"Must we, Master?"
Lestrade snorted at his impudent brat's question and tugged at the young man's shoulders. Fifteen Sherlock may have been, but he still retained his ten year old temperament. His padawan turned a wary eye towards Lestrade, his expression already pleading with him to turn back. Sherlock had never been one for negotiations, especially not when it came to negotiations with slavers. Lestrade gently cupped the base of the teen's neck and traced it with his thumb. The sky taxi hit a small bit of turbulence, effectively breaking their connection.
"I told you, you needn't come for this," he said quietly. "Zygerria is known for their slaves, they-"
"I came to make sure you stay out of trouble," Sherlock snapped. "The last time I declined your offer of accompaniment you wound up prisoner on Weequay pirate ship."
Lestrade cast the younger man an offended look. "I got out on my own, thank you very much."
"Master Jinn rescued you, Teacher. If not for him the council would have had to pay your ransom," Sherlock said with a glare out their transports window. The boy still was cross with having missed out on his master's misadventure. Like any normal boy his age, Sherlock craved action and pirates were amongst his favorite. In another life, perhaps, Sherlock himself would have been a grand space captain.
Lestrade leaned back in his seat and scratched at his chest with an offended huff. "I was already half way out by the time Master Jinn graced me with his presence."
Sherlock gave the smallest of smiles, before cupping his chin in his hand and surveying the outside world. Zygerria was a great, thriving planet. Palaces were placed strategically across it's many lands, and the cities stood high and proud. Only recently had the Jedi decided to intervene with their government, as they had begun taking slaves. This action was greatly outlawed by the Republic, and Jedi were sent at once to correct it.
"I do not think we will be welcomed into the city with open arms," Sherlock said suddenly. "Especially as ambassadors for the Republic."
Lestrade shrugged. "We are not going in as ambassadors, young one. We are to be seen as immigrants, seeking to live in the outskirts of the city as mineral farmers."
Sherlock's frown deepened. "Then why are we traveling into the heart of the city?"
"Registration," the elder said easily. "We must be deemed worthy before we are allowed access."
"And if we are not deemed worthy?" Sherlock bit out. Lestrade had no doubt the boy thought back to his days as Moriarty's captive. He steady his protégé with a strong hand over his shoulder.
"What makes you think I haven't got a plan?" the knight said mischievously.
Sherlock merely nodded and turned his gaze back towards the window, chin still cupped in his hand. Such a serious boy when he wanted to be, which often was. Though in the quiet times he could be persuaded into merriment, often when they were on Naboo or away from civilian life. His padawan had often expressed his desire to simply reside on Naboo with no interruptions from the Jedi council. Though Lestrade felt the same, he forced himself to chide the boy for such thoughts. Sherlock peered back at him out of the corner of his eye.
"You feel sad, Teacher," Sherlock accused lightly.
Lestrade brushed it away. "Reminiscing is all."
Sherlock hummed thoughtfully. "About your long past youth?"
Lestrade snorted. "About a bratling who used to know respect for his elders."
"And who would that be, my master?"
"No one you are familiar with, my padawan," Lestrade said fondly. Sherlock allowed himself a large, brief grin before electing kick at his master's boots. Lestrade chuckled as his padawan continued the gesture, unconsciously seeking play. Were they not on a delicate mission, Lestrade would have indulged his child and tussled carelessly. But their transport came to an abrupt halt, reminding them it wasn't the time or place for such antics.
The rose together, drawing their hoods low over their eyes before stepping out into the brightness. Dirt clung heavily to their boots as they made their way to the drop of zone. Sherlock strode silently to his left side, his hands thrust nervously into their sleeves. Lestrade gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze before gliding over to a Zygerrian officer.
The humanoid-feline cast him a dirty look and at once commanded the duo to follow him into a small room. The guard was a full foot taller than Lestrade, but appeared to be twice as lean. His claw strayed to the whip at his belt. Behind the knight, Sherlock flinched in a way that was barely noticeable to the untrained eye.
Lestrade smiled politely. "Is there a problem?"
"We don't welcome your kind as anything other than brief visitors," the guard snapped, indicating their human species.
Lestrade grinned sweetly and with a small wave of the hand spoke, "You will make an exception this one time."
The Zygerrian's eyes clouded with Lestrade's control. "I will make an exception this one time," he said dumbly.
Another small hand gesture sent forth another piece of his will. Again the knight spoke, "You will let us in through a discreet entrance."
