Welcome back everyone! We're on to the second installment of In All Things Balance. So if you haven't read that story yet I highly advise that you do otherwise you will more than likely be more than just a bit lost. Just a forewarning…this arc is going to be quite a bit darker than the previous. We're going to be looking at truly earning that 'M' rating this time around. Still not sure if I'm going to be including any 'lemons' in this arc…but it is a possibility if demand is high enough. But in truth…I've never written one so…yeah we'll see.
Just to let you all know, for the SW verse I'm going to be taking things from both the Cannon (movies and TV shows) and Legends (games and books) for this SW verse.
Also a huge thank you to both Dunstan Xenon and HowInMadHowie who are helping me out by beta reading this story for me and by also allowing me to bounce ideas around with them.
Also here is a guide for dialogue:
"Intercom / ghost (Force ghost) talk"
Hope that you all enjoy the first chapter! And please leave a review if you feel so inclined!
Keeping her eyes firmly fixated on the large asteroid colony before her, Ziri Nox; former Dark Lady of the Sith, former member of the Dark Council, founder of the Guardians and the adoptive mother of Harry Potter, piloted her ship, the Ashara, through the mass of ships entering and leaving the smugglers' port. "Well what do you know, the nav computer was right." Nox's lover and co-pilot Nymphadora Tonks said as she watched the dozens of ships fly by. "There really is a colony out here…how did they build something like this on a rock? How do they breathe?"
The colony, or rather the smugglers' den, was one of the few places that were locked in the ship's nav computer. No doubt the smugglers that she collected the Ashara from had intended to make this place their next stop after they managed to escape Korriban. And while this was not her first choice for a destination, especially with a ship load of primitives as they were, this place would allow them to barter several relics from Earth, all fake of course, with little to no questions asked.
Her second reason for choosing this place, besides the fact that it was close to Wild Space, was the simple fact that it was apparently one of the largest hubs for bounty hunters in this sector of the Outer Rim. And it was probably the last place anyone would think to look for Force sensitives in a galaxy that was currently trying to hunt them down.
"The colony itself is encased in a dome." Nox explained as she guided the ship towards an empty docking harness. "The inside of which has been terraformed just enough so it has a somewhat self-sustaining ecosystem."
The ship rocked back and forth almost violently as it latched onto the harness. Tonks of course immediately latched onto her seat so hard her knuckles turned white. "Whoa…you'd think for how advance everything is out here someone would come up with a better docking system."
"Nothing is ever perfect." Nox shrugged powering down the engines. "Let's see how the kids handled the docking."
In the main galley of the ship the only four that were still on their feet were Harry, Daphne, Aela and Ginny. Remus, Luna, Hermione, Susan had all managed to find a seat before they docked. But the rest; Astoria, Tracey, Hannah and Ron, were all still trying to regain their footing.
"I take it we've arrived mother." Harry stated with a slight smirk on his face as she came into view.
"What was your first clue son?" She teased back, enjoying the slight reddening that came over his face while she did so. "Now listen carefully. All of you. I've been to several smuggler dens like this one in my time. And trust me, even the best among them make Knockturn Alley seem like a walk in the park. So on this first trip out it will just be myself, Tonks and Aela."
Of course that started off a wave of protest, which she promptly silenced with a wandless silencing spell. 'Force…if only I knew how to do that back when I was still on the Dark Council. Would've made those meetings far more productive.'
"This is not up for debate." Nox said harshly, meeting each of her students' eyes. "This place is dangerous. Not to mention everyone with a blaster is now hunting for anyone of age that shows even an inkling of Force aptitude. And while I have no doubt that all of you would be able to handle yourselves for the most part. I really do not feel like fighting off every bounty hunter on this rock in order to escape. Aela, Tonks and I will check out the immediate vicinity and then allow you to leave the ship later under close supervision. If you disobey me, then you will not only be staying on board; your punishment will be most unpleasant. Are we clear?"
"Yes Master." All of her students, including Harry, answered.
"Good," Nox nodded before turning towards Remus and Aela. "Aela go get the smaller crate of jewels and relics out of the cargo hold. We'll put out some feelers today and go after bigger targets tomorrow. And get the blasters too. If we're going to be playing the part of bounty hunters than we at least need to look the part."
Within ten minutes the three of them were dressed as in common street clothes with blasters on each of their hips and with their wand holsters firmly secured on the underside of their forearms and out of sight. Stepping out of the airlock of the docking cradle and into the colony proper, they were greeted immediately by the sight of a busy commerce street. Hundreds of individuals of nearly a dozen different species were darting back and forth through the busy street while vendors lined either side peddling everything from ship parts, to blasters, to torpedoes and even slaves.
The last of which made Nox's hands tighten almost painfully. Her time as a slave had left a deep and permanent scar on her soul. While the trio were still getting their bearings, a male twi'lek walked up to the slave girls and began roughly feeling their assets. Nox actually had to reach out and stop both Aela and Tonks from interfering as the twi'lek turned and started negotiating with the slave dealer.
"No." Nox growled as the new slave owner picked up a chain and attached it to the collar of a human woman. "One day they will all pay. But we have neither the time nor manpower to do anything now. But remember what you see here…and use it in the future."
Unbeknownst to the three of them, but as they stood there they were noticed by a rodian who gave a quick nod to his two human bodyguards before advancing on the trio. "Good day travelers!" The rodian said in Huttese as he approached the trio. "My name is Gian and I welcome you to Nemir's Den. Owned and operated by none other than Nemir the Hutt himself!"
Turning towards the rodian, Nox made a subtle motion with her hand for Tonks and Aela to flank her. "And your point?"
The rodian began scratching under his chin as his two human bodyguards came up on either side of him. "Nemir requires a toll to be paid on all docked ships. One hundred credits a day. And you must register what your cargo is and it's worth."
Nox just barely kept herself from rolling her eyes. "Aela. Tonks. Set our goods down and give this rodian and his guards what they're due."
Smiling, Gian turned towards Aela expecting payment and instead received the werewolf's fist right under his jaw. While the rodian was still in the air, Aela reversed her arm and smashed her elbow into one of the guard's chest before grabbing him by the throat with her left hand and lifting him clear off the ground. The second guard made to intervene, but was stopped dead when the business end of a blaster was pressed against his temple courtesy of Tonks.
Taking a step towards the downed rodian, Nox pressed down on the man's sensitive parts with the ball of her foot while the passerby's in the street watched on without making any move to interfere. "Now that wasn't very smart rodian." She drawled while drawing her own blaster. "I could've believed the whole part about a toll. But wanting to know the purpose of my visit and what I'm carrying? That's something that only the core worlds would require. Not this outpost. Quite simply…you got greedy rodian. And it's going to cost you."
Raising her blaster, she leveled it first at the rodian's head before moving over to each humans. "Eeny. Meeny. Miny. Moe." On the last word she brought the blaster back down and put a hole through the center of the rodian's head. "Now you two. Your payday is dead. So before you act take a moment to ask yourself a single question. Is this really worth it?"
The two humans glanced at one another. The one who only had Tonks' blaster pointed at his head took off immediately. And the other took off after him the moment Aela set him back down on the ground. "Didn't think so." Nox smirked as she holstered her blaster.
The moment she stepped away from the dead rodian the residents were on him. His pockets were turned inside out as they looked for any spare credits. His over coat was roughly stripped from his body, causing a short scuffle to break out between a twi'lek and a human about who grabbed it first. And his boots were taken as well.
"Was that really necessary?" Tonks asked as she watched the residents descend on the corpse like a flock of vultures. "We could've just turned him into the authorities."
"You really haven't been to many places like this have you, little Miss Auror?" Aela chuckled. "For starters, if there were any law enforcement personnel here they would probably have a life expectancy of about ten seconds. Second, I'm sure extortion is the least of that creature's crimes. And thirdly, you don't want to appear weak in a place like this. And as you can see, no one is even the least bit bothered by a sudden death in the middle of a crowded street."
"Alright, you made your point." Tonks grumbled. "Just…if you're going to kill someone at least give me a moment's warning alright Nox?"
"Fine." Nox smirked as she leaned close to Tonks while sending a small jolt straight into her hip. "I'll make it up to you later lover." And then she pulled away leaving Tonks mildly gasping in the middle of the street.
