Friends in High Places

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... The Republic and the Empire maintain a fragile truce, but the threat of open war hangs heavy as both sides quietly vie for power and domination. In the midst of this volatile mix of factions and schemes, unlikely heroes must fight to preserve all they hold dear.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Kismet Dineen and Torian Cadera

Torian smiled at Neva's little jest. "Thanks," he said.

Turning back to the kids when she had left, though, he saw the look of blank terror had returned to their faces... but couldn't imagine why. Belatedly, he realized that small in stature as they all were, the oldest girl must be over the 'age cutoff' Neva had set. No wonder they were worried - not just about separation, but because for this particular family, staying on Nar Shaddaa wouldn't mean longevity.

"Don't worry about it," Torian said calmly, hoping to calm them as well. "I'll settle up with the captain later. You're all going to be on that ship."

"You promise?" the youngest piped up.

"I swear it on the honor of Clan Cadera," he replied, with as much gravitas as he would use to settle any contract.

After searching his face for any sign of jest or mockery - and finding none - the three Twi'leks hurried after him.

As they approached the rendezvous point, though, they heard the sounds of blaster fire. Did this mean Neva was in trouble? But they couldn't walk into a battle with three children and a frozen Imperial officer.

Kismet hastily shoved the Lieutenant into an alcove, and hustled the kids in with him.

"Do you know how to shoot?" Kismet asked the oldest child.

Wide-eyed, the girl shook her head.

"Okay, then don't try to be a hero," Kismet replied in a businesslike tone, pressing her spare blaster into the unresisting green hand. "Don't use this unless you have to. But if anyone comes after you and your siblings, I want you to aim as best you can and fire. Alright?"

Looking at the weapon in her hand like it was something strange and completely alien, the girl nodded.

"We'll be right back," Kismet assured the children. Then she and Torian went to check on their friend.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Neva Xolte and Akaavi Spar

Torian and Kismet's comms would crackle to life, Neva's voice sounding excited, but...happy?

"There was a bit of a delay on my end. Don't worry, we're making our way to the ship now - I expect to make good time." The last statement was punctuated with a wild chuckle and the sound of a speeder bike shifting gears.

Neva and Akaavi were making excellent time to the spaceport on their very nice swoop bikes. People leapt out of their way as the blasted down the promenades and narrow hallways that made up most of Nar Shaddaa's infrastructure. Neva gunned the throttle and commed Jasper next, asking him to get the initial checks completed and to fire up the engines. She opened the cargo door herself upon their arrival and magged down the two bikes before turning off the engines.

"I hope you didn't have any other business to attend to on Nar Shaddaa today." She commented to Akaavi as she shut the cargo door behind them. Neva thought the other zabrak looked a bit surprised at the question, but assumed it was because the answer was likely that she did have business and now it was ruined because of Neva. "Bit of luck you finding me right at the opportune moment."

The captain couldn't take time for pleasantries now, though. She ran through the ship, past a concerned Gwaine, and shooshed Jasper out of her chair. Whether the port authority was ready or not, her ship was leaving. Of course, she didn't register her real flight plan - after all, the real one was going to get her a hefty fine and possibly a wanted poster.

If Jasper made to get into the co-pilot chair, he'd find Akaavi with her hand on the back of it, staring him down. The Mandolorian was unreadable as always, but seemed a trifle on edge for someone accustomed to the captain's flair for the dramatic.

The ship drew into position at an upper promenade as promised, the narrow walkway extending to balance delicately on the edge of a taxi platform. Approaching taxis were blocked from landing, causing a pile up in the airspace around the ship - and taxis also couldn't leave, arousing the ire of drivers and patrons alike. Their getaway wouldn't be impeded, but it certainly would be noticed.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Jasper and Gwaine

Effectively chased away from the co-pilot chair, Jasper shrugged and went to find Gwaine. The young woman was sitting on a cargo container, making no move to explore any of the rest of the ship but betraying her anxiety about what was happening planetside by the continuous twisting and untwisting of her hands.

"You doing okay?" Jasper asked. "Need anything?"

