Disclaimer: It all belongs to Lucas, I make no money off this, etc, etc, etc... I only wish I did cheeky grin

Title: Shadow Contract

Author: JadeMax

Characters: Soontir Fel, Thevan Nuruodo (OC, Shawnkyr's Father)

Time Frame: Sometime during the OT, shortly after the Fel's arrival in Chiss space, and before Thrawn's exile. Heavily AU

Summary: A chance encounter leads to an interesting friendship

Notes: a Prequel to All's Fair – Thevan belongs to Inara.

Shadow Contract


His cover had been blown.

He wasn't certain how, or by whom, all he knew was that his life was now in danger and his only weapon was a half-powered charric. Blue fingers tightened around the stock of the weapon as crimson eyes peered into the shadows surrounding the establishment.

He would have worn his disguise, but the creature, the human he'd been sent to portray had made the wrong deal. He'd unintentionally asked for information regarding a campaign a local warlord had a stake in. He'd made himself a target by showing too much interest.

Now, lightyears from home on an alien world, he was facing the possibility of not returning to the Ascendancy. He was facing the possibility of death. It wasn't displeasing to consider that he may die here. It wasn't dishonorable to die in the service of your family.

It was dishonorable to fail a mission. Especially one that should have been simple. What the intelligence division had failed to do was warn him of the pirate's true involvement in the dealings. The pirates weren't actually involved in a personal way, but their bank accounts were heavily funded with credits for whatever equipment and information they could get their hands on.

The Rebel Alliance was good for business.

And that had cost him his cover. He didn't dwell on it; Chiss looked towards what needed to be done, not past mistakes, though those mistakes would now get him killed. He'd been unable to send his sub-space distress signal due to a malfunction and finally the explosion of his transmitter. He'd been unable to contact the Empire's network due to the high visibility of those ports. He was effectively on his own, with two dead, amateur bounty hunters at his feet, and more sure to be coming.

The half-gone charric blaster cell couldn't be charged due to the nature of the pack and he was without a replacement since the last bounty hunter had damaged it.

So he was alone.

He backed further into the shadows, the covers over his eyes filtering shadows and hiding his naturally luminescent orbs from prying eyes. Eyes that were certainly searching for him. He shifted his grasp again, taking cautious steps around the building towards the rear entrance and possibly a way off planet. Once there, he would be able to tap into the networks and send his distress signal, showing his assignment had been compromised.

One day, he swore silently, I will be the head of intelligence and these mishaps will not happen to my people. They will be properly informed before entering a situation; as it should be.

But that would be impossible if he failed to get off planet.

His soft soled boots made only a whisper of sound as they slid forward on the loose flooring. The back of the cantina was in darkness, a good sign that his contact was perhaps waiting. He scanned the shadows, freezing when his sharp gaze came to rest on the figured, bent over a barrel, a vibro knife sticking up from his back.

He tightened his grip on the charric, scanning the area. There. In the corner, a lump that was not natural. He inched his foot backwards, sliding along the wall and hoping to escape notice. While he had been trained, like many of his people, in hand to hand combat, his strength lay in intrigue and espionage. The fighter in him was several years too rusty for all out confrontation.

The figure in the shadows moved, a webbed object shooting in the spy's direction. The spy ducked, moving to the side and avoiding the net with a move. The net retracted as quick as it had been fired, and the spy dashed from the alleyway into the main street. The sound of running boots behind him sped him to greater speeds, darting into another nearby alleyway entrance just as the bounty hunter stepped from the alley way.

The hunter stopped, scanning the area for his prey.

The spy barely breathed, lifting the charric slowly until the muzzle pointed upwards, towards the sky, his blue fingers shifting fractionally to get a better grip. He was being hunted, but he would be no easy prey.

The hunter turned in the opposite direction, beginning to search the alleyways nearest, and the spy took the opportunity to move away from the area. He kept to the shadows, alien to these people, one that would be well noted due to his skin color.

The spy was Chiss, a higher level operative that had pulled a junior assignment due to his extensive training and the lack of proper Intel. An assignment that should have been a walk in the park. Instead his live was forfeit should he be captured.

The spy was suddenly propelled off his feet, the tight bindings around his arms strapping the charric uselessly against his body. He couldn't move his head as webbing enveloped it. He fell to the ground, twisting his body so to cushion the fall as best he could. He made not a sound as he hit the duracrete.

The rustle and scrape of boot soles against the harsh ground in the alley followed by a rough hand on his back, flipping him over, gave him a clue as to his captor. The fetid breath wafted across his face as the snout pushed close to his face. He recoiled, not wanting to be touched by such a repulsive creature. Spittle trickled across his face, sliding down his jaw as the creature smiled. The spy remained stoic of feature, silent counting the number of baths he would need to be clean. It would take a lifetime.

If he lived beyond this moment.

The creature finally spoke, the badly accented basic hard to make out. "You tough prey, Van." There was no disguising the admiration and respect in its voice. "Pity me have to kill you."

The spy, Van, said nothing, not willing to deign such a creature with speech.

The bounty hunter reached out and cuffed him forcefully, the armor plating on the back of its hand slamming painfully into Van's ribs and loudly cracking several. The hunter leaned in close again, its sour breath again stinging Van's nostrils. "Maybe no pity. Van deserves to die."

Van still didn't speak. He'd been trained to meet death with dignity and silence. No matter how much it hurt.

The creature's hand slammed into him again, this time drawing a hiss from Van as he felt bones break. The creature laughed, repeating the motion, but not drawing the same response as Van bit the inside of his lip, tasting blood. The creature tried again, breaking several more bones before stopping. "Me only need head with glowy eyes. Body is for rats."

Van struggled, trying to move, pain lancing through his frame as shattered bone shifted and pierced skin.

