Hiding his surprise, Obi-Wan turned. "Depends on how you see 'other Jedi'."

Rock was watching him with his usual calculating gaze, but the wariness was mostly gone. He shook his head and gestured at the lightsaber sitting on the crate.

"General Tah left that behind."

"Left," Obi-Wan repeated.

Rock shrugged slightly and didn't elaborate.

Obi-Wan shook the helmet he still held. "So, is this yours?"

"No," Rock said quietly. His eyes darted to the side. "Yes. Yes and no. That's from a time past, General. When I was… someone else."

"And who were you, Rock?" Obi-Wan asked.

Rock's mouth twisted, but his voice was steady when he answered, "CT-1599, Commander Rocket of the 502nd Battalion under Jedi Knight Vin Tah." His shoulders drooped and his head turned away. "Guess now I'm just deserter Rock, eh?"

"As if you chose to wreck the cruiser," Obi-Wan said skeptically.

"I should've saved it!" Rock said with such vehemence that Obi-Wan knew it was something he scolded himself for frequently. "Letting ourselves get ambushed like that was sloppy; we knew what we were going into. We knew what was waiting for us! Yet we saw clear skies and dared to think we'd gotten lucky."

"Brothers died!" Rock said, voice rising. "You saw the graves, didn't you? Rain and I are the only ones who survived, because of my stupid mistake!"

"The mistake isn't just yours," Obi-Wan cut in. "Tah was a master strategist and even he… why are you looking at me like that?"

Rock's previous expression of anger had faded to shock. Obi-Wan mentally ran over what he'd said, wondering if it simply hadn't occurred to Rock that Jedi made mistakes.

"Jedi aren't perfect," Obi-Wan said.

Rock snorted and said something under his breath.

"What was that?"

"Nothing," Rock said, turning his head away.

Obi-Wan crossed his arms and waited. Rock glanced at him, then shook his head.

"Suppose it doesn't matter anymore," Rock muttered. Louder, he said, "General Tah was a great Jedi, but no strategist."

Obi-Wan had never met Vin Tah, so he would have to take Rock's word for it. Rock's deadpan expression and voice didn't offer any suggestion of making things up, though. He sounded tired.

But still… "I read Tah's records on the way to Bour. He was scheduled to personally teach the officers of several new battalions in his strategies."

"He was," Rock agreed.

"He was known for dozens of successful missions and his unorthodox methods," Obi-Wan pushed Rock. "How did you pull those missions off if it wasn't for Tah's instructions?"

"The plans were mine," Rock said with a slight shrug. He grumbled lowly, "Guess now I know why nobody ever told me what they thought of the plans."

"Tah claimed your plans as his own?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Guess so. I don't know what he told anyone else, but General Tah liked my plans." Another shrug. "I wasn't trained to be a commander. Why do you think my name is Rocket?"

Obi-Wan shook his head.

"One week, I'm a shiny who spouts off a plan that just so happens to work. The next, I'm a sergeant. Then a captain. Then a commander. I shot up the ranks so fast that nobody besides General Tah and my brothers knew it."

Obi-Wan nodded slowly. The 502nd was one of the earlier battalions, when the Jedi were still figuring out how the military hierarchy worked. There were rumors of clones like Rock, picked by their Jedi for one reason or another to help lead. Every man earned his place, though, and Rock was no exception.

Obi-Wan studied the clone. Rock thought he was a deserter, but Obi-Wan saw more than that.

"Do you mind if I call you Rocket again?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Call you whatever you like, you're the Jedi." There was no missing the glow of contented warmth at the suggestion, though.

"Well, Rocket, missions can go wrong in a heartbeat," Obi-Wan said. "From what I can tell, you did your best with what you had. You kept yourself alive, and Rain as well."

"I was just afraid of being alone," Rocket said, averting his eyes.

"And what does Rain have to say about it?"

"Nothing. Rain was pretty beat up in the wreck. And when he saw…" Rocket shook his head. "Rain was just a shiny then. Didn't even have a name yet. When he woke up three days after the wreck, he just stared at the rain for an hour. Didn't have a clue as to what it was. So I started calling him Rain."

"Then Rain really doesn't know Basic?"