The Zygerrian repeated his instructions obediently and maneuvered to the back of the room. He unlatched a door and with a small nod instructed them to move along. Lestrade strode pass with little hesitation, Sherlock waited a moment.
"Forget our faces," the teen said coldly with no hand gesture. Lestrade could feel the Dark Side ring out faintly in the Force as the guard nearly collapsed from the weight of Sherlock's will. He raised an arm carefully.
"Come along, Curly," he instructed softly.
"Yes, Teacher," Sherlock said quietly and gratefully accepted his master's warmth. Once they were safely in the center of the city Sherlock bowed his dark head slightly. "Forgive me," he said delicately.
Lestrade frowned at young man who had once run to him crying when he done wrong. Perhaps he missed those days, Sherlock had always been quick to cuddle and slow to calm himself. With a sigh Lestrade returned his mind to the present. "We will discuss it at home."
Across their bond a brief pang of home sickness shattered across the peace. Sherlock dipped his head further. "Yes, Teacher."
"Your thoughts betray you, Curly. We will be home soon," Lestrade said easily. "But you should void yourself of this attachment."
"Yes, Master," Sherlock said with no promise in his voice.
"Brat," his master teased lightly.
Sherlock smiled slightly and bowed gracefully. They continued their walk, Sherlock stood much closer than before. Lestrade glanced around at the population of feline-humanoids with interest, even Sherlock's eyes were wandering over them.
"These are the next stage in evolution from my people," Sherlock informed him. "Gorians have animalistic instincts, but do not carry their physical traits."
"Ah," Lestrade said with interest. "And where do my people stand in the evolution chain?"
Sherlock giggled involuntarily. "Very low, Teacher."
Lestrade chuckled. "Perhaps I should call you "Master"."
Sherlock cocked an eyebrow with mock superiority. "Do you think you could handle being a padawan again, Master? I've heard you call no one, save Qui Gon, by their proper title in years."
Lestrade shrugged. It hadn't been a normal occurrence in his youth either, he had called his own mentor "master" and Yoda, he supposed. At the time of his apprenticeship, it hadn't been assumed that he would make the rank of knight.
Until Yoda had gotten a hold of him.
"Come along," he said tiredly.
Sherlock nodded slowly and followed Lestrade into the main center. Vendors decorated the streets calling to them to purchase their items. He was surprised when his padawan perked up at the offer of a dark green fruit, the teen vanished from his side and strode to the merchandise.
"Teacher," Sherlock said shortly, his hand held out before him in demand for credits. Lestrade lifted his eyebrows in question. The bratling merely cocked his head with a small smile. Lestrade sighed.
"May your own child bankrupt you some day, as much you bankrupt me," Lestrade said with an eye roll.
"I do not plan on having a child," Sherlock huffed accepting the coins. "You will wait until your silver hair falls out if you are hoping for justice."
"Ah, you forget, Sherlock," Lestrade smiled. "I did not plan to have you, and yet here we are."
Sherlock snorted. "I am delightful, Teacher. Other children could not compete with my intellect, I have saved you from a boring child."
"Fair enough, Curly," Lestrade said warmly.
Sherlock bit into the fruit with a ravenous appetite, the juice dribbled down his chin and forced him to wipe it away. He held it out to Lestrade in offering, but the elder man cringed and shook his head. Sherlock was disgusting with what he would scarf down, there was a time when the boy had eaten raw meat without hesitation. He did not trust anything the teen chewed on.
"What are we to do now?" Sherlock said merrily, taking another large bite.
"There is a slave auction not far from here. We will find out where the captives are being held and move from there," Lestrade said softly. "And we will nothing interfere until I say so."
Sherlock's face drew into a small scowl. "Yes, Master."
"Curly," Lestrade warned, "You will do nothing without me."
"I have agreed already, Master," Sherlock snapped.
Lestrade turned to him fully and clutched each shoulder tightly. The boy had grown out of his instinct to flinch whenever Lestrade gave him a stern glare, but even now he cringed slightly. Lestrade shook him lightly. "You have said what I want to hear. But you have been in my care almost six years now, Sherlock, I know when you are lying to me."
Sherlock frowned. "I-"
"Sherlock," Lestrade said firmly.
Sherlock gazed at the elder man almost hesitantly, his gaze flickered towards the ground. With a strong inhale he turned a defiant glare upwards. "I will do what I feel is right, Master. Whether that be to obey your instructions or intervene, I do not know."
