A hyperspace flight gone sorely sideways for the Bad Batch squad leader Hunter.
As the seemingly quick and easy mission soon turned into a nightmarish battle for life in space. With the hyperspace corridor collapsing mid flight and causing an emergency landing onto a far away planet. Or rather having sent the small craft hurling uncontrollably only to crash onto the planet's surface.
When the Mandalorian, Din Djarin finds the crash landed and badly injured man in the middle of the dry desert, barely breathing, Din realises that not only is the pilot of the lost vessel out of place of sorts, but also, out of time. Timeless, to the letter of the word
This is a crossover story as told over space and time for the Book of Boba Fett, the Mandalorian and the Bad Batch.
This story set in the series of 'Tales from Boba's Palace'. But can be read as a standalone tale.
A Din/Hunter paring.
The clone who fell from the skies
Wandering aimlessly through space and time, but somehow ending up in the place simply fine
His eyes were slowly opening, focusing on the surroundings.
The visibility was blurry at best, as viewed through the visor of the damaged helmet. He tried to remember what had just happened. Where he was. And to assess his injuries if any. The quick thinking of a highly trained soldier, even if their mind would not have been in its best set.
The flight in space, the hyperspace corridor, all going according to plan. And then, the sound of something crashing while hitting his craft. Causing all kinds of havoc on the small vessel with the alarms blasting off until finally loosing the battle for the control of the craft. Only to be flying out of the hyperspace corridor, causing the vessel to spin out of control.
He had tried his best to keep the craft steady and then to navigate it through the normal space. Alas, all his efforts were soon for nought as the spinning vehicle had been caught in the gravity of a nearby planet.
As none of the instruments were working either, there really was nothing for him to help guide the spiralling craft at this point. And so, soon enough, there was nothing to do but to hold one's breath and hope the Sith the vessel would land on some uninhabited part of the planet rather than in a densely populated area.
After the ship jumped and bounced on its way down, it landed fast and with a loud crash.
It did not help that the craft was having multiple fires all over sending the crackles and pops of the sparkles flying in the diminishing breathable air inside the vessel. Luckily for him, the landing place was mostly sandy as far as he could see from the cockpit viewport before the vessel had started boring into the soft substance.
Him having been tossed about inside the small cockpit had caused several injuries all over his body. But luckily he still managed to crawl out of the flying machine before it got completely absorbed by the sand. Must have been the adrenal which kept him going, because he could feel the blood trickling out of several cuts he had sustained and with an increasing pace too. Some of the cuts being worse than the others.
But at the moment, he did not care as his only goal was to leave the sinking ship before it was too late.
And then, after some wiggling, pushing and grunting, he was out. Half lying on the ground leaning against his arms. Just in time to watch the ship sink deeper into the sand before it had totally disappeared from the view. Helpless to do anything more about it. The heavy sigh escaping his lips.
Feeling the pain and nausea catching up with his body, making it go all numb and uncooperative. With his eye lids heavy, the energy all but drained from him. There was no more fight left in him.
Soon enough, his head started buzzing. The odd electrical shocks shooting there, but then his thoughts were lost to him as well. And in the end, there was nothing but darkness surrounding him. Giving in. His body lying on the hot sands, passed out from the pain and exhaustion of the crash. Unable to fend himself against anything or anyone who could have easily taken advantage of the situation.
The final thought lingering in his mind - whether he would ever see the light of day again.
His senses started walking up, but the darkness was still present. Either that of his mind, his state of then, the night had fallen.
Just then, he could feel someone was close by.
Friend or foe was the first question popping into his mind. Reaching for his weapon, which was still securely holstered. Thank the Maker! He could not see well yet. Or at all. The dirt covering most of his armour now, had also blotted his helmet and the visor of it rather badly. But his senses were on full alert. Even more heightened than before as he was now, literally blind.
He could not really move as he felt the aches and pains all over his body. But his hand was still working as he slowly reached for the weapon.
As the someone out there was standing quite still and clearly waiting for him to make the first move. He then decided on diplomacy instead of starting to shoot randomly, even if he was able to sense where the stranger was standing at. But not really knowing what was out there waiting for him, deciding on trying with the talking. Because it could as easily have been a kid there as well. But then again, by the smells, the energy vibrating from them and soft sounds the person was making, he could tell it was an adult.
So, talking it would be then. Hoping only for the best at this point as he was in no way, shape or form to defend himself. Let alone fight anyone. As it was, he was trying to be as cool and calm as possible. Trying hard not to show how badly wounded he really was. Something which he could not yet tell even himself. But letting an opponent see it, was not an option either.
He the decided then. His first words from the stranger being a simple question. Not too hard nor confronting. Right?
"What, is this place?"
His tone more coarse than usual as his throat felt totally dry due to all the dusty sand around him. Besides, it had been a while since he had managed any liquids either and there was no bottle to be found before he had gotten out of the ship.
The stranger replied in a soft, low and velvety, almost seductive tone, if he did not know any better, as a sandy desert was hardly a place to pick someone up. The stranger's tone had also a familiar reminiscence to his own timbre. When it was normal sounding and not this, raspy hoarse version which had sounded out just now.
He felt totally comfortable around this stranger for some odd reason at the very moment.
Call it a hunch, a gut feeling. Or then his senses had been damaged during the crash rather badly. And it was simply something the stranger did. To get their opponent to lull into a false sense of security, before they would pounce and make their kill!
Whatever and whomever he was dealing with right now, he wanted to know more of them. And most of all, he needed to see them. Trusting his gut feeling still. On the stranger being friendly. At least for the moment.
Deciding to forgo the weapon and use the one working hand to remove his helmet instead. Which he then managed to do with some effort. As it was, most his body parts seemed to be non-operational on some level at least.
He turned to look at the stranger still standing some steps away. Staring for a long while, the stranger coming to focus finally. And then seeing them rather clearly, despite the darkness of the night. Because the night had fallen as he had suspected.
After staring for a moment, he could not really sure why this, warrior, the shiny metal armour and a helmet a dead give away, looked so totally cool and collected. As they had had plenty of chance to kill him on the spot.
Staring for another moment as the vision became more clear and focused. He could see the familiarity of the armour in the pale moons light. He decided to be a tad bolder then and asked as calmly as possible.
"You, are a Mandalorian?"
The stranger the replied, sounding almost proud even if there was only a hint of change in his tone. Even volunteering more information, another surprise for sure.
"My name is, Din, Din Djarin."
The stranger paused and moved a step closer. But clearly him being as vigilant as excepted, having one hand close to the weapon at all times. Something he was now able to see more clearly, after his eyes had finally adjusted to the darkness.
"And who might you be?"
The one called Din asked from the total stranger who had crash landed right in his backyard.
"I am called, Hunter."
Hunter volunteered. As at this point, being on first name bases was always a good sign. A good way to start any relationship. Even if only a stranger lending a helping had for another. As Hunter clearly needed it. Help.
Deciding to clarify whom he really was, Hunter added. "I am the Sergeant of Clone Force ninety-nine."
At least Hunter's memory was still intact even if the rest of him felt rather pain filled and sore, him being hardly able to move. But for now at least talking, came easy.
Din sounded a little confused as he seemed to be contemplating on what it meant for him, if anything. Then again, even if the clones were known by most around the galaxy, the variously named squads were not. As for Clone Force 99? Well, they had mostly being running covert ops since the very beginning of their formation. So, a brand name it was not.
"I can't say I have heard of it."
Then again Din knew of the clone wars of course as it was recent history. But he was really not familiar with the specific squads, nor other specifics either. Just that the Republic had used them. And after that, the Empire. But he wasn't sure of the New Republic employed them as well. Or even if there many of them around.
"But, then again, I would assume there are plenty of squads in the military of the New Republic."
Din tried to remember, but could not. Then again, Din had not been so interested in the organisational structure of the new regime. Nor did he even care to be.
"It is my squad's name. I am their leader."
Hunter responded, rather proudly too. But seeing the confusion on the other man's face despite the helmet covering it. The position of the Mandalorian's head was a dead give away of what he was really thinking, especially to the highly intuitive Hunter. And it was hardly Hunter's first Mandalorian either. Having learnt to read them rather well. Similarly to how the clones behaved while helmeted.
Then something hit Hunter's brain, hard.
"Did you say, the New Republic?"
"Yes, the current regime. In power?"
Din glared confused at Hunter, not sure why he was asking. Perhaps he had sustained some kind of a head trauma, making him forget things.
Hunter was repent words now, but this was all so confusing to him. Making Hunter wonder if he really had hit his head harder than just the cut on his forehead he had realised he had.
"What new regime? The Empire is in power and most of the clones, work for them."
Hunter sounded adamant, but had left pointedly so out, that his squad was not working for the imps.
Din Djarin was quiet again. He seemed to be thinking of something then, for a moment before he spoke again. And when he did, he had stepped a few steps closer. Close enough to reach the spot where Hunter was still lying in a half upright position. The best Hunter could do for now. As it hurt really badly to move.
"Um…" Din paused again. "As far as I know, the clones have been not active for, well at least for the last… well ten, fifteen years or so."
Din could not sure if the man he had just found was babbling due to the now visible head injury or something else. As clearly, he was hurting from the crash landing Din had witnessed before having rushed over to the site to see what had happened and whether he could help the survivors.
Hunter glared at the Mandalorian. Not really sure whether Hunter had heard him correctly or not.
As surely to Hunter, how it had sounded like was - that the Mandalorian, Din Djarin as he was called, having had stated just now - that the clones had not been around for the past ten or fifteen years!?
Hunter was sure there was some error there and his hearing had been damaged on some level as had the rest of his body had. Whatever it was, it could not be right! As even if his own squad was not running amok around the known galaxy, surely the other clones working for the empire did. And well, it just sounded so totally off and odd. That the Mandalorian had not seen any clones around for, what fifteen years?
No! Deciding Hunter had definitely heard the man wrong and to ask him about it again.
But before he could, Hunter tried to move around a bit. Feeling rather stiff of being in the same position for such a long time. But as Hunter tried to turn, he fell flat on his stomach having lost all sense of his limbs. And before he could utter another word, Hunter felt the gentle hands of the Mandalorian around him. Helping and guiding Hunter up and into a more sitting position while leaning against the large rock which was sticking out of the sandy ground.
Was all Hunter managed to say to the Mandalorian. Feeling a tad embarrassed of the helplessness he was showing at this very moment. Not a comfortable or even desirable state to be in. Especially when in a strange place with a strange man. Not to mention hearing odd statements popping out of the stranger's mouth!
Din sounded like he was actually smiling. Again it seemed odd as clearly, the helmet of the man seemed to have its own moods as well.
"We have all been there and well, a little help never hurt anyone."
Din chuckled even then, which sounded rather nice in Hunter's ears.
"Only one's pride."
Hunter then stated flatly out loud. But, he to had to laugh a little as the situation was so absurd to him. And even now, he felt secure and safe around this utter and complete stranger. The Mandalorian knight in a rather shiny armour who had come to his rescue in the midst of a really bad and totally odd situation. Something which Hunter was totally grateful for.
"And guess I look a mess and you are not really catching me at my best either."
Hunter just had to put it out there, the reason still unclear to him. But, just in case Din had not noticed Hunter's own armour and all.
"But yeah, thanks again."
Hunter sounded like a broken holo record. Repeating his words. But Hunter was not feeling too good at the moment. And so, his mind was not in a good working order, very much like the rest of him was not.
Din then repeated also. And he was clearly smiling at Hunter. Not even trying to make Hunter feel bad or anything, rather the opposite.
"I have some water back in my speeder."
Din then said and looked at Hunter one more time. Debating whether he should go and get it or not and leave Hunter by himself. Deciding to validate it from the source then.
"You think you can manage by yourself for a short while I go pick it up and bring it here?"
"I think I can sit here for a moment by myself."
Hunter tried to move a little. But winced as the pain shot down his leg.
"But yeah, hurry back. Please."
Hunter said in a lesser voice trying to cope with the ache he had just caused to himself. A dumb move for sure. But now he knew better. The various injuries registering themselves to Hunter rather painfully. There would be definitely no moving about on his own, not soon anyway.
Din glanced at Hunter and clearly seeing the pain there, even if the man was trying to hide it. But Din had a med kit at the bike too. So he would bring that back and try to patch Hunter up as best as he could out here before taking Hunter back with him.
"Won't be but a moment."
And with those words Din was off.
Hunter was relieved, totally so. As clearly this Mandalorian would aid him rather than put Hunter out of his misery. And so, Hunter simply nodded, getting one in response from Din, as his new friend then gingerly left to get the speeder and the much needed drink for Hunter.
Thanking whatever deities were up there looking out for him, Hunter was glad there was some goodness still left in the galaxy. And in a form of this, rather shiny armoured Mandalorian warrior in the middle of a desert planet no less. Ready in taking care of the other wounded warriors who had crash landed in his backyard, figuratively speaking of course.
Hunter finally relaxed the best he could and waited for Din Djarin's return.
After all, Hunter was way too broken and hurting and thirsty to be moving any place else any time soon. So, the option of waiting patiently for his saving Samaritan was the only one available for the tough Bad Batcher.
But also, leaving Hunter with his currently messed up thoughts of what had happened to him. Really happened to him?
And as the words of the stranger, Din Djarin, came back to Hunter's mind once again. Hunter's mind trying to assess them carefully. Only raising several more questions to be answered, the situation coming more and more confusing each passing moment Hunter waited for Din to come back.
Out of place, out of time - feeling something?
Nothing like flying through the space time continuum and reaching one's future
"Did I hear you right? I mean earlier?"
Hunter needed to clarify his own status. If nothing else, then at least for himself at least. And so now, he needed validation for what he thought he had heard the Mandalorian say earlier. The words having stuck to the front of his mind. Just because the brief conversation had been, well, kind of weird.
"I thought I heard you say…" Hunter paused, thinking carefully about what he was about say.
"Um, fifteen years?"
Hunter was only hoping not to sound too batty because of what he was asking.
The number of years Din had referred to. Because Hunter might as well have hit his head despite the helmet protecting it. He did not feel dizzy though. Not too much anyway. He was also sipping from the mug which Din had so gracefully filled for him from the water canteen. Feeling the cool water soothing his sore and rusty throat somewhat. Being even able to speak properly now.
"When I said who I was I mean." Hunter clarified his meaning. "You now, earlier, when you found me?"
Hunter felt like explaining himself to a child now as the Mandalorian simply glared at him, with this head tilted. But it wasn't that of course, because Hunter knew the whole situation was totally karked up at best.
"Yes, that is what I said."
Din wasn't explaining himself further. As what was there to explain. The facts were facts. And as far as he knew, there were none too many clones around. Not where he had travelled anyway. But who knew? Perhaps they had all retired somewhere. Maybe even on a planet of their own? Din was privy to some of the clone legends of course. And well, there was Boba of course.
Hunter shot a wide eyed look at Din after his repose. It was a shock to hear this. But Hunter was in no shape or form to debate the matter. Nor was he really ready to ask more about the comment and what it meant for him personally. Feeling only a big headache coming on of the whole ordeal happening right now.
After Din had returned as promised, riding the speeder back to where Hunter had landed and was waiting for him. With the idea of bringing Hunter back to town with him. As Din was currently spending some time in Mos Eisley. Being currently in between gigs. Without any pressing matters to tend to, he had some time on his hand just to, well, hang and do whatever.
As it was, Din's son Grogu was back at the Jedi Academy for some additional training for a few months with his teacher, Master Luke. Well, Luke being kind of a surrogate father to the Kid too.
It was kind of lucky for Din too, finding a wounded stray in the desert, as Din had felt a tad bored with nothing really to occupy his time. Something which did not suit the Mandalorian, usually being on the road, doing, something. If not a gig, then on the prowl for one. But after getting Grogu on board, Din had slowed down and tried on the settled life for while. Still, it wasn't as fun being alone doing just that.
Having even tried helping Peli Motto out for a moment there too. Simply to fill his time with something. Well, it had ended rather quickly as the mechanic having thrown him out after a few days. As apparently, Din had started to cramp Peli's personal space. Go figure!
But now, out of the blue, here was someone, literally having fallen from the skies. And in need of help no less. Something of a blessing Din felt, even if if might not have looked so for Hunter.
After all, Hunter was hurt. And having lost his ship. As the craft had vanished into the quick sand in a blink of an eye. Literally. Din was giving kudos to Hunter for managing to get out of it so quickly despite his multiple injuries. Which had been no small feat to pull.
Din doubted there was a whole lot there to salvage anyway. Having witnessed the lading from a distance and even from there it had looked really, really bad. Surprised to even see a survivor crawling out of there.
Alas, Hunter was the one who had survived and now, Din was prepared to aid the man in anyway he could. Because Din did not mind that at all. As of now, he would have something to occupy his time with. And if it meant doing something good, like helping Hunter, then all the better. Despite the fact that Hunter was in a lot of pain as clearly, Hunter had been hurt worse than he was letting on. Then again, Din knew the type well. A soldier, pushing on no matter what. Something Din himself would do. So, who was he to judge!
As it was, Din knew someone with a bacta tank. So perhaps he could lend it for a moment for his new, friend?
But first things first. Which was to take care of the immediate wounds so that the two of them could ride back to town.
There Din could assess his new friend's situation better. And perhaps see a doctor as well. That was of course depending on whether Din's friend was on the run or not. After all, Hunter looked like a warrior, a soldier, in his fine armour. Claiming to be a clone? Well, Hunter had been alone in the small craft as far as Din knew. So, perhaps there was a bounty on him.
That all needed to be clarified before letting anyone have a wind of Hunter. Even a doctor. Din did not trust too many people after all. Even friends of friends no matter how much they vouched for them. But they could sort it all out once back in Mos Eisley. Right now, he needed to fix Hunter's wounds so they could ride back without him bleeding to death.
Din kept thinking also how he had already thought of this stranger as his friend, even if they had literally just met. But there was something familiar and trustworthy Dine felt emanating from this, what did Hunter call himself? A member of Clone Force, um 99? A Sergeant? So, military most definitely.
But hen there was the question Hunter had just asked. Making Din reel the words back once again in his thoughts. About the years having past, since, well, clones had been active.
Din glanced at Hunter one more time after having taken care of the two gaping wounds on Hunter's leg and arm. Luckily, the armour Hunter was wearing had protected most of the body though.
Touching the shell lightly then, Din wanted to feel what it was made of. Not Beskar of course, but something similar and durable as well. The good stuff, he thought to himself. The touch not having gone unnoticed by Hunter though, making Din flush a little. Luckily, his helmet covered a multitude of sins and this was certainly one of those.
Din tried to act all nonchalant as he looked up from his own handiwork. The wound patch job he had just done. After all, he had only touched the armour out of curiosity, right? Only hoping the other man would chucked it off as nothing. Because it had been, noting? Like said, curiosity of someone's armour?
Then again, Din usually did not go around touching someone else's cladding, armour or other. Well, not unless the moment called for it. Like undressing someone special, before… Well, this was certainly not that for kark's sake! This was helping a wounded man, person!
Din managed to calm himself enough to be able to speak again. And Din could already see Hunter perking up a bit after having gotten more water to drink and having given him some painkillers too right on the bat before staring to treat the injuries.
Hunter had of course heard the Din's question. But had yet to answer.
Hunter finally nodded contentedly to Din. Unable to give him a worldly repose. The touch of his armour felt all the way through his blacks even. Making Hunter think he had been imagining the whole incident. But it had felt warm and so, personal somehow and having sent a flush of sensations through his body. Even if Hunter doubted it was his condition and the meds causing that rather than a simple touch by someone.
Still, Hunter needed to control himself. His feelings, his sensations being all hyper alert now. Because it had all been innocent. One person helping the other. Nothing more, nothing less.
Taking another larger gulp of the water, which was quickly filling his mouth, then his throat. Letting it all wash and sooth his inner sides with the life saving balm it totally was.
Despite trying to act all cool and calm and slightly macho. Yeah that Hunter did - totally.
The harsh fact still remained. That Hunter had been injured and badly so. But also, that Hunter kind of liked being taken care of. Especially by the gentle hands of this man he had only just met.
A kind of a new sensation for the man it was, as usually, Hunter did not even like the medical droids treating him. Nobody took care of Hunter, because Hunter cared for others. He was the leader and so, he did not get hurt.
Even if it was a flat on lie, Hunter rarely admitted being injured, always belittling whatever he went through with it being nothing. And taking care of his injuries when no one was looking.
Then again, Hunter was no stranger to the touches of others, mainly those of his batch. But it had been a while, as there had been some tension between them. Some time before the mission, which had caused Hunter to crash his vessel.
Hunter did not want to think about that now tough. Simply concentration on the moment at hand. And the fact that he was in a bad condition and was being treated of the same.
But, Hunter could not help thinking about how this was all different. Much more personal in a way Hunted could not easily specify. And even now, Hunter felt totally safe and secure with this elusive Mandalorian. Even if he knew nothing about Din.
Leaning back to the rock he had been set against, more relaxed now and the patch work keeping the wounds in check, for now. Hunter really felt so much better than only moments ago.
Din seated himself beside Hunter. Knowing it would take a few moments for the painkillers to kick in. And only then did Din feel good about trying to help Hunter up and onto the speeder.
Din was still reeling on Hunter's question though. About the time having passed. Somehow, the time laps seemed to be the odd thing out from this, whole ordeal, the crash landing, finding a supposed clone, Hunter. But Din could not put his finger on what it was that bothered him about it
There was a moment of comfortable silence passing between them.
Hunter letting the medicine take its time, not bothering to talk, as neither did Din.
Din albeit vigilantly observing Hunter's status, was still thinking about the question of Hunters and all the odd mismatched pieces of this whole incident.
Another moment passed and Hunter looked like he was about to nod off. Din didn't mind spending time out in the desert, but he was worried of Hunter and falling asleep, was not all good. Not here out in the open desert with danger lurking about around every corner.
Din nudged Hunter ever so gently.
Hunter was immediately alert. Something inherit of him for sure.
"It' fine. Just checking you are still with me."
"Sorry!" Hunter sounded half embarrassed. "I guess the meds are kicking in."
"It' fine." Din assured him. "But we need to get moving soon enough." Din interjected then. "If you are up to it."
Hunter made an internal inventory, feeling less pain but more drowsy, knowing Din was right. That they needed to move to some place safe. Before finally responding.
Alas Hunter did not move. So, Din decided to give him a few more before trying again. They once again sank into the silence. Hunter clearly nodding off, but Din letting him have the moment, keeping an eye on Hunter's vitals though. Just in case.
Din was still thinking about the whole situation. How he had managed to be in the right place at the right time. To be there for Hunter. Surely, not out of luck? Guess it was like Master Luke often stated. That the Force worked in mysterious ways. Din was thinking it must have been really that, as he really had not much belief in luck either. But, whatever it was causing Din to go to the part of the desert just then? Well, he really did not have a more better answer for it either.
Then there were a few unanswered questions still bothering Din.
Like the fact that this man, Hunter, had mentioned the clones. But also, Hunter had seemingly dropped out of the sky without any warning there ever being a craft incoming. Until it was there. As if having appeared out of thin air and then crashing because of that. Because it had all happened too fast. At least what Din knew of the laws of physics.
There were a few scenarios Din could think of. Mostly bizarre, but not unheard of. As there had been a few stories going around Din had heard of. Whether they were true or not, that was a whole other matter.
So, deciding to be blunt but honest and ask what he wanted to know to form his final hypothesis. Or rather validate his existing suspicions as that was what they were, nothing concrete. Surely, not the most sane ones, but not impossible either. According to the stories at least.
Hunter seemed like a clear headed person and not someone who had possibly ran off from some institution or something similar. Definitely not being able to steal a small vessel if he was a runaway. At least Din did not think he was. So, about the questionsstill rattling around in Din's mind?
Din looked at Hunter and then decided to counter the question as Hunter seemed to have come to of his own accord. But first checking if he was all there.
"I am, thanks!"
Hunter sounded better now, more coherent even. Guess the brief nap and the meds were doing the world of good for the man. And rather quickly too, much to Din's surprise. Then again, some people did heal quicker than others, so, there was that to consider.
Din nodded only. But then, with some hesitation, decided to spring the question on Hunter as he seemed lucid enough now.
"What year is it?"
Din then waited patiently. Seeing how this question made an impact on the other man. Knowing on some level, that he was indeed on the right track of figuring out. About whom Hunter really was and also to the why of having mentioned the clones. Having sounded rather confused when Din had told Hunter the simple facts.
A topic which had long since been buried in the proverbial sands of the galaxy. Like the wars, the Empire, the rebellion, death stars, the lot, among all those kinds of things.
Hunter repeated the words as if he did not understand the meaning of the words. Not really fully understanding what Din was asking of him. It should have been simple enough. Right?
But then again, Hunter had also asked the almost same question himself, now hadn't he?Almost, even if the content had been different. But yes, it was the same thing. And Hunter had to admit, that it had been odd to hear the comments from Din when they had introduced themselves to each other.
Din's response was simple and short. His eyes, his visor directed at Hunter now.
Hunter seemed to be thinking as to what to respond for a moment. After all, it was a totally odd question to ask someone. But decided to reply just for the heck of it. See where this was all leading to. After all there had to be some reason for the query, right?
So, clearing his throat, Hunter gave Din his answer.
"Nineteen BBY. According to the galactic standard calendar."
Din was silent for a long moment. Unmoving even. Which slightly worried Hunter. Had he said something wrong? It was a simple question after all.
But for Din, it now seemed that the impossible answer given by his new friend had kind of validated the out of the galaxy theory Din had been forming. As absurd as it had sounded even in his own head before asking the very question from Hunter.
And so what remained to be said. Honesty being the policy and all, was to tell Hunter the plain truth, as odd and most likely painful as it might just have been for Hunter to hear. Quite imaginable as a matter of fact, as Din had no basis to compare it to for himself. It was a very way out there kind of a situation to be in.
"The year is nine ABY. Meaning almost thirty years off from what you think the year is."
The look on Hunter's face was something else then. Nothing really easily described as Din watched him react to the news. Hunter did not seem to doubt Din's words on this matter though. But, he was clearly, not taking it well either. As the confusion on his handsome face was readable to anyone watching.
The silence fell upon the two once again. Only this time it was anything but comfortable. For either of them.
Hunter's voice was hushed, a low whisper as he repeated the very fact, which his new friend had told him just moments ago.
Hunter said again. This time more loudly. As if sounding out the words on his tongue would make it easier for him to understand them.
But it was still a more of a question than a statement of fact or even acknowledgement of the same. Hunter still had a doubt present in his voice as he repeated the words. Looking up and right at Din knew he had to asked the question that most likely the Mandalorian would not have an answer to.
Hunter paused, his eyes darting every which way, still feeling very, very confused.
"I was just in my ship. Flying back home after a mission. In hyper space and then, something happened causing the ship to be thrown out of it. And then, I crashed here."
Hunter glanced around, seeing mostly sand around them. And the ship? Well, what was left of it was mostly buried in the sand now.
Hunter felt nauseous. And not because of his injuries either, but from the simple fact that he was not home. Not as he knew it anyway. But in a strange new world. And not in his own time. Rather thirty years had passed him by. Somehow.
Was the only question Hunter managed to utter after the shock of hearing what really had happened to him finally settled in. As it had to be the truth. Right?
"I am telling you the truth."
Din assured Hunter in the most honest sounding timbre he could muster. Because why would Din lie about such a thing. What could have been a possible motive for Din to make this up?
"If indeed you are from the past, then for whatever reason you came through time. Some thirty years to be exact. And in an instant in that hyper space window judging from what you experienced out there."
The specifics were still fuzzy, but it all added up. The sudden crash of a ship appearing from out of nowhere.
As clearly Hunter had flown through some thing. And that thing, whatever it had been had caused the craft to malfunction, fly out of time it self and then crash on this planet. Well, it was thirty years later for Hunter as strange as it might have sounded.
But the stories Din had heard, had been related to hyper space travel causing such incidents. So, it was an entirely plausible explanation as any.
Hunter was not sure whether to believe what he was hearing. After all, he was still in a state of confusion, even denial. If things indeed were as the Mandalorian had stated. The year being some thirty years after the day Hunter had been en route back to their home base. His team, the Bad Batch, all of them waiting for his return?
And now? Well, what of now?
Was the galaxy still fighting or was the war over? What had happened to his team? What of Omega? What of the others? What of himself? How did he fit in the new age after all this time?
Too many questions running rampant in Hunter's mind at the very moment. Making his head ache again.
As it was, he, Hunter, was a man, a soldier, a clone, out of place, out of time.
This was not his time after all. And if things had indeed changed as radically as Din had told him during the elapsed time? Even if it had only been a few hours for Hunter. Then what could he do? What was there for Hunter to even do in this new world and new age?
The Mandalorian, was still as Hunter remembered them as from his time, clad in beskar armour.
But why be out here? Why in the middle of the desert? Should he not be back on Mandalore? His home world?
The too many questions rattling in Hunter's mind and none of them having easy answers. At least, he did not think there would be any good answers forthcoming any time soon.
But, there was one thing Hunter knew he should do. And that was to take the word of Din Djarin to his heart. Trusting the man was telling Hunter as the truth. As to the why? Well, Hunter trusted his senses, his gut feeling on this, having been most likely right from the first moment they had met. That Hunter could put his trust in Din.
As it was now, Hunter was all alone in a strange new world and a strange new time. And this man, Din Djarin, had freely helped him. Seemingly quite trustworthy too. Which was the sense Hunter was getting from Din and those senses had yet to fail him. So, going forward, as he really had to, Hunter needed someone he could trust. And that one was Din.
"I believe you." Hunter finally told Din. "As why would you tell me such lies?"
Hunter added even if he knew already, that the Mandalorian was in earnest. Again, the gut feelings and all that.
Din was out of sorts of this whole incident as well. After all, this was his first time traveller encounter. And doubted Hunter had ever experienced anything like it either.
