Geneva Suggestions Part 1
"How is it that they're all making a beeline for Diagon Alley?" Hermione asked the obvious question.
She was right, as always. Their rout was taking them northward on the street they all knew lead to the wizard shopping mall. That they had followed the path of the two alien space ships there was an odd coincidence at best. More likely, they were targeting the alley for attack.
"Well, we've already encountered one alien wizard that was able to pierce the fidelius." Sirius reasoned from behind the steering wheel as they circumvented a pile of steel rebar, shattered wood and broken concrete that had once been an apartment building. "So surely muggle repellent wards and the other protections around Diagon wouldn't prevent them from finding it."
Hermione digested that for all of ten picoseconds before she came up with points to add rapid fire.
"If their technology is orders of magnitude greater than our planet, then does it stand to reason their magic is also orders of magnitude greater than ours?" She asked. "To the point that their wizards are to out wizards what fully trained wizards are to first years?" she asked.
Harry blanched as the terrifying possibility Hermione just invented hit him full force. Ron somehow laughed at it.
"Wouldn't that be amazing?!" Ron said. "Just a normal everyday space wizard comes along and completely wrecks You Know Who for us? Big fish in a little pond discovering the ocean and all of the significantly larger and meaner creatures out there. There's always a bigger fish."
"It's those bigger fish that should concern us, Ron." Harry warned. "I would rather deal with the piranha of Voldemort than whatever qualifies as a great white shark. If they have wizards, they surely have dark wizards."
"Well, we just have to hope their morality has also evolved by orders of magnitudes beyond us." Ron said.
The mental image of a horned humanoid throwing hatred and malice in the form of plasma from his fingertips filled Harry's vision. Teh feel of that living wrath coursing through his body had stayed with him more than the pain of electrocution and burning. Somehow he knew, Ron's optimism was misplaced.
"Well... they are at war, and wizards are good for that." Sirius reasoned. "Maybe they're trying to forcibly enlist us? That or, based on that demon-looking dude that wrecked my windows, they have it out to wipe out wizards before they become such grave threats?"
Hm. So, they're either trying to enslave earth's magical population, or wipe them out. Neither were pleasant possibilities, but fortunately also not substantiated enough by the evidence. Hermione voiced exactly that sentiment.
"Let's not work ourselves up over horrors from deep space before we've actually seen them, yeah?" She suggested. "Now let's get out to that space battle and learn what's what."
Harry couldn't agree more.
Without other traffic on the roads it was only a few more minutes of driving, with Harry, Hermione and Ron clearing the debris out of the road while Sirius drove, before they were nearly upon Daigon Alley.
"Okay." Said Sirius. "Once we get close enough we observe and wait until we decide we are needed. And we will be needed if people need evacuation back to the tent city. No fighting! Got it?"
Before any of the trio could answer in the affirmative a bright red light filled Harry's vision, and with it a loud ringing noise filled his ears. Blind and deaf he felt himself... spinning, tumbling. Flashes of twisted metal, shattered glass and concrete pierced his blurred vision, then blackness.
Darth Maul extinguished his lightsaber as the small, leathery and toothy creature fell dead on the marble floor. He turned to the creature's underling.
"Congratulations on your promotion... Griphook, was it?" He asked the diminutive, but violent creature.
"Correct." Griphook snarled, showing off every razor-sharp tooth.
Maul surveyed the damage to the lovely marble building. Through the shattered window overlooking the ornate lobby that had wowed him. The bodies of these pale, Yoda-looking asshole decorated every countertop and much of the floor. As did the scorch marks of force-lgithing (a skill he was fast becoming better at) and the shattered marble pillars.
"We have a new metal to add to the list of lightsaber resistant materials." Rook said "Beskar, cortosis, phrik, neuranium and now this. What do you call this substance, goblin?"
"Goblin-wrought silver." Griphook told them through gritted teeth.
Imaginative bunch. And indeed, he had been so surprised when his blade was stopped by the spearman at the door that they had actually managed to injure him. Thankfully that poke didn't hit any arteries, but he only needed to make that mistake once before ensuring none of them got the chance again. As he entered the great stone building he cut them down, fighting them as if they were jedi.
He wound up overestimating them, as their martial prowess, though great, could not contend with a force user. He merely cut them down at first, but then larger goblins came storming out from the depths of the building with full plate armor made of the silver material. Funny story, this goblin metal? Highly conductive. Moreso than gold, actually. What's more, none of these creatures were immune to being choked out with the force.
