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Unintended Consequences

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It all started with an explosion rattling the ground of the marketplace, sending civilians scattering and shopping stalls careening. Obi-Wan refrained from sighing, he had just been about to get a snack, but now that dream was dashed. Satine ducked for cover and Obi-Wan stepped out into the fray, lightsaber already in his hand. Mandalore was a terrible place to be. Obi-Wan felt like he wanted to scream, this nonsense should not be happening. Maybe Satine would want to hear what he had to say.

 

“Did you ever think that maybe your life is at risk because of your ridiculously extremist ideals?” Obi-Wan shouted at Satine, blue lightsaber humming in his hands as he fended off blaster bolts being shot their way. “Maybe you’re getting death threats because you are erasing milenia of culture!”

 

Satine shot him a dirty look from behind a stone column. Her pale blonde hair was in disarray and her clothes dirty, yet the piercing glare still scared him.

 

“As your only confidant at the moment,” he blocked another shot and continued on his rant. “It is my force ordained duty to tell you that I think you are kriffing up. Big time! Like at this point I’m only protecting you because it’s the right thing to do and not because I agree with any of your policies.”

 

Satine’s angry voice carried across the gunfire. “Why are you bringing this up now?”

 

Obi-Wan wasn’t actually sure about that, his mouth wouldn’t say shut and he was speaking his mind with no stop in sight. “Great question. An even better question would be why you think being a pacifist is going to stop the war around you!”

 

“Lead by example!” She shouted back, retreating further back from the front of the fight. Obi-Wan moved with her, arm constantly swinging to stop the onslaught of blaster fire. It was strange that he hadn’t engaged anyone in hand to hand combat yet, the Mandalorains usually attacked him with fists and guns.

 

“That example is dumb. A ruler of the people should represent them and cater to their wants and needs! You are planning to force a culling of those who are only trying to protect their identities!”

 

Satine gripped his shoulder, spinning him around to look into his eyes. She gasped. “You’ve been poisoned!”

 

Obi-Wan scoffed and dragged them behind a broken down food stall. The owner looked at them with wide eyes as Obi-Wan continued to argue. “If I’d been poisoned, I think I’d notice.”

 

Satine shook her head. “No, no. This is different.”

 

He peaked around the side of the stall, looking for an exit. “How?”

 

Haat pirur !” She exclaimed. “You were given haat pirur !”

 

“And what the kark does that mean?”

 

The food stall attendee spoke up tentatively, her eyes watching them warily. “It translates to ‘Truth Drink’.”

 

Satine nodded vigorously. “It’s a poison that in high dosages kills immediately and leaves no trace in the victim’s system.”

 

The woman joined in on Satine’s explanation. “In low dosages it causes the drinker to speak only the truth until it wears off.”

 

Obi-Wan’s mind flitted back to the tea he’d chugged. Satine hadn’t wanted it, so he had downed it in one go before they’d gotten into this shuffle. It had a funny aftertaste if he was remembering correctly. “Someone tried to poison you … ”

 

Satine blew a stray lock of hair out of her face. “Lucky for me, I’ve got a Jedi protector with a scary metabolism.”

 

“So he won’t die?” The woman whose cover they were sharing asked.

 

Obi-Wan shook his head and Satine answered for him. “Something about the force in his body breaking down harmful substances at an accelerated rate.”

 

“Oh.” She breathed out.

 

“It’s helpful.” Satine responded. “It also means someone used a lot of poison if it’s affecting Obi-Wan this way.”

 

There was what he was looking for. The sound of boots was getting closer, but the ones hunting them were searching the citizens first. The shopping court had been a bad place to try and hide. Obi-Wan felt guilty about the civilians who were wounded in the attack meant for Satine. “It was nice crouching with you,” Obi-Wan offered to the woman before grabbing Satine’s hand. “But we’ve got to go.”

 

They ducked around other stalls that had been broken when the gunfire had started, using them for cover and scaring the ones who were already using it for refuge. The entrance to the sewer sat conspicuously a mere body length away from their latest shield.

 

“Really?” Satine hissed.

 

“Would you rather die?” Obi-Wan whispered back, using the force to pull away the cover of the manhole. He slid over and started to lower himself in. Obi-Wan judged the distance down before letting himself drop. Satine followed right after, landing on him with an “Umph!”

 

“Here we go.” Obi-Wan said quietly, using the force to put the metal plate back into place. The sewers descended into darkness once more, Obi-Wan lit his lightsaber to use as a light source. Satine started to navigate the smelly tunnels, leading them on in silence. They had very little time, the Mandalorians would be following them shortly.



-

 

Obi-Wan stepped out of the sonic shower, feeling cleaner than he had in days. Camping in the sewers was something he never wanted to suffer through again. It had taken too long for Satine and him to steal a speeder and make their way to the next town over. Luckily, even in their smelly and very dirty state, one of the inns had let them room with only a few strange looks.

 

They’d been on the run for five month-cycles now, having lost Obi-Wan’s Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, almost three month-cycles ago. The entire trip to protect Satine while her advisors tried to secure for her the position of Mand’alor was only supposed to last a total of two month-cycles.

 

“The sonic is open!” Obi-Wan called to Satine as he finished dawning his most recent disguise. Jedi robes were no longer an option for his attire, Obi-Wan had been wearing cheap Mandalorian style clothes for almost the entire time they’d been travelling together. The only real issue was his padawan braid which Satine meticulously braided into the base of his skull. He’d had to ditch his nerf tail hairstyle a month back when he was recognized solely on that basis.

 

Satine had skills with hair dressing and had given him the customary Mandalorian crop. A short style best for wearing helmets with. Obi-Wan had no intention of wearing armor though, the force muffling beskar was not a metal he’d want to put over his head.

 

Obi-Wan shuffled out of the ‘fresher, bumping into Satine on the way out. She held out a paper menu and pointed to one of the dishes. “Could you go get us some late-meal?”

 

He accepted the menu and scanned for the price. They could afford this if Obi-Wan ordered less tea for the next few day-cycles. Considering Satine had been the one to lead them through and out of the sewer system without getting caught, less tea was an easy trade off. “I’ll be back by the time that you are done.”

 

Obi-Wan exited the room, securing the door on the way out. The force was calm, hopefully that meant no one was going to try and murder the person he was sworn to protect. That’d make him look bad.

 

The restaurant and bar located under the inn was dimly lit, a warm atmosphere crowding the homey rooms. There was a quiet buzzing of conversations, patrons to the restaurant calm and peaceful while eating their food. Obi-Wan wandered over to the bar where he could order to-go. The bartender meandered over and took his order. Obi-Wan just pointed to whatever Satine had chosen, knowing if he said the word out loud that he would give himself away as a foreigner to more than just the bartender. “Two of those please.”

 

“That will be coming right up.” The twi’lek said, gesturing for Obi-Wan to take a seat. He pulled out the closet chair and accepted the complimentary water glass that was pushed towards him.

 

“Are you new?” Asked a voice to his immediate right.

 

Obi-Wan turned to see a boy only a standard year younger than him in orange plated armor. “Yes.”

 

The boy with slightly curled black hair leaned back, amber eyes watching Obi-Wan curiously. “How are you liking Manda’yaim ?”

 

Obi-Wan’s eyes caught on a scar that ran down the side of his face, curling around his temple. “Well enough. The climate is nice.”

 

The boy snorted. “The only thing you can find to complement is the climate? That makes us seem bad.”

 

Obi-Wan shrugged apologetically. “My circumstances for this visit aren’t the best.”

 

“That’s unfortunate.”

 

“It is.”

 

They sat in silence for a few moments before the boy startled Obi-Wan by turning to stare at him abruptly. “Hey, you might want to cover your face.”

 

Obi-Wan stiffened, hand instinctively reaching towards the lightsaber hidden in the holster strapped to his thigh. “What do you know?”

 

The boy’s gaze drifted to a holo projector being set up by some of the waiters over by the far wall. The customers had started to take notice, a shush slowly falling over the crowd. This did not seem to be a common occurrence.

 

“Take this, you’ll need it.” A shawl was dropped over his shoulders, the soft fabric coming to cover part of his face. “I’m Cody.” The name was obviously given as a way to gain trust. Obi-Wan only nodded, he was still wary of the stranger and his advice.

 

“Here you are.” The twi’lek had returned with a paper bag and Obi-Wan slid over the credits he owed them. “Feel free to stay, there is news straight from the capital.”

 

Obi-Wan turned to look at the machine that had just finished being set up. The other patrons of the restaurant had all turned their attention to the projection. Obi-Wan clasped the shawl closer around him, using the force to send a suggestion in the area around him. He wasn’t sure if it would work, but hopefully no one would have a clear memory of his passing.

 

The holo sprang to life, a shaky video being spoken over by a Holo Net announcer droid. ‘Here we have footage submitted by one of the civilians caught in the most recent attack.’

 

There was the explosion that had tipped Obi-Wan off to the fact they’d been found. A vendor selling trinkets shrieked as they dove to the ground, narrowly avoiding oncoming debris. Obi-Wan recognized the scene, whomever had filmed this had been close to where Satine had been. The camera steadied as Mandalorians began to descend from the sky on jetpacks, blasters aimed and loaded.

 

A collective gasp was heard around the restaurant when on the projection, a figure emerged to stand front and center, lightsaber ignited. Obi-Wan fought a shudder. It was him.

 

The footage showed the fight, mostly just Obi-Wan refracting shots back at the ones doing the shooting, none of the commandos had yet to land. The video feed switched to original volume, heavy breathing coming from the one filming.

 

‘Did you ever think that maybe your life is at risk because of your ridiculously extremist ideals? Maybe you’re getting death threats because you are erasing milenia of culture!’ Obi-Wan’s own voice rang in his ears. He was doing the unthinkable, questioning the validity of Satine’s claim to the throne. He wished to disappear on the spot.

 

Te jetti cabur ashnar tionire. ” One of the patrons at the bar marvelled. He was shushed immediately.

 

‘As your only confidant at the moment, it is my force ordained duty to tell you that I think you are kriffing up. Big time! Like at this point I’m only protecting you because it’s the right thing to do and not because I agree with any of your policies.’ The Obi-Wan in the holo ducked a blaster shot before throwing the shooter a rude hand gesture. He had no memory of doing that.

 

Satine appeared on frame, thin face looking exceptionally angry. ‘Why are you bringing this up now?’

 

Obi-Wan faltered. ‘Great question. An even better question would be why you think being a pacifist is going to stop the war around you!’

 

This was answered with disbelieving laughter from the table behind him. He could feel the glee coloring the force. This was terrible, Satine would likely abandon her pacifist ways just to kill him in retaliation.

 

The two of them started to get closer to the camera, their banter becoming a lot more clear over the rain of blaster fire. ‘Lead by example!’

 

Obi-Wan’s look of disdain was caught clearly by the video. ‘That example is dumb. A ruler of the people should represent them and cater to their wants and needs! You are planning to force a culling of those who are only trying to protect their identities!’

 

They were almost to the source of the video when Satine exclaimed. ‘You’ve been poisoned!’

 

Obi-Wan scoffed, the video gosteled as the two of them flopped behind the overturned food stall. ‘If I’d been poisoned, I think I’d notice.’

 

Satine shook her head. ‘No, no. This is different.’

 

The video zoomed in on a breathless Satine. Obi-Wan’s voice carried over. ‘How?’

 

‘Haat pirur!’You were given haat pirur!

 

Obi-Wan’s face was back in frame looking irritated. ‘And what the kark does that mean?’

 

The one who took the video spoke up. ‘It translates to ‘Truth Drink’.’

 

Satine gave the camera a thankful smile. ‘It’s a poison that in high dosages kills immediately and leaves no trace in the victim’s system.’ 

 

‘In low dosages it causes the drinker to speak only the truth until it wears off.’ The camera angle readjusted to Obi-Wan as the food vendor added onto the explanation.

 

Obi-Wan’s face went slack and guilt flashed in his eyes. ‘Someone tried to poison you … ‘

 

Satine teased. ‘Lucky for me, I’ve got a Jedi protector with a scary metabolism.’

 

‘So he won’t die?’

 

‘Something about the force in his body breaking down harmful substances at an accelerated rate.’

 

‘Oh.’

 

Satine looked at Obi-Wan with concern. ‘It’s helpful. It also means someone used a lot of poison if it’s affecting Obi-Wan this way.’

 

Obi-Wan’s face turned to the camera from where he had been scouting. ‘It was nice crouching with you, but we’ve got to go.’ The two of them dashed off.

 

Voices started to murmur around him and Obi-Wan suddenly felt a rush of gratitude towards Cody and the shawl that was obscuring his very recognizable face.

 

The droid appeared back on the holo. ‘After this footage emerged, the Haat Mando’ade and Kyr’tsad have agreed to begin peaceful negotiations with Satine Kryze and her council of advisors. Kry’tsad has sent forth a truce, they will no longer try and kill the Duchess so that the negotiations may proceed. This is the biggest development in the fight for the throne yet. More updates will come soon.’

 

Obi-Wan sighed in relief as the patrons around him broke into uproarious conversations. He was relieved, Satine was safe, and Obi-Wan was free to find his Master and return to the Jedi Temple. Cody’s hand found his arm and pulled them off in the direction of the stairs that led up to the inn.

 

“Thank you.” Obi-Wan tried to return the shawl to Cody who just shook his head.

 

“Keep it. It’s not mine.” Cody looked at Obi-Wan questioningly. “You are him, are you not?”

 

Obi-Wan tried to keep his expression neutral. “Who?”

 

“The Jetti, Obi-Wan.”

 

“I am.” Obi-Wan said quietly.

 

Cody breathed out a relieved sigh. “You’ve done me a great service.” He pressed something cool into Obi-Wan’s hand, a comm. “If you need me, feel free to comm.”

 

Obi-Wan’s eyebrows raised in surprise. This was quite a gift. The rather advanced comm could find him his Master along with getting contact to Satine's people. “Thank you again.”

 

The words were not met with any reception, Cody had already slipped away back into the restaurant. Obi-Wan shook off the surprise and started his way up the stairs. Satine would be getting good news along with her dinner.



Chapter Text

Obi-Wan climbed the stairs two steps at a time, heart pounding rapidly in his ears. There was so much to unpack with Satine. He jostled the bag of food as he tried to unlock the door, identification card missing the scanner a few times before he got control of his shaky hands. The door slid open, revealing a newly cleaned Satine hanging their washed clothes up to dry in front of the heating unit.

 

“Hello.” She greeted, head turning to look at him over her shoulder. Obi-Wan just stood in the doorway contemplating the news he had to bring. “Obi-Wan?” Satine’s concerned voice snapped him out of his stupor along with the damp shirt she launched at his face.

 

He caught the shirt and tossed it back. “I’ve got the food.” Obi-Wan moved to the table in the corner of the room, unloading the bag and setting up for late-meal.

 

“What’s wrong?” Satine asked suspiciously. They’d been travelling together for five month-cycles and had well since adjusted to each other’s ways of expression. Satine had obviously noticed that something was up, she was rather adept at reading Obi-Wan.

 

“There’s good news and there’s bad news.”

 

She sighed and took a seat in front of her food. “Please don’t tell me we need to run away again.”

 

Obi-Wan joined her at the small table. “Actually the opposite. We need to return you to the capital.”

 

Satine raised a slim eyebrow, utensil hovering over her steaming plate. “Are you sure?”

 

He nodded. “You eat, I’ll talk.”

 

“Can do.”

 

Obi-Wan took in a deep breath. “So our last fight, the one in the marketplace,” Satine nodded. “Well, it turns out someone took a holo video of it.”

 

Her face turned pale. “Oh no.”

 

“It’s not that bad, the True Mandalorians and Death Watch have agreed to negotiations. Peaceful ones and everything. Death Watch has even put a hold on trying to kill you.”

 

Color started to return to Satine’s face. “That’s … better.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded enthusiastically. “And I got a comm.”

 

“Is it bugged?”

 

“I don’t think so.” Any ‘help’ that they’d received in the past usually was bad. There had been the exploding speeder, the shelter and a meal that ended at gunpoint, the bugged gifts, and Obi-Wan’s personal favorite, the guide who led them into an unstable cave system. The last one had actually been fun, Satine hadn’t liked the creatures they’d found as much as he did. This comm though, this felt like the only true act that had been done with good intentions and no wrongdoing. Cody seemed honest enough.

 

“It better not be. I don’t want to repeat that again.” Satine had finished half of her meal already while Obi-Wan had yet to start. The comm certainly had caught his attention if he hadn’t already inhaled the first warm meal in days. He pulled it out of his pocket, passing in over to Satine.

 

“Call your people.” He began to eat while Satine looked it over curiously. The breaded meat and vegetable side was practically the best thing he’d ever tasted even as simple as it was. The Mandalorians sure knew how to cook.

 

“This is a newer version. Long range, booster signal, expensive. Where’d you get it?”

 

Obi-Wan swallowed before speaking. “Cody.”

 

Satine’s head snapped up. “Who?”

 

“Guy at the bar. He recognized me even before the Holo News announcement.”

 

Satine’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at the device resting on her palm. “That’s …”

 

“Dubious, strange, mysterious, perhaps even a little worrisome?” He offered.

 

“All of them.”

 

“I trust it.”

 

Obi-Wan watched as Satine tossed the comm back and forth between her hands. “What does the force say?”

 

Obi-Wan resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the mention of the force, it had been frustratingly silent for almost a month-cycle now. How was he supposed to be a good Jedi if the force liked to leave him in the dark. He’d still had ‘bad feelings’ every so often, but they were few and far inbetween. “Nothing.”

 

“It’s still distant?” Satine was surprisingly understanding for a non force-sensitive, always supporting anything he’d felt or seen through the force.

 

“Aggravatingly so.”

 

She frowned apologetically. “I’m sorry about that.”

 

Obi-Wan shrugged and turned the attention back to the device in her hands. “Call them, I’m sure they’re worried.”

 

Satine pushed her plate forward, making room to rest her elbows on the table while she began to play with the comm’s settings. “Let’s see here … ”

 

Obi-Wan continued to snarf down his food, reaching into the bag to retrieve the complimentary dessert, a sweet bread. Never had anything tasted this good. And nothing smelled like waste! Anything that didn’t have to do with the sewer was plus in his book.

 

“Here we go.” Satine announced, taking in a shaky breath before activating the device. Obi-Wan listened to the measured ringing before someone picked up the line.

 

“Who is this?” It was asked gruffly by an elderly sounding man.

 

“Satine Kryze.”

 

“Duchess?” The voice turned bewildered.

 

“Yes, I heard the news.”

 

There was a shuffling and a different voice came onto the comm. “Satine? Is it really you?”

 

Satine smiled. “Hello Bo-Katan.” Ah, so it was the elusive sister.

 

“Thank goodness you’re alright.” She breathed out with a laugh.

 

“Excuse me!” The original answer-er returned. “Duchess, when can we expect your arrival?”

 

Satine turned to look at Obi-Wan who mentally started to plan out the schedule. They’d need a ship and to find Master Jinn. Other than that, as soon as possible. “We need transportation.”

 

“Who is this?” The same question from earlier was repeated, just with less animosity in the tone.

 

“Obi-Wan and I need a ship.” Satine redirected, this man sounded like he was about to start an interrogation.

 

There was more shuffling in the background. “How much do you need?” This new person was neither Bo-Katan nor the original man who answered."

 

“A few thousand credits.”

 

“Only a few thousand?” The shock was evident. It seemed to be hard to comprehend that Satine had given up her high class ways early on in the adventure. They’d had their fair share of less than standard for the Duchess. Sleeping in trees and eating trash had been the least of their worries at the time.

 

“Yes.”

 

“It will be transferred momentarily.” The response sounded forced, someone had to resign themselves to the idea of Satine’s lowered standards quickly.

 

“Thank you. We will contact you soon.” Satine flicked the comm off to Obi-Wan before pitching forward into her hands, palms hitting her forehead with a thud.

 

“Everything alright there?”

 

“This is a mess.”

 

Obi-Wan hummed in agreement, reaching to grab the comm. He struggled to recall Qui-Gon’s comm number, typing and deleting a great many times.

 

“Jinn here.” Qui-Gon’s smooth voice answered.

 

Obi-Wan sighed in relief, he’d gotten it right. “Hello, Master.”

 

“Obi-Wan! It’s nice to be in contact again, my padawan.” Obi-Wan winced. He hadn’t heard from Qui-Gon in three month-cycles. The last time he’d seen his Master was when they’d been running through the countryside. Qui-Gon had gone off to investigate intruders to their little clearing when Satine and him had been ambushed. He wasn’t exactly sure what happened that night except for the fact he’d woken up at dawn with Satine dragging his limp body to an abandoned farm house far far away from where they’d last been. She didn’t speak about what had happened. The only clue Obi-Wan had was the smell of live stock that’d permeated from them both for days.

 

“Sorry about that.”

 

“What is new?” Qui-Gon sounded relatively unbothered, but Obi-Wan knew there were frayed nerves under the calm tone.

 

“Satine is safe. The attacks against her life have been called off. We will be returning to the capital within the next two day-cycles.”

 

“I will meet you there.” Qui-Gon promised.

 

“Master-” Obi-Wan tried to communicate the feeling of unease that had settled over him along with the months they’d been separated.

 

“We can talk when you arrive. Besides, I’m sure you’re dying to return to Coruscant.”

 

Obi-Wan huffed out a laugh. “You have no idea.”

 

“I will see you soon, padawan. May the force be with you.”

 

“And with you, Master.” Obi-Wan heard the telltale cut off of the call from the other end. He passed the comm back to Satine who had finished off her dessert along with the rest of his while he’d been talking.

 

“Great. Do we find a ship now or later?”

 

Obi-Wan looked out the window, seeing that twilight had descended over the town. “Your choice. Sleep here or get back to your own bed faster?”

 

That was an easy choice for her, Satine stood up in an instant. “Pack up, we have a ship to barter for.”




-




Obi-Wan winced as the ship came to a screeching halt, practically dropping into the landing rather than touching down in the orderly fashion he’d hoped for. Satine tapped the counsel and let out a yelp when sparks fizzled out of the controls. Yeah, choosing this ship had been a bad idea. Too bad it had been the only one available in the time frame they’d had.

 

“Should it be making those noises?” Satine asked nervously, the ship sounded like it should’ve been scrapped for parts ages ago.

 

“No.” Obi-Wan said cheerily, listening as the engine shut off with a long groan. “This thing will never be flying again.”

 

“It almost didn’t.” Satine reminded him. They’d almost fallen out of the sky a great many times, hopes, manic prayers to random deities, tape, and some force usage had been the only thing holding the rust bucket together.

 

“We’re here.”

 

She nodded, the weight of the situation finally settling on both of them. “We’re here.”

 

Obi-Wan sat contemplating. The mission was completed and fulfilled. He’d kept Satine alive and not lost any limbs while doing it, the only thing he’d lost was his dignity although he wasn’t sure that counted.

 

Suddenly Satine stood up, her seat squeaking at the movement. “We should get off before it explodes.”

 

Obi-Wan jumped up too. “Good idea.”

 

They scrambled to get off of the cramped ship, a piece of the metal siding almost hitting Obi-Wan in the head with a hiss as steam build up escaped from the tangled wiring. The ship was a ticking time bomb. Satine muttered as she manually opened the ramp. “I feel bad for the valet.”

 

When the ramp finally lowered on its rusty hinges, Obi-Wan lunged out with Satine, the both of them looking nervously at the ship behind them. The noises it was making were loud enough to hear outside of the ship.

 

“How big is the blast zone going to be?” He joked.

 

Satine looked thoughtful for a second. “Run.”

 

He grabbed a hold of the two small bags that held all of their possessions and darted after Satine as she ran away from the ship. Not a moment later than the both of them dropped to the ground at Satine’s well judged ‘safe distance’ did the ship catch fire, flames consuming the hull.

 

“I’d say we got our money’s worth. Don’t you agree?”

 

Satine nodded seriously. “The monetary benefits are tremendous.”

 

They continued to stare at the flaming ship, Obi-Wan saying a mocking eulogy. “Here lies a bad decision that crashed and burned as it was supposed to.”

 

“Forever remembered, never forgotten.” Satine finished off with the same level of solemness as Obi-Wan.

 

The moment was disturbed by the clearing of a throat. Obi-Wan whipped around to see a group that had obviously gathered to see their arrival. “Duchess Kryze … olarom bah aloriya .”

 

Satine nodded her head in a bow and Obi-Wan tried not to draw attention to himself. As the tall, pale, blonde haired man greeted Satine. He was sure this was the man who first answered the comm. “Hello Almec.”

 

“It is good to have you back.” This was said hesitantly, eyes still on the burning ship. Obi-Wan tried to subdue it with the force only for the flames to spike. He hid a wince while Almec’s eyes widened.

 

“It’s good to be back.” Satine nodded to the rest of the group, likely a good chunk of her New Mandalorians.

 

“Is this ... ?” Almec started warily, eyes training on Obi-Wan.

 

He opened his mouth to respond before a tugging on the force bond he shared with his Master caught his attention. Qui-Gon stood in the shadow of a tall pillar, blending in rather well. Satine caught on and interrupted. “Almec, might you take me inside? I would appreciate a meal that hasn’t been freeze dried.”

 

The older man nodded right away, ushering Satine and her disciples towards the looming building. Obi-Wan slipped off after handing Satine her bag, he dashed to where his Master lay in wait.

 

“Master!”

 

Qui-Gon gave him a small smile. “Shall we leave? Our job here is done.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded emphatically. He could not wait to return to the Temple. Qui-Gon just turned and led Obi-Wan into the next landing pad over, their original ship with new parts sat waiting. The many runs in they had before losing the ship altogether had dented it up pretty bad. Obi-Wan was just glad it had been repaired although it desperately needed a paint job. Qui-Gon started up the loading ramp when Obi-Wan’s eyes caught on a figure looming at the edge of the platform.

 

“One moment Master!” He called before heading off to investigate.

 

Cody stood leaning against the wall looking exactly the same as Obi-Wan had last seen him.

 

“Thank you.” Obi-Wan reached into his bag and drew out the shawl. Cody accepted it without a word, a small smile decorating his lips. “Would you like the comm back?”

 

Cody shook his head. “No, it’s fine. Besides, I want some contact.”

 

Obi-Wan snorted. “A comm buddy?” Sending messages back and forth with Cody didn’t seem too bad.

 

He shrugged. “A friend.”

 

“I’d like that.” Obi-Wan smiled. That was one good thing to come out of this trip. “I’ll comm you soon.”

 

“Sounds like a deal.”

 

“Cody! Where are you, Cody!” His name was being called by someone off in the distance. Obi-Wan looked curiously in the direction of the voice.

 

“My brother.” Cody sighed before pushing himself off the wall. “You’d better get going.”

 

Obi-Wan gave a salute and jogged back to the now started ship. Qui-Gon poked at him questioningly through the force and he responded with questions of his own. They’d been separated so long and Obi-Wan was exceptionally curious to compare notes.

 

His attention turned back to Cody who was walking towards his brother. Obi-Wan focused on the brother, tall and muscled with curly black hair and an incredible jaw line. Kriff, he was hot. Qui-Gon poked the training bond again, demanding Obi-Wan finish getting on the ship. He felt himself flush as he hurried inside, Cody’s incredibly good looking brother should not have distracted him. He was a senior padawan and should be in complete control of his feelings.

 

Obi-Wan shook the incident off as the ship began to take off, the planet shrinking in size until it was just a marble floating in space. They jumped to hyperspace and Qui-Gon finally exited the cockpit dramatically.

 

“Padawan, we have much to discuss.”




Chapter Text

 

 

Cody refrained from rolling his eyes as Jango rushed towards him. It was just like his ori’vod to arrive at an inconvenient time. Obi-Wan’s hodgepodge of a ship had begun to ascend, Jango shouting to be heard over the engines.

 

He was gesturing wildly. “ Meg gar olar? Me’bana?

 

Cody motioned at the ship shirking into the distance. “ Sirbu ret'urcye mhi.

 

Bah tion’ad?

 

Cody shrugged and threw Jango’s recently returned shawl at his confused face. “ Te jettise.

 

Jango caught the shawl with ease, his features contorting into a deeper confusion quickly followed by shock. “ Gar di’kut!

 

“Rude!” Cody ducked past Jango who grabbed him, holding him still in a headlock.

 

“They weren’t supposed to leave!”

 

Cody tried to wiggle his way out. “Too bad.” The wiggling wasn’t working, so he stomped on Jango’s food. His ori’vod released him in surprise and Cody took the opportunity to wrap the shawl around Jango’s face, effectively blinding him.

 

Jango let out a muffled shout, tearing the fabric from his face and lunging for Cody in retaliation. Cody jumped just out of his reach. “No thanks.”

 

Jango snorted, his eyes catching suddenly on the shawl, bringing it back up to his nose to sniff hesitantly. “What? Who’d you give this to?”

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Cody muttered under his breath as he started to head back towards the rest of the building.

 

“Yes actually. You stole my shawl three day-cycles ago claiming it had gone to a good cause.”

 

“It did.” Cody assured. “And the cause was kind enough to return it. Does it smell nice?”

 

Jango’s nose scrunched at the teasing question. “It smells clean?”

 

“Are you asking me?”

 

Jango swiped at Cody’s head. “No. Also, you’re in big trouble.”

 

He frowned. “Whatever did I do?”

 

“You let the prophesied one leave.”

 

Cody doubled over laughing at that. “ Jate solus. ” Tears were starting to leak from the corners of his eyes at the thought of Obi-Wan being the subject of some old Mando’ad prophecy. That was too much for him.

 

Jango’s eyes turned steely. “ Nayc nuhun.

 

Haat o'r an nuhune.

 

They were interrupted by their buir . Jaster hobbled over, his weight leaning heavily against the cane that had been by his side since Galidraan. Years back, when Cody had still been an ad, Kyr'tsad had attacked the farm they had lived with their biological buire . Cody didn’t remember much from that day, only the fire and the screams. Shouts of pain and dense smoke rising from his childhood home would haunt his dreams occasionally. Jaster, alor be te Haat Mando’ade, had taken them both in and named Jango his successor.

 

The Haat Mando’ade were the largest political faction of Manda’yaim , Jaster had perfectly adapted the Resol’nare to fit the modern climate and his reformist ideals. The Supercommando Codex was widely accepted, the majority of the Mando’ade loyal to Jaster and the Haat Mando’ade. The Kyr’tsad and New Mandalorians were a completely different story. The Kyr’tsad, led by Tor Vizsla until his untimely demise at Jango’s vengeful hand, his son Pre Vizsla picking up the mantle in succession, were a group that had split off from the Haat Mando’ade .

 

The radical splinter group had quickly become enemies, seeking honor at any cost, whether it be the blood of innocents or criminals. They wished to return Manda’yaim to its former ‘glory’, using the ancient ancestors who had been galactic crusaders as their ruthless template. The mentality they carried was that of raiders, savage in all ways, all the time. The Haat Mando’ade had to step in several times to stop the terrorist attacks the Kyr’tsad had planned.

 

That’s where Galidraan came in. 

 

Cody remembered that day vividly. It had been just under six year-cycles ago, he had been approaching his Verd’goten while Jando had already been declared an adult. They had descended on the city under suspicions of the Governor’s connection to Kyr’tsad. That assumption had been correct and if not for the early interference, they likely would’ve been wiped out.

 

Cody remembered the Governor making contact with the Jettise under the claim that the Haat Mando’ade were murdering civilians for profit. Jaster intervened, and Kyr’tsad launched an attack that devastated the Governor's house and surrounding property. Cody had been there, jetpack flaring and guns ablazing when Jaster’s leg had been taken out by a well aimed grenade. Cody had left the fight, dragging his wounded buir away from the fight. Had he not intervened, his buir would’ve lost more than his leg. The pain the prosthetic caused him was worth Jaster’s continued life.

 

The Battle of Galidraan had made a significant blow to both the Haat Mando’ade and Kyr’tsad . Jango killed Tor Vizsla with his bare hands, prompting Jaster to promote him to the figurehead of the Haat Mando’ade . Pre Vizsla had stepped into his buir ’s shoes, his hatred of Jango solidified clear and true.

 

In the chaos, Clan Kryze had risen. Duke Adonai Kryze had left behind his riddur and two ade when he died as a casualty in the ongoing war between the Haat Mando’ade and Kyr’tsad . His daughter, Duchess Satine Kryze had been convinced it was her Manda ordained duty to save the Mando’ade from themselves. She rallied the people who had followed her buir and established the New Mandalorians.

 

The New Mandalorians knew what they were doing when they established doomed cities, biome bubbles, in the harsh and unforgiving landscape of barren wastes. The barren wastes were dead zones, deserts created by bombings that left the drop zones inhospitable. There was only one of these cities so far, another was being constructed.

 

Cody hated what the New Mandalorians were doing. By turning their back on the traditions of the past, the pacifistic counterculture movement was degrading Manda’yaim and her people as a whole. The Haat Mando’ade and Kyr’tsad were able to agree on one thing, Kryze and her people were faithless and dar’manda.

 

Kryze was born on Kalevala, one of the planets on the edges of the Mandalorian sector. The planet was a toxic desertscape, a striking parallel to the biome bubbles that she was erecting on Manda’yaim . Many of the New Mandalorian had actually come from Kalevala, arriving in troves to support their Duchess. Cody took no issue with the newcomers until he realized they were only arriving to try and force him and his aliit out of existence.

 

It had all come to a head when Kryze declared herself Mand’alor , the position was most recognized by being Jango’s. For someone who was trying to do away with the culture, she was certainly trying to twist it to fit her agenda.

 

Kyr’tsad had turned their deadly attention to the New Mandalorians, a death sentence had been put over Kryze’s pale head within an instant. Cody, along with the Haat Mando’ade had taken a different approach to do away with the Duchess. They occupied the Aloriya , trying to pressure her fledgling government into failing. It had been working fabulously, Cody was sure another few month-cycles and they would have relented to staying in their biome bubble city without interfering with the rest of Manda’yaim .

 

Jango was the rightful Mand’alor and his only opposition was Pre Vizsla, his threats of violence kept his supporters where they were, and Satine Kryze, her group of likeminded and all in similar appearance supporters pushing against everything Cody held dear.

 

Kryze had gone on the run, calling in two Jettise to act as guards. The tall one with long hair and calm disposition had been lost from the other one. He had evaded capture for quite a while, finally deciding to return to Aloriya by his own volition. The New Mandalorians had used him as a bodyguard and a terrible scare tactic. The few Kyr’tsad who agreed to be peaceful and keep watch over the Haat Mando’ade and the New Mandalorians had scoffed at the man. That was until he had almost decapitated one of them who was moving to stab him for shits and giggles.