"And you are right, why would I lie to you. It's not that I would gain anything from it." Din simply said. "Besides, believe it or not, I find this while situation as confusing as you do." Din then smiled a bit, even if the smile was covered under his helmet. "And you, Hunter, are my first time traveller."
Hunter had to laugh at that comment. As it was all too surreal, absurd even. But Din cracking this joke? Well, that was so good to hear and apparently what Hunter had needed too. Something to lighten the mood. As it was truly an odd place for both of them to be in.
"Well, it is a first one for me as well." Hunter then said somewhat coyly. "I did not even know those things were possible."
Din nodded and said. "Yeah, guess anything is possible these days, even if one does not think it could happen to themselves."
After a moment of silence, Din stood up indicating Hunter it was time to get up and hit the road back to Mos Eisley. As it was, they had some way to go and morning was nowhere near in breaking.
"We should go. The night is not a safe time to be stuck on the sand desert."
Din then leaned down and put his arm around Hunter's torso in efforts to help the man up and in a standing position. Trying to be as gentle as possible, avoiding touching the many wounds, but still trying to pull Hunter up. Not an easy feat.
"You can lean on me."
Managing to get Hunter up after some effort and when Din was sure Hunter could stand, he started slowly walking the two of them towards the speeder.
As they reached the vehicle, Din glanced at Hunter's face, seeing the painful expression there once again.
"Do you think you can manage to sit at the back?"
Not really having full knowledge of how much pain Hunter was really in at this point. But it could not be helped. They needed to get going.
Hunter decided. As despite the pain, he did not want to remain in the desert a moment longer.
Din simply said and then, aided Hunter up on the speeder with some difficulty. But managing to manoeuvre the man into the seat. Making sure Hunter was seated properly, Din stepped on the speeder himself. Before Din turned the engine on, he glanced over his shoulder and spoke to Hunter.
"Hold on tightly."
Hunter did as ordered. Putting his good arm around Din as the engines revved to life and the two of them took off to a destination still unknown to Hunter. But Hunter was now fully aware that this was the place or rather time he would most likely remain in. And so, looking forward to finding out more, even if he was still internally in conflict with the hole time travel scenario. And the very fact, that his family, was lost to him.
Everyone hates physical check-ups, right?
New friends, new vistas - it might not be home, but sometimes, it is all that is needed to be on the mend
Din turned off the rather loud engine having arrived at the small house he was renting while staying planet side. Din had made Tatooine his base of operations for the time being. As he really liked the place. Lots of sand and sunshine, never a boring time! Well, most of the time anyway. Din had friends in several Mos' there too. And it was a location easily accessible to most places in the galaxy. At least for Din it was.
The house might have been a tad on the small side, but it had most of the creature comforts Din needed and even a spare room. The rent was low. And so, after not really feeling like taking on more bounty hunting jobs, Din was happy enough to stay put for now. Even if after a while, Din had started feeling somewhat bored of not having too much to do.
That being mostly because Peli had kicked him out of her workshop. And it did not help that Cobb, Boba and Fennec were out there somewhere doing their own things. Things which Din could not be bothered in participating. Well, they had not asked. But Din knew if they needed something from him, they most likely would call him up.
Boba had asked Din to hang out back at the Palace at some point. But after a few days spent there, Din had found it not something he was into. Too many people and all that. But now, thanks to the crash landing made by this, well new friend, Din would have something useful to do. Even if it was rather unfortunate for Hunter of course. Being out of his own time and all. Something they still had to figure out. But, Din felt glad he had someone to look after now that Grogu was out for a while.
Din had realised early on, that after Grogu had left for the Jedi Academy for a few months, he was completely out of things to do. As taking care of the Kid was a full time job as it had turned out for this somewhat recent father.
Din wasn't complaining though as he found it highly rewarding and satisfying too.
Having only found the more nurturing side of himself in the recent years ever since Grogu had popped up in his life. But the Kid was growing and out here doing his own thing now. Leaving poor ol' dad to his own devices. And so now, Din had at least something to do for a while.
As it was, Din had figured Hunter needed all the help he could get. First to get well enough from his injuries. And then? Well, there was still the question of whether it was really a time jump the man had made or then if there was a more serious head injury going on. Making Hunter somewhat delusional in the process?
Din decided to call in a doctor as soon as they were settled in the house.
As it was, Din had made a few other friends as well while hanging out on the planet longer periods of time and doing favours for people. One of them being a doctor. Well, at least the alien had the title of a doctor, even if they might not have actually been a licensed one. But as far as Din had understood, a lot of citizens were going to see them for ailments and such. And trusting in that fact as far as any doctor went really. As Din was not a big fan of said profession himself.
So, Din made a mental note to call up the doctor as soon as he had helped Hunter in and getting settled in the spare room.
Din aided Hunter off the speeder bike as the path to the house across the desert had been somewhat longer time wise, Din having ridden in a much slower speed than he would have preferred. Being afraid that Hunter might fall off it as he was in a bad state still. That much was sure.
As Din looked over the man, he could see how pale Hunter's face was. The blood loss alone could have caused it but there might be other injuries which Din had not detected as he did not have a medical scanner in his arsenal.
Getting inside the house and the room in the back, Din had supported Hunter all the way and placed the semi conscious man on the bed. Din fluffed up the pillows and then guided Hunter to lie down.
Din's voice had a worried timbre present, because of Hunter's condition having deteriorated over the ride back. Din tried to be as careful with the injured parts as possible while aiding Hunter though. Hoping only the doctor could get there soon enough.
"I am, thank you."
Hunter managed. Feeling the pain coming back again with gusto, being much louder and angrier this time around. With the nausea an immediate to follow.
Not really believing that was the case, as Hunter's facial expressions were telling another story for the Mandalorian. But there was nothing more Din could do for Hunter at the moment, as he had only the basic med kit available with low level pain killers in it. Din needed to call the doctor immediately.
"Do you think you can manage for a while alone? When I call the doctor to come and take a look at you?"
Din wasn't sure though, if he should leave Hunter unintended even for a moment, the mother hen in him kicking in. Then again, Hunter was an adult and he was stationary on the bed for now at least.
Hunter could only nod his response as at this point. At the very moment feeling rather sickly to stay the least, Hunter really did not care who it was taking a look at his injuries. As clearly, first aid had not done the trick and he was pretty sure there was internal bleeding happening inside of him.
"Good! Then, well, hang in there bud! I will be right back after I make the call."
Din took one more glance at Hunter before daring to leave him and move into the front room where the holo communicator device was set up. As it was not portable and so, not movable either. But, having to leave Hunter for the moment even to do just to make the call, made Din worry just the same.
Din made his way quickly to the front of the house.
Placing the call to Doctor Mandible, the insectoid doctor Din had become acquainted with. Din got through rather quickly and after some haggling, manage to convince the doctor to make a house call. Not that they had far to go as the good doctor lived only a few blocks away. But as it was evening already Doctor Mandible liked to get to the local bar for the card games they were hooked up on.
After finishing the call, Din picked up some water and some edibles and went back to the spare room. Din found Hunter still in the same position as he had left him.
Placing the food and drink on the side table Din turned on the small lamp there. He then glanced over and could see how pale Hunter was now.
But Hunter was still conscious and had opened his eyes as soon as Din entered the room.
Din felt his forehead and it was slightly warmer than it should have been. Hunter did not respond to the tactile contact, rather tried to concentrate on his breathing as the pain was off the scales.
"That bad huh?"
Din could se it however as it was written all over Hunter's stance. Knowing well the feeling having been in the same position himself a few times too often.
Hunter nodded only as speaking wasn't an option at the moment.
"The Doc should be here in a moment. They will make you feel better, I promise you."
Patting Hunter's shoulder gently on the comment. As Din was sure the good Doctor could patch Hunter up real good. They had the medical devices needed to check for internal damage as well. Having seen the Doc in action a few times before, Din trusted Doc Mandible, real doctor or not.
Hunter did not respond as before.
But for some reason, the soothing voice of his good Samaritan was assuring, calming even. And with those thoughts, Hunter let himself slip off to a light slumber as the pain was getting too much to handle and his body was giving up, just a little. It was something Hunter had done before while badly injured. Trying to sleep it off as it was. Hunter felt safe now, with this Mandalorian. Even if he was completely at the other man's mercy. But, for whatever unintelligible reason, Hunter trusted Din Djarin. His sixth sense was telling him he was safe with the man. And so, Hunter dozed off while waiting for the Doctor to arrive.
Din put a blanket on Hunter as he seemed to be shivering. Din then sat down beside Hunter's bed while waiting for the doctor to arrive. Soon, he hoped too.
Doc Mandible had arrived and was checking their patient.
Speaking in the insectoid language, which was a tad hard for Din to understand without a translator. But he was getting the gist of what Mandible was saying. After all, the Doctor had one thing to do. Which was to scan Hunter, assess his status and then patch him up as best as possible and give him better meds than Din had to offer to relieve the pain.
So, working on the patient, the two really did not converse much. Rather Din was letting the good Doctor work in peace and do their thing while he himself remained in the sidelines. Observing closely as to what Mandible was doing. Hunter on the other hand was mostly oblivious to the goings on around him as he was falling in and out of consciousness. The pain having overtaken his abilities of staying alert and vigilant. So, being out of it all was Hunter's current status.
Something of a blessing Din thought as clearly, the man had been in a lot of pain.
But now, Din was hopeful that the Doc would be able to see what was wrong and make sure there would be nothing missed. If Doctor Mandible was able to patch Hunter up, then the healing process could begin. At least Din was hopeful it to be the case.
After all, Din was kind of taken by this mysterious man from the past. Something of an enigma Hunter seemed to be. And Din was about to find out as to whom Hunter really was.
Din kept on taking glances as the Doctor's pad seeing what scans they were making and if there were any signs of trouble there. Din wanted to make sure Hunter would be treated the best way possible and that he would make it too. Feeling rather protective of this man from the past as well Din was.
The examination did not take too long. In real time at least, even if Din had felt differently. After clearly extensive medical scans and then, placing new and better bandages on Hunter, Dr Mandible then injected Hunter with a potent dose of medicine. As they had finished the Doctor turned to Din.
In the insectoid language they quickly explained what they had found and what they had done. At the same time pointing at the data pad letting Din read what was there, now translated into galactic standard as to what had been found.
Din took a long and hard look at the pad. Understanding some half of it as it was mostly medical jargon in any language to be read. But the pictures of Hunter's internal scans were highly depictive and from what Din saw, he was only too relieved to find out that there were no internal injuries part from two bruised ribs. Which were most likely the cause of pain adding to the open wounds and the shock from the crash landing. Luckily there were no head injuries either and so, the Doctor concluded their examination of their patient.
Handing Din the additional medicine to be applied at certain intervals they then assured Din, the patient would recover in a few days with much rest included in the regime.
"Thank you Doctor Mandible."
Din sounded relieved as the Doctor was ready to leave. After all, they were already late for their game night at the Cantina.
The Doc then wished in somewhat broken standard but it was nice to hear it just the same. And so, with the doctor gone, Din was left alone with Hunter.
Din glanced at Hunter once again. Something he was doing a lot. But Hunter was his responsibility and Din was not about to let Hunter die. Not on his watch!
Seeing that Hunter was still unconscious, but looking more at ease. Hunter had clearly relaxed after the treatment and was now sleeping on his back. As Clearly the injection the Doctor had given him was working.
Din the nodded to himself satisfied now, only too glad the whole ordeal had turned out better than he had originally thought. Because the situation had looked really bad, from the get go. Staring with the crash landing Din had witnessed.
Din looked at the man sleeping on the bed and then pulled the blanket back up over Hunter as the Doctor had removed it while examining him.
As Din was close to Hunter's face, he traced the features with his eyes, seeing the interesting looking facial art there. And after a moment longer, something familiar peeked through in Hunter's features.
Din could not be sure, but there was something about Hunter's features. As if Din knew him from somewhere. But from where was uncertain.
But then again, how could Din know Hunter? As Din was pretty sure that if the story held, that of Hunter indeed being from the past. And Din had to believed that was the case now, as there was no head injuries sustained for Hunter. And the man had been adamant of the year he was in and well. Lots of things really made Din believe Hunter was from the past.
And so with those facts in mind, Din could not have met Hunter before.
But there was something familiar about Hunter Din could not shake.
Still, before he could even ask what it could be, Hunter needed to rest. And besides, Din had been out there in the desert all day himself and felt the fatigue catching up with himself as well.
Deciding it was time for some nourishment, debating for a moment whether to leave Hunter alone or not. But seeing that Hunter was indeed fast asleep now and that there was no danger for him in Din's home.
So, after one final glance, Din left Hunter sleeping in peace. But left the door open to the spare room, just in case.
Din then went to the small kitchen area of the house and prepared a small dinner for himself. Sitting down by the table and removing his helmet Din started eating. But constantly keeping an eye on the sleeping man in the next room. Din knew, he would not sleep well after eating so late. So, he was about to stay watch in Hunter's room on the recliner for the rest of the night.
Just in case, as he told himself.
After completing the meal, Din put the dishes away and then quickly went back to his own bedroom, removing the armour. He debated on the helmet for a moment. As he usually only took it off while at home by himself. Or with Grogu or Luke around.
Besides, it wasn't like Din was following the strict regimen of the Children of the Watch any more. Especially not since having had issues with the Armourer after her having found out that Din had been removing his helmet on a few occasions in front of others. Something which could not have been helped and so, having kind of been shunned by the small group remaining? Well, Din had pretty much made his own choices after that. Being rather at ease with his decisions as well.
So, deciding to leave the helmet behind as well. Tiptoeing in his under garment to the spare room.
Before taking his position on the chair, Din checked on Hunter one more time. Making sure there had been no change in the past hour. And as there was none, Din then sat down and leaned into a comfortable position the large chair. All the time keeping an eye on his patient. Until Din felt the sleep world calling to him, slowly but surely falling into a light slumber himself.
From nightmarish dreams to feeling better
Someone to watch over - it truly is a nice place to be in, all safe and secure from the outside world
Hunter woke up with a start.
His breathing was heavy and heart beating like a fast paced drum solo. He had been sweating too. Most likely due to the fear still very much present in his groggy mind. It was still dark in the room and Hunter felt cold. The blanket he had been tucked in had fallen off during his sleep.
Hunter had been dreaming though, which had caused him to turn and most likely shed his cover in the process. The dreams had not been pleasant, at all.
Hunter remembered having been trapped somewhere he did not recognise and seeing people he had never seen before. It had been hostile territory and none of the people there had been likeable at all. Not at least as far as Hunter remembered.
Hunter had felt anxiety and fear even, something he usually did not.
But the more he remembered of that dream, Hunter knew that all those sensations had been a constant in the dream. Hunter remembered having been running. Hard. Trying to get away from them all and from the place he had felt unwelcoming. But no matter how hard he had tried to get away, even charter a ship to do just that, he could not. Hunter seemed to have been trapped in the place.
But, now as he had woken up, the dream slowly but surely dissipating, the bad feelings and sensations were fading away. His breathing was getting more and more even each passing moment. Hunter had managed to calm himself down from whatever anxiety he had felt before.
Hunter then drew back on the blanket which had bunched on the side, over himself and immediately felt warmer. Even more secure now that he was tucked in again. Hunter was vaguely reminded of something he should have known. But he could not remember of what it was. His memories fuzzy still after having woken up suddenly.
As it was still dark, Hunter could not really see anything in the room. But all of his senses were heightened to the max, which usually happened when in the dark or when he was afraid. As his own functions settled to a low hum, Hunter started to listen in to the sounds of the room. What he could hear then, surprised him somewhat.
There was another person in the room with him, breathing evenly and snoring slightly.
Hunter tried to think back as to where he was and how he had ended up sleeping in this dark room. As Hunter turned to his side, he felt something there. A slight twinge, immediately identifying what it was. A wound. Then, it all started coming back to him slowly but surely.
The dream which had been quite vivid and scary had reflected some of the set of mind Hunter was in now. As it was, the memory of the crash landing came back to him. And also, the rescue.
The stranger. No, the Mandalorian, Din Djarin, who had willingly helped him. Patched Hunter up and then, brought Hunter to safety. This place, was it. Hunter felt a little bit better even if he had endured the nightmare. But, it was indication to Hunter not yet having processed what he had been through.
As it was, it had not been a simple crash landing at all. Rather, a passage through time and space as well. As Hunter was now reminded of. Having had come through some thirty years into the future. At least, according to his new friend. Something still incomprehensible to Hunter.
The same friend, whom was most likely even now present in the room. Sleeping right there, close enough to touch. But still so far away. Still, it felt good to have someone else close by, in this strange new world.
It had been Din Djarin who had put the blanket on him earlier as well, Hunter's was reminded of the memory even if he had been rather out of it then. It was a nice and comforting gesture on Din's part, making Hunter appreciate the man even further.
As Hunter further reeled the happenings of it all in his mind, he knew what had happened to him to be true. All of it.
And now, Hunter was a misplaced person in a time not his own. On a strange planet with a, thankfully friendly saviour. It had also been the reason for his nightmare. The underlying fear of his status.
Still, it could have been so much worse for Hunter. He could have died in the crash.
After some further thought to the whys and ifs, Hunter decided it was the fact for him now. Being in the future. His future and whether or not there was a way back? Well, that remained to be seen. But for now, Hunter was here and if he could not leave? Well, he simply needed to adapt to this, new life. Even if it would not be easy. At all.
And perhaps, Hunter could try to track down his old squad, his family?
Thirty years was not that long a time after all. Was it?
And they could all still be alive. At least Hunter could hope they were. And it was something to look forward to in this otherwise unwanted situation he was in now. Otherwise, he would feel the loss more gravely than he wanted to. The hope rather than the defeat. Of never seeing them again. So, this was the premise he was going with. At least, for now he would.
And luckily for him, as it seemed, he had only sustained a few injuries, as the pain was currently manageable and his head was not hurting either. And if his memory served him, Din Djarin had promised to call in a doctor to check him up too. So, Hunter guessed he was alright, for now at least.
As it was clearly in the middle of the night. The two moons peaking through the small windows of the room, Hunter decided it was best to continue his rest. The simple truth was that he would not get any further with his thoughts and the unanswered questions on his own. No, he needed to talk to someone. And that someone was the Mandalorian who had come to Hunter's rescue.
And so, with the comforting thought of the next day being yet another day he would be alive, with thanks to his new friend. And then, Hunter could at least confirm with his host that things were as Hunter had remembered them to be.
Feeling a tad fuzzy still, most likely due to the pain medicine he had received earlier, combined with his injuries and the overall trip through time. Well, perhaps sleep was the best answer after all. Finding the most comfortable position he could muster in his condition, Hunter concentrated on listening to the breathing of the other man in the room. And soon enough, sleep consumed Hunter once again. Only this time around, he did not dream. Rather slept more peacefully than he had in a while.
Hunter heard the now familiar voice somewhere above him. Slowly pulling him back to the real world after having slept rather heavily during the night. At least it felt like he had been in a real deep sleep.
As Hunter opened his eyes, he could see not the excepted Mandalorian helmet rather the face of a man. A face Hunter knew belonged to Din Djarin as the voice was the same.
Stunned to see him. But still rather pleased too, as Hunter could easily appreciate a good looking face being a tad on the scruffy side. With the unshaved beard but the most disarming smile present there as well. Clearly, the man had slept well as being this perky and nice in the early morning hours. At least Hunter assumed it was morning.
"Better, thank you!"
Hunter finally found his voice after staring perhaps a tad too long at the Mandalorian even if he could blame it all on the injury and meds still having an effect on him.
Din smiled even wider as clearly, his patient was already much better than the night before. Which was really great news.
"Good, I am glad to hear that."
Din then turned to the small table beside the bed nodding towards the tray there.
"I have made you some breakfast."
Hunter could smell the food and the caf on the tray. And at that same moment his stomach growled in a complaint telling his master it was hungry and time to feed it. It had been a while since he had eaten anything at all, some thirty years to be exact.
And it was kind of Din to make him a meal too. Hunter tried to sit up in the bed, but immediately the pain from his leg shot up like a knife being ground in there. Hunter could not help the grimace forming on his face.
Din was immediately alerted and rushed to Hunter's aid. Putting his arms around Hunter Din managed gently and without any hassle at all pull the other man into a seating position. He had some muscle in him, clearly.
Hunter said feeling like a baby being pampered at the moment. But it seemed that no matter how good he had felt a moment ago, Hunter had suffered grave injuries and had to deal with that fact. Even if it meant the other man needed to help him move about. Hunter apologised for being such a nuisance.
Din only smiled and eased the other man.
"No need. We have all been there! Shot, stabbed, even fallen down from a Java Mobile!"
Laughing a tad then, assuring Hunter it was no trouble at all.
"So no worries. I am only too glad to help out."
Hunter simply nodded as he was totally happy to have been so lucky, having run into Din during his, well incident. And now being pampered like this? Well it was kind of nice too Hunter admitted as much.
"Guess there were worse injuries than I originally thought?"
Hunter of course had no recollection of the happenings after Din had brought him to his home. Had the doctor come to check him out after all?
"The Doc said you have a few bruised ribs in addition to the two large wounds." Din explained then. "The Doc gave you a potent shot and as I was falling asleep, you were deep in there too."
Din smiled at Hunter. Seeing the surprise in there written on Hunter's face.
"Well, good to hear it wasn't worse than that at least."
Because it could have been so much worse than that. Especially after the bad crash landing.
Hunter sat there for a moment, looking at nothing in particular.
But he had not started eating even if he had seemed rather eager to do so. Which again got Din worried. He looked at the man's profile, admiring the large size tattoo there, the long hair and how shiny and in place it seemed to be even after the ordeal Hunter had gone through.
Din placed a hand on Hunter's upper thigh to catch his attention, the man slightly jumping from the soft contact.
"Sorry, but the caf is getting cold."
Din apologised for startling Hunter. A faint smile on his face. Something Din seemed to be doing a lot of lately. Smiling.
Hunter smiled as well. Even if he had been surprised of the contact. It had not bothered him at all, quite the contrary. But Din was right. He needed to eat and the caf did smell delicious.
Hunter took a sip from the cup and felt the dark and hot liquid assaulting his senses as the caf filled his mouth. He then let it slide down his throat, letting it wash away the sleep.
As even now, even if Hunter felt all better. At least more so than after making out from the craft after the crash. But Hunter was still tired. Still, if he could eat at least some of the delicious looking food his host had so generously prepared for him. Then maybe he would manage to get up from the bed. After all, Hunter could not very well sleep all day long. No matter how badly the fatigue from the injuries held him hostage. Right?
Din observed Hunter as he ate the food and and drank the caf.
Din was only too happy to see his guest in a better shape than when Din had found him smack middle of the desert with no sense of where or even when he was. But now at least, after the Doc's check-up and the pain killers Hunter had gotten, plus the sleep, Hunter was clearly on the mend. Thankfully!
Din had already gotten a hardy bite for himself earlier and filled his stomach with the caf before preparing Hunter's breakfast. Din was surprisingly well rested himself too. And as of now, ready, willing and able to cater the man he had rescued the day before.
Hunter had managed to eat most of the offerings on the plate, feeling rather full afterwards too. But it was quite delicious. And so washing it all down with the last of the caf, Hunter felt rather good.
Putting the plate and mug back on the nightstand next to the bed, Hunter then turned to his graceful host.
"Thank you! That was really good."
Hunter managed a smile even, as clearly, Din had been observing him eat. Most likely waiting only to see if Hunter would eat properly. At least that was what Hunter assumed as why else was Din keeping an eye on him constantly.
Din then smiled right back at Hunter.
"I was glad you could eat. As usually, for me at least, those hefty meds the Doc gave you, makes me feel nausea."
It was the truth as not one just one occasion having been mauled rather badly, Din had gotten some hardcore pain killers and then not been able to eat for a few days because of their affect.
Hunter knew he had read a little too much to the Mandalorian's attentiveness. Clearly, this was simply a good man helping someone in distress.
The looks and glances and even the slight touch had simply been out of concern and nothing more.
Well, you cannot win them all now can you. Hunter thought to himself then. No matter how cute they might just be.
So, deciding to let all other feelings go, as Hunter was a guest after all. In a strange land and an even stranger time. And not wanting to upset the status quo between the two of them.
"It was quite good and it has been a while since my last meal." Hunter paused and added then. "I usually have a stomach of steel and can tolerate pretty much anything."
Hunter was not yet ready to reveal his altered clone physique. As even if Din had been good to him so far, it was not something Hunter advertised to just anyone anyway. Not that Din was just anyone and there was an eerie trust Hunter still felt for the Mandalorian.
But, Hunter's soldier instincts always kept him on his very toes. And so, this time it was no different. No matter how much Hunter might have trusted Din. He would wait.
Getting comfortable while settling into a new routine
'A visitor in a new place, alas, being greeted by a friendly face, helping to cope with the strangeness there to be found, soon finding footing on a more familiar ground'
The few days of being the honoured guest of the Mandalorian, Din Djarin, had been pleasant for Hunter.
Even if the time passed having been more on the uneventful side, neither seemed to mind. But then again, having not excepted any kinds of happenings, good or bad, to emerge, having stayed mostly in the safety of the house. Well, Hunter had, even if Din had run a few errants of his own, never staying out long though.
The fearless Clone Force 99 leader, Sergeant Hunter, still very much recuperation from his many injuries.
Din had played the part of the host rather admirably. Keeping his patient fed, comfortable and administering the meds whenever Hunter seemed to be needing them, albeit following the doctor ordered routine to the letter. Changing the few bacta patches during regular intervals was also part of the nursing routine Din had taken on himself.
All and all, it had been a perfect arrangement for both of them as Hunter was somewhat out of it still. And Din certainly loved to be the caretaker now that this son was away for the moment. Having had his hands full with the youngling and now, being able to fuss over Hunter - what fun!
Having Hunter under his roof had certainly been a win win situation for Din. Especially now that Hunter was starting to heal. The moments where Hunter had actually been awake and lucid, the two of them had managed to get some chatting going on between them. Mostly about nothing specific, simply general talk really, having decided that the time for hard talk would have to wait until such time Hunter was up to par.
Just the same. Din loved playing the gracious host.
There were several bonuses in Din's mind having Hunter around. One being not being by himself any more as Din had felt lonely due to Grogu's absence. Then there was the fact that Din found Hunter rather attractive on several levels. The kind of a warrior type he himself admired. Hunter being somewhat reminiscent of himself too, even if Hunter might have been from another era.
Not that very fact had been proven quite yet. Hunter being from the past. Not really.
But there was something about Hunter, which made Din think the man had really traveled thirty odd years from the past and arrived to Din's time in a blink of an eye, as it had seemed from Hunter's point of view. Some of the things Hunter had already mentioned and questioned being on the top of the list of suspects. Hunter's sudden appearance out of practically nowhere raising all the right flags.
Because in this time, the present…
All the time travel stuff was starting to give Din a bit of a headache. While trying to understand it all. The mechanics behind it. The deeper Din tried to venture into the logic of it all, the more he failed and his brain started to hurt! He was no scientist after all.
If Hunter had had indeed missed the past thirty odd years or so, the questions he had raised were valid. Din had also come to the conclusion during the time spent with Hunter, that the insanity card was not played out here. Hunter did not behave like any escape from some facility, rather being more on the level headed kind of a person. Nobody could be as good as actor as that. And Din had certainly met a few off their rocker kind of characters in his life time.
So, trying not to dwell too much on the time travel aspect now, rather trying to figure out the man behind it all, Hunter. A few small things Din had gotten to know about him during the brief spell they had spent together so far. Mainly character traits, but Din was getting there.
But it was not just that, the time travel fact which churned inside of Din's mind.
There was also something very familiar about Hunter's features. His face. Something Din could not quite put a finger on. But Hunter felt like an old friend, which was striking as odd in Din. They had just met after all.
Still, whatever the feeling was it did not matter now. The most important thing was to get Hunter up and running in the best of ways. And then together the two of them could solve the mystery behind Din's new friend. The where and when Hunter had come from.
And with those thoughts put on the back burner, Din was ready to check Hunter's bandages once again. A job he really liked to do.
Well, part from being the resident medic, there was an ulterior motive there too. Because then only would Din be able to admire Hunter's muscular form, while Hunter being stripped off most of his clothing for the process. So, all and all, not a bad gig for the Mandalorian to do, right?
"How are you feeling?"
It was the question Din repeated, he knew, a lot. But he wanted to be sure. So, if he was in looping mode currently because of that, Din could not care less. As the well-being of Hunter's was top most priority for Din at this point.
Hunter smiled at Din.
After all, the question was the same Din always asked of him when it was time to check on his status. Either to administer more medicine or then, change Hunter's bandages. And Hunter, absolutely did not mind at all. Hunter was only too glad of being pampered. And by this handsome man no less.
And even if his own thoughts, his admiration for Din would go unrequited? Well, then that was fine for Hunter as well. After all, some eye candy would certainly make Hunter feel much better. Always.
"I am much better thank you." Hunter grinned. "Much better than a few hours ago since you last checked on me."
Hunter knew he was acting a bit coy just then. But he truly was, feeling much better. And it was most likely all due to the fact that Din was taking such good care of him. Hunter's grin grew positively wide.
"Thank you again."
"Good to hear." Din's face was in a leer too. "I would need to check on your wounds again."
Din grabbed the med kit from on top of the chest of drawers in the room, where he kept it now and then stepped to Hunter's bedside, seating himself at the side of the bed while tending to Hunter.
Feeling his own heart beating faster and his breathing getting slightly hitched simply of the anticipation of seeing Hunter's half naked body. After all, eye candy was the best kind of sweets Din liked to treat himself with. At least as far as any sugary treats went. Din suspected though, that this warrior of sorts would most likely not be interested in much more than, well, a platonic friendship.