"Damn it Nox." Tonks half groaned and half gasped. "You…you're just evil you know that! You can't just do that and walk away!"
Smiling to herself, Nox set a brisk pace through the crowded streets leaving Aela and Tonks struggling to keep up. As they walked Nox kept a trained eye on the vendors that were peddling their wares. After walking for nearly thirty minutes she came to a stop before a male twi'lek who had a few pieces of jewelry out on his stand. "Ah, I see the lady has a trained eye for quality." The twi'lek said in Huttese as he stepped forward. "How can Rumth be of service?"
Stepping up to the table, Nox smiled as she made a quick pass over the man's mind. He was desperate. Good. That would work. "I'm looking to sell some recently acquired wares." Nox answered as she looked at the pieces on the table. All of which were tarnished in some manner, and in the most cases complete forgeries. "And I believe that you are the man to talk too."
The twi'lek bit his lip as waves of disappointment rolled off of him. But the chance for new wares was just too good for him to pass on. "Perhaps I can be of service."
Stepping forward, Aela opened the small crate she was carrying under her arm and pulled out a thick golden chain that was attached to an emerald half the size of her fist. "I'm sure that we can come to some sort of an agreement," Nox smiled as the twi'lek's eyes grew large with greed.
Peering over the lid of the small crate, the twi'lek nearly drooled at the sight of all the several gold and gem encrusted pieces of jewelry that were inside. Of course all of the pieces within were fakes. Just transfigured stones that would revert back to their original state in a couple of days. But he didn't need to know that. "Yes…quite the collection. Rumth wonders if you could say once more where you acquired such fine pieces."
"I never said where I acquired them in the first place." Nox answered back. "But you don't have to worry about anything. The previous owners won't be coming and looking for them."
Nodding, Rumth continued to make a show at looking over the pieces. "They are fine pieces. But Rumth might have trouble moving them. I'll give you one thousand for all of them."
Nox glared at the twi'lek before turning to Aela. "Put them away Aela. That price is an insult."
"Wait! Rumth can negotiate."
"I don't know what there is to negotiate." Nox replied flatly. "That one piece can be sold for easily seven thousand. And the rest of them could go for a combined ten thousand. So unless you are willing to offer me at least thirteen thousand we have nothing further to discuss."
Rumth stared at the jewelry almost desperately, his thoughts so loud that Nox didn't even need to try in order to read them. He needed this jewelry in order to pay off a debt to Nemir the Hutt. And he needed it by tomorrow otherwise he would end up as the 'evening entertainment'.
Taking the gold and emerald necklace form Aela, Nox began idly playing with the links in the chain. "You see Rumth, my friends and I have a two crates three times the size of this small case full of pieces just like these. For some reason Rumth…I like you. And since I like you so much I'm willing to make a deal with you. You give me five thousand and I let you take the case minus this piece here. You put us in touch with a buyer that would be willing and able to pay full price for all of these pieces and I'll give you this piece to sell at your leisure."
Nox could feel the relief pouring off of the man. Even losing all of his current creds, the amount he could gain back from selling the case plus the amount he would get from the necklace would be more than enough to pay off his debt to Nemir. "Five thousand is all I have…will you take four?"
"Five thousand Rumth." Nox shot back, wrapping the chain around her fist. "Otherwise we walk. You have ten seconds to make up your mind. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Fi-"
"Wait! Rumth knows of a buyer! Rumth accepts your deal."
"Wonderful." Nox smiled, tucking the necklace into the waist band of her belt and out of sight. "We'll be back in one cycle and you can take us to your buyer."
Nodding, the twi'lek ducked back into his shop for a few minutes. When he came back out he was holding small durasteel case roughly the size of a briefcase. "Five thousand credits, as promised." He said reluctantly handing the case over.
Tonks immediately grabbed the case and opened. Inside the top row were indeed Republic, or rather Imperial credit chips. Removing the first layer, Tonks dug down in the case looking for any gaps or forgeries. After a quick count Tonks nodded to Nox. "It's all there."
"Good." Nox then nodded to Aela who pushed the case full of fake jewelry over to the twi'lek. "We'll be back within one cycle and you can take us to your buyer."
Rumth nodded while quickly grabbing hold of the case of jewelry and holding onto it as if it was his only lifeline. Which, from what she managed to pick up from his mind, wasn't too far from the truth. "Wait! What type of payment do you request from Rumth's buyer?"
"Credits. Blasters. Ammo. Missiles. Shield generators or fuel." Nox answered without missing a beat.
The twi'lek bowed low and immediately began closing up his shop, no doubt so he could get to Nemir and barter for his life.
With their business concluded, Nox led her two companions back through the marketplace and back onto their ship. As they walked Nox saw that most of the peddlers were working fast in order to try and close up their shops. 'More than likely the selling time is over this cycle.' The moment the stepped out of the airlock they were immediately set upon by her apprentices. All of whom immediately began talking over one another in their attempts to ask her questions about the colony.
"Do I have to silence you all again?" Nox threatened, which of course immediately silenced any and all questions. "Good. Now the market place is closing down for this cycle. When the next cycle starts I will allow Remus and Aela to take you all out in pairs to explore the general vicinity. Do nothing to draw attention to yourselves while you are out there. No magic. No Force abilities. No lightsabers. Understand?"
"Good." Nox nodded before turning to Aela. "I want you to give each of them a hundred credits so that they can buy something from one of the peddlers. Some interaction will be good for them. Harry, I have a different task for you."
Taking a step forward, her son stood up slightly straighter. "What is it mother?"
"Tomorrow when you head out I want you to take Ginny and Aela with you. Aela, I want you to take the two of them to that droid vendor that was two shops down from our jewelry peddler. Once you're there I want you to buy an astromech droid."
Harry brow furrowed in confusion before his eyes widened. "You mean one of those droids that work on ships?"
"Among other things." Nox nodded.
Raising her hand, Hermione tentatively asked, "What is an…astromech droid Master Nox?"
"They're exactly that," Nox answered with a shrug. "They're droids that are completely sentient that work on ships. They're also commonly used in conjunction with fighter pilots as they can perform mid-combat repairs to fighters as well as offer tactical data and strategic options to the pilots."
Hermione was nearly drooling after the word 'sentient'. "Yes Hermione you can examine the droid. As long as you don't drool all over it." Harry chuckled, making the others laugh at the witch's awestruck expression.
"Oh, bugger off." Hermione cursed looking completely embarrassed.
Almost immediately five voices all chimed in, "Language Hermione." Which of course only made the witch's face turn even redder.
Even Nox felt some small measure of amusement at watching the back and forth between the children. "Alright, enough of that. If you all keep it up our resident genius might just pass out from heat stroke." Nox wasn't sure if it was her 'genius' comment or her teasing, but Hermione's face only turned redder. "Now all of you get some sleep. We'll be leaving this rock and heading for Odessen before the end of the next cycle and we have a lot of work to do."
Stepping out of the airlock with Aela, Harry and Ginny did their best not to gape at the dozens of different species that were scattered amongst the crowded street before them while Aela gently prodded them from behind. "Don't gawk you two." Aela said lowly. "Act like you belong here. You don't want to stand out. Ron already almost did that earlier when a pair twi'lek and nautolan dancers passed us by. I swear the boy just about blew it right then and there. Hermione was not pleased with him. In fact, I'm pretty sure she was mildly disgusted with his lack of self-control." Aela snickered.
Harry wasn't quite sure what Aela had meant by that, by judging by her tone and by the look on Ron's face when he and Hermione had returned to the ship he had a pretty good idea. Moving slightly closer to Ginny, Harry allowed Aela to guide the two of them through the crowded streets.
"This place puts Diagon Alley to shame." Ginny said lowly as she looked around. "I can't even guess what half of this stuff is supposed to do …Merlin my father would go crazy in this place."
Harry was finding it increasingly difficult to keep his eyes straight ahead as they move further and further into the crowd. Everything was just so interesting! So foreign. And then it happened. And Harry suddenly understood why Ron had had such a difficult time.
"Hello there handsome, perhaps we can treat you right." A sultry voice beckoned to him.
