Hello everyone, and welcome to the last day of our Twelve Days of Star Wars Xmas! I hope everyone has enjoyed these first 12 chapters of this story, and I wish I had more written to post, but unfortunately that is not the case. You reviews like always are most welcome and encourage me to write more, and sometime even bolters my muse. I love the questions and ideas too, as some people point out stuff I knew nothing about or something else interesting that would make a good addition to the story, so thank you to everyone who takes the time to leave something in the review section or sends me a message.
Qui-Gon was in his Delta-6 Sprite-class starfighter, or better known as the Jedi Starfighter, and was just about to drop out of hyperspace over Tatooine. The council had decided he was needed on the planet sooner rather than later after reports of a battle occurring in space had reached the republic just hours after happening. So here he was to investigate. He was to have traveled to Tatooine in a few months with Anakin anyways so it was not too big of an issue, as the boy was due to meet with his parents, as they had agreed. It was quite the odd arrangement with the Jedi, however it had been going swell, as Anakin showed amazing potential in the Force. If a bit headstrong at times.
This mission certainly extended beyond simply checking in on the battle, as the order had been assessing Harry's Occlumency ability he had given them, and were now even more interested than ever before in learning about his Force abilities. He was to be assigned here long term to study, and for some on the council more importantly, to monitor Harry. Quite a few Jedi seemed to feel they had a monopoly on using the Force, something he did not agree with. Though he did respect many on the council for their opinions, even if they disagreed, so he would perform his duty. In fact he agreed with his former master that sending him and Obi-Wan to Naboo after they had already warned the council about the Sith had been reckless and outright negligent towards their safety.
As he dropped out of hyperspace, even before he could disengage his hyperspace ring, he was shocked to see the massive cleanup operation going on over the planet. Not just that, but within seconds he was already being hailed and approached by fighters. Which were clearly part of the quite large fleet of at least 5 cruisers he could see, let alone the huge 'pile' of broken ships and debris. The battle here must have been quite a bit larger than the order had been informed of.
"Delta-6 Starfighter, immediately cease any movement, and identify yourself. Failure to do so will be taken as hostile action, and returned in kind." the slightly mechanical voice said over the comms. Clearly security over the planet had increased dramatically since he last had come. Not even Corellia was as quick to challenge incoming vessels. Deciding to go with the truth he opened his end of the communication channel.
"This is Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, here to visit Hadrian Peverell in Mos Espa." he said, waiting for a response, but was also ready to evade any attack forthcoming. Though he felt none coming in the Force, or any danger really, so he was not worried. Trusting in the Force was one of the first things a Jedi needed to learn.
"Master Jedi, you are clear to approach. Please decouple your hyperspace ring in the zone indicated. It will be guarded till your return. You have been given clearance to land on HPI Landing Pad 3, also as indicated." The same mechanical voice answered him while someone quickly sent his navi computer two locations and flight paths. The fact that they watched over his Hyperspace Ring was a nice little service that Tatooine seemed to now offer. Not something you even find in all or even most core worlds, which really says a lot about how much it has changed here since his last visit.
He moved closer to the planet, but closely looked over the cleanup and salvage operation that was going on. It was quite extensive, and he could see that many ships were already well underway to be broken down and shipped out. He also watched salvage and cargo ships move about and then take off into hyperspace towards wherever this material was going. It was quite impressive and he could see the now typical deep navy blue paint on the salvage ships indicating they were all owned by HPI.
He decupled his Hyperspace Ring where indicated and took his craft into the atmosphere. As he approached his landing site, he was even more shocked at the sight of Mos Espa than the massive fleet graveyard in space. Gone were the primitive sand concrete buildings he was used to, and instead was a well developed city. There were proper streets, sidewalks, air traffic and everything.
The biggest change was probably the spaceport, HPI's huge complex, and the fact that Mos Espa was huge now as compared to before. There had to be at least a few million people living here. Which was shocking to him as there had been only a few hundred thousand only a few years ago. It seemed that HPI's influence on the city was growing faster and faster, and quite a bit quicker than anyone on the Council had expected. He had also been informed that HPI and Jabba the Hutt now had official control over the planet, and it showed.
Traffic was organized, it was clean, he didn't sense much crime near the city, and the overall atmosphere he was getting through the Force was good. Ample people felt good about their future and their potential prospects, dare he say even excited so soon after a battle. He even saw, of all things, a small park with trees and a playground for kids, though there was no grass, or flowers, but there were several trees and bushes. The smallest plant he saw was 30cm tall shrubbery. He could only make this out as it was close to HPI's facility where he was going to land.
As he got closer to the ground and passed into the facility proper he could feel himself entering the Force barrier, or if he remembered correctly the term Harry used was ward. It felt similar to before, but also different. He imagined Harry had added some things to it since his last visit, but that was not what gained his attention, no it was Harry's Force signature. It was far more refined and contained now, but what was most shocking was how clearly more powerful it was than the last time he had seen the man. It was incredible, because Harry was already one of the most powerful Force sensitives he had ever encountered, and that was before the change. It seemed that Harry was still growing in strength or had undergone some incredible transformation since the last time he had seen the man.
