“Clear the atmosphere and prepare to jump,” Bo Katan instructed her comrade as she let the body of the dead Imperial slump to the floor.
He was useless to her now and she was no closer to finding the dark saber. Glancing to her right, she saw the sullen, silver-clad Mandalorian move swiftly out of the pilot’s chair. He would need to get off now if he was going to make it back to Trask before they jumped.
“Are you sure you won’t join us?” She asked although she already knew his answer. He was stubborn and set in his ways; personality traits she’d picked up on the minute they’d met.
“There’s something I need to do,” he replied. She noted how he didn’t add “first”, meaning he wasn’t planning on joining them later. Still, she felt like she couldn’t just leave it that way. She’d like to think their paths would cross one day. He was a Mandalorian after all.
“The offer still stands if you change your mind.”
“Where can I find the Jedi?” Ah so he’s not going to give up on that one, she thought to herself.
Swiftly she removed her helmet so that he might see her face one more time. Perhaps part of her thought he might too but he remained fixed in place. “Take the foundling to the city of Calodan on the forest planet of Corvus. There you will find Asoka Tano. Tell her you were sent by Bo-Katan. And thank you, your bravery will not be forgotten.”
He stood silently, as if pondering her words, or perhaps he was dissociating. Guilt prodded at her a bit. It must have been pure shell shock for him to find out there were others, other codes, other Ways. To be raised one way for so long only to be told that most of it was a lie. Maybe there had been a better way to explain the truth. However, there was still one thing that united all Mandalorians and she decided to offer it to him.
“This is the way,” she said.
“This is the way,” he replied. There was a tone of relief in his voice. He moved like he was going to exit the cockpit but instead swayed on his feet for a moment and stumbled. She put a hand up, ready to catch him if he needed it.
“Hey, you alright?”
She heard his breath hitch violently as his hand moved up and pressed against his lower abdomen. He brought his hand away and the orange tips of his gloves were stained red. Her eyes darted from his gloves to his torso and she could see the bottom of his flak vest start to turn red with his blood.
“K-kriff,” he gasped and his legs gave out. Bo-Katan moved swiftly and caught him in her arms.
“Koska! He’s hurt, we need to chart a course for the nearest system with a good healer,” Bo-Katan called.
“F-foundling,” Din choked out. The initial shock of being shot was wearing off fast and the pain was hitting him fast and hard, pinpointing the wound on his side, on the lower left quadrant of his abdomen, and on his right leg just above his knee. Shot three times. That couldn’t be good. But he had to get back to the kid. He was waiting for him. He promised he’d be back. “F-frog…..promised to b-be back,” Din wheezed out. He probably sounded utterly insane but he had to make them see.
“Easy. Hey, just calm down. It’s alright. You’re alright. We’re going to get you to a healer,” Bo-Katan soothed gently as she tried to press a hand to at least one of the wounds on his torso.
Din was hit with a sinking realization. They were going to leave his foundling behind. He couldn’t let that happen. His head was swimming now and he found it difficult to concentrate or breathe. The blood was seeping out of his body faster than Bo-Katan could keep it in. He had to get back to the kid; make him understand that he hadn’t been abandoned by his guardian.
“N-no, p-please,” Din growled as he fought against Bo-Katan’s hold. “The foundling. The child…” Din was gasping and making frightening choking sounds that echoed in the modulator in his helmet and Bo-Katan could hear the desperation in his voice. Din wouldn’t allow them to leave without the funny long-eared baby they’d rescued earlier and she was afraid he was going to slip away from them right on the floor of the cockpit if they didn’t move him to the med bay and stabilize him.
“Woves, can you find back and find the foundling? Trask is small and he said something about frogs. That should be a clue. Make haste. We won’t make the jump until you return but with the distress beacon activated we won’t have much time before the Imperials arrive.”
“Copy that,” Woves fired off as he stood and jogged out of the cockpit.
“Maintain trolling speed, for now, Koska. We’ll make the climb when Woves returns.” The female Mandalorian nodded and turned her attention back to the flight controls, leaving Bo-Katan to focus on the injured Mandalorian in her arms. “Alright, Woves is going to get your foundling. They will return soon. Will you let me get you to the med bay so I can work on getting you stabilized?”