Harry was just barely able to keep his face straight as two green skinned women, one a twi'lek and the other had to be a nautolan, came up on either side of him and took hold of each of his arms. Harry felt his face heat up as he noticed that both women were clothed in skin tight, thin, see-through mesh body suits with only slim thicker pieces of cloth over their more private parts.
"Ahem, no thank you." Harry managed to stutter out while politely but forcefully pulling his arms out of their grips. "I – uh – appreciate the offer but I don't have the – um – time to uh…well I don't have enough time to uh – correctly appreciate two such visions of beauty like yourselves. Maybe another time."
The two women only seemed mildly put out. "Well then sweet thing," the nautolan purred as she leaned close and pressed her lips to his cheeks. "Come back when you do have the time. And we will show you things you've only dreamed off."
Harry just barely managed to keep his jaw from hitting the ground as he watched the two saunter off into the crowd. Turning around he saw that Ginny, while seemingly glaring at the two women, also seemed to be having trouble holding in her laughter. Aela wasn't as subtle. His supposed guard for the day was grinning from ear to ear.
"You brought me by here on purpose, didn't you?" Harry growled as he marched past Aela.
"Of course." Aela smiled patting him on the shoulder. "It's way too much fun, not to mention it's not easy, to fluster boys your age. And two scantily clad beautiful women? Please…it was practically gift wrapped."
Grumbling, Harry continued on down the market. "If you keep that up Ginny we're not going to stop for you to buy something." Harry said over his shoulder as Ginny failed to hold in her amusement any longer.
"Fine." Ginny smiled, crossing her arms over her chest. "Spoilsport."
They did actually stop at a small vendor that was selling working models of ships and something called hover bikes. Ginny ended up spending most of her allotment of credits but she did purchase a model speeder that was supposedly functional. When Harry voice his doubts Ginny merely shrugged then said in a low voice that if it didn't work she would simply charm it to fly.
Following Aela, she led the two of them up to a stall where a toydarian, if Harry remembered correctly, was lounging against his stall table. As they drew closer Harry realized the creature wasn't just leaning against his table. He was sleeping. "Good thing he doesn't have anything on display." Ginny mumbled quietly.
"We toydarians are light sleepers little human." The toydarian said suddenly wide awake and using his wings so he was hovering at the same height as Harry and Ginny.
Ginny started slightly, but Harry managed to keep his composure. "We're here to buy an astromech droid. Word is that you're one of the best dealer around."
At the word 'buy' the toydarian's eyes almost literally lit up. "Yes, of course! And you heard correctly young human. I am the best around. Come come, see what I have in stock."
Following the floating creature into his shop, Harry saw that there where nearly a dozen different astromech droids as well as a few other types of droids he didn't recognize lining the walls. Harry had spent the few hours he had before leaving with Aela studying astromech droids on the holonet, so he had a fairly good idea about what he was after.
"As you can see," the toydarian said waving his hand around. "I have several of the R series astromech droids. All good quality I assure you of that. And…oh that pathetic girl! Slave! Get in here now!"
From the back of the shop a small blue skinned nautolan poked her head out and hesitantly came forward. Harry's fist clenched tightly as he noticed the large slave collar around her neck. 'For Merlin's sake! She can't be more than seven or eight years old!' And that wasn't all he noticed. As she stepped forward Harry sensed something. 'She's Force sensitive to boot!'
Once she was close enough the toydarian smacked her across the top of her head knocking her to the ground. He then started yelling at her in Huttese, to which she meekly nodded before picking up a rag and cleaning an oil spill on the floor.
Reaching back, Harry just barely managed to catch Ginny's arm before she drew her lightsaber. When the two met each other's eyes Harry sadly shook his head. They couldn't risk exposure.
"Sorry about that little display." The toydarian apologized. "Just bought her last week. Seems to work alright with mechanics but still working on cleaning duties. Now…what type of astromech can I interest you in?"
Trying his best to ignore the slight crying girl on the floor, Harry met the toydarian's eyes and tried to do a quick scan…but came up completely empty. 'Damn it, I can't read him.' "We already have one, but two would be beneficial seeing as how our mother is a bounty hunter."
One thing his mother had taught him about bartering. Never seem to be in need of whatever you were shopping for. The toydarian frowned slightly as he stared at Harry, then Ginny and the Aela. "Well…one can never be too safe. Especially in such a dangerous profession. I take it you two are siblings then. And this one is your mother's hired help yes? Yes of course. Now, what model where you interested in?"
Making a show of looking over each droid, Harry made a full lap around the store with Ginny. All the while keeping an eye on the young girl. "I thought you were the best dealer in the colony?" Harry half questioned as he stood before the toydarian. "I can walk down the street and buy any of these astromechs you have on display. If you want my business, you're going to have to impress me."
The toydarian glared at him for a second before turning and barking something at the young nautolan. The girl quickly nodded and disappeared into the back of the shop and reemerging a few seconds later half dragging, half carrying, a container that was almost half as big as she.
"I just received this one in from…well let's just say an unnamed source." The toydarian grinned while waving off the girl. "This a prototype model, so I can guarantee that you will not find this one anywhere else."
Smacking his fist down on top of the crate, all of the sides and the top fell over revealing a large sphere like droid with another half sphere perched on top for a head. Harry could feel through his bond with Ginny that she was instantly enamored with the thing. Kneeling down he made a show of inspecting the droid. "What is its designation? I don't think I've ever seen anything like this."
"BB-8, I believe is what my supplier named it." The toydarian said, obviously pleased with Harry's reaction. "And I can let it go for…oh say ten thousand credits."
Standing, Harry fixed the toydarian with a glare. Not necessarily a hard feat considering he was still pissed off about the little slave girl now trying to make herself as small as possible in the corner. "I can buy a ship for that price." Harry responded coldly. "I can buy a new R5 unit for less than a thousand credits. One thousand for this one."
Scratching his chin, the toydarian stared back and forth between Harry and the droid. "Well…maybe I overestimated its value. But it is a prototype. Five thousand."
"A prototype that you neither bought at price nor created." Harry countered back. "Two thousand."
Now the toydarian actually seemed to be enjoying their banter. "Three thousand and not a single credit less."
Considering that Harry had four thousand on him, he nodded his consent. "And I'll be taking your slave girl also." Harry announced making four head's shoot up in surprise. "You said that she's skilled mechanic right? Our last one died and she's just the right size to fit into small places on a ship."
The toydarian was no longer amused. "You might have talked me down on the droid human, but that girl cost me quite a sum on the block last week and she hasn't even earned a fraction of that back. You want her and the droid? Eight thousand and not a credit less!"
Staring back at the little girl, Harry bit his lip. Her eyes were wide as she looked back and forth between Harry and the toydarian. She might not be able to understand what they were saying, but she understood that it was about her. And the hopeful looks she was giving Harry…
'Morgana's cold tit…why am I such a pushover? I don't have eight thousand…and I can't just go an ask mother for it either. But I can't just leave her here. Especially as she's Force sensitive. This arse-whip will probably sell her to the Empire the moment she does anything Force related. Think Harry! There has to be something you can do…wait! That's it! The holonet said that all toydarian's have the same weakness!'
"How about a gamble then." Harry said turning back to the toydarian and while ignoring the sudden stiffing of Ginny and Aela behind him. "You name the game. Two rounds. The first round is my four thousand credits versus this BB-8 unit. If I win, then we go onto the second round. Which will be the BB-8 unit and my four thousand credits against her."
The toydarian hummed while rubbing his chin. Harry had just laid down a bet for an extra thousand credits that gave the shop owner two chances to win versus Harry's one loss and done. "Deal!" The toydarian laugh holding out his hand for Harry to shake.
Shaking his hand, Harry took a step back. "What's the game?"
Smiling, the toydarian pulled out three dice from his pocket. "These are chance cubes." He explained holding them up for Harry to see. "I roll both times. If red comes up on at least two of them, then I win. If blue…then you win."
Harry felt himself smile. Of all of the games he could've picked. He was sure that the dice were loaded, but in the end it wouldn't matter. "Deal."
Smiling, the toydarian shook the dice in his hand before rolling them onto the floor. All it took was a subtle wave of his hand and a gentle push with the Force and two of the dice came up blue. The toydarian glared first at the dice and then at Harry. "It appears that luck is with you human." The flying creature said as he went and collected the dice. "The droid is yours. But your luck won't hold this time."
