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I See You

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“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. 

Chapter Text

The pain was the first thing he noticed. It was burning and torturous and stole his breath away. Every time he tried to breathe there was a sharp fire that spread through his middle. His body was trembling, which exacerbated the pain in his leg too. He was acutely aware of a pressure on his chest and panic rose from him. His world was dark and suffocating. He strained to sit up but he had no strength and a weak groan pulled from his lips as he gripped the sheets. 

“Vod? Hey, it’s alright. You’re alright.” Din couldn’t remember being in the company of anyone who spoke Basic in months. Vod? That was Mando’a. It had been even longer since he’d been in the company of someone who spoke Mando’a. 

The weight was suddenly removed from his chest and he gasped frantically as if the air would suddenly disappear and he would be suffocating again. An irritated wail reached his ears and his eyes shot open as he blindly reached for his son who clearly was in distress. 

“Hey. Take it easy! He’s right here. I just took him off your chest so you could breathe.” 

Din’s vision finally cleared and he saw Bo-Katan standing over him with the Kid in her arms. The little green baby was babbling and reaching for him, concern filling his large round eyes. He couldn’t explain why he felt so relieved to see Bo-Katan and the Child beside him. It was nice waking up and not being alone. He’d been doing it for so long now. 

“Alright,” Bo-Katan cooed at the child. “I’ll set you down but you can’t climb all over him ok?” 

Din felt a soft dip in the mattress as Bo-Katan let the child down and he pressed himself close to Din’s helmet, babbling softly like he was trying to comfort him. 

“ I’m ok kid, “Din murmured softly, trying to breathe slow and shallowly.

“How’s the pain?” Bo-Katan asked gently. Her tone was much softer than it had been previously. 

“Fine,” Din lied. The truth was the pain was excruciating but he was trying to hold it in as best he could. He couldn’t let his guard down. He couldn’t be weak. Years of surviving on his own had taught him to never show any kind of vulnerability. 

“Do you want some water?” He gave her a weak nod, realizing just how sore and scratchy his throat felt. 

She left his bedside for a few minutes and Din took that time to suck in some ragged breaths as he groaned softly. If he concentrated, he could will the pain away. He tried to convince himself that the pain wasn’t that bad. If he could talk through it then surely it couldn’t be that bad. He just had to keep it together. He quieted his breathing as he heard Bo-Katan’s footsteps approaching.

“Here you go,” she said as she handed him a cup filled with a few sips of water. 

“Turn around,” he rasped, annoyed that she’d been inconsiderate of his helmet. 

She sighed. “After proving that I was a Mandalorian you still don’t trust me? I thought your Tribe allowed removal of your helmets in front of clan mates?” 

You are not my clanmate.” His tone was as sharp as he could manage given the circumstances, and Bo-Katan found herself at a loss of words to argue. She turned away so he could lift up his helm enough to tip the cup to his lips and drain the water in a few sips. He sighed as he let the helmet shift back into place and relaxed against the pillow again. 

She heard him finish and turned to see him laying back, the cup was discarded carelessly on the floor. His chest was moving with his shallow, slightly elevated breathing, but it was impossible to tell his expression, or if he was awake under the steel. 

“You in there, Tin Can?” She asked jokingly. 

“Yeah,” Din rasped. The pain was steadily growing stronger and he was trying to focus on not letting it get the best of him. 

“So you really never take it off?”

“Never.” He strangled a grunt after his reply. 

“I’m sure it gets uncomfortable.” 

“Is there a point to this?” 

“I’m just trying to figure you out.” 

“You said it yourself earlier. I’m one of them.” 

“What makes you so dedicated to that way of life?” 

“Until now I thought that was the only way of life. C-considering the Tribe s-saved me,” he paused and swallowed back a groan. “And took me in after my parents were killed, wearing a helmet all the time seems trivial.” 

Bo-Katan raised a brow. “You were a founding?” 

Din nodded. He was afraid to speak, lest a pained shout left his lips, or he wouldn’t be able to get through his words. 

Bo-Katan looked from the helmeted man to the long-eared baby at his side. “And this is your foundling?” 

“Yes. I took him in as my own until I find his kind. This is the way.” 

“How young were you?” 

“A-are you always this intrusive?” he quipped as a stuttering breath shuddered through him.

“I just can’t figure out why someone who was a foundling and who adopted a foundling could possibly be apart of something as toxic as the Watch.” 

Din was struck with anger. How dare this woman question his tribe, the way he was raised? Flashes of his childhood rolled through his mind; his adopted father saving him from the carnage of his village and raising him as his own, friends and brothers and sisters, the armorer who mentored him and cared for him, the pile of blooded beskar on the floor of the sewer, the sacrifices they had made for him. They weren’t the bloodthirsty and zealous cult she was describing. They were the only family he’d ever known. His emotions were getting to hard to control and breaking loose along with the flood gates of agony. The fire was ripping through his lower belly and all throughout his leg. A gritty shout escaped his lips as he slammed his fist against the cot. 

