– Kal Skirata
“So this is Mandalore”
Even without having ever visited, it felt…right. Darman opened his helmet filters and breathed in the the air. Even surrounded by the imperial garrison he could smell Manda’yaim through it all.
“I thought you two had been here before.”
“We’ve heard about it most our lives, but no, this is the first time.”
Darman couldn’t blame Niner for not explaining anything to Rede on the shuttle ride to Mandalore. How do you tell a squad mate that you plan on deserting him to find your brothers who you haven’t seen in months? Plus even Imperial intelligence could tell that Rede truly knew nothing if he was questioned.
“How can we meet your old contacts if you’ve never been here before?”
“We know where to find them. Speaking of which we better get going if we want to find them quickly to get our intel. Rede, could you square some quarters with the quartermaster? We have to get going.”
“Can I come meet your contacts if you have to go again? I’ve never been into a city, even as small as Keldabe is supposed to be.”
“We’ll see what we find out today. Come on Darman”
As we turned and left, I could see Rede standing still, probably looking up the comm code for the quartermaster, before walking off slowly, obviously still getting used to moving with his HUD .
“Wish we could have had more time to get the squad squared away.” Even on the eve of our…departure, Niner was still the Sergeant who wanted the squad to be a fine-tuned machine.
“Hopefully he’ll find a new squad that’ll treat him better.”
“Either way, time to call Ordo.”
While Niner was on the comlink with Kyrimout, we left the garrison headed for Keldabe. I could easily see myself raising Kad here. But that required getting rid of the Jedi. Melusar was right: Force users were always trouble, and none of them could be allowed near Kad. None.
“ Okay. Ordo says they’re already at the Oyu’bat.”
“Apparently the oldest cantina on the planet. Come on, he told me the way.”
As they walked, the both took in the various sights and smells of Mandalore and Keldabe. Mandalorian street merchants selling baubles while still in full beskar’gam seemed perfectly natural in a place like this. They did notice that they were given a small berth. Even based off of Mandalorian armor, the Imperial gear noticeable set them apart.
“Here’s the place.”
The definition of “oldest cantina on the planet” didn’t do it justice. The Oyu’bat looked…rustic from the outside. However, the greeting once they walked in definitely wasn’t rustic.
“How many times do I have to tell you Imperials…”
“It’s okay, they’re with us.”
Even with the barkeep’s hand hidden under the bar, Darman and Niner felt much better hearing Ordo’s calm voice from the back corner.
“Not in here they aren’t. Take your business with the imps outside.”
Ordo and two other Mandos got up and silently walked out, pushing Niner and Darman ahead of them.
“Buckets off Vode. We have a lot to talk about.”
With their buckets off, Niner and Darman could finally see who Ordo had with him.
Atin and Fi.
Mandalore definitely wasn’t like Centax.
Rede told himself he technically wasn’t disobeying orders. He had already gotten quarters for the squad and stowed their gear. He could have waited for Niner and Darman to return, but they didn’t feel like his squad yet. They spent so much time without him, so why not use his solo time to explore. Plus, its not like he had anything else to do around the base while they were out.
The first shock came as soon as Keldabe came into view. There was a complete clashing of new and old, most strikingly evidenced by a Mandalmotors starship lot next to a cantina with wood that looked like it had seen far more winters then any of the Mandos inside.
The second incredible thing was the smell. Centax had smelled…clean and sterile. Everything had no personality. Then the barracks on Coruscant was more of the same. But this…Mandalore was a kaleidoscope of smells. Exotic foods, pelts from creatures all over the galaxy, Mandalore itself…it all came together to create the most incredible smell Rede had experienced in his short life span. It was all Rede could do to walk slowly through the streets and keep track of where he was while taking it all in. In no time at all he realized he had been wandering till dusk. Darman and Niner were probably back already, or almost there. Rede quickly turned back to the garrison, more preoccupied with taking in everything he had seen then worrying about his errant squadmates. He couldn’t consider anything other then all he had seen, smelled, heard,…
It was like a family reunion. They just stood there for a moment before clasping each other’s forearms in Mandalorian greeting.
”It’s been a long time Vode.”
“Don’t worry, I’m still the best looking one here.”
Everyone craked a smile a Fi’s horrible joke. It was the old squad, back together again at last.
Ordo cut Fi off with a shake of his head.
“No time for this now. We need to work out when we can get Darman and Niner to Kyrimout without the Imperials tracking them.
“We go now. I need to get to Kad.”
“No. I need to get to my boy. I won’t sit around while Jedi are so close to him.
“Dar, he’s perfectly safe.”
“Not until I get there.”
“Enough.” Even without rank, Ordo was definitely still in charge. “It’s too late for that today. Everyone will be asleep at Kyrimout by the time we return. Tomorrow we will take you, after we disable anything in your suits that might let the Imps track you.”
“Ordo, I need to get to my son.”
“First thing tomorrow Darman. Not sooner”
Darman couldn’t take it anymore. Without even replacing his bucket, he stormed off into the crowd, too furious to listen to his brothers.
“Go, Niner. Make sure he gets back okay. Someone will meet you here at 0700 tomorrow and take you to the speeder. K’oyacyi vode.