Shaking his hand, the toydarian threw the dice again. With another slight move from Harry all three dice came up blue.
The toydarian stared uncomprehendingly at the dice for a moment. "No!" He shouted rounded on Harry. "That wasn't a fair bet! You cheated somehow!"
"I did no such thing." Harry shrugged. "You rolled the dice after all."
Glaring at him, the toydarian went over to the dice, picked them up and rolled them again. This time they came up with two red. "You can't have her!"
Raising one eyebrow, Harry stepped in front of the young girl. "Shall we take this before Nemir the Hutt?" Harry asked making the toydarian drop to the ground as his wings stopped flapping. "After all. A deal is a deal and a bet is a bet. That is a Hutt saying is it not?"
The toydarian was shaking with rage by the time he finally managed to get back up into the air. "Fine!" He shouted pulling something off of his belt and throwing it at him. "Take your new slave and your droid and don't ever show yourself in my shop again!"
Looking at the device, a controller by the looks of it, Harry motioned for Aela to collect the droid before going over and kneeling before the small girl. "It's alright." Harry said in what he hoped was a soothing tone when she backed away from him slightly. "It's time for you to come to your new home. And I promise you…you will never have to wear that thing around your neck again."
Holding out his hand, Harry held perfectly still as he smiled at the young nautolan. The girl looked back and forth between his outstretched hand, her previous owner and then Ginny and Aela. Deciding to press his luck, Harry reached out with gentle waves of the Force and touched the girl's mind as gently as he could. 'It's okay.' He said in his mind, making the girl's eyes widen in surprise as she heard his voice in her head. 'You can come with us. And once we're back aboard our ship we'll take that thing around your neck off. And I promise you…you'll never have to wear something like that again.'
Finally realizing what was going on, the girl smiled shyly before placing her hand in Harry's.
Holding her hand gently as he could, Harry stood up as Ginny came up and repeated his actions. The girl was far less hesitant this time and took Ginny's hand as well. "You did the right thing Harry." Ginny said as the four of them walked out of the shop with Aela pulling up the rear and carrying the droid still in its case.
"Yeah." Harry said looking down at the smiling girl. "Now I just have to figure out how to tell my mother that instead of coming back with just a droid I came back with the droid, all the credits she gave me and a Force sensitive child."
The interior of Nemir the Hutt's lair, for honestly it could hardly be called anything else, that Rumth had led them to was dark, loud and filled with smoke from at least several different forms of narcotics. And in true Hutt fashion, Nemir himself was lounging on a large dais so he could look down on the three dozen or so occupants while half a dozen barely dressed twi'leks danced around poles lining the outskirts of the room while a twi'lek slave girl sat on the dais with him. But at the moment none of the three dozen occupants or the large Hutt himself were even paying attention to the twi'leks as all of their attention was focused solely on the large metal grate in the center of the room.
Magnetically securing their crates, each of which were just slightly bigger than Harry's school trunk, to the floor Nox and Tonks pushed their way through the crowd so they could stare down through the grate at the spectacle below. Although it was hardly a spectacle. Rather a blood drenched slaughter. Below them a human male and female twi'lek, both of whom were wearing slave collars, were running around the cavern as they desperately tried to avoid the two nexu that were prowling around them. Interestingly enough there was even a fully clothed and armed gamorrean, more than likely a guard that had fallen in the pit, running along with the two unfortunate slaves. But judging by the pools of blood and freshly torn limbs laying around the pit they were not the only ones who'd originally been thrown in.
"Nox." Tonks hissed leaning in close to her. "We can't let this-"
"There's nothing we can do Tonks." Nox hissed back. "Trust me, if I could stop this nonsense I would. But if we try anything we'll expose ourselves and we'll have to fight off every person in this room as well as every hunter within this and every adjoining sector. And besides…it's already too late."
Around them the crowd roared as the human pushed the twi'lek right into the jaws of one of the nexu before running in the opposite direction. The girl managed to get one scream out before the nexu clamped its jaws down and ended her. The gamorrean, temporarily distracted by the cry, let his guard down and the second nexu pounced and tore its throat out. Now the human was left alone against two nexu. He started begging in Huttese for forgiveness, but his cries only made the crowd laugh. Soon enough it ended as one nexu grabbed his leg and the other his chest and working in tandem pulled the man apart.
"That concludes this evening's entertainment!" The Hutt announced from his dais. "Slaves! Start the music up! Dancers get moving lest you become part of tomorrow's entertainment!"
Instantly the crowd dispersed and music started playing once more as a panel slide over the metal grate blocking the view of the nexu enjoying their meal.
"Come." Rumth said urging them forward.
Stepping up with the twi'lek, Nox and Tonks stood side by side before the hulking beast. "Great Nemir." Rumth groveled, bowing low enough so that his forehead was almost touching the floor. "As I promised I have brought to you the ones who brought me the wonderful jewels that you purchased from me jus-"
"I can see them fool." Nemir growled before looking Nox and Tonks up lecherously. "Hmm…they would be fine additions to my collection."
"We are not here to be part of your palace's entertainment regiment Nemir." Nox said sharply. "We are here for trade. Nothing more. Nothing less."
The large Hutt rubbed at his chin before shrugging. "Hmm…very well. Show me what you have and I will decide whether or not we can do business."
Motioning to Tonks, her lover went back and released the magnetic locks on the crates before bringing them forward. Once they were between them and the Hutt Tonks deactivated the hovering mechanisms and opened their lids. The entire hall gasped and Nemir looked mildly taken aback at what was inside. The entirety of the inside of both crates were filled to the brim with gold jewelry all adorned with precious stones.
"Hmm…most interesting. Where did you collect these?"
"You don't honestly expect me to tell you, do you? We don't know each other that well." Nox answered back. "Plus…only a fool reveals the location of their source of such fine antiques."
Nemir growled lowly before nodding towards one of his gamorrean guards. The pig faced creature stepped forward and picked up one piece from each chest at random before running a scanner over them. Once the scan was completed the gamorrean turned back to the Hutt and squealed.
"Hmm…it appears you are as good as your word scavenger." Nemir nodded.
"Bounty hunter actually." Nox corrected making the Hutt's eyes widen.
"Ah, now Nemir understands why you are selling such fine pieces. Bounty hunting has become quite the trade. And to take down the Top-Ten you will need the best weapons and warriors credits can buy."
"Exactly." Nox nodded. "Now where is our payment?"
Nemir just started laughing, along with most of the hall. "Hahaha…you have brought me such fine items…why should I pay you for your gift?"
Narrowing her eyes, Nox pushed the lid down on both chests. "You should pay me because not only can I bring you more of these…but I've loaded both chests with enough explosives to level this palace and the surrounding buildings." Holding up a detonator, Nox activated it. "And I've just activated them with a dead man's switch."
Nearly every person in the room cried out in alarm as many dove for cover while most everyone else in the room drew their weapons and pointed them at Nox and Tonks. Nemir though…he just laughed. "Hahahaha! I like you bounty hunter. I don't know if you have what it takes to hunt Jedi…but I still like you. I will pay you fifty thousand credits. Plus another thirty-five thousand worth of weapons, ammo and fuel. Take it…or join my decorations with a collar around your neck."
Staring at the Hutt, Nox raised her foot and placed it on top of the crate. "I need supplies more than credits. Make it thirty-five thousand credits and fifty thousand credits worth of supplies. All delivered right now. Oh and these crates are seal with a twenty-four-digit access code that I will give you once you've delivered payment."
The Hutt stared at her while rubbing his large gut. "Deal hunter. Guards, retrieve the hunter's payment from my personal stockpile, only the best then return. Slaves! Get dancing and play some music! And the get the hunter's a drink already! Or you'll all be tomorrow night's entertainment!"
Immediately the music started up once more and the dancer's resumed their dances. Taking her foot off of the crate, Nox deactivated the detonator and pulled out the emerald necklace and passed it over to Rumth before motioning for Tonks to follow her. "Let's sit down. This will take a little while."
As soon as they sat down a human slave girl immediately gave each of them a drink that was smoking slightly before quickly moving away. "Is…is the rest of the galaxy like this?" Tonks asked while taking a tentative sniff of her drink. "And what is this?" Tonks looked at the glass curiously.