Rocket shook his head. "Everything is just gone. He still had a little bit in there at first, but then he got a bad infection. Thought I was going to lose him, when…" Rocket hesitated, then said, "Wayfinder found us."

"The white one," Obi-Wan guessed.

"Yeah. There isn't really a word in Basic for their names. Anyway, the village was so curious about us. Kept us in the barn with the banthas for two weeks." Rocket chuckled. "But they fixed up Rain. When he finally came out of the fever, he was a blank slate. He picked up Bourish before I really realized what had happened, and I just never bothered to teach him Basic again."

"Wayfinder knows Basic, doesn't he?" Obi-Wan asked. "Why teach the villagers, but not Rain?"

"Rain healing took priority. And after a few months, it didn't seem worth it. After a year, I realized being stuck here in quiet seclusion wasn't so bad." Rocket sighed. "So. Yeah. Like I said, deserter."

Obi-Wan shook his head. "There wasn't anything else you could have done, Rocket. You did what you could, and survived until the Republic could return."

"And promptly tried to kidnap your men. Sorry about that." Rocket shook his head with a sheepish grin. "I was hoping you'd decide it wasn't worth messing with the whole village for them."

Obi-Wan returned the grin, though something in Rocket's statement didn't sit right with him. It took him a moment to understand what it was.

"Why did you think I'd leave my men behind?" Obi-Wan asked.

Rocket blinked, his grin fading. "The… the situation was escalating. You were outnumbered, and the clones were too weak to assist. It would better serve the mission if you'd left alone."

"Better serve the… I wouldn't leave Cody for that," Obi-Wan protested. "Cody has been at my side for over three years now. Outside the Order, there's nobody I trust more."

"So you stayed for the Commander," Rocket guessed.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "I care for all my men, Rocket, the same as you care for Rain. Even Grassy, who's been with us for less than a week. If it had been just him, I still wouldn't have left."

Rocket flinched, then ducked his head and said something under his breath. Since there was probably a reason he said it in Bourish, Obi-Wan didn't ask him to translate. Besides, he was too busy sorting through the implications of Rocket's response.

Before he could, Wayfinder ran up to Rocket with a flurry of growls. Rocket raised his head with an expression of alarm. At the same time, Obi-Wan's comlink chirped.

Suspecting who it was, Obi-Wan activated his comlink with a wince. "Kenobi here."

Overlapping voices spilled from the comlink. Someone -Cody and Tof, it sounded like- was arguing about Obi-Wan's absence, then Boil's voice cut through them both.

"Are you alright, General?"

"Yes, everything is fine," Obi-Wan said.

"Okay, then where are you?"

"I found Rock and Rain's ride," Obi-Wan said amicably.

"General." Obi-Wan could perfectly envision Cody's flat expression. "I fail to see the significance to the mission."

"I was curious."

Cody's exaggerated sigh was plenty loud enough for Obi-Wan to hear.

"If the General's fine," Grassy piped up, "What's got the Bouresh so upset?"

"Droids," Rocket answered for them. "Between us and them."


"Just Rocket," Obi-Wan said.


"I can explain to you soon, Commander, but for now, the villagers are going to have to move quickly. Wayfinder spotted the droids from the hills, and they haven't spotted you yet." Rocket ran a hand down his face. "But they will soon. There's nowhere everyone can hide without passing the droids first."

Still talking, Rocket began to pace, "The villagers can outrun them, but not for long. Especially if the droids call for reinforcements, they could surround the villagers. And without Wayfinder, some of them will panic. General, do any of you have long-range transmitters?"

"No, it was destroyed three days ago."

"Does anyone know where you are?"


"Are any of your other units close?"


"No one's responding on the comms," Cody said. "We're too far out now."

"Okay, so… we need to buy time," Rocket said. "Or get the Republic's attention somehow. Maybe I can rig a transmitter… no, that didn't work before; it wouldn't work now. Besides, the reactor's getting worse. With that split in the casing, any sort of surge would…"

Rocket slowed to a stop. A wide, slightly manic grin spread across Rocket's face as he turned to Obi-Wan, reminding Obi-Wan of Anakin's face just before he suggested a plan that almost got them killed. He resisted the urge to shake his head. Maybe Rocket's idea wasn't that bad.