Then again, Din had seen something flickering in Hunter's eyes whenever the two of them made physical contact during these treatment sessions. And with that flicker of a sparkle, Din was not the one to give up hope there possible be more developing there between them.
After all, a handsome man like Hunter literally falling from the sky and onto Din's lap? The odds of something like that happening being certainly small in any universe or time. And well, it had not been his lap exactly Hunter had landed on. But yeah, Din had been really close to the crash site, having half carried Hunter even away from the debris. And so, there was that!
Hunter felt the tingling sensations all over his body starting again. Simply the idea of having Din touching him again, the expectations alone sending those fiery sparks ricocheting through his person. The brief moment of joy, Hunter was totally looking forward to. The best part of being a patient of Din's.
Hunter's rather breathless and quick response as he started removing his top first before the bottom half of his blacks came off. But for that, or rather both things, he still needed Din's help.
Just another perk! Hunter thought as he climbed of off the bed with some effort still. But, he did not mind one bit, as Hunter was certainly in good hands. And Din's hands surely were there, just to support Hunter and lend a helping hand!
Din felt his hands shake when it brushed ever so slightly the still hot skin of Hunter's. The low-grade fever still present, at least, it was Din's assessment of it, as he had not taken Hunter's temperature yet. Chucking off any other options for the moment.
But no matter what Din was telling himself right now, the brief contact of skin on skin, no matter how brief, had sent the familiar shockwaves through his body. Trying hard to hide it all as best as he could was not an easy feat. Still, Din managed to dit, with some hard internal struggle, thinking of some sad event and whatever he needed to do to control his libido and make the contact look as casual as possible.
Din was the care taker, the nurse in this relationship now, after all. So, the contact was inevitable and he really needed to get his mind out of the gutter and behave more professionally!
And so Din managed to do just that. Be the care taker for Hunter. As there were no signs of discomfort present in Hunter either, Din was sort of glad to get the procedure done as quickly as possible. In a rather swift action, the bacta patches on both the arm and leg wounds of Hunter's were replaced with fresh ones.
Din sighing in relief, even if he missed the warm contact as soon as he removed his hands away from Hunter's body.
"Well, it looks like your wounds are healing quite nicely."
Din managed to retort with a somewhat of a more lower tone than usual, despite his mouth having gone dry. Feeling all the sensations inside of his body running quite rampant still, even if he had tried to fool himself. Unsuccessfully so! And the half naked body of Hunter's did not help to calm those sensations in any way. Luckily for Din, he too, was a trained warrior. So, keeping things hidden was second nature to him.
But what Din did not know yet, was that Hunter was an enhanced clone. Not just with the healing abilities beyond any regular Human. But also equipped with heightened senses. Easily being able to detect any changes in the Mandalorian. At least when Hunter was more like himself and not all drugged up.
And right now, despite the meds still having some control over him, Hunter was able to sense quite a lot from Din. And that lot, was making his eyes go a tad wide in surprise.
As it was, Hunter's heightened senses had started picking up scents from the other man he had not realised until now. It was most likely that the pain killers had been blocking Hunter's sensors to some extent. They usually did. And by default, Hunter tuned out things he did not really want to sense anyway, the cacophony off all the stimuli around him too much to handle and having learnt early on to control and tune out most things. Only using his senses where and when needed.
But now, as Hunter was clearly on the mend, the control of the drugs was not as strong as while he had been under the weather, well, Din was so close… Sensing these, oh so familiar scents from Din Hunter really had not excepted to find there.
And the scent Hunter was picking up at the very moment? It was quite distinct and familiar too. Rather unexpected as well. But as Hunter honed in on the scent, letting his super powers do their magic, there was no mistaking about what it was.
Like an aura around the Mandalorian, was the distinct scent of arousal. Hunter's eyes widened even further. The realisation of it was indeed a big surprise for Hunter
But, Hunter was not the one to jump to conclusions, not easily anyway. Not with Din and certainly not now. Or was he?
Perhaps it was Hunter's condition still playing tricks on him. His senses having gone all haywire. Hunter really could not trust them right now. Could he?
The fact of Hunter being what he was. An enhanced being was not something he had shared with Din. After all, Hunter could not be sure what the status of the clones in this time period of the galaxy really was. So threading lightly was something Hunter needed to do, no matter how much he trusted Din.
As always, the soldier in Hunter was telling the enchanted clone to be cautious with everyone and everything. Always. No matter how lulled to a sense of security he just might have been in.
So letting things slide, at least for the time being, Hunter tried to calm himself down. Shutting his sensors off for the moment. Taking a deep breath. After all, there could easily be an explanation of what Hunter had just sensed. Maybe it was just himself reflecting?
"That is really good news."
Hunter simply stated and gave yet another small smile to Din. Something which he seemed to be a lot of lately though, the smiling. Then again, so did Din, so guess it was, catching?
Hunter was laying on the bed while Din made the final adjustments on the chest bandage. Glancing over Hunter, as if to be sure there was no place he had left untouched, wound or injury wise of course. Nodding in satisfaction then of his own handy work while playing a nurse to his guest, Din then moved aside.
Hunter immediately missed the touch and closeness of the other man. And as he dared to peek around the air just a little, trying to be as inconspicuous as he could, Hunter was able to sense Din's strong scent having faded as well. Indeed, it had been a good call for Hunter as well, not let his primal instincts take control rather letting all the sensations simmer down for now.
Good things come to those who wait, right?
Din had moved away from Hunter after aiding to put his clothing back on. The familiar blacks without the armour, like a second skin for the clone. Din was busying himself for a moment longer while putting away the gear, packing them back to the med kit. Deciding to leave Hunter to catch some sleep again. After all, it would take some time for Hunter to feel better.
Din was making sure Hunter was that, comfy.
"Yes, thanks again!"
"Well, I will leave you to your rest then."
And with a parting smile, Din took his leave of Hunter. Leaving the man to rest.
Some time later, Din having left him to rest for a while, Hunter was still reeling in the feel of it all. His internal turmoil of all the mixed up sensations hovering without any sings of dissipating.
Hunter's body had become over stimulated after all that touching. Never mind the purpose of it! Hunter's senses having heightened considerably during the supposedly simple medical procedure and were now working over time.
Hunter had watched the other man working on his wounds, the hands moving over his arm, his thigh, his torso… ever so lightly connecting with the already heated skin, sending all kinds of stimuli all over Hunter's body.
Especially the changing of the bindings over his ribcage, where his broken ribs were healing rather nicely, Din had been totally careful not to hurt Hunter. But little did Din realise what the effect of his soft hands on Hunter's skin had been. Hunter's whole body feeling tense after all that…treatment. As if small needles were prickling each and every patch of skin, but in a good way.
Hunter could feel his own arousal having started to rear its head. Literally! And then becoming worried that Din might see it too. Not that Hunter was a prude, far from it. But the timing of it all had been just so, off.
This, was hardly the time for any kind of romp in the good ol' pile of hay as Hunter was still recovering from the crash and the following injuries. With the broken ribs and all, it would be unsafe to say the least. Even if the option for a quick and easy would have been on the menu.
Besides, even if there were feelers in the air, the two of them hardly knew each other. Not that that had mattered to Hunter on a few occasions in his past. Then again, having taken a liking to Din, a quick bout of stress relief was not something Hunter really wanted, now was it?
Despite the sent of arousal having wafted off of the other man, trusting that Hunter's senses were on the level at this point, it did not really mean Din was ready either.
After all, there had been a lot of skin on skin contact. The nurturing kind so far. All that could have easily caused someone to get all emotional. And well, aroused. It was not unheard of how easily one could go from the taking care of kind to, well, taking care of other things as well. Something of a bond forming between a long time patient and their care taker as Hunter knew it to be.
Hunter had witnessed plenty of similar sensations happening in the battle field as well. Where death was a a constant companion and having someone, anyone to hold to in the heat and yes, the horror of the moment just because feeling something else for even a blink of an eye was escapism.
Hunter knew he needed to calm down as he was the guest and Hunter did not want to offend his host with simply assuming things to be some way rather than being the exact opposite. Even if getting aroused from a simple touch could have been considered the ultimate compliment. At least in Hunter's book.
Hunter took a deep breath and brought forth his mindfulness techniques. Helping him centre and forget about his aching throb in the lower parts of his body. Not that it was easy. But with his enhanced abilities, mind over matter and all that, Hunter managed to calm his mind. All the tactile connections between them. Pushing the images as far and deep into the recesses of his mind.
For later use, he thought then.
But for now, Hunter needed to be all there. But certainly not with his dick in his hand! Not that that thought again didn't make him take a few steps back while applying his, well used techniques. Still, acting on any of it was out of the question! With his mind clearing, Hunter took several deep breaths, his body and sense calming slowly and surely.
And then soon enough, Hunter felt more settled. His body temperature cooling down considerably as the rest of it followed suit.
"Hey hey, take it easy there."
Din was right back on Hunter's side, grabbing a hold of him gently and placing his arm around the clone softly after having come to check up on Hunter. The man having gotten a few hours of sleep meanwhile. But finding him trying to get up on his own. But it looked really, really awkward to say the least.
"You need to use the privy?"
Din having had a sixth sense as to why his guest had tried to get up in the first place, hearing Hunter having started moving rather restlessly around in the bed. As Din was nothing if not vigilant when it came to his patient of the moment.
Hunter smirked. Din was quite intuitive. Then again, it had been… what? A day since he had relieved himself. Not that Hunter had been drinking that much and he had been sweating. But yeah, it was definitely the caf causing the pressure of a sensation, that he really needed to go.
Hunter was brief in his words for Din who was right at his side holding on to Hunter before aiding him up from the bed. Unfortunately for Hunter, the familiar sensations from earlier rushing right back of the mere touch of his arm. Din trying to help Hunter stay up right. All that meditation gone down the drain in seconds.
Din having a supportive grip around Hunter's torso. Being really careful so not to touch his ribs so not to cause any further discomfort. Din then managed to pull Hunter up from the bed and steady him while standing. Hunter closing his eyes for a spell, the dizziness washing over him briefly.
"Here we go."
Din's tone was soft and radiating concern and care.
Hunter was only too glad for the help. Peeing all over himself was not a fun thing to do, quite embarrassing really. And so, letting the other man help him was a no brainer once again. Even if they were both familiar with the process already.
"Only a short trip."
Din assured Hunter while guiding him through the small bedroom and out the door and to the privy.
As they reached the door, Din opened it with his free hand and then looked from the fresher to Hunter.
"Um, do you think you can manage by your own again or do you need help."
Din looked right into Hunter's eyes without any sings of embarrassment present there for either of them. After all, the first time around, Hunter had gone alone to release his bladder, Din had needed to help him get out of the fresher, because the dizziness had taken over Hunter. So by now, they had kind of developed a functioning system as far as Hunter going to the privy.
Hunter was feeling all kinds of ways right now.
Mostly, he felt the palpitation of his heart caused by gently Din was taking care of him. The constant worrying about Hunter's condition and even of his fresher breaks.
Hunter managed a small smile then before he stepped inside.
"I think I can manage this one on my own. But thanks anyway."
Hunter was totally thankful for Din's help. Him being there for all the steps of Hunter's recovery. Having been on the other side of things, Hunter knew well, how taxing it could be, taking care of someone who was hurt.
Din only nodded his response followed by a heartfelt smile as Din closed the door after Hunter, waiting outside for him to do his business in peace.
Family lost and yet to be found
'Family is what you make it, and even if lost over space and time, they will always hold a special place in one's heart'
It was already evening of yet another day on Tatooine in the small house in the outskirts of the Mos. Hunter and Din were seated at the kitchen table having a meal Din had prepared for them.
Hunter was feeling already so much better, with no small thanks to the special care of his generous host.
Din who had been playing the part of a nurse for his house guest as well. Taking care of every single need of Hunter's. Making sure the man was not going hungry, being in pain, nor without companionship.
Well, perhaps not every need.
As it was still very much so, despite his attempts in trying to centre himself with meditation, Hunter felt the arousal present in himself and his host each time Din was changing his bandages.
Luckily though, Hunter had gained a much better control of his situation now. Being in command of his personal feelings, willing them to subside the very moment they started acting up.
As it was now, the priority clearly for both of them was to get Hunter on the mend before anything else could or would develop. Whether anything even was to happen at all. The doubts very much present for both Din's and Hunter's thoughts.
The first thing which they needed to do, was at leat try to figure out the why and how Hunter had really ended up in this, well, new time. In the future. Something both Din and Hunter both believed to be the case. No doubt about it. If it was even possible. But they needed to try at least.
As it was becoming quite obvious now after the long conversations Hunter and Din had been having regarding the happenings in the past thirty odd years. Mostly Din telling Hunter what had happened.
And it was a lot. Not the least of it the Empire's fall.
It was quite the lot having changed as far as Hunter was concerned. But then again, a some things had remained the same. It did not really matter as to which fraction, which regime had the power, as there were always those who suffered just the same. The little people.
And then there was the matter of Hunter's family.
Something Hunter had only now, after getting more and more clear headed, begun to realise he missed. Because as far as Hunter had been concerned, the whole time travel thing had been, well unreal. A dream perhaps. And that he could get back to them without a doubt.
But now, as time went on, the hypothesis of Hunter being from the past becoming fact?
The more Hunter thought of it and started to realise, was that he might not see his family ever again. The Batch. Hunter's Batch. His loved ones. His reason for being. The ones Hunter would have gladly given his life for. But they were not here with him.
The loss hitting Hunter harder than he had thought after the realisation had set in.
After all, the Batchers had been his everything since their decanting. Well, not Omega or Echo of course, but they all come together to a tight knit unit. And all of them held an equal share in Hunter's now broken heart. One of them perhaps having even a bigger share of it.
But, that was now all in the past. Hunter's past.
The several nights after that, Hunter having spent in mourning. Shedding the violently pouring silent tears of his loss in the darkness. All alone.
Never showing any of it around Din though. After all, Din had already done enough for Hunter and having his own grief hanging over the Mandalorian was not an option. Hunter never really shared his feelings or sadness no matter what the situation might have been. Trying to cope with it by himself the best he could and keeping a stiff upper lip while in company.
Hunter could not tell whether Din had noticed the crying or not though. But most likely he had. The read eyes each morning before Hunter had headed to the fresher surely a dead giveaway. But Din had not brought it up whatever the case had been. Din was nothing if not observant, emphatic even. But he also knew when to not intervene. And that was one more thing Hunter liked about him.
While discussing the matter at some point though, in passing. That of Hunter's family, but also Hunter's status and possible future plans, Din had not tried to sugarcoat things either. Like the fact that there were people Hunter might not ever see again. And most likely the fact, that they would never find a way back to the past for Hunter.
As there was no telling whether Hunter's family were still around or not, even if Din had tried to suggest to Hunter there could be a possibility though. Thirty years was not that long a time after all. But mostly, Hunter kept the talking of his family to a minimum. Trying not to be reminded of what and whom he had lost.
Hunter knew though, that at some point, he would want to try to find them, if they were still alive. Still, Hunter had no idea where they even could be at this point in time. Where to start the search. Then again, Din was a bounty hunter, so, if he would help, then perhaps, anything was possible.
Then there was the question of going out there. Back into the desert, the crash site and see if there was anything left of his craft to salvage. Perhaps it would be a start in figuring out some of the things still remaining a question mark for Hunter.
Of course Hunter needed to repay Din for his efforts, even if Din had not asked for anything back.
But Hunter was sure there were a few some jobs he was still suited for. And Hunter was pretty sure Din could get him some odd jobs, as he seemed to be quite the resourceful man himself.
Still as it was now, even if Hunter was feeling much better, he was in no condition in pulling any gigs just yet. And that frustrated Hunter somewhat. Despite the great company of the rather gracious Mandalorian, it was obvious this could not continue for too long.
As most likely there were people in Din's life he wanted to spend time with too. And possibly take off on a bounty hunting gig at some point.
As it was, the two of them had managed to exchange their life stories.
Sort of and rather briefly. But each getting the gist of what they had done. Hunter's soldier status coming up of course. And the fact of Hunter's very origins as well. That of being a clone. A surprise for sure for Din.
While talking about it all during meals, Hunter's continued check-ups and those quiet moments the two spent together when there was still no hurry to run out from the house. All of it becoming more of chatter between friends than anything else. The two of them becoming better acquainted with the other. Hunter also realised he had been talking more with Din than he had most likely done with anyone. Even his own beloved Batch.
This was all quickly turning into the current mode of being for them both.
Not that either was complaining about it. As it all was totally cosy and domestic even. Their daily routine having become just that. Domestic!
Hunter had also learned a lot of Din's adopted son, Grogu. The Kid being currently off world in training to become a Jedi no less. Something which Hunter found both odd and interesting. After all, Din was a Mandalorian after all. But Din had assured Hunter Grogu was also trained in the ways of the Mandalore.
Hunter was only too glad of the fact, that there were Jedi still around. Even after Order 66 having been executed none too long ago. Or rather, some thirty years ago. Something which Hunter had to remind himself of every now and again. This was the future!
"So your kid's a Jedi then."
Hunter was reeling after hearing the story behind how Grogu had ended up in his care. And he was once again reminded of Omega and his family. Giving Hunter a moment of silent thought, filled with memories of those he missed dearly. A lump forming in his throat just then. But, Hunter pushed those memories aside once again, the pending tears. As this was not the moment to dwell on them. The memories, his past. None of it.
No, this was time for Din and hearing of his family. And so, Hunter did and listened as Din continued.
"Yup, and a damned good one too."
Din was positively beaming as he was very proud of his son's prowess. At least for a moment, before the sadness hit Din as well.
"I guess there aren't too many of their kind around any more. And well, since I learnt about them and their history."
Din sounded solemn then as he looked up at Hunter. Sharing in the pain and sadness, even if it was for different reasons they felt it at the moment.
"And from what I gathered from you? Well, it's really a pity. All of that which happened in the past with the Empire and all."
Of course it was all history to Din. Which was still kind of out of sorts for Hunter to hear and get a grip of. Hunter's life as he had known it to be to be referred as such. History. Even if for Hunter it had all happened rather recently. But it was one of the facts Hunter needed to live with if he was to remain in this time.
As the other option? Was there one?
Well, Hunter really had no idea what had caused him to travel through time. And most likely, there was no way for him back either. Din had pretty much told him as much. There was no known technology to send him back. Hunter cursed internally thinking back to his team, his family, all of them. Where was Tech when he needed him?
But, Hunter was a soldier, born and bred. And he would adapt. Good soldiers always did. Adapt.
"Well, I too am glad Grogu and others like him are still around."
Hunter wasn't prepared to dwell in the sadness. As the mood had been rather light earlier for the two of them having been chatting. At least it was some kind of consolation for Hunter after seeing all the death and destruction the Empire had caused. In the past.
"So, you really are a clone then?"
Din was turning the conversation back on the more easy topics, also wanting to avoid the more sad ones they had dared to touch. And yeah, Hunter had finally told Din as much. Not that it was a secret, not really. But not something Hunter would have brought up right off the bat. It was simply something which had come up during their conversation. Din making the connection as to why Hunter seemed somewhat familiar to him finally. Even if Hunter was really nothing like the one clone Din knew living in Mos Espa.
"With enhanced abilities?"
It had also been mentioned in passing, because Din had been curious of Hunter's past, naturally. Having shared a lot from his own past, Din had asked questions of Hunter and what he had done being in the military and all. Something he had listened then to rather intently as Hunter had countered some of his Batch's exploits in the great war. Hunter having mentioned being in the Clone Wars on the Republic's side and all. Which could only mean one of two things, Clone or Jedi. Well, at least according to history holos.
Hunter laughed then, as it seemed all so far removed to him now.
"Clone yes." Hunter let out a chuckle. "As for the enhancements? Well, I have a few."
Hunter admitted as much even if there wasn't that much to tell. Well, there was, but… that was for another time.
"As you may remember from your history lessons,"
Hunter could not be sure of course if the Clone Wars had been a part of Mandalorian school curriculum or not. But Din seemed to know something of them."
"The clones were bred for the war and some of us… Well, I guess you could say the Kaminoans ran a few experiments on the few. Making some of us better than others, in manner of speaking of course."
Hunter was deliberately being vague as he did not want Din to have any odd ideas about himself.
"Yeah, I remember something about it. But guess it was all mentioned in passing only."
Din admitted as much as history had not really been his strong suit. But now, that Din had this, most gorgeous clone in his care. Having literally fallen from the skies. Din made a mental note to brush up on the history sooner than later. Because he was intrigued of knowing more about Hunter's life.
Hunter and Din continued their little talks until very late. The night having fallen some time ago. And as the long day was behind them now, it was once again time for bed and sleep. Something Din made sure Hunter did regularly.
There was something of a ritual which had fallen upon them as well.
As it was, when Hunter retired to the now familiar bed in the guest room, Din vigilantly sat beside him in the comfortable recliner. Watching over Hunter to make sure nothing went wrong with his healing. Din eventually falling asleep as well. But, Din had insisted on it. And not a night had gone by since Hunter's arrival when Din wasn't present for him in the guest bed room.
Din was just about to tuck Hunter into bed after checking his wounds once more. Yet another ritual for them. But neither of them made a comment about it. Simply letting it happen.
The injuries having been mostly healed by now though. But Din wanted to err on the side of caution rather than let the wounds get infected. And so, he was adamant in taking care of them before they were completely healed. Most likely Hunter would have managed to do the same by himself now, but again, he liked Din taking care of him. So, no arguments from on that matter either.
Hunter glanced at the bed. And then, made a quick mental calculation of it.
"You know, the bed is quite wide."
Hunter turned to Din and with a clear conscious, without any other thoughts in his mind. Yeah, really? No, Hunter truly was concerned about Din as well. Knowing the chair was hardly a match for a decent bed. And so, he made a suggestion.
"You don't have to sit in the chair all night. It can't be all that comfortable for sleeping."
Hunter had eyed between the Din and the bed right after making the comment. And knew how it might just have sounded in the other man's ears. Perhaps a tad too forward? With some kind of an underlying hidden suggestion in there somewhere?
Then again, they were both adults. And they would only sleep in it. Nothing more. That was at least Hunter's plan. For tonight.
The cuddle piles having been common practise for the clones after all. Mostly done for sleeping purposes during harsh conditions Keeping the cold and loneliness at bay. For the simple comfort of having someone there to hold on to while the war raged around them. But sometimes leading to the more. Hunter doubted thought, Din being accustomed to such arrangements. But then again, who knew?
Din seemed to think about the offer for a moment. Longer even than that. But then a small smile emerged on his lips.
"I guess we can both fit in it."
Getting only an agreeing nod from Hunter. As the two of them then settled into the bed. Together. Having no bodily contact really. But still close enough to feel the others breath on their skin. Both of them thinking of all the possibilities this could all lead into. Yet, neither doing anything about it nor mentioning it to their sleep buddy.
Listening to the other's breathing, soon enough, falling into a deep slumber.
It was still dark outside with only the hint of a sunrise or two pushing through the cracks in the window shutters, peeking at the sleeping ones.
Hunter cracked his eyes open. Trying to figure out where he was and where the warmth against his body was coming from. As the last thing Hunter remembered was falling asleep thinking of home. His batch. And then that thought morphing into a weird dream of travelling through time and space. The reality of it all soon hitting him as Hunter was reminded of it all being true. Him crash landing on a planet in a total different time. With strangers only around him. Well, Hunter had made a friend.
Hunter was able to see the shadows dancing in the dim lit room. His heightened senses walking through each and every smell and sound… and then, there was the surprise.
The breath of another, right there, beside him. Ever so tightly.
And then, Hunter remembered it. He had invited his host, the Mandalorian, Din Djarin into his bed. Having been the caretaker to Hunter ever since finding him wounded in the middle of the sandy desert.
The idea of letting Din sleep properly rather than nodding off in the chair, as he had been rather adamant to stay at Hunter's side until the wounded man was completely healed.
And so, sharing the bed as the two adults they were. Simply sleeping, nothing more, nothing less. The agreement still quite clear in Hunter's mind now that he had finally gotten the last vestiges off of his sleepy state.
But why was Hunter feeling the warmth of the length of the other man against him? Hadn't they started sleeping some distance away from each other. After all, the bed was rather big. Right?
As his mind and eyes got more focused, Hunter followed the length of his own arm, neatly tucked over the other man. Keeping Din in place close to Hunter. And not only that, but Din was clearly enjoying the snuggly position as he lay pushed right against Hunter. Even having a hold around Hunter's torso with his arm while sleeping rather soundly.
Yeah, this was not good. At all the further Hunter thought about their position.
As despite the electrically charged sparkles having flown around the two of them for a while now. Hunter had already made a promise to himself not to do anything until… Well, guess that was still up and in the air. Perhaps never as the two of them had become good friends in a short amount of time.
But it seemed that Hunter's unconscious mind had gotten ahead of himself and decided it was time to make the more connection with Din after all.
Another horrid, well, not that horrible, but a thought just the same then occurred to Hunter.
Quickly taking stock of his own body as Hunter had the tendency of having somewhat erotically filled dreams. And upon waking, the end results of said dreams were usually always present and in plain view for anyone there to have a look-see.
But, thank the Force! This was not the case this morning. Even if it felt all too good to be in direct contact with the man Hunter had been drooling over for the better part of his stay. Because Hunter was, totally interested in the man still sleeping beside him. Despite his best efforts of not being that.
Picky by nature as he had been called in the past, Hunter had always used caution while choosing his partners. Having had finally settled down. But that part of his life was now over. It was in the past. Some thirty years to be exact. And Hunter needed to adapt to that simple fact.
The mantra clear in his head. Good soldiers did adapt.
And so now, with Din Djarin, there was no doubt whatsoever. He was the perfect fit for Hunter. Physically certainly. And as far as Hunter had become to know the man, mentally as well. They did share a similar life style as well. Being a sort of a mercenary and all that. But having deep family values just the same.
Hunter did not want to move.
Even if it was against his own decision to be aloof for the time being. But how could he remove himself from the comforting warm body so fittingly pressed against his own? Hunter's senses were completely honed in on the sleeping man now. Letting the scent of Din fill his nostrils, his senses. Savouring them all into the deep recesses of his mind. Storing them there for later.
Hunter did not dare moving even of the stiffness in his arm was starting to bug him a little.
But that was a small price to pay, as this stolen moment was something Hunter dwelled in for now. As it was, there was no way of knowing whether Din was really into the same thing Hunter was.
But what of all the subtle hints having been laid out for Hunter to pick up on? Where they simply Hunter's imagination? Or were they real?
Well, guess it was still better to leave things be as they were. The comfortable friendship they shared. At least, for now.
Getting back to his own time was hardly an option to entertain at all. And Hunter had already started to prepare himself to stay for the long haul in this, future time. Well, his present as it was now too. And so, Hunter needed to make a life for himself somewhere around there. And that life, might not be with Din.
Hunter was starting to get a headache of all the confusion of his status. Of all the things he needed to consider for his own future. What he would do, where he would live and well, there was a lot to consider. Guess the pain killers Hunter was still on, had been subduing some of the doubts before. As of now though, Hunter seemed to be full of them.
Doubts! Too many of them!
And so, laying beside a would be lover with all those thoughts still bugging him?
Well it was not the best position to be in. Especially, when Hunter's senses were going on high alert once again. The other man's scents taking over his thought process - a thankful distraction for sure from Hunter's more disturbing thoughts.
But, soon enough, despite his best efforts, Hunter was starting to feel all hot and bothered being trapped against Din. As all the possibilities, now with clear pictures of what could be were starting to fill his mind. Even the familiar calming mantra was not helping him centre and focus on something else at this very moment.
A small whimper escaped from Din just then making Hunter to slightly jump. Not that he really did but Hunter was startled just the same. Din then turned onto his other side, taking the warmth with him as he did so. Hunter sighed in relief. But much to his chagrin, the relief was short lived.
As with an unexpected thrust, Din backed against Hunter. Smashing his derrière smack centre of Hunter's crotch. A loud 'umpf' escaping from Hunter's lips.
It was also becoming somewhat clear to Hunter, that the earlier whimper Din had let out had not been out of fear because of a bad dream or nightmare.
No. It was something Hunter himself had tried so hard to ignore. His erotic dreams.
Hunter's new friend then pushed even harder into Hunter. Nothing could help Hunter now as his body rebelled against his brain. Doing what it did best during situations like this. And so, there Hunter was, trapped against Din and his own desire. Without a single clue as how to get out of the mess he was in.
Awkward awakenings… but hey, breakfast is served!
'Finding comfort, even love in the arms of someone new, doesn't mean that those left in the past, were any less loved'
At some point in the early hours of the dawning day, Hunter was wide awake.
Feeling the frustration of his pending arousal having an ever growing hold of his body. Figuratively and literally. It did not help at all, having a sleeping man rutting against his groin. Either due to whatever dreams Din were having at the moment. Or then, Din simply was a restless sleeper.
Being in a deep in his sleep, most likely due to the closeness of the other man lulling Din into a sense of security. Not having to be the vigilant one at all times. And so, Din had not even stirred during the contemplative moments tormenting Hunter. Then again, Hunter had hardly moved himself at the time he had tried to force his libido to calm down.
As it was, Din had quickly settled after the two of them had decided to share the bed. And then fallen rather hard into sleep. Having the most wonderful erotic dream featuring the very man beside him. As the dream had progress, Din had started pressing himself further into Hunter's body looking for some kind of purchase there.
It had certainly not been an easy situation for Hunter to be in at all. But with thanks to his training in meditative techniques, Hunter had managed to find a middle ground for himself. And then luckily, Hunter had managed to fall back to sleep at some point. Real life soon merging with the dream world, filling it with scenes of himself and Din in the most pleasant ways.
It was only several hours later when the two men finally started waking up. The two suns already high in the skies above the planet. But thankfully, the house was still cool and dim on the inside, most comfortable for the dwellers there.
