A/N: I'd like to inform readers that chapters 1-9 of this work have been overhauled, resulting in a clearer deviation of the 5th movie. The alterations merge back into the storyline around chapter seven, with minor tweaks needed to maintain the continuity. As for this chapter, consider it an early easter gift.
All was quiet aboard the Justice this night, and if one strained their ears hard enough the faint hum of the reactor could be heard. The ship was nearly empty; the majority of the crew on shore leave save for a select unlucky few. Were it a normal night, their Captain would be leading the procession planetside.
But tonight? Tonight, was different. A distortion in the air moved silently through the dimly lit halls. It briefly paused near the bridge, where the graveyard shift could be heard grumbling about the unfairness of it all, despite their Captain's promise that they would be down there ten minutes after shift rotation.
Moving along, the mirage-like optical illusion passed the door leading to the captain's personal chambers, before finally coming to a stop in front of the XO's quarters. With a whispered mumble, the doors hissed open and then closed again just as quickly.
Reasonably confident that he was alone, Harry dropped the disillusionment charm, marveling at how tidy Tonha's quarters were compared to his own. Well, at least it made his task easier.
Creeping around the decently sized room, he quickly located his target. With a loud 'pop', the cork separated from the mouth of the bottle that held the super star destroyer Ravager. Satisfied, he cast a shrinking charm on himself, disappearing from view. Harry took his time mounting the broom, craning his neck, and just taking in the sheer novelty of the situation.
No bigger than a housefly at this point, he rose up, ascending to the top of the shelf and landing on the inside rim of the bottle. The ship at that point was quite large compared to him, but not quite enough to walk around on. He estimated he was at least a dozen decks or so in height in comparison, if not more.
Warily, he cast another shrinking charm on himself. Casting repeated shrinking charms on oneself was ill-advised. And he'd seen that muggle movie about some kids. This was bound to go about as successfully, he reckoned. The inch-diameter glass opening became the size of the London Eye from his point of view. At this size, a common ant would be as big as a city bus. With that in mind, he zipped away, and towards the nearest airlock.
He didn't fancy fighting off some ambitious dust mite looking for a quick meal.
Once aboard, Harry tweaked his proportions slightly, having gone a bit too far and only coming up as high as the door controls. That done, he pulled up the ship's schematics on a nearby terminal and set off, a rough idea of where to go in his head. Pulling his canvas bag off his shoulder, he summoned a shrunken cargo crate. This lot was going to the Bridge, but he unshrunk the crate in the nearby hangar bay, figuring the extra space would make the process easier.
The matchbox-sized container grew to the size of an old Terran shipping container. With a holo pad in hand, the thing hissed open, and racks extended, holding the first blue striped droids, their elongated heads popping up from their beige-coloured torsos. They unfolded by the dozens, already pre-programmed to seek out their duty stations.
He repeated the process with five more crates, and then made his way to the primary hangar bays to repeat the process a few hundred times more.
Six mind-numbing hours later, Potter couldn't stifle another yawn as he walked down one of the hull adjacent service corridors. Thick transparasteel windows let in beams of faint purplish light that bathed his XO's quarters from the planet below. Inside the ship was little to no light. The Ravager had been mothballed before it had been shrunk down, and a single reactor was providing the minuscule amount of power to keep the emergency lights on.
He'd been at it for hours, and while it had been fun at first, right now, all he wanted to do was call it a night.
The sudden increase in luminescence pulled him from his zombie-like state. Harry observed as Tonha entered the room, and from the sounds of it, he wasn't alone.
"Tonha, you dirty dog!" he grinned, eager to find out what kind of bird the usually serious man had pulled for the evening.
'Ah, a Pantoran girl' Harry noted, observing the blue-skinned woman take off her light coat. Very nice.
His perverted grin quickly morphed into a grimace.
"Oh. Oh my. Merlin, that's not pretty at all. Sweet Maeve, Tohna! Your arse is hairier than a Wookie's!" Harry slapped his hands over his eyes, but it was too little, too late.
"Ahhh, my eyes. My eyes!" he yelled as the image seared itself into his brain.
Quickly fleeing down a nearby hallway that led deeper into the ship, the Wizard debated the merits of a scalding hot shower and self obliviation.
Harry woke up when a light jostle shook the bed he'd found late last night. Confused as to why the Ravager would even be moving, he stumbled out of bed and shuffled towards the window. What he saw, or in this case didn't see, beyond the glass confused him. It was dark, and he wasn't talking about how Tonha had mercifully turned off the lights kind of dark. The ship was being moved.
Not sure how to proceed he freshened up, taking care to hold onto something at all times while his abductee moved to and fro. The movement was mostly dulled by some charms he'd cast to keep the insides of the ship from turning into a right mess, but sudden changes in direction still had the ability to knock him off balance.
Finding his way to the bridge he ordered the BX series droid in charge for a status update. What it relayed made him groan in annoyance.