"General," Rocket said, "How do you feel about being bait?"

Obi-Wan sighed and rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. It was a nice thought while it lasted. "What do I need to do?"

"We." Rocket hurried around Obi-Wan. "Both of us. Wayfinder is going to go back to the villagers and help them."

Growling to Wayfinder, Rocket went to his armor. He hesitated briefly, then snatched up his greaves and sat to strap them on. Obi-Wan could feel his trepidation as he swiftly armored up, but Rocket's growls never wavered.

Rocket quickly put on his armor, minus the helmet. He finished with his instructions -and reassurances- to Wayfinder and urged the leader to leave. With a final growl of worry, Wayfinder patted Rocket's head, then bounded into the night.

Rocket picked up the shoto saber. He rubbed a gloved thumb across the surface, then glanced at Obi-Wan.

"If it's alright with you, I'd like to carry this," Rocket said warily.

Obi-Wan nodded. Obi-Wan trusted Cody unquestioningly with his lightsaber, so it was easy to trust Tah's lightsaber to his Commander. Doubly so when Rocket attached it to a hook on his utility belt.

Obi-Wan held out Rocket's helmet. Rocket took it, hesitated, then quickly put it on before Obi-Wan could speak.

"We don't have much time," Rocket said. "Follow me."

Obi-Wan followed Rocket through a gap in the makeshift walls. As they hurried into the cruiser's depths, Rocket explained.

"The reactors survived the crash, but they're unstable. I haven't been able to use them for anything more than lights. Even lights are questionable right now, though. The cooling systems have steadily been failing."

Rocket paused, helmet tilted to hear something in the slow, steady creak of the cruiser. The sound trailed into tapping, then a sharp, distinct click. The lights blinked off.

"Haven't tried the lights in about a year," Rocket said. "Surprised they even worked. But that's good. Means the reactors have power. Might blow up while we're inside, though."

Obi-Wan made a mental note to keep Rocket away from Anakin. Assuming the two of them survived, of course.

Obi-Wan activated his lightsaber, providing enough light to move onward. Rocket led the way out of the bay and to a storeroom. Rocket threw his shoulder against the door, once, twice, then the door burst open on the third.

"Hope they aren't all broken like the blasters…" Rocket dug into a broken crate, then rose with a triumphant sound. "Good, still intact and… and, yes, still active."

"Rocket, what exactly is the plan?" Obi-Wan asked.

Rocket tossed a blinking detonator into the air, then caught it. "We're blowing up the clankers, General."

Not long after, Obi-Wan and Rocket stood at the top of a high rise. The moon was bright enough to light up the slopes before them. And, more importantly, the droid army marching across them.

"There's more than there was at the village," Obi-Wan noted.

"Definitely can't let them spot the villagers," Rocket said. "You ready, General?"

"Go for it."

Rocket hurled a detonator and Obi-Wan gave it a bit of a boost, so it landed almost a kilometer away. It was far from the droids still, but they hadn't been aiming for the droids.

"Here goes nothing," Rocket muttered.

Rocket pressed the button on the remote, and the detonator exploded. The flash and sound quickly caught the attention of the droids, something Obi-Wan and Rocket wouldn't have been able to accomplish otherwise unless they got closer. Obi-Wan activated his lightsaber and waved it slightly, knowing a Jedi would make a more victim to the droids.

Sure enough, the droids promptly changed direction and fired. At their distance, the bolts went wide, only a couple veering close enough that Obi-Wan had to bat them away.

"If you're going to insist on staying up here with me," Obi-Wan said, blocking a bolt from hitting Rocket, "Stay behind me."

Rocket shook his head. "It's not good enough. Look, not all the droids are following."

Obi-Wan frowned. The droids must have some sort of destination in mind, most likely they were reinforcements for the destroyed droids in the village. He'd have let them go on, but once the droids were on the plain, they could spot the villagers.

"We need to make it more tempting," Rocket said.

Before Obi-Wan could ask for suggestions, Rocket stepped away, right in the path of a stray bolt. Deflecting a bolt headed his way, Obi-Wan could only thrust out a hand-

A purple blade hummed to life in Rocket's hands, narrowly batting the bolt away. Rocket spun Tah's lightsaber with a challenging twirl.

