From the moment my feet touched the soil of my homeworld I felt sick to my stomach. Part of me thought it was best to turn around, get back on my ship, and leave the past behind. The other part of me needed to see her again, to know she was doing okay, to say… something. It hadn’t taken much to track her down once I’d made the connection between little Mherda and the now famous Aikiyc Vhau.
Part of me wanted to hate Gareth Vhau. He’d been my best friend when we were children but those days were long over. I wanted to hate him for taking my little girl. But I couldn’t hate him, I knew that if she’d been with him she’d been taken care of.
It had been decades since I’d seen that old farm, fields I’d played in when my father was off being Mand’alor. Again I thought about turning around. Instead, I raised my hand and knocked. Gareth answered the door. His red hair and bright eyes were familiar, even if the lines on his face hadn’t been there before. A boy peeked around him, not shy - just trying to get a better look. The kid was green skinned, ritually tattooed.
“Kot’is, ad’ika, why don’t you take your new beskad out back and run some drills til your buir gets back? I’ve got some business to take care of.”
The kid, I could now see, was clad in beskar’gam and his nod told me he knew what taking care of business meant. He was a Mandalorian boy. “That your boy, Garath?” I asked.
“My grandson. You should never have come back here, Ash’aad. You’re lucky I’m the one who opened the door. Whatever you are here for, turn around and go. I’m giving you this one chance, a chance you wouldn’t have gotten if my girl was here.”
I frowned, “That’s Mherda’s boy then? The Mirialan kid?”
“Just go, Ash’aad.” There was a cold threat to Garath’s voice. He wasn’t a man prone to displays of anger or violence, but he had a cold fury when something crossed a line that made him hard to face down.
“I want to talk to my daughter.”
I can’t say I expected the blow. The punch caught me entirely off guard. Before I had time to recover, my legs had been swept from underneath me. A stiff kick to the ribs spun me and put my face in the dirt. I could feel the cold point of that damned beskad sword Garath had always insisted on using, it was pressed against the back of my neck.
“Don’t you ever call her that again, Ash’aad. She’s my daughter. You abandoned her. You nearly killed her. And worst of all you were risking her spirit. If she’d died that night what would have happened to her? She could only say the Resol’nare in basic, she didn’t understand her own clan.”
This was the second time in my life I’d found myself under Garath Vhau’s blade. He sounded a lot angrier this time.
“If I ever see you again, if you ever come near Aikiyc again, that year you spent not moving your legs will feel like a vacation. I’ll make sure you never move another muscle from the neck down.”
“Buir?” A woman’s voice, I heard two sets of footsteps approaching quickly. “Buir, what’s going on? Who is….”
I raised my head a little to look at her, ignoring the pinch of the Mandalorian iron blade. Then the pressure of the blade was gone and Gareth snatched me to my feet. For the first time in many years I got a real look at my daughter.
She was still small, short and thin, but she carried herself like a warrior and her presence was anything but small. She still carried nasty scars down the side of her face - scars I had given her. A Mirialan man stood beside her, clad in Jedi robes.
I only got a moment to look her over before I was staring down the barrel of a blaster pistol.
Gareth let me go all of a sudden, I didn’t think he wanted to be standing behind me when she pulled the trigger.
“Ad’ika…” I heard him say.
“Aikiyc, put the gun down.” The voice must have come from the Jedi.
“Mherda… Mher’ika… please. I just wanted to see you.” I raised my hands, trying to show surrender. If half of the rumors I’d heard about her were true she could take down an old hunter like me without even trying.
“Don’t you call me that!” she shouted, fury contorting her delicate features, “That’s not who I am. You have no right to call me that!”
“Aikiyc,” the green skinned Jedi’s voice was firm, “Put the blaster away. You don’t have to listen to him, you can walk away right now, but don’t sink to that level. Put the blaster away.”
After a tense moment an expression of calm came over her face. I wondered if the Jedi had used some sort of mind trick on her. Then she loosened her grip on the blaster and let it fall to the ground at her feet.
“I never got the chance to do this,” she said, her face still calm but venom in her voice, “I formally declare you dar’buir. You failed in your responsibilities as a father and you are no longer my father. I renounce the name Mherda Rhytt and the Rhytt family. I am Aikiyc Vhau, my father is Garath Vhau. Ash’aad Rhytt you are dar’buir.”
She stepped past me and walked into the house. After a moment the Jedi followed her. Garath stayed, “I meant what I said, you ever come near my daughter again, I’ll take your head Ash’aad. I’m sorry things had to come to this between us - but its all your doing.”
He was right of course. It was my doing. He picked up her discarded blaster and stepped past me to go inside.
At least I knew she was alive now. For years I wondered if she’d died that night. She was alive. She was one of the greatest bounty hunters in the galaxy. Strangely, she had a Jedi - not a Mandalorian man - by her side and a boy that was clearly the Jedi’s child. I hoped she was happy.
But she wasn’t my daughter anymore. By all the laws of Mandalore, that word had been all it took. It was the greatest shame a man could carry, being disowned by his children. But I had plenty of reasons to be ashamed.
I went back to my ship, slowly taking in all I could of the town and the fields. I’d never come back home now, there was no reason to. I wanted one last good look at all of it. I put my ship outside of Mando’yaim’s orbit before I sat down at the table and opened a bottle of narcolethe. I took a swig from the bottle before I took out the bag of powder. I put neat little lines of glitteryll down on the table and I took them until I could no longer remember what I was taking them for.