A/N: Sequel to Cloning Around (see previous chapter). In desperation, the rogue Kaminoans have bribed Hondo, Aurra, Bane and Bossk to take their four most unruly charges off their hands for a day.
"You're a pirate. A real pirate?" The little Weequay's face was a picture of unmitigated delight.
"Yes, yes. A real pirate." Hondo chuckled and patted his clone on the head. "And it's not all fun and games, I can tell you. Just yesterday a group of Nautolans tried to make off with one of my ships. Very messy business."
The boy's beam intensified. "When I'm bigger I'm going to be pirate too... But don't tell Minni, she say's we're going to get married and be assassins and live in a sweetshop."
"And who's Minni?"
The little boy removed a bashed about looking datapad from his coat pocket and brought up a picture of very pale little girl with a stubby auburn ponytail.
"She wants to marry you?"
The boy nodded. "And she says we're going to have four children and a pet Rancor called Snuggles."
Eyes widening Hondo took a moment to thank Quay that Aurra had – for all her other numerous failings – never shown any interest in domesticity. Then, shaking his head, he picked his clone up and sat him on the bar counter.
"Junior, my friend, I can see that we're going to have to have a long talk about the perils of dangerous little girls."
They'd told her that the little girl was 'difficult', 'aggressive', liable to demonstrate 'challenging behaviour'. In short, that her clone was a general all round pain in the ass.
After a couple of hours with the child Aurra had concluded that her Kaminoan minders were a bunch of lily-livered twits who deserved to be eviscerated at the earliest opportunity. A more friendly, affectionate and well behaved toddler couldn't possibly exist.
"Minni, stop playing with the knife and come and have your snack."
The tiny near-human dutifully returned the cutlery to the table, clambered back up onto her chair and started to tuck into the chunks of meat in Nerf blood the jumpy Rodian waiter had just brought over.
"Good girl." Aurra smiled her least threatening smile. "When you've finished that we can go to the arms fair and find you some big girl blasters to play with."
Clearly enthused by the prospect of temporarily replacing her toy guns with the real thing, Minni gave a happy squeal and began to eat as fast as she could.
Then, spying the Rodian (who seemed to be trying to disappear behind one of the establishment's supporting pillars), Aurra snapped her fingers and beckoned him over.
"Please," he said, an expression of all consuming anxiety on his face. "I beg of you. Take it away... far away." He pointed shakily at Minni, whose eyes began to wander back towards the cutlery.
Indignant, Aurra's hands went straight to her holsters. "She's not an It. She's an adorable child."
"She's a demon. Look at what's she's done. Just look." Voice growing more tremulous with each word, the Rodian gestured to the dozen or so groaning bodies that currently littered the tavern floor.
"She was only trying to show them her knife throwing skills."
Aurra's lip curled as she surveyed the scene. None of the injured had anything worse than a few minor lacerations and contusions. Wimps, the lot of them. She'd performed gruelling five day missions requiring hand-to-hand combat with far worse.
Honestly, some people were so oversensitive.
"I don't have time for dis," Bane muttered, as the small Duros charged about the living area.
It had seemed like a good deal at first: ten thousand credits to watch his clone while the Kaminoans took a 'recuperative break'. After all, how hard could it be? The answer, of course, had been 'rather more difficult than expected'. The boy was energetic, inquisitive and seemingly unable to comprehend the words 'get de hell off dat thing, right now'.
Think, Bane ordered himself. What do parents do when dey want to get der kids off their hands?
The answer came to him in a flash.
Dey let de holotube take care of dem.
Pleased with this timely insight, Bane hastily removed his bootleg copy of Togrutas Gone Wild from the rented apartment's big screen holoprojector and set it to the play the first kid friendly programme he could find: an insipid looking animation entitled The Happy Bantha Family. He then left the room in search of a stiff drink.
When he returned he saw the little boy sitting quietly on the floor, eyes glue to the holoprojection as Mummy Bantha delivered the moral of the episode.
"... And so you see, as long as you have friends, credits don't matter. Goodnight children"
Bane gaped at this blasphemy, innards turning to ice.
"Goodnight Mummy Bantha," the boy parroted, smiling cheerfully as the theme tune began to play.
Horrified beyond reason, the bounty hunter lunged for the off switch, managing to end the broadcast before the Caring, Sharing Padawan Pals had chance to play.
The little boy looked at him quizzically.
His own clone.
What had he done?
What had he done?
Bossk looked down at the tiny snarling form standing beside him and found himself... not unsatisfied.
He had initially been disappointed to hear that little Bleurgh had not yet slaughtered and devoured his nursery mates, as Bossk himself had once done. But over the last few hours the tiny Trandoshan had proved himself: revelling in the hunt and delivering several nasty nips to their Mon Calamari prey.
No, Bossk was not unsatisfied with his clone. There was however one issue that needed to be dealt with.
"Bleurgh, there's something we need to discuss."
"Rhaw?" The little one paused in his chomping of the Calamari leftovers and looked at him enquiringly.
"You..." he flushed dark green with embarrassment, not quite sure of the right way to phrase it. He was certain that he'd never had this problem as a child. "Bleurgh, you need to stop doing pee pee and poodoo on the cockpit floor."
"So let me get this straight. You kidnapped me because you need a babysitter?" Ahsoka Tano seemed torn between disbelief, indignant rage and amusement.
"Dat's right," Bane said, snarling to cover his embarrassment. "Something came up and I need someone to watch the ankle biter. I saw you in de area and figured a Jedi wouldn't take de opportunity to put a blaster to his head."
The Padawan opened her mouth to speak and then seemed to think better of it. Opting instead to eye the bracelet he'd affixed to her wrist.
"Look, you can go when dis is finished. But leave de building or tamper with dat and dis whole place will blow sky high."
She frowned. "But if that happened..." she looked pointedly at the little Duros, who was presently trying to see how far he could jump if he launched himself from the room's rickety looking table.
Bane smirked. "Dat's why I'm sure you'll play nice."
"Language," he mockingly chastised, with a nod towards the child. "He's already picked enough up from dat bar on Florrum."
"Is he yours?" She seemed genuinely curious.
"Ye— NO... Damned cloners."
"Daddy," the little boy chirped as he ambled over to take a look at the new arrival.
Bane glowered. "Son, I told you a thousand times, I ain't your goddamned... never mind."
He turned his gaze back to the Padawan. "I'll be back in a couple of hours. Der's drinks in the cabinet and food in the cold store. Show him a Pirates of the Endless Seas holo if he asks for it." He gritted his teeth. "But, no Happy Bantha Family."