Chapter 12: The Job
12 hours later
It was after numerous and through security checks that only served to increase their confidence in their fake Id's they finally made it out of the airbase. Stepping out of the confines of the airbase was a jaw dropping moment for Harry. It was nothing like he had ever expected a core planet to be.
Beside him River's eyes were dancing in happiness. It was the break of dawn and they were looking at a vast stretch of wild, untamed greenery blanketed by a fine early morning mist. The sounds made by the chirping of a thousand birds felt serene and alien to them after getting used to the constant thrumming of Serenity's engines and the noisy cities that they usually visited. The roads, instead of being on the ground, extended high above the tree tops and there were many such roads extending as far as their eyes could see without the support of any pillars.
Behind them was the fancy airbase brimming with technology and in front of them was nature at its best.
"Beautiful," River whispered. She felt like running into the woods and dancing to her hearts fill.
Harry knew such a wonderful atmosphere would work wonders on River's psyche. "Come on," he said. "We have a lot of work to do."
There was a line of yellow cabs lined up outside the entrance and Harry dragged River along. She was protesting and wanted to go for a walk into the forest but a short reminder of their mission here stopped her from wandering off.
"A very good morning to you, sir. Where might I take you on this fine day," the driver said politely.
Harry was a little thrown by the extreme politeness.
"A good hotel please," Harry said as he pushed River inside. The driver nodded and stowed their suitcase in the back before getting in and starting the vehicle. It almost made no sound at all and they didn't even feel the vehicle start to move.
River rolled down her window and stuck her head out with a wide grin on her face. "It's so peaceful!" she gushed.
"Most peaceful and prosperous planet in the verse," the driver agreed.
Harry tried to pull River back inside but she resisted and then Harry gave up. Let her have her fun, he thought and observed the scenery below him.
A blur of green and blue raced past them as they travelled and occasionally they would spot a monastery almost hidden by the vast forest.
"How do you get to those monasteries?" River asked.
"There are some special paths one has to take and there are some routes on this road itself which provide a way to the monasteries."
River pulled her head back inside and rolled the window back up. Her blonde hair was all messed up but she looked terribly pleased with herself.
"Can we go?" she asked Harry.
"If time permits," he said.
River huffed, "Spoilsport," she muttered under her breath.
Soon the city came into view and once again Harry had to admit it was nothing like he had imagined it to be. There were no tall buildings, no crowds, hardly any signboards like every other commercial planet they had been on and the houses and stores were all a mixture of ancient Chinese and modern architecture. All the buildings were well spaced out and they had a silken awnings in the front, all of different colours and sizes. Instead of regular street lamps there were rows of thousands of beautifully decorated lamps hanging above the roads connected by thin almost invisible strings giving them the impression that they were floating.
The cab pulled up in front of a place called 'Weng's Inn' It was more of a resort than a hotel. It was a collection of well-furnished shacks complete with hot springs, a swimming pool, a spa and a restaurant which offered the finest cuisines from all over the verse. He also had a vivid picture of the hole in his wallet widening with every step he took inside.
By the time they had settled in Harry was exhausted. The room was painted with red and gold reminding Harry of the Gryffindor common room.
"There's only one bed," was the first thing River said.
"We're supposed to be married idiot, what sort of couple sleeps on separate beds?"
"The fake kind," River said with a grin.
"Well I'm glad you finally said it," Harry said.
"You're sleeping on the couch," River said firmly and jumped onto the bed groaning at its comfort level. "This is amazing!"
"Why do you get to sleep on the bed?" Harry argued. "You're smaller and you like crawling into tiny uncomfortable places anyway."
"That's River," she said. "Now I'm Emily Williams."
Harry just rolled his eyes and opened the suitcase. He dug into the side pockets and removed a small piece of paper.
"Right, it's not like we're going to be here for long anyway. Now it's six and I have to get meet a Roger who…" he paused and squinted trying to understand the handwriting, "Who will be wearing a black shirt and a white cap at 2 at a café Chang on Dragon Street. Are you going to come with me or laze around over here?"
"I'm coming," she said immediately. "You'll need someone level headed to keep you in line."