Gwaine shook her head. "I'm alright," she said. "Or will be, when..."

Jasper nodded. She didn't need to say it. She wouldn't truly be alright until she saw her brother safe and sound.

Changing the subject to an easier one, Gwaine commented, "Your accent - it's Imperial."

Jasper nodded. "Defector," he explained.

"Why did you go over to the Pubs?" Gwaine blushed, worried that she'd made a faux pas by commenting so pointedly. "Sorry. I just..."

Jasper shook his head and smiled. "Nah. It's okay. You can ask. I wasn't planning to defect. Had no reason to. No reason to think it would be better over there. Ended up doing so out of necessity. Not unlike your brother, really. My best friend started seeing a Republic girl - a Jedi." At the widening of Gwaine's eyes, Jasper chuckled. "Yeah, I couldn't quite believe it. The Jedi Order wasn't exactly thrilled with them either. But he left the Empire to be with her. And I... got caught in the crossfire, I guess you'd say. Trystan figured his family was safe - they weren't close, and his people are Empire bigwigs. He was right. They didn't bother his parents or his brothers. They went after me instead. I guess they figured I might know something... or just that I mattered to Trystan, and it would punish him worse if something happened to me. I was locked up. Tortured."

Gwaine's eyes were wide. "I'm so sorry..."

Jasper shrugged. "It's okay," he lied. "I'm fine now."

They both knew it wasn't 'okay.' That while Jasper had recovered, had gone on with his life, the effects of what had happened could never be undone. But it wasn't something he wanted to dwell on with a virtual stranger right now.

"Anyway," Jasper went on. "Trystan got captured too. His Jedi came to save him, and saved me too for good measure. I couldn't exactly go back to the Empire - not without betraying people there was no way in hell I'd betray, anyway. So defecting was my only option."

Gwaine nodded thoughtfully. "And you're... okay with it? The life you built with the Pubs. It's... acceptable to you?"

Jasper thought about Trystan and Siralai's family - the family he was part of too, as Trystan's honorary brother and a beloved uncle to their children. Of their little repair business where he could just work on engines all day instead of risking his life to fight the Emperor's petty battles. Of Theron, and... possibilities.

"Yeah," he said. "More than 'acceptable.' I'm happy. Really happy. I hope you will be too. You and your brother."

"Me too," Gwaine said quietly.
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Kismet Dineen and Torian Cadera

"They're clear!" Kismet said.

Whatever battle Neva had gotten herself into - and the remains of the swoop bike gang suggested the nature of it - she had apparently won. Good for her, Kismet thought.

They made their way to the promenade as quickly as they could. The younger two children were struggling to keep up, so Torian picked up the little girl and Kismet grabbed the boy. The oldest was keeping pace on her own, Kismet noted approvingly.

"Not far now," Torian said.

They arrived on the promenade to the annoyed chatter of taxi drivers and various honks and beeps. Torian laughed as he used the railing as an impromptu staging area to get the kids on the ship and load the hulk of the frozen Lieutenant. Once the ramp was secured behind them, he said over the comms, "We're in. Let's get out of here."

They needed to find a secure place to thaw Corbin out. Presumably the sight of his sister alive and well would calm him down pretty quickly, but until he got his bearings, there was a good chance he'd be belligerent to his rescuers/kidnappers, so they needed to make sure he couldn't do any damage before they set him free.

The kids, meanwhile, were huddled together, clinging to each other and looking around the ship with wide eyes.

"It's gonna be okay now," Torian promised. Then, realizing he was going to need some stronger reassurances, he added, "By the laws of the Mando'ade, you are under the protection of Clan Cadera."

The two smaller children looked blank - as he would have expected - but he thought he detected a hint of relief on the older girl's face.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Neva Xolte and Akaavi Spar

"And we're away. So long, Nar Shaddaa. Won't miss ya."

Neva punched in the coordinates for Rishi as soon as they broke the planet's orbit, making the leap seconds later. She glanced over at Akaavi, who was giving her an inscrutable eye. What was she doing there in that exact alleyway at that exact moment anyway? And why had she just...agreed to come along? Her train of thought was interrupted as Rishi flashed into view and she began making contact with the planet's docking system.

