Anything you recognise is either JK's, George's or Disney's. Anything else probably belongs to them too.
The CorSec officer huffed at my question. "Your profile is a mess of contradictions. Contradictions that I'm positive you've deliberately portrayed to confuse the issue!"
I chuckled at his frustration, and turned the carpet towards the metropolitan centre where my lawyers were waiting. "Like your partner said, I'm an agent of chaos."
Horn sighed. "Well, it's not like I can arrest you now; you'd just let me plummet to my death."
"There was a time I wouldn't," I replied easily. "Now… Let's just say I wouldn't go out of my way to assist anyone who wishes me harm."
He was silent for a time. "Someone really hurt you, didn't they?"
The question was not one I was prepared to answer. "I got my knuckles rapped a few times as a kid, yes."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know. Have you decided?" I turned to look at him after not receiving an answer for a few moments.
He looked uncertain. "Decided what? Whether or not to arrest you?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, have you decided where you want me to drop you off? I'm meeting my lawyers here," I said, angling the datapad so he could see my destination. "It's supposedly a secure building for high-profile trials and other matters of justice. Apparently they've reserved a room there."
Horn nodded. "I know it. I really should stay with you."
"Righty-ho. Is your life insurance all paid up? Your will notarised?"
He glared at me.
"What? They're legitimate questions, since you're consciously choosing to hang around someone with half the galaxy gunning for them," I finished, doing my best to mimic Horn's voice and accent.
He sighed. "Fine. Unless I'm on the guest list, I won't be allowed through the front door with you anyway. There's a CorSec facility a few klicks away from your destination. You can drop me off there." He glanced back at the ball of smoke that hung where his skiff had died. "I need to report that I'm alive."
"If you want to track down the hunters that blew up your ship, you could see who tries to claim the bounty on me."
"Don't tell me how to do my job!" Horn snapped. "I don't come to your work and tell you how to make everyone else's life a living hell!"
I turned a brilliant smile on him. "A joke! You made a joke! A bit pedestrian, true, and the delivery could use some work, but a joke nonetheless. Well done. From what Halcyon said, I'd never have guessed you had it in you."
"Are you ever serious?"
I shrugged. "On occasion. When I need to be. If there's nothing life-threatening around, I don't see the point."
Horn remained silent for a while, only speaking to give me directions to the CorSec operation. Below us the cities sprawled, clearly delineated by areas set aside as natural habitat. It was encouraging to see after the sterile glory of Coruscant.
I adjusted our course so as to avoid the elongated streams of speeders following a handful of set paths. Horn appeared worried about that. "I'm surprised that no one has flown over to investigate this contraption," he said. "Surely someone would have seen us, and we're very exposed."
"I doubt it. The Yaxleys went to a fair bit of effort to remain undetected when it was in use."
"The previous owners of this carpet. I stole it from them about three years ago."
"Ignoring the blatant attempt at baiting me, why did they expend effort to go undetected?"
I gave a snort of amusement. "Because flying carpets are highly illegal where I come from."
Horn processed that for a moment. He looked down and jabbed a finger into the material. "It feels solid enough, and despite my reservations, it seems relatively safe. Why are they illegal?"
I shrugged. "Officially? Because their creation has nothing in the way of quality control that can be measured, regulated, and of course taxed, by the local government officials of my country."
"Protectionism, of course," I replied derisibly. "If every family had one of these, no one would bother paying the exorbitant annual fees for side-along-apparition licences."
Horn actually chuckled. "Governments are filled with the same types everywhere, it seems."
We managed to keep a cordial conversation going for half an hour or so. The Notice-Me-Not charms embedded in the carpet by the Yaxley family worked a treat, allowing us to land in a nearby alley without anyone deigning to investigate.
Horn rolled off the material and onto the ground with the demeanour of someone who never intended to lift both feet from it ever again.
I cast a detection charm on the carpet and nodded without surprise at the result.
"That was particularly unpleasant," Horn groused as he rose to his full height.
"Mmhmm," I hummed, not agreeing or disagreeing. I flipped one edge of the carpet over and tugged off the tiny mechanical device glowing under my magic. I turned to look in his eyes and sent forth a tendril of Legilimency. "Here, I'd appreciate it if you took your tracking devices with you."
To his credit, he didn't react, but I felt the sensation of falsehood through my magic. "My what?"
"The bugs and things you put on me," I repeated. "Just take them. I'm going to disable them once we part ways anyway; you may as well take them with you. Think of it as saving taxpayer credits."
He accepted the tiny bug with barely a grimace. "It would be safer for everyone if we knew where you were while on Corellia," he said, trying to justify himself.
He was telling the truth as he saw it, but I wasn't in the mood. "All of them," I insisted, figuring there's be at least one more on me.
"I only placed the one," he lied.
I raised an eyebrow. "I tell you what, if I scan for them on me and there are no more, I'll give you my entire itinerary. I'll even give you advance warning if I ever intend to visit Corellia again in the future. But if I find any, the only way you'll know I'm back is by watching the news."
He suppressed a shiver at the thought. "Fine," he grumbled, and pulled a similar object from the lining of my cloak. "There's another one in that pocket, but I'd sooner take up rancor dentistry than retrieve it myself."
I pulled the lip away, and looked inside. It was pretty easy to spot.
"Here. Is that all you had? Just three?"
"That's all," he groused, truthfully. "Just one of those is worth more than I earn in a month. I don't normally carry around such expensive equipment."
I nodded and bent over. I rolled the carpet up and tapped it with my wand, shrinking it back to pocket size.
"That is disturbing on so many levels," said Horn.
I gave a soft bark of laughter. "Yeah, I'd get in all sorts of trouble back home for doing that in front of a muggle… an ordinary person," I replied as I rose and replaced the carpet.
"Funny, the way you act, I'd have assumed you were above the law," he said, his tone leaving my imagination nothing to do to work out how he felt about that.
I grinned at him. "Fishing for more data for my profile?"
Horn glared at me. "Of course I am. You are the most singularly dangerous individual I have ever heard of. Force users around the galaxy may be more powerful, but at least their abilities are documented and studied. You do things that no one considers possible. Things that mean you can bypass every security protocol we have. Every instinct I have is screaming that I should arrest you now and let my superiors sort out what happens to you!"
I tried to quash my rising anger with humour. "Ah, the old 'kill them all and let God sort them out' cowardice. Has that proposal ever gained the support of those on the receiving end? In the entire history of the galaxy?"
"Maybe I should take your advice and sacrifice my career for the greater good by killing you now?"
