”  Ahsoka’s eyes widened slightly.

“Caleb Dume?” she asked in a low tone.

He nodded.  “I was on Kaller when….”  He didn’t finish the sentence, just turning his gaze to the ground.

The woman allowed a moment of silence to pass before continuing to question him.  “I sense darkness in the Force on your ship. Could you explain why that is?”

“If you’re wondering if it’s me, I can promise it’s not.  There’s...we had a couple of stowaways get on while we were dealing with Vader.”

“Where are these stowaways?  We can deal with them together.”

“That’s the thing, Ahsoka.  They...don’t need to be dealt with.”  She raised an eyebrow. “They’re...kids.”

“I don’t think—“

Chopper shrieked as he careened down the corridor from the cockpit, rolling on his middle wheel until he slammed into Kanan.  The man was knocked off balance and threw out a hand to brace himself on the wall before turning back to the astromech and glaring.  “What’s so important you feel the need to crash into me while you’re shrieking so loud you’re gonna summon purgills all the way out here?!”

The droid huffed and began to warble smugly before slowing to a stop, his dome turning slightly to face Ahsoka as he beeped a query.

“Yes, she’s fine.  And she knows about Sabine and the kid.”

“Sabine Wren?  The person on the Empire’s wanted list?”

He ignored the woman’s questions as Chopper resumed his smug beeping.  Kanan raised an eyebrow, folding his arms as he listened to the droid.

“What?  You honestly expect me to believe they were doing that?  And didn’t Hera tell you to stay in the cockpit?”

The droid huffed before falling silent, only warbling smugly once more when a flickering holoimage appeared in front of him.  Kanan narrowed his eyes as he absorbed the image in front of him.

It appeared like a confused kid had fallen on top of a very disgruntled Sabine at first glance, but if Chopper was to be believed—and he rarely was—then….

A faint smirk formed on Kanan’s lips as he finally turned back to Ahsoka.  “I guess you are meeting them. If they’re not...in the middle of something.  Lead the way, Chop.”

The droid chortled as he began to roll toward the common room.

Kanan sincerely hoped they weren’t interrupting something.

Chapter Text

Sabine looked up as she heard Chopper enter the cargo bay, her eyes narrowing.  As soon as the droid clunked to the ground, she stalked over.

“Delete that, Chopper.   Now.  Or I’ll delete it for you,” she growled, wielding a wrench she had found in the cargo hold shortly after the droid’s initial appearance threateningly.

“That won’t be necessary, Sabine; I’ve already seen it.”  The color drained from her face as she looked up to see Kanan coming down the ladder.  He climbed down the first two rungs before simply gripping the sides of the ladder and sliding to the floor.  The Jedi paced over to her, smirking widely. “Chopper assured me of what you two were doing, but seeing as it’s, well, Chopper, I figured I should ask you two before I draw any conclusions.”  Chopper warbled indignantly in protest but Kanan ignored him.

She huffed, folding her arms as Ezra approached from behind.  “What do you mean?”

“Chopper’s trying to convince Kanan we’re in a relationship.  Which we are most definitely not.

“I thought we were?”

Her head whipped back around, eyes widening quickly.  “What?!

He flinched back, raising his hands in a defensive gesture.  “Like friends? I thought we were friends?”

She relaxed.  “Oh. Yeah, we’re friends.”  A nagging thought in the back of her mind asked if she wasn’t completely sure that they weren’t more than that.  She swiftly silenced it.

Kanan cleared his throat, drawing their attention back to him.  “Anyway, I have someone I want you to meet.”

A slender Togruta woman climbed easily down the ladder, skipping the last three rungs as she landed smoothly on the floor.  She approached the group, eyeing Ezra warily. He watched her with just as much caution, if not more, and Sabine could tell he was trying to avoid showing the fear he obviously felt as he swallowed hard.

“This is Sabine,” Kanan introduced.  She huffed, glaring slightly at the woman.  Her vision darkened momentarily again and she nearly lost her balance, though she quickly regained it.  The Togruta’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly.

“Sabine Wren?”

Sabine nodded in affirmation.  “Former Flight Lieutenant of Blade Squadron of the Star Destroyer Relentless, and later Dagger Squadron of Lothal.”

The woman nodded.  “And you?” she asked, turning to Ezra with a raised eyebrow.

“He’s an Inqui—“

“I’m Ezra.”

“—sitor.”  Kanan was taken aback, not bothering to hide his shock as he looked at Ezra.

“What?  I have a name, might as well use it.  I’m not just an Inquisitor.”

A quick glance back at the Togruta woman revealed that she was still warily watching Ezra, her body tensed slightly in what must’ve been apprehension.

“Who are you?” Ezra asked in turn, raising an eyebrow.

“Ahsoka,” was all the answer the woman offered.

“Kanan, why’d you bring her down here?” Sabine questioned.  “I thought—“

“She’s down here because of me,” Ezra cut off sullenly.  “She’s a Force-sensitive, and a powerful one. She sensed me.  Right?”

Ahsoka nodded.  “Yes. I sensed the In- Ezra, and asked Kanan why he had an Inquisitor onboard.”

“Or something along those lines,” she caught Kanan muttering under his breath.  Ahsoka ignored him as she continued.

“I was also curious as to why an Inquisitor would be working with a pilot.”

Ezra and Sabine glanced at each other uncertainly.  “We...circumstances brought us together, and...it’s been more beneficial for us to stay together since,” Sabine answered uneasily, not breaking eye contact with Ezra.  He broke it first, turning back to Ahsoka and nodding vigorously in agreement. She seemed to accept their answer, as she moved onto the next line of questioning.

“Why are you on the Ghost?

It was Kanan who jumped in to answer this time.  “They snuck onboard while we were at the airfield, after we were ambushed.  I’m planning to leave them at the next inhabited planet we stop at.”

“And how did they know you wouldn’t turn them in?”  The question was for Kanan, though the Togruta’s sharp blue eyes were locked on Ezra.  He swallowed again and Sabine found herself subconsciously drifting toward him.

“This...isn’t the first time they’ve been aboard,” Kanan admitted, grinning sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck.

“How many times?”

“This is my third,” Sabine answered.  “His second.” She jerked a thumb at Ezra, taking a half step forward as the world suddenly swayed beneath her feet.

“Sabine, are you—“

“I’m fine, ” she answered, shooting Ezra a half-hearted glare.

Chopper warbled and she turned slightly to him before sighing in exasperation.  “No, Chopper, I’m not going to go up to the med bay and—“  Her protest was cut short as the ground swayed again and she stumbled to the left.  Someone caught her, supporting her by the arms slightly until she could regain her balance.  Opening her mouth to thank whoever her supporter was, she turned to see Ezra. His face reddened and he quickly let go, taking a step back and mumbling something incoherent as he swallowed and rubbed the back of his neck.  “...thanks...” she said slowly. He just nodded, taking another step back to fade into the background further.

“Sabine, when was the last time you slept?” Kanan asked with a sigh.  She shrugged.

“I dunno.”

“Ezra, did she take any more painkillers?”  Kanan said the name experimentally, almost as if he was worried Ezra would explode.  But he just nodded. The Jedi sighed. “How many?”

“Two,” Ezra answered, with a pointed look at Sabine.  “I made sure she didn’t take any more.”

Kanan nodded.  “Good.” He glanced back at Ahsoka.  “Anything else?”

She shook her head.  “Though if they stay on, I’d like to speak to Ezra again.”

The teen nodded hesitantly.  “Okay.”

“Ahsoka, you wanted to speak to Hera?”  She nodded, and Kanan smiled to Sabine and Ezra before he and Ahsoka left for the ladder.

Chopper warbled and Sabine shot him a glare, folding her arms.  “No. I’m not thankful your lie got Kanan down here.  Now get out of here before I do decide to scrap you.  And delete that picture!”  The droid huffed something about ungrateful Mandalorians as he trundled back to the ladder, pausing to start up his thrusters before he left.  Sabine sighed.

“You wanna sit down?”

She shook her head.  “No. I’m- I’m fine.”  The ground shifted underneath her again and she swallowed.  “Okay, maybe.” She thought he smiled briefly but her vision was wavering again.  She allowed him to lead her over to one of the shield generators before sitting down heavily upon it.

“Do you think you’re going to black out?”

She shrugged.  “Maybe….” Within several seconds, her world darkened further, and Sabine knew nothing.

Chapter Text

He carefully sat down on the shield generator next to her, sliding closer so he could support her better.  The last thing she needed was to fall back off the shield generator and smack her head on the durasteel floor.

He studied the ground, the Togruta woman coming to mind.  Ahsoka. He could still feel her signature; it was slightly brighter than Kanan’s.  Though it wasn’t as...wild as Kanan’s was.  The woman seemed more in control, almost, if that was the right word for it.  Kanan, however….He could tell that the man had suppressed his abilities for a long time.

Ezra had tried that for a few months.  After it nearly got him killed, he had given up.

He shook off the thoughts of signatures and instead focused on what he knew about Ahsoka.  She was strong in the Force, trained, and had that been two lightsabers he’d glimpsed on her belt?  Why not just combine them so they had one hilt?  It made a lot more sense. She was also strong in the Light Side of the Force, similar to Kanan, though neither of them were explicitly confined to it.  She also seemed curious about Sabine, and seemed to extremely distrust him. Not that he blamed her for that. He didn’t trust her, or himself, either.

He supposed she was okay, considering she didn’t get too curious about him or Sabine.  He didn’t feel like answering more questions about the Inquisitorius than Kanan had already asked.  And if she tried to probe his shields...no.  He wouldn’t let her.  And Sabine...she still needed time to heal.  Which she wasn’t getting too much of.

For an odd moment, he actually hoped Kanan and Hera would let them stay on.

He shook his head as soon as the thought came to mind.  No. No, he wouldn’t stay on, even if Kanan and Hera let them.  Even if it meant leaving Sabine. He had to run, run far away, run to where the Empire couldn’t find him again.  He wasn’t going back to Mustafar. Whatever the cost.

He glanced down and noted with slight terror that his hand was trembling slightly.  Swallowing, he ran a hand through his hair, sighing. At least Ahsoka hadn’t asked Sabine about her armor.  Ezra suspected that any mention of her heritage would just bring on another onslaught of memories, another onslaught of breakdowns.  And she needed to rest.

At some point, he felt a familiar jolt as the ship jumped to hyperspace.  He shifted, adjusting Sabine so her head was slightly resting on his shoulder instead of flopping backward.  Hopefully she wouldn’t mind. Or notice. He decided not noticing was the better option.

He had no idea how much time had passed when he heard footsteps on the ladder.  He stilled, breath catching as he glanced over. Seeing Ahsoka, he relaxed, but only slightly.  As she dropped to the floor and turned, her gaze flitted over to Sabine’s head and he tensed. She didn’t comment on it as she approached, nodding to a nearby crate.

“May I?”

He nodded warily, watching her as she sat and folded her arms.

“Kanan and I spoke to Hera.  We convinced her you two could stay on, if you’d like.  After I...evaluated you. Kanan...he never completed his Temple training.”

He nodded slowly, eyes narrowing.  “And why are you telling me that?”

“I’m merely explaining the reason Kanan is not able to do the evaluation accurately.”  Ahsoka’s gaze slid over to Sabine again. “Can you get her off you without waking her?”

He nodded quickly and concentrated, allowing the Force to flow through him as he carefully lifted her head up enough that he could shift away from underneath her before gently lowering her to the ground so she was now leaning against the shield generator instead of sitting on top of it.  He released the hold he had on her with the Force, exhaling in a whoosh. Ahsoka’s gaze turned thoughtful before she stood gracefully. He followed suit, trailing behind her as she led the way to a clearer area of the cargo bay. She halted and turned to him.

“Ezra, you have a lightsaber?”

He nodded.

“Pull it out.  I’d like to examine it, if that’s okay with you.”  He shrugged, calling the circular hilt to his hand and closing the distance between them in two short steps.  He deposited the ‘saber into her waiting hand.

The woman turned it over and over, examining every inch of it.  She pointed to the charred hole Ketsu’s blaster had left in the middle section of the hilt.  “Is that from a blaster?” He nodded. “Do the emitters still work?”

“One does.”  He tapped the emitter closest to him.  “The other doesn’t. I haven’t really gotten a chance to- to take a good look at it yet.”

“May I?”

He nodded and Ahsoka fumbled with his ‘saber until she figured out a comfortable grip on the oddly shaped hilt.  She pressed the ignition and a crimson blade slid out from the working emitter, humming faintly as she gave the lightsaber several test sweeps.  Ahsoka sheathed the blade and handed the ‘saber back to him, nodding appreciatively, though he still noticed a somewhat guarded expression in her eyes.  She folded her arms as he returned the ‘saber to its spot on his back.

“So you’re an Inquisitor?” she asked carefully.

“Was,” he answered shortly, eyes narrowing slightly.

“What made you choose to leave the Inquisitorius?”

They beat me.  They tortured me.  They took me from my home.  They kill their own to prove a point.

But how different are you from that, really?

He simply shrugged.  “Felt like it.”

She nodded slowly, disbelief evident on her face.  “What about Sabine? Why is she here?”

He glanced back at Sabine.  Why was she here?  Sure, she hadn’t had much of an initial choice as to whether to stay or to go, but she had had plenty of opportunities since to leave him.

Each time, she had chosen to come back.

He wasn’t used to people doing that, coming back.  The Inquisitorius taught by leaving their members alone.  His first solitary mission had been...terrifying. Even for a child who had spent two years on the streets.  He shuddered at the memory.

“She...she could’ve left so many times,” he found himself speaking haltingly, almost as if he was doing so not of his own accord.  “But she didn’t. She kept- kept coming back.”

Ahsoka nodded slowly and stood.  “I just have one more question, and then I’ll leave you alone, I promise.  Do you want to stay?”

“I would have to ask Sabine.”

Ahsoka nodded again in acknowledgment and left without another word.

Chapter Text

She groaned as the world swam into view, blurred shapes coming into focus.  She was still in the cargo hold, but now she was on the...floor? Maybe? Yes, that was the floor.  Her head pounded as she glanced around, finding Ezra.

He was still perched on the edge of the shield generator.  He glanced down and let a small, genuine smile slip out.

“How long was I out?”

“Uh….”  He glanced over at a chrono across the hold before returning his gaze to her.  “Few hours. Seven, eight?”

Sabine groaned again and closed her eyes, allowing herself to slump back against the generator.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes,” she mumbled without opening her eyes.  She heard him shift before he cleared his throat.

“Ahsoka said Kanan and Hera said we could stay.  If- if we wanted to.”

“Great.  That- that sounds great.  I think we should,” she replied immediately.  When there was no response, she opened her eyes and looked up.  Ezra was staring determinedly at the ground. “Something wrong with that?”

“I’m...I’m not staying.”  She blinked in surprise. Of course, he didn’t have to stay, but she had naturally expected...after all they’d been through, and the fact that he had stuck with her every time he could have left her, even though she was a liability….

“Where will you go?”

He shrugged.  “Nowhere. Anywhere.  I guess...I’ll just get lost somewhere, hope the Empire doesn’t find me.”  Ezra shrugged again, staring at his hands.

“Mm.”  They were both silent and Sabine found herself studying the tears in her bodysuit that were still visible underneath her armor.  The jagged burns were finally starting to scar over, and she wondered how long it had been since Mandalore. One week? Two? Three?

With a jolt, she realized that she still hadn’t properly mourned Tristan.

“Would you…consider staying?” she asked hesitantly, trying to distract herself.

What?  He made his choice, you made yours.

You don’t need him.

Another voice whispered that she wanted him there.  She ignored it.

“Uh….”  She looked up to see his face flushing as he swallowed, staring hard at the ground instead of at her.  She bit her lip. Good job, now you made him flustered.

He opened his mouth to reply when they both heard someone entering the hold.  They glanced up in unison to see Kanan.

“Come up to the common room.  Ahsoka wants to talk to us.” They exchanged wary glances and Kanan cleared his throat, drawing their attention back to him.  “ All of us.”

They stood slowly, Sabine trying to stop from wincing.  Ezra glanced worriedly at her and moved his shoulder forward slightly in an invitation.  She took it gratefully, putting her arm around his neck and allowing him to support her as they limped over to the ladder.  She let go of him long enough to climb up, ignoring Kanan’s questioning glance once she reached the top and stumbled in the opposite direction of the entrance to the cargo bay.

Hera, Zeb, Chopper, and Ahsoka were already waiting.  Kanan and Ahsoka remained standing as Ezra and Sabine carefully slid onto the end of the bench behind the dejarik table.  Sabine and Zeb exchanged cautious glances, the former retaining a space of several inches between them. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Ezra’s leg jogging up and down as he perched on the very edge of the bench.  Kanan walked to Hera’s side and leaned against the wall, folding his arms.

Ahsoka began to speak.  “I have a job I’ve been planning to give you for quite some time, once you’d joined up with Phoenix Squadron.  Phoenix Cell will need a base, now that Lothal is no longer an option.”

“Why isn’t Lothal an option anymore?” Sabine asked.  Ahsoka turned to look at her, the Togruta’s expression a mixture of mild amusement and irritation.

“The planet is now under siege until further notice.”  She continued without elaboration. “I have an old friend, a great military commander with a vast knowledge of the Outer Rim.  He could assist us in finding a base, and his experienced leadership would make him a powerful ally.”

“How do we recruit this ‘friend?’” Kanan cut in.

“That’s the problem.  I lost track of him a long time ago, and all my transmissions have gone unanswered.”

“We can find him,” Hera reassured her.

“Well, there is one option I’ve not yet attempted….Wait just a moment.”  Ahsoka exited, leaving the rest of the group to exchange slightly confused glances.  Hera spoke up first.

“Kanan?  Do you have any idea who this...commander is?”

He shook his head.  “No. Though I have a feeling we’ll find out soon.”

Ahsoka reentered moments later with the head of a droid.  It looked familiar to Sabine, though Kanan was able to place it before she could.

“Is that the head of an old tactical droid?”

Ahsoka nodded.  “These droids were great at finding things, calculating.  Found my master and I a few times when we didn’t want to be found.”

“How in all the galaxy is that droid gonna find your friend?” Zeb questioned, raising an eyebrow.  Chopper grumbled agreement.

“Well, I heard he was last seen in the Seelos system.  You can start there.”

“You’re not coming with us?”  Zeb’s voice was somehow more incredulous than it had been before.

The woman shook her head.  “I have something else to attend to.  The Sith Lord. There are questions, questions that need answering.  I wish I could go with you. And Kanan, if you find my friend, you must trust him.”

“If he’s all the things you say, we can’t afford not to,” he answered solemnly.  Ahsoka nodded again.

“I’ll be undocking once we exit hyperspace.”  With that, the Togruta woman left the group in silence once more.

“What about you two?”  Sabine and Ezra glanced up swiftly at Kanan.  “Are you staying?”

“I am.”  Sabine avoided Ezra’s gaze as she met Kanan’s, giving a firm nod.

“Ezra?”

“You guys seem in a hurry to get to Seelos.  I’ll stay until- until after you find this commander.”  She turned to glance back at him, unable to hide a wide smile.  Subconsciously she found herself reaching for his hand on the bench next to her own, though she quickly drew back as her face began to flush once she realized what she had done.

He’s leaving anyway.  Stop getting attached.  And you have more important things to worry about anyway.

“Okay.  Do you two need any help getting back to the cargo bay?”

They glanced at each other again before shaking their heads in unison.  Kanan nodded as Ezra stood, helping Sabine stand as well once she had scooted off the bench.  The pair avoided meeting Hera’s gaze as they left for the ladder.

Once they were back in the cargo hold and Ezra was supporting her again, Sabine stopped and turned to him.

“So you’re staying?  For now, at least?”

He nodded, then shrugged.  “I guess. I just...I think they’ll need my help.  I just have a feeling...it’s the Force, I guess.”

“Good.”  She almost didn’t realize the word had slipped out at first until she saw him blinking in confusion.   Kriff.  “I mean...I’m glad you’re- glad you’re staying.  For- for now, at least.”

He nodded.  They reached the shield generators and he helped her slide to the floor again before he resumed his previous seat.  She thought he wasn’t going to say anything more when he added in a quiet voice, ”Me, too.”

Chapter Text

Ezra swallowed, leg bouncing as he tried to avoid meeting Kanan and Zeb’s gazes.  Sabine was piloting—a privilege she had earned after quickly pointing out that, though Kanan was a good pilot, Sabine had actually been to flight school and had held a decent rank in the Imperial Navy, neither of which Kanan had done.

Which left the back half of the Phantom in an uncomfortable silence.

Kanan’s gaze kept shifting up to Sabine, as if worried she would pass out.  Frankly, he was worried about that as well, but she had assured him before they had left the Ghost that she would be fine.

Even still, he had several caf pills in a small pouch he’d found in the cargo bay despite Kanan’s orders.  The man wasn’t a medic as far as Sabine was concerned, and though Ezra tried to get her to listen to his suggestions for the most part, there were times when he agreed with her on ignoring the Jedi.  And now was one of those times.

He shifted, carefully bracing his elbows on his knees and placing his chin in his hands as silently as possible.  Zeb’s ear twitched, but other than that, neither seemed to notice. He exhaled silently in relief before returning his gaze to the floor again.

“We got a time estimate Sabine?”

“Yeah, this thing’s hard to work with...but I think we’re getting closer.”  She was attempting to track Ahsoka’s contact through the droid head...he thought, at least.  He wasn’t completely clear on the details. The Inquisitorius had focused more on...other things.  Slicing wasn’t for Force users.

Unless you were Kanan, apparently.  The Jedi had helped Sabine set up the system while back on the Ghost, and though Ezra had watched from a few feet away, he still wasn’t sure exactly what the droid was doing for them.

“Got something!”

He glanced up quickly, following Kanan’s gaze to the droid head.  It was mumbling something he couldn’t hear, though it sounded like a string of coordinates.

“‘Seven five six seven?’  Does that mean anything to anyone?” Sabine asked, glancing back.  Zeb and Ezra shrugged, and after a moment’s thought Kanan gave in as well.

“Looks like we’re about to find out, whatever it is,” the man pointed out.  The Phantom glided down to the surface of Seelos and landed in front of a modified tank.

He swallowed dryly and waited for Sabine to fully finish shutting the small craft off before standing.  Kanan and Zeb exited first, emerging onto the light-colored ground. He forced his gaze away from their new surroundings and back to Sabine.

“You, um….”  She nodded, understanding what he was attempting to ask as she stood with a grunt and stumbled toward him.  He allowed her to sling her arm over his shoulder and around his neck as he helped her toward the ship’s exit.  Despite the familiarity of the person next to him, he couldn’t help but give an involuntary shiver at her touch.  He would have to get over that. If he could get over that.

“Wait.  Helmet.”  He stopped, helping her remove her arm from around his neck and stoop to where she’d left the helmet in one of the storage compartments.  She slipped her helmet over her hair, now teal and darker blue thanks to some hair dye she had “found” on the Ghost (though Hera’s glare afterward had indicated that Sabine wasn’t the original owner).  She nodded to him, signaling him to help her loop her arm around his neck again.

They limped out of the Phantom, stopping slightly behind and to the left of Kanan.  The man was staring up at a trio of older human men who looked almost too similar to each other, but in an odd, unsettling way that didn’t allow Ezra to place them right off the bat.

“What do you want?” the man in the middle, a bald man with a beard and a slight potbelly called out.