In response, the rest of the droids turned their way.

"Two Jedi are more tempting than one," Rocket said, still waving the blade.

Obi-Wan stared at Rocket in surprise. "Who taught you to use that?"

"General Tah, plus a few tricks I figured out myself." Rocket's helmet swung toward him, and he visibly flinched. He asked in a more subdued voice, "Is that not allowed?"

Obi-Wan shrugged off his shock, his lightsaber moving more on instinct as his mind wandered. It wasn't exactly wrong for someone else to use a Jedi's lightsaber -Cody had used Obi-Wan's a time or two- but it was certainly unusual. He suddenly remembered a note in some of Tah's missions, how outside sources had noticed he sometimes seemed to be in two places at once.

Obi-Wan's mouth tilted up. It wasn't Tah's speed, as Obi-Wan had dismissed the claims to be. It was Rocket, elsewhere in the battle with Tah's lightsaber in hand. Tah must have planned it to confuse the enemy -or, no, Rocket was the strategist. Obi-Wan wondered how the request to use his Jedi's lightsaber had gone the first time…

"General Tah left that behind."

Rocket's earlier statement came back to Obi-Wan in a rush. Rocket had never explained what he'd meant.

"General!" Rocket's shout dragged Obi-Wan back to the present, his tone making it clear that he'd been calling repeatedly. "General, it's time to go!"

Obi-Wan glanced down the slope. The droids were far closer than planned, close enough that Obi-Wan was constantly batting bolts away and Rocket was struggling to keep himself covered.

"Get behind me!" Obi-Wan ordered, "And jump!"

"What do you mean-"

"Oh, never mind, just jump!"

Obi-Wan spun on his heel and, grateful that Rocket followed his lead, leaped. He gathered the Force around himself and Rocket, launching them both to the top of a lower hill. Rocket stumbled on landing, but caught himself and nodded to Obi-Wan.

Both ran onward, stopping only when they crested the rise at the lowest end of the valley, a kilometer from the cruiser's thrusters. Rocket pulled out a second remote and switched it on, producing a blinking yellow light under the button.

They waited, eyes fixed on the closest hill. Clanking footsteps came from out of sight, then the curved metal heads rose into view.

Obi-Wan and Rocket glanced at each other, then turned and ran. Obi-Wan covered their backs instinctively, having to keep both eyes on the uneven ground. Before long, they were out of the moonlight and inside the thruster.

Rocket took the lead, since he knew the ship inside and out. He quickly scaled the ladder to the walkway, and Obi-Wan leaped up to his side. Both craned their necks to make sure the droids were still following, then had to jerk back when the droids opened fire again.

"Well, that part worked," Rocket said. "Come on!"

Obi-Wan followed Rocket along the walkway to a door leading inside the ship. They pressed themselves against the wall and waited until they could hear droids marching along the walkway, then they were off again.

Obi-Wan eyed the detonators, all blinking in unison, on the walls as they ran. The droid army wasn't smart enough to realize the threat as long as he and Rocket could keep their attention. But that also meant not giving the droids any reason to shoot while still inside the ship.

"This way!" Rocket said, turning left at an intersection.

They ran to the end of the hall, then turned. Obi-Wan waited until the droids were close enough to almost see, then pushed outward.

A metal pipe, leaning against the wall, fell to the ground with a loud clatter. Obi-Wan and Rocket ran around the bend, Rocket pounding the wall with a fist as they did.

Once out of sight, they again stopped. The droids clattered to a stop.

"Which way did they go?" one asked.

"That way!"

"No, that way!"

"There's two of them!" squeaked one. "They split up!"

"Jedi think they can fool us so easily. We'll split up, too! That'll show them."

Obi-Wan grinned and Rocket gave a low laugh, then they were off again. They pulled the same trick multiple times, spreading the droids thinner and further without them ever figuring out the trick.

Eventually, Obi-Wan and Rocket ran out of passages and emerged into the splintered remains of the bridge. Gesturing to Rocket to stay put, Obi-Wan leaped to the top of the rubble and peered around.

A few clusters of droids waited at the tail of the cruiser and Obi-Wan spotted one just rounding the tip of the cruiser. With any luck, the rest of the droids were still inside.