“Whoa! Hey, you’re alright, Vod. It’s alright. Just breathe. Just breathe through it.” Bo-Katan soothed. She moved to grab his fist but he flinched away from her, moving so he was half lying on his side with his back to her and he panted through the pain. She could see the sweat soaking his skin as his arm wrapped around his middle and growled through another wave of pure fire. 

“L-leave,” he choked out. 

“What?”  

“I said…leave.” 

“You shouldn't be alone. You need another pain killer. These are only good for an hour or so.” The child started whimpering fearfully as he hugged his guardian’s arm tightly. The tiny body trembled with fear. “Please. Your foundling is afraid. Let me give you something to ease your pain.” 

Din’s head lolled to the side so that he could look at the little baby at his side. Bo was caught off guard by how tender the Mandalorian was with the tiny child as he took his little three-finger hand into his. The helmet shifted toward her and she got the impression that he was looking at her. 

“Fine.” His voice was strained. 

She grabbed another syringe from the container she’d retrieved earlier and took his arms in her hands again. He tensed against her touch as if he didn’t really want her to touch him and she gently inserted the needle into his vein, releasing its contents into his body. Bit by bit his breathing slowed and he relaxed as he pulled his arm away from her. 

“I’m sorry.”

His helmet shifted and he looked at her. “What?” He slurred

“I shouldn’t have said that, about your Tribe.” Din scoffed as he looked up at the ceiling above him. “I was a part of Death Watch.” 

Despite how groggy the pain killer was making him feel, Bo-Katan saw the dark visor looking straight at her. 

“After all the shit you gave me?”

“I’m sorry. I saw the pain and the destruction of Death Watch. Sometimes I can’t help but feel the need to save others from the same fate. I want to unite our people regardless of what side they stood on.” 

“Might want to tone down the “religious zealots” talk then,” Din murmured. 

Bo-Katan paused for a moment as she chewed her lip and chose her next words carefully. “What’s your name?” 

“What?” 

“What’s your name? Your real name that you were given.”

“Why do you care?” 

“It’s going to be a rough couple of hours and we’re about to get to know each other very well. You know my name. It’s only fair I know yours.” 

Din was silent for a while and she reared he might have drifted off or was just choosing to ignore her but then she saw his chest rise and fall as he let out a sigh. “Din. My name is Din.” 

Bo-Katan didn’t have the words to reply for a moment. She didn’t think he would actually give up his name at all. Having a name suddenly humanized him far more than anything else that had happened that day. He wasn’t one of the same cold, ruthless soldiers she remembered Death Watch being. In fact, there was something almost frightened and vulnerable and hidden about him. Perhaps The Watch was not what she thought it once was. There was much to learn and much to discuss someday when the time was right. 

Din’s arm slipped off the side of the bed as he could no longer keep himself awake and allowed unconsciousness to claim him. Gently she grasped is arm and rested it on his stomach before tucking in the blanket around him and make sure he was warm. She wasn’t a fan of how pale and clammy his skin was and she was worried about the possibility of internal bleeding. She could only hope that he could hold on until they got to their destination. 

***************

“Din? Din, open your eyes.” 

Din couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard his real name spoken. In fact, he hadn’t heard it spoken since the day he’d faced off with Moff Gideon and he’d called him out by his birth name. To have somebody so wicked know his true identity had been frightening. It had felt like a loss of power and control and he vowed that day that he would never let someone have that power over him again. So who was calling his name now?

“Din please, open your eyes. You’re bleeding again.” 

Din peeled his eyes open and squinted against the bright light above him. He was so cold and couldn’t stop shaking. It was churning up the fire in his wounds again and a low moan pulled from his throat. 

“Wha’s going on?” His words were slurred almost beyond comprehension. 

“Din, don’t go to sleep on me.” 

“‘M not,” he protested. He wasn’t sure if he could promise that though because he was so damn tired. 

Someone was shaking his shoulder and he groaned. He couldn’t feel his leg and there was a slight tightness in his chest. 

“Hey! Don’t sleep just yet ok? Let’s try to get this under control.” That was Bo-Katan’s voice, maybe. His brain kept slipping into the wrong gear and names and faces were lost on him at the moment. His eyes drifted open and he was met with her face and caught glimpses of his foundling’s worried face. He tried to reach out to rub the baby’s back and reassure him but his movements were clumsy and it felt like his arms might not be attached to his body.

 

Din thought maybe his eyes closed but he couldn’t be sure. Everything felt dark and fuzzy anyway. Then, he felt someone’s hand on either side of his helmet and his hands shot up to grab them by the wrists. 