Din stirred before Hunter and somewhat surprisingly, found himself wrapped neatly in the arms of his guest. It had not really started that way, but apparently during the night, things had shifted around just a little.
With one arm tucked under Din's head, him using it as a pillow now and the other one resting around Din's torso rather comfortably. As if had always been there. It felt, familiar and rather good to be held like that.
Din felt the warm breath on his neck. Each exhale firing up all kinds of sensations inside his already warmed up body. The warmth most likely having started while being deep in the rather, um, pleasant dreams still lingering at the front of Din's mind. With Hunter certainly playing the main role in them all.
It was not an unwelcome feeling for Din at all. Being cocooned in the strong hands of the man he had saved from an ugly looking crash site only days ago. The situation between them having quickly developed into something of a friendship, a kind-ship even. And now? well, it wasn't really an unexpected turn of events they were so comfortable in bed together. Even if only for sleep.
After all, Din already felt quite the deep attraction towards Hunter. The development again having happened rather quickly. Then again, love at first sight and all that… Well, it wasn't really love now was it? Not yet anyway, right?
And Din was pretty sure Hunter had reacted to his touches in more ways than one. So, having Hunter literally wrapped around Din's body at this morning hour… Judging from the elevation of the sun's rays seeping through the curtains, Din knew it was still before noon.
It really wasn't an uncomfortable situation for Din to find himself in. Even if the shift in their positions during the night had most likely been more of an unconscious act. Hunter and Din having both sought out the comforting warm body in their sleep. Din was not at all offended or even taken aback by this position he found himself in. As it was only natural.
Despite the earlier thoughts of things perhaps were moving a tad too fast. Hunter having been injured and all. Din knew deep down that he would not object if things escalated between them. Sooner than later even.
But first things first. As even if Din felt wanted under the soft grip of Hunter, he still wanted to be sure the injuries were healing properly before anything could happen between them. So, tucking this, new information, this special and welcome experience, for a later moment. Din gently nudged the still sleeping man behind him with his elbow.
Din could feel Hunter stir and starting to wake up. Hoping only Hunter would not be shocked of where or rather how he found himself at the very moment.
Din's voice was rather raspy and low, despite the sleep already having left him. But he did not dare turning before Hunter would be able to dislodge himself from Din's body. As it was still a rather tight grip he had on Din. And Hunter's ribs were still healing, so, no sudden moves either!
"Feeling alright in there?"
Din probed worldly, not wanting to move or get up yet. As it felt so totally nice to wake up like this. Something he could really get used to doing. The very thought sending tingling sensations all over his body. Albeit the fluffy domestic kind this time.
Hunter realising where he was still at. And how comfortable he clearly had gotten with Din. Even after all the anxiety from earlier! All the thoughts having kept him awake simply because… Well, this was, surprising to say the least. But, it was… a really, really nice spot to wake up in.
Hunter then moved away ever so slightly from the position he had been in just then. But as he heard Din's timbre, all soft and warm, Hunter deduced Din did not mind this, where at they were now. At all. The rather clear cuddle position the two of them had been tightly locked in. Not really wanting to move himself or to let Din go either. Feeling rather bold even, while placing his arm back to where it had been
"I am, thank you."
Hunter's tone was equally soft and low.
"Good! Really good!"
Din was only too happy they had managed to get Hunter out of the desert in time. And getting a doctor to patch him up. After all, Din wanted Hunter in ship shape and Bristol fashion. And if possible, soon too. And Din still did not get up. Did not even try to move. His body clearly having a mind of its own.
"This feels really good."
The words escaping Din's lips before he could stop them. His eyes flying open of the sheer realisation of his little faux-pas. Din gulped and quickly tried to correct his mistake.
"Um, I mean it's comfortable."
Too late though, as Hunter had gotten all the verification he needed.
Hunter's lips curling into a coy grin as he was not in any hurry to move or get up. And clearly, Din was not either. And it did, feel really good for Hunter as well. Having Din in his arms.
"I guess it kind of happened during the night. Us curling up for the comfort and warmth and all that. You know the feeling. Right?"
Hunter's boldness from just seconds ago was kind of fading now. The doubt slowly creeping back again. Something which had been a constant presence during his stay as far as Din's true interests in him were concerned. But, Hunter wasn't willing to make any more excuses at this point either. As to the reason for him acting up in his sleep. He knew what he wanted. And that was Din. And if Din was willing? Well…
Still, Hunter was giving Din an out. Just in case Din needed and wanted it.
Din heard the words. The meaning of them not unclear for him either. Din also heard no excuses nor apologetic sentiment there. As clearly Hunter, even in his sleep had levitated towards Din. Unconsciously or not and now, he was still there, not letting go.
There was simply no denying as to the what was happening between them at this point in time.
No matter the reason, the incident, the crash, which had thrown the two of them together.
This, all of this, was very domestic on so many levels. Nothing awkward or unwarned about any of it. Only familiar. As if this was all meant to be.
Din's breath caught in his throat just as he glanced over his shoulder into Hunter's eyes.
Despite all the idealistic thoughts of having to be careful. Of having to wait for Hunter to get all better. All of it flowing out of the nearest airlock at that very moment.
Din's need, his hunger for something, something much more grew rapidly inside of him. Din made the decision then and there.
Din turned slightly and onto his side. Ending up face to face with Hunter who had remained on his side too after slipping away from Din ever so slightly after Din had started moving.
They were really close to each other. Their legs touching. Din looked deep into Hunter's eyes. The same feelings. The same need and want reflected back at him from the depths of Hunter's.
Din leaned in closer. Close enough for their noses to touch, as did their lips. The feather like touch, gentle and probing. Din inhaled the intoxicating scent of the other man. And then, feeling assured he placed a soft kiss on Hunter's waiting lips.
It was after the breakfast. The meal having been prepared by the both of them. Having worked in perfect unison with each other. And soon after, a comfortable silence had descended the room. Where they had remained seated with their cafs.
The bliss from the earlier intimacy the two of them had shared still fresh in both of their minds. The lingering electricity hanging between them, sending jolts of euphoria inside their bodies. It was a pleasant feeling to dwell in. Even if neither of them wanted to do more than simply bask in the very sensations. The contact from the other still present on their respective skins.
It was all so new and fresh. And it had been a while for Din, having any kind of personal or intimate relations with anyone.
Hunter, having left his own time behind missed his family naturally.
But, Din had made him forget about all of that. At least for the moment. Even if the thought of them entered Hunter's mind frequently. As it was, there was nothing he could do about it now. Getting back to them was not an option. To this fact, Hunter had relented.
Besides, Hunter was starting to feel something, more for the Mandalorian as well. Something which he was not willing to give up. No matter if he was still grieving for the loss of his family.
So, putting aside all those feelings of loss, Hunter decided to concentrate on the moment of now. Trying to enjoy this, new life. The second chance he had gotten. As Hunter could have easily died in the accident which landed him in this time and place.
Hunter's thoughts wandered again.
From the blissful state, staring to dissipate, to the more gloomy and doubting one he was all too familiar with.
Because like every good thing in his life, Hunter knew this could not last. Nothing ever lasted as far as Hunter had experienced life. The war, the Republic, his family, even the all mighty Empire. Hunter being here now? All proof of the same.
But for now, Hunter decided he would try to keep his mind on the present only, even if it wasn't really his time to be in. He needed to get out of the funk and be, happier. This was his life now.
And if the possibility of being able to share it with Din was there?
Well then, it was certainly something Hunter could cope with.
Even if his thoughts kept on wondering back to his batch. But he would nor forget them as long as he drew breath. He still loved them all, very much so.
A few other passing thoughts flickered in the silence of the room then too.
Those of trying to find the technology to get back to his own time. Something which seemed highly unlikely. Still, the idea lingered for there a fleeting moment. A kind of a flicker of hope perhaps or just a childish fantasy?
Thirty years was not a long while though. Not in the eyes of the universe. Nor the life span of a being. And perhaps, there was hope for Hunter to find his lost family in this time as well? Maybe? But where could he even start looking for them?
With all those contradicting thoughts rattling in Hunter's brain in the calm of the moment, Hunter still felt there were a few options for him. Never giving up hope to reunite with his family.
And then there was the very one which kept coming on top of all of them. The one Hunter had right in front of his very eyes. The form of Din sitting at the other and of the large and comfortable sofa with his eyes closed.
Hunter admired the other man for a spell. Stealing the picture perfect moment for himself only, memorising it all to his mind, as if it would somehow all fade away in a blink of an eye.
Because if this was to be more than a simple bout in the ol' hay, then perhaps there was something Hunter could create with Din in this new time. The present time.
Not that Hunter wanted to hurry things. But he liked this, quiet sort of life. At least it was that for the moment. A respite which Hunter had not really ever had. As it had been one mission after another with the war, then being on the run and after that, helping the resistance fighting the Empire.
But now, Hunter was a man out of time, out of pressing things to do. And simply to be his own person. Having permission to enjoy the life as it was for now. At least, as long as his host would want to keep him around. Something Hunter needed to check up with Din. Their living arrangement.
There was a connection between them. Hunter could feel it as clear as day. And so for the moment at least, Hunter was only too happy to linger in this state of domestic bliss for a while longer.
Seeing Hunter deep in thought after they had gotten out of the kitchen. Din having checked Hunter's wounds once again and having made themselves ready for the day ahead. Din decided to ask what it was which was clearly bothering Hunter.
"Two credits for your thoughts."
Din tried the lighter approach, considering it was something Hunter maybe would not want to share.
Hunter realising Din had addressed him. Hunter looked up and at the man smiling at him, clearly not disturbed by the fact that Hunter had fallen deep in thought and kind of ignored Din in the process.
"Sorry! I was just, thinking about home."
"Meaning the past."
Din was understanding Hunter perfectly. They were cut from a similar cloth after all. Both deep and thoughtful in their own right.
"Yes. I miss them."
Hunter wasn't hiding the fact that his batch was present there, pretty much most of the time. Because Din was well aware of what or rather whom Hunter had left behind.
Din nodded only, his smile fading.
He knew how it felt after all. Having lost the most important people in his life at an early age. And then there was his son. Even if they were not lost to each other anymore. Only a temporary misplaced. The agreement made with the Jedi Master to train Grogu and well, being a kind of a second father to the Kid as well. But, that did not easy Din missing Grogu, immensely.
"I can understand that."
Din finally spoke. He inched closer to Hunter, placing a hand on Hunter's shoulder for comfort.
"I miss my kid even if I know exactly where he is and how long he will be there."
Hunter nodded and sighed heavily then.
"I guess there is no way to get them back."
Din was contemplating for a moment then. The words of Hunter's in his mind. And then, as if saying just the right thing which Hunter needed to hear.
Din paused. Because he could not be sure as he was mostly guessing. Thirty years? Well, it could be they were gone already from this plane of existence. But then again, who knew. Getting a questioning glance from Hunter then.
"Maybe they are still around? We could try to find out."
Hunter was only too glad Din had suggested it and was willing to do this for Hunter. Even if they had only known each other for such a short time. But, Hunter also knew it would start to bother him more and more if he did not at least try to find out what had happened to his Batch.
And if Din was willing to help and understood Hunter's underlying desire to reunite himself with his family? Then all the better.
The Mandalorian was certainly starting to feel more and more like the man Hunter wanted to get to know so much better and to spend a lot more time with as well. A lot more.
Din smiled at Hunter, only too happy to see Hunter relieved and sensing like a heavy burden had been lifted from Hunter's shoulders. Something he had clearly been carrying around despite the smiles Din often received from him.
"Of course. I would love nothing more than to help you with that. But it might take some time and effort."
Din warned Hunter not to get his hopes up too easily.
"That's alright. The best thing is to at least try, right?"
Din was smiling widely again. And the smile? Well, it was all Hunter seemed to have needed to get out of his lingering state of funk.
Hunter felt completely and utterly drawn to this gorgeous man, who was willing to help him. And guess, even be with him for a while. Whatever that just might have entailed.
Hunter could not help himself. As the opportunity was there and the tingling sensations from earlier were back again. Hunter leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on the other man's lips.
Before he realised what was happening, Din's lips were hard pressed against Hunter's and in a more demanding one than Hunter had anticipated. Soon enough, their tongues touched as did their hands start roaming each others bodies. Cleary, there was no hurry on this day for anything else, except for the two of them to familiarise with each other. Body, mind and soul.
Settling into the new life in a time
'Life as settled, might become boring, but never take it for granted, as even the boring and the mundane means living one's life'
A few weeks of domestic bliss had passed by. Flown by to be exact, just like that. But…
It had all been fine for a while. The daily routine of it all. Playing house. The two lovebirds getting to know each other on plenty many a levels. The time spent around the house and the surrounding neighbourhood, even meeting up with people.
Having all the time in the galaxy, well, who could say no to that! Doing whatever it felt like. Having time to spend with someone one cared for, not having to worry about being on the run constantly and what bad things might just be lurking around the next corner.
It had been all new for Hunter naturally, never really haven gotten the taste for this level of domesticity. Still, routine is routine, and for the two adventurous men, well, at some point too of the same, even the good stuff can become, well, a tad boring.
And so, the but stepped in.
Rather the not doing anything in particular. As the agenda being pretty much open, with the skies, literally, their limit. Din and Hunter being able to do whatever they wanted to do. Even lie in bed all they if they so desired. Which had happened on a few occasion.
After showing Hunter around the planet, even having taken him to visit some of the nearest planets. Just for the heck of it. Then having worked on some projects at Peli's garage, Din was running out of ideas for them to do.
It wasn't that they were bored at each other, the company they now kept. But, staying put, without any future plans made was starting to grind them both. Neither of them were made for just the purpose of 'to be'.
Hunter was now fully healed from his unfortunate crash landing and the sustained injuries and ready to do more. His mental state had improved as well, the longer he had spent time with Din doing things. The loss of his past, his family still there, of course, but it wasn't on the top of his mind constantly, rather Hunter was able to joy his new life now.
The two of them had been sharing all kinds of stories from each others' pasts during the long eves they spent chatting after dinner. Something of a custom it had become for them.
Din was fully aware of what Hunter was capable of by now. Having seem the man hunt and track, while making a few trips off planet, just for the heck of it. Hunter also being much more efficient in the task the Din could ever be. Something which Din could only be in awe of watching the man do his thing.
They could both handle weapons among the best of them. Getting out to a nearby training facility, something which a local resident had built. It was a multipurpose one with all kinds of options to train in, the duo loving to test and maintain their skills there. Each of them having their preferences as to which weapons to use. Hunter with his vibroknife as his favourite and Din having rebuilt his blaster riffle from pretty much scratch.
And the Darksaber? Well, that was a story for another time. Suffice to say, it did not belong to anyone at the moment. Rather being kept safe for the future.
Din doubted there was really anything the enhanced clone could not do. Then again, Din was bias. And while commenting on the very fact, he had only received a small chuckle from Hunter telling Din there were plenty of things Hunter had yet to master. Surely, a joke?
Din had also realised something else. That he was quickly falling in love with Hunter.
Only hoping it was something they both shared. The feelings for each other. Of course Din knew Hunter cared for him. A lot it seemed too. But love? Well, that was a whole other matter. Din wasn't ready to ask Hunter either nor was he about to reveal how deep his feelings for Hunter really went.
It had all happened so fast. Din knew as much. But, he could not help his feelings not that he even wanted to. If the still somewhat casual nature of their relationship suggested this was all temporary because it was convenient? Still, Din and Hunter were pretty much glued to the hip at this point. Din could only hope this relationship would become a permanent and enduring one.
Not wanting to waste the man's talents, or his own, Din had been thinking of what kind of tasks the two of them could do. Together preferably as they were well suited to be together. Work and otherwise.
Of course there were the bounty hunting gigs Din every now and again embarked on. But he doubted Hunter was interested in that, even if he was more than apt to. That was not the only thing on Din's list of ideas of ops they could do.
Din really did not want Hunter to become too bored either. Afraid Hunter might just one day bounce off because he wanted something else to do, except Din :P
One other idea which was also on the very top of the list of things they could do. That of running mercy missions. Something which the galaxy never really ran out of no matter which fraction was in charge of the space at any given time. They had both been on similar missions in their past.
The one constant in the galaxy was, that it really did not seem to matter, whether it was a republic or some empire in charge. The ruling and bullying the rest of the galaxy into the shape was always that these regimes wanted.
Din and Hunter had both seen the two sides of war. The ruling one and the defeated one as well. And in between there trying to make some kind of life for themselves and those who depended on them.
Even if Hunter had lost his family now, having been left in the past, Din was well aware they shared the same values in protecting the helpless. Taking care of those who could not do so. Even if it might not have started that way, for either of them. Hunter being a soldier and Din, well, a Mandalorian bounty hunter.
So, in the efforts of getting them something else to do, Din had already reached out to his contacts and waiting for their response.
Din had also finally realised why Hunter looked so familiar, despite them just having met. Even if it had taken a few thoughts before Din had figured it out.
As Din had made a few inquiries to his friend, Boba Fett. Mainly for the job opportunities. But all regarding the Clone Wars and the clones in particular. Peeking Boba's curiosity in the process.
Din had tried to keep his inquiries simple. Not really wanting to reveal too much as to the why he was asking about all that now. After all, it was all supposed to be recent history and nothing of real interest these days. And why Din could even be interested in such things.
Boba had been getting rather curious though. As to why Din was so interested in the clones, the war and about even having asked a few questions of Boba's family tree. After all, it was not a secret that Boba's father Jango Fett was the reason the clone army had existed. Nor the fact that Boba himself had been cloned from Jango, something which Din knew of course by now.
So, after some back and forth, Din had finally revealed there was someone he had met only recently. And after some adamant probing on Boba's part, Din had finally spilled the beans and told Boba the whole sordid story.
About finding a man in the desert, seeing him drop from the heavens. Having crash landed his ship in the process. But the biggest reveal being, that the man was from the past. Also the fact of him being clone and from the Clone Force 99 experimental unit as well.
Boba had listened to the story intently though, much to Din's surprise. Because it was rather out there, if he was honest, unbelievable coming to mind. But Boba had not even blinked an eye hearing the tale of the absurdity of time travel playing a big part there. Then afterward, the story ending, Boba had simply nodded. Not even asking one question more. As if it was all clear as day, all of it true.
"I would like to meet this, clone."
Din had agreed to it of course as that had been his idea after all. To introduce Hunter to his closest friends.
Because they were related, right? Boba and Hunter? In some sense of the word. Even if it might not be as literal as that. But they shared the DNA of Jango Fett. So, the two clones were at least some kind of family or something similar.
So, making the arrangements then and there to bring Hunter closer to someone of his family. As clearly, even if Hunter seemed quite content in being with Din, he knew Hunter missed his family very much. Like Din missed Grogu. But at least the Kid really wasn't too far away.
"There is someone I would like you to meet."
Din had sprung the surprise on Hunter getting the other man's attention while elbow deep in the dishwater after their evening meal.
Hunter sounded curious as he did not know too many people in this new time, not yet. But, seeing a mischievous smirk on Din's face made him wonder what Din had been up to.
"Well, if you are up to it, we could take a trip to Mos Espa tomorrow. I mean only of you feel like it?"
Din sounded hesitant all of a sudden, as perhaps this was too soon after all?
Hunter was finished with the dishes and was drying his hands. Glancing at Din, sensing the hesitation in the man though. Making him wonder further what it was Din had done. A surprise for sure, but as much as Hunter loved the small surprises Din had pulled so far, this, seemed different. But, Hunter trusted Din, fully.
"I am game, of course."
Hunter moved closer and looked Din right in the eyes.
"Why wouldn't I be?"
Hunter was standing very close to Din, with their breaths on the others skin.
"I, well, I guess there is no reason really why you wouldn't."
Din gulped, the closeness of Hunter still sending the good kinds of chills down his body, like the very first time.
But, Din was having second thoughts of his surprise for Hunter, as he wanted it to be a good one. And maybe, well, he worried that Hunter did not feel the same way after all. About meeting his kin. Because Din doubted Boba and Hunter had known each other in the past. After all, Boba had been a kid back then and Hunter had never mentioned him by name either.
Hunter stood toe to toe with Din, his lips so close it was only a breath away for their lips to be meeting.
"So, tomorrow then?"
Hunter's voice was a whisper. His breath hitching as was Din's too. Feeling the electricity around them starting to crackle once again. It always did happened between them. Just like it was for the first time.
Din's voice was almost inaudible now. And only seemed to be able to whisper, with one word sentences.
"So, guess we have time for something else before we are due to leave?"
Hunter was so close now, their lips were almost touching as were their bodies as they hovered near each other.
Was all Din managed before Hunter lips were on Din's for a hungry, demanding kiss, as not all things needed to be boring or even mundane for them. And the sex certainly was not.
Din was on his back on the bed, Hunter having completely dominated the scene after the two had finally managed to get to the bedroom. Din's former room, which the two of them now shared.
The kissing had heated up their desire, like it usually did, with their lips locked all the way from the kitchen to the bedroom. How they had managed to manoeuvre in that position, was pretty much a mystery, but it wasn't the first time, so guess there was some sort of routine the two of them had developed.
With the clothing quickly discarded, both of them preferring the more civilian attire to their formerly ever present armour, was far more easy to rid off. Especially during moments where time was of the essence.
Hunter was in his most favourable place in the whole wide galaxy. Snuggled between Din's legs.
Having kissed the other man senseless, Hunter had not left one patch of skin unexplored. His mouth hungry and eager to lick and suck, even take the odd bite of the supple nakedness of the exposed Din letting Hunter do whatever he wanted.
And did Hunter want to!
The noises coming out of Din more pleading, telling Hunter to hurry his pace, even if he had taken his time with the Mandalorian so far. Something Hunter loved to do. But right now, slow was no longer the option.
Yeah, going slow was definitely no longer on the menu. Hunter let out a soft chuckle. Kissing the insides of Din's upper thighs. Nipping the soft skin ever so lightly, his reward escaping Din's lips, that of an hungry growl.
With his grin growing even wider, Hunter decided to give a reward to Din in turn. Licking his dry lips, with a few well placed licks and kisses, devouring the length of Din's into his mouth, with only one goal in mind. Throw Din over the edge of utter bliss.
What a familiar looking face you have!
'Someone with the familiarity of the past, a reminder of the home, the family long since gone - a heart warming feeling it can be'
"Well, well, well! It's like looking into a mirror isn't it!"
Boba exclaimed gingerly and let out a hardy belly laugh.
Din had brought Hunter to Mos Espa to meet up with the promised 'someone' the next day.
It turned out that Din was going to introduce Hunter to some dignitary. The Daimyo of Mos Espa no less. It was a tad odd to Hunter that Din was rubbing shoulders with such a person, as Hunter simply did not see Din the sort of person who cared much about people in power.
"A Daimyo? Why would you want me to meet a fat cat like that?"
Hunter then having even asked about it, because Din had been so secretive about the whole ordeal. Not even giving a hint about the whom and the why. Not until Hunter had pressed about it just a tad. Simply wanting to know beforehand what he was really getting into. The soldier in him not wanting to walk into a situation he was not prepped for.
"You will see when we get there! Don't worry cyar'ika, you will like this person for sure!"
Din finally relenting a little, but still only revealing the title of the person they were going to see, nothing more. Still, Hunter had promised to go with him to Mos Espa. Besides, as Din had seemed so eager to introduced Hunter to the Daimyo. So, after last night, feeling all too lax and very satisfied, whom was Hunter to argue about any of it!
Din had simply smirked coyly, keeping his lips tightly sealed. A change for sure since the night's activities it had been in Hunter's dirty mind. But, in the end Hunter had yielded too and simply agreed to let Din take him to the Mos for whatever reason he wanted. After all, Hunter had gotten so much more than he had needed during their nightly interlude, he really had no reason to argue. At all.
Hunter just stood there, looking somewhat confused at first.
As clearly, the face in front of him was so familiar. Albeit a tad older than Hunter remembered the regs to be. But it was the distinct face of all those countless ones Hunter had shared his own existence with while still back on Kamino. A clone, of his own kind.
"I am Boba, Boba Fett. Your, um brother."
Boba stated rather proudly, still with an inkling of hesitance in his tone after seeing the confusion on Hunter's face. Trying to lighten the mood then a bit.
"I see you got to keep all of your hair."
Boba smirked eliciting a snicker of the comment from Din, who had been observing the moment in the sidelines. That of the two men who had actually never met, now bonding. Or at least that had been Din's idea of this, reunion of sorts. Hunter finally getting to meet some of his extended family after having mourned the loss of his own squad.
Something Din knew Hunter was still doing, which was fine enough, but Hunter had stopped mentioning them after a while. And that had worried Din some and so, after figuring out whom Boba was to him, arranging for them to meet had been a no brainer.
After a spell of contemplation, the revelation starting to sink in, Hunter did not hesitate one more moment longer. Hunter leaped towards Boba, grabbing the man into a tight bear hug as it had been a long while since he had met any of his kin. Too long a time. Hunter was holding onto Boba for dear life for while before daring to let go. As if afraid Boba would disappear if he did.
But, Hunter finally let go. Albeit somewhat reluctantly, even if they had just met, still the familiarity of the other man was palpable.
Hunter was not sure what Din had told Boba about him, but as this was clearly the big surprise the Mandalorian had been planning for him. Something which was warming Hunter's heart like nothing had in a long while. Well, except meeting Din himself and spending time with him of course. But Hunter was sure Din had prepped Boba for the meet-up.
"I am called Hunter."
They were both grinning widely now. And it was catching as Din too joined in the happiness of the situation. Seeing how Hunter and even Boba, had been brought to tears of this totally heartfelt reunion of the two. Din could not have been happier himself of having had the chance to arrange it. For both clones sake.
Taking his place by Hunter's side and placing a supportive arm around the man. A gesture Din was making unconsciously. The two of them having become so close now, it was second nature for both of them to wordlessly support the other with such motions. The small touches taking place more often than not.
Boba observed the two for a moment. Seeing the clear affection between the two. Something Din had not really mentioned with so many words. But Boba had heard the description Din used of Hunter, while the two of them had discussed the reunion over their holo call. And reading between the lines the unsaid things had been rather easy. As the tough Mandalorian had clearly become quite enamoured of the enhanced clone.
"So. You two are, cyar'ika?"
It wasn't really a question as the two of them acted quite affectionate around each other even now. One would have to have been deaf, dumb and blind, and still the emotions would have emanated from the two lovebirds for everyone to read.
Din felt the blush on his cheeks just then. Not embarrassed about their relationship, rather of the fact that he had been so obvious about it. Because Din did not care who knew, but he preferred to keep his feelings and emotions on the down and low and not for the whole galaxy to see. Right?
"Would it matter?"
Hunter wasn't as picky about such things though. Having been in love once before and not even once having tried to hide it. As he simply then placed the question for Boba, standing tall and proud in front of his newly found kin. Not caring whether Boba or anyone else knew about what was going on between himself and Din.
"No, of course not."
Boba simply smiled at the two of them. Patting both of them on their shoulders as the two men were standing side by side in front of Boba. He had simply been curious and only wanting validation for his suspicions.
"It's a such good thing to have someone close to one's heart in these, hard times."
Din and Hunter exchanged glances with each other briefly. Searching for the answer in the others eyes. After all, there had been no talks of love or even the permanence of their relationship. Admittedly there was the familiar routine the two lovers had gotten used to. Not to mention their current living arrangements.
Well, sure the two were close and all. And Hunter had to admitted to himself as much. That there was something more there to the two of them, just like Boba had asked. Din having used the same endearment of Hunter several times over during their time together. More recently at least. And perhaps it held more meaning than either of them dared to admit.
Boba knowing when to leave well enough alone, seeing the two clearly having some things to still sort out as far as their relationship was concerned. So, deciding to change the subject.
"So, you are the Hunter, of the infamous Clone Force Ninety-nine, eh?"
Boba seemed to be quite knowledgeable of Hunter already. Most likely Din being the one to update the man of it all. And of course Hunter had heard the stories of their Maker's Jango Fett's son, the bounty hunter and clearly something more these days.
Hunter's tone changed from happy to rather clipped as he did not like the sound of that at all. And so, naturally the leader of the Bad Batch would defend his squad to the very bitter end if needed. Kin or not making such a mocking statement. Hunter, was not having it, at all.
"We were simply doing our jobs while working for the Republic and after the war trying to steer clear of trouble with the Empire. Nothing more, nothing less."
Boba laughed then, reminding Hunter very much of Wrecker, the loud belly laugh and all.
"I know. I know! I was simply pulling your leg, Hunter."
Boba tried to resolve the bad situation he had clearly caused. The Batch being a sore spot for Hunter and so, acknowledging his own mistake of joking about it too soon. After all, the two of them had just met. Hunter and Boba. Placing his hand on Hunter's shoulder again, Boba tried to convey the same with the touch. That he was sorry for upsetting Hunter.
Hunter forced a smile too. But the uneasiness was growing in him. As to the contrary perhaps thought by Din, meeting up with Boba had made Hunter miss his old family even more so. The memory of them tightening his stomach into knots. And not the good kind either.
Din was getting the older clones attention again. As it was, Boba was clearly quite taken, even fascinated by Hunter. The younger one of them and being an enhanced clone as well. Clearly, Boba was taking great pride in his father's legacy.
"Yes, my friend?"
Din had Boba's full attention now.
"Well, me and Hunter were talking and were kinda wandering if you had anything for us to do, a job perhaps?"
"I thought you were off the bounty hunting work, for good this time around."
Boba commented as Din had been quite clear about it while last the topic had come up between them. Especially now that Grogu was once again a permanent fixture of the Mandalorian's life, he did not see it fit for him to run across the galaxy chasing bounties.
Almost immediately after the Kid had returned to Din's care, the Mandalorian had pretty much seized all gigs rather concentrating on other more humanitarian tasks close by their home base on Tatooine. Din and Luke also having eventually coming to an arrangement of how to co-parent the Jedi youngling, after their brief but somewhat fiery affair.
