Neville's Guardian by Sharpe34
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
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Chapter 1: Strange Attractors:
Lord Amadeaus D'ark glared out the window at the massive Star Destroyer. Fifteen years he spent in the service of the Sith Empire, not including his childhood as a slave. He slowly rolled his shoulders, feeling the soft tug of silk on scar tissue, the old wounds he refused to surrender in the Kolto Tanks. His long silver-white hair was pulled back at the nape of his neck, falling to just below his shoulder blades. Encased in glowing gray armor, his staff's hilt dangling at his side, he stared out the view-port. Introspection wasn't one of his skills. In fact he despised those that would sit for hours contemplating their place in the universe, the seers, mystics, the self-aggrandizing fools who thought thinking about a problem would solve it. Doubting yourself, not having faith in yourself, your abilities, your own drive and ambitions...
That was the path to failure.
He shook himself out of his daydream. Though a Darth himself, he knew enough not to make an enemy of someone who sat on the Empire's Dark Council.
His ship shuddered as the docking clamps locked on. His hand rested lightly on the bare, but softly furred shoulder of Rika, his Cathar companion, body guard, and minder.
"Darth Marr wants to tell me his cunning plan for..." he broke off, his head snapping up, eyes fixed on a point further out on the elliptical plane the docked ships were traveling on. Electric blue eyes narrowed, his mouth opened and a spinning probe dropped out of Hyper-space just at the subtle shimmering edge of the defense screens of the heavy destroyer. The probe punched through the screens, not slowed at all, shimmering as it slid around and over the destroyer's hull. Soft pings were echoing through the hulls of both ships as deep penetrating scans impacted on the electrical systems of the ships, mapping them at their most vulnerable points.
"Pop the lock! Punch it, get that thing before it broadcasts what it's learned! Rika, GO!"
Even as the probe came around from its second corkscrew pass around the larger ship, Lord Amadeaus was slipping into the gunnery chair, pulling power into his weapon systems. His eyes flashed to the ready lights willing them to power up faster; his mind reaching out, touching the probe through the Force, feeling the programmers' intentions.
"Oh, oh no..."
From deep space the Eternal Fleet dropped into position before the small armada of Sith and Republic ships. Heavy weapons and missile contrails spiraled out to touch the much smaller fleet with uncanny accuracy. In three seconds, four cruisers, a bevy of fighter escorts, and a frigate, became expanding clouds of gasses and flames. The sound and fury of so much death hammered at the Force sensitive Sith Lord, like a slap to the face.
The beauty of deep space was shattered by the violent assault.
The Maw, a supposedly safe place to gather, a navigational nightmare. Over a dozen black holes gobbling up stars, asteroid belts, any ships foolish enough to come within a few par-secs... and the Eternal Fleet dropped in between the Coalition Armada and the hungry holes - an impossible maneuver.
Lord Amadeaus' ship spun, dodged, and sprang from point to point. Missiles fired in a wild orgy of spins and tricks, and the Eternal Fleet's guns kept getting closer, and closer. Brilliant blue bolts screamed against the shields. Their impacts felt and heard through the hull as the electronics screamed in agony. The armada was getting decimated... he could see it... six ships, seven, eight... expanding blooms of destruction all around him. The Star Destroyer was cutting loose, and some of the Eternal Fleet ships were getting pounded; but there was no flag ship. No one place to target, no center command ship that anyone could see or feel...
Hopeless, there was no winning this engagement.
"This is Lord Amadeaus to all armada ships: - I have Darth Marr on my ship - We're skirting the Maw and jumping out of here. Break contact immediately, and assemble at point Tango. I repeat: assemble with Darth Marr at point Tango."
"May the Force serve you."
Rika rolled her eyes and snickered softly. Her silky voice mocking. "Oh, hey baddies, I have the prize, come jump my ass and kill ME! Like that's going to wor... oh flark, here they come!" Her right hand dances over the controls, the other feeding power to shields not meant to take so much punishment. Though larger than a fighter, the small assault craft was no match for 300 heavy capital ships all gunning for it.
She laughed, her ears pulling back flat to the side of her head, golden fur standing straight up at her neck, growling softly. The Cathar woman made the ship move like a lover for her. It sighed, moaned and cried out as it took hit after hit to the shields, and in a few seconds the hull. The armada was starting to pull away, some ships jumping instantly into hyper drive, others using the Maw as cover as their emergency repair crews desperately tried to get the drives back online.
"You know, if you wanted to die so bad, I would have gladly shot you rather than have you flark up my ship, Dae," Rika said mockingly.
"It's my ship, you annoying bit of fluff, now let me think... yesss, they are following, coming on hard..." He was slouched back in the crash seat, buckled in tightly, eyes closed, a grim smile on his face. A single fingertip tracing a path on the control pad. "Love, follow this path, exactly, and give me control for the hyper drive... this, is going to suck."
The Eternal Fleet paused: 200 ships pursuing the fleeing assault craft, 50 holding position and 38 chasing the fleeing armada. They closed in on the smaller ship. The bat shaped assault craft got closer, and closer to the Maw. Twisting, and spinning, the strange gravity effects made the ship seem to jump from point to point without traveling the spaces in between. Again and again missiles, and energy beams reached out to embrace the ship, and were torn aside by the Maw. Consumed by the endlessly hungry Maw. Soon even the Eternal Fleet was fighting with the effects of the strange section of space. Their computers failing as reality itself was torn apart due to the chaos of the Maw.