“Kriff Din! You scared me! Are you in there?” 

Din gave a weak nod, not exactly sure who he was answering. He supposed he should open his eyes and see the owner of the concerned voice and he somehow managed to peel open the lids. Ah, Bo-Katan. He remembered her being there earlier. Sensation was slowly returning to his body and he was aware once more than he couldn’t feel his injured leg. Panic rose in him. What if the shot had damaged something serious? Maybe they had amputated it while he was unconscious. A thousand fears rolled through his thoughts and he tried to push himself up so he could see. A strong yet gentle hand eased his weak body back to the cot. 

“You need to lie back, Din,” Bo-Katan said gently. 

“M-my leg. C-can’t feel it.” 

“We put a tourniquet on it for now to help the bleeding. I didn’t want to try and remove the cotton and re-pack it. You were unresponsive for a while and scared us half to death,” she explained. 

Din was suddenly aware of the absence of a tiny presence. 

“Where’s the kid?” He demanded in a gasping voice. 

“Playing pilot with Koska. You were getting bad there for a moment and it was scaring him. I’ll have Woves bring him back if you’re ready.” 

Din sighed. “He should stay there…just in case-”

“I’m going to stop you right there, Din. You’re not checking out on this ship. I simply won’t hear of it. We’ve got about six hours of this trip left. We’ll take this one step at a time. If I have to cauterize wounds I will. If I have to donate some blood to you I will. You’re hurt because of me, and so I’m going to make sure I repay your selflessness.” 

“This is the way,” Din muttered. He was drifting off again and he was powerless against it. His heart ached for his son in ways he didn’t know he could experience. 

“Din, don’t drift off yet. Wait a little bit longer and then you can.” 

“I can’t,” he breathed out as he shut his eyes and slipped away again. 

Chapter Text

Din was utterly freezing. Maybe he was still on that damn planet with the giant spiders. He’d hit his head pretty hard when they crashed. It was possible that he’d just slipped off into a coma and froze to the dashboard of the Crest. Except there was a horrendous pain in his stomach that was making him feel nauseous and shaky and short of breath. There was low, garbled talking floating around him and someone was grabbing his gloveless hand. Normally he didn’t appreciate being touched but even his fingers felt like ice and the hand holding his was so warm. 

“You awake, Din?” 

“You managed to get a name out of him?” 

“Hush, Woves. Din! Are you with us?” 

It was Bo-Katan’s voice again, prodding and imploring him to wake up. It felt like maybe they’d already had this conversation before. He really felt like telling her to shut up so he could finish freezing to death but he peeled his eyes open to see what the fuss was about. Bo-Katan was sitting on the edge of the cot looking worriedly at him. Woves was standing behind her. Even his stern face held something akin to worry. 

“Wh-who died,” he joked in a weak voice and he felt Bo-Katan squeeze his hand gently. 

“We’ve got to take off the tourniquet now so we don’t damage your leg. Hold still ok?” 

Woves moved to his side near his head just in case and Bo-Katan made sure she had all the materials she would need just in case and swiftly removed the tourniquet. Once the pressure was released from his leg it was as if the numbness had been flipped off with a switch. The muscles spasm and Din groaned as he slammed his head back against the pillow. 

“Easy, Vod,” Woves said. His voice was firm and yet there was an element of care in it. 

“Shit. This is still bleeding really bad,” Bo-Katan winced as she pressed a clean cloth to the wound. Din let out another moan as he panted through the pain. 

“What are you going to do?” Woves asked. 

Bo-Katan tapped her fingers nervously for a moment, trying to think of a way to tie Din over until they could get to the healer. They were only halfway there and the man’s skin was almost white. He couldn’t afford to lose more, especially because she didn’t know whether or not he was bleeding internally. Suddenly, she had an idea. It wasn’t ideal, but it would work in a pinch. Getting up from the cot, she reached the drawers and cabinets until she found what she was looking for; a handheld cauterization tool. Grasping it in her hand she returned to the bedside. 

“Din, I’m going to have to cauterize the wound in your leg. We still have a bit to go on our journey and you can’t afford to lose any more blood. I need you to stay very still, ok?” 

Din nodded and braced against the cot and Bo-Katan clicked on the device. There was a soft hum that filled the air but he was quickly drowned out by a pained growl as the burning in his leg spiked. It was a reflex to sit up and try to fight the source of the fire currently torching his flesh but every time Din tried to sit up his abdominals engaged and he was viciously reminded that he was currently sporting two bullet wounds in his torso. On his last attempt to sit up, he felt a strong arm snake around his chest as Woves held him still against his body. He felt trapped and he was hurting and it was not a situation he liked being in. Another pained cry escaped his lips and he writhed in Woves’ arms. 

