The first time Obi-Wan met his grandmaster, it was through the light of a containment field.
Yan Dooku was kneeling in the middle of his cell, the initiate-white tunic and leggings far from the extravagant robes he'd been wearing while making his ploy for the Chancellorship following Palpatine's untimely death by choking on something—a sweet, judging by the wrapper at the top of his wastebin and the poorly-hidden jar of them in one of his desk drawers—while alone in his office.
"You requested me?" Obi-Wan asked in as bland a tone as he could manage. Qui-Gon had never been much inclined to speak of his former master, and his leaving the Order in response to Qui-Gon's murder had not left Obi-Wan one of his greatest fans. The realisation by the shadow knights who had been sent to check on him—leaving the Order was hardly a concerning event, even for established masters, but making a rather aggressive bid for a position of power less than a year after, was, and the Council had apparently voted to send someone to check in on him—that he had Fallen, had not left Obi-Wan with much inclination to take tea with the man.
Dooku didn't bother to open his eyes, or acknowledge him in any way.
Obi-Wan scoffed and turned away, only to find another jedi—human or near, with short blond hair, and wearing orange tunics—just entering the cell block. They weren't a member of any of the Councils, so far as he knew, and only those beings had open permission to visit the Fallen master. Which meant this being had...also been requested and approved to visit?
"Obi-Wan?" they called, expression awash in surprise.
Obi-Wan tensed; he could hardly claim to know every member of the Order, but the other's use of his given name, without even a polite 'knight' to preface, suggested a familiarity that didn't exist.
"Feemor," Dooku called. "Obi-Wan."
The newcomer tensed, their jaw going tight, but they stepped forward to join Obi-Wan, and they both turned back to the man in the cell.
Dooku had opened his eyes, at least, and was watching them. Like Xanatos, Obi-Wan's grandmaster showed no sign of corruption in his eyes, although the cold way he gazed at them through the containment field—as though they were of no consequence to him—was familiar in a...vaguely trauma-inducing way.
(Obi-Wan made a mental note to check in with the mind healer he'd been seeing off-and-on since Xanatos' death and the in-Temple probation period he'd been assigned, both for Melida/Daan and Bruck's death. Not a punishment, he'd eventually realised, but a way to help him re-find his centre, and something he'd desperately wished Qui-Gon had allowed him after Bandomeer, although he had enough self-awareness to acknowledge he would have thought of it as coddling, at the time, and reacted poorly.)
"Qui-Gon never introduced you," Dooku said, a statement, rather than a question.
The jedi next to him folded their hands together, sleeves covering them in a manner that was so familiar, a habit that Obi-Wan had picked up from Qui-Gon, hiding nervous fingers from the eyes of those throughout the galaxy, who were always looking for any sign that a jedi wasn't as calm, as unflappable, as impartial as they had to appear. He'd seen other members of the Order with similar habits meant to hide the tells that no sentient could completely train out of themselves, but they tended to all be just slightly different, like a secret passed down through lineages, a way to recognise each other, even when the grandmaster you shared was generations gone.
He'd thought Rael Averross had been the only other padawan Dooku had trained to knighthood?
"Qui-Gon repudiated me, as you have taken many pains to remind me over the years, Mas–" They stopped, while Obi-Wan turned to stare at them, thrown. "Ah. What is the title for a Fallen former jedi, I wonder?" they said, something just the slightest bit mean about their tone.
Xanatos hadn't been Qui-Gon's only other padawan?
"Was that an attempt at cleverness?" Dooku asked, tone bland and unimpressed.
The other jedi—Obi-Wan's padawan-sibling?!—turned to Obi-Wan and bowed their head in a polite greeting. "I am Jedi Master Feemor, he/him. Qui-Gon was my master, oh, nearly thirty years ago, now."
What. The. Kriff.
"H-he never mentioned you," Obi-Wan stuttered, and immediately hated himself for it.
Feemor smiled, a kind sort of sadness in his eyes. "No," he agreed, "I wouldn't have expected him to."
