OK, I'm going to warn you all now; my muse for this story hasn't been very active, and I was barely able to get out this chapter and the last. This does not mean, however, that I have abandoned this story. It only means that I'll be taking a short break from it, while my muse focusses on other things.
I'm sure that when the Clone Wars DVD comes out in October – and I'm able to watch "A Necessary Bond" again – my muse will return and this story will get done. Heck, if I find the episode on TV again I might get it done sooner. But for now, there'll be no updates any time soon. I'm really sorry, but it'll save me writing bad chapters because I'm forcing myself.
Like I said, this story is not abandoned. Just on hold. But here's my gift to you all as a thank you for (hopefully) understanding.
Jedi on Onderon
It was after they had left the atmosphere that Gwarm informed Hondo.
"A transmission was sent to our base," he explained. "Since there was nothing to receive it, it bounced to all our ships. The Jedi's droid was able to pick it up."
R3 beeped in acknowledgement.
"Well, let's see it, then," said Hondo.
The droid rolled over to the ship's controls and plugged himself in; he adjusted himself a few times before the transmission appeared before them. It was of a boy, possibly sixteen or seventeen, dressed in ragged clothing which did not match with his senatorial look. Hondo was surprised, however, by the fact that he recognized the boy; he was one of the rebels on Onderon, whom Hondo had only seen briefly when he'd delivered rocket launchers to the planet during the Clone Wars.
"Hondo Ohnaka, this is Senator Lux Bonteri of Onderon," said the boy. "We met briefly during the battle for Onderon's freedom from the Separatists, when you delivered several rocket launchers to us. A good friend of mine has told me of your tenuous alliance with the Jedi, and she is hopeful of your opposition to the formation of the Empire; if that is the case, we urgently request the delivery of any weapons you can spare for us. Onderon is once again locked in a struggle, this time against the Empire, and without weapons there is no hope of survival. We will pay you, of course. If you wish to respond to this message, rendezvous with us in the same place as last time. Bonteri out."
The transmission cut off.
"They need our help," said Katooni, and when Hondo raised an eyebrow – or what would be his eyebrow if he were Human – in her direction, she added, "and we could use the profit."
It annoyed her that she had to say these things, but at least it got Hondo's attention.
"Do we even know if they have the payment?" asked Jiro.
"And what weapons could we supply, even if they did?" Goru added.
"There's plenty in the back; I had this ship stacked, since it was planned for a hasty escape," said Hondo. "The tiny Jedi is right; we need the profit more than we need the weapons. Set a course for Onderon."
Gwarm and Parsel began to chart the course, and Hondo left the bridge in order to double check the weapons they had stored. Katooni followed, deep in thought; something Lux said had caught her attention.
"The boy said that a good friend of his told him about you," she spoke up. "That you had a tenuous alliance with the Jedi."
"We were friends!" Hondo insisted.
Katooni chose not to roll her eyes at that.
"But who else would know about that?" she continued. "I don't think the Jedi would have told too many people about being allied with pirates. I think there's a Jedi on Onderon."
Hondo nodded; she was right, and he had a suspicion as to which Jedi it was.
Using the pirates' usual smuggling technique, the ship left hyper-space just outside the planet's surface, in order to avoid detection from the blockade Hondo had correctly predicted would be around the planet. They then soared onwards towards the rendezvous point.
Upon arrival the clearing began to fill with rebels; men and women, some riding the great beasts that were well known on the planet, and all looking worse for wear. It appeared there had already been some form of battle.
Upon landing Katooni went to follow the pirates down the ramp, but Hondo placed a hand on her shoulder to prevent her.
"Wait here," he told her, giving her no reason as to why.
Katooni complied, but remained in the shadows of the doorway so she could see what was going on. The four other pirates carried the crates of weapons while Hondo walked over to the boy from the transmission; the boy was stood with a man whose eyes were bright green, and another figure who wore a cloak to shield their face.
It was the cloaked figure who caught Katooni's attention, for she knew that if there truly was a Jedi on Onderon, they would conceal themselves in order to avoid detection from an outside party. Keeping her attention fixed upon the potential Jedi, Katooni realized that the figure was female; her body was too lean to belong to any form of male, no matter the species, and this train of thought led her to the conclusion that the Jedi was either Human or Near-Human.