“There! I’m done, Din. It’s over. Here let’s get another pain killer in you,” she said as she went to grab another one. 

“You’re not just popping those are you?” 

“Of course not. These only last about an hour. He’s been trying to save them. We only have one more after I use this one,” she said as she injected the medication into Din. It was becoming second nature to her, a steady cycle of pain, surrender, release, and then relief. Woves got up and eased a half-conscious Din back to the cot. 

“He’s ice-cold,” he observed as he pulled the blanket over Din. 

Bo-Katan sighed. “I can’t tell if he’s slipping into shock or if it’s just because he’s still losing blood.” 

“I’m right here,” Din muttered. They almost couldn’t hear him under his helmet. He hated people flinging around the seriousness of his condition like he wasn’t lying there. 

“Sorry. We’ll get some more blankets and see if we can’t get you warmed up,” Bo-Katan reassured before she scampered off to see what she could find. 

Din nodded, unaware that she’d already left the room and he let his head drift to the side. Woves waited quietly and for a minute it was quiet as he assumed the Mandalorian had drifted off. 

“The kid?” The voice was faint and yet it startled him. 

“What?”

“The kid,” Din repeated a little louder. 

“Oh. He was napping last time I checked. He threw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t come down here and wore himself out.” 

“B-bring him here.” Kriff when did it become so hard to talk? 

Before Woves could respond, Bo-Katan came back with her arms full of blankets. “Grabbed these from the sleeping quarters. This should help,” she said as she started to pile the blankets on top of his prone body. “There. Is that better Din?” 

He didn’t answer. 

“Din, you awake in there?” 

When he didn’t answer again she sighed and sat on the edge of his cot, her fingers fumbling for his hand under the blankets. They settled on his wrist, searching for the pulse she knew would be thready and weak.

“It would be easier to monitor him without the helmet,” Woves commented. 

Bo-Katan sighed. “I know. But I have vowed to be respectful of his creed until it becomes absolutely necessary.” 

“How can you be respectful of something you know harmed our people?” Woves asked incredulously. 

“I’m disappointed in you, Woves. We were once like that. We were once violent and blinded. I’m tired of our people being divided. I’m tired of us shouting and pointing fingers and laying the blame at one another. This mission that I have, to reunite our people and take back our home, will not work if us Mandalorians can’t put aside our differences and work together.” 

***************

The coughing woke Din up next. He had no idea how long he’d been out. What had started as an ignorable tickle in his lungs had now blossomed into a full-blown fit that pulled at the wounds and forcefully stole the breath out of his lungs. He tried to shift onto his uninjured side in an effort to ease the horrible, breath-stealing coughs. There was a gentle hand on his back that helped to guide him. 

“It’s alright, Din. Just relax and breathe.” 

Bo-Katan could see the sweat rolling down his neck from somewhere under his helmet as the coughing subsided and was replaced with heavy, sporadic gasps. 

“Wh-where’s the kid?” Din asked breathlessly. 

“With Woves and Koska. Would you like me to have brought here?” 

Dun gave her a weak nod and Bo-Katan got up and walked to the intercom. 

“Woves, can you bring the kid down please?” Copy that,” came Woves’ reply over the intercom. 

She returned to Din’s side and saw his breathing had sped up some. She was growing increasingly worried. The last six hours had been a steady downhill descent and the fear that Din wasn’t going to hold on was growing more and more likely. I didn’t matter what she did. There was more pain, more blood, more suffering than she could keep up with. There was a squeal and she turned to see the Child running towards Din’s bed. Woves was not far behind. 

“Sorry. He was a slippery little bugger and climbed right out of my arms,” Woves said as he watched the Child pull himself onto the cot and settle beside his guardian. 

Din managed a weak chuckle, knowing exactly what a handful the little green toddler was. It broke off into a weak groan as the pain was triggered again. The baby cooed softly and tried to wrap his little arms around his father’s helmet. He rested his forehead against the steel as he peered into the dark visor. 

“I see you, kid,” Din murmured as he reached his arm up and rubbed the baby’s head. His movements were clumsy yet gentle. 

Bo-Katan was overcome with emotion. Maybe it was the long-eared baby that surely stole the heart of everyone who met him, but Din’s softness and clear attachment to the child was even more touching. There was no doubt he held nothing but love for the foundling, even if he hadn’t admitted it to himself yet. 

“He seems very attached to you,” Bo-Katan commented. 

“Yeah?” Din queried as he swallowed down a whimper. 

“Yeah. He pitched a fit when he couldn’t be here with you. He’s been nothing but concerned about you.” 

Din sighed. “I hope that doesn’t mean it’s going to be hard to bring him home.” 

“Back to the Jedi,” Bo-Katan corrected. 

“I don’t have a choice in the matter. I think his family is gone. They are the only ones who can help him.” 

“What makes you say that?” 