Shaking her head, Nox picked up her own drink and gave it a sniff as well. "Not all places are like this. The Hutts are crime lords. Always have been since the fall of the Hutt Empire. But despite their dubious nature there are two things that you can count on from a Hutt. And those are that a deal is a deal and a bet is a bet. They might try and swindle you as much as possible, but once the terms are set they will live and die by them. And as for the drinks…well pretend like you're drinking but don't actually drink them. There's a slight sedative and a not so mild pheromone mixed into each. A few sips and you'll more than likely volunteer to be joining those girls up on stage. Not that I would necessarily mind that…but we still have work to do." Nox warned.
Turning her glass idly in her hand, Nox carefully observed the crowded room. Rumth was currently kneeling before Nemir and holding out the emerald necklace. After a brief discussion the twi'lek nearly cried out with relief as he handed the necklace over to the Hutt, who then promptly put it onto the neck of the dancer who was lounging on the dais with him.
While they were sitting waiting for their payment they were accosted by no less than five men of varying species. Not that Nox was interested in any of them of course. Tonks did give a few of them a good second glance, especially when a human man approached wearing little more than a loincloth that did little to hide the fact that he was obviously well-endowed. Of course that same man, obviously noting that Tonks was the more willing of the two of them, pressed his luck a little too much Nox pulled out her blaster and put a bolt in his thigh less than two inches off the mark of permanently rearranging his anatomy. After that little display, which didn't even halt the constant party going on around them, they were mercifully left alone.
After nearly an hour the gamorrean guards that Nemir had sent off returned, dragging in two hoover sleds worth of crates. "Come hunter, inspect your payment." Nemir shouted out over the loud thumping of the music.
Rising, Nox and Tonks made their way over to the sleds and lifted the lid off of one of the crates, which was full of credit chips. Another crate had what appeared to be two military grade shield generators within while the two next to it were filled with fuel cells to take them across the galaxy and back if they wished. Opening another crate, Nox stared found herself staring down at nearly a dozen blaster pistols and rifles as well as enough ammo to arm an entire platoon.
Moving over to the last crate, which nearly as tall as her but barely a few hand widths wide and thick, Nemir finally spoke up. "I give this one to you in good faith hunter. And so that you'll return with more of these treasures in the future."
Opening the case, Nox found herself staring at a sniper rifle that was nearly as tall as she. "It is one of my own personal modifications." Nemir explained with a full belly laugh. "My weapons master modified one of the Clone Troopers powerful DC-15X sniper rifles so that it fires a small slug round instead. A true Jedi killer! Perfect for a bounty hunter like yourself."
Closing the cases back up, Nox went over to the crates of jewelry and deactivated the magnetic seals. "And our deal is completed Nemir and we will be taking our leave." Nox replied back as the gamorrean guards collected the two crates of jewels and took them out of the room.
Nemir waved them off. "Yes yes. Do return hunter. Perhaps next time you will enjoy my hospitality more. That is of course if a Jedi doesn't cut you down first hahahaha!"
Taking control of the two sleds, Nox and Tonks made their way out of the palace and back onto the street. They'd barely managed to get a block away from the palace before Tonks leaned in close to her. "We've got two tailing us."
"I know." Nox replied back keeping her eyes focused on the street ahead of them as the two hovering sleds followed. "First chance we get we'll conceal ourselves and shrink the sleds down so that we can pocket them an-"
Nox nearly missed a step as she felt a disturbance in the Force. Someone nearby was fighting for their life with the Force. And judging by Tonks's wide eyed expression, she'd felt it too.
Ducking into a sparsely populated side street, Nox palmed her wand and cast a quick disillusionment charm on herself, Tonks and the sleds. Then with another quick wave of her wand the sleds shrunk down so that both could be tucked into her pockets. Standing still, Nox waited until she saw their two shadows, a pair of humans, walked past where they were standing. Both looking extremely confused at seemingly losing track of them. "You felt it, didn't you Tonks?" Nox asked quietly.
Tonks nodded. "Yes. Someone close by is using mag – the Force."
Nodding, Nox looked back towards the direction she felt the sensations originating from. Her first instinct was to simply leave the Jedi to their fate. After all…they were dumb enough to get caught in an enclosed area full of bounty hunters. But she knew she couldn't. She made a promise after all. And Ziri Nox never went back on her word. Not as a Sith. And certainly not as the founder of the Guardians. "Transfigure your clothes to look like mine and then change your face and hair to mine."
Tonks looked confused but drew her wand and waved it at herself. Within a few seconds Tonks's pink hair was gone and Nox was left staring at an almost perfect copy of herself. "Now what?"
"Now I want you to head back out into the street and make sure you get the attention of our two shadows. But don't be too obvious about it." Nox said. "Then I want you to lead them away from the ship. And once the opportunity presents itself I want you to deal with them however you deem fit."
Tonks bit her lip, but nodded. "Alright. What are you going to be doing?"
Growling, Nox looked up towards the roof tops. "I'm going to keep the promise I made." She growled out before jumping up onto the roof tops and running as fast as she could towards the Force presence.
Rounding another corner Tonks, still disguised as her lover, pressed her back against the wall and shifted her form so that she now looked like one of the twi'lek girls. With a quick wave of her wand she transfigured her clothes into the outfit that she'd seen most of the women wearing.
'Honestly,' she grumbled as she slid her wand back into its holster. 'These things make even bikinis seem tame by comparison! Although…I wonder what kind of reaction I could get from Ziri if I surprised her with this? Or what if I got her to wear one? Stop! Mind out of the gutter Tonks! Work first. Play later.'
Pressing her back against the alley wall, she watched at the two shadows that'd been tailing them from Nemir's lair showed themselves. She recognized the two men almost immediately. They were two of the many in the crowd that had been laughing and cheering the entire time the people in the pit were being eaten. And they were also the ones that were trading money back and forth between themselves after everyone had died.
Tonks watched the two men looked around confused as they tried and failed to spot her. "Damn it." The man with only one eye cursed. "She couldn't have gotten far."
"Do you really think this is worth it Jayon?" The unscarred man asked while looking around.
"Of course they're worth it Kyl!" The scared one, Jayon hissed back. "The boss sent us after them for good reason. That stuff they sold to Nemir was worth a fortune. They have to know where there's more of it. Not to mention, those two fine women would sell for a small fortune on the slave market."
Nodding, the unscarred one, Kyl, started looking around. "Good points. But I still get to break in the pink haired one. Void…did you see the ass on that girl? Hmm. You can still have the black haired one."
Fighting down the feeling of wanting to throw up at the casual way these two were talking about enslaving and raping her and Nox, Tonks swayed her hips, she stepped out of the shadows waltzed up to the two men and spoke in perfect Huttese. "Looking for something gentlemen? Perhaps I can…help you with whatever problem you have."
The two men turned to her. One of them went mildly bug eyed at her appearance while the other didn't seem to care. "Well…hello beautiful."
"We don't have time Kyl!" Jayon "If we don't find them! We can't go back to the boss and say that we couldn't track her!"
"Oh come on!" Kyl moaned as Tonks raised her arms above her head and did a slow sensual turn. "I haven't had a woman in weeks! And I can't wait for us to catch those two! Just think of this as warm up!"
Jayon looked up and down the alley for a second before sighing. "Alright, she couldn't have gotten far. Be quick and I'll check the main street."
Smiling widely, Kyl stepped up to her and gathered her in his arms as Jayon walked out into the street. "Well babe. Do you have a bed or will right here against the wall work for you?"
"Right here." Tonks answered while drawing her wand and pressing it against his neck.
A silent cutting curse later and the man was grasping at his ruined throat and backing away from her. With a quick banishing charm she sent the man headfirst into the steel wall crushing his skull. She then levitated his corpse and moved him deeper into the alleyway.
Transfiguring her clothes to match the man's, she concentrated on her appearance. A split second later she looked exactly like the newly deceased Kyl. Stepping out of the alley she quickly spotted the other one in the crowd. "Jayon! Over here!"
Jayon stared at her curiously for a second before approaching. "Never knew you to be that fast Kyl."
"Shut up." Tonks hissed pointing back towards where she left the corpse. "I was just about to start when I spotted the black haired one hiding in the alley."