They fell like a stack of sabacc cards. And then finding the leader became trivial. As was killing him.
"I am pleased to find you so cooperative." Maul said. "I came here hoping to test the capabilities of your people in this world, but near as I can tell you have no, ehem, magic to speak of."
"Then you are not as perceptive as you believe." Griphook informed him. "It may behoove you to take a closer look at one of our weapons."
Darth maul turned on the dead leader and the silver rapier in his cold, dead hands. He picked it up and looked closely at it. He noted many carved symbols in what must have been these creatures' language. But beyond that he could decipher nothing about the object. until he reached out with the force.
Swiftness. Protection. Strength. The words spoke to him as clearly as if the object had been touched by Sith alchemy. He could identify its exact properties. Heightened speed and reflexes of the wielder, and protection of the item itself against age and damage. It was magnificent. Did these people specialize in applying their magic unto items and places like Sith alchemists of old? If so, they could prove useful.
It was in that moment that the dark eye probe droids returned from their trip into the cave systems below the building. They transferred their data to his holo projector and he turned it on immediately and marveled at the killik hive of tunnels it displayed.
"Wow." Kast said. "There's an entire city down there!"
Indeed. Tens of thousands of miles of tunnels had been mapped out by the dark eye droids echolocation, and they hadn't even finished. The long tunnels were lined with massive steel doors, likely as enchanted as these weapons.
"Why do your people live behind such impressive doors?" Rook asked. "Are you under such constant attack by ene4mies that would necessitate such living conditions?"
Griphook gave them a look as if he were looking at the mentally deficient, it was a look that Maul considered choking him over, but was more curious to know what types of enemies they were facing.
"Those are not our abodes. Your... machines did not penetrate our tunnels deep enough to find our city. Those, are vault doors." Griphook explained.
Maul couldn't stop his eyebrows from shooting up as high as they could go. Rooks next words mirrored Maul's thoughts.
"What manner of creatures are you storing in those?! Rancors?" Rook demanded.
Well, Maul's mind had gone straight to Rathtar and Voxyn, but either way he was dying to see what manner of creatures the Force parody on this world had produced that would need to be protected in such vaulted Arks of sorts. It likely explained how the civilization of humans on the planets surface could thrive so peacefully, if these Goblins were tasked with keeping them preserved and contained.
"I... creatures? Rancor?" Griphook said. "We don't keep living things in those vaults you madmen! We keep gold! And silver, or copper or gemstones."
Maul looked to Rook and Kast.
"...Wwwwhyyy?" Kast asked. "Do you also manufacture all of the worlds electronics or something?"
"Electronics? What?! No, its money!" Griphook said. "This is a bank!"
The goblin was obviously losing his patience, but the purpose of this facility was readily made obvious.
Maul, Kast and Rook burst out in laughter.
"Oh wow, this world is even less developed than we thought. You use scarce materials as currency here?" Kast asked. "Wow, I've never actually been to a world that does that."
"I have." Said Maul. "Very remote worlds with stone age civilizations, usually using shells or other such natural resources."
Griphook was now looking between them like they were mad.
"What do you people use as currency?" He asked.
Hmmm. How to explain it to a person who used a wonderfully conductive metal like gold as currency instead of for electronic applications?
"Well, when you get to the point that you can travel amongst the stars, harvesting asteroids for certain elements becomes trivial." Maul explained. "I could fly up right now and return in a week with an asteroid in your solar system so rich in gold it will devalue your currency to nothing. And that's with sub-light speed travel."
Griphook paled at this revelation.
"Our currency, credits, are based on the same thing most currency is based on. Faith." Maul simplified. "But also labor. The value is actually constantly adjusted based on who is guaranteeing it and what that group is valued at in relation to others. It's not how much gold, land or wealth you have that makes you wealthy. It's how much wealth you an provide others. So a star system that specializes in mining has it's own currency, as does another system that specializes in agriculture, and their exchange rate is based on that. Essentially, land, space, materials and the like are so abundant in the universe that we all just circled right back around to plain old barter."
Griphook developed a look of deep thought at that.
"That must require a lot of computing to keep track of the relative values of currency." He said.
"Not really." Said Kast. "Firstly, most systems DO specialize in something like mining, agriculture or some service or other, such as our people serving as private militias for anybody willing to pay. The value of our currency is based on how much people respect our ability to kick other peoples asses. They rarely branch out, and even if they do it takes a generation or two to fully retool and retrain a species or planet and is almost pointless because they would have to compete directly with worlds that already fill that niche and have been doing so for millennia sometimes, so it's almost unheard of."
