The Elder nodded, "Aye, the male I would assume saw to that before he succumbed to his injuries. They did well, their attacker was able to hide himself in the Force more thoroughly than I have seen outside the Fallanassi. It would bode ill if any of them had given up their secrets to the Sith."
Neither woman needed to be told how bad it would be if the Sith could cloak themselves as well as the near-legendary Fallanassi.
"Indeed," said Orthea, her expression grim. "Have we contacted their people?"
"Not yet" admitted the Elder. "Sister Enetil is contacting one of our people who is close to the Adepts. We are hoping to avoid any Imperial interference." She did not admit aloud that she was waiting to see that all the Adepts survived. They were friends of Mother and as such their welfare was of prime importance.
"Thank you Orthea. I will leave you to your work. Please let me know if you need any resources."
"I will Elder, may Vahl walk with you."
Amelia Sto-Nar reached her room and headed straight to the bathroom. The showers on Haven were, in her opinion, one of the better perks. Indulgent but welcome and a great way to relax after a stressful day. As she walked through her room, towelling off, she noted that there was a new message on her secure comm.
Walking over she saw that the message was encrypted…and written in the Vahla language. She quickly entered the encryption key and waited for the message to appear. When it did, it was an encrypted link.
Activating the link, opened a secure channel. A very secure channel.
A moment later an older Vahla appeared on the screen, one that Amelia had little difficulty recognising. She nodded politely, "Elder."
"Amelia, I have grave news…"
The news that the Vahla had rescued their people was completely out of the blue. Djinn Altis was grateful and relieved as he found himself addressing an elderly Vahla woman on a heavily encrypted channel. She sounded sincere as she reported on their condition.
"They will live Master Altis and will soon be able to speak with you in person. But, for now, our healers are letting them rest and heal."
"That is a relief. You have our thanks for their rescue. What are your intentions now?" Djinn made sure his tone was neutral and non-accusatory. His few dealings with Vahla had taught him that they could be rather sensitive, and he knew they had little liking for Jedi.
"To return your people to you and to discuss several matters of mutual interest. We are aware of recent…events. You should recognise that we share a common purpose in opposing the Sith. And we understand Palpatine is looking for you. Rest assured that we have no interest in aiding that madman."
Djinn relaxed slightly, "A conversation that we will welcome. Where would be a good place to meet? I regret that it cannot be here. At the moment our base is in a security lockdown."
The Elder nodded, apparently accepting his explanation. "Can you send a delegation to meet our fleet at these coordinates?"
A series of coordinates were sent via the datalink.
"That should be possible. Although I have several people that I will need to contact…"
The Elder raised a long-fingered hand, "We can wait, Master Altis. We shall take good care of your people."
She was only awake because she was using the Force to remain energised and alert. A useful skill in an emergency but not something sustainable for long periods.
When her desperate rescue mission had run into problems almost immediately she had taken charge. Plan B, backtracking, had led them straight into an Imperial interdiction force. A force that had been hellishly difficult to escape from. In the end, it was Lena's skilful use of electronic countermeasures that had allowed them to escape the Imperial net.
Talia sighed as she rubbed her eyes tiredly. They had been forced to take a circuitous route and the long hours and her growing concerns were sapping her energy. She had just dropped the ship out of Hyperspace, for a course re-calculation, when a warning light lit up and an alert sounded.
BEEP – beep – BEEP – beep
Swivelling her chair, she glanced at the communications console. It was an encrypted message from…yes, from Haven.
Hermione mentally checked off the contents of the healers' kits she was packing for Andromeda Tonks and Alyssa. In the background, she could hear Djinn, Sirius and Sev'rance talking to Amelia Sto-Nar.
She turned to see Andromeda and Alyssa standing behind her. Both healers were dressed in what was becoming the standard formal grey uniform of the Adepts.
"Sorry, missed that. I was checking off supplies," admitted Hermione.
Andromeda offered up an understanding smile, "It's fine Hermione. I asked if you were ready?"
Andromeda nodded, "Ron will be assisting Djinn, I assumed that you would like to come."
Hermione blinked, "Um…of course. I'll just grab a few things."
As she hurried off to her quarters, she missed the odd look from Amelia.
Outer Rim - Albanin sector
When the Wookie Gunner dropped out of hyperspace at the agreed coordinates they were confronted with a huge fleet of ships.
"Is this the Vahla fleet, it's huge!" exclaimed Alyssa.
"Indeed," said Sev'rance who was studying the fleet through the windows. "I certainly never saw any intelligence around the Vahla being able to muster such a large fleet."
Amelia shrugged, looking out at the ships, "We are rarely gathered together but with the elders cracking down on the rogue Ember cult and the current unrest…I suspect they have called for my people to unite for safety if nothing else."
Djinn shook his head as he studied the fleet they were approaching. "Well, they certainly have enough fighting ships. There are a lot of fighters out there although nothing targeting us. Goodness…that was a PB-Nine-Fifty Patrol Boat and a flight of Tikiar starfighters."
"We are being hailed," reported Ron.
"Approaching vessel, identify yourself."
Ron glanced at Djinn, who nodded. "Acknowledged, sending our code," replied Ron as his fingers moved over the controls.
"…Adept vessel, our fighter screen will escort you in. "
Two Vahla fighters formed up on either side of the Wookie Gunner. Far enough away that there was no risk of collision but close enough to react almost instantly. It was clearly meant as a reminder that they were being watched. As testified to by the backseat gunners who had their laser cannon not quite pointed at them.
"Acknowledged," replied Djinn. "We'll follow you in."
Hermione extended her senses into the Force but couldn't sense anything other than her crewmates. That was odd, "I can't sense anything. Should we be expecting trouble?"
The others seemed to look into the distance for a moment, "Well that is interesting. It looks like the Vahla have mastered hiding their presence in the Force."
Amelia laughed as she looked around at the others, "Is it such a surprise. My entire people are, by and large, Force-sensitive. Why haven't the Jedi detected our squadrons?"