“We’re looking for someone,” Kanan called back.

“Well, that’s too bad, ‘cause there’s nobody out here.”

There was a brief pause for a moment before Zeb spoke up.  “Hey, uh, does the number seven five six seven mean anythin’ to you?”

Immediately the middle man hefted his blaster.  “What did you just say?” he asked in a threatening tone.

“I said seven five six seven.”

“I haven’t heard those digits in...well, that’s my birth number,” the man muttered, rubbing the back of his neck.

“‘Birth number?’” Zeb echoed.

Ezra sensed the wave of distress and panic rolling off Kanan seconds before the man reacted.  “They’re clones!” He drew his ‘saber and Ezra shot an uncertain glance at Sabine. She nodded quickly and removed her arm from around him as he called his own ‘saber to his hand.  Both he and Kanan ignited their ‘sabers simultaneously, and Sabine withdrew one of her blasters.

“Jedi!  They’ve come for revenge!” the man on the far left yelled as he raised his blaster.  The man on the far right raised his blaster as well.

“Drop the blaster old man!” Zeb yelled up at them, raising his weapon.

“Don’t try it, boyo!  I’ll gun you down.”

“Stand down, ‘troopers.  Now!” The man on the left glanced warily at the one in the middle before lowering his blaster.  “That’s an order, soldier.” Reluctantly, the last clone lowered his blaster before protesting.

“But he’s a Jedi!  A Jedi!

“I know.  I know. But they weren’t the ones who betrayed us.”  The clone in the middle eyed Ezra warily. He swallowed, adjusting his grip on his ‘saber.  “...though I’m not so sure they’re all Jedi.”

“I’m not a Jedi,” he muttered.  Immediately two of the blasters went up again.

“He’s a Sith!”

“I’m not a Sith!”

“Hold your fire!” the man in the middle barked.  “At least until we know the full details of what’s going on here.”  Ezra swallowed again and glanced cautiously at Kanan. “Jedi, who’s with you?”

Kanan didn’t respond, and a quick glance at the Jedi revealed a set jaw and a gaze that wasn’t planning on giving up anything soon.

Sabine cleared her throat.  “I’m Sabine; that’s Kanan, Zeb, and Ezra.”

The clone in the middle nodded, still keeping a careful eye on Ezra.  “My name is Rex. Captain, 501st Clone Battalion. Meet Commanders Gregor and Wolffe.”

Kanan blinked, and he sensed a faint wave of recognition coming from the Jedi.  “We- we were sent by Ahsoka Tano.”

Chapter Text

Slinging.

For joopa.

Whatever those were.

Sabine had finally given into the heat of the planet and removed her helmet, though she put it back in the Phantom once they redocked the ship on top of the clones’ tank.  She was surprised the relic was still standing; it was an old Republic model that had been modified so many times over she wasn’t completely sure it still retained any of its original parts.

Currently she was leaning against the wall, arms folded as she studied what appeared to be the command center of the tank.  Ezra and Kanan had disappeared into the Phantom several minutes ago, and Zeb was getting prepared for joopa slinging...whatever that meant.  Sabine was perfectly content to just stay where she was.

She heard footsteps and turned slightly, eyes narrowing as Rex entered the room.  He nodded to her.

“You planning on coming out any time soon?”

She shrugged.  “Maybe. I’ll probably wait for Ezra first.”

She thought she caught him raise an eyebrow, but it was lowered just as quickly.  She must’ve imagined it. “So, this ‘Ezra.’ And a Jedi, and a Lasat. How’d you get involved with them?  You’re Mando.” She noted with approval that he didn’t try to bring up the age-old argument about the fact that the clones considered themselves Mandalorian as well with the comment.

She bit her lip, formulating her response before answering.  “I met Ezra a while ago, and we...ran into some trouble. Kanan and his crew, they- they helped us out.”

“Can I ask another question?”

She nodded.

“This Ezra—says he’s not a Sith.  Then where’d he get the lightsaber?  He’s not workin’ for the Empire, is he?”

Rex didn’t bother hiding the suspicious undertone in his voice; he had a right to be wary.  Still, Sabine couldn’t help the slight bite to her words as she replied, “He’s not working for the Empire.  Not anymore.”

“And you?”

She blinked in surprise.  “Me?”

“Mandalore’s all under occupation, since the boys and I were sent there for the Siege.  And you carry yourself a bit too much like an Imp to have spent much time on Mandalore recently.”

She stared at the ground as she replied.  “I’m not. Not- not anymore.”

“That trouble you mentioned—is that why you’re running?”

She nodded.  “Yeah.” She raised her gaze to meet Rex’s again.  “Empire got tired of us.”

He nodded slowly.  “...Right.”

“Captain!  We’re ready out here!” one of the other clones called.  Rex turned to answer over his shoulder.

“Coming!”  Turning back to Sabine, he jerked a thumb over his shoulder.  “You’re welcome to come whenever. Slingin’s pretty fun. Mando like you might enjoy it.”

She shrugged.  “Maybe.” The captain nodded and left.

Sabine sighed, blowing a strand of hair out of her eyes.  About a minute after Rex left, she heard footsteps coming from the direction of the Phantom.  Ezra entered first, followed swiftly by Kanan.  The latter had an almost haunted look in his eyes as he passed silently out the other exit.

“What’s with him?” Sabine questioned once the Jedi was out of earshot.  Ezra shrugged.

“The clones, um, they betrayed the Jedi.  You know Order 66?” She nodded and he fell silent.  After several seconds he seemed to remember something.  “Oh, did you want to go out and...I think he called it sling?”

She shrugged.  “If you want to.  Not much else to do around here, and I don’t think they’d appreciate me slicing into their systems.”  They shared a brief laugh before he stepped closer to allow her to loop her arm around his neck.

They emerged onto the top of the tank to see Zeb walking along in front of it, scanning the ground around him.

“You know, we really appreciate this.  I mean, we should do well today with your friend here,” Gregor was saying to Kanan.  The man nodded, eyes flicking between the clones warily.

“Yeah, well Zeb packs quite a punch.”

“Oh I’m sure, I’m sure.  But, really, I mean, joopa supposedly love Lasats.”

Ezra and Sabine exchanged a glance before hastily stumbling closer to Rex.

“He’s the bait, isn’t he?!” she realized.  Rex nodded in confirmation, though he kept his eyes on Zeb.  “Zeb, you better get back here right now!” she called, raising her voice.  The Lasat turned.

“Buddy, run!  You’re the bait!” Kanan added, a strong sense of urgency in his voice.

“Oh karabast,” she heard the Lasat mutter faintly.

“Zeb, run!” Kanan yelled.

Without warning, the ground rippled, and Zeb was pulled under.


He felt Sabine tense beside him as he swallowed hard.

“Hey, I bet you know a thing or two about mechanics.”  Ezra and Sabine turned to see Rex gesturing to a contraption that looked like it would fall apart at any moment.

“Yeah, good bet,” Sabine replied slowly.

The older clone slapped a hand on the mechanism, and Ezra was mildly surprised it didn’t immediately collapse.  “Keep an eye on this regulator. The line can overheat and shut down.” The man turned, adjusting something on the machine.  Within moments, purple arcs of electricity sparked from the machine to the line that had been hooked to Zeb and was now underground.

Sabine froze.

He glanced at her, watching as her face paled and she bit her lip so hard it began to bleed.

“Sabine?” he whispered.

“I- I- I... get out of here! ” she screamed without warning, taking her arm back from around him and turning, staggering in the opposite direction of the electricity.

“Kid!  You know anything about—“

He cut off Rex, turning back with a wild look in his eyes.  “We just need that joopa thing aboveground, right?! And it’ll stop the electricity?!”

The clone nodded slowly.  “Yes, but—“

“I can do it.”  Without more explanation, he matched past both Kanan and the other clones to the front of the tank, closing his eyes and visualizing the creature.  He latched onto its Force signature, and pulled.

There was resistance at first, but he fought back.  Zeb- the thing had eaten Zeb, and thanks to Rex Sabine was- Sabine was—

He tugged again, hard, and with a roar he felt more than heard, the creature erupted from the sand.

Blood rushed in his ears as his awareness returned suddenly, leaving him stumbling and gasping for breath as his eyes flew open.

It wasn’t dead.

Gasping, he inhaled sharply and closed his eyes, extending a hand as he felt for the Force flowing in slight eddies around the creature.

This thing is the reason Zeb might be dead.

This thing is the reason the clones might not help Kanan and the rest find a safe place away from Lothal.

This thing is the reason Sabine just had another breakdown.

Driving his rage into his actions, he grasped onto a tendril near its neck, twisted, and jerked.

It let out a blood-curdling shriek as he snapped its neck, but when he opened his eyes, the beast had finally collapsed to the sand.  He waited with bated breath, ignoring Kanan and the clones’ speechless observation of him. As soon as the mouth started to open and Zeb came out, coughing and sputtering, he silently turned heel and went back inside the tank.

Chapter Text

Kanan watched from the edge of the Phantom as Ezra sat across from Sabine, one hand on her knee while the other clasped her right hand.  He was speaking quietly to her, something that Kanan couldn’t quite make out, but it seemed to have a calming effect.  The girl’s gasping breaths began to slow as her wild eyes started to slowly go back to normal.

Probe droid.  The thought was so soft Kanan almost thought it had been one of his own rather than Ezra’s voice in his head.  The boy didn’t look away from Sabine, even as Kanan took a half step closer and saw the now-severed droid Ezra had been referring to.

Did it transmit?

Not sure.  We should leave anyway.

Okay.  His answer was so sudden he almost didn’t believe it at first.  A flicker of distrust slipped from Ezra before the boy masked it under a sheer shield of indifference once again.  He waited a moment longer before pushing a question. Sabine?

Something triggered a relapse.  The boy’s face was impassive for the most part, though Kanan thought he caught a hardened shadow flash briefly across it before disappearing.

Something like what?  Did she tell you?

No.

You didn’t press?

The boy finally glanced away long enough to shoot Kanan an irritated glare.   Just because I was an Inquisitor doesn’t mean I abide by their rules completely.

You snapped that thing’s neck like it was a twig, and I’d say you’re pretty strong in the Dark Side.

I have limits, and I’m respecting her privacy.  I’m not like the others.  Abruptly, the bond closed, as swiftly as turning a tap in the ‘fresher off.  Kanan blinked in surprise but nodded.

I’ll let Zeb know we’re leaving.  Without waiting to see if Ezra had even registered the thought, he turned and left.


He reentered what served as the tank’s central room with a stormy gaze as his eyes flicked to Rex.  His hand remained by his side, merely starting to clench as he flicked his wrist backward. The clone choked as he was lifted up, clawing at his neck.  Ezra stopped when the man’s neck had reached his now-raised and open hand, ignoring Kanan’s command to stop.

“You gave us up.  You warned the Empire we’re here,” Ezra growled softly.  “They wouldn’t have sent the probe out for nothing.”

Rex managed to choke out words despite the iron grip on his throat.  Oddly enough, his words weren’t for Ezra.

“Wolffe.  What- what did you do?”

The tone was accusatory, Ezra’s gaze moreso as his eyes snapped to the commander.  The man threw his hands up. “I contacted the Empire. If they knew we were helping Jedi, they’d wipe us out!”  His voice rose to a shrill yell as he rushed to defend himself.

He felt his ‘saber being called away before he felt the hilt actually move.  Ezra stared at Kanan, eyes narrowing dangerously as the hilt of his ‘saber reached the man’s hand.  The Jedi studied it briefly before nodding and meeting Ezra’s gaze.

“Let him go.  Now. Or Sabine won’t be able to stay.  I know you have no desire to, but—“

His hold slackened considerably, finally completely releasing as he let go of the clone captain and took a step back.  Rex massaged his throat as all three of the clones backed slowly away.

“We need to leave,” he growled, eyes flicking to Kanan.  The Jedi nodded slowly, starting to move toward the exit of the room.  He didn’t take his eyes off the clones as he pulled out his blaster.

“Don’t follow us,” the man warned, shooting Ezra a quick glance.  He nodded. Both continued to move slowly out.

And then there was a dull thud from outside.

Ezra bolted, and only felt the chill when he was already halfway to the Phantom.  He slowed, but continued.  If they were going after Sabine….

There was another thud, and then a third.  The third jarred him, sending shooting pains up his half-healed leg.  He hissed in pain as he reached the entrance to the Phantom.

Sabine was in roughly the same position as before, except now she was sitting forward slightly with her arms on her knees.  Her hands and half of her forearms were unsupported as she clasped them together, staring blankly ahead. She took in shaky breaths before exhaling slowly, her breath catching every other breath.

“Sabine?”

She jumped, turning toward him.  A shadow of a half-smile crossed her face briefly before it was gone.  “Hi.” When she studied his face further, her brow furrowed. “What’s wrong?”

He inhaled sharply.  “They’re here. They found us.  Clones turned us in. We’re leaving, as soon as Kanan and Zeb get back here.”  He turned to check if they were on their way, but saw nothing.

“Your lightsaber.  Where is it?” Sabine called from behind him.  He turned back to her.

“Kanan has it.”  He offered no other explanation, instead remaining standing at the entrance to the small ship.

Child, I hope you do realize you cannot hope to run from us any longer.

Get out of my head.

He slammed his mental shields in place, squeezing his eyes shut with the effort.  He could feel Sabine’s gaze on him, but he wasn’t dragging her into this. He couldn’t.  He wouldn’t.  He was different from the other Inquisitors.

But are you?

Where were Kanan and Zeb?  They needed to leave before the Empire could storm the tank and take them all.

Come quietly, and we won’t kill you.  Anyway, it’d be a shame to destroy something so pretty.

He ignored her voice in his head, focusing instead on watching for Kanan.   She can’t hurt you here.  She can’t hurt you if she can’t find you, and she can’t find you if you leave fast enough.

Foolish boy.  We will always find you.

No.  He shoved his shields down again, swallowing harshly.

“Ezra?  Are you okay?”

He glanced over his shoulder, nodding swiftly to reassure Sabine when he saw how worried she was.  “Y- yeah, I’m fine. I’m just- just waiting for Kanan and Zeb.”

She nodded and stood slowly, bracing herself on the wall as she started toward him.  Lowering her voice, she asked quietly, “Do you think we’ll get out of this safely?”

“I think we’ll get out of this alive,” he answered after a brief hesitation.  He didn’t add that he didn’t think they would get out safe. He wouldn’t get out safe, and Kanan and Zeb probably wouldn’t either.  But Sabine would. He would make sure of it.

You can’t keep her safe forever.

Taunts without action will get you nowhere.  He forced his shields down again, even knowing they wouldn’t have any effect.

But illusions were better than nothing.

Chapter Text

Walkers.

He remembered briefly glimpsing the plans for them once, when he had entered a room a moment too early and had seen something he hadn’t been supposed to see.

He rubbed his wrist hard as he stared out the viewport at the approaching sandstorm.  Sabine leaned her shoulder against the wall of the modified tank next to him, watching his expression while carefully masking her own emotions.  As much as they all wanted to leave, the sandstorm and the arrival of the walkers had forced Kanan to make the decision to keep them with the clones, at least for now.  If it came to a fight, the Jedi had decided that the four of them would be more than enough to put the clones out of commission until they could either escape or deal with the Empire.

Sabine still wasn’t quite back to normal, but she was coherent enough that she could defend herself.  Or at least Ezra hoped so.

He heard footsteps from behind and turned.  Kanan nodded to Sabine and then to the viewport.  “Mandalore ever get storms like this?”

She shrugged, shifting her folded arms.  “If they did, we never saw it at the Academy.  I grew up elsewhere.”

Kanan nodded again and turned to Ezra.  “Ki- Ezra, I need to talk to you about something.  In case- in case it comes to a fight.”

“Sabine can stay,” he said quietly.  After a moment’s hesitation, Kanan nodded in affirmation.

“Of course.”

Ezra left the viewport and approached Kanan as Sabine pushed off from the wall, wincing as she followed Ezra.  He glanced worriedly back at her, subtly shifting his shoulder downward slightly, but she shook her head almost imperceptibly.

“I might need your help to get us out of here, with all the walkers around.”  Kanan pointed to the viewport. “One of us will need to get the tank out of here while the other figures out which direction we need to go.”

“I’m guessing you already know who will be doing what.”

Kanan nodded.  “Yeah. You’ll be the one getting us out of here.”

Ezra withheld a sigh as he nodded.  “Okay. Just...tell me what I need to do.”

“And Sabine, you and Zeb will be on standby to shoot down any of the walkers that we can.  If you’re up to it.”

He glanced back at Sabine.  She hesitated before giving a firm nod.  “I am.”


If he told Kanan that Seven was getting into his mind again, he knew that the Jedi wouldn’t hesitate to restrain him, if not worse.  Which was exactly why he didn’t tell him about it.

He tried to block out her voice as well as he could.  Kanan’s voice helped with that, both outside and inside his head.

Six degrees left, the man called silently.  Ezra adjusted the steering yoke accordingly, acutely aware of the clones’ gazes on him from behind.

“Hold!”  At Kanan’s sudden yell, he froze, stopping the tank at the same time.

We know where you are, boy.  You’re running out of chances.

He sucked in a breath, shutting his eyes.

It just made her voice even stronger and so he quickly opened them again, eyes flying around for something, for anything, to focus on.

“Kid, you alright?”

He jumped at the sudden voice and turned to see the clone captain—Rex, right?—had taken a step forward.

Kanan had his lightsaber.

“You seem a bit—“

“I’m fine,” Ezra answered harshly, swallowing hard as he turned back around.  He adjusted his grip on the steering yoke, tightening his grip. When the clone spoke again, he was closer, and his voice was low.  But oddly enough, it wasn’t threatening.

“Look kid, I can tell you’re struggling.  Something's bothering you. You’re trying to distract yourself.”

The man fell silent, and Ezra didn’t respond.  He just continued to stare at the steering yoke.

Ezra?

“Find something to focus on, something to ground you.”  The clone squeezed his shoulder, ignoring the involuntary shudder he gave, and left.


They had no hope of getting out of this, not even mostly intact at the very least.

There had been no surrender order, at least none that Sabine had heard.  Ezra had briefly explained the...bond he had with the other Inquisitors to her once, but he hadn’t added much detail.  And she could tell he didn’t want to think about it anymore, much less talk about it. But if there had been a surrender order, it had been given solely to Ezra, and he had yet to inform the rest of them if so.

Not that she intended on surrendering anytime soon.

Shoot ten degrees left, now!”  She didn’t acknowledge the comm as she and Zeb started to adjust the laser cannon.  Almost there….

Fire!”  She fired, blinking rapidly out of habit even though her helmet protected her from most of the grains of sand.  Within seconds, she heard a steady groaning noise and the scream of metal.

And then there was a thud that made her stumble back into Zeb.  His hand—paw?—caught her and helped her regain her balance. She turned to him and nodded hurriedly in thanks before turning forward again.

Sabine, Zeb, get into the Phantom.  Now.   I’m bringing Kanan.”  She was startled by the urgency in Ezra’s voice over the comm but pulled it out anyway, fumbling with it until she found the on switch.

“We just shot one down I think.  Why stop now?”

Because they can sense me.  You have to go.

“Aren’t you com—“

Go!

“We probably should listen to ‘im.  The kid and Kanan, they uh, probably have some sorta plan,” Zeb suggested after a minute.  Sabine nodded slowly, still in a daze.

“R- right.”

“Well c’mon then.”  They both turned as Sabine led them back inside the tank.

Sabine was pulling off her helmet as they reached the Phantom and entered, but stopped when she saw Kanan already sitting inside.  The Jedi blinked in surprise.

“Where’s Ezra?”

“We thought he was with you,” Zeb replied slowly.

Kanan rose, eyes narrowing slightly.  “He told me he went back to get you.”

Her comm crackled briefly and she glanced down at it, resting her helmet on her hip.

I’m sorry.

Her eyes widened in realization as she turned, trying to squeeze past Zeb to get out of the Phantom.

Ezra!” she yelled, finally managing to make it to the door of the small ship in time to see Ezra close the door from the outside and lock eyes with her.

There was a beeping on the console and she turned enough to see that the remote startup protocol had been engaged.  Kanan went to grab for his ‘saber but let out a yell, cursing loudly. As Sabine’s gaze shifted to him, she realized that he was grabbing for a lightsaber that was no longer there.  Glancing back at the door, she swallowed hard and placed a hand against it.

She ignored Kanan and Zeb’s outraged voices from behind her; they became muted as the silence without him suddenly became an acute reality.

His voice echoed again on her comm, the normally tinny sound now made scratchy as well by the storm outside.

I’m so sorry, Sabine.  But this is something I have to do alone.

Chapter Text

By the time he finally managed to convince the clones that he could take care of the Empire as long as they got the tank out of the storm, the Phantom was long gone and he had turned off his comm.  He could take care of Seven himself, along with whoever she had brought with her.

And now they were out of the storm.

And the first walker was emerging as well.

You’re a fool, boy.

He watched through the viewport as a hatch on the top of the walker opened and a lone, blackclad figure climbed out.  Knowing that that was his cue, he called both his and Kanan’s ‘sabers to his hands and headed for the exit of the tank.

A hand on his shoulder stopped him.  He tensed, fingers already feeling for the ignitions on both hilts.

“You don’t have to do this alone, kid.  I’m sorry Wolffe—“

“I’m strong enough to do it on my own,” he muttered darkly.  He pulled his shoulder out of Rex’s grasp and continued forward.

By the time he was on top of the tank, the walker was nearly on top of them as well.  The second had emerged from the sandstorm, but he knew the third wouldn’t emerge anytime soon.  He was no fool, no matter what Seven said.

What do you intend to do, standing on a relic like that?  The other Jedi and his friends left, and three old men won’t do anything for you.

I can fight my own battles.  None of them need to get involved.

A soft chuckle rippled through his mind that he shrugged off quickly, suppressing a slight shudder.  In all honesty, Ezra had no idea what he was attempting to accomplish here. Only that he was doing it with the goal of buying Sabine enough time to escape.  And hopefully taking out another Inquisitor in the process.

And then the walker stopped.

He clipped Kanan’s ‘saber onto his belt and pulled out his commlink.  “Full stop,” he called into the comm, not taking his eyes off of the Inquisitor.  He knew what she wanted. And he would give it to her.

But she wouldn’t be the victorious one.

Once the tank stopped, he started to slip his commlink back into his pocket.  However, it chimed unexpectedly, and Rex’s voice soon rang out quietly.

Be careful out there, kid.  Don’t do anything dumb.

Ezra couldn’t help a slight grin.  “Too late for that. But it won’t be the first time.”  He turned it off and made to return it to his pocket, then thought better of it and dropped it to the ground.  He brought his heel down on it, crushing it easily. He had the Ghost's channel memorized if need be.  And he wasn’t taking any chances if the confrontation didn’t end up going the way he intended it to.

He dropped to the ground beside the tank easily, steadying himself with his free hand braced on the hardened dirt.  He stood, looking up to see that the Inquisitor had done the same.

He started toward her.

They met halfway and stopped several feet from each other.  The Mirialan reached a hand up to her helmet, pressing the control which retracted the face plates of her it and revealed a wide smirk.

“You couldn’t beat me back on Mustafar or in the Works, child.  What makes you think today will be any different?” Seven crowed.

He didn’t bother responding as he ignited the working blade on his ‘saber and rushed forward.

Seven pulled out her own ‘saber and ignited both blades in time to block his attack.  He continued forward with his offensive, pushing her slowly back to the walker.