Din let out a harsh groan and panted through the waves of pain washing over him. He gave a small nod and squeezed his eyes shut. They needed to move now or he was going to pass out. He could feel the darkness rushing to overtake him.
“Alright. We’ll take it slow,” Bo-Katan reassured as she began to help him move to his feet. He overrode her movements and struggled to push himself up as fast as possible. “Easy, Vod. Whoa, take it easy!” She called as Din stood up with a raspy growl and started to limp. A sharp cry tore from his lips as pain shot through his injured leg and he very nearly went down. Bo-Katan caught him again and prevented him from completely face planting onto the floor.
“B-blacking out,” Din wheezed. His vision was graying fast.
“Ok. Ok, easy. Easy. We’ll move quickly. Keep the weight off that leg and lean on me,” she directed and helped him limp away from the cockpit and down the hall.
Thankfully the med bay wasn’t far and she let out a sigh of relief when she finally got him lying down on one of the cots. Din’s body went lax almost immediately and his head lolled to the side. With a twinge of fear, Bo-Katan felt for his pulse but it quickly dissipated when she felt it jumping and hammering frantically against her fingers. She was thankful that he was unconscious because that would make this next part a little easier. Swiftly she stripped off his armor and got his shirt off as well. She elected to leave his dark pants on. They had, after all, just met and he struck him as someone who wouldn’t enjoy being so exposed in front of strangers. She could still treat the blaster wound with his pants on anyways. Out of habit she reached for his helmet but stopped herself as her hands rested on the cold steel. It was pure insanity to expect him to leave his helmet on when he was so gravely injured but she decided against it. Only until it was absolutely necessary would she respect his beliefs and leave the helm in place.
First thing’s first, she needed to stop the wounds from bleeding and try to get them packed and bandaged until they reached a healer. Quickly, she moved throughout the bay, rifling through drawers and bins. She found cotton, rolls of gauze, four syringes of pain-killer, and a vile of Bacta. The Bacta was hardly enough to make a difference but it was better than nothing. Hopefully, Woves would be back soon and they could make the jump to the next system quickly. Moving back to his bedside, she set the items down within arms reach and started the process of packing the wounds. She started out by taking the Bacta and dripping it carefully into his wounds. He was silent and still for this part. However, the minute she started shoving the cotton into the wound on his side he came to life. His back arched against the cot and he let out a tortured scream that shook his steel helmet and echoed throughout the med bay. He was fighting her hands sluggishly as he tried to keep them from inflicting him with any more pain.
“Hey! I’ve got to do this or you’ll bleed out. You have to let me do this,” Bo-Katan pleaded.
“Need help?” Bo-Katan turned to see Woves standing in the door frame of the med bay.
“Where’s the foundling?” She asked him. There was a twinge of worry in her chest. The injured Mandalorian might rip himself to pieces if they couldn’t manage to track down his son.
“I heard the scream and left him in the cockpit with Koska,” he explained.
“Good. I might need your help holding him down. This isn’t pleasant in the slightest.” She turned to the injured man and rested her hand on the side of his helm, getting him to look at her. “Did you hear that? Your foundling is here. You can see him as soon as I get these wounds packed. Ok? Just hang on and I’ll make this as fast as possible.” She looked to Woves who nodded and rested his hands on Din’s shoulders, ready to hold him down if he needed to. Without another moment of hesitation, she resumed packing the wound with cotton.
Another harsh scream rang through Din’s helmet as he bucked and writhed. When Woves pressed him down to the mattress Din abandoned twisting his hands up in the blankets underneath him and instead took to clawing desperately and Woves’ steel chest plate, trying to either escape or anchor himself. All awkwardness about having just met flew out the window as Woves held Din tightly in his embrace and murmured comforting words to him and tried to get him to breathe regularly. Din let out another shout and it carried with it the tremendous agony he was experiencing. When Bo-Katan finished packing the last wound Din sagged exhaustedly against Woves, panting and shaking. Woves had to admit, the Mandalorian impressed him. He’d never witness a man withstand so much pain and not pass out. He couldn’t quite understand the depth of Din’s mental fortitude, especially as the injured man continued to hold on for dear life and refused to give in to the welcoming darkness as Bo-Katan began wrapping the wounds with the gauze.
“Th-the child…” Din moaned. He’d said something similar on Trask after he’d been saved from drowning but this time the words carried so much pain and desperation. “Where i-is he?” He choked on a breath and groaned.