Din took in a shuddering breath. The pain was steadily getting worse but he knew they were limited on pain killers and they still had a bit chunk of the journey left. It was best to try and reserve the last pain killer they had. 

“He has these powers.” He paused and fought the urge to groan. “I’ve never seen anything like it. He can move objects with his mind.” 

Bo-Katan nodded. “I saw such things during the Clone Wars. I witnessed the terrible clash between the Jedi and their enemies known as the Sith. They had powers that you speak of, but far more powerful.” 

“What happened to them?” Din was trying to hold his breath because the fire was becoming more and more unbearable. 

“They were wiped out.” 

“None survived?” Din’s voice carried a tone of strain and Bo Katan picked up on it. 

“We don’t have to make small talk if it’s hurting too much Din.” 

“I’m fine,” Din grunted. “Did no Jedi survive?” 

“I heard rumors that two survived the destruction. But then again, those were just rumors.” 

“Feels like I’m heading for a dead end.” Bo Katan could definitely hear the wavering in Din’s voice as he fought to get the pain under control. He was borderline hyperventilating and he gripped the sheets so tightly his knuckles were turning white. 

“Din, you need that last painkiller so you can rest,” Bo-Katan insisted. 

“No, Din moaned. “Still have four hours left. N-need to save it.” His feet scraped against the mattress as he panted. He wasn’t pulling in enough air now. He couldn’t. There just wasn’t enough for him to pull in. 

Bo-Katan watched him struggle and listened to the strange breathing pattern coming from inside the helmet. The situation had officially gone from bad to worse. She reached over and grabbed the oxygen mask off the wall.

“Here, let’s get that helmet off so we can get you on some oxygen. It’ll help your breathing.” 

She moved to take his helmet off and Din caught her wrist and squeezed. “No,” he said as firmly as his weak body would allow. 

“Din you can’t be serious. You can’t breathe!”

“It stays on.” 

“Ok, separate creeds aside you’re going to go into respiratory arrest if I don’t do something ok? Please, Din. I need you to trust me.” 

The baby whimpered and looked from Mandalorian to the other. There was nothing but fear in his eyes. 

“Come on, Din. Do it for the wellbeing of your foundling. If you die you can’t help or protect him. Please, do it for him.” 

It was dead silent in the med bay except for his desperate gasps, as If he was thinking. Bo-Katan felt his grip ease around her wrist at last and with great care, she lifted the helmet off his head. She didn’t quite know what she expected under his cold steel but she was caught off guard by his face. Dark stubble graced his angular jaw and formed a mustache that graced his upper lip. His thick, wavy hair curled around his ears and his eyes were dark and piercing. Pure agony graced his face at the moment and his bangs were plastered to his forehead with sweat. There was something boyish despite his hardened features. She imagined all Children of the Watch, who were raised as soldiers the day they could hold a weapon, looked like this. A blend of childhood that had been tainted with violence. Gently she placed the mask over his mouth and nose and slipped the strap around his head. 

“Just breathe Din. You’re alright. Just take some slow breaths,” she coaxed as she grabbed the last painkiller and injected it into Din’s arm. 

Din let his eyes fluttered closed. He felt so drained and detached from the world. He couldn’t tell if he was awake or not. His founding, who had stepped back to watch Bo-Katan removed his helmet and provide medical aid returned to his head and this time rested his face against the unmasked face of his father. The noises he was making sounded strange, almost as if he was trying to whisper to him. He’d never done that before. Over the last several weeks, Din had noticed the child was reaching baby milestones, babbling like he was trying to talk, walking instead of wobbling, etc. He wondered if the kid would start talking before he reached the Jedi. He wondered if the child would call him father.” 

His brain was worn out and he was so tired. He’d just close his eyes again, despite Bo-Katan telling him not to do it, and rest in the painless darkness. 

Chapter Text

Bo-Katan had just dozed off and was dreaming of her childhood. They were funny dreams, and it was hard to believe that there was once a time in her life that she wasn’t armored up and fighting. It seemed like she’d been fighting her whole life. Sometimes she’d been on the wrong side or joined with the wrong allies, but the end goal had always been the same; take back Mandalore and unite the Mandalorians. She hoped that now, with the right motives, the right allies, and the right morals in her heart, she might finally be able to bring about a victory. 

A growling cry jolted her from sleep and her vision cleared just in time to see the injured Mandalorian’s back arch off the bed before sinking down against the thin mattress once more. His sharp breaths were puncturing the air despite the mask covering his mouth and nose and they were getting weaker and far more staggered like he couldn’t quite take oxygen in. 

“Din? Hey, Din I know it hurts but you need to try and breathe. Try and take some slow, deep breaths,” she coaxed as she grabbed his hand. His skin was ice cold and she could feel the thready and rapid pulse jumping in his wrist. 