"Why didn't you say so?!" Jayon growled pushing past her and running back into the alley.
As soon as he rounded the corner he stopped dead at the sight of the real Kyl lying dead in the street. Pulling his blaster he turned towards Tonks, but he was far far too late. With a casual flick of her wand she disarmed and silenced the man before cutting off his leg with a cutting curse.
"Just so you know." Tonks growled as she shifted her shape back to her normal shape and pulled out her blaster. "I might be open to sharing Nox…but certainly not with a piece of shit like you." Three shots later and Jayon was dead with two smoking holes in his chest and one in his forehead.
"Damn." Tonks muttered as she holstered her blaster. "That actually felt really, really good."
Following the presence she was feeling, Nox knelt down on top of a roof and watched the alley beneath her. At one end were nearly two dozen bounty hunters that were laying down suppressing fire while slowly trying to advance their position. In the dead end portion of the alley was a lone human female Jedi spinning a blue lightsaber around her person in an effort to block any blaster bolt that came near her. While outside the alleyway, everyone who wasn't a bounty hunter was quickly trying to get as far away as possible leaving the adjoining street, and block for that matter, completely void of people.
As she watched, Nox could tell that the Jedi was injured severely as one of her pant leggings had been darkened considerably by blood that'd been pouring out of a wound on her upper thigh. But despite her injury, the woman kept on fighting and drawing the bounty hunters into the alley. From her position Nox could tell what the woman was hoping to accomplish. She wanted to draw the bounty hunters into an enclosed area before jumping up onto the rooftops so she could have the high ground and a flanking position. Unfortunately for the Jedi…Nox could already tell it wouldn't work.
Eventually the inevitable happened; the woman reached the end of the alley. After blocking away one last bolt the woman made to jump and while she was in midair three blaster bolts came at her. The first two she managed to block, but the third took her right in the shoulder and knocked her back down the ground.
Nox had to hand it to these bounty hunters. They were skilled. Nowhere near the level of the Mandalorians of her time. But still knowledgeable. Before the Jedi managed to recover from her fall the lead bounty hunter, a trandoshan, fired off a stunning round that left the woman a quivering mess but still conscious.
Running towards the downed Jedi, the trandoshan kicked away her lightsaber and leveled his blaster rifle at the woman. "Where are the othersss, Jedi?"
Clutching at her shoulder, the Jedi glared up at the bounty hunter. "You'll never find them Bossk…they're long gone."
The newly named Bossk knelt down next to the woman and crudely pushed the barrel of his blaster rifle into the wound on the woman's leg. "I wonderss if you ssscream loud enough…will theysss come?" Bossk hissed, pressing his rifle further into the wound and making the Jedi grunt and groan in pain. But again, to her credit she didn't scream.
Deciding that she'd seen more than enough, Nox stood up from her crouched position and reached out with the Force. All of the bounty hunters in the alleyway save for the trandoshan all clutched at their throats as Nox raised them all a full meter off the ground. Then with nothing more than a casual twist of her wrist she broke all of their necks before dropping them and stepping off of the rooftop and landing amongst the dead.
Hearing the pain-filled cries of his comrade, Bossk whipped around and took aim at her. The only surprise that he showed at the sudden death of his comrades was the slight widening of his eyes, but he was quick to react and fired three successive shots at Nox.
Just because she was feeling like showing off a bit, Nox moved just enough to dodge the first two blaster bolts before knocking the third away with her bare hand. Both Bossk and the Jedi stared at her with wide eyes for a brief moment before Bossk started to frantically fire at her. All of which she dodged with hardly any effort.
Deciding that she'd had enough, Nox drew her wand and shot a single spell off which hit the trandoshan in the chest and sent him flat against the back wall of the alley. Only he didn't bounce off the wall once he hit it. The spell she hit him with was a particularly 'dark' curse she'd discovered in the Black library. Once the trandoshan hit the wall the steel turned to a version of quicksand that slowly swallowed the trandoshan.
Bossk, realizing the danger he was in, started frantically clawing at the wall trying to escape, but the more he struggled the deeper he sunk in until only his arm was left exposed from the wall. At that point the spell cut off and the wall returned to its normal composition. And the arm that had been left out was sheared off of the rest of the body, leaving a bloody trail down the length of the wall as it fell.
The Jedi began frantically looking back and forth between Nox, the two dozen dead bounty hunters and the wall that'd swallowed the trandoshan. Apparently making up her mind, the Jedi flipped over and reached out desperately for her lightsaber.
"Tsk-tsk Jedi, that isn't very nice." Nox tsk'd while summoning the lightsaber to her outstretched hand. "And after all the trouble I went through to save your life too. Thought you Jedi had better manners than that."
The Jedi started crawling backwards as fast as she could, coming to a stop only when her back hit the wall and giving a small 'eep' as she batted away what remained of the trandoshan. "W-who are you?"
Kneeling down in front of the Jedi, Nox casually used the woman's lightsaber to point at herself. "Now that is a loaded question. Oh for Force sake take it easy Jedi. If I wanted you dead, you would be dead. Now tell me Jedi…have you thought on the words that I spoke to all of you?" The Jedi's eyes widened almost comically as Nox smiled. "I told you all…you've been betrayed by one of your own. I told you all to go into hiding and that one day I would come for you all. And I told you to focus on these words. Passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet em-"
"-emotion. Chaos, yet order." The woman finished looking up at her with awe. "It's…is it really you?"
"You were expecting Santa Claus?" Nox asked before scoffing at the woman's confused face. "Sorry, wrong mythology. Now hold still for a moment."
Setting the woman's lightsaber down, Nox reached down to her belt and pulled out a small clear vial with an eyedropper. "What is that?" The Jedi asked, her fear still very prevalent but at least now out of her voice.
"Essence of dittany." Nox answered before once again rolling her eyes at the woman's confused expression. "Think of it like kolto on steroids." Nox offered as explanation.
Removing the dropper, Nox placed two drops of the magical liquid onto the woman's shoulder wound before moving down and placing two drops onto her leg. Replacing the dropper, the Jedi watched with wide eyes as her skin quite literally knitted itself back together before her very eyes. "How?" The Jedi asked poking, slightly wincing as she did so, at the newly formed skin. "I – that puts kolto to shame! And I – I felt the Force in that…what is that?"
"Like I said, Essence of Dittany." Placing the vial back into her belt, Nox picked up the woman's lightsaber and rose to her feet. "And now we come to it Jedi."
"Come to what?" The Jedi asked, her original fear starting to creep back into her voice.
"Come to your choice." Nox answered. "You can either come with me or you can stay here."
The Jedi bit her lip and Nox could feel the woman trying to sense her with the Force. Deciding on the honey approach, Nox let down her barriers just barely enough for the Jedi to sense her. Once she did, the Jedi's eyes widened once more and she pressed herself harder against the wall. "You – you're a Sith! But…but the Dark Side it – it isn't overpowering like it was with Count Dooku."
"I take this Count Dooku is, or was, a Sith Lord then?" Nox asked and waited for the woman to nod before continuing. "Then you would be correct. I used to once be a Sith. Until I had a…change of heart if you will. Now I am both Sith and Jedi, yet neither." Nox smiled wryly at the expected confusion.
Taking a few steps back, Nox tossed the woman her lightsaber. "If you decide to come with me then I will teach you how to use the Light and the Dark side of the Force in conjunction with each other. As it was always meant to be. But in order to do that, you must abandon the Jedi tenants as you know them and relearn everything. Or, you can decide to stay here and run away from bounty hunters for the rest of your life. However long that may be. Like I said, the choice is yours, but you have to make it now."
Grasping her lightsaber, the Jedi slowly stood up while using the wall as a brace. The two stood in silence as they stared at one another. Finally, the Jedi sighed and clipped her lightsaber onto her belt. "Not really much of a choice. And besides…I've already abandoned some od the tenets of the Jedi Order."
"Good." Nox nodded. "Then this transition will be easy for you."
Her decision made, the Jedi looked down at the severed arm and grimaced. "Was that really necessary?"
"Necessary?" Nox asked. "Probably not. But that trandoshan was more than willing to torture you to get what he wanted. And judging by your eyes, you knew him. Or at least his reputation. So can you honestly stand there and tell me that his fate was not well deserved?"