Maul noted the dark look they shared at the reminder of their Satine Kryz's attempt to force the Mandalorean people to do exactly that. Hence why they were even here.
"So the currency exchange rates remain mostly stable, and what's more most systems form collective currencies with partner worlds or systems, or are just outright part of the galactic republic which issues and maintains a currency taking into account all of the above." Rook finished.
The goblin absorbed all of this like it was as simple as basic accounting. And if this was a race of bankers, then surely it was.
"So it's an objective standard of value, like our gold back currency, but a relative one at the same time?" Griphook verified.
"Exactly!" Maul said.
"And the centralized credit makers are objective in determining the exchange rate without fudging the numbers." Griphook said win a completely flat tone.
"Nope. Not once." Said Maul, in a similarly sarcastic flat tone.
"The central bank has never been shown to maliciously fudge the exchange rate of a specific world or system for the benefit of bribers or friends." Kast said in that same flat tone.
"Or at least, not in court." Rook finished with a smirk. "But that's because such cases never got to court."
Ah, the joys of democracy and republicanism. Hence the Sith. Would their rule be fair and impartial? No. But it wasn't about fairness or impartiality. It was about having the power to enact retribution on all of this corrupt scum for the inevitably short period they would be in power, before the cycle repeated all over again. The Sith were a necessary evil, made necessary by the slow, weak and slippery evil that the Jedi and galaxy at large refuses to admit exists. And the joy on his face when he finally gets to carve the Mu'un leaders, Hutts and republic senators like carcasses would make it all worthwhile.
If the Jedi actually did their job and wiped out the evil and corruption they claimed to fight then the Sith would be unnecessary. God he hoped the Jedi neve woke up and became the force for good they claimed to be. Else he'd have to become a Jedi.
Then, finally, he heard it. The sound he'd been waiting for. The marching of armored boots on stone as the cavalry finally arrived. Or began closing in. He pressed a button on the holo projector and the elaborate map of tunnels was replaced with a holo feed of the tunnel exits.
Hundreds, thousands of the goblins spewed forth from the tunnels towards the Bank lobby. He still couldn't believe this was a bank. Just a bank.
"They will not slow down nor show hesitance due to your having a hostage." Griphook warned with a vicious grin. "And word on your abilities has already reached them.
Maul returned the goblin's grin, though his held more mockery than malice.
"And I'm sure their magics allowed them to adapt their armor for protection against my lightning and telekinesis, yes?" He confirmed. "Well then, it's a good thing I won't be fighting them."
"Well then. It's a good thing I won't be the one fighting them." Maul said.
"Oh? And will your two soldiers be the army to finally take down the Goblin nation?" Griphook boasted.
"No." Said Maul with a grin." My army will not be making war with you."
He reached into both robe pockets with both hands and withdrew two devices with identical function but different designs and held them up to the light, admiring the two tracking devices that the Jedi and Dooku had planted on his ship.
"Their armies will." He declared as the bombardment from republic and separatist ships began outside.
Harry groaned as he lifted himself off of the rough asphalt and fought the pain from he many scrapes. Scrapes seemed the wrong word to describe how hi knees, thigh, hands and elbows had been reduced to ground meat. But scrapes was the best word he had for it.
finding his wand where he had let it inside he robes he managed to at least clean all of the scrapes with a scourgify, which felt like every inch of the scrape being picked clean with tweezers, and gritted his teeth. Fortunately the spell didn't open the rapidly forming scabs like he feared an actual water charm would do. With the wounds cleaned he reached a shaking hand back into his robes to fish out the vial of wiggenweld potion he had been forced to keep on his person at all times by Snape.
He mentally thanked the greasy professor for the first time in his life.
Downing it, he felt the scrapes knit themselves back together. The instant relief giving rise to the uncomfortable itching of a healed scab, but on each of his injuries. What he wouldn't have given for a steel dish scrubber right then. But then he remembered where he was and how he got there.
"Sirius! Ron! Hermione!" He yelled.
"Over here Harry!" He heard Hermione's voice from behind the wreckage of Dung's van.
He sprinted towards the voice and came around the wreckage to see Ron and Hermione leaning over a black, shaggy dog. If Siriuswas hurt enough to revert to Padfoot i t must be bad.