Obi-Wan dropped beside Rocket. "Time to go."

With Obi-Wan's help, Rocket joined him in leaping out of the bridge and halfway up the slope. Not wanting to attract the attention of the droids still outside, the two climbed up the valley wall on foot. The remaining walls in the cruiser were tall enough for a corral of sorts, which would slow the droids down enough for Obi-Wan and Rocket to get out range.


They reached the top of the valley and ran, both with one eye over their shoulder in case droids were following. But a kilometer away from the valley, they remained unseen and stopped.

"Here goes nothing," Rocket said, then pushed the button.

Nothing happened.

"Too much interference," Rocket said. He bolted back toward the valley, saying over his shoulder, "Wait here."

Obi-Wan instinctively ran after Rocket, watching him eye the red light on the remote. Halfway to the valley, the light flashed yellow. Rocket skidded to a halt and pressed the button just as Obi-Wan stopped beside him. Rocket looked at him, then his eyes shot wide.



The cruiser exploded all at once, a burst of heat and energy-charged air that nearly knocked over Obi-Wan. He instinctively threw up his hands, knocking away several large pieces of debris with the Force.

Once debris stopped falling, Obi-Wan cautiously lowered his hands. The valley was alight with the smoldering remains of the cruiser. Red-hot pieces of metal littered the grass, somehow not igniting the grass. Satisfied, Obi-Wan turned to Rocket.

He was gone. Obi-Wan blinked, mystified, then it occurred to him to look down just as Rocket sat up from where he'd been thrown to the ground.

"That was amazing!" Rocket yelled, throwing his fists into the air.

Laughing, Rocket pulled off his helmet. Obi-Wan smiled at the unrestrained glee on Rocket's face. He put out a hand, and Rocket accepted the hand to his feet. He barely looked at Obi-Wan, still too excited by the explosion.

A few seconds later, though, his expression abruptly calmed and he stilled. Obi-Wan worriedly glanced toward the cruiser debris, then looked back to find Rocket's gaze on him.

"Why did you follow me, General?" Rocket asked.

"I was curious about your idea," Obi-Wan said.

"You could have been…" Rocket shook his head and smiled slightly. "Well, the mission was a success, General. Maybe we should head back now?"

"Agreed." Obi-Wan glanced down when his comlink chirped, then raised it to his mouth. "Everything's fine, Cody."

There was a bit of sputtering, then Cody just said, "That was an impressive explosion, General."

"Rocket's idea." Obi-Wan held back a smile at the touch of warmth in Rocket. "What's the situation there?"

"The leader just got back. Looks like… yeah, we're stopping, General."

"Wayfinder should get them under cover," Rocket mused. "That explosion's going to draw attention, Republic or otherwise."

"Wayfinder's the leader?" Cody asked. "Well, he's just headed back with another Bourick. Looks like you're getting an escort."

Rocket huffed. "He worries too much. I'll be right back, General."

Rocket pulled off his helmet and jogged toward the new edge of the valley. He clipped Tah's lightsaber to his belt as he did.


"Hm?" Obi-Wan looked at his comlink. "Yes, Cody?"

"It's, uh… it's Tof, sir."

Obi-Wan hummed, embarrassed by the mistake. "Did Cody fall asleep again?"

"He's watching the sky. He said if any ships saw that explosion, they won't be ours."

Obi-Wan winced. "Thank you, Tof. Tell Cody we're headed that way."

"Yes, sir."

"Rocket!" Obi-Wan called, putting away his lightsaber and comlink.

Rocket skidded back down the slope. "All clear in the valley, sir."

"Excellent. We need to move on."

Rocket's brows pinched. "Respectfully, sir, can you make it that far?."

"Unfortunately," Obi-Wan said, wondering what he looked like, "We don't have time to wait."

"Too bad." Rocket put on his helmet and his voice became business-like. "The explosion destabilized the ground around the valley. I don't know how far the damage extends underground, so we should give it a wide berth."

Obi-Wan followed Rocket's lead away from the valley before he turned them south. Even then, he was content to let Rocket take the lead. With the adrenaline of the race gone, his exhaustion had returned. Obi-Wan wished he'd had more time to meditate in the wagon, or that he could meditate while he walked, as he'd done multiple days during the campaign. But both of them needed to be on the alert for Separatists, so Obi-Wan didn't try.