I stared at him. My ire flared the instant he used the phrase 'for the greater good', but I caught it before I responded undiplomatically. It couldn't be a coincidence that he was pushing all my buttons. He was doing exactly what I'd done to Tobril, making me angry to get me reacting in an honest, if dangerous way. "You really want me to be pissed off with you, don't you?"
Horn took a breath and let it out slowly. In a soft voice he murmured, "No. No sane person would. You perform miracles, physically impossible feats, and have an obscene amount of financial power, but little in the way of evident morals. How are we supposed to deal with you?"
I shrugged. "That depends. Does it take you being in a position of power over someone before you treat them respectfully?"
"Of course not!"
"You sure? Think carefully."
He scowled. "You act like an untouchable child, and you expect me to treat you with respect?"
"Expect? Hardly. There are precious few people who have ever consistently treated me with respect. Perhaps that's why I have no qualms about making trouble for people who don't, but go out of my way to protect those who do."
He didn't respond.
I shrugged. "Food for thought."
I left Horn at his facility, wandering off around a corner and apparating to a nearby roof. I threw out some privacy charms, and extracted my bike. Once it was engaged, I pulled off Tobril from the band on my wrist and reversed the transfiguration on him.
I tucked his unconscious form into the sidecar. With a roar and a cloud of blue smoke, we pulled off and rose into the sky. Once airborne, I pulled out the datapad with the directional program and stuck it to the handlebars.
I flicked my wand at Tobril and watched with amusement as he went through the internal checklist of slowly waking, bleary observation, and then rigid terror at being hundreds of feet up in the air.
"Morning!" I shouted cheerily.
Tobril managed to turn his head to me, despite being rigid with fright. "What?"
"Good morning," I repeated. "We're on Corellia."
He whimpered a bit. "I thought you were going to smuggle me down in a container or something. Why did you knock me out?"
"I stunned you, I didn't knock you out," I clarified. "And that's the way I smuggle people," I replied without explaining. "Do you have a headache?"
"Good," I said with finality. "You're fine. We're nearly there. Our lawyers are meeting us in one of the main justice buildings. Hold on," I said, and let the bike leap forward.
Riding it had been a source of great joy to me over the years. It had neatly capped both ends of my imprisonment at Privet Drive; it transported me there in '81 and I'd permanently left on the same bike (and in the exact same company) sixteen years later. After Arthur had fixed it up in his own unique way, he presented it to me on my eighteenth birthday. Kingsley had been present at my party, blissfully unaware of the number of headaches the bike and I would give him over the years.
It was glorious to fully open the throttle and shoot through the sky with abandon. There were barely any other vehicles close by, though I could make out lines of them in more congested parts of the city.
After a too-short, but glorious flight, we arrived at our destination. The Bonnie's wheels squealed sharply as we descended to the pavement, causing many an interested party to turn and look. In a galaxy where even the most humble vehicles were equipped with repulsor coils, a machine designed to roll on the ground was cause for at least a second glance.
Tobril finally leaned back in the sidecar, letting his white-knuckled grip on the shell relax slightly. "I never want to fly in this thing again," he declared, the wavering in his voice trumping the forceful tone.
I smiled to myself, while busy looking for a place to park. The side of the building was filled with speeders of varying shapes, sized and colours. Most looked expensive, or at least, shiny and immaculately maintained.
I noticed Tobril looking at the speeders with awe and longing. "If you accept my job offer, you could probably afford any one of them you like in a month or so," I said.
"Assuming I survive," he mumbled.
I chuckled at his growing snark, and spotted two empty parking spots side by side. I pulled the Bonnie around and eased my way towards them.
An emerald-coloured, open-top speeder swung into the empty spots ahead of me in a manoeuvre that would have been accompanied, had it been traveling on wheels, by a loud screech and the smell of burning rubber. The driver stopped the vehicle on a diagonal and leapt from the front seat, unconcerned that she had taken up two spots.
I watched impassively as the familiar woman walked away, chatting animatedly with a hologram generated by a floating disk that followed along aside her.
Tobril pointed. "You can still easily squeeze in that gap. This speeder of yours is pretty small."
I pulled up behind the inconveniently parked vehicle and turned the Bonnie's engine off. "Just a second," I said neutrally as I swung my leg off the bike.
I walked over to the green speeder and pulled out my black lightsaber. With a flick, I ignited the weapon and held it out at arm's length, blade straight down.
Lining it up with the parking spot's delineation, I walked forward. With a long, sparking screech, I sliced off a chunky triangle from the rear corner of the speeder, a couple of feet wide at the apex, precisely the size of the part overhanging into the neighbouring parking spot. Half-way through the operation, the speeder's repulsor coils on that side failed. The thing tilted, the near side crashing to the ground.
A small number of nearby beings stopped to gawk. Without exception, they either began laughing or cheering.
I replaced my lightsaber in my coat pocket and levitated the detached corner over to the other side of the speeder's parking spot. I then turned and, to Tobril's vocal discomfort, levitated the Bonnie into the recently vacated spot.
I gestured at him to get out of the sidecar. To gratifying applause from the small crowd, we left the bifurcated vehicle and made our way towards the law offices.
Tobril looked back over his shoulder. "Won't those people back there just tell CorSec that you vandalised that speeder?"
I shook my head. "Trust me, no one is going to say they saw anything."
"Well, couldn't you have just moved it with the Force rather than cutting it in half?"
I faked an expression as though I'd just had an epiphany. "Huh, I suppose I could have. Why didn't you mention that before?"
"I didn't know you were going to slice a chunk off her speeder!"
I smiled knowingly at him. "It was justifiable."
"I don't think so!"
My smile didn't shift. "Want to bet you change your mind in the next few hours?"
He didn't answer, but looked at me suspiciously.
I shrugged as I pulled out a set of metal binders I'd taken from one of the old slave pens on Godric's Hollow. "Whatever. Here, put these on so no one bothers you." I tapped his shoulder with my wand, placing a Notice-me-not Charm on him.
He swallowed. "You're binding me?"
I sighed. "People will mostly ignore you now, but you're my bounty, remember? We still show up on scanners, so being unrestrained will look suspicious. Just put them on; you don't need to lock the sodding things. They're just for show. Now come on, Kenobi is waiting for us."
The transparent building façade revealed a significant security presence inside. Several queues of beings were lined up and efficiently scanned, disarmed and released to their business within the building's bowels – a fitting metaphor for a structure full of lawyers.
We joined one of the lines, both of us completely ignored by some individuals standing out the front scrutinizing everyone entering. For how thorough the screening was, the lines were moving surprisingly swiftly. I observed the process several times before nodding to myself. I rummaged around in a pocket and withdrew a small yellow pad of square, gummed paper that muggles on Earth were fond of using for taking notes.