 

One good thing had come from close contact with the Kyr’tsad . Jaster had gone investigating, finding Arla deep in the shadows of the terrorist group. Arla was the ori’vod Cody had almost completely forgotten of due to the fact he hadn’t seen or heard of her since he had just learned to talk. She’d been taken by Kyr’tsad on the fateful day that Jaster had become their buir. Jaster had found her in a horrible state, mental and physical exhaustion hung heavily in the air around her. The torture and conditioning she’d been put through was slowly being undone, Jango and Cody constantly visiting to check on their ori’vod.

 

When the footage arrived of Obi-Wan and his rant to Satine, the progress halted and morphed into something completely different. Vizsla had seen it and arrived at Aloriya quickly, agreeing to peaceful negotiations. Obi-Wan’s argument against Satine had struck a chord among the Mando’ade as a whole.

 

Cody had seen Jango re-watching the holo video for hours on end, his gaze intense and his attention never shifting. 

 

The holo video had been given to the Holo Net of the Mandalorian sector, the announcement creating shockwaves. New Mandalorians’ allegiances were switching, and Vizsla had lost some of his control over Kyr’tsad .

 

Cody had decided to find the Jetti before he got too far roped into Mando’ad politics. Tracking the two of them had been hard, it was just luck that found Cody watching the sewers when the pair of them crawled out in disgust. Obi-Wan had been polite at the epar'yaim , accepting his help with hesitation but never drawing attention to them. They’d seen the news together, Cody watching as Obi-Wan’s face got paler and paler under the shadow of Jango’s stolen shawl.

 

Cody had trusted his instincts and given Obi-Wan a comm. He liked the jetti and had an unexplainable urge to be his friend. It had been no surprise that as he flew his me’sen back to Aloriya , a message had come in saying the Duchess was also on her way.

 

Cody had watched the health hazard of a me’sen landed and had set off for where the jettise were no doubt headed next. He’d seen the older one lurking, waiting for his apprentice’s return, the two of them would be leaving as quick as possible. Cody kept this knowledge to himself, the only one to see Obi-Wan off. His comm buddy had then left in a hurry and Cody had been confronted by his vod.

 

Now here he stood with an aggravated Jango and their tired buir.

 

“What are the two of you doing?” Jaster asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“The jettise have left.”

 

Jaster’s face went blank with shock. “Truly?”

 

Jango glared at Cody. “ Elek.

 

Cody was unimpressed with his anger. “What would you have wanted me to do?”

 

Jango ran a hand through his hair in agitation. Usually he was good about controlling the emotions he let others see. This display was strange to say the least. “ Ni nayce kar’tayl .”

 

“Well I wasn’t going to detain anyone based on a hunch over an ancient prophecy.”

 

Their buir held out his hand in a gesture for time out. “Start again. Cody, you let the prophesied one leave?”

 

“It’s not like I could've stopped him. They both were rather determined to leave. I don’t like he likes Manda’yaim. ” Jango opened his mouth in protest, but Cody kept on going. “This prophecy, why do you even think it applies to the jetti ?”

 

“Shall we go look at the scripture?” His buir asked patiently. “It’s already under study since the timetable fell into place.”

 

Cody sighed. There was no getting out of this one, besides, he wanted to see what this revered prophecy was all about. “Let’s go.”

 

Jango looked smug so Cody launched a kick to the backside of his knees. The effort was not wasted even though the hit didn’t land, Jango ducked to the side and Cody was able to the shawl he’d been clutching. “Give it back.” He hissed, reaching over to where Cody was playing keep away.

 

Ade! ” Their buir reprimanded, hitting the floor with his cane in emphasis. “Behave!”

 

Jango tugged on the shawl and Cody let it go, falling into silence as they followed their buir into the yaim’alor. Jaster led them past the New Mandalorian congregation, Duchess Kryze being attended to by her followers, and past Pre Vizsla who watched them with suspicious eyes. They made their way into the naritir be kar’tayl , Jaster guiding them to where the tay'haai was reading over a datapad with vigor.

 

“Dema!” Jaster called, the twi’lek’s lekkus whipping around as she turned to face them, the datapad clattering onto the table.

 

“You startled me, alor.

 

Jaster smiled apologetically. “I hope this isn’t too much of a disturbance, but we were hoping to look over the prophecy. It seems one of us needs a lesson.” Jaster’s eyes met Cody’s, daring him to disrespect the prophecy.

 

Dema nodded enthusiastically. “Of course. Let me get it ready.”

 

Pre Vizsla and one of his guards emerged from the shadows to observe as the tay’haai busied herself around the circular table, shuffling datapads and flipping switches. Cody glared at Vizsla, the man was always watching them closely. “Have we confirmed your suspicions, Vizsla?”

 

The Kyr’tsad leader narrowed his eyes. “You stay out of it, Fett.”

 

There was a shuffling and Bo-Katan came into view. Cody pulled away from where he’d been about to start a fist fight with Vizsla. The smaller Kryze edged forward nervously. She wasn’t as bad as her vod , when Obi-Wan had called Satine’s claim into question, Bo-Katan had been the first New Mandalorian to start actually listening to what the other factions had to say.

 

“Here we are!” Dema announced, blinking in confusion when she found that her audience had grown.

 

A hologram appeared hovering over the table, bathing everyone in blue light. Cody focused on the image of a stone with Mando’a carved into it.

 

“This is the first recorded version of the prophecy is on this stone tablet that was kept in the vaults for over five centuries. This is the oldest as far as we can tell. The prophet was a female human by the name of Pythia who is renowned by many Mando’ade to be the seer of all. Her works have been found carved into the walls of many cave systems on many different planets in the Mandalorian sector.”

 

Dema pressed a button and a new image showed. “Many scrolls found containing her precognitions have been found in unusual places. They’ve been buried with graves, encased in museums, and found written on walls in ruins.”

 

The image zoomed in, giving Cody a better glimpse of the figures adorning the cracked paper. “Since Mando’a is a language of little change, these prophecies are easy to translate. Many of her works have already come to pass. These include but are not limited to the Sith Lord Exar Kun along with his death by his own Sith experiments and my personal favorite, the prediction of the Great Galactic War and the rise of Mandalore the Lesser.”

 

Cody blinked stupidly. He did not remember this from his history lessons.

 

“Many of the prophecies have yet to pass, but it is my utter and complete belief that we are in the midst of one.”

 

Bo-Katan coughed awkwardly to get Dema’s attention. “How do you know?” The question was asked innocently, without any malicious intent. Cody was sure the Duchess had failed to ever mention this part of their history to Bo-Katan. To be fair, he was just as confused.

 

“It falls in line with the pattern. All the signs point to now.” Dema responded with conviction. Bo-Katan nodded and Dema continued. “Now there are a few different versions of the Prophecy of the True Mand’alor, but they all describe the exact same thing.”

 

The hologram switched again to an intricately written script of Mando’a that Dema started to read in an enchanting and commanding voice.

 

Ogir bah aruetti, solus ti besbe’trayce be jordan bal kad be nau’u.”

 

There is to be an outsider, one with weapons of voice and a sword of light.

 

“Bah naastar te jehaat ibac ara’novor cuun kote kaysh jate’kara.”

 

To destroy the lie that obstructs our glory is their destiny.

 

“Kaysh pitat daab tracyn, naumiit be meg bah olarom.”

 

They will rain down fire, a signal of what is to come.

 

“Juaan te Mand’alor verd kemir.”

 

Beside the Mand’alor the warrior will walk.

 

“Tome dral bah kotyc, rohakar te prudiise.”

 

Together in power and strength, to defeat the shadows.

 

“Manda’yaim solus chur te Haat Mand’alor solus.”

 

Mandalore will be united under the True Ruler as one.

 

Cody felt a chill run down his back as Dema’s mesmerizing chanting came to a stop, the room filling with a dead silence. Jango stood stock still, gazing somewhere Cody could not see. Was Obi-Wan truly the prophesied one? 

 

This raised more questions than it answered. Cody prepared himself for the chaos that was inevitably coming.




Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan wrung his hands together nervously in the folds of his robe, Qui-Gon looming in the doorway to the cockpit. It had been month-cycles since they’d been separated. Obi-Wan was unsure if his Master blamed him for that, or possibly, Qui-Gon had questions about why Obi-Wan slandered the name of the one he’d been assigned to protect.

 

“I have a great many questions.” Qui-Gon broke from his stoic standing to move to the opposite padded bench, sitting across the table from Obi-Wan. “I’m sure you also would like to know what I’ve been up to.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, he was curious.  Qui-Gon had been silent, no contact whatsoever, the entire time he’d been on the run with Satine. “We should compile a report.”

 

Qui-Gon furrowed his brow. “It’s going to be a long one.”

 

“It is.” 

 

Qui-Gon raised an eyebrow at Obi-Wan’s short agreeance, gesturing to the data pad laying on the table between them. Obi-Wan sighed, recording the reports was not his favored activity.

 

“So Master,” He started. “What happened after we parted ways?”

 

Qui-Gon leaned back. “I escaped the attackers, they were Death Watch affiliates. Not members I believe, just thrill seekers with a grudge against the Duchess.”

 

“They were well organized for thrill seekers.” Obi-Wan quipped.

 

“They are Mandalorians, what can you expect?” He waved the statement away. “As I was saying, I escaped with no serious wounds, only a bruised ego. I made my way out of the countryside and took the cheapest transportation I could find.”

 

“That’s where we diveraged. Satine took me further out. I woke up while she was taking us to a barn.”

 

“What were their crops?” Qui-Gon leaned forward in interest.

 

“It was abandoned.” Obi-Wan eyed Qui-Gon suspiciously, what was his Master up to? Was he trying to get Obi-Wan to admit to starting a farm instead of finding him? Or was he just easily distracted? Obi-Wan was reading too far in. “What transportation did you take?”

 

Qui-Gon retreated back to his leaned back state, a flash of embarrassment tainting the force bond between them. “A tour bus. I ended up taking a pilgrimage.”

 

“You blended in?” Qui-Gon looked the part of the stereotypical Jedi, he gave off the energy of a threatening monk. In Obi-Wan’s travels that had been his impression of the Mandalorians impression of Jedi as a whole.

 

“It was just a self guided tour from ruin to ruin all to see evidence of some prophetesses’ writings. And there were many pubs that were recommended stops on the trail. It was less religious and more historical if anything.” Qui-Gon said with a shrug as if he hadn’t just emitted to going drinking and sightseeing.

 

Obi-Wan shook his head to clear it. “So while I was sleeping in sewers and getting hunted down by Mandalorians, you were taking a sabbatical? Were you even looking for us?”

 

Qui-Gon’s lips thinned and his eyes narrowed as if Obi-Wan had offended him. “I figured I would hear something.”

 

“And you did.” Obi-Wan ignored the accusation in his tone.

 

“I had been at the Capital for a month-cycle before you arrived.” Qui-Gon corrected. “The New Mandalorians were gracious hosts and had extracted promises from the True Mandalorians and Death Watch that there would be no violence.”

 

Had his Master not seen the HoloNet announcement? Obi-Wan tried to approach the subject lightly. “What was happening at the Capital?”

 

Qui-Gon sighed. “There was something, a gossip story blown up into epic proportions. I never got the full picture though. You showed up right after.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, trying to be as nonchalant as possible. “I believe I created the excitement. I was given a truth serum and maybe kinda sorta got recorded and put on the news for ummm … ” He trailed off, not wanting to admit to what he’d done.

 

Qui-Gon looked on with indifference. “Did you confess your undying love for the Duchess?”

 

“What? No!” Obi-Wan sputtered. He had not been expecting that. “I criticized her policies.”

 

That seemed to shock the Jedi Master. “You did what?” Obi-Wan couldn’t believe having a debate was less acceptable than hooking up with the Duchess.

 

“I was under the influence of a drug!” Obi-Wan defended himself. “And I was not expecting for anyone else to hear it.”

 

“I’m sure you weren’t, but you did a careless thing, padawan.” Qui-Gon reprimanded. 

 

Obi-Wan bit back his retort and substituted it for something less offensive. “It was not under my control.”

 

Qui-Gon narrowed his eyes. “You endangered the mission.”

 

“The mission was a danger to begin with.” Obi-Wan muttered darkly. Satine had no right to call for Jedi intervention and get him stuck in this situation. It was embarrassing. “Besides, I stopped the fighting and we were able to leave.”

 

“That is no excuse. We will see how the Council reacts.” 

 

Obi-Wan slunk away, there was no need for him to spend anymore time listening to his Master. He buried the data pad in his robes as he moved to the cramped quarters that he called his own. The report wasn’t going to write itself. He spent the next few hours furiously recounting every time he’d been shot at when he decided there were other things he’d rather be doing. The report could wait a while, there were still a few more day-cycles before he’d even get to Coruscant. 

 

Obi-Wan pulled out the shiny new comm that Cody had given him. He could record a message and send it to his new friend when they came out of hyperspace to switch the hyperspace lanes. He gently set down the comm and fell into the chair sandwiched between the wall and his small bed.

 

“Hey Cody.” Obi-Wan gave a small wave before taking the pillow out from behind his back and throwing it to its rightful place at the head of his bed. “I’m suffering and I will have you know that the HoloNews video is a blessing and a curse.” 

 

He yanked one of his boots off, tossing it away, the shoe clanking against the wall. He winced and continued. “I’m finally headed back home, but by force I’m going to have to clean dishes for at least a ten-day. As it would turn out, my little impassioned speech will not fly due to the fact I have technically slandered Satine’s good name.”

 

The other boot came off with a huff, thunking to the floor with its twin. Obi-Wan sighed, bringing his hands to his face and crading it. “I am absolutely mortified and I just want you to know I am eternally thankful that you gave me that shawl at the restaurant. If I’d been recognized, who knows … ” Obi-Wan started to contemplate, losing himself to his musings. “Would the New Mandalorians have sentenced me to death for treason? Well … no because they are pacifistic to an extreme. Oh! And because it’s not treason if I’m not a Mandalorian.”

 

Obi-Wan let the satisfied smile settle across his face. He’d just reasoned his way out of theoretical public execution and hopefully these reasonings would work with the council. “Anyways, I have some questions for you, since we are comm buddies and all. Any hobbies? How’s your family? What’s your favorite food?” Obi-Wan blinked when there was a loud crashing from the other side of the ship. “I think I better get going now. Comm me back as soon as you can. Bye.”

 

Obi-Wan shut off the recording and peaked his head outside of the door. Qui-Gon stood holding a ration bar, staring upon the foil wrapped object with disgust. “They only gave me the heavily spiced kind.”

 

Obi-Wan huffed. Those were the only good ones. The Mandalorians had put their iconic spices and seasonings into ration bars, making the nutritional dust slightly edible. Quite the achievement if you asked Obi-Wan. “Did you not specify on your order?”

 

Qui-Gon tossed the bar at Obi-Wan. “Late-meal is served. We jump hyperlanes tomorrow morning. If you have any comms to send, be prepared.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded. Cody would be getting his comm full of complaints soon enough. Hopefully the traffic around Coruscant would be lighter than usual, Obi-Wan desperately wished to be back at the Temple. The trip to Mandalore had been taxing and he missed Quinlan.




Obi-Wan stood before the Council, listening as Qui-Gon paraphrased from the mission report they’d gone over earlier. Master Yoda seemed intrigued as Qui-Gon explained the tour he’d been given. It seemed to only be a bonding experience for the two of them though while Master Windu looked ready to tell him to shut up and a few of the other Masters looked confused as to why this was the topic. Obi-Wan was honestly confused as well but accepted it as face value.

 

“Very informative, was your trip?” Master Yoda croaked.

 

“Yes Master.” Qui-Gon answered smoothly. “My padawan continued to watch after the Duchess while I journeyed to the capital.”

 

“Padawan Kenobi.” Master Windu jerked his attention away from Qui-Gon. “Master Jinn has given us an overview of the report, but I want to hear your side. Tell me, how did you get the Duchess secure enough to leave the planet?”

 

Obi-Wan cleared his throat, he’d already told Quinlan this. His friend had helped craft the story so the Council would be less likely to assign him to janitorial duties for the rest of the year-cycle. “I travelled with the Duchess, defending against assassination attempts and constantly on the move. The answer to your question is a bit … unorthodox. I was poisoned, drinking a concoction meant for Satine. The poison is lethal in high does but works as a truth serum in lower amounts. My faster metabolism was able to keep me alive, but I ended up telling Satine that I didn’t like her political movement. The entire exchange was caught on video and seen by the Mandalorians.”

 

Master Windu’s eyes widened. Obi-Wan hid a wince, Quinlan had claimed this reaction did not lead to a worst case scenario. Obi-Wan hoped he was right. “How did this stop the attacks?”

 

“I’m still not quite sure on that. I saw a HoloNews announcement a few days later saying the other two factions were engaging in peaceful negotiations. The bounty has been lifted from her head.”

 

“Unexpected that was.” Master Yoda said.

 

“I concur.” Master Ti shot a side eye to Qui-Gon who stood still, eyes staring straight ahead. “While the way it took place was not ideal, I see nothing wrong with the situation. If the Duchess is safe, then your mission is complete. You’ve done a find job protecting her by yourself.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, unsure of how to answer the compliment. Master Windu spoke up. “This is a strange occurrence indeed, but it seems to be under control. We will keep an eye out on the Mandalorian news though, should anything happen, we will respond.”

 

Qui-Gon broke from his trance. “Is that all, Masters?”

 

“Go, you may. Dismissed you are.” Master Yoda responded steadily, Qui-Gon bowing and turning to leave while Obi-Wan gave a bow of his own, rushing after his Master’s long strides. 

 

Quinlan ambushed him before he could get in the elevator with his Master. Qui-Gon merely looked on in boredom before closing the lift’s doors. “Your comm buddy responded!”

 

Obi-Wan glanced worriedly, Quinlan was too gleeful. “Do you have it?”

 

“Yeah,” Quinlan patted his pocket in confirmation before dragging Obi-Wan towards the elevator that had opened up again, a Knight passing them with a nod as Obi-Wan stumbled after his friend. He’d given Quinlan the comm for safekeeping and because he had demanded it as respiration for Obi-Wan’s extended absence. “I’ll only keeping it as leverage, if you leave again I will be bored out of my mind.”

 

“I have nowhere to go.” He assured, snatching the comm from Quinlan as the two of them descended in the elevator. 

 

“You better not.” Quinlan warned. The little fight kept them distracted until the ride dinged its arrival. Quinlan grabbed Obi-Wan’s hand and maneuvered the two of them past a group waiting to go up, dodging a small class of creche children also walking through the large hallway.

 

“Where are we going?” Obi-Wan huffed out, a smile breaking across his face. 

 

“Fountain number three hundred and eighty five. You should know this, come on, get with the program.” Quinlan reprimanded with mock disappointment.

 

“You realize that it’s a hyperbole, right? I doubt there are a thousand fountains and if there are, I don’t think the number would be so perfectly uniform.”

 

Quinlan shook his head and led Obi-Wan to the newest water source on their scavenger hunt in the Room of a Thousand Fountains. “You and your conspiracy theories, have some faith. Besides, Bant says she’s been to all of them.”

 

“Bant is a liar.”

 

Quinlan barked out a laugh, depositing Obi-Wan onto a patch of grass with a mighty swing of his arm. “Don’t let her hear that. Now I want to know what is up with your Mando.”

 

Obi-Wan grabbed Quinlan’s ankle, pulling the other padawan down to the lush ground with a thump. He set the comm out in front of them, Cody’s small hologram form projected out.

 

Su cuy'gar burc’ya.” Cody said stiffly, back straight and hands at his side.

 

“Is he okay?” Quinlan whispered to Obi-Wan who only shushed him in return.

 

I- ” Cody’s stiff demeanor broke. “ Umm I’m sure you would rather not hear this, but there’s a problem. ” He wrung his hands together. “ As it would turn out, you are need back on Manda’yaim. I’m doing as much damage control as possible, I wasn’t supposed to let you leave.

 

Cody winced, his shoulders hunching in. “ No one knows I still have contact with you, if news got out … I’d be in even deeper bantashit. That Duchess, Kryze, well she is claiming to have your blessing. ” Cody looked disturbed by this. “ She can’t even see through her own lies. Point is, the Mando’ade will be coming for you. Your Temple will likely be contacted soon enough. I will let you know if there are anymore pressing updates.

 

Cody stared ahead after his quickly paced confession. He heaved in a deep breath, relaxing as if the information he’d just spewed had lifted a weight off his shoulders. “ As for your other questions, ni emuurir uj’alayi, hibira, bah ve’vut.

 

“What is that even supposed to mean?” Quinlan grumbled, Obi-Wan slapped a hand over his mouth.

I’ll let you translate that, ” Cody said slyly and Quinlan made a face. “ You might want to start learning Mando’a. It will make things easier. Comm me back as soon as possible, we can set a time for a holocall. Ret’urcye mhi.

 

The hologram blinked out and Quinlan started to protest. “That’s it? He’s just as cryptic as you!”

 

“You can see why I want to be his friend?” Obi-Wan teased, snatching the comm before Quinlan could throw it in the water in retaliation.

 

He grunted. “What is happening? Did you bless a Duchess? I didn’t know you could do that.”

 

Obi-Wan shook his head. “Neither did I. If anything I thought I cursed her, but my more imminent worry is-”

 

“The Mandalorians are going to hunt you for sport or what the council will say?” Quinlan interrupted with a lazy grin, reveling in Obi-Wan dilemma.

 

“Both.”

 

Quinlan rolled over, bumping into Obi-Wan as he looked up at the domed glass ceiling high above. “What did Jinn do about it?”

 

Obi-Wan shrugged as he also made his way onto his back. “Threatened me with janitorial duties and the council's disappointment.”

 

Quinlan hummed in response before speaking offhandedly. “I’d pay money to see it.”

 

“See what?”

 

He just smiled at the bafflement coming off of Obi-Wan. “The HoloNews announcement. I’m sure it was iconic.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed. “Of course that’s your main focus. See, mine is what’s going to happen. I never questioned why the video made the other factions remove the bounty or agree to negotiations. I should’ve thought about it, I should’ve been more wary.”

 

“It was reckless,” Quinlan agreed. “But I’m enjoying the benefits, such as you being back at the Temple and not being dead.”

 

“That makes it all worth it. I will never sleep in a sewer again and hopefully not get shot at for at least a month-cycle.”

 

Quinlan laughed. “I pity you.” After a beat of silence he spoke again. “Hey, want to figure out what in the kriff your Mando friend was saying?”

 

Obi-Wan sat up in an instant, his curiosity coming back in full force. “You know I do.”



Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan slid out of Dex’s four armed grasp, wincing as his back popped from the forceful hug. His besalisk friend was an extremely strong hugger. Quinlan took Obi-Wan’s place with gusto, launching himself at the cook with arms wide open and a large smile.

 

“Obi-Wan and Quinlan! What a surprise, what brings you two here?” Dex chortled out, ruffling their heads and guiding them to an empty booth. Obi-Wan sat in his seat while Quinlan toppled into his. 

 

“We are here for your famous food of course,” He smiled. “And it never hurt to visit.”

 

Obi-Wan scoffed and gestured to his torso. “Quin, it does hurt.”

 

Dex let out a booming laugh, scaring one of his customers who was passing by. “It builds character, little Jedi. What can I get for the two of you today?”

 

Quinlan frisbeed the menu for Dex’s Diner into Obi-Wan’s waiting hands. “Nerf burger, please and thank you.”

 

Obi-Wan poured over the menu for a moment in silence. “May I have the daily sandwich with a side of tuber fries?”

 

Dex nodded, “Any drinks? It’s on the house.”

 

“You have got to let us pay.” Obi-Wan sighed out right as Quinlan exclaimed at the same time.

 

“Two bantha milkshakes!”

 

Dex smiled widely. “That’ll be coming right up, FLO will bring it to ya. And don’t forget to leave without saying goodbye. I haven’t seen you in a while.”

 

Quinlan watched as Dex trudged off, heading back to his kitchen and greeting people all the way there. “Why do you always insist on trying to pay? Dex is just repaying his life debt one meal at a time.”

 

“I refuse to bankrupt a friend due to your insatiable appetite.”

 

“Don’t say that, Dex wouldn’t even be hurt if I ordered all the things I wanted to. This isn’t even his main source of income.”

 

Obi-Wan raised a skeptical eyebrow and Quinlan just shrugged. FLO, the waitress droid, rolled up with their drinks precariously filled to the brim.

 

“You ordered the two bantha milkshakes, right?”

 

“That would be us.” Quinlan answered cheerily.

 

“Here you go, hon, be careful not to freeze your circuits.” With a bend of her arm, the drinks were deposited on the table and FLO was whizzing off again. Quinlan reached forward, grabbing the glass and taking greedy gulps, shouting in surprise when his head hurt.

 

“It is cold!”

 

“As it should be.” Obi-Wan chastised lightly. His friend had no self control. “So why’d you choose here to eat? I know the free food is a plus, but there is also food at the Temple.”

 

Quinlan tutted. “Dex is a dear friend, we need to visit every so often. Besides, I don’t want to be at the Temple today.”

 

“Fair enough.” Obi-Wan leaned back, relaxing against the plastic cushions. “If I do another kata, I’m going to cry.”

 

“Don’t I know it.” Quinlan muttered around his straw. “Hey, did you ever get a response from your comm buddy?”

 

Obi-Wan thought back to the last comm he’d exchanged with Cody, the Mandalorian had given him a little more context to the situation, but Obi-Wan was still very lost. “Yeah, he said something about my visit being foretold and that I was going to have to return sooner or later.”

 

“If you do, I'm going with you.”

 

“I’m not sure Master Tholme would like that.”

 

Quinlan sniffed indignantly. “Master Tholme has complete and utter faith in me.”

 

“Whatever lets you sleep at night.” Obi-Wan teased.

 

The door chimed and Obi-Wan attention was drawn by the force to see who was entering. It was the first solid nudge he’d gotten from the force since he’d returned to the Temple a week-cycle prior. He turned his gaze as two armor clad Mandalorians made their entrance.

 

“Who is it?” Quinlan asked in a casual tone, he’d seen Obi-Wan’s subtlety panicking reaction. 

 

“Mandos.”

 

“So it is true. Your comm buddy wasn’t lying.” Quinlan laughed disbelievingly. “You are getting hunted alive. I wonder how much the bounty is … ”

 

Obi-Wan reprimanded his friend. “You are not allowed to sell me out to heavily armed mercenaries all for the sake of a little cash.”

 

“Fine, fine.” 

 

FLO had chosen the right time to return, pushing past the two Mandalorians who were slowly making their way further into the diner, scouting. “Move it, hon. I got a hot plate.” She placed the steaming plates down on the table, reading out the order. “I got a nerf burger with a side salad and a daily sandwich with a side order of tuber fries. Is this right?”

 

“Yes, thank you.” Quinlan responded, hand already making its way to Obi-Wan’s plate to steal a fry. Obi-Wan sighed, dumping half of his tuber fries onto Quinlan’s plate like originally planned. His friend was too predictable.

 

“Enjoy your meal, hons.” FLO called, speeding off to deliver another order.

 

“Hello.” Came a modulated voice. The two Mandalorians had found their table. Quinlan froze up, a bite of burger sitting in his open mouth. Obi-Wan mustered as much nonchalance as he could feign, turning to look into the t-visors watching him expectantly.

 

“Hello there.”

 

The second Mando removed their helmet to reveal a woman of mirialan descent pale green skin and wide eyes. “Is it really you?”

 

“Depends on who you are looking for.”

 

The mando stuck out her hand, “I’m Nage, verd be Haat Mando’ade.

 

Obi-Wan took Nage’s hand in his own, shaking it in a respectful greeting. “ Jate bah urcir gar. ” He hoped he was pronouncing it right, at Cody’s cryptic hint, Obi-Wan had been brushing up on the rudimentary Mando’a lessons Satine had given him.

 

Nage smiled brightly. “May we sit?”

 

Quinlan shot a look at Obi-Wan, he sent worry through the force, but Obi-Wan only nodded and scooted over, Nage taking a seat next to him. This seemed to calm Quinlan who decided to ignore the visitors in favor of returning to his meal.

 

“This is Arlen.” Nage gestured to the other Mando who removed his burgundy helmet.

 

“Greetings.” Arlen said in stiff Basic, his face denoting him as a Chiss and showing the same amount of shock as Nage was. He had not expected this reaction when Mandalorians had come sniffing for him. They seemed to be just over his age, still relatively young and likely new to this game.

 

“To what do I owe the honor?” Obi-Wan asked politely, unsure of how to handle the visitors.

 

Nage barked out a laugh. “It’s our honor.”

 

“Lemme try.” Quinlan said. “Are you here on a bounty?”

 

“Of sorts.” Arlen said slowly.

 

“Obes, it was nice knowing you.” Quinlan declared dramatically.

 

“Thanks Quin, it really means a lot to me.” He answered scathingly.

 

Nage looked confused, eyes darting between the two of them as if there were dots that needed to be connected. Whatever question she was going to ask was cut off by the ringing of a comm and Quinlan’s subsequent slamming it down on the table from the folds of his tunic. Obi-Wan passed the rest of his tuber fries to Nage as a peace offering before answering the call.

 

“This is Padawan Kenobi.” He spoke into the device that Quinlan now carried around at all times in a bid to deliver Cody’s newest comm message with flair.

 

“Padawan Kenobi, requests your presence the council does.” Came Master Yoda’s croaky voice.

 

Obi-Wan sat up in his seat, sending Quinlan the message through their mental bond. Quinlan had decided when they were still in the creche that Obi-Wan and him needed non-verbal contact for mischief making, the strengthened bond was coming in useful now. ‘It’s Master Yoda.’

 

I’m not done eating. Also why didn’t you give me your extra fries? ’ Quinlan shot back.

 

“How soon?”

 

“Now would be preferable.” Came Master Koon’s calm reply, apparently the comm was being passed around by the Jedi Masters.

 

“I will be there as soon as possible.” Obi-Wan assured, gesturing to Dex who was wandering towards their table having seen the newest additions and curious about what was happening. “What is the matter or will I have to wait to find out?”

 

“Well,” Master Koon sounded conflicted. “All I can say right now is that we have been in contact with some very adamant Mandalorians. A few even showed up at the Temple before heading off.”

 

“Adamant my ass.” Came Master Windu’s voice, he sounded far away from the comm. “It’s all threats and bribes and solicitors with weapons of mass destruction.”

 

“Huh.” Obi-Wan glanced at Nage and Arlen out of the corner of his eye, seeing the two of them respectfully looking anywhere but Obi-Wan.

 

“Be quick.” Master Koon suggested before the comm shut off completely. By that time, Dex had made his way over.

 

“Dex, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we gotta go.” Quinlan said, mouth full as he shoved the rest of the food into it.

 

“Leaving so soon my friends? You better visit me again little Jedi. It was too long since I last saw you.”

 

“We’ll be back, Dex. Thank you for the wonderful food.” Obi-Wan let himself be swept up into Dex’s back cracking hug once more. 

 

“Anything we can get for you?” Quinlan said deviously, the Jedi Order didn’t have to know Quinlan was selling gossip to Dex for free meals. Obi-Wan found himself exchanging secrets with the information dealer when he needed a lead quite often as well.

 

“Yeah,” He turned to face Obi-Wan who was hiding a credit under his used plate. “Who’d you bless?”

 

“Absolutely no one.” Obi-Wan said cheerily. “Not even if they sneeze.”

 

Dex let out a loud laugh at that, slapping Obi-Wan on the back. He had to brace himself for the impact. “Get back to your force business, I’ll see you around.”

 

“Goodbye Dex!” Quinlan called as he dragged Obi-Wan out of the diner, leaving behind two shocked mandos at their recently vacated table. Quinlan shoved him towards the speeder, taking the driver's seat and starting to fly before Obi-Wan had even put on his seat belt.

 

“That was … interesting.” Obi-Wan offered as they merged their way into a traffic lane.

 

Quinlan smiled. “If I sneeze, will you acknowledge it?”

 

“You don’t deserve that.” Obi-Wan said haughtily, impersonating the socialites that dominated the celebrity section of the HoloNews. It was a favorite of Quinlan’s to bombard Bant with the latest gossip, causing their friend to lecture him about vanity.

 

“I am dirt under your shoe.” Quinlan agreed with a laugh. “Can I come to that Council meeting?”

 

“I’m sure the excuse of an emotional support friend only works a total of once, Quin.” Quinlan shot a hurt look at Obi-Wan, he caved immediately. “But I will try.”

 

He did not have to try too hard, Quinlan walked into the Council Chambers at Obi-Wan’s side and all he got was a deadly glare from Master Windu. He did not take the hint, planting himself front and center with his friend. Master Jinn wasn’t there, Obi-Wan remembered he had volunteered to teach in the training stalls that afternoon.

 

“Padawan Kenobi, and Padawan Vos.” Master Koon called. “Welcome.”

 

“Indeed.” Master Ti said, staring at Quinlan in confusion. “Why are you here?”

 

“Moral support.” Quinlan said with conviction, Obi-Wan nodding along with an air of seriousness. 

 

Master Windu sighed. “We can’t stop you, but if you say one thing-”

 

“I agree to the terms and conditions on Quinlan’s behalf.” Obi-Wan interrupted. “If I may, why have I been summoned, Masters?”

 

Master Yoda addressed the question. “Popular you are.” 

 

“I know we didn’t go into full detail on the ending of the Mandalore mission,” Master Ti started warily.

 

“But why in the force are there Mandalorians demanding your return?” Master Windu finished.

 

“I’m not sure.” Obi-Wan offered. “I believe my critique of the Duchess has landed me a spot in the debate between the factions.”

 

“An outsider's opinion if you will.” Quinlan tacked on.

 

“That’s not it.” Master Fisto scoffed, leaning back in his chair. “They want something else.”

 

“The Mandalorians are very secretive about their cultural and government system.” Master Billaba reminded the Council, the Chalactan’s quiet and commanding manner calling attention to herself. “We should make contact and ask our questions with Padawan Kenobi present.”

 

“How do you propose this?” Master Windu asked. “I agree with the idea, but it will be hard to decode the comm numbers.”

 

“I can help.” Obi-Wan spoke up, holding a hand out to Quinlan.

 

Quinlan dropped the comm into his hands with a self satisfied grin. “He’s going to hate you.”

 

“Padawan Kenobi,” Master Windu sounded tired. “Care to explain?”