The Jedi appeared to waver for a moment before shaking her head. "No. I know – knew – this bounty hunter. He more than earned his fate."
"Good." Nox clapped before turning on her heel and marching towards the exit of the alley. "Then let's get moving shall we? I'm sure that we've attracted more than our fair share of attention with this little display. And I really don't feel like fighting every bounty hunter on this rock in order to get away."
Nodding back, the woman took a step towards her then stopped. "Oh no." She breathed before looking around rapidly. "We – we have to get to the spaceport now! There…there are two more with me. I can't, I won't, leave without them."
Stopping, Nox turned back towards the Jedi and sighed. "Let me guess, you were all traveling in a group when these bounty hunters caught wind of you. You got injured in the initial skirmish and then in true Jedi fashion told the others to leave you behind while you drew the bounty hunters off? And can I also assume that you don't know which of the four spaceports your friends went too?"
The Jedi's face reddened more than slightly at Nox's implications. "You don't have to make it sound like a bad thing. But you're right. I don't know which spaceport they went too. But I can sense them if we get close enough and they'll be able to sense me. If we hurry, we should be able to at least check one or two them before they leave. And even if they leave, I know where they're going so we can just meet them at their destination."
Growling slightly, Nox stepped up to the former Jedi. "We're on a delicate time table here and I have no desire to play chase with your friend's half way across the galaxy. So," reaching out she placed a hand on the Jedi's shoulder. "Try not to clench too much. Oh, and make sure you face away from me once we're back on solid ground."
The Jedi opened her mouth to say something but before she could Nox turned and apparated the two of them out of the back alley.
The reaction to Harry's arrival back at the ship was, in hindsight, fairly predictable. His friends all greeted him at first as if nothing was wrong, but when they caught sight of the little girl hanging onto his and Ginny's hands all hell broke loose. Harry was pretty sure that the screech that came from Hermione after he'd informed everyone that the little girl used to be a slave had shaken something loose in the ship. It certainly hadn't done any favors to his ears.
Amazingly enough, the one who actually ended the whole argument was Luna. While Harry was defending his decision their resident seer calmly walked up to the girl, knelt before her and started talking in perfectly fluent Huttese. The little girl immediately latched onto Luna and began speaking incredibly fast. How Luna was able to keep up with the girl with only a week's worth of study in the language Harry had no idea. But he guessed that was why she was a Ravenclaw.
After a brief conversation with the little girl, Luna told everyone that her name was Nat and that she was extremely grateful that Harry had taken her away from the 'winged-man'. After everyone had introduced themselves to the young girl, with Luna acting as a translator, Harry drew his wand and pointed it towards Nat. Before she could react Harry cast an alohomora at the locking mechanism on her slave collar. With an audible click the collar popped open and fell to the floor where it was quickly disintegrated as Harry hit it with an incinerating spell.
Once she was free Nat stared up at him in awe, felt her neck, stared down at the charred remains of the collar on the floor and then jumped at Harry with tears in her eyes and attempted to squeeze the life out of him.
It took nearly ten minutes for Harry and the others to calm the little girl down enough that she loosened her hold around his middle. But she still refused to let go of him completely preferring follow him around the ship and hold onto his hand whenever possible.
Things continued to get even more interesting when Harry, with Nat's help and with Luna translating, managed to get the BB-8 unit out of its crate and activated. The girls all thought it was incredibly cute and showered the little spherical droid with attention. Which, if Harry was any judge, the small little droid soaked up like a sponge.
An hour after his arrival back at the ship, Harry was lounging on the couch within the galley with a completely tuckered out Nat was using his leg as a pillow as she slept. Hearing the airlock open, Harry did his best not to disturb Nat as he tried to see if his mother had returned.
"Wotcher Harry," Tonks greeted him as she marched through the galley. "Your mother had something she wanted to take care of and will be back soon an – and bloody hell! Who is that?" Tonks stopped and stared at the sleeping girl.
"Shh," Harry shushed her as Nat groaned and pressed her head harder into his leg. "She's sleeping."
Tonks' eyes darted back and forth between him and Nat. "I can see that." She whispered. "I'm asking who she is. And how the bloody hell did she got on board?"
"She was a slave in that shop you and my mother sent me to." Harry answered back while gently rubbing the girl's head. "The shop owner was abusing her so I…well I swindled her away from him."
Tonks' hair turned from pink, to red, to white. "You stole her?" Tonks looked on incredulously.
"No." Ginny called out as she stepped into galley. "Harry made a bet with the shop owner. And Harry won. And now she's with us."
Tonks bit her lip. "Alright…it's all well and noble Harry. Saving a little girl I mean. But your mother said that we weren't supposed to draw attention to ourselves. At least not yet."
"It was more than just simple charity Tonks." Harry shot back. "Reach out with your senses and feel her."
Tonks stared at him curiously for a second before closing her eyes. "Holy Merlin." Tonks gasped as her eyes shot back open. "She's magical! I mean Force sensitive. You know what I mean."
"That's why I had to bring her with us Tonks." Harry replied as Ginny sat down near Nat's feet. "You've read the holonet. You know what this Empire is doing to Force sensitives. They simply execute or torture them. I wasn't about to leave her to that fate."
Tonks stared down at the sleeping girl and seemed to wilt. "Alright Harry, you got me. And I'm sure your mother will understand too. After all, the whole reason she's not back yet is because she's off trying to save a Jedi."
"Not one, three."
All three of them jumped slightly, which of course woke Nat up, at the sound of his mother's voice coming from just within the airlock. 'Bloody Merlin's balls! I didn't even hear her come in an – and who are they?' Tonks stopped her train of thought at the sight of new passengers.
Standing with his mother were two fairly powerful humans, one man and one woman. Just as Harry was about to ask who they were then, he noticed a small child in the woman's arms.
"Harry, Ginny, Tonks." His mother began before motioning towards the three newcomers. "This is Kento, Mallie and little Galen Marek. They'll be joining us." Taking a step towards them, his mother's eyes fell on little Nat. Who, to her credit, only ducked her head slightly instead of hiding behind Harry. "Good. You found her then." Nox nodded in approval.
"Wait – what?" Harry blinked looking at the newcomers and trying to comprehend what was going on.
"Hold the broomstick." Tonks said, clearly just as confused as Harry. "You knew about this girl?"
"Of course I did," Nox said, walking towards Harry and Nat. "Why do you think I had Aela bring Harry to that particular shop in the first place? I wanted Harry to collect her."
Turning towards the little girl, his mother started speaking in perfect Huttese. After a brief conversation his mother smiled at the young girl, patted her on the shoulder and stood back up.
"She's your responsibility Harry, Ginny." His mother said walking past them. "Harry, show our new guests where they will be staying while onboard. Tonks, with me. We're leaving this rock now."
And without another word his mother swept out of the room leaving Harry, Ginny, Nat and the three new arrivals standing there awkwardly. "Well…um nice to meet you." Harry said taking a step forward and extending his hand. "Um…Kento and Mallie right?"
The man and woman looked down at his outstretched hand and then at each other. "That's right." The woman, Mallie said taking his offered hand. "Harry right? And you're…Ginny? And the little one is Nat."
Kento stepped up next and shook his hand as well. "You're…you're Force sensitive. All three of you." Kento remarked staring at the three of them before looking around the ship. "And there are others on board too. In fact…this whole ship feels like it's surrounded in the Force. Are you all Nox's Padawans?"
"Um, no." Harry answered rubbing the back of his head. "Myself and two others on board are my mother's apprentices. Ginny here is actually my apprentice, but that is a long story. Actually…everything is a long story. But I'm sure that my mother will explain everything to you later."
"Your mother?" Mallie asked as her eyes widened. "You mean…Nox is your mother?"
"Adoptive mother I guess is the right word." Harry said with a frown. "She…she rescued me after my parents were killed by a Dark Lord. She's been raising me and teaching me the ways of the Force ever since. But like I said, that is all a long story that I'm sure you'll be hearing later. Let me show you where you'll be staying."
Turning on his heel, he took Nat's hand in his own again and led the trio plus Ginny towards the cabins on the ship. "How many of you are on this ship?" Kento asked, still looking around the ship. "There are so many of you…and you're all so powerful that I can't quite distinguish between you."