"Adept Vessel, please land in the bay indicated by the strobe," ordered the Vahla as the two fighters peeled off.
Ron and Djinn bought the Wookie Gunner into the landing bay of the old Sphyrna-class corvette and followed the instructions of the deck boss, setting the ship down in the indicated spot. As they powered down the ship, a welcoming party was forming up outside.
The two Vahla Elders watched as the Adept's ship slowly moved into their hanger.
"You can sense her, can you not," said the senior of the two.
"Yes, she has quite a presence…and the potential…well, the potential to be all that we hope."
"I look forward to meeting her in the flesh…come sister, it seems that the time is at hand."
Hermione was intrigued by the Vahla. Of course, she knew Amelia but seeing a large gathering of her people reinforced just how tall they were. They were, on average, six and a half feet tall. That alone was interesting, but it was how they moved that intrigued Hermione. Their cartilaginous skeletons granted them exceptional flexibility and an amazing flowing gait. It was even more noticeable when they were gathered together. "They look like ballet dancers." She muttered to her self.
The introductions had been quick. The Vahla seemed to understand that they would want to see their friends. So, she followed behind her companions to the Vahla sickbay.
"Pretty interesting ship," Ron commented softly. "Different from what I expected, more…I don't know, home-like?"
Hermione nodded absently as she studied the layout of the ship. "It reminds me a bit of the Chu'unthor."
Ron did not answer and Hermione turned to see him looking at a group of young Vahla. They looked around sixteen or so and were watching the Adepts with wide eyes.
"Notice all the looks?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, weird…I suppose they don't get many visitors," replied Ron.
Hermione was about to reply when they reached the medical area. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief to see all four Adepts. They were immersed in Bacta tanks and were being monitored by what appeared to be Vahla healers.
An older Vahla with white hair stepped forward and bowed. "Greetings, I am Orthea the lead healer."
Andromeda and Alyssa introduced themselves and were soon in a huddle around a datapad. Hermione looked around and realised that there was an ancient and rather authoritative looking pair of Vahla watching her.
"Adept Granger?" asked one of the older Vahla.
Hermione nodded, "Yes, that's me."
The Vahla both smiled and the slightly shorter one nodded politely. "I believe that you are Hermione the Adepts archivist?"
"I am," confirmed Hermione.
"I am Evalia and this is Thesta. I had hoped that perhaps you might spare us a few moments. I have several texts that I believe would be of value to your people."
"I would be honoured," replied Hermione.
Ron watched on with poorly hidden amusement and thus earned the nudge in the ribs he received from his lover.
"Your friend can join us," said the taller Vahla, Evalia, whose stern demeanour fell away for a moment. "I'm sure my aides will appreciate the view."
Hermione frowned, while Ron just looked confused, "Sorry?"
Thesta smiled then explained. "Red hair is considered a sign of being touched by divinity. I am sure you noticed the looks?"
Ron grinned, amused. "Well, my whole family have red hair. Perhaps I should let them know."
The two Vahla laughed as they led Hermione and Ron over to a table. Several tomes were already stacked on it.
"These are several books that outline the true history of our people," explained Evalia. "We may have ended the threat posed by the Ember Cults, but there is still much misinformation circulating about my people. The preservation of knowledge and people…do not look so surprised. We have our own sources and my people are force sensitive. We would like to explore opportunities to help. Perhaps a sharing of information and resources beyond these books?"
"Thank you, I'll make sure that we include it in our archives, and I would welcome the opportunity to share what I can," said Hermione with a polite nod. She looked up at Evalia and for a moment there was…something. A connection…recognition.
Andromeda chose that moment to call out to Hermione. "Hermione, ah…sorry to interrupt."
Evalia waved away her apology, "We were, I believe, finished. Hermione if you have any questions, please contact us."
Hermione nodded and then found Andromeda handing her a pad. "The Vahla's healers are excellent. They've certainly saved all four and in a few hours, we will be able to transfer them back to Haven."
Arthur Weasley studied his electronic in-tray and sighed. He now had a staff, a large staff, of workers to help finish work on the new Jedi colony. While welcome, a large staff meant a great deal of paperwork and most of it was now electronic as opposed to physical paperwork. The hand-picked wizarding newcomers to Praxia had rather rapidly adapted to the Jedi's new technology.
He was under gentle pressure from Amelia Bones to not only finish their work but also to get as many people as possible trained up on the new technologies. Amelia was determined to see the Wizarding world expand into the greater universe. An idea he happened to agree with, given what they now knew about the greater universe.
Arthur turned to see his wife.
"You are going to miss the dinner if you don't hurry," Molly reminded him from the doorway. She was already dressed in nice robes, albeit covered by an apron.
Arthur shut down his ePad and stood up. "I'm dressed Molly, I just need to put on my robe."
Molly ran her eyes over him, judging his attire and smiled. "So you are. Our guests should be here soon."
Despite appearances, Arthur knew full well that Molly was quite nervous. This was probably the biggest dinner she had ever organised and despite all the offers of assistance she had received she had insisted on doing most of the cooking. Arthur pulled on his formal robe as he watched Molly tidy up his already tidy office.
He smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way, "I am sure that everything will be fine."
Molly sighed and put down his tea seat, "I hope so…it's just that everything is so new."
Molly had only arrived a week ago with the third group of wizards and witches to be trained. He suspected that Amelia Bones had been behind it. He would be sure to sincerely thank her when she arrived. Despite his initial concerns, Molly had immediately proven she was just as mentally flexible as her husband. Offering her services to the growing community where she was needed.
"I sat in on Ginny's training with the Jedi students today. While you were meeting with the Goblins," she added as she sat on the edge of the desk. "It is such a relief to see her enjoying herself."
Arthur nodded, he was rather proud of Bill and Ginny. They were both learning, teaching and most importantly showing the new Wizarding arrivals that the new skills could be attained with the appropriate work.
"Talk to Master Yoda tonight, Luv. He has been following Ginny's training from the start and he's incredibly pleased with how quickly she is coming along."
Molly looked thoughtful, " I'll do that Arthur. Now you had better hurry up."