The other thing was where before his Force presence was simply reduced, now it seemed to be nicely contained around him. Not hiding, but if you were not looking, you would not notice him unless he was right in front of you. Though he was impossible to miss at this distance when looking, as he was almost like a bright beacon in the force. Landing his ship he saw that beside Harry, Shmi was waiting just off to the side for him as well. Harry was wearing a comfortable grey suit, with a cloak now rather than the green suit the man had always been wearing when he saw him before, and Shmi was wearing a colorful short dress (summer dress). He quickly shut things down, and dismounted his craft with the typical hiss as the canopy decompressed and unlocked.
"Qui-Gon you are early." Harry commented as he approached the couple. It was nice and cool here, which was odd as he could still feel the two suns of Tatooine beating down on him. He knew the effect was part of Harry's wards, which just made him more impressed, all over again. It's one thing to remember or have something explained to you, it was another to experience it again with more knowledge under your belt. The ability to manipulate the Force with such control and intricacies was incredible.
"Yes, well the Jedi High Council wished to gain concrete information on the battle in orbit that we on Coruscant heard about. I was rushed out here, so I am sorry that Anakin, and Obi-Wan will be a few more weeks or a few months more before they arrive." he answered a bit contritely. He knew they would not be happy about Anakin not being with him, and he could feel that coming off of Shmi, however Harry was far harder to read. More so now than ever before.
"Well I didn't expect the Council to allow Ani to come back for a visit early." Harry said as he led Qui-Gon and Shmi into a large building and up an elevator to their private apartments. The private area had definitely changed a bit, and increased in size with the size of the building. He could also sense a few interesting things in the Force around him just like last time, but there were a few more here now. "How was your trip?" Harry asked him as they sat down on a few lounging chairs.
"Uneventful till I arrived. The battle was larger than we had been led to believe." he said leaving the question unasked.
"Yes, it was quite the surprise. I was in the middle of Force practice when it happened. We lost quite a few ships, far worse than over Naboo." Harry answered with a little bit of his anger coming through the Force, which worried Qui-Gon. He then remembered who he was dealing with, and had to remember to stop himself from applying Jedi standards to the clearly powerful and skilled man.
"If you don't mind being asked, who attacked you and for what reason?" he asked the man. Shmi had grabbed Harry's hand and had given it a few squeezes that calmed the man down, and that certainly wasn't missed by him.
"It was a Spicer gang, and a few minor Hutts." Harry said a bit annoyed, before continuing. "They decided that my and Jabba's business arrangements are taking too much money out of their pockets, and into mine and Jabba's." Harry said to Jinn's surprise. He wondered what Harry had to do with Hutts and their mostly illegal enterprises. "It mainly has to do with my Cannabis, but also my stance on slavery, and the impact HPI transports have had on piracy success rates is nothing to sneeze at either." Harry finished, making Qui-Gon think about just what Cannabis is.
He then remembered a few of the younger knights talking about Cannabis being a mild alternative to liquor and a number of other illicit substances. In fact, if he remembered correctly, it was even legal with it having minimal long term side effects for most species. The only thing he hadn't known was this was something that HPI was responsible for or that Jabba was involved with as well.
"I was unaware HPI was responsible for Cannabis." he commented to Harry and Shmi. He had known HPI produced a few different alcohols that were taking over many shelves at various cantinas, however there was quite a bit he didn't know about his friend that he would need to rectify while he was here over the next few years. Sure he would have to leave often, as he followed the will of the Force, however he was to be stationed here most of his time on order from the council. It also didn't hurt that he also wanted to be here, as his search for his former Master had only hit dead ends, and his one discussion with the man in the last year had not helped.
"We at HPI do so many things my Jedi friend that I honestly don't even know all of them, or at least that is what I assume." Harry said with Shmi nodding her head clearly in the know about a few items HPI sold that Harry was unaware of. "Cannabis was something from my home planet that had been used by many different cultures, often for spiritual purposes or relaxation, but more prominently as a recreational drug." Harry explained, having piqued his interest. The fact that Cannabis came from Harry's homeworld was quite an important little bit of information. You could learn a lot about a planet from what could grow there.
"How was it used for meditation and spiritual aid?" he asked, interested in seeing if it would be useful for some Jedi who struggle with meditation. His question brought a big smile to Harry's face however.
"It calms the mind, and opens it up to new ideas far better than when one is sober." Harry explained. "Like in all things, moderation is good. However something I do not sell is a breed of the plant that my people would call magical, but you Jedi would call it a Force Imbued plant. It allows for easier meditation in the Force, and I am sure we can try it sometime in the future if you want?" Harry asked him, increasing his interest even further. Force plants were rare, and quite valuable to the Jedi order. One that made connecting to the Force easier would be even more so. It was something he would have to thoroughly check out and report back to the council before he left.
