"How's he doing?" the Wizard asked upon entering the isolation room, glancing through the observation window at the heavily restrained Jedi and another individual he didn't recognize.
Leia was sitting in one of the chairs of the observation area, typing away on a portable holo pad. In fact when she wasn't busy drafting up the constitution and framework for a new galactic government with the other political big shots one could count on her to be right here. It cut into her already meager sleeping schedule, and more than once had she found herself waking up in a spare hospital bed, not even aware someone had moved her from the uncomfortable chairs.
They didn't allow her any closer to Skywalker after he'd tried to force choke her through the restraints. Whatever Vader had done to the young man in the few short days he'd been under his stump- er thumb was quite permanent.
Harry was never very adept with the mind arts. Sure, he was proficient at Occlumency and knew enough of the flip side of the coin to get by. But undoing conditioning of this magnitude was quite beyond him.
So Leia had called in some favours, mainly in the form of a certain Togrutan Jedi from the clone wars who was presently in the room below trying to unscramble Skywalker's mind. It had taken a week for her to arrive after answering Leia's summoning.
The Princess shook her head. "I'm not sure. She's just standing there with one hand on his forehead. They've been like this for half an hour."
He took a seat next to her, hand patting her leg reassuringly. It was just meant to be a sympathetic gesture but she quickly found it and squeezed tightly.
Leia initially had been overjoyed when Harry had returned with her Brother, the last part of her family still alive apart from Winter, only to despair when her twin had attacked her.
Any residual guilt he felt depriving those two of a potential father figure vanished while he'd held her after the incident, shoulder damp from her tears. Vader was evil to the core. Killing him had definitely been the right choice.
"So she's a force sensitive then?" he asked, having taken her for a nurse with really odd scrubs.
Leia nodded in affirmation. "A full-fledged Jedi from before the purge. Granted she'd been quite young when it happened but the fact that she was still alive after Order 66 proved her to the genuine article."
'So there were more of them around then?' he thought, watching the woman work on their friend. Solo and Chewie arrived shortly after, and the two moved apart before the door even finished hissing open.
"I know pal, and as soon as Luke gets back on his feet we'll go to Kashyyyk and visit your family ok." The human smuggler and his furry friend were itching to get back out into the thick of it from the sounds of it, despite just returning from Bakura and the clusterfuck that happened there."
Harry perked up. He'd heard the aliens that had attacked the planet Solo just mentioned looked very similar to Dinosaurs. He mentally kicked himself again for not going when Mothma had asked, but Luke took precedence.
"Oh? And just where do you think you're going?" Leia asked, eyebrow raised dangerously. Potter failed to supress a smirk and covered it with a fake cough that the others just associated with the sterile environment of the Hope.
The air was just too clean here.
Han was temporarily saved by the Togrutan who'd been with Luke up to this point.
"Lady Tano!" the Princess addressed the former Jedi Knight respectfully. "Were you able to help Luke?"
Harry had never seen a member of her species before. She was humanoid, with orange skin and white face paint. Or were they tattoos? But the most prominent feature was the twin montrals and head tails, which were white and blue in a striped pattern.
It almost looked like elaborate headgear, and reminded him of a Pharaoh mask he's seen back in the Museum of England's Egyptian exhibit in the mid twenty-first century.
The few light age lines on her exotic face deepened as she frowned.
"My Princess, I'm afraid he is well beyond my capabilities." She spoke in a soft tone. "I suspect Vader used Castellan Restraints and warped his mind during the process."
Potter frowned, frustrated that he couldn't help Luke more directly. He'd tried obliviating the last three weeks of his memories, but Luke remained just as hostile as before towards anyone that identified themselves with the Alliance despite not recalling joining Vader or even interacting directly with the Empire. It was perplexing.
"However there may be some who might be able to help." She let the comment hang in the room for a moment.
Han spoke up first. "Well, out with it. Who are you talking about?" Leia slapped him on the shoulder for being rude. Tano though licked her lips pensively, recalling a conversation she'd overheard a long time ago between the late Shaak Ti and one Quinlan Vos, who had been Ayala Secura's master. The Rutian Twi'lek had been captured and brainwashed with a combination of Spice and the Dark side of the Force while on a mission.
The two had discussed treatment options, amongst them seeking out the help of an obscure tribe of force sensitives in the outer rim.
"The Witches of Dathomir." She supplied, though their responses were, as she expected, those of ignorance.
"Who?" Solo asked. Harry, who'd been pretty interested up to this point, was now standing. Were they magic users like himself and Mara?
Miss Tano though dashed his hopes immediately after.
"They are tribal force users that have adapted their powers in…interesting ways."
"So they're not actual Witches?" Leia asked, having seen the excitement on her friend's face.
Ahsoka shook her head, not understanding the significance of response. Harry's shoulders slumped slightly but he got over it quickly. If these force users could help Skywalker then he'd travel to their Planet with him.
Before he could do that they'd first need to get some intel on this place.
Alliance intelligence was scarce on the details when it came to Dathomir itself. And it wasn't because they didn't want to help. Airen Cracken was Harry's new best friend after the interrogations had wrapped up a few days prior.
Many of the Moffs and Admirals had required extensive…'massaging' before they'd divulged anything of significance, but the results were being felt across the galaxy.
In the span of a few weeks the formerly mighty Imperial Navy had gone from organized and efficient fighting force to clusters of ships that faced dire supply issues, from Tiabana gas for their weapons systems to hypermeter for the star drives. And many ships were burning through these consumables at an alarming rate.
Skirmishes were reported to occur almost daily, with lesser Moffs looking to fill the massive power void left behind by the individuals sitting in the brig. The biggest player amongst them was Counselor Gallius Rax, a high ranking Admiral who'd been absent from the meeting Harry and Mara had stumbled into.
The Alliance of Free Planets, as the Rebels were called these day in the meanwhile was crippling huge numbers of ships simply by targeting supply depots, refining facilities and other 'soft' logistical targets. Entire stations were filled to capacity with Star Destroyers drawing power from docking facilities, unable to leave because their fuel reserves were dangerously low.
The Empire was deserting entire planets, sometimes with the Imperial Garrisons left there. Large swaths of the Outer rim territories were unpatrolled, and already piracy was running rampant in many systems.