"Level headed? You?" Harry said doubtfully.
"Emily is level headed, has good taste in silk and wine and she's a spend thrift."
"I hear Inara talking," Harry said dryly.
River shrugged. "They gave me a list of things they wanted too," she said.
"Oh no," Harry said, his face falling.
"Can I have your bank card?" she asked politely.
River slid of the bed and as quick as a cat she covered the distance between them and snagged his wallet out his pants.
"I asked nicely and you said no. Now I'm going to freshen up and you do whatever you want."
Harry sighed and watched glumly as River began to remove her clothes and arrange them in the cupboard. He averted his eyes as the articles of clothes became smaller and racy. He also detected a faint blush creeping up on her as she put them away and cursed Inara for the umpteenth time.
After they freshened up and had an expensive breakfast, the duo went into the city to do some exploring. The number of bags in Rivers hand kept increasing and while keeping a watchful eye on the reader Harry did his own bit of shopping until it was time for the meeting.
The street was aptly named Dragon Street seeing that the road was cobbled and at regular intervals there was a three dimensional illusion of a dragon and each was different from the other. The remarkable thing about the dragons was that instead of breathing fire it was breathing advertisements! It was a sort of commercial centre with cafés, theatres, stores selling silk clothes, silk bags, silk bed covers, and almost every third store were a silk something store. But Harry was once again marvelling at the mastery of architecture involved in the construction of the buildings. The street was more crowded than the rest of the city but there was a sense of discipline and an aura of arrogance around the people.
River was trying to avoid thinking about the people around her and was trying to focus on the numbers of birds that were flying all around. The last time she had seen a flock of birds was back home on Osiris. Her heart felt so much at ease just by being in a familiar environment. Although the buildings were much more sophisticated on Osiris and more than half the population comprised of lawyers and judges, the mentality of the people was still the same.
"We're here," Harry said suddenly.
The café was nothing special. A few tables and chairs erratically spread out, a glass freezing unit which displayed an assortment of pastries and puffs and a large machine behind the counter which probably made coffee.
Harry's eyes zipped around the room looking for someone meeting the description on the piece of paper and he spotted one at the centre of the café.
Harry pulled at River's arm but she yanked it back at glared at him. "Come on!" he hissed at her discretely.
River ignored him and went back to carefully observing the colourful and delicious looking pastries on display.
Sighing Harry let her be and casually walked to the table in question. "Roger I presume?" He was tall and thin. His hair spilled out of his cap and he had a messy beard and a cruel tint in his eye.
"You're just a kid!" he rasped scowling. "Those twins sent me a gorram kid?"
"Where are the goods?" Harry asked ignoring the insult.
'Roger' narrowed his eyes. "Where is the money?" he asked instead.
"You'll get the money once your business associates are satisfied with your items," Harry replied sharply. His eyes flickered towards River and he noticed her asking the sales person to remove at least a dozen of those pastries!
Roger growled and formed a fist, gesturing towards Harry threateningly.
"Oh I'm so scared," Harry mocked. Inside he was feeling quite nervous. Fanty and Mingo hadn't told him that his contact was going to be some sort of psychopath. But he held it together and looked at Roger right in the eye. "I was told that the arrangements had been made and you were supposed to do was point me to the goods. Now if you don't I don't need to tell you that my associates are going to be mighty displeased."
The intimidating aura around Roger dropped. Apparently he did know what would happen to him if he messed up this deal.
"South of Chang'pei," he began. "Right on the outskirt of the city is an abandoned factory. Be there at midnight," he said and then he stood up abruptly knocking his chair over and left as fast as possible.
His timing couldn't have been better since River arrived at the table just then balancing three plates of pastries on her arm and behind the sales lady was balancing another four plates on her arms!
"They all looked too yummy to ignore," she said sheepishly.
"There's something known as restraint!"
Back on Serenity a flurry of activity was going on. The other part was of the operation was going on which involved sneaking into the airbase on Ariel in the dead of the night and doing some remodelling to one of the transport ships.
