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i'll orbit your flickering star

Chapter Text

It’s clearer to the clones more than anyone upon their initial deployment that the Jedi are, as a whole, not yet ready to step into their roles as military high command. Skilled diplomats, peacemakers, and individual warriors they may be, but the disorganization of the first few months is frankly disheartening to witness.

Cody, Rex, and Wolffe are gathered around a small table at 79’s, a lucky overlap on Coruscant during yet another command shuffle. Well, Wolffe is still running with the general he’d picked up a couple weeks back; Cody and Rex are picking up new jedi for the 3rd and 2nd times, respectively.

Rex tips his ale back, draining the glass. “Honestly, for a group that’s known we were coming for a decade, you’d think they’d have sorted out their command structure ages ago. This is a mess.”

Wolffe wrinkles his nose, looking around to see that no one’s paying them close attention. “I heard a rumor that they didn’t actually know. It was just one of ‘em, acting alone, that started this whole... bit, and they only found out when another visited Kamino before we shipped out.”

Cody cuts his eyes back to the conversation, absentmindedly topping off Rex’s glass from the pitcher. “He’s my next general, the jetii from Kamino. Kenobi, right? Just got the name in this afternoon.” He sips his ale. “I’d be less concerned about their high level issues if I’d gotten any... good... generals so far but… did I tell you vod’e what happened to my last one?”

His brothers give him a small shake of the head and Cody shifts his weight forward with an exasperated sigh. “Well I’ll skip the awful battle strategy and just get to the end - we get piled up in a strip of cover with a Seppie line between us and our pickup and what does the utreekov decide to do? Says he’s gonna 'negotiate' our way out of it. So he walks out of cover with his hands out front of him like this-” Cody holds his palms out in front of his stomach, facing up - “and just gets fucking cratered within half a minute. Spooked the kriff outta the shinies, we couldn’t even pick up a body to take back.”

Rex winces. “Kriffin' hells. Was he a kid?”

“Don’t think so. Think he was just green. Or stupid.” Cody has always been a touch ruthless; it’s why Fett liked him so much.

Wolffe raises his glass to knock against his forehead, resting on his elbow. “Well if it's any consolation, Kenobi’s supposed to be good, really good. He was on Geonosis for the start and Koon says he’s been laid up in sickbay but he’s been directing a few joint ops from there. Says he’s more of a strategy guy than most of the Jedi.”

Cody just snorts skeptically. “Fingers crossed you’re right, vod.” The 212th is an attack battalion with a higher-than-average number of special-skills commandos; he just hopes the Jedi council is done placing him under negotiators. He bounces his glass off Wolffe’s and then Rex’s, quaffing it back with a silent prayer for better leadership.

Rex follows his example, draining the last of the ale and pushing himself to his feet. “Chin up, Kote, you’re bound to get a good egg one of these days. 212th’s too strong not to.”

Wolffe tips his head towards the blonde captain. “You out?”

The clone grimaces. “Yea, I’ve got a couple more briefings to go over before I can get my shebs into my bunk.”

Cody and Wolffe follow him out at a more leisurely pace. “You… hear anything else about him? General Kenobi, I mean?”

Wolffe shakes his head. “Not from Koon, sorry vod. One of the boys saw him on Kamino, though, if it really was the same jedi.”

“...and?” Cody can tell that the other clone is smirking a little.

Wolffe shrugs nonchalantly. “He’s a humanoid. Little smaller than a vod. I believe the exact words were ‘jetii would be pretty if he didn’t look like a wet lothcat.’”

“Lovely.”

***

Cody has the 212th assembled and looking clean in the hangar bay an easy 15 minutes before the general’s scheduled arrival. He stands out front, bucket tucked under an arm, at the edge of the large space they’ve left open for a gunship to land.

At three minutes til, he picks up the high-pitched sound of engines, and in place of the troop carrier he’s expecting, a sleek red-and-white fighter drops in and pivots neatly into the landing zone. Cody quirks an eyebrow. Two points to the new jetii, then, for punctuality and for being enough of a pilot to warrant his own fighter; the last couple hadn’t brought personal ships aboard.

The cockpit hisses open and a man in cream-colored tunics and worn brown boots skips lightly out onto the wing, brown robe draped over an arm and red hair falling slightly in his face. He pauses there, using the vantage point to look out over the assembled battalion.

Cody turns to the men. “212th, present arms!”

The stamp-stamp-clack! is loud enough to echo twice from the far walls.

When he turns back, the jedi has already closed half the distance between them, his face still turned to look out over the assembled men. Cody salutes as he draws up next to the clone. “Commander CC-2224 of the 212th at your service, sir. Welcome aboard.”