But back to Dathomir. The only thing they could tell him was that as of last week it was officially part of the newly minted Warlord Zsinj's territory. The man had been an Admiral until the Empire's fracture and commanded one of the remaining Super Star Destroyer of all things. Though technically still loyal to the Empire, he too was moving to absorb assets and territories from the lesser Moffs around his sphere of influence. Essentially decapitating the Empire had opened up all sorts of opportunities for him.
In fact the Alliance considered him to be single most important player still in play despite the earlier mention of Rax. So to summarize they were planning on going to the one place that they really ought to stay away from.
Then there was the conversations he'd had with both Leia and Han. Both of them approached him separately in the days after Tano suggested Dathomir, and asked him to take Luke there. Of course Potter was planning on doing that anyway. He thought it was implied actually. Did they really think he'd just leave Luke hanging when it was partially because of him that he was in this state in the first place?
Their problem was that both Leia and Han were busier than ever with their new roles as Diplomats of the Alliance. Fortunately after Operation Cinder Leia hadn't taken on any more combat missions, but now her deep commitment to making the Intern Government work meant she was going on a series of diplomatic visits to Alliance Friendly Capital Worlds. After that she was rumored to be heading to Chandrila for preliminary talks aimed at forming the New Republic senate there.
Solo fared no better, though unlike Leia he and Chewie found themselves in the thick of it almost constantly. Much like Harry he managed to distance himself thanks to the Falcon being his own ship. In fact they were using the old Correlian Freighter as a diplomatic vessel of all things.
The Galaxy was going crazy if an old, beaten up clunker like that could be considered for such a role.
But Harry's biggest problem was as always newly renamed Alliance of Independent Planet's esteemed leader, or soon to be Chancellor if those talks panned out.
Mothma was HOUNDING Potter to help out, debriefing him on a half dozen time sensitive missions a day and pressing hard for him to get in the fight.
He'd argued that a fully trained and mission ready Jedi could help reduce the pile on her desk substantially if only she'd just let him take Luke for treatment. Her counteroffer was to dispatch a diplomatic envoy to engage in talks with the Witches (now that term was starting to annoy him)
Finally he just outright stated that he was going, but that he'd write. Walking out of her official work area (she now had a secretary) he next approached the Togrutan Jedi in her temporary quarters.
"Harry Potter, if I recall correctly" she greeted from the doorway. "What can I do for you?"
"Miss Tano. I will be departing for Dathomir shortly. Would you like to accompany myself and my student there?"
Her answer was quick and to the point. "I owe Anakin Skywalker a great debt. Helping his son would be both an honor and a pleasure." She said. Harry nodded.
"Good. Meet me aboard the Iron Justice at oh nine hundred hours. We'll get underway as soon as you're aboard."
It was time to collect their brainwashed Jedi and set out.
The Iron Justice, while well-armed and armored was still only one vessel jumping into what used to be an Imperial controlled system. Maybe there wouldn't be anyone there at all. But the possibility of an intact blockade was also a possibility. The late Emperor had deemed it prudent to isolate the inhabitants of Dathomir many years ago, according to Mara. They'd soon find out why.
Harry had learnt from his past mistakes. The deflector shields were charged and weapons hot when the small corvette appeared over the Garden World.
"Sir, detecting two Imperial Star Destroyer Class ships in orbit around the Planets second moon." The main screen magnified, showing the two vessels hovering over a rust colored sphere.
"Their systems shouldn't have picked us up thanks to the charm but they can still visually identify us." Harry stated, leaning onto the back of the helmsman's chair. "Lieutenant, take us to the far side of the planet and out of sight."
Ten minutes later the Wizard and two Force Sensitives were on the Lambda Class Shuttle and heading planet side. The Corvette had performed a quick and dirty surface scan, identifying a smattering of settlements all within a confined area along the edge of one of the three main continents. It was a zone of uplands and river plains bordered on one side by a large sea and on the other by vast expanses of desert.
Not knowing if the locals were hostile Harry asked Mara to put the ship down on a river bisecting a dense wood. She touched down on a small sand bar and Harry spent the next ten minutes warding the living daylights out of the patch of sand and gravel.
"What is he doing?" Ahsoka asked, not aware of his powers. "Why is he waving that stick?" Mara, despite working with Harry and indirectly for the Rebels wasn't really on the best terms with the older Woman, especially considering she'd been on the Empire's most wanted list for as long as Mara could remember. That coupled with the fact that the Redhead was trying to understand just what exactly he was doing made her snap at the Togrutan.
"Look Jedi, I'm not a tour guide. Just ask him yourself." With that she walked the perimeter of their LZ, making sure no one snuck up on her oblivious master.
Tano, fully aware of who Mara Jade was didn't bait her any further. Instead she fell into a light meditative trance and observed the young man through the force. But even then she wasn't sure what the purpose of the chanting and waving was.
"Captain Potter." She addressed him when he approached. "Hmm?" the Wizard was tucking the Holly wand back in its holster. A pair of blue eyes were tracking the object as he stashed it. "May I ask what you were doing?"
"Ahh, right. You weren't briefed on my abilities I take it." Rubbing his chin he thought of the most entertaining way of explaining what he was. Reason though won out just this once, and he settled for a run of the mill explanation. "I used an energy different from the force to secure the ship from potential threats."
She skeptically glanced past him and at the Shuttle. "Nothing looks different."
Figuring she needed to demonstration he pulled the wand and made a quick modification to the temporary wards.
"All right, go on. Try approaching it."
Confused Tano stepped forward, and continued until a sudden and inexplicable unease gripped her. It quickly blossomed to outright fear, and her chest was heaving the closer she got to the craft. Her instincts were screaming at her to flee, but there was nothing in the force that led her to believe she was in danger.
Harry walked up beside her, hands folded behind his back.
"That's the terror ward you just triggered. It's mainly for wild animals, and generally placed a lot further out from the perimeter. I made a quick modification that includes Jedi such as yourself."
With another wave the unpleasant feeling vanished.
"You didn't use the force." She stated matter-of-factly.
"No, but I'll tell you what it's called later." He reassured, promising a full explanation. "Right now we should get going."
They linked up with Mara, who'd taken to the trees to get a better vantage point and together progressed down the river. Their destination was a sizable settlement along its shores some distance from their landing site.