"I guess we better figure out who we're dropping off for sure. I mean, I agreed to take the Imperial chick and her brother someplace safe - not sure they'll agree that this planet fits that description."

She chuckled, but it echoed awkwardly in the silent cabin. Maybe she should talk to Akaavi now...but she'd much rather talk to the other woman when her ship wasn't filled with passengers. Instead, she offered the Mandalorian a half-way apologetic smile and ducked out the door. So - she had Jasper, Gwaine and bro, two Mandos and a trio of Twi'lek kids. Not the usual fare.

"So, I was told to take you and your brother someplace safe - was there a planet you had in mind or...something? Know a lot of neutral worlds if you're interested in a fresh start."

She started with Gwaine. Teizi hadn't given many details over the holo, so maybe that part hadn't been sorted out yet. It had all seemed pretty spur of the moment, but who knew? Maybe leaving the Empire had been a dream of theirs for years or something.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Gwaine Corbin and The Mandalorians

"Oh. I... erm... I don't know." Gwaine was reflexively wringing her hands again. "This... wasn't really planned. Your friend just said people would help us, but..."

But now they were apparently stranded on Rishi with no credits and - despite the offer of a ride - nowhere to go. It was an improvement compared to her previous situation, but arguably a marginal one.

Jasper stepped in. "You can stay with us," he said. "I mean, with my friends I told you about. My... my family. They'll help you get settled somewhere."

Gwaine raised an eyebrow, grateful for the offer but concerned that yet again, an absent person seemed to getting volunteered to provide aid they might be unwilling or unable to give. "Are you sure? We don't want to be a bother to your friends..."

"I'm sure," Jasper said. "They're always taking in strays. No offense - I was one myself. The best place you can be is with Siralai and Trystan. I promise."

"Okay," Gwaine said tentatively. "Thanks. And Neva... thanks for the lift. We appreciate it. I appreciate it, and I'm sure Gideon will too once he realizes what's going on."

As this was being settled, Kismet was starting the thawing process that would release Lieutenant Corbin. Once Torian had the kids settled in their seats, he joined her - along with Neva, Jasper, and Gwaine, Torian saw. Well, he owed Neva some credits, anyway.

"I'll transfer you the fare," Torian said to Neva. "Let me know how much."

Kismet was still focused on the Lieutenant - but he could tell she was curious. Of course she was. Her husband had suddenly shown up with three children in tow. That in itself was not particularly surprising; the laws of the Mando'ade obligated him to care for and protect any uncared for children they found in their travels. The children would be Torian's responsibility until they could be returned to their people, or until they came of age. Kismet was holding her breath to find out which it would be.

She told herself not to get her hopes up. Yes, she and Torian wanted children. They had planned on it - but Torian's injuries had put that plan on hold. Realistically, she wouldn't have been able to care for both a new child and him while he was recovering. But he was well now. And perhaps...? Would these foundlings perhaps... become their children? It would depend on the situation, though. She shouldn't get attached, if they were merely dropping the children off on their homeworld to discharge their duty.

"I found the kids while you were dealing with the Lieutenant," Torian explained. Kismet had been patient in waiting for an explanation. She trusted his judgment. But he had no intention of holding out with that information longer than absolutely necessary. "I heard a noise. Thought a fight was breaking out. Went to check on it. It wasn't a fight. The oldest girl... she killed a slaver. To protect herself, of course. But they don't like when slaves do that. The others had her up against the wall and their blasters aimed at her. They were going to execute her for her 'crime.' She's just a kid..."

Kismet nodded. "You put a stop to that."

"Yeah," Torian said. "Killed the slavers. Got the kids out of there before more could come. I'm responsible for them now. They're my foundlings."

"We're responsible for them," Kismet corrected. "And they're our foundlings."

Whatever the future held, wife and husband were in this as a team.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Neva Xolte

She'd nodded when Torian reminded her yet again of the fare he owed her and pulled out her datapad to punch in a very reasonable number of credits. After all, she'd come out with two swoop bikes. Maybe she could use one to repair that speeder bike of Jasper's she'd trashed last week. Bikes were much more fun in pairs, she'd come to realize, and it wasn't fair that she'd left half of his set in shambles.