 

“He made a friend.” Quinlan chirped as Obi-Wan dialed for Cody, placing the comm on the floor and hoping he would pick up. If not, he would have embarrassed himself in front of the high council. The hologram shot to life.

 

This better be important. ” Cody grumbled before seeing the Jedi Council also present for the call. “ Oh.

 

Su cuy’gar, Cody.” Obi-Wan greeted him. “We need some answers.”

 

Gar ori’dush. I’m going to be in big trouble for this. ” Cody’s figure started to shift as he moved to wherever he was going. “ You owe me.

 

Vor entye. ” Obi-Wan said apologetically.

 

Cody started to call to people out of the comm’s view. “ Ni ganar kar’tayl. Gar copaanir bah susulur ibic.

 

“Padawan, have you had access to this the entire time?” Master Billaba asked.

 

“You aren’t going to get an answer you want, Depa.” Master Windu warned her.

 

Cody’s image josled again, more Mando’a being spoken. “ Meg ?” Obi-Wan recognized the speaker as Satine.

 

Cody spoke venomously. “ Naas par gar, Kryze. ” Was Cody in Satine’s presence enough to be constantly irritated by her? Obi-Wan had assumed Cody was high ranking but not that high.

 

Udesii vod’ika, ” A husky voice caught Obi-Wan’s attention. “ Me’bana ?”

 

Cody placed down the comm and pressed a button, the other gathered Mandalorians sprung into view on the hologram. There was Satine, Cody’s hot brother, and a great many people Obi-Wan did not recognize. There was a stunned silence as Cody fidgeted nervously.

 

No one was speaking, so Quinlan took initiative. “Hey Cody, what the kriff is happening?”

 

“Don’t be mean.” Obi-Wan chastised. “Cody doesn’t deserve that.”

 

You know Fett ?” Asked a bald man with a confident gait. He sounded confused and angry.

 

“Cody has a last name?” Quinlan asked Obi-Wan who shrugged. “Good to know.”

 

You’ve had contact with him this entire time ?” The man demanded Cody who straightened his shoulders. “ And you didn’t tell anyone ?”

 

Vizsla, I will break your knees- ” Obi-Wan cut off Cody’s threat with a cough.

 

“Ahem. If you would, we have other things to discuss.”

 

Obi-Wan it is so nice to see you again. ” Satine said happily.

 

“Hello again. How are-”

 

“I am Master Windu of the Jedi Order.” Master Windu wasn’t having it with the pleasantries, dealing with the Mandalorians earlier had worn him down. “What do you want from Padawan Kenobi?”

 

You do not know ?” Asked an elderly man who was hovering behind Satine, Almec if Obi-Wan was remembering correctly.

 

“No.” Master Koon tried to be polite. “We lack information you seem to think is obvious.”

 

Master Billaba spoke up. “Please inform us.”

 

There was a shuffling in the crowd as an elderly woman pushed her way to the front of the holo call, eyes locking with Obi-Wan’s. “ You are the prophesied one.

 

Obi-Wan was bewildered and desperately needed clarification. “Excuse me?”

 

The woman spoke commandingly, eyes seeming to stare into Obi-Wan’s soul. " The prophecy speaks of the outsider who would lead us to the next true Mand'alor. The one who would uncover the truth and return Mandalore to its former glory. "

 

"I don't see what this has to do with me." Obi-Wan's eyebrows were furrowed in confusion.

 

" You are the one spoken of by prophets past! " The old woman insisted.

 

Obi-Wan scoffed. "Just because I have an opinion does not make me eligible to decide the ruler of an entire planet."

 

Cody spoke up. “ It’s true, we’ve been waiting for your arrival for a long time.




Chapter Text

 

 

The blue figures in the holocall sat imposingly, the Jettise Masters in their raised chairs and the light frowns adorning their faces. Obi-Wan stood front and center with Quinlan at his side, Cody had been introduced to the other jetti padawan through a very rambunctious comm video. 

 

The bald jetti , his back straight and tone commanding, interrupted the greeting Kryze and Obi-Wan had been exchanging. “ I am Master Windu of the Jedi Order. What do you want from Padawan Kenobi ?”

 

Almec, Kryze’s top advisor and an all around annoying man spoke up in his nasally voice. Cody disliked the elderly man, he lived in his own world and had no good intentions for Manda’yaim. “You do not know?” 

 

No. We lack information you seem to think is obvious. ” The Kel Dor jetti answered smoothly.

 

That made sense, Mando’ade seemed to forget that no matter how interconnected and culturally immersed their society was, it was a secretive mystery to others. Cody thought back to Obi-Wan’s confusion and hid a wince.

 

Please inform us. ” The Chalactan jetti tacked one, her eyes narrowed. There was mistrust carefully concealed by a polite face. The angry demands hadn’t been the best idea to spam the jettise with.

 

One of the clan elders, a woman by the name of Blay stepped forward from the besakr’gam cladded crowd. Cody remembered her to be Dema’s buir . He’d gotten closer with the tay'haai while everyone had been soliciting presentations about the prophecy. “You are the prophesied one.”

 

Obi-Wan blinked rapidly and Cody held in a laugh. Blay’s conviction was respected among the Mando’ade , but it must have seemed unnerving to Obi-Wan. “ Excuse me ?”

 

"The prophecy speaks of the outsider who would lead us to the next true Mand'alor . The one who would uncover the truth and return Mandalore to its former glory." Vizsla nodded soluemly. Cody turned to look at his ori’vod , Jango’s gaze was focused intently on Obi-Wan’s hologram.

 

Obi-Wan, for his part, looked even more lost. He seemed to be stumbling to ask his questions in the politest way possible. " I don't see what this has to do with me. "

 

"You are the one spoken of by prophets past!" Blay exclaimed.

 

Obi-Wan scoffed. " Just because I have an opinion does not make me eligible to decide the ruler of an entire planet. "

 

Even for the small amount of time he’d known his burc’ya , this seemed like a very Obi-Wan thing to say. The short jetti Master looked ready to choke on laughter, his wrinkled face holding back a smile with an obvious amount of effort.

 

Cody sighed internally and spoke. “It’s true, we’ve been waiting for your arrival for a long time.”

 

Obi-Wan turned an accusing gaze to him. “ I could have gotten more warning.

 

“Don’t lie to yourself.”

 

I feel like our mid-meal guests were warning enough, ” Quinlan contemplated. “ I think you were the bounty.

 

A bounty there is on Padawan Kenobi ?” The short one spoke backwardly, Cody found it weird and made a mental note to ask Obi-Wan later. “ On your head, what is the price ?”

 

I’m not allowed to sell him out .” Quinlan answered helpfully as if he’d provided anything important to the conversation.

 

Once is enough. ” The Kel Dor agreed. Cody wanted to know the story behind that immediately.

 

Master Windu heaved a sigh. “ Enough. We still have things to discuss.

 

Yeah. ” Quinlan piped up, ignoring the wrathful stare Windu was burning into the back of his head. “ Who are the canidates and what are thier speaking points ?”

 

It wasn’t a bad question. Kryze spoke up. “I am Duchess Satine Kryze, I represent the New Mandalorians.”

 

Neat. ” Quinlan said. Cody retracted every slightly rude thought he’d had about the chaotic jetti. Quinlan’s complete lack of interest shown in his comment had made Cody’s day, no, it had made his week-cycle. Kryze deserved to be knocked down a few pegs.

 

Kryze looked like she wanted to argue, barely holding in her scoff as it was. Vizsla stepped forward. “ Ni Pre Vizsla . Alor be te Kry’tsad.

 

That means nothing to me- ” Quinlan was cut off by Obi-Wan slapping a hand over his mouth and stomping on his foot at the same time. It hurt to see someone else living his dream.

 

Does the word diplomacy mean nothing to you ?” Obi-Wan hissed through his teeth, barely loud enough for the speakers to pick up and let alone transmit.

 

The Del Kor shook his head softly, almost out of fond exasperation. “ Could we please have a translation ?”

 

“Vizsla leads Death Watch.” Cody offered, hooking a thumb over his shoulder at the resident terrorist leader. Hopefully their group name would be enough to raise a red flag or two.

 

Ner gai Jango Fett.” His ori’vod spoke for the first time, voice firm. “ Ni alor be te Haat Mando’ade. I am of the True Mandalorians.”

 

Your brother is a political leader ?” Quinlan had slipped out of Obi-Wan’s grip.

 

Cody nodded slowly, why did the jetti seem so surprised? “Yes.”

 

Quinlan only turned to Obi-Wan, his eyes wide and expression unreadable. The two of them held some conversation only conveyed through their eyes. Obi-Wan turned back to face them, Quinlan leaning in close to him conspiratorially. “ I cannot possibly be the one spoke of in the prophecy. For you see, I am biased.

 

Jango’s eyebrows shot up and Cody snorted. “Oh?”

 

My neutrality is compromised by our friendship.

 

Kryze took a sharp intake of breath. She had been trying to convince the assembled Mando’ade she had gotten Obi-Wan’s blessing. His protection of her seemed to overshadow his very public critique of her in the eyes of the New Mandalorians. Cody didn’t know what they were on.

 

“Great. Party over.”

 

“You are just grasping at straws! The prophecy clearly states your arrival, it is your prophecy ordained duty. It is imperative that you return.” Almec cried out.

 

Cody could see that the sentiment was shared with everyone but him, he still had reservations about forcing Obi-Wan to choose the next Mand’alor . Jango gave Cody a questioning look, they would be talking about this entire mess later.

 

“Besides, you already have a connection with the Duchess. Your ties to this planet already exist.” Almec was convincing, too bad his debate style left much to be desired. Cody always felt like he was trying to talk to a wall anytime the two of them butted heads. The old di'kut talked fast and constantly, leaving no room for criticism of any kind or even the idea of compromise.

 

Obi-Wan looked slightly defeated. Master Windu spoke, breaking his statuesque appearance. “ Padawan Kenobi will be sent out to Mandalore shortly.

 

We could hitch a ride with Nage and Arlen. ” Quinlan offered with a shrug.

 

Who ?” The Del Kor asked, frozen in his seat from where he’d been recrossing his legs.

 

We ?” Echoed Windu at the same time.

 

The names Nage and Arlen tickled at the back of Cody’s mind. Oh! They were two of the searchers Jango had sent out, Mirialan and Chiss duo, infamous for their drunken karaoke. At least they were infamous to Cody, he hated off key singing with a burning passion. How had they stumbled across Obi-Wan and Quinlan? Were they the mid-meal guests Quinlan had mentioned earlier?

 

They ate my tuber fries. ” Quinlan said in disgust at the same time Obi-Wan moved to explain.

 

We were joined during mid-meal.

 

Cody wished to have a full recounting of that experience. Had the two of them approached with demands or had they been awestruck? Jango’s orders had been to make contact with Obi-Wan, not explicitaly to carry him back no matter what, although it had surely been implied.

 

Vizsla nodded. “We got the report.” 

 

Quinlan’s eyes shone wide with mischief. “ How much of it ? Did you get the part where Obi-Wan says he wouldn’t bless anyone even if they sneeze ?”

 

This teasing question caused everyone in the room to freeze, Cody slowly swiveled to face Kryze with baited breath. Her claim was being knocked down by an offhand comment and the fact of the matter seemed to be sinking in. There went her best argument yet, gone gone away.  Bo-Katan, a small shadow hovering at her side looked like she was going to scream in delight while her vod troan turned racin .

 

The smaller Kryze had slowly been turning away from her ori’vod and the di'kutla bah hut'uunla ideals she held. Cody wasn’t blind, he could see that Bo-Katan was getting drawn in by the Kry’tsad and their gory visions of delusions and grandeur. Hopefully she would take their crusiader plans with a grain of salt.

 

Now you’ve done it .” Obi-Wan complained quietly. None of the Mando’ade had moved. All eyes were still fixed on the group dressed in gray tones surrounding their eleborately decorated Duchess. Her face still betrayed shock even if she’d tried to school her feautes.

 

How was I supposed to know ?” Quinlan shot back, his voice hushed. “ You’re the one who’s foretold and all that jazz.

 

Forgive me for being born. ” 

 

Never. ” Quinlan and Obi-Wan’s bickering came to a stand still. If Cody didn’t know better, he’d think the two of them were having another mental conversation supplemented by intense eye contact.

 

Jango was the first to recover completely from the state of shock they’d all fallen into. He cleared his throat and Obi-Wan snapped to attention. Quinlan slunk back so he was partially behind Obi-Wan. “When can we expect you arrival?”

 

Obi-Wan shot a glance at Master Windu, the jetti Master just looked contemplative. “ In a ten-day .”

 

Thank you for the call. ” The Kel Dor said graciously. “ Goodbye.

 

Ret'urcye mhi .” Cody and a few others echoed back as the holograms of the jettise winked out. He needed to leave and now, a ba'slan shev'la of sorts. Cody was extremely lucky his buir was busy visiting Arla at the moment. If Jaster got the news Cody had been harboring a line of communication to Obi-Wan and kept it a secret, he’d be kaden . But if Cody told him, the anger might be more subdued.

 

He grabbed his comm with one well-aimed swipe and started to back out of the room. “I’ll be leaving.” He didn’t know what had been going on here previously, perhaps more of the futile negocations, but he had no want to stick around after the bombshells he’d dropped.

 

Jango didn’t seem to be willing to let Cody disappear though. His ori’vod followed after him, hot on his heels as Cody walked as quickly as possible through the halls. “ Ke'pare !”

 

Cody spun around, heaving a sigh of relief when the expression on Jango’s face seemed to be leaning more toward curiosity than anything else. “ Meg ?”

 

“Why did you not tell us? Why not me? Shabla.

 

Cody held in a snort. “Maybe I was already to blame for a manhunt.”

 

“What do you know about Obi-Wan?” There was a weight behind the question that Cody could not explain.

 

“I met him at a epar'yaim and gave him a means of hiding his identity when the HoloNews announcement was shown. You know the one you re-watched a few hundred times too many?”

 

Jango seemed to flush but it was short lived as he shook the accusation away. “Is that where my shawl went?”

 

Elek.

 

Jango stiffened. “Show me your comm exchanges.”

 

Nayc.

 

Tion’jor nu?”

 

Cody huffed. “It’s not your business.” This seemed to shake Jango from his determination. Privacy was one of the things you had to pry from Cody’s cold, dead hands.

 

“Fett!” Kryze hollered as she ran toward them at a terrifying pace. With all the dramatic garb she was decked out in, Cody had severely underestimated her speed. No wonder her and Obi-Wan had never been captured.

 

Cody forced a smile he knew showed too much teeth. “ Meg solus ?

 

“You.” Kryze leveled her eyes at him, they were flaming with anger.

 

“Satine,” Jango said gently. “ Udesii .”

 

Cody began to back away very slowly. If he was careful, he could make it to Jaster and Arla while they were still in her room. The medical accommodations were plentiful and there was certainly enough room for Cody to hide and camp out in if necessary.

 

Kryze turned to Jango who winced. He’d just misplaced her rage onto him instead. “Your vod dares to make a fool of me! In front of so many!”

 

“You’re not the only one he’s duped. Cody has been hiding many things.”

 

Cody froze, he’d just gotten to the closest set of doors but now two pairs of eyes burned into his back. “There’s nothing I can do to help you.” He assured, hands above his head in surrender as he nudged the door open with his foot and slipped through the opening. It was time to run.

 

Cody lost himself to the familiar twists and turns of the yaim’alor on his route to Arla’s quarters. He made it just as his buir was about to step out of the room. “ Buir !” He huffed, still trying to catch his breath.

 

“Cody?” Jaster looked at him with slight worry.

 

He made no move to respond, only shooing Jaster back into the room and closing the door as tightly as possible. Arla sat at a table, colored pencils and paper set out in front of her. She only raised an eyebrow and continued her arts and crafts. Cody had tried it with her once but found no patience for the hobby, it was tedious.

 

“Cody?” His buir repeated, worry replaced by a tinge of irritation.

“I have contact with Obi-Wan.” He spoke as quickly as possible so more explaining could get done before his buir comprehended it all. “He called and the Jettise agreed to send him to Manda’yaim in a ten-day.”

 

“Oh.” Jaster blinked. “Who are you running from?”

 

Cody didn’t have the chance to answer, a sharp knocking started to pound on the door. “It’s Jango! Let me in!”

 

Arla rose from the table and moved to unlock the door, giving Cody an apologetic smile as she passed by. “If you had warned me … ”

 

“Next time.” Cody assured.

 

Jango stood in the doorway, Kryze standing behind him petulantly. “Where are we?” She poked at Jango.

 

Olarom .” Arla greeted.

 

Kryze froze as she finally turned her attention from stabbing Jango with her finger to stare at Arla. It took her a second to snap out of the trace, her demeanor changing instantly from bold and aggressive to much more approachable, a blush dusting over her cheeks. Cody felt a smile spread across his face, he could exploit this.

 

Vor’e .” Jango said absentmindedly as he moved to corner Cody.

 

Jaster sighed. “ Ade. ” 

 

Elek ?”

 

He sighed again. “Not you Arla, you’re perfect.”

 

Cody huffed indignantly as he used Arla’s chair as a barrier though iit wouldn’t last long. “Way to play favorites.”

 

“You’re Arla?” Kryze offered her hand bashfully to Arla, a hesitant expression on her face. “It’s nice to meet you.”

 

Tion’ad gar ?” Arla asked. “I’ve only just arrived, I haven’t been introduced to many people yet.”

 

“Nonsense.” Their buir exclaimed. “You’ve been here for two month-cycles now.”

 

“And I’m feeling much better.” She agreed before shushing Jaster and turning to Kryze.

 

“I’m Satine.” Kryze didn’t even use her title, confusing Cody as he continued to skirt around Jango, the majority of his attention focused on staying out of Jango’s range. “When did you arrive?”

 

Arla stared off as she thought about it while Jango stopped to stare at Jaster. This was a touchy subject. “About three-month cycles ago Jaster found me in a Kry’tsad compound. He took me into the Aloriya and I was in the medical center’s critical ward for quite some time. Broken bones and bloodied bruises, the usual treatment from Death Watch.”

 

The absolute calm in which she’d said it startled Kryze who started to apologize. “I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to pry, I-”

 

Arla laughed. “No, you’re fine. The therapist said I should talk about it. Besides, if you were Kry’tsad it would raise a very different reaction from you.”

 

Cody frowned at his ori’vod , it was an effective tactic but not one she should’ve sprung on Kryze right off the bat. “That’s not a very nice trick.”

 

“I was being brainwashed and psychologically tortured into being an assassin.” Arla reminded him lightly. “Let me be.”

 

Kry’tsad did that to you?” Kryze sounded appalled as if she didn’t see the stunts they were pulling in the public eye.

 

Urmankalar .” Cody answered, turning in shock as Jango’s hand expertly snatched the comm hanging off his belt with a victorious grunt. “ Ori’dush !”

 

Their fight would be legendary, Cody was ready to use deadly force against his chakaar of a vod . Plans were already formulating in his mind while his eyes betrayed his murderous intent. Too bad his buir was there to stop it with a quick swipe of the comm, holding it out as bait for the two of them with a disappointed look on his face. Arla snickered and Cody knew he’d lost.



Chapter Text



Cody eyed Jaster cautiously as he adjusted his fighting stance to be slightly more inconspicuous. He could be prepared as well as polite, just for a while at least. Jango was still enemy number one, kaysh liniba diniuir gra’tua bat di’kutla vod. Maybe Arla could be of help, she seemed attentive if not mildly irritated. Kryze was too distracted to be an effective ally, besides she seemed just as curious as Jango.

 

This was not a battle he would win easily, but Cody had faith in his ability to regain his stolen property with relative success. Their buir poked at the comm sitting unassumingly in his palm, eyebrows furrowing as he made his way past Cody’s not very secure security features. Jango leaned forward, turning the majority of his attention away from Cody in a rookie mistake. Arla made eye contact with Cody, mouthing out a question Cody translated to be, ‘What the kriff?’

 

Cody gave a minuscule shrug, eyes darting back to where Jaster was getting more and more confused by Cody’s comm set up, it truly a beautiful design that seemed to be doing it’s part to bewilder onlookers, and the fact that this was the newest model with the newest update. His buir was never going to win this particular battle.

 

Shuk'yc. ” Jaster muttered darkly, poking at the device with more force just as Jango stepped in, his patience running out. The resulting shuffle of fingers and muttered curses caused something to finally happen.

 

Out of the comm shot the two hologram figures of Obi-Wan and Quinlan, both of the jettise no bigger than the size of Cody’s hand. The recording had picked up mid-argument, Quinlan laughing rambunctiously while Obi-Wan looked on at him in disgust.

 

I’m not a coward. ” Obi-Wan huffed out. Jango stiffened, the only physical response besides a few breaths catching the group had to the assumption of the insult that had just been exchanged. Mando’ade saw being a hut’uun as one of the few traits you possessed to be considered dar’manda. To call someone hut’uunla was as grave of an insult as it was an accusation.

 

Sometimes I wish you were .” Quinlan shot back playfully.

 

Obi-Wan just tutted lightly. “ I’d be dead, it’s good that I have you here to humble me though.

 

Don’t I know it. You would be wonderful on one of those survival game shows.

 

“What are we even looking for?” Arla asked Jango with a sharp elbow to the beskar’gam covering his ribs.

 

“We want to know what Cody’s been hiding from us.” Kryze said, her voice going hard around his name. He winced at the emphasis and avoided her seething gaze.

 

Naas. Gar bintar chakaar’e.

 

Kryze only narrowed her eyes more, delicate finger coming out to stab at the comm, sending the holograms into a fritz. Jaster looked at it with bewilderment, shaking the device until the new figure became clear in the hologram.

 

Obi-Wan sat in a cramped chair, his hair askew as if he’d been running his hand through it one too many times. A tired smile graced his face. Cody remembered this to be the first comm message he had received from Obi-Wan.

 

Hey Cody. I’m suffering and I will have you know that the HoloNews video is a blessing and a curse. ” He adjusted his seat, grimacing all the while.

 

Obi-Wan reached down and pulled off one of his tall and armored Mando’ade style cetare off with one fluid motion. “ I’m finally headed back home, but by force I’m going to have to clean dishes for at least a ten-day. As it would turn out, my little impassioned speech will not fly due to the fact I have technically slandered Satine’s good name .”

 

Kryze breathed out a small laugh as the hologram threw his boot and winced as it had a loud landing, hand already pulling at the next one. Cody wondered if his cetare could make the same racket when thrown carelessly around. It was strange to see Obi-Wan in Mandalorian clothing versus the jetti robes he sported earlier on the comm call. He looked more imposing out of the heavy robes, striking a very Mando’ad figure with his hair and other attire.

 

Obi-Wan sighed and dropped his face into his hands. “ I am absolutely mortified and I just want you to know I am eternally thankful that you gave me that shawl at the restaurant.

 

Cody shot a discrete glance at Jango, his face impassive over the mention of the stolen shawl. Cody was still unsure if his vod wanted to get back at him or not over that little incident.

 

If I’d been recognized, who knows … ” Obi-Wan blinked a few times. “ Would the New Mandalorians have sentenced me to death for treason ?” 

 

Kryze made a strangled noise as Obi-Wan continued to think out loud, Arla looking at her worriedly. Had she still not made the connection of Kryze to the New Mandalorians?

 

Well … no because they are pacifistic to an extreme. Oh! And because it’s not treason if I’m not a Mandalorian.

 

Obi-Wan looked too satisfied for the person who had caused Jango’s eyes to suddenly glint in a way Cody attributed to his intensive planning face. Nothing good ever came from him when he looked like that. Maybe he should worry about that more.

 

Anyways, I have some questions for you, since we are comm buddies and all. Any hobbies? How’s your family? What’s your favorite food ?” There was a loud crash from off the camera and Obi-Wan stood up immediately. “ I think I better get going now. Comm me back as soon as you can. Bye.

 

And with that, the hologram sputtered out once more, Cody snatching up his comm before more curious fingers could cause more damage. He swiped just in time, missing other grabbing hands. His preparedness had come in handy once again.

 

Briikase ? Yaiyai’yc?” He asked with condescension.

 

Kryze pursed her lips and Jango gave him a feral grin. “ Elek.

 

Jate. ” Arla said, her hand motioning to the door. “ Jii slanar. Cody and I have game night.”

 

Jango merely nodded, following as their buir marched towards the door. Kryze lingered, a nervous smile sitting small on her lips. “May I stay?”

 

Cody shrugged, it wasn’t his decision to make. As long as Arla didn’t gloat for too long about absolutely demolishing him in a game of sabacc like she had last time, he was fine with just about anything having to do with game night. Arla smiled widely. “ Gedet’ye .”




-




Cody slipped out of Arla’s room quietly, a flashing message in the HUD display of his buy’ce alerting him to Obi-Wan’s impending arrival. It didn’t matter that Kryze was making heart eyes at Arla or that Jango was busy challenging Vizsla to the latest competition of physical strength he’d made up just to satiate his need for an ego trip. No, none of that meant anything to Cody. If the three of them were going to poke into his business and accuse him of collusion, well Cody was too petty for that. The or'diniie would have to learn of their prophesied one’s arrival the old fashioned way.

 

Obi-Wan and Quinlan had sent notice that they had left the jettise temple five day-cycles ago, stirring a frenzy in preparations of the yaim’alor . That wasn’t Cody’s concern though, his eyes and ears were open, his informants were snooping, all was good. The change in any of the clans’ allegiances would reach him before the word had even fully gotten out. Obi-Wan had asked for a comprehensive view of Manda’yaim and her politics, so he was going to get one. 

 

If this was how adate wanted to determine their new Mand’alor , Cody would make sure the facts were presented straight enough and that the job would be well done. It didn’t matter that he was biased towards the Haat Mando’ade considering he was part of the most inner circle. That just came with the territory of Obi-Wan asking him for help. He’d get what he’d get, but it would be the best Cody could offer.

 

The Mando’ade news cycle had latched onto Obi-Wan’s impassioned speech spoken under the influence of a drug that should have killed him with great enthusiasm. The New Mandalorians were already barely tolerated due to the insistent preaching and erasure of any aspect of their culture deemed ‘too violent’. But this had caused a stirring against them. There were rumors circulating and speculations on going. The Mando’ade were ready to align themselves with whomever Obi-Wan deemed the most fit to rule in a heartbeat. Their level of trust of the prophecy was intense and Cody didn’t know what to make of it.

 

It didn’t matter that the system had largely been an elective monarchy, with the people backing their favored candidate when they went head to head in a fight in the arena. No, this time anything Obi-Wan said would be taken as law and implemented accordingly. The Mand’alor ’s line was usually hereditary, the ad having been raised for the role was an easy choice for the public. That was Jango’s claim. He was supposed to be Mand’alor if not for Kyr’tsad and their challenge for the throne, Vizsla the one chosen for the job. Kryze was just trying to overthrow the whole system by using it to put herself in charge before burning it to the ground.

 

Whoever became the Mand’alor would be leading Manda’yaim into its next great era, championing whatever foes had been spoken of in the prophecy. Juaan te Mand’alor verd kemir. Tome dral bah kotyc, rohakar te prudiise . Cody remembered the haunting words with uncanny clarity, the cold feeling of the implication washing over him.

 

Whatever enemy that lurked in the shadows would be revealed and oppose Obi-Wan sooner or later. Cody dreaded the thought of any power that could possibly be a threat to both the jettise and the Mando’ade .

 

Cody’s HUD display blinked, startling him out of his brooding. Haar'chak , Jango had questions.

 

Ever since it had been discovered that Cody had been hiding a connection to Obi-Wan, everyone around him had gotten wary and investigative, trying to figure out what else he knew. Jango had been exceptionally hover-y, keeping an eye on Cody at all times. Apparently, now was one of those times and he was confused enough to reach out and demand answers out right.

 

Cody .” Jango's irritated voice rang through the comm channel.

 

Elek.

 

Vaii gar slana ?”

 

Cody contemplated the question before deciding it was best not to lie. “To greet the new arrivals.”

 

Kriff. ” He heard a thumping and the sound of running footsteps. The whole welcoming committee would be alerted within minutes, Cody broke out into a jog, determined to get there before the majority of the crowds formed. All of the clan leaders and political officials of the three factions were gathered in the yaim’alor , the expanse building housing enough rooms for most of them. With the amount of nothing productive that had been happening for the past few week-cycles, Cody was sure most everyone would be gathered.

 

Why didn’t you say anything ?” Jango huffed into the line that had gone static.

 

“Great question.” Cody retorted, shutting off the line of communication as he rounded the corner towards the landing pads, a ship closing in from the distance. It grew closer and closer, Cody getting the distinct feeling that something big was looming. The me’sen approached rapidly, the engines getting louder and louder as the jettise transportation finally arrived at the landing strip.

 

A crowd was gathering, onlookers, journalists, and the official greeting party alike. He pushed past them, making his way to the front and as close as possible to the landing craft. He shot a look over his shoulder to see Jango’s silhouette appear further behind them all, Vizsla running after him, and Krzye already mixed with the crowd.

 

The me’sen came to a complete landing, the loading ramp opening with a hiss as steam escaped the broken seal. He heard hushed whispers as a tall, robed figure, their form backlit by the internal lighting came forward. It was the Master Jetti that had been separated from Kryze and Obi-Wan. Master Jinn, Cody recalled. Tall, carefree, and serene to a fault.

 

Behind him followed Obi-Wan, his head turned and talking to Quinlan who bounded down the ramp behind him, their laughter carrying over to where Cody stood. Another jetti stepped from the me’sen , his graying hair pulled back into a low ponytail and his hand coming to pull Quinlan back from where he’d been about to kick Obi-Wan.

 

Cody started to walk forward, approaching the jettise carefully, noticing that Jinn watched him with jai’galaar like eyes. Obi-Wan saw him, a large smile appearing on his face as he ran forward to envelop Cody in a hug.

 

“What the kriff is happening? Any updates?” He whispered through his teeth, a smile still decorating his lips.

 

Cody smiled underneath his buy’ce , Obi-Wan was wonderful at mixing his diplomacy with ploys. “You get the nice guest rooms.”

 

“Not what I meant.” Obi-Wan hissed as he pulled away, his posture and body language giving off the illusion no words of importance were being exchanged, only two friends reuniting.

 

“Kryze’s less aggressive with her moral righteousness.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded imperceptibly. “Good for her.”

 

His mind flashed to Arla. “It might be because she has human connection now.”

 

There was a strategic throat clearing as the looming shadow of Jinn appeared before them, he looked disappointed to be there. “Hello.”

 

Su cuy’gar. ” Cody replied steadily, the other jettise coming to the little huddle that had formed. Cody knew it was only seconds until the rest of the Mando’ade descended upon them.

 

“This is Master Tholme,” Obi-Wan gestured to the man who seemed to have some semblance of control over Quinlan. Truly an admirable trait to have. “He’s Quinlan’s master.”

 

Cody began to formulate a response, but never got the chance for Kryze in all her unnatural speed, had planted herself next to them with a welcoming smile, the others trickling in behind her. “ Olarom bah Aloriya.




Chapter Text



Obi-Wan stood back on the platform he’d had a fiery landing on not too long ago, desperately wondering what the Mandalorians saw in the Jedi padawan who’d delivered a fire hazard and then promptly dipped out. Somehow, there was still unwavering trust in his abilities to decide the fate of the Mand’alor .

 

Cody stood still, helmet trained dead ahead. “ Su cuy’gar .”

 

If Obi-Wan was remembering correctly, the greeting had another implication. It made him want to smile that Cody seemed dubious about the fact Master Jinn had survived long enough to return to the planet.

 

Master Jinn nodded politely and Master Tholme strolled over to his side, a hand holding Quinlan in place. Obi-Wan could see the energy vibrating off of his force signature.

 

“This is Master Tholme, he’s Quinlan’s Master.” Obi-Wan pointed to the gray haired Jedi and Cody gave no response. His lack of movement causing Obi-Wan to feel slightly nervous. This habit of the Mandalorians made it hard to guess their thoughts, the only body language he could ever pick up on was explicitly made by the armored Mandalorian.

 

Satine strode up to them, her long sleeved dress of dark blue not billowing in the wind. Obi-Wan noticed the lack of elaborate headdress, a staple in her wardrobe. It seemed to have been replaced by nothing more than a bejeweled headband. 

 

Olarom bah Aloriya. ” She said with a smile. The growing crowd behind her edging closer and closer to their little group.

 

“Hello there.” Obi-Wan greeted, unsure of what to say with so many eyes trained on him. One gaze seemed to call out to him, and Obi-Wan found himself staring into the t-visor of a mando dressed in blue and gray armor. They stepped closer.

 

“Shall we get you and your companions situated?” Cody asked, a hint directed to the crowd around them.

 

“Whatever you see fit.” Obi-Wan agreed.

 

“I’m sure you are tired from your trip.” Satine offered sympathetically.

 

Quinlan snorted. “Actually no, I feel like I could run for hours.”

 

“That’s not a new development.” Obi-Wan teased quietly.

 

Almec, Satine’s stoic advisor, stood behind her looking slightly disgusted by Quinlan’s interjection. Obi-Wan stopped himself from asking the old man what his problem was.

 

“Right after we get our things put away, I’d like to request a meeting for Obi-Wan and the faction leaders. He needs to be properly introduced before any of the real decision process can begin.” Master Tholme said coolly, eyes sharp and scanning the crowd around them. He had a distrust of the mission as a whole, being the tipping opinion in the argument for hitching a ride with their acquaintances from the diner.

 

The Jedi Council had deep fears that no matter the choice Obi-Wan made, that there would be chaos and anarchy, a complete dissolve of the government if even a few disputed his decision. Obi-Wan secretly had the same fears, but his choice was going to be hinged on what the majority of the population wanted. Idealism could only win so many battles.

 

“That can be arranged.” The mando who’d caught Obi-Wan’s eye earlier responded, the modulated voice sounding carefully blank. Obi-Wan could have sworn they were staring straight at him and repressed a shiver trying to run down his spine.

 

Cody nodded once. “ Jettise , come with me.”

 

Quinlan hoisted the two bags gripped in each hand, casually launching one of them at Obi-Wan. He caught it without a second thought, but Tholme shook his head at Quinlan.

 

“Now is not the time.” He muttered quietly. Quinlan gave Obi-Wan a dead look, complaining across their bond.

 

‘Does this man not realize I got all my eccentricities from him?’

 

He turned to follow Cody. ‘Quin, some of your habits were more nature than nurture.’

 

‘For some reason, I doubt that. I could've been raised to be posh and perfect like you.’

 

Obi-Wan almost snorted. ‘I employ manners when necessary, that hardly makes me posh or perfect.’