"Master, the armada's away... I think. Can we not do this suicide thing? I don't see the Fleet following us into the Maw, and I think... yeah, we're screwed. We can't break out of the pull. Such a cunning plan."
Lord Amadeaus opened his eyes, electric blue touching the emerald green of his companion's.
"May the force serve us."
The hyper drive screamed...
The Maw screamed...
The Eternal Fleet screamed, and as reality tore and the gravity well filled the vacuum of existence, where the assault ship was, 25 Fleet ships winked out of existence, and 50 more were critically injured as most of the Fleet's drives were fired, and they jumped to safety in Wild Space.
Rubeus Hagrid stared out over the Great Lake. With Hogwarts to his back, he didn't feel the last cold winds coming out of the forests, and mountains to the north. He jiggled his fishing pole and bobber. It was rare for the man to take time off, but he knew in a few days he would be called on to start a mission of such importance he needed to relax, or something could go wrong. While self-aware enough to know he made mistakes, he was simple enough to continue to make them, and compound the problems by trying to fix them. Luckily Professor Dumbledore never held it against him, and in fact did his best to help him correct his mistakes.
Dusk, the lake was placid. The giant squid on the far shore... wait why was the giant squid in the shallows on the far shore? Hagrid's head cocked to one side, that wasn't right. The squid sometimes came up to tease the first-years, but never this early in the evening when there was still daylight.
'The stars sure were bright tonight, and look there was a shooting star, maybe he should wish on it.'
His Da told him it was daft to wish on a star, but they both did it anyway, so... 'wow, that star was super bright,' and he could see the smoke trailing off of it. 'Maybe he should wish it away? No, professor Dumbledore always said, wishing never hurt anyone, but it never accomplished anything either... WOW, that was a big shooting star, looks like a pissed off smoking bat...'
Hagrid turned and ran, for someone so huge, he could sprint over a short distance fast enough to rival the fleetest deer. It wasn't fast enough.
The assault ship hit the lake like a flat stone and skipped. A bow wake exploded over the screaming hull plates turning to instant vapor, and as it cooled the metal, the wake formed into a wall that pursued the running man like an angry swarm of bees.
With a frightened yelp, Hagrid was smacked face first into the long grass of the castle green.
"Ow, well that doesn't happen every day," he muttered to himself.
The black metal ship sat almost 100 meters from the shore, bobbing like the forgotten fishing pole. It steamed and smelled evilly of carbon and algae. It looked evil, and in the middle, there, he saw it, a Were.
Hagrid couldn't tell if it was a wolf or cat-were, but a were it was... and the guy next to her, all evil and white haired in glowing gray armor.
'Nope, can't let this go unchallenged,' he ran to his cottage, and came back in less than three minutes, a huge cross-bow in his fists.
The ship had sunk a little, but was still floating malignantly in the lake, and the staff of Hogwarts was assembling behind Hagrid, with Professor Dumbledore at the head.
"Tell me Hagrid, what have we here?" the old wizard asked. He looked concerned, bothered by the aircraft.
Hagrid knew about airplanes, everybody did, but a muggle craft shouldn't be able to land on the Great lake.
"I don't know professor, it sort of fell on me." Hagrid rumbled softly. He gestured with his cross-bow. "Do you think it's a part of... you know who's newest plan?"
The old professor stroked his beard, making sure to take his time as he pondered the ship. The main port had turned away and the ship couldn't be looked directly into anymore, but it was large enough that five people Hagrid's size could easily dance on it and not make it move in the water.
"I saw a man in there, all long hair and armored. Looked like Lucius Malfoy's taller, eviller brother, and a were."
Dumbledore's head snapped to Hagrid and studied his face. He stared for so long the taller man started to shuffle his feet. Slowly the old wizard reached out, his eyes closed. He felt the wards. They seemed intact, but, agitated.
His mind touched Professor McGonagall's. Together they mentally circled the school, felt the wards, touched the spells. They came back brushing against one another again and again searching for the dropped link, the broken spell, the bashed ward, but there was nothing. Opening their eyes, the two senior wizards looked at one another in panic.
"Minerva, do you suppose?" Dumbledore asked quietly.
The younger witch shook her head, looking into her mentor's eyes. Over 30 years together, Master and student, companions, friends and more. "No, we haven't moved yet. The boy is still with the muggles, and the other's family is still..." Her face darkened, and the fight that the two had been having for the past 11 years bubbled to the fore once more.
"Please Minerva, not now, and not here, you know why I'm doing this." The old man whispered.
He looked resolutely at the ship, then at the woman who was his most trusted confidant, and sounding board; and in the quiet times, antagonist.
Metal moaned, popped and clanged. A hatch on the top of the black ship slammed back and bounced once, before settling to the still steaming metal.
A warm cultured voice called out. "Hello there, could I borrow a cup of sugar?"
Coming soon, Chapter 2: Wands and Owwies.