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Fledgling

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“Explain again, if you please?” Ambassador Saft says.

“Which part of my explanation was lacking, Ambassador?” Korkie asks.

“The part with the jetpacks,” the Ambassador says.

The outer office of the Mandalorian embassy hums with comm chimes and industry. In the inner office, the air hums with frustration, and not a little concern. Korkie has known the Ambassador for most of his life. She’s always had the same air.

“Cross-cultural exchange,” Korkie says, smoothly. His ankle twinges a little as he shifts in the chair.

“And the eye?”

Korkie touches the bruise over his cheekbone gingerly. Coop had tossed him a steriwipe to at least get the grit out of the cut before hustling him into the office, but that had done nothing for the swelling. He must look quite lopsided at the moment.

“Apparently landing takes practice.” Korkie says evenly.

Saft is flustered. He suspects she might feel responsible for him even though he’s of age. Meeting worry with stillness is something that often helps. Korkie thinks of the calm of high places, the smoothness of ocean-washed stone, and waits.

“Korkie, your aunt sent you here so you’d be safe and then you-”

“Wait,” Korkie interrupts, holding up a hand. The Ambassador stops talking abruptly, looking mildly surprised. “The Duchess sent me here to learn, and to aid in achieving friendly relations between Mandalore and Condord Dawn. Just as she sent you, and all the rest of the ambassadorial team. I appreciate your concern, but it’s a few bruises and a sprained ankle. There’s really no need for all of this worry. I can keep myself safe. I’m not being put in harm’s way on purpose.”

“Friendly relations leading to jetpack-related injuries.” Ambassador Saft looks like she might want to thud her head on her desk. It’s a look Korkie is very familiar with.

“Both our cultures share a common history with the technology. The flight was to show innovations of which the Vode engineers are rightly proud.” Korkie explains. “Admittedly some more protective gear might have been warranted for a beginner such as myself.”

The Ambassador does rest her head on the desk at that. Korkie helpfully moves the datapad out of the way. The cuts on the palms of his hands sting. Gloves, next time, he thinks.

“If it will set your mind at rest, I’m happy to comm Satine directly,” Korkie says.

Saft just flaps her hand at him, clearly giving up.

“Next time, just try to land on something soft.”

When nothing else seems to be forthcoming Korkie walks a little gingerly out of the office, through the reception, and back out into the street. There’s a speeder idling there, Jolly lounging in the front seat half-way through a pudding cup.

“You didn’t need to wait, I told you I’d be fine,” he says as Jolly lowers the speeder enough that he can slide in without jolting his ankle.

“Steady worries,” Jolly says, elbowing his friend. “He was concerned you’d be-whatever they do to punish civvies. De-diplomated.”

Steady ignores the elbow and passes Korkie a cold pack. He presses it to his cheekbone and the relief is instant.

“You need to get your ankle looked at too,” Steady says, shifting so Korkie can rest his leg up on the seat, foot raised on Steady’s thigh. Steady's hand closes around his ankle gently, manipulating it.

“It’s not the first time I’ve sprained an ankle.” Korkie says, rotating his foot. “Just the first jetpack crash. Sorry for falling on you.”

Steady shrugs. “Not the first time I’ve been crashed into,” he says with a smile in his voice. “The jetpacks we used are a little uh... unpredictable.”

“About the jetpacks...” Jolly says, twisting round in the pilot seat to look at him

“You mean the cross-cultural exchange programme with a focus on sharing vode innovations in flight technology?” Korkie says. He peels the coldpack from his cheek and presses it to his ankle instead.

Steady radiates amused confusion. “What’s that?”

“What I told the Ambassador we were doing. And what you’ll tell whoever you liberated those jetpacks from,” he says.

That gets a bigger smile from both of them, and Jolly’s bubbling laugh as he thumps him on the shoulder.

“Next time we’ll teach you how to do a backflip,” Jolly promises.

“But we’ll get you some proper armour protection first,” Steady says.

Korkie stretches out in the back of the speeder as Jolly pilots it out into traffic, already looking forward to the next time he takes flight.