"Well…you've met my mother and Tonks. Then there's me and Ginny here. Oh and little Nat." Harry said putting an arm around Nat. "Then there's Daphne and Susan. They're both my mother's apprentices as well. Hermione, Ron, Hannah, Astoria and Tracey. They're still learners but we're all around the same age, except Astoria she's the youngest. Then there's Aela and Remus as well. They're helping my mother teach us while we're – ah. Here we are."
Coming to a stop, Harry opened the door leading one of the two empty crew quarters. The room inside was completely barren. "Not to sound ungrateful…but is there a bed for at least my wife and son?" Kento asked.
"Oh, don't worry. We still need to set up the room properly." Ginny announced stepping into the room and opening one of the storage units.
Letting go of Nat's hand, Harry helped Ginny as the two of them pulled out a bundle of cloth and unrolled it onto the floor. Once it was laid out, Harry took out his wand and touched it to the top of the tent. A not so quiet gasp came from behind him as the tent, as soon as he removed his wand from it, pitched itself.
"You…you just used the Force to pitch a tent." Mallie said, staring at the tent that was barely half as tall as her. "With a…stick."
"Wand, actually." Harry smiled, quite enjoying the dumbfounded look on the two elder Jedi's faces and the look of awe on Nat's. Grabbing one of the tent flaps, Harry half entered before turning back to the others. "Well, don't you want to see where you'll be staying for a while?"
Stepping fully into the tent with Ginny, the two waited for the Kento, Mallie and Nat to enter as well. Once they did, it was all either could do not to fall over laughing. Both Kento and Mallie were staring around with wide eyes as if they couldn't believe what they were seeing while Mallie clutched Galen slightly tighter. It wasn't their best tent, but this particular tent created a living area similar to a log cabin complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a fully furnished kitchen area and a sitting area with four couches.
Nat however took one look around, then stepped back outside and then ran back inside. Giving out a squeal of delight, Nat then began running around the interior of the tent and started to examine everything she could touch.
"I – I felt the Force shift when we entered." Mallie stated, obviously confused. "This whole area…it's like we're encased in a cocoon made entirely of the Force. But…but how is the inside so much bigger? Is this a Force mind trick? If it is…I can't break through it.""
"This…this is actual spatial compression." Kento breathed. "Using the Force…but…but this is impossible." He looked around in wonder.
"As my mother is so fond of saying, something is only impossible if you believe it to be so." Harry said proudly.
Walking forward slowly, Kento and Mallie began examining the living space inside the tent. Placing his hand against one of the couches Kento pressed down as if to reassure himself that what he was seeing was actually there. "Incredible. How can you do such things with the Force? And how, or better yet why, have you kept this hidden from the Jedi?" Kento was truly trying to comprehend the scale and power after examining the tent.
Sharing an amused glance with Ginny, Harry opened his mouth to answer but then closed it as he felt something swell in his gut. "Wait…something's not –aah!"
The next thing Harry knew he was screaming his head off as he curled up into a ball and fell to the floor. In his mind he was strapped to some sort of hard table that was slowly leaning him forward. Just beneath him was what looked like a large exposed circuit panel with several spike protruding upwards. He could feel himself trying to avoid the spikes as his body was being lowered towards them. But it was strange…almost like he was a passenger watching and experiencing what was happening but unable to do anything about it.
Slowly the spikes turned red and then sparked. Then there was pain. Each time a spark leapt from the spikes they impacted his body. The pain was excruciating. Worse than anything his mother had ever put him through. He tried his best to keep his mouth shut. But as the sparks quickly increased in not only intensity but in frequency he couldn't help himself and he screamed. A high pitched scream that seemed strange to him.
"Harry! Come back!"
His consciousness fled the pain and he found himself back in his own body. His head was being held on either side by his mother's hands while off in the corner Ginny and Nat were holding onto each other and crying with Remus right behind the two. "Wh – what was that?" Harry asked, his voice raspy. "There w – was so much pain."
"A Force vision." Mallie answered kneeling down next to him. "But I've never seen on so…potent before to affect the receiver so."
"No. It wasn't a Force vision. At least not in the way that you understand them." His mother answer, her thumbs making small soothing circles around his temples. "A Force vision as you understand them, is a vision of something that has yet to happen. What Harry just experienced…was something that is happening at this very moment." Nox said with a grim look on her face.
Harry's eyes widened as the full implications of what his mother said sunk in. "W – we have to find her! We can't leave her to her fate! Not like that!"
"Her?" His mother questioned making Harry blink. How did he know that the person was a she?
Clutching his head tighter, his mother looked him straight in the eye. Harry, knowing what she was doing, lowered his mental barriers and let her in without any resistance. "It looks like your Emperor and his Dark Lord are taking a page straight out of the Sith handbook." She said after a moment. "And now the reason for the double bounty on Jedi taken alive becomes clear. They're torturing any Jedi they can get their hands on in the hope that it will draw others out once they sense the distress of their comrade. And once they do…the trap is sprung and they have two Jedi instead of one."
"We can't leave her mother!" Harry shouted. "We have to go after her!"
Nox bit her lip, but before she could answer a voice floated in from the entrance to the tent. "Harry is right." Looking over his shoulder he saw Luna, looking far paler than normal, walk on unsteady feet into the tent. "She is the last, and best, of the wings. Without her we will all fall together and Harry will fail."
"You're sure of this Luna?" His mother asked.
Nodding, Luna knelt down next to Harry. "She is the last face that I could never see before now. Without her Harry will only have five wings and he won't be able to soar like he needs too."
His mother stared at Luna for moment before cursing and turning back to him. "Harry, I need you to do something that is going to be quite unpleasant. Whoever this Jedi is…for some reason you have a connection with her. That is the only reason why you can sense her distress and the rest of us cannot. If we're to find her I need you too-"
"You need me to make the connection between myself and whoever this Jedi is." Harry nodded already accepting his fate. "Let's do it."
"Good." Nox nodded taking hold of either side of his head once more. "Now just make the connection Harry. No more than that."
Closing his eyes, Harry stretch out his feelings as far as he could, trying to find any trace that would lead him back to the strange woman he sensed before. Before he knew it he was back on the board. The sparks beneath him flying faster than he could follow and every nerve in his body feeling like they were on fire. 'Stay strong!' Harry shouted. 'We're coming!'
Suddenly the pain he felt intensified ten-fold as the screaming in the room died down. 'Wh-o…who are y-you?' A shaky voice asked.
Harry could feel his own physical body, his real body, violently shaking as he tried to fight against the pain coursing through him. 'H – Harry. My name is…my name is Harry. An – and just hold on. We – we're coming f – for you.'
'No! You need to get away! It's a trap!'
'We know…b – but we're c – c – coming anyway. Just…just hang on!'
Harry felt himself being pulled back almost violently as the pain left his body in a rush and the screaming within the darkened room returned. Blinking his eyes, he had just enough time to realize that he was back with his mother, before she slapped him hard across the face.
"That was incredibly stupid Harry!" His mother shouted at him. "You could've killed all three of us!"
"I couldn't let it continue!" Harry shouted back making his mother blink in surprise. It was the first time he'd ever truly yelled back at her. "I – I couldn't let it go on. I had to give her some reassurance. I had to give her hope."
Rising to her feet, his mother stared coldly at him for a second before shaking her head. "We're going to have to do something about this self-sacrificing nobility of yours, son. You do no good to anyone dead." Turning around she motioned for the others in the room to come closer. "Kento, Mallie. Which of you two has the greater knowledge of your former Republic's battlecruisers?"
"That'd be me." Kento said taking a step forward. "Why?"
"Because by the looks of it we're about to assault a dreadnought and Force only knows how many other ships with only a frigate." His mother growled. "Remus I want you to power up the disillusionment runes and the shielding runes on board. We're going to need both if we're going to have a hope in the Void of surviving this."
"What about me?" Harry asked rising to his feet. "You're not leaving me behind."
His mother turned back around towards him. "No…you're not. Go and collect Susan and Daphne. Ginny you too." She added nodding towards his apprentice. "Then I want the four of you to go into my tent and open the chest I have in there marked with your names. Put on what you find and come to the bridge. It seems as if the Force has decided to start your trials a bit earlier than I'd thought."