"What's that?" Tobril asked.
"I need to write something down. Turn around, would you?"
He frowned, but obliged. Using his back as a makeshift table, I scribbled a short note. I read it over, grinned, and peeled off the small sheet.
"Thanks. Hold this for a second."
I handed Tobril the remaining pad and held the note in one hand. I waved my wand over it and transfigured the yellow square into a reasonable duplicate of my lightsaber. It should remain in that form for an hour or so.
Tobril's eyes widened. "What the… What was that?"
He looked confused for a second. "No! I mean, how did you do that? How did you change that paper into a lightsaber?"
"If you accept my job offer, you'll find out," I replied.
He grumbled a bit, but shut up.
The queue progressed. I flipped off my charmed hood and removed the charm on Tobril the moment before it was our turn to be called. We were ushered towards a security station. "Name?"
"Captain Harry of the Gryphon. This is Tobril Aesco. We're meeting with a Jedi named Obi-wan Kenobi, someone from a special prosecutor's office and the senior partners of Aldermann, Barton, Poincaire and Yelena."
He nodded with a professionally neutral face and tapped a screen. "This is a secure building. Please place all weapons in here," the guard said, pulling a transparisteel container out of a slot on the wall next to him. "They will be returned on your departure."
Merlin's balls, I loved this type of situation. I pulled the two blasters I'd liberated from Cad Bane from the holsters on my hips and dumped them in. I added a stun baton from my calf holster. Then, with a blank face the twins would have found impressive, I began reaching into my expanded pockets and pulling out blaster after blaster.
The guard frowned after the fifth weapon. His eyes went wide after the tenth. By the fifteenth, he had begun visibly perspiring.
I stopped at eighteen. I had more, but the guard's reaction had been delightfully satisfactory, and besides, there was no more room in the container. There was no need to push it further into absurdity.
He swallowed, looking at the pile of weapons that could in no way be concealed upon my person without space expansion charms. "Anything else?" he managed weakly.
"Well, there's this," I said with a faux-thoughtful tone, and pulled out my lightsaber.
He looked blankly at it. "What's that?"
I ignited the obsidian blade. The sound drew quite some attention. The security officer's eyes bulged. "My lightsaber."
I waved the glittering obsidian blade briefly before deactivating it and returning it to my pocket. He stared at me. "You're a Jedi? You don't need to go through security, Master Jedi."
I shook my head. "As convenient as that would be, I'm not a Jedi."
Suspicion flooded his features. "Then how did you get that lightsaber?"
"Spoils of war."
He narrowed his eyes, but pointed at the weapon crate. "It will have to go in."
I grinned, nodded, reached back into a different pocket and tossed in the transfigured note.
He didn't spot any difference. "Any other weapons?" he asked.
I dropped my holly wand into my hand. "Does this count?"
He frowned. "A stick?"
I shrugged. "Well, I could poke someone's eye out with it," I suggested, jabbing the point forward.
He rolled his eyes and jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "Go through the scanners, comedian."
I nodded amiably, and wandered through the indicated scanner. Tobril followed silently.
A short, fat, furry fellow with a face like a cross between a dog and a horse met me on the other side. He was shadowed by a pair of security droids that HK would no doubt dismiss with intense apathy. "Captain Harry… of the Gryphon?" he panted, fur around his neck puffed up.
I nodded. "Are you all right?"
He nodded. "My apologies, we were… not expecting you after… your ship left the… system without landing." He gulped a deep breath. "Jedi Kenobi informed us that you were… on the planet, despite the departure of the Gryphon. We were expecting to be notified… when you entered the… building. Not when you were… passing security."
That would explain the fellows out the front. I shrugged. "The Gryphon was a decoy. With so many people gunning for my head, I felt it prudent to take precautions."
"Oh, indeed, indeed," the fellow said. Once he looked as though he wouldn't faint, he rose to his full, yet unimpressive height of barely five feet. "Feylis Alya, at your service. I am a senior partner at ABPY, and one of Lord Barton's subordinates."
I nodded. "A pleasure. Is everything prepared for my arrival?"
"Indeed, sir. This way."
We were led deeper into the building, to an expansive set of elevators. Feylis picked one, and we all piled in. The glass box rocketed down vertically as though shot from a cannon into the ground; the inertial dampeners smoothing out the motion.
"All the most secure meeting rooms are in the subterranean levels," Feylis explained as the elevator stopped abruptly. He led us past another security checkpoint and deep into the underground office warren.
Our destination turned out to be a rather spacious and luxuriously appointed boardroom, with floor to ceiling viewscreens rotating through various different landscapes. Over a dozen individuals of a few different species were already in attendance, as well as another four holograms. All were impeccably dressed, present or not. Only Kenobi, sitting at the far end of the table, was clad in humble fashion. He nodded in greeting.
The rest all rose the moment I entered. "Ah, Captain Harry, I presume," one elderly fellow said in a booming voice that belied his frail appearance. "Welcome to Aldermann, Barton, Poincaire and Yelena."
I nodded at the greeting. "Thank you."
"Lord Rigel Barton, at your service," he introduced himself. He gestured to his left. "May I introduce Sarella Aldermann, Malachi Yelena and Count Poincaire."
Two and a half individuals bowed. One was a creature topping just four feet and covered in mostly grey fur. The next was a Selonian showing signs of advanced age. The last was a mess; originally human but, to my visceral discomfort, was part machine. A fairly significant percentage of him at that. It made my skin crawl just to look at him.
"A pleasure to meet you all," I responded, trying to keep my nausea to myself.
The cybernetic Poincaire cleared his throat, a rattling sound that gave the impression that the machines in his body were barely keeping him alive. "Before we begin Captain, we must first address our retainer. The ten million credits couriered by Jedi Kenobi covers the initial fee for the services of all four named partners, but our policy is that…"
I held up a hand. "Say no more. Here." I tossed a memory chip to Barton. "That has the details of the accounts that I intend to consolidate. My droid has put a program on it to start the transfer process once you point it at an account. Take the rest of your retainer out of the funds. I take it my request for financial services has been actioned?"
Barton gave a nod and handed the chip to Feylis. "Of course, Captain. We here at Aldermann, Barton, Poincaire and Yelena pride ourselves on our diligence to acting on our clients' requests."
Feylis attached the memory chip to a datapad. "Ah, I see. Yes here we are. Oh, that is very nice work. Your droid is exceptional. Transfer beginning. Excellent." He smiled after a couple of seconds and looked up at Poincaire. "Sir, necessary funds are deposited."