Dooku scoffed. "A failed knight–"
"If you're just going to insult me, Yan," Feemor snapped, turning to glare at their grandmaster, "then I am leaving. Yoda only said I needed to make an appearance, not that I needed to tolerate your abuse."
...Obi-Wan had an elder padawan-brother, who was a master, and clearly just as disinclined to converse with their Fallen grandmaster as Obi-Wan was.
Despite the plethora of experiences that had taught Obi-Wan caution when relating to his messy, extended jedi-family—Xanatos and Dooku Fallen, Qui-Gon and Rael both unconventional agents of
the Force chaos, Yoda's idea of 'comfort food', even the shadows that had dogged little Ani's every step since the moment they met (although, those had eased significantly, in the past couple of months)—he found himself liking Feemor.
Dooku considered them through narrowed eyes for a long moment, before saying, "This is a lineage matter."
"Then harass Averross," Feemor snapped.
"He won't come," Obi-Wan supplied. He'd done his due diligence as the only member of his lineage currently at Temple—so far as he'd been aware—and not otherwise swamped in Council duties or catching up on all the learning needed to be formally declared a padawan learner, and contacted the elder jedi to let him know, first, about Qui-Gon's murder and Dooku quitting, and then, later, about Dooku having Fallen and been imprisoned in Temple. Rael's reaction to the first comm had involved a lot of cursing, then checking in that Obi-Wan was holding himself together, then more cursing; his reaction to the second had been, unsurprisingly, more cursing, followed by him absolutely refusing to have anything further to do with his former master, and then hanging up. "He wants nothing to do with Dooku."
Unexpectedly, Dooku flinched.
Next to Obi-Wan, Feemor opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, then closed it again with a snap.
Behind the containment field, Dooku straightened, seemed to shrug off the hurt, and somehow managed to be looking down on them, despite kneeling on the floor. "There is a planet you need to visit, a Mandalorian you need to speak with." He cast an unimpressed look over Feemor, then an almost-considering glance over Obi-Wan. "If you're capable enough, you may even survive him."
"And why, exactly, do you think we would take mission orders from you?" Feemor asked stiffly.
(Obi-Wan was glad he had; he honestly couldn't say if he'd have been able to sound any where near so calm when asking the same thing.)
"Because it's the, hrm, how does that insipid saying go again? Ah, yes: It's the right thing to do."
Unfortunately, from the way the Force moved around them, pressing against them like it was urging them forward, it seemed this was a mission they would have to go upon.
Obi-Wan glanced over at the man next to him, forgetting, for just a moment, that it wasn't Qui-Gon, and was surprised to find Feemor looking back at him, a resigned, familiar smile tugging at his mouth.
Somehow, that smile made it easier for Obi-Wan to turn back to the cell and ask, "What planet?"
"Kamino. And, if it's not in the Archives, do tell Jocasta I am disappointed in her," Dooku said, just a hint of mocking to his words.
"If it's death you're after, there are kinder ways than pissing off Jocasta," Feemor said flatly.
Dooku flashed them a sharp, nasty grin in response.
Obi-Wan shook his head, decided he didn't want to know the history behind that exchange, and asked, "This Mandalorian, what faction are they?" Because he probably wouldn't get much from a name, even if he harangued Quinlan into helping him search them on the darknet, but their faction would tell him a lot about them, about how they should approach them, what to prepare for.
Dooku's expression morphed into a smirk, something almost like approval in his gaze. "True Mandalorian."
Obi-Wan swallowed and breathed at the same time, and had to turn away to cough through the burn of his oesophagus.
"Obi-Wan?" Feemor whispered, a warm hand alighting gently on his nape.
With a little abuse of the Force, helped along by his padawan-brother—he had a padawan-brother! Who wasn't trying to kill him!—Obi-Wan eased the hurt and the lingering urge to cough. "The Haat Mando'ade—True Mandalorians—were the ones at Galidraan."
Feemor breathed out a near-silent, but clearly heartfelt, "Kriff."