And then, miraculously, she stumbled.  He threw a hand forward, throwing her backward with the Force.

He advanced slowly toward her, blade swinging loosely in his grasp as his face darkened and his expression became unreadable.


Kallus watched the scene through the front viewport of the AT-AT walker and tried to suppress the growing nausea in his stomach.

The boy had taken the Inquisitor down easily.  Almost too easily, he thought.  He hoped. If it wasn’t just a ploy, then he knew he boy would most likely turn on the remaining walkers next.  But the reports had also explicitly emphasized that he was unpredictable…so maybe he would just head in the tank with the clones that should’ve been decommissioned ages ago and leave?

It was a thin hope, and Kallus wasn’t used to holding onto hope.  But hope he did.

There were heavy footsteps from behind him and he turned halfway before his brows shot up in surprise.  He had nearly forgotten about the other Inquisitor. He wasn’t completely sure on what species he was, and the only thing his file had contained was “Fifth Brother, Inquisitor.

And his subordinates complained that sometimes he was vague on details.

He quickly masked his surprise and cleared his throat.  “This is, I assume, part of a plan of you and your colleague’s?”

The Inquisitor was silent for so long that Kallus almost thought he wasn’t going to answer.  However, he did at last.

“If the Seventh Sister does not take care of the boy, then I shall take care of him myself,” he replied in a low, gravelly voice.  Kallus nodded and swallowed, barely able to mask his unease around the assassin.

“Of- of course, Inquisitor.  It- it’s just that- that I believed the boy was to be brought in alive?”  He cursed himself mentally for the slight squeak his sentence ended on, and for even daring to question the Inquisitor at all.

“What the Inquisitorius does with him does not concern you, Agent.”  Without any more of an explanation, the Inquisitor left the cockpit.

Kallus swallowed, suddenly acutely aware of the AT-AT pilots nearby who had witnessed the entire...spectacle.  He cleared his throat, feeling the sudden need to reassert himself as their superior, instead of some- some Inquisitor being in charge of his troops.

“Train all cannons on the boy.  Wait to fire on my command,” he called loudly, twisting his cuff anxiously.  If the Inquisitor had been anyone else, he would have talked to him about undermining his authority.  However, unfortunately the Inquisitor wasn’t anyone else, and Kallus didn’t fancy getting himself impaled by a laser sword today.

He returned his gaze to the events happening out the viewport, watching as the second Inquisitor approached the first—now lying prone on the dirt; a small part of him hoped she was dead as she was no more pleasant than her colleague, if not more unpleasant—and the boy.  The boy turned, and somehow his one red blade was joined by a blue blade in a motion that was too fast and too small for Kallus to see. The Fifth Brother ignited his lightsaber, and without a moment’s hesitation, the two began to duel furiously.

It was over quick.  Kallus could tell the boy was already fatigued from his fight with the Seventh Sister, though he put up a good resistance against his second opponent.  The Inquisitor disarmed the boy of first one weapon, then the other with ease. The teen was thrown across the dirt, landing hard about what Kallus estimated to be about a hundred or more meters away.  He rose shakily to his feet, but was thrown again. The boy managed to stand up again, Kallus wasn’t sure how, and was consequently thrown again. The process repeated itself several more times as the Inquisitor continued to slowly approach the boy.

And then he didn’t rise.

The Inquisitor extended a hand and the boy was ripped through the air, windpipe reaching the Fifth Brother's fist with startling speed.  He seemed to be examining the boy, and after a minute, he tossed him easily over his shoulder and clipped the boy’s red lightsaber to his own belt.  He left the green one on the dirt as he turned and began heading back to the walker.

Despite all this, Kallus was still unprepared when the male Inquisitor’s gravelly voice came over the console's comms unit.  “Tell Konstantine to have a high-security interrogation cell ready.

Chapter Text

Sabine wanted to scream.

Ezra had been radio-silent, leaving them clueless as to what had happened until the Empire had finally jumped away from Seelos and left them clear to head to the surface and check in with him and the clones.

Unfortunately, Ezra was not there.

The clones informed her that he had engaged in a duel with an Inquisitor, but before long another had shown up.  He had been defeated, he had been captured by the Empire, he had been taken.

Surprisingly, Kanan actually tried to hold her back from punching Rex in the face.  Tried. He hadn’t attempted to stop her from shouting obscenities at the captain’s inability to stop Ezra from getting himself killed, however—for all she knew, he was dead.

She had kept her distance from the captain since.

They had returned to the rest of Phoenix Cell after Kanan had retrieved his lightsaber—ironic, she thought, that they would take Ezra and his ‘saber but not Kanan’s.  Maybe they had left it as a calling card.

Against both her and Kanan’s better judgement, Rex had returned with them.  His and Ahsoka’s reunion seemed to raise Kanan’s opinion of the clone slightly, but it did nothing to affect Sabine’s mood.

Hera had laid off her for once, and after she had answered Kanan’s doubts about taking more painkillers with a steeled glare, he had at last fallen silent about the matter.  Zeb could tell she was still- still—she had no idea exactly how she felt about the matter, if she was honest—whatever about Ezra, and so he also left her to herself.  Even Chopper gave her space; his excuse when pressed about it was that someone who just sulked all day provided no entertainment.  No one commented when she refused the single offer to remain in the med bay and instead took Ezra’s room.

Before walking inside once more, she had nearly forgotten it had been hers once.


She hesitated and sat up halfway on the bunk before answering the knock on her door.

“Come in,” she called, voice empty.  There was a slight pause and then the door slid open.

“There’s an abandoned medical station from the Clone War that Zeb and Chopper were going to take a look at, see if they can get some supplies.  Kanan thought you might be interested.”

Sabine sat up fully, an irritated glare on her face.  “Why?”

Hera shrugged as she climbed up and sat on the bunk next to Sabine.  “They’ll need someone to help get the inventory up and running; the station’s been out of power for a while now.  And Chopper isn’t always the most thorough.” The pilot let a small smile slip out. “You’re good with tech, right?  The station might still be hooked up to the imperial records….You could maybe skim through them.”

She understood what Hera was implying and nodded eagerly.  “I’ll do it.”

The woman smiled, placing a hand on Sabine’s knee and squeezing lightly before climbing back down.  “Full briefing’s in ten.”


Sabine had not expected to start her day getting shot at by Ketsu Onyo and she certainly had not expected to end it by shaking hands with Ketsu Onyo.

The former friends eyed each other warily as Ketsu squeezed once more before letting go.  Sabine’s hand dropped to her side, and both adopted an unreadable expression, though the extra-firm grip Ketsu had had had told Sabine all she needed to know.  Still, she asked her next question anyway.

“So do you want to join us?”

“No.  Maybe in the future, but not now.”  Ketsu’s voice was firm, leaving no room for argument, though her eyes told a different story to those who could read them.

Sabine nodded.  “If you decide to...you know how to get my attention.”  The bounty hunter’s lips twitched in what could have been the beginning of a smirk, but her expression quickly eased into neutrality again.

“I definitely do.”  Her gaze fell to Sabine’s leg and she gestured to it.  “What happened to your armor?”

Sabine glanced down at the blackened beskar alloy on her left shin, remembering the ‘saber blade that would’ve cut her leg off if it hadn’t been for the armor.  She shrugged, glancing back up at Ketsu. “We ran into some trouble a while back. It’s useful to have backup from time to time.” To anyone listening, it would’ve just seemed like another ploy to get the bounty hunter to join their cell.  But Ketsu’s slow nod and the way her eyes narrowed fractionally showed her understanding.

“Of course.”

Kanan approached from nearby, clearing his throat.  “Sabine, Hera’s ready to head out when you are.” Sabine nodded and glanced back at the woman.

“I hope you’ll make the right decision soon,” she said quietly.  Without more of a goodbye, she turned and followed Kanan back to the Ghost.


Sato’s report seemed out of the ordinary somehow, but not in a way that Sabine could place her finger on.  There were mentions of an Inquisitor, not one that they had seen before.

Or at least, not one that Sato had seen.

She didn’t trust Sato all that well anyway, especially after his firm refusal to search for “a former Inquisitor and thus a potential danger to us all!”

Yeah.  Of course.  It wasn’t like Ezra had saved their lives or anything.

She shook her head, deciding that the Inquisitor Sato had mentioned wasn’t of much interest compared to the gravity wells that were supposedly on the Interdictor he and his team had been held on.  She ignored the queasiness in her stomach at the descriptions of the Interdictor and what the gravity wells could do.

You couldn’t know that they would be used on people you would come to consider allies.  You thought they would be used on terrorists, and they are—except this time, you are the one with the terrorists, not Ketsu.

Sabine shook her head again and closed the report file before flipping to and opening up the next one.  Inquisitors stealing infants seemed a lot more interesting, and worrying. Even if hyperspace wasn’t safe, children were supposed to be.  Right?

She was lying to herself.  And she knew it.


As Kanan emerged from the tent to see her surrounded by angered Mandalorians, she prepared herself for the admonitions to come.

“Sabine, I thought we had an agreement!”

“They started it!” she shouted back, shifting her weight to take off some of the pressure on her bad leg.  Immediately the safety on each blaster pointed at her was removed.

“Your house is an enemy to the Protectors.  Call out your opponent for combat to the death,” the man with Kanan called.  She’d overhead some of the other Protectors talking and she guessed this was Fenn Rau.  The inclusion of his first name didn’t help her identify him more, but his clan was enough.

“I call out you, Fenn Rau.  You’re gonna pay for what you did to Phoenix Squadron,” she added in a low growl.

“Just like I said, you rebels fight battles you can’t win.”  The man chuckled darkly, shaking his head as he advanced toward her.  “I assume Phoenix Squadron is that excuse for a fleet we shot to pieces earlier?  How many survived? Just you?” Sabine remained silent, eyes tracking his every movement as he continued.  “I guess they didn’t make it.”

“They’re alive,” she shot back harshly.  With an unexpected tightness in her throat, she added, “Barely.”

“I have to admit, this is an interesting development.  One of you came here to befriend me, the other came to kill me.”

“We can’t let you attack our fleet.  But we’d rather leave here as friends,” Kanan cut in.

“He’s already the enemy!” Sabine shouted, barely making an attempt to hide the desperation in her voice.  Kanan didn’t know what had happened on Mandalore. He might’ve guessed, but he didn’t know. He didn’t know that she had more of a reason to kill this man than the fact that he had shot down nearly all of Phoenix Squadron.  He didn’t know what people like this man had done to her, to Father, to Tristan.

He didn’t know.

“Sabine, you know this isn’t what they wanted!” Kanan shouted back just as desperately.  “They didn’t want you to create enemies and they didn’t want you to die!”

That last part was a lie.  She knew how everyone in Phoenix Cell viewed her.

“I’m not planning on dying!” she yelled back.

“I’m afraid the only way you’re getting out of here alive is if she kills me, and that is not going to happen,” Rau called.  She wished she’d shot him already.

“What is it with you Mandalorians, never knowing how to solve anything except through the end of a blaster?  Sabine, you do this, you’re no better than him.” She ignored Kanan as she adjusted her stance again. “Sabine, you make this choice and, win or lose, the Empire is going to be all over this system and the fleet.”

“Kanan, you need to stop talking now,” she warned.  Fenn’s face twitched in what might have been a slight smile as he watched her.

Without warning, she pulled her WESTARs at the same time he pulled his own blaster and shot it out of his hand.  That would do for now.

She bolted, trusting Kanan to have sense enough to follow.

“Capture them alive!  I want them to watch their fleet burn, ” she heard Rau call from behind.

She triggered the detonator and smiled to herself as the charges she had set earlier went off.  A shot took her in the side without warning. She cried out, stumbling and hitting the flaming wreckage of one of the fighters and falling to her knees.  An arm grabbed her wrists and yanked them behind her as she heard the faint whoosh of a jetpack nearby.

“Kanan, go!” she yelled.  “I’ll be fine! Just give me a minute!”  She didn’t wait to see if the Jedi had heard her before she started to stand.  An armored knee shoved her in the back, pushing her back onto her knees as the hand on her wrists tightened.

“So.  House Viszla.  You seem familiar to me.”  She glared up at Rau, a snarl on her face as she tried to jerk away from whatever laosr was restraining her from behind.  Rau’s armored hand jerked her chin up and they locked eyes for a moment before she yanked her head away.  “What clan do you hail from?”

“None of y—“

A hard jab to her side cut her off as she coughed, taking a second to compose herself before glaring back up.

“I’ll only ask once more.  It is merely a matter of time now before my warriors apprehend the Jedi as well,” Rau threatened calmly.  “You’d best tell me what you know and who you are before they do so.”

“Clan Wren,” she spat finally, struggling to stand.  “Sabine Wren, now sole heir to the title of Countess of Krownest,” she growled.

Rau’s eyes widened fractionally and he smiled.  “The Empire has a high price on you, an—“

“Sabine!”

That was her only warning to duck as Kanan shot over her head.  Rau ducked out of the way at the last moment, but not before the Jedi had managed to nick his shoulder armor.  He quickly shot the Protector restraining her in the arm and she stood.

“Sabine, let’s go!”


Kallus stared unseeing at the report.  He didn’t really remember requesting an update on the boy, but there it was.  Maybe he had and had just forgotten it in the stress and chaos of the last few weeks.

He found his eyes drifting across his desk to the strange glowing meteorite.  No. He forced his eyes away from it, forced himself to focus on the report. But what sense was there in focusing on a report he barely remembered requesting?

Sighing, he closed the report and opened another, eye glazing over as he scanned it.   He kept seeing the boy fighting off the Inquisitors on Seelos before he sighed again, rubbing his forehead as he shut the datapad off and closed his eyes, allowing himself a short moment of respite.

“On Lasan it wasn’t supposed to be a massacre.”  He was back on the Geonosian ice moon, with the freezing wind biting into his face as he tried to ignore the pain from the leg he knew was broken.

The Lasat—Zeb, he had a name—glanced over cautiously.

“But I realized the Empire wanted to make an example.”

His eyes flashed open and he barely managed to withhold a gasp.  No. That- that night on the moon should never have happened. He should’ve been able to capture the rebels easily, or he should’ve died trying.

Whatever he had done, he should not have survived the way he had.

Kallus took a steadying breath, ignoring the way his breathing seemed to shake.  He needed to focus on the task at hand, not- not on some sort of fluke.

The remembrance of how he had been treated upon his return to the Empire slipped into his mind unbidden.

Focus on your job.  Just read the report already and get it over with, he chided himself.  He closed the second report after sending it to a subordinate with instructions to “read and note potential issues.”  Reopening the first report on the boy, he forced himself to scan it and actually read it this time.  The report was the same as all the others had been; they had gotten no information from him, but he was being very...effective.  After several months’ study and contemplation, Kallus still wasn’t completely sure what that meant.

He closed the report and datapad and stood.  That was enough for today.


“Once we drop out of hyperspace, we’ll be going dark,” Ahsoka said calmly.  She could tell the old captain was worried, almost more than she was. But showing her own worry would just increase his anxiety.

Are you sure about this?”  The hologram flickered slightly as Rex tried to suppress his anxiety about her situation.  But she was no fool.

“Yes.”

"Ahsoka, you don’t have to go to Malachor alone.  I could be there in two rotations.”  He had been trying to convince her of this course of action since she had first mentioned in passing that Master Yoda had told Kanan to head to Malachor.  Not that she had listened.

“I’m not alone, Rex.”  She cast a glance up toward the cockpit where Kanan piloted.

You know, I could have ordered you to take me along.

“You don’t exactly outrank me anymore,” she pointed out.

In my book, experience outranks everything,” he countered, smirking faintly at her.  She had missed that smirk in the years of radio silence between them.

“Mmm, then I definitely outrank you.”  The captain sighed and she smiled briefly.   This could be the last time you ever see him.

No.  Thinking like that was what got people killed.  She had already said her goodbyes, all of them temporary.

Morai, however….She hadn’t been able to lie so easily to the convor.

Ahsoka cleared her throat.  “May the Force be with you.”  She and Rex exchanged a nod before she leaned forward and shut the hologram off.

Chapter Text

Chopper had always known that sapients were dumb, but this reached a new level.

Chopper chortled to himself as the astromech activated the Phantom’s comms unit, warbling into it a warning that the ground might collapse.

Oh, we might fall through the surface?” Kanan commed back sardonically.  “Thanks for the warning, Chop.  Any fix on that ship yet?

The droid checked the scanners and warbled a reply.

He’s picked up the trail.  This way.”  Kanan fell silent and Chopper returned to the scanners.

There was radio silence, and for once Chopper was a bit...concerned.  Not worried, but concerned. That was it. The droid had recorded that Malachor was supposedly dangerous to Jedi when Kanan had mentioned it briefly to Hera back on Atollon, and though Ahsoka repeatedly denied being one of said Jedi, Kanan did no such thing.

The astromech returned to tracking the ship.  Maybe Chopper could figure out what kind of—

There was a beep and the droid turned to it, logic circuits whirring.  Chopper commed Kanan.

You found the ship?!  Where?!”  Chopper began to warble a suggestion but Kanan quickly cut in.  “No, no.  Forget it, no time!  Get over there and find that ship!  Do not let him take off! We’ll follow your signal!”  There was the sound of a lightsaber igniting and Chopper began to protest before the Jedi cut in again.  “No, disobeying me is gonna be dangerous.  Now get going!

Chopper gave a rumbling sigh before closing the channel and starting up the Phantom.

Sapients, particularly the one who went by Kanan Jarrus, loved to be reckless.


The droid commed the Jedi again when the scanners showed beings approaching him and Ahsoka.

What is it, Chopper?”  The astromech warbled again.  “What do you mean we’ve got company?

The sound of lightsabers activating answered for the droid, and Chopper turned the comm off again.  Until Kanan or Ahsoka commed back, watching the scanners was more interesting.

Hey, Chop?

The droid warbled in surprise before quickly answering Sabine’s comm.  Chopper beeped something experimentally before falling silent.

There was silence before the human laughed quietly.  “Sure, of course you are.  Where are Kanan and Ahsoka?”  The droid grumbled something about the pair being below the surface of the planet and Chopper could just barely hear the short intake of breath from Sabine’s end.  “And you just let them go down there?” she asked softly.  Chopper warbled worriedly; the astromech was well aware of what it meant when Sabine’s voice got that quiet.  The astromech didn’t respond after several minutes and Sabine finally sighed. “Just- just make sure they aren’t gonna die down there, alright?  And maybe I’ll try and give you an oil bath.”  The droid chortled cheerfully and a chuckle same from Sabine’s end.  “Bye Chop.”  The channel disconnected.

Chopper turned the scanners back on, checking the bio signatures around Kanan and Ahsoka.

Oddly enough, not two, but five showed up.  And less than a moment later, it was seven.

The droid made to comm Sabine again.

There was a faint whoosh as the comms unit on the Phantom went dead.

The comms beeped again after what the droid’s internal chronometer said was two hours and Kanan’s voice came through.  It sounded more staticky than it had the last time; the pair must have been getting deeper underground. There was a sigh before the Jedi spoke.  “Chopper, we’re staying for a while.”  The astromech grumbled in protest.  “Yeah, I know it’s a bad idea.  Just scan for incoming ships, and keep the Phantom out of sight.”  The droid grumbled again before shutting off the channel.

They would be here for a long time.


Chopper finally got the scanners to work enough to pick up on what type of ship it was.  And when the droid realized what it was, Chopper quickly turned on the comms again. The droid beeped rapidly into it.

Chopper!  Am I glad to hear you!  We need a pickup!”  Kanan’s voice was strained, and Chopper’s audio receptors registered the sound of lightsabers clashing against each other.  The astromech beeped urgently again. “A TIE fighter?  Are you sure?”  There was a pained grunt from the Jedi and the channel went dead.


The droid shrieked anxiously, encouraging Kanan and Ahsoka to hurry.  Kanan had warned Chopper to let Hera know they had two people who needed immediate medical attention upon their return to base, but he hadn’t given anymore details.  And the astromech couldn’t comm Chopper Base without risking Imperials nearby hearing.

We’re coming as fast as we can!  Just be ready to go!” Kanan yelled through the comm, his voice more strained and hoarse than it had been before.  The droid didn’t bother turning to try and see Kanan and Ahsoka (and possibly someone else? Chopper reasoned that Kanan would have mentioned Ahsoka by name if she was one of the injured ones) entering the Phantom.  The scanners showed the droid that the temple was about to blow, but Chopper waited until someone had closed the ramp of the Phantom before the astromech started the ship again.

As they left the planet, the droid’s audio receptors registered a soft voice from inside the small transport.

It’s over.  It’s over. It’s over now.  You’re safe.

More examination revealed quiet sobbing along with it.

Sobbing that was coming from someone much younger than Kanan or Ahsoka.

Chapter Text

It had been one standard month, and she still hadn’t quite been able to fully accept the reality that he had returned.

He hadn’t returned without his scars, of course, though that was to be expected based on what they had managed to piece together of his time away—personally, he had told them nothing.

But the scars on his arms that she had glimpsed once while he was still confined to the med bay were similar enough to her own that she had a rough idea of what they had put him through.  The abrasions and burns she saw later, when his sleeve caught on a doorway and pulled back slightly, only further confirmed her suspicions.

Kanan wasn’t as silent as Ezra upon his return, but the formerly friendly man had now retreated into himself.  At this point, Hera and Chopper were about the only ones he spoke to.

The rest of Phoenix Cell began to indirectly shun the Ghost crew.  It wasn’t anything Sabine wasn’t already used to; the cell wasn’t particularly fond of the fact that she hadn’t exactly left the Empire of her own volition.  Being Mandalorian didn’t help much either. But the cold glances thrown their way at briefings and in the mess hall were unfamiliar to the rest of their group.  They had been treated as family since the moment they’d arrived.

And now Hera was the only one treated with any semblance of normalcy.

Of course, Sabine probably hadn’t helped matters much when she had punched Sato in the face after he commented that Ezra looked exactly like the mystery Inquisitor they had seen on the Interdictor.  She had been demoted and put on probation since, but she had decided it was worth it after she found Ezra huddled in a storage closet back on the Ghost after the incident .  She had stayed with him, just sitting next to him, for several hours after that.

Kanan, too, was shunned.  Almost more than the rest of them, as he had returned alone and accompanied by someone Commander Sato had publicly announced as a potential threat only two months after he had gone missing.  After all, if Ezra hadn’t returned by now, then he was either dead, in imperial custody, or doing their job for them. As it turned out, two of those statements applied.

Still, Zeb had had to hold her back when she had tried to punch Sato then.  He hadn’t been there the second time.

The biggest change, however, was that both Kanan and Ezra had lost their sight.

And Sabine was well aware of just how much Ezra blamed himself for it, even in his now-constant state of confusion and fear.


She was walking next to him as he patrolled the perimeter of the base.  It seemed to help keep him grounded, keep him from...from doing whatever it was that he did when he wasn’t.

Sabine glanced at him cautiously before quickly looking away.  In their time apart, Ezra had somehow developed a tendency to flinch whenever someone looked at him head-on.  Somehow he was able to sense when someone was doing so, and occasionally he would even take a step back. She wasn’t exactly sure why, and she wouldn’t push it.

He hadn’t pushed Mandalore.  She wouldn’t push Malachor.

Surprisingly, he was the first one to break the silence.  “I’m...sorry about Ahsoka. I’m told you two were- were close.”