The creature pulled a wicked looking vibro blade from its back, and switched it on. "Hurt little, Jumig good with - urk!" The creature froze, staring at the hole in its chest dumbly before falling over to the side. He lay beside his prisoner, dead, and the tread of heavily soled military issue boots could be heard quickly approaching.

"Thevan Nuruodo."

The familiar accent with its crisp military pronunciation was a sound he hadn't hoped to hear. The words of his rescuer finally registered. "Who?" His voice was harsh, raw from the beating.

There was a sharp chuckle and the bonds were suddenly gone, releasing the broken limbs that were his arms, the charric falling from fingers that held no more substance than jelly. He was turned; the charric caught before hitting the ground, and stared into the familiar face of the only human to ever be allowed in Chiss space.

"I know you, Thevan. Come. We must leave quickly. Before more of your friends arrive."

"I cannot-"

"You can." The Imperial office bent and attempted to assist Thevan to his feet. Thevan felt the broken bones in his chest and arms grinding as he tried to get up. "Do you wish to die here?"

"I do not."

"Then on your feet." The order was snapped, as if Van were an errant cadet.

Not willing to show weakness to this human, Thevan forced himself to his feet. The Imperial was a hair taller than he, a shock of dark, military cut hair topping human-handsome, aristocratic features. The human was dressed in the fatigues of a pilot and carried himself as a warrior. Thevan didn't object, so battered did he feel, when the human assisted him by slinging his undamaged arm around the built shoulders.

The human practically carried him out of the alley.

"Who are you that arrived so timely?" Thevan's voice was hushed, and he mostly whispered to prevent further damage to his already aching throat.

"Soontir Fel. I serve under Grand Admiral Thrawn." Soontir's gaze shifted to the Chiss. "You are in bad shape, my friend. Can you make the speeder?"

"If I must."

"Your damned Chiss pride." Soontir's voice was threaded with distain. "Taking on the one pirate network linked to Booster Terrik, a known Rebel supporter, goes beyond pride. You owe me for this, Thevan."

"Name your price, Fel." Thevan closed his eyes as they arrived at the speeder, allowing himself to be placed in the seat as he heard the beginning sounds of pursuit. "Name your price."

If the Imperial had a price, Thevan didn't hear it as his injuries became too much and shock took over.

Hand of Thrawn Installation

two weeks later

The three sharp raps on the doors on his quarters indicated who his visitor might be. The door slid back revealing Soontir Fel, the newly appointed Baron in the Imperial forces. Despite his new ranking, he still wore his flight suit, ready for combat that was likely to happen at any time. Baron Fel nodded to the Chiss officer. "Thevan."

"Soontir." Thevan didn't move from his place at the table, but had the courtesy to put the report he was doing down. "Can I help you, Baron?"

"Are you healing well?"

"Acceptably. One more treatment and I may return to active duty." Crimson eyes regarded his visitor shrewdly. "You did not come to discuss my state of health."

"I have come to discus a business proposal."

"You have done me a service, Fel, and for that I am grateful. You will understand that I wish nothing to do with your alien family."

"Without my timely intervention you would not have escaped." The gaze he turned on the Chiss was hard, calculating. "You owe me, Thevan. I have come to name my price."

Thevan considered the Imperial officer in front of him carefully before nodding once, curtly. "What do you want, Soontir?"

"A betrothal. My son or daughter to yours. Whenever they are born."

"Chiss have few offspring." Thevan regarded Soontir with grudging respect. "You realize that you cannot control the sex of your own children. Or mine."

"I am aware." Soontir watched the intelligence officer shrewdly. "I am not proposing a formal contract, Thevan. I know you will honor your word. I simply propose that should each have a child of a different sex, we will attempt to integrate them together. Should they prove compatible, we will arrange the union. If neither child is capable, I refuse to force my offspring into a union they would not desire."

"Unlike your union with your wife?"

"Syal knew she was following me into the unknown." Soontir's words were firm. "She is stronger than she looks; she was my choice. If my children pursue their own relationships that is acceptable. Should those relationships fail, and we have a compatible match, I will not hesitate to orchestrate their futures for their own good."

"At what age?"

Soontir's gaze didn't falter. "Chiss may bear young for many years beyond human capabilities. For a human daughter, no more than thirty years. A human son may wait longer."

"And a Chiss daughter?"

"Within several years, no more than five." Soontir clasped his hands behind his back in an at-ease posture. "Assuming our wives can be persuaded to cooperate."

"Every pair is expected to produce offspring. That will not be the issue."

Soontir nodded once and, after considering carefully, extended his hand. "To seal the bargain."

Thevan hesitated noticeably before taking the proffered hand in a brief clasp. "On my honor."

Soontir retrieved his hand, barely restraining himself from wiping it on his pants. The Chiss were respected yes; but they were still aliens. "I will take your leave. Grand Admiral Thrawn has requested an audience. It is not wise to keep him waiting." He clicked his heels together and strode from the room, his shoulders straight and proud, leaving before he could think of the ramifications of what he'd just proposed.

Instead he focused on the gains.

A marriage to a member of the house Nuruodo would solidify his family's presence in Chiss space. It would allow his children to be trained by Chiss, in their way of life, to emulate the Grand Admiral's tactical heritage and grow in an atmosphere of discipline. One he heartily approved of.

As he strode from Thevan's quarters towards the office of the Grand Admiral, he wondered if he'd be alive long enough to call Thevan on their bargain. Syal was carrying their first. If he had his way, he would be a father many times over. The Fel family would join house Nuruodo officially and they would no longer be a curiosity here only by Thrawn's Orders. Their opinions would be heard and count for something. They would be a part of the culture, not simply aliens on the fringe.

The thought was very pleasing.