This forest was nothing like the one on Endor. The trees, while still mature were maybe a quarter of the size of those behemoths. Most looked to be a type of fir, with rough bark and needle like leaves.
Of course traveling with two force users Harry quickly started falling behind. He was physically fit for a human, but those two were something else entirely.
"Honestly Potter." Mara chided after twenty minutes of sprinting. "I knew you were slow but this is pathetic."
The Wizard was panting hard, and had more than a bit of debris in his hair and clothing. By comparison the girls hadn't even broken a sweat and their outfits looked pristine.
"I swear Mara. Haa,haa. Another word out of you and I'll nail you with another slug spitter. Comprende?"
She paled momentarily before recovering.
The Tortugan was impressed at the effect. It was hard to cow a dark side force user with threats, though whatever a 'slug' was, it certainly didn't sound pleasant.
Half a kilometer away a pair of warriors observed the trio intently. The females were clearly Witches. The way they moved and used their connection to the force made it obvious, finding the easiest routes and making little to no noise. The male was another story, and the reason why they'd been located. He was loud, snapped twigs, and they could hear his labored breathing from here.
Not a very good specimen, they concluded. They were of the Misty Falls tribe, and right now deep within a rival clan's territory. The loud one and his owners looked to be heading towards Frenzied River Tribe. They were confident they could take him, but neither wished to claim a male so inadequate. None the less they observed. Perhaps they would make a suitable distraction to execute a surprise raid later on.
Mara Jade wondered how her pathetic master had ever managed to best her in combat. She was tempted to suggest he use that flying contraption they rode back on Coruscant. Even the Jedi was beginning to tire of the snail's pace they were traveling at. She hid it well but Mara could see it clearly.
"Captain, if you wish we can rest for a moment." Tano suggested.
The wizard looked flushed but shook his head. "How much ground have we covered?"
A quick glance at the GPS unit showed they'd traversed a little over seven kilometers, with another twenty-three to go.
"Bloody hell, that's all? All right, plan B." he huffed. The broom would have worked too but this was a good excuse to stretch his seldom used and much loathed animagus form. It had been decades since he'd transformed last.
The change began, and much to both his companions and their hidden stalkers surprise the male human morphed into a strange long legged avian creature.
Without giving them time to gawk at his awful Ostrich form he took off, this time at a blisteringly quick speed.
If Ahsoka Tano had her doubts about the Captain's abilities they were now firmly put to rest. Although no longer youthful, she had seen many things in her years. A man turning into a bird was not one of them.
The force could not do this. It was a mystical and wondrous energy, capable of many things. But not this.
She'd only caught a glimpse of the creature, and now he…it was moving too quickly to properly observe. In fact she was hard pressed to keep up! A quick look to the side showed that Mara Jade was faring no better.
He didn't slow down until just before the fortified outer wall protecting the village. Morphing back he observed his winded student appear from the tree line.
"Really Jade, I though the former Hand of the Emperor would be able to keep up to a common Ostrich. I even had to dodge trees."
"Shut it Potter. Besides, why would you want to turn into such a stupid looking creature anyway?"
Harry shrugged, not offended at her comment. Heck, he agreed. Of all the things his form could have been it had to be a big, stupid bird that couldn't even fly.
"Whatever." He responded lamely, still in the bird mindset. And ostriches didn't have very big brains. A second later the Togrutan Jedi emerged, also breathing deeply. She looked at him but before any more questions could be asked, yet alone answered they were surrounded.
They were women. As in all of them. Looking around he counted over a dozen, all dressed in crimson and gold armor, reminding him a bit of the Gryffindor colors. They had ash colored skin, with darker pigmented faces. It looked like war paint. Most if not all had chestnut colored hair, long and often held together by metal ties.
Then there were the weapons. Old fashioned melee types. Spears, swords and bows. If they looked intimidating the trio didn't let it show. Not really surprising seeing as two carried light sabers and the third could invert the landscape in a one mile radius if he really wanted to.
One of the Warriors spoke an odd language, and after Tano shook her head switched to broken Basic, heavily accented and quite difficult to make out. In fact she spoke similarly to what Harry had sounded like for the first three months.
"Who are you? Why you here?"
Mara and Harry kept quiet, letting the Jedi do the talking. After all they had been the go to diplomats up until twenty years ago.
"Greetings. My name is Ahsoka Tano. We have come here to seek your aid."
The Woman looked her over, then glanced at the other two. Removing something from a small pouch attached to a belt she wore the woman tossed it in front of Harry and Jade, though more the former.
"You. Male. Put on before go into Village."
Harry was dumbstruck. Glancing down it looked to be a piece of leather. Too wide to be a proper belt though.
"Err, put it on where exactly?" he asked, hoping for clarification. She huffed and slapped her upper arm, then turned and whistled up towards someone past the wall.
With a creak a portion of the wall swung up, just big enough to admit a person. Potter picked up the strap and gave it a test sniff, then held it away from himself.
He cast a pair of wandless cleaning charms on it, not wanting to give away that he still held a weapon.
The strap was secured above his Auror coat, and quite honestly it looked silly. One of the locals pushed him roughly in the back as he made to enter though the wall.
"Oi, watch it lass!" he protested, realizing it was the same one that had ordered him to wear the smelly strap. Apparently that was the wrong thing to do. The woman who'd shoved him had no quarrels attempting to manhandle him for talking back.
Harry of course didn't know the local customs and promptly disarmed her, painfully twisting her arm behind her back and pressing her against the log wall.
It took only a second before a blade was resting against his throat, and by the time he'd turned his head to see which of them was holding it Mara and Ahsoka had lit their sabers and assumed defensive postures.
Harry pulled a holdout blaster and loosely pointed it at the girl threatening him.
"Looks like a good old fashioned Mexican standoff." He pushed the pinned warriors arm up a bit further, causing her to grunt in discomfort.
"Release her!" the others demanded, weapons pointed at them. Potter thought about fighting, but that would defeat the purpose of coming here. Sure, there may be other tribes but they very well could be just as hostile, if not more so.
"Do that again and I'll dislocate your shoulder, wench." He softly growled into the woman's ear before letting her go.
She spun around, fully intending to get even. Harry simply waved his hand and blasted her twenty feet down the dirt road with a weak banisher. The others didn't like that, shouting at him in their native tongue.
"Potter, knock it off. Quit antagonizing them!" Mara scolded him.