She glanced up before remembering his new quirk and looking away again.  It would take her a long time still to get used to his and Kanan’s new habit of wearing a mask.  “You...it wasn’t- it wasn’t your fault.”

He sighed, his voice heavy and tired as he answered, more exasperated than angry.  “You weren’t there, Sabine. You don’t- you don’t know. It was my fault, it was all my fault.”

She allowed several minutes of silence to pass as they continued onward.

Ezra put a hand out in front of her without warning as he stopped, tilting his head slightly before turning to look past her and the barrier.  With the way he acted sometimes, it was hard to forget he was blind. And other times, like now, he almost seemed to still be able to see.

“What’s wrong?”

“Shh,” he mumbled.  His hand drifted to his back where he normally kept his lightsaber, but after a moment of fumbling around blindly he seemed to remember that Command had taken it after one of his relapses.  Both of his hands dropped to his sides.

“...Ezra?”

“Those—what do you call them?—those creatures are out there.”  He raised a hand, gesturing vaguely to the land behind the barrier.  “I can hear them.”

“Kryknas, Ezra.  They’re called kryknas.”  Sabine didn’t mention that this was the fifth time she had reminded him of their name, and the second time this week.  He nodded.

“Do they ever- have they ever attac- attacked?”

She nodded before biting her lip and remembering he couldn’t see.  “Yeah. A while ago. After we set the barrier up, they haven’t been able to come through.  No one goes outside it if they can avoid it.”

“‘Barrier?’” he echoed in confusion.  His head turned as he seemed to glance around in bewilderment.  “There’s no- wait. Is it- is that the humming noise?”

Sabine hesitated before nodding again.  “I can’t hear it, but if you can, that’s probably what it is.”  Ezra nodded, and after several more long moments he abruptly began to walk again.


Surprisingly, Sabine was promoted.

She blinked in surprise as Commander Sato handed her a new rank badge.  “Lieutenant Commander Wren. You’ve proven your usefulness recently, and Captain Hera recommended you as well.  Wear this badge with honor, and live up to what it means.”

She nodded slowly, still a bit dazed as she searched for a place to pin the badge but realized her armor prevented her from doing so.  “Can I paint it on?” she asked sheepishly.

Sato raised an eyebrow but gave a curt nod.  “If you must.” The rebel leader didn’t bother attempting to hide the tone of disdain in his voice.

“Thank you, sir.  I hope I can live up to it.”

“I hope you can as well.”  The implied threat of a demotion was heavy in his words but she nodded stiffly again.  Sato left and she turned, starting back toward the Ghost where she had been working on repairing some old servos before she had gotten the comm from Sato.

Ezra’s blind gaze from nearby, somehow eerily directed in her exact direction, did not go unnoticed.

Chapter Text

Kill him.

The voice coming from his comm is quiet, but it echoes in the small room.  He swallows, eyes flitting around.

Only one of you gets out alive.  And it will be you.”  Seven’s tone is more threatening than reassuring.

But he will get out.

For Sabine.

He’s a failure.  And if you don’t kill him, then you might as well be, too.

He swallows again.

Sabine.

Think of Sabine.

Well, child?

He can sense his opponent, but he hasn’t made a move against him yet.

“I- I’m not your soldier anymore.  I don’t take orders,” he replies in a wavering voice.  There’s a harsh laugh from the other end.

This is the one who suggested your most recent punishment, boy.  You were a flaw in the system. And so he kindly helped to fix you for us.  And do you know what else he is?   He was strong enough to earn his own rank.   He was strong enough to kill a Jedi.  So why don’t you prove you’re the Heir and kill him already.

Otherwise, there will be no need for your precious Mandalorian to be kept alive any longer.”  Seven’s voice is scathing, only serving to make the already-raised hairs on the back of his neck stand taller.

He swallows again and the ‘saber in his hand trembles.  He ignites both ends and takes a step forward.

There’s a sudden chuckle from the darkness that makes him freeze.  A boy only a year or two younger than him steps forward, flicking dirty blonde hair out of his eyes as a lopsided grin forms.

“So, you’re the Heir.”  It’s not a question. The boy takes another step forward.  “Who’s training you now? Three? Seven?”

He still doesn’t answer, only watching the boy slowly continue to emerge from the shadows.  The boy’s eyes flick to the ignited ‘saber.

“They fixed it for you?  Or did you do it yourself?”  The boy’s Core accent is starting to get on his nerves.  He remembers it dimly, grating on his ears as he tries to blink through a drug-induced trance enough to tell what they’re doing next.

His preoccupied thoughts nearly prevent him from sensing the danger in front of him.  But the faint twin hums of the crimson blades give him enough warning to jump backward and throw up his own blade.  The blonde’s grin widens.

“Looks like that didn’t quite take the fight out of you yet after all,” he chuckles.  The boy feints and lunges, swiping at his left arm. He jumps back again but doesn’t get the time to throw up his own blades before the boy is slashing again, slashing as he moves closer, and fear threatens to wash over him as the blade slashes again, cracking his ‘saber in half and he screams as the blade thrusts into his shoulder and he can’t stop screaming and he starts to fall back against the wall as his ‘saber hilt falls from his hand and the other teen is leaning forward with that same sickening smile on his face that he’s had on the whole duel and now the boy’s lips are nearly brushing his ear as he whispers, “This isn’t enough to kill you, just to make you hurt like she did when I k

And Ezra was awake, his throat hoarse as a scream dies out and he was breathing hard and fast as he took a shuddering breath and struggled to get a grip on reality because this wasn’t the Works and this wasn’t Mustafar and he and Sabine were safe here, weren’t they? or he thought they were safe here, but then again he had thought she was safe on the Ghost and he was safe in the cell, where Seven supposedly couldn’t—

“Ezra?”  There was a knock on his door and he jumped, blinking and turning his head to where the sound came from.   Why is it so dark?

Flashing red as a double-bladed lightsaber whirls toward both him and Kanan.  He tries to shove the Jedi out of the way but he’s too late and they’re both on the ground and both screaming and he can’t see he can’t see he can’t see his eyes are burning but most of all he can’t see—

He took in slow, deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself.  Someone had taught him this—Sabine? It must have been. He wouldn’t have done the grounding exercise otherwise.

There was another knock at the door.  “Ezra, you okay? It’s me.”

Sabine.  He recognized the voice and sat up slowly, careful not to hit his head on the ceiling above as he cautiously dangled his legs over the edge of the bunk.  Slowly he eased himself off and landed on the floor in an unsteady crouch.

He rose and stumbled over to where he thought the blast door was—just go straight, you won’t miss it, Sabine had said while they were working on his spatial awareness a few weeks ago—when his foot kicked something hard.  He muttered a sharp curse and continued, slower. His outstretched hand hit something and he felt around, realizing it was flat metal.  The door.

Hopefully.

He continued to feel around for the keypad and finally found it, glad all that was required to key the blast door open was his handprint.  He placed his hand on the smooth, flat screen and waited until he felt more than heard the whoosh of the door sliding open.

“I heard you screaming.”  Ezra turned to Sabine’s voice, cocking his head slightly.  It was a habit he had picked up in the first few weeks after losing his vision to help him hear things better until he adjusted to a sightless world, and now that he had started, he couldn’t seem to stop.

He could sense that it unnerved people, though.  Especially Sabine, despite her attempts to hide it.

He appreciated the effort.

“You...wanna talk about it?” Sabine continued.  He shrugged.

“Bad dream.”

There was silence for several moments before she replied, “Oh,” quietly.

Another silence fell and he heard her shuffling, probably scuffing her foot on the floor.  Finally she spoke again.

“I’ll go, um, if there’s nothing else you need….”

She only took two steps away before he called after her.  “Wait!” The footsteps stopped and he imagined her turning back to face him.

“Yeah?”

He swallowed hoarsely before speaking, his voice quiet.  “Could you...um...could you stay? In- in here...I don’t want—I can’t sleep anymore.  If- if you’re- you’re okay with it.” He lowered his head silently as he felt his cheeks burn.

You shouldn’t have asked her that, it makes you look weak, but you already are weak, so this is just admitting it….Seven was right about you….

There was a long pause and he finally spoke up again.  “It- it’s fine, I can- I can practice or- or something—“

To his surprise, she cut him off, something he couldn’t quite place—embarrassment?—coloring her voice.  “No, it’s- I can- I’ll stay if- if you need me to. It’s just- um- your room, it- it has one bunk.”

He hesitated before realizing what she was saying.  His cheeks darkened further and his hand involuntarily shot up to the back of his neck.  “Um I- I can take the floor, I won’t be able to sleep anyway….”

“I haven’t been able to either.  I can take the floor. Trust me, you need the sleep more than I do.”

They lapsed into silence again as he stared with sightless reconstructions at where he thought her eyes were—you’ll never be sure again.  The only sounds were their quiet breaths and the thundering of his heart—it’ll be this loud the rest of your life because that’s how it’s been since you lost your sight and you’re not getting your sight back, not now and not ever.  And all at once he wanted her near him—anyone near you, really; you’re just so starved for physical contact that’s not about breaking you or about what Seven d—

He barely heard her footsteps as she approached him.

He barely felt her lips on his as she kissed him.

He barely remembered her name as she pulled away from him.

“I’ll take the floor, considering you can get back up to the bunk without hurting yourself again,” she said quietly, slipping past him into the room.

He stood in stunned silence for a long moment before realizing what she had said.  He nodded and slowly stumbled across the room, fumbling along the wall for the ladder up to the bunk.  He climbed it unsteadily, hands shaking as he felt blindly for the next rung.

Somehow he knew she was watching him, and he didn’t want to be weak.  If he couldn’t even climb a simple ladder….

He made it up at last, withholding a sigh as he sat on the bunk, crossing his legs.

“So you’re not even going to attempt to sleep?” Sabine called up.  He shrugged, then realized that in the darkness she wouldn’t be able to see the movement.

“I don’t know how much use it would be.”

They both fell quiet by silent agreement.  When the blast door finally slid shut on its own, he jumped.

She must have heard him because there was the sound of her shifting below.  “You okay up there?”

“Y- yeah, I’m fine.”

She hesitated before speaking again.  “If you want to talk, or- or anything...about what happened...you don’t have to, but if you want to, I’m here.  Or just- just to talk in general.”

“Okay.”  In the silence that followed—no, not silence, he hadn’t had true silence since the time spent in his cell on Mustafar when he had been alone—in the quiet that followed, he tried to see.  He had tried to see every night, every night after he had awoken from another nightmare, every night the same.  A different horror each time, but familiar horrors all the same.

He could not see, of course.

But he could hear.

And the duality of their breaths for once rose above the pounding rhythm of his own heart.

He spoke before his thoughts were fully collected, before they could have a chance to make him back down.  He was not weak.

“Do you- have you ever regretted- regretted a choice?  But you regret it so much it- it takes over everything?”

All he could see was the crimson blade going into their chests over and over and over again as he waited for her to answer.  Finally, in a quiet, weary tone, she answered, “Yes.”

“Do you ever- do you ever stop regretting it?”

“I...I still haven’t.”

He stopped speaking again, just listening to their breathing and the thundering badum-badum and staring into the silence.

“Ezra, what- what happened on Malachor?  To Kanan. He’s- he’s different,” she murmured into the darkness.  He stiffened, swallowing hard. It took several long minutes to regain the resolve to speak and not think of red-and-black monsters twirling double-bladed crimson ‘sabers as their light, their searing, savage red light, was the last thing he saw.  He swallowed again.

“He...he and Ahsoka were attacked.  There was- there was—“ what was the word the Inquisitorius had used for Maul when they had first given him his assignment? shadow?— “there was a shadow.  It- he- he blinded him. And Ahsoka- Ahsoka didn’t come back.” His voice broke and he realized with a start that there was a lump in his throat, but the tears wouldn’t come.  Bitterly, he vaguely remembered the med droid’s analysis of his injury, remembered that it had said something about irreparable damage that even reconstructive surgery wouldn't help with (it wasn't like the rebellion had enough credits anyway to waste on a former Inquisitor for something like that), remembered that it had said something about part of his face simply being burned off, remembered that it had said something about the 'saber blade going far enough in to both render any hope he had of seeing again false. Seven had been right; she had always been right: He would leave the Inquisitorius a different person than he had been when he had entered it.  Though he knew this wasn’t really what she had in mind.

They were silent the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Kanan didn’t want to blame the kid, really, he didn’t.

But he couldn’t help it.

It was the kid’s fault, he reasoned to himself—with help, of course.  He could vividly recall the kid appearing with the Inquisitors on the cliff edge, Kanan’s own eyes flicking to Ahsoka to glimpse a flash of what might’ve been concern before it hardened into firm determination as she took a ready stance, primary blade in front and shoto behind as Kanan swallowed and brought his own blade up in Form III’s defensive stance and he was sure he hadn’t imagined the sudden terror that flashed across the boy’s face as he glanced up at one of the other Inquisitors with him and then he somehow felt an explosion of pain from the boy’s end even though the Inquisitor had physically done nothing but the boy stayed at their sides anyway and then there was Darth Maul—

You’re right here, right now.  You aren’t on Malachor anymore.  You’re on the Ghost.   You're on Atollon.  You’re safe.

He took a shuddering breath in, splaying his hands out on his knees as he tried to ground himself again.

Breathe.  In, out, count to three.  Breathe.

It’s not his fault.

But it was.

He gradually steadied himself and swallowed hoarsely before standing, using the Force in a weak attempt to maneuver to the door.  He reached out blindly, feeling around for the keypad until he found it and placed his palm over the screen.

The door slid open and he stepped out, turning slightly as he heard a faint noise from...somewhere.  Probably still in the Ghost.

Probably.

Kanan walked down the hall, still bewildered at the way his footsteps echoed off the durasteel.  Everything seemed so much louder now that he couldn’t rely on his vision….

As he got closer to where he thought the galley was he heard soft voices followed by the quiet thunk of a mug being set down.

As he got closer, the voices grew louder and more discernible.  He was able to pick out Sabine, interspersed occasionally with Ezra’s muted tone.

He tripped on something and blindly reached out as he was flung forward.  He grasped the wall, or the edge of it, and felt around with his foot until he found what had tripped him.  It felt like a threshold...maybe the threshold of the galley? If he had even made it there, he thought cynically.

He realized the voices had fallen silent.  They must have realized he was there.

“Kanan?”

Sabine sounded confused, her voice muddled with sleep.

“Is anyone else awake yet besides you and Ezra?”

“No, not yet.  Just you. I think Chopper’s still recharging or something too, otherwise he would’ve come in by now.”

Kanan nodded and started walking again, taking it slower and blindly reaching his hand out to feel around for any other tripping hazards.  He felt the edge of something and stopped. Feeling around it, he recognized it as a counter and suppressed a small smile. He had managed to make it to the galley after all.

He sniffed, suddenly recognizing the scent of caf.  “Where’s the caf?” Someone moved across the room, and he heard the sound of a cup hitting the counter.  Moments later he could hear liquid pouring. More footsteps and a hand was carefully raising his own, slowly easing his hand open to accept a mug.  He drank slowly before nodding. “Thanks.”


After what must’ve been four or five hours of sleepless silence, Sabine had suggested leaving the room.  Ezra had agreed, and together they had made their way to the galley and made caf at what the chrono said was an hour that no being should ever be awake.

She’d made several attempts at conversation, mostly just meaningless subjects such as what kind of blaster he preferred, or what Lothal was like when he was a kid.

He had answered the blaster question.  When she asked about Lothal, however, he had just tensed up and gone silent.

This is what you get when you kriff up.  This is why you don’t just kiss someone!

She wanted to tracyn tracy'uur kaysh'ast for that mistake.  She should’ve asked him first, at least.

And now Kanan was there, drinking caf like normal, except it wasn’t normal because Kanan now had a mask and the beginnings of a beard and this was the first time she’d seen him out of his room in a week except for using the ‘fresher and Ezra was next to her, again like normal, but of course it wasn’t normal because Ezra didn’t have his mask on and she could see the still-scarlet and blistered stripe across his face that stopped him from seeing and the attempts at reconstructed eyes that looked nothing like his because the rebellion couldn't afford to get any that actually worked, much less looked like his, and she could see his hair, grown out just enough that she could tell there was a difference between now and the last time she had seen him before Malachor and he also had faint stubble now but she wasn’t even sure he realized it and now he was scared of people even looking at him too long and he couldn’t sleep but that wasn’t new but what was new was the fact that he screamed audibly in his sleep and the icy silence that hung thick and tangible in the air between them.

And she shouldn’t be the one panicking because she was fine, she was fine because she wasn’t the one who couldn’t see anymore.

You shouldn’t have kissed him.  You’re not even completely sure about your own feelings yet; what about his?  And you know he has issues with that, anyway.

She bit her lip, staring into her cup of caf while Kanan leaned against the counter and drank his silently.  Ezra just stared at...whatever he was looking at. The floor, maybe.

Kanan abruptly cleared his throat.  Ezra’s head whipped toward him, eyes staring blankly in the Jedi’s direction.

“So.  Why are you two up so early?”

She cast an uneasy glance at Ezra before remembering he couldn’t see it.  “Couldn’t sleep.”

Something almost reminiscent of a smile started to form on Kanan’s face before he covered it by taking a long sip of caf again.  “Both of you?”

She glanced uneasily at Ezra again, hesitating before answering, her words slow.  “I...heard him scream in his sleep, so…I went to check on him.”

Kanan seemed to be fighting back the urge to smile again as he took another sip before asking, “And?”

She bit her lip before answering.  “We...sat in his room for a while and talked...and then we came and made caf.”   Ezra why can’t you help me out here?!

Ezra, predictably but still much to her chagrin, remained silent.

“Mm.”  Kanan was silent as he finished off his cup of caf and set the mug down on the counter.  He folded his arms and remained silent for several long minutes before speaking again. “Is that the first time…?”

Sabine’s mind blanked but Ezra pushed off from the counter quickly, cheeks flushing and eyes wild even though he couldn’t see anything.  “We- we didn’t- it wasn’t—“

Sabine caught on and her own eyes went wide.  “N- no, it wasn’t- we just talked—“

Kanan raised an eyebrow.  “Sure,” he drawled.

She turned to stare at Ezra, uncertain how to convince Kanan of the truth.

“I’m going back to my room,” Kanan announced, “if you two wanna make out again just don’t bother me.  Thanks for the caf.” He pushed off from the counter while waving a hand dismissively, and only Ezra taking a preventative step back stopped the Jedi from running into him.  Kanan stumbled out of the galley, and Sabine shot Ezra another glance.

“Well.  That was interesting,” Ezra remarked dryly.  She raised an incredulous eyebrow. That was the first joke he had made since...since his disappearance.

“You think he’ll tell Hera or Zeb?”

Ezra shook his head decisively.  “No, no I don’t think so. When was the last time he even left his room?”

Sabine couldn’t think of an answer to that.

Ezra’s head whipped up suddenly.  He felt behind for the counter to orient himself, and upon gripping it, he faced front again and took a cautious step forward.

“What is it?”

“I thought I heard something.  Just- just keep talking,” he replied in a low voice.  Sabine nodded before cursing herself again for the useless motion.

“So Sato wants to put me on another couple missions, help me get some more experience,” Sabine said, trying to keep her voice at the same level it had been so as to avoid whoever—or what ever—Ezra had heard becoming suspicious.

Her eyes tracked him across the galley as he moved to the doorway and cautiously took a step out.

He must’ve heard the noise again—a noise so quiet, or maybe one that she was so familiar with, that Sabine didn’t register it above Ezra’s quiet footsteps and the faint humming of the engines—because he suddenly lunged forward and she heard metal crash to the floor, followed by a grunt and a thump.  Some of the highest-pitched shrieking she’d ever heard reached her and she hurried out of the galley, poking her head around the doorway in time to see a downed Chopper pull out his shock prod.

“Ezra!”

Her warning gave him just enough to scramble out of reach of the mad droid.  Chopper shrieked again before righting himself, grumbling something about teens who couldn’t take a joke.  The droid rolled away and Sabine glanced down at Ezra before reaching a hand down to help him up. After remembering he couldn’t see it, she reached for his hand with her own.  He tensed at the sudden contact.

“Hey, I’m just helping you up, okay?” she explained softly.  He relaxed and nodded, grasping her hand tightly as she pulled him up.

She realized, only after several seconds of standing face-to-face with him, that they were only centimeters apart.  She swallowed as her cheeks began to heat up.

“What do you think he was trying to do this time?” she asked softly after several seconds.

He shrugged, seemingly uncaring if she was that close to him (she did notice, however, that he almost seemed to rock back on his heels, as if compelled to put distance between them but unwilling to).  “I don’t know. Could’ve been recording.”

There was a brief pause as they thought about what that meant.

Both turned and sprinted down the hall at the same time, yelling in unison, “ Chopper!

Chapter Text

They reached Hera’s room, door open, at the same time.  Chopper was already inside, and the Twi’lek woman looked as if the droid had just woken her up.

Chopper was also playing an audio recording of their entire conversation with Kanan.

Sabine stumbled in a few more steps past Ezra.  Hera glanced up, eyes still shadowed from sleep.

She raised an eyebrow at the sight of the two teens as Chopper stopped the recording.  “Chopper’s informed me that you were in Ezra’s room last night.”

“It’s not—“

Hera raised her eyebrow higher, if that was possible, and Sabine quieted almost immediately.

“Let me finish the recording.   Then we’ll talk.”  Sabine nodded hesitantly and Hera glanced down at the astromech.  “Go ahead Chop.”

The droid warbled happily and resumed the recording.  Sabine took several steps back and ended up next to Ezra, causing her already-darkened cheeks to flush even more.

He shifted slightly, mouth creasing into a slight frown.  He was probably sensing her emotions. Force-sensitives could do that, right?  Despite Mandalore’s history with the Jedi, she actually had only the faintest idea of what they could do, and that was only what Ezra had shown her.  She was sure there was more to it.

Not that she necessarily wanted to know more.  She was still a Mandalorian, after all.

They waited in painful silence until the recording finished with Sabine mentioning Sato.  Hera finally looked away from the droid and up at the two teens.

“And what were you going to say to disprove Chopper and Kanan, Sabine?”

She bit her lip, briefly running through her answer before replying.  “We were just talking...it- it wasn’t anything else.” Of course the kiss popped into her mind.  She quickly struggled to shove it back down.

“Ezra?”

Sabine glanced at him.  He shifted slightly in surprise, rubbing the back of his neck.  “I had a nightmare and screamed, and Sabine- Sabine knocked on my door, and then—“

“What was all that ruckus?  It’s too early for anyone sensible to be up.”  The group turned their attention to Zeb in the doorway.  The Lasat glared at them each in turn.

“Chopper was recording a private conversation,” Sabine answered smoothly.  Zeb focused his glare on the astromech in particular.

“Chopper’s fault, eh?  Predictable.” The astromech grumbled an insult and Zeb’s eyes narrowed further as he took another step in.  “I say it’s time we oughta scrap the—“

Chopper shrieked and barreled toward Zeb.  He barely managed to step out of the way in time as the droid adjusted his trajectory and zipped out the door.  Zeb followed, grumbling about what he would do to the rogue astromech once caught on the way.

Hera sighed.  “I guess we’re all awake now.”  She offered he pair of teens a tight-lipped smile.  “Look, I don’t care what you two do, but don’t involve the rest of us in it.  Just be...smart about it. And you both know how Chopper is...just...try to avoid him sometimes?”