The cyborg gave a rattling, yet contented sigh. "Then we are, as they say, at your service, Captain. Lord Barton? If you would?"
Barton grinned a feral grin. "Would you care to sit, gentlemen? I am sure once you review our work to date you will be most satisfied."
I took the proffered seat and accepted a datapad. Tobril sat next to me, took off his binders and began looking feverishly through the one passed to him. Judging by the way his shoulders relaxed after a minute, he was satisfied with the terms within.
I flicked through the executive summary of my immunity deals. It all looked fine to me, though I had no real way of measuring the legal quality.
At the far end of the table Feylis cleared his throat. "Er, Captain, how much are you transferring today?"
"I don't have an exact figure. Why?"
The lawyer ran a clawed finger under his collar. "Well, um… I'm not sure… You see…"
Barton frowned. "Spit it out, Feylis!"
He looked up at his boss. "Well, I was able to use Captain Harry's recent acquisition of a Telgorn Station as evidence of him trading in such asset classes, via the Materiel Acquisitions Act. That enabled me to establish an account designed for use by corporations and high-wealth individuals to perform those trades. The balance in an active account is expected to be in the region of fifty to five hundred million credits."
"So what is the problem?" I asked.
"Well, there's… more."
That drew the attention of the holographic cyborg. "How much more?"
Feylis opened and shut his mouth a few times. "Well, er, it's still coming in."
"How much more?" Poincaire repeated.
"S-significantly more." Feylis looked up at me, eyes wide. "Where did you get…" he started.
"That's enough, Bothan!" the cyborg roared. The other named partners stared disapprovingly at Feylis.
Ah, so that's what a Bothan looked like. I could definitely see how the phrase 'rubbing the wrong way' would suit them. Feylis' fur rippled around his neck as he continued to tug at his collar, something I took as a sign of agitation.
He winced at the rebuke. "Yes, of course. My apologies."
"We do not ever inquire as to the source of our clients' wealth," Poincaire insisted, both explaining to me and chastising the employee.
"But sir, there's over seven billion credits transferred so far!"
"Then upgrade the account to the next tier," Poincaire snapped, as though the action was perfectly obvious. Turning to me, his voice turned smarmy. "Roughly how much are you expecting to transfer today, Captain?"
I shrugged, keeping my face nonchalant while wishing I could bottle this memory for later reviewing. "Thirteen."
"Thirteen billion credits?' Barton said, clearly impressed.
"Oh no." I smiled broadly. "Thirteen figures."
It took a few moments for realisation to strike. "Figures? You mean, a trillion credits?"
I waved a hand dismissively. "Two and a quarter trillion, give or take a hundred billion or so. Why?"
There was some synchronised coughing around the table that would have scored highly at the Expectoration Olympics. Feylis stared at me. "Er, really? Oh dear," he warbled, rather weakly.
"Is that a problem?"
"Explain!" Barton snapped, desperate to determine any problem with a client worth orders of magnitude more than the rest of their combined clientele.
"The financial institution I established the accounts with is not licenced to manage that sort of volume," Feylis said, his voice warbling.
Poincaire pounded the table and added, "Not to mention the inherent risk involved with holding that much liquidity with one institution." He turned and barked an order in another language at some other underlings, who all nodded and began tapping their datapads.
"Establishing holding accounts across multiple institutions, sir," one said, working feverishly. The others repeated the sentiment.
I frowned. "Sorry, are you saying that the bank you selected isn't big enough to handle my money, and that I need to use different ones?"
"Yes," he ground out. It immediately occurred to him that I may take offence to that, and thus blurted, "No! Well, not exactly." A pause. "Well, in essence, yes," he finished, slumping. "It's complicated."
I chuckled, less at the answer, and more at the sudden image of my best friend in that situation. I could vividly imagine his grin as he introduced himself as, 'Hi, I'm Ron Weasley. I have so much money I have to keep changing banks 'cause they keep getting filled up.'
Sorting out and delegating authority over my financial assets took some time. Poincaire in particular was quite adamant that I needed to cede access to my accounts to his team, so that they could take immediate action in the event of any external claim on the money.
I nodded and grinned like a gullible bumpkin, which caused a couple of the more cynical partners to look at me with suspicion. We eventually reached an agreement for Poincaire and four of his senior associates to have power of authority, where any action would take at least three of the five to approve it.
I passed a sheet of parchment and a quill across the table to the selected quintet, and requested that they each write their names, and that they agree to only act in my best interests. They appeared bemused at the archaic, formulistic request, but complied. No doubt they had acquiesced to far more eccentric requests from paranoid clients. Five names were dutifully scratched onto the enchanted sheet.
If any of them did break their agreement, they'd suffer worse that some spots spelling out 'SNEAK'.
Kenobi sat at the end of the long table in silence as we focused on sorting out Tobril's situation as the second agenda item. I expected him to wince at some of my questions and answers, but he didn't even sigh. Apparently, he was quite prepared to accept the sort of insanity that happens around me without as much as a facial twitch.
Eventually, armed with several datapads of statements, medical records and security footage, Lord Barton decided that everything was in place for Tobril to be handed over.
I told him to put his binders back on.
Let the show begin.
"Ah, Madame Burrell, how pleasant to see you again," Barton said with commendable faux-sincerity, rising to his feet and giving a perfunctory bow.
The Umbridge clone gave a smile fairly dripping with insincerity. "Lord Barton, a pleasure." Sparing the aged lawyer no further attention, she swept her gaze across the room. On spying Tobril, her face lit up like Christmas morning. "Ah, Mr. Aesco. How kind of you to visit Corellia." Turning to a droid following her, she snapped her fingers and pointed at him. "Identification protocol."
Tobril paled at the uncontained viciousness in her tone. He glanced at me uncertainly, and I gave him a wink as the droid scanned his eyes and beeped approvingly.
Burrell saw it, but apparently assumed it was a malicious action. "Yes, thank you Captain. I find myself pleasantly surprised at your efficiency. My associate here has our agreement."
"If I may," Barton said, imposing himself in front of Tobril. He took the proffered datapad and examined the contents. "The agreement checksum matches our version. It all appears in order. In return for delivering one Tobril Aesco into Madame Burrell's custody, immunity to certain charges are extended to Captain Harry of the Gryphon. Captain, if you would press your thumb here?"
I touched the indicated spot.
She pressed her thumb onto the spot.
"Excellent. This agreement is concluded. Thank you."
Burrell smiled like a cat. "Indeed. Mr. Aesco, my associates will escort you to an interview room."
Barton smiled back, his eyes glittering with anticipation. "And my associates will accompany him."