"I would be quite interested in trying. Now as to the matter of accommodation, I was hoping you would be able to help me in finding somewhere I can rent for the long term?" he asked the couple in front of him. Harry was about to answer when Shmi took over.
"You will stay here in one of our spare rooms. I won't have an important guest, and Anakin's Master staying in a cheap apartment." Shmi said adamantly, and it was clear that Harry had already bowed to her wishes in this matter, as he was looking to him for his answer.
"I am honored you would offer part of your home for me to use." he said to them. It would also make his job of observing and learning about Harry that much easier.
"Oh speaking of the Force, how has the Jedi come along with the ability I gave them?" Harry asked him obviously interested in the answer.
"It has been studied by a few in the archives, and even a small group of Knights are now practicing with it to see its viability. They have reported no issues with learning it so far, and have shown promising results." he answered happily. The ability had intrigued quite a few, and some thought it may ensure even more emotionally centered Jedi in the future. It also did not hurt that Anakin has reported it helps him immensely, alongside Jedi learning techniques, to learn and keep anything he picks up at the ready for easy access in his mind. "I have even started incorporating some of it that Anakin has shared with me. I find it helps in becoming one with the Force and listening to what it is trying to impart." he said honestly to the Force master in front of him.
"I have another surprise gift for the Council. This time it is something that I made for them. However this one comes at the price of a future favor. The Jedi Council can turn it down once they see it if they don't want to trade a favor." Harry said excitedly all of a sudden. "Honesty the Jedi Temple is like the air freshener over the asshole that is Coruscant, and I hope my new addition would make it that much better at its job." Harry said, causing him to almost spit out his tea at the remark and Shmi giving Harry a light smack on the head. He had never heard of someone describe the Jedi Temple quite like that before, nor Coruscant. He could just imagine the scandalized looks of many Jedi to learn their scared temple described as such.
"I can not speak for the council, but I am fairly sure they will enjoy your gift. However I will have to get back to you on the exchange." he said honestly. If this 'gift' was anything like the last one, those that work in acquisition and archives will be going crazy again. "Though I am not sure if most of those within the temple would appreciate your description of their home." he said somewhat jokingly to the man in front of him.
"I will give it to Obi-Wan to take back with Anakin when they come to visit. I have made it so that it should only be opened in front of the council or in the temple for the best effect." Harry said with a smile. "Is there anything you need while here or are you alright?"
"I should be fine, I just need somewhere to exchange my Republic Credits." he said trying to wrack his brain for any other things he may need. Jedi were fairly wedded to the idea of austerity so there was not much he needed during his daily life.
"That should not be a problem, you can do that at the store downstairs, but many establishments now accept Credits here in Mos Espa." Harry told him, giving him another stark example how things had been changing out here over the last two years.
"Well we shall let you get settled. If you need anything just ask a PAM droid." Shmi said while getting up and smiling at him. "If you would follow me Master Jedi, I will show you to your room." she said as she walked away after he gave her a nod.
"Don't be afraid to bug me, I am usually just in my workshop." Harry yelled to him as he was departing. It was certainly something he would take the other man up on. At least after he has taken a look around town, and reported anything he needed to the Jedi High Council. He also needed a bit more information on the battle, maybe the droid designated PA would be able to help with that. With that last thought he followed Shmi into a large well furnished room.
"This will be yours for the duration of your stay." Shmi said with a smile showing him the room. It was tastefully decorated, far nicer than what a Jedi would normally have. There was even an attached bathing area, and a small private reading alcove. It was quite a bit more than he expected, but certainly not unwelcome. "I hope it will work?" Shmi asked with a smile.
"It is wonderful, and I do not believe I will have need for anything more." he answered her honestly, giving her a small head bow in thanks. Shmi left only giving him a smile and wave. He looked around and put his small pack down beside the bed. There was so much to do, but first he will send a message to the Council on what he learnt. Moving over to the console available by the seating area he checked to make sure it had a holoconnection. Opening up the correct secured channel he didn't need to wait long.
"Master Qui-Gon. A report, you have?" Yoda's hologram showed up on his end.
"Yes Master. The battle was larger than we expected, I believe there to be at least 300 hundred smaller ships involved, including a half dozen cruisers." He explained to the old Jedi Master and the rest of the council that may be there listening in. "There was minimal damage to the planet, however HPI did take significant ship losses protecting it." he said honestly, as many of those in the 'pile' of scrap in space were painted in HPI's deep blue.
"Have you learnt who is responsible?" Master Mace Windu asked, appearing in the hologram.
"Yes, apparently it was three minor crime boss Hutts and a single large spicer gang." he responded. "From what Hadrian appears to have learnt, it seems that they were upset over him and Jabba the Hutt eating into their profits with his products. Apparently the plant called Cannabis has been selling extremely well putting the squeeze on a few spicer gangs and their ilegal products." he told the council, clearly having lost some of them as they were not that interested in economic related things, unless they had much larger obvious impacts.