"Sir, the pantoran female unexpectedly collected this vessel as well as numerous other items while the human male was unconscious. Total elapsed time since the incident; three hours and twenty minutes."
Brilliant, he'd been inadvertently kidnapped by his XO's one-night stand-turned thief. How did he keep ending up in these situations?
The random bumps and jostles continued for another half hour before things quieted down again, though there was still no light. Harry figured he may as well continue with the droid crew placement and did just that for another standard day. When the shroud (as he'd begun to call it) still hadn't lifted, he started the process of magically modifying the ship. It would need a full set of magical rune stones, but for now, the single large sink he'd brought with him could trickle charge from the dueling pit he'd set up and was now using to blast conjured targets.
The quarters he'd crashed in turned out to be Admiral Sloane's, he realized in amusement upon recognizing a single photo of the then young woman, seemingly fresh out of the academy.
He was also pleasantly surprised to find that she had some, shall we say, non-regulation undergarments. Turns out he needn't have bothered transfiguring any for that photoshoot after stealing the ship.
Finally, finally, another 'tremor' signaled that his unexpected ordeal was about to come to an end. Or so he hoped.
Finding himself on the bridge once again, his eyes gazed upon an impressive-looking throne room made of highly polished stone. From the bobbing, he deduced that someone was carrying him. Well, time to find out who he'd been gifted to.
"My lady, the item, as requested." The Pantoran thief/hooker kneeled, presenting the bottle.
"You've done well, my loyal servant." A very familiar but muffled voice stated from beyond the magically reinforced glass. "You are dismissed."
Even though the translucent material he could hear her every word.
"Oh, bloody hell," the wizard muttered, catching the attention of the nearest BX droid and Black Ball. He was forced to hold onto one of the consoles as she took ownership of the bottle, before lifting it up to inspect it more closely.
Harry glared at his former pupil but quickly composed himself. Getting his bearings, he looked around, then apparated to the hull section above the bridge. Just as her big, green eye drew close he cast a magnification spell on the inside of the glass. The spell took a few seconds to race out and connect with the glass, due to the vast distance at this scale.
The redhead shrieked in surprise, and nearly dropped the bottle. No, she must be imagining things. Yes, it must be the workload getting to her. Peering at it again, her face drained of color.
"Marrraaaaaa!" he hollered through the use of a Sonorous, wand held to the side of his neck. It sounded odd, muffled by the bottle.
"What did I tell you about crossing meee!"
"Oh shit." The redhead muttered, realizing the well and truly screwed the pooch this time.
Harry apparated back inside, grabbed his droid, and ordered the BX's on standby. He then blind apparated twenty meters away, which in reality was much further due to his size. The self-cast shrinking charm really messed with his visualization of the three D's of apparition, but he managed.
Appearing outside the bottle as nothing bigger than a speck of dust a meter and a half off the ground, gravity instantly took over, though it would have taken over a minute to fall the entirety of that distance in his current state. Pulling a broom from his pocket he mounted it and then undid the shrinking charm.
Mara Jade, ruler of Serenno and countless other systems in her empire, watched as her former enemy, mentor, and one-time lover appeared in front of her, hovering on a broom and looking less than pleased. Her honor guard reacted without hesitation but made it no closer than halfway before simply floating into the air, arms and legs flailing uselessly.
Harry, cooped up on a sixteen-kilometer ship for a little over two standard days, was flexing his magical muscle a bit with a wandless area levitation charm. He added to that with a visible aura that would have left Riddle impressed.
Jade cursed her rotten luck that he'd been on board at exactly the wrong moment, though wondered exactly why he had been in the first place.
Her emotions cycled between nervous, slightly fearful, and for reasons beyond even her, arousal. Perhaps it was because of how easily he'd dealt with her best-trained guards, many of whom were Mandalorians famed for their combat prowess.
"Miss Jade," he finally addressed her, sounding cool and composed. "-I think you and I need to have a little...chat."
The 'suggestion' sent tingles up her spine, and down past her navel.
"Captain?" His XO's surprised face greeted him when the call connected. "Thank the maker, we had feared the worst." Acting Captain Tonha sounded exasperated at the unexpected holo call.
"Oh, c'mon Tohna. You say that every time," his Captain lauded, rolling his eyes. "Like after that four-day orgy with that Deveronian version of the Spice Girls, or the incident with the Teradok siblings(the Teradok brothers had controlled a sizable swath of territory called the Greater Maldrood, and had been a constant thorn in Emperor Jade's side until their mysterious disappearance some three months ago)."
The XO still couldn't fathom why a music band would be named after the infamous drug, but then again, his Captain was one strange duck. Who's to say that his old homeworld hadn't been just as crazy as he? The connection became fuzzy as the command crew of the Justice heard a female off-screen yell;
"You were involved in that fiasco?"