Instead, he watched Rocket confidently lead. Generally, Obi-Wan didn't like to march while watching the back of Cody's head. He preferred to be side-by-side with his commander, if not covering him from the front.

Obi-Wan slowed briefly, then sped up to Rocket's side. Rocket glanced at him.

"Something wrong, General?"

"Tah never fought with you, did he?"

Rocket startled and faced forward. "Jedi don't like to fight."

"Most don't," Obi-Wan said. "But sometimes it's unavoidable. Did Tah?"

"No, sir," Rocket said, then hurried to add, "But he was always busy somewhere else. The boys and I kept the clankers busy for him."

"Including using his lightsaber to pretend Tah was in the middle of the fight."

"General Tah… didn't like weapons."

"A lightsaber is more than a weapon," Obi-Wan said. "Tell me, Rocket, what did Tah do while you and your men fought?"

"Couldn't say, sir."

Rocket's wince was visible when his next step was hesitant and his shoulders hitched slightly up. Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow.

So, Tah hadn't fought with his men. Apparently he didn't even contribute. Obi-Wan wished he could be surprised, but the early days of the war were too chaotic to ensure all the Jedi who led men into battle were adequately prepared. As long as the missions succeeded without extreme casualties, the Jedi could do as they pleased.

Tah had taken it a step further, though, when he took credit for Rocket's plans. Plans he never helped to succeed. And there was something else, something Rocket had accidentally been implying all night.

"What happened during your attempt to reclaim Bour?" Obi-Wan asked.

"We got shot down," Rocket said, still clearly uncomfortable.

"And what did Tah do when the cruiser was hit?" Obi-Wan pushed quietly.

Rocket was silent.

"Rocket, speak freely."

"He abandoned us." Rocket's voice was low, sounding ashamed. "We had a plan, but… he panicked. I didn't even know what he was doing until all… every single escape pod launched. Only the general used one, but he… he panicked and launched them all. Too late. I couldn't stop the ship's rotation… I couldn't protect my Jedi."

"Rocket." Obi-Wan shook his head slowly. "Even Jedi make mistakes. Tah made a big one. You did everything you could do."

"It's my fault-"

"It is not," Obi-Wan said, catching Rocket's arm and pulling him to a stop. "I saw how hard you were trying to protect me tonight, Rocket. I know, without a doubt, that you did everything possible to protect Tah." His voice softened. "You did nothing wrong."

Rocket dropped his head. "...thank you."

Obi-Wan nodded and the two resumed walking in silence. Despite his intent otherwise, Obi-Wan slipped into a walking trance, only jolting back to reality when he collided with something big and furry. Obi-Wan blinked up at the Bourick.

"Oh. Sorry."

"Are you okay, General?" Rocket asked. He was in the process of pulling off his armor and putting it in Wayfinder's paws.

"I'm fine."

To Obi-Wan's surprise, Rocket smirked. "Now I see where your commander got it."

"Excuse me?"

Unrepentant, Rocket growled to Wayfinder's companion, then said in Basic, "Claydigger is going to carry you back. They'll be watching out for us, so you can rest."

Claydigger, a reddish-brown Bourick who stood taller than Wayfinder, growled in agreement. Obi-Wan didn't understand the entire statement that followed, but it sounded almost like Claydigger called Obi-Wan a pup. From Rocket's growing grin, Obi-Wan guessed his translation was accurate.

"I'll be fine walking," Obi-Wan said.

"Good luck. The Bouresh love carrying Rain and I. Besides," Rocket said when Obi-Wan opened his mouth to protest, "It'll be faster this way. The Bouresh can get us back in a quarter of the time."

Obi-Wan caved with a sigh. "Very well."

Claydigger growled happily. Obi-Wan grunted in surprise when he was scooped into huge paws, but Claydigger was gentle. Gently cradling Obi-Wan like a baby. Now Obi-Wan knew why Cody had fought Mother so much.

But there was no sense in wasting time by resisting. Obi-Wan caught a glimpse of Rocket climbing onto Wayfinder's back, then Claydigger's paw curled more securely around Obi-Wan. His body angled, then the Bouresh were off in a swift lope.

