‘Glad?!’ Boba screamed inwardly. He had to find his dad, make sure he was alright! They couldn’t just leave him alone after all what happened? Vau busied himself with cleaning his precious blades like nothing happened and Tomoe had drawn up that invisible wall around her again. Boba tried to follow the faceless Cuy’val Dar who were filing out.
"You can’t stop it.” Kal held him back again gently “This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with discipline and order. Jango must maintain the respect of the men." The wiry old mercenary whispered in Boba’s ear.
For a time Jango was oblivious to the white corridor surrounding him, he was far too lost in the pain searing through his leg with every step he took, to his own gut wrenching sorrow that bit so hard into his soul that it literally tore him in two. His dream floated ethereally out of his grasp. At that point a chilling smile crept across his scarred face “Never underestimate a woman!”
He did the arrangements mechanically, returning to his own flat first to organize a quarter. The Kaminoans left the detail-organization of the military district as well as equipment to the staff hired to do the training, so he could settle things with minimum explanations.
Afterwards, Jango hoisted himself up from the chair and went to Slave 1. He picked up a small box with her stuff and retrieved some tools of his trade which he kept on board of his ship. Then he visited that new quarter he had picked for her. One room should be enough, since size and fixtures had not been defined in the bargain. If Cin’ciri wanted extras, she would have to ask him.
Grunting at the fresh pain, he stretched to allocate a set of simple surveillance devices in a notch well over his small obsession’s reach. He took a step back to check his work, then, looking off into the distance as though he could see his quarry out there somewhere he assured himself “Lessons so hard learned are not easily forgotten.”
There was nothing so bad that it couldn’t have something worth-while wrung from it, and good luck was simply a matter of what you decided to do with the hand you were dealt.
“That looked like fun... I want a go as well.” Instead of leaving the sergeant’s training room silently, a warrior in red armor strolled over, “What happened to ‘winner stays within the circle’?” he requested load enough for all to hear.
“It was about a private matter, Priest.” Vau finished wrapping up the sabers and shouldered the package in a way that made clear he wasn’t going to unpack it again “One that is closed now”
“I could use a little privacy...” the man tucked his helmet under his arm and grinned “and I’d prefer a wrestling match anyway.”
Tomoe decided that ignoring the insolence would only egg the bully on and encourage others to follow his example. Knowing she could not leave it all to Vau, she ran her gaze slowly over unruly light brown hair, resting briefly on his eyes then continued down a hooked nose that looked a little out of place in the roundly face merging into a bull's neck. She wondered if he was as quick as wide. “We have not been introduced so far, so we can hardly have an argument over a private issue.”
“Dred Priest.” He picked up smoothly.
“I would be honored to meet you one day... under better circumstances.” Tomoe pronounced cautiously.
“No better t...”
“Cut the osik.” Another warrior in red armor shouldered past him. Tomoe could tell this was a female for the shape of the armor plates and thick, grey-streaked chestnut braids that fell around her shoulders when she pulled off her helmet. “I’m Rav Bralor.” She extended a hand, grasping Tomoe’s elbow “Nice to meet you. I suggest we get you sorted out with decent quarters now. Tomorrow’s another day.”
The door slid open and revealed her true opponent who gave her a quirk of his eyebrow a quick grim smile. Catching Boba in a quick hug, Jango just silently turned and left the sergeants training room. If anything he had seemed to pull back a step or two emotionally.
Tomoe fell in step beside Skirata at the end of the line as the remaining Mando’ade filed out of the training room. Rav’s intervention allowed her like a graceful cat to saunter quietly past whatever traditional dilemma was dropped at her feet. She felt death tired, using her remaining energy to simply listen, ignore (or smile and nod) and move on.
Jango wasted no time to introduce Tomoe to her duties on the way to her own quarter. “You will be there for Boba, keep him well feed and doing his homework while I’m at work. To those continued duties and further jobs, you’ll attend calisthenics every morning. I’ll pick you up at 5:15 tomorrow to assign you additional tasks. Your monthly wage is 200 credits, payable by the end of the month, free board and lodging. Here we are.” The group’s entry made the small one-room quarter look even more cramped as it was filled with too many people in too much armor.
‘You fought hard just to exchange one prison cell for another...’ a small voice in her mind mocked her ‘At least it’s my own and there are no eyebolts at the walls.’ – ‘Alone, yes... any idea how to fend for yourself in these foreign surroundings?’ – ‘Done that before’ – ‘No, all you did was retreating into a niche, but now your habitat of convenience is out of reach.’ – ‘Shut up.’ Tomoe spotted an open box with her few belongings sitting on the small table, her knife among them.
Jango turned to leave, taking Boba’s hand “Time for us to turn in.”
Vau cleared his throat “You forgot something.” He waited for Jango to turn around then eyed the anklet around Tomoe’s slender heel, his gaze running up her long bare legs with relish.
“Not now.” Tomoe backed away to the table. “Please excuse me, gentlemen, it has been a long day.” She bowed slightly. She didn’t want anybody to touch her now. Not when she had the means to remove the thing on her own if she felt the need.
"See you in the morning." Vau smirked and followed the Fetts to the door, but Skirata hesitated “You alright?” Tomoe nodded silently. “Fett wanted you to have this.” Kal retrieved the note from a pocket of his bantha-jacket and passed it to the young woman cautiously, then turned to the exit.
Tomoe unfolded a sheet full of tables and numbers and text. A medical readout of sorts, but she had difficulties to decipher it. “Kal...? Can you tell me what this is about, please?” she held it out to him at arm’s length.