Her head snapped around so fast I could hear the vertebrae creak. "What?" she spat.
Barton assumed a pose of extreme satisfaction. "Mr. Aesco is a client of ours. As such, he is entitled to our presence at any and all interactions and interrogations performed by your office."
Drawing herself to her full height, Burrell spat, "I was not informed of this!"
Barton waved a hand in a lazy gesture. "Fortunately, that is merely a courtesy, not a necessity. Jedi Kenobi here shall likewise accompany our client, as an unbiased observer."
Kenobi rose to his feet.
Burrell looked confused for a second, but spun and glared at him. "A Jedi? Where were you two hours ago?" she demanded, her finger pointing at him like a stubby lightsaber.
To his credit, Kenobi took her wrath in his stride, merely raising an eyebrow at the question. "I have been in this room for the past three and a half hours, Madame. Is there a reason for your question?"
Her features twisted into a snarl. "Someone cut my speeder in half with a lightsaber!"
Tobril started coughing. I kept my face blank.
"A travesty," Barton said with believable commiseration. "However, it is irrelevant to our current business. You have your arrestee to question, and we have further business with Captain Harry. Thank you for your time, Madame."
"This is not over," she shouted as three of my lawyers ushered her from the room.
As the group left, I called out, "Tobril? My binders?"
"You'll get them back when I've…" Burrell snapped, trailing off as Tobril pulled them off and tossed them to me.
I caught them. "Cheers," I said with a wave.
"You're not secured?" shrieked Umbridge's twin as the door was closed firmly behind them.
Barton sat down with a satisfied groan. "Ah, that was satisfying. Beastly woman. Thank you for giving me that opportunity, Captain."
"My pleasure," I replied. I stared at him intently. "You were enjoying that far too much for there not to be history between you."
"True, but we are taking up your valuable time with billable hours, so perhaps we should continue?"
The rest of the afternoon was spent in tedious discussions, starting with the firm's billable hour rate. More specifically, the rate increase for the next several years.
To justify their avarice, Yelena herself had negotiated the release of the remaining funds from my last trip to Corellia. Clearly the local regulators were pissed at me, as I had to pay well over a billion credits in taxes and fines. Still, another one point eight billion credits was added to my hoard. It was pleasing to note that such a massive addition didn't make a change to my current net worth when rounded to three significant digits.
I knew that sucking trillions out of economies across the galaxy would have ruinous impacts. In an attempt to offset that, I handed Poincaire's team the list of corporations I'd just drained like a financial vampire. My instructions were simple; as these entities were on the verge of collapse, invest in any of their direct competitors. Many would need some quick seed money to ramp up their operations to fill the void their competitor left.
That should keep most of the local economies relatively stable. It was a public service, really. Any obscene profit I made was just the karmic result of me being such a generous soul.
The list made some of the partners very anxious. There was probably some conflict of interest involved; some of the corporations were registered in the Corellian system, so my lawyers may well have been their lawyers.
To discourage further representation, I pointed out that they were all fronts for the Black Sun, and that I had taken it upon myself to grind that organisation into the metaphorical dirt. In the interests of self-defence, of course.
Having a moderate-sized planet's defence budget gave my lawyers encouragement that I could succeed.
One of Aldermann's minions had managed to chase down and claim payment for all the outstanding bounties I'd collected on my trips to and from Naboo, though he'd been obliged to register me with one of the licenced bounty hunter guilds to do so. While some countries on Earth had various muggle licencing requirements for bail bondsmen and bounty hunters, there was nothing like an official guild in the magical world. If you wanted to be a bounty hunter, you took your life in your own hands and did so. It was odd to discover that I was an official bounty hunter, and expected to follow a set of rules, so long as I was actively hunting.
On the plus side, having successfully completed three bounties meant I was immediately through my provisional period. The remainder of the bounties I'd filled pushed me past the Journeyman rank as well. I was, in one fell swoop, a fully accredited bounty hunter, eligible to post bounties of my own via the guild's internal board.
I connected to the guild's system and set a bounty (of ten times the current figure on my head) in return for solid evidence of exactly who it was who wanted me dead in the first place. That should push a bit of heat back on whoever it was making my life more difficult.
Barton passed me another datapad. I felt my scalp tingle as I realised that my life was far more complicated than I knew.
"These are all the legal actions we have located pertaining to you and your ship. I am afraid that I cannot confirm that this is an exhaustive list, as most of them have been filed against you with a placeholder name," he explained.
I gave a slow nod. "Uh huh. That's because Captain Harry isn't a citizen of any world of this galaxy, I take it?"
Barton gave me a grin. "Just so. It may be possible to register your ship as Corellian, however I suspect that several regulatory agencies would tie any such request in myriad bureaucratic ways. In any event, this is the current list of legal actions against you we have identified."
I blinked as I flicked through the single spaced list that spanned multiple pages. I'd not willingly set foot in a courtroom since Fudge had the Wizengamot try me for underage magic use in front of a muggle. I would never admit to it being a phobia, but it was a very strong aversion to them. From the contents of the datapad, it looked like I'd be spending quite some considerable time in them. There was some involuntary bodily clenching as I scanned the seemingly endless list. "Merlin's balls, what are all these for?"
Barton leaned back in his chair, supremely comfortable with the situation. "Some two thirds are claims for damages. The raw total of those claims is in excess of a hundred billion credits, but the majority of them have no standing."
I jabbed an affronted finger into the screen at one group of suits. "I was attacked on the station up there! HK fought them off, and I'm the one they're coming after for damages?" I spat.
Barton nodded amiably. "Well, yes. You're the one with the deep accounts, after all. However, I would not worry unduly. Even those that have a valid basis, the initial claim is almost always inflated beyond reasonableness. I'm confident we can negotiate the various figures down close to zero."
I raised an eyebrow. "Colour me sceptical. How do you intend to do that?"
He smirked at me like a nundu encountering a group of hapless wizards. "I would insist that the various parties conduct the negotiations in person, with you as well as ABPY in attendance. That is a right afforded everyone on Corellia. Refusal is grounds for appealing any action."
"And?" I asked after a moment of silence.
Barton actually snorted. "Captain, what do you think will happen when the various law firms realise that to progress these claims, they will have to publicly host – on their premises – an individual with million-credit bounty on his head."
I thought about that for a moment and gave a nod of appreciation. "You are an utter bastard. I like that, it reminds me of me."
The lawyer preened. "Thank you, Captain."
Feeling somewhat better, I skimmed through the rest of the list, trying to get an idea of the scope of the problem. A large number of the actions were crossed out at the bottom. "What are these?"