"Hey, you're not the one getting abused for no apparent reason." He snapped back. She gave him that look he was all too familiar with, even though they'd only been working together for two weeks. With a sigh he held up his hands in the universal gesture of surrender.
The Woman he'd punted across the road came back, and unsheathed her knife, ready to filet him, but a harsh command stopped her a second before Harry would have.
The scene had drawn a small crowd, including a wrinkled old crone. The Guards Captain shot him a venomous glare, one he returned with equal intensity before leading them towards the center of the settlement. Oddly enough Mara and Ahsoka had been allowed to keep their weapons, while he'd been relieved of the blaster.
Like it mattered.
The streets were nothing more than compact dirt and the huts, while showing some craftsmanship were primitive to put it bluntly.
Even more concerning was many of the villagers state of dress. The males especially were all sparsely clothed, often wearing nothing more than rags. And the way they looked, meek and subservient told Harry a few things that didn't sit to well with him.
"What kind of messed up place is this?" he muttered to no one in particular. About the only thing all of them had in common was the very patch Harry now wore on his arm.
The urge to level this place was growing for a number of reasons. One, he disliked slavers. Two, if they thought he'd just turn the other cheek they were sorely mistaken.
The group was ushered into a much larger hut, with proper timber frame supports and stone walls. It looked to be river rock chiseled into rough rectangular blocks, as a few smooth corners could still be made out even from afar.
The old crone sat down next to several even older looking friends of hers (he guessed they were women but it was hard to tell)
"Welcome to Frenzied River. It has been some time since we've been visited by outsiders."
Unlike the Guards captain the elders grasp on Galactic Basic was much better.
Tano picked up where she'd left of outside the gate, introducing herself, Mara and Harry before humbly thanking them for their hospitality. Potter didn't think it should be called that, but whatever.
They quickly outlined why they came, but were interrupted to perform a ceremony common before negotiations with the other tribes started.
Much to his surprise Harry was escorted out and told he could move about the village but not to pick fights. He was assigned an escort, one of the younger, quieter females.
Quickly firing off a listening charm he soon found himself outside, mingling with the strange people of Dathomir. He mulled about the bustling community, listening as Ahsoka outlined their problem and began negotiations with the Tribe elders for assistance.
Outside the gate a good twenty Warrior Women were crouched around a sandbank. Nightfall would be upon them soon and with it their chance to gain some new breeding material and slaves. There was talk of a strangely dressed male that had entered the Village with two warriors.
The male could do magic, turning himself into a birdlike creature. If it had only been one scout the raid leader would have dismissed the tale as farfetched, but a total of three different groups had tracked this party independently and all witnessed the same thing.
Orders were relayed to capture this male if the opportunity presented itself. By the shore a detailed outline of the village was drawn into the sand. They would strike at dusk, when the shadows were at their most powerful.
Harry grew bored after a while. Yes, there had been a great many interesting things to observe, including the Rancor pits and market place. By the way whatever they were feeding those things had made them massive, easily twice as tall as the one he'd seen in Jabba's Palace.
Fortunately no one had really harassed him, though a few of the women looked pretty mean spirited. His guide had a few words with the more aggressive ones and they'd backed off. Personally Harry wished she hadn't. It looked like they could use a solid arsekicking and he was in the mood to dispense them.
The sun was by then had long passed under the horizon and the first torches were being lit in the center of the wider streets. The negotiations weren't going well. It had taken Ahsoka a full half hour to get them to confirm that they had the ability to potentially help Luke. Luke, who'd been dosed with Drought of Living Death and stashed in one of Harry's trucks in his bag.
Now it was time to talk remuneration. Unfortunately for them their tribal lifestyle made them uncaring of Credits, Gold or even technology.
Right now she was attempting to find out what it is they wanted. Mara as far as he knew hadn't said a word up to that point. She was probably just as bored as he was. Stifling a yawn he made his way around the corner, thinking perhaps he'd be able to find a food stand nearby. The cooking fires in the huts were making his mouth water.
What he saw though made his eyebrows quirk up.
While it was obvious the females were the ones with political and social power not all of them were warriors. As such there were bound to be areas in this quaint little development where not a single armed individual could be found. Having seen enough of these girls in full battle dress he could instantly tell that the trio of Woman approaching were not part of the same outfit.
His guide hollered something he didn't understand before charging ahead, even though the odds weren't really in her favor. Harry liked her attitude though, and figured he may as well earn some brownie points and help out.
Wand in hand the first of the three fell to an expertly aimed stunner. The looks of surprise were evident on both sides. Unfortunately for Harry he'd become complacent, not really seeing people with blades and bows as real threats.
That superior attitude made him careless, and despite having fought two Sith lords and an arseload of Stormtroopers in the last two months he made the mistake of not checking his six.
"The hell?" he plucked a reddish dart from the back of his gluteus maximus after feeling the pinch and examined it. "Oh you've got to be kid-" halfway through last word he keeled over, followed shortly by his escort, who'd been fending off the two remaining Raiders.
Harry woke up with a splitting headache. In the distance he heard a faint static noise, like water falling. The softness on his back made it all but certain that he was in some sort of bed, or sleeping area.
Looking around properly for the first time it seemed someone had managed to strip him of his belongings, which was bad for a few reasons. One, all of his stuff was in there, and two, Luke was in there.
At least they hadn't been able to pry the gauntlet off him.
Pulling the elder wand he transfigured the 'new' clothes (if one could call them that) into something more familiar, though there wasn't enough base material to pull off his usual outfit. A simple shirt and pants would have to do, he supposed.
From behind he heard a gasp. Turning Harry got a good look at whomever had made the noise. It was a girl, clearly Dathomirian, but not quite like the ones he'd met before. The style of clothing was different, and the tattoos distinct enough for even him to notice. She had a knife in her hand. Harry turned it into a Tulip, and she shrieked before bolting from the room.
With a sigh he gave the place a quick once over. His stuff was nowhere to be seen.
Outside it was day once more, though that noise that reminded him of a waterfall was indeed a giant waterfall. In fact he knew it, not directly but from the holo map the Justice had made shortly before they started this whole mess.
So they'd nabbed him from further downstream and hauled him up to the next village. Well, this wasn't so bad. All he had to do was find his stuff and apparate back downstream. Heck, he could do so now but without Luke it didn't really make sense.