"Of course," the wizard responded, momentarily ignoring his crew. "You, and by extension, I, had the most to benefit from their liquidation. Besides, they were getting close to Dathomir."
Many of the crew swore they knew that voice, but couldn't quite place it. That was until its owner joined Harry on screen briefly, her red hair wild and frizzy. They looked to be naked, with the former Emperor's hand turned most powerful Warlord on this side of Ord Mantell covered by nothing more than a thin silk sheet.
Harry reappeared, and the crew noted that his hair, too, was a bit more wild than usual. Potter had a few parting words for his 2IC.
"Commander, next time you decide to bring someone into your quarters, please make sure she doesn't drug you and take all of your stuff. On a related note, I have your watch and wallet, the latter of which will be missing most of its cred chits." He deadpanned.
Tonha turned crimson but managed a; 'yes sir'. All things considered; this was pretty mild as far as reprimandations went when taking into account the fact that he'd misplaced one of the most powerful vessels in the galaxy because of a sticky-fingered booty call.
"Oh, and get a razor. Your arse is positively gastl-" the man scrambled to cut the connection. Aboard the bridge, no one uttered a word. A data burst followed with coordinates and the XO quickly ordered the ship to jump to the nearest hyperspace node.
After that, he left, presumably to have a good cry or something.
Back on Serenno, in a stately bedroom fit for a Sultan and decorated with that line of thought in mind, a certain wizard was lying on what had to be the largest bed in existence, a lit lucky strike hanging from between his lips.
"All right, my bold Padawan," Harry began, arm draped around the woman with whom he'd just had 'diplomatic greetings' with.
"-what compelled you to try and take the Ravager? Last time I checked; you already had an Executer class play toy at your disposal."
Zsinj had named the thing the Iron Hand, which, if his basic was to be trusted, was an apt description considering how he'd ruled before Mara relieved him of his head.
The redhead frowned at the nickname, far too use to being addressed with respect and a healthy dollop of fear. Perhaps that's why she liked Harry, enough anyway to hop in the sack with him right after he wiped the floor with her personal guard.
Those Mandalorians never knew when to quit, and having jet packs meant Harry's little show was a minor hindrance at best. The resultant brawl had been anything but. She sighed at the thought of having to repair her throne room with the use of magic. It would take months to source the materials and have them carved into shape. Perhaps he'd show her some of these durability runes during his stay here.
She shrugged. "I figured you weren't using it, and as I'm sure you are aware, your little Princess and her entourage are ratcheting up the pressure on my fiefdom, trying to bring me into the New Republic's fold. They're being civil about it for now, though not very subtle. I've finally agreed to attend a summit and discuss a unilateral ceasefire. Not that my forces and theirs have come to any blows, to begin with," she added.
She tied her messy red locks into a high ponytail, still devoid of clothing, which distracted the spacefaring Wizard more than he would have liked.
"I figured, why not negotiate from a position of power." She smirked then. "And nothing says power like two Super Star Destroyers."
She did have a point, although if Mara could have it her way, she'd be subjugating the New Republic rather than negotiating with them.
"An interesting plan, though I can't fault you for thinking that way. Leia can be a bit stubborn," he conceded, reminding her that he too was an outsider in the eyes of the New Republic. Insulated and protected on that little project planet of his thanks to her, but an outsider regardless.
"You wield considerable influence, both militarily and economically. But a sizable amount of that is invested in keeping the Imperial remnant in line, and with the recent signing of an Alliance between the New Republic and the Hapes Consortium, it is in your best interest to maintain a cordial relationship with Mothma. Best to let them focus on your enemies rather than you, at least until you've solidified your hold over the newly acquired territory."
Mara again found herself surprised, but shouldn't have been. Of course, he'd be aware of the greater power plays within the Galaxy. Her newest teacher was anything but stupid, even if he often masked that intellect with juvenile behavior. The revelation that he'd assassinated her primary adversaries did come as a surprise, though his reasons didn't. It had been self-serving. Nothing more and nothing less.
His byplay left her anxious at his answer. She admitted that she did not like being made to wait, but like with all negotiations, some things couldn't be rushed. And she had no illusions that despite their recent intimacy, this favor would come at a cost to her. A marker to him, something he could call in at any time.
Which is why she'd wanted to take the ship and just return it after the fact. Better to ask for forgiveness, then for permission.
Harry mulled over the request because right now that's exactly what it was. She gazed at the bottle lying innocently on her night table, studying the triangular dark mass of metal, an awe-inspiring amount of power, all contained in such a small object.
While her attempted theft didn't leave him feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside, at least she was willing to sit down with Mothma and the rest of the New Republic leadership and sort things out, Harry concluded as he passed the cigarette to her.
At least according to her word. Carving up the Greater Maldrood had kept the various factions in the galaxy busy for a while, but it seems now that the assimilation was mostly complete, and they were back to their old, squabbling selves.