This was one of the most important and dangerous part of the job and Kaylee was sweating buckets as she, Mal and Jayne bypassed security and stealthily made their way to the hangers. The crew had spent the last few hours identifying all the ships going to and fro from the air base and singling out the ones which were marked to fly to Sihnon. They located the ship they needed and quickly got to work.
"Jayne, keep guard," Mal whispered. "Kaylee…"
"Aye aye Cap'n," she said nervously and began to remove the tools from the large bag that Jayne and Mal had carried with them.
Time was of the essence and any screw up on their part would be catastrophic for River and Harry.
It took only an hour to travel to Chang'pei and once again the scenery was amazing. This time they got to see rivers and even larger monasteries. Every time they saw a river Harry couldn't help but poke fun at River and he was even more delighted to see it was annoying her.
Chang'pei was the centre of trading on the planet and it was vastly different from the capital city. The sense of high class and flaunting of riches was absent from this city and Harry was thankful for that. There were a lot more modernized buildings and lesser greenery but their surroundings were still über clean and the low population in all the cities helped maintain that.
As they went across the city they came across dozens of small silk industries and countless monks and pilgrims just strolling in the city in their traditional outfits with their heads shaven clean. River was fascinated with the way the light bounced off their heads. She had even started calculating the trajectory of the light rebounding off their skulls and was ready to dive into physics of it all but she stopped when she saw Harry pretending to snore.
"Fine," she said, disgruntled. "Be uneducated."
"Gladly," Harry muttered.
They were dropped off about a mile away from where the factory was supposed to be and Harry was beginning get an odd sensation in his gut. It was one he recognized really well; the sense of trouble.
The white star had almost set and the city was bathed with an orange hue. It reminded Harry of the numerous sunsets he had seen in London while wallowing in self-pity on the roof of Grimmauld place number 12.
"Who is Sirius?" River asked snapping him out of his memories.
"What!?" he replied startled.
"That name has been on your mind for the last six minutes and ten seconds," she said with an intent gaze.
Harry mentally checked his shields and realized that River was getting more adept at sneaking in albeit it was just the surface. The pressure was still there but her probes were more refined and stronger now. It was surprising that he hadn't noticed it all this time.
"Are you still reading everyone around you?" he asked her curiously after strengthening his occlumency shields further.
"Not as much as before," she admitted.
"I don't know why but I don't have a good feeling about this meeting."
"It's a trap," she said in a matter of fact tone.
Harry jerked to a stop and he gave River an incredulous look. "What the gorram hell do you mean?"
River shrugged and continued to walk.
Harry just stared at her retreating back before hurrying ahead and catching up with her. He looked around for a place they could talk but it was all offices and more offices.
He stopped a couple of woman and asked them for directions to some place where they could eat.
"Just keep going south and take a left when you reach the 24th main," they said simultaneously and exchanged amused glances and started giggling.
Harry just thanked them and dragged River along to what turned out to be another café. Harry didn't know if it was just him but he hadn't seen a single pub or bar anywhere since they had arrived on the planet. It was all about silk, coffee and religion and being rich.
They took a seat in a corner and Harry immediately rounded on River, "Now what do you mean it's a trap?" he whispered harshly.
River gave him a look and beckoned the waiter over smiling at him prettily.
"A cappuccino and a black forest please," she ordered.
"And you?" the waiter asked Harry.
"The same," he said impatiently.
"Now trap?" Harry asked, annoyance seeping into his voice with the lack of reaction from the reader.
"They're smugglers on a planet where smuggling is one of the most dangerous professions to even consider. If they get caught they won't be tried, they'll be sent to Osiris to be put to death."
"So," Harry said carefully, "Is the trap Alliance made or by the smugglers?"
"By the smugglers you idiot," River sighed. "Honestly don't you pay attention?"
"Pay attention to what? You?" he said snorting.
River rolled her eyes, "You're so distracted all the time," she said pityingly. "If you look you can see."
Harry was beginning to get a headache.
"Alright, why are the smugglers setting up a trap?" he asked her calmly.
River shrugged, "How am I supposed to know that? What am I, a mind reader?" she said condescendingly. Her mood brightened when her black forest arrived.
Harry sighed. "And here I thought you were getting better," he said under his breath.
"I am," she said through a mouth full of cake.