Sabine glanced at Ezra as he responded, “That won’t be an issue.”  Sabine bit back a slight laugh and Hera smiled.

“Sabine, you made caf?  Is there any left?” Sabine nodded and Hera’s smile widened as she stood fully from the bunk.

“You might have to warm it up though.”

“Fine by me.”  Hera exited and Sabine made to follow her but slowed as she saw Ezra was having difficulty orienting himself again.

“You can keep going, Sabine, I’ll be fine,” he protested.  “Seriously. I can handle myself.”

“Sometimes it’s a bit easier if there’s someone helping you though.”

There was silence before he finally cracked a small smile.  “Okay.”

She took his hand and she noticed that, for the first time, he didn’t flinch.


Despite his expedition out for caf before dawn, Kanan didn’t leave his room for the rest of the day.

Or the next.

Or the one after that.

It had gotten to the point where Hera was more than a little worried about her Jedi.  She knocked on his door the third day, asking if she could come in, but he only responded that he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want visitors.

It hurt her that he now only considered her a “visitor”.

Still, she persisted.  She asked again the next day.  And the day after. And the day after that.

She suggested visiting the med bay the eighth time he gave her the sick excuse.  He refused.

After that, he simply answered “tired” or “I’m trying to sleep” or, the worst one, he answered with nothing.

A small part of her felt pained whenever she saw Sabine and Ezra together now.  Ezra seemed to be adapting to the sudden blindness a lot quicker, especially with Sabine’s help.  Whenever she had to leave for a mission, he got a lot quieter and remained in his room more.

Still, at least she saw him outside his room.

She asked Ezra one day while Sabine was on a mission—though she was due to come back in several hours—how he could cope with his blindness so well.  The teen shrugged.

“Sabine helps a lot,” he replied quietly after giving the inquiry several long minutes of thought.  “She helps me navigate easier, and...I don’t know….She just helps.” He shrugged again. “If she wasn’t there from the beginning, then...I’m not sure I could’ve done it without her,” he finished quietly.

Hera nodded, lost in thought.  After a long minute, she stood and left.

She hadn’t been there for Kanan at first.  Sure, when he had first come back she had hovered by his bedside in the med bay while they attempted to reconstruct what they could.  While they attempted the impossible.

They had given up on Ezra early on, only a day or two after their return.  Hera had a gut feeling that Sato had something to do with that—though she had to admit that she had seen the reports herself, along with the teen’s injuries; it was bad.  But when Ezra left, Hera had still had time.  She could still afford to just sit by Kanan, rubbing his hand while the sedatives kept him under and praying to both the Force and her own Ryl gods that he would be okay, that he would be more than okay, that he would be healed.

The duties of their growing rebellion had pulled her away from him after only five days.  Five days was far too much, she knew, to waste on a sleeping blind man—in Phoenix Squadron’s eyes at least.

Five days was far too little to spend on the man who was her best friend, hopefully more than that.

Now, however, she had no idea where they stood.

Chapter Text

Sabine left him behind more often than not now.

He knew she had been promoted, he knew she had been assigned more and more missions, he knew she had been trying to build up a better reputation for the both of them.

Still, it hurt.

Often he would wake with Zeb, Hera, Chopper, Sabine, and the Phantom gone.  Occasionally Sabine would leave a holovid on the console for him to find once he had managed to make his way out of his room and to the cockpit, though at first, when he could barely take three steps without hitting a wall, she had had to leave a comm in his room.

Even when they were all off on a mission, Kanan remained in his room.  Ezra had knocked once, calling softly, “Kanan, it’s me,” but the man hadn’t responded in the slightest.

He had felt something, though he wasn’t sure what, coming from the Jedi’s room.  He had a feeling it had to do with the Force, though it felt almost...dark.  Before he knew it, he was seeing again—but this time it was shadows and red double-bladed lightsabers, cutting ever closer until they were slashing across his face, wounding him, when it should’ve been killing him (no, it should’ve been killing Kanan, not him, he knew the shadow— Maul— wanted him alive for some reason he didn’t yet understand, but he still knew, deep down, that if he was a better person, then it should have been him).

He dismissed the darkness as him projecting his own emotions, and didn’t return to the man’s room again.

He could feel the uneasiness rolling off of the rest of the rebels whenever he left the Ghost unaccompanied, especially while the rest of its crew were away on missions.  Ezra understood why. He didn’t blame them.

He, too, took to spending most of his time in his room while Sabine was gone.

She had taken to spending most nights in his room, at least for part of the night.  They kept the same sleeping arrangements as they had started with, even though Ezra insisted it would be better for him to be on the floor.

Of course, Sabine somehow always managed to convince him otherwise.

Sabine was now technically sharing a room with Hera, though she rarely spent the full night there unless it was the night before a mission.  Though they were often completely silent, he knew that sometimes, when he and Sabine did end up talking late into the night, she wasn’t able to perform as well the next day.  Ezra was used to sleep deprivation by now and it didn’t affect him nearly as much as it used to, however Sabine didn’t have as much stamina as he did in that regard yet. With her nightmares the way they were going, however, he knew she would soon build it up anyway.

And then she started going on missions alone.

One morning he woke to find the ship’s crew, aside from Kanan and Sabine, already in the galley.

“She’s on a mission, Ezra,” Hera answered his unspoken question as he crossed the threshold, careful not to trip.  “But she still left you a message in the cockpit.”

He nodded his thanks and left wordlessly.  Breakfast could wait until afterward.

He felt his way along the corridor until he reached the cockpit, carefully feeling with his foot until he hit the threshold.  He stepped over it and walked forward cautiously until his outstretched hand bumped into one of the chairs. He grasped the back of it and felt his way forward until he reached the one in front.

Ezra finally found the console control for the holovid and started it.  He carefully sat down in the copilot’s seat as the audio started to play.

Ezra, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to you this morning or warn you I was going on a mission.  I didn’t know until late last night, when I got that comm.

He remembered.  Sabine’s comm had chimed several hours after she’d first entered his room for the night, and she had left to answer it, promising she would be right back.  He must have finally fallen asleep before she returned.

It was an emergency.  I only had time to tell Hera, really.  There were some Imperial refugees from Florrum trying to get to one of the rebel cells...we were going to help them.  We didn’t make it in time.”  He detected a faint waver in her voice, but it slowly dissipated as she continued.  “I was on my way back with those of us from Phoenix Squadron who had been selected to help when Sato was patched through and alerted us of some pilots at Skystrike who wanted to defect.  I- I trained there, Ezra.  I know what it’s like there, what they put you through...and if people want to defect, then I have to help.  I volunteered.

Volunteered?  Volunteered for what?

His mind raced as she continued after a slight pause.  “It’s...it’s an infiltration job, Ezra.

Silence for a moment.  Almost as if she knew he would need time to comprehend what she had just said.

But it still didn’t hit him until she added, “I’ll be on radio silence for three weeks at the least, unless I can get them out earlier.

His stomach dropped.

Sabine.

Going back into an Academy she had previously been in.  Where there were officers likely to recognize her. Where she most likely had a file.

But still, if anyone could do this, it was Sabine.

Wait, hold on.  She was still speaking.

I know you’re probably worried, Ezra.  But don’t be; I promise I’ll get out.”  Steel entered her voice as she added firmly, “And I’ll bring those pilots with me.

The faint humming of the console’s built-in holoprojector cut off.

She was gone.


She had dyed her hair black instead of its natural brown; though they weren’t likely to recognize her anyway with the changed records, you could never be too safe.

Especially when she had graduated with some of the highest marks on record for Skystrike.

She didn’t tell Command that, of course.  She was going to do this mission, and she was going to do it her way.

So far, nobody had recognized her.

She had only taken off her helmet once so far, however.  And the only people to see her then had been a couple of nameless ‘troopers, the other recruits, and a recruiting officer who seemed vaguely familiar.

She was assigned her barrack and stowed the standard-issue duffel in one of the four lockers along the wall.  She met her roommates, exchanged brief words with them before orientation, and easily determined none of them was a defector.

So Sabine—now Ria Tala, a common enough name that hopefully the Empire wouldn’t notice it was the same alias she had used to gain access to Krownest—waited.

And waited.

She performed assessments flawlessly, she tried not to question orders too much, she tried her best to fit in.

And then she was moved up into a more advanced class of cadets for simulation training.

And then Sabine Wren met Wedge Antilles.

Chapter Text

The two TIEs spiraled toward the heavily modified Corellian freighter, neatly dodging the shots fired from a Y-wing that looked ready to be scrapped.  A shot from the TIE on the right quickly took care of that.

Sabine’s fingers tightened slightly on the steering yoke as she threw her fighter into a sudden corkscrew, spinning away from another attacking Y-wing.  She pulled up and the TIE responded immediately, shooting into an upward arc that set her up to take out another fighter. She primed her lasers and shot, purposely missing.

I’ve got the one on your tail, Three Six.

“Copy that.”  She ignored the small heat in her chest that flared up at Wedge’s voice, hoping it was just a side effect of the corkscrew she had performed minutes earlier, though she knew better.

She shot the fighter ahead of her just as Wedge hit the one behind her, and together they turned their sights on the remaining ship.

A modified VCX-100 Corellian light freighter.  The Ghost.

She primed her lasers.

Wait...Three Six, that’s a civilian class ship!  Don’t fire!

She sighed inwardly.

And fired.


Ezra was attempting to walk the perimeter of the base when he felt it.

It was a- a feeling, an unmistakable feeling that was neither Light nor Dark, but seemed to somehow be both.

He could hear the kryknas hissing but ignored them as he passed beyond the barrier, taking one of the sensor beacons that made up the barrier as he went.  He kept their signatures in his awareness, making sure they didn’t get too close, but didn’t actively repel them with anything aside from the sensor beacon.

He could kill them before they got too close anyway.

He wasn’t sure how far out he was when the pull suddenly stilled.

He stopped, cocking his head slightly.  There was a loud groaning noise followed by a creak that lasted for nearly a full minute before petering out.

“Ah.  You heard my call.  Good.”

The Force presence was strong here, but he couldn’t tell what alignment it was.  The voice surrounded him; it was deep and seemed to come from everywhere, and he couldn’t tell what kind of being it was emanating from.

“Your imbalance woke me from a deep slumber.”

“‘Imbalance?’” Ezra echoed.

“Your presence is like a violent storm, thundering on this peaceful world.”

“You’re a Force user,” he realized.

“User?  Hmm. Jedi and Sith use the Ashla and Bogan, the Light and the Dark.  I am the one in the middle, the one they call the Bendu. What do you call yourself?”

He didn’t answer right away.  His parents had called him Ezra Bridger, the Inquisitorius had called him Apprentice, the Empire had called him Inquisitor, Sabine had called him Ezra.

But what did he call himself?

“I am Ezra Bridger, of Lothal.”

He wasn’t anything more than that.

But it was enough.

“You carry conflict with you, Ezra Bridger of Lothal.”

“It’s...Kanan, he...on Malachor….I wasn’t trained to….”  He sighed, lowering his head and falling silent, uncertain how to continue.

“The holocron.”

He raised his head quickly, gazing blankly in front of him.  It sounded like the source of the voice, the...Bendu, was in front of him.

But he still hadn’t quite mastered the whole blind thing yet.

“Yeah.  How’d you know?”

A foolish question, he knew, as soon as the words had left his mouth.  The creature could no doubt sense it, just as he had.

“Its signature doesn’t try to hide itself.”  The Bendu sounded almost amused at the question, and Ezra felt his cheeks flush.  “And what are you going to do about it?”

His brows shot up in surprise, and he hoped his mask hid it.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean, Ezra Bridger, of Lothal, that you must solve this conflict within and without yourself.”

“I’m not the one engaging with the hol—“

“I never said you were,” the Bendu cut him off sharply.  “But you are still allowing its influence to influence you, and to help you continue down your path of imbalance.  Soon you will reach the point where it will be irreversible, if you have not already.”

I already have, he thought bitterly.  Swallowing, he asked, “And Kanan?  What about him?”

“What about this Kanan?”

“He’s the one saying we shouldn’t get rid of it.  He thinks it can help us somehow, that I can make it...do something.  He’s the one- the one I’m worried about.” Not me.  Not myself.

“Hmm.  If he is the other signature I sense, then...his signature is fogged as well.  Both of you have a long, murky journey ahead of you. But first you must fix your own imbalance.  Only then will you be able to save your master.”

“He’s not my…” he trailed off as he realized the creature’s signature had become more muted again and sighed, shoulders slumping.  He turned away from the Bendu.

Using Kanan’s signature as a map of sorts, he began to guide himself back to the Ghost.


Simulation complete.  Cadets, exit your pods.  Report for debriefing.

Sabine climbed out of the simulation pod, not daring to remove her helmet—Skerris taught this class, and there was a good chance he would recognize her.  Better to keep her helmet on unless she was told to take it off.

“What kind of rebel ship was that?  That was no transport!” She turned to see Wedge removing his helmet, brows drawn together in confusion.

“Ah, but you are wrong, cadet.  It was a transport called the Ghost, which has been modified for combat.  The rebels are a desperate group of extremists.  They’ll fight with any ship, using any means necessary to undermine our authority.  That is why orders must be followed without question. Insubordination like yours will get you and your wingman killed.  Understood?” Skerris’s gaze was fixed directly on Wedge, his eyes boring into the teen’s.  After a minute, Wedge dropped his gaze.

“Yes, sir.”

“Understood, cadet?” Skerris pressed, turning to Sabine.  She straightened subconsciously.

“Yes, sir.”

They remained for the rest of the debriefing before being let out.  She turned to Wedge once she had removed her helmet and they were both a safe distance away from the simulation room.

“I see you like to take risks,” she began dryly.

He shrugged, smiling easily.  “You could say that.” They shared a short laugh and broke off at the next intersection of corridors.

Chapter Text

Wedge.

It was Wedge.

Wedge was the defector—or, at least one of them.

Sabine approached him as he stood at the railing, gazing into the clouds below the facility.  It was just another stark reminder of what would happen if one were to irk the Empire somehow.  One wrong move, and your death would be just another casualty of having the Academy so near the edge of...of nothing.

“Something wrong, Wedge?”

He turned quickly, too quickly for someone who should have had nothing to hide.  “Uh, no. Why?”

She reached the railing and stopped, leaning her elbows on it and gazing out.  “You just look nervous.”

“I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier today, in the mess hall.”  She thought back to what he must have been referring to, but a small side comment was all she could think of.  “About how this wasn’t what you signed up for.”

She sighed, still not making eye contact.  “Look, I want to do my part for the Empire, but firing on unarmed ships wasn’t what I had in mind.”

“They...they spoke out against the Empire.  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?”

“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 cleared her throat and continued, asking, “What about you?”

“I was flying cargo ships when the Empire recruited me.  At the time, I figured, why not? Seemed a lot more exciting than hauling spare parts around the galaxy.”  She studied him closer. He was older than her, she was sure. Maybe by two years? Even three? “But if this is what the Empire’s becoming, I don’t know.”

He fell silent and Sabine remained quiet, eyes flicking back to the clouds ahead of them.  She let a long minute pass before asking in a soft voice, “You ever think about getting out?”

He gave a short laugh, and a quick glance at him revealed he was staring at his slightly shaking hands, smiling slightly.  “That’s not really possible, is it?” His voice had a hollow, empty quality to it, as if he had already spent weeks thinking over this very subject.  Sabine realized that he probably had.

She shrugged.  “Maybe more possible than you realize.”

Wedge’s head snapped up, his gaze immediately fixating on her.  “What are you talking about?” His voice had a hoarse quality to it now, his tone almost... desperate.

“My real name is Sabine Wren.”  She broke her gaze away as he inhaled sharply.  “I was sent in to get you out.”

“So the Rebellion did get my message.”  His voice was quieter, though the same desperate undertone was still present.

“Yeah, we did.  But I heard there were other pilots who wanted out too…?”

He let the question hang in the air for a minute before answering carefully.  “There are.”

“We need to leave now then, before the Empire closes in.  Can you get them ready?”

“I’ll talk to them,” he promised.  She nodded.

“Just hurry.”

There was a brief pause as they pushed off from the railing, eyes locking.

He leaned forward, raising a soft hand to her cheek and thumbing it gently before kissing her cheek, the gesture gentle and brief before he pulled away.

She almost didn’t realize what had happened when he was turning and walking away.

“Wedge—“ she faltered, her words dying on her lips.

Moments after he disappeared inside, she rushed to follow.


“My investigation is nearly complete, Governor.  I have found nothing as of yet.” Kallus kept his voice even as he addressed Pryce, despite the swift current of fear running through his veins.

“Then perhaps it’s time for me to take a more direct hand in this inquiry.”

Skerris cut in before Kallus could respond to the woman.  “With all due respect, Governor, I am trying to train pilots here.  How are they to progress while under these circumstances?  Certainly not while they are all grounded!

You would do well to keep your temper in check, Skerris, Kallus thought.

Surprisingly, Pryce turned to the pilot.  “You’re quite right. Maybe getting your cadets back into space would be to our mutual advantage.”

Oh no.


Squadron twenty-two, report to hangar bay six.  Squadron twenty-two, report to hangar bay….

She ignored the announcement over the PA as Wedge ran up with two of the other boys in their squadron.  She turned to the trio, glancing at Wedge and raising an eyebrow in question.

“Sabine, this is Rake and Hobbie.”

“Are you sure you’re all committed to this?” she questioned.

“We have to be,” Hobbie said firmly.

“There’s no turning back now,” Rake agreed.  She nodded.

“Kind of surprised they’re letting us go up in the middle of all this,” Wedge pointed out.

“Well, we have to make the most of this chance.  We might not get another.” Wedge nodded as they reached their TIEs.  She lowered her voice. “Okay, listen. There’s a rebel ship out there waiting for my signal; it can get here in just a couple of minutes.  Watch me. When I go, you go. But you have to trust me.” Her eyes inexplicably locked with Wedge’s and Sabine found herself wondering what had changed in the last couple of years that allowed her to trust someone so completely within ten weeks.  He nodded.

“These rebels you say are waiting for us, you trust them?” Rake asked uncertainly.

Sabine nodded firmly.  “With my life.”

“Yeah, and all of ours,” Hobbie muttered under his breath.

“Well, here goes nothing,” she sighed.  They split to their separate TIEs.

She left the atmosphere soon enough, nerves humming in apprehension.  Their squadron seemed bigger than normal, but maybe it was just the anxiety rolling over from the pending escape.   Hopefully it was just the anxiety rolling over from the pending escape.  She pulled her personal comm out and flipped it to Hera’s channel.

“Spectre Two this is Spectre Five.  If you’re receiving this, lock onto my signal; we’re ready for a pickup.”   Please pick up.

Squadrons, prepare to break formation and engage in a simulated dogfight.  Your lasers have been nullified, but your hits will still register and be scored.  Beginning on my mark. Three, two, one.

Mark.

She immediately threw her TIE into a corkscrew, spiraling between two TIEs that she thought were outside her squadron.  Keeping an eye on Wedge and Hobbie—Rake had long gone out of her sight—she saw the latter hit a TIE on one of its solar arrays.

Nice shot Hobbie,” Wedge commented over their squadron channel.

Come on Hera, where are you?

Spectre Five?  Hope we’re not too late.”  A flood of relief rushed over her.

“Right on time.  Come on, boys.”

Here we go.  Hobbie, Rake, on me.”  The group veered away from the scrimage, Sabine in the lead.

Cadets, return to base immediately.  This is your only warning.”  The voice sounded vaguely familiar but Sabine couldn’t place it.  She responded regardless.

“Negative, Command.  You’re gonna have to come and get us.”  The alarm klaxons in her fighter went off without warning and she glanced at the blinking light on the console.  The fighter also suddenly seemed a lot...lighter. “We’ve lost power! Our fighters were rigged!” she yelled over the comms.

A blast nearby, and Wedge’s panicked voice filled the comm.  “Rake!”

“Hera, abort!  Get out of here!” she yelled.

“Negative, Sabine!  We’re coming for you!

Moments later, the rebel ship vanished.

Sabine had crashed before, but never so...never without so little control.  The steering yoke had always worked before. But now….

She plummeted in a free fall toward the clouds.

Chapter Text

Sabine took stock of their situation as she slowly came to.  Hands behind her back, and a quick tug confirmed they were cuffed.  Wedge and Hobbie were on their knees nearby, also cuffed. Wedge was already conscious, and appeared as if he had been that way for a while, while Hobbie was just now blinking awake.

A quick glance in front of her revealed someone she had only seen in files and propaganda before.

“I have so many questions.  But first, I would like to know why Sabine Wren thought it was a good idea to come back to the Empire.  And which one of you is the other rebel agent, because obviously a former pilot could not have done this alone.”  The contempt in the woman’s voice was obvious as she sneered down at Sabine.

Governor Arihnda Pryce.

She turned to a machine beside her, and a chill ran through Sabine as she recognized it.

“Do you know what this is?  It’s most effective at extracting information from the non-compliant.”

Her heart thundered as she stared at the upright torture table, stomach twisting as the faceless Mandalorian guards came to mind.

“You.”

Footsteps from behind.  Sabine turned enough to see ‘troopers grabbing Wedge and pulling him to his feet.  He grunted, struggling against them as they brought him toward the torture device. Sabine acted before she knew what she was doing.

“No, wait!  It’s me! I’m the only one, they- neither of them are helping me.”

“Sabine, don’t!” Wedge hissed under his breath.  She ignored him, staring up at Pryce. The woman smiled cruelly and turned to someone Sabine couldn’t see.

“Agent Kallus, escort these two back to their cell.   Sabine and I have a lot to talk about.”

As Kallus approached from behind Sabine, motioning to the ‘troopers with Wedge and Hobbie, she turned her gaze to him.  “Looks lik- like they found someone who can do your job,” she muttered. He eyed her but didn’t respond, simply pulling Hobbie to his feet and nudging him out the door.

She caught Wedge’s eye once before the blast door slid shut.


Ezra waited until Kanan was on one of his caf runs before attempting to talk to the Jedi again.

The man took one step into the galley and stopped, sighing.

“Figures I can’t get caf without seeing one of you guys—well, without one of you guys being here, I guess.  Ezra?”

Ezra nodded.  “Yeah.”

Kanan sighed again, moving forward cautiously.  Ezra heard a particularly loud footstep closer than the previous footsteps had been before a muttered curse.

“Do you need help getting a cup?” Ezra asked.

“No,” Kanan muttered.  There was a grunt and a thump, followed by the sound of something shattering.  The Jedi cursed again before sighing. “Yes.”

Ezra moved blindly across the galley, reaching out with his hand until he felt the edge of the counter.  He stopped, reaching up and feeling for the cupboards.

“I talked to this creature called the Bendu the other day,” he started.  Kanan hummed in thought.

“And what did this Bendu say?”

“He said I’m imbalanced.”

There was silence between them, the clattering of cups the only sound as Ezra pulled down another mug for Kanan.  Finally he ventured again.

“He said you are, too.”

He felt Kanan’s shields raise faster than he had sensed them raising ever before.

He didn’t speak again, only made the cup of caf in the sudden quiet and bit his lip when the liquid spilled onto his hand.  Ezra walked to Kanan and handed him the caf in silence.

“Thanks,” the man muttered quietly.  Ezra heard him leave, but didn’t move to follow.


“I won’t talk,” she growled, still staring up at Pryce.  The woman hadn’t moved to restrain her further than the cuffs, but it was already a struggle to push off the impending panic attack.  Pryce pulled out a datapad, typing something on it before scrolling.