This is exactly why Harry didn't have any territorial ambitions, he reminded himself. It was just too much of a nuisance playing nice with everyone. Of course, despite only directly controlling one planet full of Rancor and horny force-sensitive tribal women, he was once again destined to become involved in exactly the type of scenario he was hoping to avoid. Damn it all, he was supposed to be on shore leave!
But if it was a show of force she wanted…well, that he could do.
"All right," he agreed, a rough plan already forming in that warped head of his. "You set up the meeting. I'll even lend you the Ravager. Just send me the coordinates and the time. I need about a week to get this idea off the ground."
Mara Jade, holding the bottle in her hands, was concerned, to say the least.
Seven standard galactic days came and went, and the most powerful of the Warlords found herself standing on the bridge of the Iron Fist, overlooking the lush garden world of Kashyyyk, which had been precariously close to the borders of the Greater Maldrood before its desolvation.
Now, it served as a convenient meeting place relatively close to her own border with the Republic, and the sizable fleet of ships wasn't completely outside of her sphere of influence. She could call upon another two hundred vessels of star destroyer class within a half-day, ready to burn the green world below her to ashes should anything happen to her. It was a powerful card that the Republic was all too aware of.
Jade looked on, past the green sphere and towards the large assortment of ships hovering some distance away. The Hapes had a formidable fleet of ships, exotic in design, and with little information, her intelligence branch had cautioned her against open confrontation.
Which was why she'd brought to bear the two Executors for this meeting instead of the expected one.
Also present was the usual collection of Mon Calamari vessels, bulbous and sleek, light gray in appearance. A force that rivaled her own. The pieces were in place, save for one.
"Potter," she growled, making a nearby crewman worry for his life. "Where the hell is he?"
She'd already stalled her hosts for over half an hour, and there still was no sign of him.
If you've ever heard of the term, 'Speak of the devil', then the sudden appearance of an honest to God Death Star over the planet should come as no surprise to you. But for everyone else, it was like kicking over the proverbial ant's nest.
The Republic and Hapes fleets moved nearly instantaneously, reforming to better manage a threat of this significance.
Mara, oblivious to the shouts of her own crew, simply mumbled; "you magnificent bastard."
Confirmation came a few seconds later when the central holo display activated.
"Hey luv. Sorry I'm late, but the traffic was a right bitch. Let me know if I'm sitting in a no-parking zone. I can bring her around if need be."
Afterward, Harry began arguing with the small spherical droid he'd befriended off-screen, who was apparently controlling the starbase he'd somehow managed to acquire in less than a week. She grinned. This was going to be an interesting summit.
The New Republic com lines were a mess of conflicting information, requests for clarification, and the eventual shout to simply find a window and look up at the sky.
Lo and behold the menacing and all too familiar silhouette of a spherical star base loomed high overhead, dwarfing the already sizable Star Home, or mobile base used by the Hapes Queen Mother.
Leia felt sick to her stomach. How could this be? Was Palpatine back? Did the Imperial Remnant somehow manage to construct another one of these abominable monstrosities? Was the Wookie homeworld about to be blasted into rubble, just as her beloved Alderaan had been?
Several tense minutes passed, and quickly word spread that the base was moving away, and falling in line with the Emperor Jade's forces, although dwarfing them might be a more apt description.
It had come as a nasty shock when the former Hand turned warlord had arrived with a second super star destroyer in tow. But this? It bordered on the obscene!
"How the hell did you pull this off?" she growled in his ear as they walked away from the landing platforms and into the organically shaped council building hanging from a truly massive tree in the center of the capital city, Rwookrrorro.
Harry had timed his landing perfectly with the Warlord's delegation, and they merged shortly after the shuttle doors opened.
Harry chuckled, dressed in something a bit more formal than the usual dragon hide robes. Leaning closer to her he first cast a privacy charm, before mumbling;
"Remember how we shrunk the Ravager? Well, I had a convincing scale replica of the Death Star made, and did exactly the opposite."
She actually had to stifle a laugh. "It's fake?" Oh, this was rich. She'd been worried about underestimating Potter and had briefly considered his apparent lack of ambition an elaborate ruse, thinking he'd amassed power in secret.
She was relieved that this was not the case, but wondered if he didn't have the resources to execute such a plan regardless. What would it really take to make the shell floating above them into a fully functioning base? Surely, he had the knowledge to do so. And it would take but a fraction of the resources if he utilized magic.
The thought was sobering. He could, without much effort, usurp her hard work, should he so choose. At that instance, she realized that keeping Harry Potter happy, or at least neutral, was in her best interest.
"It is. And let me tell you, the amount of magic it's taking to keep it at this size is staggering. Most of the time was spent charging the magical batteries. Which reminds me. We'd better get this treaty banged out in the next three days, because that's when this thing-" he jerked his thumb in the general direction of Kashyyyk's newest satellite, "-will deflate like a beach ball." Then Potter paused, before chuckled again.