The pair spent the next few hours in the café and Harry was beginning to admire River's eating capacity.
"Simon is going to blame me for sure when he sees you all bloated like a balloon," he told River grinning.
"I've had a high metabolism since I was a kid," she said and daintily wiping her lips clean.
Harry found his gaze drawn to her lips but he quickly shook himself and checked the time. "It's almost eleven," he said, "Time to get going."
Harry cleared the bill and they quickly made their way towards the outskirts of the city. It didn't take them long to spot the factory. It was probably a mile outside the city and there was nothing else around the factory and Harry was beginning to understand how easy it would be to set up a trap in such a desolate area. The factory itself gave macabre a new definition.
"River," Harry said. "What do you think about splitting up?"
"Because I'm getting the feeling it really is a trap," he said.
"So split up and go where?" she asked looking at the rundown factory. "There seems to be only one entrance."
"Can you fight without being triggered?"
River frowned, "Maybe."
"Yes or no?" he asked seriously.
"Well," she said, the tone of her voice suggesting uncertainty.
"Okay," Harry interrupted. "I'm going to go in through the front and you find another way in. Do you know what a chokehold is?"
Faster than Harry could react River swung behind him wrapped her arm around his neck and had him on his knees in the blink of an eye. Dark spots started to cloud Harry's vision.
"Okay!" he managed to choke out, "Okay!" River let go and Harry inhaled deeply welcoming the flood of air in his lungs.
River looked surprised but pleased with her reaction.
"I take it you know then," he said hoarsely rubbing his neck. "Now find another way in. You're good at sneaking around so anyone else you find in that factory you take them out."
"You mean kill them?"
"No, no, just knock them out," he added hastily. "I'll go in through the front and deal with Mr Roger. And if they have any weapons on them take them and cover me alright?"
"Right," Harry said taking a deep breath to calm his nerves. "Are you sure you're up for this?"
River nodded again. "A little work out is just what I need right now."
"Alright then. Let's go."
And just like that, the two less than normal teenagers split up and headed into their first illegal business meeting. Both were excited and a little tense but neither of them was a pushover in a fight. They had a supernatural edge over their opponents and a desire to complete their first job successfully.
Not a sound penetrated the darkness around the factory and the only light to rely on was from the two moons in the sky. Harry found it surreal to see two moons which were each in a different phase and position when he was so used to seeing just one moon back on Earth.
He reached the entrance way to the factory and saw that one of its large doors was hanging by a single hinge and the other lying on the ground. Harry noticed a number of footprints on the dust covered door confirming the presence of the smugglers and after taking a deep breath he stepping inside, navigating his way around the broken machinery towards the dim light radiating from inside the factory.
River went around the factory and found no other entrances except for the one Harry had gone through. Looks like it had to be going in from a window then, she deduced. But the windows were high and there were no visible ladders or emergency exits anywhere.
"No wonder the factory seems to have burnt down," she scoffed. Her eyes roamed around looking for viable entry points until she finally found one. There was a rusted pipe running up to the roof but there was a window a feet to its right and about twenty feet above the ground.
It was a piece of cake for River. The only fact she bemoaned was that her shirt and pants would get dirty; it was something she was hoping to avoid. Pushing the tragedy of her clothes to the back of her mind she shined up the pipe like a monkey without a tail, grabbed a hold of the window sill and swung herself inside. She held on to the sill hanging there while her eyes got accustomed to the little moon light streaming in through the holes in the ceiling.
There was nothing to step onto inside and River hauled herself up and sat there searching for a way to get inside. She could make out a steel stairwell but it was a little too far for her to jump on and further inside she could make out a room which was lit up and there were people inside.
The smugglers, she thought. She had to hurry.
Above her there were quite a few pipes running through the entire factory and one of them felt close enough for her to jump and hang onto. She then grabbed a hold of the top of the window and stood up on the sill. Knees bent, eyes focused she jumped and in one smooth motion caught a hold of the pipe and with the momentum of her body she wrapped her legs around the pipe and began to move towards the stairwell.