Upon noticing that the cloak's hood concealed a distinctive Togruta lekku, Katooni realized exactly who this Jedi was.
Disobeying Hondo's orders, she hurried down the ramp and ran towards the group, interrupting their negotiations. She drew to a halt with her eyes fixed upon the cloaked Jedi.
"Is it really you?" she asked.
There was a pause. Hondo was staring at Katooni with surprise, while the boy and the man were looking between both her and the cloaked figure. The figure – the female Jedi – was staring at her too, for a moment unsure what to say or do...
...until she pulled back her hood to reveal a familiar face.
The young Jedi smiled before she leapt into the arms of Ahsoka Tano.
"I'm so glad to hear that Master Kenobi lives," said Ahsoka. "And Master Yoda."
She and Katooni were sat down on a nearby rock. In the background, the rebels were aiding the pirates in unloading the weapons, while Hondo was still bargaining with Lux and the other man. Ahsoka and Katooni had stepped aside in order to catch up on what had happened, and Katooni had explained to her how she'd ended up with Hondo and what had happened since.
She had told Ahsoka everything – other than the identity of the new Sith Lord, Darth Vader. The young Jedi was unsure how Ahsoka would take that, being the former apprentice of Master Skywalker. Unless she knew already.
"I was upset when you left the Order, Ahsoka," said Katooni. "But I think it saved your life."
"I came here after I left," Ahsoka explained. "Lux is a good friend of mine, and he offered me a place to stay while I figured things out. I felt the shift in the Force a few weeks later. I didn't understand why...until I saw the HoloNet."
"Master Kenobi told me that we have to lie low," said Katooni. "Blend in with the populace; do what we wouldn't have done before."
"And teaming up with Hondo was the way to go?"
"He did save me," Katooni explained. "And Master Kenobi didn't mind; so long as I kept out of the way of the Empire and undetected. It could be worse."
Ahsoka could admit that Katooni had a point with that. There were far worse people to be with than Hondo, and unless there was a huge profit to make, the former Jedi knew that Hondo wouldn't hurt Katooni intentionally. Plus, Hondo's respect for the Jedi seemed to be genuine.
Of course, with the high bounty on all of their heads, Ahsoka wasn't sure how long it would be before the pirate would be tempted to hand Katooni over to the Empire.
It was soon time for the pirates to leave, and Katooni was called back over to the ship by Hondo. She gave Ahsoka one final hug before hurrying over, waving over her shoulder. Ahsoka walked over at a slower pace, approaching Hondo.
"Well, I can't say I'm not surprised to see you here," he told her. "Kenobi said you Jedi were lying low; fighting with rebels isn't really lying low, is it?"
"I'm only doing what feels right," said Ahsoka. "Speaking of which, if anything happens to Katooni, I'll be coming after you. And it won't end well for you."
"I may be a pirate, Ahsoka," he said, "but I give you my word that it is not my intention to harm her."
"I know you, Hondo," Ahsoka pointed out. "I know that you'll do anything for profit. You must know how much she's worth to the Empire; how much Master Kenobi and I are worth, as well. How do I know you won't hand her over and then tell them where we are, too?"
"The Empire are no friends of mine!" Hondo exclaimed. "And if a Jedi is what they want, a Jedi is something they will not get from me!"
And with that, he turned and walked up the ramp of his ship, his finger still pointed in the air.
Ahsoka watched with surprised. She hadn't expected him to declare that; to turn down the opportunity of making a large profit simply because he hated the Empire. Sure, hatred could run deep – it was his hatred for the Separatists which had brought him into the favour of the Jedi – but it still caught her off guard.
As the ship began to take off, Lux joined her side.
"You know, he didn't ask for as much payment as we thought he would," he said. "He's not actually that bad. For a pirate, I mean."
Ahsoka turned to him, then back to the departing ship; thinking of Katooni, she wondered.
I'll see you all again in October at the latest, and don't forget to review! :D