Her file.

“Well, let’s see how far we can get without you needing to.  Sabine Wren, is it?”  Pryce didn’t wait for an answer as she continued.  “Former TIE pilot of Blade Squadron, and later Dagger Squadron.  And now you’ve come home, little Mandalorian. So proud. And tough, I think.  We shall see.” The woman’s smirk widened and Sabine’s blood ran cold.

The woman scrolled on the datapad again, raising an eyebrow.  “Oh? What’s this? You have— had— a brother?  Tristan Wren.  Hmm. It says here that he was executed in Sund—“

“He wasn’t executed they mur dered him! ” Sabine’s voice rose to a shout as she lunged forward, stumbling to her feet.  Pryce simply smirked and took a step backward. She drew a blaster and waited a moment longer before approaching Sabine again.  Realizing what was about to happen, she stumbled back, fumbling for anything to use as a weapon.

Electricity arced from the machine over her arm, forcing her into spasms that she couldn’t control.  Screaming, hers maybe? She wasn’t sure.

All she knew was pain.

Pryce had her halfway secured onto the table.  She started struggling again, yelling and kicking out at the woman.

A syringe.

Pryce pulled a hypo-needle from a nearby tray, muttering a curse as she tried to force Sabine to stay still.

She realized with a start that she was only halfway restrained.

She kicked out, hurriedly unlocking the cuff on her right wrist.  As soon as that was done she moved to the one on her leg, ducking a blow from Pryce.  Just a few more seconds….

A click, and she was already dodging another blow.

“Not...bad,” she muttered hoarsely.  Another dodge before she threw her own punch at Pryce.

“The Empire taught me well,” the governor snarled.

“My clan taught me better! ” she yelled, throwing another punch that barely glanced off of the woman’s shoulder.

Par Tristan.

Chapter Text

Pryce landed a hit on her face and she stumbled, vision blacking.  Sabine blinked to clear it, doing so just in time to narrowly avoid the next punch.  She kicked out, her foot barely connecting with the governor’s leg but connecting just enough to slow her down.  Sabine took her chance. She shoved her shoulder forward, throwing the woman off balance enough for her to stumble back.  Her elbow caught the lever controlling the electricity.

Blueish purple arcs sparked across the torture table and Sabine froze.

Pryce landed another hit, but it wasn’t Pryce, it was a faceless guard tearing her away from Tristan, it was—

She hit the ground, letting out a cry as her chin smacked the durasteel hard enough to make her teeth rattle.  Her vision darkened for a moment and the thunderous thumping in her chest increased. The woman came down immediately, pushing Sabine’s arm down as she reached blindly behind her.  Pryce’s hand returned to her view, now clutching the hypo-needle from earlier. Sabine started fighting more furiously, squirming underneath the woman’s hold.

“Hold still, ” Pryce hissed, bringing the syringe up to Sabine’s neck.  She felt the metal press against her neck before the actual needle pierced her skin.  She yelped, kicking out and managing to throw Pryce off balance enough to remove her.

Sabine felt the drug already beginning to take effect as she pushed herself to her feet with a grunt at the same time Pryce did, dodging the woman’s next blow before attempting to knock her off balance again.  Her head spun as the governor kicked out, not hard enough to cause Sabine to fall, but hard enough that she lost her balance. And stumbled toward Pryce, whose back was to the torture device.

She didn’t pull her arm away fast enough.  The sparks bit into her skin and she yelped again, backpedaling clumsily before more damage could be done.  Pryce, however, had not had the same luck.

The woman groaned, stumbling away from the arcs of electricity.  She had been exposed to it longer than Sabine had.

Sabine took Pryce’s abandoned blaster, and ran.


The blast door slid open, Wedge and Hobbie squinting as they both raised hands to shield themselves from the sudden brightness.

“I hope you’re better pilots than you are soldiers.”

As Sabine stepped forward and out of the light, their faces split into wide grins.

“Sabine!” Hobbie exclaimed.

“We were coming to rescue you,” Wedge elaborated.  Sabine shook her head, smiling faintly.

“That’s cute.  Come on.”

They pushed themselves to their feet and walked out of the cell, pausing so Sabine could unlock their cuffs.  She retrieved the blasters from two ‘troopers slumped against the wall and distributed them, smirk widening.

“Let’s go.”

Wedge wanted to ask how she had managed that, alone and...injured, too, it looked like, but they were already moving.  He shook his head and smiled slightly to himself.

He was hopeless.


Kallus needed to ditch the pilot, and he needed to ditch him now.

He had asked for the pilot’s ID and had quietly plugged it into a datapad.  Leader of Dagger Squadron. A bit surprising Kallus hadn’t caught on. In his defense, the pilot had kept his helmet on the whole time so far.

Now, however, he took it off.  Kallus restrained from knocking him out; though it would make things so much easier for a few minutes, once Halad woke up, it would make things so much harder.

He wasn’t completely sure why the pilot and his squadron were here; the only answer Halad had replied with was “reinforcements.”

Their comms chimed simultaneously and Kallus pulled his out, turning it on.  “What?”

We have a situation in cell Eight Seven Four See on Detention Block A.  The cadet under suspicion is missing and Governor Pryce appears to have been knocked unconscious.  Immediate reinforcements needed at hangar bay six as well.

This was it.  He glanced at Halad.  “Get your squadron together and head to the cell.  I’ll get a few ‘troopers and meet you there.”

The pilot nodded and turned.  Kallus continued walking but paused, glancing back to check that Halad would continue.  Once the pilot rounded the corner, Kallus turned right. If the comms were correct, and his intuition was correct, then Sabine and the defecting cadets—if she had managed to find them again by now—would be headed to the hangar right about now.  And they couldn’t go to hangar six.

He hurried, barely refraining from running.  It was a good thing the surveillance cams didn’t pick up on audio.  But running would be suspicious.

He rounded a corner and found himself nose-to-barrel with a blaster brandished by a battered and disgruntled-looking Sabine.

“Don’t shoot!”

“Give me a good reason not to,” she growled.  Shifting his gaze to the figures behind her, he noted with slight satisfaction that she had been able to find the surviving defectors again.

“Avoid levels three through five,” he spoke in a quiet, neutral tone while avoiding eye contact.  “Hangar 24 is your best possibility.” One of the defectors nodded his thanks and made to leave, but Sabine raised her empty hand.

“Wait.”  Her eyes narrowed, and as she continued, he realized that her words sounded almost slurred. “Why should we trust you?”

He hesitated, searching for a good reason why they even should trust him.  Why he should trust himself.

Carefully, he answered, “Tell Garrazeb Orrelios we’re even.  Go.”

She lingered a moment after the defectors bolted, studying him before retreating after them with, he noted, a slight limp.

Chapter Text

Sabine limped off the ramp of the transport , mentally cursing herself for the fact that she was having to rely on Wedge for support.

Not that that was a bad thing, but she preferred being independent to that.

“Ezra,” she heard Hera call.  Glancing across Wedge, she saw the captain following them down the ramp and waving to someone already on the ground.  A quick glance confirmed it was him.

Hurriedly she took her arm off of his shoulders.  Wedge shot her a confused look but she ignored it, not making eye contact as she limped down the ramp.  “Thanks, but I need to get used to walking on my own.” A glance back saw him nodding slowly, brows furrowed.

His expression of confusion turned to one of understanding as she approached Ezra.  “I’m back.” He took a few steps forward, seeming to navigate easier than he had before her departure, and embraced her in a hug that left her speechless.  For him to initiate something like that...it was new.

She hugged him back, of course.

Finally he pulled away, adjusting his mask slightly as he seemed to look over her shoulder.  “Did you find the pilots?”

She nodded before remembering with a wince that he couldn’t see her.  “Yeah.” She turned, beckoning to Wedge and Hobbie as well, now that the latter had finally left the ship too.

Once they arrived, she turned back to Ezra.  “Ezra, this is Wedge,” she said, pausing to give the pilot time to introduce himself.  Realizing what she wanted, Wedge finally nodded.

“Hi, it’s- it’s nice to meet you.”

Ezra nodded silently and turned slightly toward Hobbie.  “And…?”

“This is Hobbie,” she added.

“Hi.”

Ezra simply nodded again before turning back toward Sabine.  “Hera and Zeb are back?” he asked in confirmation.

“Yeah.”

His face paled slightly.  “Kanan’s still...he’s worse.”


He felt the conflicting energies around his door, but didn’t respond at the first knock.  Finally a quiet voice came, gentle and trying to steady itself.

“Kanan?  It’s me.”

Hera.

His reconstructions were open, at least he thought they were, but he couldn’t see anything beyond the darkness.  He could sense Ezra’s Force signature, a strong, white line between Dark and Light (he noticed, with a vague sense of satisfaction that another of him insisted was just the holocron’s influence talking, that the kid’s line was almost completely immersed on the Darker side of the line, only occasionally wavering towards the Light), and next to him, Sabine’s fainter signature.

Turn the boy.

The holocron’s earlier words still echoed in his mind.  He had managed to ignore the Sith artifact’s influence for the most part so far; however, he was unsure as to why the holocron had such an interest in turning Ezra further; the kid was far enough gone anyway.

He didn’t need Kanan’s help to fall farther.

And maybe he could even use the holocron to solve everything without Ezra’s help.

“Kanan?”  The knock came again, and he sighed.  Might as well greet Sabine and Hera again and get it over with.  And checking if they got the defectors, too. They would be useful in the fight.

Hera was always concerned about the fight.

He stood, walking toward the door without pausing, though his pace was slightly slower than normal.  He paused where he knew the keypad should be and felt around for it, finally keying it open.

“...Kanan.”  Hera’s voice had a tone of surprise and slight distrust that she didn’t bother hiding.  He didn’t exactly blame her, however. He wouldn’t trust him either.

“Hera.”  He nodded, then turned to where he sensed Ezra and Sabine’s, plus that of another, signatures.  “You two. The mission went well?”

There was a brief pause, long enough that he knew Sabine and Hera must be exchanging glances.

“...it went okay,” Sabine answered slowly.

“Did you get the defectors?”

“Yeah.  One’s right here, actually.”  He extended his hand, offering a handshake to the pilot.  Within seconds a firm grip met his.

“Wedge Antilles, sir.  It’s- it’s good to meet you.”

Kanan nodded and let go of his hand.  He would’ve been a fool not to sense the blurred emotions around the young man.

Emotions that had spiked when Sabine had spoken.

Speaking of which, her own signature had flared slightly as she introduced Wedge to him.

Oh Ezra….

He turned to Ezra’s signature, raising an eyebrow.  “And where’ve you been? Haven’t seen you for a while.”

He sensed hastily built shields go up before hearing the kid swallow.  “Out.”

“Out where?  With all the kryknas it’s not exactly a smart idea to leave without telling someone first,” Kanan pointed out.  “Even if that someone is blind.”

“Beyond the barrier.  To the Bendu.” Kanan felt himself stiffen minutely but forced himself to relax immediately after.

“Ah.”

There was an awkward silence for several minutes and Kanan found himself already wishing for the solitude of his own room.  Though caf sounded particularly good at the moment, too.

He cleared his throat.  “If you guys don’t need me anymore, I’m getting caf.”  He waited a moment and, finding there was no protest, brushed past them in the direction he remembered the galley being.


She finally had a moment alone with Ezra after a debriefing two days later, when she had been cleared by the med bay to return to work on the ground.  The drug Pryce had given her, whatever it was, wasn’t completely out of her system, though it was out enough that she could think clearly most of the time.  The medical droids hadn’t been able to confirm specifically what it was; it had dissolved into her bloodstream too quickly. However, they had been able to recognize enough to tell her that it would likely be around a week before her system was completely free of the drug.

Sabine had left and gotten Ezra immediately after her debriefing.  The pair had left about two hours after dawn, Ezra leading her to “this place I found but I can’t see it, so I need you to see it for me.”

Somehow, he had managed to find beauty despite being blind.

Annoyingly, Ezra had made the journey on foot each time, and couldn’t find the spot on speeder.  So they walked. The hike hadn’t done Sabine’s leg any favors.

But she did it for him.

She felt him looking at her in that way of his and she glanced over; raising an eyebrow.  “Something wrong?”

He shook his head quickly.  “No, no. It’s...nothing’s wrong.”  He paused, his voice quieter as he added, “Everything’s all right.”

She nodded as he looked away, back out over the cliff.  She followed his gaze.

She had to admit that Atollon, as harsh and desolate as it was, had a sense of beauty.  The same kind of beauty that Mandalore had; an empty wasteland that few could appreciate.  Unlike Mandalore, this planet still kept its mysteries. And it probably would, for however long it took for their rebellion and the Empire to kill each other off and more factions to rise in their place.

She was resting her head on his shoulder before she realized it had happened.

She felt him stiffen for less than a second before relaxing.

She stared out off the plateau, watching a pair of kryknas fighting over a piece of prey.  Closing her eyes, she felt the wind brush over her face, lifting several dark strands of her hair.

Without opening her eyes, she murmured, “Thinking of dyeing my hair again.”  It was a minute before he responded in a muted tone.

“Yeah?  What color?”

“Not completely sure yet.  I’d like a lighter purple, but white’s always been a favorite of mine, too.  I have tried either yet.”

They were silent for a long pause again, before Ezra mumbled something.  She shifted, eyes cracking open. “Hmm?”

“I said you should do both.  Like you did with the orange and the other purple.”

“Mm, like a gradient?”

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about but yes?”  They hesitated before breaking into short laughter and she shifted again.

“If my head’s bothering you—“

“No, it’s- you’re- you’re fine.”

She sighed and closed her eyes again.  “Missed you.”

There was silence for a while, and she thought he wasn’t going to respond.  And then—

“I missed you, too.”

Chapter Text

“Worried about Kanan,” he mumbled as they walked back.  He felt Sabine’s eyes on him.

“Me too.  Do you know what’s up?”

He shrugged, debating for a moment whether or not to tell her before deciding against it.  She had enough to worry about. Ezra didn’t need to worry her further. Shaking his head, he elaborated, “Not really.  Probably just side effects from Malachor.” He chose not to mention that he was still dealing with that, too.

She didn’t respond verbally and they continued to walk in silence, the faint hooting of convorees accompanying their footsteps on the dirt the only sounds.

“Hey, um, I was wondering if, after we get back, tomorrow maybe, you’d want to do something?  I don’t know….”

He slowed for half a second before speeding up again.  “Uh sure. What- what did you have in mind?”

“I don’t know….Even just staying on the ship for a while, maybe.  Whatever you want.”

He nodded, swallowing reflexively in response.  “Su- sure. Whatever you want.”

“Okay.”

They walked on in silence, but it was no longer the uneasy quiet that had pervaded their first few weeks together.  It was now a comfortable one.

They reached the edge of the base soon and slowed.  Hearing footsteps approach he paused, turning toward the sound.

“Hey Ezra, Sabine.”  Wedge. “Uh Sabine, could I maybe talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure,” she answered.  “I’ll be back in a second Ezra.”

“I have to check on Kanan anyway,” he mumbled, nodding to the pair.  “I’ll be at the Ghost.

“If you’re sure.”  He nodded again, and waited to hear Sabine and Wedge start walking away before he left as well.

He paused halfway to the Ghost, glancing to the side out of habit.  There was another Force signature, maybe...whoever’s it was, it was familiar.  But just as soon as he glimpsed it and tried to catch a hold of it, it vanished.  He shook his head, starting to walk again. He had imagined it. He was sure.

He reached the Ghost soon, entering silently and heading to his own room.  He paused outside Kanan’s door, feeling for the dark energy surrounding the holocron that he’d more than grown used to at this point.

It was there, of course, he hadn’t expected anything different, but what was new was that the Jedi’s force signature didn’t seem to be present.

Heartbeat pausing for half a second, he reached out with the Force.

Kanan’s signature was nowhere to be found.

Breathing in through his nose, he keyed the door open silently, quickly thanking the Force for the fact that Kanan had forgotten to lock it behind him.  He slipped inside, reaching out for the presence.

The drawer below his bed.

He walked to it cautiously, thankful Kanan kept his room mostly clear of tripping hazards, and kneeled by the edge of the bed.  He pulled open the drawer, calling the holocron out with the Force.

Its dark whispers started immediately, trying to persuade him to open it, to give into the nagging words in his own mind, to give into the pull of the darkness.

It was no wonder he didn’t hear the footsteps or sense the signature, as drowned out as it was by the holocron.

Kanan’s deep growl jolted him from his internal struggle against the Sith artifact.  “What are you doing here?!”


“Wedge.  What did you need?”

“I...wanted to apologize for earlier.”  Sabine raised an eyebrow in confusion as the pilot looked down, scuffing the dirt with the toe of his boot.  “For the- the kiss. At Skystrike.”

“Oh.”  She blinked, uncertain how to respond.  “It- I mean—“

“I didn’t know you had, um….I didn’t know about Ezra,” he finished awkwardly.  “Um. Sorry.”

She shrugged, breaking eye contact with Wedge and rubbing her arm.  “It- um, it’s fine.”

She bit her lip as Wedge rubbed the back of his neck, sighing.

“Antilles!”

He turned as someone tried to catch his attention, waving before calling back, “I’ll be there in a minute!”  He turned back to Sabine and cleared his throat. “I’m supposed to be heading out on a patrol soon, so...later?”

She nodded, smiling briefly.  “Bye.”

He smiled back, giving a small wave before turning and jogging toward whoever had called him.

Sabine’s smile remained as she turned and continued to the Ghost.  Hopefully Ezra had been able to help Kanan.

She entered the ship, thinking of potential ideas for what she and Ezra could do the next day.  Maybe go exploring beyond the barrier again….

She slowed only a few steps inside.  Black streaks cut into the walls periodically, interrupting the normally-smooth finish.  She studied them, taking a half step back when she realized where she recognized them from.  It took all her restraint to keep from running to the cockpit; instead she continued her slow pace.  

Sabine paused when she reached the crew quarters.  Kanan’s door was open. She paused, listening but hearing nothing.

She bit her lip and advanced slowly, drawing one of her WESTARs.

“Kanan?  Ezra?” she called carefully.  There was no answer. She reached the edge of the doorway, and looked around it.

Kanan was alone, slumped against the wall in the corner, the same black streaks adorning the walls outside on the durasteel next to him.  He seemed to be unconscious, though when Sabine ran over and squatted next to him and gently touched his arm he groaned, head shifting slightly.  Continuing to glance over him, she realized that his pauldron was scorched and part of his arm was badly burned. He was also missing his mask. She bit her lip at the sight of the milky reconstructions.

“Kanan, what happened?” she asked quietly.  The man groaned again before shifting, attempting to sit up.

“He- he came.  He came here. He found us.  The kid- the kid must’ve led him here or- or something.  He took- he’s got him and- and the holocron.”

Ezra.  “Kanan, who?  Who took—“

Kanan’s commlink beeped and she glanced down at it.  He made no move to answer it and after a minute she sighed, taking it.  She acknowledged the call, but before she could respond a voice crackled over it.

Ah, master Jedi.  I thought I had left some loose ends.  But loose ends can be tied as well...or burned off, in your case.”  There was a dark chuckle and she bit her lip.  The voice was unfamiliar, but Kanan had stiffened immediately.  Clearly he knew who it was.

The man reached blindly out for the comm and she handed it to him, sitting back on her heels and watching in tense silence.

“Where’s the kid?” Kanan growled in a hoarse voice.

You still care for him?  I must admit, I am surprised.  I was under the impression that you Jedi were the type to keep grudges, for as much as you claim not to.

“Maul.  Where. Is.  Ezra.”

My apprentice is safe with me, where he can continue to learn what the Force is truly capable of, if used in the right...hands.

She bit down hard enough to hurt and hissed softly.  Kanan glanced up, but she gestured back to the comm.

“What do you want from me, Maul?  You have what you want. You got Ezra, and you got the holocron.”  Kanan almost sounded...tired.

I believe you have a Jedi holocron as well.  The boy has alluded to it once or twice, once persuaded that my knowledge of it was for the best.  My ultimatum is this: bring me the holocron, or the boy will have outlived his usefulness. He has become quite stubborn, and of course there’s no use in having an apprentice if he will not help you to achieve your goals.

Her eyes flicked to Kanan, full of concern.   Please.

The man hesitated.  After several long minutes, he finally clicked the comm back on.

“Where are we meeting?”

Chapter Text

He woke slowly, gradually becoming aware of the sweat pouring down his face and the cuffs on his wrists.  He shifted, breathing out slowly as the pain in his shoulders began to sharpen.

The sound of footsteps outside hit him like a speeder, followed by an onslaught of memories.

Maul.

Maul was here.

No.  Maul was- was—

He was here.   He was the one here, with- with Maul, he was the one who hadn’t been able to stop Maul the first time or this time and if there even was a next time he knew he still wouldn’t be enough to stop him—

The footsteps were getting closer, he realized with a start.  Ezra forced himself to bring his train of thought to a screeching halt just in time for the door to slide open smoothly, a soft current of air lifting damp strands of hair off his forehead.  He must be near the door.

Terror almost overwhelmed him as it opened and he stiffened further, inhaling sharply through his nose.  He tried to throw up shields, confused when it didn’t work, though he didn’t feel the Sith apprentice probing his mind for once.  He swallowed.

“Your mind is surprisingly open for one so powerful, particularly while you are unconscious.”

Ezra sucked in a tight breath.  “You’re not getting anything out of me,” he growled.  Maul chuckled softly.

“My boy, I’ve already gleaned everything I needed to from your mind.  As I said, despite your apparent power, you have virtually no understanding of how to shield yourself while unconscious.  Your mind is particularly vulnerable then, though it is also remarkably susceptible to influence while awake.” Ezra’s breathing sped up until he was nearly hyperventilating.  Maul continued without commenting on it.

“My offer from several months ago still stands.  If—“

“I’m nobody’s apprentice,” Ezra cut him off harshly, voice shaking despite his efforts to keep it firm.  Maul barked a laugh and he flinched at the noise.

“Of course, of course.”  He paused briefly. “I heard about the circumstances surrounding your former master’s death,” he added quietly.  Ezra stiffened again. “I must say, I was surprised. The Grand Inquisitor was a powerful individual. It would have taken one with great potential and great...drive to destroy him in such a way.”  His breathing sped up again.

Sabine was curled up and screaming, clawing at her throat.  He knew what was going on, but there was suddenly a wall of transparisteel blocking him from her and he could only watch and scream her name, pounding on the transparisteel separating him as she screamed, as electricity began to arc over her, as—

He blinked in the darkness, startled.  That had been...that had been years ago.  Two by now, or at least one and a half.

And it never actually happened, he reminded himself.   It was just another illusion from your master.

“Ezra?”

He sucked another breath in through his nose, swallowing.

“Are you all right?”

The worst part about it all was that there actually seemed to be genuine concern emanating from Maul.

He shuddered.

“Ezra, I know how the Jedi sees you.”

His blood ran cold.  Maul’s voice had dropped in both pitch and volume, and he could feel the warning underneath his words.

“He blames you, you know he does.”

“You’re the one who blinded him.”  Ezra’s voice shook and Maul let out a short laugh.

“You tried to stop me, as I remember.

“But you were unable to.”

Useless.

“Ezra, the Jedi blames you.  He thinks you are a danger to him, and as the apprentice of an Inquisitor, he’s right to think that.”

Dangerous.