“He’s in the cockpit. I’ll fetch him,” Woves offered as he eased Din back to the cot and got to his feet.
“While you’re there, tell Koska to make the climb so we can jump the moment we leave the port. Have her chart a course for the nearest system with a good healer. It’s the only way we can save him.”
Woves nodded in compliance and left the med bay in a hurry. As his footfalls disappeared, the med bay was plunged into silence, which only amplified the Mandalorian’s horrible gasping attempts at breathing. She spotted an oxygen mask connected to a valve on the wall and crouched beside him again.
“Hey, your breathing isn’t sounding too good. I need to get you on some extra oxygen. I’ll have to remove your helmet.
“N-no,” Din ground out as the pain pulled a raspy whimper from him.
“You need it! It’ll help your breathing which is far too fast and shallow!” She protested.
“No. It is forbidden. It stays on,” Din replied. As if to capitalize on her words, she watched as he gripped the sheets and begin to work at slowing his breathing down. She could tell It was sapping all his energy but he really was going to fight her on this every step of the way even if it killed him. Why was he so frustrating?
“Fine, but if I think you’re anywhere close to going into severe respiratory distress the helmet’s coming off and I’m not taking no for an answer.”
Woves entered the med bay and Din’s head lolled towards the sound of the baby cooing. Upon seeing him, he stretched a hand out weakly, almost desperate to hold him. The baby, sensing something was wrong even from his place in Woves’ arms reached out and squealed for his father as he made little grabby hands at him. Woves put the foundling into Din’s hands but he didn’t trust the shaky limbs and guided Din’s arms back to a neutral position on the bed. The foundling, content that he was safe with his father cooed sadly at him, almost frightened by the pain the man was in. Din rested a hand on the baby’s back and rubbed soothing circles.
“I-it’s ok. I-I’m-“ a sharp jolt ran through his body and his back arched as a mean wave of pain made him cry out pitifully.
“Hey, vod. Why don’t we get one of those painkillers into you alright? Give me a second.” Bo-Katan sorted through the materials she’d brought and found and pulled out one of the syringes. She took his bare arm into her hands, feeling the warmth in them. His hands were no doubt strong and his toned arms spoke of a life that demanded him to be at his peak physical shape. Scanning the rest of his body, she ascertained that he’d accomplished that. “Painkiller is going in now. You should start feeling better soon,” she soothed as she inserted the needle into Din’s vein and pressed down on the plunger, releasing the medication into his bloodstream.
The effects took a few minutes to kick in, but bit by bit Din was relaxing and sagging bonelessly against the cot. The child, who’d been watching everything that had gone on, buried his face fearfully against his protector’s shoulder and trembled.
Bo-Katan switched off her warrior mode for a minute and looked at the little green baby. “It’s alright. He’s going to be just fine. We’ll take good care of him until we can get to a healer.” Her voice was full of kindness and the baby looked up at her and offered a timid coo.
“Thank you,” Din murmured breathlessly. She almost missed his words.
“Thought maybe you’d drifted off on us,” she said as she pulled a thick blanket over his shivering form, taking care not to cover the child’s head with it.
“Headed there,” he slurred.
“Get some rest. We’ll keep watch. You’re safe here,” Bo-Katan reassured. It was almost as if he’d been waiting for her permission and his body went limp as he gave into unconsciousness at last. He really was a Child of the Watch. She found herself studying his prone form, taking in the sight of him and his foundling.
“We’ve charted a course for Inosca,” Woves reported and Bo-Katan looked at him incredulously.
“Inosca? That nearly a ten-hour journey! There wasn’t anything closer?”
Woves shook his head. “Not that has a decent healer. We’re also trying to put some distance between us and the Imps.”
“I suppose it’ll do no good to get caught by them after we’ve fought so hard to get their ship.” She cast a glimpse at Din. “We need to hurry and not waste one second. He sacrificed himself to save our cause, now we much return the favor and pull him through this so that he may finish his quest. I’ll stay with him. Go help Koska in the cockpit. Do whatever you can to make sure we reach Inosca as fast as possible.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Woves said with an affirming nod before he jogged out of the med bay once more.
Bo-Katan sat on edge of the cot, checking his vitals ever so often. It was going to be a torturous ten hours for him and she could only hope they could get him to a healer before he got too tired to fight.