Obi-Wan had only met one Haat'ade—that he knew for certain—while on Mandalore, the woman in charge of Adonai Kryze's security, who had survived the massacre due to having to stay home with her new foundling. She had made it clear that she despised the two jedi, but respected Adonai enough to keep the peace. By the time they left, Obi-Wan, at least, had seemed to have won her respect—she had told him to keep the beskar'gam he'd picked up while there, because he'd earned it—although Qui-Gon seemed to be barely tolerated by all of the Mandalorians they came in contact with. (Obi-Wan had got in rather a lot of teasing, about that.)
Still, the eventual respect of one Haat'ad wasn't going to help them much—unless this was the same one, which wasn't impossible, given most Mandalorians' loose relationship with gender, but was unlikely—if they came in looking like jedi. They would have to plan the mission very carefully, probably take back-up—only one other jedi, maybe two, if they could slide their numbers past the Senate's Jedi Oversight Committee—and do everything possible to keep from being recognised as jedi.
And he would need to get his beskar'gam out of the Archives. And probably clean off the New Mandalorian symbol.
He glanced over at his padawan-brother, who quirked a strained smile, then nodded and turned back to Dooku. "We'll discuss the matter with the Council," he said in a perfectly mild tone.
Dooku sniffed and closed his eyes. "Of course you will. You could do with a bit of Qui-Gon's spontaneity; the Council—and the Senate—rarely know the right of the matter."
Feemor glanced at Obi-Wan and motioned towards the exit with a quick jerk of his head. Biting back a breath of relief at the silent agreement to leave, Obi-Wan nodded and they turned to make their escape together.
"Oh, and grandpadawans?" Dooku called just before they reached the exit from the cell block.
Obi-Wan glanced back, and swallowed to find Dooku had finally moved from his kneeling position, was now standing as close to the containment field as he safely could be, and was looking after them, something cold and terrible about the smile he wore.
Next to him, Feemor stiffened.
"May the Force be with you," Dooku said, his voice sickly-sweet.
The familiar phrase had never before sounded so much like a threat, and Obi-Wan was grateful to follow Feemor through the door and away from their grandmaster.
Once they were back in the main halls of the Temple, moving towards the lift to the Council Tower without needing to discuss it, Feemor murmured, "You're very likely going to have to take point on this, I'm afraid; my knowledge of Mandalorians begins with the Excision, and ends with Galidraan."
Obi-Wan grimaced and nodded; as one of the only two jedi to have spent any time in Mandalorian space in centuries, he suspected that would be the case, no matter his partner. "Unless there turns out to be something significant about Kamino, we'll want to go in disguise, and almost certainly have some sort of back-up that can extract us." He let out a quiet, frustrated huff. "If Anakin would just take his studies seriously, I would petition to bring him with."
Feemor shot him a startled look. "A ten-year-old? Are you certain that would be wise?"
Obi-Wan grimaced and shrugged. "If this Mandalorian really is Haat'ade, they treasure children; from what I understand, they'll do a lot for the sake of a child's comfort, even agree to a ceasefire."
Feemor hummed. "My current padawan is fifteen."
Obi-Wan stopped walking, blinking a bit dumbly at his brother-padawan.
Feemor flushed, the colour as startlingly obvious on his pale skin, as it usually was on Obi-Wan's. "Ah, sorry. My current padawan is named Wangui; my former padawan is Ace Kudzulek, whose currently master of Vega Naidu."
Ace Kudzulek was a name Obi-Wan recognised, at least, as the jedi ace was a rival-cum-friend of his crèchemate Garen, and he'd suffered through any number of conversations that alternated between bitching about them, and being in awe of their piloting skills. They were well respected, among the jedi aces, which spoke very well to Feemor's abilities as a master.
(What could have possessed Qui-Gon to repudiate him?)
"I'm sorry," Feemor said again. "I've been aware of you for years; I...keep forgetting that that knowledge doesn't, necessarily, go both ways."
Obi-Wan closed his eyes and took a breath, forced himself to settle into the knowledge that their relationship was going to be unbalanced for a while, which wasn't his fault, and he wasn't certain he would blame it on Feemor, given his own difficult history with Qui-Gon.