Din had suggested when asked by Boba, that their intimate relationship had happened because of sharing Grogu anyway and would have never lasted. Still, the two men had remained friends and now shared the upbringing and training of the Kid.
But Grogu was off world and clearly these two seemed like they needed some action. Some thrill in their lives. Other than a rolls in the ol' hay. Something Boba was pretty certain happened a lot between the two viral men.
Boba had sounded surprised to hear this question at first.
But then thinking back, Boba could easily understand though, wanting to do something else than what the daily routine of their lives was offering. Even if it was a blessing to have such lives these days. But, sometimes Boba too found the mainly quite life of Daimyo too easy and well, a tad boring if he was totally honest.
"Well, I am. But it would be good to show Hunter more a than just the sleepy life of Tatooine and the surrounding worlds. Not to letting his skills go to waste."
Din tried to be as casual about it. Talking of course also of himself as well. As even before Hunter's arrival, Din had felt bored without the Kid. And certainly the two similarly outfitted men could use some distraction to keep up with their skills and whatnots. Have some other kind of fun as well.
"Sure, I can understand that perfectly. And I may have something for you two. But I need to talk to one of my contacts first."
Boba elaborated as much. As it was, he had been only recently been contacted by a former client in a need of Boba's services. Alas the Daimyo being way to busy himself these days - heh - had declined then. But if Din was willing then, well, he needed to talk with the client again.
"Meanwhile, why don't the both of you join me and Fennec for supper. What say you?"
Boba was looking forward of course to more bonding time and shared tales with Hunter.
"Fennec? As in Fennec Shand, the bounty hunter?"
Hunter was on high alert again. Hearing the familiar name from his past. As if it was her Boba had meant, then Hunter had a bone to grind with the woman. Having gone after Omega in the past and all.
Boba realising the issue as Fennec had of course mentioned the incident to the Daimyo when Boba had told her about Din and his new Bo coming for a visit.
But had happened a long time ago. At least for Fennec.
"Indeed! But she is no longer one and as far as I know, she was really protecting the Kid back then."
It seemed Boba knew whom they were referring to. And what the incident had been about.
"Omega." Hunter corrected him then. "Our sister."
Boba smiled but with a hint of sadness in his voice as the smile wasn't quite reaching his eyes either.
Sending another pang of guilt and reminder of loss through into Hunter's very core.
There was a moment of silence there between the three. Din moved closer to Hunter, placing his arm around Hunter. Drawing the man in for a comforting embrace.
A moment more passed before any of them spoke. It was Boba who broke the silence once again.
"Well, what say you? Stay for a while and reminisce?"
Hunter knew he wanted to get to get to know Boba better. And perhaps this thing with Fennec could be mended. Somehow. So, nodding after exchanging glances with Din. Hunter then spoke out.
"We'll accept your invitation."
Dinner invites with friends of new (and old)
'Times change, vistas change, but old and even new friends, well, seem to stay the same'
Hunter was clearly on the defensive.
Din could feel Hunter's body tensing after the two of them having walked into the large hall where the banquet, as Boba had mentioned it to be at having been prepared in honour of Hunter. Din had his arm around Hunter rather protectively. Being well aware of the history Hunter and Fennec shared. Only preparing for the impact on Hunter seeing the former bounty hunter there. So, being a good step ahead of the situation, giving his full support to Hunter and acting the proper boyfriend for his Cyar'ika.
Fennec was well aware of Hunter's current status, naturally.
After all, Fennec and Boba had discussed the news at length after hearing some of the tidbits right after Din having made the surprise holo call to Boba letting him in on the 'secret' of finding one of Clone Force 99 members in his backyard. Their Sergeant, Hunter. And no less, having travelled through time to get there!
Boba had also warned Fennec not to stir things up either.
But what was surprising to Fennec, was the fact, that this was actually Hunter from the Bad Batch standing right in front of her right now. Unchanged from what she remembered from meeting with him. Torn away from some thirty years ago and into this time. It was rather uncanny to see the clone in person now.
"So, you and Boba are partners now?"
Hunter tried to act all cool, calm and even polite.
After all, for Fennec, it had been thirty years ago since they had met. And Hunter could not very well hold it against her anymore. Her mistakes in the past. Even if she had been doing her so called job, Hunter had taken it personally. After all. It had involved hunting down Omega. But, Hunter was still eager to hear the explanation behind what really had happened. At least at some point. As according to Omega, Fennec had said she had tried to help the Kid back then.
Fennec's brows knitted, not really sure as to what the question entailed.
"We are friends and we also share a business arrangement."
Fennec's tone was rather clipped. But clearly she wanted to make a point there was nothing romantically going between her and Boba. Not that it had even entered Hunter's mind to think that. It had been a general question after all.
Hunter got the message loud and clear. Seemingly, a topic Fennec had already prepared to counter, most likely a question popping up frequently too. And being a rather sensitive subject as well. At least, that was what Hunter was reading to it. Then deciding to drop the subject right off the bat.
"Sure. I understand."
There was a moment of silence in the room between the three as Boba was yet to arrive. Fennec broke it after a spell though.
"So, you and Din huh?"
Fennec seemed to be relived to change the subject as well.
Having waited for Hunter to continue, but as there were no further comments nor questions from him, Fennec was only too glad Hunter was not pushing her about the past. The happenings from thirty years ago in her perspective, even if they might have been recent for Hunter. Both of them still trying to get in grips with the whole time travel ordeal.
Hunter let out a small laugh then.
It was a relief after all, having let the tooka out of the bag and all. And not having to explain too much as apparently, Boba and Fennec by default, had been given several details by Din before the two of them had arrived to the Palace. And so, not having to share more of their relationship was a good thing. As Hunter really did not like to talk about himself with strangers or even most friends. At least about the more personal things.
"Yeah, me and Din."
Hunter gave his partner a rather amorous glance then, receiving one from Din in return too.
"That is very good to hear."
Well, it was a surprise to hear! Especially it coming out of Fennec's mouth.
As clearly, this Fennec, the version of her in the here and now, was seemingly a very different person from the young and upon coming bounty hunter the Batch had met in the past. Then again, Hunter did not even pretend he had known much more about Fennec than what their brief affiliation had been.
"Din was a tad of a mess after the whole ordeal with Skywalker."
The name Skywalker, stated with a hint of… anger present perhaps?
Din cleared his throat then, not eager to overshare either!
It was also becoming rather obvious, that with Hunter's own very special skills of sensing all kinds of things, including people. The simple fact, that Din had two very good friends in Boba and Fennec.
They seemed to be rather protective of the Mandalorian. The reasons some of which Hunter had heard already. The stories of Grogu's rescue among them. And that made Hunter respect the woman more. His anger towards her, the past wrong doings against Hunter's family slowly but surely dissipating at the very moment.
"Yeah, I've heard the story."
Getting a nod in understanding from Fennec. Both of them sharing someone they cared for, which was a good start if Hunter and Fennec were to become, what friends as well?
Hunter also heard the let out breath from Din, having stood rather stiff beside him.
Hunter squeezed Din's hand he had been holding onto gently after having grabbed it right after seeing Fennec in the room.
Somewhat of an unconscious act on Hunter's part, holding onto Din. But it seemed to be happening more and more frequently. The two of them having become rather accustomed to each others company and the sharing of touches as well. Even while in public.
Hunter's tone had become rather solemn.
Din had his wounds from past relationships, as did Hunter. And even their situations were not really comparable, as Hunter really had not had a choice in ending his own. Rather having happened abruptly, twice even. Well, not that Din was to blame for his breakup either. Still, they had both loved and lost and now, they had each other. It was all that mattered.
Hunter realised just then, after talking with Fennec about somewhat serious matters. Love and all that. Yet another surprise for Hunter, the topics and him talking about them in general and with Fennec no less. Hunter and Din had pretty much shared their life stories so far, having become close on so many levels in just a short amount of time. And Hunter wasn't mentioning that either in his thoughts. That too being yet another surprise.
But as he had already noticed, Fennec wasn't what he had expected at all to be. And it was a good thing. The former bounty hunter starting to grow on him somewhat. Chatting with Fennec Shand? Well, it seemed to be rather natural and Hunter found, again surprisingly, that he liked it too. Fennec being rather open and understanding about most things it seemed.
But the other thing Hunter realised while chatting was, that he was actually thinking of the word love and Din in the same sentence.
And it was becoming rather obvious to the clone from the not so distant past, that he was starting to fall in love with the Mandalorian, Din Djarin. And Hunter also knew now that he, was not afraid of it. At all.
Chatting, reminiscing and laughing. With a few serious topics having been touched as well.
The dinner between the four had gone rather amicably. As whatever hostilities Hunter and Fennec might have had in the past, had all but seemed to have vanished.
Their chat from before had kind of cleared the air and the two of them were starting their new friendship with a clean slate. Having discussed all things current and even touched a few from the past, it had been enjoyable especially for Hunter. But Din had had good fun too with the rest of the group.
Boba too was someone Hunter seemed to have a lot in common with. Not taking into an account their family history. But there were other things as well they had in common and the two of them had even started a list as a joke. The joke soon escalating into a more absurd topic.
Soon enough the evening had passed without any issue, with Boba, Fennec and Hunter seemingly starting to become fast friends. Something which Din had hoped. As he was close to the dynamic duo of Mos Espa. The two of them being best friends as he had mentioned to Hunter before coming to the Palace.
"So, there is something I would like the two of you to do for me."
Boba revealed to Hunter and Din after they had consumed their meal and were comfortably sitting with some drinks afterwards in the lounge.
"A mission of sorts this would be."
Boba sounded rather vague. But knowing Din was kind of out of the bounty hunter business and Hunter did not seem like the type at all, having been born and bred to be a soldier. Even if some of Hunter's past, doing mercenary ops, had been revealed to Boba during the mealtime when they had been sharing stories. Boba seemed to have been asking all the right questions from Hunter then. Something which both Din and Hunter had also noticed.
Then again, the exploits of Clone Force 99 was part of history now. Well, as much as it had been recorded, which was not much. Even if it paned Hunter to think it being the case. And so, for Boba, having an interest in his fellow clones stories might just have been behind those queries.
Because so far, there had been no indication of Boba suspecting Hunter was anything but what he had claimed to be. Someone transported from the past to the their present time.
"What kind of a mission?"
Hunter and Din asked almost in unison.
As after all, they had both been in charge of their own team or life in one way and another. Exchanging glances they smiled to each other, Hunter nodding to Din to take the lead in this case. As after all, this was Din's time they were in, sort of. As it was, Hunter was pretty much stuck there now too and he needed to start thinking that way as this was his life and his time. He simply had to.
And besides, they were both most likely very interested in getting off the planet for a while, hopefully together as well. It was not Din's company Hunter found boring at all. But they needed something to do. It was hardcoded in their DNA as the soldiers and warriors they were. They were not meant to stay put in once place for too long a time.
"There is a high value target in need of being rescued."
Boba knew it sounded totally cliche.
But then again, if saved, this person, would be a great asset to Boba. And so, rescuing them instead of some no name bounty hunter getting their hands on them and the target ending up in the wrong hands?
Well, Boba had been presented the opportunity here and he had thought of it long and hard and was sure now, it was time to make the move.
"And even if we are no longer in the business of bounty hunting,"
As Boba and Fennec had pretty much settled to the Mos Espa Palace, taking care of the place and the inhabitants of Mos Espa the best they could, a new lease in life of sorts.
"this target? Well, suffice to say they would be valuable both to me and our cause here if we were the ones to free them rather than someone else."
Boba was none too forthcoming with the why's behind his decision to go after the target. But then again, Din had never really cared much about politics anyway. And he suspected Hunter was the same way. Even if they were both totally willing to put their own lives on the line for a just cause.
"So, bounty hunting huh?"
Din glanced at Hunter. Din being none too sure if he was even willing to go back to his old tricks at this point in his life and whether Hunter would join in it or not.
"You known I left that trade behind when Grogu returned. It's not something I wanted to subject him to. Not anymore as you know."
Din was none too eager to dwell into the past and start doing things he had finally gotten over.
Still, Hunter had quietly listened to Boba and Din and spoke out suddenly.
"What exactly would it mean for you if we got to the target instead of someone else finding them?"
Much to Boba's and Din's surprise it was too.
After all, Hunter was none too fond of becoming a bounty hunter either. But then again, if Boba needed a favour, then guess Hunter owed at least to listen to his side of it. And besides, they needed something to do as it had been a quiet week so far.
Boba was surprised of the question of Hunter's. But then again, he knew the clones were smart and thinking for themselves no matter what the Kaminoans would like everyone to think. And so, Hunter was an enhanced clone, most likely even smarter than the average clone. There was no fooling him. Clearly.
Deciding to respond Boba revealed more than he had intended to.
"Well, let's just say, that as we are trying to keep Tatooine clean now. Of spice, bad elements to name but a few. This target, when saved by myself and my people, would consider owing us a huge favour."
Boba sounded cryptic enough as it was. But if this rescue went south? Well, he really did not care to admit in even being part of it.
"And having them on our side would help our cause in continuing keeping Mos Espa and the rest of the planet as safe as possible."
As Boba had managed to clean up most of the criminal elements and bringing different tribes and species into a more harmonious living arrangement as far as it had been possible. But there was a truce between most of the tribes and other dwellers. Even getting the Tuskens some much earned respect and their own land back.
"So, if we get this target for you, you would extort them into getting your way?"
Hunter summarised Boba's meaning as he understood it now, not mincing words either.
"You are a fast one, aren't you."
Fennec commented then, even if her dealings with Hunter in the past had been brief, she had formed some opinions of the clone and his squad back then.
Hunter gave her a glare. But Boba interrupted whatever was going to happen there just then. most likely some squabble of some sort.
"Look, Hunter, you may not like all the methods I am using here to keep things straight, pun intended."
Boba smirked at Hunter.
"But to keep the peace and the people happy, I am willing to go to some lengths to maintain the status quo around here. It has taken some time and a lot of effort not to mention casualties to get where we are now."
Boba was giving Hunter a lecture about his own tactics and all, but he needed to make Hunter understand his side too. As sometimes, the end goal did justify the means.
"Besides, you don't have to think of this mission as a bounty hunting gig, rather think of it as a rescue mission. The pay is good too."
He reminded them then. Not that either man was tight for credits as both of them had been pulling a few minor odd jobs with good pay around the planet so far to occupy their time. Mainly transferring goods for the local businesses. Something which Din had done even before Hunter had landed on his front porch.
Hunter seemed to be contemplating what Boba was telling them. Knowing Boba was on the earnest and that Boba had done his fair share of making a better life for the people on the planet.
"I hear ya."
Hunter glanced at Din then after a few moments of thought on Boba's words. Looking for assurance from Din as to what they should decide. Finally simply stating.
"If Din is willing, I am too."
Hunter knew he did not really own any favours to Boba. Even if they shared the same DNA. But he felt the cause to be just and as they had already discussed it with Din, they needed something else to do than wait for another odd job to fall on their lap as both of them were active by nature. And so, they most likely needed this mission simply to satisfy this aspect of their wandering nature.
Boba and Fennec looked at Din waiting for his response.
"Oh, well, guess we are in."
Din spoke then and smiled at Hunter who had been giving him all kinds of glances during the evening. Their unspoken method of communicating as Din liked to think of it. Among other things as not all glances had been about exchanging thoughts. Not that they could read each others minds. Not yet at least!
"We just overhauled the ship so it's prepped and ready to go."
That was an understatement if anything as Din and Hunter had spent two weeks going through every part of the craft. Some even twice, just because they had the time on their hands.
Boba smiled widely and then raised his mug.
"To the mission then!"
Boba cheered at the two.
"To the mission!"
The other three cheered in unison raising their mugs too. It was a start of a new ear, a collaboration of sorts after all. For Hunter at least. Another step in the direction of his new life.
They all continued to chatter about the approach to be taken when going on the mission and what they needed to do to be successful among other details as well.
"I will have the needed intel gathered soon enough."
Boba then snapped his fingers for his lackey droid to go and fetch the data and put it on a chip for the duo to take with them.
"Good! So, we leave in the morning then?"
Din asked as it was already late. And well, they had all been drinking the good stuff so, not the best time to start a serious mission.
"Sounds like a plan! You want to stay here for the night here?"
Boba was nothing if not a good host. After all, there was some way to venture to Mos Eisley and not so good either in the total darkness. Besides, he had plenty of room in the Palace he now owned.
Hunter and Din once again conversed without words with simply exchanging glances, something which was becoming a thing for them, it seemed!
Din offered, grateful they did not have to travel in their current state, that of being a tad tipsy.
After retiring to their room for the night, the two of them were readying themselves for bed.
It had been an interesting development after all. Getting a mission. The anxiousness to get en route was already itching their respective skins despite the late hour of a very long day. Having discussed it some more soon after taking their leave from Boba and Fennec.
If they were at home, which Hunter also called the house of Din's. Something of an understanding the two had gotten to after it having become obvious two of theme were lovers and more. It had not really been much of a discussion rather a mutual agreement. Din having simply asked from Hunter during one late hour after their love making.
"So, you think wanna stay here? You know, with me? In this house?"
After a moment of searching his lovers eyes for the earnestness there. That the question had simply not been something Din was putting out there in his post-coital bliss, rather that he was being sincere and really meaning it.
"If you want me to stay, then I will."
Hunter had known pretty much from the very start after falling from the skies, as to where his place and heart were now, in this new future of his.
And there had really been no doubts left in Din's mind either. Not since the moment he had brought the injured man he had found in the desert back to his home. And so, after that they had pretty much been 'us' in pretty much everything they did from that point on.
"So, this person we are going after,"
Hunter was seated on the bed waiting for Din to finish his ablutions in the fresher, having the door open so they could talk. Besides, Din knew Hunter liked to watch Din getting undressed.
"He is of some big shot you know of?"
As it was Boba had not revealed too much of anything. Almost as if he had been afraid to do so, on some level at least. Something Hunter had sensed from him.
Din was brushing his teeth as he peeked out through the open door. As it was, Din was once again surprised how much alike the two of them were, him and Hunter. As even if Din had not voiced any concerns in regards of the target, he had thought exactly the same thing.
"You mean like someone high up in the food chain?"
"Yeah. Someone like that."
Hunter was thoughtful for a moment.
"These ex-imps you keep talking about. Maybe one of them?"
Din finished his tasks and came out of the fresher, in his full naked glory. Earning an admiring glare from Hunter. Din let his lover take a good long look at him before getting to bed as well.
"I was thinking the same thing. As it was totally vague a description Boba was giving us."
Din laid onto his side leaning on his arm to look at Hunter.
"I would say, having some ex-imp on your payroll, in a manner of speaking, could give you some leverage."
Din was thinking back to the rumours he had heard. That of some of these ex-imperial types becoming part of the ruling party of the New Republic too.
"I've heard a few rumours. But then again, there are always rumours. So I would not put too much stock in them."
Din's wasn't big on rumours. Mostly. But he had to think of the fact, that if Boba was interested in this target, then the rumours still might have some truth in them.
"But, there are imps out there for sure even now. Ex or not, so we have to be careful."
Din had naturally updated Hunter of his dealings with supposed ex-imperial, Moff Gideon and his cronies while Din first met his son, Grogu. And as they were now well aware of, those elements were still out there, working on some agenda.
"So, imps huh?"
Hunter raised on eyebrow. After all, the Empire was long gone. But clearly, not all of the elements had died out.
"Sounds like the good old times!"
Hunter remarked sarcastically, as he was none too keen on getting involved with them. Ever again!
"Yeah. But hey, for us, it will be a simple extraction as soon as we track down the target."
Din sounded confident enough about the mission. Din then reached for Hunter and dragged him down on top of himself.
"Now, no more shop talk!"
It was an order after all!
Placing an urgent and demanding kiss on Hunter's lips indicating it was time for some loving now, and that talking time was over. Because there was nothing Din loved to do more, than to kiss the clone of his own senseless.
There is always something, isn't there?
'Missions, ops, bounties, jobs, gigs - so many names for an endeared objective, now isn't there!?'
"A simple extraction, he said! You'll be able to pull it off in no time without much effort, he assured!"
Hunter ranted to himself rather sarcastically. Annoyed at the mission, Boba but mainly himself for being so gullible and accepting the gig. Hunter was trying to manoeuvre the vessel the best he could while Din was handling the cannons as they were under attack by an unknown party.
"Where the kark did they come from?"
Hunter was doing his best to keep the ship out of harms way. At least, out of the way of getting every single shot their pursuer was firing at them hit the ship's hull.
"There is an asteroid field just around the corner of this system. We can hide in there."
Din's voice sounded over the comms as if having been reading Hunter's thoughts. Then again, the hostiles should not have been there, according to the intel they had received. Nobody, was supposed to be there. This was supposed to be a simple rescue mission, is all!
Hunter punched the buttons on the ships computer, the scanners finding the asteroid easily enough. As the visual of their location popped up onto screen with the route already calculated by the computer, Hunter only needed to punch in the new coordinates into the nav computer and alter their route.
"Found it! Taking us there now."
Hunter informed his partner over the comms and then steered the vessel onto its new course, pushing through the throng of their pursuers easily enough.
It did no take too long for Hunter to get them out of harms way and managing to wedge the small size vessel between some debris in the asteroid belt. The magnetic fields surrounding the fragments causing problems for anyone scanning for them.
Hunter could only hope their pursuer would lose interest in the search soon enough. Hearing the few blaster fires outside the rocks. But as far as he could see, they had managed to escape.
Din emerged from the gunners mount just then.
Soon enough the weapons fire had all but subsided and there is nothing but the silence of space around them. With the humming of the ships engines on low level operation the only sound to be heard.
"I think we lost them."
Din's voice was a low whisper, as if fearing someone they did not want to could hear them.
"Why are you whispering?"
Hunter matched his tone, not sure why Din was not talking normally.
"Sorry! Force of habit."
Din grinned at his little faux pas then.
"Well, the scanners cannot find anything out there anymore. Not that we can really trust them as the magnetic fields are causing all kinds of havoc on the electrical circuits."
Hunter pushed the scanner buttons and they could both see the readings did not pull up any data. He could sense the fields being rather powerful himself too. His head throbbing slightly even now.
Din simply retorted simply.
Hunter repeated and glanced at the man in disbelief.
"How is it, that those, whomever they were started chasing us the moment we came out of hyper space?"
Hunter sounded rather annoyed too. Not just because of the unwelcome surprise they had been subjected to. But also, because the magnetic fields were really starting to irritate him.
"Well, perhaps it was a trap?"
Din was too nonchalant in Hunter's mind at the very moment. As being rather reckless about the whole situation making Hunter wonder if this was the Mandalorian's default mode of operandi. Not that his old squad had not made rash decisions on the spot. But this was a whole new level or recklessness he was seeing.
Hunter kept repeating the words Din was throwing his way, apparently.
"Yeah, well, guess the intel wasn't as good as hoped."
Din assured Hunter of their situation. Or tried to, without too much luck as Hunter just kept on glaring at him.
"But we can figure this out, right?"
Din looked at Hunter who seemed to be fuming. But it was more than that though. As it was just then when the slicing headache hit him and Hunter grabbed his head.
"What's wrong hon?"
Din's tone immediately changed as he saw how pale Hunter had suddenly become. It took a moment before the realisation of Hunter's condition hit him though. Being well informed of the special skills of Hunter's by now, but also knowing there was a price to pay for having them.
"It's the magnetic fields, aren't they? They are causing you pain?"
Hunter could only nod slightly as the nausea hit him as soon as he tried to move his head.
"Dank Farrik! I should have realised that!"
Din cursed out loud and internally chastised himself for being such a kriffing idiot. Thinking they could simply get a way in the debris field without thinking of the consequences they might have on Hunter.
Din tried to assess Hunter's level of pain.
Hunter was silent for a long moment. Using his arsenal of methods to try to push the pain and nausea away. Managing in it somewhat, though breathing techniques and using the familiar internal mantra to calm himself down. But he still felt the ugly tingling sensations all over his body. Like hot needles pricking him.
Din moved his hand onto Hunter's strained shoulder in the efforts of trying calm him down somewhat. Or at least hoping to do so. Usually it had worked. Then again, this was a new situation for Din in regards of Hunter's enhancements. So not the same as having a wound to clean. At all.
What Din got was Hunter's attention at least. Hunter being able to move his head again. He was glaring back into Din's eyes. Hunter could see that Din wasn't actually as cool and calm about their situation as he had thought either. So guess it wasn't Din's MO after all to act so callously.
Din tried to apologise. Rather lamely too. But he was really scared for bringing this on Hunter. Not a proud moment for the mighty Mandalorian for sure.
Hunter sighed and placed his own hand on top of Din's.
"It's fine. I guess, I just overreacted."
"But you are hurting."
Din's eyes darted over Hunter's as if trying to assess the level of pain Hunter was in right now.
Hunter forced a smile out. Even if it was bad, he did not want to admit as much. Not now, while they were in the middle of a mission and trying to escape some unknown enemy.
"I will be fine."
Din did not believe Hunter though. But there was really nothing they could do right now. With the hostiles most likely still lurking out there, they needed to wait a while before trying to make their escape.
"How long do you think you can hold up here before it gets really bad?"
Din could only yield for now and hope Hunter could cope and assess his ability to control the pain. Then again, Hunter had crash landed a ship and survived and hardly complained even then. So, Din wanted to trust him on this.
"A while. I can control it for now."
Hunter assured the man.
"And you, are forgiven."
Hunter could not be mad a Din. Not with the puppy dog eyes glaring ever so sadly at him right now. A very reminder of Echo, using the exact same expression when he had wanted something from Hunter.
Hunter had also realised that they needed to find a more common way of working out in the field if this mission was going to succeed. As clearly, they had slightly different methods of doing things. As this little stint of theirs had already proven.
Din let out a small smile and drew Hunter in for a soft kiss.
Hunter looked at Din with a question mark written in his expression. Then again, his head wasn't all that bad now. Must've been the kiss doing miracles for him.
"For understanding me. And for forgiving me, of course."
"We are good."
Hunter assured Din then, not wanting to worry his partner more than he already seemed to be.
"Guess we should try our chances soon?"
Din was trying to look out from the viewport to see if there was anyone out there. After all, they had not heard any blaster fire in a while now.
Hunter really wanted to leave before the headaches returned. Rather taking his chances with he enemy out there than the slicing pain.
Din took the copilot's seat. Then turned to Hunter.
"As soon as we are out of this debris, we need to make a few calls to a few friends and try figure this out."
Din was in full working mode once again, seeing as Hunter was all better and the shock of what had happened was subsiding. After all, Din had a few contacts he knew he could use in trying to sort out what had possibly gone wrong. People he rarely used due to certain reasons. But this situation surely warranted using them now.
Because Din was karked of what had happened and also angry at Boba for sending them on this half-cocked op. And he also suspected Boba had known some of the so called unforeseen variables weren't as thought out as he had liked the two of them to believe.
They were back in open space again. The Gauntlet flying with top speed as they were en route back to the initially designated coordinates to finally make their pick up. Or at least hoping to do just that. As there were plenty of obstacles on their way.
After losing their tail having taken a slight detour after leaving the safety of the asteroid field they were closing in on the extraction place. It was a wonder there had been no further incidents with whomever it was who had attacked them earlier. But being the wiser from their initial mistake of simply flying to the planet where their supposed target was kept, Din and Hunter had decided on a more careful approach this time around.
It also seemed, that they had underestimated the value of this person Boba wanted. As clearly there were plenty of bounty hunters circling like brezaks around the planet. Boba having been rather sparse with this intel to begin with for the two. Finding it out the hard way had not been no cake walk, at all! Luckily though, seemed to have gotten away from their earlier pursuer and would reach the planet soon enough.
As it was, Din had managed to contact a former associate and they had shared the intel of whom their target really was. And it was no wonder there were several heavy hitters going for the same target Din and Hunter were after.
The Gauntlet was just entering the star system with only three planets. Then main one, their target, had three orbiting moons. One of which had an atmosphere on it. Din was manoeuvring the ship while Hunter was manning the cannons, having switched their positions.
"ETA in two minutes."
Din informed Hunter over the comms.
"Better keep your eyes peeled. We might get some company soon."
Hunter's soft voice sounded right back.
Din was taking precautions this time around. Taking the craft through the remnants of the ancient planetary debris field sprinkled around the planet and its moons rather than flying a straight line directly to the planet.
They were closing in with a much slower speed than Din would have liked. But it was a way to try to keep themselves undetected as long as possible. Sooner or later though, someone would catch them on their radars.
Hoping though it would take some time for them to catch on and locate the Gauntlet. And then they would be already gone. At least, that was the idea. Just as they had cleared the field and were on a more direct approach, the proximity alerts went off. The alerts blaring on the console.
"What the kriff!"
Din cursed as the red flashing lights kept on blinking and the radar was showing approaching ships verging in on their location.
"Hunter, we got company again!"
Din alerted the clone over comms.
Hunter was already prepped and ready to fire as soon as the targets were in weapons range.
"Here we go!"
Din pushed the vessel into a swift swing causing the small size craft to loop and their pursuers flying past them and when coming back up Hunter was able to send a volley of fire towards the other ship. The blasts sounding off of the ships shields, but not causing too much damage.
"Seems they have enhanced shielding."
Hunter alerted Din over the comms.
Din pulled another slick move just as the two ships they had detected were on approach towards them. Leaving Hunter once again firing the cannons at their attackers. But just like before, their weapons fire did not seem to have too much of an effect on the enemy vessels.
"What the kriff are those shields made off?"
Hunter's raised voice sounded over the comms soon after his last blast.
"Our cannons don't seem to make a single dent in them."
Hunter was also utterly frustrated. As it was not making any sense at all to him why they could not even make a dent on the attacking vessels.
"I see that. I don't think those are any bounty hunters either."