 

Master Jinn leaned over Obi-Wan, a quiet whisper falling from lips that never moved. “Pay attention, padawan.”

 

Obi-Wan bit the inside of his cheek and nodded, turning the brunt of his attention back to Cody who halfheartedly pointed out some metal work adorning a wall to Master Tholme.

 

Master Tholme seemed extremely uninterested, but kept asking simple questions to Cody whose shoulders looked to be getting tighter. He was not cut out for this job. “So this palace,” Tholme asked. “How old is it?”

 

“Centuries. It was rebuilt generations ago.” Cody answered. “Hasn’t been successfully bombed since.”

 

That shut up Tholme real quickly, his eyebrows combining with his hairline in record time. “Oh.”

 

“Indeed.” Cody agreed and then spun around to face the few trailing Mandalorians who had followed them rather far into the palace. “Here’s your stop.”

 

That seemed to do the trick, the few stragglers thinning out and disappearing back the way they’d come. Cody watched expectantly til he was satisfied with the distance between them. He raised an arm and pointed to the staircase they stood in front of.

 

“There are four rooms prepared for your stay. Look for the first four doors on the right. There should be a yellow screen on each of the keypads for you to program in a door code.”

 

Master Jinn nodded. “Thank you.”

 

“I call the biggest one!” Quinlan exclaimed.

 

“They’re all the same size and layout.”

 

Quinlan frowned at the monotonous rebuke. “Yes, but-”

 

“No.” Cody interrupted. “The only thing unique about the room will be the security code you choose.”

 

“Why’d you have to kill the mood?”

 

Obi-Wan stifled a laugh, Quinlan’s complaining always gave him another reason to pay attention to his friend’s hyperactive musings. They provided so much entertainment.

 

Master Tholme eyed Cody before tentatively making his way up the stairs, followed closely by Quinlan and Master Jinn. Obi-Wan started to follow, but a gloved hand on his bicep pulled him back.

 

“We need to talk before you see them.” His friend murmured in a hushed whisper.

 

“Who do I choose?” He asked, his voice barely loud enough for himself to hear.

 

“That’s why you’re here.” Even through the modulator in his helmet, Obi-Wan could hear the exasperation.

 

“Fair point. What’s the news-cycle saying?”

 

“Do I look like someone who reads the news?”

 

Obi-Wan bit his lip. “Yes?”

 

Cody sighed. “It’s unfortunate. Sometimes I wish to be illiterate.”

 

“Are you going to help me or not?”

 

Obi-Wan suddenly found himself holding a data chip, a rather discrete one he might have mistaken for a spare ship part if he hadn’t thought twice. Cody pushed Obi-Wan’s fingers to curl around it, keeping the data chip safe in his fist.

 

“Read the overview before they force you into that meeting.” Cody stressed. “The rest of it will be important later.”

 

“What’s on it?” Obi-Wan asked carefully, skeptical to the contents based on Cody’s stiff demeanor. Was this exchange illegal? Who was Cody hiding from?

 

“My informants surveyed public opinion. I also maybe stole insider data on the practices of Kry’tsad politicians. The files should be updated accordingly.”

 

Obi-Wan stared at the conspicuous device resting in his hand, all of this had the power to determine the fate of the Mandalorians and Cody had just handed it over. “When do I need to speak with the leaders?”

 

“When one of them gets impatient and breaks.” Cody said with a shrug. “You probably have half an hour at most though.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded stiffly and drifted towards the stairs, throwing a look over his shoulder to see that Cody was already far down the hall, his figure retreating rapidly. Obi-Wan heaved in a deep breath and straightened his shoulders. If all went wrong, he could just flip a coin and call it a day.

 

Quinlan ambushed him as he was programming in a string of numbers into the security panel of the last open room. He jumped as Quinlan spoke up. “So what was that all about?”

 

“Just asking some questions.”

 

Quinlan grabbed the door frame and swung into Obi-Wan’s room, the metal door sliding shut right after he had flung himself clear of it. “Innocent questions?”

 

Obi-Wan shot Quinlan a perturbed look and a frantic hand gesture, but Quinlan just shrugged.

 

“I already checked. No bugs, no cameras, and the walls are almost sound proof. I’d have to SCREAM if I want to be heard.” He emphasized with an ear shattering shout.

 

“QUIT IT!” He got an angry response accompanied by a few well timed pounds on the wall.

 

“And that was Master Tholme.” Quinlan said with a mock bow, looking up at Obi-Wan with a goofy smile on his face.

 

“I heard.” Obi-Wan settled his bag of stuff on the empty dresser, kicking out the stubby chair oriented in front of an equally stubby looking desk. “You can stand.”

 

“If you insist.”

 

Obi-Wan pulled out the data chip he’d stashed in the front pocket of his robe. “I do. Now hand me my data pad.”

 

Quinlan leaned over to the dresser, rearranging the items in Obi-Wan’s suitcase until it looked like a wild animal had ravaged through it. “Here you go.”

 

Obi-Wan accepted it without any comment, deciding that focusing on the mess Quinlan had made would not do his emotional state any good. The data chip popped in and the screen began to load an entire archive of files.

 

Quinlan let out a low whistle. “Looks like you’ve got a lot of work cut out for you.”

 

“Quin, you are also part of this operation.”

 

He shook his head violently. “Nuh-uh, don’t drag me in. I’m only here to be moral support.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed as Quinlan flopped onto the skinny bed, landing with an ‘umph’. He scrolled through the expansive list of files, finally finding the one that Cody had flagged as ‘READ FIRST’.

 

“Here goes nothing.” He clicked on the button and was immediately rewarded with a barrage of words and pictures.

 

“He’s organized but in a chaotic way.” Quinlan noted, holding himself up on the back of Obi-Wan’s chair as he leaned over from the bed. “Oh force, he has way too much information on these people.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, contemplating the security footage images of Pre Vizsla carrying one of the biggest blasters he had ever seen. How Cody had gotten his hands on it, Obi-Wan didn’t want to know.

 

“That man must be jacked.”

 

He huffed in return. “Quin, he’s a known terrorist.”

 

“Are you sure?” Quinlan asked skeptically.

 

Obi-Wan merely pointed to the rest of the overview file on the man. “His organization is called Death Watch.”

 

“Yeah, but it sounds cool.”

 

“Okay, moving on.” He scrolled some more, stopping when Satine’s face came into view.

 

“Hey!’ Quinlan exclaimed. “You know her.”

 

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes and began to read the short biography listed. “Leader and figurehead of the New Mandalorians. Pacifists against any form of violence. Has proposed the ban of most weapons and armor accessories.”

 

“She does realize that the entire culture is built off of the stuff she’s trying to ban, right?” Quinlan asked, flopping himself off the bed and onto the hard floor. “Tell me more.”

 

“Duchess Kryze is the head of Clan Kryze with only one surviving direct family member, her younger sister, Bo-Katan. She is a figure of much controversy.”

 

Quinlan snorted. “That’s just Cody saying he doesn’t like her but in a very nice way.”

 

“I think we can both agree that he’s trying his best.” Obi-Wan chastised, finger continuing to swipe past carefully concealed gripes and complaints, things he already knew. “Here we go, the True Mandalorians.”

 

“Oh!” Quinlan sprung up from his spot on the floor. “Cody’s famous brother!”

 

“Jango Fett.” Obi-Wan read out, intentionally not looking at the picture provided for too long, the dark eyes and devilish smile sending a storm of butterflies to flutter around his stomach. “Leader of the True Mandalorians. First one to claim the title of Mand’alor , claiming inheritance from his adopted father, Jaster Mereel.”

 

“I’ve heard that name before … ” Quinlan’s brows furrowed together in thought.

 

“He revolutionized the Resol’nare into the widely accepted Supercommando Codex.” Obi-Wan said offhandedly, eyes scanning for the next tidbit of information to stick out to him. “It seems Jango was expected to be the next Mand’alor .”

 

“Sucks to be him.” Quinlan said with a snort. “He’s gotta fight to get the job, well … can you fight a pacifist?”

 

“I-” Obi-Wan was unsure of how to answer, surprised about the actual thought behind the question when he was interrupted by a concise knock on the door.

 

“I’ll get it.” Quinlan volunteered, waving his hand so the door slid open with aid from the force.

 

Master Jinn stood in the doorway, blocking out the light coming in from the hall with his tall and imposing figure. “It is time.”

 

Quinlan sprung up from the floor immediately to block the view of Obi-Wan frantically removing the data chip and shoving it deep into his inner tunic. Perhaps they should’ve thought of the fact they were viewing sensitive information before inviting someone else to see them. Qui-Gon watched with an expression of boredom, waiting patiently in the doorway until Obi-Wan and Quinlan had finished scrambling to get themselves together.

 

“Where to Master Jinn?” Obi-Wan inquired, ducking past Qui-Gon into the hall and almost running straight into Master Thomle.

 

“Stop looming Qui-Gon.” He sighed with irritation right as Quinlan elbowed his way past the human blockade.

 

“I’m just tall.” Qui-Gon responded smoothly. “And if you would please tell your padawan to stop using his elbows as weapons, it would be much appreciated.”

 

Quinlan shrunk in on himself with a sheepish smile. Obi-Wan knew he needed to redirect his Master’s attention before Qui-Gon condemned Quinlan for having elbows to begin with.

 

“Master, where are we headed?”

 

“Follow me.” Was all he got in response, the Jedi Master stepping to the front of the confused congregation with a swish of his long robes.

 

Qui-Gon led the impromptu parade down winding corridors and broad hallways, getting them turned around and making loops every few minutes. Obi-Wan suspected he was trying to use his force sensing abilities to find their way to wherever the destination was. Obi-Wan let himself get lost in the movements, slipping into the beginnings of a moving meditation, the force around him subdued, but humming with anticipation.

 

He let the energy swirl around him, a strange buzz drawing in his attention. The flow of force almost seemed like a heartbeat, pulling in Obi-Wan like a tide. He turned towards the source, following the whispering in the force with no thought, forgetting where he was and why.

 

His feet carried him into one of the brighter hallways, lined with durasteel enforced windows. A set of double doors were slid open, the noise of quiet chatter and phrases in Mando’a reaching his ears as the heartbeat rhythm got stronger and stronger.

 

Shabuir !” Came an angry cry from the room. Obi-Wan blinked once, then twice. His head swiveled around as his surrounding came back to him, a curious Quinlan right behind him. The two Masters stood further back, watching him with intense and guarded eyes.

 

‘Are you okay?’ Quinlan asked hesitantly through their bond.

 

‘Do you know what just happened?’

 

‘It looked like you went into a trance, broke away from the confused little conga line and became our new, stoic tour guide.’ Quinlan supplied, tiptoeing closer to the open doors.

 

‘That’s … new.’ Obi-Wan repressed a shudder, trying not to remember the steady rhythm of the force and instead focusing on the task ahead.

 

“Hey, check this out!” Quinlan called to Master Tholme. “They’ve got beverages!”

 

Master Tholme perked up in interest as did the Mandalorians waiting inside the large conference room. Obi-Wan wondered if there had possibly been a better way to introduce their presence than Quinlan’s observation skills being overheard.

 

The force around Obi-Wan picked up again, pushing through his conscious mind to lap against his mental shields in rhythmic waves. He heard a loud intake of breath, a gasp perhaps, before the force went silent once more, cut off completely from whatever had possessed it before.

 

Obi-Wan hoped the effects of the experience hadn’t been noticeable as he followed Quinlan into the room. Three groups all sat at different tables all located against one of the walls of the room, the final table empty and closest to the door. Obi-Wan drifted towards it, sure it had been set up as a curdosey for the Jedi visitors. The rest of the room’s inhabitants watched expectantly, about half of the eyes behind helmets.

 

He sat down slowly at the center of the table, Quinlan quickly filing in at his side, a cup of some mystery liquid clutched in his hands.

 

“What a wild ride.” He murmured. “And it hasn’t even begun.”

 

Obi-Wan was saved from having to respond when an elderly woman, the same who had announced his fate dictated by ancient Mandalorian legend to the whole Jedi Council, strolled to the center of the room. The tables, with about a half dozen members present each, said nothing as she approached Obi-Wan. Master Jinn skirted around her and settled next to Master Tholme.

 

Olarom tracyn solus .” She gave a subtle bow of her head which Obi-Wan immediately returned much to her amusement. “Today is not the start of the tests and trails to single out the next Mand’alor , but have no fear, their abilities will be showcased soon enough.”

 

Obi-Wan wanted to gulp, but held her gaze and his shoulders steady.

 

“Today we will properly introduce ourselves and maybe,” Her eyes glinted mischievously. “Engage in a little verbal sparring.”

 

Quinlan smiled in Obi-Wan’s peripheries. ‘You love to argue, this should be fun.’

 

‘It’s called debating.’ He corrected through their mental bond.

 

‘See, you just did it. We’re already having fun!’

 

Obi-Wan used all of the self discipline he had not to roll his eyes, instead focusing on the retreating Mandalorian. All three of the tables raised a hand held flag as soon as she took her seat and Obi-Wan was slightly taken aback before he realized the meaning of the action. 

 

His eyes darted between the tables, as he tried to keep his demeanor cool and collected. Eventually he focused on the table furthest to the right, the ones he had heard the least from since this whole fiasco had started.

 

Kry’tsad, jorhaa’ir.



Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan watched with a blank expression as the man he knew to be Pre Vizsla rose from his seat and came to stand in front of Obi-Wan. He smiled, showing too much teeth to be considered even close to friendly and gave a small bow. Obi-Wan nodded his head in return.

 

“Hello, Obi-Wan-”

 

Quinlan shook his head and waved his hand for Pre to stop as he quickly swallowed the sip of drink he’d been nursing. “No, no. Please refer to him as Kenobi.”

 

Quinlan sounded ridiculously professional even with a coat of mystery liquid, likely caff of some kind, on his top lip. He dragged his hand across his face and his voice took on an even more commanding timbre. “My client, my charge if you will, should be addressed with the utmost level of respect.”

 

Obi-Wan watched as the Mandalorians around the room gave nods of understanding and as Master Tholme dropped his head into his hands with a sigh. Quinlan volunteering to be Obi-Wan’s muscle had gone better than he had expected. The only ones likely to dispute it were the two Jedi Masters, but neither called them out.

 

“Of course, my apologies, Kenobi.” Pre said slowly, a question dancing behind his eyes.

 

“You may continue.” Obi-Wan responded, conspicuously elbowing Quinlan in retribution for the dramatic interruption.

 

“As I am sure you know by now, I am Pre Vizsla, Clan Vizsla, leader of the Kyr’tsad .”

 

“What is your claim to the throne? Tion’jor gar vercopaanir bah ganar te gai be Mand’alor ?” Obi-Wan spoke, realizing the words had not been deliberated. This tongue was loose and his words were sure even though his knowledge of Mando’a was barely enough to hold a conversation with.

 

Manda’yaim must be returned to our ancient roots, we must bring back the glory of the galactic crusaders and prove our worth!” Pre said with conviction.

 

“You speak of times past as a way to shape the future.” Obi-Wan noted.

 

Pre gave a single nod. “The ancestors will guide us to the glory and strength we so desire.”

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s been centuries, millennia even, since Mandalorians acted as raiders.”

 

“That is why we lose our way of life. Our blood is shed for less now, our name has less power than those who came before us.” Pre’s impassioned answer gained nods of agreeance from many of the others hovering at the edges of the room. His own table of Kyr’tsad was fully invested and supportive of all he had to say.

 

“Then tell me, why is it that you are terrorists?”

 

The room fell further into a hush than it already was, shock sprouted through the bond he shared with Quinlan. Maybe he shouldn't have started with that so early on.

 

“I merely follow in the footsteps of the warriors before me. The weak fall as the strong see fit and anyone who disagrees will not live to see the glorious legacy I create.” The words were spoken as if daring anyone who dared to challenge them would meet their end painfully.

 

He hummed disapprovingly. “Sometimes, nostalgia makes us foolish. And a bit too bloodthirsty.”

 

Pre grunted. “You think the hut’uunla New Mandalorians will be able to enforce their weak policies? Corruption will be rampant, moral ideologies will not save Kryze no matter how much she wishes it to.”

 

Satine stood abruptly, anger in her expression and a retort on her lips. Obi-Wan motioned for her to sit back down and turned his attention back to Vizsla. “I made no endorsement of the New Mandalorians the same as I have made no endorsement of you. I believe that what you say is true, but I also believe that the version of Manda’yaim you see is vastly different from the rest of us.”

 

“Our heritage is being discarded and burned.” Pre argued, he seemed to think Obi-Wan was ignoring all he had said.

 

“I’m going to stop you there.” Obi-Wan interrupted. “Your accusations hold weight, yet you refuse to look at your own actions and see your own faults. To truly bring the justice you so desire, you must evaluate what matters most of all.”

 

Quinlan nodded solemnly, his words easily tacked on the end of Obi-Wan’s reprimand. “Before you return to your seat, please give us your final statement.”

 

“My exercise my claim to the title of Mand’alor . I can not stand by while our honor and tradition is being stripped away in the name of a peace that will not last. Kryze wishes to crush our souls and destroy our identity while the Haat Mando’ade try to compromise, a tactic that is as lenient as it is weak.”

 

“Thank you for your time.” Obi-Wan said steadily, his mind reeling with all the new information he’d been given.

 

Satine was not happy with the slander Vizsla had just thrown on her name. Her pale complexion had turned rather red and her eyes warned of a murderous intent her pacifistic ideal would never let come to fruition. She rose once more from her seat, the sharp ends of her headdress looking more like potential weapons than they did a fashion accessory. It seemed that Obi-Wan would not have to ask for a volunteer this time around.

 

“Duchess Kryze.” Obi-Wan greeted her as she strolled up to his podium with an inordinate amount of control over her facial features and the pacing of her unhurried steps.

 

“Jedi Kenobi.” She responded levelly. “I am Duchess Satine Kryze, Clan Kryze, head of the New Mandalorians.”

 

The same question as before left his mouth before he had the time to consider. Perhaps the force was prompting the Mando’a he spoke, but the force around him was too cloudy to tell. “What is your claim to the throne? Tion’jor gar vercopaanir bah ganar te gai be Mand’alor ?” 

 

“I, as well as the rest of those who follow the path of pacifism, wish to usher in a great and prosperous era of peace for the inhabitants of Mandalore. I claim on my clan title, my bloodline, and the strength of my own will to shape a place of harmony out of the unrelenting mess around us.” Her voice was as cold as it was hard.

 

“Elaborate. What do you mean by ‘mess’?” Obi-Wan asked carefully, unsure if he was prepared to deal with this new version of Satine, she scared him.

 

“The fighting instigated by criminals such as Pre Vizsla has wracked our planet for too long. The planet’s surface bears the scars of past battles and the people do as well. The disharmony and instability of our collective conscience is terrible. Violence has only led to pain.”

 

Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, absorbing Satine’s self righteous but well spoken words. “And to achieve this stability you erode the culture of the people you wish to rule, what do you have to say?”

 

“I will do what I must.”

 

“Duchess,” Obi-Wan stressed her title. “Your ideals wreck havoc on the people you wish to protect. I will ask you again, what do you have to say? Any explanation?”

 

“It is the Mandalorian way to adapt. The New Mandalorians see that the time has come to give up our reverence of the past and move in a new direction.”

 

“This new direction?”

 

Satine hesitated. “Abolish the ways of old, start anew.”

 

“That is cultural genocide.” Jango Fett spoke up from where he sat ramrod straight at the center of his table. His helmet was still in place on his head, while most of those around him had forgone it in favor of sipping on the caff Quinlan had just chugged.

 

His tone had a serious undercurrent, turning all of the attention away from Satine and onto him. Cody, a cup of caff held to his lips, slowly raised his cup higher so it might hide the smile spreading across his face.

 

“Jango Fett.” Obi-Wan spoke directly at the man with as much neutrality as he could muster. “Please wait your turn to speak.”

 

“Nah, he’s got a point.” Quinlan cut in, dropping the cup he’d been spinning around with in the force. “Her description technically fits the bill.”

 

“Quin.” Obi-Wan sighed. “He might know what he’s talking about, but Satine has the floor.”

 

Quinlan grumbled and Obi-Wan started to speak again. “I cannot speak for everyone, but-”

 

“Actually, you can.” Quinlan interrupted with a smile.

 

“It’s true.” Cody agreed with a nod.

 

Obi-Wan ignored them both. “Your plan to erase and eradicate identities is widely disputed, why have you not changed your stance.”

 

“There is no halfway point that won’t be corroded immediately. We must take the leap with no hesitation and no guilt. To fight a disease you must strike at its core.”

 

The analogy of culture to sickness made Obi-Wan’s gut twist. Unfortunately, Qui-Gon seemed to be agreeing with it. His Master’s interest in the New Mandalorian doctrine was growing. “I- a disease?” He got no response and instead cleared his throat, intent on ending this most recent talk. 

 

“Duchess Kryze, you fail to recognize the suffering that follows in the wake of your idealism. The adaptability of the Mandalorian people is to rise up in the face of oppression. Your policies might do a select few good, but the majority will count the days til you fall. I would not count on the peace you crave to save you.”

 

“Please give your final statement.” Quinlan said a little too cheerfully. “And then return to your seat.”

 

“I represent the people who have chosen nonviolent action. We have been silenced too long, but now the planet and her people need to shed the weight of our violent past. We must build bridges of diplomacy and kindness, not on the blood and bodies of ones caught in the crossfire.”

 

“Thank you for your time.” Obi-Wan said, trying to ignore the frantic motions Qui-Gon and Quinlan were exchanging behind his back. Unfortunately for him, the silent communication was being voiced aloud. 

 

“If you will excuse us for just a moment.” Qui-Gon said steadily. “We must discuss the points we have just heard. Take a ten minute recess and we will return shortly.”

 

That was the end of that, Obi-Wan never got the chance to dispute, Qui-Gon lifting him by the scruff of his tunic and Quinlan nudging him along. Master Tholme didn’t seem too excited to join them, casting a bored look as he left the room and the growing number of voices inside.

 

“What-” Obi-Wan began to demand.

 

“The Pacifists.” Qui-Gon stated.

 

“Yes? The New Mandalorians?”

 

“They are the ones.” His Master decided. Obi-Wan rolled his eyes.

 

“Master. First off, I haven’t heard from all the groups yet. And second, you already bought the propaganda?”

 

Qui-Gon’s eyes narrowed. “I do not see how you dismiss it as propaganda.”

 

Tholme sighed. “You peace loving freak. This isn’t your decision to make.” A smile then ghosted across his lips. “And besides, the Death Watch made some excellent points.”

 

Qui-Gon’s eyes got narrower, his glare deepening more than Obi-Wan thought possible. “You wouldn’t.”

 

“Try me.”

 

Quinlan looked elated to be witnessing the next installment of Master Tholme breaking Master Jinn’s bubble of serenity, a rather common occurrence for the strength of discipline Qui-Gon possessed. Obi-Wan decided it might be best to slip away.

 

He ducked around Quinlan and slowly backed toward the partially opened door, hoping that Quinlan could keep the two Masters off his back for at least a little while. Apparently that was too much to hope, and Qui-Gon called out to him. “Where are you going?”

 

“Back in.”

 

“We still need to discuss.” Qui-Gon said with a frown.

 

“Master, you say ‘follow the will of the force’ often, am I correct?”

 

“Padawan.” Qui-Gon said with a sigh. “Why do you bring this up now?”

 

“The force wills me away from this group huddle.”

 

Master Tholme snorted. “Same here.”

 

Qui-Gon’s force signature was slowly exuding more anger as he looked between the two of them. “We will talk about this later. And Tholme, don’t get in the way of my teaching.”

 

Obi-Wan gulped, eyes darting to the floor as he scrambled as gracefully as possible back into the room. When he looked up, he was greeted with the sight of Cody lounging in his chair, poking at the flat cushioning.

 

“The view up here is tremendous.” He said blandly, fixing Obi-Wan with a curious look.

 

“I can see everyone's flaws.” Obi-Wan agreed, kicking out Quinlan’s chair and taking a slouching seat. He let his head fall against the table as he stared at the now horizontal Cody. “Why have you commandeered my seat? I’m not complaining, but I am curious.”

 

“I wanted to know.”

 

Obi-Wan flopped back into a socially acceptable seating position in his chair, lifting his head from the hard table. “I think my backup was not well planned out.”

 

“No, no. Quinlan is a wonderful choice.”

 

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Not what I meant, but thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”

 

Cody nodded, propping his legs up on Obi-Wan’s chair casually. “Are you ready for round three?”

 

“I expect your bloodline to be as wonderful to communicate with as you are.” Obi-Wan bit out teasingly.

 

“I hope to not disappoint.” Came the captivating voice of one Jango Fett. Obi-Wan stiffened and turned his head to see Jango with his helmet hooked under one arm staring at the two of them with a smirk on his face.

 

“Oh, you won’t.” Obi-Wan regretted the word immediately as they left his mouth, watching Jango’s eyes widen slightly.

 

Cody snorted. “So what the kriff was up with your little escape?”

 

Obi-Wan turned his attention away from Jango, intentionally not focusing on him as he pulled up a chair to make a little triangle. “I can’t discuss that privatized information with you.”

 

“So the tall one has chosen a side?” Cody inferred. 

 

“Master Jinn has expressed his opinion.”

 

Jango leaned towards Obi-Wan. “Have you expressed yours?” The smile on his lips caused Obi-Wan’s heart to begin to pick up, but he steadily ignored it.

 

“Playing for favorites?”

Quinlan arrived in front of the table, two cups of caff held out. “Obes, take one of these you're gonna need it.” And then he began to address the two loitering Mandalorians. “Get out of my seat.”

 

Cody huffed and stood from the chair, taking the left over caff out of Quinlan’s hand as he made his way back to the True Mandalorians table. Quinlan watched in dismay, ignoring Jango’s subsequent retrieval in favor of sputtering. “I can not believe- what a- that was just rude.”

 

“The rudest.” Obi-Wan agreed. Waiting for the two Masters to slip back into their seats before gesturing to Jango.

 

Jango stepped up, his movements slow and deliberate, Obi-Wan couldn’t help but watch with too much interest. He scolded himself for his growing fascination with the man and tried to pull himself into an objective mindset.

 

“Jango Fett.” He greeted.

 

Jango stood, shoulders back and eyes trained on Obi-Wan. “I am Jango Fett, Clan Mereel, and leader of the Haat Mando’ade .” His lips ticked up slightly. “ Jatne vod .”

 

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow at the light barb. “What is your claim to the throne? Tion’jor gar vercopaanir bah ganar te gai be Mand’alor ?”

 

“I wish to save the soul of Manda’yaim , our beautiful planet is being torn apart by those either too afraid or too invested in the associations our culture has. The helm of the Mand’alor should go to someone with the strength and will to lead as well as the compassion and integrity necessary for bringing our people together. I advocate for my spot on the throne because I, and those who support me, see that we must take the action we desire.”

 

Obi-Wan was impressed by the articulation Jango possessed, already finding himself agreeing with the man. “Is it true you were to be the next Mand’alor ?”

 

“Yes. My buir , Jaster Mereel, was the last Mando’ad to hold the title.”

 

At the mention of Jaster Mereel’s name, the force tugged painfully. Obi-Wan’s eyes flew to the stone faced man sitting beside Cody. The last Mand’alor. Obi-Wan glanced back at Jango, bile rising in his throat at the thought of Jango fighting tooth and nail for the title he was meant to inherit.

 

“Have you felt it?” The elderly woman who appointed him to the head of the congregation asked excitedly. “Does Manda tell you of the dar’mand’alor ?”

 

Obi-Wan swallowed. “ Elek .”

 

She grinned at him in amazement. “ Vercopa Manda kot an .”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Cody blinked a few times, hoping the rapid eye movements would somehow clear up any mental confusion. Jaster, his buir , had been the last Mand’alor . After the disaster that had been Galdarrian, Jaster had passed the mantle to his heir, Jango. But before Jango could take his rightful gai , Vizsla had stepped in and made a claim. Cody had wanted Jango to disregard the wrongful assertion, but his vod , ever the strategic genius, had explained that the Kry’tsad would never bow to him when their leader remained unbeaten.

 

At the mention of Jaster’s name, Obi-Wan’s body had lurched unnaturally, a strong pull he could not have accomplished on his own. The jetti had tried to pass it off, but everyone had seen the sign of the Manda’jorad. Obi-Wan looked back at Jango, and the expression on his face bore a striking resemblance to the stoic and powerful expressions carved into statues of the many past ruyot'mand’alore that had stood the test of time in ancient mausoleums. The look passed as Obi-Wan drew a breath in, but Cody was sure he hadn’t imagined it.

 

“Have you felt it?” Blay, the self appointed instructor of the prophetic one asked. “Does Manda tell you of the ruyot’mand’alor ?”

 

Obi-Wan’s grip of the edge of the table tightened. “ Elek.

 

She smiled. “ Vercopa Manda kot an .”

 

Cody nodded his head in agreement, the rest of the Mando’ade following along with the traditional response to the blessing. Obi-Wan’s attention had turned from the collective affirmation and onto Quinlan who was slowly removing one of the gaan hukaatire he constantly wore. He set it down gently on the table and Obi-Wan nodded. 

 

Cody guessed they were having another one of their silent conversations. Whatever they were conversing about though seemed to come to a conclusion rather quickly, with Obi-Wan turning back to address Jango once more.

 

Jango for his part didn’t look as unsettled as Cody was sure he was as Obi-Wan spoke again. “I apologize for the interruption. Can you please describe to me the biggest problems you wish to fix?”

 

His line of questioning was already off to a better start than with the other two and Cody felt his mouth settle into a small smile. Jango’s position was the easiest to accept and Obi-Wan had no criticisms to voice at the beginning. Either than or he was still shaken over the incident right before.

 

Cody’s eyes drifted over to Quinlan, the jetti was using his hand without the gaan hukaatir to discreetly touch Obi-Wan’s hand spread out on the table. The kiffar’s eyes turned white, the sudden disappearance of his pupils a direct result of the skin contact. Obi-Wan didn’t have any reaction, continuing to listen to whatever Jango had been saying while Quinlan’s eyelids were fluttering in a rapid and inhuman way.

 

“-acceptance of the Supercommando Codex. Reform has begun, but it just needs to be fully instated to be effective to the degree it needs to be.”

 

“I agree.” Obi-Wan said casually and completely at odds with the twitch Quinlan had picked up. “It was a good read and the code of honor and ethics creates a balance that is desperately needed.”

 

Jango blinked. “You’ve read the Supercommando Codex?”

 

“He’s weird like that. Into learning about political ideologies.” Quinlan spoke up, his voice level and body language suggesting he hadn’t just had epilepsy, even though there was an undercurrent of shakiness. Cody noted he wasn't touching Obi-Wan and his hand was covered once more. “Didn’t you try to get me to read it?”

 

“I did.” Obi-Wan sounded exasperated and slightly disappointed.

 

“I refuse to be an intellectual.”

 

“With the other claims made to the title of Mand’alor , how do you respond to the questioning of your legitimacy?” Obi-Wan had moved on from Quinlan to Jango, the jetti only looked slightly unconvinced.

 

“This is the way. I will only assert my worthiness and hope Manda agrees.”

 

Cody rolled his eyes. Jango was a Osik jorhaa’ie at ka’rta and somehow had the audacity to act like he didn’t have a dart board with Pre Vizsla’s face glued on it. Jango had actually beaten his own record recently, splitting the dart that had already been going through Vizsla’s paper eye.

 

“Will this air of compromise carry over into your politics?”

 

“Collaboration, not compromise if I am to be Mand’alor . I will not sacrifice what is right for the majority to please the wants of a few.”

 

“Your words are so inspiring.” Quinlan said with a straight face, his eyes boring a hole into Jango. “So moving, dare I say … inspirational.”

 

Cody did his best in refraining from choking on his drink while Obi-Wan nodded seriously. “Write that down.”

 

Quinlan whipped out a data pad that shouldn’t have been able to hide in his tunics that way it had and proceeded to begin typing. Cody was sure Obi-Wan’s command had been sarcastic, but the dynamic between the two of them was getting more and more baffling. Jaster nudged Cody with his foot, a message. Cody tapped back twice, he knew his buir was also questioning the actions of the jetti .

 

This choosing of the Mand’alor was already off to a strange start. Usually the competitors would have gone to the stabbing by now. Cody had to admit that he liked this way better, less stress for the continuity of his life, but the rules to the game had completely changed. Perhaps Obi-Wan was doing this on purpose, a test of sorts. That was no issue though, Cody knew Jango was nothing if not patient when there was a prize to win.

 

“Fett,” Obi-Wan breezed past the strange occurrence and immediately continued to question Jango. “If you would, please give your final statement.”

 

“I am a Haat Mando’ad and have sworn to the Resol’nare , vows I never plan to break. I believe that Manda’yaim needs to evolve, but we must build on the strong foundation already established. There is no need to scrap our beautiful culture, and there is also no need to regress to the violence of times past. We need to be looking to the future and attend to the needs of our people.”

 

“Beautifully put.” Quinlan complimented, not looking up from the data pad as he typed at a speed Cody did not think was possible. Were all the jettise like this naturally, or had Quinlan’s caff finally set in fully?

 

“I would like to thank you all for your presence and patience. If you have any questions about the contents of this meeting, Quinlan will be done writing in-”

 

“30 minutes- eh I can simplify more, right? Make that 15 minutes for a mostly comprehensive synopsis.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded. “What he said. This council is now dismissed.”

 

Those were the magic words for the jettise , the tall one rising to tower over his sitting counterparts and slipping towards the exit. The other jetti Master followed after him, heaving a big sigh that rivaled even Jaster’s disappointed reactions. 

 

The other mando’ade stood hesitantly, already unsure of the entire process that had just taken place. Cody waited til most of the New Mandaloirans had left and were trailed by the Kry’tsad before he wandered up to the leftover jettise.

 

Quinlan was still furiously typing and Obi-Wan was busy cracking his neck. The opposition in their actions was extremely disconcerting to Cody and he watched warily until Obi-Wan’s pale eyes landed on him.

 

“Can I help you?”

 

“Yes.” Cody didn’t give anymore context, only moving to pull up a seat in front of Obi-Wan.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Yeah.” Cody agreed. Obi-Wan huffed, realizing they weren't going to get anywhere.

 

“Hey Cody, think quick.” Quinlan exclaimed, startling Cody who threw up his hands thinking a scalding cup of caff was due for his unprotected face. “Not like that, silly.” Quinlan chastised as if the reaction he'd had wasn't a true worry to have around someone with the same chaotic energy as Quinlan. “I want you to recap each political viewpoint in five words or less. First up, Death Watch. Go.”

