Hey! I promise, I will use Natsu's POV in the next chapter, since I finally got an idea of how to use him. In fact, the only reason I'm not using him in this chapter is because, if you were paying any attention to the last chapter, he's still passed out. And sorry if it seems a bit Bleach-centric, but I'll be the first to admit that I have developed a less-than-healthy obsession.
Reminder to please vote on the subject mentioned in the last chapter.
Please review, you have no idea how motivating it is to know people want you to continue writing, no matter how few they may be.
Ben never let his guard down as Drask led them to a turbolift farther down the hall. The general and a few others might have once worked briefly with his parents, but his parents had also told him that the Chiss only allied with someone if it served their own interests in some way. His mother had warned him, that if he ever came into contact with the Chiss Ascendancy, that you could never trust them unless you had concrete evidence that they needed you alive.
Which is why he was so surprised (internally, anyway), that the whole group was still breathing.
Right before they entered the lift, Ben looked around in time for the Ichigo in black to knee his twin in the stomach, causing the twin to cough up a bluish pill, before going limp. Before Drask or anyone else noticed, the first Ichigo had somehow merged with the twin, making them one. He bent down to pick up the pill and continued like nothing happened. The whole process took three seconds.
Ichigo caught Ben watching and mouthed: later.
Ben got the message and focused his attention forward again. Vaguely, he remembered when Ichigo first appeared outside his cell, when Ben had asked if he was invisible or something, and Ichigo's reply: Or something.
Whatever the case, one thing was for sure. Ichigo Kurosaki was one strange guy.
By now they were all in the lift, which started going up at a tremendous speed after Drask said something in his native language. Edward and Ichigo didn't seem to know what to think about the lift, but Kajin looked completely at home.
I bet the universes of those two are less advanced than ours. Ichigo did mention space travel only being a theory where he was from. But Kajin hasn't blinked an eye at any of this. Either he's got a brilliant sabacc face, or he has experience with some of the same technology.
It was mere seconds before the lift came to a stop and opened into a plain, gray room. There was no furniture, no decoration, nothing except an elderly Chiss in uniform standing by the far wall, his formerly black hair streaked with white.
Drask strode in ahead of everyone else and stood at attention outside the lift. Ben hesitantly followed, unsure of how he should act. Being a Jedi, he was expected to have some diplomatic skills, most notably interspecies interactions. But the Chiss were so distant, they had only made contact with the Galactic Alliance twice in the past sixty years. It felt awkward for him, for once, to not know what he was doing.
Thankfully, he was saved from speaking when the grizzled Chiss spoke first. "You really do take after your mother, don't you?"
Ben stood there and had to work to keep his jaw closed. "What?"
The Chiss looked sharply at his subordinate. "You didn't tell him?"
Drask managed to look slightly ashamed. Slightly.
The older alien shook his head and turned back to Ben, smiling. "I am Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano. I worked with your parents on Outbound Flight."
Ben's eyes widened in recognition. "The Chiss that came up with the plan to draw out the Vagaari, right? Aristocra Formbi?"
He chuckled. "So you do know me. I will admit, I've been waiting to meet the son of Luke and Mara Skywalker for a long time. I never imagined he would come to me."
Ben relaxed. He knew who this was. Formbi, while still rigid at times and a great believer in military rule, wasn't exactly a conventional Chiss. Mara had told him never to trust a Chiss, but she had added that if they happened to be a part of Formbi's inner circle, or Formbi himself, they were safe. This made things easier. The only problem was, while Formbi might want to help them, it was very possible that he was going against orders even meeting them, and there was only so far he could go before he had to take his law into account. He might want to help, but he'd have no choice in the matter.
Ben decided that he would at least try.
"With all due respect, why did you bring us here?" he asked, warily eyeing Drask. While Formbi seemed genuinely happy to see them, Drask had merely observed the exchange with an annoyed expression on his face. He obviously wasn't overjoyed with the meeting.
While waiting for an answer, Ben took the chance to check up on his companions. Ichigo's face was set in the scowl that Ben was realizing was his normal expression, looking largely unimpressed with the whole affair. Edward looked interested in the whole exchange, but he had an undercurrent of annoyance that was fairly common for people contemplating escape. Kajin seemed like he didn't know what to think about anything going on around him. He looked dazed but alert at the same time, if that was possible. And Natsu remained oblivious.