This village was built onto the hillside, with narrow unguarded (no railings) goat trails leading from the carved out living accommodations like the one behind him to various parts of the settlement. His host had taken off, but she was bound to return, and probably not alone. Figuring his stuff was probably in the main assembly area he set out to find it, a definite spring in his step.
Harry didn't make it too far before a pair of sentries happened upon him. The transfigured jeans and white T-shirt were not the best idea for blending in and they quickly stopped him. Figuring they'd most likely take him somewhere he gestured to his ears and shrugged his shoulders.
Down and down they went, until at the foot of the cliff he was reunited with the girl from earlier. She pointed at him and shouted something to the others. Spears were pointed and commands shouted. Harry grinned, figuring this was the end of the line. Oh well, the Main hut was just up ahead anyway.
Jabbing his wand down into the earth a large ripple spread out, bucking up the Witches and few slaves in the immediate area. Stunners were dispensed judiciously and liberally afterwards. Twice he had to use a shield, as a few of these girls were able to use the force in unexpected ways, namely shimmering blue energy attacks that looked an awful lot like an Experiamus.
He didn't want to find out what would happen to him if one were to connect. They had good reflexes though, and despite his superb aim over half his shots failed to connect. Switching over to transfiguration, he morphed a nearby stick and rope fence around a vegetable garden into a heavy rope net, which swept across the decently sized intersection. The move bagged him five of the slippery combatants, and while he was deflecting arrows from the two who'd repositioned onto the roof he stunned the ones under the net before they were able to free themselves.
Another arrow absently bounced off his shield while he surveyed who was left. The girl who'd ratted him out charged with a battle cry. He disarmed her, sending the spear flying and her to the ground. He summoned the bows from the two nuisances up above and snapped them.
Time go get his stuff.
Entering the structure he found a great many articles and a couple of men picking through them. A pair of stunners put an end to that. Casting a quick perimeter detection ward on the entrance to let him know if company was imminent he approached the lowered sitting area, a fire crackling merrily within.
Great, more wrinkled old Witches.
"Any of you speak basic?" he asked bluntly.
"Indeed. You should not be here male." One of them answered. Harry snorted. "You're damn right I shouldn't. Not to worry though. Just here to retrieve my stuff and then I'll be on my way."
He began to pick through the loot, quickly locating his coat and boots.
"You're property of the Misty Falls Tribe now." Another stated, as if it was the most obvious thing.
Harry paused but didn't turn. "No one owns me. And I'm not about to let the likes of you tell me otherwise."
Ah, there it was. Quickly checking that the anti-theft charms had held up Potter slung the bag over his shoulder. The old hags didn't move, but he made sure to keep an eye out for them. Often it was the elderly that packed the biggest wallop. Heck, look at Dumbledore and Riddle. They were both seniors by the time they fought in the Ministry.
"The only way to gain your freedom is to save the life of a Daromirian Witch."
Crouching to lace the boots he shook his head. "You don't get it. I'm walking out of here whether you say it's legal or not. Why? Because you can't stop me."
He felt the detection ward trigger and pointed his wand at a nearby table, transfiguring it into a large striped Tiger. The animal, under the Wizards mental influence, placed itself between its creator and the entryway before roaring viciously, effectively stopping the warriors in their tracks.
"You wield powers we have never seen before." One stated, though all watched the magnificent creature pace and growl ahead, keeping the reinforcements at bay.
"Tell us, are you from the Night Sister's clan?"
"I'm not from this planet." Was the reply, though he was curious about these night sisters. His tiger was doing an admirable job of holding back the half dozen or so warriors so he turned to face them fully.
"I'm just here to help an ill friend." With his worldly possessions re-acquired the wizard concentrated on the other village, ready to apparate away.
"Wait. You sought out Frenzied River Tribe to treat your friend. Have they agreed?"
Potter paused. "I don't know. You grabbed me before negotiations concluded."
"We will help your friend if we can. But you-" she pointed a gnarly tanned finger at him "-will stay here and swear loyalty to Misty falls."
He frowned, then disappeared with a crack.
Re-emerging in Frenzied River's (as he now knew the village was called) main hall he found exactly whom he needed to see.
"Mara! Ahsoka! How go the negotiations?"
"Male. How dare you trespass here!" The same woman who'd shoved him yesterday shouted. Harry, who'd vented some of his frustration with the other tribe decided to turn her into a regular burnt clay brick, which thudded to the ground.
A dozen sets of wide eyes looked at him, then the Brick.
"Ah, they haven't agreed to anything yet." Tano supplied, stunned that he'd just turned a living being into something else entirely. Potter meanwhile had trained his wand towards the other guard, who was trying to remain composed after watching her counter get turned into a red rectangular stone.
"What do they want then?" he couldn't believe it had taken half a day when a simple no would have sufficed. Harry was beginning to regret not taking Mothma up on the envoy offer. God he hated politics.
"As far as we can tell nothing. We've been going over what we can offer before you returned. Where were you by the way? They've been pretty tight lipped when we asked."
"Yeah, not really surprising considering they let me get kidnapped from their own village." He snarled, giving the old women the stink eye. "I only just managed to get organized and apparate back here."
"Kidnapped?" Jade repeated, scarcely believing what she was hearing. He was easily the most powerful individual on the planet. How exactly did they manage to accomplish that?
"Lucky tranquilizer shot from behind." He explained, practically reading her mind. "Woke up half an hour ago by the big waterfall sixty clicks upstream."
"So now what?" the former Hand asked, saying out loud what Harry was thinking. That was a good question. One tribe wouldn't help them, and the other wanted to keep him for reasons he hadn't wanted to think about.
"Is there anything you would consider of equal value for helping my friend?" He asked, addressing the elders directly and screw the rules. "The Sith have brainwashed him."
"We will not." Well there you go. "Thank you for your hospitality, and good riddance to you all." He undid the transfiguration on the brick, grabbed the two girls by each arm and apparated away.
Moving back and forth between similar but unfamiliar buildings was beginning to confuse him, though nothing like what the two force wielders were currently experiencing. Their sudden arrival also caused a bit of panic amongst the people he'd left the Tiger with.
Both Jade and Tano were on their knees looking violently ill, though Harry had their momentary defenselessness more than covered by tossing the closest two attackers at the rafters and holding them there with a sticking charm.