Barton craned his neck. "Ah yes. Those are actions that have been withdrawn willingly. The majority were claims on assets on the Telgorn Station you now possess." He paused, considering something. "It is rather surprising that they were withdrawn before we had a chance to respond. That happens so rarely. Did you make a statement or speak with anyone to offer compensation during the past week?"
"No, I've been on Godric's Hollow since…" I started, before the image of HK slaughtering the upper echelons of a galaxy-spanning criminal empire entered my mind. The same criminal empire that had previously owned the station. "Um, you know what? Never mind. I think I know why people with an interest in Black Sun assets suddenly decided not to pursue them. I don't suppose there any lawsuits from Mustafar or Ord Mantell?"
Barton frowned. "We did not search any jurisdictions beyond the Republic. Any action on Ord Mantell would only show up on searches of that sector." He turned to one side. "Mustafar?" he asked one of the lawyers.
"A Techno Union planet," the fellow supplied. "It has no chartered judiciary. Any civil action would be pursued in a system selected by the central Coruscant court."
"There you are," Barton offered. "Any action from Mustafar would be delegated by the central courts. We would have veto power if the system was nominally hostile to your interests, so do not worry unduly. You did not mention visiting those planets. Is there any reason we should be vigilant?"
I shrugged. "I didn't, but some of my employees did. They… were somewhat indiscriminate in their actions. I'm told about eighty percent of an Ord Mantell spaceport was rendered inoperable during the excitement. And the Black Sun is currently headless, as are its previous leaders, who were housed on Mustafar."
There were at least three audible swallows from the assembled lawyers. "I see."
I gave Barton another one of my bright smiles that always seemed to make people nervous. "Moving on. What are these other ones? You said most were claims for damages. What about the rest?"
"Er, yes, well… The remainder are mostly claims of infringement on technology patents or protective orders."
He hummed an agreeing sound. "Judicial orders to remain a specified distance from specific individuals or assets, on pain of arrest."
I nodded. Those I could understand. The Dursleys had placed me under so many restraining orders back on Earth that Neville joked that I was collecting them. I didn't pay them much notice; it was too much fun playing havoc with their lives. "All right. What technology patents?" I asked.
"Your stealth technologies, for instance. There are claims that you are infringing on these company's patents. Some are demanding that you cease using the technology all together, while some are merely demanding that you hand over your tech so that they can ensure you are not in violation."
I leaned forward. "Sorry, these idiots are saying that I need to hand over my cloak… so that they can determine that I'm not copying their technology?"
I blinked. "They just want to steal my 'technology', don't they?"
Barton's expression was one for the ages. "Naturally."
Not long after that, a message on my guild board appeared, claiming the bounty I'd placed not half an hour before. Apparently, the bounty had been guaranteed by a member of the InterGalactic Banking Clan. I had been passed the member's name, biographical information, employment history, sexual proclivities, and most importantly of all, his date of death.
How useful that I wouldn't need to leave the building to question him.
I requested a short recess and asked for direction to the fresher. Once ensconced within the decadent, secure and private room, I added a few muffling charms and pulled out The Ring.
A few minutes later, I returned to the board room and fired up my Guild's board once more. I ignored the scores of messages from people who had filled the first bounty after it had been claimed; no doubt I'd be inundated with pissed off hunters who didn't spot the bounty posting in time to act.
I placed another similarly-sized bounty on a Muun named San Hill. Apparently, he was a rising star in the Banking Clan, so he would no doubt be well protected. Still, for the credits I was offering, a great many people would be interested in tracking him down.
He'd been the one to use the first poor soul as a patsy. That fellow had been killed for his trouble. Mr. Hill wasn't a nice man. Muun, whatever.
I forced my attention back to the meeting at hand. It was a herculean effort, but even so, my eyes started glazing over around the four-hour mark. The remaining immunity deals were finalised, along with the passing of the necessary decryption keys to the various recipients. There were quite a few potential avenues for me to be charged even with the existing deals, but they were caught and dealt with. Barton and his fellow named partners were clearly sociopaths who used the law the same way HK used his cannon. Expertly, amorally, efficiently, and to generalised terror. And they told their audience exactly how well they did so – again, and again, and again.
I rather liked them. I had no illusion that they would be dangerous enemies in the legal realm, or that they were interested in anything other than my credits, but having the lawyer-equivalent of a back-alley brawler in my corner was comforting.
We covered more topics ranging from the establishment of an anti-slavery charity, to the delivery of the warehouse-load of R2 units from Artoo's production line, to PR and Reputation Rehabilitation. My contributions were simply selecting the best strategy from the options presented, and paying for them to be implemented.
Yelena in particular seemed pleased to be involved with the charity. I got the impression that with her advanced age, the Selonian was placing increasing value on her legacy. Leading an army of cut-throat lawyers for decades had been profitable, but not something to be particularly proud of. She assured me that the charity would be established and in operation very quickly.
Towards the end of the meeting, one of the associates who had left with Tobril returned to report. Kalu'minari's would-be beau had acquitted himself well during questioning, and had been released into Kenobi's custody over Madame Durrell's exceedingly vocal objections.
The news that Burrell had exploded in rage at discovering that heTobril was innocent was pleasing to hear. Implementing their legal ju-jitsu, my lawyers successfully countered her attempts to keep him in custody while she searched for a law that he had broken. I was fairly sure Kenobi would be up to the task of returning him to Coruscant.
However, word had somehow filtered down to Burrell that I owned a lightsaber and that it had been checked at the security desk. The associate handed over a receipt for my weapons, regretfully informing me that the entire cache had been confiscated and would only be returned once the investigation into the vandalism of Burrell's speeder had concluded.
I idly wondered how she'd react to finding a note rather than a lightsaber, as the short-term transfiguration would have worn off by now. I mentally filed that under 'follow up for a laugh'.
I passed the weapon receipt to Barton to action. I didn't need any of the sodding things. "Right. Is there anything else? I really should head off."
Barton cleared his throat. "We have a suggestion, Captain."
"We thought that, given the circumstances, the extensive list of actions against you and so forth, that someone from our organisation should establish an office on Godric's Hollow. That would give you a permanent point of contact, which could give you immediate, if preliminary advice."
"Er," I managed after a second. "You want to set up shop on my station?"
Barton nodded. "Yes. I assumed that your anti-slavery charity would be headquartered there – safely hidden away. Having a branch of ABPY on board would enable operations to run far more smoothly."
"Well, yes, that's true. But whoever is there won't be able to just leave to go home in the evening."
"We understand. There are several associates in ABPY who have experience in long tours of duty. And there are other potential benefits as well."
Consider my interest piqued. "Such as?"