"Besides meeting you? I suppose I have a lot of reasons. I am curious why a Jedi is in what , to you, is unknown space. I want know how you got to Csilla. I am rather troubled that you somehow managed to escape with apparent ease. I am even more troubled by the fact that until a few minutes ago, your friend over there," he nodded in Ichigo's direction, "was in a comatose state with zero brainwaves, and yet somehow he's now walking around like nothing happened." At this, Ichigo quietly sighed, like this wasn't the first time this had happened.
For Ben, however, the explanation answered several of his own questions. "So we are on Csilla? Not just some random icy planet like Hoth or Helska?"
Formbi arched one eyebrow. "You mean you have no idea where you are?"
Ben smirked. "Not until ten seconds ago, no."
"So I suppose it's meaningless to ask where your ship is." Drask said stiffly from his place by the door.
Ben just nodded. Crazy as it sounded to the Chiss, it was the truth. Then he turned back to Formbi. "To be completely honest, I'm in the dark on everything going on here." That wasn't entirely true. He knew they had only gotten out because of Ichigo. But given the fact that nobody but the four other boys could see him standing in the middle of that hall and the curious things Ben had witnessed shortly after, he didn't think that was worth mentioning.
Formbi looked lost in thought for a second before pulling a small device from his pockets. "I see. So you can honestly say you have no idea how you got here or why?"
Formbi nodded and pressed a button on the device. A small click echoed through the room, and the stun cuffs restricting Ben's powers fell from his wrists, clattering to the floor. He absentmindedly rubbed his wrists, more focused on the satisfying rush of awareness returning to his senses, fairly certain they had had ysalamiri hiding somewhere, cutting off even his empathy, that had just been moved out of range. His father had been right when he said it was like losing a limb to lose contact with the Force.
Actually, I can tell you from experience that losing your connection is worse than losing a limb, he had said, smiling and holding up his right hand, a purely mechanical prosthetic.
Formbi opened his mouth to say something, but before he even made a sound, Ben's danger sense came screaming into effect, giving him the impression of a knife held to his throat. Time around him seemed to slow as he searched frantically for the source of the sense, reaching out with his awareness. The moment he had it pinpointed, he ran for Formbi, yelling, "Get down!", right before the world exploded.
Metal, rock, and ice flew everywhere as the explosion ripped through the back wall. Ben had Formbi pinned beneath him, back turned to the blowout, allowing him to witness Edward create a wall between everyone on that side of the room and the debris in a split second.
So that's alchemy, he thought.
And then he noticed the pain.
Funny things, injuries. You never really knew you had them until after the fight, when the adrenaline wears off. Ben had gone through whole battles without realizing just how much blood he was leaving on the floor. Then it would all be over, and it would feel like he was literally burning alive, and he would spend the next week in a hospital bed.
That was exactly what he was feeling now.
When things stopped blowing around and the ringing in his ears disappeared, pain lanced through his body from the multiple lacerations on his back from the torn metal. It took all his willpower not to scream every curse he knew (which was a lot, by the way), right then and there. But training won out, and he simply grunted and fell back, but not before one curse left his lips. "Fierfek."
He would yell and rage later, when he didn't have the risk of popping stitches from overexertion. To the hells with Jedi philosophy. He was still a hotheaded teenager.
Through the dull sound of his heartbeat, Ben was aware of someone yelling. Dazed, he watched Drask and some Chiss guards lift Formbi away from him and away from the scene, while someone else was crouched in front of him, saying something indecipherable. It took him a moment to recognize his name.
"Ben! Hey, Ben! Snap out of it! We've got to move!"
Someone shook him roughly out of his daze, and he saw Kajin in front of him, trying to get his attention. He shook his head, clearing the last of the fog, and saw the relief on the other boy's face. Looking around him, Ben saw Edward deconstructing his wall, Ichigo looking rather annoyed, and Natsu up and about, looking quite worked up about not getting to fight anything, also clearing up the source of Ichigo's annoyance. The Dragon Slayer was just begging to be knocked out again.
"Hey! You okay?"
Ben dragged his attention back to Kajin, who was muttering something under his breath in a language Ben had never heard before. "Huh? Oh, yeah, fine."
Kajin nodded. "Good, 'cause we found where we're going next." With that, he pointed behind Ben, who looked around to see a white "vortex", if that's what it could be called, swirling in the air a few feet away. "We don't know how, but we just saw someone Edward knows run through there. Based on Ed's reaction, I think he's one of the guys we're supposed to be chasing. So, feeling up to a bit of running?"
Ben blinked, then nodded when he felt a smile start to creep over his face. He hadn't realized just how much he missed these kinds of missions. "Let's do it."