Lestrade did not know whether to embrace his growing padawan or rebuke him for disobedience. The knight closed his brown eyes. "For now, my padawan, I ask that you trust me to know what is best for your safety. At least in situations such this," he said fairly. He was given a dubious frown.
Why did he have a wrenching feeling Sherlock was going to learn of consequences the hard way?
Sherlock was leaning heavily against the railing of the arena.
Lestrade watched the teen closely, ready to still him should he become irate. The cold metal in the teen's hand was already crushed with an angry grip. He hid it well from his padawan, but Lestrade felt similarly as the Zygerrian guards led out slave after slave.
"They're proud of it," Sherlock hissed. "Proud to own another being…I do not understand where such pride comes from, Teacher."
Sherlock had grown to adore calling him by the informal title. When he was younger and more hesitant it was always "Master", as he grew more comfortable and learned the term did not mean "owner", but instead "teacher", Sherlock became enthralled. His then eleven year old had curled tightly into his side one night, tracing an old blaster scar that decorated his arm.
"Can I call you it?" Sherlock asked softly. "It's just…I like you, you don't feel like an owner, a master."
Lestrade shifted and pulled Sherlock closer, keeping his misting eyes on his data pad. "If that is what you wish, Sherlock. But the Jedi use master as a term for guardian, not owner."
"I cannot fathom it," Sherlock mumbled and leant into his mentor's arm for support. "I cannot, Master. I do not understand."
Lestrade placed his chin on top of the padawan's curly hair and sighed. "I don't either, Sherlock. I have struggled with it since you first came to me."
Sherlock turned into his master's neck and sniffed it until his nerves calmed. Lestrade smiled down at the boy. "We will find the captives," the knight promised.
"I trust you," Sherlock replied easily.
Lestrade tensed as they led out several children, instinctively pulling Sherlock closer. Sherlock went rigid in his arms and audible snarled at the display. Lestrade tightened his grip around the young man's shoulders, thankfully it looked to passers as if they were embracing. It was more of a restraining hold truth be told. Lestrade swiftly disarmed his padawan of his saber and clipped it to his own belt, the teen snarled in rebellion. Lestrade silenced him with a rare glare.
"If you blow our cover now there will be no way to trace back to the other slaves. We must be patient, Sherlock, and think of the crowd of imprisoned, not just the children," Lestrade said sternly.
Sherlock tugged at his master's grip violently and hissed, "They are children, Master. Little ones!"
"I know," the knight said softly, "be still."
"How can you sit still? How can you-?"
"Because I know our outcome will save them if all remains as planned. I cannot rescue everyone if we reveal ourselves now, Curly."
Sherlock began to shake, in fury or frustration the master did not know. "Moriarty would wait too. What is the point of being a Jedi if you can't help people? You're no different than him if you do nothing." Sherlock seethed.
"Sherlock," Lestrade said with a small amount of hurt bleeding into his speech. Sherlock turned his face from his master with a small sigh of frustration.
An explosion erupted from below sending feline-humans hybrids soaring through the air. Several humans gracefully bounded through the now gaping hole in the side of the arena, adorned in jet packs. At once the planet was on high alert.
"Damn it. They are rebels trying to…damn it," Lestrade hissed. "They will ruin everything."
"They will save those children!" Sherlock snapped as he tugged his light saber from Lestrade's belt. "And I am going to help them!"
But it was too late, the padawan had pulled his scarf over his nose, effectively hiding his face, and had leapt from the side of the balcony. Lestrade cursed in rage and hid his face similarly to Sherlock. He followed him over the railing, his saber sang to life in his hand. It was a war zone.
Lestrade slashed through a guard who had turned his electric whip to one of the children. Rebels were snatching up children, adults, and the elderly that were present in the arena. The knight growled in pain, knowing there would be no saving the others. All the other children who had passed from the arena to the holding bays on days previous. No saving the elderly in need of food and drink at labor camps.
Sherlock was far too young to understand what was at stake, too young to understand the value of patience. But he should have trusted his master!
Whips and blasters rang out, trying to stop the rebellion around them. The Zygerrians roared at the rescuers of their slaves and tried desperately to round them all into a corner. They were beginning to succeed by the time Lestrade found his padawan, who had gotten his arm badly scorched but still managed to carry a small girl child. The teen looked on his teacher smugly. "We are still saving the slaves, Master."