 

Cody flinched, the barrage of words making him note not to mess with Quinlan when he was concentrating. The verbal whiplash was not his favorite. “Uh, Death Watch. They- terrorists hung up on heritage?”

 

“That’s nine, but I’ll take the last five.” Quinlan still hadn’t looked up from the data pad. “Next up, New Mandos. Complain.”

 

“Inefficient wimps with aversion to compassion and basic dignity.”

 

Quinlan tsked. “Shorten it. That was nine again, but an okay try.”

 

Cody rolled his eyes. “Breed corruption with cultural erasure?”

 

“Nice. Not the cultural erasure, that’s bad. I mean the composition and the structure. Not the corruption either, I-”

 

“Quinlan.” Obi-Wan interrupted pointedly.

 

“Right.” He acknowledged sheepishly. “True Mandalorians. Don’t be blatantly biased. Go.”

 

“I can’t condemn myself!” Cody protested, unsure of what he was still doing there. Quinlan was at a level of productive he desperately needed to avoid.

 

Obi-Wan looked at him, the scrutiny in his gaze causing Cody to believe this was a test he wasn’t going to pass. “You don’t hold your leader to a higher standard? Criticism with foundations in hard truths is constructive and completely necessary to limit any degradation that may come from the person holding the power.”

 

“You speak so well.” Quinlan noted. “I’m utterly jealous of your eloquence. Now Cody, be objective. On your marks, get set, go!”

 

This conversation felt not unlike sparring, the constant movement and change in direction was severely throwing Cody off his game. If he'd thought the candidates were having a rough time before, he was dying now. “Radicalize and institute disputed reforms.”

 

“They are pretty solid reforms.” Obi-Wan tacked on.

 

“Are those your five words, Obes?” Quinlan asked teasingly.

 

Obi-Wan snorted, straightening himself to give off an air of mock superiority. “My opinions are being kept quiet right now. So, no, I just informing your ignorant ass you-”

 

“It better be a compliment.” Quinlan warned.

 

“-talented and rather mischievous man.”

 

Quinlan carelessly tossed the data pad down onto the table. “Good enough.”

 

“So-” Cody tried to segway into the conversation he’d been trying to have earlier. He'd gotten very lost from when they'd started. “Why is Quinlan writing this out?”

 

“We’re studious and well prepared.” Obi-Wan said with a shrug, oblivious to Quinlan mouthing ‘NO!’ behind him and emphatically shaking his head. “Is this … abnormal?”

 

Cody sucked in a deep breath before breaking out in laughter and the jettise looked at him in slight horror, although Quinlan’s expression quickly morphed to match his. “You’re setting a precedent you rule following freak!”

 

Obi-Wan started to turn red. “I-”

 

“I’m so proud of you, baffling the people you baffled you is the perfect retribution.” Quinlan cooed at him the same as he would a child and Obi-Wan’s head dropped to the table with a painful sounding thunk.

 

“Kill me now.”

 

“No.”

 

Cody coughed awkwardly, not sure where he fit into the conversation anymore. “Anyways … do you know why you convulsed the way you did? Did you feel Manda’s pull?”

 

“He did get possessed at least a little bit.” Quinlan mused. “I can’t explain it in a way that would make sense to a non force-sensitive person, but there was cosmic interference. There was lots of screaming and colors. Very violent but in a pretty way.”

 

“Manda.” Cody affirmed.

 

“Force.” Obi-Wan corrected, dragging his hand over his face and scooting his chair back. “And I need a nap.”

 

“I’ll use that fun little data file of blackmail to fact check some things before we release it to the general public.” Cody watched in utter bewilderment as Quinlan stood up, snatched the data pad off the table, and grabbed Obi-Wan by the collar. “Come on force-exhaustion boy. You get possessed twice and already need rest? Step up your game.”

 

Obi-Wan tore himself out of Quinlan’s grasp. “I needed sleep long before this.”

 

Cody watched as the two of them slipped out of the room, Quinlan shouting over his shoulder as they disappeared from his sight. “Goodbye Cody, it was nice talking to you!”

 

“What in the kriff just happened?” He muttered to himself.

 

“I actually have the same question.” Came Jango’s amused voice from the furthest corner of the room where he’d found a shadow to lurk in after everyone else had filed out.

 

“Why are you here?” Cody was sure he’d be feeling the same fatigue as Obi-Wan if his vod really wanted to interrogate him. The terrifying interaction he’d just had was enough of socializing for one day.

 

Jango hummed noncommittally. “So Obi-Wan, is he-”

 

“I’m going to cut you off right there.” Cody interrupted him steadily. “I don’t want to know the question, I don’t want to know what you’ve got up your sleeve, and I especially don’t want to know why I’m even talking to you right now.”

 

Jango inclined his head to the side. “Fair enough. But be warned, gar nayc haaranovor ranov’la par munit .”

 

Cody turned away, hoping that by not acknowledging his problems, they might leave him to suffer in peace. He should’ve never revealed his comm connection to Obi-Wan, the nonsense he found himself in was getting too deep for any semblance of comfort.

 

Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan awoke slowly, a blanket of grogginess still clouding his mind and causing a slight buffer on his thoughts. He tried to sit up, but instead of finding the bed as a surface to use in helping push himself up, he found Quinlan’s face.

 

“Hrmph!” Quinlan grunted, tongue sticking out to lick Obi-Wan’s palm in retaliation.

 

Obi-Wan snatched his hand away, fully away now from the rude surprise Quinlan had given him. “What the kriff Quin?” He demanded, his voice still thick with sleep.

 

Quinlan rolled away from him, yanking the pillow out from behind Obi-Wan and putting it under his head. “Lemme sleep. I don’t wanna wake up yet.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed, wiping off his wet hand onto Quinlan’s discarded outer robes dangling precariously off the edge of the chair positioned too close to the bed to have been a thoughtful choice. Quinlan was the likely culprit then.

 

“Quin. Why did you fall asleep in my room?”

 

The nap he was supposed to have taken had turned into sleeping into the early hours of the morning, judging by the lack of light from his window and the sleepiness of the force around them.

 

“Was gonna wake you up for late-meal.”

 

“Huh.”

 

“I fell asleep.” Quinlan continued with a tone chalk full of irritation. “So what? Now let me get back to it. Go train or something you morning freak.”

 

Obi-Wan stood, draping the blanket over Quinlan’s sprawled out form and stumbling his way to the tiny adjoining ‘fresher. He forced himself to get ready for the day even though it was unlikely anyone would be awake for another hour or so. This private time was valuable, he could investigate without prying eyes. And perhaps he could also heed Quinlan’s rather aggressive suggestion. It would be nice to get in some early morning training before the sun rose.

 

Soon enough, he was ready and slipped out of the room, double checking that his lightsaber was safely secured to his belt. Something in the back of Obi-Wan’s mind nagged him, a reminder that it was utterly foolish to be without a weapon. However ‘loved’ he was by the people of Manda’yaim couldn’t trick him into letting his guard down. Obi-Wan knew well enough from past experiences that his dabbling in the game of politics usually turned out lethal. Hopefully this time he wouldn’t be the one getting burned on a pyre.

 

The halls were dark and desolate, Obi-Wan was able to blend in with the shadows with no problem, the lack of lights surprised him. Did the Mando’ade not need to see at night? Was he over thinking it? He dismissed the query, instead letting the force supplement his sense of direction.

 

The force was still in the calm and sleepy state it had been in previously, but as Obi-Wan moved about, it began to stir. The stirrings were small and contained, like the sound of a single footstep with a long waiting period of hesitation between it and the next one. That puzzled Obi-Wan, so he made his movements more erratic, countering the ripples that lapped at his senses.

 

The game of cat and mouse continued on for a while before Obi-Wan used a force assisted jump to land in the network of beams holding up the roof off the ancient hallway he’d stumbled upon. The thing, a person or a figment of his paranoia, stopped and turned away, the hum in the force dulling out to the atmosphere of sleep it had been before. Obi-Wan let out a sigh and dropped from the ceiling, landing in front of a pair of ornate doors. 

 

Curiosity stuck him suddenly, a burning need to push inside and find out what lay on the other side of the wall flowed through his veins. Obi-Wan stepped forward without thought, laying a hand against the antique doors of thick wood. Something inside of it stirred, vibrations answering his unspoken and unasked question.

 

‘Perhaps inside you will find what you need.’ Cooed a cold and melodious voice. ‘Or perhaps not. After all, what you seek is not what you should be looking for.’

 

Obi-Wan fought the reaction to rip his hand off the door, instead placing his other one alongside it. ‘What is it I must find?’

 

The voice hummed thoughtfully. ‘Choices I don’t make are not my own.’

 

The cryptic answer threw Obi-Wan off, and he spoke again, pushing his intentions into the force. ‘Keep no secrets from me. I only seek truth.’

 

‘That you will.’ It agreed with a teasing bite, the presence around him dimming, leaving the ancient doors nothing more than trees cut down and decorated generations ago.

 

Obi-Wan pushed against the door, expecting to find resistance, but instead of meeting wood, he fell through empty air.

 

Ulyc !” Exclaimed a voice behind him, arms reaching out to catch him before the Obi-Wan hit the ground facefirst. With a grunt, he was being cradled against an armored body.

 

“What- where am I?” He asked incredulously, noticing a cold breeze fluttering through his hair. Obi-Wan looked around wildly, noticing that he was not inside. In fact, he recognized nothing around him.

 

“One of the older training courtyards.” A modulated voice responded slowly.

 

“Oh force.”

 

The Mando’ad holding him close released him from their warm grip and gently spun him around. Obi-Wan came face to face  to stare at the beskar buy’ce he recognized as the one Jango Fett wore. “ Jate vaar’tur

 

“It is?” Obi-Wan looked towards the sky he could see through the opening above the secluded training arena. Indeed enough, the sun had begun to light up the sky. Obi-Wan wondered where all the extra time he thought he’d had had gone.

 

“Are you okay?” Jango asked cautiously, a hand still lightly gripping his bicep, Obi-Wan leaned into the warm touch.

 

“No. Evidently I didn’t sleep enough if I’m hallucinating again.”

 

“Again?”

 

Obi-Wan waved away the question. “Something along those lines.”

 

Jango tilted his head to the side and Obi-Wan felt as if the Mand’alor candidate was psychoanalyzing him. He squirmed under the gaze, unsure of what to do. “What are you doing here?”

 

Obi-Wan hid a wince at the question he’d settled on, disappointed in his lack of finesse around the stoic and rather stunning man whose mind he’d picked yesterday. Jango huffed. “Well, it’s not usual for a mes- guest to sneak out and go lurking in the early morning.”

 

“I wasn’t lurking.”

 

“So disappearing yesterday and trying to sneak away from me when I was trying to see what you were up to isn’t lurking?”

 

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Well now that you put it that way- wait. What? That was you?”

 

Jango nodded slowly. “What were you seeing? I don’t think it was me … ”

 

“I couldn’t see.” Obi-Wan said with a shrug, unsure about confiding in Jango. Cody was trustworthy, but Obi-Wan wasn’t sure he could assume his friend’s brother was automatically someone he should dump his most recent nonsense on. “It’s really dark.”

 

Jango brought the hand touching Obi-Wan away and raised it up to tap on his buy’ce twice. “HUD display.”

 

“If you say so.”

 

Jango gestured to where Obi-Wan had fallen back into reality. “What were you doing?”

 

Obi-Wan tilted his head toward the sky, reaching out his senses to see if any remnants of what he thought he’d seen remained. There was only a vague impression, something long, long gone. “Nothing- not anymore.”

 

Jango placed a comforting hand on the juncture between Obi-Wan’s neck and shoulder. “Please tell me.” Obi-Wan desperately fought a blush, knowing his face would turn completely red if given the opportunity.

 

“I- I saw a section of the palace I thought was just older than the rest. There was this large pair of doors. Dark, wooden, intricately carved.” Obi-Wan glanced to where they should’ve been. “But I’m not sure.”

 

“Is that why you were speaking that way?” 

 

Obi-Wan stiffened suddenly, jerking under Jango’s light grasp and taking a step back. “Come again?”

 

Jango didn’t respond immediately, giving Obi-Wan the chance to regain what of his posture he could. After a few moments of stretched silence he spoke again in a low tone. “Early-meal should be starting now.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, following after Jango as he led him through the palace. Obi-Wan was amazed to see how far he’d gotten and how completely different it all looked under dawn’s first rays. The shadows he’d seen the night before were nothing but a memory now, all the potential paths through the darkness fading. Jango walked steadily at his side, saying nothing but still being a calming presence.

 

They eventually came upon a casual dining room, food stations set up along one wall and tables scattered around the room. Quinlan sat in the far corner, his chosen table covered in plates with samples of each of the foods available. Obi-Wan said a quiet goodbye to Jango and made a b-line for Quinlan and his breakfast fit for an army.

 

“Good morning. Are you hungry? I’ve got just about everything.” Quinlan gestured dramatically to the different early-meal foods. “Today we feast like royalty or just some rich bastards.”

 

“You already are a bastard.” Obi-Wan said with a smile, dragging a few of the interesting looking plates closer to him. “But yes, I am hungry. How’d you sleep?”

 

“I had some strange dreams. You?”

 

“I had a hallucination.” Obi-Wan replied with a shrug which Quinlan mirrored in solidarity.

 

“Have you heard the lore of this place?” Quinlan asked excitedly. “They supposedly built this palace on ancient, sacred ground and there’s been sightings of ghosts! If we’re lucky, we can try and spot some murderous spirits from the crusader era.”

 

Obi-Wan snorted. “Quinlan, ghosts aren’t real. And if they were, don’t you think they’d be secretive, not letting random jedi see them out of boredom?”

 

“You don’t dictate the do’s and don’ts of the supernaturals’ social behaviors. Unless you are a ghost. Actually, I had a dream you were one last night.” He shot back. “You were old and blue and walking around Hoth. Decrepit too if you were willingly letting yourself be a translucent icicle.”

 

“Hoth?” Obi-Wan asked, politely indulging Quinlan’s dream sequence descriptions.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Care to explain more?”

 

“Uh, you went to a campfire tended by short bears right afterwards?”

 

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. “Do you mean Ewoks? They are more sentient than bears, have a language and currency system even.”

 

Quinlan sighed dramatically. “Never mind. I don’t want to get schooled on the short bears from my dream. You suck have managed to suck the whimsy out of my life.”

 

“It’s a talent, but not one I think Obi-Wan possesses. It’s just that you are already so … interesting that it’s hard to match that … energy.” Cody chimed in, sliding in a seat next to Obi-Wan with a cup of caff in one hand and a cup of tea in another. “This is for you. Heard you went sleep walking.”

 

Obi-Wan accepted the cup gratefully and Quinlan let out a laugh. “No. He was well awake. Used me as an early morning punching bag actually.”

 

“It’s no fault of mine you were too lazy to go back to your own room and fall asleep on a bed that wasn’t already occupied.”

 

Quinlan shrugged. “That is a true statement.”

 

“No argument?” Cody asked.

 

“Oh, don’t sound so condescending. I make mistakes. Tis a natural thing and I refuse to take kark for accepting the error of my ways.”

 

“They grow up so fast.” Obi-Wan cooed.

 

“I’m older than you.”

 

“And I’m more mature. Responsibility is a virtue that I have in spades.”

 

“Okay mister virtue. How about this-”

 

Cody coughed intentionally, clearing his throat and silencing both of the bickering padawans. “Before you continue an argument that I’m sure has been made before, do you care to know what the response has been to the little report you published?”

 

“Published?” Obi-Wan asked Quinlan curiously. “A news site picked it up? The Holo Net?”

 

“I have connections.” Quinlan said mysteriously before deciding that this was the optimal time to shut his mouth, providing no more context or comments.

 

Cody turned his attention solely to Obi-Wan, now readily ignoring a surprisingly silent Quinlan. “First off, I have to commend you for a solidly written report, it is an extremely accurate reiteration of all the angry ranting we sat through.”

 

Obi-Wan bowed his head. “You are welcome for the experience. I’m sure it was un-enjoyable.”

 

Cody frowned. “It was confusing, that’s what it was and there’s not really any other way to say this, but … “

 

“Yes?”

 

“You kinda sorta started, how do I put this lightly?”

 

Quinlan broke from his state of silence. “Come on, I’ve got to know if my writing is appreciated or not. I put in like fifty percent effort so out with it already.”

 

“A minor uprising.”

 

Obi-Wan blinked as he tried to absorb the information. “Huh.”

 

Quinlan leaned forward on his elbows, kicking Cody under the table. “How minor?”

 

“Nothing big yet. Only talk and whispers.”

 

“Okay, but what are they talking about? Will Obes and I have to make our grand escape?”

 

Cody shook his head. “ Nayc. It’s- it’s nothing you should be actively worried about at the moment unless the intentions suddenly make a full one eighty.”

 

Obi-Wan rubbed his temples, wishing that Cody would stop trying to soften the blow of whatever news he was refusing to give. “Cody, please. All I’ve gathered so far is that I shouldn’t be anymore worried for my life. Do you know how much that doesn’t narrow it down?”

 

“They’ve unimplemented the old laws of how to decide the Mand’alor .”

 

Obi-Wan watched as Quinlan did a violent spit take. “I- wait, what in the kriff?”

 

“There were laws?” Quinlan asked between coughs. “What the kark is Obi-Wan needed for?”

 

“For the aesthetic.” Cody teased, oblivious to the terror building under Obi-Wan's skin

 

“No really.” Obi-Wan implored. “Tell me about the laws.”

 

“They weren’t much, and they definitely aren’t anything big now. A fight to the death or surrender, asking the populace if they wish to bow under your rule, Manda’s blessing, the darksaber coming into play occasionally. That kind of thing, you know?”

 

Obi-Wan felt the blood rush from his face. “I did not.”

 

“Well, it doesn’t matter now. The old ways were going to fall out of fashion sooner or later, and this is the least destructive possible way for them to do so. The government structure hasn’t been targeted by the scruntinous talk yet, but if you did have a problem with it I’m sure about half of the population would agree with you right off the bat.”

 

“No no, we are keeping that.”

 

“And the physical challenge? Is it no longer a fight to the death?”

 

Obi-Wan desperately wished to be anywhere else at the moment. “I- I can’t control that.”

 

“We’ll come back to it later than.” Cody compromised.

 

Obi-Wan’s head was spinning and his breathing had gotten quicker and quicker, the short spurts of air not being breathed deep enough to have any effect. “I need to go now.” He stood, willing his shaky legs to hold him for at least a while. “If anyone needs me, I’ll be meditating.”

 

“I’ll check on you later.” Quinlan said sympathetically. “In the meantime, I’ll distract the Masters.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded his acknowledgement and slipped out the nearest door, breaking into a jog and darting down corridors he was sure led away from the biggest streams of traffic. He arrived in an empty hallway, leaning against the wall and staring up at the ceiling. What had he gotten himself into?

 

A door he hadn’t noticed right next to him opened partway, the face of a female Cody minus the scar stuck out from the opening. Her shoulder length brown hair falling out of the hair tie as she looked at him incredulously. “Hi?”

 

“Hello there.”

 

She smiled slightly. “It seems you need a place to hide, want to come in?”

 

Obi-Wan returned her smile. “Absolutely.”

 

“Come on in, I’m Arla by the way.”

 

“Obi-Wan.”

 

She beckoned him inside. “Welcome in Obi-Wan.”



Chapter Text

 

Arla closed the door gently the moment after he slipped in, the motion seemed rather practiced and Obi-Wan was left to wonder how many people sought out this mysterious woman for comfort. Her rooms were brightly colored, a large window streaming in the morning light and shining down on a table with an early-meal spread. Obi-Wan drifted towards the table, sinking down into a cushioned chair sitting right across from Arla’s plate.

 

“Would you like something to drink?” Arla asked from the kitchenette at the other side of the open concept main room. She lifted up a tin of tea and a mug. “I’ve got spiced tea if that interests you.”

 

“That sounds perfect right now.” Obi-Wan said with a smile, glad to find that at least one of the Mandalorians had good taste. Caff was fine when he needed energy, but tea held a special place in his heart. 

 

“It’s perfect all the time. Tea is one of the beautiful things in this galaxy.”

 

Obi-Wan chucked. “Ah, another intellectual with refined taste. It is good to know that I am not alone.”

 

“We must stick together.” Arla nodded with mock sincerity. “We are few and far in between.”

 

Obi-Wan accepted the mug with a murmured word of thanks, raising the steaming tea to his nose and breathing in deeply. The action calmed in, letting the tension flood out of his frame as he slumped further into the chair.

 

“Have you already eaten?” Arla questioned politely.

 

“I have. Thank you though.”

 

“It’s not a problem. Besides, you’ll be providing me with my daily dose of entertainment.”

 

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow. “Who usually fills that position?”

 

“One of my vode or my vutyc burc’ya . Occasionally my buir can spare himself from whatever the important business of the day is. ” She said with a shrug.

 

“Forgive, I have very little competency at Mando’a, what does vutyc burc’ya mean? I know that burc’ya is friend, but what-”

 

Arla cut him off with a loud laugh. “Little competency my shebs . Didn’t you start speaking Mando’a like you’ve known it for years at that little debate you hosted?”

 

Obi-Wan felt himself flush at the reminder of the debate. He’d broken tradition while setting a new one all because he wanted to hear all of the contestants’ core beliefs in front of an audience. It was harder to deceive a crowd, especially if they had an inherent dislike for each other. “I- I don’t know what happened there. I’m good at picking up languages, but I have no explanation for anything that left my mouth that day.”

 

“Sure sure.” Arla conceded. “I’ll believe it until you start reciting Mando’ade literature in your sleep.”

 

“By force, I hope not.” The thought struck a cord of fear in him.

 

“As I was saying, vutyc burc’ya is not quite an official phrase.” She frowned slightly. “She doesn’t know I refer to her by it … that’s embarrassing.”

 

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have no clue who you are talking about.”

 

“You probably will know.” Arla gave a small shrug. “It translates to ‘special friend’, but it basically just implies that I’m in the talking stage with her.”

 

“You could’ve just said flirting with the intention of seduction.” Obi-Wan huffed good-naturedly. “Now who’s the lucky person?”

 

Arla tutted. “No no, I get to ask you investigative questions first. We’ve got to have an even exchange of information or one of us will have more blackmail material. An imbalance of that sort is not my aim here.”

 

Obi-Wan smiled secretly. “What collateral damage do you want to have against my oh so layered reputation?”

 

“First order of business, who or what were you running from? This one doesn’t count because I should’ve asked earlier.”

 

“Cody started to say things that I had no good reason to hear so early in the morning.”

 

“Ah, did he explain his plan to steal Tor Vizsla’s grave? It’s a little insensitive, but he’s hooked on the idea and I don’t think I can stop him if he really goes for it.”

 

“Um, no.” Obi-Wan sat in bewilderment, quickly trying to place a name to face in his mind. Tor Vizsla sounded familiar and Cody must've hated him if he wanted to take his grave from it's final resting place out of spite.

Arla took pity on him. “Pre Vizsla’s buir . Leader of Kyr’tsad til he died at Galidraan. Actually, I’m pretty sure that it was Jango who killed him.”

 

“That’s certainly a way to make an … acquaintance.”

 

“I have no clue why Pre lets Jango bait him into challenges of strength or precision. They should not even be as civil as they are. Sure there are death threats, but I don’t think Jango’s gotten an assassination attempt on him for the past year.”

 

“Knock on wood.” Obi-Wan replied and Arla completed the action with no hesitation but much confusion. Obi-Wan attempted to explain. “You don’t want to jinx it.”

 

“Fair enough. Now back to the original topic. What horrible, no good thing did Cody inform you of?”

 

Obi-Wan let his head fall to the table. “They are rewriting laws because I did something that is completely common and expected on Republic worlds. I’ve changed the process of electing the Mand’alor and I did not want the burden of that knowledge.”

 

“But you wanted to change it? Just not knowing that you had?”

 

Obi-Wan turned his head to the side to cast a tired glare at Arla. “No, that was never my intention. I just didn’t know that there was a rule book for this. I have undone a pillar of your society with my lack of research.”

 

“I kinda like it better now. You’ve done good.”

 

Obi-Wan flipped his head to face away from her in retribution, receiving a laugh in return. “I see why you and Cody are related.”

 

“Do you see the relation to Jango too?” Arla pulled him out of his slumped position, returning him to correct posture with what seemed like little effort on her part.

 

“I’ve talked to him like three time.” Obi-Wan said regretfully, he’d made a fool of himself during the last interaction they’d had before dipping out of early-meal because Cody was acting as an amateur news anchor.

 

“You sound sad about that.” Arla noted slowly. Her eyes had a mysterious glint. “Say, can you tell me about your thoughts on my vod ? Don’t leave out any of the juicy details.”

 

Obi-Wan eyed her suspiciously. “This counts as my information and then you have to tell me who your trophy wife is going to be.”

 

“Deal.”

 

“My thoughts on Jango … do you mean politically or as a person?”

 

“As a person.” Arla answered too quickly and she seemed to be fighting a smile. Obi-Wan felt suddenly like the next thing to leave his mouth would be repeated with great gusto later.

 

“I’m almost completely sure I seem exceptionally strange him. I got caught up in a force hallucination and he stopped me from falling face first into the ground.”

 

“How romantic.”

 

“I tripped because I was talking to an imaginary door, that is just about the least romantic thing to ever happen to me.” Obi-Wan deadpanned.

 

“A door? Talking?” Obi-Wan nodded and Arla raised a skeptical eyebrow. “How’d he stop you? I’m surprised he didn’t let you fall, that’s what I would’ve done.”

 

“See, this is why we’re not friends.” Obi-Wan flung his hands up into the air with false exasperation, already feeling more open with Arla around.

 

Arla snorted. “We can be friends, it’s just that we haven’t met until today. Give it another week-cycle of minor interactions and I can claim Cody’s spot as your new best friend.”

 

“Cody’s irreplaceable.” Obi-Wan stated if it was a proven fact. "Good luck."

 

“Sure sure, now tell me, how dramatic was you humiliating yourself?”

 

“Well, I received a very nice hug before finding out that he’d been watching me dart from shadow to shadow for a few hours. I’d consider that humiliating.”

 

“Sucks to suck, but I wouldn’t know. I have the tendency to sleep for the normal hours and not go sneaking around when I should be in bed.”

 

“Lucky.” Obi-Wan muttered darkly, wondering how much of the nonsense he'd experienced could've been avoided had he just slept in.

 

There was a knock on the door and Arla rose swiftly to answer it, smoothing out her shirt and combing a hand through her hair before opening the door. On the other side of the threshold stood Satine, a small package tucked under her arm. 


Obi-Wan locked eyes with Satine who blinked back at him owlishly, her mouth dropping open to form the beginning of a question. “What? W-”

 

Arla looked back at Obi-Wan who let a knowing smirk slip across his face. So this was Arla's interest. His hostess bared her teeth in warning and the expression dropped off his face in an instant.

 

“Hello there, Satine.”

 

She gave him a small smile. “It’s quite a nice surprise to see you hear, Obi-Wan.”

 

Arla glanced between them in confusion before deciding to settle her attention on the women standing still in her doorway. “What’s that you got?”

 

Satine placed her parcel in Arla’s arms. “You said you wanted to bake bread.”

 

“Buy a loaf.” Obi-Wan advised.

 

“Make, Obi-Wan. From scratch.” Satine corrected.

 

“Buy a loaf from a baker.” Obi-Wan reaffirmed.

“You remembered?” Arla asked curiously as she closed the door and moved to place what Obi-Wan assumed to be an ingredient on the counter. “It was just an offhand comment I made.”

 

“And now it’s an activity.” Obi-Wan covered for Satine whose face was turning a bright shade of red. He could make up excuses for why she fixated on a throw away comment if only out of guilt for his bad timing. He was interrupting something. “Get with the program.”

 

“You denounced the great art of bread making. You have little room to talk.”

“I was a baker for a month-cycle on a mission that went array. I am the artist you aspire to be.” He shot back, falling into an easy banter in the friendly atmosphere of Arla’s rooms.

 

“You are a man of many talents.” Satine pulled out the seat next to Arla’s vacated one and leveled a quizzical stare at Obi-Wan. “I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you here?”

 

Obi-Wan spread his hands at the honest curiosity. “That is the true mystery. I found my way here by the guidance of fate itself.”

 

Satine rolled her eyes, a knowing smile playing at her lips. “You and your force musings.”

 

“If I remember correctly, it got us out of my unpleasant interactions.”

 

“That it did, but it is a two way street and was the source of many problems.” She pointed out.

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

Satine sighed at the turn of topic being fired back at her. “Making bread.”

 

“Not yet we won’t.” Arla corrected, strolling back over to the table and gently lowering herself into the seat next to the newest visitor. “I’m taking you on my morning walk before we destroy my clean kitchen.”

 

“And that is my signal to stop third wheeling.” Obi-Wan announced as he scooted his chair back and sprang to his feet.

 

Arla glared at him as he stood while Satine pretended to be suddenly interested in the wood grain pattern of the table. Obi-Wan grabbed the outer packaging of the tea tin and waved at the two of them as he opened the door. “It was wonderful talking to the both of you. I hope to make your acquaintances’ again soon.”

 

“Oh you will.” Arla said cheerfully as the door came to a close, but Obi-Wan felt as if it was a well concealed threat.

 

Obi-Wan started to wander his way back towards the direction he’d come from, hoping that he could remember all of the turns and twists he’d made. Maybe next time he wouldn’t go exploring while on the verge of a panic attack. Hopefully Cody would be kind enough to just hand him a data pad with all of his not so great information compiled into an easy to read info-graphic rather than do what he’d done earlier.

 

Luckily, he found Tholme tapping on a wall with great fixation on his task. Obi-Wan had originally walked by before doing a double take and walking backwards until he stood right behind the Jedi Master.

 

“Master Tholme?” He asked cautiously, unsure of whether or not interrupting the man’s strange actions was a good idea.

 

Tholme hummed an affirmative, not turning his attention off of the wall, his hands still prodding at it with intention.

 

“Master Tholme?” Obi-Wan tried again, this time tapping the Jedi Master gently on the shoulder.

 

Tholme turned around this time, giving him a nod in greeting. “Good morning.”

 

“If I may, what are you doing?”

 

Tholme gestured to the stacked stones on the exposed bit of the wall, the action giving precedence to the frustration he was feeling. “Did you feel it?”

 

“Feel what?” Obi-Wan asked cautiously.

 

“There was some ripple- a disturbance of sorts in the force early this morning. It woke me up. I heard a voice say something about looking inside for answers that aren’t there. Rather cryptic, but the voice gave me a strong sense of deja vu."

 

Obi-Wan frowned. “I believe I felt what you are describing. Was it saying ‘ Perhaps inside you will find what you need. Or perhaps not. After all, what you seek is not what you should be looking for’ .”

 

Tholme looked at Obi-Wan questioningly. “That was exactly it. How did you know?”

 

“It talked to me.” 

 

“Tell me, what more did it say?”

 

Obi-Wan shrugged. “It told me that I will seek truth and ‘ Choices I don’t make are not my own ’, but I don’t think I understood the conversation very well. I was a little out of it and managed to trip on thin air”

 

Tholme nodded solemnly. “I believe it. Where was this? Was the building speaking to you?”

 

“Yes, but no. I had the vision in an old training courtyard. There was a set of doors.”

 

The Jedi Master looked to the wall again, as if his gaze alone could convince it to reveal any secrets that it hid. “I’m not going to be figuring it out anytime soon, am I?”

 

Obi-Wan was silent for a moment, Tholme was on a different wavelength and Obi-Wan was convinced he was also having a different conversation. “ … yes?”

 

“That settles it.” Tholme decided suddenly. “Quinlan’s going to have to start working for his keep, that gift of psychometry is about to come in real handy.”

 

“Hey, it doesn’t work like that. I still need him to be my secretary.”

 

Tholme raised an eyebrow at the objection. “At the very least, he’s your second in command, if my padawan is to be an assistant, he’s going to be at the highest rank possible.”

 

“I’m sure Quin will appreciate the sentiment.” Tholme had started to move down the hall and Obi-Wan trailed right beside him, hoping that the Jedi Master had a better grasp for the layout of the palace. “Master Tholme, what do you think I should do next?”

 

Tholme snorted. “I’m not the one in charge of this, but I do have a proposition if you’re interested.”

 

Obi-Wan desperately wanted some sense of direction and latched onto the offer immediately. “Of course I'm interested.”

 

“I’m taking Quinlan down into the town, thought about scouting around. He said something about interviewing with the general public and brushing up on his journalism skills. I plan on buying some of those Mandalorian clothes you got last trip. They look comfortable and will likely get people to stare at me less.”

 

“And they are good for combat.” Obi-Wan affirmed.

 

“If you want to come with us, you’re absolutely welcome. I believe that Qui-Gon will be busy boot licking for the day and I’m sure some retail therapy can distract you from the disaster he’s becoming.”

 

Obi-Wan hand drifted to the pocket of his tunic and the tea label that resided there. “Do you think the market would have a tea seller?”

 

“I’m sure you could find drugs if you wanted. It’s a metropolitan area, you can find anything in a city, just look around.”

 

Obi-Wan eyed Tholme warily, wondering why he’d immediately jumped to that suggestion. Perhaps dealing with Quinlan was a harder job than Obi-Wan had originally given him credit for.

 

Tholme sighed. “While you take diplomatic missions, most of my missions are to bust drug cartels and slave rings. That’s how Quinlan found his little shadow, Initiate Aayla.”

 

“Ah.” Obi-Wan winced at the hesitation in his tone, wondering what Tholme actually thought of him. Qui-Gon and Tholme seemed to have an antagonistic relationship, and Obi-Wan was unsure where he fell in.

 

Another few minutes passed and Obi-Wan quickly recognized where they were, the other Jedi had led them back to their accommodations and moved to climb the stairs. Obi-Wan scurried after him, watching as Tholme knocked on his padawan’s door. The door slid open and Quinlan launched out without a second of hesitation.

 

“Can we go now? Are you done feeling up the architecture?”

 

“Not even remotely.”

 

Quinlan frowned. “Did you come here just to get my hopes up and them crush them to smithereens under your cruel and tyrannical foot?”

 

Tholme nodded sagely. “Obi-Wan is going with us.”

 

“Sweet! He can help me out.”

 

Obi-Wan paused while typing in the key code to his room and cast a glace over his shoulder, tongue sticking out at Quinlan. “Nope. I’m shopping for tea.”