His brow furrowed as his head lolled in the direction of her voice. He seemed to be fighting to open his eyes and was rewarded with cracking them open a sliver. “C-can’t,” he groaned in a breathy voice. 

Bo-Katan felt her stomach drop. He was indeed trying as hard as he possibly could but there was no reward for his effort. She couldn’t tell if his lack of breath was due to the blood pooling into his stomach from the blaster wounds or the fact that he’d been steadily bleeding for nine hours now and he didn’t have enough blood to circulate oxygen. Either way, they were going to lose him if they didn’t figure something out. 

Jumping up she moved to the intercom system. “Woves, I need you down here right now. Hurry.” 

“Coming down,” Woves replied. 

Bo-Katan abandoned the intercom and returned to Din’s side. The man’s eyes were squeezed shut and he was sweating profusely despite the almost convulsive shivers that were running through his body. It was scaring her. Woves’ heave footsteps pulled her attention away briefly as he jogged up to her side. 

“He can’t breathe. Quickly, grab something to prop his feet up. Let’s try and get some of the blood closer to his heart,” Bo-Katan directed as she made sure Din was covered up warmly. The kid still sat as his head whimpering fearfully. “It’s alright, ad’ika. We’re doing everything we can for him.” 

Woves returned with a blanket that he’d rolled into a sizable log and quickly, Bo-Katan lifted Din’s legs as Woves shoved the roll underneath them. Din let out a pained moan as they got him settled again. Bo-Katan felt distressed as there was virtually no improvement. 

“How much longer do we have?”

“About an hour,” Woves replied. There was a deep look of concern on his stern face. 

“I don’t think he has an hour,” she gritted. 

“We’re pushing the ship as fast as she can go already.”

While Woves and Bo-Katan volleyed back and forth, neither of them was aware of the baby putting his hand on Din’s forehead as he closed his eyes. But Din noticed and rasped as he turned his head away from his son. 

“N-no kid.” 

“What?” Bo-Katan queried, having heard him speak. 

“Th-the kid. D-don’t let him heal me.” Din summoned all his strength. It was important that he got this point across. 

“He can heal you?”

“N-not all the way. And it-” eh paused and sucked in as deep a breath as he could manage. “Hurts him. S-scared he will overdo it and n-not wake up.” Din’s head rocked against the pillow as he fought to stay awake. He had to make them understand. 

“Din, you’re not going to make it. If there’s a chance that we can at least tie you over until we get to the healer you need to take it.” 

“D-don’t want to hurt him. Can’t-” a bout of violent coughing cut off his words. 

She knew he was stubborn and she wasn’t going to win on this one. “Ok. What if we let him heal you just a little bit? You know him better than I do. You know when it’s starting to get too much for him. You can stop him at any time and I won’t say a word. But you have got to give yourself a fighting chance. He needs you.” 

Din was quiet for a moment as another shuddering breath pulled itself weakly from his body. At last, he nodded. “F-fine. But when I-I say stop, he s-stops.” 

“Deal.” Bo-Katan’s gaze shifted to the little baby at Din’s head. “Alright, ad’ika. You’re up.” 

Din’s head shifted so he was looking at his son again and the baby once more placed his hand on the man’s forehead and shut his eyes. All was eerily quiet for a moment. Even Woves found himself shifting anxiously on his feet, unsure of what was going to happen next. Even Bo-Katan, who had witnessed the power of the Jedi had never seen anything like this before. 

Din flinched and a sharp hiss escaped his lips. He’d never been healed by the Child before and it was a strange sensation. It didn’t quite hurt but it didn’t feel all that comfortable either. The strange part of it all was an overwhelming sense of peace filled him. It didn’t matter what came next, he was calm and oddly ok with it. He saw the baby start to shake and moved his head away, breaking the connection. 

“Th-that’s enough.” 

The baby wailed in frustration and Bo-Katan’s brow knit together in concern and confusion. “What did he do?” 

“H-healed my leg. Th-that’s all he c-could manage.” 

Bo-Katan checked his leg and sure enough, there was no hint of a blaster wound in his skin or her slap-dash cauterization scars. It was like it never happened. Sadly, she could not be relieved. 

“That wasn’t the part I was worried about, Din,” she said sadly. 

“I-I know. H-he can’t control it y-yet. He tried h-his best.” Din’s breath was weak and staggered and his strength was seemingly drained out of him. 

“Din, that didn’t help. You need to let him try again.” 

“H-he’s too tired,” he murmured as his eyes slid closed. 

“No Din! Don’t you dare. You have to stay awake. You have to keep fighting.” 