Yoda resisted the urge to sigh as he endured talking to the senior Goblin. The Wizard's had put on a wonderful dinner. A feast might be a better description but regardless a very fine meal. The Jedi's various dietary requirements had been catered for with skill and imagination. He had found himself seated next to Grobak. The Goblin was a senior warder for Gringotts and the chosen 'ambassador' to Praxia. He was also convinced that Yoda shared his warlike nature. A belief solely based on the similarity of their appearance. Luckily, his other dining companion was much easier to deal with.
"A professional sports player you are yes?" Yoda smiled at Oliver Wood who grinned.
"Oh, great you know about Quidditch," he replied happily. "I suppose I am, Reserve keeper for Puddlemere united."
"Watched a friendly game I have. Entertaining it was," explained Yoda. "Miss Weasley and her brothers, most informative they are."
Oliver Wood laughed, "Oh yes, the Weasley's are Quidditch mad. And I say that acknowledging that I am as well."
Yoda spent half an hour talking about professional quidditch before Oliver sighed. "It's a fun way to earn a living and the money is pretty good but to be honest it was more fun playing at school. I had the honour of leading one of the best teams I have ever been a part of. Harry Potter, the Weasley twins and the best team of chasers I've seen."
"Played with Harry Potter you did?"
Wood nodded, "I understand that you have met him."
Yoda didn't hesitate, "I have indeed. A friend of the Jedi he is."
"I'm not surprised that he is making a difference," said Oliver with a shrug. "He's a pretty powerful wizard…and a damn good quidditch player. I didn't really understand when we were at Hogwarts, but he had some pretty amazing adventures."
Yoda let the young wizard talk, it was amazing what you could pick up. He had read three books about Harry Potter and it was becoming clear that he held an important place in the minds of the wizards.
Cin Drallig had to suppress a smile as he saw the put-upon expression on his wizard friends face. "Arthur, what's wrong?"
Arthur offered Cin a wry smile, "It's been a long day and some of the new arrivals are being…difficult."
"Not suited to the program?" Cin asked with some concern. He would be one of the instructors for the wizards.
Arthur shook his head, "No, not unsuited…more that they have never seen anything like this before. As a people, we have fallen far behind non-wizards as far as science and technology go. It's really only those that have lived outside the wizarding world that have any real grasp of what they need to learn." He did not add that at least he wasn't having to deal with the old ministry and its pureblood agenda.
Cin smiled reassuringly, "Arthur, you picked it up. It can be done if they do the work."
Arthur nodded and straightened his shoulders.
"Now, I did have an ulterior motive for coming over," admitted Cin.
"Oh?" prompted Arthur.
"Your daughter has been enjoying her time with Bene and I am pleased that my student has found a friend. But, more importantly, Ginevra has shown an aptitude for some of the skills Bene has shared with her. Master Yoda is wondering if you would allow her to expand the scope of that training."
Arthur was somewhat taken back by that, "No offence Cin, but I thought that you had quite strict rules regarding training."
"We do, Arthur. For very important reasons. However, the Council believes that we have the ability to forge some real ties between our people," explained Cin. "Luna and Harry's Adepts and their abilities were a surprise, to say the least. To many on the council, it wasn't a welcome surprise."
Arthur frowned, not liking the implication of Cin's words, "I'm not entirely sure of your meaning."
Cin must have sensed Arthur's caution and raised his hands in a placating gesture. "Nothing sinister I assure you. The Jedi have been the guardians of peace for more than twenty-thousand years. We were convinced that we had the…ah moral imperative to protect people from falling to the dark. I have known some who have fallen. I had to help hunt down a woman I thought of as a daughter and kill her." He could see Arthur's shocked expression. "She had killed thirty-six people and was in possession of a weapon of mass destruction." Cin paused for a moment and then shook his head. "We realise now, well some of us do, that our fear began to mean anything that did not match our beliefs was a threat. And yet we failed to see Palpatine for what he was. Worse, when the Adepts saved us many on the council looked askance at them."
Cin could see Arthur was listening, "Master Yoda wants to build an understanding and he thinks this will help."
Arthur slowly nodded, his expression neutral. "I think I understand. Although I will need to consider."
"Thank you, Arthur."
Harry found himself in a white, opaque void.
"You know Harry, I sometimes worry about just how regularly you find yourself in these situations."
Harry turned toward the familiar voice to see Darth Vectivus. He looked different, more substantial and he had a sudden sinking sensation.
Vectivus shook his head, "No, Harry you aren't dead…close, very close but some friends saved all four of you. If you are wondering why I look less like a Force projection than normal, it is because you are having a vision."
"So, you are not here," said Harry.
Vectivus shrugged, "I am, at least I think I am." He shrugged again, "I have no way of knowing and neither do you."
Harry scratched his head and looked around, "Where are we?"
"Ah, now that is an excellent question."
Harry swung back around to see a tall figure. It appeared to be a very tall old man, white-bearded but still straight-backed. Humanoid but not human…his features were odd, but Harry could not quite put his finger on what it was.
The man smiled, "A very good question, Harry. This is a place between…sustained by the Force. It is also an excellent meeting place."
Harry was not sure what to say to that. "Um…if you don't mind me asking, who are you?"
The man shrugged, "My name is meaningless, but you can call me Father."
"Why am I here?"
Father gestured and Harry found himself looking at Earth from orbit.
"Your home planet…"
The Father's voice faded away and He found himself standing in a nearly deserted, rubble-strewn Diagon Alley. The few people he could see appeared to be Aurors. An older man that he did not recognise raised his voice, calling out orders.
"Wormstrom, Goodbody and Wilton…you take the left. The rest of us will stay on watch. Once we have swept that side, we will do the right. You find anyone, you get them a portkey."
"Sir, the….the orders…" the younger man trailed off at the look on his superior's face.
After a long moment, the leaders hard look softened somewhat. "I understand Wilton, but it's us or them. Since revelation, the Mundanes have taken no prisoners. We need to get our people out and portkeyed to the extraction point before they break through our defences. Once they do, we hold until our people are out."