"It's fine," he said, and found he meant that; judging by the easing smile Feemor wore, he recognised he was speaking the truth. "We'll just have to spend our journey catching up."
"I would like that, very much," Feemor agreed, smiling for another moment, before his expression took on a serious cast. "For now, however..."
"Yes," Obi-Wan agreed grimly, moving forward and falling back into step with the other, both of them easily accommodating the difference in their heights—given Wangui's age, Obi-Wan suspected Feemor was used to walking with someone significantly shorter than him. "Fifteen is a little old—in Mandalorian custom, she would be considered a young adult, no longer a child—but her presence may make the difference, if this Mandalorian is feeling trigger-happy."
Feemor grimaced, but nodded. "I'll let her make the decision, then."
Obi-Wan nodded; that was fair.
"And, if the Council approves, I'd like to bring Ace as our back-up; extractions are something of a specialty of theirs."
Yes, Obi-Wan had heard a bit about that, and if the rumours about them having a personal ship with an attached cargo hold large enough for a fighter or small shuttle were true, he, Feemor, and his padawan could travel in the larger ship and just use the smaller one once they got to their destination, which would save on fuel. And might just be enough to keep the Oversight Committee in the dark about how many jedi were going on the mission.
"I have no complaints," he agreed, and Feemor flashed him a grin.
With some surprise, Obi-Wan realised he was looking forward to the mission, which was a sensation he hadn't felt since a few missions before Naboo, one of the rare times that Qui-Gon's habit of poking the figurative—or literal, on two separate occasions—dragon just because he could, hadn't ended poorly.
That boded well.
Jango was in the middle of arguing to save another clone that was 'not to standard', whatever the kriff that meant, when the proximity alarms went off.
The immediate reaction of the scientists was, unsurprisingly, panic—the Kaminoans' greatest defence seemed to be their distance from the centre of the galaxy, followed by the general inhabitability of their planet for all but those few species that spent most of their life under water—and, in the confusion, Jango was able to grab the clone in question and bustle them out of there, smiling at them a bit helplessly when they immediately wrapped their arms around him and hid their face against his neck.
"Let's get you back to your squad, ad'ika," he murmured against the fine curls of their hair, so much thicker than his little Boba's, who was sleeping peacefully in the birikad hanging at his side, for all that the two had been decanted within a week of each other.
Some days, he really hated the speed ageing.
The clone let out a pathetic little whine and pressed a little closer to Jango.
The floor gave a great lurch, then shuddered as an impossibly-loud THOOM echoed through the curved halls, followed by a billow of debris.
Jango twisted, putting as much of his body as he could between the two children and the debris, and breathed a little easier when the worst of it was a long strip of panelling, which slid along the inside of the wall, well outside of range to hit any of them.
He was definitely regretting leaving his beskar'gam in his apartment that morning; he was getting a little too used to not needing it on the planet.
Once the debris had cleared out of the air, filtered by the Kaminoans' systems, Jango hesitated for a moment, then started in the direction the debris had come from; that was the most direct route to the clone dorms, and as much as he didn't want to chance putting the two children in danger, better he meet whatever had caused that much damage out in the halls, than chance it reaching the dorms before he could.
Coming across a karking shuttle punched into the side of the building, the nose broken through the far side, while the ass—presumably—hung out in the open air. What looked to have been an emergency airlock in the side facing Jango had been ripped open by something strong enough to make Jango suspect he wouldn't be able to defeat it without all of his beskar'gam's artillery, and a young-looking near-human with purple skin and a mess of dark hair was sitting against the wall.
There was a nasty cut on their forehead, which Jango spotted when their head jerked up to stare at him. "K-kriff. Hi. Uhm, no, uh." They squeezed their eyes shut and reached up to lightly touch the skin around the wound. "Sew...coo-gar?"
"Me'ven?" Jango uttered blankly.
"Me-ben," the child in his arms babbled.
Babbled, because they were copying something they'd heard, but didn't completely understand, Jango recognised. "Su cuy'gar?" he asked.
The purple-skinned being slumped. "That one, yes. Uncle Obi!"