The general gives him a shallow little bow without breaking eye contact; his gaze is piercing and very very blue. “Obi-Wan Kenobi at yours, Commander. Do you go by a name? I can stick to the rank or designation if you’d prefer, but I expect we’ll largely be working as equals moving forward and I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.” His accent is… almost posh.

Cody blinks, keeping his face impassive. “You can call me Cody, sir.”

“Excellent, thank you, Cody.” He turns to address the men. “Hello there!” He's roughly of a height with the commander but built slighter, longer-legged, than a clone; nevertheless his voice carries easily over the hanger despite being more a pleasant tenor than a battlefield bellow. “My name is Obi-Wan Kenobi and I’m pleased to be serving as your general; I’ve heard great things about the 212th. We have a fairly long transit coming up and I look forward to getting to know you all by name. Should there be anything I can do for any of you, please don’t hesitate to come find me, and I’ll do my best to make rounds of the mess at mealtimes.” The Jedi waits for a moment as the hanger stays quiet, the men unsure how to respond. “Thank you all for your attention.”

At this he gets a bit more of a response. A few of the troopers clap their vambraces to chest in the Mandalorian salute, some whistle, and there are a few Oya!’s from the braver among them. Kenobi turns back to Cody with a quirk to his lips. “Well, we’ll work on it.”

The commander coughs. “As you say, sir. Shall I show you to your quarters? The men will bring your belongings from the freighter when it arrives.”

“Yes, very well. And if one of the pilots could get my starfighter where it needs to go?”

“Of course, sir.” Cody turns to face the room. “212th, dismissed! Departure in 4 hours!” He brings his comm up to his face as he walks towards the exit. “Oddball - stow the general’s fighter and strap it down for transit. Cody out.”

“Yessir, right away.” The pilot’s voice is barely constrained glee at the prospect of climbing into the jedi fighter.

Kenobi falls into step beside Cody as they make their way through the halls of the 212th’s command ship. The commander surreptitiously observes the man walking beside him, trying to size him up further. His footfalls are quiet but he walks with an upright posture, hands alternating between clasping behind his back and swinging loosely; he doesn’t look quite as catlike now as when he had stepped out onto his fighter’s wing. For all his grace, though, Cody thinks that he almost looks too perfect; not a hair out of place. Wolffe's vod was right about pretty. He wonders if the Jedi likes to get his hands dirty, or if he'll live on the bridge for his tenure with the 212th.

The Jedi glances sideways at him. “Have I managed to pass your muster yet, Commander?”

Not being so subtle as I’d thought, then. Cody fixes his gaze on the end of the hallway as they arrive at their destination. “I rather think I should be the one asking, General. This here is the door; you can set a passcode now if you like.” He politely turns away to face the opposite wall.

The general huffs out a short laugh as he punches in a code. “There we are. It’s underway in 4 hours, correct?”

Cody spins on his heel to face the shorter man once more. “Yessir. We have a briefing on the bridge with Admiral Yularen an hour after that. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Kenobi clicks his tongue, turning his face to the side and holding for a moment in thought. “Actually - this doesn’t have to be now, of course, but something for you to think about while we’re in transit. I’ll eventually need a company of skilled men to serve as a strike force on my more delicate or lower-personnel missions. If you could start thinking of candidates and draw up a list for me? Include yourself; you'll lead.”

Cody nods once. “Very good, sir.”

“Excellent. Thank you, Cody, that’ll be all.”

***

Their first mission together is… a learning experience, for certain. The liberation of a capital city goes quickly enough; Cody gets the sense that although Kenobi is still finding his feet as their jetii in particular, he’s generally a capable strategist and leader, or at least putting up a solid front. His initial plan for their campaign is well-thought-out and confidently stated, and he happily takes Cody’s suggestions for tweaks and additions. He’s equally happy throwing half of their planning out the window during their march through the city, following some daring bent of intuition. It falls in his favor and Cody wonders if that’s pattern or luck he’s witnessing.

The rest of the urban portion of their mission goes smoothly and then it’s time to march on the Separatist stronghold that’s been set up a few klicks out, to rid the planet of the occupying presence for good.

The terrain of this world is odd - grasslands and scattered trees, but with high spines and arches of rock protruding from the ground at uneven intervals and running away from the city. Cody supposes there was once earth between them but it’s since been eroded away. The droids have set up their command station between two such spines, with a third that starts a bit closer to the 212th’s position and protrudes into the middle of their blockade.

The clones advance as far as they dare without falling into cannon range and set up their own command, testing the droids’ shields with the long range guns and starting to pick off the scouts set up along the rocky ridges.

Cody and the General stand across from each other over the holo-command table as the two forces reach a stand-still. They can’t move closer without risking heavy losses from the extensive droid artillery, and they haven’t been able to break through the shields to let their big guns get at the droid cannons.