Wilton nodded as he looked down at his wand.
"We don't have a choice lad. We play this right and we'll be off-world with Minister Bones by the end of the night with no incidents." He did not sound like he believed his own words.
A distant explosion had all the Aurors looking around, on high alert.
"Sounds like things are moving quickly, so we should get on with the bloody mission. Come on people."
Harry could only watch as the vision faded and was replaced with what he recognised as the hold of a starship. An exhausted looking Arthur Weasley was looking at a clipboard as Bill Weasley knelt by a small child with a bandaged arm. Bill was talking quietly with the child and patting her hand.
After a few minutes, Bill stood and shook his head. Arthur sighed and made a note on his clipboard. "I'll let Molly and the Welfare officer know."
Bill shook his head sadly, "Has Minister Bones decided?"
Arthur looked around carefully before answering, "The Jedi are sending ships and Harry has sent help but most of the ICW…well many wizarding enclaves are under siege. The Americans have stopped any talks and groups of magical's have been turning up in Mexico and Canada. Australia and New Zealand are dealing with their mundane counterparts but Asia…" He trailed off and shared a look with his eldest son.
"Bad, I heard.
Arthur looked angry for a moment before shaking his head. "The idiots who started this…I know Amelia isn't to blame but we could, we should have done more!"
"She knew this was coming Dad," Bill said quietly. "Maybe not this quickly but she knew it and prepared. If Harry had not told us, well that might have been us down there."
"We left…we should have known the purebloods would try something!"
The scene shifted again, and Harry was standing in London.
A man Harry did not know was addressing camera crews and a scrum of journalists. Behind him, military vehicles could be seen.
"…There was little to know no resistance as government troops secured the so-called Ministry of Magic. As of this moment, the United Kingdom is once more secure and under the control of the Government. I'll now take questions….yes, Gavin, in the front…"
A journalist called out his question, "Prime minister, There have been concerns that prisoners have been denied their rights as citizens. Can you reassure the public that due process is, in fact, occurring?"
The Prime minister nodded, "I understand the concerns the public feel. I share them but revelation made it clear that this…illegal shadow government was a danger to the public. When Her Majesties government made it clear that the recent terrorist actions undertaken in the United States would not be tolerated. The Wizarding world was, contrary to their mistaken beliefs, answerable to the Crown and the government. We sought a peaceful resolution. Unfortunately, segments of that community chose to oppose any restriction of their self-proclaimed rights.
Given the danger that they posed, at the time, we declared a state of emergency. Until that was rescinded this evening, our military had the right to temporarily hold, without charge, any magical that did not comply with our instructions. That situation has ended, and we will begin sorting out those being held. Next…"
"Prime minister, the opposition is calling for an inquiry into what is being called the Devon massacre…"
The Prime minister leaned forward, "I object most strongly to that term! The deaths in Devon are still being investigated."
Another reported interrupted, "Prime minister!" Interjected a dozen voices.
A female television reporter shouldered aside one of her print media colleagues. "Twenty-six young men and women, children, were killed by British soldiers in what was clearly identified as a wizarding day school. Prime minister, surely you can acknowledge that the public has concerns!"
"It is being investigated! We must let those run their course…"
"Are those investigations including the disappearance of almost half the wizarding populace in the UK?" Shouted the female reporter as she tried to be heard of the questions of her colleagues. "I've spoken to a dozen non-wizards with ties to their community who claim that their friends and relatives have disappeared. Is the British government claiming that it does not know where they are?"
"These claims are unsupported by the evidence…"
The reported looked furious as several plainclothes police approached her. "Where is my niece, prime minister? Is she in your wizard concentration camp?"
Harry blinked as the vision faded.
"What the hell happened?"
The Father studied Harry, his expression sombre. "Amelia Bones left Earth, having reached out to the moderates and those who believed as she did. That exodus started a sequence of events that led to a series of atrocities. By the time the situation became clear those without the Force were turning against the gifted."
"My God…" whispered Harry. "Has it already happened, can it be stopped?"
The Father studied Harry for a moment before turning away, looking out into the white mists. "No, events have not yet occurred."
"How do I stop it?" Harry demanded.
"You cannot…not fully. This is needful."
"What the hell, if it hasn't happened, I can stop it!"
The Father turned back to Harry, his expression stern. "You cannot."
Harry's hand dropped to his lightsaber as his eyes narrowed.
The Father's expression did not change, "Righteous anger will not avail you, Harry Potter. Will you listen?"
"Your world has a strong connection to the Force and your people have a high number of Force-sensitives. You are not the only world with such a distinction, and many have succumbed to division…can you honestly say that the two worlds were at peace?"
Harry hesitated; the wizarding world had been at best ignorant of the non-magical. All too many magical's looked at the outside world with sneering contempt. "No, but they were not at war."
"And it might be your direct intervention that causes the war you seek to stop," warned the Father.
Harry was about to reply when he paused and considered the warning. "So, if I send a warning…"
The Father slowly nodded, "You are learning."
"Thanks for the insight, but why help us now?"
"The task of setting right your peoples mistakes is not yours, the Jedi and the wizards must work together. The light side must strengthen to balance the dark." The Father finished speaking and locked eyes with Harry. "You inadvertently invalidated or perhaps cancelled out a prophecy, Harry. A deed done without knowing what you did. Your actions saved many but also doomed many. Seek balance, Harry Potter. But even seekers of balance must sometimes choose only from bad or worse. The Mah Vey as they call themselves are powerful Harry. Far more powerful than your master suspects. For the galaxy to survive you must keep the knowledge alive."
"That is why we exist, the Adepts that is. We are seeking to maintain balance and preserve knowledge."
The Father nodded, "Worthy goals, young Harry. And yet you oppose Palpatine?"
"We do…he would destroy the balance," explained Harry.
"He would," agreed the Father sadly.
Harry frowned thoughtfully. "Can we beat the Mah Vey?"
"I cannot see all the possible futures but yes the possibility exists that they and their allies can be defeated."