"He's unconscious, but I have no idea where or how he's hurt. I'm scared to move him." Hermione told Harry without preamble.
He crouched next to them to look at his dogfather and his concern rose. His breathing was shallow and broken and he was shaking all over as if from cold. Definitely in pain, even while unconscious. With what little medical knowledge he had, mostly absorbed from being hurt so often himself and put in Pomphrey's care, the best he could guess was that something was broken or ruptured. Or both. Either way, they couldn't risk moving him but also had no way to identify what was wrong with him or heal him.
Their wiggenweld potions couldn't heal organ damage or broken bones or even bruises, only minor external wounds like cuts and scrapes. And even then only to an extend. Harry's recently knit-together skin was already taught and tender and starting to burn from all of the movement.
"We need to call for help." Ron said. "Who should we send a patronus to? I think headquarters is closer."
Send a patronus? What? How would a patronus help them.
"Harry, send a message with prongs to headquarters. Tell them where we are." Hermione said.
"Um... How would that help?" He asked. "And do we even know where we are?"
Hermione looked at him in disappointment.
"Harry, are you telling me professor Lupin didn't teach you how to send messages with the patronus?" She asked, dumbfounded. "And we're just south of Diagon Alley, that ought to be good enough, shouldn't it?"
Before Harry could explain how he hadn't even known the patronus could send messages, all of their attentions were grabbed by a loud crash of rubble just up the street. Standing up they each turned to look at it, pointing their wands and ready to strike back. They backed down just a teensy bit when an honest to god tank rolled onto the street... well, not so much rolled as hovered. The crescent shaped vehicle was covered around the base with holes that Harry was certain could fire lasers nearly as large as the giant cannon on top just had at them minutes beforehand.
That it shared the same color scheme and design philosophy as the robots marching beside it told Harry exactly what enemy they were facing.
He stepped forward all the same, hardening his face and his heart for a fight.
"Ron? Hermione?" He asked.
"Have you gone completely army?!" Ron asked, in obvious offense. "After all we've been through you have the gall to ask?"
"Honestly Harry, what's gotten into you?" Hermione told him as they both stepped up to stand beside him. "We stuck with you through trolls, cerberi, basilisks, dragons and mermaids but you think we'd run away at the first apocalypse by alien invasion? You give us too little credit."
She was right. He needed to be better about that.
Chapter 10 preview:
Aayla Secura finished her slice into the exhaust shaft from her hiding place in the maintenance shaft adjacent to it.
It had been days since the battle on that Mandalorean space station, and the hunger was getting to her. Condensation from cooling units for this machine and that was the only thing that kept her burns and cuts from infecting and her from dying of dehydration. But she needed food. She needed it desperately, and the droid command ship was sorely lacking in it, and sneaking onto the transport carrier had born none either. Droids need not eat, who knew?!
She wasn't crazy enough to sneak to the Nemoidian quarters or, dumber still, Dooku's quarters, wherever those were, so she had instead smuggled onto one of the carriers and waited. Deep meditation saved the day, but she was never great at fasting meditation. She was always more of a doer and today, finally, the carrier took flight. They were landing somewhere, somewhere with enemies, who were likely people. And people have food. She'd just have to fight her way to it.
Based on the sound of the flashing of metal on metal and storm of blaster fire she heard from beyond the exhaust pipe, a fight she would have.
And so, through the hole she went, being careful not to touch any of the surrounding metal with bare skin. With her hands wrapped in her robes she scaled down the pipe towards the light and noise, emerging into bright, yellow sunlight... and a storm of spears, blaster fire and arrows.
On instinct, guided by the force, she ignited and raised her lightsaber and blocked... something long and green and made of light but that felt like the force died where it touched.
She screamed and backed away from the hideous feeling, resisting the urge to cut herself off from the force to not feel it anymore.
"My goodness." Came a high pitched, hissing voice that she could instantly tell belonged to an incarnation of the dark side most foul. "Aren't you a delightful little thing to look at. Good reflexes too."
She saw the speaker, and blanched. She knew it was human, or supposed to be, but so twisted by whatever dark side rituals he had resorted to in a pursuit of something foul that he now resembled a Nemoidian crossed with a Trandoshan. Here she was in desperate need and want of a womprat burger facing down an obviously powerful Sith lord.
"I know not what a womp rat burger or Sith Lord is, but one sounds delicious and one flattering. So, thank you." Said the reptilian man.
Oh. He was in her head... That could prove problematic.
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