"Hmm, much to learn there still is." Master Yoda commented in his slow voice.
"I have heard of this plant, it is smoked, and even some Knights use it to relax." commented Plo Koon voice.
"Yes, Hadrian mentioned that it has been used by his people for meditation and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. He also mentioned that there is a Force imbued variant which allows for easier access to the Force through meditation. I thought to try and get some to send back to the Temple." he said as he remembered what he had just talked to Harry about earlier. After that he continued to answer questions, but quickly signed off as he felt he needed to do some meditation before retiring for the evening. He was tired after his long trip out to Tatooine, and there was much to do on the morrow.
Qui-Gon Jinn spent the next two days getting settled on Tatooine, and gave his hosts some space. His rooms were far larger than he was used to, and offered many comforts he didn't expect, like a water shower, rather than a sonic. It even had a large bath with a small booklet describing instructions on how to activate the various massaging jets, and how to adjust the water temperature from near freezing cold to scalding hot.
Other than that, what stood out most to him about living in Harry's and Shmi's home, was the servants they had. He had met this peculiar Force sensitive race that formed symbiosis with Harry's people last time he was here, but not long enough to truly observe them. They truly surprised him with their ability to cook so many delicious dishes, and perform almost thoughtless control of many things around them with Force manipulation while doing said cooking. They also seemed to always be on hand, or knew when he needed something, as they always showed up quickly. He could see why Harry valued them so much as members of his household. Though it was hard for him to get used to having someone clean his room everyday, he made a habit of thanking any Elf he meets on principle not knowing which was responsible. Which made them smile and give off a happy feeling in the force.
The other thing was the almost casual use of the Force by Harry and the Elves. They used it for everything, including cooking, and cleaning themselves, or the area they had just finished in. Which was quite the novel use of the Force if he could say so, and something that would scandalize a few of the more devout Force users in the Jedi temple. He felt it would best for his own sanity if he excluded that from any of his reports for now.
On the first day he had taken the elevator down to the first floor of the building he was in. It housed one of Harry's shops, and as he walked through it he could see hundreds of customers buying all sorts of things he had never seen before. There was even a large section dedicated to food and snacks of all things. He did not know Harry was in the Agri industry on top of all the other things he did, but apparently he had his fingers in many pies. There seemed to be more about his friend that he didn't know, than he did.
As he was walking up to one of the reception desks that said 'Currency Exchanges' overhead in a big bold sign, a floating droid approached him. It was one of the PAM series droids, or at least that is what he believed Harry called them. It was quite sophisticated looking, and he had seen a few of them even back on Coruscant, as they were becoming popular with all sorts of people, as they kept one's schedule very well.
Most fascinating to him is that he could almost feel a presence coming from this one which was explained as the distinctive womanly voice of PA came out of it. He had felt this odd Force presence from that droid since the day he first met her, and Harry explained he used the Force in her creation so it made some sense. To a small degree. The fact that he could now feel her presence from one of the PAM droids she was controlling was certainly even more interesting to him than her having said presence in the first place.
"Master Jedi, if you would follow me. Harry has left you a small pouch with some of the local currency so you can see the city on him for at least a few days." PA said floating them over the desk with 'Manager' above it where apparently this PAM droid stayed most of the time. On the tall square desk just to the side, was a beautiful pouch made from some sort of brown leather. It also hummed in the force like so many things he had seen around here. "This is it here." PA pointed with one of her actuating arms that came out of her body to the medium sized pouch.
"It is beautiful." he said as he carefully picked it up and inspected the nice gold inlay that surprisingly said Qui-Gon Jinn in basic on one side, and Jedi Master on the other. That may be a bit of an issue if he needs to be undercover, but he shouldn't need to be undercover here on Tatooine any longer. However, he could not quite figure out what the Force imbued into the pouch did, besides that it was not harmful. "Do you know what the pouch does?" he asked PA.
"I have been told that you need to drop a single drop of blood on it to bind it to yourself. Once done it will not be able to be stolen from you, or be noticed without you wishing it to be. It also has the inherent ability to reduce the weight of its contents to what you feel now." PA told him, shocking him to his core. From beginning to end he had no idea how one would imbue any of those effects on an object with the Force, the only one he had even heard of in passing was making an object harder to notice. He was also a bit wary of using blood with the Force as that is often seen as the dark side usage, but the pouch was just big enough to fit his lightsaber in so it could be quite useful. "Simply press your thumb to the small brooch that holds the two strings together, and it will take a single drop." the droid said to him explaining how it worked.
Deciding to trust his friend, he moved to do so, but kept a very close watch through his Force senses on what was happening. As he pushed his thumb against the tiny broach that held the string that could be used to pull close the opening, he felt a small sting. Pulling his hand back he inspected his thumb to see almost a tiny bug bite like red spot that slowly vanished before his eyes. Still he was more observing the bag, and was surprised to feel it make a slight bond with him, nearly entirely one way, with him in control.