Harry felt a moment of profound relief.
"The Force in all its forms is a powerful tool, Harry. There is much you could learn from your people, among others."
"Haven will succeed then?"
The Father did not reply immediately.
"It is possible, Harry but only if you and your companions complete your training and with that gain an understanding of true balance."
"Complete our training?" Harry prompted but Vectivus and the Father were gone.
Harry came back to awareness gradually.
There was light…muted, artificial light. He tried to look around, but his eyes didn't seem to focus properly. There was a touch on his arm.
"He should now be aware," said an artificial sounding voice.
A droid and…a familiar presence.
Harry turned his head to see a relieved looking Hermione.
Hermione smiled, "Welcome back."
Haven – Medical Centre
"It is good to see all four of you up and around," said Talia with no small amount of emotion.
"I…we, owe the Vahla a debt," said Harry.
"They have certainly earned my thanks," said Luna with a smile.
Talia looked pensive for a moment before sighing. "Mine too, I just wish I could understand their motives for putting themselves at risk like this. They've almost certainly come to the attention of Palpatine and that puts a big target on their fleet."
"They were almost certainly already on his shit list, Talia. They are a known race of Force-sensitives. Maybe they threw their lot in with us because they saw the writing on the wall?" Sirius Black offered with a shrug.
"Perhaps," allowed Talia.
"Do we think their offer of an alliance is genuine?" Hermione asked.
"I sensed that they are being truthful," added Sev'rance. "And their fleet is rather more impressive than I had expected and far larger than any of us had imagined."
Remus looked thoughtful as he sipped his tea, "They certainly don't lack ships."
"Djinn is rather impressed with their leadership," said Hermione. "In particular the fact that nearly all the Vahla are under the one banner."
"They certainly did not come across completely different from what I expected. I mean Amelia's great but…" Ron trailed off at the look he received from Hermione.
"We need a council meeting," said Harry. "The Vahla joining us changes things dramatically. Not because of who they are but because of the numbers they are bringing. It is logistically impossible for them to join us here at Haven. We'll have two close allies, the Mandalorians and the Vahla operating separately from us."
Talia frowned thoughtfully, "What are you getting at Harry?"
"Haven serves a very important purpose, but we may soon need to find other bases."
The moment Harry returned to Haven he made a point of sending Amelia Bones a long, carefully worded warning via Arthur Weasley.
Then he joined Luna and Talia and shared his vision of the Father.
"Understanding balance," Luna mused more than asked.
Talia looked thoughtful as well, "I tried to keep your training balanced but it was cut short. Perhaps we do need to ensure that you are trained in all the arts. I do not doubt that Vectivus has trained you but perhaps mastery refers to your thinking as opposed to your skills. The same with your people's arts…it is something to consider."
The Council meeting was scheduled to take place the next evening. There had been some debate among the leadership if the Jedi's envoy, Luminara Unduli should attend but Harry had insisted.
"We need to forge tight bonds and yes, the Jedi have a part to play. We need their views and their strength. We might not share all their beliefs but neither do we share all the beliefs of the Mandalorians or the Jensaarai…this is bigger than turf fights."
In the manicured garden that served as a green space and a meeting area, Jedi Master Luminara Unduli found herself standing next to a woman she recognised.
"Master Luminara," acknowledged the heavily pregnant Etain.
"Etain Tur-Mukan, I had heard you were on Haven. I thought perhaps that you had been avoiding me."
Etain smiled slightly, "I haven't been avoiding you. Darman and I have been rather busy, and I am not as mobile as I have been."
Luminara smiled slightly, "So I see. You are well?"
"Yes and happy," replied Etain with a smile as she laid a hand on her belly.
"I am pleased to hear that, Etain. Are you with the Adepts now?" Luminara asked, making sure to keep her tone non-accusatory.
Etain shook her head, "No, although I have been living here with Darman as a liaison for the Mand'alore and clan Skitara. The Mand'alore has requested that we stay until the baby is born."
Luminara nodded, "That seems wise." And it was another former Jedi now linked to the adepts.
She had been surprised by the nature of Haven. It was very different from the Jedi temple and the Adepts inclusiveness was somewhat of a revelation. But most surprising of all was the sheer amount of variety embraced by the residents. Much of the knowledge shared here was unknown to the Jedi. Surprisingly she had been welcomed in both the formal and informal teaching sessions.
Her ruminations were interrupted by the arrival of Hermione Granger, "Master Unduli, Etain, we will be serving the evening meal shortly."
"Thanks for finding us, I'm hungry," replied Etain with a wry smile.
Hermione rolled her eyes, "I'm used to it. Ron is like an alarm clock for food."
Etain mock-glared at Hermione, "I do believe I had a discussion with Ronald regarding a certain archivist missing too many meals."
Luminara had to smile at the banter. Hermione's dedication to her job was clear. Luminara knew that her friend, Jocasta Nu, the Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives, would find Hermione a kindred spirit. Although Hermione was rather less formal than Jocasta.
Selecting a variety of dishes to sample, Luminara found a seat and began to eat. She rather enjoyed the evening meals and she took the opportunity to talk to many of those gathered to eat. She had included this casual communal eating in her report to the Jedi Council. It was a gathering of the community that allowed opportunities to share ideas and engage in social activity.
Luminara sensed Luna approaching and turned to see the blonde Adept walking toward her.
"Master Unduli, I was wondering if you had a moment."
Luminara had not seen as much of Luna or Harry as she had hoped but had heard a great deal about her. Still, she found herself liking the young woman. "Of course, and please Luminara will do."
Luna sat down next to her and the others at the table offered their own greetings. She politely returned them before turning to Luminara.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your meal."
"It's fine Luna," she assured Luna with a smile.
"Thank you, we were hoping that you could attend the council meeting tonight."
Luminara inclined her head, "I would be honoured to attend. Is there anything specific you need?"
"Harry received a warning that we will be discussing in council along with other matters," explained Luna. "We also have to decide what to do now that our numbers have outgrown Haven."
