Title: A Very Serious Mission? Author: Raissa Baiard Timeframe: Saga OT, Rebels Season One, 5 BBY Characters: Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, Ezra Bridger This is the first part of my Holiday Fic Gift for @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha . Her request was: Spoiler: Request A story in Saga-OT 3 things to include: -An early mission which helps the crew bond and become cohesive as a team -Fun time after the mission wraps up - The line: "This droid needs a memory wipe, immediately!" Characters I want to have included=4: Hera; Kanan; Ezra; Ahsoka ** Exclude: serious injury/death of characters. The ship can be in need of repairs however. Thank you, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, for being one of the most enthusiastic and supportive members of our fanfic community! I always look forward to your comments. Much love and hugs Raissa Thanks also to @Findswoman and @Ewok Poet for beta reading! ——— Evening on Lothal was beautiful. The setting sun painted the rounded stone outcroppings in shades of orange and pink. A gentle wind stirred the tall grass into ripples, and the scent of prairie grass and wildflowers was heady on the breeze. Small golden-brown birds fluttered in and out of the waves of grass. They chirruped to one another as they caught insects to bring back to their chicks for dinner. Standing at the foot of the Ghost’s ramp, Hera breathed deeply and savored the tranquility. And then the shouting began. Kanan and Ezra had gone out onto the grassland for training. Theoretically, Kanan was working with him on proper meditation techniques in a tranquil setting, without all the distractions provided by the other crew members. The reality… they were arguing again. Today, Ezra was complaining it was impossible to completely empty his mind. Yesterday, Kanan had insisted Ezra wasn’t practicing enough. Some days it seemed to Hera that they never stopped. A bevy of the tawny birds burst into startled flight as Ezra stalked through the tall grass, his hands clenched at his sides. Kanan strode after him. “Ezra, stop! You just can’t—“ Ezra stopped abruptly and glared up at the Jedi. “Just can’t. You’re always telling me what I just can’t do! Is there ever going to be anything I can do around here?” “After you learn some discipline, maybe!” Kanan scowled, his brows drawing together. “When you learn to take things seriously. You’re part of a team now, not a loose cannon! You have to—” “Oh, yeah…’have to’, your other favorite words.You know what was best about being on my own? There weren’t any uptight Jedi telling me what I had to or just couldn’t do all the time!” He stomped up the ramp past Hera and disappeared into the Ghost. Kanan watched him go. His scowl faded as he joined Hera at the end of the ramp, and he sighed, shoulders slumping. “Sometimes I think I’m never going to get through to him, Hera. It’s like trying to tame a feral Loth-cat. He doesn’t trust anyone. He doesn’t listen.” “Give it time.” It was as if Kanan had forgotten the person he’d been when she’d first met him—the cynical loner who was used to doing everything on his own terms, for his own reasons. Or maybe he hadn’t and that was why he pushed Ezra so hard. “Ezra’s been by himself for a long time. It’s going to take a while for him to learn he doesn’t have to keep up his defenses all the time now.” She slipped her arm around his waist and led him up the ramp. “We received our latest dispatch from Fulcrum. The Imperials discovered the identity one of our operatives on Garel, and the only way she could get enough credits to flee the planet was to sell her fire-gem ring. Unfortunately, that ring also contains a data dot with the names and locations of mines and factories that are secretly functioning as labor camps for political prisoners. Fulcrum needs us to retrieve the ring and recover the intel.” She paused as they reached the hatch. “I’d like to take Ezra, too.” A frown touched Kanan’s lips; his brow creased. “I’m not sure he’s ready for—” “Kanan, how can Ezra ever learn to be part of our team if he’s never included?” She could tell from the set of Kanan’s jaw what his answer was going to be even before he said, “Next time. Right now, he’s just too unpredictable. When he’s shown me he can follow directions instead of doing what he wants. When he starts acting like this isn’t all just another game to him.” “Those things you were telling him about being part of a team? About trust and listening? It has to go both ways.” Just like the feral Loth-cat Kanan had compared him to, Ezra wasn’t going to change without being offered trust and acceptance. A steady stream of reprimands, of can’ts and musts, was only going to put his back up. “One of these days, you’re going to have to trust Ezra.” “Oh all right…he can come.” The frown deepened into Kanan’s Very Serious Jedi scowl, and he crossed his arms over his chest. “But he has to follow orders. This is a big responsibility. Fulcrum and the Alliance are counting on us, and he can’t go off half-cocked on some crazy…” “I’m sure Ezra will do just fine,” Hera cut in before he could really get going on the Seriousness of Responsibility and Everything Else. She loved Kanan, but sometimes he could get just a bit carried away. “Besides, I have a special project I need his help with, and I think he’ll be eager to assist.” She opened the hatch door and Ezra nearly tumbled out onto the ramp. “Won’t you?” “Heh.” Ezra had the good grace to look abashed as he picked himself up, but his sheepish expression didn’t last long, quickly replaced by