Idiot youth. Not many other Jedi saw it, but Sherlock was a whirlwind of emotions. And the boy did not know how to cope with them.
Now there was truly only one way to locate the others. And it would be a tedious task to say the least, but to answer the boy Lestrade pressed his lips into a thin line and pulled his padawan from the end of whip. Sherlock passed the girl off to one of the rebels and brandished his saber next to his master.
"We need to start retreating, or face outnumbering," Lestrade shouted. One of the captains nodded and called for evacuation while Lestrade and Sherlock took the brunt of the attack. The rifle fire was deflected back at its blasters, but it was getting heavier and heavier as time wore on. Lestrade grimaced as his back met wall.
Lestrade noted that well some rebels had their jet packs ready, others had none or damaged packs. They stood firm, rifles in hand, ready for the unknown. Sherlock had a similar look of rebellion in his eyes as the feline-humans began demanding surrender, the padawan snarled through his scarf.
"Sherlock, follow the rebels with jet-packs out. Make sure the children get to safety, and when you can contact Master Windu," Lestrade order firmly. "Explain this situation to him."
"I will stay at your side, Teacher," Sherlock said stubbornly. "I can-"
"I'm not planning anything foolish, youngling. Certainly not anything I cannot handle myself. Obey me, Sherlock. I have to clean up the mess that has been made," Lestrade said crossly. By you.
Sherlock reflected a blast backwards with a flourish of his blue blade. "I did what I thought was right," Sherlock said with young pride.
"Then go," Lestrade said with more harshness than he meant. "Contact Master Windu and keep the children and the remaining rebels safe. That is your task from here out."
Sherlock flinched slightly at the angered tone, his eyes narrowed in his own frustration. "As you wish, my master."
And with those parting words the teen leapt up the wall, following closely behind the other human rebels. Lestrade rubbed his brow in annoyance, but retook up his saber. Perhaps he could save a few of the others before his inevitable capture as well.
The fight grew maddening.
Lestrade's saber was eventually shot from his hand by a well-timed attack that involved three Zygerrians jumping on him at the same time. It sailed away in an arch of green before disappearing completely. Sadness hit him as he watched it go and prayed it would find a way back to him. They had been through a lot together.
Drawing power from the Force he threw off his attackers with an easy Force shove and took up a blaster. He danced through the crowd of rebels and Zygerrians, firing like a mad bantha at whatever did not look human. He disarmed them of their whips and weapons, but his victories were short lived.
He made it half way through the arena, his cloak had vanished shortly after it had caught fire, before a sharp pain erupted in his side. Looking down at the throbbing ache in his side, the knight discovered the cause of his discomfort. A knife had pierced him. A damn knife of all the things flying through the air!
His knees buckled beneath him as he caught his side between his hands, the Force sang back in response. Poisoned blade, it warned.
No shit, the knight responded.
His opponents took his weakness as opportunity and pounced on top of his fallen form. He threw the Force out and sent them flying mercilessly through the air. His side burned in agony from his efforts, he grunted in pain.
Over him several shadows began to loom over him, Lestrade's energy was depleting alarmingly swiftly. His managed to raise a blaster off the ground, only to have it kicked away by a Zygerrain warrior. He hissed in pain.
"Leave this one to me," a female voice purred.
Lestrade did his best to look menacing, but somehow he doubted it looked anything more than a grimace.
The poison sent him into darkness.
She spotted him the moment he took down one her generals with his bare hands.
His silver hair was plastered to his forehead from sweating profusely. Whether he was a rebel or one of the Jedi she did not know, but by the gods the man was desirable. Even for a human it was evident he radiated power. His scarf had slipped from his face, revealing an appealing, tanned face. Though as many humans, he had a furless face. His skill with the blaster had been unparalleled. Picking him out from a distance, she had waited for an opportunity and then had plunged her blade into his side. It would not kill him, but he would be weak until her antidote was administered.
He had still managed to throw his enemies off, if only for a moment. He let out a terrifying roar before swaying forwards on his hands and knees. After kicking away his rifle she leaned towards him curiously. He had maintained a hateful glare until the young buck collapsed in pain. His brown eyes had flickered and then rolled behind his head.
She purred as she lifted him across her lean shoulders, his body was completely limp against the back of her neck. She heard a groan of pain and a muttering that sounded like "Sherlock".
She carried her prize to her palace.