Din had quickly ran scans on the attacking ships and what the results were telling him was, that their enemy had too advanced shielding for any bounty hunter Din knew of. And he knew plenty of their lot.
Hunter was still firing, but the enemies were closing in no matter what manoeuvres Din pulled and the Gauntlet was getting several blows on herself as they weren't able to loose their pursuers this time around.
"We need to leave."
Din's voice was strained as he was pulling difficult manoeuvres trying to avoid some of the blaster fire. But it was also sound more worried than it had been so far.
Din was just about to pull the hyperspace switch to activate the drive when the Gauntlet shook with a sustained heavy hit onto her hull. Sending them and the craft hurling rapidly with all the alarms going off on the consoles.
"We are hit!"
Din half shouted over the comms.
Din was trying to read the gauges on the console panel but they were all spiking on red. Which was never a good sign. And certainly not now!
Before either of them could react, the Gauntlet was spinning out of control. And no matter what tricks Din tried to pull out from his sleeves, they were going down. More precisely, spiralling aimlessly towards one of the planet's moons.
Din shouted louder than needed to Hunter over the comms.
"We are going down!"
Blinking his eyes rapidly, Hunter was slowly coming back from the unconsciousness he had been in. Not really sure as to how long he had been under. But the images of what had happened were still flashing in his recent memory.
Hunter realised they were on the ground as the ship was not spinning any more rather seemed stationary. With a sting of pain and the taste of blood in his mouth Hunter then realised he was pinned down while still inside the gunners mount.
Hunter cursed out loud. Using the best words he had learnt from Din during their time together as he could not move at all and he was becoming more and more irritated of the very fact.
The cover over the mount was still intact thankfully. But he could see the ship was buried into the ground of the moon they had crash landed on.
"Great! Just what I needed! Another crash landing!"
Hunter was really irked of the whole mission, as one thing after another was going horribly wrong.
Hunter tried to wiggle out of the seat, but immediately the sting of pain on his leg got worse as he did so.
Hunter shouted out but the ship was eerie quiet now. The engines having shut down after touch down. And nothing was on. Not even a single beeping computer.
"Din, are you alright?"
Hunter tried again. But there was no response to his hails. He tried to push the comms button, but there was only static on the line in response.
Hunter cursed again. Which of course did not help his situation at all. As he was stuck. And it would take some doing in getting loose from the seat now all twisted and mangled.
As Hunter was doing his best in trying to get out of his situation. But, worse case scenarios were running through his mind. The reasons why Din had not answered his hails.
Hunter wiggled and shimmied and twisted. No matter the pain.
Then slowly but surely was getting loose from the seat. There was a big gush on his thigh, but at this point he simply did not care. The only thing on his mind was getting to Din. To help him because clearly the other man was in trouble.
With his heart pounding hard in his chest and sweat pouring over his face, Hunter still did not care. He needed to get off the trap he was in and get to Din. And with those thoughts in mind, Hunter was loose from the deadly grip of the gunners chair and limping his way back to the cockpit across the Gauntlet.
As he reached the pilot's chair, Hunter was surprised to find it empty. The chair spinning around its axis having gotten loose from the bolts on the floor.
Hunter's eyes darted all around the immediate area looking for any signs of Din. But the cockpit was empty. Void of its pilot. Hunter moved around the area as best as he could with his leg sending shots of pain thought to his brain.
Hunter's voice was sounding more desperate now.
"Din, where are you?"
Hunter's rough sounding voice asked. But there was really no place for Din to hide in the cockpit.
Hunter limped his way across the ship. Checking the small bunk area and galley. But there were no signs of Din anywhere.
He returned to the cockpit and glanced at the instruments. They were all shutdown now. But he tried the scanners and they jumped to life after a few trials on the switch. Just then, the life detector started blinking and Hunter could see four sets of signs blinking on the small screen.
Hunter looked out the cockpit's viewport but could not see anything from there.
Hunter checked the atmospheric readings next and could see this was the one moon suitable for breathing they had crashed on.
Without further doubts Hunter rushed out and scanned with his eyes for Din and the other life signs. And that was when he saw him. Din being dragged into a landed vessel by two humanoid life forms, the third standing at the hatch of the ship waiting for the others.
Just as Hunter was about to shout out and pounce after them, the other two had already hauled Din inside the ship and closed the hatch. Before Hunter could even react, his legs not wanting to cooperate at all, the vessel took off. Leaving Hunter alone with a wrecked ship. And no Din.
A pained sigh escaped Hunter's lips as he fell onto the ground, his legs giving away under him.
All alone again, and in a dire need of friends
'Sometimes the fear of loosing can drive one to do unusual things, but trying one's damnedest to hold on to something already lost, can be more frightening than the actual loss'
Seeing Din being hauled away by the strangers had been heartbreaking.
Hunter had wanted to go after them. Badly. Unfortunately, he had been too late while being trapped inside their crashed ship and only getting out in time to witness the man he loved being taken away.
And so, there was really nothing Hunter could have done except to watch his heart being lifted up and into space. Slowly but surely. Watching the enemy vessel take off into hyperspace with Hunter standing helpless and tear eyed on the quiet moon's surface without any means to go after them.
Hunter, was in a lot of pain and not just because of his injury.
After some excruciatingly painful effort on Hunter's side, he had been able to patch up his gaping and gushing leg wound despite being half woozy of the blood loss.
Having rummaged through the Gauntlet, finally finding a med kit with the minimal things he needed to get himself in working order. It wasn't much he had found, Din clearly having neglected to restock the kit, but it did not matter now. As long as the bleeding had stopped. Hunter, could deal with the physical pain at least.
The most important thing for Hunter at the very moment was simply being able to function. Trying hard to push all his personal feelings and emotions aside and simply concentrate on the repairs. The means to escape the prison of a moon the mission, the place they had landed on having turned out to have become as.
There was too much to do to get the ship in the kind of shape she would be able to fly at least. And Hunter suspected too little time to do it too, fearing Din's life might be in grave danger.
Still, Hunter tried to console himself of the fact, that if they, whomever they were as Hunter wasn't all that privy to the various fractions out there in this new world order. But, he simply had to think, that if these, people, had wanted Din dead, then they would have killed him right then and there. Hunter as well.
But that had not happened. As they had not even looked for anyone else. Or so it seemed from Hunter's perspective. Or then, they had thought him to be dead already?
As to the reasons why Din had been taken? Well those were still unknown. As clearly, they wanted Din for some reason and not Hunter. Still, Hunter was not going to get the answers he needed nor Din back while sitting on his lazy shebs inside the broken ship.
And so for now, all the speculation wasn't going to get him anywhere. No. Hunter needed to inspect and repair the Gauntlet.
So, back to work it was for Hunter. Setting all the pain and conflicting feelings festering inside of him aside. Because Hunter was doing this, for Din. To get Din back. Damn the mission! Damn Boba for sending them on this half-cocked op! Damn this, timeline!
As it turned out, the ship had pretty much lost all power. And Hunter needed to figure out the reason for it. That meant he needed to wobble about on the inside and outside of the craft to determine just that. The tools, like mobile scanners were still working, thankfully. While pretty much everything else in the cockpit was shot or at least, not getting the much needed juice to power up. Not even the long range communication console was working.
Hunter had to venture back to the outside to check what the damage was and then having patched up the few holes he had found there. Some of the wiring had gotten loose while the panels of said holes had blown off due to being hit by blaster fire and being the cause of the power outage.
Luckily though, and thanks to some last minute manoeuvring, not to mention all the upgrades done on the Gauntlet, the ship had come out of the crash pretty much unscathed. Part from the few holes of course. Then again, one could never tell without a complete overhaul of the vessel. There could easily be loose circuits and whatnots the scanners did not pickup on, nor the visual inspection Hunter had done.
After making sure the things Hunter could fix were done, just enough to make her space worthy and to be able to fly back to Tatooine.
Hunter ventured back to the cockpit and tried to power up the ship. But, the engines were not turning. There was a rough shake and a cough of the Gauntlet and then it all died down again.
Hunter let out a frustrating curse and several more in an angry spew of words. Followed only by several pleads to the universe to let him off the hook and make the ship working.
Finally, after several attempts of trying to jump start the ship's engines, the lights started flickering on one by one on the consolers and the engines hummed to life. Staying on even.
"Thank the Maker!"
Hunter was only too glad he would not get stuck on the desolate moon, as it would just have been too much at the very moment.
Of course it wasn't easy for Hunter to just up and leave and not try to find Din by himself. Far from it.
But with the mostly busted up ship despite his best efforts to patch it up. And with no knowledge of where and whom had taken the Mandalorian even. Not being too familiar with the inner workings of the bounty hunter business nor this era even. Well, it was all adding up.
And for that? Well, Hunter knew he needed help.
So, with a lost lover, a failed mission and a bruised ego, not to mention a gaping hole on his leg. Hunter decided to tuck tail and fly back to Tatooine.
Plotting his heading back to Boba's place. As Hunter needed Boba's and Fennec's help in trying to figure out who had captured Din.
Sending silent prayers to the Force to keep Din safe before Hunter was able to rescue him.
Pushing through hyper space in no time at all, having made the Gauntlet's engines almost burn up in the process. Because Hunter was a man on a mission. And in very of a need in getting back to Tatooine as soon as possible to get back on his rescue efforts for Din.
As the Gauntlet flew into the hangar bay of the Palace, it was coughing and shaking badly while making a landing. Boba and Fennec were already there to greet him. Hunter having raised Boba over the comms on his way back to let him know what had happened.
During the communication while still on the way, Boba and Hunter had had a slight blow off. As in not seeing eye to eye with the current situation. Neither of the mission nor Din.
"You care more about your precious position than you care about your friends."
Hunter had argued when Boba had taken the news rather lightly that someone, possibly bounty hunters, had taken Din.
"Look, I could not have known there were heavy hitters going after the target. Din knew the risks."
Boba had tried to defend his position. Alas, Hunter was angry, fuming even. And he could easily argue with the best when he wanted to. And boy, did he want to argue with Boba just then.
"No! You sent us on a fools errant! Willingly and knowingly what was lurking out there, for us!"
Hunter's voice had raised several octaves, sounding more than just angry. Because he was, totally mad at the point in time. More so because Boba did not even seem fazed by the fact that Din had been captured.
"How could I have known? The intel was what it was and I know you have both gone after something with less than that!"
Boba knew he was loosing this argument. But that did not deter him from defending his actions either. And clearly, Boba did not want to take blame for something which wasn't his fault. Not really, right? After all, the intel was, well, flimsy at best and the target was a high valued one.
But Boba had not excepted it to be this hard to get to them either. Seeing as this being something of a personal betrayal targeted at him in particular, by his so called associates, who had acquired the intel for Boba in the first place.
"You should have double checked. Din is your friend and now he is out there! Force knows where and… "
Hunter did not even dare finishing that sentence. No! Hunter did not want to go there. He needed to think Din was alive and they would find him. Hunter, would find Din.
Boba tried to sound assuring all of a sudden. Desperately trying to calm Hunter down. Trying to speak just the right words Hunter needed to hear at that moment.
Boba, realising that fighting about what had happened was moot and would not result to anything good at all.
The truth was, that Boba valued Din and Hunter and even if he wasn't good in the tell and show where it came to relationships, Boba still cared for those closest to him.
"We'll figure this out. Fennec is already making use of her contacts and finding out what happened. Come back here and we'll sort this out. I promise."
There wasn't much else Hunter could do though. As he needed Boba's and Fennec's help to find out where Din was. So, yielding for now, was his only choice, no matter how much this all irked him.
Was all Hunter uttered before turning off the communications channel. Still, fuming in his seat with the pain and worry of his partner as he flew back towards Tatooine.
With a med kit in her hand Fennec took Hunter by his arm and guided him to sit on the bench before any words were even exchanged.
"We don't have time for this."
Hunter was positively growling, sounding totally feral, as he did not want to waste time, but wanted to get back on the road as quickly as possible.
"You are hurt, and I can see it's bad."
Fennec wasn't fazed by the noises Hunter was making though. She simply informed him of what needed to be done. Then running the medical scanner assessing Hunter's condition before digging into the med kit for the stuff she needed to patch the grouchy man up.
"Now, hold still so I can treat you."
It was an order, clearly, and Hunter could do little but to obey.
Was the only thing Hunter could respond, albeit snidely, as there was no arguing with Fennec, clearly.
It took only a few moments before Fennec had cleaned and made a better patch up job of Hunter's wound than Hunter had managed himself while on the moon.
But now Hunter had been taken care of. Having gotten some mild pain killers into his system to deal with the pain as well.
Boba approached the duo and glanced at Hunter.
"How are you doing?"
Boba glanced at Fennec as well, who simply nodded to Boba. Their usual non-verbal conversation as Hunter had come to understand. Much like it was with him and Din too.
"So, you think you can make it on another mission then?"
Boba asked coyly, knowing it was moot to even put the question out there for Hunter. Still, he had done it. Just because, conversion and all that and to make sure they were still on the same page. Adding only:
"My ship is already prepped and ready whenever you are."
"What do you think?"
Hunter's tone was clipped and the words coming out rather snarky too. Hunter did not want to start yet another argument. Not now. Him and Boba could clear the air later. Now, all that mattered, was Din.
Hunter got up with a slight groan and a wince of his body but soon recovered his stance.
"Let's go already!"
Boba smirked and glanced at Fennec who simply gave him an expression saying more than words, as to what she thought about the whole situation.
After all, Fennec, apparently, had warned Boba about the mission. Something with Hunter had overheard the two of them talking about while he was on his way out of the Gauntlet and catching just the end of said conversation. Something Hunter had made a mental note to ask about later too.
Before they entered Boba's ship thought, he halted and seemed rather hesitant. Making Hunter stop his progress as well, waiting for Boba to spill it out as clearly, he needed to say something to Hunter.
"Um, there seems to be… a bounty on Din's head."
Boba spoke then, knowing Hunter needed to hear the truth just the same before they left. And Hunter, was surprised to hear this piece of news, as suspected. Boba and Fennec too, had been surprised.
"The ex-imps want him for taking their price away from them."
Boba explained further. Or at least, he tried to.
Hunter was not following this piece of news. At all.
"Yeah, the Kid. Grogu."
Fennec piled on then, seeing as Boba was not being as quick and forthcoming with his answers at the moment.
"They needed him for some experiments. Cloning most likely as the grapevine was broadcasting."
Fennec clarified. Or tried to at least. Seemed the whole cloning op was a reoccurring theme, no matter what time they lived in.
Hunter was stumped. Not just to hear about that. But also, that it had involved Din's son somehow.
"Yeah cloning, something you and I are quite familiar with."
Boba stated flatly this time. Clearly none too happy about it either. It had already been done and it was all yesterday's news in his mind.
"But I thought the imps hated clones."
Hunter sounded even more baffled in hearing about it.
"Yeah? Well, guess they changed their minds. Go figure!"
Boba wasn't as privy to the cloning methods the imperials had done in the past, nor did he care to be. As far as Boba was concerned, all that was in the past. Done for the Republic army and all. But clearly, it was not the case as the ol' mighty holo-net grapevine was telling them.
"But the Kid, he is a Jedi, right?"
Of course Din had told Hunter all about Grogu. Well, most of it. But this cloning thing was news.
"Well, in training. A Padawan really. Or half kind of… as Din wants him to take the creed too. So a hybrid I guess? It's a tad confusing, really."
Boba was well aware of the kind of a power struggle having happened between Luke Skywalker and Din on how to raise the Kid. Even if Grogu was perfectly capable of making his own mind. But the two of them had come to some consensus, a middle ground of it all after some time. And so now, Grogu was being trained in both Jedi and Mandalorian beliefs.
"So, the imps want to clone a Jedi now?"
Hunter was pretty sure he had gotten the gist of the issue presented. But as to the why and why a Jedi? Well it was all so… well contrary to the past, really now wasn't it.
"Something like that, yes."
Fennec had of course heard the stories too and even seen some of the evidence for herself.
"And the imps think they can get to the Kid? Through Din?"
Hunter tried to clarify the reason behind the capture, not sure why they would need Din otherwise.
"I guess. But who knows of their motives. Grogu being with Skywalker now, makes it rather difficult for them."
Boba stated flatly. Having really no fondness for the imps any more. Never really had is it had all been just a job for him really.
"But we have good intel of where Din is being held."
Hunter did not trust this, supposed good intel. At all! It was the exact same supposed 'good intel' which had gotten them in trouble in the first place.
Some things really never changed no matter what time it was they were living in.
It seemed everyone and their tooka had their own agenda. And also their reasons to lie and cheat. Just for the sake of a few credits or then to gain a little power over someone else.
"We better hurry the kark up then won't we!"
Hunter was done talking.
He wanted to believe the intel was as good as they all hoped it to be. But they needed to leave. Now! Before it was too late. For Din, for any of them.
Kriffing future and ex-imps!
Before they reached the ship, Boba turned to Hunter halting him again.
"Look, I am sorry about what happened and I want to make this right."
Boba's voice was soft and he truly felt bad about the whole situation.
Having clearly underestimated some of the others out there, their agenda. The ex-imps and all. Not to mention the value of the target Boba was after. But Boba also knew he should have known better. Really should have. Known better.
Live and learn, right?
Hunter did not sound so sincere though, while accepting the sorry excuse of an apology from Boba.
But right now, Hunter wanted to be on the move. Explanations, apologies, arguments? Those could all wait. As right now, they needed to go. And quickly!
The three of them boarded the ship as the Slave One started to hum, its engines coming online.
With Boba at the helm, taking off from the hangar and into flight. Exiting the planet and taking into outer space in a fast speed. Jumping into the hyperspace corridor as soon as they had cleared the atmosphere of the planet.
"Are you sure these are the coordinates?"
Hunter sounded frustrated as they approached the location which was supposed to be that of some ex-imperial hide out. But only seeing a dense forest area ahead of them and no life signs popping up on their scanners either.
Boba punched in a few buttons on his own hud simply to validate the equipment was working there as on the ships's consoles as well.
"This is the place."
Boba glanced over to Fennec as it was her sources who had gotten the intel of this particular location.
"Don't look at me!"
Fennec immediately retorted in defence.
"The intel is as reliable as they come."
After all, this wasn't the first time their supposed great sources had given out totally bad intel.
"So what now?"
Hunter asked, not familiar with the duos MO during missions like this. Or really at all.
"We go and check it out. After all, we come all this way and I would hate it to be for nothing. Simple as that."
Simple as that. Right?
"Simple as that?"
Hunter repeated the sentiment. Because this was nothing even close to simple. Especially when there were imperials in the mix. Ex or not.
Fennec piled on. But she really did not sound as sure as Boba seemed to have been.
Hunter did not seem too keen on wasting time on a planet clearly void of life. But then again, this was not his first dance and would not be his last either. As usually, empty, never meant empty, no matter how it might have looked like it.
Intel could easily be wrong, that was a given thing. But Hunter had been there before.
And so, going to check the planet out just the same somehow became more of the better option for him as well. Nodding his response only as Boba started their descent to the planet side.
"Let's fan out."
Boba ordered the other two, taking the lead while on the planet.
"Be careful out there."
He did not really have to remind the other two though. Well. They were all reckless, that much was given. But, just the same.
The trio stepped out from the landed vessel and quickly made their own way around the area.
Each of them scanning the surroundings. Not wanting to wander off too far from each other even if there were no visible signs of danger. Still with their combined experience, knowing well, that something seemingly on the level, never really was just that.
It did not take long for Hunter, while using his heightened senses, was able to detect something the instruments did not. Running his hand on the dirt, he could sense it. Taste it almost.
A low level electric current running below the ground.
Hunter raised his arm to indicate there was something he had found. Quickly joined by Fennec and Boba at his location.
"What is is?"
Fennec's tone was hushed now.
"There is something running beneath this place, all over here."
Hunter motioned the ground around them. And then glanced up at the other two.
"Does not seem natural at all. Expanding around some five hundred metre radius in each direction."
Hunter pointed with his hand the area he had found so far emanating the electrical current.
Fennec ran a scanner and shook her head then.
"I cannot see anything on the scanner."
"It's your special ability isn't it?"
This was the first time Boba was witnessing what his younger brother was capable of.
"Yes. And those vibrations I am sensing are nothing I have felt on any regular uninhabited planet before."
He clearly could tell the difference. Impressing both Boba and Fennec in the process.
"A underground hidden base?"
Was Fennec's first thought.
"Would not be the first one."
Hunter retorted snidely, having found plenty a similar sites in his past.
Boba seemed to contemplate for a moment but then made his decisions.
"Alright, then we will look for any signs of man made objects around this area. Doorways or other kind of entrances."
Fennec and Hunter nodded. The three of them spreading out in the direction of Hunter's findings to look for any and all ways to get inside the assumed base hidden below the ground.
It did not take them long to find a hidden entrance after all.
Or rather a shaft of sorts. Something which through the three of them could easily fit and make their way into whatever was waiting for them down there.
Hunter slid himself inside first and Fennec next while Boba held the rear. They glided down the tunnel like shaft. Landing onto solid in no time and finding themselves indeed inside of an underground base.
The coordinates had definitely been right and there was something down there. Built deep inside the ground, clearly not wanting anyone with spying eyes showing up and ogling on whatever they had going on there.
Something certainly, which did not survive the light of day. And that usually meant that whomever was doing Force knew what in the place, were up to no good.
But at this point, the only thing which kept Hunter going, was the need to find Din.
His heart was racing of the mere thought of what they, whomever they might just be, were doing to him.
And Hunter was going to make them pay if they had hurt Din.
He only hoped they weren't too late to the rescue. Then again, Boba had told Hunter, that there was a high value bounty on the Mandalorian. So killing him was not good for business.
And with that thought in mind, Hunter continued progressing deeper into the base, with Boba and Fennec in tow.
Just one rescue mission turning into another
'Love, love, love - seemingly the one simple, the one single constant in the galaxy, which keeps most of us going on'
The three rescuers had landed at the bottom of the very pit. Inside a small size closet, of sorts when sliding down the narrow tube of the hatch they had found on the top of the ground.
Luckily they had found a door there too, which had led them out and into the adjacent hallway. It was there were the trio found themselves in the middle of a junction split into three separate corridors.
They were all dimly lit, with no other sounds to be heard except the constant hum of something reminiscent of machines being run constantly. Hunter could feel the electrical vibrations more clearly now and they were making the back of his teeth vibrate. Not a good place to be for a hyper sensitive person that he was, at all.
"Well, at least we found the place!"
Hunter's tone was becoming more and more snarky, with the stimuli all around getting on his sensitive nerves and becoming more than he could handle.
"It seems to be some kind of facility run in need of great power. Because the machines run here are massive if the electrical current is any indication of it."
Hunter shared the other two of what he was sensing of the place.
"A laboratory perhaps?"
Fennec suggested. As it was, they had not excepted anything of this volume while still up and out there on the ground. Then again, had they really expected anything except maybe a few ex-imps and a bounty hunter at best they would be facing?
"Yes, but for what?"
Hunter glanced around, trying to get a reading on his helmet scanner as well. But so far, there seemed to be lots of interference run through the overall space and nothing proper was popping up on any of their scans. So, they could only rely on Hunter's senses at this point. Which was most likely better than any scanner anyway.
"I cannot say. The scanners aren't that specific. At all."
Fennec sounded rather annoyed after having constantly ran the scans but really not getting anything cohere.
"There is some kind of a dampening field around the overall area. Packs quite the electricity too. One could easily get electrocuted in if running into it."
She was looking at the small screen on her wrist and was only too glad the shaft they had come through had not been inside of the field.
"I can feel it. It's like ants crawling on my skin."
Hunter enlightened the other two of how he felt at the moment. Then again, despite his discomfort, he was most likely their best scanner.
"Your enchanted senses?"
Fennec wasn't sure if she was following. But most likely bet it was.
"You can really sense it? The dampening field even?"
"Yeah. All of it." Hunter replied. "It's still tolerable." He assured Fennec then. "But if it gets any tenser, then no. I will go into shock." Hunter warned the other two.
Boba and Fennec nodded in understanding, not that they had any idea how it really felt. Not really, as neither were having similar specialities themselves. Not that they envied Hunter either. Not at the moment at least.
"Let us know if it gets too much to handle."
Fennec urged Hunter, only too worried that the clone would not be able to handle their being inside the field, but that he was also too stubborn to think of his own discomfort.
"Don't worry. I will."
It wasn't Hunter's first time with such sensations after all. Having gotten rather used to such things in his life. Having even managed to develop a few counter measures of his own. But most likely Hunter would enjoy a big fat headache after the mission was over if nothing else.
"Which way should we go from here?"
Boba was ready to move on already, but Fennec being in charge of the scanners and all and Hunter basically the only one who was able to guide them… well, he just had to follow the other two's lead.
Fennec made a new sweep and pointed at the third route of the junctions they had landed onto.
"This way." Fennec said. "It is the one with several life signs ahead." The scanners working to at least on some level. "The other points seem void of them."
Fennec glanced at Hunter, waiting for him to use his senses. And he did, nodding to Fennec's assessment of things.
The three of them then started quickly on their way towards whatever was waiting for them at the other end of the corridor. It did not seem too heavily guarded though, having only a few life signs popping up on the detectors.
Having made their way through the long hallway, the trio had entered an area filled with heavy duty machinery spread wide across a large space. It was dimly lit and they could not really see what was behind the large hall if anything.
"There is too much interference here for the scanners to work."
Fennec tried to use the device punching the buttons in frustration a little too hard.
"My senses are getting mixed signals too."
Hunter was trying to use his ability, but the inference was present there as well.
"There is way too much input here for me to handle."
"Must be the whatever they use to dampen the detection of this facility. The source being setup in here."
Fennec glanced around the immediate area, trying to make some sense of it all.
"We need to split up to cover more ground."
Boba suggested to the other two. Nodding each of them took to their way from the very left, through middle and then to right, making their way in stealth mode between the various machines there keeping the noise level steady.
Passing through the large size machines, they soon found themselves in an open area, coming together again. There was nothing to be seen there though, except a number of doorways and entrances on the opposite wall some distance away from where they had remained standing.
Boba was getting only shaking heads in response at first.
Fennec however tried the scanners once again, just to be sure.
"No. Nothing. I cannot get an exact reading of the life signs anymore either."
"Where did they go?"
Boba sounded more than confused.
"You said they were mostly stationary, right? Earlier?"
"Cannot say for sure as to the why. I think they might still be in there, but the dampening field is messing up the readings."
Fennec reminded Boba of what they had already detected before arriving to the machine room of sorts.
Just then something rattled close by. A noise of sorts.
Hunter ordered in a raspy whisper, the three quickly ducking down trying to find cover in the shadows of the room.
Hunter made a few hand signals and pointed at the far left entrance.
The other two nodded and followed Hunter's moves as he plotted a safe way across the seemingly empty area towards the direction of the sound.
Reaching a set of closed double doors leading to an area which had no windows to peek through.
Hunter concentrated for a moment before he nodded to the other two. Indicating it was the place he had heard the sounds coming from. Fennec immediately took her position by the door panel, quickly hacking the door open. Boba and Fennec remained on either side of the doors, while Hunter took lead and entered first, the other two following suit.
They quickly covered the area finding no one there. Not even one single life sign, not to mention a person. Reconvening to the same spot they had started at by the doorway.
Hunter's voice was a whisper, but it still sounded disappointed.
"I was sure…"
Hunter paused as he honed in on something. Something which he had already detected earlier, something which was calling to him. But seeing it clearly, had been rather difficult. Until now.
Hunter moved away from the other two and made his way back to what seemed to be just a wall. But, as Hunter felt his way across the flat surface with his hands he could sense it. Hunter, could sense them. As his senses were working on double time now, Hunter started seeing better too. And he could see there were panels there, hiding something beneath them.
"Here, behind the wall!"
Hunter shouted out loud to the other two who were by his side in no time.
"Do you see any control panels?"
Hunter asked the other two, both Boba and Fennec started glancing around looking for any.
Fennec moved to a control panel close by and hacked into it.
Soon enough, there was a hissing noise and the panels started sliding away from the wall, revealing what was behind them. Five chambers. Filled with some kind of liquid and… people.
"Are they still… alive?"
Boba was eyeing the pods rather suspiciously.
Fennec who had found the computer console was able read the various life monitors there.
"They are. All five of them."
The wall of liquid pods were now fully exposed for all to see.
Hunter's eyes made a quick survey of the contents of them. Despite the murkiness making it none too easy to see what really was on the inside. But Hunter spotted the one he had needed to. The one he had been here to find.
Hunter pointed at the one he wanted to be opened, half shouting the order to Fennec to get a move on doing just that.
Fennec, who was still manning the various console levers of the controlling computer, quickly checked the number marked on the pod itself and found the corresponding lever on the console before pulling it.
The pod nudged forward from the row and made its way to the front hissing as it did. With an impatient Hunter already standing in front of it, only waiting to get his hands on the content.
The pod stopped moving. And with a loud noise released the contents followed by an even louder splash, spilling it all to the floor. Clearly this was not the way they were made to be opened, at all. But at this point, Hunter did not care. Even if he got some of the spill onto his armour in the process.
Soon enough, the unconscious body of Din's came to view. Hanging there inside the empty pod, like a piece of meat with tubes attached to his body.
Hunter tried to glance all around him, but could not make heads nor tails if it was safe to remove the cables or not.
Hunter was trying to feel for anything inside the pod, but there was nothing there to release them either.
"Can you find something there which detaches these, um, tubes?"
"Hold on a sec."
Fennec stated and feverishly searched on the panel. Trying to read the rather non-descriptive notes below the levers and various buttons. Pushing a few buttons in error, before finding the correct one.
The cables hissed as they popped off, making the body of Din's lurch forward out of its own accord. But Hunter was there to capture him. His voice a low whisper he spoke to the still unconscious man.
"I've got you hon. I've got you."