Cody frowns. “Well sir? We can try marching around the backside but it’s likely just as well protected and would take at least a day. Or calling in an airstrike, although we'll likely lose a couple ships and replacements are in high demand at the moment. We need a way to knock out those shield generators though, or we’re going to be holed up here for a minute. If we can do that, the rest will come easily enough.”

Kenobi frowns thoughtfully, tracing a finger along the spine of rock that juts into the center of the droid encampment. “I quite agree, Commander.”

Cody lapses into silence after him, not sure if he should keep spitballing ideas. After a minute, the Jedi suddenly straightens up and turns towards their front perimeter line. “Right, I think I can handle this one, Cody.” He strides towards where a few of their scouts are assembled and waiting orders. “Gentlemen, could I borrow a speeder please?”

Cody hurries after him. “Sir, what are you planning on doing, exactly?”

The general mounts the proffered scout speeder and turns back to Cody with a quirked eyebrow. “I’m going to go convince them to power down their shields.”

Cody swears his eyes are going to roll so kriffing far back in his skull that he’ll never see again. “General Kenobi, with all due respect, these are droids,” he grits out. “You cannot negotiate with them.”

The Jedi gives him a fey laugh, stripping off his outer cloak and handing it to Waxer, who’s standing off to the side silently watching the exchange. “Not to worry, Commander, these will be suitably aggressive negotiations for droids.”

“Sir-”

“Hold the perimeter, Cody, but have the walkers prepped and ready to move on my signal. Should be no more than a half hour.” He touches the lightsaber at his belt as if to reassure himself it’s still there, and then guns the throttle on the speeder and zips past their front line towards the droid station.

Cody wants to bury his head in his hands. “Walkers to the front and hold for orders,” he snaps into his comm. Just when I thought I was getting a semi-competent field commander… “Binoculars,” he growls, snatching them from a brother’s hand as they’re offered. He supposes if another of his jetii is going to get himself blown stars-high, he may as well do him the courtesy of watching him go out.

He trains the binoculars on the Jedi’s rapidly disappearing back and watches silently as the general approaches the center spine of rock, aware that many of the troopers are watching with him. Kenobi is staying in line with the rock formation so the droids haven’t spotted him yet, but Cody figures it’s only a matter of time. He’s already well within range of the cannons.

Instead of splitting to one side of the rocky spine, though, Kenobi parks the speeder at its base and begins to scale its ridge, moving from handhold to handhold faster than Cody’s ever seen a human climb. He gains the top of the ridge and starts sprinting along the narrow formation, leaping over gaps in the rock as he closes the last 200 meters to the shield boundary.

The scout droids must have finally spotted him because they begin to fire. In the orange glow of the viewfinder Cody sees the lightsaber ignite and then Kenobi is batting blaster charges back at the droids while still running full tilt towards the shields.

Beside him, Waxer sucks in a breath. “He’s above the level of their cannons but they’re going to get him with anti-aircraft…”

As predicted, the droids must manage to get a lock on him with an anti-aircraft gun, but as they fire he jumps forward into an impossibly high flip and the blast rocks the ridge below him. The lightsaber flickers off for an instant and he falls through the shield barrier, landing neatly back on the rock as his ‘saber blinks to life and begins twirling away blaster bolts once more.

A second later he’s reached the point of the spine jutting directly over their shield generator, and the normally impassive Cody can admit that his heart rate has picked up a couple beats as the jedi flings himself off the rocky edge and into free fall.

He lands on the lid of the generator itself, tucking his momentum into a roll, and jams his lightsaber into the thing as he slides off the edge, dragging his weapon through the machinery as he falls. The shields flicker. Kenobi hits the ground and leaps out of sight for cover, and the generator explodes behind him. 

Cody is, for perhaps the first time in his short life, speechless. For an instant. The clones erupt in cheers and he snaps to. “Walkers advance, troops follow up in v-formation on either side of the middle spine! Long guns, target those cannons! Let’s bring it home, boys!”

With the shields down they make short work of the rest of the droid encampment and fall back to their command post to call in their pick-up. One of the scouts has picked up Kenobi’s abandoned speeder and fetches the general from the middle of the battleground back to where the clones are starting to assemble around Cody, divvying up into squads for the troop transport and sorting out who needs medical.

Kenobi slides off the back of the speeder and lands neatly in front of the commander with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. The front of his cream tunics are covered in red dust from the rocks; he’s got a blaster mark on his left sleeve from a near miss, and the hair falling in his eyes is curling and lightly singed at the very ends.

Cody pops his bucket off and plunks it down on the holotable, crossing his arms, and takes a risk. “General, you might be the craziest bastard in this battalion.” The brothers milling around closest to him stiffen up, unsure if their commander is allowed to speak to a jedi that way.

Kenobi laughs and pushes his hair back out of his eyes with a dust-and-soot covered hand. “From a certain point of view, perhaps. Actually, I thought the negotiations went rather well.”