Kal’s eyes ran over the page “The medical readout of a healthy, pregnant female.” He managed a smile of sorts.
“Ah...” she opened her mouth just to close it again. ‘How dare you, Fett! ... I should have run him through when I had the chance...’ her gaze caught on a gleam of the anklet and her mind jumped to ‘home delivery service?’ She took the document Kal returned her with neutral impression, “This...” she clenched the flimsy “is a serious breach of etiquette.” ... and a serious understatement.
‘Women!’ Kal hunched his shoulders. “It’s just about plain facts.” he tried to soothe her.
“Facts that are mine to disclose.” her eyes narrowed “and it is my decision that has to be respected. That’s the deal.”
“Tomoe, please...” He noticed her death stare had resurfaced. Who could tell where her anguish would strike next? “...for a Mandalorian, family means everything.”
“I have to think about this... ” Feeling a deeper hurt inside of the old warrior she cut the argument before the insults boiling on her rage could bubble over her lips. “... and sleep over it.”
“Are you sure you are alright?” Kal did not like her mental withdrawal any better than her scathing, but she would say no more and saw him to the door. He sighed “Yes, think about it and don’t do anything stupid... Take care.”
After the door hissed shut behind Skirata, Tomoe strode back to the table. Standing in the centre of the room she clutched her knife close to her chest. At first, the black, lacquered sheath felt cool under her hands but it warmed quickly. She could feel her own heartbeat thrumming within like it was a living being. She guessed a quick stab into the innards of the monitoring anklet was sufficient to bring Fett running... to check her pulse and what not. No breach of promise in stabbing a gate-crashing intruder?
’You know what you do not want, fine. But what DO you want for yourself? For the two of us? – Who says there is a WE? – Because that’s the way it is. You know it... he knows it... damn him! – I can remove the HE-problem permanently. – And win... what? You have to fend for us. Remove Fett and problems like Priest will queue up all around this dome. Remember, we can’t get away. – For the moment.’
Tomoe picked up the readout, looking for a date and parental identification. An estimation and the client-ID on the header didn’t make Fett anything, let alone the father of her child. She folded the readout carefully and placed it inside the box. She would have to be extra careful around the genetic specialists in this place who could even clone complete humans.
‘What if...?’ She had to ask Vau what kind of side effects she had to expect from the filth they had injected into her. If she played it right she could get back to him in case she needed medicine without involving a cloner medic. And she had to try if she could make friends with that resolute woman from the sparring room.
Once that was cleared she went into the tiny bathroom to clean up and wash her sweat drenched clothing, hoping that her single set of rags would dry until morning. Afterwards, she tried to make herself comfortable, but she was terribly cold, with the chilly weather of Kamino and the absence of any warm, thick blankets. She pulled the thin sheet up, curled into a ball and shivered until she fell asleep with her sheathed knife clutched in her left.
Some doors away, Jango tried to tuck Boba in. The small one was wide awake and simply turned down any order to sleep. “Tomoe was so angry all of sudden... even more than the day we met... Why?”
Jango sighed, fishing for an explanation “We had a disagreement. It’s closed now.”
“She’s going to have a baby. Some human females have mood swings during pregnancy. What do you think about a little brother or sister?”
Boba wrinkled his forehead, “One who is not a clone?” he tried to grasp the idea.
“No growth acceleration... you could grow up together... you would finally have a playmate... it would be more like a normal family” Jango sketched out for him. Boba wrinkled his forehead. ‘What was normal anyway?... Adults fighting?... uhm maybe...’ but something felt still horrible wrong. Jango used the silence to figure a bedtime story, “I had an older sister, Arla...” he started telling the boy about his family’s homestead on Concord Dawn.
When he finished, Boba piped up “I’d like to have a sister too... even if it’s just a younger one.”
“Patience. In some months time, we will know more... Go to sleep little one. We have a long day tomorrow," whispered Jango as he kissed Boba on the head then finally turned in himself.
Sometime later, Jango caught himself staring at the blank ceiling over his bed. It disturbed him to think that his attraction to her was on a deeper level beyond sex, something that he had always managed to avoid in his life. ‘Missing out a lot? Load of osik!’ All he needed was a good night’s sleep and he would be alright.
What he missed nevertheless was the warmth of the slender woman pressing against his naked body combined with the fact he knew that underneath that oversized shirt was smooth, white skin and the curvy ass he had been looking for all day. Instantly, a decadent picture took shape on the inside of his eyelids.
"I don’t know what you are, but for right now you are mine,"
He let his mind wander over her body as he took his pleasure into his own hands. His mind moved from the static form to the sound of her voice, thoughts of their nights in this bed. Before long he let out a gasp of pleasure as he spent himself in his hand.
His leg hurt.
The reason for the pain pressing into the foreground mercilessly, Jango sat up in the bed suddenly, panting hard and sweating. The feel of the half-conscious dream was still lingering while he looked around the room. He slowly brought his breathing under control, trying to put the thought out of his mind. He closed his eyes, trying sort out his confused feelings and to will himself to sleep.
The more he got to know her the more he would become attached to her. Would it work the other way round? His actions towards her, from comforting her to allowing her so close to him were instinctual, and seemed so natural - despite the fact things had happened he had never done before. Jango was confused by the conflicting parts of him and it bothered the usually decisive man greatly.
Now, years after his loss it was as if the wall that Jango had built came crashing down around him to let her inside. His own rule was mocking him... Do that which you fear most, and you will find the courage you seek.
... Hah! Easier said than done.