Other than that nothing about the process at all screamed either dark or light side to him, and was almost like a simple expression of raw Force. It was quite interesting to see at work, and only reinforced Harry's claims of mostly using neither the dark or lightside, but a constant mix of the two. Though the man had readily admitted some of his abilities swayed far closer to one side of the force rather than this neutral mix he often used.
"Oh I almost forgot! If you put the pouch somewhere, no one can move it, and if you put it on your side it will stay there without needing something to attach it to your hip." PA said with a laugh, as he was looking where to put the clearly valuable pouch. "There are 100 Peggats, 100 Trugets, and 100 Wupiupi in there. One Peggat is worth 4 Trugets, or 64 Wupiupi, so don't get ripped off." PA said in an almost scolding motherly manner. It was not something he had experienced in quite some time ever since he had left his Youngling group.
"Thank you, if Harry or Shmi should inquire, please inform them I have gone out for the day to experience the city." he told the droid with a small bow before departing. As he walked out he saw many interesting goods for sale like these small green oblong vegetables that were in some kind of liquid in a large clear glass jar. They seemed popular as he saw two customers already holding a jar while in line for 'Sales'. Something he may have to try.
Walking outside was a surprise as the entrance way had grown in size in the last two years, and had clearly gotten nicer. He even saw a couple sitting at a bench off to the side enjoying some kind of meal together, he was guessing it was breakfast due to the hour it was. The walkway was also extremely clean and a nice area to be in. However there were also more HPI droids off to the sides, and now that he looked closer he realized he had never seen these models before.
They must be something of HPI's own design, as they looked like robust battle droids, but didn't seem to be carrying any blasters like the Trade Federations B1s. He did still see a few of GU-Series droids around just like last time as well, but they were far fewer in numbers compared to these unidentified droids of HPI's. He saw two far larger examples of the droids standing guard on each side of the gate exiting the HPI's shopping compound and out onto the street. However, no one else seemed to be giving them a second glance so he ignored them as well, as they were simply standing there doing nothing. One of them even greeted someone who said hello while walking in.
Before where the city of Mos Espa had sand road ways, it now had clearly manufactured roads, and there was little to no sand in sight. In fact he even saw a droid in the typical HPI blue walking around sweeping in the area, with additional droids patrolling around. Some of them were GU-Series but most were the new series of droids he had just encountered. Walking out he could immediately feel the difference when he left the 'warded' field. The temperature increased noticeably, and the sure raw concentration of the Force had decreased substantially as well.
Though he could almost feel the waves of the Force coming off of Harry's compound and flowing out into the city, increasing the overall Force level of Tatooine. He paused to see if he could feel if there was any effect to this 'wave' of Force, but quickly realized it was simply a bit of the Force Energy from within leaking out into the surrounding city. It would be quite interesting to see what the effect this would have, he had some ideas, but would have to check the archives first to see if any studies had been done on the topic.
It was quite clear to see that it was not just the area surrounding HPI's HQ here on Tatooine that had undergone tremendous change. Gone were almost all of the primitive buildings and replacing them was a bustling city with tons of small and large shops. There were flashy electrified signs and even more of those stalls like out front of HPI's HQ advertising the 'Best Invention of Avalon! Donairs!', where there was almost certainly always a line present. He could smell the food people were waiting for and it did smell good, so another thing for him to try during his stay.
While he was doing that he noticed that there were a lot more Twi'leks around than the last time he was here. A noticeable amount more, they now seemed to be one of the largest groups of a single species he could see, if not outright the largest. Across the street from the 'Donair' stand was a good looking Twi'lek standing between two GU-Series droids acting as a bouncer for the establishment she clearly worked for. Getting the idea that asking a local may answer a few of his questions, and feeling nothing amiss in the Force he approached the good looking woman.
"Maam if I may ask for a few moments of your time, I am new here and just wanted to ask a few questions." he asked while approaching the woman, trying not to intimidate her. Not that he was going to, but better to be safe here when she had two droids beside her with blasters. She looked at one of the droids that looked him over before turning the Twi'lek and speaking.
"This is Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. He is in the notable persons database." The GU-Series said to the Twi'lek surprising them both, as Qui-Gon had no idea why the droid would have that information. This droid was in the typical HPI blue, and even had HPI smack dab on his chest, however this place did not look like an HPI establishment, and this young woman didn't dress like an HPI employee. "He has level three command privileges." the droid finished before returning to normal. The last statement caused the Twi'lek to whistle and look him over more closely, it only made him more confused.
"Well you are the first Jedi I have met, and to have Command Privileges of level Three you must be close to Lord Peverell." the woman said happily to him, indicating for him to take a seat on the bench beside the door, as she sat on her stool that was nearby to the door.