The elders barked at their guard to stand down, and he didn't hold the knee jerk reaction against them.
"You've returned." The same one who made the initial offer stated. "You will stay with Misty Falls?"
His eyes locked with Mara's who was looking at him with an expression of; 'what the hell is she talking about?'
Potter shook his head. "I can't."
"Unfortunate. For your friend that is." Why that manipulative little…
"What of the Imperials?" Mara asked, not fully understanding but trying anyway. "The white Warriors. Do you wish to see them gone?"
Harry turned. "Merlin woman, what am I to you, a one man mercenary group?"
She smirked at the comment but waited for the elders answer. Ahsoka stayed quiet. Things were moving too quickly for her to follow. This Captain Potter was a supremely powerful individual, she was coming to realize. And while she'd considered the former dark force practitioner as somewhat level headed, offering to take on the might of the Admiral Zsinj with nothing but an understaffed Corvette was something that reminded her greatly of how Sky Guy used to do things.
"You can vanquish the Star Travelers and their mighty chariots?" she asked cautiously. Her clan was small and well hidden, so they hadn't directly encountered the foreign devils, as the other clans called them. Seeing a one point six kilometer flying metal wedge hovering around in the air got people's attention in a not so good way.
The redhead looked at Potter with a raised eyebrow. He sighed.
"I suppose we can kick them off planet. They don't have a large presence here, meaning they must not really care for it. We could make it so it's not worth Zsinj's trouble. Of course he may just glass the surface with Turbo Laser fire if we do that."
"I doubt he'd go to that extreme." Mara chipped in. "Garden world like this are rare. Many including myself lamented the loss of Alderaan when the Empire chose to destroy it."
"The moon." Tano suggested, halting the brainstorming session between the two magicals. "The star destroyers are guarding the moon. There's only a token presence on the planet itself, but the moon is where the real prize lies. If we find out what it is and perhaps destroy it they would have no reason to remain."
It was sound logic. The Togrutan directly addressed the old women around the fire.
"Honored Clan Elders. We propose ridding you of the White Armored Warriors and in return you help treat our friend."
They spoke rapidly, the entire conversation lasting about half a minute. It certainly was much more straight forward than with the other tribe.
"We have an agreement young one." The speaker finally said, though her gaze stayed with Harry.
"Why was that woman near the back staring at you?" his pupil asked on the way back to the shuttle. They'd insisted on traveling by foot, not ready to experience his teleportation a second time for the sake of gaining a few hours.
Harry tripped over his own feet at the question, while behind them Ahsoka smirked. "Uhh, not sure. She may have been one of the ones I stunned earlier."
That was the only verbal communication between the two for some time. He wondered why she'd asked him about… her. Merlin he didn't even know her name. What was he turning into? Before this morning he'd only ever been with his wives. Two partners in nigh two hundred years.
He pushed the thoughts away. They weren't mission critical and bound to distract him if he continued to dwell on them. Instead he started thinking of the best way to slip past those two Star Destroyers.
He would need to cast a myriad of spells on the outside of the hull to mask the thermal, electronic and radar readings. The hull would have to be painted a matte black and all running lights covered. But would it be enough?
Realizing the Wizard had his work cut out regardless he spoke up. "I'm going to meet you at the shuttle. There's a lot of work I need to get done if we want to use it to reach the moon."
"Good Idea." Mara said, the closest he'd ever get to a compliment from the woman. Tano wasn't sure what sort of modifications he had planned, but she to nodded in agreement.
By the time they arrived the Shuttle looked much more sinister. Harry added the usual runes to strengthen and lighten the hull while also keeping the paint job spotless. Actually paint wasn't the right word. He'd transfigured a thin surface layer of the durasteel to look as it did.
Having a craft like this for stealth missions had been on his to do list since he'd commandeered the Justice, but with Endor and now Luke the task had been put aside repeatedly.
The slack jawed Jedi looked around in confusion upon ascending the cargo ramp. "How-? It's bigger on the inside!" Ahsoka marveled. Mara looked at the tennis court sized cargo area and quickly located the door on the far side.
Finding Potter in the middle of casting a spell she stopped, but didn't talk just yet. Before her eyes what had previously been an equipment locker maybe a foot deep grew inward to make a room. Out of nowhere fixtures associated with a fresher popped into being.
Satisfied he tucked the wand away and glanced at his wrist watch. "You made good time." He noted.
She rolled her eyes upon seeing the antiquated time piece he favored. "Yes, we did. Now tell me, what made you think it was a good idea to place the entrance to the shuttle so far away from the cockpit?"
Behind her Ahsoka had finally joined them. Harry though didn't seem too concerned with the inconvenience she'd mentioned, beckoning them to follow with a finger.
The controls and seats were still the same, but a new door right behind the co-pilot was opened by the wizard.
"Have a look." He offered before excusing himself again. The two women peeked through the door and saw the cargo hold, as well as the ramp, which Harry was in the process of closing.
"Happy?" he asked, trying not to sound snippy.
She hurrumpfed and strapped into the pilots chair, booting up systems and running a few diagnostics to make sure he hadn't accidentally severed something important. Their Jedi friend joined her on the other side. Despite her best efforts she didn't actually mind the older Woman, her glaringly obvious light side affiliation aside.
The only annoying thing was the questions about Harry when he wasn't around, though after making it clear to ask him and not her she'd become much better.
Satisfied that everything was in order Mara moved the joysticks with practiced ease. Instead of the smooth takeoff everyone including her was expecting though the shuttle rocketed into the sky like a stabbed rat. In the back a series of crashes and English cursing could be heard.
"By the force Potter what did you do to this thing?" He stumbled though the hatch connecting to the cargo hold a few moments later holding his head. "It accelerates like a Tie Fighter!" she added, sounding a bit exited.
"That's a good thing right?" the Wizard muttered, healing the gash above his brow with a conjured compact and his wand.
Tano was looking a little less orange than usual beside her.
"If it handles like one then yes." His eyes widened at the insinuation. "Hold on, let me cast some sticking charms on the cargo crates and myself so you don't kill me!"
"You've got two minutes Magic Boy!" was the amused response.