Obi-Wan attempted without success to see past Claydigger's paw, but his squirming only made Claydigger growl scoldingly. Obi-Wan settled down, determined that he'd stay alert. With the way the campaign had been going, there were probably droids headed their way at that moment. And while he couldn't sense droids like living things, he could still reach out for anything that was unusual.

But everywhere he reached was calm and steady, and his body was comfortably warm against Claydigger's fur, so it was easy to relax. Easy to extend his senses further into the steady pulse of the planet and the living things surrounding him.

Gradually, Obi-Wan realized he might have extended too far. His own presence was just a fuzzy warmth in the back of his mind. He pulled back, hesitating when he realized he could feel things again. Namely, a dull ache he hadn't noticed before. Nothing severe, but annoying nevertheless. He'd probably been laying still for too long, so he should really get up, he knew…

Cold air touched him, and he shivered. Voices came from seemingly nowhere.

"...shouldn't have put him down."

"Use this."

"That's your blanket, Cody, don't you dare."


"Shhh, you'll wake him up."

Obi-Wan's eyes dragged open. Cody was leaning over him, doing a fantastically obvious job of struggling to stay awake.

"See?" Boil said, moving alongside Cody. "Here, Skipper, get his other arm. Cody, as you were."

Cody blinked at Boil, his expression slowly tightening into a scowl. Boil didn't even flinch, just firmly pushed Cody back.

Obi-Wan gave a slight huff of laughter. He moved his heavy limbs, fully intending to sit up and review what he had missed, but Skipper put an uncertain hand on his shoulder.

"Hold on, General. We'll help you."

Boil returned to Obi-Wan's side, and he and Skipper hauled Obi-Wan upright so he was sitting before he could fully comprehend what they were doing. Obi-Wan blinked blearily, struggling to follow why the two clones were pushing him until his back hit a wall. Boil let go of his arm, and Obi-Wan unintentionally slumped sideways. His body hit plastoid and Obi-Wan side-eyed the familiar paint.

"Cody?" Obi-Wan murmured.

"Insubordination," Cody muttered back.

"If that's what it takes," Boil said.

It took Obi-Wan a few seconds to realize Boil was tucking a fur around Obi-Wan and Cody, like he was tucking a couple of kids into bed. Obi-Wan snorted at the mental image, but didn't have the energy to protest anymore. He was warm again under the fur. He closed his eyes, and not even Cody's mumbling protests could keep him from slipping back to sleep.

"-up, get up!"

"Can anyone see if it's ours?!"

Obi-Wan snapped awake to his men scrambling for blasters and pointing at the predawn sky. He and Cody threw off the fur and stood, nearly in sync. Bouresh were growling and shifting, scanning the empty plain. Cody lifted his binocs and Obi-Wan squinted to the west.

"What the…?" Cody said. He held the binocs out to Obi-Wan. "Am I seeing things, or is that General Skywalker's battalion?"

Raising his eyebrows in surprise, Obi-Wan accepted the binocs. It took a moment to track the two incoming ships, and Obi-Wan hummed in surprise once he did.

"Hm. You're right, Cody." Obi-Wan lowered the binocs and called toward the front of the caravan, "They're ours!"

Rocket smiled and howled. At once, the Bouresh settled and growled happily. Cheers erupted from the clones. Tangle jolted and got halfway to his feet despite still being half-asleep, resulting in another scramble, this time with everyone trying to catch Tangle when he fell.

Cody stared at the confusion in the back of the wagon, then shook his head. There was no missing the low snort of laughter, though.

Obi-Wan gave Cody back the binocs, then leaned against the side of the wagon to wait.

Before long, two gunships landed near the wagons. Anakin emerged from the closest one before the doors were fully open, wearing an expression of worry. He stopped short, looking from Obi-Wan to Cody to the general confusion behind them, then back to Obi-Wan. He crossed his arms, worry melting into relief he tried to pass off as annoyance.

"Where have you been?" Anakin asked.


Anakin smirked. Rex left the gunship with Kix, and the medic went straight to the wagon. Tup darted from the other gunship to join Kix, with Fives trailing behind.

"Any injuries?" Kix asked.

"Tangle's knee and Grassy's hand are the only major ones," Cody said.