Luminara had to compare the Order to the Adepts. The Order was crippled, and the Adepts were struggling to accommodate their new allies.
Haven's council was far larger than the Jedi Council and far more diverse. Not by race, the Jedi were drawn from hundreds of worlds but more diverse because their council included a high proportion of non-Jedi. Luminara had to admit that there were clear advantages in having differing viewpoints. Setting aside her musings she returned her attention to the newly arrived leader of the Mandalorians, Mand'alore Satine.
"…We have surveyed several unoccupied systems at the edge of the outer rim. We have begun preparations to establish a hidden base and welcome your people," Satine assured the Adepts.
Talia frowned but did not comment. Instead, she looked at Harry and Luna.
Harry gave a small nod and stood, "With the free Mandalorians, Jensaarai and now the Vahla we have reached a point where we must now recognise that Haven is reaching full capacity. The Mand'alore has suggested one of their new bases and that is a generous offer. One that we will need to consider in the light of recent revelations."
"New revelations?" prompted one of Djinn's Jedi adepts.
Harry hesitated for the briefest moment before continuing. He spoke of Jedha and their concerns about Sidious building a secret superweapon. Luna then took over speaking of the Mah Vey and the Force visions many of those present had shared about the threat they presented.
"Sidious," continued Luna, "has not given up on his plans to exterminate other Force users. Despite his recent setbacks he still has control over his military, political and logistical assets not to mention that he has managed to produce a Force using clone"
"And he will not stop hunting down those that oppose him. This puts everything we have achieved at risk. He almost destroyed the Jedi, the Jensaarai and he has all but wiped out others," Harry added before turning to Djinn.
Djinn Altis gestured toward the central areas of Haven. "The population of Haven has a key role to play in that dark vision many of us have seen. We are seeking to bring balance so that when we face that dark future the galaxy has some chance of survival. But the strength of Haven is not this base. It is the community we have built here. That was a truth that the Jedi failed to recognise," he shot Jedi Master Luminara Unduli an apologetic look as he continued. "So, I believe that the discussion that we need to have is how we ensure both the safety of the community and how we continue to undertake our mission."
"A hard choice in some ways," said Talia. "But a needed one. I believe that a reasonable course would be continuing to maintain Haven as has been done so successfully. We have the means to purchase new ships and build new facilities along with our allies and we should. We should also be considering just what alliance with the Vahla and the free Mandalorians means to our mission. They have ships, they are well aware of the dangers we face, and they share a desire to prepare for that dark future. We could continue our policy of searching out new groups and individuals. We can continue helping those in need and building our alliances. The Force Adepts are a movement let us continue that. Does it matter if the group is here or aboard a ship in a Vahla squadron? Yes, return to study and seek fellowship. When danger is close or when you are outmatched but we had never truly considered all our allies permanently abiding here."
"That may have done it," Harry said as he stood talking with Talia, Luna and Hermione.
"I think it has people thinking," agreed Hermione with a slight frown. But why now? I mean we have been having this discussion from the beginning."
Talia smiled at Hermione, "Always questioning, my dear. And you are right. We have discussed this before. The difference is that Harry received a specific warning about completing their training and do not disagree. It is easy to forget that many are what I would consider only half-trained. I plan to rectify that. We may not have much time until our enemies strike again. We will use that time to our advantage. We shall both teach and learn."
Harry and Luna exchanged a look but did not speak.
"We?" Hermione asked.
Talia smiled again and there was more than a touch of shark in it. "Yes, we."
Hermione swallowed a bit nervously.
Lena smiled at Talia's sleeping form. Their lovemaking had tired her lover out. As pleasing as it would be to watch her sleep, Lena had many things she could be doing. None so pleasurable, but almost as important as Talia. That thought brought a smile to Lena's face. She had searched for the perfect companion for nearly four thousand years and had found it in Talia.
She slipped out of bed and over to the portable link to her main data uplink. She had been caught out recently. Almost fatally and that could not happen again. She had, since the incident, been working on a new set of encryption protocols. Slicers would find it all but impossible to follow her trail and more importantly the Adepts and their allies would also see a massive improvement in the communication security.
The worm program she had used to test her own security was still running, as she had expected so she moved on to her next project. The project she dubbed rebirth was something she had worked on for nearly two hundred years. It was so far as she knew, the most advanced research ever on the transfer of consciousnesses between droids and humanoids. She had even placed a living organism into a bio-technical copy. The small rodent-like Ilisp had survived and was to her amusement still sending data-burst updates. Given the Ilisp only live for two years the fact that it was still operating after eighty years was a positive result.
She had plenty of genetic material, harvested from Talia during their lovemaking, and she had the clones of her lover to compare the recent DNA to. The data was again perfect, and Lena did smile when she saw that the computer projections were supporting her theory. This data was hidden away in Lena's own memory and protected as a backup in several digital locations so that if Lena's current body were destroyed it would be available to her back up.
Finally, she checked the cloning data from the tanks hidden on her ship. The clones suspended in their tanks were safe and still in stasis.
Satisfied, she moved to her holocom and began reading her messages, after enacting her new security protocols. There was a slicer out there that had sold her out. Putting Talia at risk as well as Talia's beloved apprentices. That was not something Lena could forgive so she had a vested interest in justice.
A nasty grin crossed her face as she deleted the message. Her outsourced professional had dealt with that problem. As far as she was concerned it was money well spent.
Talia mumbled something in her sleep, which turned into snore and Lena shut down her system, deciding to give herself the night off. Snuggling with her lover was, after all, a profitable use of her time.
Velath convulsed as she climaxed, pushed over the edge by her partner's skilled fingers. As she slowly became aware of her surroundings she felt lips pressed against hers and she returned the kiss.
"You are way too good at that!"
"I aim to please," was the response and Velath knew, without looking that her partner would be grinning like a loon.
"I think…" Velath trailed off as the communicator sounded.
There was a sigh and she felt the mattress adjust as she opened her eyes to see Sahdra activating the comm.