A loud, slightly pointed sigh came from inside the shuttle, followed by someone letting out a laugh that sounded like it hurt.
A Mando'ad appeared in the torn opening, an arm draped over their shoulder as they clearly helped someone out of the wrecked shuttle.
Jango had spent the last eight years avoiding his people—save for comming a handful to set them to forming the group of trainers he would need to make soldiers out of the clones—so of course one of them would practically crash into him. He took it as the sign from the Manda that it clearly was meant as, and set the elder of the two children he was carrying down, so he could step forward, asking, "Need some help?" in Mando'a.
"Yes, please," the Mando'ad agreed, casting a quick glance at Jango, before looking back to the being they were assisting and saying, "Fee–" And then they turned back towards Jango, buy'ce hiding what was, no doubt, a rather delightful baffled look. "Oh, well then," they said in Core-accented Basic, before turning back to the one they were assisting. "Fee, we have help. I'm going to hand you over."
"Delightful," another voice muttered. "Next time we're about to crash, I get to wear your fancy armour, though."
The Mando'ad gave that little head tilt that Jango knew meant they were rolling their eyes, then ducked back under the arm to pass forward a tall, human or near to Jango, who carefully helped them past the torn opening.
As Jango helped the taller being to sit down next to the purple-skinned one, careful of what looked like a broken leg.
"Are you okay, Ma– Feemor?" the purple one asked, reaching out and gently touching their shoulder.
The tall one huffed and tugged the purple-skinned one into a hug, kissing the top of their head. "I'll be fine, my precious one. Are you okay?"
The purple-skinned one's answer was lost under the sound of a young voice calling, "Burrrrrrr!"
Jango twisted and watched with some shock as the young clone he'd been carrying ran up to the Mando'ad and threw their arms around one of their legs.
"Oh," the Mando'ad said, before carefully crouching down and pulling off their buy'ce, revealing them to be human or near, with red hair and pale skin spotted with freckles. "I'm afraid I'm not your parent, child," they said in Mando'a.
"Bur!" the clone said in an imperious tone, before holding out their arms to be held.
The Mando'ad looked uncertainly to Jango, who was just blinking, baffled. 'Buir' wasn't a word he'd ever used around any of the clones, except Boba, once or twice, in the privacy of their apartment. That wasn't a word this little one should know.
"Oh," breathed the tall one. "It's a Search."
A search for what?
The Mando'ad let out a nasty scoff, even as they picked up the clone and held them comfortably against themself, like caring for babies was something familiar to them.
Something in Jango's chest gave a little twist.
"I'm sure there were easier ways to ensure our deaths," the Mando'ad snarked in Basic, which got a resigned laugh from the tall one, then turned to Jango and touched a hand to their kar'ta beskar in a Mando salute. "I'm Ben Kenobi, no house allegiance. That's my sibling, Feemor, and their child, Wangui."
Jango returned the salute. "Jango Fett, House Mereel."
The Mando'ad's eyes went wide. "Mand'alor be'Haat Mando'ade?" they breathed.
Jango could help the flinch at his title, at the reminder of everything he'd lost at Galidraan.
"Ben, maybe in Basic, for those of us who are still learning Mando'a," the tall one—Feemor—requested tiredly.
Ben startled and looked over at their sibling and nibling. "Kriff, no. Medic, Fee."
"I'm fine," Feemor said insistently.
"I should see a medic, too," Wangui said, before what looked to be the start of a truly epic sibling shouting match could get going properly. "And so should Uncle Obi."
Feemor turned a smile on Ben. "Yes, he should, shouldn't he?"
"I think I liked it better when I didn't know you existed," Ben said sourly, and Feemor laughed.
"Here," Ben said, approaching Jango and trying to get the clone to let go of their kute, while their family leant on each other to stand. "Child, I need to give you back to your parent," they said in Mando'a.
"No! Bur!" the clone shouted, and absolutely refused to let go.
Something in Jango twisted at the sight of the little clone of himself clinging so hard to the Mando'ad, as though they knew who they were safe with. Because, the more clones were decanted, the older they got, the harder it was getting for Jango to pre-empt the Kaminoans' attempts to decommission those that didn't meet their damn standards.