"If you don't mind me asking what is command privilege three, and if I could have your name seeing's you have mine?." he asked the woman, preferring to have something to call her by. His question seemed to surprise her, as he could even feel it through the Force.
"Well Master Jedi you can call me Aijis. As to your other question, command privilege is your privilege level to command HPI droids." Aijis said to him, getting into the explanation. "For example as a renter of HPI droids I have a command privilege of 5. Which allows me to command any HPI droids I have rented. However if someone has a level 4, which are mostly official HPI employees, they can commandeer rented droids in an emergency situation. It is quite complicated but very fair to renters in compensating them if that happens. However I have never met someone with a level 3, let alone someone not an HPI employee. You're not an HPI employee right?" she asked at the end her entire thought stream clearly having taken a 180.
"No I am not. I was unaware of my command privilege. Do you know what level 3 means?" he asked her calmly as he looked at the passing people in the busy intersection fifteen feet from where they were sitting in the shade, at the front door of whatever this business is.
"I am not sure, but I imagine you could order the droids around with a lot more freedom than a HPI employee with level 4." she said while clearly thinking about it. "Question back at you, are the rumors true that Lord Peverell is a rogue Jedi?" she asked all of a sudden super interested. He quickly thought about it and saw no harm in answering honestly, as it did not seem Harry was hiding his Force abilities from the general populace. It would also not be good for those around here to believe that Harry represented the order.
"No, he is not." he said to Aijis, and saw her disappointment. "However he is an extremely powerful Force user." he said honestly to the woman as her eyes got big and round in excitement again. "If you wish to spread that around, I do not believe Hadrian would mind, as it would not be good for people to think he represented the Order in any way." he told the woman basically giving her permission to spread that information. "Now to one of my questions I had when approaching, I have noticed a far larger number of Twi'leks like yourself here since my last visit, do you know the reason?" he asked.
"Yea it's fairly simple, HPI offers safe passage from Ryloth for any Twi'lek to travel to Tatooine for free. This means many under 'employment' aka slave contracts simply walk away from their slavery to find a new life here on Tatooine. Others simply wish to come and try for a better life. As rumours spread that life here on Tatooine was pretty good, more and more still come each day." Aijis was clearly happy about the situation.
"So all these Twi'leks here are free, and not in bondage?" Qui-Gon asked quite surprised that a planet run at least partially in partnership with a Hutt would be like this. Even with Harry's influence.
"Yes, most of them. While there are a few slaves around, they are rare to find nowadays. For example, all of the dancers inside here are paid workers, and many enjoy their profession even more now." Aijis said bringing Qui-Gon's attention to the sign above the doors which clearly stated that this was a cantina that showcased nude dancers. It was only his control that prevented a blush coming onto his face as he realized where he had approached for information. However it was the GU-series that interrupted those thoughts.
"Unregistered slaves are illegal to possess here on Tatooine outside the spaceports." the droid said to him. "Possession of such a slave will see them being confiscated and their owners fined. If you see any such occurrence, please inform any nearby HPI droid, or employee immediately." the GU droid said before going back to observing the road. Aijis simply indicated over her shoulder with hand and her thumb pointing at the droid behind her.
"What he said, HPI has cracked down on slavery here on Tatooine, especially since the attack. Mostly under the guise of security concerns, but most of us had heard the rumour Hadrian was once a slave, and hates the practice. Jabba likes Hadrian far too much, so has been reducing the practice here on Tatooine for years now. This is only the latest in a long line of small steps over the years." she said nonchalantly, as if everyone knew what she was saying was common knowledge. While he knew some, quite a bit of it was a surprise to him.
"Fascinating, and these new droids I have never seen before." he said pointing to a group of four that were patrolling down the street calmly.
"Oh, those are the new HPI models of droid, HB-1s, to replace the GU-Series here. They have started appearing over the last six months. I heard they aren't for sale, as many wanted to get a few after their first few altercations with morons and their blasters." Aijis said with a big smile on her face. "Though there are still thousands of GU droids still working directly for HPI, and thousands more rented ultra cheaply to a business just like this one." she finished saying, piqued his interest once again, which made him smile. So many Jedi can forget what an honest conversation with a local could get you in terms of information, and even at times a new lesson to learn.
"'Ultra cheaply'?" he asked, quite interested to see how Harry was pulling off changing a lawless planet into a place where he felt less violent crime than he did on Coruscant through the Force.
"Yea besides being possibly fined for deliberate damage to a rented droid, all maintenance, operating costs, and repairs are covered by HPI. They also charge only a small amount above operating costs for the droids in rent, meaning we can get a few to protect our business without affecting our bottom line too much. One of the drawbacks is like I said before, they may be commandeered temporarily, or if they see a crime in front of them one of them will go to stop it and arrest the perpetrators." she said obviously not at all upset about the arrangement.
"I see, do many businesses have them?" he asked, enjoying the conversation, as it was pleasant. Aijis did periodically nod to the odd gentleman or lady that walked into the 'cantina'.
