Obi Wan Kenobi was used to danger. He was a Jedi after all. But he wasn’t used to watching his daughter run into it without him. He had long since learned to let Anakin do so, which had helped their relationship some. But now, as the space battle around him winded down, Obi Wan felt the worry for his padawan tugging at him. His expression must have shown the change, because Admiral Jai Tarris gave him an odd look. They were standing on the bridge of the Waverider, the new flagship for the 212th Battalion. Admiral Yularen and his fleet were with Anakin at another planet in this sector. It was the first time in a long time Obi Wan wasn’t in on what his former padawan was up to, and that was also bothering him. And that didn’t even touch his concern for his wife as she waited their return to Coruscant. . .
“Is something wrong General?” Admiral Tarris asked, studying his face intensely.
“I’m just worried about my padawan. Has there been any word from the ground forces yet?” Kenobi replied, picking an easy answer.
“No sir, not since the landing confirmation.” The communications officer answered, looking up from his station in the crew pit.
Acacia stood on top of the tank watching her troops marching around her. Looking at the crest of the hill in front of them, Acacia spotted the tops of buildings in the distance. Acacia signaled a halt and jumped down from the tank. Running to the ridge, Acacia crouched and accepted the micro-binoculars from Cody who had been scouting ahead.
“What are we looking at?” a clone by the name of Waxer inquired from her right.
“A couple tanks on the North side and 4 anti-aircraft emplacements on the corners of the fortress. The Southern and Western sides are almost impossible to approach on foot due to the ocean.” Cody replied, his filtered voice reminding Acacia of the old holos of Mandalorian Warriors.
“Which leaves the Eastern side as the obvious choice. Its almost like they know that an inexperience Jedi is leading the campaign.” Acacia observed quietly, her helmet filter creating a different effect than most. Enough that both Cody and Waxer’s senses showed surprise, even though she couldn’t see their expressions.
“Are they wrong, Padawan General?” Cody asked in a tone that told Acacia that he still didn’t trust her completely.
“I might be an inexperienced as far as the Jedi Order is concerned, but I have been studying tactics since the day I learned to read. We are going to scale the Southern side. Mandalorian style.” Acacia responded rising and handing the binoculars to another clone nicknamed Boil. Turning, she headed for the tanks which would make sure that her command made it into Kana Toro.
Obi Wan listened to Cody’s report, and marveled at his daughter’s hidden talents. Not only had she taken the Capitol of Kanant within 48 hours of landing, but she had done so with low casualties. The Jedi Council seemed as surprised, if not more so, than he was.
“Where is Padawan Drii?” Shaak Ti inquired after a few minutes of stunned silence.
“She is with the injured, General. While we didn’t sustain as many casualties as we could have, the medics are a bit overwhelmed with the number of injured.” Cody replied, shifting his helmet from his right hand to his left, a nervous gesture Obi Wan recognized.
“Tell her we expect a full report upon her return to Coruscant.” Shaak Ti ordered him, before switching off the comm-link.
“Acacia knows more about the Separatists than you realize. I wouldn’t have sent her down there if I didn’t think she was capable.” Kenobi told his friend, looking him straight in the eye. Cody nodded, and ended the transmission.
“How are they?” Cody’s voice asked from behind Acacia as she washed the blood off her hands.
“Nothing fatal, though are a few that will be if we don’t get them to an actual med bay soon. The medics are taking care of the last few minor injuries and prepping the serious ones for transport.” Acacia responded, turning to face him. That was when he saw the bandage around her right shoulder.
“You okay, Padawan?” He inquired, the concern obvious on his face.
“I’ll be fine. How did the briefing go?” Acacia replied casually, though Cody could tell she was exhausted.
“The Jedi Council seemed pleased with the results and requested that you give them a full report upon our return to Coruscant.” Cody informed her, as they exited the bunker.
“Pleased with the results, but not with the tactics. I should have guessed as much.” Acacia muttered, using her left hand to pull her white cloak around her. From her helmet held loosely in her right hand to her customized officers uniform, she looked every inch like a Mandalorian warrior.
“Padawan?” He probed carefully, his own helmet still held in his left hand.
“Never mind, Commander. What’s our next move?” Acacia responded sounding a bit distant as she changed the subject. As Cody went in to the details of protocol following a victory, something clicked in the back of his mind. Acacia’s words before the assault on Kano Taro came back to him. We are going to scale the Southern side. Mandalorian style.
“That was interesting.” Acacia said as she followed her master into their private training room onboard the Waverider.
“I agree. You showed an aptitude for commanding ground forces, my young padawan. Cody was impressed.” Obi Wan replied, walking over to the training equipment computer.
“It is what I was trained to do.” Acacia responded sarcastically, unclipping her lightsaber from her belt.
Obi Wan gave his daughter a patient look as he took the pre-programed data pad from the computer terminal.
“Why can’t they just understand that.” Acacia added bitterly, igniting her lightsaber and swinging it moodily.
Obi Wan Kenobi watched her for a moment, his mind traveling back in time to when he had been a frustrated padawan.
“The Council’s reaction to your tactics isn’t what is bothering you.” Obi Wan stated in his quiet way.
Acacia kept swinging her lightsaber, allowing it to form a familiar pattern as she analyzed the emotions swirling inside her.
“I just don’t understand what they’re so afraid of. It’s not like my love for my parents and friends is pulling me to the dark side. In fact, the only thing that has ever made me that angry is them.” Acacia clarified in the same tone she had used before, stopping her lightsaber and letting her hand fall to her side. However, Obi Wan detected the sadness and loneliness hidden beneath the storm of emotions. Walking up to his padawan, he gently took the lightsaber from her clenched fist. For a moment she just stood there, and then she buried her head in his chest. Holding her close, Obi Wan held her close as the sobs took over.