Din forced his eyes open. “I-if something happens. P-please….g-get him to A-Asoka. M-make sure she…..keeps him safe.” Din was fighting so hard to get the words out. Every word sapped his energy but if he was on his way out, he was going to make sure the last thing he did was ensure his son’s safety. His son. He realized just now that he started thinking of the kid that way. It hurt him worse than the wounds that he realized he’d come to this conclusion too late. He wished he’d called him that more often. He would be damned if he didn’t get it out now if this was his last opportunity to do so. 

His head moved weakly to the side to face the baby who was sitting beside him, trying desperately to fight the exhaustion that using his powers brought him. Big tears were rolling down his cheeks. Stars, he didn’t want to leave him. He didn’t want to look into those big eyes for the last time. He didn’t want to go. “It’s a-alright, s-son. I-it’s ok.” 

His eyes slid shut and his body went limp. He heard Bo-Katan screaming for him before he was plunged into darkness. 

***************

Din didn’t wake up for the last hour of their journey. He didn’t wake up when the healer rushed on board the second they landed. And he definitely didn’t wake up on the journey back to the healer’s home. The healer, a Chiss by the name of Tontas, described Din’s condition as “serious, but fixable” and pushed them out while he got to work patching the Mandalorian. Bo-Katan was secretly grateful for this. While she was a hardened warrior who had seen many gruesome things, there was something about the intimacy of medical work that made her sick to her stomach. She sat out in the waiting room with the baby on her lap, who was still fussing anxiously. 

“Don’t worry, ad’ika. He’ll be alright. He’s in good hands,” she reassured the babe in her arms. 

He turned and looked at her with large sad eyes. His ears dropped low to his funny-shaped head and he whimpered at her. 

“I know. You did everything you could for him. I think in a way, you did help him. You gave him something to fight for.” 

The baby gripped at her fingers as his large eyes drifted back to the door which behind lay his guardian, fighting for his life. Bo-Katan lapsed into a thoughtful silence as she too waited to hear word on their comrade’s condition. 

********************

“He lost quite a bit of blood and a lot pooled into his abdominal cavity but he’ll survive and make a full recovery. He’s incredibly lucky and clearly comes from strong stock. Many do not survive injuries like that,” Tontas explained as Bo-Katan observed Din’s still form lying shirtless on the table. Fresh bandages covered the lower part of his belly and side and several IV tubes were hooked up to him delivering blood, fluids, and pain medication. His face was peaceful, free of pain and suffering now as he slept and Bo-Katan was relieved. The child, who was in her arms, squealed and reached for his father. 

“Let’s get him settled, Little One, and then you can be with him,” Tontas said gently and set about preparing a bed in a private room for The Mandalorian. 

***************

Din felt a throbbing pain in his gut. It wasn’t as bad as the pain he remembered but it was enough to draw a soft groan from him. There was a gentle hand squeezing his. 

“Din?” 

His brow furrowed and he turned his head towards the direction of the voice calling his name. He tried to blink his eyes open but they felt glued shut. He drew in a deep breath, wincing when it aggravated the pain in his stomach. 

“Are you in pain?” That was a different voice talking. It wasn’t one he recognized and his heart hammered in his chest at the thought of being surrounded by strangers. 

“Easy, Din. You’re safe. Your child is safe too.” Bo-Katan’s voice was back as the anxiety lessened. He wished he could open his eyes but the exhaustion was pulling strongly at him and he just couldn’t manage it. “Are you in pain?” She prompted and he managed a weak nod. 

“It’s alright, son. I’ve got ya,” the strange voice replied. 

There was a rush of numbness in his veins and the pain eased off. With a relieved sigh, Din gave in to the exhaustion and let himself slip back into sleep.

***************

It was several hours before the injured Mandalorian woke again. Bo-Katan was dozing off and the child was sound asleep beside his guardian when the man flinched and took in a deep breath. Bo-Katan was awake in an instant and leaning closer to him. 

“Din? Are you with me?” He gave her a tired nod as slowly pulled his eyes open. It was a little easier this time. Blinking rapidly, his vision cleared and she saw recognition fill his eyes. 

“Looks like you got me here in time after all,” he murmured. His voice was rough and raspy. 

“Don’t thank us. Your son here saved the day. He gave you a reason to fight.” 

Din didn’t say anything as his hand fumbled for the child and gently rested his hand on his back. He let out a soft sigh and let his eyes droop closed. He hated how tired and disconnected the painkillers were making him feel but at the same time he knew it was keeping him from the excruciating pain he would be in. 

“He has a deep attachment to you. He was very distressed when it looked like you weren’t going to make it.” 

“Felt like it there for a bit. Thank you, for saving me.” 

“We owed you. You saved our mission and our cause, throwing yourself selflessly in front of that blaster fire. We’d be at the bottom of Trask if it weren’t for you.” 

“This is the way,” He muttered. 

“This is the way,” she replied. He looked like he might drop off to sleep but his eyes blinked open again. 