He'd never thought, before, that there might be an easier way of saving those clones, that he could have the chance to get even one or two out, send them with Mando'ade, those who would treasure them as children, not misuse them as faceless soldiers like the Republic and the jetiise wanted.
He reached out and placed a hand over Ben's where it was trying to loosen the clone's hold. "It's fine. They're attached to you. I can help your sibling."
"I– Okay," Ben agreed, and when Jango removed his hand, they ran their hand gently over the clone's head, curls catching on their glove, and Jango had to look away, hoped the desperate thudding of his heart wasn't obvious on his face.
Jango didn't trust the Kaminoans, really, but he had to admit that they were their only real options, given the potential severity of the wounds involved, so he directed them to one of the smaller labs, the scientist in charge of which being one of the more tolerable ones.
Of course, then he would find two of the clones—Null-batch, given they'd been given an extra dose of the speed ageing, so looked closer to five, than the two or three the Alphas and first of the main run appeared—huddled on one of the beds, clinging to each other.
"What," he snarled, letting Feemor go so he could stalk forward, glaring at Gon Reh, the head of the lab, "is going on here?"
"That should be my question, Fett," the scientist returned in that bland tone all of the scientists seemed to have mastered.
"Prime, s'ok," one of the clones said. "Six fell. I 'membered you saysing, no, saying that Gon Reh wasn't bad."
Jango closed his eyes and let out a breath, taking a moment to get his protective panic under control. The Nulls coming to Gon Reh for medical help was good, it meant they were avoiding Ko Sai and her team of demagolkase, who all seemed to share the opinion that the Null-batch were too headstrong, not good soldier material, and, therefore, not up to 'standard'.
"I don't think this is a Search," Ben murmured.
"I'm beginning to suspect our grandma–father deserves to be on trial for crimes against...sentient life," Feemor muttered back.
"Bur," the clone Ben was holding contributed.
"These three were in the ship that crashed into the facility," Jango told Gon Reh. "They need medical help."
"I will treat you, and I will treat the clones, but I'm not treating trespassers," Gon Reh informed him flatly.
Jango narrowed his eyes. "Then perhaps you'll kriff off for an hour."
Gon Reh's head leaned back in shock, before leaning forward all in a rush, breath that smelt of cleaning solution breaking over Jango's face as they said, "You may be irreplaceable, Fett, but do not think that we don't have ways to ensure your behaviour."
A blaster slid forward in Jango's peripheral, the muzzle pressing against Gon Reh's forehead. "If you touch that baby, I will shoot you," Ben said, voice perfectly pleasant.
Jango's gaze jerked down to the birikad Boba was sleeping in, and he found one of Gon Reh's spindly hands only mere centimetres from touching the fabric. He snarled and grabbed Gon Reh's hand before he could pull it back, snapping the delicate tendons of their wrist and shoving him back as the Kaminoan howled in pain. "You do not touch my son!"
Gon Reh stumbled backwards, towards a terminal.
"Obi-Wan!" Feemor shouted, as Gon Reh's hand slammed down on a button just slightly removed from the controls for the terminal.
"Down!" Ben shouted, grabbing Jango around the waist and yanking him back, out of the way of the first shots fired by the little floating droids that were spilling into the room through the vents. The next shot that got too close pinged off their beskar'gam.
Jango found himself shoved under the medical bed the two Nulls had been sitting on, but were now huddled under with Wangui, who they were clinging to. The clone Ben had been holding was shoved into Jango's arms, and then the Mando'ad stepped back out from under cover, revealing the sight of Feemor with a lit green kad'au, spinning it with dizzying speed to block the shots of the droids.
"I hate Soresu!" Feemor shouted.
"There is no hate," Ben returned as they shoved on their buy'ce, and then pulled out a kad'au of their own, which lit blue.
"Then I strongly dislike it!"
Behind Jango, he thought he heard Wangui giggle.