"Sorry to disturb you both, but Sahdra wanted to know when the Chu'unthor was scheduled to depart," Ron Weasley's voice was easy to recognise. "It's due to depart in an hour."
"Thanks, Ron," Sahdra acknowledged and then turned to see Velath standing and walking toward the freshener.
Velath smiled slightly, "We need a shower before we head down. We can save time if we freshen up together."
Most of the Altisian Jedi Adepts and their families were at the docking berths when the Masters and Knights that were crewing this run of the Chu'unthor. Sahdra was giving out hugs and kisses to her friends as they prepared to depart. Velath was watching with clear bemusement, the Dathomiri never ceased to be amazed by Sahdra's outgoing personality.
The Chu'unthor was not just being crewed solely by Jedi this time. There were quite a few new faces. A pair of followers of Palawa, three Dathomiri and a four-man Mandalorian security and training squad. In the aftermath of the last council meeting, there had been a great many shifting assignments and a large step up in training.
Velath turned at the sound of her mistresses' voice and saw Luna standing behind her with Harry by her side.
Luna gave her a small smile and a nod, "We are meeting up with the rest of the crew after lunch."
Velath felt a surge of pride at Luna's words. Despite the reshuffling, Luna and Harry had kept her as a part of their crew. "We'll be there."
Vectivus frowned as he considered what he had seen in his meditative state. His connection to the Force was strong here in the depths of the cavern beneath Haven. His abilities were easier to call on and far less exhausting.
Talia's warning of a Sith superweapon worried him. He had seen visions of the type of things that his brothers had created. Terrible things that most Dark siders kept away from.
So, he searched.
Well no, not nothing. He found data ghosts, odd visions, and more mysteries. It was incredibly frustrating. Then he felt it…a crack.
He concentrated his will, probing and searching for any weakness…
There was a moment…the 'shroud' parted and Vectivus saw a holographic image of an artificial moon.
He tried to follow that image and then there was an echo of loss and death that even the shadow of it pummelled Vectivus and broke his concentration.
Vectivus could feel his form breaking apart and he was too tired to do anything but wait until he had accumulated enough reserves to once again act. "What could possibly have caused such huge loss of life that the event echoes in the Force?"
"You found something?"
Vectivus opened his eyes to see Qui-Gon watching him. The former Jedi Master studied Vectivus carefully. "You look shaken my friend."
Vectivus slowly nodded, he felt drained and only the cavern was keeping him anchored here. "Something bad my Jedi friend. Unbelievably bad. As Talia feared, Palpatine is building something…a superweapon."
Qui-Gon stroked his beard thoughtfully, "Something linked to Khyber crystals."
Vectivus shook his head wearily, "If he could build something powerful enough it would potentially shift the balance once more."
"I will let the Jedi know. You will warn the others?"
"I will and I will keep searching," acknowledged Vectivus.
The voice was a harsh whisper.
Talia opened her eyes and saw nothing then there was a figure.
Its face was hidden by a hood and she could not determine race or gender. Its voice was harsh and rasping and it radiated malice.
Talia was naked, weaponless and the figure towered over her.
If it expected her to be overwhelmed or reduced to gibbering fear, it was going to be disappointed.
"I am awake," she said evenly.
The figure seemed taken back by her reply.
"You are being given a choice. Take your…adepts, flee the galaxy…we shall let you live."
Talia did not reply. Instead, she studied the figure and considered her options.
"You seek our weaknesses…we have none…we are the chosen of our gods and we sweep all abominations before us. The Gimesh, the Harbringers, Ssstesh and the Yuuzhan Vong. Nothing can defeat us."
"And yet you seek to avoid facing us," Talia pointed out.
The figure straightened and extended a hand. "The foul abominations will avail you not. We will come and we will destroy you, utterly. I shall be pleased to see that day as we slaughter…"
Talia laughed mockingly, "And still you utter bluster threats and a whisper of pain and yet I know the Mah Vey are a lifetime away. Your fleet crosses the void between galaxies. All you can do is project and manipulate…and threaten of course. We will be ready for you."
The figure reared back as if struck, "You are a seer no longer…your words have no power."
"But there are other seers," Talia replied, unfazed by the reference to her diminished powers. "And events have been set in motion to counter you and your puppet Palpatine."
The figure began to laugh mockingly, "You think we use a single agent? You are more blind than we could possibly have hoped!"
Talia could sense nothing, there was no Force in this dreamscape and for a moment she felt doubt.
"Our priests have seen you in that approaching future. We know of you and your abominations false immortality…a gift to our holy warriors. I shall watch as they take you and break you screaming on our holy altars…"
Talia had to resist the urge to step away from the pure menace the figure was radiating. "First you must win and that will not be as easy as you seem to think."
"Now who blusters threats?"
Talia awoke, sweating with her heart racing.
Harry visually inspected the Ravenclaw, which had just been dropped off by a Vahla crew. The ship seemed in good working order and the Vahla had assured them that it had been swept for any tracking devices, refuelled and restocked.
"I am sure that the ship is fine, love."
Harry smiled as he turned to Luna. "I'm sure it is," he agreed.
"You two look well-rested," said Remus as he arrived with Talia, Lena, Sirius and Sev'rance.
"We are," agreed Luna with a smirk and a raised eyebrow although she did not fail to notice that Talia looked exhausted.
"Good," said Talia with a tired smile.
Harry rolled his eyes, "Come on, let's get aboard and talk."
The reconvened aboard the Ravenclaw where they were joined by Velath and Sahdra.
Talia shared her recent vision with everyone gathered in the Ravenclaws Mess. As she spoke, Lena held her hand looking concerned.
Harry's godfather looked as serious as Harry could remember seeing him as he asked, "Talia, who exactly are these Mah Vay?"
"I know little about them as a people and even less of their history but over the years I have accumulated some information. They are an Extragalactic species and from what I have concluded they are a xenophobic race driven by a desire to conquer and destroy all that they believe abominations. I have seen visions of dozens of worlds destroyed, stripped of resources, and used to fuel their empire. For tens of thousands of years, they dominated their home galaxy destroying any opposition or driving them to flee."