"You should have your jaw looked at, Cody," Obi-Wan added.

Cody looked at Obi-Wan and didn't respond.

"Uh-huh," Kix dead-panned. "Where's Tangle and Grassy?"

Grassy lifted his bandaged hand, and Skipper popped up long enough to point to where Tangle had been set back down. Kix reached up to climb into the wagon, but one of the Bouresh stepped forward and reached into the wagon to lift Grassy out.

Kix briefly inspected Grassy's hand, then nodded. "It'll be fine for now. Hop in, all of you."

Grassy stepped away, but promptly wobbled. The Bourick scooped him back up and calmly carried him to the gunship, ignoring Anakin and the 501st staring at them.

"The Bouresh have been extremely helpful," Obi-Wan said while the rest of the 212th were lifted down. "What are you doing here?"

Anakin raised an eyebrow. "We haven't been able to contact anyone on the ground for three days."

"But, the camp-"

"Is still intact," Anakin interrupted. "Droids damaged the transmitter, that's all. But when we realized nobody had heard from you in three days, either, we took out ships to search."

Obi-Wan breathed a sigh of relief and hopped to the ground, then stumbled. Anakin was at his side in a second, grabbing Obi-Wan's arm to steady him.

"I'm not hurt," Obi-Wan said, waving him off.

Anakin looked at Cody, who betrayed his general without a touch of guilt in his voice.

"He's had maybe eight hours of sleep in the last three days."

"And you've had less," Obi-Wan grumbled.

"I slept almost all night," Cody said.

Boil clapped a hand on Cody's shoulder. "You slept four hours at most. And not at all for the twenty-four hours before that. You're welcome."

"When have you had time to keep track of that?" Cody asked, sounding honestly confused.

"The men on watch aren't just watching for Seppies."

Boil let himself be lifted to the ground, stalling Cody's retort, if he'd had any. Not that it mattered, since Mother then lifted Cody and cradled him while carrying him to the gunship.

"I told you to stop-!" Cody protested.

Obi-Wan looked at the others. Most of them were inside one of the gunships already. Grassy leaned on Fives, who stared in apparent awe of Tof and Reach sound asleep on their feet. Tangle was on the ground while Kix properly took care of his knee.

"Thank you, Tup," Anakin said, sounding smug.

A flurry of footsteps made Obi-Wan turn in time to see Tup quickly lower a medical scanner. Obi-Wan looked flatly at Anakin. He decided he'd lost his touch when Anakin continued to grin at him.

That or Obi-Wan was more tired than he thought.

He was tired enough to almost forget that he was missing two men. He stopped short halfway to the gunship and turned, ignoring Anakin's protests.

"Rocket! Rain!"

Rocket emerged from among the Bouresh, Rain in tow. Obi-Wan wished that Rocket wouldn't look at him with such wariness. Rain had caught on, eyes darting nervously at Anakin's men when they exclaimed in surprise.

"Will the villagers continue to the Republic camp? It will be safer until we can clear out the Separatists for good."

Rocket nodded. "I believe so, sir. We've gone this far."

"Very good. You and Rain will continue on with them, then. Anakin, can you spare some men to guide?"

"Sure," Anakin said, eyeing the pair. "Obi-Wan, are they…?"

"Rocket and Rain," Obi-Wan said, gesturing to them. "They're the lone survivors of the 502nd Battalion, now of 212th."

Rocket startled.

"Wasn't their ship shot down two years ago?" Anakin asked.

"Three, actually."

"General," Rocket said, "Did I… mishear you? The 212th?"

"Well, you need a new battalion, after all."

"Even after-"

"You helped me blow up that droid unit?" Obi-Wan slanted his eyes sideways at Anakin's impressed noise. "Plus, once Bour is fully under Republic command, we'll need translators. You and Rain are perfectly suited for the role."

"Th-thank you, General."

Obi-Wan smiled, recognizing all the things Rocket couldn't say out loud. Rocket -and Rain, mimicking a second later- saluted both Jedi, then turned and returned to the caravan.

A/N: Guess I still suck at endings. :) The plot derailed halfway through, so I didn't really know where to end, so here ya go! Someone let me know if I left anything unanswered!

Tup is assistant medic to Kix because of... reasons.