his customary cocky grin. “Yeah, sure. I can handle anything.” He darted a challenging look at Kanan, daring the Jedi to say something. Kanan rolled his eyes and gave Hera a “see what I have to deal with” look. She kept herself from rolling her own eyes in return. How could the two of them not see how alike they really were? “Good,” she said, forestalling any further discussion of serious rules and the unfairness thereof. “Because we’re leaving first thing in the morning.” ———- Kanan was not expecting Garel City to be in the midst of a celebration when they arrived. Buildings were draped with green, gold and purple buntings, decorated with strange symbols, some of which looked rather like the suits of sabacc cards—cups, staves, sabers, and coins. The streets were lined with stands where vendors enthusiastically hawked their wares. Booths with amulets adorned with crystal, colorful feathers and even thesselbeast’s feet seemed to be common, as did kiosks with tacky trinkets, Arkudan dice and Eyes of Mesra. Other tents offered the services of fortune tellers who would read cards or dice or tea leaves...and if you didn’t have any tea, you could buy it at any of the dozens of food vendors who’d also popped up. Beyond them barkers called out for passers-by to try their luck, step right up, win a prize! Kanan looked around in distaste. “What is all this? The whole city’s turned into some sort of cheap gamblers’ hangout!” Hera, unperturbed by the noise and bustle of the crowd, glanced at him over her shoulder. “Oh, did I forget to mention Garel City’s annual Fortunata Festival was this week?” “Fortunata Festival?” Ezra was going to give himself a neck injury if he didn’t stop trying to look in every direction at once, Kanan thought. The boy’s eyes were bugged out like a startled Rodian’s and his face was set in the crazy Loth-cat grin that usually meant he was about to do something he shouldn’t. Chopper, trailing behind him, prodded Ezra with a grasper to keep him moving. “Never heard of it before, but it looks like fun! What’s it all about?” “It’s an old Garellian custom; before the Republic standardized the Galactic calendar, it marked the beginning of the new year,” Hera explained, waving away a persistent Squib who was holding out a thesselbeast foot charm. “Long ago, Garellians used to have ceremonies to asking the blessings of the gods of luck for the coming year. Taking risks—hunting wild animals, challenging rivals to duel, performing dangerous feats of strength—was considered a way to prove of one’s devotion.” She smiled, glancing at the revelry around them. “Of course, the festival’s become quite a bit more worldly, but they still consider this a time to seek good luck and take chances. The Garellians still look at it as an auspicious time to begin new ventures like starting businesses or getting married,.” “A whole festival for good luck?” Ezra’s grin widened. “I like it! We could sure use some of it, huh, guys?” Kanan snorted. Of course Ezra would like a festival built on taking crazy chances. It was practically all he did. “There’s no such thing as luck; there’s only the Force. Taking foolish risks is a good way to get yourself killed.” “Aw, c’mon, we take risks all the time! Seriously, when was the last time you went a week without doing something stupid and risky?” “Those are calculated risks.” Trust the boy not to realize there was a difference. “We always prepare—“ “Yeah, but you’ll never be prepared for everything,” Ezra protested. “Sometimes you’ve just gotta jump in and wing it. Ooh, and speaking of wings…” He paused to check out a stand doing a brisk business selling fried avian drenched in a sauce that was an unnatural shade of orange. “I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on the boontaspice bantha wings. And the deep-fried exosquidra on a stick. With some of that double chocolate beebleberry ripple ice cream for dessert!” Once he’d finished drooling over the mind-boggling—and stomach-churning—array of foodstuffs on display, Ezra turned to Hera, one eyebrow cocked sardonically. “And I bet I can win you a stuffed tooka at rocket darts way before Master Grumpy here can!” Chopper gave an electronic chortle and added his opinion that a blindfolded lizard-monkey could beat either of them. “Ezra, be serious! We’re on a mission!” Kanan sighed in exasperation. So much for Ezra taking this responsibility seriously. So much for focus and discipline. A Jedi had to be able to concentrate on his duty, not get distracted by...fried exosquidra on a stick. Really? Ugh, how could the boy even think about eating that stuff? “We don’t have time to play silly carnival games or stuff ourselves with a bunch of disgusting fair food.” “Fine,” Ezra huffed, glowering at Kanan, his brows drawing together like a line of blue-black thunderclouds. “Then let’s go do our very serious mission. Not like it’s gonna take us long just to buy a ring. Then we can come back and hit the fair on our way home.” Hera twitched her lekku, signing “maybe“. “Once we get our job done, we might have time for dinner before heading back to Lothal.” “We’ll see,” Kanan added firmly. If Ezra thought they were going to rush through things and botch their mission just so he could win a stuffed tooka... “Yeah, heard that one before…” Ezra jammed his hands into the pockets of his coveralls, slouching the way only an overly dramatic teenager who thought life was so unfair could. “Sheesh,” Kanan heard him mutter to Hera, “Does he even know how to have fun?” ——— Notes: The Fortunata Festival is fanon, invented for this story.