 

“I’m literally doing your job for you.” Quinlan complained as Obi-Wan slipped into his room. “Is this illegal? This feels illegal.”

 

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes behind the shut door, Quinlan’s issues were secondary to the greater pursuit of the ultimate beverage, tea. He thought briefly about buying Arla some tea as a thank you and preemptive congratulations to her and Satine. Maybe a ‘good job baking’ gift could repay Arla for introducing him to his new favorite drink. Obi-Wan pushed the thought to the back of his mind, hand subconsciously drifting towards the Mando’ade style clothing he’d packed from last trip. With a shrug he decided it was as good a disguise as any, certainly less eye catching than the out of place Jedi robes. Hopefully, he could shop for tea peacefully enough.

 

“Hey! Hurry up, I don’t care how hygienic you are, I want to get started.” Quinlan called through the door. “I can’t be on a time crunch for harassing citizens. If I am to be an informed public nuisance, I want to be one with a schedule that works.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed and quickly pulled on the clothes, ready to try his best and blend into the crowds.



Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan trailed closely behind Quinlan as they made their way deeper into the shopping district of the city and subsequent market that resided within it. Store windows displayed the newest weapons and food stalls steamed with the smell of spicy foods. Master Tholme had split off from them earlier in the journey, spotting a pair of boots he desperately needed and waving them off. He’d said he’d catch up later, but Quinlan had shaken his head with a laugh so Obi-Wan truly did not know if they’d ever see the Jedi Master again.

 

“Okay, who do you think I should talk to first?” Asked Quinlan, pulling them off of the main walkway to a bench situated in front of the newest crop up of stores. “I was thinking about getting my sample of the population in the form of almost every stereotype I can think of.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded slowly, his eyes darting from store sign to store sign as he tried to figure out which one would lead him where he wanted to go. He was getting better at Mando’a, but the bold prints were distracting and setting back his new found abilities.

 

“According to statistics or Cody if your feeling trustworthy-”

 

“Cody is the keeper of all knowledge.” Obi-Wan interrupted offhandedly, his mind was still busy trying to translate an advertisement flashing in a window and he’d barely registered the words as they’d left his mouth.

 

“That’s a definite no. But as I was saying, the biggest rushes are around mid-meal and late-meal because the food vendors are so popular. There’s even a few taverns a few streets away that apparently pull in a big crowd. Since we are here a good few hours before anyone in their right mind would think of eating mid-meal, I say we bother the vendors and shop owners before they get too busy.”

Obi-Wan’s attention drifted back to Quinlan who looked at him expectantly. “What?” He asked defensively.

 

“Were you even listening?”

 

“Talk to shopkeepers before we disrupt store busy hours, got it. Who first?”

 

Quinlan closed his eyes and stood, doing a small spin before pointing directly in front of him. His eyes shot open and a smile spread across his face. “To the knife store!”

 

“Please no, we have long, glowing knives that can cut through most anything.”

 

“It’s my business what I do with my money. Now let's go, I wanna see what they got in stock.”

 

Obi-Wan stood up with a sigh. “Knives I hope, otherwise you’re out of luck.”

 

Quinlan bounded across the street way, whizzing between pedestrians and miraculously not causing any collisions. Obi-Wan ducked his head as he hurried after, hoping to deter the few stares that lingered on him. The force around him wavered, pulsing with an air of normalcy and a few sets of eyes stopped paying him any mind. Obi-Wan let out a sigh, hoping that he wouldn’t have to force suggestion privacy the entire trip, that would be far too draining.

 

Quinlan opened the door for him with a dramatic bow and Obi-Wan scurried in, praying for just a second that Quinlan’s particular brand of humor would not be the thing to do him in.

 

“Hello?” Quinlan called into the shop, an admiring hand tracing over the outline of a knife safely tucked away into a display case. He balked at the price tag and moved deeper into the shop, Obi-Wan on his tail.

 

“May I speak with the manager?” He called.

 

Obi-Wan slapped a hand over Quinlan’s mouth. “Are you serious?” He hissed. “We are not here to terrorize retail workers. Don’t make us seem like we are.”

 

“Nah,” Quinlan waved off his worries. “It’ll be a nice surprise when they discover that I have come with questions rather than threats.”

 

“Why did I agree to come here with you?”

 

“Admit it.” Quinlan teased. “You wanted to see the shiny knives like the rest of us.”

 

“The rest of us?” Asked a voice from behind them. It took all of Obi-Wan’s Jedi training not to jump in fright when the new presence had been suddenly introduced. “There better not be more of you.”

 

“We are one of a kind!” Quinlan assured, whipping around to smile at the Mon Calamari employee who eyed them with irritation.

 

“Can I help you at all?” She asked politely.

 

Obi-Wan gestured at Quinlan, an apologetic smile on his face. “My friend here would like to talk with you, could you perhaps spare some ti-”

 

She gasped suddenly. “Wait, you’re not … Obi-Wan Kenobi?”

 

“That’s me.” Obi-Wan admitted with a tight smile.

 

“Would you like a knife? Or two? What can I get for the two of you today?” Her peppy attitude had become genuine, and her large eyes shone in excitement.

 

“We would just like to be receivers of your respected opinion.” Quinlan said. “But after that, I suppose a knife wouldn’t hurt … ” He turned his imploring gaze onto Obi-Wan.

 

“Quin, do your job and then buy the knife. As you said earlier, it’s your money.”

 

“And nothing for you, sir?” The attendant asked.

 

Obi-Wan shook his head softly. “I’m not sure how much tea costs. I’ll need to figure that out before I spend on anything else.”

 

Quinlan ignored his excuse, instead whipping out his data pad and looking at the attendant expectantly. “May I interview you?” She nodded swiftly and gestured for Quinlan to take a seat. “Great, now let’s start off with your name and occupation. I want to get a good profile for you.”

 

Obi-Wan wandered a few steps off into the shelves of knives, inspecting the blades and paying half mind to Quinlan’s interview.

 

“My name is Tam Li’out and I work here, at Kreg’s Knife Emporium.”

 

“Is that Kreg or Craig?”

 

“Kreg.”

 

“Okay, now tell me, which one of the factions do you find yourself most aligned with?”

 

Obi-Wan moved closer to the front of the store, his attention catching on the retractable blade section.

 

Tam spoke again. “I’ve only been on Manda’yaim for three years now, but I am indoctrinated into the Haat Mando’ade . I found them to be the most accepting and I’ve gained many new friends from the meeting the local clans have.”

 

“Oh! They have meetings? When’s the next one?”

 

“Quin.” Obi-Wan called, briefly lifting his fingers off the handle of a blade he’d been caressing. The jewel embedded in the hilt glinted in the morning light. “Stay on track.”

 

“Fine, fine. How did you come to know about Obes?”

 

Tam scoffed. “The same way everyone does. The haat pirur .”

 

“The what?”

 

“You don’t know?” She sounded appalled and Obi-Wan quickly moved back towards where the interview was taking place, hoping to save Quinlan from whatever that might go down.

 

“I got drugged, remember?” He hissed.

 

Quinlan’s eyes widened comically. “Why didn’t you say so? I had vivid memories of watching that clip, it was really funny.”

 

Obi-Wan resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I was being shot at.”

 

He tsked. “Get back to shopping, poison boy.” Quinlan turned back to Tam with a bright smile. “So what are your impressions and thoughts about the process so far? Do you feel like the choosing of the Mand’alor is going the way you want it to?”

 

Tam shot a curious glance at Obi-Wan who was merely hovering nearby, partway hidden behind a self waiting for Quinlan to endanger himself again. “Should he be here? I don’t wish for my opinions on him to offend.”

 

“Constructive criticism, besides, it's good to know that you’re willing to insult him to his face.” Quinlan responded cheerfully.

 

Tam frowned. “I don’t wish to insult, Manda has chosen wisely and I can not complain about that.”

 

“Then there’s no need to be worried.”

 

“Very well.” Tam drew in a deep breath. “I am worried about the election, just not the way you think. You see, if Kryze wins, my job isn’t the only thing that will be lost. The community I was welcomed into will be burnt to the ground and stripped of all I’ve adopted as my own identity. I’ve almost finished assembling my beskar’gam , and if I didn’t get the chance to complete it … I don’t know what I’d do.”

 

“Can you identify one specific instance that made you feel that the New Mandalorians were making it clear that is their goal?”

 

Tam nodded sharply. “She answered the Prophesied One’s question of whether she would erode the culture with ‘I will do what I must’. If that does not make it crystal clear of her lack of concern over the consequences her actions will inflict on others, I do not know what will.”

 

Quinlan continued to tap away on his data pad, giving Tam a sympathetic nod. “The evidence is rather jarring.”

 

Tam gestured to Obi-Wan, instructing him forward until she took his hands in her own and looked him straight in the eyes. Obi-Wan squeezed her hands and a shimmering glisten of tears shone from her large eyes. “I have you to thank for this knowledge. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We were blind to the truest intentions of those who wish to rule, and you have single-handedly brought it to our attention.”

 

“Quinlan did the writing, but I am glad you appreciate the gesture.” Obi-Wan said softly.

 

“No, no. You don’t understand.” She stressed, her grip becoming incrementally tighter. “We’ve never had transparency like this. I do not know what will come next, only you do, but with the future of our very being at stake, you’ve made such a difference. You’ve respected our ways, but also have not bowed to tyranny. Thank you.”

 

Obi-Wan smiled. “Tam, thank you for your trust. I will make sure to see that Manda’yaim gets the ruler it deserves.”

 

She released his hands with a solemn nod and Obi-Wan felt the weight of his promise sit heavy in the air. Quinlan stood from his seat and gave Tam a small bow.

 

“It was lovely talking with you, have a wonderful rest of your day.” He then proceeded to link arms with Obi-Wan and walk them out of the shop and back out onto the walkway. Quinaln seemed to have forgotten his wanting of a knife, but Obi-Wan was not foolish enough to remind him of the fact. Foot traffic had picked up a bit since they’d gone in, but he was still mostly unworried about the crowds. 

 

“Where to next?”

 

“The barber.” Quinlan decided. “Do you want a haircut?”

 

Obi-Wan took a self conscious hand to the back of his head, ruffling the hair and furrowing his brows. The haircut he’d gotten the first trip around had been in the most popular style of the Mando’ade , a short, regulation style cut meant for ease of wearing a buy’ce . It had grown out slightly since he’d gotten it, but it was nothing too drastic. “Do I need one?”

 

“No, but we could corner the barber into conversation with the excuse of you needing a touch up.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed and started toward the barbershop. “Fine, but make this one quick.”

 

Quinlan jogged ahead to open the door for him. “Anything you say, boss.”

 

“I say a lot of things.” He muttered under his breath. “And you listen to almost none of them.”

 

Su'cuy .” Said the barber, his voice gruff and back turned to them as he washed his hands. “ Ti meg liser ni gaa’taylir gar ti ibi’tuur ?

 

Quinlan shrugged and Obi-Wan spoke up. “ Su'cuy. Ni linibar gemas hokaanir bal ner burc’ya gana tionire.

 

Tionire ?” The elderly twi’lek asked, he turned his head over his shoulder and stopped suddenly when he saw the two of them standing by the door. “Is it really?” He sounded disbelieving. 

 

“Hello there, I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi and this is Quinlan Vos. Is it alright if we ask you about your opinions on the election of the Mand’alor ?”

 

“It would be my honor.” The barber wiped his hands off on a towel and ambled towards them, spinning around a chair and guiding Obi-Wan to take a seat. “What are you looking for today?”

 

“Just a touch up, nothing much.” Obi-Wan replied.

 

“That can be done.”

 

Quinlan took a seat on the counter off the side, whipping out his data pad and turning expectantly to the barber rummaging through drawers. “May I inquire about your name and profession?”

 

The twi’lek grunted. “Isn’t that what you came here for?”

 

A devious grin spread across Quinlan’s face and Obi-Wan shook his head softly, his friend was supposed to be acting professional and needed constant reminders as such. “Absolutely sir.”

 

“I go by Palo of Clan Lann and I own this barbershop.”

 

“It’s nice to meet you Palo.” Quinlan got a silent nod in return. Palo wrapped a length of cloth around Obi-Wan’s neck and placed a cutting sheet on him as well.

 

“This braid staying?”

 

“Yes.” Obi-Wan affirmed, adjusting his posture under the gown draped over him. If his braid was cut, his Master would lose any sense of calm he had. The padawan braid was only to be cut at his knighting ceremony.

 

“Which one of the factions do you find yourself most aligned with?” Quinlan pressed on.

 

“Depends on who you ask.” Palo said thoughtfully as he began dragging his electric razor across the back of Obi-Wan’s neck, his movements practiced and methodical. “The Clan of Lann has many ties to the Kry’tsad , but not everyone is completely aligned.”

 

“Are you part of Death Watch?”

 

Palo shook his head. “I have not pledged my complete allegiance to them, no.”

 

“But … wait, complete allegiance?”

 

“I am too old to be one of the hooligan warriors that make up the main voice of the group, but I have no love for the New Mandalorians and Kry’tsad promises their eradication.”

 

Quinlan leaned away subconsciously and blinked in surprise. “Eradicate is a big word.”

 

“Who do you think used it first? Retaliation is the foundation of Kry’tsad , it’s just that Pre Vizsla has started to concern himself more with conquests than with strengthening what we have now.”

 

Obi-Wan huffed. “It seems to me he was always that way.”

 

Palo smiled ruefully and caught Obi-Wan’s eyes in the mirror. “By the way he talks, you’d think that, wouldn’t you?”

 

“You’ve met him directly?” Quinlan asked, his hands tapping away at the data pad.

 

“No. But words are words even in written format.” Quinaln paused, watching intently as Palo placed the electric razor on the counter and picked up a pair of shears. “Loth cat got your tongue?” Palo teased.

 

“I- has everyone read that report?”

 

“Have you been living under a rock?”

 

Obi-Wan chuckled. “We did not know that we were drastically changing the election process, Cody did seem surprised when I commissioned Quinlan to write it, but I didn’t think to ask why.”

 

“Well keep it up, I like to know what they are saying. It’s less curated than victory speeches, that’s for sure. We’re moving into a new era whether we like it or not, starting with Mereel and his Supercommando Codex. That was the start of it all. As much as I despise Kryze and her associates, we need to play by their rules to get a true concession.”

 

“Oh, that was good.” Quinlan exclaimed. “I’m definitely quoting you directly for that.”

 

Palo drew away from Obi-Wan and swiveled to face Quinlan. “What.”

 

“Congratulations, you are going to be in the newest report.” Quinlan said with a cheeky smile. “What are your other impressions and thoughts about the process so far? Do you feel like the choosing of the Mand’alor is going the way you want it to go?”

 

Palo stood in silence for a few long seconds and Obi-Wan could tell that he was moving through initial shock and trying to process the new information. “Uh-”

 

“That’s okay, I’ve been told I talk fast, so take all the time you need.”

 

The door to the shop swung open, a bell ringing as an armored Mando’ad stepped in. They stopped short at the sight of Palo frozen, Obi-Wan with a poncho repurposed for hair cutting, and Quinlan with a shit-eating grin on his face. They all sat in baited silence for a few seconds. “-Should I come back later?”

 

The question broke Palo’s stillness and he shook his head. “Take a seat, I’ll be right with you. We’re short on staff today, my apologies.”

 

“It’s no trouble.” The Mando’ad moved to hover by the chair next to them, and Obi-Wan distinctly felt they were trying to place his face.

 

“Back to the question.” Quinlan announced, not letting the new audience stop him from his interview. “What are your comments, questions, and concerns about how Obi-Wan is handling this so far? Do you think his final choice will be the one you want and or the right one for Mandalore as a whole?”

 

Palo frowned at him. “You have too much energy.”

 

“It’s a gift.” Quinlan countered. “Now talk!”

 

“Whatever happens, I’m fine with it. I have trust and even if I didn’t, the good of many over the good of a few, right? Although, I implore you both, don’t put Kryze in any position of power higher than what she already has. I might not wear my beskar’gam as often as I should, but I’d still like to have the chance to wear it.”

 

The other customer coughed, Obi-Wan could tell they weren’t just clearing their throat. He smiled politely at them as Palo began to dust off the hair and unwind the cloth that’d been around his neck. “Hello there.”

 

Su’cuy . What exactly is happening here?”

 

Quinlan jumped from his perch on the counter and gave a half bow. “Might I interview you?”

 

The helmeted head tilted slightly to the side in questioning. “Yes?”

 

Obi-Wan stood, checking his hair cut in the mirror, fingers grazing over the edges. “Quinlan would like to inquire about your opinions and impressions of the election cycle. We’re trying to gauge the reaction of the general populace before I end up destroying the previously standing justice system again.”

 

“So it is you.” They said in slight awe. “Then absolutely, ask away.”

 

“You might regret that invitation, I am abnormally curious.” Quinlan warned, jumping back up onto the counter excitedly. “Obes, I’ll ask questions, you sweep up your mess.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed, using the force to summon a broom to his hands before beginning to sweep up the hair that had fallen to the ground. Palo began to prep his newest customer, and Quinlan started to talk. 

 

“Name and occupation please!”

 

Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan pushed Quinlan out of the shop, letting the door swing closed behind them as he tried to get his friend to pick up speed. Another few Mandalorians had entered the barbershop until Obi-Wan came to the conclusion they were there to gawk or end up in a source of news. Besides, the barber, Palo, had looked like he was getting progressively angrier as more and more people shoved their way to front and center Quinlan’s attention.

 

“I thought I’d have to fight people to get them to answer my questions.” Quinlan remarked, still letting Obi-Wan’s steely grasp direct him along the walkway. “Aren’t Mandalorians supposed to be private people with a penchant for killing?”

 

“Quin.” He bit out, trying his best to cloak them in force concealment although it didn’t seem to be working that well. “I don’t want to figure out the levels of murderous intent the Mandalorians possess. That seems like a terrible idea with an even worse outcome.”

 

“You’re probably right.” Quinlan conceded.

 

Obi-Wan nodded, he was usually right and Quinlan hadn’t seemed to have learned that important fact yet. “Do you spot any empty shops or dark alleyways we can slip in to?” He whispered, giving Quinlan back some of his directional control. 

 

If they didn’t get away from prying eyes, he was worried the only people they’d be able to interview were the ones who had positive opinions about him. The results couldn’t be skewed, Obi-Wan wasn’t willing to compromise Quinlan’s investigative integrity.

 

“I do.” His friend responded quietly. He gestured with his head to the side and Obi-Wan’s eyes fell upon a coffee house with only three patrons. That was better than anything else he’d seen and it was far enough away from the crowded barbershop thanks to his exceptional walking speed. “Also, I’m thirsty. I was not meant to talk that much in one go.”

 

“Actually, you were.”

 

Obi-Wan steered them both towards the door of the coffeehouse, it was set back further on the face of the building, a glass paneled porch protruding and placing the entrance further away from the street view. They quickly slipped inside, the door opening and closing silently. The three Mandalorians inside spared them a glance and went right back to their conversation. Obi-Wan heaved out a sigh of relief.

 

“We weren’t in danger.” Quinlan huffed, confused by Obi-Wan’s reaction.

 

Obi-Wan shook his head. “That’s not why. Look.” He gestured to the three humans sitting at a sunlit table at the other end of the room.

 

“My next victims?”

 

“They’re New Mandalorians.”

 

Quinlan’s eyes widened. “Oh! We haven’t cornered any of them yet. Wait-” He looked at Obi-Wan suspiciously. “How did you know that?”

 

Obi-Wan have Quinlan his best ‘why would even ask that question, it’s obvious’ face and Quinlan winced. “No one else dresses in that style. Not a speck of beskar paired with the angled collars and the dull color scheme. Also, all of them are blonde. I’d bet my life savings that they are New Mandalorians.”

 

“You have life savings?”

 

“The amount of times we’ve snuck out to the lower levels to wipe the floor at sabacc and you still haven’t opened up a bank account?”

 

“I have the underside of a mattress. Seems safe enough to me.”

 

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes and pushed Quinlan away from the door and toward the ordering counter, waiting for a server to hopefully show up.

 

“She’s on break.” Called one of the Mando’ad from their table against the far wall. They stood up and meandered closer to the two Jedi hovering by the counter. 

 

“She’s giving birth.” One of the others at the table corrected. “And she’ll be on ‘break’ for the next few month-cycles you fool.”

 

The New Mandalorian stopped a few steps away from Obi-Wan and Quinlan to whip around huffily. “Don’t remind me. I don’t want to work the morning shifts.”

 

“She asked you to fill her job so there was no chance of her losing it and you agreed.” The lady at the table said once more, looking on at the unexcited server with disgust. “Don’t complain.”

 

“And this is why both of you should’ve invested while the stocks were still low.” The third member tutted. Both of the other Mandalorians threw him dirty looks. Obi-Wan glanced at Quinlan who shrugged.

 

If you’re asking me what’s wrong with these people, I have no clue. ’ Quinlan spoke through their mental link.

 

The one closest to them stepped behind the counter and pulled on an apron. “My name is Lex. How may I help you today?”

 

Quinlan hummed in contemplation. “Water?”

 

Lex sighed. “This is a coffeehouse.”

 

“Water.” Quinlan said again, this time with an affirmative nod.

 

Lex heaved another dramatic sigh, evidently very over having customers. “Coming right up.”

 

“Thanks.” Quinlan dropped a few coins on the counter and started toward the table occupied by the other two, pulling up a chair and plopping himself in it. Obi-Wan followed after him, holding in laughter while he watched Lex stare at the coins like they’d done them personal harm. These people had character, whether it be good or not.

 

“Hello?” The woman at the table asked slowly, squinting her eyes at them in a bid to try and see if she had any recognition of their faces. It seemed that not everyone recognized Obi-Wan right off the bat.

 

“Hi.” Quinlan greeted. “I’m here to interview you.”

 

“About my investing techniques?” The other at the table asked excitedly. "I think the seminar was really informative and that this is truly a once in a life time chance."

 

“I'd never never ask about that, money is not real.” Quinlan said with a scoff. “I don't know why you'd go to a seminar on it.”

 

His face morphed in an expression of disgust and horror, looking absolutely aghast at his simple statement. “How dare-”

 

“Jorg.” The woman reprimanded. “If you don’t hold yourself together, I will.” She turned to give Quinlan and Obi-Wan a forced smile. “Sorry, Jorg is- well, uh … he is a bit sensitive about that.”

 

Lex walked over with Quinlan’s water, placing it on the table and sinking back into their own chair. “What’s happening here? You said this is an interview, right?”

 

“This is indeed an interview.” Quinlan replied steadily. “Let's start off simple, what are your names and jobs?”

 

“Who’s asking?” The woman asked suspiciously. She raised a hand to point at the two of them. “We’ve had enough people sniffing around and I don’t care to face anymore threats."

 

“I’m Ben and this is Quin.” Obi-Wan said, gesturing to both himself and Quinlan. It was best to give these three only nicknames right now, Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if there was any trust to be built between them. “We’re only here with some questions. We’re doing a report.”

 

“For a school project?” Lex said with furrowed brows. "Aren't you a little old?"

 

“No, this is not affiliated with any education institute. I’m getting paid for this contracted report that will be on the Holo News.” Quinlan replied breezily. Obi-Wan held in a sigh, he guessed he was paying Quinlan now.

 

“I’m Miri.” The woman said. “This is Lex and this is Jorg.” Lex gave a halfhearted wave that Jorg batted out of the air. “Lex works here and Jorg works as an investor.”

 

“It’s the way of the future!” Jorg pointed out. “With the New Mandalorian government bound to institute the long needed reforms, Mandalore’s economy will shift and those of us in the business of business will be on top. Out with those violent freaks and in with the money!”

 

“It’s really a joy to know you, Jorg.” Miri had a fire in her tone. “It’s good to know that all you care about is wealth and not safety.”

 

“Miri and Jorg.” Lex reprimanded with a petulant frown. “We are all on the same team. It’s all a package deal.” They leaned in towards their companions and hissed a warning. “Be polite.”

 

Quinlan watched Miri intently as she continued to speak, pretending as if the little outburst the three of them had hadn't happened. “As I was saying, I am working right now as a campaign manager for Duchess Kryze.”

 

“So I take it that the three of you are New Mandalorians?” Quinlan asked, handing Obi-Wan and nudging him to type. The three New Mandalorians all spoke at the same time, their voices overlapping.

 

“What else would we be?” Jorg asked with a sneer.

 

Lex huffed. “You really think we’d ever support Death Watch?”

 

Miri rolled her eyes. “The Duchess is the only one willing to do what it takes.”

 

“What does it take?” Quinlan questioned, latching onto Miri’s response. He snatched the data pad out of Obi-Wan’s hands, Obi-Wan assumed he hadn't started recording their responses fast enough and Quinlan was ready to take matters into his own hands once more.

 

“People around here are getting too comfortable with their weapons. I don’t want to see all these open-carried blasters every time I walk into a Cantina.”

 

“It’s a Cantina.” Quinlan deadpanned. “Would you prefer concealed carry when dealing with crime lords taking residence at the bar and bounty hunters turning in their catches?”

 

“Are you only here to berate me? Did you come here and ask my opinions with not a speck of good faith?” Miri demanded. Obi-Wan took this quick response to mean she was constantly getting these types of reactions from those she interacted with.

 

“I apologize.” Quinlan sounded almost sincere, but Obi-Wan thought that the others had bought the half-baked apology. “Could you give me some more examples about reforms you wish for the Duchess to make?”

 

“I don’t think Mandalorians should wear armor anymore.” Lex said with a shrug, butting in with an air of boredom.

 

Miri gawked at them. “But what about remembrance days?”

 

“Eh.” Jorg bit out, interrupting Lex. “Either make use the armor then in a decorative form, or just start forgetting.”

 

Did we pick the only trio of New Mandalorians with oppressive ideals and the ability to annoy me or is this an accurate representation of this faction? ’ Quinlan asked in angry disbelief through his and Obi-Wan’s mental link.

 

Obi-Wan himself was refraining from taking out the lightsaber hidden in the pocket of his pant leg to use a tool for indimitation. Hopefully they were only talking the way they were because the group didn't know who Obi-Wan and Quinlan were. ‘ Ask your last question and then we leave. I’m not sure how much longer I can pretend I'm taking this seriously. We need to find some different New Mandos for sure.

 

Quinlan gave him a subtle nod. “Okay, we are getting a little pressed for time here.” He was lying through his teeth. “My final question is what do think about the process to pick the new Mand’alor ?”

 

Jorg snorted. “It was chosen a long time ago until footage came back from Coruscant that threw all of our valid claims into unfair debate.”

 

Obi-Wan’s mind flashed back to Nage and Arlen, the two Mandalorian visitors they’d had back at Dex’s Diner. It seemed like so long ago.

 

“The Duchess’s blessing, thrown out like it was nothing.” Miri muttered. “We’ll get it back though. There is no good reason that the Duchess won’t be recognized as the one true ruler.”

 

Quinlan opened his mouth up to argue, but Obi-Wan pushed his chin up, letting Quinlan’s teeth clank together. He stood, pulling Quinlan up along with him, speaking for his friend who had fallen into a state of provoked shock. Obi-Wan knew the only reason he wasn’t in the same state was the training on diplomatic missions that Qui-Gon had instilled into him.

 

“Thank you for talking with us.” He said as graciously as possible, guiding Quinlan towards the door. “Unfortunately we are short on time. Thank you again!” He called, pushing open the door and dragging Quinlan through. The three New Mandalorians watched in bafflement as Obi-Wan and Quinlan made their quick exist and Obi-Wan heard an exclamation before the door shut completely.

 

"Why'd they leave so quick? Was it something we said-"

 

When they were a safe distance away, Quinlan broke the silence. “What the kriff was that? I have done sixteen interviews and the first one with bona fide New Mandalorians happens to be the worst one yet?” Quinlan walked at a furious speed, keeping himself at Obi-Wan’s side. “I- just- Argh!”

 

Obi-Wan nodded in sympathy. “We are going to the tea shop. No more interviews until I’ve got tea, that should give you some time to recover.”

 

Quinlan snorted. “Thanks for the thought, it’s much appreciated. Now the only problem is actually finding the tea shop. We’ve been here for hours and haven’t yet found what you’re looking for.”

 

Obi-Wan stopped someone as they passed, pulling the tea label out of his pocket and showing it to them. “ Vaii ni verborir ibic? Mhi gana echoy’la bal nayc mar’eyir.

 

Ehn naritire daab. Echoy ge’tal miit’e. ” The Mando’ad replied, reemerging with the foot traffic the moment Obi-Wan turned away.

 

"Well, that was quick." He noted. "Huh."

 

“Warn me before you do that next time.” Quinlan requested. “Also, what the kriff did you say?”

 

Obi-Wan waved the question away, instead focusing on the important information he had gleaned from the short and yet effective conversation. If he’d been on Coruscant, there was a chance he would’ve been stabbed in retaliation for asking such a question. “The tea shop is three doors down.”

 

“I hope so.” Quinlan remarked. “Cause I want to see what Cody’s strange brother is up to.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded. “That makes sense- wait,” His head whipped around so he could stare at Quinlan straight on. “WHAT?”

 

Quinlan smiled deviously. “It seems your favorite morning stalker with a hobby of catching unbalanced hallucinators is on the move.”

 

“How did you know that?” Obi-Wan was sure that in the time since his run-in with Jango that morning, he hadn’t told anyone other than Arla he’d practically swooned into Jango’s arms.

 

“You forget that you left the dining hall and I have good hearing.” Quinlan teased.

 

Obi-Wan tried to hold himself together, breaking down and asking what Quinlan heard would only confirm the suspicion that both he and Quinlan were harboring. Obi-Wan had a crush on Jango. “Oh.”

 

“Don’t hook up with him before the election process is over.” Quinlan advised. “It would give you a bad look and take credit away from his name if you do end up putting Mr. Loverman on the throne.”

 

“Quinlan.” Obi-Wan hissed, his head down as they arrived at the shop's door. “If you value our friendship and my sanity, keep your mouth closed on this subject.”

 

“Anything for you, boss.” Quinlan agreed, sounding a little too gleeful as he pulled the door open and ushered Obi-Wan into the fragrant tea shop.

 

Olarom.” Called the shopkeeper, an elder Mirialan organizing tins on a shelf near the door. They gave a nod to Quinlan and Obi-Wan before getting back on task.

 

Obi-Wan pulled out his tea label and started to compare it to others on the shelves, hoping that he wouldn’t come face to face with Jango for a few moments more. The store was big enough that with enough effort on his part, they could avoid each other entirely.

 

Are we not going hunt down the buffer Cody? ’ Quinlan complained through their mental link. 

 

Obi-Wan responded with a reprimanding flick.

 

Quinlan huffed. “That’s it. I’m going to go find the toilet. Scream if you find yourself in mortal peril.” He walked off, weaving between shelves of tea until Obi-Wan couldn’t see him anymore.

 

“What are you doing here?” Came a familiar voice from behind, the tone light and teasing.

 

Obi-Wan jumped, narrowly avoiding a collision with a beskar plated chest. Gloved hands caught him by the shoulders and gently spun him around. Obi-Wan quickly rearranged his facial expression into one that was more neutral and less panicked. 

 

“Hello there, Jango.” 



Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan smiled tentatively at Jango, briefly contemplating calling for Quinlan. Perhaps his friend could get him out of this interaction before it went off the deep end, but Obi-Wan knew that even if Quin had the right intentions, it wouldn’t work the way he’d want it to. Quinlan would only derail whatever was happening further. Jango tilted his buy’ce covered head to the side.

 

Su cuy’gar.

 

Obi-Wan stood with baited breath for a few seconds, eyes darting off the shelves as a form of distraction. “So … are you here for tea?” He immediately regretted the question, chiding himself for the redundant and useless inquiry.

 

Jango let his hands fall from Obi-Wan’s shoulders as he moved to remove his buy’ce . Obi-Wan tried to look as politely neutral as possible as Jango’s strong face and sharp jawline came into view. “I am.” He had one eyebrow raised and a small smirk on his lips.

 

“Good.” Obi-Wan decided suddenly, whipping out the tea label and holding it up for Jango to see. “Have you any idea where this might be located?”

 

Jango frowned at the label, grabbing Obi-Wan’s hand to pull it in closer rather than grabbing the piece of paper itself. Obi-Wan said nothing about it, accepting the gloved hand cradling his wrist as a normal reaction. Besides, he isn’t upset to have physical contact with Jango.

 

“Where did you get this?” Jango asked curiously, looking up from the label to meet Obi-Wan’s eyes.

 

“Arla.” He replied with a short shrug. “She was kind enough to host me earlier this morning.” Jango looked like he already knew what Obi-Wan was talking about, he had no response to indicate otherwise. Obi-Wan squinted at the Mando’ad , trying to decipher him. “You don’t look surprised.”

 

Jango shifted on his feet, a spike of guilt tainting the force around them before it disappeared just as quickly as it came. “I visited with Arla earlier today.”

 

“Let me guess, she asked you to replace the tea we finished?” Jango's shoulders lost the small amount of tension they’d been harboring, and Obi-Wan barely noticed the minuscule change in body language. Reading Jango was practically impossible. He seemed to be relieved by Obi-Wan’s question, but Obi-Wan had nothing to attribute to the reason why.

 

Elek. That’s it.” Jango assured. “Should we go find it now?”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, glad they could breeze past the akward greeting they’d had and move onto the search for tea. It was as good a distractor as any. Jango wrapped an arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulders and steered him through the isles, and it took every ounce of Obi-Wan’s self control to pretend like the action hadn’t caused his heart to race. Jango led him through the sea of teas, and they finally came across what Obi-Wan assumed was the final destination.

 

“I believe this is where they are kept.”

 

Obi-Wan’s brow furrowed. He believed? “You’ve been here before, right?” Surely he had if Arla had sent him to pick up tea here, it wouldn’t have been the first time.

 

“No.” He replied casually. “But I can read the signs and that label,” He pointed with the hand settled over Obi-Wan’s far shoulder at the shelf in front of them. “It looks like what you are looking for.”

 

Obi-Wan stepped forward, out of Jango’s embrace and squatted to look at the products. He could understand most of the packaging, but the sheer number of different types of tea by the same company was greatly confusing him. “Jango?” He called. “Which one is it? They look too similar.”

 

“Hm? Oh,” Jango shook himself from whatever dazed or spaced out state he’d been in. “Orange outline around the logo.”

 

“Here we are!” Obi-Wan announced, hopping up as he analyzed the label and the box, finding them to be identical.

 

“Are you hungry?”