"What?" she asked, resisting the urge to look at her robes for anything untoward there.
"Oh, nothing. Just imagine if I had filled the void within the replica with explosives before the expansion."
She paled. That amount would not only ruin the planet, but it would also obliterate the entire system. He'd have to feather-light the mass beforehand, as the sheer amount of mass would exert its own gravity and compress the innermost core, most definitely causing an unintentional detonation.
She glanced at the man walking next to her, revaluating her opinion of him once again. Potter was the definition of a wild card, with only his own morals keeping him from becoming the most destructive force in the Galaxy. But perhaps she could nudge him in a direction that would benefit her. After all, he did lend her the Ravager.
The tall, ornate doors ahead opened, a pair of furry Wookies standing at attention. The party entered, flanked by a quartet of Mara's personal guard, who, despite their lack of observable features, didn't look especially happy to have Potter right there next to her.
That group though, was dwarfed by their hosts, consisting of over a dozen species that made up the military backbone of the New Republic.
Harry recognized many familiar faces in the crowd, and from the looks of things, they realized who he was also.
Announcements were, regrettably, handled by the hosts, in this case the Wookies. Not the brightest idea, though he'd picked up enough of the language over the years to get by. Mercifully the speeches were short, and aside from the smoldering (I.e. murderous) looks Leia was giving Harry, things remained on track, up to when they were seated.
Harry had sat in on his fair share of summits back with the UN, though always as an uninvolved observer. It could take hours before they actually got to the chase, so in the meantime, he engaged his favorite homeless princess in some idle chat over the holopads provided to each person.
"Salutations, your highness." he was proud at his ability to inject the right amount of sincerity (I.E. none) into the greeting.
Her response was a good deal less formal.
"What are you of all people doing here?"
He let the question hang for a few moments, pondering an appropriately vexing response, before settling on;
"Well, considering Mara is my student, I thought it best to be present for the talks that would decide the outcome of my fledgling new Empire."
He hit send, and from across the table, the young woman was suddenly choking following a dainty sip of water, and distracting Mon as an added bonus.
"YOUR EMPIRE?" the response, he noted, was in caps.
He chuckled, glancing up at her. Harry had long ago given up on courting her. But teasing her? That was an endeavor very much worth perusing.
"Of course. In fact, why don't you visit our guest quarters tonight so Mara and myself can engage you in some more...intimate negotiations?"
Imagine the headlines if that were to happen. Potter achieves galactic peace with threesome.
A healthy amount of colour crept up her neck, and the makeup only did so much to hide it. Mara, who'd been dividing her attention between Mothma's speech and her master's interactions with the Alderanian princess, peered over at the holo pad in his hand. Potter made it easy for her and highlighted his question, earning himself a perfectly manicured auburn eyebrow raise, though she did not say no.
Leia darkened further when the former sithling locked eyes with her, appraising her in a way that Harry found arousing, to say the least.
Only then did he realize that this might actually have a chance of working, what with Solo halfway across the galaxy and all. Word on the grapevine was that the couple were cycling through an 'off' in their turbulent, on-off relationship, and depending on how far he'd shoved his foot in his own mouth, she might be up for a spot of revenge sex.
Potter grinned roguishly at the brunette, practically causing her to squirm in her seat.
Mon finally took note, and all three refocused on the introductory talks. The holo pad remained firmly inactive for the rest of the session.
Predictably the New Republic delegation stuck with their original proposal of merging the Warlord Jade's empire (it effectively was) with the New Republic to bring about peace in the Galaxy. The idea was to crush the smaller factions left and unite the stars for a new era of peace and prosperity.
That sounded nice, didn't it?
Too bad it was a fat pipe dream. The former republic that ceased to exist had been nothing more than a neutered dog. Individual systems were constantly in conflict, either with each other or internally. Why would anyone wish to return to that?
Granted, Harry didn't have a better idea himself, but isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome?
The New Republic was no different from the old one.
Nonetheless it was an insightful experience. Mara had actually put a lot of thought into her rule. The people were treated better than they had been under Palpatine and Zsinj, though those unsatisfied with the current way of things were no doubt experiencing what could only be called human rights violations.
By the end of the first day, little had been accomplished save for assurances that their de facto cease-fire would be maintained.
The various nameless dignitaries (Harry couldn't be bothered remembering their names and titles) were shown to their respective quarters. Mara had brought some of her closest advisors. Men and women who stood fast against the day-to-day rigors of governing a thousand worlds, each with their own needs and expectations.
Once behind closed doors they leaped into their own meeting following a thorough sweep of the rooms for listening devices. Harry kept to the side, arms folded and very much relieved to be excluded. He chewed the fat with some of the royal guards (the same ones he'd thrashed back on Serenno)
Mandolorians, he found, could be surprisingly witty, but almost always at your expense. Perhaps they were still a bit bitter from the experience. That and Mara had basically ordered them to guard Harry while he was in her company.