“I tried- tried to stop you,” Ezra muttered hoarsely, voice cracking.  ”I…” he trailed off.

“Yes?”

“I wasn’t- I wasn’t fast enough.”

“No, you were not.  But trust me, it was both for Kanan’s and your own good.”  Ezra shifted, the cuffs now biting painfully into his wrists from a new angle as he waited to hear what Maul would say.  “You helped me get the holocron, of course.”

A chill ran down Ezra’s spine and he was unable to suppress a deep shudder.

“You weren’t supposed t—“

“I kept it from your Inquisitorius, did I not?  Would you rather I let them have it?”

It might’ve been better than you having it….

He remained silent despite his thoughts, knowing Maul would speak eventually.

He was right, of course.

“Ezra, someone would have found it eventually.”  The man’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “Just be glad it was me and not someone else.”

He realized with a start that he had no idea where Kanan was.  “Kanan. What- what did you—“ He fit himself off as he tried to feel the Jedi through their bond.

Nothing.

He couldn’t even feel the bond.

His heart stopped and his breathing began to speed up again.

“Maul.  What- what did you d—“

“Calm down, Ezra.  The Jedi is not dead, but neither is he near.  And it’s probably better that—“

“Then why can’t I—“

“Force inhibition injections.  Surely your training must have included that?”

“No, I- I mean they blocked me, but always manually, never—“  Ezra’s throat abruptly tightened and he swallowed harshly. Silent, cold cells, alone for rotations, or what he thought was rotations, feeling an oppressive weight around his mind, a wall almost, the only sound that of his own breathing—

“Ezra, you’re alright.  You’re fine. You are not with the Inquisitorius anymore.”

His words were strangely similar to those Sabine often used when trying to comfort him.  He stiffened.

Sabine.

“Where’s Sabine?” he asked hoarsely.  When Maul didn’t immediately answer, his voice rose in pitch and desperation as his breaths became harsher once more.  “Where is she?! Maul, what d—“

“Ezra, I’m so sorry.”  The deep regret laced within his words gave Ezra pause.

“Wh- what?”  His voice went suddenly quiet.

“I tried to save her, Ezra, I promise—

“What did you do!?” he yelled, pulling against the cuffs as he tried to stand.

I did nothing to her, Ezra.   I tried to protect her.  What do you remember from before you woke up here?”

“You- Kanan yelled something, and I felt- I felt your signature, and then I heard ‘sabers, and then I- I was following you—“

“You had no lightsaber, Ezra.  You would not have stood a chance against Kanan.”  Maul’s voice was apologetic, putting Ezra on edge again.  “Right before you were knocked out, she entered. I was going to stop him, but I was unable to.  You were my first priority. I failed both you, and Mandalore. I apologize.”

Kanan- Kanan wouldn’t kill him.  Or Sabine. Right?

He had no way to tell whether or not the Sith was lying.

Though he had a sinking feeling he wasn’t.

Since when had Maul given him a direct lie?

“I’m sorry, Ezra.  I would have been able to save her, had you not been knocked out and needed my help—“

“I don’t- I never needed your help.”  His voice was bitter, hoarse.

Maul laughed softly, though the sound was devoid of all humor.  “Then how else do you hope to be able to avenge her?”

Chapter Text

Sabine waited in tense silence as an alert on the console chimed, informing her that they would be dropping out of hyperspace soon.  Her hands clenched tightly on the sides of her seat and she forced herself to let go of it, breathing out slowly and stretching her fingers out before placing them on the steering yoke.  Kanan cleared his throat from beside her and she glanced over. He continued to stare out at the swirling blue vortex as he addressed her.

“So.  Maul.”

She bit her lip, her cheeks coloring lightly as she remembered his initial reaction to her question several days ago.

He sighed.  “I suppose I owe you an explanation.  Maul is...Ezra never mentioned him?”

She shook her head swiftly.  “Nope.”

He sighed again.  “The Maul we encountered...he’s the same one who took over Mandalore during the Clone War.”

She swallowed and nodded.  “And...somehow you and Ezra…?”

“It...was on Malachor.”  Kanan fell silent, and her brows knitted together in concern.

“On the comm...he mentioned something about an apprentice?” she prompted slowly.  Kanan stiffened before nodding.

“Yes,” he answered tersely.  “He- Maul- he wants Ezra as his apprentice.”

“Why?”  Sabine’s eyes narrowed fractionally.

“I’m not completely sure.  All I know is that...he tried the same thing on Malachor.  And I think it has something to do with the holocron.”

“The blue one?”

Kanan nodded.  “Yeah. He...supposedly, if you join them together….There’s no telling what he could do with that.”  The man’s voice dropped almost to a hoarse whisper and Sabine bit her lip.

“He won’t hurt Ezra though, right?  If he wants him as an apprentice.”

There was a brief hesitation before Kanan shook his head.  Brief enough that Sabine was able to catch it. “No. No, I don’t think so.”

Both fell into a tense silence until the ship dropped out of hyperspace.


Chopper rolled around, warbling in a low tone as the droid waited for Sabine to comm.  The astromech wasn’t experiencing anxiety, not exactly, but it wasn’t really apprehension either.  Chopper rolled to a stop near the console and warbled again.

Sabine had given strict instructions not to tell anyone that she and Kanan had left.  If someone asked the droid about Ezra, the excuse was that he and Sabine had gone on another of their walks.

Kanan’s absence apparently didn't need an explanation.

And if Chopper was careful about the way things were explained, then the Phantom ’s absence wouldn’t be noticed, nor would it need an explanation.

Sabine had also emphasized the fact that she would be on radio silence, and that any comm to her or Kanan would have the potential to compromise them.  And as much as Chopper got fed up with Kanan and Ezra, Sabine was okay. And Sabine most likely wouldn’t come back without Ezra and Kanan.

Which meant Chopper would have to stay on radio silence.  The droid heaved a sigh and rolled to a stop.

The cockpit door opened and the droid turned, warbling a complaint as Zeb entered.

If Zeb had been the one to go with Sabine, Chopper honestly wasn’t completely sure if the droid would have been able to keep radio silence.

“What’re you doin’ up here, rustbucket,” Zeb muttered as he pushed past the astromech.  Though Chopper was aware the question was rhetorical, the droid grumbled a response and rolled over to the charging port.  Zeb raised an eyebrow as he stopped at the console, squatting and looking under it before pulling a box out.

“Yeah?  An’ why’re you waitin’ for Hera?”

Chopper grumbled an insult in reply.  Zeb snorted as he rummaged through the box, finally pulling something out.  The Lasat’s ears twitched as he slid a sideways glance at the astromech.

“People’d like you a lot better if you’d keep that mouth o’ yours shut, you know.”

Chopper grumbled and Zeb’s eyes narrowed again.  He stood, nudging the box back under the console as he did so but keeping a loose grip on the hydrospanner he had removed from it.

“If you’re lookin’ for Hera, she’s out talkin’ with Command I think.  Jus’ stay out o’ my way.” He made to leave but stopped, glancing back.  “Where’re the kids?”

Chopper beeped sharply and Zeb shrugged.

“Hera wanted to see ‘em.  Let ‘em know when they get back, yeah?”  Without waiting for an answer he left, leaving Chopper in the cockpit.


Kanan walked down the hall, oblivious to the likely darkness of it.  Sensing something, he froze in his steps, cocking his head slightly.

Mechanical footsteps.  Like the ones--

“Ah, Master Jedi.”

The drawl of Maul’s voice put him instantly on edge and he stiffened, hand going to his ‘saber.

“Ah ah ah,” the Force-wielder reprimanded him, and suddenly his lightsaber was pulled off of his belt and far enough out of reach that he couldn’t risk getting it without Maul intervening.  “No weapons. This is supposed to be a civilized meeting, is it not?”

Kanan snorted in response, but folded his arms all the same.  “Sure. Now where’s the kid, Maul?”

“Follow me.”

Everything in both the Force and his mind screamed at him not to listen, but he did.  Carefully he checked his shields again; they were still in place and showed no sign of failing.

“So do tell me, Master Jedi, what brought you and the boy together?  He claims it was an ‘accident’ on your part, but I think we both know that that is simply not true.”

“I’m not answering any of your questions until w- I get Ezra back.”

The Zabrak made a noncommittal noise, and Kanan didn’t need to be able to see to know he had shrugged.  Changing the subject, he took another tactic.

“Truthfully, I was never trying to blind you, much less my apprentice.  Do you know, he genuinely believes that he would have saved you by jumping in front of my blade?  The naivety of youth.”

He scoffed.  “Of course not, no.  You were just trying to kill me, and there’s not much he could’ve done about that.  Especially not while still under the Inquisitors’ influence.”

The Force around them suddenly darkened, whispering warnings as Kanan nearly faltered.   What?

The clanking of Maul’s footsteps suddenly stopped, and he followed suit.  There was a dangerous undertone as the darksider replied.

“Well, if at first you don’t succeed….”

A quiet click, followed by a quiet warning of “cabin pressure decreasing, please stabilize to avoid injury” and a loud hissing.  He realized what it was two seconds too late.

“...Try, try again!”

He was pulled out of the airlock.


It was quiet.

His chest screamed for air, and he immediately started trying to pull himself back onto the station with the Force, but it was quiet.

The kind of quiet that had only been present in the Temple, on mornings meditating with Master Billaba, while sharing a cup of tea with her and the men.

This kind of quiet doesn’t exist anymore, Kanan.  You need to get back in there, or you’ll die.

But maybe that wasn’t so bad, if he could have this quiet.

His desperate attempts to get back into the station slowed for a moment.

Sabine and Ezra are counting on you.  And what about Zeb and even Chopper?

They would be fine without him, he was sure.

And Hera?

He called on the Force, extending his hand and trying to pull himself back onto the station as quickly as he could.  He felt the shimmering, slight heat of a ray shield, and then--

Air.

He allowed himself a moment to gasp, breathing in deeply before getting to his feet.

Now.

Ezra.


The unexpected comm came approximately twelve hours later, and Chopper was still in the cockpit.

Specter Three, you there?

The droid warbled immediately, answering the comm instantly.

Go warn the med bay we’ve got someone coming in.  Nothing super serious, but...it could get complicated.”  Sabine’s voice was tense, tight, but it didn’t sound like she was...scared.  Apprehensive, possibly. Definitely concerned. But not scared.

Chopper beeped cautiously and Sabine sighed.  “I can’t say over comm, we might still be within range.  But...just come and meet us when we get there, okay?”  Sabine seemed to change what she was about to say mid-sentence, but the astromech didn’t press.  Chopper chirped affirmatively. “Good.  We’re going on radio silence again, do—Ezra!”

The comm cut off just as Chopper started to warble in alarm.

Cautiously, the astromech tried the comm again.

The line was dead.


They weren’t safe.

They wouldn’t be safe.

Chapter Text

She stared down at the holographic Cubikahd board, lost in thought as she adjusted her clasped hands and shifted.  She had one dagger left, the red blade remaining stationary on her side of the cube, but Rau had a dagger left too.  Both the Protector and Chopper were silent as she contemplated her move. Her mandokar wasn’t going to allow her to let him win.

Especially since he had won every round they had played since his capture.

The move finally clicked together in her mind and she straightened slightly.  “Blade to cube face four.”

Chopper adjusted the board accordingly, and Sabine risked a glance across the hologram at Rau.  The man scoffed, raising an eyebrow before shifting his gaze from the board to Sabine.

“‘Blade to cube face four?’” he echoed.  “That’s a showy move. You play with too much bravado.”

“Strategy is an art, Rau,” she answered evenly, eyes narrowing slightly.  “Not that you’d understand that. Maybe I’m lulling you into a false sense of security.”

He chuckled, his eyes not leaving hers as he responded.  “There’s nothing false about it. Blade to cube face two.  I win.” Chopper grumbled something as the board flickered out of existence briefly before becoming clearly visible once more.  “I’ll bet your game has slipped since you left Mandalore. Why do you keep coming back here? You and your rebels have imprisoned me.  My Protectors have orders to give you safe passage through our space. What more do you want?”

Her eyes finally dropped to the floor.  “Reset the board, Chop.” The droid grumbled and the board flickered again before the daggers cleared from the top of the cube, returning to the sides.

“I want the same thing we’ve always wanted.  For you and your Protectors to join us, to fight the Empire.”

Rau let out a short, humorless laugh.  “I made a deal with the Empire to survive.  I made a deal with your Rebellion to survive.  But joining you? My only true loyalty is to Mandalore.”

Something cut into her as she stood quickly.  “I’ll keep trying,” she muttered sardonically in a low voice, turning to leave.

“I admire your persistence, Sabine Wren.  You could have been a Protector, if not for your family and the...traitorous events of the past few years.”

She whirled.  “Oh, not this again.”

“We could still work together now, if I was free.  Not for the rebels, not for the Empire.”  Something flared in her chest, something that half wanted to shoot him point-blank in the face but also half wanted to listen to him.  To agree with him.

“For Mandalore.”

“Sorry to interrupt playtime, but Hera wants you in the war room for a briefing.   Both of you.”

She turned to see Zeb leaning against the doorway, arms folded and a brow raised.  She glanced back at Rau, who shrugged as he stood and approached the door. Sabine stepped out of the room, glancing back as she waited for Rau.  As the man exited, followed by Chopper, out of the corner of her eye she caught Zeb giving her a half shrug.


“My men are loyal to my word!” Rau yelled.  “Your safe passage through our system is secure.  If you’ve lost communication, something’s happened.”

Sabine ignored him as she turned to Hera.  “I can go check it out.”

“I should go with you.  They’re my men. I can talk to them,” Rau put in.

She was growing more fed up with him with every word he spoke.  His pointed glances at her weren’t helping much either.

“Wait, isn’t he our prisoner?”  She glanced to her right, seeing Ezra somehow manage to look directly at Rau despite his blindness.

“More like a cranky guest,” Zeb snorted.

“He can go, but he stays in binders.  Take Ezra and Chopper. Do a recon sweep of their base, then come right back.  You are not to land or engage, and try not to wreck the Phantom II.  We just got that thing.”  Hera didn’t bother attempting to hide the exasperation in her tone.

“Understood,” Sabine replied as Ezra nodded.  Both turned to leave with Chopper as a disgruntled Rau followed.

Kanan’s absence was heavy on her mind as the group left.


He shifted in the seat, brow furrowing in the darkness behind the mask.  “What happened?”

“The Mandalorians have endured wars since before the formation of the Republic,” Sabine answered.  That would explain the smothering darkness that emanated from the planet.

“Just as we’ll endure the Empire and your Rebellion,” Rau bit back from the rear of the shuttle.  Sabine sighed, and it wasn’t hard for him to imagine her shaking her head as she piloted them closer to the surface of the planet.

“Too bad our people can’t stop fighting each other.”

Rau snorted and muttered something unintelligible that sounded vaguely enough like a curse in Mando’a that it made him suspicious.

Ezra sighed.  “I don’t get the whole Mandalorian thing.”

“N—” Sabine began to respond.

There was a crash.

“Ezra, watch him!” she yelled suddenly.

“Wh—”

Another crash, and he heard a cry of pain before he was shoved against something, the console maybe.  Klaxons began warbling as there was another grunt. Somewhere behind him, a stun charge was fired. Ezra started to push away from the console.  A blaster fired another stun charge, hitting him square in the back. He slumped forward against the console.

The darkness was complete.


“Sabine?”

She groaned, sitting up and blinking.  She moved to search for her helmet but something jerked her hand back.  Glancing back, she cursed under her breath at the sight of binders. Ezra’s bruised wrist was on the other end of the cuffs, and he tried to sit up further without taking her with him.

She rubbed her temples with her free hand as she glanced over at him.  “I’ll live.”

“Where’s Rau?”

She glanced around, realizing their assailant had fled the scene.  Quickly, she felt for her WESTARs, cursing under her breath when her hand was met with empty air.  “I...don’t know, but he’s got our weapons.”

Chopper’s grumble came from behind them and Sabine twisted to see the droid approaching, extending his shock generator.  Sabine managed to pull her fingers out of the way of the shock just before the droid activated it, beeping something as the binders fell to the ground.  Ezra’s free hand immediately went to the one that had been cuffed, rubbing his wrist and grimacing as he pushed himself to his feet.

“Did we land?” she asked as she stood, searching for her helmet.  Glancing back, she caught Ezra’s nod.

“Yeah, there’s no vibrations.  Not sure where.”

Chopper warbled a reply as she found her helmet, settling it over her head easily.  At the droid’s answer she whirled. “Concord Dawn? You’re sure?” The droid chirped in affirmation and Sabine cursed a third time.

The trio exited the ship and she glanced around before throwing her hand out, Ezra stopping once he bumped into it as Chopper rolled to a halt beside him.

“What?” he whispered.

“Rau,” she mumbled quietly.  “I’ll handle this.”

Though she didn’t mind him following as she crept up to the rise upon which Rau was perched, observing something below.  Once she was within several meters of him she stopped.

“Turn around.  Slowly,” she called loudly.  Beside her, Ezra extended his hand, and Sabine’s WESTARs—along with Rau’s own blaster—shot out of the man’s hand and holsters toward them.  Ezra caught his blaster easily, though she barely managed to catch her own WESTARs.

“Rau?” he called hesitantly as the man slowly turned.

“Your men weren’t laying a trap,” Sabine spoke quietly as the group approached the cliff the Protector stood on.  The Protectors’ camp was...destroyed, to say the least. She swallowed. “They were ambushed.”

“The Empire?” Ezra questioned.

Rau shook his head as she responded.  “No, not the Empire.”

Rau’s voice was quiet and emotionless as he elaborated.  “Other Mandalorians.”

Chapter Text

He placed the helmet against his forehead, inhaling sharply before exhaling much slower.  Sabine watched the Protector in silence as he closed his eyes, murmuring an all-too familiar prayer before placing the helmet back into the dust.  She shifted, her arms remaining folded. She didn’t want to interrupt the man, instead glancing over to Ezra.

He was studying the rest of the camp, though how she wasn’t completely sure.  Probably the Force.

Finally she glanced back at Rau, sighing and taking several steps toward him.  “Look, Rau—“

“This is all your fault!  If I’d been here instead of locked away by you and your rebels, I could have prevented this!” he yelled suddenly, turning toward her and striding swiftly back to them.  She forced herself not to shrink back.

“We didn’t mean for this to happen, you know that,” she began, fighting to keep her voice level.  “They were my people, too.”

“Don’t talk to me about your people.  What do you and your clan know of loyalty!?”  She stalked forward to meet him, glaring up at the Protector.

“Listen to me: I am not your enemy, Rau.  None of this makes any sense to me, and I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t make any sense to you, either.  Which of the clans would even have the power to do this?  Who would want to?  The Protectors are loyal to the throne, to the Mand’alor.  They recruit the best warriors from all the clans.”

Ezra cleared his throat as Chopper beeped worriedly.  “Chopper’s picking up a sig—”
That was the only warning she had before the blast.


Her ears buzzed.

Hearing came back to her in bits and pieces.  The flickering of flames was the first thing.

The next was Ezra groaning.

She sat up quickly, wincing and blinking as a wave of lightheadedness hit her straight on.  Glancing around, she caught sight of flames, Chopper tilted onto his side, a still-prone Rau, and Ezra trying to stand.

Sabine shoved herself to her feet, hissing in pain as she stumbled through the wreckage the small blast had caused.  She reached Ezra just as he was rising. He winced, glancing around blindly for his mask. Spotting it, Sabine walked over and stooped to pick it up before returning to him as Chopper fought to right himself.  She saw Rau slowly standing from her peripheral vision but ignored him, instead turning back to Ezra as she handed the mask to him.

“We have to go.  Hera said it was recon only, and I’d say this has gone a bit beyond—“

Rau’s rough growl cut her off as he approached, brushing himself off.  “I have no intention of leaving, and certainly not with the likes of you.

“The Empire could be on their way right now,” Sabine answered evenly.  A loud clunk came from a few meters away, signaling Chopper’s success.

“I’ve dealt with them before, and I’ll deal with them again.”  Her eyes narrowed slightly as a familiar look entered Rau’s eyes.  His voice dropped in pitch as he continued. “But now, of course, I have the location of your rebel base as a bargaining chip.  It’s no less than you deserve after causing all this.” Rau gestured to their demolished surroundings.

“I can’t let you do that.”  Sabine began to withdraw her WESTARs when Chopper warbled loudly again.

“Sabine, wait,” Ezra warned her.  She inhaled sharply.

“Last chance, Rau.”

A familiar sound came from above and behind them, and the group turned.  Sabine’s blood ran cold.

“What are those?” Ezra asked hesitantly.  “I don’t recognize the sound.”

“They’re traitors.  Mandalorians who serve the Empire,” Rau bit out before turning back to them.

Sabine swallowed hoarsely.  “Ezra, run!”


They split up.

She didn’t know where Ezra went, or where Chopper went, or where Rau went.  All she knew was that the supercommandos above wouldn’t hesitate to capture her—or kill her, if need be—once given the chance.

Five meters left.

“Go!  I’ll cover you!”

“What about—“

“Sabine, go! ”  Fear spiked in her eyes and she was suddenly glad they were both helmeted at the moment.  If she died, she didn’t want her fear to be his last memory of her. A shot hit his jetpack shortly after she turned, the sparks flying off the beskar alloy of his pauldrons and into the slight peripheral vision her visor gave her.

A hand grabbed her shoulder roughly, pulling her behind the wreckage of a ship.  She shoved the grip off of her, turning to aim her WESTARs before lowering them at the sight of Rau.  He gestured silently for her to follow and after a moment’s hesitation, she obeyed the wordless command.

The Protector led her to the rise she had first confronted him on only an hour earlier, motioning for her to crouch beneath the overhang of a large boulder.  They laid down under the cover of the rock and he nodded to the camp below when she looked at him in confusion.

Ezra.

Ezra was darting between the ships, pausing erratically and seeming to stop and listen to reorient himself.

There was a shout from further away, followed by a shriek and a cry of pain.  She saw the blue tinge of stun charges tint the side of one of the damaged ships before hearing a loud thud.  Ezra turned in that direction.

She almost didn’t see the supercommando before it was too late.

She moved to stand and call to him but Rau gripped her arm, shoving her back to the ground.

“Hush, or it’ll be us next,” he growled in a tone so low she almost didn’t hear it above the noise of the jetpacks below.  “They already nearly got us with that blast.”

Ezra turned just in time, finally hearing the jetpack, and fired randomly into the sky.  Several of his shots came eerily close to hitting the soldier but it was useless. The Mandalorian simply swerved out of the way before shouting, “Get him!”

He was surrounded faster than she could’ve thought, one of the Supercommandos using a kill charge on his hand—the bad one—to knock his blaster out of his grasp.  He cried out as he threw a hand out, randomly using the Force against them to shove two of the soldiers away, but two more simply replaced them. Words were muttered, too low for her to hear from the distance, and she could only watch in silent shock as he raised his hands and kneeled out of his own free will.

And then another soldier, one in armor that was almost entirely the same style as a stormtrooper’s, lowered himself to the ground before deactivating his jetpack.  He stalked forward as he removed his helmet, saying something to Ezra before waving one of the Mandalorians behind him to kick him to the ground. It was only Rau’s tight grip on her arm that kept her from surging up and after them as he landed on hands and knees.  Even from this distance, she could tell he was breathing heavily.

Finally, the man in the modded ‘trooper armor crouched to say something to him.  The man turned enough that she could see his face.