 

“Huh?” Obi-Wan was a little baffled by the sudden turn in conversation and he looked up into Jango’s mostly impassive face. “Y-yes.”

 

A smirk tugged at the corner of Jango’s lips at Obi-Wan’s confusion. “I know a good epar’yaim around here.”

 

Janad ?” He asked teasingly, trying to release the hesitance he harbored into the force. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure what impression Jango had of him, but he would do his best to assure it was a good one.

 

Gana jate tiingilar .” Jango leaned in, something humorous twinkling in his eyes.

 

Obi-Wan straightened up as Quinlan came around the corner, emerging from the extensive tea collection with a look of confusion on his face. “I see you found Cody’s clone.”

 

Jango frowned. “If anything, he’s my clone.”

 

“Good try, but I don’t believe it.” Quinlan stepped up and snatched the tea container from Obi-Wan’s grasp. “Is this the stuff?” He looked up at Jango quizzically. “Are you here for it too?”

 

“ ... yes.”

 

He gestured to the shelf. “Then grab a box you fool. Leaving empty handed is not the way to go.”

 

Obi-Wan grabbed the box back from Quinlan and then moved to grab a second one, depositing them in Jango’s arms. “Actually, we were just about-”

 

“You’ve made local royalty work as your living shopping cart? Really Obes?”

 

“As I was saying.” Obi-Wan huffed out. “Jango and I are going to go get mid-meal.”

 

Quinlan raised a skeptical eyebrow, looking between Jango and Obi-Wan before poking at Obi-Wan through their mental bond. ‘ Mid-meal sure … that’s a whole kriffing date you’ve agreed too. I leave for a few minutes, interview the store owner, and come back to find that you’ve got plans.’

 

Out loud Quinlan monotonously said, “It is that time of day.”

 

“Do you think you’ll be okay on your own? I know you have more New Mandalorians to hunt down.”

 

You’re blowing off my very legitimate and time sensitive collection of testimonies for a date?

 

Obi-Wan eye’s darted to glance at Jango from his side view. ‘ It’s just mid-meal .’

 

That’s a date.

 

It’s really not .’

 

It’s a date and you know it.

 

“Quin?” Obi-Wan asked with a smile, breaking the staring contest they’d been sharing.

 

“Oh I’ll survive, but by no means will it be considered enjoyable. You will rue this day.” He announced dramatically, drawing a disbelieving huff from Jango. “I don’t want to talk to anymore New Mandos, and most certainly not while alone. I am willing to stereotype them from just one interaction and that says a lot.”

 

“You’ll be fine.” Obi-Wan assured. “If finding them in the wild goes wrong, interview Satine’s entourage or something. I’m sure they’ll be refined.”

 

“They’re something, that’s for sure.” Jango bit out.

 

Quinlan threw his arms up. “Well, that settles it, I’m karked. Hire me a team next time, and oh, don’t forget my raise. In an economy like this, I want my pay and I want it now!”

 

“You can expect it under your mattress within the next few day-cycles.” Obi-Wan promised, grabbing onto Jango’s free hand to pull the both of them away. Spending more time with a melodramatic Quinlan would only shorten their lifespans considerably. Jango shuffled with the things in his other arms and Obi-Wan attempted to let his hand drop from Jango’s. The attempt didn’t work, and Jango miraculously ended up with his buy’ce on his head and two tea boxes safely tucked under his other arm.

 

In the back of his mind, Quinlan prodded. ‘ I’m gonna go find Master Tholme, you have fun on your date, but for the love of everything, don’t get caught. I can only make up so much bantha shit, and honestly I have no idea how to finesse this planet’s news cycle.

 

It’s not a date, and don’t forget that you already have a job as a Jedi.

 

This hobby might determine your future, be nice to the journalist. ’ Quinlan grumbled, shoring up his natural shields and abruptly ending the conversation.

 

“Did he say anything I should know about?” Jango asked curiously, guiding Obi-Wan out of the shop and into the alleyway way adjacent. Obi-Wan was briefly stunned by the fact they didn’t have to be travelling by the main walkway and it took a second for the question to set in.

 

“Oh, you mean just now?”

 

“You talk with your mind, right?”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, letting Jango pull him closer as they pushed passed a few other Mando’ade travelling along the darkened passage. No one paid them any mind, the others seemed to be on personal missions, exuding a deep sense of determination. “He’s not doing too well right now.”

 

“He’ll get better.”

 

“Where are we going exactly?” Jango shifted their path, leading Obi-Wan into a network of walkways he hadn’t seen before. “Where are we?”

 

Norac tra ra ashi din’waadare .”

 

Obi-Wan eyed the darker atmosphere, this market was nestled in the shade of the buildings around, and everyone around seemed to be minding their own business. It was almost a shadow of the other market area, this one had a more hostile air and Obi-Wan quickly came to the conclusion this was a space specifically for those with more bloody professions. “Is this a guild spot?”

 

“A few aliit headquarters. Back here is mostly home to the more traditional Mando’ad storefronts. You can get quality armor and cultural tattoos, it is more closed off from the general shopping district, but everyone comes here to swear on the Resol’nare .”

 

Obi-Wan gave a shallow nod in acknowledgement to the answer, suddenly feeling very out of place in this sacred and secretive area. He was only an outsider, there thanks to the interpretation of a prophecy and Jango’s invitation to eat. “Aha.”

 

“The epar’yaim sits on the outskirts of this square.” Jango’s voice was low in his ear as they drifted through the sparse crowd milling about. “I just took a shortcut, but we can look around after if you wish.”

 

“Any tour is fine by me.”

 

They arrived at the restaurant shortly thereafter, Jango leading Obi-Wan inside before he could finish reading the dinged up sign out front. The blaster markers on the metal sign didn’t make Obi-Wan feel any better, but the hospitable air inside and the sounds and smells of the kitchen eased whatever fears had been building. The tables were packed at the front, but he didn’t get a good look, for as soon as they entered, one of the waiters pulled them off to the side.

 

Alor .” They greeted Jango reverently. “ Nu’amyc kajir ?”

 

Gedet’ye .”

 

The waiter glanced briefly at Obi-Wan before taking a double-take, a stutter being heard through the voice modulator in their buy’ce . “ Ke’pare … ”

 

Obi-Wan gave a smile he hoped was genuine and Jango moved forward to block him slightly from view as they stood by the entrance to the more private dining area. “ Elek, a nayc olar ra jii .”

 

The waiter nodded enthusiastically, swiftly leading them away from the more crowded dining room and into a booth lodged against the far wall. Jango seemed familiar with the place, and the t-visor of the waiter’s helmet kept finding its way to the back of Obi-Wan’s head as he lowered himself into the seat.

 

“I heard some rumors, but I didn’t know they were true.” The waiter murmured.

 

“What about?” Obi-Wan asked hesitantly.

 

“You and the other jetti were interviewing Mando’ade .”

 

“Still are, well, Quinlan is. My duty has been fulfilled.”

 

“ ... this isn’t secret or anything, is it?”

 

Obi-Wan blinked at the unexpected question. “Not really? I’d prefer if my location wasn’t broadcasted though. I’m sure you can find Quinlan and get interrogated easily enough.” Others had flocked to their location previously just for a chance to get their opinions heard and to stare at the celebrity like figure Obi-Wan was becoming.

 

They nodded slowly, as if absorbing and processing all the information as carefully as possible. “And what can I get for the both of you today?”

 

“Two daily specials please.” Jango asserted and the waiter scampered off. Obi-Wan turned to give Jango a raised eyebrow at his lack of choice. “The options they provide you here with are a lie. It’s all variations of the same daily dish.”

 

“And what if I have a food allergy?”

 

“You don’t. Nothing here can cause a reaction.” Jango replied breezily, taking off his buy’ce to level a look at Obi-Wan that invited any challenge to his statement.

 

“I want to say that I am curious as to how you know that, but I’m not sure I’m going to like the answer.”

 

“You’ve already gotten poisoned on Manda’yaim . Do you really think we’d let it happen again?” Jango asked playfully as if he hadn’t just implied there were major decisions and surveillance in play to make sure nothing was slipped into Obi-Wan’s drinks. He appreciated the sentiment but worried about where the information could’ve been lifted from. Maybe the Temple had given them access to his health file, or maybe their mainframe and security system wasn’t as safe as they thought it was.

 

“I survived the first attempt, but I hadn’t put more thought into the fact there might be more. Although the haat pirur was never meant for me, I just happened to chug the tea.”

 

“Did you recover from it with minimal symptoms?”

 

Obi-Wan frowned. “Are you going to spike my drink and try to glean my secrets?” Jango seemed appalled by the suggestion, but Obi-Wan wasn’t completely sure, for his expression was controlled and Obi-Wan had yet to learn how to read past his mask . “I’d say my biggest symptom was lingering embarrassment.”

 

“The only people who should feel embarrassment over that experience are the or’dinii who tried to poison you and Kryze.”

 

“I don’t know, I got on the Holo-News and had to explain it to the Jedi Council. That seems like my problem more than anything.”

 

Jango nodded once in acknowledgement, letting them sit in a comfortable silence for a few minutes. Obi-Wan picked at his sleeves, observing the quiet tables around them and the waiter returning with two trays of food. Jango handed over a few credits and the waiter retreated back the way they'd come.

 

Obi-Wan peered into the steaming stew set before him, already sure that the spice of the meal would burn all his nose hairs. Jango set buy’ce next to him on the table  and slid utensils across the table towards Obi-Wan. “ Haili cetare.

 

“Thanks.” Obi-Wan blew at the rising steam, carefully dipping in a spoon and raising it to his lips. He glanced up to find Jango giving him a quizzical look. “What?” He said before sealing his fate and dumping the spice ridden stew into his mouth.

 

“Too hot?” Jango asked, likely observing the red tint Obi-Wan knew was rushing to his face.

 

He nodded his head and quickly swallowed the spoonful down. “I should’ve let it cool off more.”

 

Jango hummed. “Well, eat up and then we can go take a look around.”

 

Obi-Wan smiled. “I’d enjoy that, thank you.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Obi-Wan looked up at the metal statue, analyzing the larger than life figure of Pythia, the prophetess who’d brought him into this mess. She’d been dead for millennia, but still the weight of her words and the worship of her writing kept her as good as alive in the public consciousness of Manda’yaim . The dark metal glinted in the shine of the mid-day sun and Obi-Wan could’ve sworn the statue’s eyes didn’t look so empty.

 

“This was constructed at the same time as the yaim’alor . There have been additions since then, such as many of the living quarters.” Jango narrated, looking up at the statue with an unmistakable tone of admiration that could even be heard underneath his buy’ce . “Pythia is an important part of our history.”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, stepping forward to look at the plaque fused to the podium of the statue. Carved into the plate was a name that quickly caught his attention. “Tarre Vizsla?” He murmured, sucking in a breath when the name clicked in his memory.

 

Jango appeared by his side without a sound and startled Obi-Wan out of his state of shock. “Pythia spoke of Tarre Vizsla and his deeds centuries before he rose to his destiny. Some say she forged Manda’s call for him specifically and that is why he was able to achieve such greatness.”

 

“He was the only Mandalorian Jedi, right?” 

 

Jango cocked his head to the side. “The first.”

 

“Are you saying there are more Mandalorian Jedi I’ve just never heard of?” Obi-Wan asked in confusion. He was sure his habit of going down rabbit holes of information in the Jedi Archives would’ve provided him knowledge of subsequent Mandalorian Jedi.

 

“None that I know of, but the future should not be discounted.”

 

“Whatever you say,” Obi-Wan agreed, turning his attention back to the looming statue that stared off in the distance with a look of determination. “What’s in that direction?” He pointed to where the statue looked.

 

Jango gave a small shrug. “The yaim’alor is back there, but so is Cody’s favorite beskar’gam shine store.”

 

Obi-Wan fixated on the first half of the comment, his mind spinning as he thought back to what Jango had said earlier about the time frame of it all. “Have there perhaps been ghost sightings in the yaim’alor ?”

 

“I’m not the one to ask,” Jango said. “why do you want to know?”

 

Obi-Wan looked back at him with a convincing smile on his face. “No reason. Now where to next?” He felt Jango’s gaze try to read past his outward body language, but the Mando’ad dismissed his task quickly enough.

 

“What do you want to see? We can go to the armory if you wish.”

 

He hesitated, briefly weighing the option before disregarding it. He didn’t want to snoop around the armory, such a staple of Mando’ad culture if he wasn’t going to get anything out of it other than a few stares. He didn’t even think it would be possible to go in. “No, I don’t want to intrude.”

 

“You wouldn’t be.” Jango assured.

 

“What would we even be there for? Do you need a touch up or a new piece of armor? I’ll go in if we have an excuse.”

 

“I-” Jango paused, his body going still in response to some unknown stimuli. Obi-Wan watched him carefully, tentatively reaching into the force that was so muffled by the beskar all the Mando’ade processed. It hung differently around Jango, an echo of a feeling emanated from him in a way Obi-Wan knew he’d only experienced once before. Whatever conclusion he was struggling to reach was pushed out of his concentration by Jango’s indigent mutter picked up by the speaker in his buy’ce . “Myles, I am busy.”

 

Obi-Wan shuffled, turning away from Jango in a poor attempt at providing him with any amount of privacy. He could pretend to be preoccupied, but he tuned into barest whispers of words passing through the helmet at reaching his interested ears.

 

“Are you sure … this really isn’t ideal-” There was a long pause in which Obi-Wan waited with baited breath before barely catching the next few words. “-fine, but you owe me for this.”

 

“Are you okay there?” Obi-Wan called out tentatively, letting his focus on Jango in the force slip back into the casual surveillance he had normally. With the events he’d been through and experiences he’d had, Obi-Wan had learned to keep his guard up in the force, it was always good to sense when the next big mortal peril was to arise.

 

Ni linibar yaimpar at yaim’alor. ” An undercurrent of irritation colored his tone.

 

Obi-Wan blinked, surprised by the conclusion of the conversation he’d overheard. “Well then, I guess I will see you around.” He moved forward, offering his hand to Jango in a way he knew could either be interpreted as an invitation for a hug or for a handshake. “Thank you so much for the meal, it was lovely as well was the tour.”

 

Jango stared at his offered hand for a view seconds before grasping his forearm in the traditional Mandalorian handshake. “ Ret'urcye mhi .”

 

Obi-Wan nodded, stepping back and letting himself remerage with the ebbing streams of people making their way through the square. It wasn’t hard for him to find his way back, practically running head first into Master Tholme as he exited the alleyway Jango had led him down earlier.

 

“Padawan,” Master Tholme greeted. “have you seen Quinlan?”

 

“I have, last I heard he was off to find some New Mandalorians.”

 

Tholme frowned. “I was planning on avoiding that place.”

 

“What?”

 

Tholme shrugged, being to walk in the direction Obi-Wan had last assumed was the route Quinlan would take. “It was the blandest information kiosk I think I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s probably propagating propaganda or serving as a distributor for the New Mandalorians pamphlets. Out of all the pamphlets I’ve been handed on this planet-”

 

“How many pamphlets have you received?” Obi-Wan asked in bewilderment. Who dared to talk to Master Tholme and the completely uninterested character he was let alone hand him a pamphlet.

 

“Three. As I was saying, I’d say it was the second best, or second worst, depends on your view on life.” Tholme replied breezily. “Where have you been?”

 

“I went to go eat mid-meal.”

 

He hummed in acknowledgement. “I bought shoes.”

 

Obi-Wan spared a glance down to Tholmes feet which were indeed sporting a pair of boots he did not recognize, but looked to be in a similar style of the Mando’ad boots he himself was wearing at the moment. “We match.”

 

“We do not.” Tholme sounded a little indigent by the suggestion. “We merely relate. Let it be known that I have not jumped on any fashion trend.”

 

Obi-Wan hid a smile at the announcement, recalling all of the nonsense articles of clothes and ridiculous accessories that Quinlan would add to any of the undercover outfits he was allowed to put together. The Council as well as the Quartermaster trusted him more than Tholme to be able to blend them into the bars and clubs of the lower levels of Coruscant. “I’m sure the glitter wasn’t that bad?” He tried to sound sympathetic, but the words came out in the form of a question.

 

“I wasn’t talking about the glitter,” Tholme grimaced. “but it was that bad.” 

 

Obi-Wan winced. Having nothing more to offer the man in verbal comfort, he tried to steer them away from that subject. “So where are we headed? To check on Quinlan?”

 

“No, I’m taking that boy back to the palace. I heard talk of a chance to get interviewed and I’m sure he’s already met his quota. By the sounds of it, he has been and will continue to be swamped.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure, it was easy enough to run away.”

 

“Yes,” Tholme admitted. “but you were there to stop him, right now you can not hold out too much hope for the state we find him in. I don’t think the Council would like it if I had to bail him out of jail again this year-cycle.”

 

Obi-Wan froze for a moment, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. “Is there something I don’t know about?”

 

“He has a knack for infiltrating prisons even if that was not the objective of the mission. He will make an excellent shadow.” The Jedi Master praised, holding his arm out to stop Obi-Wan from continuing further. “And there he is.”

 

Quinlan sat ramrod straight in rapt attention at the explosive and captivating hand gestures of a Mandalorian likely giving him one of the most interesting interviews of the day. Quin sat on a bench shoved up against the front side of a shaded stall while all around in clumps stood other Mandalorians, both in armor and in the clothing that denoted them to be New Mandalorians. Obi-Wan and Tholme edged closer to the people gathered.

 

“Thank you for sharing, your cooperation was much appreciated.” He locked eyes with Obi-Wan who nodded. “Thank you all, but I must be going now. You can watch the Holo News for this very soon.”

 

Quinlan stood and started to slip through the crowd, twisting out of any grasping hands and quickly landing himself in front of Tholme and Obi-Wan on the outskirts of the congregation. Obi-Wan was deeply impressed by how quickly he’d been able to navigate himself out of the fray.

 

“We should go now,” He hissed. “I don’t know how long we have.”

 

“Then you’re ready, good.” Tholme noted, gesturing for both padawans to follow him as he began to walk at a pace that Obi-Wan didn’t know could be achieved.

 

“Master, how are you so fast?” Quinlan huffed as he and Obi-Wan struggled to bring themselves to the high speed of Tholme’s pace.

 

“It’s a talent.”

“It sure is.”

 

They made it back to the palace and their quarters in record time, managing to dodge any and all interested parties with the power of Tholme’s sabacc face. Quinlan was already integrated into the ritual, but Obi-Wan had only witnessed the charade thus far without any actual participation. Tholme was intimidating to begin with, but when Quinlan walked behind him with a air of reverence and snobbery, he looked like the assistant to a man who should not be trifled with.

 

“Relax your shoulders.” Quinlan hissed at Obi-Wan, his lips not moving and no signs of faltering in his confident and self important gait.

 

“Is this why you have a god-complex half of the time?” Obi-Wan hissed back. “You two look like you’re preparing to walk the runway of the newest Holo Drama release.”

 

“I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

 

Tholme shifted their path, leading Obi-Wan and Quinlan into the hallway and up the stairs that deposited them directly at their quarters. “Padawans, behave yourselves.”

 

“I still want an apology for your comment about my narcissistic tendencies or I’m going on strike.” Quinlan supplied helpfully as he leaned on the door frame to Obi-Wan’s room.

 

“I apologize, it was wrong of me to bring up the fact that you have the air of a Holo star when you walk like one.” The door slid open and Quinlan moved to set inside only to be bared by Obi-Wan’s arm restricting him. “Don’t you have your own rooms?”

 

“Don’t you want to hear all the juicy details I was so easily supplied?” Quinlan smirked when Obi-Wan withdrew his defensive arm. “That’s what I thought.”

“You can think?” That earned him a slap across the back of his head.

 

“Now, as I was so politely saying before you-”

 

“That was not polite.”

 

Quinlan cleared his throat in an aggressive manner that seemed to Obi-Wan to be the first he’d ever heard someone do such as thing. “I found some more New Mandalorians and a few of them actually had both ethics and a backbone.”

 

“What did you get from them?” Obi-Wan pulled out the chair at the desk and gestured with one hand for Quinlan to sit while using the other hand to move the clutter that had accumulated on the small table with some help from the force.

 

Quinlan plopped himself into the seat with a grunt, shifting to pull the data pad out of his tunic. “They want to make a new economy.”

 

“Satine never mentioned that.”

 

“Well, it seems she’s looking at her supporters with rose colored glasses on. Those people have two modes, ‘let’s make money’ and ‘I don’t like violence so let’s kill the people who do’. That’s a gross over generalization, but you get my point.”

 

Obi-Wan gently lowered himself down onto the foot of the bed, leaning forward to look at the data Quinlan was organizing and compiling. “I have no clue what you are doing right now.”

 

“It’s good that you are honest.” He teased, his fingers dancing across the screen and making patterns that shouldn’t have existed. “And here’s the biggest takeaway of them all.”

 

“Well, don’t keep it to yourself,” Obi-Wan implored. “I’ve already got enough of a lack of information to begin with.”

 

“Blame Cody.”

 

“He literally tried to keep me out of it.”

 

Quinlan hummed disbelievingly, pointing at the screen. “See here,” Obi-Wan did not see whatever he was supposed to be seeing. “We have an interconnected web of who every faction hates more.”

 

“Hate is a strong word.”

“Okay Master Yoda, but you have to admit, these people hold grudges.” Quinlan passed the data pad into Obi-Wan’s hands, turning in his seat to gesture to things he thought Obi-Wan needed to see.

 

“There’s actually a proverb in Mando’a that says the same thing.” Obi-Wan murmured, the majority of his concentration turned to the statistics Quinlan had shoved at him.

 

“I don’t want to know it, I’m fine being ignorant. But that’s not the point, if you look here, you can see that just about no one likes the New Mandalorians except themselves and a few True Mandalorians who have a deep deep dislike of Death Watch. I actually got to see the beginnings of a brawl over the subject, it was-”

 

“Quin.” Obi-Wan interrupted.

 

“Oh yeah, anyways, the True Mandalorians aren’t particularly liked, but neither Death Watch nor the New Mandalorians expressed an amount of animosity that I found matched the anger levels at each other. And for Death Watch, those crazy karkers owe me a drink or five, they have no love from the New Mandos. Cody’s clan either doesn’t care about Death Watch because they beat them in battle and enjoy watching the New Mandlorians suffer, or they want Death Watch to burn for all the slights to their reputation that have been committed.”

 

Obi-Wan watched as Quinlan drew in a deep breath, having speed-run the entire explanation. “Well, it’s good to know that there is some range.”

 

“It is a scale with many variations.” Quin agreed, he heaved in another breath and plastered an intense smile on his face. “So what did you do? I hope it was worth it, because I got mobbed and that is an experience that probably could’ve been prevented.”

 

Obi-Wan winced, thinking back to the cozy mid-meal he’d had with Jango and the subsequent tour that had gotten cut short. “I had a good time?”

“Don’t answer my question with a question.”

 

“Jango took me to get mid-meal in this hidden plaza where the armory is.”

 

Quinlan gave him a dead gaze. “That was a date.”

 

“No it wasn’t?”

 

“If you’re as unsure about that as you sound, then it most certainly was a date.”

 

Obi-Wan shook his head. “Don’t make it weird for Jango.”

 

“I’m making it weird for you. Your little crush is most definitely reciprocated.”

 

“You can stop now.” Obi-Wan decided forcefully. “And moving on, I learned some interesting things about the prophetess who got me involved in this mess.”

 

“You mean us. Got us involved.” Quinlan corrected.

 

“You volunteered.” Obi-Wan sighed, Quinlan’s constant flipping from being hired, to being but a poor volunteer, to being a man on a vacation that had been planned since before his birth was getting tiring.

 

“I sure did. Now what’s funky about our lady Pythia? Does she have a secret lair or a cult that guards her grave? Maybe a hometown that sells merchandise with her face on it out of her old home turned museum?”

 

“None of that. She predicted- well, she prophesied Tarre Vizsla.”

 

“Pre has a cousin? How quaint.” Quinlan said with an uninterested grunt.

 

Obi-Wan shook his head. “No, Tarre Vizsla was the only Mandalorian Jedi.” Quinlan stilled, his eyes blowing wide and his mouth falling open. Obi-Wan snapped his fingers in front of Quinlan’s face, disturbing him from his daze. “Are you alright?”

 

Quinlan surged forward, grabbing Obi-Wan’s shoulders. “He’s the one who built the darksaber. We are going to the Archives to snoop around, and we are going now.”

 

“Couldn’t we do this another day?” Obi-Wan tried to calm his heartbeat from the initial startle of Quinlan gripping his shoulders so quickly. “We have lightsaber training and I feel as if we’ve already done enough for the day.”

 

“Fine,” Quinlan relented with a grimace. “But tomorrow I’m going to kidnap Cody and he’s going to be our makeshift librarian.”

 

“I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.” Obi-Wan said with a distracted nod, his attention once again glued to the data pad in his hands and the multitude of interviews he was desperate to read. They could worry about the Archives tomorrow, but until Master Jinn knocked on the door and announced their training session was to begin, Obi-Wan would be taking in as much of the information as he could.

 

Chapter Text

 

“I don’t know how I got co-opted into this, but I don’t like it.”

 

Quinlan elbowed him in the ribs, and Cody fought a wince when the blow struck and he remembered he wasn’t wearing his beskar'gam . It would’ve been redundant to wear protection in the Archive and today he was playing the part of a scholar who two jettise fools thought was knowledgeable, so ‘common’ clothes it was instead. Cody was regretting that decision as well as allowing his mid-meal to be taken over by a rather convincing and impassioned speech by Quinlan. When the jettise had returned from their morning training, he had not expected to listen to a sweaty man recruit his fact finding skills.

 

A grin tugged at the side of Quinlan’s mouth as he noticed Cody’s unusual reaction. That weakness was going to be exploited later. “Don’t say that, we are here to support Obi’s early morning drug induced hallucinations.”

 

Obi-Wan spun around on the ladder step he was currently perched on, at story over their heads with a few data pads clutched under one arm. The ladder shifted and Obi-Wan’s reaction was halted as his face paled. “I- what?!” He demanded, his eyes wild.

 

Quinlan raised his hands in innocence. “Hey, I’m not here to judge. Using Spice to cope is a personal choice.”

 

Obi-Wan sputtered, disregarding his precarious position as he straightened up to defend himself. “I do not!”

 

“Cope?” Cody asked monotonously, sure it would mess with Obi-Wan even more. He deserved it for convincing Cody to sacrifice his afternoon. “Yeah, I’ve noticed.”

 

A choking noise prompted Cody to spin his head to where Quinlan looked like he was having a cardiac episode of some serious sort. A wide smile was plastered on his face and there were tears gathering in the corners of his eyes. He looked up to meet Cody’s inquiring gaze with an expression of surprise and absolute glee. “Marry me.” He wheezed, the sound barely making it past his lips.

 

“No.”

 

“That’s it.” Obi-Wan huffed indignantly, re-shelving the data pads he’d collected and climbing higher up the ladder. Cody didn’t know where he could possibly go, having already found himself towards the top of the shelf, but the jetti managed to disappear.

 

Quinlan’s silent laughter fit was slowly losing its hold and dissolving into loud and unabashed laughter. Cody poked his foot at the jetti as he lowered himself to the floor, not wanting Quinlan to roll around as his laughing carried it’s way through the entire Archives. It did not work and Cody shrugged when a t-visored buy’ce of a curious Mando’ad peered around one of the shelf ends to stare at them. If there was to be prying eyes, he was not going to be participating in the tom-foolery and the sentient form it took clutching it’s stomach at his feet.

 

He glanced down disapprovingly. If this was Quinlan's reaction to a simple joke, he really needed to reevaluate Quinlan's impression of him. “I’m going to need you to pull yourself together. Obi-Wan disappeared and I can’t have that on my record as being the reason he was never heard from again.”

 

Quinlan rolled onto his back and looked up at Cody. “Don’t worry-” He smacked his hand over his mouth in an attempt to stop chortling, after a few moments he had calmed down again. “-it cancels out because it’s you’re responsible for his presence in the first place.”

 

“I do blame you for that.” Cody was sure he would’ve jumped from Obi-Wan speaking unexpectedly behind him if not for the year-cycles of training he’d been subjected to. It spoke volumes about the abilities of the jetti if they could easily sneak up on him, Cody made a mental note to be more wary of his surroundings when the jetii’kad wielders were in his presence.

 

“Welcome back!” Quinlan sprang to his feet, forgetting that he'd been rolling on the ground but a second ago. “What did you find?” He looked at the stack of new data pads safely tucked away into the crevice of Obi-Wan’s arm.

 

“How to write a convincing eulogy.”

 

“Ah," He whined. "don’t be like that.”

 

“I tried Spice a total of once, there was no good need to bring that up again.”

 

Cody narrowed his eyes, trying to access Obi-Wan in the new light of knowing he had willingly done spice and then proceeded to tell Quinlan about it. The second decision struck him as rather odd. The redhead caught his gaze and shrugged. “I heard it was a good pain killer.”

 

“Was it?”

 

“Uh,” He looked to Quinlan for confirmation. The Kiffar shook his head after a second of hesitation. “that would be a no.”

 

“I wish you’d actually go to the medics sometime.” Quinlan tutted at Obi-Wan in a tone that gave Cody flashbacks to his buir ’s overbearing nature when it came to his ade ’s health.

 

The look on Obi-Wan’s face matched Quinlan’s disappointment with an equal air of exasperation. “I was slumming it in the streets of some crime ridden town on some backwater planet in the middle of the outer rim.”

 

“And who’s fault is that?”

 

Cody cleared his throat, plucking the data pads out of Obi-Wan’s arms and moving towards a table he’d dragged onto the middle of the aisle earlier. “I could care less. Come on, we’ve got work today.”

 

“Is this table supposed to be here?” Obi-Wan asked nervously, following Cody and settling himself across the table. Quinlan ignored their new direction and began to poke at the shelves with an academic interest Cody was confident he was faking. The jetti might have been able to write an engaging article that became the talk of an entire planet, but he doubted Quinlan would be able to sit still enough to find whatever obscure information he was looking for.

 

“No.” Cody responded simply. It wasn’t, but the Archivist, Dema, had yet to show up and reprimand him. Until that happened, Cody was going to play by the rules he was currently establishing as the newly appointed jettise -Archivist-tour guide.

 

Obi-Wan rung his hands, eyes scanning over his shoulder in fear. Cody watched the nervous gesture, wondering if Obi-Wan remembered that his movements could be seen and read without the obstruction of the outer jetti robe he had donned earlier. Cody wasn’t sure why he had abandoned the jetti attire for that of Mando’ad clothes, but he knew there was someone who wouldn’t be complaining about it.

 

A detail he hadn’t noticed before snagged his attention. “Obi-Wan,” He started carefully, distracting him from his surveillance. “Is that new?”

 

Obi-Wan looked down to the Mando’ad tunic that Cody had not seen before. “Oh this? Yes, I must have mentioned something about it to Jango and he sent this up to my room.”

 

He seemed unperturbed by the information that had just left his mouth and Cody did his best to not appear flabbergasted. Sure it was nice for Obi-Wan to dress in the traditional style of the planet in which he was dictating its fate, but this was different. Cody could care less about the meaning of fashion and the subtle messages in every outfit Kryze put on, but his had to have a meaning. That blue looked awfully familiar now that he thought about it and Jango’s quiet gloating the night before was causing his mind to work overtime.

 

Mirdala or’dinii .” He breathed out, too many realizations dawning on him at once.

 

Tion’ad ?” Obi-Wan questioned, a crease sitting between his brows.

 

Cody shook his head, determined to change the topic and abandon the previous conversation. “Why are you scared of the Archivist?”

 

“I’ve learnt my lesson.”

 

“Master Nu is pretty karking terrifying.” Quinlan agreed as he ambled up to them, two data pads in his outstretched hand. “Here, I got you these.”

 

Cody frowned. “What are they?”

 

“Children’s stories.”

 

“That section is across the Archive.” 

 

“Not anymore.”

 

Obi-Wan snorted and Cody rolled his eyes. Quinlan ignored their reactions and deposited his data pads and one of his always present gloves on the table.

 

“Is it time to feel up that hot hot knowledge?” Cody teased. Quinlan had given him a brief and information packed spiel about the power of psychometry that left him knowing next to nothing about the power Quinlan possessed.

 

“If I’m lucky,” He said with a grin. “which I am, the last readers of these data pads will have imprinted the information and the gains of their reading experience without me actually putting in the work.”

 

“It only worked like four separate times, Quin.”

 

“Obes, I have high expectations for these Mandos and you should too.”

 

“You really should.” Cody stressed, but his advice was lost on Obi-Wan who looked at him with dismissed confusion.

 

“Why children’s stories?”

 

Quinlan shrugged. “I figured this one called ‘Pythia’s Prophecies’ would be helpful for our investigation.”

 

Obi-Wan’s eyes widened comically and he lunged forward, snagging the data pad off the table and holding it up to his face. “Wait-” He frowned. “ Hibirar alii’gai, par ik’aad .” He looked up at Quinlan in confusion. “Why?”

 

“If I’m being honest, I have no idea what it says, I just liked the colors of that one.”

 

Cody nodded begrudgingly. “That is the point.”

 

Quinlan reached across the table to tip the data pad back so he could see the front of it while it was still in Obi-Wan’s possession. “Do either of you care to translate it?”

 

“Learn colors: for baby.” Obi-Wan replied offhandedly, letting the data pad fall from his grasp to Quinlan’s as he moved to retrieve the other data pad Quinlan had brought over. “I’m glad to know that you are comfortable enough to admit your level of maturity.”

 

Shi’yayc ,” Quinlan enunciated slowly, pointing to the yellow stripe tattoo that ran across the middle of his face and was set off by his dark complexion. He looked up at Cody who gave him a half smile. He had the talent to learn the language, but Cody was unsure if he wanted a version of Quinlan that was able to pick up every word he said. Only so many insults could go unheard.

 

“You two get back on track, I'm going to see about something.” Cody instructed. Perhaps Dema would be able to aid them in their quest for knowledge. The jettise looked at him incredulously, but Quinlan abandoned his study of Mando’a colors and turned his attention to whatever notes Obi-Wan was beginning to take.

 

“You do that,” Obi-Wan agreed, passing a data pad into Quinlan’s un-gloved hand and watching as his pupils disappeared. Cody turned away, watching the psychometry in action was too intimate and he had other things to watch in on. He made his way through the isles of shelves towards the entrance of the Archive where a familiar voice caused him to retreat into the shadows of a shelf to eavesdrop. He dropped into a squat and stilled all of his movements.