"What do they want, beyond conquest, an empire, slaves?" Remus asked quietly.
"I think they fear magic and the Force," replied Talia. "Abominations is their word for us. As to what else they want, I have no idea, Remus."
"We've seen the outcome of their arrival if we don't stop them," said Luna. "Worlds burnt, whole races slaughtered."
Sev'rance was frowning, remembering the vision Vectivus had shown her. "It is a good question, Remus. What do they want, is there a reason they fear magic or are they just zealots?"
"And why are they trying to get us to leave without a fight, are they afraid of magic?" Harry asked.
Talia shook her head, "We can infer that they fear magic, but we don't know for sure."
Sev'rance was still frowning as she reviewed what she had seen in her visions and what Talia had reported. "We need to root out their operatives and those being manipulated. It would be unwise to let their agents remain free to work against the galaxy."
"I think rooting out those agents will be difficult," Lena said thoughtfully as she began formulating plans and
"Could my vision of Earth from the Father have been linked to this? He warned me to stay clear," added Harry.
Arthur Weasley nervously adjusted his collar as he waited for his guests to arrive. He could hear Molly bustling around, ensuring that everything in the meeting room was prepared and hid a slight smile. At the least everyone would be fed.
The first to arrive were the Jedi, Yoda and Cin in their familiar brown robes. He greeted both warmly and Bill appeared to lead them into the large meeting room. Then came Amelia Bones followed by the Rufus Scrimgeour.
Arthur led them both into the room himself. There were the usual greetings, that were sincere enough as Molly made sure everyone had a drink and Bill set up the Holoprojector.
"Curious I am, what this is about," said Yoda as he settled himself into a chair and took a sip of his earl grey tea. The Jedi Master had developed a liking for the various blends and was not alone among the Jedi. The sheer variety of Earth blends had been very welcome.
"As am I," added Rufus as he buttered a scone. Say what you want about morning meetings, he loved ones that were catered. Since his wife's passing, he had often skipped breakfast, eating at the Ministry or in the Alley. Neither of which came anywhere Molly Weasley's.
Arthur nodded to Bill, who turned on the Holoprojector.
"I received this message from Harry and given its nature I called this meeting."
Bill started the message and the group silently listened to Harry's warning and its source.
"The Father?" questioned Amelia as she locked to the Jedi.
It was Yoda that answered. "Encountered the Father Jedi have. Speculated that a Celestial he is. Powerful ancient species they are. Perhaps immortal, theorised we have that they balance the Force or at least have a control over it we lack. Lost is their technology and few chances to speak we celestials we have. Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ashoka, met the Father and his children they have."
"Amazing," said Amelia. "That such beings can exist is frankly astonishing. That one chose to warn us…well it gives the message an added weight."
"Difficult choice you now face yes?" Yoda asked and Amelia nodded.
"Indeed, the IWC has little interest in addressing non-magical issues and I fear that despite the statute of secrecy being less protection as time goes by, they will not acknowledge the issue or choose to act as we have," explained Amelia. The admission bringing a frustrated expression. "After Voldemort, I truly began to realise that the wizarding world would soon be exposed. And, given that the last decade has seen a rise in attacks against non-magical's…well, Harry's warning is all too possible."
Rufus cleared his throat, "Amelia, you know I share your concerns. Merlin, I have talked to every right-minded and quite a few bloody wrong-minded wizard and witch I can. Even if we win the ICW over, we cannot relocate the whole wizarding world. It's impossible until we have a colony and the few worlds, we've looked at…those plans are years away."
"I know," admitted Amelia. "This is what I feared."
Cin Drallig shared a look with Yoda, "We will help of course – we do have ships that we can use as transports. I have spoken to you both and Arthur of course but I do admit that I do not fully understand the issue. The statute of secrecy works against you now. Would it not be better to show the ICW the larger universe in which they live?"
"They would go up in flames, Master Drallig." Amelia replied with a wry smile.
"Inevitable that seems to be," said Yoda. "Better flames of change than war I think, hmmm?"
Amelia did not know what to say and looked to Rufus who seemed to be thinking hard.
"You know…that does make sense," Rufus said musingly. "It may mean that we only have to pull out citizens from countries where their ministries fail them. Countries like Australia and Canada have good relations between Magical and non-Magical."
"Do you think it's possible Minister?" Arthur asked.
Amelia was quiet for a long moment before replying, "I think we have to try."
Coruscant – Emperor's Private Office
Darth Sidious waited and considered his next steps. His potential new apprentice would be arriving shortly, and he would admit he was interested in what exactly would walk through the door. Then he felt it at the edge of his perceptions. A dark brooding presence in the Force. Yes…this was promising. He could feel the rage and anger and it pleased him…it was like tasting a priceless vintage of fine wine.
The door slid open and a tall hooded figure, the source of the dark Force presence strode in, halting a few steps from his throne-like command chair.
"Let me see you, my apprentice," he ordered, voice deliberately cold.
The tall figure reached up and lowered its hood, revealing short red hair and a pale face and amber eyes filled with boiling hatred and frustrated anger.
"Do you have a name?" Sidious asked the kneeling figure.
"No, My Master."
"Then I name you Darth Invidius and take you as my apprentice. I will train your skills, my apprentice, as you rise up in the Sith Brotherhood."
The newly named Darth Invidius nodded, "I understand Master."
"Good, you have been briefed?"
It was not really a question bur Invdius nodded, "Yes, Master."
"We need to strengthen our position and rebuild our forces and of course, finish our ultimate project. Your mission is to spread fear, my apprentice. Show those that oppose us that they are not safe…that we can strike them at will. Their attention must be drawn away from our more important projects."
"And the adepts, Master?"
Sidious frowned, "Your predecessor nearly succeeded but, in the end, his weaknesses were exposed. His lack of patience. You must build your power, your ability to control the Force and then when you are ready…we will strike. The adepts can wait…I will let other lesser servants find them and then we may act."
"Yes Master." Darth Invidius replied with a cold smile.