One, two and three; 3 men standing outside the room with the light talking and none of them were armed. She could make out Harry and two other men inside talking. Once she was close enough she let go of the pipe and landed with a slight thump on the stairwell and immediately crouched and silently moved down.
The men didn't even see her coming. A hand emerged from the shadows striking one man behind his neck and he went to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Before the man beside him could respond to the sudden attack another hand wrapped around his neck in a powerful chokehold and the third thug found an arm wrapping around his face. He didn't even have the time for the rush of fear to fill his body before his head twisted and neck snapped.
Three seconds was all it took. One second for each thug.
River stood over the two unconscious men and one dead with a deadly look in her wide eyes. She might be small, she might look frail but every muscle and every bone in that body was trained for combat.
Her mind began to sense agitation from the remaining smugglers and she quickly hurried to the open door and hid there listening to the conversation quietly.
"I don't rutting care about Fanty and Mingo!" Roger said in a heated voice. "If they think they can send gorram kids to negotiate with us and expect us to cooperate then they've got another thing coming!"
Harry sighed. This guy had some serious issues, he thought irritably. He was literally on the edge of losing control and only the promise of credits was keeping him sane. Harry wondered what could make this man lose control and the only reasonable answer Harry could come up with was that the alliance was onto him and he needed the money to go underground or into space.
"You should care," Harry said dangerously. "Because if we don't contact them soon and if he doesn't get his cargo they are going to get angry and I'm sure you know what happens to people that screw them over don't Mr Roger."
"Shut up!" he screamed and pulled out a pistol. "Steve, make the gorram call!"
"Put it down Roger," Harry warned. "Let's do what's best for all of us. You just hand be those cases and let's just call it a night."
Just as Roger's trembling hands began to squeeze the trigger a knife flew past Harry and embedded itself in his hand.
It was the cue for Harry to act.
A scream tore through Roger's mouth and was silenced as Harry's elbow smashed into his throat. His partner Steve pulled out his own piece but a swift kick by River in his chest ended it.
Roger on the other hand was cradling his hand and choking in one corner of the room. Harry heaved a sigh and dragged one of the suitcases to check their contents.
A code was required to open it.
"What the code Roger?" Harry asked him but the man just glared at Harry.
River breezed past him and grabbed a fist full of his hair and slammed him into the wall. "The code?"
"5356," he managed to rasp before River slammed his head against the wall once more and he lost consciousness.
Harry looked at the girl in amazement. "Violent much?" he asked her.
River shrugged. "It's involuntary," she replied. "Much like muscle memory."
Harry shook his head at the reasoning and punched in the code. The case opened with a hiss along with a good amount of vapour.
He gasped when he looked at the contents of the case. "These are cocoons!"
"These are artificially produced," River said with a critical eye. "Judging by the size and colour and," she picked one up and gently pressed it, "and strength, these are high grade cocoons. And considering the way they were stored these may have been very recently engineered."
"Wow," was all Harry could say. Suddenly their mission seemed a lot more dangerous and Harry could see why Roger was so on the edge. He quickly shut the case, locked it and gestured at River to pick one while he took two. "Let's get out of here."
"Shouldn't we kill them?" River said.
"Let Fanty and Mingo deal with them," he said. "But if they had mentioned what kind of goods they had, I'm sure the twins would have offered them a lot more and come to think of it, us too."
When they left the room one of the men River had dealt with outside was stirring but not for long as River lashed out with her boot.
Harry raised an eyebrow at her actions.
"What?" she said defensively. "All of them were scum."
"I hope you didn't kill anyone," he said warily.
"Of course not," River said, sounding like the very idea of her killing someone was unimaginable.
Harry found himself not believing her one bit but it didn't bother him. He was just happy with the success of the first part of their mission.
As they walked back to the city Harry realized that the thought of killing didn't trouble him at all. During the war the very thought of killing used to make him sick and they avoided killing the enemy as much as possible but now, now he found himself not caring if River had ended anyone's life. Even he, Harry Potter, once known as a beacon of light, the saviour of the wizarding world was ready to kill those men if the need arose.