"Yes, many do. There are limits to how many you can rent, and criteria one must meet first before they can rent one, but it's not too hard to pass." she said in her happy but stern attitude before continuing. "That's the beautiful part, even if one GU here needs to go off and stop a crime, a number from other businesses in the area will come quickly to assist, or if someone is trying to perform a crime here, the same will happen if the droids on site can't handle the issue." she said even more happily.
He sat there and thought about the system a bit, and it seemed that somehow HPI had managed to install an effective system to enforce their laws rapidly and effectively. It also seemed they somehow managed to get others to pay for it at least in part, and make them happy to do so too. He had to admit the system seemed to work well, and he could see how if it was spread out well enough it could offer ample coverage for 'law enforcement' city wide. Combined with the clearly more armed patrols of these new HB-1s that he saw, and whatever those larger ones were called.
"Oh, I nearly forgot, I meant to ask what is Avalon?" he said indicating the cart selling Donairs across the street claiming to be 'the best invention from Avalon'.
"Oh Avalon is where Hadrian is said to be from. Most of the independent Donair sellers like to make that claim, and not many would argue with them. Many people here all share a love for a good Donair, so don't go around insulting them, I have seen more than one person get a beating for doing so. Jedi or not." she said seriously to him. "Honestly it is really good of HPI to sell donair ingredients to independent sellers cheap enough that they can make a decent living running a stall."
Qui-Gon could see Harry's impact everywhere around him, and it was not that much of a surprise to him, as most Force sensitives usually had an impact on the place they stayed. He would have to observe more, but his next report to the council will mostly include positive things, as he had not observed anything that would warrant Harry an extra level of scrutiny from the council. Well maybe except the clearly new and well designed battle droids.
After his nice discussion he continued to explore around the city, enjoying the walk far more than last time. One other major thing that stood out to him and was something that could not be missed no matter where you looked, was all the construction. There were new shops, buildings, and more prominently large apartment buildings that were being built all over the place. It was quite the bustling city.
On his walk he could make out over two dozen large towering buildings going up. The progress on them was quick as he saw many droids, and organics all involved in the large construction operations. It was clear that things were booming here, and there were jobs everywhere. He could even feel it in the Force, it was almost like this place was alive with all the activity going on, and Harry's compound's continual waves of Force Energy saturating and seemingly energizing this area did not hurt either.
It didn't take him long to find out once he returned to the compound, that the reason behind all the construction was that Tatooine was seeing a massive influx of people arriving. He was told by PA that it was a few thousand on a slow day, and that both Harry and Jabba have been scrambling to handle so many new people. Though it was clear PA was happy about it as she went on about all the extra profits and projects that could now be done with extra employees.
He had not seen Harry much since arriving except for a bit each evening and during some meals, so two days after he arrived he found himself searching for the man. PA through one of the PAM droids gave direction to him to help find Harry's workshop out back. It was there where he walked in to find his fellow Force sensitive covered in grease and other fluids as Harry was working under what he would describe as some type of prototype Hyperdrive. Not that he was an expert, so it could be something else.
However, it was quite interesting to see Harry in this element, as he was told Harry spends a lot of his time here in his workshop working on things. Looking around he could see it, with a ton of projects on the go, and many small personal touches around the massive hangar sized workshop. It was quite large, but if the large hangar door was anything to go by, it was because some large vehicles were tinkered with in here.
"Harry." he said to the man who seemed to be the zone, as many small pieces were floating around him, and into his hands when he needed them. Harry looked up and quickly went back to finishing what he was working on, indicating to Qui-Gon to give him a few moments.
"So Qui-Gon got yourself settled?" Harry asked him as he got up off the floor, before waving his hand over himself. Qui-Gon could feel the quick flash of the Force, as Harry used the Force to clean himself off. It was similar to what he had seen the Elves do, but still different.
"Yes, there is quite a bit to see in the city now." he commented to the man before broaching the topic he and the High Council wanted him too. "I wished to inquire how your studies of the Force have come, especially pertaining to your new lightsaber you got off of the Sith?" he asked of the man who had an even brighter smile break out on his face. "Some on the High Council still complain about that." he said with a bit of a chuckle and got another smile in return.
"You have no idea how far those particular skills have come since Naboo." Harry said alluding most likely to his spectacularly bad demonstration of trying to deflect blaster shots back on Naboo when he first got the saber. Keyword being try. However his confidence in his newfound skills piqued Qui-Gon's interests. "Let us move to my training room and we can have a friendly spar." Harry said while raising his eyebrow in challenge.
"That sounds splendid. I was worried that my skills may get rusty without a proper person to train with during my stay here, even with the instructions you wanted." he replied as they walked from the workshop.
"How long were you planning to stay then?" Harry asked him casually as they walked down a few hallways and even an elevator. Which meant this space to train in was most likely unground a bit. That made sense on Tatooine as large above ground space can be expensive to cool, not that he felt Harry would have these problems.