"I need to find a way to boost the power to the inertial dampers", he muttered a little while later while holding an ice pack to his head. Mara meanwhile had sent a short encrypted data burst to the still hidden Justice informing them of their plan.
The shuttle approached the moon with the Dathomir's Star behind it. The placement of the Star Destroyers meant the small craft would pass them several tens of thousands of kilometers on their portside, with the visible surface area limited to the back of the craft. Like a new moon the shuttle would be next to undetectable to the naked eye. It was the next best thing to actual cloaking tech.
Picking a trough like depression in the foothills around the area of interest Mara set the shuttle down. The larger rocks meant that next to no dust was kicked up, and unless someone came within three kilometers the ship should remain unspotted.
Harry threw up the usual wards but also transfigured a bit of the terrain to further cover the ship. It was a thin, brittle shell that mimicked the terrain closely but wouldn't hold up to severe weather or more than a few individuals walking on it.
The surface was reddish brown, and looked a lot like the pictures from Mars those muggle 'Rovers' took back when Earth was beginning to explore their own solar system. Compared to Dathomir it also had nowhere near the same gravity, making walking around…interesting to say the least.
At least there was a breathable atmosphere, though it was a bit thin. Picking their way through the boulder strewn field they soon caught the first glimpse of the facility. It was a complex mass of reflective metal domes, pipes and rectangular buildings. Huge piles of stockpiled ore were being deposited on one side by shifting conveyors, and small specks could be observed moving about on a well-worn dirt road.
These must be ore transporters, droid controlled and more than a thousand tons when empty. Further off an unnatural feature revealed the open pit mine and a multi hundred meter tall machine with revolving teeth that chewed through more than twenty meters of material in one pass.
"Quite the setup." He observed, genuinely impressed. Though not familiar with every mining installation the Empire ran Mara did know this one must be one of their better yielding ones, able to provide enough raw materials to feed the durasteel mills on Kuat about twenty percent of their annual needs.
She initially hadn't made the connection because it was only revealed to be in the Quelli Sector to her, not Dathomir specifically. Of course now Zsinj would be sending the refined concentrate to his Gwory shipyards instead.
After explaining this to her new teacher he got a strange sort of look, usually when he was thinking of doing something completely over the top like stealing a super star destroyer.
"Potter, whatever you have planned, the answer is no."
He put the binoculars down. "But it's a good idea!" he protested. "Besides, we don't have explosives to destroy the place wholesale anyway."
"What exactly is your plan?" the Togrutan Jedi piped in.
"Well, I was thinking I could hide it using magic. A facility like this would be a great thing to hold on to in the future."
Both looked at him like he had grown a second head. "You want to hide it?" Mara repeated.
"Sure. I've got the ward stones. Let's mothball it. To Zsinj it would be the same as destroying it. No one but me and the secret keeper would ever be able to step foot inside again."
It was abilities like this why Mara Jade choose to stick around the eccentric young man. She had no doubt that he could rule the galaxy if he wished. And from the way he was collecting assets that may very well be his intention one day. She approved.
"All right, so how do we go about it then?"
The trio approached with the Persian Rug, and the initial part of the plan was quite simple. Rune stones were placed in a pentagon pattern around the perimeter of the complex. Harry decided not to include the nearby pit due to the sheer area the charm would need to cover.
Instead he'd perform a different Fidelius on the pit later, or more specifically the equipment within. Since it wouldn't operate for the foreseeable future it wasn't an issue. Or wouldn't be once they pulled the operator out of the remote controlled command module.
Once everything was set up Potter began the complicated task of weaving the magic into the rune stones to form the array. The larger the object the longer the process took, and this was by far the biggest thing he'd ever attempted to hide.
Near the end he sweating something fierce, and already cradled a Pepper up in his other hand. Mara wasn't even aware that she was somehow involved in his chanting until he let her name slip, and shortly thereafter something foreign settled deep within her.
It was impossible to describe, though she understood it clearly enough. It also went beyond her wildest expectations. Not only did the magic hide the base from view, it also purged the knowledge from every single sentient previously aware of it.
The proof was how Ahsoka Tano reacted immediately after finishing.
"Err, Captain Potter. Why are we here?" she'd asked. Harry produced a sheet of paper and told Mara to write in detail where the processing facility was located.
Tano accepted the paper after she finished and gasped after reading it.
"By the force, I didn't even remember your plan to hide it. This is incredibly powerful sorcery!"
Mara agreed. And she desperately wanted to learn to do the same.
"Mara," Harry got her attention. "I'm sure you've grasped the gist of this particular piece of magic. Only you can tell others the location as its secret keeper."
Draining the Pepper up he sighed. "All right, now let's clear out the facility. The people there have no idea where they are or what they used to do there. Better collect them before they break something."
The task took longer than expected. First was the control room. Despite widespread automation it took some very skilled individuals to run this sort of operation.
The production manager happily divulged everything they wished to know under Harry's unforgivable. They learnt that the ore laden material was screened, crushed and chemically treated to extract the minerals, which would then be shipped via freighter for further processing.
While this was all well and good it meant that he couldn't just hire anyone to run this place should he decide to open it back up at a later date. So instead of just stunning everyone he came up with an alternate plan.
He let everyone back in on the secret.
"May I have your attention!" his amplified voice echoed though the assembled staff, all of whom were very confused. There had been a service announcement asking everyone to assemble in the one of the ore hauler maintenance bays. It was one of the most visible buildings and therefore the easiest to find.
Even so it still took nigh an hour to round everyone up. Potter was standing on a shipping crate with Mara and Ahsoka, who both had no idea what was going on anymore.
"My name is Harry Potter, and I have just taken over this facility." There was a lot of chatter that followed, and he allowed it for about fifteen seconds before continuing.
"I'm sure you're all aware of the sad state the Empire finds itself in, but in case you don't let me recap. The Emperor is dead. His right hand man is dead. The rebels are forming a new Government called the New Republic, and this facility was, up until an hour ago under the control of Admiral Zsinj."
He paced back and forth on the container.
"I know, this is a lot to take in, but I've gathered you all to propose a business partnership, one that would prove very beneficial for you and your families. In short I want you to continue doing the fine work of extracting raw material from this place. In return I am willing to triple your wages and bring your families here from wherever they hail."
The murmuring grew into animated conversations. The first questions were being raised, and one or two voiced loud enough for him to respond to.