Flattering, yes. But unnecessary. He'd faced down two Sith lords and slew of other evildoers and always emerged smelling like a rose.
Well, except Palpatine. That force lighting had turned him into a serving of extra crispy rashers.
Another hour passed before the Jade delegation, as he liked to call them, had figured out their game plan for tomorrow.
Leah's eyes remained firmly locked on her feet as they carried her across the spiderweb of living catwalks connecting the canopied suites of the diplomatic grove. The architecture of the Wookies had always amazed her. They molded the growing limbs of the trees over years, if not decades into functional works of art. It reminded her of the Ewoks and their treehouses, but with elegance, the furry little creatures could scarcely hope to match.
Eventually, she reached the tall double doors that housed their guests for the course of the summit, though she herself could be considered as such as well, seeing as the New Republic's provisional council was mobile, lacking a proper capital until Coruscant could be retaken from the Imperial Remnant.
That was partially why she was here. Well, not here, in front of this door specifically. On Kashyyyk. To broker a peace treaty and perhaps even a tentative alliance with Jade's faction, who, while not as aggressive as many of the others, still tied up a sizable number of fleet resources they could throw at what was left of the Galactic Empire.
With Jade's assistance, the war could be over in a few short years.
That's why she was here. To appeal to her, and Harry.
Harry, who'd allied himself with her despite saying for years that he had no desire to rule. Harry, who had told her in no uncertain terms that this was his Empire, not Jade's. Had it all been a ploy on his part? How had he managed to build yet another Death Star? Had their friendship meant nothing?
These thoughts had plagued her since returning to her quarters until finally she'd had enough and chose to take them up on their offer for a private meeting if only to get some answers!
"I'd like to see Emperor Potter," she told the guards, who looked at her like she'd said something amusing. They opened the door quickly though, meaning the guards had been told to expect her.
What she found on the other side was hardly surprising, at least when considering Harry was involved.
Around a circular table wrapped in green felt sat the two people she came to see. Unfortunately for her she indeed saw them, but with much more skin than expected.
"Ah, about time you made an appearance. We're starting to run low on clothing articles." the Wizard welcomed her.
Unable to help herself she finally asked; "What are you two doing?"
"Strip poker. Now sit. I'll deal you in. Mara and I have been playing with Star destroyers instead of cred chits. But I don't think you have very many of those, so we'll switch to the classic; 'ask anything you want if you win a hand' rule. The clothes still come off, of course." he nodded sagely.
"Of course," she repeated with an eye roll, slipping into the seat left open. Harry was shirtless and had only one sock, but till retained his pants.
Warlord Jade was down to a surprisingly lacy black brazier and what she assumed were matching panties (she wasn't going to check), as well as thigh-high stockings.
"He's up by a dozen star destroyers but I'm getting the hang of this game. I hope for your sake you already know how to play..." she looked over at the younger woman. "or at least have a lot of layers under those formal robes."
Leia didn't. Rwookrrorro was far too hot and humid for that. But she had played poker before, back when Harry was nothing but a wide-eyed nerf calf.
Not anymore, it seemed.
"Texas hold'em?" she asked. Harry nodded, dealing everyone their hole cards. This was not how she envisioned spending the evening, though perhaps she ought to have. Nothing was ever straightforward when it came to Harry.
The first three community cards were laid bare and she quickly realized they were all rubbish. Harry produced several stacks of chips that all had the letter 'Q' on them.
"These are your question chips. Good for one question, no matter how scandalous." he winked at her. She had six.
"Can you use them now?" she asked, very much hoping to keep her clothes (and dignity) intact for the night.
"After the first round." he nodded. "But remember; if you use them up there are no more. Clean us both out and you get eighteen. You might need them, to be honest."
She huffed and threw one on the table. The fourth community card was dealt. And while she wouldn't get her answers just yet, she could still fish for information.
"So, I suppose congratulations are in order, Emperor Potter."
Harry blinked, and Mara snickered behind her two cards.
"What, the holo messages from earlier? That was just to get a rise out of you. She-" he jerked a thumb at Jade without looking up at her, "-still runs the show. I hadn't even planned on attending, but Mara here kidnapped me, along with my SSD in a bottle."
"She forced you to hand it over?"
"Ahh, ahh," he wagged a finger. That's a question. Are you sure you want to waste one of your token on that?"
She folded her arm, eyes narrowing." This was going to be supremely frustrating.
The final card was dealt, leaving her with a pair of queens, not unlike the drama queen seated across from her.
Jade won the round with three of a kind, and Leia shed her outer robes. Potter lost his pants, leaving him with just his skivvies plus a lone sock.
Mara collected the token, though for her they meant practically nothing. Or did they.
"Let's get started then, Potter. Looks like I have eight tokens." Harry looked her way with suspicion.
"You have questions?" he asked, slightly worried.