"I understand that no one can locate the station itself without your approval. Such technology is beyond the galaxy at large, and such an arrangement could be most lucrative to many organisations."
I frowned. "Well don't keep me in suspense."
Poincaire spread his arms and grinned viciously. "I have any number of clients who would offer obscene sums to register their organisations' official headquarters on an actual station that cannot be accessed. The tax benefits alone would collectively be worth trillions."
My mouth dried out as I wondered just how much we wizards lost out on thanks to the sodding Statute of Secrecy. After a few more moments of silence, I said, "Fine. Put a proposal together and I'll see what I can do. Er, has anyone volunteered to set up your office yet? Or were you expecting to order someone to shadow me?"
Fey'lis raised a hand. "I have volunteered to establish the office, Captain. Of course, once established, it will require more staff, but for now I should be up to the task."
I raised an eyebrow. "You're aware that being around me is quite dangerous?"
"Quite," the Bothan replied with a wry expression. "I served in the Bothawui Armed Forces in my youth. I am no stranger to the sort of dangerous situations in which you find yourself."
I grinned at him. That sounded like a challenge. I'm game.
After the meeting formally concluded, I apparated directly out with my Bothan acquaintance. Feylis swayed a bit as we popped into existence next to my Bonnie. "Ar'krai! I feel sick!" he wheezed as he pulled away from my grasp and dropped his hands to his knees.
"Feel free," I said, judiciously taking a large step away from him. "Just don't get any on my bike."
After a couple of laboured breaths, he looked up. "What bike?" He looked around. "Are we… How did we get out of the building?"
"Magic," I said, looking around. I'd apparated us directly next to Burrell's bifurcated speeder, which happened to be surrounded by hovering police tape. Fortunately, my charms kept the CorSec officers questioning nearby pedestrians from noticing us.
"That's an example of your teleportation, I take it. It's a bit, er, uncomfortable, isn't it?"
"One of them, and yes, it's not for the faint of heart. If you're sure you're not going to throw up, hop in the side car there," I said with a gesture.
He noticed exactly what speeder we were next to. "Oh my! That's Madame Burell's speeder. It was cut in half! Oh dear."
His fur rippled. "Er, if she has your lightsaber and record of your vehicle parking next to her own, then she could bring charges against you that would not be covered by your immunity deal."
I shook my head. "She doesn't have my lightsaber."
"Didn't the security guard make you check it in at his station?"
"Yep. He insisted upon it," I replied with a grin.
"But it's not there now?
"Nope. I did leave a note in its place though."
"Every legal instinct in my body is shrieking. What note?"
I shrugged. "It just says, 'I owe you one lightsaber'."
"I see. Did you sign it?"
He took a deep breath and let it out contentedly. "Oh, that's beautiful."
That wasn't what I was expecting. "What do you mean?"
He grinned, and it looked remarkably similar to his boss' own vicious smile. "Standard chain of evidence rules. If the security guard testifies that you checked your lightsaber, its absence will be the responsibility of whoever took formal possession of the cache. Madame Burrell is going to be in quite some trouble."
I grinned back. "Delighted to hear it. Now, where are we going?"
He clambered into the sidecar, nodding in approval at the cushioning and comfort charms. "ABPY maintain a number of ships capable of hyperspace travel. One of them is exclusively for your use. I can enter the address of the hanger bay into your navigation system."
I landed my bike at the secure hanger. Feylis was a much more appreciative passenger than Tobril, commenting positively on the Bonnie's acceleration, manoeuvrability, and style. That was always a good method to endear yourself to me.
He continued to admire it after exiting, and so he missed me extracting HK from my pocket and expanding the droid to full size.
"HK, can you do a sweep of the area?"
"Compliance: I shall actively seek out and engage those who wish you ill, Master."
Feylis spun around and gasped. "What the… Where did that droid come from? Wait!" He stared at me in wonder. "He was invisible! That's more of your technology!"
"No, it's magic," I said, and waved my wand at the Bonnie.
Feylis gave a startled yelp. He stared at my bike, now small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. "By the Gods, how did you do that?"
I pocketed the Bonnie. "Do what?"
"You just… you just…"
He blinked rapidly, before raising his gaze to stare at me. "You just shrank that speeder!"
"Statement: Your powers of observation are working at acceptable levels for a meatbag."
"Yes, yes, yes, but… how?"
"It's that 'technology' that people are trying to claim from me."
The Bothan gave a small whimper at the thought. "But that's impossible! You can't just change matter like that!"
"Observation: Perhaps I spoke too soon."
I snorted at HK's less-that-subtle insult. "I must admit to a certain satisfaction every time someone first sees me do the impossible," I chuckled.
"But how? How can you do that? And don't say 'magic'!"
I shrugged. "Fine. I was bitten by a radioactive Jedi as a child."
"Nevermind. I'll explain later. Where is our ship?"
The SoroSuub Personal Luxury Yacht 3000 was a beautiful ship. It was fuelled and ready to fly, with a crew standing at attention next to the entrance waiting for me. I thanked them for their efforts, dismissed them, and set about placing some runes on the bulkheads around the ship.
A few hours later, I was done. I headed to the cockpit, where HK was verbally tormenting Feylis. I sat down in the pilot's seat and started calculating a flight plan out of Corellia's gravity well and back to Godric's Hollow.
A buzzing distracted me. I looked around for the unexpected noise before realising it was emanating from my clothes. I rummaged around in a pocket before pulling out the offending item.
I stared at the vibrating coin in surprise. It was the receiver for the protean charm I'd placed on the silver chain I'd given Anakin. He'd been accepted by the Jedi, so I'd considered the matter closed. Evidently, Anakin hadn't.
Unfortunately, I hadn't considered the limitations of the charm when I'd set it. The arrow worked fine, pointing off in one specific direction. But the numbers running around the edge of the coin indicated how far away the chain was – in miles. Five digits were sufficient to display any distance on Earth, but when the number was in quadrillions, it wrapped around the coin illegibly. I couldn't even make out where the number began or ended.
I made a mental note to adjust the protean charm to display light years in future.
"Query: Why is that coin vibrating, Master?"
"It's responding to something I gave Anakin. He was supposed to use it to call me to pick him up if he was rejected for training."
"Optimism: If you believe the little meatbag is anything like you, perhaps there is some delightful chaos occurring around him that we could intrude upon."
I fought to stop a grin from forming at the thought. I was an adrenaline junkie after all. "I like the way you think, HK. But first, I need to find out where Ani is. Can you us this to call Kenobi for me?" I asked, holding out my portable comm.
"Sarcasm: Master, what sin have I committed that would suggest secretarial services are part of my primary protocols?"