She paled.

It was him.

He was here, again.

Tristan’s sacrifice, her infiltration, the torture—it had all been for nothing.

Chapter Text

“Saxon,” Rau breathed.  She couldn’t look at him, couldn’t tear her eyes away—

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 holovid changes to a shot of a narrow-faced blonde.

Sabine Wren will be found, and she will be captured.  We will exact justice on this traitor for the murders of our people.

“Sabine, hey.  Come on. His sacrifice saved us.  Let’s not waste it.”

She moved to stand shakily.  “We have to help him.”

The group below them pulled Ezra to his feet, cuffed him, grabbed his blaster from where it had fallen to the ground.  Time was running out.

“Think, Sabine.”

They were taking him away, out of sight even from the vantage point the small cliff gave her and Rau.  He finally stood as well, placing a hand on her shoulder. She flinched slightly.

“Your only advantage is that they don’t know about you yet.  You still have your blasters. Those might just save his life.  Come.” He turned away and began walking back down the rise, calling back to her over his shoulder.  “I know a place where we’ll be safely able to watch them.”

She nodded hesitantly, and after a long moment, turned to follow him as well.


“Who are you?”

The man sniffed, glaring down at him.  The boy didn’t seem deterred in the slightest, though it was likely he couldn’t even tell one way or the other with the mask on.  Tiber Saxon gestured for the ‘commando to the boy’s left to remove it. The guard stepped forward, snatching it off his face, and Saxon didn’t miss the boy’s flinch at the contact.

Saxon could barely help his own flinch at the site of the deeply marred skin on his face, specifically around his eyes, the white-gray of them along with the scars that blatantly told him that they were reconstructions, the missing part of his nose—

“I am Tiber Saxon, Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore.  And you are now my prisoner.” He struggled to keep his voice from wavering at the beginning; the boy’s injuries were unsettling and if he didn’t have to assert his authority, then he would have commanded one of his men to return the mask to its rightful place immediately.  The boy however merely scoffed, and Saxon raised an eyebrow. “How many are with you?”

“I’m here alone, aside from the droid.”

Saxon raised his gaze to the guard at the boy’s right.  The man cleared his throat. “We checked the base, and there’s no sign of anyone else.  We just found his shuttle.”

“See?” the boy put in.

Saxon snorted.  “You’ll excuse me if I don’t take the word of a rebel spy.”

“I told you, I’m not with any rebellion, I’m just a scavenger.  I work for Hondo Ohnaka. He’ll vouch for me.”

“The Empire is fully aware rebels have been using this system as a shortcut to avoid patrols in this sector.  You’re dealing with Mandalorians, boy, not some officer fresh out of the Acad—”

“Sir, if I may.”

Saxon glared at the guard.  “What’s so important that you think you need to interrupt me?” he asked in a low tone.

“I recognize him.  The boy, sir.”

He didn’t miss the sudden tension entering the boy’s frame.  “And?”

“He’s that Inquisitor they’re looking for.”


“We’re going back.”

Rau had to admit he was...surprised by the sudden resolution that entered Sabine’s voice.  “For Bridger? Pawns are meant to be sacrificed.”

“He’s not a pawn, Rau.  And we have to get back to the Phantom.  It still has our base coordinates in the system, and if the Empire manages to get their hands on that….”

“You think I actually care about him or your rebels?”  Sabine’s slight look of shock surprised him once again, and he had to refrain from laughing at the entire situation.  He forced himself to turn away, gazing back at the ruins of the camp as he did so. To think the Protectors actually fell to these aruetiise.

A slight glance back at Sabine revealed that she was just as furious with him as she had been before.

Not that he cared.


He bit back a cry of pain as a boot suddenly pinned his bad wrist to the floor, though he wasn’t able to refrain from wincing.

“Loo- look, I’ll tell you the truth, okay?  I made a deal with pirates. That’s all. I swear.  They hir- they hired me to come here, make sure it was safe for them to land.”

The Viceroy laughed from somewhere in front of him.  “Every lie you tell me holds a shred of truth, boy. You’re giving me what you want, whether you know it or not.”  Ezra didn’t have to imagine the sneer on the man’s face. His next words were in a lower pitch and volume; the man must be crouched next to him.  “And I believe you’ve just run all out of lies.” He heard the man straighten before addressing one of the guards. “Blast the droid. Its memory banks hold the secrets we need.  We can take both those and the boy back to the Empire.”

“Okay, okay!”  He hated how desperate he sounded.  “I was sent here by the Protector, Fenn Rau.”

“You know where he is, then?”  He had piqued the man’s interest.  Good. Maybe that would buy Sabine time to get out.

“I don’t.  I swear. But I wish I did.”

“Is that so?  You know, I’ve planned to strike this base and destroy the Protectors for quite some time now.  My brother did as well, before his death. Missing Fenn Rau was disappointing, though his absence did make the destruction of his men easier.  I have been patiently awaiting his return.  Allowing rebel ships to move through Concord Dawn was supposed to be a surefire way to lure him back.”

Saxon chuckled softly, and Ezra flinched as the man traced a finger along his chin, lifting it from the floor before letting it drop again.  He let out a shuddering breath. The Viceroy’s voice dropped in volume, the satisfaction in the tone and pitch eerily similar to a voice he hadn’t heard in over a year now.

“But now, I have you.  And I think you know exactly where he is.  And you will take me to him.”

There was another blast.

Chapter Text

“Get up!”

“Sabine?  Why haven’t you left yet?”  He coughed as a hand helped him to his feet and handed him his mask.

“Why would I?”  There was a brief pause before she sighed.  “Come on, I’ll explain everything later. We need to go.”

“Where’s Rau?  Is he in the ship?”

“Oh, he’s in the ship alright.”  Sabine’s voice was bitter and something twisted in his gut.  They would need to steal one of the ships the ‘commandos had brought if Rau had taken the Phantom.  And something told him that wouldn’t be easy.

Ezra stumbled along after Sabine, hearing Chopper trundle beside them as they left the wreckage.

And then—

“Sabine Wren.”

He heard Sabine stop, turn slowly to face the Viceroy behind them.  He followed suit.

“I don’t know you,” she responded quietly.  Her voice shook just enough that Ezra could tell she was trying not to either bolt or draw a blaster on the man.

“But I know all about you, and how you’ve joined Phoenix Squadron.  I also happen to know that your mother is looking for you.”

The shock and fear that rolled off of her was easy to sense, and he suspected that it would’ve been just as easy to a non-Force-sensitive as well.

“Don’t believe him,” he murmured.

The Viceroy must have heard him despite the low tone, because the man responded.  “Sabine never told you about her family? Well. She lies as well as you, boy.” The sneer was evident and Ezra began to back up slowly, blindly grasping for Sabine’s hand to signal her to follow suit.  “They’re dead. All except her dear mother, who soon will be.

“Out of respect for what your family used to be, I’ll give you a choice.  Give me Fenn Rau and swear allegiance to the Empire—to Mandalore— again, or you can die and I’ll turn the boy in.”

Her answer came in a soft, defeated tone before he could respond.

“I yield.”

“Sabine, don’t!” he hissed.

“We have no choice!” she shot back.

“Say it,” Saxon pressed.

There was silence for a moment.  “I swear...that you’re aruetii!”  Her voice rose to a shout as she fired several shots toward the Viceroy before grasping Ezra’s hand.

They were flying.

“Jetpack?” he asked breathlessly.

“Yeah.  You still got Rau’s blaster?”

In answer, he withdrew it from his holster and began firing shots behind them as the ‘commandos started to fire back.  From behind, he heard the Viceroy shouting orders.

“Finish the boy if you have to.  Wren is mine.

There was another shot fired.

A cry of pain from Sabine.

They weren’t going up anymore.

He continued to fire blindly behind them as they started to descend.  “Can we stay up any longer?!”

“I’m trying, Ezra!” she yelled back.  “Get ready!”

“For what?!”

His answer came as they hit the ground.


She shook her head as she stood, stumbling the two steps over to Ezra and helping him to his feet.  As he turned to face the ‘commandos, she drew her WESTARs and began firing.

Saxon shot the left one out of her hand easily, causing her another cry of pain.

Tiber Saxon!  These children are under my protection.

Rau.  He’d come back for them.

Sabine risked a glance behind to see Rau landing the Phantom II several meters from where they were.  Ezra had already turned, was already running toward the cargo ramp as Chopper warbled questionable encouragement from the top.

She was turning to follow when the shot knocked her other WESTAR from her grasp.  She yelped as a hand grabbed her arm, jerking her back just as she was about to lunge for the blaster.

“Sabine!”

Saxon’s voice was soft as he jerked her back again.  “You’re not going anywhere, traitor. I’ll hand you over to the Empire.  And when the boy comes to retrieve you—”

A shot fired dangerously close to her foot and she cried out again, stumbling back.

The closeness of the shot had knocked Saxon off balance as well.

She yanked out of his grip and bolted, grabbing her WESTARs as she ran to the ramp.  The Phantom was a meter or so off the ground by now.  Rau wasn’t waiting.

She jumped, making it halfway up the ramp as Rau fully turned the ship and began firing toward the ‘commandos.  They scattered.

Ezra helped her pull herself fully onto the ramp, helped her stumble toward the cockpit and sit down heavily in the copilot’s seat to man the additional guns as he closed the ramp.

They reached atmo sooner than she would’ve thought, and made the jump to hyperspace almost immediately after.  Still shaking, she turned hesitantly to Rau.

“I thought- thought you left us.”

The man shrugged, not taking his eyes away from the windscreen.

“I considered it.

“Then I realized you were willing to die for your people, even though they are not Mandalorian.  You have not forgotten our ways.” He paused, finally tearing his eyes away to meet hers as he offered a small nod.  “That has earned my respect.”

She nodded in return before they both returned their gazes to the windscreen.  There was silence for another minute before she cleared her throat.

“So, my mother.”

“What about her?”

“She’s...Saxon said she’s alive.”

“And you’re willing to believe him?”  Rau’s voice was heavy with doubt. She hesitated before answering.

“About this?  Yes. It sounded almost like he was trying to taunt me.  There’s no reason he would lie about that.”

Rau only hummed, the sound uncertain enough to make her doubt herself.

“Right?” she pressed.

He was quiet for several minutes, and she had gotten up to head to the back where Ezra was just as Rau finally answered her.

“Just...keep in mind who gave you that information.  That is all.”

She nodded and left the cockpit.

Chapter Text

With Sabine’s prompting, Ezra went to the med bay relatively soon after their return from Concord Dawn.

It was the first time he’d listened to her so quickly in that regard.

Maybe he had been hurt worse than she thought.

She waited outside for an hour that soon turned into two, and then three.  Finally Hera commed her, informing her that Sato wanted to speak to her. Sighing, Sabine left.

After the debriefing she promptly returned to the med bay, and after another hour Ezra was finally let out.

“What’d they say?” she asked curiously, pushing off from the wall she’d been leaning against.  He shrugged.

“They said it’d be best to just stay on base for a couple weeks, just to make sure nothing’s gonna get hurt worse.  Just in case.”

Sabine nodded as they headed back to the Ghost together.  “That’s something, then.  No permanent damage?”

He shrugged again before raising his bad hand.  “They said whatever Saxon did to my wrist combined with what happened with Maul...it’s not going to be the same.  Still usable, but...I probably won’t be able to duel as well unless I can learn to do it one-handed. And flying’s a different topic entirely.”

She pursed her lips as they walked up the ramp, wordlessly deciding in unison to sit on it and watch the base as they continued their conversation.  “I mean...you can still use it to a certain degree, right? Can you still use your blaster?”

He nodded then stopped, almost shrugging before shaking his head.  “Not left-handed.” She bit her lip.

They fell silent for several minutes, just watching and listening to the base around them before Sabine finally cleared her throat.

“So before that whole mess a couple weeks back...I asked you if you wanted to do something.  If you still do…” she trailed off, leaving the offer open.

Ezra remained quiet for a moment before answering.  “Sure. I mean...I don’t know how useful I’d be around base anyway.”  He cracked a slight smile, giving a short but cynical laugh as well.

It hurt her to see him like that.

“Whatever you want.  Hera said I’ve got a free day tomorrow, if….”

He hesitated before nodding.  “Yeah. Med bay wants me to check in before I do anything tomorrow morning, but...that’d work.”

She smiled.  “Great.”

“Sabine!  We’re on patrol for an hour!” Wedge called from across the base.  She thought she saw Ezra’s smile falter as she stood, glancing down at him.

“I’ll be back.  It’s just an hour.”

He nodded.

She left.


“Kanan.”

She kept her voice soft, brows knitted together in concern as the Jedi raised his head.  “What?”

“Are you doing okay?”

He gave a short laugh that held no humor in it.  “Take a guess.” He returned his attention to what he had been working on at the dejarik table before the interruption.

Hera sighed, approaching him and staring down at the ‘saber he was cleaning.  He had pulled it apart, keeping it in two sections like he did whenever they were off base.  She had seen Ezra try to take his apart once in much the same way, however due to the differing design between their weapons, the former Inquisitor hadn’t been able to do so.

Swallowing, Hera finally responded.  “Well...Ezra mentioned you’ve been struggling a bit with some things.”  Kanan paused in the circular motion he had been making with the rag, but didn’t look up.  She took it as a sign to continue, albeit hesitantly. “He...said he mentioned something about solving them to you.”

Kanan was silent for a long minute.

Without warning, he stood up and left, taking the pieces of his lightsaber with him and twisting them together again as he went.

Hera allowed herself a small sigh, a brief moment of sagged shoulders, before straightening up and heading to the cockpit.


“Ezra.  Let’s go.”  The kid’s Force signature was always strong, and even stronger as Kanan left the ship.  The kid stood from the ramp and followed him down as they headed toward the perimeter of the base.  Here, he allowed Ezra to take the lead, and found himself slightly surprised when the teen didn’t take one of the sensor beacons from the border.  As Kanan made to grab one, the kid suddenly spoke up.

“Don’t.  We won’t need it.”

Kanan hesitated but took it anyway, noting the boy tense slightly afterwards.

They walked off the base and didn’t look back.


Sabine perched on the roof of the Ghost, touching up some of the marks from a close call with several TIEs shortly before they had left for Concord Dawn for the second time.  Helmet on, she was able to tune out most of the talk from below, along with the paint fumes.

Ezra and Kanan had been gone for three or more hours at this point.  She had only a vague idea of where they were headed, but Ezra had been reluctant to share details.  That was fine by her.

Snippets of a conversation from just outside the Ghost reached her ears through a break in the painting.

“...Hera, you don’t know….”

“I know...and he wouldn’t send us a transmission about this unless...it’s hard enough with the blockade….”

She paused for a moment longer.  Hera appeared to be arguing with Sato about something.

But what?

She hurriedly turned the paint gun on again when there was a lull in the conversation.  No need to let them know she was listening. Stopping the spray when it felt like enough time had passed, she strained to hear the pair again.

“It is not that I do not want to, it’s just that we cannot afford to spend resources on a mission that will not gain anything for the rebellion!  You yourself have told me several times that your father isn’t willing to work with anyone unless they’re assisting him with Ryloth.”

Hera’s father?

“Yes, I did say that, and I meant it.  But my father also isn’t the kind to forget debts owed.  He may be a politician, but he’s still family, and he won’t forget that.  And if you won’t support me in this, then that’s fine. I’ll just take my ship, my crew, and myself, and we’ll go help him.”

She turned the paint gun on again.  She had heard enough, and any more silence would be suspicious.

Sato walked away after arguing for several more minutes, and Hera headed off in another direction, likely a debriefing.  That seemed to be all she did these days. Sabine continued to paint, vaguely wondering where Zeb and Chopper were.

She heard footsteps coming toward the Ghost and glanced up, lowering the paint gun in shock as the full weight behind the sight in front of her hit her.

Kanan and Ezra were approaching, each supporting the other, though physically Kanan was the only one who appeared harmed--a gash in his arm that had torn through his sleeve seemed to be the only thing wrong with either of them.

As they reached the ramp of the ship, they paused as Ezra glanced up at her.  It still unnerved her slightly that he could do that even with his mask on.

“It’s done.”

Without another word, they entered the ship.

Chapter Text

Sabine left her cabin, walking up to the cockpit and entering quietly.  Hera glanced over her shoulder, brows knitted in worry though she could tell the woman tried to erase the expression at the sight of Sabine.

“Sabine,” she spoke in greeting, nodding to the vacant co-pilot’s seat before twisting back around to face the windscreen again.  She hesitantly took the woman’s invitation and sat, staring at the blue vortex ahead as the ship coasted easily through hyperspace.

They were quiet for several minutes, Hera double- and triple-checking systems as she cast sideways glances at Sabine.  Finally the woman cleared her throat, drawing the Mandalorian’s attention to her.

“Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?”

She shrugged.  “I mean...I don’t know.  Do you have any idea what it’ll be like on Ryloth?” she asked, changing the subject abruptly before Hera asked what she almost had.

Hera nodded.  “Enough of an idea that I’m glad they gave th- Ezra his lightsaber back and that Kanan’s out of his cabin more now.”

“And your father?” Sabine asked hesitantly.  “What’s he like?”

The Twi’lek pursed her lips, glancing over at Sabine as she turned in the pilot’s chair.  “He’s...I’m not sure how to explain it. You were on a mission the first time I came back in contact with him, right?”

She nodded.  “Yeah. Sato had Wedge and I and a couple others pick up some fighters at Reklam Station around the same time, otherwise I would’ve come.”

“Then...there’s a couple things you should know about him.  First and foremost, he’s a revolutionary. He’s trying to get freedom for Ryloth.  And he won’t stop until he does. For anything.” She hesitated before continuing.

“And...that includes us as well.”


She headed to Ezra’s cabin after talking over more logistics of the mission with Hera.  The youth was practicing katas in the middle of the room, but he paused long enough to give Sabine permission to come in along with a nod of greeting.  She climbed up to his bunk and perched there, watching as he went through forms nearly silently, the barely mumbled words nearly inaudible over the sound of the lightly humming blade.

He stopped after another three run-throughs, panting lightly as he glanced up at her.  “So?”

She raised an eyebrow.  “For being out of practice, that was pretty good.  Just don’t let Command catch you being that good.”

A small grin broke out on his face as he crossed the room to retrieve his mask from where it lay on the small table.

“If Command catches me being that good, maybe they’ll give me a promotion.”  She couldn’t help but laugh at the comment. He joined in, briefly turning back to her before finally replacing the mask.

“What about one-handed?”

He froze for barely a moment, but she still noticed.  “I...haven’t tried that yet.”

“You wanna try it now?”

He hesitated again before nodding.  “Sure.”

He didn’t bother removing the mask this time, instead simply re-igniting the blade and taking a ready stance before slowly removing his left hand from the hilt.  His grip shook slightly but he swallowed and it stilled.

There was a moment of silence.

And then Ezra threw himself into the forms.

His grip was shakier, along with his posture, but his footwork and lunges remained solid.  He stopped his katas only three minutes later, the sheen of sweat on his face now significantly more noticeable.

“It’s...been a while since I’ve done that,” he admitted, laughing shakily.

“You trained doing that?”

“Yeah.”  He shook his head, whipping the strands of hair that had grown a bit longer than the rest out of his eyes as he sheathed his blade.  “He- I had to train for everything. With everything.”

She nodded slowly  as he walked to the table and placed the sheathed ‘saber on it.  Glancing up at her, he called, “Can I come up?”

She nodded and moved to the other corner of the bunk.  “Sure.”

She was acutely aware of the fact that Ezra wasn’t completely over what had happened recently, both with Maul and on Concord Dawn.  And she knew Malachor would likely stay with him forever.

He climbed up and sat next to her on the bunk, only an inch or two of space left between them.  She relaxed as he exhaled slowly, clasping his hands in front of him.

They remained silent, simply thinking as she tried to get used to the fact that he was still willing to let her be so close to him after all that.

“So.  Ryloth.”

She raised her head, surprised he was the first one to break the silence.

“Yeah?  What about it?”

“Hera’s seeing her dad again.  Didn’t…” he trailed off, almost as if he was scared to continue.  Sabine cleared her throat before speaking.

“Go ahead.”

Ezra hesitated but continued haltingly.  “Didn’t Saxon say something about your mother being alive?”  She froze. “And your father, your brother...they died, right?”

She nodded slowly.  “Y- yeah, he did….I just don’t know if I trust him.”

He nodded in understanding but didn’t respond.  That was okay. If he wanted to be silent, she wouldn’t press him.

Sabine closed her eyes, exhaling through her nose in silence.  If Saxon was right….And her mother was alive….

A hand touched her back and her eyes flew open, but she remained still.  Ezra’s touch was hesitant, so light she was surprised she even felt it. She held her breath, unwilling to startle him.

“When...he took me….”  He stops, voice halting as he swallows and continues.  “I...It was dark and I...they always left me alone….For….”

He fell silent and she felt a pang as she looked over at him.  His head was down, his left hand on the bunk next to his leg while his right remained on her back.

“Hey.  Look at me.”  He didn’t move.  “Ezra, look at me.”  He raised his head finally, glancing blindly in her direction.  Her voice softened. “I’m here. I’m always here.” She touched his leg lightly, sucking in a breath and almost removing her hand when he nearly stiffened, but he made no comment and relaxed only seconds later.

“You’re not alone anymore,” she whispered.


They reached Ryloth a couple of hours later.

It took Hera twenty minutes to find a weak spot in the blockade and another thirty to figure out where the coordinates her father had sent her led.

The Ghost landed at the camp Hera’s father had set up.  The pilot had mentioned that there would be others with him, though she had been vague about who or how many—whether intentionally or because she simply didn’t know herself Sabine had no idea.

Ezra had put his old armor on again before they left the ship—Hera had stressed repeatedly that this was more of a war zone than most of the planets they went to—and had strapped his lightsaber to the spot on his back again.  Sabine could tell that if something set him off, simply the fact he had his ‘saber and his old armor along with the fact that they were stepping into a war zone, he would be a lot worse off than he had been in a while.

She took it upon herself to make sure that didn’t happen.

Chopper, Ezra, and Sabine exited the ship first; Hera had wanted to talk to Kanan about something and Zeb was double-checking whatever he had been working on earlier.  As they left the Ghost, Sabine glanced around.  There were several speeder bikes in close proximity to them along with a couple of tents a few more meters away.

She glanced over at Ezra as they made their way further into the camp.  “You doing okay?”

He nodded, though he didn’t look as if he was fully there either.  She bit her lip.

Shouts came from a ways away and they glanced up, Chopper beeping curiously.  A Twi’lek woman emerged from behind one of the tents and, upon spotting them, turned and shouted something in Twi’leki to someone behind her.

Sabine and Ezra exchanged glances.  She shrugged and continued into the camp warily, silently wondering where Hera was.  Wouldn’t she want to greet her fath—

Ezra whipped around without warning, calling his ‘saber to his hand in the same moment.  Sabine turned almost as quickly, drawing her WESTARs before stilling at the touch of a blaster’s barrel on the back of her neck.  Ezra’s lightsaber was shot out of his hand with a cry of pain before he could ignite it, and another blaster was leveled toward his face.

The Twi’lek in front of Ezra shifted slightly as another came behind him, also carrying a large blaster that he aimed at Ezra’s chest.  When he spoke, his voice was deep and his accent thick.

“Drop your weapons, Mandalorian, and explain what you and an Inquisitor are doing with my daughter’s ship.”