"For my dear master who has been holding out on me, educationally speaking?" She stated with a smug grin. "Of course I do. Now, tell me how to read minds like you seem to be able to."
Harry barked out a laugh. "Oh, how deliciously evil of you. Fine, I'll answer. Though you might not like the answer. The field of magic is called Legilimency, and it takes someone like you a great deal of time to learn." He leaned forward, folding his fingers. "I'll make you a deal though. If you make one concession of notable significance at this summit, I'll teach you myself. How does that sound?"
Leia's head swiveled back and forth. Here she thought these two were anything other than a united front, but they seemed to be playing power games all on their own. Harry was asking something major here. Without some sort of sacrifice, the odds of these talks bearing any fruit were slim to none.
But to have the power to read someone's mind? That would give Jade an advantage beyond comprehension.
"Define notable significance?"
He shrugged. "How should I know? It will probably be the sticking point preventing you from banging out a deal at the end of all of this."
"Not good enough. I wish to know about your runes as well."
Harry rubbed his chin in thought. Leia knew runes would grant any ship superior durability and agility. But they needed charging on magical planets. Those, it seemed, were few and far between, making them most effective as defensive tools around those magical planets.
Leia suddenly realized that she was effectively negotiating away from the main body. This was dangerous, and she hadn't even opened her mouth yet.
"Some runes pertaining to defense I'll release. But nothing offensive." he countered as the next round commenced.
Leia didn't even bother with her cards.
"Fine. But I'll determine what constitutes a notable concession. I know you want me to play nice, Potter. But I'm not giving away the farm here."
He nodded. "And I'm not asking you to. I just don't want you and the New Republic fighting."
This was astonishing. Here she'd thought Harry had deceived her and the rest of the New Republic, but in reality, he was playing mediator. She suddenly felt ashamed for thinking so poorly of him.
"Now Leia, this is where you come in. Don't think that Mara here will be the only one having to sacrifice things to make this happen. What I'd like to see is a gradual reduction in forces along your shared border and some sort of overlapping long-range sensor network to prevent surprise incursions into the other's Sovereign territory. Oh, and any new territory will be split based on what you both bring to the table. High-value systems will likely require further negotiation."
She blinked at him, not sure what to say. "Oh, don't look at me like that." Harry continued. "You really think I didn't read through the literature provided earlier. The New Republic's demands border on the ludicrous. You can't expect anyone to roll over just like that."
He threw in his chip and waited for her to do the same. "Now, do you want to keep playing or would you rather run back to Mothma?"
Leia narrowed her eyes. "All right, Potter. I'm not leaving until I see those pale cheeks."
He grinned, knocking back his beer. "You know, that's not the first time I've heard that."
A rhythmic rocking woke Leia, eliciting a frown before her eyes even opened. She was by no means a morning person, but her status and importance meant she almost never allowed herself to sleep in.
With a sigh, she cracked open an eye and took in the most unusual sight. After all, it wasn't every day one got to see a Warlord mount her friend on the same bed you just woke up from.
"By the force, you're at it again?" Leia complained, rolling over. "Wasn't last night enough?" The moan that escapade the redhead told her that answer was a resounding 'no'.
"Hey, unlike you and that Solo animal, we don't get many chances to unwind. So excuse me if I'm taking this bull by the hornsss." The last word turned into another moan. The pornographic display was enough to override her grogginess, and within five minutes she was the one screaming into the sheets, the redhead reduced to a twitching puddle of contentment underneath her own sweat-covered body.
The much-needed shower degenerated into yet another passionate session, and by the time Leia left the dignitary suites, she couldn't walk straight. Even worse, none of her questions were answered.
Several hours later and looking prim and proper, the individual parties were assembled. Oddly enough she felt absolutely zero guilt for last night or this morning. If anything, the stress of the last few days had all but melted away, leaving her feeling...relaxed.
Predictably that feeling didn't last long, not with Harry Potter in the vicinity.
Despite having the best morning, well, ever, Harry wanted to bash his head into the table by the time lunch rolled around. It quickly became apparent that the New Republic still held onto the ridiculous notion that Jade's faction needed to be under the administration of the council, something that had absolutely zero chance of happening. Getting them to budge on that took another four hours and involved some not-so-subtle threats try out that big honkin laser on the ol' planet killer up there.
Honestly, Harry couldn't believe they were still pushing for this despite being severely outgunned, militarily speaking. And that's not even accounting for the fake death star still sitting in orbit. He prayed that no one would notice the non-existent gravitational readings on the thing.
Then the proverbial lightbulb went off.
Standing, he garnered the attention of a few. The fireworks earned him the rest. Never mind that he was interrupting the New Republics minister of foreign affairs, or whatever the galactic equivalent for the position was.
"What if we decommission the Death Star? Will you sign the bloody treaty then?"
Mara looked at him in bewilderment, as did Mothma, whom the question was mostly directed at.