Ahsoka sat in-between her clone troopers in the mess hall, her mind on the news Master Skywalker had told her on their gunship ride to board the Relentless. During her temple studies, Ahsoka had taken the overview of the events of the Mandalorian Wars and the Jedi Civil War. But it had only included a summary of events and lists of generals. It hadn’t told her much about the Mandalorian culture, or what being Mandalore meant beyond military leadership.
“What’s wrong, kid?” Rex (who was sitting next to her) inquired, his conversation with Fives having ended as the other was heading off for duty.
“I’m trying to figure out why Acacia being Mandalore is so important since the Mandalorians are no longer fighting with the Jedi. The summary I received of the Mandalorian Wars didn’t really explain the position of Mandalore except in military situations.” Ahsoka explained before taking a bite of her food.
“Based on what I’ve heard, the title Mandalore has something to do with the Mandalorian hierarchy and is a symbol of which clan is in charge.” Anakin pitched in before Rex could respond as he sat down across from them a food tray in his hands.
“That sounds similar to what I’ve heard.” Rex confirmed, greeting his general with a nod. Anakin returned the gesture, and then turned to his padawan.
“Why is that bothering you, Ahsoka?” Anakin probed, taking a bite of his own food.
“The Council is making a big deal out of it, and I was trying to figure out why.” Ahsoka replied, looking down at her plate.
“You and I both.” Anakin admitted, shaking his head and focusing on his meal.
Later that night, Acacia lay in her bed absentmindedly studying the ceiling of her bed chamber. Her thoughts where on the dream that had woken her up. It had been the ruins of an old stone building surrounded by water. As she had been looking at it, something told her that she need to know what was inside. Then the dream had ended. Wondering whether Skywalker had seen it to, Acacia swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat up. Deciding not to turn on her light, Acacia instead reached for the data pad she had been studying before she had gone to bed.
Settling back in her bed, Acacia allowed herself to get lost in the adventures of the Jedi of old. Eventually she fell back asleep, but even in her dreams she saw their adventures.
Chyrii (Cole’s younger sister) stood on her bedroom balcony watching the late-night traffic go about its business. It had been a couple weeks since Cole had gone to Coruscant. In those few weeks, everything had changed. Before the Duchess had left she had appointed a new security advisor and had pulled Acacia’s team off the force. Behind her, Chyrii could hear the rest of the team gathering in living room of the house they all shared. Pulling her hair up into a tidy bun, Chyrii exit her bedroom. She was greeted by seeing Scott Taiosk and Andre Onasi talking to Acacia’s cousin, Ava Katan.
“Ava?” Chyrii exclaimed in pleasant surprise, embracing her friend.
“Chyrii, it’s good to see you. Your brother sends his greetings.” Ava said, returning the embrace and greeting.
“How is the scoundrel?” Scott inquired cheerfully as he helped both ladies find a seat.
“Cole asked me to tell you that he was injured, but is recovering well. He is working with Republic intelligence to locate the assassins that have been taking shots at Acacia. Speaking of my cousin, she told me to give you this.” Ava informed them, handing Scott a small holo-disc.
“Injured?! How?” Chyrii questioned her friend, almost rising from her chair in surprise.
“He was attacked by assassins who tried to use him as bait. Acacia took the assassins out and Cole was taken to the Jedi Temple for treatment. Apparently one of the assassins stabbed him in the shoulder. I saw him before I left and I wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t told me, so you needn’t worry.” Ava told them, her attitude going from cheerful to controlled anger.
“And Acacia?” Scott probed almost as if he didn’t want to know.
“I got a message just before I landed that she just successfully led her first land assault. She got a minor burn on her arm, but is otherwise unharmed. It was her second successful command in as many assignments, and she was able to do it with less than average casualties. She’s been apprenticed to Obi Wan Kenobi, the Duchess’ friend. My mother said they’ve known each other since before my aunt became Duchess. The message is from her.” Ava explained, rising and waving her hand and the disc Scott still held.
“Thank you for delivering it yourself.” Chyrii said, standing up to give her friend a goodbye hug.
“Of course, Mandalore would expect no less.” Ava replied with a smile before she headed out the door.
“Mandalore?” Andre repeated, looking from one to the other of his friends.
Scott didn’t respond, but instead flicked on the holo-disc and hit play. Acacia’s holo-image appeared, dressed in the customized academy outfit she had worn on occasion.
“My dear friends, I know your removal from the security team feels like a betrayal. I want to explain my actions. As a Jedi and Mandalore, an identity I can no longer keep secret, I cannot hold an official government position besides that which is my birthright. Therefore, upon my request, Duchess Satine has placed you in position where you can choose to join me and Cole on Coruscant as part of my team or go back to the jobs you held before. It is up to you. All I can tell you of my team’s mission is that it is an important one that has the potential to change the outcome of this war. As for my team, it includes my Aunt Bo Katan, Uncle Fenn Rau, and my Cousin Ava Katan, Shadow 1 and 2, Master Skywalker and Master Kenobi, Cole, and myself. Please know that whatever you choose to do, I will understand you decision. May the Force be with you and guide you in the choices to come.”
After a few moments, Andre looked at his companions. “I’m going. What about you two?”
“Save me a spot, just not the pilot seat!” Scott said with a laugh.
“Same here.” Chyrii added giggling.
“To Coruscant we go!” Andre exclaimed, jumping up and dashing to his room. Still laughing, the other two followed his example.
To be continued
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