He wondered if it was just the way this future was or was it because he had already killed a lot of men and seen so much death that now it didn't bother him at all. Or was it the nightmares? Just the thought of the nightmares sent a shiver down his spine. The nightmares had stopped plaguing his dreams but he dreaded the moment when they came back.
"What's wrong?" River asked him. She could sense the darkness of the thoughts racing through his mind even if she couldn't read them.
"Nothing," Harry said quickly, snapping out his morose thoughts.
"What's next?" she asked.
"Well hopefully Mal and Kaylee are done with their part of the job. We have to take these cases and load it onto a ship heading out of Sihnon."
River frowned, "Security will detect it," she said.
Harry smiled. "That's why we're not loading the cargo on the ship. It's going to be below the ship."
River's frown deepened and then she understood. "Oh, and then Serenity will snag the goods in space itself!"
"Exactly," Harry said. "The Alliance has a thorough security check when it comes to passengers and their luggage but why would they bother looking under the ship unless it's for maintenance. Kaylee is setting up a secure retaining cage on its underbelly and all we have to do is sneak in, find the ship and secure the cargo."
River could spot a dozen gaping holes in the plan and her face said it all.
Harry decided to elaborate. "The ship will be one which will land before four, three hours from now. They are going to observe the timetable of the ships coming to Sihnon and accordingly modify the necessary one. Obviously we can't slide these cases in, so we have to find a box of the correct dimensions, put these case in them and secure those boxes."
"But," began River but Harry cut her off. "These boxes are found in abundance in an Alliance airbase and it's a not hard to find an empty one."
"But," River said again and now Harry didn't have anything more to say. "How are we going to get there?" she said finally. "There are no cabs that operate this late at night."
Harry's confident attitude faltered. They hadn't thought of that. "Well I guess we're going to have to steal a vehicle."
He turned back and looked at the factory which was quite a distance away now. "I'm sure those morons had a vehicle," he muttered. "Did you spot anything when you circled the factory?" he asked River.
River shook her head. "Let's look around," she said. "We're at the edge of the city and they must have hid their vehicle somewhere nearby."
Fifteen minutes later they got lucky and found an open top speeder parked within a grove of coconut trees.
"See," Harry said with a broad grin and they dumped the cases in the back. "No problem!"
River rolled her eyes and made for the driver's seat but both her and Harry's hand closed over the handle at the same time.
"I'm driving," Harry said firmly.
"Do you even know how to?" countered River and she tried shoving him away but Harry stood firm.
"Of course," Harry lied.
"You're lying," River said. "Move!"
"No you move," Harry said and tried to jump inside. River caught a hold of his shirt and jumped in too and there was a mad scramble for the seat, each trying to push the other into the other seat.
"Okay stop!" Harry hissed. Both were crapped up side by side on the seat.
"Do you yield?"
"Of course not," Harry snapped. "But we don't have time to argue so you drive now and halfway I'll take over, deal?"
"Deal," River bit back. "Now get out of my seat."
Harry climbed over her and didn't bother to be gentle as his knees dug into her thigh. River suppressed the wince that threatened to overcome her and this time she successfully shoved him away.
River huffed and straightened out her shirt. "Look how dirty my shirt is," she complained. "Next time you're doing the dirty work."
"Well nobody told you to wear white now did they," Harry retorted.
River ignored him and pushed a button on the steering igniting the engine and pushing the speeder into the air. She then put the speeder in reverse and eased out of the grove. The two were forced back into their seats when River changed gears and shot away like a rocket.
Nearly two hours later two very happy teenager had parked the speeder a little distance away from the airport and slowly got out of the vehicle.
"That was fun," Harry said smiling broadly. The wind had done wonders to their hair. Harry's was comically standing at attention and River who had managed to maintain her fringe for so long, which was so very hard for her, was now missing and her hair looked like it had been sucked by a vacuum from behind.
They hauled the suitcases out from behind and quietly cut through the forest and hurried towards the main entrance. There was no way they could enter from anywhere else. The security measures put up around the airbase were top class and strolling in was the only option they had and that was why Mal had wanted Harry and River to be the ones to pull this off.
There was an entrance for authorized personals beside the departure terminal and the pair quietly hid behind the trees going over the plan once more.