Of course, one of 'her' bikes was technically Akaavi's. She'd pulled off the rescue, after all. Neva was all too well aware that if it hadn't been for the mandalorian's timely arrival, she wouldn't be standing her right now watching a dude thaw out while two mandos discussed their new family. Did it really happen that fast? You find a kid and 'poof' they're yours? Neva wasn't sure if that thought was beautiful or terrifying. Kismet and Torian seemed happy with the arrangement. A mando thing, she supposed. How did any mando not have twenty kids tailing them at all times? Did that mean that Akaavi would be picking up kids...

This was getting out of hand. Neva had to forcibly stop her train of thought before it took her into places she wasn't ready to go.

"So, we're all staying then. Good. I'll get the ship settled in then."

It wasn't that she didn't want to stay to see the family reunion - it was more that there was a certain person on her ship she needed to be talking to. Before anything else happened.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Friends in High Places

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Gideon Corbin's eyes began to open slowly. His vision, still clouded by carbonite aftereffects, was grey and tunneled, so at first he only saw Kismet.

"Why have you brought me here, Mandalorian?" he demanded - but he sounded more weary than angry, as if this were only the latest in a string of untenable situations. "I assume someone placed a bounty on me. But I can't imagine who, or why. I'm just a nobody. If they wanted an Imperial officer, why...?"

"It was me," Gwaine said, stepping where her brother could see her and taking his hand.

"Gwaine? How...? They said you were missing..."

Gwaine nodded. "I was. But I'm found. I couldn't go back to the Empire. I promise I'll tell you everything later, when you're feeling better, but these people helped me. As soon as Intelligence found out, they would have retaliated against you too..."

Gideon nodded, his fog-frozen brain catching up. "So you put a bounty on me, because you knew the Empire wouldn't bother to challenge Mandalorians over some insignificant officer."

"Yeah, something like that," Kismet confirmed dryly.

"Then I thank you," Gideon said. "Gwaine. And all of you. Sincerely."

"Well," Kismet said with a faint smile. "That doesn't happen very often in our line of work."

***

Torian, meanwhile, had returned to the children while Kismet finished the work of thawing the Lieutenant. The three were still nervous and wide-eyed, but their panic seemed to have subsided now that they were out of atmo, and there was as much curiosity as fear in their eyes now.

He questioned them gently about their names, and learned that the older girl was called Lelleth, the younger girl was Lilias, and the boy - the middle child in age - was named Tommen.

"You called us something," Tommen said. "Found... something? What does that mean?"

Torian nodded, unsurprised by their confusion at the unfamiliar word. "Foundlings. It means children who are without their people. By the Mandalorian code, we are responsible for your safety now. We will return you to your family, if..."

Lelleth answered hesitantly. "Our parents are dead. They died when Lilias was a baby. We lived with our uncle for awhile. But he had his own children, and he said we were too many mouths to feed. So he sold us. That's why we went to the slavers."

Torian frowned at this example of disloyalty and weakness, but did not interrupt her.

"We have a grandmother," Tommen suggested. "We could go live with her."

Torian nodded, careful to keep his face neutral. He knew how much Kismet was hoping for kids - hell, how much he was too. But that didn't mean they could take someone else's. If these children had family already, that was the best case scenario.

"Maybe," Lelleth said, sounding less than convinced. "Or maybe we'd be better off by ourselves. We'd be alright. I'm used to taking care of them."

Torian met her eyes without a hint of condescension. "I'm sure that's true," he said. "I know you take very good care of your brother and sister. But it's better to have a clan, isn't it? Stronger with a clan than on your own."

Lelleth took a deep breath. "Okay," she said. "Stronger with a clan. Yeah. We'll try our grandmother."

Torian couldn't help but notice that Lelleth seemed far from certain about the reception the children would receive, and quietly vowed to himself that he would make sure the kids were truly safe before he and Kismet took off and left.
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