I glared at him. "You worked as a protocol droid to infiltrate the Black Sun on Ord Mantell!"
"Explanation: A claim only, Master. It became obvious that you would not require any such services from me, so I replaced the superfluous programming with lightsaber combat protocols. I retained only my language databanks."
I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. "Really? You got rid of all your protocol droid programming?"
"Hesitant Answer: Most of it, Master."
"I see. What exactly did you retain?"
"Answer: There were some protocols that crossed functionality with my primary purpose. It would be a waste to remove them and reduce my primary efficiency."
"What, like viable ways to use explosives in sex dolls to assassinate powerful, perverted politicians?" I snarked.
"Admiration: Why Master, alliterative tautology aside, what an ingenious suggestion! Making use of lust, depravity and the desire for secrecy, all inherent fragilities of powerful meatbags. I shall add that suggestion to my assassination matrix."
I snorted at his answer, marvelling that George's unique mix of degenerate creativity had come up with a potential assassination method even HK hadn't thought of.
Feylis spoke up. "Er, Captain? Is there an issue I can assist with? Before your droid terrifies me even more?"
I shrugged. "No idea. It's not a legal problem. I need to know where someone is, and Kenobi might have that information. Do you know if he and Tobril have left the planet yet?"
"I dare say so. Transportation was on standby before today's session."
"Damn. I don't suppose you know how I can contact him?"
"Of course." He opened his own comm and connected to someone in his office. "This is Feylis. Contact the ship we procured for Jedi Kenobi to chauffer Mr. Aesco to Coruscant. Transfer the call to Captain Harry's communicator."
"Thanks Feylis," I said, suddenly feeling a little more positive about having a lawyer shadow me.
"You are welcome, Captain."
After a few moments, my comm activated to reveal the young Jedi. "Oh, Captain Harry. Hello. Tobril and I are already on our way back to Coruscant."
I nodded. "Glad to hear it. Unfortunately, this isn't a social call. I just got a message from Anakin. Do you know where he is? What planet he is on?"
Kenobi blinked. "I am sorry, no. I was dispatched on my Trials before Master Qui-Gon received his next assignment."
I grimaced. "Damn."
"What message, if I may ask?"
I debated the merits of answering. It wouldn't do for the Jedi to consider me a kidnapper rather than a rescuer. Kenobi had proven thoughtful enough that I chose to answer. "I gave him a way to let me know to come and get him if he was not accepted for training."
That did not appear to surprise him. "But he was accepted for training. By Master Qui-Gon."
"Yes, I know. And I pretty much forgot about it, but I just received the message. As he is being trained, I'm assuming he is calling for help because he can't reach anyone else."
Kenobi was silent for a few moments. "I shall request that the Jedi Temple contact Master Qui-Gon. The Council will send any necessary assistance."
I ground my teeth, but nodded. If Kenobi didn't know where Anakin was, contacting the Jedi would be the most logical course of action for him. "Thanks. Tell them that I can help extract him if he's in trouble."
That caused an eyebrow to twitch. "Of course."
I turned away from the comm as the hologram flickered out. "Dammit," I spat. How was I going to find him? I scanned through the navicomputer for a galaxy map. Corellia was simple to locate. "Right, HK, can you work out which way the arrow on this coin is pointing and make this map show it?"
"Dissatisfaction: Half an hour ago we had access to hundreds of R2 droids. Now, the premier assassin droid in the galaxy is reduced to astronavigation," HK grumbled as he connected to the console. After a few seconds, a narrow cone flashed into existence on the map, originating from the Corellian system and out towards the edge of the galaxy. "Statement: The margin of error of that artefact is too large to produce a more defined search area."
I nodded, evaluating the map. "If we do a jump over here, away from the core, how much would that narrow the search volume?"
"Calculation: That would certainly reduce the volume of space to search. Instead of millions of human lifetimes it would merely take thousands."
I sighed and rubbed my temples. "I'm sure." I thought back to when I'd travelled through the highlighted region. With a sudden burst of inspiration, I snapped, "Can you highlight Naboo? Perhaps he's there!"
HK obliged without complaining, for which I should probably be thankful. The garden world flashed red, and I leaned back in my chair with a grimace. Naboo was in the general direction of the search cone, but outside its bounds.
"We will have to get more accurate readings as we get closer. That will have to do. Let's go. Feylis, strap in."
HK started the pre-flight checklist as I picked a likely spot on the galaxy map to take a second reading. The comm pinged, interrupting my thoughts.
I tapped it, and a familiar figure coalesced. "Captain Harry, greetings."
"Jedi Sinube," I said, surprise in my voice. "I'm pleased to see that you've recovered. I'm sorry for incapacitating you. It was not my intention."
The Jedi waved a hand. "Your apology is appreciated, but unnecessary. It was an inconvenience at most."
"Er, good?" I said, unsure what else to say.
He nodded. "Might I impose upon you to answer a few questions I have? As you know, I have made a study of criminal syndicates, and I would like your perspective on the sudden change of circumstances suffered by the Black Sun."
"I'm not sure I could spare the time right away, and I'm not going to Coruscant any time soon," I replied with a frown. "Do you happen to know where Anakin Skywalker is? I think he may be in trouble."
He waved the question away. "I'm afraid I am not a Council member, and as such I am not privy to what missions are assigned to Jedi Masters." He clasped his hands on his cane and leaned forward. "I have decided to take a sabbatical on Pantora, in the Sujimis sector. I shall be there shortly and for the foreseeable future. I look forward to interviewing you."
The holo winked out before I could respond.
I frowned. "What the hell was that about?"
"Conjecture: You may have an ally among the Jedi, Master," HK said as he tapped his console. Another red dot flashed on the navicomputer screen, labelled 'Pantora'. It lay on the far edge of the galaxy map, one of the furthest planets from the core.
Precisely at the centre of the narrow search cone.
AN: Thank you to all my reviewers.
Real life is getting fuller by the month. Since buying the new house, I've moved in, painted, remodelled, and all that stuff. I looked up and was surprised at the amount of time that had passed. On the other hand, my grandfather recently passed. But he was 92, and considering that he'd been given six months to live after breaking his neck in a car accident caused by him having a heart attack behind the wheel 46 years ago, he did pretty well, all things considered.
He was a great prankster, and he came up with the sex doll suggestion in this chapter, though his suggestion was just putting fireworks in them to go off at the correct time. He wired a cow-bell to the underside of his newly-married brother-in-law's bed, so you can see what sort of fellow he was.
I'm going to miss him.
The speeder / lightsaber scene was inspired by xkcd comic #562.