Jetiise. He'd been walking around with—been helping—jetiise. He'd thought one of the clones would be kriffing safe with them!
Jango looked down at the clone in his arm, found them sucking their thumb and staring out at the jetiise with wide eyes. He brushed a hand over the curls of their hair, remembering how the jetii, Ben, had done the same, had held them as though they were precious.
Had held a blaster to Gon Reh's head, simply because he'd been reaching for Boba.
"Wow," one of the Nulls breathed. "We getta fight with them?"
"If they're s'mazing, why do they even need us?" the other grumbled.
"I...don't understand the question," Wangui said, their voice kept quiet. "Why would Master Feemor and Uncle Obi need you? You're sentient beings; you don't need to be needed by anyone."
"We're made for the jedi," one of them said, a simple fact that they had already started having drilled into their heads.
"By who? Why?" Wangui demanded, sounding...distraught?
Jango twisted to look back, and found that they certainly looked distraught.
The two Nulls traded uncertain looks, then both looked at Jango.
"Bur!" the clone in his arms called, right before the sound of two kad'ause sounded through the room, leaving behind a deafening silence.
When Jango turned back to look, he found the room littered with droid bodies, including a couple of the B1 battledroids Tyranus had been sending for training simulations.
"You're jedi," Gon Reh said.
"Yes," Feemor said, tone that blasted mild one that all jetiise always seemed to use.
(It was the first time Jango had heard any of them using it. Which was clearly because they'd been trying to trick him, to, to lull him into some false sense of security. Why else would Ben be wearing beskar'gam. Stolen, doubtless, as if the jetiise haven't done enough harm to his people.)
"But y-you aren't supposed to be here yet!"
Feemor and Ben cocked their heads to the side, Ben slightly more pronounced, like most Mando'ade who were used to wearing their buy'ce did.
(That...wasn't something a jetii in stolen beskar'gam should automatically do.)
"And when, then, were we expected to arrive?" Feemor asked.
"Once the army was ready!"
"Th-the clones. To fight the Republic's enemies!"
"What enemies?" Wangui hissed behind Jango. "We're at peace."
"Of course, that army," Feemor said, their tone still perfectly mild. "Perhaps you could tell us about the clones? I'm afraid our mission brief was a little...slim on the details."
...why did Jango get the feeling that these jetiise had no idea what they'd stumbled upon?
"We, we used the warrior, Jango Fett, as ordered. All allergies and other such...flaws have been removed, and we've added such enhancements as knowledge retention and muscle growth. Necessary, you understand, for their accelerated growth."
"Naturally," Feemor said into Gon Reh's pause.
"Naturally, yes, you understand! If the Republic needs an army in ten years, of course their growth must be accelerated! Of course, sometimes there are some...minor mistakes." Gon Reh's gaze narrowed on the group of them hiding under the bed, and Jango honestly couldn't tell if he meant the clone in Jango's arms, or the two Nulls. "But we will still have the full order ready on time; we always plan to make spares."
"A sound business choice," Ben said, their voice flat through the modulator of their buy'ce.
"Yes, yes, problem do arise," Gon Reh agreed, tone getting rather more cheerful. "We had a number of unexpected snags with the chip, but such additions do have a habit of complicating matters."
"Chip?" Ben asked, folding their hands behind their back and curling them into fists. Next to them, Feemor had gone rigid.
Jango wasn't doing much better, himself; this was the first he'd heard of any 'chip'. And, given his profession, his mind was immediately drawing some horrifying conclusions.
"Well, yes. The control chip–"
Gon Reh's head spun around in a gruesome parody of a dance move, the sound of his neck snapping loud in the room.
"Obi-Wan!" Feemor snapped.
"You can judge me after you've held your padawan's hand while their slave chip was removed," Ben snarled, spinning in place to pin Jango with the emotionless stare of the buy'ce's visor. "Did you know?" they demanded.
"If I had," Jango snarled back, "you would have arrived to find a crater."
A tight, heavy feeling eased out of the air, and Jango couldn't quite manage to quell a shudder at the reminder of how dangerous jetiise were. It wasn't just their kad'ause and their ability to cut through nearly anything, it was also their ability to move things with their minds and kriff with your thoughts.