Hunter grabbed the seemingly lifeless body and gently placed it onto the floor. Feeling Din's pulse he found the faint beat there. Letting out a breath he had been holding while searching for any and all life signs of his partner.
Meanwhile Boba was standing guard at the entrance to the pod room.
"Can you hurry it up?"
Boba pressured the other two. Only too worried there might be company soon enough. As they had been pretty loud in there while releasing the pod. And someone was surely bound to come and have a look-see as to what was going on.
"Doing the best I can."
Hunter half shouted to Boba.
"Din is still pretty much out of it."
"Um, gents, there is something else too you might want to see."
Fennec had been checking the computer files had found something interesting there.
Boba joined her and read the names of the people inside the pods. One name in particular jumped up.
Boba paused and glanced at Fennec.
Fennec finished the thought for him.
"Why are they held in here?"
Boba could not form any kind of idea as to why the people on the list, let along Din were held inside the suspended animation pods.
"Clearly, this is some kind of lab. But as to the what? Well, I have no idea as to the reasoning behind it."
Fennec still baffled even if she had been able to cypher some of the files by now.
"Can we copy any of this content here?"
Boba knew Fennec was apt with tech and she could pretty much hack into anything, especially these days, having gotten some training from two very knowledgeable people.
"I can try."
Fennec pulled the data storage device from her vest then.
"I will do my best."
Simply informing Boba, knowing she most likely could, download some of it anyway.
Boba nodded only.
"Meanwhile, we better defrost the rest of these people and take them with us."
Boba's comment or rather sounding more like an order came much to Hunter's surprise.
Hunter could not really be sure if he had heard correctly. His mind on Din and on him alone, while still hovering over Din trying to figure a way to get him back to the land of living.
"We are taking these… all of them, with us."
Boba sounded adamant though, clearly in charge now.
"But, we don't have the time."
Hunter thought Boba was way over his head on this one. Being more worried of Din than the rest of them. Even if Hunter knew deep down, Boba was not wrong.
"Fennec, process the other chambers."
Boba ordered, clearly not in the mood of debating this with Hunter. At all.
Fennec simply nodded and started the process. The pods starting to hiss, one by one, opening up the contents like they had done with Din's pod.
They now had five people on their hands.
The lot of them in various stages of consciousness after having been released from the chambers they had been held in. Din was more alert than the rest of them at this point, having been taken out first.
Din was under the care of the over protective Hunter. Who had been fussing over him, while the Mandalorian was trying to slowly put on some clothing which Fennec had luckily found in the close by closets. Their capturers having ever so thoughtfully stored all of the pod people's gear.
"I am telling you Hunter, I am alright."
Din did not really mind all the hovering Hunter was doing. No, he was rather enjoying the man he was only too fond (in love with) taking care of him. But still, trying to assure the worried Hunter he was alright. At least on most levels.
"I am totally fine."
"Well, I cannot see any injuries, at least on the surface."
Hunter had found a medical scanner and had been running scans on Din quite a few times already. Just to be sure. But still, Hunter was not satisfied Din was alright.
"Hunter, I assure you, I, am fine."
Din just had to laugh.
"Shouldn't you be helping them instead of fussing over me."
Din nodded towards Fennec and Boba who had their hands full with the other four.
"Nah, they can manage."
Hunter was sure of it, mostly anyway.
Din then glanced around the space, not really having any memory of how he had ended up in there. Nor whom the other people were either.
"Where are we anyway?"
"A remote outpost, beyond the Rim."
Hunter told Din as much then, still eyeing the man for any signs of trouble.
"We still haven't figured out as to whom is running this facility. But Fennec downloaded some files from the computers over there."
Hunter nodded in the general direction where the consoles were at.
"Oh, and we found out there is a large size bounty on you."
Hunter glanced back at Din who looked surprised in hearing this piece of news. Din was quiet for a moment running through some things in his head, putting two and three together, as it were.
"It must be the imps."
Din finally spoke out loud again.
"I thought the Empire was long since gone."
Hunter reminded Din, even if Hunter was privy to all the sordid stories and knowing for a fact that there were still plenty of ex-imperials running amok in the wide of the galaxy. Unfortunately.
"No, there are remnants out there and they are up to something. I almost lost Grogu to them."
Din sounded wistful just then.
"I remember you telling me a little about it."
Hunter sat down beside Din, finally stopping his hovering over the man, satisfied Din was somewhat alright now.
"Yeah, it was't a good time back then."
Din shook his head, thinking back to the agony and anguish he had been put through when Moff Gideon had kidnapped Grogu.
"But we managed to pull through and I never thought I would run into them again, not like this anyway."
"Well, luckily we found you and you are alright."
Hunter smiled and placed an arm around Din.
"Boba found his target there too."
Hunter nodded toward the other people who were all clearly starting to feel themselves as well.
"So, not all was lost after all."
"Why would they place the target in these pods?"
Din questioned, even if he knew none of his friends would have an answer to that.
"I mean, they were a politician right?"
Din was sure it was the case. Feeling a tad fuzzy still on the details.
"And why place us, any of us, inside these, cryo pods? Seems totally odd if there was a bounty on us? Or at least some of us?"
Din sounded totally confused about the whole ordeal and he wasn't alone in his confusion either.
"I am not sure. But this whole operation? Well it seems so totally off. On so many levels."
Hunter had not had too much time to think about what this all meant. As his main worry had been getting Din back. The rest of it could wait to be solved at some later point. Smiling at Din he pulled the other man tightly against himself. Almost afraid to let Din out of his sight or let go of him now that Din was back in his arms.
"But I have you back now and that is all that matters."
Getting a smile out of Din after saying it. A loving smile.
"So, ready to start heading out of here?"
Hunter asked glancing at the door again, something he had done several times already, keeping an eye on all the exits.
"I am surprised nobody has barged in here so far."
Hunter was. Totally so. But clearly, whomever was in charge of this place had not bothered placing too many guards in there, if any at all.
Hunter glanced at Din again, who seemed to be deep in thought all of a sudden.
As it was, Din was reminded of what they had seen while back on Nevarro running an op there. The cloning tubes they had seen there, which kind of reminded him… of these ones here.
Din cursed rather loudly.
"I've seen these kinds of chambers before."
Din looked up at wide eyed Hunter, with his eyes darting over the other man's stare.
Not this again! What's with all the cloning anyway?
'Making replicas of oneself can be fun, right? As who would not love to have a pretty mini-me of the most perfect person in the whole wide galaxy?'
"People! We have incoming!"
Hunter alerted the others after keeping careful watch over their egress.
"Everyone! We need move! Right now!"
Hunter was in full command mode. Taking charge over the mission as clearly neither Boba nor Fennec were watching their sixes.
Rather the dynamic duo having fussed over the four rescued pod people for whatever reason Hunter had yet to fathom as neither of them were really the nurturing kind. While Din was in no position to lead anyone even if he was slowly but surely shaking off the having been frozen and inside of a cryo tube. Hunter had been aiding Din to some extent, all the while keeping an eye their only way out to the lab.
So it was up to Hunter take the lead.
Boba and Fennec quickly rushed the four other rescued captives to get dressed and ready to leave despite none of them being quite up to par for much than wobbling around, unsure as to how they had ended up in where they were now.
But there was no choice but to hurry now, even if it meant fumbling about and rush from the area half dressed! Hunter could sense the incoming people already being close, even if their scanners were hardly registering the arrivals. And so, all of them needed to make their exit as soon as possible in fear of being detected and re-captured.
"Are you sure this is the way out?"
Hunter asked Fennec the umpteenth time, Fennec having hacked into the facility's system in trying to figure a better exit for them all than the one they had entered the building. As it was, climbing up the slippery tube was not a really good choice. For any of them. As most likely the rescued people were unable to climb anyway.
"According to the holo map I found of this place in the databanks, it's the only real entrance and exit to this place. Although there is no way of telling whether it is guarded or not."
Bob had already hurried the others they had found to get in line and ready to leave.
"Is there a way to disable the force field around this place"
Din had to ask, after having learnt about if from Hunter. Knowing it would hinder their escape.
This was a time when Hunter really missed his old squad. Not that Hunter did not miss them all each and every day. But with Tech and Echo at his side right now? Well, they would have already found a better way in handling their escape, that much was sure.
Alas, they were not here. Hunter was and his new friends were there now. And so, with that in mind, Hunter knew he needed to rely on this group of people in the here and now. To adapt into new ways of doing things.
Fennec, who seemed the most apt in handling anything computer related was a Force sent in Hunter's mind right now. And trusting her, even if he was double checking the facts, was something Hunter decided to do.
"No, not from these consoles here. They are controlled by separate consoles by the exit itself."
Fennec told the three of them after checking all the options on the computer in the lab.
"We have to cross that bridge when we get there."
Boba simply stated, trusting they would figure out a way no matter what.
"Come on. Those people manning this base, most likely guards, will be here soon enough."
Din urged the other gain. Being in full control of himself now, mostly so. And having donned his full armour, with his gear all set up and running, then having run scans with his HUD, the same life forms Hunter had sensed now closing in on them even faster than earlier.
"Any extra weapons on anyone they would care to share with the rest of us?"
One of the four asked then. Clearly the one looking like they were able bodied and ready to fend themselves. While the other three did not look too keen in taking up arms. Of any kind.
Din dug deep into his boot and pulled out a rather small size blaster pistol. Offering it to the rescued one making the query. Only to be receiving a coy smirk, simply because of the minuscule size of the weapon causing some doubt in their mind.
"Thanks? I think?"
"Don't let the size of that thing fool you. It packs quite the punch."
Din assured them then, understanding well the issue one might have with the blaster simply by looking at it. But thankfully, getting an approving nod as response as they accepted the weapon.
A few more scans were then done by Fennec, while trying to assess their situation a little better. Alas, there was nothing more to be seen there. Only the simple fact that there were life signs still on the approach towards their location.
"Everyone! Single file. Follow my lead. Radio silence from now on."
Hunter barked the orders for the rather mismatched looking group of rescues and their saviours. All of them totally eager and ready to leave the place behind. Quickly making their way out of the lab and into the adjacent corridor without further words. As being lead by Hunter and his hand signals.
Hunter, Din and the rest of them had left just a spell ahead of the base guards entering their former location. Only missing them by that much. Luckily for them.
As the guards entered the now deserted lab, they could see the pods fully exposed, empty and their captives, all but gone.
"Inform the magistrate."
The leader of the guards told their second.
"We have a breach."
And as soon as the orders were uttered, the alarms started blaring across the facility.
"They're onto us!"
Din stated the obvious as soon as the red klaxons started blasting all around them.
Hunter asked Fennec who was constantly checking their progress according the holo map she had downloaded onto her pad.
"Next corridor and to the left."
Fennec offered in response.
They were all moving quickly inside the seemingly endless corridor, half running, keeping their pace the best they could as the three rescues were not as in good shape as the rest of them were.
"We need to move quicker."
Boba who was holding the rear urged the others then, seeing already flickers of the base guard in pursuit in the distance.
"We are going as fast as we can."
One of the rescued captives snarled back. But managed to hasten their pace just the same. As none of them wanted to get caught again. Not after what they had already been through. Having been captured and frozen and all.
Soon enough they could see the clear exit looming in their sights.
As they were near enough to walk through the exit, Hunter signalled with his hand in "stop" and they all halted.
Hunter motioned to Din. Signalling the two of them to get inside the space and secure it first before the others would follow. Making sure it was safe enough to enter.
As soon as they entered the large size hall, remaining behind stacked containers, they could see the doors leading out from the facility in the farthest corner of it. However, there was a rather large size hindrance between them and their supposed egress. As six guards were standing smack middle of their path.
Hunter made a few more hand signals, laying out the strategy for the two of them.
Getting an okay from Din with a simple thumbs up. As the two of them then charged in perfect unison and in one swell swoop of a blaster ballet, managed to take out the guards in their way.
Halting in a pose, their backs against each other, glancing around. And while seeing no more guards in the immediate area. Nor anyone else for that matter, their exit had been secured.
"We are all clear!"
Hunter shouted to Fennec and Boba, while he and Din remained vigilant just in case more of the guards would be storming their way. Because it was a possibility even if it had seemed falsely calm eatery, before they had started removing the people out from the pods. But clearly, the ex-imps or whomever it was in charge of this facility, had reacted to that!
Fennec and Boba quickly herded the group of people they had rescued into the exit zone through the doors leading out, up and back to the ground where their ship was waiting for them to take them all to safety. At least, that was the plan.
And they did managed to just that. Without further troubles and exchange of fire, they managed to get out of the facility and above ground. Running to the safety of the ship, to leave this base and planet behind. None of the rescues complaining about having to run and rather fast at that the rest of the way. Know it was the one thing they needed to do to avoid capture. Again.
The team had arrived back to Boba's Palace.
With the misplaced people alongside them, among them the high valued target Boba had sent Din and Hunter after. All of them had settled for the moment, taking a breather and contemplating on what had just happened. As guests of the Daimyo, of course. Before getting shipped off to their respective home worlds at a later point.
The real reason behind them having been captured still unknown.
But there were suspicions brewing within the group, as to the why behind it all.
Most of all, there was the now revealed fact, that a at least two of them had indicated they were Force sensitive on some level after the discussion had gone on and dwelled deeper. One of them in particular had told the others as much.
The one called Karr.
The kind of a warrior type as described by Hunter and Din, as Karr having been the one to request a weapon while escaping the facility. The two had also been chatting with Karr a bit further getting to know them as to whom they were and where they came from, validating their first impressions.
But as to the why now, why these five had been selected and captured?
Well, it was a big question mark nevertheless. After all, neither two admitted ever having practiced their abilities, not really. Nor that it was even general knowledge. Simply knowing they were there. Their special gifts. Because as Karr had put it when asked of their powers.
"Some things are better left alone. To simply let wither and die."
Of course there could have been other reasons the ex-imps wanted to capture them all. But, as they had kind of been preserved for some upon coming purpose, that alone becoming evidence of some future experimentation.
Hunter also had an idea for the reason as to why they had wanted to capture Din working under the assumption of them wanting Force users to experiment with. That of Din being the father of Grogu. And so, perhaps the people behind the kidnapping having thought that Din also was a Force wielder. It was a valid point after all.
Still, the overall reason of the ex-imps gathering all these Force sensitive types remained unanswered. While they could only speculate at this point for the real reasons.
Fennec had downloaded some data from the lab before they had left. But as it turned out, most of the files were heavily encrypted and it would take some effort to hack into them. Then again, Fennec had also mentioned she knew someone who could easily do just that.
"Who knows what the imps, ex or not are up to! It would not be the first time they were experimenting on people!"
Hunter had simply exclaimed then, having first hand experience of the Empire wanting to hunt down the Jedi and all.
It might have been thirty years later and all. But one thing remained a constant. That of the elements wanting power at the expense of others and with whatever means, never really died. And as the Jedi were mostly gone now, perhaps there were still those around who thought they could somehow harness the Force powers for their own purposes? Harvesting them from the ones possessing such powers and then use it all for their own benefit.
It was just a theory of course, speculation at best. All of it.
But, there were so many elements currently pointing in the general direction of it.
And the cloning?
Well, perhaps they, again, whomever they were, were thinking they could create some kind of Force sensitive being for their own purposes. A most frightening thought being that of an army created by the ex-imps. Something certainly with no good intentions in mind. At all.
Something Hunter was certainly privy to. Being a creation for an army, first good, then bad. Well, the mere thought of what such beings could do!
Even if Hunter himself wasn't, Force sensitive. Well, that he knew of. Then again, Hunter and his Batch had all been enhance… and well, who knew what the Kaminoans had been cooking up during their creation!?
While the conversation about the overall situation had gone on for a longer while, they were nowhere closer to the answers they wanted. Still, none of them stopped pondering about what was going on. It was, big news after all, that something was brewing beneath it all. Once again.
Still, it was an overall scary thought, after having been spoken out loud. Sending shivers down the spines of all of them.
A dark force army in the making…
Boba had insisted on keeping the target, the politician, as his 'guest' for a while longer as there were certain things Boba really needed to discuss with them. But they did not seem to mind as long as they had escaped from the clutches of their kidnappers and the facility. Because the possibilities of having become a pawn, an experiment and then be used for Force knew what the kidnappers had in mind to do with them! Well, being a 'guest' of Boba's was much more of an appealing option.
Din and Hunter had joined Fennec and Boba in a debriefing the next day of the goings on after having stayed at the Palace over night.
"There is certainly something hinky going on in that place."
Boba commented while looking at the data on full display as Fennec had managed to sort some of the downloaded files even if most of it still needed hacking. Something she mentioned again. And about getting in touch with said person, which was difficult at the moment for whatever reason Fennec wasn't too detailed about.
"Hinky? As in?"
Hunter asked curiously, not really familiar with the expression. Perhaps it was modern slang?
"Yeah, like odd or off or peculiar. As in totally kriffed up going ons in there."
Fennec explained it to Hunter in no small words.
Din snorted and nudged Hunter then. As clearly, a bad joke had been played with the man from the past, apparently!
Hunter gave Din a pouty look back which soon faded as Din was making his best puppy dog 'I am so sorry' face. Making Hunter melt in the process and forgetting all about what the other two were even on about at the very moment.
But soon enough, hearing two clearing throats beside them, Hunter and Din turned back to the business at hand.
"Those were similar pods I saw back on Nevarro. Housing all kinds of freaky bodies inside of them And that place was a former imperial base which I was recruited to aid in blowing up."
Din revealed to the others then. A favour Din had provided for Greef Karga.
"When we hacked the database, there was a communication with the same doctor who was involved in getting Grogu's blood. Doctor Pershing, as I recall."
Din went on, the story not unfamiliar to Boba and Fennec, but it was for Hunter, as were the details Din was now recalling for all of them.
"It was only later when we boarded Moff Gideon's ship, that we found out the good Doc was actually involved in cloning. I would not put it past the imps, them being involved in that facility we where held in. And doing some seedy work there, like cloning."
"I thought the Empire hated clones?"
Hunter was still not over the fact that the Empire had decide to phase his brothers in arms for the benefit of conscripted soldiers. Even if he had never been part of the imperial army nor for the Empire itself.
"Well, there are still certain elements out there, whom clearly are doing something related to cloning."
Fennec picking up on the topic, something which they had already touched and like before, the more they kept on digging, the more the prospect of cloning kept on popping up.
"So far, what I found while digging around in the downloaded archives I found plenty of evidence of these facilities being scattered across the known galaxy."
"But why me? And the others?"
Din related the same question having popped up the day before over and over again.
"What is so special about us? I mean sure, two Force sensitives, possibly, but still?"
Din clearly did not feel he was worthy of being cloned. Getting a glance from Hunter then. Him conveying the sentiment 'you are very special' for his partner. Then again, Hunter was in love with Din and not a cloning specialist. So, not really the answer even if Din was rather touched, deeply so.
"I'm afraid I have no idea."
Fennec was at a loss of ideas. The discussion circling and getting stuck in a loop, it seemed.
"But I will keep digging and see if there is any mention as to the why. But it would explain the hefty bounty on you though."
Din shook his head, still in disbelief.
"I mean Grogu I understood, being a real Force wielder and all. But me? Well, I am simply a Mandalorian foundling."
Din wasn't sad about it. At all. Rather really curious to know the reasoning behind it all.
"What do you know about your parents? Your biological family I mean?"
Boba then asked. Getting some ideas in his own head just then.
"Not much. Their names, is all. Most of the archives were destroyed during the Great Purge."
Din had never really known his original family. His biological parents. As having been a rather young child and rescued by the Mandalorians had really been the point when his life had begun.
Din thought of something just then.
"Moff Gideon would know. As Moff Gideon was the ISB officer during the Purge on Mandalore."
"He is held in prison by the New Republic's authorities."
Fennec reminded Din then of the Moff's status.
"No easy access to him either. So, to just go and ask what he knows about you. Not that he would most likely spill it freely either."
"Well, whatever the case is, it's not going to be solved here. Not today."
Boba told his small crew then.
"No, but I will keep digging."
Fennec promised as much to both Din and Hunter.
"I have plenty of data from the facility, but it will take some time and effort so shift through it all."
"Yeah. And for now you are safe."
Hunter chimed in. "
And I will keep you that way too."
Hunter drew Din into his arms on that notion.
Not that the man really needed too much protection. Some maybe though. Leaning into Din, as it had been a trying times for Hunter having no idea where Din had been and whether he was alright. But now, they were back together again and Hunter intended to keep things that way. That, was a promise!
"So, we have agreed to leave this matter to rest then?"
Boba asked wanting to be sure that none of the other three wanted to go out there, busting some ex-imperial heads because of the kidnapping nor the suspected cloning thing happening either.
"For now, yes."
Din agreed as him neither was too keen to go against the imps, not now anyway. Still, at some point, that would most likely happen.
"Yeah, I am none too eager to either. Even if it would be so good to kick some imp shebs right about now!"
Hunter had a shit-faced grin on his face.
"Good, then Fennec will do her research when the time permits. And only when and if, there is something alarming there, she'll let you know. Agreed?"
Boba recapped their agreement. After all, Boba was certain at this very moment, that something big was brewing beneath the surface and it could blow up in their face at any given moment. So, getting out there half-cocked wielding blasters at some random ex-imperial targets was not a good thing to start a war. Because a war was coming, that much of Boba was certain. Call it a gut feeling. But for now, he wasn't about to share with the others. Not just yet.
"Sounds good to me."
Din agreed and glanced at Hunter who also nodded.
"Alright, then, anyone up for some good grub?"
Boba had already alerted the galley, that it was time for a meal. After all, Boba was nothing if not a good host!
None of them objected and so, they all retired to Boba's personal parlour for some food and drinks.
Being set up for, something?
'If you are looking for something, really, really looking for it, you may just, find it!'
It was already late in the day. And the time for comfortable contemplation about everything which had happened in just a short amount of time. With the memories still fresh and the mind filled with thoughts about the initial mission, having turned into an actual rescue and all that which had followed? Well, there was a lot to digest, for all of the.
But for the very moment, the calm had settled over the Daimyo's Palace.
While Hunter and Fennec were starting to mend fences between them. The two of them deep in conversation. Talking about the past and the present. With bouts of laughter heard every now and again from where the two of them were seated rather comfortably. Currently, the banter somewhat friendly, much to Boba's and Din's relief. Only to glad to see Hunter and Fennec had managed to bury the vibro-axe after the hostilities having remained between them. From the past.
Boba had pulled Din aside some time after their dinner had been consumed. Because there was something they needed to talk about. Something which had been pending for a while there now.
"About what you asked, you know, before."
Boba sounded rather vague with his comment.
As it was, Din had asked quite a few things from Boba in the past few days. Especially things about the mission and all. But Din was listening just the same what his friend was on about. The kind of an overall fatigue of the adventure behind them getting to Din and all that, so being his most alert? Well, definitely not. But, it must've been all important though. And most likely, Boba would clarify as to what it was he wanted to talk about in the very moment.
Was all that Din managed to utter, his eyes crossed, having been ready for bed hours ago.
"You know! It was just when Hunter had arrived and the two of you first came over to the Palace… we had that little chat back then?"
Boba reminded Din about the topic several weeks back. About the one kind of a favour Din had asked from his friend Boba back then soon after realising whom Hunter really was.
"Oh? Oh! That one specific favour I asked from you! Back then!"
It finally hit Din what it was about. Even if his speech was somewhat slurry, because of well, alcohol and being half asleep. Nothing to do with the resent events at all it was! Rather something more and well, totally personal. For Hunter.
"Yeah, that thing, the favour."
Boba repeated with a hint of a smirk and chuckled a little just then. Seeing as his friend Din was still recovering from his ordeal, and there was a lot on his mind. Or then was simply drunk and in need of some sleep!
"So, well, guess I needed to be sure of Hunter. That he really was who he claimed to be and all that."
Boba then went on. As clearly, there had been some doubts on Boba's part despite Din having taken Hunter at face value almost from the get go. As even if Hunter looked the part, felt the part and well, spoke the part as well, Boba did not believe him. Not right away.
Then again, Boba was nothing if not cautious and needing to make sure there was no ruse behind the whole thing. As the whole story was rather ludicrous to begin with. Hunter supposedly having time travelled from the past and all.
"You mean a brother from the past?"
Din was well aware of Boba's untrusting nature, obviously. Having become the good friend for Boba.
But in Din's mind, there really had not been any purpose for Hunter to make up the story. Not unless he really was some clone made up by the ex-imps and sent to spy on them. Well, it was something Fennec had thrown in the mix, while the three of them had first discussed the new arrival. Surely, the whole comment made out of jest? Then again, considering the recent events and what hey had learnt so far? Guess it had not been as far fetched as that.
The fact remained, that Din trusted Hunter. And knew well, that Hunter was who he claimed to be. And besides, Din already knew Boba had run scans on the man to make sure they shared the same DNA. Which again, did not really prove anything if the imps really had the cloning process honed down by now.
"Yeah, that one."
Boba replied with a coy expression on his face. And as it was now, Boba trusted also that Hunter was the one from the past. And part of the Fett legacy. Hunter having proven to be worthy of it all by now.
"Anyhow. So, I did some checking and well, turns out, I kinda already knew about what you'd asked for me to figure out."
Boba sounded so totally vague again. Something which annoyed Din to no end and drove him up the walls. But Din was at Boba's mercy now and he needed to play along to get what he needed. For Hunter's sake. Not that it really was that bad.
The fact that Boba sometimes acted all mysterious and whatnot. Din had done the exact same himself in the past. Having hidden behind the mask, literally and wanting to keep an aura filled with mystery around himself. But, not any more. Din was without his helmet when among friends and had begun to reveal things about himself as well.
"And? So? Yes?"
Din's face lit up. He was all but jumping up and down after hearing what Boba said. Because this was the one thing Din wanted, nay, needed for Hunter to have.
"You found them? Some of them? Or at least one of them? Their kids perhaps? Relatives?"
Din's eyes were positively wide with excitement. Listing questions without waiting for an answer even. The expectance and whatever else positive emotions there could have been present at the very moment. Because this, was all too import for Din. And it was showing, obviously!
"Yeah, I did."
Boba admitted as much, nodding his head eagerly. But as before, revealing, nothing really.
"So? How? Who? Where? When?"
It was really all Din managed to spew out at the very moment. One word questions thrown at Boba. Because this was such great news. And Din was totally exhilarated of the fact that the one thing he had asked from Boba would possibly and finally come true.
Boba promised Din, patting the man on the back, possibly to calm him down.
"Soon, my friend."
Boba just had to chuckle again, as it was simply too hilarious to see the formerly solemn Mandalorian all worked up about something he wanted for his Bo.
"I will let you know as soon as I get news back from them. They are busy, but I've left a message."
It was all Boba could tell Din at the moment. I wasn't really a promise per se. But at least, the hope of something happening was still there.
Din greeted Hunter sounding rather chipper.
Wrapping his arms around his partner, now that the two of them were finally alone. Not that it did not happen publicly, but this was much more, intimate.
Having retired for the night in their home away from home. The room they had nicknamed in Boba's palace the two had spent several nights while visiting Mos Espa and the dynamic duo.
"You seem to be in a good mood. I assume you are feeling much better then?"
Hunter could not be sure of the why behind the change from the earlier rather tired and solemn expression on Din's face to this was about. Of course Din being tired and all had been rather understandable. But the changed was rather sudden. From yawning half a sleep to a smiley and happy one he was now.
Clearly, it had something to do with the chat Boba had pulled Din over for.
"I am. Very much so."
Din kissed Hunter on his lips. Dwelling in the touch for a longest while before letting go. The one kiss soon turning to an exploration of strategically placed small nips and licks all over Hunter's neck and chin.
Not that Hunter minded the attention, at all. But the sudden change peeked his curiosity for sure.
"So, good news then?"
Hunter tried to pry. But the continued and heating up kisses and sucking of his sensitive areas were starting to affect Hunter on a completely other level. And so, perhaps, trying to query Din of his sudden mood change. Well, there was time for that later?
"Yeah, it was."
Was all Din let on, while continuing his assault on Hunter's exposed skin.
Yeah, the discussion wasn't going to move along further. Not tonight. Because Din did not want to reveal his secret. And too many things had happened in the past two days and he really needed to feel Hunter's skin on his own. Right at the very moment!
"Later, Hunter. Later."
And with those final words on whatever the topic of conversation between Din and Boba had been was buried. Din making work of removing the clothing off of Hunter and himself. Because there simply was too much cloth between the two of them. And the Din really needed to feel Hunter. All of him. Right. Now!
The call had finally come through.
It had taken a few days though since his initial contact. Leaving the message. But Boba knew how busy they all were.
Even if Boba himself had had a rather leisurely time in Mos Espa. Simply strolling the streets and getting all kinds of gifts from the good citizens he now served. It was good times, indeed. Without a worry or hurry. Well, sometimes at least it was. There were still disputes and incidents to solve. With the occasional criminal element to drive out. The usual stuff.
Indeed, it was a good time to be the king… um Daimyo!
The blue shimmer of the holo call filled Boba's office. With the familiar figure occupying the connection on the holo device standing there in full form.
Boba greeted gingerly after the established connection had flickered to life. It had been a while and them having played catch up for a while there.
"You seem rather, um, busy still?"
Boba could hear the familiar sounds of weapons fire hitting the hull of the vessel. Alongside the sounds of a ship's engines and computer beeps in the background of the call. And then a few orders being barked out as well somewhere behind the blue figure.
Megs was pleased to hear Boba's voice again.
As it had been a while for them to catch up. Megs was returning the call finally, after having gotten the message a few days ago. She had planned on waiting for a better time to call Boba back. When it was more peaceful. But having figured there never really was a better time, she had decided to call him now. Megs had also worried there might have had some urgency behind Boba's message after all and she never failed to aid Boba whenever he needed the help.
"A little busy yeah. Sorry it took some time, but we were out of range for a while there. So… yeah. But you sounded like it was urgent?"