"It is undetermined at this time, but I wish to learn more about you, your people, and the way you use the Force. It's quite fascinating, and we both know the council wants me to keep tabs on you as well." he said with a bit of a smile and laugh in his voice, as he got a snort out of Harry. He was fairly certain honesty was the best way to move forwards with Harry.
It didn't take them long to find themselves in front of a large door where Harry put his hand on a square access panel to the side of the door. Just a second after Harry had done so it lit up green and the door rapidly slid open to show them the training room. It was quite big, even bigger than most training rooms he was used to back in the temple. It was nearly 100m across and had dozens of different obstacles in one area ready to be set up, as well as what looked like a number of droids for various purposes. He imagined they helped Harry hone his skills by either firing at him, or acting as combat opponents, but he still doubted how much that would help in learning to use a lightsaber properly.
"So how do you Jedi normally do these types of spars?" Harry asked him after they had made their way into the center of the room.
"Well usually we set the ground rules for the battles, like how we will be battling and to what." he answered his opponent while starting to study him more intently.
"I assume you limit Force use during lightsaber duels?" Harry asked, to which he nodded in confirmation. "Well then I suggest we limit our duel to our sabers, as I do not think it will be a fair fight otherwise." Harry said with a smirk and in a bit of a goading voice. He was thankfully old enough to not allow himself to be goaded into anything, and admit when he is outclassed by another in a certain aspect.
"That is probably the best course of action." he said while getting serious now. "No use of the Force offensively if we are agreed then?" he asked, summoning his blade from his side to his hand with a little use of the force.
"I can certainly agree with that." Harry said with a smile before getting serious and somehow summoning his lightsaber hilts to his hand without Qui-Gon being able to see their movement. He was not sure how Harry had managed that, but that was not what had most of his attention. No, that was the fact that at the moment the two, clearly new, blades were in Harry's hands his entire demeanor and presence in the force changed. It was now like he was standing before a mountain that was ready to crush him under its giant weight and size, and that was all before Harry had even ignited his blades. He certainly knew what Harry meant when he had said he had significantly improved, as simply the way he held himself now spoke volumes about experience and practice the man had undertaken since he last saw him.
"I can see you have been practicing." he said understating things, while starting to take this far more serious, as he had honestly expected to win a lightsaber duel against his less experienced opponent easily. He truly should not have underestimated Harry, especially when his own Padawan had so much confidence in the man. It is always good to learn a lesson when practicing, rather than when it will matter the most.
"Yes, after I got my new blades, it had become a relaxing activity for me to practice with them after my days work." Harry said, causing a small amount of surprise in Qui-Gon, as not many could find such relaxation in saber practice. "To first strike?" Harry asked.
"Yes, but please ensure your blades are in training mode." he said just in case while igniting his green blade, looking towards Harry to see what color his blades were. When the man ignited the blades, he was not sure if he should be shocked or impressed with Harry's blades. The deep emerald green accented the man's eyes that almost looked to be glowing as he prepared for battle, whereas the dark purple was quite pretty, but almost had a sinister side to it. Almost, but not quite, as it was clear to see like in everything else, Harry was quite unique when it came to his lightsabers. It was certainly something he will have to mention to the council, but it should not matter much.
"Shall we begin?" Harry asked, to which he nodded his confirmation. It took no more than a few moments before he was defending from multiple strikes as Harry attacked him in an unrelenting wave. The strikes came at him quickly and from many sides almost at the same time. It was all he could do to keep Harry's blades away from his body, as he could not figure out the rhythm or style of his opponent. It made it quite hard to defend from, and even his own style that gave his strikes and defense more power, could barely hold back the monstrous strength behind Harry's strikes. The man was the embodiment of speed and strength.
The dark green and purple blades swung at him repeatedly as he kept giving ground trying to find a hole or mistake in Harry's blade or footwork. His force precognition was the only thing letting him stop his opponents blades at all, it was like fighting his former master if he was using two sabers as well as he could his single one. Harry's force presence alone without any prompting from the man seemed to be engulfing his own and domineering the room.
It was all over in a fraction of a second and happened when he went to defend from a strike on the left, when Harry quickly moved right pulling his strike with him while also stabbing out with his right blade hitting him in the shoulder causing it to seize up in pain.
They both separated after that, where he started catching his breath and massaging his shoulder, when he looked up to see Harry wrangling in his Force presence back in, but otherwise did not seem adversely affected by their duel. It was certainly scary how powerful the man had become with his blades in the short time he had been using them, and it was not lost on him that he had spent the entire duel on the defensive, and neither had Harry been using his multitude of Force powers. This was certainly something he would need to reassess, but it was undoubtedly incredible practice and workout for his old body.
"Again?" he asked with a smile, getting one in return.
Well here we are folks the last chapter for this story for some time as I work on writing some more for my other stories and this one. Hopefully I will get some chapters out before next Christmas! HAHAHA. Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays. May the Force be with you!