 

“Dema,” Kryze called in greeting, summoning the Archivist from whatever corner of the Archive she’d been lurking in before.

 

“Duchess!” Dema exclaimed. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence today?”

 

Cody heard some shuffling and the voices neared where he crouched. “Nothing much, I’m here to return that cook book you lent me.”

 

“Oh, how was it? Did you take my recommendation?”

 

“I did, but I will say that I am not the most proficient when it comes to making bread.” Kryze said with a slight apology in her tone. Cody thought back to Arla and the off-centered loaf she’d fed him for late-meal the night before. It had been good if not a little burnt and apparently she hadn’t been joking when she said Kryze had helped bake it.

 

Dema laughed quietly. “Did you bring any for me to try?”

 

“No, I am so sorry about that. It was eaten within the day.” Cody grimaced. He’d been the bread consumer, but Kryze didn’t need to know that.

 

“Oh well-” Dema was interrupted by the sound of new footsteps. “Hello.”

 

Cody peered around the corner, spotting Bo-Katan march up to the side of her ori’vod with a look of annoyance on her face. “Why didn’t you wait for me?” She pouted.

 

“I thought you didn’t want to come.” Kryze replied, brushing her hand across Bo-Katan’s forehead in an effort to contain her red hair behind her headband. 

 

“Well I did and I do.”

 

Dema plastered a smile onto her face, evidently deciding the interaction needed her interference. “Hello, is there anything I can do for you today?”

 

“Yeah … '' Bo-Katan looked up at Kryze worriedly, searching for any sign of retribution.

 

Kryze sighed. “An armor manual please.”

 

Cody barely stopped himself from taking in the sharp inhale of shock that threatened to reveal his position. Kryze wanted to learn about beskar’gam and it’s care? Or was she only doing it for Bo-Katan and her growing hero worship of Vizsla?

 

“Oh.” Dema breathed out. “Are you sure?”

 

“Bo-Katan wishes to learn, and who am I to stop her?”

 

Dema’s shocked response mirrored his own. Cody’s mind reeled. Surely … was Arla’s slow seduction of Kryze actually paying off? He new his ori’vod had no love for Kyr’tsad , and as a member of the Haat Mando’ade , Cody was unsure if she was managing to indoctrinate Kryze’s angry vod into authentic Mando’ad culture that wasn’t contingent on Vizsla and his nonsense. If Arla really was making progress with getting Kryze more comfortable with their culture and traditions, and if Kryze was even okay with her vod taking the first steps to earning her beskar’gam … this could change everything.

 

Cody shifted slightly to get a better view of the group. Dema opened and closed her mouth multiple times, her lekku twitching all the while. “O-of course, right this way. I have many sources to choose from. Follow me.”

 

Bo-Katan let Kryze follow the Archivist first, hanging back long enough to let her eyes roam over the shelves in the vicinity of where Cody lay in wait. Her eyes caught his and he nodded his head, a promise to her as well as himself. There was much that needed to happen, but the fight Bo-Katan was putting up now would pave the way for all manner of things. She acknowledged with a nod of one of her own and quickly trailed after the other two, not sparing even a glance back.

Cody slunk back to the table at which he had left Obi-Wan and Quinlan, finding Obi-Wan sitting on the table and Quinlan laying underneath it. “Should I bring chairs?”

 

“The floor is my home,” Quinlan replied simply, picking up one of his feet to kick at Obi-Wan. In return for the kick, Obi-Wan passed down another data pad. “besides, we won’t be here for too much longer.”

 

“Where are you going?” Cody took a seat on the floor, accepting the data pads Obi-Wan started to hand him.

 

“Those are for return,” He murmured, a hand stroking his chin as he continued to read.

 

Cody coughed, still wanting an anwer and Quinlan rolled over to face him. “What?”

 

“Where to?”

 

A grin stretched across Quinlan’s face. “To make some money.”

 

“We are not monetizing it.” Obi-Wan corrected, dropping down a data pad that almost collided with Quinlan’s face.

 

Cody frowned at the two of them. “I’m not going to pretend I understand.”

 

“I,” Quinlan announced, “am going to break the Holo News once more with the report chalk full of interviews that I spent too much time last night working on.”

 

“I thought it was already out?” Obi-Wan remarked, leaning over the edge of the table to peer at Quinlan.

 

“Nah, I had to get some time slots open for its release.”

 

“That’s tonight?” Cody asked incredulously. It was a mystery when the new report would be released, and the general public was abuzz with speculation and a few copy lothcats had begun to gather information about demographics in a way that mirrored the rumors about Quinlan’s method.

 

“In an hour,” Quinlan said casually before scooting out from under the table to glare at Obi-Wan. “if I could ever leave this Archive.”

 

Obi-Wan raised a single, condescending eyebrow. “This was your idea, Quin.”

 

“Well then, we’re done here.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed. “Fine, but I’m still missing some information.”

 

“Ask Jango-”

 

Cody interrupted Quinlan’s suggestion. “Or don’t!”

 

“-he knows everything.”

 

Obi-Wan looked between the two of them skeptically. “I don’t even know what is happening anymore.”

 

Cody looked up, hoping for a reprieve. “Neither do I,” He sighed. “neither do I.”



Chapter Text

 

Cody flung himself through Arla’s newly opened door, barely missing what would’ve been a painful collision with her as he stumbled through. She tsked at him, covering up a huff of laughter with feigned disgust.

 

“There are other ways to say hello.” She reminded him, closing the door casually as Cody stalked toward her coach. Jango was sprawled out, and while his buy’ce was covering his face, Cody knew from his too relaxed body language that his di'kutla  ori’vod was asleep. Cody continued toward his target, not stopping even as Arla made a warning noise. Jango wouldn’t be able to heed it in time to make any difference.

 

With one swift, calculated motion, Cody’s sharp elbow slammed down between beskar plates and into the only weak spot in Jango’s frontal torso beskar’gam . With direct hit, Jango startled awake, heaving out a wheeze of pain, hand whipping out a blaster from his side holster, its nose hit the one Cody was already aiming at him.

 

“What-” Jango had barely managed to growl out when Arla stepped between the two of them, a kitchen knife leveled under Cody’s chin that was one slight shift away from making contact and breaking the skin. Cody choked back a gulp that was sure to draw blood. Why did Arla sharpen her knives so much?

 

“Not in this household.” There was a steel in her voice and Cody had to force himself not to let his unbothered expression slip.

 

They stood there for a few beats of utter silence, none of them daring to take even a single breath. Cody met Arla’s eyes and took a step back when she inclined her head to the side.

 

“That’s better,” She acknowledged before threateningly turning around to point her utensil turned weapon of choice at Jango. “You’re next.”

 

Jango lowered his gun from its aim a Cody just a bit, a sign of potential surrender that only extended to Arla. Cody was still nowhere close to out of the woods yet. “What did I do?”

 

“I don’t know, but Cody probably has a good reason and that means I have a reason as well.”

 

Cody narrowed his eyes as the t-visor of Jango’s buy’ce met his gaze questioningly. “I always have a list of reasons.”

 

Arla sighed. “I bet you do, now please, if you could be so kind as to inform me why you thought it necessary to jump Jango out of his nap.”

 

“He deserved it-”

 

“I did not!” Jango protested.

 

Hiibir gar buy’ce be’chaaj ,” Arla demanded. “ Ni copaanir haa’taylir troan .” This was most definitely going to be used as a measure of guilt, but Cody already knew Jango was guilty. There needn’t be anymore confirmation, but what Arla wanted, she would get. “Now you,” she narrowed in on Cody. “Tell me.”

 

Cody straightened his shoulders and pointed an accusing finger in Jango’s direction who paused for a second before continuing his removal of the helmet Arla didn’t want obstructing his expressions. “ Or’dinii is already gunning for a courtship with the jetti .”

 

Arla and Cody both focused on Jango, seeing his reaction be limited to a look of mild confusion. “So? What of it?”

 

“So?” Cody echoed in disbelief.

 

“You’re just jealous because you didn’t think of it first.” Jango replied with mock sympathy.

 

“What,”

 

Arla nodded slowly. “I can see it, you and Quinlan wouldn’t be half bad together.”

 

“I-” Cody’s mouth dropped open and when Arla posture morphed into something resembling victory, Cody felt his anger possess him once more. “No. You don’t get to talk Miss ‘I’m sleeping with Kryze to get her to actually be a decent person’. Why didn’t you tell me this was your plan all along? This is not a game you get to partake in-”

 

“Wait, wait wait,” Jango interrupted, making a time out symbol with his hands as he rose from his seat on the couch, his brows were deeply furrowed. “Start again.”

 

Cody threw his hands in the air. “Why is it that every time we talk-”

 

“You’re dramatic, that’s why.”

 

“-Arla, if you don’t stop interrupting me I will impale either you or myself with that perfectly good kitchen knife turned shank. Here’s what’s up, Arla’s relationship with the Duchess of counter intuitive cults is a ploy to seduce her into having respect for her own culture, and Jango,” He glared at the man who looked nowhere as scared as he should’ve been. “He’s had a total of what, three meals? Three meals with Obi-Wan and now he thinks it’s okay to stake his claim like Obi-Wan is a particularly valuable piece of land and not a space wizard with a sword of kriffing light.”

 

Jetii’kad .” Jango corrected.

 

“That is entirely beside the point and you know it. And since when did you care?”

 

“Since last night.”

 

Cody inhaled sharply through his nose. “You went on an evening stroll didn’t you? That’s why you were late to aliit ca’nara .”

 

“How I spend my time is none of your business,” Jango flinched as Cody took a step forward to throttle him, he was only stopped by Arla’s arm holding him back with unwavering strength.

 

“Now boys-”

 

“Don’t think I haven’t forgotten about you,” Cody warned Arla. “Because I haven’t. I just want to know what you did and why you did it.”

 

From the other side of the room there came a throat clearing full of trepidation. All three of their heads whipped around to see Jaster standing by the door. “Am I interrupting something?"

 

Buir !” Jango called in relief. “You’re here!”

 

Jaster eyed them suspicious. “ … why wouldn’t I be? Are we not here for the report release?” He got no immediate answer. “Arla, put down the knife. Cody, sit down, you look like you are about to strangle someone. And Jango … what did you do?”

 

“What did I do?” Jango sounded offended, but Cody knew he had no right to be. He was treading dangerous waters and he had the audacity to play the victim. While he could potentially forgive Arla for keeping the knowledge from him that Bo-Katan was their newest tool in winning the throne if she gave a good enough explanation, what Jango was doing was too much. He couldn’t worm his way into Obi-Wan’s good graces and into the position of Mand’alor and then break his heart, that was too cruel and a move that Vizsla would make if he was smart enough to think of it.

 

“Let’s all sit down,” Jaster suggested, slowly walking over to take a seat in one of the two chairs opposite the couch in Arla’s seating area. Cody moved to take the other seat on the couch, a vantage point that would do him good in Jango’s murder. Unfortunately, Arla pushed him into the other chair and calmly lowered herself onto the couch, stashing her knife away innocently.”

 

Ade ,” Jaster started emphatically, setting down his cane. “I need you not to try and kill each other, is that too much to ask?”

 

“Yes.” Cody decided without hesitation.

 

He sighed. “You’re not even wearing beskar’gam . I don’t think you should be going against Jango without more preparation. And no,” He silenced Cody before he even had the chance to open his mouth. “Your anger and determination will not be enough to fulfill your need for bloodlust if the only weapon you have is that blaster with only half charge.”

 

Buir , how was your day?” Arla asked with a smile, leaning forward to block Jango from Cody’s view as she tried to turn the conversation to something more pleasant.

 

“It was fine, how was yours?”

 

“The same old, same old.”

 

Cody scoffed. “You got Kryze to admit she was wrong and then try and educate herself. That’s hardly the same old, same old.” The scene he’d watched play out in the Archive still conjured up questions that Arla had yet to offer any answer or explanation for.

 

Jaster raised an eyebrow as his face turned from impassive to impressed. “Did you now?”

 

“It shouldn’t be too surprising, all I had to do was get Bo-Katan to reconsider her hero worship of Pre Vizsla and project it onto someone more … honorable.”

 

“Who’s the victim?” Cody asked gleefully, hoping it was Jango. He deserved to be unlucky just this once with a rage filled pre-teen at his beckon to complete assassinations. He liked ade , but Bo-Katan would most certainly be a challenge to shape into a level headed beroya . “It’s Jango, isn’t it?”

 

Arla’s lack of an immediate response made Cody nervous. A smile creeped onto her face as it slipped off of his.

 

“Arla, gedet’ye , for the love of Manda , answer me.” He pleaded.

 

The devious glint in her eye made Cody’s heart drop and hopes shatter. “It’s you, dear vod .”

 

“I- no.”

 

“I’m afraid so.”

 

The memory of his spying in the Archives played through his head once more. Bo-Katan and spotted his hiding spot and felt the need to acknowledge his presence. He’d given her a nod of approval for the achievement and been met with what he now assumed to be her promise to obtain that armor manual. He shook his head, Cody had already done what Arla had insinuated to Bo-Katan that he’d do. “I don’t want to be a mentor.”

 

His buir frowned. “Cody this is a great privilege. You’ll be the bridge to the real Mando’ad culture for her.”

 

“Do I look responsible to you?” He demanded.

 

The looks he received were answer enough themselves, but Jango and Arla felt the need to voice their response in tandem. “Yes.”

 

Cody resisted the urge to stand up and leave Arla’s rooms. His own room and the peace and quiet it entailed were looking more enticing by the moment. “Enough about me,” He swivled in his chair to face Jaster. “Jango is-”

 

“I don’t know why you are upset about this.”

 

Jaster closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Jango, I’m going to let you explain whatever Cody is going on about.”

 

Jango nodded. “Given a little more time, I will be proposing a courtship.”

 

“To who?”

 

“Obi-Wan.”

 

Jaster’s eyes widened and the rest of his face went slack. “The jetti ?” His skeptical question was quickly followed by another. “And he’s letting you do this?” 

 

Jango looked affronted. “Are you saying he’s too good for me?”

 

“In a word,” Cody replied happily. “Yes.”

 

Jaster shook his head, Cody didn’t know if he was shaking off his surprise or disagreeing. “Cody, I’m going to need to hear your side of this story.”

 

“Jango’s got him wearing his shirt.”

 

Jaster let out a low whistle. “Bold, I can respect it.” Cody sputtered as Jango smirked. To Mando’ade , the courtship process was important and an integral part of the establishment of a relationship. When a riduurok was formed, it was unlikely to be broken. When one married, it was usually for life. Cody knew that Manda gave many a predestined partner, a matching half to recognize at first glance, but Obi-Wan already had enough Manda ordained prophecy and destiny at his disposal. Jango seemed to be serious and Cody didn’t know whether to believe it or not.

 

Jango had made a claim when giving Obi-Wan his shirt. His signature color scheme, recognized as the one belonging to the aliit alor would be easy enough to see for most Haat Mando’ade . It was practically him saying ‘mine’ and letting his advances be known to ward off any other potential suitor. And Obi-Wan was oblivious to it. Kark, that was the worst part.

 

“Are we missing the full picture here?” Cody demanded. “Sure it’s nice that maybe Jango has found someone to torture with his presence for the rest of their lives, but have we even considered that Obi-Wan knows nothing about this?”

 

“If he seems interested, then there’s no inherent harm. If Jango is the true Mand’alor , it could very well be Manda ’s pull of two intertwined souls.” Jaster offered in consolation.

 

Now that was a twist Cody hadn’t thought about. Perhaps it was written in the fabric of fate, but it all seemed so quick for Jango to be making these decisions. Something was up and he could decipher what.

 

Arla cleared her throat, holding up a data pad that hadn’t been there before. She had a talent for manifesting items and it confused Cody to no end. “The report was released.”

 

“We’ll touch back on this later.” Cody hissed towards Jango. 

 

Jango gave him a feral smile. “ Kaysh ner .

 

Chapter Text

 

Arla gazed intently at the data pad in front of her, ignoring Cody’s frantic scramble to find one and Jango suddenly leaning over her shoulder. His was heavy and an unwelcome presence to be stabbing into her side. She briefly considered the mandatory removal of upon entry to her rooms to be a house rule, but discarded the idea when she remembered Cody’s attack on Jango’s life earlier. Cody was devious and steady handed when it came to weapons, it was best if the rest of them had some chance against his sudden death wishes. As much as he pretended to be long suffering and level headed, he was the worst of them all.

 

“Arla,” her sighed out. “That’s my data pad.”

 

“So that’s where you got it,” Cody accused from across the room, sifting through the things cluttering her table. “Your tricks won’t be secret for much longer. Now where’s the other data pad?”

 

Arla looked up to see that Cody had organized her table of stuff into three piles. He was unfortunately tidy that way and Arla did not need him to be digging through her things for much longer. “I’m sure it's on the counter,” She suggested, hoping that it was.

 

“It’s not.” Cody called. A furrow making itself known between his brows. Arla shrugged in response, her next wild guess would probably be as fruitless as the first one.

 

Jango shifted in his seat next to her, pulling the data pad in her hands towards his. “If you aren’t going to be reading-”

 

“Watch it.” She grunted, ripping it out of his grip. Jango would learn what the report said in due time.

 

“Arla,” He huffed out. “Come on.”

 

“Arla why do you have my shoes?” Cody’s voice carried from the room connected to the dining area, the locked door looked like it had been overridden by a hot-wiring job if the open plating and exposed wires were anything to go by.

 

“Cody!” She exclaimed angrily, jumping up from the couch and throwing the data pad at Jango who gave out a noise of success. Arla scrambled after Cody and flung herself through the door, tackling him and letting them both careen towards the hard floor.

 

“Hey, I’m not the one at fault here!” Cody protested, kicking up at Arla who tried to wrestle him into submission.

 

She grunted and deftly ducked to the side to avoid a well aimed fist. “You most certainly are, ever heard of a little thing called privacy?”

 

“You sold me out and stole my shoes,” They rolled to the side, Cody kneeing Arla in the stomach as she twisted his arm. “

 

“You will when I spare your life.

 

He scoffed, rising only to jump back down, elbow primed to make direct contact with one of the openings between Arla’s ribs. “ .” She winced, but moved on from the pain, this was still merely play fighting. 

 

” Arla asked as she saw an opening in Cody’s defense. “You have nothing on me, I cannot be touched.” That much was only partially true, Arla knew that the next move she was to make would drastically change the outcome of their little scuffle.

 

, . ” He spat out, wiping away blood that trickled from his nose. Arla’s punch had hit its target, and now that she had drawn blood, all rules were off the table and far out of the window.

 

“Who?” She asked. “Satine?” She was the only one Cody could possibly be threatening with bodily harm in retribution. This seemed to anger Cody more at the mention of Satine’s name. Arla knew that her were not fond of Satine and she herself had no love for the New Mandalorians, but the glint in Cody’s eyes and the deadly intent it betrayed scared her.

 

He rolled off of her, letting them both catch their breath as Cody looked wildly around the room. Arla had locked up the area their had outfitted for her training. Jaster had assured her that the regaining of the skills she had lost when in the oppressive hands of would be easy to relearn with the bits and pieces of muscle memory etched into her memory, and so a space had been constructed for that purpose.

 

 Arla had readily agreed to the one on one lessons with him on one condition, that it was a private affair. Neither of her were informed and no prying eyes watched as she was bested time and time again in combat. She suspected that Jango had a vague clue of her reintegration into the , but Cody had never gone snooping before. Her carefully constructed facade to hide the failures she wished not to be seen had been shattered by Cody’s quest for a mere data pad.

 

Cody made eye contact once more, no judgement in his gaze, only blood lust. He quickly broke it when Arla made no immediate move for attack, launching forward to get his hands on a wooden training staff. He stood, pointing the less dulled end towards Arla, a challenging look in his glare. “Any last words?”

 

Arla shifted in her crouch, getting ready to pounce on him. Cody was strong and he was scrappy, but Arla knew his fighting style, while the only bit of her’s he’d seen was in the past few minutes. The fool liked to use his legs for leverage, and would not resist the temptation to do so given the opportunity. Arla lunched at him, ducking under the staff that swung at her head and hooking a foot around the leg not kicking out to nail her face. Cody seemed to recognize where she was going, but was too slow to react when Arla toppled his balance, slammed him to the ground, and put him in a headlock.

 

“Yeah I’ve got some last words,” She gave him a smug smile, stilling his movements of struggle by tightening her arms around his neck. “

 

“The two of you get back in here!” Came Jaster’s ringing command from where they’d left him in the sitting area.

 

Arla released her grip on Cody and moved to leave the no longer secret training room only to be tripped by Cody as he pushed past her towards the door. “I’d sleep with one eye open if I were you.” He suggested, the false nicety in his tone not quite concealing the threat.

 

!” Jaster called again, more force in his words as he demanded their presences again.

 

Arla filed in after Cody, eyeing Jango as he continued to pour over the data pad, not sparing a glance at the bruises forming on Cody’s face or the blood on Arla’s hand.

 

“What were you thinking?” Jaster gestured angrily for them both to take a seat once more. “This behavior is unacceptable. Do you understand?”

 

Cody bowed his head. “ .”

 

Arla nodded, but stared straight ahead. She would not apologize for trying to protect her privacy, but she would acknowledge that way she handled it could have been better.

 

", now listen to Jango. He will be reading out the report.”

“I never agreed to do that.”

 

“This isn’t a matter of agreement, you will cooperate or surrender the data pad.”

 

Jango frowned. “Fine, but I’m starting where I left off and you all can read the rest of it without my narration.”

 

“Fair enough,” Jaster consented.

 

Jango hummed, eyes roving back over the data pad til he found his spot once more. “Here it is, the quote unquote bonus interview.”

 

Cody leaned forward, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. “Who of?”

 

Jango ignored the interruption, continuing his reading now word for word. “The interviewee is Obi-Wan Kenobi, padawan of the Jedi Order. Take the following with what you will, but it is intended as a mere suggestion offered up to the public to decide whether it is implemented or not.” Jango’s eyebrows merged together and glanced up as if looking to Jaster for permission to continue.

 

“What did Vos ask?” Their asked warily. Cody was the only one who had spent a great deal of time with both of the jettise and  Arla couldn’t tell if that was the reason for his lack of star-struckness or if he was simply that way to begin with.

 

“It can’t be that bad,” Cody muttered. “Quinlan wouldn’t have been able to keep it quiet for that long if it was.”

 

Jango placed the data pad face up on the low table that sat in the middle of the configuration of seats. “I can’t read that coherently.”

 

Arla leaned forward to see.

 

[direct translation from data file: ‘loser_thought_this_was_small_talk’]

 

Q: So how are you feeling about this data gathering? Is it scientific enough for you?

 

A: Quin, I just want to sleep. Please take your work station away from me.

 

Q: Talk to me for a bit and I will, I promise. Favorite interview so far, go.

 

A: You can’t spring questions like that on me, but I’m going to have to go with the woman who told me that she liked my approach to the whole election thing. 

 

Q: That was at least half of the people we’ve talked to.

 

A: But she said it so casually. The others made it seem like I was going to be the next chapter in a history textbook.

 

Q: (pause) You are.

 

A: I don’t want to talk about that.

 

Q: Okay, so then let’s talk about what your next step is. I’m genuinely curious if you have a solid plan or not yet.

 

A: I don’t even know, perhaps this next go round the people vote out a candidate and the two others leftover fight to the death or something. Kidding, kidding-

 

Q: So now you are sanctioning ritual murder? I knew you had a darker side, but (laughter)

 

A: My hands are hardly clean from violence. They are clean from the ritualistic kind though. No actually in Mandalore of old, the contestants for the title of would fight to death or surrender. A show of power and skill to prove competency.

 

Q: Oh ho ho, bringing back the old ways I see? Sprinkle in a bit of democracy before letting the others go at it with premeditated weapons? I like it. When would you have the vote?

 

A: Kark, (pause) like as soon as possible? I don’t want to drag out this process any longer than it needs to be, that only breeds tension and distrust. They’ve already been at each others’ throats for year-cycles now. I don’t know how long it would take to tally up so many votes though. How many Mandalorians are off-world?

 

Q: You could have clans vote.

 

A: Nice sentiment, but have you considered internal corruption or bribery? 

 

Q: I have now. What if the pacifistic Duchess was voted into the ring?

 

A: (pause) Great point, scrap the whole idea and whomever throws me headfirst into an active volcano gets the honor of giving me the sweet release of death. Quin, you ask me too many questions. Perhaps a contest of skills where she can, I don’t know, show proficiency at something other than fighting that is equal in cultural weight? We’ll have to build that bridge when we get there.

 

Q: Don’t you mean- I guess not.

 

[end of translation]

 

Arla looked up, glancing wildly at Jango who smirked at her. “This is perfect.”

 

“You won’t hurt Satine.” Arla said with an air of finality. She was not willing to let her get hurt. Satine was slowly letting up the preconceived and very wrong notions she had concerning culture that wasn’t pacifistic. Bo-Katan was pushing her towards an open acceptance and Arla was willing to guide and nurture that. Satine had already come so far and while her faction had yet to make the small but steady chances she was adopting, with time they would. There was a future to build here that was grounded in trust and understanding rather than blood and submission.

 

“That is not something you can control.”

 

“Don’t forget, I can hurt you back in the same way.” She growled. It was an empty threat, but Jango didn’t have to be sure of that knowledge. Arla adored Obi-Wan and she knew if a single hair on his head was moved out of place with less than pure intent, the entirety of would be after her. But points had to be made, even if they were flimsy and broke apart on inspection.

 

Luckily for her, Jango had yet to catch on, fixating on the potential harm promised on Obi-Wan and nothing more. “Over my dead body.”

 

Cody sighed. “Then just prepare for a fight against Vizsla. If we ignore the other possibility, we don’t have to do this rotating parade of threats. Or better yet, what if Jango is voted out?”

 

“This path is only a suggestion for the continuity of the selection. Besides, Jango has the at his back, the others are the ones who would need to worry about getting enough votes.”

 

,” Cody complained. “Can’t I try to mess with Jango without your words of accuracy and wisdom?”

 

.”

 

Cody stood up. “I’m going to go now.”

 

 

He rolled his shoulders and hissed as a joint popped back into place. “I think I’m going to sleep.”

 

“This early?” Arla asked worriedly, late-meal had been but an hour ago.

 

Jango snorted. “He’s got to go recharge before he attempts another murder.”

 

“I’ll be more prepared next time.”

 

“And I’ll see you tomorrow.” Jango said with a solemn nod. Arla wondered if she needed to get involved in this planning session, but Jaster’s shake of head was enough of a reason to stay out of it. She had no good incentive to stop either of them and it was not worth it to try.

 

Chapter Text



----

 

Obi-Wan watched as Quinlan shifted uncomfortably in his seat, accidentally knocking shoulders with Master Tholme as he glanced around the room. The movement of his eyes was erratic and fast, making Obi-Wan concerned for how much he was taking in, let alone actually processing into useful information. They’d woken up early to train off in the one of the smaller, and less maintained courtyards near their rooms. Somehow Master Jinn had won access and the shaky promise of privacy while occupying the space in a bet. He won a lot of things that way.

 

After the quick early-meal they’d snarfed down before any trace of light had begun to appear in the sky, they had trained for hours. Obi-Wan kicked at Quinlan from the bench across from him, wondering why his friend was not taking their well deserved break from katas and practice duels to actually relax. He knew Quinlan had to have been tired, but instead of showing signs of sluggishness that would correspond with the ashy shade his skin was taking, he was a buzz with nervous jitters.

 

“Quin,” He tried, nudging at him again. “Are you okay?”

 

“Why would you ask that? Do I not seem okay? Because I can assure you that I am. I’ve never felt better, the sun is shining and I am breathing in the sweet air of life. Everything is perfect and nothing has ever been wrong. I-”

 

Master Tholme clamped a hand over Quinlan’s mouth, interrupting the rambling stream of false positivity. “I’m going to need you to stop.” A furrow appeared between Quinlan’s brows and he tried to pry off the oppressing hand to no avail. 

 

Qui-Gon leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Did something go wrong?”

 

“Take a wild guess,” Tholme muttered fondly, releasing Quinlan from his unbreakable hold of silence. Quinlan frowned at him.

 

“Well, it’s not my fault.”

 

Obi-Wan watched Master Tholme almost crack a smile. “Is it ever?”

 

“Is it about the report?” Obi-Wan desperately hoped it wasn’t. There was already enough speculation surrounding the ill advised census collected on a day trip to the shopping district. With the influx of Mandalorians caravaning to the city, it was hopeful that they had at least gotten a mildly accurate set of data for the opinions of the citizens. If it wasn’t, they had gone on the interviewing spree for nothing more than a canister of tea, a pair of boots, and a lunch with Jango.

 

Quinlan chuckled nervously. “Partly,”

 

“You’re going to have to be more specific than that.” Obi-Wan tried to sound calm as his mind started to race and palms began to sweat.

 

“Uh, what do you want to hear first? The newly cemented plan for how the rest of this whole ordeal goes or the backlash I’ve gotten?”

 

Obi-Wan froze in place, all of the blood draining from his face as his tongue turned leaden. Luckily, Tholme still had the ability to speak.

 

“Did you get death threats or just complaints?”

 

Quinlan twitched. “There is no such thing as a mere complaint here. The least aggressive messages have at least one promise alluding to my death. The worst are the ones with an itinerary supplemented with graphic descriptions. My fingernails will be the first to go.”

 

“Say that again … ” Master Jinn sounded as shocked as the rest of them felt.

 

“The New Mandalorians only wish me harm, like falling on my lightsaber or tripping down a flight of stairs and breaking my neck.”

 

Quinlan was met with a silence. He began to drum his fingers on legs as he looked anywhere but the three sets of eyes staring at him in disbelief.

 

Obi-Wan was finally able to shake himself from the initial shock that had overcome him. “ ... what were you saying about the plans?”

 

Quinlan gave him a tight smile. “People seem to be on board with your original plan. Last I heard, voting centers are starting to organize. There’s a whole group responsible for this, government officials and volunteers. So you don’t have to do that much work?”

 

“Huh,” He breathed out, unsure if there was anything to express. This was simultaneously better and much worse than he could have ever imagined.

 

Quinlan nodded stiffly. “Yup.”

 

“Are you sure about the New Mandalorians? They are pacifists.” Qui-Gon didn’t sound even slightly convinced by his own objection.

 

Tholme heaved a deep breath. “I’ve never had a more passive aggressive interaction than those that I had with the New Mandalorians.”

 

“Why’s that? Did you antagonize them?”

 

Master Tholme narrowed his gaze. “I wish I had. No, they just didn’t like that I had a weapon which they claimed made my threat of violence more sincere.”

 

“Threat of violence?” That sounded like an accusation if Obi-Wan had ever heard one.

 

“Some bargains need to be made.” Tholme responded mildly, drawing out a choking noise from Master Jinn’s throat. “They also called me a child snatcher which is ironic.”

 

“You’ve only snatched what? Three children tops?” Quinlan teased with a laugh, seeming glad some of the attention had been turned off of him.

 

“You stole Aayla.” Tholme deadpanned, referring to the little Twi'lek girl Quinlan had liberated on an undercover mission to disrupt a trafficking circle. He’d returned with Aayla’s arms attached to his neck and a devotion to the girl he now treated as his own daughter of sorts. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure if he had imagined it or not, but he thought he had seen Quinlan signing a few forms under the guise of Aayla’s legal guardian. She was one of the special initiates who knew they never needed to worry about being chosen for a padawanship.

 

“That doesn’t count!” He protested. “She was already stolen, it cancels out!”

 

Master Jinn coughed awkwardly. “So, what I’m gathering here is that the election will be continuing without guidance on Obi-Wan’s part for some time. Until one of the candidates is eliminated, we should lay low.”

 

That sounded about right. Obi-Wan was okay with sleeping for a few days. Maybe he could even wake up to discover this had all been some scary realistic hallucination and they’d finally revived him from a comatose state. It would take a while for the organizers to finish their planning, let alone get all of the results in. Some of the Journeyman Protectors in the rural parts of Mandalore and her two moons lived almost completely off grid, protecting villages that were also as disconnected as their security forces.

 

He’d have time to investigate Pythia further, having stumbled across some promising leads in the few chapters he’d skimmed in the Archives the day before. Jango’s mentioned ghost sightings in the  coupled with the mysterious door Obi-Wan now believed to have been an illusion woven together by the force, he had a lot to look for.

 

“Lay low?” Quinlan questioned, unaware of the thoughts and plans swirling together in Obi-Wan’s crowded mind.

 

“You did receive death threats, did you not?” Qui-Gon reminded him sternly.

 

“I’d be grateful if they actually went through.”

 

Obi-Wan sighed. “No Quin, you wouldn’t.”

 

“Fine,” He amended quickly. “I wouldn’t be upset.”

 

“Is there anything in particular we need to watch out for?” Tholme asked, his eyes trained onto Quinlan as if he could pry the answer out of him. “Any warning signs for an imminent attack?”

 

“Uh, maybe don’t shake anyone’s hand.”

 

“Can do,”

 

They lapsed back into silence, letting the information seep in. Obi-Wan once again wondered about the voting and the logistics of it all, a concern that would only need his involvement when tallies were finally counted, but still he worried.The threats didn’t sound as bad as he would’ve thought given that Mandalorians were the ones sending them, but perhaps Quinlan had toned them down to ease their worries and calm their nerves. Obi-Wan briefly thought of going to Cody for insider information and a viewpoint of the situation from someone who had a more comprehensive view. It would be a reasonable request of the Mandalorian.

 

“Quin,” He started quietly. “What about Cody-”

 

“I already asked. Called him early this morning.”

 

“What did he say?”

 

Quinlan shrugged. “He told me to talk to him when he wasn’t swamped with duties that I deposited onto him by partial accident and then hung up on me.”

 

If Cody was busy, that meant that Jango was as well. Obi-Wan frowned at that revelation, he’d enjoyed the time he’d spent with Jango this trip, their evening walk being the most recent of them all. Perhaps it was for the best that he wouldn’t be able to take up Jango’s time at the moment, as occupied as he was with trying to secure his future. No, Jango had a prophecy to try and fulfill while Obi-Wan had the prophetess to investigate.

 

He’d start with the data pads taken from the Archives and try to trace his way back to where the talking door had appeared as a fabrication of the force. The cryptic words echoed in his mind once more, ‘Perhaps inside you will find what you need. Or perhaps not. After all, what you seek is not what you should be looking for’ .

 

There was a trap woven into those words, but Obi-Wan was willing to spring it. If the door didn’t lead him to what he needed to find, it would at least give him a clue to what exactly he was searching for.