"It's not the fact that you killed them, little brother," Feemor said tiredly, limping over a step and dropping an arm around Ben's shoulder's, "it's the how. And the fact that we could have got more information out of them."
"I'm sure there are others running around would would be delighted to spill all their crimes to a jedi master," Ben replied drily.
Feemor sighed. "And what will you be doing, then, Knight Kenobi?"
Ben let out a noise that didn't translate well through the modulator of the buy'ce. "I'm in beskar'gam; figured I'd go poke my nose where it isn't supposed to be, maybe get shot at a couple of times."
"How did Qui-Gon survive your entire padawanship?" Feemor asked, sounding utterly done in.
"Excuse me. Who do you think pissed everyone off enough for them to start shooting?"
"He was not that bad when I was his padawan," Feemor said. "I have no idea where–"
They looked at each other, Feemor's expression going flat. "Xanatos," they chorused.
And then Feemor shifted positions and winced.
"Medical attention," Ben said. "Wangui, help me get your master on to one of these beds. Younglings, I don't suppose either of you happen to know if there's a medical droid in this room?"
The Nulls traded uncertain looks, then turned to Jango with wide, pleading eyes.
Jango sighed and shoved himself out from under the bed, juggling the clone in his arms and Boba, who was finally starting to wake up, now the excitement was over; his son could sleep through anything, which certainly had it's positives. "Left, three down, probably in the cabinet farthest from the door," he directed, and the pair of them raced out of the room.
"You, too, Obi-Wan," Feemor called.
Jango looked back at the jetiise and was a little surprised to find Ben—Obi-Wan?—standing just out of arm's reach, buy'ce tilted in a considering manner.
"Where did you get it?" Jango demanded. Or, well, tried to demand; the words came out sounding flat and hollow.
Did he, of everyone in the galaxy, really have the right to judge another for wearing beskar'gam?
"I spent a year on Mandalore," Ben replied, tone bland through the modulator. "Picked up pieces that fit when Kyr'tsad didn't need them any more. When my mission was over, a Haat'ad told me it was mine to keep, that I'd earnt it."
Jango frowned. "Haat'ad?"
Vhonte? Kriff, that woman was terrifying. A part of Jango'd always wondered if he wouldn't have been the sole survivor, if she hadn't needed to stay back with her new foundling.
If she'd told Ben the beskar'gam was theirs, Jango wasn't about to contest her. Especially since Ben was clearly comfortable in it.
"Then it's yours," he said.
"Bur," the clone in his arms babbled, reaching for Ben again.
Ben held completely still for a moment, then asked, "Are you going to help us, or hinder us?"
Jango thought of control chips in his clones, of the sight and sound of Gon Reh's neck snapping, of Wangui hugging the Nulls and Feemor standing a fighting with a broken leg.
He thought of the heat of Ben's arm around him as they moved him out of the line of fire, and the way they had held the clone Jango was holding in his arms now.
He held out one arm, and wasn't particularly surprised when Ben gripped his forearm in a firm hold. "I'll help, but I think you owe me a proper introduction, Ben."
Ben huffed and inclined their head. "Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, he/him; I went by 'Ben' on Mandalore." He motioned to Feemor. "That's Jedi Master Feemor, he/him, and his current padawan, Wangui, she/her. A former jedi who has Fallen, uh, gone bad?"
"Decided his personal gain was worth more than the happiness and good health of the rest of the galaxy," Feemor supplied flatly.
Be– Obi-Wan motioned with one hand in his direction, then continued, "He sent us here, implied there was something worth our attention, assuming we could survive the Haat'ad in residence."
Obi-Wan reached out and brushed a hand through the clone's hair, earning him a bright giggle and a call of, "Bur!"
"Yes," Obi-Wan said, voice soft and warm even through the modulator, "you were definitely worth our attention."
From the tilt of Obi-Wan's buy'ce, Jango honestly couldn't say if the words were aimed at the clone, or him. Unexpectedly, he was okay with that.