"You ask how I captured this facility?" he knew they needed to be reined in with fear then, so he activated a complex illusion that was prepared in advance. Dozens if not hundreds of Avatars of himself popped up on the catwalks, cranes, and the spaces around the two hundred strong group of workers, and when he spoke so did they.
"THE SHORT ANSWER IS MAGIC." They boomed as one. That certainly did the trick.
"What I offer is generous compensation and security from the turmoil that will befall the galaxy in the coming years. Your loved ones will be safe in this system under my sphere of influence. Should you choose to decline no harm will come to you. I will simply remove the knowledge of this place from your minds and you can be on your merry way."
He saw the fear on their faces, wondering if his offer was genuine, and what the repercussions were if it weren't true. There had been rumors that the Empire had fractured from a few of the freighter pilots, but the remoteness of the facility meant nothing was confirmed.
"Your work stations are secure, and for the next twenty-four hours you will be confined to living quarters. Select representatives and have them approach either myself or one of these two lovely ladies here," he gestured to the two force users, who'd remained stoic throughout his speech. "We will provide them with access to the holo net so that they can verify our claims independently."
"Thank you for your time."
"Captain Harry, this was not part of the plan!" the Togrutan exclaimed after the last individual had stepped through the automatic door. Fortunately there hadn't been any funny business attempted from the repair bay to the living areas.
He sighed, rubbing his eyes with thumb and index finger. "I realize that, but I saw an opportunity for everyone involved. Besides, if this goes well then we'll be supplying the Alliance with some much needed resources." Harry didn't mention that eventually it could fuel his own ship building facilities, perhaps even centered on Dathomir. It was a beautiful planet, except perhaps the Rancors. Those would have to go eventually.
But he was getting way ahead of himself. All he'd done was hide a mining facility on a moon and offer independence to a hand full of former imperial conscripts. There had been a small Imperial intelligence bureau office here, staffed by a half dozen officers to ensure no rebellious activities were going on.
Rebellious activities like trying to sway all the workers to defect.
They of course hadn't attended. In fact they had a date with the Iron Justice's brig in a few hours. Just as soon as they finished up here and got Luke down to the Witches Village.
Ahsoka wanted to pull out her montrals. This mission had gone from reclaiming Luke, Anakin Skywalker's son, from the dark side to recruiting a bunch of miners to a cause she honestly didn't think Harry believed in. And then there was the way he'd hidden the facility itself.
His powers were frightening. She was sure if the old Jedi council were still around they'd have tried to lock him up. Of course with his teleporting that wouldn't have worked.
Not long after a rapping could be heard from the durasteel door. A group of four uniform clad humans were on the other side, three men and one woman.
Harry looked them over before wordlessly leading them to the intelligence offices, which were normally highly restricted. Tano closely monitored them as they accessed the net while Harry and Mara did some light training exercises. She'd requested he teach her runes and warding after the show earlier today, and to be honest he was too wiped to practice spell casting anyway.
When the quartet had seen enough one spoke up. "We believe you, and will let the others know. But we need assurances that Admiral Zsinj won't destroy the facility in retribution."
Potter spun in his chair, smirking. "Well that's easy. He doesn't know this place exists anymore."
They looked at him, confused. Harry explained his trick but called it a force technique because people believed it more readily than something simply called magic.
They also talked about how they were going to get the families of the men and women who would agree to stay back to Korotas, which was what this moon was called.
Though it had no garrison there were a hand full of shuttles and small freighters used to supply specialty parts for maintenance. Groups of individuals would man these and perform pickups in systems relatively close together.
Harry had neither the time nor the resources to pull off such a time consuming mission. It would have to be done by the workers themselves.
What he could do is set up additional living facilities and communal areas through the use of expansion charms. Who knew, maybe one day they could settle on Dathomir and simply commute up to the moon with shuttles.
As a final step he had everyone willing to agree sign a magically binding contract stating that it was in their best interest to ensure the success of this little experiment. The wording was actually a bit trickier than that but ensured no imperial sympathizers would sabotage the operation. The rare few that refused to work under him were obliviated and given one of the shuttles to leave with.
Potter watched as they took off, escaping the moons weak gravity with ease. He'd cast some temporary notice me nots on the hull but advised the pilot not to linger in the system for too long lest they be targeted by the Star Destroyers.
On the way back inside a familiar shape made him pause. "What is it?" the eager production supervisor asked.
"That orb there-" he pointed at a bulbous structure with barrel like protrusion sticking out from the end. "What is that?"
The supervisor followed his gaze. "Oh yes, that is the Planetary Ion Cannon. It only arrived here last month from Kuat."
Harry's face broke out in a massive grin. There was no need for it with the charm in place. But he knew of a ship that he might squeeze it into eventually.
Before they left Harry modified the single remaining heavy freighter, increasing its capacity fiftyfold so that he'd have time to find buyers for the minerals and find a seller to get more freighters. Payment up front in gold bullion was also provided for a years' worth of wages so these people could feed themselves and he didn't have to look after something as mundane as payroll. Eventually he'd have to appoint a governor who could handle running the facility.
Someone other than the guy currently in charge. That operations manager was a massive brownnoser.
With that out of the way Harry apparated back to their stealth shuttle and flew it to the refinery landing platform to pick up the girls.
Mara seemed to approve oh his handling of the situation, something that made him worry. As they got underway they were contacted by the Justice, who had relocated between Dathomir and the moon they were just departing. An unexpected development had occurred in the hours since hiding the mine.
Zsinj's Star Destroyers had left.
In a way it made sense though. No longer recalling why they'd been stationed there the two Captains must have simply returned to home port. Perhaps they'd contacted their superiors, who would also have wondered why they were out there.
The only question now was; did they take the ground garrison with them?
A quick flyby showed the grounds were intact. Feeling bold he set down on a landing pad within the compound. No one came to greet them.
"I can't believe that worked." Harry said, walking between the prefab durasteel buildings on the abandoned base a few minutes later. They'd packed up quickly, taking much of the equipment with them but also leaving behind some things of value, including the structures themselves.
"Well, let's get Luke to that village."
A/N: I'd consider this stage of the story to be Harry's…acquisition phase. The Tof-Nagai arc is about to begin, so the next few chapter will revolve around them. As always thanks for reading, and please check out my latest story called Crimson Hare.