“Where’s my armor, and my helmet?” He asked softly. 

“Back on the ship. Don’t worry. We’ll fetch them. Now enough talking. Get some rest, Din. You’ve had a pretty eventful twenty-four hours.” 

DIn gave her a weak nod and let himself drift off again with the comforting feeling of his son pressed against his side. 

 

Chapter Text

Din’s recovery was swift. Bacta tended to do that to patients. During the three days that he was sheltered in the healer’s facility, he mostly just slept with the kid on his chest. Judging by how utterly exhausted the man looked and how deeply his slumber was, Bo-Katan figured he must not have been sleeping well prior to this. It was probably difficult to sleep with a very active toddle getting into all sorts of trouble. Many questions about him still lingered in her mind. She yearned to know how long he’d spent with The Watch, what had happened to them, and how he had come into custody of his own foundling. The child in question seemed very attached to his guardian, only a fool could see that. After seeing the way the little green baby was pressed as close to his guardian as possible and cooing soothingly at him, she concluded that Din was most definitely a fool. This mission to seek out Jedi would bring him nothing but pain and grief and perhaps he hadn’t realized it yet, but giving up the child would be a lot harder than he thought. She could only hope that her old friend would also see the depth of love and connection these two had for each other and nudge Din in the right direction towards fatherhood. 

On the third day, Din rose. His wound were nearly completely healed and other than a dull throbbing, he was experiencing almost no pain. It was nothing an over-the-counter pain pill or a bacta injection that came standard in a first-aid kit couldn’t handle. As much as he enjoyed the desperately needed sleep and some down time, he had a job to do and he needed to get moving. True to her word, Bo-Katan had brought his armor and helmet from the ship. She’d even been so kind as to get the blood scrubbed out of his flack vest and gloves. His pants had been cleaned and patched as well. With his under garments and body armor in place, Din reached for his helmet. For the first time in his life, he was hesitant to put it back on. Bo-Katan’s words still rang in his ears, word about a Creed different than the one he was raised with. There was a possibility that everything she said was true. And then again there was a possibility she was the one who’d been living a lie. Either way, one fact remained; his helmet had been removed in front of others who were not his clan mates. By all logical reasoning and by every rule he’d been raised with, he shouldn’t put the helmet back on. He didn’t deserve to wear it. He didn’t deserve to call himself a Mandalorian. And yet, he couldn’t shake Bo-Katan’s words, her encouragement that despite taking the helmet off, he was still a Mandalorian. With trembling hands, he slipped the steel over his head and settled it into place. The steel helm still fit the same as it always had, but he felt different. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but things would never be the same after meeting these new Mandalorians. There were many questions that plagued his mind and he burned for answers but for right now, there were bigger things to take care of. Pushing his own struggles aside he turned to the baby who was sitting on the cot, watching his every move intently. Right now, the kid was all that mattered. It was he sworn duty to protect him and make sure he was returned people who could give him a good life and that’s what he intended to do. 

“Come on, Kid. We’ve got to get moving,” he said gently as he picked the kid up and cradled him in his arms. The child squealed and grabbed onto his hands. He was in a much better mood now that it was certain his adopted father would be ok. 

Din made one more sweep around the room to make sure he hadn’t left anything and then walked out to the living quarters. Bo-katan, Woves, and Koska were sitting around a table sipping warmed caff that Tontas had served them. All three looked up when Din entered the room. 

“Well! Look who’s up and about! You flying out, Tin Can?” Bo-Katan asked good-naturedly. 

“Yeah. Still have a responsibility to take care of,” he replied. 

“Woves contacted an old friend of ours back in Trask. You’re ship is still there wait for you. There is a freighter here that will take you back so you can be on your way.” 

“Thank you,” Din replied gratefully as he gave Woves a solemn nod, which the other Mandalorian returned. “And again, thank you. You saved my life, and the life of my foundling. I will be forever in your debt.” 

“You saved our lives too. Call it even.” 

Din shook his head. “Doesn’t even come close.” 

“Then, as repayment, promise me you will at least think about what I said. Us Mandalorians, we could have a future, on our home world, raising future generations and foundlings in The Way. It could be a good future for you too, Din.” 

Din took in a deep breath and then exhaled. “I will. But for now, the foundling is my priority.” 

“As it should. This is the Way.” 

“This is the Way,” Din echoed and the baby in his arms cooed like he might be sharing his guardian’s words as well. 

Bo-Katan smiled before looking at Din. “Have safe travels. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you need us.” 

Din nodded before leaving the building silently as thoughts tumbled over in his mind. Yes there was much to think about. His future looked murky and uncertain right now, but hopefully everything would become clear soon. The baby babbled at him as he made his way down the street to the freighter that would take them back to their ship. Little did the Mandalorian know, his journey had only just begun.