"Begging your pardon, Captain Potter, but Senator Nevera wasn't finished.
"I'm well aware, Chancellor." he all but shouted. "But unlike you, I wasn't blessed with a nearly infinite amount of patience. Now, if we decommission that ball of destruction up there-" he pointed at the aforementioned ball of destruction. Then will you please stop wasting my time and sign the Merlin forsaken agreement?"
After a fifteen-minute recess to discuss the proposal, things finally started happening. Mara could scarcely believe the scope of subterfuge her master was willing to utilize just to end his boredom.
The final document was drafted and proofread by both party's armies of lawmakers. Revisions were submitted, rejected, and tweaked until finally, by the morning of the third day it was ready to sign. Harry added his won two cents worth by making the contract a magically binding one, just so no one could wiggle their way out it.
Mon Mothma signed first, followed by her Minister of State, Leia Organna. Mara Jade followed her poker face still in full effect despite what was about to occur. The queen mother of the Hapes consortium was next. Harry, unfortunately, didn't have a chance to speak with her, though she looked as though she wanted to.
Finally, it was Harry's turn. By some stroke of luck (he guessed the force was involved) Tonha radioed that the last of the magical reserves were waning and the Iron Justice, who'd actually served as the driving force in getting the fake death star to Kashyyyk was vacating the massive void within the hollow star base.
With all parties having signed the physical flimsy copy flashed golden, signaling the ratification of the treaty and ending the unofficial hostilities that had been ongoing since the fracturing of the Empire some year and a half earlier.
"Well, I suppose we can take care of this right now. Looking up, the light gray outline of the star base began to shrink, collapsing in stages as the magic dried up. Concerned muttering broke out. Some people screamed. It was all very dramatic.
But the look on Mon and Leia's faces was one he'd never forget.
"You know what just happened, Chancellor? Harry grinned, channeling his inner marauder. "You've been Shaw shanked!"
The wizard threw back his head and laughed, throwing his arm around Mara and walking off, but not before summoning two bottles of whatever Champaigne was called around these parts.
It was time to party.
A/N: Starting to get really tired of the keyboard warriors who like to critique someone else's work whist leaving the respond option firmly in the 'off' position. So I think it's high time to start calling you out. Starting with an individual named Jack. Here's what jack wrote. I'm going to leave my response right underneath it.
Jack chapter 18 . 5m ago
You don't know me but I must say, better start to the story, but the end is significantly bad. You have a throw-away character who seems to be there for the purpose of being a lesbian, then gratuitous degenerate sex by principles during a negotiation? That would ruin Lea. And that whole sailing ship thing and the Zeltrons having no defenses after the Clone Wars was just stupid. I almost clicked away when I read it. It's like you're thirteen or something.
Response; Lets start with your wholly inaccurate description of Leia. She's been around since the first chapter, so certainly not 'throw away' as you mentioned. Also, a lesbian would imply that there was no male company around, which was clearly not the case. As for ruining her. How do you reckon that? She received a vague invite, more of a tease via the futuristic equivalent of messenger than anything maliciously planned, and actually wanted to see why her friend was siding with an enemy of the Republic. No one forced her, and it certainly wasn't mentioned that the treaty would falter unless she slept with them. It was her choice, plain and simple.
You know what I think, and this hones in on your use of the term 'degenerate'. You're a prude, or deeply religious, and simply didn't like what you read. Which is fine. What isn't fine is the poorly thought out single paragraph you spent perhaps a few minutes phrasing, before hitting that send button. Compare that to the countless hours of actually writing, discarding, and refining something into a logical, reasonably well-constructed chapter and you can see why, quite frankly, your opinion means less than nothing to me. What annoys me is that I can't simply strike it from the record and be on my merry way. But hey, if grilling and pulling apart your little quip is what it takes then by all means, lets do it!
Moving right along, the Zeltrons homeworld. You may not know this but most, if not all of the reference material for that portion of the story came from a comic book series produced by Marvel. Therein the planet mentions no orbital defenses, no fleet, and no standing military of any kind. Read them if you want. or don't. Makes no difference to me.
Finally, the ol age jab. Fantastic summary. It certainly was the push I needed to sit down and pen this little rant. Might even get me reported, or heaven forbid banned from the site. If that's the case then so be it. I write as a hobby. Helps me decompress when my work requires me to talk to a**holes just like you. I've gotten some useful criticism from readers here on FF over the years, and it's made me spend a lot of time fixing this story. Case in point, I was pretty insensitive when the MC was drugged and carted away somewhere around chapter 12, to be used by some nameless OC as a living, breathing, and most importantly, non-consentual sex toy. It offended a great many, and, through civil conversation, I edited that out. I don't feel this way about the scene that has your panties in a wad though, and it's not going anywhere as a result. At least not until this story gets deleted by a moderator or admin.
So next time you want to write a review, make sure you can be reached. And more importantly, think a little before you hit response. Good riddance, Jack.