The Force had led him to many amazing and disastrous situations throughout his whole life, Mace Windu reflected. Not since he found Depa as a toddler all those years ago, has he found himself in a similar situation. Firmly held in his arms, the Zabrak baby cooed up at him, chubby hands reaching for him. Mace bowed his head enough for the baby to touch his cheek, itty bitty claws prickling his skin.
The baby was a Dathomir male, a Nightbrother from his coloring and markings. Someone had gone to drastic lengths to get him off Dathomir, Mace could tell looking around the small space craft the baby had been found in. It was barely large enough for a fully grown base Human to move around in. He had found the baby in a woven basket made of strong bark, wrapped in a worn blanket made of scraps.
Mace might not be able to feel the emotions like Knight Vos, but even he could pick up the desperate love, the ache of good-bye and the bone-deep fear of possibilities of being seen, the strength that whoever had sent the baby out into space for a better life than could be found in Dathomir for the males. They had also left behind a few small soft grass-like woven baskets that held what seemed to be everything the baby needed.
The baby cooed at him, drawing Mace’s attention back to him. Wide eyes, a pale gold color, stared back at him in a face that was a warm yellow with soft brown markings. His horns were nothing more than nubs, soft cartilage that was covered by horn caps to protect them from damage before they could harden as he aged and matured. Mace knew that the horn patterns changed from Zabrak subspecies to the next, but he found himself fond of this small beings pattern.
With a gentle use of the Force, Mace had the small baskets and the baby’s carrier floating behind him as he left the small ship and stepped out into the cargo hold of his much larger cruiser. It was only luck and the will of the Force that the pilot had seen it in the fast streaks of hyperspace.
Ponds stood at the rampway, helmet off and reading a data pad. He looked up, eyes instantly catching sight of the baby in his arms. Many emotions washed over his face, before he set the pad away and shook his head in rueful laughter.
“When I said that only a child would fit that small of a ship, I didn’t think you’d actually find one, General.” there was a wry slant to his mouth.
“The Force works in mysterious ways, Commander,” Mace told him. “Though, even I didn’t think the Force would lead me to such a young one like this. Again.”
Ponds looked over the Zabrak baby in his arms, sharp eyes taking in everything. Mace felt his mind connect where exactly the young one would’ve come from, his eyes swiftly finding the small baskets still floating behind Mace, the ragged well-loved blanket. Ponds was from Mandalorian stock, a clone yes, but he and all his brothers were as Mandalorian as any natural born.
“He yours now, General?” Ponds asked quietly, coming up to stand by him and finally reached a gloved finger out for the Zabrak baby to grasp at. A soft smile flitted over his features, dark eyes softened a smidge.
Mace seriously thought over this question, the Force was calm and radiated warmth through him. He could feel the soft, fluttering fledgling of a bond between himself and the baby forming already. He knew that some of the older guard would say no and send the baby to the creches, but Mace had always walked a fine line. He had fought to be Depa’s Master, after he had been the one to Find her all those years ago.
The baby cooed, pale gold eyes blinking up at him. The warmth of his emotions, unrestrained and free and so vast for such a small being. He ran a finger over his face, the tip running lightly over his capped horns. The baby chortled in the way of all small beings, body squirming in delight. Mace found he had his answer.
“Yes,” he finally said into the silence. With a nod, Ponds carefully untangled his finger from the baby and made a beat to the rest of his Squad, already fielding questions. Mace watched him, amused.
He carefully shifted the baby in his arms, settling him into leaning against his shoulder, small arms curled up against his arm. With care, he walked away from the small ship and made his swift way through the cruiser towards his room.
There, he set the baskets down on his bed, to be sorted through later on. Instead, he carefully laid the baby down and finally took out the small, ripped up flismi note that had been carefully left with the baby.
I send him away for protection and for a better life over being a slave. He is my Brother and I pray to gods I don’t believe in that he is found by a better person. His name is Feral and he is all I have left. Love him for me, keep him away from the Witches and Nightsisters.
Mace reads through the note several more times, the Force allowing him to taste and feel the emotions leftover. Fierce love, as burning hot as Tatooine's twin suns. Fear over who could find the baby. Resolution. Mace takes them in and then lets them go into the Force.
He looks down at the baby, at Feral. Who stares up at him, little feet clutched in his hands as he rocks a bit on the bed.
“Feral,” he breathes out. Feral makes a small noise, head tilting up in recognition of his name. “Feral,” he said again, the Force echoing through him and into Feral. The baby cooed and giggled. Mace leaned over him and carefully, he rested his forehead against Feral’s.
Itty bitty hands grasped at his cheeks again and he breathed in as the Force seemed to brighten around the two of them, the sense of rightness flowing through him.
All would be well, as the Force willed it.