"I'm going to make that guard open the door and have him prop it up for us," Harry whispered as they scanned the area looking for signs of moment.
"I'll be out of it so once he does it you have to rush inside while I make him walk away and I'll follow you in."
"Won't he realize that something is wrong?" River questioned.
"No," Harry replied, "He won't remember it but he'll be disoriented, that is why our timing has to be precise."
"What about cameras?"
"They don't have cameras everywhere. Mal and I worked it out. The good this about the Alliance is that they have no imagination. All their bases are absolutely alike in every way. A little tour of the airbase at Ariel showed us where the cameras are placed and how best to avoid them."
"This is Sihnon Harry," River said sceptically. "I'm sure their security will be tons better than any around the verse!"
"When it comes to the cargo, yes," Harry said smugly. "The rest is the same and that is exactly why we aren't smuggling our goods as cargo. We're going to sneak inside as normal employees, find the right ship and secure our goods. Then it's a matter of getting out and waiting."
"I can still see dozens of holes in this plan you know," she said.
"Well it's the only one we've got so deal," Harry retorted. "Plus we have a super advantage of having you and me."
River stared at him, her big blue eyes penetrating his own.
Harry began to feel a little uncomfortable at the intense look when she suddenly blinked and said, "You mean just me then."
Harry grinned and swallowed his retort. They had work to do after all.
"Alright let's get to it then," he said. He opened his bag and removed two blue Alliance jump suits and caps. "Put it on," he said.
"I'm not going to change in front of you!" River said affronted.
"Put it on top of your own smart ass."
And finally they were ready. Harry took a deep breath and the pair quietly slunk towards the gates and hid behind the enormous pillars on the outside.
"Ready?" he whispered and River nodded.
Harry sat down and a few seconds later his head fell limp. River watched the guard stumble before he righted himself and looked around. She watched as he made his way to the restricted door and with a practiced motion slid his card through the slot and watched the door clink open. The guard then propped the door with a pen, dropped his key card inside and began to walk away towards the other end of the cab parking.
Harry's head jerked up when the guard was sufficiently out of sight and River wasted no time in dragging him up and hurrying in. Harry threw the pen outside for the guard to find and just as the guard came back into sight, a little disoriented, the door clicked shut.
Infiltration was a success and River beginning to go catatonic was a success too. The corridors were narrow and white and the minute River saw them her eyes went wide and her hands began to quiver.
Harry looked at her in horror.
"River! Not now! Oh god River, RIVER!"
He grabbed her face and looked into her eyes, her eyes which were radiating terror. A glimpse into her mind sent a sharp stab of pain in his own. Her mind was a whirlwind of emotions and for a moment shock overtook him as the intensity of being in River's mind was too much. Suddenly her reasons for breaking down were beginning to make much more sense but for the moment he buried those thoughts and did the only think that did make sense at the moment.
He reared his hand and delivered a sharp slap to River's cheek.
River's hand stopped shaking and the terror in her eyes gave way to fury. It was a remarkable change and Harry raised his hands defensively and backed away. "If you're done freaking out can we move on?"
Fury gave way to confusion and then comprehension.
Harry was glad her panic attack had stopped as swiftly as it came and they moved along without saying a word.
They continued their journey through the labyrinth like corridors and it was a good five minutes later when River chose to break the silence.
"It was the white walls," she whispered.
"I figured," Harry replied and that was it. They had to use the guard's key card a few more times avoid a few officials until they finally reached the hangers.
It was quite a magnificent complex. Massive ships parked diagonally, sparks flying as mechanics made repairs and modifications to a few ships, innumerable tools hanging from the ceilings inside the hangers, a powerful jet of water directed unto a smaller ship cleaning it thoroughly and the most impressive of all, the gargantuan hydraulic lift, taking the transport ships one level below the ground and one level above the ground.
Harry looked to his left from his crouched position to talk to River only to realize that she was not there!
"River?" he whispered in panic, his eyes darting around frantically.
He spotted her near one of the ships with a delighted expression on her face as she trailed her fingers on his body.
"Oh for merlin's sake!" he cursed and hurried after her while trying to stick to the shadows.
