The ground shuddered with a distant thump, cot slowly rocking back and forth and stirring Jeir Katarn in his sleep. He cracked his eyes open slowly, the stress on his body protesting angrily and making the eyelids heavier than they should have been. A blue-grey morning sky poured into his pupils which adjusted with a little resistance.
Another happy morning.
Jeir stretched out to the Force like a lover in the same bed as he, the flow of life pouring into him and easing his aches and pains. He didn’t have to check his chronometer to know it was later than he usually would have woken up, his best guess landing around a total of four hours of sleep. While being a Jedi meant you didn’t have to sleep as long as those less fortunate in their sensitivity to the Force–or more, he admitted–it did not mean he has less desire for a good two days or solid sleep.
A familiar scuffling of feet brought Jeir out of his train of thought, and he smiled while sitting up in his makeshift cot and yawned loudly. The flap to his tent opened and in stepped an older man, head to toe in well-worn Mandalorian armor and carrying his buy’ce under his right arm. “Good morning, Kal.”
Kal’or smiled, his leathery face turning folds into more folds which was further shadowed by a silvery spread of facial hair. “And to you, Katarn. Sleeping in on me I see?”
Jeir coughed, shooting him a look of half annoyance and a lopsided grin mixed into one. “Yeah, well…eh, I got nothin’.”
“Ha!” Kal’or huffed, pulling himself up a container to sit on and easing himself onto it. While the man was in his sixties and surely not nearly as quick as he had once been, Jeir had seen the man move faster than most fresh-faced Commandos did coming out of boot camp. The joints may need oiling, but there was something to be said for the years of warfare that had given Kal’or his strong-as-beskar confidence.
“What’s on the agenda for today?” Jeir asked.
“That would depend on you,” Kal’or replied. “The front pushing on the nothern security gates is getting close to pushing through, though I’d say from the casualties those boys could use a morale boost. Gettin’ sloppy.”
Jeir got up from his bed, stepping over to the one luxury he had on this backwater planet…a caf maker…and put his cup under the dispenser’s nozzle. “Let’s send base camp’s security detail over there as reinforcement. They’ve been itching to get back on the line, hopefully that enthusiasm is contagious by the time they get up there.”
“We breakin’ camp, then? I don’t think it’s wise to remove the only men we have back here guarding the place.”
After a long delay the caf spewed out of the nozzle, the steam dancing up and carrying the aroma to Jeir’s nostrils. “Aye, I think we can pack the camp up. I’ll take care of getting it all onto the transport, no use making the troops waste their time and energy doing what I can do in half the time.”
“Fierfek, you just want to show off those Jedi skills.”
Jeir shrugged. “You know the lady’s love it, old man.”
“Ha!” The laugh had become the trademark of Kal’or…that single, hardy laugh that you couldn’t help but grin over even though you knew you would hear it several times through each conversation. After nearly a year of constant fighting alongside the Mandalorian he had come to think of him as family. The feeling appeared to be mutual, as his elder would occasionally call him Jer’ika, which he understood meant “little Jeir” in an affectionate manner.
“Speaking of the lady-folk, where’s Kiiara?”
Jeir paused, thinking for a moment, then sipping from his caf. It was hotter than he expected, just like every morning, and the tip of his tongue went numb as a result. “She’s running a recon pass on the south side of the city, taking advantage of all the attention on the north side.”
“They may just being a ragtag of warlords to us, Jinx, but they still have Imperial equipment and Imperial training.” Kal’or stared Jinx in the eyes, Jeir knowing that when Kal used the name “Jinx” he was calling his attention. Jeir had come to be at peace with his past and felt it was time to lose the old bounty hunting name he had adopted, instead going by his proper birth name. “They’re going to see a one-two punch like a north side feint for the south coming.”
“I trust you judgement in strategy far more than mine, Kal,” Jeir replied. “I honestly do. Kiiara’s merely checking the condition of their southern defenses, and more importantly infrastructure, for our own consideration. I think they call it intel.”
Kal’or grunted, taking his helmet out from under his arm and sliding it over his head. “Bah, you’re a fool if you think a girl like her is gonna blend in there, Jer’ika.”
Jeir waited a few moments for Kal’or to get some distance from his tent, sighing. He had made a good point, and though he hated to admit it he could feel worrying thoughts creeping into his mind.