Megs looked a tad worried then, trying to assess what it could be Boba needed from her. But Boba looked, well, unharmed so she calmed down just a little bit. Megs then said something to someone in the background with a muffled tone, but quickly turned back to Boba.
"Sorry about that."
Boba knew Megs was busy with her crew, running some secret ops or similar. They usually were.
"Here is the thing why I wanted to get in touch with you now."
Boba sounded somewhat cryptic. Once again. Same as it had been with Din.
"When you have the time, well, maybe you and yours could haul shebs back to Tatooine?"
"Are you in some kind of a trouble again?"
Megs immediately asked with the worry back. She had always been able to read people rather well. And seeing that there was certainly something going on with Boba at the very moment. She immediately thought the worst.
"Well, nothing of the usual trouble!"
Boba laughed out loudly, because it was rather funny. Megs thinking the worst of him. Always.
That of the first thought being him in trouble popping into Megs' mind. Then again, she had gotten him out of a few precarious situations, so guess the worry was always valid. But, Boba really did not want to spill anything further. So, simply keeping it as cryptic and vague as possible.
"There is someone though. Someone else, who needs you here."
Boba then decided on a little white lie for Megs' benefit, only hoping she would not ask anything further as Megs always seemed to managed to probe things out of Boba, no matter how he tried to keep secrets.
Megs knew there was no arguing or trying to get further intel out of Boba when he had decided on it. Well, she could of course. And would most likely succeed. But she was still busy. So guess she would just have to wait and see.
"We will be there after we finish this, well, job first. It won't be long now. A day or two or so at most."
Megs revealed as much. Being equally cryptic of what it was she and her team were actually doing right now. But judging from the shouting in the background, the weapons fired and all, the mission seemed to be going as well as per usual.
"Good! Then I will see you soon."
Boba told her then. But quickly added the usual sentiment, even if it was more than that. Not simply idle talk to Megs.
"Stay safe, Megs!"
"You too Boba! You too!"
Megs grinned widely and then, the blue shimmer faded away as the connection was gone.
Old relationships, in new times and places
'Nothing like the feeling, when something you thought you had lost for good perhaps - is finally gotten back!'
Din had brought Hunter back to Boba's Palace after getting the word from his friend the two of them were needed. They were all still in the landing bay of the Palace, the Gauntlet having been steered to its regular place there.
Boba greeted Hunter in their usual familiar fashion. After all, they had established their family connection as brothers and so, hugging was no longer out of the question either.
Din and Hunter both greeted Boba in their own turn.
Din having a more subdued method in doing his greetings. Even it the two were fast friends. But the pleasantries had become a sort of a ritual for them all. Even Fennec joining in even if she really did not hug any of them. Ever. But, she was her usual self just the same and so, hardy handshakes it was for her friends, Din and Hunter. Naturally!
Hunter still at odds as to why the two of them had been summoned to the Palace.
They had been in Mos Espa only recently and the urgency for them coming back, well it had baffled Hunter somewhat. Din's odd behaviour as well, the Mandalorian having been totally fidgety and trying to shrug it off as knowing nothing about what the whole trip to Mos Espa was really about.
"Glad you made it in such short notice!"
Boba was positively leering now, alerting Hunter further as to what the kark was going on. Because if there was some kind of surprise party happening or something similar. It wasn't even his birthday! Something which Din had already tried to get out of the man, without much luck.
"Yeah, well, it's not like we had anything really important to do. Not like we were in the middle of something um…"
Din wasn't about to complete the sentence either, only chuckling nervously while flushing into a cute shade of pinkish hue. Thinking back to the early morning bout in bed the two lovers had shared when Boba's call had come through. Right smack in the middle of it too!
Hunter gave Din a glare, his brows knitted to the hilt. Making Din flush even further, the pink turning to bright red and this time, there was no helmet to cower behind either.
It was a small miracle Boba had not gotten an eye full of naked butt and more, after Din having dropped the handheld holo device the two of them had acquired to be able to make the calls pretty much anywhere. Only to have the karking thing dropped somewhere on their bed. As yes, the two of them were in the middle of having sex. And while in his haste having tried to answer the call before the line had connected automatically, like it was set on. Well, it had been touch and go for a moment there! Poor Din. Poor Boba! Not to mention poor Hunter!
Boba had kind of gotten the gist of what was going on when he had called. The heavy breathing and hiding under covers giving pretty much away where they had been and what they had been up to at the time of the call. Still, Boba never mentioned it. Not that he would really have minded anyway. Boba was no prude after all!
"There are some people I would like for you to meet."
Finally! Something Hunter had been waiting for. To know as to what the kark was going on!
His first suspicion was though, that it had something to do with their most recent mission. Uncovering the cloning facility and rescuing the people from there. Something of a follow up perhaps? Or even a new mission?
Hunter was just about to ask something from Boba, when… … as per cue…
A familiar looking ship landed into the bay of the Palace.
The a hissing sound of the landing gear pushing out and onto the concrete ground as it made its halt, ever so slightly bouncing as it did, just a brief distance from where the four of them were still standing.
The Havoc Marauder.
Hunter blinked once, twice. Three times. Not believing what he was really seeing was true or just wishful thinking on his part.
As the hatch was opened, Hunter could see a blond haired woman threading down the steps. She looked rather familiar too.
It was all a fast kind of a blur after that.
As soon as the woman saw Hunter, recognising him immediately, she ran to the man without a hint of doubt as to whom he was.
And then wrapped herself in a rather tight hug around her brother.
Hunter was shaken, stirred and stunned.
But he could see and feel it was the same young girl from what he remembered Omega to be. Before. Only now she was all grown up. The same woman who was hugging him tightly. It was truly Omega.
After Omega finally let go of Hunter, she was crying but also smiling widely. Hunter wasn't any better, the tears falling freely. Nor did the other three fare any better, even if Fennec tried to be all casual about it. Being the toughest of the three. Of course.
Hunter could only glare at Omega. The words, the sentiments, nothing really coming out for a moment until he was able to utter the first thing which came to his mind.
"You grew up."
"Well it had to happen sometime."
Omega responded factually and wiped her happy tears away.
The surrogate father and the child from the very past were having the tender moment between them. Now both of them grown ups and being reunited after a long time having passed between them since they had last seen each other. Well, for Omega it was at least the case. Then again, Hunter could feel the time having passed too. Even if it had only been a short while for him.
There were four other figures who had also been embarking the vessel right after Omega. And all of them, were slowly making their way towards Hunter and Omega.
The familiar gruff voice asked, not sure whether it was for real or not.
Because Boba had not given anything away and none of them had suspected anything like this, at all.
Hunter looked past Omega and could see the four of them standing there.
The familiar figures, the ones he could be able to describe well even with his eyes closed. Perhaps a tad bulkier and with a few more wrinkles, but they were still surprisingly the same. Quite recognisable for the man who had only seen them a few months ago. All of them like they had been back then. And now, it was thirty years later.
Hunter looked at the big guy who approach him first. Doing the exact thing as Omega, only this time around, Hunter was lifted off of the ground easily like in the good old days.
"We've missed ya!"
Wrecker managed to say in his deep baritone. But as he let go of Hunter, the tears were present there as were those in Hunter's eyes still. Both men sobbing happily.
Next in line were Tech and Echo. Echo looking exactly the same he had all those years ago as far as the Batch's timeline went. Most likely thanks to his cybernetics, at least that was Hunter's first thought of it. Then again, none of them seemed to have aged much. Which was kind of a surprise to Hunter.
They both engulfed Hunter in a three way hug. Not saying much, which was kind of usual for them both. Especially during soft moments like this one was.
"Good to have you back!"
Echo's voice was almost a whisper as both him and Tech seemed to be totally emotional after seeing Hunter alive and well. Looking exactly like Hunter had when he had disappeared all those years ago.
Tech's only word, as he was pretty much chocked and wasn't able to speak. Something totally unusual for the other was talkative man.
Wrecker, Tech and Echo remained standing around Hunter alongside Omega for a moment longer. But clearly, there was one, who had yet to come and and say hello to their lost and found family member.
Crosshair remained standing a few paces away. Not even making the effort in coming to greet Hunter. His familiar toothpick was there in place and the trademark permascowl of his as well. Some things clearly never changed.
Despite the demeanour, the ramrod stance of the sniper, Hunter could sense the myriad of emotions running rampant in Crosshair. Deciding to be the one to take the first step, Hunter walked the few paces reaching Crosshair. Hunter remained standing in front of him, without initiating anything at first.
Hunter's voice was coarse and full or emotion as he uttered the name.
It took a moment before Crosshair said anything. But then, he did.
"You left us."
Was all Crosshair managed and when Hunter tried to step closer, Crosshair put his hand up to stop him for doing so.
"We looked for you. For years."
Crosshair sounded teary, and Hunter knew he was about to break, soon too.
Was all Hunter managed then.
Crosshair's tone was rather snide now.
"You, are sorry?"
Of course it was no one's fault. Not really. As being hurled into the future due to whatever reason which had happened to the ship in the hyperspace corridor was nothing Hunter could do about now or even then.
But it seemed that Crosshair still liked to carry the chips larger than the boulders of some torn apart planet on his shoulders. And this one, certainly was a record breaker!
Hunter assured Crosshair. Because he was sorry for it all, even if it was not his fault nor his place to be sorry. But, Hunter was still very much so sorry. Sorry for the time wasted between them. Sorry for the shed tears and anxiety the incident had caused for them all.
But, what Hunter wasn't sorry about, was getting them all back!
Hunter then opened his arms for the grey haired sniper, showing he was in earnest. Because what else could Hunter do more? He could not very well go back and change whatever had happened.
Hunter carefully closed the brief gap to Crosshair and as there was no more hand to stop him nor did he run away either, Hunter gently placed his arms around Crosshair. Pulling him in and close to his chest. The tears were soon to follow, for both of them.
As even thirty years between them could never divide them. Even if the Empire had tried to do so.
"This, is Din Djarin."
Hunter introduced the Mandalorian to his Batch after the initial shook of seeing his family after a, well, a long time for them all. Even Hunter was beginning to see the effects of the time having passed.
And, as someone smart had once said, time was relative and it truly seemed to be just that at the moment.
"You have a Jedi son!"
Omega was already on the topic even if they had just met. But as always being the curious one and making friends, she immediately recognised the name. Din Djarin.
"How did you know that?"
Din was clearly surprised to hear Omega knew of him already.
The whole emotional rollercoaster of a reunification for Hunter and his family had affected Din as well. Din was pretty sure he had seen tears in Boba's eyes as well, but had not mentioned it.
Fennec, however remaining the cool and calm she always seemed to be. Someone whom Din had never managed to read well, not really. But yeah, there had been a tear or two in there as well. Din was sure of it.
"Ahsoka told me about the Mandalorian who adopted a Jedi child. And well, she mentioned your name then too."
Omega simply stated as if everyone knew everyone in the galaxy these days.
"You know Ahsoka?"
Din was surprised again. Something happening a lot on this day, it seemed.
"Yeah, we do."
Wrecker laughed at Din's surprise just then. Because the Batch surely knew a whole bunch of people these days, that much at least was sure.
"She is a live one that not-Jedi lady!"
"We met her through Rex."
Tech chimed in, feeling much more of himself than moments ago.
"Rex is alive?"
Hunter asked surprised to hear this news as well. Not that he had not been surprised to see his Batch, his family all alive and seemingly unchanged as well.
Boba who had met the famous former Clone Captain was a great admirer of his older brother and Rex's exploits as Boba fondly liked to call them.
"Rex may be a tad older, but he wields a blaster like the best of us do!"
Hunter was only too happy to hear some of his favourite people were still alive.
Of course Hunter was privy to pretty much everything of Din's son, Grogu and were the Kid was right now even he was yet to meet Grogu in person. Having only had the odd 'chat' over the holo call a few times, as the Kid did not really speak, that much.
"Good to hear that."
Hunter felt it all still rather overwhelming. Seeing his family alive and well, not to mention how this all affected his old squad. All of them getting used to the idea that Hunter was there and now, with them, after having thought they had lost him. For good.
"I see you still like your men in armour."
Crosshair remarked snidely then as they all had taken turns in shaking hands with Din, sounding perhaps a tad jealous while saying so.
"I well, yes…"
Hunter was at a loss of words as clearly he had become rather obvious around Din even if their relationship was relatively new. But after the resent events, Hunter was pretty sure he had totally lost his heart to the Mandalorian in the shiny beskar armour.
"It's fine Hunter."
Crosshair assured Hunter after a clear moment of contemplation. Even if there might have been a hint of sadness present in his voice for finding out Hunter having found someone new.
Hunter felt the pang in his own heart. Hadn't he once promised the same one to the sniper? And now, here he was, freely giving it to someone else?
Then again, Hunter had not expected to see any of his family again. Not after having come to grips with the fact he could never go back to his original time.
"So, is your son with you?"
Omega having sensed the clear sadness between Hunter and Crosshair, knowing what it was about, wanted to change the topic. After all, there was time for them all to sort whatever things they needed to later. This was not the time nor place for it.
So, prying into the matter of Grogu, she hoped it was enough for Hunter and Crosshair to drop their topic of conversation.
Omega was also totally curious about the whole setup. A Mandalorian with a Jedi kid and was eager to meet the child herself. Having learnt so much about the Jedi from Ahsoka.
"No. No, Grogu is away in training with his Jedi Master."
Din then revealed. It was an arrangement he was only too happy share with Luke to get Grogu the best of both worlds. The Jedi and that of the Mandalorian creed.
Omega asked, even if she knew the dynamics of how the Jedi training worked after spending a lot of time with Ahsoka. Having even learnt a few things herself from the supposed non-Jedi Ahsoka claimed to be.
"Yes, Master Luke Skywalker. Grogu stays with him for some three months at the time and the rest with me."
Din revealed as much.
"Yeah, we have heard of him. Luke Skywalker."
Echo chimed in then.
"Anakin Skywalker was his father."
Echo reminded Hunter then. And it was only now Hunter put two and two together as Din had never mentioned Luke's last name until now. And it was when they had rescued Echo from the Techno Union and the mission after that they had had the pleasure of meeting the General.
Hunter glanced at Din and back to Echo.
"Yeah, I remember him. General Skywalker. Of course! What happened to him?"
Hunter was not privy of course of to all the stories of the Jedi after Order 66 as the squad had been pretty much on the lam soon after it had all happened.
"Yeah, well, unfortunately, Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side."
Omega sounded sad as she had heard the stories from Ahsoka.
"And well, was rescued, sort of."
Omega then revealed not wanting to go into any details right now.
Was all Hunter managed, as clearly it wasn't a pleasant tale nor good for Hunter to hear either. After all, the Anakin Skywalker he had got to know briefly, had been a great man.
"So, like a shared parenthood you two have?"
Tech was also getting curious and wanting also to change the subject as now was not the time for sad stories from the past. This was a great reunion after all and time to be happy.
Din exclaimed rather poignantly.
"Well, I guess."
Din did not want to reveal too much to these strangers either. As they were, strangers to him even if they were Hunter's family. And, it was rather personal for Din also. What had happened there with Luke and Grogu.
Tech responded, getting a rather coy expression from both Echo and Crosshair.
"Yes, well, it's, complicated."
Din was rubbing the back of his neck, because sharing personal information was not really his forte, not really. Perhaps later, he could tell them. But not now.
"It usually is."
Crosshair remarked and glanced at Hunter. A flush of memories from their past popping up from somewhere long since buried. The pain of them still very much present for the sniper.
"So, do you have time for some food and drink?"
Boba then asked being the ever courteous host he seemed to have become.
"Or do you need to run off somewhere right away?"
"We can stay."
Echo informed Boba.
"Besides, how could we turn down and offer of spending more time with our long lost kin!"
Echo patted Hunter on the back while saying so.
After their shared meal, which had taken quite some time to finish, while sharing memories from the past, the festivities had come to an end. Like all good things always do.
But, the Batch was in no hurry to leave just yet and all the brethren were quite taken by the Mandalorian. Naturally, as they were all descendants from one. Besides, they had similar interests, like the classic ships and weaponry.
Tech and Echo had taken Din on a tour to check out the Havoc Marauder while Wrecker, Omega and Crosshair had remained with Hunter. Boba and Fennec having taken their leave, leaving the family to get reacquainted without them hanging around.
"A modified Omicron-class attack shuttle, the Havoc Marauder."
Din was admiring the old ship, which had seen better days. But still, with so much love and care mostly from Tech and Echo, it was in a pretty good condition.
Tech stood proudly by her side.
"She may be old but she gets us where we need to be. Always."
Tech simply stated positively beaming while standing alongside the old craft of theirs.
Din smirked as he found this straight forward man to be quite refreshing. As sometimes, Din needed to probe Hunter for his meaning of things even if they were mostly on the same level. Mostly so.
"Looks good. She is a classic after all!"
Din patted the side of the hull being very much of a fan of old ships himself.
Tech beamed as clearly this Mandalorian liked his ship.
"She is indeed."
"I used to have a Razor Crest, but it kinda blew up. Then a N-1 Star-fighter. But now I have a Mandalorian Gauntlet, a modified version of course."
Din listed to the other two, as having had the need to upgrade, as the N-1 had become a tad cramped to be a family vessel with Grogu back in his life and all.
Tech understood perfectly, having had made so many modifications to the Marauder, understanding the need to make the ship his own. Or rather in Tech's case, the Batch's own.
"I would not mind taking a test flight in that ship of yours."
Echo was intrigued as well, his fondness for antique ships rivalling that of Din's.
"I mean if you are up for it."
Din was all wide smiles, as he was proud of his latest ship, having made most of the upgrades himself, with the aid of Peli of course.
"Name the time and we'll take her out for a spin."
The trio then chatted on about the ships and weaponry and everything and anything related like they had been friends forever. As somehow, the former lone gun slinger had found himself with a group of people he felt comfortable with. Not that it wasn't the case with Hunter, Boba and Fennec. But, Tech and Echo? Well, Din felt the bond right away with these two like minded men.
Hunter, Crosshair, Wrecker and Omega were sitting and chatting comfortably. Getting Hunter up to speed on the latest and what he had missed. Which was a lot as it turned out.
"You all look, so well like you have not aged. Well, part from Omega of course."
Hunter wasn't sure for the reason why, as the clones all had exhilarated growth, but exhilarated ageing as well. Unfortunately. But his brethren seemed almost the same even if thirty odd years had passed for them.
Crosshair laughed a little and glanced at the other two before turning back to Hunter.
"We kinda found the fountain of youth."
Hunter wasn't sure he had heard right the first time.
"Nala se. We liberated her and well she kind of owed us. So she kindly reversed the gene causing the exhilarated ageing in us all. And also all the clones we saved from certain death."
Omega then enlightened Hunter of the how.
"I am sure she can do it for you too, if you want to."
Crosshair then told Hunter, even if there were no signs of ageing in him. Yet.
"Sounds, well, great!"
Hunter was only too happy of course to hear this. And also it pretty much explained why the other Batchers had not aged. Because they were not supposed to. Not at some forty plus years of age at least. Speaking linearly, of course. The supposed natural ageing process of humans and all.
Hunter was starting to get a headache again, from trying to wrap his mind around of all this, time stuff.
"Yeah, there are plenty of things you have missed."
Wrecker told him as much, but then, getting a stare from both Omega and Crosshair, he quickly clamped his mouth. This was not the time to spill it all.
"I would imagine."
Hunter looked at the three of them, seeing nothing had really changed, at least on the outward, even if everything really had. Changed. Omega of course being the big one for Hunter, still being reminded of the young girl she had been back then.
There was a moment of silence between them, but Crosshair decided to change the fast falling mood to something more, cheerful.
"So, there are more of us still around."
"Yeah. Plenty were saved from the Empire before they you know, decided to phase us down."
Crosshair then explained further.
"That, that is good to hear."
It was. As Hunter had feared the worst. Even with the Empire gone. Still, he had thought, the clones had died out.
"Yeah plenty of us. Most are living on a remote planet past the Outer Rim."
Wrecker piped in again, because he loved to share some good news to Hunter as well.
"Our own planet?"
Hunter could tell how good it felt to say. Even for himself.
"Clone Haven they call it. It's a lush planet with a mild climate. Good for farming and such. But there is also trading going on with trusted people."
Crosshair continued to tell Hunter.
"It really is a haven to the letter of the word. For all the clones."
Omega revealed as much then. But still, there seemed to be some secret about the place not spoken to Hunter. Not yet anyway. Then again, Hunter did not want to pry, as clearly, he felt much of an outsider still, even of his own family. The time between them becoming more concrete after hearing all the stories from them.
Of course Hunter had already told them all about how he had ended up in this time. Which wasn't a long tale at all, not compared to what they had to share with Hunter.
"There is plenty of tech left over from the imps they use as well. Ships, computers among other things. Some of it modified to small factories and facilities, even hospitals."
Omega went on, before another silence descended the room. It seemed to happen a lot. But then again, they were just getting to know each other all over again, weren't they.
"There are kids there too."
Crosshair finally spoke, getting a wide eyed glare from Omega and Wrecker. Omega slightly shaking her head to him. But Crosshair gave a simple nod to the two. Because he knew exactly what he was about to reveal and how much of it as well.
Hunter was surprised of this bit of news.
"Yeah. Some are war orphans. Adopted by the clones after the Empire ended."
Crosshair glanced at Omega and Wrecker again, before he continued.
"Others are, well, clones."
Yeah, those Kaminoans sure knew their cloning stuff!
Omega piped in again. After all, she knew there was only so much Hunter could handle hearing right now.
"Yeah, she made a few new clones. For those who wanted them. I mean the clone families who wanted their offspring."
Wrecker clarified as much then.
It was a lot to hear. It was also good to hear. That the clones had finally gotten their lives back and were all, well, living the happily ever after. As wasn't that what every one really wanted?
Hunter glanced at his family, letting his glance linger on all of them. But in particular Crosshair.
The group were all back together again.
Having some down time and drinks, with thanks to their brother and host, Boba. As it was Hunter was still very much in shock and awe of what he had learnt so far. But in a good kind of way.
They had all gathered on the court yard of the Palace and comfortably seated by the fire now that the two suns had gone down. The atmosphere comfortable and familiar.
"So, guess you have had all kinds of adventures then?"
Hunter asked the Batchers then, already having heard the gist of it, but wanting to simply make some conversation in general.
"Well, these days it's mostly for Rex, with the uglies rising their heads again and all that."
Wrecker said as much.
"Rex is always on the side of the underdog, like he used to be. So, we help out with his many causes."
"Yeah, it never ends, does it!"
Hunter knew first hand what the situation was, having learnt the current state of affairs from Din and from their most recent adventure.
"But I am glad you are all together and fighting the good fight."
Hunter sounded somewhat nostalgic as it was what the Batch had decided to do, to become a part of in the end, before he was lost to the future. Help in the rebellion.
"Yeah, guess we have been doing what we always were destined to do."
Tech stated rather solemnly.
"With Echo here in charge, we sure had our fair share of adventure."
Crosshair piled on slapping Echo in the back rather gently and fondly even.
Echo glanced at Crosshair for a moment, not sure if they had revealed that fact to Hunter just yet. He then touched the back of his head, like he usually did when he felt nervous.
"You don't mind do you?"
Echo glanced indirectly at Hunter from under his lashes.
But it had been thirty years. And still, well, at least now, Echo felt like he had taken Hunter's place. Somehow. Still, someone had to step up when it became obvious Hunter would not come back to them, not then anyway.
Hunter smiled, widely and tried to assure Echo he had been in his right to do so. To become, to be the leader of the Bad Batch.
"I always knew you would step up if anything was to happen to me."
Hunter took a sip from his mug.
"And I am very glad you did."
Echo nodded, thankful in getting Hunter's approval. Not that he had needed it. Still, it was good to hear Hunter approved and trusted him.
"So, after searching for you for a few years, guess we simply accepted the fact that you would not be found and then moved on with our lives."
Echo continued explaining what had happened after they had lost Hunter.
"I am glad you all kept together though."
Hunter was sure they had. They were together now, at least.
"Well, we have and we even tried to settle down for a while there, but it was not for us. Not really, not for longer time periods anyway. But, well, we still do, enjoy down time I mean."
Echo smirked thinking back to the times they had tried, really tried to do just that. Settle down permanently.
"No, I would think not."
Hunter agreed as seeing the lot as farmers or something similar was not at all fitting. They were soldiers, fighters, not settlers.
"Crosshair never got over it though."
Echo spoke softly then, for Hunter only to hear. As the two of them had been left alone for the moment. The others having a discussion about something apparently much more interesting with Boba and Din at the moment.
"He, well, there were hard times for him for a long time, before he finally settled with the facts."
Hunter only nodded glancing at the sniper sitting on the other side of the fire chatting with Boba and Din.
"I can only imagine."
Hunter knew deep down inside, that Crosshair would have taken Hunter's disappearance hardest of them all. As if the roles were reversed, it would have been the same for Hunter. It had already been hard when Crosshair had been lost to the Empire for the while there before they had gotten him back.
A moment of silence passed between the two leaders of the Bad Batch before Echo spoke again.
"The four of us… well, we are together now."
"Together? Well I can see that."
Hunter was baffled by this, comment of Echo's.
"No, I mean together together."
Echo was trying to be as subtle as he could in explaining the four men's current status to Hunter. Not that there had not been couplings in the past in their rather tight knit unit of theirs. Between Hunter and Crosshair, Tech and Echo, Wrecker and Echo.
Was all Hunter managed, but there was still something missing from the equation.
"Yeah, well, it kinda happened. Rather naturally too."
Hunter looked at Echo then. Really looked at Echo.
"What does it mean? When you say, that you are actually together together?"
Hunter was finally catching the words Echo had spoken and wanting some clarification to the real meaning of the words.
Again, Echo was silent. Contemplating what to tell Hunter. As even with thirty years having passed, it was a touchy subject. Hunter and Crosshair having been so totally close. But Hunter clearly had Din now. So. Echo decided to clarify the meaning of his words.
"What it means is, that Crosshair and I are together now, but the four of us? Well, we do share, everything."
Well, wasn't that a kick in the ol' shebs!
Hunter's family having thrived despite of him or because of him? Having gotten even closer in his absence. But why would they not? They all loved each other and that was all that mattered. Having even managed to stay together for all this time.
Still, Hunter felt the sting of jealousy just then. Thinking back to all the things he had missed.
"You have to understand, Hunter,"
Echo glanced at Hunter, seeing the pain and hint of jealousy there too. But he had to tell Hunter the truth.
"when you disappeared, we were all a mess. We had just gotten Cross back and then for you to disappear like that? Well we kinda lost it. All of us did."
Echo had Hunter's attention again, seeing the pain growing the more Echo revealed to him.
"Crosshair went AWOL again for a while there. But we went after him and got him back. Thankfully! Guess the rest of it after that just fell into place. Gregor and Rex helped us plenty too. And then we got involved with their cause more and more. Ended up kicking plenty of imp shebs in the process. And well, the rest of it is pretty much history. Literally."
It was all Hunter managed at the moment, nodding only. But Hunter knew he could to dwell on it. The could have beens. The four or five of them having had each other only to rely on after Hunter had left them. And Hunter, was happy for them. They were his family, even if he felt like he was no longer part of it.
They had all decided to stay the night in the Palace.
After breakfast there was already a communique waiting for the Bad Batch.
They had all ended up chatting well into the night, sharing stories. Well, the Batchers had. As it was, Hunter had spent a few months worth of time in the future and that time with Din. So there wasn't that much to tell. Not really, part from their latest mission finding the cloning facility. Something with the Batchers seemed to be aware of too.
But they had all enjoyed the reunion. Even Fennec had stayed longer with them all, even if she wasn't that interested in hearing the exploits of the group, again. As it was much to Hunter's surprise, old fences had totally been mended. Fennec and the Batch were quite friendly. Had been ever since finding Boba, as Omega had been adamant in her search for their missing brother, knowing he was still around.
"We have another op from Rex."
Echo informed the Batchers as he had checked the comms.
The rest of the Batch simply stared at Echo who knew immediately what that meant.
"Well, we won't keep you then."
Hunter said sounding somewhat disappointed as the time spent with this family was over sooner than he had liked. But Hunter knew they had their own path now.
"You know where to find me now if you need me."
As it was already agreed, that Hunter and Din would make Tatooine their home base for several reasons. Mostly because Boba was there and well, it was a good place to be at the very moment.
Hunter was still somewhat on the defensive, being none too sure if the thirty years having passed was a too big a gap between them to form any lasting bonds. Even if this was still Hunter's family.
Because a past few months for Hunter had been a whole life time for the rest of the Batch. Therefore, Hunter could not very well assume they would keep in touch. Not too often at least. They were clearly busy with their own lives now.
There was a moment of silence there. As clearly, goodbyes were never pleasant.
Echo started glancing first at his fellow Batchers and then right back at Hunter.
"There is room on board. That is if you want to go with us."
Echo simply told Hunter. After all, Echo and the rest of the squad had already had a few words of the same. And they had all agreed, that if Hunter wanted to come back he would be welcomed.
Hunter looked at Echo and then turned to the others who simply nodded in agreement to Echo's suggestion.
But, the choice was tearing Hunter apart.
Feeling Din beside him shift uncomfortably, Hunter sensed there was tension there for the other man as well. After all, Din was his love now. But then there was the family Hunter also loved.
Hunter was afraid, there was no good decision Hunter could make here.
Hunter paused and looked straight into the eyes of his lover. As if asking for Din's approval. To go. But there was more there too Hunter could read in Din's eyes. And so, trusting, that he knew Din well enough, Hunter then asked Echo.
"Is there room for two to come along?"
Echo smiled widely and glanced at his eagerly nodding family and then assured Hunter and Din.
"Of course there is. There always has been."
To be continued in the next part "Trouble in Clone Haven"