He roughly grabbed her arms and pulled her away. "River, this is not the time and place for acting eccentric!"
"Let go of me," she warned yanking her arm away.
Harry narrowed his eyes. "Will you stop acting like that? We have a job to do so focus," he hissed angrily.
"You're the one acting like that, whatever that is," River hissed back.
"Whatever," growled Harry, pushing his anger down with his occlumency and he felt River's constant pressure on his shields increase a notch. "Look," he said. "The ships coming in are first parked over there to be cleaned before they are taken to be refuelled and finally to be restocked. We need find the ship and load the cargo before it's taken back for departure."
"There are five ships being cleaned right now and one is being restocked," River said clearly, her earlier bout of anger forgotten. "It's ten past four right now so our ship should be there now," she said pointing towards the cleaning area where about ten workers were bustling about getting the interiors ready for another journey.
"That means loading the goods there is out of the question. We'll have to do it when it moves."
"That will be hard," River said frowning. "But first we have to find the right container don't we?"
Harry nodded and gestured her to follow him and hiding in the shadows of the ships they made their way to the hangers.
"We need a four by four container," he said quietly. "They should be at the end of the hanger, in the store room."
Finding the container and securing the suitcases inside was not a problem. Carrying it across the yard stealthily was.
"Remind me again, why we didn't use one of those fork lift trucks?" panted River.
"Because we don't know how to use them and it would be too suspicious," Harry grunted, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
"And two teenagers lugging a heavy container from one end to another is not suspicious at all," she muttered under her breath.
"Will you stop your whining and keep moving. You're criticism is not helping!"
River chose to mumble insults under her breath.
They had to take the long way around to avoid the lights and by the time they made it both teens felt like collapsing.
"Why was the container so heavy!" gasped Harry, taking in deep breaths.
River had her hands on her knees as she brought her laboured breath back to normal. "We have to hurry," she said wearily. "Our ship is moving."
"What?" Harry said frowning. "How'd you know it's our ship?"
River responded by pointing at the bottom of the ship where a cage like structure was visible. It didn't look like much and they wouldn't have spotted it if they didn't know it was there.
Harry grabbed his end of the container. "Let's go!" he cried and with a groan River lifted her end and together they hurried after the ship. They ran as fast as they could for the ship was heading to be refuelled and that was simply a two man job. It was easier to be undetected unlike the cleaning and restocking points.
It seemed luck was on their side.
"Don't make a sound," Harry whispered as they edged closer and closer to the cage. Harry was praying they wouldn't be seen because if they were, he knew escape would be almost impossible, even with their abilities. He was so nervous that he could feel the blood gushing all through his body and for a moment he felt like he could hear River's heart racing too.
Both of them were beginning to fear getting caught, now that they were so close to completing the mission.
The loud sound of the fuel pump masked the sound of their footsteps and as silently as possible they put down the container near the cage. There were three men chatting a few feet away from them with their backs towards the two.
Harry glanced at River and exchanged a nod. She turned kept an eye on the workers while Harry began to unfasten the bindings on the cage.
It didn't take long.
Kaylee had done a marvellous job of keeping things simple and a few minutes later they had loaded the container in and sealed it in.
The mission was a success and now all that remained was to escape undetected.
Harry, sporting a broad smile, signalled at River to follow him. They were so happy with the completion of their task that they didn't notice a fourth man come out of the ship.
The man had come out for some fresh air after making sure the fuel gauges were functioning normally and noticed two workers slinking away from the ship.
There was no else supposed to be on duty in this area so he ran towards them calling out but the noise of the fuel pump was too loud and they didn't hear him.
Harry and River shockingly didn't detect the man's presence until his hand closed over Harry's shoulder.
"Hey you," began the man but then something happened and his world turned to darkness.
Harry literally felt his heart jump into his throat when he felt the hand on his shoulder and he spun around swinging his arms wildly. The only problem was instead of him hitting the man, the man was flung away from him and he crashed into the bushes a good twenty feet away.
River stared at Harry in shock and Harry himself was stunned.
He had felt it, just for a moment, the slither of power flowing through his veins and out of his hands.
Had he just channelled his magic without a wand?!